The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 54

that
of my opponents that the odds were not so greatly against me as they
appeared.

My seething blade wove a net of death about me. For an instant the
blacks pressed close to reach me with their shorter swords, but
presently they gave back, and the esteem in which they suddenly had
learned to hold my sword arm was writ large upon each countenance.

I knew though that it was but a question of minutes before their
greater numbers would wear me down, or get around my guard. I must go
down eventually to certain death before them. I shuddered at the
thought of it, dying thus in this terrible place where no word of my
end ever could reach my Dejah Thoris. Dying at the hands of nameless
black men in the gardens of the cruel therns.

Then my old-time spirit reasserted itself. The fighting blood of my
Virginian sires coursed hot through my veins. The fierce blood lust
and the joy of battle surged over me. The fighting smile that has
brought consternation to a thousand foemen touched my lips. I put the
thought of death out of my mind, and fell upon my antagonists with fury
that those who escaped will remember to their dying day.

That others would press to the support of those who faced me I knew, so
even as I fought I kept my wits at work, searching for an avenue of
escape.

It came from an unexpected quarter out of the black night behind me. I
had just disarmed a huge fellow who had given me a desperate struggle,
and for a moment the blacks stood back for a breathing spell.

They eyed me with malignant fury, yet withal there was a touch of
respect in their demeanour.

"Thern," said one, "you fight like a Dator. But for your detestable
yellow hair and your white skin you would be an honour to the First
Born of Barsoom."

"I am no thern," I said, and was about to explain that I was from
another world, thinking that by patching a truce with these fellows and
fighting with them against the therns I might enlist their aid in
regaining my liberty. But just at that moment a heavy object smote me
a resounding whack between my shoulders that nearly felled me to the
ground.

As I turned to meet this new enemy an object passed over my shoulder,
striking one of my assailants squarely in the face and knocking him
senseless to the sward. At the same instant I

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