A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 63

had fallen to me from the warriors whose metal I
wore, and in a short time I could handle them quite as well as the
native warriors. The method was not at all complicated. If the thoats
did not respond with sufficient celerity to the telepathic instructions
of their riders they were dealt a terrific blow between the ears with
the butt of a pistol, and if they showed fight this treatment was
continued until the brutes either were subdued, or had unseated their
riders.

In the latter case it became a life and death struggle between the man
and the beast. If the former were quick enough with his pistol he
might live to ride again, though upon some other beast; if not, his
torn and mangled body was gathered up by his women and burned in
accordance with Tharkian custom.

My experience with Woola determined me to attempt the experiment of
kindness in my treatment of my thoats. First I taught them that they
could not unseat me, and even rapped them sharply between the ears to
impress upon them my authority and mastery. Then, by degrees, I won
their confidence in much the same manner as I had adopted countless
times with my many mundane mounts. I was ever a good hand with
animals, and by inclination, as well as because it brought more lasting
and satisfactory results, I was always kind and humane in my dealings
with the lower orders. I could take a human life, if necessary, with
far less compunction than that of a poor, unreasoning, irresponsible
brute.

In the course of a few days my thoats were the wonder of the entire
community. They would follow me like dogs, rubbing their great snouts
against my body in awkward evidence of affection, and respond to my
every command with an alacrity and docility which caused the Martian
warriors to ascribe to me the possession of some earthly power unknown
on Mars.

"How have you bewitched them?" asked Tars Tarkas one afternoon, when he
had seen me run my arm far between the great jaws of one of my thoats
which had wedged a piece of stone between two of his teeth while
feeding upon the moss-like vegetation within our court yard.

"By kindness," I replied. "You see, Tars Tarkas, the softer sentiments
have their value, even to a warrior. In the height of battle as well
as upon the march I know that my thoats will obey my every command, and
therefore my fighting efficiency is enhanced, and I am a

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