Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 91

assail me.
Where before I had had but a mild craving for food and drink, I now
actually suffered for want of it, and all because of the tantalizing
sight that I had had of food almost within my grasp.

Once more darkness and silence enveloped me, a silence that was
broken only by a single mocking laugh.

For another day nothing occurred to break the monotony of my
imprisonment or relieve the suffering superinduced by hunger and
thirst. Slowly the pangs became less keen, as suffering deadened
the activity of certain nerves; and then the light flashed on once
again, and before me stood an array of new and tempting dishes,
with great bottles of clear water and flagons of refreshing wine,
upon the outside of which the cold sweat of condensation stood.

Again, with the hunger madness of a wild beast, I sprang forward
to seize those tempting dishes; but, as before, the light went out
and I came to a sudden stop against a hard wall.

Then the mocking laugh rang out for a second time.

The Pit of Plenty!

Ah, what a cruel mind must have devised this exquisite, hellish
torture! Day after day was the thing repeated, until I was on
the verge of madness; and then, as I had done in the pits of the
Warhoons, I took a new, firm hold upon my reason and forced it back
into the channels of sanity.

By sheer will-power I regained control over my tottering mentality,
and so successful was I that the next time that the light came I
sat quite still and looked indifferently at the fresh and tempting
food almost within my reach. Glad I was that I had done so, for
it gave me an opportunity to solve the seeming mystery of those
vanishing banquets.

As I made no move to reach the food, the torturers left the light
turned on in the hope that at last I could refrain no longer from
giving them the delicious thrill of enjoyment that my former futile
efforts to obtain it had caused.

And as I sat scrutinizing the laden shelves I presently saw how
the thing was accomplished, and so simple was it that I wondered I
had not guessed it before. The wall of my prison was of clearest
glass--behind the glass were the tantalizing viands.

After nearly an hour the light went out, but this time there was
no mocking laughter--at least not upon the part of my tormentors;
but I, to be at quits with them, gave a low laugh that none might
mistake for the cackle

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