A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 79

that they roamed not
beyond the hills. They spoke at first only of such things as interest
a community of Tharks, but gradually, as they came to meet more often,
and, as was now quite evident to both, no longer by chance, they talked
about themselves, their likes, their ambitions and their hopes. She
trusted him and told him of the awful repugnance she felt for the
cruelties of their kind, for the hideous, loveless lives they must ever
lead, and then she waited for the storm of denunciation to break from
his cold, hard lips; but instead he took her in his arms and kissed her.

"They kept their love a secret for six long years. She, my mother, was
of the retinue of the great Tal Hajus, while her lover was a simple
warrior, wearing only his own metal. Had their defection from the
traditions of the Tharks been discovered both would have paid the
penalty in the great arena before Tal Hajus and the assembled hordes.

"The egg from which I came was hidden beneath a great glass vessel upon
the highest and most inaccessible of the partially ruined towers of
ancient Thark. Once each year my mother visited it for the five long
years it lay there in the process of incubation. She dared not come
oftener, for in the mighty guilt of her conscience she feared that her
every move was watched. During this period my father gained great
distinction as a warrior and had taken the metal from several
chieftains. His love for my mother had never diminished, and his own
ambition in life was to reach a point where he might wrest the metal
from Tal Hajus himself, and thus, as ruler of the Tharks, be free to
claim her as his own, as well as, by the might of his power, protect
the child which otherwise would be quickly dispatched should the truth
become known.

"It was a wild dream, that of wresting the metal from Tal Hajus in five
short years, but his advance was rapid, and he soon stood high in the
councils of Thark. But one day the chance was lost forever, in so far
as it could come in time to save his loved ones, for he was ordered
away upon a long expedition to the ice-clad south, to make war upon the
natives there and despoil them of their furs, for such is the manner of
the green Barsoomian; he does not labor for what he can wrest in battle
from others.


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