This section could have been entitled “The Revenge of Zodanga,”
if only it hadn’t failed.
But the Revenge was to be expected, for on a planet that had evolved
just fine over billions of years, Zodanga was on a spiral of destiny to
rule it. Then John Carter intervened on the side of Helium and Zodanga
was flustered almost to extinction.
But Zodanga rose again in the person of Zat Arras, of whom we know nothing
of his history. It is as if ERB had a Barsoomian history book at his perusal
and forgot to give us the essentials of this man. It would have been nice,
for he too falls madly in love with the Princess and becomes a Scopes Trial
prosecutor in the Mythos. All Barsoomians are moths to Dejah Thoris’s flame,
especially Zodangans. She is the epitome of the Barsoomian perfect female:
cunning; not totally bound to morality or custom; outrageously beautiful;
scientific minded; a passionate and effective orator; excellent diplomat...and,
of course, she is the hottest babe on the planet, driving virtually everyone
crazy with whom she comes into contact.
A Zodangan noble who had been on a diplomatic mission to Helium said
that it was a fact that Helium had the most beautiful women on Barsoom,
of whom Dejah Thoris was the flower. The Red Flower of Helium. Femme Fatale
to most men and women she encounters. She is the most complex woman in
the Mythos, and there is something witchy and mysterious in her power over
others. She even entranced a Tharkian council and drove their Jeddak mad
It is this power that drew both Thuvia and Phaidor to her side, both
of whom fell madly in love with the Princess of Helium and it is their
actions that determine the outcome of the planet.
If one is to overanalyze the Barsoomian Mythos, one could argue that
Dejah Thoris is the real power controlling Barsoomian evolution. This is
why I call this power the Dejah Thoris Effect, or DTE.
However, her mysterious side has presently been suppressed by married
life and motherhood, but her past three hundred years of wild escapades
still must call to her like a siren.
How she must miss the whole planet being at war with Helium because
of her beauty. We know she truly misses John Carter because no man on Barsoom
ever equaled his super powers and his mad love for her. Her son was the
spitting image of her chieftan, and now, he too, is gone. She is left to
be harassed by another Zodangan, Zat Arras – half the man of Sab Than –
who has done something to her that is unmentionable.
As for Carter, the planet changed again after he disappeared following
his success at the atmosphere plant. His almost death at the factory caused
his spirit or ka to return to his physical body back in the Arizona cave.
This is one of the real enigmas of the Mythos, never satisfactorily answered:
how can Carter’s astral body have physical, corporeal existence on Barsoom?
And was it the faith of Tars Tarkas that was instrumental in bringing Carter
backfrom Earth? We will deal with these enigmas in a later series.
Prior to the disaster at the factory, Carter had served in the armed
forces of Helium for ten years. Thus, there are a lot of unpublished stories
to be told during this period, one of which would deal with the rivalry
between Carter and Zat Arras, appointed to be Jed of Zodanga by Tardos
Mors after her defeat at the hands of the Green Hordes under the command
of Tars Tarkas.
ERB never makes it clear whether Zat Arras is a native Zodangan or a
noble Heliumite sent to Zodanga to rule on the Jeddak of Helium’s behalf.
From the point of view in The Gods of Mars, however, it appears
that he is a native Zodangan, allegedly loyal to Helium. If that is the
case, then any animosity existing between Zodangans and Carter would be
After all, John Carter may be the Savior of Barsoom, but he was also
the means by which Zodanga’s empire was crushed, leaving her as merely
an extension of the Heliumite Empire.
Of course, Zat Arras could also be a noble Heliumite, flustered in his
attempt to woo the Princess of Helium for himself by the advent of Carter.
That would give him plenty of reason for wanting to get Revenge on Carter.
Take your pick.
I failed to mention Zat Arras's name as a victim of love of Barsoom’s
greatest femme fatale, Dejah Thoris, but he was one of her greatest victims,
as we shall see. We are not told how long he had burned a torch for the
Princess, but if he was from Zodanga, it was likely from the time Sab Than
had in her bondage. If from Helium, he could have been a suitor of the
Princess before Carter’s advent.
