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Volume 2205
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Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter®of Mars
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05


 

5. "SENTENCE OF DOOM" -- Jan. 4, '42

P1: "Tal Hajus must sentence the Earthman for his crime," Tars Tarkas speaks. The princess, Dejah Thoris, smiles sadly. "Thou art very brave to defend me, John Carter, but now I am afraid for thee." 

P2: Sola watches -- Sola who taught John Carter the Martian tongue. Beside her is Woola, his watchdog. Now they see the guards at the palace gates tie the earthman's hands behind him. 

P3: [Tars Tarkas reports to Tal Hajus] "O mighty Tal Hajus, I bring thee two captives -- a princess of Helium and the man from Earth who today has slain Azad, the high chieftain for the sake of this girl." 

P4: "Fasten that trouble maker to the wall and then take thy men away, Tars Tarkas. I would speak with the princess ALONE!" 

P5: "Goodbye, John Carter," breathes the girl. "Our friendship has passed like a comet in flight." -- "Courage!" whispers the Earthman. 

P6: As he turned the key that shackled the Earthman to the wall, Tars Tarkas had bent low and whispered strange words: "I'm sorry you must die, John Carter -- you're the only man on Barsoom I ever liked." 

P7: "And now my princess, only I and the doomed Earthman and these cold, deaf walls will hear thy screams as thy heart tastes the hatred I hold for all thy race!" [Growled Tal Hajus as he picked up the princess] 
 

Notes:

1. Compare the above narration to what was printed in issue #34 of The Funnies: Soon the caravan comes in sight of Thark -- the green Martians' capital city, ruled by the mighty Tal Hajus. -- Tars Tarkas brings John Carter and Dejah Thoris to the courtroom of Tal Hajus. -- ("Your Majesty, I bring two captives, a princess of Helium and a man from Earth.") ("Take him away... but leave the red princess. I'll torture her to death now, in person!") -- Tars Tarkas is taking John Carter to the dungeons where he will await death on the morrow -- ("I'm sorry you must die, John Carter -- you're the only man on Barsoom I've ever liked.") ("There's only one way now, Tars Tarkas, to show your friendship!") -- Without another word, Tars tarkas turns and walks away -- leaving John Carter a free man in the dangerous city of Thark! ... 

2. The scene in the comicbook, where Tars Tarks frees Carter, does not fit well with the rest of the story and must be eliminated in the novelization. Perhaps the narrator can have Tars Tarkas almost allow Carter to go free, but then re-think that potential act of treason, and have Carter chained to the wall, as in the Sunday strip version of the story. At any rate in ERB's story, the freeing of Carter was done by Lorquas Ptomel at Korad, not by Tars Tarkas at Thark. Following their subsequent arrival at Thark, Carter and the princess are separated, and only in chp. 17 of A Princess of Mars does Carter secretly enter the palace of Jeddak Tal Hajus and find him interrogating Dejah Thoris and Sola in this throne room. These differences need to be reconciled in the novelization. 

3. In issue #34 of The Funnies, John Carter "scales the palace wall" and sees Tal Hajus raising a knife over a captive Dejah Thoris, saying "Here is Tal Hajus' message of death to all your cursed race, my princess!" In ERB's more graphic telling of the encounter, he has the green leader say: "But before the torture you shall be mine for one short hour... Tomorrow the torture will commence; tonight thou art Tal Hajus'; come!" In The Funnies, version, Carter swings down upon the throne room on a rope, subdues the green Jeddak, swordfights his guards, and thus rescues Dejah Thoris. In issue #35 he and the princess escape with Sola, upon thoats which she has brought for them. This follows, more or less, ERB's original telling of the story. But in the Sunday strip #6, Carter actually slays Tal Hajus before the couple escape from Thark.


 
 

CHAPTER  5: "SENTENCE OF DOOM"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst

The inclinations and motivations of the green men of Mars pass all human logic. Had it been not for the chance happening of some fighting breaking out at the other end of the plaza, the comrades of the dead Sojat Azad might have delighted themselves in tearing John Carter apart, bone by bone, then and there. But the uproar of a conflict between warriors is irresistibly attractive to the giant barbarians. The better part of the crowd turned their attention to the new brawl and no Thark who remained nearby interfered with the Earthman on the podium. Even Tars Tarkas sauntered off to investigate the new commotion, leaving the human captives practically unrestrained. Only a handful of disinterested guards continued to watch the two smaller beings. 

"I witnessed the destruction of your airships," said John Carter as he offered a piece of cloth to staunch the flow of blood from her nostrils. "It was a contemptible ambush upon peaceful visitors and am sorry to have watched it. When I saw him strike you I could stand no more." 

The red maiden rose to her feet, straightened her disheveled hair and wiped the remainder of the blood from her face. Then Dejah Thoris eyed the stranger intently. 

