The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 73

signalled us to follow him and with a half-dozen officers and men
we left the battleship and approached a large oval structure a couple
of hundred yards from the shore.

"You shall soon see Issus," said Xodar to Phaidor. "The few prisoners
we take are presented to her. Occasionally she selects slaves from
among them to replenish the ranks of her handmaidens. None serves
Issus above a single year," and there was a grim smile on the black's
lips that lent a cruel and sinister meaning to his simple statement.

Phaidor, though loath to believe that Issus was allied to such as
these, had commenced to entertain doubts and fears. She clung very
closely to me, no longer the proud daughter of the Master of Life and
Death upon Barsoom, but a young and frightened girl in the power of
relentless enemies.

The building which we now entered was entirely roofless. In its centre
was a long tank of water, set below the level of the floor like the
swimming pool of a natatorium. Near one side of the pool floated an
odd-looking black object. Whether it were some strange monster of
these buried waters, or a queer raft, I could not at once perceive.

We were soon to know, however, for as we reached the edge of the pool
directly above the thing, Xodar cried out a few words in a strange
tongue. Immediately a hatch cover was raised from the surface of the
object, and a black seaman sprang from the bowels of the strange craft.

Xodar addressed the seaman.

"Transmit to your officer," he said, "the commands of Dator Xodar. Say
to him that Dator Xodar, with officers and men, escorting two
prisoners, would be transported to the gardens of Issus beside the
Golden Temple."

"Blessed be the shell of thy first ancestor, most noble Dator," replied
the man. "It shall be done even as thou sayest," and raising both
hands, palms backward, above his head after the manner of salute which
is common to all races of Barsoom, he disappeared once more into the
entrails of his ship.

A moment later an officer resplendent in the gorgeous trappings of his
rank appeared on deck and welcomed Xodar to the vessel, and in the
latter's wake we filed aboard and below.

The cabin in which we found ourselves extended entirely across the
ship, having port-holes on either side below the water line. No sooner
were all below than a number of commands were given, in accordance with
which the hatch was closed and secured,

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