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Title:      Skeleton Men of Jupiter (1942)
Author:     Edgar Rice Burroughs
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Title:      Skeleton Men of Jupiter (1942)
Author:     Edgar Rice Burroughs

DUPLICATE--DELETE 





FOREWORD

Particularly disliking forewords, I seldom read them; yet it seems that I
scarcely ever write a story that I do not inflict a foreword on my
long-suffering readers. Occasionally I also have to inject a little
weather and scenery in my deathless classics, two further examples of
literary racketeering that I especially deplore in the writings of
others. Yet there is something to be said in extenuation of weather and
scenery, which, together with adjectives, do much to lighten the burdens
of authors and run up their word count.

Still, there is little excuse for forewords; and if this were my story
there would be none. However, it is not my story. It is John Carter's
story. I am merely his amanuensis.  On guard! John Carter takes his sword
in hand.

EDGAR RICE BURROUGHS





ONE

BETRAYED

I am no scientist. I am a fighting man. My most beloved weapon is the
sword, and during a long life I have seen no reason to alter my theories
as to its proper application to the many problems with which I have been
faced. This is not true of the scientists. They are constantly abandoning
one theory for another one. The law of gravitation is about the only
theory that has held throughout my lifetime--and if the earth should
suddenly start rotating seventeen times faster than it now does, even the
law of gravitation would fail us and we would all go sailing off into
space.

Theories come and theories go--scientific theories. I recall that there
was once a theory that Time and Space moved forward constantly in a
straight line. There was also a theory that neither Time nor Space
existed--it was all in your mind's eye. Then came the theory that Time and
Space curved in upon themselves. Tomorrow, some scientist may show us
reams and reams of paper and hundreds of square feet of blackboard
covered with equations, formulae, signs, symbols, and diagrams to prove
that Time and Space curve out away from themselves. Then our theoretic
universe will come tumbling about our ears, and we shall have to start
all over again from scratch.

Like many fighting men, I am inclined to be credulous concerning matters
outside my vocation; or at least I used to be. I believed whatever the
scientists said. Long ago, I believed with Flammarion that Mars was
habitable and inhabited; then a newer and more reputable school of
scientists convinced me that it was neither. Without losing hope, I was
yet forced to believe them until I came to Mars to live. They still
insist that Mars is neither habitable or inhabited, but I live here. Fact
and theory seem to be opposed. Unquestionably, the scientists appear to
be correct in theory. Equally incontrovertible is it that I am correct in
fact.

In the adventure that I am about to narrate, fact and theory will again
cross swords. I hate to do this to my long-suffering scientific friends;
but if they would only consult me first rather than dogmatically
postulating theories which do not meet with popular acclaim, they would
save themselves much embarrassment.

Dejah Thoris, my incomparable princess, and I were sitting upon a carved
ersite bench in one of the gardens of our palace in Lesser Helium when an
officer in the leather of Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium, approached and
saluted.

"From Tardos Mors to John Carter, Kaor!" he said. "The jeddak requests
your immediate presence in the Hall of Jeddaks in the imperial palace in
Greater Helium."

"At once," I replied.

"May I fly you over, sir?" he asked. "I came in a two-seater."

"Thanks," I replied. "I'll join you at the hangar in a moment." He
saluted and left us.

"Who was he?" asked Dejah Thoris. "I don't recall ever having seen him
before."

"Probably one of the new officers from Zor, whom Tardos Mors has
commissioned in the Jeddak's Guard. It was a gesture of his, made to
assure Zor that he has the utmost confidence in the loyalty of that city
and as a measure for healing old wounds."

Zor, which lies about three hundred eighty miles southeast of Helium, is
one of the most recent conquests of Helium and had given us a great deal
of trouble in the past because of treasonable acts instigated by a branch
of its royal family led by one Multis Par, a prince. About five years
before the events I am about to narrate occurred, this Multis Par had
disappeared; and since then Zor had given us no trouble. No one knew what
had become of the man, and it was supposed that he had either taken the
last, long voyage down the river Iss to the Lost Sea of Korus in the
Valley Dor or had been captured and murdered by members of some horde of
savage Green men. Nor did anyone appear to care-just so he never returned
to Zor, where he was thoroughly hated for his arrogance and cruelty.

"I hope that my revered grandfather does not keep you long," said Dejah
Thoris. "We are having a few guests for dinner tonight, and I do not wish
you to be late."

"A few!" I said. "How many? Two hundred or three hundred?"

"Don't be impossible," she said, laughing, "Really, only a few."

"A thousand, if it pleases you, my dear," I assured her as I kissed her.
"And now, good-by! I'll doubtless be back within the hour." That was a
year ago!

As I ran up the ramp toward the hangar on the palace roof, I had, for
some then unaccountable reason, a sense of impending ill; but I
attributed it to the fact that my tête-à-tête with my princess had been
so quickly interrupted.

The thin air of dying Mars renders the transition from day to night
startlingly sudden to an earthman. Twilight is of short duration owing to
the negligible refraction of the sun's rays. When I had left Dejah
Thoris, the sun, though low, was still shining; the garden was in shadow,
but it was still daylight. When I stepped from the head of the ramp to
that part of the roof of the palace where the hangar was located which
housed the private fliers of the family, dim twilight partially obscured
my vision. It would soon be dark. I wondered why the hangar guard had not
switched on the lights.

In the very instant that I realized that something was amiss, a score of
men surrounded and overpowered me before I could draw and defend myself.
A voice cautioned me to silence. It was the voice of the man who had
summoned me into this trap, When the others spoke, it was in a language I
had never heard before. They spoke in dismal, hollow monotone,
expressionless, sepulchral.

They had thrown me face down upon the pavement and trussed my wrists
behind my back. Then they jerked me roughly to my feet. Now, for the
first time, I obtained a fairly good sight of my captors. I was appalled.
I could not believe my own eyes. These things were not men. They were
human skeletons! Black eye sockets looked out from grinning skulls. Bony,
skeletal fingers grasped my arms. It seemed to me that I could see every
bone in each body. Yet the things were alive! They moved. They spoke.
They dragged me toward a strange craft that I had not before noticed. It
lay in the shadow of the hangar, long, lean, sinister. It looked like an
enormous projectile, with rounded nose and tapering tail In the first
brief glance I had of it, I saw fins forward below its median line, a
long, longitudinal aileron (or so I judged it to be) running almost the
full length of the ship, and strangely designed elevator and rudder as
part of the empennage ??assembly. I saw no propellors; but then I had
little time for close examination of the strange craft, as I was quickly
hustled through a doorway in its metal side. The interior was pitch dark.
I could see nothing other than the faint light of the dying day visible
through long, narrow portholes in the ship's side.

The man who had betrayed me followed me into the ship with my captors.
The door was closed and securely fastened; then the ship rose silently
into the night. No light showed upon it, within or without. However, I
was certain that one of our patrol ships must see it; then, if nothing
more, my people would have a clew upon which to account for my
disappearance; and before dawn a thousand ships of the navy of Helium
would be scouring the surface of Barsoom and the air above it in search
of me, nor could any ship the size of this find hiding place wherein to
elude them.

Once above the city, the lights of which I could see below us, the craft
shot away at appalling speed. Nothing upon Barsoom could have hoped to
overhaul it. It moved at great speed and in utter silence. The cabin
lights were switched on. I was disarmed and my hands were freed. I looked
with revulsion, almost with horror, upon the twenty or thirty creatures
which surrounded me.

I saw now that they were not skeletons, though they still closely
resembled the naked bones of dead men. Parchment-like skin was stretched
tightly over the bony structure of the skull. There seemed to be neither
cartilage nor fat underlying it. What I had thought were hollow eye
sockets were deep set brown eyes showing no whites. The skin of the face
merged with what should have been gums at the roots of the teeth, which
were fully exposed in both jaws, precisely as are the teeth of a naked
skull. The nose was but a gaping hole in the center of the face. There
were no external ears, only the orifices, nor was there any hair upon any
of the exposed parts of their bodies nor upon their heads. The things
were even more hideous than the hideous kaldanes of Bantoom those
horrifying spider men into whose toils fell Tara of Helium during that
adventure which led her to the country of The Chessmen of Mars; they, at
least, had beautiful bodies, even though they were not their own.

The bodies of my captors harmonized perfectly with their heads-parchment
like skin covered the bones of their limbs so tightly that it was
difficult to convince one's self that it was not true bone that was
exposed. And so tightly was this skin drawn over their torsos that every
rib and every vertebra stood out in plain and disgusting relief. When
they stood directly in front of a bright light, I could see their
internal organs.

They wore no clothing other than a G-string. Their harness was quite
similar to that which we Barsoomians wear, which is not at all
remarkable, since it was designed to serve the same purpose, supporting a
sword, a dagger, and a pocket pouch.

Disgusted, I turned away from them to look down upon the moon bathed
surface of my beloved Mars. But where was it! Close to port was Cluros,
the farther moon! I caught a glimpse of its surface as we flashed by.
Fourteen thousand five hundred miles in a little more than a minute! It
was incredible.

The red man who had engineered my capture came and sat down beside me.
His rather handsome face was sad. "I am sorry, John Carter," he said.
"Perhaps, if you will permit me to explain, you will at least understand
why I did it. I do not expect that you will ever forgive me."

"Where is this ship taking me?" I demanded.

"To Sasoom," he said.

Sasoom! That is the Barsoomian name for Jupiter three hundred and
forty-two million miles from the palace where my Dejah Thoris awaited me!

TWO

U DAN

For some time I sat in silence, gazing out in the inky black void of
space, a Stygian backdrop against which stars and planets shone with
intense brilliancy, steady and untwinkling. To port or starboard, above,
below, the heavens stared at me with unblinking eyes-millions of white
hot, penetrating eyes. Many questions harrassed my mind. Had I been
especially signalled out for capture? If so, why? How had this large ship
been able to enter Helium and settle upon my landing stage in broad
daylight? Who was this sad-faced, apologetic man who had led me into such
a trap? He could have nothing against me personally. Never, before he had
stepped into my garden, had I seen him.

It was he who broke the silence. It was as though he had read my
thoughts. "You wonder why you are here, John Carter," he said. "If you
will bear with me, I shall tell you. In the first place, let me introduce
myself. I am U Dan, formerly a padwar in the guard of Zu Tith, the Jed of
Zor who was killed in battle when Helium overthrew his tyrannical reign
and annexed the city."

"My sympathies were all upon the side of Helium, and I saw a brilliant
and happy future for my beloved city once she was a part of the great
Heliumetic empire. I fought against Helium; because it was my sworn duty
to defend the jed I loathed-a monster of tyranny and cruelty-but when the
war was over, I gladly swore allegiance to Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium.

"I had been raised in the palace of the jed in utmost intimacy with the
members of the royal family. I knew them all well, especially Multis Par,
the prince, who; in the natural course of events, would have succeeded to
the throne. He was of a kind with his father, Zu Tith-arrogant, cruel,
tyrannical by nature. After the fall of Zor, he sought to foment discord
and arouse the people to revolt. When he failed, he disappeared. That was
about five years ago.

"Another member of the royal family whom I knew well was as unlike Zu
Tith and Multis Par as day is unlike night Her name is Vaja. She is a
cousin of Multis Par. I loved her and she loved me. We were to have been
married, when, about two years after the disappearance of Multis Par,
Vaja mysteriously disappeared."

I did not understand why he was telling me all this. I was certainly not
interested in his love affairs. I was not interested in him. I was still
less interested, if possible, in Multis Par; but I listened.

"I searched," he continued. "The governor of Zor gave me every assistance
within his power, but all to no avail. Then, one night, Multis Par
entered my quarters when I was alone. He wasted no time. He came directly
to the point.

"I suppose," he said, "that you are wondering what has become of Vaja."

I knew then that he had been instrumental in her abduction; and I feared
the worst, for I knew the type of man he was. I whipped out my sword.

"Where is she?" I demanded. "Tell me, if you care to live."

He only laughed at me. "Don't be a fool," he said. "If you kill me you
will never see her again. You will never even know where she is. Work
with me, and you may have her back. But you will have to work fast, as I
am becoming very fond of her. It is odd," he added reminiscently, "that I
could have lived for years in the same palace with her and have been
blind to her many charms, both mental and physical--especially physical."

"Where is she?" I demanded. "If you have harmed her, you beast."

"Don't call names, U Dan," he said. "If you annoy me too greatly I may
keep her for myself and enlist the services of some one other than you to
assist me with the plan I had come to explain to you. I thought you would
be more sensible. You used to be a very sensible man; but then, of
course, love plays strange tricks upon one's mental processes. I am
commencing to find that out in my own case." He gave a nasty little
laugh. "But don't worry," he continued. "She is quite safe--so far. How
much longer she will be safe depends wholly upon you.

