A Princess of Mars HTML version
jumper. Furthermore, I could see from the shortness of his legs that the brute himself was
no jumper and probably no runner.
Slowly and carefully, therefore, I gained my feet, only to see that my watcher did the
same; cautiously I advanced toward him, finding that by moving with a shuffling gait I
could retain my balance as well as make reasonably rapid progress. As I neared the brute
he backed cautiously away from me, and when I had reached the open he moved to one
side to let me pass. He then fell in behind me and followed about ten paces in my rear as I
made my way along the deserted street.
Evidently his mission was to protect me only, I thought, but when we reached the edge of
the city he suddenly sprang before me, uttering strange sounds and baring his ugly and
ferocious tusks. Thinking to have some amusement at his expense, I rushed toward him,
and when almost upon him sprang into the air, alighting far beyond him and away from
the city. He wheeled instantly and charged me with the most appalling speed I had ever
beheld. I had thought his short legs a bar to swiftness, but had he been coursing with
greyhounds the latter would have appeared as though asleep on a door mat. As I was to
learn, this is the fleetest animal on Mars, and owing to its intelligence, loyalty, and
ferocity is used in hunting, in war, and as the protector of the Martian man.
I quickly saw that I would have difficulty in escaping the fangs of the beast on a
straightaway course, and so I met his charge by doubling in my tracks and leaping over
him as he was almost upon me. This maneuver gave me a considerable advantage, and I
was able to reach the city quite a bit ahead of him, and as he came tearing after me I
jumped for a window about thirty feet from the ground in the face of one of the buildings
overlooking the valley.
Grasping the sill I pulled myself up to a sitting posture without looking into the building,
and gazed down at the baffled animal beneath me. My exultation was short-lived,
however, for scarcely had I gained a secure seat upon the sill than a huge hand grasped
me by the neck from behind and dragged me violently into the room. Here I was thrown
upon my back, and beheld standing over me a colossal ape-like creature, white and
hairless except for an enormous shock of bristly hair upon its head.