Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 80

to end of
the far-reaching, threadlike farm lands.

The high wall surrounding the fields served as a protection against
surprise by raiding green hordes, as well as keeping the savage
banths and other carnivora from the domestic animals and the human
beings upon the farms.

Carthoris stopped before the first gate he came to, pounding for
admission. The young man who answered his summons greeted the
two hospitably, though he looked with considerable wonder upon the
white skin and auburn hair of the bowman.

After he had listened for a moment to a partial narration of their
escape from the Torquasians, he invited them within, took them to
his house and bade the servants there prepare food for them.

As they waited in the low-ceiled, pleasant living room of the
farmhouse until the meal should be ready, Carthoris drew his host
into conversation that he might learn his nationality, and thus
the nation under whose dominion lay the waterway where circumstance
had placed him.

"I am Hal Vas," said the young man, "son of Vas Kor, of Dusar, a
noble in the retinue of Astok, Prince of Dusar. At present I am
Dwar of the Road for this district."

Carthoris was very glad that he had not disclosed his identity, for
though he had no idea of anything that had transpired since he had
left Helium, or that Astok was at the bottom of all his misfortunes,
he well knew that the Dusarian had no love for him, and that he
could hope for no assistance within the dominions of Dusar.

"And who are you?" asked Hal Vas. "By your appearance I take you
for a fighting man, but I see no insignia upon your harness. Can
it be that you are a panthan?"

Now, these wandering soldiers of fortune are common upon Barsoom,
where most men love to fight. They sell their services wherever
war exists, and in the occasional brief intervals when there is
no organized warfare between the red nations, they join one of the
numerous expeditions that are constantly being dispatched against
the green men in protection of the waterways that traverse the
wilder portions of the globe.

When their service is over they discard the metal of the nation
they have been serving until they shall have found a new master.
In the intervals they wear no insignia, their war-worn harness and
grim weapons being sufficient to attest their calling.

The suggestion was a happy one, and Carthoris embraced the chance
it afforded to account satisfactorily for himself. There was, however,
a single drawback. In times of war such panthans

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