"Where is she?" I demanded.

"Where you can never get her without my help," he replied. "If she is
anywhere upon all Barsoom, I shall find her," I said.

"She is not on Barsoom. She is on Sasoom."

"You lie, Multis Par," I said.

He shrugged, indifferently. "Perhaps you will believe her," he said, and
handed me a letter. It was indeed from Vaja. I recall its message word
for word:

"Incredible as it may seem to you, I am a prisoner on Sasoom. Multis Par
has promised to bring you here to me if you will perform what he calls a
small favor for him. I do not know what he is going to ask of you; but
unless it can be honorably done, do not do it. I am safe and unharmed."

"What is it you wish me to do?" I asked.

I shall not attempt to quote his exact words; but this, in effect, is
what he told me: Multis Par's disappearance from Zor was caused by his
capture by men from Sasoom. For some time they had been coming to this
planet, reconnoitering, having in mind the eventual conquest of Barsoom.

I asked him for what reason, and he explained that it was simply because
they were a warlike race. Their every thought was of war, as it had been
for ages until the warlike spirit was as compelling as the urge for
self-preservation. They had conquered all other peoples upon Sasoom and
sought a new world to conquer.

They had captured him to learn what they could of the armaments and
military effectiveness of various Barsoomian nations, and had decided
that as Helium was the most powerful, it would be Helium upon which they
would descend.

Helium once disposed of the rest of Barsoom would, they assumed, be easy
to conquer.

"And where do I come in in this scheme of theirs?" I asked. "I am coming
to that," said U Dan. "The Morgors are a thorough-going and efficient
people. They neglect no littlest detail which might effect the success or
failure of a campaign. They already have excellent maps of Barsoom and
considerable data relative to the fleets and armament of the principal
nations. They now wish to check this data and obtain full information as
to the war technique of the Heliumites. This they expect to get from you.
This they will get from you."

I smiled. "Neither they nor you rate the honor and loyalty of a Heliumite
very highly."

A sad smile crossed his lips. "I know how you feel," he said. "I felt the
same way-until they captured Vaja and her life became the price of my
acquiescence. Only to save her did I agree to act as a decoy to aid in
your capture. The Morgors are adepts in individual and mass psychology as
well as in the art of war."

"These things are Morgors?" I asked, nodding in the direction of some of
the repulsive creatures. U Dan nodded. "I can appreciate the position in
which you have been placed," I said, "but the Morgors have no such hold
on me."

"Wait," said U Dan.

"What do you mean?" I demanded.

"Just wait. They will find a way. They are fiends. No one could have
convinced me before Multis Par came to me with his proposition that I
could have been forced to betray a man whom I, with all decent men,
admire as I have admired you, John Carter. Perhaps I was wrong, but when
I learned that Vaja would be tortured and mutilated after Multis Par had
had his way with her and even then not be allowed to die but kept for
future torture, I weakened and gave in. I do not expect you to forgive,
but I hope that you will understand."

"I do understand," I said. "Perhaps, under like circumstances, I should
have done the same thing." I could see how terribly the man's conscience
tortured him. I could see that he was essentially a man of honor. I could
forgive him for the thing that he had done for an innocent creature whom
he loved, but could he expect me to betray my country, betray my whole
world, to save a woman I had never seen. Still, I was bothered. Frankly,
I did not know what I should do when faced with the final decision. "At
least," I said, "should I ever be situated as you were, I could appear to
comply while secretly working to defeat their ends."

"It was thus that I thought," he said. "It is still the final shred by
which I cling to my self-respect. Perhaps, before it is too Late, I may
still be able to save both Vaja and yourself."

"Perhaps we can work together to that end and to the salvation of
Helium," I said; "though I am really not greatly worried about Helium. I
think she can take care of herself."

He shook his head. "Not if a part, even, of what Multis Par has told me
is true. They will come in thousands of these ships, invisible to the
inhabitants of Barsoom. Perhaps two million of them will invade Helium
and overrun her two principal cities before a single inhabitant is aware
that a single enemy threatens their security. They will come with lethal
weapons of which Barsoomians know nothing and which they cannot,
therefore, combat."

"Invisible ships!" I exclaimed. "Why I saw this one plainly after I was
captured."

"Yes," he said. "It was not invisible then, but it was invisible when it
came in broad daylight under the bows of your patrol ships and landed in
one of the most prominent places in all Lesser Helium. It was not
invisible when you first saw it; because it had cast off its
invisibility, or, rather, the Morgors had cast it off so that they might
find it again themselves, for otherwise it would have been as invisible
to them as to us."

"Do you know how they achieve this invisibility?" I asked.

"Multis Par has explained it to me," relied U Dan. "Let me see; I am not
much of a scientist, but I think that I recall more or less correctly
what he told me. It seems that on some of the ocean beaches on Sasoom
there is a submicroscopic, magnetic sand composed of prismatic crystals.
When the Morgors desire invisibility for a ship, they magnetize the hull;
and then from countless tiny apertures in the hull, they coat the whole
exterior of the ship with these prismatic crystals. They simply spray
them out, and they settle in a cloud upon the hull, causing light rays to
bend around the ship. The instant that the hull is demagnetized, these
tiny particles, light as air, fall or are blown off; and instantly the
ship is visible again."

Here, a Morgor approached and interrupted our conversation. His manner
was arrogant and rude. I could not understand his words, as he spoke his
own language in the hollow, graveyard tones I had previously noticed. U
Dan replied in the same language but in a less lugubrious tone of voice;
then he turned to me.

"Your education is to commence at once," he said, with a wry smile.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"During this voyage you are to learn the language of the Morgors," he
explained.

"How long is the voyage going to last?" I asked. "It takes about three
months to learn a language well enough to understand and make yourself
understood."

"The voyage will take about eighteen days, as we shall have to make a
detour of some million miles to avoid the Asteroids. They happen to lie
directly in our way."

"I am supposed to learn their Language in eighteen days?" I asked.

"You are not only supposed to, but you will," replied U Dan.





THREE

THE MORGORS OF SASOOM...

My education commenced. It was inconceivably brutal, but most effective.
My instructors worked on me in relays, scarcely giving me time to eat or
sleep. U Dan assisted as interpreter, which was immensely helpful to me,
as was the fact that I am exceedingly quick in picking up new languages.
Sometimes I was so overcome by lack of sleep that my brain lagged and my
responses were slow and inaccurate. Upon one such occasion, the Morgor
who was instructing me slapped my face. I had put up with everything
else; because I was so very anxious to learn their language-a vital
necessity if I were ever to hope to cope with them and thwart their
fantastic plan of conquest. But I could not put up with that. I hit the
fellow a single blow that sent him entirely across the cabin, but I
almost broke my hand against his unpadded, bony jaw.

He did not get up. He lay where he had fallen. Several of his fellows
came for me with drawn swords. The situation looked bad, as I was
unarmed. U Dan Was appalled. Fortunately for me, the officer in command
of the ship had been attracted by the commotion and appeared at the scene
of action in time to call his men off. He demanded an explanation.

I had now mastered sufficient words of their language so that I could
understand almost everything that was said to me and make myself
understood by them, after a fashion. I told the fellow that I had been
starved and deprived of sleep and had not complained, but that no man
could strike me without suffering the consequences.

"And no creature of a lower order may strike a Morgor without suffering
the consequences," he replied.

"What are you going to do about it?" I asked.

"I am going to do nothing about it," he replied. "My orders require me to
bring you alive to Eurobus. When I have done that and reported your
behavior, it will lie wholly within the discretion of Bandolian as to
what your punishment shall be."

Then he walked away, but food was brought me and I was allowed to sleep;
nor did another Morgor strike me during the remainder of the voyage.

While I was eating, I asked U Dan what Eurobus was.

"It is their name for the planet Sasoom," he replied.

"And who is Bandolian?"

"Well, I suppose he would be called a jeddak on Barsoom. I judge this
from the numerous references I have heard them make concerning him.
Anyhow, he seems to be an object of fear if not veneration."

After a long sleep, I was much refreshed. Everything that I had been
taught was clear again in my mind, no longer dulled by exhaustion. It was
then that the commander took it upon himself to examine me personally. I
am quite sure that he did so for the sole purpose of finding fault with
me and perhaps punishing me. He was extremely nasty and arrogant. His
simplest questions were at first couched in sarcastic language; but
finally, evidently disappointed, he left me. I was given no more
instruction.

"You have done well," said U Dan. "You have, in a very short time,
mastered their language well enough to suit them."

This was the fifteenth day. During the last three days they left me
alone. Travelling through space is stupifyingly monotonous. I had
scarcely glanced from the portholes for days. This was, however,
principally because my time was constantly devoted to instruction; but
now, with nothing else to do, I glanced out. A most gorgeous scene
presented itself to my astonished eyes. Gorgeous Jupiter loomed before me
in all his majestic immensity. Five of his planets were plainly visible
in the heavens. I could even see the tiny one closest to him, which is
only thirty miles in diameter. During the ensuing two days, I saw, or at
least I thought I saw, all of the remaining five moons. And Jupiter grew
larger and more imposing. We were approaching him at the very
considerable speed of twenty-three miles per second, but were still some
two million miles distant.

Freed from the monotony of language lessons, my mind was once more
enslaved to my curiosity. How could life exist upon a planet which one
school of scientific thought claimed to have a surface temperature of two
hundred and sixty degrees below zero and which another school was equally
positive was still in a half molten condition and so hot that gases rose
as hot vapor into its thick, warm atmosphere to fall as incessant rain?
How could human life exist in an atmosphere made up largely of ammonia
and methane gases? And what of the effect of the planet's terrific
gravitational pull? Would my legs be able to support my weight? If I fell
down, would I be able to rise again?

Another question which presented itself to my mind, related to the motive
power which had been carrying us through space at terrific speeds for
seventeen days. I asked U Dan if he knew.

They utilize the Eighth Barsoomian Ray, what we know as the ray of
propulsion, in combination with the highly concentrated gravitational
forces of all celestial bodies within the range of whose attraction the
ship passes, and a concentration of Ray L (cosmic rays) which are
collected from space and discharged at high velocities from propulsion
tubes at the ship's stern. The eighth Barsoomian Ray helps to give the
ship initial velocity upon leaving a planet and as a brake to its
terrific speed when approaching its landing upon another.

Gravitational forces are utilized both to accelerate speed and to guide
the ship. The secret of their success with these interplanetary ships
lies in the ingenious methods they have developed for concentrating these
various forces and directing their tremendous energies.

"Thanks, U Dan," I said, "I think I grasp the general idea. It would
certainly surprise some of my scientific friends on earth."

My passing reference to scientists started me to thinking of the vast
accumulation of theories I was about to see shattered when I landed on
Jupiter within the next twenty-four hours. It certainly must be habitable
for a race quite similar to our own. These people had lungs, a heart,
kidneys, a liver, and other internal organs similar to our own. I knew
this for a fact, as I could see them every time one of the Morgors stood
between me and a bright light, so thin and transparent Was the
parchmentlike skin that stretched tightly over their frames. Once more
the scientists would be wrong. I felt sorry for them. They have been
wrong so many times and had to eat humble pie. There were those
scientists, for instance, who clung to the Ptolemaic System of the
universe; and who, after Galileo had discovered four of the moons of
Jupiter in 1610, argued that such pretended discoveries were absurd,
their argument being that since we have seven openings in the head--two
ears, two eyes, two nostrils, and a mouth, there could be in the heavens
but seven planets. Having dismissed Galileo's absurd pretensions in this
scientific manner, they caused him to be thrown into jail.

When at a distance of about five hundred thousand miles from Jupiter, the
ship began to slow down very gradually in preparation for a landing; and
some three or four hours later we entered the thick cloud envelope which
surrounds the planet. We were barely crawling along now at not more than
six hundred miles an hour.

I was all eagerness to see the surface of Jupiter; and extremely
impatient of the time that it took the ship to traverse the envelope, in
which we could see absolutely nothing.

At last we broke through, and what a sight was revealed to my astonished
eyes! A great world lay below me, illuminated by a weird red light which
seemed to emanate from the inner surface of the cloud envelope, shedding
a rosy glow over mountain, hill, dale, plain, and ocean. At first I could
in no way account for this all-pervading illumination; but presently, my
eyes roving over the magnificent panorama lying below me, I saw in the
distance an enormous volcano, from which giant flames billowed upward
thousands of feet into the air. As I was to learn later, the crater of
this giant was a full hundred miles in diameter and along the planet's
equator there stretched a chain of these Gargantuan torches for some
thirty thousand miles, while others were dotted over the entire surface
of the globe, giving both, light and heat to a world that would have been
dark and cold without them.