As for Carter’s recent advent, the strange God of Barsoom has brought
Carter back and placed him into seemingly the worse place on the entire
planet: the Valley Dor. If he survives the Valley Dor, he will have to
confront what comes next: the superstition of Issus demanding that anyone
returning from the Valley must be put to death as a blasphemer. Thus, the
Religion of Issus will be the means of Zodangan Revenge against Helium,
at least that is how Zat Arras perceives it. And the city of Greater Helium
will be the chosen theater for this Revenge.
So, Carter wakes up in the Valley Dor, saves Tars Tarkas, is saved by
Thuvia, is captured by the First Born, rescues his son, Carthoris, and
the Black Dator, Xodar, from the Isle of Shador, and eventually find himself
under the protection of a battleship from Helium, which has just saved
Carter and his party from a horde of Warhoons.
Except for returning from the Valley Dor, Carter expects to be received
as a hero, for he learns from his son that he has achieved the status of
Jesus or Elvis in Helium and on the whole planet:
“‘They loved you also and fairly worship
your memory as the savior of Barsoom.
We must assume that if this festival was held in Zodanga every year that
it was done under orders of Helium, since most Zodangans, at least the
survivors who had been loyal to their old Jeddak, view Carter as a destroyer,
not a savior.
“‘Each year that brings its anniversery of the
day that saw you racing across a near dead world to unlock the secret of
that awful portal behind which lay the mighty power of life for countless
millions a great festival is held in your honor; but there are tears mingled
with the thanksgiving – tears of real regret that the author of the happiness
is not with them to share the joy of living he died to give them. Upon
all Barsoom there is no greater name than John Carter.’” (GM/14.)
Anyway, the battleship that has just rescued them is under the command
of Hor Vastus and he shortly receives word from Kantos Kan to turn over
the honored guests to him in his ship, the Xavarian. Carter’s presence
immeditately causes a crisis of loyalty in every sailor in the fleet, one
humongous national cognitive dissonance as fear and superstition meet loyalty
to a hero in a head-on collision.
Both Hor Vastus and Kantos Kan, now admiral of the entire Helium navy,
keep from questioning Carter on where he has been. Most Heliumites presumed
that Carter died in the rescue of the atmosphere factory, but many rumors
had persisted that he was in the Valley Dor living the life of Riley. If
this is true, then Martian custom has a remedy for such a situation: Death!
Thus, don’t ask, don’t tell, is the policy they follow. That stays true
until Carter is confronted by the commander of the fleet, Zat Arras, Jed
of Zodanga, and acting Jed of Helium.
But first, Hor Vastus lays down his sword at the feet of Carter, letting
him know that he will not be ruled by Religion, that his friendship is
stronger than Issus. He receives equal respect from his old friend from
the Warhoon arena, Kantos Kan, from whom he learns of the brokenhearted
“He did not ask me where I had been.
Like Hor Vastus, he too dreaded the truth and would not be the one to wrest
a statement from me. That it must come some time he well knew, but until
it came he seemed satisfied to but know that I was with him once again....
This is a lot of information to digest. At first it appears that Zat Arras
was trying to succeed where Sab Than failed. If he is a Zodangan, then
this could signify one last try for the old alma mater. Marrying the Princess
would achieve the same goal as Sab Than’s: uniting the two empires with
one blood. With John Carter, Carthoris, Tardos Mors, and Mors Kojak out
of the way, this must have seemed like all but a done deal. But then John
Carter returns unexpectedly from the dead.
“‘For a year,’ he said, ‘ever since Carthoris
disappeared, Dejah Thoris has grieved and mourned for her lost boy. The
blow of years ago, when you did not return from the atmosphere plant, was
lessened to some extent by the duties of motherhood, for your son broke
his white shell that very night.
“‘That she suffered terribly then, all Helium
knew, for did not all Helium suffer with her the loss of her lord! But
with the boy gone there was nothing left, and after expedition upon expedition
returned with the same hopeless tale as to no clue as to his whereabouts,
our beloved Princess drooped lower and lower, until all who saw her felt
that it could be but a matter of days ere she went to join her loved ones
within the precincts of the Valley Dor.
“‘As a last resort, Mors Kojak, her father, and
Tardos Mors, her grandfather, took command of two mighty expeditions, and
a month ago sailed away to explore every inch of ground in the northern
hemisphere of Barsoom. For two weeks no word has come back from them, but
rumors were rife that they had met with a terrible disaster and that all
“‘About this time Zat Arras renewed his importunities
for her hand in marriage. He has been for ever after her since you disappeared.
