As I proceeded on my journey toward Zodanga many strange and interestin_ights arrested my attention, and at the several farm houses where I stopped _earned a number of new and instructive things concerning the methods an_anners of Barsoom.
The water which supplies the farms of Mars is collected in immense undergroun_eservoirs at either pole from the melting ice caps, and pumped through lon_onduits to the various populated centers. Along either side of thes_onduits, and extending their entire length, lie the cultivated districts.
These are divided into tracts of about the same size, each tract being unde_he supervision of one or more government officers.
Instead of flooding the surface of the fields, and thus wasting immens_uantities of water by evaporation, the precious liquid is carried undergroun_hrough a vast network of small pipes directly to the roots of the vegetation.
The crops upon Mars are always uniform, for there are no droughts, no rains, no high winds, and no insects, or destroying birds.
On this trip I tasted the first meat I had eaten since leaving Earth—large, juicy steaks and chops from the well-fed domestic animals of the farms. Also _njoyed luscious fruits and vegetables, but not a single article of food whic_as exactly similar to anything on Earth. Every plant and flower and vegetabl_nd animal has been so refined by ages of careful, scientific cultivation an_reeding that the like of them on Earth dwindled into pale, gray, characterless nothingness by comparison.
At a second stop I met some highly cultivated people of the noble class an_hile in conversation we chanced to speak of Helium. One of the older men ha_een there on a diplomatic mission several years before and spoke with regre_f the conditions which seemed destined ever to keep these two countries a_ar.
"Helium," he said, "rightly boasts the most beautiful women of Barsoom, and o_ll her treasures the wondrous daughter of Mors Kajak, Dejah Thoris, is th_ost exquisite flower.
"Why," he added, "the people really worship the ground she walks upon an_ince her loss on that ill-starred expedition all Helium has been draped i_ourning.
"That our ruler should have attacked the disabled fleet as it was returning t_elium was but another of his awful blunders which I fear will sooner or late_ompel Zodanga to elevate a wiser man to his place."
"Even now, though our victorious armies are surrounding Helium, the people o_odanga are voicing their displeasure, for the war is not a popular one, sinc_t is not based on right or justice. Our forces took advantage of the absenc_f the principal fleet of Helium on their search for the princess, and so w_ave been able easily to reduce the city to a sorry plight. it is said sh_ill fall within the next few passages of the further moon."
"And what, think you, may have been the fate of the princess, Dejah Thoris?" _sked as casually as possible.
"She is dead," he answered. "This much was learned from a green warrio_ecently captured by our forces in the south. She escaped from the hordes o_hark with a strange creature of another world, only to fall into the hands o_he Warhoons. Their thoats were found wandering upon the sea bottom an_vidences of a bloody conflict were discovered nearby."
While this information was in no way reassuring, neither was it at al_onclusive proof of the death of Dejah Thoris, and so I determined to mak_very effort possible to reach Helium as quickly as I could and carry t_ardos Mors such news of his granddaughter's possible whereabouts as lay in m_ower.
Ten days after leaving the three Ptor brothers I arrived at Zodanga. From th_oment that I had come in contact with the red inhabitants of Mars I ha_oticed that Woola drew a great amount of unwelcome attention to me, since th_uge brute belonged to a species which is never domesticated by the red men.
Were one to stroll down Broadway with a Numidian lion at his heels the effec_ould be somewhat similar to that which I should have produced had I entere_odanga with Woola.
The very thought of parting with the faithful fellow caused me so great regre_nd genuine sorrow that I put it off until just before we arrived at th_ity's gates; but then, finally, it became imperative that we separate. Ha_othing further than my own safety or pleasure been at stake no argument coul_ave prevailed upon me to turn away the one creature upon Barsoom that ha_ever failed in a demonstration of affection and loyalty; but as I woul_illingly have offered my life in the service of her in search of whom I wa_bout to challenge the unknown dangers of this, to me, mysterious city, _ould not permit even Woola's life to threaten the success of my venture, muc_ess his momentary happiness, for I doubted not he soon would forget me. An_o I bade the poor beast an affectionate farewell, promising him, however, that if I came through my adventure in safety that in some way I should fin_he means to search him out.
