A Princess of Mars
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
CHAPTER I. ON THE ARIZONA HILLS
I am a very old man; how old I do not know. Possibly I am
a hundred, possibly more; but I cannot tell because I have
never aged as other men, nor do I remember any childhood.
So far as I can recollect I have always been a man, a man
of about thirty. I appear today as I did forty years and
more ago, and yet I feel that I cannot go on living forever;
that some day I shall die the real death from which there is
no resurrection. I do not know why I should fear death,
I who have died twice and am still alive; but yet I have the
same horror of it as you who have never died, and it is
because of this terror of death, I believe, that I am so
convinced of my mortality.
And because of this conviction I have determined to write
down the story of the interesting periods of my life and of
my death. I cannot explain the phenomena;I can only set
down here in the words of an ordinary soldier of fortune a
chronicle of the strange events that befell me during the ten
years that my dead body lay undiscovered in an Arizona
I have never told this story, nor shall mortal man see this
manuscript until after I have passed over for eternity. I know
that the average human mind will not believe what it cannot
grasp, and so I do not purpose being pilloried by the public,
the pulpit, and the press, and held up as a colossal
liar when I am but telling the simple truths which some day
science will substantiate. Possibly the suggestions which I
gained upon Mars, and the knowledge which I can set down
in this chronicle, will aid in an earlier understanding of the
mysteries of our sister planet; mysteries to you, but no
longer mysteries to me.
My name is John Carter; I am better known as Captain Jack
Carter of Virginia. At the close of the Civil War I found
myself possessed of several hundred thousand dollars
(Confederate) and a captain's commission in the cavalry arm
of an army which no longer existed; the servant of a state
which had vanished with the hopes of the South. Masterless,
penniless, and with my only means of livelihood, fighting,
gone, I determined to work my way to the southwest and
attempt to retrieve my fallen fortunes in a search for gold.
I spent nearly a year prospecting in company with another
Confederate officer, Captain James K. Powell of Richmond.
We were extremely fortunate, for late in the winter of
1865, after many hardships and privations, we located the
most remarkable gold-bearing quartz vein that our wildest
dreams had ever pictured. Powell, who was a mining engineer
by education, stated that we had uncovered over a million
dollars worth of ore in a trifle over three months.
As our equipment was crude in the extreme we decided
that one of us must return to civilization, purchase the
necessary machinery and return with a sufficient force of
men properly to work the mine.
As Powell was familiar with the country, as well as with
the mechanical requirements of mining we determined that
it would be best for him to make the trip. It was agreed that
I was to hold down our claim against the remote possibility
of its being jumped by some wandering prospector.
On March 3, 1866, Powell and I packed his provisions on
two of our burros, and bidding me good-bye he mounted
his horse, and started down the mountainside toward the
valley, across which led the first stage of his journey.
The morning of Powell's departure was, like nearly
all Arizona mornings, clear and beautiful; I could see
him and his little pack animals picking their way down the
mountainside toward the valley, and all during the morning I
would catch occasional glimpses of them as they topped a hog
back or came out upon a level plateau. My last sight of
Powell was about three in the afternoon as he entered the
shadows of the range on the opposite side of the valley.
Some half hour later I happened to glance casually across
the valley and was much surprised to note three little dots
in about the same place I had last seen my friend and his
two pack animals. I am not given to needless worrying, but
the more I tried to convince myself that all was well with
Powell, and that the dots I had seen on his trail were
antelope or wild horses, the less I was able to assure myself.
Since we had entered the territory we had not seen a
hostile Indian, and we had, therefore, become careless in the
extreme, and were wont to ridicule the stories we had
heard of the great numbers of these vicious marauders that
were supposed to haunt the trails, taking their toll in lives
and torture of every white party which fell into their
Powell, I knew, was well armed and, further, an
experienced Indian fighter; but I too had lived and fought
for years among the Sioux in the North, and I knew that his
chances were small against a party of cunning trailing
Apaches. Finally I could endure the suspense no longer,
and, arming myself with my two Colt revolvers and a
carbine, I strapped two belts of cartridges about me and
catching my saddle horse, started down the trail taken by
Powell in the morning.
As soon as I reached comparatively level ground I urged
my mount into a canter and continued this, where the going
permitted, until, close upon dusk, I discovered the point
where other tracks joined those of Powell. They were the
tracks of unshod ponies, three of them, and the ponies had
I followed rapidly until, darkness shutting down, I was
forced to await the rising of the moon, and given an opportunity
to speculate on the question of the wisdom of my chase.
Possibly I had conjured up impossible dangers, like
some nervous old housewife, and when I should catch up
with Powell would get a good laugh for my pains.
However, I am not prone to sensitiveness, and the following
of a sense of duty, wherever it may lead, has always been a
kind of fetich with me throughout my life; which may account
for the honors bestowed upon me by three republics and the
decorations and friendships of an old and powerful emperor
and several lesser kings, in whose service my sword has
been red many a time.
About nine o'clock the moon was sufficiently bright for
me to proceed on my way and I had no difficulty in following
the trail at a fast walk, and in some places at a brisk
trot until, about midnight, I reached the water hole where
Powell had expected to camp. I came upon the spot unexpectedly,
finding it entirely deserted, with no signs of having been
recently occupied as a camp.
I was interested to note that the tracks of the pursuing
horsemen, for such I was now convinced they must be, continued
after Powell with only a brief stop at the hole for water;
and always at the same rate of speed as his.
I was positive now that the trailers were Apaches and that
they wished to capture Powell alive for the fiendish pleasure
of the torture, so I urged my horse onward at a most
dangerous pace, hoping against hope that I would catch up
with the red rascals before they attacked him.
Further speculation was suddenly cut short by the faint
report of two shots far ahead of me. I knew that Powell
would need me now if ever, and I instantly urged my
horse to his topmost speed up the narrow and difficult
I had forged ahead for perhaps a mile or more without
hearing further sounds, when the trail suddenly debouched
onto a small, open plateau near the summit of the pass. I
had passed through a narrow, overhanging gorge just before
entering suddenly upon this table land, and the sight which
met my eyes filled me with consternation and dismay.
The little stretch of level land was white with Indian
tepees, and there were probably half a thousand red warriors
clustered around some object near the center of the camp.
Their attention was so wholly riveted to this point of interest
that they did not notice me, and I easily could have
turned back into the dark recesses of the gorge and made
my escape with perfect safety. The fact, however, that this
thought did not occur to me until the following day removes
any possible right to a claim to heroism to which the narration
of this episode might possibly otherwise entitle me.
I do not believe that I am made of the stuff which
constitutes heroes, because, in all of the hundreds of instances
that my voluntary acts have placed me face to face with
death, I cannot recall a single one where any alternative
step to that I took occurred to me until many hours later.
My mind is evidently so constituted that I am subconsciously
forced into the path of duty without recourse to tiresome
mental processes. However that may be, I have never regretted
that cowardice is not optional with me.
In this instance I was, of course, positive that Powell was
the center of attraction, but whether I thought or acted first
I do not know, but within an instant from the moment the
scene broke upon my view I had whipped out my revolvers
and was charging down upon the entire army of warriors,
shooting rapidly, and whooping at the top of my lungs.
Singlehanded, I could not have pursued better tactics, for
the red men, convinced by sudden surprise that not less
than a regiment of regulars was upon them, turned and fled
in every direction for their bows, arrows, and rifles.
The view which their hurried routing disclosed filled me
with apprehension and with rage. Under the clear rays of the
Arizona moon lay Powell, his body fairly bristling with the
hostile arrows of the braves. That he was already dead I
could not but be convinced, and yet I would have saved his
body from mutilation at the hands of the Apaches as
quickly as I would have saved the man himself from death.
Riding close to him I reached down from the saddle,
and grasping his cartridge belt drew him up across the withers
of my mount. A backward glance convinced me that to
return by the way I had come would be more hazardous
than to continue across the plateau, so, putting spurs to my
poor beast, I made a dash for the opening to the pass which
I could distinguish on the far side of the table land.
The Indians had by this time discovered that I was alone
and I was pursued with imprecations, arrows, and rifle balls.
The fact that it is difficult to aim anything but imprecations
accurately by moonlight, that they were upset by the sudden
and unexpected manner of my advent, and that I was a
rather rapidly moving target saved me from the various
deadly projectiles of the enemy and permitted me to reach
the shadows of the surrounding peaks before an orderly
pursuit could be organized.
My horse was traveling practically unguided as I knew
that I had probably less knowledge of the exact location of
the trail to the pass than he, and thus it happened that he
entered a defile which led to the summit of the range and not
to the pass which I had hoped would carry me to the
valley and to safety. It is probable, however, that to this
fact I owe my life and the remarkable experiences and
adventures which befell me during the following ten years.
My first knowledge that I was on the wrong trail came
when I heard the yells of the pursuing savages suddenly
grow fainter and fainter far off to my left.
I knew then that they had passed to the left of the jagged
rock formation at the edge of the plateau, to the right of
which my horse had borne me and the body of Powell.
I drew rein on a little level promontory overlooking the
trail below and to my left, and saw the party of pursuing
savages disappearing around the point of a neighboring peak.
I knew the Indians would soon discover that they were
on the wrong trail and that the search for me would be renewed
in the right direction as soon as they located my tracks.
I had gone but a short distance further when what
seemed to be an excellent trail opened up around the face of
a high cliff. The trail was level and quite broad and led upward
and in the general direction I wished to go. The cliff
arose for several hundred feet on my right, and on my left
was an equal and nearly perpendicular drop to the bottom
of a rocky ravine.
I had followed this trail for perhaps a hundred yards
when a sharp turn to the right brought me to the mouth of
a large cave. The opening was about four feet in height and
three to four feet wide, and at this opening the trail ended.
It was now morning, and, with the customary lack of dawn
which is a startling characteristic of Arizona, it had become
daylight almost without warning.
Dismounting, I laid Powell upon the ground, but the most
painstaking examination failed to reveal the faintest spark
of life. I forced water from my canteen between his dead
lips, bathed his face and rubbed his hands, working over him
continuously for the better part of an hour in the face of
the fact that I knew him to be dead.
I was very fond of Powell; he was thoroughly a man in
every respect; a polished southern gentleman; a staunch and
true friend; and it was with a feeling of the deepest grief that
I finally gave up my crude endeavors at resuscitation.
Leaving Powell's body where it lay on the ledge I crept
into the cave to reconnoiter. I found a large chamber,
possibly a hundred feet in diameter and thirty or forty feet
in height; a smooth and well-worn floor, and many other
evidences that the cave had, at some remote period, been inhabited.
The back of the cave was so lost in dense shadow that I could not
distinguish whether there were openings into other apartments or not.
As I was continuing my examination I commenced to feel
a pleasant drowsiness creeping over me which I attributed
to the fatigue of my long and strenuous ride, and the reaction
from the excitement of the fight and the pursuit. I felt
comparatively safe in my present location as I knew that
one man could defend the trail to the cave against an army.
I soon became so drowsy that I could scarcely resist the
strong desire to throw myself on the floor of the cave for
a few moments' rest, but I knew that this would never do, as
it would mean certain death at the hands of my red friends,
who might be upon me at any moment. With an effort I
started toward the opening of the cave only to reel drunkenly
against a side wall, and from there slip prone upon the floor.
CHAPTER II. THE ESCAPE OF THE DEAD
A sense of delicious dreaminess overcame me, my muscles
relaxed, and I was on the point of giving way to my desire
to sleep when the sound of approaching horses reached my
ears. I attempted to spring to my feet but was horrified to
discover that my muscles refused to respond to my will. I was
now thoroughly awake, but as unable to move a muscle as
though turned to stone. It was then, for the first time, that I
noticed a slight vapor filling the cave. It was extremely
tenuous and only noticeable against the opening which led to
daylight. There also came to my nostrils a faintly pungent
odor, and I could only assume that I had been overcome by
some poisonous gas, but why I should retain my mental
faculties and yet be unable to move I could not fathom.
I lay facing the opening of the cave and where I could see
the short stretch of trail which lay between the cave and the
turn of the cliff around which the trail led. The noise of the
approaching horses had ceased, and I judged the Indians were
creeping stealthily upon me along the little ledge which led to
my living tomb. I remember that I hoped they would make
short work of me as I did not particularly relish the thought
of the innumerable things they might do to me if the spirit
I had not long to wait before a stealthy sound apprised me
of their nearness, and then a war-bonneted, paint-streaked
face was thrust cautiously around the shoulder of the cliff, and
savage eyes looked into mine. That he could see me in the
dim light of the cave I was sure for the early morning sun was
falling full upon me through the opening.
The fellow, instead of approaching, merely stood and stared;
his eyes bulging and his jaw dropped. And then another
savage face appeared, and a third and fourth and fifth, craning
their necks over the shoulders of their fellows whom they
could not pass upon the narrow ledge. Each face was the
picture of awe and fear, but for what reason I did not know,
nor did I learn until ten years later. That there were still
other braves behind those who regarded me was apparent from
the fact that the leaders passed back whispered word to those
Suddenly a low but distinct moaning sound issued from the
recesses of the cave behind me, and, as it reached the ears of
the Indians, they turned and fled in terror, panic-stricken. So
frantic were their efforts to escape from the unseen thing
behind me that one of the braves was hurled headlong from
the cliff to the rocks below. Their wild cries echoed in the
canyon for a short time, and then all was still once more.
The sound which had frightened them was not repeated, but
it had been sufficient as it was to start me speculating on the
possible horror which lurked in the shadows at my back. Fear
is a relative term and so I can only measure my feelings at
that time by what I had experienced in previous positions of
danger and by those that I have passed through since; but I can
say without shame that if the sensations I endured during the
next few minutes were fear, then may God help the coward,
for cowardice is of a surety its own punishment.
To be held paralyzed, with one's back toward some horrible
and unknown danger from the very sound of which the
ferocious Apache warriors turn in wild stampede, as a flock of
sheep would madly flee from a pack of wolves, seems to me
the last word in fearsome predicaments for a man who had
ever been used to fighting for his life with all the energy of a
Several times I thought I heard faint sounds behind me as
of somebody moving cautiously, but eventually even these
ceased, and I was left to the contemplation of my position
without interruption. I could but vaguely conjecture the cause
of my paralysis, and my only hope lay in that it might pass off
as suddenly as it had fallen upon me.
Late in the afternoon my horse, which had been standing
with dragging rein before the cave, started slowly down the
trail, evidently in search of food and water, and I was left
alone with my mysterious unknown companion and the dead
body of my friend, which lay just within my range of vision
upon the ledge where I had placed it in the early morning.
From then until possibly midnight all was silence, the
silence of the dead; then, suddenly, the awful moan of the
morning broke upon my startled ears, and there came again
from the black shadows the sound of a moving thing, and a
faint rustling as of dead leaves. The shock to my already
overstrained nervous system was terrible in the extreme, and
with a superhuman effort I strove to break my awful bonds.
It was an effort of the mind, of the will, of the nerves; not
muscular, for I could not move even so much as my little
finger, but none the less mighty for all that. And then
something gave, there was a momentary feeling of nausea, a sharp
click as of the snapping of a steel wire, and I stood with my
back against the wall of the cave facing my unknown foe.
And then the moonlight flooded the cave, and there before
me lay my own body as it had been lying all these hours,
with the eyes staring toward the open ledge and the hands
resting limply upon the ground. I looked first at my lifeless
clay there upon the floor of the cave and then down at myself
in utter bewilderment; for there I lay clothed, and yet here I
stood but naked as at the minute of my birth.
The transition had been so sudden and so unexpected that
it left me for a moment forgetful of aught else than my
strange metamorphosis. My first thought was, is this then
death! Have I indeed passed over forever into that other life!
But I could not well believe this, as I could feel my heart
pounding against my ribs from the exertion of my efforts to
release myself from the anaesthesis which had held me. My
breath was coming in quick, short gasps, cold sweat stood out
from every pore of my body, and the ancient experiment of
pinching revealed the fact that I was anything other than a
Again was I suddenly recalled to my immediate surroundings
by a repetition of the weird moan from the depths of the
cave. Naked and unarmed as I was, I had no desire to face
the unseen thing which menaced me.
My revolvers were strapped to my lifeless body which, for
some unfathomable reason, I could not bring myself to touch.
My carbine was in its boot, strapped to my saddle, and as my
horse had wandered off I was left without means of defense.
My only alternative seemed to lie in flight and my decision
was crystallized by a recurrence of the rustling sound from
the thing which now seemed, in the darkness of the cave and
to my distorted imagination, to be creeping stealthily upon me.
Unable longer to resist the temptation to escape this horrible
place I leaped quickly through the opening into the starlight
of a clear Arizona night. The crisp, fresh mountain air
outside the cave acted as an immediate tonic and I felt new
life and new courage coursing through me. Pausing upon the
brink of the ledge I upbraided myself for what now seemed
to me wholly unwarranted apprehension. I reasoned with
myself that I had lain helpless for many hours within the
cave, yet nothing had molested me, and my better judgment,
when permitted the direction of clear and logical reasoning,
convinced me that the noises I had heard must have resulted
from purely natural and harmless causes; probably the
conformation of the cave was such that a slight breeze had
caused the sounds I heard.
I decided to investigate, but first I lifted my head to fill my
lungs with the pure, invigorating night air of the mountains.
As I did so I saw stretching far below me the beautiful vista
of rocky gorge, and level, cacti-studded flat, wrought by the
moonlight into a miracle of soft splendor and wondrous enchantment.
Few western wonders are more inspiring than the beauties
of an Arizona moonlit landscape; the silvered mountains in
the distance, the strange lights and shadows upon hog back
and arroyo, and the grotesque details of the stiff, yet beautiful
cacti form a picture at once enchanting and inspiring; as
though one were catching for the first time a glimpse of some
dead and forgotten world, so different is it from the aspect of
any other spot upon our earth.
As I stood thus meditating, I turned my gaze from the
landscape to the heavens where the myriad stars formed a
gorgeous and fitting canopy for the wonders of the earthly
scene. My attention was quickly riveted by a large red star
close to the distant horizon. As I gazed upon it I felt a spell
of overpowering fascination--it was Mars, the god of war,
and for me, the fighting man, it had always held the power of
irresistible enchantment. As I gazed at it on that far-gone
night it seemed to call across the unthinkable void, to lure me
to it, to draw me as the lodestone attracts a particle of iron.
My longing was beyond the power of opposition; I closed
my eyes, stretched out my arms toward the god of my vocation
and felt myself drawn with the suddenness of thought through
the trackless immensity of space. There was an instant of
extreme cold and utter darkness.
CHAPTER III. MY ADVENT ON MARS
I opened my eyes upon a strange and weird landscape. I
knew that I was on Mars; not once did I question either my
sanity or my wakefulness. I was not asleep, no need for pinching
here; my inner consciousness told me as plainly that I was
upon Mars as your conscious mind tells you that you are upon
Earth. You do not question the fact; neither did I.
I found myself lying prone upon a bed of yellowish,
mosslike vegetation which stretched around me in all directions
for interminable miles. I seemed to be lying in a deep, circular
basin, along the outer verge of which I could distinguish the
irregularities of low hills.
It was midday, the sun was shining full upon me and the
heat of it was rather intense upon my naked body, yet no
greater than would have been true under similar conditions on
an Arizona desert. Here and there were slight outcroppings
of quartz-bearing rock which glistened in the sunlight; and
a little to my left, perhaps a hundred yards, appeared a low,
walled enclosure about four feet in height. No water, and
no other vegetation than the moss was in evidence, and as I
was somewhat thirsty I determined to do a little exploring.
Springing to my feet I received my first Martian surprise,
for the effort, which on Earth would have brought me standing
upright, carried me into the Martian air to the height of about
three yards. I alighted softly upon the ground, however, without
appreciable shock or jar. Now commenced a series of
evolutions which even then seemed ludicrous in the extreme.
I found that I must learn to walk all over again, as the muscular
exertion which carried me easily and safely upon Earth played
strange antics with me upon Mars.
Instead of progressing in a sane and dignified manner, my
attempts to walk resulted in a variety of hops which took me
clear of the ground a couple of feet at each step and landed
me sprawling upon my face or back at the end of each second
or third hop. My muscles, perfectly attuned and accustomed
to the force of gravity on Earth, played the mischief with me
in attempting for the first time to cope with the lesser gravitation
and lower air pressure on Mars.
I was determined, however, to explore the low structure
which was the only evidence of habitation in sight, and so I
hit upon the unique plan of reverting to first principles in
locomotion, creeping. I did fairly well at this and in a few
moments had reached the low, encircling wall of the enclosure.
There appeared to be no doors or windows upon the side
nearest me, but as the wall was but about four feet high I
cautiously gained my feet and peered over the top upon the
strangest sight it had ever been given me to see.
The roof of the enclosure was of solid glass about four or
five inches in thickness, and beneath this were several hundred
large eggs, perfectly round and snowy white. The eggs were
nearly uniform in size being about two and one-half feet in
Five or six had already hatched and the grotesque caricatures
which sat blinking in the sunlight were enough to cause
me to doubt my sanity. They seemed mostly head, with little
scrawny bodies, long necks and six legs, or, as I afterward
learned, two legs and two arms, with an intermediary pair of
limbs which could be used at will either as arms or legs. Their
eyes were set at the extreme sides of their heads a trifle above
the center and protruded in such a manner that they could
be directed either forward or back and also independently of
each other, thus permitting this queer animal to look in any
direction, or in two directions at once, without the necessity
of turning the head.
The ears, which were slightly above the eyes and closer together,
were small, cup-shaped antennae, protruding not more than an inch on
these young specimens. Their noses were but longitudinal slits in
the center of their faces, midway between their mouths and ears.
There was no hair on their bodies, which were of a very
light yellowish-green color. In the adults, as I was to learn
quite soon, this color deepens to an olive green and is darker
in the male than in the female. Further, the heads of the
adults are not so out of proportion to their bodies as in the
case of the young.
The iris of the eyes is blood red, as in Albinos, while the
pupil is dark. The eyeball itself is very white, as are the teeth.
These latter add a most ferocious appearance to an otherwise
fearsome and terrible countenance, as the lower tusks
curve upward to sharp points which end about where the eyes
of earthly human beings are located. The whiteness of the
teeth is not that of ivory, but of the snowiest and most gleaming
of china. Against the dark background of their olive
skins their tusks stand out in a most striking manner, making
these weapons present a singularly formidable appearance.
Most of these details I noted later, for I was given but little
time to speculate on the wonders of my new discovery. I had
seen that the eggs were in the process of hatching, and as I
stood watching the hideous little monsters break from their
shells I failed to note the approach of a score of full-grown
Martians from behind me.
Coming, as they did, over the soft and soundless moss,
which covers practically the entire surface of Mars with the
exception of the frozen areas at the poles and the scattered
cultivated districts, they might have captured me easily, but
their intentions were far more sinister. It was the rattling of
the accouterments of the foremost warrior which warned me.
On such a little thing my life hung that I often marvel that
I escaped so easily. Had not the rifle of the leader of the
party swung from its fastenings beside his saddle in such a
way as to strike against the butt of his great metal shod spear
I should have snuffed out without ever knowing that death was
near me. But the little sound caused me to turn, and there
upon me, not ten feet from my breast, was the point of that
huge spear, a spear forty feet long, tipped with gleaming
metal, and held low at the side of a mounted replica of the
little devils I had been watching.
But how puny and harmless they now looked beside this
huge and terrific incarnation of hate, of vengeance and of
death. The man himself, for such I may call him, was fully
fifteen feet in height and, on Earth, would have weighed some
four hundred pounds. He sat his mount as we sit a horse,
grasping the animal's barrel with his lower limbs, while the
hands of his two right arms held his immense spear low at the
side of his mount; his two left arms were outstretched laterally
to help preserve his balance, the thing he rode having neither
bridle or reins of any description for guidance.
And his mount! How can earthly words describe it! It
towered ten feet at the shoulder; had four legs on either
side; a broad flat tail, larger at the tip than at the root, and
which it held straight out behind while running; a gaping
mouth which split its head from its snout to its long, massive
Like its master, it was entirely devoid of hair, but was of a
dark slate color and exceeding smooth and glossy. Its belly
was white, and its legs shaded from the slate of its shoulders
and hips to a vivid yellow at the feet. The feet themselves were
heavily padded and nailless, which fact had also contributed
to the noiselessness of their approach, and, in common
with a multiplicity of legs, is a characteristic feature of the
fauna of Mars. The highest type of man and one other animal,
the only mammal existing on Mars, alone have well-formed
nails, and there are absolutely no hoofed animals in existence
Behind this first charging demon trailed nineteen others,
similar in all respects, but, as I learned later, bearing
individual characteristics peculiar to themselves; precisely as
no two of us are identical although we are all cast in a similar
mold. This picture, or rather materialized nightmare, which
I have described at length, made but one terrible and swift
impression on me as I turned to meet it.
Unarmed and naked as I was, the first law of nature manifested
itself in the only possible solution of my immediate problem,
and that was to get out of the vicinity of the point of
the charging spear. Consequently I gave a very earthly and at
the same time superhuman leap to reach the top of the
Martian incubator, for such I had determined it must be.
My effort was crowned with a success which appalled me
no less than it seemed to surprise the Martian warriors, for it
carried me fully thirty feet into the air and landed me a
hundred feet from my pursuers and on the opposite side of
I alighted upon the soft moss easily and without mishap,
and turning saw my enemies lined up along the further wall.
Some were surveying me with expressions which I afterward
discovered marked extreme astonishment, and the others were
evidently satisfying themselves that I had not molested their
They were conversing together in low tones, and
gesticulating and pointing toward me. Their discovery that I had
not harmed the little Martians, and that I was unarmed, must have
caused them to look upon me with less ferocity; but, as I was
to learn later, the thing which weighed most in my favor was
my exhibition of hurdling.
While the Martians are immense, their bones are very large
and they are muscled only in proportion to the gravitation
which they must overcome. The result is that they are infinitely
less agile and less powerful, in proportion to their weight,
than an Earth man, and I doubt that were one of them suddenly
to be transported to Earth he could lift his own weight from
the ground; in fact, I am convinced that he could not do so.
My feat then was as marvelous upon Mars as it would have
been upon Earth, and from desiring to annihilate me they
suddenly looked upon me as a wonderful discovery to be
captured and exhibited among their fellows.
The respite my unexpected agility had given me permitted
me to formulate plans for the immediate future and to note
more closely the appearance of the warriors, for I could not
disassociate these people in my mind from those other
warriors who, only the day before, had been pursuing me.
I noted that each was armed with several other weapons in
addition to the huge spear which I have described. The
weapon which caused me to decide against an attempt at
escape by flight was what was evidently a rifle of some
description, and which I felt, for some reason, they were
peculiarly efficient in handling.
These rifles were of a white metal stocked with wood, which
I learned later was a very light and intensely hard growth
much prized on Mars, and entirely unknown to us denizens
of Earth. The metal of the barrel is an alloy composed
principally of aluminum and steel which they have learned
to temper to a hardness far exceeding that of the steel with
which we are familiar. The weight of these rifles is comparatively
little, and with the small caliber, explosive, radium projectiles
which they use, and the great length of the barrel, they are
deadly in the extreme and at ranges which would be unthinkable
on Earth. The theoretic effective radius of this rifle is
three hundred miles, but the best they can do in actual
service when equipped with their wireless finders and
sighters is but a trifle over two hundred miles.
This is quite far enough to imbue me with great respect for
the Martian firearm, and some telepathic force must have
warned me against an attempt to escape in broad daylight
from under the muzzles of twenty of these death-dealing
The Martians, after conversing for a short time, turned and
rode away in the direction from which they had come, leaving
one of their number alone by the enclosure. When they had
covered perhaps two hundred yards they halted, and turning
their mounts toward us sat watching the warrior by the
He was the one whose spear had so nearly transfixed me,
and was evidently the leader of the band, as I had noted that
they seemed to have moved to their present position at his
direction. When his force had come to a halt he dismounted,
threw down his spear and small arms, and came around the
end of the incubator toward me, entirely unarmed and as
naked as I, except for the ornaments strapped upon his head,
limbs, and breast.
When he was within about fifty feet of me he unclasped an
enormous metal armlet, and holding it toward me in the
open palm of his hand, addressed me in a clear, resonant
voice, but in a language, it is needless to say, I could not
understand. He then stopped as though waiting for my reply,
pricking up his antennae-like ears and cocking his strange-looking
eyes still further toward me.
As the silence became painful I concluded to hazard a little
conversation on my own part, as I had guessed that he was
making overtures of peace. The throwing down of his weapons
and the withdrawing of his troop before his advance toward
me would have signified a peaceful mission anywhere on
Earth, so why not, then, on Mars!
Placing my hand over my heart I bowed low to the Martian
and explained to him that while I did not understand his
language, his actions spoke for the peace and friendship that
at the present moment were most dear to my heart. Of course
I might have been a babbling brook for all the intelligence
my speech carried to him, but he understood the action with
which I immediately followed my words.
Stretching my hand toward him, I advanced and took the
armlet from his open palm, clasping it about my arm above the
elbow; smiled at him and stood waiting. His wide mouth
spread into an answering smile, and locking one of his
intermediary arms in mine we turned and walked back toward
his mount. At the same time he motioned his followers to
advance. They started toward us on a wild run, but were checked
by a signal from him. Evidently he feared that were I to be
really frightened again I might jump entirely out of the landscape.
He exchanged a few words with his men, motioned to me
that I would ride behind one of them, and then mounted his
own animal. The fellow designated reached down two or
three hands and lifted me up behind him on the glossy
back of his mount, where I hung on as best I could by the
belts and straps which held the Martian's weapons and ornaments.
The entire cavalcade then turned and galloped away toward
the range of hills in the distance.
CHAPTER IV. A PRISONER
We had gone perhaps ten miles when the ground began to
rise very rapidly. We were, as I was later to learn, nearing the
edge of one of Mars' long-dead seas, in the bottom of which
my encounter with the Martians had taken place.
In a short time we gained the foot of the mountains, and
after traversing a narrow gorge came to an open valley, at the
far extremity of which was a low table land upon which I
beheld an enormous city. Toward this we galloped, entering it
by what appeared to be a ruined roadway leading out from the
city, but only to the edge of the table land, where it ended
abruptly in a flight of broad steps.
Upon closer observation I saw as we passed them that the
buildings were deserted, and while not greatly decayed had
the appearance of not having been tenanted for years, possibly
for ages. Toward the center of the city was a large plaza, and
upon this and in the buildings immediately surrounding it
were camped some nine or ten hundred creatures of the same
breed as my captors, for such I now considered them despite
the suave manner in which I had been trapped.
With the exception of their ornaments all were naked. The
women varied in appearance but little from the men, except
that their tusks were much larger in proportion to their height,
in some instances curving nearly to their high-set ears. Their
bodies were smaller and lighter in color, and their fingers
and toes bore the rudiments of nails, which were entirely
lacking among the males. The adult females ranged in height
from ten to twelve feet.
The children were light in color, even lighter than the
women, and all looked precisely alike to me, except that some
were taller than others; older, I presumed.
I saw no signs of extreme age among them, nor is there any
appreciable difference in their appearance from the age of
maturity, about forty, until, at about the age of one thousand
years, they go voluntarily upon their last strange pilgrimage
down the river Iss, which leads no living Martian knows
whither and from whose bosom no Martian has ever returned,
or would be allowed to live did he return after once embarking
upon its cold, dark waters.
Only about one Martian in a thousand dies of sickness or
disease, and possibly about twenty take the voluntary pilgrimage.
The other nine hundred and seventy-nine die violent deaths
in duels, in hunting, in aviation and in war; but perhaps by far
the greatest death loss comes during the age of childhood,
when vast numbers of the little Martians fall victims
to the great white apes of Mars.
The average life expectancy of a Martian after the age of
maturity is about three hundred years, but would be nearer
the one-thousand mark were it not for the various means
leading to violent death. Owing to the waning resources
of the planet it evidently became necessary to counteract
the increasing longevity which their remarkable skill in
therapeutics and surgery produced, and so human life has come
to be considered but lightly on Mars, as is evidenced by their
dangerous sports and the almost continual warfare between
the various communities.
There are other and natural causes tending toward a
diminution of population, but nothing contributes so greatly
to this end as the fact that no male or female Martian is ever
voluntarily without a weapon of destruction.
As we neared the plaza and my presence was discovered we
were immediately surrounded by hundreds of the creatures
who seemed anxious to pluck me from my seat behind my
guard. A word from the leader of the party stilled their
clamor, and we proceeded at a trot across the plaza to the
entrance of as magnificent an edifice as mortal eye has rested
The building was low, but covered an enormous area. It
was constructed of gleaming white marble inlaid with gold
and brilliant stones which sparkled and scintillated in the
sunlight. The main entrance was some hundred feet in width
and projected from the building proper to form a huge canopy
above the entrance hall. There was no stairway, but a gentle
incline to the first floor of the building opened into an
enormous chamber encircled by galleries.
On the floor of this chamber, which was dotted with highly
carved wooden desks and chairs, were assembled about forty
or fifty male Martians around the steps of a rostrum. On the
platform proper squatted an enormous warrior heavily loaded
with metal ornaments, gay-colored feathers and beautifully
wrought leather trappings ingeniously set with precious stones.
From his shoulders depended a short cape of white fur lined
with brilliant scarlet silk.
What struck me as most remarkable about this assemblage
and the hall in which they were congregated was the fact
that the creatures were entirely out of proportion to the desks,
chairs, and other furnishings; these being of a size adapted to
human beings such as I, whereas the great bulks of the
Martians could scarcely have squeezed into the chairs, nor was
there room beneath the desks for their long legs. Evidently,
then, there were other denizens on Mars than the wild and
grotesque creatures into whose hands I had fallen, but the
evidences of extreme antiquity which showed all around me
indicated that these buildings might have belonged to some
long-extinct and forgotten race in the dim antiquity of Mars.
Our party had halted at the entrance to the building, and at
a sign from the leader I had been lowered to the ground.
Again locking his arm in mine, we had proceeded into the
audience chamber. There were few formalities observed in
approaching the Martian chieftain. My captor merely strode
up to the rostrum, the others making way for him as he
advanced. The chieftain rose to his feet and uttered the name
of my escort who, in turn, halted and repeated the name of
the ruler followed by his title.
At the time, this ceremony and the words they uttered
meant nothing to me, but later I came to know that this was
the customary greeting between green Martians. Had the men
been strangers, and therefore unable to exchange names, they
would have silently exchanged ornaments, had their missions
been peaceful--otherwise they would have exchanged shots,
or have fought out their introduction with some other of their
My captor, whose name was Tars Tarkas, was virtually the
vice-chieftain of the community, and a man of great ability as
a statesman and warrior. He evidently explained briefly the
incidents connected with his expedition, including my capture,
and when he had concluded the chieftain addressed me at
I replied in our good old English tongue merely to
convince him that neither of us could understand the other;
but I noticed that when I smiled slightly on concluding, he did
likewise. This fact, and the similar occurrence during my first
talk with Tars Tarkas, convinced me that we had at least
something in common; the ability to smile, therefore to laugh;
denoting a sense of humor. But I was to learn that the
Martian smile is merely perfunctory, and that the Martian
laugh is a thing to cause strong men to blanch in horror.
The ideas of humor among the green men of Mars are
widely at variance with our conceptions of incitants to
merriment. The death agonies of a fellow being are, to these
strange creatures provocative of the wildest hilarity, while
their chief form of commonest amusement is to inflict death
on their prisoners of war in various ingenious and horrible
The assembled warriors and chieftains examined me closely,
feeling my muscles and the texture of my skin. The principal
chieftain then evidently signified a desire to see me perform,
and, motioning me to follow, he started with Tars Tarkas for
the open plaza.
Now, I had made no attempt to walk, since my first signal
failure, except while tightly grasping Tars Tarkas' arm, and
so now I went skipping and flitting about among the desks
and chairs like some monstrous grasshopper. After bruising
myself severely, much to the amusement of the Martians, I
again had recourse to creeping, but this did not suit them and
I was roughly jerked to my feet by a towering fellow who had
laughed most heartily at my misfortunes.
As he banged me down upon my feet his face was bent
close to mine and I did the only thing a gentleman might do
under the circumstances of brutality, boorishness, and lack of
consideration for a stranger's rights; I swung my fist squarely
to his jaw and he went down like a felled ox. As he sunk to
the floor I wheeled around with my back toward the nearest
desk, expecting to be overwhelmed by the vengeance of his
fellows, but determined to give them as good a battle as the
unequal odds would permit before I gave up my life.
