The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 79

opening, or spring to my defense if I
am threatened that it is almost as though the cold steel had eyes and
brains. You, with your kaldane brain and your rykor body, never could
hope to achieve in the same degree of perfection those things that I
can achieve. Development of the brain should not be the sum total of
human endeavor. The richest and happiest peoples will be those who
attain closest to well-balanced perfection of both mind and body, and
even these must always be short of perfection. In absolute and general
perfection lies stifling monotony and death. Nature must have
contrasts; she must have shadows as well as highlights; sorrow with
happiness; both wrong and right; and sin as well as virtue."

"Always have I been taught differently," replied Ghek; "but since I
have known this woman and you, of another race, I have come to believe
that there may be other standards fully as high and desirable as those
of the kaldanes. At least I have had a glimpse of the thing you call
happiness and I realize that it may be good even though I have no means
of expressing it. I cannot laugh nor smile, and yet within me is a
sense of contentment when this woman sings--a sense that seems to open
before me wondrous vistas of beauty and unguessed pleasure that far
transcend the cold joys of a perfectly functioning brain. I would that
I had been born of thy race."

Caught by a gentle current of air the flier was drifting slowly toward
the northeast across the valley of Bantoom. Below them lay the
cultivated fields, and one after another they passed over the strange
towers of Moak and Nolach and the other kings of the swarms that
inhabited this weird and terrible land. Within each enclosure
surrounding the towers grovelled the rykors, repellent, headless
things, beautiful yet hideous.

"A lesson, those," remarked Gahan, indicating the rykors in an
enclosure above which they were drifting at the time, "to that
fortunately small minority of our race which worships the flesh and
makes a god of appetite. You know them, Tara of Helium; they can tell
you exactly what they had at the midday meal two weeks ago, and how the
loin of the thoat should be prepared, and what drink should be served
with the rump of the zitidar."

Tara of Helium laughed. "But not one of them could tell you the name of
the man whose painting took the Jeddak's Award in The Temple of Beauty
this year," she said. "Like the rykors, their development has not

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