We crossed the river and passed through the mountains beyond,
and finally we came out upon a great level plain which
stretched away as far as the eye could reach. I cannot tell
you in what direction it stretched even if you would care
to know, for all the while that I was within Pellucidar
I never discovered any but local methods of indicating
direction--there is no north, no south, no east, no west.
UP is about the only direction which is well defined,
and that, of course, is DOWN to you of the outer crust.
Since the sun neither rises nor sets there is no method
of indicating direction beyond visible objects such as
high mountains, forests, lakes, and seas.
The plain which lies beyond the white cliffs which flank
the Darel Az upon the shore nearest the Mountains
of the Clouds is about as near to any direction as any
Pellucidarian can come. If you happen not to have heard
of the Darel Az, or the white cliffs, or the Mountains
of the Clouds you feel that there is something lacking,
and long for the good old understandable northeast
and southwest of the outer world.
We had barely entered the great plain when we discovered
two enormous animals approaching us from a great distance.
So far were they that we could not distinguish what manner
of beasts they might be, but as they came closer, I saw that
they were enormous quadrupeds, eighty or a hundred feet long,
with tiny heads perched at the top of very long necks.
Their heads must have been quite forty feet from the ground.
The beasts moved very slowly--that is their action was
slow--but their strides covered such a great distance
that in reality they traveled considerably faster than
a man walks.
As they drew still nearer we discovered that upon the back
of each sat a human being. Then Dian knew what they were,
though she never before had seen one.
"They are lidis from the land of the Thorians," she cried.
"Thoria lies at the outer verge of the Land of Awful Shadow.
The Thorians alone of all the races of Pellucidar ride
the lidi, for nowhere else than beside the dark country
are they found."
"What is the Land of Awful Shadow?" I asked.
"It is the land which lies beneath the Dead World,"
replied Dian; "the Dead World which hangs forever between
the sun and Pellucidar above the Land of Awful Shadow.
It is the Dead World which makes the great shadow upon this
portion of Pellucidar."
I did not fully understand what she meant, nor am I
sure that I do yet, for I have never been to that part
of Pellucidar from which the Dead World is visible;
but Perry says that it is the moon of Pellucidar--a tiny
planet within a planet--and that it revolves around
the earth's axis coincidently with the earth, and thus
is always above the same spot within Pellucidar.
I remember that Perry was very much excited when I told
him about this Dead World, for he seemed to think that it
explained the hitherto inexplicable phenomena of nutation
and the precession of the equinoxes.
When the two upon the lidis had come quite close to us
we saw that one was a man and the other a woman.
The former had held up his two hands, palms toward us,
in sign of peace, and I had answered him in kind,
when he suddenly gave a cry of astonishment and pleasure,
and slipping from his enormous mount ran forward toward Dian,
throwing his arms about her.
In an instant I was white with jealousy, but only for
an instant; since Dian quickly drew the man toward me,
telling him that I was David, her mate.
"And this is my brother, Dacor the Strong One, David,"
she said to me.
It appeared that the woman was Dacor's mate. He had
found none to his liking among the Sari, nor farther on
until he had come to the land of the Thoria, and there
he had found and fought for this very lovely Thorian
maiden whom he was bringing back to his own people.
When they had heard our story and our plans they decided
to accompany us to Sari, that Dacor and Ghak might come
to an agreement relative to an alliance, as Dacor was
quite as enthusiastic about the proposed annihilation
of the Mahars and Sagoths as either Dian or I.
After a journey which was, for Pellucidar, quite uneventful,
we came to the first of the Sarian villages which consists
of between one and two hundred artificial caves cut into
the face of a great cliff. Here to our immense delight,
we found both Perry and Ghak. The old man was quite
overcome at sight of me for he had long since given me
up as dead.
When I introduced Dian as my wife, he didn't quite know
what to say, but he afterward remarked that with the pick
of two worlds I could not have done better.
Ghak and Dacor reached a very amicable arrangement,
and it was at a council of the head men of the various
tribes of the Sari that the eventual form of government
was tentatively agreed upon. Roughly, the various
kingdoms were to remain virtually independent,
but there was to be one great overlord, or emperor.
It was decided that I should be the first of the dynasty
of the emperors of Pellucidar.
