The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 123

conducted toward the throne room of O-Tar
the jeddak, and when he entered the Hall of Chiefs his interest turned
to wonder and admiration as he viewed the ranks of statuesque thoatmen
decked in their gorgeous, martial panoply. Never, he thought, had he
seen upon Barsoom more soldierly figures or thoats so perfectly trained
to perfection of immobility as these. Not a muscle quivered, not a tail
lashed, and the riders were as motionless as their mounts--each warlike
eye straight to the front, the great spears inclined at the same angle.
It was a picture to fill the breast of a fighting man with awe and
reverence. Nor did it fail in its effect upon Turan as they conducted
him the length of the chamber, where he waited before great doors until
he should be summoned into the presence of the ruler of Manator.

* * * * *

When Tara of Helium was ushered into the throne room of O-Tar she found
the great hall filled with the chiefs and officers of O-Tar and U-Thor,
the latter occupying the place of honor at the foot of the throne, as
was his due. The girl was conducted to the foot of the aisle and halted
before the jeddak, who looked down upon her from his high throne with
scowling brows and fierce, cruel eyes.

"The laws of Manator are just," said O-Tar, addressing her; "thus is it
that you have been summoned here again to be judged by the highest
authority of Manator. Word has reached me that you are suspected of
being a Corphal. What word have you to say in refutation of the charge?"

Tara of Helium could scarce restrain a sneer as she answered the
ridiculous accusation of witchcraft. "So ancient is the culture of my
people," she said, "that authentic history reveals no defense for that
which we know existed only in the ignorant and superstitious minds of
the most primitive peoples of the past. To those who are yet so
untutored as to believe in the existence of Corphals, there can be no
argument that will convince them of their error--only long ages of
refinement and culture can accomplish their release from the bondage of
ignorance. I have spoken."

"Yet you do not deny the accusation," said O-Tar.

"It is not worthy the dignity of a denial," she responded haughtily.

"And I were you, woman," said a deep voice at her side, "I should,
nevertheless, deny it."

Tara of Helium turned

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