As we dropped lower, I saw what appeared to be cities, all located at a
respectful distance from these craters. In the air, I saw several ships
similar to that which had brought me from Mars. Some were very small;
others were much larger than the one with which I had become so familiar.
Two small ships approached us, and we slowed down almost to a stop. They
were evidently patrol ships. From several ports guns were trained on us.
One of the ships lay at a little distance; the other came alongside. Our
commander raised a hatch in the upper surface of the ship above the
control room and stuck his head out. A door in the side of the patrol
ship opened, and an officer appeared. The two exchanged a few words; then
the commander of the patrol ship saluted and closed the door in which he
had appeared. We were free to proceed. All this had taken place at an
altitude of some five thousand feet.

We now spiraled down slowly toward a large city. Later, I learned that it
covered an area of about four hundred square miles. It was entirely
walled, and the walls and buildings were of a uniform dark brown color,
as were the pavements of the avenues. It was a dismal, repellent city
built entirely of volcanic rock. Within its boundaries I could see no
sign of vegetation-not a patch of sward, not a shrub, not a tree; no
color to relieve the monotony of somber brown.

The city was perfectly rectangular, having a long axis of about
twenty-five miles and a width of about sixteen. The avenues were
perfectly straight and equidistant, one from the other, cutting the city
into innumerable, identical square blocks. The buildings were all perfect
rectangles, though not all of either the same size or height-the only
break in the depressing monotony of this gloomy city.

Well, not the only break: there were open spaces where there were no
buildings-perhaps plazas or parade grounds. But these I did not notice
until we had dropped quite low above the city, as they were all paved
with the same dark brown rock. The city was quite as depressing in
appearance as is Salt Lake City from the air on an overcast February day.
The only relief from this insistent sense of gloom was the rosy light
which pervaded the scene, the reflection of the flames of the great
volcanoes from the inner surface of the cloud envelope; this and the
riotous growth of tropical verdure beyond the city's walls-weird,
unearthly growths of weird unearthly hues.

Accompanied by the two patrol ships, we now dropped gently into a large
open space near the center of the city, coming to rest close to a row of
hangars in which were many craft similar to our own.

We were immediately surrounded by a detail of warriors; and, much to my
surprise, I saw a number of human beings much like myself in appearance,
except that their skins were purple. These were unarmed and quite naked
except for G strings, having no harness such as is worn by the Morgors.
As soon as we had disembarked, these people ran the ship into the hangar.
They were slaves.

There were no interchanges of greetings between the returning Morgors and
those who had come out to meet the ship. The two commanding officers
saluted one another and exchanged a few routine military brevities. The
commander of our ship gave his name, which was Haglion, the name of his
ship, and stated that he was returning from Mars-he called it Garobus.
Then he detailed ten of his own men to accompany him as guards for U Dan
and me. They surrounded us, and we walked from the landing field in the
wake of Haglion.

He led us along a broad avenue filled with pedestrian and other traffic.
On the sidewalks there were only Morgors. The purple people walked in the
gutters. Many Morgors were mounted on enormous, repulsive looking
creatures with an infinite number of legs. They reminded me of huge
centipedes, their bodies being jointed similarly, each joint being about
eighteen inches long. Their heads were piscine and extremely ugly. Their
jaws were equipped with many long, sharp teeth. Like nearly all the land
animals of Jupiter, as I was to learn later, they were ungulate, hoofs
evidently being rendered necessary by the considerable areas of hardened
lava on the surface of the planet, as well as by the bits of lava rock
which permeate the soil.

These creatures were sometimes of great length, seating as high as ten or
twelve Morgors on their backs. There were other beasts of burden on the
avenue. They were of strange, unearthly forms; but I shall not bore you
by describing them here.

Above this traffic moved small fliers in both directions. Thus the avenue
accommodated a multitude of people, strange, dour people who seldom spoke
and, as far as I had seen, never laughed. They might have, as indeed they
looked, risen from sad graves to rattle their bones in mock life in a
cemetery city of the dead.

U Dan and I walked in the gutter, a guard on the sidewalk close beside
each of us. We were not good enough to walk where the Morgors walked!
Haglion led us to a large plaza surrounded by buildings of considerable
size but of no beauty. A few of them boasted towers-some squat some tall,
all ugly. They looked as though they had been built to endure throughout
the ages.

We were conducted to one of these buildings, before the entrance to which
a single sentry stood. Haglion spoke to him, and he summoned an officer
from the interior of the building, after which we all entered. Our names
and a description of each of us were entered in a large book. Haglion was
given a receipt for us, after which he and our original escort left.

Our new custodian issued instructions to several warriors who were in the
room, and they hustled U Dan and me down a spiral stairway to a dim
basement, where we were thrown into a gloomy cell. Our escort locked the
door on us and departed.

FOUR

...AND THE SAVATORS

Although I had often wondered about Jupiter, I had never hoped nor cared
to visit it because of the inhospitable conditions which earthly
scientists assure us pertain to this great planet. However, here I was,
and conditions were not at all as the scientists had described.
Unquestionably, the mass of Jupiter is far greater than that of earth or
Mars, yet I felt the gravitational pull far less than I had upon earth.
It was even less than that which I had experienced upon Mars. This was
due, I realized, to the rapid revolution of the planet upon its axis.
Centrifugal force, tending to throw me off into space, more than
outweighed the increased force of gravitation. I had never before felt so
light upon my feet. I was intrigued by contemplation of the height and
distances to which I might Jump.

The cell in which I found myself, while large, precluded any experiments
along that line. It was a large room of bard, brown lava rock. A few
white lights set in recesses in the ceiling gave meager illumination.
From the center of one wall a little stream of water tinkled into a small
cavity in the floor, the overflow being carried off by a gutter through a
small hole in the end wall of the cell. There were some grass mats on the
floor. These constituted the sole furnishings of the bleak prison.

"The Morgors are thoughtful hosts," I remarked to U Dan. "They furnish
water for drinking and bathing. They have installed sewage facilities.
They have given us whereon to lie or sit. Our cell is lighted. It is
strong. We are secure against the attacks of our enemies. However, as far
as the Morgors are concerned, I..."

"S-s-sh!" cautioned U Dan. "We are not alone." He nodded toward the far
end of the cell. I looked, and for the first time perceived what appeared
to be the figure of a man stretched upon a mat.

Simultaneously, it arose and came toward us. It was, indeed, a man. "You
need have no fear of me," he said. "Say what you please of the Morgors.
You could not possibly conceive any terms of opprobrium in which to
describe them more virulent than those which I have long used and
considered inadequate."

Except that the man's skin was a light blue, I could not see that he
differed materially in physical appearance from U Dan and myself. His
body, which was almost naked, was quite hairless except for a heavy
growth on his head and for eye-brows and eyelashes. He spoke the same
language as the Morgors. U Dan and I had been conversing in the universal
language of Barsoom. I was surprised that the man had been able to
understand us. U Dan and I were both silent for a moment.

"Perhaps," suggested our cell mate, "you do not understand the language
of Eurobus-eh?"

"We do," I said, "but we were surprised that you understood our
language."

The fellow laughed. "I did not," he said. "You mentioned the Morgors, so
I knew that you were speaking of them; and then, when your companion
discovered me, he warned you to silence; so I guessed that you were
saying something uncomplimentary about our captors. Tell me, who are you?
You are no Morgors, nor do you look like us Savators."

"We are from Barsoom," I said.

"The Morgors call it Garobus," explained U Dan. "I have heard of it,"
said the Savator. "It is a world that lies far above the clouds. The
Morgors are going to invade it. I suppose they have captured you either
to obtain information from you or to hold you as hostages."

"For both purposes, I imagine," said U Dan. "Why are you imprisoned?"

"I accidentally bumped into a Morgor who was crossing an avenue at an
intersection. He struck me and I knocked him down. For that, I shall be
destroyed at the graduation exercises of the next class."

"What do you mean by that?" I asked.

"The education of the Morgor youth consists almost wholly of subjects and
exercises connected with the art of war. Because it is spectacular,
because it arouses the blood lust of the participants and the spectators,
personal combat winds up the exercises upon graduation day. Those of the
graduating class who survive are inducted in the warrior caste-the
highest caste among the Morgors. Art, literature, and science, except as
they may pertain to war, are held in contempt by the Morgors. They have
been kept alive upon Eurobus only through the efforts of us Savators;
but, unfortunately, to the neglect of offensive military preparation and
training. Being a peace loving people, we armed only for defense." He
smiled ruefully and shrugged. "But wars are not won by defensive
methods."

"Tell us more about the graduating exercises," said U Dan. "The idea is
intriguing. With whom does the graduating class contend?"

"With criminals and slaves," replied the Savator. "Mostly men of my
race," he added; "although sometimes there are Morgor criminals of the
worst types sentenced to die thus. It is supposed to be the most shameful
death that a Morgor can die, fighting shoulder to shoulder with members
of a lower order against their own kind."

"Members of a lower order!" I exclaimed. "Do the Morgors consider you
that?"

"Just a step above the dumb beasts, but accountable for our acts because
we are supposed to be able to differentiate between right and wrong-wrong
being any word or act or facial expression adversely critical of anything
Morgorian or that can be twisted into a subversive act or gesture."

"And suppose you survive the graduating contest," I asked. "Are you then
set at liberty?"

"In theory, yes," he replied; "but in practice, never."

"You mean they fail to honor terms of their own making?" demanded U Dan.

The Savator laughed. "They are entirely without honor," he said, "yet I
do not know that they would not liberate one who survived the combat;
because, insofar as I know, no one ever has. You see, the members of the
class outnumber their antagonists two to one."

This statement gave me a still lower estimate of the character of the
Morgors than I had already inferred from my own observation of them. It
is not unusual that a warlike people excel in chivalry and a sense of
honor; but where all other characteristics are made subservient to
brutality, finer humanistic instincts atrophy and disappear.

We sat in silence for some time. It was broken by the Savator. "I do not
know your names," he said. "Mine is Zan Dar."

As I told him ours, a detail of Morgor warriors came to our cell and
ordered U Dan and me to accompany them. "Good-by!" said Zan Dar. "We
probably shall never meet again."

"Shut up, thing!" admonished one of the warriors.

Zan Dar winked at me and laughed. The Morgor was furious. "Silence,
creature!" he growled. I Thought for a moment that he was going to fall
upon Zan Dar with his sword, but he who was in charge of the detail
ordered him out of the cell. The incident was but another proof of the
egomaniac arrogance of the Morgors. However, it helped to crystallize
within me an admiration and liking for the Savator that had been growing
since first he spoke to us.

U Dan and I were led across the plaza to a very large building the
entrance to which was heavily guarded. The hideous, grinning, skull-like
heads of the warriors and their skeletal limbs and bodies, together with
the dark and cavernous entrance to the building suggested a grisly
fantasia of hell's entrance guarded by the rotting dead. It was not a
pleasant thought.

We were held here for quite some time, during which some of the warriors
discussed us as one might discuss a couple of stray alley cats. "They are
like the Savators and yet unlike them," said one.

"They are quite as hideous," said another.

"One of them is much darker than the other."

Now, for the first time, I was struck by the color of these Morgors.
Instead of being ivory color, they were a pink or rosy shade. I looked at
U Dan. He was a very dark red. A glance at my arms and hands showed that
they, too, were dark red; but not as dark a red as U Dan. At first I was
puzzled; then I realized that the reflection of the red glare of the
volcanoes from the inner surface of the cloud envelope turned our reddish
skins a darker red and made the yellow, parchmentlike skins of the
Morgors appear pink. As I looked around, I realized that this same
reddish hue appeared upon everything within sight. It reminded me of a
verse in the popular song I heard some time ago on one of my Visits to
earth. It went, I think: "I am looking at the world through rose colored
glasses, and everything is rosy now." Well, everything wasn't rosy with
me, no matter how rosy this world looked.

Presently an officer came to the entrance and ordered our escort to bring
us in. The interior of the building was as unlovely as its exterior.
Although this was, as I later learned, the principal palace of the Morgor
ruler, there was absolutely no sign of ornamentation. No art relieved the
austerity of gloomy, lava-brown corridors and bare, rectangular chambers.
No hangings softened the sharp edges of openings; no rugs hid even a part
of the bare, brown floors. The pictureless walls frowned down upon us. I
have seldom been in a more depressing environment. Even the pits beneath
the deserted cities of Barsoom often had interesting vaulted ceilings,
arched doorways, elaborate old iron grill work, attesting the artistic
temperaments of their designers. The Morgors, like death, were without
art.