We set about teaching the women how to make bows and arrows,
and poison pouches. The young men hunted the vipers which
provided the virus, and it was they who mined the iron ore,
and fashioned the swords under Perry's direction.
Rapidly the fever spread from one tribe to another until
representatives from nations so far distant that the
Sarians had never even heard of them came in to take
the oath of allegiance which we required, and to learn
the art of making the new weapons and using them.
We sent our young men out as instructors to every
nation of the federation, and the movement had reached
colossal proportions before the Mahars discovered it.
The first intimation they had was when three of their great
slave caravans were annihilated in rapid succession.
They could not comprehend that the lower orders had suddenly
developed a power which rendered them really formidable.
In one of the skirmishes with slave caravans some of our
Sarians took a number of Sagoth prisoners, and among
them were two who had been members of the guards within
the building where we had been confined at Phutra.
They told us that the Mahars were frantic with rage
when they discovered what had taken place in the cellars
of the buildings. The Sagoths knew that something very
terrible had befallen their masters, but the Mahars had been
most careful to see that no inkling of the true nature
of their vital affliction reached beyond their own race.
How long it would take for the race to become extinct
it was impossible even to guess; but that this must
eventually happen seemed inevitable.
The Mahars had offered fabulous rewards for the capture
of any one of us alive, and at the same time had threatened
to inflict the direst punishment upon whomever should
harm us. The Sagoths could not understand these seemingly
paradoxical instructions, though their purpose was quite
evident to me. The Mahars wanted the Great Secret,
and they knew that we alone could deliver it to them.
Perry's experiments in the manufacture of gunpowder and the
fashioning of rifles had not progressed as rapidly as we
had hoped--there was a whole lot about these two arts which
Perry didn't know. We were both assured that the solution
of these problems would advance the cause of civilization
within Pellucidar thousands of years at a single stroke.
Then there were various other arts and sciences which we
wished to introduce, but our combined knowledge of them
did not embrace the mechanical details which alone
could render them of commercial, or practical value.
"David," said Perry, immediately after his latest failure to
produce gunpowder that would even burn, "one of us must return
to the outer world and bring back the information we lack.
Here we have all the labor and materials for reproducing
anything that ever has been produced above--what we lack
is knowledge. Let us go back and get that knowledge
in the shape of books--then this world will indeed be at our feet."
And so it was decided that I should return in the prospector,
which still lay upon the edge of the forest at the point where
we had first penetrated to the surface of the inner world.
Dian would not listen to any arrangement for my going
which did not include her, and I was not sorry that she
wished to accompany me, for I wanted her to see my world,
and I wanted my world to see her.
With a large force of men we marched to the great iron mole,
which Perry soon had hoisted into position with its nose
pointed back toward the outer crust. He went over all
the machinery carefully. He replenished the air tanks,
and manufactured oil for the engine. At last everything
was ready, and we were about to set out when our pickets,
a long, thin line of which had surrounded our camp at
all times, reported that a great body of what appeared
to be Sagoths and Mahars were approaching from the direction
Dian and I were ready to embark, but I was anxious
to witness the first clash between two fair-sized armies
of the opposing races of Pellucidar. I realized that this
was to mark the historic beginning of a mighty struggle
for possession of a world, and as the first emperor
of Pellucidar I felt that it was not alone my duty,
but my right, to be in the thick of that momentous struggle.
As the opposing army approached we saw that there were many
Mahars with the Sagoth troops--an indication of the vast
importance which the dominant race placed upon the outcome
of this campaign, for it was not customary with them to take
active part in the sorties which their creatures made for
slaves--the only form of warfare which they waged upon the
Ghak and Dacor were both with us, having come primarily to
view the prospector. I placed Ghak with some of his Sarians
on the right of our battle line. Dacor took the left,
while I commanded the center. Behind us I stationed
a sufficient reserve under one of Ghak's head men.
The Sagoths advanced steadily with menacing spears,
and I let them come until they were within easy bowshot
before I gave the word to fire.
At the first volley of poison-tipped arrows the front
ranks of the gorilla-men crumpled to the ground; but those
behind charged over the prostrate forms of their comrades
in a wild, mad rush to be upon us with their spears.
