A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 139

how sounds, Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of Thark?"

A roar of deep-toned applause greeted this suggestion.

"It but remains for this council to command, and Tal Hajus must prove
his fitness to rule. Were he a brave man he would invite Tars Tarkas
to combat, for he does not love him, but Tal Hajus is afraid; Tal
Hajus, your jeddak, is a coward. With my bare hands I could kill him,
and he knows it."

After I ceased there was tense silence, as all eyes were riveted upon
Tal Hajus. He did not speak or move, but the blotchy green of his
countenance turned livid, and the froth froze upon his lips.

"Tal Hajus," said Lorquas Ptomel in a cold, hard voice, "never in my
long life have I seen a jeddak of the Tharks so humiliated. There
could be but one answer to this arraignment. We wait it." And still
Tal Hajus stood as though petrified.

"Chieftains," continued Lorquas Ptomel, "shall the jeddak, Tal Hajus,
prove his fitness to rule over Tars Tarkas?"

There were twenty chieftains about the rostrum, and twenty swords
flashed high in assent.

There was no alternative. That decree was final, and so Tal Hajus drew
his long-sword and advanced to meet Tars Tarkas.

The combat was soon over, and, with his foot upon the neck of the dead
monster, Tars Tarkas became jeddak among the Tharks.

His first act was to make me a full-fledged chieftain with the rank I
had won by my combats the first few weeks of my captivity among them.

Seeing the favorable disposition of the warriors toward Tars Tarkas, as
well as toward me, I grasped the opportunity to enlist them in my cause
against Zodanga. I told Tars Tarkas the story of my adventures, and in
a few words had explained to him the thought I had in mind.

"John Carter has made a proposal," he said, addressing the council,
"which meets with my sanction. I shall put it to you briefly. Dejah
Thoris, the Princess of Helium, who was our prisoner, is now held by
the jeddak of Zodanga, whose son she must wed to save her country from
devastation at the hands of the Zodangan forces.

"John Carter suggests that we rescue her and return her to Helium. The
loot of Zodanga would be magnificent, and I have often thought that had
we an alliance with the people of Helium we could obtain sufficient
assurance of sustenance to permit us to increase the size and frequency
of our hatchings, and thus become unquestionably

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