Warlord of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 92

of a maniac.

Nine days passed, and I was weak from hunger and thirst, but no
longer suffering--I was past that. Then, down through the darkness
above, a little parcel fell to the floor at my side.

Indifferently I groped for it, thinking it but some new invention
of my jailers to add to my sufferings.

At last I found it--a tiny package wrapped in paper, at the end of
a strong and slender cord. As I opened it a few lozenges fell to
the floor. As I gathered them up, feeling of them and smelling
of them, I discovered that they were tablets of concentrated food
such as are quite common in all parts of Barsoom.

Poison! I thought.

Well, what of it? Why not end my misery now rather than drag out
a few more wretched days in this dark pit? Slowly I raised one of
the little pellets to my lips.

"Good-bye, my Dejah Thoris!" I breathed. "I have lived for you
and fought for you, and now my next dearest wish is to be realized,
for I shall die for you," and, taking the morsel in my mouth, I
devoured it.

One by one I ate them all, nor ever did anything taste better than
those tiny bits of nourishment, within which I knew must lie the
seeds of death--possibly of some hideous, torturing death.

As I sat quietly upon the floor of my prison, waiting for the end,
my fingers by accident came in contact with the bit of paper in
which the things had been wrapped; and as I idly played with it,
my mind roaming far back into the past, that I might live again for
a few brief moments before I died some of the many happy moments
of a long and happy life, I became aware of strange protuberances
upon the smooth surface of the parchment-like substance in my hands.

For a time they carried no special significance to my mind--I merely
was mildly wondrous that they were there; but at last they seemed
to take form, and then I realized that there was but a single line
of them, like writing.

Now, more interestedly, my fingers traced and retraced them. There
were four separate and distinct combinations of raised lines. Could
it be that these were four words, and that they were intended to
carry a message to me?

The more I thought of it the more excited I became, until my fingers
raced madly back and forth over those bewildering little hills and
valleys upon that bit of paper.

But I

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