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I am a very old man; how old I do not know. Possibly I am a
hundred, possibly more; but I cannot tell because I have never
aged as other men, nor do I remember any childhood. So far as I
can recollect I have always been a man, a man of about thirty. I
appear today as I did forty years and more ago, and yet I feel
that I cannot go on living forever; that some day I shall die the
real death from which there is no resurrection. I do not know why
I should fear death, I who have died twice and am still alive;
but yet I have the same horror of it as you who have never died,
and it is because of this terror of death, I believe, that I am
so convinced of my mortality.
And because of this conviction I have determined to write down
the story of the interesting periods of my life and of my death.
I cannot explain the phenomena; I can only set down here in the
words of an ordinary soldier of fortune a chronicle of the
strange events that befell me during the ten years that my dead
body lay undiscovered in an Arizona cave.
My name is John Carter; I am better known as Captain Jack
Carter of Virginia. At the close of the Civil War I found myself
possessed of several hundred thousand dollars (Confederate) and a
captain's commission in the cavalry arm of an army which no
longer existed; the servant of a state which had vanished with
the hopes of the South. Masterless, penniless, and with my only
means of livelihood, fighting, gone, I determined to work my way
to the southwest and attempt to retrieve my fallen fortunes in a
search for gold.
As our equipment was crude in the extreme we decided that one
of us must return to civilization, purchase the necessary
machinery and return with a sufficient force of men properly to
work the mine.
On March 3, 1866, Powell and I packed his provisions on two of
our burros, and bidding me good-bye he mounted his horse, and
started down the mountainside toward the valley, across which led
the first stage of his journey.
Some half hour later I happened to glance casually across the
valley and was much surprised to note three little dots in about
the same place I had last seen my friend and his two pack
animals. I am not given to needless worrying, but the more I
tried to convince myself that all was well with Powell, and that
the dots I had seen on his trail were antelope or wild horses,
the less I was able to assure myself.
Powell, I knew, was well armed and, further, an experienced
Indian fighter; but I too had lived and fought for years among
the Sioux in the North, and I knew that his chances were small
against a party of cunning trailing Apaches. Finally I could
endure the suspense no longer, and, arming myself with my two
Colt revolvers and a carbine, I strapped two belts of cartridges
about me and catching my saddle horse, started down the trail
taken by Powell in the morning.
I followed rapidly until, darkness shutting down, I was forced
to await the rising of the moon, and given an opportunity to
speculate on the question of the wisdom of my chase. Possibly I
had conjured up impossible dangers, like some nervous old
housewife, and when I should catch up with Powell would get a
good laugh for my pains. However, I am not prone to
sensitiveness, and the following of a sense of duty, wherever it
may lead, has always been a kind of fetich with me throughout my
life; which may account for the honors bestowed upon me by three
republics and the decorations and friendships of an old and
powerful emperor and several lesser kings, in whose service my
sword has been red many a time.
I was interested to note that the tracks of the pursuing
horsemen, for such I was now convinced they must be, continued
after Powell with only a brief stop at the hole for water; and
always at the same rate of speed as his.
Further speculation was suddenly cut short by the faint report
of two shots far ahead of me. I knew that Powell would need me
now if ever, and I instantly urged my horse to his topmost speed
up the narrow and difficult mountain trail.
The little stretch of level land was white with Indian tepees,
and there were probably half a thousand red warriors clustered
around some object near the center of the camp. Their attention
was so wholly riveted to this point of interest that they did not
notice me, and I easily could have turned back into the dark
recesses of the gorge and made my escape with perfect safety. The
fact, however, that this thought did not occur to me until the
following day removes any possible right to a claim to heroism to
which the narration of this episode might possibly otherwise
In this instance I was, of course, positive that Powell was
the center of attraction, but whether I thought or acted first I
do not know, but within an instant from the moment the scene
broke upon my view I had whipped out my revolvers and was
charging down upon the entire army of warriors, shooting rapidly,
and whooping at the top of my lungs. Singlehanded, I could not
have pursued better tactics, for the red men, convinced by sudden
surprise that not less than a regiment of regulars was upon them,
turned and fled in every direction for their bows, arrows, and
Riding close to him I reached down from the saddle, and
grasping his cartridge belt drew him up across the withers of my
mount. A backward glance convinced me that to return by the way I
had come would be more hazardous than to continue across the
plateau, so, putting spurs to my poor beast, I made a dash for
the opening to the pass which I could distinguish on the far side
of the table land.
My horse was traveling practically unguided as I knew that I
had probably less knowledge of the exact location of the trail to
the pass than he, and thus it happened that he entered a defile
which led to the summit of the range and not to the pass which I
had hoped would carry me to the valley and to safety. It is
probable, however, that to this fact I owe my life and the
remarkable experiences and adventures which befell me during the
following ten years.
I knew then that they had passed to the left of the jagged
rock formation at the edge of the plateau, to the right of which
my horse had borne me and the body of Powell.
I knew the Indians would soon discover that they were on the
wrong trail and that the search for me would be renewed in the
right direction as soon as they located my tracks.
I had followed this trail for perhaps a hundred yards when a
sharp turn to the right brought me to the mouth of a large cave.
The opening was about four feet in height and three to four feet
wide, and at this opening the trail ended.
Dismounting, I laid Powell upon the ground, but the most
painstaking examination failed to reveal the faintest spark of
life. I forced water from my canteen between his dead lips,
bathed his face and rubbed his hands, working over him
continuously for the better part of an hour in the face of the
fact that I knew him to be dead.
Leaving Powell's body where it lay on the ledge I crept into
the cave to reconnoiter. I found a large chamber, possibly a
hundred feet in diameter and thirty or forty feet in height; a
smooth and well-worn floor, and many other evidences that the
cave had, at some remote period, been inhabited. The back of the
cave was so lost in dense shadow that I could not distinguish
whether there were openings into other apartments or not.
I soon became so drowsy that I could scarcely resist the
strong desire to throw myself on the floor of the cave for a few
moments' rest, but I knew that this would never do, as it would
mean certain death at the hands of my red friends, who might be
upon me at any moment. With an effort I started toward the
opening of the cave only to reel drunkenly against a side wall,
and from there slip prone upon the floor.
A sense of delicious dreaminess overcame me, my muscles relaxed,
and I was on the point of giving way to my desire to sleep when
the sound of approaching horses reached my ears. I attempted to
spring to my feet but was horrified to discover that my muscles
refused to respond to my will. I was now thoroughly awake, but as
unable to move a muscle as though turned to stone. It was then,
for the first time, that I noticed a slight vapor filling the
cave. It was extremely tenuous and only noticeable against the
opening which led to daylight. There also came to my nostrils a
faintly pungent odor, and I could only assume that I had been
overcome by some poisonous gas, but why I should retain my mental
faculties and yet be unable to move I could not fathom.
I lay facing the opening of the cave and where I could see the
short stretch of trail which lay between the cave and the turn of
the cliff around which the trail led. The noise of the
approaching horses had ceased, and I judged the Indians were
creeping stealthily upon me along the little ledge which led to
my living tomb. I remember that I hoped they would make short
work of me as I did not particularly relish the thought of the
innumerable things they might do to me if the spirit prompted
The fellow, instead of approaching, merely stood and stared;
his eyes bulging and his jaw dropped. And then another savage
face appeared, and a third and fourth and fifth, craning their
necks over the shoulders of their fellows whom they could not
pass upon the narrow ledge. Each face was the picture of awe and
fear, but for what reason I did not know, nor did I learn until
ten years later. That there were still other braves behind those
who regarded me was apparent from the fact that the leaders
passed back whispered word to those behind them.
The sound which had frightened them was not repeated, but it
had been sufficient as it was to start me speculating on the
possible horror which lurked in the shadows at my back. Fear is a
relative term and so I can only measure my feelings at that time
by what I had experienced in previous positions of danger and by
those that I have passed through since; but I can say without
shame that if the sensations I endured during the next few
minutes were fear, then may God help the coward, for cowardice is
of a surety its own punishment.
Several times I thought I heard faint sounds behind me as of
somebody moving cautiously, but eventually even these ceased, and
I was left to the contemplation of my position without
interruption. I could but vaguely conjecture the cause of my
paralysis, and my only hope lay in that it might pass off as
suddenly as it had fallen upon me.
From then until possibly midnight all was silence, the silence
of the dead; then, suddenly, the awful moan of the morning broke
upon my startled ears, and there came again from the black
shadows the sound of a moving thing, and a faint rustling as of
dead leaves. The shock to my already overstrained nervous system
was terrible in the extreme, and with a superhuman effort I
strove to break my awful bonds. It was an effort of the mind, of
the will, of the nerves; not muscular, for I could not move even
so much as my little finger, but none the less mighty for all
that. And then something gave, there was a momentary feeling of
nausea, a sharp click as of the snapping of a steel wire, and I
stood with my back against the wall of the cave facing my unknown
The transition had been so sudden and so unexpected that it
left me for a moment forgetful of aught else than my strange
metamorphosis. My first thought was, is this then death! Have I
indeed passed over forever into that other life! But I could not
well believe this, as I could feel my heart pounding against my
ribs from the exertion of my efforts to release myself from the
anaesthesis which had held me. My breath was coming in quick,
short gasps, cold sweat stood out from every pore of my body, and
the ancient experiment of pinching revealed the fact that I was
anything other than a wraith.
My revolvers were strapped to my lifeless body which, for some
unfathomable reason, I could not bring myself to touch. My
carbine was in its boot, strapped to my saddle, and as my horse
had wandered off I was left without means of defense. My only
alternative seemed to lie in flight and my decision was
crystallized by a recurrence of the rustling sound from the thing
which now seemed, in the darkness of the cave and to my distorted
imagination, to be creeping stealthily upon me.
I decided to investigate, but first I lifted my head to fill
my lungs with the pure, invigorating night air of the mountains.
As I did so I saw stretching far below me the beautiful vista of
rocky gorge, and level, cacti-studded flat, wrought by the
moonlight into a miracle of soft splendor and wondrous
As I stood thus meditating, I turned my gaze from the
landscape to the heavens where the myriad stars formed a gorgeous
and fitting canopy for the wonders of the earthly scene. My
attention was quickly riveted by a large red star close to the
distant horizon. As I gazed upon it I felt a spell of
overpowering fascination--it was Mars, the god of war, and for
me, the fighting man, it had always held the power of
irresistible enchantment. As I gazed at it on that far-gone night
it seemed to call across the unthinkable void, to lure me to it,
to draw me as the lodestone attracts a particle of iron.
I opened my eyes upon a strange and weird landscape. I knew
that I was on Mars; not once did I question either my sanity or
my wakefulness. I was not asleep, no need for pinching here; my
inner consciousness told me as plainly that I was upon Mars as
your conscious mind tells you that you are upon Earth. You do not
question the fact; neither did I.
It was midday, the sun was shining full upon me and the heat
of it was rather intense upon my naked body, yet no greater than
would have been true under similar conditions on an Arizona
desert. Here and there were slight outcroppings of quartz-bearing
rock which glistened in the sunlight; and a little to my left,
perhaps a hundred yards, appeared a low, walled enclosure about
four feet in height. No water, and no other vegetation than the
moss was in evidence, and as I was somewhat thirsty I determined
to do a little exploring.
Instead of progressing in a sane and dignified manner, my
attempts to walk resulted in a variety of hops which took me
clear of the ground a couple of feet at each step and landed me
sprawling upon my face or back at the end of each second or third
hop. My muscles, perfectly attuned and accustomed to the force of
gravity on Earth, played the mischief with me in attempting for
the first time to cope with the lesser gravitation and lower air
pressure on Mars.
There appeared to be no doors or windows upon the side nearest
me, but as the wall was but about four feet high I cautiously
gained my feet and peered over the top upon the strangest sight
it had ever been given me to see.
Five or six had already hatched and the grotesque caricatures
which sat blinking in the sunlight were enough to cause me to
doubt my sanity. They seemed mostly head, with little scrawny
bodies, long necks and six legs, or, as I afterward learned, two
legs and two arms, with an intermediary pair of limbs which could
be used at will either as arms or legs. Their eyes were set at
the extreme sides of their heads a trifle above the center and
protruded in such a manner that they could be directed either
forward or back and also independently of each other, thus
permitting this queer animal to look in any direction, or in two
directions at once, without the necessity of turning the
There was no hair on their bodies, which were of a very light
yellowish-green color. In the adults, as I was to learn quite
soon, this color deepens to an olive green and is darker in the
male than in the female. Further, the heads of the adults are not
so out of proportion to their bodies as in the case of the
Most of these details I noted later, for I was given but
little time to speculate on the wonders of my new discovery. I
had seen that the eggs were in the process of hatching, and as I
stood watching the hideous little monsters break from their
shells I failed to note the approach of a score of full-grown
Martians from behind me.
On such a little thing my life hung that I often marvel that I
escaped so easily. Had not the rifle of the leader of the party
swung from its fastenings beside his saddle in such a way as to
strike against the butt of his great metal shod spear I should
have snuffed out without ever knowing that death was near me. But
the little sound caused me to turn, and there upon me, not ten
feet from my breast, was the point of that huge spear, a spear
forty feet long, tipped with gleaming metal, and held low at the
side of a mounted replica of the little devils I had been
And his mount! How can earthly words describe it! It towered
ten feet at the shoulder; had four legs on either side; a broad
flat tail, larger at the tip than at the root, and which it held
straight out behind while running; a gaping mouth which split its
head from its snout to its long, massive neck.
Behind this first charging demon trailed nineteen others,
similar in all respects, but, as I learned later, bearing
individual characteristics peculiar to themselves; precisely as
no two of us are identical although we are all cast in a similar
mold. This picture, or rather materialized nightmare, which I
have described at length, made but one terrible and swift
impression on me as I turned to meet it.
My effort was crowned with a success which appalled me no less
than it seemed to surprise the Martian warriors, for it carried
me fully thirty feet into the air and landed me a hundred feet
from my pursuers and on the opposite side of the enclosure.
They were conversing together in low tones, and gesticulating
and pointing toward me. Their discovery that I had not harmed the
little Martians, and that I was unarmed, must have caused them to
look upon me with less ferocity; but, as I was to learn later,
the thing which weighed most in my favor was my exhibition of
My feat then was as marvelous upon Mars as it would have been
upon Earth, and from desiring to annihilate me they suddenly
looked upon me as a wonderful discovery to be captured and
exhibited among their fellows.