She hated him and feared him, but with both her father and grandfather
gone, Zat Arras was very powerful, for he is still Jed of Zodanga, to which
position, you will remember, Tardos Mors appointed him after you had refused
“‘He had a secret audience six days ago. What
took place none knows, but the next day Dejah Thoris had disappeared, and
with her had gone a dozen of her household guard and body servants, including
Sola the green woman – Tars Tarkas’ daughter, you recall. No word left
they of their intentions, but it is always thus with those who go upon
the voluntary pilgrimage from which none returns. We cannot think aught
than that Dejah Thoris sought the icy bosom of Iss, and that her devoted
servants have chosen to accompany her.
“‘Zat Arras was at Helium when she disappeared.
He commands this fleet which has been searching for her since. No trace
of her have we found, and I fear that it be a futile quest.’” (GM/16.)
We know already the fate of Tordas Mors and Mors Kojak: they are rotting
in a cell in Kadabra, victims of the great magnet shaft known as the Guardian
of the North. They will be effectively out of the picture until Carter
rescues them at the end of Warlord of Mars.
Thus, in the fevered mind of Zat Arras there can be but one solution:
John Carter must die! And the means is so easily at hand: he has broken
the ancient taboo and returned alive from Valley Dor. One can imagine a
rush of victorious contentment coming to his countenance as he siezes upon
this solution to get rid of his rival.
And what exactly took place during the secret audience between Dejah
Thoris and Zat Arras that drove her to the River Iss the next day? When
Sola is later found and retells her story we are told little that is new:
“‘Seven days ago, after her audience
with Zat Arras, Dejah Thoris attempted to slip from the palace in the dead
of night. Although I had not heard the outcome of her interview with Zat
Arras I knew that something had occurred then to cause her the keenest
mental agony, and when I discovered her creeping from the palace I did
not need to be told her destination.’” (GM/18.)
ERB’s silence on the ‘something that occurred” makes me suspect some kind
of sexual assault or rape. He is likely silent on the subject for in this
case there was no one to rescue the Princess at the last minute. ERB knew
he could write near rape scenes under the censorship of the time, but he
also knew that he wasn’t allowed to write a scene where the act was completed.
Whatever the “something” was, it was serious enough and shocking enough
to make her go over the edge into total despair. What else could it have
Unless, as in the case of Tars Tarkas, she had heard rumors, and that
if the rumors were true then her final hope of finding John Carter still
alive lay in Valley Dor. For some unfathomable reason, he had chosen Martian
Paradise over his love for her. She must have a deep desire to know the
reason, for is she not Dejah Thoris?
“I was about to ask Kantos Kan to prosecute
a further search for her when a flier from the flagship of the fleet arrived
at the Xavarian with an officer bearing a message to Kantos Kan from Arras.
Even ERB knew that John Carter could go too far in his macho pride, in
his willingness to plunge nations into war over a petty grievance. Here,
Kantos Kan proved to be the cooler head and Carter had the good sense in
the end to follow his advice.
“My friend read the dispatch and then turned to
“‘Zat Arras commands me to bring our “prisoners”
before him. There is naught else to do. He is supreme in Helium; yet it
would be far more in keeping with chivalry and good taste were he to come
hither and greet the savior of Barsoom with the honors that are his due.’
“‘You know full well, my friend,’ I said, smiling,
‘that Zat Arras has good cause to hate me. Nothing would please him better
than to humiliate me and then to kill me. Now that he has so excellent
an excuse, let us go and see if has the courage to take advantage of it.’
“Summoning Carthoris, Tars Tarkas, and Xodar,
we entered the small flier with Kantos Kan and Zat Arras’ officer, and
in a moment were stepping to the deck of Zat Arras’ flagship.
“As we approached the Jed of Zodanga no sign or
recognition crossed his face; not even to Carthoris did he vouchsafe a
friendly word. His attitude was cold, haughty, and uncompromising.
“‘Kaor, Zat Arras,’ I said in greeting, but he
did not respond.
“‘Why were these prisoners not disarmed?’ he asked
to Kantos Kan.
