A Princess of Mars
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 of approbation.
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
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.