I didn’t need to linger for a long time in Salensus Olli Prison. During the short time I was there, I often wondered what had happened to Thuvan Dihn of Ptarth’s Jeddah.
My good comrade had come after me in the park when I attacked Thurid, and when Salensus Oll had left with Dejah Thoris and others, leaving Ptarth behind Thuvia, Thuvan Dihn had also stayed in the park with her daughter, as her equipment was similar to that of the guards.
The last time I saw him, he stood still, waiting for the soldiers who might accompany me to close the gate, so he would stay with the two Thuvia. Could they have perhaps been able to escape? I couldn’t believe it, but with all my heart I still hoped for it.
On my third day of imprisonment, a dozen soldiers arrived to pick
me up at the reception room, where Salensus Oll himself would interrogate me.
There were a large number of superiors in the hall, and among them came my gaze
Thurid, but Matai Shang was not arriving.
Dejah Thoris sat as brilliantly beautiful as at least on the small throne next to Salensus Olli. My heart waved as I saw the sad and hopeless look on his gracious face.
The fact that he was next to the Jeddah of Jeddah foretold evil for him and for me, and as soon as I saw him, a firm intention arose in my mind that I would not leave the hall alive if I had to leave him in the clutches of this mighty tyrant.
I had killed even the braver men than Salensus Oll had, killed with my bare hands, and now I swore in my mind to kill him unless I came up with another way to save the Helium Princess. Admittedly, it would cause a quick death for myself, but it only worried me because I could no longer work for Dejah Thoris. For that reason alone, I would rather resort to some other means, for even if I killed Salensus Olli, I still would not have my beloved wife restored among his people. I decided to await the final decision of the court in order to get to know the intentions of the ruler of Okar as closely as possible and then to act on the facts.
As soon as I had stepped in front of Salensus Olli, this also told Thurid to step forward.
“Dator Thurid,” said jeddak, “you asked me a strange request. But I have decided to grant your wish, when you explained it to be solely in my interest as compound.
“I therefore declare the matter to the knowledge of all my arriving superiors,” continued Salensus Oll. “There hasn’t been a queen sitting on the throne next to me for a year, and now I’m going to take my wife as a woman who is considered Barsoom’s most beautiful, as anyone who stays in the truth has to admit she is.
“- Okar’s superiors, reveal your sword and pay your respects to Dejah Thoris, the princess of Helium and the future queen of Okar, for after the ten days set for the preparation he will become the spouse of Salensus Ol!”
As the arrogants pulled their swords, raising them high into the air, following the old Okari way when one of them published their engagement, Dejah Thoris jumped up and raised his hand and exclaimed, urging them to lower their swords.
“I can not come Salensus Olli’s spouse,” he John tried to prevent, “because already I have a wife and a mother. Helium Prince John Carter is still alive. I know that the case is so, because I heard Matai Shangin telling her daughter to have seen Phaidorille him Kaorin jeddakin Kulan Tithin at court “Jeddak will not marry another wife, and Salensus Oll cannot in that way offend the sanctity of marriage.”
Salensus Oll created a gloomy look at Thurid.
“Was this a surprise you had for me?” he roared. “You assured me that there is no obstacle that could not be easily overcome between me and this woman, and now I hear that there is just one insurmountable obstacle after all. What do you think, man? What do you have to say?”
“What if I deliver John Carter into your hands, Salensus Oll? Then haven’t I done more than I promised?” answered Thurid.
“Don’t talk crazy!” screamed the jeddak in anger. “I’m not a child, so you can ruin that way.”
“I speak like at least a man who knows what he’s saying,” Thurid explained, “knows he can give his speech.”
“Then get my hands on John Carter in ten days! Otherwise you’ll get yourself the same death I would order him if he were in power,” the jeddak threatened with a frown.
“You don’t have to wait ten days, Salensus Oll,” boasted Thurid. Then suddenly turning to me and pointing my finger at him, he continued passionately, “There’s John Carter, Prince of Helium!”
“Crazy!” howl Salensus Oll. “Crazy! John Carter is Caucasian. That man is as yellow as I am. John Carter is beardless – Matai Shang has described him to me. This prisoner’s beard and mustache are as long and thick as any ocher. a black fool who wants to get out of his spirit by skiing a lousy spoil on your ruler! ”
“Stop!” cried Thurid and ran to him. Before I could guess what he was going to do, he had grabbed my beard and tore the deceptive act from my face and head so that my smooth toasted skin and short-cut black hair were exposed.
Salensus There was a horny noise in Olli’s reception hall. The soldiers rushed with their swords bare toward me, fearing that I was planning to murder a Jeddak jeddak, and others crowded from behind curiously trying to see a man whose name was familiar from pole to pole.
As it became clear who I was, I saw Dejah Thoris jumping to stand as the amazement reflected on his face. Through the crowd and between the soldiers, he cleared his way before anyone was arresting him. Just a moment, and he was in front of me with his arms outstretched and his eyes threatening with love.
