The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 110

into another corridor from that down which
he knew the warrior was coming. Here he waited out of sight, listening.
He heard the man enter the chamber and halt. He heard a muttered
exclamation, followed by the jangle of metal dishes as a salver was
slammed upon a table; then rapidly retreating footsteps, which quickly
died away in the distance.

Ghek lost no time in returning to the chamber, recovering the key,
relocking the rykor to his chain. Then he replaced the key in the
burrow and squatting on the table beside his headless body, directed
its hands toward the food. While the rykor ate Ghek sat listening for
the scraping sandals and clattering arms that he knew soon would come.
Nor had he long to wait. Ghek scrambled to the shoulders of his rykor
as he heard them coming. Again it was the officer who had been summoned
by U-Van and with him were three warriors. The one directly behind him
was evidently the same who had brought the food, for his eyes went wide
when he saw Ghek sitting at the table and he looked very foolish as the
dwar turned his stern glance upon him.

"It is even as I said," he cried. "He was not here when I brought his
food."

"But he is here now," said the officer grimly, "and his fetter is
locked about his ankle. Look! it has not been opened--but where is the
key? It should be upon the table at the end opposite him. Where is the
key, creature?" he shouted at Ghek.

"How should I, a prisoner, know better than my jailer the whereabouts
of the key to my fetters?" he retorted.

"But it lay here," cried the officer, pointing to the other end of the
table.

"Did you see it?" asked Ghek.

The officer hesitated. "No but it must have been there," he parried.

"Did you see the key lying there?" asked Ghek, pointing to another
warrior.

The fellow shook his head negatively. "And you? and you?" continued the
kaldane addressing the others.

They both admitted that they never had seen the key. "And if it had
been there how could I have reached it?" he continued.

"No, he could not have reached it," admitted the officer; "but there
shall be no more of this! I-Zav, you will remain here on guard with
this prisoner until you are relieved."

I-Zav looked anything but happy as this intelligence was transmitted to
him, and he eyed Ghek suspiciously as the dwar and the other warriors
turned and left him to his unhappy lot.



CHAPTER XIII

A DESPERATE DEED

E-Med crossed the tower chamber toward

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