The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 40

among many of these the
metal and harness were more ornate than had been those of the workers
in the fields above. The heads and bodies, however, were similar, even
identical, she thought. No one offered her harm and she was now
experiencing a feeling of relief almost akin to happiness, when her
guide turned suddenly into an opening on the right side of the tunnel
and she found herself in a large, well lighted chamber.



The song that had been upon her lips as she entered died there--frozen
by the sight of horror that met her eyes. In the center of the chamber
a headless body lay upon the floor--a body that had been partially
devoured--while over and upon it crawled a half a dozen heads upon
their short, spider legs, and they tore at the flesh of the woman with
their chelae and carried the bits to their awful mouths. They were
eating human flesh--eating it raw!

Tara of Helium gasped in horror and turning away covered her eyes with
her palms.

"Come!" said her captor. "What is the matter?"

"They are eating the flesh of the woman," she whispered in tones of

"Why not?" he inquired. "Did you suppose that we kept the rykor for
labor alone? Ah, no. They are delicious when kept and fattened.
Fortunate, too, are those that are bred for food, since they are never
called upon to do aught but eat."

"It is hideous!" she cried.

He looked at her steadily for a moment, but whether in surprise, in
anger, or in pity his expressionless face did not reveal. Then he led
her on across the room past the frightful thing, from which she turned
away her eyes. Lying about the floor near the walls were half a dozen
headless bodies in harness. These she guessed had been abandoned
temporarily by the feasting heads until they again required their
services. In the walls of this room there were many of the small, round
openings she had noticed in various parts of the tunnels, the purpose
of which she could not guess.

They passed through another corridor and then into a second chamber,
larger than the first and more brilliantly illuminated. Within were
several of the creatures with heads and bodies assembled, while many
headless bodies lay about near the walls. Here her captor halted and
spoke to one of the occupants of the chamber.

"I seek Luud," he said. "I bring to Luud a creature that I captured in
the fields above."

The others crowded about to examine Tara of Helium. One of them
whistled, whereupon the girl learned

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