The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 91

low laugh.

Rapidly Turan examined each of the other doors. They were all locked. A
glance about the chamber revealed a wooden table and a bench. Set in
the walls were several heavy rings to which rusty chains were
attached--all too significant of the purpose to which the room was
dedicated. In the dirt floor near the wall were two or three holes
resembling the mouths of burrows--doubtless the habitat of the giant
Martian rat. He had observed this much when suddenly the dim light was
extinguished, leaving him in darkness utter and complete. Turan,
groping about, sought the table and the bench. Placing the latter
against the wall he drew the table in front of him and sat down upon
the bench, his long-sword gripped in readiness before him. At least
they should fight before they took him.

For some time he sat there waiting for he knew not what. No sound
penetrated to his subterranean dungeon. He slowly revolved in his mind
the incidents of the evening--the open, unguarded gate; the lighted
doorway--the only one he had seen thus open and lighted along the
avenue he had followed; the advance of the warriors at precisely the
moment that he could find no other avenue of escape or concealment; the
corridors and chambers that led past many locked doors to this
underground prison leaving no other path for him to pursue.

"By my first ancestor!" he swore; "but it was simple and I a simpleton.
They tricked me neatly and have taken me without exposing themselves to
a scratch; but for what purpose?"

He wished that he might answer that question and then his thoughts
turned to the girl waiting there on the hill beyond the city for
him--and he would never come. He knew the ways of the more savage
peoples of Barsoom. No, he would never come, now. He had disobeyed her.
He smiled at the sweet recollection of those words of command that had
fallen from her dear lips. He had disobeyed her and now he had lost the
reward.

But what of her? What now would be her fate--starving before a hostile
city with only an inhuman kaldane for company? Another thought--a
horrid thought--obtruded itself upon him. She had told him of the
hideous sights she had witnessed in the burrows of the kaldanes and he
knew that they ate human flesh. Ghek was starving. Should he eat his
rykor he would be helpless; but--there was sustenance there for them
both, for the rykor and the kaldane. Turan cursed himself for a fool.
Why had he left her? Far better to have remained

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