like a partition than a sudden ending of the cave, for
it was constructed not of the material of the cliff, but of something
which felt like very hard wood.
Silently I groped over its surface with my hands, and presently was
rewarded by the feel of the button which as commonly denotes a door on
Mars as does a door knob on Earth.
Gently pressing it, I had the satisfaction of feeling the door slowly
give before me, and in another instant we were looking into a dimly
lighted apartment, which, so far as we could see, was unoccupied.
Without more ado I swung the door wide open and, followed by the huge
Thark, stepped into the chamber. As we stood for a moment in silence
gazing about the room a slight noise behind caused me to turn quickly,
when, to my astonishment, I saw the door close with a sharp click as
though by an unseen hand.
Instantly I sprang toward it to wrench it open again, for something in
the uncanny movement of the thing and the tense and almost palpable
silence of the chamber seemed to portend a lurking evil lying hidden in
this rock-bound chamber within the bowels of the Golden Cliffs.
My fingers clawed futilely at the unyielding portal, while my eyes
sought in vain for a duplicate of the button which had given us ingress.
And then, from unseen lips, a cruel and mocking peal of laughter rang
through the desolate place.
THE CHAMBER OF MYSTERY
For moments after that awful laugh had ceased reverberating through the
rocky room, Tars Tarkas and I stood in tense and expectant silence.
But no further sound broke the stillness, nor within the range of our
vision did aught move.
At length Tars Tarkas laughed softly, after the manner of his strange
kind when in the presence of the horrible or terrifying. It is not an
hysterical laugh, but rather the genuine expression of the pleasure
they derive from the things that move Earth men to loathing or to tears.
Often and again have I seen them roll upon the ground in mad fits of
uncontrollable mirth when witnessing the death agonies of women and
little children beneath the torture of that hellish green Martian
fete--the Great Games.
I looked up at the Thark, a smile upon my own lips, for here in truth
was greater need for a smiling face than a trembling chin.
"What do you make of it all?" I asked. "Where in the deuce are we?"
He looked at me in surprise.
"Where are we?" he repeated.
"Lord, it would take an iron man to keep from shootin' at that awful thing.Page 12
On September twelfth the party scaled a line of sandstone cliffs which crossed their route toward the south; but.Page 14
was killed by a saber-tooth tiger--September 13, 1916.Page 15
A few feet away lay Bradley's rifle.Page 17
the parapet and soon answering shouts were rising from within Fort Dinosaur.Page 21
Figures of reptiles and beasts were painted without regard to any uniform scheme here and there upon the walls.Page 22
"England," replied Bradley, as briefly.Page 24
"Sit here, jaal-lu," he snapped, and Bradley sat down unconscious of the fact that he had been insulted by being called a hyena-man, an appellation of contempt in Caspak.Page 26
The conjectures awakened by even a momentary consideration of the possibilities involved became at once as wildly bizarre as the insane imaginings of a drug addict.Page 28
When he arose, the door was closed, and Fosh-bal-soj was standing over him, his hideous face contorted into an expression of rage and hatred.Page 35
Its various parts, however, were set together with the same strange irregularity that marked the architecture of the city as a whole; and it was capped by an enormous saucer-shaped roof which projected far beyond the eaves, having the appearance of a colossal Chinese coolie hat, inverted.Page 43
For all these eons the Wieroos might have been collecting human skulls from their enemies and their own dead--enough to have built an entire city of them.Page 51
"How came you here?" Bradley shrugged.Page 52
"I do not fear you," she said; "though I do not understand all that you say even though you speak my own tongue and use words that I know.Page 58
"How can we leave here?" she asked.Page 62
There could be but one explanation--they had reached a waterfall in the river, and if the corridor actually terminated here, their escape was effectually cut off, since it was quite evidently impossible to follow the bed of the river and ascend the falls.Page 67
We have escaped from death for a time at least.Page 72
Then the Wieroos dropped swiftly downward to the flower-starred turf that grew almost to the water's edge, the fugitives slipped from their backs, and Bradley told the red-robed creatures they were free to go.Page 79
"And you will come with me to my people? We may live here among them, and you will be a great warrior--oh, when Jor dies you may even be chief, for there is none so mighty as my warrior.Page 80
An hour later the vessel was running close in by a shore of wondrous beauty beside a parklike meadow that stretched back a mile inland to the foot of a plateau when Whitely called attention to a score of figures clambering downward from the elevation to the lowland below.