A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 42

make the
laws as they are needed; a new law for each emergency. They are
unfettered by precedent in the administration of justice. Customs have
been handed down by ages of repetition, but the punishment for ignoring
a custom is a matter for individual treatment by a jury of the
culprit's peers, and I may say that justice seldom misses fire, but
seems rather to rule in inverse ratio to the ascendency of law. In one
respect at least the Martians are a happy people; they have no lawyers.

I did not see the prisoner again for several days subsequent to our
first encounter, and then only to catch a fleeting glimpse of her as
she was being conducted to the great audience chamber where I had had
my first meeting with Lorquas Ptomel. I could not but note the
unnecessary harshness and brutality with which her guards treated her;
so different from the almost maternal kindliness which Sola manifested
toward me, and the respectful attitude of the few green Martians who
took the trouble to notice me at all.

I had observed on the two occasions when I had seen her that the
prisoner exchanged words with her guards, and this convinced me that
they spoke, or at least could make themselves understood by a common
language. With this added incentive I nearly drove Sola distracted by
my importunities to hasten on my education and within a few more days I
had mastered the Martian tongue sufficiently well to enable me to carry
on a passable conversation and to fully understand practically all that
I heard.

At this time our sleeping quarters were occupied by three or four
females and a couple of the recently hatched young, beside Sola and her
youthful ward, myself, and Woola the hound. After they had retired for
the night it was customary for the adults to carry on a desultory
conversation for a short time before lapsing into sleep, and now that I
could understand their language I was always a keen listener, although
I never proffered any remarks myself.

On the night following the prisoner's visit to the audience chamber the
conversation finally fell upon this subject, and I was all ears on the
instant. I had feared to question Sola relative to the beautiful
captive, as I could not but recall the strange expression I had noted
upon her face after my first encounter with the prisoner. That it
denoted jealousy I could not say, and yet, judging all things by
mundane standards as I still did, I felt it

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