At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 60

down beneath the waters and
devour you! It is frightful.

But they did not come, and at last I came to the conclusion that I was
indeed alone within the temple. How long I should be alone was the
next question to assail me as I swam frantically about once more in
search of a means to escape.

Several times I called to Ja, but he must have left after I tumbled
into the tank, for I received no response to my cries. Doubtless he
had felt as certain of my doom when he saw me topple from our hiding
place as I had, and lest he too should be discovered, had hastened from
the temple and back to his village.

I knew that there must be some entrance to the building beside the
doorways in the roof, for it did not seem reasonable to believe that
the thousands of slaves which were brought here to feed the Mahars the
human flesh they craved would all be carried through the air, and so I
continued my search until at last it was rewarded by the discovery of
several loose granite blocks in the masonry at one end of the temple.

A little effort proved sufficient to dislodge enough of these stones to
permit me to crawl through into the clearing, and a moment later I had
scurried across the intervening space to the dense jungle beyond.

Here I sank panting and trembling upon the matted grasses beneath the
giant trees, for I felt that I had escaped from the grinning fangs of
death out of the depths of my own grave. Whatever dangers lay hidden
in this island jungle, there could be none so fearsome as those which I
had just escaped. I knew that I could meet death bravely enough if it
but came in the form of some familiar beast or man--anything other than
the hideous and uncanny Mahars.




IX

THE FACE OF DEATH


I must have fallen asleep from exhaustion. When I awoke I was very
hungry, and after busying myself searching for fruit for a while, I set
off through the jungle to find the beach. I knew that the island was
not so large but that I could easily find the sea if I did but move in
a straight line, but there came the difficulty as there was no way in
which I could direct my course and hold it, the sun, of course, being
always directly above my head, and the trees so thickly set that I
could see no distant object

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