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Chapter 11 With Dejah Thoris

  • As we reached the open the two female guards who had been detailed to watc_ver Dejah Thoris hurried up and made as though to assume custody of her onc_ore. The poor child shrank against me and I felt her two little hands fol_ightly over my arm. Waving the women away, I informed them that Sola woul_ttend the captive hereafter, and I further warned Sarkoja that any more o_er cruel attentions bestowed upon Dejah Thoris would result in Sarkoja'_udden and painful demise.
  • My threat was unfortunate and resulted in more harm than good to Dejah Thoris,
  • for, as I learned later, men do not kill women upon Mars, nor women, men. S_arkoja merely gave us an ugly look and departed to hatch up deviltrie_gainst us.
  • I soon found Sola and explained to her that I wished her to guard Dejah Thori_s she had guarded me; that I wished her to find other quarters where the_ould not be molested by Sarkoja, and I finally informed her that I mysel_ould take up my quarters among the men.
  • Sola glanced at the accouterments which were carried in my hand and slun_cross my shoulder.
  • "You are a great chieftain now, John Carter," she said, "and I must do you_idding, though indeed I am glad to do it under any circumstances. The ma_hose metal you carry was young, but he was a great warrior, and had by hi_romotions and kills won his way close to the rank of Tars Tarkas, who, as yo_now, is second to Lorquas Ptomel only. You are eleventh, there are but te_hieftains in this community who rank you in prowess."
  • "And if I should kill Lorquas Ptomel?" I asked.
  • "You would be first, John Carter; but you may only win that honor by the wil_f the entire council that Lorquas Ptomel meet you in combat, or should h_ttack you, you may kill him in self-defense, and thus win first place."
  • I laughed, and changed the subject. I had no particular desire to kill Lorqua_tomel, and less to be a jed among the Tharks.
  • I accompanied Sola and Dejah Thoris in a search for new quarters, which w_ound in a building nearer the audience chamber and of far more pretentiou_rchitecture than our former habitation. We also found in this building rea_leeping apartments with ancient beds of highly wrought metal swinging fro_normous gold chains depending from the marble ceilings. The decoration of th_alls was most elaborate, and, unlike the frescoes in the other buildings _ad examined, portrayed many human figures in the compositions. These were o_eople like myself, and of a much lighter color than Dejah Thoris. They wer_lad in graceful, flowing robes, highly ornamented with metal and jewels, an_heir luxuriant hair was of a beautiful golden and reddish bronze. The me_ere beardless and only a few wore arms. The scenes depicted for the mos_art, a fair-skinned, fair-haired people at play.
  • Dejah Thoris clasped her hands with an exclamation of rapture as she gaze_pon these magnificent works of art, wrought by a people long extinct; whil_ola, on the other hand, apparently did not see them.
  • We decided to use this room, on the second floor and overlooking the plaza,
  • for Dejah Thoris and Sola, and another room adjoining and in the rear for th_ooking and supplies. I then dispatched Sola to bring the bedding and suc_ood and utensils as she might need, telling her that I would guard Deja_horis until her return.
  • As Sola departed Dejah Thoris turned to me with a faint smile.
  • "And whereto, then, would your prisoner escape should you leave her, unless i_as to follow you and crave your protection, and ask your pardon for the crue_houghts she has harbored against you these past few days?"
  • "You are right," I answered, "there is no escape for either of us unless we g_ogether."
  • "I heard your challenge to the creature you call Tars Tarkas, and I think _nderstand your position among these people, but what I cannot fathom is you_tatement that you are not of Barsoom."
  • "In the name of my first ancestor, then," she continued, "where may you b_rom? You are like unto my people, and yet so unlike. You speak my language,
  • and yet I heard you tell Tars Tarkas that you had but learned it recently. Al_arsoomians speak the same tongue from the ice-clad south to the ice-cla_orth, though their written languages differ. Only in the valley Dor, wher_he river Iss empties into the lost sea of Korus, is there supposed to be _ifferent language spoken, and, except in the legends of our ancestors, ther_s no record of a Barsoomian returning up the river Iss, from the shores o_orus in the valley of Dor. Do not tell me that you have thus returned! The_ould kill you horribly anywhere upon the surface of Barsoom if that wer_rue; tell me it is not!"
  • Her eyes were filled with a strange, weird light; her voice was pleading, an_er little hands, reached up upon my breast, were pressed against me as thoug_o wring a denial from my very heart.
  • "I do not know your customs, Dejah Thoris, but in my own Virginia a gentlema_oes not lie to save himself; I am not of Dor; I have never seen th_ysterious Iss; the lost sea of Korus is still lost, so far as I am concerned.
  • Do you believe me?"
  • And then it struck me suddenly that I was very anxious that she should believ_e. It was not that I feared the results which would follow a general belie_hat I had returned from the Barsoomian heaven or hell, or whatever it was.
  • Why was it, then! Why should I care what she thought? I looked down at her;
  • her beautiful face upturned, and her wonderful eyes opening up the very dept_f her soul; and as my eyes met hers I knew why, and—I shuddered.
  • A similar wave of feeling seemed to stir her; she drew away from me with _igh, and with her earnest, beautiful face turned up to mine, she whispered:
  • "I believe you, John Carter; I do not know what a 'gentleman' is, nor have _ver heard before of Virginia; but on Barsoom no man lies; if he does not wis_o speak the truth he is silent. Where is this Virginia, your country, Joh_arter?" she asked, and it seemed that this fair name of my fair land ha_ever sounded more beautiful than as it fell from those perfect lips on tha_ar-gone day.
  • "I am of another world," I answered, "the great planet Earth, which revolve_bout our common sun and next within the orbit of your Barsoom, which we kno_s Mars. How I came here I cannot tell you, for I do not know; but here I am,
  • and since my presence has permitted me to serve Dejah Thoris I am glad that _m here."
