The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 76

but something else--a quality that was indefinable,
yet as distinct as it was familiar. She had heard it before when the
voice of her great-grandsire, Tardos Mors, Jeddak of Helium, had risen
in command; and in the voice of her grandfather, Mors Kajak, the jed;
and in the ringing tones of her illustrious sire, John Carter, Warlord
of Barsoom, when he addressed his warriors.

But now she had no time to speculate upon so trivial a thing, for
behind her came the sudden clash of arms and she knew that Turan, the
panthan, had crossed swords with the first of their pursuers. As she
glanced back he was still visible beyond a turn in the stairway, so
that she could see the quick swordplay that ensued. Daughter of a
world's greatest swordsman, she knew well the finest points of the art.
She saw the clumsy attack of the kaldane and the quick, sure return of
the panthan. As she looked down from above upon his almost naked body,
trapped only in the simplest of unadorned harness, and saw the play of
the lithe muscles beneath the red-bronze skin, and witnessed the quick
and delicate play of his sword point, to her sense of obligation was
added a spontaneous admission of admiration that was but the natural
tribute of a woman to skill and bravery and, perchance, some trifle to
manly symmetry and strength.

Three times the panthan's blade changed its position--once to fend a
savage cut; once to feint; and once to thrust. And as he withdrew it
from the last position the kaldane rolled lifeless from its stumbling
rykor and Turan sprang quickly down the steps to engage the next
behind, and then Ghek had drawn Tara upward and a turn in the stairway
shut the battling panthan from her view; but still she heard the ring
of steel on steel, the clank of accouterments and the shrill whistling
of the kaldanes. Her heart moved her to turn back to the side of her
brave defender; but her judgment told her that she could serve him best
by being ready at the control of the flier at the moment he reached the
enclosure.



CHAPTER IX

ADRIFT OVER STRANGE REGIONS

Presently Ghek pushed aside a door that opened from the stairway, and
before them Tara saw the moonlight flooding the walled court where the
headless rykors lay beside their feeding-troughs. She saw the perfect
bodies, muscled as the best of her father's fighting men, and the
females whose figures would have been the envy of many of Helium's most
beautiful women. Ah, if she could but endow these

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