Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 84

men,
and when I turned to face the resplendent figure of a giant yellow
man I did not need to ask to know that it was Salensus Oll. At
his right stood Matai Shang, and behind them a score of guardsmen.

"Who are you," he cried, "and what means this intrusion within the
precincts of the women's garden? I do not recall your face. How
came you here?"

But for his last words I should have forgotten my disguise entirely
and told him outright that I was John Carter, Prince of Helium;
but his question recalled me to myself. I pointed to the dislodged
bars of the window above.

"I am an aspirant to membership in the palace guard," I said, "and
from yonder window in the tower where I was confined awaiting the
final test for fitness I saw this brute attack the--this woman. I
could not stand idly by, O Jeddak, and see this thing done within
the very palace grounds, and yet feel that I was fit to serve and
guard your royal person."

I had evidently made an impression upon the ruler of Okar by my
fair words, and when he had turned to Dejah Thoris and Thuvia of
Ptarth, and both had corroborated my statements it began to look
pretty dark for Thurid.

I saw the ugly gleam in Matai Shang's evil eyes as Dejah Thoris
narrated all that had passed between Thurid and herself, and when
she came to that part which dealt with my interference with the
dator of the First Born her gratitude was quite apparent, though
I could see by her eyes that something puzzled her strangely.

I did not wonder at her attitude toward me while others were present;
but that she should have denied me while she and Thuvia were the
only occupants of the garden still cut me sorely.

As the examination proceeded I cast a glance at Thurid and startled
him looking wide-eyed and wonderingly at me, and then of a sudden
he laughed full in my face.

A moment later Salensus Oll turned toward the black.

"What have you to say in explanation of these charges?" he asked
in a deep and terrible voice. "Dare you aspire to one whom the
Father of Therns has chosen--one who might even be a fit mate for
the Jeddak of Jeddaks himself?"

And then the black-bearded tyrant turned and cast a sudden greedy
look upon Dejah Thoris, as though with the words a new thought and
a new desire had sprung up within his mind and breast.

Thurid had been about to reply

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