  • She gazed at me with troubled eyes, long and questioningly. That it wa_ifficult to believe my statement I well knew, nor could I hope that she woul_o so however much I craved her confidence and respect. I would much rathe_ot have told her anything of my antecedents, but no man could look into th_epth of those eyes and refuse her slightest behest.
  • Finally she smiled, and, rising, said: "I shall have to believe even though _annot understand. I can readily perceive that you are not of the Barsoom o_oday; you are like us, yet different—but why should I trouble my poor hea_ith such a problem, when my heart tells me that I believe because I wish t_elieve!"
  • It was good logic, good, earthly, feminine logic, and if it satisfied her _ertainly could pick no flaws in it. As a matter of fact it was about the onl_ind of logic that could be brought to bear upon my problem. We fell into _eneral conversation then, asking and answering many questions on each side.
  • She was curious to learn of the customs of my people and displayed _emarkable knowledge of events on Earth. When I questioned her closely on thi_eeming familiarity with earthly things she laughed, and cried out:
  • "Why, every school boy on Barsoom knows the geography, and much concerning th_auna and flora, as well as the history of your planet fully as well as of hi_wn. Can we not see everything which takes place upon Earth, as you call it;
  • is it not hanging there in the heavens in plain sight?"
  • This baffled me, I must confess, fully as much as my statements had confounde_er; and I told her so. She then explained in general the instruments he_eople had used and been perfecting for ages, which permit them to throw upo_ screen a perfect image of what is transpiring upon any planet and upon man_f the stars. These pictures are so perfect in detail that, when photographe_nd enlarged, objects no greater than a blade of grass may be distinctl_ecognized. I afterward, in Helium, saw many of these pictures, as well as th_nstruments which produced them.
  • "If, then, you are so familiar with earthly things," I asked, "why is it tha_ou do not recognize me as identical with the inhabitants of that planet?"
  • She smiled again as one might in bored indulgence of a questioning child.
  • "Because, John Carter," she replied, "nearly every planet and star havin_tmospheric conditions at all approaching those of Barsoom, shows forms o_nimal life almost identical with you and me; and, further, Earth men, almos_ithout exception, cover their bodies with strange, unsightly pieces of cloth,
  • and their heads with hideous contraptions the purpose of which we have bee_nable to conceive; while you, when found by the Tharkian warriors, wer_ntirely undisfigured and unadorned.
  • "The fact that you wore no ornaments is a strong proof of your un-Barsoomia_rigin, while the absence of grotesque coverings might cause a doubt as t_our earthliness."
  • I then narrated the details of my departure from the Earth, explaining that m_ody there lay fully clothed in all the, to her, strange garments of mundan_wellers. At this point Sola returned with our meager belongings and her youn_artian protege, who, of course, would have to share the quarters with them.
  • Sola asked us if we had had a visitor during her absence, and seemed muc_urprised when we answered in the negative. It seemed that as she had mounte_he approach to the upper floors where our quarters were located, she had me_arkoja descending. We decided that she must have been eavesdropping, but a_e could recall nothing of importance that had passed between us we dismisse_he matter as of little consequence, merely promising ourselves to be warne_o the utmost caution in the future.
  • Dejah Thoris and I then fell to examining the architecture and decorations o_he beautiful chambers of the building we were occupying. She told me tha_hese people had presumably flourished over a hundred thousand years before.
  • They were the early progenitors of her race, but had mixed with the othe_reat race of early Martians, who were very dark, almost black, and also wit_he reddish yellow race which had flourished at the same time.
  • These three great divisions of the higher Martians had been forced into _ighty alliance as the drying up of the Martian seas had compelled them t_eek the comparatively few and always diminishing fertile areas, and to defen_hemselves, under new conditions of life, against the wild hordes of gree_en.
  • Ages of close relationship and intermarrying had resulted in the race of re_en, of which Dejah Thoris was a fair and beautiful daughter. During the age_f hardships and incessant warring between their own various races, as well a_ith the green men, and before they had fitted themselves to the change_onditions, much of the high civilization and many of the arts of the fair-
  • haired Martians had become lost; but the red race of today has reached a poin_here it feels that it has made up in new discoveries and in a more practica_ivilization for all that lies irretrievably buried with the ancien_arsoomians, beneath the countless intervening ages.
  • These ancient Martians had been a highly cultivated and literary race, bu_uring the vicissitudes of those trying centuries of readjustment to ne_onditions, not only did their advancement and production cease entirely, bu_ractically all their archives, records, and literature were lost.
  • Dejah Thoris related many interesting facts and legends concerning this los_ace of noble and kindly people. She said that the city in which we wer_amping was supposed to have been a center of commerce and culture known a_orad. It had been built upon a beautiful, natural harbor, landlocked b_agnificent hills. The little valley on the west front of the city, sh_xplained, was all that remained of the harbor, while the pass through th_ills to the old sea bottom had been the channel through which the shippin_assed up to the city's gates.
  • The shores of the ancient seas were dotted with just such cities, and lesse_nes, in diminishing numbers, were to be found converging toward the center o_he oceans, as the people had found it necessary to follow the receding water_ntil necessity had forced upon them their ultimate salvation, the so-calle_artian canals.
  • We had been so engrossed in exploration of the building and in ou_onversation that it was late in the afternoon before we realized it. We wer_rought back to a realization of our present conditions by a messenger bearin_ summons from Lorquas Ptomel directing me to appear before him forthwith.
  • Bidding Dejah Thoris and Sola farewell, and commanding Woola to remain o_uard, I hastened to the audience chamber, where I found Lorquas Ptomel an_ars Tarkas seated upon the rostrum.