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10. CHAPTER X : KAR KOMAK, THE BOWMAN (continued)
As Thuvia saw Carthoris approaching, she felt again that unaccountable sensation of entire relief from responsibility and fear that she had experienced upon a former occasion. Nor could she account for it while her mind still tried to convince her heart that the Prince of Helium had been instrumental in her abduction from her father's court. She only knew that she was glad when he was by her side, and that with him there all things seemed possible--even such impossible things as escape from her present predicament.
Now had he stopped, panting, before her. A brave smile of encouragement lit his face.
"Courage, my princess," he whispered.
To the girl's memory flashed the occasion upon which he had used those same words--in the throne-room of Tario of Lothar as they had commenced to slip down the sinking marble floor toward an unknown fate.
Then she had not chidden him for the use of that familiar salutation, nor did she chide him now, though she was promised to another. She wondered at herself--flushing at her own turpitude; for upon Barsoom it is a shameful thing for a woman to listen to those two words from another than her husband or her betrothed.
Carthoris saw her flush of mortification, and in an instant regretted his words. There was but a moment before the green warriors would be upon them.
"Forgive me!" said the man in a low voice. "Let my great love be my excuse--that, and the belief that I have but a moment more of life," and with the words he turned to meet the foremost of the green warriors.
The fellow was charging with couched spear, but Carthoris leaped to one side, and as the great thoat and its rider hurtled harmlessly past him he swung his long-sword in a mighty cut that clove the green carcass in twain.
At the same moment Kar Komak leaped with bare hands clawing at the leg of another of the huge riders; the balance of the horde raced in to close quarters, dismounting the better to wield their favourite long-swords; the Dusarian fliers touched the soft carpet of the ochre-clad sea-bottom, disgorging fifty fighting men from their bowels; and into the swirling sea of cutting, slashing swords sprang Komal, the great banth.
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