A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 131

the day at the palace, and
when I had enlightened him he was all excitement. The news that Dejah
Thoris had promised her hand to Sab Than filled him with dismay.

"It cannot be," he exclaimed. "It is impossible! Why no man in all
Helium but would prefer death to the selling of our loved princess to
the ruling house of Zodanga. She must have lost her mind to have
assented to such an atrocious bargain. You, who do not know how we of
Helium love the members of our ruling house, cannot appreciate the
horror with which I contemplate such an unholy alliance."

"What can be done, John Carter?" he continued. "You are a resourceful
man. Can you not think of some way to save Helium from this disgrace?"

"If I can come within sword's reach of Sab Than," I answered, "I can
solve the difficulty in so far as Helium is concerned, but for personal
reasons I would prefer that another struck the blow that frees Dejah
Thoris."

Kantos Kan eyed me narrowly before he spoke.

"You love her!" he said. "Does she know it?"

"She knows it, Kantos Kan, and repulses me only because she is promised
to Sab Than."

The splendid fellow sprang to his feet, and grasping me by the shoulder
raised his sword on high, exclaiming:

"And had the choice been left to me I could not have chosen a more
fitting mate for the first princess of Barsoom. Here is my hand upon
your shoulder, John Carter, and my word that Sab Than shall go out at
the point of my sword for the sake of my love for Helium, for Dejah
Thoris, and for you. This very night I shall try to reach his quarters
in the palace."

"How?" I asked. "You are strongly guarded and a quadruple force
patrols the sky."

He bent his head in thought a moment, then raised it with an air of
confidence.

"I only need to pass these guards and I can do it," he said at last.
"I know a secret entrance to the palace through the pinnacle of the
highest tower. I fell upon it by chance one day as I was passing above
the palace on patrol duty. In this work it is required that we
investigate any unusual occurrence we may witness, and a face peering
from the pinnacle of the high tower of the palace was, to me, most
unusual. I therefore drew near and discovered that the possessor of
the peering face was none

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