My fears were groundless, however, as the other Martians,
at first struck dumb with wonderment, finally broke into wild
peals of laughter and applause. I did not recognize the
applause as such, but later, when I had become acquainted
with their customs, I learned that I had won what they seldom
accord, a manifestation of approbation.
The fellow whom I had struck lay where he had fallen, nor
did any of his mates approach him. Tars Tarkas advanced
toward me, holding out one of his arms, and we thus proceeded
to the plaza without further mishap. I did not, of course,
know the reason for which we had come to the open, but I
was not long in being enlightened. They first repeated
the word "sak" a number of times, and then Tars Tarkas made
several jumps, repeating the same word before each leap; then,
turning to me, he said, "sak!" I saw what they were after, and
gathering myself together I "sakked" with such marvelous
success that I cleared a good hundred and fifty feet; nor did I
this time, lose my equilibrium, but landed squarely upon my
feet without falling. I then returned by easy jumps of twenty-
five or thirty feet to the little group of warriors.
My exhibition had been witnessed by several hundred lesser
Martians, and they immediately broke into demands for a
repetition, which the chieftain then ordered me to make; but
I was both hungry and thirsty, and determined on the spot
that my only method of salvation was to demand the
consideration from these creatures which they evidently would
not voluntarily accord. I therefore ignored the repeated
commands to "sak," and each time they were made I motioned
to my mouth and rubbed my stomach.
Tars Tarkas and the chief exchanged a few words, and the
former, calling to a young female among the throng, gave
her some instructions and motioned me to accompany her. I
grasped her proffered arm and together we crossed the plaza
toward a large building on the far side.
My fair companion was about eight feet tall, having just
arrived at maturity, but not yet to her full height. She was of
a light olive-green color, with a smooth, glossy hide. Her
name, as I afterward learned, was Sola, and she belonged to
the retinue of Tars Tarkas. She conducted me to a spacious
chamber in one of the buildings fronting on the plaza, and
which, from the litter of silks and furs upon the floor, I took
to be the sleeping quarters of several of the natives.
The room was well lighted by a number of large windows
and was beautifully decorated with mural paintings and mosaics,
but upon all there seemed to rest that indefinable touch
of the finger of antiquity which convinced me that the
architects and builders of these wondrous creations had nothing
in common with the crude half-brutes which now occupied them.
Sola motioned me to be seated upon a pile of silks near
the center of the room, and, turning, made a peculiar hissing
sound, as though signaling to someone in an adjoining room.
In response to her call I obtained my first sight of a new
Martian wonder. It waddled in on its ten short legs, and
squatted down before the girl like an obedient puppy. The
thing was about the size of a Shetland pony, but its head bore
a slight resemblance to that of a frog, except that the jaws
were equipped with three rows of long, sharp tusks.
CHAPTER V. I ELUDE MY WATCH DOG
Sola stared into the brute's wicked-looking eyes, muttered a
word or two of command, pointed to me, and left the chamber.
I could not but wonder what this ferocious-looking monstrosity
might do when left alone in such close proximity to such a
relatively tender morsel of meat; but my fears were groundless,
as the beast, after surveying me intently for a moment, crossed
the room to the only exit which led to the street, and lay down
full length across the threshold.
This was my first experience with a Martian watch dog, but
it was destined not to be my last, for this fellow guarded me
carefully during the time I remained a captive among these
green men; twice saving my life, and never voluntarily being
away from me a moment.
While Sola was away I took occasion to examine more
minutely the room in which I found myself captive. The
mural painting depicted scenes of rare and wonderful beauty;
mountains, rivers, lake, ocean, meadow, trees and flowers,
winding roadways, sun-kissed gardens--scenes which might
have portrayed earthly views but for the different colorings of
the vegetation. The work had evidently been wrought by a
master hand, so subtle the atmosphere, so perfect the technique;
yet nowhere was there a representation of a living animal,
either human or brute, by which I could guess at the likeness
of these other and perhaps extinct denizens of Mars.
While I was allowing my fancy to run riot in wild conjecture
on the possible explanation of the strange anomalies which
I had so far met with on Mars, Sola returned bearing both
food and drink. These she placed on the floor beside me,
and seating herself a short ways off regarded me intently.
The food consisted of about a pound of some solid substance of
the consistency of cheese and almost tasteless, while the liquid
was apparently milk from some animal. It was not unpleasant
to the taste, though slightly acid, and I learned in a short time
to prize it very highly. It came, as I later discovered, not from
an animal, as there is only one mammal on Mars and that one
very rare indeed, but from a large plant which grows practically
without water, but seems to distill its plentiful supply of
milk from the products of the soil, the moisture of the air,
and the rays of the sun. A single plant of this species will give
eight or ten quarts of milk per day.
After I had eaten I was greatly invigorated, but feeling the
need of rest I stretched out upon the silks and was soon
asleep. I must have slept several hours, as it was dark when
I awoke, and I was very cold. I noticed that someone had
thrown a fur over me, but it had become partially dislodged
and in the darkness I could not see to replace it. Suddenly a
hand reached out and pulled the fur over me, shortly afterwards
adding another to my covering.
I presumed that my watchful guardian was Sola, nor was
I wrong. This girl alone, among all the green Martians with
whom I came in contact, disclosed characteristics of sympathy,
kindliness, and affection; her ministrations to my bodily wants
were unfailing, and her solicitous care saved me from much
suffering and many hardships.
As I was to learn, the Martian nights are extremely cold,
and as there is practically no twilight or dawn, the changes
in temperature are sudden and most uncomfortable, as are the
transitions from brilliant daylight to darkness. The nights are
either brilliantly illumined or very dark, for if neither of the
two moons of Mars happen to be in the sky almost total
darkness results, since the lack of atmosphere, or, rather, the
very thin atmosphere, fails to diffuse the starlight to any
great extent; on the other hand, if both of the moons are in
the heavens at night the surface of the ground is brightly
Both of Mars' moons are vastly nearer her than is our
moon to Earth; the nearer moon being but about five thousand
miles distant, while the further is but little more than
fourteen thousand miles away, against the nearly one-quarter
million miles which separate us from our moon. The nearer
moon of Mars makes a complete revolution around the planet
in a little over seven and one-half hours, so that she may be
seen hurtling through the sky like some huge meteor two or
three times each night, revealing all her phases during each
transit of the heavens.
The further moon revolves about Mars in something over
thirty and one-quarter hours, and with her sister satellite
makes a nocturnal Martian scene one of splendid and weird
grandeur. And it is well that nature has so graciously and
abundantly lighted the Martian night, for the green men of
Mars, being a nomadic race without high intellectual development,
have but crude means for artificial lighting; depending
principally upon torches, a kind of candle, and a peculiar oil
lamp which generates a gas and burns without a wick.
This last device produces an intensely brilliant far-reaching
white light, but as the natural oil which it requires can only
be obtained by mining in one of several widely separated and
remote localities it is seldom used by these creatures whose
only thought is for today, and whose hatred for manual labor
has kept them in a semi-barbaric state for countless ages.
After Sola had replenished my coverings I again slept, nor
did I awaken until daylight. The other occupants of the room,
five in number, were all females, and they were still sleeping,
piled high with a motley array of silks and furs. Across the
threshold lay stretched the sleepless guardian brute, just as I
had last seen him on the preceding day; apparently he had not
moved a muscle; his eyes were fairly glued upon me, and I
fell to wondering just what might befall me should I endeavor
I have ever been prone to seek adventure and to investigate
and experiment where wiser men would have left well enough
alone. It therefore now occurred to me that the surest way of
learning the exact attitude of this beast toward me would be
to attempt to leave the room. I felt fairly secure in my belief
that I could escape him should he pursue me once I was
outside the building, for I had begun to take great pride in
my ability as a jumper. Furthermore, I could see from the
shortness of his legs that the brute himself was no jumper and
probably no runner.
Slowly and carefully, therefore, I gained my feet, only to
see that my watcher did the same; cautiously I advanced
toward him, finding that by moving with a shuffling gait I
could retain my balance as well as make reasonably rapid
progress. As I neared the brute he backed cautiously away
from me, and when I had reached the open he moved to one
side to let me pass. He then fell in behind me and followed
about ten paces in my rear as I made my way along the
Evidently his mission was to protect me only, I thought,
but when we reached the edge of the city he suddenly sprang
before me, uttering strange sounds and baring his ugly and
ferocious tusks. Thinking to have some amusement at his
expense, I rushed toward him, and when almost upon him
sprang into the air, alighting far beyond him and away from
the city. He wheeled instantly and charged me with the most
appalling speed I had ever beheld. I had thought his short
legs a bar to swiftness, but had he been coursing with
greyhounds the latter would have appeared as though asleep
on a door mat. As I was to learn, this is the fleetest animal
on Mars, and owing to its intelligence, loyalty, and ferocity is
used in hunting, in war, and as the protector of the Martian man.
I quickly saw that I would have difficulty in escaping the
fangs of the beast on a straightaway course, and so I met his
charge by doubling in my tracks and leaping over him as he
was almost upon me. This maneuver gave me a considerable
advantage, and I was able to reach the city quite a bit ahead
of him, and as he came tearing after me I jumped for a window
about thirty feet from the ground in the face of one of the
buildings overlooking the valley.
Grasping the sill I pulled myself up to a sitting posture
without looking into the building, and gazed down at the
baffled animal beneath me. My exultation was short-lived,
however, for scarcely had I gained a secure seat upon the sill
than a huge hand grasped me by the neck from behind and
dragged me violently into the room. Here I was thrown upon
my back, and beheld standing over me a colossal ape-like
creature, white and hairless except for an enormous shock of
bristly hair upon its head.
CHAPTER VI. A FIGHT THAT WON FRIENDS
The thing, which more nearly resembled our earthly men
than it did the Martians I had seen, held me pinioned to the
ground with one huge foot, while it jabbered and gesticulated
at some answering creature behind me. This other, which was
evidently its mate, soon came toward us, bearing a mighty
stone cudgel with which it evidently intended to brain me.
The creatures were about ten or fifteen feet tall, standing
erect, and had, like the green Martians, an intermediary set
of arms or legs, midway between their upper and lower limbs.
Their eyes were close together and non-protruding; their ears
were high set, but more laterally located than those of the
Martians, while their snouts and teeth were strikingly like
those of our African gorilla. Altogether they were not unlovely
when viewed in comparison with the green Martians.
The cudgel was swinging in the arc which ended upon my
upturned face when a bolt of myriad-legged horror hurled itself
through the doorway full upon the breast of my executioner.
With a shriek of fear the ape which held me leaped through
the open window, but its mate closed in a terrific death
struggle with my preserver, which was nothing less than
my faithful watch-thing; I cannot bring myself to call so
hideous a creature a dog.
As quickly as possible I gained my feet and backing against
the wall I witnessed such a battle as it is vouchsafed few
beings to see. The strength, agility, and blind ferocity of these
two creatures is approached by nothing known to earthly man.
My beast had an advantage in his first hold, having sunk his
mighty fangs far into the breast of his adversary; but the
great arms and paws of the ape, backed by muscles far
transcending those of the Martian men I had seen, had locked
the throat of my guardian and slowly were choking out his
life, and bending back his head and neck upon his body, where
I momentarily expected the former to fall limp at the end of a
In accomplishing this the ape was tearing away the entire
front of its breast, which was held in the vise-like grip of the
powerful jaws. Back and forth upon the floor they rolled,
neither one emitting a sound of fear or pain. Presently I saw
the great eyes of my beast bulging completely from their
sockets and blood flowing from its nostrils. That he was
weakening perceptibly was evident, but so also was the ape,
whose struggles were growing momentarily less.
Suddenly I came to myself and, with that strange instinct
which seems ever to prompt me to my duty, I seized the
cudgel, which had fallen to the floor at the commencement of
the battle, and swinging it with all the power of my earthly
arms I crashed it full upon the head of the ape, crushing his
skull as though it had been an eggshell.
Scarcely had the blow descended when I was confronted
with a new danger. The ape's mate, recovered from its first
shock of terror, had returned to the scene of the encounter
by way of the interior of the building. I glimpsed him just
before he reached the doorway and the sight of him, now
roaring as he perceived his lifeless fellow stretched upon the
floor, and frothing at the mouth, in the extremity of his rage,
filled me, I must confess, with dire forebodings.
I am ever willing to stand and fight when the odds are not
too overwhelmingly against me, but in this instance I perceived
neither glory nor profit in pitting my relatively puny strength
against the iron muscles and brutal ferocity of this enraged
denizen of an unknown world; in fact, the only outcome
of such an encounter, so far as I might be concerned,
seemed sudden death.
I was standing near the window and I knew that once in
the street I might gain the plaza and safety before the creature
could overtake me; at least there was a chance for safety in
flight, against almost certain death should I remain and fight
It is true I held the cudgel, but what could I do with it
against his four great arms? Even should I break one of them
with my first blow, for I figured that he would attempt to ward
off the cudgel, he could reach out and annihilate me with the
others before I could recover for a second attack.
In the instant that these thoughts passed through my mind
I had turned to make for the window, but my eyes alighting on
the form of my erstwhile guardian threw all thoughts of flight
to the four winds. He lay gasping upon the floor of the
chamber, his great eyes fastened upon me in what seemed a
pitiful appeal for protection. I could not withstand that look,
nor could I, on second thought, have deserted my rescuer
without giving as good an account of myself in his behalf
as he had in mine.
Without more ado, therefore, I turned to meet the charge
of the infuriated bull ape. He was now too close upon me for
the cudgel to prove of any effective assistance, so I merely
threw it as heavily as I could at his advancing bulk. It struck
him just below the knees, eliciting a howl of pain and rage,
and so throwing him off his balance that he lunged full upon
me with arms wide stretched to ease his fall.
Again, as on the preceding day, I had recourse to earthly
tactics, and swinging my right fist full upon the point of his
chin I followed it with a smashing left to the pit of his
stomach. The effect was marvelous, for, as I lightly
sidestepped, after delivering the second blow, he reeled
and fell upon the floor doubled up with pain and gasping
for wind. Leaping over his prostrate body, I seized the cudgel
and finished the monster before he could regain his feet.
As I delivered the blow a low laugh rang out behind me,
and, turning, I beheld Tars Tarkas, Sola, and three or four
warriors standing in the doorway of the chamber. As my eyes
met theirs I was, for the second time, the recipient of their
zealously guarded applause.
My absence had been noted by Sola on her awakening, and
she had quickly informed Tars Tarkas, who had set out
immediately with a handful of warriors to search for me.
As they had approached the limits of the city they had witnessed
the actions of the bull ape as he bolted into the building,
frothing with rage.
They had followed immediately behind him, thinking it
barely possible that his actions might prove a clew to my
whereabouts and had witnessed my short but decisive battle
with him. This encounter, together with my set-to with the
Martian warrior on the previous day and my feats of jumping
placed me upon a high pinnacle in their regard. Evidently
devoid of all the finer sentiments of friendship, love, or
affection, these people fairly worship physical prowess and
bravery, and nothing is too good for the object of their
adoration as long as he maintains his position by repeated
examples of his skill, strength, and courage.
Sola, who had accompanied the searching party of her own
volition, was the only one of the Martians whose face had not
been twisted in laughter as I battled for my life. She, on the
contrary, was sober with apparent solicitude and, as soon as I
had finished the monster, rushed to me and carefully examined
my body for possible wounds or injuries. Satisfying herself
that I had come off unscathed she smiled quietly, and,
taking my hand, started toward the door of the chamber.
Tars Tarkas and the other warriors had entered and were
standing over the now rapidly reviving brute which had saved
my life, and whose life I, in turn, had rescued. They seemed
to be deep in argument, and finally one of them addressed me,
but remembering my ignorance of his language turned back to
Tars Tarkas, who, with a word and gesture, gave some command
to the fellow and turned to follow us from the room.
There seemed something menacing in their attitude toward
my beast, and I hesitated to leave until I had learned the
outcome. It was well I did so, for the warrior drew an
evil looking pistol from its holster and was on the point of
putting an end to the creature when I sprang forward and
struck up his arm. The bullet striking the wooden casing of
the window exploded, blowing a hole completely through the
wood and masonry.
I then knelt down beside the fearsome-looking thing, and
raising it to its feet motioned for it to follow me. The looks
of surprise which my actions elicited from the Martians were
ludicrous; they could not understand, except in a feeble and
childish way, such attributes as gratitude and compassion.
The warrior whose gun I had struck up looked enquiringly at
Tars Tarkas, but the latter signed that I be left to my own
devices, and so we returned to the plaza with my great beast
following close at heel, and Sola grasping me tightly by the
I had at least two friends on Mars; a young woman who
watched over me with motherly solicitude, and a dumb brute
which, as I later came to know, held in its poor ugly carcass
more love, more loyalty, more gratitude than could have been
found in the entire five million green Martians who rove the
deserted cities and dead sea bottoms of Mars.
CHAPTER VII. CHILD-RAISING ON MARS
After a breakfast, which was an exact replica of the meal of
the preceding day and an index of practically every meal
which followed while I was with the green men of Mars, Sola
escorted me to the plaza, where I found the entire community
engaged in watching or helping at the harnessing of huge
mastodonian animals to great three-wheeled chariots. There
were about two hundred and fifty of these vehicles, each
drawn by a single animal, any one of which, from their
appearance, might easily have drawn the entire wagon train
when fully loaded.
The chariots themselves were large, commodious, and
gorgeously decorated. In each was seated a female Martian
loaded with ornaments of metal, with jewels and silks and furs,
and upon the back of each of the beasts which drew the chariots
was perched a young Martian driver. Like the animals upon which
the warriors were mounted, the heavier draft animals wore neither
bit nor bridle, but were guided entirely by telepathic means.
This power is wonderfully developed in all Martians, and
accounts largely for the simplicity of their language and the
relatively few spoken words exchanged even in long conversations.
It is the universal language of Mars, through the medium
of which the higher and lower animals of this world of
paradoxes are able to communicate to a greater or less extent,
depending upon the intellectual sphere of the species and the
development of the individual.
As the cavalcade took up the line of march in single file,
Sola dragged me into an empty chariot and we proceeded
with the procession toward the point by which I had entered
the city the day before. At the head of the caravan rode some
two hundred warriors, five abreast, and a like number
brought up the rear, while twenty-five or thirty outriders
flanked us on either side.
Every one but myself--men, women, and children--were
heavily armed, and at the tail of each chariot trotted a
Martian hound, my own beast following closely behind ours; in
fact, the faithful creature never left me voluntarily during the
entire ten years I spent on Mars. Our way led out across the
little valley before the city, through the hills, and down into
the dead sea bottom which I had traversed on my journey
from the incubator to the plaza. The incubator, as it proved,
was the terminal point of our journey this day, and, as the
entire cavalcade broke into a mad gallop as soon as we
reached the level expanse of sea bottom, we were soon within
sight of our goal.
On reaching it the chariots were parked with military
precision on the four sides of the enclosure, and half a score
of warriors, headed by the enormous chieftain, and including
Tars Tarkas and several other lesser chiefs, dismounted and
advanced toward it. I could see Tars Tarkas explaining something
to the principal chieftain, whose name, by the way, was,
as nearly as I can translate it into English, Lorquas Ptomel,
Jed; jed being his title.
I was soon appraised of the subject of their conversation, as,
calling to Sola, Tars Tarkas signed for her to send me to him.
I had by this time mastered the intricacies of walking under
Martian conditions, and quickly responding to his command
I advanced to the side of the incubator where the warriors
As I reached their side a glance showed me that all but a
very few eggs had hatched, the incubator being fairly alive
with the hideous little devils. They ranged in height from
three to four feet, and were moving restlessly about the
enclosure as though searching for food.
As I came to a halt before him, Tars Tarkas pointed over
the incubator and said, "Sak." I saw that he wanted me to
repeat my performance of yesterday for the edification of
Lorquas Ptomel, and, as I must confess that my prowess gave
me no little satisfaction, I responded quickly, leaping entirely
over the parked chariots on the far side of the incubator. As
I returned, Lorquas Ptomel grunted something at me, and
turning to his warriors gave a few words of command relative
to the incubator. They paid no further attention to me and I
was thus permitted to remain close and watch their operations,
which consisted in breaking an opening in the wall of the
incubator large enough to permit of the exit of the young Martians.
On either side of this opening the women and the younger Martians,
both male and female, formed two solid walls leading out
through the chariots and quite away into the plain beyond.
Between these walls the little Martians scampered,
wild as deer; being permitted to run the full length of the
aisle, where they were captured one at a time by the women
and older children; the last in the line capturing the first little
one to reach the end of the gauntlet, her opposite in the line
capturing the second, and so on until all the little fellows had
left the enclosure and been appropriated by some youth or
female. As the women caught the young they fell out of line
and returned to their respective chariots, while those who fell
into the hands of the young men were later turned over to
some of the women.
I saw that the ceremony, if it could be dignified by such
a name, was over, and seeking out Sola I found her in our
chariot with a hideous little creature held tightly in her arms.
The work of rearing young, green Martians consists solely
in teaching them to talk, and to use the weapons of warfare
with which they are loaded down from the very first year of
their lives. Coming from eggs in which they have lain for
five years, the period of incubation, they step forth into the
world perfectly developed except in size. Entirely unknown
to their mothers, who, in turn, would have difficulty in
pointing out the fathers with any degree of accuracy, they are
the common children of the community, and their education
devolves upon the females who chance to capture them as
they leave the incubator.
Their foster mothers may not even have had an egg in the
incubator, as was the case with Sola, who had not commenced
to lay, until less than a year before she became the mother of
another woman's offspring. But this counts for little among
the green Martians, as parental and filial love is as unknown to
them as it is common among us. I believe this horrible system
which has been carried on for ages is the direct cause of the
loss of all the finer feelings and higher humanitarian instincts
among these poor creatures. From birth they know no father
or mother love, they know not the meaning of the word home;
they are taught that they are only suffered to live until they
can demonstrate by their physique and ferocity that they are
fit to live. Should they prove deformed or defective in any way
they are promptly shot; nor do they see a tear shed for a
single one of the many cruel hardships they pass through from
I do not mean that the adult Martians are unnecessarily or
intentionally cruel to the young, but theirs is a hard and
pitiless struggle for existence upon a dying planet, the natural
resources of which have dwindled to a point where the support
of each additional life means an added tax upon the community
into which it is thrown.
By careful selection they rear only the hardiest specimens
of each species, and with almost supernatural foresight
they regulate the birth rate to merely offset the loss by death.
Each adult Martian female brings forth about thirteen eggs
each year, and those which meet the size, weight, and specific
gravity tests are hidden in the recesses of some subterranean
vault where the temperature is too low for incubation. Every
year these eggs are carefully examined by a council of twenty
chieftains, and all but about one hundred of the most perfect
are destroyed out of each yearly supply. At the end of five
years about five hundred almost perfect eggs have been chosen
from the thousands brought forth. These are then placed in
the almost air-tight incubators to be hatched by the sun's rays
after a period of another five years. The hatching which we
had witnessed today was a fairly representative event of its
kind, all but about one per cent of the eggs hatching in two
days. If the remaining eggs ever hatched we knew nothing of
the fate of the little Martians. They were not wanted, as their
offspring might inherit and transmit the tendency to prolonged
incubation, and thus upset the system which has maintained
for ages and which permits the adult Martians to figure the
proper time for return to the incubators, almost to an hour.
The incubators are built in remote fastnesses, where there
is little or no likelihood of their being discovered by other
tribes. The result of such a catastrophe would mean no children
in the community for another five years. I was later to witness
the results of the discovery of an alien incubator.
The community of which the green Martians with whom
my lot was cast formed a part was composed of some thirty
thousand souls. They roamed an enormous tract of arid and
semi-arid land between forty and eighty degrees south latitude,
and bounded on the east and west by two large fertile tracts.
Their headquarters lay in the southwest corner of this district,
near the crossing of two of the so-called Martian canals.
As the incubator had been placed far north of their own
territory in a supposedly uninhabited and unfrequented area,
we had before us a tremendous journey, concerning which I,
of course, knew nothing.
After our return to the dead city I passed several days in
comparative idleness. On the day following our return all the
warriors had ridden forth early in the morning and had not
returned until just before darkness fell. As I later learned,
they had been to the subterranean vaults in which the eggs
were kept and had transported them to the incubator, which
they had then walled up for another five years, and which, in
all probability, would not be visited again during that period.
The vaults which hid the eggs until they were ready for the
incubator were located many miles south of the incubator,
and would be visited yearly by the council of twenty chieftains.
Why they did not arrange to build their vaults and incubators
nearer home has always been a mystery to me, and, like many
other Martian mysteries, unsolved and unsolvable by earthly
reasoning and customs.
Sola's duties were now doubled, as she was compelled to
care for the young Martian as well as for me, but neither one
of us required much attention, and as we were both about
equally advanced in Martian education, Sola took it upon
herself to train us together.
Her prize consisted in a male about four feet tall, very
strong and physically perfect; also, he learned quickly, and we
had considerable amusement, at least I did, over the keen
rivalry we displayed. The Martian language, as I have said,
is extremely simple, and in a week I could make all my
wants known and understand nearly everything that was said
to me. Likewise, under Sola's tutelage, I developed my
telepathic powers so that I shortly could sense practically
everything that went on around me.
What surprised Sola most in me was that while I could
catch telepathic messages easily from others, and often when
they were not intended for me, no one could read a jot from
my mind under any circumstances. At first this vexed me, but
later I was very glad of it, as it gave me an undoubted
advantage over the Martians.
CHAPTER VIII. A FAIR CAPTIVE FROM THE SKY
The third day after the incubator ceremony we set forth
toward home, but scarcely had the head of the procession
debouched into the open ground before the city than orders
were given for an immediate and hasty return. As though
trained for years in this particular evolution, the green
Martians melted like mist into the spacious doorways of the
nearby buildings, until, in less than three minutes, the entire
cavalcade of chariots, mastodons and mounted warriors was nowhere
to be seen.
Sola and I had entered a building upon the front of the city,
in fact, the same one in which I had had my encounter
with the apes, and, wishing to see what had caused the sudden
retreat, I mounted to an upper floor and peered from the
window out over the valley and the hills beyond; and there
I saw the cause of their sudden scurrying to cover. A huge
craft, long, low, and gray-painted, swung slowly over the
crest of the nearest hill. Following it came another, and
another, and another, until twenty of them, swinging low
above the ground, sailed slowly and majestically toward us.
Each carried a strange banner swung from stem to stern
above the upper works, and upon the prow of each was
painted some odd device that gleamed in the sunlight and
showed plainly even at the distance at which we were from
the vessels. I could see figures crowding the forward decks
and upper works of the air craft. Whether they had discovered
us or simply were looking at the deserted city I could not say,
but in any event they received a rude reception, for suddenly
and without warning the green Martian warriors fired a terrific
volley from the windows of the buildings facing the little
valley across which the great ships were so peacefully advancing.
Instantly the scene changed as by magic; the foremost
vessel swung broadside toward us, and bringing her guns into
play returned our fire, at the same time moving parallel to
our front for a short distance and then turning back with the
evident intention of completing a great circle which would
bring her up to position once more opposite our firing line;
the other vessels followed in her wake, each one opening upon
us as she swung into position. Our own fire never diminished,
and I doubt if twenty-five per cent of our shots went wild. It
had never been given me to see such deadly accuracy of aim,
and it seemed as though a little figure on one of the craft
dropped at the explosion of each bullet, while the banners and
upper works dissolved in spurts of flame as the irresistible
projectiles of our warriors mowed through them.
The fire from the vessels was most ineffectual, owing, as I
afterward learned, to the unexpected suddenness of the first
volley, which caught the ship's crews entirely unprepared and
the sighting apparatus of the guns unprotected from the
deadly aim of our warriors.
It seems that each green warrior has certain objective points
for his fire under relatively identical circumstances of warfare.
For example, a proportion of them, always the best marksmen,
direct their fire entirely upon the wireless finding and
sighting apparatus of the big guns of an attacking naval
force; another detail attends to the smaller guns in the same
way; others pick off the gunners; still others the officers;
while certain other quotas concentrate their attention upon the
other members of the crew, upon the upper works, and upon the
steering gear and propellers.
Twenty minutes after the first volley the great fleet swung
trailing off in the direction from which it had first appeared.
Several of the craft were limping perceptibly, and seemed
but barely under the control of their depleted crews. Their fire
had ceased entirely and all their energies seemed focused
upon escape. Our warriors then rushed up to the roofs of the
buildings which we occupied and followed the retreating armada
with a continuous fusillade of deadly fire.
One by one, however, the ships managed to dip below the
crests of the outlying hills until only one barely moving craft
was in sight. This had received the brunt of our fire and
seemed to be entirely unmanned, as not a moving figure was
visible upon her decks. Slowly she swung from her course,
circling back toward us in an erratic and pitiful manner.
Instantly the warriors ceased firing, for it was quite apparent
that the vessel was entirely helpless, and, far from being in a
position to inflict harm upon us, she could not even control
herself sufficiently to escape.
As she neared the city the warriors rushed out upon the
plain to meet her, but it was evident that she still was too high
for them to hope to reach her decks. From my vantage point in
the window I could see the bodies of her crew strewn about,
although I could not make out what manner of creatures they
might be. Not a sign of life was manifest upon her as she
drifted slowly with the light breeze in a southeasterly
She was drifting some fifty feet above the ground, followed
by all but some hundred of the warriors who had been ordered
back to the roofs to cover the possibility of a return of the
fleet, or of reinforcements. It soon became evident that she
would strike the face of the buildings about a mile south of
our position, and as I watched the progress of the chase I
saw a number of warriors gallop ahead, dismount and enter
the building she seemed destined to touch.
As the craft neared the building, and just before she struck,
the Martian warriors swarmed upon her from the windows,
and with their great spears eased the shock of the collision,
and in a few moments they had thrown out grappling hooks
and the big boat was being hauled to ground by their fellows
After making her fast, they swarmed the sides and searched
the vessel from stem to stern. I could see them examining the
dead sailors, evidently for signs of life, and presently a party
of them appeared from below dragging a little figure among
them. The creature was considerably less than half as tall as
the green Martian warriors, and from my balcony I could see
that it walked erect upon two legs and surmised that it was
some new and strange Martian monstrosity with which I had
not as yet become acquainted.
They removed their prisoner to the ground and then commenced
a systematic rifling of the vessel. This operation required
several hours, during which time a number of the chariots
were requisitioned to transport the loot, which consisted
in arms, ammunition, silks, furs, jewels, strangely carved
stone vessels, and a quantity of solid foods and liquids,
including many casks of water, the first I had seen since my
advent upon Mars.
After the last load had been removed the warriors made
lines fast to the craft and towed her far out into the valley in
a southwesterly direction. A few of them then boarded her and
were busily engaged in what appeared, from my distant position,
as the emptying of the contents of various carboys upon the
dead bodies of the sailors and over the decks and works
of the vessel.
This operation concluded, they hastily clambered over her
sides, sliding down the guy ropes to the ground. The last
warrior to leave the deck turned and threw something back
upon the vessel, waiting an instant to note the outcome of
his act. As a faint spurt of flame rose from the point where
the missile struck he swung over the side and was quickly
upon the ground. Scarcely had he alighted than the guy ropes
were simultaneous released, and the great warship, lightened
by the removal of the loot, soared majestically into the air,
her decks and upper works a mass of roaring flames.
Slowly she drifted to the southeast, rising higher and higher
as the flames ate away her wooden parts and diminished the
weight upon her. Ascending to the roof of the building I
watched her for hours, until finally she was lost in the dim
vistas of the distance. The sight was awe-inspiring in the
extreme as one contemplated this mighty floating funeral pyre,
drifting unguided and unmanned through the lonely wastes of
the Martian heavens; a derelict of death and destruction,
typifying the life story of these strange and ferocious
creatures into whose unfriendly hands fate had carried it.
Much depressed, and, to me, unaccountably so, I slowly
descended to the street. The scene I had witnessed seemed
to mark the defeat and annihilation of the forces of a kindred
people, rather than the routing by our green warriors of
a horde of similar, though unfriendly, creatures. I could not
fathom the seeming hallucination, nor could I free myself
from it; but somewhere in the innermost recesses of my
soul I felt a strange yearning toward these unknown foemen,
and a mighty hope surged through me that the fleet would
return and demand a reckoning from the green warriors
who had so ruthlessly and wantonly attacked it.
Close at my heel, in his now accustomed place, followed
Woola, the hound, and as I emerged upon the street Sola
rushed up to me as though I had been the object of some
search on her part. The cavalcade was returning to the plaza,
the homeward march having been given up for that day; nor,
in fact, was it recommenced for more than a week, owing
to the fear of a return attack by the air craft.
Lorquas Ptomel was too astute an old warrior to be
caught upon the open plains with a caravan of chariots and
children, and so we remained at the deserted city until the
danger seemed passed.
As Sola and I entered the plaza a sight met my eyes which
filled my whole being with a great surge of mingled hope,
fear, exultation, and depression, and yet most dominant
was a subtle sense of relief and happiness; for just
as we neared the throng of Martians I caught a glimpse of
the prisoner from the battle craft who was being roughly
dragged into a nearby building by a couple of green
And the sight which met my eyes was that of a slender,
girlish figure, similar in every detail to the earthly women
of my past life. She did not see me at first, but just as she
was disappearing through the portal of the building which
was to be her prison she turned, and her eyes met mine.
Her face was oval and beautiful in the extreme, her every
feature was finely chiseled and exquisite, her eyes large and
lustrous and her head surmounted by a mass of coal black,
waving hair, caught loosely into a strange yet becoming coiffure.
Her skin was of a light reddish copper color, against which
the crimson glow of her cheeks and the ruby of her beautifully
molded lips shone with a strangely enhancing effect.
She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who
accompanied her; indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments
she was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced
the beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure.
As her gaze rested on me her eyes opened wide in
astonishment, and she made a little sign with her free hand;
a sign which I did not, of course, understand. Just a moment
we gazed upon each other, and then the look of hope and
renewed courage which had glorified her face as she
discovered me, faded into one of utter dejection, mingled
with loathing and contempt. I realized I had not answered her
signal, and ignorant as I was of Martian customs, I intuitively
felt that she had made an appeal for succor and protection
which my unfortunate ignorance had prevented me from answering.
And then she was dragged out of my sight into the depths of the
CHAPTER IX. I LEARN THE LANGUAGE
As I came back to myself I glanced at Sola, who had
witnessed this encounter and I was surprised to note a
strange expression upon her usually expressionless
countenance. What her thoughts were I did not know,
for as yet I had learned but little of the Martian tongue;
enough only to suffice for my daily needs.
As I reached the doorway of our building a strange surprise
awaited me. A warrior approached bearing the arms,
ornaments, and full accouterments of his kind. These he
presented to me with a few unintelligible words, and a
bearing at once respectful and menacing.
Later, Sola, with the aid of several of the other women,
remodeled the trappings to fit my lesser proportions, and
after they completed the work I went about garbed in all the
panoply of war.
From then on Sola instructed me in the mysteries of the
various weapons, and with the Martian young I spent several
hours each day practicing upon the plaza. I was not yet
proficient with all the weapons, but my great familiarity
with similar earthly weapons made me an unusually apt
pupil, and I progressed in a very satisfactory manner.
The training of myself and the young Martians was
conducted solely by the women, who not only attend to the
education of the young in the arts of individual defense
and offense, but are also the artisans who produce every
manufactured article wrought by the green Martians. They make
the powder, the cartridges, the firearms; in fact everything
of value is produced by the females. In time of actual warfare
they form a part of the reserves, and when the necessity
arises fight with even greater intelligence and ferocity
than the men.
The men are trained in the higher branches of the art of war;
in strategy and the maneuvering of large bodies of troops.
They make the laws as they are needed; a new law for
each emergency. They are unfettered by precedent in
the administration of justice. Customs have been handed
down by ages of repetition, but the punishment for ignoring
a custom is a matter for individual treatment by a jury of
the culprit's peers, and I may say that justice seldom
misses fire, but seems rather to rule in inverse ratio to
the ascendency of law. In one respect at least the Martians
are a happy people; they have no lawyers.
