Pellucidar

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 38

have
been a very long time. Finally one of the Sagoths addressed me. He
was acting as interpreter for his masters.

"The Mahars will spare your life," he said, "and release you on one
condition."

"And what is that condition?" I asked, though I could guess its terms.

"That you return to them that which you stole from the pits of Phutra
when you killed the four Mahars and escaped," he replied.

I had thought that that would be it. The great secret upon which
depended the continuance of the Mahar race was safely hid where only
Dian and I knew.

I ventured to imagine that they would have given me much more than my
liberty to have it safely in their keeping again; but after that--what?

Would they keep their promises?

I doubted it. With the secret of artificial propagation once more in
their hands their numbers would soon be made so to overrun the world of
Pellucidar that there could be no hope for the eventual supremacy of
the human race, the cause for which I so devoutly hoped, for which I
had consecrated my life, and for which I was not willing to give my
life.

Yes! In that moment as I stood before the heartless tribunal I felt
that my life would be a very little thing to give could it save to the
human race of Pellucidar the chance to come into its own by insuring
the eventual extinction of the hated, powerful Mahars.

"Come!" exclaimed the Sagoths. "The mighty Mahars await your reply."

"You may say to them," I answered, "that I shall not tell them where
the great secret is hid."

When this had been translated to them there was a great beating of
reptilian wings, gaping of sharp-fanged jaws, and hideous hissing. I
thought that they were about to fall upon me on the spot, and so I laid
my hands upon my revolvers; but at length they became more quiet and
presently transmitted some command to my Sagoth guard, the chief of
which laid a heavy hand upon my arm and pushed me roughly before him
from the audience-chamber.

They took me to the pits, where I lay carefully guarded. I was sure
that I was to be taken to the vivisection laboratory, and it required
all my courage to fortify myself against the terrors of so fearful a
death. In Pellucidar, where there is no time, death-agonies may endure
for eternities.

Accordingly, I had to steel myself against an endless doom, which now
stared me in the face!



CHAPTER V

SURPRISES

But at last the

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