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At the Earth's Core

Chapter 4. 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.
 
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