Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 59

one end of the chamber.

"From thence will he come upon us. Lay aside your puny sword, fool.
It will but enrage him the more and make our sufferings the worse."

Carthoris smiled, gripping his long-sword the more firmly.

Presently Jav gave a horrified moan, at the same time pointing
toward the door.

"He has come," he whimpered.

Carthoris and Thuvia looked in the direction the Lotharian had
indicated, expecting to see some strange and fearful creature in
human form; but to their astonishment they saw the broad head and
great-maned shoulders of a huge banth, the largest that either ever
had seen.

Slowly and with dignity the mighty beast advanced into the room.
Jav had fallen to the floor, and was wriggling his body in the same
servile manner that he had adopted toward Tario. He spoke to the
fierce beast as he would have spoken to a human being, pleading
with it for mercy.

Carthoris stepped between Thuvia and the banth, his sword ready to
contest the beast's victory over them. Thuvia turned toward Jav.

"Is this Komal, your god?" she asked.

Jav nodded affirmatively. The girl smiled, and then, brushing past
Carthoris, she stepped swiftly toward the growling carnivore.

In low, firm tones she spoke to it as she had spoken to the banths
of the Golden Cliffs and the scavengers before the walls of Lothar.

The beast ceased its growling. With lowered head and catlike purr,
it came slinking to the girl's feet. Thuvia turned toward Carthoris.

"It is but a banth," she said. "We have nothing to fear from it."

Carthoris smiled.

"I did not fear it," he replied, "for I, too, believed it to be
only a banth, and I have my long-sword."

Jav sat up and gazed at the spectacle before him--the slender girl
weaving her fingers in the tawny mane of the huge creature that he
had thought divine, while Komal rubbed his hideous snout against
her side.

"So this is your god!" laughed Thuvia.

Jav looked bewildered. He scarce knew whether he dare chance
offending Komal or not, for so strong is the power of superstition
that even though we know that we have been reverencing a sham, yet
still we hesitate to admit the validity of our new-found convictions.

"Yes," he said, "this is Komal. For ages the enemies of Tario have
been hurled to this pit to fill his maw, for Komal must be fed."

"Is there any way out of this chamber to the avenues of the city?"
asked Carthoris.

Jav shrugged.

"I do not know," he replied. "Never have I been

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