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7. VII. FREEDOM
Once out of the direct path of the animal, fear of it left me, but another emotion as quickly gripped me--hope of escape that the demoralized condition of the guards made possible for the instant.
I thought of Perry, but for the hope that I might better encompass his release if myself free I should have put the thought of freedom from me at once. As it was I hastened on toward the right searching for an exit toward which no Sagoths were fleeing, and at last I found it--a low, narrow aperture leading into a dark corridor.
Without thought of the possible consequence, I darted into the shadows of the tunnel, feeling my way along through the gloom for some distance. The noises of the amphitheater had grown fainter and fainter until now all was as silent as the tomb about me. Faint light filtered from above through occasional ventilating and lighting tubes, but it was scarce sufficient to enable my human eyes to cope with the darkness, and so I was forced to move with extreme care, feeling my way along step by step with a hand upon the wall beside me.
Presently the light increased and a moment later, to my delight, I came upon a flight of steps leading upward, at the top of which the brilliant light of the noonday sun shone through an opening in the ground.
Cautiously I crept up the stairway to the tunnel's end, and peering out saw the broad plain of Phutra before me. The numerous lofty, granite towers which mark the several entrances to the subterranean city were all in front of me--behind, the plain stretched level and unbroken to the nearby foothills. I had come to the surface, then, beyond the city, and my chances for escape seemed much enhanced.
My first impulse was to await darkness before attempting to cross the plain, so deeply implanted are habits of thought; but of a sudden I recollected the perpetual noonday brilliance which envelopes Pellucidar, and with a smile I stepped forth into the day-light.
Rank grass, waist high, grows upon the plain of Phutra--the gorgeous flowering grass of the inner world, each particular blade of which is tipped with a tiny, five-pointed blossom--brilliant little stars of varying colors that twinkle in the green foliage to add still another charm to the weird, yet lovely, land-scape.
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