THE GREEN HORDES OF MARS
The Eleventh Runner-Up in the Seven Wonders of Barsoom
Woodrow Edgar Nichols, Jr.
A) Tars Tarkas and the Tharks (continued)
Yes, it is true “that the Green Martians are absolutely virtuous”
– and then there are exceptions that make the absolutism of the previous
statement absurd. The truth of the reality is what gears John Carter up
to make haste to his escape, for he cannot imagine the perverse Green Martian
Jeddak having sexual relations with his princess. And that is the situation
he faces as the tribe gets ready to set out for Thark.
The degeneracy of Tal Hajus indeed drives the plot from here on out
for the next chapter, for if he is the Jeddak of the Tharks, it can be
assured that his behavior is a role model in the community. Why would ERB
have gone through the trouble of telling us that the Green Hordes were
absolutely virtuous when in reality they were not? If you guessed uptight
literary censorship, you are absolutely right.
ERB got away with a lot by just asserting that everyone is naked on
Mars. If he wants his stories to be published in a time of Puritan prudery
and Victorian morality, he must walk a tightrope. He must always appear
to have not meant what is implied in the text. Moreover, by making the
denial when he does, he is preparing the reader for a really perverse episode
that is coming; just like he does whenever he denies that John Carter is
a ladies man.
Anyway, we can see why Lorquas Ptomel’s advice was so portentous in
the next episode, where Carter is challenged to a duel, for, as noted,
personal combat is one of the two reasons the Green Horde can dispose of
him without angering Tal Hajus.
“The morning of our departure for Thark
dawned clear and hot, as do all Martian mornings except for the six weeks
when the snow melts at the poles.
Carter wants to make sure his princess is comfortable but discovers that
she is chained by one ankle to the chariot. He demands to know the reason
and is told that Sarkoja thought it best.
“I sought out Dejah Thoris in the throng of departing
chariots, but she turned her shoulder to me, and I could see the red blood
mount to her cheek.” (PM/14.)
He examines the manacle and finds that it has a massive spring lock.
“‘Where is the key, Sola? Let me have
Dejah Thoris continues to give John Carter the cold shoulder for presuming
that he had won her for his own, another misunderstanding he has made with
the strange culture. He inquires of Sola for her reasons and is told that
he has humiliated the daughter of a jed and the granddaughter of jeddak
and now regards him as a creature that is not worthy to polish the teeth
“‘Sarkoja wears it, John Carter,’ she answered.
“I turned without further word and sought out
Tars Tarkas, to whom I vehemently objected to the unnecessary humiliations
and cruelties, as they seemed to my lover’s eyes, that were being heaped
upon Dejah Thoris.
“‘John Carter,’ he answered, ‘if ever you and
Dejah Thoris escape the Tharks it will be upon this journey. We know that
you will not go without her. You have shown yourself a mighty fighter,
and we do not wish to manacle you, so we hold you both in the easiest way
that will ensure security. I have spoken.’
“I saw the strength of his reasoning at a flash,
and knew it were futile to appeal from his decision, but I asked that the
key be taken from Sarkoja and that she be directed to leave the prisoner
alone in the future.
“‘This much, Tars Tarkas, you may do for me in
return for the friendship that, I must confess, I feel for you.’
“‘Friendship?’ he replied. ‘There is no such thing,
John Carter; but have your will. I shall direct that Sarkoja cease to annoy
the girl, and I myself will take custody of the key.’
“‘Unless you wish me to assume the responsibility,’
I said, smiling.
“He looked at me long and earnestly before he
“‘Were you to give me your word that neither you
nor Dejah Thoris would attempt to escape until after we have safely reached
the court of Tal Hajus you might have the key and throw the chains in the
“‘It were better that you held the key, Tars Tarkas,’
“He smiled, and said no more; but that night as
we were making camp I saw him unfasten Dejah Thoris’ fetters himself.