I noted that each was armed with several other weapons in
addition to the huge spear which I have described. The weapon
which caused me to decide against an attempt at escape by flight
was what was evidently a rifle of some description, and which I
felt, for some reason, they were peculiarly efficient in
This is quite far enough to imbue me with great respect for
the Martian firearm, and some telepathic force must have warned
me against an attempt to escape in broad daylight from under the
muzzles of twenty of these death-dealing machines.
He was the one whose spear had so nearly transfixed me, and
was evidently the leader of the band, as I had noted that they
seemed to have moved to their present position at his direction.
When his force had come to a halt he dismounted, threw down his
spear and small arms, and came around the end of the incubator
toward me, entirely unarmed and as naked as I, except for the
ornaments strapped upon his head, limbs, and breast.
As the silence became painful I concluded to hazard a little
conversation on my own part, as I had guessed that he was making
overtures of peace. The throwing down of his weapons and the
withdrawing of his troop before his advance toward me would have
signified a peaceful mission anywhere on Earth, so why not, then,
Stretching my hand toward him, I advanced and took the armlet
from his open palm, clasping it about my arm above the elbow;
smiled at him and stood waiting. His wide mouth spread into an
answering smile, and locking one of his intermediary arms in mine
we turned and walked back toward his mount. At the same time he
motioned his followers to advance. They started toward us on a
wild run, but were checked by a signal from him. Evidently he
feared that were I to be really frightened again I might jump
entirely out of the landscape.
The entire cavalcade then turned and galloped away toward the
range of hills in the distance.
We had gone perhaps ten miles when the ground began to rise very
rapidly. We were, as I was later to learn, nearing the edge of
one of Mars' long-dead seas, in the bottom of which my encounter
with the Martians had taken place.
In a short time we gained the foot of the mountains, and after
traversing a narrow gorge came to an open valley, at the far
extremity of which was a low table land upon which I beheld an
enormous city. Toward this we galloped, entering it by what
appeared to be a ruined roadway leading out from the city, but
only to the edge of the table land, where it ended abruptly in a
flight of broad steps.
With the exception of their ornaments all were naked. The
women varied in appearance but little from the men, except that
their tusks were much larger in proportion to their height, in
some instances curving nearly to their high-set ears. Their
bodies were smaller and lighter in color, and their fingers and
toes bore the rudiments of nails, which were entirely lacking
among the males. The adult females ranged in height from ten to
I saw no signs of extreme age among them, nor is there any
appreciable difference in their appearance from the age of
maturity, about forty, until, at about the age of one thousand
years, they go voluntarily upon their last strange pilgrimage
down the river Iss, which leads no living Martian knows whither
and from whose bosom no Martian has ever returned, or would be
allowed to live did he return after once embarking upon its cold,
The average life expectancy of a Martian after the age of
maturity is about three hundred years, but would be nearer the
one-thousand mark were it not for the various means leading to
violent death. Owing to the waning resources of the planet it
evidently became necessary to counteract the increasing longevity
which their remarkable skill in therapeutics and surgery
produced, and so human life has come to be considered but lightly
on Mars, as is evidenced by their dangerous sports and the almost
continual warfare between the various communities.
As we neared the plaza and my presence was discovered we were
immediately surrounded by hundreds of the creatures who seemed
anxious to pluck me from my seat behind my guard. A word from the
leader of the party stilled their clamor, and we proceeded at a
trot across the plaza to the entrance of as magnificent an
edifice as mortal eye has rested upon.
On the floor of this chamber, which was dotted with highly
carved wooden desks and chairs, were assembled about forty or
fifty male Martians around the steps of a rostrum. On the
platform proper squatted an enormous warrior heavily loaded with
metal ornaments, gay-colored feathers and beautifully wrought
leather trappings ingeniously set with precious stones. From his
shoulders depended a short cape of white fur lined with brilliant
Our party had halted at the entrance to the building, and at a
sign from the leader I had been lowered to the ground. Again
locking his arm in mine, we had proceeded into the audience
chamber. There were few formalities observed in approaching the
Martian chieftain. My captor merely strode up to the rostrum, the
others making way for him as he advanced. The chieftain rose to
his feet and uttered the name of my escort who, in turn, halted
and repeated the name of the ruler followed by his title.
My captor, whose name was Tars Tarkas, was virtually the
vice-chieftain of the community, and a man of great ability as a
statesman and warrior. He evidently explained briefly the
incidents connected with his expedition, including my capture,
and when he had concluded the chieftain addressed me at some
The ideas of humor among the green men of Mars are widely at
variance with our conceptions of incitants to merriment. The
death agonies of a fellow being are, to these strange creatures
provocative of the wildest hilarity, while their chief form of
commonest amusement is to inflict death on their prisoners of war
in various ingenious and horrible ways.
Now, I had made no attempt to walk, since my first signal
failure, except while tightly grasping Tars Tarkas' arm, and so
now I went skipping and flitting about among the desks and chairs
like some monstrous grasshopper. After bruising myself severely,
much to the amusement of the Martians, I again had recourse to
creeping, but this did not suit them and I was roughly jerked to
my feet by a towering fellow who had laughed most heartily at my
My fears were groundless, however, as the other Martians, at
first struck dumb with wonderment, finally broke into wild peals
of laughter and applause. I did not recognize the applause as
such, but later, when I had become acquainted with their customs,
I learned that I had won what they seldom accord, a manifestation
My exhibition had been witnessed by several hundred lesser
Martians, and they immediately broke into demands for a
repetition, which the chieftain then ordered me to make; but I
was both hungry and thirsty, and determined on the spot that my
only method of salvation was to demand the consideration from
these creatures which they evidently would not voluntarily
accord. I therefore ignored the repeated commands to "sak," and
each time they were made I motioned to my mouth and rubbed my
My fair companion was about eight feet tall, having just
arrived at maturity, but not yet to her full height. She was of a
light olive-green color, with a smooth, glossy hide. Her name, as
I afterward learned, was Sola, and she belonged to the retinue of
Tars Tarkas. She conducted me to a spacious chamber in one of the
buildings fronting on the plaza, and which, from the litter of
silks and furs upon the floor, I took to be the sleeping quarters
of several of the natives.
Sola motioned me to be seated upon a pile of silks near the
center of the room, and, turning, made a peculiar hissing sound,
as though signaling to someone in an adjoining room. In response
to her call I obtained my first sight of a new Martian wonder. It
waddled in on its ten short legs, and squatted down before the
girl like an obedient puppy. The thing was about the size of a
Shetland pony, but its head bore a slight resemblance to that of
a frog, except that the jaws were equipped with three rows of
long, sharp tusks.
Sola stared into the brute's wicked-looking eyes, muttered a word
or two of command, pointed to me, and left the chamber. I could
not but wonder what this ferocious-looking monstrosity might do
when left alone in such close proximity to such a relatively
tender morsel of meat; but my fears were groundless, as the
beast, after surveying me intently for a moment, crossed the room
to the only exit which led to the street, and lay down full
length across the threshold.
This was my first experience with a Martian watch dog, but it
was destined not to be my last, for this fellow guarded me
carefully during the time I remained a captive among these green
men; twice saving my life, and never voluntarily being away from
me a moment.
While I was allowing my fancy to run riot in wild conjecture
on the possible explanation of the strange anomalies which I had
so far met with on Mars, Sola returned bearing both food and
drink. These she placed on the floor beside me, and seating
herself a short ways off regarded me intently. The food consisted
of about a pound of some solid substance of the consistency of
cheese and almost tasteless, while the liquid was apparently milk
from some animal. It was not unpleasant to the taste, though
slightly acid, and I learned in a short time to prize it very
highly. It came, as I later discovered, not from an animal, as
there is only one mammal on Mars and that one very rare indeed,
but from a large plant which grows practically without water, but
seems to distill its plentiful supply of milk from the products
of the soil, the moisture of the air, and the rays of the sun. A
single plant of this species will give eight or ten quarts of
milk per day.
I presumed that my watchful guardian was Sola, nor was I
wrong. This girl alone, among all the green Martians with whom I
came in contact, disclosed characteristics of sympathy,
kindliness, and affection; her ministrations to my bodily wants
were unfailing, and her solicitous care saved me from much
suffering and many hardships.
Both of Mars' moons are vastly nearer her than is our moon to
Earth; the nearer moon being but about five thousand miles
distant, while the further is but little more than fourteen
thousand miles away, against the nearly one-quarter million miles
which separate us from our moon. The nearer moon of Mars makes a
complete revolution around the planet in a little over seven and
one-half hours, so that she may be seen hurtling through the sky
like some huge meteor two or three times each night, revealing
all her phases during each transit of the heavens.
This last device produces an intensely brilliant far-reaching
white light, but as the natural oil which it requires can only be
obtained by mining in one of several widely separated and remote
localities it is seldom used by these creatures whose only
thought is for today, and whose hatred for manual labor has kept
them in a semi-barbaric state for countless ages.
Slowly and carefully, therefore, I gained my feet, only to see
that my watcher did the same; cautiously I advanced toward him,
finding that by moving with a shuffling gait I could retain my
balance as well as make reasonably rapid progress. As I neared
the brute he backed cautiously away from me, and when I had
reached the open he moved to one side to let me pass. He then
fell in behind me and followed about ten paces in my rear as I
made my way along the deserted street.
I quickly saw that I would have difficulty in escaping the
fangs of the beast on a straightaway course, and so I met his
charge by doubling in my tracks and leaping over him as he was
almost upon me. This maneuver gave me a considerable advantage,
and I was able to reach the city quite a bit ahead of him, and as
he came tearing after me I jumped for a window about thirty feet
from the ground in the face of one of the buildings overlooking
The thing, which more nearly resembled our earthly men than it
did the Martians I had seen, held me pinioned to the ground with
one huge foot, while it jabbered and gesticulated at some
answering creature behind me. This other, which was evidently its
mate, soon came toward us, bearing a mighty stone cudgel with
which it evidently intended to brain me.
The cudgel was swinging in the arc which ended upon my
upturned face when a bolt of myriad-legged horror hurled itself
through the doorway full upon the breast of my executioner. With
a shriek of fear the ape which held me leaped through the open
window, but its mate closed in a terrific death struggle with my
preserver, which was nothing less than my faithful watch-thing; I
cannot bring myself to call so hideous a creature a dog.
In accomplishing this the ape was tearing away the entire
front of its breast, which was held in the vise-like grip of the
powerful jaws. Back and forth upon the floor they rolled, neither
one emitting a sound of fear or pain. Presently I saw the great
eyes of my beast bulging completely from their sockets and blood
flowing from its nostrils. That he was weakening perceptibly was
evident, but so also was the ape, whose struggles were growing
Scarcely had the blow descended when I was confronted with a
new danger. The ape's mate, recovered from its first shock of
terror, had returned to the scene of the encounter by way of the
interior of the building. I glimpsed him just before he reached
the doorway and the sight of him, now roaring as he perceived his
lifeless fellow stretched upon the floor, and frothing at the
mouth, in the extremity of his rage, filled me, I must confess,
with dire forebodings.
I was standing near the window and I knew that once in the
street I might gain the plaza and safety before the creature
could overtake me; at least there was a chance for safety in
flight, against almost certain death should I remain and fight
In the instant that these thoughts passed through my mind I
had turned to make for the window, but my eyes alighting on the
form of my erstwhile guardian threw all thoughts of flight to the
four winds. He lay gasping upon the floor of the chamber, his
great eyes fastened upon me in what seemed a pitiful appeal for
protection. I could not withstand that look, nor could I, on
second thought, have deserted my rescuer without giving as good
an account of myself in his behalf as he had in mine.
Again, as on the preceding day, I had recourse to earthly
tactics, and swinging my right fist full upon the point of his
chin I followed it with a smashing left to the pit of his
stomach. The effect was marvelous, for, as I lightly sidestepped,
after delivering the second blow, he reeled and fell upon the
floor doubled up with pain and gasping for wind. Leaping over his
prostrate body, I seized the cudgel and finished the monster
before he could regain his feet.
My absence had been noted by Sola on her awakening, and she
had quickly informed Tars Tarkas, who had set out immediately
with a handful of warriors to search for me. As they had
approached the limits of the city they had witnessed the actions
of the bull ape as he bolted into the building, frothing with
Sola, who had accompanied the searching party of her own
volition, was the only one of the Martians whose face had not
been twisted in laughter as I battled for my life. She, on the
contrary, was sober with apparent solicitude and, as soon as I
had finished the monster, rushed to me and carefully examined my
body for possible wounds or injuries. Satisfying herself that I
had come off unscathed she smiled quietly, and, taking my hand,
started toward the door of the chamber.
There seemed something menacing in their attitude toward my
beast, and I hesitated to leave until I had learned the outcome.
It was well I did so, for the warrior drew an evil looking pistol
from its holster and was on the point of putting an end to the
creature when I sprang forward and struck up his arm. The bullet
striking the wooden casing of the window exploded, blowing a hole
completely through the wood and masonry.
I had at least two friends on Mars; a young woman who watched
over me with motherly solicitude, and a dumb brute which, as I
later came to know, held in its poor ugly carcass more love, more
loyalty, more gratitude than could have been found in the entire
five million green Martians who rove the deserted cities and dead
sea bottoms of Mars.
After a breakfast, which was an exact replica of the meal of the
preceding day and an index of practically every meal which
followed while I was with the green men of Mars, Sola escorted me
to the plaza, where I found the entire community engaged in
watching or helping at the harnessing of huge mastodonian animals
to great three-wheeled chariots. There were about two hundred and
fifty of these vehicles, each drawn by a single animal, any one
of which, from their appearance, might easily have drawn the
entire wagon train when fully loaded.
The chariots themselves were large, commodious, and gorgeously
decorated. In each was seated a female Martian loaded with
ornaments of metal, with jewels and silks and furs, and upon the
back of each of the beasts which drew the chariots was perched a
young Martian driver. Like the animals upon which the warriors
were mounted, the heavier draft animals wore neither bit nor
bridle, but were guided entirely by telepathic means.
As the cavalcade took up the line of march in single file,
Sola dragged me into an empty chariot and we proceeded with the
procession toward the point by which I had entered the city the
day before. At the head of the caravan rode some two hundred
warriors, five abreast, and a like number brought up the rear,
while twenty-five or thirty outriders flanked us on either
On reaching it the chariots were parked with military
precision on the four sides of the enclosure, and half a score of
warriors, headed by the enormous chieftain, and including Tars
Tarkas and several other lesser chiefs, dismounted and advanced
toward it. I could see Tars Tarkas explaining something to the
principal chieftain, whose name, by the way, was, as nearly as I
can translate it into English, Lorquas Ptomel, Jed; jed being his
As I reached their side a glance showed me that all but a very
few eggs had hatched, the incubator being fairly alive with the
hideous little devils. They ranged in height from three to four
feet, and were moving restlessly about the enclosure as though
searching for food.
