At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 34

that we were handling the
ancient archives of the race.

During this period my thoughts were continually upon Dian the
Beautiful. I was, of course, glad that she had escaped the Mahars, and
the fate that had been suggested by the Sagoth who had threatened to
purchase her upon our arrival at Phutra. I often wondered if the
little party of fugitives had been overtaken by the guards who had
returned to search for them. Sometimes I was not so sure but that I
should have been more contented to know that Dian was here in Phutra,
than to think of her at the mercy of Hooja the Sly One. Ghak, Perry,
and I often talked together of possible escape, but the Sarian was so
steeped in his lifelong belief that no one could escape from the Mahars
except by a miracle, that he was not much aid to us--his attitude was
of one who waits for the miracle to come to him.

At my suggestion Perry and I fashioned some swords of scraps of iron
which we discovered among some rubbish in the cells where we slept, for
we were permitted almost unrestrained freedom of action within the
limits of the building to which we had been assigned. So great were
the number of slaves who waited upon the inhabitants of Phutra that
none of us was apt to be overburdened with work, nor were our masters
unkind to us.

We hid our new weapons beneath the skins which formed our beds, and
then Perry conceived the idea of making bows and arrows--weapons
apparently unknown within Pellucidar. Next came shields; but these I
found it easier to steal from the walls of the outer guardroom of the
building.

We had completed these arrangements for our protection after leaving
Phutra when the Sagoths who had been sent to recapture the escaped
prisoners returned with four of them, of whom Hooja was one. Dian and
two others had eluded them. It so happened that Hooja was confined in
the same building with us. He told Ghak that he had not seen Dian or
the others after releasing them within the dark grotto. What had
become of them he had not the faintest conception--they might be
wandering yet, lost within the labyrinthine tunnel, if not dead from
starvation.

I was now still further apprehensive as to the fate of Dian, and at
this time, I imagine, came the first realization that my affection for
the girl might be prompted by more than friendship. During my waking
hours she was

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