At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 59

and all my weight upon it proved too much for it. It
slipped and I lunged forward. There was nothing to save myself and I
plunged headforemost into the water below.

Fortunately the tank was deep at this point, and I suffered no injury
from the fall, but as I was rising to the surface my mind filled with
the horrors of my position as I thought of the terrible doom which
awaited me the moment the eyes of the reptiles fell upon the creature
that had disturbed their slumber.

As long as I could I remained beneath the surface, swimming rapidly in
the direction of the islands that I might prolong my life to the
utmost. At last I was forced to rise for air, and as I cast a
terrified glance in the direction of the Mahars and the thipdars I was
almost stunned to see that not a single one remained upon the rocks
where I had last seen them, nor as I searched the temple with my eyes
could I discern any within it.

For a moment I was puzzled to account for the thing, until I realized
that the reptiles, being deaf, could not have been disturbed by the
noise my body made when it hit the water, and that as there is no such
thing as time within Pellucidar there was no telling how long I had
been beneath the surface. It was a difficult thing to attempt to
figure out by earthly standards--this matter of elapsed time--but when
I set myself to it I began to realize that I might have been submerged
a second or a month or not at all. You have no conception of the
strange contradictions and impossibilities which arise when all methods
of measuring time, as we know them upon earth, are non-existent.

I was about to congratulate myself upon the miracle which had saved me
for the moment, when the memory of the hypnotic powers of the Mahars
filled me with apprehension lest they be practicing their uncanny art
upon me to the end that I merely imagined that I was alone in the
temple. At the thought cold sweat broke out upon me from every pore,
and as I crawled from the water onto one of the tiny islands I was
trembling like a leaf--you cannot imagine the awful horror which even
the simple thought of the repulsive Mahars of Pellucidar induces in the
human mind, and to feel that you are in their power--that they are
crawling, slimy, and abhorrent, to drag you

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