The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 19

in the excitement he had
remained unannounced until John Carter had happened upon him in the
great reception corridor of the palace as The Warlord was hurrying out
to arrange for the dispatch of ships in search of his daughter.

Gahan read the concern upon the face of The Warlord. "Forgive me if I
intrude, John Carter," he said. "I but came to ask the indulgence of
another day since it would be fool-hardy to attempt to navigate a ship
in such a storm."

"Remain, Gahan, a welcome guest until you choose to leave us," replied
The Warlord; "but you must forgive any seeming inattention upon the
part of Helium until my daughter is restored to us."

"You daughter! Restored! What do you mean?" exclaimed the Gatholian. "I
do not understand."

"She is gone, together with her light flier. That is all we know. We
can only assume that she decided to fly before the morning meal and was
caught in the clutches of the tempest. You will pardon me, Gahan, if I
leave you abruptly--I am arranging to send ships in search of her;" but
Gahan, Jed of Gathol, was already speeding in the direction of the
palace gate. There he leaped upon a waiting thoat and followed by two
warriors in the metal of Gathol, he dashed through the avenues of
Helium toward the palace that had been set aside for his entertainment.



CHAPTER III

THE HEADLESS HUMANS

Above the roof of the palace that housed the Jed of Gathol and his
entourage, the cruiser Vanator tore at her stout moorings. The groaning
tackle bespoke the mad fury of the gale, while the worried faces of
those members of the crew whose duties demanded their presence on the
straining craft gave corroborative evidence of the gravity of the
situation. Only stout lashings prevented these men from being swept
from the deck, while those upon the roof below were constantly
compelled to cling to rails and stanchions to save themselves from
being carried away by each new burst of meteoric fury. Upon the prow of
the Vanator was painted the device of Gathol, but no pennants were
displayed in the upper works since the storm had carried away several
in rapid succession, just as it seemed to the watching men that it must
carry away the ship itself. They could not believe that any tackle
could withstand for long this Titanic force. To each of the twelve
lashings clung a brawny warrior with drawn short-sword. Had but a
single mooring given to the power of the tempest eleven short-swords
would have cut the others; since, partially moored, the

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