The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 134

had the girls
then. There was one that I gained upon The Fields of Jetan. Ey, but you
should have seen--"

"Lead on!" cried Turan. "After we are at work you shall tell us of her."

"Ey, yes," said the old fellow and shuffled off down a dimly lighted
passage. "Follow me!"

"You are going with him?" asked Tara.

"Why not?" replied Turan. "We know not where we are, or the way from
these pits; for I know not east from west; but he doubtless knows and
if we are shrewd we may learn from him that which we would know. At
least we cannot afford to arouse his suspicions"; and so they followed
him--followed along winding corridors and through many chambers, until
they came at last to a room in which there were several marble slabs
raised upon pedestals some three feet above the floor and upon each
slab lay a human corpse.

"Here we are," exclaimed the old man. "These are fresh and we shall
have to get to work upon them soon. I am working now on one for The
Gate of Enemies. He slew many of our warriors. Truly is he entitled to
a place in The Gate. Come, you shall see him."

He led them to an adjoining apartment. Upon the floor were many fresh,
human bones and upon a marble slab a mass of shapeless flesh.

"You will learn this later," announced the old man; "but it will not
harm you to watch me now, for there are not many thus prepared, and it
may be long before you will have the opportunity to see another
prepared for The Gate of Enemies. First, you see, I remove all the
bones, carefully that the skin may be damaged as little as possible.
The skull is the most difficult, but it can be removed by a skilful
artist. You see, I have made but a single opening. This I now sew up,
and that done, the body is hung so," and he fastened a piece of rope to
the hair of the corpse and swung the horrid thing to a ring in the
ceiling. Directly below it was a circular manhole in the floor from
which he removed the cover revealing a well partially filled with a
reddish liquid. "Now we lower it into this, the formula for which you
shall learn in due time. We fasten it thus to the bottom of the cover,
which we now replace. In a year it will be ready; but it must be
examined often in the meantime and the liquid kept above the

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