The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 98

hands of the fallen and fell upon
the guards of Issus, but they were soon cut down; glorious martyrs to a
hopeless cause.

The men with us fought well, but never since Tars Tarkas and I fought
out that long, hot afternoon shoulder to shoulder against the hordes of
Warhoon in the dead sea bottom before Thark, had I seen two men fight
to such good purpose and with such unconquerable ferocity as the young
red man and I fought that day before the throne of Issus, Goddess of
Death, and of Life Eternal.

Man by man those who stood between us and the carven sorapus wood bench
went down before our blades. Others swarmed in to fill the breach, but
inch by inch, foot by foot we won nearer and nearer to our goal.

Presently a cry went up from a section of the stands near by--"Rise
slaves!" "Rise slaves!" it rose and fell until it swelled to a mighty
volume of sound that swept in great billows around the entire
amphitheatre.

For an instant, as though by common assent, we ceased our fighting to
look for the meaning of this new note nor did it take but a moment to
translate its significance. In all parts of the structure the female
slaves were falling upon their masters with whatever weapon came first
to hand. A dagger snatched from the harness of her mistress was waved
aloft by some fair slave, its shimmering blade crimson with the
lifeblood of its owner; swords plucked from the bodies of the dead
about them; heavy ornaments which could be turned into bludgeons--such
were the implements with which these fair women wreaked the long-pent
vengeance which at best could but partially recompense them for the
unspeakable cruelties and indignities which their black masters had
heaped upon them. And those who could find no other weapons used their
strong fingers and their gleaming teeth.

It was at once a sight to make one shudder and to cheer; but in a brief
second we were engaged once more in our own battle with only the
unquenchable battle cry of the women to remind us that they still
fought--"Rise slaves!" "Rise slaves!"

Only a single thin rank of men now stood between us and Issus. Her
face was blue with terror. Foam flecked her lips. She seemed too
paralysed with fear to move. Only the youth and I fought now. The
others all had fallen, and I was like to have gone down too from a
nasty long-sword cut had not a hand

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