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Title:ZiskaTheProblemofaWickedSoul
Author:MarieCorelli

ReleaseDate:February,2004[EBook#5079][Yes,wearemorethanoneyear
aheadofschedule][ThisfilewasfirstpostedonApril17,2002]
Edition:10
Language:English
Charactersetencoding:ASCII


***STARTOFTHEPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKZISKA***

ProducedbyCharlesFranksandtheOnlineDistributedProofreadingTeam.



ZISKA
THEPROBLEMOFAWICKEDSOULBYMARIECORELLI

OtherBooksbythesameAuthor
THESORROWSOFSATANBARABBASAROMANCEOFTWOWORLDS
THEMIGHTYATOM,ETC.,ETC.

TOTHEPRESENTLIVINGREINCARNATIONOFARAXES

ZISKA.
THEPROBLEMOFAWICKEDSOUL.

PROLOGUE.

DarkagainsttheskytoweredtheGreatPyramid,andoveritsapexhungthe
moon.Likeawreckcastashorebysometitanicstorm,theSphinx,reposing
amidtheundulatingwavesofgrayishsandsurroundingit,seemedforonceto
drowse.Itssolemnvisagethathadimpassivelywatchedagescomeandgo,
empiresriseandfall,andgenerationsofmenliveanddie,appearedforthe
momenttohavelostitsusualexpressionofspeculativewisdomandintense
disdain—itscoldeyesseemedtodroop,itssternmouthalmostsmiled.Theair
wascalmandsultry;andnotahumanfootdisturbedthesilence.Buttowards
midnightaVoicesuddenlyaroseasitwerelikeawindinthedesert,crying
aloud:“Araxes!Araxes!”andwailingpast,sankwithaprofoundechointothe
deeprecessesofthevastEgyptiantomb.MoonlightandtheHourwovetheir
ownmystery;themysteryofaShadowandaShapethatflittedoutlikeathin



vaporfromtheveryportalsofDeath’sancienttemple,anddriftingforwardafew
pacesresolveditselfintothevisionaryfairnessofaWoman’sform—aWoman
whosedarkhairfellaboutherheavily,liketheblackremnantsofalong-buried
corpse’swrappings;aWomanwhoseeyesflashedwithanunholyfireasshe
liftedherfacetothewhitemoonandwavedherghostlyarmsupontheair.And
againthewildVoicepulsatedthroughthestillness.
“Araxes!…Araxes!Thouarthere,—andIpursuethee!Throughlifeinto
death;throughdeathoutintolifeagain!IfindtheeandIfollow!Ifollow!
Araxes!…”
MoonlightandtheHourwovetheirownmystery;anderethepaleopaldawn
flushedtheskywithhuesofroseandambertheShadowhadvanished;theVoice
washeardnomore.Slowlythesunliftedtheedgeofitsgoldenshieldabovethe
horizon,andthegreatSphinxawakingfromitsapparentbriefslumber,staredin
expressiveandeternalscornacrossthetractsofsandandtuftedpalm-trees
towardstheglitteringdomeofEl-Hazar—thatabodeofprofoundsanctityand
learning,wheremenstillkneltandworshipped,prayingtheUnknowntodeliver
themfromtheUnseen.Andonewouldalmosthavedeemedthatthesculptured
MonsterwiththeenigmaticalWoman-faceandLion-formhadstrangethoughts
initshugegranitebrain;forwhenthefulldaysprangingloryoverthedesert
andillumineditslargefeatureswithaburningsaffronradiance,itscruellipsstill
smiledasthoughyearningtospeakandpropoundtheterribleriddleofoldtime;
theProblemwhichkilled!

CHAPTERI.

Itwasthefull“season”inCairo.TheubiquitousBritisherandthenoless
ubiquitousAmericanhadplantedtheirdiffering“society”standardsonthesandy
soilwateredbytheNile,andwerebusilyengagedintheworkofreducingthe
city,formerlycalledAlKahiraorTheVictorious,toamoredeplorablecondition
ofsubjectionandslaverythananyold-worldconquerorcouldeverhavedone.
FortheheavyyokeofmodernfashionhasbeenflungontheneckofAlKahira,
andtheirresistible,tyrannicdominionof“swagger”vulgarityhaslaidThe
Victoriouslow.Theswarthychildrenofthedesertmight,andpossiblywould,be


readyandwillingtogoforthandfightmenwithmen’sweaponsforthefreedom
toliveanddieunmolestedintheirownnativeland;butagainsttheblandlysmiling,white-helmeted,sun-spectacled,perspiringhordeofCook’s“cheap
trippers,”whatcantheydosaveremaininertandwell-nighspeechless?For
nothinglikethecheaptripperwaseverseenintheworldtillourpresent
enlightenedandgloriousdayofprogress;heisanew-graftedtypeofnomad,like
andyetunlikeaman.TheDarwintheoryassertsitselfproudlyandprominently
inbristlesoftruthalloverhim—inhisrestlessness,hisape-likeagilityand
curiosity,hisshamelessinquisitiveness,hiscarefulcleansingofhimselffrom
foreignfleas,hisgeneralattentiontominutiae,andhisalwaysvoracious
appetite;andwheretheapeendsandthemanbeginsissomewhatdifficultto
discover.The“imageofGod”wherewithhe,togetherwithhisfellows,was
originallysupposedtobeimpressedinthefirstfreshdaysofCreation,seems
fairlyblottedout,forthereisnotouchoftheDivineinhismortalcomposition.
Nordoesthesecondcreatedphase-thecopyoftheDivineo—namely,the
Heroic,--dignifyhisformorennoblehiscountenance.Thereisnothingofthe
heroicinthewanderingbipedwhoswingsthroughthestreetsofCairoinwhite
flannels,laughingatthestaidcomposureoftheArabs,flickingthumbandfinger
atthepatientnosesofthesmallhireabledonkeysandotherbeastsofburden,
thrustingawarmredfaceofinquiryintotheshadowyrecessesofodoriferous
bazaars,andsaunteringateveningintheEsbekiyehGardens,cigarinmouthand
handsinpockets,lookingonthesceneandbehavinginitasifthewholeplace
werebutareflexofEarl’sCourtExhibition.Historyaffectsthecheaptrippernot
atall;heregardsthePyramidsas“goodbuilding”merely,andtheinscrutable
Sphinxitselfasafinetargetforemptysoda-waterbottles,whileperhapshis
chiefestregretisthatthegranitewhereoftheancientmonsterishewnistoohard
forhimtoinscribehisdistinguishednamethereon.Itistruethatthereisa
punishmentinflictedonanypersonorpersonsattemptingsuchwantonwork—a
fineorthebastinado;yetneitherfinenorbastinadowouldaffectthe“tripper”if
hecouldonlysucceedincarving“‘Arry”ontheSphinx’sjaw.Buthecannot,
andhereinishisownmisery.OtherwisehecomportshimselfinEgyptashedoes
atMargate,withnomorethought,reflection,orreverencethandignifythe
compositionofhisfar-offSimianancestor.
Takinghimallinall,heis,however,noworse,andinsomerespectsbetter,than
the“swagger”folkwho“do”Egypt,orrather,consentinalanguidwaytobe
“done”byEgypt.ThesearethepeoplewhoannuallyleaveEnglandontheplea
ofbeingunabletostandthecheery,frosty,andineveryrespecthealthywinterof
theirnativecountry—thatwinter,whichwithitswildwinds,itssparklingfrost