We were led to a large, bare chamber, in which a number of Morgors were
clustered about a desk at which another of the creatures was seated. All
Morgors look very much alike to me, yet they do have individual facial
and physical characteristics; so I was able to recognize Haglion among
those standing about the desk. It was Haglion who had commanded the ship
that had brought me from Mars.

U Dan and I were halted at some distance from the group, and as we stood
there two other red Martians were brought into the room, a man and a
girl. The girl was very beautiful.

"Vaja!" exclaimed U Dan, but I did not need this evidence to know who she
was. I was equally certain that the man was Multis Par, Prince of Zor. He
appeared nervous and downcast, but even so the natural arrogance of the
man was indelibly stamped upon his features.

At U Dan's exclamation, one of those guarding us whispered, "Silence,
thing!" Vaja's eyes went wide in incredulity as she recognized my
companion; and she took an impulsive step toward him, but a warrior
seized her arm and restrained her. The faint shadow of a malicious smile
touched the thin lips of Multis Par.

The man seated at the desk issued an order, and all four of us were
brought forward and lined up in front of him. The fellow differed in
appearance not at all from other Morgors. He wore no ornaments. His
harness and weapons were quite plain but evidently serviceable. They were
marked with a hieroglyph that differed from similar markings on the
harness and weapons of the other Morgors, as those of each of the others
differed from all the rest. I did not know then what they signified; but
later learned that each hieroglyph indicated the name, rank, and title of
him who wore it. The hieroglyph of the man at the desk was that of
Bandolian, Emperor of the Morgors.

Spread upon the desk before Bandolian was a large map, which I instantly
recognized as that of Barsoom. The man and his staff had evidently been
studying it. As U Dan and I were halted before his desk with Vaja and
Multis Par, Bandolian looked up at the Prince of Zor.

"Which is he," he asked, "who is called Warlord of Barsoom?" Multis Par
indicated me, and Bandolian turned his hollow eyes upon me. It was as
though Death had looked upon me and singled me out as his own. "I
understand that your name is John Carter," he said. I nodded in
affirmation. "While you are of a lower order," he continued, "yet it must
be that you are endowed with intelligence of a sort. It is to this
intelligence that I address my commands. I intend to invade and conquer
Barsoom (he called it Garobus), and I command you to give me all the
assistance in your power by acquainting me and my staff with such
military information as you may possess relative to the principal powers
of Garobus, especially that one known as the Empire of Helium. In return
for this your life will be spared."

I looked at him for a moment, and then I laughed in his face. The
faintest suggestion of a flush overspread the pallor of his face. "You
dare laugh at me, thing!" he growled.

"It is my answer to your proposition," I said.

Bandolian was furious. "Take it away and destroy it!" he ordered.

"Wait, Great Bandolian!" urged Multis Par. "His knowledge is almost
indispensable to you, and I have a plan whereby you may make use of it."

"What is it?" demanded Bandoian.??

"He has a mate whom he worships. Seize her and he will pay any price to
protect her from harm."

"Not the price the Morgor has asked," I said to Multis Par, "and if she
is brought here it will be the seal upon your death Warrant."

"Enough of this," snapped Bandolian. "Take them all away."

"Shall I destroy the one called John Carter?" asked the officer who
commanded the detail that had brought us to the audience chamber.

"Not immediately," replied Bandolian.

"He struck a Morgor," said Haglion; "one of my officers."

"He shall die for that, too," said Bandolian.

"That will be twice," I said.

"Take it away!" snapped Bandolian.

As we were led away, Vaja and U Dan gazed longingly at one another.

FIVE

I WOULD BE A TRAITOR

Zan Dar, the Savator, was surprised to see us returned to the cell in so
short a time. "In fact," he said, "I did not expect ever to see you
again. How did it happen?"

I explained briefly what had occurred in the audience chamber, adding, "I
have been returned to the cell to await death."

"And you, U Dan?" he asked.

"I don't know why they bothered to take me up there," replied U Dan.
"Bandolian paid no attention to me whatever."

"He had a reason, you may rest assured. He is probably trying to break
down your morale by letting you see the girl you love, in the belief that
you will influence John Carter to accede to his demands. John Carter
lives only because Bandolian hopes to eventually break down his
resistance."

Time dragged heavily in that cell beneath the Morgor city. For that
matter, there would have been none had we been above ground, for there
are no nights upon Jupiter. It is always day. The sun, four hundred
eighty-three million miles away, would shed but little light upon the
planet even were it exposed to the full light of the star that is the
center of our solar system; but that little light is obscured by the
dense cloud envelope which surrounds this distant world. What little
filters through is negated by the gigantic volcanic torches which bathe
the entire planet in perpetual daylight. Although Jupiter rotates upon
its axis in less than ten hours, its day is for eternity.

U Dan and I learned much concerning conditions on the planet from Zan
Dar. He told us of the vast warm seas which seethed in constant tidal
agitation resulting from the constantly changing positions of the four
larger moons which revolve about Jupiter in forty-two hours, eighty-five
hours, one hundred seventy-two hours, and four hundred hours respectively
while the planet spins upon its axis, making a complete revolution in
nine hours and fifty-five minutes. He told us of vast continents and
enormous islands; and I could well imagine that such existed, as a rough
estimate indicated that the area of the planet exceeded twenty-three
billion square miles.

As the axis of Jupiter is nearly perpendicular to the plane of its
motion, having an inclination of only about 30, there could be no great
variety of seasons; so over this enormous area there existed an equable
climate, warm and humid, perpetually lighted and heated by the
innumerable volcanoes which pit the surface of the planet. And here was
I, an adventurer who had explored two worlds, cooped up in a subterranean
cell upon the most amazing and wonderful planet of our entire solar
system. It was maddening.

Zan Dar told us that The continent upon which we were was the largest. It
was the ancestral home of the Morgors, from which they had, over a great
period of time, sallied forth to conquer the remainder of the world. The
conquered countries, each of which was ruled by what might be called a
Morgor Governor-General, paid tribute to the Morgors in manufactured
goods, foodstuffs, and slaves. There were still a few areas, small and
considered of little value by the Morgors, which retained their liberty
and their own governments. From such an area came Zan Dar-a remote island
called Zanor.

"It is a land of tremendous mountains, thickly forested with trees of
great size and height," he said. "Because of our mountains and our
forests, it is an easy land to defend against an air-borne enemy."

When he told me the height of some of the lofty peaks of Zanor, it was
with difficulty that I could believe him: to a height of twenty miles
above sea level rose the majestic king of Zanor's mountains.

"The Morgors have sent many an expedition against us," said Zan Dar.
"They get a foothold in some little valley; and there, above them and
surrounding them in mountain fastnesses that are familiar to us and
unknown to them, we have had them at our mercy, picking them off
literally one by one until they are so reduced in numbers that they dare
remain no longer. They kill many of us, too; and they take prisoners. I
was taken thus in one of their invasions. If they brought enough ships
and enough men, I suppose they could conquer us; but our land is scarcely
worth the effort, and I think they prefer to leave us as we are to give
their recruits practice in actual warfare."

I don't know how long we had been confined when Multis Par was brought to
our cell by an officer and a detachment of warriors. He came to exhort me
to cooperate with Bandolian.

"The invasion and conquest of Barsoom are inevitable," he said. "By
assisting Bandolian you can mitigate the horror of it for the inhabitants
of Barsoom. You will thus be serving our world far better than by
stupidly and stubbornly refusing to meet Bandolian half way."

"You are wasting your time," I told him.

"But our own lives depend upon it," he cried. "You and U Dan, Vaja, and I
shall die if you refuse. Bandolian's patience is almost worn out now."
tie looked pleadingly at U Dan.

"We could not die in a better cause," said U Dan, much to my surprise. "I
shall be glad to die in atonement for the wrong that I did John Carter."

"You are two fools!" exclaimed Multis Par, angrily.

"At least we are not traitors," I reminded him.

"You will die, John Carter," he growled; "but before you die, you shall
see your mate in the clutches of Bandolian. She has been sent for. Now,
if you change your mind, send word by one of those who bring your meals."

I sprang forward and knocked the creature down. I should have killed him
then had not the Morgors dragged him from the cell.

So they had sent for Dejah Thoris--and I was helpless. They would get
her. I knew how they would get her, by assuring her that only through her
cooperation could my immediate death be averted. I wondered if they would
win. Would I, in the final test, sacrifice my beloved princess or my
adopted country? Frankly, I did not know; but I had the example of U Dan
to guide me. He had placed patriotism above love. Would I?

Time dragged on in this gloomy cell where there was no time. We three
plotted innumerable futile plans of escape. We improvised games to help
mitigate the monotony of our dull existence. More profitably, however, U
Dan and I learned much from Zan Dar concerning this great planet. And Zan
Dar learned much of what lay beyond the eternal cloud envelope which
hides from the view of the inhabitants of Jupiter the sun, the other
planets, the stars, and even their own moons. All that Zan Dar knew of
them was the little he had been able to glean from remarks dropped by
Morgors of what had been seen from their interplanetary ships. Their
knowledge of astronomy was only slightly less than their interest in the
subject, which was practically non-existent. War, conquest, and bloodshed
were their sole interests in life.

At last there came a break in the deadly monotony of our lives: a new
prisoner was thrown into the cell with us. And he was a Morgor! The
situation was embarrassing. Had our numbers been reversed, had there been
three Morgors and one of us, there would have been no doubt as to the
treatment that one would have received. He would have been ostracized,
imposed upon, and very possibly abused. The Morgor expected this fate. He
went into a far corner of the cell and awaited what he had every reason
to expect. U Dan, Zan Dar, and I discussed the situation in whispers.
That must have been a trying time for the Morgor. We three finally
decided to treat the creature simply as a fellow prisoner until such time
as his own conduct should be our eventual guide. Zan Dar was the first to
break the ice. In a friendly manner he asked what mischance bad brought
the fellow to this pass.

"I killed one who had an influential relative in the palace of
Bandolian," he replied, and as he spoke he came over closer to us. "For
that I shall die, probably in the graduating exercises of the next class.
We shall doubtless all die together," he added with a hollow laugh. He
paused. "Unless we escape," he concluded.

"Then we shall die," said Zan Dar.

"Perhaps," said the Morgor.

"One does not escape from the prisons of the Morgors," said Zan Dar.

I was interested in that one word "perhaps". It seemed to me fraught with
intentional weaning. I determined to cultivate this animated skeleton. It
could do no harm and might lead to good. I told him my name and the names
of my companions; then I asked his.

"Vorion," he replied; "but I need no introduction to you, John Carter. We
have met before. Don't you recognize me?" I had to admit that I did not.
Vorion laughed. "I slapped your face and you knocked me across the ship.
It was a noble blow. For a long time they thought that I was dead."

"Oh," I said, "you were one of my instructors. It may please you to know
that I am going to die for that blow."

"Perhaps not," said Vorion. There was that "perhaps" again. What did the
fellow mean?

Much to our surprise, Vorion proved not at all a bad companion. Toward
Bandolian and the powerful forces that had condemned him to death and
thrown him into prison he was extremely bitter. I learned from him that
the apparent veneration and loyalty accorded Bandolian by his people was
wholly a matter of disciplined regimentation. At heart, Vorion loathed
the man as a monster of cruelty and tyranny. "Fear and generations of
training hold our apparent loyalty," he said.

After he had been with us for some time, he said to me, "You three have
been very decent to me. You could have made my life miserable here; and I
could not have blamed you had you done so, for you must hate us Morgors."

"We are all in the same boat," I said. "We could gain nothing by fighting
among ourselves. If we work together, perhaps..." I used his own perhaps.

Vorion nodded. "I have been thinking that we might work together," he
said.

"To what end?" I asked.

"Escape."

"Is that possible?"

"Perhaps."

U Dan and Zan Dar were eager listeners. Vorion turned to the latter.

"If we should escape," he said, "you three have a country to which you
might go with every assurance of finding asylum, while I could expect
only death in any country upon the face of Eurobus. If you could promise
me safety in your country."

He paused, evidently awaiting Zan Dar's reaction.

"I could only promise to do my best for you," said Zan Dar; "but I am
confident that if you were the means of my liberation and return to
Zanor, you would be permitted to remain there in safety."

Our plotting was interrupted by the arrival of the detail of warriors.
The officer in command singled me out and ordered me from the cell. If I
were to be separated from my companions, I saw, the fabric of my dream of
escape dissolve before my eyes.