“With all his cruel ferocity and coldness there
was an undercurrent of something in Tars Tarkas which he seemed ever battling
to subdue. Could it be a vestige of some human instinct come back from
an ancient forebear to haunt him
with the horror of his people’s ways!
“As I was approaching Dejah Thoris’ chariot I
passed Sarkoja, and the black, venomous look she accorded me was the sweetest
balm I had felt for many hours. Lord, how she hated me! It bristled from
her so palpably that one might almost have cut it with a sword.
“A few moments later I saw her deep in conversation
with a warrior named Zad; a big, hulking, powerful brute, but one who had
never made a kill among his own chieftans, and so was still an o mad, or
man with one name; he could win a second name only with the metal of some
chieftan. It was this custom which entitled me to the names of either of
the chieftans I had killed; in fact, some of the warriors addressed me
as Dotar Sojat, a combination of the surnames of the two warrior chieftans
whose metal I had taken, or, in other words, whom I had slain in fair fight.
“As Sarkoja talked with Zad he cast occasional
glances in my direction, while she seemed to be urging him very strongly
to some action. I paid little attention to it at the time, but the next
day I had good reason to recall the circumstances, and at the same time
gain a slight insight into the depths of Sarkoja’s hatred and the lengths
to which she was capable of going to wreak her horrible vengeance on me.”
of her grandmother’s sorak, a domesticated animal like an earthly cat.
He returns to his furs and silks depressed, but on pondering the matter,
laughs himself to sleep.
“We broke camp the next day at an early
hour and marched with only a single halt until just before dark. Two incidents
broke the tediousness of the march. About noon we espied far to our right
what was evidently an incubator, and Lorquas Ptomel directed Tars Tarkas
to investigate it. The latter took a dozen warriors, including myself,
as we raced across the velvety carpeting of moss to the little enclosure.
Since the Green Martian women are over twice the size of a normal Red Martian
woman, we can safely deduce that the size of a Red Martian egg would be
about the same size as a chicken egg, meaning the women would show little
signs of pregnancy, or go through little pain in laying an egg.
“It was indeed an incubator, but the eggs were
very small in comparison with those I had seen hatching in ours at the
time of my arrival on Mars.
“Tars Tarkas dismounted and examined the enclosure
minutely, finally announcing that it belonged to the green men of
Warhoon and that the cement was scarcely dry
where it had been walled up.
“They cannot be a day’s march ahead of us,’ he
exclaimed, the light of battle leaping to his fierce face.
“The work at the incubator was short indeed. The
warriors tore open the entrance and a couple of them, crawling in, soon
demolished all the eggs with their short-swords. Then remounting we dashed
back to join the cavalcade. During the ride back I took occasion to ask
Tars Tarkas if these Warhoons whose eggs we had destroyed were a smaller
people than his Tharks.
“‘I noticed that their eggs were so much smaller
than those I saw hatching in your incubator,’ I added.
“He explained that the eggs had just been place
there; but, like all green Martian eggs, they would grow during the five-year
period of incubation until they obtained the size of those I had seen hatching
on the day of my arrival on Barsoom. This was indeed an interesting piece
of information, for it had always seemed remarkable to me that the green
Martian women, large as they were, could bring forth such enormous eggs
as I had seen the four-foot infants emerging from.
“As a matter of fact, the new-laid egg is but
little larger than an ordinary goose egg, and as it does not commence to
grow until subjected to the light of the sun the chieftans have little
difficulty in transporting several hundreds of them at one time from the
storage vaults to the incubators.” (PM/14.)
