Warlord of Mars



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6. A HERO IN KAOL
It was daylight when I was awakened by the sound of stealthy movement

near by.
As I opened my eyes Woola, too, moved and, coming up to his haunches,

stared through the intervening brush toward the road, each hair

upon his neck stiffly erect.


At first I could see nothing, but presently I caught a glimpse of

a bit of smooth and glossy green moving among the scarlet and purple

and yellow of the vegetation.
Motioning Woola to remain quietly where he was, I crept forward to

investigate, and from behind the bole of a great tree I saw a long

line of the hideous green warriors of the dead sea bottoms hiding

in the dense jungle beside the road.


As far as I could see, the silent line of destruction and death

stretched away from the city of Kaol. There could be but one

explanation. The green men were expecting an exodus of a body of

red troops from the nearest city gate, and they were lying there

in ambush to leap upon them.
I owed no fealty to the Jeddak of Kaol, but he was of the same race

of noble red men as my own princess, and I would not stand supinely

by and see his warriors butchered by the cruel and heartless demons

of the waste places of Barsoom.


Cautiously I retraced my steps to where I had left Woola, and warning

him to silence, signaled him to follow me. Making a considerable

detour to avoid the chance of falling into the hands of the green

men, I came at last to the great wall.


A hundred yards to my right was the gate from which the troops

were evidently expected to issue, but to reach it I must pass the

flank of the green warriors within easy sight of them, and, fearing

that my plan to warn the Kaolians might thus be thwarted, I decided

upon hastening toward the left, where another gate a mile away

would give me ingress to the city.


I knew that the word I brought would prove a splendid passport to

Kaol, and I must admit that my caution was due more to my ardent

desire to make my way into the city than to avoid a brush with the

green men. As much as I enjoy a fight, I cannot always indulge

myself, and just now I had more weighty matters to occupy my time

than spilling the blood of strange warriors.


Could I but win beyond the city's wall, there might be opportunity

in the confusion and excitement which were sure to follow my

announcement of an invading force of green warriors to find my way

within the palace of the jeddak, where I was sure Matai Shang and

his party would be quartered.
But scarcely had I taken a hundred steps in the direction of the

farther gate when the sound of marching troops, the clank of metal,

and the squealing of thoats just within the city apprised me of the

fact that the Kaolians were already moving toward the other gate.


There was no time to be lost. In another moment the gate would be

opened and the head of the column pass out upon the death-bordered

highway.
Turning back toward the fateful gate, I ran rapidly along the edge

of the clearing, taking the ground in the mighty leaps that had

first made me famous upon Barsoom. Thirty, fifty, a hundred feet

at a bound are nothing for the muscles of an athletic Earth man

upon Mars.
As I passed the flank of the waiting green men they saw my eyes

turned upon them, and in an instant, knowing that all secrecy was

at an end, those nearest me sprang to their feet in an effort to

cut me off before I could reach the gate.


At the same instant the mighty portal swung wide and the head of

the Kaolian column emerged. A dozen green warriors had succeeded

in reaching a point between me and the gate, but they had but little

idea who it was they had elected to detain.


I did not slacken my speed an iota as I dashed among them, and as

they fell before my blade I could not but recall the happy memory

of those other battles when Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of Thark, mightiest

of Martian green men, had stood shoulder to shoulder with me through

long, hot Martian days, as together we hewed down our enemies until

the pile of corpses about us rose higher than a tall man's head.


When several pressed me too closely, there before the carved gateway

of Kaol, I leaped above their heads, and fashioning my tactics

after those of the hideous plant men of Dor, struck down upon my

enemies' heads as I passed above them.


From the city the red warriors were rushing toward us, and from

the jungle the savage horde of green men were coming to meet them.

In a moment I was in the very center of as fierce and bloody a

battle as I had ever passed through.


