The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 60

feet above the surface of Barsoom, and
then, at last, the thing he had hoped for occurred. He was carried
within reach of the cordage where the warrior still clung, though with
rapidly diminishing strength. Catching one leg on a loop of the tangled
strands Gahan pulled himself close enough to seize another quite near
to the fellow. Clinging precariously to this new hold the jed slowly
drew in the landing leather, down which he had clambered until he could
grasp the hook at its end. This he fastened to a ring in the warrior's
harness, just before the man's weakened fingers slipped from their hold
upon the cordage.

Temporarily, at least, he had saved the life of his subject, and now he
turned his attention toward insuring his own safety. Inextricably
entangled in the mess to which he was clinging were numerous other
landing hooks such as he had attached to the warrior's harness, and
with one of these he sought to secure himself until the storm should
abate sufficiently to permit him to climb to the deck, but even as he
reached for one that swung near him the ship was caught in a renewed
burst of the storm's fury, the thrashing cordage whipped and snapped to
the lunging of the great craft and one of the heavy metal hooks,
lashing through the air, struck the Jed of Gathol fair between the eyes.

Momentarily stunned, Gahan's fingers slipped from their hold upon the
cordage and the man shot downward through the thin air of dying Mars
toward the ground three thousand feet beneath, while upon the deck of
the rolling Vanator his faithful warriors clung to their lashings all
unconscious of the fate of their beloved leader; nor was it until more
than an hour later, after the storm had materially subsided, that they
realized he was lost, or knew the self-sacrificing heroism of the act
that had sealed his doom. The Vanator now rested upon an even keel as
she was carried along by a strong, though steady, wind. The warriors
had cast off their deck lashings and the officers were taking account
of losses and damage when a weak cry was heard from oversides,
attracting their attention to the man hanging in the cordage beneath
the keel. Strong arms hoisted him to the deck and then it was that the
crew of the Vanator learned of the heroism of their jed and his end.
How far they had traveled since his loss they could only vaguely guess,
nor could they return in search of him in the disabled condition of the
ship.

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