I did not see the prisoner again for several days subsequent
to our first encounter, and then only to catch a fleeting
glimpse of her as she was being conducted to the great
audience chamber where I had had my first meeting with
Lorquas Ptomel. I could not but note the unnecessary
harshness and brutality with which her guards treated her;
so different from the almost maternal kindliness which Sola
manifested toward me, and the respectful attitude of the few
green Martians who took the trouble to notice me at all.
I had observed on the two occasions when I had seen her
that the prisoner exchanged words with her guards, and this
convinced me that they spoke, or at least could make
themselves understood by a common language. With this added
incentive I nearly drove Sola distracted by my importunities
to hasten on my education and within a few more days
I had mastered the Martian tongue sufficiently well to enable
me to carry on a passable conversation and to fully understand
practically all that I heard.
At this time our sleeping quarters were occupied by three
or four females and a couple of the recently hatched young,
beside Sola and her youthful ward, myself, and Woola the
hound. After they had retired for the night it was customary
for the adults to carry on a desultory conversation for a
short time before lapsing into sleep, and now that I could
understand their language I was always a keen listener,
although I never proffered any remarks myself.
On the night following the prisoner's visit to the audience
chamber the conversation finally fell upon this subject, and
I was all ears on the instant. I had feared to question Sola
relative to the beautiful captive, as I could not but recall the
strange expression I had noted upon her face after my first
encounter with the prisoner. That it denoted jealousy I could
not say, and yet, judging all things by mundane standards
as I still did, I felt it safer to affect indifference in the matter
until I learned more surely Sola's attitude toward the object
of my solicitude.
Sarkoja, one of the older women who shared our domicile,
had been present at the audience as one of the captive's
guards, and it was toward her the question turned.
"When," asked one of the women, "will we enjoy the
death throes of the red one? or does Lorquas Ptomel, Jed,
intend holding her for ransom?"
"They have decided to carry her with us back to Thark,
and exhibit her last agonies at the great games before Tal
Hajus," replied Sarkoja.
"What will be the manner of her going out?" inquired
Sola. "She is very small and very beautiful; I had hoped that
they would hold her for ransom."
Sarkoja and the other women grunted angrily at this evidence
of weakness on the part of Sola.
"It is sad, Sola, that you were not born a million years
ago," snapped Sarkoja, "when all the hollows of the land
were filled with water, and the peoples were as soft as the
stuff they sailed upon. In our day we have progressed to a
point where such sentiments mark weakness and atavism. It
will not be well for you to permit Tars Tarkas to learn
that you hold such degenerate sentiments, as I doubt
that he would care to entrust such as you with the
grave responsibilities of maternity."
"I see nothing wrong with my expression of interest in
this red woman," retorted Sola. "She has never harmed us,
nor would she should we have fallen into her hands. it is
only the men of her kind who war upon us, and I have ever
thought that their attitude toward us is but the reflection
of ours toward them. They live at peace with all their fellows,
except when duty calls upon them to make war, while we
are at peace with none; forever warring among our own
kind as well as upon the red men, and even in our own
communities the individuals fight amongst themselves.
Oh, it is one continual, awful period of bloodshed from the
time we break the shell until we gladly embrace the bosom of
the river of mystery, the dark and ancient Iss which carries us
to an unknown, but at least no more frightful and terrible
existence! Fortunate indeed is he who meets his end in an
early death. Say what you please to Tars Tarkas, he can mete
out no worse fate to me than a continuation of the horrible
existence we are forced to lead in this life."
This wild outbreak on the part of Sola so greatly surprised
and shocked the other women, that, after a few words of
general reprimand, they all lapsed into silence and were
soon asleep. One thing the episode had accomplished was
to assure me of Sola's friendliness toward the poor girl, and
also to convince me that I had been extremely fortunate in
falling into her hands rather than those of some of the other
females. I knew that she was fond of me, and now that I
had discovered that she hated cruelty and barbarity I was
confident that I could depend upon her to aid me and the
girl captive to escape, provided of course that such a thing
was within the range of possibilities.
I did not even know that there were any better conditions
to escape to, but I was more than willing to take my chances
among people fashioned after my own mold rather than
to remain longer among the hideous and bloodthirsty green
men of Mars. But where to go, and how, was as much of a
puzzle to me as the age-old search for the spring of eternal
life has been to earthly men since the beginning of time.
I decided that at the first opportunity I would take Sola
into my confidence and openly ask her to aid me, and with
this resolution strong upon me I turned among my silks and
furs and slept the dreamless and refreshing sleep of Mars.
CHAPTER X. CHAMPION AND CHIEF
Early the next morning I was astir. Considerable freedom was
allowed me, as Sola had informed me that so long as I did
not attempt to leave the city I was free to go and come as
I pleased. She had warned me, however, against venturing forth
unarmed, as this city, like all other deserted metropolises of
an ancient Martian civilization, was peopled by the great
white apes of my second day's adventure.
In advising me that I must not leave the boundaries of
the city Sola had explained that Woola would prevent this
anyway should I attempt it, and she warned me most urgently
not to arouse his fierce nature by ignoring his warnings
should I venture too close to the forbidden territory. His
nature was such, she said, that he would bring me back into
the city dead or alive should I persist in opposing him;
"preferably dead," she added.
On this morning I had chosen a new street to explore when
suddenly I found myself at the limits of the city. Before
me were low hills pierced by narrow and inviting ravines.
I longed to explore the country before me, and, like the
pioneer stock from which I sprang, to view what the
landscape beyond the encircling hills might disclose
from the summits which shut out my view.
It also occurred to me that this would prove an excellent
opportunity to test the qualities of Woola. I was convinced
that the brute loved me; I had seen more evidences of affection
in him than in any other Martian animal, man or beast,
and I was sure that gratitude for the acts that had twice
saved his life would more than outweigh his loyalty to the
duty imposed upon him by cruel and loveless masters.
As I approached the boundary line Woola ran anxiously
before me, and thrust his body against my legs. His expression
was pleading rather than ferocious, nor did he bare his
great tusks or utter his fearful guttural warnings. Denied
the friendship and companionship of my kind, I had developed
considerable affection for Woola and Sola, for the normal
earthly man must have some outlet for his natural affections,
and so I decided upon an appeal to a like instinct in this
great brute, sure that I would not be disappointed.
I had never petted nor fondled him, but now I sat upon
the ground and putting my arms around his heavy neck I
stroked and coaxed him, talking in my newly acquired
Martian tongue as I would have to my hound at home, as I
would have talked to any other friend among the lower
animals. His response to my manifestation of affection was
remarkable to a degree; he stretched his great mouth to its
full width, baring the entire expanse of his upper rows of
tusks and wrinkling his snout until his great eyes were
almost hidden by the folds of flesh. If you have ever seen a
collie smile you may have some idea of Woola's facial distortion.
He threw himself upon his back and fairly wallowed at
my feet; jumped up and sprang upon me, rolling me upon
the ground by his great weight; then wriggling and squirming
around me like a playful puppy presenting its back for
the petting it craves. I could not resist the ludicrousness
of the spectacle, and holding my sides I rocked back and forth
in the first laughter which had passed my lips in many days;
the first, in fact, since the morning Powell had left camp
when his horse, long unused, had precipitately and unexpectedly
bucked him off headforemost into a pot of frijoles.
My laughter frightened Woola, his antics ceased and he
crawled pitifully toward me, poking his ugly head far into
my lap; and then I remembered what laughter signified on
Mars--torture, suffering, death. Quieting myself, I rubbed
the poor old fellow's head and back, talked to him for a few
minutes, and then in an authoritative tone commanded him
to follow me, and arising started for the hills.
There was no further question of authority between us;
Woola was my devoted slave from that moment hence, and
I his only and undisputed master. My walk to the hills
occupied but a few minutes, and I found nothing of particular
interest to reward me. Numerous brilliantly colored and
strangely formed wild flowers dotted the ravines and from
the summit of the first hill I saw still other hills stretching off
toward the north, and rising, one range above another, until
lost in mountains of quite respectable dimensions; though I
afterward found that only a few peaks on all Mars exceed
four thousand feet in height; the suggestion of magnitude
was merely relative.
My morning's walk had been large with importance to
me for it had resulted in a perfect understanding with Woola,
upon whom Tars Tarkas relied for my safe keeping. I now
knew that while theoretically a prisoner I was virtually free,
and I hastened to regain the city limits before the defection
of Woola could be discovered by his erstwhile masters. The
adventure decided me never again to leave the limits of my
prescribed stamping grounds until I was ready to venture forth
for good and all, as it would certainly result in a curtailment
of my liberties, as well as the probable death of Woola, were we
to be discovered.
On regaining the plaza I had my third glimpse of the
captive girl. She was standing with her guards before the
entrance to the audience chamber, and as I approached she
gave me one haughty glance and turned her back full upon
me. The act was so womanly, so earthly womanly, that
though it stung my pride it also warmed my heart with a
feeling of companionship; it was good to know that someone
else on Mars beside myself had human instincts of a civilized
order, even though the manifestation of them was so painful
Had a green Martian woman desired to show dislike or contempt
she would, in all likelihood, have done it with a sword
thrust or a movement of her trigger finger; but as their
sentiments are mostly atrophied it would have required a
serious injury to have aroused such passions in them. Sola,
let me add, was an exception; I never saw her perform a cruel
or uncouth act, or fail in uniform kindliness and good
nature. She was indeed, as her fellow Martian had said of her,
an atavism; a dear and precious reversion to a former type
of loved and loving ancestor.
Seeing that the prisoner seemed the center of attraction I
halted to view the proceedings. I had not long to wait
for presently Lorquas Ptomel and his retinue of chieftains
approached the building and, signing the guards to follow with
the prisoner entered the audience chamber. Realizing that I
was a somewhat favored character, and also convinced that
the warriors did not know of my proficiency in their language,
as I had pleaded with Sola to keep this a secret on the
grounds that I did not wish to be forced to talk with the
men until I had perfectly mastered the Martian tongue, I
chanced an attempt to enter the audience chamber and listen
to the proceedings.
The council squatted upon the steps of the rostrum, while
below them stood the prisoner and her two guards. I saw
that one of the women was Sarkoja, and thus understood
how she had been present at the hearing of the preceding
day, the results of which she had reported to the occupants
of our dormitory last night. Her attitude toward the captive
was most harsh and brutal. When she held her, she sunk her
rudimentary nails into the poor girl's flesh, or twisted her
arm in a most painful manner. When it was necessary to
move from one spot to another she either jerked her roughly,
or pushed her headlong before her. She seemed to be venting
upon this poor defenseless creature all the hatred, cruelty,
ferocity, and spite of her nine hundred years, backed by
unguessable ages of fierce and brutal ancestors.
The other woman was less cruel because she was entirely
indifferent; if the prisoner had been left to her alone, and
fortunately she was at night, she would have received no
harsh treatment, nor, by the same token would she have
received any attention at all.
As Lorquas Ptomel raised his eyes to address the prisoner
they fell on me and he turned to Tars Tarkas with a word,
and gesture of impatience. Tars Tarkas made some reply
which I could not catch, but which caused Lorquas Ptomel to
smile; after which they paid no further attention to me.
"What is your name?" asked Lorquas Ptomel, addressing
"Dejah Thoris, daughter of Mors Kajak of Helium."
"And the nature of your expedition?" he continued.
"It was a purely scientific research party sent out by my
father's father, the Jeddak of Helium, to rechart the air
currents, and to take atmospheric density tests," replied
the fair prisoner, in a low, well-modulated voice.
"We were unprepared for battle," she continued, "as we
were on a peaceful mission, as our banners and the colors of
our craft denoted. The work we were doing was as much in
your interests as in ours, for you know full well that were it
not for our labors and the fruits of our scientific operations
there would not be enough air or water on Mars to support
a single human life. For ages we have maintained the air and
water supply at practically the same point without an
appreciable loss, and we have done this in the face of
the brutal and ignorant interference of your green men.
"Why, oh, why will you not learn to live in amity with
your fellows, must you ever go on down the ages to your
final extinction but little above the plane of the dumb brutes
that serve you! A people without written language, without
art, without homes, without love; the victim of eons of the
horrible community idea. Owning everything in common,
even to your women and children, has resulted in your
owning nothing in common. You hate each other as you hate
all else except yourselves. Come back to the ways of our
common ancestors, come back to the light of kindliness
and fellowship. The way is open to you, you will find the
hands of the red men stretched out to aid you. Together we
may do still more to regenerate our dying planet. The grand-
daughter of the greatest and mightiest of the red jeddaks has
asked you. Will you come?"
Lorquas Ptomel and the warriors sat looking silently and
intently at the young woman for several moments after she
had ceased speaking. What was passing in their minds no
man may know, but that they were moved I truly believe,
and if one man high among them had been strong enough
to rise above custom, that moment would have marked a
new and mighty era for Mars.
I saw Tars Tarkas rise to speak, and on his face was such
an expression as I had never seen upon the countenance of a
green Martian warrior. It bespoke an inward and mighty
battle with self, with heredity, with age-old custom, and
as he opened his mouth to speak, a look almost of benignity,
of kindliness, momentarily lighted up his fierce and terrible
What words of moment were to have fallen from his lips
were never spoken, as just then a young warrior, evidently
sensing the trend of thought among the older men, leaped
down from the steps of the rostrum, and striking the frail
captive a powerful blow across the face, which felled her to
the floor, placed his foot upon her prostrate form and turning
toward the assembled council broke into peals of horrid,
For an instant I thought Tars Tarkas would strike him
dead, nor did the aspect of Lorquas Ptomel augur any too
favorably for the brute, but the mood passed, their old selves
reasserted their ascendency, and they smiled. It was portentous
however that they did not laugh aloud, for the brute's act
constituted a side-splitting witticism according to the
ethics which rule green Martian humor.
That I have taken moments to write down a part of what
occurred as that blow fell does not signify that I remained
inactive for any such length of time. I think I must have
sensed something of what was coming, for I realize now that
I was crouched as for a spring as I saw the blow aimed at
her beautiful, upturned, pleading face, and ere the hand
descended I was halfway across the hall.
Scarcely had his hideous laugh rang out but once, when
I was upon him. The brute was twelve feet in height and
armed to the teeth, but I believe that I could have accounted
for the whole roomful in the terrific intensity of my rage.
Springing upward, I struck him full in the face as he turned
at my warning cry and then as he drew his short-sword I
drew mine and sprang up again upon his breast, hooking one
leg over the butt of his pistol and grasping one of his huge
tusks with my left hand while I delivered blow after blow
upon his enormous chest.
He could not use his short-sword to advantage because I
was too close to him, nor could he draw his pistol, which
he attempted to do in direct opposition to Martian custom
which says that you may not fight a fellow warrior in
private combat with any other than the weapon with which you
are attacked. In fact he could do nothing but make a wild
and futile attempt to dislodge me. With all his immense bulk
he was little if any stronger than I, and it was but the matter
of a moment or two before he sank, bleeding and lifeless,
to the floor.
Dejah Thoris had raised herself upon one elbow and was
watching the battle with wide, staring eyes. When I had
regained my feet I raised her in my arms and bore her to
one of the benches at the side of the room.
Again no Martian interfered with me, and tearing a piece
of silk from my cape I endeavored to staunch the flow of
blood from her nostrils. I was soon successful as her
injuries amounted to little more than an ordinary nosebleed,
and when she could speak she placed her hand upon my
arm and looking up into my eyes, said:
"Why did you do it? You who refused me even friendly recognition
in the first hour of my peril! And now you risk your life and
kill one of your companions for my sake. I cannot understand.
What strange manner of man are you, that you consort with the
green men, though your form is that of my race, while your color
is little darker than that of the white ape? Tell me, are you
human, or are you more than human?"
"It is a strange tale," I replied, "too long to attempt to tell
you now, and one which I so much doubt the credibility of myself
that I fear to hope that others will believe it. Suffice it,
for the present, that I am your friend, and, so far as our
captors will permit, your protector and your servant."
"Then you too are a prisoner? But why, then, those arms
and the regalia of a Tharkian chieftain? What is your name?
Where your country?"
"Yes, Dejah Thoris, I too am a prisoner; my name is John
Carter, and I claim Virginia, one of the United States of
America, Earth, as my home; but why I am permitted to
wear arms I do not know, nor was I aware that my regalia
was that of a chieftain."
We were interrupted at this juncture by the approach of one
of the warriors, bearing arms, accouterments and ornaments,
and in a flash one of her questions was answered and a
puzzle cleared up for me. I saw that the body of my dead
antagonist had been stripped, and I read in the menacing
yet respectful attitude of the warrior who had brought me
these trophies of the kill the same demeanor as that evinced
by the other who had brought me my original equipment, and now
for the first time I realized that my blow, on the occasion of
my first battle in the audience chamber had resulted in the
death of my adversary.
The reason for the whole attitude displayed toward me was
now apparent; I had won my spurs, so to speak, and in the
crude justice, which always marks Martian dealings, and which,
among other things, has caused me to call her the planet of
paradoxes, I was accorded the honors due a conqueror;
the trappings and the position of the man I killed.
In truth, I was a Martian chieftain, and this I learned later
was the cause of my great freedom and my toleration in the
As I had turned to receive the dead warrior's chattels I
had noticed that Tars Tarkas and several others had pushed
forward toward us, and the eyes of the former rested upon
me in a most quizzical manner. Finally he addressed me:
"You speak the tongue of Barsoom quite readily for one
who was deaf and dumb to us a few short days ago. Where
did you learn it, John Carter?"
"You, yourself, are responsible, Tars Tarkas," I replied, "in
that you furnished me with an instructress of remarkable
ability; I have to thank Sola for my learning."
"She has done well," he answered, "but your education in
other respects needs considerable polish. Do you know what
your unprecedented temerity would have cost you had you
failed to kill either of the two chieftains whose metal you
"I presume that that one whom I had failed to kill, would
have killed me," I answered, smiling.
"No, you are wrong. Only in the last extremity of self-defense
would a Martian warrior kill a prisoner; we like to save them
for other purposes," and his face bespoke possibilities that
were not pleasant to dwell upon.
"But one thing can save you now," he continued. "Should
you, in recognition of your remarkable valor, ferocity,
and prowess, be considered by Tal Hajus as worthy of his
service you may be taken into the community and become a
full-fledged Tharkian. Until we reach the headquarters of Tal
Hajus it is the will of Lorquas Ptomel that you be accorded
the respect your acts have earned you. You will be treated by
us as a Tharkian chieftain, but you must not forget that every
chief who ranks you is responsible for your safe delivery to
our mighty and most ferocious ruler. I am done."
"I hear you, Tars Tarkas," I answered. "As you know I
am not of Barsoom; your ways are not my ways, and I can
only act in the future as I have in the past, in accordance
with the dictates of my conscience and guided by the standards
of mine own people. If you will leave me alone I will go
in peace, but if not, let the individual Barsoomians with
whom I must deal either respect my rights as a stranger
among you, or take whatever consequences may befall. Of
one thing let us be sure, whatever may be your ultimate
intentions toward this unfortunate young woman, whoever
would offer her injury or insult in the future must figure on
making a full accounting to me. I understand that you belittle
all sentiments of generosity and kindliness, but I do not,
and I can convince your most doughty warrior that these
characteristics are not incompatible with an ability to fight."
Ordinarily I am not given to long speeches, nor ever before
had I descended to bombast, but I had guessed at the keynote
which would strike an answering chord in the breasts of the
green Martians, nor was I wrong, for my harangue evidently
deeply impressed them, and their attitude toward me
thereafter was still further respectful.
Tars Tarkas himself seemed pleased with my reply, but his
only comment was more or less enigmatical-- "And I think I
know Tal Hajus, Jeddak of Thark."
I now turned my attention to Dejah Thoris, and assisting
her to her feet I turned with her toward the exit, ignoring
her hovering guardian harpies as well as the inquiring
glances of the chieftains. Was I not now a chieftain also!
Well, then, I would assume the responsibilities of one.
They did not molest us, and so Dejah Thoris, Princess of
Helium, and John Carter, gentleman of Virginia, followed
by the faithful Woola, passed through utter silence from the
audience chamber of Lorquas Ptomel, Jed among the Tharks
CHAPTER XI. WITH DEJAH THORIS
As we reached the open the two female guards who had
been detailed to watch over Dejah Thoris hurried up and
made as though to assume custody of her once more. The
poor child shrank against me and I felt her two little hands
fold tightly over my arm. Waving the women away, I informed
them that Sola would attend the captive hereafter, and I
further warned Sarkoja that any more of her cruel attentions
bestowed upon Dejah Thoris would result in Sarkoja's sudden
and painful demise.
My threat was unfortunate and resulted in more harm
than good to Dejah Thoris, for, as I learned later, men do
not kill women upon Mars, nor women, men. So Sarkoja
merely gave us an ugly look and departed to hatch up
deviltries against us.
I soon found Sola and explained to her that I wished her
to guard Dejah Thoris as she had guarded me; that I wished
her to find other quarters where they would not be molested
by Sarkoja, and I finally informed her that I myself would
take up my quarters among the men.
Sola glanced at the accouterments which were carried in
my hand and slung across my shoulder.
"You are a great chieftain now, John Carter," she said,
"and I must do your bidding, though indeed I am glad to do
it under any circumstances. The man whose metal you carry
was young, but he was a great warrior, and had by his
promotions and kills won his way close to the rank of Tars
Tarkas, who, as you know, is second to Lorquas Ptomel only.
You are eleventh, there are but ten chieftains in this
community who rank you in prowess."
"And if I should kill Lorquas Ptomel?" I asked.
"You would be first, John Carter; but you may only win
that honor by the will of the entire council that Lorquas
Ptomel meet you in combat, or should he attack you, you
may kill him in self-defense, and thus win first place."
I laughed, and changed the subject. I had no particular
desire to kill Lorquas Ptomel, and less to be a jed among
I accompanied Sola and Dejah Thoris in a search for new
quarters, which we found in a building nearer the audience
chamber and of far more pretentious architecture than our
former habitation. We also found in this building real
sleeping apartments with ancient beds of highly wrought
metal swinging from enormous gold chains depending from the
marble ceilings. The decoration of the walls was most elaborate,
and, unlike the frescoes in the other buildings I had examined,
portrayed many human figures in the compositions.
These were of people like myself, and of a much lighter
color than Dejah Thoris. They were clad in graceful,
flowing robes, highly ornamented with metal and jewels, and
their luxuriant hair was of a beautiful golden and reddish
bronze. The men were beardless and only a few wore arms.
The scenes depicted for the most part, a fair-skinned,
fair-haired people at play.
Dejah Thoris clasped her hands with an exclamation of
rapture as she gazed upon these magnificent works of art,
wrought by a people long extinct; while Sola, on the other
hand, apparently did not see them.
We decided to use this room, on the second floor and
overlooking the plaza, for Dejah Thoris and Sola, and
another room adjoining and in the rear for the cooking and
supplies. I then dispatched Sola to bring the bedding and
such food and utensils as she might need, telling her that
I would guard Dejah Thoris until her return.
As Sola departed Dejah Thoris turned to me with a faint smile.
"And whereto, then, would your prisoner escape should
you leave her, unless it was to follow you and crave your
protection, and ask your pardon for the cruel thoughts she
has harbored against you these past few days?"
"You are right," I answered, "there is no escape for either
of us unless we go together."
"I heard your challenge to the creature you call Tars Tarkas,
and I think I understand your position among these people,
but what I cannot fathom is your statement that you are
not of Barsoom."
"In the name of my first ancestor, then," she continued,
"where may you be from? You are like unto my people,
and yet so unlike. You speak my language, and yet I heard
you tell Tars Tarkas that you had but learned it recently.
All Barsoomians speak the same tongue from the ice-clad
south to the ice-clad north, though their written languages
differ. Only in the valley Dor, where the river Iss empties
into the lost sea of Korus, is there supposed to
be a different language spoken, and, except in the legends of
our ancestors, there is no record of a Barsoomian returning
up the river Iss, from the shores of Korus in the valley of
Dor. Do not tell me that you have thus returned! They
would kill you horribly anywhere upon the surface of Barsoom
if that were true; tell me it is not!"
Her eyes were filled with a strange, weird light; her voice
was pleading, and her little hands, reached up upon my
breast, were pressed against me as though to wring a denial
from my very heart.
"I do not know your customs, Dejah Thoris, but in my
own Virginia a gentleman does not lie to save himself; I am
not of Dor; I have never seen the mysterious Iss; the lost
sea of Korus is still lost, so far as I am concerned. Do you
And then it struck me suddenly that I was very anxious that
she should believe me. It was not that I feared the results
which would follow a general belief that I had returned
from the Barsoomian heaven or hell, or whatever it was.
Why was it, then! Why should I care what she thought?
I looked down at her; her beautiful face upturned, and her
wonderful eyes opening up the very depth of her soul; and
as my eyes met hers I knew why, and--I shuddered.
A similar wave of feeling seemed to stir her; she drew
away from me with a sigh, and with her earnest, beautiful
face turned up to mine, she whispered: "I believe you, John
Carter; I do not know what a 'gentleman' is, nor have I ever
he does not wish to speak the truth he is silent. Where is
this Virginia, your country, John Carter?" she asked, and it
seemed that this fair name of my fair land had never sounded
more beautiful than as it fell from those perfect lips on that
"I am of another world," I answered, "the great planet
Earth, which revolves about our common sun and next within
the orbit of your Barsoom, which we know as Mars. How I
came here I cannot tell you, for I do not know; but here I
am, and since my presence has permitted me to serve Dejah
Thoris I am glad that I am here."
She gazed at me with troubled eyes, long and questioningly.
That it was difficult to believe my statement I well knew,
nor could I hope that she would do so however much I craved
her confidence and respect. I would much rather not have
told her anything of my antecedents, but no man could look
into the depth of those eyes and refuse her slightest behest.
Finally she smiled, and, rising, said: "I shall have to
believe even though I cannot understand. I can readily
perceive that you are not of the Barsoom of today; you are
like us, yet different--but why should I trouble my poor head
with such a problem, when my heart tells me that I believe
because I wish to believe!"
It was good logic, good, earthly, feminine logic, and if it
satisfied her I certainly could pick no flaws in it. As a
matter of fact it was about the only kind of logic that could
be brought to bear upon my problem. We fell into a general
conversation then, asking and answering many questions on each
side. She was curious to learn of the customs of my people
and displayed a remarkable knowledge of events on Earth.
When I questioned her closely on this seeming familiarity
with earthly things she laughed, and cried out:
"Why, every school boy on Barsoom knows the geography,
and much concerning the fauna and flora, as well as the
history of your planet fully as well as of his own. Can we
not see everything which takes place upon Earth, as you call
it; is it not hanging there in the heavens in plain sight?"
This baffled me, I must confess, fully as much as my statements
had confounded her; and I told her so. She then explained
in general the instruments her people had used and been
perfecting for ages, which permit them to throw upon
a screen a perfect image of what is transpiring upon any
planet and upon many of the stars. These pictures are so
perfect in detail that, when photographed and enlarged,
objects no greater than a blade of grass may be distinctly
recognized. I afterward, in Helium, saw many of these
pictures, as well as the instruments which produced them.
"If, then, you are so familiar with earthly things," I asked,
"why is it that you do not recognize me as identical with the
inhabitants of that planet?"
She smiled again as one might in bored indulgence of a
"Because, John Carter," she replied, "nearly every planet
and star having atmospheric conditions at all approaching
those of Barsoom, shows forms of animal life almost
identical with you and me; and, further, Earth men, almost
without exception, cover their bodies with strange, unsightly
pieces of cloth, and their heads with hideous contraptions
the purpose of which we have been unable to conceive; while
you, when found by the Tharkian warriors, were entirely
undisfigured and unadorned.
"The fact that you wore no ornaments is a strong proof of
your un-Barsoomian origin, while the absence of grotesque
coverings might cause a doubt as to your earthliness."
I then narrated the details of my departure from the Earth,
explaining that my body there lay fully clothed in all the, to
her, strange garments of mundane dwellers. At this point
Sola returned with our meager belongings and her young
Martian protege, who, of course, would have to share the
quarters with them.
Sola asked us if we had had a visitor during her absence,
and seemed much surprised when we answered in the negative.
It seemed that as she had mounted the approach to the
upper floors where our quarters were located, she had met
Sarkoja descending. We decided that she must have been
eavesdropping, but as we could recall nothing of importance
that had passed between us we dismissed the matter as of
little consequence, merely promising ourselves to be warned
to the utmost caution in the future.
Dejah Thoris and I then fell to examining the architecture and
decorations of the beautiful chambers of the building we were
occupying. She told me that these people had presumably
flourished over a hundred thousand years before.
They were the early progenitors of her race, but had mixed
with the other great race of early Martians, who were very
dark, almost black, and also with the reddish yellow race
which had flourished at the same time.
These three great divisions of the higher Martians had
been forced into a mighty alliance as the drying up of the
Martian seas had compelled them to seek the comparatively few
and always diminishing fertile areas, and to defend themselves,
under new conditions of life, against the wild hordes of green men.
Ages of close relationship and intermarrying had resulted
in the race of red men, of which Dejah Thoris was a fair
and beautiful daughter. During the ages of hardships and
incessant warring between their own various races, as well
as with the green men, and before they had fitted themselves
to the changed conditions, much of the high civilization
and many of the arts of the fair-haired Martians had
become lost; but the red race of today has reached a point
where it feels that it has made up in new discoveries and in
a more practical civilization for all that lies irretrievably
buried with the ancient Barsoomians, beneath the countless
These ancient Martians had been a highly cultivated and
literary race, but during the vicissitudes of those trying
centuries of readjustment to new conditions, not only did their
advancement and production cease entirely, but practically
all their archives, records, and literature were lost.
Dejah Thoris related many interesting facts and legends
concerning this lost race of noble and kindly people. She
said that the city in which we were camping was supposed
to have been a center of commerce and culture known as
Korad. It had been built upon a beautiful, natural harbor,
landlocked by magnificent hills. The little valley on the west
front of the city, she explained, was all that remained of the
harbor, while the pass through the hills to the old sea bottom
had been the channel through which the shipping passed up
to the city's gates.
The shores of the ancient seas were dotted with just such
cities, and lesser ones, in diminishing numbers, were to be
found converging toward the center of the oceans, as the
people had found it necessary to follow the receding waters
until necessity had forced upon them their ultimate salvation,
the so-called Martian canals.
We had been so engrossed in exploration of the building
and in our conversation that it was late in the afternoon
before we realized it. We were brought back to a realization
of our present conditions by a messenger bearing a summons
from Lorquas Ptomel directing me to appear before him
forthwith. Bidding Dejah Thoris and Sola farewell, and
commanding Woola to remain on guard, I hastened to the
audience chamber, where I found Lorquas Ptomel and Tars
Tarkas seated upon the rostrum.
CHAPTER XII. A PRISONER WITH POWER
As I entered and saluted, Lorquas Ptomel signaled me to advance,
and, fixing his great, hideous eyes upon me, addressed me thus:
"You have been with us a few days, yet during that time
you have by your prowess won a high position among us.
Be that as it may, you are not one of us; you owe us no
"Your position is a peculiar one," he continued; "you are
a prisoner and yet you give commands which must be obeyed;
you are an alien and yet you are a Tharkian chieftain; you
are a midget and yet you can kill a mighty warrior with one
blow of your fist. And now you are reported to have been
plotting to escape with another prisoner of another race; a
prisoner who, from her own admission, half believes you are
returned from the valley of Dor. Either one of these accusations,
if proved, would be sufficient grounds for your execution,
but we are a just people and you shall have a trial on our
return to Thark, if Tal Hajus so commands.
"But," he continued, in his fierce guttural tones, "if you
run off with the red girl it is I who shall have to account to
Tal Hajus; it is I who shall have to face Tars Tarkas, and
either demonstrate my right to command, or the metal from
my dead carcass will go to a better man, for such is the
custom of the Tharks.
"I have no quarrel with Tars Tarkas; together we rule
supreme the greatest of the lesser communities among the
green men; we do not wish to fight between ourselves; and so
if you were dead, John Carter, I should be glad. Under two
conditions only, however, may you be killed by us without
orders from Tal Hajus; in personal combat in self-defense,
should you attack one of us, or were you apprehended in an
attempt to escape.
"As a matter of justice I must warn you that we only
await one of these two excuses for ridding ourselves of so
great a responsibility. The safe delivery of the red girl to
Tal Hajus is of the greatest importance. Not in a thousand
years have the Tharks made such a capture; she is the
granddaughter of the greatest of the red jeddaks, who is also
our bitterest enemy. I have spoken. The red girl told us that
we were without the softer sentiments of humanity, but we
are a just and truthful race. You may go."
Turning, I left the audience chamber. So this was the
beginning of Sarkoja's persecution! I knew that none other
could be responsible for this report which had reached the
ears of Lorquas Ptomel so quickly, and now I recalled those
portions of our conversation which had touched upon escape
and upon my origin.
Sarkoja was at this time Tars Tarkas' oldest and most
trusted female. As such she was a mighty power behind the
throne, for no warrior had the confidence of Lorquas Ptomel
to such an extent as did his ablest lieutenant, Tars Tarkas.
However, instead of putting thoughts of possible escape
from my mind, my audience with Lorquas Ptomel only served
to center my every faculty on this subject. Now, more than
before, the absolute necessity for escape, in so far as Dejah
Thoris was concerned, was impressed upon me, for I was
convinced that some horrible fate awaited her at the
headquarters of Tal Hajus.
As described by Sola, this monster was the exaggerated
personification of all the ages of cruelty, ferocity, and
brutality from which he had descended. Cold, cunning,
calculating; he was, also, in marked contrast to most of his
fellows, a slave to that brute passion which the waning
demands for procreation upon their dying planet has almost
stilled in the Martian breast.
The thought that the divine Dejah Thoris might fall into
the clutches of such an abysmal atavism started the cold
sweat upon me. Far better that we save friendly bullets for
ourselves at the last moment, as did those brave frontier
women of my lost land, who took their own lives rather than
fall into the hands of the Indian braves.
As I wandered about the plaza lost in my gloomy forebodings
Tars Tarkas approached me on his way from the audience
chamber. His demeanor toward me was unchanged, and he
greeted me as though we had not just parted a few
"Where are your quarters, John Carter?" he asked.
"I have selected none," I replied. "It seemed best that I
quartered either by myself or among the other warriors, and
I was awaiting an opportunity to ask your advice. As you
know," and I smiled, "I am not yet familiar with all the
customs of the Tharks."
"Come with me," he directed, and together we moved off
across the plaza to a building which I was glad to see
adjoined that occupied by Sola and her charges.
"My quarters are on the first floor of this building," he
said, "and the second floor also is fully occupied by warriors,
but the third floor and the floors above are vacant; you may
take your choice of these.
"I understand," he continued, "that you have given up
your woman to the red prisoner. Well, as you have said,
your ways are not our ways, but you can fight well enough
to do about as you please, and so, if you wish to give your
woman to a captive, it is your own affair; but as a chieftain
you should have those to serve you, and in accordance with
our customs you may select any or all the females from the
retinues of the chieftains whose metal you now wear."
I thanked him, but assured him that I could get alone
very nicely without assistance except in the matter of
preparing food, and so he promised to send women to me for
this purpose and also for the care of my arms and the
manufacture of my ammunition, which he said would be
necessary. I suggested that they might also bring some of
the sleeping silks and furs which belonged to me as spoils of
combat, for the nights were cold and I had none of my own.
He promised to do so, and departed. Left alone, I ascended
the winding corridor to the upper floors in search of
suitable quarters. The beauties of the other buildings were
repeated in this, and, as usual, I was soon lost in a tour of
investigation and discovery.
I finally chose a front room on the third floor, because
this brought me nearer to Dejah Thoris, whose apartment
was on the second floor of the adjoining building, and it
flashed upon me that I could rig up some means of communication
whereby she might signal me in case she needed either my
services or my protection.
Adjoining my sleeping apartment were baths, dressing
rooms, and other sleeping and living apartments, in all some
ten rooms on this floor. The windows of the back rooms
overlooked an enormous court, which formed the center of
the square made by the buildings which faced the four
contiguous streets, and which was now given over to the
quartering of the various animals belonging to the warriors
occupying the adjoining buildings.