These Kaolians are most noble fighters, nor are the green men of

the equator one whit less warlike than their cold, cruel cousins of

the temperate zone. There were many times when either side might

have withdrawn without dishonor and thus ended hostilities, but

from the mad abandon with which each invariably renewed hostilities

I soon came to believe that what need not have been more than a

trifling skirmish would end only with the complete extermination

of one force or the other.


With the joy of battle once roused within me, I took keen delight

in the fray, and that my fighting was noted by the Kaolians was

often evidenced by the shouts of applause directed at me.
If I sometimes seem to take too great pride in my fighting ability, it

must be remembered that fighting is my vocation. If your vocation

be shoeing horses, or painting pictures, and you can do one or

the other better than your fellows, then you are a fool if you are

not proud of your ability. And so I am very proud that upon two

planets no greater fighter has ever lived than John Carter, Prince

of Helium.
And I outdid myself that day to impress the fact upon the natives

of Kaol, for I wished to win a way into their hearts--and their

city. Nor was I to be disappointed in my desire.
All day we fought, until the road was red with blood and clogged

with corpses. Back and forth along the slippery highway the tide

of battle surged, but never once was the gateway to Kaol really in

danger.
There were breathing spells when I had a chance to converse with

the red men beside whom I fought, and once the jeddak, Kulan Tith

himself, laid his hand upon my shoulder and asked my name.


"I am Dotar Sojat," I replied, recalling a name given me by the

Tharks many years before, from the surnames of the first two of

their warriors I had killed, which is the custom among them.
"You are a mighty warrior, Dotar Sojat," he replied, "and when

this day is done I shall speak with you again in the great audience

chamber."
And then the fight surged upon us once more and we were separated,

but my heart's desire was attained, and it was with renewed vigor

and a joyous soul that I laid about me with my long-sword until

the last of the green men had had enough and had withdrawn toward

their distant sea bottom.
Not until the battle was over did I learn why the red troops had

sallied forth that day. It seemed that Kulan Tith was expecting

a visit from a mighty jeddak of the north--a powerful and the only

ally of the Kaolians, and it had been his wish to meet his guest

a full day's journey from Kaol.
But now the march of the welcoming host was delayed until the

following morning, when the troops again set out from Kaol. I had

not been bidden to the presence of Kulan Tith after the battle,

but he had sent an officer to find me and escort me to comfortable

quarters in that part of the palace set aside for the officers of

the royal guard.


There, with Woola, I had spent a comfortable night, and rose much

refreshed after the arduous labors of the past few days. Woola

had fought with me through the battle of the previous day, true to

the instincts and training of a Martian war dog, great numbers of

which are often to be found with the savage green hordes of the

dead sea bottoms.


Neither of us had come through the conflict unscathed, but the

marvelous, healing salves of Barsoom had sufficed, overnight, to

make us as good as new.
I breakfasted with a number of the Kaolian officers, whom I found

as courteous and delightful hosts as even the nobles of Helium, who

are renowned for their ease of manners and excellence of breeding.

The meal was scarcely concluded when a messenger arrived from Kulan

Tith summoning me before him.
As I entered the royal presence the jeddak rose, and stepping from

the dais which supported his magnificent throne, came forward to

meet me--a mark of distinction that is seldom accorded to other

than a visiting ruler.

"Kaor, Dotar Sojat!" he greeted me. "I have summoned you to receive

the grateful thanks of the people of Kaol, for had it not been for

your heroic bravery in daring fate to warn us of the ambuscade we

must surely have fallen into the well-laid trap. Tell me more of

yourself--from what country you come, and what errand brings you

to the court of Kulan Tith."


"I am from Hastor," I said, for in truth I had a small palace in

that southern city which lies within the far-flung dominions of

the Heliumetic nation.
"My presence in the land of Kaol is partly due to accident, my

flier being wrecked upon the southern fringe of your great forest.

It was while seeking entrance to the city of Kaol that I discovered

the green horde lying in wait for your troops."


