Part 3 out of 4
Down to the ochre sea-bottom the trail led. There it disappeared,
as Carthoris had known that it would; but where it entered the plain
its direction had been toward Aaanthor and so toward Aaanthor the
two turned their faces.
It was a long and tedious journey, fraught with many dangers. The
bowman could not travel at the pace set by Carthoris, whose muscles
carried him with great rapidity over the face of the small planet,
the force of gravity of which exerts so much less retarding power
than that of the Earth. Fifty miles a day is a fair average for
a Barsoomian, but the son of John Carter might easily have covered
a hundred or more miles had he cared to desert his new-found comrade.
All the way they were in constant danger of discovery by roving
bands of Torquasians, and especially was this true before they
reached the boundary of Torquas.
Good fortune was with them, however, and although they sighted two
detachments of the savage green men, they were not themselves seen.
And so they came, upon the morning of the third day, within sight
of the glistening domes of distant Aaanthor. Throughout the journey
Carthoris had ever strained his eyes ahead in search of Thuvia and
the great banth; but not till now had he seen aught to give him
This morning, far ahead, half-way between themselves and Aaanthor,
the men saw two tiny figures moving toward the city. For a moment
they watched them intently. Then Carthoris, convinced, leaped
forward at a rapid run, Kar Komak following as swiftly as he could.
The Heliumite shouted to attract the girl's attention, and presently
he was rewarded by seeing her turn and stand looking toward him.
At her side the great banth stood with up-pricked ears, watching
the approaching man.
Not yet could Thuvia of Ptarth have recognized Carthoris, though
that it was he she must have been convinced, for she waited there
for him without sign of fear.
Presently he saw her point toward the northwest, beyond him.
Without slackening his pace, he turned his eyes in the direction
Racing silently over the thick vegetation, not half a mile behind,
came a score of fierce green warriors, charging him upon their
To their right was Kar Komak, naked and unarmed, yet running
valiantly toward Carthoris and shouting warning as though he, too,
had but just discovered the silent, menacing company that moved so
swiftly forward with couched spears and ready long-swords.
Carthoris shouted to the Lotharian, warning him back, for he knew
that he could but uselessly sacrifice his life by placing himself,
all unarmed, in the path of the cruel and relentless savages.
But Kar Komak never hesitated. With shouts of encouragement to
his new friend, he hurried onward toward the Prince of Helium. The
red man's heart leaped in response to this exhibition of courage
and self-sacrifice. He regretted now that he had not thought to
give Kar Komak one of his swords; but it was too late to attempt
it, for should he wait for the Lotharian to overtake him or return
to meet him, the Torquasians would reach Thuvia of Ptarth before
he could do so.
Even as it was, it would be nip and tuck as to who came first to
Again he turned his face in her direction, and now, from Aaanthor
way, he saw a new force hastening toward them--two medium-sized
war craft--and even at the distance they still were from him he
discerned the device of Dusar upon their bows.
Now, indeed, seemed little hope for Thuvia of Ptarth. With
savage warriors of the hordes of Torquas charging toward her from
one direction, and no less implacable enemies, in the form of the
creatures of Astok, Prince of Dusar, bearing down upon her from
another, while only a banth, a red warrior, and an unarmed bowman
were near to defend her, her plight was quite hopeless and her
cause already lost ere ever it was contested.
As Thuvia saw Carthoris approaching, she felt again that unaccountable
sensation of entire relief from responsibility and fear that she
had experienced upon a former occasion. Nor could she account for
it while her mind still tried to convince her heart that the Prince
of Helium had been instrumental in her abduction from her father's
court. She only knew that she was glad when he was by her side,
and that with him there all things seemed possible--even such
impossible things as escape from her present predicament.
Now had he stopped, panting, before her. A brave smile of
encouragement lit his face.
"Courage, my princess," he whispered.
To the girl's memory flashed the occasion upon which he had used
those same words--in the throne-room of Tario of Lothar as they had
commenced to slip down the sinking marble floor toward an unknown
Then she had not chidden him for the use of that familiar salutation,
nor did she chide him now, though she was promised to another.
She wondered at herself--flushing at her own turpitude; for upon
Barsoom it is a shameful thing for a woman to listen to those two
words from another than her husband or her betrothed.
Carthoris saw her flush of mortification, and in an instant regretted
his words. There was but a moment before the green warriors would
be upon them.
"Forgive me!" said the man in a low voice. "Let my great love be
my excuse--that, and the belief that I have but a moment more of
life," and with the words he turned to meet the foremost of the
The fellow was charging with couched spear, but Carthoris leaped to
one side, and as the great thoat and its rider hurtled harmlessly
past him he swung his long-sword in a mighty cut that clove the
green carcass in twain.
At the same moment Kar Komak leaped with bare hands clawing at the
leg of another of the huge riders; the balance of the horde raced
in to close quarters, dismounting the better to wield their favourite
long-swords; the Dusarian fliers touched the soft carpet of the
ochre-clad sea-bottom, disgorging fifty fighting men from their
bowels; and into the swirling sea of cutting, slashing swords sprang
Komal, the great banth.
GREEN MEN AND WHITE APES
A Torquasian sword smote a glancing blow across the forehead of
Carthoris. He had a fleeting vision of soft arms about his neck,
and warm lips close to his before he lost consciousness.
How long he lay there senseless he could not guess; but when he
opened his eyes again he was alone, except for the bodies of the
dead green men and Dusarians, and the carcass of a great banth that
lay half across his own.
Thuvia was gone, nor was the body of Kar Komak among the dead.
Weak from loss of blood, Carthoris made his way slowly toward
Aaanthor, reaching its outskirts at dark.
He wanted water more than any other thing, and so he kept on up
a broad avenue toward the great central plaza, where he knew the
precious fluid was to be found in a half-ruined building opposite
the great palace of the ancient jeddak, who once had ruled this
Disheartened and discouraged by the strange sequence of events
that seemed fore-ordained to thwart his every attempt to serve
the Princess of Ptarth, he paid little or no attention to his
surroundings, moving through the deserted city as though no great
white apes lurked in the black shadows of the mystery-haunted piles
that flanked the broad avenues and the great plaza.
But if Carthoris was careless of his surroundings, not so other
eyes that watched his entrance into the plaza, and followed his slow
footsteps toward the marble pile that housed the tiny, half-choked
spring whose water one might gain only by scratching a deep hole
in the red sand that covered it.
And as the Heliumite entered the small building a dozen mighty,
grotesque figures emerged from the doorway of the palace to speed
noiselessly across the plaza toward him.
For half an hour Carthoris remained in the building, digging for
water and gaining the few much-needed drops which were the fruits
of his labour. Then he rose and slowly left the structure. Scarce
had he stepped beyond the threshold than twelve Torquasian warriors
leaped upon him.
No time then to draw long-sword; but swift from his harness flew
his long, slim dagger, and as he went down beneath them more than
a single green heart ceased beating at the bite of that keen point.
Then they overpowered him and took his weapons away; but only nine
of the twelve warriors who had crossed the plaza returned with
They dragged their prisoner roughly to the palace pits, where
in utter darkness they chained him with rusty links to the solid
masonry of the wall.
"To-morrow Thar Ban will speak with you," they said. "Now
he sleeps. But great will be his pleasure when he learns who has
wandered amongst us--and great will be the pleasure of Hortan Gur
when Thar Ban drags before him the mad fool who dared prick the
great jeddak with his sword."
Then they left him to the silence and the darkness.
For what seemed hours Carthoris squatted upon the stone floor of
his prison, his back against the wall in which was sunk the heavy
eye-bolt that secured the chain which held him.
Then, from out of the mysterious blackness before him, there
came to his ears the sound of naked feet moving stealthily upon
stone--approaching nearer and nearer to where he lay, unarmed and
Minutes passed--minutes that seemed hours--during which time
periods of sepulchral silence would be followed by a repetition of
the uncanny scraping of naked feet slinking warily upon him.
At last he heard a sudden rush of unshod soles across the empty
blackness, and at a little distance a scuffling sound, heavy
breathing, and once what he thought the muttered imprecation of
a man battling against great odds. Then the clanging of a chain,
and a noise as of the snapping back against stone of a broken link.
Again came silence. But for a moment only. Now he heard once
more the soft feet approaching him. He thought that he discerned
wicked eyes gleaming fearfully at him through the darkness. He
knew that he could hear the heavy breathing of powerful lungs.
Then came the rush of many feet toward him, and the THINGS were
Hands terminating in manlike fingers clutched at his throat and
arms and legs. Hairy bodies strained and struggled against his
own smooth hide as he battled in grim silence against these horrid
foemen in the darkness of the pits of ancient Aaanthor.
Thewed like some giant god was Carthoris of Helium, yet in the
clutches of these unseen creatures of the pit's Stygian night he
was helpless as a frail woman.
Yet he battled on, striking futile blows against great, hispid
breasts he could not see; feeling thick, squat throats beneath his
fingers; the drool of saliva upon his cheek, and hot, foul breath
in his nostrils.
Fangs, too, mighty fangs, he knew were close, and why they did not
sink into his flesh he could not guess.
At last he became aware of the mighty surging of a number of his
antagonists back and forth upon the great chain that held him, and
presently came the same sound that he had heard at a little distance
from him a short time before he had been attacked--his chain had
parted and the broken end snapped back against the stone wall.
Now he was seized upon either side and dragged at a rapid pace through
the dark corridors--toward what fate he could not even guess.