andsnow,itshollytreesbrightwithscarletberries,itsmerryhuntersgalloping
overfieldandmoorduringdaylighthours,anditsgreatlogfiresroaringupthe
chimneysatevening,wassufficientlygoodfortheirforefatherstothriveupon
andlivethroughcontentedlyuptoahaleandheartyoldageinthetimeswhen
thefeveroftravellingfromplacetoplacewasanunknowndisease,andhome
wasindeed“sweethome.”Infectedbystrangemaladiesofthebloodandnerves,
towhichevenscientificphysiciansfindithardtogivesuitablenames,they
shudderatthefirstwhiffofcold,andfillinghugetrunkswithathousandfoolish
thingswhichhave,throughluxurioushabit,becomenecessitiestotheirpallid
existences,theyhastilydeparttotheLandoftheSun,carryingwiththemtheir
namelesslanguors,discontentsandincurableillnesses,forwhichHeavenitself,
muchlessEgypt,couldprovidenoremedy.Itisnotatalltobewonderedatthat
thesephysicallyandmorallysicktribesofhumankindhaveceasedtogiveany
seriousattentionastowhatmaypossiblybecomeofthemafterdeath,orwhether
thereISany“after,”fortheyareinthementallycomatoseconditionwhich
precedesentirewreckageofbrain-force;existenceitselfhasbecomea“bore;”
oneplaceislikeanother,andtheyrepeatthesamemonotonousroundofliving
ineveryspotwheretheycongregate,whetheritbeeast,west,north,orsouth.On
theRivieratheyfindlittletodoexceptmeetatRumpelmayer’satCannes,the
LondonHouseatNice,ortheCasinoatMonte-Carlo;andinCairothey
inaugurateaminiatureLondon“season”overagain,workedinthesamegroove
ofdinners,dances,drives,picnics,flirtations,andmatrimonialengagements.But
theCaireneseasonhasperhapssomeadvantageovertheLondononesofaras
thisparticularsetof“swagger”folkareconcerned—itislesshamperedbythe
proprieties.Onecanbemore“free,”youknow!Youmaytakealittlewalkinto
“Old”Cairo,andturningacorneryoumaycatchglimpsesofwhatMarkTwain
calls“Orientalsimplicity,”namely,picturesquely-composedgroupsof“dear
delightful”Arabswhoseclothingisnomorethanprimitivecustommakes
strictlynecessary.Thesekindof“tableauxvivants”or“artstudies”givequitea
thrillofnoveltytoCairene-EnglishSociety,—atouchofsavagery,—asoupcon
ofpeculiaritywhichisentirelylackingtofashionableLondon.Then,itmustbe
rememberedthatthe“childrenofthedesert”havebeenledbygentledegreesto
understandthatforharboringthestrangelocustsimportedintotheirlandby
Cook,andthestillstrangerspecimensofunclassifiedinsectcalledUpperTen,
whichimportsitself,theywillreceive“backsheesh.”
“Backsheesh”isacertainsourceofcomforttoallnations,andtranslatesitself
withsweetesteuphonyintoalllanguages,andthedesert-borntribeshavejustice
ontheirsidewhentheydemandasmuchofitastheycanget,rightfullyor


wrongfully.Theydeservetogainsomesortofadvantageoutoftheodd-looking
swarmsofWesterninvaderswhoamazethembytheirdressandaffrontthemby
theirmanners.“Backsheesh,”therefore,hasbecometheperpetualcryofthe
Desert-Born,—itistheonlymeansofoffenceanddefencelefttothem,andvery
naturallytheyclingtoitwithfervorandresolution.Andwhoshallblamethem?
Thetall,majestic,meditativeArab—superbasmereman,andstandingnakedfootedonhissandynativesoil,withhisoneroughgarmentflungroundhisloins
andhisgreatblackeyesfronting,eagle-like,thesun—meritssomething
considerableforcondescendingtoactasguideandservanttotheWestern
moneyedcivilianwhoclotheshislowerlimbsinstraight,funnel-likecloth
casings,shapedtothestrictresemblanceofanelephant’slegs,andfinishesthe
gracefuldesignbyenclosingtherestofhisbodyinastiffshirtwhereinhecan
scarcelymove,andasquare-cutcoatwhichdivideshimneatlyintwainbyaline
immediatelyabovetheknee,withtheeffectoflesseninghisheightbyseveral
inches.TheDesert-Bornsurveyshimgravelyandincivilcompassion,
sometimeswithamutteredprayeragainstthehideousnessofhim,butonthe
wholewithpatienceandequanimity,—influencedbyconsiderationsof
“backsheesh.”AndtheEnglish“season”whirlslightlyandvaporously,like
blownegg-froth,overthemysticlandoftheoldgods,—theterriblelandfilled
withdarksecretsasyetunexplored,—theland“shadowingwithwings,”asthe
Biblehathit,—thelandinwhichareburiedtremendoushistoriesasyet
unguessed,—profoundenigmasofthesupernatural,—labyrinthsofwonder,
terrorandmystery,—allofwhichremainunrevealedtothegiddy-pated,dancing,
dining,gabblingthrongofthefashionabletravellinglunaticsoftheday,—the
peoplewho“neverthinkbecauseitistoomuchtrouble,”peoplewhoseoneidea
istojourneyfromhoteltohotelandcomparenoteswiththeiracquaintances
afterwardsastowhichhouseprovidedthemwiththebest-cookedfood.Foritis
anoticeablefactthatwithmostvisitorstothe“show”placesofEuropeandthe
East,food,beddingandselfishpersonalcomfortarethefirstconsiderations,—
thesceneryandtheassociationscomelast.Formerlythepositionwasreversed.
Inthedayswhentherewerenorailways,andtheimmortalByronwrotehis
ChildeHarold,itwascustomarytoratepersonalinconveniencelightly;the
beautifulorhistoricscenewastheattractionforthetraveller,andnotthe
arrangementsmadeforhisspecialformofdigestiveapparatus.Byroncould
sleeponthedeckofasailingvesselwrappedinhiscloakandfeelnonethe
worseforit;hiswell-bracedmindandaspiringspiritsoaredaboveallbodily
discomforts;histhoughtswereengrossedwiththemightyteachingsoftime;he
wasabletolosehimselfingloriousreveriesonthelessonsofthepastandthe
possibilitiesofthefuture;theattitudeoftheinspiredThinkeraswellasPoetwas