They led me from the building and across the plaza to the palace of
Bandolian, and after some delay I found myself again in the audience
chamber. From behind his desk, the hollow eyes of the tyrant stared at me
from their grinning skull. "I am giving you your last chance," said
Bandolian; then he turned to one of his officers. "Bring in the other,"
he said. There was a short wait, and then a door at my right opened and a
guard of warriors brought in the "other". It was Dejah Thoris! My
incomparable Dejah Thoris!

What a lovely creature she was as she crossed the floor surrounded by
hideous Morgors. What majestic dignity, what fearlessness distinguished
her carriage and her mien! That such as she should be sacrificed even for
a world! They halted her scarce two paces from me. She gave me a brave
smile, and whispered, "Courage! I know now why I am here. Do not weaken.
Better death than dishonor."

"What is she saying?" demanded Bandolian.

I thought quickly. I knew that the chances were that not one of them
there understood the language of Barsoom. In their stupid arrogance they
would not deign to master the tongue of a lower order.

"She but pleads with me to save her," I said. I saw Dejah Thoris smile.
Evidently they had taught her the language of the Morgors on the long
voyage from Mars.

"And you will be wise to do so," said Bandolian, "otherwise she will be
given to Multis Par and afterward tortured and mutilated many times
before she is permitted to die."

I shuddered in contemplation of such a fate for my princess, and in that
moment I weakened once again. "If I aid you, will she be returned
unharmed to Helium?" I asked.

"Both of you will-after I have conquered Garobus," replied Bandolian.

"No! No!" whispered Dejah Thoris. "I should rather die than return to
Helium with a traitor. No, John Carter, you could never be that even to
save my life."

"But the torture! The mutilation! I would be a traitor a thousand times
over to save you from that, and I can promise you that no odium would be
attached to you: I should never return to Barsoom."

"I shall be neither tortured nor mutilated," she said. "Sewn into my
harness is a long, thin blade."

I understood and I was relieved. "Very well," I said. "If we are to die
for Barsoom, it is not more than thousands of her brave warriors have
done in the past; but we are not dead yet. Remember that, my princess;
and do not use that long, thin blade upon yourself until hope is
absolutely dead."

"While you live, hope will live," she said.

"Come, come," said Bandolian. "I have listened long enough to your silly
jabbering. Do you accept my proposition?"

"I am considering it," I said, "but I must have a few more words with my
mate."

"Let them be few," snapped the Morgor.

I turned to Dejah Thoris. "Where are you imprisoned?" I asked.

"On the top floor of a tower at the rear of this building at the corner
nearest the great volcano. There is another Barsoomian with me, a girl
from Zor. Her name is Vaja."

Bandolian was becoming impatient. He drummed nervously on his desk with
his knuckles and snapped his grinning jaws together like castanets.
"Enough of this!" he growled. "What is your decision?"

"The matter is one of vast importance to me," I replied. "I cannot decide
it in a moment. Return me to my cell so that I may think it over and
discuss it with U Dan, who also has much at stake."

"Take it back to its cell," ordered Bandolian; and then, to me: "You
shall have time, but not much. My patience is exhausted."

SIX

ESCAPE

I had no plan. I was practically without hope, yet I had gained at least
a brief reprieve for Dejah Thoris. Perhaps a means of escape might offer
itself. Upon such unsubstantial fare I fed the shred of hope to which I
clung.

My cell mates were both surprised and relieved when I was returned to
them. I told them briefly of what had occurred in the audience chamber of
Bandolian. U Dan showed real grief when he learned that Dejah Thoris was
in the clutches of the Morgors, and cursed himself for the part he had
taken in bringing her and me to a situation in which we faced the
alternatives of death or dishonor.

"Vain regrets never got anyone anywhere," I said. "They won't get us out
of this cell. They won't get Dejah Thoris and Vaja out of Bandolian's
tower. Forget them. We have other things to think about." I turned to
Vorion. "You have spoken of the possibility of escape. Explain yourself."

He was not accustomed to being spoken to thus peremptorially by one of
the lower orders, as the Morgors considered us; but he laughed, taking it
in good part. The Morgors cannot smile. From birth to death they wear
their death's head grin-frozen, unchangeable.

"There is just a chance," he said. "It is just barely a chance. Slender
would be an optimistic description of it, but if it fails we shall be no
worse off than we are now."

"Tell us what it is," I said.

"I can pick the lock of our cell door," he explained. "If luck is with
us, we can escape from this building. I know a way that is little used,
for I was for long one of the prison guard."

"What chance would we have once we were in the streets of the city?"
demanded U Dan. "We three, at least, would be picked up immediately."

"Not necessarily," said Vorion. "There are many slaves on the avenues who
look exactly like Zan Dar. Of course, the color of the skin of you men
from Garobus might attract attention; but that is a chance we shall have
to take."

"And after we are in the streets?" asked Zan Dar. "What then?"

"I shall pretend that I am in charge of you. I shall treat you as slaves
are so often treated that it will arouse no comment nor attract any undue
attention. I shall have to be rough with you, but you will understand. I
shall herd you to a field where there are many ships. There I shall tell
the guard that I have orders to bring you to clean a certain ship. In
this field are only the private ships of the rich and powerful among us,
and I well know a certain ship that belongs to one who seldom uses it. If
we can reach this ship and board it, nothing can prevent us from
escaping. In an hour from now, we shall be on our way to Zanor--if all
goes well."

"And if we can take Vaja and Dejah Thoris with us," I added.

"I had forgotten them," said Vorion. "You would risk your lives for two
females?"

"Certainly," said U Dan.

Vorion shrugged. "You are strange creatures," he said.

"We Morgors would not risk a little finger for a score of them. The only
reason that we tolerate them at all is that they are needed to replenish
the supply of warriors. To attempt to rescue two of you is may easily end
in disaster for us all."

"However, we shall make the attempt," He said. "Are you with us, Zan
Dar?" I asked the Savator.

"To the end," he said, "whatever it may be."

Again Vorion shrugged. "As you will," he said, but not with much
enthusiasm; then he set to work on the lock, and in a very short time the
door swung open and we stepped out into the corridor. Vorion closed the
door and relocked it. "This is going to give them food for speculation,"
he remarked.

He led us along the corridor in the opposite direction from that in which
we had been brought to it and from which all those had come who had
approached our cell since our incarceration. The corridor became dark and
dusty the farther we traversed it. Evidently it was little used. At its
very end was a door, the lock to which Vorion quickly picked; and a
moment later we stepped out into a narrow alleyway.

So simple had been our escape up to now that I immediately apprehended
the worst: such luck could not last. Even the alley which we had entered
was deserted: no one had seen us emerge from the prison. But when we
reached the end of the alley and turned into a broad avenue, the
situation was very different. Here were many people-Morgors upon the
sidewalks, slaves in the gutters, strange beasts of burden carrying their
loads of passengers upon the pavement.

Now, Vorion began to berate and cuff us as we walked in the gutter and he
upon the sidewalk. He directed us away from the central plaza and finally
into less frequented avenues, yet we still passed too many Morgors to
suit me. At any minute one of them might notice the unusual coloration of
U Dan's skin and mine. I glanced at Zan Dar to note if the difference
between his coloration and ours was at all startling, and I got a shock.
Zan Dar's skin had been blue. Now it was purple!

It tools me a moment to realize that the change was due to the rosy light
of the volcano's flames turning Zan Dar's natural blue to purple.

We had covered quite a little distance in safety, when a Morgor, passing,
eyed us suspiciously. He let us go by him; then he wheeled and called to
Vorion. "Who are those two?" he demanded. "They are not Savators."

"They have been ill," said Vorion, "and their color has changed." I was
surprised that the fellow could think so quickly.

"Well, who are you?" asked the fellow, "and what are you doing in charge
of slaves while unarmed?"

Vorion looked down at his sides in simulated surprise. "Why, I must have
forgotten them," he said.

"I think that you are lying to me," said the fellow. "Come along with me,
all of you."

Here seemed an end of our hopes of escape. I glanced up and down the
street. It appeared to be a quiet, residential avenue. There was no one
near us. Several small ships rested at the curb in front of drear, brown
domiciles. That was all. No eyes were upon us. I stepped close to the
fellow who had thus rashly presented himself as an obstacle in the way of
Dejah Thoris' rescue. I struck him once. I struck him with all my
strength. He dropped like a log.

"You have killed him," exclaimed Vorion. "He was one of Bandolian's most
trusted officers. If we are caught now, we shall be tortured to death."

"We need not be caught," I said. "Let's take one of these ships standing
at the curb. Why take the time and the risk to go farther?"

Vorion shook his head. "They wouldn't do," he said. "They are only for
intramural use. They are low altitude ships that would never get over
even a relatively small mountain range; but more important still, they
cannot be rendered invisible. We shall have to go on to the field as we
have planned."

"To avoid another such encounter as we have just experienced," I said,
"we had better take one of these ships at least to the vicinity of the
field."

"We shall be no worse off adding theft to murder," said Zan Dar.

Vorion agreed, and a moment later we were all in a small ship and sailing
along a few yards above the avenue. Keenly interested, I carefully noted
everything that Vorion did in starting the motor and controlling the
craft. It was necessary for me to ask only a few questions in order to
have an excellent grasp of the handling of the little ship, so familiar
was I with the airships of two other worlds. Perhaps I should never have
the opportunity to operate one of these, but it could do no harm to know
how.

We quitted the flier a short distance from the field and continued on
foot. As Vorion had predicted, a guard halted us and questioned him. For
a moment everything hung in the balance. The guard appeared skeptical,
and the reason for his skepticism was largely that which had motivated
the officer I had killed to question the regularity of Vorion's asserted
mission, the fact that Vorion was unarmed. The guard told us to wait
while he summoned an officer. That would have been fatal I felt that I
might have to kill this man, too; but I did not see how I could do it
without being observed, as there were many Morgors upon the field, though
none in our immediate vicinity.

Vorion saved the day. "Come! Come!" he exclaimed in a tone of
exasperation. "I can't wait here all day while you send for an officer. I
am in a hurry. Let me take these slaves on and start them to work. The
officer can come to the ship and question me as well as he can question
me here."

The guard agreed that there was something in this; and, after
ascertaining the name and location of the ship which we were supposed to
clean, he permitted us to proceed. I breathed an inward sigh of relief.
After we had left him, Vorion said that he had given him the name and
location of a different ship than that which we were planning to steal
Vorion was no fool  The ship that Vorion had selected was a slim craft
which appeared to have been designed for speed. We lost no time boarding
her; and once again I watched every move that Vorion made, questioning
him concerning everything that was not entirely clear to me. Although I
had spent some eighteen days aboard one of these Morgorian ships, I had
learned nothing relative to their control, as I had never been allowed in
the control room or permitted to ask questions.

First, Vorion magnetized the hull and sprayed it with the fine sands of
invisibility; then he started the motor and nosed up gently. I had
explained my plan to him, and once he had gained a little altitude he
headed for the palace of Bandolian. Through a tiny lens set in the bow of
this ship the view ahead was reflected upon a ground glass plate, just as
an image is projected upon the finder of a camera. There were several of
these lenses, and through one of them I presently saw the square tower at
the rear of the palace, the tower in which Dejah Thoris and Vaja were
confined.

"When I bring the ship up to the window," said Vorion, "you will have to
work fast, as the moment that we open the door in the ship's hull, part
of the interior of the ship will be visible. Some one in the palace or
upon the ground may notice it, and instantly we shall be surrounded by
guard and patrol ships."

"I shall work fast," I said.

I must admit that I was more excited than usual as Vorion brought the
craft alongside the tower window, which we had seen was wide open and
unbarred. U Dan and Zan Dar stood by to open the door so that I could
leap through the window and then to close it immediately after I had come
aboard with the two girls. I could no longer see the window now that the
craft was broadside to it; but at a word from Vorion, U Dan and Zan Dar
slid the door back. The open window was before me, and I leaped through
it into the interior of the tower room.

Fortunately for me, fortunately for Dejah Thoris, and fortunately-for
Vaja, it was the right room. The two girls were there, but they were not
alone. A man held Dejah Thoris in his arms, his lips searching for hers.
Vaja was striking him futilely on the back, and Dejah Thoris was trying
to push his face from hers.

I seized the man by the neck and hurled him across the room, then I
pointed to the window and the ship beyond and told the girls to get
aboard as fast as they could. They needed no second invitation. As they
ran across the room toward the window, the man rose and faced me. It was
Multis Par!

Recognizing me, he went almost white; then he whipped out his sword and
simultaneously commenced to shout for the guard.

