A Princess of Mars HTML version
My absence had been noted by Sola on her awakening, and she had quickly informed
Tars Tarkas, who had set out immediately with a handful of warriors to search for me. As
they had approached the limits of the city they had witnessed the actions of the bull ape
as he bolted into the building, frothing with rage.
They had followed immediately behind him, thinking it barely possible that his actions
might prove a clew to my whereabouts and had witnessed my short but decisive battle
with him. This encounter, together with my set-to with the Martian warrior on the
previous day and my feats of jumping placed me upon a high pinnacle in their regard.
Evidently devoid of all the finer sentiments of friendship, love, or affection, these people
fairly worship physical prowess and bravery, and nothing is too good for the object of
their adoration as long as he maintains his position by repeated examples of his skill,
strength, and courage.
Sola, who had accompanied the searching party of her own volition, was the only one of
the Martians whose face had not been twisted in laughter as I battled for my life. She, on
the contrary, was sober with apparent solicitude and, as soon as I had finished the
monster, rushed to me and carefully examined my body for possible wounds or injuries.
Satisfying herself that I had come off unscathed she smiled quietly, and, taking my hand,
started toward the door of the chamber.
Tars Tarkas and the other warriors had entered and were standing over the now rapidly
reviving brute which had saved my life, and whose life I, in turn, had rescued. They
seemed to be deep in argument, and finally one of them addressed me, but remembering
my ignorance of his language turned back to Tars Tarkas, who, with a word and gesture,
gave some command to the fellow and turned to follow us from the room.
There seemed something menacing in their attitude toward my beast, and I hesitated to
leave until I had learned the outcome. It was well I did so, for the warrior drew an evil
looking pistol from its holster and was on the point of putting an end to the creature when
I sprang forward and struck up his arm. The bullet striking the wooden casing of the
window exploded, blowing a hole completely through the wood and masonry.
I then knelt down beside the fearsome-looking thing, and raising it to its feet motioned
for it to follow me. The looks of surprise which my actions elicited from the Martians
were ludicrous; they could not understand, except in a feeble and childish way, such
attributes as gratitude and compassion. The warrior whose gun I had struck up looked
enquiringly at Tars Tarkas, but the latter signed that I be left to my own devices, and so
we returned to the plaza with my great beast following close at heel, and Sola grasping
me tightly by the arm.
I had at least two friends on Mars; a young woman who watched over me with motherly
solicitude, and a dumb brute which, as I later came to know, held in its poor ugly carcass
more love, more loyalty, more gratitude than could have been found in the entire five
million green Martians who rove the deserted cities and dead sea bottoms of Mars.