The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 19

of the tree, while Tars Tarkas defended the opening
from the furious mob without.

For an hour they howled about the tree, but after a few attempts to
reach us they confined their efforts to terrorizing shrieks and
screams, to horrid growling on the part of the great white apes, and
the fearsome and indescribable purring by the plant men.

At length, all but a score, who had apparently been left to prevent our
escape, had left us, and our adventure seemed destined to result in a
siege, the only outcome of which could be our death by starvation; for
even should we be able to slip out after dark, whither in this unknown
and hostile valley could we hope to turn our steps toward possible
escape?

As the attacks of our enemies ceased and our eyes became accustomed to
the semi-darkness of the interior of our strange retreat, I took the
opportunity to explore our shelter.

The tree was hollow to an extent of about fifty feet in diameter, and
from its flat, hard floor I judged that it had often been used to
domicile others before our occupancy. As I raised my eyes toward its
roof to note the height I saw far above me a faint glow of light.

There was an opening above. If we could but reach it we might still
hope to make the shelter of the cliff caves. My eyes had now become
quite used to the subdued light of the interior, and as I pursued my
investigation I presently came upon a rough ladder at the far side of
the cave.

Quickly I mounted it, only to find that it connected at the top with
the lower of a series of horizontal wooden bars that spanned the now
narrow and shaft-like interior of the tree's stem. These bars were set
one above another about three feet apart, and formed a perfect ladder
as far above me as I could see.

Dropping to the floor once more, I detailed my discovery to Tars
Tarkas, who suggested that I explore aloft as far as I could go in
safety while he guarded the entrance against a possible attack.

As I hastened above to explore the strange shaft I found that the
ladder of horizontal bars mounted always as far above me as my eyes
could reach, and as I ascended, the light from above grew brighter and
brighter.

For fully five hundred feet I continued to climb, until at length I
reached the opening in the stem which admitted the light. It was of
about the same

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