A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 135

my lucky escape, when a well-directed
shot from the cruiser exploded at the prow of my little craft. The
concussion nearly capsized her, and with a sickening plunge she hurtled
downward through the dark night.

How far I fell before I regained control of the plane I do not know,
but I must have been very close to the ground when I started to rise
again, as I plainly heard the squealing of animals below me. Rising
again I scanned the heavens for my pursuers, and finally making out
their lights far behind me, saw that they were landing, evidently in
search of me.

Not until their lights were no longer discernible did I venture to
flash my little lamp upon my compass, and then I found to my
consternation that a fragment of the projectile had utterly destroyed
my only guide, as well as my speedometer. It was true I could follow
the stars in the general direction of Helium, but without knowing the
exact location of the city or the speed at which I was traveling my
chances for finding it were slim.

Helium lies a thousand miles southwest of Zodanga, and with my compass
intact I should have made the trip, barring accidents, in between four
and five hours. As it turned out, however, morning found me speeding
over a vast expanse of dead sea bottom after nearly six hours of
continuous flight at high speed. Presently a great city showed below
me, but it was not Helium, as that alone of all Barsoomian metropolises
consists in two immense circular walled cities about seventy-five miles
apart and would have been easily distinguishable from the altitude at
which I was flying.

Believing that I had come too far to the north and west, I turned back
in a southeasterly direction, passing during the forenoon several other
large cities, but none resembling the description which Kantos Kan had
given me of Helium. In addition to the twin-city formation of Helium,
another distinguishing feature is the two immense towers, one of vivid
scarlet rising nearly a mile into the air from the center of one of the
cities, while the other, of bright yellow and of the same height, marks
her sister.



About noon I passed low over a great dead city of ancient Mars, and as
I skimmed out across the plain beyond I came full upon several thousand
green warriors engaged in a terrific battle. Scarcely had I seen them
than a volley of shots was directed at me, and with the almost

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