A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 11

that if the sensations I endured
during the next few minutes were fear, then may God help the coward,
for cowardice is of a surety its own punishment.

To be held paralyzed, with one's back toward some horrible and unknown
danger from the very sound of which the ferocious Apache warriors turn
in wild stampede, as a flock of sheep would madly flee from a pack of
wolves, seems to me the last word in fearsome predicaments for a man
who had ever been used to fighting for his life with all the energy of
a powerful physique.

Several times I thought I heard faint sounds behind me as of somebody
moving cautiously, but eventually even these ceased, and I was left to
the contemplation of my position without interruption. I could but
vaguely conjecture the cause of my paralysis, and my only hope lay in
that it might pass off as suddenly as it had fallen upon me.

Late in the afternoon my horse, which had been standing with dragging
rein before the cave, started slowly down the trail, evidently in
search of food and water, and I was left alone with my mysterious
unknown companion and the dead body of my friend, which lay just within
my range of vision upon the ledge where I had placed it in the early
morning.

From then until possibly midnight all was silence, the silence of the
dead; then, suddenly, the awful moan of the morning broke upon my
startled ears, and there came again from the black shadows the sound of
a moving thing, and a faint rustling as of dead leaves. The shock to
my already overstrained nervous system was terrible in the extreme, and
with a superhuman effort I strove to break my awful bonds. It was an
effort of the mind, of the will, of the nerves; not muscular, for I
could not move even so much as my little finger, but none the less
mighty for all that. And then something gave, there was a momentary
feeling of nausea, a sharp click as of the snapping of a steel wire,
and I stood with my back against the wall of the cave facing my unknown
foe.

And then the moonlight flooded the cave, and there before me lay my own
body as it had been lying all these hours, with the eyes staring toward
the open ledge and the hands resting limply upon the ground. I looked
first at my lifeless clay there upon the floor of the cave and then
down at myself in utter bewilderment;

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