Official Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute and Weekly Webzine Site
Since 1996 ~ Over 10,000 Web Pages in Archive
Volume 2253
From the Danton Burroughs/John Coleman Burroughs Archive Site
Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter®of Mars


53. "STRANGE FRIENDS" -- Dec. 6, '42
(read novelization

P1: All day the great plant hopped along toward the valley of the feathered forest where, it assured John Carter, they would find Dejah Thoris. 

P2: That night as they ate, Carter asked the plant king how it had known of the pirincess or her whereabouts. 

P3: "Through our roots," explained the king. "We plants keep in touch with each other. We possess far greater knowledge than most realize." 

P4: Carter found consolation in memories of Dejah Thoris and Woola. Perhaps tomorrow he would know the girl's fate. 

P5: Next day found them deep in the feathered forest. Herelived the giant chicken men of Mars who had abducted the princess. 

P6: Finally the Earthman heard the sound of cackling voices and the rumble of giant footsteps. 

P7: The plant king took to the trees and at last they looked down upon a thatched village sprawled in a clearing of the forest. 


1. Compare 


Novelization of the JCB strip by Dale R. Broadhurst

Sola had watched the sleepers all day. Several times she had put her face to their glass cases, afraid that they had stopped breathing, but each time she had detected the subtle signs of respiration -- and even a slight rising and falling in certain blood vessels near the surface of their skin. She also saw other indications of life and movement, especially with Dotar Sojat. The green girl was certain that he was becoming more active as the hours passed. Surely that must be a good sign -- she hoped. 

Again and again she had attempted to tune in on the sleepers' thoughts, but each time she came away from the mental endeavor with practically nothing to show for her efforts. She practiced on Woola, who was wont to nap on warm afternoons and found that she could discern sleeping calot thoughts, after a fashion. But of course a dreaming Martian watchdog does not project very detailed or interesting thoughts. 

Finally, when the sun had disappeared behind the trees, the girl ate the small meal she had brought with her. Then she curled her long body into the warmth of the beast's eight-legged embrace, and thus protected from the night's chill she prepared to doze and wait for the morning. 

Sola of Thark knew no gods and she offered no prayers. But in her heart of hearts she hoped fervently for her friends' recovery -- and that unspoken ardent hope she shared to the flowers, and to the trees, and to the undying stars. 

The plant king was feeling wondrously amused, listening to John Carter talk about life on the planet he called "Earth." The unlikely pair sat beside a warming fire and talked and ate. The plant king's method of ingesting food struck the Virginian as just a little removed from vulgar, but he said nothing when the king sucked up Carter's discarded fruit peels and seed cores though the bottom of its stem. 

"Tell me again about how you fought at the Battle of New Orleans, and when you survived the steamboat explosion at Nauvoo, and how your dual with Jim Bowie ended!" the plant king insisted. 

But Captain Carter had a question of his own. 

"You spoke earlier about learning things through your roots. You hinted that you had learned something about the red princess or her whereabouts that way. Can you explain it?" 

"No -- not to a creature with no roots of its own; I can't explain anything. And besides that, you've cut mine off, you know. Oh, but I asked you to, didn't I? This wretched stem bottom does a terrible job at root work; I'll tell you that. But no matter, I'll plant myself firmly back in the ground once this adventure is concluded. Yes, you should have some roots, Jasoomian. Without roots, how can you connect? You're just a single being without roots and connections -- and that's no good. We plants keep in touch that way with each other. You'd be surprised what we share. We possess far greater knowledge than you animals could ever realize." 

"To you I'm just an animal?" Captain Carter asked incredulously

"Yes, but don't be sad about it," the plant king responded. "I have friends among the animals and some of them are very funny. My friends the animals -- my friend the Jasoomian! It's really quite marvelous, don't you agree? If you only had roots, then you would know what it means to be connected. Why, at this very moment I'm conversing with a usalob in Kaol and a sompus seed that has just sprouted on the banks of the Omean. And I'd do more than that if this new stem bottom would grow a few root hairs of its own. I must take my instructional duties among the new generation very seriously, you know." 

"Yes, I am certain that you must." Carter replied. 

"Jasoomian, you seem to lose track of this princess of yours far too often. If you were truly connected, you would not have to go searching for her. She would be with you right now. You cannot understand, can you? That is because you are not connected. You have no roots but still you are a very decent fellow. Very decent of you to make the fire for us. It's been ages since I spent the night with my petals open!" 

The king drifted off into a speechless reverie that John Carter took to be the plants' way of spending the night. As for Captain Carter, he slept fitfully. Several time he awoke during the night and found his thoughts turning to memories of Dejah Thoris, Sola and Woola. The plant king's conversation was mostly mindless chatter, as far as the swordsman was concerned, but each time he had used the word "connection" the talking plant had struck a resonant chord in the Earthman's heart. 

He thought back to that first night after their escape from Thark, when Dejah Thoris had teased him about the women on Earth. Then he had longed to tell her, that with the hundred and more females who had passed through his life, during the ages he had spent on the blue planet, none had ever remained for very long. In all those ages had never experienced anything beyond a passing interest or a transient affection. He had never married; and he had never loved -- until he reached Mars. 

"Tomorrow I will know her fate," the Virginian mused. "If she lives -- she must yet live! -- I will tell her of my 'connection.'" 

John Carter slept with his sword in his hand. At dawn the laughing of the plant king awakened him from a very strange dream. He had dreamt that he gazed through the transparent cover of a Thark incubator and saw inside a single broken egg. A little green hand was reaching out to him, but he could not touch the hatchling -- an invisible barrier held him back. 

That morning found the rider and his nonsensical mount deep in the feathered forest. On every side long leaves in the shape of plumage hung down from a strange species of gnarled trees that Carter did not recognize. With passing minute the woods grew darker and more foreboding. 

Here lived the giant bird-men who had abducted the princess. The Earthman's receptive telepathy sensed their cackling voices and so did the plant king. The two of them took to the trees and from a hiding place among the feathery leaves they looked down upon a thatched village sprawled in a clearing of the forest. For a brief moment Carter saw below them the moving form of a woman -- the Princess of Helium! 


The Fantastic Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERBzine Weekly Webzine
Danton Burroughs Website: Tarzana Treasure Vaults
Burroughs Bibliophiles
John Coleman Burroughs Tribute Site
Tarzine: Official Monthly Webzine of ERB, Inc.
John Carter of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs
ERBzine Weekly Webzine
Weekly Webzine
Danton Burroughs Weekly Webzine
Weekly Webzine

Visit our thousands of other sites at:
ERB Text, ERB Images John Carter® and Tarzan® are ©Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
All Original Work ©1996-2009 by Bill Hillman and/or Contributing Authors/Owners
No part of this web site may be reproduced without permission from the respective owners.