The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 32

within, but voices. In the
world-language of Barsoom she heard a man issuing instructions--so many
were to pick usa, so many were to irrigate this field, so many to
cultivate that, and so on, as a foreman lays out the day's work for his

Tara of Helium had just reached the gate in the outer wall. Without
warning it swung open toward her. She saw that for a moment it would
hide her from those within and in that moment she turned and ran,
keeping close to the wall, until, passing out of sight beyond the curve
of the structure, she came to the opposite side of the enclosure. Here,
panting from her exertion and from the excitement of her narrow escape,
she threw herself among some tall weeds that grew close to the foot of
the wall. There she lay trembling for some time, not even daring to
raise her head and look about. Never before had Tara of Helium felt the
paralyzing effects of terror. She was shocked and angry at herself,
that she, daughter of John Carter, Warlord of Barsoom, should exhibit
fear. Not even the fact that there had been none there to witness it
lessened her shame and anger, and the worst of it was she knew that
under similar circumstances she would again be equally as craven. It
was not the fear of death--she knew that. No, it was the thought of
those headless bodies and that she might see them and that they might
even touch her--lay hands upon her--seize her. She shuddered and
trembled at the thought.

After a while she gained sufficient command of herself to raise her
head and look about. To her horror she discovered that everywhere she
looked she saw people working in the fields or preparing to do so.
Workmen were coming from other towers. Little bands were passing to
this field and that. There were even some already at work within thirty
ads of her--about a hundred yards. There were ten, perhaps, in the
party nearest her, both men and women, and all were beautiful of form
and grotesque of face. So meager were their trappings that they were
practically naked; a fact that was in no way remarkable among the
tillers of the fields of Mars. Each wore the peculiar, high leather
collar that completely hid the neck, and each wore sufficient other
leather to support a single sword and a pocket-pouch. The leather was
very old and worn, showing long, hard service, and was absolutely plain
with the exception of a single device upon the left shoulder. The
heads, however,

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