Part 3 out of 4
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 your heart."
"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 forever."
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
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
"What do they say?" inquired Dejah Thoris.
"That you will be thrown to the wild calots [dogs] in 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 asked.
"Yes," she answered, "but it is two hundred miles north of us;
it is one of the waterways we crossed on the trip to Thark."
"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
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
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 his warriors.
"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."
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
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 Tharks.
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
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
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
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 mount.
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
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 loves."
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 Sola's grasp.
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
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
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 Tharks.
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
"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 single day.
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 with questions.
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.
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
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 grave
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 of themselves.
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
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
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
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 even threatened.
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
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 my errand.
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 the floor.
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
"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
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
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 host's diadem.
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
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 transference.
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
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 stomachs.
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
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
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
"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 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 white turnpike.
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 by comparison.
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 flower.
"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
"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 discovered nearby."
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
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 Martian cities.
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 breast.
"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
"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 accomplish much."
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 lift enormous weights from the surface of the
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 direction.
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
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 had saved.
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
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
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 lucky man.
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,
"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
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
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 below.
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
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
"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 antechamber 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 antechamber, behind which I could hear Dejah
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
"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 smile.
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
"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
"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
"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
"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 been performed.
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
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 palace.
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 being apprehended.
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 every word.
"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