A Princess of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
Part 1 out of 4
Corrections supplied in November 2001 by Andrew Sly.
Illustrations for the HTML format provided by Tim Holmes.
A PRINCESS OF MARS
by Edgar Rice Burroughs
To My Son Jack
To the Reader of this Work:
In submitting Captain Carter's strange manuscript to you in book
form, I believe that a few words relative to this remarkable
personality will be of interest.
My first recollection of Captain Carter is of the few months he
spent at my father's home in Virginia, just prior to the opening of
the civil war. I was then a child of but five years, yet I well
remember the tall, dark, smooth-faced, athletic man whom I called
He seemed always to be laughing; and he entered into the sports
of the children with the same hearty good fellowship he displayed
toward those pastimes in which the men and women of his own age
indulged; or he would sit for an hour at a time entertaining my old
grandmother with stories of his strange, wild life in all parts of
the world. We all loved him, and our slaves fairly worshipped the
ground he trod.
He was a splendid specimen of manhood, standing a good two inches
over six feet, broad of shoulder and narrow of hip, with the
carriage of the trained fighting man. His features were regular
and clear cut, his hair black and closely cropped, while his eyes
were of a steel gray, reflecting a strong and loyal character,
filled with fire and initiative. His manners were perfect, and
his courtliness was that of a typical southern gentleman of the
His horsemanship, especially after hounds, was a marvel and delight
even in that country of magnificent horsemen. I have often heard
my father caution him against his wild recklessness, but he would
only laugh, and say that the tumble that killed him would be from
the back of a horse yet unfoaled.
When the war broke out he left us, nor did I see him again for some
fifteen or sixteen years. When he returned it was without warning,
and I was much surprised to note that he had not aged apparently a
moment, nor had he changed in any other outward way. He was, when
others were with him, the same genial, happy fellow we had known of
old, but when he thought himself alone I have seen him sit for
hours gazing off into space, his face set in a look of wistful
longing and hopeless misery; and at night he would sit thus looking
up into the heavens, at what I did not know until I read his
manuscript years afterward.
He told us that he had been prospecting and mining in Arizona part
of the time since the war; and that he had been very successful
was evidenced by the unlimited amount of money with which he was
supplied. As to the details of his life during these years he
was very reticent, in fact he would not talk of them at all.
He remained with us for about a year and then went to New York,
where he purchased a little place on the Hudson, where I visited
him once a year on the occasions of my trips to the New York
market--my father and I owning and operating a string of general
stores throughout Virginia at that time. Captain Carter had a
small but beautiful cottage, situated on a bluff overlooking the
river, and during one of my last visits, in the winter of 1885, I
observed he was much occupied in writing, I presume now, upon this
He told me at this time that if anything should happen to him he
wished me to take charge of his estate, and he gave me a key to a
compartment in the safe which stood in his study, telling me I
would find his will there and some personal instructions which he
had me pledge myself to carry out with absolute fidelity.
After I had retired for the night I have seen him from my window
standing in the moonlight on the brink of the bluff overlooking the
Hudson with his arms stretched out to the heavens as though in
appeal. I thought at the time that he was praying, although I never
understood that he was in the strict sense of the term a religious
Several months after I had returned home from my last visit, the
first of March, 1886, I think, I received a telegram from him asking
me to come to him at once. I had always been his favorite among the
younger generation of Carters and so I hastened to comply with his
I arrived at the little station, about a mile from his grounds, on
the morning of March 4, 1886, and when I asked the livery man to
drive me out to Captain Carter's he replied that if I was a friend
of the Captain's he had some very bad news for me; the Captain had
been found dead shortly after daylight that very morning by the
watchman attached to an adjoining property.
For some reason this news did not surprise me, but I hurried out to
his place as quickly as possible, so that I could take charge of the
body and of his affairs.
I found the watchman who had discovered him, together with the local
police chief and several townspeople, assembled in his little study.
The watchman related the few details connected with the finding of
the body, which he said had been still warm when he came upon it.
It lay, he said, stretched full length in the snow with the arms
outstretched above the head toward the edge of the bluff, and when
he showed me the spot it flashed upon me that it was the identical
one where I had seen him on those other nights, with his arms
raised in supplication to the skies.
There were no marks of violence on the body, and with the aid of a
local physician the coroner's jury quickly reached a decision of
death from heart failure. Left alone in the study, I opened the
safe and withdrew the contents of the drawer in which he had told
me I would find my instructions. They were in part peculiar
indeed, but I have followed them to each last detail as faithfully
as I was able.
He directed that I remove his body to Virginia without embalming,
and that he be laid in an open coffin within a tomb which he
previously had had constructed and which, as I later learned, was
well ventilated. The instructions impressed upon me that I must
personally see that this was carried out just as he directed,
even in secrecy if necessary.
His property was left in such a way that I was to receive the
entire income for twenty-five years, when the principal was to
become mine. His further instructions related to this manuscript
which I was to retain sealed and unread, just as I found it, for
eleven years; nor was I to divulge its contents until twenty-one
years after his death.
A strange feature about the tomb, where his body still lies, is
that the massive door is equipped with a single, huge gold-plated
spring lock which can be opened _only from the inside_.
Yours very sincerely,
Edgar Rice Burroughs.
I On the Arizona Hills
II The Escape of the Dead
III My Advent on Mars
IV A Prisoner
V I Elude My Watch Dog
VI A Fight That Won Friends
VII Child-Raising on Mars
VIII A Fair Captive from the Sky
IX I Learn the Language
X Champion and Chief
XI With Dejah Thoris
XII A Prisoner with Power
XIII Love-Making on Mars
XIV A Duel to the Death
XV Sola Tells Me Her Story
XVI We Plan Escape
XVII A Costly Recapture
XVIII Chained in Warhoon
XIX Battling in the Arena
XX In the Atmosphere Factory
XXI An Air Scout for Zodanga
XXII I Find Dejah
XXIII Lost in the Sky
XXIV Tars Tarkas Finds a Friend
XXV The Looting of Zodanga
XXVI Through Carnage to Joy
XXVII From Joy to Death
XXVIII At the Arizona Cave
ON THE ARIZONA HILLS
I am a very old man; how old I do not know. Possibly I am a
hundred, possibly more; but I cannot tell because I have never aged
as other men, nor do I remember any childhood. So far as I can
recollect I have always been a man, a man of about thirty. I appear
today as I did forty years and more ago, and yet I feel that I
cannot go on living forever; that some day I shall die the real
death from which there is no resurrection. I do not know why I
should fear death, I who have died twice and am still alive; but yet
I have the same horror of it as you who have never died, and it is
because of this terror of death, I believe, that I am so convinced
of my mortality.
And because of this conviction I have determined to write down the
story of the interesting periods of my life and of my death. I
cannot explain the phenomena; I can only set down here in the words
of an ordinary soldier of fortune a chronicle of the strange events
that befell me during the ten years that my dead body lay
undiscovered in an Arizona cave.
I have never told this story, nor shall mortal man see this
manuscript until after I have passed over for eternity. I know that
the average human mind will not believe what it cannot grasp, and so
I do not purpose being pilloried by the public, the pulpit, and the
press, and held up as a colossal liar when I am but telling the
simple truths which some day science will substantiate. Possibly
the suggestions which I gained upon Mars, and the knowledge which I
can set down in this chronicle, will aid in an earlier understanding
of the mysteries of our sister planet; mysteries to you, but no
longer mysteries to me.
My name is John Carter; I am better known as Captain Jack Carter of
Virginia. At the close of the Civil War I found myself possessed
of several hundred thousand dollars (Confederate) and a captain's
commission in the cavalry arm of an army which no longer existed;
the servant of a state which had vanished with the hopes of the
South. Masterless, penniless, and with my only means of livelihood,
fighting, gone, I determined to work my way to the southwest and
attempt to retrieve my fallen fortunes in a search for gold.
I spent nearly a year prospecting in company with another
Confederate officer, Captain James K. Powell of Richmond. We
were extremely fortunate, for late in the winter of 1865, after
many hardships and privations, we located the most remarkable
gold-bearing quartz vein that our wildest dreams had ever pictured.
Powell, who was a mining engineer by education, stated that we had
uncovered over a million dollars worth of ore in a trifle over three
As our equipment was crude in the extreme we decided that one of us
must return to civilization, purchase the necessary machinery and
return with a sufficient force of men properly to work the mine.
As Powell was familiar with the country, as well as with the
mechanical requirements of mining we determined that it would be
best for him to make the trip. It was agreed that I was to hold
down our claim against the remote possibility of its being jumped
by some wandering prospector.
On March 3, 1866, Powell and I packed his provisions on two of our
burros, and bidding me good-bye he mounted his horse, and started
down the mountainside toward the valley, across which led the first
stage of his journey.
The morning of Powell's departure was, like nearly all Arizona
mornings, clear and beautiful; I could see him and his little pack
animals picking their way down the mountainside toward the valley,
and all during the morning I would catch occasional glimpses of them
as they topped a hog back or came out upon a level plateau. My last
sight of Powell was about three in the afternoon as he entered the
shadows of the range on the opposite side of the valley.
Some half hour later I happened to glance casually across the valley
and was much surprised to note three little dots in about the same
place I had last seen my friend and his two pack animals. I am not
given to needless worrying, but the more I tried to convince myself
that all was well with Powell, and that the dots I had seen on his
trail were antelope or wild horses, the less I was able to assure
Since we had entered the territory we had not seen a hostile Indian,
and we had, therefore, become careless in the extreme, and were wont
to ridicule the stories we had heard of the great numbers of these
vicious marauders that were supposed to haunt the trails, taking
their toll in lives and torture of every white party which fell into
their merciless clutches.
