A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 12

for there I lay clothed, and yet
here I stood but naked as at the minute of my birth.

The transition had been so sudden and so unexpected that it left me for
a moment forgetful of aught else than my strange metamorphosis. My
first thought was, is this then death! Have I indeed passed over
forever into that other life! But I could not well believe this, as I
could feel my heart pounding against my ribs from the exertion of my
efforts to release myself from the anaesthesis which had held me. My
breath was coming in quick, short gasps, cold sweat stood out from
every pore of my body, and the ancient experiment of pinching revealed
the fact that I was anything other than a wraith.

Again was I suddenly recalled to my immediate surroundings by a
repetition of the weird moan from the depths of the cave. Naked and
unarmed as I was, I had no desire to face the unseen thing which
menaced me.

My revolvers were strapped to my lifeless body which, for some
unfathomable reason, I could not bring myself to touch. My carbine was
in its boot, strapped to my saddle, and as my horse had wandered off I
was left without means of defense. My only alternative seemed to lie
in flight and my decision was crystallized by a recurrence of the
rustling sound from the thing which now seemed, in the darkness of the
cave and to my distorted imagination, to be creeping stealthily upon me.

Unable longer to resist the temptation to escape this horrible place I
leaped quickly through the opening into the starlight of a clear
Arizona night. The crisp, fresh mountain air outside the cave acted as
an immediate tonic and I felt new life and new courage coursing through
me. Pausing upon the brink of the ledge I upbraided myself for what
now seemed to me wholly unwarranted apprehension. I reasoned with
myself that I had lain helpless for many hours within the cave, yet
nothing had molested me, and my better judgment, when permitted the
direction of clear and logical reasoning, convinced me that the noises
I had heard must have resulted from purely natural and harmless causes;
probably the conformation of the cave was such that a slight breeze had
caused the sounds I heard.

I decided to investigate, but first I lifted my head to fill my lungs
with the pure, invigorating night air of the mountains. As I did so I
saw stretching far below me

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