Seeing that I was unarmed, he came for me. I could not turn and run for
the window: had I, he could have run me through long before I could have
reached it; so I did the next best thing. I charged straight for him.
This apparently suicidal act of mine evidently confused him, for he fell
back. But when I was close to him, he lunged for me. I parried the thrust
with my forearm. I was inside his point now, and an instant later my
fingers closed upon his throat. Like a fool, he dropped his sword then
and attempted to claw my fingers loose with his two hands. He could have
shortened his hold on it and run me through the heart, but I had had to
take that chance. I would have finished him off in a moment had not the
door of the room been then thrown open to admit a dozen Morgor warriors.
I was stunned! After everything had worked so well, to have this happen!
Were all our plans to be thus thwarted? No, not all.

I shouted to U Dan: "Close the door and take off! It is a command!"

U Dan hesitated. Dejah Thoris stood at his side with one band
outstretched toward me and an indescribable expression of anguish on her
face. She took a step forward as though to leap from the ship back into
the room. U Dan quickly barred her way, and then the ship started to move
away. Slowly the door slid closed, and once again the craft was entirely
invisible.

All this transpired in but a few seconds while I still clung to Multis
Par's throat. His tongue protruded and his eyes stared glassily. In a
moment more he would have been dead; then the Morgor warriors were upon
me, and I was dragged from my prey.

My captors handled me rather roughly and, perhaps, not without reason,
for I had knocked three of them unconscious before they overpowered me.
Had I but had a sword! What I should have done to them then! But though I
was battered and bruised as they hustled me down from the tower, I was
smiling; for I was happy. Dejah Thoris had been snatched from the
clutches of the skeleton men and was, temporarily at least, safe. I had
good cause for rejoicing. I was taken to a small, unlighted cell beneath
the tower; and here I was manacled and chained to the wall. A heavy door
was slammed shut as my captors left me, and I heard a key turn in a
massive lock.

SEVEN

PHO LAR

In solitary confinement unrelieved by even a suggestion of light, one is
thrown entirely upon the resources of one's thoughts for mitigation of
absolute boredom, such boredom as sometimes leads to insanity for those
of weak wills and feeble nerves. But my thoughts were pleasant thoughts.
I envisaged Dejah Thoris safely bound for a friendly country in an
invisible ship which would be safe from capture, and I felt that three of
those who accompanied her would be definitely friendly and that one of
them, U Dan, might be expected to lay down his life to protect her were
that ever necessary. As to Vorion, I could not even guess what his
attitude toward her would be.

My own situation gave me little concern. I will admit that it looked
rather hopeless, but I had been in tight places before and yet managed to
survive and escape. I still lived, and while life is in me I never give
up hope. I am a confirmed optimist, which, I think, gives me an attitude
of mind that more often than not commands what we commonly term the
breaks of life.

Fortunately, I was not long confined in that dark cell. I slept once, for
how long I do not know; and I was very hungry when a detail of warriors
came to take me away, hungry and thirsty, for they had given me neither
food nor water while I had been confined.

I was not taken before Bandolian this time, but to one of his officers, a
huge skeleton that continually opened and closed its jaws with a snapping
and grinding sound. The creature was Death incarnate. From the way he
questioned me, I concluded that he must be the lord high inquisitor. In
silence, he eyed me from those seemingly hollow sockets for a full minute
before he spoke; then he bellowed at me.

"Thing," he shouted, "for even a small part of what you have done you
deserve death-death after torture."

"You don't have to shout at me," I said; "I am not deaf."

That enraged him, and he pounded upon his desk. "For impudence and
disrespect it will go harder with you."

"I cannot show respect when I do not feel respect," I told him. "I
respect only those who command my respect. I surely could not respect a
bag of bones with an evil disposition."

I do not know why I deliberately tried to infuriate him. Perhaps it is
just a weakness of mine to enjoy baiting enemies whom I think
contemptible. It is, I admit, a habit fraught with, danger; and, perhaps,
a stupid habit; but I have found that it sometimes so disconcerts an
enemy as to give me a certain advantage. In this instance I was at least
successful in part: the creature was so furious that for some time it
remained speechless; then it leaped to its feet with drawn sword.

My situation was far from enviable. I was unarmed, and the creature
facing me was in an uncontrollable rage. In addition to all this, there
were four or five other Morgors in the room, two of whom were holding my
arms, one on either side. I was as helpless as a sheep in an abattoir.
But as my would-be executioner came around the end of his desk to spit me
on his blade, another Morgor entered the room.

The newcomer took in the situation at a glance, and shouted, "Stop,
Gorgum!" The thing coming for me hesitated a moment then he dropped his
point.

"The creature deserves death," Gorgum said, sullenly. "It defied and
insulted me--me, an officer of the Great Bandolian!"

"Vengeance belongs to Bandolian," said the other, "and he has different
plans for this insolent worm. What has your questioning developed?"

"He has been so busy screaming at me that he has had no time to question
me," I said.

"Silence, low one I," snapped the newcomer. "I can well understand," he
said to Gorgum, "that your patience must have been sorely tried; but we
must respect the wishes of the Great Bandolian. Proceed with the
investigation."

Gorgum returned his sword to its scabbard and reseated himself at his
desk. "What is your name?" he demanded.

"John Carter, Prince of Helium," I replied. A scribe at Gorgum's side
scribbled in a large book. I supposed that he was recording the question
and the answer. He kept this up during the entire interview.

"How did you and the other conspirators escape from the cell in which you
were confined?" Gorgum asked.

"Through the doorway," I replied.

"That is impossible. The door was locked when you were placed in the
cell. It was locked at the time your absence was discovered."

"If you know so much, why bother to question me?"

Gorgum's jaws snapped and ground, more viciously than ever. "You see,
Horur," he said angrily, turning to the other officer, "the insolence of
the creature."

"Answer the noble Gorgum's question," Horur snapped at me. "How did you
pass through a locked door?"

"It was not locked."

"It was locked," shouted Gorgum.

I shrugged. "What is the use?" I asked. "It is a waste of time to answer
the questions of one who knows more about the subject than I,
notwithstanding the fact that he was not there."

"Tell me, then, in your own words how you escaped from the cell," said
Horur in a less irritating tone of voice. "We picked the lock."

"That would have been impossible," bellowed Gorgum.

"Then we are still in the cell," I said. "Perhaps you had better go and
look."

"We are getting nowhere," snapped Horur.

"Rapidly," I agreed.

"I shall question the prisoner," said Horur. "We concede that you did
escape from the cell."

"Rather shrewd of you."

He ignored the comment. "I cannot see that the means you adopted are of
great importance. What we really wish to know is where your accomplices
and the two female prisoners are now. Multis Par says that they escaped
in a ship-probably one of our own which was stolen from a flying field."

"I do not know where they are."

"Do you know where they planned to go?"

"If I did, I would not tell you."

"I command you to answer me, on pain of death."

I laughed at the creature. "You intend to kill me anyway; so your threat
finds me indifferent."

Horur kept his temper much better than had Gorgum, but I could see that
he was annoyed. "You could preserve your life if you were more
co-operative," he said. "Great Bandolian asks but little of you. Tell us
where your accomplices intended going and promise to aid Great Bandolian
in his conquest of Helium, and your life will be spared."

"No," I said.

"Wait," urged Horur. "Bandolian will go even further. Following our
conquest of Helium, he will permit you and your mate to return to that
country and he will give you a high office in the new government he
intends to establish there. If you refuse, you shall be destroyed; your
mate will be hunted down and, I promise you, she will be found. Her fate
will be infinitely worse than death. You had better think it over."

"I do not need to think over such a proposition. I can give you a final
answer on both counts-my irrevocable answer. It is-never!"

If Horur had had a lip, he would doubtless have bitten it. He looked at
me for a long minute, then he said, "Fool!" after which he turned to
Gorgum. "Have it placed with those who are being held for the next
class;" then he left the room.

I was now taken to a building located at some distance from those in
which I had previously been incarcerated, and placed in a large cell with
some twenty other prisoners, all of whom were Savators.

"What have we here?" demanded one of my fellow prisoners after my escort
had left and locked the door. "A man with a red skin! He is no Savator.
What are you, fellow?"  I did not like the looks of him, nor his tone of
voice. I was not seeking trouble with those with whom I was to be
imprisoned and with whom I was probably destined to die; so I walked away
from the fellow and sat down on a bench in another part of the chamber,
which was quite large. But the fool followed me and stood in front of me
in a truculent attitude.

"I asked you what you were," he said, threateningly; "and when Pho Lar
asks you a question, see that you answer it--and quickly. I am top man
here." He looked around at the others. "That's right, isn't it?" he
demanded of them.

There were some sullen, affirmative grunts. I could see at once that the
fellow was unpopular. He appeared a man of considerable muscular
development; and his reception of me, a newcomer among them, testified to
the fact that he was a bully. It was evident that be had the other
prisoners cowed.

"You seem to be looking for trouble, Lo Phar," I said; "but I am not. I
am already in enough trouble."

"My name is Pho Lar, fellow," he barked.

"What difference does it make? You would stink by any name." The other
prisoners immediately took interested notice. Some of them grinned.

"I see that I shall have to put you in your place," said Pho Lar,
advancing toward me angrily.

"I do not want any trouble with you," I said. "It is bad enough to be
imprisoned, without quarrelling with fellow prisoners."

"You are evidently a coward," said Pho Lar; "so, if you will get down on
your knees and ask my pardon, I shall not harm you."

I had to laugh at that, which made the fellow furious; yet he hesitated
to attack me. I realized then that he was a typical bully, yellow at
heart. However, to save his face, he would probably attack me if he could
not bluff me. "Don't make me angry," he said. "When I am angry I do not
know my own strength. I might kill you."

"I wonder if this would make you angry," I said, and slapped him across
the cheek with my open palm. I slapped him so hard that he nearly fell
down. I could have slapped him harder. This staggered him more than
physically. The blood rushed to his blue face until it turned purple. He
was in a spot. He had started something; and if he were to hold his
self-appointed position as top man, as he had described himself, he would
have to finish it. The other prisoners had now all arisen and formed a
half circle about us. They looked alternately at Pho Lar and at me in
eager anticipation.

Pho Lar had to do something about that slap in the face. He rushed at me
and struck out clumsily. As I warded off his blows, I realized that he
was a very powerful man; but he lacked science, and I was sure that he
lacked guts. I determined to teach him a lesson that he would not soon
forget. I could have landed a blow in the first few seconds of our
encounter that would have put him to sleep, but I preferred to play with
him.

I countered merely with another slap in the face. He came back with a
haymaker that I ducked; then I slapped him again a little harder this
time.

"Good work!" exclaimed one of the prisoners.

"Go to it, red man!" cried another.

"Kill him!" shouted a third.

Pho Lar tried to clinch; but I caught one of his wrists, wheeled around,
bent over, and threw him over my shoulder.

He hit heavily on the lava flooring. He lay there for a moment, and as he
scrambled to his feet I put a headlock on him and threw him again. This
time he did not get up; so I picked him up and hit him on the chin. He
went down for a long count. I was through with him, and went and sat
down.

The prisoners gathered around me. I could see that they were pleased with
the outcome of the fight. "Pho Lar's had this coming to him for a long
time," said one.

"He sure got it at last!"

"Who are you, anyway?"

"My name is John Carter. I am from Garobus."

"I have heard of you," said one. "I think we all have. The Morgors are
furious at you because you tricked them so easily. I suppose they have
sent you here to die with us. My name is Han Du." He held out a hand to
me. It was the first time that I had seen this friendly gesture since
leaving the earth. The Martians place a hand upon your shoulder. I took
his hand.

"I am glad to know you, Han Du," I said. "If there are many more here
like Pho Lar, I shall probably need a friend."

"There are no more like him," said Han Du, "and he is finished."

"You intimated that you are all doomed to die," I said. "Do you know when
or how?"

"When the next class graduates, we shall be pitted against twice our
number of Morgors. It will be soon, now."

EIGHT

IN THE ARENA

Pho Lar was unconscious for a long time. For a while, I thought that I
might have killed him; but finally he opened his eyes and looked about.
Then he sat up, felt of his head, and rubbed his jaw. When his eyes found
me, he dropped them to the floor. Slowly and painfully he got to his feet
and started for the far side of the room. Four or five of the prisoners
immediately surrounded him.

"Who's top man now?" demanded one of them and slapped him. Two more
struck him. They were pushing him around and buffeting him when I walked
among them and pushed them away.

"Leave him alone," I said. "He has had enough punishment for a while.
When he has recovered, if one of you wishes to take him on, that will be
all right; but you can't gang up on him."

