A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 34

was
over, and seeking out Sola I found her in our chariot with a hideous
little creature held tightly in her arms.

The work of rearing young, green Martians consists solely in teaching
them to talk, and to use the weapons of warfare with which they are
loaded down from the very first year of their lives. Coming from eggs
in which they have lain for five years, the period of incubation, they
step forth into the world perfectly developed except in size. Entirely
unknown to their mothers, who, in turn, would have difficulty in
pointing out the fathers with any degree of accuracy, they are the
common children of the community, and their education devolves upon the
females who chance to capture them as they leave the incubator.

Their foster mothers may not even have had an egg in the incubator, as
was the case with Sola, who had not commenced to lay, until less than a
year before she became the mother of another woman's offspring. But
this counts for little among the green Martians, as parental and filial
love is as unknown to them as it is common among us. I believe this
horrible system which has been carried on for ages is the direct cause
of the loss of all the finer feelings and higher humanitarian instincts
among these poor creatures. From birth they know no father or mother
love, they know not the meaning of the word home; they are taught that
they are only suffered to live until they can demonstrate by their
physique and ferocity that they are fit to live. Should they prove
deformed or defective in any way they are promptly shot; nor do they
see a tear shed for a single one of the many cruel hardships they pass
through from earliest infancy.

I do not mean that the adult Martians are unnecessarily or
intentionally cruel to the young, but theirs is a hard and pitiless
struggle for existence upon a dying planet, the natural resources of
which have dwindled to a point where the support of each additional
life means an added tax upon the community into which it is thrown.

By careful selection they rear only the hardiest specimens of each
species, and with almost supernatural foresight they regulate the birth
rate to merely offset the loss by death.

Each adult Martian female brings forth about thirteen eggs each year,
and those which meet the size, weight, and specific gravity tests are
hidden in the recesses of some subterranean vault where the temperature
is too low for incubation.

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