I am a very old man. How old I do not know. It is possible I am a hundred,
maybe more. I cannot tell because I have never aged as other men do so far as
I can remember, I have always been a man of about thirty. I appear today as I
did forty years ago. Yet, I feel that I cannot go on living forever. Someday I will
die the real death from which there is no escape. I do not know why I should fear
death. I who have died two times and am still alive, I have never told this story. I
know the human mind will not believe what it cannot understand. I cannot
explain what happened to me. I can only tell of the ten years my dead body lay
undiscovered in an Arizona cave.
My name is John Carter. I am from the state of Virginia. At the close of
the Civil War I found myself without a home, without money and without work. I
decided the best plan was to search for gold in the great deserts of the American
South west. I spent almost a year searching for gold with another former soldier,
Captain James Powell, also of Virginia. We were extremely lucky. In the winter
of eighteen sixty-five we found rocks that held gold. Powell was trained as a
mining engineer. He said we had uncovered over a million dollars worth of gold
in only three months. But the work was slow with only two men and not much
equipment. So we decided Powell should go to the nearest settlement to seek
equipment and men to help us with the work. On March third, eighteen sixty-six,
Powell said good-bye. He rode his horse down the mountain toward the valley. I
followed his progress for several hours.
The morning Powell left was like all mornings in the deserts of the great
Southwest -- clear and beautiful. Not much later I looked across the valley. I was
surprised to see three riders in the same place where I had last seen my friend.
After watching for some time, I decided the three riders must be hostile Indians.
Powell, I knew, was well armed and an experienced soldier. But I knew he would
need my aid.
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