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Thuvia, Maid of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs

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but when everything pointed to you--even then I would not believe

"I did not do it, Thuvia," he said. "But let me be entirely honest
with you. As much as I love your father, as much as I respect Kulan
Tith, to whom you are betrothed, as well as I know the frightful
consequences that must have followed such an act of mine, hurling
into war, as it would, three of the greatest nations of Barsoom--yet,
notwithstanding all this, I should not have hesitated to take you
thus, Thuvia of Ptarth, had you even hinted that it would not have
displeased YOU.

"But you did nothing of the kind, and so I am here, not in my own
service, but in yours, and in the service of the man to whom you
are promised, to save you for him, if it lies within the power of
man to do so," he concluded, almost bitterly.

Thuvia of Ptarth looked into his face for several moments. Her
breast was rising and falling as though to some resistless emotion.
She half took a step toward him. Her lips parted as though to
speak--swiftly and impetuously.

And then she conquered whatever had moved her.

"The future acts of the Prince of Helium," she said coldly, "must
constitute the proof of his past honesty of purpose."

Carthoris was hurt by the girl's tone, as much as by the doubt as
to his integrity which her words implied.

He had half hoped that she might hint that his love would be
acceptable--certainly there was due him at least a little gratitude
for his recent acts in her behalf; but the best he received was
cold skepticism.

The Prince of Helium shrugged his broad shoulders. The girl noted
it, and the little smile that touched his lips, so that it became
her turn to be hurt.

Of course she had not meant to hurt him. He might have known that
after what he had said she could not do anything to encourage him!
But he need not have made his indifference quite so palpable. The
men of Helium were noted for their gallantry--not for boorishness.
Possibly it was the Earth blood that flowed in his veins.

How could she know that the shrug was but Carthoris' way of
attempting, by physical effort, to cast blighting sorrow from his
heart, or that the smile upon his lips was the fighting smile of his
father with which the son gave outward evidence of the determination
he had reached to submerge his own great love in his efforts to
save Thuvia of Ptarth for another, because he believed that she
loved this other!

He reverted to his original question.

"Where are we?" he asked. "I do not know."

"Nor I," replied the girl. "Those who stole me from Ptarth spoke
among themselves of Aaanthor, so that I thought it possible that
the ancient city to which they took me was that famous ruin; but
where we may be now I have no idea."

"When the bowmen return we shall doubtless learn all that there is
to know," said Carthoris. "Let us hope that they prove friendly.
What race may they be? Only in the most ancient of our legends
and in the mural paintings of the deserted cities of the dead
sea-bottoms are depicted such a race of auburn-haired, fair-skinned
people. Can it be that we have stumbled upon a surviving city of
the past which all Barsoom believes buried beneath the ages?"

Thuvia was looking toward the forest into which the green men and
the pursuing bowmen had disappeared. From a great distance came
the hideous cries of banths, and an occasional shot.

"It is strange that they do not return," said the girl.

"One would expect to see the wounded limping or being carried back
to the city," replied Carthoris, with a puzzled frown. "But how
about the wounded nearer the city? Have they carried them within?"

Both turned their eyes toward the field between them and the walled
city, where the fighting had been most furious.

There were the banths, still growling about their hideous feast.

Carthoris looked at Thuvia in astonishment. Then he pointed toward
the field.

"Where are they?" he whispered. "WHAT HAS BECOME OF THEIR DEAD



The girl looked her incredulity.

"They lay in piles," she murmured. "There were thousands of them
but a minute ago."

"And now," continued Carthoris, "there remain but the banths and
the carcasses of the green men."

"They must have sent forth and carried the dead bowmen away while
we were talking," said the girl.

"It is impossible!" replied Carthoris. "Thousands of dead lay
there upon the field but a moment since. It would have required
many hours to have removed them. The thing is uncanny."

"I had hoped," said Thuvia, "that we might find an asylum with
these fair-skinned people. Notwithstanding their valour upon the
field of battle, they did not strike me as a ferocious or warlike
people. I had been about to suggest that we seek entrance to the
city, but now I scarce know if I care to venture among people whose
dead vanish into thin air."

"Let us chance it," replied Carthoris. "We can be no worse off within
their walls than without. Here we may fall prey to the banths or
the no less fierce Torquasians. There, at least, we shall find
beings moulded after our own images.

"All that causes me to hesitate," he added, "is the danger of taking
you past so many banths. A single sword would scarce prevail were
even a couple of them to charge simultaneously."

"Do not fear on that score," replied the girl, smiling. "The banths
will not harm us."

As she spoke she descended from the platform, and with Carthoris
at her side stepped fearlessly out upon the bloody field in the
direction of the walled city of mystery.

They had advanced but a short distance when a banth, looking up
from its gory feast, descried them. With an angry roar the beast
walked quickly in their direction, and at the sound of its voice
a score of others followed its example.

Carthoris drew his long-sword. The girl stole a quick glance
at his face. She saw the smile upon his lips, and it was as wine
to sick nerves; for even upon warlike Barsoom where all men are
brave, woman reacts quickly to quiet indifference to danger--to
dare-deviltry that is without bombast.

"You may return your sword," she said. "I told you that the banths
would not harm us. Look!" and as she spoke she stepped quickly
toward the nearest animal.

Carthoris would have leaped after her to protect her, but with a
gesture she motioned him back. He heard her calling to the banths
in a low, singsong voice that was half purr.

Instantly the great heads went up and all the wicked eyes
were riveted upon the figure of the girl. Then, stealthily, they
commenced moving toward her. She had stopped now and was standing
waiting them.

One, closer to her than the others, hesitated. She spoke to him
imperiously, as a master might speak to a refractory hound.

The great carnivore let its head droop, and with tail between its
legs came slinking to the girl's feet, and after it came the others
until she was entirely surrounded by the savage maneaters.

Turning she led them to where Carthoris stood. They growled a little
as they neared the man, but a few sharp words of command put them
in their places.

"How do you do it?" exclaimed Carthoris.

"Your father once asked me that same question in the galleries of
the Golden Cliffs within the Otz Mountains, beneath the temples of
the therns. I could not answer him, nor can I answer you. I do
not know whence comes my power over them, but ever since the day
that Sator Throg threw me among them in the banth pit of the Holy
Therns, and the great creatures fawned upon instead of devouring
me, I ever have had the same strange power over them. They come
at my call and do my bidding, even as the faithful Woola does the
bidding of your mighty sire."

With a word the girl dispersed the fierce pack. Roaring, they
returned to their interrupted feast, while Carthoris and Thuvia
passed among them toward the walled city.

As they advanced the man looked with wonder upon the dead bodies
of those of the green men that had not been devoured or mauled by
the banths.

He called the girl's attention to them. No arrows protruded from
the great carcasses. Nowhere upon any of them was the sign of
mortal wound, nor even slightest scratch or abrasion.

Before the bowmen's dead had disappeared the corpses of the Torquasians
had bristled with the deadly arrows of their foes. Where had the
slender messengers of death departed? What unseen hand had plucked
them from the bodies of the slain?

Despite himself Carthoris could scarce repress a shudder of
apprehension as he glanced toward the silent city before them. No
longer was sign of life visible upon wall or roof top. All was
quiet--brooding, ominous quiet.

Yet he was sure that eyes watched them from somewhere behind that
blank wall.

He glanced at Thuvia. She was advancing with wide eyes fixed upon
the city gate. He looked in the direction of her gaze, but saw

His gaze upon her seemed to arouse her as from a lethargy. She
glanced up at him, a quick, brave smile touching her lips, and then,
as though the act was involuntary, she came close to his side and
placed one of her hands in his.

He guessed that something within her that was beyond her conscious
control was appealing to him for protection. He threw an arm about
her, and thus they crossed the field. She did not draw away from
him. It is doubtful that she realized that his arm was there, so
engrossed was she in the mystery of the strange city before them.

They stopped before the gate. It was a mighty thing. From its
construction Carthoris could but dimly speculate upon its unthinkable

It was circular, closing a circular aperture, and the Heliumite knew
from his study of ancient Barsoomian architecture that it rolled
to one side, like a huge wheel, into an aperture in the wall.

Even such world-old cities as ancient Aaanthor were as yet undreamed
of when the races lived that built such gates as these.

As he stood speculating upon the identity of this forgotten city,
a voice spoke to them from above. Both looked up. There, leaning
over the edge of the high wall, was a man.