“‘They are not prisoners, Zat Arras,’ replied
the officer. ‘Two of them are of Helium’s noblest family. Tars Tarkas,
Jeddak of Thark, is Tardos Mors’ best beloved ally. The other is a friend
and companion of the Prince of Helium – that is enough for me to know.’
“‘It is not enough for me, however,’ retorted
Zat Arras. ‘More must I hear from those who have taken the pilgrimage than
their names. Where have you been, John Carter?’
“‘I have just come from the Valley Dor and the
Land of the First Born, Zat Arras,’ I replied.
“‘Ah!’ he exclaimed in evident pleasure, ‘you
do not deny it, then? You have returned from the bosom of Iss?’
“‘I have come back from a land of false hope,
from a valley of torture and death; with my companions I have escaped from
the hideous clutches of lying fiends. I have come back to the Barsoom that
I saved from a painless death to again save her, but this time from death
it its most frightful form.’
“‘Cease, blasphemer!’ cried Zat Arras. ‘Hope not
to save thy cowardly carcass by inventing horrid lies to –’ But he got
no further. One does not call John Carter “coward” and “liar” thus lightly,
and Zat Arras should have known it. Before a hand could be raised to stop
me, I was at his side and one hand grasped his throat.
“‘Come I from heaven or hell, Zat Arras, you will
find me still the same John Carter that I have always been; nor did ever
man call me such names and live – without apologizing.’ And with that I
commenced to bend him back across my knee and tighten my grip upon his
“‘Seize him!’ cried Zat Arras, and a dozen officers
sprang forward to assist him.
“Kantos Kan came close and whispered to me.
“‘Desist, I beg of you. It will but involve us
all, for I cannot see these men lay hands upon you without aiding you.
My officers and men will join me and we shall have a mutiny then that may
lead to revolution. For the sake of Tardos Mors and Helium, desist.’
“At his words I released Zat Arras and, turning
my back upon him, walked toward the ship’s rail.
“‘Come, Kantos Kan,’ I said, ‘the Prince of Helium
would return to the Xavarian.’” (GM/16.)
Okay, so what is revealed in the text is that there is a real rivalry
between Carter and Zat Arras that predates the present time. If Zat Arras
is a Zodangan, then his hatred for Carter could be as the result of Carter
being the prime cause of Zodanga’s humiliation, further aggravated by him
first being offered the Jeddakship of Zodanga, and, because Carter refused
it, he only got it by default. Or, as I said earlier, if he was a Heliumite,
it could be as the result of jealousy over the Princess that predated his
first advent, or which occurred during his first ten year period on Barsoom.
Whatever the reason, the die is cast between them. Only one of them
is bound to get out of this situation alive.
As Carter returns victorious to Helium, many Heliumites cast their swords
before him, but the thoughts of Carter and his companions are glum:
“Our journey thither was uneventful.
Carthoris and I were wrapped in the gloomiest of thoughts. Kantos Kan was
sombre in contemplation of the further calamity that might fall upon Helium
should Zat Arras attempt to follow the ageold precedent that allotted a
terrible death to fugitives from the Valley Dor. Tars Tarkas grieved for
the loss of his daughter. Xodar alone was care-free – a fugitive and outlaw,
he could be no worse off in Helium than elsewhere.
They are silent about their adventures on their return, knowing that their
presence is already dividing Helium into two camps.
“‘Let us hope that we may at least go out with
good red blood upon our blades,’ he said. It was a simple wish and one
most likely to be gratified.” (GM/16.)
“I knew that sooner or later the time
must come when our friends and enemies would be forced to declare themselves
openly. When we reached Helium there must be an accounting, and if Tardos
Mors had not returned I feared that the enmity of Zat Arras might weigh
heavily against us, for he represented the government of Helium. To take
sides against him was equivalent to treason. The majority of the troops
would doubtless follow the lead of their officers, and I knew many of the
highest most powerful men of both land and air forces would cleave to John
Carter in the face of god, man, or devil.” (GM/16.)
We are not told why this must be so under Heliumite law or custom. After
all, Zodanga was a fairly recent addition to the Empire of Helium. Its
only distinction in the Empire is the fact that at one time it was the
greatest nation on Barsoom. Surely Hastor, or one of the older cities in
the Empire, would have had more priority? And most of Zodangan’s nobility
and military class were killed during the war of acquisition. Why her current
leaders would be given the political supremacy in Helium’s order of leadership
succession is a mystery that ERB took to his grave. Oh, if only we had
access to the history of Barsoom to which ERB had access in his mind.
