D) Ur Jan, Chief of the Assassins Guild of
Ur Jan is a bit of an enigma, since at the beginning of Swords of Mars
he is the main enemy of John Carter, whereas by the end he has sworn allegiance
to the Warlord and placed his sword at his feet. We first meet him at his
headquarters which John Carter, as Vandor the Panthan, has surreptitiously
infiltrated by landing his flier on the roof and sneaking inside. He explores
corridors until he hears the sound of voices:
“I knew that I was dealing with killers,
expert swordsmen all; and I did not try to deceive myself into believing
that I would be any match for a dozen or more of them.
He enters a room where the sound of voices is loudest and discovers that
they are coming from the room adjoining the small anteroom he has just
entered. It contains a table, benches, and an old-fashioned cupboard. He
places his ear against the door to the main room in an effort to overhear
what is going on, but he can’t make anything out. Then he hears footsteps
approaching. He hides behind the cupboard, which is at such an angle against
the wall that he can see the door through a slim crack.
“However, men who live by the sword are not unaccustomed
to taking chances, sometimes far more desperate chances than their mission
may seem to warrant.
“Perhaps such was the case now, but I had come
to Zodanga to learn what I could about the guild of assassins headed by
the notorious Ur Jan; and now that fortune had placed me in a position
where I might gain a great deal of useful information, I had no thought
of retreating because a little danger confronted me.” (SM/3.)
“Nor was I a moment to soon. The men
in the corridor turned into the room almost immediately, so soon, in fact,
that it seemed to me that they must have seen me; but evidently they had
not, for they crossed directly to the door to the inner chamber, which
one of them threw open.
The companion is, of course, Rapas the Ulsio, come to sell out John Carter
and Fal Silvas. Rapas wants to become a member of the guild and calls Ur
Jan the greatest man on Barsoom:
“From my hiding place I could see this man plainly
and also into the room beyond, while the shadow of the cupboard hid me
“What I saw beyond that door gave me something
to think about. There was a large room in the center of which was a great
table, around which were seated at least fifty men – fifty of the toughest-looking
customers that I have ever seen gathered together. At the head of the table
was a huge man whom I knew at once to be Ur Jan. He was a very large man,
but well proportioned; and I could tell at a glance that he must be a most
“The man who had thrown open the door I could
see also, but I could not see his companion or companions as they were
hidden from me by the cupboard.
“Ur Jan had looked up as the door opened. ‘What
now?’ he demanded. ‘Who have you with you?’ and then, ‘Oh, I recognize
“‘He has a message for you, Ur Jan,’ said the
man at the door. ‘He said it was most urgent message, or I would not have
brought him here.’
“‘Let him come in,’ said Ur Jan. ‘We will see
what he wants, and you return to your post.’
“‘Go on in,’ said the man, turning to his companion
behind him, ‘and pray to your first ancestor that your message interests
Ur Jan; as otherwise you will not come out of that room again on your own
“All men are susceptible to flattery,
and oftentimes the more ignorant they are, the more susceptible. Ur Jan
was no exception. One could almost see him preening himself. He squared
his great shoulders and threw out his chest.
Uldak and Rapas leave and Carter thinks he will have to wait until the
meeting is over since the door is still open; if he leaves the assassins
with see him. Fortunately, Ur Jan has someone else close the door and Carter
escapes so he can duel with Uldak. He kills Uldak and then kills the next
assassin sent after him, Povak. He avoids two more assassins sent to kill
him and visits the guild once again. This time, he decides to forget about
going inside and hiding behind the cupboard, electing instead to hover
his flier overhead and lower himself by a line over the balcony outside
Ur Jan’s conference room:
“‘Well,’ he said in a milder voice, ‘we’ll think
it over. Perhaps we can use you, but first you will have to arrange it
so that we can dispose of this Vandor.’ He glances quickly around the table.
‘Do any of you men know him?’
“There was a chorus of denials – no one admitted
to knowing me.
“‘I can point him out to you,’ said Rapas the
Ulsio. ‘I can point him out this very night.’
“‘What makes you think so?’ asked Ur Jan.
“‘Because I have an engagement to meet him later
on at an eating-place that he frequents.’
“‘Not a bad idea,’ said Ur Jan. ‘At what time
is this meeting?’
“‘About half after the eighth zode,’ replied Rapas.
“Ur Jan glanced quickly around the table. ‘Uldak,’
he said, ‘you go with Rapas; and don’t return while this Vandor still lives.’”
“I brought my flier to rest at the edge
of roof directly above the room in which the assassins met; then I made
a rope fast to one of the rings in her gunwale.
Carter wonders what they are discussing and hears a rapping noise on a
door inside. He next hears a door opening and the sound of men entering
the conference room.
“Lying on my belly, I looked over the edge of
the roof to make sure of my position and found that I had gauged it to
a nicety. Directly below me was the edge of a balcony before a lighted
window. My rope hung slightly to one side of the window where it was not
visible to those within the room.
