Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 11

as I looked there came bobbing out upon the current from the
Stygian darkness of the interior the shell of one of the great,
succulent fruits of the sorapus tree.

I could scarce restrain a shout of elation as this silent, insensate
messenger floated past me, on toward the Iss and Korus, for it told
me that journeying Martians were above me on that very stream.

They had eaten of this marvelous fruit which nature concentrates
within the hard shell of the sorapus nut, and having eaten had
cast the husk overboard. It could have come from no others than
the party I sought.

Quickly I abandoned all thought of the left-hand passage, and a
moment later had turned into the right. The stream soon widened,
and recurring areas of phosphorescent rock lighted my way.

I made good time, but was convinced that I was nearly a day behind
those I was tracking. Neither Woola nor I had eaten since the
previous day, but in so far as he was concerned it mattered but
little, since practically all the animals of the dead sea bottoms
of Mars are able to go for incredible periods without nourishment.

Nor did I suffer. The water of the river was sweet and cold, for
it was unpolluted by decaying bodies--like the Iss--and as for
food, why the mere thought that I was nearing my beloved princess
raised me above every material want.

As I proceeded, the river became narrower and the current swift
and turbulent--so swift in fact that it was with difficulty that
I forced my craft upward at all. I could not have been making to
exceed a hundred yards an hour when, at a bend, I was confronted
by a series of rapids through which the river foamed and boiled at
a terrific rate.

My heart sank within me. The sorapus nutshell had proved a false
prophet, and, after all, my intuition had been correct--it was the
left-hand channel that I should have followed.

Had I been a woman I should have wept. At my right was a great,
slow-moving eddy that circled far beneath the cliff's overhanging
side, and to rest my tired muscles before turning back I let my
boat drift into its embrace.

I was almost prostrated by disappointment. It would mean another
half-day's loss of time to retrace my way and take the only passage
that yet remained unexplored. What hellish fate had led me to
select from three possible avenues the two that were wrong?

As the lazy current of the eddy carried me slowly about

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