The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 42

they sprang were crowned with a luxuriant growth
of golden hair, but for many ages the present race has been entirely
bald. The wig, however, has come to be a part of their apparel, and so
important a part do they consider it that it is cause for the deepest
disgrace were a thern to appear in public without it."

In another moment I stood garbed in the habiliments of a Holy Thern.

At Thuvia's suggestion two of the released prisoners bore the body of
the dead thern upon their shoulders with us as we continued our journey
toward the storeroom, which we reached without further mishap.

Here the keys which Thuvia bore from the dead thern of the prison vault
were the means of giving us immediate entrance to the chamber, and very
quickly we were thoroughly outfitted with arms and ammunition.

By this time I was so thoroughly fagged out that I could go no further,
so I threw myself upon the floor, bidding Tars Tarkas to do likewise,
and cautioning two of the released prisoners to keep careful watch.

In an instant I was asleep.




CHAPTER V

CORRIDORS OF PERIL


How long I slept upon the floor of the storeroom I do not know, but it
must have been many hours.

I was awakened with a start by cries of alarm, and scarce were my eyes
opened, nor had I yet sufficiently collected my wits to quite realize
where I was, when a fusillade of shots rang out, reverberating through
the subterranean corridors in a series of deafening echoes.

In an instant I was upon my feet. A dozen lesser therns confronted us
from a large doorway at the opposite end of the storeroom from which we
had entered. About me lay the bodies of my companions, with the
exception of Thuvia and Tars Tarkas, who, like myself, had been asleep
upon the floor and thus escaped the first raking fire.

As I gained my feet the therns lowered their wicked rifles, their faces
distorted in mingled chagrin, consternation, and alarm.

Instantly I rose to the occasion.

"What means this?" I cried in tones of fierce anger. "Is Sator Throg
to be murdered by his own vassals?"

"Have mercy, O Master of the Tenth Cycle!" cried one of the fellows,
while the others edged toward the doorway as though to attempt a
surreptitious escape from the presence of the mighty one.

"Ask them their mission here," whispered Thuvia at my elbow.

"What do you here, fellows?" I cried.

"Two from the outer world are at large within the dominions of the
therns.

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