He seemed to understand me fully, and when I pointed back in the direction o_hark he turned sorrowfully away, nor could I bear to watch him go; bu_esolutely set my face toward Zodanga and with a touch of heartsicknes_pproached her frowning walls.
The letter I bore from them gained me immediate entrance to the vast, walle_ity. It was still very early in the morning and the streets were practicall_eserted. The residences, raised high upon their metal columns, resembled hug_ookeries, while the uprights themselves presented the appearance of stee_ree trunks. The shops as a rule were not raised from the ground nor wer_heir doors bolted or barred, since thievery is practically unknown upo_arsoom. Assassination is the ever-present fear of all Barsoomians, and fo_his reason alone their homes are raised high above the ground at night, or i_imes of danger.
The Ptor brothers had given me explicit directions for reaching the point o_he city where I could find living accommodations and be near the offices o_he government agents to whom they had given me letters. My way led to th_entral square or plaza, which is a characteristic of all Martian cities.
The plaza of Zodanga covers a square mile and is bounded by the palaces of th_eddak, the jeds, and other members of the royalty and nobility of Zodanga, a_ell as by the principal public buildings, cafes, and shops.
As I was crossing the great square lost in wonder and admiration of th_agnificent architecture and the gorgeous scarlet vegetation which carpete_he broad lawns I discovered a red Martian walking briskly toward me from on_f the avenues. He paid not the slightest attention to me, but as he cam_breast I recognized him, and turning I placed my hand upon his shoulder, calling out:
"Kaor, Kantos Kan!"
Like lightning he wheeled and before I could so much as lower my hand th_oint of his long-sword was at my breast.
"Who are you?" he growled, and then as a backward leap carried me fifty fee_rom his sword he dropped the point to the ground and exclaimed, laughing,
"I do not need a better reply, there is but one man upon all Barsoom who ca_ounce about like a rubber ball. By the mother of the further moon, Joh_arter, how came you here, and have you become a Darseen that you can chang_our color at will?"
"You gave me a bad half minute my friend," he continued, after I had briefl_utlined my adventures since parting with him in the arena at Warhoon. "Wer_y name and city known to the Zodangans I would shortly be sitting on th_anks of the lost sea of Korus with my revered and departed ancestors. I a_ere in the interest of Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium, to discover th_hereabouts of Dejah Thoris, our princess. Sab Than, prince of Zodanga, ha_er hidden in the city and has fallen madly in love with her. His father, Tha_osis, Jeddak of Zodanga, has made her voluntary marriage to his son the pric_f peace between our countries, but Tardos Mors will not accede to the demand_nd has sent word that he and his people would rather look upon the dead fac_f their princess than see her wed to any than her own choice, and tha_ersonally he would prefer being engulfed in the ashes of a lost and burnin_elium to joining the metal of his house with that of Than Kosis. His repl_as the deadliest affront he could have put upon Than Kosis and the Zodangans, but his people love him the more for it and his strength in Helium is greate_oday than ever.
"I have been here three days," continued Kantos Kan, "but I have not yet foun_here Dejah Thoris is imprisoned. Today I join the Zodangan navy as an ai_cout and I hope in this way to win the confidence of Sab Than, the prince, who is commander of this division of the navy, and thus learn the whereabout_f Dejah Thoris. I am glad that you are here, John Carter, for I know you_oyalty to my princess and two of us working together should be able t_ccomplish much."
The plaza was now commencing to fill with people going and coming upon th_aily activities of their duties. The shops were opening and the cafes fillin_ith early morning patrons. Kantos Kan led me to one of these gorgeous eatin_laces where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus. No hand touche_he food from the time it entered the building in its raw state until i_merged hot and delicious upon the tables before the guests, in response t_he touching of tiny buttons to indicate their desires.
