The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 186

do it, and filled me only with the blackest shadows of
terrible foreboding, I guided her across the threshold, kissed her once
again, and closed the door upon her.

Without hesitating longer, I hurried from the chamber in the direction
of the greatest tumult. Scarce half a dozen chambers had I traversed
before I came upon the theatre of a fierce struggle. The blacks were
massed at the entrance to a great chamber where they were attempting to
block the further progress of a body of red men toward the inner sacred
precincts of the temple.

Coming from within as I did, I found myself behind the blacks, and,
without waiting to even calculate their numbers or the foolhardiness of
my venture, I charged swiftly across the chamber and fell upon them
from the rear with my keen long-sword.

As I struck the first blow I cried aloud, "For Helium!" And then I
rained cut after cut upon the surprised warriors, while the reds
without took heart at the sound of my voice, and with shouts of "John
Carter! John Carter!" redoubled their efforts so effectually that
before the blacks could recover from their temporary demoralization
their ranks were broken and the red men had burst into the chamber.

The fight within that room, had it had but a competent chronicler,
would go down in the annals of Barsoom as a historic memorial to the
grim ferocity of her warlike people. Five hundred men fought there
that day, the black men against the red. No man asked quarter or gave
it. As though by common assent they fought, as though to determine
once and for all their right to live, in accordance with the law of the
survival of the fittest.

I think we all knew that upon the outcome of this battle would hinge
for ever the relative positions of these two races upon Barsoom. It
was a battle between the old and the new, but not for once did I
question the outcome of it. With Carthoris at my side I fought for the
red men of Barsoom and for their total emancipation from the throttling
bondage of a hideous superstition.

Back and forth across the room we surged, until the floor was ankle
deep in blood, and dead men lay so thickly there that half the time we
stood upon their bodies as we fought. As we swung toward the great
windows which overlooked the gardens of Issus a sight met my gaze which
sent a wave of exultation over me.

"Look!" I cried.

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