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they were accompanied by ten or fifteen other women and youths, who, it
seemed, formed the retinues of the two chieftains.

They were not their families, nor their wives, nor their servants; the
relationship was peculiar, and so unlike anything known to us that it
is most difficult to describe. All property among the green Martians
is owned in common by the community, except the personal weapons,
ornaments and sleeping silks and furs of the individuals. These alone
can one claim undisputed right to, nor may he accumulate more of these
than are required for his actual needs. The surplus he holds merely as
custodian, and it is passed on to the younger members of the community
as necessity demands.

The women and children of a man's retinue may be likened to a military
unit for which he is responsible in various ways, as in matters of
instruction, discipline, sustenance, and the exigencies of their
continual roamings and their unending strife with other communities and
with the red Martians. His women are in no sense wives. The green
Martians use no word corresponding in meaning with this earthly word.
Their mating is a matter of community interest solely, and is directed
without reference to natural selection. The council of chieftains of
each community control the matter as surely as the owner of a Kentucky
racing stud directs the scientific breeding of his stock for the
improvement of the whole.

In theory it may sound well, as is often the case with theories, but
the results of ages of this unnatural practice, coupled with the
community interest in the offspring being held paramount to that of the
mother, is shown in the cold, cruel creatures, and their gloomy,
loveless, mirthless existence.

It is true that the green Martians are absolutely virtuous, both men
and women, with the exception of such degenerates as Tal Hajus; but
better far a finer balance of human characteristics even at the expense
of a slight and occasional loss of chastity.

Finding that I must assume responsibility for these creatures, whether
I would or not, I made the best of it and directed them to find
quarters on the upper floors, leaving the third floor to me. One of
the girls I charged with the duties of my simple cuisine, and directed
the others to take up the various activities which had formerly
constituted their vocations. Thereafter I saw little of them, nor did
I care to.



Following the battle with the air ships, the community remained within
the city for several days, abandoning the homeward march until they
could feel reasonably assured that the ships would not return; for to
be caught on the open plains with a cavalcade of chariots and children
was far from the desire of even so warlike a people as the green

During our period of inactivity, Tars Tarkas had instructed me in many
of the customs and arts of war familiar to the Tharks, including
lessons in riding and guiding the great beasts which bore the warriors.
These creatures, which are known as thoats, are as dangerous and
vicious as their masters, but when once subdued are sufficiently
tractable for the purposes of the green Martians.

Two of these animals had fallen to me from the warriors whose metal I
wore, and in a short time I could handle them quite as well as the
native warriors. The method was not at all complicated. If the thoats
did not respond with sufficient celerity to the telepathic instructions
of their riders they were dealt a terrific blow between the ears with
the butt of a pistol, and if they showed fight this treatment was
continued until the brutes either were subdued, or had unseated their

In the latter case it became a life and death struggle between the man
and the beast. If the former were quick enough with his pistol he
might live to ride again, though upon some other beast; if not, his
torn and mangled body was gathered up by his women and burned in
accordance with Tharkian custom.

My experience with Woola determined me to attempt the experiment of
kindness in my treatment of my thoats. First I taught them that they
could not unseat me, and even rapped them sharply between the ears to
impress upon them my authority and mastery. Then, by degrees, I won
their confidence in much the same manner as I had adopted countless
times with my many mundane mounts. I was ever a good hand with
animals, and by inclination, as well as because it brought more lasting
and satisfactory results, I was always kind and humane in my dealings
with the lower orders. I could take a human life, if necessary, with
far less compunction than that of a poor, unreasoning, irresponsible

In the course of a few days my thoats were the wonder of the entire
community. They would follow me like dogs, rubbing their great snouts
against my body in awkward evidence of affection, and respond to my
every command with an alacrity and docility which caused the Martian
warriors to ascribe to me the possession of some earthly power unknown
on Mars.

"How have you bewitched them?" asked Tars Tarkas one afternoon, when he
had seen me run my arm far between the great jaws of one of my thoats
which had wedged a piece of stone between two of his teeth while
feeding upon the moss-like vegetation within our court yard.

