Tải bản đầy đủ

The insane root


TheInsaneRoot
byRosaPraed
1902


ChapterI
THEAMBASSADOR’SPHYSICIAN
IntheAbarianEmbassyinLondon,IsàdasPachalaysickuntodeath.Hewasan
oldman,anduponseveralpreviousoccasionswhenhehadbeenstrickenby
illnessitwasthoughtthathecouldnotrecover.Nevertheless,whennewspapers
andCabinetswerespeculatinguponhisprobablesuccessor,hehadinvariably
risenupfromhisbedandhadagainhandledthereins,continuingtotransactthe
dutiesofAmbassadortotheCourtofStJames’sentrustedtohimbyhisImperial
master.
HewasgreatlyinthefavourofhisEmperor,andwas,afterhisownfashion,a
powerinthecourtsofEurope.Thoughitwassaid,andindeedwithtruth,that
mostofthebusinessoftheChancellerywascarriedonbyhisclever,fascinating
andambitiousfirstsecretary,CasparRuelBey,itwasthebrainofIsàdasPacha
whichinspireddespatches,thehandofIsàdasPacha—thatshrivelled,forceful
hand—whichgavethelastdecisivetouchtothehelm.

IsàdasPachawasoldandhadlivedanunholylife.Hehadlovedmanywomen—
thepreyofsome,thetyrantofothers—haddrunkmuchwine,hadgambledand
foughtandrollicked,hadnourishedrevengeuponthefruitofdiabolical
knowledge,hadstrangebywaysofintrigue,viceandofwisdomwherewaslittle
goodandmuchevil.Hehad,infact,toquoteanaustereLondonsurgeonwho
attendedhim,violatedeverylawofhealth,moralsandreligion,andwasa
standingdisproofofthepowerofthoselaws.Forhismarvellousvitalityandhis
commandingintellecthadbroughthimsuccessfullythroughavariedcareer,to
whatnow-atitsclose,seemedtheveryzenithofinfluenceandpopularity.Nor
weretheinfluenceandpopularityundeserved.Hehadbeenafaithfulservantto
aneffeteanddemoralisedcivilisation—astatewhichfromitsgeographical
positionwasatthattimeoneofthechieffactorsinChristianandMahometan
policy.Hehaddonehiscountry’swork—notalwaysrighteous—inmanylands,
andhadfeltthepulse-beatsofmanynations.HehadthewileoftheEastandthe
commonsenseoftheWest,andwasconsultedbybothinhoursofcrisisand
difficulty.Thedecorationsheapeduponhimhadbeengenuinelywon,andonlya
weekbeforehisillness,thelastandcrowningorderofmerit—thehighestgiftin
hissovereign’spowertobestow—hadbeensenthimwithanautographletter


fromthatsovereign,bywhomhewasbothlovedandtrusted.Theidealofan
autocraticsovereigntywastheidealtowhichIsàdasPachaclung.Ithadruledhis
actions;and’theglitteringjewelwhichrepresentedit,wasnowplacedbyhis
desire,atthefootofhisbed,andsolacedhisdyinghours.Thus,astrongand
lastingdevotionhadbeeninspiredinhimbytheoriginalofanoilpainting—the
portraitofamanwithregular,refinedfeatures,darkhauntingeyes,andan
expressionofthemostprofoundmelancholy,themostuttersatietytobeseenon
humancountenance—whichhungattheendofthelongsuiteofreceptionrooms
intheEmbassy,itsframesurmountedbythejewelledandgildedinsigniaof
Easternmonarchy.ThiswastheportraitofhismostsacredMajesty,Abdullulah
Zobeir,EmperorofAbaria.
ItwasinobediencetothisdevotionthatIsàdasPacha,whentakenillata
watering-placetowhichhisdoctorsrecommendedhim,haddesiredthathe
shouldbebroughtbacktoLondoninorderthathemightdieundertheImperial
flag.
Thefloatedlimplyoverthegreyroofandstraightunlovelywallsofthe
Embassy.Therewasscarcelyabreathofwindintheheavy,exhaustedLondon
atmosphere—theatmosphereofaLondonAugust.Certainlyitwasonlythefirst
weekinAugustandParliamentwasnotup,andtherewasastreamofsmart
carriagesdrawingupinfrontofthecornerhouseofthatdull,old—fashioned


Londonsquare,onepatchofwhichhadbeenforsolongapieceofAbarian
territory.Fromthecarriagestiredfootmenalighted,andcardswereleftand
inquiriesweremade.Insomecasestheanswerstotheinquirieswerebroughtout
andrepeatedtobeautifully-dressedladies,pasttheiryouthmaybe—ladieswhom
presumablythePachahadlovedoradmired.ThePachawaswittyandamusing,
whilehispositionwassuchthatwomenstilllikedtobeadmired,evenloved,by
him,thoughhewasnotveryfarfromeighty.Inotherinstancestheinquiries
wereevidentlymerelyperfunctory—officialtributestohisdiplomaticstatus.
Royalmessengerscameandreceivedwithabecomingexpressionofconcernthe
doctors’bulletin,andminorroyaltiescalledpersonally.Oneortwogreatladies,
stillinLondon,leftbouquetsofflowersorscribbledontheircardsmessagesof
sympathy.Allthesewerecarriedtotheante-chamberofthePacha’sroomthathe
mighthimselfbemadeawareofthesemarksofattention,uponwhichhelaid
muchstore.Andtheoldman,evenhisgreatsickness,gloatedoverthecardsand
theflowersandtheroyalmessagesofsympathy.
Itwasjustafteroneofthesegreatpersonageshadcalledanddeparted,thata


