At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 63

down to the beach, for the scene was very
beautiful. As I passed along beside the deep and tangled vegetation of
the swamp I thought that I saw a movement of the ferns at my left, but
though I stopped a moment to look it was not repeated, and if anything
lay hid there my eyes could not penetrate the dense foliage to discern
it.

Presently I stood upon the beach looking out over the wide and lonely
sea across whose forbidding bosom no human being had yet ventured, to
discover what strange and mysterious lands lay beyond, or what its
invisible islands held of riches, wonders, or adventure. What savage
faces, what fierce and formidable beasts were this very instant
watching the lapping of the waves upon its farther shore! How far did
it extend? Perry had told me that the seas of Pellucidar were small in
comparison with those of the outer crust, but even so this great ocean
might stretch its broad expanse for thousands of miles. For countless
ages it had rolled up and down its countless miles of shore, and yet
today it remained all unknown beyond the tiny strip that was visible
from its beaches.

The fascination of speculation was strong upon me. It was as though I
had been carried back to the birth time of our own outer world to look
upon its lands and seas ages before man had traversed either. Here was
a new world, all untouched. It called to me to explore it. I was
dreaming of the excitement and adventure which lay before us could
Perry and I but escape the Mahars, when something, a slight noise I
imagine, drew my attention behind me.

As I turned, romance, adventure, and discovery in the abstract took
wing before the terrible embodiment of all three in concrete form that
I beheld advancing upon me.

A huge, slimy amphibian it was, with toad-like body and the mighty jaws
of an alligator. Its immense carcass must have weighed tons, and yet
it moved swiftly and silently toward me. Upon one hand was the bluff
that ran from the canyon to the sea, on the other the fearsome swamp
from which the creature had sneaked upon me, behind lay the mighty
untracked sea, and before me in the center of the narrow way that led
to safety stood this huge mountain of terrible and menacing flesh.

A single glance at the thing was sufficient to assure me that I was
facing one of those long-extinct, prehistoric creatures whose
fossilized

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