The Monster Men

By Edgar Rice Burroughs

Page 120

unhappy in the life
that he had been mapping for them. He was silent--thinking. In his
breast a riot of conflicting emotions were waging the first great
battle which was to point the trend of the man's character--would the
selfish and the base prevail, or would the noble?

With the thought of losing her his desire for her companionship became
almost a mania. To return her to her father and von Horn would be to
lose her--of that there could be no doubt, for they would not leave her
long in ignorance of his origin. Then, in addition to being deprived
of her forever, he must suffer the galling mortification of her scorn.

It was a great deal to ask of a fledgling morality that was yet
scarcely cognizant of its untried wings; but even as the man wavered
between right and wrong there crept into his mind the one great and
burning question of his life--had he a soul? And he knew that upon his
decision of the fate of Virginia Maxon rested to some extent the true
answer to that question, for, unconsciously, he had worked out his own
crude soul hypothesis which imparted to this invisible entity the power
to direct his actions only for good. Therefore he reasoned that
wickedness presupposed a small and worthless soul, or the entire lack
of one.

That she would hate a soulless creature he accepted as a foregone
conclusion. He desired her respect, and that fact helped him to his
final decision, but the thing that decided him was born of the truly
chivalrous nature he possessed--he wanted Virginia Maxon to be happy;
it mattered not at what cost to him.

The girl had been watching him closely as he stood silently thinking
after her last words. She did not know the struggle that the calm face
hid; yet she felt that the dragging moments were big with the question
of her fate.

"Well?" she said at length.

"We must eat first," he replied in a matter-of-fact tone, and not at
all as though he was about to renounce his life's happiness, "and then
we shall set out in search of your father. I shall take you to him,
Virginia, if man can find him."

"I knew that you could," she said, simply, "but how my father and I
ever can repay you I do not know--do you?"

"Yes," said Bulan, and there was a sudden rush of fire to his eyes that
kept Virginia Maxon from urging a detailed explanation of just how she
might repay him.

In truth

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