“Carefully I set the controls of my ship and then
tied the end of a light cord to the starting lever. These matters attended
to, I grasped the rope and slipped over the eaves of the roof, carrying
the light cord in one hand.
“I descended quietly, and as I had left my weapons
on my flier lest they clank against one another or scrape against the side
of the building as I descended and thus attract attention to me.
“Very cautiously I descended; and when I had come
opposite to the window, I found that I could reach out with one hand and
grasp the rail of the balcony. I drew myself slowly to it and into a position
where I could stand securely.
“Shortly after I had dropped below the edge of
the roof, I had heard voices; and now that I was close to the window, I
was delighted to discover that it was open and that I could hear quite
well nearly all that was going on within the room. I recognized Ur Jan’s
voice. He was speaking as I drew myself to the balcony.
“‘Even if we get him tonight,’ he said, ‘and he
is the man I think he is, we can still collect ransom from the girl’s father
“‘And it should be a fat ransom,’ said another
“All that a great ship will carry,’ replied Ur
Jan, ‘and with a promise of immunity for all the assassins of Zodanga and
their promise that they will not persecute us further.’” (SM/9.)
“‘Ah,’ exclaimed Ur Jan, clapping his
hands together. ‘You two got him tonight! Two of you were too many for
Fal Silvas demands to know if Vandor was suspicious, but Rapas assures
him that he was not. Rapas tells him not to worry for Vandor is going to
meet him again tomorrow night at the same place.
“‘We did not get him,’ replied a surly voice.
“‘What?’ demanded Ur Jan. ‘Did he not come to
the eating-place tonight?’
“‘He was there all right,’ said another voice,
which I recognized instantly as that of Rapas. ‘I had him there, as I promised.’
“‘Well, why didn’t you get him?’ demanded Ur Jan
“‘When he left the eating-place,’ explained one
of the other men, ‘we followed him immediately; but he had disappeared
when we reached the avenue. He was nowhere in sight; and though we walked
rapidly all the way to the house of Fal Silvas, we saw nothing of him.’”
“‘Listen,’ said Ur Jan; ‘you must not
fail me tomorrow. I am sure that this man is John Carter. After all, though,
I am glad that we did not kill him. I have just thought of a better plan.
I will send four of you tomorrow night to wait near the house of Fal Silvas.
I want you to take John Carter alive and bring him to me. With him alive,
we can collect two shiploads of treasure for his princess.’
Carter now has the big picture and determines that he will foil the plan
by returning immediately to Helium to protect his princess, but instead
he lingers on to hear the rest of the conversation.
“‘And then we will have to hide in the pits of
Zodanga all the rest of our lives,’ demurred one of the assassins.
“Ur Jan laughed. ‘After we collect the ransom,
John Carter will never bother us again,’ he said.
“‘You mean –’
“‘I am an assassin, am I not?’ demanded Ur Jan.
‘Do you think that an assassin will let a dangerous enemy live?’” (SM/9.)
“‘But,’ objected one of Ur Jan’s lieutenants,
‘even if you succeed in getting Dejah Thoris – ’
Carter marvels over the details of the plan and decides that he cannot
afford to waste another minute.
“‘There is no “even” about it,’ snapped Ur Jan.
‘It is already as good as accomplished. I have been preparing for this
for a long time. I have done it very secretly so that there would be no
leak; but now that we are ready to strike, it makes no difference. I can
tell you that two of my men are guards in the palace of the princess, Dejah
“‘Well, granted that you can get her,’ objected
the former speaker skeptically, ‘where can you hide her? Where, upon all
Barsoom, can you hide the Princess of Helium from the great Tardos Mors,
even if you are successful in putting John Carter out of the way?’
“‘I shall not hide her on Barsoom,’ replied Ur
“‘What, not upon Barsoom? Where, then?’
“‘Thuria,’ replied Ur Jan.
“‘Thuria!’ the speaker laughed. ‘You will hide
her on the nearer moon. That is good, Ur Jan. That would be a splendid
hiding-place – if you could get here there.’
“‘I can get here there all right. I am not acquainted
with Gar Nal for nothing.’
“‘Oh, you mean that fool ship he is working on?
The one in which he expects to go visiting around among the planets? You
don’t think that thing will work, even after he gets it finished, do you
– if he ever does get it finished?’
“‘It is finished,’ replied Ur Jan, ‘and it will
fly to Thuria.’
“‘Well, even if it will, we do not know how to
“‘Gar Nal will run it for us. He needs a vast
amount of treasure to complete other boats, and for a share of the ransom
he has agreed to pilot the ship for us.’” (SM/9.)
“As I started to climb the rope and swung
away from the balcony, a part of my harness caught upon one of its iron
ornaments; and when I attempted to disengage it, the thing broke loose
and fell upon the balcony.
