The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 59

been
set upon me. I had no quarrel with the therns before, but can you
wonder that I feel no great love for them now? I have spoken."

She looked at me intently for several minutes before she replied. It
was as though she were attempting to read my inmost soul, to judge my
character and my standards of chivalry in that long-drawn, searching
gaze.

Apparently the inventory satisfied her.

"I am Phaidor, daughter of Matai Shang, Holy Hekkador of the Holy
Therns, Father of Therns, Master of Life and Death upon Barsoom,
Brother of Issus, Prince of Life Eternal."

At that moment I noticed that the black I had dropped with my fist was
commencing to show signs of returning consciousness. I sprang to his
side. Stripping his harness from him I securely bound his hands behind
his back, and after similarly fastening his feet tied him to a heavy
gun carriage.

"Why not the simpler way?" asked Phaidor.

"I do not understand. What 'simpler way'?" I replied.

With a slight shrug of her lovely shoulders she made a gesture with her
hands personating the casting of something over the craft's side.

"I am no murderer," I said. "I kill in self-defence only."

She looked at me narrowly. Then she puckered those divine brows of
hers, and shook her head. She could not comprehend.

Well, neither had my own Dejah Thoris been able to understand what to
her had seemed a foolish and dangerous policy toward enemies. Upon
Barsoom, quarter is neither asked nor given, and each dead man means so
much more of the waning resources of this dying planet to be divided
amongst those who survive.

But there seemed a subtle difference here between the manner in which
this girl contemplated the dispatching of an enemy and the
tender-hearted regret of my own princess for the stern necessity which
demanded it.

I think that Phaidor regretted the thrill that the spectacle would have
afforded her rather than the fact that my decision left another enemy
alive to threaten us.

The man had now regained full possession of his faculties, and was
regarding us intently from where he lay bound upon the deck. He was a
handsome fellow, clean limbed and powerful, with an intelligent face
and features of such exquisite chiselling that Adonis himself might
have envied him.

The vessel, unguided, had been moving slowly across the valley; but now
I thought it time to take the helm and direct her course. Only in a
very general way could I guess the location of the Valley Dor.

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