The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 111

I pressed it open a crack; enough to discover a dozen blacks
stretched upon their silks in profound slumber. At the far side of the
room a rack held the swords and firearms of the men. Warily I pushed
the door a trifle wider to admit my body. A hinge gave out a resentful
groan. One of the men stirred, and my heart stood still. I cursed
myself for a fool to have thus jeopardized our chances for escape; but
there was nothing for it now but to see the adventure through.

With a spring as swift and as noiseless as a tiger's I lit beside the
guardsman who had moved. My hands hovered about his throat awaiting
the moment that his eyes should open. For what seemed an eternity to
my overwrought nerves I remained poised thus. Then the fellow turned
again upon his side and resumed the even respiration of deep slumber.

Carefully I picked my way between and over the soldiers until I had
gained the rack at the far side of the room. Here I turned to survey
the sleeping men. All were quiet. Their regular breathing rose and
fell in a soothing rhythm that seemed to me the sweetest music I ever
had heard.

Gingerly I drew a long-sword from the rack. The scraping of the
scabbard against its holder as I withdrew it sounded like the filing of
cast iron with a great rasp, and I looked to see the room immediately
filled with alarmed and attacking guardsmen. But none stirred.

The second sword I withdrew noiselessly, but the third clanked in its
scabbard with a frightful din. I knew that it must awaken some of the
men at least, and was on the point of forestalling their attack by a
rapid charge for the doorway, when again, to my intense surprise, not a
black moved. Either they were wondrous heavy sleepers or else the
noises that I made were really much less than they seemed to me.

I was about to leave the rack when my attention was attracted by the
revolvers. I knew that I could not carry more than one away with me,
for I was already too heavily laden to move quietly with any degree of
safety or speed. As I took one of them from its pin my eye fell for
the first time on an open window beside the rack. Ah, here was a
splendid means of escape, for it let directly

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