The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 179

of twos the soldiers followed him in good order, each company
entering the corridor only at the command of its dwar, or captain.

Before the last company filed from the chamber the water was ankle
deep, and that the men were nervous was quite evident. Entirely
unaccustomed to water except in quantities sufficient for drinking and
bathing purposes the red Martians instinctively shrank from it in such
formidable depths and menacing activity. That they were undaunted
while it swirled and eddied about their ankles, spoke well for their
bravery and their discipline.

I was the last to leave the chamber of the submarine, and as I followed
the rear of the column toward the corridor, I moved through water to my
knees. The corridor, too, was flooded to the same depth, for its floor
was on a level with the floor of the chamber from which it led, nor was
there any perceptible rise for many yards.

The march of the troops through the corridor was as rapid as was
consistent with the number of men that moved through so narrow a
passage, but it was not ample to permit us to gain appreciably on the
pursuing tide. As the level of the passage rose, so, too, did the
waters rise until it soon became apparent to me, who brought up the
rear, that they were gaining rapidly upon us. I could understand the
reason for this, as with the narrowing expanse of Omean as the waters
rose toward the apex of its dome, the rapidity of its rise would
increase in inverse ratio to the ever-lessening space to be filled.

Long ere the last of the column could hope to reach the upper pits
which lay above the danger point I was convinced that the waters would
surge after us in overwhelming volume, and that fully half the
expedition would be snuffed out.

As I cast about for some means of saving as many as possible of the
doomed men, I saw a diverging corridor which seemed to rise at a steep
angle at my right. The waters were now swirling about my waist. The
men directly before me were quickly becoming panic-stricken. Something
must be done at once or they would rush forward upon their fellows in a
mad stampede that would result in trampling down hundreds beneath the
flood and eventually clogging the passage beyond any hope of retreat
for those in advance.

Raising my voice to its utmost, I shouted my command to the dwars ahead
of me.

"Call back the last twenty-five utans," I

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