The Lost Continent

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 83

a second. There was a rending
crash above us, then a deafening explosion within the chamber. Smoke
and powder fumes filled the room. Half stunned, I rose from the
lifeless body of my antagonist just in time to see Victory stagger to
her feet and turn toward me. Slowly the smoke cleared to reveal the
shattered remnants of the guard. A shell had fallen through the palace
roof and exploded just in the rear of the detachment of guardsmen who
were coming to the rescue of their emperor. Why neither Victory nor I
were struck is a miracle. The room was a wreck. A great, jagged hole
was torn in the ceiling, and the wall toward the corridor had been
blown entirely out.

As I rose, Victory had risen, too, and started toward me. But when she
saw that I was uninjured she stopped, and stood there in the center of
the demolished apartment looking at me. Her expression was
inscrutable--I could not guess whether she was glad to see me, or not.

"Victory!" I cried. "Thank God that you are safe!" And I approached
her, a greater gladness in my heart than I had felt since the moment
that I knew the Coldwater must be swept beyond thirty.

There was no answering gladness in her eyes. Instead, she stamped her
little foot in anger.

"Why did it have to be you who saved me!" she exclaimed. "I hate you!"

"Hate me?" I asked. "Why should you hate me, Victory? I do not hate
you. I--I--" What was I about to say? I was very close to her as a
great light broke over me. Why had I never realized it before? The
truth accounted for a great many hitherto inexplicable moods that had
claimed me from time to time since first I had seen Victory.

"Why should I hate you?" she repeated. "Because Snider told me--he
told me that you had promised me to him, but he did not get me. I
killed him, as I should like to kill you!"

"Snider lied!" I cried. And then I seized her and held her in my arms,
and made her listen to me, though she struggled and fought like a young
lioness. "I love you, Victory. You must know that I love you--that I
have always loved you, and that I never could have made so base a
promise."

She ceased her struggles, just a trifle, but still tried

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