At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 49

the fellow. He was indeed a brother-man, and that he
might have killed me with pleasure had he caught me was forgotten in
the extremity of his danger.

Unconsciously I had ceased paddling as the serpent rose to engage my
pursuer, so now the skiff still drifted close beside the two. The
monster seemed to be but playing with his victim before he closed his
awful jaws upon him and dragged him down to his dark den beneath the
surface to devour him. The huge, snakelike body coiled and uncoiled
about its prey. The hideous, gaping jaws snapped in the victim's face.
The forked tongue, lightning-like, ran in and out upon the copper skin.

Nobly the giant battled for his life, beating with his stone hatchet
against the bony armor that covered that frightful carcass; but for all
the damage he inflicted he might as well have struck with his open palm.

At last I could endure no longer to sit supinely by while a fellowman
was dragged down to a horrible death by that repulsive reptile.
Embedded in the prow of the skiff lay the spear that had been cast
after me by him whom I suddenly desired to save. With a wrench I tore
it loose, and standing upright in the wobbly log drove it with all the
strength of my two arms straight into the gaping jaws of the
hydrophidian.

With a loud hiss the creature abandoned its prey to turn upon me, but
the spear, imbedded in its throat, prevented it from seizing me though
it came near to overturning the skiff in its mad efforts to reach me.




VIII

THE MAHAR TEMPLE


The aborigine, apparently uninjured, climbed quickly into the skiff,
and seizing the spear with me helped to hold off the infuriated
creature. Blood from the wounded reptile was now crimsoning the waters
about us and soon from the weakening struggles it became evident that I
had inflicted a death wound upon it. Presently its efforts to reach us
ceased entirely, and with a few convulsive movements it turned upon its
back quite dead.

And then there came to me a sudden realization of the predicament in
which I had placed myself. I was entirely within the power of the
savage man whose skiff I had stolen. Still clinging to the spear I
looked into his face to find him scrutinizing me intently, and there we
stood for some several minutes, each clinging tenaciously to the weapon
the while we gazed in stupid wonderment at each other.

What was in his mind I

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