At first he had thought his foes might be of the tribe of Torquas,
but their hairy bodies belied that belief. Now he was at last
quite sure of their identity, though why they had not killed and
devoured him at once he could not imagine.
After half an hour or more of rapid racing through the underground
passages that are a distinguishing feature of all Barsoomian cities,
modern as well as ancient, his captors suddenly emerged into the
moonlight of a courtyard, far from the central plaza.
Immediately Carthoris saw that he was in the power of a tribe of
the great white apes of Barsoom. All that had caused him doubt
before as to the identity of his attackers was the hairiness of
their breasts, for the white apes are entirely hairless except for
a great shock bristling from their heads.
Now he saw the cause of that which had deceived him--across the
chest of each of them were strips of hairy hide, usually of banth,
in imitation of the harness of the green warriors who so often
camped at their deserted city.
Carthoris had read of the existence of tribes of apes that seemed
to be progressing slowly toward higher standards of intelligence.
Into the hands of such, he realized, he had fallen; but--what were
their intentions toward him?
As he glanced about the courtyard, he saw fully fifty of the hideous
beasts, squatting on their haunches, and at a little distance from
him another human being, closely guarded.
As his eyes met those of his fellow-captive a smile lit the other's
face, and: "Kaor, red man!" burst from his lips. It was Kar Komak,
"Kaor!" cried Carthoris, in response. "How came you here, and what
befell the princess?"
"Red men like yourself descended in mighty ships that sailed the
air, even as the great ships of my distant day sailed the five seas,"
replied Kar Komak. "They fought with the green men of Torquas.
They slew Komal, god of Lothar. I thought they were your friends,
and I was glad when finally those of them who survived the battle
carried the red girl to one of the ships and sailed away with her
into the safety of the high air.
"Then the green men seized me, and carried me to a great, empty
city, where they chained me to a wall in a black pit. Afterward
came these and dragged me hither. And what of you, red man?"
Carthoris related all that had befallen him, and as the two men
talked the great apes squatted about them watching them intently.
"What are we to do now?" asked the bowman.
"Our case looks rather hopeless," replied Carthoris ruefully.
"These creatures are born man-eaters. Why they have not already
devoured us I cannot imagine--there!" he whispered. "See? The
end is coming."
Kar Komak looked in the direction Carthoris indicated to see a huge
ape advancing with a mighty bludgeon.
"It is thus they like best to kill their prey," said Carthoris.
"Must we die without a struggle?" asked Kar Komak.
"Not I," replied Carthoris, "though I know how futile our best
defence must be against these mighty brutes! Oh, for a long-sword!"
"Or a good bow," added Kar Komak, "and a utan of bowmen."
At the words Carthoris half sprang to his feet, only to be dragged
roughly down by his guard.
"Kar Komak!" he cried. "Why cannot you do what Tario and Jav did?
They had no bowmen other than those of their own creation. You
must know the secret of their power. Call forth your own utan,
The Lotharian looked at Carthoris in wide-eyed astonishment as the
full purport of the suggestion bore in upon his understanding.
"Why not?" he murmured.
The savage ape bearing the mighty bludgeon was slinking toward
Carthoris. The Heliumite's fingers were working as he kept his
eyes upon his executioner. Kar Komak bent his gaze penetratingly
upon the apes. The effort of his mind was evidenced in the sweat
upon his contracted brows.
The creature that was to slay the red man was almost within arm's
reach of his prey when Carthoris heard a hoarse shout from the opposite
side of the courtyard. In common with the squatting apes and the
demon with the club he turned in the direction of the sound, to see
a company of sturdy bowmen rushing from the doorway of a near-by
With screams of rage the apes leaped to their feet to meet the
charge. A volley of arrows met them half-way, sending a dozen
rolling lifeless to the ground. Then the apes closed with their
adversaries. All their attention was occupied by the attackers--even
the guard had deserted the prisoners to join in the battle.
"Come!" whispered Kar Komak. "Now may we escape while their
attention is diverted from us by my bowmen."
"And leave those brave fellows leaderless?" cried Carthoris, whose
loyal nature revolted at the merest suggestion of such a thing.
Kar Komak laughed.
"You forget," he said, "that they are but thin air--figments of my
brain. They will vanish, unscathed, when we have no further need
for them. Praised be your first ancestor, redman, that you thought
of this chance in time! It would never have occurred to me to imagine
that I might wield the same power that brought me into existence."
"You are right," said Carthoris. "Still, I hate to leave them,
though there is naught else to do," and so the two turned from
the courtyard, and making their way into one of the broad avenues,
crept stealthily in the shadows of the building toward the great
central plaza upon which were the buildings occupied by the green
warriors when they visited the deserted city.
When they had come to the plaza's edge Carthoris halted.
"Wait here," he whispered. "I go to fetch thoats, since on foot
we may never hope to escape the clutches of these green fiends."
To reach the courtyard where the thoats were kept it was necessary
for Carthoris to pass through one of the buildings which surrounded
the square. Which were occupied and which not he could not even
guess, so he was compelled to take considerable chances to gain
the enclosure in which he could hear the restless beasts squealing
and quarrelling among themselves.
Chance carried him through a dark doorway into a large chamber in
which lay a score or more green warriors wrapped in their sleeping
silks and furs. Scarce had Carthoris passed through the short
hallway that connected the door of the building and the great room
beyond it than he became aware of the presence of something or some
one in the hallway through which he had but just passed.
He heard a man yawn, and then, behind him, he saw the figure of a
sentry rise from where the fellow had been dozing, and stretching
himself resume his wakeful watchfulness.
Carthoris realized that he must have passed within a foot of the
warrior, doubtless rousing him from his slumber. To retreat now
would be impossible. Yet to cross through that roomful of sleeping
warriors seemed almost equally beyond the pale of possibility.
Carthoris shrugged his broad shoulders and chose the lesser evil.
Warily he entered the room. At his right, against the wall,
leaned several swords and rifles and spears--extra weapons which
the warriors had stacked here ready to their hands should there
be a night alarm calling them suddenly from slumber. Beside each
sleeper lay his weapon--these were never far from their owners from
childhood to death.
The sight of the swords made the young man's palm itch. He stepped
quickly to them, selecting two short-swords--one for Kar Komak,
the other for himself; also some trappings for his naked comrade.
Then he started directly across the centre of the apartment among
the sleeping Torquasians.
Not a man of them moved until Carthoris had completed more than half
of the short though dangerous journey. Then a fellow directly in
his path turned restlessly upon his sleeping silks and furs.
The Heliumite paused above him, one of the short-swords in readiness
should the warrior awaken. For what seemed an eternity to the young
prince the green man continued to move uneasily upon his couch,
then, as though actuated by springs, he leaped to his feet and
faced the red man.
Instantly Carthoris struck, but not before a savage grunt escaped
the other's lips. In an instant the room was in turmoil. Warriors
leaped to their feet, grasping their weapons as they rose, and
shouting to one another for an explanation of the disturbance.
To Carthoris all within the room was plainly visible in the dim
light reflected from without, for the further moon stood directly
at zenith; but to the eyes of the newly-awakened green men objects
as yet had not taken on familiar forms--they but saw vaguely the
figures of warriors moving about their apartment.
Now one stumbled against the corpse of him whom Carthoris had
slain. The fellow stooped and his hand came in contact with the
cleft skull. He saw about him the giant figures of other green
men, and so he jumped to the only conclusion that was open to him.
"The Thurds!" he cried. "The Thurds are upon us! Rise, warriors
of Torquas, and drive home your swords within the hearts of Torquas'
Instantly the green men began to fall upon one another with naked
swords. Their savage lust of battle was aroused. To fight, to
kill, to die with cold steel buried in their vitals! Ah, that to
them was Nirvana.
Carthoris was quick to guess their error and take advantage of it.
He knew that in the pleasure of killing they might fight on long
after they had discovered their mistake, unless their attention
was distracted by sight of the real cause of the altercation, and
so he lost no time in continuing across the room to the doorway
upon the opposite side, which opened into the inner court, where
the savage thoats were squealing and fighting among themselves.
Once here he had no easy task before him. To catch and mount one
of these habitually rageful and intractable beasts was no child's
play under the best of conditions; but now, when silence and time
were such important considerations, it might well have seemed quite
hopeless to a less resourceful and optimistic man than the son of
the great warlord.
From his father he had learned much concerning the traits of these
mighty beasts, and from Tars Tarkas, also, when he had visited that
great green jeddak among his horde at Thark. So now he centred
upon the work in hand all that he had ever learned about them from
others and from his own experience, for he, too, had ridden and
handled them many times.
The temper of the thoats of Torquas appeared even shorter than their
vicious cousins among the Tharks and Warhoons, and for a time it
seemed unlikely that he should escape a savage charge on the part
of a couple of old bulls that circled, squealing, about him; but
at last he managed to get close enough to one of them to touch the
beast. With the feel of his hand upon the sleek hide the creature
quieted, and in answer to the telepathic command of the red man
sank to its knees.
In a moment Carthoris was upon its back, guiding it toward the
great gate that leads from the courtyard through a large building
at one end into an avenue beyond.
The other bull, still squealing and enraged, followed after his
fellow. There was no bridle upon either, for these strange creatures
are controlled entirely by suggestion--when they are controlled at
Even in the hands of the giant green men bridle reins would be
hopelessly futile against the mad savagery and mastodonic strength
of the thoat, and so they are guided by that strange telepathic
power with which the men of Mars have learned to communicate in a
crude way with the lower orders of their planet.