“I knew that Zat Arras dare not trust
the people near us, for he feared that their love for Carthoris and myself
might break into a demonstration which would wipe out their superstitious
horror of the crime we were to be charged with. What his plans were I could
only guess, but that they were sinister was evidenced by the fact that
only his most trusted servitors accompanied us upon the flier to the Temple
of Reward.” (GM/16.)
They are kept there overnight, and in the morning they are summoned before
“an impartial body” in the great hall of the temple.
“A few moments before the appointed time
on the following morning a strong guard of Zat Arras’ officers appeared
at our quarters to conduct us to the great hall of the temple.
The scene sounds very similar to the situation in the audience chamber
of Than Kosis during the wedding ceremony, but I am afraid no Zodangan
present lived through that event, so no Zodangan in Helium at this time
was there to see the irony.
“In twos we entered the chamber and marched down
the broad Aisle of Hope, as it is called, to the platform in the center
of the hall. Before and behind us marched armed guards, while three solid
ranks of Zodangan soldiery lined either side of the aisle from the entrance
to the rostrum.” (GM/17.)
“As we reached the raised enclosure I
saw our judges. As is the custom upon Barsoom there were thirty-one, supposedly
selected by lot from men of the noble class, for nobles were on trial.
But to my amazement I saw no single friendly face among them. Practically
all were Zodangans, and it was I to whom Zodanga owed her defeat at the
hands of the green hordes and her subsequent vassalage to Helium. There
could be little justice for John Carter, or his son, or for the great Thark
who had commanded the savage tribesmen who overran Zodanga’s broad avenues,
looting, burning, and murdering.” (GM/17.)
Carter is ordered to stand on the Pedestal of Truth while Zat Arras sits
in the golden chair of the presiding magistrate. Zat Arras then addresses
“‘Know you, judges and people of Helium,’
he said, ‘that John Carter, one time Prince of Helium, has returned by
his own statement from the Valley Dor and even from the Temple of Issus
itself. That, in the presence of many men of Helium he has blasphemed against
the Sacred Iss, and against the Valley Dor, and the Lost Sea of Korus,
and the Holy Therns themselves, and even against Issus, Goddess of Death,
and of Life Eternal. And know you further by witness of thine own eyes
that see him here now upon the Pedestal of Truth that he has indeed returned
from the sacred precincts in the face of our ancient customs, and in violation
of the sanctity of our ancient religion.
It is this section and at the very end that convince me that Zat Arras
is from Zodanga. The Zodangans appear to be fiercely loyal to him. He identifies
with their cause. If he was from Helium, you would expect there to be local
sympathy for him, but he appears to have no Heliumite followers.
“‘He who once be dead may not live again. He who
attempts it must be made dead forever. Judges, your duty lays plain before
you – here can be no testimony in contravention of truth. What reward shall
be meted to John Carter in accordance with the acts he has committed?’
“‘Death!’ shouted one of the judges.
“And then a man sprang to his feet in the audience,
and raising his hand on high, cried: ‘Justice! Justice! Justice!’ It was
Kantos Kan, and as all eyes turned toward him he leaped past the Zodangan
soldiery and sprang upon the platform.
“‘What manner of justice be this?’ he cried to
Zat Arras. ‘The defendant has not been heard, nor has he had an opportunity
to call others in his behalf. In the name of the people of Helium I demand
fair and impartial treatment for the Prince of Helium.’
“A great cry arose from the audience then: ‘Justice!
Justice! Justice!’ and Zat Arras dared not deny them.
“‘Speak, then,’ he snarled, turning to me; ‘but
blaspheme not against the things that are sacred upon Barsoom.’
“‘Men of Helium,’ I cried, turning to the spectators,
and speaking over the heads of my judges, ‘how can John Carter expect justice
from the men of Zodanga? He cannot nor does he ask it. It is to the men
of Helium that he states his case; nor does he appeal for mercy to any.’”
He may have seen the opportunity much in the same way Than Kosis saw
Helium’s momentary time of weakness, as a moment to strike and make Zodanga
supreme on Barsoom.
