The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 86

of Helium bid her panthan search for food and drink; but she
cautioned him against attempting to enter the city. Before he left her
he bent and kissed her hand as a warrior may kiss the hand of his queen.



Turan the panthan approached the strange city under cover of the
darkness. He entertained little hope of finding either food or water
outside the wall, but he would try and then, if he failed, he would
attempt to make his way into the city, for Tara of Helium must have
sustenance and have it soon. He saw that the walls were poorly
sentineled, but they were sufficiently high to render an attempt to
scale them foredoomed to failure. Taking advantage of underbrush and
trees, Turan managed to reach the base of the wall without detection.
Silently he moved north past the gateway which was closed by a massive
gate which effectively barred even the slightest glimpse within the
city beyond. It was Turan's hope to find upon the north side of the
city away from the hills a level plain where grew the crops of the
inhabitants, and here too water from their irrigating system, but
though he traveled far along that seemingly interminable wall he found
no fields nor any water. He searched also for some means of ingress to
the city, yet here, too, failure was his only reward, and now as he
went keen eyes watched him from above and a silent stalker kept pace
with him for a time upon the summit of the wall; but presently the
shadower descended to the pavement within and hurrying swiftly raced
ahead of the stranger without.

He came presently to a small gate beside which was a low building and
before the doorway of the building a warrior standing guard. He spoke a
few quick words to the warrior and then entered the building only to
return almost immediately to the street, followed by fully forty
warriors. Cautiously opening the gate the fellow peered carefully along
the wall upon the outside in the direction from which he had come.
Evidently satisfied, he issued a few words of instruction to those
behind him, whereupon half the warriors returned to the interior of the
building, while the other half followed the man stealthily through the
gateway where they crouched low among the shrubbery in a half circle
just north of the gateway which they had left open. Here they waited in
utter silence, nor had they long to wait before Turan the panthan came
cautiously along the base of the wall. To the very gate

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