The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 61

of the black as he
heard her words. I did not then understand why he smiled. Later I was
to learn, and she, too, in a most horrible manner.

"If the other thing you have just learned," she continued, "has led to
as erroneous deductions as the first you are little richer in knowledge
than you were before."

"The other," I replied, "is that our dusky friend here does not hail
from the nearer moon--he was like to have died at a few thousand feet
above Barsoom. Had we continued the five thousand miles that lie
between Thuria and the planet he would have been but the frozen memory
of a man."

Phaidor looked at the black in evident astonishment.

"If you are not of Thuria, then where?" she asked.

He shrugged his shoulders and turned his eyes elsewhere, but did not
reply.

The girl stamped her little foot in a peremptory manner.

"The daughter of Matai Shang is not accustomed to having her queries
remain unanswered," she said. "One of the lesser breed should feel
honoured that a member of the holy race that was born to inherit life
eternal should deign even to notice him."

Again the black smiled that wicked, knowing smile.

"Xodar, Dator of the First Born of Barsoom, is accustomed to give
commands, not to receive them," replied the black pirate. Then,
turning to me, "What are your intentions concerning me?"

"I intend taking you both back to Helium," I said. "No harm will come
to you. You will find the red men of Helium a kindly and magnanimous
race, but if they listen to me there will be no more voluntary
pilgrimages down the river Iss, and the impossible belief that they
have cherished for ages will be shattered into a thousand pieces."

"Are you of Helium?" he asked.

"I am a Prince of the House of Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium," I
replied, "but I am not of Barsoom. I am of another world."

Xodar looked at me intently for a few moments.

"I can well believe that you are not of Barsoom," he said at length.
"None of this world could have bested eight of the First Born
single-handed. But how is it that you wear the golden hair and the
jewelled circlet of a Holy Thern?" He emphasized the word holy with a
touch of irony.

"I had forgotten them," I said. "They are the spoils of conquest," and
with a sweep of my hand I removed the disguise from my head.

When the black's eyes fell on my close-cropped

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