Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 29

Helium, shall become the plaything of
my lieutenants--perhaps of thy most hated enemy, Thurid, the black
dator."

As he ceased speaking he awaited in silence evidently for some
outbreak of rage upon my part--something that would have added to
the spice of his revenge. But I did not give him the satisfaction
that he craved.

Instead, I did the one thing of all others that might rouse his
anger and increase his hatred of me; for I knew that if I died
Dejah Thoris, too, would find a way to die before they could heap
further tortures or indignities upon her.

Of all the holy of holies which the thern venerates and worships
none is more revered than the yellow wig which covers his bald pate,
and next thereto comes the circlet of gold and the great diadem,
whose scintillant rays mark the attainment of the Tenth Cycle.

And, knowing this, I removed the wig and circlet from my head,
tossing them carelessly upon the flagging of the court. Then I
wiped my feet upon the yellow tresses; and as a groan of rage arose
from the balcony I spat full upon the holy diadem.

Matai Shang went livid with anger, but upon the lips of Thurid I
could see a grim smile of amusement, for to him these things were
not holy; so, lest he should derive too much amusement from my
act, I cried: "And thus did I with the holies of Issus, Goddess
of Life Eternal, ere I threw Issus herself to the mob that once
had worshiped her, to be torn to pieces in her own temple."

That put an end to Thurid's grinning, for he had been high in the
favor of Issus.

"Let us have an end to this blaspheming!" he cried, turning to the
Father of Therns.

Matai Shang rose and, leaning over the edge of the balcony, gave
voice to the weird call that I had heard from the lips of the
priests upon the tiny balcony upon the face of the Golden Cliffs
overlooking the Valley Dor, when, in times past, they called
the fearsome white apes and the hideous plant men to the feast of
victims floating down the broad bosom of the mysterious Iss toward
the silian-infested waters of the Lost Sea of Korus. "Let loose
the death!" he cried, and immediately a dozen doors in the base of
the tower swung open, and a dozen grim and terrible banths sprang
into the arena.

This was not the first time that I had faced the ferocious Barsoomian
lion, but never had I been pitted, single-handed,

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