At the Earth's Core
Chapter 13. The Sly One
The Sagoths were gaining on us rapidly, for once they had sighted us they had greatly
increased their speed. On and on we stumbled up the narrow canyon that Ghak had
chosen to approach the heights of Sari. On either side rose precipitous cliffs of gorgeous,
parti-colored rock, while beneath our feet a thick mountain grass formed a soft and
noiseless carpet. Since we had entered the canyon we had had no glimpse of our pursuers,
and I was commencing to hope that they had lost our trail and that we would reach the
now rapidly nearing cliffs in time to scale them before we should be overtaken.
Ahead we neither saw nor heard any sign which might betoken the success of Hooja's
mission. By now he should have reached the outposts of the Sarians, and we should at
least hear the savage cries of the tribesmen as they swarmed to arms in answer to their
king's appeal for succor. In another moment the frowning cliffs ahead should be black
with primeval warriors. But nothing of the kind happened--as a matter of fact the Sly One
had betrayed us. At the moment that we expected to see Sarian spearmen charging to our
relief at Hooja's back, the craven traitor was sneaking around the outskirts of the nearest
Sarian village, that he might come up from the other side when it was too late to save us,
claiming that he had become lost among the mountains.
Hooja still harbored ill will against me because of the blow I had struck in Dian's
protection, and his malevolent spirit was equal to sacrificing us all that he might be
revenged upon me.
As we drew nearer the barrier cliffs and no sign of rescuing Sarians appeared Ghak
became both angry and alarmed, and presently as the sound of rapidly approaching
pursuit fell upon our ears, he called to me over his shoulder that we were lost.
A backward glance gave me a glimpse of the first of the Sagoths at the far end of a
considerable stretch of canyon through which we had just passed, and then a sudden
turning shut the ugly creature from my view; but the loud howl of triumphant rage which
rose behind us was evidence that the gorilla-man had sighted us.
Again the canyon veered sharply to the left, but to the right another branch ran on at a
lesser deviation from the general direction, so that appeared more like the main canyon
than the lefthand branch. The Sagoths were now not over two hundred and fifty yards
behind us, and I saw that it was hopeless for us to expect to escape other than by a ruse.
There was a bare chance of saving Ghak and Perry, and as I reached the branching of the
canyon I took the chance.
Pausing there I waited until the foremost Sagoth hove into sight. Ghak and Perry had
disappeared around a bend in the left-hand canyon, and as the Sagoth's savage yell
announced that he had seen me I turned and fled up the right-hand branch. My ruse was
successful, and the entire party of man-hunters raced headlong after me up one canyon
while Ghak bore Perry to safety up the other.