quietdoctor’sbroughamdroveuptotheEmbassy.Therehadbeenotherdoctors’
broughamstherealready.Specialistshadbeensummonedinconjunctionwith
thePacha’sregularattendant;butinAugust,manyoftheprincipalLondon
physiciansareoutoftown.Perhapsitwaspartlyonthisaccount,partlybecause
hehadalreadymetprivatelyandhadinterestedthePacha,partlybecausehewas
thecousinofRuelBeythefirstsecretary,thatDoctorMarillierhadbeencalled
in.
DoctorMarillierwasnotagreatLondondoctor—one,thatistosay,whohas
wonhispositionstepbystepandinaccordancewiththetraditionsoftheCollege
ofPhysiciansandallthewrittenandunwrittenlawsofBritishmedicaletiquette.
Thoughtoallintentsandpurposes,hewasBritish,hebelongedbydescenttoa
Jerseyfamily.HismotherwasaGreekandhersisterhadmarriedthefatherof
RuelBey,amanwhoseexactnationalityitwouldhavebeendifficultto
determine.DoctorMarillierhadtakenhisdegreeinParis,andhadsubsequently
practisedinAlgeria,wherehehadimbibedsomeout-of-the-waytheoriesof
medicinefromhisfriend,thatverysingularEasternphysicianknownasthe
MedicineMoor.Hehadneverfollowedthebeatentrack,andthoughduringthe
lastyearortwohehadsettledhimselfasaconsultingphysicianinLondon,he
waslookeduponassomethingofaquackbyhismedicalbrethrenandsuspected
ofunprofessionalpractices.Earlyinhiscareerhehadacknowledgedhimself,in
aseriesofarticleswrittenundertheshadowoftheSalpêtrière,afollowerof
Charcot.ThenhehadbecomeaneagerdiscipleoftheastronomerFlammarion,
andlater,anavowedstudentofhypnotismaccordingtothemethodsofthe
Nancyschool.ProbablyhewouldneverhavegainednotorietyinLondon,hadit
nothappenedthatbychancehewascalledintoanimportantpublicpersonage,
andhadcuredthatpersonageindefianceoftheverdictsofotherwell-known
physicians.Thiscurehadcausedhimtobetalkedabout.Moreover,his
relationshiptothedelightfulfirstsecretaryattheAbarianEmbassy,hadbrought
himintosomesocialprominence.
DoctorMarillier’scousin,RuelBey,wasoneofthemostpopularyoungmenin
London.ItwashewhomadetheballsattheAbarianEmbassyafeatureofthe
Londonseason.Heactedwell,hesangwell,hedanceddivinely.Inthosedays,
thecotillonhadjustbecomeafashionablecraze,andnohostessofthegreat
worldthoughtherentertainmentcompleteunlessRuelBeyorganisedandledthe
figures.DoctorMarillierdidnotdancethecotillon,didnotsing,didnotact,had
notthatpeculiarcharmofmannerwhichisfoundinbothmenandwomenof
mixednationality,buthehadgiftsofhisown,powersofhisown,evenacertain


oddcharmallhisown.
LucienMarilliersteppedoutofhisbroughamandrangatthegreatdoubledoor
oftheEmbassy.Thedoorwasopenedontheinstant;thehall-porterbeingthe
oneservantinthehousewhoseofficeatthattimewasnosinecure.
Incongruously,assomepeoplethought,therewasnotouchoftheEastaboutthe
Pacha’sestablishment.Hishall-porterwaslikethehall-porterofallother
personstowhomsuchafunctionaryisindispensable,andsatinachairthat
mighthavebeenbuilt—probablywasbuilt—inthereignofQueenAnne.Forthe
EmbassyhadAdamsceilingsandGeorgianstaircases,andpanellingsremoved
fromamansioninBloomsbury,andithadbeendecoratedandfurnishedinthe
earlyVictorianepoch,andwasallloftiness,mahogany,gilding,barenessand
anachronisms,with,allthrough,atouchofforeignlandsandasuggestion,
mainlyunderthesurface,ofthesensuousEast.
Thebutler,withhisfollowingoffootmen,whoappearedinanswertoDoctor
Marillier’srequestthatRuelBeymightbeinformedofhisarrival,wasabland,
portly,andwhollyEnglishofficial,quiteinkeepingwiththeAdamsfriezeand
theearlyVictoriandecoration.
Heusheredthevisitorintoaroomleadingoffthecentralhallandtherelefthim.
DoctorMarillierwaited.Hisportraitmighthavebeendrawnashestood
perfectlyimmovableagainstthemarblemantelpiece.Ashortman,with
shouldersdisproportionatelybroadinregardtohisheight,thick,andslightly
hunched.Outoftheungainlyshouldersroseaheadwhich,thoughugly,would,
haditbeenplaceduponacommandingform,havemadeDoctorLucien
Marillieroneofthemostdistinguished-lookingmenofhisday.Astrikinghead,
withdarkishhairgettinggreyatthetemples,combedbackfromanintellectual
browandcroppedclosebehind;ruggedfeatures,athin,slightlybeakednose,
andlipssharplycurved,extremelyflexible,theupperoneinitsdefinedlinesand
firmmoulding,showingwill,orderandlogic,theunderone,protrudingeverso
little,hintingattheemotional;thefaceclean-shavenandgivingacurious
impressionofgreyness;theskinfine,thejawstrong,acleftinthecentreofthe
chin;theeyesgrey,keen,penetrating,somewhatpaleandcold,withablackline
roundtheiris,andchanging,whenfeelingwasaroused,toagreylikethatofdull
steel.Thehandswerecapable,deft,strongandtender,withbroad,softfingers,
longandsquareatthetips,andafullflexiblethumb—thetypicaldoctor’shands.
AdooropeningattheendofthisroomdisclosedtheChancellery,along,sombre


room,decorouslybusy,wherefezzedheadswerebendingoverwriting-tablesset
hereandtherebeneaththewindows.RuelBeyhimselfcouldbeseen,througha
secondfoldingdoor,inaninnerandmoreluxuriously-furnishedapartment,
wherehewaswritinghastily.
Presentlyherose,sayingawordortwoinFrenchtooneoftheattachés,and
comingthroughtheouterroom,heclosedthedoorbehindhimandadvanced
withoutstretchedhandstogreethiscousin.
‘Athousandpardons.ItwasabsolutelynecessaryitIshouldleaveadespatch
readytobecopied.ThePacha’sseizurethrowsagreatdealuponme.You
understand,Lucien?’
‘Perfectly.YourcreditattheCourtofAbariadependsuponthewayinwhich
youdealwiththiscrisis,eh?’
‘Oh,astothat!’TheyoungmanshruggedhisshouldersintheinimitableFrench
manner.‘Isàdasleftmostthingstome,buthiswastheresponsibility.The
EmperorwassatisfiedwhileIsàdassignedand,ashebelieved,inspired.It’s
extraordinarytheconfidencetheyhaveoverthereinIsàdas.Butnowthathe
cannotsign!…Andthewholewasps’nestofintriguerswillbebuzzingroundthe
Emperor’sears…Well,thetimeisnotripe!HisExcellencymustnotdie,Lucien.
Formysakedowhatyoucantosavehim.’
‘IwilldowhatIcan,notforyoursake,butfirstlyforthesakeofmyprofession
—secondly,forthatofIsàdasPachahimself,andthirdly,forthatofEuropean
interests.NottospeakoftheEmperorofAbaria,whoreliesatthispolitical
junctureuponhisrepresentative’sappreciationoftheEnglishnational
temperament.’
DoctorMarillierspokecoldly.Hisdeepvoicevibratedwhenhealludedtothe
sacredobligationsofhisprofession.Hisaccenthadaburr,dueprobablytohis
foreignextraction.‘Don’tletuswastetime,’headded.‘TakemetothePacha.’
RuelBeynoddedandimmediatelyledthewayupthebroadstaircase,stopping,
ashepassedthroughtheballtospeaktothebutler,desiringhimtoinform
MademoiselleIsàdasthatDoctorMarillierhadcome.
Thedoubledoorsofwhiteandgoldleadingtothereception-roomsseemedtobe
guardedbyalargestuffedleopardlookingasthoughitwereabouttospring.


