The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 46

Mars.

The eyes of the herald upon the balcony beneath us fell upon the doomed
party as soon as did ours. He raised his head and leaning far out over
the low rail that rimmed his dizzy perch, voiced the shrill, weird wail
that called the demons of this hellish place to the attack.

For an instant the brutes stood with stiffly erected ears, then they
poured from the grove toward the river's bank, covering the distance
with great, ungainly leaps.

The party had landed and was standing on the sward as the awful horde
came in sight. There was a brief and futile effort of defence. Then
silence as the huge, repulsive shapes covered the bodies of their
victims and scores of sucking mouths fastened themselves to the flesh
of their prey.

I turned away in disgust.

"Their part is soon over," said Thuvia. "The great white apes get the
flesh when the plant men have drained the arteries. Look, they are
coming now."

As I turned my eyes in the direction the girl indicated, I saw a dozen
of the great white monsters running across the valley toward the river
bank. Then the sun went down and darkness that could almost be felt
engulfed us.

Thuvia lost no time in leading us toward the corridor which winds back
and forth up through the cliffs toward the surface thousands of feet
above the level on which we had been.

Twice great banths, wandering loose through the galleries, blocked our
progress, but in each instance Thuvia spoke a low word of command and
the snarling beasts slunk sullenly away.

"If you can dissolve all our obstacles as easily as you master these
fierce brutes I can see no difficulties in our way," I said to the
girl, smiling. "How do you do it?"

She laughed, and then shuddered.

"I do not quite know," she said. "When first I came here I angered
Sator Throg, because I repulsed him. He ordered me to be thrown into
one of the great pits in the inner gardens. It was filled with banths.
In my own country I had been accustomed to command. Something in my
voice, I do not know what, cowed the beasts as they sprang to attack me.

"Instead of tearing me to pieces, as Sator Throg had desired, they
fawned at my feet. So greatly were Sator Throg and his friends amused
by the sight that they kept me to train and handle the terrible
creatures. I know them all by name. There are many

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