THE MARTIAN OCEANS AND THEIR CITIES
The Eighth Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom
Part Three: Gathol, Horz...and Opar
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
Gathol is the oldest inhabited city upon Barsoom -- a statement Gahan of
Gathol makes to Tara of Helium at their first introduction (CM/1). Of course,
that was before the Orovars of Horz were discovered, and perhaps Gahan
was still ignorant of the Lotharians. But those cities contained the ancient
fair skinned race of Martians, whereas Gathol is inhabited by Red Martians.
distant Horz and
dark sea bottoms
of ochre haunted quays
Whispered seas of
bride of Doom.
– from the Chronicles of Gathol.
Thus, we can surmise that Gathol is the oldest Red Martian inhabited
city on Barsoom.
Gathol and Horz are prominent cities in the dead sea bottom of mighty
Throxeus, greatest of the five Martian oceans. Gathol, famous for her diamond
mines, and Horz, "the deserted seat of Barsoomian culture and learning."
(TMM/12.) So what does Opar, the hidden city in Tarzan’s Africa – the gold
colony of Atlantis – have to do with the dead Martian ocean cities? This
is a valid question, but as every reader of Barsoom and Tarzan must have
speculated, there seems to be an intuitive connection between Opar and
Barsoom even though never explicitly made by ERB.
We will present the evidence at the end of this study, and the reader
can draw his or her own conclusions. But, as you must have guessed by now,
I am one of the readers that advocates a direct relationship which may
be no more than a continuity in ERB's brain that worked itself out either
consciously and unconsciously in his fiction.
We first learn of Gathol when John Carter introduces his daughter, Tara
of Helium, to Gahan, Jed of Gathol, in The Chessmen of Mars, at
a midday function in her father's gardens. Tara is thinking of Djor Kantos,
son of Carter's closest friend, Kantos Kan. She has been reared to believe
that one day she would wed Djor Kantos because it had been the dearest
wish of the Warlord and Kantos Kan. But, as we shall see, Tara of Helium
is an independent thinker and not even her father chooses to be bound by
wishful desires when it comes to the personal fufillment of his daughter.
Tara bathes and receives a full body massage from her naked slave, Uthia,
then attends the function with some expectation. She is coming into full
womanhood a little slower than most women her age, but is starting to feel
She finds Djor Kantos flirting with one of her beautiful friends, Olvia
Marthis, daughter of the Jed of Hastor. Before Tara can confront them,
she is interrupted by the voice of her father:
“‘Tara of Helium!’ he called, and she
turned to see him approaching with a strange warrior whose harness and
metal bore devices with which she was unfamiliar. Even among the gorgeous
trappings of the men of Helium and the visitors from distant empires those
of the stranger were remarkable for their barbaric splendor. The leather
of his harness was completely hidden beneath ornaments of platinum thickly
set with brilliant diamonds, as were the scabbards of his swords and the
ornate holster that held his long, Martian pistol. Moving through the sunlit
garden at the side of the great Warlord, the scintillant rays of his countless
gems enveloping him as in an aureole of light imparted to his noble figure
a suggestion of godliness.
Did I mention that Tara of Helium is really hot? We can well imagine Gahan
of Gathol getting rather excited as his eyes feast on Tara’s breasts and
naked shoulders. We must give him credit for being able to recite a modest
history of Gathol to Tara for it must have been difficult for him to focus
his thoughts before such exquisite beauty.
“‘Tara of Helium, I bring you Gahan, Jed of Gathol,’
said John Carter, after the simple Barsoomian custom of presentation.
“‘Kaor! Gahan, Jed of Gahol,’ returned Tara of
“‘My sword is at your feet, Tara of Helium,’ said
the young chieftan.
“The Warlord left them and the two seated themselves
upon an ersite bench beneath a spreading sorapus tree.
“‘Far Gathol,’ mused the girl. ‘Ever in my mind
has it been connected with mystery and romance and the half-forgotten lore
of the ancients. I cannot think of Gathol as existing today, possibly because
I have never before seen a Gatholian.’
