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The Gods of Mars

Chapter 14. The Eyes In The Dark
My son! I could not believe my ears. Slowly I rose and faced the handsome youth. Now
that I looked at him closely I commenced to see why his face and personality had
attracted me so strongly. There was much of his mother's incomparable beauty in his
clear-cut features, but it was strongly masculine beauty, and his grey eyes and the
expression of them were mine.
The boy stood facing me, half hope and half uncertainty in his look.
"Tell me of your mother," I said. "Tell me all you can of the years that I have been
robbed by a relentless fate of her dear companionship."
With a cry of pleasure he sprang toward me and threw his arms about my neck, and for a
brief moment as I held my boy close to me the tears welled to my eyes and I was like to
have choked after the manner of some maudlin fool--but I do not regret it, nor am I
ashamed. A long life has taught me that a man may seem weak where women and
children are concerned and yet be anything but a weakling in the sterner avenues of life.
"Your stature, your manner, the terrible ferocity of your swordsmanship," said the boy,
"are as my mother has described them to me a thousand times--but even with such
evidence I could scarce credit the truth of what seemed so improbable to me, however
much I desired it to be true. Do you know what thing it was that convinced me more than
all the others?"
"What, my boy?" I asked.
"Your first words to me--they were of my mother. None else but the man who loved her
as she has told me my father did would have thought first of her."
"For long years, my son, I can scarce recall a moment that the radiant vision of your
mother's face has not been ever before me. Tell me of her."
"Those who have known her longest say that she has not changed, unless it be to grow
more beautiful--were that possible. Only, when she thinks I am not about to see her, her
face grows very sad, and, oh, so wistful. She thinks ever of you, my father, and all
Helium mourns with her and for her. Her grandfather's people love her. They loved you
also, and fairly worship your memory as the saviour of Barsoom.
"Each year that brings its anniversary of the day that saw you racing across a near dead
world to unlock the secret of that awful portal behind which lay the mighty power of life
for countless millions a great festival is held in your honour; but there are tears mingled
with the thanksgiving--tears of real regret that the author of the happiness is not with
them to share the joy of living he died to give them. Upon all Barsoom there is no greater
name than John Carter."
 
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