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.

But they did not come, and at last I came to the conclusion that I was indeed alone within the temple.  How long I should be alone was the next question to assail me as I swam frantically about once more in search of a means to escape.

Several times I called to Ja, but he must have left after I tumbled into the tank, for I received no response to my cries.  Doubtless he had felt as certain of my doom when he saw me topple from our hiding place as I had, and lest he too should be discovered, had hastened from the temple and back to his village.

I knew that there must be some entrance to the building beside the doorways in the roof, for it did not seem reasonable to believe that the thousands of slaves which were brought here to feed the Mahars the human flesh they craved would all be carried through the air, and so I continued my search until at last it was rewarded by the discovery of several loose granite blocks in the masonry at one end of the temple.

A little effort proved sufficient to dislodge enough of these stones to permit me to crawl through into the clearing, and a moment later I had scurried across the intervening space to the dense jungle beyond.

Here I sank panting and trembling upon the matted grasses beneath the giant trees, for I felt that I had escaped from the grinning fangs of death out of the depths of my own grave.  Whatever dangers lay hidden in this island jungle, there could be none so fearsome as those which I had just escaped.  I knew that I could meet death bravely enough if it but came in the form of some familiar beast or man—­anything other than the hideous and uncanny Mahars.

IX

THE FACE OF DEATH

I must have fallen asleep from exhaustion.  When I awoke I was very hungry, and after busying myself searching for fruit for a while, I set off through the jungle to find the beach.  I knew that the island was not so large but that I could easily find the sea if I did but move in a straight line, but there came the difficulty as there was no way in which I could direct my course and hold it, the sun, of course, being always directly above my head, and the trees so thickly set that I could see no distant object which might serve to guide me in a straight line.

As it was I must have walked for a great distance since I ate four times and slept twice before I reached the sea, but at last I did so, and my pleasure at the sight of it was greatly enhanced by the chance discovery of a hidden canoe among the bushes through which I had stumbled just prior to coming upon the beach.

I can tell you that it did not take me long to pull that awkward craft down to the water and shove it far out from shore.  My experience with Ja had taught me that if I were to steal another canoe I must be quick about it and get far beyond the owner’s reach as soon as possible.

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