At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 6

pirate swear, but his best efforts
would have seemed like those of a tyro alongside of Perry's masterful
and scientific imprecations.

Once more I tried my hand at the wheel, but I might as well have
essayed to swing the earth itself. At my suggestion Perry stopped the
generator, and as we came to rest I again threw all my strength into a
supreme effort to move the thing even a hair's breadth--but the results
were as barren as when we had been traveling at top speed.

I shook my head sadly, and motioned to the starting lever. Perry
pulled it toward him, and once again we were plunging downward toward
eternity at the rate of seven miles an hour. I sat with my eyes glued
to the thermometer and the distance meter. The mercury was rising very
slowly now, though even at 145 degrees it was almost unbearable within
the narrow confines of our metal prison.

About noon, or twelve hours after our start upon this unfortunate
journey, we had bored to a depth of eighty-four miles, at which point
the mercury registered 153 degrees F.

Perry was becoming more hopeful, although upon what meager food he
sustained his optimism I could not conjecture. From cursing he had
turned to singing--I felt that the strain had at last affected his
mind. For several hours we had not spoken except as he asked me for
the readings of the instruments from time to time, and I announced
them. My thoughts were filled with vain regrets. I recalled numerous
acts of my past life which I should have been glad to have had a few
more years to live down. There was the affair in the Latin Commons at
Andover when Calhoun and I had put gunpowder in the stove--and nearly
killed one of the masters. And then--but what was the use, I was about
to die and atone for all these things and several more. Already the
heat was sufficient to give me a foretaste of the hereafter. A few
more degrees and I felt that I should lose consciousness.

"What are the readings now, David?" Perry's voice broke in upon my
somber reflections.

"Ninety miles and 153 degrees," I replied.

"Gad, but we've knocked that thirty-mile-crust theory into a cocked
hat!" he cried gleefully.

"Precious lot of good it will do us," I growled back.

"But my boy," he continued, "doesn't that temperature reading mean
anything to you? Why it hasn't gone up in six miles. Think of it,
son!"

"Yes, I'm thinking of

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121 5 wont.