After our meal, Kantos Kan took me with him to the headquarters of the air- scout squadron and introducing me to his superior asked that I be enrolled a_ member of the corps. In accordance with custom an examination was necessary, but Kantos Kan had told me to have no fear on this score as he would attend t_hat part of the matter. He accomplished this by taking my order fo_xamination to the examining officer and representing himself as John Carter.
"This ruse will be discovered later," he cheerfully explained, "when the_heck up my weights, measurements, and other personal identification data, bu_t will be several months before this is done and our mission should b_ccomplished or have failed long before that time."
The next few days were spent by Kantos Kan in teaching me the intricacies o_lying and of repairing the dainty little contrivances which the Martians us_or this purpose. The body of the one-man air craft is about sixteen fee_ong, two feet wide and three inches thick, tapering to a point at each end.
The driver sits on top of this plane upon a seat constructed over the small, noiseless radium engine which propels it. The medium of buoyancy is containe_ithin the thin metal walls of the body and consists of the eighth Barsoomia_ay, or ray of propulsion, as it may be termed in view of its properties.
This ray, like the ninth ray, is unknown on Earth, but the Martians hav_iscovered that it is an inherent property of all light no matter from wha_ource it emanates. They have learned that it is the solar eighth ray whic_ropels the light of the sun to the various planets, and that it is th_ndividual eighth ray of each planet which "reflects," or propels the ligh_hus obtained out into space once more. The solar eighth ray would be absorbe_y the surface of Barsoom, but the Barsoomian eighth ray, which tends t_ropel light from Mars into space, is constantly streaming out from the plane_onstituting a force of repulsion of gravity which when confined is able t_ife enormous weights from the surface of the ground.
It is this ray which has enabled them to so perfect aviation that battle ship_ar outweighing anything known upon Earth sail as gracefully and lightl_hrough the thin air of Barsoom as a toy balloon in the heavy atmosphere o_arth.
During the early years of the discovery of this ray many strange accident_ccurred before the Martians learned to measure and control the wonderfu_ower they had found. In one instance, some nine hundred years before, th_irst great battle ship to be built with eighth ray reservoirs was stored wit_oo great a quantity of the rays and she had sailed up from Helium with fiv_undred officers and men, never to return.
Her power of repulsion for the planet was so great that it had carried her fa_nto space, where she can be seen today, by the aid of powerful telescopes, hurtling through the heavens ten thousand miles from Mars; a tiny satellit_hat will thus encircle Barsoom to the end of time.
The fourth day after my arrival at Zodanga I made my first flight, and as _esult of it I won a promotion which included quarters in the palace of Tha_osis.
As I rose above the city I circled several times, as I had seen Kantos Kan do, and then throwing my engine into top speed I raced at terrific velocity towar_he south, following one of the great waterways which enter Zodanga from tha_irection.
I had traversed perhaps two hundred miles in a little less than an hour when _escried far below me a party of three green warriors racing madly toward _mall figure on foot which seemed to be trying to reach the confines of one o_he walled fields.
Dropping my machine rapidly toward them, and circling to the rear of th_arriors, I soon saw that the object of their pursuit was a red Martia_earing the metal of the scout squadron to which I was attached. A shor_istance away lay his tiny flier, surrounded by the tools with which he ha_vidently been occupied in repairing some damage when surprised by the gree_arriors.
They were now almost upon him; their flying mounts charging down on th_elatively puny figure at terrific speed, while the warriors leaned low to th_ight, with their great metal-shod spears. Each seemed striving to be th_irst to impale the poor Zodangan and in another moment his fate would hav_een sealed had it not been for my timely arrival.
Driving my fleet air craft at high speed directly behind the warriors I soo_vertook them and without diminishing my speed I rammed the prow of my littl_lier between the shoulders of the nearest. The impact sufficient to have tor_hrough inches of solid steel, hurled the fellow's headless body into the ai_ver the head of his thoat, where it fell sprawling upon the moss. The mount_f the other two warriors turned squealing in terror, and bolted in opposit_irections.
Reducing my speed I circled and came to the ground at the feet of th_stonished Zodangan. He was warm in his thanks for my timely aid and promise_hat my day's work would bring the reward it merited, for it was none othe_han a cousin of the jeddak of Zodanga whose life I had saved.
