The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 3

XXII. Victory and Defeat





CHAPTER I

THE PLANT MEN


As I stood upon the bluff before my cottage on that clear cold night in
the early part of March, 1886, the noble Hudson flowing like the grey
and silent spectre of a dead river below me, I felt again the strange,
compelling influence of the mighty god of war, my beloved Mars, which
for ten long and lonesome years I had implored with outstretched arms
to carry me back to my lost love.

Not since that other March night in 1866, when I had stood without that
Arizona cave in which my still and lifeless body lay wrapped in the
similitude of earthly death had I felt the irresistible attraction of
the god of my profession.

With arms outstretched toward the red eye of the great star I stood
praying for a return of that strange power which twice had drawn me
through the immensity of space, praying as I had prayed on a thousand
nights before during the long ten years that I had waited and hoped.

Suddenly a qualm of nausea swept over me, my senses swam, my knees gave
beneath me and I pitched headlong to the ground upon the very verge of
the dizzy bluff.

Instantly my brain cleared and there swept back across the threshold of
my memory the vivid picture of the horrors of that ghostly Arizona
cave; again, as on that far-gone night, my muscles refused to respond
to my will and again, as though even here upon the banks of the placid
Hudson, I could hear the awful moans and rustling of the fearsome thing
which had lurked and threatened me from the dark recesses of the cave,
I made the same mighty and superhuman effort to break the bonds of the
strange anaesthesia which held me, and again came the sharp click as of
the sudden parting of a taut wire, and I stood naked and free beside
the staring, lifeless thing that had so recently pulsed with the warm,
red life-blood of John Carter.

With scarcely a parting glance I turned my eyes again toward Mars,
lifted my hands toward his lurid rays, and waited.

Nor did I have long to wait; for scarce had I turned ere I shot with
the rapidity of thought into the awful void before me. There was the
same instant of unthinkable cold and utter darkness that I had
experienced twenty years before, and then I opened my eyes in another
world, beneath the burning rays of a hot sun, which beat through a tiny
opening in the dome

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