The Gods of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 63

For countless ages they lived their long lives within their
hard shells, hopping and skipping about the broad planet; falling into
rivers, lakes, and seas, to be still further spread about the surface
of the new world.

"Countless billions died before the first black man broke through his
prison walls into the light of day. Prompted by curiosity, he broke
open other shells and the peopling of Barsoom commenced.

"The pure strain of the blood of this first black man has remained
untainted by admixture with other creatures in the race of which I am a
member; but from the sixteen-legged worm, the first ape and renegade
black man has sprung every other form of animal life upon Barsoom.

"The therns," and he smiled maliciously as he spoke, "are but the
result of ages of evolution from the pure white ape of antiquity. They
are a lower order still. There is but one race of true and immortal
humans on Barsoom. It is the race of black men.

"The Tree of Life is dead, but before it died the plant men learned to
detach themselves from it and roam the face of Barsoom with the other
children of the First Parent.

"Now their bisexuality permits them to reproduce themselves after the
manner of true plants, but otherwise they have progressed but little in
all the ages of their existence. Their actions and movements are
largely matters of instinct and not guided to any great extent by
reason, since the brain of a plant man is but a trifle larger than the
end of your smallest finger. They live upon vegetation and the blood
of animals, and their brain is just large enough to direct their
movements in the direction of food, and to translate the food
sensations which are carried to it from their eyes and ears. They have
no sense of self-preservation and so are entirely without fear in the
face of danger. That is why they are such terrible antagonists in
combat."

I wondered why the black man took such pains to discourse thus at
length to enemies upon the genesis of life Barsoomian. It seemed a
strangely inopportune moment for a proud member of a proud race to
unbend in casual conversation with a captor. Especially in view of the
fact that the black still lay securely bound upon the deck.

It was the faintest straying of his eye beyond me for the barest
fraction of a second that explained his motive for thus dragging out my
interest in his truly absorbing story.

He lay

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