I will, in time, explain the method of how I have
been able to address the inhabitants of the twentieth century. Suffice
it to say that a method became available to me and addressing my remote
ancestors became both possible and desirable.
My name is Julian, officially Robin Harold Julian 68th,
Prince-Jemdar of Earth, and the Protector of Vah-Nah as well as several
equally important sounding titles and that alone should inform you of some
of the circumstances of my life. I bear the name Julian with a certain
amount of pride, but also with the clear knowledge that I have personally
done nothing to create the reputation which it signifies.
Julian is the name of the house of the Yank-Jemdar
of Earth and has been for some six hundred odd years ever since Julian
20th, the Red Hawk, started the revolution that would result in reclaiming
our world from the Kalkars of Vah-Nah.
Some day, I will be Jemdar for as much as that is worth.
The position has been largely ceremonial for two centuries. The fact is
that the Julians are the pampered pets of the Terran nation. We live graciously,
we have what we want, the people love us and we incite no controversy.
For me, life has held opportunity for everything I could possibly want
save for that which I want the most, adventure.
Adventure! I have learned not to even mention the word
in the presence of my father! He is ever willing to dismiss and deride
my strange craving. Every young man once sought to toss off the bonds of
his world and seek something greater, unknown and dangerous, but this has
slowly been bred out of our race as we have advanced through time and grown
to know more of the world.
In the era before the coming of the Kalkars, humanity
had become briefly aware of the existence of the inhabitants of Barsoom
and Pellucidar but had that knowledge stripped from us during our cruel
oppression. That awareness was won back through difficult exploration by
men who are as remotely in the past from me as is Christopher Columbus
from your age.
Today, San Francisco, the capital city of Earth, stands
almost directly above the city of Greenwich in Pellucidar and can be reached
in a small fraction of an hour by underground rail. The average person
can holiday on Amtor or might very well have a second house in the restored
and irrigated countrysides of Vah-Nah. The would be adventurer who wishes
to travel to Barsoom need only purchase a ticket and may, if he has the
means, make the passage in pampered luxury. I myself took the first part
of my university in Greater Helium before I returned to Earth to continue
To a young man, who craves the unknown, this world
of my age seems tame and lacking in that which a young fellow of my sort
needs the most, that hated word. Adventure.
Barsoom holds political sway over all of the worlds
outward from the sun from itself although they have only developed Thuria,
Cluros and Eurobus with a few of its moons to any degree. Earth controls
the Moon and the inner worlds of Pellucidar and Vah-Nah under the direct
government of the Jemdarate and administrates Amtor as a protectorate with
its own local Jemdar. The two Solar governments have lived with peaceful,
friendly relations for as long as anyone on Earth cares to remember.
For a fellow of my temperament, this was a perfectly
awful situation. There were no new worlds to conquer. There was no good
fight to fight.
All my life, I had immersed myself in the tales of
the great heroes of the past. Gilgamesh, Alexander, Robin Hood, John Carter,
John Clayton (Lord Greystoke), Julian the Red Hawk, all of these men got
to live the life I craved but was seemingly forever cut off from me.
Or so it was until one day two years ago.
A day like any other it was. I was to make two appearances,
one to speak to a civic association in London and another to be interviewed
by the "personality press" on the Jemdar's palace grounds.
As the aircar was whisking my secretary Man-tan-ko,
a Vaga, and myself over the Atlantic Ocean a radio message arrived. Voiced
in official language that left no doubt as to its gravity, I was asked
to return to San Francisco. And appear before my father, the Jemdar.
Even having grown up around it, I was still impressed
by the Jemdar's audience room at the palace. No man could not be, for its
design was for that very purpose. It was here, at least symbolically, that
all humans of Earth knew resided the very soul of their race. When Man-tan-ko
and I entered the room we were surprised to be greeted with a full honor
guard and I saw that standing with my father was the President who was
the true political head of state of the Jemdarate of Earth. With the two
of them stood a Barsoomian in a metal laden harness wearing the yellow
bordered cloak that signified that he was a messenger of the Jeddak of
Jeddaks, The Warlord of Barsoom. Of course, the "metal" was purely decorative,
signfying his office, nothing more. Barsoomians born after the 24th century
were raised with their historic grand martial tradition as nothing more
than quaint folklore. He was Nomar Tomak, a high attendant of the Jeddak's
court whom I had met on several occasions during my university days. Normally
a jovial fellow, he favored me with not so much as a smile on this day.