We don’t run into Ur Jan again until Carter, as Vandor, steals Fal Silvas’s
ship and follows him to Thuria, where they are all captured by the invisible
Tarids. Vandor finally meets Ur Jan when they are all dragged before the
Jeddak and Jeddara of the Tarids. In the meantime Vandor has learned the
Tarid language from Umka, the Cat-Man, and has learned to mentally break
“‘What was that?’ I heard Ur Jan’s voice demand,
and then I heard footsteps coming toward the window. They came fast, and
an instant later the figure of Ur Jan loomed before me.
“‘A spy,’ he yelled, and leaped onto the balcony.
“Were I prone to seek excuses of myself to explain the causes of misfortunes
which overtake me, I might, at that moment, have inquired why Fate should
throw her weight in favor of evildoers and against me. My cause was, unquestionably,
a cause of righteousness, yet the trifling fact that an iron ornament upon
a balcony in the city of Zodanga had been loose and that my harness had
accidentally caught upon it had placed me in a situation from which it
seemed likely that I could not escape with my life.’
“However, I was not dead yet; and I had no intention
of resigning myself to the dictates of an unkind and unjust Fate without
a struggle. Furthermore, in the idiom of a famous American game, I had
an ace in the hole.
“As Ur Jan clambered out onto the balcony, I had
swung away from it, clinging to the rope attached to my flier above; and,
at the same time, I started to climb.
“Like a pendulum I swung; and, having reached
the end of my arc, I swung back again, seemingly directly into the arms
of Ur Jan.
“It all happened very quickly, much more quickly
than I can tell it. Ur Jan laid hold of the hilt of his sword; I drew my
knees well up against my body; I swung toward him; then, as I was almost
upon him, I kicked him with both feet full in the chest and with all my
“Ur Jan swaggered back against another of the
assassins who was following him onto the balcony, and they both went down
in a heap.
“Simultaneously, I pulled on the light cord that
I had attached to the starting lever of my motor. In response, the ship
rose; and I rose with it, dangling at the end of my rope.
“My situation was anything but an enviable one.
I could not, of course, guide the ship; and if it failed to rise rapidly
enough, I stood an excellent chance of being dashed to death against some
building as I was dragged across the city; but even this menace was by
no means the greatest which threatened me, for now I heard a shot, and
a bullet whirred past me – that assassins were attempting to shoot me down.
“I climbed as rapidly as I could toward my flier;
but climbing a small rope, while swinging beneath a rising airship, is
not an enviable situation, even without the added hazard of being fired
at by a band of assassins.
“The ship carried me diagonally across the avenue
upon which stood the building that harbored Ur Jan’s band. I thought surely
that I must hit the eaves of the opposite building; and, believe me, I
put every ounce of my strength and agility into climbing that rope, as
I swung rapidly across the avenue.
“In this instance, however, Fate favored me; and
I skimmed just above the roof of the building.
“That assassins were still firing at me, but I
imagine that most of their hits in the past had been scored with daggers
or poison, for their pistol practice was execrable.
“At last my fingers closed over the gunwale of
my ship, and a moment later I had drawn myself to her deck. Reaching for
her controls, I opened the throttle wide and set her nose for Helium.”
through their telepathic suggestion so that he can see and hear them.
After exchanging words with his incomparable princess, Vandor turns his
attention to Ur Jan:
“Ur Jan’s expression revealed his surprise
when his eyes fell upon me. ‘You!’ he exclaimed.
Vandor’s attention is diverted by the Jeddak and Ozara, the Jeddara, who
is sexually stimulated by Vandor. As they talk about the captives among
themselves, Vandor turns to his companions from Barsoom:
“‘Yes, I, Ur Jan.’
“‘What are you doing here?’
“‘One of the pleasures of the trip I am to be
robbed of by our captors,’ I replied.
“‘What do you mean?’ he asked.
“‘The pleasure of killing you, Ur Jan,’ I replied.
“He nodded understandingly, with a wry smile.”
“‘Can any of you see and hear anything
that is going on in this room?’ I asked.
Then they are distracted because Ozara is convinced that Vandor can see
and hear them and several tests are performed that convince the Jeddak
that Ozara is imagining things as usual. They proceed with the hearing
and the Jeddak determines that his father, the Fire God, wants Umka and
four strange men in sacrifice but his father, the Fire God, has spared
the women and
“‘Except for ourselves, I can see no one and hear
no one,’ said Gar Nal, and the others answered similiarly.
“‘We are all the victims of a form of hypnosis,’
I explained, ‘which makes it impossible for us either to see or hear our
captors. By the exercise of the powers of your own minds you can free yourselves
from this condition. It is not difficult. I succeeded in doing it. If the
rest of you are also successful, our chances of escape will be much better,
if an opportunity for escape arises. Believing that they are invisible
to us, they will never be on their guard against us. As a matter of fact,
I could, this moment, snatch a sword from the fellow at my side and kill
the Jeddak and the Jeddara upon their thrones before anyone could prevent
“‘We cannot work together,’ said Gar Nal, ‘while
half of us have it in our hearts to kill the other half.’
“‘Let us call a truce on our own quarrels, then,’
I said, ‘until we have escaped from these people.’