If Kulan Tith wondered what business brought me in a flier to the

very edge of his domain he was good enough not to press me further

for an explanation, which I should indeed have had difficulty in

rendering.


During my audience with the jeddak another party entered the

chamber from behind me, so that I did not see their faces until

Kulan Tith stepped past me to greet them, commanding me to follow

and be presented.


As I turned toward them it was with difficulty that I controlled

my features, for there, listening to Kulan Tith's eulogistic words

concerning me, stood my arch-enemies, Matai Shang and Thurid.
"Holy Hekkador of the Holy Therns," the jeddak was saying, "shower

thy blessings upon Dotar Sojat, the valorous stranger from distant


Hastor, whose wondrous heroism and marvelous ferocity saved the

day for Kaol yesterday."


Matai Shang stepped forward and laid his hand upon my shoulder.

No slightest indication that he recognized me showed upon his

countenance--my disguise was evidently complete.
He spoke kindly to me and then presented me to Thurid. The black,

too, was evidently entirely deceived. Then Kulan Tith regaled

them, much to my amusement, with details of my achievements upon

the field of battle.


The thing that seemed to have impressed him most was my remarkable

agility, and time and again he described the wondrous way in which

I had leaped completely over an antagonist, cleaving his skull wide

open with my long-sword as I passed above him.


I thought that I saw Thurid's eyes widen a bit during the narrative,

and several times I surprised him gazing intently into my face

through narrowed lids. Was he commencing to suspect? And then

Kulan Tith told of the savage calot that fought beside me, and

after that I saw suspicion in the eyes of Matai Shang--or did I

but imagine it?


At the close of the audience Kulan Tith announced that he would

have me accompany him upon the way to meet his royal guest, and

as I departed with an officer who was to procure proper trappings

and a suitable mount for me, both Matai Shang and Thurid seemed most

sincere in professing their pleasure at having had an opportunity

to know me. It was with a sigh of relief that I quitted the chamber,

convinced that nothing more than a guilty conscience had prompted

my belief that either of my enemies suspected my true identity.


A half-hour later I rode out of the city gate with the column that

accompanied Kulan Tith upon the way to meet his friend and ally.

Though my eyes and ears had been wide open during my audience with

the jeddak and my various passages through the palace, I had seen

or heard nothing of Dejah Thoris or Thuvia of Ptarth. That they

must be somewhere within the great rambling edifice I was positive,

and I should have given much to have found a way to remain behind

during Kulan Tith's absence, that I might search for them.


Toward noon we came in touch with the head of the column we had

set out to meet.


It was a gorgeous train that accompanied the visiting jeddak, and

for miles it stretched along the wide, white road to Kaol. Mounted

troops, their trappings of jewel and metal-incrusted leather

glistening in the sunlight, formed the vanguard of the body, and

then came a thousand gorgeous chariots drawn by huge zitidars.
These low, commodious wagons moved two abreast, and on either side

of them marched solid ranks of mounted warriors, for in the chariots

were the women and children of the royal court. Upon the back

of each monster zitidar rode a Martian youth, and the whole scene

carried me back to my first days upon Barsoom, now twenty-two years

in the past, when I had first beheld the gorgeous spectacle of a

caravan of the green horde of Tharks.
Never before today had I seen zitidars in the service of red men.

These brutes are huge mastodonian animals that tower to an immense

height even beside the giant green men and their giant thoats;

but when compared to the relatively small red man and his breed

of thoats they assume Brobdingnagian proportions that are truly

appalling.


The beasts were hung with jeweled trappings and saddlepads of gay

silk, embroidered in fanciful designs with strings of diamonds,

pearls, rubies, emeralds, and the countless unnamed jewels of Mars,

while from each chariot rose a dozen standards from which streamers,

flags, and pennons fluttered in the breeze.
Just in front of the chariots the visiting jeddak rode alone upon

a pure white thoat--another unusual sight upon Barsoom--and after

them came interminable ranks of mounted spearmen, riflemen, and

swordsmen. It was indeed a most imposing sight.


