The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 157

of Helium. Say that you will espouse my cause. This
is the price of your freedom. I am done."

I knew it was within the scope of Zat Arras' cruel heart to destroy me,
and if I were dead I could see little reason to doubt that he might
easily become Jeddak of Helium. Free, I could prosecute the search for
Dejah Thoris. Were I dead, my brave comrades might not be able to
carry out our plans. So, by refusing to accede to his request, it was
quite probable that not only would I not prevent him from becoming
Jeddak of Helium, but that I would be the means of sealing Dejah
Thoris' fate--of consigning her, through my refusal, to the horrors of
the arena of Issus.

For a moment I was perplexed, but for a moment only. The proud
daughter of a thousand Jeddaks would choose death to a dishonorable
alliance such as this, nor could John Carter do less for Helium than
his Princess would do.

Then I turned to Zat Arras.

"There can be no alliance," I said, "between a traitor to Helium and a
prince of the House of Tardos Mors. I do not believe, Zat Arras, that
the great Jeddak is dead."

Zat Arras shrugged his shoulders.

"It will not be long, John Carter," he said, "that your opinions will
be of interest even to yourself, so make the best of them while you
can. Zat Arras will permit you in due time to reflect further upon the
magnanimous offer he has made you. Into the silence and darkness of
the pits you will enter upon your reflection this night with the
knowledge that should you fail within a reasonable time to agree to the
alternative which has been offered you, never shall you emerge from the
darkness and the silence again. Nor shall you know at what minute the
hand will reach out through the darkness and the silence with the keen
dagger that shall rob you of your last chance to win again the warmth
and the freedom and joyousness of the outer world."

Zat Arras clapped his hands as he ceased speaking. The guards returned.

Zat Arras waved his hand in my direction.

"To the pits," he said. That was all. Four men accompanied me from
the chamber, and with a radium hand-light to illumine the way, escorted
me through seemingly interminable tunnels, down, ever down beneath the
city of Helium.

At length they halted within a fair-sized chamber. There were rings
set in

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