Marillierstoppedforamomentbeforeit.Hehadbeentoldthatitwasfromthe
springofthisveryleopardthatIsàdasPachahadsavedtheEmperorofAbaria,
andthusearnedthemonarch’slastinggratitude.
‘MademoiselleIsàdaswillwishtospeaktoyou,saidRuelBeytohiscousin.
‘Shetoldmelastnightthatshehadgreatfaithinyouandthatshebelievedyou
wouldcurethePacha.’
‘ItrustthatImayjustifyMademoiselleIsàdas’sfaith,’repliedthedoctor,‘but
thePachaisanoldman.’
‘Yethehasthevitalityofthedevil.FfolliotandCarusSpencergavehimover
lasttime,andherecoverednotwithstanding.Butdowhatyoucantoreassure
RachelIsàdas.Sheisgenuinelydistressedatthethoughtthathemaydie,and,
fromthemeremundaneandselfishpointofview,wellshemaybe.’
DoctorMarillierlookedattheyoungmankeenlyandnotaltogetherapprovingly.
‘Why?Iaskfromthemundanepointofview.’
‘Oh,well,herpositionwouldbedifferent.Onecannevertellhowfarshewould
beprovidedfor.IsàdasPachahaslivedlikearichman,buthehasneverbeen
wealthy,andIbelievethereisalawintherepublicofAvaranwhichrequiresthat
halfaman’spossessionsmustgowhenhediestohislegitimatekin.Youknow
ofcoursethatIsàdasisAvaranesebybirth,andIhavenoideawhetherhehas
disposedofhisfamilyestatesoriftheywereconfiscatedintherevolution.His
realnameisVarenzi,andIsàdas,sotospeak,anofficialtitle.Thoughthe
AbarianGovernmentemploysfewAbarians,itinsiststhatitsofficialsshall,
technicallyspeaking,beAbarian.Bytheway,however,talkingofthelawof
inheritanceinAvaran,IhaveneverheardthatIs-dashasasingle—legitimate—
relation.’
AgainDoctorMarillier’skeeneyessearchedhiscousin’sface.Theywere
standinginthefirstofthe—reception-rooms,adesertofgildingandupholstery,
withahugecrystalchandelierinthecentre,andatoneend,justoverthetwo
men,thatmelancholyandhauntingportraitoftheEmperorofAbaria.Amessage
hadbeensentapprisingtheAmbassador’snurseofDoctorMarillier’sarrival.
‘YouimplywhatIhavenotaltogetherunderstood.Ihaveonlyseen
MademoiselleIsàdasonce—atthelastballhere.Igleanedthenthatherposition


wasequivocal.WhatisherexactrelationtothePacha?’
AgainRuelBeyshrugged,andtheshrugwaseloquent.‘Theworldwilltellyou
thatsheishisniece—whenitspeaksofficially.Butalltheworldknowsthatshe
isnothisniece,andwouldnothesitatetosayso—unofficially.Buteven
officiallysheisnotrecognised.ItisasignificantfactthatMademoiselleIsàdas
hasnotattendedoneoftheQueen’sdrawing-rooms,andthatshedoesnotwear
theorderoftheLeopardandtheLotuswhichtheEmperorofAbariaalways
presentstoadaughterofanambassador,ortoanofficially-recognisednieceof
anambassador,whensheistheonlyladyintheEmbassy—inthatcaseevento
thewifeofthefirstsecretary.’
DoctorMarilliermadeagestureofextremedisapproval.
‘Idisliketohearyouspeakinthatway,Caspar.Yougavemetheimpressionthat
youwantedtomarryMademoiselleIsàdas.’
RuelBeysmiled.
‘ThewifeofanaspiringMinister,apotentialAmbassador,mustbe,likeCæsar’s
wife,abovesuspicion—atanyrate,asregardshersocialantecedents.Iconfess
thatIshouldprefertomarryaladywithnohazinessaboutherparentage…But—
wearehuman,Lucien,andapairoflovelyeyesisapttoplaythedeucewith
suchprejudice.’
Atthatmomentanurseadvancedtowardsthedoorofthesecondreceptionroom.Hereweremassedthebouquets,andherelaythecardsandnotessentby
royal,diplomaticandsocialadmirersofthePacha.DoctorMarillieratonce
proceededtothedooroftheAmbassador’sbedroom,whichopenedoffthe
furthestapartmentofthesuite—thatwhichwashisusualsitting—room.Ruel
Beyremainedinthesecondreception-roomidlysniffingatabouquetoforchids
andsprigsofscentedverbena.Herealso,ashewaited,anillustratormighthave
foundsubjectandopportunity.Inoddcontrasttohiscousinthedoctor,striking
aswasthepersonalityofeach,RuelBeyhadthefaceandformofaHermes—
theApollosseemmostlyinsufficientlyvirileforcomparison.Onecould,
however,imagineRuelBeywithwingedfeet,andthemusculardevelopment
presumablytobeassociatedwithanOlympianmessenger.Certainlyhemight
havebeenmodelledasaHermes,saveforhisBondStreetget-up,hismoustache
andthefez.Thefez,however,gaveacertainoutlandishdistinction,anditsdeep


redenhancedthebrilliancyofhisdarkeyes,theclearnessofhisoliveskin,and
thesheenofafewcurlingtendrilsofdarkhairshowingbeneathitonneckand
brow.Asonelookedathimonethoughtinstinctivelyofgrapeleaves,ofhoneythroatedsong,oftheloveofwomen,andthegloryofyoung-limbedstrength.Yet
thoughherewastheoldjoyinlifeoftheOlympians,therewassomething,too,
ofthelaterHellenism,somethingofmodernGreekcraft,atouchofimported
Easternsensuousness;much,too,ofself-interest.Thatwastobereadat
moments,intheshiftygleamofhisfull,softeyes,intheripenessofhisfruit-like
mouth,incertaincharmingmannerismsthatdidnotbreatheawholehearted
sincerity.Hewaslessofaman’sthanofawoman’sman.
Womenareintuitive,butwheretheyloveandadmire,theydonotanalyse.
Probablyfewofthegreatladieswhopettedhim,ofthenobly-bornwomenwho
wouldhavemarriedhimhadhebeenalittlericher,alittlemorehighlyplaced—
orofthelessfrailercreatureswhoidolisedhimforayear,amonth,aweek—
werecapableofanalysingRuelBey.Heappealedtothesensesofwomen,notto
thesoul.