Except for the clanking of accouterments and the occasional squeal

of an angry thoat or the low guttural of a zitidar, the passage of

the cavalcade was almost noiseless, for neither thoat nor zitidar

is a hoofed animal, and the broad tires of the chariots are of an

elastic composition, which gives forth no sound.
Now and then the gay laughter of a woman or the chatter of children

could be heard, for the red Martians are a social, pleasure-loving

people--in direct antithesis to the cold and morbid race of green

men.
The forms and ceremonials connected with the meeting of the two

jeddaks consumed an hour, and then we turned and retraced our way

toward the city of Kaol, which the head of the column reached just

before dark, though it must have been nearly morning before the

rear guard passed through the gateway.


Fortunately, I was well up toward the head of the column, and after

the great banquet, which I attended with the officers of the royal

guard, I was free to seek repose. There was so much activity and

bustle about the palace all during the night with the constant

arrival of the noble officers of the visiting jeddak's retinue

that I dared not attempt to prosecute a search for Dejah Thoris,

and so, as soon as it was seemly for me to do so, I returned to my

quarters.


As I passed along the corridors between the banquet hall and the

apartments that had been allotted me, I had a sudden feeling that

I was under surveillance, and, turning quickly in my tracks, caught

a glimpse of a figure which darted into an open doorway the instant

I wheeled about.
Though I ran quickly back to the spot where the shadower had

disappeared I could find no trace of him, yet in the brief glimpse

that I had caught I could have sworn that I had seen a white face

surmounted by a mass of yellow hair.


The incident gave me considerable food for speculation, since if I

were right in the conclusion induced by the cursory glimpse I had

had of the spy, then Matai Shang and Thurid must suspect my identity,

and if that were true not even the service I had rendered Kulan

Tith could save me from his religious fanaticism.
But never did vague conjecture or fruitless fears for the future

lie with sufficient weight upon my mind to keep me from my rest,

and so tonight I threw myself upon my sleeping silks and furs and

passed at once into dreamless slumber.


Calots are not permitted within the walls of the palace proper,

and so I had had to relegate poor Woola to quarters in the stables

where the royal thoats are kept. He had comfortable, even luxurious

apartments, but I would have given much to have had him with me;

and if he had been, the thing which happened that night would not

have come to pass.


I could not have slept over a quarter of an hour when I was suddenly

awakened by the passing of some cold and clammy thing across my

forehead. Instantly I sprang to my feet, clutching in the direction I

thought the presence lay. For an instant my hand touched against

human flesh, and then, as I lunged headforemost through the

darkness to seize my nocturnal visitor, my foot became entangled

in my sleeping silks and I fell sprawling to the floor.
By the time I had resumed my feet and found the button which

controlled the light my caller had disappeared. Careful search of

the room revealed nothing to explain either the identity or business

of the person who had thus secretly sought me in the dead of night.


That the purpose might be theft I could not believe, since thieves

are practically unknown upon Barsoom. Assassination, however, is

rampant, but even this could not have been the motive of my stealthy

friend, for he might easily have killed me had he desired.


I had about given up fruitless conjecture and was on the point

of returning to sleep when a dozen Kaolian guardsmen entered my

apartment. The officer in charge was one of my genial hosts of

the morning, but now upon his face was no sign of friendship.


"Kulan Tith commands your presence before him," he said. "Come!"


7. NEW ALLIES
Surrounded by guardsmen I marched back along the corridors of the

palace of Kulan Tith, Jeddak of Kaol, to the great audience chamber

in the center of the massive structure.
As I entered the brilliantly lighted apartment, filled with the

nobles of Kaol and the officers of the visiting jeddak, all eyes

were turned upon me. Upon the great dais at the end of the chamber

stood three thrones, upon which sat Kulan Tith and his two guests,

Matai Shang, and the visiting jeddak.
Up the broad center aisle we marched beneath deadly silence, and

at the foot of the thrones we halted.


