Out of Time's Abyss

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 25

the rapidity with which they attempted to bolt
their food, they often lost it all. Bradley was glad that he had a
pedestal all to himself.

Soon the keeper of the place returned with a wooden bowl filled with
food. This he dumped into Bradley's "trough," as he already thought of
it. The Englishman was glad that he could not see into the dark alcove
or know what were all the ingredients that constituted the mess before
him, for he was very hungry.

After the first mouthful he cared even less to investigate the
antecedents of the dish, for he found it peculiarly palatable. It
seemed to consist of a combination of meat, fruits, vegetables, small
fish and other undistinguishable articles of food all seasoned to
produce a gastronomic effect that was at once baffling and delicious.

When he had finished, his trough was empty, and then he commenced to
wonder who was to settle for his meal. As he waited for the proprietor
to return, he fell to examining the dish from which he had eaten and
the pedestal upon which it rested. The font was of stone worn smooth
by long-continued use, the four outer edges hollowed and polished by
the contact of the countless Wieroo bodies that had leaned against them
for how long a period of time Bradley could not even guess. Everything
about the place carried the impression of hoary age. The carved
pedestals were black with use, the wooden seats were worn hollow, the
floor of stone slabs was polished by the contact of possibly millions
of naked feet and worn away in the aisles between the pedestals so that
the latter rested upon little mounds of stone several inches above the
general level of the floor.

Finally, seeing that no one came to collect, Bradley arose and started
for the doorway. He had covered half the distance when he heard the
voice of mine host calling to him: "Come back, jaal-lu," screamed the
Wieroo; and Bradley did as he was bid. As he approached the creature
which stood now behind a large, flat-topped pedestal beside the alcove,
he saw lying upon the smooth surface something that almost elicited a
gasp of astonishment from him--a simple, common thing it was, or would
have been almost anywhere in the world but Caspak--a square bit of
paper!

And on it, in a fine hand, written compactly, were many strange
hieroglyphics! These remarkable creatures, then, had a written as well
as a spoken language and besides the art of weaving cloth possessed
that

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