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Lost World

14.
"Our Eyes Have Seen Great Wonders"
I write this from day to day, but I trust that before I come to the end of it, I may be able to
say that the light shines, at last, through our clouds. We are held here with no clear means
of making our escape, and bitterly we chafe against it. Yet, I can well imagine that the
day may come when we may be glad that we were kept, against our will, to see
something more of the wonders of this singular place, and of the creatures who inhabit it.
The victory of the Indians and the annihilation of the ape-men, marked the turning point
of our fortunes. From then onwards, we were in truth masters of the plateau, for the
natives looked upon us with a mixture of fear and gratitude, since by our strange powers
we had aided them to destroy their hereditary foe. For their own sakes they would,
perhaps, be glad to see the departure of such formidable and incalculable people, but they
have not themselves suggested any way by which we may reach the plains below. There
had been, so far as we could follow their signs, a tunnel by which the place could be
approached, the lower exit of which we had seen from below. By this, no doubt, both
ape-men and Indians had at different epochs reached the top, and Maple White with his
companion had taken the same way. Only the year before, however, there had been a
terrific earthquake, and the upper end of the tunnel had fallen in and completely
disappeared. The Indians now could only shake their heads and shrug their shoulders
when we expressed by signs our desire to descend. It may be that they cannot, but it may
also be that they will not, help us to get away.
At the end of the victorious campaign the surviving ape-folk were driven across the
plateau (their wailings were horrible) and established in the neighborhood of the Indian
caves, where they would, from now onwards, be a servile race under the eyes of their
masters. It was a rude, raw, primeval version of the Jews in Babylon or the Israelites in
Egypt. At night we could hear from amid the trees the long-drawn cry, as some primitive
Ezekiel mourned for fallen greatness and recalled the departed glories of Ape Town.
Hewers of wood and drawers of water, such were they from now onwards.
We had returned across the plateau with our allies two days after the battle, and made our
camp at the foot of their cliffs. They would have had us share their caves with them, but
Lord John would by no means consent to it considering that to do so would put us in their
power if they were treacherously disposed. We kept our independence, therefore, and had
our weapons ready for any emergency, while preserving the most friendly relations. We
also continually visited their caves, which were most remarkable places, though whether
made by man or by Nature we have never been able to determine. They were all on the
one stratum, hollowed out of some soft rock which lay between the volcanic basalt
forming the ruddy cliffs above them, and the hard granite which formed their base.
The openings were about eighty feet above the ground, and were led up to by long stone
stairs, so narrow and steep that no large animal could mount them. Inside they were warm
and dry, running in straight passages of varying length into the side of the hill, with
smooth gray walls decorated with many excellent pictures done with charred sticks and
 
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