The biggest of them turned and faced me. "What have you go to say about
it?" he demanded.

"This," I replied and knocked him down.

He sat up and looked at me. "I was just asking," he said, and grinned a
sickly grin; then everybody laughed and the tension was over. Alter this,
we go along famously-all of us, even Pho Lar; and I found them all rather
decent men. Long imprisonment and the knowledge that they were facing
death had frayed their nerves; but what had followed my advent had
cleared the air, much as a violent electrical storm does. After that
there was a lot of laughing and talking.

I inquired if any of them were from Zan Dar's country Zanor; but none of
them was. Several of them knew where it was, and one scratched a rough
map of part of Jupiter on the wall of our cell to show me where Zanor was
located. "But much good it will do you to know," he said.

"One never can tell," I replied.

They had told me what I was to expect at the graduating exercises, and I
gave the subject considerable thought. I did not purpose attending a
Morgor commencement in the role of a willing sacrifice.

"How many of you men are expert swordsmen?" I asked.

About half of them claimed to be, but it is a failing of fighting men to
boast of their prowess. Not of all fighting men, but of many, usually
those with the least to boast of. I wished that I had some means of
determining which were really good. "Of course we can't get hold of any
swords," I said, "but if we had some sticks about the length of swords,
we could soon find out who were the best swordsmen among us."

"What good would that do us?" asked one.

"We could give those Morgors a run for their money," I said, "and make
them pay for their own graduation."

"The slave who brings our food is from my country," said Han Du. "I think
he might smuggle a couple of sticks in to us. He is a good fellow. I'll
ask him when he comes."

Pho Lar had said nothing about his swordsmanship; so, as he had proved
himself a great boaster, I felt that he was not a swordsman at all. I was
sorry, as he was by far the most powerful of all the Savator prisoners;
and he was tall, too. With a little skill, he should have proved a most
formidable swordsman. Han Du never boasted about anything; but he said
that in his country, the men were much given to sword play; so I was
counting on him.

Finally, Han Du's compatriot smuggled in a couple of wooden rods about
the length of a long sword; and I went to work to ascertain how my fellow
prisoners stacked up as swordsmen. Most of them were good; a few were
excellent; Han Du was magnificent; and, much to everyone's surprise, Pho
Lar was superb. He gave me one of the most strenuous workouts I have ever
had before I could touch him. It must have taken me nearly an hour to
disarm him. He was one of the greatest swordsmen I had ever faced.

Since our altercation upon my induction to their company, Pho Lar had
kept much to himself. He seldom spoke, and I thought he might be brooding
and planning on revenge. I had to find out just where he stood, as I
could not take any chances on treachery or even half-hearted
co-operation.  I took Pho Lar aside after the passage with the wooden
sticks. I put my cards squarely on the table. "My plan," I said,
"requires as many good swordsmen as I can get. You are one of the finest
I have ever met, but you may think that you have reason to dislike me and
therefore be unwilling to give me your full support. I cannot use any man
who will not follow me and obey me even to death. How about it?"

"I will follow wherever you lead," he said. "Here is my hand on it, if
you will take my hand in friendship."

"I am glad to do it."

As we grasped hands, he said, "If I had known a man like you years ago, I
should not have been the fool that I have been. You may count on me to my
last drop of blood, and before you and I die we shall have shown the
Morgors something that they will never forget. They think that they are
great swordsmen, but after they have seen you in action they will have
their doubts. I can scarcely wait for the time."

I was impressed by Pho Lar's protestations. I felt that he was sincere,
but I could not disabuse my mind of my first impression of him that he
was at heart an arrant coward. But perhaps, facing death, he would fight
as a cornered rat fights. If he did, and didn't lose his head, he would
wreak havoc on the Morgors.

There were twenty of us in that cell. No longer did time drag heavily. It
passed quickly in practice with our two wooden rods. Han Du, Pho Lar, and
I, acting as instructors, taught the others what tricks of swordsmanship
we knew until we were twenty excellent swordsmen. Several were
outstanding.

We discussed several plans of action. We knew that, if custom prevailed,
we should be pitted against forty young Morgor cadets striving to win to
the warrior caste. We decided to fight in pairs, each of our ten best
swordsmen being paired with one of the ten less proficient; but this
pairing was to follow an initial charge by the first ten, with our team
mates close behind us. We hoped thus to eliminate many of the Morgors in
the first few moments of the encounter, thus greatly reducing the odds
against us. Perhaps we of the first ten overestimated our prowess. Only
time would tell.

There was some nervousness among the prisoners, due, I think, to the
uncertainty as to when we should be called upon to face those unequal
odds. Each knew that some of us would die. If any survived, we had only
rumor to substantiate our hope that they would be set free; and no man
there trusted the Morgors. Every footfall in the corridor brought silence
to the cell, with every eye fixed upon the door.

At long last our anxiety was relieved: a full company of warriors came to
escort us to the field where we were to fight. I glanced quickly around
at the prisoners' faces. Many were smiling and there were sighs of
relief. I felt greatly encouraged.

We were taken to a rectangular field with tiers of seats on each of its
four sides. The stands were crowded. Thousands of eye's stared from the
hollow sockets of grinning skulls. It might have been a field day in
Hell. There was no sound. There were no bands. There were no flying
flags, no color. We were given swords and herded together at one end of
the field. An official gave us our instructions.

"When the cadets come on the field at the far end, you will advance and
engage them." That was all.

"And what of those of us who survived?" I asked.

"None of you will survive, creature," he replied.

"We understand that those who survived would be given their freedom," I
insisted.

"None of you will survive," he repeated.

"Would you like to place a little bet on that?"

"None of your impudence, creature." The fellow was getting angry.

"But suppose one of us should survive?" I demanded.

"In that case his life would be spared and he would be allowed to
continue in slavery, but none has ever survived these exercises. The
cadets are on the field!" he cried. "Go to your deaths, worms!"

"To your stations, worms!" I commanded. The prisoners laughed as they
took their allotted positions: the first ten in the front line, each with
his partner behind him. I was near the center of the line. Han Du and
Pho Lar were on the flanks. We marched forward as we had practised it in
our cell, all in step, the men in the rear rank giving the cadence by
chanting, "Death to the Morgors!" over and over. We kept intervals and
distance a little greater than the length of an extended sword arm and
sword.

It was evident that the Morgors had never seen anything like that at a
commencement exercise, for I could hear the hollow sound of their
exclamations of surprise arising from the stands; and the cadets
advancing to meet us were seemingly thrown into confusion. They were
spread out in pairs in a line that extended almost all the way across the
field, and it suddenly became a very ragged line. When we were about
twenty-five feet from this line, I gave the command, "Charge!"

We ten, hitting the center of their line, had no odds against us: the
Morgors had spread their line too thin. They saw swordsmanship in those
first few seconds such as I'll warrant no Morgor ever saw before. Ten
Morgors lay dead or dying on the field, as five of our first ten wheeled
toward the right, followed by our partners; and our remaining ten men
wheeled to the left.

As we had not lost a man in the first onslaught, each ten was now pitted
against fifteen of the enemy. The odds were not so heavily against us.
Taking each half of the Morgor line on its flank, as we now were, gave us
a great advantage; and we took heavy toll of them before those on the far
flanks could get into action, with the result that we were presently
fighting on an almost even footing, our partners having now come into
action.

The Morgors fought with fanatic determination. Many of them were splendid
swordsmen, but none of them was a match for any of our first ten. I
caught an occasional glimpse of Pho tar. He was magnificent. I doubt that
any swordsman of any of the three worlds upon which I had fought could
have touched Pho Lar, Han Du, or me with his point; and there were seven
more of us here almost as good.

Within fifteen minutes of the start of the engagement, all that remained
was the mopping up of the surviving Morgors. We had lost ten men, all of
the first ten swordsmen having survived. As the last of the Morgors fell,
one could almost feel the deathly silence that had settled upon the
audience.

The nine gathered around me. "What now?" asked Pho Lar.

"How many of you want to go back to slavery?" I asked.

"No!" shouted nine voices.

"We are the ten best swords on Eurobus," I said. "We could fight our way
out of the city. You men know the country beyond. What chance would we
have to escape capture?"

"There would be a chance," said Han Du. "Beyond the city, the Jungle
comes close. If we could make that, they might never find us."

"Good!" I said, and started at a trot toward a gate at one end of the
field, the nine at my heels.

At the gateway, a handful of foolish guardsmen tried to stop us. We left
them behind us, dead. Now we heard angry shouts arising from the field we
had left, and we guessed that soon we should have hundreds of Morgors in
pursuit.

"Who knows the way to the nearest gate?" I demanded.

"I do," said one of my companions. "Follow me!" and he set off at a run.

As we raced through the avenues of the drear city, the angry shouts of
our pursuers followed us; but we held our distance and at last arrived at
one of the city gates. Here again we were confronted by armed warriors
who compelled us to put up a stiff battle. The cries of the pursuing
Morgors grew louder and louder. Soon all that we had gained would be
lost. This must not be! I called Pho Lar and Han Du to my side and
ordered the remaining seven to give us room, for the gateway was too
narrow for ten men to wield their blades within it advantageously.

"This time we go through!" I shouted to my two companions as we rushed
the surviving guardsmen. And we went through. They hadn't a chance
against the three best swordsmen of three worlds.

Miraculous as it may seem, all ten of us won to freedom with nothing more
than a few superficial scratches to indicate that we had been in a fight;
but the howling Morgors were now close on our heels. If there is anything
in three worlds that I hate, it is to run from a foe; but it would have
been utterly stupid to have permitted several hundred angry Morgors to
have overtaken me. I ran.

The Morgors gave up the chase before we reached the jungle. Evidently
they had other plans for capturing us. We did not stop until we were far
into the tropical verdure of a great forest; then we paused to discuss
the future and to rest, and we needed rest.

That forest! I almost hesitate to describe it, so weird, so unearthly was
it. Almost wholly deprived of sunlight, the foliage was pale, pale with a
deathlike pallor, tinged with rose where the reflected light of the fiery
volcanoes filtered through. But this was by far its least uncanny aspect:
the limbs of the trees moved like living things. They writhed and twined,
myriad, snakelike things. I had scarcely noticed them until we halted.
Suddenly one dropped down and wrapped itself about me. Smiling, I sought
to disentwine it. I stopped smiling: I was as helpless as a babe
encircled by the trunk of an elephant. The thing started to lift me from
the ground, and just then Han Du saw and leaped forward with drawn sword.
He grasped one of my legs, and at the same time sprang upward and struck
with the keen edge of his blade, severing the limb that had seized me. We
dropped to the ground together.

"What the devil!" I exclaimed. "What is it? and why did it do that?"

Han Du pointed up. I looked. Above me, at the end of a strong stem, was a
huge blossom-a horrible thing! In its center was a large mouth armed with
many teeth, and above the mouth were two staring, lidless eyes.

"I had forgotten," said Han Du, "that you are not of Eurobus. Perhaps you
have no such trees as these in your world."

"We certainly have not," I assured him. "A few that eat insects, perhaps,
like Venus's-flytrap; but no maneaters."

"You must always be on your guard when in one of our forests," he warned
me. "These trees are living, carnivorous animals. They have a nervous
system and a brain, and it is generally believed that they have a
language and talk with one another."

Just then a hideous scream broke from above us. I looked up, expecting to
see some strange, Jupiterian beast above me, but there was nothing but
the writhing limbs and the staring eyes of the great blossoms of the
man-trees.

Han Du laughed. "Their nervous systems are of a low order," he said, "and
their reactions correspondingly slow and sluggish. It took all this time
for the pain of my sword cut to reach the brain of the blossom to which
that limb belongs."

"A man's life would never be safe for a moment in such a forest," I
commented.

"One has to be constantly on guard," admitted Han Du. "If you ever have
to sleep out in the woods, build a smudge. The blossoms don't like smoke.
They close up, and then they cannot see to attack you. But be sure that
you don't oversleep your smudge."

Vegetable life on Jupiter, practically devoid of sunlight, has developed
along entirely different lines from that on earth. Nearly all of it has
some animal attributes and nearly all of it is carnivorous, the smaller
plants devouring insects, the larger, in turn, depending upon the larger
animals for sustenance on up to the maneaters such as I had encountered
and those which Han Du said caught and devoured even the hugest animals
that exist upon this strange planet.

We posted a couple of guards, who also kept smudges burning; and the rest
of us lay down to sleep. One of the men had a chronometer, and this was
used to inform the men on guard when to awaken their relief's. In this
way, we all took turns watching and sleeping.