“‘And perhaps too because of the great distance
that separates Helium and Gathol, as well as the comparative insignificance
of my little free city, which might easily be lost in one corner of mighty
Helium,’ added Gahan. ‘But what we lack in power we make up in pride,’
he continued, laughing. ‘We believe ours the oldest inhabited city upon
Barsoom. It is one of the few that has retained its freedom, and this despite
the fact that its ancient diamond mines are the richest known and, unlike
practically all the other fields, are today apparently as inexhaustible
“‘Tell me of Gathol,’ urged the girl. ‘The very
thought fills me with interest,’ nor was it likely that the handsome face
of the young jed detracted anything from the glamor of far Gathol.
“Nor did Gahan seem displeased with the excuse
for further monopolizing the society of his fair companion. His eyes seem
chained to her exquisite features, from which they moved no further than
to a rounded breast, part hid beneath its jeweled covering, a naked shoulder
or the symmetry of a perfect arm, resplendent in barbaric magnificence.”
“‘Your ancient history has doubtless
told you that Gathol was built upon an island in Throxeus, mightiest of
the five oceans of old Barsoom. As the ocean receded Gathol crept down
the sides of the mountain, the summit of which was the island upon which
she had been built, until today she covers the slopes from the summit to
base, while the bowels of the great hill are honeycombed with the galleries
of her mines. Entirely surrounding us is a great salt marsh, which protects
us from invasion by land, while the rugged and ofttimes vertical topography
of our mountain renders the landing of hostile airships a precarious undertaking.’
Yes, leave it up to ERB to come up with a just system of slavery. Most
of his readers at the time could hardly have had any experience of the
practice of slavery as instituted in America before the Civil War. But
on Barsoom, slavery is the norm and Martians see nothing immoral about
it as a system of labor. ERB paints this picture not because he was a pro-slavery
“‘That, and your brave warriors?’ suggested the
“Gahan smiled. ‘We do not speak of that except
to enemies,’ he said, ‘and then with tongues of steel rather than of flesh.’
“‘But what practice in the art of war has a people
which nature has thus protected from attack?’ asked Tara of Helium, who
had liked the young jed’s answer to her previous question, but yet in whose
mind persisted a vague conviction of the possible effeminancy of her companion,
induced doubtless, by the magnificence of his trappings and weapons which
carried a suggestion of splendid show rather than grim utility.
“‘Our natural barriers, while they have doubtless
saved us from defeat on countless occasions, have not by any means rendered
us immune from attack,’ he explained, ‘for so great is the wealth of Gathol’s
diamond treasury that there yet may be found those who will risk almost
certain defeat in an effort to loot our unconquered city; so thus we may
find occasional practice in the exercise of arms; but there is more to
Gathol than the mountain city. My country extends from Polodona (Equator)
north ten karads and from the tenth karad west of Horz to the twentieth
west, including thus a million square haads, the greater proportion of
which is fine grazing land where run our great herds of thoats and zitadars.
“‘Surrounded as we are by predatory enemies our
herdsmen must indeed be warriors or we should have no herds, and you may
be assured they get plenty of fighting. Then there is our constant need
of workers in the mines. The Gaholians consider themselves a race of warriors
and as such prefer not to labor in the mines. The law is, however, that
each male Gatholian shall give an hour a day in labor to the government.
That is practically the only tax that is levied upon them. They prefer
however, to furnish a substitute to perform this labor, and as our own
people will not hire out for labor in the mines it has been necessary to
obtain slaves, and I do not need to tell you that slaves are not won without
fighting. We sell these slaves in the public market, the proceeds going,
half and half, to the government and the warriors who bring them in. The
purchasers are credited with the amount of labor performed by their particular
slaves. At the end of a year a good slave will have performed the labor
tax of his master for six years, and if slaves are plentiful he is freed
and permitted to return to his own people.’” (CM/1.)
as a writer creating an experience that had become alien to most Americans.
This is what it is like to have slavery without guilt, he seems to be saying.
Most judgmental moralists are outraged at this aspect of ERB's fiction,
but ERB could have cared less about being politically correct when it came
to telling a good story. The point ERB is making is that Gathol practices
a humane form of slavery in contradistinction to more barbaric practices
in the other Martian nations. Tara of Helium, however, changes the subject:
“‘You fight in platinum and diamonds?’
asked Tara, indicating his gorgeous trappings with a quizzical smile.
Yes, that Gahan of Gathol is a smooth one all right. But don’t get him
wrong: he is not just bragging about the fighting ability of the Gatholians.
