I hastened to the cliff edge above Ja and helped him to a
secure footing. He would not listen to any thanks for his attempt
to save me, which had come so near miscarrying.
"I immediately set out in search of you, knowing as I did that
you must be entirely unarmed and defenseless against the many
dangers which lurk upon the mainland both in the form of savage
beasts and reptiles, and men as well. I had no difficulty in
tracking you to this point. It is well that I arrived when I
"You saved my life," he replied; "from that moment it became
my duty to protect and befriend you. I would have been no true
Mezop had I evaded my plain duty; but it was a pleasure in this
instance for I like you. I wish that you would come and live with
me. You shall become a member of my tribe. Among us there is the
best of hunting and fishing, and you shall have, to choose a mate
from, the most beautiful girls of Pellucidar. Will you come?"
"Oh, that is easy, my friend," he said. "You need merely to
come to the foot of the highest peak of the Mountains of the
Clouds. There you will find a river which flows into the Lural
Az. Directly opposite the mouth of the river you will see three
large islands far out, so far that they are barely discernible,
the one to the extreme left as you face them from the mouth of
the river is Anoroc, where I rule the tribe of Anoroc."
"How large is Pellucidar?" I asked, wondering what sort of
theory these primitive men had concerning the form and substance
of their world.
It was plain to see that the human folk of this inner world
had not advanced far in learning, and the thought that the ugly
Mahars had so outstripped them was a very pathetic one indeed. I
wondered how many ages it would take to lift these people out of
their ignorance even were it given to Perry and me to attempt it.
Possibly we would be killed for our pains as were those men of
the outer world who dared challenge the dense ignorance and
superstitions of the earth's younger days. But it was worth the
effort if the opportunity ever presented itself.
"Ja," I said, "what would you say were I to tell you that in
so far as the Mahars' theory of the shape of Pellucidar is
concerned it is correct?"
"But, Ja," I insisted, "if their theory is incorrect how do
you account for the fact that I was able to pass through the
earth from the outer crust to Pellucidar. If your theory is
correct all is a sea of flame beneath us, where in no peoples
could exist, and yet I come from a great world that is covered
with human beings, and beasts, and birds, and fishes in mighty
I attempted to explain the force of gravity to him, and by the
means of the dropped fruit to illustrate how impossible it would
be for a body to fall off the earth under any circumstances. He
listened so intently that I thought I had made an impression, and
started the train of thought that would lead him to a partial
understanding of the truth. But I was mistaken.
It seemed a hopeless job and I gave it up, temporarily at
least, for when I contemplated the necessity explanation of our
solar system and the universe I realized how futile it would be
to attempt to picture to Ja or any other Pellucidarian the sun,
the moon, the planets, and the countless stars. Those born within
the inner world could no more conceive of such things than can we
of the outer crust reduce to factors appreciable to our finite
minds such terms as space and eternity.
"You would return to captivity?" cried Ja.
He thought for a moment in silence. Then he shook his head
"I see no other way, Ja," I said, "though I can assure you
that I would rather go to Sheol after Perry than to Phutra.
However, Perry is much too pious to make the probability at all
great that I should ever be called upon to rescue him from the
As we talked we had been walking up the canyon down which I
had come to the great ocean and the sithic. Ja did his best to
dissuade me from returning to Phutra, but when he saw that I was
determined to do so, he consented to guide me to a point from
which I could see the plain where lay the city. To my surprise
the distance was but short from the beach where I had again met
Ja. It was evident that I had spent much time following the
windings of a tortuous canon, while just beyond the ridge lay the
city of Phutra near to which I must have come several times.
I was sorry to part with Ja, for I had come to like him very
much indeed. With his hidden city upon the island of Anoroc as a
base, and his savage warriors as escort Perry and I could have
accomplished much in the line of exploration, and I hoped that
were we successful in our effort to escape we might return to
Down the hillside I made my way into the gorgeous field of
flowers, and then across the rolling land toward the shadowless
columns that guard the ways to buried Phutra. At a quarter-mile
from the nearest entrance I was discovered by the Sagoth guard,
and in an instant four of the gorilla-men were dashing toward
"What do you here?" shouted one, and then as he recognized me,
"Ho! It is the slave who claims to be from another world--he who
escaped when the thag ran amuck within the amphitheater. But why
do you return, having once made good your escape?"
"And you come of your free will back to Phutra!" exclaimed one
of the guardsmen.
The Sagoths scratched their heads. This was a new one on them,
and so being stupid brutes they took me to their masters whom
they felt would be better fitted to solve the riddle of my
return, for riddle they still considered it.
So they led me before a slimy Mahar who clung to a slimy rock
within the large room that was the thing's office. With cold,
reptilian eyes the creature seemed to bore through the thin
veneer of my deceit and read my inmost thoughts. It heeded the
story which the Sagoths told of my return to Phutra, watching the
gorilla-men's lips and fingers during the recital. Then it
questioned me through one of the Sagoths.
