The Gods of Mars HTML version

Chapter 16. Under Arrest
As Carthoris, Xodar, Tars Tarkas, and I stood gazing at the magnificent vessel which
meant so much to all of us, we saw a second and then a third top the summit of the hills
and glide gracefully after their sister.
Now a score of one-man air scouts were launching from the upper decks of the nearer
vessel, and in a moment more were speeding in long, swift dives to the ground about us.
In another instant we were surrounded by armed sailors, and an officer had stepped
forward to address us, when his eyes fell upon Carthoris. With an exclamation of
surprised pleasure he sprang forward, and, placing his hands upon the boy's shoulder,
called him by name.
"Carthoris, my Prince," he cried, "Kaor! Kaor! Hor Vastus greets the son of Dejah Thoris,
Princess of Helium, and of her husband, John Carter. Where have you been, O my
Prince? All Helium has been plunged in sorrow. Terrible have been the calamities that
have befallen your great-grandsire's mighty nation since the fatal day that saw you leave
our midst."
"Grieve not, my good Hor Vastus," cried Carthoris, "since I bring not back myself alone
to cheer my mother's heart and the hearts of my beloved people, but also one whom all
Barsoom loved best--her greatest warrior and her saviour--John Carter, Prince of
Hor Vastus turned in the direction indicated by Carthoris, and as his eyes fell upon me he
was like to have collapsed from sheer surprise.
"John Carter!" he exclaimed, and then a sudden troubled look came into his eyes. "My
Prince," he started, "where hast thou--" and then he stopped, but I knew the question that
his lips dared not frame. The loyal fellow would not be the one to force from mine a
confession of the terrible truth that I had returned from the bosom of the Iss, the River of
Mystery, back from the shore of the Lost Sea of Korus, and the Valley Dor.
"Ah, my Prince," he continued, as though no thought had interrupted his greeting, "that
you are back is sufficient, and let Hor Vastus' sword have the high honour of being first
at thy feet." With these words the noble fellow unbuckled his scabbard and flung his
sword upon the ground before me.
Could you know the customs and the character of red Martians you would appreciate the
depth of meaning that that simple act conveyed to me and to all about us who witnessed
it. The thing was equivalent to saying, "My sword, my body, my life, my soul are yours
to do with as you wish. Until death and after death I look to you alone for authority for