Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 42

these be the troops that remained to defend the city?"

Again the fellow smiled his uncanny smile.

"There are no soldiers in Lothar," he said. "Look!"

Both Carthoris and Thuvia had turned toward him while he spoke,
and now as they turned back again toward the advancing regiments
their eyes went wide in astonishment, for the broad avenue before
them was as deserted as the tomb.

"And those who marched out upon the hordes to-day?" whispered
Carthoris. "They, too, were unreal?"

The man nodded.

"But their arrows slew the green warriors," insisted Thuvia.

"Let us go before Tario," replied the Lotharian. "He will tell you
that which he deems it best you know. I might tell you too much."

"Who is Tario?" asked Carthoris.

"Jeddak of Lothar," replied the guide, leading them up the broad
avenue down which they had but a moment since seen the phantom army
marching.

For half an hour they walked along lovely avenues between the most
gorgeous buildings that the two had ever seen. Few people were in
evidence. Carthoris could not but note the deserted appearance of
the mighty city.

At last they came to the royal palace. Carthoris saw it from a
distance, and guessing the nature of the magnificent pile wondered
that even here there should be so little sign of activity and life.

Not even a single guard was visible before the great entrance gate,
nor in the gardens beyond, into which he could see, was there sign
of the myriad life that pulses within the precincts of the royal
estates of the red jeddaks.

"Here," said their guide, "is the palace of Tario."

As he spoke Carthoris again let his gaze rest upon the wondrous
palace. With a startled exclamation he rubbed his eyes and looked
again. No! He could not be mistaken. Before the massive gate
stood a score of sentries. Within, the avenue leading to the main
building was lined on either side by ranks of bowmen. The gardens
were dotted with officers and soldiers moving quickly to and fro,
as though bent upon the duties of the minute.

What manner of people were these who could conjure an army out
of thin air? He glanced toward Thuvia. She, too, evidently had
witnessed the transformation.

With a little shudder she pressed more closely toward him.

"What do you make of it?" she whispered. "It is most uncanny."

"I cannot account for it," replied Carthoris, "unless we have gone
mad."

Carthoris turned quickly toward the Lotharian. The fellow was
smiling broadly.

"I thought that you just said

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