At the Earth's Core eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 178 pages of information about At the Earth's Core.

When they had examined me for a few moments one of them discovered that my clothing was not a part of me, with the result that garment by garment they tore it from me amidst peals of the wildest laughter.  Apelike, they essayed to don the apparel themselves, but their ingenuity was not sufficient to the task and so they gave it up.

In the meantime I had been straining my eyes to catch a glimpse of Perry, but nowhere about could I see him, although the clump of trees in which he had first taken refuge was in full view.  I was much exercised by fear that something had befallen him, and though I called his name aloud several times there was no response.

Tired at last of playing with my clothing the creatures threw it to the ground, and catching me, one on either side, by an arm, started off at a most terrifying pace through the tree tops.  Never have I experienced such a journey before or since—­even now I oftentimes awake from a deep sleep haunted by the horrid remembrance of that awful experience.

From tree to tree the agile creatures sprang like flying squirrels, while the cold sweat stood upon my brow as I glimpsed the depths beneath, into which a single misstep on the part of either of my bearers would hurl me.  As they bore me along, my mind was occupied with a thousand bewildering thoughts.  What had become of Perry?  Would I ever see him again?  What were the intentions of these half-human things into whose hands I had fallen?  Were they inhabitants of the same world into which I had been born?  No!  It could not be.  But yet where else?  I had not left that earth—­of that I was sure.  Still neither could I reconcile the things which I had seen to a belief that I was still in the world of my birth.  With a sigh I gave it up.

III

A CHANGE OF MASTERS

We must have traveled several miles through the dark and dismal wood when we came suddenly upon a dense village built high among the branches of the trees.  As we approached it my escort broke into wild shouting which was immediately answered from within, and a moment later a swarm of creatures of the same strange race as those who had captured me poured out to meet us.  Again I was the center of a wildly chattering horde.  I was pulled this way and that.  Pinched, pounded, and thumped until I was black and blue, yet I do not think that their treatment was dictated by either cruelty or malice—­I was a curiosity, a freak, a new plaything, and their childish minds required the added evidence of all their senses to back up the testimony of their eyes.

Presently they dragged me within the village, which consisted of several hundred rude shelters of boughs and leaves supported upon the branches of the trees.

Between the huts, which sometimes formed crooked streets, were dead branches and the trunks of small trees which connected the huts upon one tree to those within adjoining trees; the whole network of huts and pathways forming an almost solid flooring a good fifty feet above the ground.

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At the Earth's Core from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.