The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 95

indeed, to keep those poor victims from rushing
into the arena which the edict of the gods had appointed as their death
place!

A single blow sent the black unconscious to the ground. Snatching up
his long-sword, I sprang into the arena. The apes were almost upon the
maidens, but a couple of mighty bounds were all my earthly muscles
required to carry me to the centre of the sand-strewn floor.

For an instant silence reigned in the great amphitheatre, then a wild
shout arose from the cages of the doomed. My long-sword circled
whirring through the air, and a great ape sprawled, headless, at the
feet of the fainting girls.

The other apes turned now upon me, and as I stood facing them a sullen
roar from the audience answered the wild cheers from the cages. From
the tail of my eye I saw a score of guards rushing across the
glistening sand toward me. Then a figure broke from one of the cages
behind them. It was the youth whose personality so fascinated me.

He paused a moment before the cages, with upraised sword.

"Come, men of the outer world!" he shouted. "Let us make our deaths
worth while, and at the back of this unknown warrior turn this day's
Tribute to Issus into an orgy of revenge that will echo through the
ages and cause black skins to blanch at each repetition of the rites of
Issus. Come! The racks without your cages are filled with blades."

Without waiting to note the outcome of his plea, he turned and bounded
toward me. From every cage that harboured red men a thunderous shout
went up in answer to his exhortation. The inner guards went down
beneath howling mobs, and the cages vomited forth their inmates hot
with the lust to kill.

The racks that stood without were stripped of the swords with which the
prisoners were to have been armed to enter their allotted combats, and
a swarm of determined warriors sped to our support.

The great apes, towering in all their fifteen feet of height, had gone
down before my sword while the charging guards were still some distance
away. Close behind them pursued the youth. At my back were the young
girls, and as it was in their service that I fought, I remained
standing there to meet my inevitable death, but with the determination
to give such an account of myself as would long be remembered in the
land of the First Born.

I noted the marvellous speed of

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