The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 136

from mine a confession of
the terrible truth that I had returned from the bosom of the Iss, the
River of Mystery, back from the shore of the Lost Sea of Korus, and the
Valley Dor.

"Ah, my Prince," he continued, as though no thought had interrupted his
greeting, "that you are back is sufficient, and let Hor Vastus' sword
have the high honour of being first at thy feet." With these words the
noble fellow unbuckled his scabbard and flung his sword upon the ground
before me.

Could you know the customs and the character of red Martians you would
appreciate the depth of meaning that that simple act conveyed to me and
to all about us who witnessed it. The thing was equivalent to saying,
"My sword, my body, my life, my soul are yours to do with as you wish.
Until death and after death I look to you alone for authority for my
every act. Be you right or wrong, your word shall be my only truth.
Whoso raises his hand against you must answer to my sword."

It is the oath of fealty that men occasionally pay to a Jeddak whose
high character and chivalrous acts have inspired the enthusiastic love
of his followers. Never had I known this high tribute paid to a lesser
mortal. There was but one response possible. I stooped and lifted the
sword from the ground, raised the hilt to my lips, and then, stepping
to Hor Vastus, I buckled the weapon upon him with my own hands.

"Hor Vastus," I said, placing my hand upon his shoulder, "you know best
the promptings of your own heart. That I shall need your sword I have
little doubt, but accept from John Carter upon his sacred honour the
assurance that he will never call upon you to draw this sword other
than in the cause of truth, justice, and righteousness."

"That I knew, my Prince," he replied, "ere ever I threw my beloved
blade at thy feet."

As we spoke other fliers came and went between the ground and the
battleship, and presently a larger boat was launched from above, one
capable of carrying a dozen persons, perhaps, and dropped lightly near
us. As she touched, an officer sprang from her deck to the ground,
and, advancing to Hor Vastus, saluted.

"Kantos Kan desires that this party whom we have rescued be brought
immediately to the deck of the _Xavarian_," he said.

As we approached the little craft I looked about for the members of my
party and for the

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