With difficulty Carthoris urged the two beasts to the gate, where,
leaning down, he raised the latch. Then the thoat that he was
riding placed his great shoulder to the skeel-wood planking, pushed
through, and a moment later the man and the two beasts were swinging
silently down the avenue to the edge of the plaza, where Kar Komak
Here Carthoris found considerable difficulty in subduing the second
thoat, and as Kar Komak had never before ridden one of the beasts,
it seemed a most hopeless job; but at last the bowman managed to
scramble to the sleek back, and again the two beasts fled softly
down the moss-grown avenues toward the open sea-bottom beyond the
All that night and the following day and the second night they
rode toward the north-east. No indication of pursuit developed,
and at dawn of the second day Carthoris saw in the distance the
waving ribbon of great trees that marked one of the long Barsoomian
Immediately they abandoned their thoats and approached the cultivated
district on foot. Carthoris also discarded the metal from his
harness, or such of it as might serve to identify him as a Heliumite,
or of royal blood, for he did not know to what nation belonged this
waterway, and upon Mars it is always well to assume every man and
nation your enemy until you have learned the contrary.
It was mid-forenoon when the two at last entered one of the roads
that cut through the cultivated districts at regular intervals,
joining the arid wastes on either side with the great, white,
central highway that follows through the centre from end to end of
the far-reaching, threadlike farm lands.
The high wall surrounding the fields served as a protection against
surprise by raiding green hordes, as well as keeping the savage
banths and other carnivora from the domestic animals and the human
beings upon the farms.
Carthoris stopped before the first gate he came to, pounding for
admission. The young man who answered his summons greeted the
two hospitably, though he looked with considerable wonder upon the
white skin and auburn hair of the bowman.
After he had listened for a moment to a partial narration of their
escape from the Torquasians, he invited them within, took them to
his house and bade the servants there prepare food for them.
As they waited in the low-ceiled, pleasant living room of the
farmhouse until the meal should be ready, Carthoris drew his host
into conversation that he might learn his nationality, and thus
the nation under whose dominion lay the waterway where circumstance
had placed him.
"I am Hal Vas," said the young man, "son of Vas Kor, of Dusar, a
noble in the retinue of Astok, Prince of Dusar. At present I am
Dwar of the Road for this district."
Carthoris was very glad that he had not disclosed his identity, for
though he had no idea of anything that had transpired since he had
left Helium, or that Astok was at the bottom of all his misfortunes,
he well knew that the Dusarian had no love for him, and that he
could hope for no assistance within the dominions of Dusar.
"And who are you?" asked Hal Vas. "By your appearance I take you
for a fighting man, but I see no insignia upon your harness. Can
it be that you are a panthan?"
Now, these wandering soldiers of fortune are common upon Barsoom,
where most men love to fight. They sell their services wherever
war exists, and in the occasional brief intervals when there is
no organized warfare between the red nations, they join one of the
numerous expeditions that are constantly being dispatched against
the green men in protection of the waterways that traverse the
wilder portions of the globe.
When their service is over they discard the metal of the nation
they have been serving until they shall have found a new master.
In the intervals they wear no insignia, their war-worn harness and
grim weapons being sufficient to attest their calling.
The suggestion was a happy one, and Carthoris embraced the chance
it afforded to account satisfactorily for himself. There was, however,
a single drawback. In times of war such panthans as happened to
be within the domain of a belligerent nation were compelled to don
the insignia of that nation and fight with her warriors.
As far as Carthoris knew Dusar was not at war with any other
nation, but there was never any telling when one red nation would
be flying at the throat of a neighbour, even though the great and
powerful alliance at the head of which was his father, John Carter,
had managed to maintain a long peace upon the greater portion of
A pleasant smile lighted Hal Vas' face as Carthoris admitted his
"It is well," exclaimed the young man, "that you chanced to come
hither, for here you will find the means of obtaining service in
short order. My father, Vas Kor, is even now with me, having come
hither to recruit a force for the new war against Helium."
TO SAVE DUSAR
Thuvia of Ptarth, battling for more than life against the lust of
Jav, cast a quick glance over her shoulder toward the forest from
which had rumbled the fierce growl. Jav looked, too.
What they saw filled each with apprehension. It was Komal, the
banth-god, rushing wide-jawed upon them!
Which had he chosen for his prey? Or was it to be both?
They had not long to wait, for though the Lotharian attempted to
hold the girl between himself and the terrible fangs, the great
beast found him at last.
Then, shrieking, he attempted to fly toward Lothar, after pushing
Thuvia bodily into the face of the man-eater. But his flight was
of short duration. In a moment Komal was upon him, rending his
throat and chest with demoniacal fury.
The girl reached their side a moment later, but it was with difficulty
that she tore the mad beast from its prey. Still growling and
casting hungry glances back upon Jav, the banth at last permitted
itself to be led away into the wood.
With her giant protector by her side Thuvia set forth to find the
passage through the cliffs, that she might attempt the seemingly
impossible feat of reaching far-distant Ptarth across the more than
seventeen thousand haads of savage Barsoom.
She could not believe that Carthoris had deliberately deserted her,
and so she kept a constant watch for him; but as she bore too far
to the north in her search for the tunnel she passed the Heliumite
as he was returning to Lothar in search of her.
Thuvia of Ptarth was having difficulty in determining the exact
status of the Prince of Helium in her heart. She could not admit
even to herself that she loved him, and yet she had permitted him
to apply to her that term of endearment and possession to which
a Barsoomian maid should turn deaf ears when voiced by other lips
than those of her husband or fiance--"my princess."
Kulan Tith, Jeddak of Kaol, to whom she was affianced, commanded
her respect and admiration. Had it been that she had surrendered
to her father's wishes because of pique that the handsome Heliumite
had not taken advantage of his visits to her father's court
to push the suit for her hand that she had been quite sure he had
contemplated since that distant day the two had sat together upon
the carved seat within the gorgeous Garden of the Jeddaks that
graced the inner courtyard of the palace of Salensus Oll at Kadabra?
Did she love Kulan Tith? Bravely she tried to believe that she
did; but all the while her eyes wandered through the coming darkness
for the figure of a clean-limbed fighting man--black-haired and
grey-eyed. Black was the hair of Kulan Tith; but his eyes were
It was almost dark when she found the entrance to the tunnel. Safely
she passed through to the hills beyond, and here, under the bright
light of Mars' two moons, she halted to plan her future action.
Should she wait here in the hope that Carthoris would return in
search of her? Or should she continue her way north-east toward
Ptarth? Where, first, would Carthoris have gone after leaving the
valley of Lothar?
Her parched throat and dry tongue gave her the answer--toward
Aaanthor and water. Well, she, too, would go first to Aaanthor,
where she might find more than the water she needed.
With Komal by her side she felt little fear, for he would protect
her from all other savage beasts. Even the great white apes would
flee the mighty banth in terror. Men only need she fear, but she
must take this and many other chances before she could hope to
reach her father's court again.
When at last Carthoris found her, only to be struck down by the
long-sword of a green man, Thuvia prayed that the same fate might
The sight of the red warriors leaping from their fliers had, for a
moment, filled her with renewed hope--hope that Carthoris of Helium
might be only stunned and that they would rescue him; but when she
saw the Dusarian metal upon their harness, and that they sought
only to escape with her alone from the charging Torquasians, she
Komal, too, was dead--dead across the body of the Heliumite. She
was, indeed, alone now. There was none to protect her.
The Dusarian warriors dragged her to the deck of the nearest flier.
All about them the green warriors surged in an attempt to wrest
her from the red.
At last those who had not died in the conflict gained the decks
of the two craft. The engines throbbed and purred--the propellers
whirred. Quickly the swift boats shot heavenward.
Thuvia of Ptarth glanced about her. A man stood near, smiling down
into her face. With a gasp of recognition she looked full into
his eyes, and then with a little moan of terror and understanding
she buried her face in her hands and sank to the polished skeel-wood
deck. It was Astok, Prince of Dusar, who bent above her.
Swift were the fliers of Astok of Dusar, and great the need for
reaching his father's court as quickly as possible, for the fleets
of war of Helium and Ptarth and Kaol were scattered far and wide
above Barsoom. Nor would it go well with Astok or Dusar should
any one of them discover Thuvia of Ptarth a prisoner upon his own
Aaanthor lies in fifty south latitude, and forty east of Horz, the
deserted seat of ancient Barsoomian culture and learning, while
Dusar lies fifteen degrees north of the equator and twenty degrees
east from Horz.
Great though the distance is, the fliers covered it without a stop.
Long before they had reached their destination Thuvia of Ptarth had
learned several things that cleared up the doubts that had assailed
her mind for many days. Scarce had they risen above Aaanthor than
she recognized one of the crew as a member of the crew of that other
flier that had borne her from her father's gardens to Aaanthor.
The presence of Astok upon the craft settled the whole question.
She had been stolen by emissaries of the Dusarian prince--Carthoris
of Helium had had nothing to do with it.
Nor did Astok deny the charge when she accused him. He only smiled
and pleaded his love for her.
"I would sooner mate with a white ape!" she cried, when he would
have urged his suit.
Astok glowered sullenly upon her.
"You shall mate with me, Thuvia of Ptarth," he growled, "or, by
your first ancestor, you shall have your preference--and mate with
a white ape."
The girl made no reply, nor could he draw her into conversation
during the balance of the journey.
