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Title: The Insane Root
Author: Rosa Praed
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0606311.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
Date most recently updated: August 2006

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The Insane Root
Rosa Praed


In the Abarian Embassy in London, Isdas Pacha lay sick unto death. He
was an old man, and upon several previous occasions when he had been
stricken by illness it was thought that he could not recover.
Nevertheless, when newspapers and Cabinets were speculating upon his
probable successor, he had invariably risen up from his bed and had
again handled the reins, continuing to transact the duties of
Ambassador to the Court of St James's entrusted to him by his Imperial

He was greatly in the favour of his Emperor, and was, after his own
fashion, a power in the courts of Europe. Though it was said, and
indeed with truth, that most of the business of the Chancellery was
carried on by his clever, fascinating and ambitious first secretary,
Caspar Ruel Bey, it was the brain of Isdas Pacha which inspired
despatches, the hand of Isdas Pacha--that shrivelled, forceful hand--
which gave the last decisive touch to the helm.

Isdas Pacha was old and had lived an unholy life. He had loved many
women--the prey of some, the tyrant of others--had drunk much wine,
had gambled and fought and rollicked, had nourished revenge upon the
fruit of diabolical knowledge, had strange byways of intrigue, vice
and of wisdom where was little good and much evil. He had, in fact, to
quote an austere London surgeon who attended him, violated every law
of health, morals and religion, and was a standing disproof of the
power of those laws. For his marvellous vitality and his commanding
intellect had brought him successfully through a varied career, to
what now-at its close, seemed the very zenith of influence and
popularity. Nor were the influence and popularity undeserved. He had
been a faithful servant to an effete and demoralised civilisation--a
state which from its geographical position was at that time one of the
chief factors in Christian and Mahometan policy. He had done his
country's work--not always righteous--in many lands, and had felt the
pulse-beats of many nations. He had the wile of the East and the
common sense of the West, and was consulted by both in hours of crisis
and difficulty. The decorations heaped upon him had been genuinely
won, and only a week before his illness, the last and crowning order
of merit---the highest gift in his sovereign's power to bestow--had
been sent him with an autograph letter from that sovereign, by whom he
was both loved and trusted. The ideal of an autocratic sovereignty was
the ideal to which Isdas Pacha clung. It had ruled his actions; and'
the glittering jewel which represented it, was now placed by his
desire, at the foot of his bed, and solaced his dying hours. Thus, a
strong and lasting devotion had been inspired in him by the original
of an oil painting--the portrait of a man with regular, refined
features, dark haunting eyes, and an expression of the most profound
melancholy, the most utter satiety to be seen on human countenance--
which hung at the end of the long suite of reception rooms in the
Embassy, its frame surmounted by the jewelled and gilded insignia of
Eastern monarchy. This was the portrait of his most sacred Majesty,
Abdullulah Zobeir, Emperor of Abaria.

It was in obedience to this devotion that Isdas Pacha, when taken ill
at a watering-place to which his doctors recommended him, had desired
that he should be brought back to London in order that he might die
under the Imperial flag.

The floated limply over the grey roof and straight unlovely walls of
the Embassy. There was scarcely a breath of wind in the heavy,
exhausted London atmosphere--the atmosphere of a London August.
Certainly it was only the first week in August and Parliament was not
up, and there was a stream of smart carriages drawing up in front of
the corner house of that dull, old--fashioned London square, one patch
of which had been for so long a piece of Abarian territory. From the
carriages tired footmen alighted, and cards were left and inquiries
were made. In some cases the answers to the inquiries were brought out
and repeated to beautifully-dressed ladies, past their youth maybe--
ladies whom presumably the Pacha had loved or admired. The Pacha was
witty and amusing, while his position was such that women still liked
to be admired, even loved, by him, though he was not very far from
eighty. In other instances the inquiries were evidently merely
perfunctory--official tributes to his diplomatic status. Royal
messengers came and received with a becoming expression of concern the
doctors' bulletin, and minor royalties called personally. One or two
great ladies, still in London, left bouquets of flowers or scribbled
on their cards messages of sympathy. All these were carried to the
ante-chamber of the Pacha's room that he might himself be made aware
of these marks of attention, upon which he laid much store. And the
old man, even his great sickness, gloated over the cards and the
flowers and the royal messages of sympathy.

It was just after one of these great personages had called and
departed, that a quiet doctor's brougham drove up to the Embassy.
There had been other doctors' broughams there already. Specialists had
been summoned in conjunction with the Pacha's regular attendant; but
in August, many of the principal London physicians are out of town.
Perhaps it was partly on this account, partly because he had already
met privately and had interested the Pacha, partly because he was the
cousin of Ruel Bey the first secretary, that Doctor Marillier had been
called in.

Doctor Marillier was not a great London doctor--one, that is to say,
who has won his position step by step and in accordance with the
traditions of the College of Physicians and all the written and
unwritten laws of British medical etiquette. Though to all intents and
purposes, he was British, he belonged by descent to a Jersey family.
His mother was a Greek and her sister had married the father of Ruel
Bey, a man whose exact nationality it would have been difficult to
determine. Doctor Marillier had taken his degree in Paris, and had
subsequently practised in Algeria, where he had imbibed some out-of-
the-way theories of medicine from his friend, that very singular
Eastern physician known as the Medicine Moor. He had never followed
the beaten track, and though during the last year or two he had
settled himself as a consulting physician in London, he was looked
upon as something of a quack by his medical brethren and suspected of
unprofessional practices. Early in his career he had acknowledged
himself, in a series of articles written under the shadow of the
Salptrire, a follower of Charcot. Then he had become an eager
disciple of the astronomer Flammarion, and later, an avowed student of
hypnotism according to the methods of the Nancy school. Probably he
would never have gained notoriety in London, had it not happened that
by chance he was called in to an important public personage, and had
cured that personage in defiance of the verdicts of other well-known
physicians. This cure had caused him to be talked about. Moreover, his
relationship to the delightful first secretary at the Abarian Embassy,
had brought him into some social prominence.

Doctor Marillier's cousin, Ruel Bey, was one of the most popular young
men in London. It was he who made the balls at the Abarian Embassy a
feature of the London season. He acted well, he sang well, he danced
divinely. In those days, the cotillon had just become a fashionable
craze, and no hostess of the great world thought her entertainment
complete unless Ruel Bey organised and led the figures. Doctor
Marillier did not dance the cotillon, did not sing, did not act, had
not that peculiar charm of manner which is found in both men and women
of mixed nationality, but he had gifts of his own, powers of his own,
even a certain odd charm all his own.

Lucien Marillier stepped out of his brougham and rang at the great
double door of the Embassy. The door was opened on the instant; the
hall-porter being the one servant in the house whose office at that
time was no sinecure. Incongruously, as some people thought, there was
no touch of the East about the Pacha's establishment. His hall-porter
was like the hall-porter of all other persons to whom such a
functionary is indispensable, and sat in a chair that might have been
built--probably was built--in the reign of Queen Anne. For the Embassy
had Adams ceilings and Georgian staircases, and panellings removed
from a mansion in Bloomsbury, and it had been decorated and furnished
in the early Victorian epoch, and was all loftiness, mahogany,
gilding, bareness and anachronisms, with, all through, a touch of
foreign lands and a suggestion, mainly under the surface, of the
sensuous East.

The butler, with his following of footmen, who appeared in answer to
Doctor Marillier's request that Ruel Bey might be informed of his
arrival, was a bland, portly, and wholly English official, quite in
keeping with the Adams frieze and the early Victorian decoration.

He ushered the visitor into a room leading off the central hall and
there left him. Doctor Marillier waited. His portrait might have been
drawn as he stood perfectly immovable against the marble mantelpiece.
A short man, with shoulders disproportionately broad in regard to his
height, thick, and slightly hunched. Out of the ungainly shoulders
rose a head which, though ugly, would, had it been placed upon a
commanding form, have made Doctor Lucien Marillier one of the most
distinguished-looking men of his day. A striking head, with darkish
hair getting grey at the temples, combed back from an intellectual
brow and cropped close behind; rugged features, a thin, slightly
beaked nose, and lips sharply curved, extremely flexible, the upper
one in its defined lines and firm moulding, showing will, order and
logic, the under one, protruding ever so little, hinting at the
emotional; the face clean-shaven and giving a curious impression of
greyness; the skin fine, the jaw strong, a cleft in the centre of the
chin; the eyes grey, keen, penetrating, somewhat pale and cold, with a
black line round the iris, and changing, when feeling was aroused, to
a grey like that of dull steel. The hands were capable, deft, strong
and tender, with broad, soft fingers, long and square at the tips, and
a full flexible thumb--the typical doctor's hands.

A door opening at the end of this room disclosed the Chancellery, a
long, sombre room, decorously busy, where fezzed heads were bending
over writing-tables set here and there beneath the windows. Ruel Bey
himself could be seen, through a second folding door, in an inner and
more luxuriously-furnished apartment, where he was writing hastily.

Presently he rose, saying a word or two in French to one of the
attachs, and coming through the outer room, he closed the door behind
him and advanced with outstretched hands to greet his cousin.

'A thousand pardons. It was absolutely necessary it I should leave a
despatch ready to be copied. The Pacha's seizure throws a great deal
upon me. You understand, Lucien?'

'Perfectly. Your credit at the Court of Abaria depends upon the way in
which you deal with this crisis, eh?'

'Oh, as to that!' The young man shrugged his shoulders in the
inimitable French manner. 'Isdas left most things to me, but his was
the responsibility. The Emperor was satisfied while Isdas signed and,
as he believed, inspired. It's extraordinary the confidence they have
over there in Isdas. But now that he cannot sign!...And the whole
wasps' nest of intriguers will be buzzing round the Emperor's ears...
Well, the time is not ripe! His Excellency must not die, Lucien. For
my sake do what you can to save him.'

'I will do what I can, not for your sake, but firstly for the sake of
my profession--secondly, for that of Isdas Pacha himself, and
thirdly, for that of European interests. Not to speak of the Emperor
of Abaria, who relies at this political juncture upon his
representative's appreciation of the English national temperament.'

Doctor Marillier spoke coldly. His deep voice vibrated when he alluded
to the sacred obligations of his profession. His accent had a burr,
due probably to his foreign extraction. 'Don't let us waste time,' he
added. 'Take me to the Pacha.'

Ruel Bey nodded and immediately led the way up the broad staircase,
stopping, as he passed through the ball to speak to the butler,
desiring him to inform Mademoiselle Isdas that Doctor Marillier had

The double doors of white and gold leading to the reception-rooms
seemed to be guarded by a large stuffed leopard looking as though it
were about to spring. Marillier stopped for a moment before it. He had
been told that it was from the spring of this very leopard that Isdas
Pacha had saved the Emperor of Abaria, and thus earned the monarch's
lasting gratitude.

'Mademoiselle Isdas will wish to speak to you, said Ruel Bey to his
cousin. 'She told me last night that she had great faith in you and
that she believed you would cure the Pacha.'

'I trust that I may justify Mademoiselle Isdas's faith,' replied the
doctor, 'but the Pacha is an old man.'

'Yet he has the vitality of the devil. Ffolliot and Carus Spencer gave
him over last time, and he recovered notwithstanding. But do what you
can to reassure Rachel Isdas. She is genuinely distressed at the
thought that he may die, and, from the mere mundane and selfish point
of view, well she may be.'

Doctor Marillier looked at the young man keenly and not altogether

'Why? I ask from the mundane point of view.'

'Oh, well, her position would be different. One can never tell how far
she would be provided for. Isdas Pacha has lived like a rich man, but
he has never been wealthy, and I believe there is a law in the
republic of Avaran which requires that half a man's possessions must
go when he dies to his legitimate kin. You know of course that Isdas
is Avaranese by birth, and I have no idea whether he has disposed of
his family estates or if they were confiscated in the revolution. His
real name is Varenzi, and Isdas, so to speak, an official title.
Though the Abarian Government employs few Abarians, it insists that
its officials shall, technically speaking, be Abarian. By the way,
however, talking of the law of inheritance in Avaran, I have never
heard that Is-das has a single--legitimate--relation.'

Again Doctor Marillier's keen eyes searched his cousin's face. They
were standing in the first of the--reception-rooms, a desert of
gilding and upholstery, with a huge crystal chandelier in the centre,
and at one end, just over the two men, that melancholy and haunting
portrait of the Emperor of Abaria. A message had been sent apprising
the Ambassador's nurse of Doctor Marillier's arrival.

'You imply what I have not altogether understood. I have only seen
Mademoiselle Isdas once--at the last ball here. I gleaned then that
her position was equivocal. What is her exact relation to the Pacha?'

Again Ruel Bey shrugged, and the shrug was eloquent. 'The world will
tell you that she is his niece--when it speaks officially. But all the
world knows that she is not his niece, and would not hesitate to say
so--unofficially. But even officially she is not recognised. It is a
significant fact that Mademoiselle Isdas has not attended one of the
Queen's drawing-rooms, and that she does not wear the order of the
Leopard and the Lotus which the Emperor of Abaria always presents to a
daughter of an ambassador, or to an officially-recognised niece of an
ambassador, when she is the only lady in the Embassy--in that case
even to the wife of the first secretary.'

Doctor Marillier made a gesture of extreme disapproval.

'I dislike to hear you speak in that way, Caspar. You gave me the
impression that you wanted to marry Mademoiselle Isdas.'

Ruel Bey smiled.

'The wife of an aspiring Minister, a potential Ambassador, must be,
like Csar's wife, above suspicion--at any rate, as regards her social
antecedents. I confess that I should prefer to marry a lady with no
haziness about her parentage...But--we are human, Lucien, and a pair
of lovely eyes is apt to play the deuce with such prejudice.'

At that moment a nurse advanced towards the door of the second
reception-room. Here were massed the bouquets, and here lay the cards
and notes sent by royal, diplomatic and social admirers of the Pacha.
Doctor Marillier at once proceeded to the door of the Ambassador's
bedroom, which opened off the furthest apartment of the suite--that
which was his usual sitting--room. Ruel Bey remained in the second
reception-room idly sniffing at a bouquet of orchids and sprigs of
scented verbena. Here also, as he waited, an illustrator might have
found subject and opportunity. In odd contrast to his cousin the
doctor, striking as was the personality of each, Ruel Bey had the face
and form of a Hermes--the Apollos seem mostly insufficiently virile
for comparison. One could, however, imagine Ruel Bey with winged feet,
and the muscular development presumably to be associated with an
Olympian messenger. Certainly he might have been modelled as a Hermes,
save for his Bond Street get-up, his moustache and the fez. The fez,
however, gave a certain outlandish distinction, and its deep red
enhanced the brilliancy of his dark eyes, the clearness of his olive
skin, and the sheen of a few curling tendrils of dark hair showing
beneath it on neck and brow. As one looked at him one thought
instinctively of grape leaves, of honey-throated song, of the love of
women, and the glory of young-limbed strength. Yet though here was the
old joy in life of the Olympians, there was something, too, of the
later Hellenism, something of modern Greek craft, a touch of imported
Eastern sensuousness; much, too, of self-interest. That was to be read
at moments, in the shifty gleam of his full, soft eyes, in the
ripeness of his fruit-like mouth, in certain charming mannerisms that
did not breathe a wholehearted sincerity. He was less of a man's than
of a woman's man.

Women are intuitive, but where they love and admire, they do not
analyse. Probably few of the great ladies who petted him, of the
nobly-born women who would have married him had he been a little
richer, a little more highly placed--or of the less frailer creatures
who idolised him for a year, a month, a week--were capable of
analysing Ruel Bey. He appealed to the senses of women, not to the


The door into the vestibule opened. There was a light step upon the
parquet of the outer reception-room. Ruel Bey put down the bouquet,
detaching a sprig of verbena, which he fastened into his buttonhole.
His hand trembled as he did so; he knew the step, and he wanted to
gain time and to conceal his agitation. Presently he looked up,
apparently frank, bright, welcoming. A girl approached through the
ornamented folding doors.

'Monsieur Ruel,' she began in formal, hesitating accents; then
glancing round and seeing that he was alone, advanced less timidly. He
put out his hand, and with that grace and charm which all women loved,
drew her to a seat.

'Dearest,' he murmured.

She shrank a little.

'No...I don't think you ought... Your cousin is here.'

'I have told him you wished to speak to him. If anyone can save the
Pacha, it is Lucien Marillier.'

'I knew that...I felt sure of it. He will not mind telling me what he
really thinks.'

'I will leave you alone with him when he comes out. He will tell you
the truth--as far as doctors ever I tell the truth. Remember that
Excellency is an old man.'

'Poor Excellence,' said the girl, softly. 'It must be hard to lie,
perhaps dying, and to be--so unloved.'

Ruel Bey waved his hand over the heaped flowers ad the array of cards.
'He is honoured, and that is better than being loved.'

'Do you think so? Oh, no, Caspar, you don't really think so.'

'No,' he answered, coming closer to her, and bending forward so that
his lips touched her hair, 'I don't think so--when I look at you.'

The girl did not answer. She seemed to be pondering his words, and not
altogether with satisfaction. He withdrew a pace or two, and leaning
against the mantelpiece, his cheek upon his hand, looked down upon her
admiringly as she sat at the corner of the fireplace in a large-armed,
gilded chair. She was very beautiful. The most ambitious of men might
well consider it more important to be loved by her than honoured by
the world.

Her absolute claims to beauty set aside, there was something
peculiarly attractive, and, at the same time, peculiarly pathetic,
about this girl. She showed race in every line of her. Was it from the
Pacha or from her mother that this was inherited? She was called the
Pacha's niece; she bore his name; it was supposed that she was his
brother's child. And yet, in the accounts printed of the Pacha's
lineage and career, no mention was made of his brother. Besides, Ruel
Bey had said, and all the world knew, that Isdas was the titular name
given with the honours that Emperor had conferred. He belonged to a
family before it became a republic, had supplied rulers to the island
kingdom of Avaran. The revolution had driven him thence, and in all
the vigour of his manhood Count Varenzi had entered the service
Abdullulah Zobeir, the youthful Emperor of Abaria. His brother's
child, had there been one, would have inherited the name of Varenzi,
but Rachel had never been known save as Mademoiselle Isdas. That
pathetic look in Rachel Isdas came from the blending of evident
dignity of race with an expression wistful, deprecating, shadowed, as
of one impressed by a certain incongruity in her position, and not
entirely free from a dread of being slighted, were she to assert that
position. Mademoiselle Isdas's proud little head had a timid droop;
her slender form, in spite of its stately carriage, a shrinking air,
as though she dreaded and wished to avoid observation; her eyes a
startled, almost beseeching gaze, when she was suddenly addressed or
taken notice of by a stranger.

Her head looked small for her body, though she was tall and very
slight. Her throat, too, was unusually slender. She had pretty, soft,
dark hair, the brown which shows reddish glints; her face was oval,
the nose finely chiselled and a little short; the upper lip short too
and extremely sensitive, like that of a child, alone in the world's
fair, and scarcely knowing whether to laugh or to weep. The eyes were
brown, soft, and plaintively appealing, with something of the
expression in the eyes of a St Bernard dog.

They were not the bright black eyes of the Avaranese, but had a
suggestion of the East in their long almond-shaped lids and their
dreamy intensity when her face was in repose, though they would light
up at moments with a childlike gladness, and had, too, the limpid
purity which one sees in the eyes of a child.

Suddenly now, she glanced up at Ruel Bey's face. The two looks met,
and both underwent a curious change. In both pairs of eyes a flame was
kindled. A magnetic impulse drew the man and woman together. She had
risen, and now moved, frightened, it seemed, of that very impulse,
half evading his outstretched arms. A dimple in her throat attracted
him. He put his lips to it, brushing the satin skin as if savouring
its sweetness, and ardently kissed the flower-like hollow at the base
of her throat.

'I love you,' he whispered.

Trembling slightly, she shrank away from him, and stood with bent head
and cheeks faintly red. Again, he would have embraced her, but she
refused the caress, not without dignity.

'I love you, sweet,' he repeated.

'You say so...but...' she spoke with hesitation. 'It is not fitting
that you should tell me so in this way. It is not the custom.'

'The conventual custom!' he said, with a laugh. 'Dear nun, we are in
London--not in the convent.'

'I wish that I were back in the convent,' she said, 'for many

'But you would not wish to be a nun?' he asked.

'No. I have not a vocation. But one is safe in the convent.'

'And you are not safe here? Is that what you mean?'

'I was peaceful in the convent,' she exclaimed. 'I was not torn and
troubled and frightened by strange thoughts and feelings--feelings I
had never known before.'

'Foolish one, is it of the feelings that you are afraid? Why fear what
is the only thing worth living for--love?'

'There should be peace in love, joy in love--not terror and unrest.'

'Yet you love me, Rachel? You cannot deny it?'

'I don't know. How can I tell? Your love is not the love I have
dreamed of--read of. It is not holy, pure, spiritual. It is not--' she
stopped short.

'Not the love you have read of in the journals of Saint Theresa--or in
the Meditations of St Thomas  Kempis? No, I grant you that. It is a
more human sort of thing. A thing of the world---possibly of the
devil--not of the Church.'

Rachel shrank again, and there was puzzle and deeper dread in the
straight gaze of her brown eyes. 'Oh, it is when you say things like
that--it's that strain in you which makes me afraid. Why should you
say "not of the Church--possibly of the devil?" I don't understand.
The blessing of the Church, should be upon all true love. Marriage is
a sacrament.'

Ruel Bey gave the nameless gesture--the instinctive gesture of the
sceptic. 'How many London marriages are what you call a sacrament? But
I don't want to argue that point. It is enough for me that I love you.
Your prayers, dear saint, may call down the ecclesiastical blessing.
Assuredly mine--will not. I am content--for the moment--with love
itself, love in its least spiritual aspect, its most human joy.'

The girl blushed more deeply. She was struggling to get out some words
which were difficult.

'I suppose that you feel as a man feels. I cannot tell. But--I don't
know what it is in you that draws me, almost against myself, and then
repels me. You do not speak of love as--'

'As Saint Theresa and St Thomas  Kempis speak of it?' he rejoined
with tender raillery. 'No. I speak of it as the diplomat, as the man
of cities, as one who belongs to the world of men, and not to the
cerulean heaven, must speak of love. I have blood in my veins, not
celestial lymph. I would clasp the flesh rather than adore the spirit.
I love you as the old Greeks loved, as the modern man loves--not after
the fashion of the medival monk. Except Fra Lippo Lippi. He had the
courage to carry off his nun. I give him grace, and salute her

Ruel Bey laughed and touched his finger tips, blowing a kiss to the
fair, frail Madonna whom Lippi had loved and painted, with that
enchanting mannerism which, in the drawing-rooms of a certain set of
women, had gained him the reputation of culture of a kind.

Still Rachel had not said what she wished to say; and still the red in
her cheeks, which was that pale red peculiar to such a type, deepened,
and her speech faltered.

'I did not mean what you seem to think. I cannot explain myself to
myself--how much less to you! I have told you that you draw me to
you--and yet, at the very moment, it is as though an invisible barrier
were placed between us. And I do understand. Though you laugh at the
conventual customs, I am not so ignorant as you fancy of the ways of
the world. You forget that, though it is only a few months since I
left the convent, I am nearly twenty-five, and that is not very young.
I have had friends among girls who were married, and I have seen how
such things are arranged even in London. You...It is now two weeks
since you...told me that you loved me. I have no mother--no one but my
uncle, and he seems strange and far away--but he is my guardian. have not asked me from him.'

'My child, is it that which is troubling your simple soul! The foreign
blood in you speaks, as well as the French bringing-up. You expected a
conseil de famille--the bargaining about settlements--the exact amount
stipulated for pin-money--all the ordinary preludes of matrimony.
Well, let me tell you frankly that I have no private means; that it
has always been expected I should marry a fortune instead of bestowing
one; that, in short, from the worldly point of view, there would be
many difficulties; that for the moment--till I am appointed Minister
to the Court of--some little minor kingdom--and that's a poor enough
basis of negotiations in the matter of pin-money and settlements--I

'Oh! No! No!' the girl interrupted, overcome with shame. 'How could
you suppose that I thought of such things? You know...'

'I know that you are adorable. I know that I you. I know that when we
are alone together, I cannot bow and give you my finger tips as if we
were dancing a minuet. I know that the temptation of that fascinating
dimple, and of those sweet lips, remind me somehow of the Song of
Solomon, can't be resisted. I know that I want to sip the honey, to
snatch the joy, and to forget the sordid details which, in any case,
dear, should not be forced into the critical hours of a serious
illness. Wait! Listen to what Marillier has to say. I think I hear him
coming out now from the Pacha's room. I will leave you to have your


The girl sat down again resignedly, pale now, not greatly reassured,
still, obliged to confess that there was reason in Caspar Ruel's
words, and partly ashamed of what she thought he must have fancied her
own grasping attitude.

'Forgive me,' she murmured, and he gave her a long, ardent look,
kissed her hand, and went out through the folding doors, just as the
curtains separating this room from the Pacha's sanctum were drawn
aside by the nurse for Doctor Marillier to pass through.