While the court was entirely overgrown with the yellow,
moss-like vegetation which blankets practically the entire
surface of Mars, yet numerous fountains, statuary, benches,
and pergola-like contraptions bore witness to the beauty
which the court must have presented in bygone times, when
graced by the fair-haired, laughing people whom stern and
unalterable cosmic laws had driven not only from their homes,
but from all except the vague legends of their descendants.
One could easily picture the gorgeous foliage of the luxuriant
Martian vegetation which once filled this scene with life
and color; the graceful figures of the beautiful women, the
straight and handsome men; the happy frolicking children--
all sunlight, happiness and peace. It was difficult to realize
that they had gone; down through ages of darkness, cruelty,
and ignorance, until their hereditary instincts of culture and
humanitarianism had risen ascendant once more in the final
composite race which now is dominant upon Mars.
My thoughts were cut short by the advent of several
young females bearing loads of weapons, silks, furs, jewels,
cooking utensils, and casks of food and drink, including
considerable loot from the air craft. All this, it seemed, had
been the property of the two chieftains I had slain, and now,
by the customs of the Tharks, it had become mine. At my
direction they placed the stuff in one of the back rooms, and
then departed, only to return with a second load, which
they advised me constituted the balance of my goods. On the
second trip they were accompanied by ten or fifteen other
women and youths, who, it seemed, formed the retinues of
the two chieftains.
They were not their families, nor their wives, nor their
servants; the relationship was peculiar, and so unlike
anything known to us that it is most difficult to describe.
All property among the green Martians is owned in common by
the community, except the personal weapons, ornaments and
sleeping silks and furs of the individuals. These alone can
one claim undisputed right to, nor may he accumulate more
of these than are required for his actual needs. The surplus
he holds merely as custodian, and it is passed on to the
younger members of the community as necessity demands.
The women and children of a man's retinue may be likened
to a military unit for which he is responsible in various
ways, as in matters of instruction, discipline, sustenance, and
the exigencies of their continual roamings and their unending
strife with other communities and with the red Martians.
His women are in no sense wives. The green Martians use no
word corresponding in meaning with this earthly word. Their
mating is a matter of community interest solely, and is
directed without reference to natural selection. The council
of chieftains of each community control the matter as surely as
the owner of a Kentucky racing stud directs the scientific
breeding of his stock for the improvement of the whole.
In theory it may sound well, as is often the case with
theories, but the results of ages of this unnatural practice,
coupled with the community interest in the offspring being
held paramount to that of the mother, is shown in the cold,
cruel creatures, and their gloomy, loveless, mirthless existence.
It is true that the green Martians are absolutely virtuous,
both men and women, with the exception of such degenerates
as Tal Hajus; but better far a finer balance of human
characteristics even at the expense of a slight and
occasional loss of chastity.
Finding that I must assume responsibility for these creatures,
whether I would or not, I made the best of it and directed
them to find quarters on the upper floors, leaving the
third floor to me. One of the girls I charged with the duties
of my simple cuisine, and directed the others to take up
the various activities which had formerly constituted their
vocations. Thereafter I saw little of them, nor did I care to.
CHAPTER XIII. LOVE-MAKING ON MARS
Following the battle with the air ships, the community
remained within the city for several days, abandoning the
homeward march until they could feel reasonably assured
that the ships would not return; for to be caught on the
open plains with a cavalcade of chariots and children was
far from the desire of even so warlike a people as the green
During our period of inactivity, Tars Tarkas had instructed
me in many of the customs and arts of war familiar to the
Tharks, including lessons in riding and guiding the great
beasts which bore the warriors. These creatures, which are
known as thoats, are as dangerous and vicious as their masters,
but when once subdued are sufficiently tractable for the
purposes of the green Martians.
Two of these animals had fallen to me from the warriors
whose metal I wore, and in a short time I could handle them
quite as well as the native warriors. The method was not at
all complicated. If the thoats did not respond with sufficient
celerity to the telepathic instructions of their riders they
were dealt a terrific blow between the ears with the butt of a
pistol, and if they showed fight this treatment was continued
until the brutes either were subdued, or had unseated their
In the latter case it became a life and death struggle
between the man and the beast. If the former were quick
enough with his pistol he might live to ride again, though
upon some other beast; if not, his torn and mangled body
was gathered up by his women and burned in accordance
with Tharkian custom.
My experience with Woola determined me to attempt the
experiment of kindness in my treatment of my thoats. First I
taught them that they could not unseat me, and even rapped
them sharply between the ears to impress upon them my
authority and mastery. Then, by degrees, I won their
confidence in much the same manner as I had adopted countless
times with my many mundane mounts. I was ever a good hand
with animals, and by inclination, as well as because
it brought more lasting and satisfactory results, I was
always kind and humane in my dealings with the lower orders.
I could take a human life, if necessary, with far less compunction
than that of a poor, unreasoning, irresponsible brute.
In the course of a few days my thoats were the wonder
of the entire community. They would follow me like dogs,
rubbing their great snouts against my body in awkward evidence
of affection, and respond to my every command with an alacrity
and docility which caused the Martian warriors to ascribe to me
the possession of some earthly power unknown on Mars.
"How have you bewitched them?" asked Tars Tarkas one
afternoon, when he had seen me run my arm far between
the great jaws of one of my thoats which had wedged a
piece of stone between two of his teeth while feeding upon
the moss-like vegetation within our court yard.
"By kindness," I replied. "You see, Tars Tarkas, the softer
sentiments have their value, even to a warrior. In the height
of battle as well as upon the march I know that my thoats
will obey my every command, and therefore my fighting
efficiency is enhanced, and I am a better warrior for the
reason that I am a kind master. Your other warriors would find
it to the advantage of themselves as well as of the community
to adopt my methods in this respect. Only a few days since you,
yourself, told me that these great brutes, by the uncertainty
of their tempers, often were the means of turning victory
into defeat, since, at a crucial moment, they might elect
to unseat and rend their riders."
"Show me how you accomplish these results," was Tars Tarkas'
And so I explained as carefully as I could the entire
method of training I had adopted with my beasts, and later
he had me repeat it before Lorquas Ptomel and the assembled
warriors. That moment marked the beginning of a new existence
for the poor thoats, and before I left the community of
Lorquas Ptomel I had the satisfaction of observing a regiment
of as tractable and docile mounts as one might care to
see. The effect on the precision and celerity of the military
movements was so remarkable that Lorquas Ptomel presented
me with a massive anklet of gold from his own leg, as a sign
of his appreciation of my service to the horde.
On the seventh day following the battle with the air craft
we again took up the march toward Thark, all probability of
another attack being deemed remote by Lorquas Ptomel.
During the days just preceding our departure I had seen
but little of Dejah Thoris, as I had been kept very busy by
Tars Tarkas with my lessons in the art of Martian warfare,
as well as in the training of my thoats. The few times I had
visited her quarters she had been absent, walking upon the
streets with Sola, or investigating the buildings in the near
vicinity of the plaza. I had warned them against venturing
far from the plaza for fear of the great white apes, whose
ferocity I was only too well acquainted with. However, since
Woola accompanied them on all their excursions, and as
Sola was well armed, there was comparatively little cause for
On the evening before our departure I saw them approaching
along one of the great avenues which lead into the
plaza from the east. I advanced to meet them, and telling
Sola that I would take the responsibility for Dejah Thoris'
safekeeping, I directed her to return to her quarters on some
trivial errand. I liked and trusted Sola, but for some reason I
desired to be alone with Dejah Thoris, who represented to
me all that I had left behind upon Earth in agreeable and
congenial companionship. There seemed bonds of mutual
interest between us as powerful as though we had been born
under the same roof rather than upon different planets,
hurtling through space some forty-eight million miles apart.
That she shared my sentiments in this respect I was positive,
for on my approach the look of pitiful hopelessness left
her sweet countenance to be replaced by a smile of joyful
welcome, as she placed her little right hand upon my left
shoulder in true red Martian salute.
"Sarkoja told Sola that you had become a true Thark," she
said, "and that I would now see no more of you than of any
of the other warriors."
"Sarkoja is a liar of the first magnitude," I replied,
"notwithstanding the proud claim of the Tharks to
Dejah Thoris laughed.
"I knew that even though you became a member of the
community you would not cease to be my friend; 'A warrior
may change his metal, but not his heart,' as the saying
is upon Barsoom."
"I think they have been trying to keep us apart," she
continued, "for whenever you have been off duty one of the
older women of Tars Tarkas' retinue has always arranged to
trump up some excuse to get Sola and me out of sight.
They have had me down in the pits below the buildings
helping them mix their awful radium powder, and make their
terrible projectiles. You know that these have to be
manufactured by artificial light, as exposure to sunlight always
results in an explosion. You have noticed that their bullets
explode when they strike an object? Well, the opaque, outer
coating is broken by the impact, exposing a glass cylinder,
almost solid, in the forward end of which is a minute particle
of radium powder. The moment the sunlight, even though
diffused, strikes this powder it explodes with a violence which
nothing can withstand. If you ever witness a night battle
you will note the absence of these explosions, while the
morning following the battle will be filled at sunrise with the
sharp detonations of exploding missiles fired the preceding
night. As a rule, however, non-exploding projectiles are used
While I was much interested in Dejah Thoris' explanation
of this wonderful adjunct to Martian warfare, I was more
concerned by the immediate problem of their treatment of
her. That they were keeping her away from me was not a
matter for surprise, but that they should subject her to
dangerous and arduous labor filled me with rage.
"Have they ever subjected you to cruelty and ignominy,
Dejah Thoris?" I asked, feeling the hot blood of my fighting
ancestors leap in my veins as I awaited her reply.
"Only in little ways, John Carter," she answered. "Nothing
that can harm me outside my pride. They know that I am
the daughter of ten thousand jeddaks, that I trace my
ancestry straight back without a break to the builder of
the first great waterway, and they, who do not even know
their own mothers, are jealous of me. At heart they hate
their horrid fates, and so wreak their poor spite on me who
stand for everything they have not, and for all they most
crave and never can attain. Let us pity them, my chieftain,
for even though we die at their hands we can afford them
pity, since we are greater than they and they know it."
Had I known the significance of those words "my chieftain,"
as applied by a red Martian woman to a man, I should have
had the surprise of my life, but I did not know at that time,
nor for many months thereafter. Yes, I still had much to
learn upon Barsoom.
"I presume it is the better part of wisdom that we bow to
our fate with as good grace as possible, Dejah Thoris; but I
hope, nevertheless, that I may be present the next time that
any Martian, green, red, pink, or violet, has the temerity to
even so much as frown on you, my princess."
Dejah Thoris caught her breath at my last words, and
I have used the word radium in describing this powder because in
the light of recent discoveries on Earth I believe it to be a mixture of
which radium is the base. In Captain Carter's manuscript it is mentioned
always by the name used in the written language of Helium and is
spelled in hieroglyphics which it would be difficult and useless to
gazed upon me with dilated eyes and quickening breath, and
then, with an odd little laugh, which brought roguish dimples
to the corners of her mouth, she shook her head and cried:
"What a child! A great warrior and yet a stumbling little
"What have I done now?" I asked, in sore perplexity.
"Some day you shall know, John Carter, if we live; but
I may not tell you. And I, the daughter of Mors Kajak, son of
Tardos Mors, have listened without anger," she soliloquized
Then she broke out again into one of her gay, happy, laughing moods;
joking with me on my prowess as a Thark warrior as contrasted with
my soft heart and natural kindliness.
"I presume that should you accidentally wound an enemy
you would take him home and nurse him back to health,"
"That is precisely what we do on Earth," I answered.
"At least among civilized men."
This made her laugh again. She could not understand it,
for, with all her tenderness and womanly sweetness, she was
still a Martian, and to a Martian the only good enemy is a
dead enemy; for every dead foeman means so much more to
divide between those who live.
I was very curious to know what I had said or done to
cause her so much perturbation a moment before and so I
continued to importune her to enlighten me.
"No," she exclaimed, "it is enough that you have said it
and that I have listened. And when you learn, John Carter,
and if I be dead, as likely I shall be ere the further
moon has circled Barsoom another twelve times, remember
that I listened and that I--smiled."
It was all Greek to me, but the more I begged her to
explain the more positive became her denials of my request,
and, so, in very hopelessness, I desisted.
Day had now given away to night and as we wandered
along the great avenue lighted by the two moons of
Barsoom, and with Earth looking down upon us out of her
luminous green eye, it seemed that we were alone in the
universe, and I, at least, was content that it should be so.
The chill of the Martian night was upon us, and removing
my silks I threw them across the shoulders of Dejah
Thoris. As my arm rested for an instant upon her I felt a
thrill pass through every fiber of my being such as contact
with no other mortal had even produced; and it seemed to
me that she had leaned slightly toward me, but of that I
was not sure. Only I knew that as my arm rested there
across her shoulders longer than the act of adjusting the
silk required she did not draw away, nor did she speak.
And so, in silence, we walked the surface of a dying world,
but in the breast of one of us at least had been born that
which is ever oldest, yet ever new.
I loved Dejah Thoris. The touch of my arm upon her naked
shoulder had spoken to me in words I would not mistake,
and I knew that I had loved her since the first moment
that my eyes had met hers that first time in the plaza
of the dead city of Korad.
CHAPTER XIV. A DUEL TO THE DEATH
My first impulse was to tell her of my love, and then I
thought of the helplessness of her position wherein I alone
could lighten the burdens of her captivity, and protect her in
my poor way against the thousands of hereditary enemies
she must face upon our arrival at Thark. I could not chance
causing her additional pain or sorrow by declaring a love
which, in all probability she did not return. Should I be so
indiscreet, her position would be even more unbearable than
now, and the thought that she might feel that I was taking
advantage of her helplessness, to influence her decision was
the final argument which sealed my lips.
"Why are you so quiet, Dejah Thoris?" I asked. "Possibly
you would rather return to Sola and your quarters."
"No," she murmured, "I am happy here. I do not know
why it is that I should always be happy and contented
when you, John Carter, a stranger, are with me; yet at such
times it seems that I am safe and that, with you, I shall soon
return to my father's court and feel his strong arms about me
and my mother's tears and kisses on my cheek."
"Do people kiss, then, upon Barsoom?" I asked, when she
had explained the word she used, in answer to my inquiry as
to its meaning.
"Parents, brothers, and sisters, yes; and," she added in a
low, thoughtful tone, "lovers."
"And you, Dejah Thoris, have parents and brothers and
She was silent, nor could I venture to repeat the question.
"The man of Barsoom," she finally ventured, "does not
ask personal questions of women, except his mother, and the
woman he has fought for and won."
"But I have fought--" I started, and then I wished my
tongue had been cut from my mouth; for she turned even as
I caught myself and ceased, and drawing my silks from her
shoulder she held them out to me, and without a word, and
with head held high, she moved with the carriage of the
queen she was toward the plaza and the doorway of her
I did not attempt to follow her, other than to see that she
reached the building in safety, but, directing Woola to
accompany her, I turned disconsolately and entered my own house.
I sat for hours cross-legged, and cross-tempered, upon my silks
meditating upon the queer freaks chance plays upon us poor
devils of mortals.
So this was love! I had escaped it for all the years I had
roamed the five continents and their encircling seas; in spite
of beautiful women and urging opportunity; in spite of a half-
desire for love and a constant search for my ideal, it had
remained for me to fall furiously and hopelessly in love with a
creature from another world, of a species similar possibly,
yet not identical with mine. A woman who was hatched from
an egg, and whose span of life might cover a thousand years;
whose people had strange customs and ideas; a woman whose
hopes, whose pleasures, whose standards of virtue and of
right and wrong might vary as greatly from mine as did those
of the green Martians.
Yes, I was a fool, but I was in love, and though I was
suffering the greatest misery I had ever known I would not
have had it otherwise for all the riches of Barsoom. Such is
love, and such are lovers wherever love is known.
To me, Dejah Thoris was all that was perfect; all that was
virtuous and beautiful and noble and good. I believed that
from the bottom of my heart, from the depth of my soul on
that night in Korad as I sat cross-legged upon my silks while
the nearer moon of Barsoom raced through the western sky
toward the horizon, and lighted up the gold and marble, and
jeweled mosaics of my world-old chamber, and I believe it
today as I sit at my desk in the little study overlooking the
Hudson. Twenty years have intervened; for ten of them I
lived and fought for Dejah Thoris and her people, and for
ten I have lived upon her memory.
The morning of our departure for Thark dawned clear
and hot, as do all Martian mornings except for the six weeks
when the snow melts at the poles.
I sought out Dejah Thoris in the throng of departing chariots,
but she turned her shoulder to me, and I could see the red blood
mount to her cheek. With the foolish inconsistency
of love I held my peace when I might have plead ignorance
of the nature of my offense, or at least the gravity of it,
and so have effected, at worst, a half conciliation.
My duty dictated that I must see that she was comfortable,
and so I glanced into her chariot and rearranged her silks
and furs. In doing so I noted with horror that she was
heavily chained by one ankle to the side of the vehicle.
"What does this mean?" I cried, turning to Sola.
"Sarkoja thought it best," she answered, her face betokening
her disapproval of the procedure.
Examining the manacles I saw that they fastened with a
massive spring lock.
"Where is the key, Sola? Let me have it."
"Sarkoja wears it, John Carter," she answered.
I turned without further word and sought out Tars Tarkas,
to whom I vehemently objected to the unnecessary humiliations
and cruelties, as they seemed to my lover's eyes, that were
being heaped upon Dejah Thoris.
"John Carter," he answered, "if ever you and Dejah Thoris
escape the Tharks it will be upon this journey. We know that
you will not go without her. You have shown yourself a
mighty fighter, and we do not wish to manacle you, so we
hold you both in the easiest way that will yet ensure security.
I have spoken."
I saw the strength of his reasoning at a flash, and knew
that it were futile to appeal from his decision, but I asked
that the key be taken from Sarkoja and that she be directed
to leave the prisoner alone in future.
"This much, Tars Tarkas, you may do for me in return for
the friendship that, I must confess, I feel for you."
"Friendship?" he replied. "There is no such thing, John
Carter; but have your will. I shall direct that Sarkoja cease
to annoy the girl, and I myself will take the custody of the
"Unless you wish me to assume the responsibility," I said,
He looked at me long and earnestly before he spoke.
"Were you to give me your word that neither you nor
Dejah Thoris would attempt to escape until after we have
safely reached the court of Tal Hajus you might have the
key and throw the chains into the river Iss."
"It were better that you held the key, Tars Tarkas," I replied
He smiled, and said no more, but that night as we were
making camp I saw him unfasten Dejah Thoris' fetters himself.
With all his cruel ferocity and coldness there was an
undercurrent of something in Tars Tarkas which he seemed
ever battling to subdue. Could it be a vestige of some human
instinct come back from an ancient forbear to haunt him
with the horror of his people's ways!
As I was approaching Dejah Thoris' chariot I passed Sarkoja,
and the black, venomous look she accorded me was the sweetest
balm I had felt for many hours. Lord, how she hated me!
It bristled from her so palpably that one might almost
have cut it with a sword.
A few moments later I saw her deep in conversation with
a warrior named Zad; a big, hulking, powerful brute, but
one who had never made a kill among his own chieftains, and
a second name only with the metal of some chieftain. It was
this custom which entitled me to the names of either of the
chieftains I had killed; in fact, some of the warriors
addressed me as Dotar Sojat, a combination of the surnames
of the two warrior chieftains whose metal I had taken, or, in
other words, whom I had slain in fair fight.
As Sarkoja talked with Zad he cast occasional glances in
my direction, while she seemed to be urging him very strongly
to some action. I paid little attention to it at the time, but
the next day I had good reason to recall the circumstances,
and at the same time gain a slight insight into the depths of
Sarkoja's hatred and the lengths to which she was capable of
going to wreak her horrid vengeance on me.
Dejah Thoris would have none of me again on this evening,
and though I spoke her name she neither replied, nor conceded
by so much as the flutter of an eyelid that she realized
my existence. In my extremity I did what most other lovers
would have done; I sought word from her through an intimate.
In this instance it was Sola whom I intercepted in another
part of camp.
"What is the matter with Dejah Thoris?" I blurted out at her.
"Why will she not speak to me?"
Sola seemed puzzled herself, as though such strange actions
on the part of two humans were quite beyond her, as indeed
they were, poor child.
"She says you have angered her, and that is all she will
say, except that she is the daughter of a jed and the grand-
daughter of a jeddak and she has been humiliated by a
creature who could not polish the teeth of her grandmother's
I pondered over this report for some time, finally asking,
"What might a sorak be, Sola?"
"A little animal about as big as my hand, which the red
Martian women keep to play with," explained Sola.
Not fit to polish the teeth of her grandmother's cat! I must
rank pretty low in the consideration of Dejah Thoris, I
thought; but I could not help laughing at the strange figure
of speech, so homely and in this respect so earthly. It made
me homesick, for it sounded very much like "not fit to polish
her shoes." And then commenced a train of thought quite
new to me. I began to wonder what my people at home were doing.
I had not seen them for years. There was a family of
Carters in Virginia who claimed close relationship with me;
I was supposed to be a great uncle, or something of the
kind equally foolish. I could pass anywhere for twenty-five
to thirty years of age, and to be a great uncle always seemed
the height of incongruity, for my thoughts and feelings were
those of a boy. There was two little kiddies in the Carter
family whom I had loved and who had thought there was
no one on Earth like Uncle Jack; I could see them just as
plainly, as I stood there under the moonlit skies of Barsoom,
and I longed for them as I had never longed for any mortals
before. By nature a wanderer, I had never known the
true meaning of the word home, but the great hall of the
Carters had always stood for all that the word did mean to
me, and now my heart turned toward it from the cold and
unfriendly peoples I had been thrown amongst. For did not
even Dejah Thoris despise me! I was a low creature, so low
in fact that I was not even fit to polish the teeth of her
grandmother's cat; and then my saving sense of humor came
to my rescue, and laughing I turned into my silks and furs
and slept upon the moon-haunted ground the sleep of a tired
and healthy fighting man.
We broke camp the next day at an early hour and marched
with only a single halt until just before dark. Two incidents
broke the tediousness of the march. About noon we espied
far to our right what was evidently an incubator, and Lorquas
Ptomel directed Tars Tarkas to investigate it. The latter
took a dozen warriors, including myself, and we raced across
the velvety carpeting of moss to the little enclosure.
It was indeed an incubator, but the eggs were very small
in comparison with those I had seen hatching in ours at the
time of my arrival on Mars.
Tars Tarkas dismounted and examined the enclosure minutely,
finally announcing that it belonged to the green men
of Warhoon and that the cement was scarcely dry where it
had been walled up.
"They cannot be a day's march ahead of us," he exclaimed,
the light of battle leaping to his fierce face.
The work at the incubator was short indeed. The warriors
tore open the entrance and a couple of them, crawling
in, soon demolished all the eggs with their short-swords.
Then remounting we dashed back to join the cavalcade.
During the ride I took occasion to ask Tars Tarkas if these
Warhoons whose eggs we had destroyed were a smaller people
than his Tharks.
"I noticed that their eggs were so much smaller than those
I saw hatching in your incubator," I added.
He explained that the eggs had just been placed there; but,
like all green Martian eggs, they would grow during the
five-year period of incubation until they obtained the size of
those I had seen hatching on the day of my arrival on Barsoom.
This was indeed an interesting piece of information,
for it had always seemed remarkable to me that the green
Martian women, large as they were, could bring forth such
enormous eggs as I had seen the four-foot infants emerging
from. As a matter of fact, the new-laid egg is but little larger
than an ordinary goose egg, and as it does not commence to
grow until subjected to the light of the sun the chieftains
have little difficulty in transporting several hundreds of them
at one time from the storage vaults to the incubators.
Shortly after the incident of the Warhoon eggs we halted
to rest the animals, and it was during this halt that the
second of the day's interesting episodes occurred. I was
engaged in changing my riding cloths from one of my thoats
to the other, for I divided the day's work between them,
when Zad approached me, and without a word struck my
animal a terrific blow with his long-sword.
I did not need a manual of green Martian etiquette to know
what reply to make, for, in fact, I was so wild with anger
that I could scarcely refrain from drawing my pistol and
shooting him down for the brute he was; but he stood waiting
with drawn long-sword, and my only choice was to draw my own
and meet him in fair fight with his choice of weapons or
a lesser one.
This latter alternative is always permissible, therefore I
could have used my short-sword, my dagger, my hatchet, or
my fists had I wished, and been entirely within my rights,
but I could not use firearms or a spear while he held only
I chose the same weapon he had drawn because I knew he
prided himself upon his ability with it, and I wished, if I
worsted him at all, to do it with his own weapon. The fight
that followed was a long one and delayed the resumption of
the march for an hour. The entire community surrounded
us, leaving a clear space about one hundred feet in diameter
for our battle.
Zad first attempted to rush me down as a bull might a
wolf, but I was much too quick for him, and each time I
side-stepped his rushes he would go lunging past me, only
to receive a nick from my sword upon his arm or back. He
was soon streaming blood from a half dozen minor wounds,
but I could not obtain an opening to deliver an effective
thrust. Then he changed his tactics, and fighting warily and
with extreme dexterity, he tried to do by science what he
was unable to do by brute strength. I must admit that he was
a magnificent swordsman, and had it not been for my greater
endurance and the remarkable agility the lesser gravitation
of Mars lent me I might not have been able to put up the
creditable fight I did against him.
We circled for some time without doing much damage on
either side; the long, straight, needle-like swords flashing in
the sunlight, and ringing out upon the stillness as they
crashed together with each effective parry. Finally Zad,
realizing that he was tiring more than I, evidently decided to
close in and end the battle in a final blaze of glory for himself;
just as he rushed me a blinding flash of light struck full
in my eyes, so that I could not see his approach and could
only leap blindly to one side in an effort to escape the
mighty blade that it seemed I could already feel in my vitals.
I was only partially successful, as a sharp pain in my left
shoulder attested, but in the sweep of my glance as I sought
to again locate my adversary, a sight met my astonished
gaze which paid me well for the wound the temporary blindness
had caused me. There, upon Dejah Thoris' chariot
stood three figures, for the purpose evidently of witnessing
the encounter above the heads of the intervening Tharks.
There were Dejah Thoris, Sola, and Sarkoja, and as my
fleeting glance swept over them a little tableau was presented
which will stand graven in my memory to the day of my death.
As I looked, Dejah Thoris turned upon Sarkoja with the
fury of a young tigress and struck something from her
upraised hand; something which flashed in the sunlight as
it spun to the ground. Then I knew what had blinded me at
that crucial moment of the fight, and how Sarkoja had found
a way to kill me without herself delivering the final thrust.
Another thing I saw, too, which almost lost my life for me
then and there, for it took my mind for the fraction of an
instant entirely from my antagonist; for, as Dejah Thoris
struck the tiny mirror from her hand, Sarkoja, her face livid
with hatred and baffled rage, whipped out her dagger and
aimed a terrific blow at Dejah Thoris; and then Sola, our dear
and faithful Sola, sprang between them; the last I saw was
the great knife descending upon her shielding breast.
My enemy had recovered from his thrust and was making it
extremely interesting for me, so I reluctantly gave my
attention to the work in hand, but my mind was not upon the
We rushed each other furiously time after time, 'til suddenly,
feeling the sharp point of his sword at my breast in a thrust
I could neither parry nor escape, I threw myself upon him
with outstretched sword and with all the weight of my
body, determined that I would not die alone if I could
prevent it. I felt the steel tear into my chest, all went
black before me, my head whirled in dizziness, and I felt my
knees giving beneath me.
CHAPTER XV. SOLA TELLS ME HER STORY
When consciousness returned, and, as I soon learned, I was
down but a moment, I sprang quickly to my feet searching
for my sword, and there I found it, buried to the hilt in the
green breast of Zad, who lay stone dead upon the ochre
moss of the ancient sea bottom. As I regained my full senses
I found his weapon piercing my left breast, but only through
the flesh and muscles which cover my ribs, entering near
the center of my chest and coming out below the shoulder.
As I had lunged I had turned so that his sword merely
passed beneath the muscles, inflicting a painful but not
Removing the blade from my body I also regained my
own, and turning my back upon his ugly carcass, I moved,
sick, sore, and disgusted, toward the chariots which bore my
retinue and my belongings. A murmur of Martian applause
greeted me, but I cared not for it.
Bleeding and weak I reached my women, who, accustomed to
such happenings, dressed my wounds, applying the wonderful
healing and remedial agents which make only the most
instantaneous of death blows fatal. Give a Martian woman
a chance and death must take a back seat. They soon had
me patched up so that, except for weakness from loss of
blood and a little soreness around the wound, I suffered no
great distress from this thrust which, under earthly treatment,
undoubtedly would have put me flat on my back for days.
As soon as they were through with me I hastened to the
chariot of Dejah Thoris, where I found my poor Sola with
her chest swathed in bandages, but apparently little the
worse for her encounter with Sarkoja, whose dagger it seemed
had struck the edge of one of Sola's metal breast ornaments
and, thus deflected, had inflicted but a slight flesh wound.
As I approached I found Dejah Thoris lying prone upon
her silks and furs, her lithe form wracked with sobs. She did
not notice my presence, nor did she hear me speaking with
Sola, who was standing a short distance from the vehicle.
"Is she injured?" I asked of sola, indicating Dejah Thoris
by an inclination of my head.
"No," she answered, "she thinks that you are dead."
"And that her grandmother's cat may now have no one to
polish its teeth?" I queried, smiling.
"I think you wrong her, John Carter," said Sola. "I do not
understand either her ways or yours, but I am sure the
granddaughter of ten thousand jeddaks would never grieve
like this over any who held but the highest claim upon her
affections. They are a proud race, but they are just, as are
all Barsoomians, and you must have hurt or wronged her
grievously that she will not admit your existence living,
though she mourns you dead.
"Tears are a strange sight upon Barsoom," she continued,
"and so it is difficult for me to interpret them. I have seen
but two people weep in all my life, other than Dejah Thoris;
one wept from sorrow, the other from baffled rage. The first
was my mother, years ago before they killed her; the other
was Sarkoja, when they dragged her from me today."
"Your mother!" I exclaimed, "but, Sola, you could not
have known your mother, child."
"But I did. And my father also," she added. "If you
would like to hear the strange and un-Barsoomian story
come to the chariot tonight, John Carter, and I will tell you
that of which I have never spoken in all my life before. And
now the signal has been given to resume the march, you
"I will come tonight, Sola," I promised. "Be sure to tell
Dejah Thoris I am alive and well. I shall not force myself
upon her, and be sure that you do not let her know I saw her tears.
If she would speak with me I but await her command.
Sola mounted the chariot, which was swinging into its place
in line, and I hastened to my waiting thoat and galloped
to my station beside Tars Tarkas at the rear of the column.
We made a most imposing and awe-inspiring spectacle as
we strung out across the yellow landscape; the two hundred
and fifty ornate and brightly colored chariots, preceded by
an advance guard of some two hundred mounted warriors
and chieftains riding five abreast and one hundred yards
apart, and followed by a like number in the same formation,
with a score or more of flankers on either side; the fifty extra
mastodons, or heavy draught animals, known as zitidars,
and the five or six hundred extra thoats of the warriors
running loose within the hollow square formed by the
surrounding warriors. The gleaming metal and jewels of
the gorgeous ornaments of the men and women, duplicated in
the trappings of the zitidars and thoats, and interspersed
with the flashing colors of magnificent silks and furs and
feathers, lent a barbaric splendor to the caravan which would
have turned an East Indian potentate green with envy.
The enormous broad tires of the chariots and the padded
feet of the animals brought forth no sound from the moss-
covered sea bottom; and so we moved in utter silence, like
some huge phantasmagoria, except when the stillness was
broken by the guttural growling of a goaded zitidar, or the
squealing of fighting thoats. The green Martians converse
but little, and then usually in monosyllables, low and like
the faint rumbling of distant thunder.
We traversed a trackless waste of moss which, bending to
the pressure of broad tire or padded foot, rose up again
behind us, leaving no sign that we had passed. We might
indeed have been the wraiths of the departed dead upon the
dead sea of that dying planet for all the sound or sign we
made in passing. It was the first march of a large body of
men and animals I had ever witnessed which raised no dust
and left no spoor; for there is no dust upon Mars except in
the cultivated districts during the winter months, and even
then the absence of high winds renders it almost unnoticeable.
We camped that night at the foot of the hills we had been
approaching for two days and which marked the southern
boundary of this particular sea. Our animals had been two
days without drink, nor had they had water for nearly two
months, not since shortly after leaving Thark; but, as Tars
Tarkas explained to me, they require but little and can live
almost indefinitely upon the moss which covers Barsoom, and
which, he told me, holds in its tiny stems sufficient moisture
to meet the limited demands of the animals.
After partaking of my evening meal of cheese-like food
and vegetable milk I sought out Sola, whom I found working
by the light of a torch upon some of Tars Tarkas' trappings.
She looked up at my approach, her face lighting with pleasure
and with welcome.
"I am glad you came," she said; "Dejah Thoris sleeps and
I am lonely. Mine own people do not care for me, John Carter;
I am too unlike them. It is a sad fate, since I must live
my life amongst them, and I often wish that I were a true
green Martian woman, without love and without hope; but I
have known love and so I am lost.
"I promised to tell you my story, or rather the story of
my parents. From what I have learned of you and the ways
of your people I am sure that the tale will not seem strange
to you, but among green Martians it has no parallel within
the memory of the oldest living Thark, nor do our legends
hold many similar tales.
"My mother was rather small, in fact too small to be allowed
the responsibilities of maternity, as our chieftains breed
principally for size. She was also less cold and cruel
than most green Martian women, and caring little for their
society, she often roamed the deserted avenues of Thark
alone, or went and sat among the wild flowers that deck
the nearby hills, thinking thoughts and wishing wishes
which I believe I alone among Tharkian women today may
understand, for am I not the child of my mother?
"And there among the hills she met a young warrior, whose
duty it was to guard the feeding zitidars and thoats and see
that they roamed not beyond the hills. They spoke at first
only of such things as interest a community of Tharks, but
gradually, as they came to meet more often, and, as was
now quite evident to both, no longer by chance, they talked
about themselves, their likes, their ambitions and their hopes.
She trusted him and told him of the awful repugnance she
felt for the cruelties of their kind, for the hideous, loveless
lives they must ever lead, and then she waited for the storm
of denunciation to break from his cold, hard lips; but instead
he took her in his arms and kissed her.
"They kept their love a secret for six long years. She, my
mother, was of the retinue of the great Tal Hajus, while her
lover was a simple warrior, wearing only his own metal.
Had their defection from the traditions of the Tharks been
discovered both would have paid the penalty in the great
arena before Tal Hajus and the assembled hordes.
"The egg from which I came was hidden beneath a great
glass vessel upon the highest and most inaccessible of the
partially ruined towers of ancient Thark. Once each year my
mother visited it for the five long years it lay there in the
process of incubation. She dared not come oftener, for in the
mighty guilt of her conscience she feared that her every
move was watched. During this period my father gained great
distinction as a warrior and had taken the metal from several
chieftains. His love for my mother had never diminished,
and his own ambition in life was to reach a point where
he might wrest the metal from Tal Hajus himself, and thus,
as ruler of the Tharks, be free to claim her as his own,
as well as, by the might of his power, protect the child
which otherwise would be quickly dispatched should the
truth become known.
"It was a wild dream, that of wresting the metal from Tal
Hajus in five short years, but his advance was rapid, and he
soon stood high in the councils of Thark. But one day the
chance was lost forever, in so far as it could come in time
to save his loved ones, for he was ordered away upon a long
expedition to the ice-clad south, to make war upon the
natives there and despoil them of their furs, for such is
the manner of the green Barsoomian; he does not labor for
what he can wrest in battle from others.
"He was gone for four years, and when he returned all
had been over for three; for about a year after his departure,
and shortly before the time for the return of an expedition
which had gone forth to fetch the fruits of a community
incubator, the egg had hatched. Thereafter my mother
continued to keep me in the old tower, visiting me nightly
and lavishing upon me the love the community life would
have robbed us both of. She hoped, upon the return of the
expedition from the incubator, to mix me with the other young
assigned to the quarters of Tal Hajus, and thus escape the
fate which would surely follow discovery of her sin against
the ancient traditions of the green men.
"She taught me rapidly the language and customs of my kind,
and one night she told me the story I have told to you up to
this point, impressing upon me the necessity for absolute
secrecy and the great caution I must exercise after she had
placed me with the other young Tharks to permit no one to
guess that I was further advanced in education than they,
nor by any sign to divulge in the presence of others my
affection for her, or my knowledge of my parentage; and
then drawing me close to her she whispered in my ear the
name of my father.
