Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 14

in continuous lines in opposite directions. For the
greater part they skimmed along the surface of the sward, soaring
gracefully into the air at times to pass over a slower-going driver
ahead, or at intersections, where the north and south traffic has
the right of way and the east and west must rise above it.

From private hangars upon many a roof top fliers were darting into
the line of traffic. Gay farewells and parting admonitions mingled
with the whirring of motors and the subdued noises of the city.

Yet with all the swift movement and the countless thousands rushing
hither and thither, the predominant suggestion was that of luxurious
ease and soft noiselessness.

Martians dislike harsh, discordant clamour. The only loud noises
they can abide are the martial sounds of war, the clash of arms,
the collision of two mighty dreadnoughts of the air. To them there
is no sweeter music than this.

At the intersection of two broad avenues Vas Kor descended from the
street level to one of the great pneumatic stations of the city.
Here he paid before a little wicket the fare to his destination
with a couple of the dull, oval coins of Helium.

Beyond the gatekeeper he came to a slowly moving line of what to
Earthly eyes would have appeared to be conical-nosed, eight-foot
projectiles for some giant gun. In slow procession the things
moved in single file along a grooved track. A half dozen attendants
assisted passengers to enter, or directed these carriers to their
proper destination.

Vas Kor approached one that was empty. Upon its nose was a dial
and a pointer. He set the pointer for a certain station in Greater
Helium, raised the arched lid of the thing, stepped in and lay down
upon the upholstered bottom. An attendant closed the lid, which
locked with a little click, and the carrier continued its slow way.

Presently it switched itself automatically to another track, to
enter, a moment later, one of the series of dark-mouthed tubes.

The instant that its entire length was within the black aperture
it sprang forward with the speed of a rifle ball. There was an
instant of whizzing--a soft, though sudden, stop, and slowly the
carrier emerged upon another platform, another attendant raised
the lid and Vas Kor stepped out at the station beneath the centre
of Greater Helium, seventy-five miles from the point at which he
had embarked.

Here he sought the street level, stepping immediately into a waiting
ground flier. He spoke no word to the slave sitting in the driver's
seat.

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