Powell, I knew, was well armed and, further, an experienced Indian
fighter; but I too had lived and fought for years among the Sioux in
the North, and I knew that his chances were small against a party of
cunning trailing Apaches. Finally I could endure the suspense no
longer, and, arming myself with my two Colt revolvers and a carbine,
I strapped two belts of cartridges about me and catching my saddle
horse, started down the trail taken by Powell in the morning.
As soon as I reached comparatively level ground I urged my mount
into a canter and continued this, where the going permitted, until,
close upon dusk, I discovered the point where other tracks joined
those of Powell. They were the tracks of unshod ponies, three of
them, and the ponies had been galloping.
I followed rapidly until, darkness shutting down, I was forced to
await the rising of the moon, and given an opportunity to speculate
on the question of the wisdom of my chase. Possibly I had conjured
up impossible dangers, like some nervous old housewife, and when
I should catch up with Powell would get a good laugh for my pains.
However, I am not prone to sensitiveness, and the following of a
sense of duty, wherever it may lead, has always been a kind of
fetich with me throughout my life; which may account for the honors
bestowed upon me by three republics and the decorations and
friendships of an old and powerful emperor and several lesser kings,
in whose service my sword has been red many a time.
About nine o'clock the moon was sufficiently bright for me to
proceed on my way and I had no difficulty in following the trail
at a fast walk, and in some places at a brisk trot until, about
midnight, I reached the water hole where Powell had expected to
camp. I came upon the spot unexpectedly, finding it entirely
deserted, with no signs of having been recently occupied as a camp.
I was interested to note that the tracks of the pursuing horsemen,
for such I was now convinced they must be, continued after Powell
with only a brief stop at the hole for water; and always at the same
rate of speed as his.
I was positive now that the trailers were Apaches and that they
wished to capture Powell alive for the fiendish pleasure of the
torture, so I urged my horse onward at a most dangerous pace, hoping
against hope that I would catch up with the red rascals before they
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.
I had forged ahead for perhaps a mile or more without hearing
further sounds, when the trail suddenly debouched onto a small, open
plateau near the summit of the pass. I had passed through a narrow,
overhanging gorge just before entering suddenly upon this table
land, and the sight which met my eyes filled me with consternation
The little stretch of level land was white with Indian tepees, and
there were probably half a thousand red warriors clustered around
some object near the center of the camp. Their attention was so
wholly riveted to this point of interest that they did not notice
me, and I easily could have turned back into the dark recesses of
the gorge and made my escape with perfect safety. The fact,
however, that this thought did not occur to me until the following
day removes any possible right to a claim to heroism to which the
narration of this episode might possibly otherwise entitle me.
I do not believe that I am made of the stuff which constitutes
heroes, because, in all of the hundreds of instances that my
voluntary acts have placed me face to face with death, I cannot
recall a single one where any alternative step to that I took
occurred to me until many hours later. My mind is evidently so
constituted that I am subconsciously forced into the path of duty
without recourse to tiresome mental processes. However that may be,
I have never regretted that cowardice is not optional with me.
In this instance I was, of course, positive that Powell was the
center of attraction, but whether I thought or acted first I do not
know, but within an instant from the moment the scene broke upon my
view I had whipped out my revolvers and was charging down upon the
entire army of warriors, shooting rapidly, and whooping at the top
of my lungs. Singlehanded, I could not have pursued better tactics,
for the red men, convinced by sudden surprise that not less than a
regiment of regulars was upon them, turned and fled in every
direction for their bows, arrows, and rifles.
The view which their hurried routing disclosed filled me with
apprehension and with rage. Under the clear rays of the Arizona
moon lay Powell, his body fairly bristling with the hostile arrows
of the braves. That he was already dead I could not but be
convinced, and yet I would have saved his body from mutilation at
the hands of the Apaches as quickly as I would have saved the man
himself from death.
Riding close to him I reached down from the saddle, and grasping
his cartridge belt drew him up across the withers of my mount. A
backward glance convinced me that to return by the way I had come
would be more hazardous than to continue across the plateau, so,
putting spurs to my poor beast, I made a dash for the opening to the
pass which I could distinguish on the far side of the table land.
The Indians had by this time discovered that I was alone and I was
pursued with imprecations, arrows, and rifle balls. The fact that
it is difficult to aim anything but imprecations accurately by
moonlight, that they were upset by the sudden and unexpected manner
of my advent, and that I was a rather rapidly moving target saved me
from the various deadly projectiles of the enemy and permitted me to
reach the shadows of the surrounding peaks before an orderly pursuit
could be organized.
My horse was traveling practically unguided as I knew that I had
probably less knowledge of the exact location of the trail to the
pass than he, and thus it happened that he entered a defile which
led to the summit of the range and not to the pass which I had
hoped would carry me to the valley and to safety. It is probable,
however, that to this fact I owe my life and the remarkable
experiences and adventures which befell me during the following
My first knowledge that I was on the wrong trail came when I heard
the yells of the pursuing savages suddenly grow fainter and fainter
far off to my left.
I knew then that they had passed to the left of the jagged rock
formation at the edge of the plateau, to the right of which my
horse had borne me and the body of Powell.
I drew rein on a little level promontory overlooking the trail below
and to my left, and saw the party of pursuing savages disappearing
around the point of a neighboring peak.
I knew the Indians would soon discover that they were on the wrong
trail and that the search for me would be renewed in the right
direction as soon as they located my tracks.
I had gone but a short distance further when what seemed to be an
excellent trail opened up around the face of a high cliff. The
trail was level and quite broad and led upward and in the general
direction I wished to go. The cliff arose for several hundred feet
on my right, and on my left was an equal and nearly perpendicular
drop to the bottom of a rocky ravine.
I had followed this trail for perhaps a hundred yards when a sharp
turn to the right brought me to the mouth of a large cave. The
opening was about four feet in height and three to four feet wide,
and at this opening the trail ended.
It was now morning, and, with the customary lack of dawn which is a
startling characteristic of Arizona, it had become daylight almost
Dismounting, I laid Powell upon the ground, but the most painstaking
examination failed to reveal the faintest spark of life. I forced
water from my canteen between his dead lips, bathed his face and
rubbed his hands, working over him continuously for the better part
of an hour in the face of the fact that I knew him to be dead.
I was very fond of Powell; he was thoroughly a man in every respect;
a polished southern gentleman; a staunch and true friend; and it was
with a feeling of the deepest grief that I finally gave up my crude
endeavors at resuscitation.
Leaving Powell's body where it lay on the ledge I crept into the
cave to reconnoiter. I found a large chamber, possibly a hundred
feet in diameter and thirty or forty feet in height; a smooth and
well-worn floor, and many other evidences that the cave had, at some
remote period, been inhabited. The back of the cave was so lost in
dense shadow that I could not distinguish whether there were
openings into other apartments or not.
As I was continuing my examination I commenced to feel a pleasant
drowsiness creeping over me which I attributed to the fatigue of my
long and strenuous ride, and the reaction from the excitement of the
fight and the pursuit. I felt comparatively safe in my present
location as I knew that one man could defend the trail to the cave
against an army.
I soon became so drowsy that I could scarcely resist the strong
desire to throw myself on the floor of the cave for a few moments'
rest, but I knew that this would never do, as it would mean certain
death at the hands of my red friends, who might be upon me at any
moment. With an effort I started toward the opening of the cave
only to reel drunkenly against a side wall, and from there slip
prone upon the floor.
THE ESCAPE OF THE DEAD
A sense of delicious dreaminess overcame me, my muscles relaxed,
and I was on the point of giving way to my desire to sleep when the
sound of approaching horses reached my ears. I attempted to spring
to my feet but was horrified to discover that my muscles refused to
respond to my will. I was now thoroughly awake, but as unable to
move a muscle as though turned to stone. It was then, for the first
time, that I noticed a slight vapor filling the cave. It was
extremely tenuous and only noticeable against the opening which led
to daylight. There also came to my nostrils a faintly pungent odor,
and I could only assume that I had been overcome by some poisonous
gas, but why I should retain my mental faculties and yet be unable
to move I could not fathom.
I lay facing the opening of the cave and where I could see the short
stretch of trail which lay between the cave and the turn of the
cliff around which the trail led. The noise of the approaching
horses had ceased, and I judged the Indians were creeping stealthily
upon me along the little ledge which led to my living tomb. I
remember that I hoped they would make short work of me as I did not
particularly relish the thought of the innumerable things they might
do to me if the spirit prompted them.
I had not long to wait before a stealthy sound apprised me of their
nearness, and then a war-bonneted, paint-streaked face was thrust
cautiously around the shoulder of the cliff, and savage eyes looked
into mine. That he could see me in the dim light of the cave I was
sure for the early morning sun was falling full upon me through the
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.
Suddenly a low but distinct moaning sound issued from the recesses
of the cave behind me, and, as it reached the ears of the Indians,
they turned and fled in terror, panic-stricken. So frantic were
their efforts to escape from the unseen thing behind me that one of
the braves was hurled headlong from the cliff to the rocks below.
Their wild cries echoed in the canyon for a short time, and then
all was still once more.
The sound which had frightened them was not repeated, but it had
been sufficient as it was to start me speculating on the possible
horror which lurked in the shadows at my back. Fear is a relative
term and so I can only measure my feelings at that time by what I
had experienced in previous positions of danger and by those that I
have passed through since; but I can say without shame that if the
sensations I endured during the next few minutes were fear, then may
God help the coward, for cowardice is of a surety its own
To be held paralyzed, with one's back toward some horrible and
unknown danger from the very sound of which the ferocious Apache
warriors turn in wild stampede, as a flock of sheep would madly
flee from a pack of wolves, seems to me the last word in fearsome
predicaments for a man who had ever been used to fighting for his
life with all the energy of a powerful physique.