One must recall that ERB already had two children and another on the
way when he wrote this famous story. One can only imagine, as most father’s
do who remain with their wives during this period, the discomfort and hassle
a man must endure watching his wife balloon out and the interference with
his sex life the whole process demands. ERB is imagining a world
where pregnancy and birth hardly affect the beauty of an undisturbed
“Shortly after the incident of the Warhoon
eggs we halted to rest the animals, and it was during this halt that the
second of the day’s interesting episodes occurred. I was engaged in changing
my riding cloths from one of my thoats to the other, for I divided the
day’s work between them, when Zad approached me, and without a word struck
my animal a terrific blow with his
Carter discovers that Dejah Thoris is not injured; Sola had placed herself
between Sarkoja and the princess and had instead received the dagger thrust,
but she was only was only nicked by the blade since her breast ornament
deflected it. Dejah Thoris is actually crying in false belief that Carter
is dead, and it renews his hope that she does really love him in return.
“I did not need a manual of green Martian etiquette
to know what reply to make, for, in fact, I was so wild with anger that
I could scarcely refrain from drawing my pistol and shooting him down for
the brute he was; but he stood waiting with his drawn long-sword, and my
only choice was to draw my own and meet him in fair fight with his choice
of weapons or a lesser one.
“This latter alternative is always permissible,
therefore I could have used my short-sword, my dagger, my hatchet, or my
fists had I wished, and been entirely within my rights, but I could not
use firearms or a spear while he held only his long-sword.
“I chose the same weapon he had drawn because
I knew he prided himself upon his ability with it, and I wished, if I worried
him at all, to do it with his own weapon. The fight that followed was a
long one and delayed the resumption of the march for an hour. The entire
community surrounded us, leaving a clear space about one hundred feet in
diameter for our battle.
“Zad first attempted to rush me down as a bull
might a wolf, but I was much too quick for him, and each time I side-stepped
his rushes he would go lunging past me, only to receive a nick from my
sword upon his arm or back. He was soon streaming blood from a half dozen
minor wounds, but I could not obtain an opening to deliver an effective
thrust. Then he changed his tactics, and
fighting warily and with extreme dexterity, he
tried to do by science what he was unable to do by brute strength. I must
admit that he was a magnificent swordsman, and had it not been for my greater
endurance and the remarkable agility the lesser gravity of Mars lent me
I might not have been able to put up the credible fight I did against him.
“We circled for some time without doing much damage
on either side; the long, straight, needle-like swords flashing in the
sunlight, and ringing out upon the stillness as they crashed together with
each effective parry. Finally Zad, realizing that he was tiring more than
I, evidently decided to close in and end the battle in a final blaze of
glory for himself; just as he rushed me a blinding flash of light struck
full in my eyes so that I could not see his approach and could only leap
blindly to one side in an effort to escape the mighty blade that it seemed
that I could already feel in my vitals. I was only partially successful,
as a sharp pain in my left shoulder attested, but in the sweep of my glance
as I sought to again locate my adversary, a sight met my astonished gaze
which paid me well for the wound the temporary blindness had caused me.
There, upon Dejah Thoris’ chariot stood three figures, for the purpose
evidently of witnessing the encounter above the heads of the intervening
Tharks. There were Dejah Thoris, Sola, and Sarkoja, and as my fleeting
glance swept over them a little tableau was presented which will stand
graven in my memory to the day of my death.
“As I looked, Dejah Thoris turned upon Sarkoja
with the fury of a young tigress and struck something from her upraised
hand; something which flashed in the sunlight as it spun to the ground.
Then I knew what had blinded me at that crucial moment of the fight, and
how Sarkoja had found a way to kill me without herself delivering the final
thrust. Another thing I saw, too, which almost lost my life for me then
and there, for it took my mind for the fraction of an instant entirely
from my antagonist; for, as Dejah Thoris struck the tiny mirror from her
hand, Sarkoja, her face livid with hatred and baffled rage, whipped out
her dagger and aimed a terrific blow at Dejah Thoris; and then Sola, our
dear and faithful Sola, sprang between them; the last thing I saw was the
great knife descending upon her shielding breast.
“My enemy had recovered from his thrust and was
making it extremely interesting for me, so I reluctantly gave my attention
to the work in hand, but my mind was not upon the battle.
