Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 7

of that," he replied. "See here,"
and he indicated a device at the right of the destination compass.
"This is my 'obstruction evader,' as I call it. This visible device
is the switch which throws the mechanism on or off. The instrument
itself is below deck, geared both to the steering apparatus and
the control levers.

"It is quite simple, being nothing more than a radium generator
diffusing radio-activity in all directions to a distance of a
hundred yards or so from the flier. Should this enveloping force
be interrupted in any direction a delicate instrument immediately
apprehends the irregularity, at the same time imparting an impulse
to a magnetic device which in turn actuates the steering mechanism,
diverting the bow of the flier away from the obstacle until the craft's
radio-activity sphere is no longer in contact with the obstruction,
then she falls once more into her normal course. Should the
disturbance approach from the rear, as in case of a faster-moving
craft overhauling me, the mechanism actuates the speed control as
well as the steering gear, and the flier shoots ahead and either
up or down, as the oncoming vessel is upon a lower or higher plane
than herself.

"In aggravated cases, that is when the obstructions are many, or
of such a nature as to deflect the bow more than forty-five degrees
in any direction, or when the craft has reached its destination
and dropped to within a hundred yards of the ground, the mechanism
brings her to a full stop, at the same time sounding a loud alarm
which will instantly awaken the pilot. You see I have anticipated
almost every contingency."

Thuvan Dihn smiled his appreciation of the marvellous device. The
forward servant pushed almost to the flier's side. His eyes were
narrowed to slits.

"All but one," he said.

The nobles looked at him in astonishment, and one of them grasped
the fellow none too gently by the shoulder to push him back to his
proper place. Carthoris raised his hand.

"Wait," he urged. "Let us hear what the man has to say--no creation
of mortal mind is perfect. Perchance he has detected a weakness
that it will be well to know at once. Come, my good fellow, and
what may be the one contingency I have overlooked?"

As he spoke Carthoris observed the servant closely for the first
time. He saw a man of giant stature and handsome, as are all those
of the race of Martian red men; but the fellow's lips were thin
and cruel, and across one cheek

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