On either side of this opening the women and the younger
Martians, both male and female, formed two solid walls leading
out through the chariots and quite away into the plain beyond.
Between these walls the little Martians scampered, wild as deer;
being permitted to run the full length of the aisle, where they
were captured one at a time by the women and older children; the
last in the line capturing the first little one to reach the end
of the gauntlet, her opposite in the line capturing the second,
and so on until all the little fellows had left the enclosure and
been appropriated by some youth or female. As the women caught
the young they fell out of line and returned to their respective
chariots, while those who fell into the hands of the young men
were later turned over to some of the women.
The work of rearing young, green Martians consists solely in
teaching them to talk, and to use the weapons of warfare with
which they are loaded down from the very first year of their
lives. Coming from eggs in which they have lain for five years,
the period of incubation, they step forth into the world
perfectly developed except in size. Entirely unknown to their
mothers, who, in turn, would have difficulty in pointing out the
fathers with any degree of accuracy, they are the common children
of the community, and their education devolves upon the females
who chance to capture them as they leave the incubator.
I do not mean that the adult Martians are unnecessarily or
intentionally cruel to the young, but theirs is a hard and
pitiless struggle for existence upon a dying planet, the natural
resources of which have dwindled to a point where the support of
each additional life means an added tax upon the community into
which it is thrown.
Each adult Martian female brings forth about thirteen eggs
each year, and those which meet the size, weight, and specific
gravity tests are hidden in the recesses of some subterranean
vault where the temperature is too low for incubation. Every year
these eggs are carefully examined by a council of twenty
chieftains, and all but about one hundred of the most perfect are
destroyed out of each yearly supply. At the end of five years
about five hundred almost perfect eggs have been chosen from the
thousands brought forth. These are then placed in the almost
air-tight incubators to be hatched by the sun's rays after a
period of another five years. The hatching which we had witnessed
today was a fairly representative event of its kind, all but
about one per cent of the eggs hatching in two days. If the
remaining eggs ever hatched we knew nothing of the fate of the
little Martians. They were not wanted, as their offspring might
inherit and transmit the tendency to prolonged incubation, and
thus upset the system which has maintained for ages and which
permits the adult Martians to figure the proper time for return
to the incubators, almost to an hour.
The community of which the green Martians with whom my lot was
cast formed a part was composed of some thirty thousand souls.
They roamed an enormous tract of arid and semi-arid land between
forty and eighty degrees south latitude, and bounded on the east
and west by two large fertile tracts. Their headquarters lay in
the southwest corner of this district, near the crossing of two
of the so-called Martian canals.
After our return to the dead city I passed several days in
comparative idleness. On the day following our return all the
warriors had ridden forth early in the morning and had not
returned until just before darkness fell. As I later learned,
they had been to the subterranean vaults in which the eggs were
kept and had transported them to the incubator, which they had
then walled up for another five years, and which, in all
probability, would not be visited again during that period.
Sola's duties were now doubled, as she was compelled to care
for the young Martian as well as for me, but neither one of us
required much attention, and as we were both about equally
advanced in Martian education, Sola took it upon herself to train
What surprised Sola most in me was that while I could catch
telepathic messages easily from others, and often when they were
not intended for me, no one could read a jot from my mind under
any circumstances. At first this vexed me, but later I was very
glad of it, as it gave me an undoubted advantage over the
The third day after the incubator ceremony we set forth toward
home, but scarcely had the head of the procession debouched into
the open ground before the city than orders were given for an
immediate and hasty return. As though trained for years in this
particular evolution, the green Martians melted like mist into
the spacious doorways of the nearby buildings, until, in less
than three minutes, the entire cavalcade of chariots, mastodons
and mounted warriors was nowhere to be seen.
Sola and I had entered a building upon the front of the city,
in fact, the same one in which I had had my encounter with the
apes, and, wishing to see what had caused the sudden retreat, I
mounted to an upper floor and peered from the window out over the
valley and the hills beyond; and there I saw the cause of their
sudden scurrying to cover. A huge craft, long, low, and
gray-painted, swung slowly over the crest of the nearest hill.
Following it came another, and another, and another, until twenty
of them, swinging low above the ground, sailed slowly and
majestically toward us.
Instantly the scene changed as by magic; the foremost vessel
swung broadside toward us, and bringing her guns into play
returned our fire, at the same time moving parallel to our front
for a short distance and then turning back with the evident
intention of completing a great circle which would bring her up
to position once more opposite our firing line; the other vessels
followed in her wake, each one opening upon us as she swung into
position. Our own fire never diminished, and I doubt if
twenty-five per cent of our shots went wild. It had never been
given me to see such deadly accuracy of aim, and it seemed as
though a little figure on one of the craft dropped at the
explosion of each bullet, while the banners and upper works
dissolved in spurts of flame as the irresistible projectiles of
our warriors mowed through them.
It seems that each green warrior has certain objective points
for his fire under relatively identical circumstances of warfare.
For example, a proportion of them, always the best marksmen,
direct their fire entirely upon the wireless finding and sighting
apparatus of the big guns of an attacking naval force; another
detail attends to the smaller guns in the same way; others pick
off the gunners; still others the officers; while certain other
quotas concentrate their attention upon the other members of the
crew, upon the upper works, and upon the steering gear and
One by one, however, the ships managed to dip below the crests
of the outlying hills until only one barely moving craft was in
sight. This had received the brunt of our fire and seemed to be
entirely unmanned, as not a moving figure was visible upon her
decks. Slowly she swung from her course, circling back toward us
in an erratic and pitiful manner. Instantly the warriors ceased
firing, for it was quite apparent that the vessel was entirely
helpless, and, far from being in a position to inflict harm upon
us, she could not even control herself sufficiently to
She was drifting some fifty feet above the ground, followed by
all but some hundred of the warriors who had been ordered back to
the roofs to cover the possibility of a return of the fleet, or
of reinforcements. It soon became evident that she would strike
the face of the buildings about a mile south of our position, and
as I watched the progress of the chase I saw a number of warriors
gallop ahead, dismount and enter the building she seemed destined
After making her fast, they swarmed the sides and searched the
vessel from stem to stern. I could see them examining the dead
sailors, evidently for signs of life, and presently a party of
them appeared from below dragging a little figure among them. The
creature was considerably less than half as tall as the green
Martian warriors, and from my balcony I could see that it walked
erect upon two legs and surmised that it was some new and strange
Martian monstrosity with which I had not as yet become
After the last load had been removed the warriors made lines
fast to the craft and towed her far out into the valley in a
southwesterly direction. A few of them then boarded her and were
busily engaged in what appeared, from my distant position, as the
emptying of the contents of various carboys upon the dead bodies
of the sailors and over the decks and works of the vessel.
Slowly she drifted to the southeast, rising higher and higher
as the flames ate away her wooden parts and diminished the weight
upon her. Ascending to the roof of the building I watched her for
hours, until finally she was lost in the dim vistas of the
distance. The sight was awe-inspiring in the extreme as one
contemplated this mighty floating funeral pyre, drifting unguided
and unmanned through the lonely wastes of the Martian heavens; a
derelict of death and destruction, typifying the life story of
these strange and ferocious creatures into whose unfriendly hands
fate had carried it.
Close at my heel, in his now accustomed place, followed Woola,
the hound, and as I emerged upon the street Sola rushed up to me
as though I had been the object of some search on her part. The
cavalcade was returning to the plaza, the homeward march having
been given up for that day; nor, in fact, was it recommenced for
more than a week, owing to the fear of a return attack by the air
As Sola and I entered the plaza a sight met my eyes which
filled my whole being with a great surge of mingled hope, fear,
exultation, and depression, and yet most dominant was a subtle
sense of relief and happiness; for just as we neared the throng
of Martians I caught a glimpse of the prisoner from the battle
craft who was being roughly dragged into a nearby building by a
couple of green Martian females.
She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who
accompanied her; indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments
she was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced the
beauty of her perfect and symmetrical figure.
As I came back to myself I glanced at Sola, who had witnessed
this encounter and I was surprised to note a strange expression
upon her usually expressionless countenance. What her thoughts
were I did not know, for as yet I had learned but little of the
Martian tongue; enough only to suffice for my daily needs.
Later, Sola, with the aid of several of the other women,
remodeled the trappings to fit my lesser proportions, and after
they completed the work I went about garbed in all the panoply of
The training of myself and the young Martians was conducted
solely by the women, who not only attend to the education of the
young in the arts of individual defense and offense, but are also
the artisans who produce every manufactured article wrought by
the green Martians. They make the powder, the cartridges, the
firearms; in fact everything of value is produced by the females.
In time of actual warfare they form a part of the reserves, and
when the necessity arises fight with even greater intelligence
and ferocity than the men.
I did not see the prisoner again for several days subsequent
to our first encounter, and then only to catch a fleeting glimpse
of her as she was being conducted to the great audience chamber
where I had had my first meeting with Lorquas Ptomel. I could not
but note the unnecessary harshness and brutality with which her
guards treated her; so different from the almost maternal
kindliness which Sola manifested toward me, and the respectful
attitude of the few green Martians who took the trouble to notice
me at all.
At this time our sleeping quarters were occupied by three or
four females and a couple of the recently hatched young, beside
Sola and her youthful ward, myself, and Woola the hound. After
they had retired for the night it was customary for the adults to
carry on a desultory conversation for a short time before lapsing
into sleep, and now that I could understand their language I was
always a keen listener, although I never proffered any remarks
Sarkoja, one of the older women who shared our domicile, had
been present at the audience as one of the captive's guards, and
it was toward her the question turned.
"They have decided to carry her with us back to Thark, and
exhibit her last agonies at the great games before Tal Hajus,"
Sarkoja and the other women grunted angrily at this evidence
of weakness on the part of Sola.
"I see nothing wrong with my expression of interest in this
red woman," retorted Sola. "She has never harmed us, nor would
she should we have fallen into her hands. It is only the men of
her kind who war upon us, and I have ever thought that their
attitude toward us is but the reflection of ours toward them.
They live at peace with all their fellows, except when duty calls
upon them to make war, while we are at peace with none; forever
warring among our own kind as well as upon the red men, and even
in our own communities the individuals fight amongst themselves.
Oh, it is one continual, awful period of bloodshed from the time
we break the shell until we gladly embrace the bosom of the river
of mystery, the dark and ancient Iss which carries us to an
unknown, but at least no more frightful and terrible existence!
Fortunate indeed is he who meets his end in an early death. Say
what you please to Tars Tarkas, he can mete out no worse fate to
me than a continuation of the horrible existence we are forced to
lead in this life."
I did not even know that there were any better conditions to
escape to, but I was more than willing to take my chances among
people fashioned after my own mold rather than to remain longer
among the hideous and bloodthirsty green men of Mars. But where
to go, and how, was as much of a puzzle to me as the age-old
search for the spring of eternal life has been to earthly men
since the beginning of time.
Early the next morning I was astir. Considerable freedom was
allowed me, as Sola had informed me that so long as I did not
attempt to leave the city I was free to go and come as I pleased.
She had warned me, however, against venturing forth unarmed, as
this city, like all other deserted metropolises of an ancient
Martian civilization, was peopled by the great white apes of my
second day's adventure.
On this morning I had chosen a new street to explore when
suddenly I found myself at the limits of the city. Before me were
low hills pierced by narrow and inviting ravines. I longed to
explore the country before me, and, like the pioneer stock from
which I sprang, to view what the landscape beyond the encircling
hills might disclose from the summits which shut out my view.
As I approached the boundary line Woola ran anxiously before
me, and thrust his body against my legs. His expression was
pleading rather than ferocious, nor did he bare his great tusks
or utter his fearful guttural warnings. Denied the friendship and
companionship of my kind, I had developed considerable affection
for Woola and Sola, for the normal earthly man must have some
outlet for his natural affections, and so I decided upon an
appeal to a like instinct in this great brute, sure that I would
not be disappointed.
He threw himself upon his back and fairly wallowed at my feet;
jumped up and sprang upon me, rolling me upon the ground by his
great weight; then wriggling and squirming around me like a
playful puppy presenting its back for the petting it craves. I
could not resist the ludicrousness of the spectacle, and holding
my sides I rocked back and forth in the first laughter which had
passed my lips in many days; the first, in fact, since the
morning Powell had left camp when his horse, long unused, had
precipitately and unexpectedly bucked him off headforemost into a
pot of frijoles.
There was no further question of authority between us; Woola
was my devoted slave from that moment hence, and I his only and
undisputed master. My walk to the hills occupied but a few
minutes, and I found nothing of particular interest to reward me.
Numerous brilliantly colored and strangely formed wild flowers
dotted the ravines and from the summit of the first hill I saw
still other hills stretching off toward the north, and rising,
one range above another, until lost in mountains of quite
respectable dimensions; though I afterward found that only a few
peaks on all Mars exceed four thousand feet in height; the
suggestion of magnitude was merely relative.
On regaining the plaza I had my third glimpse of the captive
girl. She was standing with her guards before the entrance to the
audience chamber, and as I approached she gave me one haughty
glance and turned her back full upon me. The act was so womanly,
so earthly womanly, that though it stung my pride it also warmed
my heart with a feeling of companionship; it was good to know
that someone else on Mars beside myself had human instincts of a
civilized order, even though the manifestation of them was so
painful and mortifying.
Seeing that the prisoner seemed the center of attraction I
halted to view the proceedings. I had not long to wait for
presently Lorquas Ptomel and his retinue of chieftains approached
the building and, signing the guards to follow with the prisoner
entered the audience chamber. Realizing that I was a somewhat
favored character, and also convinced that the warriors did not
know of my proficiency in their language, as I had pleaded with
Sola to keep this a secret on the grounds that I did not wish to
be forced to talk with the men until I had perfectly mastered the
Martian tongue, I chanced an attempt to enter the audience
chamber and listen to the proceedings.
The other woman was less cruel because she was entirely
indifferent; if the prisoner had been left to her alone, and
fortunately she was at night, she would have received no harsh
treatment, nor, by the same token would she have received any
attention at all.
"What is your name?" asked Lorquas Ptomel, addressing the
"And the nature of your expedition?" he continued.
