At the Earth's Core

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 87

on at a lesser deviation from the general direction, so that
appeared more like the main canyon than the left-hand branch. The
Sagoths were now not over two hundred and fifty yards behind us, and I
saw that it was hopeless for us to expect to escape other than by a
ruse. There was a bare chance of saving Ghak and Perry, and as I
reached the branching of the canyon I took the chance.

Pausing there I waited until the foremost Sagoth hove into sight. Ghak
and Perry had disappeared around a bend in the left-hand canyon, and as
the Sagoth's savage yell announced that he had seen me I turned and
fled up the right-hand branch. My ruse was successful, and the entire
party of man-hunters raced headlong after me up one canyon while Ghak
bore Perry to safety up the other.

Running has never been my particular athletic forte, and now when my
very life depended upon fleetness of foot I cannot say that I ran any
better than on the occasions when my pitiful base running had called
down upon my head the rooter's raucous and reproachful cries of "Ice
Wagon," and "Call a cab."

The Sagoths were gaining on me rapidly. There was one in particular,
fleeter than his fellows, who was perilously close. The canyon had
become a rocky slit, rising roughly at a steep angle toward what seemed
a pass between two abutting peaks. What lay beyond I could not even
guess--possibly a sheer drop of hundreds of feet into the corresponding
valley upon the other side. Could it be that I had plunged into a
cul-de-sac?

Realizing that I could not hope to outdistance the Sagoths to the top
of the canyon I had determined to risk all in an attempt to check them
temporarily, and to this end had unslung my rudely made bow and plucked
an arrow from the skin quiver which hung behind my shoulder. As I
fitted the shaft with my right hand I stopped and wheeled toward the
gorilla-man.

In the world of my birth I never had drawn a shaft, but since our
escape from Phutra I had kept the party supplied with small game by
means of my arrows, and so, through necessity, had developed a fair
degree of accuracy. During our flight from Phutra I had restrung my
bow with a piece of heavy gut taken from a huge tiger which Ghak and I
had worried and finally dispatched with arrows, spear, and sword. The
hard wood of the

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