“We rushed each other furiously time after time,
‘til suddenly, feeling the sharp point of his sword at my breast in a thrust
I could neither parry nor escape, I threw myself upon him with outstretched
sword and with all the weight of my body, determined that I would not die
alone if I could prevent it. I felt the steel tear into my chest, all went
black before me, my head whirled in dizziness, and I felt my knees giving
“When consciousness returned, and, as I soon learned,
I was down but a moment, I sprang quickly to my feet searching for my sword,
and there I found it, buried to the hilt in the green breast of Zad, who
lay stone dead upon the ochre moss of the ancient sea bottom. As I regained
my full senses I found his weapon piercing my left breast, but only through
the flesh and muscles which cover my ribs, emerging near the center of
my chest and coming out below the shoulder. As I had lunged I had turned
so that his sword merely passed beneath the muscles, inflicting a painful
but not dangerous wound.
“Removing the blade from my body I also regained
my own, and turning my back upon his ugly carcass, I moved, sick, sore,
and disgusted, toward the chariots which bore my retinue and my belongings.
A murmur of Martian applause greeted me, but I cared not for it.
“Bleeding and weak I reached my women, who, accustomed
to such happenings, dressed my wounds, applying the wonderful healing and
remedial agents which make only the most instantaneous of death blows fatal.
Give a Martian woman a chance and death must take a back seat. They soon
had me patched up so that, execpt for weakness from loss of blood and a
little soreness around the wound, I suffered no great distress from this
thrust which, under earthly treatment, undoubtedly would have put me flat
on my back for days.” (PM/14-15.)
Sola discuss the sight of tears, rare on Barsoom:
“‘Tears are a strange sight on Barsoom,’
she continued, ‘and so it is difficult for me to interpret them. I have
seen but two people weep in all my life, other than Dejah Thoris; one wept
from sorrow, the other from baffled rage. The first was my mother, years
ago before they killed her; the other was Sarkoja, when they dragged her
from me today.
Then comes one of my favorite descriptions, which reminds me of many samarai
movies and even the Phantom Menace, when Jar Jar Binks’ people emerge out
of the fog to do battle with the robot army.
“‘Your mother!’ I exclaimed, ‘but, Sola, you could
not have known your mother, child.’
“‘But I did. And my father also,’ she added. ‘If
you would like to hear the strange and un-Barsoomian story come to the
chariot tonight, John Carter, and I will tell you that of which I have
never spoken in all my life before. And now the signal has been given to
resume the march, you must go.’
“‘I will come tonight, Sola,’ I promised. ‘Be
sure to tell Dejah Thoris I am alive and well. I shall not force myself
upon her, and be sure that you do not let her know I saw her tears. If
she would speak with me I but await for her command.” (PM/15.)
“We made a most imposing and awe-inspiring
spectacle as we strung out across the yellow landscape; the two hundred
and fifty ornate and brightly colored chariots, preceded by an advance
guard of some two hundred mounted warriors and chieftans riding five abreast
and one hundred yards apart, and followed by a like number in the same
formation, with a score or more of flankers on either side; the fifty extra
mastadons, or heavy draught animals, known as zitidars, and the five or
six hundred extra thoats of the warriors running loose within the hollow
square formed by the surrounding warriors. The gleaming metal and jewels
of the gorgeous ornaments of the men and women, duplicated in the trappings
of the zitidars and thoats, and interspersed with the flashing colors of
magnificent silks and furs and feathers, lent a barbaric splendor to the
caravan which would have turned an East Indian potentate green with envy.
Carter seeks out Sola that evening and she tells him her strange tale.
“The enormous broad tires of the chariots and
the padded feet of the animals brought forth no sound from the moss-covered
sea bottom; and so we moved in utter silence, like some huge phantasmagoria,
except when the stillness was broken by the gutteral growling of a goaded
zitidar, or the squealing of fighting thoats. The green Martians converse
but little, and then usually in monosyllables, low and like the faint rumbling
of distant thunder.
