The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 122

"but how much better off would I
be? In the eyes of the Gatholians I would be, not a Gatholian; but a
stranger and doubtless they would accord me the same treatment that we
of Manator accord strangers."

"Could you convince them that you are the son of the Princess Haja your
welcome would be assured," said Turan; "while on the other hand you
could purchase your freedom and citizenship with a brief period of
labor in the diamond mines."

"How know you all these things?" asked A-Kor. "I thought you were from
Helium."

"I am a panthan," replied Turan, "and I have served many countries,
among them Gathol."

"It is what the slaves from Gathol have told me," said A-Kor,
thoughtfully, "and my mother, before O-Tar sent her to live at Manatos.
I think he must have feared her power and influence among the slaves
from Gathol and their descendants, who number perhaps a million people
throughout the land of Manator."

"Are these slaves organized?" asked Turan.

A-Kor looked straight into the eyes of the panthan for a long moment
before he replied. "You are a man of honor," he said; "I read it in
your face, and I am seldom mistaken in my estimate of a man; but--" and
he leaned closer to the other--"even the walls have ears," he
whispered, and Turan's question was answered.

It was later in the evening that warriors came and unlocked the fetter
from Turan's ankle and led him away to appear before O-Tar, the jeddak.
They conducted him toward the palace along narrow, winding streets and
broad avenues; but always from the balconies there looked down upon
them in endless ranks the silent people of the city. The palace itself
was filled with life and activity. Mounted warriors galloped through
the corridors and up and down the runways connecting adjacent floors.
It seemed that no one walked within the palace other than a few slaves.
Squealing, fighting thoats were stabled in magnificent halls while
their riders, if not upon some duty of the palace, played at jetan with
small figures carved from wood.

Turan noted the magnificence of the interior architecture of the
palace, the lavish expenditure of precious jewels and metals, the
gorgeous mural decorations which depicted almost exclusively martial
scenes, and principally duels which seemed to be fought upon jetan
boards of heroic size. The capitals of many of the columns supporting
the ceilings of the corridors and chambers through which they passed
were wrought into formal likenesses of jetan pieces--everywhere there
seemed a suggestion of the game. Along the same path that Tara of
Helium had been led Turan was

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