A Princess of Mars HTML version

themselves understood by a common language. With this added incentive I nearly drove
Sola distracted by my importunities to hasten on my education and within a few more
days I had mastered the Martian tongue sufficiently well to enable me to carry on a
passable conversation and to fully understand practically all that I heard.
At this time our sleeping quarters were occupied by three or four females and a couple of
the recently hatched young, beside Sola and her youthful ward, myself, and Woola the
hound. After they had retired for the night it was customary for the adults to carry on a
desultory conversation for a short time before lapsing into sleep, and now that I could
understand their language I was always a keen listener, although I never proffered any
remarks myself.
On the night following the prisoner's visit to the audience chamber the conversation
finally fell upon this subject, and I was all ears on the instant. I had feared to question
Sola relative to the beautiful captive, as I could not but recall the strange expression I had
noted upon her face after my first encounter with the prisoner. That it denoted jealousy I
could not say, and yet, judging all things by mundane standards as I still did, I felt it safer
to affect indifference in the matter until I learned more surely Sola's attitude toward the
object of my solicitude.
Sarkoja, one of the older women who shared our domicile, had been present at the
audience as one of the captive's guards, and it was toward her the question turned.
"When," asked one of the women, "will we enjoy the death throes of the red one? or does
Lorquas Ptomel, Jed, intend holding her for ransom?"
"They have decided to carry her with us back to Thark, and exhibit her last agonies at the
great games before Tal Hajus," replied Sarkoja.
"What will be the manner of her going out?" inquired Sola. "She is very small and very
beautiful; I had hoped that they would hold her for ransom."
Sarkoja and the other women grunted angrily at this evidence of weakness on the part of
"It is sad, Sola, that you were not born a million years ago," snapped Sarkoja, "when all
the hollows of the land were filled with water, and the peoples were as soft as the stuff
they sailed upon. In our day we have progressed to a point where such sentiments mark
weakness and atavism. It will not be well for you to permit Tars Tarkas to learn that you
hold such degenerate sentiments, as I doubt that he would care to entrust such as you with
the grave responsibilities of maternity."
"I see nothing wrong with my expression of interest in this red woman," retorted Sola.
"She has never harmed us, nor would she should we have fallen into her hands. It is only
the men of her kind who war upon us, and I have ever thought that their attitude toward
us is but the reflection of ours toward them. They live at peace with all their fellows,