The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 139

dispatch and then turned to me.

"Zat Arras commands me to bring our 'prisoners' before him. There is
naught else to do. He is supreme in Helium, yet it would be far more
in keeping with chivalry and good taste were he to come hither and
greet the saviour of Barsoom with the honours that are his due."

"You know full well, my friend," I said, smiling, "that Zat Arras has
good cause to hate me. Nothing would please him better than to
humiliate me and then to kill me. Now that he has so excellent an
excuse, let us go and see if he has the courage to take advantage of
it."

Summoning Carthoris, Tars Tarkas, and Xodar, we entered the small flier
with Kantos Kan and Zat Arras' officer, and in a moment were stepping
to the deck of Zat Arras' flagship.

As we approached the Jed of Zodanga no sign of greeting or recognition
crossed his face; not even to Carthoris did he vouchsafe a friendly
word. His attitude was cold, haughty, and uncompromising.

"Kaor, Zat Arras," I said in greeting, but he did not respond.

"Why were these prisoners not disarmed?" he asked to Kantos Kan.

"They are not prisoners, Zat Arras," replied the officer.

"Two of them are of Helium's noblest family. Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of
Thark, is Tardos Mors' best beloved ally. The other is a friend and
companion of the Prince of Helium--that is enough for me to know."

"It is not enough for me, however," retorted Zat Arras. "More must I
hear from those who have taken the pilgrimage than their names. Where
have you been, John Carter?"

"I have just come from the Valley Dor and the Land of the First Born,
Zat Arras," I replied.

"Ah!" he exclaimed in evident pleasure, "you do not deny it, then? You
have returned from the bosom of Iss?"

"I have come back from a land of false hope, from a valley of torture
and death; with my companions I have escaped from the hideous clutches
of lying fiends. I have come back to the Barsoom that I saved from a
painless death to again save her, but this time from death in its most
frightful form."

"Cease, blasphemer!" cried Zat Arras. "Hope not to save thy cowardly
carcass by inventing horrid lies to--" But he got no further. One does
not call John Carter "coward" and "liar" thus lightly, and Zat Arras
should have known it. Before a hand could be raised to stop me, I

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