“We traversed a trackless waste of moss which,
bending to the pressure of broad tire or padded foot, rose up again behind
us, leaving no sign that we had passed. We might indeed have been the wraiths
of the departed dead upon the dead sea of that dying planet for all the
sound or sign we made in passing. It was the first march of a large body
of men and animals I had ever witnessed which raised no dust and left no
spoor; for there is no dust upon Mars except in the cultivated districts
during the winter months, and even then the absence of high winds renders
it almost unnoticeable.
“We camped that night at the foot of the hills
we had been approaching for two days and which marked the southern boundary
of this particular sea. Our animals had been two days without drink, nor
had they had water for nearly two months, not since shortly after leaving
Thark; but, as Tars Tarkas explained to me, they require but little and
can live almost indefinitely upon the moss which covers Barsoom, and which,
he told me, holds in its tiny stems sufficient moisture to meet the limited
demands of the animals.” (PM/15.)
“‘I am glad you came,’ she said; ‘Dejah
Thoris sleeps and I am lonely. Mine own people do not care for me, John
Carter; I am too unlike them. It is a sad fate, since I must live my life
amongst them, and I often wish that I were a true green Martian woman,
without love and without hope; but I have known love and so I am lost.
Sola explains to Carter that her mother was too small for maternity and
she was also less cold and cruel than most Green Martian women, caring
little for their society, ofen roaming alone down the avenues of Thark,
or among the wild flowers on the nearby hills, thinking thoughts and wishing
wishes that only Sola believes she can understand.
“I promised to tell you my story, or rather the
story of my parents. From what I have learned of you and the ways of your
people I am sure that the tale will not seem strange to you, but among
green Martians it has no parallel within the memory of the oldest living
Thark, nor do our legends hold many similar tales.” (PM/15.)
“And there among the hills she met a
young warrior, whose duty it was to guard the feeding zitidars and thoats
and see that they roam not beyond the hills. They spoke at first only of
such things as interest a community of Tharks, but gradually, as they came
to meet more often, and, as was now quite evident to both, no longer by
chance, they talked about themselves, their likes, their ambitions and
their hopes. She trusted him and told him of the awful repugnance she felt
for the cruelties of their kind, for the hideous, loveless lives they must
ever lead, and then she waited for the storm of denunciation to break from
his cold, hard lips; but instead he took her in his arms and kissed her.”
This is another one of ERB’s euphemisms, for as a result of this “kiss,”
Sola’s egg was fertilized, thus tipping off the reader that more than a
kiss took place, giving evidence to that occasional loss of chastity that
marks the Tharks. As a result they kept their love secret for six years.
Her mother was of the retinue of Tal Hajus while her lover was a simple
warrior. Had they been discovered they would have paid the penalty in the
The egg from which Sola came was hidden beneath a great glass vessel
upon the highest tower of ancient Thark. Her mother visited the egg once
a year for the five long years it took to incubate, during which her father
gained great distinction as a warrior, taking the metal from several chieftans.
His greatest desire was to wrest the metal from Tal Hajus one day and thus
be free to declare her mother as his own, and by his power, protect the
child hatched from her egg.
Before Tars Tarkas can achieve his goals, he is ordered away on a long
expedition to the southern ice-clad regions to make war upon the natives
there and despoil them of their furs, “for such is
the manner of the green Barsoomians; he does not labor for what he can
wrest in battle from others.” (Id.)
