The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 135

level of
its crown. It will be a very beautiful piece, this one, when it is
ready.

"And you are fortunate again, for there is one to come out today." He
crossed to the opposite side of the room and raised another cover,
reached in and dragged a grotesque looking figure from the hole. It was
a human body, shrunk by the action of the chemical in which it had been
immersed, to a little figure scarce a foot high.

"Ey! is it not fine?" cried the little old man. "Tomorrow it will take
its place in The Gate of Enemies." He dried it off with cloths and
packed it away carefully in a basket. "Perhaps you would like to see
some of my life work," he suggested, and without waiting for their
assent led them to another apartment, a large chamber in which were
forty or fifty people. All were sitting or standing quietly about the
walls, with the exception of one huge warrior who bestrode a great
thoat in the very center of the room, and all were motionless.
Instantly there sprang to the minds of Tara and Turan the rows of
silent people upon the balconies that lined the avenues of the city,
and the noble array of mounted warriors in The Hall of Chiefs, and the
same explanation came to both but neither dared voice the question that
was in his mind, for fear of revealing by his ignorance the fact that
they were strangers in Manator and therefore impostors in the guise of
pupils.

"It is very wonderful," said Turan. "It must require great skill and
patience and time."

"That it does," replied the old man, "though having done it so long I
am quicker than most; but mine are the most natural. Why, I would defy
the wife of that warrior to say that insofar as appearances are
concerned he does not live," and he pointed at the man upon the thoat.
"Many of them, of course, are brought here wasted or badly wounded and
these I have to repair. That is where great skill is required, for
everyone wants his dead to look as they did at their best in life; but
you shall learn--to mount them and paint them and repair them and
sometimes to make an ugly one look beautiful. And it will be a great
comfort to be able to mount your own. Why, for fifteen hundred years no
one has mounted my own dead but myself.

"I have many, my balconies are crowded with them; but I keep a great
room for my wives. I have

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