My father was the first to break the silence. "My son,
I am sorry to have brought you back to court with so little warning, but
this is a somber day and you are called upon to perform your duties as
a crowned prince. You must travel to Barsoom without delay and stand as
Earth's representative on a very bleak occasion. After a brief illness,
the Grand Jeddara of Barsoom has passed away. You must attend her state
I was stunned. Barsoomians live ten times longer than
Earthmen, a fact which most of us take easily in stride, but sometimes
that strange fact is brought home to us with alarming clarity. This was
just such a time.
The Grand Jeddara was like a human monument whose years
of life had encompassed all of the greatest years of our history. To call
her a monument, unfortunately, obscures the fact that she was also a woman
of great beauty and wisdom who her devoted husband never ceased to refer
to as "incomparable." She was Dejah Thoris, the Heliumite princess who
helped her husband reclaim a dying world! I had known her, and like so
many others learned that to know her is to love her. Beyond a doubt, she
was the most admired woman in the Solar Worlds. Now she had died and an
era had come to a close.
I would go and stand with the Jeddak as he bid farewell
to his wife. The Jeddak himself was a man with a strange history. It was
his claim that he had originated on Earth although his life span exceeded
even that of the Barsoomians whom he had come to live among and eventually
rule. His name was John Carter. He was the Warlord of all of Barsoom, a
planet which he had known in his earlier life by the name Mars. No one
had referred to the planet by that name in hundreds of years. It was a
place name as outdated as the name Cathay would have been to people of
Nomar Tomak provided for my passage aboard the great
Barsoomian ship which rested on the water in San Francisco bay. The passage
to Barsoom would be swift beyond the imagining of you to whom I address
this tale. I would appear before the court at Helium in a mere two days.
Even at that, the journey seemed long indeed with the
dark mood which ruled the ship's crew. The blackness of the space outside
our ports mirrored the feelings that every Barsoomian had in his heart.
When we finally entered the atmosphere of Barsoom,
I was finding that even on this sad occasion, I looked forward to seeing
the wonders of Helium once more. When the city of Greater Helium with Lesser
Helium in view some seventy five miles beyond came into view on the horizon,
I was somewhat surprised, although in retrospect I don't know why, by the
number of airships which filled the sky overhead. People had come from
every corner of Barsoom to say a final goodbye to the Grand Jedarra.
Even in mourning, the Barsoomian nobility wore bright
silks and glittering metal. These were a warrior people by temperament
and their honored dead were given tribute by showing that the Barsoomian
heart beats ever strong.
John Carter himself met me in one of the palace gardens
and clasped my hand firmly. Ignoring his own grief, he inquired after the
health of my father and the progress of my studies. I was always flattered
by any interest the Jeddak showed in me. He had checked in on me frequently
in my university days, but my awe of him never lessened. A person in the
twentieth century could only imagine what knowing him was like. It was
as if Julius Caesar was still alive and walked among us.
"My father is in good health," I told him, "and I have
only a year before my degree is completed. I'm sure that I shall have much
use for it when I become a paper ruler."
John Carter s frown made me instantly regret my flippant
"Lad," he said, "even though you are to be spared the
responsibility of governing your people, they shall still look to you for
wisdom and as a symbol of excellence. You must not disappoint them."
I looked sheepish before the great man. "I only wish
that I, like you, had earned the right to rule."
John Carter had once told me that the world had become
too tame for him. He felt that he had become superfluous living among a
human race that was at peace with itself. He once told me, "The title 'Warlord'
has become something of a joke in the ongoing absence of war. These days
it makes more sense to call me simply the First Jeddak, or Jeddak of Jeddaks,
for I have become a man of politics rather than a man of the sword."