But if this was the case, he is seeing it all blow away before his own
eyes as Carter gives an impassioned defense of his journey in Dor and the
horrors that await the pilgrim there.
“‘It is to you of Helium that I speak
now. When I am done let the men of Zodanga have their will with me. Zat
Arras has taken my sword from me, so the men of Zodanga no longer fear
me. Will you listen?’
John Carter must have learned something from Kantos Kan, because this time
his is the cooler prevailing head. And he is able to come up with a saving
“‘Speak, John Carter, Prince of Helium,’ cried
a great noble from the audience, and the multitude echoed his permission,
until the building rocked with the noise of their demonstration.
“Zat Arras knew better than to interfere with
such a sentiment as was expressed that day in the Temple of Reward, and
so for two hours I talked with the people of Helium.
“But when I had finished, Zat Arras arose and,
turning to the judges, said in a low tone: ‘My nobles, you have heard John
Carter’s plea; every opportunity has been given him to prove his innocence
if he be not guilty; but instead he has but utilized the time in further
blasphemy. What, gentlemen, is your verdict?’
“‘Death to the blasphemer!’ cried one, springing
to his feet, and in an instant the entire thirty-one judges were on their
feet with upraised swords in token of the unanimity of their verdict.
“If the people did not hear Zat Arras’s charge,
they certainly did hear the verdict of the tribunal. A sullen murmer rose
louder and louder about the packed coliseum, and then Kantos Kan, who had
not left the platform since first he had taken his place near me, raised
his hand for silence. When he could be heard he spoke to the people in
a cool and level voice.
“‘You have heard the fate that the men of Zodanga
would mete to Helium’s noblest hero. It may be the duty of the men of Helium
to accept the verdict as final. Let each man act according to his own heart.
Here is the answer of Kantos Kan, head of the navy of Helium, to Zat Arras
and his judges,’ and with that he unbuckled his scabbard and threw his
sword at my feet.
“In an instant soldiers and citizens, officers
and nobles, were crowding past the soldiers of Zodanga and forcing their
way to the Throne of Righteousness. A hundred men surged upon the platform,
and a hundred blades rattled and clanked to the floor at my feet. Zat Arras
and his officers were furious, but they were helpless. One by one I raised
the swords to my lips and buckled them again upon their owners.
“‘Come,’ said Kantos Kan, ‘we will escort John
Carter and his party to his own palace,’ and they formed about us and started
toward the stairs leading to the Aisle of Hope.
“‘Stop!’ cried Zat Arras. ‘Soldiers of Helium,
let no prisoner leave the Throne of Righteousness.’
“The soldiery from Zodanga were the only organized
body of Heliumetic troops within the temple, so Zat Arras was confident
his orders would be obeyed, but I do not think that he looked for the opposition
that was raised the moment the soldiers advanced toward the throne.
“From every quarter of the coliseum swords flashed
and men rushed threateningly upon the Zodangans. Some one raised a cry:
‘Tardos Mors is dead – a thousand years to John Carter, Jeddak of Helium.’
As I heard that and saw the ugly attitude of the men of Helium toward the
soldiers of Zat Arras, I knew that only a miracle could avert a clash that
would end in civil war.
“‘Hold!’ I cried, leaping to the Pedestal of Truth
once more. ‘Let no man move till I am done. A single sword thrust here
today may plunge Helium into a bitter and bloody war the results of which
none can foresee. It will turn brother against brother and father against
son. No man’s life is worth that sacrifice. Rather would I submit to the
biased judgment of Zat Arras than be the cause of civil strife in Helium.’”
“‘Let us each give in a point to the
other, and let this entire matter rest until Tardos Mors returns, or Mors
Kojak, his son. If neither be back at the end of a year a second trial
may be held – the thing has a precedent.’ And then turning to Zat Arras,
I said in a low voice: ‘Unless you be a bigger fool than I take you to
be, you will grasp the chance I am offering you ere it be too late. Once
that multitude of swords below is drawn against your soldiery no man upon
Barsoom – not even Tardos Mors himself – can avert the consquences. What
say you? Speak quickly.’