As a matter of fact Astok was a trifle awed by the proportions
of the conflict which his abduction of the Ptarthian princess had
induced, nor was he over comfortable with the weight of responsibility
which the possession of such a prisoner entailed.
His one thought was to get her to Dusar, and there let his father
assume the responsibility. In the meantime he would be as careful
as possible to do nothing to affront her, lest they all might be
captured and he have to account for his treatment of the girl to
one of the great jeddaks whose interest centred in her.
And so at last they came to Dusar, where Astok hid his prisoner in
a secret room high in the east tower of his own palace. He had
sworn his men to silence in the matter of the identity of the girl,
for until he had seen his father, Nutus, Jeddak of Dusar, he dared
not let any one know whom he had brought with him from the south.
But when he appeared in the great audience chamber before the
cruel-lipped man who was his sire, he found his courage oozing,
and he dared not speak of the princess hid within his palace. It
occurred to him to test his father's sentiments upon the subject,
and so he told a tale of capturing one who claimed to know the
whereabouts of Thuvia of Ptarth.
"And if you command it, Sire," he said, "I will go and capture
her--fetching her here to Dusar."
Nutus frowned and shook his head.
"You have done enough already to set Ptarth and Kaol and Helium
all three upon us at once should they learn your part in the theft
of the Ptarth princess. That you succeeded in shifting the guilt
upon the Prince of Helium was fortunate, and a masterly move of
strategy; but were the girl to know the truth and ever return to
her father's court, all Dusar would have to pay the penalty, and to
have her here a prisoner amongst us would be an admission of guilt
from the consequences of which naught could save us. It would cost
me my throne, Astok, and that I have no mind to lose.
"If we had her here--" the elder man suddenly commenced to muse,
repeating the phrase again and again. "If we had her here, Astok,"
he exclaimed fiercely. "Ah, if we but had her here and none knew
that she was here! Can you not guess, man? The guilt of Dusar
might be for ever buried with her bones," he concluded in a low,
Astok, Prince of Dusar, shuddered.
Weak he was; yes, and wicked, too; but the suggestion that his
father's words implied turned him cold with horror.
Cruel to their enemies are the men of Mars; but the word "enemies"
is commonly interpreted to mean men only. Assassination runs riot
in the great Barsoomian cities; yet to murder a woman is a crime
so unthinkable that even the most hardened of the paid assassins
would shrink from you in horror should you suggest such a thing to
Nutus was apparently oblivious to his son's all-too-patent terror
at his suggestion. Presently he continued:
"You say that you know where the girl lies hid, since she was stolen
from your people at Aaanthor. Should she be found by any one of
the three powers, her unsupported story would be sufficient to turn
them all against us.
"There is but one way, Astok," cried the older man. "You must return
at once to her hiding-place and fetch her hither in all secrecy.
And, look you here! Return not to Dusar without her, upon pain of
Astok, Prince of Dusar, well knew his royal father's temper. He
knew that in the tyrant's heart there pulsed no single throb of
love for any creature.
Astok's mother had been a slave woman. Nutus had never loved her.
He had never loved another. In youth he had tried to find a bride
at the courts of several of his powerful neighbours, but their
women would have none of him.
After a dozen daughters of his own nobility had sought self-destruction
rather than wed him he had given up. And then it had been that
he had legally wed one of his slaves that he might have a son to
stand among the jeds when Nutus died and a new jeddak was chosen.
Slowly Astok withdrew from the presence of his father. With white
face and shaking limbs he made his way to his own palace. As he
crossed the courtyard his glance chanced to wander to the great
east tower looming high against the azure of the sky.
At sight of it beads of sweat broke out upon his brow.
Issus! No other hand than his could be trusted to do the horrid
thing. With his own fingers he must crush the life from that
perfect throat, or plunge the silent blade into the red, red heart.
Her heart! The heart that he had hoped would brim with love for
But had it done so? He recalled the haughty contempt with which his
protestations of love had been received. He went cold and then hot
to the memory of it. His compunctions cooled as the self-satisfaction
of a near revenge crowded out the finer instincts that had for
a moment asserted themselves--the good that he had inherited from
the slave woman was once again submerged in the bad blood that had
come down to him from his royal sire; as, in the end, it always
A cold smile supplanted the terror that had dilated his eyes. He
turned his steps toward the tower. He would see her before he set
out upon the journey that was to blind his father to the fact that
the girl was already in Dusar.
Quietly he passed in through the secret way, ascending a spiral
runway to the apartment in which the Princess of Ptarth was immured.
As he entered the room he saw the girl leaning upon the sill of
the east casement, gazing out across the roof tops of Dusar toward
distant Ptarth. He hated Ptarth. The thought of it filled him
with rage. Why not finish her now and have it done with?
At the sound of his step she turned quickly toward him. Ah, how
beautiful she was! His sudden determination faded beneath the
glorious light of her wondrous beauty. He would wait until he had
returned from his little journey of deception--maybe there might
be some other way then. Some other hand to strike the blow--with
that face, with those eyes before him, he could never do it. Of
that he was positive. He had always gloried in the cruelty of his
nature, but, Issus! he was not that cruel. No, another must be
found--one whom he could trust.
He was still looking at her as she stood there before him meeting
his gaze steadily and unafraid. He felt the hot passion of his
love mounting higher and higher.
Why not sue once more? If she would relent, all might yet be
well. Even if his father could not be persuaded, they could fly
to Ptarth, laying all the blame of the knavery and intrigue that
had thrown four great nations into war, upon the shoulders of Nutus.
And who was there that would doubt the justice of the charge?
"Thuvia," he said, "I come once again, for the last time, to lay
my heart at your feet. Ptarth and Kaol and Dusar are battling with
Helium because of you. Wed me, Thuvia, and all may yet be as it
The girl shook her head.
"Wait!" he commanded, before she could speak. "Know the truth
before you speak words that may seal, not only your own fate, but
that of the thousands of warriors who battle because of you.
"Refuse to wed me willingly, and Dusar would be laid waste should
ever the truth be known to Ptarth and Kaol and Helium. They would
raze our cities, leaving not one stone upon another. They would
scatter our peoples across the face of Barsoom from the frozen north
to the frozen south, hunting them down and slaying them, until this
great nation remained only as a hated memory in the minds of men.
"But while they are exterminating the Dusarians, countless thousands
of their own warriors must perish--and all because of the stubbornness
of a single woman who would not wed the prince who loves her.
"Refuse, Thuvia of Ptarth, and there remains but a single
alternative--no man must ever know your fate. Only a handful of
loyal servitors besides my royal father and myself know that you
were stolen from the gardens of Thuvan Dihn by Astok, Prince of
Dusar, or that to-day you be imprisoned in my palace.
"Refuse, Thuvia of Ptarth, and you must die to save Dusar--there
is no other way. Nutus, the jeddak, has so decreed. I have spoken."
For a long moment the girl let her level gaze rest full upon the
face of Astok of Dusar. Then she spoke, and though the words were
few, the unimpassioned tone carried unfathomable depths of cold
"Better all that you have threatened," she said, "than you."
Then she turned her back upon him and went to stand once more before
the east window, gazing with sad eyes toward distant Ptarth.
Astok wheeled and left the room, returning after a short interval
of time with food and drink.
"Here," he said, "is sustenance until I return again. The next to
enter this apartment will be your executioner. Commend yourself to
your ancestors, Thuvia of Ptarth, for within a few days you shall
be with them."
Then he was gone.
Half an hour later he was interviewing an officer high in the navy
"Whither went Vas Kor?" he asked. "He is not at his palace."
"South, to the great waterway that skirts Torquas," replied the
other. "His son, Hal Vas, is Dwar of the Road there, and thither
has Vas Kor gone to enlist recruits among the workers on the farms."
"Good," said Astok, and a half-hour more found him rising above
Dusar in his swiftest flier.
TURJUN, THE PANTHAN
The face of carthoris of Helium gave no token of the emotions that
convulsed him inwardly as he heard from the lips of Hal Vas that
Helium was at war with Dusar, and that fate had thrown him into
the service of the enemy.
That he might utilize this opportunity to the good of Helium scarce
sufficed to outweigh the chagrin he felt that he was not fighting
in the open at the head of his own loyal troops.
To escape the Dusarians might prove an easy matter; and then again
it might not. Should they suspect his loyalty (and the loyalty
of an impressed panthan was always open to suspicion), he might
not find an opportunity to elude their vigilance until after the
termination of the war, which might occur within days, or, again,
only after long and weary years of bloodshed.
He recalled that history recorded wars in which actual military
operations had been carried on without cessation for five or six
hundred years, and even now there were nations upon Barsoom with
which Helium had made no peace within the history of man.
The outlook was not cheering. He could not guess that within a
few hours he would be blessing the fate that had thrown him into
the service of Dusar.
"Ah!" exclaimed Hal Vas. "Here is my father now. Kaor! Vas Kor.
Here is one you will be glad to meet--a doughty panthan--" He
"Turjun," interjected Carthoris, seizing upon the first appellation
that occurred to him.
As he spoke his eyes crossed quickly to the tall warrior who was
entering the room. Where before had he seen that giant figure,
that taciturn countenance, and the livid sword-cut from temple to
"Vas Kor," repeated Carthoris mentally. "Vas Kor!" Where had he
seen the man before?
