The Chessmen of Mars HTML version

Chapter 1. Tara In A Tantrum
TARA of Helium rose from the pile of silks and soft furs upon which she had been
reclining, stretched her lithe body languidly, and crossed toward the center of the room,
where, above a large table, a bronze disc depended from the low ceiling. Her carriage was
that of health and physical perfection--the effortless harmony of faultless coordination. A
scarf of silken gossamer crossing over one shoulder was wrapped about her body; her
black hair was piled high upon her head. With a wooden stick she tapped upon the bronze
disc, lightly, and presently the summons was answered by a slave girl, who entered,
smiling, to be greeted similarly by her mistress.
"Are my father's guests arriving?" asked the princess.
"Yes, Tara of Helium, they come," replied the slave. "I have seen Kantos Kan, Overlord
of the Navy, and Prince Soran of Ptarth, and Djor Kantos, son of Kantos Kan," she shot a
roguish glance at her mistress as she mentioned Djor Kantos' name, "and--oh, there were
others, many have come."
"The bath, then, Uthia," said her mistress. "And why, Uthia," she added, "do you look
thus and smile when you mention the name of Djor Kantos?"
The slave girl laughed gaily. "It is so plain to all that he
worships you," she replied.
"It is not plain to me," said Tara of Helium. "He is the friend of my brother, Carthoris,
and so he is here much; but not to see me. It is his friendship for Carthoris that brings him
thus often to the palace of my father."
"But Carthoris is hunting in the north with Talu, Jeddak of Okar," Uthia reminded her.
"My bath, Uthia!" cried Tara of Helium. "That tongue of yours will bring you to some
misadventure yet."
"The bath is ready, Tara of Helium," the girl responded, her eyes still twinkling with
merriment, for she well knew that in the heart of her mistress was no anger that could
displace the love of the princess for her slave. Preceding the daughter of The Warlord she
opened the door of an adjoining room where lay the bath--a gleaming pool of scented
water in a marble basin. Golden stanchions supported a chain of gold encircling it and
leading down into the water on either side of marble steps. A glass dome let in the sun-
light, which flooded the interior, glancing from the polished white of the marble walls
and the procession of bathers and fishes, which, in conventional design, were inlaid with
gold in a broad band that circled the room.