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Chapter 23 Tarzan: The Lost Adventure by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Urs, frightened away from the flaming, collapsing city, had primarily taken to the road for their escape route. The time of Ur was finished, for even as Hanson and Billy watched, the city walls began to drop, to fall forward into the moat, revealing the great, burning city.

And then the city itself started to sink. It fell into a massive hole in the earth with an explosion and a burst of dark dust tat flared up and mixed with the ark smoke that already coiled above it like a leprous snake.

All that was left of Ur now was a huge dark hole.

"Oh, God," Hanson said. "No one could have lived through that."

"Don't be so sure," Billy said, stepping out from between jungle trees and onto the beginnings of the grassy plain. "Look there."

Coming toward them, bearing a litter, was Hunt and Jean, and a man they did not recognize.

"My God," Hanson said. "Thank the Lord."

Leaving Wilson bound and unconscious, they bolted across the grasslands toward the trio.

Jean couldn't believe her eyes. "Father!"

They laid Jad-bal-ja down, and an ran to her father and he took her in his arms and covered her face with kisses and hugged her tight. "I thought I had lost you," he said.

"And I, you," she said.

Hunt came forward and shook Hanson's and Billy's hand. Billy looked at Nyama. "I do not know you."

"Nor I you," Nyama said. "But you look pretty good."

"So do you."

"That does not mean I will like you," Nyama said. "You looking good."

"No," said Billy, "but it's a better start than thinking I look like back end of zebra."

Jean quickly introduced Nyama to everyone, then said, "We have to watch over Tarzan's lion. He was wounded saving our lives."

Nkima began to bound up and down, making enough noise for a boxcar full of monkeys.

"I think we are neglecting Tarzan's monkey," Hunt said. "He is very spoiled."

"Good monkey," Jean said, and stroked Nkima's head. The little monkey seemed appeased. He leaped to Jean's shoulder and maintained position there.

"And Tarzan?" Hanson asked.

Jean's humor faded. She turned and looked toward where the city of Ur had once been. "I don't know... But I doubt he lives."

Billy said: "If anyone lives from such a thing, it is Tarzan. No one else could. But Tarzan could."

"I believe you're right," Hanson said. "At least, I like to think so."

"Let's go home," Jean said. "And forget Ur."

"As far as I'm concerned," Hanson said. "It's still a lost city."

Billy and Hanson helped bear Jad-bal-ja to where Wilson lay unconscious. They treated the lion's wounds again, and when Wilson awoke, they started back the way they had come, looking for the hobbled zebras. It became apparent that some of the fleeing Urs had taken the mounts for themselves, so they continued on foot, little Nkima actually guiding them along on the proper path.

It took them a month, and they had much hardship, but there were positive side effects. Love bloomed between Nyama and Billy, and Jean decided Hunt wasn't quite as stupid and incompetent as she originally thought. At the end of the month, they reached the outskirts of civilization, anxious to turn Wilson over to the authorities and leave the jungle life.

By this time Jad-bal-ja was well and walking, and on the day before Hanson's party would have reached civilization proper, the lion and Nkima simply disappeared. But not before Jad-bal-ja killed a gazelle and left it in camp as a parting gift. Hanson and his party cooked the meat and ate it, and they never saw Tarzan, Nkima, or Jad-bal-ja again.

Down in the dusty bowels of the earth, Tarzan moved. He had lain unconscious for hours, but now he moved. The earth had fallen on him, but like a wave, it had washed him back against a weak tunnel wall and pushed him through it, and finally the wash had stopped and he awoke inside a deep cavern with walls illuminated by phosphorescence, a mound of dirt at his feet.

Tarzan sat up and found next to him the empty leathery shell of Ebopa's egg. The little beast had freed itself.

Tarzan sniffed the air. The creature was heading down the slope of the cavern, toward the earth's center. This route was most likely how the first Ebopa had arrived, and through some freak accident it had been sealed off from its world. Trapped in the caverns. And now, through another freak accident, the newest Ebopa had opened the way for one of its offspring to return to its source.

Tarzan considered trying to reach topside, but it was impossible to go back the way he had come. It was sealed off by tons of dirt and rock and timbers.

And besides. Why should he go back?

He could imagine only one reason. He allowed himself to think momentarily of Jane, and then he thought of her no more. For now such thoughts were useless and distracting. There was no use wishing for what he could not make come true. Perhaps later. What would come would come. He still lived. Tarzan stood up and started following the path of the cavern.

Down, down, down, toward the center of the earth.

Toward Pellucidar, where his kind were timeless and forever king.

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