Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 22

with
which the hordes of Torquas were perpetually warring.

His giant thoat was far from jaded, yet it would be well, thought
Thar Ban, to permit him to graze upon the ochre moss which grows to
greater height within the protected courtyards of deserted cities,
where the soil is richer than on the sea-bottoms, and the plants
partly shaded from the sun during the cloudless Martian day.

Within the tiny stems of this dry-seeming plant is sufficient
moisture for the needs of the huge bodies of the mighty thoats,
which can exist for months without water, and for days without even
the slight moisture which the ochre moss contains.

As Thar Ban rode noiselessly up the broad avenue which leads from
the quays of Aaanthor to the great central plaza, he and his mount
might have been mistaken for spectres from a world of dreams, so
grotesque the man and beast, so soundless the great thoat's padded,
nailless feet upon the moss-grown flagging of the ancient pavement.

The man was a splendid specimen of his race. Fully fifteen feet
towered his great height from sole to pate. The moonlight glistened
against his glossy green hide, sparkling the jewels of his heavy
harness and the ornaments that weighted his four muscular arms,
while the upcurving tusks that protruded from his lower jaw gleamed
white and terrible.

At the side of his thoat were slung his long radium rifle and his
great, forty-foot, metal-shod spear, while from his own harness
depended his long-sword and his short-sword, as well as his lesser
weapons.

His protruding eyes and antennae-like ears were turning constantly
hither and thither, for Thar Ban was yet in the country of the
enemy, and, too, there was always the menace of the great white
apes, which, John Carter was wont to say, are the only creatures
that can arouse in the breasts of these fierce denizens of the dead
sea-bottoms even the remotest semblance of fear.

As the rider neared the plaza, he reined suddenly in. His slender,
tubular ears pointed rigidly forward. An unwonted sound had reached
them. Voices! And where there were voices, outside of Torquas,
there, too, were enemies. All the world of wide Barsoom contained
naught but enemies for the fierce Torquasians.

Thar Ban dismounted. Keeping in the shadows of the great monoliths
that line the Avenue of Quays of sleeping Aaanthor, he approached
the plaza. Directly behind him, as a hound at heel, came the
slate-grey thoat, his white belly shadowed by his barrel, his vivid
yellow feet merging into the yellow of the moss beneath them.

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