The Lost Continent

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 79

to the floor. Then came the official's
voice again, in sharp and peremptory command.

"Down, slave!" he cried. "Make obeisance to your sovereign!"

I looked up, attracted by the tone of the man's voice, to see a single,
straight, slim figure standing erect in the center of the line of
prostrate girls, her arms folded across her breast and little chin in
the air. Her back was toward me--I could not see her face, though I
should like to see the countenance of this savage young lioness,
standing there defiant among that herd of terrified sheep.

"Down! Down!" shouted the master of ceremonies, taking a step toward
her and half drawing his sword.

My blood boiled. To stand there, inactive, while a negro struck down
that brave girl of my own race! Instinctively I took a forward step to
place myself in the man's path. But at the same instant Menelek raised
his hand in a gesture that halted the officer. The emperor seemed
interested, but in no way angered at the girl's attitude.

"Let us inquire," he said in a smooth, pleasant voice, "why this young
woman refuses to do homage to her sovereign," and he put the question
himself directly to her.

She answered him in Abyssinian, but brokenly and with an accent that
betrayed how recently she had acquired her slight knowledge of the
tongue.

"I go on my knees to no one," she said. "I have no sovereign. I
myself am sovereign in my own country."

Menelek, at her words, leaned back in his throne and laughed
uproariously. Following his example, which seemed always the correct
procedure, the assembled guests vied with one another in an effort to
laugh more noisily than the emperor.

The girl but tilted her chin a bit higher in the air--even her back
proclaimed her utter contempt for her captors. Finally Menelek
restored quiet by the simple expedient of a frown, whereupon each loyal
guest exchanged his mirthful mien for an emulative scowl.

"And who," asked Menelek, "are you, and by what name is your country
called?"

"I am Victory, Queen of Grabritin," replied the girl so quickly and so
unexpectedly that I gasped in astonishment.



9


Victory! She was here, a slave to these black conquerors. Once more I
started toward her, but better judgment held me back--I could do
nothing to help her other than by stealth. Could I even accomplish
aught by this means? I did not know. It seemed beyond the pale of
possibility, and yet I should try.

"And you will

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