The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 34

whistling of their
fellows. Instructions and commands were shouted to and fro, with the
result that those before her spread roughly into a great half circle to
intercept her, and when she turned to the right, hoping to elude the
net, she saw others coming from fields beyond, and to the left the same
was true. But Tara of Helium would not admit defeat. Without once
pausing she turned directly toward the center of the advancing
semi-circle, beyond which lay her single chance of escape, and as she
ran she drew her long, slim dagger. Like her valiant sire, if die she
must, she would die fighting. There were gaps in the thin line
confronting her and toward the widest of one of these she directed her
course. The things on either side of the opening guessed her intent for
they closed in to place themselves in her path. This widened the
openings on either side of them and as the girl appeared almost to rush
into their arms she turned suddenly at right angles, ran swiftly in the
new direction for a few yards, and then dashed quickly toward the hill
again. Now only a single warrior, with a wide gap on either side of
him, barred her clear way to freedom, though all the others were
speeding as rapidly as they could to intercept her. If she could pass
this one without too much delay she could escape, of that she was
certain. Her every hope hinged on this. The creature before her
realized it, too, for he moved cautiously, though swiftly, to intercept
her, as a Rugby fullback might maneuver in the realization that he
alone stood between the opposing team and a touchdown.

At first Tara of Helium had hoped that she might dodge him, for she
could not but guess that she was not only more fleet but infinitely
more agile than these strange creatures; but soon there came to her the
realization that in the time consumed in an attempt to elude his grasp
his nearer fellows would be upon her and escape then impossible, so she
chose instead to charge straight for him, and when he guessed her
decision he stood, half crouching and with outstretched arms, awaiting
her. In one hand was his sword, but a voice arose, crying in tones of
authority. "Take her alive! Do not harm her!" Instantly the fellow
returned his sword to its scabbard and then Tara of Helium was upon
him. Straight for that beautiful body she sprang and in the instant
that the arms closed to seize her her sharp

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