The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 66

a propellor to make her fit for
the long voyage to Helium. Gahan shrugged impatiently--there must not
be a propellor within a thousand haads. But what mattered it? The craft
even without a propellor would still answer the purpose his plan
required of it--provided the captors of Tara of Helium were a people
without ships, and he had seen nothing to suggest that they had ships.
The architecture of their towers and enclosures assured him that they
had not.

The sudden Barsoomian night had fallen. Cluros rode majestically the
high heavens. The rumbling roar of a banth reverberated among the
hills. Gahan of Gathol let the ship rise a few feet from the ground,
then, seizing a bow rope, he dropped over the side. To tow the little
craft was now a thing of ease, and as Gahan moved rapidly toward the
brow of the hill above Bantoom the flier floated behind him as lightly
as a swan upon a quiet lake. Now down the hill toward the tower dimly
visible in the moonlight the Gatholian turned his steps. Closer behind
him sounded the roar of the hunting banth. He wondered if the beast
sought him or was following some other spoor. He could not be delayed
now by any hungry beast of prey, for what might that very instant be
befalling Tara of Helium he could not guess; and so he hastened his
steps. But closer and closer came the horrid screams of the great
carnivore, and now he heard the swift fall of padded feet upon the
hillside behind him. He glanced back just in time to see the beast
break into a rapid charge. His hand leaped to the hilt of his
long-sword, but he did not draw, for in the same instant he saw the
futility of armed resistance, since behind the first banth came a herd
of at least a dozen others. There was but a single alternative to a
futile stand and that he grasped in the instant that he saw the
overwhelming numbers of his antagonists.

Springing lightly from the ground he swarmed up the rope toward the bow
of the flier. His weight drew the craft slightly lower and at the very
instant that the man drew himself to the deck at the bow of the vessel,
the leading banth sprang for the stern. Gahan leaped to his feet and
rushed toward the great beast in the hope of dislodging it before it
had succeeded in clambering aboard. At the same instant he saw that
others of the banths were racing toward them with the quite evident

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