The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 57

I gained the deck. The girl nodded to me to approach her.
As I bent low she whispered to me to release her.

"I can aid you," she said, "and you will need all the aid available
when they awaken."

"Some of them will awake in Korus," I replied smiling.

She caught the meaning of my words, and the cruelty of her answering
smile horrified me. One is not astonished by cruelty in a hideous
face, but when it touches the features of a goddess whose
fine-chiselled lineaments might more fittingly portray love and beauty,
the contrast is appalling.

Quickly I released her.

"Give me a revolver," she whispered. "I can use that upon those your
sword does not silence in time."

I did as she bid. Then I turned toward the distasteful work that lay
before me. This was no time for fine compunctions, nor for a chivalry
that these cruel demons would neither appreciate nor reciprocate.

Stealthily I approached the nearest sleeper. When he awoke he was well
on his journey to the bosom of Korus. His piercing shriek as
consciousness returned to him came faintly up to us from the black
depths beneath.

The second awoke as I touched him, and, though I succeeded in hurling
him from the cruiser's deck, his wild cry of alarm brought the
remaining pirates to their feet. There were five of them.

As they arose the girl's revolver spoke in sharp staccato and one sank
back to the deck again to rise no more.

The others rushed madly upon me with drawn swords. The girl evidently
dared not fire for fear of wounding me, but I saw her sneak stealthily
and cat-like toward the flank of the attackers. Then they were on me.

For a few minutes I experienced some of the hottest fighting I had ever
passed through. The quarters were too small for foot work. It was
stand your ground and give and take. At first I took considerably more
than I gave, but presently I got beneath one fellow's guard and had the
satisfaction of seeing him collapse upon the deck.

The others redoubled their efforts. The crashing of their blades upon
mine raised a terrific din that might have been heard for miles through
the silent night. Sparks flew as steel smote steel, and then there was
the dull and sickening sound of a shoulder bone parting beneath the
keen edge of my Martian sword.

Three now faced me, but the girl was working her way to a point that
would

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