By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 1

two and invested them carefully and without

I became interested in your story, At the Earth's Core, not so much
because of the probability of the tale as of a great and abiding wonder
that people should be paid real money for writing such impossible
trash. You will pardon my candor, but it is necessary that you
understand my mental attitude toward this particular story--that you
may credit that which follows.

Shortly thereafter I started for the Sahara in search of a rather rare
species of antelope that is to be found only occasionally within a
limited area at a certain season of the year. My chase led me far from
the haunts of man.

It was a fruitless search, however, in so far as antelope is concerned;
but one night as I lay courting sleep at the edge of a little cluster
of date-palms that surround an ancient well in the midst of the arid,
shifting sands, I suddenly became conscious of a strange sound coming
apparently from the earth beneath my head.

It was an intermittent ticking!

No reptile or insect with which I am familiar reproduces any such
notes. I lay for an hour--listening intently.

At last my curiosity got the better of me. I arose, lighted my lamp
and commenced to investigate.

My bedding lay upon a rug stretched directly upon the warm sand. The
noise appeared to be coming from beneath the rug. I raised it, but
found nothing--yet, at intervals, the sound continued.

I dug into the sand with the point of my hunting-knife. A few inches
below the surface of the sand I encountered a solid substance that had
the feel of wood beneath the sharp steel.

Excavating about it, I unearthed a small wooden box. From this
receptacle issued the strange sound that I had heard.

How had it come here?

What did it contain?

In attempting to lift it from its burying place I discovered that it
seemed to be held fast by means of a very small insulated cable running
farther into the sand beneath it.

My first impulse was to drag the thing loose by main strength; but
fortunately I thought better of this and fell to examining the box. I
soon saw that it was covered by a hinged lid, which was held closed by
a simple screwhook and eye.

It took but a moment to loosen this and raise the cover, when, to my
utter astonishment, I discovered an ordinary telegraph instrument
clicking away within.

"What in the world," thought I, "is this thing doing here?"

That it was a

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