A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 83

unswerving truthfulness,
that you could lie like one of your own Virginia gentlemen if a lie
would save others from sorrow or suffering. My father's name is Tars
Tarkas."




CHAPTER XVI

WE PLAN ESCAPE


The remainder of our journey to Thark was uneventful. We were twenty
days upon the road, crossing two sea bottoms and passing through or
around a number of ruined cities, mostly smaller than Korad. Twice we
crossed the famous Martian waterways, or canals, so-called by our
earthly astronomers. When we approached these points a warrior would
be sent far ahead with a powerful field glass, and if no great body of
red Martian troops was in sight we would advance as close as possible
without chance of being seen and then camp until dark, when we would
slowly approach the cultivated tract, and, locating one of the
numerous, broad highways which cross these areas at regular intervals,
creep silently and stealthily across to the arid lands upon the other
side. It required five hours to make one of these crossings without a
single halt, and the other consumed the entire night, so that we were
just leaving the confines of the high-walled fields when the sun broke
out upon us.

Crossing in the darkness, as we did, I was unable to see but little,
except as the nearer moon, in her wild and ceaseless hurtling through
the Barsoomian heavens, lit up little patches of the landscape from
time to time, disclosing walled fields and low, rambling buildings,
presenting much the appearance of earthly farms. There were many
trees, methodically arranged, and some of them were of enormous height;
there were animals in some of the enclosures, and they announced their
presence by terrified squealings and snortings as they scented our
queer, wild beasts and wilder human beings.

Only once did I perceive a human being, and that was at the
intersection of our crossroad with the wide, white turnpike which cuts
each cultivated district longitudinally at its exact center. The
fellow must have been sleeping beside the road, for, as I came abreast
of him, he raised upon one elbow and after a single glance at the
approaching caravan leaped shrieking to his feet and fled madly down
the road, scaling a nearby wall with the agility of a scared cat. The
Tharks paid him not the slightest attention; they were not out upon the
warpath, and the only sign that I had that they had seen him was a
quickening of the pace of the caravan as we hastened toward the
bordering desert which marked our entrance

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