A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 155

Helium, and it was with
difficulty that I breathed at all. There were a few men still
conscious, and to one of these I spoke.

"If I can open these doors is there a man who can start the engines?" I
asked.

"I can," he replied, "if you open quickly. I can last but a few
moments more. But it is useless, they are both dead and no one else
upon Barsoom knew the secret of these awful locks. For three days men
crazed with fear have surged about this portal in vain attempts to
solve its mystery."

I had no time to talk, I was becoming very weak and it was with
difficulty that I controlled my mind at all.

But, with a final effort, as I sank weakly to my knees I hurled the
nine thought waves at that awful thing before me. The Martian had
crawled to my side and with staring eyes fixed on the single panel
before us we waited in the silence of death.

Slowly the mighty door receded before us. I attempted to rise and
follow it but I was too weak.

"After it," I cried to my companion, "and if you reach the pump room
turn loose all the pumps. It is the only chance Barsoom has to exist
tomorrow!"

From where I lay I opened the second door, and then the third, and as I
saw the hope of Barsoom crawling weakly on hands and knees through the
last doorway I sank unconscious upon the ground.




CHAPTER XXVIII

AT THE ARIZONA CAVE


It was dark when I opened my eyes again. Strange, stiff garments were
upon my body; garments that cracked and powdered away from me as I rose
to a sitting posture.

I felt myself over from head to foot and from head to foot I was
clothed, though when I fell unconscious at the little doorway I had
been naked. Before me was a small patch of moonlit sky which showed
through a ragged aperture.

As my hands passed over my body they came in contact with pockets and
in one of these a small parcel of matches wrapped in oiled paper. One
of these matches I struck, and its dim flame lighted up what appeared
to be a huge cave, toward the back of which I discovered a strange,
still figure huddled over a tiny bench. As I approached it I saw that
it was the dead and mummified remains of a little old woman with long
black hair, and the thing it leaned over was

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