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The Gods of Mars

Chapter 1. The Plant Men
As I stood upon the bluff before my cottage on that clear cold night in the early part of
March, 1886, the noble Hudson flowing like the grey and silent spectre of a dead river
below me, I felt again the strange, compelling influence of the mighty god of war, my
beloved Mars, which for ten long and lonesome years I had implored with outstretched
arms to carry me back to my lost love.
Not since that other March night in 1866, when I had stood without that Arizona cave in
which my still and lifeless body lay wrapped in the similitude of earthly death had I felt
the irresistible attraction of the god of my profession.
With arms outstretched toward the red eye of the great star I stood praying for a return of
that strange power which twice had drawn me through the immensity of space, praying as
I had prayed on a thousand nights before during the long ten years that I had waited and
hoped.
Suddenly a qualm of nausea swept over me, my senses swam, my knees gave beneath me
and I pitched headlong to the ground upon the very verge of the dizzy bluff.
Instantly my brain cleared and there swept back across the threshold of my memory the
vivid picture of the horrors of that ghostly Arizona cave; again, as on that far-gone night,
my muscles refused to respond to my will and again, as though even here upon the banks
of the placid Hudson, I could hear the awful moans and rustling of the fearsome thing
which had lurked and threatened me from the dark recesses of the cave, I made the same
mighty and superhuman effort to break the bonds of the strange anaesthesia which held
me, and again came the sharp click as of the sudden parting of a taut wire, and I stood
naked and free beside the staring, lifeless thing that had so recently pulsed with the warm,
red life-blood of John Carter.
With scarcely a parting glance I turned my eyes again toward Mars, lifted my hands
toward his lurid rays, and waited.
Nor did I have long to wait; for scarce had I turned ere I shot with the rapidity of thought
into the awful void before me. There was the same instant of unthinkable cold and utter
darkness that I had experienced twenty years before, and then I opened my eyes in
another world, beneath the burning rays of a hot sun, which beat through a tiny opening
in the dome of the mighty forest in which I lay.
The scene that met my eyes was so un-Martian that my heart sprang to my throat as the
sudden fear swept through me that I had been aimlessly tossed upon some strange planet
by a cruel fate.
 
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