Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 84

by the proportions
of the conflict which his abduction of the Ptarthian princess had
induced, nor was he over comfortable with the weight of responsibility
which the possession of such a prisoner entailed.

His one thought was to get her to Dusar, and there let his father
assume the responsibility. In the meantime he would be as careful
as possible to do nothing to affront her, lest they all might be
captured and he have to account for his treatment of the girl to
one of the great jeddaks whose interest centred in her.

And so at last they came to Dusar, where Astok hid his prisoner in
a secret room high in the east tower of his own palace. He had
sworn his men to silence in the matter of the identity of the girl,
for until he had seen his father, Nutus, Jeddak of Dusar, he dared
not let any one know whom he had brought with him from the south.

But when he appeared in the great audience chamber before the
cruel-lipped man who was his sire, he found his courage oozing,
and he dared not speak of the princess hid within his palace. It
occurred to him to test his father's sentiments upon the subject,
and so he told a tale of capturing one who claimed to know the
whereabouts of Thuvia of Ptarth.

"And if you command it, Sire," he said, "I will go and capture
her--fetching her here to Dusar."

Nutus frowned and shook his head.

"You have done enough already to set Ptarth and Kaol and Helium
all three upon us at once should they learn your part in the theft
of the Ptarth princess. That you succeeded in shifting the guilt
upon the Prince of Helium was fortunate, and a masterly move of
strategy; but were the girl to know the truth and ever return to
her father's court, all Dusar would have to pay the penalty, and to
have her here a prisoner amongst us would be an admission of guilt
from the consequences of which naught could save us. It would cost
me my throne, Astok, and that I have no mind to lose.

"If we had her here--" the elder man suddenly commenced to muse,
repeating the phrase again and again. "If we had her here, Astok,"
he exclaimed fiercely. "Ah, if we but had her here and none knew
that she was here! Can you not guess, man? The guilt of Dusar
might be for ever buried with her bones," he concluded in a low,
savage

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