The Lost Continent

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 37

you if Buckingham gets his hands on you. He is a bad
man. He wishes to have me for his woman so that he may be king. He
would kill anyone who befriended me, for fear that I might become
another's."

"Didn't you say that Buckingham is already the king?" I asked.

"He is. He took my mother for his woman after he had killed Wettin.
But my mother will die soon--she is very old--and then the man to whom
I belong will become king."

Finally, after much questioning, I got the thing through my head. It
appears that the line of descent is through the women. A man is merely
head of his wife's family--that is all. If she chances to be the
oldest female member of the "royal" house, he is king. Very naively
the girl explained that there was seldom any doubt as to whom a child's
mother was.

This accounted for the girl's importance in the community and for
Buckingham's anxiety to claim her, though she told me that she did not
wish to become his woman, for he was a bad man and would make a bad
king. But he was powerful, and there was no other man who dared
dispute his wishes.

"Why not come with me," I suggested, "if you do not wish to become
Buckingham's?"

"Where would you take me?" she asked.

Where, indeed! I had not thought of that. But before I could reply to
her question she shook her head and said, "No, I cannot leave my
people. I must stay and do my best, even if Buckingham gets me, but
you must go at once. Do not wait until it is too late. The lions have
had no offering for a long time, and Buckingham would seize upon the
first stranger as a gift to them."

I did not perfectly understand what she meant, and was about to ask her
when a heavy body leaped upon me from behind, and great arms encircled
my neck. I struggled to free myself and turn upon my antagonist, but
in another instant I was overwhelmed by a half dozen powerful,
half-naked men, while a score of others surrounded me, a couple of whom
seized the girl.

I fought as best I could for my liberty and for hers, but the weight of
numbers was too great, though I had the satisfaction at least of giving
them a good fight.

When they had overpowered me, and I stood, my hands bound behind me, at
the girl's

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