Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 35

among the corpses
seeking meat.

To Carthoris the strangest part of the battle had been the terrific
toll taken by the bowmen with their relatively puny weapons. Nowhere
that he could see was there a single wounded green man, but the
corpses of their dead lay thick upon the field of battle.

Death seemed to follow instantly the slightest pinprick of a bowman's
arrow, nor apparently did one ever miss its goal. There could be
but one explanation: the missiles were poison-tipped.

Presently the sounds of conflict died in the distant forest.
Quiet reigned, broken only by the growling of the devouring banths.
Carthoris turned toward Thuvia of Ptarth. As yet neither had
spoken.

"Where are we, Thuvia?" he asked.

The girl looked at him questioningly. His very presence had seemed
to proclaim a guilty knowledge of her abduction. How else might
he have known the destination of the flier that brought her!

"Who should know better than the Prince of Helium?" she asked in
return. "Did he not come hither of his own free will?"

"From Aaanthor I came voluntarily upon the trail of the green man
who had stolen you, Thuvia," he replied; "but from the time I left
Helium until I awoke above Aaanthor I thought myself bound for
Ptarth.

"It had been intimated that I had guilty knowledge of your abduction,"
he explained simply, "and I was hastening to the jeddak, your
father, to convince him of the falsity of the charge, and to give my
service to your recovery. Before I left Helium some one tampered
with my compass, so that it bore me to Aaanthor instead of to
Ptarth. That is all. You believe me?"

"But the warriors who stole me from the garden!" she exclaimed.
"After we arrived at Aaanthor they wore the metal of the Prince of
Helium. When they took me they were trapped in Dusarian harness.
There seemed but a single explanation. Whoever dared the outrage
wished to put the onus upon another, should he be detected in the
act; but once safely away from Ptarth he felt safe in having his
minions return to their own harness."

"You believe that I did this thing, Thuvia?" he asked.

"Ah, Carthoris," she replied sadly, "I did not wish to believe it;
but when everything pointed to you--even then I would not believe
it."

"I did not do it, Thuvia," he said. "But let me be entirely honest
with you. As much as I love your father, as much as I respect Kulan
Tith, to whom you are betrothed, as well

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