There is a classic combination move in Jetan, Martian chess, named after
Gahan of Gathol. In fact, that move is the direct consequence of his having
to prove to Tara of Helium that he is no Gay Blade of the Barsoomian Hollywood,
“Gahan laughed. ‘We are a vain people,’ he admitted,
good-naturedly, ‘and it is possible that we place too much value on personal
appearances. We vie with one another in the splendor of our accoutrements
when trapped for the observance of the lighter duties of life, though when
we take the field our leather is the plainest I have ever seen worn by
fighting men of Barsoom. We pride ourselves, too, upon our physical beauty,
and especially upon the beauty of our women. May I dare say, Tara of Helium,
that I am hoping for the day when you will visit Gathol that my people
may see one who is really beautiful.’” (CM/1.)
which I always imagine Gahol to be from Gahan’s description of his
people. Tara is flattered, but she keeps her cool:
“‘The women of Helium are taught to frown with displeasure upon the
tongue of the flatterer,’ rejoined the girl, but Gahan, Jed of Gathol,
observed that she smiled as she said it.
“A bugle sounded, clear and sweet, above
the laughter and the talk. ‘The Dance of Barsoom!’ exclaimed the young
warrior. ‘I claim you for it, Tara of Helium.’” (CM/1.)
Tara had been anticipating dancing with Djor Kantos. She is between a rock
and a hard place when it comes to Martian custom and losing face among
her peers. Basically, she has been shunned by her beau at a critical moment
during the midday function, and not to be doubly dissed beyond endurance,
she accepts Gahan’s offer. Slaves go about the crowd distributing small
musical instruments of a single string; Djor Kantos realizes his mistake
and rushes to the princess, but she shuns him. He is too late. He obviously
has been taking the imperious princess for granted and is not worthy.
The Dance of Barsoom is a very 17th century elaborate kind of dance,
very boring, except for one position that Gahan uses to his advantage:
“Today, John Carter, Warlord of Mars,
with Dejah Thoris, his mate, led in the dancing, and if there was another
couple that vied with them in possession of the silent admiration of the
guests it was the resplendent Jed of Gathol and his beautiful partner.
In the ever-changing figures of the dance the man found himself now with
the girl’s hand in his and again with an arm about the lithe body that
the jeweled harness but inadequately covered, and the girl, though she
had danced a thousand dances in the past, realized for the first time the
personal contact of a man’s arm against her naked flesh. It troubled her
that she should notice it, and she looked up questioningly and almost with
displeasure at the man as though it was his fault. Their eyes met and she
saw in his that which she had never seen in the eyes of Djor Kantos. It
was at the very end of the dance and they both stopped suddenly with the
music and stood there looking straight into each other’s eyes. It was Gahan
of Gathol who spoke first.
There is a lot more going on that meets the eye in this scene. The thing
that disturbed Tara the most was something visible, something that her
ears refused to hear what was plainly before her eyes. Remember, except
for their harnesses, they are both naked.
“‘Tara of Helium, I love you,’ he said.
“The girl drew herself to her full height. ‘The
Jed of Gathol forgets himself,’ she exclaimed haughtily.
“‘The Jed of Gathol would forget everything but
you, Tara of Helium,’ he replied. Fiercely he pressed the soft hand that
he still retained from the last position of the dance. ‘I love you, Tara
of Helium,’ he repeated. ‘Why should your ears refuse to hear what your
eyes but just now did not refuse to see – and answer?’
“‘What meanest thou?’ she cried. ‘Are the men
of Gathol such boors, then?’
“‘They are neither boors nor fools,’ he replied
quietly. ‘They know when they love a woman – and when she loves them.’
“Tara of Helium stamped her little foot in anger.
‘Go!’ she said, ‘before it is necessary to acquaint by father with the
dishonor of her guest.’” (CM/1.)
Gahan is obviously in a highly aroused state and not ashamed to show
it. Tara experiences a sexual awakening during the dance when Gahan very
obviously cops a feel, sending a chill of arousal up the spine of Tara.
She sees something in the eyes of Gahan that she never saw in the eyes
of Djor Kantos. We all should be on the same page now.
