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.
It seemed ages that I stood in the shadow of that doorway, in the ill-lit corridor of the palace of Menelek XIV. A sickly gas jet cast a sad pallor upon the black face of the sentry. The fellow seemed rooted to the spot. Evidently he would never leave, or turn his back again.
I had been in hiding but a short time when I heard the sound of distant cannon. The truce had ended, and the battle had been resumed. Very shortly thereafter the earth shook to the explosion of a shell within the city, and from time to time thereafter other shells burst at no great distance from the palace. The yellow men were bombarding New Gondar again. medium butt plug
Presently officers and slaves commenced to traverse the corridor on matters pertaining to their duties, and then came the emperor, scowling and wrathful. He was followed by a few personal attendants, whom he dismissed at the doorway to his apartments--the same doorway through which Victory had been taken. I chafed to follow him, but the corridor was filled with people. At last they betook themselves to their own apartments, which lay upon either side of the corridor.
An officer and a slave entered the very room in which I hid, forcing me to flatten myself to one side in the darkness until they had passed. Then the slave made a light, and I knew that I must find another hiding place.
Stepping boldly into the corridor, I saw that it was now empty save for the single sentry before the emperor's door. He glanced up as I emerged from the room, the occupants of which had not seen me. I walked straight toward the soldier, my mind made up in an instant. I tried to simulate an expression of cringing servility, and I must have succeeded, for I entirely threw the man off his guard, so that he permitted me to approach within reach of his rifle before stopping me. Then it was too late--for him.
Without a word or a warning, I snatched the piece from his grasp, and, at the same time struck him a terrific blow between the eyes with my clenched fist. He staggered back in surprise, too dumbfounded even to cry out, and then I clubbed his rifle and felled him with a single mighty blow.