"And then a light flashed out upon the darkness of the
tower chamber, and there stood Sarkoja, her gleaming,
baleful eyes fixed in a frenzy of loathing and contempt
upon my mother. The torrent of hatred and abuse she
poured out upon her turned my young heart cold in terror.
That she had heard the entire story was apparent, and that
she had suspected something wrong from my mother's long nightly
absences from her quarters accounted for her presence there
on that fateful night.
"One thing she had not heard, nor did she know, the
whispered name of my father. This was apparent from her
repeated demands upon my mother to disclose the name of
her partner in sin, but no amount of abuse or threats could
wring this from her, and to save me from needless torture
she lied, for she told Sarkoja that she alone knew nor would
she even tell her child.
"With final imprecations, Sarkoja hastened away to Tal
Hajus to report her discovery, and while she was gone my
mother, wrapping me in the silks and furs of her night coverings,
so that I was scarcely noticeable, descended to the streets
and ran wildly away toward the outskirts of the city,
in the direction which led to the far south, out toward the
man whose protection she might not claim, but on whose
face she wished to look once more before she died.
"As we neared the city's southern extremity a sound came
to us from across the mossy flat, from the direction of the
only pass through the hills which led to the gates, the pass
by which caravans from either north or south or east or
west would enter the city. The sounds we heard were the
squealing of thoats and the grumbling of zitidars, with the
occasional clank of arms which announced the approach of
a body of warriors. The thought uppermost in her mind was
that it was my father returned from his expedition, but the
cunning of the Thark held her from headlong and precipitate
flight to greet him.
"Retreating into the shadows of a doorway she awaited the
coming of the cavalcade which shortly entered the avenue,
breaking its formation and thronging the thoroughfare
from wall to wall. As the head of the procession passed us
the lesser moon swung clear of the overhanging roofs and lit
up the scene with all the brilliancy of her wondrous light.
My mother shrank further back into the friendly shadows,
and from her hiding place saw that the expedition was not
that of my father, but the returning caravan bearing the
young Tharks. Instantly her plan was formed, and as a great
chariot swung close to our hiding place she slipped stealthily
in upon the trailing tailboard, crouching low in the shadow
of the high side, straining me to her bosom in a frenzy of
"She knew, what I did not, that never again after that
night would she hold me to her breast, nor was it likely we
would ever look upon each other's face again. In the
confusion of the plaza she mixed me with the other children,
whose guardians during the journey were now free to relinquish
their responsibility. We were herded together into a great room,
fed by women who had not accompanied the expedition, and the next
day we were parceled out among the retinues of the chieftains.
"I never saw my mother after that night. She was imprisoned
by Tal Hajus, and every effort, including the most horrible
and shameful torture, was brought to bear upon her to wring
from her lips the name of my father; but she remained
steadfast and loyal, dying at last amidst the laughter of
Tal Hajus and his chieftains during some awful torture
she was undergoing.
"I learned afterwards that she told them that she had
killed me to save me from a like fate at their hands, and
that she had thrown my body to the white apes. Sarkoja
alone disbelieved her, and I feel to this day that she suspects
my true origin, but does not dare expose me, at the present,
at all events, because she also guesses, I am sure, the identity
of my father.
"When he returned from his expedition and learned the story
of my mother's fate I was present as Tal Hajus told him;
but never by the quiver of a muscle did he betray the slightest
emotion; only he did not laugh as Tal Hajus gleefully
described her death struggles. From that moment on he was
the cruelest of the cruel, and I am awaiting the day when
he shall win the goal of his ambition, and feel the carcass of
Tal Hajus beneath his foot, for I am as sure that he but
waits the opportunity to wreak a terrible vengeance, and that
his great love is as strong in his breast as when it first
transfigured him nearly forty years ago, as I am that we sit
here upon the edge of a world-old ocean while sensible people
sleep, John Carter."
"And your father, Sola, is he with us now?" I asked.
"Yes," she replied, "but he does not know me for what I
am, nor does he know who betrayed my mother to Tal Hajus.
I alone know my father's name, and only I and Tal Hajus
and Sarkoja know that it was she who carried the tale that
brought death and torture upon her he loved."
We sat silent for a few moments, she wrapped in the
gloomy thoughts of her terrible past, and I in pity for the
poor creatures whom the heartless, senseless customs of their
race had doomed to loveless lives of cruelty and of hate.
Presently she spoke.
"John Carter, if ever a real man walked the cold, dead
bosom of Barsoom you are one. I know that I can trust you,
and because the knowledge may someday help you or him
or Dejah Thoris or myself, I am going to tell you the name
of my father, nor place any restrictions or conditions upon
your tongue. When the time comes, speak the truth if it
seems best to you. I trust you because I know that you are
not cursed with the terrible trait of absolute and unswerving
truthfulness, that you could lie like one of your own Virginia
gentlemen if a lie would save others from sorrow or suffering.
My father's name is Tars Tarkas."
CHAPTER XVI. WE PLAN ESCAPE
The remainder of our journey to Thark was uneventful.
We were twenty days upon the road, crossing two sea bottoms
and passing through or around a number of ruined cities,
mostly smaller than Korad. Twice we crossed the famous
Martian waterways, or canals, so-called by our earthly
astronomers. When we approached these points a warrior
would be sent far ahead with a powerful field glass, and if
no great body of red Martian troops was in sight we would
advance as close as possible without chance of being seen and
then camp until dark, when we would slowly approach the
cultivated tract, and, locating one of the numerous, broad
highways which cross these areas at regular intervals, creep
silently and stealthily across to the arid lands upon the other
side. It required five hours to make one of these crossings
without a single halt, and the other consumed the entire night,
so that we were just leaving the confines of the high-walled
fields when the sun broke out upon us.
Crossing in the darkness, as we did, I was unable to see
but little, except as the nearer moon, in her wild and
ceaseless hurtling through the Barsoomian heavens, lit up
little patches of the landscape from time to time, disclosing
walled fields and low, rambling buildings, presenting much
the appearance of earthly farms. There were many trees,
methodically arranged, and some of them were of enormous height;
there were animals in some of the enclosures, and they announced
their presence by terrified squealings and snortings as they
scented our queer, wild beasts and wilder human beings.
Only once did I perceive a human being, and that was
at the intersection of our crossroad with the wide, white
turnpike which cuts each cultivated district longitudinally
at its exact center. The fellow must have been sleeping
beside the road, for, as I came abreast of him, he raised upon
one elbow and after a single glance at the approaching caravan
leaped shrieking to his feet and fled madly down the road,
scaling a nearby wall with the agility of a scared cat.
The Tharks paid him not the slightest attention; they were
not out upon the warpath, and the only sign that I had
that they had seen him was a quickening of the pace of the
caravan as we hastened toward the bordering desert which
marked our entrance into the realm of Tal Hajus.
Not once did I have speech with Dejah Thoris, as she
sent no word to me that I would be welcome at her chariot,
and my foolish pride kept me from making any advances.
I verily believe that a man's way with women is in inverse
ratio to his prowess among men. The weakling and the saphead
have often great ability to charm the fair sex, while the
fighting man who can face a thousand real dangers unafraid,
sits hiding in the shadows like some frightened child.
Just thirty days after my advent upon Barsoom we entered
the ancient city of Thark, from whose long-forgotten
people this horde of green men have stolen even their name.
The hordes of Thark number some thirty thousand souls,
and are divided into twenty-five communities. Each community
has its own jed and lesser chieftains, but all are under
the rule of Tal Hajus, Jeddak of Thark. Five communities
make their headquarters at the city of Thark, and the
balance are scattered among other deserted cities of
ancient Mars throughout the district claimed by Tal Hajus.
We made our entry into the great central plaza early in
the afternoon. There were no enthusiastic friendly greetings
for the returned expedition. Those who chanced to be in
sight spoke the names of warriors or women with whom
they came in direct contact, in the formal greeting of their
kind, but when it was discovered that they brought two
captives a greater interest was aroused, and Dejah Thoris
and I were the centers of inquiring groups.
We were soon assigned to new quarters, and the balance
of the day was devoted to settling ourselves to the changed
conditions. My home now was upon an avenue leading into
the plaza from the south, the main artery down which we
had marched from the gates of the city. I was at the far
end of the square and had an entire building to myself. The
same grandeur of architecture which was so noticeable
a characteristic of Korad was in evidence here, only, if
that were possible, on a larger and richer scale. My quarters
would have been suitable for housing the greatest of earthly
emperors, but to these queer creatures nothing about a building
appealed to them but its size and the enormity of its chambers;
the larger the building, the more desirable; and so Tal Hajus
occupied what must have been an enormous public building, the
largest in the city, but entirely unfitted for residence purposes;
the next largest was reserved for Lorquas Ptomel, the next for the
jed of a lesser rank, and so on to the bottom of the list of five jeds.
The warriors occupied the buildings with the chieftains to whose
retinues they belonged; or, if they preferred, sought shelter
among any of the thousands of untenanted buildings in their own
quarter of town; each community being assigned a certain
section of the city. The selection of building had to be made
in accordance with these divisions, except in so far as the
jeds were concerned, they all occupying edifices which
fronted upon the plaza.
When I had finally put my house in order, or rather seen
that I had been done, it was nearing sunset, and I hastened
out with the intention of locating Sola and her charges, as
I had determined upon having speech with Dejah Thoris
and trying to impress on her the necessity of our at least
patching up a truce until I could find some way of aiding
her to escape. I searched in vain until the upper rim of the
great red sun was just disappearing behind the horizon and
then I spied the ugly head of Woola peering from a second-
story window on the opposite side of the very street where
I was quartered, but nearer the plaza.
Without waiting for a further invitation I bolted up the
winding runway which led to the second floor, and entering
a great chamber at the front of the building was greeted
by the frenzied Woola, who threw his great carcass upon
me, nearly hurling me to the floor; the poor old fellow was
so glad to see me that I thought he would devour me, his
head split from ear to ear, showing his three rows of tusks
in his hobgoblin smile.
Quieting him with a word of command and a caress, I
looked hurriedly through the approaching gloom for a sign
of Dejah Thoris, and then, not seeing her, I called her name.
There was an answering murmur from the far corner of the
apartment, and with a couple of quick strides I was standing
beside her where she crouched among the furs and silks
upon an ancient carved wooden seat. As I waited she rose
to her full height and looking me straight in the eye said:
"What would Dotar Sojat, Thark, of Dejah Thoris his captive?"
"Dejah Thoris, I do not know how I have angered you.
It was furtherest from my desire to hurt or offend you,
whom I had hoped to protect and comfort. Have none of
me if it is your will, but that you must aid me in effecting
your escape, if such a thing be possible, is not my request,
but my command. When you are safe once more at your
father's court you may do with me as you please, but from
now on until that day I am your master, and you must
obey and aid me."
She looked at me long and earnestly and I thought that
she was softening toward me.
"I understand your words, Dotar Sojat," she replied, "but
you I do not understand. You are a queer mixture of child
and man, of brute and noble. I only wish that I might read
"Look down at your feet, Dejah Thoris; it lies there now
where it has lain since that other night at Korad, and where
it will ever lie beating alone for you until death stills it
She took a little step toward me, her beautiful hands
outstretched in a strange, groping gesture.
"What do you mean, John Carter?" she whispered.
"What are you saying to me?"
"I am saying what I had promised myself that I would
not say to you, at least until you were no longer a captive
among the green men; what from your attitude toward me
for the past twenty days I had thought never to say to you;
I am saying, Dejah Thoris, that I am yours, body and soul,
to serve you, to fight for you, and to die for you. Only
one thing I ask of you in return, and that is that you make
no sign, either of condemnation or of approbation of my
words until you are safe among your own people, and that
whatever sentiments you harbor toward me they be not
influenced or colored by gratitude; whatever I may do to
serve you will be prompted solely from selfish motives,
since it gives me more pleasure to serve you than not."
"I will respect your wishes, John Carter, because I
understand the motives which prompt them, and I accept
your service no more willingly than I bow to your authority;
your word shall be my law. I have twice wronged you
in my thoughts and again I ask your forgiveness."
Further conversation of a personal nature was prevented
by the entrance of Sola, who was much agitated and wholly
unlike her usual calm and possessed self.
"That horrible Sarkoja has been before Tal Hajus," she
cried, "and from what I heard upon the plaza there is
little hope for either of you."
"What do they say?" inquired Dejah Thoris.
"That you will be thrown to the wild calots [dogs
the great arena as soon as the hordes have assembled for
the yearly games."
"Sola," I said, "you are a Thark, but you hate and loathe
the customs of your people as much as we do. Will you
not accompany us in one supreme effort to escape? I am
sure that Dejah Thoris can offer you a home and protection
among her people, and your fate can be no worse among
them than it must ever be here."
"Yes," cried Dejah Thoris, "come with us, Sola, you will
be better off among the red men of Helium than you are
here, and I can promise you not only a home with us, but
the love and affection your nature craves and which must
always be denied you by the customs of your own race.
Come with us, Sola; we might go without you, but your
fate would be terrible if they thought you had connived to
aid us. I know that even that fear would not tempt you to
interfere in our escape, but we want you with us, we want
you to come to a land of sunshine and happiness, amongst
a people who know the meaning of love, of sympathy, and
of gratitude. Say that you will, Sola; tell me that you will."
"The great waterway which leads to Helium is but fifty
miles to the south," murmured Sola, half to herself; "a
swift thoat might make it in three hours; and then to
Helium it is five hundred miles, most of the way through
thinly settled districts. They would know and they would
follow us. We might hide among the great trees for a time,
but the chances are small indeed for escape. They would
follow us to the very gates of Helium, and they would take
toll of life at every step; you do not know them."
"Is there no other way we might reach Helium?" I asked.
"Can you not draw me a rough map of the country we
must traverse, Dejah Thoris?"
"Yes," she replied, and taking a great diamond from
her hair she drew upon the marble floor the first map of
Barsoomian territory I had ever seen. It was crisscrossed in
every direction with long straight lines, sometimes running
parallel and sometimes converging toward some great circle.
The lines, she said, were waterways; the circles, cities; and
one far to the northwest of us she pointed out as Helium.
There were other cities closer, but she said she feared to
enter many of them, as they were not all friendly toward Helium.
Finally, after studying the map carefully in the moonlight
which now flooded the room, I pointed out a waterway far
to the north of us which also seemed to lead to Helium.
"Does not this pierce your grandfather's territory?" I
"Yes," she answered, "but it is two hundred miles north
of us; it is one of the waterways we crossed on the trip
"They would never suspect that we would try for that
distant waterway," I answered, "and that is why I think
that it is the best route for our escape."
Sola agreed with me, and it was decided that we should
leave Thark this same night; just as quickly, in fact, as I
could find and saddle my thoats. Sola was to ride one and
Dejah Thoris and I the other; each of us carrying sufficient
food and drink to last us for two days, since the animals
could not be urged too rapidly for so long a distance.
I directed Sola to proceed with Dejah Thoris along one
of the less frequented avenues to the southern boundary of
the city, where I would overtake them with the thoats as
quickly as possible; then, leaving them to gather what food,
silks, and furs we were to need, I slipped quietly to the
rear of the first floor, and entered the courtyard, where
our animals were moving restlessly about, as was their habit,
before settling down for the night.
In the shadows of the buildings and out beneath the radiance
of the Martian moons moved the great herd of thoats and
zitidars, the latter grunting their low gutturals and
the former occasionally emitting the sharp squeal which
denotes the almost habitual state of rage in which these
creatures passed their existence. They were quieter now,
owing to the absence of man, but as they scented me they became
more restless and their hideous noise increased. It was risky
business, this entering a paddock of thoats alone and at night;
first, because their increasing noisiness might warn the nearby
warriors that something was amiss, and also because for the
slightest cause, or for no cause at all some great bull thoat
might take it upon himself to lead a charge upon me.
Having no desire to awaken their nasty tempers upon such
a night as this, where so much depended upon secrecy and
dispatch, I hugged the shadows of the buildings, ready at
an instant's warning to leap into the safety of a nearby
door or window. Thus I moved silently to the great gates
which opened upon the street at the back of the court, and
as I neared the exit I called softly to my two animals. How
I thanked the kind providence which had given me the foresight
to win the love and confidence of these wild dumb brutes, for
presently from the far side of the court I saw two huge bulks
forcing their way toward me through the surging mountains of flesh.
They came quite close to me, rubbing their muzzles
against my body and nosing for the bits of food it was
always my practice to reward them with. Opening the gates
I ordered the two great beasts to pass out, and then
slipping quietly after them I closed the portals behind me.
I did not saddle or mount the animals there, but instead
walked quietly in the shadows of the buildings toward an
unfrequented avenue which led toward the point I had arranged
to meet Dejah Thoris and Sola. With the noiselessness
of disembodied spirits we moved stealthily along the
deserted streets, but not until we were within sight of
the plain beyond the city did I commence to breathe freely.
I was sure that Sola and Dejah Thoris would find no difficulty
in reaching our rendezvous undetected, but with my great thoats
I was not so sure for myself, as it was quite unusual for warriors
to leave the city after dark; in fact there was no place for them
to go within any but a long ride.
I reached the appointed meeting place safely, but as Dejah
Thoris and Sola were not there I led my animals into the
entrance hall of one of the large buildings. Presuming that
one of the other women of the same household may have
come in to speak to Sola, and so delayed their departure,
I did not feel any undue apprehension until nearly an hour
had passed without a sign of them, and by the time another
half hour had crawled away I was becoming filled with grave
anxiety. Then there broke upon the stillness of the night
the sound of an approaching party, which, from the noise, I
knew could be no fugitives creeping stealthily toward liberty.
Soon the party was near me, and from the black shadows of my
entranceway I perceived a score of mounted warriors, who,
in passing, dropped a dozen words that fetched my heart clean
into the top of my head.
"He would likely have arranged to meet them just without
the city, and so--" I heard no more, they had passed on;
but it was enough. Our plan had been discovered, and
the chances for escape from now on to the fearful end
would be small indeed. My one hope now was to return
undetected to the quarters of Dejah Thoris and learn what
fate had overtaken her, but how to do it with these great
monstrous thoats upon my hands, now that the city probably
was aroused by the knowledge of my escape was a problem
of no mean proportions.
Suddenly an idea occurred to me, and acting on my knowledge
of the construction of the buildings of these ancient
Martian cities with a hollow court within the center of each
square, I groped my way blindly through the dark chambers,
calling the great thoats after me. They had difficulty in
negotiating some of the doorways, but as the buildings fronting
the city's principal exposures were all designed upon a
magnificent scale, they were able to wriggle through without
sticking fast; and thus we finally made the inner court where
I found, as I had expected, the usual carpet of moss-like
vegetation which would prove their food and drink until I
could return them to their own enclosure. That they would
be as quiet and contented here as elsewhere I was confident,
nor was there but the remotest possibility that they would
be discovered, as the green men had no great desire to enter
these outlying buildings, which were frequented by the
only thing, I believe, which caused them the sensation of
fear--the great white apes of Barsoom.
Removing the saddle trappings, I hid them just within
the rear doorway of the building through which we had
entered the court, and, turning the beasts loose, quickly
made my way across the court to the rear of the buildings
upon the further side, and thence to the avenue beyond.
Waiting in the doorway of the building until I was assured
that no one was approaching, I hurried across to the opposite
side and through the first doorway to the court beyond;
thus, crossing through court after court with only the slight
chance of detection which the necessary crossing of the
avenues entailed, I made my way in safety to the courtyard
in the rear of Dejah Thoris' quarters.
Here, of course, I found the beasts of the warriors who
quartered in the adjacent buildings, and the warriors
themselves I might expect to meet within if I entered; but,
fortunately for me, I had another and safer method of reaching
the upper story where Dejah Thoris should be found, and,
after first determining as nearly as possible which of the
buildings she occupied, for I had never observed them before
from the court side, I took advantage of my relatively great
strength and agility and sprang upward until I grasped the
sill of a second-story window which I thought to be in the
rear of her apartment. Drawing myself inside the room I
moved stealthily toward the front of the building, and not
until I had quite reached the doorway of her room was I
made aware by voices that it was occupied.
I did not rush headlong in, but listened without to assure
myself that it was Dejah Thoris and that it was safe to
venture within. It was well indeed that I took this precaution,
for the conversation I heard was in the low gutturals of men,
and the words which finally came to me proved a most timely warning.
The speaker was a chieftain and he was giving orders to four of
"And when he returns to this chamber," he was saying, "as he
surely will when he finds she does not meet him at the city's edge,
you four are to spring upon him and disarm him. It will require
the combined strength of all of you to do it if the reports they
bring back from Korad are correct. When you have him fast bound
bear him to the vaults beneath the jeddak's quarters and chain
him securely where he may be found when Tal Hajus wishes him.
Allow him to speak with none, nor permit any other to enter
this apartment before he comes. There will be no danger of
the girl returning, for by this time she is safe in the arms
of Tal Hajus, and may all her ancestors have pity upon her,
for Tal Hajus will have none; the great Sarkoja has done a
noble night's work. I go, and if you fail to capture him when
he comes, I commend your carcasses to the cold bosom of Iss."
CHAPTER XVII. A COSTLY RECAPTURE
As the speaker ceased he turned to leave the apartment by
the door where I was standing, but I needed to wait no
longer; I had heard enough to fill my soul with dread, and
stealing quietly away I returned to the courtyard by the
way I had come. My plan of action was formed upon the
instant, and crossing the square and the bordering avenue
upon the opposite side I soon stood within the courtyard
of Tal Hajus.
The brilliantly lighted apartments of the first floor told
me where first to seek, and advancing to the windows I
peered within. I soon discovered that my approach was not
to be the easy thing I had hoped, for the rear rooms bordering
the court were filled with warriors and women. I then
glanced up at the stories above, discovering that the third
was apparently unlighted, and so decided to make my entrance
to the building from that point. It was the work of
but a moment for me to reach the windows above, and
soon I had drawn myself within the sheltering shadows of
the unlighted third floor.
Fortunately the room I had selected was untenanted, and
creeping noiselessly to the corridor beyond I discovered
a light in the apartments ahead of me. Reaching what
appeared to be a doorway I discovered that it was but an
opening upon an immense inner chamber which towered from
the first floor, two stories below me, to the dome-like roof
of the building, high above my head. The floor of this
great circular hall was thronged with chieftains, warriors
and women, and at one end was a great raised platform
upon which squatted the most hideous beast I had ever put
my eyes upon. He had all the cold, hard, cruel, terrible
features of the green warriors, but accentuated and debased
by the animal passions to which he had given himself over
for many years. There was not a mark of dignity or pride
upon his bestial countenance, while his enormous bulk spread
itself out upon the platform where he squatted like some
huge devil fish, his six limbs accentuating the similarity in
a horrible and startling manner.
But the sight that froze me with apprehension was that
of Dejah Thoris and Sola standing there before him, and
the fiendish leer of him as he let his great protruding eyes
gloat upon the lines of her beautiful figure. She was
speaking, but I could not hear what she said, nor could I make
out the low grumbling of his reply. She stood there erect
before him, her head high held, and even at the distance I
was from them I could read the scorn and disgust upon
her face as she let her haughty glance rest without sign of
fear upon him. She was indeed the proud daughter of a
thousand jeddaks, every inch of her dear, precious little body;
so small, so frail beside the towering warriors around her,
but in her majesty dwarfing them into insignificance; she
was the mightiest figure among them and I verily believe
that they felt it.
Presently Tal Hajus made a sign that the chamber be
cleared, and that the prisoners be left alone before him.
Slowly the chieftains, the warriors and the women melted
away into the shadows of the surrounding chambers, and
Dejah Thoris and Sola stood alone before the jeddak of the
One chieftain alone had hesitated before departing; I
saw him standing in the shadows of a mighty column, his
fingers nervously toying with the hilt of his great-sword and
his cruel eyes bent in implacable hatred upon Tal Hajus.
It was Tars Tarkas, and I could read his thoughts as they
were an open book for the undisguised loathing upon his
face. He was thinking of that other woman who, forty years
ago, had stood before this beast, and could I have spoken
a word into his ear at that moment the reign of Tal Hajus
would have been over; but finally he also strode from the
room, not knowing that he left his own daughter at the
mercy of the creature he most loathed.
Tal Hajus arose, and I, half fearing, half anticipating his
intentions, hurried to the winding runway which led to the
floors below. No one was near to intercept me, and I reached
the main floor of the chamber unobserved, taking my station
in the shadow of the same column that Tars Tarkas had but
just deserted. As I reached the floor Tal Hajus was speaking.
"Princess of Helium, I might wring a mighty ransom from
your people would I but return you to them unharmed, but a
thousand times rather would I watch that beautiful face
writhe in the agony of torture; it shall be long drawn out,
that I promise you; ten days of pleasure were all too short to
show the love I harbor for your race. The terrors of your
death shall haunt the slumbers of the red men through all
the ages to come; they will shudder in the shadows of the
night as their fathers tell them of the awful vengeance of
the green men; of the power and might and hate and cruelty
of Tal Hajus. But before the torture you shall be mine for
one short hour, and word of that too shall go forth to
Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium, your grandfather, that he
may grovel upon the ground in the agony of his sorrow.
Tomorrow the torture will commence; tonight thou art Tal
He sprang down from the platform and grasped her roughly
by the arm, but scarcely had he touched her than I leaped
between them. My short-sword, sharp and gleaming was in
my right hand; I could have plunged it into his putrid heart
before he realized that I was upon him; but as I raised my
arm to strike I thought of Tars Tarkas, and, with all my rage,
with all my hatred, I could not rob him of that sweet
moment for which he had lived and hoped all these long,
weary years, and so, instead, I swung my good right fist full
upon the point of his jaw. Without a sound he slipped to the
floor as one dead.
In the same deathly silence I grasped Dejah Thoris by the
hand, and motioning Sola to follow we sped noiselessly
from the chamber and to the floor above. Unseen we reached
a rear window and with the straps and leather of my trappings
I lowered, first Sola and then Dejah Thoris to the ground below.
Dropping lightly after them I drew them rapidly around the court
in the shadows of the buildings, and thus we returned over the
same course I had so recently followed from the distant boundary
of the city.
We finally came upon my thoats in the courtyard where
I had left them, and placing the trappings upon them we
hastened through the building to the avenue beyond.
Mounting, Sola upon one beast, and Dejah Thoris behind me
upon the other, we rode from the city of Thark through the
hills to the south.
Instead of circling back around the city to the northwest
and toward the nearest waterway which lay so short a distance
from us, we turned to the northeast and struck out upon the mossy
waste across which, for two hundred dangerous and weary miles,
lay another main artery leading to Helium.
No word was spoken until we had left the city far behind,
but I could hear the quiet sobbing of Dejah Thoris as she
clung to me with her dear head resting against my shoulder.
"If we make it, my chieftain, the debt of Helium will be
a mighty one; greater than she can ever pay you; and should
we not make it," she continued, "the debt is no less, though
Helium will never know, for you have saved the last of our
line from worse than death."
I did not answer, but instead reached to my side and
pressed the little fingers of her I loved where they clung to
me for support, and then, in unbroken silence, we sped over
the yellow, moonlit moss; each of us occupied with his own
thoughts. For my part I could not be other than joyful had I
tried, with Dejah Thoris' warm body pressed close to mine,
and with all our unpassed danger my heart was singing as
gaily as though we were already entering the gates of Helium.
Our earlier plans had been so sadly upset that we now
found ourselves without food or drink, and I alone was
armed. We therefore urged our beasts to a speed that must
tell on them sorely before we could hope to sight the ending
of the first stage of our journey.
We rode all night and all the following day with only a
few short rests. On the second night both we and our animals
were completely fagged, and so we lay down upon the moss
and slept for some five or six hours, taking up the journey
once more before daylight. All the following day we rode,
and when, late in the afternoon we had sighted no distant
trees, the mark of the great waterways throughout all Barsoom,
the terrible truth flashed upon us--we were lost.
Evidently we had circled, but which way it was difficult
to say, nor did it seem possible with the sun to guide us by
day and the moons and stars by night. At any rate no waterway
was in sight, and the entire party was almost ready to
drop from hunger, thirst and fatigue. Far ahead of us and
a trifle to the right we could distinguish the outlines of low
mountains. These we decided to attempt to reach in the hope
that from some ridge we might discern the missing waterway.
Night fell upon us before we reached our goal, and, almost
fainting from weariness and weakness, we lay down and slept.
I was awakened early in the morning by some huge body
pressing close to mine, and opening my eyes with a start I
beheld my blessed old Woola snuggling close to me; the faithful
brute had followed us across that trackless waste to share
our fate, whatever it might be. Putting my arms about his
neck I pressed my cheek close to his, nor am I ashamed
that I did it, nor of the tears that came to my eyes as I
thought of his love for me. Shortly after this Dejah Thoris
and Sola awakened, and it was decided that we push on at
once in an effort to gain the hills.
We had gone scarcely a mile when I noticed that my
thoat was commencing to stumble and stagger in a most
pitiful manner, although we had not attempted to force
them out of a walk since about noon of the preceding day.
Suddenly he lurched wildly to one side and pitched violently to
the ground. Dejah Thoris and I were thrown clear of him
and fell upon the soft moss with scarcely a jar; but the poor
beast was in a pitiable condition, not even being able to rise,
although relieved of our weight. Sola told me that the coolness
of the night, when it fell, together with the rest would
doubtless revive him, and so I decided not to kill him, as
was my first intention, as I had thought it cruel to leave him
alone there to die of hunger and thirst. Relieving him of his
trappings, which I flung down beside him, we left the poor
fellow to his fate, and pushed on with the one thoat as best
we could. Sola and I walked, making Dejah Thoris ride, much
against her will. In this way we had progressed to within
about a mile of the hills we were endeavoring to reach when
Dejah Thoris, from her point of vantage upon the thoat,
cried out that she saw a great party of mounted men filing
down from a pass in the hills several miles away. Sola and I
both looked in the direction she indicated, and there, plainly
discernible, were several hundred mounted warriors. They
seemed to be headed in a southwesterly direction, which
would take them away from us.
They doubtless were Thark warriors who had been sent
out to capture us, and we breathed a great sigh of relief that
they were traveling in the opposite direction. Quickly lifting
Dejah Thoris from the thoat, I commanded the animal to lie
down and we three did the same, presenting as small an object
as possible for fear of attracting the attention of the
warriors toward us.
We could see them as they filed out of the pass, just for
an instant, before they were lost to view behind a friendly
ridge; to us a most providential ridge; since, had they
been in view for any great length of time, they scarcely
could have failed to discover us. As what proved to be the
last warrior came into view from the pass, he halted and, to our
consternation, threw his small but powerful fieldglass to his
eye and scanned the sea bottom in all directions. Evidently
he was a chieftain, for in certain marching formations among the
green men a chieftain brings up the extreme rear of the column.
As his glass swung toward us our hearts stopped in our breasts,
and I could feel the cold sweat start from every pore in my body.
Presently it swung full upon us and--stopped. The tension
on our nerves was near the breaking point, and I doubt if
any of us breathed for the few moments he held us covered
by his glass; and then he lowered it and we could see him
shout a command to the warriors who had passed from our
sight behind the ridge. He did not wait for them to join
him, however, instead he wheeled his thoat and came tearing
madly in our direction.
There was but one slight chance and that we must take
quickly. Raising my strange Martian rifle to my shoulder I
sighted and touched the button which controlled the trigger;
there was a sharp explosion as the missile reached its goal, and
the charging chieftain pitched backward from his flying
Springing to my feet I urged the thoat to rise, and directed
Sola to take Dejah Thoris with her upon him and make a
mighty effort to reach the hills before the green warriors were
upon us. I knew that in the ravines and gullies they might
find a temporary hiding place, and even though they died
there of hunger and thirst it would be better so than that
they fell into the hands of the Tharks. Forcing my two
revolvers upon them as a slight means of protection, and,
as a last resort, as an escape for themselves from the horrid
death which recapture would surely mean, I lifted Dejah
Thoris in my arms and placed her upon the thoat behind
Sola, who had already mounted at my command.
"Good-bye, my princess," I whispered, "we may meet in
Helium yet. I have escaped from worse plights than this,"
and I tried to smile as I lied.
"What," she cried, "are you not coming with us?"
"How may I, Dejah Thoris? Someone must hold these
fellows off for a while, and I can better escape them alone
than could the three of us together."
She sprang quickly from the thoat and, throwing her dear
arms about my neck, turned to Sola, saying with quiet dignity:
"Fly, Sola! Dejah Thoris remains to die with the man she
Those words are engraved upon my heart. Ah, gladly
would I give up my life a thousand times could I only hear
them once again; but I could not then give even a second to
the rapture of her sweet embrace, and pressing my lips to
hers for the first time, I picked her up bodily and tossed
her to her seat behind Sola again, commanding the latter
in peremptory tones to hold her there by force, and then,
slapping the thoat upon the flank, I saw them borne away;
Dejah Thoris struggling to the last to free herself from
Turning, I beheld the green warriors mounting the ridge
and looking for their chieftain. In a moment they saw him,
and then me; but scarcely had they discovered me than I
commenced firing, lying flat upon my belly in the moss. I had
an even hundred rounds in the magazine of my rifle, and
another hundred in the belt at my back, and I kept up a
continuous stream of fire until I saw all of the warriors who
had been first to return from behind the ridge either dead or
scurrying to cover.
My respite was short-lived however, for soon the entire
party, numbering some thousand men, came charging into
view, racing madly toward me. I fired until my rifle was
empty and they were almost upon me, and then a glance
showing me that Dejah Thoris and Sola had disappeared
among the hills, I sprang up, throwing down my useless gun,
and started away in the direction opposite to that taken by
Sola and her charge.
If ever Martians had an exhibition of jumping, it was
granted those astonished warriors on that day long years ago,
but while it led them away from Dejah Thoris it did not distract
their attention from endeavoring to capture me.
They raced wildly after me until, finally, my foot struck a
projecting piece of quartz, and down I went sprawling upon
the moss. As I looked up they were upon me, and although
I drew my long-sword in an attempt to sell my life as
dearly as possible, it was soon over. I reeled beneath their
blows which fell upon me in perfect torrents; my head swam;
all was black, and I went down beneath them to oblivion.
CHAPTER XVIII. CHAINED IN WARHOON
It must have been several hours before I regained consciousness
and I well remember the feeling of surprise which swept over me
as I realized that I was not dead.
I was lying among a pile of sleeping silks and furs in the
corner of a small room in which were several green warriors,
and bending over me was an ancient and ugly female.
As I opened my eyes she turned to one of the warriors, saying,
"He will live, O Jed."
"'Tis well," replied the one so addressed, rising and approaching
my couch, "he should render rare sport for the great games."
And now as my eyes fell upon him, I saw that he was no
Thark, for his ornaments and metal were not of that horde.
He was a huge fellow, terribly scarred about the face and
chest, and with one broken tusk and a missing ear. Strapped
on either breast were human skulls and depending from
these a number of dried human hands.
His reference to the great games of which I had heard so
much while among the Tharks convinced me that I had but
jumped from purgatory into gehenna.
After a few more words with the female, during which
she assured him that I was now fully fit to travel, the jed
ordered that we mount and ride after the main column.
I was strapped securely to as wild and unmanageable a
thoat as I had ever seen, and, with a mounted warrior on
either side to prevent the beast from bolting, we rode forth
at a furious pace in pursuit of the column. My wounds gave
me but little pain, so wonderfully and rapidly had the
applications and injections of the female exercised their
therapeutic powers, and so deftly had she bound and plastered
Just before dark we reached the main body of troops
shortly after they had made camp for the night. I was
immediately taken before the leader, who proved to be the
jeddak of the hordes of Warhoon.
Like the jed who had brought me, he was frightfully
scarred, and also decorated with the breastplate of human
skulls and dried dead hands which seemed to mark all the
greater warriors among the Warhoons, as well as to indicate
their awful ferocity, which greatly transcends even that of
The jeddak, Bar Comas, who was comparatively young,
was the object of the fierce and jealous hatred of his old
lieutenant, Dak Kova, the jed who had captured me, and I
could not but note the almost studied efforts which the
latter made to affront his superior.
He entirely omitted the usual formal salutation as we entered
the presence of the jeddak, and as he pushed me roughly before
the ruler he exclaimed in a loud and menacing voice.
