The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 13

me," replied Tara of Helium. "I did not ask
them."

"They were no less your guests," replied her father.

The girl rose, and came and stood beside him and put her arms about his
neck.

"My proper old Virginian," she cried, rumpling his shock of black hair.

"In Virginia you would be turned over your father's knee and spanked,"
said the man, smiling.

She crept into his lap and kissed him. "You do not love me any more,"
she announced. "No one loves me," but she could not compose her
features into a pout because bubbling laughter insisted upon breaking
through.

"The trouble is there are too many who love you," he said. "And now
there is another."

"Indeed!" she cried. "What do you mean?"

"Gahan of Gathol has asked permission to woo you."

The girl sat up very straight and tilted her chin in the air. "I would
not wed with a walking diamond-mine," she said. "I will not have him."

"I told him as much," replied her father, "and that you were as good as
betrothed to another. He was very courteous about it; but at the same
time he gave me to understand that he was accustomed to getting what he
wanted and that he wanted you very much. I suppose it will mean another
war. Your mother's beauty kept Helium at war for many years, and--well,
Tara of Helium, if I were a young man I should doubtless be willing to
set all Barsoom afire to win you, as I still would to keep your divine
mother," and he smiled across the sorapus table and its golden service
at the undimmed beauty of Mars' most beautiful woman.

"Our little girl should not yet be troubled with such matters," said
Dejah Thoris. "Remember, John Carter, that you are not dealing with an
Earth child, whose span of life would be more than half completed
before a daughter of Barsoom reached actual maturity."

"But do not the daughters of Barsoom sometimes marry as early as
twenty?" he insisted.

"Yes, but they will still be desirable in the eyes of men after forty
generations of Earth folk have returned to dust--there is no hurry, at
least, upon Barsoom. We do not fade and decay here as you tell me those
of your planet do, though you, yourself, belie your own words. When the
time seems proper Tara of Helium shall wed with Djor Kantos, and until
then let us give the matter no further thought."

"No," said the girl, "the subject irks me, and I shall not marry Djor
Kantos, or another--I do not intend to wed."

Her father and

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