The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 29

next to negligible, for as she swung
nimbly to the lower branches the creature in pursuit of her crashed
among the foliage almost upon her as it sprang upward to seize her. It
was only a combination of good fortune and agility that saved her. A
stout branch deflected the raking talons of the carnivore, but so close
was the call that a giant forearm brushed her flesh in the instant
before she scrambled to the higher branches.

Baffled, the banth gave vent to his rage and disappointment in a series
of frightful roars that caused the very ground to tremble, and to these
were added the roarings and the growlings and the moanings of his
fellows as they approached from every direction, in the hope of
wresting from him whatever of his kill they could take by craft or
prowess. And now he turned snarling upon them as they circled the tree,
while the girl, huddled in a crotch above them, looked down upon the
gaunt, yellow monsters padding on noiseless feet in a restless circle
about her. She wondered now at the strange freak of fate that had
permitted her to come down this far into the valley by night unharmed,
but even more she wondered how she was to return to the hills. She knew
that she would not dare venture it by night and she guessed, too, that
by day she might be confronted by even graver perils. To depend upon
this valley for sustenance she now saw to be beyond the pale of
possibility because of the banths that would keep her from food and
water by night, while the dwellers in the towers would doubtless make
it equally impossible for her to forage by day. There was but one
solution of her difficulty and that was to return to her flier and pray
that the wind would waft her to some less terrorful land; but when
might she return to the flier? The banths gave little evidence of
relinquishing hope of her, and even if they wandered out of sight would
she dare risk the attempt? She doubted it.

Hopeless indeed seemed her situation--hopeless it was.



As Thuria, swift racer of the night, shot again into the sky the scene
changed. As by magic a new aspect fell athwart the face of Nature. It
was as though in the instant one had been transported from one planet
to another. It was the age-old miracle of the Martian nights that is
always new, even to Martians--two moons resplendent in the heavens,
where one had been but now; conflicting, fast-changing

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