FOREWORD Twelve years had passed since I had laid the body of my great-uncle, Captain John Carter, of Virginia, away from the sight of men in that strange mausoleum in the old cemetery at Richmond. Often...
Twelve years had passed since I had laid the body of my great-uncle,
Captain John Carter, of Virginia, away from the sight of men in that
strange mausoleum in the old cemetery at Richmond.
Often had I pondered on the odd instructions he had left me governing
the construction of his mighty tomb, and especially those parts which
directed that he be laid in an OPEN casket and that the ponderous
mechanism which controlled the bolts of the vault's huge door be
accessible ONLY FROM THE INSIDE.
Twelve years had passed since I had read the remarkable manuscript of
this remarkable man; this man who remembered no childhood and who
not even offer a vague guess as to his age; who was always young and
yet who had dandled my grandfather's great-grandfather upon his knee;
this man who had spent ten years upon the planet Mars; who had fought
for the green men of Barsoom and fought against them; who had fought
for and against the red men and who had won the ever beautiful Dejah
Thoris, Princess of Helium, for his wife, and for nearly ten years had
been a prince of the house of Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium.
Twelve years had passed since his body had been found upon the bluff
before his cottage overlooking the Hudson, and oft-times during these
long years I had wondered if John Carter were really dead, or if he
again roamed the dead sea bottoms of that dying planet; if he had
returned to Barsoom to find that he had opened the frowning portals of
the mighty atmosphere plant in time to save the countless millions who
were dying of asphyxiation on that far-gone day that had seen him
hurtled ruthlessly through forty-eight million miles of space back to
Earth once more. I had wondered if he had found his black-haired
Princess and the slender son he had dreamed was with her in the royal
gardens of Tardos Mors, awaiting his return.
Or, had he found that he had been too late, and thus gone back to a
living death upon a dead world? Or was he really dead after all,
to return either to his mother Earth or his beloved Mars?
Thus was I lost in useless speculation one sultry August evening when
The Gods of Mars
old Ben, my body servant, handed me a telegram. Tearing it open I
'Meet me to-morrow hotel Raleigh Richmond.
Early the next morning I took the first train for Richmond and within
two hours was being ushered into the room occupied by John Carter.
As I entered he rose to greet me, his old-time cordial smile of
lighting his handsome face. Apparently he had not aged a minute, but
was still the straight, clean-limbed fighting-man of thirty. His keen
grey eyes were undimmed, and the only lines upon his face were the
lines of iron character and determination that always had been there
since first I remembered him, nearly thirty-five years before.
'Well, nephew,' he greeted me, 'do you feel as though you were seeing
ghost, or suffering from the effects of too many of Uncle Ben's
'Juleps, I reckon,' I replied, 'for I certainly feel mighty good; but
maybe it's just the sight of you again that affects me. You have been
back to Mars? Tell me. And Dejah Thoris? You found her well and
'Yes, I have been to Barsoom again, and--but it's a long story, too
long to tell in the limited time I have before I must return. I have
learned the secret, nephew, and I may traverse the trackless void at
will, coming and going between the countless planets as I list; but my
heart is always in Barsoom, and while it is there in the keeping of my
Martian Princess, I doubt that I shall ever again leave the dying
that is my life.
'I have come now because my affection for you prompted me to see you
once more before you pass over for ever into that other life that I
shall never know, and which though I have died thrice and shall die
again to-night, as you know death, I am as unable to fathom as are
'Even the wise and mysterious therns of Barsoom, that ancient cult
which for countless ages has been credited with holding the secret of
life and death in their impregnable fastnesses upon the hither slopes
of the Mountains of Otz, are as ignorant as we. I have proved it,
though I near lost my life in the doing of it; but you shall read it
all in the notes I have been making during the last three months that