His hair was auburn, his skin fair--fairer even than that of John
Carter, the Virginian. His forehead was high, his eyes large and

The language that he used was intelligible to the two below,
yet there was a marked difference between it and their Barsoomian

"Who are you?" he asked. "And what do you here before the gate of

"We are friends," replied Carthoris. "This be the princess,
Thuvia of Ptarth, who was captured by the Torquasian horde. I am
Carthoris of Helium, Prince of the house of Tardos Mors, Jeddak of
Helium, and son of John Carter, Warlord of Mars, and of his wife,
Dejah Thoris."

"`Ptarth'?" repeated the man. "`Helium'?" He shook his head. "I
never have heard of these places, nor did I know that there dwelt
upon Barsoom a race of thy strange colour. Where may these cities
lie, of which you speak? From our loftiest tower we have never
seen another city than Lothar."

Carthoris pointed toward the north-east.

"In that direction lie Helium and Ptarth," he said. "Helium is over
eight thousand haads from Lothar, while Ptarth lies nine thousand
five hundred haads north-east of Helium."[1]

[1]On Barsoom the AD is the basis of linear measurement. It is
the equivalent of an Earthly foot, measuring about 11.694 Earth
inches. As has been my custom in the past, I have generally
translated Barsoomian symbols of time, distance, etc., into their
Earthly equivalent, as being more easily understood by Earth readers.
For those of a more studious turn of mind it may be interesting
to know the Martian table of linear measurement, and so I give it

10 sofads = 1 ad
200 ads = 1 haad
100 haads = 1 karad
360 karads = 1 circumference of Mars at equator.

A haad, or Barsoomian mile, contains about 2,339 Earth feet. A
karad is one degree. A sofad about 1.17 Earth inches.

Still the man shook his head.

"I know of nothing beyond the Lotharian hills," he said. "Naught
may live there beside the hideous green hordes of Torquas. They
have conquered all Barsoom except this single valley and the city
of Lothar. Here we have defied them for countless ages, though
periodically they renew their attempts to destroy us. From whence
you come I cannot guess unless you be descended from the slaves
the Torquasians captured in early times when they reduced the outer
world to their vassalage; but we had heard that they destroyed all
other races but their own."

Carthoris tried to explain that the Torquasians ruled but a
relatively tiny part of the surface of Barsoom, and even this only
because their domain held nothing to attract the red race; but the
Lotharian could not seem to conceive of anything beyond the valley
of Lothar other than a trackless waste peopled by the ferocious
green hordes of Torquas.

After considerably parleying he consented to admit them to the
city, and a moment later the wheel-like gate rolled back within
its niche, and Thuvia and Carthoris entered the city of Lothar.

All about them were evidences of fabulous wealth. The facades of
the buildings fronting upon the avenue within the wall were richly
carven, and about the windows and doors were ofttimes set foot-wide
borders of precious stones, intricate mosaics, or tablets of beaten
gold bearing bas-reliefs depicting what may have been bits of the
history of this forgotten people.

He with whom they had conversed across the wall was in the avenue
to receive them. About him were a hundred or more men of the same
race. All were clothed in flowing robes and all were beardless.

Their attitude was more of fearful suspicion than antagonism. They
followed the new-comers with their eyes; but spoke no word to them.

Carthoris could not but notice the fact that though the city had
been but a short time before surrounded by a horde of bloodthirsty
demons yet none of the citizens appeared to be armed, nor was there
sign of soldiery about.

He wondered if all the fighting men had sallied forth in one supreme
effort to rout the foe, leaving the city all unguarded. He asked
their host.

The man smiled.

"No creature other than a score or so of our sacred banths has left
Lothar to-day," he replied.

"But the soldiers--the bowmen!" exclaimed Carthoris. "We saw
thousands emerge from this very gate, overwhelming the hordes of
Torquas and putting them to rout with their deadly arrows and their
fierce banths."

Still the man smiled his knowing smile.

"Look!" he cried, and pointed down a broad avenue before him.

Carthoris and Thuvia followed the direction indicated, and there,
marching bravely in the sunlight, they saw advancing toward them
a great army of bowmen.

"Ah!" exclaimed Thuvia. "They have returned through another gate,
or perchance these be the troops that remained to defend the city?"

Again the fellow smiled his uncanny smile.

"There are no soldiers in Lothar," he said. "Look!"

Both Carthoris and Thuvia had turned toward him while he spoke,
and now as they turned back again toward the advancing regiments
their eyes went wide in astonishment, for the broad avenue before
them was as deserted as the tomb.

"And those who marched out upon the hordes to-day?" whispered
Carthoris. "They, too, were unreal?"

The man nodded.

"But their arrows slew the green warriors," insisted Thuvia.

"Let us go before Tario," replied the Lotharian. "He will tell you
that which he deems it best you know. I might tell you too much."

"Who is Tario?" asked Carthoris.

"Jeddak of Lothar," replied the guide, leading them up the broad
avenue down which they had but a moment since seen the phantom army

For half an hour they walked along lovely avenues between the most
gorgeous buildings that the two had ever seen. Few people were in
evidence. Carthoris could not but note the deserted appearance of
the mighty city.

At last they came to the royal palace. Carthoris saw it from a
distance, and guessing the nature of the magnificent pile wondered
that even here there should be so little sign of activity and life.

Not even a single guard was visible before the great entrance gate,
nor in the gardens beyond, into which he could see, was there sign
of the myriad life that pulses within the precincts of the royal
estates of the red jeddaks.

"Here," said their guide, "is the palace of Tario."

As he spoke Carthoris again let his gaze rest upon the wondrous
palace. With a startled exclamation he rubbed his eyes and looked
again. No! He could not be mistaken. Before the massive gate
stood a score of sentries. Within, the avenue leading to the main
building was lined on either side by ranks of bowmen. The gardens
were dotted with officers and soldiers moving quickly to and fro,
as though bent upon the duties of the minute.

What manner of people were these who could conjure an army out
of thin air? He glanced toward Thuvia. She, too, evidently had
witnessed the transformation.

With a little shudder she pressed more closely toward him.

"What do you make of it?" she whispered. "It is most uncanny."

"I cannot account for it," replied Carthoris, "unless we have gone

Carthoris turned quickly toward the Lotharian. The fellow was
smiling broadly.

"I thought that you just said that there were no soldiers in
Lothar," said the Heliumite, with a gesture toward the guardsmen.
"What are these?"

"Ask Tario," replied the other. "We shall soon be before him."

Nor was it long before they entered a lofty chamber at one end of
which a man reclined upon a rich couch that stood upon a high dais.

As the trio approached, the man turned dreamy eyes sleepily upon
them. Twenty feet from the dais their conductor halted, and,
whispering to Thuvia and Carthoris to follow his example, threw
himself headlong to the floor. Then rising to hands and knees,
he commenced crawling toward the foot of the throne, swinging his
head to and fro and wiggling his body as you have seen a hound do
when approaching its master.

Thuvia glanced quickly toward Carthoris. He was standing erect,
with high-held head and arms folded across his broad chest. A
haughty smile curved his lips.

The man upon the dais was eyeing him intently, and Carthoris of
Helium was looking straight in the other's face.

"Who be these, Jav?" asked the man of him who crawled upon his
belly along the floor.

"O Tario, most glorious Jeddak," replied Jav, "these be strangers
who came with the hordes of Torquas to our gates, saying that they
were prisoners of the green men. They tell strange tales of cities
far beyond Lothar."

"Arise, Jav," commanded Tario, "and ask these two why they show
not to Tario the respect that is his due."

Jav arose and faced the strangers. At sight of their erect positions
his face went livid. He leaped toward them.

"Creatures!" he screamed. "Down! Down upon your bellies before
the last of the jeddaks of Barsoom!"



As Jav leaped toward him Carthoris laid his hand upon the hilt of
his long-sword. The Lotharian halted. The great apartment was
empty save for the four at the dais, yet as Jav stepped back from
the menace of the Heliumite's threatening attitude the latter found
himself surrounded by a score of bowmen.

From whence had they sprung? Both Carthoris and Thuvia looked
their astonishment.

Now the former's sword leaped from its scabbard, and at the same
instant the bowmen drew back their slim shafts.

Tario had half raised himself upon one elbow. For the first time
he saw the full figure of Thuvia, who had been concealed behind
the person of Carthoris.

"Enough!" cried the jeddak, raising a protesting hand, but at
that very instant the sword of the Heliumite cut viciously at its
nearest antagonist.

As the keen edge reached its goal Carthoris let the point fall to
the floor, as with wide eyes he stepped backward in consternation,
throwing the back of his left hand across his brow. His steel
had cut but empty air--his antagonist had vanished--there were no
bowmen in the room!

"It is evident that these are strangers," said Tario to Jav. "Let
us first determine that they knowingly affronted us before we take
measures for punishment."