ChapterII
RACHEL
Thedoorintothevestibuleopened.Therewasalightstepupontheparquetof
theouterreception-room.RuelBeyputdownthebouquet,detachingasprigof
verbena,whichhefastenedintohisbuttonhole.Hishandtrembledashedidso;
heknewthestep,andhewantedtogaintimeandtoconcealhisagitation.
Presentlyhelookedup,apparentlyfrank,bright,welcoming.Agirlapproached
throughtheornamentedfoldingdoors.
‘MonsieurRuel,’shebeganinformal,hesitatingaccents;thenglancinground
andseeingthathewasalone,advancedlesstimidly.Heputouthishand,and
withthatgraceandcharmwhichallwomenloved,drewhertoaseat.
‘Dearest,’hemurmured.
Sheshrankalittle.
‘No…Idon’tthinkyouought….Yourcousinishere.’
‘Ihavetoldhimyouwishedtospeaktohim.IfanyonecansavethePacha,itis
LucienMarillier.’
‘Iknewthat…Ifeltsureofit.Hewillnotmindtellingmewhathereallythinks.’
‘Iwillleaveyoualonewithhimwhenhecomesout.Hewilltellyouthetruth—
asfarasdoctorseverItellthetruth.RememberthatExcellencyisanoldman.’
‘PoorExcellence,’saidthegirl,softly.‘Itmustbehardtolie,perhapsdying,and
tobe—sounloved.’
RuelBeywavedhishandovertheheapedflowersadthearrayofcards.‘Heis
honoured,andthatisbetterthanbeingloved.’
‘Doyouthinkso?Oh,no,Caspar,youdon’treallythinkso.’
‘No,’heanswered,comingclosertoher,andbendingforwardsothathislips


touchedherhair,‘Idon’tthinkso—whenIlookatyou.’
Thegirldidnotanswer.Sheseemedtobeponderinghiswords,andnot
altogetherwithsatisfaction.Hewithdrewapaceortwo,andleaningagainstthe
mantelpiece,hischeekuponhishand,lookeddownuponheradmiringlyasshe
satatthecornerofthefireplaceinalarge-armed,gildedchair.Shewasvery
beautiful.Themostambitiousofmenmightwellconsideritmoreimportantto
belovedbyherthanhonouredbytheworld.
Herabsoluteclaimstobeautysetaside,therewassomethingpeculiarly
attractive,and,atthesametime,peculiarlypathetic,aboutthisgirl.Sheshowed
raceineverylineofher.WasitfromthePachaorfromhermotherthatthiswas
inherited?ShewascalledthePacha’sniece;sheborehisname;itwassupposed
thatshewashisbrother’schild.Andyet,intheaccountsprintedofthePacha’s
lineageandcareer,nomentionwasmadeofhisbrother.Besides,RuelBeyhad
said,andalltheworldknew,thatIsàdaswasthetitularnamegivenwiththe
honoursthatEmperorhadconferred.Hebelongedtoafamilybeforeitbecamea
republic,hadsuppliedrulerstotheislandkingdomofAvaran.Therevolution
haddrivenhimthence,andinallthevigourofhismanhoodCountVarenzihad
enteredtheserviceAbdullulahZobeir,theyouthfulEmperorofAbaria.His
brother’schild,hadtherebeenone,wouldhaveinheritedthenameofVarenzi,
butRachelhadneverbeenknownsaveasMademoiselleIsàdas.Thatpathetic
lookinRachelIsàdascamefromtheblendingofevidentdignityofracewithan
expressionwistful,deprecating,shadowed,asofoneimpressedbyacertain
incongruityinherposition,andnotentirelyfreefromadreadofbeingslighted,
wereshetoassertthatposition.MademoiselleIsàdas’sproudlittleheadhada
timiddroop;herslenderform,inspiteofitsstatelycarriage,ashrinkingair,as
thoughshedreadedandwishedtoavoidobservation;hereyesastartled,almost
beseechinggaze,whenshewassuddenlyaddressedortakennoticeofbya
stranger.
Herheadlookedsmallforherbody,thoughshewastallandveryslight.Her
throat,too,wasunusuallyslender.Shehadpretty,soft,darkhair,thebrown
whichshowsreddishglints;herfacewasoval,thenosefinelychiselledanda
littleshort;theupperlipshorttooandextremelysensitive,likethatofachild,
aloneintheworld’sfair,andscarcelyknowingwhethertolaughortoweep.The
eyeswerebrown,soft,andplaintivelyappealing,withsomethingofthe
expressionintheeyesofaStBernarddog.


TheywerenotthebrightblackeyesoftheAvaranese,buthadasuggestionof
theEastintheirlongalmond-shapedlidsandtheirdreamyintensitywhenher
facewasinrepose,thoughtheywouldlightupatmomentswithachildlike
gladness,andhad,too,thelimpidpuritywhichoneseesintheeyesofachild.
Suddenlynow,sheglancedupatRuelBey’sface.Thetwolooksmet,andboth
underwentacuriouschange.Inbothpairsofeyesaflamewaskindled.A
magneticimpulsedrewthemanandwomantogether.Shehadrisen,andnow
moved,frightened,itseemed,ofthatveryimpulse,halfevadinghisoutstretched
arms.Adimpleinherthroatattractedhim.Heputhislipstoit,brushingthe
satinskinasifsavouringitssweetness,andardentlykissedtheflower-like
hollowatthebaseofherthroat.
‘Iloveyou,’hewhispered.
Tremblingslightly,sheshrankawayfromhim,andstoodwithbentheadand
cheeksfaintlyred.Again,hewouldhaveembracedher,butsherefusedthe
caress,notwithoutdignity.
‘Iloveyou,sweet,’herepeated.
‘Yousayso…but…’shespokewithhesitation.‘Itisnotfittingthatyoushould
tellmesointhisway.Itisnotthecustom.’
‘Theconventualcustom!’hesaid,withalaugh.‘Dearnun,weareinLondon—
notintheconvent.’
‘IwishthatIwerebackintheconvent,’shesaid,‘formanyreasons.’
‘Butyouwouldnotwishtobeanun?’heasked.
‘No.Ihavenotavocation.Butoneissafeintheconvent.’
‘Andyouarenotsafehere?Isthatwhatyoumean?’
‘Iwaspeacefulintheconvent,’sheexclaimed.‘Iwasnottornandtroubledand
frightenedbystrangethoughtsandfeelings—feelingsIhadneverknown
before.’
‘Foolishone,isitofthefeelingsthatyouareafraid?Whyfearwhatistheonly


