The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 184

What knew I where any of them
led! And so without waiting to be again discovered and thwarted, I ran
quickly up the short, steep incline and pushed open the doorway at its
end.

The portal swung slowly in, and before it could be slammed against me I
sprang into the chamber beyond. Although not yet dawn, the room was
brilliantly lighted. Its sole occupant lay prone upon a low couch at
the further side, apparently in sleep. From the hangings and sumptuous
furniture of the room I judged it to be a living-room of some
priestess, possibly of Issus herself.

At the thought the blood tingled through my veins. What, indeed, if
fortune had been kind enough to place the hideous creature alone and
unguarded in my hands. With her as hostage I could force acquiescence
to my every demand. Cautiously I approached the recumbent figure, on
noiseless feet. Closer and closer I came to it, but I had crossed but
little more than half the chamber when the figure stirred, and, as I
sprang, rose and faced me.

At first an expression of terror overspread the features of the woman
who confronted me--then startled incredulity--hope--thanksgiving.

My heart pounded within my breast as I advanced toward her--tears came
to my eyes--and the words that would have poured forth in a perfect
torrent choked in my throat as I opened my arms and took into them once
more the woman I loved--Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium.




CHAPTER XXII

VICTORY AND DEFEAT


"John Carter, John Carter," she sobbed, with her dear head upon my
shoulder; "even now I can scarce believe the witness of my own eyes.
When the girl, Thuvia, told me that you had returned to Barsoom, I
listened, but I could not understand, for it seemed that such happiness
would be impossible for one who had suffered so in silent loneliness
for all these long years. At last, when I realized that it was truth,
and then came to know the awful place in which I was held prisoner, I
learned to doubt that even you could reach me here.

"As the days passed, and moon after moon went by without bringing even
the faintest rumour of you, I resigned myself to my fate. And now that
you have come, scarce can I believe it. For an hour I have heard the
sounds of conflict within the palace. I knew not what they meant, but
I have hoped against hope that it might be the men of Helium headed by
my Prince.

"And tell

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