Then he turned to Carthoris, but ever his gaze wandered to the
perfect lines of Thuvia's glorious figure, which the harness of a
Barsoomian princess accentuated rather than concealed.

"Who are you," he asked, "who knows not the etiquette of the court
of the last of jeddaks?"

"I am Carthoris, Prince of Helium," replied the Heliumite. "And
this is Thuvia, Princess of Ptarth. In the courts of our fathers
men do not prostrate themselves before royalty. Not since the First
Born tore their immortal goddess limb from limb have men crawled
upon their bellies to any throne upon Barsoom. Now think you that
the daughter of one mighty jeddak and the son of another would so
humiliate themselves?"

Tario looked at Carthoris for a long time. At last he spoke.

"There is no other jeddak upon Barsoom than Tario," he said. "There
is no other race than that of Lothar, unless the hordes of Torquas
may be dignified by such an appellation. Lotharians are white;
your skins are red. There are no women left upon Barsoom. Your
companion is a woman."

He half rose from the couch, leaning far forward and pointing an
accusing finger at Carthoris.

"You are a lie!" he shrieked. "You are both lies, and you dare to
come before Tario, last and mightiest of the jeddaks of Barsoom,
and assert your reality. Some one shall pay well for this, Jav,
and unless I mistake it is yourself who has dared thus flippantly
to trifle with the good nature of your jeddak.

"Remove the man. Leave the woman. We shall see if both be lies.
And later, Jav, you shall suffer for your temerity. There be few
of us left, but--Komal must be fed. Go!"

Carthoris could see that Jav trembled as he prostrated himself once
more before his ruler, and then, rising, turned toward the Prince
of Helium.

"Come!" he said.

"And leave the Princess of Ptarth here alone?" cried Carthoris.

Jav brushed closely past him, whispering:

"Follow me--he cannot harm her, except to kill; and that he can do
whether you remain or not. We had best go now--trust me."

Carthoris did not understand, but something in the urgency of the
other's tone assured him, and so he turned away, but not without a
glance toward Thuvia in which he attempted to make her understand
that it was in her own interest that he left her.

For answer she turned her back full upon him, but not without first
throwing him such a look of contempt that brought the scarlet to
his cheek.

Then he hesitated, but Jav seized him by the wrist.

"Come!" he whispered. "Or he will have the bowmen upon you, and
this time there will be no escape. Did you not see how futile is
your steel against thin air!"

Carthoris turned unwillingly to follow. As the two left the room
he turned to his companion.

"If I may not kill thin air," he asked, "how, then, shall I fear
that thin air may kill me?"

"You saw the Torquasians fall before the bowmen?" asked Jav.

Carthoris nodded.

"So would you fall before them, and without one single chance for
self-defence or revenge."

As they talked Jav led Carthoris to a small room in one of the
numerous towers of the palace. Here were couches, and Jav bid the
Heliumite be seated.

For several minutes the Lotharian eyed his prisoner, for such
Carthoris now realized himself to be.

"I am half convinced that you are real," he said at last.

Carthoris laughed.

"Of course I am real," he said. "What caused you to doubt it? Can
you not see me, feel me?"

"So may I see and feel the bowmen," replied Jav, "and yet we all
know that they, at least, are not real."

Carthoris showed by the expression of his face his puzzlement at
each new reference to the mysterious bowmen--the vanishing soldiery
of Lothar.

"What, then, may they be?" he asked.

"You really do not know?" asked Jav.

Carthoris shook his head negatively.

"I can almost believe that you have told us the truth and that you
are really from another part of Barsoom, or from another world. But
tell me, in your own country have you no bowmen to strike terror
to the hearts of the green hordesmen as they slay in company with
the fierce banths of war?"

"We have soldiers," replied Carthoris. "We of the red race are
all soldiers, but we have no bowmen to defend us, such as yours.
We defend ourselves."

"You go out and get killed by your enemies!" cried Jav incredulously.

"Certainly," replied Carthoris. "How do the Lotharians?"

"You have seen," replied the other. "We send out our deathless
archers--deathless because they are lifeless, existing only in the
imaginations of our enemies. It is really our giant minds that
defend us, sending out legions of imaginary warriors to materialize
before the mind's eye of the foe.

"They see them--they see their bows drawn back--they see their
slender arrows speed with unerring precision toward their hearts.
And they die--killed by the power of suggestion."

"But the archers that are slain?" exclaimed Carthoris. "You call
them deathless, and yet I saw their dead bodies piled high upon
the battlefield. How may that be?"

"It is but to lend reality to the scene," replied Jav. "We picture
many of our own defenders killed that the Torquasians may not guess
that there are really no flesh and blood creatures opposing them.

"Once that truth became implanted in their minds, it is the theory
of many of us, no longer would they fall prey to the suggestion
of the deadly arrows, for greater would be the suggestion of the
truth, and the more powerful suggestion would prevail--it is law."

"And the banths?" questioned Carthoris. "They, too, were but
creatures of suggestion?"

"Some of them were real," replied Jav. "Those that accompanied
the archers in pursuit of the Torquasians were unreal. Like the
archers, they never returned, but, having served their purpose,
vanished with the bowmen when the rout of the enemy was assured.

"Those that remained about the field were real. Those we loosed
as scavengers to devour the bodies of the dead of Torquas. This
thing is demanded by the realists among us. I am a realist. Tario
is an etherealist.

"The etherealists maintain that there is no such thing as
matter--that all is mind. They say that none of us exists, except
in the imagination of his fellows, other than as an intangible,
invisible mentality.

"According to Tario, it is but necessary that we all unite in
imagining that there are no dead Torquasians beneath our walls,
and there will be none, nor any need of scavenging banths."

"You, then, do not hold Tario's beliefs?" asked Carthoris.

"In part only," replied the Lotharian. "I believe, in fact I know,
that there are some truly ethereal creatures. Tario is one, I am
convinced. He has no existence except in the imaginations of his

"Of course, it is the contention of all us realists that all
etherealists are but figments of the imagination. They contend
that no food is necessary, nor do they eat; but any one of the most
rudimentary intelligence must realize that food is a necessity to
creatures having actual existence."

"Yes," agreed Carthoris, "not having eaten to-day I can readily
agree with you."

"Ah, pardon me," exclaimed Jav. "Pray be seated and satisfy your
hunger," and with a wave of his hand he indicated a bountifully
laden table that had not been there an instant before he spoke. Of
that Carthoris was positive, for he had searched the room diligently
with his eyes several times.

"It is well," continued Jav, "that you did not fall into the hands
of an etherealist. Then, indeed, would you have gone hungry."

"But," exclaimed Carthoris, "this is not real food--it was not here
an instant since, and real food does not materialize out of thin

Jav looked hurt.

"There is no real food or water in Lothar," he said; "nor has there
been for countless ages. Upon such as you now see before you have
we existed since the dawn of history. Upon such, then, may you

"But I thought you were a realist," exclaimed Carthoris.

"Indeed," cried Jav, "what more realistic than this bounteous feast?
It is just here that we differ most from the etherealists. They
claim that it is unnecessary to imagine food; but we have found
that for the maintenance of life we must thrice daily sit down to
hearty meals.

"The food that one eats is supposed to undergo certain chemical
changes during the process of digestion and assimilation, the
result, of course, being the rebuilding of wasted tissue.

"Now we all know that mind is all, though we may differ in the
interpretation of its various manifestations. Tario maintains
that there is no such thing as substance, all being created from
the substanceless matter of the brain.

"We realists, however, know better. We know that mind has the
power to maintain substance even though it may not be able to create
substance--the latter is still an open question. And so we know
that in order to maintain our physical bodies we must cause all
our organs properly to function.

"This we accomplish by materializing food-thoughts, and by partaking
of the food thus created. We chew, we swallow, we digest. All our
organs function precisely as if we had partaken of material food.
And what is the result? What must be the result? The chemical
changes take place through both direct and indirect suggestion,
and we live and thrive."

Carthoris eyed the food before him. It seemed real enough. He
lifted a morsel to his lips. There was substance indeed. And
flavour as well. Yes, even his palate was deceived.

Jav watched him, smiling, as he ate.

"Is it not entirely satisfying?" he asked.

"I must admit that it is," replied Carthoris. "But tell me, how
does Tario live, and the other etherealists who maintain that food
is unnecessary?"

Jav scratched his head.

"That is a question we often discuss," he replied. "It is the
strongest evidence we have of the non-existence of the etherealists;
but who may know other than Komal?"

"Who is Komal?" asked Carthoris. "I heard your jeddak speak of

Jav bent low toward the ear of the Heliumite, looking fearfully
about before he spoke.

