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A Princess of Mars

We Plan Escape
The remainder of our journey to Thark was uneventful. We were twenty days upon the
road, crossing two sea bottoms and passing through or around a number of ruined cities,
mostly smaller than Korad. Twice we crossed the famous Martian waterways, or canals,
so-called by our earthly astronomers. When we approached these points a warrior would
be sent far ahead with a powerful field glass, and if no great body of red Martian troops
was in sight we would advance as close as possible without chance of being seen and
then camp until dark, when we would slowly approach the cultivated tract, and, locating
one of the numerous, broad highways which cross these areas at regular intervals, creep
silently and stealthily across to the arid lands upon the other side. It required five hours to
make one of these crossings without a single halt, and the other consumed the entire
night, so that we were just leaving the confines of the high-walled fields when the sun
broke out upon us.
Crossing in the darkness, as we did, I was unable to see but little, except as the nearer
moon, in her wild and ceaseless hurtling through the Barsoomian heavens, lit up little
patches of the landscape from time to time, disclosing walled fields and low, rambling
buildings, presenting much the appearance of earthly farms. There were many trees,
methodically arranged, and some of them were of enormous height; there were animals in
some of the enclosures, and they announced their presence by terrified squealings and
snortings as they scented our queer, wild beasts and wilder human beings.
Only once did I perceive a human being, and that was at the intersection of our crossroad
with the wide, white turnpike which cuts each cultivated district longitudinally at its exact
center. The fellow must have been sleeping beside the road, for, as I came abreast of him,
he raised upon one elbow and after a single glance at the approaching caravan leaped
shrieking to his feet and fled madly down the road, scaling a nearby wall with the agility
of a scared cat. The Tharks paid him not the slightest attention; they were not out upon
the warpath, and the only sign that I had that they had seen him was a quickening of the
pace of the caravan as we hastened toward the bordering desert which marked our
entrance into the realm of Tal Hajus.
Not once did I have speech with Dejah Thoris, as she sent no word to me that I would be
welcome at her chariot, and my foolish pride kept me from making any advances. I verily
believe that a man's way with women is in inverse ratio to his prowess among men. The
weakling and the saphead have often great ability to charm the fair sex, while the fighting
man who can face a thousand real dangers unafraid, sits hiding in the shadows like some
frightened child.
Just thirty days after my advent upon Barsoom we entered the ancient city of Thark, from
whose long-forgotten people this horde of green men have stolen even their name. The
hordes of Thark number some thirty thousand souls, and are divided into twenty-five
communities. Each community has its own jed and lesser chieftains, but all are under the
rule of Tal Hajus, Jeddak of Thark. Five communities make their headquarters at the city