The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 166

hoary one!" he cried. "What brings you out of your beloved and
stinking burrow again this day. We thought that the sight of the
multitude of living men at the games would drive you back to your
corpses as quickly as you could go."

The cackling laugh of I-Gos acknowledged the royal sally. "Ey, ey,
O-Tar," squeaked the ancient one, "I-Gos goes out not upon pleasure
bound; but when one does ruthlessly desecrate the dead of I-Gos,
vengeance must be had!"

"You refer to the act of the slave Turan?" demanded O-Tar.

"Turan, yes, and the slave Tara, who slipped beneath my hide a
murderous blade. Another fraction of an inch, O-Tar, and I-Gos' ancient
and wrinkled covering were even now in some apprentice tanner's hands,
ey, ey!"

"But they have again eluded us," cried O-Tar. "Even in the palace of
the great jeddak twice have they escaped the stupid knaves I call The
Jeddak's Guard." O-Tar had risen and was angrily emphasizing his words
with heavy blows upon the table, dealt with a golden goblet.

"Ey, O-Tar, they elude thy guard but not the wise old calot, I-Gos."

"What mean you? Speak!" commanded O-Tar.

"I know where they are hid," said the ancient taxidermist. "In the dust
of unused corridors their feet have betrayed them."

"You followed them? You have seen them?" demanded the jeddak.

"I followed them and I heard them speaking beyond a closed door,"
replied I-Gos; "but I did not see them."

"Where is that door?" cried O-Tar. "We will send at once and fetch
them," he looked about the table as though to decide to whom he would
entrust this duty. A dozen warrior chiefs arose and laid their hands
upon their swords.

"To the chambers of O-Mai the Cruel I traced them," squeaked I-Gos.
"There you will find them where the moaning Corphals pursue the
shrieking ghost of O-Mai; ey!" and he turned his eyes from O-Tar toward
the warriors who had arisen, only to discover that, to a man, they were
hurriedly resuming their seats.

The cackling laughter of I-Gos broke derisively the hush that had
fallen on the room. The warriors looked sheepishly at the food upon
their plates of gold. O-Tar snapped his fingers impatiently.

"Be there only cravens among the chiefs of Manator?" he cried.
"Repeatedly have these presumptuous slaves flouted the majesty of your
jeddak. Must I command one to go and fetch them?"

Slowly a chief arose and two others followed his example, though with
ill-concealed reluctance. "All, then, are not cowards," commented
O-Tar. "The duty is distasteful. Therefore all three of you shall go,
taking as many warriors as

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