"Komal is the essence," he whispered. "Even the etherealists
admit that mind itself must have substance in order to transmit to
imaginings the appearance of substance. For if there really was
no such thing as substance it could not be suggested--what never
has been cannot be imagined. Do you follow me?"

"I am groping," replied Carthoris dryly.

"So the essence must be substance," continued Jav. "Komal is the
essence of the All, as it were. He is maintained by substance.
He eats. He eats the real. To be explicit, he eats the realists.
That is Tario's work.

"He says that inasmuch as we maintain that we alone are real we
should, to be consistent, admit that we alone are proper food for
Komal. Sometimes, as to-day, we find other food for him. He is
very fond of Torquasians."

"And Komal is a man?" asked Carthoris.

"He is All, I told you," replied Jav. "I know not how to explain
him in words that you will understand. He is the beginning and
the end. All life emanates from Komal, since the substance which
feeds the brain with imaginings radiates from the body of Komal.

"Should Komal cease to eat, all life upon Barsoom would cease to be.
He cannot die, but he might cease to eat, and, thus, to radiate."

"And he feeds upon the men and women of your belief?" cried Carthoris.

"Women!" exclaimed Jav. "There are no women in Lothar. The last
of the Lotharian females perished ages since, upon that cruel and
terrible journey across the muddy plains that fringed the half-dried
seas, when the green hordes scourged us across the world to this
our last hiding-place--our impregnable fortress of Lothar.

"Scarce twenty thousand men of all the countless millions of our
race lived to reach Lothar. Among us were no women and no children.
All these had perished by the way.

"As time went on, we, too, were dying and the race fast approaching
extinction, when the Great Truth was revealed to us, that mind is
all. Many more died before we perfected our powers, but at last
we were able to defy death when we fully understood that death was
merely a state of mind.

"Then came the creation of mind-people, or rather the materialization
of imaginings. We first put these to practical use when the
Torquasians discovered our retreat, and fortunate for us it was
that it required ages of search upon their part before they found
the single tiny entrance to the valley of Lothar.

"That day we threw our first bowmen against them. The intention
was purely to frighten them away by the vast numbers of bowmen which
we could muster upon our walls. All Lothar bristled with the bows
and arrows of our ethereal host.

"But the Torquasians did not frighten. They are lower than the
beasts--they know no fear. They rushed upon our walls, and standing
upon the shoulders of others they built human approaches to the
wall tops, and were on the very point of surging in upon us and
overwhelming us.

"Not an arrow had been discharged by our bowmen--we did but cause
them to run to and fro along the wall top, screaming taunts and
threats at the enemy.

"Presently I thought to attempt the thing--THE GREAT THING. I centred
all my mighty intellect upon the bowmen of my own creation--each
of us produces and directs as many bowmen as his mentality and
imagination is capable of.

"I caused them to fit arrows to their bows for the first time. I
made them take aim at the hearts of the green men. I made the
green men see all this, and then I made them see the arrows fly,
and I made them think that the points pierced their hearts.

"It was all that was necessary. By hundreds they toppled from
our walls, and when my fellows saw what I had done they were quick
to follow my example, so that presently the hordes of Torquas had
retreated beyond the range of our arrows.

"We might have killed them at any distance, but one rule of war we
have maintained from the first--the rule of realism. We do nothing,
or rather we cause our bowmen to do nothing within sight of the
enemy that is beyond the understanding of the foe. Otherwise they
might guess the truth, and that would be the end of us.

"But after the Torquasians had retreated beyond bowshot, they turned
upon us with their terrible rifles, and by constant popping at us
made life miserable within our walls.

"So then I bethought the scheme to hurl our bowmen through the
gates upon them. You have seen this day how well it works. For
ages they have come down upon us at intervals, but always with the
same results."

"And all this is due to your intellect, Jav?" asked Carthoris. "I
should think that you would be high in the councils of your people."

"I am," replied Jav, proudly. "I am next to Tario."

"But why, then, your cringing manner of approaching the throne?"

"Tario demands it. He is jealous of me. He only awaits the
slightest excuse to feed me to Komal. He fears that I may some
day usurp his power."

Carthoris suddenly sprang from the table.

"Jav!" he exclaimed. "I am a beast! Here I have been eating my
fill, while the Princess of Ptarth may perchance be still without
food. Let us return and find some means of furnishing her with

The Lotharian shook his head.

"Tario would not permit it," he said. "He will, doubtless, make
an etherealist of her."

"But I must go to her," insisted Carthoris. "You say that there
are no women in Lothar. Then she must be among men, and if this
be so I intend to be near where I may defend her if the need arises."

"Tario will have his way," insisted Jav. "He sent you away and
you may not return until he sends for you."

"Then I shall go without waiting to be sent for."

"Do not forget the bowmen," cautioned Jav.

"I do not forget them," replied Carthoris, but he did not tell
Jav that he remembered something else that the Lotharian had let
drop--something that was but a conjecture, possibly, and yet one
well worth pinning a forlorn hope to, should necessity arise.

Carthoris started to leave the room. Jav stepped before him,
barring his way.

"I have learned to like you, red man," he said; "but do not forget
that Tario is still my jeddak, and that Tario has commanded that
you remain here."

Carthoris was about to reply, when there came faintly to the ears
of both a woman's cry for help.

With a sweep of his arm the Prince of Helium brushed the Lotharian
aside, and with drawn sword sprang into the corridor without.



As Thuvia of Ptarth saw Carthoris depart from the presence of Tario,
leaving her alone with the man, a sudden qualm of terror seized

There was an air of mystery pervading the stately chamber. Its
furnishings and appointments bespoke wealth and culture, and
carried the suggestion that the room was often the scene of royal
functions which filled it to its capacity.

And yet nowhere about her, in antechamber or corridor, was there
sign of any other being than herself and the recumbent figure of
Tario, the jeddak, who watched her through half-closed eyes from
the gorgeous trappings of his regal couch.

For a time after the departure of Jav and Carthoris the man eyed
her intently. Then he spoke.

"Come nearer," he said, and, as she approached: "Whose creature
are you? Who has dared materialize his imaginings of woman? It is
contrary to the customs and the royal edicts of Lothar. Tell me,
woman, from whose brain have you sprung? Jav's? No, do not deny
it. I know that it could be no other than that envious realist. He
seeks to tempt me. He would see me fall beneath the spell of your
charms, and then he, your master, would direct my destiny and--my
end. I see it all! I see it all!"

The blood of indignation and anger had been rising to Thuvia's
face. Her chin was up, a haughty curve upon her perfect lips.

"I know naught," she cried, "of what you are prating! I am Thuvia,
Princess of Ptarth. I am no man's `creature.' Never before to-day
did I lay eyes upon him you call Jav, nor upon your ridiculous city,
of which even the greatest nations of Barsoom have never dreamed.

"My charms are not for you, nor such as you. They are not for
sale or barter, even though the price were a real throne. And as
for using them to win your worse than futile power--" She ended
her sentence with a shrug of her shapely shoulders, and a little
scornful laugh.

When she had finished Tario was sitting upon the edge of his
couch, his feet upon the floor. He was leaning forward with eyes
no longer half closed, but wide with a startled expression in them.

He did not seem to note the LESE MAJESTE of her words and manner.
There was evidently something more startling and compelling about
her speech than that.

Slowly he came to his feet.

"By the fangs of Komal!" he muttered. "But you are REAL! A REAL
woman! No dream! No vain and foolish figment of the mind!"

He took a step toward her, with hands outstretched.

"Come!" he whispered. "Come, woman! For countless ages have I
dreamed that some day you would come. And now that you are here
I can scarce believe the testimony of my eyes. Even now, knowing
that you are real, I still half dread that you may be a lie."

Thuvia shrank back. She thought the man mad. Her hand stole to
the jewelled hilt of her dagger. The man saw the move, and stopped.
A cunning expression entered his eyes. Then they became at once
dreamy and penetrating as they fairly bored into the girl's brain.

Thuvia suddenly felt a change coming over her. What the cause of
it she did not guess; but somehow the man before her began to assume
a new relationship within her heart.

No longer was he a strange and mysterious enemy, but an old and
trusted friend. Her hand slipped from the dagger's hilt. Tario
came closer. He spoke gentle, friendly words, and she answered
him in a voice that seemed hers and yet another's.

He was beside her now. His hand was up her shoulder. His eyes
were down-bent toward hers. She looked up into his face. His
gaze seemed to bore straight through her to some hidden spring of
sentiment within her.

