A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 10

I should retain
my mental faculties and yet be unable to move I could not fathom.

I lay facing the opening of the cave and where I could see the short
stretch of trail which lay between the cave and the turn of the cliff
around which the trail led. The noise of the approaching horses had
ceased, and I judged the Indians were creeping stealthily upon me along
the little ledge which led to my living tomb. I remember that I hoped
they would make short work of me as I did not particularly relish the
thought of the innumerable things they might do to me if the spirit
prompted them.

I had not long to wait before a stealthy sound apprised me of their
nearness, and then a war-bonneted, paint-streaked face was thrust
cautiously around the shoulder of the cliff, and savage eyes looked
into mine. That he could see me in the dim light of the cave I was
sure for the early morning sun was falling full upon me through the
opening.

The fellow, instead of approaching, merely stood and stared; his eyes
bulging and his jaw dropped. And then another savage face appeared,
and a third and fourth and fifth, craning their necks over the
shoulders of their fellows whom they could not pass upon the narrow
ledge. Each face was the picture of awe and fear, but for what reason
I did not know, nor did I learn until ten years later. That there were
still other braves behind those who regarded me was apparent from the
fact that the leaders passed back whispered word to those behind them.

Suddenly a low but distinct moaning sound issued from the recesses of
the cave behind me, and, as it reached the ears of the Indians, they
turned and fled in terror, panic-stricken. So frantic were their
efforts to escape from the unseen thing behind me that one of the
braves was hurled headlong from the cliff to the rocks below. Their
wild cries echoed in the canyon for a short time, and then all was
still once more.

The sound which had frightened them was not repeated, but it had been
sufficient as it was to start me speculating on the possible horror
which lurked in the shadows at my back. Fear is a relative term and so
I can only measure my feelings at that time by what I had experienced
in previous positions of danger and by those that I have passed through
since; but I can say without shame

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