Out of Time's Abyss

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 43

An-Tak.
"Oh, Luata! And now I am too weak to go. Take me with you! Take me
with you!"

"Shut up!" admonished Bradley. "You will have the whole flock of birds
around our heads in a minute, and neither of us will escape. Be quiet,
and I'll go ahead. If I find a way out, I'll come back and help you,
if you'll promise not to try to eat me up again."

"I promise," cried An-Tak. "Oh, Luata! How could you blame me? I am
half crazed of hunger and long confinement and the horror of the
lizards and the rats and the constant waiting for death."

"I know," said Bradley simply. "I'm sorry for you, old top. Keep a
stiff upper lip." And he slipped through the opening, found the ladder
with his feet, closed the panel behind him, and started downward into
the darkness.

Below him rose more and more distinctly the sound of running water.
The air felt damp and cool. He could see nothing of his surroundings
and felt nothing but the smooth, worn sides and rungs of the ladder
down which he felt his way cautiously lest a broken rung or a misstep
should hurl him downward.

As he descended thus slowly, the ladder seemed interminable and the pit
bottomless, yet he realized when at last he reached the bottom that he
could not have descended more than fifty feet. The bottom of the
ladder rested on a narrow ledge paved with what felt like large round
stones, but what he knew from experience to be human skulls. He could
not but marvel as to where so many countless thousands of the things
had come from, until he paused to consider that the infancy of Caspak
dated doubtlessly back into remote ages, far beyond what the outer
world considered the beginning of earthly time. For all these eons the
Wieroos might have been collecting human skulls from their enemies and
their own dead--enough to have built an entire city of them.

Feeling his way along the narrow ledge, Bradley came presently to a
blank wall that stretched out over the water swirling beneath him, as
far as he could reach. Stooping, he groped about with one hand,
reaching down toward the surface of the water, and discovered that the
bottom of the wall arched above the stream. How much space there was
between the water and the arch he could not tell, nor how deep the
former. There was only one way

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