A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 93

She was indeed the
proud daughter of a thousand jeddaks, every inch of her dear, precious
little body; so small, so frail beside the towering warriors around
her, but in her majesty dwarfing them into insignificance; she was the
mightiest figure among them and I verily believe that they felt it.

Presently Tal Hajus made a sign that the chamber be cleared, and that
the prisoners be left alone before him. Slowly the chieftains, the
warriors and the women melted away into the shadows of the surrounding
chambers, and Dejah Thoris and Sola stood alone before the jeddak of
the Tharks.

One chieftain alone had hesitated before departing; I saw him standing
in the shadows of a mighty column, his fingers nervously toying with
the hilt of his great-sword and his cruel eyes bent in implacable
hatred upon Tal Hajus. It was Tars Tarkas, and I could read his
thoughts as they were an open book for the undisguised loathing upon
his face. He was thinking of that other woman who, forty years ago,
had stood before this beast, and could I have spoken a word into his
ear at that moment the reign of Tal Hajus would have been over; but
finally he also strode from the room, not knowing that he left his own
daughter at the mercy of the creature he most loathed.

Tal Hajus arose, and I, half fearing, half anticipating his intentions,
hurried to the winding runway which led to the floors below. No one
was near to intercept me, and I reached the main floor of the chamber
unobserved, taking my station in the shadow of the same column that
Tars Tarkas had but just deserted. As I reached the floor Tal Hajus
was speaking.

"Princess of Helium, I might wring a mighty ransom from your people
would I but return you to them unharmed, but a thousand times rather
would I watch that beautiful face writhe in the agony of torture; it
shall be long drawn out, that I promise you; ten days of pleasure were
all too short to show the love I harbor for your race. The terrors of
your death shall haunt the slumbers of the red men through all the ages
to come; they will shudder in the shadows of the night as their fathers
tell them of the awful vengeance of the green men; of the power and
might and hate and cruelty of Tal Hajus. But before the torture you
shall be mine for one short hour, and word of that too shall go forth

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