A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 38

were limping perceptibly, and seemed but barely under the control
of their depleted crews. Their fire had ceased entirely and all their
energies seemed focused upon escape. Our warriors then rushed up to
the roofs of the buildings which we occupied and followed the
retreating armada with a continuous fusillade of deadly fire.

One by one, however, the ships managed to dip below the crests of the
outlying hills until only one barely moving craft was in sight. This
had received the brunt of our fire and seemed to be entirely unmanned,
as not a moving figure was visible upon her decks. Slowly she swung
from her course, circling back toward us in an erratic and pitiful
manner. Instantly the warriors ceased firing, for it was quite
apparent that the vessel was entirely helpless, and, far from being in
a position to inflict harm upon us, she could not even control herself
sufficiently to escape.

As she neared the city the warriors rushed out upon the plain to meet
her, but it was evident that she still was too high for them to hope to
reach her decks. From my vantage point in the window I could see the
bodies of her crew strewn about, although I could not make out what
manner of creatures they might be. Not a sign of life was manifest
upon her as she drifted slowly with the light breeze in a southeasterly
direction.

She was drifting some fifty feet above the ground, followed by all but
some hundred of the warriors who had been ordered back to the roofs to
cover the possibility of a return of the fleet, or of reinforcements.
It soon became evident that she would strike the face of the buildings
about a mile south of our position, and as I watched the progress of
the chase I saw a number of warriors gallop ahead, dismount and enter
the building she seemed destined to touch.

As the craft neared the building, and just before she struck, the
Martian warriors swarmed upon her from the windows, and with their
great spears eased the shock of the collision, and in a few moments
they had thrown out grappling hooks and the big boat was being hauled
to ground by their fellows below.

After making her fast, they swarmed the sides and searched the vessel
from stem to stern. I could see them examining the dead sailors,
evidently for signs of life, and presently a party of them appeared
from below dragging a little figure among them. The creature was
considerably

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