The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 85

You are a brave panthan and a mighty one, but
you cannot overcome a city singlehanded."

She smiled up into his face and her hand still lay upon his arm. He
felt the thrill of hot blood coursing through his veins. He could have
seized her in his arms and crushed her to him. There was only Ghek the
kaldane there, but there was something stronger within him that
restrained his hand. Who may define it--that inherent chivalry that
renders certain men the natural protectors of women?

From their vantage point they saw a body of armed warriors ride forth
from the gate, and winding along a well-beaten road pass from sight
about the foot of the hill from which they watched. The men were red,
like themselves, and they rode the small saddle thoats of the red race.
Their trappings were barbaric and magnificent, and in their head-dress
were many feathers as had been the custom of ancients. They were armed
with swords and long spears and they rode almost naked, their bodies
being painted in ochre and blue and white. There were, perhaps, a score
of them in the party and as they galloped away on their tireless mounts
they presented a picture at once savage and beautiful.

"They have the appearance of splendid warriors," said Turan. "I have a
great mind to walk boldly into their city and seek service."

Tara shook her head. "Wait," she admonished. "What would I do without
you, and if you were captured how could you collect your reward?"

"I should escape," he said. "At any rate I shall try it," and he
started to rise.

"You shall not," said the girl, her tone all authority.

The man looked at her quickly--questioningly.

"You have entered my service," she said, a trifle haughtily.

"You have entered my service for hire and you shall do as I bid you."

Turan sank down beside her again with a half smile upon his lips. "It
is yours to command, Princess," he said.

The day passed. Ghek, tiring of the sunlight, had deserted his rykor
and crawled down a hole he had discovered close by. Tara and Turan
reclined beneath the scant shade of a small tree. They watched the
people coming and going through the gate. The party of horsemen did not
return. A small herd of zitidars was driven into the city during the
day, and once a caravan of broad-wheeled carts drawn by these huge
animals wound out of the distant horizon and came down to the city. It,
too, passed from their sight within the gateway. Then darkness came and

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