The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 193

Chiefs to receive the blessings and the council of
the great ones of Manator who had preceded him.

As the doors at the lower end of the Hall closed behind him O-Tar the
Jeddak stood alone with the great dead. By the dictates of ages no
mortal eye might look upon the scene enacted within that sacred
chamber. As the mighty of Manator respected the traditions of Manator,
let us, too, respect those traditions of a proud and sensitive people.
Of what concern to us the happenings in that solemn chamber of the dead?

Five minutes passed. The bride stood silently at the foot of the
throne. The guests spoke together in low whispers until the room was
filled with the hum of many voices. At length the doors leading into
The Hall of Chiefs swung open, and the resplendent bridegroom stood
framed for a moment in the massive opening. A hush fell upon the
wedding guests. With measured and impressive step the groom approached
the bride. Tara felt the muscles of her heart contract with the
apprehension that had been growing upon her as the coils of Fate
settled more closely about her and no sign came from Turan. Where was
he? What, indeed, could he accomplish now to save her? Surrounded by
the power of O-Tar with never a friend among them, her position seemed
at last without vestige of hope.

"I still live!" she whispered inwardly in a last brave attempt to
combat the terrible hopelessness that was overwhelming her, but her
fingers stole for reassurance to the slim blade that she had managed to
transfer, undetected, from her old harness to the new. And now the
groom was at her side and taking her hand was leading her up the steps
to the throne, before which they halted and stood facing the gathering
below. Came then, from the back of the room a procession headed by the
high dignitary whose office it was to make these two man and wife, and
directly behind him a richly-clad youth bearing a silken pillow on
which lay the golden handcuffs connected by a short length of
chain-of-gold with which the ceremony would be concluded when the
dignitary clasped a handcuff about the wrist of each symbolizing their
indissoluble union in the holy bonds of wedlock.

Would Turan's promised succor come too late? Tara listened to the long,
monotonous intonation of the wedding service. She heard the virtues of
O-Tar extolled and the beauties of the bride. The moment was
approaching and still no sign of Turan. But what could he accomplish
should he succeed in reaching

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