A Princess of Mars
around me like a playful puppy presenting its back for the petting it craves. I could not
resist the ludicrousness of the spectacle, and holding my sides I rocked back and forth in
the first laughter which had passed my lips in many days; the first, in fact, since the
morning Powell had left camp when his horse, long unused, had precipitately and
unexpectedly bucked him off headforemost into a pot of frijoles.
My laughter frightened Woola, his antics ceased and he crawled pitifully toward me,
poking his ugly head far into my lap; and then I remembered what laughter signified on
Mars--torture, suffering, death. Quieting myself, I rubbed the poor old fellow's head and
back, talked to him for a few minutes, and then in an authoritative tone commanded him
to follow me, and arising started for the hills.
There was no further question of authority between us; Woola was my devoted slave
from that moment hence, and I his only and undisputed master. My walk to the hills
occupied but a few minutes, and I found nothing of particular interest to reward me.
Numerous brilliantly colored and strangely formed wild flowers dotted the ravines and
from the summit of the first hill I saw still other hills stretching off toward the north, and
rising, one range above another, until lost in mountains of quite respectable dimensions;
though I afterward found that only a few peaks on all Mars exceed four thousand feet in
height; the suggestion of magnitude was merely relative.
My morning's walk had been large with importance to me for it had resulted in a perfect
understanding with Woola, upon whom Tars Tarkas relied for my safe keeping. I now
knew that while theoretically a prisoner I was virtually free, and I hastened to regain the
city limits before the defection of Woola could be discovered by his erstwhile masters.
The adventure decided me never again to leave the limits of my prescribed stamping
grounds until I was ready to venture forth for good and all, as it would certainly result in
a curtailment of my liberties, as well as the probable death of Woola, were we to be
On regaining the plaza I had my third glimpse of the captive girl. She was standing with
her guards before the entrance to the audience chamber, and as I approached she gave me
one haughty glance and turned her back full upon me. The act was so womanly, so
earthly womanly, that though it stung my pride it also warmed my heart with a feeling of
companionship; it was good to know that someone else on Mars beside myself had
human instincts of a civilized order, even though the manifestation of them was so
painful and mortifying.
Had a green Martian woman desired to show dislike or contempt she would, in all
likelihood, have done it with a sword thrust or a movement of her trigger finger; but as
their sentiments are mostly atrophied it would have required a serious injury to have
aroused such passions in them. Sola, let me add, was an exception; I never saw her
perform a cruel or uncouth act, or fail in uniform kindliness and good nature. She was
indeed, as her fellow Martian had said of her, an atavism; a dear and precious reversion to
a former type of loved and loving ancestor.