The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 13

and discover, if possible, the sanctuary we sought. The
suggestion was a good one, for thus many valuable minutes might be
saved to us, and, throwing every ounce of my earthly muscles into the
effort, I cleared the remaining distance between myself and the cliffs
in great leaps and bounds that put me at their base in a moment.

The cliffs rose perpendicular directly from the almost level sward of
the valley. There was no accumulation of fallen debris, forming a more
or less rough ascent to them, as is the case with nearly all other
cliffs I have ever seen. The scattered boulders that had fallen from
above and lay upon or partly buried in the turf, were the only
indication that any disintegration of the massive, towering pile of
rocks ever had taken place.

My first cursory inspection of the face of the cliffs filled my heart
with forebodings, since nowhere could I discern, except where the weird
herald stood still shrieking his shrill summons, the faintest
indication of even a bare foothold upon the lofty escarpment.

To my right the bottom of the cliff was lost in the dense foliage of
the forest, which terminated at its very foot, rearing its gorgeous
foliage fully a thousand feet against its stern and forbidding
neighbour.

To the left the cliff ran, apparently unbroken, across the head of the
broad valley, to be lost in the outlines of what appeared to be a range
of mighty mountains that skirted and confined the valley in every
direction.

Perhaps a thousand feet from me the river broke, as it seemed, directly
from the base of the cliffs, and as there seemed not the remotest
chance for escape in that direction I turned my attention again toward
the forest.

The cliffs towered above me a good five thousand feet. The sun was not
quite upon them and they loomed a dull yellow in their own shade. Here
and there they were broken with streaks and patches of dusky red,
green, and occasional areas of white quartz.

Altogether they were very beautiful, but I fear that I did not regard
them with a particularly appreciative eye on this, my first inspection
of them.

Just then I was absorbed in them only as a medium of escape, and so, as
my gaze ran quickly, time and again, over their vast expanse in search
of some cranny or crevice, I came suddenly to loathe them as the
prisoner must loathe the cruel and impregnable walls of his dungeon.

Tars Tarkas was approaching me rapidly, and still more rapidly came the
awful

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