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19. CHAPTER XIX : BLACK DESPAIR (continued)
I nodded to one of the soldiers, who left the chamber, returning presently with the things that Xodar had requested. The black kneeled beside the body and, dipping a corner of the cloth in the thoat oil, rubbed for a moment on the dead face before him, Then he turned to me with a smile, pointing to his work. I looked and saw that where Xodar had applied the thoat oil the face was white, as white as mine, and then Xodar seized the black hair of the corpse and with a sudden wrench tore it all away, revealing a hairless pate beneath.
Guardsmen and nobles pressed close about the silent witness upon the marble floor. Many were the exclamations of astonishment and questioning wonder as Xodar's acts confirmed the suspicion which he had held.
"A thern!" whispered Tars Tarkas.
"Worse than that, I fear," replied Xodar. "But let us see."
With that he drew his dagger and cut open a locked pouch which had dangled from the thern's harness, and from it he brought forth a circlet of gold set with a large gem--it was the mate to that which I had taken from Sator Throg.
"He was a Holy Thern," said Xodar. "Fortunate indeed it is for us that he did not escape."
The officer of the guard entered the chamber at this juncture.
"My Prince," he said, "I have to report that this fellow's companion escaped us. I think that it was with the connivance of one or more of the men at the gate. I have ordered them all under arrest."
Xodar handed him the thoat oil and cloth.
"With this you may discover the spy among you," he said.
I at once ordered a secret search within the city, for every Martian noble maintains a secret service of his own.
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