The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 181

powerful of Manator?"

"Speak not of it, O-Tar," begged E-Thas. "These last few days I have
thought upon it much and I would forget it; but I have sought to
appease the wrath of my worst enemies. I have been very kind and
indulgent with them."

"You, too, read the voiceless message in the air?" demanded the jeddak.

E-Thas was palpably uneasy and he did not reply.

"Why did you not come to me with your apprehensions?" demanded O-Tar.
"Be this loyalty?"

"I feared, O mighty jeddak!" replied E-Thas. "I feared that you would
not understand and that you would be angry."

"What know you? Speak the whole truth!" commanded O-Tar.

"There is much unrest among the chieftains and the warriors," replied
E-Thas. "Even those who were your friends fear the power of those who
speak against you."

"What say they?" growled the jeddak.

"They say that you are afraid to enter the apartments of O-Mai in
search of the slave Turan--oh, do not be angry with me, Jeddak; it is
but what they say that I repeat. I, your loyal E-Thas, believe no such
foul slander."

"No, no; why should I fear?" demanded O-Tar. "We do not know that he is
there. Did not my chiefs go thither and see nothing of him?"

"But they say that you did not go," pursued E-Thas, "and that they will
have none of a coward upon the throne of Manator."

"They said that treason?" O-Tar almost shouted.

"They said that and more, great jeddak," answered the major-domo. "They
said that not only did you fear to enter the chambers of O-Mai, but
that you feared the slave Turan, and they blame you for your treatment
of A-Kor, whom they all believe to have been murdered at your command.
They were fond of A-Kor and there are many now who say aloud that A-Kor
would have made a wondrous jeddak."

"They dare?" screamed O-Tar. "They dare suggest the name of a slave's
bastard for the throne of O-Tar!"

"He is your son, O-Tar," E-Thas reminded him, "nor is there a more
beloved man in Manator--I but speak to you of facts which may not be
ignored, and I dare do so because only when you realize the truth may
you seek a cure for the ills that draw about your throne."

O-Tar had slumped down upon his bench--suddenly he looked shrunken and
tired and old. "Cursed be the day," he cried, "that saw those three
strangers enter the city of Manator. Would that U-Dor had been spared
to me. He was strong--my enemies feared him; but he is gone--dead at
the hands of that

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