Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 91

forward to accept Vas Kor's greeting, then he summoned the
noble below. The warriors and officers returned to their sleeping
silks and furs, and once more the deck was deserted except for the
Dusarian warrior and Turjun, the panthan, who stood guard.

The latter walked quietly to and fro. The former leaned across
the rail, wishing for the hour that would bring him relief. He
did not see his companion approach the lights of the cabin of Vas
Kor. He did not see him stoop with ear close pressed to a tiny

"May the white apes take us all," cried Astok ruefully, "if we are
not in as ugly a snarl as you have ever seen! Nutus thinks that
we have her in hiding far away from Dusar. He has bidden me bring
her here."

He paused. No man should have heard from his lips the thing he was
trying to tell. It should have been for ever the secret of Nutus
and Astok, for upon it rested the safety of a throne. With that
knowledge any man could wrest from the Jeddak of Dusar whatever he

But Astok was afraid, and he wanted from this older man the suggestion
of an alternative. He went on.

"I am to kill her," he whispered, looking fearfully around. "Nutus
merely wishes to see the body that he may know his commands have
been executed. I am now supposed to be gone to the spot where we
have her hidden that I may fetch her in secrecy to Dusar. None
is to know that she has ever been in the keeping of a Dusarian. I
do not need to tell you what would befall Dusar should Ptarth and
Helium and Kaol ever learn the truth."

The jaws of the listener at the ventilator clicked together with
a vicious snap. Before he had but guessed at the identity of the
subject of this conversation. Now he knew. And they were to kill
her! His muscular fingers clenched until the nails bit into the

"And you wish me to go with you while you fetch her to Dusar," Vas
Kor was saying. "Where is she?"

Astok bent close and whispered into the other's ear. The suggestion
of a smile crossed the cruel features of Vas Kor. He realized the
power that lay within his grasp. He should be a jed at least.

"And how may I help you, my Prince?" asked the older man suavely.

"I cannot kill

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