Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 12

the periphery
of the watery circle my boat twice touched the rocky side of the
river in the dark recess beneath the cliff. A third time it struck,
gently as it had before, but the contact resulted in a different
sound--the sound of wood scraping upon wood.

In an instant I was on the alert, for there could be no wood
within that buried river that had not been man brought. Almost
coincidentally with my first apprehension of the noise, my hand shot
out across the boat's side, and a second later I felt my fingers
gripping the gunwale of another craft.

As though turned to stone I sat in tense and rigid silence, straining
my eyes into the utter darkness before me in an effort to discover
if the boat were occupied.

It was entirely possible that there might be men on board it
who were still ignorant of my presence, for the boat was scraping
gently against the rocks upon one side, so that the gentle touch
of my boat upon the other easily could have gone unnoticed.

Peer as I would I could not penetrate the darkness, and then I
listened intently for the sound of breathing near me; but except
for the noise of the rapids, the soft scraping of the boats, and the
lapping of the water at their sides I could distinguish no sound.
As usual, I thought rapidly.

A rope lay coiled in the bottom of my own craft. Very softly I
gathered it up, and making one end fast to the bronze ring in the
prow I stepped gingerly into the boat beside me. In one hand I
grasped the rope, in the other my keen long-sword.

For a full minute, perhaps, I stood motionless after entering the
strange craft. It had rocked a trifle beneath my weight, but it
had been the scraping of its side against the side of my own boat
that had seemed most likely to alarm its occupants, if there were

But there was no answering sound, and a moment later I had felt
from stem to stern and found the boat deserted.

Groping with my hands along the face of the rocks to which the
craft was moored, I discovered a narrow ledge which I knew must be
the avenue taken by those who had come before me. That they could
be none other than Thurid and his party I was convinced by the size
and build of the boat I had found.

Calling to Woola to follow me I stepped out upon the ledge. The

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