Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 30

against a full
dozen of them. Even with the assistance of the fierce Woola, there
could be but a single outcome to so unequal a struggle.

For a moment the beasts hesitated beneath the brilliant glare
of the torches; but presently their eyes, becoming accustomed to
the light, fell upon Woola and me, and with bristling manes and
deep-throated roars they advanced, lashing their tawny sides with
their powerful tails.

In the brief interval of life that was left me I shot a last,
parting glance toward my Dejah Thoris. Her beautiful face was set
in an expression of horror; and as my eyes met hers she extended
both arms toward me as, struggling with the guards who now held
her, she endeavored to cast herself from the balcony into the pit
beneath, that she might share my death with me. Then, as the banths
were about to close upon me, she turned and buried her dear face
in her arms.

Suddenly my attention was drawn toward Thuvia of Ptarth. The
beautiful girl was leaning far over the edge of the balcony, her
eyes bright with excitement.

In another instant the banths would be upon me, but I could not
force my gaze from the features of the red girl, for I knew that
her expression meant anything but the enjoyment of the grim tragedy
that would so soon be enacted below her; there was some deeper,
hidden meaning which I sought to solve.

For an instant I thought of relying on my earthly muscles and
agility to escape the banths and reach the balcony, which I could
easily have done, but I could not bring myself to desert the
faithful Woola and leave him to die alone beneath the cruel fangs
of the hungry banths; that is not the way upon Barsoom, nor was it
ever the way of John Carter.

Then the secret of Thuvia's excitement became apparent as from her
lips there issued the purring sound I had heard once before; that
time that, within the Golden Cliffs, she called the fierce banths
about her and led them as a shepherdess might lead her flock of
meek and harmless sheep.

At the first note of that soothing sound the banths halted in their
tracks, and every fierce head went high as the beasts sought the
origin of the familiar call. Presently they discovered the red
girl in the balcony above them, and, turning, roared out their
recognition and their greeting.

Guards sprang to drag Thuvia away, but ere they had succeeded she
had hurled a volley of commands at the listening brutes, and

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