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The Monster Men

Chapter 15. Too Late
For a moment the two stood in silence; Bulan tortured by thoughts of the bitter
humiliation that he must suffer when the girl should learn his identity; Virginia
wondering at the sad lines that had come into the young man's face, and at his silence.
It was the girl who first spoke. "Who are you," she asked, "to whom I owe my safety?"
The man hesitated. To speak aught than the truth had never occurred to him during his
brief existence. He scarcely knew how to lie. To him a question demanded but one
manner of reply--the facts. But never before had he had to face a question where so much
depended upon his answer. He tried to form the bitter, galling words; but a vision of that
lovely face suddenly transformed with horror and disgust throttled the name in his throat.
"I am Bulan," he said, at last, quietly.
"Bulan," repeated the girl. "Bulan. Why that is a native name. You are either an
Englishman or an American. What is your true name?"
"My name is Bulan," he insisted doggedly.
Virginia Maxon thought that he must have some good reason of his own for wishing to
conceal his identity. At first she wondered if he could be a fugitive from justice--the
perpetrator of some horrid crime, who dared not divulge his true name even in the remote
fastness of a Bornean wilderness; but a glance at his frank and noble countenance drove
every vestige of the traitorous thought from her mind. Her woman's intuition was
sufficient guarantee of the nobility of his character.
"Then let me thank you, Mr. Bulan," she said, "for the service that you have rendered a
strange and helpless woman."
He smiled.
"Just Bulan," he said. "There is no need for Miss or Mister in the savage jungle,
Virginia."
The girl flushed at the sudden and unexpected use of her given name, and was surprised
that she was not offended.
"How do you know my name?" she asked.
Bulan saw that he would get into deep water if he attempted to explain too much, and, as
is ever the way, discovered that one deception had led him into another; so he determined
to forestall future embarrassing queries by concocting a story immediately to explain his
presence and his knowledge.
 
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