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Previous page Next page navigation 31/31 branch Chapter 31.   The adventure's end
       
Next paragraph     I opened my eyes. Ras Thavas was leaning over me. Beside me lay the body of the hormad, Tor-dur-bar. I know that then the tears came to my eyes, tears of such relief and happiness and joy as I had never experienced before in my life, not so much because I had regained my own body but because now I might lay it at the feet of Janai.
Next paragraph     "Come, my son," said Ras Thavas. "We have been here a long time. The mass is writhing and screaming in the corridor beyond the door. Let us hope that it has not succeeded in recovering the ground that it lost at the other end of the tunnel."
Next paragraph     "Very well," I said, "let us return at once." I stepped from the table and stood again erect upon my own feet. I was just a little stiff, and Ras Thavas noticed it.
Next paragraph     "That will pass in a moment," he said. "You have been dead a long time." And he smiled.
Next paragraph     I stood for a moment looking down upon the uncouth body of Tor-dur-bar. "It served you well," said Ras Thavas.
Next paragraph     "Yes," I assented, "and the best reward that I can offer it is eternal oblivion. We shall leave it here, buried forever in the pits beneath the building where it first felt life. I leave it, Ras Thavas, without a pang of regret."
Next paragraph     "It had great strength, and, from what I understand, a good sword arm," commented the Master Mind of Mars.
Next paragraph     "Yet I still think that I can endure life without it," I said.
Next paragraph     "Vanity, vanity!" exclaimed Ras Thavas. "You, a warrior, would give up enormous strength and an incomparable sword arm for a handsome face."
Next paragraph     I saw that he was laughing at me; but the whole world might laugh if it wished, just as long as I had my own body back again.
Next paragraph     We hastened back through the tunnel, and when we finally emerged onto the islet again, warriors were still fighting back the insistent growth. Four times the detachment had been relieved since we had descended from the Ruzaar. It had been early morning when we arrived, and now the sun was just about to dip below the far horizon, yet to me it seemed but the matter of a few moments since I had descended from the Ruzaar.
Next paragraph     We were quickly hoisted aboard again where we were fairly smothered with congratulations.
Next paragraph     John Carter placed a hand upon my shoulder. "I could not have been more concerned over the fate of a son of mine than I have been over yours," he said.
Next paragraph     That was all that he said, but it meant more to me than volumes spoken by another. Presently he noted my eyes wandering about the deck, and a smile touched his lips. "Where is she?" I asked.
Next paragraph     "She could not stand the strain of waiting," he said, "and she has gone to her cabin to lie down. You had better go and tell her yourself."
Next paragraph     "Thank you, sir," I said; and a few moments later I was knocking at the door of Janai's cabin.
Next paragraph     "Who knocks?" she asked.
Next paragraph     "Vor Daj," I replied, and then without waiting for an invitation I pushed open the door and entered.
Next paragraph     She rose and came toward me, her eyes wide with questioning. "It is really you?" she asked.
Next paragraph     "It is I," I assured her, and I crossed toward her. I wanted to take her in my arms and tell her that I loved her; but she seemed to anticipate what I had in mind, for she stopped me with a gesture.
Next paragraph     "Wait," she said. "Do you realize that I scarcely know Vor Daj?"
Next paragraph     I had not thought of that, but it was true. She knew Tor-dur-bar far better.
Next paragraph     "Answer me one question."
Next paragraph     "What is it?" I asked.
Next paragraph     "How did Teeaytan-ov die?" she demanded.
Next paragraph     It was a strange question. What had that to do with Janai or with me? "Why, he died in the corridor leading to 3-17, struck down by one of the hormad warriors while we were escaping from the Laboratory Building," I replied.
Next paragraph     Her white teeth flashed in a sudden smile. "Now what were you going to say to me when I stopped you?"
Next paragraph     "I was going to tell you that I loved you," I replied, "and ask you if there was any hope that you might return my love."
Next paragraph     "I scarcely knew Vor Daj," she said; "it was Tor-dur-bar that I learned to love; but now I know the truth that for some time I have guessed, and I realize the sacrifice that you were willing to make for me." She came and put her dear arms about my neck, and for the first time I felt the lips of the woman I loved on mine.
Next paragraph     * * * * *
Next paragraph     For ten days the great fleet cruised high above Morbus, dropping bombs upon the city and the island and the great mass that had started to spread out in all directions to engulf a world; nor would John Carter leave until the last vestige of the horror had been entirely exterminated. At last the bows of the great battleships were turned toward Helium; and with only a brief stop at Phundahl to return Pandar to his native city we cruised on toward home, and for Janai and me, a happiness that we had passed together through horrors to achieve.
Next paragraph     As the great towers of the twin cities appeared in the distance, Janai and I were standing together in the bow of the Ruzaar. "I wish you would tell me," I said, "why you asked me that time how Teeaytan-ov died. You knew as well as I."
Next paragraph     "Stupid!" she exclaimed, laughing. "Tor-dur-bar, Pandar, and I were the only survivors of that fight who were with the fleet when we returned to Morbus. Of these three, you could have seen only Tor-dur-bar before you saw me. Therefore, when you answered me correctly, I knew that Tor-dur-bar's brain had been transferred to your skull. That was all that I wanted to know, for it was the brain that gave the character and fineness to Tor-dur-bar that I had learned to love; and I do not care, Vor Daj, whose brain it was originally."
Next paragraph     If you do not care to tell me, I shall never ask; but I suspect that was your own and that you had it transferred to the head of Tor-dur-bar so that you might better protect me from Ay-mad."
Next paragraph     "It is my own brain," I said.
Next paragraph     "Was, you mean," she laughed; "it is mine now."
      THE END
       
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