The Gods of Mars HTML version

Chapter 18. Sola's Story
Once within the palace, I drew Sola to the dining hall, and, when she had greeted her
father after the formal manner of the green men, she told the story of the pilgrimage and
capture of Dejah Thoris.
"Seven days ago, after her audience with Zat Arras, Dejah Thoris attempted to slip from
the palace in the dead of night. Although I had not heard the outcome of her interview
with Zat Arras I knew that something had occurred then to cause her the keenest mental
agony, and when I discovered her creeping from the palace I did not need to be told her
"Hastily arousing a dozen of her most faithful guards, I explained my fears to them, and
as one they enlisted with me to follow our beloved Princess in her wanderings, even to
the Sacred Iss and the Valley Dor. We came upon her but a short distance from the
palace. With her was faithful Woola the hound, but none other. When we overtook her
she feigned anger, and ordered us back to the palace, but for once we disobeyed her, and
when she found that we would not let her go upon the last long pilgrimage alone, she
wept and embraced us, and together we went out into the night toward the south.
"The following day we came upon a herd of small thoats, and thereafter we were
mounted and made good time. We travelled very fast and very far due south until the
morning of the fifth day we sighted a great fleet of battleships sailing north. They saw us
before we could seek shelter, and soon we were surrounded by a horde of black men. The
Princess's guard fought nobly to the end, but they were soon overcome and slain. Only
Dejah Thoris and I were spared.
When she realized that she was in the clutches of the black pirates, she attempted to take
her own life, but one of the blacks tore her dagger from her, and then they bound us both
so that we could not use our hands.
"The fleet continued north after capturing us. There were about twenty large battleships
in all, besides a number of small swift cruisers. That evening one of the smaller cruisers
that had been far in advance of the fleet returned with a prisoner--a young red woman
whom they had picked up in a range of hills under the very noses, they said, of a fleet of
three red Martian battleships.
"From scraps of conversation which we overheard it was evident that the black pirates
were searching for a party of fugitives that had escaped them several days prior. That
they considered the capture of the young woman important was evident from the long and
earnest interview the commander of the fleet held with her when she was brought to him.
Later she was bound and placed in the compartment with Dejah Thoris and myself.
"The new captive was a very beautiful girl. She told Dejah Thoris that many years ago
she had taken the voluntary pilgrimage from the court of her father, the Jeddak of Ptarth.