Rachel rose at his entrance and advanced. As she faced him, her eyes
eager, her whole countenance moved and softened by the emotion she had
been experiencing, Marillier was almost taken aback by her
extraordinary beauty. He stood awkwardly, the hunch of his shoulders
accentuated by his hesitation, his strong face reflecting both sides
of his nature, the human and the professional. He had been deeply
interested in the Pacha's case. His brain was working out theories; he
was weighing the forces of disease and life with which he had to deal.
For the moment he had forgotten everything else, and the sight of
Rachel, setting into vibration chords in him, of which he had hardly
suspected the existence, was unexpectedly disturbing.

'Doctor Marillier, she said, with her air of timid self-possession--of
withdrawal into her own sanctuary which was so marked when she spoke
to a stranger, 'Ruel Bey said you would be kind enough to tell me
exactly what you think of the Pacha's condition.'

She held out her hand, not waiting for him to answer. 'Though I did
not speak to you, I think we have seen each other before,' she went
on. 'I am Rachel Isdas; of course you know.'

'Yes,' he replied, it seemed to him mechanically. 'Of course I know.'

'And you were at the Pacha's last ball?' she said.


He remembered her well, and the indefinable attraction she had even
then had for him--the curious pity that he had felt, and his vague
wonder about her; for it had struck him as strange that she should be
at once, so near to the Pacha and yet outside the state and ceremony
with which on this occasion he was surrounded. There were no other
ladies belonging to the Abarian Embassy, for none of the secretaries
were married. She was a comparatively new arrival on the scene, it
being her first season in London, thus the fact of her isolation, so
apparent to him, might not have impressed the casual crowd. He
recalled the scene--the great gilded ballroom, with mirrors at
intervals along the walls, reflecting back the lights and diamonds,
the forms and faces, all the throng of beautifully-dressed women and
of men in uniform with ribbons and orders on their breasts. The Pacha
had stood just outside the doorway, above which was a great emblazoned
shield with the Star of the Empire and a motto in the pictorial
Abarian character, receiving his guests as they came and passed
through to the ballroom. The Pacha's breast glittered with many
decorations; in truth he was the most picturesque and striking figure
present. It seemed almost by design that he was so stationed as not to
admit of another person between himself and the door, and the people
entering, might not at first have noticed the tall slender girl a pace
within, who stood behind the Pacha, and who looked, as Marillier had
put it to himself, like an angel dropped down from heaven.

An angel not entirely at ease, however, but bewildered by the
situation in which she found herself, and unconsciously realising
that, though making a tiny part of this splendid world of fashion and
diplomacy, she nevertheless did not belong to it. His physician's eye
told him that she was nervous, and that it was by the greatest effort
that she maintained her calm dignity. For she was very dignified. Her
quietude, her simplicity, the slight droop of her head, and her
involuntary shrinking from observation which, erectly though she held
herself, was so evident to him, only enhanced the dignity. How
beautiful she looked! Her brown eyes shone like stars. Her clear pale
cheeks, slightly tinged with pink, reminded him of the inner petals of
a certain white rose, her long slender neck of the white calyx of a
tropical flower, and the sensitive lips with their pathetic droop, a
thread of scarlet, were, in the phrase used by Ruel Bey, as the lips
of that fairest among women in the Song of Solomon. She had worn a
white satin gown with soft fillings and draperies, and some lilies at
her breast. She carried a bouquet of the same Eucharis lilies, and
round her neck was a single string of pearls, her only ornament. She
had no orders nor ribbons, and her little head bore neither stars nor
tiara. So she stood, an exquisite and, to him, pathetically forlorn
figure, and no one seemed to remark the pathos and forlornness of her
except himself.

Once or twice, the Pacha would turn and informally introduce her to
some lady whom he greeted, but she was not presented to the greatest
of the royal ladies whom the Pacha had descended the stairs to
welcome, and it had been quite clear that, officially speaking, she
was not recognised. Doctor Marillier observed that one great lady, a
lesser light among the royal people, looked at the girl with a
motherly curiosity and kindliness, and made an occasion to notice her.
That royal lady was ever afterwards endeared to the heart of the
doctor, and he had been pleased with the grace of Mademoiselle
Isdas's curtsey, and the soft shy lighting up of her pensive face.
Later on, when the dancing began, a bevy of would-be partners crowded
round the girl, and after that, he had only seen her as she whirled
round in a waltz or played her part in the cotillon led by Ruel Bey.
He had noticed his cousin's admiration, and a word or two that he had
by chance overheard pass between them, made him feel sure that Ruel
Bey loved the Ambassador's niece and desired to marry her.

He was hardly aware, as his memory went back to this scene and the
thoughts it had evoked, how awkwardly he stood now after that
monosyllabic 'Yes,' and how long the girl, too shy to ask him more
directly his professional opinion, waited for him to deliver it.

At last she said, seating herself again in the big gilded chair, and
motioning him to a settee opposite,---

'Doctor Marillier, you will tell me how you find the Pacha--what you
really think of his state?'

'That is a little difficult for me to put into clear words,
Mademoiselle Isdas.'

'Perhaps,' she went on, 'you are afraid; you think it may be too great
a shock for me to hear the truth. But I would always wish to know the
truth about a thing that concerns me deeply, even though it might be a

He remembered those words of hers long afterwards. At the time, he was
gauging her with those keen doctor's eyes, weighing in his mind, her
capacity to bear the shock of a cruel truth, and he came to the
conclusion that her words were literally true, and that she was one of
those women with whom a doctor may be candid.

'I ought perhaps to tell you,' she said, mistaking the motive of his
slight hesitation, that if--if you thought ill of his condition, the
shock would not be so great to me as though I had lived always with
the Pacha, as though I were his daughter, or had been his companion
for many years.

I have been just a few months at the Embassy, and before that, I can
only remember seeing the Pacha three or four times when he came to my
convent. So we have not been very close to each other. I don't want
you to think,' she added hastily, 'that I am not sincerely attached--
that I do not appreciate the Pacha's great goodness to me. He is all I
have in the world, and if Excellence were taken away, I should be
lonely indeed.'

The little note of emotion in her voice touched him inexpressibly. She
must in very truth be lonely if the loss of that cynical, selfish old
reprobate would be the loss of her only natural protector.

'I trust, Mademoiselle Isdas, that his Excellency will be spared to
you for a little while yet, if I am correct in my diagnosis, and am
permitted to carry out the treatment I propose. In fact I may say that
I am sure his life can be saved--for the present.'

'Can anyone be sure?' she said wistfully, struck by the masterfulness
of the man's tone. 'Only God can be sure. But oh! Doctor Marillier, I
am very thankful for what you say, and I believe it. You make rue feel
that you would not speak like this unless you were confident of your

'I am confident,' he replied. 'I will tell you why. You say that no
one can be sure but God; and it may be that we doctors have a
different conception of the Force which made life and ordained death
than that which has been taught you in your convent. Perhaps it is
that we have no conception at all; that we are agnostics in the true
sense of the word; that ecclesiasticism is to us so much mummery, and
creeds and dogmas all equally meaningless and unsatisfactory. But
there is a Force we cannot deny, a Something outside ourselves which
rules life and decrees death, and it is only when, in some dim manner
which I can't explain even to myself, I come into relation with this
Force--only then that I can be sure. That does not always happen; it
happens rarely. But when I have made my diagnosis and am sure, not the
whole College of Physicians against me would shake my opinion. I can
cure the Pasha. For how long I will not say. He is a very old man, and
already his life has reached the ordinary span.'

Her look of wistful wonder deepened to one of childlike trust.

'You are strong,' she said. 'I like a man to be strong; and there are
so few--so very few men upon whom one can lean.'

'You might lean upon me,' said Doctor Marillier, 'and I should not
fail you. Of that, too, I am sure.'

He bent a little forward, and as he uttered the words, put his two
hands down flat upon his knees as though to emphasise the declaration.
She could not help noticing his hands.

'You are strong,' she repeated; 'your hands are strong.'

'They ought to be,' he answered; 'they have performed many difficult
operations.' And then he was inwardly jarred by his own professional
plain-speaking. This was not the way to talk to a young delicate girl.
What should she know about operations? His bluntness did not appear to
have struck her. She was interested, and her eyes remained still fixed
upon those firm deft hands.

'If I were very ill, and needed to have an operation performed that
would cure or kill me, I would ask you to do it,' she said; 'that is,
if you said to me, I know--'

'If I said, "I know that I can cure you"!' he returned. 'Oh, then it
would be easy to trust me, for doctors do not say "I know" about
operations unless they feel sure. But if I said, "I do not know, and
you must run the risk of life or death," what then?'

'I would trust you still,' she replied. 'And it might be,' she added
thoughtfully, 'that the trusting would not be so difficult, nor the
uncertainty so hard to bear. I do not think that life is very good,
and sometimes one might almost prefer death if it were God's will.
Then one would be sure of being happy.'

'That is what your Church teaches you. You are a Catholic, of course?
So am--so was I. But how about Purgatory?'

'Perhaps,' she said, 'to some, life is the worst Purgatory God will
call upon us to endure.'

He gave a queer little laugh.

'That's true. I wouldn't ask a worse Purgatory for my bitterest enemy,
supposing I had one, than certain portions out of my own life. I, too,
have known what loneliness is, Mademoiselle Isdas...But this is not
business, and I don't know why I'm talking to you in such an odd way.
You must think me a queer sort of doctor. Yet I'm very glad we've
talked so, for it makes me understand you better. Your saying that you
would trust me if I said "I know" in the case of an operation, or,
what is better, if I said "I don't know," makes it much easier for me
to tell you that the Pacha's life depends upon an operation that I
wish to perform and which I know will succeed. Perhaps I should say
that it depends even more upon an after treatment which I fancy few
English physicians would endorse...But there's no use in talking
technicalities to young ladies--they wouldn't understand them.'

'I don't want technicalities. You are quite right, I shouldn't
understand them,' she said, with her sweet girl's laugh, that sounded
to the doctor like distant bells over snow. 'I trust you absolutely,
Doctor Marillier, and thank you--thank you. You have lifted a weight
from my heart. Now I can be almost happy again.'

'Almost happy!' The sense of pathos in connection with her, returned
to him with that 'almost.' He got up; she rose too, and the girl and
this man stood facing each other as the other man and the girl had
faced each other. Ruel Bey had towered a head and a half above this
tiny head upon its calyx throat. As Doctor Marillier stood erect, with
frame squared, his strong, determined face was, if anything, on a
lower level than her own. The contrast came upon her with an odd
impressiveness. How was it possible that the two men were so nearly
related? In temperament, in character, no two beings could be more
apart. And each man in his way had a forcefulness which she could not
withstand. She felt, in a frightened manner, that Ruel Bey would
exercise complete control over one side of her nature, and that side,
the one she least comprehended. Another side of her would, she knew,
be affected to an enormous degree by Doctor Marillier, and this side
she was not afraid of, though it, too, she did not quite understand.

He took her hand in his. The little sensitive hand, which seemed to
him like a bundle of nerves tied together, thrilled at his touch--
thrilled for a second only, then quieted under the consciousness of
mastery and of restfulness. His medical knowledge told him that he
could healthfully magnetise the girl. Certain nerves in her, responded
sympathetically to a power which he was aware he could wield. That
power was in himself and yet was outside himself. He associated it in
some way with the Force of which he had spoken, and which was his
synonym for her conception of God. Doctor Marillier did not believe in
the Churches' God, but he believed in a Force, just as he believed in
the law of gravitation, in the law of chemical affinities, of mental
affinities, such as were exemplified in telepathy and hypnotism, in
the law of evolution, in certain other even more subtle, more occult
laws, that his medical experience had compelled him to recognise--
mysteries of the universe only to be attributed to the action of a
First Cause, expressed by words and symbols that were but words and
symbols, and after all, never really touched the heart of the mystery.
These were realities to be admitted, but not to be explained as either
spiritual or material--though his tendency, as that of most
scientists, was to the explanation that all is matter in a more or
less rarefied form. Rachel Isdas herself was sensible of the soothing
effect of his touch. She withdrew her hand slowly. 'You feel strong,'
she said. 'Yes, I trust you.'

'Trust me always. Trust me in the matter of this operation upon the
Pacha. There you are safe. I can be trusted in the most elementary
sense because I know. But trust me, too, where I don't know.'

'Doctor Marillier, that seems a strange thing for you to say to me on
the first occasion of our speaking together, and yet, though it is
strange, it is natural.'

'It is natural,' he answered, 'because it comes out of that faculty I
possess of seeing with my inner eyes things beyond. Don't ask me to
explain the faculty. That way madness lies. I do not attempt to reason
about it, even to myself. But it is a fact--one that I have tested
sufficiently to have scientific evidence of its truth. It is natural
for me to bid you trust me, because this inward vision foreshadows a
time when you will be required to trust me, and when perhaps--I can't
say--but when probably I shall not know. Of this, however, I am
certain--in the end, your trust will be justified.'

A spirit seemed to him to be looking out of her eyes.

'I, too,' she answered, 'have something--I cannot call it inward
vision. I can only call it instinct. Something which draws or repels
me, encourages or warns. I can rely upon it almost always.'

'Almost always!' he repeated. 'There should be no "almost" There is no
"almost" with me. If I am standing by the bedside of a patient doomed
by the Faculty to death, and that inward vision shows him to me safe
and sound--there is no question, it is so. If, on the other hand, I
see Death at the back of even a trifling ailment, that also is sure,
and I do not question, because I know that to Death my science must

'You speak of patients--they are not a part of you. I have heard
before, that a doctor is only unerring when he does not love. But if
you loved--then could you be sure?'

Marillier was silent. If there were a spirit in the girl's eyes, one
seemed to be peering forth into futurity from his. Their grey had
deepened to the colour of a mountain-locked pool.

'Could I be sure? I cannot tell you, for till this day of my life I
have never lived beyond the restrictions of reason and science. My
interests have been centred in my profession, Mademoiselle Isdas, for
circumstances have limited them. I have never known love.'

'Till this day of my life.' He had uttered the words deliberately, and
while he uttered them, the inward monitor seemed to be pointing out to
him their immense significance. To Rachel Isdas they had no such
significance. They seemed the ordinary expression of a cool-headed,
steel--hearted scientist, who had not had time for the softer
emotions. She knew he was unmarried; she fancied that Ruel Bey had
told her that he was himself Marillier's nearest relation. The
remembrance spurred her speech.

'But you have--is it true that you are the only one of your name?'

'Quite true. My father was an only child and an orphan; my mother had
one sister. Ruel Bey is that sister's son. He represents to me,
therefore, all the ties of kindred.'

'But--' she hesitated again. 'Ruel Bey is lovable.'

Marillier interrupted her sharply.

'You find him so, Mademoiselle Isdas?'

The girl started as if he had struck her, and the blood rushed to her
face. She recovered herself and replied,---

'That seems an even stranger thing to say to me.'

'I do not think so. At the Pacha's ball his admiration of you was
evident enough. I was naturally interested in observing how you
received his attentions. Perhaps it would be well that I should tell
you what he himself does not know--I am not a poor man and he is my
heir. If you loved and consented to marry him, and the provision made
by the Pacha or required by the Pacha were riot adequate, I would
supplement it.'

The trouble spread over Rachel Isdas's face--the faint alarm.

'Oh, I don't know--I don't know.'

'Tell me,' said Marillier, 'is it with him as with me--when you don't
know, can you trust?'

'I don't know--I don't know,' she repeated helplessly.

The sight of her perplexity roused in Marillier something of which he
had never before been conscious.

'If you can't trust him you may trust me. That's perhaps the meaning
of the foreshadowing I have about you. I'll be true to it. Trust me,
Mademoiselle Isdas! Trust me; and by the Force that you call God,
I'll protect you against him, if need be; against your own heart, if
need be. If need be, too, against myself.'

Before she realised the meaning of his words, while still under the
spell of the look he gave her out of those clear grey eyes, in which
it seemed that two little electric sparks suddenly blazed, Rachel
Isdas found herself alone. He had abruptly turned from her and
vanished through the open half of the folding doors. When she looked
through them she was confronted by the sensuous face with its fateful
Eastern melancholy, its terrible satiety of the flesh, which gazed out
at her from the eyes of the Emperor of Abaria.


The operation was over. It had been wholly successful, and a new cure
was added to those which were rapidly making Doctor Marillier famous.
But there were dissensions among members of the Faculty; the Pacha's
regular physician in especial was opposed to Marillier's view of the
case. Isdas Pacha, however, decided the matter. Quickly comprehending
the situation, his brain became alert as ever, and that wonderful
power in him of diagnosing men, to which his brilliant diplomatic
career was largely attributable, now made itself felt.

Isdas, after the consultation, requested to be left alone with
Marillier. It was a strange interview, during which the Pacha's
gleaming eyes shining out of cavernous orbits from beneath the
wrinkled brows remained fixed upon the face of Marillier, reading the
man's soul as, it seemed to the doctor, no human eyes had ever before
read that closed book. The Pacha discussed his own symptoms, weighed
the arguments of the consulting physician and surgeon, demanded
reasons and details, and the grounds which Marillier had for his
conclusions, differing as they did from those of Mr Ffolliot and Dr
Carus Spencer. In his questions he displayed a knowledge, not only of
ordinary medical science, but of certain occult methods taught in the
East, but not generally admitted in Western schools, which greatly
surprised the doctor. Still more surprised was he when, after he had
explained his proposed treatment, the Pacha remarked in that deep yet
faint voice, which seemed already as though it issued from a tomb,---
'I see that you have studied under the Medicine Moor.'

Marillier started.

'It is true; but I did not know, Excellency, that you were acquainted
with that singular personage.'

A grim expression--an odd distortion of the features as by a spasm of
pain--passed over the Pacha's face as he answered,--'At one period of
my life I knew the Medicine Moor intimately. I have spent days with
him in the Kabyle hills. His was, as you say, a singular personality.
He knew many secrets of Nature and effected some wonderful cures. If
he were alive I would send for him now, for I believe that if my life
is to be prolonged he could do most to prolong it. And yet--' A dreamy
note came into the old man's voice; he paused, and the distortion of
his features was more painful, while the gleam in his eyes hardened
and intensified.

'And yet,' he went on, 'in my greatest emergency, that science, that
skill in which I trusted, failed me.'

Marillier said nothing. He felt that here he was treading upon the
thin crust of a still active volcano.

'They failed me,' the Pacha continued, 'as skill and science must
always fail when emotion prevents the will from aiding them. I cannot
altogether blame the Medicine Moor, though I think he might have done
more. Even the dread sentence--as he put it, "Will of Allah"--might
have been defied. Had I but understood then the power of human will--'
The metallic glare in the old man's eyes flickered. Weakness of the
body overpowered him for a minute or two. Marillier administered a
restorative and presently he went on.

'Doctor,' he said, 'do you not know that there are two supreme forces
by which man may, to an almost incredible extent, control his own
destiny. Those forces are Love and Will.'

Marillier smiled a little grimly.

'Love!' he repeated. 'That force at least is not within my control.'

'Yet you are one of those so constituted as to be able to absorb and
concentrate subtle energies of Nature. Take an old man's prophecy.
Believe that you have capacity to draw down power to accomplish your
desire. Do not, as was the case with me, realise that capacity when it
is too late.'

There was a short silence. Marillier's grim look had given place to a
puzzled one. The Pacha watched him carefully. Presently the old man
spoke again, this time with fiery determination.

'Now to business. If I live, we will talk of these things by-and-by. I
foresee that we shall have interesting subjects in common. Doctor
Marillier, I have decided. I place myself unreservedly in your hands.
Save me for a few years, a few months--it may be even a few weeks.
Strange as it may seem to you, I still find life sweet. The
Immensities spread beyond, yet I cling to this prison of flesh. I know
that there is one master to whom all must bow--the master Death. When
Death gives his sentence its execution cannot be delayed. But in my
case the fiat is perhaps not yet delivered. Stay it for awhile if you
can. Have no hesitation. Act. Perform the operation you propose. Carry
out the after treatment you have described. I care not a jot for the
opinion of Ffolliot and Carus Spencer, since they do not offer me
life. They may go to the devil. They shall hear from my own lips,
however, that I consent to what they consider useless and dangerous.
Have the goodness to ring.'

A strange scene followed. The Pacha summoned, as though to his
deathbed, Mademoiselle Isdas, the first secretary, his body servant
and others of his immediate entourage, including a man of law; and in
their presence had it affirmed by the physicians that he was in full
possession of his mental faculties--a point they could not dispute.

He then, in the most courteous terms, announced his intentions, and
took leave of the physicians, who departed, indignantly repudiating
responsibility, and leaving Marillier in possession of the case.

Before the operation, the Pacha again spoke privately to Marillier,
placing in his hand a sealed packet inscribed with directions that the
enclosure should be delivered to his Majesty the Emperor of Abaria.

It is possible that I may die under the knife,' he said, 'though I do
not think it likely. Will you do me the favour of keeping this letter
until the operation is over. If successful, you will return it to me.
If not--, He paused, and for a few moments seemed to be calculating

'I know that the operation will be successful,' said Marillier. 'How
long you may live after it, Pacha, depends, as you have said yourself,
upon whether Death has or has not, delivered his sentence. I believe
that you will live.'

'Nevertheless,' replied the Pacha, 'I should prefer that the letter
were in your keeping. It is important, and it is of a personal and
strictly private nature. I do not care to run any risk of its being
found and sent in the ordinary official course. It must be delivered
by private messenger into my Emperor's own hands. Within the outer
covering you will find another letter addressed to the Grand
Chancellor, who is my friend, by which an audience will be assured.
You will also find a sum of money amply sufficient to cover all
professional loss and expenses incurred, but totally insufficient as
an expression of my gratitude for the fulfilment of a most sacred
trust. Will you undertake this trust?'

Doctor Marillier hesitated. He had no mind to be mixed up Abarian
state intrigues. The Pacha Eagerly waited for his reply.

'If you will permit me, Excellency, to suggest--surely, since the
document is a State matter, and of importance, your first secretary,
my cousin Ruel Bey, would be a more proper custodian than I.'

The Pacha blazed out in fury. An imprecation was smothered before he
could find utterance.

'Have I not said that it is a private and personal matter, and that I
do not wish it to reach his Majesty in the ordinary official course?
And what do you think of me? Where is your penetration? Do you not
credit me with at least some knowledge of the nature of men? Ruel Bey
is the last person I should choose for such a trust. I ask you to take
charge of this letter in order that it may run no risk of falling into
the hands of my first secretary. I have studied Ruel Bey. I know to
what heights his ambition soars. I have read his pleasure-loving
nature. He has Greek blood in his veins--'

'And I also,' quietly observed Marillier.

'But you have none of the modern Greek characteristics. Forgive me,
doctor. In my diplomatic career I have had reason to distrust Greek
subtlety. And I am an autocratic old man, unaccustomed to be
contradicted or argued with. Besides, you know I am ill--I am very

The confession of weakness appealed to Marillier much as the
confession of fractiousness from a wayward child might appeal to one
who held the temporary place of guardian to the child. He gently put
his hand on the old man, and his touch seemed to soothe the Pacha and
to give him strength. But Marillier said nothing. He wondered whether
the Pacha was aware of the attachment between Ruel Bey and
Mademoiselle Isdas, and the old man's next words seemed to answer his

'I have been watching Ruel Bey closely--more closely than he has any
idea of. I have seen the conflict between passion and ambition...and I
have seen the influence he is exercising upon Mademoiselle Isdas,'
went on the Pacha, while it struck Marillier as odd that he should
speak of his niece in so formal and indifferent a fashion.

'Let Ruel Bey marry Mademoiselle Isdas if he pleases, or let him not
marry her if he so please--assuming that it be also the pleasure of
mademoiselle to marry or not to marry Ruel Bey. That is equal. I place
no compulsion on either in their wooing. I wait to give my consent or
my refusal as conditions dictate, when the matter is referred to me.
But I may die before I am referred to. That is also equal.'

The old man had lapsed into French, a frequent habit at the Embassy,
though English was the usual medium for social converse.

'Nevertheless,' he continued, 'this is important, for I may tell you
that Ruel Bey has emissaries at the Abarian Court, and his ambition
does not stop short at the attempt to succeed me. That will be as the
Fates decree, and as his Majesty may decide; but it is important that
Ruel Bey should have no temptation placed in his way to discover the
contents of this document if I die before he and Mademoiselle Isdas
have made up their minds to marry or not to marry.'

The Pacha sank back exhausted. Clearly, he was unfit for further
discussion. Something in the old man's tone, in his cold-blooded
allusion to Rachel Isdas, in his hint that the letter affected her
destinies in connection with those of Ruel Bey, caused Marillier's
heart to leap and made him decide to accept the responsibility. He
thought it possible that Isdas Pacha also suspected the
disinterestedness of Ruel Bey's love for Rachel, and that he intended
to put that love to the test, while at the same time guarding the girl
in some manner of which Marillier could have no definite notion, but
with which the letter to the Emperor of Abaria was evidently

'I will take your letter, Excellency,' he said. 'I feel that I may
safely accept the trust, and am prepared to fulfil it. For I am
confident that I shall not be called upon to do so, and that before
long this letter will be returned into your hands.'

