The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 189

the reality of the picture
she was seeing, and that was added by the highest noble of her
realm--the high priest of her religion--the prime minister of her
government.

"Issus, Goddess of Death, and of Life Eternal," he cried, "arise in the
might of thy righteous wrath and with one single wave of thy omnipotent
hand strike dead thy blasphemers! Let not one escape. Issus, thy
people depend upon thee. Daughter of the Lesser Moon, thou only art
all-powerful. Thou only canst save thy people. I am done. We await
thy will. Strike!"

And then it was that she went mad. A screaming, gibbering maniac
writhed in my grasp. It bit and clawed and scratched in impotent fury.
And then it laughed a weird and terrible laughter that froze the blood.
The slave girls upon the dais shrieked and cowered away. And the thing
jumped at them and gnashed its teeth and then spat upon them from
frothing lips. God, but it was a horrid sight.

Finally, I shook the thing, hoping to recall it for a moment to
rationality.

"Where is Dejah Thoris?" I cried again.

The awful creature in my grasp mumbled inarticulately for a moment,
then a sudden gleam of cunning shot into those hideous, close-set eyes.

"Dejah Thoris? Dejah Thoris?" and then that shrill, unearthly laugh
pierced our ears once more.

"Yes, Dejah Thoris--I know. And Thuvia, and Phaidor, daughter of Matai
Shang. They each love John Carter. Ha-ah! but it is droll. Together
for a year they will meditate within the Temple of the Sun, but ere the
year is quite gone there will be no more food for them. Ho-oh! what
divine entertainment," and she licked the froth from her cruel lips.
"There will be no more food--except each other. Ha-ah! Ha-ah!"

The horror of the suggestion nearly paralysed me. To this awful fate
the creature within my power had condemned my Princess. I trembled in
the ferocity of my rage. As a terrier shakes a rat I shook Issus,
Goddess of Life Eternal.

"Countermand your orders!" I cried. "Recall the condemned. Haste, or
you die!"

"It is too late. Ha-ah! Ha-ah!" and then she commenced her gibbering
and shrieking again.

Almost of its own volition, my dagger flew up above that putrid heart.
But something stayed my hand, and I am now glad that it did. It were a
terrible thing to have struck down a woman with one's own hand. But a
fitter

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