Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 93

could make nothing of them, and at last I decided that my very
haste was preventing me from solving the mystery. Then I took it
more slowly. Again and again my forefinger traced the first of
those four combinations.

Martian writing is rather difficult to explain to an Earth man--it
is something of a cross between shorthand and picture-writing, and
is an entirely different language from the spoken language of Mars.

Upon Barsoom there is but a single oral language.

It is spoken today by every race and nation, just as it was at
the beginning of human life upon Barsoom. It has grown with the
growth of the planet's learning and scientific achievements, but
so ingenious a thing it is that new words to express new thoughts
or describe new conditions or discoveries form themselves--no other
word could explain the thing that a new word is required for other
than the word that naturally falls to it, and so, no matter how far
removed two nations or races, their spoken languages are identical.

Not so their written languages, however. No two nations have the
same written language, and often cities of the same nation have a
written language that differs greatly from that of the nation to
which they belong.

Thus it was that the signs upon the paper, if in reality they were
words, baffled me for some time; but at last I made out the first
one.

It was "courage," and it was written in the letters of Marentina.

Courage!

That was the word the yellow guardsman had whispered in my ear as
I stood upon the verge of the Pit of Plenty.

The message must be from him, and he I knew was a friend.

With renewed hope I bent my every energy to the deciphering of the
balance of the message, and at last success rewarded my endeavor--I
had read the four words:

"Courage! Follow the rope."




"FOLLOW THE ROPE"


What could it mean?

"Follow the rope." What rope?

Presently I recalled the cord that had been attached to the parcel
when it fell at my side, and after a little groping my hand came in
contact with it again. It depended from above, and when I pulled
upon it I discovered that it was rigidly fastened, possibly at the
pit's mouth.

Upon examination I found that the cord, though small, was amply
able to sustain the weight of several men. Then I made another
discovery--there was a second message knotted in the rope at about
the height of my head. This I deciphered more easily, now that
the key

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