During his absence – four years long – the egg is hatched after he has
been away for one year; Sola’s mother continues to care after her hatchling,
visiting her nightly in the tower and lavishing love upon her. It was her
intent after the next visit to the incubator to slip Sola into the mix
unnoticed and thus escape discovery that would lead to her death for violating
Her mother taught her the language and customs of the Tharks, stressing
the necessity of absolute secrecy of her knowledge of her parentage. Unfortunately,
Sarkoja overhears one of her conversations with Sola, and that is the end
“With final imprecations, Sarkoja hastened
away to Tal Hajus to report her discovery, and while she was gone my mother,
wrapping me in the silks and furs of her night coverings, so that I was
scarcely noticeable, descended to the streets and ran wildly away toward
the outskirts of the city, in the direction which led to the far south,
out toward the man whose protection she might not claim, but on whose face
she wished to look once more before she died.
But alas, it is not her champion, but a caravan bearing recently hatched
Tharks. She takes Sola and mixes her with the newly hatched young returning
from the incubator. Sola never saw her mother again; she was imprisoned
by Tal Hajus, and was cruelly tortured to find out who her lover was, but
she died with the name sealed upon her lips.
“As we neared the city’s southern extremity a
sound came to us across the mossy flat, from the direction of the only
pass through the hills which led to the gates, the pass by which caravans
from either north or south or east or west would enter the city. The sounds
we heard were the squealing of thoats and the grumbling of zitidars, with
the occasional clank of arms which announced the approach of a body of
warriors. The thought uppermost in her mind was that it was my father returned
from his expedition, but the cunning of the Thark held her from headlong
and precipitate flight to greet him.” (PM/15.)
“I learned afterwards that she told them
that she had killed me to save me from a like fate at their hands, and
that she had thrown my body to the white apes. Sarkoja alone disbelieved
her, and I feel to this day that she suspects my true origin, but does
dare expose me, at the present, at all events, because she also guesses,
I am sure, the identity of my father.
The trip is otherwise uneventful on the way to Thark; they cross two dead
sea bottoms and twice the famous Martian waterways, which because of earthly
astronomers are mistakenly called canals. I never understood exactly what
this meant until Rick Johnson opened my eyes. I always conceived the waterways
as open air canals, which are familiar to me because of the irrigation
system in the San Joaquin Valley. But the Martian waterways are merely
strips of cultivated areas, showing up mistakenly as canals through telescopes.
The fact is that the waterways are covered to avoid evaporation and pipes
leading from the waterways directly to the crops – through a drip method
– provide the necessary water for cultivation.
“When he returned from his expedition and learned
the story of my mother’s fate, I was present as Tal Hajus told him; but
never by the quiver of a muscle did he betray the slightest emotion; only
he did not laugh as Tal Hajus gleefully described her death struggles.
From that moment on he was the cruelest of the cruel, and I am awaiting
the day when he shall win the goal of his ambition, and feel the carcass
of Tal Hajus beneath his foot, for I am as sure that he but waits the opportunity
to wreak a terrible vengeance, and that his great love is as strong in
his breast as when it first transfigured him nearly forty years ago, as
I am that we sit here upon the edge of a world-old ocean while sensible
people sleep, John Carter.’
“‘And your father, Sola, is he with us now?’ I
“‘Yes,’ she replied, ‘but he does not know me
for what I am, nor does he know who betrayed my mother to Tal Hajus. I
alone know my father’s name, and only I and Tal Hajus and Sarkoja know
that it was she who carried the tale that brought death and torture upon
her he loved.
“We sat silent for a few moments, she wrapped
in the gloomy thoughts of her terrible past, and I in pity for the poor
creatures whom the heartless, senseless customs of their race had doomed
to loveless lives of cruely and of hate. Presently she spoke.
“‘John Carter, if ever a real man walked the cold,
dead bosom of Barsoom you are one. I know that I can trust you, and because
the knowledge may someday help you or him or Dejah Thoris or myself, I
am going to tell you the name of my father, nor place any restrictions
or conditions upon your tongue. When the time comes, speak the truth if
it seems best to you. I trust you because I know that you are not cursed
with the terrible trait of absolute and unswerving truthfulness, that you
could lie like one of your own Virginian gentlemen if a lie would save
others from sorrow or suffering. My father’s name is Tars Tarkas.” (PM/15.)