thingworthlivingfor—love?’
‘Thereshouldbepeaceinlove,joyinlove—notterrorandunrest.’
‘Yetyouloveme,Rachel?Youcannotdenyit?’
‘Idon’tknow.HowcanItell?YourloveisnottheloveIhavedreamedof—read
of.Itisnotholy,pure,spiritual.Itisnot—’shestoppedshort.
‘NottheloveyouhavereadofinthejournalsofSaintTheresa—orinthe
MeditationsofStThomasàKempis?No,Igrantyouthat.Itisamorehuman
sortofthing.Athingoftheworld—possiblyofthedevil—notoftheChurch.’
Rachelshrankagain,andtherewaspuzzleanddeeperdreadinthestraightgaze
ofherbrowneyes.‘Oh,itiswhenyousaythingslikethat—it’sthatstraininyou
whichmakesmeafraid.Whyshouldyousay“notoftheChurch—possiblyof
thedevil?”Idon’tunderstand.TheblessingoftheChurch,shouldbeuponall
truelove.Marriageisasacrament.’
RuelBeygavethenamelessgesture—theinstinctivegestureofthesceptic.
‘HowmanyLondonmarriagesarewhatyoucallasacrament?ButIdon’twant
toarguethatpoint.ItisenoughformethatIloveyou.Yourprayers,dearsaint,
maycalldowntheecclesiasticalblessing.Assuredlymine—willnot.Iam
content—forthemoment—withloveitself,loveinitsleastspiritualaspect,its
mosthumanjoy.’
Thegirlblushedmoredeeply.Shewasstrugglingtogetoutsomewordswhich
weredifficult.
‘Isupposethatyoufeelasamanfeels.Icannottell.But—Idon’tknowwhatit
isinyouthatdrawsme,almostagainstmyself,andthenrepelsme.Youdonot
speakofloveas—’
‘AsSaintTheresaandStThomasàKempisspeakofit?’herejoinedwithtender
raillery.‘No.Ispeakofitasthediplomat,asthemanofcities,asonewho
belongstotheworldofmen,andnottotheceruleanheaven,mustspeakoflove.
Ihavebloodinmyveins,notcelestiallymph.Iwouldclaspthefleshratherthan
adorethespirit.IloveyouastheoldGreeksloved,asthemodernmanloves—
notafterthefashionofthemediævalmonk.ExceptFraLippoLippi.Hehadthe
couragetocarryoffhisnun.Igivehimgrace,andsalutehermemory.’


RuelBeylaughedandtouchedhisfingertips,blowingakisstothefair,frail
MadonnawhomLippihadlovedandpainted,withthatenchantingmannerism
which,inthedrawing-roomsofacertainsetofwomen,hadgainedhimthe
reputationofcultureofakind.
StillRachelhadnotsaidwhatshewishedtosay;andstilltheredinhercheeks,
whichwasthatpaleredpeculiartosuchatype,deepened,andherspeech
faltered.
‘Ididnotmeanwhatyouseemtothink.Icannotexplainmyselftomyself—how
muchlesstoyou!Ihavetoldyouthatyoudrawmetoyou—andyet,atthevery
moment,itisasthoughaninvisiblebarrierwereplacedbetweenus.AndIdo
understand.Thoughyoulaughattheconventualcustoms,Iamnotsoignorantas
youfancyofthewaysoftheworld.Youforgetthat,thoughitisonlyafew
monthssinceIlefttheconvent,Iamnearlytwenty-five,andthatisnotvery
young.Ihavehadfriendsamonggirlswhoweremarried,andIhaveseenhow
suchthingsarearrangedeveninLondon.You…Itisnowtwoweekssinceyou…
toldmethatyoulovedme.Ihavenomother—noonebutmyuncle,andhe
seemsstrangeandfaraway—butheismyguardian.And…and…youhavenot
askedmefromhim.’
‘Mychild,isitthatwhichistroublingyoursimplesoul!Theforeignbloodin
youspeaks,aswellastheFrenchbringing-up.Youexpectedaconseildefamille
—thebargainingaboutsettlements—theexactamountstipulatedforpin-money
—alltheordinarypreludesofmatrimony.Well,letmetellyoufranklythatI
havenoprivatemeans;thatithasalwaysbeenexpectedIshouldmarryafortune
insteadofbestowingone;that,inshort,fromtheworldlypointofview,there
wouldbemanydifficulties;thatforthemoment—tillIamappointedMinisterto
theCourtof—somelittleminorkingdom—andthat’sapoorenoughbasisof
negotiationsinthematterofpin-moneyandsettlements—Ican’t—’
‘Oh!No!No!’thegirlinterrupted,overcomewithshame.‘Howcouldyou
supposethatIthoughtofsuchthings?Youknow…youknow…’
‘Iknowthatyouareadorable.IknowthatIyou.Iknowthatwhenwearealone
together,Icannotbowandgiveyoumyfingertipsasifweweredancinga
minuet.Iknowthatthetemptationofthatfascinatingdimple,andofthosesweet
lips,remindmesomehowoftheSongofSolomon,can’tberesisted.Iknowthat
Iwanttosipthehoney,tosnatchthejoy,andtoforgetthesordiddetailswhich,


inanycase,dear,shouldnotbeforcedintothecriticalhoursofaseriousillness.
Wait!ListentowhatMarillierhastosay.IthinkIhearhimcomingoutnow
fromthePacha’sroom.Iwillleaveyoutohaveyourtalk.’


ChapterIII
THEDOCTORANDTHEWOMAN
Thegirlsatdownagainresignedly,palenow,notgreatlyreassured,still,obliged
toconfessthattherewasreasoninCasparRuel’swords,andpartlyashamedof
whatshethoughthemusthavefanciedherowngraspingattitude.
‘Forgiveme,’shemurmured,andhegaveheralong,ardentlook,kissedher
hand,andwentoutthroughthefoldingdoors,justasthecurtainsseparatingthis
roomfromthePacha’ssanctumweredrawnasidebythenurseforDoctor
Marilliertopassthrough.
Rachelroseathisentranceandadvanced.Asshefacedhim,hereyeseager,her
wholecountenancemovedandsoftenedbytheemotionshehadbeen
experiencing,Marillierwasalmosttakenabackbyherextraordinarybeauty.He
stoodawkwardly,thehunchofhisshouldersaccentuatedbyhishesitation,his
strongfacereflectingbothsidesofhisnature,thehumanandtheprofessional.
HehadbeendeeplyinterestedinthePacha’scase.Hisbrainwasworkingout
theories;hewasweighingtheforcesofdiseaseandlifewithwhichhehadto
deal.Forthemomenthehadforgotteneverythingelse,andthesightofRachel,
settingintovibrationchordsinhim,ofwhichhehadhardlysuspectedthe
existence,wasunexpectedlydisturbing.
‘DoctorMarillier,shesaid,withherairoftimidself-possession—ofwithdrawal
intoherownsanctuarywhichwassomarkedwhenshespoketoastranger,‘Ruel
Beysaidyouwouldbekindenoughtotellmeexactlywhatyouthinkofthe
Pacha’scondition.’
Sheheldoutherhand,notwaitingforhimtoanswer.‘ThoughIdidnotspeakto
you,Ithinkwehaveseeneachotherbefore,’shewenton.‘IamRachelIsàdas;
ofcourseyouknow.’
‘Yes,’hereplied,itseemedtohimmechanically.‘OfcourseIknow.’
‘AndyouwereatthePacha’slastball?’shesaid.
‘Yes.’


