The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 108

time the previous evening and knew that it
marked the ending of the day, when the men of Omean spread their silks
upon the deck of battleship and cruiser and fall into the dreamless
sleep of Mars.

Our guard entered to inspect us for the last time before the new day
broke upon the world above. His duty was soon performed and the heavy
door of our prison closed behind him--we were alone for the night.

I gave him time to return to his quarters, as Xodar said he probably
would do, then I sprang to the grated window and surveyed the nearby
waters. At a little distance from the island, a quarter of a mile
perhaps, lay a monster battleship, while between her and the shore were
a number of smaller cruisers and one-man scouts. Upon the battleship
alone was there a watch. I could see him plainly in the upper works of
the ship, and as I watched I saw him spread his sleeping silks upon the
tiny platform in which he was stationed. Soon he threw himself at full
length upon his couch. The discipline on Omean was lax indeed. But it
is not to be wondered at since no enemy guessed the existence upon
Barsoom of such a fleet, or even of the First Born, or the Sea of
Omean. Why indeed should they maintain a watch?

Presently I dropped to the floor again and talked with Xodar,
describing the various craft I had seen.

"There is one there," he said, "my personal property, built to carry
five men, that is the swiftest of the swift. If we can board her we
can at least make a memorable run for liberty," and then he went on to
describe to me the equipment of the boat; her engines, and all that
went to make her the flier that she was.

In his explanation I recognized a trick of gearing that Kantos Kan had
taught me that time we sailed under false names in the navy of Zodanga
beneath Sab Than, the Prince. And I knew then that the First Born had
stolen it from the ships of Helium, for only they are thus geared. And
I knew too that Xodar spoke the truth when he lauded the speed of his
little craft, for nothing that cleaves the thin air of Mars can
approximate the speed of the ships of Helium.

We decided to wait for an hour at least until all the stragglers had
sought their silks. In the

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