A second volley stopped them for an instant, and then
my reserve sprang through the openings in the firing line
to engage them with sword and shield. The clumsy spears
of the Sagoths were no match for the swords of the Sarian
and Amozite, who turned the spear thrusts aside with their
shields and leaped to close quarters with their lighter,
Ghak took his archers along the enemy's flank, and while
the swordsmen engaged them in front, he poured volley after
volley into their unprotected left. The Mahars did little
real fighting, and were more in the way than otherwise,
though occasionally one of them would fasten its powerful
jaw upon the arm or leg of a Sarian.
The battle did not last a great while, for when Dacor
and I led our men in upon the Sagoth's right with naked
swords they were already so demoralized that they turned
and fled before us. We pursued them for some time,
taking many prisoners and recovering nearly a hundred slaves,
among whom was Hooja the Sly One.
He told me that he had been captured while on his way
to his own land; but that his life had been spared
in hope that through him the Mahars would learn the
whereabouts of their Great Secret. Ghak and I were
inclined to think that the Sly One had been guiding
this expedition to the land of Sari, where he thought
that the book might be found in Perry's possession;
but we had no proof of this and so we took him in and
treated him as one of us, although none liked him.
And how he rewarded my generosity you will presently learn.
There were a number of Mahars among our prisoners,
and so fearful were our own people of them that they
would not approach them unless completely covered
from the sight of the reptiles by a piece of skin.
Even Dian shared the popular superstition regarding
the evil effects of exposure to the eyes of angry Mahars,
and though I laughed at her fears I was willing enough
to humor them if it would relieve her apprehension
in any degree, and so she sat apart from the prospector,
near which the Mahars had been chained, while Perry and I
again inspected every portion of the mechanism.
At last I took my place in the driving seat, and called
to one of the men without to fetch Dian. It happened that
Hooja stood quite close to the doorway of the prospector,
so that it was he who, without my knowledge, went to
bring her; but how he succeeded in accomplishing the
fiendish thing he did, I cannot guess, unless there were
others in the plot to aid him. Nor can I believe that,
since all my people were loyal to me and would have made
short work of Hooja had he suggested the heartless scheme,
even had he had time to acquaint another with it.
It was all done so quickly that I may only believe that it
was the result of sudden impulse, aided by a number of,
to Hooja, fortuitous circumstances occurring at precisely
the right moment.
All I know is that it was Hooja who brought Dian
to the prospector, still wrapped from head to toe
in the skin of an enormous cave lion which covered her
since the Mahar prisoners had been brought into camp.
He deposited his burden in the seat beside me. I was all
ready to get under way. The good-byes had been said.
Perry had grasped my hand in the last, long farewell.
I closed and barred the outer and inner doors,
took my seat again at the driving mechanism, and pulled
the starting lever.
As before on that far-gone night that had witnessed our
first trial of the iron monster, there was a frightful
roaring beneath us--the giant frame trembled and vibrated--
there was a rush of sound as the loose earth passed up
through the hollow space between the inner and outer jackets
to be deposited in our wake. Once more the thing was off.
But on the instant of departure I was nearly thrown
from my seat by the sudden lurching of the prospector.
At first I did not realize what had happened, but presently
it dawned upon me that just before entering the crust the
towering body had fallen through its supporting scaffolding,
and that instead of entering the ground vertically we were
plunging into it at a different angle. Where it would bring
us out upon the upper crust I could not even conjecture.
And then I turned to note the effect of this strange
experience upon Dian. She still sat shrouded in the great skin.
"Come, come," I cried, laughing, "come out of your shell.
No Mahar eyes can reach you here," and I leaned over and
snatched the lion skin from her. And then I shrank back
upon my seat in utter horror.
The thing beneath the skin was not Dian--it was a
hideous Mahar. Instantly I realized the trick that Hooja
had played upon me, and the purpose of it. Rid of me,
forever as he doubtless thought, Dian would be at his mercy.
Frantically I tore at the steering wheel in an effort
to turn the prospector back toward Pellucidar; but, as on
that other occasion, I could not budge the thing a hair.
It is needless to recount the horrors or the monotony
of that journey. It varied but little from the former one
which had brought us from the outer to the inner world.