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
Late in the afternoon my horse, which had been standing with
dragging rein before the cave, started slowly down the trail,
evidently in search of food and water, and I was left alone with
my mysterious unknown companion and the dead body of my friend,
which lay just within my range of vision upon the ledge where I
had placed it in the early morning.
From then until possibly midnight all was silence, the silence of
the dead; then, suddenly, the awful moan of the morning broke upon
my startled ears, and there came again from the black shadows the
sound of a moving thing, and a faint rustling as of dead leaves.
The shock to my already overstrained nervous system was terrible in
the extreme, and with a superhuman effort I strove to break my awful
bonds. It was an effort of the mind, of the will, of the nerves;
not muscular, for I could not move even so much as my little finger,
but none the less mighty for all that. And then something gave,
there was a momentary feeling of nausea, a sharp click as of the
snapping of a steel wire, and I stood with my back against the wall
of the cave facing my unknown foe.
And then the moonlight flooded the cave, and there before me lay my
own body as it had been lying all these hours, with the eyes staring
toward the open ledge and the hands resting limply upon the ground.
I looked first at my lifeless clay there upon the floor of the cave
and then down at myself in utter bewilderment; for there I lay
clothed, and yet here I stood but naked as at the minute of my
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.
Again was I suddenly recalled to my immediate surroundings by a
repetition of the weird moan from the depths of the cave. Naked and
unarmed as I was, I had no desire to face the unseen thing which
My revolvers were strapped to my lifeless body which, for some
unfathomable reason, I could not bring myself to touch. My carbine
was in its boot, strapped to my saddle, and as my horse had wandered
off I was left without means of defense. My only alternative seemed
to lie in flight and my decision was crystallized by a recurrence of
the rustling sound from the thing which now seemed, in the darkness
of the cave and to my distorted imagination, to be creeping
stealthily upon me.
Unable longer to resist the temptation to escape this horrible place
I leaped quickly through the opening into the starlight of a clear
Arizona night. The crisp, fresh mountain air outside the cave acted
as an immediate tonic and I felt new life and new courage coursing
through me. Pausing upon the brink of the ledge I upbraided myself
for what now seemed to me wholly unwarranted apprehension. I
reasoned with myself that I had lain helpless for many hours within
the cave, yet nothing had molested me, and my better judgment, when
permitted the direction of clear and logical reasoning, convinced me
that the noises I had heard must have resulted from purely natural
and harmless causes; probably the conformation of the cave was such
that a slight breeze had caused the sounds I heard.
I decided to investigate, but first I lifted my head to fill my
lungs with the pure, invigorating night air of the mountains. As I
did so I saw stretching far below me the beautiful vista of rocky
gorge, and level, cacti-studded flat, wrought by the moonlight into
a miracle of soft splendor and wondrous enchantment.
Few western wonders are more inspiring than the beauties of an
Arizona moonlit landscape; the silvered mountains in the distance,
the strange lights and shadows upon hog back and arroyo, and the
grotesque details of the stiff, yet beautiful cacti form a picture
at once enchanting and inspiring; as though one were catching for
the first time a glimpse of some dead and forgotten world, so
different is it from the aspect of any other spot upon our earth.
As I stood thus meditating, I turned my gaze from the landscape to
the heavens where the myriad stars formed a gorgeous and fitting
canopy for the wonders of the earthly scene. My attention was
quickly riveted by a large red star close to the distant horizon.
As I gazed upon it I felt a spell of overpowering fascination--it
was Mars, the god of war, and for me, the fighting man, it had
always held the power of irresistible enchantment. As I gazed at
it on that far-gone night it seemed to call across the unthinkable
void, to lure me to it, to draw me as the lodestone attracts a
particle of iron.
My longing was beyond the power of opposition; I closed my eyes,
stretched out my arms toward the god of my vocation and felt myself
drawn with the suddenness of thought through the trackless immensity
of space. There was an instant of extreme cold and utter darkness.
MY ADVENT ON MARS
I opened my eyes upon a strange and weird landscape. I knew that
I was on Mars; not once did I question either my sanity or my
wakefulness. I was not asleep, no need for pinching here; my inner
consciousness told me as plainly that I was upon Mars as your
conscious mind tells you that you are upon Earth. You do not
question the fact; neither did I.
I found myself lying prone upon a bed of yellowish, mosslike
vegetation which stretched around me in all directions for
interminable miles. I seemed to be lying in a deep, circular
basin, along the outer verge of which I could distinguish the
irregularities of low hills.
It was midday, the sun was shining full upon me and the heat of it
was rather intense upon my naked body, yet no greater than would
have been true under similar conditions on an Arizona desert. Here
and there were slight outcroppings of quartz-bearing rock which
glistened in the sunlight; and a little to my left, perhaps a
hundred yards, appeared a low, walled enclosure about four feet in
height. No water, and no other vegetation than the moss was in
evidence, and as I was somewhat thirsty I determined to do a little
Springing to my feet I received my first Martian surprise, for
the effort, which on Earth would have brought me standing upright,
carried me into the Martian air to the height of about three yards.
I alighted softly upon the ground, however, without appreciable
shock or jar. Now commenced a series of evolutions which even then
seemed ludicrous in the extreme. I found that I must learn to walk
all over again, as the muscular exertion which carried me easily and
safely upon Earth played strange antics with me upon Mars.
Instead of progressing in a sane and dignified manner, my attempts
to walk resulted in a variety of hops which took me clear of the
ground a couple of feet at each step and landed me sprawling upon my
face or back at the end of each second or third hop. My muscles,
perfectly attuned and accustomed to the force of gravity on Earth,
played the mischief with me in attempting for the first time to cope
with the lesser gravitation and lower air pressure on Mars.
I was determined, however, to explore the low structure which was
the only evidence of habitation in sight, and so I hit upon the
unique plan of reverting to first principles in locomotion,
creeping. I did fairly well at this and in a few moments had
reached the low, encircling wall of the enclosure.
There appeared to be no doors or windows upon the side nearest me,
but as the wall was but about four feet high I cautiously gained my
feet and peered over the top upon the strangest sight it had ever
been given me to see.
The roof of the enclosure was of solid glass about four or five
inches in thickness, and beneath this were several hundred large
eggs, perfectly round and snowy white. The eggs were nearly uniform
in size being about two and one-half feet in diameter.
Five or six had already hatched and the grotesque caricatures which
sat blinking in the sunlight were enough to cause me to doubt my
sanity. They seemed mostly head, with little scrawny bodies, long
necks and six legs, or, as I afterward learned, two legs and two
arms, with an intermediary pair of limbs which could be used at will
either as arms or legs. Their eyes were set at the extreme sides of
their heads a trifle above the center and protruded in such a manner
that they could be directed either forward or back and also
independently of each other, thus permitting this queer animal to
look in any direction, or in two directions at once, without the
necessity of turning the head.
The ears, which were slightly above the eyes and closer together,
were small, cup-shaped antennae, protruding not more than an inch on
these young specimens. Their noses were but longitudinal slits in
the center of their faces, midway between their mouths and ears.
There was no hair on their bodies, which were of a very light
yellowish-green color. In the adults, as I was to learn quite soon,
this color deepens to an olive green and is darker in the male than
in the female. Further, the heads of the adults are not so out of
proportion to their bodies as in the case of the young.
The iris of the eyes is blood red, as in Albinos, while the pupil
is dark. The eyeball itself is very white, as are the teeth.
These latter add a most ferocious appearance to an otherwise
fearsome and terrible countenance, as the lower tusks curve upward
to sharp points which end about where the eyes of earthly human
beings are located. The whiteness of the teeth is not that of
ivory, but of the snowiest and most gleaming of china. Against
the dark background of their olive skins their tusks stand out in
a most striking manner, making these weapons present a singularly
Most of these details I noted later, for I was given but little time
to speculate on the wonders of my new discovery. I had seen that
the eggs were in the process of hatching, and as I stood watching
the hideous little monsters break from their shells I failed to note
the approach of a score of full-grown Martians from behind me.
Coming, as they did, over the soft and soundless moss, which covers
practically the entire surface of Mars with the exception of the
frozen areas at the poles and the scattered cultivated districts,
they might have captured me easily, but their intentions were far
more sinister. It was the rattling of the accouterments of the
foremost warrior which warned me.
On such a little thing my life hung that I often marvel that I
escaped so easily. Had not the rifle of the leader of the party
swung from its fastenings beside his saddle in such a way as to
strike against the butt of his great metal-shod spear I should have
snuffed out without ever knowing that death was near me. But the
little sound caused me to turn, and there upon me, not ten feet
from my breast, was the point of that huge spear, a spear forty
feet long, tipped with gleaming metal, and held low at the side
of a mounted replica of the little devils I had been watching.
But how puny and harmless they now looked beside this huge and
terrific incarnation of hate, of vengeance and of death. The man
himself, for such I may call him, was fully fifteen feet in height
and, on Earth, would have weighed some four hundred pounds. He sat
his mount as we sit a horse, grasping the animal's barrel with his
lower limbs, while the hands of his two right arms held his immense
spear low at the side of his mount; his two left arms were
outstretched laterally to help preserve his balance, the thing he
rode having neither bridle or reins of any description for guidance.
And his mount! How can earthly words describe it! It towered ten
feet at the shoulder; had four legs on either side; a broad flat
tail, larger at the tip than at the root, and which it held straight
out behind while running; a gaping mouth which split its head from
its snout to its long, massive neck.
