The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 97

massive doorway, which, when opened,
revealed the great council chamber of O-Tar, Jeddak of Manator, beyond.
A central aisle led from the doorway the full length of the great hall,
terminating at the steps of a marble dais upon which a man sat in a
great throne-chair. Upon either side of the aisle were ranged rows of
highly carved desks and chairs of skeel, a hard wood of great beauty.
Only a few of the desks were occupied--those in the front row, just
below the rostrum.

At the entrance U-Dor dismounted with four of his followers who formed
a guard about the two prisoners who were then conducted toward the foot
of the throne, following a few paces behind U-Dor. As they halted at
the foot of the marble steps, the proud gaze of Tara of Helium rested
upon the enthroned figure of the man above her. He sat erect without
stiffness--a commanding presence trapped in the barbaric splendor that
the Barsoomian chieftain loves. He was a large man, the perfection of
whose handsome face was marred only by the hauteur of his cold eyes and
the suggestion of cruelty imparted by too thin lips. It needed no
second glance to assure the least observing that here indeed was a
ruler of men--a fighting jeddak whose people might worship but not
love, and for whose slightest favor warriors would vie with one another
to go forth and die. This was O-Tar, Jeddak of Manator, and as Tara of
Helium saw him for the first time she could not but acknowledge a
certain admiration for this savage chieftain who so virilely
personified the ancient virtues of the God of War.

U-Dor and the jeddak interchanged the simple greetings of Barsoom, and
then the former recounted the details of the discovery and capture of
the prisoners. O-Tar scrutinized them both intently during U-Dor's
narration of events, his expression revealing naught of what passed in
the brain behind those inscrutable eyes. When the officer had finished
the jeddak fastened his gaze upon Ghek.

"And you," he asked, "what manner of thing are you? From what country?
Why are you in Manator?"

"I am a kaldane," replied Ghek; "the highest type of created creature
upon the face of Barsoom; I am mind, you are matter. I come from
Bantoom. I am here because we were lost and starving."

"And you!" O-Tar turned suddenly on Tara. "You, too, are a kaldane?"

"I am a princess of Helium," replied the girl. "I was a prisoner in
Bantoom. This kaldane and a warrior of my own race rescued me. The
warrior left us to search

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