Edgar Rice Burroughs Tribute and Weekly Webzine Site
1996 ~ Over 15,000 Webpages in Archive
James Killian Spratt's Graphic
Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess
(click panels for full-screen size).
Tars Tarkas was silent for a few moments,
gazing afar at some vision that only he
but no longer demurred to go before Tal
“Then we shall go, John Carter,” he said
“but first I would share a few words with
Come with me.”
All this was momentous news
to the women of Tars Tarkas’ house.
Least surprised was Zephira, Captain of
his oldest ward, who had herself known Gozava.
Zephira knew well
Tars Tarkus’ exceptional kindness toward
and had occasionally suspected something
of the sort.
She also feared what Sarkoja might do
once she got this stunning news,
and knew she must strike first.
Zephira addressed her sisters:
“Our master Tars Tarkas goes to see Sarkoja
on the matter of Gozava and Sola.
I can see no good to come of this
—Tars Tarkas may not kill Sarkoja,
but she will see to the ruin of this house
if she is able.
We need to assure that her lips are sealed,
ere she tattles her half-truths to Tal Hajus.
Who is with me?”
The senior women in Tars Tarkas’ house knew
that neither threats nor reason
would prevent Sarkoja from running to tell
of their master’s alleged guilt.
Tars Tarkas would be tortured and killed,
as would Sola, and they,
with Tars Tarkas gone,
would be separated out to other,
less happy houses.
With very little discussion or argument,
five set out for Sarkoja’s quarters
with steel at their hips and blood in their
A short walk brought us to Sarkoja’s quarters,
and the look of venomous hatred
she gave me was almost recompense
for any future grief
this accidental return to Thark might bring
Tars Tarkas spoke:
“Sarkoja, forty years ago
you were instrumental in
the torture and death of a woman
“I have just discovered that the warrior
who loved her has learned of
your complicity in her death.
By our custom he may not kill you,
but nothing would prevent him tying a strap
around your neck,
with the other end tied to a wild thoat,
merely to test your fitness to survive
and help perpetuate our race.”
“Having heard that
he would do this on the morrow,
I thought it only right and just to warn
The River Iss
is but a short pilgrimage, Sarkoja.
Come, John Carter.”
Without further words
Tars Tarkas and I departed,
and hastened to the Jeddak’s palace
to face Tal Hajus.
As we later learned,
Zephira’s war-party had just arrived.
She put her ear to an open window,
covered within by a mere cloth hanging,
and could hear Sarkoja cursing vehemently.
“Tars Tarkas!—Gozava’s lover!
I KNEW it was him!!” Sarkoja crowed.
“That arrogant son of a calot!
How DARE that criminal affront me thus!”
Transcendant with cold rage she hissed
“But at last I shall be rid of him—
Gozava’s partner in degeneracy!
Tal Hajus will torture
the illegitimate whelp’s name
from the mighty Tars Tarkus,
and make an agonized end of both of them!
Come, we must make haste
while the whole Council may hear as one!”
Sarkoja and her underlings
set out for Tal Hajus’ palace
at a rapid pace,
with gleams of self-righteous triumph
in their wicked eyes,
savoring the prospect of bloody vengeance
against those who had so long eluded
and defied them.
With bared blades
Zephira and her party charged,
intent upon assassination.
Unnoticed by either of the groups
destined to momentarily meet in anger
was Woola, who, out of a natural curiosity,
considerable fondness and an
habitual skulking, stalking, predatory nature,
had followed Zephira’s band
to Sarkoja’s quarters.
Of all upon Barsoom,
the things Woola despised most
were banths, ulsios, firearms and Sarkoja,
who had hunted him surreptitiously,
many times over his four decades.
Over the period of Woola’s residence among the
Tharks, he and Sarkoja had cultivated a relationship of delicious mutual
loathing. In the occasional attempts of Sarkoja and her cronies to
exterminate him, Woola gloried in goading them to fury by racing away at
his top speed just as they brought their pistols to bear, as impossible
to hit as he was impossible to see. Sarkoja, of course, could not ignore
Woola’s gleeful impudence.
Woola had also witnessed in his time more than
a few Thark-to-Thark shootings, and, having few real friends among them,
seldom cared about the outcomes. But here was Sarkoja, making the same
loud, ugly noises at his friends that she commonly directed at him, with
her hand on her pistol. Woola instantly charged.
As her cowardly cohorts
dropped their weapons and ran,
Sarkoja, caring not at all about
the dishonor of replying
to blades with bullets,
but intent on winning at any cost,
cleared leather and
pointed her pistol at Zephira,
only to have her target blocked
y the body of Woola,
moving at such a speed
as to barely register in her vision
as a blurry streak, coming straight at her.
Sarkoja felt a brief,
light tug on her gun-hand,
then with all the hatred in her heart,
repeatedly pressed her trigger
fast and hard as she vengefully tried
to empty her pistol into Woola,
Zephira and the rest of her deputation.
But she heard no shots.
--Sarkoja looked down
at the stump of her gun-arm,
Comprehending and enraged beyond fury,
she swung her sword wildly
at two of her despised foes,
coming on swiftly with their blades
flashing in the moonlights.
She barely felt the impacts
of the blades upon her scrawny neck,
but watched in stunned disbelief
as the world spun in her vision,
the pavement leaped up and
slammed her hard in the face,
and all went black.
In the blink of an eye Woola had torn away
Sarkoja’s pistol, along with the hand that had held it. He ran a short
way then stopped and dropped his grisly morsel, and looked back to see
that Sarkoja would never hunt him again.
Neither would her cowardly accomplices.
Nightfall had brought a new army, of dangerous scavengers, which they had
noticed just a little too late.
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all correspondence to
/WEBMASTER: BILL HILLMAN
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Rice Burroughs, Inc.- All Rights Reserved.
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