"By kindness," I replied. "You see, Tars Tarkas, the softer sentiments
have their value, even to a warrior. In the height of battle as well
as upon the march I know that my thoats will obey my every command, and
therefore my fighting efficiency is enhanced, and I am a better warrior
for the reason that I am a kind master. Your other warriors would find
it to the advantage of themselves as well as of the community to adopt
my methods in this respect. Only a few days since you, yourself, told
me that these great brutes, by the uncertainty of their tempers, often
were the means of turning victory into defeat, since, at a crucial
moment, they might elect to unseat and rend their riders."

"Show me how you accomplish these results," was Tars Tarkas' only

And so I explained as carefully as I could the entire method of
training I had adopted with my beasts, and later he had me repeat it
before Lorquas Ptomel and the assembled warriors. That moment marked
the beginning of a new existence for the poor thoats, and before I left
the community of Lorquas Ptomel I had the satisfaction of observing a
regiment of as tractable and docile mounts as one might care to see.
The effect on the precision and celerity of the military movements was
so remarkable that Lorquas Ptomel presented me with a massive anklet of
gold from his own leg, as a sign of his appreciation of my service to
the horde.

On the seventh day following the battle with the air craft we again
took up the march toward Thark, all probability of another attack being
deemed remote by Lorquas Ptomel.

During the days just preceding our departure I had seen but little of
Dejah Thoris, as I had been kept very busy by Tars Tarkas with my
lessons in the art of Martian warfare, as well as in the training of my
thoats. The few times I had visited her quarters she had been absent,
walking upon the streets with Sola, or investigating the buildings in
the near vicinity of the plaza. I had warned them against venturing
far from the plaza for fear of the great white apes, whose ferocity I
was only too well acquainted with. However, since Woola accompanied
them on all their excursions, and as Sola was well armed, there was
comparatively little cause for fear.

On the evening before our departure I saw them approaching along one of
the great avenues which lead into the plaza from the east. I advanced
to meet them, and telling Sola that I would take the responsibility for
Dejah Thoris' safekeeping, I directed her to return to her quarters on
some trivial errand. I liked and trusted Sola, but for some reason I
desired to be alone with Dejah Thoris, who represented to me all that I
had left behind upon Earth in agreeable and congenial companionship.
There seemed bonds of mutual interest between us as powerful as though
we had been born under the same roof rather than upon different
planets, hurtling through space some forty-eight million miles apart.

That she shared my sentiments in this respect I was positive, for on my
approach the look of pitiful hopelessness left her sweet countenance to
be replaced by a smile of joyful welcome, as she placed her little
right hand upon my left shoulder in true red Martian salute.

"Sarkoja told Sola that you had become a true Thark," she said, "and
that I would now see no more of you than of any of the other warriors."

"Sarkoja is a liar of the first magnitude," I replied, "notwithstanding
the proud claim of the Tharks to absolute verity."

Dejah Thoris laughed.

"I knew that even though you became a member of the community you would
not cease to be my friend; 'A warrior may change his metal, but not his
heart,' as the saying is upon Barsoom."

"I think they have been trying to keep us apart," she continued, "for
whenever you have been off duty one of the older women of Tars Tarkas'
retinue has always arranged to trump up some excuse to get Sola and me
out of sight. They have had me down in the pits below the buildings
helping them mix their awful radium powder, and make their terrible
projectiles. You know that these have to be manufactured by artificial
light, as exposure to sunlight always results in an explosion. You
have noticed that their bullets explode when they strike an object?
Well, the opaque, outer coating is broken by the impact, exposing a
glass cylinder, almost solid, in the forward end of which is a minute
particle of radium powder. The moment the sunlight, even though
diffused, strikes this powder it explodes with a violence which nothing
can withstand. If you ever witness a night battle you will note the
absence of these explosions, while the morning following the battle
will be filled at sunrise with the sharp detonations of exploding
missiles fired the preceding night. As a rule, however, non-exploding
projectiles are used at night." [I have used the word radium in
describing this powder because in the light of recent discoveries on
Earth I believe it to be a mixture of which radium is the base. In
Captain Carter's manuscript it is mentioned always by the name used in
the written language of Helium and is spelled in hieroglyphics which it
would be difficult and useless to reproduce.]

