The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 44

possible. How I longed for the almost miraculous healing power
of the strange salves and lotions of the green Martian women. In an
hour they would have had me as new.

I was discouraged. Never had a feeling of such utter hopelessness come
over me in the face of danger. Then the long flowing, yellow locks of
the Holy Thern, caught by some vagrant draught, blew about my face.

Might they not still open the way of freedom? If we acted in time,
might we not even yet escape before the general alarm was sounded? We
could at least try.

"What will the fellow do first, Thuvia?" I asked. "How long will it be
before they may return for us?"

"He will go directly to the Father of Therns, old Matai Shang. He may
have to wait for an audience, but since he is very high among the
lesser therns, in fact as a thorian among them, it will not be long
that Matai Shang will keep him waiting.

"Then if the Father of Therns puts credence in his story, another hour
will see the galleries and chambers, the courts and gardens, filled
with searchers."

"What we do then must be done within an hour. What is the best way,
Thuvia, the shortest way out of this celestial Hades?"

"Straight to the top of the cliffs, Prince," she replied, "and then
through the gardens to the inner courts. From there our way will lie
within the temples of the therns and across them to the outer court.
Then the ramparts--O Prince, it is hopeless. Ten thousand warriors
could not hew a way to liberty from out this awful place.

"Since the beginning of time, little by little, stone by stone, have
the therns been ever adding to the defences of their stronghold. A
continuous line of impregnable fortifications circles the outer slopes
of the Mountains of Otz.

"Within the temples that lie behind the ramparts a million fighting-men
are ever ready. The courts and gardens are filled with slaves, with
women and with children.

"None could go a stone's throw without detection."

"If there is no other way, Thuvia, why dwell upon the difficulties of
this. We must face them."

"Can we not better make the attempt after dark?" asked Tars Tarkas.
"There would seem to be no chance by day."

"There would be a little better chance by night, but even then the
ramparts are well guarded; possibly better than by day. There are
fewer abroad in the courts and gardens, though," said

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