The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 37

The new body now appropriated these and the hands
deftly adjusted them. The creature was now as good as before Tara of
Helium had struck down its former body with her slim blade. But there
was a difference. Before it had been male--now it was female. That,
however, seemed to make no difference to the head. In fact, Tara of
Helium had noticed during the scramble and the fight about her that sex
differences seemed of little moment to her captors. Males and females
had taken equal part in her pursuit, both were identically harnessed
and both carried swords, and she had seen as many females as males draw
their weapons at the moment that a quarrel between the two factions
seemed imminent.

The girl was given but brief opportunity for further observation of the
pitiful creatures in the enclosure as her captor, after having directed
the others to return to the fields, led her toward the tower, which
they entered, passing into an apartment about ten feet wide and twenty
long, in one end of which was a stairway leading to an upper level and
in the other an opening to a similar stairway leading downward. The
chamber, though on a level with the ground, was brilliantly lighted by
windows in its inner wall, the light coming from a circular court in
the center of the tower. The walls of this court appeared to be faced
with what resembled glazed, white tile and the whole interior of it was
flooded with dazzling light, a fact which immediately explained to the
girl the purpose of the glass prisms of which the domes were
constructed. The stairways themselves were sufficient to cause remark,
since in nearly all Barsoomian architecture inclined runways are
utilized for purposes of communication between different levels, and
especially is this true of the more ancient forms and of those of
remote districts where fewer changes have come to alter the customs of
antiquity.

Down the stairway her captor led Tara of Helium. Down and down through
chambers still lighted from the brilliant well. Occasionally they
passed others going in the opposite direction and these always stopped
to examine the girl and ask questions of her captor.

"I know nothing but that she was found in the fields and that I caught
her after a fight in which she slew two rykors and in which I slew a
Moak, and that I take her to Luud, to whom, of course, she belongs. If
Luud wishes to question her that is for Luud to do--not for me." Thus
always he answered the curious.

Presently they reached a

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