Back home Glossary About Cover
white The Barsoom series
  branch Llana of Gathol
    branch The ancient dead
Previous page Next page navigation 14/53 dots branch Chapter 13.  
Next paragraph       I had no difficulty in locating the courtyard where I had landed and left my flier. As we approached it, I saw a number of dead men lying in the avenue. They were sprawled in the grotesque postures of death. Some of them were split wide open from their crowns to their bellies. "The work of green men," I said.
Next paragraph       "These were the men of Hin Abtol," said Llana of Gathol.
Next paragraph       We counted seventeen corpses before we reached the entrance to the courtyard.
Next paragraph       When I looked in, I stopped, appalled my flier was not there; but five more dead Panars lay near where it had stood.
Next paragraph       "It is gone," I said.
Next paragraph       " Hin Abtol," said Llana of Gathol. "The coward abandoned his men and fled in your flier. Only two of his warriors succeeded in accompanying him."
Next paragraph       "Perhaps he would have been a fool to remain," I said. "He would only have met the same death that they met."
Next paragraph       "In like circumstances, John Carter would have been a fool, then," she shot back.
Next paragraph       Perhaps I would, for the truth of the matter is that I like to fight. I suppose it is all wrong, but I cannot help it. Fighting has been my profession during all the life that I can recall. I fought all during the Civil War in the Confederate Army. I fought in other wars before that. I will not bore you with my autobiography. Suffice it to say that I have always been fighting. I do not know how old I am. I recall no childhood. I have always appeared to be about thirty years old. I still do. I do not know from whence I came, nor if I were born of woman as are other men. I have, so far as I know, simply always been.
Next paragraph       Perhaps I am the materialization of some long dead warrior of another age. Who knows? That might explain my ability to cross the cold, dark void of space which separates Earth from Mars. I do not know.
Next paragraph       Pan Dan Chee broke the spell of my reverie. "What now?" he asked.
Next paragraph       "A long walk," I said. "It is fully four thousand haads from here to Gathol, the nearest friendly city." That would be the equivalent of fifteen hundred miles a very long walk.
Next paragraph       "And only this desert from which to look for subsistence?" asked Pan Dan Chee.
Next paragraph       "There will be hills," I told him. "There will be deep little ravines where moisture lingers and things grow which we can eat; but there may be green men, and there will certainly be banths and other beasts of prey. Are you afraid, Pan Dan Chee?"
Next paragraph       "Yes," he said, "but only for Llana of Gathol. She is a woman it is no adventure for a woman. Perhaps she could not survive it."
Next paragraph       Llana of Gathol laughed. "You do not know the women of Helium," she said, "and still less one in whose veins flows the blood of Dejah Thoris and John Carter. Perhaps you will learn before we have reached Gathol." She stooped and stripped the harness and weapons of a dead Panar from his corpse and buckled them upon herself. The act was more eloquent than words.
Next paragraph       "Now we are three good sword arms," said Pan Dan Chee with a laugh, but we knew that he was not laughing at Llana of Gathol but from admiration of her.
Next paragraph       And so we set out, the three of us, on that long trek toward far Gathol Llana of Gathol and I, of one blood and two worlds, and Pan Dan Chee of still another blood and of an extinct world. We might have seemed ill assorted, but no three people could have been more in harmony with each other at least at first.
Next paragraph       For five days we saw no living thing. We subsisted entirely upon the milk of the mantalia plant, which grows apparently without water, distilling its plentiful supply of milk from the products of the soil, the slight moisture in the air, and the rays of the sun. A single plant of this species will give eight or ten quarts of milk a day. They are scattered across the dead sea bottoms as though by a beneficent Providence, giving both food and drink to man and beast.
Next paragraph       My companions might still have died of thirst or starvation had I not been with them, for neither knew that the quite ordinary looking plants which we occasionally passed carried in their stems and branches this life-giving fluid.
Next paragraph       We rested in the middle of the day and slept during the middle portion of the nights, taking turns standing guard a duty which Llana of Gathol insisted on sharing with us.
Next paragraph       When we lay down to rest on the sixth night, Llana had the first watch; and as I had the second, I prepared to sleep at once. Pan Dan Chee sat up and talked with Llana.
Next paragraph       As I dozed off, I heard him say, "May I call you my princess?"
Next paragraph       That, on Barsoom, is the equivalent of a proposal of marriage on Earth. I tried to shut my ears and go to sleep, but I could not but hear her reply.
Next paragraph       "You have not fought for me yet," she said, "and no man may presume to claim a woman of Helium until he has proved his metal."
Next paragraph       "I have had no opportunity to fight for you," he said.
Next paragraph       "Then wait until you have," she said, shortly; "and now good-night."
Next paragraph       I thought she was a little too short with him. Pan Dan Chee is a nice fellow, and I was sure that he would give a good account of himself when the opportunity arose. She didn't have to treat him as though he were scum. But then, women have their own ways. As a rule they are unpleasant ways, but they seem the proper ways to win men; so I suppose they must be all right.
Next paragraph       Pan Dan Chee walked off a few paces and lay down on the other side of Llana of Gathol. We always managed to keep her between us at all times for her greater protection.
Next paragraph       I was awakened later on by a shout and a hideous roar. I leaped to my feet to see Llana of Gathol down on the ground with a huge banth on top of her, and at that instant Pan Dan Chee leaped full upon the back of the mighty carnivore.
Next paragraph       It all happened so quickly that I can scarcely visualize it all. I saw Pan Dan Chee dragging at the great beast in an effort to pull it from Llana's body, and at the same he was plunging his dagger into its side. The banth was roaring hideously as it tried to fight off Pan Dan Chee and at the same time retain its hold upon Llana.
Next paragraph       I sprang close in with my short-sword, but it was difficult to find an opening which did not endanger either Llana or Pan Dan Chee. It must have been a very amusing sight; as the four of us were threshing around on the ground, all mixed up, and the banth was roaring and Pan Dan Chee was cursing like a trooper when he wasn't trying to tell Llana of Gathol how much he loved her.
Next paragraph       But at last I got an opening, and drove my short-sword into the heart of the banth. With a final scream and a convulsive shudder, the beast rolled over and lay still.
Next paragraph       When I tried to lift Llana from the ground, she leaped to her feet. " Pan Dan Chee!" she cried. "Is he all right? Was he hurt?"
Next paragraph       "Of course I'm all right," said Pan Dan Chee; "but you? How badly are you hurt?"
Next paragraph       "I am not hurt at all. You kept the brute so busy it didn't have a chance to maul me."
Next paragraph       "Thanks be to my ancestors!" exclaimed Pan Dan Chee fervently. Suddenly he turned on her. "Now," he said, "I have fought for you. What is your answer?"
Next paragraph       Llana of Gathol shrugged her pretty shoulders. "You have not fought a man," she said, "-just a little banth."
        Well, I never did understand women.