Warlord of Mars



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Of all the strange scenes it must have witnessed since that long-dead

age that had first seen a Jeddak of Jeddaks take his seat upon

it, none might compare with that upon which it now looked down,

and as I pondered the past and future of that long-buried race of

black-bearded yellow men I thought that I saw a brighter and more

useful existence for them among the great family of friendly nations

that now stretched from the south pole almost to their very doors.
Twenty-two years before I had been cast, naked and a stranger, into

this strange and savage world. The hand of every race and nation

was raised in continual strife and warring against the men of

every other land and color. Today, by the might of my sword and the

loyalty of the friends my sword had made for me, black man and white,

red man and green rubbed shoulders in peace and good-fellowship.

All the nations of Barsoom were not yet as one, but a great

stride forward toward that goal had been taken, and now if I could

but cement the fierce yellow race into this solidarity of nations

I should feel that I had rounded out a great lifework, and repaid

to Mars at least a portion of the immense debt of gratitude I owed

her for having given me my Dejah Thoris.


And as I thought, I saw but one way, and a single man who could

insure the success of my hopes. As is ever the way with me, I acted

then as I always act--without deliberation and without consultation.
Those who do not like my plans and my ways of promoting them have

always their swords at their sides wherewith to back up their

disapproval; but now there seemed to be no dissenting voice, as,

grasping Talu by the arm, I sprang to the throne that had once been

Salensus Oll's.
"Warriors of Barsoom," I cried, "Kadabra has fallen, and with her

the hateful tyrant of the north; but the integrity of Okar must be

preserved. The red men are ruled by red jeddaks, the green warriors

of the ancient seas acknowledge none but a green ruler, the First

Born of the south pole take their law from black Xodar; nor would

it be to the interests of either yellow or red man were a red jeddak

to sit upon the throne of Okar.
"There be but one warrior best fitted for the ancient and mighty

title of Jeddak of Jeddaks of the North. Men of Okar, raise your

swords to your new ruler--Talu, the rebel prince of Marentina!"
And then a great cry of rejoicing rose among the free men of

Marentina and the Kadabran prisoners, for all had thought that the

red men would retain that which they had taken by force of arms,

for such had been the way upon Barsoom, and that they should be

ruled henceforth by an alien Jeddak.
The victorious warriors who had followed Carthoris joined in the

mad demonstration, and amidst the wild confusion and the tumult

and the cheering, Dejah Thoris and I passed out into the gorgeous

garden of the jeddaks that graces the inner courtyard of the palace

of Kadabra.
At our heels walked Woola, and upon a carved seat of wondrous

beauty beneath a bower of purple blooms we saw two who had preceded

us--Thuvia of Ptarth and Carthoris of Helium.
The handsome head of the handsome youth was bent low above the

beautiful face of his companion. I looked at Dejah Thoris, smiling,

and as I drew her close to me I whispered: "Why not?"
Indeed, why not? What matter ages in this world of perpetual youth?
We remained at Kadabra, the guests of Talu, until after his formal

induction into office, and then, upon the great fleet which I had

been so fortunate to preserve from destruction, we sailed south

across the ice-barrier; but not before we had witnessed the total

demolition of the grim Guardian of the North under orders of the

new Jeddak of Jeddaks.


"Henceforth," he said, as the work was completed, "the fleets

of the red men and the black are free to come and go across the

ice-barrier as over their own lands.
"The Carrion Caves shall be cleansed, that the green men may find

an easy way to the land of the yellow, and the hunting of the sacred

apt shall be the sport of my nobles until no single specimen of

that hideous creature roams the frozen north."


We bade our yellow friends farewell with real regret, as we set

sail for Ptarth. There we remained, the guest of Thuvan Dihn, for

a month; and I could see that Carthoris would have remained forever

had he not been a Prince of Helium.


Above the mighty forests of Kaol we hovered until word from Kulan

Tith brought us to his single landing-tower, where all day and half

a night the vessels disembarked their crews. At the city of Kaol

we visited, cementing the new ties that had been formed between

Kaol and Helium, and then one long-to-be-remembered day we sighted

the tall, thin towers of the twin cities of Helium.


The people had long been preparing for our coming. The sky was

gorgeous with gaily trimmed fliers. Every roof within both cities

was spread with costly silks and tapestries.
Gold and jewels were scattered over roof and street and plaza,

so that the two cities seemed ablaze with the fires of the hearts

of the magnificent stones and burnished metal that reflected the

brilliant sunlight, changing it into countless glorious hues.


At last, after twelve years, the royal family of Helium was reunited

in their own mighty city, surrounded by joy-mad millions before

the palace gates. Women and children and mighty warriors wept in

gratitude for the fate that had restored their beloved Tardos Mors

and the divine princess whom the whole nation idolized. Nor did

any of us who had been upon that expedition of indescribable danger

and glory lack for plaudits.
That night a messenger came to me as I sat with Dejah Thoris and

Carthoris upon the roof of my city palace, where we had long since

caused a lovely garden to be made that we three might find seclusion

and quiet happiness among ourselves, far from the pomp and ceremony

of court, to summon us to the Temple of Reward--"where one is to

be judged this night," the summons concluded.


