The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 53

hideous eyes bent
upon the upturned soil. She led Ghek quite close to them, pretending
that she wished to see exactly how they did the work, and all the time
he held her tightly by her left wrist.

"It is very interesting," she said, with a sigh, and then, suddenly;
"Look, Ghek!" and pointed quickly back in the direction of the tower.
The kaldane, still holding her turned half away from her to look in the
direction she had indicated and simultaneously, with the quickness of a
banth, she struck him with her right fist, backed by every ounce of
strength she possessed--struck the back of the pulpy head just above
the collar. The blow was sufficient to accomplish her design,
dislodging the kaldane from its rykor and tumbling it to the ground.
Instantly the grasp upon her wrist relaxed as the body, no longer
controlled by the brain of Ghek, stumbled aimlessly about for an
instant before it sank to its knees and then rolled over on its back;
but Tara of Helium waited not to note the full results of her act. The
instant the fingers loosened upon her wrist she broke away and dashed
toward the hills. Simultaneously a warning whistle broke from Ghek's
lips and in instant response the workers leaped to their feet, one
almost in the girl's path. She dodged the outstretched arms and was
away again toward the hills and freedom, when her foot caught in one of
the hoe-like instruments with which the soil had been upturned and
which had been left, half imbedded in the ground. For an instant she
ran on, stumbling, in a mad effort to regain her equilibrium, but the
upturned furrows caught her feet--again she stumbled and this time went
down, and as she scrambled to rise again a heavy body fell upon her and
seized her arms. A moment later she was surrounded and dragged to her
feet and as she looked around she saw Ghek crawling to his prostrate
rykor. A moment later he advanced to her side.

The hideous face, incapable of registering emotion, gave no clue to
what was passing in the enormous brain. Was he nursing thoughts of
anger, of hate, of revenge? Tara of Helium could not guess, nor did she
care. The worst had happened. She had tried to escape and she had
failed. There would never be another opportunity.

"Come!" said Ghek. "We will return to the tower." The deadly monotone
of his voice was unbroken. It was worse than anger, for it revealed
nothing of his intentions. It but increased her horror of these

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