his,andacrustofbreadandcheeseservedhimassufficientlyonhisjourneyings
amongthethenunspoiltvalleysandmountainsofSwitzerlandasthewarm,
greasy,indigestiblefareoftheelaboratetable-d’hotesatLucerneandInterlaken
serveusnow.Butwe,inour“superior”condition,pooh-poohtheByronicspirit
ofindifferencetoeventsandscornoftrifles,—wesayitis“melodramatic,”
completelyforgettingthatourattitudetowardsourselvesandthingsingeneralis
oneofmostpitiablebathos.WecannotwriteChildeHarold,butwecangrumble
atbothbedandboardineveryhotelunderthesun;wecandiscoverteasing
midgesintheairandquestionableinsectsintherooms;andwecandiscusseach
billpresentedtouswithanindustriouspersistencewhichnearlydriveslandlords
franticandourselvesaswell.Inthesekindofimportantmattersweareindeed
“superior”toByronandotherrantingdreamersofhistype,butweproduceno
ChildeHarolds,andwehavecometothestrangepassofpretendingthatDon
Juanisimproper,whileweporeoverZolawithavidity!Tosuchapitchhasour
culturebroughtus!And,likethePhariseeintheTestament,wethankGodwe
arenotasothersare.WearegladwearenotastheArab,astheAfrican,asthe
Hindoo;weareproudofourelephant-legsandourdividingcoat-line;these
thingsshowwearecivilized,andthatGodapprovesofusmorethananyother
typeofcreatureevercreated.Wetakepossessionofnations,notbythunderof
war,butbyclatterofdinner-plates.Wedonotraisearmies,webuildhotels;and
wesettleourselvesinEgyptaswedoatHomburg,todressanddineandsleep
andsniffcontemptonallthingsbutourselves,tosuchanextentthatwehave
actuallygotintothehabitofcallingthenativesoftheplacesweusurp
“foreigners.”WEaretheforeigners;butsomehowwenevercanseeit.Wherever
wecondescendtobuildhotels,thatspotweconsiderours.Wearesurprisedat
theimpertinenceofFrankfortpeoplewhopresumetovisitHomburgwhilewe
arehavingour“season”there;wewonderhowtheydaredoit!And,ofatruth,
theyseemamazedattheirownboldness,andcreepshylythroughtheKurGartenasthoughfearingtobeturnedoutbythecustodians.Thesamething
occursinEgypt;wearefrequentlyastoundedatwhatwecall“theimpertinence
oftheseforeigners,”i.e.thenatives.Theyoughttobeproudtohaveusandour
elephant-legs;gladtoseesuchnobleandbeautifultypesofcivilizationasthe
stoutparvenuwithhispendantpaunch,andhisfamilyofgawkyyouthsand
maidensofthelarge-toothed,long-limbedgenus;gladtoseetheEnglish
“mamma,”whonevergrowsold,butwearsyounghairininnocentcurls,andhas
herwrinklesannually“massaged”outbyaParisartisteincomplexion.The
Desert-Born,wesay,shouldbehappyandgratefultoseesuchsights,andnot
demandsomuch“backsheesh.”Infact,theDesert-Bornshouldnotgetsomuch
inourwayashedoes;heisaverygoodservant,ofcourse,butasamananda


brother—pooh!Egyptmaybehiscountry,andhemayloveitasmuchaswe
loveEngland;butourfeelingsaremoretobeconsideredthanhis,andthereisno
connectinglinkofhumansympathybetweenElephant-Legsandsun-browned
Nudity!
SoatleastthoughtSirChetwyndLyle,astoutgentlemanofcoarsebuildand
coarserphysiognomy,ashesatinadeeparm-chairinthegreathallorloungeof
theGezirehPalaceHotel,smokingafterdinnerinthecompanyoftwoorthree
acquaintanceswithwhomhehadfraternizedduringhisstayinCairo.Sir
Chetwyndwasfondofairinghisopinionsforthebenefitofasmanypeoplewho
caredtolistentohim,andSirChetwyndhadsomerighttohisopinions,
inasmuchashewastheeditorandproprietorofalargeLondonnewspaper.His
knighthoodwasquitearecentdistinction,andnobodyknewexactlyhowhehad
managedtogetit.HehadoriginallybeenknowninFleetStreetbytheirreverent
sobriquetof“greasyChetwynd,”owingtohislargeness,oilinessandgeneralair
ofblandly-meaninglessbenevolence.Hehadawifeandtwodaughters,andone
ofhisobjectsinwinteringatCairowastogethischerishedchildrenmarried.It
wastime,forthebloomwasslightlyoffthefairgirl-roses,—thedaintypetalsof
thedelicatebudswerebeginningtowither.AndSirChetwyndhadheardmuch
ofCairo;heunderstoodthattherewasagreatdealoflibertyallowedthere
betweenmenandmaids,—thattheywentouttogetherondrivingexcursionsto
thePyramids,thattheyrodeonlilliputiandonkeysoverthesandatmoonlight,
thattheyfloatedaboutinboatsateveningontheNile,andthat,inshort,there
weremoreopportunitiesofmarriageamongthe“flesh-potsofEgypt”thaninall
therushandcrushofLondon.Soherehewas,portlyandcomfortable,andon
thewholewellsatisfiedwithhisexpedition;therewereagoodmanyeligible
bachelorsabout,andMurielandDollywerereallydoingtheirbest.Sowastheir
mother,LadyChetwyndLyle;sheallowedno“eligible”toescapeherhawk-like
observation,andonthisparticulareveningshewasinallherglory,fortherewas
tobeacostumeballattheGezirehPalaceHotel,—asuperbaffair,organizedby
theproprietorsfortheamusementoftheirpayingguests,whocertainlypaid
well,—evenstiffly.Owingtothepreparationsthatweregoingonforthis
festivity,thelounge,withitssumptuousEgyptiandecorationsandluxurious
modernfittings,waswell-nighdesertedsaveforSirChetwyndandhisparticular
groupoffriends,towhomhewasholdingforth,betweenslowcigar-puffs,on
thesqualoroftheArabs,thefrightfulthieveryoftheSheiks,theincompetency
ofhisownspecialdragoman,andthemistakepeoplemadeinthinkingthe
Egyptiansthemselvesafinerace.


