The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 118

not noticeable, but now that I
am trying to keep a horizontal course it is different. The wound in
her bow has opened one of her forward ray tanks."

It was true, and after I had examined the damage I found it a much
graver matter than I had anticipated. Not only was the forced angle at
which we were compelled to maintain the bow in order to keep a
horizontal course greatly impeding our speed, but at the rate that we
were losing our repulsive rays from the forward tanks it was but a
question of an hour or more when we would be floating stern up and
helpless.

We had slightly reduced our speed with the dawning of a sense of
security, but now I took the helm once more and pulled the noble little
engine wide open, so that again we raced north at terrific velocity.
In the meantime Carthoris and Xodar with tools in hand were puttering
with the great rent in the bow in a hopeless endeavour to stem the tide
of escaping rays.

It was still dark when we passed the northern boundary of the ice cap
and the area of clouds. Below us lay a typical Martian landscape.
Rolling ochre sea bottom of long dead seas, low surrounding hills, with
here and there the grim and silent cities of the dead past; great piles
of mighty architecture tenanted only by age-old memories of a once
powerful race, and by the great white apes of Barsoom.

It was becoming more and more difficult to maintain our little vessel
in a horizontal position. Lower and lower sagged the bow until it
became necessary to stop the engine to prevent our flight terminating
in a swift dive to the ground.

As the sun rose and the light of a new day swept away the darkness of
night our craft gave a final spasmodic plunge, turned half upon her
side, and then with deck tilting at a sickening angle swung in a slow
circle, her bow dropping further below her stern each moment.

To hand-rail and stanchion we clung, and finally as we saw the end
approaching, snapped the buckles of our harness to the rings at her
sides. In another moment the deck reared at an angle of ninety degrees
and we hung in our leather with feet dangling a thousand yards above
the ground.

I was swinging quite close to the controlling devices, so I reached out
to the lever that directed the rays of repulsion. The boat responded
to the touch, and very gently we

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