"We were unprepared for battle," she continued, "as we were on
a peaceful mission, as our banners and the colors of our craft
denoted. The work we were doing was as much in your interests as
in ours, for you know full well that were it not for our labors
and the fruits of our scientific operations there would not be
enough air or water on Mars to support a single human life. For
ages we have maintained the air and water supply at practically
the same point without an appreciable loss, and we have done this
in the face of the brutal and ignorant interference of your green
Lorquas Ptomel and the warriors sat looking silently and
intently at the young woman for several moments after she had
ceased speaking. What was passing in their minds no man may know,
but that they were moved I truly believe, and if one man high
among them had been strong enough to rise above custom, that
moment would have marked a new and mighty era for Mars.
What words of moment were to have fallen from his lips were
never spoken, as just then a young warrior, evidently sensing the
trend of thought among the older men, leaped down from the steps
of the rostrum, and striking the frail captive a powerful blow
across the face, which felled her to the floor, placed his foot
upon her prostrate form and turning toward the assembled council
broke into peals of horrid, mirthless laughter.
That I have taken moments to write down a part of what
occurred as that blow fell does not signify that I remained
inactive for any such length of time. I think I must have sensed
something of what was coming, for I realize now that I was
crouched as for a spring as I saw the blow aimed at her
beautiful, upturned, pleading face, and ere the hand descended I
was halfway across the hall.
He could not use his short-sword to advantage because I was
too close to him, nor could he draw his pistol, which he
attempted to do in direct opposition to Martian custom which says
that you may not fight a fellow warrior in private combat with
any other than the weapon with which you are attacked. In fact he
could do nothing but make a wild and futile attempt to dislodge
me. With all his immense bulk he was little if any stronger than
I, and it was but the matter of a moment or two before he sank,
bleeding and lifeless, to the floor.
Again no Martian interfered with me, and tearing a piece of
silk from my cape I endeavored to staunch the flow of blood from
her nostrils. I was soon successful as her injuries amounted to
little more than an ordinary nosebleed, and when she could speak
she placed her hand upon my arm and looking up into my eyes,
"It is a strange tale," I replied, "too long to attempt to
tell you now, and one which I so much doubt the credibility of
myself that I fear to hope that others will believe it. Suffice
it, for the present, that I am your friend, and, so far as our
captors will permit, your protector and your servant."
"Yes, Dejah Thoris, I too am a prisoner; my name is John
Carter, and I claim Virginia, one of the United States of
America, Earth, as my home; but why I am permitted to wear arms I
do not know, nor was I aware that my regalia was that of a
The reason for the whole attitude displayed toward me was now
apparent; I had won my spurs, so to speak, and in the crude
justice, which always marks Martian dealings, and which, among
other things, has caused me to call her the planet of paradoxes,
I was accorded the honors due a conqueror; the trappings and the
position of the man I killed. In truth, I was a Martian
chieftain, and this I learned later was the cause of my great
freedom and my toleration in the audience chamber.
"You speak the tongue of Barsoom quite readily for one who was
deaf and dumb to us a few short days ago. Where did you learn it,
"She has done well," he answered, "but your education in other
respects needs considerable polish. Do you know what your
unprecedented temerity would have cost you had you failed to kill
either of the two chieftains whose metal you now wear?"
"No, you are wrong. Only in the last extremity of self-defense
would a Martian warrior kill a prisoner; we like to save them for
other purposes," and his face bespoke possibilities that were not
pleasant to dwell upon.
"I hear you, Tars Tarkas," I answered. "As you know I am not
of Barsoom; your ways are not my ways, and I can only act in the
future as I have in the past, in accordance with the dictates of
my conscience and guided by the standards of mine own people. If
you will leave me alone I will go in peace, but if not, let the
individual Barsoomians with whom I must deal either respect my
rights as a stranger among you, or take whatever consequences may
befall. Of one thing let us be sure, whatever may be your
ultimate intentions toward this unfortunate young woman, whoever
would offer her injury or insult in the future must figure on
making a full accounting to me. I understand that you belittle
all sentiments of generosity and kindliness, but I do not, and I
can convince your most doughty warrior that these characteristics
are not incompatible with an ability to fight."
Tars Tarkas himself seemed pleased with my reply, but his only
comment was more or less enigmatical--"And I think I know Tal
Hajus, Jeddak of Thark."
As we reached the open the two female guards who had been
detailed to watch over Dejah Thoris hurried up and made as though
to assume custody of her once more. The poor child shrank against
me and I felt her two little hands fold tightly over my arm.
Waving the women away, I informed them that Sola would attend the
captive hereafter, and I further warned Sarkoja that any more of
her cruel attentions bestowed upon Dejah Thoris would result in
Sarkoja's sudden and painful demise.
I soon found Sola and explained to her that I wished her to
guard Dejah Thoris as she had guarded me; that I wished her to
find other quarters where they would not be molested by Sarkoja,
and I finally informed her that I myself would take up my
quarters among the men.
"You are a great chieftain now, John Carter," she said, "and I
must do your bidding, though indeed I am glad to do it under any
circumstances. The man whose metal you carry was young, but he
was a great warrior, and had by his promotions and kills won his
way close to the rank of Tars Tarkas, who, as you know, is second
to Lorquas Ptomel only. You are eleventh, there are but ten
chieftains in this community who rank you in prowess."
"You would be first, John Carter; but you may only win that
honor by the will of the entire council that Lorquas Ptomel meet
you in combat, or should he attack you, you may kill him in
self-defense, and thus win first place."
I accompanied Sola and Dejah Thoris in a search for new
quarters, which we found in a building nearer the audience
chamber and of far more pretentious architecture than our former
habitation. We also found in this building real sleeping
apartments with ancient beds of highly wrought metal swinging
from enormous gold chains depending from the marble ceilings. The
decoration of the walls was most elaborate, and, unlike the
frescoes in the other buildings I had examined, portrayed many
human figures in the compositions. These were of people like
myself, and of a much lighter color than Dejah Thoris. They were
clad in graceful, flowing robes, highly ornamented with metal and
jewels, and their luxuriant hair was of a beautiful golden and
reddish bronze. The men were beardless and only a few wore arms.
The scenes depicted for the most part, a fair-skinned,
fair-haired people at play.
We decided to use this room, on the second floor and
overlooking the plaza, for Dejah Thoris and Sola, and another
room adjoining and in the rear for the cooking and supplies. I
then dispatched Sola to bring the bedding and such food and
utensils as she might need, telling her that I would guard Dejah
Thoris until her return.
"And whereto, then, would your prisoner escape should you
leave her, unless it was to follow you and crave your protection,
and ask your pardon for the cruel thoughts she has harbored
against you these past few days?"
"I heard your challenge to the creature you call Tars Tarkas,
and I think I understand your position among these people, but
what I cannot fathom is your statement that you are not of
Her eyes were filled with a strange, weird light; her voice
was pleading, and her little hands, reached up upon my breast,
were pressed against me as though to wring a denial from my very
And then it struck me suddenly that I was very anxious that
she should believe me. It was not that I feared the results which
would follow a general belief that I had returned from the
Barsoomian heaven or hell, or whatever it was. Why was it, then!
Why should I care what she thought? I looked down at her; her
beautiful face upturned, and her wonderful eyes opening up the
very depth of her soul; and as my eyes met hers I knew why,
"I am of another world," I answered, "the great planet Earth,
which revolves about our common sun and next within the orbit of
your Barsoom, which we know as Mars. How I came here I cannot
tell you, for I do not know; but here I am, and since my presence
has permitted me to serve Dejah Thoris I am glad that I am
Finally she smiled, and, rising, said: "I shall have to
believe even though I cannot understand. I can readily perceive
that you are not of the Barsoom of today; you are like us, yet
different--but why should I trouble my poor head with such a
problem, when my heart tells me that I believe because I wish to
"Why, every school boy on Barsoom knows the geography, and
much concerning the fauna and flora, as well as the history of
your planet fully as well as of his own. Can we not see
everything which takes place upon Earth, as you call it; is it
not hanging there in the heavens in plain sight?"
"If, then, you are so familiar with earthly things," I asked,
"why is it that you do not recognize me as identical with the
inhabitants of that planet?"
"Because, John Carter," she replied, "nearly every planet and
star having atmospheric conditions at all approaching those of
Barsoom, shows forms of animal life almost identical with you and
me; and, further, Earth men, almost without exception, cover
their bodies with strange, unsightly pieces of cloth, and their
heads with hideous contraptions the purpose of which we have been
unable to conceive; while you, when found by the Tharkian
warriors, were entirely undisfigured and unadorned.
I then narrated the details of my departure from the Earth,
explaining that my body there lay fully clothed in all the, to
her, strange garments of mundane dwellers. At this point Sola
returned with our meager belongings and her young Martian
protege, who, of course, would have to share the quarters with
Dejah Thoris and I then fell to examining the architecture and
decorations of the beautiful chambers of the building we were
occupying. She told me that these people had presumably
flourished over a hundred thousand years before. They were the
early progenitors of her race, but had mixed with the other great
race of early Martians, who were very dark, almost black, and
also with the reddish yellow race which had flourished at the
Ages of close relationship and intermarrying had resulted in
the race of red men, of which Dejah Thoris was a fair and
beautiful daughter. During the ages of hardships and incessant
warring between their own various races, as well as with the
green men, and before they had fitted themselves to the changed
conditions, much of the high civilization and many of the arts of
the fair-haired Martians had become lost; but the red race of
today has reached a point where it feels that it has made up in
new discoveries and in a more practical civilization for all that
lies irretrievably buried with the ancient Barsoomians, beneath
the countless intervening ages.
Dejah Thoris related many interesting facts and legends
concerning this lost race of noble and kindly people. She said
that the city in which we were camping was supposed to have been
a center of commerce and culture known as Korad. It had been
built upon a beautiful, natural harbor, landlocked by magnificent
hills. The little valley on the west front of the city, she
explained, was all that remained of the harbor, while the pass
through the hills to the old sea bottom had been the channel
through which the shipping passed up to the city's gates.
We had been so engrossed in exploration of the building and in
our conversation that it was late in the afternoon before we
realized it. We were brought back to a realization of our present
conditions by a messenger bearing a summons from Lorquas Ptomel
directing me to appear before him forthwith. Bidding Dejah Thoris
and Sola farewell, and commanding Woola to remain on guard, I
hastened to the audience chamber, where I found Lorquas Ptomel
and Tars Tarkas seated upon the rostrum.
As I entered and saluted, Lorquas Ptomel signaled me to advance,
and, fixing his great, hideous eyes upon me, addressed me thus:
"You have been with us a few days, yet during that time you
have by your prowess won a high position among us. Be that as it
may, you are not one of us; you owe us no allegiance.
"But," he continued, in his fierce guttural tones, "if you run
off with the red girl it is I who shall have to account to Tal
Hajus; it is I who shall have to face Tars Tarkas, and either
demonstrate my right to command, or the metal from my dead
carcass will go to a better man, for such is the custom of the
"As a matter of justice I must warn you that we only await one
of these two excuses for ridding ourselves of so great a
responsibility. The safe delivery of the red girl to Tal Hajus is
of the greatest importance. Not in a thousand years have the
Tharks made such a capture; she is the granddaughter of the
greatest of the red jeddaks, who is also our bitterest enemy. I
have spoken. The red girl told us that we were without the softer
sentiments of humanity, but we are a just and truthful race. You
Sarkoja was at this time Tars Tarkas' oldest and most trusted
female. As such she was a mighty power behind the throne, for no
warrior had the confidence of Lorquas Ptomel to such an extent as
did his ablest lieutenant, Tars Tarkas.
As described by Sola, this monster was the exaggerated
personification of all the ages of cruelty, ferocity, and
brutality from which he had descended. Cold, cunning,
calculating; he was, also, in marked contrast to most of his
fellows, a slave to that brute passion which the waning demands
for procreation upon their dying planet has almost stilled in the
As I wandered about the plaza lost in my gloomy forebodings
Tars Tarkas approached me on his way from the audience chamber.
His demeanor toward me was unchanged, and he greeted me as though
we had not just parted a few moments before.
"I have selected none," I replied. "It seemed best that I
quartered either by myself or among the other warriors, and I was
awaiting an opportunity to ask your advice. As you know," and I
smiled, "I am not yet familiar with all the customs of the
"My quarters are on the first floor of this building," he
said, "and the second floor also is fully occupied by warriors,
but the third floor and the floors above are vacant; you may take
your choice of these.
I thanked him, but assured him that I could get along very
nicely without assistance except in the matter of preparing food,
and so he promised to send women to me for this purpose and also
for the care of my arms and the manufacture of my ammunition,
which he said would be necessary. I suggested that they might
also bring some of the sleeping silks and furs which belonged to
me as spoils of combat, for the nights were cold and I had none
of my own.
I finally chose a front room on the third floor, because this
brought me nearer to Dejah Thoris, whose apartment was on the
second floor of the adjoining building, and it flashed upon me
that I could rig up some means of communication whereby she might
signal me in case she needed either my services or my
While the court was entirely overgrown with the yellow,
moss-like vegetation which blankets practically the entire
surface of Mars, yet numerous fountains, statuary, benches, and
pergola-like contraptions bore witness to the beauty which the
court must have presented in bygone times, when graced by the
fair-haired, laughing people whom stern and unalterable cosmic
laws had driven not only from their homes, but from all except
the vague legends of their descendants.
My thoughts were cut short by the advent of several young
females bearing loads of weapons, silks, furs, jewels, cooking
utensils, and casks of food and drink, including considerable
loot from the air craft. All this, it seemed, had been the
property of the two chieftains I had slain, and now, by the
customs of the Tharks, it had become mine. At my direction they
placed the stuff in one of the back rooms, and then departed,
only to return with a second load, which they advised me
constituted the balance of my goods. On the second trip they were
accompanied by ten or fifteen other women and youths, who, it
seemed, formed the retinues of the two chieftains.
The women and children of a man's retinue may be likened to a
military unit for which he is responsible in various ways, as in
matters of instruction, discipline, sustenance, and the
exigencies of their continual roamings and their unending strife
with other communities and with the red Martians. His women are
in no sense wives. The green Martians use no word corresponding
in meaning with this earthly word. Their mating is a matter of
community interest solely, and is directed without reference to
natural selection. The council of chieftains of each community
control the matter as surely as the owner of a Kentucky racing
stud directs the scientific breeding of his stock for the
improvement of the whole.
It is true that the green Martians are absolutely virtuous,
both men and women, with the exception of such degenerates as Tal
Hajus; but better far a finer balance of human characteristics
even at the expense of a slight and occasional loss of
Following the battle with the air ships, the community
remained within the city for several days, abandoning the
homeward march until they could feel reasonably assured that the
ships would not return; for to be caught on the open plains with
a cavalcade of chariots and children was far from the desire of
even so warlike a people as the green Martians.