“Theyaretall,certainly,”saidSirChetwynd,surveyinghispaunch,whichlolled
comfortably,andasitwerebyitself,infrontofhim,likeakindofwaistcoated
air-balloon.“Igrantyoutheyaretall.Thatis,themajorityofthemare.ButI
haveseenshortmenamongthem.TheKhediveisnottallerthanIam.Andthe
Egyptianfaceisverydeceptive.Thefeaturesareoftenfine,—occasionally
classic,—butintelligentexpressionistotallylacking.”
HereSirChetwyndwavedhiscigardescriptively,asthoughhewouldfain
suggestthataheavyjaw,afatnosewithapimpleattheend,andagrossmouth
withblackteethinsideit,whichwerespecialpointsinhisownphysiognomy,
wentfurthertomakeup“intelligentexpression”thananywell-moulded,
straight,Easterntypeofsun-brownedcountenanceeverseenorimagined.
“Well,Idon’tquiteagreewithyouthere,”saidamanwhowaslyingfulllength
ononeofthedivansclosebyandsmoking.“Thesebrownchapshavedeuced
fineeyes.Theredoesn’tseemtobeanylackofexpressioninthem.Andthat
remindsme,thereisatfellowarrivedhereto-daywholooksforalltheworld
likeanEgyptian,ofthebestform.HeisaFrenchman,though;aProvencal,—
everyoneknowshim,—heisthefamouspainter,ArmandGervase.”
“Indeed!”—andSirChetwyndrousedhimselfatthename—“ArmandGervase!
THEArmandGervase?”
“Theonlyoneoriginal,”laughedtheother.“He’scomeheretomakestudiesof
Easternwomen.Arareoldtimehe’llhaveamongthem,Idaresay!He’snot
famousforcharacter.HeoughttopaintthePrincessZiska.”
“Ah,by-the-bye,Iwantedtoaskyouaboutthatlady.Doesanyoneknowwho
sheis?Mywifeisveryanxioustofindoutwhethersheis—well—er—quitethe
properperson,youknow!Whenonehasyounggirls,onecannotbetoocareful.”
RossCourtney,themanonthedivan,gotupslowlyandstretchedhislong
athleticlimbswithalazyenjoymentintheaction.Hewasasportingpersonwith
unhamperedmeansandlargeestatesinScotlandandIreland;helivedajoyous,
“don’t-care”lifeofwanderingabouttheworldinsearchofadventures,andhe
hadascornofcivilizedconventionalities—newspapersandtheireditorsamong
them.AndwheneverSirChetwyndspokeofhis“younggirls”hewasmovedto
irreverentsmiling,asheknewtheyoungestofthetwainwasatleastthirty.He
alsorecognizedandavoidedthewilytrapsandpitfallssetforhimbyLady


ChetwyndLyleinthehopethathewouldyieldhimselfupacaptivetothe
charmsofMurielorDolly;andashethoughtofthesetwofaironesnowand
involuntarilycomparedtheminhismindwiththeotherwomanjustspokenof,
thesmilethathadbeguntohoveronhislipsdeepenedunconsciouslytillhis
handsomefacewasquiteilluminedwithitsmirth.
“Uponmyword,Idon’tthinkitmatterswhoanybodyisinCairo!”hesaidwith
afinecarelessness.“Thepeoplewhosefamiliesareallguaranteedrespectable
aremorelaxintheirbehaviorthanthepeopleoneknowsnothingabout.Asfor
thePrincessZiska,herextraordinarybeautyandintelligencewouldgiveherthe
entreeanywhere—evenifshehadn’tmoneytobackthosequalitiesup.”
“She’senormouslywealthy,Ihear,”saidyoungLordFulkeward,anotherofthe
languidsmokers,caressinghisscarcelyperceptiblemoustache.“Mymother
thinkssheisadivorcee.”
SirChetwyndlookedveryserious,andshookhisfatheadsolemnly.
“Well,thereisnothingremarkableinbeingdivorced,youknow,”laughedRoss
Courtney.“Nowadaysitseemsthenaturalandfittingendofmarriage.”
SirChetwyndlookedgraverstill.Herefusedtobedrawnintothiskindof
flippantconversation.He,atanyrate,wasrespectablymarried;hehadno
sympathywhateverwiththelargermajorityofpeoplewhosemarriageswerea
failure.
“ThereisnoPrinceZiskathen?”heinquired.“Thenamesoundstomeof
Russianorigin,andIimagined—mywifealsoimagined,—thatthehusbandof
theladymightveryeasilybeinRussiawhilehiswife’shealthmightnecessitate
herwinteringinEgypt.TheRussianwinterclimateisinclement,Ibelieve.”
“Thatwouldbeaveryneatarrangement,”yawnedLordFulkeward.“Butmy
motherthinksnot.Mymotherthinksthereisnotahusbandatall,—thatthere
neverwasahusband.Infactmymotherhasverystrongconvictionsonthe
subject.Butmymotherintendstovisitherallthesame.”
“Shedoes?LadyFulkewardhasdecidedonthat?Oh,well,inTHATcase!”—
andSirChetwyndexpandedhislower-chestair-balloon.“Ofcourse,Lady
ChetwyndLylecannolongerhaveanyscruplesonthesubject.IfLady
FulkewardvisitsthePrincesstherecanbenodoubtastoheractualSTATUS.”


“Oh,Idon’tknow!”murmuredLordFulkeward,strokinghisdownylip.“You
seemymother’sratheranexceptionalperson.Whenthegovernorwasaliveshe
hardlyeverwentoutanywhere,youknow,andallthepeoplewhocametoour
houseinYorkshirehadtobringtheirpedigreeswiththem,sotospeak.Itwas
beastlydull!Butnowmymotherhastakento‘studyingcharacter,’don’cher
know;shelikesallsortsofpeopleabouther,andthemoremixedtheyarethe
moresheisdelightedwiththem.Fact,Iassureyou!Quiteachangehascome
overmymothersincethepooroldgovernordied!”
RossCourtneylookedamused.AchangeindeedhadcomeoverLadyFulkeward
—achange,sudden,mysteriousandamazingtomanyofherformer
distinguishedfriendswith“pedigrees.”Inherhusband’slifetimeherhairhad
beenasoftsilver-gray;herfacepale,refinedandserious;herformfulland
matronly;herstepsoberanddiscreet;buttwoyearsafterthedeathofthekindly
andnobleoldlordwhohadcherishedherastheappleofhiseyeanduptothe
lastmomentofhisbreathhadthoughtherthemostbeautifulwomaninEngland,
sheappearedwithgoldentresses,apeach-bloomcomplexion,andafigurewhich
hadbeensomassaged,rubbed,pressedandartisticallycorsetedastoappear
positivelysylph-like.Shedancedlikeafairy,shewhohadoncebeencalled
“old”LadyFulkeward;shesmokedcigarettes;shelaughedlikeachildatevery
trivialthing—anyjoke,howeverstale,flatandunprofitable,wassufficienttostir
herlightpulsestomerriment;andsheflirted—oh,heavens!—HOWsheflirted!
—withaskillandagraceandaknowledgeandanaplombthatnearlydrove
MurielandDollyChetwyndLylefrantic.They,poorthings,werebeatenoutof
thefieldaltogetherbyhersuperiortactandartof“fence,”andtheyhatedher
accordinglyandcalledherinprivatea“horridoldwoman,”whichperhaps,
whenhermaidundressedher,shewas.Butshewashavingadistinctly“good
time”inCairo;shecalledherson,whowasindelicatehealth,“mypoordear
littleboy!”andhe,thoughtwenty-eightonhislastbirthday,wasreducedtosuch
anabjectconditionofservitudebyherassertiveness,impudentgayetyand
generalfreedomofmanner,thathecouldnotopenhismouthwithoutalludingto
“mymother,”andusing“mymother”asapegwhereontohangallhisown
opinionsandemotionsaswellastheopinionsandemotionsofotherpeople.
“LadyFulkewardadmiresthePrincessverymuch,Ibelieve?”saidanother
loungerwhohadnotyetspoken.
“Oh,astothat!”—andLordFulkewardrousedhimselftosomefaintshowof
energy.“Whowouldn’tadmireher?ByJove!Only,Itellyouwhat—there’s


