Pellucidar

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 78

which
flows the length of the island, coming at last to a wood rather denser
than any that I had before encountered in this country. Well within
this forest my escort halted.

"There!" they said, and pointed ahead. "We are to go no farther."

Thus having guided me to my destination they left me. Ahead of me,
through the trees, I could see what appeared to be the foot of a steep
hill. Toward this I made my way. The forest ran to the very base of a
cliff, in the face of which were the mouths of many caves. They
appeared untenanted; but I decided to watch for a while before
venturing farther. A large tree, densely foliaged, offered a splendid
vantage-point from which to spy upon the cliff, so I clambered among
its branches where, securely hidden, I could watch what transpired
about the caves.

It seemed that I had scarcely settled myself in a comfortable position
before a party of cave men emerged from one of the smaller apertures in
the cliff-face, about fifty feet from the base. They descended into
the forest and disappeared. Soon after came several others from the
same cave, and after them, at a short interval, a score of women and
children, who came into the wood to gather fruit. There were several
warriors with them--a guard, I presume.

After this came other parties, and two or three groups who passed out
of the forest and up the cliff-face to enter the same cave. I could
not understand it. All who came out had emerged from the same cave.
All who returned reentered it. No other cave gave evidence of
habitation, and no cave but one of extraordinary size could have
accommodated all the people whom I had seen pass in and out of its
mouth.

For a long time I sat and watched the coming and going of great numbers
of the cave-folk. Not once did one leave the cliff by any other
opening save that from which I had seen the first party come, nor did
any reenter the cliff through another aperture.

What a cave it must be, I thought, that houses an entire tribe! But
dissatisfied of the truth of my surmise, I climbed higher among the
branches of the tree that I might get a better view of other portions
of the cliff. High above the ground I reached a point whence I could
see the summit of the hill. Evidently it was a flat-topped butte
similar to

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