A Princess of Mars HTML version
My revolvers were strapped to my lifeless body which, for some unfathomable reason, I
could not bring myself to touch. My carbine was in its boot, strapped to my saddle, and as
my horse had wandered off I was left without means of defense. My only alternative
seemed to lie in flight and my decision was crystallized by a recurrence of the rustling
sound from the thing which now seemed, in the darkness of the cave and to my distorted
imagination, to be creeping stealthily upon me.
Unable longer to resist the temptation to escape this horrible place I leaped quickly
through the opening into the starlight of a clear Arizona night. The crisp, fresh mountain
air outside the cave acted as an immediate tonic and I felt new life and new courage
coursing through me. Pausing upon the brink of the ledge I upbraided myself for what
now seemed to me wholly unwarranted apprehension. I reasoned with myself that I had
lain helpless for many hours within the cave, yet nothing had molested me, and my better
judgment, when permitted the direction of clear and logical reasoning, convinced me that
the noises I had heard must have resulted from purely natural and harmless causes;
probably the conformation of the cave was such that a slight breeze had caused the
sounds I heard.
I decided to investigate, but first I lifted my head to fill my lungs with the pure,
invigorating night air of the mountains. As I did so I saw stretching far below me the
beautiful vista of rocky gorge, and level, cacti-studded flat, wrought by the moonlight
into a miracle of soft splendor and wondrous enchantment.
Few western wonders are more inspiring than the beauties of an Arizona moonlit
landscape; the silvered mountains in the distance, the strange lights and shadows upon
hog back and arroyo, and the grotesque details of the stiff, yet beautiful cacti form a
picture at once enchanting and inspiring; as though one were catching for the first time a
glimpse of some dead and forgotten world, so different is it from the aspect of any other
spot upon our earth.
As I stood thus meditating, I turned my gaze from the landscape to the heavens where the
myriad stars formed a gorgeous and fitting canopy for the wonders of the earthly scene.
My attention was quickly riveted by a large red star close to the distant horizon. As I
gazed upon it I felt a spell of overpowering fascination--it was Mars, the god of war, and
for me, the fighting man, it had always held the power of irresistible enchantment. As I
gazed at it on that far-gone night it seemed to call across the unthinkable void, to lure me
to it, to draw me as the lodestone attracts a particle of iron.
My longing was beyond the power of opposition; I closed my eyes, stretched out my
arms toward the god of my vocation and felt myself drawn with the suddenness of
thought through the trackless immensity of space. There was an instant of extreme cold
and utter darkness.