A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 59

only, however, may you be killed
by us without orders from Tal Hajus; in personal combat in
self-defense, should you attack one of us, or were you apprehended in
an attempt to escape.

"As a matter of justice I must warn you that we only await one of these
two excuses for ridding ourselves of so great a responsibility. The
safe delivery of the red girl to Tal Hajus is of the greatest
importance. Not in a thousand years have the Tharks made such a
capture; she is the granddaughter of the greatest of the red jeddaks,
who is also our bitterest enemy. I have spoken. The red girl told us
that we were without the softer sentiments of humanity, but we are a
just and truthful race. You may go."

Turning, I left the audience chamber. So this was the beginning of
Sarkoja's persecution! I knew that none other could be responsible for
this report which had reached the ears of Lorquas Ptomel so quickly,
and now I recalled those portions of our conversation which had touched
upon escape and upon my origin.

Sarkoja was at this time Tars Tarkas' oldest and most trusted female.
As such she was a mighty power behind the throne, for no warrior had
the confidence of Lorquas Ptomel to such an extent as did his ablest
lieutenant, Tars Tarkas.

However, instead of putting thoughts of possible escape from my mind,
my audience with Lorquas Ptomel only served to center my every faculty
on this subject. Now, more than before, the absolute necessity for
escape, in so far as Dejah Thoris was concerned, was impressed upon me,
for I was convinced that some horrible fate awaited her at the
headquarters of Tal Hajus.

As described by Sola, this monster was the exaggerated personification
of all the ages of cruelty, ferocity, and brutality from which he had
descended. Cold, cunning, calculating; he was, also, in marked
contrast to most of his fellows, a slave to that brute passion which
the waning demands for procreation upon their dying planet has almost
stilled in the Martian breast.

The thought that the divine Dejah Thoris might fall into the clutches
of such an abysmal atavism started the cold sweat upon me. Far better
that we save friendly bullets for ourselves at the last moment, as did
those brave frontier women of my lost land, who took their own lives
rather than fall into the hands of the Indian braves.

As I wandered about the plaza lost in my gloomy forebodings Tars Tarkas
approached me on his way

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