Thuvia, Maid of Mars

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 92

her," said Astok. "Issus! I cannot do it! When
she turns those eyes upon me my heart becomes water."

Vas Kor's eyes narrowed.

"And you wish--" He paused, the interrogation unfinished, yet
complete.

Astok nodded.

"YOU do not love her," he said.

"But I love my life--though I am only a lesser noble," he concluded
meaningly.

"You shall be a greater noble--a noble of the first rank!" exclaimed
Astok.

"I would be a jed," said Vas Kor bluntly.

Astok hesitated.

"A jed must die before there can be another jed," he pleaded.

"Jeds have died before," snapped Vas Kor. "It would doubtless be
not difficult for you to find a jed you do not love, Astok--there
are many who do not love you."

Already Vas Kor was commencing to presume upon his power over the
young prince. Astok was quick to note and appreciate the subtle
change in his lieutenant. A cunning scheme entered his weak and
wicked brain.

"As you say, Vas Kor!" he exclaimed. "You shall be a jed when
the thing is done," and then, to himself: "Nor will it then be
difficult for me to find a jed I do not love."

"When shall we return to Dusar?" asked the noble.

"At once," replied Astok. "Let us get under way now--there is
naught to keep you here?"

"I had intended sailing on the morrow, picking up such recruits as
the various Dwars of the Roads might have collected for me, as we
returned to Dusar."

"Let the recruits wait," said Astok. "Or, better still, come you
to Dusar upon the Thuria, leaving the Kalksus to follow and pick
up the recruits."

"Yes," acquiesced Vas Kor; "that is the better plan. Come; I am
ready," and he rose to accompany Astok to the latter's flier.

The listener at the ventilator came to his feet slowly, like an
old man. His face was drawn and pinched and very white beneath
the light copper of his skin. She was to die! And he helpless to
avert the tragedy. He did not even know where she was imprisoned.

The two men were ascending from the cabin to the deck. Turjun,
the panthan, crept close to the companionway, his sinuous fingers
closing tightly upon the hilt of his dagger. Could he despatch
them both before he was overpowered? He smiled. He could slay an
entire utan of her enemies in his present state of mind.

They were almost abreast of him now. Astok was speaking.

"Bring a couple of your men along, Vas Kor," he

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