Two of these animals had fallen to me from the warriors whose
metal I wore, and in a short time I could handle them quite as
well as the native warriors. The method was not at all
complicated. If the thoats did not respond with sufficient
celerity to the telepathic instructions of their riders they were
dealt a terrific blow between the ears with the butt of a pistol,
and if they showed fight this treatment was continued until the
brutes either were subdued, or had unseated their riders.
My experience with Woola determined me to attempt the
experiment of kindness in my treatment of my thoats. First I
taught them that they could not unseat me, and even rapped them
sharply between the ears to impress upon them my authority and
mastery. Then, by degrees, I won their confidence in much the
same manner as I had adopted countless times with my many mundane
mounts. I was ever a good hand with animals, and by inclination,
as well as because it brought more lasting and satisfactory
results, I was always kind and humane in my dealings with the
lower orders. I could take a human life, if necessary, with far
less compunction than that of a poor, unreasoning, irresponsible
"How have you bewitched them?" asked Tars Tarkas one
afternoon, when he had seen me run my arm far between the great
jaws of one of my thoats which had wedged a piece of stone
between two of his teeth while feeding upon the moss-like
vegetation within our court yard.
"Show me how you accomplish these results," was Tars Tarkas'
On the seventh day following the battle with the air craft we
again took up the march toward Thark, all probability of another
attack being deemed remote by Lorquas Ptomel.
On the evening before our departure I saw them approaching
along one of the great avenues which lead into the plaza from the
east. I advanced to meet them, and telling Sola that I would take
the responsibility for Dejah Thoris' safekeeping, I directed her
to return to her quarters on some trivial errand. I liked and
trusted Sola, but for some reason I desired to be alone with
Dejah Thoris, who represented to me all that I had left behind
upon Earth in agreeable and congenial companionship. There seemed
bonds of mutual interest between us as powerful as though we had
been born under the same roof rather than upon different planets,
hurtling through space some forty-eight million miles apart.
"Sarkoja told Sola that you had become a true Thark," she
said, "and that I would now see no more of you than of any of the
Dejah Thoris laughed.
"I think they have been trying to keep us apart," she
continued, "for whenever you have been off duty one of the older
women of Tars Tarkas' retinue has always arranged to trump up
some excuse to get Sola and me out of sight. They have had me
down in the pits below the buildings helping them mix their awful
radium powder, and make their terrible projectiles. You know that
these have to be manufactured by artificial light, as exposure to
sunlight always results in an explosion. You have noticed that
their bullets explode when they strike an object? Well, the
opaque, outer coating is broken by the impact, exposing a glass
cylinder, almost solid, in the forward end of which is a minute
particle of radium powder. The moment the sunlight, even though
diffused, strikes this powder it explodes with a violence which
nothing can withstand. If you ever witness a night battle you
will note the absence of these explosions, while the morning
following the battle will be filled at sunrise with the sharp
detonations of exploding missiles fired the preceding night. As a
rule, however, non-exploding projectiles are used at
While I was much interested in Dejah Thoris' explanation of
this wonderful adjunct to Martian warfare, I was more concerned
by the immediate problem of their treatment of her. That they
were keeping her away from me was not a matter for surprise, but
that they should subject her to dangerous and arduous labor
filled me with rage.
"Only in little ways, John Carter," she answered. "Nothing
that can harm me outside my pride. They know that I am the
daughter of ten thousand jeddaks, that I trace my ancestry
straight back without a break to the builder of the first great
waterway, and they, who do not even know their own mothers, are
jealous of me. At heart they hate their horrid fates, and so
wreak their poor spite on me who stand for everything they have
not, and for all they most crave and never can attain. Let us
pity them, my chieftain, for even though we die at their hands we
can afford them pity, since we are greater than they and they
"I presume it is the better part of wisdom that we bow to our
fate with as good grace as possible, Dejah Thoris; but I hope,
nevertheless, that I may be present the next time that any
Martian, green, red, pink, or violet, has the temerity to even so
much as frown on you, my princess."
"What a child! A great warrior and yet a stumbling little
"Some day you shall know, John Carter, if we live; but I may
not tell you. And I, the daughter of Mors Kajak, son of Tardos
Mors, have listened without anger," she soliloquized in
"I presume that should you accidentally wound an enemy you
would take him home and nurse him back to health," she
This made her laugh again. She could not understand it, for,
with all her tenderness and womanly sweetness, she was still a
Martian, and to a Martian the only good enemy is a dead enemy;
for every dead foeman means so much more to divide between those
"No," she exclaimed, "it is enough that you have said it and
that I have listened. And when you learn, John Carter, and if I
be dead, as likely I shall be ere the further moon has circled
Barsoom another twelve times, remember that I listened and that
Day had now given away to night and as we wandered along the
great avenue lighted by the two moons of Barsoom, and with Earth
looking down upon us out of her luminous green eye, it seemed
that we were alone in the universe, and I, at least, was content
that it should be so.
I loved Dejah Thoris. The touch of my arm upon her naked
shoulder had spoken to me in words I would not mistake, and I
knew that I had loved her since the first moment that my eyes had
met hers that first time in the plaza of the dead city of
My first impulse was to tell her of my love, and then I thought
of the helplessness of her position wherein I alone could lighten
the burdens of her captivity, and protect her in my poor way
against the thousands of hereditary enemies she must face upon
our arrival at Thark. I could not chance causing her additional
pain or sorrow by declaring a love which, in all probability she
did not return. Should I be so indiscreet, her position would be
even more unbearable than now, and the thought that she might
feel that I was taking advantage of her helplessness, to
influence her decision was the final argument which sealed my
"Why are you so quiet, Dejah Thoris?" I asked. "Possibly you
would rather return to Sola and your quarters."
"Do people kiss, then, upon Barsoom?" I asked, when she had
explained the word she used, in answer to my inquiry as to its
"And you, Dejah Thoris, have parents and brothers and
"The man of Barsoom," she finally ventured, "does not ask
personal questions of women, except his mother, and the woman he
has fought for and won."
I did not attempt to follow her, other than to see that she
reached the building in safety, but, directing Woola to accompany
her, I turned disconsolately and entered my own house. I sat for
hours cross-legged, and cross-tempered, upon my silks meditating
upon the queer freaks chance plays upon us poor devils of
Yes, I was a fool, but I was in love, and though I was
suffering the greatest misery I had ever known I would not have
had it otherwise for all the riches of Barsoom. Such is love, and
such are lovers wherever love is known.
The morning of our departure for Thark dawned clear and hot,
as do all Martian mornings except for the six weeks when the snow
melts at the poles.
My duty dictated that I must see that she was comfortable, and
so I glanced into her chariot and rearranged her silks and furs.
In doing so I noted with horror that she was heavily chained by
one ankle to the side of the vehicle.
"Sarkoja thought it best," she answered, her face betokening
her disapproval of the procedure.
"Where is the key, Sola? Let me have it."
I turned without further word and sought out Tars Tarkas, to
whom I vehemently objected to the unnecessary humiliations and
cruelties, as they seemed to my lover's eyes, that were being
heaped upon Dejah Thoris.
I saw the strength of his reasoning at a flash, and knew that
it were futile to appeal from his decision, but I asked that the
key be taken from Sarkoja and that she be directed to leave the
prisoner alone in future.
"Friendship?" he replied. "There is no such thing, John
Carter; but have your will. I shall direct that Sarkoja cease to
annoy the girl, and I myself will take the custody of the
He looked at me long and earnestly before he spoke.
"It were better that you held the key, Tars Tarkas," I
With all his cruel ferocity and coldness there was an
undercurrent of something in Tars Tarkas which he seemed ever
battling to subdue. Could it be a vestige of some human instinct
come back from an ancient forbear to haunt him with the horror of
his people's ways!
A few moments later I saw her deep in conversation with a
warrior named Zad; a big, hulking, powerful brute, but one who
had never made a kill among his own chieftains, and a second name
only with the metal of some chieftain. It was this custom which
entitled me to the names of either of the chieftains I had
killed; in fact, some of the warriors addressed me as Dotar
Sojat, a combination of the surnames of the two warrior
chieftains whose metal I had taken, or, in other words, whom I
had slain in fair fight.
Dejah Thoris would have none of me again on this evening, and
though I spoke her name she neither replied, nor conceded by so
much as the flutter of an eyelid that she realized my existence.
In my extremity I did what most other lovers would have done; I
sought word from her through an intimate. In this instance it was
Sola whom I intercepted in another part of camp.
Sola seemed puzzled herself, as though such strange actions on
the part of two humans were quite beyond her, as indeed they
were, poor child.
I pondered over this report for some time, finally asking,
"What might a sorak be, Sola?"
Not fit to polish the teeth of her grandmother's cat! I must
rank pretty low in the consideration of Dejah Thoris, I thought;
but I could not help laughing at the strange figure of speech, so
homely and in this respect so earthly. It made me homesick, for
it sounded very much like "not fit to polish her shoes." And then
commenced a train of thought quite new to me. I began to wonder
what my people at home were doing. I had not seen them for years.
There was a family of Carters in Virginia who claimed close
relationship with me; I was supposed to be a great uncle, or
something of the kind equally foolish. I could pass anywhere for
twenty-five to thirty years of age, and to be a great uncle
always seemed the height of incongruity, for my thoughts and
feelings were those of a boy. There was two little kiddies in the
Carter family whom I had loved and who had thought there was no
one on Earth like Uncle Jack; I could see them just as plainly,
as I stood there under the moonlit skies of Barsoom, and I longed
for them as I had never longed for any mortals before. By nature
a wanderer, I had never known the true meaning of the word home,
but the great hall of the Carters had always stood for all that
the word did mean to me, and now my heart turned toward it from
the cold and unfriendly peoples I had been thrown amongst. For
did not even Dejah Thoris despise me! I was a low creature, so
low in fact that I was not even fit to polish the teeth of her
grandmother's cat; and then my saving sense of humor came to my
rescue, and laughing I turned into my silks and furs and slept
upon the moon-haunted ground the sleep of a tired and healthy
It was indeed an incubator, but the eggs were very small in
comparison with those I had seen hatching in ours at the time of
my arrival on Mars.
"They cannot be a day's march ahead of us," he exclaimed, the
light of battle leaping to his fierce face.
"I noticed that their eggs were so much smaller than those I
saw hatching in your incubator," I added.
Shortly after the incident of the Warhoon eggs we halted to
rest the animals, and it was during this halt that the second of
the day's interesting episodes occurred. I was engaged in
changing my riding cloths from one of my thoats to the other, for
I divided the day's work between them, when Zad approached me,
and without a word struck my animal a terrific blow with his
This latter alternative is always permissible, therefore I
could have used my short-sword, my dagger, my hatchet, or my
fists had I wished, and been entirely within my rights, but I
could not use firearms or a spear while he held only his
Zad first attempted to rush me down as a bull might a wolf,
but I was much too quick for him, and each time I side-stepped
his rushes he would go lunging past me, only to receive a nick
from my sword upon his arm or back. He was soon streaming blood
from a half dozen minor wounds, but I could not obtain an opening
to deliver an effective thrust. Then he changed his tactics, and
fighting warily and with extreme dexterity, he tried to do by
science what he was unable to do by brute strength. I must admit
that he was a magnificent swordsman, and had it not been for my
greater endurance and the remarkable agility the lesser
gravitation of Mars lent me I might not have been able to put up
the creditable fight I did against him.
As I looked, Dejah Thoris turned upon Sarkoja with the fury of
a young tigress and struck something from her upraised hand;
something which flashed in the sunlight as it spun to the ground.
Then I knew what had blinded me at that crucial moment of the
fight, and how Sarkoja had found a way to kill me without herself
delivering the final thrust. Another thing I saw, too, which
almost lost my life for me then and there, for it took my mind
for the fraction of an instant entirely from my antagonist; for,
as Dejah Thoris struck the tiny mirror from her hand, Sarkoja,
her face livid with hatred and baffled rage, whipped out her
dagger and aimed a terrific blow at Dejah Thoris; and then Sola,
our dear and faithful Sola, sprang between them; the last I saw
was the great knife descending upon her shielding breast.
We rushed each other furiously time after time, 'til suddenly,
feeling the sharp point of his sword at my breast in a thrust I
could neither parry nor escape, I threw myself upon him with
outstretched sword and with all the weight of my body, determined
that I would not die alone if I could prevent it. I felt the
steel tear into my chest, all went black before me, my head
whirled in dizziness, and I felt my knees giving beneath me.
When consciousness returned, and, as I soon learned, I was down
but a moment, I sprang quickly to my feet searching for my sword,
and there I found it, buried to the hilt in the green breast of
Zad, who lay stone dead upon the ochre moss of the ancient sea
bottom. As I regained my full senses I found his weapon piercing
my left breast, but only through the flesh and muscles which
cover my ribs, entering near the center of my chest and coming
out below the shoulder. As I had lunged I had turned so that his
sword merely passed beneath the muscles, inflicting a painful but
not dangerous wound.
Removing the blade from my body I also regained my own, and
turning my back upon his ugly carcass, I moved, sick, sore, and
disgusted, toward the chariots which bore my retinue and my
belongings. A murmur of Martian applause greeted me, but I cared
not for it.
As soon as they were through with me I hastened to the chariot
of Dejah Thoris, where I found my poor Sola with her chest
swathed in bandages, but apparently little the worse for her
encounter with Sarkoja, whose dagger it seemed had struck the
edge of one of Sola's metal breast ornaments and, thus deflected,
had inflicted but a slight flesh wound.
"Is she injured?" I asked of Sola, indicating Dejah Thoris by
an inclination of my head.
"And that her grandmother's cat may now have no one to polish
its teeth?" I queried, smiling.
"Tears are a strange sight upon Barsoom," she continued, "and
so it is difficult for me to interpret them. I have seen but two
people weep in all my life, other than Dejah Thoris; one wept
from sorrow, the other from baffled rage. The first was my
mother, years ago before they killed her; the other was Sarkoja,
when they dragged her from me today."
"But I did. And my father also," she added. "If you would like
to hear the strange and un-Barsoomian story come to the chariot
tonight, John Carter, and I will tell you that of which I have
never spoken in all my life before. And now the signal has been
given to resume the march, you must go."
Sola mounted the chariot, which was swinging into its place in
line, and I hastened to my waiting thoat and galloped to my
station beside Tars Tarkas at the rear of the column.
