Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 67

whereabouts.

He realized, of course, that the trick which had laid suspicion
upon him would greatly delay the discovery of the truth, but little
did he guess to what vast proportions had the results of the villainy
of Astok of Dusar already grown.

Even as he emerged from the mouth of the passage to look across
the foothills in the direction of Aaanthor, a Ptarth battle fleet
was winging its majestic way slowly toward the twin cities of
Helium, while from far distant Kaol raced another mighty armada to
join forces with its ally.

He did not know that in the face of the circumstantial evidence
against him even his own people had commenced to entertain suspicions
that he might have stolen the Ptarthian princess.

He did not know of the lengths to which the Dusarians had gone to
disrupt the friendship and alliance which existed between the three
great powers of the eastern hemisphere--Helium, Ptarth and Kaol.

How Dusarian emissaries had found employment in important posts in
the foreign offices of the three great nations, and how, through these
men, messages from one jeddak to another were altered and garbled
until the patience and pride of the three rulers and former friends
could no longer endure the humiliations and insults contained in
these falsified papers--not any of this he knew.

Nor did he know how even to the last John Carter, Warlord of Mars,
had refused to permit the jeddak of Helium to declare war against
either Ptarth or Kaol, because of his implicit belief in his son,
and that eventually all would be satisfactorily explained.

And now two great fleets were moving upon Helium, while the Dusarian
spies at the court of Tardos Mors saw to it that the twin cities
remained in ignorance of their danger.

War had been declared by Thuvan Dihn, but the messenger who had
been dispatched with the proclamation had been a Dusarian who had
seen to it that no word of warning reached the twin cities of the
approach of a hostile fleet.

For several days diplomatic relations had been severed between
Helium and her two most powerful neighbors, and with the departure
of the ministers had come a total cessation of wireless communication
between the disputants, as is usual upon Barsoom.

But of all this Carthoris was ignorant. All that interested him
at present was the finding of Thuvia of Ptarth. Her trail beside
that of the huge banth had been well marked to the tunnel, and was
once more visible leading southward into the foothills.

As he followed rapidly downward toward the dead sea-bottom, where
he knew he must lose

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