Like its master, it was entirely devoid of hair, but was of a dark
slate color and exceeding smooth and glossy. Its belly was white,
and its legs shaded from the slate of its shoulders and hips to a
vivid yellow at the feet. The feet themselves were heavily padded
and nailless, which fact had also contributed to the noiselessness
of their approach, and, in common with a multiplicity of legs, is a
characteristic feature of the fauna of Mars. The highest type of
man and one other animal, the only mammal existing on Mars, alone
have well-formed nails, and there are absolutely no hoofed animals
in existence there.
Behind this first charging demon trailed nineteen others, similar
in all respects, but, as I learned later, bearing individual
characteristics peculiar to themselves; precisely as no two of us
are identical although we are all cast in a similar mold. This
picture, or rather materialized nightmare, which I have described at
length, made but one terrible and swift impression on me as I turned
to meet it.
Unarmed and naked as I was, the first law of nature manifested
itself in the only possible solution of my immediate problem, and
that was to get out of the vicinity of the point of the charging
spear. Consequently I gave a very earthly and at the same time
superhuman leap to reach the top of the Martian incubator, for
such I had determined it must be.
My effort was crowned with a success which appalled me no less than
it seemed to surprise the Martian warriors, for it carried me fully
thirty feet into the air and landed me a hundred feet from my
pursuers and on the opposite side of the enclosure.
I alighted upon the soft moss easily and without mishap, and turning
saw my enemies lined up along the further wall. Some were surveying
me with expressions which I afterward discovered marked extreme
astonishment, and the others were evidently satisfying themselves
that I had not molested their young.
They were conversing together in low tones, and gesticulating and
pointing toward me. Their discovery that I had not harmed the
little Martians, and that I was unarmed, must have caused them to
look upon me with less ferocity; but, as I was to learn later, the
thing which weighed most in my favor was my exhibition of hurdling.
While the Martians are immense, their bones are very large and they
are muscled only in proportion to the gravitation which they must
overcome. The result is that they are infinitely less agile and
less powerful, in proportion to their weight, than an Earth man, and
I doubt that were one of them suddenly to be transported to Earth he
could lift his own weight from the ground; in fact, I am convinced
that he could not do so.
My feat then was as marvelous upon Mars as it would have been upon
Earth, and from desiring to annihilate me they suddenly looked upon
me as a wonderful discovery to be captured and exhibited among their
The respite my unexpected agility had given me permitted me to
formulate plans for the immediate future and to note more closely
the appearance of the warriors, for I could not disassociate these
people in my mind from those other warriors who, only the day
before, had been pursuing me.
I noted that each was armed with several other weapons in addition
to the huge spear which I have described. The weapon which caused
me to decide against an attempt at escape by flight was what was
evidently a rifle of some description, and which I felt, for some
reason, they were peculiarly efficient in handling.
These rifles were of a white metal stocked with wood, which I
learned later was a very light and intensely hard growth much prized
on Mars, and entirely unknown to us denizens of Earth. The metal of
the barrel is an alloy composed principally of aluminum and steel
which they have learned to temper to a hardness far exceeding that
of the steel with which we are familiar. The weight of these rifles
is comparatively little, and with the small caliber, explosive,
radium projectiles which they use, and the great length of the
barrel, they are deadly in the extreme and at ranges which would be
unthinkable on Earth. The theoretic effective radius of this rifle
is three hundred miles, but the best they can do in actual service
when equipped with their wireless finders and sighters is but a
trifle over two hundred miles.
This is quite far enough to imbue me with great respect for the
Martian firearm, and some telepathic force must have warned me
against an attempt to escape in broad daylight from under the
muzzles of twenty of these death-dealing machines.
The Martians, after conversing for a short time, turned and rode
away in the direction from which they had come, leaving one of their
number alone by the enclosure. When they had covered perhaps two
hundred yards they halted, and turning their mounts toward us sat
watching the warrior by the enclosure.
He was the one whose spear had so nearly transfixed me, and was
evidently the leader of the band, as I had noted that they seemed
to have moved to their present position at his direction. When
his force had come to a halt he dismounted, threw down his spear
and small arms, and came around the end of the incubator toward
me, entirely unarmed and as naked as I, except for the ornaments
strapped upon his head, limbs, and breast.
When he was within about fifty feet of me he unclasped an enormous
metal armlet, and holding it toward me in the open palm of his hand,
addressed me in a clear, resonant voice, but in a language, it is
needless to say, I could not understand. He then stopped as though
waiting for my reply, pricking up his antennae-like ears and cocking
his strange-looking eyes still further toward me.
As the silence became painful I concluded to hazard a little
conversation on my own part, as I had guessed that he was making
overtures of peace. The throwing down of his weapons and the
withdrawing of his troop before his advance toward me would have
signified a peaceful mission anywhere on Earth, so why not, then,
Placing my hand over my heart I bowed low to the Martian and
explained to him that while I did not understand his language, his
actions spoke for the peace and friendship that at the present
moment were most dear to my heart. Of course I might have been a
babbling brook for all the intelligence my speech carried to him,
but he understood the action with which I immediately followed my
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
He exchanged a few words with his men, motioned to me that I would
ride behind one of them, and then mounted his own animal. The
fellow designated reached down two or three hands and lifted me up
behind him on the glossy back of his mount, where I hung on as best
I could by the belts and straps which held the Martian's weapons and
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.
Upon closer observation I saw as we passed them that the buildings
were deserted, and while not greatly decayed had the appearance of
not having been tenanted for years, possibly for ages. Toward the
center of the city was a large plaza, and upon this and in the
buildings immediately surrounding it were camped some nine or ten
hundred creatures of the same breed as my captors, for such I now
considered them despite the suave manner in which I had been
With the exception of their ornaments all were naked. The women
varied in appearance but little from the men, except that their
tusks were much larger in proportion to their height, in some
instances curving nearly to their high-set ears. Their bodies were
smaller and lighter in color, and their fingers and toes bore the
rudiments of nails, which were entirely lacking among the males.
The adult females ranged in height from ten to twelve feet.
The children were light in color, even lighter than the women, and
all looked precisely alike to me, except that some were taller than
others; older, I presumed.
I saw no signs of extreme age among them, nor is there any
appreciable difference in their appearance from the age of maturity,
about forty, until, at about the age of one thousand years, they go
voluntarily upon their last strange pilgrimage down the river Iss,
which leads no living Martian knows whither and from whose bosom no
Martian has ever returned, or would be allowed to live did he return
after once embarking upon its cold, dark waters.
Only about one Martian in a thousand dies of sickness or disease,
and possibly about twenty take the voluntary pilgrimage. The other
nine hundred and seventy-nine die violent deaths in duels, in
hunting, in aviation and in war; but perhaps by far the greatest
death loss comes during the age of childhood, when vast numbers of
the little Martians fall victims to the great white apes of Mars.
The average life expectancy of a Martian after the age of maturity
is about three hundred years, but would be nearer the one-thousand
mark were it not for the various means leading to violent death.
Owing to the waning resources of the planet it evidently became
necessary to counteract the increasing longevity which their
remarkable skill in therapeutics and surgery produced, and so human
life has come to be considered but lightly on Mars, as is evidenced
by their dangerous sports and the almost continual warfare between
the various communities.
There are other and natural causes tending toward a diminution of
population, but nothing contributes so greatly to this end as the
fact that no male or female Martian is ever voluntarily without a
weapon of destruction.
As we neared the plaza and my presence was discovered we were
immediately surrounded by hundreds of the creatures who seemed
anxious to pluck me from my seat behind my guard. A word from the
leader of the party stilled their clamor, and we proceeded at a
trot across the plaza to the entrance of as magnificent an edifice
as mortal eye has rested upon.
The building was low, but covered an enormous area. It was
constructed of gleaming white marble inlaid with gold and brilliant
stones which sparkled and scintillated in the sunlight. The main
entrance was some hundred feet in width and projected from the
building proper to form a huge canopy above the entrance hall.
There was no stairway, but a gentle incline to the first floor of
the building opened into an enormous chamber encircled by galleries.
On the floor of this chamber, which was dotted with highly carved
wooden desks and chairs, were assembled about forty or fifty male
Martians around the steps of a rostrum. On the platform proper
squatted an enormous warrior heavily loaded with metal ornaments,
gay-colored feathers and beautifully wrought leather trappings
ingeniously set with precious stones. From his shoulders depended
a short cape of white fur lined with brilliant scarlet silk.
What struck me as most remarkable about this assemblage and the
hall in which they were congregated was the fact that the creatures
were entirely out of proportion to the desks, chairs, and other
furnishings; these being of a size adapted to human beings such as
I, whereas the great bulks of the Martians could scarcely have
squeezed into the chairs, nor was there room beneath the desks for
their long legs. Evidently, then, there were other denizens on Mars
than the wild and grotesque creatures into whose hands I had fallen,
but the evidences of extreme antiquity which showed all around me
indicated that these buildings might have belonged to some
long-extinct and forgotten race in the dim antiquity of Mars.
Our party had halted at the entrance to the building, and at a sign
from the leader I had been lowered to the ground. Again locking his
arm in mine, we had proceeded into the audience chamber. There were
few formalities observed in approaching the Martian chieftain. My
captor merely strode up to the rostrum, the others making way for
him as he advanced. The chieftain rose to his feet and uttered the
name of my escort who, in turn, halted and repeated the name of the
ruler followed by his title.
At the time, this ceremony and the words they uttered meant nothing
to me, but later I came to know that this was the customary greeting
between green Martians. Had the men been strangers, and therefore
unable to exchange names, they would have silently exchanged
ornaments, had their missions been peaceful--otherwise they would
have exchanged shots, or have fought out their introduction with
some other of their various weapons.
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 length.