"I have brought a strange creature wearing the metal of a
Thark whom it is my pleasure to have battle with a wild
thoat at the great games."
"He will die as Bar Comas, your jeddak, sees fit, if at all,"
replied the young ruler, with emphasis and dignity.
"If at all?" roared Dak Kova. "By the dead hands at my
throat but he shall die, Bar Comas. No maudlin weakness
on your part shall save him. O, would that Warhoon were
ruled by a real jeddak rather than by a water-hearted
weakling from whom even old Dak Kova could tear the metal
with his bare hands!"
Bar Comas eyed the defiant and insubordinate chieftain for
an instant, his expression one of haughty, fearless contempt
and hate, and then without drawing a weapon and without
uttering a word he hurled himself at the throat of his defamer.
I never before had seen two green Martian warriors battle
with nature's weapons and the exhibition of animal ferocity
which ensued was as fearful a thing as the most disordered
imagination could picture. They tore at each others' eyes
and ears with their hands and with their gleaming tusks
repeatedly slashed and gored until both were cut fairly to
ribbons from head to foot.
Bar Comas had much the better of the battle as he was
stronger, quicker and more intelligent. It soon seemed that
the encounter was done saving only the final death thrust
when Bar Comas slipped in breaking away from a clinch. It
was the one little opening that Dak Kova needed, and hurling
himself at the body of his adversary he buried his single
mighty tusk in Bar Comas' groin and with a last powerful
effort ripped the young jeddak wide open the full length of
his body, the great tusk finally wedging in the bones of Bar
Comas' jaw. Victor and vanquished rolled limp and lifeless
upon the moss, a huge mass of torn and bloody flesh.
Bar Comas was stone dead, and only the most herculean efforts on
the part of Dak Kova's females saved him from the fate he deserved.
Three days later he walked without assistance to the body of Bar
Comas which, by custom, had not been moved from where it fell,
and placing his foot upon the neck of his erstwhile ruler he
assumed the title of Jeddak of Warhoon.
The dead jeddak's hands and head were removed to be added
to the ornaments of his conqueror, and then his women
cremated what remained, amid wild and terrible laughter.
The injuries to Dak Kova had delayed the march so
greatly that it was decided to give up the expedition, which
was a raid upon a small Thark community in retaliation for
the destruction of the incubator, until after the great games,
and the entire body of warriors, ten thousand in number,
turned back toward Warhoon.
My introduction to these cruel and bloodthirsty people
was but an index to the scenes I witnessed almost daily
while with them. They are a smaller horde than the Tharks
but much more ferocious. Not a day passed but that some
members of the various Warhoon communities met in deadly
combat. I have seen as high as eight mortal duels within a
We reached the city of Warhoon after some three days
march and I was immediately cast into a dungeon and heavily
chained to the floor and walls. Food was brought me at
intervals but owing to the utter darkness of the place I do not
know whether I lay there days, or weeks, or months. It was
the most horrible experience of all my life and that my
mind did not give way to the terrors of that inky blackness
has been a wonder to me ever since. The place was filled
with creeping, crawling things; cold, sinuous bodies passed
over me when I lay down, and in the darkness I occasionally
caught glimpses of gleaming, fiery eyes, fixed in horrible
intentness upon me. No sound reached me from the world
above and no word would my jailer vouchsafe when my
food was brought to me, although I at first bombarded him
Finally all the hatred and maniacal loathing for these
awful creatures who had placed me in this horrible place was
centered by my tottering reason upon this single emissary
who represented to me the entire horde of Warhoons.
I had noticed that he always advanced with his dim
torch to where he could place the food within my reach and
as he stooped to place it upon the floor his head was about
on a level with my breast. So, with the cunning of a madman,
I backed into the far corner of my cell when next I heard
him approaching and gathering a little slack of the great
chain which held me in my hand I waited his coming,
crouching like some beast of prey. As he stooped to place
my food upon the ground I swung the chain above my head
and crashed the links with all my strength upon his skull.
Without a sound he slipped to the floor, stone dead.
Laughing and chattering like the idiot I was fast becoming
I fell upon his prostrate form my fingers feeling for his
dead throat. Presently they came in contact with a small
chain at the end of which dangled a number of keys. The
touch of my fingers on these keys brought back my reason
with the suddenness of thought. No longer was I a jibbering
idiot, but a sane, reasoning man with the means of escape
within my very hands.
As I was groping to remove the chain from about my victim's
neck I glanced up into the darkness to see six pairs of gleaming
eyes fixed, unwinking, upon me. Slowly they approached and slowly
I shrank back from the awful horror of them. Back into my corner
I crouched holding my hands palms out, before me, and stealthily
on came the awful eyes until they reached the dead body at my feet.
Then slowly they retreated but this time with a strange grating
sound and finally they disappeared in some black and distant recess
of my dungeon.
CHAPTER XIX. BATTLING IN THE ARENA
Slowly I regained my composure and finally essayed again
to attempt to remove the keys from the dead body of my
former jailer. But as I reached out into the darkness to locate
it I found to my horror that it was gone. Then the truth
flashed on me; the owners of those gleaming eyes had dragged
my prize away from me to be devoured in their neighboring lair;
as they had been waiting for days, for weeks, for months,
through all this awful eternity of my imprisonment to drag
my dead carcass to their feast.
For two days no food was brought me, but then a new
messenger appeared and my incarceration went on as before,
but not again did I allow my reason to be submerged by the
horror of my position.
Shortly after this episode another prisoner was brought in
and chained near me. By the dim torch light I saw that he
was a red Martian and I could scarcely await the departure
of his guards to address him. As their retreating footsteps
died away in the distance, I called out softly the Martian
word of greeting, kaor.
"Who are you who speaks out of the darkness?" he answered
"John Carter, a friend of the red men of Helium."
"I am of Helium," he said, "but I do not recall your name."
And then I told him my story as I have written it here,
omitting only any reference to my love for Dejah Thoris.
He was much excited by the news of Helium's princess and
seemed quite positive that she and Sola could easily have
reached a point of safety from where they left me. He said
that he knew the place well because the defile through which
the Warhoon warriors had passed when they discovered us was
the only one ever used by them when marching to the south.
"Dejah Thoris and sola entered the hills not five miles
from a great waterway and are now probably quite safe,"
he assured me.
My fellow prisoner was Kantos Kan, a padwar (lieutenant)
in the navy of Helium. He had been a member of the ill-
fated expedition which had fallen into the hands of the
Tharks at the time of Dejah Thoris' capture, and he briefly
related the events which followed the defeat of the battleships.
Badly injured and only partially manned they had limped
slowly toward Helium, but while passing near the city of
Zodanga, the capital of Helium's hereditary enemies among
the red men of Barsoom, they had been attacked by a great
body of war vessels and all but the craft to which Kantos Kan
belonged were either destroyed or captured. His vessel was
chased for days by three of the Zodangan war ships but
finally escaped during the darkness of a moonless night.
Thirty days after the capture of Dejah Thoris, or about
the time of our coming to Thark, his vessel had reached
Helium with about ten survivors of the original crew of seven
hundred officers and men. Immediately seven great fleets,
each of one hundred mighty war ships, had been dispatched
to search for Dejah Thoris, and from these vessels two
thousand smaller craft had been kept out continuously in
futile search for the missing princess.
Two green Martian communities had been wiped off the
face of Barsoom by the avenging fleets, but no trace of Dejah
Thoris had been found. They had been searching among the
northern hordes, and only within the past few days had
they extended their quest to the south.
Kantos Kan had been detailed to one of the small one-man
fliers and had had the misfortune to be discovered by the
Warhoons while exploring their city. The bravery and daring
of the man won my greatest respect and admiration. Alone he
had landed at the city's boundary and on foot had penetrated
to the buildings surrounding the plaza. For two days and
nights he had explored their quarters and their dungeons in
search of his beloved princess only to fall into the
hands of a party of Warhoons as he was about to leave, after
assuring himself that Dejah Thoris was not a captive there.
During the period of our incarceration Kantos Kan and I
became well acquainted, and formed a warm personal friendship.
A few days only elapsed, however, before we were dragged forth
from our dungeon for the great games. We were conducted early
one morning to an enormous amphitheater, which instead of having
been built upon the surface of the ground was excavated below
the surface. it had partially filled with debris so that how
large it had originally been was difficult to say. In its
present condition it held the entire twenty thousand Warhoons
of the assembled hordes.
The arena was immense but extremely uneven and unkempt.
Around it the Warhoons had piled building stone from
some of the ruined edifices of the ancient city to prevent
the animals and the captives from escaping into the
audience, and at each end had been constructed cages
to hold them until their turns came to meet some horrible
death upon the arena.
Kantos Kan and I were confined together in one of the cages.
In the others were wild calots, thoats, mad zitidars,
green warriors, and women of other hordes, and many
strange and ferocious wild beasts of Barsoom which I had
never before seen. The din of their roaring, growling and
squealing was deafening and the formidable appearance of
any one of them was enough to make the stoutest heart feel
Kantos Kan explained to me that at the end of the day one
of these prisoners would gain freedom and the others would
lie dead about the arena. The winners in the various contests
of the day would be pitted against each other until only two
remained alive; the victor in the last encounter being set free,
whether animal or man. The following morning the cages would
be filled with a new consignment of victims, and so on
throughout the ten days of the games.
Shortly after we had been caged the amphitheater began to fill
and within an hour every available part of the seating space
was occupied. Dak Kova, with his jeds and chieftains, sat at
the center of one side of the arena upon a large raised platform.
At a signal from Dak Kova the doors of two cages were
thrown open and a dozen green Martian females were
driven to the center of the arena. Each was given a
dagger and then, at the far end, a pack of twelve calots,
or wild dogs were loosed upon them.
As the brutes, growling and foaming, rushed upon the almost
defenseless women I turned my head that I might not see the
horrid sight. The yells and laughter of the green horde
bore witness to the excellent quality of the sport and
when I turned back to the arena, as Kantos Kan told me it
was over, I saw three victorious calots, snarling and growling
over the bodies of their prey. The women had given a good account
Next a mad zitidar was loosed among the remaining dogs,
and so it went throughout the long, hot, horrible day.
During the day I was pitted against first men and then
beasts, but as I was armed with a long-sword and always
outclassed my adversary in agility and generally in strength
as well, it proved but child's play to me. Time and time again
I won the applause of the bloodthirsty multitude, and toward
the end there were cries that I be taken from the arena
and be made a member of the hordes of Warhoon.
Finally there were but three of us left, a great green warrior
of some far northern horde, Kantos Kan, and myself.
The other two were to battle and then I to fight the conqueror
for the liberty which was accorded the final winner.
Kantos Kan had fought several times during the day and
like myself had always proven victorious, but occasionally
by the smallest of margins, especially when pitted against
the green warriors. I had little hope that he could best his
giant adversary who had mowed down all before him during
the day. The fellow towered nearly sixteen feet in height,
while Kantos Kan was some inches under six feet. As they
advanced to meet one another I saw for the first time a trick
of Martian swordsmanship which centered Kantos Kan's
every hope of victory and life on one cast of the dice, for,
as he came to within about twenty feet of the huge fellow
he threw his sword arm far behind him over his shoulder
and with a mighty sweep hurled his weapon point foremost
at the green warrior. It flew true as an arrow and piercing
the poor devil's heart laid him dead upon the arena.
Kantos Kan and I were now pitted against each other but
as we approached to the encounter I whispered to him to
prolong the battle until nearly dark in the hope that we
might find some means of escape. The horde evidently
guessed that we had no hearts to fight each other and so
they howled in rage as neither of us placed a fatal thrust.
Just as I saw the sudden coming of dark I whispered to
Kantos Kan to thrust his sword between my left arm and my
body. As he did so I staggered back clasping the sword
tightly with my arm and thus fell to the ground with his
weapon apparently protruding from my chest. Kantos Kan
perceived my coup and stepping quickly to my side he placed his
foot upon my neck and withdrawing his sword from my body
gave me the final death blow through the neck which is supposed
to sever the jugular vein, but in this instance the cold
blade slipped harmlessly into the sand of the arena. In the
darkness which had now fallen none could tell but that he
had really finished me. I whispered to him to go and claim
his freedom and then look for me in the hills east of the
city, and so he left me.
When the amphitheater had cleared I crept stealthily to
the top and as the great excavation lay far from the plaza
and in an untenanted portion of the great dead city I had
little trouble in reaching the hills beyond.
CHAPTER XX. IN THE ATMOSPHERE FACTORY
For two days I waited there for Kantos Kan, but as he did
not come I started off on foot in a northwesterly direction
toward a point where he had told me lay the nearest waterway.
My only food consisted of vegetable milk from the
plants which gave so bounteously of this priceless fluid.
Through two long weeks I wandered, stumbling through
the nights guided only by the stars and hiding during the
days behind some protruding rock or among the occasional
hills I traversed. Several times I was attacked by wild beasts;
strange, uncouth monstrosities that leaped upon me in the
dark, so that I had ever to grasp my long-sword in my hand
that I might be ready for them. Usually my strange, newly
acquired telepathic power warned me in ample time, but
once I was down with vicious fangs at my jugular and a
hairy face pressed close to mine before I knew that I was
What manner of thing was upon me I did not know, but
that it was large and heavy and many-legged I could feel.
My hands were at its throat before the fangs had a chance to
bury themselves in my neck, and slowly I forced the hairy face
from me and closed my fingers, vise-like, upon its windpipe.
Without sound we lay there, the beast exerting every effort
to reach me with those awful fangs, and I straining to
maintain my grip and choke the life from it as I kept it from
my throat. Slowly my arms gave to the unequal struggle,
and inch by inch the burning eyes and gleaming tusks of my
antagonist crept toward me, until, as the hairy face touched
mine again, I realized that all was over. And then a living
mass of destruction sprang from the surrounding darkness
full upon the creature that held me pinioned to the ground.
The two rolled growling upon the moss, tearing and rending
one another in a frightful manner, but it was soon over and
my preserver stood with lowered head above the throat of
the dead thing which would have killed me.
The nearer moon, hurtling suddenly above the horizon
and lighting up the Barsoomian scene, showed me that my
preserver was Woola, but from whence he had come, or how
found me, I was at a loss to know. That I was glad of his
companionship it is needless to say, but my pleasure at seeing
him was tempered by anxiety as to the reason of his leaving
Dejah Thoris. Only her death I felt sure, could account for
his absence from her, so faithful I knew him to be to my
By the light of the now brilliant moons I saw that he was
but a shadow of his former self, and as he turned from my
caress and commenced greedily to devour the dead carcass
at my feet I realized that the poor fellow was more than half
starved. I, myself, was in but little better plight but I could
not bring myself to eat the uncooked flesh and I had no
means of making a fire. When Woola had finished his meal
I again took up my weary and seemingly endless wandering
in quest of the elusive waterway.
At daybreak of the fifteenth day of my search I was overjoyed
to see the high trees that denoted the object of my search.
About noon I dragged myself wearily to the portals of a
huge building which covered perhaps four square miles
and towered two hundred feet in the air. It showed no
aperture in the mighty walls other than the tiny door at which
I sank exhausted, nor was there any sign of life about it.
I could find no bell or other method of making my presence
known to the inmates of the place, unless a small round
role in the wall near the door was for that purpose. It was
of about the bigness of a lead pencil and thinking that it
might be in the nature of a speaking tube I put my mouth to
it and was about to call into it when a voice issued from it
asking me whom I might be, where from, and the nature of
I explained that I had escaped from the Warhoons and
was dying of starvation and exhaustion.
"You wear the metal of a green warrior and are followed
by a calot, yet you are of the figure of a red man. In color
you are neither green nor red. In the name of the ninth day,
what manner of creature are you?"
"I am a friend of the red men of Barsoom and I am starving.
In the name of humanity open to us," I replied.
Presently the door commenced to recede before me until it had
sunk into the wall fifty feet, then it stopped and slid easily
to the left, exposing a short, narrow corridor of concrete,
at the further end of which was another door, similar in
every respect to the one I had just passed. No one was in
sight, yet immediately we passed the first door it slid gently
into place behind us and receded rapidly to its original position
in the front wall of the building. As the door had slipped
aside I had noted its great thickness, fully twenty feet, and
as it reached its place once more after closing behind us,
great cylinders of steel had dropped from the ceiling behind
it and fitted their lower ends into apertures countersunk in
A second and third door receded before me and slipped to one
side as the first, before I reached a large inner chamber
where I found food and drink set out upon a great stone table.
A voice directed me to satisfy my hunger and to feed
my calot, and while I was thus engaged my invisible host
put me through a severe and searching cross-examination.
"Your statements are most remarkable," said the voice, on
concluding its questioning, "but you are evidently speaking the
truth, and it is equally evident that you are not of Barsoom.
I can tell that by the conformation of your brain and the
strange location of your internal organs and the shape and
size of your heart."
"Can you see through me?" I exclaimed.
"Yes, I can see all but your thoughts, and were you a Barsoomian
I could read those."
Then a door opened at the far side of the chamber and a
strange, dried up, little mummy of a man came toward me.
He wore but a single article of clothing or adornment, a
small collar of gold from which depended upon his chest a
great ornament as large as a dinner plate set solid with huge
diamonds, except for the exact center which was occupied
by a strange stone, an inch in diameter, that scintillated nine
different and distinct rays; the seven colors of our earthly
prism and two beautiful rays which, to me, were new and
nameless. I cannot describe them any more than you could
describe red to a blind man. I only know that they were
beautiful in the extreme.
The old man sat and talked with me for hours, and the
strangest part of our intercourse was that I could read his
every thought while he could not fathom an iota from my
mind unless I spoke.
I did not apprise him of my ability to sense his mental
operations, and thus I learned a great deal which proved of
immense value to me later and which I would never have
known had he suspected my strange power, for the Martians
have such perfect control of their mental machinery that they
are able to direct their thoughts with absolute precision.
The building in which I found myself contained the machinery
which produces that artificial atmosphere which sustains
life on Mars. The secret of the entire process hinges on
the use of the ninth ray, one of the beautiful scintillations
which I had noted emanating from the great stone in my
This ray is separated from the other rays of the sun by
means of finely adjusted instruments placed upon the roof
of the huge building, three-quarters of which is used for
reservoirs in which the ninth ray is stored. This product is
then treated electrically, or rather certain proportions of
refined electric vibrations are incorporated with it, and the
result is then pumped to the five principal air centers of the
planet where, as it is released, contact with the ether of
space transforms it into atmosphere.
There is always sufficient reserve of the ninth ray stored in
the great building to maintain the present Martian atmosphere for
a thousand years, and the only fear, as my new friend told me,
was that some accident might befall the pumping apparatus.
He led me to an inner chamber where I beheld a battery
of twenty radium pumps any one of which was equal to the
task of furnishing all Mars with the atmosphere compound.
For eight hundred years, he told me, he had watched these
pumps which are used alternately a day each at a stretch, or
a little over twenty-four and one-half Earth hours. He has one
assistant who divides the watch with him. Half a Martian
year, about three hundred and forty-four of our days, each
of these men spend alone in this huge, isolated plant.
Every red Martian is taught during earliest childhood the
principles of the manufacture of atmosphere, but only two
at one time ever hold the secret of ingress to the great building,
which, built as it is with walls a hundred and fifty feet
thick, is absolutely unassailable, even the roof being guarded
from assault by air craft by a glass covering five feet thick.
The only fear they entertain of attack is from the green
Martians or some demented red man, as all Barsoomians
realize that the very existence of every form of life of Mars
is dependent upon the uninterrupted working of this plant.
One curious fact I discovered as I watched his thoughts
was that the outer doors are manipulated by telepathic
means. The locks are so finely adjusted that the doors are
released by the action of a certain combination of thought
waves. To experiment with my new-found toy I thought to
surprise him into revealing this combination and so I asked
him in a casual manner how he had managed to unlock the
massive doors for me from the inner chambers of the building.
As quick as a flash there leaped to his mind nine Martian sounds,
but as quickly faded as he answered that this was a secret
he must not divulge.
From then on his manner toward me changed as though he feared
that he had been surprised into divulging his great secret,
and I read suspicion and fear in his looks and thoughts,
though his words were still fair.
Before I retired for the night he promised to give me a
letter to a nearby agricultural officer who would help me on
my way to Zodanga, which he said, was the nearest Martian city.
"But be sure that you do not let them know you are
bound for Helium as they are at war with that country.
My assistant and I are of no country, we belong to all Barsoom
and this talisman which we wear protects us in all lands,
even among the green men--though we do not trust ourselves
to their hands if we can avoid it," he added.
"And so good-night, my friend," he continued, "may you
have a long and restful sleep--yes, a long sleep."
And though he smiled pleasantly I saw in his thoughts the
wish that he had never admitted me, and then a picture of
him standing over me in the night, and the swift thrust of
a long dagger and the half formed words, "I am sorry, but it
is for the best good of Barsoom."
As he closed the door of my chamber behind him his
thoughts were cut off from me as was the sight of him, which
seemed strange to me in my little knowledge of thought
What was I to do? How could I escape through these
mighty walls? Easily could I kill him now that I was warned,
but once he was dead I could no more escape, and with the
stopping of the machinery of the great plant I should die
with all the other inhabitants of the planet--all, even Dejah
Thoris were she not already dead. For the others I did not
give the snap of my finger, but the thought of Dejah Thoris
drove from my mind all desire to kill my mistaken host.
Cautiously I opened the door of my apartment and, followed
by Woola, sought the inner of the great doors. A wild
scheme had come to me; I would attempt to force the great
locks by the nine thought waves I had read in my host's mind.
Creeping stealthily through corridor after corridor and
down winding runways which turned hither and thither I
finally reached the great hall in which I had broken my long
fast that morning. Nowhere had I seen my host, nor did I
know where he kept himself by night.
I was on the point of stepping boldly out into the room
when a slight noise behind me warned me back into the
shadows of a recess in the corridor. Dragging Woola after
me I crouched low in the darkness.
Presently the old man passed close by me, and as he entered
the dimly lighted chamber which I had been about to
pass through I saw that he held a long thin dagger in his
hand and that he was sharpening it upon a stone. In his mind
was the decision to inspect the radium pumps, which would
take about thirty minutes, and then return to my bed chamber
and finish me.
As he passed through the great hall and disappeared down
the runway which led to the pump-room, I stole stealthily
from my hiding place and crossed to the great door, the inner
of the three which stood between me and liberty.
Concentrating my mind upon the massive lock I hurled
the nine thought waves against it. In breathless expectancy
I waited, when finally the great door moved softly toward
me and slid quietly to one side. One after the other the
remaining mighty portals opened at my command and Woola
and I stepped forth into the darkness, free, but little better
off than we had been before, other than that we had full
Hastening away from the shadows of the formidable pile
I made for the first crossroad, intending to strike the central
turnpike as quickly as possible. This I reached about morning
and entering the first enclosure I came to I searched for
some evidences of a habitation.
There were low rambling buildings of concrete barred
with heavy impassable doors, and no amount of hammering
and hallooing brought any response. Weary and exhausted
from sleeplessness I threw myself upon the ground commanding
Woola to stand guard.
Some time later I was awakened by his frightful growlings
and opened my eyes to see three red Martians standing a
short distance from us and covering me with their rifles.
"I am unarmed and no enemy," I hastened to explain. "I
have been a prisoner among the green men and am on my
way to Zodanga. All I ask is food and rest for myself and
my calot and the proper directions for reaching my destination."
They lowered their rifles and advanced pleasantly toward
me placing their right hands upon my left shoulder, after the
manner of their custom of salute, and asking me many questions
about myself and my wanderings. They then took me to the
house of one of them which was only a short distance away.
The buildings I had been hammering at in the early
morning were occupied only by stock and farm produce,
the house proper standing among a grove of enormous trees,
and, like all red-Martian homes, had been raised at night
some forty or fifty feet from the ground on a large round
metal shaft which slid up or down within a sleeve sunk in
the ground, and was operated by a tiny radium engine in
the entrance hall of the building. Instead of bothering with
bolts and bars for their dwellings, the red Martians simply
run them up out of harm's way during the night. They also
have private means for lowering or raising them from the
ground without if they wish to go away and leave them.
These brothers, with their wives and children, occupied three
similar houses on this farm. They did no work themselves,
being government officers in charge. The labor was
performed by convicts, prisoners of war, delinquent debtors
and confirmed bachelors who were too poor to pay the high
celibate tax which all red-Martian governments impose.
They were the personification of cordiality and hospitality
and I spent several days with them, resting and recuperating
from my long and arduous experiences.
When they had heard my story--I omitted all reference
to Dejah Thoris and the old man of the atmosphere plant--
they advised me to color my body to more nearly resemble
their own race and then attempt to find employment in Zodanga,
either in the army or the navy.
"The chances are small that your tale will be believed
until after you have proven your trustworthiness and won
friends among the higher nobles of the court. This you can
most easily do through military service, as we are a warlike
people on Barsoom," explained one of them, "and save our
richest favors for the fighting man."
When I was ready to depart they furnished me with a
small domestic bull thoat, such as is used for saddle
purposes by all red Martians. The animal is about the size
of a horse and quite gentle, but in color and shape an exact
replica of his huge and fierce cousin of the wilds.
The brothers had supplied me with a reddish oil with which
I anointed my entire body and one of them cut my hair,
which had grown quite long, in the prevailing fashion of the
time, square at the back and banged in front, so that I could
have passed anywhere upon Barsoom as a full-fledged red
Martian. My metal and ornaments were also renewed in the
style of a Zodangan gentleman, attached to the house of
Ptor, which was the family name of my benefactors.
They filled a little sack at my side with Zodangan money.
The medium of exchange upon Mars is not dissimilar from
our own except that the coins are oval. Paper money is
issued by individuals as they require it and redeemed twice
yearly. If a man issues more than he can redeem, the
government pays his creditors in full and the debtor works out
the amount upon the farms or in mines, which are all owned
by the government. This suits everybody except the debtor as
it has been a difficult thing to obtain sufficient voluntary
labor to work the great isolated farm lands of Mars, stretching
as they do like narrow ribbons from pole to pole, through wild
stretches peopled by wild animals and wilder men.
When I mentioned my inability to repay them for their kindness
to me they assured me that I would have ample opportunity
if I lived long upon Barsoom, and bidding me farewell
they watched me until I was out of sight upon the broad
CHAPTER XXI. AN AIR SCOUT FOR ZODANGA
As I proceeded on my journey toward Zodanga many strange and
interesting sights arrested my attention, and at the several
farm houses where I stopped I learned a number of new and
instructive things concerning the methods and manners of Barsoom.
The water which supplies the farms of Mars is collected
in immense underground reservoirs at either pole from the
melting ice caps, and pumped through long conduits to the
various populated centers. Along either side of these conduits,
and extending their entire length, lie the cultivated districts.
These are divided into tracts of about the same size, each tract
being under the supervision of one or more government officers.
Instead of flooding the surface of the fields, and thus wasting
immense quantities of water by evaporation, the precious
liquid is carried underground through a vast network of
small pipes directly to the roots of the vegetation. The crops
upon Mars are always uniform, for there are no droughts, no
rains, no high winds, and no insects, or destroying birds.
On this trip I tasted the first meat I had eaten since
leaving Earth--large, juicy steaks and chops from the well-fed
domestic animals of the farms. Also I enjoyed luscious fruits
and vegetables, but not a single article of food which was
exactly similar to anything on Earth. Every plant and flower
and vegetable and animal has been so refined by ages of careful,
scientific cultivation and breeding that the like of them on
Earth dwindled into pale, gray, characterless nothingness
At a second stop I met some highly cultivated people of
the noble class and while in conversation we chanced to
speak of Helium. One of the older men had been there on
a diplomatic mission several years before and spoke with
regret of the conditions which seemed destined ever to keep
these two countries at war.
"Helium," he said, "rightly boasts the most beautiful
women of Barsoom, and of all her treasures the wondrous
daughter of Mors Kajak, Dejah Thoris, is the most exquisite
"Why," he added, "the people really worship the ground
she walks upon and since her loss on that ill-starred
expedition all Helium has been draped in mourning.
"That our ruler should have attacked the disabled fleet
as it was returning to Helium was but another of his awful
blunders which I fear will sooner or later compel Zodanga
to elevate a wiser man to his place."
"Even now, though our victorious armies are surrounding
Helium, the people of Zodanga are voicing their displeasure,
for the war is not a popular one, since it is not based on
right or justice. Our forces took advantage of the absence
of the principal fleet of Helium on their search for the
princess, and so we have been able easily to reduce the city
to a sorry plight. it is said she will fall within the next few
passages of the further moon."
"And what, think you, may have been the fate of the
princess, Dejah Thoris?" I asked as casually as possible.
"She is dead," he answered. "This much was learned
from a green warrior recently captured by our forces in
the south. She escaped from the hordes of Thark with a
strange creature of another world, only to fall into the hands
of the Warhoons. Their thoats were found wandering upon
the sea bottom and evidences of a bloody conflict were
While this information was in no way reassuring, neither
was it at all conclusive proof of the death of Dejah Thoris,
and so I determined to make every effort possible to reach
Helium as quickly as I could and carry to Tardos Mors
such news of his granddaughter's possible whereabouts as
lay in my power.
Ten days after leaving the three Ptor brothers I arrived
at Zodanga. From the moment that I had come in contact
with the red inhabitants of Mars I had noticed that Woola
drew a great amount of unwelcome attention to me, since
the huge brute belonged to a species which is never
domesticated by the red men. Were one to stroll down
Broadway with a Numidian lion at his heels the effect would
be somewhat similar to that which I should have produced
had I entered Zodanga with Woola.
The very thought of parting with the faithful fellow caused
me so great regret and genuine sorrow that I put it off until
just before we arrived at the city's gates; but then, finally,
it became imperative that we separate. Had nothing further
than my own safety or pleasure been at stake no argument
could have prevailed upon me to turn away the one creature
upon Barsoom that had never failed in a demonstration
of affection and loyalty; but as I would willingly have offered
my life in the service of her in search of whom I was about
to challenge the unknown dangers of this, to me, mysterious
city, I could not permit even Woola's life to threaten the
success of my venture, much less his momentary happiness,
for I doubted not he soon would forget me. And so I bade
the poor beast an affectionate farewell, promising him,
however, that if I came through my adventure in safety that
in some way I should find the means to search him out.
He seemed to understand me fully, and when I pointed
back in the direction of Thark he turned sorrowfully away,
nor could I bear to watch him go; but resolutely set my
face toward Zodanga and with a touch of heartsickness
approached her frowning walls.
The letter I bore from them gained me immediate entrance
to the vast, walled city. It was still very early in
the morning and the streets were practically deserted.
The residences, raised high upon their metal columns, resembled
huge rookeries, while the uprights themselves presented the
appearance of steel tree trunks. The shops as a rule were
not raised from the ground nor were their doors bolted or
barred, since thievery is practically unknown upon Barsoom.
Assassination is the ever-present fear of all Barsoomians,
and for this reason alone their homes are raised high above
the ground at night, or in times of danger.
The Ptor brothers had given me explicit directions for
reaching the point of the city where I could find living
accommodations and be near the offices of the government
agents to whom they had given me letters. My way led to
the central square or plaza, which is a characteristic of all
The plaza of Zodanga covers a square mile and is bounded
by the palaces of the jeddak, the jeds, and other members
of the royalty and nobility of Zodanga, as well as by the
principal public buildings, cafes, and shops.
As I was crossing the great square lost in wonder and
admiration of the magnificent architecture and the gorgeous
scarlet vegetation which carpeted the broad lawns I
discovered a red Martian walking briskly toward me from one
of the avenues. He paid not the slightest attention to me,
but as he came abreast I recognized him, and turning I
placed my hand upon his shoulder, calling out:
"Kaor, Kantos Kan!"
Like lightning he wheeled and before I could so much
as lower my hand the point of his long-sword was at my
"Who are you?" he growled, and then as a backward leap
carried me fifty feet from his sword he dropped the point
to the ground and exclaimed, laughing,
"I do not need a better reply, there is but one man upon
all Barsoom who can bounce about like a rubber ball. By
the mother of the further moon, John Carter, how came
you here, and have you become a Darseen that you can
change your color at will?"
"You gave me a bad half minute my friend," he continued,
after I had briefly outlined my adventures since parting
with him in the arena at Warhoon. "Were my name
and city known to the Zodangans I would shortly be sitting
on the banks of the lost sea of Korus with my revered and
departed ancestors. I am here in the interest of Tardos
Mors, Jeddak of Helium, to discover the whereabouts of
Dejah Thoris, our princess. Sab Than, prince of Zodanga,
has her hidden in the city and has fallen madly in love
with her. His father, Than Kosis, Jeddak of Zodanga, has
made her voluntary marriage to his son the price of peace
between our countries, but Tardos Mors will not accede to
the demands and has sent word that he and his people
would rather look upon the dead face of their princess than
see her wed to any than her own choice, and that personally
he would prefer being engulfed in the ashes of a lost and
burning Helium to joining the metal of his house with that
of Than Kosis. His reply was the deadliest affront he could
have put upon Than Kosis and the Zodangans, but his people
love him the more for it and his strength in Helium is
greater today than ever.
"I have been here three days," continued Kantos Kan,
"but I have not yet found where Dejah Thoris is imprisoned.
Today I join the Zodangan navy as an air scout and I hope
in this way to win the confidence of Sab Than, the prince,
who is commander of this division of the navy, and thus
learn the whereabouts of Dejah Thoris. I am glad that you
are here, John Carter, for I know your loyalty to my princess
and two of us working together should be able to
The plaza was now commencing to fill with people going
and coming upon the daily activities of their duties. The
shops were opening and the cafes filling with early morning
patrons. Kantos Kan led me to one of these gorgeous eating
places where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus.
No hand touched the food from the time it entered the
building in its raw state until it emerged hot and delicious
upon the tables before the guests, in response to the touching
of tiny buttons to indicate their desires.
After our meal, Kantos Kan took me with him to the
headquarters of the air-scout squadron and introducing me
to his superior asked that I be enrolled as a member of the
corps. In accordance with custom an examination was necessary,
but Kantos Kan had told me to have no fear on this score as he
would attend to that part of the matter. He accomplished
this by taking my order for examination to the examining
officer and representing himself as John Carter.
"This ruse will be discovered later," he cheerfully
explained, "when they check up my weights, measurements,
and other personal identification data, but it will be
several months before this is done and our mission should
be accomplished or have failed long before that time."
The next few days were spent by Kantos Kan in teaching
me the intricacies of flying and of repairing the dainty
little contrivances which the Martians use for this purpose.
The body of the one-man air craft is about sixteen feet
long, two feet wide and three inches thick, tapering to a
point at each end. The driver sits on top of this plane upon
a seat constructed over the small, noiseless radium engine
which propels it. The medium of buoyancy is contained
within the thin metal walls of the body and consists of
the eighth Barsoomian ray, or ray of propulsion, as it may
be termed in view of its properties.
This ray, like the ninth ray, is unknown on Earth, but
the Martians have discovered that it is an inherent property
of all light no matter from what source it emanates. They
have learned that it is the solar eighth ray which propels
the light of the sun to the various planets, and that it is
the individual eighth ray of each planet which "reflects," or
propels the light thus obtained out into space once more.
The solar eighth ray would be absorbed by the surface of
Barsoom, but the Barsoomian eighth ray, which tends to
propel light from Mars into space, is constantly streaming
out from the planet constituting a force of repulsion of
gravity which when confined is able to life enormous weights
from the surface of the ground.
It is this ray which has enabled them to so perfect aviation
that battle ships far outweighing anything known upon
Earth sail as gracefully and lightly through the thin air of
Barsoom as a toy balloon in the heavy atmosphere of Earth.
During the early years of the discovery of this ray many
strange accidents occurred before the Martians learned to
measure and control the wonderful power they had found.
In one instance, some nine hundred years before, the first
great battle ship to be built with eighth ray reservoirs was
stored with too great a quantity of the rays and she had
sailed up from Helium with five hundred officers and men,
never to return.
Her power of repulsion for the planet was so great that
it had carried her far into space, where she can be seen
today, by the aid of powerful telescopes, hurtling through
the heavens ten thousand miles from Mars; a tiny satellite
that will thus encircle Barsoom to the end of time.
The fourth day after my arrival at Zodanga I made my
first flight, and as a result of it I won a promotion which
included quarters in the palace of Than Kosis.
