By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 43

me, however, the
crime of which I had been guilty--the unforgivable crime of stealing
the great secret. They, therefore, intended holding Dian and me
prisoners until the manuscript was returned to them.

They would, they said, send an escort of Sagoths with me to fetch the
precious document from its hiding-place, keeping Dian at Phutra as a
hostage and releasing us both the moment that the document was safely
restored to their queen.

There was no doubt but that they had the upper hand. However, there
was so much more at stake than the liberty or even the lives of Dian
and myself, that I did not deem it expedient to accept their offer
without giving the matter careful thought.

Without the great secret this maleless race must eventually become
extinct. For ages they had fertilized their eggs by an artificial
process, the secret of which lay hidden in the little cave of a far-off
valley where Dian and I had spent our honeymoon. I was none too sure
that I could find the valley again, nor that I cared to. So long as
the powerful reptilian race of Pellucidar continued to propagate, just
so long would the position of man within the inner world be
jeopardized. There could not be two dominant races.

I said as much to Dian.

"You used to tell me," she replied, "of the wonderful things you could
accomplish with the inventions of your own world. Now you have
returned with all that is necessary to place this great power in the
hands of the men of Pellucidar.

"You told me of great engines of destruction which would cast a
bursting ball of metal among our enemies, killing hundreds of them at
one time.

"You told me of mighty fortresses of stone which a thousand men armed
with big and little engines such as these could hold forever against a
million Sagoths.

"You told me of great canoes which moved across the water without
paddles, and which spat death from holes in their sides.

"All these may now belong to the men of Pellucidar. Why should we fear
the Mahars?

"Let them breed! Let their numbers increase by thousands. They will
be helpless before the power of the Emperor of Pellucidar.

"But if you remain a prisoner in Phutra, what may we accomplish?

"What could the men of Pellucidar do without you to lead them?

"They would fight among themselves, and while they fought the Mahars
would fall upon them, and even though the Mahar race should die out, of
what value would the emancipation of the

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