Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 43

I knew that it would not be long
ere my new acquaintance discovered that I was no thern at all.

"I am not a thern," I replied, and then, flinging caution to the
winds, I said: "I am John Carter, Prince of Helium, whose name
may not be entirely unknown to you."

If his eyes had gone wide when he thought that I was a Holy Thern,
they fairly popped now that he knew that I was John Carter. I
grasped my long-sword more firmly as I spoke the words which I was
sure would precipitate an attack, but to my surprise they precipitated
nothing of the kind.

"John Carter, Prince of Helium," he repeated slowly, as though he
could not quite grasp the truth of the statement. "John Carter,
the mightiest warrior of Barsoom!"

And then he dismounted and placed his hand upon my shoulder after
the manner of most friendly greeting upon Mars.

"It is my duty, and it should be my pleasure, to kill you, John
Carter," he said, "but always in my heart of hearts have I admired
your prowess and believed in your sincerity the while I have
questioned and disbelieved the therns and their religion.

"It would mean my instant death were my heresy to be suspected in
the court of Kulan Tith, but if I may serve you, Prince, you have
but to command Torkar Bar, Dwar of the Kaolian Road."

Truth and honesty were writ large upon the warrior's noble countenance,
so that I could not but have trusted him, enemy though he should
have been. His title of Captain of the Kaolian Road explained
his timely presence in the heart of the savage forest, for every
highway upon Barsoom is patrolled by doughty warriors of the noble
class, nor is there any service more honorable than this lonely
and dangerous duty in the less frequented sections of the domains
of the red men of Barsoom.

"Torkar Bar has already placed a great debt of gratitude upon my
shoulders," I replied, pointing to the carcass of the creature from
whose heart he was dragging his long spear.

The red man smiled.

"It was fortunate that I came when I did," he said. "Only this
poisoned spear pricking the very heart of a sith can kill it quickly
enough to save its prey. In this section of Kaol we are all armed
with a long sith spear, whose point is smeared with the poison of
the creature it is intended to kill; no other virus acts so quickly
upon the beast as its own.

"Look," he continued,

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