Next to John Carter, Gahan of Gathol is the most dashing, bad-ass fighting
man on the planet of Barsoom. If John Carter is the Clark Gable of Barsoom,
Gahan of Gathol is its Errol Flynn. He’s the perfect match for Tara of
Helium. As it is, Tara is quite flustered and returns to her room:
“Tara of Helium did not return to her
father’s guests, but awaited in her own apartments the word from Djor Kantos
which she knew must come, begging her to return to the gardens. She would
then refuse, haughtily. But no appeal came from Djor Kantos. At first Tara
of Helium was angry, then she was hurt, and always she was puzzled. Occasionally
she thought of the Jed of Gathol and then she would stamp her foot, for
she was very angry indeed with Gahan. The presumption of the man! He had
insinuated that he read love for him in her eyes. Never had she been so
insulted and humiliated. Never had she so thoroughly hated a man. Suddenly
she turned toward Uthia.
Surely, this relationship involves more than friendship. They both love
each other and show it by their kisses for each other. That this involves
a lesbian affair is hinted at further by Tara’s threat to sell her to a
master of her liking – that is, to a man. In the end, Tara gets her way
and goes flying, trying to get the whole thing of being sexually attracted
to a man – a total stranger – out of her mind.
“‘My flying leather!’ she commanded.
“‘But the guests!’ exclaimed the slave girl. ‘Your
father, the Warlord, will expect you to return.’
“‘He will be disappointed,’ snapped Tara of Helium.
“The slave hesitated. ‘He does not approve of
your flying alone,’ she reminded her mistress.
“The young princess sprang to her feet and seized
the unhappy slave by the shoulders, shaking her. ‘You are becoming unbearable,
Uthia,’ she cried. ‘Soon there will be no alternative than to send you
to the public slave-market. Then possibly you will find a master to your
“Tears came to the soft eyes of the slave girl.
‘It is because I love you, my princess,’ she said softly. Tara of Helium
melted. She took the slave in her arms and kissed her.
“‘I have the disposition of a thoat, Uthia,’ she
said. ‘Forgive me! I love you and there is nothing that I would not do
for your and nothing would I do to harm you. Again, as I have so often
in the past, I offer you your freedom.’
“‘I do not wish my freedom if it will separate
me from you, Tara of Helium,’ replied Uthia. ‘I am happy here with you
– I think that I should die without you.’
“And the girls kissed again. ” (CM/2.)
“Far out across the ochre sea-bottoms
beyond the twin cities of Helium raced the swift flier of Tara of Helium.
Thrilling to the speed and the buoyancy and the obedience of the little
craft the girl drove toward the northeast. Why she should chose that direction
she did not pause to consider. Perhaps because in that direction lay the
least known areas of Barsoom, and, ergo, Romance, Mystery, and Adventure.
In that direction also lay far Gathol; but to that fact she gave no conscious
We learn that Uthia is unlikely Tara’s only lesbian lover. It appears that
she has also had relations with Olvia Marthis, Princess of Hastor. She
probably got her jealousy mixed up in her mind when she saw Djor Kantos
flirting with her lover, being not jealous of Olvia, but of Djor Kantos.
ERB was very much under the influence of Hollywood and its scandalous lifestyle
“She did, however, think occasionally of the jed
of that distant kingdom, but the reaction to these thoughts was scarcely
pleasurable. They still brought a flush of shame to her cheeks and a surge
of angry blood to her heart. She was very angry with the Jed of Gathol,
and though she should never see him again she was quite sure that hate
of him would remain fresh in her memory forever. Mostly her thoughts revolved
about another – Djor Kantos. And when she thought of him she thought also
of Olvia Marthis of Hastor. Tara of Helium thought that she was jealous
of the fair Olvia and it made her very angry to think that. She was angry
with Djor Kantos and herself, and she was not angry at all with Olvia Marthis,
whom she loved, and so of course she was not jealous really.
The trouble was, that Tara of Helium had failed
for once to have her own way. Djor Kantos had not come running like a willing
slave when she had expected him, and, ah, here was the rub of the whole
thing! Gahan, Jed of Gathol, a stranger, had been a witness to her humiliation.
