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Previous page Next page navigation 14/14 branch Chapter 14.   Adventure's end
       
Next paragraph     Once again the earthman repeated his command to Joog the giant. Now the snarl faded from his lips and from the brute's chest came a sound not unlike a sigh as he rose to his feet once again.
Next paragraph     Turning slowly, Joog ambled off across the plain toward Korvas.
Next paragraph     It was not until ten minutes later after the Heliumite soldiers had stormed from their city and surrounded the earthman and their princess that John Carter, holding Dejah Thoris tightly in his arms, saw Joog's head disappear over the mountains in the distance.
Next paragraph     "Why did you let him go, John Carter?" asked Tars Tarkas, as he wiped the blood from his blade on the hide of his sweating thoat.
Next paragraph     "Yes, why," repeated Kantos Kan, "when you had him in your power?"
Next paragraph     John Carter turned and surveyed the battlefield. "All the death and destruction that has been caused here today was due not to Joog but to Pew Mogel," replied John Carter.
Next paragraph     "Joog is harmless, now that his evil master is dead. Why add his death to all those others, even if we could have killed him which I doubt?"
Next paragraph     Kantos Kan was watching the rats disappear into the far mountains in pursuit of the great, lumbering apes.
Next paragraph     "Tell me, John Carter," finally he said, a queer expression on his face, "how did you manage to capture those vicious rats, load them into those troop ships and even strap parachutes on them?"
Next paragraph     John Carter smiled. "It was really simple," he said. "I had noticed in Korvas, when I was a prisoner in their underground city, that there was only one means of entrance to the cavern in which the rats live-a single tunnel that continued back for some distance before it branched, although there were openings in the ceiling far above; but they were out of reach.
Next paragraph     "I led my men down into that tunnel and we built a huge smoke fire with debris from the ground above. The natural draft carried the smoke into the cavern.
Next paragraph     "The place became so filled with smoke that the rats passed out by the scores from lack of oxygen, for they couldn't get by the fire in the tunnel-their only means of escape. Later, we simply went in and dragged out as many as we needed to load into our troop ships."
Next paragraph     "But the parachutes!" exclaimed Kantos Kan. "How did you manage to get those on their backs or keep them from tearing them off when the creatures finally became conscious?"
Next paragraph     "They did not regain consciousness until the last minute," replied the earthman. "We kept the inside cabin of each troop ship filled with enough smoke to keep the rats unconscious all the way to Helium. We had plenty of time to attach the parachutes to their backs. The rats came to in midair after my men shoved them out of the ships."
Next paragraph     John Carter nodded toward the disappearing creatures in the mountains. "They were very much alive and fighting mad when they hit the ground, as you saw," added the earthman. "They simply stepped out of their parachute harnesses when they landed, and leaped for anyone in sight.
Next paragraph     "As for the malagors," he concluded, "they are birds-and birds on both earth and Mars have no love for snakes or rats. I knew those malagors would prefer other surroundings when they saw and smelled their natural enemies in the air around them!"
Next paragraph     Dejah Thoris looked up at her chieftain and smiled. "Was there ever such a man before?" she asked. "Could it be that all earthman are like you?"
Next paragraph     That night all Helium celebrated its victory. The streets of the city surged with laughing people. The mighty, green warriors of Thark mingled in common brotherhood with the fighting legions of Helium.
Next paragraph     In the royal palace was staged a great feast in honor of John Carter's service to Helium.
Next paragraph     Old Tardos Mors, the jeddak, was so choked with feeling at the miraculous delivery of his city from the hands of their enemy and the safe return of his granddaughter that he was unable to speak for some time when he arose at the dining table to offer the kingdom's thanks to the earthman.
Next paragraph     But when he finally spoke, his words were couched with the simple dignity of a great ruler. The intense gratitude of these people deeply touched the earthman's heart.
Next paragraph     Later that night, John Carter and Dejah Thoris stood alone on a balcony overlooking the royal gardens.
Next paragraph     The moons of Mars circled majestically across the heavens, causing the shadows of the distant mountains to roll and tumble in an ever-changing fantasy over the plain and the forest.
Next paragraph     Even the shadows of the two people on the royal balcony slowly merged into one.
      THE END
       
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