* * *

Marillier's statement proved to be the case. Isdas Pacha received
back his letter as soon as the doctor pronounced him out of danger.
His convalescence, however, was slow. Even Marillier, while he
sedulously pursued the treatment which was as necessary as the
operation had been, sometimes asked himself whether he had not been
too sanguine, and whether Death were not merely awaiting a convenient
season for carrying out the already pronounced sentence. This thought
seemed vaguely also in the old man's mind. He was gay, cynical,
apparently not concerned with any idea of making his salvation,
causing thereby some uneasiness to the Catholic priest who attended
him; and yet the sense of impending finality was upon him, and often
he would preface some witty and unusually sacrilegious story with the
remark, 'Before I join the Immensities I must tell you this anecdote,
which will amuse you.' And then would follow some cleverly-pointed
profanity, which generally had the effect of driving away Nurse
Dalison and leaving the doctor alone with his patient.

Nurse Dalison was a lady trained in surgical cases, who had worked for
some time under Doctor Marillier, and had been chosen by him to
supersede the Pacha's former nurse as being possessed of a good manner
and tact, and therefore more likely than another to adapt herself to
the patient's peculiarities. He had reflected also that she might
prove an agreeable companion to Rachel, who, except for her own maid,
was without female company at the Embassy.

Nurse Dalison was graceful and sympathetic. Tall, slender and refined-
looking, she had the sensibility of a woman towards the sufferings of
man or beast, but the nerve of a man where her professional duties
were in question. She was at once practical and romantic, therefore
the luxury and social importance of the Embassy, the distinction of
the Pacha and the timid sweetness of Rachel appealed to her worldly
wisdom and to her imagination. Moreover, she was professionally
interested in the success of Doctor Marillier's methods.

One of her chief recommendations to the Pacha was that she had a good
French accent and read aloud extremely well, but Marillier was often
amused when he paid his calls to see the pained and bewildered
expression on Nurse Dalison's face as she read to the Pacha from some
one of his favourite authors, and the evident relief with which she
put down the book on the doctor's entrance. The Pacha would give a
sardonic smile from among his cushions. Upon one occasion he
remarked,--'My thanks, nurse: we'll continue later. I hope that I am
helping to assuage your thirst for Eastern knowledge. Mrs Dalison is
devoted to the East, doctor. She once nursed an English attach
through a broken leg at Constantinople. That gave her a taste. I am
introducing her to The Arabian Nights--not the original version, bien
entendu--but a most discreet translation; and entertaining, nurse,
eh--entertaining?' 'Oh! very entertaining, Excellency. Most quaint.
Only not quite English in the way of putting things, you know,'
pleaded the nurse; then turning to Marillier, 'It is in French.
Reading things in French makes such a difference.'

The Pacha chuckled.

'Dear Mrs Grundy! She is a most curious lady, your Mrs Grundy. She
will leave the newspapers in the schoolroom; she will bowdlerise
Shakespeare; she will put the Old Testament unexpurgated into her
young daughters' hands; but she won't stand The Arabian Nights--except
in French.'

Marillier laughed and relieved Nurse Dalison's embarrassment by asking
for her report. Most days, after this was given, he remained for a
chat with Isdas.

Thus a good many hours were passed by Marillier in the Ambassador's
private sitting-room---that room at the end of the suite which
adjoined his bedroom, and which was separated from the other
apartments by folding doors and heavy velvet curtains. Here the old
man, as he got better, would sit in state, clothed in a gorgeous
dressing-gown, his red fez surmounting the keen, wrinkled and yet
indescribably-attractive face--so old and yet ever young with the
immortal youth of intellect and of a psychological capacity for
passion, scarcely weakened by the impossibility of material
gratification. To the doctor, he was a strange--occasionally a
revolting--study, as he told his stories of amours and intrigues in
the cynical manner of an Eastern sensualist turned philosopher. Then
quickly perceiving the effect he produced, Isdas would launch upon
some wholly intellectual stream of talk, astonishing Marillier by his
learning, and more especially by the grasp he had of occult subjects,
out-of-the-way bits of knowledge in relation to the properties of
plants and minerals, the meaning of old myths and superstitions, and
the practical application of these in modern medicine, which was to
Marillier a subject of unfailing fascination.

The Pacha's room was lined on one side with cabinets of Eastern
design, gem-crusted and of extraordinary value, and with bookshelves
containing rare editions, mostly of works on mysticism, as well as
many old manuscripts and parchments in Hebrew, Arabic and other
characters with which Marillier was unacquainted. He had seen such
manuscripts inscribed also as some of these were, in astrological
figures, in the library of the Medicine Moor.

On the other side of the room, flanking the fireplace, and in ironic
contrast to these treasures, were ranges of ledges on which, closely
massed, were photographs and portraits of lovely women--the
acknowledged beauties of most of the European capitals, and of others,
fairer and perhaps more frail, who presumably bad not such social
distinction. One of these, a snap-shot, taken evidently by artificial
light, of an Eastern dancer, attracted Marillier's attention. The
attitude was one of incomparable seduction, yet with nothing in it of
coarseness, while the face of exquisite Oriental loveliness had a
fascination which seemed not of the earth and yet not of heaven, but
rather of the soulless under-world. This was the idea which came into
Marillier's mind. The face seemed that of some spirit enchained to
flesh by a love which only in satisfying its mortal claims could
attain deathless peace. The Pacha did not at once answer his question
concerning the photograph; the old man's eyes took that far-away gleam
which, as Marillier had found occasion to observe, usually preluded
the revelation of a side of his nature not apparent to most people.
Marillier spoke of his own vague fancy about the photograph, and the
Pacha nodded approvingly.

'You are right. I am glad to see that you have intuition of a certain
kind. One does not often meet with it. That little picture represents
my own sudden conviction of truths I had always doubted, and which I
then realised--unfortunately too late. I'll tell you something about
it--the whole story is too long, and if it were not, I am bound to
secrecy in some of its details. You have lived in Algeria, and you
knew the Medicine Moor. Well, it is not improbable that you have heard
of a peculiar sect living in the Kabyle hills, who still worship,
according to almost prehistoric rites, the Great Generative Power in
the Universe, and who use the same symbols as are found graven on the
monoliths of Yucatan--symbols which belong to a civilisation and a
faith extinct in that region centuries before the Spanish conquest.
Have you heard of this sect?'

'I have heard of the people,' Marillier replied. 'I was interested,
just lately, in tracing the correspondence you speak of between the
hieroglyphs of Central America and those of Northern Africa. But what
has that to do with this portrait of the dancer?'

'I will explain as far as I can. Nearly twenty-five years ago, there
came into my life a phase of utter scepticism--a sense of abandonment
by all spiritual powers, whether of good or evil. The desire of my
soul had been taken from me beyond the possibility of recall, and all
other things were as nothing to me--neither God nor the devil of
greater or lesser account, for I scarcely believed in either.'

The Pacha's sepulchral voice vibrated as if it were the echo,
Marillier thought, of some bygone agony which had well-nigh rent body
and spirit asunder.

'I am not sure,' the Ambassador went on, 'that I now acknowledge God
and the devil as anything more than the opposite poles of an
unknowable force, which, for anything I can tell, may be blind,
unreasoning, relentless as its material counterpart, electricity.
Then, all was as naught to me; and yet, I would, for the mere sake of
sensation, and especially for certainty of something beyond matter,
have penetrated Hades, or pledged a phantom Helen. It was in this mood
that I fell in with some members of that particular sect I spoke of.
My curiosity, my intellect, were aroused. I was present at one of
their evocatory ceremonies, held to the strains of music which is
indescribable, and which, once and for all, made me realise the truth
of that science of vibrations which has been practised by all
occultists from time immemorial. You know that strains of music, in
varying and peculiar rhythm, played a large part in the Mysteries of
old, as well as in all necromantic ceremonial. Witness the mere modern
instances of snake jugglery and Obi-worship. Anyone who has studied
these subjects must acknowledge that phenomena can be produced through
the operation of certain vibrations of sound upon corresponding
vibrations in the unseen universe.'

'Of course,' said Marillier, 'there must be X sounds as there are X
rays. We need only the apparatus by which to test them.'

Again the Pacha nodded. His voice had now become more even, and had
its usual metallic resonance.

'Well, to go on with my story. I attended, as I said, one of the
evocatory ceremonies of that particular sect. I may not speak of the
rites, but I may say that the spectacle was one of the weirdest and
most impressive I ever witnessed, and, as you may now imagine, I had
already gone through some strange experiences of the kind. I wanted to
be convinced of the existence of something beyond matter, and I had my
wish, though not to the gratification of any personal desire. A
phantom Helen--that dancer, whose picture you see, photographed by
myself--was called forth from the vapours above earth or the deeps of
the underworld--which, I cannot tell---to prove to me the might of
those forces I spoke to you of not long ago--the two supreme forces,
Love and Will. She was doubtless an emanation from the Vital Energy
which creates and maintains life on the universe, and it was shown to
me how, by means of love and will,--the indestructible principle may
be drawn upon and used by those who have been initiated into a special
form of magic, so that by it, life can literally be infused into that
which was dead and inanimate. Had I but known the secret a few months
earlier, I, too, might have tasted, if but for one short hour, the
fruit of my heart's desire.' Again the Pacha's voice thrilled his
listener with that echo of bygone passion and pain.

'But it was too late! God or Satan mocked my unavailing agony, and if
I had never before understood the full meaning of that hackneyed
phrase, "The irony of Fate," I understood it then. With my own eyes I
beheld that fair phantom, vitalised from the central source of life,
pour living fire from her warm bosom into the cold breast of a corpse.
I saw her, in one glowing kiss upon the lips of a dead old man,
restore the dried-up mummy to youth and vigour, to the joy of life and
the ecstasy of love. So, for rapturous moments that to him and her
might well have seemed eternity, the dead man lived. The moments
passed; the phantom vanished; the dead became lifeless once more. But
to me the great secret of Nature had been revealed, and I knew the
latent power which exists in man, and by which, if he has learned the
way, he may almost master his destiny. Had I practised that power in
earlier manhood, I, too, might have called down the Promethean fire.
Had I learned the magic evocation--had I conquered my own weakness and
turned love from my tyrant to my slave--had I, in truth, loved with
such knowledge as well as such intensity, that, to secure my desire, I
could have put forth my very soul in an effort of will which neither
man nor angel nor demon might have gainsaid--oh! if I could have done

The Pacha's skinny fingers beat the coverlet in a feeble paroxysm of
excitement, and for a moment or two he seemed, as he had himself
phrased it, to be face to face with the Immensities.

'Marillier,' he resumed more quietly, 'if I could have done this, I,
too, standing by the corpse of one who, living, was to me as the
vision of distant heaven, and dead, the realisation of hell, might in
a kiss have instilled life into the inanimate form, and lifting it
breathing to my breast, have drunk of immortality! It is the mystery
of mysteries, doctor, that transfusion of life into death by the magic
of love. Ponder it. Yearn for its key--the key which you hold almost
in your hand--and by the strength of your will, wrest its secret from
God or Nature or the Devil--what matter whose it be, so that you make
it your own. But remember that, to accomplish such an end, you must
project your very soul, as it were, out of your body upon the object
of your desire. Take the prophecy of an old man who has overstepped
the border of an unknown land. The desire will be born in you--the
germ already lies in your heart; the hour of struggle will arrive, and
with it the force, if you choose to put it forth, which will give you
the mastery. Bear in mind the words of one who has failed.'

The Pacha's wrinkled eyelids drooped over his brilliant eyes, and but
for his quick breathing, he himself might have been taken for a
corpse. While he spoke strange emotions surged up in Marillier's
breast. He, too, seemed on the borderland of a region hitherto
untrodden. A fierce craving seized him and an immense regret. The
regret found utterance.

'Look at me, Excellency,' he cried. 'Compare me with such a man as,
say, Ruel Bey, your first secretary. Is it likely that I shall ever
inspire love, much less subdue it, to serve my desires, though it is
true that I have always despised its lower gratifications. The only
love I could ever feel would be one all-embracing--a blending of flesh
and spirit, and yet unsatisfying; for though I might give my all to
save the woman I loved suffering, I could scarcely dare to claim any

The Pacha opened his eyes and scanned the strong moved face, the
thick-set, awkward figure. As he studied Marillier a faint smile
hovered about his lips.

'That is the love which conquers,' he said. 'Wait till your time comes
and then recall my words. The hour, the desire and the knowledge will
arrive together. In my case the hour and the desire ran a race with
knowledge, and were stopped on their course by Death. Knowledge won
the goal at last, and knowledge has served this body, and has given
glory and power and a certain sense of satisfaction to a career that
would otherwise have been barren. We are told that when matter ceases
to be, it changes into a higher form. I have found the process
reversed. In my case, spirit has degenerated into matter. Twenty-five
years ago I had a soul; I too, scorned the lower loves. I understood
that spiritual love of which you speak. Then the soul died, but the
flesh flourished exceedingly. In fact, I have barely regretted the
loss of an ideal. So agreeable, indeed, has matter proved, as a
substitute for spirit, that I am extremely anxious to retard its
disintegration. And it strikes me that you are forgetting the patient,
doctor, and that my medicine is due. I had intended to-day to show you
some uncanny possessions of mine that I mean to leave you in my will
as a token of gratitude for keeping me in the world a little longer.
Another time, however. Will you ring? I am inclined to sleep. And do
you, as you pass through, ask a cup of tea from Mademoiselle Isdas,
whom you will, no doubt, find at this time in the outer salon. Should
Ruel Bey be with her, inform him, please, that this week's despatches
are to be brought to me in good time for corrections, and send him
about his business to the Chancellery.'


The heavy curtains of the Pacha's sitting-room closed behind
Marillier, and with a dazed sensation, as though he had been breathing
some heady Oriental perfume, he lingered for a moment or two in the
second reception-room, which was now used as a sort of ante-room to
the Ambassador's private apartments. It was strewn with flowers, and
had the usual row of cards of inquiry laid upon the inlaid centre
table. The portire which divided this from the further and more
generally used drawing-room, was slightly parted; he could hear the
rattle of tea-cups, the gentle tones of Mademoiselle Isdas, and the
mellow voice of Ruel Bey. So absorbed were the two, that they did not
hear the approach of Marillier, and he, standing with the curtain in
his hand, could see the scene framed as if it were a picture.

A pretty picture. The tea-table was set beneath a tall palm, of which
one of the fronds hung over the portrait of the Emperor of Abaria,
casting a shadow upon the refined features and the melancholy eyes
with their haunting, world-wearied expression. As Marillier's gaze
dropped from the Emperor's portrait to the face of the girl below it,
he was struck in a sudden and, as he thought, incongruous fashion by a
faint similarity, an indescribable alikeness in the oval contour of
both faces, and in the shape, and, he fancied, the expression of the
eyes. He could not define the likeness to himself, but accounted for
it upon the supposition that Mademoiselle Isdas must be, upon her
mother's side, of Oriental descent.

He had, of course, seen her many times since the occasion of their
first interview; indeed, it had become almost a habit that when
leaving the Pacha he should, after his afternoon visit, receive a cup
of tea at her hands; but beautiful as she had always seemed, never had
her beauty struck him so forcibly as to-day. There was a tinge of pink
upon her cheeks, and a brighter light shone in her eyes, while at the
same time, he noticed a suggestion of emotion, held in check, no
doubt, by the presence of the butler, who was only now closing the
door behind him. Marillier wondered at the sudden tightening in his
own chest as he guessed the cause of the emotion. Ruel Bey was
standing by the tea-table, his Greek head thrown a little back, his
eyes lowered towards Mademoiselle Isdas, as he held towards her in
one hand a peach, in the other a bunch of purple grapes, and asked her
which she would prefer.

She chose the peach, and he seated himself and began to peel it, while
just then Rachel perceived Marillier.

She welcomed him with her soft, friendly smile--no words. It was one
of Mademoiselle Isdas's peculiarities that her eyes and smile were
often more eloquent than her utterance. She made him his tea, Russian
fashion, as he liked it, and pressed cakes upon him--little wafers
encrusted with nougat.

'Do you know,' she said, 'these are made after a receipt I brought
with me from the convent. We were allowed to have them upon certain
fte days, and when we had specially-favoured visitors--not that this
often happened to me.'

'So you had not many visitors?' asked Marillier, helping himself to a

'No, not many. During all those years, they were so few that I could
count them on my fingers. Thanks, monsieur,' as Ruel Bey handed her
the peach, and with a new sensation of delight Marillier watched her
little white teeth meet in the luscious fruit.

'How is the Pacha?' asked Ruel Bey

'Better,' replied the doctor. 'A little tired just now and going off
to sleep. By the way, he asked me to tell you that he wants the
despatches brought him in good time for correction.'

Marillier did not add the last part of the Pacha's injunction. It was
not necessary, for the first secretary got up at once.

'Then I must go down to the Chancellery, for I am altogether
behindhand. A thousand thanks, mademoiselle. You will permit me to
find you here this evening when I come to the Pacha after dinner? It
would be delightful to have some music.

Marillier saw the two pairs of eyes meet. Ruel Bey's full of ardent
beseeching and of a meaning at which he could only guess: the girl's
troubled, he fancied reproachful.

'I don't know,' she answered. 'Sometimes my singing annoys Excellence
instead of pleasing him.'

'That is only when you sing Irish songs,' said Ruel Bey, lightly.
'Mademoiselle, two things puzzle me. How have you--brought up in a
foreign country--learned to sing Irish melodies with an entrain that
seems born of the very soil, and, in truth, with the faintest touch of
the Irish brogue, which is the most fascinating of all accents in a
woman's speech? And why should our cold, cynical Excellence show angry
emotion over "Love's Young Dream"--the effect of which he might be
supposed to have forgotten. But no--' and, with a whimsical shake of
the head, Ruel Bey sang softly,---

'He'll never meet A joy so sweet In all his noon of fame.

Another glance at Rachel, and the whimsical manner changed to one of
scarcely-veiled tenderness as he sang on, still more softly,---

'That hallow'd form is ne'er forgot

Which first love trac'd;

Still it lingering haunts the greenest spot

On memory's waste.

'Twas odour fled

As soon as shed;

'Twas morning's winged dream;

Oh, 'twas light that ne'er can shine again

On life's dull stream.'

A quiver passed over Rachel Isdas's sensitive features. Marillier saw
that she was thrilled to the quick by a peculiar emotional note in the
voice of Ruel Bey, and he thought of what the Pacha had said
concerning the power of musical vibrations. Then came, too, into his
mind a remembrance of what Tolstoi has written on this subject in his
novel The Kreutzer Sonata. There was silence for a few moments.
Mademoiselle Isdas, recalled by Ruel Bey's reiterated question,
uttered in a tone of daring which annoyed Marillier, said gently,---

'I cannot tell why the Pacha should have been so moved as he was the
other evening by those words. But for myself, it is not strange that I
should be able to sing Irish melodies, even with a touch of the
brogue, as you say. We had an Irish nun in the convent, and she taught
me how to sing that very song, which was one of many that I found in
an old bundle of music left me by my Irish mother.'

'Your mother?' exclaimed Marillier, startled out of his previous

'Yes; my mother was an Irishwoman,' answered Mademoiselle Isdas,
'but, of course, I cannot remember her, for she died in Algeria soon
after I was born.'

Both men gave an involuntary exclamation. To both, the mystery of the
Pacha's emotion seemed solved. But Marillier felt still a little
perplexed, and unconsciously his eyes were again lifted to the
portrait of the Emperor of Abaria. How then could he have detected the
trace of Oriental descent in the features of Mademoiselle Isdas? And
it was there! Now that he had once observed this, it appeared to him
to proclaim itself remarkably. Yet the Pacha, he knew, belonged to an
old Avaranese family.

Again, Marillier was annoyed with Ruel Bey for his daring, knowing the
thought which must be in the young man's mind as well as in his own.

'And you do not remember your father either, mademoiselle?' asked the
first secretary.

'No, answered the girl, simply. 'No one has ever spoken to me about my
father. I know nothing of him. I suppose he must have died before I
was born. That, at least, is the explanation I have given myself. When
I once asked Excellence to tell me about my father he seemed to shrink
so from the subject that I concluded it was a painful one to him and I
never asked again. After all,' she added with an unconscious cynicism,
which seemed to Marillier infinitely pathetic, 'when one has been
alone from babyhood there is no great need to distress the living by
questions about a parent for whom his child had no existence.'

'That is true,' said Ruel Bey. 'Isdas Pacha would be the first, I
imagine, to appreciate your sound philosophy. Mademoiselle, I shall
bring up my violin this evening in the hope of having some music. For
the moment, adieu.' He stooped and raised the girl's little hand to
his lips. 'Excuse me, Lucien,' he added, 'we shall meet to-morrow.'

Ruel Bey went down to the Chancellery, and Marillier Mademoiselle
Isdas were left alone. She offered him some more tea; he accepted it
mechanically and mechanically also ate some grapes she which handed

'Mademoiselle Isdas,' he said suddenly, 'my cousin is more fortunate
than myself. I have never heard you sing.'

'That wish can be very easily gratified, doctor,' she answered with
the sweet friendliness she always showed him. 'But I must not sing
just now, for if the Pacha is going to sleep, it would disturb him. I
wish I could do something better than that to prove to you my

'What have I done, mademoiselle, that can deserve your gratitude?'

'You have saved Excellence. His death would mean a sad loss to me.'

'And yet you are not greatly attached to your uncle,' said Marillier,

'Am I not? How deeply you read into people's minds! That, I suppose,
comes of your power of diagnosing patients. I have heard that it is

'I am right then?'

She hesitated, but seemed compelled to frankness by his searching

'The Pacha frightens me,' she said in a low tone. 'Sometimes he repels
me, and yet sometimes he almost fascinates me. I have often tried to
analyse my feelings towards him, and I cannot. I think that I could
love him if he only cared for me.'

'You think he does not care for you?' asked Marillier, intensely
interested in the girl's confession.

'I feel that there are moments when he positively hates me,' replied
she. 'I have never said this to anybody; not even to--' she paused and
blushed. He filled up the gap.

'Not even to Ruel Bey?'

'No,' she almost whispered.

'Are you frightened of Ruel Bey too?' he asked, with a roughness of
which he was scarcely aware till the girl's startled eyes met his own.

'Why do you ask that?' she said agitatedly. 'Is there any reason for
your question--any reason why I should not feel myself safe with Ruel

'So that thought has occurred to you, and there have been moments in
which you have feared the fascination of Ruel Bey?'

'Oh, that is true--that is true!' she cried. 'How is it that you know?
Doctor Marillier, there is no reason why I should fear Ruel Bey; there
can be none. Tell me that I may trust him.'

'I cannot tell you that, Mademoiselle Isdas, for I--I do not know.
Your own pure instinct must that question. Trust your instinct, and
remember what I said to you the first time we ever talked together.
Trust me also, for I will defend you against him if need be; and, if
need be, even against myself.'

'There could be no need for that,' she answered, and, as in their
first interview, a childlike faith in himself which stirred the depths
of his heart, shone from her eyes.

'Mademoiselle,' he cried, 'tell me this--only this. Do you love Ruel

A deep flush suffused Rachel's cheeks; her eyes dropped, and she
reared her small head with, as he fancied, something of outraged
dignity. He had the sense of virginal pride aroused in her, of
maidenly passion which had been unwarrantably laid bare.

'That,' she said, 'is a question which no one but he has any right to

'I am answered,' said Marillier, gently, and yet with some bitterness.
'I am rebuked for my presumption as I deserve to be. And yet I have
some claim to your confidence and his; for, as I told you before, if
practical difficulties should arise to interfere with your joint
hapiness, it might be in my power to smooth them. He may be--is your
lover, your future husband; think of me, to whom he stands in nearest
blood relation, as your friend. Forgive me,' he went on, and ventured
to touch the hand which Ruel Bey had kissed. 'I am much older than
you, Mademoiselle Isdas--older than the man you love; and then, my
profession, and all the graver interests of life which it forces me to
consider, removes me from the circle of ordinary acquaintanceship,
even of ordinary friendship. Grant me its privileges; they shall not
be abused. I am deeply sympathetic with you. I long to know more of
your inner feelings. If I understood them, I might be able to help you
in circumstances we can neither of us fully foresee. The power to do
this would be a compensation for the loss of joys, which from the
conditions of my life have been forbidden me. To be of service to you,
no matter in what capacity, under what limitations, would be one of
the greatest pleasures I could know.' She was moved by his appeal, and
her slim fingers grasped his, as a child's fingers might grip the
strong hand of one whom it recognised as a protector of its weakness.
Again he was thrilled by contact with, as he phrased it, that little
bundle of nerve fibres.

'I thank you,' she said. 'I trust you, as my friend--my best friend.'

'That is agreed.'

He held her hand for a moment against his breast, and she could feel
his heart throb, but he did not kiss it as Ruel Bey had done. Then he
released it, laying it gently back upon the tea-table.

'We understand each other, and we are friends--always. Mademoiselle
Isdas,' he added in a different tone, 'it seems to me that you have
not many friends.'

'You are right,' she answered. 'I have scarcely any friends, as you
would use the word. None at all in London.'

'And yet you must have made friends since you came to the Embassy,
among the English ladies whom the Pacha knows.'

She shuddered slightly.

