Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 5

roughly arched roof of the cavern I had no difficulty in
following him.

It was my first trip upon the bosom of Iss, and the things I saw
there will live forever in my memory.

Terrible as they were, they could not have commenced to approximate
the horrible conditions which must have obtained before Tars Tarkas,
the great green warrior, Xodar, the black dator, and I brought
the light of truth to the outer world and stopped the mad rush of
millions upon the voluntary pilgrimage to what they believed would
end in a beautiful valley of peace and happiness and love.

Even now the low islands which dotted the broad stream were choked
with the skeletons and half devoured carcasses of those who, through
fear or a sudden awakening to the truth, had halted almost at the
completion of their journey.

In the awful stench of these frightful charnel isles haggard maniacs
screamed and gibbered and fought among the torn remnants of their
grisly feasts; while on those which contained but clean-picked
bones they battled with one another, the weaker furnishing sustenance
for the stronger; or with clawlike hands clutched at the bloated
bodies that drifted down with the current.

Thurid paid not the slightest attention to the screaming things
that either menaced or pleaded with him as the mood directed
them--evidently he was familiar with the horrid sights that
surrounded him. He continued up the river for perhaps a mile; and
then, crossing over to the left bank, drew his craft up on a low
ledge that lay almost on a level with the water.

I dared not follow across the stream, for he most surely would have
seen me. Instead I stopped close to the opposite wall beneath an
overhanging mass of rock that cast a dense shadow beneath it. Here
I could watch Thurid without danger of discovery.

The black was standing upon the ledge beside his boat, looking up
the river, as though he were awaiting one whom he expected from
that direction.

As I lay there beneath the dark rocks I noticed that a strong
current seemed to flow directly toward the center of the river, so
that it was difficult to hold my craft in its position. I edged
farther into the shadow that I might find a hold upon the bank;
but, though I proceeded several yards, I touched nothing; and
then, finding that I would soon reach a point from where I could
no longer see the black man, I was compelled to remain where I was,
holding my position as best I could by paddling strongly

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