When all had slept, the smudges were allowed to burn more brightly, the
men cut limbs from the living trees, sliced them and roasted them. They
tasted much like veal. Then we talked over our plans for the future. It
was decided that we should split up into parties of two or three and
scatter; so that some of us at least might have a chance to escape
recapture. They said that the Morgors would hunt us down for a long time.
I felt that we would be much safer remaining together as we were ten
undefeatable sword-arms; but as the countries from which my companions
came were widely scattered; and, as naturally, each wished if possible to
return to his own home, it was necessary that we separate.

It chanced that Han Du's country lay in the general direction of Zanor,
as did Pho Lar's; so we three bid good-by to the others and left them.
How I was to reach faraway Zanor on a planet of twenty-three billion
square miles of area, I was at some loss to conceive. So was Han Du. He
told me that I would be welcome in his country, if we were fortunate
enough to reach it; but I assured him that I should never cease to search
for Zanor and my mate.

NINE

TO ZANORI

I shall not bore you with an account of that part of my odyssey which
finally brought me to one of the cities of Han Du's country. We kept as
much to cover as we could, since we knew that if Morgors were searching
for us, they would be flying low in invisible ships. Forests offered us
our best protection from discovery, but there were wide plains to cross,
rivers to swim, mountains to climb.  In this world without night, it was
difficult to keep account of time; but it seemed to me that we must have
traveled for months. Pho Lar remained with us for a great deal of the
time, but finally he had to turn away in the direction of his own
country. We were sorry to lose him, as he had developed into a splendid
companion; and we should miss his sword, too.

We had met no men, but had had several encounters with wild
beasts-creatures of hideous, Unearthly appearance, both powerful and
voracious. I soon realized the inadequacy of our swords as a sole means
of defense; so we fashioned spears of a bamboolike growth that seemed
wholly vegetable. I also taught Han Du and Pho Lar how to make bows and
arrows and to use them. We found them of great advantage in our hunting
of smaller animals and birds for food. In the forests, we subsisted
almost wholly on the meat of the man-tree.

At last Han Du and I came within sight of an ocean. "We are home," he
said. "My city lies close beside the sea." I saw no city.

We had come down out of some low hills, and were walking across a narrow
coastal plain. Han Du was several yards to my right, when I suddenly
bumped into something solid-solid as a brick wall; but there was nothing
there! The sudden collision had caused me to step back. I stretched out
my hands, and felt what seemed to be a solid wall barring my way, yet
only a level expanse of bare ground, but the ground was not entirely
bare. It was dotted, here and there, with strange plants a simple,
leafless stock a foot or two tall bearing a single fuzzy blossom at its
top.

I looked around for Han Du. He had disappeared! He had just vanished like
a punctured soap bubble. All up and down the shore there was no place
into which he could have vanished, nothing behind which he would have
hidden, no hole in the ground into which he might have darted. I was
baffled. I scratched my head in perplexity, as I started on again toward
the beach only to once more bump into the wall that was not there.

I put my hands against the invisible wall and followed it. It curved away
from me. Foot by foot, I pursued my tantalizing investigation. After a
while I was back right where I bad started from. It seemed that I had run
into an invisible tower of solid air. I started off in a new direction
toward the beach, avoiding the obstacle which had obstructed my way.
Alter a dozen paces I ran into another; then I gave up--at least
temporarily.

Presently I called Han Du's name aloud, and almost instantly he appeared
a short distance from me. "What kind of a game is this?" I demanded. "I
bump into a wall of solid air and when I look for you, you are not
anywhere, you have disappeared."

Han Du laughed. "I keep forgetting that you are a stranger in this
world," he said. "We have come to the city in which I live. I just
stepped into my home to greet my family. That is why you could not see
me." As he spoke, a woman appeared beside him, and a little child. They
seemed to materialize out of thin air. Had I come to a land of
disembodied spirits who had the power to materialize? I could scarcely
believe it, as there was nothing ghostly nor ethereal about Han Du.

"This is O Ala, my mate," said Han Du. "O Ala, this is John Carter,
Prince of Helium. To him we owe my escape from the Morgors."

O Ala extended her hand to me. It was a firm, warm hand of flesh and
blood. "Welcome, John Carter," she said. "All that we have is yours."

It was a sweet gesture of hospitality; but as I looked around, I could
not see that they had anything. "Where is the city?" I asked.

They both laughed. "Come with us," said O Ala. She led the way,
apparently around an invisible corner; and there, before me, I saw an
open doorway in thin air. Through the doorway, I could see the interior
of a room. "Come in," invited O Ala, and I followed her into a
commodious, circular apartment. Han Du followed and closed the door. The
roof of the apartment was a dome perhaps twenty feet high at its center.
It was divided into four rooms by sliding hangings which could be closed
or drawn back against the wall.

"Why couldn't I see the house from the outside?" I asked.

"It is plastered on the outside with sands of invisibility which we find
in great quantity along the beach," explained Han Du. "It is about our
only protection against the Morgors. Every house in the city is thus
protected, a little over five hundred of them."

So I had walked into a city of five hundred houses and seen only an
expanse of open beach beside a restless sea.

"But where are the people?" I asked. "Are they, too, invisible?"

"Those who are not away, hunting or fishing, are in their homes,"
explained O Ala. "We do not venture out any more than is necessary, lest
Morgors be cruising around in their invisible ships and see us; thus
discovering our city."

"If any of us should be thus caught out," said Han Du, "he must run away
from the city as fast as he can, for if he entered a house, the Morgors
would immediately know that there was a city here. It is the sacrifice
that each of us is in honor bound to make for the safety of all, for he
who runs is almost invariably caught and carried away, unless he chooses
to fight and die."

"Tell me," I said to Han Du, "how in the world you found your house, when
you could not see it or any other house."

"You noticed the umpalla plants growing throughout the city?" he asked.

"I noticed some plants, but I saw no city."

They both laughed again. "We are so accustomed to it that it does not
seem at all strange to us," said O Ala, "but I can understand that it
might prove very confusing to a stranger. You see, each plant marks the
location of a house. By long experience, each of us has learned the exact
location of every house in the city in relation to every other house."

I remained for what may have been five or six days of earth time in the
home of Han Du and O Ala. I met many of their friends, all of whom were
gracious and helpful to me in every way that they could be. I was
furnished with maps of considerable areas of the planet, parts of which,
I was told, were still unexplored even by the Morgors. Of greatest value
to me was the fact that Zanor appeared on one of the maps, which also
showed that a vast ocean lay between me and the country in which I
believed Dejah Thoris to be. How I was to cross this ocean neither I nor
my new found friends could offer a suggestion, other than the rather mad
scheme I envisioned of building a sail boat and trusting myself to the
mad caprices of an unknown sea perhaps swarming with dangerous reptiles.
But this I at last decided was the only hope I had for being again
reunited with my princess.

There was a forest several miles along the coast from the city, where I
might hope to find trees suitable for the construction of my craft. My
friends tried their best to dissuade me; but when they found that I was
determined to carry out my plan, they loaned me tools; and a dozen of
them volunteered to accompany me to the forest and help me build my boat.

At last all was in readiness; and, accompanied by my volunteer helpers, I
stepped from the house of Han Du to start the short march to the forest.

Scarcely were we in the open when one of my companions cried, "Morgors!"
Whereupon the Savators scattered in all directions away from their city.

"Run, John Carter!" shouted Han Du, but I did not run. A few yards
distant, I saw the open doorway in the side of an invisible ship; and I
saw six or seven Morgors emerge from it. Two rushed toward me; the others
scattered in pursuit of the Savators. In that instant a new plan flashed
across my mind. Hope, almost extinct leaped to life again.

I whipped my sword from its scabbard and leaped forward to meet the first
of the oncoming Morgors, thanking God that there were only two of them,
as delay might easily wreck my hopes. There was no finesse in my attack:
it was stark, brutal murder; but my conscience did not bother me as I
drew my sword from the heart of the first Morgor and faced the second.

The second fellow gave me a little more trouble, as he had been
forewarned by the fate of his companion; and, too, he presently
recognized me. That made him doubly wary. He commenced to howl to the
others, who were pursuing the Savators, to come back and help him,
bellowing that here was the creature from Garobus who had led the
slaughter at the graduating exercises. From the corner of an eye, I saw
that two of them had heard and were returning. I must hurry!

The fellow now fought wholly on the defensive in order to gain time for
the others to join him. I had no mind to permit this, and I pressed him
hard, often laying myself wide open, a great swordsman could have killed
me easily. At last I reached him with a mighty cut that almost severed
his head from his body; then, with only a quick glance behind me to see
how close the others were, I leaped toward the open doorway of the
otherwise invisible ship, a Morgor close upon my heels.

With naked blade still in my hand, I sprang aboard and closed the door
behind me; then I wheeled to face whatever of their fellows had been left
aboard to guard the craft. The fools had left no one. I had the ship all
to myself; and as I ran to the controls I heard the Morgors beating upon
the door, angrily demanding that I open it. They must have taken me for a
fool, too.

A moment later the ship rose into the air, and I was away upon one of the
strangest adventures of my life-navigating an unknown planet in an
invisible craft. And I had much to learn about navigation of Jupiter. By
watching Vorion, I had learned how to start and stop a Morgor ship, how
to gain or lose altitude, and how to cloak the ship in invisibility; but
the instruments upon the panel before me were all entirely meaningless
to me. The hieroglyphs of the Morgors were quite unintelligible. I had to
work it all out for myself.  Opening all the ports, I had a clear field
of vision. I could see the shore I had just left, and I knew the
direction of the coast line. Han Du had explained this to me. It ran due
north and south at that point. The ocean lay to the west of it. I found
an instrument which might easily have been a compass; when I altered the
course of the ship, I saw that it was a compass. I now had my bearings as
closely as it was possible for me to get them. I consulted my map and
discovered that Zanor lay almost exactly southeast; so out across that
vast expanse of ocean I turned the prow of my ship.

I was free. I had escaped the Morgors unharmed. In Zanor, Dejah Thoris
was safe among friends. That I should soon be with her, I had no doubt.
We had experienced another amazing adventure. Soon we should be reunited.
I had not the slightest doubt of my ability to find Zanor. Perhaps it is
because I am always so sure of myself that I so often accomplish the
seemingly impossible.

How long I was in crossing that dismal ocean, I do not know. With Jupiter
whirling on its axis nearly three times as fast as earth, and with no
sun, moon, nor stars, I could not measure time.

I saw no ship upon that entire vast expanse of water, but I did see
life-plenty of it. And I saw terrific storms that buffeted my craft,
tossing it about like a feather. But that was nothing compared with what
I saw below me as the storms at me height of their fury lashed the
surface of the waters. I realized then how suicidal would have been my
attempt to cross that terrible ocean in the frail craft that I had
planned to build. I saw waves that must have measured two hundred feet
from trough to crest-waves that hurled the mighty monsters of the deep as
though they had been tiny minnows. No ship could have lived in such seas.
I realized then why I saw no shipping on this great Jupiterian ocean.

But at last I sighted land ahead-and what land! Zan Dar had told me of
the mighty mountains of Zanor rearing their forested heads twenty miles
above the level of the sea, and it was such mountains that lay ahead of
me. If I had reckoned accurately, this should be Zanor; and these
breath-taking mountains assured me that I had not gone wrong.

I knew from Zan Dar's explanation just where to search for the stamping
grounds of his tribe-a wild mountain tribe of fighting men. They lay in a
land of meadows and ravines on the east slope of the highest mountain and
at an altitude of only about ten miles, or about halfway to the summit.
Here the air is only slightly thinner than at sea level, as the cloud
envelope retains the atmosphere of Jupiter as though it were held in a
bag, permitting none of it to escape, while the rapid revolution of the
planet tends to throw the atmosphere far up from the surface.

Most fortunate was I in coming upon the village of Zan Dar with little or
no difficulty. Entirely invisible, I hovered above it, dropping down
slowly. I knew that the moment they saw a Morgor ship, they would
disappear into the forests that surrounded the village, waiting there to
rush upon any Morgors who might be foolish enough to leave the ship alter
landing.

There were people in plain view of me in the village as I dropped to
within fifty feet of the ground. I stopped the ship and hung there, then
I demagnetized the hull; and, as the ship became instantly visible, I
leaped to the door and pushed it open; so that they could see that I was
no Morgor. I waved to them and shouted that I was a friend of Zan Dar,
and asked permission to land.

They called to me to do so, and I brought the ship slowly toward the
ground. My lonely voyage was over. I had surmounted seemingly
unsurmountable obstacles and I had reached my goal. Soon my incomparable
Dejah Thoris would be again in my arms.



THE END




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