Her lips parted in sudden awe and wonder at the strange revealment
of her inner self that was being laid bare before her consciousness.
She had known Tario for ever. He was more than friend to her.
She moved a little closer to him. In one swift flood of light she
knew the truth. She loved Tario, Jeddak of Lothar! She had always
loved him.

The man, seeing the success of his strategy, could not restrain a
faint smile of satisfaction. Whether there was something in the
expression of his face, or whether from Carthoris of Helium in a
far chamber of the palace came a more powerful suggestion, who may
say? But something there was that suddenly dispelled the strange,
hypnotic influence of the man.

As though a mask had been torn from her eyes, Thuvia suddenly saw
Tario as she had formerly seen him, and, accustomed as she was to
the strange manifestations of highly developed mentality which are
common upon Barsoom, she quickly guessed enough of the truth to
know that she was in grave danger.

Quickly she took a step backward, tearing herself from his grasp.
But the momentary contact had aroused within Tario all the long-buried
passions of his loveless existence.

With a muffled cry he sprang upon her, throwing his arms about her
and attempting to drag her lips to his.

"Woman!" he cried. "Lovely woman! Tario would make you queen of
Lothar. Listen to me! Listen to the love of the last jeddaks of

Thuvia struggled to free herself from his embrace.

"Stop, creature!" she cried. "Stop! I do not love you. Stop, or
I shall scream for help!"

Tario laughed in her face.

"`Scream for help,'" he mimicked. "And who within the halls of
Lothar is there who might come in answer to your call? Who would
dare enter the presence of Tario, unsummoned?"

"There is one," she replied, "who would come, and, coming, dare
to cut you down upon your own throne, if he thought that you had
offered affront to Thuvia of Ptarth!"

"Who, Jav?" asked Tario.

"Not Jav, nor any other soft-skinned Lotharian," she replied; "but
a real man, a real warrior--Carthoris of Helium!"

Again the man laughed at her.

"You forget the bowmen," he reminded her. "What could your red
warrior accomplish against my fearless legions?"

Again he caught her roughly to him, dragging her towards his couch.

"If you will not be my queen," he said, "you shall be my slave."

"Neither!" cried the girl.

As she spoke the single word there was a quick move of her right
hand; Tario, releasing her, staggered back, both hands pressed to
his side. At the same instant the room filled with bowmen, and
then the jeddak of Lothar sank senseless to the marble floor.

At the instant that he lost consciousness the bowmen were about to
release their arrows into Thuvia's heart. Involuntarily she gave
a single cry for help, though she knew that not even Carthoris of
Helium could save her now.

Then she closed her eyes and waited for the end. No slender shafts
pierced her tender side. She raised her lids to see what stayed
the hand of her executioners.

The room was empty save for herself and the still form of the jeddak
of Lothar lying at her feet, a little pool of crimson staining the
white marble of the floor beside him. Tario was unconscious.

Thuvia was amazed. Where were the bowmen? Why had they not loosed
their shafts? What could it all mean?

An instant before the room had been mysteriously filled with
armed men, evidently called to protect their jeddak; yet now, with
the evidence of her deed plain before them, they had vanished as
mysteriously as they had come, leaving her alone with the body of
their ruler, into whose side she had slipped her long, keen blade.

The girl glanced apprehensively about, first for signs of the return
of the bowmen, and then for some means of escape.

The wall behind the dais was pierced by two small doorways, hidden
by heavy hangings. Thuvia was running quickly towards one of
these when she heard the clank of a warrior's metal at the end of
the apartment behind her.

Ah, if she had but an instant more of time she could have reached
that screening arras and, perchance, have found some avenue of
escape behind it; but now it was too late--she had been discovered!

With a feeling that was akin to apathy she turned to meet her fate,
and there, before her, running swiftly across the broad chamber to
her side, was Carthoris, his naked long-sword gleaming in his hand.

For days she had doubted his intentions of the Heliumite. She
had thought him a party to her abduction. Since Fate had thrown
them together she had scarce favoured him with more than the most
perfunctory replies to his remarks, unless at such times as the
weird and uncanny happenings at Lothar had surprised her out of
her reserve.

She knew that Carthoris of Helium would fight for her; but whether
to save her for himself or another, she was in doubt.

He knew that she was promised to Kulan Tith, Jeddak of Kaol, but
if he had been instrumental in her abduction, his motives could
not be prompted by loyalty to his friend, or regard for her honour.

And yet, as she saw him coming across the marble floor of the audience
chamber of Tario of Lothar, his fine eyes filled with apprehension
for her safety, his splendid figure personifying all that is finest
in the fighting men of martial Mars, she could not believe that
any faintest trace of perfidy lurked beneath so glorious an exterior.

Never, she thought, in all her life had the sight of any man been
so welcome to her. It was with difficulty that she refrained from
rushing forward to meet him.

She knew that he loved her; but, in time, she recalled that she was
promised to Kulan Tith. Not even might she trust herself to show
too great gratitude to the Heliumite, lest he misunderstand.

Carthoris was by her side now. His quick glance had taken in the
scene within the room--the still figure of the jeddak sprawled upon
the floor--the girl hastening toward a shrouded exit.

"Did he harm you, Thuvia?" he asked.

She held up her crimsoned blade that he might see it.

"No," she said, "he did not harm me."

A grim smile lighted Carthoris' face.

"Praised be our first ancestor!" he murmured. "And now let us see
if we may not make good our escape from this accursed city before
the Lotharians discover that their jeddak is no more."

With the firm authority that sat so well upon him in whose veins
flowed the blood of John Carter of Virginia and Dejah Thoris
of Helium, he grasped her hand and, turning back across the hall,
strode toward the great doorway through which Jav had brought them
into the presence of the jeddak earlier in the day.

They had almost reached the threshold when a figure sprang into the
apartment through another entrance. It was Jav. He, too, took in
the scene within at a glance.

Carthoris turned to face him, his sword ready in his hand, and his
great body shielding the slender figure of the girl.

"Come, Jav of Lothar!" he cried. "Let us face the issue at once,
for only one of us may leave this chamber alive with Thuvia of
Ptarth." Then, seeing that the man wore no sword, he exclaimed:
"Bring on your bowmen, then, or come with us as my prisoner until
we have safely passed the outer portals of thy ghostly city."

"You have killed Tario!" exclaimed Jav, ignoring the other's
challenge. "You have killed Tario! I see his blood upon the
floor--real blood--real death. Tario was, after all, as real as I.
Yet he was an etherealist. He would not materialize his sustenance.
Can it be that they are right? Well, we, too, are right. And all
these ages we have been quarrelling--each saying that the other
was wrong!

"However, he is dead now. Of that I am glad. Now shall Jav come
into his own. Now shall Jav be Jeddak of Lothar!"

As he finished, Tario opened his eyes and then quickly sat up.

"Traitor! Assassin!" he screamed, and then: "Kadar! Kadar!"
which is the Barsoomian for guard.

Jav went sickly white. He fell upon his belly, wriggling toward

"Oh, my Jeddak, my Jeddak!" he whimpered. "Jav had no hand in
this. Jav, your faithful Jav, but just this instant entered the
apartment to find you lying prone upon the floor and these two
strangers about to leave. How it happened I know not. Believe me,
most glorious Jeddak!"

"Cease, knave!" cried Tario. "I heard your words: `However, he
is dead now. Of that I am glad. Now shall Jav come into his own.
Now shall Jav be Jeddak of Lothar.'

"At last, traitor, I have found you out. Your own words have
condemned you as surely as the acts of these red creatures have
sealed their fates--unless--" He paused. "Unless the woman--"

But he got no further. Carthoris guessed what he would have said,
and before the words could be uttered he had sprung forward and
struck the man across the mouth with his open palm.

Tario frothed in rage and mortification.

"And should you again affront the Princess of Ptarth," warned the
Heliumite, "I shall forget that you wear no sword--not for ever
may I control my itching sword hand."

Tario shrank back toward the little doorways behind the dais. He
was trying to speak, but so hideously were the muscles of his face
working that he could utter no word for several minutes. At last
he managed to articulate intelligibly.

"Die!" he shrieked. "Die!" and then he turned toward the exit at
his back.

Jav leaped forward, screaming in terror.

"Have pity, Tario! Have pity! Remember the long ages that I have
served you faithfully. Remember all that I have done for Lothar.
Do not condemn me now to the death hideous. Save me! Save me!"

But Tario only laughed a mocking laugh and continued to back toward
the hangings that hid the little doorway.

Jav turned toward Carthoris.

"Stop him!" he screamed. "Stop him! If you love life, let him
not leave this room," and as he spoke he leaped in pursuit of his

Carthoris followed Jav's example, but the "last of the jeddaks
of Barsoom" was too quick for them. By the time they reached the
arras behind which he had disappeared, they found a heavy stone
door blocking their further progress.

