Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 22

was still a baffling riddle.

Slowly I circled the great shaft, looking for a means of ingress.
Part way around I found a tiny radium flash torch, and as I examined
it in mild curiosity as to its presence there in this almost
inaccessible and unknown spot, I came suddenly upon the insignia
of the house of Thurid jewel-inset in its metal case.

I am upon the right trail, I thought, as I slipped the bauble into
the pocket-pouch which hung from my harness. Then I continued
my search for the entrance, which I knew must be somewhere about;
nor had I long to search, for almost immediately thereafter I came
upon a small door so cunningly inlaid in the shaft's base that it
might have passed unnoticed by a less keen or careful observer.

There was the door that would lead me within the prison, but where
was the means to open it? No button or lock were visible. Again
and again I went carefully over every square inch of its surface,
but the most that I could find was a tiny pinhole a little above
and to the right of the door's center--a pinhole that seemed only
an accident of manufacture or an imperfection of material.

Into this minute aperture I attempted to peer, but whether it was
but a fraction of an inch deep or passed completely through the door
I could not tell--at least no light showed beyond it. I put my ear
to it next and listened, but again my efforts brought negligible
results.

During these experiments Woola had been standing at my side gazing
intently at the door, and as my glance fell upon him it occurred
to me to test the correctness of my hypothesis, that this portal
had been the means of ingress to the temple used by Thurid, the
black dator, and Matai Shang, Father of Therns.

Turning away abruptly, I called to him to follow me. For a moment
he hesitated, and then leaped after me, whining and tugging at my
harness to draw me back. I walked on, however, some distance from
the door before I let him have his way, that I might see precisely
what he would do. Then I permitted him to lead me wherever he
would.

Straight back to that baffling portal he dragged me, again taking
up his position facing the blank stone, gazing straight at its
shining surface. For an hour I worked to solve the mystery of the
combination that would open the way before me.

Carefully I recalled every circumstance of

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