The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 125

I might plunge headlong
into some terrible pit or meet with some of the ghoulish creatures that
inhabit these lower worlds beneath the dead cities of dying Mars.
There filtered to me a faint radiance from the torch of the men
behind--just enough to permit me to trace the direction of the winding
passageways directly before me, and so keep me from dashing myself
against the walls at the turns.

Presently I came to a place where five corridors diverged from a common
point. I had hastened along one of them for some little distance when
suddenly the faint light of the torch disappeared from behind me. I
paused to listen for sounds of the party behind me, but the silence was
as utter as the silence of the tomb.

Quickly I realized that the warriors had taken one of the other
corridors with their prisoner, and so I hastened back with a feeling of
considerable relief to take up a much safer and more desirable position
behind them. It was much slower work returning, however, than it had
been coming, for now the darkness was as utter as the silence.

It was necessary to feel every foot of the way back with my hand
against the side wall, that I might not pass the spot where the five
roads radiated. After what seemed an eternity to me, I reached the
place and recognized it by groping across the entrances to the several
corridors until I had counted five of them. In not one, however,
showed the faintest sign of light.

I listened intently, but the naked feet of the green men sent back no
guiding echoes, though presently I thought I detected the clank of side
arms in the far distance of the middle corridor. Up this, then, I
hastened, searching for the light, and stopping to listen occasionally
for a repetition of the sound; but soon I was forced to admit that I
must have been following a blind lead, as only darkness and silence
rewarded my efforts.

Again I retraced my steps toward the parting of the ways, when to my
surprise I came upon the entrance to three diverging corridors, any one
of which I might have traversed in my hasty dash after the false clue I
had been following. Here was a pretty fix, indeed! Once back at the
point where the five passageways met, I might wait with some assurance
for the return of the warriors with Tars Tarkas. My knowledge of their
customs lent colour to the belief that he

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