At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 93

the sea, so that to pass around them as I
desired to do it was necessary to scale them in search of a ledge along
which I might continue my journey. Some fifty feet from the base I
came upon a projection which formed a natural path along the face of
the cliff, and this I followed out over the sea toward the cliff's end.

Here the ledge inclined rapidly upward toward the top of the
cliffs--the stratum which formed it evidently having been forced up at
this steep angle when the mountains behind it were born. As I climbed
carefully up the ascent my attention suddenly was attracted aloft by
the sound of strange hissing, and what resembled the flapping of wings.

And at the first glance there broke upon my horrified vision the most
frightful thing I had seen even within Pellucidar. It was a giant
dragon such as is pictured in the legends and fairy tales of earth
folk. Its huge body must have measured forty feet in length, while the
batlike wings that supported it in midair had a spread of fully thirty.
Its gaping jaws were armed with long, sharp teeth, and its claw
equipped with horrible talons.

The hissing noise which had first attracted my attention was issuing
from its throat, and seemed to be directed at something beyond and
below me which I could not see. The ledge upon which I stood
terminated abruptly a few paces farther on, and as I reached the end I
saw the cause of the reptile's agitation.

Some time in past ages an earthquake had produced a fault at this
point, so that beyond the spot where I stood the strata had slipped
down a matter of twenty feet. The result was that the continuation of
my ledge lay twenty feet below me, where it ended as abruptly as did
the end upon which I stood.

And here, evidently halted in flight by this insurmountable break in
the ledge, stood the object of the creature's attack--a girl cowering
upon the narrow platform, her face buried in her arms, as though to
shut out the sight of the frightful death which hovered just above her.

The dragon was circling lower, and seemed about to dart in upon its
prey. There was no time to be lost, scarce an instant in which to
weigh the possible chances that I had against the awfully armed
creature; but the sight of that frightened girl below me called out to
all that was best in me, and the instinct for

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