“‘That is fair,’ said Gar Nal.
“‘Do you agree?’ I asked.
“‘Yes,’ he replied.
“‘And you, Ur Jan?’ I asked.
“‘It suits me,’ said the assassin of Zodanga.
“‘And you?’ demaned Gar Nal, looking at Jat Or.
“‘Whatever the – Vandor commands, I shall do,’
replied the padwar.
“Ur Jan bestowed a quick glance of a sudden comprehension
upon me. ‘Ah,’ he exclaimed; ‘so you are also Vandor. Now I understand
much that I did not understand before. Did that rat of a Rapas know?’
“I ignored his question. ‘And now,’ I said, ‘let
us raise our hands and swear to abide by this truce until we have all escaped
from the Tarids and, further, that each of us will do all in his power
to the save the others.’
“Gar Nal, Ur Jan, Jat Or, and I raised our hands
“‘The women, too.’ said Ur Jan; and then Dejah
Thoris and Zanda raised their hands, and thus we six swore to fight for
one another to the death until we should be free from these enemies.
“It was a strange situation, for I had been commissioned
to kill Gar Nal; and Ur Jan had sword to kill me, while I was intent on
killing them; and Zanda, who hated them both, was but awaiting the opportunity
to destroy me when she should learn my identity.” (SM/18.)
given them to his son.
He orders the men removed to the holding cell of the Turquoise Tower
and the women are consigned to the Tower of Diamonds. While in the Turquoise
Tower Vandor explains to everyone what had happened in the throne room
and that they have all been condemned as sacrifices to the Fire God.
“‘The Fire God?’ demanded Ur Jan. ‘Who
They go back and forth like this for quite some time and Vandor finally
has a chance to check out Gar Nal and Ur Jan in detail.
“‘The sun,’ I explained.
“‘But how could you understand that language?’
asked Gar Nal. ‘It cannot be possible that they speak the same tongue that
is spoken upon Barsoom.’
“‘No,’ I replied, ‘they do not; but Umka, with
whom I have been imprisoned ever since we were captured, has taught me
the language of the Tarids.’
“‘What are Tarids?’ asked Jat Or.
“‘It is the name of the people in whose power
we are,’ I explained.” (SM/19.)
“Ur Jan, whom of course I had seen before,
was just what one might have expected – a burly, brutal fighting man of
the lowest type; but of the two, I thought then that I should have trusted
Ur Jan farther than Gar Nal.
An opportunity soon arises when Ozara has Vandor shown to her quarters,
where she plans on seducing him to help her escape. He hatches a plan with
her and is soon returned to the holding cell:
“It seemed strange to me to be confined here in
such small quarters with two such bitter enemies; but I realized, as they
must have also, that it would profit us nothing to carry on our quarrel
under such circumstances, whereas if an opportunity to escape presented
itself, four men who could wield swords would have a very much better chance
to effect the liberty of all than if there were only two of us. There would
not have been more than two, had we dared to continue our quarrel; for
at least two of us, and possibly three, must have died in order to insure
“Jat Or voiced an exclamation of relief
when he saw me enter the room. ‘When they took you away, my prince, I thought
that I would never see you again; but now fate is growing kinder to me.
She has just given me two prooofs of her returning favor – I have you back
again, and when the door opened I saw the Tarids who returned with you.’
He has a long chat with Gar Nal about their spaceships. He informs Gar
Nal that Fal Silvas’s ship is still hovering a hundred feet above the Tarid
castle, but it has two Tarid warriors aboard.
“‘You could see them?’ I exclaimed.
“‘I could see them and hear them,’ he replied.
“‘And I, too,’ said Gar Nal.
“‘And how about you, Ur Jan?’ I asked, for the
more of us who could see them, the better chance we would have in the event
that there was any fighting during our attempt to rescue the women and
“Ur Jan shook his head gloomily. ‘I could see
nothing or hear nothing,’ he said.
“‘Don’t give up,’ I urged; ‘you must see them.
Persevere, and you shall see them.’” (SM/20.)
“Ur Jan was sitting on a bench, glaring
into space; and I knew that he was concentrating his stupid brain in effort
to cast off the hypnotic spell under which the Tarid’s had placed him.
Umka lay curled up on a rug, purring contentedly. Jat Or stood looking
out one of the windows.
To fully appreciate this scene, as I have stated many times before, the
reader must remember that everyone is naked on Barsoom and Thuria. (See,
“Nakedness on Mars,” ERBzine
#3177.) Thus, the first Tarid that Ur Jan could see was a beautiful,
a blue-haired, sexy, naked, slave girl bending over. No wonder Jat Or answered
Ur Jan’s exclamation with an ejaculation. Ozara has hidden files in the
earthen jar so that they can get rid of the iron bars that cover the windows.
They quickly go to work on the bars and soon they can remove them at any
time. Vandor concentrates his mind on the mechanical brain in Fal Silvas’s
spaceship and maneuvers it toward the Turquoise Tower:
“The door opened, and we all turned toward it.
