The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 65

naught else than the jewel-encrusted emblem upon the prow of a
small flier. Gahan, his hand upon his short-sword, moved silently
forward, but as he neared the craft he saw that he had naught to fear,
for it was deserted. Then he turned his attention toward the emblem. As
its significance was flashed to his understanding his face paled and
his heart went cold--it was the insignia of the house of The Warlord of
Barsoom. Instantly he saw the dejected figure of the captive being led
back to her prison in the valley just beyond the hills. Tara of Helium!
And he had been so near to deserting her to her fate. The cold sweat
stood in beads upon his brow.

A hasty examination of the deserted craft unfolded to the young jed the
whole tragic story. The same tempest that had proved his undoing had
borne Tara of Helium to this distant country. Here, doubtless, she had
landed in hope of obtaining food and water since, without a propellor,
she could not hope to reach her native city, or any other friendly
port, other than by the merest caprice of Fate. The flier seemed intact
except for the missing propellor and the fact that it had been
carefully moored in the shelter of the clump of trees indicated that
the girl had expected to return to it, while the dust and leaves upon
its deck spoke of the long days, and even weeks, since she had landed.
Mute yet eloquent proofs, these things, that Tara of Helium was a
prisoner, and that she was the very prisoner whose bold dash for
liberty he had so recently witnessed he now had not the slightest doubt.

The question now revolved solely about her rescue. He knew to which
tower she had been taken--that much and no more. Of the number, the
kind, or the disposition of her captors he knew nothing; nor did he
care--for Tara of Helium he would face a hostile world alone. Rapidly
he considered several plans for succoring her; but the one that
appealed most strongly to him was that which offered the greatest
chance of escape for the girl should he be successful in reaching her.
His decision reached he turned his attention quickly toward the flier.
Casting off its lashings he dragged it out from beneath the trees, and,
mounting to the deck tested out the various controls. The motor started
at a touch and purred sweetly, the buoyancy tanks were well stocked,
and the ship answered perfectly to the controls which regulated her
altitude. There was nothing needed but

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