"Prefer thy charge," said Kulan Tith, turning to one who stood

among the nobles at his right; and then Thurid, the black dator of

the First Born, stepped forward and faced me.
"Most noble Jeddak," he said, addressing Kulan Tith, "from the first

I suspected this stranger within thy palace. Your description of

his fiendish prowess tallied with that of the arch-enemy of truth

upon Barsoom.


"But that there might be no mistake I despatched a priest of your

own holy cult to make the test that should pierce his disguise and

reveal the truth. Behold the result!" and Thurid pointed a rigid

finger at my forehead.


All eyes followed the direction of that accusing digit--I alone

seemed at a loss to guess what fatal sign rested upon my brow.


The officer beside me guessed my perplexity; and as the brows of

Kulan Tith darkened in a menacing scowl as his eyes rested upon

me, the noble drew a small mirror from his pocket-pouch and held

it before my face.


One glance at the reflection it gave back to me was sufficient.
From my forehead the hand of the sneaking thern had reached out

through the concealing darkness of my bed-chamber and wiped away a

patch of the disguising red pigment as broad as my palm. Beneath

showed the tanned texture of my own white skin.


For a moment Thurid ceased speaking, to enhance, I suspect, the
dramatic effect of his disclosure. Then he resumed.
"Here, O Kulan Tith," he cried, "is he who has desecrated the temples of

the Gods of Mars, who has violated the persons of the Holy Therns

themselves and turned a world against its age-old religion. Before

you, in your power, Jeddak of Kaol, Defender of the Holies, stands

John Carter, Prince of Helium!"
Kulan Tith looked toward Matai Shang as though for corroboration

of these charges. The Holy Thern nodded his head.


"It is indeed the arch-blasphemer," he said. "Even now he has

followed me to the very heart of thy palace, Kulan Tith, for the

sole purpose of assassinating me. He--"
"He lies!" I cried. "Kulan Tith, listen that you may know the

truth. Listen while I tell you why John Carter has followed Matai

Shang to the heart of thy palace. Listen to me as well as to them,

and then judge if my acts be not more in accord with true Barsoomian

chivalry and honor than those of these revengeful devotees of the

spurious creeds from whose cruel bonds I have freed your planet."


"Silence!" roared the jeddak, leaping to his feet and laying his

hand upon the hilt of his sword. "Silence, blasphemer! Kulan Tith

need not permit the air of his audience chamber to be defiled by

the heresies that issue from your polluted throat to judge you.


"You stand already self-condemned. It but remains to determine

the manner of your death. Even the service that you rendered the

arms of Kaol shall avail you naught; it was but a base subterfuge

whereby you might win your way into my favor and reach the side

of this holy man whose life you craved. To the pits with him!" he

concluded, addressing the officer of my guard.


Here was a pretty pass, indeed! What chance had I against a whole

nation? What hope for me of mercy at the hands of the fanatical

Kulan Tith with such advisers as Matai Shang and Thurid. The black

grinned malevolently in my face.


"You shall not escape this time, Earth man," he taunted.
The guards closed toward me. A red haze blurred my vision. The

fighting blood of my Virginian sires coursed hot through my veins.

The lust of battle in all its mad fury was upon me.
With a leap I was beside Thurid, and ere the devilish smirk had

faded from his handsome face I had caught him full upon the mouth

with my clenched fist; and as the good, old American blow landed,

the black dator shot back a dozen feet, to crumple in a heap at

the foot of Kulan Tith's throne, spitting blood and teeth from his

hurt mouth.


Then I drew my sword and swung round, on guard, to face a nation.
In an instant the guardsmen were upon me, but before a blow had

been struck a mighty voice rose above the din of shouting warriors,

and a giant figure leaped from the dais beside Kulan Tith and, with

drawn long-sword, threw himself between me and my adversaries.