The enormous broad tires of the chariots and the padded feet
of the animals brought forth no sound from the moss-covered sea
bottom; and so we moved in utter silence, like some huge
phantasmagoria, except when the stillness was broken by the
guttural growling of a goaded zitidar, or the squealing of
fighting thoats. The green Martians converse but little, and then
usually in monosyllables, low and like the faint rumbling of
We camped that night at the foot of the hills we had been
approaching for two days and which marked the southern boundary
of this particular sea. Our animals had been two days without
drink, nor had they had water for nearly two months, not since
shortly after leaving Thark; but, as Tars Tarkas explained to me,
they require but little and can live almost indefinitely upon the
moss which covers Barsoom, and which, he told me, holds in its
tiny stems sufficient moisture to meet the limited demands of the
animals. After partaking of my evening meal of cheese-like food
and vegetable milk I sought out Sola, whom I found working by the
light of a torch upon some of Tars Tarkas' trappings. She looked
up at my approach, her face lighting with pleasure and with
"I promised to tell you my story, or rather the story of my
parents. From what I have learned of you and the ways of your
people I am sure that the tale will not seem strange to you, but
among green Martians it has no parallel within the memory of the
oldest living Thark, nor do our legends hold many similar
"And there among the hills she met a young warrior, whose duty
it was to guard the feeding zitidars and thoats and see that they
roamed not beyond the hills. They spoke at first only of such
things as interest a community of Tharks, but gradually, as they
came to meet more often, and, as was now quite evident to both,
no longer by chance, they talked about themselves, their likes,
their ambitions and their hopes. She trusted him and told him of
the awful repugnance she felt for the cruelties of their kind,
for the hideous, loveless lives they must ever lead, and then she
waited for the storm of denunciation to break from his cold, hard
lips; but instead he took her in his arms and kissed her.
"The egg from which I came was hidden beneath a great glass
vessel upon the highest and most inaccessible of the partially
ruined towers of ancient Thark. Once each year my mother visited
it for the five long years it lay there in the process of
incubation. She dared not come oftener, for in the mighty guilt
of her conscience she feared that her every move was watched.
During this period my father gained great distinction as a
warrior and had taken the metal from several chieftains. His love
for my mother had never diminished, and his own ambition in life
was to reach a point where he might wrest the metal from Tal
Hajus himself, and thus, as ruler of the Tharks, be free to claim
her as his own, as well as, by the might of his power, protect
the child which otherwise would be quickly dispatched should the
truth become known.
"He was gone for four years, and when he returned all had been
over for three; for about a year after his departure, and shortly
before the time for the return of an expedition which had gone
forth to fetch the fruits of a community incubator, the egg had
hatched. Thereafter my mother continued to keep me in the old
tower, visiting me nightly and lavishing upon me the love the
community life would have robbed us both of. She hoped, upon the
return of the expedition from the incubator, to mix me with the
other young assigned to the quarters of Tal Hajus, and thus
escape the fate which would surely follow discovery of her sin
against the ancient traditions of the green men.
"And then a light flashed out upon the darkness of the tower
chamber, and there stood Sarkoja, her gleaming, baleful eyes
fixed in a frenzy of loathing and contempt upon my mother. The
torrent of hatred and abuse she poured out upon her turned my
young heart cold in terror. That she had heard the entire story
was apparent, and that she had suspected something wrong from my
mother's long nightly absences from her quarters accounted for
her presence there on that fateful night.
"With final imprecations, Sarkoja hastened away to Tal Hajus
to report her discovery, and while she was gone my mother,
wrapping me in the silks and furs of her night coverings, so that
I was scarcely noticeable, descended to the streets and ran
wildly away toward the outskirts of the city, in the direction
which led to the far south, out toward the man whose protection
she might not claim, but on whose face she wished to look once
more before she died.
"Retreating into the shadows of a doorway she awaited the
coming of the cavalcade which shortly entered the avenue,
breaking its formation and thronging the thoroughfare from wall
to wall. As the head of the procession passed us the lesser moon
swung clear of the overhanging roofs and lit up the scene with
all the brilliancy of her wondrous light. My mother shrank
further back into the friendly shadows, and from her hiding place
saw that the expedition was not that of my father, but the
returning caravan bearing the young Tharks. Instantly her plan
was formed, and as a great chariot swung close to our hiding
place she slipped stealthily in upon the trailing tailboard,
crouching low in the shadow of the high side, straining me to her
bosom in a frenzy of love.
"I never saw my mother after that night. She was imprisoned by
Tal Hajus, and every effort, including the most horrible and
shameful torture, was brought to bear upon her to wring from her
lips the name of my father; but she remained steadfast and loyal,
dying at last amidst the laughter of Tal Hajus and his chieftains
during some awful torture she was undergoing.
"When he returned from his expedition and learned the story of
my mother's fate I was present as Tal Hajus told him; but never
by the quiver of a muscle did he betray the slightest emotion;
only he did not laugh as Tal Hajus gleefully described her death
struggles. From that moment on he was the cruelest of the cruel,
and I am awaiting the day when he shall win the goal of his
ambition, and feel the carcass of Tal Hajus beneath his foot, for
I am as sure that he but waits the opportunity to wreak a
terrible vengeance, and that his great love is as strong in his
breast as when it first transfigured him nearly forty years ago,
as I am that we sit here upon the edge of a world-old ocean while
sensible people sleep, John Carter."
"Yes," she replied, "but he does not know me for what I am,
nor does he know who betrayed my mother to Tal Hajus. I alone
know my father's name, and only I and Tal Hajus and Sarkoja know
that it was she who carried the tale that brought death and
torture upon her he loved."
"John Carter, if ever a real man walked the cold, dead bosom
of Barsoom you are one. I know that I can trust you, and because
the knowledge may someday help you or him or Dejah Thoris or
myself, I am going to tell you the name of my father, nor place
any restrictions or conditions upon your tongue. When the time
comes, speak the truth if it seems best to you. I trust you
because I know that you are not cursed with the terrible trait of
absolute and unswerving truthfulness, that you could lie like one
of your own Virginia gentlemen if a lie would save others from
sorrow or suffering. My father's name is Tars Tarkas."
The remainder of our journey to Thark was uneventful. We were
twenty days upon the road, crossing two sea bottoms and passing
through or around a number of ruined cities, mostly smaller than
Korad. Twice we crossed the famous Martian waterways, or canals,
so-called by our earthly astronomers. When we approached these
points a warrior would be sent far ahead with a powerful field
glass, and if no great body of red Martian troops was in sight we
would advance as close as possible without chance of being seen
and then camp until dark, when we would slowly approach the
cultivated tract, and, locating one of the numerous, broad
highways which cross these areas at regular intervals, creep
silently and stealthily across to the arid lands upon the other
side. It required five hours to make one of these crossings
without a single halt, and the other consumed the entire night,
so that we were just leaving the confines of the high-walled
fields when the sun broke out upon us.
Crossing in the darkness, as we did, I was unable to see but
little, except as the nearer moon, in her wild and ceaseless
hurtling through the Barsoomian heavens, lit up little patches of
the landscape from time to time, disclosing walled fields and
low, rambling buildings, presenting much the appearance of
earthly farms. There were many trees, methodically arranged, and
some of them were of enormous height; there were animals in some
of the enclosures, and they announced their presence by terrified
squealings and snortings as they scented our queer, wild beasts
and wilder human beings.
Not once did I have speech with Dejah Thoris, as she sent no
word to me that I would be welcome at her chariot, and my foolish
pride kept me from making any advances. I verily believe that a
man's way with women is in inverse ratio to his prowess among
men. The weakling and the saphead have often great ability to
charm the fair sex, while the fighting man who can face a
thousand real dangers unafraid, sits hiding in the shadows like
some frightened child.
We made our entry into the great central plaza early in the
afternoon. There were no enthusiastic friendly greetings for the
returned expedition. Those who chanced to be in sight spoke the
names of warriors or women with whom they came in direct contact,
in the formal greeting of their kind, but when it was discovered
that they brought two captives a greater interest was aroused,
and Dejah Thoris and I were the centers of inquiring groups.
When I had finally put my house in order, or rather seen that
it had been done, it was nearing sunset, and I hastened out with
the intention of locating Sola and her charges, as I had
determined upon having speech with Dejah Thoris and trying to
impress on her the necessity of our at least patching up a truce
until I could find some way of aiding her to escape. I searched
in vain until the upper rim of the great red sun was just
disappearing behind the horizon and then I spied the ugly head of
Woola peering from a second-story window on the opposite side of
the very street where I was quartered, but nearer the plaza.
Quieting him with a word of command and a caress, I looked
hurriedly through the approaching gloom for a sign of Dejah
Thoris, and then, not seeing her, I called her name. There was an
answering murmur from the far corner of the apartment, and with a
couple of quick strides I was standing beside her where she
crouched among the furs and silks upon an ancient carved wooden
seat. As I waited she rose to her full height and looking me
straight in the eye said:
"Dejah Thoris, I do not know how I have angered you. It was
furtherest from my desire to hurt or offend you, whom I had hoped
to protect and comfort. Have none of me if it is your will, but
that you must aid me in effecting your escape, if such a thing be
possible, is not my request, but my command. When you are safe
once more at your father's court you may do with me as you
please, but from now on until that day I am your master, and you
must obey and aid me."
"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."
She took a little step toward me, her beautiful hands
outstretched in a strange, groping gesture.
"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."
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.
"What do they say?" inquired Dejah Thoris.
"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."
"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
"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.
"Does not this pierce your grandfather's territory?" I
"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."
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
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.
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.
"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
Removing the saddle trappings, I hid them just within the rear
doorway of the building through which we had entered the court,
and, turning the beasts loose, quickly made my way across the
court to the rear of the buildings upon the further side, and
thence to the avenue beyond. Waiting in the doorway of the
building until I was assured that no one was approaching, I
hurried across to the opposite side and through the first doorway
to the court beyond; thus, crossing through court after court
with only the slight chance of detection which the necessary
crossing of the avenues entailed, I made my way in safety to the
courtyard in the rear of Dejah Thoris' quarters.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
He sprang down from the platform and grasped her roughly by
the arm, but scarcely had he touched her than I leaped between
them. My short-sword, sharp and gleaming was in my right hand; I
could have plunged it into his putrid heart before he realized
that I was upon him; but as I raised my arm to strike I thought
of Tars Tarkas, and, with all my rage, with all my hatred, I
could not rob him of that sweet moment for which he had lived and
hoped all these long, weary years, and so, instead, I swung my
good right fist full upon the point of his jaw. Without a sound
he slipped to the floor as one dead.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
"What," she cried, "are you not coming with 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."
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.
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.
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.
As I opened my eyes she turned to one of the warriors,
"'Tis well," replied the one so addressed, rising and
approaching my couch, "he should render rare sport for the great
His reference to the great games of which I had heard so much
while among the Tharks convinced me that I had but jumped from
purgatory into gehenna.
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 the injuries.
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.
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.
"He will die as Bar Comas, your jeddak, sees fit, if at all,"
replied the young ruler, with emphasis and dignity.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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,
"John Carter, a friend of the red men of Helium."
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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
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.
Next a mad zitidar was loosed among the remaining dogs, and so
it went throughout the long, hot, horrible day.
Finally there were but three of us left, a great green warrior
of some far northern horde, Kantos Kan, and myself.
Kantos Kan had fought several times during the day and like
myself had always proven victorious, but occasionally by the
smallest of margins, especially when pitted against the green
warriors. I had little hope that he could best his giant
adversary who had mowed down all before him during the day. The
fellow towered nearly sixteen feet in height, while Kantos Kan
was some inches under six feet. As they advanced to meet one
another I saw for the first time a trick of Martian swordsmanship
which centered Kantos Kan's every hope of victory and life on one
cast of the dice, for, as he came to within about twenty feet of
the huge fellow he threw his sword arm far behind him over his
shoulder and with a mighty sweep hurled his weapon point foremost
at the green warrior. It flew true as an arrow and piercing the
poor devil's heart laid him dead upon the arena.
When the amphitheater had cleared I crept stealthily to the
top and as the great excavation lay far from the plaza and in an
untenanted portion of the great dead city I had little trouble in
reaching the hills beyond.
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
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.
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
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.
"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?"
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.
"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
"Yes, I can see all but your thoughts, and were you a
Barsoomian I could read those."
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"And so good-night, my friend," he continued, "may you have a
long and restful sleep--yes, a long sleep."
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
These brothers, with their wives and children, occupied three
similar houses on this farm. They did no work themselves, being
government officers in charge. The labor was performed by
convicts, prisoners of war, delinquent debtors and confirmed
bachelors who were too poor to pay the high celibate tax which
all red-Martian governments impose.
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
When I was ready to depart they furnished me with a small
domestic bull thoat, such as is used for saddle purposes by all
red Martians. The animal is about the size of a horse and quite
gentle, but in color and shape an exact replica of his huge and
fierce cousin of the wilds.
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.
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.
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.
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
"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.
"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
"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."
Ten days after leaving the three Ptor brothers I arrived at
Zodanga. From the moment that I had come in contact with the red
inhabitants of Mars I had noticed that Woola drew a great amount
of unwelcome attention to me, since the huge brute belonged to a
species which is never domesticated by the red men. Were one to
stroll down Broadway with a Numidian lion at his heels the effect
would be somewhat similar to that which I should have produced
had I entered Zodanga with Woola.
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
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
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,
Like lightning he wheeled and before I could so much as lower
my hand the point of his long-sword was at my breast.
"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?"
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Driving my fleet air craft at high speed directly behind the
warriors I soon overtook them and without diminishing my speed I
rammed the prow of my little flier between the shoulders of the
nearest. The impact sufficient to have torn through inches of
solid steel, hurled the fellow's headless body into the air over
the head of his thoat, where it fell sprawling upon the moss. The
mounts of the other two warriors turned squealing in terror, and
bolted in opposite directions.
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
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
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
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.
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
"John Carter, air scout!"
"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."
"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
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
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.
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.
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.
Dejah Thoris only smiled the more and with the roguish dimples
playing at the corners of her mouth she made answer:
"I am glad that you have so decided," replied Than Kosis. "It
is far from my desire to push war further against the people of
Helium, and, your promise shall be recorded and a proclamation to
my people issued forthwith."
"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
Dejah Thoris, after a few words, turned and left the
apartment, still followed by her guards.
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.
Moving on a few steps I discovered another passageway at the
end of which lay a door. Walking boldly forward I pushed into the
room only to find myself in a small ante-chamber in which were
the four guards who had accompanied her. One of them instantly
arose and accosted me, asking the nature of my business.
