The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 133

his thin laughter
jarred upon the silence of the subterranean vaults. "A strange place to
woo! A strange place to woo, indeed! When I was a young man we roamed
in the gardens beneath giant pimalias and stole our kisses in the brief
shadows of hurtling Thuria. We came not to the gloomy pits to speak of
love; but times have changed and ways have changed, though I had never
thought to live to see the time when the way of a man with a maid, or a
maid with a man would change. Ah, but we kissed them then! And what if
they objected, eh? What if they objected? Why, we kissed them more. Ey,
ey, those were the days!" and he cackled again. "Ey, well do I recall
the first of them I ever kissed, and I've kissed an army of them since;
she was a fine girl, but she tried to slip a dagger into me while I was
kissing her. Ey, ey, those were the days! But I kissed her. She's been
dead over a thousand years now, but she was never kissed again like
that while she lived, I'll swear, not since she's been dead, either.
And then there was that other--" but Turan, seeing a thousand or more
years of osculatory memoirs portending, interrupted.

"Tell me, ancient one," he said, "not of thy loves but of thyself. Who
are you? What do you here in the pits of O-Tar?"

"I might ask you the same, young man," replied the other. "Few there
are who visit the pits other than the dead, except my pupils--ey! That
is it--you are new pupils! Good! But never before have they sent a
woman to learn the great art from the greatest artist. But times have
changed. Now, in my day the women did no work--they were just for
kissing and loving. Ey, those were the women. I mind the one we
captured in the south--ey! she was a devil, but how she could love. She
had breasts of marble and a heart of fire. Why, she--"

"Yes, yes," interrupted Turan; "we are pupils, and we are anxious to
get to work. Lead on and we will follow."

"Ey, yes! Ey, yes! Come! All is rush and hurry as though there were not
another countless myriad of ages ahead. Ey, yes! as many as lie behind.
Two thousand years have passed since I broke my shell and always rush,
rush, rush, yet I cannot see that aught has been accomplished. Manator
is the same today as it was then--except the girls. We

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