The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 96

the young red man as he raced after the
guards. Never had I seen such speed in any Martian. His leaps and
bounds were little short of those which my earthly muscles had produced
to create such awe and respect on the part of the green Martians into
whose hands I had fallen on that long-gone day that had seen my first
advent upon Mars.

The guards had not reached me when he fell upon them from the rear, and
as they turned, thinking from the fierceness of his onslaught that a
dozen were attacking them, I rushed them from my side.

In the rapid fighting that followed I had little chance to note aught
else than the movements of my immediate adversaries, but now and again
I caught a fleeting glimpse of a purring sword and a lightly springing
figure of sinewy steel that filled my heart with a strange yearning and
a mighty but unaccountable pride.

On the handsome face of the boy a grim smile played, and ever and anon
he threw a taunting challenge to the foes that faced him. In this and
other ways his manner of fighting was similar to that which had always
marked me on the field of combat.

Perhaps it was this vague likeness which made me love the boy, while
the awful havoc that his sword played amongst the blacks filled my soul
with a tremendous respect for him.

For my part, I was fighting as I had fought a thousand times
before--now sidestepping a wicked thrust, now stepping quickly in to
let my sword's point drink deep in a foeman's heart, before it buried
itself in the throat of his companion.

We were having a merry time of it, we two, when a great body of Issus'
own guards were ordered into the arena. On they came with fierce
cries, while from every side the armed prisoners swarmed upon them.

For half an hour it was as though all hell had broken loose. In the
walled confines of the arena we fought in an inextricable
mass--howling, cursing, blood-streaked demons; and ever the sword of
the young red man flashed beside me.

Slowly and by repeated commands I had succeeded in drawing the
prisoners into a rough formation about us, so that at last we fought
formed into a rude circle in the centre of which were the doomed maids.

Many had gone down on both sides, but by far the greater havoc had been
wrought in the ranks of the guards of Issus. I could see messengers
running swiftly through

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