I hadn't heard of anything of that nature, but I thought best
not to admit it.
The Mahar looked at me in silence for some time after I ceased
speaking and the Sagoth had translated my words to his master.
The creature seemed deep in thought. Presently he communicated
some message to the Sagoth. The latter turned, and motioning me
to follow him, left the presence of the reptile. Behind and on
either side of me marched the balance of the guard.
"You are to appear before the learned ones who will question
you regarding this strange world from which you say you
"Do you happen to know," he asked, "what the Mahars do to
slaves who lie to them?"
"Then be careful that you don't repeat the impossible tale you
told Sol-to-to just now--another world, indeed, where human
beings rule!" he concluded in fine scorn.
"It is your misfortune then," he remarked dryly, "that you may
not be judged by one with but half an eye."
"You may be sentenced to the arena, or go to the pits to be
used in research work by the learned ones," he replied.
"No one knows except the Mahars and those who go to the pits
with them, but as the latter never return, their knowledge does
them but little good. It is said that the learned ones cut up
their subjects while they are yet alive, thus learning many
useful things. However I should not imagine that it would prove
very useful to him who was being cut up; but of course this is
all but conjecture. The chances are that ere long you will know
much more about it than I," and he grinned as he spoke. The
Sagoths have a well-developed sense of humor.
"You saw the two who met the tarag and the thag the time that
you escaped?" he said.
"Your end in the arena would be similar to what was intended
for them," he explained, "though of course the same kinds of
animals might not be employed."
"What becomes of those who go below with the learned ones I do
not know, nor does any other," he replied; "but those who go to
the arena may come out alive and thus regain their liberty, as
did the two whom you saw."
"It is the custom of the Mahars to liberate those who remain
alive within the arena after the beasts depart or are killed.
Thus it has happened that several mighty warriors from far
distant lands, whom we have captured on our slave raids, have
battled the brutes turned in upon them and slain them, thereby
winning their freedom. In the instance which you witnessed the
beasts killed each other, but the result was the same--the man
and woman were liberated, furnished with weapons, and started on
their homeward journey. Upon the left shoulder of each a mark was
burned--the mark of the Mahars--which will forever protect these
two from slaving parties."
"You are quite right," he replied; "but do not felicitate
yourself too quickly should you be sent to the arena, for there
is scarce one in a thousand who comes out alive."
"He will doubtless be called before the investigators
shortly," said he who had brought me back," so have him in
My first act was to hunt up Perry; whom I found poring as
usual over the great tomes that he was supposed to be merely
dusting and rearranging upon new shelves.
"Why, Perry!" I exclaimed, "haven't you a word for me after my
"Are you crazy, Perry? Do you mean to say that you have not
missed me since that time we were separated by the charging thag
within the arena?"
"Perry, you ARE mad," I exclaimed. "Why, the Lord only knows
how long I have been away. I have been to other lands, discovered
a new race of humans within Pellucidar, seen the Mahars at their
worship in their hidden temple, and barely escaped with my life
from them and from a great labyrinthodon that I met afterward,
following my long and tedious wanderings across an unknown world.
I must have been away for months, Perry, and now you barely look
up from your work when I return and insist that we have been
separated but a moment. Is that any way to treat a friend? I'm
surprised at you, Perry, and if I'd thought for a moment that you
cared no more for me than this I should not have returned to
chance death at the hands of the Mahars for your sake."
"David, my boy," he said, "how could you for a moment doubt my
love for you? There is something strange here that I cannot
understand. I know that I am not mad, and I am equally sure that
you are not; but how in the world are we to account for the
strange hallucinations that each of us seems to harbor relative
to the passage of time since last we saw each other. You are
positive that months have gone by, while to me it seems equally
certain that not more than an hour ago I sat beside you in the
amphitheater. Can it be that both of us are right and at the same
time both are wrong? First tell me what time is, and then maybe I
can solve our problem. Do you catch my meaning?"
"Yes," continued the old man, "we are both right. To me, bent
over my book here, there has been no lapse of time. I have done
little or nothing to waste my energies and so have required
neither food nor sleep, but you, on the contrary, have walked and
fought and wasted strength and tissue which must needs be rebuilt
by nutriment and food, and so, having eaten and slept many times
since last you saw me you naturally measure the lapse of time
largely by these acts. As a matter of fact, David, I am rapidly
coming to the conviction that there is no such thing as
time--surely there can be no time here within Pellucidar, where
there are no means for measuring or recording time. Why, the
Mahars themselves take no account of such a thing as time. I find
here in all their literary works but a single tense, the present.
There seems to be neither past nor future with them. Of course it
is impossible for our outer-earthly minds to grasp such a
condition, but our recent experiences seem to demonstrate its
"Come!" commanded the intruder, beckoning to me. "The
investigators would speak with you."
Tears came to Perry's eyes.