I saw Ulah, the Jeddara's slave, bearing a large earthen jar of food. She
set it down upon the floor inside the door, and stepping back into the
corridor, closed and fastened the door after her.
“I walked quickly to the jar and picked it up;
and as I turned back toward the others, I saw Ur Jan standing wide-eyed
staring at the door.
“‘What’s the matter, Ur Jan?’ I asked. ‘You look
as though you had seen a ghost.’
“‘I saw her!’ he exclaimed. ‘I saw her. Ghost
or no ghost, I saw her.’
“‘Good!’ ejaculated Jat Or; ‘now we are all free
from that damnable spell.’
“‘Give me a good sword,’ growled Ur Jan, ‘and
we’ll soon be free of the castle, too.’
“‘We’ve got to get out of this room first,’ Gar
Nal reminded him.” (SM/20.)
“And then, across the sky I saw a great
black hulk moving slowly toward me out of the night.
Thus spake John Carter, the killer moralist. Of course, as we have seen
from his many adventures, sometimes the Warlord is willing to bend his
own rules. As the story progresses, Carter takes command of the ship and
lands it next to Gar Nal’s spaceship. Gar Nal will thus fly parallel to
Carter with their side doors open, allowing Gar Nal to cross into the room
and the three women to escape from the Tower of Diamonds. All is going
according to plan as Carter pilots his ship next to the window of the Tower
of Diamonds, which Ozara has marked with a red scarf.
“For just an instant the reaction left me weak;
but I soon regained control of myself and pulled aside the three bars that
we had cut.
“The others, who had evidently been watching the
window from where they either sat or stood, now pressed forward. I could
hear smothered exclamations of surprise, relief, elation. Turning quickly,
I cautioned them to silence.
“I directed the brain to bring the ship close
to the window; then I turned again to my companions.
“‘There are two Tarid warriors aboard her,’ I
said. ‘If they found the water and the food which she carried, they are
still alive; and there is no reason to believe that starving men would
not find it. We must therefore prepare ourselves for a fight. Each of these
men, no doubt, is armed with a long sword and a dagger. We are unarmed.
We shall have to overcome them with our bare hands.’
“I turned to Ur Jan. ‘When the door is opened,
two of us must leap into the cabin simultaneously on the chance that we
may take them by surprise. Will you go first with me, Ur Jan?’
“He nodded and a crooked smile twisted his lips.
‘Yes,’ he said, ‘and it will be a strange sight to see Ur Jan and John
Carter fighting side by side.’
“‘At least we should put up a good fight,’ I said.
“‘It is too bad,’ he sighed, ‘that those two Tarids
will never have the honor of knowing who killed them.’
“‘Jat Or, you and Gar Nal follow immediately behind
Ur Jan and me.’ And then, in his own language, I told Umka to board the
ship immediately after Jat Or and Gar Nal. ‘And if the fighting is not
all over,’ I told him, ‘you will know what to do when you see the two Tarid
warriors.’ His upper mouth stretched in one of his strange grins, and he
“I stepped to the sill of the window, and Ur Jan
clambered to my side. The hull of the craft was almost scraping the side
of the building; the doorway was only a foot from the sill on which we
“‘Ready, Ur Jan,’ I whispered, and then I directed
the brain to draw the doors aside as rapidly as possible.
“Almost instantly, they sprang apart; and in the
same instant Ur Jan and I sprang into the cabin. Behind us, came our three
companions. In the gloom of the interior, I saw two men facing us; and
without waiting to give either of them a chance to draw, I hurled myself
at the legs of the nearer.
“He crashed to the floor, and before he could
draw his dagger I seized both his wrists and pinioned him on his back.
“I did not see how Ur Jan handled his man; but
a moment later, with the assistance of Jat Or and Umka, we had disarmed
“Ur Jan and Gar Nal wanted to kill them offhand,
but that I would not listen to. I can kill a man in a fair fight without
a single qualm of conscience; but I cannot kill a defenseless man in cold
blood, even though he may be my enemy.” (SM/20.)
“The discovery of the scarlet scarf flying
from the window had not wholly reassured me, as I was full conscious of
the fact that it might have been placed there as a lure; but the presence
of the three women in the chamber appeared reasonable evidence that Ozara
had carried our her part of the agreement loyally.
Carter takes time to muse over the fact that Zanda seems ignorant of his
true identity, giving him time to make the stupid mistake that will lead
to the suspense of the battle of the Tower of Diamonds. This is how you
write a cliffhanger. Carter’s stupid mistake will give the Tarids time
to foil the rescue. His stupid mistake was not to have commanded the brain
to remain at the window. Instead it drifts away and by the time Carter
has the women ready, the ship is not there, creating the scenario for the
greatest swordfight – next to the battle of the Tower of Kadabra – in the
“As the ship came closer to the sill, I prepared
to leap into the room beyond; and just as I jumped I heard a voice raised
in alarm and warning far below me at the base of the tower. We had been
“As I alighted from the window of the chamber,
Dejah Thoris voiced a little exclamation of happiness. ‘My chieftan!’ she
cried. ‘I knew that you would come. Wherever they might have taken me,
I knew that you would follow.’
