The pit, which my imagination had pictured as bottomless, proved to be not more than a hundred feet in depth; but as its walls were smoothly polished it might as well have been a thousand feet, for I could never hope to escape without outside assistance.
To my amazement I found the sides of the pit, that I had thought smooth, lined with shelves, upon which were the most delicious viands and liquid refreshments that Okar afforded.
Why not end my misery now rather than drag out a few more wretched days in this dark pit? Slowly I raised one of the little pellets to my lips.
That was the word the yellow guardsman had whispered in my ear as I stood upon the verge of the Pit of Plenty.
It appeared from the little this man said to those about him, which was quickly repeated all over the circle, that the lost man had fallen upon a mass of crumbled rubbish with which the pit was half choked up, and that his fall had been further broken by some jagged earth at the side.
When all was ready, this man, still taking his last hurried charges from his comrades and the surgeon after the windlass had begun to lower him, disappeared into the pit. The rope went out as before, the signal was made as before, and the windlass stopped.
'I ha' fell into th' pit, my dear, as have cost wi'in the knowledge o' old fok now livin, hundreds and hundreds o' men's lives - fathers, sons, brothers, dear to thousands an' thousands, an' keeping 'em fro' want and hunger.
"Of course, these openings which lead from contiguous pits to those beneath government buildings are always guarded, and so, while I easily came to the entrance to the pits beneath the palace which Zat Arras is occupying, I found there a Zodangan soldier on guard.
At the point where we left the pits of Zat Arras we found the body of the guard Carthoris had slain.
Some half-hour later we came to the pits beneath our own palace, and soon thereafter emerged into the audience chamber itself, where we found Kantos Kan, Tars Tarkas, Hor Vastus, and Xodar awaiting us most impatiently.
And as he puzzled over the covered pit, there loomed suddenly before his mental vision a huge, gray-black bulk which lumbered ponderously along a jungle trail.
For an instant Tantor, the elephant, paused with upraised trunk and tail, with great ears up-pricked, and then he swung on along the trail at a rapid, shuffling pace--straight toward the covered pit with its sharpened stakes upstanding in the ground.
At the pit's verge the ape-man dropped to the ground in the center of the trail.
A student who saw him remarked, "That's the way all bad governors should come out of their governments, as this sinner comes out of the depths of the pit
, dead with hunger, pale, and I suppose without a farthing."
He had not minded it when the Tarmangani squatted upon the verge of the pit
and looked down upon him, for had not this Tarmangani fed him?