The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 127

Retreat was cut off in all directions,
unless I chose to charge one of the beasts. Even then I had no doubt
but that the others would hurl themselves upon my back. I could not
even guess the size or nature of the weird creatures. That they were
of goodly proportions I guessed from the fact that the eyes were on a
level with my own.

Why is it that darkness so magnifies our dangers? By day I would have
charged the great banth itself, had I thought it necessary, but hemmed
in by the darkness of these silent pits I hesitated before a pair of
eyes.

Soon I saw that the matter shortly would be taken entirely from my
hands, for the eyes at my right were moving slowly nearer me, as were
those at my left and those behind and before me. Gradually they were
closing in upon me--but still that awful stealthy silence!

For what seemed hours the eyes approached gradually closer and closer,
until I felt that I should go mad for the horror of it. I had been
constantly turning this way and that to prevent any sudden rush from
behind, until I was fairly worn out. At length I could endure it no
longer, and, taking a fresh grasp upon my long-sword, I turned suddenly
and charged down upon one of my tormentors.

As I was almost upon it the thing retreated before me, but a sound from
behind caused me to wheel in time to see three pairs of eyes rushing at
me from the rear. With a cry of rage I turned to meet the cowardly
beasts, but as I advanced they retreated as had their fellow. Another
glance over my shoulder discovered the first eyes sneaking on me again.
And again I charged, only to see the eyes retreat before me and hear
the muffled rush of the three at my back.

Thus we continued, the eyes always a little closer in the end than they
had been before, until I thought that I should go mad with the terrible
strain of the ordeal. That they were waiting to spring upon my back
seemed evident, and that it would not be long before they succeeded was
equally apparent, for I could not endure the wear of this repeated
charge and countercharge indefinitely. In fact, I could feel myself
weakening from the mental and physical strain I had been undergoing.

At that moment I caught another glimpse from the corner of my eye of
the

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