“Just thirty days after my advent upon
Barsoom we entered the ancient city of Thark, from whose long-forgotten
people this horde of green men have stolen even their name. The hordes
of Thark number some thirty thousand souls, and are divided into twenty-five
communities. Each community has its own jed and lesser chieftans, but all
are under the rule of Tal Hajus, Jeddak of Thark. Five communities make
their headquarters at the city of Thark, and the balance are scattered
among the other deserted cities of ancient Mars throughout the district
claimed by Tal Hajus.” (PM/16.)
Carter and Dejah Thoris soon become the center of attention and spend the
balance of the day settling in their new quarters. The interiors of the
buildings of Thark are even larger and more impressive than those of Korad.
“My quarters would have been suitable
for housing the greatest of earthly emperors, but to these queer creatures
nothing about a building appealed to them but its size and the enormity
of its chambers; the larger the building, the more desirable; and so Tal
Hajus occupied what must have been an emormous public building, the largest
in the city, but entirely unfitted for residence purposes; the next largest
was reserved for Lorquas Ptomel, the next for a jed of a lesser rank, and
so on to the bottom of the list of five jeds. The warriors occupied the
buildings with the chieftans to whose retinues they belonged; or, if they
preferred, sought shelter among any of the thousands of untenanted buildings
in their own quarter of town; each community being assigned a certain section
of the city. The selection of a building had to be made in accordance with
these divisions, except in so far as the jeds were concerned, they all
occupying edifices which fronted upon the plaza.” (PM/16.)
Carter seeks out Dejah Thoris and tells her he loves her and is soon interrupted
by a very disturbed Sola, who explains why:
“‘That horrible Sarkoja has been before
Tal Hajus,’ she cried, ‘and from what I heard upon the plaza there is little
hope for either of you.’ “‘What do they say?’ inquired Dejah Thoris.
Sola agrees to help them in escaping before the coming of the great games
and they agree to try to make their way to a waterway leading to Helium
two hundred miles to the north, the last place the Tharks will think to
look for them. They agree to meet at the city’s edge at a certain time
but their plans are soon thwarted by Sarkoja who has overheard them, and
as Carter rushes to the chambers of his princess, he overhears a Green
warrior addressing men under his command:
“‘That you will be thrown to the wild calots [dogs]
in the great arena as soon as the hordes have assembled for the yearly
“‘And when he returns to this chamber,’
he was saying, ‘as he surely will when he finds she does not meet him at
the city’s edge, you four are to spring upon him and disarm him. It will
require the combined strength of all of you to do it if the reports they
bring back from Korad are correct. When you have him fast bound bear him
to the vaults beneath the jeddak’s quarters and chain him securely where
he may be found when Tal Hajus wishes him. Allow him to speak with none,
nor permit any other to enter this apartment before he comes. There will
be no danger of the girl returning, for by this time she is safe in the
arms of Tal Hajus, and may all her ancestors have pity upon her, for Tal
Hajus will have none; the great Sarkoja has done a noble night’s work.
I go, and if you fail to capture him when he comes, I commend your carcasses
to the cold bosom of Iss.’” (PM/16.)
Now comes the scene we’ve all been waiting for, one of the power arcs of
the story. Carter hurries off and infiltrates Tal Hajus’ building, finding
Sola and Dejah Thoris presented before the Jeddak:
“But the sight that froze me with apprehension
was that of Dejah Thoris and Sola standing there before him, and the fiendish
leer of him as he let his great protruding eyes gloat upon the lines of
her beautiful figure. She was speaking, but I could not hear what she said,
nor could I make out the low grumbling of his reply. She stood there erect
before him, her head held high, and even at the distance I was from I could
read the scorn and disgust upon her face as she let her haughty glance
rest without sign of fear upon her. She was indeed the proud daughter of
a thousand jeddaks, every inch of her dear, precious little body; so small,
so frail beside the towering warriors around her, but in her majesty dwarfing
them into insignificance; she was the mightiest figure among them and I
verily believe that they felt it.” (PM/17.)
