Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 52

For countless ages have I
dreamed that some day you would come. And now that you are here
I can scarce believe the testimony of my eyes. Even now, knowing
that you are real, I still half dread that you may be a lie."

Thuvia shrank back. She thought the man mad. Her hand stole to
the jewelled hilt of her dagger. The man saw the move, and stopped.
A cunning expression entered his eyes. Then they became at once
dreamy and penetrating as they fairly bored into the girl's brain.

Thuvia suddenly felt a change coming over her. What the cause of
it she did not guess; but somehow the man before her began to assume
a new relationship within her heart.

No longer was he a strange and mysterious enemy, but an old and
trusted friend. Her hand slipped from the dagger's hilt. Tario
came closer. He spoke gentle, friendly words, and she answered
him in a voice that seemed hers and yet another's.

He was beside her now. His hand was up her shoulder. His eyes
were down-bent toward hers. She looked up into his face. His
gaze seemed to bore straight through her to some hidden spring of
sentiment within her.

Her lips parted in sudden awe and wonder at the strange revealment
of her inner self that was being laid bare before her consciousness.
She had known Tario for ever. He was more than friend to her.
She moved a little closer to him. In one swift flood of light she
knew the truth. She loved Tario, Jeddak of Lothar! She had always
loved him.

The man, seeing the success of his strategy, could not restrain a
faint smile of satisfaction. Whether there was something in the
expression of his face, or whether from Carthoris of Helium in a
far chamber of the palace came a more powerful suggestion, who may
say? But something there was that suddenly dispelled the strange,
hypnotic influence of the man.

As though a mask had been torn from her eyes, Thuvia suddenly saw
Tario as she had formerly seen him, and, accustomed as she was to
the strange manifestations of highly developed mentality which are
common upon Barsoom, she quickly guessed enough of the truth to
know that she was in grave danger.

Quickly she took a step backward, tearing herself from his grasp.
But the momentary contact had aroused within Tario all the long-buried
passions of his loveless existence.

With a muffled cry he sprang upon her,

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