The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 87

he came and
when he found it and that it was open he paused for a moment,
listening; then he approached and looked within. Assured that there was
none within sight to apprehend him he stepped through the gateway into
the city.

He found himself in a narrow street that paralleled the wall. Upon the
opposite side rose buildings of an architecture unknown to him, yet
strangely beautiful. While the buildings were packed closely together
there seemed to be no two alike and their fronts were of all shapes and
heights and of many hues. The skyline was broken by spire and dome and
minaret and tall, slender towers, while the walls supported many a
balcony and in the soft light of Cluros, the farther moon, now low in
the west, he saw, to his surprise and consternation, the figures of
people upon the balconies. Directly opposite him were two women and a
man. They sat leaning upon the rail of the balcony looking, apparently,
directly at him; but if they saw him they gave no sign.

Turan hesitated a moment in the face of almost certain discovery and
then, assured that they must take him for one of their own people, he
moved boldly into the avenue. Having no idea of the direction in which
he might best hope to find what he sought, and not wishing to arouse
suspicion by further hesitation, he turned to the left and stepped
briskly along the pavement with the intention of placing himself as
quickly as possible beyond the observation of those nocturnal watchers.
He knew that the night must be far spent; and so he could not but
wonder why people should sit upon their balconies when they should have
been asleep among their silks and furs. At first he had thought them
the late guests of some convivial host; but the windows behind them
were shrouded in darkness and utter quiet prevailed, quite upsetting
such a theory. And as he proceeded he passed many another group sitting
silently upon other balconies. They paid no attention to him, seeming
not even to note his passing. Some leaned with a single elbow upon the
rail, their chins resting in their palms; others leaned upon both arms
across the balcony, looking down into the street, while several that he
saw held musical instruments in their hands, but their fingers moved
not upon the strings.

And then Turan came to a point where the avenue turned to the right, to
skirt a building that jutted from the inside of the city wall, and as
he rounded the corner he came full

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