The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 38

room from which a circular tunnel led away
from the tower, and into this the creature conducted her. The tunnel
was some seven feet in diameter and flattened on the bottom to form a
walk. For a hundred feet from the tower it was lined with the same
tile-like material of the light well and amply illuminated by reflected
light from that source. Beyond it was faced with stone of various
shapes and sizes, neatly cut and fitted together--a very fine mosaic
without a pattern. There were branches, too, and other tunnels which
crossed this, and occasionally openings not more than a foot in
diameter; these latter being usually close to the floor. Above each of
these smaller openings was painted a different device, while upon the
walls of the larger tunnels at all intersections and points of
convergence hieroglyphics appeared. These the girl could not read
though she guessed that they were the names of the tunnels, or notices
indicating the points to which they led. She tried to study some of
them out, but there was not a character that was familiar to her, which
seemed strange, since, while the written languages of the various
nations of Barsoom differ, it still is true that they have many
characters and words in common.

She had tried to converse with her guard but he had not seemed inclined
to talk with her and she had finally desisted. She could not but note
that he had offered her no indignities, nor had he been either
unnecessarily rough or in any way cruel. The fact that she had slain
two of the bodies with her dagger had apparently aroused no animosity
or desire for revenge in the minds of the strange heads that surmounted
the bodies--even those whose bodies had been killed. She did not try to
understand it, since she could not approach the peculiar relationship
between the heads and the bodies of these creatures from the basis of
any past knowledge or experience of her own. So far their treatment of
her seemed to augur naught that might arouse her fears. Perhaps, after
all, she had been fortunate to fall into the hands of these strange
people, who might not only protect her from harm, but even aid her in
returning to Helium. That they were repulsive and uncanny she could not
forget, but if they meant her no harm she could, at least, overlook
their repulsiveness. Renewed hope aroused within her a spirit of
greater cheerfulness, and it was almost blithely now that she moved at
the side of her weird companion. She even caught

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