A Princess of Mars HTML version
In The Atmosphere Factory
For two days I waited there for Kantos Kan, but as he did not come I started off on foot in
a northwesterly direction toward a point where he had told me lay the nearest waterway.
My only food consisted of vegetable milk from the plants which gave so bounteously of
this priceless fluid.
Through two long weeks I wandered, stumbling through the nights guided only by the
stars and hiding during the days behind some protruding rock or among the occasional
hills I traversed. Several times I was attacked by wild beasts; strange, uncouth
monstrosities that leaped upon me in the dark, so that I had ever to grasp my long-sword
in my hand that I might be ready for them. Usually my strange, newly acquired telepathic
power warned me in ample time, but once I was down with vicious fangs at my jugular
and a hairy face pressed close to mine before I knew that I was even threatened.
What manner of thing was upon me I did not know, but that it was large and heavy and
many-legged I could feel. My hands were at its throat before the fangs had a chance to
bury themselves in my neck, and slowly I forced the hairy face from me and closed my
fingers, vise-like, upon its windpipe.
Without sound we lay there, the beast exerting every effort to reach me with those awful
fangs, and I straining to maintain my grip and choke the life from it as I kept it from my
throat. Slowly my arms gave to the unequal struggle, and inch by inch the burning eyes
and gleaming tusks of my antagonist crept toward me, until, as the hairy face touched
mine again, I realized that all was over. And then a living mass of destruction sprang
from the surrounding darkness full upon the creature that held me pinioned to the ground.
The two rolled growling upon the moss, tearing and rending one another in a frightful
manner, but it was soon over and my preserver stood with lowered head above the throat
of the dead thing which would have killed me.
The nearer moon, hurtling suddenly above the horizon and lighting up the Barsoomian
scene, showed me that my preserver was Woola, but from whence he had come, or how
found me, I was at a loss to know. That I was glad of his companionship it is needless to
say, but my pleasure at seeing him was tempered by anxiety as to the reason of his
leaving Dejah Thoris. Only her death I felt sure, could account for his absence from her,
so faithful I knew him to be to my commands.
By the light of the now brilliant moons I saw that he was but a shadow of his former self,
and as he turned from my caress and commenced greedily to devour the dead carcass at
my feet I realized that the poor fellow was more than half starved. I, myself, was in but
little better plight but I could not bring myself to eat the uncooked flesh and I had no
means of making a fire. When Woola had finished his meal I again took up my weary and
seemingly endless wandering in quest of the elusive waterway.