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.

IV

DIAN THE BEAUTIFUL

When our guards aroused us from sleep we were much refreshed.  They gave us food.  Strips of dried meat it was, but it put new life and strength into us, so that now we too marched with high-held heads, and took noble strides.  At least I did, for I was young and proud; but poor Perry hated walking.  On earth I had often seen him call a cab to travel a square—­he was paying for it now, and his old legs wobbled so that I put my arm about him and half carried him through the balance of those frightful marches.

The country began to change at last, and we wound up out of the level plain through mighty mountains of virgin granite.  The tropical verdure of the lowlands was replaced by hardier vegetation, but even here the effects of constant heat and light were apparent in the immensity of the trees and the profusion of foliage and blooms.  Crystal streams roared through their rocky channels, fed by the perpetual snows which we could see far above us.  Above the snowcapped heights hung masses of heavy clouds.  It was these, Perry explained, which evidently served the double purpose of replenishing the melting snows and protecting them from the direct rays of the sun.

By this time we had picked up a smattering of the bastard language in which our guards addressed us, as well as making good headway in the rather charming tongue of our co-captives.  Directly ahead of me in the chain gang was a young woman.  Three feet of chain linked us together in a forced companionship which I, at least, soon rejoiced in.  For I found her a willing teacher, and from her I learned the language of her tribe, and much of the life and customs of the inner world—­at least that part of it with which she was familiar.

She told me that she was called Dian the Beautiful, and that she belonged to the tribe of Amoz, which dwells in the cliffs above the Darel Az, or shallow sea.

“How came you here?” I asked her.

“I was running away from Jubal the Ugly One,” she answered, as though that was explanation quite sufficient.

“Who is Jubal the Ugly One?” I asked.  “And why did you run away from him?”

She looked at me in surprise.

“Why does a woman run away from a man?” she answered my question with another.

“They do not, where I come from,” I replied.  “Sometimes they run after them.”

But she could not understand.  Nor could I get her to grasp the fact that I was of another world.  She was quite as positive that creation was originated solely to produce her own kind and the world she lived in as are many of the outer world.

“But Jubal,” I insisted.  “Tell me about him, and why you ran away to be chained by the neck and scourged across the face of a world.”

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