At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 36

compass to guide you?"

Ghak didn't know what Perry meant by heavenly bodies or a compass, but
he assured us that you might blindfold any man of Pellucidar and carry
him to the farthermost corner of the world, yet he would be able to
come directly to his own home again by the shortest route. He seemed
surprised to think that we found anything wonderful in it. Perry said
it must be some sort of homing instinct such as is possessed by certain
breeds of earthly pigeons. I didn't know, of course, but it gave me an
idea.

"Then Dian could have found her way directly to her own people?" I
asked.

"Surely," replied Ghak, "unless some mighty beast of prey killed her."

I was for making the attempted escape at once, but both Perry and Ghak
counseled waiting for some propitious accident which would insure us
some small degree of success. I didn't see what accident could befall
a whole community in a land of perpetual day-light where the
inhabitants had no fixed habits of sleep. Why, I am sure that some of
the Mahars never sleep, while others may, at long intervals, crawl into
the dark recesses beneath their dwellings and curl up in protracted
slumber. Perry says that if a Mahar stays awake for three years he
will make up all his lost sleep in a long year's snooze. That may be
all true, but I never saw but three of them asleep, and it was the
sight of these three that gave me a suggestion for our means of escape.

I had been searching about far below the levels that we slaves were
supposed to frequent--possibly fifty feet beneath the main floor of the
building--among a network of corridors and apartments, when I came
suddenly upon three Mahars curled up upon a bed of skins. At first I
thought they were dead, but later their regular breathing convinced me
of my error. Like a flash the thought came to me of the marvelous
opportunity these sleeping reptiles offered as a means of eluding the
watchfulness of our captors and the Sagoth guards.

Hastening back to Perry where he pored over a musty pile of, to me,
meaningless hieroglyphics, I explained my plan to him. To my surprise
he was horrified.

"It would be murder, David," he cried.

"Murder to kill a reptilian monster?" I asked in astonishment.

"Here they are not monsters, David," he replied. "Here they are the
dominant race--we are the 'monsters'--the lower orders. In Pellucidar
evolution has progressed along

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