The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 41

something of the smaller openings
in the walls, for almost immediately there crawled from them, like
giant spiders, a score or more of the hideous heads. Each sought one of
the recumbent bodies and fastened itself in place. Immediately the
bodies reacted to the intelligent direction of the heads. They arose,
the hands adjusted the leather collars and put the balance of the
harness in order, then the creatures crossed the room to where Tara of
Helium stood. She noted that their leather was more highly ornamented
than that worn by any of the others she had previously seen, and so she
guessed that these must be higher in authority than the others. Nor was
she mistaken. The demeanor of her captor indicated it. He addressed
them as one who holds intercourse with superiors.

Several of those who examined her felt her flesh, pinching it gently
between thumb and forefinger, a familiarity that the girl resented. She
struck down their hands. "Do not touch me!" she cried, imperiously, for
was she not a princess of Helium? The expression on those terrible
faces did not change. She could not tell whether they were angry or
amused, whether her action had filled them with respect for her, or
contempt. Only one of them spoke immediately.

"She will have to be fattened more," he said.

The girl's eyes went wide with horror. She turned upon her captor. "Do
these frightful creatures intend to devour me?" she cried.

"That is for Luud to say," he replied, and then he leaned closer so
that his mouth was near her ear. "That noise you made which you called
song pleased me," he whispered, "and I will repay you by warning you
not to antagonize these kaldanes. They are very powerful. Luud listens
to them. Do not call them frightful. They are very handsome. Look at
their wonderful trappings, their gold, their jewels."

"Thank you," she said. "You called them kaldanes--what does that mean?"

"We are all kaldanes," he replied.

"You, too?" and she pointed at him, her slim finger directed toward his
chest.

"No, not this," he explained, touching his body; "this is a rykor; but
this," and he touched his head, "is a kaldane. It is the brain, the
intellect, the power that directs all things. The rykor," he indicated
his body, "is nothing. It is not so much even as the jewels upon our
harness; no, not so much as the harness itself. It carries us about. It
is true that we would find difficulty getting along without it; but it
has less value than harness or jewels because it is less

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