A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 124

broken, to
the ground of reality. The woman for whom I had offered my life, and
from whose lips I had so recently heard a declaration of love for me,
had lightly forgotten my very existence and smilingly given herself to
the son of her people's most hated enemy.

Although I had heard it with my own ears I could not believe it. I
must search out her apartments and force her to repeat the cruel truth
to me alone before I would be convinced, and so I deserted my post and
hastened through the passage behind the tapestries toward the door by
which she had left the chamber. Slipping quietly through this opening
I discovered a maze of winding corridors, branching and turning in
every direction.

Running rapidly down first one and then another of them I soon became
hopelessly lost and was standing panting against a side wall when I
heard voices near me. Apparently they were coming from the opposite
side of the partition against which I leaned and presently I made out
the tones of Dejah Thoris. I could not hear the words but I knew that
I could not possibly be mistaken in the voice.

Moving on a few steps I discovered another passageway at the end of
which lay a door. Walking boldly forward I pushed into the room only
to find myself in a small antechamber in which were the four guards who
had accompanied her. One of them instantly arose and accosted me,
asking the nature of my business.

"I am from Than Kosis," I replied, "and wish to speak privately with
Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium."

"And your order?" asked the fellow.

I did not know what he meant, but replied that I was a member of The
Guard, and without waiting for a reply from him I strode toward the
opposite door of the antechamber, behind which I could hear Dejah
Thoris conversing.

But my entrance was not to be so easily accomplished. The guardsman
stepped before me, saying,

"No one comes from Than Kosis without carrying an order or the
password. You must give me one or the other before you may pass."

"The only order I require, my friend, to enter where I will, hangs at
my side," I answered, tapping my long-sword; "will you let me pass in
peace or no?"

For reply he whipped out his own sword, calling to the others to join
him, and thus the four stood, with drawn weapons, barring my further

"You are not here by the order of Than Kosis,"

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