The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 30

shadows that
altered the very hills themselves; far Cluros, stately, majestic,
almost stationary, shedding his steady light upon the world below;
Thuria, a great and glorious orb, swinging swift across the vaulted
dome of the blue-black night, so low that she seemed to graze the
hills, a gorgeous spectacle that held the girl now beneath the spell of
its enchantment as it always had and always would.

"Ah, Thuria, mad queen of heaven!" murmured Tara of Helium. "The hills
pass in stately procession, their bosoms rising and falling; the trees
move in restless circles; the little grasses describe their little
arcs; and all is movement, restless, mysterious movement without sound,
while Thuria passes." The girl sighed and let her gaze fall again to
the stern realities beneath. There was no mystery in the huge banths.
He who had discovered her squatted there looking hungrily up at her.
Most of the others had wandered away in search of other prey, but a few
remained hoping yet to bury their fangs in that soft body.

The night wore on. Again Thuria left the heavens to her lord and
master, hurrying on to keep her tryst with the Sun in other skies. But
a single banth waited impatiently beneath the tree which harbored Tara
of Helium. The others had left, but their roars, and growls, and moans
thundered or rumbled, or floated back to her from near and far. What
prey found they in this little valley? There must be something that
they were accustomed to find here that they should be drawn in so great
numbers. The girl wondered what it could be.

How long the night! Numb, cold, and exhausted, Tara of Helium clung to
the tree in growing desperation, for once she had dozed and almost
fallen. Hope was low in her brave little heart. How much more could she
endure? She asked herself the question and then, with a brave shake of
her head, she squared her shoulders. "I still live!" she said aloud.

The banth looked up and growled.

Came Thuria again and after awhile the great Sun--a flaming lover,
pursuing his heart's desire. And Cluros, the cold husband, continued
his serene way, as placid as before his house had been violated by this
hot Lothario. And now the Sun and both Moons rode together in the sky,
lending their far mysteries to make weird the Martian dawn. Tara of
Helium looked out across the fair valley that spread upon all sides of
her. It was rich and beautiful, but even as she looked upon it she
shuddered, for to her mind came a picture

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