I replied in our good old English tongue merely to convince him that
neither of us could understand the other; but I noticed that when I
smiled slightly on concluding, he did likewise. This fact, and the
similar occurrence during my first talk with Tars Tarkas, convinced
me that we had at least something in common; the ability to smile,
therefore to laugh; denoting a sense of humor. But I was to learn
that the Martian smile is merely perfunctory, and that the Martian
laugh is a thing to cause strong men to blanch in horror.
The ideas of humor among the green men of Mars are widely at
variance with our conceptions of incitants to merriment. The
death agonies of a fellow being are, to these strange creatures
provocative of the wildest hilarity, while their chief form of
commonest amusement is to inflict death on their prisoners of
war in various ingenious and horrible ways.
The assembled warriors and chieftains examined me closely, feeling
my muscles and the texture of my skin. The principal chieftain then
evidently signified a desire to see me perform, and, motioning me
to follow, he started with Tars Tarkas for the open plaza.
Now, I had made no attempt to walk, since my first signal failure,
except while tightly grasping Tars Tarkas' arm, and so now I went
skipping and flitting about among the desks and chairs like some
monstrous grasshopper. After bruising myself severely, much to
the amusement of the Martians, I again had recourse to creeping,
but this did not suit them and I was roughly jerked to my feet by
a towering fellow who had laughed most heartily at my misfortunes.
As he banged me down upon my feet his face was bent close to
mine and I did the only thing a gentleman might do under the
circumstances of brutality, boorishness, and lack of consideration
for a stranger's rights; I swung my fist squarely to his jaw and
he went down like a felled ox. As he sunk to the floor I wheeled
around with my back toward the nearest desk, expecting to be
overwhelmed by the vengeance of his fellows, but determined to
give them as good a battle as the unequal odds would permit before
I gave up my life.
My fears were groundless, however, as the other Martians, at first
struck dumb with wonderment, finally broke into wild peals of
laughter and applause. I did not recognize the applause as such,
but later, when I had become acquainted with their customs, I
learned that I had won what they seldom accord, a manifestation
The fellow whom I had struck lay where he had fallen, nor did any of
his mates approach him. Tars Tarkas advanced toward me, holding out
one of his arms, and we thus proceeded to the plaza without further
mishap. I did not, of course, know the reason for which we had come
to the open, but I was not long in being enlightened. They first
repeated the word "sak" a number of times, and then Tars Tarkas made
several jumps, repeating the same word before each leap; then,
turning to me, he said, "sak!" I saw what they were after, and
gathering myself together I "sakked" with such marvelous success
that I cleared a good hundred and fifty feet; nor did I this time,
lose my equilibrium, but landed squarely upon my feet without
falling. I then returned by easy jumps of twenty-five or thirty
feet to the little group of warriors.
My exhibition had been witnessed by several hundred lesser Martians,
and they immediately broke into demands for a repetition, which the
chieftain then ordered me to make; but I was both hungry and
thirsty, and determined on the spot that my only method of salvation
was to demand the consideration from these creatures which they
evidently would not voluntarily accord. I therefore ignored the
repeated commands to "sak," and each time they were made I motioned
to my mouth and rubbed my stomach.
Tars Tarkas and the chief exchanged a few words, and the former,
calling to a young female among the throng, gave her some
instructions and motioned me to accompany her. I grasped her
proffered arm and together we crossed the plaza toward a large
building on the far side.
My fair companion was about eight feet tall, having just arrived
at maturity, but not yet to her full height. She was of a light
olive-green color, with a smooth, glossy hide. Her name, as I
afterward learned, was Sola, and she belonged to the retinue of
Tars Tarkas. She conducted me to a spacious chamber in one of the
buildings fronting on the plaza, and which, from the litter of
silks and furs upon the floor, I took to be the sleeping quarters
of several of the natives.
The room was well lighted by a number of large windows and was
beautifully decorated with mural paintings and mosaics, but upon
all there seemed to rest that indefinable touch of the finger of
antiquity which convinced me that the architects and builders of
these wondrous creations had nothing in common with the crude
half-brutes which now occupied them.
Sola motioned me to be seated upon a pile of silks near the center
of the room, and, turning, made a peculiar hissing sound, as though
signaling to someone in an adjoining room. In response to her call
I obtained my first sight of a new Martian wonder. It waddled in
on its ten short legs, and squatted down before the girl like an
obedient puppy. The thing was about the size of a Shetland pony,
but its head bore a slight resemblance to that of a frog, except
that the jaws were equipped with three rows of long, sharp tusks.
I ELUDE MY WATCH DOG
Sola stared into the brute's wicked-looking eyes, muttered a word or
two of command, pointed to me, and left the chamber. I could not but
wonder what this ferocious-looking monstrosity might do when left
alone in such close proximity to such a relatively tender morsel of
meat; but my fears were groundless, as the beast, after surveying me
intently for a moment, crossed the room to the only exit which led
to the street, and lay down full length across the threshold.
This was my first experience with a Martian watch dog, but it was
destined not to be my last, for this fellow guarded me carefully
during the time I remained a captive among these green men; twice
saving my life, and never voluntarily being away from me a moment.
While Sola was away I took occasion to examine more minutely the
room in which I found myself captive. The mural painting depicted
scenes of rare and wonderful beauty; mountains, rivers, lake,
ocean, meadow, trees and flowers, winding roadways, sun-kissed
gardens--scenes which might have portrayed earthly views but for
the different colorings of the vegetation. The work had evidently
been wrought by a master hand, so subtle the atmosphere, so perfect
the technique; yet nowhere was there a representation of a living
animal, either human or brute, by which I could guess at the
likeness of these other and perhaps extinct denizens of Mars.
While I was allowing my fancy to run riot in wild conjecture on the
possible explanation of the strange anomalies which I had so far met
with on Mars, Sola returned bearing both food and drink. These she
placed on the floor beside me, and seating herself a short ways off
regarded me intently. The food consisted of about a pound of some
solid substance of the consistency of cheese and almost tasteless,
while the liquid was apparently milk from some animal. It was not
unpleasant to the taste, though slightly acid, and I learned in a
short time to prize it very highly. It came, as I later discovered,
not from an animal, as there is only one mammal on Mars and that one
very rare indeed, but from a large plant which grows practically
without water, but seems to distill its plentiful supply of milk
from the products of the soil, the moisture of the air, and the rays
of the sun. A single plant of this species will give eight or ten
quarts of milk per day.
After I had eaten I was greatly invigorated, but feeling the need
of rest I stretched out upon the silks and was soon asleep. I must
have slept several hours, as it was dark when I awoke, and I was
very cold. I noticed that someone had thrown a fur over me, but it
had become partially dislodged and in the darkness I could not see
to replace it. Suddenly a hand reached out and pulled the fur over
me, shortly afterwards adding another to my covering.
I presumed that my watchful guardian was Sola, nor was I wrong.
This girl alone, among all the green Martians with whom I came in
contact, disclosed characteristics of sympathy, kindliness, and
affection; her ministrations to my bodily wants were unfailing, and
her solicitous care saved me from much suffering and many hardships.
As I was to learn, the Martian nights are extremely cold, and as
there is practically no twilight or dawn, the changes in temperature
are sudden and most uncomfortable, as are the transitions from
brilliant daylight to darkness. The nights are either brilliantly
illumined or very dark, for if neither of the two moons of Mars
happen to be in the sky almost total darkness results, since the
lack of atmosphere, or, rather, the very thin atmosphere, fails to
diffuse the starlight to any great extent; on the other hand, if
both of the moons are in the heavens at night the surface of the
ground is brightly illuminated.
Both of Mars' moons are vastly nearer her than is our moon to Earth;
the nearer moon being but about five thousand miles distant, while
the further is but little more than fourteen thousand miles away,
against the nearly one-quarter million miles which separate us from
our moon. The nearer moon of Mars makes a complete revolution
around the planet in a little over seven and one-half hours, so that
she may be seen hurtling through the sky like some huge meteor two
or three times each night, revealing all her phases during each
transit of the heavens.
The further moon revolves about Mars in something over thirty and
one-quarter hours, and with her sister satellite makes a nocturnal
Martian scene one of splendid and weird grandeur. And it is well
that nature has so graciously and abundantly lighted the Martian
night, for the green men of Mars, being a nomadic race without
high intellectual development, have but crude means for artificial
lighting; depending principally upon torches, a kind of candle, and
a peculiar oil lamp which generates a gas and burns without a wick.
This last device produces an intensely brilliant far-reaching white
light, but as the natural oil which it requires can only be obtained
by mining in one of several widely separated and remote localities
it is seldom used by these creatures whose only thought is for
today, and whose hatred for manual labor has kept them in a
semi-barbaric state for countless ages.
After Sola had replenished my coverings I again slept, nor did I
awaken until daylight. The other occupants of the room, five in
number, were all females, and they were still sleeping, piled high
with a motley array of silks and furs. Across the threshold lay
stretched the sleepless guardian brute, just as I had last seen him
on the preceding day; apparently he had not moved a muscle; his eyes
were fairly glued upon me, and I fell to wondering just what might
befall me should I endeavor to escape.
I have ever been prone to seek adventure and to investigate and
experiment where wiser men would have left well enough alone. It
therefore now occurred to me that the surest way of learning the
exact attitude of this beast toward me would be to attempt to leave
the room. I felt fairly secure in my belief that I could escape him
should he pursue me once I was outside the building, for I had begun
to take great pride in my ability as a jumper. Furthermore, I could
see from the shortness of his legs that the brute himself was no
jumper and probably no runner.
