Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 10

had watched the lights
of his flier disappear the previous night, it would be difficult
to say.

So, too, is it impossible to conjecture just what her emotions may
have been as she discerned the lights of a flier speeding rapidly
out of the distance from that very direction, as though impelled
toward her garden by the very intensity of the princess' thoughts.

She saw it circle lower above the palace until she was positive
that it but hovered in preparation for a landing.

Presently the powerful rays of its searchlight shot downward from
the bow. They fell upon the landing-stage for a brief instant,
revealing the figures of the Ptarthian guard, picking into brilliant
points of fire the gems upon their gorgeous harnesses.

Then the blazing eye swept onward across the burnished domes and
graceful minarets, down into court and park and garden to pause at
last upon the ersite bench and the girl standing there beside it,
her face upturned full toward the flier.

For but an instant the searchlight halted upon Thuvia of Ptarth,
then it was extinguished as suddenly as it had come to life. The
flier passed on above her to disappear beyond a grove of lofty
skeel trees that grew within the palace grounds.

The girl stood for some time as it had left her, except that her
head was bent and her eyes downcast in thought.

Who but Carthoris could it have been? She tried to feel anger
that he should have returned thus, spying upon her; but she found
it difficult to be angry with the young prince of Helium.

What mad caprice could have induced him so to transgress the
etiquette of nations? For lesser things great powers had gone to
war.

The princess in her was shocked and angered--but what of the girl!

And the guard--what of them? Evidently they, too, had been so much
surprised by the unprecedented action of the stranger that they
had not even challenged; but that they had no thought to let the
thing go unnoticed was quickly evidenced by the skirring of motors
upon the landing-stage and the quick shooting airward of a long-lined
patrol boat.

Thuvia watched it dart swiftly eastward. So, too, did other eyes
watch.

Within the dense shadows of the skeel grove, in a wide avenue
beneath o'erspreading foliage, a flier hung a dozen feet above the
ground. From its deck keen eyes watched the far-fanning searchlight
of the patrol boat. No light shone from the enshadowed craft. Upon
its deck was the silence of the tomb. Its crew of a half-dozen
red

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