At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 83

purpose than I had hoped. We managed to keep the
heads erect by passing our swords up through the necks, and by the same
means were enabled to move them about in a life-like manner. We had
our greatest difficulty with the webbed feet, but even that problem was
finally solved, so that when we moved about we did so quite naturally.
Tiny holes punctured in the baggy throats into which our heads were
thrust permitted us to see well enough to guide our progress.

Thus we started up toward the main floor of the building. Ghak headed
the strange procession, then came Perry, followed by Hooja, while I
brought up the rear, after admonishing Hooja that I had so arranged my
sword that I could thrust it through the head of my disguise into his
vitals were he to show any indication of faltering.

As the noise of hurrying feet warned me that we were entering the busy
corridors of the main level, my heart came up into my mouth. It is
with no sense of shame that I admit that I was frightened--never before
in my life, nor since, did I experience any such agony of soulsearing
fear and suspense as enveloped me. If it be possible to sweat blood, I
sweat it then.

Slowly, after the manner of locomotion habitual to the Mahars, when
they are not using their wings, we crept through throngs of busy
slaves, Sagoths, and Mahars. After what seemed an eternity we reached
the outer door which leads into the main avenue of Phutra. Many
Sagoths loitered near the opening. They glanced at Ghak as he padded
between them. Then Perry passed, and then Hooja. Now it was my turn,
and then in a sudden fit of freezing terror I realized that the warm
blood from my wounded arm was trickling down through the dead foot of
the Mahar skin I wore and leaving its tell-tale mark upon the pavement,
for I saw a Sagoth call a companion's attention to it.

The guard stepped before me and pointing to my bleeding foot spoke to
me in the sign language which these two races employ as a means of
communication. Even had I known what he was saying I could not have
replied with the dead thing that covered me. I once had seen a great
Mahar freeze a presumptuous Sagoth with a look. It seemed my only
hope, and so I tried it. Stopping in my tracks I moved my sword so
that

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