The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 7

shoulder or the
symmetry of a perfect arm, resplendent in bracelets of barbaric
magnificence.

"Your ancient history has doubtless told you that Gathol was built upon
an island in Throxeus, mightiest of the five oceans of old Barsoom. As
the ocean receded Gathol crept down the sides of the mountain, the
summit of which was the island upon which she had been built, until
today she covers the slopes from summit to base, while the bowels of
the great hill are honeycombed with the galleries of her mines.
Entirely surrounding us is a great salt marsh, which protects us from
invasion by land, while the rugged and ofttimes vertical topography of
our mountain renders the landing of hostile airships a precarious
undertaking."

"That, and your brave warriors?" suggested the girl.

Gahan smiled. "We do not speak of that except to enemies," he said,
"and then with tongues of steel rather than of flesh."

"But what practice in the art of war has a people which nature has thus
protected from attack?" asked Tara of Helium, who had liked the young
jed's answer to her previous question, but yet in whose mind persisted
a vague conviction of the possible effeminacy of her companion,
induced, doubtless, by the magnificence of his trappings and weapons
which carried a suggestion of splendid show rather than grim utility.

"Our natural barriers, while they have doubtless saved us from defeat
on countless occasions, have not by any means rendered us immune from
attack," he explained, "for so great is the wealth of Gathol's diamond
treasury that there yet may be found those who will risk almost certain
defeat in an effort to loot our unconquered city; so thus we find
occasional practice in the exercise of arms; but there is more to
Gathol than the mountain city. My country extends from Polodona
(Equator) north ten karads and from the tenth karad west of Horz to the
twentieth west, including thus a million square haads, the greater
proportion of which is fine grazing land where run our great herds of
thoats and zitidars.

"Surrounded as we are by predatory enemies our herdsmen must indeed be
warriors or we should have no herds, and you may be assured they get
plenty of fighting. Then there is our constant need of workers in the
mines. The Gatholians consider themselves a race of warriors and as
such prefer not to labor in the mines. The law is, however, that each
male Gatholian shall give an hour a day in labor to the government.
That is practically the only tax that is levied upon them. They prefer
however, to furnish a

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