Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 51

chamber. Its
furnishings and appointments bespoke wealth and culture, and
carried the suggestion that the room was often the scene of royal
functions which filled it to its capacity.

And yet nowhere about her, in antechamber or corridor, was there
sign of any other being than herself and the recumbent figure of
Tario, the jeddak, who watched her through half-closed eyes from
the gorgeous trappings of his regal couch.

For a time after the departure of Jav and Carthoris the man eyed
her intently. Then he spoke.

"Come nearer," he said, and, as she approached: "Whose creature
are you? Who has dared materialize his imaginings of woman? It is
contrary to the customs and the royal edicts of Lothar. Tell me,
woman, from whose brain have you sprung? Jav's? No, do not deny
it. I know that it could be no other than that envious realist. He
seeks to tempt me. He would see me fall beneath the spell of your
charms, and then he, your master, would direct my destiny and--my
end. I see it all! I see it all!"

The blood of indignation and anger had been rising to Thuvia's
face. Her chin was up, a haughty curve upon her perfect lips.

"I know naught," she cried, "of what you are prating! I am Thuvia,
Princess of Ptarth. I am no man's 'creature.' Never before to-day
did I lay eyes upon him you call Jav, nor upon your ridiculous city,
of which even the greatest nations of Barsoom have never dreamed.

"My charms are not for you, nor such as you. They are not for
sale or barter, even though the price were a real throne. And as
for using them to win your worse than futile power--" She ended
her sentence with a shrug of her shapely shoulders, and a little
scornful laugh.

When she had finished Tario was sitting upon the edge of his
couch, his feet upon the floor. He was leaning forward with eyes
no longer half closed, but wide with a startled expression in them.

He did not seem to note the LESE MAJESTE of her words and manner.
There was evidently something more startling and compelling about
her speech than that.

Slowly he came to his feet.

"By the fangs of Komal!" he muttered. "But you are REAL! A REAL
woman! No dream! No vain and foolish figment of the mind!"

He took a step toward her, with hands outstretched.

"Come!" he whispered. "Come, woman!

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