The Chessmen of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 98

for food and water. He has doubtless fallen
into the hands of your people. I ask you to free him and give us food
and drink and let us go upon our way. I am a granddaughter of a jeddak,
the daughter of a jeddak of jeddaks, The Warlord of Barsoom. I ask only
the treatment that my people would accord you or yours."

"Helium," repeated O-Tar. "I know naught of Helium, nor does the Jeddak
of Helium rule Manator. I, O-Tar, am Jeddak of Manator. I alone rule. I
protect my own. You have never seen a woman or a warrior of Manator
captive in Helium! Why should I protect the people of another jeddak?
It is his duty to protect them. If he cannot, he is weak, and his
people must fall into the hands of the strong. I, O-Tar, am strong. I
will keep you. That--" he pointed at Ghek--"can it fight?"

"It is brave," replied Tara of Helium, "but it has not the skill at
arms which my people possess."

"There is none then to fight for you?" asked O-Tar. "We are a just
people," he continued without waiting for a reply, "and had you one to
fight for you he might win to freedom for himself and you as well."

"But U-Dor assured me that no stranger ever had departed from Manator,"
she answered.

O-Tar shrugged. "That does not disprove the justice of the laws of
Manator," replied O-Tar, "but rather that the warriors of Manator are
invincible. Had there come one who could defeat our warriors that one
had won to liberty."

"And you fetch my warrior," cried Tara haughtily, "you shall see such
swordplay as doubtless the crumbling walls of your decaying city never
have witnessed, and if there be no trick in your offer we are already
as good as free."

O-Tar smiled more broadly than before and U-Dor smiled, too, and the
chiefs and warriors who looked on nudged one another and whispered,
laughing. And Tara of Helium knew then that there was trickery in their
justice; but though her situation seemed hopeless she did not cease to
hope, for was she not the daughter of John Carter, Warlord of Barsoom,
whose famous challenge to Fate, "I still live!" remained the one
irreducible defense against despair? At thought of her noble sire the
patrician chin of Tara of Helium rose a shade higher. Ah! if he but
knew where she was there were little to fear then. The hosts of Helium
would batter at the gates of Manator, the great green warriors of John
Carter's savage allies would

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