The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 44

leaves," replied Luud.

"But my people are not at war with yours. I am a princess of Helium; my
great-grandfather is a jeddak; my grandfather a jed; and my father is
Warlord of all Barsoom. You have no right to keep me and I demand that
you liberate me at once."

"None who enters Bantoom ever leaves," repeated the creature without
expression. "I know nothing of the lesser creatures of Barsoom, of whom
you speak. There is but one high race--the race of Bantoomians. All
Nature exists to serve them. You shall do your share, but not yet--you
are too skinny. We shall have to put some fat upon it, Sept. I tire of
rykor. Perhaps this will have a different flavor. The banths are too
rank and it is seldom that any other creature enters the valley. And
you, Ghek; you shall be rewarded. I shall promote you from the fields
to the burrows. Hereafter you shall remain underground as every
Bantoomian longs to. No more shall you be forced to endure the hated
sun, or look upon the hideous sky, or the hateful growing things that
defile the surface. For the present you shall look after this thing
that you have brought me, seeing that it sleeps and eats--and does
nothing else. You understand me, Ghek; nothing else!"

"I understand, Luud," replied the other.

"Take it away!" commanded the creature.

Ghek turned and led Tara of Helium from the apartment. The girl was
horrified by contemplation of the fate that awaited her--a fate from
which it seemed, there was no escape. It was only too evident that
these creatures possessed no gentle or chivalric sentiments to which
she could appeal, and that she might escape from the labyrinthine mazes
of their underground burrows appeared impossible.

Outside the audience chamber Sept overtook them and conversed with Ghek
for a brief period, then her keeper led her through a confusing web of
winding tunnels until they came to a small apartment.

"We are to remain here for a while. It may be that Luud will send for
you again. If he does you will probably not be fattened--he will use
you for another purpose." It was fortunate for the girl's peace of mind
that she did not realize what he meant. "Sing for me," said Ghek,
presently.

Tara of Helium did not feel at all like singing, but she sang,
nevertheless, for there was always the hope that she might escape if
given the opportunity and if she could win the friendship of one of the
creatures, her chances would be increased proportionately. All during
the ordeal, for such

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