The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 192

O-Tar would take the Princess Tara of Helium
to wife. For hours slaves prepared the unwilling bride. Seven perfumed
baths occupied three long and weary hours, then her whole body was
anointed with the oil of pimalia blossoms and massaged by the deft
fingers of a slave from distant Dusar. Her harness, all new and wrought
for the occasion was of the white hide of the great white apes of
Barsoom, hung heavily with platinum and diamonds--fairly encrusted with
them. The glossy mass of her jet hair had been built into a coiffure of
stately and becoming grandeur, into which diamond-headed pins were
stuck until the whole scintillated as the stars in heaven upon a
moonless night.

But it was a sullen and defiant bride that they led from the high tower
toward the throne room of O-Tar. The corridors were filled with slaves
and warriors, and the women of the palace and the city who had been
commanded to attend the ceremony. All the power and pride, wealth and
beauty of Manator were there.

Slowly Tara, surrounded by a heavy guard of honor, moved along the
marble corridors filled with people. At the entrance to The Hall of
Chiefs E-Thas, the major-domo, received her. The Hall was empty except
for its ranks of dead chieftains upon their dead mounts. Through this
long chamber E-Thas escorted her to the throne room which also was
empty, the marriage ceremony in Manator differing from that of other
countries of Barsoom. Here the bride would await the groom at the foot
of the steps leading to the throne. The guests followed her in and took
their places, leaving the central aisle from The Hall of Chiefs to the
throne clear, for up this O-Tar would approach his bride alone after a
short solitary communion with the dead behind closed doors in The Hall
of Chiefs. It was the custom.

The guests had all filed through The Hall of Chiefs; the doors at both
ends had been closed. Presently those at the lower end of the hall
opened and O-Tar entered. His black harness was ornamented with rubies
and gold; his face was covered by a grotesque mask of the precious
metal in which two enormous rubies were set for eyes, though below them
were narrow slits through which the wearer could see. His crown was a
fillet supporting carved feathers of the same metal as the mask. To the
least detail his regalia was that demanded of a royal bridegroom by the
customs of Manator, and now in accordance with that same custom he came
alone to The Hall of

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