The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 95

or comment to their guard; but
the watchers upon the balconies spoke not, nor did one so much as turn
a head to note their passing. There were many balconies on each
building and not a one that did not hold its silent party of richly
trapped men and women, with here and there a child or two, but even the
children maintained the uniform silence and immobility of their elders.
As they approached the center of the city the girl saw that even the
roofs bore companies of these idle watchers, harnessed and bejeweled as
for some gala-day of laughter and music, but no laughter broke from
those silent lips, nor any music from the strings of the instruments
that many of them held in jeweled fingers.

And now the avenue widened into an immense square, at the far end of
which rose a stately edifice gleaming white in virgin marble among the
gaily painted buildings surrounding it and its scarlet sward and
gaily-flowering, green-foliaged shrubbery. Toward this U-Dor led his
prisoners and their guard to the great arched entrance before which a
line of fifty mounted warriors barred the way. When the commander of
the guard recognized U-Dor the guardsmen fell back to either side
leaving a broad avenue through which the party passed. Directly inside
the entrance were inclined runways leading upward on either side. U-Dor
turned to the left and led them upward to the second floor and down a
long corridor. Here they passed other mounted men and in chambers upon
either side they saw more. Occasionally there was another runway
leading either up or down. A warrior, his steed at full gallop, dashed
into sight from one of these and raced swiftly past them upon some
errand.

Nowhere as yet had Tara of Helium seen a man afoot in this great
building; but when at a turn, U-Dor led them to the third floor she
caught glimpses of chambers in which many riderless thoats were penned
and others adjoining where dismounted warriors lolled at ease or played
games of skill or chance and many there were who played at jetan, and
then the party passed into a long, wide hall of state, as magnificent
an apartment as even a princess of mighty Helium ever had seen. The
length of the room ran an arched ceiling ablaze with countless radium
bulbs. The mighty spans extended from wall to wall leaving the vast
floor unbroken by a single column. The arches were of white marble,
apparently quarried in single, huge blocks from which each arch was cut
complete. Between the arches, the ceiling

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