Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 48

as he ate.

"Is it not entirely satisfying?" he asked.

"I must admit that it is," replied Carthoris. "But tell me, how
does Tario live, and the other etherealists who maintain that food
is unnecessary?"

Jav scratched his head.

"That is a question we often discuss," he replied. "It is the
strongest evidence we have of the non-existence of the etherealists;
but who may know other than Komal?"

"Who is Komal?" asked Carthoris. "I heard your jeddak speak of
him."

Jav bent low toward the ear of the Heliumite, looking fearfully
about before he spoke.

"Komal is the essence," he whispered. "Even the etherealists
admit that mind itself must have substance in order to transmit to
imaginings the appearance of substance. For if there really was
no such thing as substance it could not be suggested--what never
has been cannot be imagined. Do you follow me?"

"I am groping," replied Carthoris dryly.

"So the essence must be substance," continued Jav. "Komal is the
essence of the All, as it were. He is maintained by substance.
He eats. He eats the real. To be explicit, he eats the realists.
That is Tario's work.

"He says that inasmuch as we maintain that we alone are real we
should, to be consistent, admit that we alone are proper food for
Komal. Sometimes, as to-day, we find other food for him. He is
very fond of Torquasians."

"And Komal is a man?" asked Carthoris.

"He is All, I told you," replied Jav. "I know not how to explain
him in words that you will understand. He is the beginning and
the end. All life emanates from Komal, since the substance which
feeds the brain with imaginings radiates from the body of Komal.

"Should Komal cease to eat, all life upon Barsoom would cease to be.
He cannot die, but he might cease to eat, and, thus, to radiate."

"And he feeds upon the men and women of your belief?" cried Carthoris.

"Women!" exclaimed Jav. "There are no women in Lothar. The last
of the Lotharian females perished ages since, upon that cruel and
terrible journey across the muddy plains that fringed the half-dried
seas, when the green hordes scourged us across the world to this
our last hiding-place--our impregnable fortress of Lothar.

"Scarce twenty thousand men of all the countless millions of our
race lived to reach Lothar. Among us were no women and no children.
All these had perished by the way.

"As time went on, we, too, were dying and the race fast approaching
extinction, when the Great

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