As I rose above the city I circled several times, as I had
seen Kantos Kan do, and then throwing my engine into top
speed I raced at terrific velocity toward the south, following
one of the great waterways which enter Zodanga from that
I had traversed perhaps two hundred miles in a little less
than an hour when I descried far below me a party of
three green warriors racing madly toward a small figure on
foot which seemed to be trying to reach the confines of one
of the walled fields.
Dropping my machine rapidly toward them, and circling
to the rear of the warriors, I soon saw that the object of
their pursuit was a red Martian wearing the metal of the
scout squadron to which I was attached. A short distance
away lay his tiny flier, surrounded by the tools with which
he had evidently been occupied in repairing some damage
when surprised by the green warriors.
They were now almost upon him; their flying mounts
charging down on the relatively puny figure at terrific speed,
while the warriors leaned low to the right, with their great
metal-shod spears. Each seemed striving to be the first to
impale the poor Zodangan and in another moment his fate
would have been sealed had it not been for my timely arrival.
Driving my fleet air craft at high speed directly behind
the warriors I soon overtook them and without diminishing
my speed I rammed the prow of my little flier between the
shoulders of the nearest. The impact sufficient to have torn
through inches of solid steel, hurled the fellow's headless body
into the air over the head of his thoat, where it fell sprawling
upon the moss. The mounts of the other two warriors
turned squealing in terror, and bolted in opposite directions.
Reducing my speed I circled and came to the ground
at the feet of the astonished Zodangan. He was warm in
his thanks for my timely aid and promised that my day's
work would bring the reward it merited, for it was none
other than a cousin of the jeddak of Zodanga whose life I
We wasted no time in talk as we knew that the warriors
would surely return as soon as they had gained control of
their mounts. Hastening to his damaged machine we were
bending every effort to finish the needed repairs and had
almost completed them when we saw the two green monsters
returning at top speed from opposite sides of us. When
they had approached within a hundred yards their thoats
again became unmanageable and absolutely refused to advance
further toward the air craft which had frightened them.
The warriors finally dismounted and hobbling their animals
advanced toward us on foot with drawn long-swords.
I advanced to meet the larger, telling the Zodangan to do
the best he could with the other. Finishing my man with
almost no effort, as had now from much practice become
habitual with me, I hastened to return to my new acquaintance
whom I found indeed in desperate straits.
He was wounded and down with the huge foot of his
antagonist upon his throat and the great long-sword raised
to deal the final thrust. With a bound I cleared the fifty
feet intervening between us, and with outstretched point
drove my sword completely through the body of the green
warrior. His sword fell, harmless, to the ground and he sank
limply upon the prostrate form of the Zodangan.
A cursory examination of the latter revealed no mortal
injuries and after a brief rest he asserted that he felt fit to
attempt the return voyage. He would have to pilot his
own craft, however, as these frail vessels are not intended
to convey but a single person.
Quickly completing the repairs we rose together into the
still, cloudless Martian sky, and at great speed and without
further mishap returned to Zodanga.
As we neared the city we discovered a mighty concourse
of civilians and troops assembled upon the plain before the
city. The sky was black with naval vessels and private and
public pleasure craft, flying long streamers of gay-colored
silks, and banners and flags of odd and picturesque design.
My companion signaled that I slow down, and running
his machine close beside mine suggested that we approach
and watch the ceremony, which, he said, was for the purpose
of conferring honors on individual officers and men for
bravery and other distinguished service. He then unfurled
a little ensign which denoted that his craft bore a member
of the royal family of Zodanga, and together we made our
way through the maze of low-lying air vessels until we hung
directly over the jeddak of Zodanga and his staff. All were
mounted upon the small domestic bull thoats of the red
Martians, and their trappings and ornamentation bore such
a quantity of gorgeously colored feathers that I could not but
be struck with the startling resemblance the concourse bore
to a band of the red Indians of my own Earth.
One of the staff called the attention of Than Kosis to the
presence of my companion above them and the ruler motioned
for him to descend. As they waited for the troops
to move into position facing the jeddak the two talked
earnestly together, the jeddak and his staff occasionally
glancing up at me. I could not hear their conversation and
presently it ceased and all dismounted, as the last body of
troops had wheeled into position before their emperor. A
member of the staff advanced toward the troops, and calling
the name of a soldier commanded him to advance. The
officer then recited the nature of the heroic act which had
won the approval of the jeddak, and the latter advanced
and placed a metal ornament upon the left arm of the
Ten men had been so decorated when the aide called out,
"John Carter, air scout!"
Never in my life had I been so surprised, but the habit
of military discipline is strong within me, and I dropped
my little machine lightly to the ground and advanced on
foot as I had seen the others do. As I halted before the
officer, he addressed me in a voice audible to the entire
assemblage of troops and spectators.
"In recognition, John Carter," he said, "of your remarkable
courage and skill in defending the person of the cousin
of the jeddak Than Kosis and, singlehanded, vanquishing
three green warriors, it is the pleasure of our jeddak to
confer on you the mark of his esteem."
Than Kosis then advanced toward me and placing an
ornament upon me, said:
"My cousin has narrated the details of your wonderful
achievement, which seems little short of miraculous, and if
you can so well defend a cousin of the jeddak how much
better could you defend the person of the jeddak himself.
You are therefore appointed a padwar of The Guards and
will be quartered in my palace hereafter."
I thanked him, and at his direction joined the members
of his staff. After the ceremony I returned my machine to
its quarters on the roof of the barracks of the air-scout
squadron, and with an orderly from the palace to guide me
I reported to the officer in charge of the palace.
CHAPTER XXII. I FIND DEJAH
The major-domo to whom I reported had been given instructions
to station me near the person of the jeddak, who, in time
of war, is always in great danger of assassination, as the
rule that all is fair in war seems to constitute the entire
ethics of Martian conflict.
He therefore escorted me immediately to the apartment
in which Than Kosis then was. The ruler was engaged in
conversation with his son, Sab Than, and several courtiers
of his household, and did not perceive my entrance.
The walls of the apartment were completely hung with
splendid tapestries which hid any windows or doors which
may have pierced them. The room was lighted by imprisoned
rays of sunshine held between the ceiling proper and what
appeared to be a ground-glass false ceiling a few inches
My guide drew aside one of the tapestries, disclosing a
passage which encircled the room, between the hangings and
the walls of the chamber. Within this passage I was to
remain, he said, so long as Than Kosis was in the apartment.
When he left I was to follow. My only duty was to guard
the ruler and keep out of sight as much as possible. I
would be relieved after a period of four hours. The major-
domo then left me.
The tapestries were of a strange weaving which gave the
appearance of heavy solidity from one side, but from my hiding
place I could perceive all that took place within the room as
readily as though there had been no curtain intervening.
Scarcely had I gained my post than the tapestry at the
opposite end of the chamber separated and four soldiers of
The Guard entered, surrounding a female figure. As they
approached Than Kosis the soldiers fell to either side and
there standing before the jeddak and not ten feet from me,
her beautiful face radiant with smiles, was Dejah Thoris.
Sab Than, Prince of Zodanga, advanced to meet her, and
hand in hand they approached close to the jeddak. Than
Kosis looked up in surprise, and, rising, saluted her.
"To what strange freak do I owe this visit from the Princess
of Helium, who, two days ago, with rare consideration
for my pride, assured me that she would prefer Tal Hajus,
the green Thark, to my son?"
Dejah Thoris only smiled the more and with the roguish dimples
playing at the corners of her mouth she made answer:
"From the beginning of time upon Barsoom it has been
the prerogative of woman to change her mind as she listed
and to dissemble in matters concerning her heart. That you
will forgive, Than Kosis, as has your son. Two days ago I
was not sure of his love for me, but now I am, and I have
come to beg of you to forget my rash words and to accept
the assurance of the Princess of Helium that when the time
comes she will wed Sab Than, Prince of Zodanga."
"I am glad that you have so decided," replied Than Kosis.
"It is far from my desire to push war further against the
people of Helium, and, your promise shall be recorded and
a proclamation to my people issued forthwith."
"It were better, Than Kosis," interrupted Dejah Thoris,
"that the proclamation wait the ending of this war. It would
look strange indeed to my people and to yours were the
Princess of Helium to give herself to her country's enemy
in the midst of hostilities."
"Cannot the war be ended at once?" spoke Sab Than.
"It requires but the word of Than Kosis to bring peace.
Say it, my father, say the word that will hasten my
happiness, and end this unpopular strife."
"We shall see," replied Than Kosis, "how the people of
Helium take to peace. I shall at least offer it to them."
Dejah Thoris, after a few words, turned and left the
apartment, still followed by her guards.
Thus was the edifice of my brief dream of happiness
dashed, broken, to the ground of reality. The woman for
whom I had offered my life, and from whose lips I had so
recently heard a declaration of love for me, had lightly
forgotten my very existence and smilingly given herself to
the son of her people's most hated enemy.
Although I had heard it with my own ears I could not
believe it. I must search out her apartments and force her
to repeat the cruel truth to me alone before I would be
convinced, and so I deserted my post and hastened through
the passage behind the tapestries toward the door by which
she had left the chamber. Slipping quietly through this
opening I discovered a maze of winding corridors, branching
and turning in every direction.
Running rapidly down first one and then another of them
I soon became hopelessly lost and was standing panting
against a side wall when I heard voices near me. Apparently
they were coming from the opposite side of the partition
against which I leaned and presently I made out the tones
of Dejah Thoris. I could not hear the words but I knew
that I could not possibly be mistaken in the voice.
Moving on a few steps I discovered another passageway
at the end of which lay a door. Walking boldly forward I
pushed into the room only to find myself in a small ante-
chamber in which were the four guards who had accompanied
her. One of them instantly arose and accosted me, asking
the nature of my business.
"I am from Than Kosis," I replied, "and wish to speak
privately with Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium."
"And your order?" asked the fellow.
I did not know what he meant, but replied that I was a
member of The Guard, and without waiting for a reply
from him I strode toward the opposite door of the ante-
chamber, behind which I could hear Dejah Thoris conversing.
But my entrance was not to be so easily accomplished.
The guardsman stepped before me, saying,
"No one comes from Than Kosis without carrying an
order or the password. You must give me one or the other
before you may pass."
"The only order I require, my friend, to enter where I
will, hangs at my side," I answered, tapping my long-sword;
"will you let me pass in peace or no?"
For reply he whipped out his own sword, calling to the
others to join him, and thus the four stood, with drawn
weapons, barring my further progress.
"You are not here by the order of Than Kosis," cried
the one who had first addressed me, "and not only shall
you not enter the apartments of the Princess of Helium but
you shall go back to Than Kosis under guard to explain
this unwarranted temerity. Throw down your sword; you
cannot hope to overcome four of us," he added with a grim
My reply was a quick thrust which left me but three
antagonists and I can assure you that they were worthy of
my metal. They had me backed against the wall in no time,
fighting for my life. Slowly I worked my way to a corner
of the room where I could force them to come at me only
one at a time, and thus we fought upward of twenty minutes;
the clanging of steel on steel producing a veritable bedlam
in the little room.
The noise had brought Dejah Thoris to the door of her
apartment, and there she stood throughout the conflict with
Sola at her back peering over her shoulder. Her face was
set and emotionless and I knew that she did not recognize
me, nor did Sola.
Finally a lucky cut brought down a second guardsman
and then, with only two opposing me, I changed my tactics
and rushed them down after the fashion of my fighting
that had won me many a victory. The third fell within ten
seconds after the second, and the last lay dead upon the
bloody floor a few moments later. They were brave men
and noble fighters, and it grieved me that I had been forced
to kill them, but I would have willingly depopulated all
Barsoom could I have reached the side of my Dejah Thoris
in no other way.
Sheathing my bloody blade I advanced toward my Martian
Princess, who still stood mutely gazing at me without
sign of recognition.
"Who are you, Zodangan?" she whispered. "Another enemy
to harass me in my misery?"
"I am a friend," I answered, "a once cherished friend."
"No friend of Helium's princess wears that metal," she replied,
"and yet the voice! I have heard it before; it is not--it
cannot be--no, for he is dead."
"It is, though, my Princess, none other than John Carter,"
I said. "Do you not recognize, even through paint and
strange metal, the heart of your chieftain?"
As I came close to her she swayed toward me with outstretched
hands, but as I reached to take her in my arms she drew back
with a shudder and a little moan of misery.
"Too late, too late," she grieved. "O my chieftain that was,
and whom I thought dead, had you but returned one little
hour before--but now it is too late, too late."
"What do you mean, Dejah Thoris?" I cried. "That you
would not have promised yourself to the Zodangan prince
had you known that I lived?"
"Think you, John Carter, that I would give my heart to you
yesterday and today to another? I thought that it lay buried
with your ashes in the pits of Warhoon, and so today I have
promised my body to another to save my people from the
curse of a victorious Zodangan army."
"But I am not dead, my princess. I have come to claim
you, and all Zodanga cannot prevent it."
"It is too late, John Carter, my promise is given, and on
Barsoom that is final. The ceremonies which follow later are
but meaningless formalities. They make the fact of marriage
no more certain than does the funeral cortege of a jeddak
again place the seal of death upon him. I am as good as
married, John Carter. No longer may you call me your
princess. No longer are you my chieftain."
"I know but little of your customs here upon Barsoom,
Dejah Thoris, but I do know that I love you, and if you
meant the last words you spoke to me that day as the hordes
of Warhoon were charging down upon us, no other man shall
ever claim you as his bride. You meant them then, my
princess, and you mean them still! Say that it is true."
"I meant them, John Carter," she whispered. "I cannot
repeat them now for I have given myself to another. Ah,
if you had only known our ways, my friend," she continued,
half to herself, "the promise would have been yours long
months ago, and you could have claimed me before all others.
It might have meant the fall of Helium, but I would have
given my empire for my Tharkian chief."
Then aloud she said: "Do you remember the night when
you offended me? You called me your princess without having
asked my hand of me, and then you boasted that you had
fought for me. You did not know, and I should not have
been offended; I see that now. But there was no one to tell
you what I could not, that upon Barsoom there are two
kinds of women in the cities of the red men. The one they
fight for that they may ask them in marriage; the other kind
they fight for also, but never ask their hands. When a man
has won a woman he may address her as his princess, or in
any of the several terms which signify possession. You had
fought for me, but had never asked me in marriage, and so
when you called me your princess, you see," she faltered,
"I was hurt, but even then, John Carter, I did not repulse you,
as I should have done, until you made it doubly worse by
taunting me with having won me through combat."
"I do not need ask your forgiveness now, Dejah Thoris,"
I cried. "You must know that my fault was of ignorance of
your Barsoomian customs. What I failed to do, through
implicit belief that my petition would be presumptuous and
unwelcome, I do now, Dejah Thoris; I ask you to be my wife,
and by all the Virginian fighting blood that flows in my
veins you shall be."
"No, John Carter, it is useless," she cried, hopelessly,
"I may never be yours while Sab Than lives."
"You have sealed his death warrant, my princess--Sab Than dies."
"Nor that either," she hastened to explain. "I may not
wed the man who slays my husband, even in self-defense.
It is custom. We are ruled by custom upon Barsoom. It is
useless, my friend. You must bear the sorrow with me. That
at least we may share in common. That, and the memory of
the brief days among the Tharks. You must go now, nor ever
see me again. Good-bye, my chieftain that was."
Disheartened and dejected, I withdrew from the room,
but I was not entirely discouraged, nor would I admit that
Dejah Thoris was lost to me until the ceremony had actually
As I wandered along the corridors, I was as absolutely
lost in the mazes of winding passageways as I had been
before I discovered Dejah Thoris' apartments.
I knew that my only hope lay in escape from the city of
Zodanga, for the matter of the four dead guardsmen would
have to be explained, and as I could never reach my original
post without a guide, suspicion would surely rest on me so
soon as I was discovered wandering aimlessly through the
Presently I came upon a spiral runway leading to a lower
floor, and this I followed downward for several stories until
I reached the doorway of a large apartment in which were a
number of guardsmen. The walls of this room were hung with
transparent tapestries behind which I secreted myself without
The conversation of the guardsmen was general, and
awakened no interest in me until an officer entered the room
and ordered four of the men to relieve the detail who were
guarding the Princess of Helium. Now, I knew, my troubles
would commence in earnest and indeed they were upon
me all too soon, for it seemed that the squad had scarcely
left the guardroom before one of their number burst in
again breathlessly, crying that they had found their four
comrades butchered in the antechamber.
In a moment the entire palace was alive with people.
Guardsmen, officers, courtiers, servants, and slaves ran
helter-skelter through the corridors and apartments carrying
messages and orders, and searching for signs of the assassin.
This was my opportunity and slim as it appeared I grasped it,
for as a number of soldiers came hurrying past my hiding place
I fell in behind them and followed through the mazes of the
palace until, in passing through a great hall, I saw the blessed
light of day coming in through a series of larger windows.
Here I left my guides, and, slipping to the nearest window,
sought for an avenue of escape. The windows opened
upon a great balcony which overlooked one of the broad
avenues of Zodanga. The ground was about thirty feet below,
and at a like distance from the building was a wall fully
twenty feet high, constructed of polished glass about a foot
in thickness. To a red Martian escape by this path would have
appeared impossible, but to me, with my earthly strength
and agility, it seemed already accomplished. My only fear
was in being detected before darkness fell, for I could not
make the leap in broad daylight while the court below and
the avenue beyond were crowded with Zodangans.
Accordingly I searched for a hiding place and finally found
one by accident, inside a huge hanging ornament which
swung from the ceiling of the hall, and about ten feet from
the floor. Into the capacious bowl-like vase I sprang with
ease, and scarcely had I settled down within it than I heard
a number of people enter the apartment. The group stopped
beneath my hiding place and I could plainly overhear their
"It is the work of Heliumites," said one of the men.
"Yes, O Jeddak, but how had they access to the palace? I
could believe that even with the diligent care of your
guardsmen a single enemy might reach the inner chambers,
but how a force of six or eight fighting men could have
done so unobserved is beyond me. We shall soon know, however,
for here comes the royal psychologist."
Another man now joined the group, and, after making his
formal greetings to his ruler, said:
"O mighty Jeddak, it is a strange tale I read in the dead
minds of your faithful guardsmen. They were felled not by a
number of fighting men, but by a single opponent."
He paused to let the full weight of this announcement
impress his hearers, and that his statement was scarcely
credited was evidenced by the impatient exclamation of
incredulity which escaped the lips of Than Kosis.
"What manner of weird tale are you bringing me, Notan?" he cried.
"It is the truth, my Jeddak," replied the psychologist.
"In fact the impressions were strongly marked on the brain
of each of the four guardsmen. Their antagonist was a very
tall man, wearing the metal of one of your own guardsmen,
and his fighting ability was little short of marvelous for he
fought fair against the entire four and vanquished them by
his surpassing skill and superhuman strength and endurance.
Though he wore the metal of Zodanga, my Jeddak, such a
man was never seen before in this or any other country upon
"The mind of the Princess of Helium whom I have examined
and questioned was a blank to me, she has perfect
control, and I could not read one iota of it. She said that
she witnessed a portion of the encounter, and that when she
looked there was but one man engaged with the guardsmen;
a man whom she did not recognize as ever having seen."
"Where is my erstwhile savior?" spoke another of the
party, and I recognized the voice of the cousin of Than Kosis,
whom I had rescued from the green warriors. "By the metal
of my first ancestor," he went on, "but the description fits
him to perfection, especially as to his fighting ability."
"Where is this man?" cried Than Kosis. "Have him brought
to me at once. What know you of him, cousin? It seemed
strange to me now that I think upon it that there should
have been such a fighting man in Zodanga, of whose name,
even, we were ignorant before today. And his name too,
John Carter, who ever heard of such a name upon Barsoom!"
Word was soon brought that I was nowhere to be found,
either in the palace or at my former quarters in the
barracks of the air-scout squadron. Kantos Kan, they had
found and questioned, but he knew nothing of my whereabouts,
and as to my past, he had told them he knew as little, since he
had but recently met me during our captivity among the Warhoons.
"Keep your eyes on this other one," commanded Than Kosis.
"He also is a stranger and likely as not they both hail
from Helium, and where one is we shall sooner or later
find the other. Quadruple the air patrol, and let every man
who leaves the city by air or ground be subjected to the
Another messenger now entered with word that I was still
within the palace walls.
"The likeness of every person who has entered or left the
palace grounds today has been carefully examined," concluded
the fellow, "and not one approaches the likeness of this new
padwar of the guards, other than that which was recorded of
him at the time he entered."
"Then we will have him shortly," commented Than Kosis
contentedly, "and in the meanwhile we will repair to the
apartments of the Princess of Helium and question her in
regard to the affair. She may know more than she cared to
divulge to you, Notan. Come."
They left the hall, and, as darkness had fallen without, I
slipped lightly from my hiding place and hastened to the
balcony. Few were in sight, and choosing a moment when
none seemed near I sprang quickly to the top of the glass
wall and from there to the avenue beyond the palace grounds.
CHAPTER XXIII. LOST IN THE SKY
Without effort at concealment I hastened to the vicinity of
our quarters, where I felt sure I should find Kantos Kan. As
I neared the building I became more careful, as I judged,
and rightly, that the place would be guarded. Several men in
civilian metal loitered near the front entrance and in the
rear were others. My only means of reaching, unseen, the
upper story where our apartments were situated was through
an adjoining building, and after considerable maneuvering I
managed to attain the roof of a shop several doors away.
Leaping from roof to roof, I soon reached an open window
in the building where I hoped to find the Heliumite, and in
another moment I stood in the room before him. He was
alone and showed no surprise at my coming, saying he had
expected me much earlier, as my tour of duty must have
ended some time since.
I saw that he knew nothing of the events of the day at
the palace, and when I had enlightened him he was all
excitement. The news that Dejah Thoris had promised her
hand to Sab Than filled him with dismay.
"It cannot be," he exclaimed. "It is impossible! Why no
man in all Helium but would prefer death to the selling of
our loved princess to the ruling house of Zodanga. She must
have lost her mind to have assented to such an atrocious
bargain. You, who do not know how we of Helium love
the members of our ruling house, cannot appreciate the
horror with which I contemplate such an unholy alliance."
"What can be done, John Carter?" he continued. "You are
a resourceful man. Can you not think of some way to save
Helium from this disgrace?"
"If I can come within sword's reach of Sab Than," I answered,
"I can solve the difficulty in so far as Helium is concerned,
but for personal reasons I would prefer that another struck
the blow that frees Dejah Thoris."
Kantos Kan eyed me narrowly before he spoke.
"You love her!" he said. "Does she know it?"
"She knows it, Kantos Kan, and repulses me only because
she is promised to Sab Than."
The splendid fellow sprang to his feet, and grasping me
by the shoulder raised his sword on high, exclaiming:
"And had the choice been left to me I could not have
chosen a more fitting mate for the first princess of Barsoom.
Here is my hand upon your shoulder, John Carter, and my
word that Sab Than shall go out at the point of my sword
for the sake of my love for Helium, for Dejah Thoris, and for
you. This very night I shall try to reach his quarters in the
"How?" I asked. "You are strongly guarded and a quadruple
force patrols the sky."
He bent his head in thought a moment, then raised it
with an air of confidence.
"I only need to pass these guards and I can do it," he said
at last. "I know a secret entrance to the palace through
the pinnacle of the highest tower. I fell upon it by chance
one day as I was passing above the palace on patrol duty.
In this work it is required that we investigate any unusual
occurrence we may witness, and a face peering from the pinnacle
of the high tower of the palace was, to me, most unusual.
I therefore drew near and discovered that the possessor of
the peering face was none other than Sab Than. He was slightly
put out at being detected and commanded me to keep the
matter to myself, explaining that the passage from the tower
led directly to his apartments, and was known only to him.
If I can reach the roof of the barracks and get my machine
I can be in Sab Than's quarters in five minutes; but how am
I to escape from this building, guarded as you say it is?"
"How well are the machine sheds at the barracks guarded?" I asked.
"There is usually but one man on duty there at night upon
"Go to the roof of this building, Kantos Kan, and wait
Without stopping to explain my plans I retraced my way to
the street and hastened to the barracks. I did not dare to enter
the building, filled as it was with members of the air-scout
squadron, who, in common with all Zodanga, were on the
lookout for me.
The building was an enormous one, rearing its lofty head
fully a thousand feet into the air. But few buildings in
Zodanga were higher than these barracks, though several topped
it by a few hundred feet; the docks of the great battleships
of the line standing some fifteen hundred feet from the
ground, while the freight and passenger stations of the
merchant squadrons rose nearly as high.
It was a long climb up the face of the building, and one
fraught with much danger, but there was no other way, and
so I essayed the task. The fact that Barsoomian architecture
is extremely ornate made the feat much simpler than I had
anticipated, since I found ornamental ledges and projections
which fairly formed a perfect ladder for me all the way to the
eaves of the building. Here I met my first real obstacle. The
eaves projected nearly twenty feet from the wall to which I
clung, and though I encircled the great building I could find
no opening through them.
The top floor was alight, and filled with soldiers engaged
in the pastimes of their kind; I could not, therefore, reach
the roof through the building.
There was one slight, desperate chance, and that I decided
I must take--it was for Dejah Thoris, and no man has lived
who would not risk a thousand deaths for such as she.
Clinging to the wall with my feet and one hand, I unloosened
one of the long leather straps of my trappings at the end
of which dangled a great hook by which air sailors are hung
to the sides and bottoms of their craft for various purposes
of repair, and by means of which landing parties are lowered
to the ground from the battleships.
I swung this hook cautiously to the roof several times
before it finally found lodgment; gently I pulled on it to
strengthen its hold, but whether it would bear the weight of
my body I did not know. It might be barely caught upon the
very outer verge of the roof, so that as my body swung out
at the end of the strap it would slip off and launch me to
the pavement a thousand feet below.
An instant I hesitated, and then, releasing my grasp upon
the supporting ornament, I swung out into space at the end
of the strap. Far below me lay the brilliantly lighted streets,
the hard pavements, and death. There was a little jerk at
the top of the supporting eaves, and a nasty slipping, grating
sound which turned me cold with apprehension; then the
hook caught and I was safe.
Clambering quickly aloft I grasped the edge of the eaves
and drew myself to the surface of the roof above. As I gained
my feet I was confronted by the sentry on duty, into the
muzzle of whose revolver I found myself looking.
"Who are you and whence came you?" he cried.
"I am an air scout, friend, and very near a dead one,
for just by the merest chance I escaped falling to the avenue
below," I replied.
"But how came you upon the roof, man? No one has
landed or come up from the building for the past hour.
Quick, explain yourself, or I call the guard."
"Look you here, sentry, and you shall see how I came and
how close a shave I had to not coming at all," I answered,
turning toward the edge of the roof, where, twenty feet
below, at the end of my strap, hung all my weapons.
The fellow, acting on impulse of curiosity, stepped to my
side and to his undoing, for as he leaned to peer over the
eaves I grasped him by his throat and his pistol arm and
threw him heavily to the roof. The weapon dropped from
his grasp, and my fingers choked off his attempted cry for
assistance. I gagged and bound him and then hung him
over the edge of the roof as I myself had hung a few
moments before. I knew it would be morning before he would
be discovered, and I needed all the time that I could gain.
Donning my trappings and weapons I hastened to the
sheds, and soon had out both my machine and Kantos Kan's.
Making his fast behind mine I started my engine, and skimming
over the edge of the roof I dove down into the streets of
the city far below the plane usually occupied by the air
patrol. In less than a minute I was settling safely upon
the roof of our apartment beside the astonished Kantos Kan.
I lost no time in explanation, but plunged immediately
into a discussion of our plans for the immediate future.
It was decided that I was to try to make Helium while Kantos
Kan was to enter the palace and dispatch Sab Than. If successful
he was then to follow me. He set my compass for me, a clever
little device which will remain steadfastly fixed upon any given
point on the surface of Barsoom, and bidding each other farewell
we rose together and sped in the direction of the palace which
lay in the route which I must take to reach Helium.
As we neared the high tower a patrol shot down from
above, throwing its piercing searchlight full upon my craft,
and a voice roared out a command to halt, following with a
shot as I paid no attention to his hail. Kantos Kan dropped
quickly into the darkness, while I rose steadily and at terrific
speed raced through the Martian sky followed by a dozen of
the air-scout craft which had joined the pursuit, and later
by a swift cruiser carrying a hundred men and a battery of
rapid-fire guns. By twisting and turning my little machine,
now rising and now falling, I managed to elude their search-
lights most of the time, but I was also losing ground by these
tactics, and so I decided to hazard everything on a straight-
away course and leave the result to fate and the speed of my
Kantos Kan had shown me a trick of gearing, which is known
only to the navy of Helium, that greatly increased the speed
of our machines, so that I felt sure I could distance
my pursuers if I could dodge their projectiles for a few moments.
As I sped through the air the screeching of the bullets
around me convinced me that only by a miracle could I escape,
but the die was cast, and throwing on full speed I raced
a straight course toward Helium. Gradually I left my
pursuers further and further behind, and I was just
congratulating myself on my lucky escape, when a well-directed
shot from the cruiser exploded at the prow of my little craft.
The concussion nearly capsized her, and with a sickening
plunge she hurtled downward through the dark night.
How far I fell before I regained control of the plane I do
not know, but I must have been very close to the ground
when I started to rise again, as I plainly heard the squealing
of animals below me. Rising again I scanned the heavens for
my pursuers, and finally making out their lights far behind me,
saw that they were landing, evidently in search of me.
Not until their lights were no longer discernible did I
venture to flash my little lamp upon my compass, and then
I found to my consternation that a fragment of the
projectile had utterly destroyed my only guide, as well as my
speedometer. It was true I could follow the stars in the
general direction of Helium, but without knowing the exact
location of the city or the speed at which I was traveling
my chances for finding it were slim.
Helium lies a thousand miles southwest of Zodanga, and
with my compass intact I should have made the trip, barring
accidents, in between four and five hours. As it turned
out, however, morning found me speeding over a vast expanse
of dead sea bottom after nearly six hours of continuous
flight at high speed. Presently a great city showed
below me, but it was not Helium, as that alone of all
Barsoomian metropolises consists in two immense circular
walled cities about seventy-five miles apart and would
have been easily distinguishable from the altitude at
which I was flying.
Believing that I had come too far to the north and west,
I turned back in a southeasterly direction, passing during
the forenoon several other large cities, but none resembling
the description which Kantos Kan had given me of Helium.
In addition to the twin-city formation of Helium, another
distinguishing feature is the two immense towers, one of
vivid scarlet rising nearly a mile into the air from the
center of one of the cities, while the other, of bright yellow
and of the same height, marks her sister.
CHAPTER XXIV. TARS TARKAS FINDS A FRIEND
About noon I passed low over a great dead city of ancient
Mars, and as I skimmed out across the plain beyond I
came full upon several thousand green warriors engaged in
a terrific battle. Scarcely had I seen them than a volley of
shots was directed at me, and with the almost unfailing
accuracy of their aim my little craft was instantly a ruined
wreck, sinking erratically to the ground.
I fell almost directly in the center of the fierce combat,
among warriors who had not seen my approach so busily
were they engaged in life and death struggles. The men
were fighting on foot with long-swords, while an occasional
shot from a sharpshooter on the outskirts of the conflict
would bring down a warrior who might for an instant separate
himself from the entangled mass.
As my machine sank among them I realized that it was fight
or die, with good chances of dying in any event, and so I
struck the ground with drawn long-sword ready to defend
myself as I could.
I fell beside a huge monster who was engaged with three
antagonists, and as I glanced at his fierce face, filled with
the light of battle, I recognized Tars Tarkas the Thark. He
did not see me, as I was a trifle behind him, and just then
the three warriors opposing him, and whom I recognized
as Warhoons, charged simultaneously. The mighty fellow
made quick work of one of them, but in stepping back for
another thrust he fell over a dead body behind him and
was down and at the mercy of his foes in an instant. Quick
as lightning they were upon him, and Tars Tarkas would
have been gathered to his fathers in short order had I not
sprung before his prostrate form and engaged his adversaries.
I had accounted for one of them when the mighty Thark
regained his feet and quickly settled the other.
He gave me one look, and a slight smile touched his grim
lip as, touching my shoulder, he said,
"I would scarcely recognize you, John Carter, but there
is no other mortal upon Barsoom who would have done
what you have for me. I think I have learned that there is
such a thing as friendship, my friend."
He said no more, nor was there opportunity, for the
Warhoons were closing in about us, and together we fought,
shoulder to shoulder, during all that long, hot afternoon,
until the tide of battle turned and the remnant of the fierce
Warhoon horde fell back upon their thoats, and fled into
the gathering darkness.
Ten thousand men had been engaged in that titanic struggle,
and upon the field of battle lay three thousand dead.
Neither side asked or gave quarter, nor did they attempt
to take prisoners.
On our return to the city after the battle we had gone
directly to Tars Tarkas' quarters, where I was left alone
while the chieftain attended the customary council which
immediately follows an engagement.
As I sat awaiting the return of the green warrior I heard
something move in an adjoining apartment, and as I glanced
up there rushed suddenly upon me a huge and hideous
creature which bore me backward upon the pile of silks and
furs upon which I had been reclining. It was Woola--faithful,
loving Woola. He had found his way back to Thark and,
as Tars Tarkas later told me, had gone immediately to my
former quarters where he had taken up his pathetic and
seemingly hopeless watch for my return.
"Tal Hajus knows that you are here, John Carter," said
Tars Tarkas, on his return from the jeddak's quarters;
"Sarkoja saw and recognized you as we were returning. Tal
Hajus has ordered me to bring you before him tonight. I
have ten thoats, John Carter; you may take your choice
from among them, and I will accompany you to the nearest
waterway that leads to Helium. Tars Tarkas may be a cruel
green warrior, but he can be a friend as well. Come, we
"And when you return, Tars Tarkas?" I asked.
"The wild calots, possibly, or worse," he replied. "Unless
I should chance to have the opportunity I have so long
waited of battling with Tal Hajus."
"We will stay, Tars Tarkas, and see Tal Hajus tonight.
You shall not sacrifice yourself, and it may be that tonight
you can have the chance you wait."
He objected strenuously, saying that Tal Hajus often flew
into wild fits of passion at the mere thought of the blow I
had dealt him, and that if ever he laid his hands upon me
I would be subjected to the most horrible tortures.
While we were eating I repeated to Tars Tarkas the story
which Sola had told me that night upon the sea bottom
during the march to Thark.
He said but little, but the great muscles of his face
worked in passion and in agony at recollection of the
horrors which had been heaped upon the only thing he had
ever loved in all his cold, cruel, terrible existence.
He no longer demurred when I suggested that we go before
Tal Hajus, only saying that he would like to speak to
Sarkoja first. At his request I accompanied him to her
quarters, and the look of venomous hatred she cast upon
me was almost adequate recompense for any future misfortunes
this accidental return to Thark might bring me.
"Sarkoja," said Tars Tarkas, "forty years ago you were
instrumental in bringing about the torture and death of a
woman named Gozava. I have just discovered that the warrior
who loved that woman has learned of your part in the transaction.
He may not kill you, Sarkoja, it is not our custom, but there is
nothing to prevent him tying one end of a strap about your neck
and the other end to a wild thoat, merely to test your fitness
to survive and help perpetuate our race. Having heard that he
would do this on the morrow, I thought it only right to warn you,
for I am a just man. The river Iss is but a short pilgrimage,
Sarkoja. Come, John Carter."
The next morning Sarkoja was gone, nor was she ever seen after.
In silence we hastened to the jeddak's palace, where we were
immediately admitted to his presence; in fact, he could
scarcely wait to see me and was standing erect upon his
platform glowering at the entrance as I came in.
"Strap him to that pillar," he shrieked. "We shall see who
it is dares strike the mighty Tal Hajus. Heat the irons; with
my own hands I shall burn the eyes from his head that he
may not pollute my person with his vile gaze."
"Chieftains of Thark," I cried, turning to the assembled
council and ignoring Tal Hajus, "I have been a chief among
you, and today I have fought for Thark shoulder to shoulder
with her greatest warrior. You owe me, at least, a hearing.
I have won that much today. You claim to be just people--"
"Silence," roared Tal Hajus. "Gag the creature and bind
him as I command."