It was the visiting jeddak.
"Hold!" he cried. "If you value my friendship, Kulan Tith, and the

age-old peace that has existed between our peoples, call off your

swordsmen; for wherever or against whomsoever fights John Carter,

Prince of Helium, there beside him and to the death fights Thuvan

Dihn, Jeddak of Ptarth."
The shouting ceased and the menacing points were lowered as a

thousand eyes turned first toward Thuvan Dihn in surprise and then

toward Kulan Tith in question. At first the Jeddak of Kaol went

white in rage, but before he spoke he had mastered himself, so

that his tone was calm and even as befitted intercourse between

two great jeddaks.


"Thuvan Dihn," he said slowly, "must have great provocation thus

to desecrate the ancient customs which inspire the deportment of

a guest within the palace of his host. Lest I, too, should forget

myself as has my royal friend, I should prefer to remain silent

until the Jeddak of Ptarth has won from me applause for his action

by relating the causes which provoked it."


I could see that the Jeddak of Ptarth was of half a mind to throw

his metal in Kulan Tith's face, but he controlled himself even as

well as had his host.
"None knows better than Thuvan Dihn," he said, "the laws which govern

the acts of men in the domains of their neighbors; but Thuvan Dihn

owes allegiance to a higher law than these--the law of gratitude.

Nor to any man upon Barsoom does he owe a greater debt of gratitude

than to John Carter, Prince of Helium.
"Years ago, Kulan Tith," he continued, "upon the occasion of your

last visit to me, you were greatly taken with the charms and graces

of my only daughter, Thuvia. You saw how I adored her, and later

you learned that, inspired by some unfathomable whim, she had

taken the last, long, voluntary pilgrimage upon the cold bosom of

the mysterious Iss, leaving me desolate.


"Some months ago I first heard of the expedition which John Carter

had led against Issus and the Holy Therns. Faint rumors of the

atrocities reported to have been committed by the therns upon those

who for countless ages have floated down the mighty Iss came to my

ears.
"I heard that thousands of prisoners had been released, few of

whom dared to return to their own countries owing to the mandate of

terrible death which rests against all who return from the Valley

Dor.
"For a time I could not believe the heresies which I heard, and

I prayed that my daughter Thuvia might have died before she ever

committed the sacrilege of returning to the outer world. But then

my father's love asserted itself, and I vowed that I would prefer

eternal damnation to further separation from her if she could be

found.
"So I sent emissaries to Helium, and to the court of Xodar, Jeddak

of the First Born, and to him who now rules those of the thern

nation that have renounced their religion; and from each and all

I heard the same story of unspeakable cruelties and atrocities

perpetrated upon the poor defenseless victims of their religion by

the Holy Therns.


"Many there were who had seen or known my daughter, and from therns

who had been close to Matai Shang I learned of the indignities that

he personally heaped upon her; and I was glad when I came here to

find that Matai Shang was also your guest, for I should have sought

him out had it taken a lifetime.
"More, too, I heard, and that of the chivalrous kindness that John

Carter had accorded my daughter. They told me how he fought for

her and rescued her, and how he spurned escape from the savage

Warhoons of the south, sending her to safety upon his own thoat

and remaining upon foot to meet the green warriors.
"Can you wonder, Kulan Tith, that I am willing to jeopardize

my life, the peace of my nation, or even your friendship, which I

prize more than aught else, to champion the Prince of Helium?"
For a moment Kulan Tith was silent. I could see by the expression

of his face that he was sore perplexed. Then he spoke.


"Thuvan Dihn," he said, and his tone was friendly though sad,

"who am I to judge my fellow-man? In my eyes the Father of Therns

is still holy, and the religion which he teaches the only true

religion, but were I faced by the same problem that has vexed you

I doubt not that I should feel and act precisely as you have.
"In so far as the Prince of Helium is concerned I may act, but between

you and Matai Shang my only office can be one of conciliation. The

Prince of Helium shall be escorted in safety to the boundary of

my domain ere the sun has set again, where he shall be free to go

whither he will; but upon pain of death must he never again enter

the land of Kaol.