While I was much interested in Dejah Thoris' explanation of this
wonderful adjunct to Martian warfare, I was more concerned by the
immediate problem of their treatment of her. That they were keeping
her away from me was not a matter for surprise, but that they should
subject her to dangerous and arduous labor filled me with rage.

"Have they ever subjected you to cruelty and ignominy, Dejah Thoris?" I
asked, feeling the hot blood of my fighting ancestors leap in my veins
as I awaited her reply.

"Only in little ways, John Carter," she answered. "Nothing that can
harm me outside my pride. They know that I am the daughter of ten
thousand jeddaks, that I trace my ancestry straight back without a
break to the builder of the first great waterway, and they, who do not
even know their own mothers, are jealous of me. At heart they hate
their horrid fates, and so wreak their poor spite on me who stand for
everything they have not, and for all they most crave and never can
attain. Let us pity them, my chieftain, for even though we die at
their hands we can afford them pity, since we are greater than they and
they know it."

Had I known the significance of those words "my chieftain," as applied
by a red Martian woman to a man, I should have had the surprise of my
life, but I did not know at that time, nor for many months thereafter.
Yes, I still had much to learn upon Barsoom.

"I presume it is the better part of wisdom that we bow to our fate with
as good grace as possible, Dejah Thoris; but I hope, nevertheless, that
I may be present the next time that any Martian, green, red, pink, or
violet, has the temerity to even so much as frown on you, my princess."

Dejah Thoris caught her breath at my last words, and gazed upon me with
dilated eyes and quickening breath, and then, with an odd little laugh,
which brought roguish dimples to the corners of her mouth, she shook
her head and cried:

"What a child! A great warrior and yet a stumbling little child."

"What have I done now?" I asked, in sore perplexity.

"Some day you shall know, John Carter, if we live; but I may not tell
you. And I, the daughter of Mors Kajak, son of Tardos Mors, have
listened without anger," she soliloquized in conclusion.

Then she broke out again into one of her gay, happy, laughing moods;
joking with me on my prowess as a Thark warrior as contrasted with my
soft heart and natural kindliness.

"I presume that should you accidentally wound an enemy you would take
him home and nurse him back to health," she laughed.

"That is precisely what we do on Earth," I answered. "At least among
civilized men."

This made her laugh again. She could not understand it, for, with all
her tenderness and womanly sweetness, she was still a Martian, and to a
Martian the only good enemy is a dead enemy; for every dead foeman
means so much more to divide between those who live.

I was very curious to know what I had said or done to cause her so much
perturbation a moment before and so I continued to importune her to
enlighten me.

"No," she exclaimed, "it is enough that you have said it and that I
have listened. And when you learn, John Carter, and if I be dead, as
likely I shall be ere the further moon has circled Barsoom another
twelve times, remember that I listened and that I - smiled."

It was all Greek to me, but the more I begged her to explain the more
positive became her denials of my request, and, so, in very
hopelessness, I desisted.

Day had now given away to night and as we wandered along the great
avenue lighted by the two moons of Barsoom, and with Earth looking down
upon us out of her luminous green eye, it seemed that we were alone in
the universe, and I, at least, was content that it should be so.

The chill of the Martian night was upon us, and removing my silks I
threw them across the shoulders of Dejah Thoris. As my arm rested for
an instant upon her I felt a thrill pass through every fiber of my
being such as contact with no other mortal had even produced; and it
seemed to me that she had leaned slightly toward me, but of that I was
not sure. Only I knew that as my arm rested there across her shoulders
longer than the act of adjusting the silk required she did not draw
away, nor did she speak. And so, in silence, we walked the surface of
a dying world, but in the breast of one of us at least had been born
that which is ever oldest, yet ever new.

I loved Dejah Thoris. The touch of my arm upon her naked shoulder had
spoken to me in words I would not mistake, and I knew that I had loved
her since the first moment that my eyes had met hers that first time in
the plaza of the dead city of Korad.



