The Hawk of Egypt eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 231 pages of information about The Hawk of Egypt.

From some dark corner a shape came running, ambling like some gigantic ape, maintaining an upright position by means of an occasional thrust at the ground with the knuckles of the left hand.  The small eyes in his large head blinked craftily at the beautiful woman—­its own mate being well-nigh as simian as itself—­; it shuffled on its huge feet and pulled at its gaudy raiment with abnormally long fingers.  The monstrosity had been nicknamed “Bes,” after the monstrous dwarf god of Ancient Egypt, by someone—­the nationality of whom is of no account—­who had balanced the ardour of his studies with hours of leisure in the bazaar.  The beasts, aroused doubtlessly by the scent of the thing which brought them meat, roared and flung themselves against the bars of the cage.

They were half-starved.

Unlike most of her class, Zulannah was mean.  She was a niggard in things which did not concern herself.

So that, to feed his numerous progeny of repulsive simian shape, the keeper of the cages starved the beasts.  Not that Zulannah cared one iota for their hunger or suffering; it made them fight the merrier for a bit of meat.

And she sat in her ebony chair close to the bars, with a brazier beside her, and laughed delightedly as the liberated lion flung itself at the cages in which roared its wretched brethren.

And then the great beast stopped suddenly in the middle of the den, growling softly, snuffing the air.  Then, with heartrending roar hurled itself straight at the bars behind which she sat.

Was she afraid?  Not one bit.  She was behind the bars.  She laughed aloud and clapped her hands, standing just out of reach of the paw which tried to reach her.

Back across the sand rushed the animal, and then with all its might crashed against the barrier.

A look of horror swept the woman’s face—­the middle bar had bent.  She sensed her danger, but kept her nerve.  Without hesitating, she turned to the brazier at her side, carefully selected a handle well wrapped about, and, turning again swiftly, thrust the red-hot point down the lion’s maw.

’Twere best not to describe the rest of the awful scene in which a woman safe behind bars clapped her hands over the pain she had caused.

But is it surprising that Zulannah’s enemies were legion?

CHAPTER X

The wind that sighs before the dawn Chases the gloom of night; The curtains of the East are drawn And suddenly—­’tis light.”

          SIR LEWIS MORRIS.

The desert stretched before Damaris.

As a lover, clad in golden raiment, in quick pursuit of his love with dusky hair and starry eyes across a field of purple iris, Day flinging wide his arms leaped clear of the horizon which lies like a string across the sandy wastes.  Gathering her draperies, hiding her starry jewels in misty scarves, Night fled in seeming fear, leaving behind her a trail of sweet-scented, silver-embroidered purple, grey and saffron garments, which melted in the warmth of love.

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Project Gutenberg
The Hawk of Egypt from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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