The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 14

horde at his heels.

It seemed the forest now or nothing, and I was just on the point of
motioning Tars Tarkas to follow me in that direction when the sun
passed the cliff's zenith, and as the bright rays touched the dull
surface it burst out into a million scintillant lights of burnished
gold, of flaming red, of soft greens, and gleaming whites--a more
gorgeous and inspiring spectacle human eye has never rested upon.

The face of the entire cliff was, as later inspection conclusively
proved, so shot with veins and patches of solid gold as to quite
present the appearance of a solid wall of that precious metal except
where it was broken by outcroppings of ruby, emerald, and diamond
boulders--a faint and alluring indication of the vast and unguessable
riches which lay deeply buried behind the magnificent surface.

But what caught my most interested attention at the moment that the
sun's rays set the cliff's face a-shimmer, was the several black spots
which now appeared quite plainly in evidence high across the gorgeous
wall close to the forest's top, and extending apparently below and
behind the branches.

Almost immediately I recognised them for what they were, the dark
openings of caves entering the solid walls--possible avenues of escape
or temporary shelter, could we but reach them.

There was but a single way, and that led through the mighty, towering
trees upon our right. That I could scale them I knew full well, but
Tars Tarkas, with his mighty bulk and enormous weight, would find it a
task possibly quite beyond his prowess or his skill, for Martians are
at best but poor climbers. Upon the entire surface of that ancient
planet I never before had seen a hill or mountain that exceeded four
thousand feet in height above the dead sea bottoms, and as the ascent
was usually gradual, nearly to their summits they presented but few
opportunities for the practice of climbing. Nor would the Martians
have embraced even such opportunities as might present themselves, for
they could always find a circuitous route about the base of any
eminence, and these roads they preferred and followed in preference to
the shorter but more arduous ways.

However, there was nothing else to consider than an attempt to scale
the trees contiguous to the cliff in an effort to reach the caves above.

The Thark grasped the possibilities and the difficulties of the plan at
once, but there was no alternative, and so we set out rapidly for the
trees nearest the cliff.

Our relentless pursuers were now close to us, so close that

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