I racked my brain to try and determine what important case there

might be pending which could call the royal family from their palaces

on the eve of their return to Helium after years of absence; but

when the jeddak summons no man delays.


As our flier touched the landing stage at the temple's top we saw

countless other craft arriving and departing. In the streets below

a great multitude surged toward the great gates of the temple.
Slowly there came to me the recollection of the deferred doom that

awaited me since that time I had been tried here in the Temple by

Zat Arras for the sin of returning from the Valley Dor and the Lost

Sea of Korus.


Could it be possible that the strict sense of justice which dominates

the men of Mars had caused them to overlook the great good that

had come out of my heresy? Could they ignore the fact that to me,

and me alone, was due the rescue of Carthoris, of Dejah Thoris, of

Mors Kajak, of Tardos Mors?
I could not believe it, and yet for what other purpose could I have

been summoned to the Temple of Reward immediately upon the return

of Tardos Mors to his throne?
My first surprise as I entered the temple and approached the Throne

of Righteousness was to note the men who sat there as judges. There

was Kulan Tith, Jeddak of Kaol, whom we had but just left within

his own palace a few days since; there was Thuvan Dihn, Jeddak of

Ptarth--how came he to Helium as soon as we?
There was Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of Thark, and Xodar, Jeddak of the

First Born; there was Talu, Jeddak of Jeddaks of the North, whom

I could have sworn was still in his ice-bound hothouse city beyond

the northern barrier, and among them sat Tardos Mors and Mors Kajak,

with enough lesser jeds and jeddaks to make up the thirty-one who

must sit in judgment upon their fellow-man.


A right royal tribunal indeed, and such a one, I warrant, as never

before sat together during all the history of ancient Mars.


As I entered, silence fell upon the great concourse of people that

packed the auditorium. Then Tardos Mors arose.


"John Carter," he said in his deep, martial voice, "take your place

upon the Pedestal of Truth, for you are to be tried by a fair and

impartial tribunal of your fellow-men."
With level eye and high-held head I did as he bade, and as I glanced

about that circle of faces that a moment before I could have sworn

contained the best friends I had upon Barsoom, I saw no single

friendly glance--only stern, uncompromising judges, there to do

their duty.
A clerk rose and from a great book read a long list of the more

notable deeds that I had thought to my credit, covering a long period

of twenty-two years since first I had stepped the ocher sea bottom

beside the incubator of the Tharks. With the others he read of

all that I had done within the circle of the Otz Mountains where

the Holy Therns and the First Born had held sway.


It is the way upon Barsoom to recite a man's virtues with his sins

when he is come to trial, and so I was not surprised that all that

was to my credit should be read there to my judges--who knew it

all by heart--even down to the present moment. When the reading

had ceased Tardos Mors arose.
"Most righteous judges," he exclaimed, "you have heard recited all

that is known of John Carter, Prince of Helium--the good with the

bad. What is your judgment?"
Then Tars Tarkas came slowly to his feet, unfolding all his mighty,

towering height until he loomed, a green-bronze statue, far above

us all. He turned a baleful eye upon me--he, Tars Tarkas, with whom

I had fought through countless battles; whom I loved as a brother.


I could have wept had I not been so mad with rage that I almost

whipped my sword out and had at them all upon the spot.


"Judges," he said, "there can be but one verdict. No longer may

John Carter be Prince of Helium"--he paused--"but instead let him

be Jeddak of Jeddaks, Warlord of Barsoom!"
As the thirty-one judges sprang to their feet with drawn and

upraised swords in unanimous concurrence in the verdict, the storm

broke throughout the length and breadth and height of that mighty

building until I thought the roof would fall from the thunder of

the mad shouting.
Now, at last, I saw the grim humor of the method they had adopted

to do me this great honor, but that there was any hoax in the reality

of the title they had conferred upon me was readily disproved by

the sincerity of the congratulations that were heaped upon me by

the judges first and then the nobles.
Presently fifty of the mightiest nobles of the greatest courts of

Mars marched down the broad Aisle of Hope bearing a splendid car

upon their shoulders, and as the people saw who sat within, the

cheers that had rung out for me paled into insignificance beside

those which thundered through the vast edifice now, for she whom

the nobles carried was Dejah Thoris, beloved Princess of Helium.


Straight to the Throne of Righteousness they bore her, and there

Tardos Mors assisted her from the car, leading her forward to my

side.
"Let a world's most beautiful woman share the honor of her husband,"

he said.
Before them all I drew my wife close to me and kissed her upon the lips.



End of The Project Gutenberg e-text of Warlord of Mars

by Edgar Rice Burroughs
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