A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 125

cried the one who had
first addressed me, "and not only shall you not enter the apartments of
the Princess of Helium but you shall go back to Than Kosis under guard
to explain this unwarranted temerity. Throw down your sword; you
cannot hope to overcome four of us," he added with a grim smile.

My reply was a quick thrust which left me but three antagonists and I
can assure you that they were worthy of my metal. They had me backed
against the wall in no time, fighting for my life. Slowly I worked my
way to a corner of the room where I could force them to come at me only
one at a time, and thus we fought upward of twenty minutes; the
clanging of steel on steel producing a veritable bedlam in the little
room.

The noise had brought Dejah Thoris to the door of her apartment, and
there she stood throughout the conflict with Sola at her back peering
over her shoulder. Her face was set and emotionless and I knew that
she did not recognize me, nor did Sola.

Finally a lucky cut brought down a second guardsman and then, with only
two opposing me, I changed my tactics and rushed them down after the
fashion of my fighting that had won me many a victory. The third fell
within ten seconds after the second, and the last lay dead upon the
bloody floor a few moments later. They were brave men and noble
fighters, and it grieved me that I had been forced to kill them, but I
would have willingly depopulated all Barsoom could I have reached the
side of my Dejah Thoris in no other way.

Sheathing my bloody blade I advanced toward my Martian Princess, who
still stood mutely gazing at me without sign of recognition.

"Who are you, Zodangan?" she whispered. "Another enemy to harass me in
my misery?"

"I am a friend," I answered, "a once cherished friend."

"No friend of Helium's princess wears that metal," she replied, "and
yet the voice! I have heard it before; it is not--it cannot be--no,
for he is dead."

"It is, though, my Princess, none other than John Carter," I said. "Do
you not recognize, even through paint and strange metal, the heart of
your chieftain?"

As I came close to her she swayed toward me with outstretched hands,
but as I reached to take her in my arms she drew back with a shudder
and a little moan of misery.

"Too late, too late," she grieved. "O

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