The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 64

a little forward of where I stood at the levers, and thus he
faced the stern of the vessel as he addressed me. It was at the end of
his description of the plant men that I caught his eye fixed
momentarily upon something behind me.

Nor could I be mistaken in the swift gleam of triumph that brightened
those dark orbs for an instant.

Some time before I had reduced our speed, for we had left the Valley
Dor many miles astern, and I felt comparatively safe.

I turned an apprehensive glance behind me, and the sight that I saw
froze the new-born hope of freedom that had been springing up within me.

A great battleship, forging silent and unlighted through the dark
night, loomed close astern.




CHAPTER VIII

THE DEPTHS OF OMEAN


Now I realized why the black pirate had kept me engrossed with his
strange tale. For miles he had sensed the approach of succour, and but
for that single tell-tale glance the battleship would have been
directly above us in another moment, and the boarding party which was
doubtless even now swinging in their harness from the ship's keel,
would have swarmed our deck, placing my rising hope of escape in sudden
and total eclipse.

I was too old a hand in aerial warfare to be at a loss now for the
right manoeuvre. Simultaneously I reversed the engines and dropped the
little vessel a sheer hundred feet.

Above my head I could see the dangling forms of the boarding party as
the battleship raced over us. Then I rose at a sharp angle, throwing
my speed lever to its last notch.

Like a bolt from a crossbow my splendid craft shot its steel prow
straight at the whirring propellers of the giant above us. If I could
but touch them the huge bulk would be disabled for hours and escape
once more possible.

At the same instant the sun shot above the horizon, disclosing a
hundred grim, black faces peering over the stern of the battleship upon
us.

At sight of us a shout of rage went up from a hundred throats. Orders
were shouted, but it was too late to save the giant propellers, and
with a crash we rammed them.

Instantly with the shock of impact I reversed my engine, but my prow
was wedged in the hole it had made in the battleship's stern. Only a
second I hung there before tearing away, but that second was amply long
to swarm my deck with black devils.

There was no fight. In the first place there

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