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A Princess of Mars

So this was love! I had escaped it for all the years I had roamed the five continents and
their encircling seas; in spite of beautiful women and urging opportunity; in spite of a
half-desire for love and a constant search for my ideal, it had remained for me to fall
furiously and hopelessly in love with a creature from another world, of a species similar
possibly, yet not identical with mine. A woman who was hatched from an egg, and whose
span of life might cover a thousand years; whose people had strange customs and ideas; a
woman whose hopes, whose pleasures, whose standards of virtue and of right and wrong
might vary as greatly from mine as did those of the green Martians.
Yes, I was a fool, but I was in love, and though I was suffering the greatest misery I had
ever known I would not have had it otherwise for all the riches of Barsoom. Such is love,
and such are lovers wherever love is known.
To me, Dejah Thoris was all that was perfect; all that was virtuous and beautiful and
noble and good. I believed that from the bottom of my heart, from the depth of my soul
on that night in Korad as I sat cross-legged upon my silks while the nearer moon of
Barsoom raced through the western sky toward the horizon, and lighted up the gold and
marble, and jeweled mosaics of my world-old chamber, and I believe it today as I sit at
my desk in the little study overlooking the Hudson. Twenty years have intervened; for ten
of them I lived and fought for Dejah Thoris and her people, and for ten I have lived upon
her memory.
The morning of our departure for Thark dawned clear and hot, as do all Martian mornings
except for the six weeks when the snow melts at the poles.
I sought out Dejah Thoris in the throng of departing chariots, but she turned her shoulder
to me, and I could see the red blood mount to her cheek. With the foolish inconsistency
of love I held my peace when I might have plead ignorance of the nature of my offense,
or at least the gravity of it, and so have effected, at worst, a half conciliation.
My duty dictated that I must see that she was comfortable, and so I glanced into her
chariot and rearranged her silks and furs. In doing so I noted with horror that she was
heavily chained by one ankle to the side of the vehicle.
"What does this mean?" I cried, turning to Sola.
"Sarkoja thought it best," she answered, her face betokening her disapproval of the
procedure.
Examining the manacles I saw that they fastened with a massive spring lock.
"Where is the key, Sola? Let me have it."
"Sarkoja wears it, John Carter," she answered.
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