The Mad King

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 119

masonry over which two or three inches of
water ran sluggishly. Above him he heard the soldiers pass the open
manhole. It was evident that in the darkness they had missed it.

For a few minutes the fugitive remained motionless, then, hearing no
sounds from above he started to grope about his retreat. Upon two
sides were blank, circular walls, upon the other two circular
openings about four feet in diameter. It was through these openings
that the tiny stream of water trickled.

Barney came to the conclusion that he had dropped into a sewer. To
get out the way he had entered appeared impossible. He could not
leap upward from the slimy, concave bottom the distance he had
dropped. To follow the sewer upward would lead him nowhere nearer
escape. There remained no hope but to follow the trickling stream
downward toward the river, into which his judgment told him the
entire sewer system of the city must lead.

Stooping, he entered the ill-smelling circular conduit, groping his
way slowly along. As he went the water deepened. It was half way to
his knees when he plunged unexpectedly into another tube running at
right angles to the first. The bottom of this tube was lower than
that of the one which emptied into it, so that Barney now found
himself in a swiftly running stream of filth that reached above his
knees. Downward he followed this flood--faster now for the fear of
the deadly gases which might overpower him before he could reach the
river.

The water deepened gradually as he went on. At last he reached a
point where, with his head scraping against the roof of the sewer,
his chin was just above the surface of the stream. A few more steps
would be all that he could take in this direction without drowning.
Could he retrace his way against the swift current? He did not know.
He was weakened from the effects of his wound, from lack of food and
from the exertions of the past hour. Well, he would go on as far as
he could. The river lay ahead of him somewhere. Behind was only the
hostile city.

He took another step. His foot found no support. He surged
backward in an attempt to regain his footing, but the power of the
flood was too much for him. He was swept forward to plunge into
water that surged above his head as he sank. An instant later he had
regained the surface and as his head emerged he opened his eyes.

He looked up into a starlit heaven!

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