"If there be a quarrel between you and the Father of Therns, I

need not ask that the settlement of it be deferred until both have

passed beyond the limits of my power. Are you satisfied, Thuvan

Dihn?"
The Jeddak of Ptarth nodded his assent, but the ugly scowl that he

bent upon Matai Shang harbored ill for that pasty-faced godling.
"The Prince of Helium is far from satisfied," I cried, breaking

rudely in upon the beginnings of peace, for I had no stomach for

peace at the price that had been named.
"I have escaped death in a dozen forms to follow Matai Shang and

overtake him, and I do not intend to be led, like a decrepit thoat

to the slaughter, from the goal that I have won by the prowess of

my sword arm and the might of my muscles.


"Nor will Thuvan Dihn, Jeddak of Ptarth, be satisfied when he has

heard me through. Do you know why I have followed Matai Shang and

Thurid, the black dator, from the forests of the Valley Dor across

half a world through almost insurmountable difficulties?


"Think you that John Carter, Prince of Helium, would stoop to

assassination? Can Kulan Tith be such a fool as to believe that

lie, whispered in his ear by the Holy Thern or Dator Thurid?
"I do not follow Matai Shang to kill him, though the God of mine

own planet knows that my hands itch to be at his throat. I follow

him, Thuvan Dihn, because with him are two prisoners--my wife, Dejah

Thoris, Princess of Helium, and your daughter, Thuvia of Ptarth.


"Now think you that I shall permit myself to be led beyond the

walls of Kaol unless the mother of my son accompanies me, and thy

daughter be restored?"
Thuvan Dihn turned upon Kulan Tith. Rage flamed in his keen eyes;

but by the masterfulness of his self-control he kept his tones

level as he spoke.
"Knew you this thing, Kulan Tith?" he asked. "Knew you that my

daughter lay a prisoner in your palace?"


"He could not know it," interrupted Matai Shang, white with what

I am sure was more fear than rage. "He could not know it, for it

is a lie."
I would have had his life for that upon the spot, but even as I

sprang toward him Thuvan Dihn laid a heavy hand upon my shoulder.


"Wait," he said to me, and then to Kulan Tith. "It is not a lie.

This much have I learned of the Prince of Helium--he does not lie.

Answer me, Kulan Tith--I have asked you a question."
"Three women came with the Father of Therns," replied Kulan Tith.

"Phaidor, his daughter, and two who were reported to be her slaves.

If these be Thuvia of Ptarth and Dejah Thoris of Helium I did not

know it--I have seen neither. But if they be, then shall they be

returned to you on the morrow."
As he spoke he looked straight at Matai Shang, not as a devotee

should look at a high priest, but as a ruler of men looks at one

to whom he issues a command.
It must have been plain to the Father of Therns, as it was to me,

that the recent disclosures of his true character had done much

already to weaken the faith of Kulan Tith, and that it would require

but little more to turn the powerful jeddak into an avowed enemy;

but so strong are the seeds of superstition that even the great

Kaolian still hesitated to cut the final strand that bound him to

his ancient religion.
Matai Shang was wise enough to seem to accept the mandate of his

follower, and promised to bring the two slave women to the audience

chamber on the morrow.
"It is almost morning now," he said, "and I should dislike to break

in upon the slumber of my daughter, or I would have them fetched

at once that you might see that the Prince of Helium is mistaken,"

and he emphasized the last word in an effort to affront me so

subtlety that I could not take open offense.
I was about to object to any delay, and demand that the Princess

of Helium be brought to me forthwith, when Thuvan Dihn made such

insistence seem unnecessary.
"I should like to see my daughter at once," he said, "but if Kulan

Tith will give me his assurance that none will be permitted to

leave the palace this night, and that no harm shall befall either

Dejah Thoris or Thuvia of Ptarth between now and the moment they

are brought into our presence in this chamber at daylight I shall

not insist."


