Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 10

as the river wound hither and thither
along its flinty bed.

Far ahead I presently heard a deep and sullen roar which increased
in volume as I advanced, and then broke upon my ears with all the
intensity of its mad fury as I swung round a sharp curve into a
dimly lighted stretch of water.

Directly before me the river thundered down from above in a mighty
waterfall that filled the narrow gorge from side to side, rising
far above me several hundred feet--as magnificent a spectacle as
I ever had seen.

But the roar--the awful, deafening roar of those tumbling waters
penned in the rocky, subterranean vault! Had the fall not entirely
blocked my further passage and shown me that I had followed the
wrong course I believe that I should have fled anyway before the
maddening tumult.

Thurid and the therns could not have come this way. By stumbling
upon the wrong course I had lost the trail, and they had gained so
much ahead of me that now I might not be able to find them before
it was too late, if, in fact, I could find them at all.

It had taken several hours to force my way up to the falls against
the strong current, and other hours would be required for the
descent, although the pace would be much swifter.

With a sigh I turned the prow of my craft down stream, and with
mighty strokes hastened with reckless speed through the dark and
tortuous channel until once again I came to the chamber into which
flowed the three branches of the river.

Two unexplored channels still remained from which to choose; nor
was there any means by which I could judge which was the more likely
to lead me to the plotters.

Never in my life, that I can recall, have I suffered such an agony
of indecision. So much depended upon a correct choice; so much
depended upon haste.

The hours that I had already lost might seal the fate of the
incomparable Dejah Thoris were she not already dead--to sacrifice
other hours, and maybe days in a fruitless exploration of another
blind lead would unquestionably prove fatal.

Several times I essayed the right-hand entrance only to turn back
as though warned by some strange intuitive sense that this was not
the way. At last, convinced by the oft-recurring phenomenon, I
cast my all upon the left-hand archway; yet it was with a lingering
doubt that I turned a parting look at the sullen waters which
rolled, dark and forbidding, from beneath the grim, low archway on
the right.


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