CHAPTER 27: "TREACHERY"
Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst
John Carter saw the logic in Vovo's explanation of things.
If he could help bring the princess back to her normal self, the Earthman
was ready to try the experiment. However, a Virginia gentleman do not barge
into a lady's private chambers unannounced and uninvited. His first mental
efforts were merely an attempt to make his presence known to her.
The night wore on and he seemed to be making little progress.
Dejah Thoris slept, undisturbed by Vovo's injections of dehydration nourishment.
If she sensed the Earthman's attempt at telepathy she gave no indication
of it. Then John Carter tried Vovo's second suggestion -- he made his mind
a blank and listened mentally for her thought-words.
Neither Her Majesty Dejah Thoris nor Captain John Carter
have ever divulged all that happened on that mid summer's night in Vovo's
laboratory. No doubt their experience was a deeply personal and private
one. Still, some description of the events of that night can now be given
to the reader.
The Earthman was surprised at what came to him. The thoughts
of the princess were more or less a fair reflection of what had been going
on in Vovo's lab. She was aware that she was being revived from her earlier
stony mumification. What was less clear was whether or not she sensed Captain
Carter's presence at all. Finally a clear message took shape within his
"John? Are you here? You must be far away!"
"Dejah Thoris!" his mentality answered back. "Yes, my
princess. I am standing here beside you. Open your eyes and you shall see
"This is so strange, John, I open my eyes but all I see
is myself sleeping. Where are you, my chieftain?"
John Carter could hold back no longer. The Princess Dejah
Thoris, whose body had turned to stone, was at last revived. Now the Virginian
took the maiden into his arms and lifted her head from the cold slab. Her
eyes began to open but at first they did not focus upon the tall swordsman.
"My -- my throat is so dry," were her first words.
"Oh! I have been a bad host, have I not?" interjected
the wizard. "Oman, put away your weapon and bring my finest wine. This
is a time for celebration!"
Captain Carter supported the weakened girl as her feet
touched the floor. She was barely able to stand and her arms grasped his
neck in a feeble embrace.
"You must see me now!" cried the Earthman.
"Yes, I see you, John. But why are your eyes closed?"
she answered, still in a daze.
The wine seemed to revive her senses. It was the first
thing wet to pass through the man's lips in hours and he too felt invigorated
by the heady Martian vintage. The couple did not notice that Vovo left
his cup untouched. And, of course, Oman merely served the beverage, he
had no tongue with which to taste such refreshment.
"You have performed a great wonder," said John Carter.
"I shall bear witness to your genius and to the great debt the red men
owe you. But you promised our safe release and now it is time for us to
depart Eo. Tell your minions to allow our safe passage from this place."
"John -- Dotar Sojat, I am not so sure this little man
has truly finished his work," the girl warned. "Something is very wrong
"He shall finish it, my princess. This sword remains unsheathed
until his promises are fulfilled," exclaimed the Earthman. At the same
time he again nudged the green wizard with the keen tip of the Orovarian
Outside the laboratory, the couple saw a group of Vovo's
mechanical robots silently watching the passing of their master. Now their
eyes were no longer glazed and motionless. Each robot stared at them, as
if ready to pounce, given the slightest signal from the Wizard of Eo.
The Earthman made Vovo call for the mechanical thoat.
However, when it arrived and the window was opened to admit the flying
device, John Carter realized that the tower had again been retracted and
the window landing now stood at ground level. Nevertheless he forced Vovo
up onto the contraption and then made good use of his strong muscles in
vaulting the princess and himself into the saddle also.
"Make this thing fly!" he commanded.
"First we must direct it to an open space." John Carter
heard the wizard say. "The vegetation and buildings here are too densely
packed to allow for a proper ascent."
It was still night on Mars and neither of its hurtling
moons had yet dropped over the horizon. For the first time the Earthman
noticed how grotesque and nightmarish the city of Eo looked. Every building
and feature had the appearance of an evil madness -- above every doorway
and window was a leering stone likeness of the wizard.
Down a lonely narrow alley the mechanical beast moved,
increasing its speed at John Carter's insistance and Vovo's order.
"Where is Sola?" asked the unperceiving girl. "Is she
here in this place with us? What became of the giant bird. Everything is
so hazy in my mind."
"The princess desires to join her friend and then we all
shall proceed to Helium," Captain Carter informed the wizard. Then he listened
for an answer.
"I fear your plan has a few kinks in it. The flying device
cannot carry so many as you desire. See how much trouble it is having getting
off the ground now, with only three passengers? Add a Thark and a calot
to the load and you will never reach Helium. Nor can you pilot the flying
device without much training. As for walkimg from here to Helium, chances
are you'll never make it."
These words were hardly spoken when Carter saw the wizard
push a button on the saddle. The mount suddenly collapsed, hurling its
riders onto the red sward that bordered the pathway. Before they could
rise they were enveloped by an armed squad of Vovo's mechanical men!