somethingIweirdabouthereyes.Fact!Idon’tlikehereyes.”
“Shutup,Fulke!Shehasbeautifuleyes!”burstoutCourtney,hotly;then
flushingsuddenlyhebithislipsandwassilent.
“Whoisthisthathasbeautifuleyes?”suddenlydemandedaslow,gruffvoice,
andalittlethingentleman,dressedinakindofacademicgownandcap,
appearedonthescene.
“Hullo!here’sourF.R.S.A.!”exclaimedLordFulkeward.“ByJove!Isthatthe
styleyouhavegotyourselfupinfortonight?Itlooksawfullysmart,don’cher
know!”
Thepersonagethuscomplimentedadjustedhisspectaclesandsurveyedhis
acquaintanceswithaverywell-satisfiedair.Intruth,Dr.MaxwellDeanhad
somereasonforself-satisfaction,iftheknowledgethathepossessedoneofthe
cleverestheadsinEuropecouldgiveamancauseforpride.Hewasapparently
theonlyindividualintheGezirehPalaceHotelwhohadcometoEgyptforany
seriouspurpose.Apurposehehad,thoughwhatitwashedeclinedtoexplain.
Reticent,oftenbrusque,andsometimesmysteriousinhismannerofspeech,
therewasnottheslightestdoubtthathewasatworkonsomething,andthathe
alsohadaverytryinghabitofcloselystudyingeveryobject,smallorgreat,that
cameunderhisobservation.Hestudiedthenativestosuchanextentthathe
kneweverydifferingshadeofcolorintheirskins;hestudiedSirChetwyndLyle
andknewthatheoccasionallytookbribesto“putthings”intohispaper;he
studiedDollyandMurielChetwyndLyle,andknewthattheywouldnever
succeedingettinghusbands;hestudiedLadyFulkeward,andthoughthervery
wellgotupforsixty;hestudiedRossCourtney,andknewhewouldneverdo
anythingbutkillanimalsallhislife;andhestudiedtheworkingoftheGezireh
PalaceHotel,andsawafortunerisingoutofitfortheproprietors.Butapart
fromtheseordinarysurfacethings,hestudiedothermatters—“occult”
peculiaritiesoftemperament,“coincidences,”strangeoccurrencesgenerally.He
couldreadtheEgyptianhieroglyphsperfectly,andheunderstoodthedifference
between“royalcartouche”scarabeiandBirmingham-manufacturedones.He
wasneverdull;hehadplentytodo;andhetookeverythingasitcameinitsturn.
Eventhecostumeballforwhichhehadnowattiredhimselfdidnotpresentitself
tohimasa“bore,”butasanewveinofinformation,openingtohimfresh
glimpsesofthegenushomoasseeninastateofeccentricity.


“Ithink,”henowsaid,complacently,“thatthecapandgownlookwellforaman
ofmyyears.Itisasimplegarb,butcool,convenientandnotunbecoming.Ihad
thoughtatfirstofadoptingthedressofanancientEgyptianpriest,butIfindit
difficulttosecurethecompleteoutfit.Iwouldneverwearacostumeofthekind
thatwasnotineverypointhistoricallycorrect.”
Noonesmiled.NoonewouldhavedaredtosmileatDr.MaxwellDeanwhenhe
spokeof“historicallycorrect”things.Hehadstudiedthemashehadstudied
everything,andheknewallaboutthem.
SirChetwyndmurmured:
“Quiteright—er—theancientdesignswereveryelaborate—”
“Andsymbolic,”finishedDr.Dean.“Symbolicofverycuriousmeanings,I
assureyou.ButIfearIhaveinterruptedyourtalk.Mr.Courtneywasspeaking
aboutsomebody’sbeautifuleyes;whoisthefaironeinquestion?”
“ThePrincessZiska,”saidLordFulkeward.“IwassayingthatIdon’tquitelike
thelookofhereyes.”
“Whynot?Whynot?”demandedthedoctorwithsuddenasperity.“What’sthe
matterwiththem?”
“Everything’sthematterwiththem!”repliedRossCourtneywithaforcedlaugh.
“TheyaretoosplendidandwildforFulke;helikestheEnglishpale-bluebetter
thantheEgyptiangazelle-black.”
“No,Idon’t,”saidLordFulkeward,speakingmoreanimatedlythanwas
customarywithhim.“Ihate,pale-blueeyes.Iprefersoftviolet-grayones,like
MissMurray’s.”
“MissHelenMurrayisaverycharmingyounglady,”saidDr.Dean.“Buther
beautyisquiteofanordinarytype,whilethatofthePrincessZiska—”
“IsEXTRAordinary—exactly!That’sjustwhatIsay!”declaredCourtney.“I
thinksheistheloveliestwomanIhaveeverseen.”
Therewasapause,duringwhichthelittledoctorlookedwithaferret-like
curiosityfromonemantotheother.SirChetwyndLyleroseponderouslyup


fromthedepthsofhisarm-chair.
“Ithink,”saidhe,“Ihadbettergoandgetintomyuniform—theWindsor,you
know!IalwayshaveitwithmewhereverIgo;itcomesinveryusefulforfancy
ballssuchastheonewearegoingtohavetonight,whennoparticularperiodis
observedincostume.Isn’titabouttimeweallgotready?”
“Uponmylife,Ithinkitis!”agreedLordFulkeward.“Iamcomingoutasa
Neapolitanfisherman!Idon’tbelieveNeapolitanfishermeneverreallydressin
thewayI’mgoingtomakeup,butit’stheacceptedstage-type,don’cherknow.”
“Ah!Idaresayyouwilllookverywellinit,”murmuredRossCourtney,vaguely.
“Hullo!herecomesDenzilMurray!”
Theyallturnedinstinctivelytowatchtheentranceofahandsomeyoungman,
attiredinthepicturesquegarbwornbyFlorentinenoblesduringtheprosperous
reignoftheMedicis.Itwasacostumeadmirablyadaptedtothewearer,who,
beinggraveandalmoststernoffeature,neededthebrightnessofjewelsandthe
glossofvelvetandsatintothrowouttheclassiccontourofhisfineheadand
enhancethelustreofhisbrooding,darkly-passionateeyes.DenzilMurraywasa
pure-bloodedHighlander,—thelevelbrows,thefirmlips,thestraight,fearless
look,allbespokehimasonoftheheather-crownedmountainsandadescendant
oftheproudracesthatscornedthe“Sassenach,”andretainedsufficientofthe
materialwhereoftheirearlyPhoenicianancestorsweremadetobecapableof
boththeextremesofhateandloveintheirmostpotentforms.Hemovedslowly
towardsthegroupofmenawaitinghisapproachwithareservedairofsomething
likehauteur;itwaspossiblehewasconsciousofhisgoodlooks,butitwas
equallyevidentthathedidnotdesiretobemadetheobjectofimpertinent
remark.Hisfriendssilentlyrecognizedthis,andonlyLordFulkeward,movedto
amildtransportofadmiration,venturedtocommentonhisappearance.
“Isay,Denzil,you’reawfullywellgotup!Awfullywell!Magnificent!”
DenzilMurraybowedwithasomewhatweariedandsarcasticair.
“WhenoneisinRome,orEgypt,onemustdoasRome,orEgypt,does,”hesaid,
carelessly.“Ifhotelproprietorswillgivefancyballs,itisnecessarytorisetothe
occasion.Youlookverywell,Doctor.Whydon’tyouotherfellowsgoandget
yourtoggerieson?It’spastteno’clock,andthePrincessZiskawillbehereby
eleven.”


