A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 18

I felt, for some reason, they were
peculiarly efficient in handling.

These rifles were of a white metal stocked with wood, which I learned
later was a very light and intensely hard growth much prized on Mars,
and entirely unknown to us denizens of Earth. The metal of the barrel
is an alloy composed principally of aluminum and steel which they have
learned to temper to a hardness far exceeding that of the steel with
which we are familiar. The weight of these rifles is comparatively
little, and with the small caliber, explosive, radium projectiles which
they use, and the great length of the barrel, they are deadly in the
extreme and at ranges which would be unthinkable on Earth. The
theoretic effective radius of this rifle is three hundred miles, but
the best they can do in actual service when equipped with their
wireless finders and sighters is but a trifle over two hundred miles.

This is quite far enough to imbue me with great respect for the Martian
firearm, and some telepathic force must have warned me against an
attempt to escape in broad daylight from under the muzzles of twenty of
these death-dealing machines.

The Martians, after conversing for a short time, turned and rode away
in the direction from which they had come, leaving one of their number
alone by the enclosure. When they had covered perhaps two hundred
yards they halted, and turning their mounts toward us sat watching the
warrior by the enclosure.

He was the one whose spear had so nearly transfixed me, and was
evidently the leader of the band, as I had noted that they seemed to
have moved to their present position at his direction. When his force
had come to a halt he dismounted, threw down his spear and small arms,
and came around the end of the incubator toward me, entirely unarmed
and as naked as I, except for the ornaments strapped upon his head,
limbs, and breast.

When he was within about fifty feet of me he unclasped an enormous
metal armlet, and holding it toward me in the open palm of his hand,
addressed me in a clear, resonant voice, but in a language, it is
needless to say, I could not understand. He then stopped as though
waiting for my reply, pricking up his antennae-like ears and cocking
his strange-looking eyes still further toward me.

As the silence became painful I concluded to hazard a little
conversation on my own part, as I had guessed that he was making
overtures of peace. The throwing down of

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