'I think I must be different in my thoughts and feelings from the
ladies whom the Pacha knows. And you are mistaken if you think that
they come to see me at the Embassy. Of course they come very often;
but they talk chiefly to the Pacha and to the secretaries, and they
admire the trophies and the leopard outside, and the Abarian shields,
and ask to have the inscriptions translated; and they say it is all
very foreign and interesting, and they look at me strangely, and some
patronise me in a way I do not like--as though I were a part of the
foreign mise-en-scne--odd and rather interesting too. But that is
all. They do not make friends with me.'

Marillier mentally went over his own list of women acquaintances. He
too had few intimate friends. He did not know one woman of the world
whom he could ask to befriend Mademoiselle Isdas. He regretted that
he had lived like a hermit absorbed in his profession and his books.

Mademoiselle Isdas went on,---

'There has scarcely been time to know anyone intimately. It is only
three months since I came to London. That was the middle of the
season, when everyone was busy. Then we went to Scarborough and the
Pacha got ill. But it does not matter. I am used to feeling lonely;
only I can't help missing the convent life sometimes and the dear

'Yet that life must have been cramped and depressing for one so young,
who was not a nun,' he said.

'Cramped and depressing?' She gave a little laugh. It seems to me that
London life--its banal fashionable life--is much more cramped and
depressing. My nuns were not at all the kind of persons you might
imagine. They were full of intellectual interests. The Reverend Mother
was wonderful. She had been a great lady; she knew the world and yet
was not of it. Many well-born girls were educated at the convent; and
the Reverend Mother and the Sisters were quite proud when their girls
made good marriages. You see we were not out of the reach of Parisian
echoes.' 'I see. It seems strange to me that you were not one of those
fated to make what you call a good marriage. Did you never go away
from the convent?'

Rachel blushed slightly.

'I stayed with my friends in their homes sometimes; but I had no
thought of marriage. I could not marry unless I loved. It would have
been impossible for me to marry as some of the girls did. All were not
happy; the outside brilliance meant very little in reality. I had one
or two friends who wrote to me afterwards, and they were miserable--
miserable. I always said to myself that, at least, should not be my
fate. At one time I thought I had a religious vocation, but it was not
so. The Reverend Mother herself questioned me and pointed out to me
that I did not understand my own nature and that I should be making a
mistake. She told me that I should wait and cling to my ideals and
hold myself apart till the time came, if it were God's will that it
should come, when my heart would be really touched.'

The girl's eyes dropped; she took up from a worktable near her a doll
she had been dressing, no doubt, when Ruel Bey interrupted the
occupation, and her fingers played with it in a manner intensely

'This is for the Children's Fete at the convent on New Year's Day,'
she said. 'I used always to dress the dolls. The Sisters said I did it
better than any of them, and I am going to send a boxful this year.
Each doll is to represent a flower. This'--and she held up the dainty
wax thing for him to admire--'is one of the family of anemones. There
will be red and pink, and pale and dark blue, and mauve and purple.
You know how the anemones grow under the olive trees in the South?
There were woods and olive groves round my convent.'

'Where was your convent?' asked Marillier.

'Not very far from Toulon. The Convent of the Assumption. You may have
heard of it?'

'No,' said Marillier, touched and amused by the girl's simplicity.
What should he know about convent schools for girls?

'I thought it possible,' she said, 'because, for one thing, the music
was so famous. People used to come a long way to the services. And
there were lay Sisters who went about as nurses, and who were sent for
to nurse sick people--Catholics--at Hyres and some of those winter
places. And beside, I heard you telling the Pacha that you had lived
in Algiers, and this convent was connected with one in Algiers, where
I was taken as a little baby and kept till I was old enough to be sent
over to the school.'

'You were born in Algeria,' said Marillier, thoughtfully. 'And your
mother was an Irishwoman? You don't remember your mother, Mademoiselle

'I have told you; she died a fortnight after I was born.'

'So the Pacha has been your only guardian--your only relative? He
ought not to hate you, mademoiselle. That is a strange fancy of

'I cannot help it,' she answered in the low, timid voice in which she
spoke of her relations with the Ambassador. 'Do you remember my
telling you that I had a sort of second-sight, something like that
which you described to me by which you know whether your patients will
live or die.'

'Stay!' he said. 'I spoke too confidently. I told you at first that I
knew in connection with the Pacha. Now I am obliged to tell you
frankly that I cannot say I know.'

'Do you mean,' she said, with a startled glance up at him from the
doll she was still caressing with her fingers, 'do you mean that you
are not certain whether Excellence will live or die?'

'Yes, I am obliged to say that I am not certain. I hope and think he
may live for several years yet, but my power of diagnosis in his case
seems curiously blurred. I cannot say I know.'

There was a little silence.

'I am very, very sorry,' she murmured distressfully. 'Do not think too
much of it. I will do all that my medical science enables me to do.
Beyond that, trust and wait. I was obliged to say this, because I must
be true to you, and I could not let you remain under even the
slightest misapprehension. But I bade you trust me. Trust me still.'

'Yes, I will trust you.'

'And now go on telling me. You spoke of your inward vision in regard
to your feeling that the Pacha had no real love for you.'

'Love! Oh, no, no. It has never been love, but I have interested him.
He has felt, too, that he has a duty to perform towards me. I have
read all that in his face. It was the sense of duty that made him come
and see me when I was twelve years old. He was then Abarian Ambassador
to the Court of Italy. I shall never forget the expression of his eyes
when he took my hand and looked into my face.'

'He was moved at the sight of you?'

'Yes, strangely moved. I could tell that. And he seemed to be
searching for something. I wondered afterwards if he was trying to
find a likeness in me to somebody he had loved--or hated. I wondered
if that could have been my father, and if he had hated him. For, oh!
Doctor Marillier, he did find something which made him hate me.'

'Surely you must have been mistaken. Or, if there were that momentary
feeling, it must have passed?'

'Yes, it passed. After a little while he became, just--Excellence, as
you know him, only younger and handsomer. But the strange thing is,
Doctor Marillier, that even when I knew that he hated me I did not
hate him. I was sorry for him. Every time he came to see me, though I
shrank from him at the time, I always felt sorry when he went away.
And when at last, he sent for me to come here, though I was miserable
at leaving the Reverend Mother and the Sisters, and the dear old happy
life, I was glad in a curious way--glad at the thought of being with
him and of perhaps doing something to make his life less lonely. He
has never, you know, had wife or child of his own.'

'He has had other things,' said Marillier.

'Oh, yes, he has had power and grandeur and the confidence of his
Emperor and the friendship of princes. He has had everything, I
suppose, that a successful diplomatist could have desired. But what
has it availed him now that he is going into the darkness? And he
loves life.'

'Yes, he loves life,' repeated Marillier, his mind going back to the
talk he had had with the Ambassador a little while back. 'I will do
what I can, mademoiselle, to preserve his life for him.'

'I should have liked,' she said thoughtfully, 'to make the darkness
lighter for poor Excellence, but he still hates me, Doctor Marillier;
he hated me the other evening when I sang that Irish song. And I
wonder why! I wonder why!'

Marillier echoed the words 'I wonder why!'


The Pacha did not till some time later fulfil his promise to show
Marillier the legacy of uncanny possessions to which he had referred.
October was advancing. The autumnal mists were creeping over parks and
squares, and leaves were yellowing and fluttering to earth. London was
beginning to fill again, and often, when Marillier paid his semi-
professional afternoon call, he found the outer reception-rooms at the
Embassy fairly full of visitors, the most important and attractive of
whom were admitted one by one to the further sanctum, where the
Ambassador, prepared by a careful process of massage, curling, dyeing,
and other mysterious toilet arrangements, carried out by Soranzo, his
accomplished body-servant, sat in invalid state, and made himself
still interesting and agreeable to the charming women who sought his
society. He was sprightly, cynical and witty, as they had always found
him, and yet scarcely one left him without feeling in an indefinable
way that Death's wings hovered over the chamber.

In Marillier's mind this feeling was present at all times. He could
not say, medically speaking, that his cure had not been successful.
There was no flaw to detect. The special treatment upon which he and
the other doctors had disagreed, appeared to be doing its work, but
Marillier was not satisfied and could feel no assurance within himself
that the old man might not at any time collapse. He was unremitting in
his attentions. The treatment was carried out under his own
supervision by a young medical student whom he had himself trained and
who had been his assistant in the operation, and by Nurse Dalison, in
whom he had full confidence. These two, devoted to Marillier,
believing in his methods and jealous of his professional reputation,
were, like himself, perfectly aware that these slightly unorthodox
methods might be called in questionn overtly, if not openly, by the
London faculty if it should not be that the Ambassador's complete
recovery put the seal on their efficacy.

At that time also, certain diplomatic complications called for greater
activity in the Chancellery and more frequent communication with the
Abarian capital. An affair of moment in the East, concerning the
treatment of Christian subjects upon a province in the dominions of
the Emperor of Abaria, gave Ruel Bey an opportunity for advancing
himself at the seat of government, upon which the Pacha effusively
complimented his first secretary, but which Marillier divined he
secretly resented. For it happened that Ruel Bey had been formerly a
resident of the place in question, and had a peculiar knowledge of the
intricacies of the affair which was at the moment specially valuable.
He had received a message of commendation from his Imperial master,
which the Pacha duly delivered; and was frankly exultant, informing
Marillier that his promotion was now certain, and that it would not
surprise him were he, in the event of the Pacha's death, to be
appointed his successor. Political intrigue and press of diplomatic
work seemed just then to have thrown into the background his suit for
the hand of Mademoiselle Isdas and Marillier found himself wondering
whether Rachel Isdas, who was not officially recognised be considered
a fitting mate by the ambitious embryo ambassador. Rachel looked pale
and wretched, and seemed to shrink more than ever from touch with the
world around her. Once or twice, Marillier found her dispensing tea to
the Pacha's visitors, but it was with a shy reserve, a timid hauteur,
which accentuated her equivocal position, since it showed her
consciousness of it.

No one doubted that there was some tie between her and the Pacha, but
to all, it was clear that the Pacha himself felt no anxiety that her
claim should be recognised, also that often her presence was
distasteful to him. He did not seem at any time to greatly desire her
company, and almost the only occasions upon which she appeared to give
him any pleasure were when, after the reading over of despatches and
transaction of the day's business with Ruel Bey, he requested that the
curtains between the rooms should be opened, so that his vexed soul,
like that of Saul, might be soothed by her music, which, oddly enough,
he preferred to be of a devotional character. Rachel never again sang
Irish melodies, but she and Ruel Bey would perform some portion of a
stately mass, the two voices blending, or he accompanying Rachel on
the violin.

More than once these performances were timed so that Marillier might
hear them, and Rachel would smile up at him as he entered and begin
again, as though in friendly recognition of his right to be considered
and of the claims of their compact of friendship. When he went back to
his own house in Harley Street after these evening visits to the
Embassy, Marillier would sometimes ask himself whether his pain did
not counterbalance his pleasure; yet he made no attempt to cut them
short, and would not for the world have missed the experience.

It was clear, however, that Ruel Bey had made no formal proposal to
the Pacha for Mademoiselle Isdas's hand in marriage.

* * *

Early one afternoon in the beginning of October, Marillier found the
Pacha standing by one of the bookcases peering at the titles of some
volumes bound in old leather. One of these he had just taken from its

'Can I help you?' asked Marillier. 'I see that you are looking up

The Pacha returned to his chair, still holding the volume.

'Do you know this?' he asked. 'It should be in your line of study.'

Marillier took the book from the shrivelled hand which trembled with
its weight.

'The Herball of John Gerarde, 1636,' he read. 'Yes, of course I know
it. What shall I look up for you?'

'I want to find a passage which relates to a belief held by some
ancient writers concerning the mandrake,' he answered. 'I mean the
property it was supposed to possess of restoring life to the dying.'

'I don't know that superstition,' replied Marillier. 'I thought the
qualities of the root were thought to mainly aphrodisiac.'

'And you look upon the whole thing as most people do, who have had no
personal experience of the matter,' said the Pacha, a note of
irritation in his voice. 'To such people the mandrake is a mere peg
for superstitious legend, as mythological as the ingredients of
Circe's potion, with which some old writer identifies it. They forget
that there has never been a myth or a mythological being, without some
foundation of fact.'

'I agree with you,' replied Marillier. 'It has always been my opinion
that myth never gathered round any production of nature unless there
were in it something to justify the superstition. That question of
occult properties in plants and minerals has always interested me.
Take the wychhazel, for instance, medicinally, and in the shape of the
divining rod. Take some of the ancient prescriptions in which the
virtue of certain plants consisted in their being gathered under
particular phases of the moon, and in which human and animal
ingredients were used, with magical formul. Modern science has left
out magical incantations, but it restores exhausted nerve force with a
decoction of rabbits' brains, and it employs the blood of bullocks,
the thyroid gland and other organic preparations, in the treatment of
diseases. As for the moon, its influence on vegetable and animal life
cannot be disputed.'

'You remind me,' said the Pacha, 'of that Sclavonic superstition--if
you call it so--as to the power of a three-leaved fern grown and
gathered with the aid of magical incantations on St John's day at
midnight. You know the idea that St John's plants attract wandering
spirits, and that other special plants repel them. Then there are the
miracle leaves of the Catholic Church, which have made cures as well
authenticated as any in the Acts of the Saints, and the holy tree of
Kumbum, which grows leaves printed with sacred Thibetan characters. Do
you know the plant drosera, which is affected, even at a distance, by
particular metals? One might multiply examples. Why did the Sibyl of
Cum wear a wreath of verbena--a plant that was much used in the
temples to stimulate imagination? Have you ever, by the way, tried it
on sensitives? Why did the Delphic Pythoness chew laurel to produce
ecstasy? Why were beans forbidden to the initiates in the Eleusinian
Mysteries, and a special injunction laid upon the Flamen Dialis not so
much as to mention them? And then you remember the Greek superstition
that beans hidden under manure become living beings?'

'That brings us back to the mandrake,' said Marillier, 'and the old
idea that it is engendered under earth, of the corpse of a person put
to death for murder. Of course,' he went on, 'we all know the medical
properties ascribed to the mandrake. I have often wondered that the
root has not a more prominent place in the modern pharmacopoeia.
Chloroform has superseded it as an ansthetic, but I have sometimes
thought of verifying the ancients' use of it in surgical operations.'

'How can you suppose that a root of which sorcerers made philtres and
that witches fashioned into familiars, would be welcomed into the
respectable modern British pharmacopoeia?' said the Pacha, sneeringly.
'Have you seen a genuine mandrake? Most of the little fetiches one
buys in the East have been faked.'

'That is clear,' replied Marillier. 'No, I have often wished that I
could have seen one gathered.'

'And heard it shriek,' said the Pacha in a peculiar tone. 'I have done
so, and I can show you one that I plucked from the earth with my own

'And did not die after it?' said Marillier, smiling. 'That's the
superstition, isn't it, in the Lebanon?'

'No, I did not die,' answered the Pacha. He was silent, and Marillier
seemed to see in the old man's face an almost diabolic suggestiveness.
'I lived and flourished,' he added with a queer little laugh. 'The
mandrake, you know, is said to bring love and health and fortune to
its possessor. My mandrake is my fetish. I confess to the idolatry.
Some day I'll tell you my story. Now, as the thing interests you, I'll
show you my little oracle. That is perhaps the most uncanny of the
possessions which will be yours when I die. May it serve you as
faithfully as it has served me.'

While he spoke, the Pacha unlocked a cabinet near, but seemed to
hesitate in his intention, and finally pulling out a tray of
curiously-shaped stones, began show them one by one to Marillier, and
to utter fascinating discourse on the virtues of the snake stone, of
the mysterious smalagrana which is perforated as though by invisible
worms and is said to possess the gift of prophecy, also the animated
ophite that the Greeks interrogated, and a miraculous stone found in
the Lebanon, whose voice in answer to a seer's invocations resembles
that of a new-born babe.

All these things and others which Isdas exhibited were remarkable and
most rare, but Marillier's fancy was set upon the mandrake, and he
again begged the Pacha to let him see it.

The old man seemed still to half repent his promise. It was perfectly
evident that he regarded his fetich as something sacred; and Marillier
began to speculate fantastically on other legends he had read
concerning the power of the mandrake to induce insanity.

Presently, with a solemnity which contrasted with the wildness of his
eyes and the fearsome trembling of his claw-like fingers as they
fumbled in a dark recess at the back of the cabinet, the Ambassador
drew out a box which appeared to be of gold, of Eastern workmanship,
and to be inscribed with Arabic characters. He touched a secret spring
cunningly concealed beneath an uncut topaz, which formed part of a
design in cabalistic figures ornamenting the four corners of the box,
carefully calling Marillier's attention as he did so to the special
stone covering the spring, and bidding him impress its position upon
his memory. The lid flew open, revealing a piece of fine silken tissue
laid over the vaguely-defined outline of what seemed to be a doll
within. Isdas's fingers trembled even more as he touched the fabric,
and the pallor of his face increased. He looked almost afraid to lift
the coverlet. When he did so, there lay exposed a strange little brown
image, a root of the potato species distorted into human shape, with
grotesquely human features, nose, lips, the indication of eyes, and
hairy filaments falling from the sides of the head and forming a kind
of beard upon the shrivelled jaw and chin. The creature appeared a
distinct miniature effigy of a man. The shape of the limbs was clearly
traceable, and two little brown tentacles of arms with rudimentary
hands lay, one by the side and the other half over the breast. Bits of
the earth from which it had been torn, still clung in the indentations
of the shape, and on the top of the head, mingling with the tufts of
hair, were the shrivelled remains of a stalk which had been removed or
had mouldered away.

Marillier examined the thing with intense curiosity, at the same time
revolted by its quasi--human appearance. He was startled by an
exclamation from the Pacha--a sound resembling a groan of despair. The
old man was bending close over the box, peering down into it with an
anxiety that had brought drops of sweat to his forehead beneath the
red fez he always wore.

'Do you see--' he gasped. 'Does anything strike you?'

'What?' asked Marillier. 'I see a vegetable monstrosity which is more
extraordinarily human than I could have imagined possible in a root
plucked straight out of the ground. Why should it cause you any
disquietude, Excellency?'

'Why!' repeated Isdas, 'why! Because--can you not see? It is alive!'
And in truth, as Marillier looked at it, one of the little tentacles
seemed to move, and the mummy-like breast to flutter slightly.

'I have not dared to open this box since I was taken ill,' the
Ambassador went on in the same horror-stricken accents. 'I knew that
as the root gave me its life, so, when my life dwindled, its own would
return to it again. See! See! The skin has filled out! It seems
fleshy, soft, pulsating as when I gathered it, not the shrivelled
inanimate thing it was three months ago. Marillier, my doom is fixed.
Death's fiat has gone forth. You have deceived yourself and not all
your science can save me. It fails, and that of the Medicine Moor
himself, if he were alive now, would fail, even as it did before in
the hour of my greater desolation. Life! life!' the old man cried,
stretching out his arms as though beseeching an inexorable deity. 'Is
all to end--to vanish like the morning glory, to rot away like dead
autumn leaves? Must the soulless shell of me join the Wandering Ones,
hungering in vain for the mortal joys they have lost?'

The Pacha staggered and sank into a chair, his eyes closed, his frame
shaking. Suddenly, in deep sepulchral tones, which seemed those of
some strange spirit in possession of his feeble frame, he gave forth
the Biblical utterance, 'What shall it profit a man if he gain the
whole world and lose his own soul?'

His breathing grew laboured, and Marillier, fearing failure of the
heart's action, administered a reviving draught, and supporting him to
his couch, laid him upon the cushions.

After a few minutes the old man recovered his ordinary speech and
consciousness. His eyes turned upon Marillier with their usual alert
gleam, and in obedience to his injunction the doctor rose, and sharply
closing the lid of the jewelled box, put it back into the cabinet.

'Excellency, we must have no more of this,' he said. 'Your nerves are
shaken; you have imagined what is not. Put the mandrake out of your
thoughts. Forget your superstitious fancies, for they will retard your
recovery. The root has no more life in it than a potato would have
which had been gathered--how many years?'

'Twenty-five years, all but two weeks,' replied the Pacha. 'You
forget, my friend, that the germ of life is in the potato as it is in
the grain of corn which for six thousand years may have been enclosed
in a mummy case. Life is everywhere--in everything save in the
putrefying body of man, and out of that, arises new life in lower
form. Life is the one all-pervading essence, and the aim of all magic
has been to master the secret by which it can be concentrated, re-
created and renewed--the secret that has ever eluded my efforts, and
that for me must now remain unsolved. Marillier,' he went on, with
fatalistic conviction, 'mark my words. I shall die on the anniversary
of the day on which I plucked that mandrake root in the hills behind

'Excellency,' said Marillier, 'you have talked to me of the power of
will to accomplish what it pleases. Exercise your own will, and
dismiss that phantom fancy. Otherwise, it will take hold of you, and
possibly fulfil itself. Remember what you said to me not long ago of
the capacity inherent in man, by which he may ally himself with subtle
forces of the universe.'

'I spoke of two Forces,' replied the Ambassador. 'One is omnipotent,
the other subservient to it, and yet its master. Have you forgotten?
They were Love and Will. Love is of two kinds, Marillier, the lower
and the higher. It has two forms, the spiritual and the material. For
me, twenty-five years ago, the spiritual part of love ceased to
exist--nay, I never gained it. It vanished in the hour when I might
have made it mine. What was left to me? The pride of life, the lust of
the flesh, of which that root--my fetich, my familiar, is a sort of
degraded personation. The lust of the flesh dies--it may be to live
again in subtler form a Tantalus existence, I know not--I scarcely
care; and the pride of life is extinguished. There is no use in
telling me to dismiss my phantom fancy, for it is no fancy, but a
reality that has made me its slave. I am better now, and let me talk;
it clears my brain. Listen, and I will tell you the story of how I
plucked that mandrake root.'


Marillier had seated himself by the couch. He felt the old man's
pulse, which was beating more steadily, and seeing that it was wisest
to humour him, moved himself also by extreme curiosity, he asked the
Ambassador to proceed.

Isdas Pacha put his hands over his eyes for a minute or two, and his
mouth quivered, as with past anguish re-born in his memory. When he
dropped his hands again, they fidgeted and picked at the embroidered
rug which Marillier had laid over his knees, while he spoke in a tone
at first low and monotonous, but which gradually deepened, filling his
listener with a sense of tragedy.

'Twenty-five years ago, come two weeks from now,' began Isdas, I was
wandering in the Kabyle country among the hills behind Milianah. You
know that district and the wildness of it?'

Marillier nodded.

'I don't suppose, however, that you have been to an old Moorish
fortress perched on the edge of a precipice called Bab-el-Khyalt,
otherwise the Gate of Ghosts? No, it is not likely. That place was my
headquarters during some weeks of delirious seeking--I can think of no
better phrase to describe my mood. I was seeking from man, nature, or
the devil, after a clue which should guide me in my own flesh, or
through the Gate of Ghosts, to the kingdom of the dead, and so satisfy
me that there was some existence beyond the material. It was to one of
those days and nights of frenzied search that the experience of which
I once told you--the photograph of that wraith-dancer--belongs. What
did I find? Matter, always matter--in subtler form, capable of
revivification, of assuming some former shape for a greater or lesser
space of time, and of being resolved again into its primal elements--
but still matter, always matter. Beyond it, only the secret of
recreation, revivification, which is outside the ken of ordinary
humanity, and which, all my life, has baffled me. Don't ask me to
dwell in detail upon that time of crisis. A crushing sorrow had
befallen me. You have heard me allude to it, and perhaps before I die
I may tell you what that sorrow was. Yes,' the Ambassador added, as
though a new thought had struck him, 'it will be necessary that I
should do so before the end comes. At this moment I need only speak of
its effects. For some nights following the blow, I lay in a merciful
stupor; then came the maddening restlessness, during which for nights
and nights I never closed my eyes, but laid down my wearied body
drugged with some narcotic, only to find my brain more and more
active, and my limbs twitching with the craving for movement. And then
I used to get up and stride along the ramparts of the castle
overhanging a deep gorge, scarcely able to restrain my longing to
throw myself down and end my torments. Nothing except the dread that
they would not cease, and that I should be condemning myself to a
fiercer hell, kept me back. So I watched for dawn in order that I
might again tramp the mountains and forests in the vain hope of
lulling mental pain.

'I was mad in those days, Marillier; at least, a continuance of them
would have driven me quite out of my senses, or I should have died
from sheer bodily exhaustion.

'One late afternoon I came upon country unlike any that I knew in
those parts. It was on one of the almost inaccessible spurs of
Khyal--you know the mountain of course?'

Marillier nodded again. 'I have seen it from a distance.'

'Bab-el-Khyalt faces it on a jutting promontory, immensely high,
which commands all the plain of the Bahira; it must have been an
impregnable position in old days. There's a wild ravine between. One
early dawn I started from the ramparts and climbed down the ravine up
the opposite precipice--a feat for an antelope, but I was a good
mountaineer in those days. I lost myself on Khyal--wandered for hours
in the forest that goes round her middle, then was stopped by another
deep gorge, which I was obliged to head in order to carry out my idea
of making the half circuit of the mountain and coming down into a
village that I knew. There was a stiff piece of Climbing, then I
rounded a volcanic sort of knoll and found myself with my back to
Khyal's hump, on a gently sloping hill, which bordered desert land
and faced westward, where the sun lay like a red ball on a bank of
angry clouds. I can see the place now as though the whole scene had
been photographed on my memory. The country had an appearance of
peculiar desolation. The hillside undulated so that it seemed ploughed
into irregular furrows, and the ground was grassless and of a greyish
colour. It looked in the distance as though ashes had been vomited
upon it, and rose here and there in small Protuberances, which, when
you trod upon them, crumbled beneath your feet.