Because of the angle at which we had entered the ground
the trip required nearly a day longer, and brought me out
here upon the sand of the Sahara instead of in the United
States as I had hoped.
For months I have been waiting here for a white man to come.
I dared not leave the prospector for fear I should never
be able to find it again--the shifting sands of the desert
would soon cover it, and then my only hope of returning
to my Dian and her Pellucidar would be gone forever.
That I ever shall see her again seems but remotely possible,
for how may I know upon what part of Pellucidar my return
journey may terminate--and how, without a north or south
or an east or a west may I hope ever to find my way across
that vast world to the tiny spot where my lost love lies
grieving for me?
That is the story as David Innes told it to me in the
goat-skin tent upon the rim of the great Sahara Desert.
The next day he took me out to see the prospector--it
was precisely as he had described it. So huge was it
that it could have been brought to this inaccessible part
of the world by no means of transportation that existed
there--it could only have come in the way that David
Innes said it came--up through the crust of the earth
from the inner world of Pellucidar.
I spent a week with him, and then, abandoned my
lion hunt, returned directly to the coast and hurried
to London where I purchased a great quantity of stuff
which he wished to take back to Pellucidar with him.
There were books, rifles, revolvers, ammunition, cameras,
chemicals, telephones, telegraph instruments, wire,
tool and more books--books upon every subject under
the sun. He said he wanted a library with which they
could reproduce the wonders of the twentieth century
in the Stone Age and if quantity counts for anything
I got it for him.
I took the things back to Algeria myself, and accompanied
them to the end of the railroad; but from here I
was recalled to America upon important business.
However, I was able to employ a very trustworthy man
to take charge of the caravan--the same guide, in fact,
who had accompanied me on the previous trip into the
Sahara--and after writing a long letter to Innes in which
I gave him my American address, I saw the expedition head south.
Among the other things which I sent to Innes was over five
hundred miles of double, insulated wire of a very fine gauge.
I had it packed on a special reel at his suggestion, as it
was his idea that he could fasten one end here before he
left and by paying it out through the end of the prospector
lay a telegraph line between the outer and inner worlds.
In my letter I told him to be sure to mark the terminus
of the line very plainly with a high cairn, in case I
was not able to reach him before he set out, so that I
might easily find and communicate with him should he
be so fortunate as to reach Pellucidar.
I received several letters from him after I returned
to America--in fact he took advantage of every
northward-passing caravan to drop me word of some sort.
His last letter was written the day before he intended
to depart. Here it is.
My Dear Friend:
Tomorrow I shall set out in quest of Pellucidar and Dian.
That is if the Arabs don't get me. They have been very nasty
of late. I don't know the cause, but on two occasions they
have threatened my life. One, more friendly than the rest,
told me today that they intended attacking me tonight.
It would be unfortunate should anything of that sort happen
now that I am so nearly ready to depart.
However, maybe I will be as well off, for the nearer the
hour approaches, the slenderer my chances for success appear.
Here is the friendly Arab who is to take this letter north
for me, so good-bye, and God bless you for your kindness
The Arab tells me to hurry, for he sees a cloud of sand
to the south--he thinks it is the party coming to murder me,
and he doesn't want to be found with me. So goodbye again.
A year later found me at the end of the railroad
once more, headed for the spot where I had left Innes.
My first disappointment was when I discovered that my
old guide had died within a few weeks of my return,
nor could I find any member of my former party who could
lead me to the same spot.
For months I searched that scorching land, interviewing
countless desert sheiks in the hope that at last I might find
one who had heard of Innes and his wonderful iron mole.
Constantly my eyes scanned the blinding waste of sand
for the ricky cairn beneath which I was to find the wires
leading to Pellucidar--but always was I unsuccessful.
And always do these awful questions harass me when I
think of David Innes and his strange adventures.
Did the Arabs murder him, after all, just on the eve
of his departure? Or, did he again turn the nose of his
iron monster toward the inner world? Did he reach it,
or lies he somewhere buried in the heart of the great crust?
And if he did come again to Pellucidar was it to break
through into the bottom of one of her great island seas,
or among some savage race far, far from the land of his
Does the answer lie somewhere upon the bosom of the
broad Sahara, at the end of two tiny wires, hidden beneath
a lost cairn? I wonder.