The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 180

clogging the passage beyond any hope of retreat
for those in advance.

Raising my voice to its utmost, I shouted my command to the dwars ahead
of me.

"Call back the last twenty-five utans," I shouted. "Here seems a way
of escape. Turn back and follow me."

My orders were obeyed by nearer thirty utans, so that some three
thousand men came about and hastened into the teeth of the flood to
reach the corridor up which I directed them.

As the first dwar passed in with his utan I cautioned him to listen
closely for my commands, and under no circumstances to venture into the
open, or leave the pits for the temple proper until I should have come
up with him, "or you know that I died before I could reach you."

The officer saluted and left me. The men filed rapidly past me and
entered the diverging corridor which I hoped would lead to safety. The
water rose breast high. Men stumbled, floundered, and went down. Many
I grasped and set upon their feet again, but alone the work was greater
than I could cope with. Soldiers were being swept beneath the boiling
torrent, never to rise. At length the dwar of the 10th utan took a
stand beside me. He was a valorous soldier, Gur Tus by name, and
together we kept the now thoroughly frightened troops in the semblance
of order and rescued many that would have drowned otherwise.

Djor Kantos, son of Kantos Kan, and a padwar of the fifth utan joined
us when his utan reached the opening through which the men were
fleeing. Thereafter not a man was lost of all the hundreds that
remained to pass from the main corridor to the branch.

As the last utan was filing past us the waters had risen until they
surged about our necks, but we clasped hands and stood our ground until
the last man had passed to the comparative safety of the new
passageway. Here we found an immediate and steep ascent, so that
within a hundred yards we had reached a point above the waters.

For a few minutes we continued rapidly up the steep grade, which I
hoped would soon bring us quickly to the upper pits that let into the
Temple of Issus. But I was to meet with a cruel disappointment.

Suddenly I heard a cry of "fire" far ahead, followed almost at once by
cries of terror and the loud commands of dwars and padwars who were
evidently attempting to direct

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to kill--he felt, vaguely, that the man had earned his life by his brave defense of it on the preceding night, nor did he fancy the odds that were pitted against the lone warrior.