Now in these days following his greatest loss, he had
become a subdued, quiet man, more given to keeping his own council rather
than involving himself deeply in the day to day affairs of government.
The high jeds did most of the governing these days.
He looked deep into my eyes and gave a wry smile followed
by a deep sigh. "Yes, there it is, the warrior spirit. I thought it had
died out among the people of my home world. Your turn will come, I can
feel it and I am rarely wrong about this. Remember this. When it comes
to you that you are thoroughly beaten, that you can do no more, when hope
is gone check to see if you can yet draw a breath. If you can then all
is not lost. You may still conquer as long as you are still alive. When
you are in that dark place, say it aloud as I have had to several times
even in these last few sad days, I still live!"
"I still live," I repeated. It seemed rather tepid
advice from a man of such far reaching experience. I would have expected
something that was a bit more of a revelation than that. Nonetheless, it
had come from the Jeddak of Jeddaks so I resolved to remember it anyway.
The funeral itself drew over a half million people
in the great square of Helium city with several millions more listening
by wireless. Further by means of sophisticated Gridley wave transmitters,
it was heard by persons on every Solar planet.
I, like every other person in the crowd, was moved
deeply by the sight of the inert form of Dejah Thoris, still grandly beautiful
in her eternal repose. The Barsoomian funeral, was itself a comparatively
recent tradition, less than a Barsoomian lifetime ago. In the Grand Jeddara's
youth, it had been the tradition for persons near death (or merely tired
of life) to let themselves drift down the river Iss (they thought) into
the hands of the gods. When John Carter discredited this belief , it precipitated
the most important religious crisis in the history of Barsoom. In the centuries
since, the Barsoomians, with some exceptions, have adopted a humanist philosophy.
They recognize that, today, their symbolic acts exist for the benefit of
the human population, not the gods.
As I stood with the other prominent mourners I heard
a disturbance behind me. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a young woman
run from the thick of the crowd with a look of mortal dread in her eyes.
John Carter also saw the girl and called out "Tamla!"
It was then that I realized the girl was Tamla of Helium the eight (Barsoomian)
year old thrice great grand daughter of the Jeddak. She had been well known
as a difficult child and as she had grown older she had become tomboyish
and positively wild. Tamla was the subject of much gossip for having taken
on the habit of wearing a man's style of harness and metal. complete with
real, not decorative, weapons.
The girl's disposition was of no account at this moment,
however, for she was in obvious peril. John Carter had already drawn his
sword as had his son, Carthoris and his close friends Kantos Kan and Tars
Tarkas. All of them took a step backward, however when they saw what emerged
from the crowd in pursuit of the girl. It resembled a Barsoomian Green
man although its skin was a dark nut brown and its tusks pointed directly
outward from its face like twin spikes. Its intermediate set of limbs were
specialized as a pair of leathery wings, which, as it cleared the knot
of people, it spread and began to beat vigorously. From the base of his
spine emerged a long tail with a small flat fin at the end, perhaps to
aid it in steering. It was almost instantly out of the reach of even the
long sword of Tars Tarkas. John Carter, Tars Tarkas and the rest gave chase
as the girl started to run directly toward me with the nightmarish thing
a mere few feet behind her. A scant second before the girl could reach
me, the flying man scooped her up and with powerful strokes of its huge
wings raised himself high aloft with the girl screaming in panic firmly
held in his hands. Without thinking I jumped straight upward with all the
strength my legs could provide. In the Barsoomian gravity, this was enough
to propel me some fifty feet and into reach of the creature's tail. Kantos
Kan had drawn a powerful Barsoomian pistol, but The Jeddak stayed his hand
lest he accidentally shoot Tamla or myself. I was being furiously whipped
back and forth in the wind as I clung to the flying man's tail with my
self preservation foremost in my mind.
Aloud I cried at the top of my lungs, "I still live!"
How hard I tried to believe that that would help.
As the palace dwindled behind us, I saw a flyer rise
from its roof to give chase and prayed that I could hang on long enough
for it to reach us.