And then the noble spoke, and like a flash it all came back to
Carthoris--the forward servant upon the landing-stage at Ptarth
that time that he had been explaining the intricacies of his new
compass to Thuvan Dihn; the lone slave that had guarded his own hangar
that night he had left upon his ill-fated journey for Ptarth--the
journey that had brought him so mysteriously to far Aaanthor.
"Vas Kor," he repeated aloud, "blessed be your ancestors for this
meeting," nor did the Dusarian guess the wealth of meaning that lay
beneath that hackneyed phrase with which a Barsoomian acknowledges
"And blessed be yours, Turjun," replied Vas Kor.
Now came the introduction of Kar Komak to Vas Kor, and as Carthoris
went through the little ceremony there came to him the only
explanation he might make to account for the white skin and auburn
hair of the bowman; for he feared that the truth might not be
believed and thus suspicion be cast upon them both from the beginning.
"Kar Komak," he explained, "is, as you can see, a thern. He
has wandered far from his icebound southern temples in search of
adventure. I came upon him in the pits of Aaanthor; but though
I have known him so short a time, I can vouch for his bravery and
Since the destruction of the fabric of their false religion by
John Carter, the majority of the therns had gladly accepted the
new order of things, so that it was now no longer uncommon to see
them mingling with the multitudes of red men in any of the great
cities of the outer world, so Vas Kor neither felt nor expressed
any great astonishment.
All during the interview Carthoris watched, catlike, for some
indication that Vas Kor recognized in the battered panthan the
erstwhile gorgeous Prince of Helium; but the sleepless nights, the
long days of marching and fighting, the wounds and the dried blood
had evidently sufficed to obliterate the last remnant of his likeness
to his former self; and then Vas Kor had seen him but twice in all
his life. Little wonder that he did not know him.
During the evening Vas Kor announced that on the morrow they should
depart north toward Dusar, picking up recruits at various stations
along the way.
In a great field behind the house a flier lay--a fair-sized
cruiser-transport that would accommodate many men, yet swift and
well armed also. Here Carthoris slept, and Kar Komak, too, with
the other recruits, under guard of the regular Dusarian warriors
that manned the craft.
Toward midnight Vas Kor returned to the vessel from his son's
house, repairing at once to his cabin. Carthoris, with one of the
Dusarians, was on watch. It was with difficulty that the Heliumite
repressed a cold smile as the noble passed within a foot of
him--within a foot of the long, slim, Heliumitic blade that swung
in his harness.
How easy it would have been! How easy to avenge the cowardly
trick that had been played upon him--to avenge Helium and Ptarth
But his hand moved not toward the dagger's hilt, for first Vas Kor
must serve a better purpose--he might know where Thuvia of Ptarth
lay hidden now, if it had truly been Dusarians that had spirited
her away during the fight before Aaanthor.
And then, too, there was the instigator of the entire foul plot.
HE must pay the penalty; and who better than Vas Kor could lead
the Prince of Helium to Astok of Dusar?
Faintly out of the night there came to Carthoris's ears the purring
of a distant motor. He scanned the heavens.
Yes, there it was far in the north, dimly outlined against the
dark void of space that stretched illimitably beyond it, the faint
suggestion of a flier passing, unlighted, through the Barsoomian
Carthoris, knowing not whether the craft might be friend or foe
of Dusar, gave no sign that he had seen, but turned his eyes in
another direction, leaving the matter to the Dusarian who stood
watch with him.
Presently the fellow discovered the oncoming craft, and sounded
the low alarm which brought the balance of the watch and an officer
from their sleeping silks and furs upon the deck near by.
The cruiser-transport lay without lights, and, resting as she was
upon the ground, must have been entirely invisible to the oncoming
flier, which all presently recognized as a small craft.
It soon became evident that the stranger intended making a landing,
for she was now spiraling slowly above them, dropping lower and
lower in each graceful curve.
"It is the Thuria," whispered one of the Dusarian warriors. "I
would know her in the blackness of the pits among ten thousand
"Right you are!" exclaimed Vas Kor, who had come on deck. And then
"Kaor!" came presently from above after a brief silence. Then:
"Cruiser-transport Kalksus, Vas Kor of Dusar."
"Good!" came from above. "Is there safe landing alongside?"
"Yes, close in to starboard. Wait, we will show our lights," and
a moment later the smaller craft settled close beside the Kalksus,
and the lights of the latter were immediately extinguished once
Several figures could be seen slipping over the side of the Thuria
and advancing toward the Kalksus. Ever suspicious, the Dusarians
stood ready to receive the visitors as friends or foes as closer
inspection might prove them. Carthoris stood quite near the rail,
ready to take sides with the new-comers should chance have it that
they were Heliumites playing a bold stroke of strategy upon this
lone Dusarian ship. He had led like parties himself, and knew that
such a contingency was quite possible.
But the face of the first man to cross the rail undeceived him
with a shock that was not at all unpleasurable--it was the face of
Astok, Prince of Dusar.
Scarce noticing the others upon the deck of the Kalksus, Astok
strode forward to accept Vas Kor's greeting, then he summoned the
noble below. The warriors and officers returned to their sleeping
silks and furs, and once more the deck was deserted except for the
Dusarian warrior and Turjun, the panthan, who stood guard.
The latter walked quietly to and fro. The former leaned across
the rail, wishing for the hour that would bring him relief. He
did not see his companion approach the lights of the cabin of Vas
Kor. He did not see him stoop with ear close pressed to a tiny
"May the white apes take us all," cried Astok ruefully, "if we are
not in as ugly a snarl as you have ever seen! Nutus thinks that
we have her in hiding far away from Dusar. He has bidden me bring
He paused. No man should have heard from his lips the thing he was
trying to tell. It should have been for ever the secret of Nutus
and Astok, for upon it rested the safety of a throne. With that
knowledge any man could wrest from the Jeddak of Dusar whatever he
But Astok was afraid, and he wanted from this older man the suggestion
of an alternative. He went on.
"I am to kill her," he whispered, looking fearfully around. "Nutus
merely wishes to see the body that he may know his commands have
been executed. I am now supposed to be gone to the spot where we
have her hidden that I may fetch her in secrecy to Dusar. None
is to know that she has ever been in the keeping of a Dusarian. I
do not need to tell you what would befall Dusar should Ptarth and
Helium and Kaol ever learn the truth."
The jaws of the listener at the ventilator clicked together with
a vicious snap. Before he had but guessed at the identity of the
subject of this conversation. Now he knew. And they were to kill
her! His muscular fingers clenched until the nails bit into the
"And you wish me to go with you while you fetch her to Dusar," Vas
Kor was saying. "Where is she?"
Astok bent close and whispered into the other's ear. The suggestion
of a smile crossed the cruel features of Vas Kor. He realized the
power that lay within his grasp. He should be a jed at least.
"And how may I help you, my Prince?" asked the older man suavely.
"I cannot kill her," said Astok. "Issus! I cannot do it! When
she turns those eyes upon me my heart becomes water."
Vas Kor's eyes narrowed.
"And you wish--" He paused, the interrogation unfinished, yet
"YOU do not love her," he said.
"But I love my life--though I am only a lesser noble," he concluded
"You shall be a greater noble--a noble of the first rank!" exclaimed
"I would be a jed," said Vas Kor bluntly.
"A jed must die before there can be another jed," he pleaded.
"Jeds have died before," snapped Vas Kor. "It would doubtless be
not difficult for you to find a jed you do not love, Astok--there
are many who do not love you."
Already Vas Kor was commencing to presume upon his power over the
young prince. Astok was quick to note and appreciate the subtle
change in his lieutenant. A cunning scheme entered his weak and
"As you say, Vas Kor!" he exclaimed. "You shall be a jed when
the thing is done," and then, to himself: "Nor will it then be
difficult for me to find a jed I do not love."
"When shall we return to Dusar?" asked the noble.
"At once," replied Astok. "Let us get under way now--there is
naught to keep you here?"
"I had intended sailing on the morrow, picking up such recruits as
the various Dwars of the Roads might have collected for me, as we
returned to Dusar."
"Let the recruits wait," said Astok. "Or, better still, come you
to Dusar upon the Thuria, leaving the Kalksus to follow and pick
up the recruits."
"Yes," acquiesced Vas Kor; "that is the better plan. Come; I am
ready," and he rose to accompany Astok to the latter's flier.
The listener at the ventilator came to his feet slowly, like an
old man. His face was drawn and pinched and very white beneath
the light copper of his skin. She was to die! And he helpless to
avert the tragedy. He did not even know where she was imprisoned.
The two men were ascending from the cabin to the deck. Turjun,
the panthan, crept close to the companionway, his sinuous fingers
closing tightly upon the hilt of his dagger. Could he despatch
them both before he was overpowered? He smiled. He could slay an
entire utan of her enemies in his present state of mind.
They were almost abreast of him now. Astok was speaking.
"Bring a couple of your men along, Vas Kor," he said. "We are
short-handed upon the Thuria, so quickly did we depart."
The panthan's fingers dropped from the dagger's hilt. His quick
mind had grasped here a chance for succouring Thuvia of Ptarth.
He might be chosen as one to accompany the assassins, and once he
had learned where the captive lay he could dispatch Astok and Vas
Kor as well as now. To kill them before he knew where Thuvia was
hid was simply to leave her to death at the hands of others; for
sooner or later Nutus would learn her whereabouts, and Nutus, Jeddak
of Dusar, could not afford to let her live.
Turjun put himself in the path of Vas Kor that he might not be
overlooked. The noble aroused the men sleeping upon the deck, but
always before him the strange panthan whom he had recruited that
same day found means for keeping himself to the fore.