'There was no grass, I said, but spread sparsely along the sides of
the furrows were strange plants--low tufts of big fleshy leaves, green
enough to make the soil almost white in contrast. A thin forest of
trees grew upon the hill, spreading down a great way and slanting to
the sun. They were queer trees, Which cast weird shadows, a sort of
pine, but quite unlike the straight pyramidal pines you know on Zakkar
and the mountains in that district. These trees were gnarled and
twisted, looking hundreds of years old; a kind of distorted umbrella
pine with no foliage except a crest at the top, and with great naked
boughs beneath--misshapen, witch-like limbs of a livid grey, for the
bark had peeled off from age. These stretched out, as though they were
the arms of a host of monstrosities, forking at the ends into huge
fingers that I fancied were pointed at me in derision.

'I flung myself beneath one of these trees--almost a skeleton, with
only a half-withered bunch of foliage on the top, and white twisted
branches, quite bare. It was on the edge of a bank of the grey,
crumbly earth, and half way down the bank grew two or three clumps of
those odd-looking plants I have described. My legs tottered so that I
could walk no further; my whole body was utterly weary, my brain
dazed, and yet the anguish of my grief was keener at that moment than
it had been since the hour of my first desolation. A new and even more
horrible despair seized me now. Marillier, do you know what it is to
yearn for physical pain, so that you could gash yourself, bruise
yourself, if only you might thus still for a moment the inward
torture? That was how I felt then. I remember that I dug my nails into
the palms of my hands till the blood spurted. I beat my limbs against
the ground which offered them no resistance, and dashed my head
against the skeleton trunk of a tree behind me. There was something in
the atmosphere of the place which drove me to frenzy--the black
shadows of the trees, the eldritch shapes of them gibbering at me, the
clouds every now and then coming over the face of the sun and making
an eerie darkness, the feeling of electricity in the air, and the low
rumble of thunder. A wind got up and came in gusts, making a rattling
in the dead branches that reminded me of chains and gibbets, gusts
that moaned and wailed in the pine crests overhead. The trees tossed
and bent beneath each heavier blast, and their crackling and shrieking
sounded to my tortured imagination like fiends shouting in derisive

'A blasphemous wrath overcame me. In my rage I upbraided God for
having deserted me, and I called upon Satan to give me, out of the
treasures of his kingdom, at least forgetfulness--since Heaven denied
me that boon. Out upon that desolate expanse of hill and forest and
desert plain beyond, I hurled unholy imprecations. And the low growls
of thunder rebuked me, and the devils' chorus which the wind made,
answered me with what I fancied promises of sacrilegious gifts...'

Isdas stopped. His eyes were fixed and glaring, and he seemed quite
unconscious of Marillier's presence. He was talking to himself, and
all the time his hand plucked uneasily at the coverlet, as is the way
with a man in a fever. Suddenly he threw out his arms again in a
paroxysm of blind anger, and brought them sharply back, the clenched
hands striking the couch upon which he reclined. An oath burst from
his pallid lips. The agony of remembrance seemed more than he could

Marillier waited, spellbound, not daring to check by a word this
extraordinary ebullition of pent-up feeling. Presently the old man's
face ceased working, his voice calmed and sank, it had an awed accent,
and was hardly more than a whisper.

'The wind dropped. There came a stillness--the stillness you must have
felt before a storm bursts. You know how strangely distant thunder
sounds in that brooding quiet--how it rumbles and reverberates at
intervals. How terrible it is! How supernatural! You've seen the livid
glare of forked lightning when it darts out of the blackness, cleaving
the clouds, and piercing down into the forest. I thought then--I

Isdas's eyes softened as he seemed to gaze beyond the walls of the
room out through the mists of the past. Presently he recited in
rhythmic tones,---

'"And ever and anon some bright white shaft Burned through the pine-
tree roof, here burned and there, As if God's messenger through the
close wood screen Plunged and replunged his weapon at a venture..."

'Bah! I never could recollect English poetry. That bit has stuck,
because there was a woman---I once knew a woman who used to read
Browning. She read me those lines...It was the last time. We were
sitting in the open court of an old Moorish palace--our summer
parlour. It was roofed with roses and bougainvillea. I remember she
had some of the flowers in her left hand; she held the book with her
right. There was a fountain splashing--I used to think her laugh was
like the trickling of the water. The scent of the orange blossoms came
from the old harem garden; she would never go into that harem

The Pacha stopped; he had been talking as though he were in a trance,
his eyes fixed on vacancy. Marillier recalled him.

'Was the palace in Algeria?' he asked.

Isdas started. 'Eh? The palace! It was not a palace altogether. It
had been a fortress--the place I told you of--Bab-el-Khyalt the Gate
of Ghosts--the Gate of Ghosts...There was a tower, a very old tower--
it went back to the Romans. A tower of memories. The place is shut up
now---all the part of it that she lived in. I suppose the terraces are
in ruins and the garden a wilderness. But the tower was of solid
masonry, and will defy centuries yet.'

Marillier asked no question. Presently the Pacha went on--still
brokenly. 'I bought the place, but I've never gone there since, for
it's a tomb, Marillier. It's the tomb of my soul.'

Again there was a pause.

'I remembered those lines when the lightning pierced down into the
forest. I wished at that moment that it had found me and struck me
dead, but God's javelin aimed wide of the mark. And I could hear
myself laughing! As I cursed Heaven in my impotent fury, I struck my
foot against the crumbling bank on which I lay. Then a fear came on
me--I held my breath, for in the stillness I heard a most curious
sound; it was like the feeble wail of an infant. It reminded me...I
seemed to hear again the cry of a child whom I...the cry of a new-born
baby whom I hated---a cry that had knelled my own doom! I kicked the
ground again...and again...and once more...and each time there was the
same cry, only louder and louder, till it became a shrill shriek of

'I looked down--it had come from the earth beneath me--and I saw that
I had kicked at a clump of those queer, fleshy-leaved plants I told
you of, and that the root of one of them lay exposed. I stooped down
and examined it. There was something very strange about the root. A
little brown, human face seemed to peer at me, the features writhing--
I swear to you, Marillier, that they writhed--and the lips moving. I
scraped away more earth till the lower part of the root was revealed,
and I saw that it was half human too. Then I remembered stories of
mandrakes which I had heard in Abaria, and the legend that if a man
plucks a mandrake he calls down a curse upon himself and invokes the
devil. I had heard how peasants, wishing to possess or to sell the
roots, chain dogs to the stalk, and stand away, whipping on the beasts
with a long whip, but keeping their ears stopped that they may not
hear the screams the plant gives as it is torn from the ground. So
this, I knew, must be a mandrake.

'At any other time I might have hesitated, but now all human and
religious feeling seemed to have left me. I had only an intense
curiosity, an over-mastering impulse to defy all powers of good and
evil. Let them do their worst. What did it matter to me? I felt an
outcast from humanity, deserted by God and man, and ready, if I could
be sure there were a devil, to swear him allegiance. Even the star of
the empire, the emblem of my adopted country, which has always been to
me the emblem of honour and loyal servitude--yes, has been and still
is so, in spite of disillusion,' Isdas repeated solemnly; 'even that
star, that ideal was fading in my breast. I had a wild thought that by
destroying the mandrake I might somehow wreak vengeance upon the
infant whose life had been fatal to me. I put out my hand and grasped
the tuft of leaves...The thing shrieked again . . it wailed clung to the earth...with difficulty I tore it forth
and held it in my hand...the root shaped as a man which you saw a
little while ago. .

'It was soft and warm, succulent, well nourished. I fancied that its
breast palpitated, that its little arms moved, and that its legs
quivered as if it still suffered from the violence of the wrench.
Close beside it, where the soil was misplaced, I saw part of another
root, and this seemed to have the shape of a woman, and each of her
little brown arms clasped what looked like the tiny forms of babes.
You must have seen mandrake roots which roughly represent a mother
with one or two children--that is, if you have ever examined the
specimens one is shown at the stalls of curiosity dealers in the East.
I, at least, can vouch for their not being altogether spurious. I
would not pluck the mate of my mandrake root. I needed for myself all
the vitality that he could give me. Let her and her offspring die, or
let her grow on widowed--it was nothing to me. I shovelled the earth
back on her with my fingers, and got up from the bank, holding within
my arm the root I had gathered.

'Already I felt less wearied, and, what was more strange, the awful
horror of desolation which had weighed me down seemed lighter, and my
brain less dazed. I became alive to the danger of being caught in a
storm and obliged to spend the night among those wild hills, in which,
as you know, panthers and even lions are hunted. The storm, however,
was passing, and the sun shone out redly from amidst the now broken
bank of dusky cloud. Overhead the sky was clear, though there was
still a distant rumble of thunder. The wind had risen once more, and
moaned again in the crests of the pines, while the trees bent and
swayed beneath the gusts and rattled their dead limbs afresh. As I
walked away, they stretched out their grey monstrous arms, seeming to
be calling after me in fiendish exultation over what they thought my
triumph or my subjugation---which, I could not tell.

'I left the ghostly hillside behind me and went on round the mountain,
striking into more open country, and better able, as the moon rose, to
guide myself by the landmarks around. I walked quickly, with no
overwhelming sense of fatigue, at which I wondered, considering my
wakeful nights, the scanty food I had taken, and the long days of
aimless wandering. In order that my arms might be freer, I thrust the
mandrake root inside my coat; it felt as though something living were
clinging to my breast, clutching at me with sensitive hands; and the
tremulous beat of a small heart fluttered against my own. It was very
late when I reached the village, and put up at an Arab rest-house. I
took the mandrake root straight to my room, and, as well as I could,
cleansed it of the soil which still hung round its limbs. As I did so,
the thing again seemed to me alive, and I could have believed that, as
I touched it, its features were drawn up in a most woful and gruesome
expression. I laid it in an empty tin box in which I had carried food;
it just fitted into it. I closed the lid, and then, after eating a
more hearty meal than I had managed to do for many days, went to bed,
and slept for the first time soundly since the stupor into which I had
been plunged when the crashing blow fell upon me. I awoke in the
morning refreshed, and more like my old self. Again I ate heartily. I
felt less restless, and had no longer any craving to tramp the hills.
I could not understand this change, but supposed that Nature was
asserting her need, and that when I had taken in new strength, the
former condition of things would return. I took off the lid of thebox
which contained my mandrake, and was startled at the alteration I
observed. Its skin appeared to have shrivelled in the night, and all
suggestion of life to have departed from it. I saw only a dry brown
root--a vegetable monstrosity, as you said, in human likeness.

'And I was sorry! It troubled me that the thing which I had felt
living against my breast, as I had carried it from the forest, should
now be dead. A vague remorse stirred me, and I remember my own
surprise at finding myself moved by pity for the suffering I had
caused and regret for the life I had taken--I, who only yesterday
would almost have delighted in the infliction of pain, for the sight
of it would have acted as an anodyne to my own agony. Now I was
mourning over the premature cutting off of a mere vegetable growth.
Yet it is true that from the time the mandrake died my own personal
grief lessened, and I began to take a keener pleasure in animal
existence. It was as though the mandrake had given me its vitality,
and not its vitality alone, but the luck which, according to both
Eastern and Western superstition, attends anybody who possesses one of
these homunculi Certainly it is a fact that, from the date of my
discovery of the mandrake, riches and honours poured upon me, and
also, in a remarkable degree, the favour of women. Love, in its
spiritual essence, could never more be mine, but love, with all its
lower satisfactions, was heaped upon me. I became a cynic and a
sensualist, and any vestiges that remained in me of the soul of love I
deliberately killed. In these twenty-five years, during which that
root has gone with me wherever I have journeyed, and has dwelt with me
in all the houses I have inhabited, the power of attracting women has
been mine in an extraordinary degree. I may say this without vanity,
for, understand, that I attribute it to no merit of fascination of my
own. I may also say that I have not made untrue professions, and that
if any woman has suffered through me, it has been her own fault, not
mine. I have never agreed to pay for favours I received, in coin not
of the currency, or jewels of unmarketable value. I have never
pretended to feelings and sentiments that I knew were dead in me. And
so, for twenty-five years my career has been one of uninterrupted
success and pleasure.

'Call it superstition; call it insanity; call it what you will, but
the conviction remains, and coincidence--if you admit nothing else--
supports it, that all this I owe to the mandrake! I can only repeat,
may my familiar serve you as faithfully as it has served the master
who wrenched it from the earth and from its earth-love, and absorbed
its life into his own being. That's true, doctor, though you and many
others might say it is a mad fancy. "The insane root," you know, they
called mandragora. But hasn't the practice of your profession shown
you that the world's insanities approach often the eternal verities?
My idea grew in me to be an established truth, a fixed faith, and, in
proportion, so also grew my knowledge and the will-power to literally
fulfil my belief Ah! if I had known a few years sooner all that I now
know of the forces in man and in nature, I would have concentrated my
own vital energies, not upon my desire, but upon the cultivation of
will-strength, by which I might have secured it.

'Mark that, Marillier! Man is a demi-god, but only a demi-god. His
powers and opportunities are great--greater than he can dream of, but
they are limited by time, bounded by death. There is finality in
everything that manifests itself here below. If man does not seize the
opportunity when it is offered him, the opportunity will not return.
The chance to gain is always offered those on the verge of knowledge--
that is one of nature's laws. Had I not been blinded, engrossed, by
the desire which held me captive, I might have learnt how to impart
vitality to one I loved, and so for a time have held death at bay.
Thus, in subordinating desire to will, I should have gained both. The
Gate of Ghosts would have been opened to me for ever, and the fleshly
union have become the everlasting blending of spirit.

'Too late! Too late, Marillier! Death has been my triumphant rival,
and is now my executioner. Death is lord of all things in the material
universe, and I have long realised that a day must come when that
life-giving force in my mandrake root will return to its original
source. When that day comes, I--Isdas, whom you have known--shall
cease to exist.'


The fateful fortnight was nearly over. Manlier, knowing well the
influence of imagination upon bodily conditions, took Mademoiselle
Isdas into his confidence, suppressing the story of the mandrake, but
telling her of the Pacha's superstitious idea that his days were
numbered. He begged her to encourage every form of small dissipation
practicable in the sick chamber, and to do her utmost to divert the
old man's thoughts from what he believed his impending doom. Acting
upon his suggestion, the girl often made transparent pretexts for
coming into the Ambassador's presence, for devising some little
amusement, and for asking his opinion and advice upon various matters
about which she would never formerly have dreamed of consulting him.
She was frequently rebuffed by his hard indifference, or by the cold-
blooded insight into her motives, which he allowed to be apparent.
Then she would shrink into herself and leave him, tears of
disappointment and pity in her eyes; for she most sincerely
compassionated this strange old man, who seemed so shut off from the
ordinary human affections. At these moments, she felt the hopelessness
of her efforts, and remained patiently in the furthest drawing-room
waiting a summons, but not daring to intrude uncalled for. To her
surprise Isdas sometimes sent her a message in which she saw signs of
relenting. Often he would ask her to sing to him the Ayes and the
Glorias, and other parts of the masses in which, oddly enough, the
godless old sinner seemed to find some satisfaction.

It happened that during this especial fortnight the little knot of
European diplomacy tightened and Eastern complications involved a
certain tension at the Abarian Embassy. Of this Marillier was glad,
for Ruel Bey was too well occupied with business to spend much time in
the society of Mademoiselle Isdas, and the doctor's vague feeling of
distrust in regard to his cousin's wooing of this unprotected girl,
had deepened into a repulsion which he could barely control. He knew
that no formal proposal of marriage had been made, and sometimes he
fancied that the Pacha, like an ancient spider watching from its web,
noticed this hesitancy on the part of his first secretary with a
somewhat malign interest, drawing his conclusions therefrom, and
enriching with them his evil knowledge of the game of life.

It maddened Marillier to think that neither of the men took into
consideration Rachel's lonely position at the Embassy. This jarred
against his own conventional ideas. He hated the Eastern attitude, as
he conceived it, towards women, and it made him angry and sad to think
of the girl alone among a set of dissolute attachs, as he, perhaps
unjustly, put it to himself, and with no guardian but that callous old
man to whom her happiness appeared to be a matter of complete
indifference. Once he ventured to hint to the Pacha that, in the
circumstances, a chaperone might be desirable for Mademoiselle Isdas,
but his suggestion was received with a cold smile and the assurance
that Mademoiselle Isdas had her own maid, a superior girl whom she
had brought with her from France, and that she saw nothing of the
attachs and secretaries, except, of course, Ruel Bey.

'And to that exception,', added Isdas, with a keen to glance at
Marillier, 'I do not imagine that mademoiselle greatly objects.'

Marillier was obliged to remain silent. It was, however, the greatest
relief to him to usually find Rachel alone at her outpost when he made
his afternoon call. Sometimes she was embroidering or dressing dolls
for the convent fte, sometimes at the piano singing softly or aloud
as the Ambassador's mood dictated.

Another reason why Marillier rejoiced at the tangling of diplomatic
threads was, that apparently it roused the Pacha from his pessimistic
mood. The Ambassador stirred like a sick war horse at the trumpet
sound, his keen intellect at once on the alert, his long training in
various courts quickening his flair for political intrigue, and giving
him a grasp of the points at issue which astonished and inspired Ruel
Bey, now brought into frequent counsel with his chief. Isdas insisted
upon writing despatches with his own hand, held interviews from his
invalid couch with a high Foreign Office official, and had much
telegraphic correspondence with the Abarian Chancellor and even the
Emperor; while latterly, he seemed especially anxious for the arrival
of a messenger from the Abarian capital with documents of importance,
which, he informed Marillier, were for his own private perusal. This
was the only occasion during these twelve days of waiting when
Marillier heard him refer even distantly to the date upon which he
expected his death to take place. He then said that he sincerely
trusted the Abarian messenger, whom he called Akbar, would be in
London before he (Isdas) had gone to join the Immensities, repeating,
with a sardonic smile and careless shrug, his euphemistic phrase for
the end of all things.

It was the thirteenth day, and when he made his afternoon call
Manillier found the Ambassador restless and disturbed in mind.

'Akbar has not arrived,' he said, 'and the sand runs down in the hour-

Marillier expostulated. The old man shook his head.

'A conviction that it has taken twenty-five years to mature cannot be
disposed of in occasional feeble chatter. Perfunctory chatter,' he
added, 'like the molasses in which one's nurse used to try and
persuade one that there was no jalap at the bottom of the teaspoon. My
dear Marillier, it is very easy to see that you are watching for the
fall of the scythe, and that you know yourself powerless to stay it.
What is the time?'

Marillier glanced at the west window. It overlooked the formal garden
of the Embassy, beyond which across the roofs of the houses, the sun,
a ball of fire, glowed amidst a line of dusky clouds.

'Near sunset, as you may see, Excellency.'

'I said that I would give Akbar till sundown,' said the Ambassador,
petulantly. 'Very well, we will wait till the sun drops. In the
meantime do me the favour, doctor, of telling Mademoiselle Isdas that
I desire her presence, and also that of Ruel Bey.'

Marillier moved to the curtained doorway, but the Pacha recalled him.

'A moment! There is something I must ask you to do first. Will you
open the cabinet and take out the box which contains my familiar? Here
is the key.'

Marillier unlocked the cabinet and laid the golden box on a table
beside the Ambassador.

'Let me beg you, Excellency, not to give way to your superstition.
Don't ask me to open the box.'

'No, I will not do so just yet. You are sure that you know the stone
which hides the secret spring?'

Marillier touched the topaz with his forefinger.

'That is the one,' said the Pacha. 'You are right, Marillier. We won't
encourage superstition, and I do not ask you to open the box now.
Leave it there, close to me, and await results. I have not looked at
the mandrake since the day on which I showed it to you. When I am
dead--when the life of the mandrake has returned to its source--you
shall judge for yourself whether my superstition was justified. I have
left you that box in my will, as well as other properties, some of
which you know of I wish you to open it as soon as you conveniently
may after my body has been committed to theground. For that purpose I
desire that you shall take it into your possession when your medical
knowledge makes you certain that life in me is extinct. Now, will you
kindly ask Mademoiselle Isdas to come, and summon Ruel Bey.'

Marillier found Rachel in the outer drawing-room, and with her, Ruel
Bey. They were quite near each other, Rachel seated in her usual
place, a settee beneath the portrait of the Emperor, Ruel Bey half
standing, half leaning, one arm resting on the back of the couch. At
Marillier's entrance they both started, and the doctor guessed that
his cousin's arm had been suddenly withdrawn from the girl's waist.
Both looked agitated, Ruel Bey flushed and pleading, Mademoiselle
Isdas pathetically reproachful. What had Ruel Bey been saying to her?
In what manner had he been urging his suit? A spasm of rage contracted
the muscles of Marillier's chest. He gasped for breath, and Ruel Bey
noticed the livid look which came over his face.

'At your old game of overwork, Lucien,' he said lightly. 'You should
be more careful of that heart of yours. Mademoiselle Isdas, may I
offer the doctor some liqueur?' Ruel Bey poured out a little glass of
green liquid, which looked like an emerald dissolved, and handed it to
his cousin.

'Physician, heal thyself,' he said.

Marillier controlled himself, and accepted the cordial. It was true
that this was not the first time he had been seized in Ruel Bey's
company with an attack of this nature His voice was quite calm and his
face impassive as usual when he turned to Mademoiselle Isdas, and,
with apologies for his momentary weakness, delivered the Ambassador's

Rachel went at once to Isdas's room, the two men following her.

'I will not detain you many minutes,' said the Pacha, his eyes moving
rapidly from one to the other, and Marillier felt that he, too,
noticed the agitation in Rachel's face and the passion which spoke so
eloquently from the eyes of Ruel Bey.

'Mademoiselle, I ask you to witness, and you also, Ruel Bey, that I
give this box in your presence as a gift to Doctor Marillier--a small
testimony, among others, of my gratitude for the service he has
rendered me and of the friendship in which I hold him. I offer him
this tribute before my decease, firstly, because at my age life is
uncertain, and with all respect to Doctor Marillier's professional
acquirements, death might seize me unawares; and secondly, because I
desire your witness also to my request that he carries away this box
from my side, or the receptacle he knows of, in which it may be placed
at the time of my death, on the earliest occasion after he has
convinced himself that the breath of life has gone from me. You, Ruel
Bey, especially, as one of the executors whom I have appointed in my
will; and you, Mademoiselle Isdas, will bear in mind this request of
mine, and will see that no obstacles are opposed to it.'

'Your Excellency honours me more than I deserve in having chosen me
for such a trust,' replied Ruel Bey at once, and the gleam of
gratification and of triumph in his eyes could not be suppressed. 'Be
assured that, whatever your commands may be, I will obey them to the
letter. Mademoiselle Isdas also--'

Ruel Bey stopped confusedly, checked by a satirical smile which he saw
upon the Ambassador's lips. He had for the moment forgotten himself in
the elation he felt at this coupling of his own name with that of
Mademoiselle Isdas in such a connection. For sometime past he had
been trying in various ways to ascertain the Pacha's intentions
towards this girl who was known as his niece. Now he felt certain that
Isdas had made her his heiress. This new-born certainty caused him to
assume an air of proprietorship not warranted by his position. Ruel
Bey forced himself to remember that he was not yet an openly
acknowledged suitor.

'Mademoiselle Isdas will answer for herself,' said the Pacha, grimly.
'Though it is no great thing that I ask of her.'

Rachel kneeled down impulsively at the side of the couch, and kissed
the old man's hand.

'Oh! Excellence!' she cried piteously. 'Is there nothing--nothing more
than this that you will let me do to show you that I am not

The Ambassador's lips quivered; his smile vanished and his face
darkened suddenly.

'Go!' he said hoarsely. 'Don't look at me like that. You remind me--'
He snatched his hand away. The girl got up, white from nervous

'Pardon, Excellence. I did not mean to offend,' she said, and moved

Ruel Bey affected not to observe what passed, but Marillier, hot with
indignation, crossed the room to her side. The Pacha intercepted his
glance of pity and pain, and was recalled by it to a sense of the
situation. He gave a strange little laugh, and making an evident
effort, answered with formal courtesy, his face once more an
inscrutable mask, out of which his black eyes shone dully.

'It is I, Mademoiselle, who ask pardon. Your voice--something in your
look brought back to me an unpleasant episode in my life for which you
are not personally responsible. I crave your indulgence for a sick man
who does not often forget the respect due to a lady.'

He spoke in French, the language he ordinarily used when talking to
either Rachel or Ruel Bey. 'Do me the favour of returning a little
later when I shall send for you,' he went on. 'You will then receive
certain proof of the consideration you seem to desire, and which I am
happy to give you.'

The old man's frigid tone had no spark of warmth, and Rachel's wounded
heart leaped in revolt.