Jav sank to the floor in a spasm of terror.

"Come, man!" cried Carthoris. "We are not dead yet. Let us
hasten to the avenues and make an attempt to leave the city. We
are still alive, and while we live we may yet endeavour to direct
our own destinies. Of what avail, to sink spineless to the floor?
Come, be a man!"

Jav but shook his head.

"Did you not hear him call the guards?" he moaned. "Ah, if we
could have but intercepted him! Then there might have been hope;
but, alas, he was too quick for us."

"Well, well," exclaimed Carthoris impatiently. "What if he did
call the guards? There will be time enough to worry about that
after they come--at present I see no indication that they have any
idea of over-exerting themselves to obey their jeddak's summons."

Jav shook his head mournfully.

"You do not understand," he said. "The guards have already
come--and gone. They have done their work and we are lost. Look
to the various exits."

Carthoris and Thuvia turned their eyes in the direction of the
several doorways which pierced the walls of the great chamber.
Each was tightly closed by huge stone doors.

"Well?" asked Carthoris.

"We are to die the death," whispered Jav faintly.

Further than that he would not say. He just sat upon the edge of
the jeddak's couch and waited.

Carthoris moved to Thuvia's side, and, standing there with naked
sword, he let his brave eyes roam ceaselessly about the great
chamber, that no foe might spring upon them unseen.

For what seemed hours no sound broke the silence of their living
tomb. No sign gave their executioners of the time or manner of
their death. The suspense was terrible. Even Carthoris of Helium
began to feel the terrible strain upon his nerves. If he could
but know how and whence the hand of death was to strike, he could
meet it unafraid, but to suffer longer the hideous tension of this
blighting ignorance of the plans of their assassins was telling
upon him grievously.

Thuvia of Ptarth drew quite close to him. She felt safer with the
feel of his arm against hers, and with the contact of her the man
took a new grip upon himself. With his old-time smile he turned
toward her.

"It would seem that they are trying to frighten us to death," he
said, laughing; "and, shame be upon me that I should confess it,
I think they were close to accomplishing their designs upon me."

She was about to make some reply when a fearful shriek broke from
the lips of the Lotharian.

"The end is coming!" he cried. "The end is coming! The floor!
The floor! Oh, Komal, be merciful!"

Thuvia and Carthoris did not need to look at the floor to be aware
of the strange movement that was taking place.

Slowly the marble flagging was sinking in all directions toward
the centre. At first the movement, being gradual, was scarce
noticeable; but presently the angle of the floor became such that
one might stand easily only by bending one knee considerably.

Jav was shrieking still, and clawing at the royal couch that had
already commenced to slide toward the centre of the room, where both
Thuvia and Carthoris suddenly noted a small orifice which grew in
diameter as the floor assumed more closely a funnel-like contour.

Now it became more and more difficult to cling to the dizzy
inclination of the smooth and polished marble.

Carthoris tried to support Thuvia, but himself commenced to slide
and slip toward the ever-enlarging aperture.

Better to cling to the smooth stone he kicked off his sandals
of zitidar hide and with his bare feet braced himself against the
sickening tilt, at the same time throwing his arms supportingly
about the girl.

In her terror her own hands clasped about the man's neck. Her
cheek was close to his. Death, unseen and of unknown form, seemed
close upon them, and because unseen and unknowable infinitely more

"Courage, my princess," he whispered.

She looked up into his face to see smiling lips above hers and
brave eyes, untouched by terror, drinking deeply of her own.

Then the floor sagged and tilted more swiftly. There was a sudden
slipping rush as they were precipitated toward the aperture.

Jav's screams rose weird and horrible in their ears, and then the
three found themselves piled upon the royal couch of Tario, which
had stuck within the aperture at the base of the marble funnel.

For a moment they breathed more freely, but presently they discovered
that the aperture was continuing to enlarge. The couch slipped
downward. Jav shrieked again. There was a sickening sensation as
they felt all let go beneath them, as they fell through darkness
to an unknown death.



The distance from the bottom of the funnel to the floor of the
chamber beneath it could not have been great, for all three of the
victims of Tario's wrath alighted unscathed.

Carthoris, still clasping Thuvia tightly to his breast, came to
the ground catlike, upon his feet, breaking the shock for the girl.
Scarce had his feet touched the rough stone flagging of this new
chamber than his sword flashed out ready for instant use. But
though the room was lighted, there was no sign of enemy about.

Carthoris looked toward Jav. The man was pasty white with fear.

"What is to be our fate?" asked the Heliumite. "Tell me, man!
Shake off your terror long enough to tell me, so I may be prepared
to sell my life and that of the Princess of Ptarth as dearly as

"Komal!" whispered Jav. "We are to be devoured by Komal!"

"Your deity?" asked Carthoris.

The Lotharian nodded his head. Then he pointed toward a low doorway
at one end of the chamber.

"From thence will he come upon us. Lay aside your puny sword, fool.
It will but enrage him the more and make our sufferings the worse."

Carthoris smiled, gripping his long-sword the more firmly.

Presently Jav gave a horrified moan, at the same time pointing
toward the door.

"He has come," he whimpered.

Carthoris and Thuvia looked in the direction the Lotharian had
indicated, expecting to see some strange and fearful creature in
human form; but to their astonishment they saw the broad head and
great-maned shoulders of a huge banth, the largest that either ever
had seen.

Slowly and with dignity the mighty beast advanced into the room.
Jav had fallen to the floor, and was wriggling his body in the same
servile manner that he had adopted toward Tario. He spoke to the
fierce beast as he would have spoken to a human being, pleading
with it for mercy.

Carthoris stepped between Thuvia and the banth, his sword ready to
contest the beast's victory over them. Thuvia turned toward Jav.

"Is this Komal, your god?" she asked.

Jav nodded affirmatively. The girl smiled, and then, brushing past
Carthoris, she stepped swiftly toward the growling carnivore.

In low, firm tones she spoke to it as she had spoken to the banths
of the Golden Cliffs and the scavengers before the walls of Lothar.

The beast ceased its growling. With lowered head and catlike purr,
it came slinking to the girl's feet. Thuvia turned toward Carthoris.

"It is but a banth," she said. "We have nothing to fear from it."

Carthoris smiled.

"I did not fear it," he replied, "for I, too, believed it to be
only a banth, and I have my long-sword."

Jav sat up and gazed at the spectacle before him--the slender girl
weaving her fingers in the tawny mane of the huge creature that he
had thought divine, while Komal rubbed his hideous snout against
her side.

"So this is your god!" laughed Thuvia.

Jav looked bewildered. He scarce knew whether he dare chance
offending Komal or not, for so strong is the power of superstition
that even though we know that we have been reverencing a sham, yet
still we hesitate to admit the validity of our new-found convictions.

"Yes," he said, "this is Komal. For ages the enemies of Tario have
been hurled to this pit to fill his maw, for Komal must be fed."

"Is there any way out of this chamber to the avenues of the city?"
asked Carthoris.

Jav shrugged.

"I do not know," he replied. "Never have I been here before, nor
ever have I cared to do so."

"Come," suggested Thuvia, "let us explore. There must be a way

Together the three approached the doorway through which Komal had
entered the apartment that was to have witnessed their deaths.
Beyond was a low-roofed lair, with a small door at the far end.

This, to their delight, opened to the lifting of an ordinary latch,
letting them into a circular arena, surrounded by tiers of seats.

"Here is where Komal is fed in public," explained Jav. "Had Tario
dared it would have been here that our fates had been sealed; but
he feared too much thy keen blade, red man, and so he hurled us
all downward to the pit. I did not know how closely connected were
the two chambers. Now we may easily reach the avenues and the city
gates. Only the bowmen may dispute the right of way, and, knowing
their secret, I doubt that they have power to harm us."

Another door led to a flight of steps that rose from the arena
level upward through the seats to an exit at the back of the hall.
Beyond this was a straight, broad corridor, running directly through
the palace to the gardens at the side.

No one appeared to question them as they advanced, mighty Komal
pacing by the girl's side.

"Where are the people of the palace--the jeddak's retinue?" asked
Carthoris. "Even in the city streets as we came through I scarce
saw sign of a human being, yet all about are evidences of a mighty

Jav sighed.

"Poor Lothar," he said. "It is indeed a city of ghosts. There are
scarce a thousand of us left, who once were numbered in the millions.
Our great city is peopled by the creatures of our own imaginings.
For our own needs we do not take the trouble to materialize these
peoples of our brain, yet they are apparent to us.

