A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 7

that this
thought did not occur to me until the following day removes any
possible right to a claim to heroism to which the narration of this
episode might possibly otherwise entitle me.

I do not believe that I am made of the stuff which constitutes heroes,
because, in all of the hundreds of instances that my voluntary acts
have placed me face to face with death, I cannot recall a single one
where any alternative step to that I took occurred to me until many
hours later. My mind is evidently so constituted that I am
subconsciously forced into the path of duty without recourse to
tiresome mental processes. However that may be, I have never regretted
that cowardice is not optional with me.

In this instance I was, of course, positive that Powell was the center
of attraction, but whether I thought or acted first I do not know, but
within an instant from the moment the scene broke upon my view I had
whipped out my revolvers and was charging down upon the entire army of
warriors, shooting rapidly, and whooping at the top of my lungs.
Singlehanded, I could not have pursued better tactics, for the red men,
convinced by sudden surprise that not less than a regiment of regulars
was upon them, turned and fled in every direction for their bows,
arrows, and rifles.

The view which their hurried routing disclosed filled me with
apprehension and with rage. Under the clear rays of the Arizona moon
lay Powell, his body fairly bristling with the hostile arrows of the
braves. That he was already dead I could not but be convinced, and yet
I would have saved his body from mutilation at the hands of the Apaches
as quickly as I would have saved the man himself from death.

Riding close to him I reached down from the saddle, and grasping his
cartridge belt drew him up across the withers of my mount. A backward
glance convinced me that to return by the way I had come would be more
hazardous than to continue across the plateau, so, putting spurs to my
poor beast, I made a dash for the opening to the pass which I could
distinguish on the far side of the table land.

The Indians had by this time discovered that I was alone and I was
pursued with imprecations, arrows, and rifle balls. The fact that it
is difficult to aim anything but imprecations accurately by moonlight,
that they were upset by the sudden and unexpected manner of my advent,
and that I

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