“ThereareotherpeoplecomingbesidesthePrincessZiska,aretherenot,Mr.
Murray?”inquiredSirChetwyndLyle,withanobtrusivelybanteringair.
DenzilMurrayglancedhimoverdisdainfully.
“Ibelievethereare,”heansweredcoolly.“Otherwisetheballwouldscarcelypay
itsexpenses.ButasthePrincessisadmittedlythemostbeautifulwomaninCairo
thisseason,shewillnaturallybethecentreofattraction.That’swhyImentioned
shewouldbehereateleven.”
“Shetoldyouthat?”inquiredRossCourtney.
“Shedid.”
Courtneylookedup,thendown,andseemedabouttospeakagain,butchecked
himselfandfinallystrolledoff,followedbyLordFulkeward.
“Ihear,”saidDr.Deanthen,addressingDenzilMurray,“thatagreatcelebrity
hasarrivedatthishotel—thepainter,ArmandGervase.”
Denzil’sfacebrightenedinstantlywithapleasantsmile.
“ThedearestfriendIhaveintheworld!”hesaid.“Yes,heishere.Imethim
outsidethedoorthisafternoon.Weareveryoldchums.Ihavestayedwithhim
inParis,andhehasstayedwithmeinScotland.Acharmingfellow!Heisvery
Frenchinhisideas;butheknowsEnglandwell,andspeaksEnglishperfectly.”
“Frenchinhisideas!”echoedSirChetwyndLyle,whowasjustpreparingto
leavethelounge.“Dearme!Howisthat?”
“HeisaFrenchman,”saidDr.Dean,suavely.“Thereforethathisideasshouldbe
Frenchoughtnottobeamatterofsurprisetous,mydearSirChetwynd.”
SirChetwyndsnorted.Hehadasuspicionthathe—theeditorandproprietorof
theDailyDial—wasbeinglaughedat,andheatonceclamberedonhishigh
horseofBritishMorality.
“FrenchmanornoFrenchman,”heobserved,“theideaspromulgatedinFrance
atthepresentdayaredistinctlyprofaneandpernicious.Thereisalackof
principle—awantofrectitudein—er—theFrenchPress,forexample,thatis


highlydeplorable.”
“AndistheEnglishPressimmaculate?”askedDenzillanguidly.
“Wehopeso,”repliedSirChetwynd.“Wedoourbesttomakeitso.”
Andwiththatremarkhetookhispaunchandhimselfawayintoretirement,
leavingDr.DeanandyoungMurrayfacingeachother,asingularpairenoughin
thecontrastoftheirappearanceanddress,—theonesmall,leanandwiry,in
plain-cut,loose-flowingacademicgown;theothertall,broadandmuscular,clad
intherichattireofmediaevalFlorence,andlookingforalltheworldlikeafine
pictureofthatperiodsteppedoutfrom,itsframe.Therewasasilencebetween
themforamoment,—thentheDoctorspokeinalowtone:
“Itwon’tdo,mydearboy,—Iassureyouitwon’tdo!Youwillbreakyourheart
overadream,andmakeyourselfmiserablefornothing.Andyouwillbreakyour
sister’sheartaswell;perhapsyouhaven’tthoughtofthat?”
DenzilflunghimselfintothechairSirChetwyndhadjustvacated,andgavevent
toasighthatwasalmostagroan.
“Helendoesn’tknowanything—yet,”hesaidhoarsely.“Iknownothingmyself;
howcanI?Ihaven’tsaidawordto—toHER.IfIspokeallthatwasinmymind,
Idaresayshewouldlaughatme.Youaretheonlyonewhohasguessedmy
secret.YousawmelastnightwhenI—whenIaccompaniedherhome.ButI
neverpassedherpalacegates,—shewouldn’tletme.Shebademe‘good-night’
outside;aservantadmittedher,andshevanishedthroughtheportallikeawitch
oraghost.SometimesIfancysheISaghost.Sheissowhite,solight,so
noiselessandsolovely!”
Heturnedhiseyesaway,ashamedoftheemotionthatmovedhim.Dr.Maxwell
Deantookoffhisacademiccapandexamineditsinteriorasthoughhe
considereditremarkable.
“Yes,”hesaidslowly;“Ihavethoughtthesamethingofhermyself—
sometimes.”
Furtherconversationwasinterruptedbytheentranceofthemilitarybandofthe
evening,whichnowcrossedthe“lounge,”eachmancarryinghisinstrument
withhim;andthesewerefollowedbyseveralgroupsofpeopleinfancydress,all


readyandeagerfortheball.PierrotsandPierrettes,monksindroopingcowls,
flower-girls,water-carriers,symbolicfiguresof“Night”and“Morning,”
mingledwiththecounterfeitpresentmentsofdead-and-gonekingsandqueens,
begantoflocktogether,laughingandtalkingontheirwaytotheballroom;and
presentlyamongthemcameamanwhosesuperiorheightandbuild,combined
withhiseminentlypicturesque,half-savagetypeofbeauty,causedeveryoneto
turnandwatchhimashepassed,andmurmurwhisperingcommentsonthe
variousqualitieswhereinhedifferedfromthemselves.Hewasattiredforthe
occasionasaBedouinchief,andhisfierceblackeyes,andclose-curling,dark
hair,combinedwiththenaturalolivetintofhiscomplexion,werewellsetoffby
thesnowyfoldsofhisturbanandthewhitenessofhisentirecostume,whichwas
unrelievedbyanycolorsaveatthewaist,whereagleamofscarletwasshownin
thesashwhichhelpedtofastenamurderous-lookingdaggerandother“correct”
weaponsofattacktohisbelt.Heenteredthehallwithaswiftandsingularlylight
step,andmadestraightforDenzilMurray.
“Ah!hereyouare!”hesaid,speakingEnglishwithaslightforeignaccent,which
wasmoreagreeabletotheearthanotherwise.“But,myexcellentboy,what
magnificence!AMedicicostume!Neversaytomethatyouarenotvain;youare
asconsciousofyourgoodlooksasanyprettywoman.Beholdme,howsimple
andunobtrusiveIam!”
Helaughed,andMurraysprangupfromthechairwherehehadbeen
despondentlyreclining.
“Oh,come,Ilikethat!”heexclaimed.“Simpleandunobtrusive!Whyeverybody
isstaringatyounowasifyouhaddroppedfromthemoon!Youcannotbe
ArmandGervaseandsimpleandunobtrusiveatthesametime!”
“Whynot?”demandedGervase,lightly.“Fameiscapricious,andhertrumpetis
notloudenoughtobeheardallovertheworldatonce.Thevenerableproprietor
ofthedirtybazaarwhereImanagedtopurchasethesecharmingarticlesof
Bedouincostumehadneverheardofmeinhislife.Miserableman!Hedoesnot
knowwhathehasmissed!”
HerehisflashingblackeyeslitsuddenlyonDr.Dean,whowas“studying”him
inthesamesortofpertinaciouswayinwhichthatlearnedlittlemanstudied
everything.


