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