The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 102

the boy had told me that it was but ten feet to the floor
below I experienced the same thrills as though I were hanging above a
bottomless pit. Then I released my hold and dropped--four feet to a
soft cushion of sand.

The boy followed me.

"Raise me to your shoulders," he said, "and I will replace the trap."

This done he took me by the hand, leading me very slowly, with much
feeling about and frequent halts to assure himself that he did not
stray into wrong passageways.

Presently we commenced the descent of a very steep incline.

"It will not be long," he said, "before we shall have light. At the
lower levels we meet the same stratum of phosphorescent rock that
illuminates Omean."

Never shall I forget that trip through the pits of Issus. While it was
devoid of important incidents yet it was filled for me with a strange
charm of excitement and adventure which I think must have hinged
principally on the unguessable antiquity of these long-forgotten
corridors. The things which the Stygian darkness hid from my objective
eye could not have been half so wonderful as the pictures which my
imagination wrought as it conjured to life again the ancient peoples of
this dying world and set them once more to the labours, the intrigues,
the mysteries and the cruelties which they had practised to make their
last stand against the swarming hordes of the dead sea bottoms that had
driven them step by step to the uttermost pinnacle of the world where
they were now intrenched behind an impenetrable barrier of superstition.

In addition to the green men there had been three principal races upon
Barsoom. The blacks, the whites, and a race of yellow men. As the
waters of the planet dried and the seas receded, all other resources
dwindled until life upon the planet became a constant battle for
survival.

The various races had made war upon one another for ages, and the three
higher types had easily bested the green savages of the water places of
the world, but now that the receding seas necessitated constant
abandonment of their fortified cities and forced upon them a more or
less nomadic life in which they became separated into smaller
communities they soon fell prey to the fierce hordes of green men. The
result was a partial amalgamation of the blacks, whites and yellows,
the result of which is shown in the present splendid race of red men.

I had always supposed that all traces of the original races had
disappeared from the

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