Vas Kor turned to his lieutenant, giving instruction for the bringing
of the Kalksus to Dusar, and the gathering up of the recruits; then
he signed to two warriors who stood close behind the padwar.
"You two accompany us to the Thuria," he said, "and put yourselves
at the disposal of her dwar."
It was dark upon the deck of the Kalksus, so Vas Kor had not a good
look at the faces of the two he chose; but that was of no moment,
for they were but common warriors to assist with the ordinary duties
upon a flier, and to fight if need be.
One of the two was Kar Komak, the bowman. The other was not
The Heliumite was mad with disappointment. He snatched his dagger
from his harness; but already Astok had left the deck of the Kalksus,
and he knew that before he could overtake him, should he dispatch
Vas Kor, he would be killed by the Dusarian warriors, who now were
thick upon the deck. With either one of the two alive Thuvia was
in as great danger as though both lived--it must be both!
As Vas Kor descended to the ground Carthoris boldly followed him,
nor did any attempt to halt him, thinking, doubtless, that he was
one of the party.
After him came Kar Komak and the Dusarian warrior who had been
detailed to duty upon the Thuria. Carthoris walked close to the
left side of the latter. Now they came to the dense shadow under
the side of the Thuria. It was very dark there, so that they had
to grope for the ladder.
Kar Komak preceded the Dusarian. The latter reached upward for
the swinging rounds, and as he did so steel fingers closed upon
his windpipe and a steel blade pierced the very centre of his heart.
Turjun, the panthan, was the last to clamber over the rail of the
Thuria, drawing the rope ladder in after him.
A moment later the flier was rising rapidly, headed for the north.
At the rail Kar Komak turned to speak to the warrior who had been
detailed to accompany him. His eyes went wide as they rested
upon the face of the young man whom he had met beside the granite
cliffs that guard mysterious Lothar. How had he come in place of
A quick sign, and Kar Komak turned once more to find the Thuria's
dwar that he might report himself for duty. Behind him followed
Carthoris blessed the chance that had caused Vas Kor to choose the
bowman of all others, for had it been another Dusarian there would
have been questions to answer as to the whereabouts of the warrior
who lay so quietly in the field beyond the residence of Hal Vas,
Dwar of the Southern Road; and Carthoris had no answer to that
question other than his sword point, which alone was scarce adequate
to convince the entire crew of the Thuria.
The journey to Dusar seemed interminable to the impatient Carthoris,
though as a matter of fact it was quickly accomplished. Some
time before they reached their destination they met and spoke with
another Dusarian war flier. From it they learned that a great
battle was soon to be fought south-east of Dusar.
The combined navies of Dusar, Ptarth and Kaol had been intercepted
in their advance toward Helium by the mighty Heliumitic navy--the
most formidable upon Barsoom, not alone in numbers and armament,
but in the training and courage of its officers and warriors, and
the zitidaric proportions of many of its monster battleships.
Not for many a day had there been the promise of such a battle.
Four jeddaks were in direct command of their own fleets--Kulan Tith
of Kaol, Thuvan Dihn of Ptarth, and Nutus of Dusar upon one side;
while upon the other was Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium. With the
latter was John Carter, Warlord of Mars.
From the far north another force was moving south across the barrier
cliffs--the new navy of Talu, Jeddak of Okar, coming in response
to the call from the warlord. Upon the decks of the sullen ships
of war black-bearded yellow men looked over eagerly toward the
south. Gorgeous were they in their splendid cloaks of orluk and
apt. Fierce, formidable fighters from the hothouse cities of the
And from the distant south, from the sea of Omean and the cliffs
of gold, from the temples of the therns and the garden of Issus,
other thousands sailed into the north at the call of the great man
they all had learned to respect, and, respecting, love. Pacing the
flagship of this mighty fleet, second only to the navy of Helium,
was the ebon Xodar, Jeddak of the First Born, his heart beating
strong in anticipation of the coming moment when he should hurl his
savage crews and the weight of his mighty ships upon the enemies
of the warlord.
But would these allies reach the theatre of war in time to be of
avail to Helium? Or, would Helium need them?
Carthoris, with the other members of the crew of the Thuria, heard
the gossip and the rumours. None knew of the two fleets, the one
from the south and the other from the north, that were coming to
support the ships of Helium, and all of Dusar were convinced that
nothing now could save the ancient power of Helium from being wiped
for ever from the upper air of Barsoom.
Carthoris, too, loyal son of Helium that he was, felt that even
his beloved navy might not be able to cope successfully with the
combined forces of three great powers.
Now the Thuria touched the landing-stage above the palace of Astok.
Hurriedly the prince and Vas Kor disembarked and entered the drop
that would carry them to the lower levels of the palace.
Close beside it was another drop that was utilized by common
warriors. Carthoris touched Kar Komak upon the arm.
"Come!" he whispered. "You are my only friend among a nation of
enemies. Will you stand by me?"
"To the death," replied Kar Komak.
The two approached the drop. A slave operated it.
"Where are your passes?" he asked.
Carthoris fumbled in his pocket pouch as though in search of them,
at the same time entering the cage. Kar Komak followed him, closing
the door. The slave did not start the cage downward. Every second
counted. They must reach the lower level as soon as possible after
Astok and Vas Kor if they would know whither the two went.
Carthoris turned suddenly upon the slave, hurling him to the opposite
side of the cage.
"Bind and gag him, Kar Komak!" he cried.
Then he grasped the control lever, and as the cage shot downward
at sickening speed, the bowman grappled with the slave. Carthoris
could not leave the control to assist his companion, for should
they touch the lowest level at the speed at which they were going,
all would be dashed to instant death.
Below him he could now see the top of Astok's cage in the parallel
shaft, and he reduced the speed of his to that of the other. The
slave commenced to scream.
"Silence him!" cried Carthoris.
A moment later a limp form crumpled to the floor of the cage.
"He is silenced," said Kar Komak.
Carthoris brought the cage to a sudden stop at one of the higher
levels of the palace. Opening the door, he grasped the still form
of the slave and pushed it out upon the floor. Then he banged the
gate and resumed the downward drop.
Once more he sighted the top of the cage that held Astok and Vas
Kor. An instant later it had stopped, and as he brought his car
to a halt, he saw the two men disappear through one of the exits
of the corridor beyond.
KULAN TITH'S SACRIFICE
The morning of the second day of her incarceration in the east tower
of the palace of Astok, Prince of Dusar, found Thuvia of Ptarth
waiting in dull apathy the coming of the assassin.
She had exhausted every possibility of escape, going over and over
again the door and the windows, the floor and the walls.
The solid ersite slabs she could not even scratch; the tough
Barsoomian glass of the windows would have shattered to nothing
less than a heavy sledge in the hands of a strong man. The door
and the lock were impregnable. There was no escape. And they had
stripped her of her weapons so that she could not even anticipate
the hour of her doom, thus robbing them of the satisfaction of
witnessing her last moments.
When would they come? Would Astok do the deed with his own hands?
She doubted that he had the courage for it. At heart he was a
coward--she had known it since first she had heard him brag as, a
visitor at the court of her father, he had sought to impress her
with his valour.
She could not help but compare him with another. And with whom
would an affianced bride compare an unsuccessful suitor? With her
betrothed? And did Thuvia of Ptarth now measure Astok of Dusar by
the standards of Kulan Tith, Jeddak of Kaol?
She was about to die; her thoughts were her own to do with as
she pleased; yet furthest from them was Kulan Tith. Instead the
figure of the tall and comely Heliumite filled her mind, crowding
therefrom all other images.
She dreamed of his noble face, the quiet dignity of his bearing,
the smile that lit his eyes as he conversed with his friends, and
the smile that touched his lips as he fought with his enemies--the
fighting smile of his Virginian sire.
And Thuvia of Ptarth, true daughter of Barsoom, found her breath
quickening and heart leaping to the memory of this other smile--the
smile that she would never see again. With a little half-sob
the girl sank to the pile of silks and furs that were tumbled in
confusion beneath the east windows, burying her face in her arms.
In the corridor outside her prison-room two men had paused in heated
"I tell you again, Astok," one was saying, "that I shall not do
this thing unless you be present in the room."
There was little of the respect due royalty in the tone of the
speaker's voice. The other, noting it, flushed.
"Do not impose too far upon my friendship for you, Vas Kor," he
snapped. "There is a limit to my patience."
"There is no question of royal prerogative here," returned Vas
Kor. "You ask me to become an assassin in your stead, and against
your jeddak's strict injunctions. You are in no position, Astok,
to dictate to me; but rather should you be glad to accede to my
reasonable request that you be present, thus sharing the guilt with
me. Why should I bear it all?"
The younger man scowled, but he advanced toward the locked door,
and as it swung in upon its hinges, he entered the room beyond at
the side of Vas Kor.
Across the chamber the girl, hearing them enter, rose to her feet
and faced them. Under the soft copper of her skin she blanched
just a trifle; but her eyes were brave and level, and the haughty
tilt of her firm little chin was eloquent of loathing and contempt.
"You still prefer death?" asked Astok.
"To YOU, yes," replied the girl coldly.
The Prince of Dusar turned to Vas Kor and nodded. The noble drew
his short-sword and crossed the room toward Thuvia.
"Kneel!" he commanded.
"I prefer to die standing," she replied.