“Afriendofyours,Denzil?”heinquired.
“Yes,”respondedMurrayreadily;“averygreatfriend—Dr.MaxwellDean.Dr.
Dean,letmeintroducetoyouArmandGervase;Ineednotexplainhimfurther!”
“Youneednot,indeed!”saidthedoctor,withaceremoniousbow.“Thenameis
oneofuniversalcelebrity.”
“Itisnotalwaysanadvantage—thisuniversalcelebrity,”repliedGervase.“Nor
isittruethatanycelebrityisactuallyuniversal.Perhapstheonlylivingperson
thatisuniversallyknown,bynameatleast,isZola.Mankindareatoneintheir
appreciationofvice.”
“Icannotaltogetheragreewithyouthere,”saidDr.Deanslowly,keepinghis
gazefixedontheartist’sbold,proudfeatureswithsingularcuriosity.“The
FrenchAcademy,Ipresume,areindividuallyasappreciativeofhuman
weaknessesasmostmen;buttakencollectively,somespirithigherandstronger
thantheirownkeepsthemunanimousintheirrejectionofthenotoriousRealist
whosacrificesallthecanonsofartandbeautytothediscussionoftopics
unmentionableindecentsociety.”
Gervaselaughedidly.
“Oh,hewillgetinsomeday,youmaybesure,”heanswered.“Thereisnospirit
higherandstrongerthanthespiritofnaturalisminman;andintime,whenafew
prejudiceshavediedawayandmawkishsentimenthasbeenwornthreadbare,
ZolawillbeenrolledasthefirstoftheFrenchAcademicians,withevenmore
honorsthanifhehadsucceededinthebeginning.Thatisthewayofallthose
‘select’bodies.AsNapoleonsaid,‘Lemondevientaceluiquisaitattendre.’”
ThelittleDoctor’scountenancenowshowedthemostlivelyandeagerinterest.
“Youquitebelievethat,MonsieurGervase?Youareentirelysureofwhatyou
saidjustnow?”
“WhatdidIsay?Iforget!”smiledGervase,lightingacigaretteandbeginningto
smokeitleisurely.
“Yousaid,‘Thereisnospirithigherorstrongerthanthespiritofnaturalismin
man.’Areyoupositiveonthispoint?”


“Why,ofcourse!Mostentirelypositive!”Andthegreatpainterlookedamused
ashegavethereply.“NaturalismisNature,orthethingsappertainingtoNature,
andthereisnothinghigherorstrongerthanNatureeverywhereandanywhere.”
“HowaboutGod?”inquiredDr.Deanwithacuriousair,asifhewere
propoundingaremarkableconundrum.
“God!”Gervaselaughedloudly.“Pardon!Areyouaclergyman?”
“Bynomeans!”andtheDoctorgavealittlebowanddeprecatingsmile.“Iam
notinanywayconnectedwiththeChurch.Iamadoctoroflawsandliterature,
—ahumblestudentofphilosophyandsciencegenerally…”
“Philosophy!Science!”interruptedGervase.“AndyouaskaboutGod!Parbleu!
ScienceandphilosophyhaveprogressedbeyondHim!”
“Exactly!”andDr.Deanrubbedhishandstogetherpleasantly.“Thatisyour
opinion?Yes,Ithoughtso!Scienceandphilosophy,toputitcomprehensively,
havebeatenpoorGodonHisownground!Ha!ha!ha!Verygood—verygood!
Andhumorousaswell!Ha!ha!”
Andaverydrollappearancejustthenhadthis“humblestudentofphilosophy
andsciencegenerally,”forhebenthimselftoandfrowithlaughter,andhissmall
eyesalmostdisappearedbehindhisshelvingbrowsintheexcessofhismirth.
Andtwocrosslinesformedthemselvesnearhisthinmouth—suchlinesasare
carvenontheancientGreekmaskswhichindicatesatire.
DenzilMurrayflusheduncomfortably.
“Gervasedoesn’tbelieveinanythingbutArt,”hesaid,asthoughhalf
apologizingforhisfriend:“Artisthesoleobjectofhisexistence;Idon’tbelieve
heeverhastimetothinkaboutanythingelse.”
“OfwhatelseshouldIthink,monami?”exclaimedGervasemirthfully.“Oflife?
ItisallArttome;andbyArtImeantheidealizationandtransfigurationof
Nature.”
“Oh.ifyoudothatsortofthingyouarearomancist,”interposedDr.Dean
emphatically.“Natureneitheridealizesnortransfiguresitself;itissimplyNature
andnomore.MatteruncontrolledbySpiritisanythingbutideal.”


“Precisely,”answeredGervasequicklyandwithsomewarmth;“butmyspirit
idealizesit,—myimaginationseesbeyondit,—mysoulgraspsit.”
“Oh,youhaveasoul?”exclaimedDr.Dean,beginningtolaughagain.“Now,
howdidyoufindthatout?”
Gervaselookedathiminasuddensurprise.
“Everymanhasaninwardself,naturally,”hesaid.“Wecallit‘soul’asafigure
ofspeech;itisreallytemperamentmerely.”
“Oh,itismerelytemperament?Thenyoudon’tthinkitislikelytooutliveyou,
thissoul—totakenewphasesuponitselfandgoonexisting,animmortalbeing,
whenyourbodyisinafarworsecondition(becauselesscarefullypreserved)
thananEgyptianmummy?”
“Certainlynot!”andGervaseflungawaytheendofhisfinishedcigarette.“The
immortalityofthesoulisquiteanexplodedtheory.Itwasalwaysaridiculous
one.Wehavequiteenoughtovexusinourpresentlife,andwhymeneverset
aboutinventinganotherismorethanIamabletounderstand.Itwasamost
foolishandbarbaricsuperstition.”
Thegaysoundofmusicnowfloatedtowardsthemfromtheballroom,—the
strainsofagraceful,joyous,half-commanding,half-pleadingwaltzcame
rhythmicallybeatingontheairlikethemeasuredmovementofwings,—and
DenzilMurray,beginningtogrowrestless,walkedtoandfro,hiseyeswatching
everyfigurethatcrossedandre-crossedthehall.ButDr.Dean’sinterestin
ArmandGervaseremainedintenseandunabated;andapproachinghim,helaid
twoleanfingersdelicatelyonthewhitefoldsoftheBedouindressjustwherethe
heartofthemanwashidden.
“‘Afoolishandbarbaricsuperstition!’”heechoedslowlyandmeditatively.“You
donotbelieveinanypossibilityoftherebeingalife—orseverallives—afterthis
presentdeaththroughwhichwemustallpassinevitably,soonerorlater?”
“Notintheleast!Ileavesuchideastotheignorantanduneducated.Ishouldbe
unworthyoftheprogressiveteachingsofmytimeifIbelievedsucharrant
nonsense.”
“Death,youconsider,finishesall?Thereisnothingfurther—nomysteries


