Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 5

form; so how could you alone have been blind to
it?"

"Do the maids of Helium pay court to their men?" asked Thuvia.

"You are playing with me!" exclaimed Carthoris. "Say that you are
but playing, and that after all you love me, Thuvia!"

"I cannot tell you that, Carthoris, for I am promised to another."

Her tone was level, but was there not within it the hint of an
infinite depth of sadness? Who may say?

"Promised to another?" Carthoris scarcely breathed the words. His
face went almost white, and then his head came up as befitted him
in whose veins flowed the blood of the overlord of a world.

"Carthoris of Helium wishes you every happiness with the man of
your choice," he said. "With--" and then he hesitated, waiting
for her to fill in the name.

"Kulan Tith, Jeddak of Kaol," she replied. "My father's friend
and Ptarth's most puissant ally."

The young man looked at her intently for a moment before he spoke
again.

"You love him, Thuvia of Ptarth?" he asked.

"I am promised to him," she replied simply.

He did not press her. "He is of Barsoom's noblest blood and mightiest
fighters," mused Carthoris. "My father's friend and mine--would
that it might have been another!" he muttered almost savagely. What
the girl thought was hidden by the mask of her expression, which
was tinged only by a little shadow of sadness that might have been
for Carthoris, herself, or for them both.

Carthoris of Helium did not ask, though he noted it, for his
loyalty to Kulan Tith was the loyalty of the blood of John Carter
of Virginia for a friend, greater than which could be no loyalty.

He raised a jewel-encrusted bit of the girl's magnificent trappings
to his lips.

"To the honour and happiness of Kulan Tith and the priceless jewel
that has been bestowed upon him," he said, and though his voice
was husky there was the true ring of sincerity in it. "I told you
that I loved you, Thuvia, before I knew that you were promised to
another. I may not tell you it again, but I am glad that you know
it, for there is no dishonour in it either to you or to Kulan Tith
or to myself. My love is such that it may embrace as well Kulan
Tith--if you love him." There was almost a question in the statement.

"I am promised to him," she replied.

Carthoris backed slowly away. He laid one hand upon his heart,
the other upon the

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