My first impulse was to tell her of my love, and then I thought of the
helplessness of her position wherein I alone could lighten the burdens
of her captivity, and protect her in my poor way against the thousands
of hereditary enemies she must face upon our arrival at Thark. I could
not chance causing her additional pain or sorrow by declaring a love
which, in all probability she did not return. Should I be so
indiscreet, her position would be even more unbearable than now, and
the thought that she might feel that I was taking advantage of her
helplessness, to influence her decision was the final argument which
sealed my lips.

"Why are you so quiet, Dejah Thoris?" I asked. "Possibly you would
rather return to Sola and your quarters."

"No," she murmured, "I am happy here. I do not know why it is that I
should always be happy and contented when you, John Carter, a stranger,
are with me; yet at such times it seems that I am safe and that, with
you, I shall soon return to my father's court and feel his strong arms
about me and my mother's tears and kisses on my cheek."

"Do people kiss, then, upon Barsoom?" I asked, when she had explained
the word she used, in answer to my inquiry as to its meaning.

"Parents, brothers, and sisters, yes; and," she added in a low,
thoughtful tone, "lovers."

"And you, Dejah Thoris, have parents and brothers and sisters?"


"And a - lover?"

She was silent, nor could I venture to repeat the question.

"The man of Barsoom," she finally ventured, "does not ask personal
questions of women, except his mother, and the woman he has fought for
and won."

"But I have fought - " I started, and then I wished my tongue had been
cut from my mouth; for she turned even as I caught myself and ceased,
and drawing my silks from her shoulder she held them out to me, and
without a word, and with head held high, she moved with the carriage of
the queen she was toward the plaza and the doorway of her quarters.

I did not attempt to follow her, other than to see that she reached the
building in safety, but, directing Woola to accompany her, I turned
disconsolately and entered my own house. I sat for hours cross-legged,
and cross-tempered, upon my silks meditating upon the queer freaks
chance plays upon us poor devils of mortals.

So this was love! I had escaped it for all the years I had roamed the
five continents and their encircling seas; in spite of beautiful women
and urging opportunity; in spite of a half-desire for love and a
constant search for my ideal, it had remained for me to fall furiously
and hopelessly in love with a creature from another world, of a species
similar possibly, yet not identical with mine. A woman who was hatched
from an egg, and whose span of life might cover a thousand years; whose
people had strange customs and ideas; a woman whose hopes, whose
pleasures, whose standards of virtue and of right and wrong might vary
as greatly from mine as did those of the green Martians.

Yes, I was a fool, but I was in love, and though I was suffering the
greatest misery I had ever known I would not have had it otherwise for
all the riches of Barsoom. Such is love, and such are lovers wherever
love is known.

To me, Dejah Thoris was all that was perfect; all that was virtuous and
beautiful and noble and good. I believed that from the bottom of my
heart, from the depth of my soul on that night in Korad as I sat
cross-legged upon my silks while the nearer moon of Barsoom raced
through the western sky toward the horizon, and lighted up the gold and
marble, and jeweled mosaics of my world-old chamber, and I believe it
today as I sit at my desk in the little study overlooking the Hudson.
Twenty years have intervened; for ten of them I lived and fought for
Dejah Thoris and her people, and for ten I have lived upon her memory.

The morning of our departure for Thark dawned clear and hot, as do all
Martian mornings except for the six weeks when the snow melts at the

I sought out Dejah Thoris in the throng of departing chariots, but she
turned her shoulder to me, and I could see the red blood mount to her
cheek. With the foolish inconsistency of love I held my peace when I
might have pled ignorance of the nature of my offense, or at least the
gravity of it, and so have effected, at worst, a half conciliation.

[Illustration: I sought out Dejah Thoris in the throng of departing

My duty dictated that I must see that she was comfortable, and so I
glanced into her chariot and rearranged her silks and furs. In doing
so I noted with horror that she was heavily chained by one ankle to the
side of the vehicle.

