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Chapter 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 not bend the knee to me?" continued Menelek, after she had spoken.
Victory shook her head in a most decided negation.
"You shall be my first choice, then," said the emperor. "I like your spirit, for the breaking
of it will add to my pleasure in you, and never fear but that it shall be broken-- this very
night. Take her to my apartments," and he motioned to an officer at his side
I was surprised to see Victory follow the man off in apparent quiet submission. I tried to
follow, that I might be near her against some opportunity to speak with her or assist in her
escape. But, after I had followed them from the throne room, through several other
apartments, and down a long corridor, I found my further progress barred by a soldier
who stood guard before a doorway through which the officer conducted Victory.
Almost immediately the officer reappeared and started back in the direction of the throne
room. I had been hiding in a doorway after the guard had turned me back, having taken
refuge there while his back was turned, and, as the officer approached me, I withdrew
into the room beyond, which was in darkness. There I remained for a long time, watching
the sentry before the door of the room in which Victory was a prisoner, and awaiting
some favorable circumstance which would give me entry to her.
I have not attempted to fully describe my sensations at the moment I recognized Victory,
because, I can assure you, they were entirely indescribable. I should never have imagined
that the sight of any human being could affect me as had this unexpected discovery of
Victory in the same room in which I was, while I had thought of her for weeks either as
dead, or at best hundreds of miles to the west, and as irretrievably lost to me as though
she were, in truth, dead.
I was filled with a strange, mad impulse to be near her. It was not enough merely to assist
her, or protect her--I desired to touch her--to take her in my arms. I was astounded at
myself. Another thing puzzled me--it was my incomprehensible feeling of elation since I
had again seen her. With a fate worse than death staring her in the face, and with the
knowledge that I should probably die defending her within the hour, I was still happier
than I had been for weeks--and all because I had seen again for a few brief minutes the
figure of a little heathen maiden. I couldn't account for it, and it angered me; I had never
before felt any such sensations in the presence of a woman, and I had made love to some
very beautiful ones in my time.