The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 46

be Luud and all would go on as before, for are we not all alike?
Luud has lived a long time and has produced many kings, so he lets only
a few live that there may be a successor to him when he dies. The
others he kills."

"Why does he keep more than one?" queried the girl.

"Sometimes accidents occur," replied Ghek, "and all the kings that a
swarm has saved are killed. When this happens the swarm comes and
obtains another king from a neighboring swarm."

"Are all of you the children of Luud?" she asked.

"All but a few, who are from the eggs of the preceding king, as was
Luud; but Luud has lived a long time and not many of the others are
left."

"You live a long time, or short?" Tara asked.

"A very long time."

"And the rykors, too; they live a long time?"

"No; the rykors live for ten years, perhaps," he said, "if they remain
strong and useful. When they can no longer be of service to us, either
through age or sickness, we leave them in the fields and the banths
come at night and get them."

"How horrible!" she exclaimed.

"Horrible?" he repeated. "I see nothing horrible about that. The rykors
are but brainless flesh. They neither see, nor feel, nor hear. They can
scarce move but for us. If we did not bring them food they would starve
to death. They are less deserving of thought than our leather. All that
they can do for themselves is to take food from a trough and put it in
their mouths, but with us--look at them!" and he proudly exhibited the
noble figure that he surmounted, palpitant with life and energy and
feeling.

"How do you do it?" asked Tara of Helium. "I do not understand it at
all."

"I will show you," he said, and lay down upon the floor. Then he
detached himself from the body, which lay as a thing dead. On his
spider legs he walked toward the girl. "Now look," he admonished her.
"Do you see this thing?" and he extended what appeared to be a bundle
of tentacles from the posterior part of his head. "There is an aperture
just back of the rykor's mouth and directly over the upper end of his
spinal column. Into this aperture I insert my tentacles and seize the
spinal cord. Immediately I control every muscle of the rykor's body--it
becomes my own, just as you direct the movement of the muscles of your
body. I feel what the rykor would feel if he had a head

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