The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 50

advantage of possessing an unlimited supply of bodies.
Do you not wish that you were a kaldane?"

For how long they kept her in the subterranean chamber Tara of Helium
did not know. It seemed a very long time. She ate and slept and watched
the interminable lines of creatures that passed the entrance to her
prison. There was a laden line passing from above carrying food, food,
food. In the other line they returned empty handed. When she saw them
she knew that it was daylight above. When they did not pass she knew it
was night, and that the banths were about devouring the rykors that had
been abandoned in the fields the previous day. She commenced to grow
pale and thin. She did not like the food they gave her--it was not
suited to her kind--nor would she have eaten overmuch palatable food,
for the fear of becoming fat. The idea of plumpness had a new
significance here--a horrible significance.

Ghek noted that she was growing thin and white. He spoke to her about
it and she told him that she could not thrive thus beneath the
ground--that she must have fresh air and sunshine, or she would wither
and die. Evidently he carried her words to Luud, since it was not long
after that he told her that the king had ordered that she be confined
in the tower and to the tower she was taken. She had hoped against hope
that this very thing might result from her conversation with Ghek. Even
to see the sun again was something, but now there sprang to her breast
a hope that she had not dared to nurse before, while she lay in the
terrible labyrinth from which she knew she could never have found her
way to the outer world; but now there was some slight reason to hope.
At least she could see the hills and if she could see them might there
not come also the opportunity to reach them? If she could have but ten
minutes--just ten little minutes! The flier was still there--she knew
that it must be. Just ten minutes and she would be free--free forever
from this frightful place; but the days wore on and she was never
alone, not even for half of ten minutes. Many times she planned her
escape. Had it not been for the banths it had been easy of
accomplishment by night. Ghek always detached his body then and sank
into what seemed a semi-comatose condition. It could not be said that
he slept, or at least it did not

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