The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 90

it resisted his every
effort--it was locked upon the outside. Here indeed was a sorry
contretemps. Turan the panthan scratched his head. "Fortune frowns upon
me," he murmured; but beyond the door, Fate, in the form of a painted
warrior, stood smiling. Neatly had he tricked the unwary stranger. The
lighted doorway, the marching patrol--these had been planned and timed
to a nicety by the third warrior who had sped ahead of Turan along
another avenue, and the stranger had done precisely what the fellow had
thought he would do--no wonder, then, that he smiled.

This exit barred to him Turan turned back into the corridor. He
followed it cautiously and silently. Occasionally there was a door on
one side or the other. These he tried only to find each securely
locked. The corridor wound more erratically the farther he advanced. A
locked door barred his way at its end, but a door upon his right opened
and he stepped into a dimly-lighted chamber, about the walls of which
were three other doors, each of which he tried in turn. Two were
locked; the other opened upon a runway leading downward. It was spiral
and he could see no farther than the first turn. A door in the corridor
he had quitted opened after he had passed, and the third warrior
stepped out and followed after him. A faint smile still lingered upon
the fellow's grim lips.

Turan drew his short-sword and cautiously descended. At the bottom was
a short corridor with a closed door at the end. He approached the
single heavy panel and listened. No sound came to him from beyond the
mysterious portal. Gently he tried the door, which swung easily toward
him at his touch. Before him was a low-ceiled chamber with a dirt
floor. Set in its walls were several other doors and all were closed.
As Turan stepped cautiously within, the third warrior descended the
spiral runway behind him. The panthan crossed the room quickly and
tried a door. It was locked. He heard a muffled click behind him and
turned about with ready sword. He was alone; but the door through which
he had entered was closed--it was the click of its lock that he had
heard.

With a bound he crossed the room and attempted to open it; but to no
avail. No longer did he seek silence, for he knew now that the thing
had gone beyond the sphere of chance. He threw his weight against the
wooden panel; but the thick skeel of which it was constructed would
have withstood a battering ram. From beyond came a

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