The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 87

here?"

"I await my death, I presume," I replied with a wry smile.

He too smiled, a brave and winning smile.

"I also," he said. "Mine will come soon. I looked upon the radiant
beauty of Issus nearly a year since. It has always been a source of
keen wonder to me that I did not drop dead at the first sight of that
hideous countenance. And her belly! By my first ancestor, but never
was there so grotesque a figure in all the universe. That they should
call such a one Goddess of Life Eternal, Goddess of Death, Mother of
the Nearer Moon, and fifty other equally impossible titles, is quite
beyond me."

"How came you here?" I asked.

"It is very simple. I was flying a one-man air scout far to the south
when the brilliant idea occurred to me that I should like to search for
the Lost Sea of Korus which tradition places near to the south pole. I
must have inherited from my father a wild lust for adventure, as well
as a hollow where my bump of reverence should be.

"I had reached the area of eternal ice when my port propeller jammed,
and I dropped to the ground to make repairs. Before I knew it the air
was black with fliers, and a hundred of these First Born devils were
leaping to the ground all about me.

"With drawn swords they made for me, but before I went down beneath
them they had tasted of the steel of my father's sword, and I had given
such an account of myself as I know would have pleased my sire had he
lived to witness it."

"Your father is dead?" I asked.

"He died before the shell broke to let me step out into a world that
has been very good to me. But for the sorrow that I had never the
honour to know my father, I have been very happy. My only sorrow now
is that my mother must mourn me as she has for ten long years mourned
my father."

"Who was your father?" I asked.

He was about to reply when the outer door of our prison opened and a
burly guard entered and ordered him to his own quarters for the night,
locking the door after him as he passed through into the further
chamber.

"It is Issus' wish that you two be confined in the same room," said the
guard when he had returned to our cell. "This cowardly slave of a
slave is to

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