Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 4

as he turned to one of his
officers with a word of comment upon a subject foreign to that
which had been uppermost in the minds of all for hours.

But, after all, was it so foreign?

"Inform Prince Sovan," he directed, "that it is our wish that the
fleet which departed for Kaol this morning be recalled to cruise
to the west of Ptarth."

As the warship, bearing Astok back to the court of his father,
turned toward the west, Thuvia of Ptarth, sitting upon the same
bench where the Prince of Dusar had affronted her, watched the
twinkling lights of the craft growing smaller in the distance.
Beside her, in the brilliant light of the nearer moon, sat Carthoris.
His eyes were not upon the dim bulk of the battleship, but on the
profile of the girl's upturned face.

"Thuvia," he whispered.

The girl turned her eyes toward his. His hand stole out to find
hers, but she drew her own gently away.

"Thuvia of Ptarth, I love you!" cried the young warrior. "Tell me
that it does not offend."

She shook her head sadly. "The love of Carthoris of Helium," she
said simply, "could be naught but an honour to any woman; but you
must not speak, my friend, of bestowing upon me that which I may
not reciprocate."

The young man got slowly to his feet. His eyes were wide in
astonishment. It never had occurred to the Prince of Helium that
Thuvia of Ptarth might love another.

"But at Kadabra!" he exclaimed. "And later here at your father's
court, what did you do, Thuvia of Ptarth, that might have warned
me that you could not return my love?"

"And what did I do, Carthoris of Helium," she returned, "that might
lead you to believe that I DID return it?"

He paused in thought, and then shook his head. "Nothing, Thuvia,
that is true; yet I could have sworn you loved me. Indeed, you
well knew how near to worship has been my love for you."

"And how might I know it, Carthoris?" she asked innocently. "Did
you ever tell me as much? Ever before have words of love for me
fallen from your lips?"

"But you MUST have known it!" he exclaimed. "I am like my
father--witless in matters of the heart, and of a poor way with
women; yet the jewels that strew these royal garden paths--the
trees, the flowers, the sward--all must have read the love that has
filled my heart since first my eyes were made new by imaging your
perfect face and

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