"None shall leave the palace tonight," replied the Jeddak of Kaol,

"and Matai Shang will give us assurance that no harm will come to

the two women?"
The thern assented with a nod. A few moments later Kulan Tith

indicated that the audience was at an end, and at Thuvan Dihn's

invitation I accompanied the Jeddak of Ptarth to his own apartments,

where we sat until daylight, while he listened to the account of

my experiences upon his planet and to all that had befallen his

daughter during the time that we had been together.


I found the father of Thuvia a man after my own heart, and that

night saw the beginning of a friendship which has grown until it

is second only to that which obtains between Tars Tarkas, the green

Jeddak of Thark, and myself.


The first burst of Mars's sudden dawn brought messengers from Kulan

Tith, summoning us to the audience chamber where Thuvan Dihn was

to receive his daughter after years of separation, and I was to

be reunited with the glorious daughter of Helium after an almost

unbroken separation of twelve years.
My heart pounded within my bosom until I looked about me in

embarrassment, so sure was I that all within the room must hear.

My arms ached to enfold once more the divine form of her whose

eternal youth and undying beauty were but outward manifestations

of a perfect soul.
At last the messenger despatched to fetch Matai Shang returned. I

craned my neck to catch the first glimpse of those who should be

following, but the messenger was alone.
Halting before the throne he addressed his jeddak in a voice that

was plainly audible to all within the chamber.


"O Kulan Tith, Mightiest of Jeddaks," he cried, after the fashion

of the court, "your messenger returns alone, for when he reached

the apartments of the Father of Therns he found them empty, as were

those occupied by his suite."


Kulan Tith went white.
A low groan burst from the lips of Thuvan Dihn who stood next me,

not having ascended the throne which awaited him beside his host.

For a moment the silence of death reigned in the great audience

chamber of Kulan Tith, Jeddak of Kaol. It was he who broke the

spell.
Rising from his throne he stepped down from the dais to the side

of Thuvan Dihn. Tears dimmed his eyes as he placed both his hands

upon the shoulders of his friend.
"O Thuvan Dihn," he cried, "that this should have happened in the

palace of thy best friend! With my own hands would I have wrung

the neck of Matai Shang had I guessed what was in his foul heart.

Last night my life-long faith was weakened--this morning it has

been shattered; but too late, too late.
"To wrest your daughter and the wife of this royal warrior from the

clutches of these archfiends you have but to command the resources

of a mighty nation, for all Kaol is at your disposal. What may be

done? Say the word!"


"First," I suggested, "let us find those of your people who

be responsible for the escape of Matai Shang and his followers.

Without assistance on the part 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 Ptarth," replied Thuvan Dihn.
"Wait!" I exclaimed, "beyond the southern fringe of this great

forest lies the wreck of the thern flier which brought me that far

upon my way. If you will loan me men to fetch it, and artificers

to assist me, I can repair it in two days, Kulan Tith."


I had been more than half suspicious of the seeming sincerity of

the Kaolian jeddak's sudden apostasy, but the alacrity with which

he embraced my suggestion, and the despatch with which a force of

officers and men were placed at my disposal entirely removed the

last vestige of my doubts.
Two days later the flier rested upon the top of the watchtower,

ready to depart. Thuvan Dihn and Kulan Tith had offered me the

entire resources of two nations--millions of fighting men were at

my disposal; but my flier could hold but one other than myself and

Woola.
As I stepped aboard her, Thuvan Dihn took his place beside me. I

cast a look of questioning surprise upon him. He turned to the

highest of his own officers who had accompanied him to Kaol.
"To you I entrust the return of my retinue to Ptarth," he said.

"There my son rules ably in my absence. The Prince of Helium shall

not go alone into the land of his enemies. I have spoken. Farewell!"

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