A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 143

neck, springing the
padlock fast. After a few more words addressed to Sab Than he turned
to the other figure, from which the officers now removed the
enshrouding silks, disclosing to my now comprehending view Dejah
Thoris, Princess of Helium.

The object of the ceremony was clear to me; in another moment Dejah
Thoris would be joined forever to the Prince of Zodanga. It was an
impressive and beautiful ceremony, I presume, but to me it seemed the
most fiendish sight I had ever witnessed, and as the ornaments were
adjusted upon her beautiful figure and her collar of gold swung open in
the hands of Than Kosis I raised my long-sword above my head, and, with
the heavy hilt, I shattered the glass of the great window and sprang
into the midst of the astonished assemblage. With a bound I was on the
steps of the platform beside Than Kosis, and as he stood riveted with
surprise I brought my long-sword down upon the golden chain that would
have bound Dejah Thoris to another.

In an instant all was confusion; a thousand drawn swords menaced me
from every quarter, and Sab Than sprang upon me with a jeweled dagger
he had drawn from his nuptial ornaments. I could have killed him as
easily as I might a fly, but the age-old custom of Barsoom stayed my
hand, and grasping his wrist as the dagger flew toward my heart I held
him as though in a vise and with my long-sword pointed to the far end
of the hall.

"Zodanga has fallen," I cried. "Look!"

All eyes turned in the direction I had indicated, and there, forging
through the portals of the entranceway rode Tars Tarkas and his fifty
warriors on their great thoats.

A cry of alarm and amazement broke from the assemblage, but no word of
fear, and in a moment the soldiers and nobles of Zodanga were hurling
themselves upon the advancing Tharks.

Thrusting Sab Than headlong from the platform, I drew Dejah Thoris to
my side. Behind the throne was a narrow doorway and in this Than Kosis
now stood facing me, with drawn long-sword. In an instant we were
engaged, and I found no mean antagonist.

As we circled upon the broad platform I saw Sab Than rushing up the
steps to aid his father, but, as he raised his hand to strike, Dejah
Thoris sprang before him and then my sword found the spot that made Sab
Than jeddak of Zodanga. As his father rolled dead upon the floor the
new jeddak tore himself

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