Beyond the Farthest Star


Edgar Rice Burroughs

THE JUDGES discussed my proposition in whispers for about ten minutes; then they put me on probation until the Janhai could decide the matter, and after that they turned me back to the custody of Harkas Yen, who told me later that a great honor had been done, as the Janhai rules Unis; it was like putting my case in the hands of the President of the United States or the King of England.

The Janhai is a commission composed of seven men who are elected to serve until they are seventy years old, when they may be re-elected; the word is a compound of jan (seven) and hai (elect). Elections are held only when it is necessary to fill a vacancy on the Janhai, which appoints all judges and what corresponds to our governors of States, who in turn appoint all other State or provincial officials and the mayors of cities, the mayors appointing municipal officers. There are no ward-heelers in Unis.

Each member of the Janhai heads a department, of which there are seven: War; Foreign, which includes State; Commerce; Interior; Education; Treasury and Justice. These seven men elect one of their own number every six years as Eljanhai, or High Commissioner. He is, in effect, the ruler of Unis but he cannot serve two consecutive terms. These men, like all the appointees of the Janhai, the provincial governors, and the mayors, must submit to a very thorough intelligence test, which determines the candidate’s native intelligence as well as his fund of acquired knowledge; and more weight is given the former than the latter.

I could not but compare this system with our own, under which it is not necessary for a Presidential candidate to be able either to read or write; even a congenital idiot could run for the Presidency of the United States of America, and serve if he were elected.

There were two cases following mine, and Harkas Yen wanted to stay and hear them. The first was a murder case; and the defendant had chosen to be tried before one judge, rather than a jury of five men.

“He is either innocent, or the killing was justifiable,” remarked Harkas Yen. “When they are guilty, they usually ask for a jury trial.”

In a fit of passion, the man had killed another who had broken up his home. In fifteen minutes he was tried and acquitted.

The next case was that of the mayor of a small city who was accused of accepting a bribe. That case lasted about two hours and was tried before a jury of five men. In America, it would possibly have lasted two months. The judge made the attorneys stick to facts and the evidence. The jury was out not more than fifteen minutes, when it brought in a verdict of guilty. The judge sentenced the. man to be shot on the morning of the fifth day. This gave him time to appeal the case to a court of five judges; they work fast in Unis.

Harkas Yen told me that the court of appeal would examine the transcript of the evidence and would probably confirm the finding of the lower court, unless the attorney for the defendant made an affidavit that he could bring in new evidence to clear his client. If he made such an affidavit, and the new evidence failed to alter the verdict, the attorney would forfeit his fee to the State and be compelled to pay all court costs for the second trial.

Attorneys’ fees, like doctors’, are fixed by law in Uxis; and they are fair—a rich man pays a little more than a poor man, but they can’t take his shirt. If a defendant is very poor, the State employs and pays any attorney the defendant may select; and the same plan is in effect for the services of doctors, surgeons and hospitalization.

After the second trial I went home with Harkas Yen and his son and daughter. While we were walking to the elevators, we heard the wail of sirens, and felt the building dropping down its shaft. It was precisely the same sensation I had when coming down in an elevator from the 102nd story of the Empire State Building.

This Justice Building, in which the trials had been held, is twenty stories high; and it dropped down to the bottom of its shaft in about twenty seconds. Pretty soon we heard the booming of anti-aircraft guns and the terrific detonation of bombs.

“How long has this been going on?” I asked.

“All my life, and long before,” replied Harkas Yen.

“This war is now in its one hundred and first year,” said Harkas Don, his son. “We don’t know anything else,” he added with a grin.

“It started about the time your grandfather was born,” said Harkas Yen. “As a boy and young man, your great-grandfather lived in a happier world. Then men lived and worked upon the surface of the planet; cities were built above-ground; but within ten years after the Kapars launched their campaign to conquer and rule the world, every city in Unis and every city in Kapar and many cities on others of thefive continents were reduced to rubble.

“It was then that we started building these under-ground cities that can be raised or lowered by the power we derive from Omos.” (The Sun of Poloda.) “The Kapars have subjugated practically all the rest of Poloda; but we were, and still are, the richest nation in the world. What they have done to us, we have done to them; but they are much worse off than we. Their people live in underground warrens protected by steel and concrete; they subsist upon the foods raised by subjugated peoples who are no better than slaves, and work no better for hated masters; or they eat synthetic foods, as they wear synthetic clothing. They themselves produce nothing but the material of war. So heavily do we bomb their land that nothing can live upon its surface; but they keep on, for they know nothing but war. Periodically we offer them an honorable peace, but they will have nothing but the total destruction of Unis.”

Beyond the Farthest Star - Contents    |     Four

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