The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 45

would be a little better chance by night, but even then the
ramparts are well guarded; possibly better than by day. There are
fewer abroad in the courts and gardens, though," said Thuvia.

"What is the hour?" I asked.

"It was midnight when you released me from my chains," said Thuvia.
"Two hours later we reached the storeroom. There you slept for
fourteen hours. It must now be nearly sundown again. Come, we will go
to some nearby window in the cliff and make sure."

So saying, she led the way through winding corridors until at a sudden
turn we came upon an opening which overlooked the Valley Dor.

At our right the sun was setting, a huge red orb, below the western
range of Otz. A little below us stood the Holy Thern on watch upon his
balcony. His scarlet robe of office was pulled tightly about him in
anticipation of the cold that comes so suddenly with darkness as the
sun sets. So rare is the atmosphere of Mars that it absorbs very
little heat from the sun. During the daylight hours it is always
extremely hot; at night it is intensely cold. Nor does the thin
atmosphere refract the sun's rays or diffuse its light as upon Earth.
There is no twilight on Mars. When the great orb of day disappears
beneath the horizon the effect is precisely as that of the
extinguishing of a single lamp within a chamber. From brilliant light
you are plunged without warning into utter darkness. Then the moons
come; the mysterious, magic moons of Mars, hurtling like monster
meteors low across the face of the planet.

The declining sun lighted brilliantly the eastern banks of Korus, the
crimson sward, the gorgeous forest. Beneath the trees we saw feeding
many herds of plant men. The adults stood aloft upon their toes and
their mighty tails, their talons pruning every available leaf and twig.
It was then that I understood the careful trimming of the trees which
had led me to form the mistaken idea when first I opened my eyes upon
the grove that it was the playground of a civilized people.

As we watched, our eyes wandered to the rolling Iss, which issued from
the base of the cliffs beneath us. Presently there emerged from the
mountain a canoe laden with lost souls from the outer world. There
were a dozen of them. All were of the highly civilized and cultured
race of red men who are dominant on

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