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14. CHAPTER XIV : KULAN TITH'S SACRIFICE (continued)
"With Kar Komak, the bowman," he replied. "There will be fighting and forgetfulness."
The girl put her hands before her eyes, as though to shut out some mighty temptation from her sight.
"May my ancestors have mercy upon me," she cried, "if I say the thing I have no right to say; but I cannot see you cast your life away, Carthoris, Prince of Helium! Stay, my chieftain. Stay--I love you!"
A cough behind them brought both about, and there they saw standing, not two paces from them Kulan Tith, Jeddak of Kaol.
For a long moment none spoke. Then Kulan Tith cleared his throat.
"I could not help hearing all that passed," he said. "I am no fool, to be blind to the love that lies between you. Nor am I blind to the lofty honour that has caused you, Carthoris, to risk your life and hers to save mine, though you thought that that very act would rob you of the chance to keep her for your own.
"Nor can I fail to appreciate the virtue that has kept your lips sealed against words of love for this Heliumite, Thuvia, for I know that I have but just heard the first declaration of your passion for him. I do not condemn you. Rather should I have condemned you had you entered a loveless marriage with me.
"Take back your liberty, Thuvia of Ptarth," he cried, "and bestow it where your heart already lies enchained, and when the golden collars are clasped about your necks you will see that Kulan Tith's is the first sword to be raised in declaration of eternal friendship for the new Princess of Helium and her royal mate!"
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