Herememberedherwell,andtheindefinableattractionshehadeventhenhad
forhim—thecuriouspitythathehadfelt,andhisvaguewonderabouther;forit
hadstruckhimasstrangethatsheshouldbeatonce,soneartothePachaandyet
outsidethestateandceremonywithwhichonthisoccasionhewassurrounded.
TherewerenootherladiesbelongingtotheAbarianEmbassy,fornoneofthe
secretariesweremarried.Shewasacomparativelynewarrivalonthescene,it
beingherfirstseasoninLondon,thusthefactofherisolation,soapparentto
him,mightnothaveimpressedthecasualcrowd.Herecalledthescene—the
greatgildedballroom,withmirrorsatintervalsalongthewalls,reflectingback
thelightsanddiamonds,theformsandfaces,allthethrongofbeautifullydressedwomenandofmeninuniformwithribbonsandordersontheirbreasts.
ThePachahadstoodjustoutsidethedoorway,abovewhichwasagreat
emblazonedshieldwiththeStaroftheEmpireandamottointhepictorial
Abariancharacter,receivinghisguestsastheycameandpassedthroughtothe
ballroom.ThePacha’sbreastglitteredwithmanydecorations;intruthhewasthe
mostpicturesqueandstrikingfigurepresent.Itseemedalmostbydesignthathe
wassostationedasnottoadmitofanotherpersonbetweenhimselfandthedoor,
andthepeopleentering,mightnotatfirsthavenoticedthetallslendergirlapace
within,whostoodbehindthePacha,andwholooked,asMarillierhadputitto
himself,likeanangeldroppeddownfromheaven.
Anangelnotentirelyatease,however,butbewilderedbythesituationinwhich
shefoundherself,andunconsciouslyrealisingthat,thoughmakingatinypartof
thissplendidworldoffashionanddiplomacy,sheneverthelessdidnotbelongto
it.Hisphysician’seyetoldhimthatshewasnervous,andthatitwasbythe
greatesteffortthatshemaintainedhercalmdignity.Forshewasverydignified.
Herquietude,hersimplicity,theslightdroopofherhead,andherinvoluntary
shrinkingfromobservationwhich,erectlythoughsheheldherself,wasso
evidenttohim,onlyenhancedthedignity.Howbeautifulshelooked!Herbrown
eyesshonelikestars.Herclearpalecheeks,slightlytingedwithpink,reminded
himoftheinnerpetalsofacertainwhiterose,herlongslenderneckofthewhite
calyxofatropicalflower,andthesensitivelipswiththeirpatheticdroop,a
threadofscarlet,were,inthephraseusedbyRuelBey,asthelipsofthatfairest
amongwomenintheSongofSolomon.Shehadwornawhitesatingownwith
softfillingsanddraperies,andsomeliliesatherbreast.Shecarriedabouquetof
thesameEucharislilies,androundherneckwasasinglestringofpearls,her
onlyornament.Shehadnoordersnorribbons,andherlittleheadboreneither
starsnortiara.Soshestood,anexquisiteand,tohim,patheticallyforlornfigure,
andnooneseemedtoremarkthepathosandforlornnessofherexcepthimself.


Onceortwice,thePachawouldturnandinformallyintroducehertosomelady
whomhegreeted,butshewasnotpresentedtothegreatestoftheroyalladies
whomthePachahaddescendedthestairstowelcome,andithadbeenquiteclear
that,officiallyspeaking,shewasnotrecognised.DoctorMarillierobservedthat
onegreatlady,alesserlightamongtheroyalpeople,lookedatthegirlwitha
motherlycuriosityandkindliness,andmadeanoccasiontonoticeher.Thatroyal
ladywaseverafterwardsendearedtotheheartofthedoctor,andhehadbeen
pleasedwiththegraceofMademoiselleIsàdas’scurtsey,andthesoftshy
lightingupofherpensiveface.Lateron,whenthedancingbegan,abevyof
would-bepartnerscrowdedroundthegirl,andafterthat,hehadonlyseenheras
shewhirledroundinawaltzorplayedherpartinthecotillonledbyRuelBey.
Hehadnoticedhiscousin’sadmiration,andawordortwothathehadbychance
overheardpassbetweenthem,madehimfeelsurethatRuelBeylovedthe
Ambassador’snieceanddesiredtomarryher.
Hewashardlyaware,ashismemorywentbacktothissceneandthethoughtsit
hadevoked,howawkwardlyhestoodnowafterthatmonosyllabic‘Yes,’and
howlongthegirl,tooshytoaskhimmoredirectlyhisprofessionalopinion,
waitedforhimtodeliverit.
Atlastshesaid,seatingherselfagaininthebiggildedchair,andmotioninghim
toasetteeopposite,—
‘DoctorMarillier,youwilltellmehowyoufindthePacha—whatyoureally
thinkofhisstate?’
‘Thatisalittledifficultformetoputintoclearwords,MademoiselleIsàdas.’
‘Perhaps,’shewenton,‘youareafraid;youthinkitmaybetoogreatashockfor
metohearthetruth.ButIwouldalwayswishtoknowthetruthaboutathing
thatconcernsmedeeply,eventhoughitmightbeashock.’
Herememberedthosewordsofherslongafterwards.Atthetime,hewas
gaugingherwiththosekeendoctor’seyes,weighinginhismind,hercapacityto
beartheshockofacrueltruth,andhecametotheconclusionthatherwords
wereliterallytrue,andthatshewasoneofthosewomenwithwhomadoctor
maybecandid.
‘Ioughtperhapstotellyou,’shesaid,mistakingthemotiveofhisslight
hesitation,thatif—ifyouthoughtillofhiscondition,theshockwouldnotbeso


