6 -- The Gift of the Goddess
I was led into the palace and through a hallway that looked
as if it was made of an ivory-like substance, encrusted with gold. My guards
were firm but treated me with a degree of respect, no doubt due to the
prowess I had shown in staying ahead of the great ape and leaping their
At last we reached the throne room, where a princely man -- obviously
the city's Jeddak -- sat on a throne. I did a doubletake when I saw who
was sitting there next to him. It was my Hanna. And between them, in an
ornate incubator, was our egg!
"Hanna" I cried. "How'd you get here so fast?"
"Quiet, Thern," roared the Jeddak. "How dare you even speak to,
let alone look, in the direction of our Jeddara?"
"Whaddya mean, Jeddara," I protested. "She's my wife!"
Some kind of junior officer stepped up to me, sword drawn. "He
speaks blasphemies, my Jeddak. Shall I slay him now?"
"Maybe later," said the Jeddak. "I want to question him first.
What do you mean that she's your wife, stranger?" the Jeddak asked. "She
is our gift from the Goddess."
"The Goddess?" I said. "You mean Issus? Don't you know she was
exposed as a fraud?"
"Well, yeah, we know that," said the Jeddak. "But we thought
maybe there was someone who took her place, like maybe even this lady here.
She just popped onto the throneroom floor a few hours ago and she brought
us this fresh egg."
"I see you didn't waste any time getting it into an incubator,"
I said. "For that, I thank you. I'm the father of the child that's in that
The Jeddak guffawed. "You expect us to believe that?"
"Think about it," I said. "She...and by the way, her name is
Hanna...just appeared here magically, right? And how did I get here? By
doing something no Barsoom-born man can do, leaping higher, farther and
faster than anyone on your planet."
"You're forgetting about John Carter," sneered the Jeddak.
"You're forgetting that John Carter is from Earth, like me,"
"Aha, so you're from that other planet. Then you're not really
"You ever been to Earth?" I asked. "We have a planet full of
gods. Ever hear of Zeus, Hera, and a bunch of others? And we have some
movie starlets whom the press refers to as godesses. We have people all
over the place in Washington, D.C., who act like gods and goddesses."
"Hmmmmmm," said the Jeddak. "I guess I'd better bone up a little
on Earth. But then again, you might be lying. If you're a god, you'll know
that we have to be careful of impostors and take precautions. We'll lock
you in a cell. But don't worry. Since you say you're a god, it'll be a
Hanna spoke up for the first time. "My Jeddak," she interrupted.
"He speaks the truth. I tell you, as your goddess, that he is indeed a
true god from the planet Earth and you risk great misfortune if you so
treat him as a common pretender."
All right, all right," said the Jeddak. "I guess we'll have to
treat him a bit nicer. All right, Mr. god -- and by the way, what's your
"Fred Hornquist," I replied.
The Jeddak was taken aback. "There is no such name on Barsoom,"
he said to Hanna. "He may speak the truth. Only a god could have a name
that sounds that exotic."