A Princess of Mars
"Tears are a strange sight upon Barsoom," she continued, "and so it is difficult for me to
interpret them. I have seen but two people weep in all my life, other than Dejah Thoris;
one wept from sorrow, the other from baffled rage. The first was my mother, years ago
before they killed her; the other was Sarkoja, when they dragged her from me today."
"Your mother!" I exclaimed, "but, Sola, you could not have known your mother, child."
"But I did. And my father also," she added. "If you would like to hear the strange and un-
Barsoomian story come to the chariot tonight, John Carter, and I will tell you that of
which I have never spoken in all my life before. And now the signal has been given to
resume the march, you must go."
"I will come tonight, Sola," I promised. "Be sure to tell Dejah Thoris I am alive and well.
I shall not force myself upon her, and be sure that you do not let her know I saw her tears.
If she would speak with me I but await her command."
Sola mounted the chariot, which was swinging into its place in line, and I hastened to my
waiting thoat and galloped to my station beside Tars Tarkas at the rear of the column.
We made a most imposing and awe-inspiring spectacle as we strung out across the yellow
landscape; the two hundred and fifty ornate and brightly colored chariots, preceded by an
advance guard of some two hundred mounted warriors and chieftains riding five abreast
and one hundred yards apart, and followed by a like number in the same formation, with
a score or more of flankers on either side; the fifty extra mastodons, or heavy draught
animals, known as zitidars, and the five or six hundred extra thoats of the warriors
running loose within the hollow square formed by the surrounding warriors. The
gleaming metal and jewels of the gorgeous ornaments of the men and women, duplicated
in the trappings of the zitidars and thoats, and interspersed with the flashing colors of
magnificent silks and furs and feathers, lent a barbaric splendor to the caravan which
would have turned an East Indian potentate green with envy.
The enormous broad tires of the chariots and the padded feet of the animals brought forth
no sound from the moss-covered sea bottom; and so we moved in utter silence, like some
huge phantasmagoria, except when the stillness was broken by the guttural growling of a
goaded zitidar, or the squealing of fighting thoats. The green Martians converse but little,
and then usually in monosyllables, low and like the faint rumbling of distant thunder.
We traversed a trackless waste of moss which, bending to the pressure of broad tire or
padded foot, rose up again behind us, leaving no sign that we had passed. We might
indeed have been the wraiths of the departed dead upon the dead sea of that dying planet
for all the sound or sign we made in passing. It was the first march of a large body of men
and animals I had ever witnessed which raised no dust and left no spoor; for there is no
dust upon Mars except in the cultivated districts during the winter months, and even then
the absence of high winds renders it almost unnoticeable.