He had seen her unclaimed at the beginning of a great function and he had
come to the rescue to save her, as he doubtless thought, from the inglorious
fate of a wall-flower. At the recurring thought, Tara of Helium could feel
her whole body burning with scarlet shame and then she went suddenly white
and cold with rage; whereupon she turned her flier about so abruptly that
she was all but torn from her lashings upon the flat, narrow deck.” (CM/2.)
time he wrote this novel. He also pushed the envelope of censorship
in this book and got away with one of the most bizarre near rape scenes
in fiction: Tara’s molestation by a headless Rykor while its Kaldane master
looks on in voyeuristic joy.
That Tara got her jealousy mixed up in her mind is something of which
ERB was aware. He knew enough about psychology to know that often people
misread their emotions. Tara has fallen for Gahan but refuses to recognize
the truth. After all, he is not only a man but a dandy. She returns for
dinner and discovers that her parents are upset for her leaving the midday
function, letting down the guests. Carter mildly rebukes her.
“The girl rose, and came and stood beside
him and put her arms about his neck.
I must point out the heightened sexuality in this passage. Sure, it is
innocent fatherdaughter touching, but it involves intimate touching. Remember,
they are both naked, wearing at most formal dining harnesses. When she
wraps her arms around her father’s neck, her breasts are likely touching
his face. She rumples his hair and he threatens to spank her, which at
her age would constitute a semi-sexual act.
“‘My proper old Virginian,’ she cried, rumpling
his shock of black hair.
“‘In Virginia you would be turned over your father’s
knee and spanked,’ said the man, smiling.
“She crept into his lap and kissed him. ‘You do
not love me any more,’ she announced. ‘No one loves me,’ but she could
not compose her features into a pout because bubbling laughter insisted
upon breaking through.
“‘The trouble is there are too many who love you,’
he said. ‘And now there is another.’
“‘Indeed!” she cried. ‘What do you mean?’
“‘Gahan of Gathol has asked permission to woo
“The girl sat up very straight and tilted her
chin in the air. ‘I would not wed with a walking diamond-mine,’ she said.
‘I will not have him.’
“‘I told him as much,’ replied her father, ‘and
that you were as good as betrothed to another. He was very courteous about
it; but at the same time he gave me to understand that he was accustomed
to getting what he wanted and that he wanted you very much. I suppose it
will mean another war. Your mother’s beauty kept Helium at war for many
years and – well, Tara of Helium, if I were a young man I should doubtless
be willling to set all Barsoom afire to win you, as I still would to keep
your divine mother,’ and he smiled across the sorapus table and its golden
service at the undimmed beauty of Mars’s most beautiful woman.’” (CM/2.)
She responds by crawling into his lap and kissing him. Both of their
genitalia are exposed and we can well imagine a certain amount of groin
to groin touching at this point, especially when she sits up straight in
his lap at the news that Gahan desires to woo her.
She protests that no one loves her, but she cannot pout because of a
bubbling of laughter. What caused the bubbling of laughter? Was it the
folly of her words, or, perhaps was it because her father reacted in an
improper manner. The latter receives credence when her father then tells
her that if he were a young man he would set the whole planet on fire to
win her. Well, you get
Normally, I would say I was reading way more into this than meets the
eye, but when you consider that the novel opens with Tara wearing only
a transparent silk scarf, which she swiftly removes to take a bath, after
which, still naked, her whole body is massaged by Uthia, a beautiful naked
slave girl whom Tara doesn’t hesitate to kiss, then this is far from a
normal story and
situation. Then she meets Gahan, whose eyes don’t hesitate to feast
on her breasts, which he soon gets to feel during the dance. It is not
hard to imagine both Gahan and Carter getting erections under these circumstances.
Dejah Thoris intervenes assuring Tara that in the end she will marry
Djor Kantos and that will be that. But Tara doesn’t think so:
“‘No,’ said the girl, ‘the subject irks
me, and I shall not marry Djor Kantos, or another – I do not intend to
She leaves her parents who play a game of jetan, then returns to her room
and her silks and furs, and, of course, to the warm arms of Uthia. She
awakens the next morning while the worst storm in Barsoomian history is
raging outside with Uthia still in bed with her:
“Her father and mother looked at her and smiled.
‘When Gahan of Gathol returns he may carry you off,’ said the former.”
“At this hour of the day it was her custom
to ride one of those small thoats that are the saddle animals of the red
Martians, but the sight of the billowing clouds lured her to a new adventure.
Uthia still slept and the girl did not disturb her.” (CM/2.)