We wasted no time in talk as we knew that the warriors would surely return a_oon as they had gained control of their mounts. Hastening to his damage_achine we were bending every effort to finish the needed repairs and ha_lmost completed them when we saw the two green monsters returning at to_peed from opposite sides of us. When they had approached within a hundre_ards their thoats again became unmanageable and absolutely refused to advanc_urther toward the air craft which had frightened them.
The warriors finally dismounted and hobbling their animals advanced toward u_n foot with drawn long-swords.
I advanced to meet the larger, telling the Zodangan to do the best he coul_ith the other. Finishing my man with almost no effort, as had now from muc_ractice become habitual with me, I hastened to return to my new acquaintanc_hom I found indeed in desperate straits.
He was wounded and down with the huge foot of his antagonist upon his throa_nd the great long-sword raised to deal the final thrust. With a bound _leared the fifty feet intervening between us, and with outstretched poin_rove my sword completely through the body of the green warrior. His swor_ell, harmless, to the ground and he sank limply upon the prostrate form o_he Zodangan.
A cursory examination of the latter revealed no mortal injuries and after _rief rest he asserted that he felt fit to attempt the return voyage. He woul_ave to pilot his own craft, however, as these frail vessels are not intende_o convey but a single person.
Quickly completing the repairs we rose together into the still, cloudles_artian sky, and at great speed and without further mishap returned t_odanga.
As we neared the city we discovered a mighty concourse of civilians and troop_ssembled upon the plain before the city. The sky was black with naval vessel_nd private and public pleasure craft, flying long streamers of gay-colore_ilks, and banners and flags of odd and picturesque design.
My companion signaled that I slow down, and running his machine close besid_ine suggested that we approach and watch the ceremony, which, he said, wa_or the purpose of conferring honors on individual officers and men fo_ravery and other distinguished service. He then unfurled a little ensig_hich denoted that his craft bore a member of the royal family of Zodanga, an_ogether we made our way through the maze of low-lying air vessels until w_ung directly over the jeddak of Zodanga and his staff. All were mounted upo_he small domestic bull thoats of the red Martians, and their trappings an_rnamentation bore such a quantity of gorgeously colored feathers that I coul_ot but be struck with the startling resemblance the concourse bore to a ban_f the red Indians of my own Earth.
One of the staff called the attention of Than Kosis to the presence of m_ompanion above them and the ruler motioned for him to descend. As they waite_or the troops to move into position facing the jeddak the two talke_arnestly together, the jeddak and his staff occasionally glancing up at me. _ould not hear their conversation and presently it ceased and all dismounted, as the last body of troops had wheeled into position before their emperor. _ember of the staff advanced toward the troops, and calling the name of _oldier commanded him to advance. The officer then recited the nature of th_eroic act which had won the approval of the jeddak, and the latter advance_nd placed a metal ornament upon the left arm of the lucky man.
Ten men had been so decorated when the aide called out,
"John Carter, air scout!"
Never in my life had I been so surprised, but the habit of military disciplin_s strong within me, and I dropped my little machine lightly to the ground an_dvanced on foot as I had seen the others do. As I halted before the officer, he addressed me in a voice audible to the entire assemblage of troops an_pectators.
"In recognition, John Carter," he said, "of your remarkable courage and skil_n defending the person of the cousin of the jeddak Than Kosis and, singlehanded, vanquishing three green warriors, it is the pleasure of ou_eddak to confer on you the mark of his esteem."
Than Kosis then advanced toward me and placing an ornament upon me, said:
"My cousin has narrated the details of your wonderful achievement, which seem_ittle short of miraculous, and if you can so well defend a cousin of th_eddak how much better could you defend the person of the jeddak himself. Yo_re therefore appointed a padwar of The Guards and will be quartered in m_alace hereafter."
I thanked him, and at his direction joined the members of his staff. After th_eremony I returned my machine to its quarters on the roof of the barracks o_he air-scout squadron, and with an orderly from the palace to guide me _eported to the officer in charge of the palace.