"What does this mean?" I cried, turning to Sola.

"Sarkoja thought it best," she answered, her face betokening her
disapproval of the procedure.

Examining the manacles I saw that they fastened with a massive spring

"Where is the key, Sola? Let me have it."

"Sarkoja wears it, John Carter," she answered.

I turned without further word and sought out Tars Tarkas, to whom I
vehemently objected to the unnecessary humiliations and cruelties, as
they seemed to my lover's eyes, that were being heaped upon Dejah

"John Carter," he answered, "if ever you and Dejah Thoris escape the
Tharks it will be upon this journey. We know that you will not go
without her. You have shown yourself a mighty fighter, and we do not
wish to manacle you, so we hold you both in the easiest way that will
yet ensure security. I have spoken."

I saw the strength of his reasoning at a flash, and knew that it was
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

"This much, Tars Tarkas, you may do for me in return for the friendship
that, I must confess, I feel for you."

"Friendship?" he replied. "There is no such thing, John Carter; but
have your will. I shall direct that Sarkoja cease to annoy the girl,
and I myself will take the custody of the key."

"Unless you wish me to assume the responsibility," I said, smiling.

He looked at me long and earnestly before he spoke.

"Were you to give me your word that neither you nor Dejah Thoris would
attempt to escape until after we have safely reached the court of Tal
Hajus you might have the key and throw the chains into the river Iss."

"It was better that you held the key, Tars Tarkas," I replied

He smiled, and said no more, but that night as we were making camp I
saw him unfasten Dejah Thoris' fetters himself.

With all his cruel ferocity and coldness there was an undercurrent of
something in Tars Tarkas which he seemed ever battling to subdue.
Could it be a vestige of some human instinct come back from an ancient
forbear to haunt him with the horror of his people's ways!

As I was approaching Dejah Thoris' chariot I passed Sarkoja, and the
black, venomous look she accorded me was the sweetest balm I had felt
for many hours. Lord, how she hated me! It bristled from her so
palpably that one might almost have cut it with a sword.

A few moments later I saw her deep in conversation with a warrior named
Zad; a big, hulking, powerful brute, but one who had never made a kill
among his own chieftains, and so was still an _o mad_, or man with
one name; he could win a second name only with the metal of some
chieftain. It was this custom which entitled me to the names of either
of the chieftains I had killed; in fact, some of the warriors addressed
me as Dotar Sojat, a combination of the surnames of the two warrior
chieftains whose metal I had taken, or, in other words, whom I had
slain in fair fight.

As Sarkoja talked with Zad he cast occasional glances in my direction,
while she seemed to be urging him very strongly to some action. I paid
little attention to it at the time, but the next day I had good reason
to recall the circumstances, and at the same time gain a slight insight
into the depths of Sarkoja's hatred and the lengths to which she was
capable of going to wreak her horrid vengeance on me.

Dejah Thoris would have none of me again on this evening, and though I
spoke her name she neither replied, nor conceded by so much as the
flutter of an eyelid that she realized my existence. In my extremity I
did what most other lovers would have done; I sought word from her
through an intimate. In this instance it was Sola whom I intercepted
in another part of camp.

"What is the matter with Dejah Thoris?" I blurted out at her. "Why
will she not speak to me?"

Sola seemed puzzled herself, as though such strange actions on the part
of two humans were quite beyond her, as indeed they were, poor child.

"She says you have angered her, and that is all she will say, except
that she is the daughter of a jed and the granddaughter of a jeddak and
she has been humiliated by a creature who could not polish the teeth of
her grandmother's sorak."

I pondered over this report for some time, finally asking, "What might
a sorak be, Sola?"

"A little animal about as big as my hand, which the red Martian women
keep to play with," explained Sola.

Not fit to polish the teeth of her grandmother's cat! I must rank
pretty low in the consideration of Dejah Thoris, I thought; but I could
not help laughing at the strange figure of speech, so homely and in
this respect so earthly. It made me homesick, for it sounded very much

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Online LibraryEdgar Rice BurroughsA Princess of Mars → online text (page 7 of 16)