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The Lost Continent Edgar Rice Burroughs

Chapter 4

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"There is no such place near by," she said. "Only the Camp of the Lions has places of stone where the beasts lair, but there are no people in the Camp of the Lions. Who would dare go there!" And she shuddered.

"The Camp of the Lions," I repeated. "And where is that, and what?"

"It is there," she said, pointing up the river toward the west. "I have seen it from a great distance, but I have never been there. We are much afraid of the lions, for this is their country, and they are angry that man has come to live here.

"Far away there," and she pointed toward the south-west, "is the land of tigers, which is even worse than this, the land of the lions, for the tigers are more numerous than the lions and hungrier for human flesh. There were tigers here long ago, but both the lions and the men set upon them and drove them off."

"Where did these savage beasts come from?" I asked.

"Oh," she replied, "they have been here always. It is their country."

"Do they not kill and eat your people?" I asked.

"Often, when we meet them by accident, and we are too few to slay them, or when one goes too close to their camp. But seldom do they hunt us, for they find what food they need among the deer and wild cattle, and, too, we make them gifts, for are we not intruders in their country? Really we live upon good terms with them, though I should not care to meet one were there not many spears in my party."

"I should like to visit this Camp of the Lions," I said.

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"Oh, no, you must not!" cried the girl. "That would be terrible. They would eat you." For a moment, then, she seemed lost in thought, but presently she turned upon me with: "You must go now, for any minute Buckingham may come in search of me. Long since should they have learned that I am gone from the camp--they watch over me very closely--and they will set out after me. Go! I shall wait here until they come in search of me."

"No," I told her. "I'll not leave you alone in a land infested by lions and other wild beasts. If you won't let me go as far as your camp with you, then I'll wait here until they come in search of you."

"Please go!" she begged. "You have saved me, and I would save you, but nothing will save you if Buckingham gets his hands on you. He is a bad man. He wishes to have me for his woman so that he may be king. He would kill anyone who befriended me, for fear that I might become another's."

"Didn't you say that Buckingham is already the king?" I asked.

"He is. He took my mother for his woman after he had killed Wettin. But my mother will die soon--she is very old--and then the man to whom I belong will become king."

Finally, after much questioning, I got the thing through my head. It appears that the line of descent is through the women. A man is merely head of his wife's family--that is all. If she chances to be the oldest female member of the "royal" house, he is king. Very naively the girl explained that there was seldom any doubt as to whom a child's mother was.

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The Lost Continent
Edgar Rice Burroughs

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