The Land of the Changing Sun HTML version

Chapter 14
When Tradmos spoke the words of warning, Thorndyke put his arm round the princess
and drew her after Tradmos, who was hastening away in the gloom.
"Wait," she said, drawing back. "Let us not get excited. We are really as safe here as
there; for in their madness they will kill one another and trample them under foot." She
led him to a parapet overlooking the great court below. "Hear them," she said, in pity,
"listen to their blows and cries. That was a woman's voice, and some man must have
struck her."
"Tell me what is best to do," said the Englishman. "I want to protect you, but I am
helpless; I don't know which way to turn."
"Wait," she said simply, and the Englishman thought she drew closer to him, as if
touched by his words.
There was a crash of timbers--a massive door had fallen--a scrambling of feet on the
stone pavement, and they could see the dark human mass surging into the court through
the corridors leading from the streets.
"What are they doing?" asked Thorn dyke.
She shrank from the parapet as if she had been struck.
"Tearing the pillars down," she replied aghast; "this part of the palace will fall. Oh, what
can be done!"
There was a grinding of stone upon stone, a mad yell from an hundred throats, the crash
of glass, and, with a thunderous sound, a colossal pillar fell to the earth. The roof beneath
the feet of the princess and Thorndyke trembled and sagged, and the tiling split and
showered about them.
Raising Bernardino in his arms, as if she were an infant, Thorndyke sprang toward the
stairway leading to his chambers, but the roof had sunken till it was steep and slippery.
One instant he was toppling over backward, the next, by a mighty effort, he had
recovered his equilibrium, and finally managed to reach a safer place. As he hurried on
another pillar went down. The roof sagged lower, and an avalanche of mortar and tiling
slid into the court below. Yells, groans, and cries of fury rent the air.
Bernardino had fainted. Thorndyke tried to restore her to consciousness, but dared not put
her from him for an instant. On he ran, and presently reached a flight of stairs which he
thought led to his chambers. He descended them, and was hastening along a narrow
corridor on the floor beneath when Bernardino opened her eyes. She asked to be released
from his arms. He put her down, but supported her along the corridor.