Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 3

of their bravest blood and their
incalculable riches, leaving them all helpless against the inroads
of their envious and less powerful neighbors, and at last a prey
to the savage green hordes of the dead sea-bottoms.

No sense of fear influenced her decision, for fear is seldom known
to the children of Mars. It was rather a sense of the responsibility
that she, the daughter of their jeddak, felt for the welfare of
her father's people.

"I called you, Padwar," she said to the lieutenant of the guard,
"to protect the person of your princess, and to keep the peace
that must not be violated within the royal gardens of the jeddak.
That is all. You will escort me to the palace, and the Prince of
Helium will accompany me."

Without another glance in the direction of Astok she turned, and
taking Carthoris' proffered hand, moved slowly toward the massive
marble pile that housed the ruler of Ptarth and his glittering
court. On either side marched a file of guardsmen. Thus Thuvia
of Ptarth found a way out of a dilemma, escaping the necessity
of placing her father's royal guest under forcible restraint, and
at the same time separating the two princes, who otherwise would
have been at each other's throat the moment she and the guard had
departed.

Beside the pimalia stood Astok, his dark eyes narrowed to mere slits
of hate beneath his lowering brows as he watched the retreating
forms of the woman who had aroused the fiercest passions of his
nature and the man whom he now believed to be the one who stood
between his love and its consummation.

As they disappeared within the structure Astok shrugged his shoulders,
and with a murmured oath crossed the gardens toward another wing
of the building where he and his retinue were housed.

That night he took formal leave of Thuvan Dihn, and though no
mention was made of the happening within the garden, it was plain
to see through the cold mask of the jeddak's courtesy that only
the customs of royal hospitality restrained him from voicing the
contempt he felt for the Prince of Dusar.

Carthoris was not present at the leave-taking, nor was Thuvia. The
ceremony was as stiff and formal as court etiquette could make it,
and when the last of the Dusarians clambered over the rail of the
battleship that had brought them upon this fateful visit to the
court of Ptarth, and the mighty engine of destruction had risen
slowly from the ways of the landing-stage, a note of relief was
apparent in the voice of Thuvan Dihn

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