The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 78

girl above, "or they will drag us down!"
But the ship seemed scarcely to move, though in reality she was rising
as rapidly as might have been expected of a one-man flier carrying a
load of three. Gahan swung free above the top of the wall, but the end
of the rope still dragged the ground as the kaldanes reached it. They
were pouring in a steady stream from the tower into the enclosure. The
leader seized the rope.

"Quick!" he cried. "Lay hold and we will drag them down."

It needed but the weight of a few to accomplish his design. The ship
was stopped in its flight and then, to the horror of the girl, she felt
it being dragged steadily downward. Gahan, too, realized the danger and
the necessity for instant action. Clinging to the rope with his left
hand, he had wound a leg about it, leaving his right hand free for his
long-sword which he had not sheathed. A downward cut clove the soft
head of a kaldane, and another severed the taut rope beneath the
panthan's feet. The girl heard a sudden renewal of the shrill whistling
of her foes, and at the same time she realized that the craft was
rising again. Slowly it drifted upward, out of reach of the enemy, and
a moment later she saw the figure of Turan clamber over the side. For
the first time in many weeks her heart was filled with the joy of
thanksgiving; but her first thought was of another.

"You are not wounded?" she asked.

"No, Tara of Helium," he replied. "They were scarce worth the effort of
my blade, and never were they a menace to me because of their swords."

"They should have slain you easily," said Ghek. "So great and highly
developed is the power of reason among us that they should have known
before you struck just where, logically, you must seek to strike, and
so they should have been able to parry your every thrust and easily
find an opening to your heart."

"But they did not, Ghek," Gahan reminded him. "Their theory of
development is wrong, for it does not tend toward a perfectly balanced
whole. You have developed the brain and neglected the body and you can
never do with the hands of another what you can do with your own hands.
Mine are trained to the sword--every muscle responds instantly and
accurately, and almost mechanically, to the need of the instant. I am
scarcely objectively aware that I think when I fight, so quickly does
my point take advantage of every

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