“John Carter! John Carter!” he hockey as I wrapped my arms around him and pressed him against my chest. Then it suddenly became clear to me why he had weaned me in the park at the foot of the tower.
How silly I had been! I had expected him to know me despite the Marentina barber’s surprisingly good disguise. He hadn’t known me, that’s all. And when he saw the stranger make him a sign of love, he was hurt and offended with full cause. I must have been a fool.
“And it’s you,” exclaimed my princess, “you spoke to me from the tower! How could I have known that my beloved Virginia was hiding behind that horrible beard and yellow skin?”
It had been his custom to use the caress name “my Virginia” for me, for he knew that I liked the chord of this beautiful name, which his lovely lips made even a thousand times more beautiful and sacred. Now that, after many long years, I heard it again, my gaze was blurred with tears and my voice was blocked by the movement of the mind.
It was only for a moment that I was able to squeeze my loved ones against my chest before Salensus Oll had trembled with rage and jealousy at the soldiers out of his way and got to us.
“Capture the man!” he screamed and hundreds of ruthless hands ripped us away.
Fortunately, John Carter had been stripped of his weapons by the chiefs of Okari Court. Now a dozen of them made me feel how heavy my fist attacks were, and I had already gotten to the halfway to the throne where Salensus Oll had taken Dejah Thoris before they got me arrested.
I then oppressed, fighting half a hundred soldiers. But before they knocked me unconscious, I heard words from the lips of Dejah Thoris that made my suffering feel light.
Standing next to a large tyrant holding him tightly by the arm, he pointed to where I alone was taking such a crushing superiority.
“Do you think, Salensus Oll,” he burst forth to speak, “that the wife of such a man could ever destroy his memory by marrying some inferior mortal, even if he had died a thousand times? a man who, out of love for a woman, would be able to fight back and forth from one end of the belligerent world to another, surviving ferocious beasts and wild hordes of war?
“- I, Dejah Thoris, Helium Princess, I am his, he was fighting for my sake and won me If you are a brave man, so honored for his valor and you do not kill him Make him a slave, if thou be willing, Salensus Oll, but save his life I prefer…! I would like to be a slave with someone like her as the queen of Okari. ”
“Neither the slave nor the queen dictates orders to Salensus Ol,” replied the Jeddak Jeddak. “John Carter dies naturally in the Vault of Abundance, and on the day of his death, Dejah Thoris becomes my queen.”
I didn’t hear my princess’s answer, because that’s when I got a blow to my head that made me unconscious, and when I came back to my senses, there were only a handful of security soldiers in the reception hall. When I opened my eyes, they stabbed me with the tips of their swords and told me to get up.
Then they took me down long corridors to the courtyard far away in the center of the palace.
There was a deep well in the middle of the yard and half a dozen more soldiers waiting at the edge of it waiting for me. One of them had a long string in his hand, which he began to clear as we approached.
When we had come fifteen feet from these men, I suddenly felt a strange stinging sensation in my finger.
At first I was puzzled and unable to explain the reason for it, but then I remembered one thing I had completely forgotten about in the exciting adventures – the gift ring of the Prince of Talu, Marentina.
I immediately looked at the group in front of us and at the same time raised my left hand to my forehead for the person looking for the ring to see it. At the same time, one of the waiting soldiers also raised his left hand to sweep black hair from his forehead, and he had a duplicate of my own ring on his finger.
We quickly exchanged a gaze showing mutual understanding. After that, I turned my gaze from the soldier and I no longer glanced at him so as not to arouse suspicion in the Okari people.
When we reached the edge of the well I saw that it was very deep. And I soon realized that soon I would be able to judge in more detail how deep below the surface of the yard it reached, for the man holding the rope wrapped it around my head, fastening it so that it could be detached from above at any time. Then all the soldiers grabbed the rope, and the former of them pushed me so that I descended into the gaping abyss.
The string was left loose so I could well fall from the edge of the well. When it had tightened after the first jerk, I was counted down quickly but steadily. Just before the push, there were a couple, three soldiers involved in tying the rope around me, one of whom had approached his mouth right next to my cheek and the blink of an eye before I was pushed into a horrible hole whispering a single word in my ear: “Courage!”
I had imagined the well to be bottomless in my imagination, but it wasn’t thirty feet deeper. But when the walls were shiny smooth, it was as good as if the depth had been three hundred meters. I couldn’t even hope to survive there without outside help.
I got to be in the dark all day. Then my strange booth was suddenly illuminated stunningly bright. I was, of course, hungry and thirsty at the time, for I had not tasted food or drink since I had been imprisoned the day before. To my surprise, the walls of the cave, which I had thought were smooth, had rows of shelves, and the shelves had delicious food and drinks, the best Okar could offer. Exclaiming with joy, I hurried to take in the welcome food, but before I had time to grab it, the light went out, and though I then groped around the booth, my fingers met nothing but a hard, smooth wall like I had noticed when I first examined it.