Slowly and carefully, therefore, I gained my feet, only to see that
my watcher did the same; cautiously I advanced toward him, finding
that by moving with a shuffling gait I could retain my balance as
well as make reasonably rapid progress. As I neared the brute he
backed cautiously away from me, and when I had reached the open he
moved to one side to let me pass. He then fell in behind me and
followed about ten paces in my rear as I made my way along the
Evidently his mission was to protect me only, I thought, but when we
reached the edge of the city he suddenly sprang before me, uttering
strange sounds and baring his ugly and ferocious tusks. Thinking to
have some amusement at his expense, I rushed toward him, and when
almost upon him sprang into the air, alighting far beyond him and
away from the city. He wheeled instantly and charged me with the
most appalling speed I had ever beheld. I had thought his short
legs a bar to swiftness, but had he been coursing with greyhounds
the latter would have appeared as though asleep on a door mat. As I
was to learn, this is the fleetest animal on Mars, and owing to its
intelligence, loyalty, and ferocity is used in hunting, in war, and
as the protector of the Martian man.
I quickly saw that I would have difficulty in escaping the fangs
of the beast on a straightaway course, and so I met his charge by
doubling in my tracks and leaping over him as he was almost upon me.
This maneuver gave me a considerable advantage, and I was able to
reach the city quite a bit ahead of him, and as he came tearing
after me I jumped for a window about thirty feet from the ground
in the face of one of the buildings overlooking the valley.
Grasping the sill I pulled myself up to a sitting posture without
looking into the building, and gazed down at the baffled animal
beneath me. My exultation was short-lived, however, for scarcely
had I gained a secure seat upon the sill than a huge hand grasped
me by the neck from behind and dragged me violently into the room.
Here I was thrown upon my back, and beheld standing over me a
colossal ape-like creature, white and hairless except for an
enormous shock of bristly hair upon its head.
A FIGHT THAT WON FRIENDS
The thing, which more nearly resembled our earthly men than it did
the Martians I had seen, held me pinioned to the ground with one
huge foot, while it jabbered and gesticulated at some answering
creature behind me. This other, which was evidently its mate,
soon came toward us, bearing a mighty stone cudgel with which it
evidently intended to brain me.
The creatures were about ten or fifteen feet tall, standing erect,
and had, like the green Martians, an intermediary set of arms or
legs, midway between their upper and lower limbs. Their eyes were
close together and non-protruding; their ears were high set, but
more laterally located than those of the Martians, while their
snouts and teeth were strikingly like those of our African gorilla.
Altogether they were not unlovely when viewed in comparison with
the green Martians.
The cudgel was swinging in the arc which ended upon my upturned
face when a bolt of myriad-legged horror hurled itself through the
doorway full upon the breast of my executioner. With a shriek of
fear the ape which held me leaped through the open window, but its
mate closed in a terrific death struggle with my preserver, which
was nothing less than my faithful watch-thing; I cannot bring myself
to call so hideous a creature a dog.
As quickly as possible I gained my feet and backing against the wall
I witnessed such a battle as it is vouchsafed few beings to see.
The strength, agility, and blind ferocity of these two creatures
is approached by nothing known to earthly man. My beast had an
advantage in his first hold, having sunk his mighty fangs far into
the breast of his adversary; but the great arms and paws of the ape,
backed by muscles far transcending those of the Martian men I had
seen, had locked the throat of my guardian and slowly were choking
out his life, and bending back his head and neck upon his body,
where I momentarily expected the former to fall limp at the end of
a broken neck.
In accomplishing this the ape was tearing away the entire front of
its breast, which was held in the vise-like grip of the powerful
jaws. Back and forth upon the floor they rolled, neither one
emitting a sound of fear or pain. Presently I saw the great eyes
of my beast bulging completely from their sockets and blood flowing
from its nostrils. That he was weakening perceptibly was evident,
but so also was the ape, whose struggles were growing momentarily
Suddenly I came to myself and, with that strange instinct which
seems ever to prompt me to my duty, I seized the cudgel, which had
fallen to the floor at the commencement of the battle, and swinging
it with all the power of my earthly arms I crashed it full upon the
head of the ape, crushing his skull as though it had been an
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
I am ever willing to stand and fight when the odds are not too
overwhelmingly against me, but in this instance I perceived neither
glory nor profit in pitting my relatively puny strength against
the iron muscles and brutal ferocity of this enraged denizen of an
unknown world; in fact, the only outcome of such an encounter, so
far as I might be concerned, seemed sudden death.
I was standing near the window and I knew that once in the street I
might gain the plaza and safety before the creature could overtake
me; at least there was a chance for safety in flight, against almost
certain death should I remain and fight however desperately.
It is true I held the cudgel, but what could I do with it against
his four great arms? Even should I break one of them with my first
blow, for I figured that he would attempt to ward off the cudgel,
he could reach out and annihilate me with the others before I could
recover for a second attack.
In the instant that these thoughts passed through my mind I had
turned to make for the window, but my eyes alighting on the form
of my erstwhile guardian threw all thoughts of flight to the four
winds. He lay gasping upon the floor of the chamber, his great eyes
fastened upon me in what seemed a pitiful appeal for protection. I
could not withstand that look, nor could I, on second thought, have
deserted my rescuer without giving as good an account of myself in
his behalf as he had in mine.
Without more ado, therefore, I turned to meet the charge of the
infuriated bull ape. He was now too close upon me for the cudgel to
prove of any effective assistance, so I merely threw it as heavily
as I could at his advancing bulk. It struck him just below the
knees, eliciting a howl of pain and rage, and so throwing him off
his balance that he lunged full upon me with arms wide stretched
to ease his fall.
Again, as on the preceding day, I had recourse to earthly tactics,
and swinging my right fist full upon the point of his chin I
followed it with a smashing left to the pit of his stomach.
The effect was marvelous, for, as I lightly sidestepped, after
delivering the second blow, he reeled and fell upon the floor
doubled up with pain and gasping for wind. Leaping over his
prostrate body, I seized the cudgel and finished the monster
before he could regain his feet.
As I delivered the blow a low laugh rang out behind me, and,
turning, I beheld Tars Tarkas, Sola, and three or four warriors
standing in the doorway of the chamber. As my eyes met theirs I
was, for the second time, the recipient of their zealously guarded
My absence had been noted by Sola on her awakening, and she had
quickly informed Tars Tarkas, who had set out immediately with a
handful of warriors to search for me. As they had approached the
limits of the city they had witnessed the actions of the bull ape
as he bolted into the building, frothing with rage.
They had followed immediately behind him, thinking it barely
possible that his actions might prove a clew to my whereabouts
and had witnessed my short but decisive battle with him. This
encounter, together with my set-to with the Martian warrior on the
previous day and my feats of jumping placed me upon a high pinnacle
in their regard. Evidently devoid of all the finer sentiments of
friendship, love, or affection, these people fairly worship physical
prowess and bravery, and nothing is too good for the object of their
adoration as long as he maintains his position by repeated examples
of his skill, strength, and courage.
Sola, who had accompanied the searching party of her own volition,
was the only one of the Martians whose face had not been twisted in
laughter as I battled for my life. She, on the contrary, was sober
with apparent solicitude and, as soon as I had finished the monster,
rushed to me and carefully examined my body for possible wounds or
injuries. Satisfying herself that I had come off unscathed she
smiled quietly, and, taking my hand, started toward the door of
Tars Tarkas and the other warriors had entered and were standing
over the now rapidly reviving brute which had saved my life, and
whose life I, in turn, had rescued. They seemed to be deep in
argument, and finally one of them addressed me, but remembering
my ignorance of his language turned back to Tars Tarkas, who, with
a word and gesture, gave some command to the fellow and turned to
follow us from the room.
There seemed something menacing in their attitude toward my beast,
and I hesitated to leave until I had learned the outcome. It was
well I did so, for the warrior drew an evil looking pistol from its
holster and was on the point of putting an end to the creature when
I sprang forward and struck up his arm. The bullet striking the
wooden casing of the window exploded, blowing a hole completely
through the wood and masonry.
I then knelt down beside the fearsome-looking thing, and raising it
to its feet motioned for it to follow me. The looks of surprise
which my actions elicited from the Martians were ludicrous; they
could not understand, except in a feeble and childish way, such
attributes as gratitude and compassion. The warrior whose gun I
had struck up looked enquiringly at Tars Tarkas, but the latter
signed that I be left to my own devices, and so we returned to
the plaza with my great beast following close at heel, and Sola
grasping me tightly by the arm.
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
CHILD-RAISING ON MARS
After a breakfast, which was an exact replica of the meal of the
preceding day and an index of practically every meal which followed
while I was with the green men of Mars, Sola escorted me to the
plaza, where I found the entire community engaged in watching or
helping at the harnessing of huge mastodonian animals to great
three-wheeled chariots. There were about two hundred and fifty of
these vehicles, each drawn by a single animal, any one of which,
from their appearance, might easily have drawn the entire wagon
train when fully loaded.
The chariots themselves were large, commodious, and gorgeously
decorated. In each was seated a female Martian loaded with
ornaments of metal, with jewels and silks and furs, and upon the
back of each of the beasts which drew the chariots was perched a
young Martian driver. Like the animals upon which the warriors were
mounted, the heavier draft animals wore neither bit nor bridle, but
were guided entirely by telepathic means.
This power is wonderfully developed in all Martians, and accounts
largely for the simplicity of their language and the relatively
few spoken words exchanged even in long conversations. It is the
universal language of Mars, through the medium of which the higher
and lower animals of this world of paradoxes are able to communicate
to a greater or less extent, depending upon the intellectual sphere
of the species and the development of the individual.
As the cavalcade took up the line of march in single file, Sola
dragged me into an empty chariot and we proceeded with the
procession toward the point by which I had entered the city the
day before. At the head of the caravan rode some two hundred
warriors, five abreast, and a like number brought up the rear,
while twenty-five or thirty outriders flanked us on either side.
