The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 154

Helium, Warlord of Barsoom--and she knew that the
skill of the Black Chief suffered little by the comparison.

Short and to the point was the duel that decided possession of the
Orange Chief's fourth. The spectators had settled themselves for an
interesting engagement of at least average duration when they were
brought almost standing by a brilliant flash of rapid swordplay that
was over ere one could catch his breath. They saw the Black Chief step
quickly back, his point upon the ground, while his opponent, his sword
slipping from his fingers, clutched his breast, sank to his knees and
then lunged forward upon his face.

And then Gahan of Gathol turned his eyes directly upon U-Dor of
Manator, three squares away. Three squares is a Chief's move--three
squares in any direction or combination of directions, only provided
that he does not cross the same square twice in a given move. The
people saw and guessed Gahan's intention. They rose and roared forth
their approval as he moved deliberately across the intervening squares
toward the Orange Chief.

O-Tar, in the royal enclosure, sat frowning upon the scene. O-Tar was
angry. He was angry with U-Dor for having entered this game for
possession of a slave, for whom it had been his wish only slaves and
criminals should strive. He was angry with the warrior from Manataj for
having so far out-generaled and out-fought the men from Manator. He was
angry with the populace because of their open hostility toward one who
had basked in the sunshine of his favor for long years. O-Tar the
jeddak had not enjoyed the afternoon. Those who surrounded him were
equally glum--they, too, scowled upon the field, the players, and the
people. Among them was a bent and wrinkled old man who gazed through
weak and watery eyes upon the field and the players.

As Gahan entered his square, U-Dor leaped toward him with drawn sword
with such fury as might have overborne a less skilled and powerful
swordsman. For a minute the fighting was fast and furious and by
comparison reducing to insignificance all that had gone before. Here
indeed were two magnificent swordsmen, and here was to be a battle that
bade fair to make up for whatever the people felt they had been
defrauded of by the shortness of the game. Nor had it continued long
before many there were who would have prophesied that they were
witnessing a duel that was to become historic in the annals of jetan at
Manator. Every trick, every subterfuge, known to the art of fence these
men employed. Time and again each scored

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