A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 51

evinced by the
other who had brought me my original equipment, and now for the first
time I realized that my blow, on the occasion of my first battle in the
audience chamber had resulted in the death of my adversary.

The reason for the whole attitude displayed toward me was now apparent;
I had won my spurs, so to speak, and in the crude justice, which always
marks Martian dealings, and which, among other things, has caused me to
call her the planet of paradoxes, I was accorded the honors due a
conqueror; the trappings and the position of the man I killed. In
truth, I was a Martian chieftain, and this I learned later was the
cause of my great freedom and my toleration in the audience chamber.

As I had turned to receive the dead warrior's chattels I had noticed
that Tars Tarkas and several others had pushed forward toward us, and
the eyes of the former rested upon me in a most quizzical manner.
Finally he addressed me:

"You speak the tongue of Barsoom quite readily for one who was deaf and
dumb to us a few short days ago. Where did you learn it, John Carter?"

"You, yourself, are responsible, Tars Tarkas," I replied, "in that you
furnished me with an instructress of remarkable ability; I have to
thank Sola for my learning."

"She has done well," he answered, "but your education in other respects
needs considerable polish. Do you know what your unprecedented
temerity would have cost you had you failed to kill either of the two
chieftains whose metal you now wear?"

"I presume that that one whom I had failed to kill, would have killed
me," I answered, smiling.

"No, you are wrong. Only in the last extremity of self-defense would a
Martian warrior kill a prisoner; we like to save them for other
purposes," and his face bespoke possibilities that were not pleasant to
dwell upon.

"But one thing can save you now," he continued. "Should you, in
recognition of your remarkable valor, ferocity, and prowess, be
considered by Tal Hajus as worthy of his service you may be taken into
the community and become a full-fledged Tharkian. Until we reach the
headquarters of Tal Hajus it is the will of Lorquas Ptomel that you be
accorded the respect your acts have earned you. You will be treated by
us as a Tharkian chieftain, but you must not forget that every chief
who ranks you is responsible for your safe delivery to our mighty and
most ferocious ruler. I am done."


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