The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 73

of Barsoom is in itself sufficient reward."

As they spoke the girl was making her way through the aperture after
Ghek, and presently all three had quitted the apartments of Luud and
were moving rapidly along the winding corridors toward the tower. Ghek
repeatedly urged them to greater speed, but the red men of Barsoom were
never keen for retreat, and so the two that followed him moved all too
slowly for the kaldane.

"There are none to impede our progress," urged Gahan, "so why tax the
strength of the Princess by needless haste?"

"I fear not so much opposition ahead, for there are none there who know
the thing that has been done in Luud's chambers this night; but the
kaldane of one of the warriors who stood guard before Luud's apartment
escaped, and you may count it a truth that he lost no time in seeking
aid. That it did not come before we left is due solely to the rapidity
with which events transpired in the king's* room. Long before we reach
the tower they will be upon us from behind, and that they will come in
numbers far superior to ours and with great and powerful rykors I well
know."

* I have used the word king in describing the rulers or chiefs of the
Bantoomian swarms, since the word itself is unpronounceable in English,
nor does jed or jeddak of the red Martian tongue have quite the same
meaning as the Bantoomian word, which has practically the same
significance as the English word queen as applied to the leader of a
swarm of bees.--J. C.


Nor was Ghek's prophecy long in fulfilment. Presently the sounds of
pursuit became audible in the distant clanking of accouterments and the
whistling call to arms of the kaldanes.

"The tower is but a short distance now," cried Ghek. "Make haste while
yet you may, and if we can barricade it until the sun rises we may yet
escape."

"We shall need no barricades for we shall not linger in the tower,"
replied Gahan, moving more rapidly as he realized from the volume of
sound behind them the great number of their pursuers.

"But we may not go further than the tower tonight," insisted Ghek.
"Beyond the tower await the banths and certain death."

Gahan smiled. "Fear not the banths," he assured them. "Can we but reach
the enclosure a little ahead of our pursuers we have naught to fear
from any evil power within this accursed valley."

Ghek made no reply, nor did his expressionless face denote either
belief or skepticism. The girl looked into the face of

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