beyond?…”andDr.Dean’seyesglitteredashestretchedforthonethin,slight
handandpointedintospacewiththeword“beyond,”anactionwhichgaveita
curiousemphasis,andforafleetingsecondleftaweirdimpressiononeventhe
carelessmindofGervase.Buthelaugheditofflightly.
“Nothingbeyond?Ofcoursenot!Mydearsir,whyasksuchaquestion?Nothing
canbeplainerormorepositivethanthefactthatdeath,asyousay,finishesall.”
Awoman’slaugh,lowandexquisitelymusical,rippledontheairashespoke—
deliciouslaughter,rarerthansong;forwomenasarulelaughtooloudly,andthe
soundoftheirmerrimentpartakesmoreofthenatureofagoose’scacklethan
anyothersortofnaturalmelody.Butthislarge,softandsilvery,waslikea
delicatelysubduedcadenceplayedonamagicfluteinthedistance,and
suggestednothingbutsweetness;andatthesoundofitGervasestartedviolently
andturnedsharplyrounduponhisfriendMurraywithalookofwondermentand
perplexity.
“Whoisthat?”hedemanded.“Ihaveheardthatprettylaughbefore;itmustbe
someoneIknow.”
ButDenzilscarcelyheardhim.Pale,andwitheyesfullofyearningandpassion,
hewaswatchingtheslowapproachofagroupofpeopleinfancydress,who
werealleagerlypressingroundonecentralfigure—thefigureofawomanclad
ingleaminggoldentissuesandveiledintheoldEgyptianfashionuptotheeyes,
withjewelsflashingaboutherwaist,bosomandhair,—awomanwhomoved
glidinglyasifshefloatedratherthanwalked,andwhosebeauty,halfhiddenasit
wasbytheexigenciesofthecostumeshehadchosen,wassounusualand
brilliantthatitseemedtocreateanatmosphereofbewildermentandrapture
aroundherasshecame.ShewasprecededbyasmallNubianboyinacostume
ofvividscarlet,who,walkingbackwardshumbly,fannedherslowlywithatall
fanofpeacock’splumesmadeafterthequaintdesignsofancientEgypt.The
lustreradiatingfromthepeacock’sfeathers,thelightofhergoldengarments,her
jewelsandthemarvellousblacksplendorofhereyes,allflashedforamoment
likesuddenlightningonGervase;something—heknewnotwhat—turnedhim
giddyandblind;hardlyknowingwhathedid,hesprangeagerlyforward,when
allatoncehefeltthelean,smallhandofDr.Deanonhisarmandstoppedshort
embarrassed.
“Pardonme!”saidthelittlesavant,withadelicate,half-superciliousliftingofhis


eyebrows.“But—doyouknowthePrincessZiska?”

CHAPTERII.

Gervasestaredathim,stilldazzledandconfused.
“Whomdidyousay?…thePrincessZiska?…No,Idon’tknowher…Yet,
stay!Yes,IthinkIhaveseenher…somewhere,—inParis,possibly.Willyou
introduceme?”
“IleavethatdutytoMr.DenzilMurray,”saidtheDoctor,foldinghisarmsneatly
behindhisback…“HeknowsherbetterthanIdo.”
Andsmilinghislittlegrim,cynicalsmile,hesettledhisacademiccapmore
firmlyonhisheadandstrolledofftowardstheballroom.Gervasestood
irresolute,hiseyesfixedonthatwondrousgoldenfigurethatfloatedbeforehis
eyeslikeanaerialvision.DenzilMurrayhadgoneforwardtomeetthePrincess
andwasnowtalkingtoher,hishandsomefaceradiatingwiththeadmirationhe
madenoattempttoconceal.AfteralittlepauseGervasemovedtowardshima
steportwo,andcaughtpartoftheconversation.
“Youlooktheverybeau-idealofanEgyptianPrincess,”Murraywassaying.
“Yourcostumeisperfect.”
Shelaughed.Againthatsweet,rarelaughter!Gervasethrilledwiththepulsation
ofit,—itbeatinhisearsandsmotehisbrainwithastrangeechooffamiliarity.
“Isitnot?”sheresponded.“Iam‘historicallycorrect,’asyourfriendDr.Dean
wouldsay.Myornamentsaregenuine,—theyallcameoutofthesametomb.”
“Ifindonefaultwithyourattire,Princess,”saidoneofthemaleadmirerswho
hadenteredwithher;“partofyourfaceisveiled.Thatisacrueltytousall!”
Shewaivedthecomplimentasidewithalightgesture.
“ItwasthefashioninancientEgypt,”shesaid.“Loveinthoseolddayswasnot


whatitisnow,—oneglance,onesmilewassufficienttosetthesoulonfireand
drawanothersoultowardsittoconsumetogetherinthesuddenlykindledflame!
Andwomenveiledtheirfacesinyouth,lesttheyshouldbedeemedtooprodigal
oftheircharms;andinagetheycoveredthemselvesstillmoreclosely,inorder
nottoaffronttheSun-God’sfairnessbytheirwrinkles.”Shesmiled,adazzling
smilethatdrewGervaseyetafewstepscloserunconsciously,asthoughhewere
beingmagnetized.“ButIamnotboundtokeeptheveilalwaysup,”andasshe
spokeshelooseneditandletitfall,showinganexquisiteface,fairasalily,and
ofsuchperfectlovelinessthatthemenwhoweregatheredroundherseemedto
losebreathandspeechatsightofit.“Thatpleasesyoubetter,Mr.Murray?”
Denzilgrewverypale.Bendingdownhemurmuredsomethingtoherinalow
tone.Sheraisedherlovelybrowswithalittletouchofsurprisethatwashalf
disdain,andlookedathimstraightly.
“Yousayveryprettythings;buttheydonotalwayspleaseme,”sheobserved.
“However,thatismyfault,nodoubt.”
Andshebegantomoveonwards,herNubianpageprecedingherasbefore.
Gervasestoodinherpathandconfrontedherasshecame.
“Introduceme,”hesaidinacommandingtonetoDenzil.
Denzillookedathim,somewhatstartledbythesuppressedpassioninhisvoice.
“Certainly.Princess,permitme!”Shepaused,afigureofsilentgraceand
attention.“Allowmetopresenttoyoumyfriend,ArmandGervase,themost
famousartistinFrance—Gervase,thePrincessZiska.”
Sheraisedherdeep,darkeyesandfixedthemonhisface,andashelooked
boldlyatherinakindofaudaciousadmiration,hefeltagainthatstrange
dizzyingshockwhichhadbeforethrilledhimthroughandthrough.Therewas
somethingstrangelyfamiliarabouther;thefaintodorsthatseemedexhaledfrom
hergarments,—thegleamofthejewel-wingedscarabeionherbreast,—the
weirdlightoftheemerald-studdedserpentinherhair;andmore,muchmore
familiarthanthesetrifles,wasthesoundofhervoice—dulcet,penetrating,grave
andhauntinginitstone.
“Atlastwemeet,MonsieurArmandGervase!”shesaidslowlyandwitha
gracefulinclinationofherhead.“ButIcannotlookuponyouasastranger,forI


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