They return to Carter’s palace in time to discover that Sola has been rescued
and has fresh news of the Princess. She is in the hands of the Black Pirates,
who have also captured Thuvia. Carter and his companions make plans to
rescue the princess. Xodar assures them that Issus will choose both Thuvia
and Dejah Thoris to serve her for a year, for he has seen both of them
and knows they have no equal in beauty on Barsoom. Thus, they have that
long to assemble their rescue effort.
“The Jed of Zodangan Helium raised his voice to
the angry sea beneath us.
“‘Stay your hands, men of Helium,’ he shouted,
his voice trembling with rage. ‘The sentence of the court is passed, but
the day of retribution has not been set. I, Zat Arras, Jed of Zodanga,
appreciating the royal connections of the prisoner and his past services
to Helium and Barsoom, grant a respite of one year, or until the return
of Mors Kojak, or Tardos Mors to Helium. Disperse quietly to your houses.
“No one moved. Instead, they stood in tense silence
with their eyes fastened upon me, as though waiting for a signal to attack.
“‘Clear the temple,’ commanded Zat Arras, in a
low tone to one of his officers.
“Fearing the results of an attempt to carry out
this order by force, I stepped to the edge of the platform and, pointing
to the main entrance, bid them pass out. As one man they turned at my request
and filed, silent and threatening, past the soldiers of Zat Arras, Jed
of Zodanga, who stood scowling in impotent rage.
“Kantos Kan with the others who had sworn allegiance
to me still stood upon the Throne of Righteousness with me.
“‘Come,’ said Kantos Kan to me, ‘we will escort
you to your palace, my Prince. Come, Carthoris and Xodar. Come, Tars Tarkas.’
And with a haughty sneer for Zat Arras upon his handsome lips, he turned
and strode to the throne steps and up the Aisle of Hope. We four and the
hundred loyal ones followed behind him, nor was a hand raised to stay us,
though glowering eyes followed our triumphal march through the temple.”
“In the matter of equipping a fleet to
enter Omean the details were left to Kantos Kan and Xodar. The former agreed
to take such vessels as we required into dock as rapidly as possible, where
Xodar would direct their equipment with water propellers.
Hor Vastus suggests there is a way if John Carter desires to be Jeddak
of Helium, for the people of Helium would prefer him to Zat Arras. But
Carter declines, preferring to await the return of Tardos Mors, or a national
“For many years the black had been in charge of
the refitting of captured battleships that they might navigate Omean, and
so was familiar with the construction of the propellers, housings, and
the auxiliary gearing required.
“It was estimated that it would require six months
to complete our preparations in view of the fact that the utmost secrecy
must be maintained to keep the project from the ears of Zat Arras. Kantos
Kan was confident now that the man’s ambitions were fully aroused and that
nothing short of the title of Jeddak of Helium would satisfy him.
“‘I doubt,’ he said, ‘if we would even welcome
Dejah Thoris’ return, for it would mean another nearer the throne than
he. With you and Carthoris out of the way there would be little to prevent
him from assuming the title of Jeddak, and you may rest assured that so
long as he is supreme here there is no safety for either of you.’” (GM/18.)
“‘Until then Tardos Mors is Jeddak of
Helium, and Zat Arras is his representative.
It was good that Carter had them take this oath, for he will soon be out
of the picture due to the machinations of Zat Arras. But Carter’s willingness
to depopulate the entire planet to save the Princess is back in spades.
“‘As you will, John Carter,’ said Hor Vastus,
‘but – What was that?’ he whispered, pointing toward the window overlooking
“The words were scarce out of his mouth ere he
had sprung to the balcony without
“‘There he goes!’ he cried excitedly. ‘The guards!
Below there! The guards!’
“We were close behind him, and all saw the figure
of a man run quickly across a little piece of sward and disappear in the
“‘He was on the balcony when I first saw him,’
cried Hor Vastus. ‘Quick! Let us follow him!’
“Together we ran to the gardens, but even though
we scoured the grounds with the entire guard for hours, no trace could
we find of the night marauder.
“‘What do you make of it, Kantos Kan,’ asked Tars
“‘A spy sent by Zat Arras,’ he replied. ‘It was
ever his way.’
“‘He will have something interesting to report
to his master then,’ laughed Hor Vastus.
