By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 77

I took part in one of their orgies.

It will live forever in my memory. The combination of bestiality and
humanity was oftentimes pathetic, and again grotesque or horrible.
Beneath the glaring noonday sun, in the sweltering heat of the
mesa-top, the huge, hairy creatures leaped in a great circle. They
coiled and threw their fiber-ropes; they hurled taunts and insults at
an imaginary foe; they fell upon the carcass of the thag and literally
tore it to pieces; and they ceased only when, gorged, they could no
longer move.

I had to wait until the processes of digestion had released my escort
from its torpor. Some had eaten until their abdomens were so distended
that I thought they must burst, for beside the thag there had been
fully a hundred antelopes of various sizes and varied degrees of
decomposition, which they had unearthed from burial beneath the floors
of their lairs to grace the banquet-board.

But at last we were started--six great males and myself. Gr-gr-gr had
returned my weapons to me, and at last I was once more upon my
oft-interrupted way toward my goal. Whether I should find Dian at the
end of my journey or no I could not even surmise; but I was none the
less impatient to be off, for if only the worst lay in store for me I
wished to know even the worst at once.

I could scarce believe that my proud mate would still be alive in the
power of Hooja; but time upon Pellucidar is so strange a thing that I
realized that to her or to him only a few minutes might have elapsed
since his subtle trickery had enabled him to steal her away from
Phutra. Or she might have found the means either to repel his advances
or escape him.

As we descended the cliff we disturbed a great pack of large hyena-like
beasts--hyaena spelaeus, Perry calls them--who were busy among the
corpses of the cave men fallen in battle. The ugly creatures were far
from the cowardly things that our own hyenas are reputed to be; they
stood their ground with bared fangs as we approached them. But, as I
was later to learn, so formidable are the brute-folk that there are few
even of the larger carnivora that will not make way for them when they
go abroad. So the hyenas moved a little from our line of march,
closing in again upon their feasts when we had passed.

We made our way steadily down the rim of the beautiful river

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