The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 131

the throne of Manator where stood O-Tar, the jeddak, with
drawn sword ready to take his part in the melee.

At the clash of steel, palace guards rushed to the scene from other
parts of the great building until those who would have defended U-Thor
were outnumbered two to one, and then the jed of Manatos slowly
withdrew with his forces, and fighting his way through the corridors
and chambers of the palace came at last to the avenue. Here he was
reinforced by the little army that had marched with him into Manator.
Slowly they retreated toward The Gate of Enemies between the rows of
silent people looking down upon them from the balconies and there,
within the city walls, they made their stand.

In a dimly-lighted chamber beneath the palace of O-Tar the jeddak,
Turan the panthan lowered Tara of Helium from his arms and faced her.
"I am sorry, Princess," he said, "that I was forced to disobey your
commands, or to abandon Ghek; but there was no other way. Could he have
saved you I would have stayed in his place. Tell me that you forgive
me."

"How could I do less?" she replied graciously. "But it seemed cowardly
to abandon a friend."

"Had we been three fighting men it had been different," he said. "We
could only have remained and died together, fighting; but you know,
Tara of Helium, that we may not jeopardize a woman's safety even though
we risk the loss of honor."

"I know that, Turan," she said; "but no one may say that you have
risked honor, who knows the honor and bravery that are yours."

He heard her with surprise for these were the first words that she had
spoken to him that did not savor of the attitude of a princess to a
panthan--though it was more in her tone than the actual words that he
apprehended the difference. How at variance were they to her recent
repudiation of him! He could not fathom her, and so he blurted out the
question that had been in his mind since she had told O-Tar that she
did not know him.

"Tara of Helium," he said, "your words are balm to the wound you gave
me in the throne room of O-Tar. Tell me, Princess, why you denied me."

She turned her great, deep eyes up to his and in them was a little of
reproach.

"You did not guess," she asked, "that it was my lips alone and not my
heart that denied you? O-Tar had ordered that I die, more because I was
a companion of Ghek

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