The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 84

first glance at the city, now much closer than when they had first
discovered it, revealed the fact that it was inhabited. Banners and
pennons broke from many a staff. People were moving about the gate
before them. The high white walls were paced by sentinels at far
intervals. Upon the roofs of higher buildings the women could be seen
airing the sleeping silks and furs. Turan watched it all in silence for
some time.

"I do not know them," he said at last. "I cannot guess what city this
may be. But it is an ancient city. Its people have no fliers and no
firearms. It must be old indeed."

"How do you know they have not these things?" asked the girl.

"There are no landing-stages upon the roofs--not one that can be seen
from here; while were we looking similarly at Helium we would see
hundreds. And they have no firearms because their defenses are all
built to withstand the attack of spear and arrow, with spear and arrow.
They are an ancient people."

"If they are ancient perhaps they are friendly," suggested the girl.
"Did we not learn as children in the history of our planet that it was
once peopled by a friendly, peace-loving race?"

"But I fear they are not as ancient as that," replied Turan, laughing.
"It has been long ages since the men of Barsoom loved peace."

"My father loves peace," returned the girl.

"And yet he is always at war," said the man.

She laughed. "But he says he likes peace."

"We all like peace," he rejoined; "peace with honor; but our neighbors
will not let us have it, and so we must fight."

"And to fight well men must like to fight," she added.

"And to like to fight they must know how to fight," he said, "for no
man likes to do the thing that he does not know how to do well."

"Or that some other man can do better than he."

"And so always there will be wars and men will fight," he concluded,
"for always the men with hot blood in their veins will practice the art
of war."

"We have settled a great question," said the girl, smiling; "but our
stomachs are still empty."

"Your panthan is neglecting his duty," replied Turan; "and how can he
with the great reward always before his eyes!"

She did not guess in what literal a sense he spoke.

"I go forthwith," he continued, "to wrest food and drink from the
ancients."

"No," she cried, laying a hand upon his arm, "not yet. They would slay
you or make you prisoner.

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