'I desire nothing, Excellence, but a little tenderness, and that is
the one gift you have withheld from me. Everything else you have
bestowed freely, but I would rather stand bereft of all that I possess
in the world, all of which I owe to you, than feel, as I do, that it
has been grudgingly given. Why have you been so kind--and yet so

Rachel stretched out her hands and let them drop to her sides in an
appeal full of pathos and dignity, which Marillier thought might have
melted a heart of stone. Even Isdas seemed touched, for he answered
more softly,---

'Be comforted, my child. A beautiful woman possesses charms which must
command tenderness from those who can bestow it to better purpose than
a worn-out old man. Nevertheless, I have told you that a little later
you will receive proof of my affection, and in the further future you
will find that I have not been unmindful of your welfare. Permit Ruel
Bey to reassure you. And now do you both leave me to Doctor
Marillier's ministrations. Caspar, reconduct Mademoiselle Isdas to
the salon. I have a message for below. Should Akbar arrive let him be
sent to me immediately.'

Ruel Bey bowed.

'At your command, Excellency.' And with elaborate deference, in which
pleasurable emotion and gallantry mingled, he offered his arm to
Mademoiselle Isdas, and they passed out through the velvet curtains.

'Close the doors,' said the Pacha, 'and then come here, Marillier. I
have something to say to you.'

Marillier obeyed. As he shut the double doors he fancied that from the
room beyond, he heard the sound of stifled sobbing and of Mademoiselle
Isdas' voice, protesting piteously, 'I cannot bear it, Caspar! I
cannot bear it!' and then the murmur of lover-like soothing in broken
words of endearment, which to Marillier, seemed more than he could

He came back abruptly to the Pacha's side.

'What is it, Excellency?' he asked roughly. 'Surely you have said

'Enough!' repeated Isdas, with his strange smile. 'You think so? In
what way?'

'Have you not given sufficient pain to that unfortunate girl who has
no protector but yourself?'

'You feel for the girl, Marillier?'

'I do,' answered the doctor, bluntly, 'with my whole heart.'

The Ambassador seemed to be pondering his words.

'She appeals to you,' he exclaimed. 'She is very beautiful, and though
you are not a young man, doctor, she has power to stir your heart.'

Marillier, self-convicted, was silent.

'You speak of me as her only protector,' the Pacha went on. 'You know
that I am dying; and you have come to the conclusion, as I have done,
that she is in love with Ruel Bey. Ah! doctor, when a woman loves a
soft sleek Oriental she is doomed, unless a strong hand be stretched
forth to guard her. You have a phrase in your English law--'the dead
hand.' I shall stretch forth the dead hand to protect Mademoiselle

Marillier nodded sympathetically. He thought that noiv he grasped the
Pacha's meaning.

'You are concerned,' continued Isdas, 'at the thought of that timid,
helpless bird delivered into the snare of the fowler--in other words,
thrown upon the honour of Ruel Bey. Is not that your feeling?'

Marillier hesitated.

'I have no right to make any imputation upon my cousin's honour.'

'A perfectly natural sentiment. The honour of one's relatives is
always taken for granted. Well, we'll take Ruel Bey's honour for
granted, and assume that Mademoiselle Isdas is safe in his keeping. I
ought to have some insight into human nature, Doctor Marillier, though
you never give me full credit for acumen in that respect, and, as I
told you once before, I know something of the nature of the modern
Greek. Ruel Bey, unlike yourself, who have harked back to the sturdy
Jersey stock, is Greek to the core. There is one thing in him far
stronger than honour, and that is self-interest. It is from this that
I wish to preserve Mademoiselle Isdas--cruel as my treatment of her
may seem to you. Ruel Bey, in common with the rest of the world,
believes Mademoiselle Isdas to be my illegitimate daughter.'

The Pacha waited as though desiring that Marillier should speak.

'It is certainly not my business, Isdas Pacha,' the doctor said at
last, 'to ask you whether that belief is founded upon fact.'

'No, it is certainly not your business to put such question,' replied
the old man. 'Nevertheless, I will answer it. Mademoiselle Isdas, as
she is called, is not my daughter.'


Stricken with astonishment, Marillier awaited further revelations.

'Are you prepared to have a secret with regard to the birth of
Mademoiselle Isdas confided to you?' asked the Pacha. 'It must, for
the present at any-rate, be kept from Ruel Bey.' As he spoke, the old
Ambassador did not attempt to hide his eagerness for an affirmative
reply. With piercing eyes fixed upon the doctor he paused
breathlessly. Marillier gave a rapid gesture of assent.

'This secret involves a trust,' continued the Pacha. 'You will
remember how, before the operation you performed, I asked you to take
charge of a packet in which I told you was enclosed a letter to the
Emperor of Abaria.'

'Yes, yes.'

'You felt yourself insured against any difficult consequences from the
acceptance of the trust, for you knew that the operation would be
successful. You did not calculate upon the after decay of vital

'Excuse me, Excellency. I do not yet admit that decay of vital power.'

'The admission will be forced from you before long,' replied the
Pacha. 'Never mind. It is of no consequence now except so far, that I
am again obliged to throw myself upon your kindness. Akbar has not
arrived. His train is overdue; I gave him till sundown.'

The Ambassador glanced at the western window, through which the
outline of trees in the garden and of the grey roofs and chimney tops
of the houses beyond, were now only softly visible in a descending
twilight. The red glow had departed, the sun had sunk, and the room
was in shadow except for a shaded electric light above the Pacha's

'Yes, it is too late for the early Continental express, but there is
still a later one.'

'I will not wait I am a fatalist, as you know, Marillier, and when I
throw my die against destiny I abide by its cast. It is best that I
should take you into my confidence. Had Akbar come sooner I might not
have done so.'

'Who is Akbar?' asked Marillier. 'Let me understand with what I have
to reckon in this matter.'

The Pacha shrugged his shoulders.

'Akbar is an automaton--a messenger of proved qualifications--that is
all. But I will explain. A fortnight ago--the evening of the day on
which I showed you the mandrake--I despatched Akbar with a letter to
the Emperor in which I told him of my approaching death and begged him
as a last favour to give me his promise that he would dispose of my
property according to private directions that he would receive after
my decease. I told him that there was concerned in this wish of mine a
dying request on the part of another which I could not reveal even yet
to him, but which I would stake my hopes upon his respecting. Akbar
was to have brought me the Emperor's answer at latest by to-day--he
should have been here two days ago.'

'But,' said Marillier, 'there appears the possibility that the Emperor
may decline to grant the favour you ask.'

'He will not do so. I have reminded him of claims he will not
disregard; of my long and honourable record of services to his throne,
of an occasion--a hunting expedition--when I saved his life at risk of
my own, of more private matters between him and me, of promises that
he has made me. No, he will not refuse. I am certain of this. And were
he to refuse, it is all the more important that you--who are not his
subject--should know the secret, and should have the power, if you
choose to exercise it, to protect Mademoiselle Isdas.'

Marillier's mind was already made up.

'I accept the trust,' he said. 'If it be necessary I will protect
Mademoiselle Isdas even against the Emperor himself.'

Again the Pacha gave him one of his long, keen looks. A shade of doubt
crossed the old man's face, and he did not at once reply. He seemed,
as was his way, to be rapidly weighing possibilities and arguments for
and against the course he contemplated taking. Evidently the scale
dropped in Marillier's favour.

'I thank you,' he answered simply. 'That matter is settled, and now I
may speak more plainly. But have no fear. You will not be called upon
to carry a crusade against infidel tyranny. I know that his Majesty
will never break his word, once given. My ideal has not been all
illusion, Marillier. I could not else have served faithfully, as I
have done, an autocratic sovereign who was once my noblest friend and
my greatest enemy.'

Marillier was startled by the exceeding bitterness of the old man's

'I have loved Abdullulah Zobeir,' continued the Pacha, 'and I have
hated him with the hatred of hell. I would have died for him as a
monarch, and yet I should have taken a savage joy in killing him as a
man, for he robbed me of the desire of my heart.'

Excellency!' exclaimed Marillier, 'I cannot pretend to misunderstand
you. I suppose that the Emperor has been your rival in the affections
of a woman you loved; but what has this to do with Mademoiselle

'Everything. Madamoiselle Isdas is the living proof of what I am
telling you. The girl whom you know as Rachel Isdas is the daughter
of the Emperor of Abaria, the only child of his favourite wife, born
after she had escaped from the imperial harem.'

'She escaped!' Marillier repeated in a bewildered manner.

'I helped her to escape,' said the Pacha. 'I took her to Algeria, and
there settled her in the Moorish palace I have described to you, where
her child was born.'

'You say that this woman was the Emperor's wife,' said Marillier,
thoughtfully. 'Her escape must have been difficult to accomplish.'

'It was difficult of accomplishment,' replied the Pacha. 'Only a man
who loved her and hoped to win her ultimately for his own, would have
dared such an undertaking. But Fate favoured me. I resigned my post--
or, rather, obtained unlimited leave of absence, in order that I
might, as I said, reclaim some ancestral property in Avaran. No one
ever knew that I had not been to Avaran. When I returned to Abaria,
the Emperor's well-known friendship for me and my position in the
court sheltered me from suspicion. The Emperor never dreamed that I
had been concerned in his wife's flight.'

'And the child?'

Marillier paused. His mind seemed dazed by the unexpected revelation.
And yet, had it been unexpected? He fancied now that he must always
have suspected the truth. How otherwise should he have been so
persistently struck by the vague likeness between Mademoiselle Isdas
and the portrait of the Emperor of Abaria--that suggestion of
Orientalism in her which haunted and puzzled him every time he had
looked at her?

'The child, as I have told you, is called Rachel Isdas. She is, in
reality, a princess of Abaria.'

'But if this woman were really, the Emperor's wife,' said Marillier,
'why should she have wished to escape from him? Surely she must have
counted the cost before she entered the Seraglio?'

The Pacha shrugged his shoulders.

'She may have tried to. It was not possible. Only experience could
teach her what life in the Seraglio meant. Rachel O'Hara was young,
ignorant and poor; she was absolutely friendless in a strange country;
she had suffered indignities, and was, for no fault of her own, turned
out of the house of a Russian diplomat, to whose children she had been
nursery governess. She was not a Russian subject; it was nobody's
business; she never thought of applying to her own ambassador. I was
not at hand, or I would have helped her. At that time, I had been
suddenly sent on a six months' mission to the Lebanon. There is no
need to tell you how she was brought before the Emperor's notice. He
was attracted by her beauty, and she, dazzled by his splendour,
fascinated by a magnificent personality, consented to enter his harem
as his most favoured wife.

'Well, can you not understand how such a fascination might grow almost
into loathing? Can you not imagine how a poetic, high-spirited and
pure-minded Irishwoman, brought up in all the traditions of liberty,
and having led from childhood a free, open-air existence, would revolt
against the Eastern system of which she had now become a part? Think
of the effect upon such a nature, of the harem life, with its avowed
sensualism, its debasing intrigues! Can you not conceive how the wild
Northern bird pined for freedom, and how she entreated it of her
Oriental despot, only to be met with gifts of diamonds, ropes of
pearls, vehement promises that every wish should be fulfilled, except
that one desire for liberty? Then think of the young Irish girl about
to become a mother, perhaps of a woman child, whom she knew must be
reared among these corrupting influences, to be immured like herself
within harem walls, and even at the best to become one of many wives,
a husband's plaything, if not his victim. Picture such a woman,
determining at all costs to set herself and her child free, and
appealing to a man who, though an Abarian subject, was a European, and
had then, at least, some sense of the sanctity of womanhood, to help
her in her desperate attempt I was that man, Marillier, and my own
wild words, as well as her woman's instinct, had told her that she
could make me her slave until death.

'Well, you know the rest. You know how soon death put an end to that
joyous servitude. You know how the cry of a puling infant sounded the
knell of my hopes.. Am I melodramatic? I am the last of my race, but I
come of an old stock which has bred tragedies, and I have in very
truth passed through mine. Rachel O'Hara lived only a few days after
her child's birth. Before she died I made her two promises. One was to
bring up the child as a Catholic according to Western ideas, and to
keep her existence a secret from her father till she was twenty-one.
The other, an injunction which I equally agreed to fulfil, was wrung
from her by some lingering sense of duty--perhaps of affection, who
knows--to the man she had once cared for. Had Rachel been a boy she
would have sent him back to Abaria, and would probably now be heir-
apparent to the throne. Happily, or unhappily, the child was a girl.
The injunction was that I should, after the girl had come of age, take
her to the Abarian Court. With her dying hand, the Emperor's wife
wrote a letter to her husband, which she bade me then deliver, and in
which she claimed a pledge he had once given her, sealing the pledge
by the gift of this ring which I wear on my little finger. You will
observe that it is an emerald, and that on it are some. Abarian words
which will remind the Emperor of his oath to grant any request, short
of parting with her, that she chose to make. Her request, I need
hardly tell you, is that her daughter, brought up a Christian and
according to Western ideas, should be freed from the restrictions
imposed upon Abarian women, free to follow her own religion, free to
marry subject to the Emperor's approval, according to Western laws, a
man of her own creed. Now, you can form an idea as to the contents of
the packet I am going to give into your charge.'

'You wish me to deliver it to the Emperor in person?' said Marillier.

'Yes. I have already explained that you need be at no professional
loss in rendering me this last service, and so enabling me to fulfil
my promise to the dead woman whom I loved. I always meant to do so
before I died, but you will readily comprehend why I preferred to wait
until I was dying. The Emperor's vengeance might have fallen heavily
upon my head.'

'What do you anticipate will be the Emperor's attitude?' asked

'He will be true to his oath. As for you, my friend, you are safe,
unless--Well! you are a British subject, and would put yourself in
jeopardy with your eyes open.

'I do not follow you.'

'No? Yet my meaning would be obvious enough if Ruel Bey were not in
love with the Emperor's daughter, and the Emperor's daughter in love
with him. You may have Greek blood in you, but you have not Greek
guile, and though you are the cousin of Ruel Bey, and though I feel
somewhat like the old serpent coquetting with Eve, in placing
temptation in your hand, I think that I may trust you to guard the
Emperor's daughter; even as you yourself put it, "if need be, against
the Emperor himself."'

'I have given you my word,' said Marillier, stiffly, and as he spoke
the blood rushed to his forehead, for he knew now to what temptation
the Ambassador alluded.

Isdas looked at him again in that questioning manner as if he were
asking himself, 'Can I trust this man who is but human?' but he
dropped the subject, saying only, 'I must give you the letter.'

Manlier would have postponed the moment.

'I shall be here later, Excellency. I must leave you now to attend to
some other patients, but before midnight I shall see you again.'

'Before midnight!' the Ambassador repeated. 'That may be too late. No,
time flies, and Akbar has not come. I will delay no longer. Let me
have your arm, doctor.'

Marillier assisted the old man to rise, and supported him as he walked
with a fairly firm step to a masked fireproof safe let into the wall.
Isdas opened the safe with a key attached to his watch--chain, and
took from it the same packet which he had previously given into
Marillier's keeping.

'You will take it at once to your house,' he said, 'and you will put
it into your own fireproof safe till the time comes for you to carry
it elsewhere.'

Marillier received the packet, and with some solemnity promised to
guard it as the Pacha desired. The old man gave him his hand, which
Marillier gripped silently. Some impulse, of which he was glad later,
made him raise it to his lips. As he did so his eye fell upon the
emerald ring.

'And this, Excellency?' he said.

'That,' replied the Pacha, 'will be my last gift to Rachel O'Hara's

Marillier left, waiting only to give some directions to Nurse Dalison,
who, according to the Pacha's wish, he had bidden disturb the old man
as little as possible by her ministrations. Isdas had lately come to
dislike the grey-robed, white-capped figure hovering about him, and
preferred the attentions of his own body-servant. Thus the nurse
remained in the background, in a little set of rooms connecting the
Ambassador's apartments with the great empty ballroom, ready if the
call were made, but not otherwise obtruding herself. She was not
sorry, and she now saw more of Rachel, who interested her greatly.

The Ambassador's servant came in after the doctor had gone, drew the
curtains, arranged the lights, and settled his master in an armchair
by the table, where presently, dinner was served. Contrary to custom,
of late, the Ambassador had appeared to take some interest in the
details of his dainty repast. He ate with gusto, and sent down a
complimentary message to the chef. Then he ordered some wine of choice
quality only drunk at the Embassy on State occasions.

'A bottle of the imperial vintage, Soranzo,' he said, 'and the
Emperor's cup. This is a fte day. I will drink the health of his most
sacred Majesty in the company of the official household. Tell
Mademoiselle Isdas also that I request she will do me the honour of

Rachel came in quick obedience to the Ambassador's summons, from her
solitary little dinner which, during the old man's illness, was served
her in the outer salon. She wore a pale yellow gown, leaving part of
her arms and neck uncovered, and there was a bunch of violets nestling
in her bodice, their pure woodland scent contrasting with the heavy
Oriental perfume that always hung round the Pacha's apartments. She
was very pale; her eyes gazed mournfully out of dark circles and were
red-rimmed, for she had been weeping.

The Ambassador, on Soranzo's arm, rose at her coming as if she were an
honoured guest, and putting out his hand he drew her to a seat by his
side. At that moment Ruel Bey and the rest of the official staff
entered; the old man greeted them all with impressive courtesy.

'Gentlemen,' he said, 'I have sent for you that on this important
occasion you may drink with Mademoiselle Isdas and myself to the
health of his Majesty the Emperor, in whose service my life has been

Some of the secretaries would have liked to ask what was this
important occasion, of which till now they had had no intimation, but
the Pacha's manner kept them silent. Soranzo poured out the sparkling
amber liquid, filling first the glass of Mademoiselle Isdas and then
that of the Ambassador, which was a Venetian goblet of great value,
one that he always used at State dinners, but even then only for the
toast of his sovereign. It had been a present to him from the Emperor.
The goblet trembled now in the old man's bony fingers, but his look
was full of dignity. Turning to Rachel, he bowed and touched her glass
with his own, a ceremony at which the attachs wondered, but which
confirmed Ruel Bey's belief that in his will, the Ambassador had
recognised Rachel as his daughter and heiress. Ruel Bey bowed low too,
looking towards the girl as though pledging her. The Ambassador raised
his glass again, and his voice rang deep and clear.

'Mademoiselle! Gentlemen! To the health of our beloved sovereign, his
Majesty the Emperor.' The toast was drunk standing, each one
repeating, his Majesty the Emperor!'

Then a thing happened which astonished all present. The Ambassador
turned and deliberately flung the goblet he had drained, down upon the
marble pavement of the fireplace behind him, where it crashed into a
hundred splinters. But again there was that in his face which forbade
all questioning.

'I bid you good-night, gentlemen,' he said. Each man then approached,
and, moved by the same instinct which had impelled Marillier a little
while before, kissed his chief's hand, and saying, 'Good--night,
Excellence,' left the room.


'Mademoiselle will remain,' said the Pacha. 'Remove these things,
Soranza, lower the lights, and leave us undisturbed.'

Soon the two were alone--the old man and the girl. Isdas did not go
back to his couch, but sat in the armchair between the table and the
fire, the flames of which leapt and shone upon the broken splinters of
glass. The girl took a low stool at his feet. Her breast was heaving.
As he looked down at her, she was emboldened to place her hands upon
the arm of his chair and to lift her face nearer his. Then, as the
softer expression in his eyes deepened, she put one timid hand upon
his knee, and pleaded gently,--'Excellence, I know you believe that
you are going to die--Doctor Marillier has told me--and that is why
you broke the glass when you called us up here to drink the Emperor's
health with you for the last time, as you fancy. But oh! Excellence,
life and death are in God's hands, and none may tell the day on which
his Maker will call him. Let me stay with you to-night, Excellence,
and help you to fight this fear which has seized you; then the morning
will come and find you living still under the protection of Our Lady
and the blessed saints. For has not God said by His Psalmist to those
who put their trust in Him, "He shall give His angels charge over
thee...there shall no evil befall thee, nor any plague come nigh thy

Tears were on the girl's lashes; her face was full of hope and
tenderness, for she fancied that the Pacha's heart was at last melting
towards her, but his first words dispelled the hope.

So Marillier has left you to guard the door against death!' he said
harshly. 'How else has he betrayed me?'

'Betrayed you! I don't know what you mean. He has told me nothing,
except that this superstitious dread might have a bad effect upon you.
Let me help you, Excellence. I am strong in spirit though I am only a
weak girl. A woman's love may prevail even against death.'

'A woman's love!' the old man repeated. 'It is not possible that you
can love me.'

'I have told myself, too, Excellence, that it is not possible, for you
have never spoken to me one word of affection. And yet I would be to
you as a devoted daughter if you would allow me.' The old man seemed
touched by her simple words.

Then he uttered a fierce imprecation, and flung her hand away from
contact with his own. She was frightened, and now the tears flowed,
and her breast heaved with sobbing.

'There, don't cry,' said Isdas, roughly. 'I hate to hear a woman cry.
Women are meant to be men's playthings, not their persecutors.'

The girl wept on.

'I told you I had something to give you,' exclaimed Isdas. 'Stop
crying, and let me make you my last present. They have not been so
many after all, and this is rightfully yours.'

He drew the emerald ring from his finger and held it towards her, but
Rachel waved it passionately away.

'I don't want your gifts. I have told you so already. I want nothing
from you but this; tell me--I demand it--and surely I have a right, to
know, why am I here since I am so distasteful to you? I would rather
have worked or starved than have taken benefits from you, if I had
known the truth sooner; but it is only since I have been in your house
that I have realised how you felt towards me. What is the cause of
your dislike? I have seen you kind and caressing to women who were
only acquaintances, and whom I know that in your soul you despised.
Why should not I have received some crumbs of tenderness? You do not
even call me by my Christian name. It is always mademoiselle--
mademoiselle! Oh! the mockery of it! The loneliness of my position! Do
you think I haven't suffered? Many, many times I have come to you
intending to beg that you would send me back again to the convent, and
then I have not dared to speak. Something has whispered to me that you
were not all iron, that you had a heart, that it is not in your true
nature to be cruel to a helpless girl. Besides, strange as it may seem
to you--and I have said it seemed strange to myself--I have cared for
you. I have longed that you would let me love you. Excellence, I am of
your blood--at least, I have always been told so; I have been told
that you are my guardian, my nearest of kin: why then do you hate me?
It is not natural. It is not just For how can I have done you wrong?
If there is in you--as I sometimes feel--bitterness, and the desire
for vengeance, whose sin would you avenge? Was it my father who worked
evil against you, or was it my mother?'

The Pacha's eyes never left the girl's face as she poured forth her
plaint. He gazed at her as one fascinated, bound by some spell of the

'In my mother's name I appeal to you,' Rachel cried. 'It cannot be
that you nurse revenge against a dead woman--a poor girl like myself.
How young she must have been when she died! Am I like her, Excellence?
Is it her eyes which look out of my face and which angered you so
tonight that you could not bear me to touch you?'

The Pacha made an impulsive movement with his hand, beating the palm
of it upon the arm of his chair, as his way was when he lost self-

'Have done! Have done!' he cried.

'Not till you have told me the truth. In my mother's name I ask it.
Did you hate my mother, Excellence?'

The old man's head sank forward.

'Your eyes are your father's eyes,' he said, 'but your voice is the
voice of your mother, and it stirs old memories within me.'

'Excellence, you did not hate my mother. You loved her; and if I had
been more like her, you would perhaps have loved me too.'

The old man made no answer; his breath came quickly.

'Excellence,' the girl went on, 'see! I hide my face. I will not look
at you since it makes you angry.' She laid her forehead against the
chair, her head bent so that only the dark coils of her hair were
visible to him. 'Think that it is my mother speaking to you, pleading
for her child, pleading too for the man who wronged you. Ah! I
understand now, and I am glad--I am glad. I knew that you were not
heartless; I knew that you could love deeply, truly. I am glad,
Excellence, that you loved my mother. I do not seem to care about my
father. He is nothing to me; and he has long been dead, they told me.
Death wipes out all injuries; forget those which he did you. Darkness
covers them now. The shadow hides them, the shadow that is falling---
falling--though it may not yet close round you; the darkness in which
there is forgiveness of sins, and peace.'

In the silence that followed, the Pacha's hand crept tremblingly from
the arm of his chair and rested on the girl's bowed head.

'You have not been told the truth,' he said presently. 'You father is
not dead.'

Rachel looked up, startled and wild-eyed. The Pacha's hand dropped and
went back to the arm of the chair, which it clutched feverishly.

'Not dead!' she repeated. 'Where is he? Who is he?'

'That I cannot tell you now, answered Isdas. 'He will know soon of
your existence, and you must await his pleasure.'

'He is powerful, then?'

'Yes,' replied the Pacha. 'He is very powerful.'

'Oh,' cried the poor girl, 'will he hate me too?'

'I cannot say,' answered Isdas. 'He loved your mother, after his own
fashion, and I do not think it likely that he will hate you. This ring
which I now give you, is your passport to his presence and to his
favour.' The old man took the emerald she had refused from the table
where he had laid it, and put it on Rachel's finger. The girl looked
at it with wonder.

'There is something written upon it,' she said.

