Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 116

with a glad cry, I turned with outstretched arms to seize
my princess, and as my lips smothered hers to reap the reward that
would be thrice ample payment for the bloody encounters through
which I had passed for her dear sake from the south pole to the
north.

The glad cry died, frozen upon my lips; my arms dropped limp and
lifeless to my sides; as one who reels beneath the burden of a
mortal wound I staggered up the steps before the throne.

Dejah Thoris was gone.




REWARDS


With the realization that Dejah Thoris was no longer within the
throneroom came the belated recollection of the dark face that I had
glimpsed peering from behind the draperies that backed the throne
of Salensus Oll at the moment that I had first come so unexpectedly
upon the strange scene being enacted within the chamber.

Why had the sight of that evil countenance not warned me to greater
caution? Why had I permitted the rapid development of new situations
to efface the recollection of that menacing danger? But, alas,
vain regret would not erase the calamity that had befallen.

Once again had Dejah Thoris fallen into the clutches of that
archfiend, Thurid, the black dator of the First Born. Again was
all my arduous labor gone for naught. Now I realized the cause
of the rage that had been writ so large upon the features of Matai
Shang and the cruel pleasure that I had seen upon the face of
Phaidor.

They had known or guessed the truth, and the hekkador of the
Holy Therns, who had evidently come to the chamber in the hope of
thwarting Salensus Oll in his contemplated perfidy against the high
priest who coveted Dejah Thoris for himself, realized that Thurid
had stolen the prize from beneath his very nose.

Phaidor's pleasure had been due to her realization of what this last
cruel blow would mean to me, as well as to a partial satisfaction
of her jealous hatred for the Princess of Helium.

My first thought was to look beyond the draperies at the back of
the throne, for there it was that I had seen Thurid. With a single
jerk I tore the priceless stuff from its fastenings, and there
before me was revealed a narrow doorway behind the throne.

No question entered my mind but that here lay the opening of the
avenue of escape which Thurid had followed, and had there been it
would have been dissipated by the sight of a tiny, jeweled ornament
which lay a few steps within the corridor beyond.

As I snatched

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