A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 80

was gone for four years, and when he returned all had been over for
three; for about a year after his departure, and shortly before the
time for the return of an expedition which had gone forth to fetch the
fruits of a community incubator, the egg had hatched. Thereafter my
mother continued to keep me in the old tower, visiting me nightly and
lavishing upon me the love the community life would have robbed us both
of. She hoped, upon the return of the expedition from the incubator,
to mix me with the other young assigned to the quarters of Tal Hajus,
and thus escape the fate which would surely follow discovery of her sin
against the ancient traditions of the green men.

"She taught me rapidly the language and customs of my kind, and one
night she told me the story I have told to you up to this point,
impressing upon me the necessity for absolute secrecy and the great
caution I must exercise after she had placed me with the other young
Tharks to permit no one to guess that I was further advanced in
education than they, nor by any sign to divulge in the presence of
others my affection for her, or my knowledge of my parentage; and then
drawing me close to her she whispered in my ear the name of my father.

"And then a light flashed out upon the darkness of the tower chamber,
and there stood Sarkoja, her gleaming, baleful eyes fixed in a frenzy
of loathing and contempt upon my mother. The torrent of hatred and
abuse she poured out upon her turned my young heart cold in terror.
That she had heard the entire story was apparent, and that she had
suspected something wrong from my mother's long nightly absences from
her quarters accounted for her presence there on that fateful night.

"One thing she had not heard, nor did she know, the whispered name of
my father. This was apparent from her repeated demands upon my mother
to disclose the name of her partner in sin, but no amount of abuse or
threats could wring this from her, and to save me from needless torture
she lied, for she told Sarkoja that she alone knew nor would she ever
tell her child.

"With final imprecations, Sarkoja hastened away to Tal Hajus to report
her discovery, and while she was gone my mother, wrapping me in the
silks and furs of her night coverings, so that I was scarcely
noticeable, descended to the streets and ran wildly away

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Yours, David Innes.