“‘To the end of the universe, my Princess,’ I
“The warning cry from below that told me that
we had been discovered left no time left for greeting or explanation, nor
would either Dejah Thoris or myself reveal to strangers the emotions that
were in our breasts, I wanted to take her to my heart, to crush her beautiful
body to mine, to cover her lips with kisses; but instead I only said, ‘Come,
we must board the ship at once. The guard below has raised the alarm.’
“Zanda came and clutched my arm. ‘I knew you would
come, Vandor,’ she said.” (SM/21.)
“The three women shared my consternation.
Thus begins Carter’s exciting adventure with Ozara; escaping across the
river; spending the night in each other’s arms in a Masena nest high in
the trees; getting captured by a Masena tribe; being rescued by Umka in
the nick of time; being returned to the spaceship which Zanda has finally
learned how to control.
“‘The ship!’ exclaimed Dejah Thoris.
“‘Where has it gone?’ cried Ozara.
“‘We are lost,’ said Zanda, quite simply. ‘I can
hear armed men running up the stairway.’
“Suddenly I realized what had happened. I had
directed the brain to approach the window, but I had not told it to stop.
I had jumped, and it had gone on before my companions could follow me;
and Gar Nal, not knowing what had occurred, had continued on with it, following
me as I had directed.
“Instantly, I centered my thoughts upon the mechanical
brain and directed it to bring the ship back to the window and stop there.
Self-reproach was now useless but I could not help to be cognizent of the
fact that my carelessness had jeopardized the safety of my princess and
those others who had looked to me for protection.
“I could now plainly hear the warriors approaching.
They were coming swiftly. From the window I could see both ships turning
now. Would they reach us before it was too late? I commanded the brain
to fly at the highest speed compatible with safety. It leaped forward in
response to my wishes. The warriors were very close now. I judged that
they were approaching the next level below. In another moment, they would
be at the door.
“I carried the long sword of one of the Tarid
warriors that we had overpowered in the cabin of the craft, but could a
single sword for long prevail over the many that I knew must be coming?
“The ships drew closer, Gar Nal’s almost abreast
of mine. I saw Jat Or and Ur Jan standing in the doorway of Fal Silvas’s
“‘The alarm has been raised and warriors are
almost at the door,’ I called to them. ‘I will try to hold them off while
you get the women aboard.’
“Even as I spoke, I heard the enemy just outside
the door of the chamber. ‘Stay close to the window,’ I directed the three
women, ‘and board the boat the moment it touches the sill;’ then I crossed
the room quickly to the door, the Tarid long sword ready in my hand.
“I had scarcely reached it, when it was thrown
open; a dozen warriors crowded in the corridor beyond. The first one to
leap into the room leaped full upon the point of my blade. With a single,
piercing scream he died; and as I jerked my steel from his heart, he lunged
forward at my feet.
“In the brief instant that my weapon was thus
engaged, three men forced themselves into the room, pushed forward by those
“One thrust at me, and another swung a terrific
cut at my head. I parried the thrust and dodged the cut, and then my blade
clove the skull of one of them.
“For a moment I forgot everything in the joy of
battle. I felt my lips tense in the fighting smile that is famous in two
worlds. Again, as upon so many other fields, my sword seemed inspired;
but the Tarids were no mean swordsmen, nor were they cowards. They pushed
forward into the room over the bodies of their dead companions.
“I think that I could have accounted for them
all single-handed, with such fierce enthusiasm did I throw my whole being
into the defense of my princess; but now from below I heard the tramp of
many feet and the rattling of accouterments. Reinforcements were coming!
“It had been a glorious fight so far. Six lay
dead upon the floor about me; but now the other six were all in the room,
yet I would have felt no discouragement had I not heard the thunderous
pounding of those many feet leaping rapidly upward from below.
“I was engaged with a strapping fellow who sought
to push me back, when one of his companions attempted to reach my side
and distract my attention, while another edged to my opposite side.
“My situation at the moment was embarrassing,
to say the least, for the man who engaged me in front was not only a powerful
fellow but a splendid swordsman; and then I saw a sword flash at my right
and another at my left. Two of my adversaries went down, and in the next
instant a quick glance showed me that Ur Jan and Jat Or were fighting at
“As the three remaining Tarids bravely leaped
in to take the places of their fallen comrades, the van of their reinforcements
arrived; and a perfect avalanche of yelling warriors burst into the apartment.
“As I finally succeeded in spitting my antagonist,
I snatched a momentary opportunity to glance behind me.
“I saw the three women and Umka in the room and
Gar Nal standing upon the sill of the window.
“‘Quick, Gar Nal,’ I cried, ‘get the women aboard.’
