A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 16

the party swung from its
fastenings beside his saddle in such a way as to strike against the
butt of his great metal-shod spear I should have snuffed out without
ever knowing that death was near me. But the little sound caused me to
turn, and there upon me, not ten feet from my breast, was the point of
that huge spear, a spear forty feet long, tipped with gleaming metal,
and held low at the side of a mounted replica of the little devils I
had been watching.

But how puny and harmless they now looked beside this huge and terrific
incarnation of hate, of vengeance and of death. The man himself, for
such I may call him, was fully fifteen feet in height and, on Earth,
would have weighed some four hundred pounds. He sat his mount as we
sit a horse, grasping the animal's barrel with his lower limbs, while
the hands of his two right arms held his immense spear low at the side
of his mount; his two left arms were outstretched laterally to help
preserve his balance, the thing he rode having neither bridle or reins
of any description for guidance.

And his mount! How can earthly words describe it! It towered ten feet
at the shoulder; had four legs on either side; a broad flat tail,
larger at the tip than at the root, and which it held straight out
behind while running; a gaping mouth which split its head from its
snout to its long, massive neck.

Like its master, it was entirely devoid of hair, but was of a dark
slate color and exceeding smooth and glossy. Its belly was white, and
its legs shaded from the slate of its shoulders and hips to a vivid
yellow at the feet. The feet themselves were heavily padded and
nailless, which fact had also contributed to the noiselessness of their
approach, and, in common with a multiplicity of legs, is a
characteristic feature of the fauna of Mars. The highest type of man
and one other animal, the only mammal existing on Mars, alone have
well-formed nails, and there are absolutely no hoofed animals in
existence there.

Behind this first charging demon trailed nineteen others, similar in
all respects, but, as I learned later, bearing individual
characteristics peculiar to themselves; precisely as no two of us are
identical although we are all cast in a similar mold. This picture, or
rather materialized nightmare, which I have described at length, made
but one terrible and swift impression on me as I turned

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