Now hunger and thirst immediately became painful. In the past, I had only mildly felt the need for food and drink, but now I was in dire need of a lack of them, all due to the fact that I had seen food so teasingly close, almost at hand. Again, I am surrounded by silent darkness. The silence was interrupted only by a short mocking laugh.
Again, one day passed and nothing broke the monotony of my imprisonment and relieved the pain of hunger and thirst. Gradually the pain diluted as suffering numbed the abdominal nerves. Then the chamber flashed bright again, and in front of me was a series of new, tempting dishes, clear water, and refreshing wines in large bottles with water beads condensed on the cold surface.
Fiercely like a starving wild beast, I rushed to repeat to seduce the seductive food. But as last time the fire went out and I bumped against a hard wall.
The mocking laughter echoed again.
The vault of abundance!
How cruel it had been for the man who had invented this diabolical clever way of doing things! The same trick was repeated every day until I was on the verge of insanity. But just as I had done in the prison cave of the warhoons, I still restrained my thoughts and forced my mind to stay on healthy tracks.
Only by exerting my will could I keep my soul life on the verge of collapse kept in balance. And it worked for me to such an extent that when my booth once again turned bright, I sat quietly in my seat and indifferently watched the steaming and tempting food almost at my fingertips. So I was glad I did, because that gave me the opportunity to solve the riddle of these disappearing festive meals.
When I didn’t shy away from reaching for food, my bullies left the light on, hoping I wouldn’t end up abstaining, but would give them the same pleasure as I had in the past with my futile efforts. As I sat looking at the luxurious shelves, I soon realized how the lynching was done, and it was so simple that I wondered how I could have not noticed it until then. The walls of my prison were made of clear glass – behind the glass were arousing food.
It wasn’t until almost a full hour later that the light went out, but this time there was no mocking laughter – at least not the tease on my lips. But I, to pay them the same amount, let out a silent laugh that no one might regard as a mixed giggle.
It took nine days. I was very weak from hunger and thirst, but I had no more pain – I had ignored them. Then a small hat dropped from the top of the darkness next to me on the floor.
I sipped it indifferently, thinking it was just some new plot of my guards to increase my suffering.
I finally found it. It was a small, paper-covered wrap at the end of a strong, thin thread. When I opened it, a few cubes fell from it to the floor. I collected them in my hands and tasted them. They were tablets made from concentrated nutrients that are quite common throughout Barsoom.
– Poison! – I thought.
Well, what about that? Why not end my suffering right now rather than live some miserable days in this dark vault? Slowly I took one little cube to my lips.
“Goodbye, Dejah Thoris!” I sighed. “I’ve lived over thee, and have fought for you, and now fills the second dearest wish, I may die for your sake.” I took the cube in my mouth and ate it.
I ate them one after another, and I have never tasted any better than these little food crumbs, in which I certainly thought the latent, perhaps horrible, painful death of the germ of death.
As I sat quietly on my booth on the floor, waiting for me to finish, my fingers accidentally hit the paper on which the cubes had been wrapped. I jumped it quietly in my hands as my thoughts wandered into the past, for before my death I wanted to relive in my mind some of the joyful moments of my long and happy life. Suddenly I felt strange bumps on the smooth surface of the parchment-like strip in my hand.
At first, I didn’t care very much about them – I just wondered a little bit what they might be due to. But then I felt like they had a certain shape, and I soon realized they were all lined up like writing.
Now I felt them more carefully. There were four distinct groups in the elevations. Were they possibly four words that wanted to give me some information?
The more I thought about it, the more I became passionate until my fingers hugged violently the piece of paper, feeling the small, enigmatic bumps and recesses in it.
But I didn’t get clear from them, and I finally realized that it was my haste that prevented me from solving their riddle. Then I approached them more slowly. Over and over again, I felt the first group with my index finger.
Martian writing is relatively difficult for an inhabitant of Earth to read — it is some kind of intermediate form between shorthand and pictography, and its language is completely different from the spoken language of Mars. There is only one colloquial language in Barsoom. It is spoken by all races and peoples today as well as in the early days of Barsoom humanity. It has evolved as knowledge and scientific advances have evolved, but it is so natural that the new words needed to announce new ideas and describe new conditions and inventions are self-evident — something for which a new word is needed could not be clarified by any word other than that which is self-evident. , than the compulsion of nature, arises for it. No matter how far races and peoples live, their colloquial language is therefore the same.
But that is not the case with written language. No nation’s written language is ever similar to any other, and a language written in cities is often used that differs greatly from the language used in other areas of the same nation.
If the characters on the piece of paper were words, then, I was puzzled for a while, unable to interpret them. But I finally got clear from the first one.
It was, “Courage!” and written in Marentine letters.
That was exactly the word the yellow guard had whispered in my ear as I stood on the edge of the Vault of Abundance.
This message had to come from him, and he was a friend, I knew that.
With awakened hopes, I tried my best to get the rest of the message interpreted, and finally my efforts succeeded – I read all four words:
“Courage! Walk down the line!”