"Why did you do it?" she asked. "You ignored my signal when first I saw you! And now you risk your life and kill one of your companions for reasons I cannot understand. What strange manner of man are you, who lives among the green barbarians and wears their vile insignia? Your form is that of my race, while your color is pallid and your speech is as inapt as that of a hatchling. Tell me, are you human, or are you -- are you something else?" 

"It is a strange tale," Captain Carter replied. "I can hardly believe it myself. But know that I would be your friend, and your servant if you will allow that. We are both held here against our wills and it seems that will continue for a while at least." 

"So you are also their prisoner, even though you bear arms and the regalia of a Tharkian warrior? What is your name? Where your country?" 

"My name is John Carter, and I claim Virginia as my home. Whether you can believe it or not, I come from that blue star which shines brightly even after sunrise. Why I am permitted to carry the weapons of the Thark I killed a few days ago I do not know. But the leader of these giants has extended me unusual trust and also what passes here for friendship." 

Their conversation was interrupted by one of the guards who had overheard what they were saying. With a few grunts he indicated that the dead one's arms, accouterments and ornaments now belonged to John Carter. A young Thark female stripped him, bundled the belongings and then dragged away the lifeless body, leaving a trail of his blood behind her. A few yards away Sola sat with John Carter's calot watching. The Earthman half smiled when he caught a few of her thoughts. She was already calculating how to trim down Sojat Azad's harness to human size. 

The two humans noticed that Tars Tarkas had returned. His eyes rested upon them in a most quizzical manner. Finally he addressed the Earthman. 

"I see you have found one of your own size with whom you can speak the tongue of Barsoom. The red women are talkative. She almost had me convinced that we should help them make new air and water. Hah! Let her carry her pleas to Tal Hajus herself!

"You have just slain our youngest chieftain," he continued. "We must offer an account of your actions to my master, Jed Lorquas Ptomel, and if he wills it, also an account to his master, Jeddak Tal Hajus. In the meanwhile, Dotar Sojat, you have made yourself a chieftain among the Thark. Chieftains protect their retinues and the horde." Then, glancing at Dejah Thoris, he added, "and it seems you have just added one more to your retinue!" 

The required interview with Lorquas Ptomel, Jed among the Tharks of Barsoom, produced no change in their situation. Tars Tarkas made preparations to transfer the two captives to the far off city of Thark, where Tal Hajus would determine their ultimate lot. Before the journey commenced John Carter asserted his new authority and assigned Sola to watch over Dejah Thoris. His repeated acts of kindness in her behalf had won him Sola's loyality, while behavior modled by the red princess taught the green girl what it meant to be a friend. 

After Tars Tarkas and his company arrived at the ancient metropolis of Thark the green man came close, on several occasions, to freeing John Carter entirely. It has become obvious to the giant warrior that the Earthman would find a way to escape, sooner or later, and when that day came the captor's life would be worth no more than his former captive's. But the Thark's sense of loyality to his Jeddak prevailed and he eventually conducted the humans to the audience chamber of Tal Hajus, Jeddak of all the Thark hordes. And so Dejah Thoris, Princess of Helium, and John Carter, gentleman of Virginia, followed by the faithful Woola, passed into the palace and throne room, ready to learn their fate. 

"O mighty Tal Hajus," began Tars Tarkas, after the traditional tokens of subjection had been rendered, "I present to you these two little captives -- a princess of Helium who begs a treaty with Thark and a man of some similar race who slew the chieftain Sojat Azad, in personal combat, for the sake of this girl." 

The floor of the throne room was thronged with green chieftains, but upon seeing the princess Tal Hajus dismissed them all with a wave of his hand. 

"Leave us, Tars Tarkas. Take the strange man and his calot away. I will see to his judgment later. If Helium seeks intercourse and alliance with the green men, I will consumate it here, after I speak with this princess -- alone!"

The one who issued these commands was the most hideous beast the red girl had ever put her eyes upon. He had all the cruel, terrible features of the green warriors, but accentuated by signs of animal passions exceeding those of the usual Thark. His great protruding eyes gloated upon the lines of her beautiful figure as his dissolute mind ejaculated forth a stream of insults and lewd insinuations. 

"Princess of Helium, eh? Know you not that treaties among our hordes last only so long as a single battle campaign? Know you not that in our alliances the jeds exchange their long-swords, their necklaces, and their females? Oh yes, I will give you a treaty, Princess of Helium -- a treaty with ten days of pleasure to show you all the love I harbor for your race. Is your heart big enough to accommodate my great passion? I shall see. If not, word of that fact shall go forth to Tardos Mors, that he may grovel upon the ground in the agony of his sorrow. Open a place within your heart now to contain what I have to implant there and I will hold back my more blistering passion until tomorrow. Disappoint me and my torture of your red race will commence tonight. Either way, thou art Tal Hajus'; come join me in my furs and silks, wench!"


 
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