Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 109

achieve when pitted against such a wizard of the
blade as Solan.

For a time he liked to have bested me; but presently the latent
possibilities that must have been lying dormant within me for a
lifetime came to the fore, and I fought as I had never dreamed a
human being could fight.

That that duel-royal should have taken place in the dark recesses
of a cellar, without a single appreciative eye to witness it has
always seemed to me almost a world calamity--at least from the
viewpoint Barsoomian, where bloody strife is the first and greatest
consideration of individuals, nations, and races.

I was fighting to reach the switch, Solan to prevent me; and, though
we stood not three feet from it, I could not win an inch toward
it, for he forced me back an inch for the first five minutes of
our battle.

I knew that if I were to throw it in time to save the oncoming
fleet it must be done in the next few seconds, and so I tried my
old rushing tactics; but I might as well have rushed a brick wall
for all that Solan gave way.

In fact, I came near to impaling myself upon his point for my
pains; but right was on my side, and I think that that must give a
man greater confidence than though he knew himself to be battling
in a wicked cause.

At least, I did not want in confidence; and when I next rushed Solan
it was to one side with implicit confidence that he must turn to
meet my new line of attack, and turn he did, so that now we fought
with our sides towards the coveted goal--the great switch stood
within my reach upon my right hand.

To uncover my breast for an instant would have been to court sudden
death, but I saw no other way than to chance it, if by so doing I
might rescue that oncoming, succoring fleet; and so, in the face
of a wicked sword-thrust, I reached out my point and caught the
great switch a sudden blow that released it from its seating.

So surprised and horrified was Solan that he forgot to finish his
thrust; instead, he wheeled toward the switch with a loud shriek--a
shriek which was his last, for before his hand could touch the
lever it sought, my sword's point had passed through his heart.


But Solan's last loud cry had not been without effect, for a moment
later a dozen guardsmen burst into the chamber, though not before
I had so bent and

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