All right, for those readers who are getting used to the sexual innuendo
of ERB, please take note that this is a forcible rape scene. We know that
Tal Hajus is a degenerate who loves to fornicate, and he must have gotten
aroused leering at Dejah Thoris – as is obvious in the next section – so
the fact that ERB chooses to use such words as “erect” and “every inch”
when describing Dejah Thoris is very informative of what is actually taking
place. In fact, James Killian Spratt doesn’t leave any doubt of what is
going on when depicting this scene in his graphic presentation of A
Princess of Mars (ERBzine
#1301, panel 150).
“Presently Tal Hajus made a sign that
the chamber be cleared, and that the prisoners be left alone before him.
Slowly the chieftans, the warriors and the women melted away into the shadows
of the surrounding chambers, and Dejah Thoris and Sola stood alone before
the jeddak of the Tharks.
Carter takes Dejah Thoris and Sola and they make good their escape from
Thark as they head to the waterway two hundred miles away, but they are
soon discovered by a Green Martian patrol. Carter assumes it is a Thark
search party and holds them off with a rifle while Dejah Thoris and Sola
get away. He puts up a good fight, but is soon overwhelmed by superior
numbers. When he regains consciousness he finds himself in the hands of
“One chieftan alone had hesitated before departing;
I saw him standing in the shadows of a mighty column, his fingers nervously
toying with the hilt of his great-sword and his cruel eyes bent in implacable
hatred upon Tal Hajus. It was Tars Tarkas, and I could read his thoughts
as they were an open book for the undisguised loathing upon his face. He
was thinking of that other woman who, forty years ago, had stood before
this beast, and could I have spoken a word into his ear at the moment the
reign of Tal Hajus would have been over; but finally he also strode from
the room, not knowing that he left his own daughter at the mercy
of the creature he most loathed.
“Tal Hajus arose, and I, half fearing, half anticipating
his intentions, hurried to the winding runway which led to the floors below.
No one was near to intercept me, and I reached the main floor of the chamber
unobserved, taking my station in the shadow of the same column Tars Tarkas
had but just deserted. As I reached the floor Tal Hajus was speaking.
“‘Princess of Helium, I might wring a mighty ransom
from your people would I but return you to them unharmed, but a thousand
times rather would I watch that beautiful face writhe in the agony of torture;
it shall be long drawn out; that I promise you; ten days of pleasure were
all too short to show the love I harbor for your race. The terrors of your
death shall haunt the slumbers of the red men through all the ages to come;
they will shudder in the shadows of the night as their fathers tell them
of the awful vengeance of the green men; of the power and might and hate
and cruely of Tal Hajus. But before the tortue you shall be mine for one
short hour, and word of that too shall go forth to Tardos Mors, Jeddak
of Helium, your grandfather, that he may grovel upon the ground in the
agony of his sorrow. Tomorrow the torture will commence; tonight thou are
Tal Hajus’; come!’
“He sprang down from the platform and grasped
her roughly by the arm, but scarcely had he touched her than I leaped between
them. My short-sword, sharp and gleaming was in my right hand; I could
have plunged it into his putrid heart before he realized that I was upon
him; but as I raised my arm to strike I thought of Tars Tarkas, and, with
all my rage, with all my hatred, I could not rob him of that sweet moment
for which he had lived and hoped all these long, weary years, and so, instead,
I swung my good right fist full upon the point of his jaw. Without a sound
he slipped to the floor as one dead.” (PM/17.)
BARSOOMIAN GREEN MEN and TARS TARKAS ART GALLERIES
| II | III
| IV | V
| VI | VII
Green Man Horde by Murphy Anderson