"Justice, Tal Hajus," exclaimed Lorquas Ptomel. "Who are
you to set aside the customs of ages among the Tharks."
"Yes, justice!" echoed a dozen voices, and so, while Tal
Hajus fumed and frothed, I continued.
"You are a brave people and you love bravery, but where
was your mighty jeddak during the fighting today? I did
not see him in the thick of battle; he was not there. He
rends defenseless women and little children in his lair, but
how recently has one of you seen him fight with men? Why,
even I, a midget beside him, felled him with a single blow
of my fist. Is it of such that the Tharks fashion their jeddaks?
There stands beside me now a great Thark, a mighty warrior
and a noble man. Chieftains, how sounds, Tars Tarkas,
Jeddak of Thark?"
A roar of deep-toned applause greeted this suggestion.
"It but remains for this council to command, and Tal Hajus
must prove his fitness to rule. Were he a brave man he would
invite Tars Tarkas to combat, for he does not love him,
but Tal Hajus is afraid; Tal Hajus, your jeddak, is a coward.
With my bare hands I could kill him, and he knows it."
After I ceased there was tense silence, as all eyes were
riveted upon Tal Hajus. He did not speak or move, but the
blotchy green of his countenance turned livid, and the froth
froze upon his lips.
"Tal Hajus," said Lorquas Ptomel in a cold, hard voice,
"never in my long life have I seen a jeddak of the Tharks
so humiliated. There could be but one answer to this arraignment.
We wait it." And still Tal Hajus stood as though electrified.
"Chieftains," continued Lorquas Ptomel, "shall the jeddak,
Tal Hajus, prove his fitness to rule over Tars Tarkas?"
There were twenty chieftains about the rostrum, and
twenty swords flashed high in assent.
There was no alternative. That decree was final, and so
Tal Hajus drew his long-sword and advanced to meet Tars Tarkas.
The combat was soon over, and, with his foot upon the neck of
the dead monster, Tars Tarkas became jeddak among the Tharks.
His first act was to make me a full-fledged chieftain with
the rank I had won by my combats the first few weeks
of my captivity among them.
Seeing the favorable disposition of the warriors toward
Tars Tarkas, as well as toward me, I grasped the opportunity
to enlist them in my cause against Zodanga. I told Tars Tarkas
the story of my adventures, and in a few words had explained
to him the thought I had in mind.
"John Carter has made a proposal," he said, addressing
the council, "which meets with my sanction. I shall put it
to you briefly. Dejah Thoris, the Princess of Helium, who
was our prisoner, is now held by the jeddak of Zodanga,
whose son she must wed to save her country from devastation
at the hands of the Zodangan forces.
"John Carter suggests that we rescue her and return her
to Helium. The loot of Zodanga would be magnificent, and
I have often thought that had we an alliance with the people
of Helium we could obtain sufficient assurance of sustenance
to permit us to increase the size and frequency of our hatchings,
and thus become unquestionably supreme among the green men of
all Barsoom. What say you?"
It was a chance to fight, an opportunity to loot, and they
rose to the bait as a speckled trout to a fly.
For Tharks they were wildly enthusiastic, and before another half
hour had passed twenty mounted messengers were speeding across
dead sea bottoms to call the hordes together for the expedition.
In three days we were on the march toward Zodanga,
one hundred thousand strong, as Tars Tarkas had been able
to enlist the services of three smaller hordes on the promise
of the great loot of Zodanga.
At the head of the column I rode beside the great Thark
while at the heels of my mount trotted my beloved Woola.
We traveled entirely by night, timing our marches so that
we camped during the day at deserted cities where, even
to the beasts, we were all kept indoors during the daylight
hours. On the march Tars Tarkas, through his remarkable
ability and statesmanship, enlisted fifty thousand more warriors
from various hordes, so that, ten days after we set out we halted
at midnight outside the great walled city of Zodanga, one hundred
and fifty thousand strong.
The fighting strength and efficiency of this horde of
ferocious green monsters was equivalent to ten times
their number of red men. Never in the history of Barsoom,
Tars Tarkas told me, had such a force of green warriors marched
to battle together. It was a monstrous task to keep even a
semblance of harmony among them, and it was a marvel to
me that he got them to the city without a mighty battle
But as we neared Zodanga their personal quarrels were
submerged by their greater hatred for the red men, and
especially for the Zodangans, who had for years waged a
ruthless campaign of extermination against the green men,
directing special attention toward despoiling their incubators.
Now that we were before Zodanga the task of obtaining
entry to the city devolved upon me, and directing Tars
Tarkas to hold his forces in two divisions out of earshot
of the city, with each division opposite a large gateway, I
took twenty dismounted warriors and approached one of
the small gates that pierced the walls at short intervals.
These gates have no regular guard, but are covered by
sentries, who patrol the avenue that encircles the city just
within the walls as our metropolitan police patrol their
The walls of Zodanga are seventy-five feet in height and
fifty feet thick. They are built of enormous blocks of
carborundum, and the task of entering the city seemed,
to my escort of green warriors, an impossibility.
The fellows who had been detailed to accompany me were
of one of the smaller hordes, and therefore did not know me.
Placing three of them with their faces to the wall and arms locked,
I commanded two more to mount to their shoulders, and a sixth I
ordered to climb upon the shoulders of the upper two. The head
of the topmost warrior towered over forty feet from the ground.
In this way, with ten warriors, I built a series of three
steps from the ground to the shoulders of the topmost man.
Then starting from a short distance behind them I ran
swiftly up from one tier to the next, and with a final bound
from the broad shoulders of the highest I clutched the top
of the great wall and quietly drew myself to its broad expanse.
After me I dragged six lengths of leather from an equal number
of my warriors. These lengths we had previously fastened together,
and passing one end to the topmost warrior I lowered the other end
cautiously over the opposite side of the wall toward the avenue below.
No one was in sight, so, lowering myself to the end of my leather strap,
I dropped the remaining thirty feet to the pavement below.
I had learned from Kantos Kan the secret of opening
these gates, and in another moment my twenty great fighting
men stood within the doomed city of Zodanga.
I found to my delight that I had entered at the lower
boundary of the enormous palace grounds. The building
itself showed in the distance a blaze of glorious light, and
on the instant I determined to lead a detachment of warriors
directly within the palace itself, while the balance of
the great horde was attacking the barracks of the soldiery.
Dispatching one of my men to Tars Tarkas for a detail
of fifty Tharks, with word of my intentions, I ordered ten
warriors to capture and open one of the great gates while
with the nine remaining I took the other. We were to do
our work quietly, no shots were to be fired and no general
advance made until I had reached the palace with my fifty
Tharks. Our plans worked to perfection. The two sentries
we met were dispatched to their fathers upon the banks of
the lost sea of Korus, and the guards at both gates followed
them in silence.
CHAPTER XXV. THE LOOTING OF ZODANGA
As the great gate where I stood swung open my fifty Tharks,
headed by Tars Tarkas himself, rode in upon their mighty
thoats. I led them to the palace walls, which I negotiated
easily without assistance. Once inside, however, the gate
gave me considerable trouble, but I finally was rewarded
by seeing it swing upon its huge hinges, and soon my fierce
escort was riding across the gardens of the jeddak of Zodanga.
As we approached the palace I could see through the
great windows of the first floor into the brilliantly
illuminated audience chamber of Than Kosis. The immense hall
was crowded with nobles and their women, as though some
important function was in progress. There was not a guard
in sight without the palace, due, I presume, to the fact
that the city and palace walls were considered impregnable,
and so I came close and peered within.
At one end of the chamber, upon massive golden thrones
encrusted with diamonds, sat Than Kosis and his consort,
surrounded by officers and dignitaries of state. Before them
stretched a broad aisle lined on either side with soldiery,
and as I looked there entered this aisle at the far end of
the hall, the head of a procession which advanced to the
foot of the throne.
First there marched four officers of the jeddak's Guard
bearing a huge salver on which reposed, upon a cushion
of scarlet silk, a great golden chain with a collar and
padlock at each end. Directly behind these officers came
four others carrying a similar salver which supported the
magnificent ornaments of a prince and princess of the
reigning house of Zodanga.
At the foot of the throne these two parties separated
and halted, facing each other at opposite sides of the aisle.
Then came more dignitaries, and the officers of the palace
and of the army, and finally two figures entirely muffled in
scarlet silk, so that not a feature of either was discernible.
These two stopped at the foot of the throne, facing Than
Kosis. When the balance of the procession had entered and
assumed their stations Than Kosis addressed the couple
standing before him. I could not hear his words, but
presently two officers advanced and removed the scarlet robe
from one of the figures, and I saw that Kantos Kan had
failed in his mission, for it was Sab Than, Prince of Zodanga,
who stood revealed before me.
Than Kosis now took a set of the ornaments from one
of the salvers and placed one of the collars of gold about
his son's neck, springing the padlock fast. After a few more
words addressed to Sab Than he turned to the other figure,
from which the officers now removed the enshrouding silks,
disclosing to my now comprehending view Dejah Thoris,
Princess of Helium.
The object of the ceremony was clear to me; in another
moment Dejah Thoris would be joined forever to the Prince
of Zodanga. It was an impressive and beautiful ceremony,
I presume, but to me it seemed the most fiendish sight I
had ever witnessed, and as the ornaments were adjusted upon
her beautiful figure and her collar of gold swung open in
the hands of Than Kosis I raised my long-sword above my
head, and, with the heavy hilt, I shattered the glass of the
great window and sprang into the midst of the astonished
assemblage. With a bound I was on the steps of the platform
beside Than Kosis, and as he stood riveted with surprise
I brought my long-sword down upon the golden chain
that would have bound Dejah Thoris to another.
In an instant all was confusion; a thousand drawn swords
menaced me from every quarter, and Sab Than sprang upon
me with a jeweled dagger he had drawn from his nuptial
ornaments. I could have killed him as easily as I might a
fly, but the age-old custom of Barsoom stayed my hand,
and grasping his wrist as the dagger flew toward my heart
I held him as though in a vise and with my long-sword
pointed to the far end of the hall.
"Zodanga has fallen," I cried. "Look!"
All eyes turned in the direction I had indicated, and
there, forging through the portals of the entranceway rode
Tars Tarkas and his fifty warriors on their great thoats.
A cry of alarm and amazement broke from the assemblage,
but no word of fear, and in a moment the soldiers and nobles
of Zodanga were hurling themselves upon the advancing Tharks.
Thrusting Sab Than headlong from the platform, I drew
Dejah Thoris to my side. Behind the throne was a narrow
doorway and in this Than Kosis now stood facing me, with
drawn long-sword. In an instant we were engaged, and I
found no mean antagonist.
As we circled upon the broad platform I saw Sab Than
rushing up the steps to aid his father, but, as he raised his
hand to strike, Dejah Thoris sprang before him and then
my sword found the spot that made Sab Than jeddak of
Zodanga. As his father rolled dead upon the floor the new
jeddak tore himself free from Dejah Thoris' grasp, and again
we faced each other. He was soon joined by a quartet of
officers, and, with my back against a golden throne, I fought
once again for Dejah Thoris. I was hard pressed to defend
myself and yet not strike down Sab Than and, with him,
my last chance to win the woman I loved. My blade was
swinging with the rapidity of lightning as I sought to parry
the thrusts and cuts of my opponents. Two I had disarmed,
and one was down, when several more rushed to the aid of
their new ruler, and to avenge the death of the old.
As they advanced there were cries of "The woman!
The woman! Strike her down; it is her plot. Kill her! Kill
Calling to Dejah Thoris to get behind me I worked my
way toward the little doorway back of the throne, but the
officers realized my intentions, and three of them sprang in
behind me and blocked my chances for gaining a position
where I could have defended Dejah Thoris against any army
The Tharks were having their hands full in the center of
the room, and I began to realize that nothing short of a
miracle could save Dejah Thoris and myself, when I saw
Tars Tarkas surging through the crowd of pygmies that
swarmed about him. With one swing of his mighty longsword
he laid a dozen corpses at his feet, and so he hewed a pathway
before him until in another moment he stood upon the platform
beside me, dealing death and destruction right and left.
The bravery of the Zodangans was awe-inspiring, not one
attempted to escape, and when the fighting ceased it was
because only Tharks remained alive in the great hall, other
than Dejah Thoris and myself.
Sab Than lay dead beside his father, and the corpses of
the flower of Zodangan nobility and chivalry covered the
floor of the bloody shambles.
My first thought when the battle was over was for Kantos
Kan, and leaving Dejah Thoris in charge of Tars Tarkas I took
a dozen warriors and hastened to the dungeons beneath the
palace. The jailers had all left to join the fighters in the
throne room, so we searched the labyrinthine prison without
I called Kantos Kan's name aloud in each new corridor
and compartment, and finally I was rewarded by hearing a
faint response. Guided by the sound, we soon found him
helpless in a dark recess.
He was overjoyed at seeing me, and to know the meaning
of the fight, faint echoes of which had reached his prison
cell. He told me that the air patrol had captured him before
he reached the high tower of the palace, so that he had not
even seen Sab Than.
We discovered that it would be futile to attempt to cut
away the bars and chains which held him prisoner, so, at his
suggestion I returned to search the bodies on the floor above
for keys to open the padlocks of his cell and of his chains.
Fortunately among the first I examined I found his jailer,
and soon we had Kantos Kan with us in the throne room.
The sounds of heavy firing, mingled with shouts and
cries, came to us from the city's streets, and Tars Tarkas
hastened away to direct the fighting without. Kantos Kan
accompanied him to act as guide, the green warriors commencing
a thorough search of the palace for other Zodangans and for loot,
and Dejah Thoris and I were left alone.
She had sunk into one of the golden thrones, and as I
turned to her she greeted me with a wan smile.
"Was there ever such a man!" she exclaimed. "I know that
Barsoom has never before seen your like. Can it be that all
Earth men are as you? Alone, a stranger, hunted, threatened,
persecuted, you have done in a few short months what in
all the past ages of Barsoom no man has ever done: joined
together the wild hordes of the sea bottoms and brought them
to fight as allies of a red Martian people."
"The answer is easy, Dejah Thoris," I replied smiling. "It
was not I who did it, it was love, love for Dejah Thoris, a
power that would work greater miracles than this you have seen."
A pretty flush overspread her face and she answered,
"You may say that now, John Carter, and I may listen, for I am free."
"And more still I have to say, ere it is again too late,"
I returned. "I have done many strange things in my life, many
things that wiser men would not have dared, but never in my
wildest fancies have I dreamed of winning a Dejah Thoris
for myself--for never had I dreamed that in all the universe
dwelt such a woman as the Princess of Helium. That you
are a princess does not abash me, but that you are you is
enough to make me doubt my sanity as I ask you, my princess,
to be mine."
"He does not need to be abashed who so well knew the
answer to his plea before the plea were made," she replied,
rising and placing her dear hands upon my shoulders, and so
I took her in my arms and kissed her.
And thus in the midst of a city of wild conflict, filled
with the alarms of war; with death and destruction reaping
their terrible harvest around her, did Dejah Thoris, Princess
of Helium, true daughter of Mars, the God of War, promise
herself in marriage to John Carter, Gentleman of Virginia.
CHAPTER XXVI. THROUGH CARNAGE TO JOY
Sometime later Tars Tarkas and Kantos Kan returned to
report that Zodanga had been completely reduced. Her forces
were entirely destroyed or captured, and no further resistance
was to be expected from within. Several battleships had escaped,
but there were thousands of war and merchant vessels under guard
of Thark warriors.
The lesser hordes had commenced looting and quarreling
among themselves, so it was decided that we collect what
warriors we could, man as many vessels as possible with
Zodangan prisoners and make for Helium without further
loss of time.
Five hours later we sailed from the roofs of the dock
buildings with a fleet of two hundred and fifty battleships,
carrying nearly one hundred thousand green warriors, followed
by a fleet of transports with our thoats.
Behind us we left the stricken city in the fierce and brutal
clutches of some forty thousand green warriors of the lesser
hordes. They were looting, murdering, and fighting amongst
themselves. In a hundred places they had applied the torch,
and columns of dense smoke were rising above the city as
though to blot out from the eye of heaven the horrid sights
In the middle of the afternoon we sighted the scarlet and
yellow towers of Helium, and a short time later a great fleet
of Zodangan battleships rose from the camps of the besiegers
without the city, and advanced to meet us.
The banners of Helium had been strung from stem to
stern of each of our mighty craft, but the Zodangans did
not need this sign to realize that we were enemies, for our
green Martian warriors had opened fire upon them almost
as they left the ground. With their uncanny marksmanship
they raked the on-coming fleet with volley after volley.
The twin cities of Helium, perceiving that we were friends,
sent out hundreds of vessels to aid us, and then began the
first real air battle I had ever witnessed.
The vessels carrying our green warriors were kept circling
above the contending fleets of Helium and Zodanga, since
their batteries were useless in the hands of the Tharks who,
having no navy, have no skill in naval gunnery. Their small-
arm fire, however, was most effective, and the final outcome
of the engagement was strongly influenced, if not wholly
determined, by their presence.
At first the two forces circled at the same altitude, pouring
broadside after broadside into each other. Presently a great
hole was torn in the hull of one of the immense battle craft
from the Zodangan camp; with a lurch she turned completely
over, the little figures of her crew plunging, turning
and twisting toward the ground a thousand feet below; then
with sickening velocity she tore after them, almost completely
burying herself in the soft loam of the ancient sea bottom.
A wild cry of exultation arose from the Heliumite squadron,
and with redoubled ferocity they fell upon the Zodangan
fleet. By a pretty maneuver two of the vessels of Helium
gained a position above their adversaries, from which they
poured upon them from their keel bomb batteries a perfect
torrent of exploding bombs.
Then, one by one, the battleships of Helium succeeded in
rising above the Zodangans, and in a short time a number
of the beleaguering battleships were drifting hopeless wrecks
toward the high scarlet tower of greater Helium. Several
others attempted to escape, but they were soon surrounded
by thousands of tiny individual fliers, and above each hung
a monster battleship of Helium ready to drop boarding parties
upon their decks.
Within but little more than an hour from the moment the
victorious Zodangan squadron had risen to meet us from
the camp of the besiegers the battle was over, and the
remaining vessels of the conquered Zodangans were headed
toward the cities of Helium under prize crews.
There was an extremely pathetic side to the surrender
of these mighty fliers, the result of an age-old custom which
demanded that surrender should be signalized by the voluntary
plunging to earth of the commander of the vanquished vessel.
One after another the brave fellows, holding their colors
high above their heads, leaped from the towering bows of
their mighty craft to an awful death.
Not until the commander of the entire fleet took the fearful
plunge, thus indicating the surrender of the remaining vessels,
did the fighting cease, and the useless sacrifice of brave men
come to an end.
We now signaled the flagship of Helium's navy to approach,
and when she was within hailing distance I called out that
we had the Princess Dejah Thoris on board, and that we
wished to transfer her to the flagship that she might be
taken immediately to the city.
As the full import of my announcement bore in upon
them a great cry arose from the decks of the flagship, and
a moment later the colors of the Princess of Helium broke
from a hundred points upon her upper works. When the
other vessels of the squadron caught the meaning of the
signals flashed them they took up the wild acclaim and
unfurled her colors in the gleaming sunlight.
The flagship bore down upon us, and as she swung gracefully
to and touched our side a dozen officers sprang upon
our decks. As their astonished gaze fell upon the hundreds
of green warriors, who now came forth from the fighting
shelters, they stopped aghast, but at sight of Kantos Kan,
who advanced to meet them, they came forward, crowding
Dejah Thoris and I then advanced, and they had no eyes
for other than her. She received them gracefully, calling
each by name, for they were men high in the esteem and
service of her grandfather, and she knew them well.
"Lay your hands upon the shoulder of John Carter," she
said to them, turning toward me, "the man to whom Helium
owes her princess as well as her victory today."
They were very courteous to me and said many kind and
complimentary things, but what seemed to impress them
most was that I had won the aid of the fierce Tharks in my
campaign for the liberation of Dejah Thoris, and the relief
"You owe your thanks more to another man than to me,"
I said, "and here he is; meet one of Barsoom's greatest
soldiers and statesmen, Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of Thark."
With the same polished courtesy that had marked their
manner toward me they extended their greetings to the great
Thark, nor, to my surprise, was he much behind them in
ease of bearing or in courtly speech. Though not a garrulous
race, the Tharks are extremely formal, and their ways lend
themselves amazingly well to dignified and courtly manners.
Dejah Thoris went aboard the flagship, and was much put
out that I would not follow, but, as I explained to her, the
battle was but partly won; we still had the land forces of
the besieging Zodangans to account for, and I would not leave
Tars Tarkas until that had been accomplished.
The commander of the naval forces of Helium promised
to arrange to have the armies of Helium attack from the
city in conjunction with our land attack, and so the vessels
separated and Dejah Thoris was borne in triumph back to
the court of her grandfather, Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium.
In the distance lay our fleet of transports, with the thoats
of the green warriors, where they had remained during the
battle. Without landing stages it was to be a difficult matter
to unload these beasts upon the open plain, but there was
nothing else for it, and so we put out for a point about ten
miles from the city and began the task.
It was necessary to lower the animals to the ground in
slings and this work occupied the remainder of the day and
half the night. Twice we were attacked by parties of Zodangan
cavalry, but with little loss, however, and after darkness shut
down they withdrew.
As soon as the last thoat was unloaded Tars Tarkas gave
the command to advance, and in three parties we crept upon
the Zodangan camp from the north, the south and the east.
About a mile from the main camp we encountered their
outposts and, as had been prearranged, accepted this as the
signal to charge. With wild, ferocious cries and amidst the
nasty squealing of battle-enraged thoats we bore down upon
We did not catch them napping, but found a well-entrenched
battle line confronting us. Time after time we were repulsed until,
toward noon, I began to fear for the result of the battle.
The Zodangans numbered nearly a million fighting men,
gathered from pole to pole, wherever stretched their ribbon-
like waterways, while pitted against them were less than a
hundred thousand green warriors. The forces from Helium
had not arrived, nor could we receive any word from them.
Just at noon we heard heavy firing all along the line between
the Zodangans and the cities, and we knew then that
our much-needed reinforcements had come.
Again Tars Tarkas ordered the charge, and once more the
mighty thoats bore their terrible riders against the ramparts
of the enemy. At the same moment the battle line of Helium
surged over the opposite breastworks of the Zodangans and in
another moment they were being crushed as between two
millstones. Nobly they fought, but in vain.
The plain before the city became a veritable shambles ere
the last Zodangan surrendered, but finally the carnage ceased,
the prisoners were marched back to Helium, and we entered
the greater city's gates, a huge triumphal procession of
The broad avenues were lined with women and children,
among which were the few men whose duties necessitated
that they remain within the city during the battle. We were
greeted with an endless round of applause and showered with
ornaments of gold, platinum, silver, and precious jewels.
The city had gone mad with joy.
My fierce Tharks caused the wildest excitement and enthusiasm.
Never before had an armed body of green warriors entered the
gates of Helium, and that they came now as friends and allies
filled the red men with rejoicing.
That my poor services to Dejah Thoris had become known
to the Heliumites was evidenced by the loud crying of my
name, and by the loads of ornaments that were fastened upon
me and my huge thoat as we passed up the avenues to the
palace, for even in the face of the ferocious appearance of
Woola the populace pressed close about me.
As we approached this magnificent pile we were met by a
party of officers who greeted us warmly and requested that
Tars Tarkas and his jeds with the jeddaks and jeds of his
wild allies, together with myself, dismount and accompany
them to receive from Tardos Mors an expression of his
gratitude for our services.
At the top of the great steps leading up to the main
portals of the palace stood the royal party, and as we reached
the lower steps one of their number descended to meet us.
He was an almost perfect specimen of manhood; tall, straight
as an arrow, superbly muscled and with the carriage and
bearing of a ruler of men. I did not need to be told that he
was Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium.
The first member of our party he met was Tars Tarkas
and his first words sealed forever the new friendship
between the races.
"That Tardos Mors," he said, earnestly, "may meet the
greatest living warrior of Barsoom is a priceless honor, but
that he may lay his hand on the shoulder of a friend and
ally is a far greater boon."
"Jeddak of Helium," returned Tars Tarkas, "it has remained
for a man of another world to teach the green warriors of
Barsoom the meaning of friendship; to him we owe the fact that
the hordes of Thark can understand you; that they can appreciate
and reciprocate the sentiments so graciously expressed."
Tardos Mors then greeted each of the green jeddaks and jeds,
and to each spoke words of friendship and appreciation
As he approached me he laid both hands upon my shoulders.
"Welcome, my son," he said; "that you are granted, gladly,
and without one word of opposition, the most precious
jewel in all Helium, yes, on all Barsoom, is sufficient
earnest of my esteem."
We were then presented to Mors Kajak, Jed of lesser Helium,
and father of Dejah Thoris. He had followed close behind
Tardos Mors and seemed even more affected by the meeting
than had his father.
He tried a dozen times to express his gratitude to me, but
his voice choked with emotion and he could not speak, and
yet he had, as I was to later learn, a reputation for ferocity
and fearlessness as a fighter that was remarkable even upon
warlike Barsoom. In common with all Helium he worshiped
his daughter, nor could he think of what she had escaped
without deep emotion.
CHAPTER XXVII. FROM JOY TO DEATH
For ten days the hordes of Thark and their wild allies were
feasted and entertained, and, then, loaded with costly
presents and escorted by ten thousand soldiers of Helium
commanded by Mors Kajak, they started on the return journey
to their own lands. The jed of lesser Helium with a small
party of nobles accompanied them all the way to Thark to
cement more closely the new bonds of peace and friendship.
Sola also accompanied Tars Tarkas, her father, who before
all his chieftains had acknowledged her as his daughter.
Three weeks later, Mors Kajak and his officers, accompanied
by Tars Tarkas and Sola, returned upon a battleship that
had been dispatched to Thark to fetch them in time for
the ceremony which made Dejah Thoris and John Carter one.
For nine years I served in the councils and fought in the
armies of Helium as a prince of the house of Tardos Mors.
The people seemed never to tire of heaping honors upon me,
and no day passed that did not bring some new proof of
their love for my princess, the incomparable Dejah Thoris.
In a golden incubator upon the roof of our palace lay a
snow-white egg. For nearly five years ten soldiers of the
jeddak's Guard had constantly stood over it, and not a day
passed when I was in the city that Dejah Thoris and I did
not stand hand in hand before our little shrine planning for
the future, when the delicate shell should break.
Vivid in my memory is the picture of the last night as we
sat there talking in low tones of the strange romance which
had woven our lives together and of this wonder which was
coming to augment our happiness and fulfill our hopes.
In the distance we saw the bright-white light of an
approaching airship, but we attached no special
significance to so common a sight. Like a bolt of
lightning it raced toward Helium until its very speed
bespoke the unusual.
Flashing the signals which proclaimed it a dispatch bearer
for the jeddak, it circled impatiently awaiting the tardy
patrol boat which must convoy it to the palace docks.
Ten minutes after it touched at the palace a message
called me to the council chamber, which I found filling with
the members of that body.
On the raised platform of the throne was Tardos Mors,
pacing back and forth with tense-drawn face. When all were
in their seats he turned toward us.
"This morning," he said, "word reached the several
governments of Barsoom that the keeper of the atmosphere
plant had made no wireless report for two days, nor had
almost ceaseless calls upon him from a score of capitals
elicited a sign of response.
"The ambassadors of the other nations asked us to take
the matter in hand and hasten the assistant keeper to the
plant. All day a thousand cruisers have been searching for
him until just now one of them returns bearing his dead
body, which was found in the pits beneath his house horribly
mutilated by some assassin.
"I do not need to tell you what this means to Barsoom. It
would take months to penetrate those mighty walls, in fact
the work has already commenced, and there would be little
to fear were the engine of the pumping plant to run as it
should and as they all have for hundreds of years now; but the
worst, we fear, has happened. The instruments show a rapidly
decreasing air pressure on all parts of Barsoom--the engine has stopped."
"My gentlemen," he concluded, "we have at best three days to live."
There was absolute silence for several minutes, and then
a young noble arose, and with his drawn sword held high
above his head addressed Tardos Mors.
"The men of Helium have prided themselves that they have
ever shown Barsoom how a nation of red men should live,
now is our opportunity to show them how they should die.
Let us go about our duties as though a thousand useful years
still lay before us."
The chamber rang with applause and as there was nothing
better to do than to allay the fears of the people by our
example we went our ways with smiles upon our faces and
sorrow gnawing at our hearts.
When I returned to my palace I found that the rumor already
had reached Dejah Thoris, so I told her all that I had heard.
"We have been very happy, John Carter," she said, "and I thank
whatever fate overtakes us that it permits us to die together."
The next two days brought no noticeable change in the
supply of air, but on the morning of the third day breathing
became difficult at the higher altitudes of the rooftops.
The avenues and plazas of Helium were filled with people.
All business had ceased. For the most part the people looked
bravely into the face of their unalterable doom. Here and
there, however, men and women gave way to quiet grief.
Toward the middle of the day many of the weaker commenced
to succumb and within an hour the people of Barsoom
were sinking by thousands into the unconsciousness
which precedes death by asphyxiation.
Dejah Thoris and I with the other members of the royal
family had collected in a sunken garden within an inner
courtyard of the palace. We conversed in low tones, when
we conversed at all, as the awe of the grim shadow of death
crept over us. Even Woola seemed to feel the weight of the
impending calamity, for he pressed close to Dejah Thoris
and to me, whining pitifully.
The little incubator had been brought from the roof of
our palace at request of Dejah Thoris and now she sat gazing
longingly upon the unknown little life that now she would
As it was becoming perceptibly difficult to breathe Tardos
Mors arose, saying,
"Let us bid each other farewell. The days of the greatness
of Barsoom are over. Tomorrow's sun will look down upon a
dead world which through all eternity must go swinging through
the heavens peopled not even by memories. It is the end."
He stooped and kissed the women of his family, and laid
his strong hand upon the shoulders of the men.
As I turned sadly from him my eyes fell upon Dejah
Thoris. Her head was drooping upon her breast, to all
appearances she was lifeless. With a cry I sprang to her
and raised her in my arms.
Her eyes opened and looked into mine.
"Kiss me, John Carter," she murmured. "I love you!
I love you! It is cruel that we must be torn apart who
were just starting upon a life of love and happiness."
As I pressed her dear lips to mine the old feeling of
unconquerable power and authority rose in me. The fighting
blood of Virginia sprang to life in my veins.
"It shall not be, my princess," I cried. "There is, there
must be some way, and John Carter, who has fought his way
through a strange world for love of you, will find it."
And with my words there crept above the threshold of my
conscious mind a series of nine long forgotten sounds. Like a
flash of lightning in the darkness their full purport dawned
upon me--the key to the three great doors of the atmosphere plant!
Turning suddenly toward Tardos Mors as I still clasped my
dying love to my breast I cried.
"A flier, Jeddak! Quick! Order your swiftest flier to the
palace top. I can save Barsoom yet."
He did not wait to question, but in an instant a guard was racing
to the nearest dock and though the air was thin and almost gone
at the rooftop they managed to launch the fastest one-man,
air-scout machine that the skill of Barsoom had ever produced.
Kissing Dejah Thoris a dozen times and commanding Woola,
who would have followed me, to remain and guard her,
I bounded with my old agility and strength to the high
ramparts of the palace, and in another moment I was headed
toward the goal of the hopes of all Barsoom.
I had to fly low to get sufficient air to breathe, but I took
a straight course across an old sea bottom and so had to rise
only a few feet above the ground.
I traveled with awful velocity for my errand was a race
against time with death. The face of Dejah Thoris hung
always before me. As I turned for a last look as I left
the palace garden I had seen her stagger and sink upon the
ground beside the little incubator. That she had dropped
into the last coma which would end in death, if the air
supply remained unreplenished, I well knew, and so, throwing
caution to the winds, I flung overboard everything but the
engine and compass, even to my ornaments, and lying on my
belly along the deck with one hand on the steering wheel
and the other pushing the speed lever to its last notch I
split the thin air of dying Mars with the speed of a meteor.
An hour before dark the great walls of the atmosphere
plant loomed suddenly before me, and with a sickening thud
I plunged to the ground before the small door which was
withholding the spark of life from the inhabitants of an
Beside the door a great crew of men had been laboring
to pierce the wall, but they had scarcely scratched the flint-
like surface, and now most of them lay in the last sleep from
which not even air would awaken them.
Conditions seemed much worse here than at Helium, and
it was with difficulty that I breathed at all. There were
a few men still conscious, and to one of these I spoke.
"If I can open these doors is there a man who can start
the engines?" I asked.
"I can," he replied, "if you open quickly. I can last but a
few moments more. But it is useless, they are both dead
and no one else upon Barsoom knew the secret of these awful
locks. For three days men crazed with fear have surged
about this portal in vain attempts to solve its mystery."
I had no time to talk, I was becoming very weak and it
was with difficulty that I controlled my mind at all.
But, with a final effort, as I sank weakly to my knees I
hurled the nine thought waves at that awful thing before me.
The Martian had crawled to my side and with staring eyes
fixed on the single panel before us we waited in the silence
Slowly the mighty door receded before us. I attempted to
rise and follow it but I was too weak.
"After it," I cried to my companion, "and if you reach the
pump room turn loose all the pumps. It is the only chance
Barsoom has to exist tomorrow!"
From where I lay I opened the second door, and then the
third, and as I saw the hope of Barsoom crawling weakly on
hands and knees through the last doorway I sank unconscious
upon the ground.
CHAPTER XXVIII. AT THE ARIZONA CAVE
It was dark when I opened my eyes again. Strange, stiff
garments were upon my body; garments that cracked and
powdered away from me as I rose to a sitting posture.
I felt myself over from head to foot and from head to
foot I was clothed, though when I fell unconscious at the
little doorway I had been naked. Before me was a small
patch of moonlit sky which showed through a ragged aperture.
As my hands passed over my body they came in contact
with pockets and in one of these a small parcel of matches
wrapped in oiled paper. One of these matches I struck, and
its dim flame lighted up what appeared to be a huge cave,
toward the back of which I discovered a strange, still figure
huddled over a tiny bench. As I approached it I saw that it
was the dead and mummified remains of a little old woman
with long black hair, and the thing it leaned over was a small
charcoal burner upon which rested a round copper vessel
containing a small quantity of greenish powder.
Behind her, depending from the roof upon rawhide thongs,
and stretching entirely across the cave, was a row of human
skeletons. From the thong which held them stretched another
to the dead hand of the little old woman; as I touched
the cord the skeletons swung to the motion with a noise as
of the rustling of dry leaves.
It was a most grotesque and horrid tableau and I hastened
out into the fresh air; glad to escape from so gruesome a place.
The sight that met my eyes as I stepped out upon a small
ledge which ran before the entrance of the cave filled me
A new heaven and a new landscape met my gaze. The silvered
mountains in the distance, the almost stationary moon
hanging in the sky, the cacti-studded valley below me
were not of Mars. I could scarcely believe my eyes, but the
truth slowly forced itself upon me--I was looking upon Arizona
from the same ledge from which ten years before I had gazed
with longing upon Mars.
Burying my head in my arms I turned, broken, and sorrowful,
down the trail from the cave.
Above me shone the red eye of Mars holding her awful
secret, forty-eight million miles away.
Did the Martian reach the pump room? Did the vitalizing
air reach the people of that distant planet in time to save
them? Was my Dejah Thoris alive, or did her beautiful body
lie cold in death beside the tiny golden incubator in the
sunken garden of the inner courtyard of the palace of Tardos
Mors, the jeddak of Helium?
For ten years I have waited and prayed for an answer to
my questions. For ten years I have waited and prayed to be
taken back to the world of my lost love. I would rather lie
dead beside her there than live on Earth all those millions of
terrible miles from her.
The old mine, which I found untouched, has made me
fabulously wealthy; but what care I for wealth!
As I sit here tonight in my little study overlooking the
Hudson, just twenty years have elapsed since I first opened
my eyes upon Mars.
I can see her shining in the sky through the little window
by my desk, and tonight she seems calling to me again as
she has not called before since that long dead night, and I
think I can see, across that awful abyss of space, a beautiful
black-haired woman standing in the garden of a palace,
and at her side is a little boy who puts his arm around her
as she points into the sky toward the planet Earth, while at
their feet is a huge and hideous creature with a heart of gold.
I believe that they are waiting there for me, and something
tells me that I shall soon know.