The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 25

numbers of their own dead to count than they will
get in return. White ape or plant man, green Barsoomian or red man,
whosoever it shall be that takes the last toll from us will know that
it is costly in lives to wipe out John Carter, Prince of the House of
Tardos Mors, and Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of Thark, at the same time."

I could not help but laugh at his grim humour, and he joined in with me
in one of those rare laughs of real enjoyment which was one of the
attributes of this fierce Tharkian chief which marked him from the
others of his kind.

"But about yourself, John Carter," he cried at last. "If you have not
been here all these years where indeed have you been, and how is it
that I find you here to-day?"

"I have been back to Earth," I replied. "For ten long Earth years I
have been praying and hoping for the day that would carry me once more
to this grim old planet of yours, for which, with all its cruel and
terrible customs, I feel a bond of sympathy and love even greater than
for the world that gave me birth.

"For ten years have I been enduring a living death of uncertainty and
doubt as to whether Dejah Thoris lived, and now that for the first time
in all these years my prayers have been answered and my doubt relieved
I find myself, through a cruel whim of fate, hurled into the one tiny
spot of all Barsoom from which there is apparently no escape, and if
there were, at a price which would put out for ever the last flickering
hope which I may cling to of seeing my princess again in this life--and
you have seen to-day with what pitiful futility man yearns toward a
material hereafter.

"Only a bare half-hour before I saw you battling with the plant men I
was standing in the moonlight upon the banks of a broad river that taps
the eastern shore of Earth's most blessed land. I have answered you,
my friend. Do you believe?"

"I believe," replied Tars Tarkas, "though I cannot understand."

As we talked I had been searching the interior of the chamber with my
eyes. It was, perhaps, two hundred feet in length and half as broad,
with what appeared to be a doorway in the centre of the wall directly
opposite that through which we had entered.

The apartment was hewn from the material of the cliff, showing mostly
dull gold in

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