The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 31

gripped the hilt of a sword for ten long years before that
morning.

But it did not take me long to fall easily into my fighting stride, so
that in a few minutes the man began to realize that he had at last met
his match.

His face became livid with rage as he found my guard impregnable, while
blood flowed from a dozen minor wounds upon his face and body.

"Who are you, white man?" he hissed. "That you are no Barsoomian from
the outer world is evident from your colour. And you are not of us."

His last statement was almost a question.

"What if I were from the Temple of Issus?" I hazarded on a wild guess.

"Fate forfend!" he exclaimed, his face going white under the blood that
now nearly covered it.

I did not know how to follow up my lead, but I carefully laid the idea
away for future use should circumstances require it. His answer
indicated that for all he KNEW I might be from the Temple of Issus and
in it were men like unto myself, and either this man feared the inmates
of the temple or else he held their persons or their power in such
reverence that he trembled to think of the harm and indignities he had
heaped upon one of them.

But my present business with him was of a different nature than that
which requires any considerable abstract reasoning; it was to get my
sword between his ribs, and this I succeeded in doing within the next
few seconds, nor was I an instant too soon.

The chained prisoners had been watching the combat in tense silence;
not a sound had fallen in the room other than the clashing of our
contending blades, the soft shuffling of our naked feet and the few
whispered words we had hissed at each other through clenched teeth the
while we continued our mortal duel.

But as the body of my antagonist sank an inert mass to the floor a cry
of warning broke from one of the female prisoners.

"Turn! Turn! Behind you!" she shrieked, and as I wheeled at the first
note of her shrill cry I found myself facing a second man of the same
race as he who lay at my feet.

The fellow had crept stealthily from a dark corridor and was almost
upon me with raised sword ere I saw him. Tars Tarkas was nowhere in
sight and the secret panel in the wall, through which I had come, was
closed.

How I wished that he were

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