As you can see, this is another very adult novel, bawdy beneath the surface.
Tara will go on to be nearly raped by almost as many men and creatures
as Thuvia. By the way, while corresponding with ERB expert, R.E. Prindle,
I discovered that ERB wrote Thuvia, Maid of Mars, between April
1914 and June 20, 1914, not in 1915 like I mistakenly stated in the previous
article on Aaanthor, Torquas, and Lothar. I also learned that ERB suggested
it be titled, Carthoris.
Anyway, getting back to the sexual nature of Tara, when Gahan of Gathol,
as Turan the Panthan, finallly wins Tara of Helium in the end – with her
believing she has been immoral in abandoning Martian custom for the love
of a Panthan – there is no certainty that she is still a virgin. But Gahan
has been with her all along for the ride, so knows what kind of woman he
We learn additional minutia about Gathol in Llana of Gathol, the tenth,
and, in my opinion, the last true Barsoomian novel. In chapter 1 of the
second book of the novel, “The Black Pirates of Mars,” we discover that
Gathol is southwest of Horz, the ancient seat of Martian learning and culture.
At the beginning of chapter 3 of the third book, “Escape from Mars,” ERB
gives us a recapitulation of Gathol:
“Gathol is supposed by many to be the
oldest inhabited city on Mars, and is one of the few that has retained
its freedom; and that despite the fact that its ancient diamond mines are
the richest known and, unlike practically all the other diamond fields,
are today apparently as inexhaustible as ever.
John Carter, Pan Dan Chee – the Orovar from Horz – Llana of Gathol, and
the brother of Janai of Amhor, have all escaped from Kamtol in the Valley
of the First Born in a swift flier and approach the boundaries of Gathol:
“In ancient times the city was built upon an island
in Throxeus, mightiest of the five oceans of old Barsoom. As the ocean
receded, Gathol crept down the sides of the mountain, the summit of which
was the island on which she had been built, until today she covers the
slopes from summit to base, while the bowels of the great hill are honeycombed
with the galleries of her mines.
“Entirely surrounding Gathol is a great salt marsh,
which protects it from invasion by land, while the rugged and ofttimes
vertical topography of the mountain renders the landing of hostile airships
a precarious undertaking.
“Gahan, the father of Llana, is jed of Gathol,
which is very much more than just a single city, comprising, as it does,
some one hundred forty thousand square miles, much of which is fine grazing
land where run their great herds of thoats and zitidars.” (LG/III-1.)
“We approached Gathol shortly before
dawn. Neither moon was in the sky, and it was comparatively dark. The city
was dark, too; I saw not a single light. That was strange, and might forebode
ill; for Martian cities are not ordinarily darkened except in times of
war when they may be threatened by an enemy.
Gathol is under siege by Hin Abtol, the Panar from Okar, who had originally
abducted Llana and stranded her in Horz. They are forced to land by a Panarian
ship shoots a hole in their buoyancy tank.
“Llana came out of the tiny cabin and crouched
on the deck beside me.
‘That looks ominous,’ she said.
“‘It does to me, too,’ I agreed; ‘and I’m going
to stand off until daylight. I want to see what’s going on before I attempt
“‘Look over there,’ said Llana, pointing to the
right of the black mass of the mountain; ‘see all those lights.’
“‘The camp fires of the herdsmen, possibly,’ I
“‘There are too many of them,’ said Llana.” (LG/III-1.)
“That was a good little ship – staunch
and swift, as are all the ships of the Black Pirates of Barsoom – and it
carried us past the furthest camp fires before it finally settled to the
ground just before dawn. We were close to a small forest of sorapus trees,
and I thought it was best to take shelter there until we could reconnoiter
“I walked into the forest, looking for roots or
herbs and that life giving plant, the mantalia, the milklike sap of which
has saved me from death by thirst or starvation on many an occasion. But
that forest seemed to be peculiarly barren of all forms of edible things,
and I passed all the way through it and out upon the other side without
finding anything that even a starving man would try to eat.
“Beyond the forest, I saw some low hills; and
that gave me renewed hope, as in some little ravine, where moisture might
be held longest, I should doubtless find something worth taking back to
my companions.” (LG/III-2.)
