Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 60

of the palace guard this thing could
not have come to pass. Seek the guilty, and from them force an
explanation of the manner of their going and the direction they
have taken."

Before Kulan Tith could issue the commands that would initiate the
investigation a handsome young officer stepped forward and addressed
his jeddak.

"O Kulan Tith, Mightiest of Jeddaks," he said, "I alone be responsible
for this grievous error. Last night it was I who commanded the
palace guard. I was on duty in other parts of the palace during the
audience of the early morning, and knew nothing of what transpired
then, so that when the Father of Therns summoned me and explained
that it was your wish that his party be hastened from the city
because of the presence here of a deadly enemy who sought the Holy
Hekkador's life I did only what a lifetime of training has taught
me was the proper thing to do--I obeyed him whom I believed to be
the ruler of us all, mightier even than thou, mightiest of jeddaks.

"Let the consequences and the punishment fall on me alone, for I
alone am guilty. Those others of the palace guard who assisted in
the flight did so under my instructions."

Kulan Tith looked first at me and then at Thuvan Dihn, as though
to ask our judgment upon the man, but the error was so evidently
excusable that neither of us had any mind to see the young officer
suffer for a mistake that any might readily have made.

"How left they," asked Thuvan Dihn, "and what direction did they
take?"

"They left as they came," replied the officer, "upon their own
flier. For some time after they had departed I watched the vessel's
lights, which vanished finally due north."

"Where north could Matai Shang find an asylum?" asked Thuvan Dihn
of Kulan Tith.

For some moments the Jeddak of Kaol stood with bowed head, apparently
deep in thought. Then a sudden light brightened his countenance.

"I have it!" he cried. "Only yesterday Matai Shang let drop a hint
of his destination, telling me of a race of people unlike ourselves
who dwell far to the north. They, he said, had always been known
to the Holy Therns and were devout and faithful followers of the
ancient cult. Among them would he find a perpetual haven of refuge,
where no 'lying heretics' might seek him out. It is there that
Matai Shang has gone."

"And in all Kaol there be no flier wherein to follow," I cried.

"Nor nearer than

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