"And your order?" asked the fellow.
But my entrance was not to be so easily accomplished. The
guardsman stepped before me, saying,
"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?"
"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.
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
Sheathing my bloody blade I advanced toward my Martian
Princess, who still stood mutely gazing at me without sign of
"I am a friend," I answered, "a once cherished friend."
"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?"
"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."
"Think you, John Carter, that I would give my heart to you
yesterday and today to another? I thought that it lay buried with
your ashes in the pits of Warhoon, and so today I have promised
my body to another to save my people from the curse of a
victorious Zodangan army."
"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 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
"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."
"You have sealed his death warrant, my princess--Sab Than
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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
"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."
"What manner of weird tale are you bringing me, Notan?" he
"The mind of the Princess of Helium whom I have examined and
questioned was a blank to me, she has perfect control, and I
could not read one iota of it. She said that she witnessed a
portion of the encounter, and that when she looked there was but
one man engaged with the guardsmen; a man whom she did not
recognize as ever having seen."
"Where is this man?" cried Than Kosis. "Have him brought to me
at once. What know you of him, cousin? It seemed strange to me
now that I think upon it that there should have been such a
fighting man in Zodanga, of whose name, even, we were ignorant
before today. And his name too, John Carter, who ever heard of
such a name upon Barsoom!"
"Keep your eyes on this other one," commanded Than Kosis. "He
also is a stranger and likely as not they both hail from Helium,
and where one is we shall sooner or later find the other.
Quadruple the air patrol, and let every man who leaves the city
by air or ground be subjected to the closest scrutiny."
"The likeness of every person who has entered or left the
palace grounds today has been carefully examined," concluded the
fellow, "and not one approaches the likeness of this new padwar
of the guards, other than that which was recorded of him at the
time he entered."
They left the hall, and, as darkness had fallen without, I
slipped lightly from my hiding place and hastened to the balcony.
Few were in sight, and choosing a moment when none seemed near I
sprang quickly to the top of the glass wall and from there to the
avenue beyond the palace grounds.
Without effort at concealment I hastened to the vicinity of our
quarters, where I felt sure I should find Kantos Kan. As I neared
the building I became more careful, as I judged, and rightly,
that the place would be guarded. Several men in civilian metal
loitered near the front entrance and in the rear were others. My
only means of reaching, unseen, the upper story where our
apartments were situated was through an adjoining building, and
after considerable maneuvering I managed to attain the roof of a
shop several doors away.
Leaping from roof to roof, I soon reached an open window in
the building where I hoped to find the Heliumite, and in another
moment I stood in the room before him. He was alone and showed no
surprise at my coming, saying he had expected me much earlier, as
my tour of duty must have ended some time since.
"It cannot be," he exclaimed. "It is impossible! Why no man in
all Helium but would prefer death to the selling of our loved
princess to the ruling house of Zodanga. She must have lost her
mind to have assented to such an atrocious bargain. You, who do
not know how we of Helium love the members of our ruling house,
cannot appreciate the horror with which I contemplate such an
"If I can come within sword's reach of Sab Than," I answered,
"I can solve the difficulty in so far as Helium is concerned, but
for personal reasons I would prefer that another struck the blow
that frees Dejah Thoris."
"You love her!" he said. "Does she know it?"
The splendid fellow sprang to his feet, and grasping me by the
shoulder raised his sword on high, exclaiming:
"How?" I asked. "You are strongly guarded and a quadruple
force patrols the sky."
"I only need to pass these guards and I can do it," he said at
last. "I know a secret entrance to the palace through the
pinnacle of the highest tower. I fell upon it by chance one day
as I was passing above the palace on patrol duty. In this work it
is required that we investigate any unusual occurrence we may
witness, and a face peering from the pinnacle of the high tower
of the palace was, to me, most unusual. I therefore drew near and
discovered that the possessor of the peering face was none other
than Sab Than. He was slightly put out at being detected and
commanded me to keep the matter to myself, explaining that the
passage from the tower led directly to his apartments, and was
known only to him. If I can reach the roof of the barracks and
get my machine I can be in Sab Than's quarters in five minutes;
but how am I to escape from this building, guarded as you say it
"There is usually but one man on duty there at night upon the
Without stopping to explain my plans I retraced my way to the
street and hastened to the barracks. I did not dare to enter the
building, filled as it was with members of the air-scout
squadron, who, in common with all Zodanga, were on the lookout
It was a long climb up the face of the building, and one
fraught with much danger, but there was no other way, and so I
essayed the task. The fact that Barsoomian architecture is
extremely ornate made the feat much simpler than I had
anticipated, since I found ornamental ledges and projections
which fairly formed a perfect ladder for me all the way to the
eaves of the building. Here I met my first real obstacle. The
eaves projected nearly twenty feet from the wall to which I
clung, and though I encircled the great building I could find no
opening through them.
There was one slight, desperate chance, and that I decided I
must take--it was for Dejah Thoris, and no man has lived who
would not risk a thousand deaths for such as she.
I swung this hook cautiously to the roof several times before
it finally found lodgment; gently I pulled on it to strengthen
its hold, but whether it would bear the weight of my body I did
not know. It might be barely caught upon the very outer verge of
the roof, so that as my body swung out at the end of the strap it
would slip off and launch me to the pavement a thousand feet
Clambering quickly aloft I grasped the edge of the eaves and
drew myself to the surface of the roof above. As I gained my feet
I was confronted by the sentry on duty, into the muzzle of whose
revolver I found myself looking.
"I am an air scout, friend, and very near a dead one, for just
by the merest chance I escaped falling to the avenue below," I
"Look you here, sentry, and you shall see how I came and how
close a shave I had to not coming at all," I answered, turning
toward the edge of the roof, where, twenty feet below, at the end
of my strap, hung all my weapons.
Donning my trappings and weapons I hastened to the sheds, and
soon had out both my machine and Kantos Kan's. Making his fast
behind mine I started my engine, and skimming over the edge of
the roof I dove down into the streets of the city far below the
plane usually occupied by the air patrol. In less than a minute I
was settling safely upon the roof of our apartment beside the
astonished Kantos Kan.
As we neared the high tower a patrol shot down from above,
throwing its piercing searchlight full upon my craft, and a voice
roared out a command to halt, following with a shot as I paid no
attention to his hail. Kantos Kan dropped quickly into the
darkness, while I rose steadily and at terrific speed raced
through the Martian sky followed by a dozen of the air-scout
craft which had joined the pursuit, and later by a swift cruiser
carrying a hundred men and a battery of rapid-fire guns. By
twisting and turning my little machine, now rising and now
falling, I managed to elude their search-lights most of the time,
but I was also losing ground by these tactics, and so I decided
to hazard everything on a straight-away course and leave the
result to fate and the speed of my machine.
As I sped through the air the screeching of the bullets around
me convinced me that only by a miracle could I escape, but the
die was cast, and throwing on full speed I raced a straight
course toward Helium. Gradually I left my pursuers further and
further behind, and I was just congratulating myself on my lucky
escape, when a well-directed shot from the cruiser exploded at
the prow of my little craft. The concussion nearly capsized her,
and with a sickening plunge she hurtled downward through the dark
Not until their lights were no longer discernible did I
venture to flash my little lamp upon my compass, and then I found
to my consternation that a fragment of the projectile had utterly
destroyed my only guide, as well as my speedometer. It was true I
could follow the stars in the general direction of Helium, but
without knowing the exact location of the city or the speed at
which I was traveling my chances for finding it were slim.
Believing that I had come too far to the north and west, I
turned back in a southeasterly direction, passing during the
forenoon several other large cities, but none resembling the
description which Kantos Kan had given me of Helium. In addition
to the twin-city formation of Helium, another distinguishing
feature is the two immense towers, one of vivid scarlet rising
nearly a mile into the air from the center of one of the cities,
while the other, of bright yellow and of the same height, marks
About noon I passed low over a great dead city of ancient Mars,
and as I skimmed out across the plain beyond I came full upon
several thousand green warriors engaged in a terrific battle.
Scarcely had I seen them than a volley of shots was directed at
me, and with the almost unfailing accuracy of their aim my little
craft was instantly a ruined wreck, sinking erratically to the
I fell almost directly in the center of the fierce combat,
among warriors who had not seen my approach so busily were they
engaged in life and death struggles. The men were fighting on
foot with long-swords, while an occasional shot from a
sharpshooter on the outskirts of the conflict would bring down a
warrior who might for an instant separate himself from the
I fell beside a huge monster who was engaged with three
antagonists, and as I glanced at his fierce face, filled with the
light of battle, I recognized Tars Tarkas the Thark. He did not
see me, as I was a trifle behind him, and just then the three
warriors opposing him, and whom I recognized as Warhoons, charged
simultaneously. The mighty fellow made quick work of one of them,
but in stepping back for another thrust he fell over a dead body
behind him and was down and at the mercy of his foes in an
instant. Quick as lightning they were upon him, and Tars Tarkas
would have been gathered to his fathers in short order had I not
sprung before his prostrate form and engaged his adversaries. I
had accounted for one of them when the mighty Thark regained his
feet and quickly settled the other.
"I would scarcely recognize you, John Carter, but there is no
other mortal upon Barsoom who would have done what you have for
me. I think I have learned that there is such a thing as
friendship, my friend."
Ten thousand men had been engaged in that titanic struggle,
and upon the field of battle lay three thousand dead. Neither
side asked or gave quarter, nor did they attempt to take
As I sat awaiting the return of the green warrior I heard
something move in an adjoining apartment, and as I glanced up
there rushed suddenly upon me a huge and hideous creature which
bore me backward upon the pile of silks and furs upon which I had
been reclining. It was Woola--faithful, loving Woola. He had
found his way back to Thark and, as Tars Tarkas later told me,
had gone immediately to my former quarters where he had taken up
his pathetic and seemingly hopeless watch for my return.
"And when you return, Tars Tarkas?" I asked.
"We will stay, Tars Tarkas, and see Tal Hajus tonight. You
shall not sacrifice yourself, and it may be that tonight you can
have the chance you wait."
While we were eating I repeated to Tars Tarkas the story which
Sola had told me that night upon the sea bottom during the march
He no longer demurred when I suggested that we go before Tal
Hajus, only saying that he would like to speak to Sarkoja first.
At his request I accompanied him to her quarters, and the look of
venomous hatred she cast upon me was almost adequate recompense
for any future misfortunes this accidental return to Thark might
The next morning Sarkoja was gone, nor was she ever seen
"Strap him to that pillar," he shrieked. "We shall see who it
is dares strike the mighty Tal Hajus. Heat the irons; with my own
hands I shall burn the eyes from his head that he may not pollute
my person with his vile gaze."
"Silence," roared Tal Hajus. "Gag the creature and bind him as
"Yes, justice!" echoed a dozen voices, and so, while Tal Hajus
fumed and frothed, I continued.
A roar of deep-toned applause greeted this suggestion.
After I ceased there was tense silence, as all eyes were
riveted upon Tal Hajus. He did not speak or move, but the blotchy
green of his countenance turned livid, and the froth froze upon
"Chieftains," continued Lorquas Ptomel, "shall the jeddak, Tal
Hajus, prove his fitness to rule over Tars Tarkas?"
There was no alternative. That decree was final, and so Tal
Hajus drew his long-sword and advanced to meet Tars Tarkas.
His first act was to make me a full-fledged chieftain with the
rank I had won by my combats the first few weeks of my captivity
"John Carter has made a proposal," he said, addressing the
council, "which meets with my sanction. I shall put it to you
briefly. Dejah Thoris, the Princess of Helium, who was our
prisoner, is now held by the jeddak of Zodanga, whose son she
must wed to save her country from devastation at the hands of the
It was a chance to fight, an opportunity to loot, and they
rose to the bait as a speckled trout to a fly.
In three days we were on the march toward Zodanga, one hundred
thousand strong, as Tars Tarkas had been able to enlist the
services of three smaller hordes on the promise of the great loot
We traveled entirely by night, timing our marches so that we
camped during the day at deserted cities where, even to the
beasts, we were all kept indoors during the daylight hours. On
the march Tars Tarkas, through his remarkable ability and
statesmanship, enlisted fifty thousand more warriors from various
hordes, so that, ten days after we set out we halted at midnight
outside the great walled city of Zodanga, one hundred and fifty
But as we neared Zodanga their personal quarrels were
submerged by their greater hatred for the red men, and especially
for the Zodangans, who had for years waged a ruthless campaign of
extermination against the green men, directing special attention
toward despoiling their incubators.
The walls of Zodanga are seventy-five feet in height and fifty
feet thick. They are built of enormous blocks of carborundum, and
the task of entering the city seemed, to my escort of green
warriors, an impossibility. The fellows who had been detailed to
accompany me were of one of the smaller hordes, and therefore did
not know me.
In this way, with ten warriors, I built a series of three
steps from the ground to the shoulders of the topmost man. Then
starting from a short distance behind them I ran swiftly up from
one tier to the next, and with a final bound from the broad
shoulders of the highest I clutched the top of the great wall and
quietly drew myself to its broad expanse. After me I dragged six
lengths of leather from an equal number of my warriors. These
lengths we had previously fastened together, and passing one end
to the topmost warrior I lowered the other end cautiously over
the opposite side of the wall toward the avenue below. No one was
in sight, so, lowering myself to the end of my leather strap, I
dropped the remaining thirty feet to the pavement below.
I found to my delight that I had entered at the lower boundary
of the enormous palace grounds. The building itself showed in the
distance a blaze of glorious light, and on the instant I
determined to lead a detachment of warriors directly within the
palace itself, while the balance of the great horde was attacking
the barracks of the soldiery.
As the great gate where I stood swung open my fifty Tharks,
headed by Tars Tarkas himself, rode in upon their mighty thoats.
I led them to the palace walls, which I negotiated easily without
assistance. Once inside, however, the gate gave me considerable
trouble, but I finally was rewarded by seeing it swing upon its
huge hinges, and soon my fierce escort was riding across the
gardens of the jeddak of Zodanga.
At one end of the chamber, upon massive golden thrones
encrusted with diamonds, sat Than Kosis and his consort,
surrounded by officers and dignitaries of state. Before them
stretched a broad aisle lined on either side with soldiery, and
as I looked there entered this aisle at the far end of the hall,
the head of a procession which advanced to the foot of the
At the foot of the throne these two parties separated and
halted, facing each other at opposite sides of the aisle. Then
came more dignitaries, and the officers of the palace and of the
army, and finally two figures entirely muffled in scarlet silk,
so that not a feature of either was discernible. These two
stopped at the foot of the throne, facing Than Kosis. When the
balance of the procession had entered and assumed their stations
Than Kosis addressed the couple standing before him. I could not
hear his words, but presently two officers advanced and removed
the scarlet robe from one of the figures, and I saw that Kantos
Kan had failed in his mission, for it was Sab Than, Prince of
Zodanga, who stood revealed before me.
