The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 121

maturity and whose span of life may be a
thousand years.

"And where lies Gathol?" asked Turan.

"Almost due east of Manator," replied A-Kor.

"And how far?"

"Some twenty-one degrees it is from the city of Manator to the city of
Gathol," replied A-Kor; "but little more than ten degrees between the
boundaries of the two countries. Between them, though, there lies a
country of torn rocks and yawning chasms."

Well did Gahan know this country that bordered his upon the west--even
the ships of the air avoided it because of the treacherous currents
that rose from the deep chasms, and the almost total absence of safe
landings. He knew now where Manator lay and for the first time in long
weeks the way to his own Gathol, and here was a man, a fellow prisoner,
in whose veins flowed the blood of his own ancestors--a man who knew
Manator; its people, its customs and the country surrounding it--one
who could aid him, with advice at least, to find a plan for the rescue
of Tara of Helium and for escape. But would A-Kor--could he dare broach
the subject? He could do no less than try.

"And O-Tar you think will sentence you to death?" he asked; "and why?"

"He would like to," replied A-Kor, "for the people chafe beneath his
iron hand and their loyalty is but the loyalty of a people to the long
line of illustrious jeddaks from which he has sprung. He is a jealous
man and has found the means of disposing of most of those whose blood
might entitle them to a claim upon the throne, and whose place in the
affections of the people endowed them with any political significance.
The fact that I was the son of a slave relegated me to a position of
minor importance in the consideration of O-Tar, yet I am still the son
of a jeddak and might sit upon the throne of Manator with as perfect
congruity as O-Tar himself. Combined with this is the fact that of
recent years the people, and especially many of the younger warriors,
have evinced a growing affection for me, which I attribute to certain
virtues of character and training derived from my mother, but which
O-Tar assumes to be the result of an ambition upon my part to occupy
the throne of Manator.

"And now, I am firmly convinced, he has seized upon my criticism of his
treatment of the slave girl Tara as a pretext for ridding himself of
me."

"But if you could escape and reach Gathol," suggested Turan.

"I have thought of that," mused A-Kor;

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