The Land That Time Forgot

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 84

the preceding paragraph, which I thought
would end the written record of my life upon Caprona. I had paused to
put a new point on my quill and stir the crude ink (which I made by
crushing a black variety of berry and mixing it with water) before
attaching my signature, when faintly from the valley far below came an
unmistakable sound which brought me to my feet, trembling with
excitement, to peer eagerly downward from my dizzy ledge. How full of
meaning that sound was to me you may guess when I tell you that it was
the report of a firearm! For a moment my gaze traversed the landscape
beneath until it was caught and held by four figures near the base of
the cliff--a human figure held at bay by three hyaenodons, those
ferocious and blood-thirsty wild dogs of the Eocene. A fourth beast
lay dead or dying near by.

I couldn't be sure, looking down from above as I was; but yet I
trembled like a leaf in the intuitive belief that it was Lys, and my
judgment served to confirm my wild desire, for whoever it was carried
only a pistol, and thus had Lys been armed. The first wave of sudden
joy which surged through me was short-lived in the face of the
swift-following conviction that the one who fought below was already
doomed. Luck and only luck it must have been which had permitted that
first shot to lay low one of the savage creatures, for even such a
heavy weapon as my pistol is entirely inadequate against even the
lesser carnivora of Caspak. In a moment the three would charge! A
futile shot would but tend more greatly to enrage the one it chanced to
hit; and then the three would drag down the little human figure and
tear it to pieces.

And maybe it was Lys! My heart stood still at the thought, but mind
and muscle responded to the quick decision I was forced to make. There
was but a single hope--a single chance--and I took it. I raised my
rifle to my shoulder and took careful aim. It was a long shot, a
dangerous shot, for unless one is accustomed to it, shooting from a
considerable altitude is most deceptive work. There is, though,
something about marksmanship which is quite beyond all scientific laws.

Upon no other theory can I explain my marksmanship of that moment.
Three times my rifle spoke--three quick, short syllables of death. I
did not take conscious aim; and yet at each report

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