'Your father, when you give the ring to him, will translate the
inscription. He will recognise it and will know its meaning. You need
not hesitate to take the ring. It was your mother's, given to her by
your father as a pledge that he would grant any request of hers which
did not involve the breaking of their union. She broke that union, but
I do not think he will disregard the oath which he then swore. Your
mother's dying request will reach him in due course. It concerns your
welfare. I believe that when you present this ring to your father you
will find that your happiness, in whatever form you desire it, is

'What you tell me sounds like a fairy tale,' said the girl.
'Excellence, will you not make it clearer?'

'No. Time will do that. I have already said more than I intended.
There is just one thing besides--another gift that I have to make you.
You need not scruple about accepting that either. Look upon it if you
will, as the only mark of affection I have ever shown you, for it is
in affection that I make this provision for your immediate needs.'

'Then I will accept it, Excellence, with a grateful heart.'

The Ambassador drew a pocket-book from his breast.

'You may find yourself in need of money--only for the moment. Remember
that your future is arranged for. Here are Bank of England notes to
the value of two thousand pounds, and also the title--deeds of an old.
Moorish palace near Milianah in Algiers--the house in which your
mother died. You may take possession of it when you please. Put the
pocketbook in a safe place. If you need advice, consult Doctor

Rachel took the book, and a look of pleasure brightened her sad face.

'Oh, Excellence, I thank you! Indeed, indeed, I thank you. In Algeria!
I remember Algiers well. I always loved it. And to have for my own the
house which belonged to my mother! It will be real happiness. I may
live there, may I not?'

'That will be as fate and your father decide. Now I have said all that
need be said between us. Sleep well, and take this comfort to your
white soul, if there should ever be any solace to you in the thought.
Your mother's smile on your lips has lightened the darkness, and the
echo of your mother's voice has sounded sweetly in my ears at the
last. No! No more crying! Come no closer. The dogs of hate are
leashed; do not unloose them.'

Silently Rachel obeyed. She did not dare even to touch his hand. The
Pacha closed his eyes. When he opened them again, be was alone, but
there came a sound of knocking at the door of the room. The Pacha
started, alert and wrathful.

'I said that I would not be disturbed until the doctor came.'

'Excellency,' said his servant, 'it is Akbar.'

A thin, dark man, wearing a caftan, rushed in and prostrated himself
in an Oriental obeisance, pouring forth in the Abarian language a tale
of delay, accident, humble entreaty that his late coming, which had
been by the will of Allah and no fault of his own, might be forgiven.
The Pacha peremptorily bade him cease talking and bring forth his

Akbar, having delivered himself, stood at arms, as it were, with a
certain martial dignity. In silence he produced a sealed document,
which the Ambassador opened and read eagerly, a sigh of satisfaction
escaping him. It was as Isdas had hoped. The Emperor promised his
loyal subject, whose faithful servitude had duly earned him so great a
grace, the dying favour which Isdas had asked of his Imperial master.

'It is well,' said the Pacha.

He sat for a minute or two lost in thought, unmindful of the
messenger's presence, and muttering to himself,---

'Can I trust Marillier to withstand the temptation?...If I am still a
slave to the echo of a dead woman's voice, to the ghost of a dead
woman's smile, how should he be proof against the living embodiment of
his desire?...What more easy than to suppress the secret of which he
alone has possession?...Better not burn the duplicate as I had
intended...Wiser to send it and make all secure.'

'It is well,' he repeated aloud. Then, giving the man some directions
in his own dialect, the Pacha got up with difficulty from his chair
and tottered to the masked safe which he had opened in Marillier's
presence. He felt extremely weak, and only by force of will was he
able to accomplish what he wished to do. Supporting himself by holding
on to a cabinet, near which was the shrine of his familiar, he gave
Akbar a packet that he took from the safe and which seemed precisely
similar to the one Marillier had carried away. It was in fact a
duplicate, containing attested copies of the documents in Marillier's

This the Pacha delivered into Akbar's hands, bidding him neither
change his garments, nor wash nor sleep, but to snatch a morsel of
food and set forth at once by the immediately outgoing night express
for the place whence he had come. The packet he was to present
himself, to the Emperor of Abaria.

Akbar made his obeisance. The curtains swung to behind him, and the
Pacha was again alone.

He did not at once go back to his chair, but fumbled anew at the keys
he carried, and with difficulty finding the right one, opened the
cabinet and drew forth the box containing the mandrake. Carrying it
with his nerveless fingers, he staggered the few steps which lay
between the cabinet and the table and sank heavily into the armchair,
still clutching the box, which now rested upon his knee. For some time
he remained motionless, exhausted with the effort. Then, his mind
working feebly, he struggled to rouse himself and stooped over the
box. He wanted to open it, but the old superstitious dread made him
hesitate. Moreover, his fingers had lost their cunning and wandered
aimlessly about the lid. He could not find the topaz which concealed
the spring. He fancied his sight was failing, and as he persevered,
half eager, half fearful, drowsiness stole over him, and he sank once
more against the broad cushions of the chair, his head thrown slightly
back, his gaze fixed dreamily upon the familiar objects that came
within his vision.

There was comfort in the things he knew, the accustomed air of the
room, its genial warmth and tone, its stability, the massiveness of
carved frieze and fretted ceiling, even the solid look of the
furniture, and the soft thickness of the carpet whereon he feebly
stirred his slippered feet to reassure himself that the ground was
still there. For a strange feeling of being drawn upward filled him.
His failing senses clung pathetically, desperately, to the
accompaniments of his former life; yet slowly, surely, they were
passing from him. Walls and ceiling were shrouded in dark shadows,
deepening, drawing nearer--a fathomless mist that closed around him
and bore him gently on its bosom upward, ever upward. In his ears,
still attuned to earthly sounds, rang the faint echo of Rachel's
voice--a parting benison that followed after him like sweetest music.

Then came a rush as of many wings, and a corresponding sobbing of
distress in his throat as he passed onward, upward, hemmed round, it
seemed, by dark shapes that would have stayed his progress. Wild,
rapacious birds he thought them, and remembered an eagle he had shot
once upon the Lebanon. Just so had its wings brushed his face as it
dropped at his feet, and these were dropping past him now. Many things
came back to his remembrance in that strange upward flight--doings of
youth and manhood, hitherto forgotten hours; visions of dead delights
flitting like ghosts across his path and stretching pale hands as
though still desirous to enslave him.

But he knew his goal. It was opening out before him as the mist melted
away, and a gleam of silver, the herald of the morning, shone far
beyond. The Immensities were unfolding. All space was before him, and
he himself one with the Universe, one with the Heart of Life. What
matter then if Death's hand had touched him, since it released him for
this? Why trouble over time while eternity was his? The thing he had
longed for was his--life, life immeasurable, eternal, rippling up--
up--within him and without. A great peace filled the passing spirit.
Gone were the rustling wings that had tormented him--gone the
encircling cloud. All boundaries, all limitations had disappeared, and
above him in the infinite blue, shone two stars. They were the eyes of
his love.

* * *

A little after midnight Marillier passed through the ante-room where
Mademoiselle Isdas sat over a dying fire keeping her lonely watch. In
the outer salon, the first secretary and some other members of the
household watched also, and in an adjacent room the nurse and the
Ambassador's body-servant conferred together. None had dared to
disobey the old man's order that he should be left undisturbed.

Marillier was the first to enter the chamber, and as he crossed its
threshold an indefinable sense of awe told him that Death already held
possession. The Ambassador sat almost upright in his carved chair; on
his knees was the golden box, from which one limp, waxen hand had
fallen; the other rested on the arm of the chair. A wonderful majesty
encompassed the throned figure. Upon the fine face, in which already
the ironic lines were smoothed and from which had departed all passion
and unrest, there had settled a new dignity, and in the wide-open eyes
there was an expression of deep satisfaction, as though they had seen
the fulfilment of a life's longing.


Isdas Pacha lay in state in the ballroom of the Embassy. They dressed
him in full uniform, and placed him on a scarlet bier. His orders
glittered in the light of the tall candles which shed their glow upon
his dead face, and all round the bier, flowers were heaped. At the
foot, was a great wreath in the Abarian colours, beside that one sent
by the Queen, and surrounded by tributes from other royalties. The
wreaths spread over the floor, and a narrow pathway was made among
them at the side of the bier for those who came close to take their
leave of the dead Ambassador. The heavy scent of the flowers pervaded
the house. Above, in the darkened reception-rooms and in the Pacha's
chamber, all was still. Below, in the Chancellery, there was much
business done; telegrams arriving every few minutes, despatches
written, messages sent--Ruel Bey superintending all the arrangements,
and taking entire command of the affairs of the Embassy.

He had not seen Mademoiselle Isdas, who remained in her own
apartments, but he wrote to her in lover-like terms frequent little
notes. It might have seemed that during this self-enforced separation
he was less fortunate than Marillier, who, in semi-professional
capacity, more than once had some conversation with her. Now the girl
appreciated Marillier's forethought, for it was by his suggestion that
Nurse Dalison was asked to remain at the Embassy as long as it
continued to be Mademoiselle Isdas's home. Rachel had grown to like
much this sympathetic woman, who never said or did the wrong thing,
and had the knack of adapting herself to tragic conditions with a
cheerfulness that made them cease to seem tragic. She took possession
of a room next to Rachel's sitting-room, and the two women, avoiding
for the time the great drawing-rooms, lived entirely in this more
retired part of the house, scarcely seeing anything of the life of the
Embassy which went on busily on the floor below.

Ruel Bey received a shock when he learned the contents of the late
Ambassador's will, which had been opened by the lawyer and executors
in view of funeral directions. The surprise accounted some what for
his attitude towards Mademoiselle Isdas, and he had not decided
within himself whether it was a relief or an irritating
responsibility. In any case the man's worldly wisdom and his ambitious
hopes of advancement kept him from committing himself to any premature

For Mademoiselle Isdas had not been acknowledged either as the
Pacha's niece or as his daughter. She was spoken of as 'the daughter
of Rachel O'Hara, deceased,' and styled 'Rachel, commonly called
Isdas.' No legacy was left her beyond some jewels of value, and the
Moorish palace near Milianah, in Algeria, the title-deeds of which had
been given to her. To Ruel Bey was left a small sum and a few personal
belongings of his chief; to Marillier the contents of various cabinets
and bookshelves, and also a ring set with a very fine diamond. All the
rest of his property, so the will set forth, Isdas Pacha bequeathed
to his beloved master the Emperor of Abaria, to be apportioned
according to the Emperor's will and discretion in the manner
concerning which he--Isdas--had already made a humble petition of his

Rachel felt no resentment, and wondered why Ruel Bey wrote indignantly
of the Ambassador's unjust neglect of her claims. What claims had she?
None, she assured him in her pitiful little reply. The Pacha, she
said, had dealt most generously by her. But she did not tell Ruel Bey
in her letter, of the last interview she had had with the old man, and
of his parting gift of money. She felt a little hurt that Ruel Bey had
not at once assumed the right of an accepted lover. She had fancied
that he would disregard etiquette, and insist upon seeing her, even in
these early days of mourning. Had he done so, she thought, she might
have explained to him something of her feeling for the Pacha, and her
apparently excessive grief for his loss. Then she blamed herself for
having expected so much of Ruel Bey. He was right, she said, to think
of conventions, all the more so because of her unprotected position.
And he was not acknowledged as her accepted husband, though he had
called himself her lover; there had been no word of their marriage; he
had never demanded her of the Pacha. Ah! why had he not done so?
Surely in those last weeks, when the operation was over, and there
could have been nothing unseemly in approaching her guardian on the
subject, he might, had he greatly cared, have asked the Pacha's
permission to woo her openly. And now, could it be that he wavered--
that he did not think her rich enough, grand enough to be his wife? If
he truly loved her, would he not break down mere worldly barriers--
would he not mount the stairs and ask for her, and press her to his

It was true, she knew, that he had much diplomatic business on hand.
But was that sufficient to engross his thoughts completely? And then
she asked herself what would become of her if he failed her now. How
could she bear it if he deserted her? For she loved him. Even when his
eager wooing alarmed her maiden reticence, and his kisses seemed
almost too bold in their fervour, the caresses were nevertheless
sweeter than she dared confess to her own soul. She felt it would kill
her if she discovered that Caspar did not really love her. All day, in
her quiet room, she thought of him, recalling his words, his looks,
his wonderful power of fascination. Did he fascinate other women as he
had fascinated her, and did he inspire other women with that nameless
fear which, argue against it as she might, seemed to chill her even at
moments of his most ardent protestation? She wished that he were more
her friend, perhaps, and less her lover. No, how could she wish that--
when, if not her lover, he could be nothing. If he were not her lover,
she would rather never see him more. That was the strange thing.

She thought of Marillier. How different were the cousins; how
different was her own attitude towards the two men. The one she loved,
the other she trusted. Yes, she trusted Marillier, and she leaned upon
him as she had never leaned upon anyone in her life. She felt that he
would always tell her what was true and right; she knew instinctively
that he would rather die than commit a dishonourable action; she knew
instinctively too, that if he loved, nothing else would count in the
scale with his love. This was a man on whose loyalty a woman might
stake her existence. No doubt of this man could ever enter her mind.
He was not one who would think of some petty convention, if he knew
that she was lonely and suffering, and that his presence would comfort
her. And Marillier's presence did comfort her in an abstract sort of
way. She seemed to be inwardly strengthened by his look, his touch;
she was always sorry when he left her, always glad when he came back.
Oh! why had she not that sense of security in her love for Caspar--a
love which she often fancied was more of a pain than a joy?

She did then consult Marillier as the Pacha had bidden her. She
described to him that last scene upon the night of the old man's
death, and in the pleasure his sympathy gave her she hardly noticed
how embarrassed were his replies to her questions and surmises as to
who her father could be--this potentate whose will concerning her must
be awaited with respectful patience. She asked him whether he thought
it would be well for her to go back to her convent in the South till
her future should be more decided. And then her own embarrassment came
in the way of counsel, for she knew that whatever Marillier's opinion
might be, she could not decide upon anything till she had some insight
into the mind of Ruel Bey. The thought struck her with a stab, that
perhaps she would be wiser not to attempt to see Ruel Bey, but to go
away and let him, if he chose, come and seek her. Marillier answered
evasively that nothing could be settled till after the funeral, and
that, in any case, there was no need for her to leave the Embassy
while Nurse Dalison kept her company.

He came by-and-by, to ask her if she would go into the ballroom and
bid farewell to the dead man lying there in state.

'I have been afraid to go,' she whispered. 'Oh! I cannot bear the
scent of the flowers. I think the scent of those flowers will always
be with me. And I have never seen anyone dead.'

'It is not terrible,' answered Marillier. 'He looks very calm and
stately. Gentler and nobler than he ever looked in life.'

'I will come,' she said; 'but I like best to think of him as he was
that last night, when he put his hand on my head and spoke to me as
though he cared for me a little.'

She followed him into the silent room with its bowed watchers, its
tall wax candles, its gloom and solemnity; the great crimson bier in
the centre half hidden by flowers, the still form in glittering
uniform, with the flag and the star of Abaria over his head,
surrounded by all the paraphernalia of rank and office, lying above
the massed blossoms. Rachel paused for a minute at the doorway, and
nervously clutched Marillier's arm.

'I have come here once or twice, but I could not go closer. That is
not Excellence. There is something . . something...I cannot
describe it...a sort of tourbillon...It seems to rise...the
flowers...everything...oh, I cannot bear it,' she said piteously, and
making a gesture with her hand that moved Marillier. And, in truth,
the odour of the flowers--gardenias, roses, lilies---deep-scented hot-
house blooms--made, as she described it, a kind of whirlwind of
perfume which might well turn a delicate girl giddy.

There were several persons in the death chamber, gliding one by one at
the side of the bier, and making a silent reverence as they passed and
departed. Ruel Bey was one of these. He and Rachel approached the bier
almost together. Marillier hung back when he saw his cousin, for
jealous pride made him shrink from obtruding himself upon the lovers
jealous resentment---indeed, a feeling akin to hatred of Caspar--made
him turn away and stand outside the death--room. He had seen the
glance interchanged between the two who had not met for several days.
Passion answered passion in the look. Rachel, he knew well, was blind
and deaf to everything except the joy of meeting the man she loved.
She did not notice that he, who was only her friend, had left her
side. Ruel Bey moved eagerly towards the girl, but not a word was
spoken. The two clasped hands, and stood together gazing upon the dead
man. Then Ruel Bey made his salute. 'Adieu, Excellence,' he said, not
without emotion.

Rachel, still clinging to Caspar's fingers, detached with her other
hand a bunch of violets from the bodice of her black gown. She kissed
the flowers, and, with a movement infinitely touching, bent over and
laid them between the folded palms upon the dead breast. Then she
stooped lower, and put her lips to the marble forehead. 'Adieu,
Excellence,' she murmured, and, shivering slightly at the cold contact
she sank against Ruel Bey's encircling arm.

Marillier could bear no more. He saw Caspar press the girl close to
his heart, and support her towards the door; then he hurried down the
corridor, and passing through the room which had been the Ambassador's
bedchamber, and which opened upon the landing, he entered the
sitting--room beyond. Here he flung himself into the armchair in which
the Pacha had died, and for the first time, realised to the full his
love for Rachel Isdas and his hatred and distrust of Ruel Bey. He
fought with his passion as though it had been an evil thing, trying to
convince himself at the same time of its futility.

'I am nothing to her--nothing--nothing. As soon as she saw him I was
blotted out of her existence. I am nothing, nothing,' he repeated,
'and Caspar is everything. She loves him, and only through him can I
help her.'

Presently the man straightened himself, and a steely look of fixed
resolve came into his eyes. His hands were clenched upon the arms of
the chair with a grip of iron.

'So be it,' he cried. 'If Caspar be worthy of her he shall make her
happiness. But if he be unworthy--by God, I will kill him before he
shall be able to do her a wrong.'

He got up from the chair and paced the room towards the folding doors,
over which the velvet curtains hung. Suddenly he paused, for his eye
had fallen upon the gold box containing the mandrake, which he had not
taken away in obedience to the Pacha's directions. He had forgotten it
in the confusion following the Ambassador's death, and this was the
first time he had entered the room in which it still lay upon the
table where he had himself placed it, when he had removed it from the
dead man's knee. He determined to take it away with him as enjoined,
and open it upon the morrow, after the remains of the Pacha had been
laid in the tomb. For tomorrow was the day of the funeral.

As he took up the box, and was about to pass with it through the
curtains, and along the suite of reception-rooms, he heard a voice in
the ante-chamber which immediately arrested him. It was the voice of
Ruel Bey.

'Dearest, you are alone. You are absolutely friendless, you are

'No, not penniless, Caspar. I have told you--Mademoiselle Isdas's
sweet tones were broken with sobs.

'Practically penniless! 'Ruel Bey repeated. 'What are a few jewels--
none of value--and a dilapidated Moorish palace in a place where it is
impossible for you to live? Are you going to bury your youth and your
beauty in an old tower in the Kabyle mountains? Beloved, it cannot be;
it shall not be while I am alive to protect and adore you.'

Marillier's impulse, when his cousin began to speak, had been to draw
aside the curtains and make his presence known to the pair. But
something in Ruel Bey's words--or was it the manner of their
utterance?--checked the impulse, and caused him to hesitate and stand
uncertain what to do. He had scarcely time to analyse his own motives
when Caspar continued, and the involuntary eavesdropper, his former
vague suspicions stirred into new activity, remained rooted to the
spot, no scruple of honour now deterring him from satisfying himself
as to their having foundation in fact.

'My lonely one,' the caressing voice went on, 'this is no place for
you, a young and beautiful girl, quite friendless and unchaperoned
among a set of secretaries and attachs--and you know what the Eastern
ideas of women are! As long as the Pacha was alive you were
comparatively safe, but now even I, your lover, could not be sure of
protecting you from insult. You must leave this house. You must trust
yourself to me, and let me find you another home.'

'But not now, Caspar,' the girl answered in glad but wondering
accents. 'It is so soon. There would be a great deal to arrange, and
Doctor Marillier said that as long as Nurse Dalison was with me, I
need not go away.'

Caspar uttered an impatient exclamation.

'Lucien is a fossil. What does such a man know of the ways of the
world and of what is fitting for a girl? He never goes out in London;
he has no notion of the gossip there is already about you and your
ambiguous position in the Embassy.

'My ambiguous position!' she repeated. 'I don't understand.'

'There is no need that you should. I was wrong to use the word. Forget
it. Yet even in the short time that you have been in London some
things must have struck you. You must have noticed how few women of
the Pacha's acquaintance have called on you or asked you to their

There was a short pause. Marillier's blood boiled. He wondered if the
dart had pierced Rachel's shield of innocence. It was in him to rush
forward and thrust the coward who had shot it for his own evil
purposes, out by the neck from the girl's presence. But he restrained
his wrath. He would make himself yet more sure of Ruel Bey's
intention; and so he waited in breathless anxiety for Rachel's reply.

It came in a low, hurt voice.

'You mean kindly,' she said. 'You want me to know the truth, and I
cannot blame you though the truth is painful. It is true that my
position has been ambiguous, but perhaps it will not be so for very

'What do you mean?' he asked eagerly.

'I cannot say any more now. I know nothing myself except this--the
Pacha himself told me on that last night, that my father was not dead
as I had been led to believe.'

Ruel Bey gave a low laugh. Marillier knew that the man fancied he
understood. The confession had trembled, perhaps, on the old man's
lips. Isdas's heart may have melted for a moment and been steeled
again before he gave it fuller utterance. That was what Caspar said to

'Yes, her father was alive then,' thought Caspar.

'Why do you laugh?' said the girl.

'Because it is of so little consequence to us whether your father is
alive or dead,' he answered readily. 'It makes no jot of difference in
my love for you.'

'You do love me, Caspar?' Her voice was plaintively glad.

'Have I not told you so a thousand times, oh! sceptical one? Do you
want a proof that I love you? Look--look at your own face in the glass
before you, and say if any man who had blood and not lymph in his
veins could resist it. Do I love you! Is not this an answer? So much,
and so much. Your lips, sweet! Why do you hide your head? Why should
you be shy with me now?'

'I will believe you, Caspar. I will never doubt you again. But I have
been so lonely. I wondered why you did not come. Only one little
flight of stairs that you used to mount many times a day when you
brought despatches for Excellence to sign! And then always a word, a
look, sometimes many words, for me. I lived on our meetings, Caspar,
in those dreary days. I did not know that they were food to my poor
starved heart till lately, when they ceased.'

'And do you not understand why they ceased?'

'I knew there was a great deal of business in the Chancellery. I could
hear the murmur of it even here. And I knew, too, that Excellence was
lying dead. Oh! Caspar, never let me see a dead face again. I cannot
bear it.'

'You shall never, if I can prevent it, look on a sight that distresses
you. It. was like cold--blooded Lucien to bring you there.'

'Oh, no, don't say that. I wanted to go. I was glad that I saw him
once more. And if I had not gone, oh! Caspar, when should I have seen

'In a few hours, when the funeral was over, and I could feel that I
was free to think of my own joy. But you understood my little notes?'

'They seemed cold.'

'My heart was burning. I dared not give vent to my longing. I should
have remembered, to my Own detriment and yours, that only a small
flight of steps, as you said, separated us. But surely You must have
known? How could I have had your name bandied about amongst the
secretaries, the messengers the crowd of newsmongers! You can't
conceive what it has been these last days. Official business,
instructions from Abaria, that Medianah affair again, and I alone
capable of dealing with it. So much the better, however, for my chance
of promotion. Then the journalistic ghouls! The mere thought of you in
such associations seemed desecration.'

'But you did think of me, Caspar?'

'Every hour; every minute. You are the background of my life. Through
all the worldly turmoil your love shines as a ray from heaven.'

To the woman, his words rang true, and were as balm to a heart which
had been wounded. To the man who was listening, they seemed false as
hell. There was a silence, eloquent of caresses.

'You are so good,' Rachel murmured. 'No, I know you never meant to
hurt me. I want to assure you of that, my Caspar. And besides, one
should never allow oneself to be hurt by the truth. Do you think I
cannot appreciate your wish to spare me, and yet to make me understand
what it is well I should know? And, as you said, what does anything
matter when you love me? Nothing can make any difference in our love.
I suppose it was that feeling which really upheld me during all these
dreadful months when my pride revolted terribly against my position
here and the manner of the people who came to the Embassy. For I did
realise it, Caspar, though I couldn't understand it at first. Then I
supposed it was because the Pacha, who seemed all powerful, showed so
plainly that I was only here on sufferance, and that he disliked the
sight of me.'

'May the old man suffer in Purgatory for his cruelty and injustice,'
cried Ruel Bey.

'No, no! You must not speak so; it is wicked. And I--oh! you may think
it strange, but I cared for the Pacha even then. I wanted to be a
daughter to him, and his cold looks were like knives in my heart. If
it had not been for you I could not have borne my life. But now that I
know more, I can understand the Pacha better. Think, dearest, and you
will sympathise, because you love; think that he loved my mother, and
she preferred another man to him--another man who may have wronged
him. I cannot tell; he was my father, and I ought not to speak ill of
him. But think, think, and then judge Excellence more gently. I am not
very like my mother; he told me that. I am more like my father, whom
he hated. But think, Caspar, how good his heart must have been to have
brought me up and educated me; then to have had me in his house when
he could not look at me without being reminded of the secret sorrow of
his life. Do you remember that night when he gave Doctor Marillier the
box and called us to witness the gift, and how he drove me from his

'Yes. By the way, I wonder what the box held. It's all a mystery to
me,' went on Caspar, vehemently. 'Why should the old man have taken
the trouble to tell you that story at the last? Why have brought you
here at all? He had the craft of the devil, Isdas. What if State
jealousy were at the bottom of his scheme, a scheme to entrap one whom
he knew was his rival in the Emperor's favour, and whom he feared
might be his successor.'

