Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 57

worry about that
after they come--at present I see no indication that they have any
idea of over-exerting themselves to obey their jeddak's summons."

Jav shook his head mournfully.

"You do not understand," he said. "The guards have already
come--and gone. They have done their work and we are lost. Look
to the various exits."

Carthoris and Thuvia turned their eyes in the direction of the
several doorways which pierced the walls of the great chamber.
Each was tightly closed by huge stone doors.

"Well?" asked Carthoris.

"We are to die the death," whispered Jav faintly.

Further than that he would not say. He just sat upon the edge of
the jeddak's couch and waited.

Carthoris moved to Thuvia's side, and, standing there with naked
sword, he let his brave eyes roam ceaselessly about the great
chamber, that no foe might spring upon them unseen.

For what seemed hours no sound broke the silence of their living
tomb. No sign gave their executioners of the time or manner of
their death. The suspense was terrible. Even Carthoris of Helium
began to feel the terrible strain upon his nerves. If he could
but know how and whence the hand of death was to strike, he could
meet it unafraid, but to suffer longer the hideous tension of this
blighting ignorance of the plans of their assassins was telling
upon him grievously.

Thuvia of Ptarth drew quite close to him. She felt safer with the
feel of his arm against hers, and with the contact of her the man
took a new grip upon himself. With his old-time smile he turned
toward her.

"It would seem that they are trying to frighten us to death," he
said, laughing; "and, shame be upon me that I should confess it,
I think they were close to accomplishing their designs upon me."

She was about to make some reply when a fearful shriek broke from
the lips of the Lotharian.

"The end is coming!" he cried. "The end is coming! The floor!
The floor! Oh, Komal, be merciful!"

Thuvia and Carthoris did not need to look at the floor to be aware
of the strange movement that was taking place.

Slowly the marble flagging was sinking in all directions toward
the centre. At first the movement, being gradual, was scarce
noticeable; but presently the angle of the floor became such that
one might stand easily only by bending one knee considerably.

Jav was shrieking still, and clawing at the royal couch that had
already commenced to slide toward the centre of the room, where

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