At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 78

possibility. I looked about for some means
of escape from my bonds. Upon the floor between me and the Mahars lay
a tiny surgical instrument which one of them must have dropped. It
looked not unlike a button-hook, but was much smaller, and its point
was sharpened. A hundred times in my boyhood days had I picked locks
with a button-hook. Could I but reach that little bit of polished
steel I might yet effect at least a temporary escape.

Crawling to the limit of my chain, I found that by reaching one hand as
far out as I could my fingers still fell an inch short of the coveted
instrument. It was tantalizing! Stretch every fiber of my being as I
would, I could not quite make it.

At last I turned about and extended one foot toward the object. My
heart came to my throat! I could just touch the thing! But suppose
that in my effort to drag it toward me I should accidentally shove it
still farther away and thus entirely out of reach! Cold sweat broke
out upon me from every pore. Slowly and cautiously I made the effort.
My toes dropped upon the cold metal. Gradually I worked it toward me
until I felt that it was within reach of my hand and a moment later I
had turned about and the precious thing was in my grasp.

Assiduously I fell to work upon the Mahar lock that held my chain. It
was pitifully simple. A child might have picked it, and a moment later
I was free. The Mahars were now evidently completing their work at the
table. One already turned away and was examining other victims,
evidently with the intention of selecting the next subject.

Those at the table had their backs toward me. But for the creature
walking toward us I might have escaped that moment. Slowly the thing
approached me, when its attention was attracted by a huge slave chained
a few yards to my right. Here the reptile stopped and commenced to go
over the poor devil carefully, and as it did so its back turned toward
me for an instant, and in that instant I gave two mighty leaps that
carried me out of the chamber into the corridor beyond, down which I
raced with all the speed I could command.

Where I was, or whither I was going, I knew not. My only thought was
to place as much

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