Carter is captured by a Gatholian patrol and taken to their camp:
“After about half an hour they entered
another grove of sorapus, and presently came to a cluster of the rude huts
used by the warrior-herdsmen of Gathol. Here was the remainder of the troop
to which my captors belonged. These herdsmen are the warriors of Gathol,
being divided into regular military units. This one was a utan of a hundred
men commanded by a dwar, with two padwars, or lieutenants under him. They
remain on this duty for one month, which is equivalent to about seventy
days of Earth time; then they are relieved and return to Gathol city.”
Gan Hor, the dwar of the troop, discusses the situation with Carter:
“‘And now,’ I said, ‘tell me what is
happening to Gathol. The fact that we were attacked last night, coupled
with the ring of camp fires encircling the city, suggests that Gathol is
besieged by an enemy.’
Gahan is no exception as a fighting Gatholian. They defeated an air attack
by thousands of enemy soldiers in the streets and rooftops in a battle
that lasted an entire day. Her herdsmen warriors don’t hesitate to constantly
harrass the encamped enemy outside of the mountain city. These guys are
wealthy and good looking, but they are mean, tough, brave warriors when
“‘You are right,’ replied Gan Hor; ‘Gathol is
surrounded by the troops of Hin Abtol, who styles himself Jeddak of Jeddaks
of the North. He came here some time ago in an ancient and obsolete flier,
but as he came in peace he was treated as an honored guest by Gahan. They
say that he proved himself an egotistical braggart and an insufferable
boor, and ended by demanding that Gahan give him Llana as a wife – he already
had seven, he boasted.
“‘Of course, Gahan told him that Llana of Gathol
would chose her own mate; and when Llana refused his proposal, he threatened
to come back and take her by force. Then he went away, and the next day
our Princess started out for Helium on a ship with twenty-five members
of her personal guard. She never reached Helium, nor has she been seen
nor heard of since, until you just told me that she is alive and has returned
“‘But we soon heard from Hin Abtol. He came back
with a large fleet of the most ancient and obsolete fliers that I have
ever seen; some of his ships must be over a hundred years old. Hin Abtol
came back, and he demanded the surrender of Gathol.
“‘His ships were crammed with warriors, thousands
of whom leaped overboard and descended upon the city with equilibrimotors.
There was fighting in the avenues and upon the roofs of buildings all of
one day, but we eventually destroyed or made prisoners of all of them;
so, finding that he could not take the city by storm, Hin Abtol laid siege
“‘He has sent all but a few of his ships away,
and we believe that they have returned to the frozen north for reinforcements.
We who were on herd duty at the beginning of the investment are unable
to return to the city, but we are continually harrasssing the warriors
of Hin Abtol who are encamped upon the plain.’
“‘So they are using equilibrimotors,’ I said;
‘it seems strange that peoples from the frozen north should have these.
They were absolutely unknown in Okar when I was there.’
“The equilibrimotor is an ingenious device for
individual flying. It consists of a broad belt, not unlike the life belt
used aboard passenger ships on Earth; the belt is filled with the eighth
Barsoomian ray, or ray of propulsion, to a sufficient degree to equalize
the pull of gravity and thus to maintain a person in equilibrium between
that force and the opposite force exerted by the eighth ray. Attached to
the back of the belt is a small radium motor, the controls for which are
on the front of the belt; while rigidly attached to and projecting from
the upper rim of the belt is a strong, light wing with small hand levers
for quickly altering its position. I could understand that they might prove
very effective for landing enemy troops in the enemy city by night.
“I had listened to Gan Hor with feelings of the
deepest concern, for I knew that Gathol was not a powerful country and
that a long and persistent siege must assuredly reduce it unless outside
help came. Gathol depends for its food supplies upon the plains which comprise
practically all of its territory. The far northwest corner of the country
is cut by one of Barsoom’s famous canals; and here the grains, and vegetables,
and fruits which supply the city are raised; while upon her plains graze
the herds which supply her with meat. An enemy surrounding the city would
cut off all these supplies; and while Gahan doubtless had reserves stored
in the city, they could not last indefinitely.” (LG/III-3.)
comes to shove. That about wraps up the information we have about the
land of Gathol and its fabled history. And now let us journey to Horz (pronounced,
"whores"), where Hin Abtol has left Llana stranded.
Continued in ERBzine 3318a