The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 33

were covered with ornaments of precious metals and
jewels, so that little more than eyes, nose, and mouth were
discernible. These were hideously inhuman and yet grotesquely human at
the same time. The eyes were far apart and protruding, the nose scarce
more than two small, parallel slits set vertically above a round hole
that was the mouth. The heads were peculiarly repulsive--so much so
that it seemed unbelievable to the girl that they formed an integral
part of the beautiful bodies below them.

So fascinated was Tara of Helium that she could scarce take her eyes
from the strange creatures--a fact that was to prove her undoing, for
in order that she might see them she was forced to expose a part of her
own head and presently, to her consternation, she saw that one of the
creatures had stopped his work and was staring directly at her. She did
not dare move, for it was still possible that the thing had not seen
her, or at least was only suspicious that some creature lay hid among
the weeds. If she could allay this suspicion by remaining motionless
the creature might believe that he had been mistaken and return to his
work; but, alas, such was not to be the case. She saw the thing call
the attention of others to her and almost immediately four or five of
them started to move in her direction.

It was impossible now to escape discovery. Her only hope lay in flight.
If she could elude them and reach the hills and the flier ahead of them
she might escape, and that could be accomplished in but one
way--flight, immediate and swift. Leaping to her feet she darted along
the base of the wall which she must skirt to the opposite side, beyond
which lay the hill that was her goal. Her act was greeted by strange
whistling sounds from the things behind her, and casting a glance over
her shoulder she saw them all in rapid pursuit.

There were also shrill commands that she halt, but to these she paid no
attention. Before she had half circled the enclosure she discovered
that her chances for successful escape were great, since it was evident
to her that her pursuers were not so fleet as she. High indeed then
were her hopes as she came in sight of the hill, but they were soon
dashed by what lay before her, for there, in the fields that lay
between, were fully a hundred creatures similar to those behind her and
all were on the alert, evidently warned by the

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