A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 20

of not
having been tenanted for years, possibly for ages. Toward the center
of the city was a large plaza, and upon this and in the buildings
immediately surrounding it were camped some nine or ten hundred
creatures of the same breed as my captors, for such I now considered
them despite the suave manner in which I had been trapped.

With the exception of their ornaments all were naked. The women varied
in appearance but little from the men, except that their tusks were
much larger in proportion to their height, in some instances curving
nearly to their high-set ears. Their bodies were smaller and lighter
in color, and their fingers and toes bore the rudiments of nails, which
were entirely lacking among the males. The adult females ranged in
height from ten to twelve feet.

The children were light in color, even lighter than the women, and all
looked precisely alike to me, except that some were taller than others;
older, I presumed.

I saw no signs of extreme age among them, nor is there any appreciable
difference in their appearance from the age of maturity, about forty,
until, at about the age of one thousand years, they go voluntarily upon
their last strange pilgrimage down the river Iss, which leads no living
Martian knows whither and from whose bosom no Martian has ever
returned, or would be allowed to live did he return after once
embarking upon its cold, dark waters.

Only about one Martian in a thousand dies of sickness or disease, and
possibly about twenty take the voluntary pilgrimage. The other nine
hundred and seventy-nine die violent deaths in duels, in hunting, in
aviation and in war; but perhaps by far the greatest death loss comes
during the age of childhood, when vast numbers of the little Martians
fall victims to the great white apes of Mars.

The average life expectancy of a Martian after the age of maturity is
about three hundred years, but would be nearer the one-thousand mark
were it not for the various means leading to violent death. Owing to
the waning resources of the planet it evidently became necessary to
counteract the increasing longevity which their remarkable skill in
therapeutics and surgery produced, and so human life has come to be
considered but lightly on Mars, as is evidenced by their dangerous
sports and the almost continual warfare between the various communities.

There are other and natural causes tending toward a diminution of
population, but nothing contributes so greatly to this end as the fact
that no male or female Martian is ever

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