"As you will," said Vas Kor, feeling the point of his blade with
his left thumb. "In the name of Nutus, Jeddak of Dusar!" he cried,
and ran quickly toward her.
"In the name of Carthoris, Prince of Helium!" came in low tones
from the doorway.
Vas Kor turned to see the panthan he had recruited at his son's
house leaping across the floor toward him. The fellow brushed past
Astok with an: "After him, you--calot!"
Vas Kor wheeled to meet the charging man.
"What means this treason?" he cried.
Astok, with bared sword, leaped to Vas Kor's assistance. The
panthan's sword clashed against that of the noble, and in the first
encounter Vas Kor knew that he faced a master swordsman.
Before he half realized the stranger's purpose he found the man
between himself and Thuvia of Ptarth, at bay facing the two swords of
the Dusarians. But he fought not like a man at bay. Ever was he
the aggressor, and though always he kept his flashing blade between
the girl and her enemies, yet he managed to force them hither and
thither about the room, calling to the girl to follow close behind
Until it was too late neither Vas Kor nor Astok dreamed of that
which lay in the panthan's mind; but at last as the fellow stood
with his back toward the door, both understood--they were penned in
their own prison, and now the intruder could slay them at his will,
for Thuvia of Ptarth was bolting the door at the man's direction,
first taking the key from the opposite side, where Astok had left
it when they had entered.
Astok, as was his way, finding that the enemy did not fall immediately
before their swords, was leaving the brunt of the fighting to
Vas Kor, and now as his eyes appraised the panthan carefully they
presently went wider and wider, for slowly he had come to recognize
the features of the Prince of Helium.
The Heliumite was pressing close upon Vas Kor. The noble was
bleeding from a dozen wounds. Astok saw that he could not for long
withstand the cunning craft of that terrible sword hand.
"Courage, Vas Kor!" he whispered in the other's ear. "I have a
plan. Hold him but a moment longer and all will be well," but the
balance of the sentence, "with Astok, Prince of Dusar," he did not
Vas Kor, dreaming no treachery, nodded his head, and for a moment
succeeded in holding Carthoris at bay. Then the Heliumite and the
girl saw the Dusarian prince run swiftly to the opposite side of
the chamber, touch something in the wall that sent a great panel
swinging inward, and disappear into the black vault beyond.
It was done so quickly that by no possibility could they have
intercepted him. Carthoris, fearful lest Vas Kor might similarly
elude him, or Astok return immediately with reinforcements, sprang
viciously in upon his antagonist, and a moment later the headless
body of the Dusarian noble rolled upon the ersite floor.
"Come!" cried Carthoris. "There is no time to be lost. Astok will
be back in a moment with enough warriors to overpower me."
But Astok had no such plan in mind, for such a move would have
meant the spreading of the fact among the palace gossips that the
Ptarthian princess was a prisoner in the east tower. Quickly would
the word have come to his father, and no amount of falsifying could
have explained away the facts that the jeddak's investigation would
have brought to light.
Instead Astok was racing madly through a long corridor to reach
the door of the tower-room before Carthoris and Thuvia left the
apartment. He had seen the girl remove the key and place it in
her pocket-pouch, and he knew that a dagger point driven into the
keyhole from the opposite side would imprison them in the secret
chamber till eight dead worlds circled a cold, dead sun.
As fast as he could run Astok entered the main corridor that led
to the tower chamber. Would he reach the door in time? What if
the Heliumite should have already emerged and he should run upon
him in the passageway? Astok felt a cold chill run up his spine.
He had no stomach to face that uncanny blade.
He was almost at the door. Around the next turn of the corridor
it stood. No, they had not left the apartment. Evidently Vas Kor
was still holding the Heliumite!
Astok could scarce repress a grin at the clever manner in which he
had outwitted the noble and disposed of him at the same time. And
then he rounded the turn and came face to face with an auburn-haired,
The fellow did not wait to ask the reason for his coming; instead
he leaped upon him with a long-sword, so that Astok had to parry a
dozen vicious cuts before he could disengage himself and flee back
down the runway.
A moment later Carthoris and Thuvia entered the corridor from the
"Well, Kar Komak?" asked the Heliumite.
"It is fortunate that you left me here, red man," said the bowman.
"I but just now intercepted one who seemed over-anxious to reach
this door--it was he whom they call Astok, Prince of Dusar."
"Where is he now?" he asked.
"He escaped my blade, and ran down this corridor," replied Kar
"We must lose no time, then!" exclaimed Carthoris. "He will have
the guard upon us yet!"
Together the three hastened along the winding passages through which
Carthoris and Kar Komak had tracked the Dusarians by the marks of
the latter's sandals in the thin dust that overspread the floors
of these seldom-used passage-ways.
They had come to the chamber at the entrances to the lifts before
they met with opposition. Here they found a handful of guardsmen,
and an officer, who, seeing that they were strangers, questioned
their presence in the palace of Astok.
Once more Carthoris and Kar Komak had recourse to their blades,
and before they had won their way to one of the lifts the noise of
the conflict must have aroused the entire palace, for they heard
men shouting, and as they passed the many levels on their quick
passage to the landing-stage they saw armed men running hither and
thither in search of the cause of the commotion.
Beside the stage lay the Thuria, with three warriors on guard.
Again the Heliumite and the Lotharian fought shoulder to shoulder,
but the battle was soon over, for the Prince of Helium alone would
have been a match for any three that Dusar could produce.
Scarce had the Thuria risen from the ways ere a hundred or more
fighting men leaped to view upon the landing-stage. At their head
was Astok of Dusar, and as he saw the two he had thought so safely
in his power slipping from his grasp, he danced with rage and
chagrin, shaking his fists and hurling abuse and vile insults at
With her bow inclined upward at a dizzy angle, the Thuria shot
meteor-like into the sky. From a dozen points swift patrol boats
darted after her, for the scene upon the landing-stage above the
palace of the Prince of Dusar had not gone unnoticed.
A dozen times shots grazed the Thuria's side, and as Carthoris could
not leave the control levers, Thuvia of Ptarth turned the muzzles
of the craft's rapid-fire guns upon the enemy as she clung to the
steep and slippery surface of the deck.
It was a noble race and a noble fight. One against a score now, for
other Dusarian craft had joined in the pursuit; but Astok, Prince
of Dusar, had built well when he built the Thuria. None in the
navy of his sire possessed a swifter flier; no other craft so well
armoured or so well armed.
One by one the pursuers were distanced, and as the last of them
fell out of range behind, Carthoris dropped the Thuria's nose to a
horizontal plane, as with lever drawn to the last notch, she tore
through the thin air of dying Mars toward the east and Ptarth.
Thirteen and a half thousand haads away lay Ptarth--a stiff
thirty-hour journey for the swiftest of fliers, and between Dusar
and Ptarth might lie half the navy of Dusar, for in this direction
was the reported seat of the great naval battle that even now might
be in progress.
Could Carthoris have known precisely where the great fleets of
the contending nations lay, he would have hastened to them without
delay, for in the return of Thuvia to her sire lay the greatest
hope of peace.
Half the distance they covered without sighting a single warship,
and then Kar Komak called Carthoris's attention to a distant craft
that rested upon the ochre vegetation of the great dead sea-bottom,
above which the Thuria was speeding.
About the vessel many figures could be seen swarming. With the
aid of powerful glasses, the Heliumite saw that they were green
warriors, and that they were repeatedly charging down upon the crew
of the stranded airship. The nationality of the latter he could
not make out at so great a distance.
It was not necessary to change the course of the Thuria to permit
of passing directly above the scene of battle, but Carthoris dropped
his craft a few hundred feet that he might have a better and closer
If the ship was of a friendly power, he could do no less than stop
and direct his guns upon her enemies, though with the precious
freight he carried he scarcely felt justified in landing, for
he could offer but two swords in reinforcement--scarce enough to
warrant jeopardizing the safety of the Princess of Ptarth.
As they came close above the stricken ship, they could see that
it would be but a question of minutes before the green horde would
swarm across the armoured bulwarks to glut the ferocity of their
bloodlust upon the defenders.
"It would be futile to descend," said Carthoris to Thuvia. "The
craft may even be of Dusar--she shows no insignia. All that we
may do is fire upon the hordesmen"; and as he spoke he stepped to
one of the guns and deflected its muzzle toward the green warriors
at the ship's side.
At the first shot from the Thuria those upon the vessel below
evidently discovered her for the first time. Immediately a device
fluttered from the bow of the warship on the ground. Thuvia of
Ptarth caught her breath quickly, glancing at Carthoris.
The device was that of Kulan Tith, Jeddak of Kaol--the man to whom
the Princess of Ptarth was betrothed!
How easy for the Heliumite to pass on, leaving his rival to the fate
that could not for long be averted! No man could accuse him of
cowardice or treachery, for Kulan Tith was in arms against Helium,
and, further, upon the Thuria were not enough swords to delay even
temporarily the outcome that already was a foregone conclusion in
the minds of the watchers.
What would Carthoris, Prince of Helium, do?
Scarce had the device broken to the faint breeze ere the bow of
the Thuria dropped at a sharp angle toward the ground.
"Can you navigate her?" asked Carthoris of Thuvia.
The girl nodded.
"I am going to try to take the survivors aboard," he continued.
"It will need both Kar Komak and myself to man the guns while
the Kaolians take to the boarding tackle. Keep her bow depressed
against the rifle fire. She can bear it better in her forward
armour, and at the same time the propellers will be protected."
