A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 128

were hung with transparent tapestries behind which I
secreted myself without being apprehended.

The conversation of the guardsmen was general, and awakened no interest
in me until an officer entered the room and ordered four of the men to
relieve the detail who were guarding the Princess of Helium. Now, I
knew, my troubles would commence in earnest and indeed they were upon
me all too soon, for it seemed that the squad had scarcely left the
guardroom before one of their number burst in again breathlessly,
crying that they had found their four comrades butchered in the

In a moment the entire palace was alive with people. Guardsmen,
officers, courtiers, servants, and slaves ran helter-skelter through
the corridors and apartments carrying messages and orders, and
searching for signs of the assassin.

This was my opportunity and slim as it appeared I grasped it, for as a
number of soldiers came hurrying past my hiding place I fell in behind
them and followed through the mazes of the palace until, in passing
through a great hall, I saw the blessed light of day coming in through
a series of larger windows.

Here I left my guides, and, slipping to the nearest window, sought for
an avenue of escape. The windows opened upon a great balcony which
overlooked one of the broad avenues of Zodanga. The ground was about
thirty feet below, and at a like distance from the building was a wall
fully twenty feet high, constructed of polished glass about a foot in
thickness. To a red Martian escape by this path would have appeared
impossible, but to me, with my earthly strength and agility, it seemed
already accomplished. My only fear was in being detected before
darkness fell, for I could not make the leap in broad daylight while
the court below and the avenue beyond were crowded with Zodangans.

Accordingly I searched for a hiding place and finally found one by
accident, inside a huge hanging ornament which swung from the ceiling
of the hall, and about ten feet from the floor. Into the capacious
bowl-like vase I sprang with ease, and scarcely had I settled down
within it than I heard a number of people enter the apartment. The
group stopped beneath my hiding place and I could plainly overhear
their every word.

"It is the work of Heliumites," said one of the men.

"Yes, O Jeddak, but how had they access to the palace? I could believe
that even with the diligent care of your guardsmen a single enemy might
reach the inner chambers,

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