“‘I hope he heard only our references to a new
Jeddak,’ I said. ‘If he overheard our plans to rescue Dejah Thoris, it
will mean civil war, for he will attempt to thwart us, and in that I will
not be thwarted. There would I turn against Tardos Mors himself, were it
necessary. If it throws all Helium into a bloody conflict, I shall go on
with these plans to save my Princess. Nothing shall stay me now short of
death, and should I die, my friends, will you take oath to prosecute the
search for her and bring her back in safety to her grandfather’s court?’
“Upon the hilt of his sword each of them swore
to do as I had asked.’” (GM/18.)
They make detailed plans and retire for the night. Carter is kidnapped
in the middle of night and taken to Zat Arras, who waits for him in the
pits of Helium.
“‘Ah,’ said Zat Arras, ‘to what kindly
circumstance am I indebted for the pleasure of this unexpected visit from
the Prince of Helium?’
What is it with villains, anyway? They have every chance to kill the one
who eventually undoes them, yet they wish to talk and make deals with them
instead and to gloat. Oh well, every villain seems to do it, so ERB cannot
be singled out for this plot device. I guess it goes hand in hand with
being a villain.
“While he was speaking, one of my guards had removed
the gag from my mouth, but I made no reply to Zat Arras: simply standing
there in silence with level gaze fixed upon the Jed of Zodanga. And I doubt
not that my expression was colored by the contempt I felt for the man.
“The eyes of those within the chamber were fixed
first upon me and then upon Zat Arras, until finally a flush of anger crept
slowly over his face.
“‘You may go,’ he said to those who had brought
me and when only his two companions and ourselves were left in the chamber,
he spoke to me again in a voice of ice – very slowly and deliberately,
with many pauses, as though he would choose his words cautiously.
“‘John Carter,’ he said, ‘by the edict of custom,
by the law of our religion, and by the verdict of an impartial court, you
are condemned to die. The people cannot save you – I alone may accomplish
that. You are absolutely in my power to do with as I wish – I may kill
you, or I may free you, and should I elect to kill you, none would be the
“‘Should you go free in Helium for a year, in
accordance with the conditions of your reprieve, there is little fear that
the people would ever insist upon the execution of the sentence imposed
“‘You may go free within two minutes, upon one
condition. Tardos Mors will never return to Helium. Neither will Mors Kojak,
nor Dejah Thoris. Helium must select a new Jeddak within the year. Zat
Arras would be Jeddak of Helium. Say that you will espouse my cause. This
is the price of your freedom. I am done.’” (GM/19.)
Carter is offered an opportunity to go about his plans in saving the
Princess for one year without disturbance if he goes along with Zat Arras’s
offer. But his absolutism, including his false beliefs about the Princess,
will have none of it.
“I knew it was within the scope of Zat
Arras’ cruel heart to destroy me, and if I were dead I could see little
reason to doubt that he might easily become Jeddak of Helium. Free, I could
prosecute the search for Dejah Thoris. Were I dead, my brave comrades might
not be able to carry out our plans. So, by refusing to accede to his request,
it was quite probable that not only would I not prevent him from becoming
Jeddak of Helium, but that I would be the means of sealing Dejah Thoris’
fate – of consigning her, through my refusal, to the horrors of the arena
I said that John Carter held false beliefs about the Princess because it
seems that he has learned little about Dejah Thoris and her attraction
for Zodangans, for she was perfectly willing to choose a dishonorable alliance
with Zodanga once before with Sab Than, to the utter disbelief of Kantos
Kan, a loyal Heliumite.
“For a moment I was perplexed, but for a moment
only. The proud daughter of a thousand Jeddaks would choose death to a
dishonorable alliance such as this, nor could John Carter do less for Helium
than his Princess would do.
“Then I turned to Zat Arras.
“‘There can be no alliance,’ I said, ‘between
a traitor of Helium and a prince of the House of Tardos Mors. I do not
believe, Zat Arras, that the great Jeddak is dead.’” (GM/19.)
Of course, this time Carter may have been right since the Princess was
willing to take the pilgrimage down the River Iss rather than spend another
minute at the mercy of Zat Arras. What did Sab Than have that Zat Arras
didn’t? We’ll never know, but to Dejah Thoris, it made every inch of difference
in the world.
Zat Arras consigns Carter to the pits and that is where we end Part