The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 141

those who gathered
about Carthoris and myself whenever the opportunity presented, while
about an equal number held aloof from us. They offered us only the
most courteous treatment, but were evidently bound by their
superstitious belief in the doctrine of Dor and Iss and Korus. I could
not blame them, for I knew how strong a hold a creed, however
ridiculous it may be, may gain upon an otherwise intelligent people.

By returning from Dor we had committed a sacrilege; by recounting our
adventures there, and stating the facts as they existed we had outraged
the religion of their fathers. We were blasphemers--lying heretics.
Even those who still clung to us from personal love and loyalty I think
did so in the face of the fact that at heart they questioned our
veracity--it is very hard to accept a new religion for an old, no
matter how alluring the promises of the new may be; but to reject the
old as a tissue of falsehoods without being offered anything in its
stead is indeed a most difficult thing to ask of any people.

Kantos Kan would not talk of our experiences among the therns and the
First Born.

"It is enough," he said, "that I jeopardize my life here and hereafter
by countenancing you at all--do not ask me to add still further to my
sins by listening to what I have always been taught was the rankest
heresy."

I knew that sooner or later the time must come when our friends and
enemies would be forced to declare themselves openly. When we reached
Helium there must be an accounting, and if Tardos Mors had not returned
I feared that the enmity of Zat Arrras might weigh heavily against us,
for he represented the government of Helium. To take sides against him
were equivalent to treason. The majority of the troops would doubtless
follow the lead of their officers, and I knew that many of the highest
and most powerful men of both land and air forces would cleave to John
Carter in the face of god, man, or devil.

On the other hand, the majority of the populace unquestionably would
demand that we pay the penalty of our sacrilege. The outlook seemed
dark from whatever angle I viewed it, but my mind was so torn with
anguish at the thought of Dejah Thoris that I realize now that I gave
the terrible question of Helium's plight but scant attention at that
time.

There was always before me, day and night, a horrible nightmare of the
frightful scenes through which I

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