greattomeasthoughIhadlivedalwayswiththePacha,asthoughIwerehis
daughter,orhadbeenhiscompanionformanyyears.
IhavebeenjustafewmonthsattheEmbassy,andbeforethat,Icanonly
rememberseeingthePachathreeorfourtimeswhenhecametomyconvent.So
wehavenotbeenveryclosetoeachother.Idon’twantyoutothink,’sheadded
hastily,‘thatIamnotsincerelyattached—thatIdonotappreciatethePacha’s
greatgoodnesstome.HeisallIhaveintheworld,andifExcellenceweretaken
away,Ishouldbelonelyindeed.’
Thelittlenoteofemotioninhervoicetouchedhiminexpressibly.Shemustin
verytruthbelonelyifthelossofthatcynical,selfisholdreprobatewouldbethe
lossofheronlynaturalprotector.
‘Itrust,MademoiselleIsàdas,thathisExcellencywillbesparedtoyoufora
littlewhileyet,ifIamcorrectinmydiagnosis,andampermittedtocarryoutthe
treatmentIpropose.InfactImaysaythatIamsurehislifecanbesaved—for
thepresent.’
‘Cananyonebesure?’shesaidwistfully,struckbythemasterfulnessofthe
man’stone.‘OnlyGodcanbesure.Butoh!DoctorMarillier,Iamverythankful
forwhatyousay,andIbelieveit.Youmakeruefeelthatyouwouldnotspeak
likethisunlessyouwereconfidentofyourpower.’
‘Iamconfident,’hereplied.‘Iwilltellyouwhy.Yousaythatnoonecanbesure
butGod;anditmaybethatwedoctorshaveadifferentconceptionoftheForce
whichmadelifeandordaineddeaththanthatwhichhasbeentaughtyouinyour
convent.Perhapsitisthatwehavenoconceptionatall;thatweareagnosticsin
thetruesenseoftheword;thatecclesiasticismistoussomuchmummery,and
creedsanddogmasallequallymeaninglessandunsatisfactory.Butthereisa
Forcewecannotdeny,aSomethingoutsideourselveswhichruleslifeand
decreesdeath,anditisonlywhen,insomedimmannerwhichIcan’texplain
eventomyself,IcomeintorelationwiththisForce—onlythenthatIcanbe
sure.Thatdoesnotalwayshappen;ithappensrarely.ButwhenIhavemademy
diagnosisandamsure,notthewholeCollegeofPhysiciansagainstmewould
shakemyopinion.IcancurethePasha.ForhowlongIwillnotsay.Heisavery
oldman,andalreadyhislifehasreachedtheordinaryspan.’
Herlookofwistfulwonderdeepenedtooneofchildliketrust.


‘Youarestrong,’shesaid.‘Ilikeamantobestrong;andtherearesofew—so
veryfewmenuponwhomonecanlean.’
‘Youmightleanuponme,’saidDoctorMarillier,‘andIshouldnotfailyou.Of
that,too,Iamsure.’
Hebentalittleforward,andasheutteredthewords,puthistwohandsdownflat
uponhiskneesasthoughtoemphasisethedeclaration.Shecouldnothelp
noticinghishands.
‘Youarestrong,’sherepeated;‘yourhandsarestrong.’
‘Theyoughttobe,’heanswered;‘theyhaveperformedmanydifficult
operations.’Andthenhewasinwardlyjarredbyhisownprofessionalplainspeaking.Thiswasnotthewaytotalktoayoungdelicategirl.Whatshouldshe
knowaboutoperations?Hisbluntnessdidnotappeartohavestruckher.Shewas
interested,andhereyesremainedstillfixeduponthosefirmdefthands.
‘IfIwereveryill,andneededtohaveanoperationperformedthatwouldcureor
killme,Iwouldaskyoutodoit,’shesaid;‘thatis,ifyousaidtome,Iknow—’
‘IfIsaid,“IknowthatIcancureyou”!’hereturned.‘Oh,thenitwouldbeeasy
totrustme,fordoctorsdonotsay“Iknow”aboutoperationsunlesstheyfeel
sure.ButifIsaid,“Idonotknow,andyoumustruntheriskoflifeordeath,”
whatthen?’
‘Iwouldtrustyoustill,’shereplied.‘Anditmightbe,’sheaddedthoughtfully,
‘thatthetrustingwouldnotbesodifficult,northeuncertaintysohardtobear.I
donotthinkthatlifeisverygood,andsometimesonemightalmostpreferdeath
ifitwereGod’swill.Thenonewouldbesureofbeinghappy.’
‘ThatiswhatyourChurchteachesyou.YouareaCatholic,ofcourse?Soam—
sowasI.ButhowaboutPurgatory?’
‘Perhaps,’shesaid,‘tosome,lifeistheworstPurgatoryGodwillcalluponusto
endure.’
Hegaveaqueerlittlelaugh.
‘That’strue.Iwouldn’taskaworsePurgatoryformybitterestenemy,supposing


Ihadone,thancertainportionsoutofmyownlife.I,too,haveknownwhat
lonelinessis,MademoiselleIsàdas…Butthisisnotbusiness,andIdon’tknow
whyI’mtalkingtoyouinsuchanoddway.Youmustthinkmeaqueersortof
doctor.YetI’mverygladwe’vetalkedso,foritmakesmeunderstandyoubetter.
YoursayingthatyouwouldtrustmeifIsaid“Iknow”inthecaseofan
operation,or,whatisbetter,ifIsaid“Idon’tknow,”makesitmucheasierforme
totellyouthatthePacha’slifedependsuponanoperationthatIwishtoperform
andwhichIknowwillsucceed.PerhapsIshouldsaythatitdependsevenmore
uponanaftertreatmentwhichIfancyfewEnglishphysicianswouldendorse…
Butthere’snouseintalkingtechnicalitiestoyoungladies—theywouldn’t
understandthem.’
‘Idon’twanttechnicalities.Youarequiteright,Ishouldn’tunderstandthem,’
shesaid,withhersweetgirl’slaugh,thatsoundedtothedoctorlikedistantbells
oversnow.‘Itrustyouabsolutely,DoctorMarillier,andthankyou—thankyou.
Youhaveliftedaweightfrommyheart.NowIcanbealmosthappyagain.’
‘Almosthappy!’Thesenseofpathosinconnectionwithher,returnedtohim
withthat‘almost.’Hegotup;sherosetoo,andthegirlandthismanstoodfacing
eachotherastheothermanandthegirlhadfacedeachother.RuelBeyhad
toweredaheadandahalfabovethistinyheaduponitscalyxthroat.AsDoctor
Marillierstooderect,withframesquared,hisstrong,determinedfacewas,if
anything,onalowerlevelthanherown.Thecontrastcameuponherwithanodd
impressiveness.Howwasitpossiblethatthetwomenweresonearlyrelated?In
temperament,incharacter,notwobeingscouldbemoreapart.Andeachmanin
hiswayhadaforcefulnesswhichshecouldnotwithstand.Shefelt,ina
frightenedmanner,thatRuelBeywouldexercisecompletecontroloveroneside
ofhernature,andthatside,theonesheleastcomprehended.Anothersideofher
would,sheknew,beaffectedtoanenormousdegreebyDoctorMarillier,and
thissideshewasnotafraidof,thoughit,too,shedidnotquiteunderstand.
Hetookherhandinhis.Thelittlesensitivehand,whichseemedtohimlikea
bundleofnervestiedtogether,thrilledathistouch—thrilledforasecondonly,
thenquietedundertheconsciousnessofmasteryandofrestfulness.Hismedical
knowledgetoldhimthathecouldhealthfullymagnetisethegirl.Certainnerves
inher,respondedsympatheticallytoapowerwhichhewasawarehecould
wield.Thatpowerwasinhimselfandyetwasoutsidehimself.Heassociatedit
insomewaywiththeForceofwhichhehadspoken,andwhichwashis
synonymforherconceptionofGod.DoctorMarillierdidnotbelieveinthe