"Even now I see great throngs lining the avenue, hastening to and
fro in the round of their duties. I see women and children laughing
on the balconies--these we are forbidden to materialize; but yet
I see them--they are here. . . . But why not?" he mused. "No
longer need I fear Tario--he has done his worst, and failed. Why
not indeed?

"Stay, friends," he continued. "Would you see Lothar in all her

Carthoris and Thuvia nodded their assent, more out of courtesy than
because they fully grasped the import of his mutterings.

Jav gazed at them penetratingly for an instant, then, with a wave
of his hand, cried: "Look!"

The sight that met them was awe-inspiring. Where before there
had been naught but deserted pavements and scarlet swards, yawning
windows and tenantless doors, now swarmed a countless multitude of
happy, laughing people.

"It is the past," said Jav in a low voice. "They do not see us--they
but live the old dead past of ancient Lothar--the dead and crumbled
Lothar of antiquity, which stood upon the shore of Throxus, mightiest
of the five oceans.

"See those fine, upstanding men swinging along the broad avenue?
See the young girls and the women smile upon them? See the men
greet them with love and respect? Those be seafarers coming up
from their ships which lie at the quays at the city's edge.

"Brave men, they--ah, but the glory of Lothar has faded! See their
weapons. They alone bore arms, for they crossed the five seas to
strange places where dangers were. With their passing passed the
martial spirit of the Lotharians, leaving, as the ages rolled by,
a race of spineless cowards.

"We hated war, and so we trained not our youth in warlike ways.
Thus followed our undoing, for when the seas dried and the green
hordes encroached upon us we could do naught but flee. But we
remembered the seafaring bowmen of the days of our glory--it is
the memory of these which we hurl upon our enemies."

As Jav ceased speaking, the picture faded, and once more, the three
took up their way toward the distant gates, along deserted avenues.

Twice they sighted Lotharians of flesh and blood. At sight of
them and the huge banth which they must have recognized as Komal,
the citizens turned and fled.

"They will carry word of our flight to Tario," cried Jav, "and soon
he will send his bowmen after us. Let us hope that our theory is
correct, and that their shafts are powerless against minds cognizant
of their unreality. Otherwise we are doomed.

"Explain, red man, to the woman the truths that I have explained to
you, that she may meet the arrows with a stronger counter-suggestion
of immunity."

Carthoris did as Jav bid him; but they came to the great gates
without sign of pursuit developing. Here Jav set in motion the
mechanism that rolled the huge, wheel-like gate aside, and a moment
later the three, accompanied by the banth, stepped out into the
plain before Lothar.

Scarce had they covered a hundred yards when the sound of many men
shouting arose behind them. As they turned they saw a company of
bowmen debouching upon the plain from the gate through which they
had but just passed.

Upon the wall above the gate were a number of Lotharians, among whom
Jav recognized Tario. The jeddak stood glaring at them, evidently
concentrating all the forces of his trained mind upon them. That
he was making a supreme effort to render his imaginary creatures
deadly was apparent.

Jav turned white, and commenced to tremble. At the crucial moment
he appeared to lose the courage of his conviction. The great banth
turned back toward the advancing bowmen and growled. Carthoris
placed himself between Thuvia and the enemy and, facing them,
awaited the outcome of their charge.

Suddenly an inspiration came to Carthoris.

"Hurl your own bowmen against Tario's!" he cried to Jav. "Let us
see a materialized battle between two mentalities."

The suggestion seemed to hearten the Lotharian, and in another
moment the three stood behind solid ranks of huge bowmen who hurled
taunts and menaces at the advancing company emerging from the walled

Jav was a new man the moment his battalions stood between him and
Tario. One could almost have sworn the man believed these creatures
of his strange hypnotic power to be real flesh and blood.

With hoarse battle cries they charged the bowmen of Tario. Barbed
shafts flew thick and fast. Men fell, and the ground was red with

Carthoris and Thuvia had difficulty in reconciling the reality of
it all with their knowledge of the truth. They saw utan after utan
march from the gate in perfect step to reinforce the outnumbered
company which Tario had first sent forth to arrest them.

They saw Jav's forces grow correspondingly until all about them
rolled a sea of fighting, cursing warriors, and the dead lay in
heaps about the field.

Jav and Tario seemed to have forgotten all else beside the struggling
bowmen that surged to and fro, filling the broad field between the
forest and the city.

The wood loomed close behind Thuvia and Carthoris. The latter cast
a glance toward Jav.

"Come!" he whispered to the girl. "Let them fight out their empty
battle--neither, evidently, has power to harm the other. They are
like two controversialists hurling words at one another. While they
are engaged we may as well be devoting our energies to an attempt
to find the passage through the cliffs to the plain beyond."

As he spoke, Jav, turning from the battle for an instant, caught
his words. He saw the girl move to accompany the Heliumite. A
cunning look leaped to the Lotharian's eyes.

The thing that lay beyond that look had been deep in his heart
since first he had laid eyes upon Thuvia of Ptarth. He had not
recognized it, however, until now that she seemed about to pass
out of his existence.

He centred his mind upon the Heliumite and the girl for an instant.

Carthoris saw Thuvia of Ptarth step forward with outstretched
hand. He was surprised at this sudden softening toward him, and
it was with a full heart that he let his fingers close upon hers,
as together they turned away from forgotten Lothar, into the woods,
and bent their steps toward the distant mountains.

As the Lotharian had turned toward them, Thuvia had been surprised
to hear Carthoris suddenly voice a new plan.

"Remain here with Jav," she had heard him say, "while I go to search
for the passage through the cliffs."

She had dropped back in surprise and disappointment, for she knew
that there was no reason why she should not have accompanied him.
Certainly she should have been safer with him than left here alone
with the Lotharian.

And Jav watched the two and smiled his cunning smile.

When Carthoris had disappeared within the wood, Thuvia seated
herself apathetically upon the scarlet sward to watch the seemingly
interminable struggles of the bowmen.

The long afternoon dragged its weary way toward darkness, and still
the imaginary legions charged and retreated. The sun was about to
set when Tario commenced to withdraw his troops slowly toward the

His plan for cessation of hostilities through the night evidently
met with Jav's entire approval, for he caused his forces to form
themselves in orderly utans and march just within the edge of
the wood, where they were soon busily engaged in preparing their
evening meal, and spreading down their sleeping silks and furs for
the night.

Thuvia could scarce repress a smile as she noted the scrupulous
care with which Jav's imaginary men attended to each tiny detail
of deportment as truly as if they had been real flesh and blood.

Sentries were posted between the camp and the city. Officers
clanked hither and thither issuing commands and seeing to it that
they were properly carried out.

Thuvia turned toward Jav.

"Why is it," she asked, "that you observe such careful nicety in
the regulation of your creatures when Tario knows quite as well as
you that they are but figments of your brain? Why not permit them
simply to dissolve into thin air until you again require their
futile service?"

"You do not understand them," replied Jav. "While they exist they
are real. I do but call them into being now, and in a way direct
their general actions. But thereafter, until I dissolve them, they
are as actual as you or I. Their officers command them, under my
guidance. I am the general--that is all. And the psychological
effect upon the enemy is far greater than were I to treat them
merely as substanceless vagaries.

"Then, too," continued the Lotharian, "there is always the hope,
which with us is little short of belief, that some day these
materializations will merge into the real--that they will remain,
some of them, after we have dissolved their fellows, and that thus
we shall have discovered a means for perpetuating our dying race.

"Some there are who claim already to have accomplished the thing.
It is generally supposed that the etherealists have quite a few
among their number who are permanent materializations. It is even
said that such is Tario, but that cannot be, for he existed before
we had discovered the full possibilities of suggestion.

"There are others among us who insist that none of us is real. That
we could not have existed all these ages without material food and
water had we ourselves been material. Although I am a realist, I
rather incline toward this belief myself.

"It seems well and sensibly based upon the belief that our ancient
forbears developed before their extinction such wondrous mentalities
that some of the stronger minds among them lived after the death
of their bodies--that we are but the deathless minds of individuals
long dead.

"It would appear possible, and yet in so far as I am concerned I
have all the attributes of corporeal existence. I eat, I sleep"--he
paused, casting a meaning look upon the girl--"I love!"

Thuvia could not mistake the palpable meaning of his words and
expression. She turned away with a little shrug of disgust that
was not lost upon the Lotharian.

He came close to her and seized her arm.

"Why not Jav?" he cried. "Who more honourable than the second of
the world's most ancient race? Your Heliumite? He has gone. He
has deserted you to your fate to save himself. Come, be Jav's!"

