The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 4

darkness that I had
experienced twenty years before, and then I opened my eyes in another
world, beneath the burning rays of a hot sun, which beat through a tiny
opening in the dome of the mighty forest in which I lay.

The scene that met my eyes was so un-Martian that my heart sprang to my
throat as the sudden fear swept through me that I had been aimlessly
tossed upon some strange planet by a cruel fate.

Why not? What guide had I through the trackless waste of
interplanetary space? What assurance that I might not as well be
hurtled to some far-distant star of another solar system, as to Mars?

I lay upon a close-cropped sward of red grasslike vegetation, and about
me stretched a grove of strange and beautiful trees, covered with huge
and gorgeous blossoms and filled with brilliant, voiceless birds. I
call them birds since they were winged, but mortal eye ne'er rested on
such odd, unearthly shapes.

The vegetation was similar to that which covers the lawns of the red
Martians of the great waterways, but the trees and birds were unlike
anything that I had ever seen upon Mars, and then through the further
trees I could see that most un-Martian of all sights--an open sea, its
blue waters shimmering beneath the brazen sun.

As I rose to investigate further I experienced the same ridiculous
catastrophe that had met my first attempt to walk under Martian
conditions. The lesser attraction of this smaller planet and the
reduced air pressure of its greatly rarefied atmosphere, afforded so
little resistance to my earthly muscles that the ordinary exertion of
the mere act of rising sent me several feet into the air and
precipitated me upon my face in the soft and brilliant grass of this
strange world.

This experience, however, gave me some slightly increased assurance
that, after all, I might indeed be in some, to me, unknown corner of
Mars, and this was very possible since during my ten years' residence
upon the planet I had explored but a comparatively tiny area of its
vast expanse.

I arose again, laughing at my forgetfulness, and soon had mastered once
more the art of attuning my earthly sinews to these changed conditions.

As I walked slowly down the imperceptible slope toward the sea I could
not help but note the park-like appearance of the sward and trees. The
grass was as close-cropped and carpet-like as some old English lawn and
the trees themselves showed evidence of careful pruning to a uniform
height of about fifteen feet from the ground,

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