The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 64

seemingly as good
as new, ran quickly to where its fellows were dragging the hapless
captive to its feet.

The watcher saw the creature take its prisoner by the arm and lead it
back to the enclosure, and even across the distance that separated them
from him he could note dejection and utter hopelessness in the bearing
of the prisoner, and, too, he was half convinced that it was a woman,
perhaps a red Martian of his own race. Could he be sure that this was
true he must make some effort to rescue her even though the customs of
his strange world required it only in case she was of his own country;
but he was not sure; she might not be a red Martian at all, or, if she
were, it was as possible that she sprang from an enemy people as not.
His first duty was to return to his own people with as little personal
risk as possible, and though the thought of adventure stirred his blood
he put the temptation aside with a sigh and turned away from the
peaceful and beautiful valley that he longed to enter, for it was his
intention to skirt its eastern edge and continue his search for Gathol

As Gahan of Gathol turned his steps along the southern slopes of the
hills that bound Bantoom upon the south and east, his attention was
attracted toward a small cluster of trees a short distance to his
right. The low sun was casting long shadows. It would soon be night.
The trees were off the path that he had chosen and he had little mind
to be diverted from his way; but as he looked again he hesitated. There
was something there besides boles of trees, and underbrush. There were
suggestions of familiar lines of the handicraft of man. Gahan stopped
and strained his eyes in the direction of the thing that had arrested
his attention. No, he must be mistaken--the branches of the trees and a
low bush had taken on an unnatural semblance in the horizontal rays of
the setting sun. He turned and continued upon his way; but as he cast
another side glance in the direction of the object of his interest, the
sun's rays were shot back into his eyes from a glistening point of
radiance among the trees.

Gahan shook his head and walked quickly toward the mystery, determined
now to solve it. The shining object still lured him on and when he had
come closer to it his eyes went wide in surprise, for the thing they
saw was

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