At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 58

devouring two and three of the slaves, there
were only a score of full-grown men left, and I thought that for some
reason these were to be spared, but such was far from the case, for as
the last Mahar crawled to her rock the queen's thipdars darted into the
air, circled the temple once and then, hissing like steam engines,
swooped down upon the remaining slaves.

There was no hypnotism here--just the plain, brutal ferocity of the
beast of prey, tearing, rending, and gulping its meat, but at that it
was less horrible than the uncanny method of the Mahars. By the time
the thipdars had disposed of the last of the slaves the Mahars were all
asleep upon their rocks, and a moment later the great pterodactyls
swung back to their posts beside the queen, and themselves dropped into
slumber.

"I thought the Mahars seldom, if ever, slept," I said to Ja.

"They do many things in this temple which they do not do elsewhere," he
replied. "The Mahars of Phutra are not supposed to eat human flesh,
yet slaves are brought here by thousands and almost always you will
find Mahars on hand to consume them. I imagine that they do not bring
their Sagoths here, because they are ashamed of the practice, which is
supposed to obtain only among the least advanced of their race; but I
would wager my canoe against a broken paddle that there is no Mahar but
eats human flesh whenever she can get it."

"Why should they object to eating human flesh," I asked, "if it is true
that they look upon us as lower animals?"

"It is not because they consider us their equals that they are supposed
to look with abhorrence upon those who eat our flesh," replied Ja; "it
is merely that we are warm-blooded animals. They would not think of
eating the meat of a thag, which we consider such a delicacy, any more
than I would think of eating a snake. As a matter of fact it is
difficult to explain just why this sentiment should exist among them."

"I wonder if they left a single victim," I remarked, leaning far out of
the opening in the rocky wall to inspect the temple better. Directly
below me the water lapped the very side of the wall, there being a
break in the bowlders at this point as there was at several other
places about the side of the temple.

My hands were resting upon a small piece of granite which formed a part
of the wall,

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