At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 53

are the windings of these trails, so varied the connecting
links and the distances which one must retrace one's steps from the
paths' ends to find them that a Mezop often reaches man's estate before
he is familiar even with those which lead from his own city to the sea.

In fact three-fourths of the education of the young male Mezop consists
in familiarizing himself with these jungle avenues, and the status of
an adult is largely determined by the number of trails which he can
follow upon his own island. The females never learn them, since from
birth to death they never leave the clearing in which the village of
their nativity is situated except they be taken to mate by a male from
another village, or captured in war by the enemies of their tribe.

After proceeding through the jungle for what must have been upward of
five miles we emerged suddenly into a large clearing in the exact
center of which stood as strange an appearing village as one might well
imagine.

Large trees had been chopped down fifteen or twenty feet above the
ground, and upon the tops of them spherical habitations of woven twigs,
mud covered, had been built. Each ball-like house was surmounted by
some manner of carven image, which Ja told me indicated the identity of
the owner.

Horizontal slits, six inches high and two or three feet wide, served to
admit light and ventilation. The entrances to the house were through
small apertures in the bases of the trees and thence upward by rude
ladders through the hollow trunks to the rooms above. The houses
varied in size from two to several rooms. The largest that I entered
was divided into two floors and eight apartments.

All about the village, between it and the jungle, lay beautifully
cultivated fields in which the Mezops raised such cereals, fruits, and
vegetables as they required. Women and children were working in these
gardens as we crossed toward the village. At sight of Ja they saluted
deferentially, but to me they paid not the slightest attention. Among
them and about the outer verge of the cultivated area were many
warriors. These too saluted Ja, by touching the points of their spears
to the ground directly before them.

Ja conducted me to a large house in the center of the village--the
house with eight rooms--and taking me up into it gave me food and
drink. There I met his mate, a comely girl with a nursing baby in her
arms. Ja told her

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