Thuvia of Ptarth rose to her full height, her lifted shoulder turned
toward the man, her haughty chin upraised, a scornful twist to her

"You lie!" she said quietly, "the Heliumite knows less of disloyalty
than he knows of fear, and of fear he is as ignorant as the unhatched

"Then where is he?" taunted the Lotharian. "I tell you he has fled
the valley. He has left you to your fate. But Jav will see that
it is a pleasant one. To-morrow we shall return into Lothar at the
head of my victorious army, and I shall be jeddak and you shall be
my consort. Come!" And he attempted to crush her to his breast.

The girl struggled to free herself, striking at the man with her
metal armlets. Yet still he drew her toward him, until both were
suddenly startled by a hideous growl that rumbled from the dark
wood close behind them.



As Carthoris moved through the forest toward the distant cliffs
with Thuvia's hand still tight pressed in his, he wondered a little
at the girl's continued silence, yet the contact of her cool palm
against his was so pleasant that he feared to break the spell of
her new-found reliance in him by speaking.

Onward through the dim wood they passed until the shadows of the
quick coming Martian night commenced to close down upon them. Then
it was that Carthoris turned to speak to the girl at his side.

They must plan together for the future. It was his idea to pass
through the cliffs at once if they could locate the passage, and
he was quite positive that they were now close to it; but he wanted
her assent to the proposition.

As his eyes rested upon her, he was struck by her strangely ethereal
appearance. She seemed suddenly to have dissolved into the tenuous
substance of a dream, and as he continued to gaze upon her, she
faded slowly from his sight.

For an instant he was dumbfounded, and then the whole truth flashed
suddenly upon him. Jav had caused him to believe that Thuvia was
accompanying him through the wood while, as a matter of fact, he
had detained the girl for himself!

Carthoris was horrified. He cursed himself for his stupidity, and
yet he knew that the fiendish power which the Lotharian had invoked
to confuse him might have deceived any.

Scarce had he realized the truth than he had started to retrace
his steps toward Lothar, but now he moved at a trot, the Earthly
thews that he had inherited from his father carrying him swiftly
over the soft carpet of fallen leaves and rank grass.

Thuria's brilliant light flooded the plain before the walled city
of Lothar as Carthoris broke from the wood opposite the great gate
that had given the fugitives egress from the city earlier in the

At first he saw no indication that there was another than himself
anywhere about. The plain was deserted. No myriad bowmen camped
now beneath the overhanging verdure of the giant trees. No gory
heaps of tortured dead defaced the beauty of the scarlet sward.
All was silence. All was peace.

The Heliumite, scarce pausing at the forest's verge, pushed
on across the plain toward the city, when presently he descried a
huddled form in the grass at his feet.

It was the body of a man, lying prone. Carthoris turned the figure
over upon its back. It was Jav, but torn and mangled almost beyond

The prince bent low to note if any spark of life remained, and as
he did so the lids raised and dull, suffering eyes looked up into

"The Princess of Ptarth!" cried Carthoris. "Where is she? Answer
me, man, or I complete the work that another has so well begun."

"Komal," muttered Jav. "He sprang upon me . . . and would have
devoured me but for the girl. Then they went away together into
the wood--the girl and the great banth . . . her fingers twined in
his tawny mane."

"Which way went they?" asked Carthoris.

"There," replied Jav faintly, "toward the passage through the

The Prince of Helium waited to hear no more, but springing to his
feet, raced back again into the forest.

It was dawn when he reached the mouth of the dark tunnel that would
lead him to the other world beyond this valley of ghostly memories
and strange hypnotic influences and menaces.

Within the long, dark passages he met with no accident or obstacle,
coming at last into the light of day beyond the mountains, and
no great distance from the southern verge of the domains of the
Torquasians, not more than one hundred and fifty haad at the most.

From the boundary of Torquas to the city of Aaanthor is a distance
of some two hundred haads, so that the Heliumite had before him a
journey of more than one hundred and fifty Earth miles between him
and Aaanthor.

He could at best but hazard a chance guess that toward Aaanthor
Thuvia would take her flight. There lay the nearest water, and
there might be expected some day a rescuing party from her father's
empire; for Carthoris knew Thuvan Dihn well enough to know that he
would leave no stone unturned until he had tracked down the truth
as to his daughter's abduction, and learned all that there might
be to learn of her 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 the spoor in the resilient ochre vegetation,
he was suddenly surprised to see a naked man approaching him from
the north-east.

As the fellow drew closer, Carthoris halted to await his coming.
He knew that the man was unarmed, and that he was apparently a
Lotharian, for his skin was white and his hair auburn.

He approached the Heliumite without sign of fear, and when quite
close called out the cheery Barsoomian "kaor" of greeting.

"Who are you?" asked Carthoris.

"I am Kar Komak, odwar of the bowmen," replied the other. "A
strange thing has happened to me. For ages Tario has been bringing
me into existence as he needed the services of the army of his
mind. Of all the bowmen it has been Kar Komak who has been oftenest

"For a long time Tario has been concentrating his mind upon my
permanent materialization. It has been an obsession with him that
some day this thing could be accomplished and the future of Lothar
assured. He asserted that matter was nonexistent except in the
imagination of man--that all was mental, and so he believed that
by persisting in his suggestion he could eventually make of me a
permanent suggestion in the minds of all creatures.

"Yesterday he succeeded, but at such a time! It must have come all
unknown to him, as it came to me without my knowledge, as, with my
horde of yelling bowmen, I pursued the fleeing Torquasians back to
their ochre plains.

"As darkness settled and the time came for us to fade once more
into thin air, I suddenly found myself alone upon the edge of the
great plain which lies yonder at the foot of the low hills.

"My men were gone back to the nothingness from which they had
sprung, but I remained--naked and unarmed.

"At first I could not understand, but at last came a realization of
what had occurred. Tario's long suggestions had at last prevailed,
and Kar Komak had become a reality in the world of men; but my
harness and my weapons had faded away with my fellows, leaving me
naked and unarmed in a hostile country far from Lothar."

"You wish to return to Lothar?" asked Carthoris.

"No!" replied Kar Komak quickly. "I have no love for Tario. Being
a creature of his mind, I know him too well. He is cruel and
tyrannical--a master I have no desire to serve. Now that he has
succeeded in accomplishing my permanent materialization, he will
be unbearable, and he will go on until he has filled Lothar with
his creatures. I wonder if he has succeeded as well with the maid
of Lothar."

"I thought there were no women there," said Carthoris.

"In a hidden apartment in the palace of Tario," replied Kar Komak,
"the jeddak has maintained the suggestion of a beautiful girl, hoping
that some day she would become permanent. I have seen her there.
She is wonderful! But for her sake I hope that Tario succeeds not
so well with her as he has with me.

"Now, red man, I have told you of myself--what of you?"

Carthoris liked the face and manner of the bowman. There had been
no sign of doubt or fear in his expression as he had approached
the heavily-armed Heliumite, and he had spoken directly and to the

So the Prince of Helium told the bowman of Lothar who he was and
what adventure had brought him to this far country.

"Good!" exclaimed the other, when he had done. "Kar Komak will
accompany you. Together we shall find the Princess of Ptarth and
with you Kar Komak will return to the world of men--such a world
as he knew in the long-gone past when the ships of mighty Lothar
ploughed angry Throxus, and the roaring surf beat against the
barrier of these parched and dreary hills."

"What mean you?" asked Carthoris. "Had you really a former actual

"Most assuredly," replied Kar Komak. "In my day I commanded the
fleets of Lothar--mightiest of all the fleets that sailed the five
salt seas.

"Wherever men lived upon Barsoom there was the name of Kar Komak
known and respected. Peaceful were the land races in those distant
days--only the seafarers were warriors; but now has the glory of
the past faded, nor did I think until I met you that there remained
upon Barsoom a single person of our own mould who lived and loved
and fought as did the ancient seafarers of my time.

"Ah, but it will seem good to see men once again--real men! Never
had I much respect for the landsmen of my day. They remained in
their walled cities wasting their time in play, depending for their
protection entirely upon the sea race. And the poor creatures who
remain, the Tarios and Javs of Lothar, are even worse than their
ancient forbears."

Carthoris was a trifle skeptical as to the wisdom of permitting
the stranger to attach himself to him. There was always the chance
that he was but the essence of some hypnotic treachery which Tario
or Jav was attempting to exert upon the Heliumite; and yet, so
sincere had been the manner and the words of the bowman, so much
the fighting man did he seem, but Carthoris could not find it in
his heart to doubt him.

The outcome of the matter was that he gave the naked odwar leave to
accompany him, and together they set out upon the spoor of Thuvia

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