A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 81

toward the
outskirts of the city, in the direction which led to the far south, out
toward the man whose protection she might not claim, but on whose face
she wished to look once more before she died.

"As we neared the city's southern extremity a sound came to us from
across the mossy flat, from the direction of the only pass through the
hills which led to the gates, the pass by which caravans from either
north or south or east or west would enter the city. The sounds we
heard were the squealing of thoats and the grumbling of zitidars, with
the occasional clank of arms which announced the approach of a body of
warriors. The thought uppermost in her mind was that it was my father
returned from his expedition, but the cunning of the Thark held her
from headlong and precipitate flight to greet him.

"Retreating into the shadows of a doorway she awaited the coming of the
cavalcade which shortly entered the avenue, breaking its formation and
thronging the thoroughfare from wall to wall. As the head of the
procession passed us the lesser moon swung clear of the overhanging
roofs and lit up the scene with all the brilliancy of her wondrous
light. My mother shrank further back into the friendly shadows, and
from her hiding place saw that the expedition was not that of my
father, but the returning caravan bearing the young Tharks. Instantly
her plan was formed, and as a great chariot swung close to our hiding
place she slipped stealthily in upon the trailing tailboard, crouching
low in the shadow of the high side, straining me to her bosom in a
frenzy of love.

"She knew, what I did not, that never again after that night would she
hold me to her breast, nor was it likely we would ever look upon each
other's face again. In the confusion of the plaza she mixed me with
the other children, whose guardians during the journey were now free to
relinquish their responsibility. We were herded together into a great
room, fed by women who had not accompanied the expedition, and the next
day we were parceled out among the retinues of the chieftains.

"I never saw my mother after that night. She was imprisoned by Tal
Hajus, and every effort, including the most horrible and shameful
torture, was brought to bear upon her to wring from her lips the name
of my father; but she remained steadfast and loyal, dying at last
amidst the laughter of Tal Hajus and

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