The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 199

as honorably as did O-Tar."

"What do you mean?" asked Tara of Helium. "What are you talking
about--why speak thus in riddles to one whose heart is already
breaking?"

Her heart already breaking! The outlook was anything but promising, and
the young padwar wished that he had died before ever he had had to
speak the words he now must speak.

"Tara of Helium," he continued, "we all thought you dead. For a long
year have you been gone from Helium. I mourned you truly and then, less
than a moon since, I wed with Olvia Marthis." He stopped and looked at
her with eyes that might have said: "Now, strike me dead!"

"Oh, foolish man!" cried Tara. "Nothing you could have done could have
pleased me more. Djor Kantos, I could kiss you!"

"I do not think that Olvia Marthis would mind," he said, his face now
wreathed with smiles. As they spoke a body of men had entered the
throne room and approached the dais. They were tall men trapped in
plain harness, absolutely without ornamentation. Just as their leader
reached the dais Tara had turned to Gahan, motioning him to join them.

"Djor Kantos," she said, "I bring you Turan the panthan, whose loyalty
and bravery have won my love."

John Carter and the leader of the new come warriors, who were standing
near, looked quickly at the little group. The former smiled an
inscrutable smile, the latter addressed the Princess of Helium. "'Turan
the panthan!'" he cried. "Know you not, fair daughter of Helium, that
this man you call panthan is Gahan, Jed of Gathol?"

For just a moment Tara of Helium looked her surprise; and then she
shrugged her beautiful shoulders as she turned her head to cast her
eyes over one of them at Gahan of Gathol.

"Jed or panthan," she said; "what difference does it make what one's
slave has been?" and she laughed roguishly into the smiling face of her
lover.

* * * * *

His story finished, John Carter rose from the chair opposite me,
stretching his giant frame like some great forest-bred lion.

"You must go?" I cried, for I hated to see him leave and it seemed that
he had been with me but a moment.

"The sky is already red beyond those beautiful hills of yours," he
replied, "and it will soon be day."

"Just one question before you go," I begged.

"Well?" he assented, good-naturedly.

"How was Gahan able to enter the throne room garbed in

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