The Gods of Mars
TWELVE years had passed since I had laid the body of my great-uncle, Captain John
Carter, of Virginia, away from the sight of men in that strange mausoleum in the old
cemetery at Richmond.
Often had I pondered on the odd instructions he had left me governing the construction of
his mighty tomb, and especially those parts which directed that he be laid in an OPEN
casket and that the ponderous mechanism which controlled the bolts of the vault's huge
door be accessible ONLY FROM THE INSIDE.
Twelve years had passed since I had read the remarkable manuscript of this remarkable
man; this man who remembered no childhood and who could not even offer a vague
guess as to his age; who was always young and yet who had dandled my grandfather's
great-grandfather upon his knee; this man who had spent ten years upon the planet Mars;
who had fought for the green men of Barsoom and fought against them; who had fought
for and against the red men and who had won the ever beautiful Dejah Thoris, Princess of
Helium, for his wife, and for nearly ten years had been a prince of the house of Tardos
Mors, Jeddak of Helium.
Twelve years had passed since his body had been found upon the bluff before his cottage
overlooking the Hudson, and oft- times during these long years I had wondered if John
Carter were really dead, or if he again roamed the dead sea bottoms of that dying planet;
if he had returned to Barsoom to find that he had opened the frowning portals of the
mighty atmosphere plant in time to save the countless millions who were dying of
asphyxiation on that far-gone day that had seen him hurtled ruthlessly through forty-eight
million miles of space back to Earth once more. I had wondered if he had found his
black-haired Princess and the slender son he had dreamed was with her in the royal
gardens of Tardos Mors, awaiting his return.
Or, had he found that he had been too late, and thus gone back to a living death upon a
dead world? Or was he really dead after all, never to return either to his mother Earth or
his beloved Mars?
Thus was I lost in useless speculation one sultry August evening when old Ben, my body
servant, handed me a telegram. Tearing it open I read:
'Meet me to-morrow hotel Raleigh Richmond.
Early the next morning I took the first train for Richmond and within two hours was
being ushered into the room occupied by John Carter.