“For the next few minutes I was about as busy
as I can remember ever having been before in my life. The Tarids were all
around us. They had succeeded in encircling us. I was engaged constantly
with two or three swordsmen at a time. I could not see what was taking
place elsewhere in the room, but my thoughts were always of Dejah Thoris
and her safety; and suddenly it occurred to me that if all of us who were
fighting there in the room should be destroyed, she would be left in the
power of Gar Nal without a defender.
“Jat Or was fighting near me. ‘The princess!’
I called to him; ‘she is alone on the ship with Gar Nal. If we are both
killed, she is lost. Go to her at once.’
“‘And leave you, my prince?’ he demanded.
“‘It is not a request, Jat Or,’ I said; ‘it is
“‘Yes, my prince,’ he replied, and fought his
way to the window.
“‘Help him, Ur Jan,’ I commanded.
“The three of us managed to cut a path for Jat
Or to the window, and as we stood with our backs to it, I saw something
which filled me consternation. At one side, struggling in the grip of two
warriors, was Ozara, the Jeddara of the Tarids.
“‘Save me, John Carter,’ she cried. ‘Save me,
or I shall be killed.’
“There was nothing else that I could do. No other
path would be honorable. Ozara had made it possible for us to escape. Perhaps
her deed had already succeeded in saving Dejah Thoris. My own stupidity
had placed us in this position, which now had beome a definite threat to
the life of the Jeddara.
“Jat Or, Ur Jan, and I had succeeded in cutting
down the warriors that immediately faced us; and the others, probably the
least courageous of the band, seemed to hestitate to engage us again immediately.
“I turned to my companions. ‘On board with you,
quick,’ I cried, ‘and hold the entrance to the ship until I bring the Jeddara
“As I started toward the warriors holding Ozara,
I saw Umka at my side. He had given a good account of himself in the fight,
although he had carried no sword, which, at the time, I did not understand
because there was a plentiful supply of weapons aboard the craft; but later
I was to learn that it is not the manner of the Masenas to fight with swords
or daggers, with the use of which they are wholly unfamiliar.
“I had seen in this encounter how he fought; and
I realized that his powerful muscles and the terrible jaws of his lower
mouth were adequate weapons against even a swordsman, aided as they were
by the catlike agility of the Masena.
“Umka had received a number of wounds; and was
bleeding profusely, as, in fact, were all of us; but I thought that he
looked about finished and ordered him back to the ship. He demurred at
first, but finally he went, and I was alone in the room with the remaining
“I knew that my position was hopeless, but I could
not leave to her death this girl who had aided me.
“As I sprang forward to attack her captors, I
saw another contingent of reinforcements burst into the room.
“My case was now, indeed, hopeless.
“The newcomers paid no attention to me; they ran
straight for the window where the ship lay. If they succeeded in boarding
her, the doom of Dejah Thoris would be sealed.
“There was only one way in which I could circumvent
them, though it definitely spelled the end for me.
“The two men holding Ozara were waiting for me
to attack them, but I paused long enough to hurl a mental order to the
mechanical brain in the nose of Fal Silvas’s ship.
“I cast a glance back at the craft. Ur Jan and
Umka stood in the doorway; Jat Or was not there; but at the very instant
that the ship started to move away in obedience to my command, the young
padwar sprang into view.
“‘My prince,’ he cried, ‘we have been betrayed.
Gar Nal had fled with Dejah Thoris in his own ship.’
“Then the Tarids were upon me. A blow upon my
head sent me down to merciful unconsciousness.’” (SM/21.)
“None of the three on the ship had noticed
our approach, and we were quite close to her before they discovered us.
They greeted us enthusiastically as two returned from the dead. Even Ur
Jan was genuinely pleased to see me.
Zanda and Carter have their moment for her Zodangan revenge, but it all
passes in a moment of humor. They sadly return Ozara to Domnia, and, getting
a tip from the Domnians that Gar Nal and Dejah Thoris are in Ombra, they
sail off. But their ship mysteriously picks up a mind of its own and flies
them back to Fal Silvas’s hangar in Zodanga. They meet up with Rapas the
“The assassin of Zodanga was furious with Gar
Nal because he had broken his oath; and now, to my astonishment, the fellow
threw his sword at my feet and swore eternal fealty to me.
“‘Never in my life,’ he said, ‘have I fought shoulder
to shoulder with such a swordsman, and never shall it be said that I have
drawn sword against him.’
“I accepted his service, and then I asked them
how they had been able to maneuver the ship to this point.’
“‘Zanda was the only one who knew anything about
the mechanism or its control,’ explained Jat Or; ‘and after a little experimenting,
she found that she could operate it.’ He looked proudly at her, and I read
much in the smile that passed between them.” (SM/24.)
Ulsio who tells them that Fal Silvas is at the house of Gar Nal, and
Carter has Rapas guide them there:
“It was half after the eighth zode, or
around midnight earth-time, that we reached Gar Nal’s. Rapas admitted us
and led us to the third level of the house, up narrow ramps at the rear
of the building where we met no one. We moved silently without speaking,
and at last our guide halted before a door.
