The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 7

cropping off the
tender vegetation with its razorlike talons and sucking it up from its
two mouths, which lie one in the palm of each hand, through its
arm-like throats.

In addition to the features which I have already described, the beast
was equipped with a massive tail about six feet in length, quite round
where it joined the body, but tapering to a flat, thin blade toward the
end, which trailed at right angles to the ground.

By far the most remarkable feature of this most remarkable creature,
however, were the two tiny replicas of it, each about six inches in
length, which dangled, one on either side, from its armpits. They were
suspended by a small stem which seemed to grow from the exact tops of
their heads to where it connected them with the body of the adult.

Whether they were the young, or merely portions of a composite
creature, I did not know.

As I had been scrutinizing this weird monstrosity the balance of the
herd had fed quite close to me and I now saw that while many had the
smaller specimens dangling from them, not all were thus equipped, and I
further noted that the little ones varied in size from what appeared to
be but tiny unopened buds an inch in diameter through various stages of
development to the full-fledged and perfectly formed creature of ten to
twelve inches in length.

Feeding with the herd were many of the little fellows not much larger
than those which remained attached to their parents, and from the young
of that size the herd graded up to the immense adults.

Fearsome-looking as they were, I did not know whether to fear them or
not, for they did not seem to be particularly well equipped for
fighting, and I was on the point of stepping from my hiding-place and
revealing myself to them to note the effect upon them of the sight of a
man when my rash resolve was, fortunately for me, nipped in the bud by
a strange shrieking wail, which seemed to come from the direction of
the bluffs at my right.

Naked and unarmed, as I was, my end would have been both speedy and
horrible at the hands of these cruel creatures had I had time to put my
resolve into execution, but at the moment of the shriek each member of
the herd turned in the direction from which the sound seemed to come,
and at the same instant every particular snake-like hair upon their
heads rose stiffly perpendicular as if each had been a sentient
organism looking

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