Every one but myself--men, women, and children--were heavily armed,
and at the tail of each chariot trotted a Martian hound, my own
beast following closely behind ours; in fact, the faithful creature
never left me voluntarily during the entire ten years I spent on
Mars. Our way led out across the little valley before the city,
through the hills, and down into the dead sea bottom which I had
traversed on my journey from the incubator to the plaza. The
incubator, as it proved, was the terminal point of our journey this
day, and, as the entire cavalcade broke into a mad gallop as soon
as we reached the level expanse of sea bottom, we were soon within
sight of our goal.
On reaching it the chariots were parked with military precision
on the four sides of the enclosure, and half a score of warriors,
headed by the enormous chieftain, and including Tars Tarkas and
several other lesser chiefs, dismounted and advanced toward it.
I could see Tars Tarkas explaining something to the principal
chieftain, whose name, by the way, was, as nearly as I can
translate it into English, Lorquas Ptomel, Jed; jed being his
I was soon appraised of the subject of their conversation, as,
calling to Sola, Tars Tarkas signed for her to send me to him. I
had by this time mastered the intricacies of walking under Martian
conditions, and quickly responding to his command I advanced to
the side of the incubator where the warriors stood.
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
As I came to a halt before him, Tars Tarkas pointed over the
incubator and said, "Sak." I saw that he wanted me to repeat my
performance of yesterday for the edification of Lorquas Ptomel, and,
as I must confess that my prowess gave me no little satisfaction, I
responded quickly, leaping entirely over the parked chariots on the
far side of the incubator. As I returned, Lorquas Ptomel grunted
something at me, and turning to his warriors gave a few words of
command relative to the incubator. They paid no further attention
to me and I was thus permitted to remain close and watch their
operations, which consisted in breaking an opening in the wall of
the incubator large enough to permit of the exit of the young
On either side of this opening the women and the younger Martians,
both male and female, formed two solid walls leading out through the
chariots and quite away into the plain beyond. Between these walls
the little Martians scampered, wild as deer; being permitted to run
the full length of the aisle, where they were captured one at a time
by the women and older children; the last in the line capturing the
first little one to reach the end of the gauntlet, her opposite in
the line capturing the second, and so on until all the little
fellows had left the enclosure and been appropriated by some youth
or female. As the women caught the young they fell out of line and
returned to their respective chariots, while those who fell into the
hands of the young men were later turned over to some of the women.
I saw that the ceremony, if it could be dignified by such a name,
was over, and seeking out Sola I found her in our chariot with a
hideous little creature held tightly in her arms.
The work of rearing young, green Martians consists solely in
teaching them to talk, and to use the weapons of warfare with
which they are loaded down from the very first year of their lives.
Coming from eggs in which they have lain for five years, the period
of incubation, they step forth into the world perfectly developed
except in size. Entirely unknown to their mothers, who, in turn,
would have difficulty in pointing out the fathers with any degree of
accuracy, they are the common children of the community, and their
education devolves upon the females who chance to capture them as
they leave the incubator.
Their foster mothers may not even have had an egg in the incubator,
as was the case with Sola, who had not commenced to lay, until
less than a year before she became the mother of another woman's
offspring. But this counts for little among the green Martians, as
parental and filial love is as unknown to them as it is common among
us. I believe this horrible system which has been carried on for
ages is the direct cause of the loss of all the finer feelings and
higher humanitarian instincts among these poor creatures. From
birth they know no father or mother love, they know not the meaning
of the word home; they are taught that they are only suffered to
live until they can demonstrate by their physique and ferocity that
they are fit to live. Should they prove deformed or defective in
any way they are promptly shot; nor do they see a tear shed for a
single one of the many cruel hardships they pass through from
I do not mean that the adult Martians are unnecessarily or
intentionally cruel to the young, but theirs is a hard and pitiless
struggle for existence upon a dying planet, the natural resources of
which have dwindled to a point where the support of each additional
life means an added tax upon the community into which it is thrown.
By careful selection they rear only the hardiest specimens of each
species, and with almost supernatural foresight they regulate the
birth rate to merely offset the loss by death.
Each adult Martian female brings forth about thirteen eggs each
year, and those which meet the size, weight, and specific gravity
tests are hidden in the recesses of some subterranean vault where
the temperature is too low for incubation. Every year these eggs
are carefully examined by a council of twenty chieftains, and all
but about one hundred of the most perfect are destroyed out of each
yearly supply. At the end of five years about five hundred almost
perfect eggs have been chosen from the thousands brought forth.
These are then placed in the almost air-tight incubators to be
hatched by the sun's rays after a period of another five years. The
hatching which we had witnessed today was a fairly representative
event of its kind, all but about one per cent of the eggs hatching
in two days. If the remaining eggs ever hatched we knew nothing of
the fate of the little Martians. They were not wanted, as their
offspring might inherit and transmit the tendency to prolonged
incubation, and thus upset the system which has maintained for ages
and which permits the adult Martians to figure the proper time for
return to the incubators, almost to an hour.
The incubators are built in remote fastnesses, where there is little
or no likelihood of their being discovered by other tribes. The
result of such a catastrophe would mean no children in the community
for another five years. I was later to witness the results of the
discovery of an alien incubator.
The community of which the green Martians with whom my lot was cast
formed a part was composed of some thirty thousand souls. They
roamed an enormous tract of arid and semi-arid land between forty
and eighty degrees south latitude, and bounded on the east and
west by two large fertile tracts. Their headquarters lay in the
southwest corner of this district, near the crossing of two of
the so-called Martian canals.
As the incubator had been placed far north of their own territory
in a supposedly uninhabited and unfrequented area, we had before us
a tremendous journey, concerning which I, of course, knew nothing.
After our return to the dead city I passed several days in
comparative idleness. On the day following our return all the
warriors had ridden forth early in the morning and had not returned
until just before darkness fell. As I later learned, they had been
to the subterranean vaults in which the eggs were kept and had
transported them to the incubator, which they had then walled up
for another five years, and which, in all probability, would not
be visited again during that period.
The vaults which hid the eggs until they were ready for the
incubator were located many miles south of the incubator, and would
be visited yearly by the council of twenty chieftains. Why they did
not arrange to build their vaults and incubators nearer home has
always been a mystery to me, and, like many other Martian mysteries,
unsolved and unsolvable by earthly reasoning and customs.
Sola's duties were now doubled, as she was compelled to care for the
young Martian as well as for me, but neither one of us required much
attention, and as we were both about equally advanced in Martian
education, Sola took it upon herself to train us together.
Her prize consisted in a male about four feet tall, very strong
and physically perfect; also, he learned quickly, and we had
considerable amusement, at least I did, over the keen rivalry we
displayed. The Martian language, as I have said, is extremely
simple, and in a week I could make all my wants known and understand
nearly everything that was said to me. Likewise, under Sola's
tutelage, I developed my telepathic powers so that I shortly could
sense practically everything that went on around me.
What surprised Sola most in me was that while I could catch
telepathic messages easily from others, and often when they were
not intended for me, no one could read a jot from my mind under any
circumstances. At first this vexed me, but later I was very glad
of it, as it gave me an undoubted advantage over the Martians.
A FAIR CAPTIVE FROM THE SKY
The third day after the incubator ceremony we set forth toward home,
but scarcely had the head of the procession debouched into the open
ground before the city than orders were given for an immediate and
hasty return. As though trained for years in this particular
evolution, the green Martians melted like mist into the spacious
doorways of the nearby buildings, until, in less than three minutes,
the entire cavalcade of chariots, mastodons and mounted warriors
was nowhere to be seen.
Sola and I had entered a building upon the front of the city, in
fact, the same one in which I had had my encounter with the apes,
and, wishing to see what had caused the sudden retreat, I mounted
to an upper floor and peered from the window out over the valley
and the hills beyond; and there I saw the cause of their sudden
scurrying to cover. A huge craft, long, low, and gray-painted,
swung slowly over the crest of the nearest hill. Following it came
another, and another, and another, until twenty of them, swinging
low above the ground, sailed slowly and majestically toward us.
Each carried a strange banner swung from stem to stern above the
upper works, and upon the prow of each was painted some odd device
that gleamed in the sunlight and showed plainly even at the distance
at which we were from the vessels. I could see figures crowding
the forward decks and upper works of the air craft. Whether they
had discovered us or simply were looking at the deserted city I
could not say, but in any event they received a rude reception,
for suddenly and without warning the green Martian warriors fired a
terrific volley from the windows of the buildings facing the little
valley across which the great ships were so peacefully advancing.
Instantly the scene changed as by magic; the foremost vessel swung
broadside toward us, and bringing her guns into play returned our
fire, at the same time moving parallel to our front for a short
distance and then turning back with the evident intention of
completing a great circle which would bring her up to position once
more opposite our firing line; the other vessels followed in her
wake, each one opening upon us as she swung into position. Our own
fire never diminished, and I doubt if twenty-five per cent of our
shots went wild. It had never been given me to see such deadly
accuracy of aim, and it seemed as though a little figure on one of
the craft dropped at the explosion of each bullet, while the banners
and upper works dissolved in spurts of flame as the irresistible
projectiles of our warriors mowed through them.
The fire from the vessels was most ineffectual, owing, as I
afterward learned, to the unexpected suddenness of the first volley,
which caught the ship's crews entirely unprepared and the sighting
apparatus of the guns unprotected from the deadly aim of our
It seems that each green warrior has certain objective points for
his fire under relatively identical circumstances of warfare. For
example, a proportion of them, always the best marksmen, direct
their fire entirely upon the wireless finding and sighting apparatus
of the big guns of an attacking naval force; another detail attends
to the smaller guns in the same way; others pick off the gunners;
still others the officers; while certain other quotas concentrate
their attention upon the other members of the crew, upon the upper
works, and upon the steering gear and propellers.
