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white The Barsoom series
  branch Llana of Gathol
    branch The black pirates of Barsoom
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Next paragraph       That night, after Llana had fallen asleep, Jad-han, Pan Dan Chee, and I were conversing in whispers; so as not to disturb her.
Next paragraph       "It is too bad," said Jad-han, who had been looking at the sleeping girl; "it is too bad that she is so beautiful."
Next paragraph       "What do you mean?" asked Pan Dan Chee.
Next paragraph       "This afternoon you asked me what your fate might be; and I told you what the possibilities might be, but those were the possibilities for you two men. For the girl-" He looked sorrowfully at Llana and shook his head; he did not need to say more.
Next paragraph       The next day a number of the First Born came down into our cell to examine us, as one might examine cattle that one purposed buying. Among them was one of the jeddak's officers, upon whom developed the duty of selling prisoners into slavery for the highest amounts he could obtain.
Next paragraph       One of the nobles immediately took a fancy to Llana and made an offer for her.
Next paragraph       They haggled over the price for some time, but in the end the noble got her.
Next paragraph       Pan Dan Chee and I were grief-stricken as they led Llana of Gathol away, for we knew that we should never see her again. Although her father is Jed of Gathol, in her veins flows the blood of Helium; and the women of Helium know how to act when an unkind Providence reserves for them the fate for which we knew Llana of Gathol was intended.
Next paragraph       "Oh! to be chained to a wall and without a sword when a thing like this happens," exclaimed Pan Dan Chee.
Next paragraph       "I know how you feel," I said; "but we are not dead yet, Pan Dan Chee; and our chance may come yet."
Next paragraph       "If it does, we will make them pay," he said.
Next paragraph       Two nobles were bidding for me, and at last I was knocked down to a dator named Xaxak. My fetters were removed, and the jeddak's agent warned me to be a good and docile slave.
Next paragraph       Xaxak had a couple of warriors with him, and they walked on either side of me as we left the pits. I was the object of considerable curiosity, as we made our way toward Xaxak's palace, which stood near that of the jeddak. My white skin and gray eyes always arouse comment in cities where I am not known. Of course, I am bronzed by exposure to the sun, but even so my skin is not the copper red of the red men of Barsoom.
Next paragraph       Before I was to be taken to the slaves' quarters of the palace, Xaxak questioned me. "What is your name?" he asked.
Next paragraph       " Dotar Sojat," I replied. It is the name given me by the green Martians who captured me when I first came to Mars, being the names of the first two green Martians I had killed in duels; and is in the nature of an honorable title. A man with one name, an o-mad, is not considered very highly. I was always glad that they stopped with two names, for had I had to assume the name of every green Martian warrior I had killed in a duel it would have taken an hour to pronounce them all.
Next paragraph       "Did you say dator?" asked Xaxak. "Don't tell me that you are a prince!"
Next paragraph       "I said Dotar," I replied. I hadn't given my real name; because I had reason to believe that it was well known to the First Born, who had good reason to hate me for what I had done to them in the Valley Dor.
Next paragraph       "Where are you from?" he asked.
Next paragraph       "I have no country," I said; "I am a panthan."
Next paragraph       As these soldiers of fortune have no fixed abode, wandering about from city to city offering their services and their swords to whomever will employ them, they are the only men who can go with impunity into almost any Martian city.
Next paragraph       "Oh, a panthan," he said. "I suppose you think you are pretty good with a sword."
Next paragraph       "I have met worse," I replied.
Next paragraph       "If I thought you were any good, I would enter you in the lesser games," he said; but you cost me a lot of money, and I'd hate to take the chance of your being killed."
Next paragraph       "I don't think you need worry about that," I told him.
Next paragraph       "You are pretty sure of yourself," he said. "Well, let's see what you can do. Take him out into the garden," he directed the two warriors. Xaxak followed us out to an open patch of sand.
Next paragraph       "Give him your sword," he said to one of the warriors; and, to the other, "Engage him, Ptang; but not to the death;" then he turned to me. "It is not to the death, slave, you understand. I merely wish to see how good you are. Either one of you may draw blood, but don't kill."
Next paragraph       Ptang, like all the other Black Pirates of Barsoom whom I have met, was an excellent swordsman cool, quick, and deadly. He came toward me with a faint, supercilious smile on his lips.
Next paragraph       "It is scarcely fair, my prince," he said to Xaxak, "to pit him against one of the best swordsmen in Kamtol."
Next paragraph       "That is the only way in which I can tell whether he is any good at all, or not," replied Xaxak. "If he extends you, he will certainly be good enough to enter in the Lesser Games. He might even win his price back for me."
Next paragraph       "We shall see," said Ptang, crossing swords with me.
Next paragraph       Before he realized what was happening, I had pricked him in the shoulder. He looked very much surprised, and the smile left his lips.
Next paragraph       "An accident," he said; "it will not occur again;" and then I pinked him in the other shoulder. Now, he made a fatal mistake; he became angry. While anger may stiffen a man's offense, it weakens his defense. I have seen it happen a thousand times, and when I am anxious to dispatch an antagonist quickly I always try to make him angry.
Next paragraph       "Come, come! Ptang," said Xaxak; "can't you make a better showing than that against a slave?"
Next paragraph       With that, Ptang came for me with blood in his eye, and I didn't see anything there that looked like a desire to pink Ptang was out to kill me.
Next paragraph       " Ptang!" snapped Xaxak; "don't kill him."
Next paragraph       At that, I laughed; and drew blood from Ptang's breast. "Have you no real swordsmen in Kamtol?" I asked, tauntingly.
Next paragraph       Xaxak and his other warrior were very quiet. I caught glimpses of their faces occasionally, and they looked a bit glum. Ptang was furious, and now he came for me like a mad bull with a cut that would have lopped off my head had it connected. However, it didn't connect; and I ran him through the muscles of his left arm.
Next paragraph       "Hadn't we better stop," I asked Xaxak, "before your man bleeds to death?"
Next paragraph       Xaxak did not reply; but I was getting bored with the whole affair and wanted to end it; so I drew Ptang into a lunge and sent his sword flying across the garden.
Next paragraph       "Is that enough now?" I asked.
Next paragraph       Xaxak nodded. "Yes," he said, "that is enough."
Next paragraph       Ptang was one of the most surprised and crestfallen men I have ever seen. He just stood there staring at me, making no move to retrieve his blade. I felt very sorry for him.
Next paragraph       "You have nothing to be ashamed of, Ptang," I told him. "You are a splendid swordsman, but what I did to you I can do to any man in Kamtol."
Next paragraph       "I believe it," he said. "You may be a slave, but I am proud to have crossed swords with you. The world has never seen a better swordsman."
        "I am convinced of that," said Xaxak, "and I can see where you are going to make a lot of money for me, Dotar Sojat."