By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 21

I thought of the poor old fellow's peril.

At the top of my lungs I called to him to stop, but he did not answer
me. And then I hurried on in the direction he had gone, faster by far
than safety dictated.

For a while I thought I heard him ahead of me, but at last, though I
paused often to listen and to call to him, I heard nothing more, not
even the grunting of the bears that had been behind us. All was
deathly silence--the silence of the tomb. About me lay the thick,
impenetrable fog.

I was alone. Perry was gone--gone forever, I had not the slightest

Somewhere near by lay the mouth of a treacherous fissure, and far down
at its icy bottom lay all that was mortal of my old friend, Abner
Perry. There would his body be preserved in its icy sepulcher for
countless ages, until on some far distant day the slow-moving river of
ice had wound its snail-like way down to the warmer level, there to
disgorge its grisly evidence of grim tragedy, and what in that far
future age, might mean baffling mystery.



Through the fog I felt my way along by means of my compass. I no
longer heard the bears, nor did I encounter one within the fog.

Experience has since taught me that these great beasts are as
terror-stricken by this phenomenon as a landsman by a fog at sea, and
that no sooner does a fog envelop them than they make the best of their
way to lower levels and a clear atmosphere. It was well for me that
this was true.

I felt very sad and lonely as I crawled along the difficult footing.
My own predicament weighed less heavily upon me than the loss of Perry,
for I loved the old fellow.

That I should ever win the opposite slopes of the range I began to
doubt, for though I am naturally sanguine, I imagine that the
bereavement which had befallen me had cast such a gloom over my spirits
that I could see no slightest ray of hope for the future.

Then, too, the blighting, gray oblivion of the cold, damp clouds
through which I wandered was distressing. Hope thrives best in
sunlight, and I am sure that it does not thrive at all in a fog.

But the instinct of self-preservation is stronger than hope. It
thrives, fortunately, upon nothing. It takes root upon the brink of
the grave, and blossoms in the jaws

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