He hurried to the cabin as Thuvia took the control. A moment later
the boarding tackle dropped from the keel of the Thuria, and from
a dozen points along either side stout, knotted leathern lines
trailed downward. At the same time a signal broke from her bow:
"Prepare to board us."
A shout arose from the deck of the Kaolian warship. Carthoris,
who by this time had returned from the cabin, smiled sadly. He was
about to snatch from the jaws of death the man who stood between
himself and the woman he loved.
"Take the port bow gun, Kar Komak," he called to the bowman, and
himself stepped to the gun upon the starboard bow.
*They could now feel the sharp shock of the explosions of the green
warriors vomited their hail of death and destruction at the sides
of the staunch Thuria.* [This paragraph needs to be verified from
It was a forlorn hope at best. At any moment the repulsive ray
tanks might be pierced. The men upon the Kaolian ship were battling
with renewed hope. In the bow stood Kulan Tith, a brave figure
fighting beside his brave warriors, beating back the ferocious
The Thuria came low above the other craft. The Kaolians were forming
under their officers in readiness to board, and then a sudden fierce
fusillade from the rifles of the green warriors vomited their hail
of death and destruction into the side of the brave flier.
Like a wounded bird she dived suddenly Marsward careening drunkenly.
Thuvia turned the bow upward in an effort to avert the imminent
tragedy, but she succeeded only in lessening the shock of the
flier's impact as she struck the ground beside the Kaolian ship.
When the green men saw only two warriors and a woman upon the deck
of the Thuria, a savage shout of triumph arose from their ranks,
while an answering groan broke from the lips of the Kaolians.
The former now turned their attention upon the new arrival, for
they saw her defenders could soon be overcome and that from her
deck they could command the deck of the better-manned ship.
As they charged a shout of warning came from Kulan Tith, upon the
bridge of his own ship, and with it an appreciation of the valour
of the act that had put the smaller vessel in these sore straits.
"Who is it," he cried, "that offers his life in the service of
Kulan Tith? Never was wrought a nobler deed of self-sacrifice upon
The green horde was scrambling over the Thuria's side as there
broke from the bow the device of Carthoris, Prince of Helium, in
reply to the query of the jeddak of Kaol. None upon the smaller
flier had opportunity to note the effect of this announcement upon
the Kaolians, for their attention was claimed slowly now by that
which was transpiring upon their own deck.
Kar Komak stood behind the gun he had been operating, staring with
wide eyes at the onrushing hideous green warriors. Carthoris,
seeing him thus, felt a pang of regret that, after all, this man
that he had thought so valorous should prove, in the hour of need,
as spineless as Jav or Tario.
"Kar Komak--the man!" he shouted. "Grip yourself! Remember the
days of the glory of the seafarers of Lothar. Fight! Fight, man!
Fight as never man fought before. All that remains to us is to
Kar Komak turned toward the Heliumite, a grim smile upon his lips.
"Why should we fight," he asked. "Against such fearful odds?
There is another way--a better way. Look!" He pointed toward the
companion-way that led below deck.
The green men, a handful of them, had already reached the Thuria's
deck, as Carthoris glanced in the direction the Lotharian had
indicated. The sight that met his eyes set his heart to thumping
in joy and relief--Thuvia of Ptarth might yet be saved? For from
below there poured a stream of giant bowmen, grim and terrible.
Not the bowmen of Tario or Jav, but the bowmen of an odwar of
bowmen--savage fighting men, eager for the fray.
The green warriors paused in momentary surprise and consternation,
but only for a moment. Then with horrid war-cries they leaped
forward to meet these strange, new foemen.
A volley of arrows stopped them in their tracks. In a moment the
only green warriors upon the deck of the Thuria were dead warriors,
and the bowmen of Kar Komak were leaping over the vessel's sides
to charge the hordesmen upon the ground.
Utan after utan tumbled from the bowels of the Thuria to launch
themselves upon the unfortunate green men. Kulan Tith and his
Kaolians stood wide-eyed and speechless with amazement as they
saw thousands of these strange, fierce warriors emerge from the
companion-way of the small craft that could not comfortably have
accommodated more than fifty.
At last the green men could withstand the onslaught of overwhelming
numbers no longer. Slowly, at first, they fell back across the
ochre plain. The bowmen pursued them. Kar Komak, standing upon
the deck of the Thuria, trembled with excitement.
At the top of his lungs he voiced the savage war-cry of his forgotten
day. He roared encouragement and commands at his battling utans,
and then, as they charged further and further from the Thuria, he
could no longer withstand the lure of battle.
Leaping over the ship's side to the ground, he joined the last of
his bowmen as they raced off over the dead sea-bottom in pursuit
of the fleeing green horde.
Beyond a low promontory of what once had been an island the green
men were disappearing toward the west. Close upon their heels
raced the fleet bowmen of a bygone day, and forging steadily ahead
among them Carthoris and Thuvia could see the mighty figure of Kar
Komak, brandishing aloft the Torquasian short-sword with which he
was armed, as he urged his creatures after the retreating enemy.
As the last of them disappeared behind the promontory, Carthoris
turned toward Thuvia of Ptarth.
"They have taught me a lesson, these vanishing bowmen of Lothar,"
he said. "When they have served their purpose they remain not
to embarrass their masters by their presence. Kulan Tith and his
warriors are here to protect you. My acts have constituted the
proof of my honesty of purpose. Good-bye," and he knelt at her
feet, raising a bit of her harness to his lips.
The girl reached out a hand and laid it upon the thick black hair
of the head bent before her. Softly she asked:
"Where are you going, Carthoris?"
"With Kar Komak, the bowman," he replied. "There will be fighting
The girl put her hands before her eyes, as though to shut out some
mighty temptation from her sight.
"May my ancestors have mercy upon me," she cried, "if I say the
thing I have no right to say; but I cannot see you cast your life
away, Carthoris, Prince of Helium! Stay, my chieftain. Stay--I
A cough behind them brought both about, and there they saw standing,
not two paces from them Kulan Tith, Jeddak of Kaol.
For a long moment none spoke. Then Kulan Tith cleared his throat.
"I could not help hearing all that passed," he said. "I am no fool,
to be blind to the love that lies between you. Nor am I blind to
the lofty honour that has caused you, Carthoris, to risk your life
and hers to save mine, though you thought that that very act would
rob you of the chance to keep her for your own.
"Nor can I fail to appreciate the virtue that has kept your lips
sealed against words of love for this Heliumite, Thuvia, for I know
that I have but just heard the first declaration of your passion
for him. I do not condemn you. Rather should I have condemned
you had you entered a loveless marriage with me.
"Take back your liberty, Thuvia of Ptarth," he cried, "and bestow
it where your heart already lies enchained, and when the golden
collars are clasped about your necks you will see that Kulan Tith's
is the first sword to be raised in declaration of eternal friendship
for the new Princess of Helium and her royal mate!"
A GLOSSARY OF NAMES AND TERMS USED IN THE MARTIAN
Aaanthor. A dead city of ancient Mars.
Aisle of Hope. An aisle leading to the court-room in Helium.
Apt. An Arctic monster. A huge, white-furred creature with
six limbs, four of which, short and heavy, carry it over
the snow and ice; the other two, which grow forward
from its shoulders on either side of its long, powerful
neck, terminate in white, hairless hands with which it
seizes and holds its prey. Its head and mouth are
similar in appearance to those of a hippopotamus,
except that from the sides of the lower jawbone two
mighty horns curve slightly downward toward the front.
Its two huge eyes extend in two vast oval patches from
the centre of the top of the cranium down either side
of the head to below the roots of the horns, so that
these weapons really grow out from the lower part of
the eyes, which are composed of several thousand ocelli
each. Each ocellus is furnished with its own lid, and
the apt can, at will, close as many of the facets of
his huge eyes as he chooses. (See THE WARLORD OF MARS.)
Astok. Prince of Dusar.
Avenue of Ancestors. A street in Helium.
Banth. Barsoomian lion. A fierce beast of prey that roams
the low hills surrounding the dead seas of ancient Mars.
It is almost hairless, having only a great, bristly mane
about its thick neck. Its long, lithe body is supported
by ten powerful legs, its enormous jaws are equipped
with several rows of long needle-like fangs, and its
mouth reaches to a point far back of its tiny ears. It
has enormous protruding eyes of green. (See THE GODS
Bar Comas. Jeddak of Warhoon. (See A PRINCESS OF MARS.)
Black pirates of Barsoom. Men six feet and over in height.
Have clear-cut and handsome features; their eyes are
well set and large, though a slight narrowness lends
them a crafty appearance. The iris is extremely black
while the eyeball itself is quite white and clear. Their
skin has the appearance of polished ebony. (See THE
GODS OF MARS.)
Calot. A dog. About the size of a Shetland pony and has
ten short legs. The head bears a slight resemblance to
that of a frog, except that the jaws are equipped with
three rows of long, sharp tusks. (See A PRINCESS OF MARS.)
Carter, John. Warlord of Mars.
Carthoris of Helium. Son of John Carter and Dejah Thoris.
Dak Kova. Jed among the Warhoons (later jeddak).
Darseen. Chameleon-like reptile.
Dator. Chief or prince among the First Born.
Dejah Thoris. Princess of Helium.
Djor Kantos. Son of Kantos Kan; padwar of the Fifth Utan.
Dor. Valley of Heaven.
Dotar Sojat. John Carter's Martian name, from the
surnames of the first two warrior chieftains he killed.
Dusar. A Martian kingdom.