Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 37

the canals of Mars.

Dawn showed that I had gained appreciably upon the flier ahead of
me. It was a larger craft than mine, and not so swift; but even
so, it had covered an immense distance since the flight began.

The change in vegetation below showed me that we were rapidly
nearing the equator. I was now near enough to my quarry to have
used my bow gun; but, though I could see that Dejah Thoris was not
on deck, I feared to fire upon the craft which bore her.

Thurid was deterred by no such scruples; and though it must have
been difficult for him to believe that it was really I who followed
them, he could not very well doubt the witness of his own eyes;
and so he trained their stern gun upon me with his own hands, and
an instant later an explosive radium projectile whizzed perilously
close above my deck.

The black's next shot was more accurate, striking my flier full
upon the prow and exploding with the instant of contact, ripping
wide open the bow buoyancy tanks and disabling the engine.

So quickly did my bow drop after the shot that I scarce had time
to lash Woola to the deck and buckle my own harness to a gunwale
ring before the craft was hanging stern up and making her last long
drop to ground.

Her stern buoyancy tanks prevented her dropping with great rapidity;
but Thurid was firing rapidly now in an attempt to burst these
also, that I might be dashed to death in the swift fall that would
instantly follow a successful shot.

Shot after shot tore past or into us, but by a miracle neither
Woola nor I was hit, nor were the after tanks punctured. This
good fortune could not last indefinitely, and, assured that Thurid
would not again leave me alive, I awaited the bursting of the next
shell that hit; and then, throwing my hands above my head, I let go
my hold and crumpled, limp and inert, dangling in my harness like
a corpse.

The ruse worked, and Thurid fired no more at us. Presently I heard
the diminishing sound of whirring propellers and realized that
again I was safe.

Slowly the stricken flier sank to the ground, and when I had freed
myself and Woola from the entangling wreckage I found that we were
upon the verge of a natural forest--so rare a thing upon the bosom
of dying Mars that, outside of the forest in the Valley Dor beside
the Lost Sea of Korus, I never before had

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