“The Green Gods of Kukulhan” is an unfished story by Lester Dent. The manuscript is in the Lester B. Dent collection at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection at the University of Missouri in Columbia. Source: CA5569_box10_manuscripts
The document consists of eight pages. The first four pages are Part 1 of the four-part story. It is titled “Introduction” and tells the story of Cramer Dorn who is a patient in a mental hospital. The story notes that Dorn had escaped from the hospital, stolen an aircraft, and flew one hundred miles before being recaptured when he landed for fuel.
As a result of this sensational item, a newspaper reporter went to the hospital to investigate Dorn. Readers learn that Dorn was found in wilder regions near Sinoloa, Mexico. He was wounded and suffering from many wounds on his body. It was determined that he did not have his full mental facilities. The local authorities sent him back to his home where he was admitted to the mental hospital. It was also reported that he had an emerald in his possession at this time. The jewel was cut and sold for $11,000 sitting in an account for Dorn once he is released. The reporter connected the choppy information he obtained from Dorn and showed it to an expert on Aztec and Mayan lore. The expert stated that the descriptions Dorn supplied were accurate. It was also revealed that the emerald was probably the head of some small idol.
Pages five through eight present a story outline using six chapters. The character’s name here is Cramer Vern.
CHAPTER 1 A Tale of Culican
Cramer Vern in is Culican, Mexico where he is working as a pilot for the rebel Escobar faction. An article in a magazine mentions strange items such as pieces of cloth and pottery wash are found on the banks of a nearby river. The river flows from the mountains and the source is unknown. Cramer Vern decided to investigate in his old biplane. Vern flies up into the mountains where strong wind currents force him down to a landing. As he is descending, he spots a strange white structure painted with bands of different colors.
CHAPTER 2 The Lost City
On the ground, he spots a dead man whose torso has been cut open and his heart is missing. He notices out people about who are “well formed, stocky, with smooth, slightly golden cast to skin.” The people are carrying obsidian knives and wearing high backed sandals. Many are standing near the top of a large stone pyramid. Vern notes a beautiful woman just before he is attacked by an ugly man and knocked out.
CHAPTER 3 Strange Ceremony
Vern Regains consciousness after a very short time. He observed the people moving down the pyramid on their knees. As they reach the bottom of the pyramid, a fight breaks out. Vern decides there are two different factions fighting. He fires his pistol at one group causing them to disperse.
Vern notices an idol made of gold. A man is about to be sacrificed but the beautiful woman blocks his death. Vern saves her life, and the crowd kneels down. Then the golden idol begins speaking.
CHAPTER 4 The Voice in the Image
Vern discovers a man inside the golden idol. He tosses him down the pyramid steps. The crowd disperses. He speaks to the woman who replies in a strange language. She then speaks in Spanish.
CHAPTER 5 The Priestess of Doom
Vern learns that the woman is trying to save life of her brother who was going to be sacrificed. She explains the people think he is some sort of idol who arrived from the sky. She reveals that she is the high priestess. She leads them away from the pyramid. They encounter a group of dark men and elephants. They travel to a nearby city which is filled with impressive buildings and a large palace.
CHAPTER 6 The Valley of Eternity
Vern learns he is in valley with no exit. Three parties entered the valley before it was blocked. The first group were dark skinned people from Itza from city named Chichen. The second group were the Spaniards. There are two different factions in the valley. The shrine where the fight occurred was for the lower class. Her people are the high class. Her people’s shrine has a cross as a main feature.
She is pure blooded and descends from the people of Calantis, which is a distant eastern land. The fighting Vern observed is something of a religious war with the lower group fighting for control.
The manuscript lists Lester Dent living at 1132 South Quincy in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There is no date on the document. Dent lived at this address for approximately 19 months from June 1929 through December 1930. Source: WHMC Folder C3701_f1.
At 25, Lester Dent Makes Hit As Writer – The article states Dent will leave Tulsa, Oklahoma, and head for New York on January 1, 1931. The article also states Dent will visit his parents before leaving for New York. Dent has been working for the Tulsa Tribune for four years and has been writing commercially for less than two years. Source: La Plata Home Press (La Plata, Missouri), Thursday, December 25, 1930
It has been suggested that this fragment of a story is the basis for the Mayan people shown in “The Man of Bronze.” There are some similarities, but the geographical location is more in line with Aztecs than Mayans. What we are left with is a pyramid, natives using obsidian knives and wearing high backed sandals, human sacrifice, along with the use of the term “The Valley of Eternity.” The outline also mentions fierce air currents above the valley. There are three distinct groups within the valley. The original people are from the lost land of Calantis. Another group of dark-skinned people came from the city of Chichen in a land named Itza. The last group were Spaniards. This accounts for the high class of peoples speaking Spanish.
There is a golden idol mentioned but the real treasure is emeralds. The expression “Valley of Eternity” was frequently used as a euphemism for the home of the dead and it was common to find it in newspaper articles printed during Dent’s early life.
“The Man of Bronze” is a “lost race” novel. This particular type of story mechanism is attributed to H. Rider Haggard who was an author from the time of his published work, “King Solomon’s Mines” (1885) until his death in 1925. Haggard also wrote a story published in 1895 titled “Heart of the World.” This story centered on a lost Aztec city, a golden treasure, and a beautiful princess named Maya. The basic idea in Haggard’s story closely parallels that of the people of the Valley of the Vanished in “The Man of Bronze.” The lost civilization in Haggard’s story was located in the Tabasco region of Mexico. This Mexican state is situated on the border with Guatemala.