A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 127

ask them in marriage; the other kind they fight for also, but never
ask their hands. When a man has won a woman he may address her as his
princess, or in any of the several terms which signify possession. You
had fought for me, but had never asked me in marriage, and so when you
called me your princess, you see," she faltered, "I was hurt, but even
then, John Carter, I did not repulse you, as I should have done, until
you made it doubly worse by taunting me with having won me through

"I do not need ask your forgiveness now, Dejah Thoris," I cried. "You
must know that my fault was of ignorance of your Barsoomian customs.
What I failed to do, through implicit belief that my petition would be
presumptuous and unwelcome, I do now, Dejah Thoris; I ask you to be my
wife, and by all the Virginian fighting blood that flows in my veins
you shall be."

"No, John Carter, it is useless," she cried, hopelessly, "I may never
be yours while Sab Than lives."

"You have sealed his death warrant, my princess--Sab Than dies."

"Nor that either," she hastened to explain. "I may not wed the man who
slays my husband, even in self-defense. It is custom. We are ruled by
custom upon Barsoom. It is useless, my friend. You must bear the
sorrow with me. That at least we may share in common. That, and the
memory of the brief days among the Tharks. You must go now, nor ever
see me again. Good-bye, my chieftain that was."

Disheartened and dejected, I withdrew from the room, but I was not
entirely discouraged, nor would I admit that Dejah Thoris was lost to
me until the ceremony had actually been performed.

As I wandered along the corridors, I was as absolutely lost in the
mazes of winding passageways as I had been before I discovered Dejah
Thoris' apartments.

I knew that my only hope lay in escape from the city of Zodanga, for
the matter of the four dead guardsmen would have to be explained, and
as I could never reach my original post without a guide, suspicion
would surely rest on me so soon as I was discovered wandering aimlessly
through the palace.

Presently I came upon a spiral runway leading to a lower floor, and
this I followed downward for several stories until I reached the
doorway of a large apartment in which were a number of guardsmen. The
walls of this room

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