At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 74

are killed. Thus it has
happened that several mighty warriors from far distant lands, whom we
have captured on our slave raids, have battled the brutes turned in
upon them and slain them, thereby winning their freedom. In the
instance which you witnessed the beasts killed each other, but the
result was the same--the man and woman were liberated, furnished with
weapons, and started on their homeward journey. Upon the left shoulder
of each a mark was burned--the mark of the Mahars--which will forever
protect these two from slaving parties."

"There is a slender chance for me then if I be sent to the arena, and
none at all if the learned ones drag me to the pits?"

"You are quite right," he replied; "but do not felicitate yourself too
quickly should you be sent to the arena, for there is scarce one in a
thousand who comes out alive."

To my surprise they returned me to the same building in which I had
been confined with Perry and Ghak before my escape. At the doorway I
was turned over to the guards there.

"He will doubtless be called before the investigators shortly," said he
who had brought me back, "so have him in readiness."

The guards in whose hands I now found myself, upon hearing that I had
returned of my own volition to Phutra evidently felt that it would be
safe to give me liberty within the building as had been the custom
before I had escaped, and so I was told to return to whatever duty had
been mine formerly.

My first act was to hunt up Perry, whom I found poring as usual over
the great tomes that he was supposed to be merely dusting and
rearranging upon new shelves.

As I entered the room he glanced up and nodded pleasantly to me, only
to resume his work as though I had never been away at all. I was both
astonished and hurt at his indifference. And to think that I was
risking death to return to him purely from a sense of duty and
affection!

"Why, Perry!" I exclaimed, "haven't you a word for me after my long
absence?"

"Long absence!" he repeated in evident astonishment. "What do you
mean?"

"Are you crazy, Perry? Do you mean to say that you have not missed me
since that time we were separated by the charging thag within the
arena?"

"'That time'," he repeated. "Why man, I have but just returned from
the arena! You reached here almost as soon as I. Had you been much
later I

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