The object of the ceremony was clear to me; in another moment
Dejah Thoris would be joined forever to the Prince of Zodanga. It
was an impressive and beautiful ceremony, I presume, but to me it
seemed the most fiendish sight I had ever witnessed, and as the
ornaments were adjusted upon her beautiful figure and her collar
of gold swung open in the hands of Than Kosis I raised my
long-sword above my head, and, with the heavy hilt, I shattered
the glass of the great window and sprang into the midst of the
astonished assemblage. With a bound I was on the steps of the
platform beside Than Kosis, and as he stood riveted with surprise
I brought my long-sword down upon the golden chain that would
have bound Dejah Thoris to another.
"Zodanga has fallen," I cried. "Look!"
A cry of alarm and amazement broke from the assemblage, but no
word of fear, and in a moment the soldiers and nobles of Zodanga
were hurling themselves upon the advancing Tharks.
As we circled upon the broad platform I saw Sab Than rushing
up the steps to aid his father, but, as he raised his hand to
strike, Dejah Thoris sprang before him and then my sword found
the spot that made Sab Than jeddak of Zodanga. As his father
rolled dead upon the floor the new jeddak tore himself free from
Dejah Thoris' grasp, and again we faced each other. He was soon
joined by a quartet of officers, and, with my back against a
golden throne, I fought once again for Dejah Thoris. I was hard
pressed to defend myself and yet not strike down Sab Than and,
with him, my last chance to win the woman I loved. My blade was
swinging with the rapidity of lightning as I sought to parry the
thrusts and cuts of my opponents. Two I had disarmed, and one was
down, when several more rushed to the aid of their new ruler, and
to avenge the death of the old.
Calling to Dejah Thoris to get behind me I worked my way
toward the little doorway back of the throne, but the officers
realized my intentions, and three of them sprang in behind me and
blocked my chances for gaining a position where I could have
defended Dejah Thoris against any army of swordsmen.
The bravery of the Zodangans was awe-inspiring, not one
attempted to escape, and when the fighting ceased it was because
only Tharks remained alive in the great hall, other than Dejah
Thoris and myself.
My first thought when the battle was over was for Kantos Kan,
and leaving Dejah Thoris in charge of Tars Tarkas I took a dozen
warriors and hastened to the dungeons beneath the palace. The
jailers had all left to join the fighters in the throne room, so
we searched the labyrinthine prison without opposition.
He was overjoyed at seeing me, and to know the meaning of the
fight, faint echoes of which had reached his prison cell. He told
me that the air patrol had captured him before he reached the
high tower of the palace, so that he had not even seen Sab
Fortunately among the first I examined I found his jailer, and
soon we had Kantos Kan with us in the throne room.
She had sunk into one of the golden thrones, and as I turned
to her she greeted me with a wan smile.
"The answer is easy, Dejah Thoris," I replied smiling. "It was
not I who did it, it was love, love for Dejah Thoris, a power
that would work greater miracles than this you have seen."
"You may say that now, John Carter, and I may listen, for I am
"He does not need to be abashed who so well knew the answer to
his plea before the plea were made," she replied, rising and
placing her dear hands upon my shoulders, and so I took her in my
arms and kissed her.
Sometime later Tars Tarkas and Kantos Kan returned to report
that Zodanga had been completely reduced. Her forces were
entirely destroyed or captured, and no further resistance was to
be expected from within. Several battleships had escaped, but
there were thousands of war and merchant vessels under guard of
Five hours later we sailed from the roofs of the dock
buildings with a fleet of two hundred and fifty battleships,
carrying nearly one hundred thousand green warriors, followed by
a fleet of transports with our thoats.
In the middle of the afternoon we sighted the scarlet and
yellow towers of Helium, and a short time later a great fleet of
Zodangan battleships rose from the camps of the besiegers without
the city, and advanced to meet us.
The twin cities of Helium, perceiving that we were friends,
sent out hundreds of vessels to aid us, and then began the first
real air battle I had ever witnessed.
At first the two forces circled at the same altitude, pouring
broadside after broadside into each other. Presently a great hole
was torn in the hull of one of the immense battle craft from the
Zodangan camp; with a lurch she turned completely over, the
little figures of her crew plunging, turning and twisting toward
the ground a thousand feet below; then with sickening velocity
she tore after them, almost completely burying herself in the
soft loam of the ancient sea bottom.
Then, one by one, the battleships of Helium succeeded in
rising above the Zodangans, and in a short time a number of the
beleaguering battleships were drifting hopeless wrecks toward the
high scarlet tower of greater Helium. Several others attempted to
escape, but they were soon surrounded by thousands of tiny
individual fliers, and above each hung a monster battleship of
Helium ready to drop boarding parties upon their decks.
There was an extremely pathetic side to the surrender of these
mighty fliers, the result of an age-old custom which demanded
that surrender should be signalized by the voluntary plunging to
earth of the commander of the vanquished vessel. One after
another the brave fellows, holding their colors high above their
heads, leaped from the towering bows of their mighty craft to an
We now signaled the flagship of Helium's navy to approach, and
when she was within hailing distance I called out that we had the
Princess Dejah Thoris on board, and that we wished to transfer
her to the flagship that she might be taken immediately to the
The flagship bore down upon us, and as she swung gracefully to
and touched our side a dozen officers sprang upon our decks. As
their astonished gaze fell upon the hundreds of green warriors,
who now came forth from the fighting shelters, they stopped
aghast, but at sight of Kantos Kan, who advanced to meet them,
they came forward, crowding about him.
"Lay your hands upon the shoulder of John Carter," she said to
them, turning toward me, "the man to whom Helium owes her
princess as well as her victory today."
"You owe your thanks more to another man than to me," I said,
"and here he is; meet one of Barsoom's greatest soldiers and
statesmen, Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of Thark."
Dejah Thoris went aboard the flagship, and was much put out
that I would not follow, but, as I explained to her, the battle
was but partly won; we still had the land forces of the besieging
Zodangans to account for, and I would not leave Tars Tarkas until
that had been accomplished.
In the distance lay our fleet of transports, with the thoats
of the green warriors, where they had remained during the battle.
Without landing stages it was to be a difficult matter to unload
these beasts upon the open plain, but there was nothing else for
it, and so we put out for a point about ten miles from the city
and began the task.
As soon as the last thoat was unloaded Tars Tarkas gave the
command to advance, and in three parties we crept upon the
Zodangan camp from the north, the south and the east.
We did not catch them napping, but found a well-entrenched
battle line confronting us. Time after time we were repulsed
until, toward noon, I began to fear for the result of the
Just at noon we heard heavy firing all along the line between
the Zodangans and the cities, and we knew then that our
much-needed reinforcements had come.
The plain before the city became a veritable shambles ere the
last Zodangan surrendered, but finally the carnage ceased, the
prisoners were marched back to Helium, and we entered the greater
city's gates, a huge triumphal procession of conquering
My fierce Tharks caused the wildest excitement and enthusiasm.
Never before had an armed body of green warriors entered the
gates of Helium, and that they came now as friends and allies
filled the red men with rejoicing.
As we approached this magnificent pile we were met by a party
of officers who greeted us warmly and requested that Tars Tarkas
and his jeds with the jeddaks and jeds of his wild allies,
together with myself, dismount and accompany them to receive from
Tardos Mors an expression of his gratitude for our services.
He was an almost perfect specimen of manhood; tall, straight
as an arrow, superbly muscled and with the carriage and bearing
of a ruler of men. I did not need to be told that he was Tardos
Mors, Jeddak of Helium.
"That Tardos Mors," he said, earnestly, "may meet the greatest
living warrior of Barsoom is a priceless honor, but that he may
lay his hand on the shoulder of a friend and ally is a far
Tardos Mors then greeted each of the green jeddaks and jeds,
and to each spoke words of friendship and appreciation
"Welcome, my son," he said; "that you are granted, gladly, and
without one word of opposition, the most precious jewel in all
Helium, yes, on all Barsoom, is sufficient earnest of my
He tried a dozen times to express his gratitude to me, but his
voice choked with emotion and he could not speak, and yet he had,
as I was to later learn, a reputation for ferocity and
fearlessness as a fighter that was remarkable even upon warlike
Barsoom. In common with all Helium he worshiped his daughter, nor
could he think of what she had escaped without deep emotion.
For ten days the hordes of Thark and their wild allies were
feasted and entertained, and, then, loaded with costly presents
and escorted by ten thousand soldiers of Helium commanded by Mors
Kajak, they started on the return journey to their own lands. The
jed of lesser Helium with a small party of nobles accompanied
them all the way to Thark to cement more closely the new bonds of
peace and friendship.
Sola also accompanied Tars Tarkas, her father, who before all
his chieftains had acknowledged her as his daughter.
For nine years I served in the councils and fought in the
armies of Helium as a prince of the house of Tardos Mors. The
people seemed never to tire of heaping honors upon me, and no day
passed that did not bring some new proof of their love for my
princess, the incomparable Dejah Thoris.
Vivid in my memory is the picture of the last night as we sat
there talking in low tones of the strange romance which had woven
our lives together and of this wonder which was coming to augment
our happiness and fulfill our hopes.
Flashing the signals which proclaimed it a dispatch bearer for
the jeddak, it circled impatiently awaiting the tardy patrol boat
which must convoy it to the palace docks.
On the raised platform of the throne was Tardos Mors, pacing
back and forth with tense-drawn face. When all were in their
seats he turned toward us.
"The ambassadors of the other nations asked us to take the
matter in hand and hasten the assistant keeper to the plant. All
day a thousand cruisers have been searching for him until just
now one of them returns bearing his dead body, which was found in
the pits beneath his house horribly mutilated by some
"My gentlemen," he concluded, "we have at best three days to
"The men of Helium have prided themselves that they have ever
shown Barsoom how a nation of red men should live, now is our
opportunity to show them how they should die. Let us go about our
duties as though a thousand useful years still lay before
When I returned to my palace I found that the rumor already
had reached Dejah Thoris, so I told her all that I had heard.
The next two days brought no noticeable change in the supply
of air, but on the morning of the third day breathing became
difficult at the higher altitudes of the rooftops. The avenues
and plazas of Helium were filled with people. All business had
ceased. For the most part the people looked bravely into the face
of their unalterable doom. Here and there, however, men and women
gave way to quiet grief.
Dejah Thoris and I with the other members of the royal family
had collected in a sunken garden within an inner courtyard of the
palace. We conversed in low tones, when we conversed at all, as
the awe of the grim shadow of death crept over us. Even Woola
seemed to feel the weight of the impending calamity, for he
pressed close to Dejah Thoris and to me, whining pitifully.
As it was becoming perceptibly difficult to breathe Tardos
Mors arose, saying,
He stooped and kissed the women of his family, and laid his
strong hand upon the shoulders of the men.
Her eyes opened and looked into mine.
As I pressed her dear lips to mine the old feeling of
unconquerable power and authority rose in me. The fighting blood
of Virginia sprang to life in my veins.
And with my words there crept above the threshold of my
conscious mind a series of nine long forgotten sounds. Like a
flash of lightning in the darkness their full purport dawned upon
me--the key to the three great doors of the atmosphere plant!
"A flier, Jeddak! Quick! Order your swiftest flier to the
palace top. I can save Barsoom yet."
Kissing Dejah Thoris a dozen times and commanding Woola, who
would have followed me, to remain and guard her, I bounded with
my old agility and strength to the high ramparts of the palace,
and in another moment I was headed toward the goal of the hopes
of all Barsoom.
I traveled with awful velocity for my errand was a race
against time with death. The face of Dejah Thoris hung always
before me. As I turned for a last look as I left the palace
garden I had seen her stagger and sink upon the ground beside the
little incubator. That she had dropped into the last coma which
would end in death, if the air supply remained unreplenished, I
well knew, and so, throwing caution to the winds, I flung
overboard everything but the engine and compass, even to my
ornaments, and lying on my belly along the deck with one hand on
the steering wheel and the other pushing the speed lever to its
last notch I split the thin air of dying Mars with the speed of a
Beside the door a great crew of men had been laboring to
pierce the wall, but they had scarcely scratched the flint-like
surface, and now most of them lay in the last sleep from which
not even air would awaken them.
"If I can open these doors is there a man who can start the
engines?" I asked.
I had no time to talk, I was becoming very weak and it was
with difficulty that I controlled my mind at all.
Slowly the mighty door receded before us. I attempted to rise
and follow it but I was too weak.
From where I lay I opened the second door, and then the third,
and as I saw the hope of Barsoom crawling weakly on hands and
knees through the last doorway I sank unconscious upon the
It was dark when I opened my eyes again. Strange, stiff garments
were upon my body; garments that cracked and powdered away from
me as I rose to a sitting posture.
I felt myself over from head to foot and from head to foot I
was clothed, though when I fell unconscious at the little doorway
I had been naked. Before me was a small patch of moonlit sky
which showed through a ragged aperture.
Behind her, depending from the roof upon rawhide thongs, and
stretching entirely across the cave, was a row of human
skeletons. From the thong which held them stretched another to
the dead hand of the little old woman; as I touched the cord the
skeletons swung to the motion with a noise as of the rustling of
The sight that met my eyes as I stepped out upon a small ledge
which ran before the entrance of the cave filled me with
Burying my head in my arms I turned, broken, and sorrowful,
down the trail from the cave.
Did the Martian reach the pump room? Did the vitalizing air
reach the people of that distant planet in time to save them? Was
my Dejah Thoris alive, or did her beautiful body lie cold in
death beside the tiny golden incubator in the sunken garden of
the inner courtyard of the palace of Tardos Mors, the jeddak of
The old mine, which I found untouched, has made me fabulously
wealthy; but what care I for wealth!
I can see her shining in the sky through the little window by
my desk, and tonight she seems calling to me again as she has not
called before since that long dead night, and I think I can see,
across that awful abyss of space, a beautiful black-haired woman
standing in the garden of a palace, and at her side is a little
boy who puts his arm around her as she points into the sky toward
the planet Earth, while at their feet is a huge and hideous
creature with a heart of gold.
End of The Project Gutenberg Etext of Princess of Mars by
Edgar Rice Burroughs