Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 101

and as the last of them
fell out of range behind, Carthoris dropped the Thuria's nose to a
horizontal plane, as with lever drawn to the last notch, she tore
through the thin air of dying Mars toward the east and Ptarth.

Thirteen and a half thousand haads away lay Ptarth--a stiff
thirty-hour journey for the swiftest of fliers, and between Dusar
and Ptarth might lie half the navy of Dusar, for in this direction
was the reported seat of the great naval battle that even now might
be in progress.

Could Carthoris have known precisely where the great fleets of
the contending nations lay, he would have hastened to them without
delay, for in the return of Thuvia to her sire lay the greatest
hope of peace.

Half the distance they covered without sighting a single warship,
and then Kar Komak called Carthoris's attention to a distant craft
that rested upon the ochre vegetation of the great dead sea-bottom,
above which the Thuria was speeding.

About the vessel many figures could be seen swarming. With the
aid of powerful glasses, the Heliumite saw that they were green
warriors, and that they were repeatedly charging down upon the crew
of the stranded airship. The nationality of the latter he could
not make out at so great a distance.

It was not necessary to change the course of the Thuria to permit
of passing directly above the scene of battle, but Carthoris dropped
his craft a few hundred feet that he might have a better and closer
view.

If the ship was of a friendly power, he could do no less than stop
and direct his guns upon her enemies, though with the precious
freight he carried he scarcely felt justified in landing, for
he could offer but two swords in reinforcement--scarce enough to
warrant jeopardizing the safety of the Princess of Ptarth.

As they came close above the stricken ship, they could see that
it would be but a question of minutes before the green horde would
swarm across the armoured bulwarks to glut the ferocity of their
bloodlust upon the defenders.

"It would be futile to descend," said Carthoris to Thuvia. "The
craft may even be of Dusar--she shows no insignia. All that we
may do is fire upon the hordesmen"; and as he spoke he stepped to
one of the guns and deflected its muzzle toward the green warriors
at the ship's side.

At the first shot from the Thuria those upon the vessel below
evidently discovered her for the first time. Immediately a device
fluttered from the bow of the warship on the ground.

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