Twenty minutes after the first volley the great fleet swung trailing
off in the direction from which it had first appeared. Several of
the craft were limping perceptibly, and seemed but barely under the
control of their depleted crews. Their fire had ceased entirely
and all their energies seemed focused upon escape. Our warriors
then rushed up to the roofs of the buildings which we occupied and
followed the retreating armada with a continuous fusillade of deadly
One by one, however, the ships managed to dip below the crests of
the outlying hills until only one barely moving craft was in sight.
This had received the brunt of our fire and seemed to be entirely
unmanned, as not a moving figure was visible upon her decks. Slowly
she swung from her course, circling back toward us in an erratic and
pitiful manner. Instantly the warriors ceased firing, for it was
quite apparent that the vessel was entirely helpless, and, far from
being in a position to inflict harm upon us, she could not even
control herself sufficiently to escape.
As she neared the city the warriors rushed out upon the plain to
meet her, but it was evident that she still was too high for them
to hope to reach her decks. From my vantage point in the window I
could see the bodies of her crew strewn about, although I could not
make out what manner of creatures they might be. Not a sign of life
was manifest upon her as she drifted slowly with the light breeze
in a southeasterly direction.
She was drifting some fifty feet above the ground, followed by all
but some hundred of the warriors who had been ordered back to the
roofs to cover the possibility of a return of the fleet, or of
reinforcements. It soon became evident that she would strike the
face of the buildings about a mile south of our position, and as I
watched the progress of the chase I saw a number of warriors gallop
ahead, dismount and enter the building she seemed destined to touch.
As the craft neared the building, and just before she struck, the
Martian warriors swarmed upon her from the windows, and with their
great spears eased the shock of the collision, and in a few moments
they had thrown out grappling hooks and the big boat was being
hauled to ground by their fellows below.
After making her fast, they swarmed the sides and searched the
vessel from stem to stern. I could see them examining the dead
sailors, evidently for signs of life, and presently a party of
them appeared from below dragging a little figure among them.
The creature was considerably less than half as tall as the green
Martian warriors, and from my balcony I could see that it walked
erect upon two legs and surmised that it was some new and strange
Martian monstrosity with which I had not as yet become acquainted.
They removed their prisoner to the ground and then commenced a
systematic rifling of the vessel. This operation required several
hours, during which time a number of the chariots were requisitioned
to transport the loot, which consisted in arms, ammunition, silks,
furs, jewels, strangely carved stone vessels, and a quantity of
solid foods and liquids, including many casks of water, the first
I had seen since my advent upon Mars.
After the last load had been removed the warriors made lines fast to
the craft and towed her far out into the valley in a southwesterly
direction. A few of them then boarded her and were busily engaged
in what appeared, from my distant position, as the emptying of the
contents of various carboys upon the dead bodies of the sailors and
over the decks and works of the vessel.
This operation concluded, they hastily clambered over her sides,
sliding down the guy ropes to the ground. The last warrior to leave
the deck turned and threw something back upon the vessel, waiting an
instant to note the outcome of his act. As a faint spurt of flame
rose from the point where the missile struck he swung over the side
and was quickly upon the ground. Scarcely had he alighted than
the guy ropes were simultaneous released, and the great warship,
lightened by the removal of the loot, soared majestically into
the air, her decks and upper works a mass of roaring flames.
Slowly she drifted to the southeast, rising higher and higher as the
flames ate away her wooden parts and diminished the weight upon her.
Ascending to the roof of the building I watched her for hours, until
finally she was lost in the dim vistas of the distance. The sight
was awe-inspiring in the extreme as one contemplated this mighty
floating funeral pyre, drifting unguided and unmanned through
the lonely wastes of the Martian heavens; a derelict of death
and destruction, typifying the life story of these strange and
ferocious creatures into whose unfriendly hands fate had carried it.
Much depressed, and, to me, unaccountably so, I slowly descended to
the street. The scene I had witnessed seemed to mark the defeat
and annihilation of the forces of a kindred people, rather than
the routing by our green warriors of a horde of similar, though
unfriendly, creatures. I could not fathom the seeming
hallucination, nor could I free myself from it; but somewhere in
the innermost recesses of my soul I felt a strange yearning toward
these unknown foemen, and a mighty hope surged through me that the
fleet would return and demand a reckoning from the green warriors
who had so ruthlessly and wantonly attacked it.
Close at my heel, in his now accustomed place, followed Woola, the
hound, and as I emerged upon the street Sola rushed up to me as
though I had been the object of some search on her part. The
cavalcade was returning to the plaza, the homeward march having been
given up for that day; nor, in fact, was it recommenced for more
than a week, owing to the fear of a return attack by the air craft.
Lorquas Ptomel was too astute an old warrior to be caught upon the
open plains with a caravan of chariots and children, and so we
remained at the deserted city until the danger seemed passed.
As Sola and I entered the plaza a sight met my eyes which filled my
whole being with a great surge of mingled hope, fear, exultation,
and depression, and yet most dominant was a subtle sense of relief
and happiness; for just as we neared the throng of Martians I caught
a glimpse of the prisoner from the battle craft who was being
roughly dragged into a nearby building by a couple of green Martian
And the sight which met my eyes was that of a slender, girlish
figure, similar in every detail to the earthly women of my past
life. She did not see me at first, but just as she was disappearing
through the portal of the building which was to be her prison she
turned, and her eyes met mine. Her face was oval and beautiful in
the extreme, her every feature was finely chiseled and exquisite,
her eyes large and lustrous and her head surmounted by a mass of
coal black, waving hair, caught loosely into a strange yet becoming
coiffure. Her skin was of a light reddish copper color, against
which the crimson glow of her cheeks and the ruby of her beautifully
molded lips shone with a strangely enhancing effect.
She was as destitute of clothes as the green Martians who
accompanied her; indeed, save for her highly wrought ornaments she
was entirely naked, nor could any apparel have enhanced the beauty
of her perfect and symmetrical figure.
As her gaze rested on me her eyes opened wide in astonishment, and
she made a little sign with her free hand; a sign which I did not,
of course, understand. Just a moment we gazed upon each other, and
then the look of hope and renewed courage which had glorified her
face as she discovered me, faded into one of utter dejection,
mingled with loathing and contempt. I realized I had not answered
her signal, and ignorant as I was of Martian customs, I intuitively
felt that she had made an appeal for succor and protection which my
unfortunate ignorance had prevented me from answering. And then she
was dragged out of my sight into the depths of the deserted edifice.
I LEARN THE LANGUAGE
As I came back to myself I glanced at Sola, who had witnessed this
encounter and I was surprised to note a strange expression upon her
usually expressionless countenance. What her thoughts were I did
not know, for as yet I had learned but little of the Martian tongue;
enough only to suffice for my daily needs.
As I reached the doorway of our building a strange surprise awaited
me. A warrior approached bearing the arms, ornaments, and full
accouterments of his kind. These he presented to me with a few
unintelligible words, and a bearing at once respectful and menacing.
Later, Sola, with the aid of several of the other women, remodeled
the trappings to fit my lesser proportions, and after they completed
the work I went about garbed in all the panoply of war.
From then on Sola instructed me in the mysteries of the various
weapons, and with the Martian young I spent several hours each day
practicing upon the plaza. I was not yet proficient with all the
weapons, but my great familiarity with similar earthly weapons made
me an unusually apt pupil, and I progressed in a very satisfactory
The training of myself and the young Martians was conducted solely
by the women, who not only attend to the education of the young
in the arts of individual defense and offense, but are also the
artisans who produce every manufactured article wrought by the
green Martians. They make the powder, the cartridges, the firearms;
in fact everything of value is produced by the females. In time
of actual warfare they form a part of the reserves, and when the
necessity arises fight with even greater intelligence and ferocity
than the men.
The men are trained in the higher branches of the art of war; in
strategy and the maneuvering of large bodies of troops. They make
the laws as they are needed; a new law for each emergency. They are
unfettered by precedent in the administration of justice. Customs
have been handed down by ages of repetition, but the punishment for
ignoring a custom is a matter for individual treatment by a jury of
the culprit's peers, and I may say that justice seldom misses fire,
but seems rather to rule in inverse ratio to the ascendency of law.
In one respect at least the Martians are a happy people; they have
I did not see the prisoner again for several days subsequent to our
first encounter, and then only to catch a fleeting glimpse of her as
she was being conducted to the great audience chamber where I had
had my first meeting with Lorquas Ptomel. I could not but note the
unnecessary harshness and brutality with which her guards treated
her; so different from the almost maternal kindliness which Sola
manifested toward me, and the respectful attitude of the few green
Martians who took the trouble to notice me at all.
I had observed on the two occasions when I had seen her that the
prisoner exchanged words with her guards, and this convinced me that
they spoke, or at least could make themselves understood by a common
language. With this added incentive I nearly drove Sola distracted
by my importunities to hasten on my education and within a few more
days I had mastered the Martian tongue sufficiently well to enable
me to carry on a passable conversation and to fully understand
practically all that I heard.
At this time our sleeping quarters were occupied by three or four
females and a couple of the recently hatched young, beside Sola and
her youthful ward, myself, and Woola the hound. After they had
retired for the night it was customary for the adults to carry on a
desultory conversation for a short time before lapsing into sleep,
and now that I could understand their language I was always a keen
listener, although I never proffered any remarks myself.
On the night following the prisoner's visit to the audience chamber
the conversation finally fell upon this subject, and I was all ears
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