A Princess of Mars (Chapter 8, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 8

The third day after the incubator ceremony we set forth toward home,
but scarcely had the head of the procession debouched into the open
ground before the city than orders were given for an immediate and
hasty return. As though trained for years in this particular
evolution, the green Martians melted like mist into the spacious
doorways of the nearby buildings, until, in less than three minutes,
the entire cavalcade of chariots, mastodons and mounted warriors was
nowhere to be seen.

Sola and I had entered a building upon the front of the city, in fact,
the same one in which I had had my encounter with the apes, and,
wishing to see what had caused the sudden retreat, I mounted to an
upper floor and peered from the window out over the valley and the
hills beyond; and there I saw the cause of their sudden scurrying to
cover. A huge craft, long, low, and gray-painted, swung slowly over
the crest of the nearest hill. Following it came another, and another,
and another, until twenty of them, swinging low above the ground,
sailed slowly and majestically toward us.

Each carried a strange banner swung from stem to stern above the upper
works, and upon the prow of each was painted some odd device that
gleamed in the sunlight and showed plainly even at the distance at
which we were from the vessels. I could see figures crowding the
forward decks and upper works of the air craft. Whether they had
discovered us or simply were looking at the deserted city I could not
say, but in any event they received a rude reception, for suddenly and
without warning the green Martian warriors fired a terrific volley from
the windows of the buildings facing the little valley across which the
great ships were so peacefully advancing.

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