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The Gods of Mars

Chapter 3. The Chamber Of Mystery
For moments after that awful laugh had ceased reverberating through the rocky room,
Tars Tarkas and I stood in tense and expectant silence. But no further sound broke the
stillness, nor within the range of our vision did aught move.
At length Tars Tarkas laughed softly, after the manner of his strange kind when in the
presence of the horrible or terrifying. It is not an hysterical laugh, but rather the genuine
expression of the pleasure they derive from the things that move Earth men to loathing or
to tears.
Often and again have I seen them roll upon the ground in mad fits of uncontrollable mirth
when witnessing the death agonies of women and little children beneath the torture of
that hellish green Martian fete--the Great Games.
I looked up at the Thark, a smile upon my own lips, for here in truth was greater need for
a smiling face than a trembling chin.
"What do you make of it all?" I asked. "Where in the deuce are we?"
He looked at me in surprise.
"Where are we?" he repeated. "Do you tell me, John Carter, that you know not where you
be?"
"That I am upon Barsoom is all that I can guess, and but for you and the great white apes
I should not even guess that, for the sights I have seen this day are as unlike the things of
my beloved Barsoom as I knew it ten long years ago as they are unlike the world of my
birth.
"No, Tars Tarkas, I know not where we be."
"Where have you been since you opened the mighty portals of the atmosphere plant years
ago, after the keeper had died and the engines stopped and all Barsoom was dying, that
had not already died, of asphyxiation? Your body even was never found, though the men
of a whole world sought after it for years, though the Jeddak of Helium and his
granddaughter, your princess, offered such fabulous rewards that even princes of royal
blood joined in the search.
"There was but one conclusion to reach when all efforts to locate you had failed, and that,
that you had taken the long, last pilgrimage down the mysterious River Iss, to await in the
Valley Dor upon the shores of the Lost Sea of Korus the beautiful Dejah Thoris, your
princess.
"Why you had gone none could guess, for your princess still lived--"
 
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