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At the Earth's Core

Chapter 9. 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.
I must have come out upon the opposite side of the island from that at which Ja and I had
entered it, for the mainland was nowhere in sight. For a long time I paddled around the
shore, though well out, before I saw the mainland in the distance. At the sight of it I lost
no time in directing my course toward it, for I had long since made up my mind to return
to Phutra and give myself up that I might be once more with Perry and Ghak the Hairy
One.
I felt that I was a fool ever to have attempted to escape alone, especially in view of the
fact that our plans were already well formulated to make a break for freedom together. Of
course I realized that the chances of the success of our proposed venture were slim
indeed, but I knew that I never could enjoy freedom without Perry so long as the old man
lived, and I had learned that the probability that I might find him was less than slight.
Had Perry been dead, I should gladly have pitted my strength and wit against the savage
and primordial world in which I found myself. I could have lived in seclusion within
some rocky cave until I had found the means to outfit myself with the crude weapons of
the Stone Age, and then set out in search of her whose image had now become the
constant companion of my waking hours, and the central and beloved figure of my
dreams.
But, to the best of my knowledge, Perry still lived and it was my duty and wish to be
again with him, that we might share the dangers and vicissitudes of the strange world we
had discovered. And Ghak, too; the great, shaggy man had found a place in the hearts of
us both, for he was indeed every inch a man and king. Uncouth, perhaps, and brutal, too,
 
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