At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 56

slid noiselessly
into the water. Up and down the long tank she swam, turning at the
ends as you have seen captive seals turn in their tiny tanks, turning
upon their backs and diving below the surface.

Nearer and nearer to the island she came until at last she remained at
rest before the largest, which was directly opposite her throne.
Raising her hideous head from the water she fixed her great, round eyes
upon the slaves. They were fat and sleek, for they had been brought
from a distant Mahar city where human beings are kept in droves, and
bred and fattened, as we breed and fatten beef cattle.

The queen fixed her gaze upon a plump young maiden. Her victim tried
to turn away, hiding her face in her hands and kneeling behind a woman;
but the reptile, with unblinking eyes, stared on with such fixity that
I could have sworn her vision penetrated the woman, and the girl's arms
to reach at last the very center of her brain.

Slowly the reptile's head commenced to move to and fro, but the eyes
never ceased to bore toward the frightened girl, and then the victim
responded. She turned wide, fear-haunted eyes toward the Mahar queen,
slowly she rose to her feet, and then as though dragged by some unseen
power she moved as one in a trance straight toward the reptile, her
glassy eyes fixed upon those of her captor. To the water's edge she
came, nor did she even pause, but stepped into the shallows beside the
little island. On she moved toward the Mahar, who now slowly retreated
as though leading her victim on. The water rose to the girl's knees,
and still she advanced, chained by that clammy eye. Now the water was
at her waist; now her armpits. Her fellows upon the island looked on
in horror, helpless to avert her doom in which they saw a forecast of
their own.

The Mahar sank now till only the long upper bill and eyes were exposed
above the surface of the water, and the girl had advanced until the end
of that repulsive beak was but an inch or two from her face, her
horror-filled eyes riveted upon those of the reptile.

Now the water passed above the girl's mouth and nose--her eyes and
forehead all that showed--yet still she walked on after the retreating
Mahar. The queen's head slowly disappeared beneath the surface and
after it went the eyes of her victim--only a slow ripple widened toward
the shores to

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