The temptation to enter was too great. I wished to explore the interior of this one remaining monument of civilization now dead beyond recall. Through this same portal, within these very marble halls, had Gray and Chamberlin and Kitchener and Shaw, perhaps, come and gone with the other great ones of the past. real strap on
I took Victory's hand in mine.
"Come!" I said. "I do not know the name by which this great pile was known, nor the purposes it fulfilled. It may have been the palace of your sires, Victory. From some great throne within, your forebears may have directed the destinies of half the world. Come!"
I must confess to a feeling of awe as we entered the rotunda of the great building. Pieces of massive furniture of another day still stood where man had placed them centuries ago. They were littered with dust and broken stone and plaster, but, otherwise, so perfect was their preservation I could hardly believe that two centuries had rolled by since human eyes were last set upon them.
Through one great room after another we wandered, hand in hand, while Victory asked many questions and for the first time I began to realize something of the magnificence and power of the race from whose loins she had sprung.
Splendid tapestries, now mildewed and rotting, hung upon the walls. There were mural paintings, too, depicting great historic events of the past. For the first time Victory saw the likeness of a horse, and she was much affected by a huge oil which depicted some ancient cavalry charge against a battery of field guns.
In other pictures there were steamships, battleships, submarines, and quaint looking railway trains--all small and antiquated in appearance to me, but wonderful to Victory. She told me that she would like to remain for the rest of her life where she could look at those pictures daily.
From room to room we passed until presently we emerged into a mighty chamber, dark and gloomy, for its high and narrow windows were choked and clogged by ivy. Along one paneled wall we groped, our eyes slowly becoming accustomed to the darkness. A rank and pungent odor pervaded the atmosphere.
We had made our way about half the distance across one end of the great apartment when a low growl from the far end brought us to a startled halt.
Straining my eyes through the gloom, I made out a raised dais at the extreme opposite end of the hall. Upon the dais stood two great chairs, highbacked and with great arms.