The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 10

an arm about the lithe body that the
jeweled harness but inadequately covered, and the girl, though she had
danced a thousand dances in the past, realized for the first time the
personal contact of a man's arm against her naked flesh. It troubled
her that she should notice it, and she looked up questioningly and
almost with displeasure at the man as though it was his fault. Their
eyes met and she saw in his that which she had never seen in the eyes
of Djor Kantos. It was at the very end of the dance and they both
stopped suddenly with the music and stood there looking straight into
each other's eyes. It was Gahan of Gathol who spoke first.

"Tara of Helium, I love you!" he said.

The girl drew herself to her full height. "The Jed of Gathol forgets
himself," she exclaimed haughtily.

"The Jed of Gathol would forget everything but you, Tara of Helium," he
replied. Fiercely he pressed the soft hand that he still retained from
the last position of the dance. "I love you, Tara of Helium," he
repeated. "Why should your ears refuse to hear what your eyes but just
now did not refuse to see--and answer?"

"What meanest thou?" she cried. "Are the men of Gathol such boors,
then?"

"They are neither boors nor fools," he replied, quietly. "They know
when they love a woman--and when she loves them."

Tara of Helium stamped her little foot in anger. "Go!" she said,
"before it is necessary to acquaint my father with the dishonor of his
guest."

She turned and walked away. "Wait!" cried the man. "Just another word."

"Of apology?" she asked.

"Of prophecy," he said.

"I do not care to hear it," replied Tara of Helium, and left him
standing there. She was strangely unstrung and shortly thereafter
returned to her own quarter of the palace, where she stood for a long
time by a window looking out beyond the scarlet tower of Greater Helium
toward the northwest.

Presently she turned angrily away. "I hate him!" she exclaimed aloud.

"Whom?" inquired the privileged Uthia.

Tara of Helium stamped her foot. "That ill-mannered boor, the Jed of
Gathol," she replied.

Uthia raised her slim brows.

At the stamping of the little foot, a great beast rose from the corner
of the room and crossed to Tara of Helium where it stood looking up
into her face. She placed her hand upon the ugly head. "Dear old
Woola," she said; "no love could be deeper than yours, yet it never
offends. Would that men might pattern themselves after you!"



CHAPTER II

AT THE GALE'S MERCY

Tara of Helium

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