By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 25

do it or not.

He set out to make gunpowder once, shortly after our escape from Phutra
and at the beginning of the confederation of the wild tribes of
Pellucidar. He said that some one, without any knowledge of the fact
that such a thing might be concocted, had once stumbled upon it by
accident, and so he couldn't see why a fellow who knew all about powder
except how to make it couldn't do as well.

He worked mighty hard mixing all sorts of things together, until
finally he evolved a substance that looked like powder. He had been
very proud of the stuff, and had gone about the village of the Sarians
exhibiting it to every one who would listen to him, and explaining what
its purpose was and what terrific havoc it would work, until finally
the natives became so terrified at the stuff that they wouldn't come
within a rod of Perry and his invention.

Finally, I suggested that we experiment with it and see what it would
do, so Perry built a fire, after placing the powder at a safe distance,
and then touched a glowing ember to a minute particle of the deadly
explosive. It extinguished the ember.

Repeated experiments with it determined me that in searching for a high
explosive, Perry had stumbled upon a fire-extinguisher that would have
made his fortune for him back in our own world.

So now he set himself to work to build a scientific canoe. I had
suggested that we construct a dugout, but Perry convinced me that we
must build something more in keeping with our positions of supermen in
this world of the Stone Age.

"We must impress these natives with our superiority," he explained.
"You must not forget, David, that you are emperor of Pellucidar. As
such you may not with dignity approach the shores of a foreign power in
so crude a vessel as a dugout."

I pointed out to Perry that it wasn't much more incongruous for the
emperor to cruise in a canoe, than it was for the prime minister to
attempt to build one with his own hands.

He had to smile at that; but in extenuation of his act he assured me
that it was quite customary for prime ministers to give their personal
attention to the building of imperial navies; "and this," he said, "is
the imperial navy of his Serene Highness, David I, Emperor of the
Federated Kingdoms of Pellucidar."

I grinned; but Perry was quite serious about it. It had always seemed
rather more or less of a

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