The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 113

drawn to
a section of paneling that seemed to be separated at one edge from the
piece next adjoining it. Quickly she crossed to it, discovering that
one vertical edge of an entire panel projected a half-inch beyond the
others. There was a possible explanation which piqued her curiosity,
and acting upon its suggestion she seized upon the projecting edge and
pulled outward. Slowly the panel swung toward her, revealing a dark
aperture in the wall behind.

"Look, Lan-O!" she cried. "See what I have found--a hole in which we
may hide the thing upon the floor."

Lan-O joined her and together the two investigated the dark aperture,
finding a small platform from which a narrow runway led downward into
Stygian darkness. Thick dust covered the floor within the doorway,
indicating that a great period of time had elapsed since human foot had
trod it--a secret way, doubtless, unknown to living Manatorians. Here
they dragged the corpse of E-Med, leaving it upon the platform, and as
they left the dark and forbidden closet Lan-O would have slammed to the
panel had not Tara prevented.

"Wait!" she said, and fell to examining the door frame and the stile.

"Hurry!" whispered the slave girl. "If they come we are lost."

"It may serve us well to know how to open this place again," replied
Tara of Helium, and then suddenly she pressed a foot against a section
of the carved base at the right of the open panel. "Ah!" she breathed,
a note of satisfaction in her tone, and closed the panel until it
fitted snugly in its place. "Come!" she said and turned toward the
outer doorway of the chamber.

They reached their own cell without detection, and closing the door
Tara locked it from the inside and placed the key in a secret pocket in
her harness.

"Let them come," she said. "Let them question us! What could two poor
prisoners know of the whereabouts of their noble jailer? I ask you,
Lan-O, what could they?"

"Nothing," admitted Lan-O, smiling with her companion.

"Tell me of these men of Manator," said Tara presently. "Are they all
like E-Med, or are some of them like A-Kor, who seemed a brave and
chivalrous character?"

"They are not unlike the peoples of other countries," replied Lan-O.
"There be among them both good and bad. They are brave warriors and
mighty. Among themselves they are not without chivalry and honor, but
in their dealings with strangers they know but one law--the law of
might. The weak and unfortunate of other lands fill them with contempt
and arouse all that is worst in their natures, which

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