At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 92

clothed them to the foot of the red and
yellow and copper green of the towering crags which formed their
summit. The valley itself was carpeted with a luxuriant grass, while
here and there patches of wild flowers made great splashes of vivid
color against the prevailing green.

Dotted over the face of the valley were little clusters of palmlike
trees--three or four together as a rule. Beneath these stood antelope,
while others grazed in the open, or wandered gracefully to a nearby
ford to drink. There were several species of this beautiful animal,
the most magnificent somewhat resembling the giant eland of Africa,
except that their spiral horns form a complete curve backward over
their ears and then forward again beneath them, ending in sharp and
formidable points some two feet before the face and above the eyes. In
size they remind one of a pure bred Hereford bull, yet they are very
agile and fast. The broad yellow bands that stripe the dark roan of
their coats made me take them for zebra when I first saw them. All in
all they are handsome animals, and added the finishing touch to the
strange and lovely landscape that spread before my new home.

I had determined to make the cave my headquarters, and with it as a
base make a systematic exploration of the surrounding country in search
of the land of Sari. First I devoured the remainder of the carcass of
the orthopi I had killed before my last sleep. Then I hid the Great
Secret in a deep niche at the back of my cave, rolled the bowlder
before my front door, and with bow, arrows, sword, and shield scrambled
down into the peaceful valley.

The grazing herds moved to one side as I passed through them, the
little orthopi evincing the greatest wariness and galloping to safest
distances. All the animals stopped feeding as I approached, and after
moving to what they considered a safe distance stood contemplating me
with serious eyes and up-cocked ears. Once one of the old bull
antelopes of the striped species lowered his head and bellowed
angrily--even taking a few steps in my direction, so that I thought he
meant to charge; but after I had passed, he resumed feeding as though
nothing had disturbed him.

Near the lower end of the valley I passed a number of tapirs, and
across the river saw a great sadok, the enormous double-horned
progenitor of the modern rhinoceros. At the valley's end the cliffs
upon the left ran out into

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