A Princess of Mars HTML version
A Fight That Won Friends
The thing, which more nearly resembled our earthly men than it did the Martians I had
seen, held me pinioned to the ground with one huge foot, while it jabbered and
gesticulated at some answering creature behind me. This other, which was evidently its
mate, soon came toward us, bearing a mighty stone cudgel with which it evidently
intended to brain me.
The creatures were about ten or fifteen feet tall, standing erect, and had, like the green
Martians, an intermediary set of arms or legs, midway between their upper and lower
limbs. Their eyes were close together and non-protruding; their ears were high set, but
more laterally located than those of the Martians, while their snouts and teeth were
strikingly like those of our African gorilla. Altogether they were not unlovely when
viewed in comparison with the green Martians.
The cudgel was swinging in the arc which ended upon my upturned face when a bolt of
myriad-legged horror hurled itself through the doorway full upon the breast of my
executioner. With a shriek of fear the ape which held me leaped through the open
window, but its mate closed in a terrific death struggle with my preserver, which was
nothing less than my faithful watch-thing; I cannot bring myself to call so hideous a
creature a dog.
As quickly as possible I gained my feet and backing against the wall I witnessed such a
battle as it is vouchsafed few beings to see. The strength, agility, and blind ferocity of
these two creatures is approached by nothing known to earthly man. My beast had an
advantage in his first hold, having sunk his mighty fangs far into the breast of his
adversary; but the great arms and paws of the ape, backed by muscles far transcending
those of the Martian men I had seen, had locked the throat of my guardian and slowly
were choking out his life, and bending back his head and neck upon his body, where I
momentarily expected the former to fall limp at the end of a broken neck.
In accomplishing this the ape was tearing away the entire front of its breast, which was
held in the vise-like grip of the powerful jaws. Back and forth upon the floor they rolled,
neither one emitting a sound of fear or pain. Presently I saw the great eyes of my beast
bulging completely from their sockets and blood flowing from its nostrils. That he was
weakening perceptibly was evident, but so also was the ape, whose struggles were
growing momentarily less.
Suddenly I came to myself and, with that strange instinct which seems ever to prompt me
to my duty, I seized the cudgel, which had fallen to the floor at the commencement of the
battle, and swinging it with all the power of my earthly arms I crashed it full upon the
head of the ape, crushing his skull as though it had been an eggshell.
Scarcely had the blow descended when I was confronted with a new danger. The ape's
mate, recovered from its first shock of terror, had returned to the scene of the encounter