The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 93

up the hill toward them a single
mediocre swordsman such as Ghek was worse than no defense at all.

"Hurry, Ghek!" she admonished him. "Back into the hills! You may find
there a hiding-place;" but the creature only stepped between her and
the oncoming riders, drawing his long-sword.

"It is useless, Ghek," she said, when she saw that he intended to
defend her. "What can a single sword accomplish against such odds?"

"I can die but once," replied the kaldane. "You and your panthan saved
me from Luud and I but do what your panthan would do were he here to
protect you."

"It is brave, but it is useless," she replied. "Sheathe your sword.
They may not intend us harm."

Ghek let the point of his weapon drop to the ground, but he did not
sheathe it, and thus the two stood waiting as U-Dor the dwar stopped
his thoat before them while his twenty warriors formed a rough circle
about. For a long minute U-Dor sat his mount in silence, looking
searchingly first at Tara of Helium and then at her hideous companion.

"What manner of creature are you?" he asked presently. "And what do you
before the gates of Manator?"

"We are from far countries," replied the girl, "and we are lost and
starving. We ask only food and rest and the privilege to go our way
seeking our own homes."

U-Dor smiled a grim smile. "Manator and the hills which guard it alone
know the age of Manator," he said; "yet in all the ages that have
rolled by since Manator first was, there be no record in the annals of
Manator of a stranger departing from Manator."

"But I am a princess," cried the girl haughtily, "and my country is not
at war with yours. You must give me and my companions aid and assist us
to return to our own land. It is the law of Barsoom."

"Manator knows only the laws of Manator," replied U-Dor; "but come. You
shall go with us to the city, where you, being beautiful, need have no
fear. I, myself, will protect you if O-Tar so decrees. And as for your
companion--but hold! You said 'companions'--there are others of your
party then?"

"You see what you see," replied Tara haughtily.

"Be that as it may," said U-Dor. "If there be more they shall not
escape Manator; but as I was saying, if your companion fights well he
too may live, for O-Tar is just, and just are the laws of Manator.

Ghek demurred.

"It is useless," said the girl, seeing that he would have stood his
ground and

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