Carter shares his plans with the rest of them and Jat Or and Zanda agree
to return with Carter and Fal Silvas to Thuria to rescue Dejah Thoris:
“‘He is in there,’ he whispered.
“‘Open the door,’ I said.
“He tried it, but it was locked. Ur Jan pushed
him aside, and then hurled his great bulk against the door. With a loud
splintering of wood, it burst in. I leaped across the threshold; and there,
seated at a table, I saw Fal Silvas and Gar Nal – Gar Nal, the man whom
I had thought imprisoned in the city of Ombra on the nearer moon.
“As the two men recognized Ur Jan and me, they
leaped to their feet; their evil faces were studies in surprise and terror.
“I sprang forward and seized Gar Nal before he
could draw his sword, and Ur Jan fell upon Fal Silvas. He would have killed
him offhand, but I forbade it. All that I wanted was to learn the fate
of Dejah Thoris, and one of these men must know the truth concerning her.
They must not die until I knew.
“‘What are you doing here, Gar Nal?’ I demanded.
‘I thought that you were a prisoner in Ombra.’
“‘I escaped,’ he replied.
“‘Do you know where my princess is?’
“A cunning look entered his eyes. ‘You would like
to know, wouldn't you?’ he asked with a sneer; ‘but do you think Gar Nal
is fool enough to tell you? No, as long as I know and you don’t, you will
not dare to kill me.’
“‘I’ll get the truth out of him,’ growled Ur Jan.
‘Here, Rapas, heat a dagger for me. Heat it red-hot.’ But when we looked
around, Rapas was not there. As we had entered the room, he had made good
“‘Well,’ said Ur Jan, ‘I can heat it myself; but
first let me kill Fal Silvas.’
“‘No, no,’ screamed the old inventor. ‘I did not
steal the Princess of Helium; it was Gar Nal.’
“And then the two commenced to accuse one another,
and presently I discovered that after Gar Nal’s return from Thuria, these
two master inventors and great scoundrels had patched up a truce and joined
forces because of their mutual fear of me. Gar Nal was to hide Fal Silvas,
and in return Fal Silvas was to show him the secret of his mechanical brain.
“They had both been certain that the last place
in the world that I would look for Fal Silvas would be in the house of
Gar Nal. Gar Nal had instructed his servants to say that he had never returned
from his trip with Ur Jan, giving the impression that he was still upon
Thuria; and he was planning to leave that very night for a distant hiding-place.
“But all this annoyed me. I did not care about
them, or their plans. I wanted to know but one thing, and that was the
fate of Dejah Thoris.
“‘Where is my princess, Gar Nal?’ I demanded;
‘tell me that, and I will spare your life.’
“‘She is in Ombra,’ he replied.
“‘Then I turned upon Fal Silvas. ‘That is your
death warrant, Fal Silvas,’ I told him.
“‘Why?’ he demanded. ‘What have I to do with it?’
“‘You keep me from directing the brain that operates
your ship, and only thus may I reach Ombra.’
“Ur Jan raised his sword to cleave Fal Silvas’s
skull, but the coward went down upon his knees and begged for his life.
“‘Spare me,’ he cried, ‘and I will turn the ship
over to you and let you control the brain.’
“‘I can’t trust you,’ I said.
“‘You can take me with you,’ he pleaded; ‘that
will be better than death.’
“‘Very well,’ I said; ‘but if you interfere with
my plans or attempt to betray me, you shall pay for your treachery with
your life.’” (SM/24.)
“‘And I,’ growled Ur Jan, ‘but first,
my prince, please let me run my sword through the heart of this scoundrel,’
and as he spoke he advanced upon Gar Nal. ‘He should die for what he has
done. He gave you his word, and he broke it.’
That’s actually the real ending of Swords of Mars. When you consider
the amount of sword fighting that takes place in this novel, you can see
why it is thus titled. One thing you can say about Ur Jan, he would come
in mighty handy if you found yourself one pitch black night in a dark alley
in a bad side of town all alone.
“I shook my head. ‘No,’ I said. ‘He told me where
I could find my princess; and in return for that, I have guaranteed his
“Grumbling, Ur Jan returned his sword to its scabbard;
and then we four, with Fal Silvas, moved toward the door. The others preceded
me. I was the last to pass out into the corridor; and just as I did so,
I heard a door open at the opposite end of the room we were just leaving.
I turned to glance back; and there, in doorway across the room stood Dejah
“She came towards me with arms outstretched as
I ran to meet her.
“She was breathing very hard and trembling as
I took her in my arms. ‘Oh, my prince,’ she cried, ‘I thought I should
not be in time. I heard all that was said in this room, but I was bound
and gagged and could not warn you that Gar Nal was deceiving you. It was
only just this instant that I succeeded in freeing myself.’
“My exclamation of surprise when I first saw her
had attracted the attention of my companions, and they had all returned
to the room; and as I held my princess in my arms, Ur Jan leaped past me
and ran his sword through the putrid heart of Gar Nal.” (SM/24.)