Churches’God,buthebelievedinaForce,justashebelievedinthelawof
gravitation,inthelawofchemicalaffinities,ofmentalaffinities,suchaswere
exemplifiedintelepathyandhypnotism,inthelawofevolution,incertainother
evenmoresubtle,moreoccultlaws,thathismedicalexperiencehadcompelled
himtorecognise—mysteriesoftheuniverseonlytobeattributedtotheactionof
aFirstCause,expressedbywordsandsymbolsthatwerebutwordsand
symbols,andafterall,neverreallytouchedtheheartofthemystery.Thesewere
realitiestobeadmitted,butnottobeexplainedaseitherspiritualormaterial—
thoughhistendency,asthatofmostscientists,wastotheexplanationthatallis
matterinamoreorlessrarefiedform.RachelIsàdasherselfwassensibleofthe
soothingeffectofhistouch.Shewithdrewherhandslowly.‘Youfeelstrong,’
shesaid.‘Yes,Itrustyou.’
‘Trustmealways.TrustmeinthematterofthisoperationuponthePacha.There
youaresafe.IcanbetrustedinthemostelementarysensebecauseIknow.But
trustme,too,whereIdon’tknow.’
‘DoctorMarillier,thatseemsastrangethingforyoutosaytomeonthefirst
occasionofourspeakingtogether,andyet,thoughitisstrange,itisnatural.’
‘Itisnatural,’heanswered,‘becauseitcomesoutofthatfacultyIpossessof
seeingwithmyinnereyesthingsbeyond.Don’taskmetoexplainthefaculty.
Thatwaymadnesslies.Idonotattempttoreasonaboutit,eventomyself.Butit
isafact—onethatIhavetestedsufficientlytohavescientificevidenceofits
truth.Itisnaturalformetobidyoutrustme,becausethisinwardvision
foreshadowsatimewhenyouwillberequiredtotrustme,andwhenperhaps—I
can’tsay—butwhenprobablyIshallnotknow.Ofthis,however,Iamcertain—
intheend,yourtrustwillbejustified.’
Aspiritseemedtohimtobelookingoutofhereyes.
‘I,too,’sheanswered,‘havesomething—Icannotcallitinwardvision.Ican
onlycallitinstinct.Somethingwhichdrawsorrepelsme,encouragesorwarns.I
canrelyuponitalmostalways.’
‘Almostalways!’herepeated.‘Thereshouldbeno“almost”Thereisno
“almost”withme.IfIamstandingbythebedsideofapatientdoomedbythe
Facultytodeath,andthatinwardvisionshowshimtomesafeandsound—there
isnoquestion,itisso.If,ontheotherhand,IseeDeathatthebackofevena


triflingailment,thatalsoissure,andIdonotquestion,becauseIknowthatto
Deathmysciencemustbow.’
‘Youspeakofpatients—theyarenotapartofyou.Ihaveheardbefore,thata
doctorisonlyunerringwhenhedoesnotlove.Butifyouloved—thencouldyou
besure?’
Marillierwassilent.Iftherewereaspiritinthegirl’seyes,oneseemedtobe
peeringforthintofuturityfromhis.Theirgreyhaddeepenedtothecolourofa
mountain-lockedpool.
‘CouldIbesure?Icannottellyou,fortillthisdayofmylifeIhaveneverlived
beyondtherestrictionsofreasonandscience.Myinterestshavebeencentredin
myprofession,MademoiselleIsàdas,forcircumstanceshavelimitedthem.I
haveneverknownlove.’
‘Tillthisdayofmylife.’Hehadutteredthewordsdeliberately,andwhilehe
utteredthem,theinwardmonitorseemedtobepointingouttohimtheir
immensesignificance.ToRachelIsàdastheyhadnosuchsignificance.They
seemedtheordinaryexpressionofacool-headed,steel—heartedscientist,who
hadnothadtimeforthesofteremotions.Sheknewhewasunmarried;she
fanciedthatRuelBeyhadtoldherthathewashimselfMarillier’snearest
relation.Theremembrancespurredherspeech.
‘Butyouhave—isittruethatyouaretheonlyoneofyourname?’
‘Quitetrue.Myfatherwasanonlychildandanorphan;mymotherhadone
sister.RuelBeyisthatsister’sson.Herepresentstome,therefore,allthetiesof
kindred.’
‘But—’shehesitatedagain.‘RuelBeyislovable.’
Marillierinterruptedhersharply.
‘Youfindhimso,MademoiselleIsàdas?’
Thegirlstartedasifhehadstruckher,andthebloodrushedtoherface.She
recoveredherselfandreplied,—
‘Thatseemsanevenstrangerthingtosaytome.’


‘Idonotthinkso.AtthePacha’sballhisadmirationofyouwasevidentenough.
Iwasnaturallyinterestedinobservinghowyoureceivedhisattentions.Perhaps
itwouldbewellthatIshouldtellyouwhathehimselfdoesnotknow—Iamnot
apoormanandheismyheir.Ifyoulovedandconsentedtomarryhim,andthe
provisionmadebythePachaorrequiredbythePachawereriotadequate,I
wouldsupplementit.’
ThetroublespreadoverRachelIsàdas’sface—thefaintalarm.
‘Oh,Idon’tknow—Idon’tknow.’
‘Tellme,’saidMarillier,‘isitwithhimaswithme—whenyoudon’tknow,can
youtrust?’
‘Idon’tknow—Idon’tknow,’sherepeatedhelplessly.
ThesightofherperplexityrousedinMarilliersomethingofwhichhehadnever
beforebeenconscious.
‘Ifyoucan’ttrusthimyoumaytrustme.That’sperhapsthemeaningofthe
foreshadowingIhaveaboutyou.I’llbetruetoit.Trustme,Mademoiselle
Isàdas!Trustme;andbytheForcethatyoucallGod,I’llprotectyouagainst
him,ifneedbe;againstyourownheart,ifneedbe.Ifneedbe,too,against
myself.’
Beforesherealisedthemeaningofhiswords,whilestillunderthespellofthe
lookhegaveheroutofthosecleargreyeyes,inwhichitseemedthattwolittle
electricsparkssuddenlyblazed,RachelIsàdasfoundherselfalone.Hehad
abruptlyturnedfromherandvanishedthroughtheopenhalfofthefolding
doors.Whenshelookedthroughthemshewasconfrontedbythesensuousface
withitsfatefulEasternmelancholy,itsterriblesatietyoftheflesh,whichgazed
outatherfromtheeyesoftheEmperorofAbaria.


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