A Princess of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 68

had
spoken to me in words I would not mistake, and I knew that I had loved
her since the first moment that my eyes had met hers that first time in
the plaza of the dead city of Korad.




CHAPTER XIV

A DUEL TO THE DEATH


My first impulse was to tell her of my love, and then I thought of the
helplessness of her position wherein I alone could lighten the burdens
of her captivity, and protect her in my poor way against the thousands
of hereditary enemies she must face upon our arrival at Thark. I could
not chance causing her additional pain or sorrow by declaring a love
which, in all probability she did not return. Should I be so
indiscreet, her position would be even more unbearable than now, and
the thought that she might feel that I was taking advantage of her
helplessness, to influence her decision was the final argument which
sealed my lips.

"Why are you so quiet, Dejah Thoris?" I asked. "Possibly you would
rather return to Sola and your quarters."

"No," she murmured, "I am happy here. I do not know why it is that I
should always be happy and contented when you, John Carter, a stranger,
are with me; yet at such times it seems that I am safe and that, with
you, I shall soon return to my father's court and feel his strong arms
about me and my mother's tears and kisses on my cheek."

"Do people kiss, then, upon Barsoom?" I asked, when she had explained
the word she used, in answer to my inquiry as to its meaning.

"Parents, brothers, and sisters, yes; and," she added in a low,
thoughtful tone, "lovers."

"And you, Dejah Thoris, have parents and brothers and sisters?"

"Yes."

"And a--lover?"

She was silent, nor could I venture to repeat the question.

"The man of Barsoom," she finally ventured, "does not ask personal
questions of women, except his mother, and the woman he has fought for
and won."

"But I have fought--" I started, and then I wished my tongue had been
cut from my mouth; for she turned even as I caught myself and ceased,
and drawing my silks from her shoulder she held them out to me, and
without a word, and with head held high, she moved with the carriage of
the queen she was toward the plaza and the doorway of her quarters.

I did not attempt to follow her, other than to see that she reached the
building in safety, but, directing Woola to accompany her, I turned
disconsolately and entered my

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