'Caspar, I cannot follow your thoughts,' the girl said in
bewilderment. 'I know that I am very stupid. Of whom are you speaking?
Can it be yourself? I'm quite ignorant of State intrigue.'

'Remain so, my pretty saint. Would I change one hair of your head?
Would I instil one drop of serpent's guile into your pure heart's
blood, the blood which flows quicker at my voice, which rises and
reddens your cheek at my wish? Why hide the blushes, dear? Do I not
know that your pulses beat only for me? They are so lovely, those
blushes, delight of my eyes. I am not sure how I like you best--pale
or rosy.'

Had Caspar's face been turned towards the door he might have seen the
curtains stir, might have discovered that a man stood there driven to
almost uncontrollable fury.

Marillier waited on. There was no treason in listening. On that point
he was certain; he had Rachel's honour to guard, and he held in mind
the oath he had taken. But it seemed to him that a moment more and he
must be maddened by the whispered cajoleries, the sound of
endearments, the specious arguments of which it was so clear to him
that Rachel did not understand the drift.

'You make me think of Eastern gardens,' continued Caspar, 'of
moonlight upon marble, of plashing fountains, and an orange-tree
canopy overhead. My citron flower! I love those creamy blossoms with
their petals like a woman's skin, and their luscious perfume. Do you
remember the first bouquet I gave you? I had sent south for it, and
chose it of citron flowers because you reminded me of them, and I
loved them best. Ah, my dearest! why stay in this cold country? Do you
not detest the damp, grey fog, and the grim houses with their
melancholy air of respectability? Are you not pining for sunshine, and
blue sea, and laughter; the song of birds, and all that makes life
worth living? Why remain in this dreary house so full of the savour of
death, where the old man's cruel presence must always haunt you? Let
me take you back to glad France?'

'I have thought of that, Caspar. I was only waiting. You, too, think
that would be best?'

'Best? Yes, certainly. Let me take you. I can manage it. We need not
delay very long.'

'Oh, yes, yes!' she cried. 'I do detest England. Who would live in
this cold gloom if they could fly to the South? Why should I not go to
Algeria, Caspar? Only, it would be a long way for you to come and see
me. Well, there is my convent--that is where I meant to go, and the
dear nuns would let you visit me, perhaps, or else--Ah, well! I don't
know. But it need not be for very long, my Caspar.'

'What? You are forced to admit that the dear nuns might be scandalised
if I presented myself and requested that I might spend a few hours
alone with my sweet saint! No. I have a better plan. That little
corner of France is very pretty and poetic, no doubt; but it is a long
way from my duties--a tiresome journey. And the nuns! I have already
told you that my tastes do not incline to a parade of sanctity. I'm
too human for that. What do you think, dearest, of a much shorter
pilgrimage and a more earthly shrine? I have a little entresol in
Paris--a box. I lived in it when I was in the Abarian Embassy there. I
have kept the place. I go over to it occasionally when I want a whiff
of free air to drive the fog out of my throat. It's pretty; you'd like
it--close to the Champs Elyses. There's a decent concierge; his wife
would take good care of you. I'd get you a maid, companion--whatever
you preferred. Better not take your own woman, she seems to smack
rather severely of the nunnery. I want you to see life--the life of
cities--the opera---theatre--society, if you wished; but I think you
would not wish for overmuch of that Listen! Don't say me nay till you
have heard all my plan. I would take you over and instal you. Then
when things were settled here--when the new Ambassador is appointed--
are you speculating, mademoiselle, as to whom that is likely to be? In
any case, when I am assured of promotion under whatever conditions--
well, then, I would join you, and then we might make definite plans.'

'Definite plans?' she repeated. 'You mean our marriage. But how could
I--Till we were married ought I to live in your house? And our
marriage, Caspar. I am not prepared; you are not prepared--'

'That is true, my wise saint. I am not prepared. Seriously, dearest, I
am glad you see it in this light. Seriously, it would be madness if I
were to marry you now--or, shall I say, announce our marriage--till
the new appointments are made. My prospects would be jeopardised--and
yours. But there need be no difficulty as long as you trust me--as
long as you believe in the sincerity of my devotion. Paris is not
London. And that is one advantage of your ambiguous position--pardon
me for the phrase, you yourself have used it--no one in this city is
likely to ask what has become of the "so-called" Mademoiselle Isdas.
As for the Parisian world, it has forgotten me; or if not, I can give
a new address to my friends in it. No one there, will know anything
but that a beautiful lady--if they observe her goings and comings--now
lives in an appartement which was once tenanted by a servant of the
Abarian Government, but which is, presumably, no longer his property;
and, in any case, who would care if he be seen entering and leaving?
Might it not be supposed that the business of his country prevents
that Abarian gentleman from enjoying more than stolen tastes of his
charming wife's society? Need one advertise one's marriage in the
newspapers? Matrimony is a mere legal formality, sweet nun, though I
know you consider it a sacrament. For me, love is the sacrament, and
marriage only the outward symbol. But the symbol shall be a sacrament
for me, too, if you please, and none the less so if our wedding take
place a little sooner or a little later. Sweet, the whole gist of the
matter is, do you love me?'

'You know that I love you, Caspar. How else could I promise to be your

'Then if you love me, you must also trust me; the one condition pre-
supposes the other. Allow me to play the knight-errant and rescue you
from this ogre's castle, and as soon as may be. Is there so much trust
required in the man you love, that you should hesitate to let him
arrange your journey and escort you to your destination? The only
thing is that we must keep our own counsel. Say nothing even to
Lucien. Sweet, I am jealous of Lucien. I have a shrewd suspicion that
you have captivated the grave doctor, and that he would oppose, as far
as lay in his power, our pleasant projects. Time enough to tell him
when the deed is done, and you are made mine irrevocably. Why should
we court gossip? We would travel by the night express. If you are wise
you will let it be assumed that you are returning to your convent, or
even going to take possession of your Moorish palace--some day we will
see it together. But for the present, dearest, we will go no further
than Paris. Speak! Give me your promise. No, I take it--thus.'

Marillier knew that she was in his arms. He could hear murmured words.
Then he seemed to know that she had released herself.

'Caspar, I love you, and you have said what is true--since I love you
I must trust you absolutely, entirely. It would be a sin against my
love if I could doubt yours for me. And I don't know why, or what, I
should doubt. As you say, it would only be delaying our marriage for a
little while. And you are right; the air of this house is full of
death and sorrow. England is all gloom and oppression, and I am an
alien in the land. You shall take me away if you will--you shall go
with me to Paris if you please; but for the rest--don't ask me to
decide now. I cannot. I can think of nothing but the joy of having you
back again, of knowing that you love me. It is all strange and
bewildering, this plan of yours; I don't quite like it. It is not that
I don't trust you. My heart, I love you, and I will do anything that
you ask, believing you would never ask me to do what was unwise or
wrong. But I am troubled, Caspar; I--I am afraid...'

The curtains parted. Marillier stood in the opening. He seemed to
bristle like a grim grey wolf whose young is threatened. His teeth
showed between his drawn lips, and his eyes gave a flash as of a sword
leaping from its scabbard. For ten seconds he looked at the pair
without speaking. Caspar had his back towards him; he was holding the
girl's hands, and she was gazing into his eyes, beseeching him with
hers to reassure her vague doubt, to still the conflict in her between
love and something which made her shrink from him, while yet he held
her fascinated. Marillier thought of a little bird before a serpent.
He made a movement forward, and Rachel started and looked at him,
uttering a cry of confusion as she dropped Caspar's hands.

Caspar was confused too, and his eye fell before the indignant gaze of
his cousin. But he recovered himself quickly, and laughed in his light

'Have pity on Mademoiselle Isdas's nerves, Lucien. They have had a
good many shocks lately. You seem to me a poor sort of doctor to take
her first into that horrible death-room, and now to burst in upon her
in this manner. What is the matter with you? You seem disturbed.'

Marillier pointedly ignored him.

'Mademoiselle Isdas, forgive me,' he said. 'I am sorry that I
startled you by my sudden appearance. I ought to have taken better
care of a nervous patient. You are my patient just now, remember, and
you will let me advise you to go to your own room and put yourself
into Nurse Dalison's care.'

Rachel made a meek little movement with her head, and without a word
left the room.

Caspar and Lucien faced each other. The former spoke.

'May I ask, my honourable cousin, how long you have been playing the
eavesdropper? I see,' he added brutally, with a glance at the box in
Marillier's hand, 'you have been carrying away your booty; but that is
hardly an excuse for listening behind the curtains.'

'I have listened to some purpose,' retorted Marillier. 'For the first
time I know you in your true colours. Caspar, you are the son of my
mother's sister, yet I tell you that you are a scoundrel.'

Ruel Bey flushed a brick red, and his arm went out as though he would
have struck the other man. But it dropped, and he turned off the
situation with another laugh.

'We are both inclined to be melodramatic, I see. Perhaps, however, it
is pardonable in the conditions, and I make some allowance for natural
jealousy. No doubt you heard Mademoiselle Isdas avow her preference,
and are annoyed at her choice of one so much less worthy, you would
say, than yourself. But there's no accounting for the tastes of women.
I trust that I may be permitted to justify that of her whom I adore.
As for your abominable insinuation--well, Doctor Lucien Marillier, if
I were not the son of your mother's sister, I should feel myself
compelled to send you my seconds this evening and to ask you to cross
the Channel and meet me on the Calais sands as soon as might be
convenient after the business of to-morrow. But I am the son of your
mother's sister--which seems to me a roundabout way of stating a plain
fact; moreover, you will admit that it is not exactly seemly to pick a
quarrel within a few paces of where the late Ambassador of his Majesty
of Abaria is lying in state. Moreover, for other reasons, I don't
intend that you shall fire a bullet into me; and so, cousin, I will
wish you good evening.'


The funeral was over, and the mortal remains of Isdas Pacha were laid
in the earth. He had desired to be buried in the place where he died,
not in Abaria or the island of his ancestors, so a grave was dug in
the Catholic cemetery at Kensal Green. It was a grand procession which
left the Embassy. The spirit of Isdas must have been glad, if it were
hovering near, to see the homage paid to its earthly casket. And
indeed to Marillier, who was in a strange mood that morning, haunted
by the old man's mystic utterances, and racked with the emotion he had
endured after overhearing the scene between Ruel Bey and Rachel, it
seemed that the Pacha's spirit might well be present at this imposing
ceremonial--that ironic spirit scoffing, amused, interested, yet all
the time, not unmindful of the daughter of his old love, and at the
last, stretching forth the dead hand he had spoken of to save her from

The day was gloomy beyond description, as November days are apt to be.
A grey fog enveloped that part of London--not a thick brown fog
closing one in like a wall, but a ghostly spreading mist, which made
the houses loom in gigantic proportions along the street, and the
people walking and the carriages and carts look as though great
shadows had descended and taken to themselves forms. The scarlet
tunics of a detachment of the Guards which the Queen had sent, made
the only definite block of colour in the leaden mist which filled the
square, until the coffin was borne down with its covering pall of
flowers, while the men in uniforms and decorations round it and the
crimson fezzes of the secretaries blended at in a variegated mass, and
then dispersed, as the mourners followed the dead chief in due order.

A flash of steel pierced the fog, as the Guards presented arms to him
who would never again, after this day, receive an earthly salute. The
band played the Dead March, and the procession passed through lined
streets. For it was a great sight, and the funeral of an ambassador
does not take place every day. The Queen was represented and all the
greater royalties, while several princes attended in person. There,
too, were the members of the various foreign Embassies, the Ministers
of the Crown, and, indeed, almost all the notable men in London.
Isdas Pacha had been a popular figure in society, as well as a clever

As the coffin was taken out of the hearse the mourners formed
themselves into line. No blood relation of the late Pacha being
present, Ruel Bey, in virtue of his official position, took the place
of chief mourner. The members of the Abarian household followed him
closely, and with them Marillier, as the physician in attendance upon
the late Ambassador, and the young medical man who had assisted him in
the critical operation of some weeks back, and who had shared with him
to the end the responsibility of the case.

Marillier's mind was a chaos of conflicting thoughts. Foremost among
these was the impression, of which he could not rid himself, that the
old man's spirit hovered above the cortge, controlling every incident
and whispering intimately into his own ear words of warning and
injunctions to hold himself in readiness for whatever might occur,
confirming him in the conviction which had leapt to him during his
night's agony, that he, and he alone, was left to fulfil the dead
man's will, and that upon him rested the responsibility of saving and
protecting Rachel O'Hara's helpless daughter. This feeling was so
strong upon him that it gave him a sense of illusion. Ruel Bey's
striking form in the rich Abarian uniform, walking ahead of him in the
procession, at once heightened the illusion and gave force to reality.
The first secretary won the approval and admiration of all who
witnessed his tactful and dignified performance of the duty that had
devolved upon him. More than one of those present, saw in him the
future ambassador, or at least a diplomatist whose career was assured.
The representatives of royalty, the English Ministers, the members of
the foreign Embassies, approached him with cordiality, even a certain
deference. His demeanour was perfect, yet to Marillier, all through,
it masked the designs of a fiend. Marillier's excited fancy saw in
Ruel Bey the enemy of Isdas, and of Rachel O'Hara's daughter. It was
true that Ruel Bey was the Ambassador's temporal representative, but
to Marillier, it seemed that he himself was, by the Pacha's own
choice, the true deputy of the old man who was gone, and that Isdas's
spirit was now urging him to realise his responsibility, and was
pointing out to him that, as he had been chosen as the sole repository
of the secret of Rachel's birth, through him alone, could the dead
hand smite for the girl's salvation. Rachel's hitherto sole protector
had gone for ever from mortal ken, but Marillier felt that the mantle
had fallen upon his own shoulders, and he stood ready to fulfil to the
uttermost this sacred trust As the line of mourners, leaving the
grave, reformed, a sudden darkness fell. The fog, which had been grey
before, was now black, and through it, glimmered linkmen's lanterns
and the hurriedly lighted lamps of waiting carriages.

The long rows of equipages drawn up in the open space by the gate
which was guarded by a cordon of policemen, began with difficulty to
take up their owners; and the space appeared one moving shadow in
which were monstrous shapes with small red eyes twinkling. Hoarse
cries resounded, and the names of great personages were bawled forth
as in the confusion of the departure from some fashionable gathering.
Just in front of the cemetery, and in the street opening upon it,
traffic had been stopped during the procession for certain fixed
hours, but there had been delay; the hour of closure was past, and
vans and cabs approaching the scene, were obliged to turn back,
finding progress stopped, so that a block happened, and in the
darkness the melee threatened to be serious. A road was being repaired
just beyond the police cordon, and now, a traction engine started
suddenly into work. Its roar and the puff of red smoke which
accompanied it, alarmed the horses in a waiting carriage at the end of
the middle row. They darted forward with the carriage swaying behind
them, breaking the line, and causing a horrible displacement. Panic
spread. Voices of coachmen were heard above the tumult calling to
their neighbours and trying to soothe the frightened animals in their

Marillier's brougham stood at the back, and he and the medical
assistant with him were with difficulty making their way towards it,
when the excitement began and prevented them from going further. Ruel
Bey called out peremptory commands as he accompanied a very great
personage to the door of his carriage, a personage whose word might
make or mar his own diplomatic destiny, and Ruel Bey in any
distracting circumstances, remained susceptible to such
considerations. Just as the great personage had stepped into his
carriage and the footman had taken his place on the box a pair of
maddened beasts dashed down the road. There sounded the crash of a
collision, and one of the horses belonging to the carriage beside
which Ruel Bey still stood, reared, kicked over the traces, and would
have bolted, causing greater damage besides endangering the life of a
power in European politics, had not Ruel Bey, alive to the situation,
sprang to the horse's head, seized the rein, and after consider able
effort, brought the beast to bay. But as he struggled in the uncertain
light, foam from the terrified horse's mouth spurting on to his face
and almost blinding him, he was caught by the pole of another carriage
turned crosswise, and obliged to loose his hold. The released animal
reared again, but the coachman had it now in grip. It kicked out
wildly, and Ruel Bey was struck to the ground and trampled under its
hoofs. There was a rush of roughs, and two policemen pulled Caspar,
bleeding and unconscious, on to the pavement, while several occupants
of carriages put out their heads and called, asking if there were a
doctor anywhere near.

By the light of a street lamp just above Marillier had seen every
detail of the occurrence. He knew that his cousin had been kicked on
the head and that the injury must be serious. Through his dreamy
realisation of what had happened, there flashed the fancy that to this
end his own steps had been barred by the throng. Had he found his
carriage sooner, he would not have known of the accident. Another wild
thought flashed. Did the Pacha's spirit dominate events still? Was
this the work of the dead hand?

He answered the call at once, however, in his clear, authoritative
manner, the trained habit of the doctor triumphing over the emotional
man, and all his professional instinct on the alert. He explained
quietly that he was the physician of the late Ambassador, that Ruel
Bey was his cousin. He, with his medical assistant, he said, would
take charge of the case and convey the injured man in his brougham at
once to his own house, which was on the way to the Embassy.

The great person, who was visibly concerned, professed himself
grateful and satisfied, and presently, extricated from the block,
drove off. Order was soon restored. Marillier and the young assistant,
who was a silent, fair man, absorbed in his work, shy of great people,
and devoted body and soul to Marillier, whom he considered the one and
only medical authority of the day, carried the unconscious first
secretary as best they could, with the help of policemen, to the
doctor's brougham now in readiness. Ruel Bey was placed on the front
seat, and the doctor and his assistant supported him as far as
possible in order to save him from being jolted. The coachman received
orders to go as quickly as was practicable by a quieter route to
Marillier's house in Harley Street, but the density of the fog made
movement necessarily slow at first. Every now and then from the lips
of Caspar a feeble groan escaped, like that of a wounded animal--a
mere sound of physical distress, with no consciousness in it. The
sound brought to Marillier a thrill of disagreeable association, for,
since the scene of the day before, he had sedulously avoided all
intercourse with his cousin. He endeavoured to turn his thoughts by
remarking to his companion upon some technical aspects of the case. In
such cursory inspection of the hurt as had been possible, it seemed
clear to both that an injury to the brain was to be apprehended, and
that probably an operation involving the lifting of a portion of the
skull would be necessary.

The hurried diagnosis was confirmed by a fuller examination in
Marillier's consulting-room. This was in a wing built out at the back
of the house, which contained besides, laboratories and a small
operating-room divided from the rest of the apartment by a movable
partition of ground glass. On the other side of the partition, was a
white-tiled space, the high operating-table, with its movable supports
for the limbs and head of the patient, and lighted from above with
electric globes and reflectors, standing in the centre.

Marillier turned on the lights and ran his eye over the array of
sponges, instruments, antiseptics, bandages, and different kinds of
surgical appliances kept always in readiness. There was, of course, a
supply of hot water, and the place was heated to a pleasant

In the larger room, which, now that the folding partition was drawn,
lay open to the operating chamber, a fire blazed, and here the
electric light, scattered and more closely shaded, made a lesser
illumination. Caspar lay stretched on the couch, to all appearance
lifeless, for the moaning had quite ceased. The consulting-room was
very quiet, shut off as it was from the rest of the house, and when
the door was closed, absolutely secure from intrusion. It was a
comfortable apartment, with some fine old cabinets of English make,
oak bookshelves filled with books, and a great writing-table with the
doctor's armchair behind it, opposite to the one in which patients
seated themselves when they came to face the penetrating eye of the

On an oak table, between the screened space of the operating-room and
the sofa on which Caspar lay, stood the gold box containing the
mandrake, which Marillier had placed there on his return from the
Embassy the previous day. It occurred to him that the Pacha had bidden
him open the box as soon as possible after the funeral, and he decided
to do so by-and-by. He had other, more imperative, things to think of
now, and he resolutely put aside every thought of Isdas, of Rachel,
and even of Ruel Bey, except as a patient who demanded immediate

Now the surgeon and doctor of medicine held paramount sway over
theman, and this in an almost sub-conscious manner, the result of long
control over nerves when the business of his profession was concerned.
For the moment, his rival was a case, one of unusual scientific
interest--no more.

He looked again at the wound, passing his deft fingers over it--a
touch here, a pressure there, his brows knit, his lips pressed so
closely that they made one thin line accentuating his strong jaw. He
went on with certain medical preparations in silence, except for a
brief direction delivered at intervals to his assistant. Then he stood
deep in thought. Presently he said abruptly to the younger man,---

'It must be done, Heathcote--the sooner the better.'

Heathcote nodded.

'You see--' there followed some technical explanations. 'It is a
question of preserving his sanity. That splintered bone must be raised
from pressing on the brain, and that without delay. I have often done
the operation of trephining, as you are aware. I have no hesitation in
saying that, in this case, it will be successful. I know.'

'That is enough,' replied Heathcote. 'For you to say "I know" means
certainty of success.'

'Let us waste no time,' Marillier went on. 'We can get through the
operation--you and I--at once, here. There's nothing else imperative
for this afternoon?'

Heathcote looked at a tablet of engagements, reading out names and

At one of the names Marillier stopped him.

'You can attend to him. By that time I shall not need you. Now we will

The two proceeded in a cool, business-like way with their
arrangements. The body of Caspar was laid upon the operating-table.
Presently the air was filled with the sickly fumes of chloroform.


Much of Marillier's success in the operation of trephining was due to
a dressing, at once antiseptic and healing, the secret of which he had
learned when practising in the East, and which, notwithstanding
experiment and discussion, was not favoured by English surgeons. It
had been duly applied, and the bandages arranged. There was every
ground for hope that life and reason were saved to Ruel Bey.

Marillier stood alone over the body of his cousin, which, still under
the influence of the chloroform, had been removed to a couch at the
foot of the operating-table. He had dismissed Heathcote, having
decided that it would be better to do himself all that was necessary
than to entrust the work to his subordinate.

For the first time since Caspar had been brought into the consulting-
room, Marillier remembered that the man whom he had saved was, in very
truth, his bitterest enemy, remembered that in restoring to Caspar his
intellect and powers of fascination, he was in reality sharpening a
weapon that should pierce the heart and destroy the honour of the
woman he loved.

He looked down at Caspar's handsome face and finely-moulded form.
Inwardly, he contrasted this perfection of physical beauty with the
mental picture of himself which he carried in recollection--the grey,
rough-hewn face, the thick-set figure with its ungainly gait. There
was nothing in such a personality to attract a young girl's fancy, to
turn the heart of a loving woman from the man she adored. It came upon
him with a shock, that this was the thought consuming him, burning
into his soul--the desire to take Rachel from Caspar in order to
possess her himself, and not for her well-being primarily, but for the
satisfaction of his own desire. He had partly realised the strength of
his passion on the previous day, but it had not then gripped and held
him in its naked might as it gripped and held him now.

Completely overcome by it for the moment, he felt, as he gazed upon
the motionless form of his rival, that he would willingly barter every
advantage, everything in the world that he held most dear--his
scientific reputation, his power of healing, his knowledge, all the
acquirements that he had struggled for and mastered during years of
self-denying application---everything would he give that he might win
the heart of this girl. He felt that he hated Caspar, and yet he
yearned madly to possess Caspar's charm and power of winning love; he
yearned to inform with his own will and his own spirit this fine
fleshly mould inhabited by Caspar's soul. He knew himself intuitively,
to be a truer man than Caspar. He felt that, given the opportunity, he
could make Rachel love him, and with a more abiding love than that
which she had given to Caspar. He longed to bring forth Rachel's
grander qualities, and to transform her from a half-developed girl
into a noble-hearted woman. As he dwelt on this thought, the less
worthy impulse subsided. No, it was not for mere selfish gratification
that he wished to win Rachel. He loved her with his higher, and not
with his lower, self. The longing to grasp and hold her at any cost
was an outside prompting, having no root in the real man. Rachel's
pure image expelled the baser instinct. Were Caspar dead, he told
himself, he would be content to wait, to worship, and to patiently
serve till, of her own free will, she gave herself to him.

If Caspar were dead! To all intents Caspar was dead. During the course
of his studies and experiments in the working of ansthetics,
Marillier had satisfied himself that in an ordinary operation under
chloroform, mental consciousness is not entirely separated from the
body, but remains in close connection with it, as in the less profound
dream condition; whereas, in the case of an operation touching the
brain, the seat of reason, when an ansthetic is administered, the
soul is, in very truth, driven forth for the time from its earthly
tenement, by the fact that a process of vital reconstruction is taking
place, so that the body during that period is performing automatically
its natural functions. Marillier remembered having discussed this
question with the Pacha, who had quoted some of the theories of the
Medicine Moor.

And now, a cold perspiration rose on Marillier's forehead, as he was
suddenly assailed by a temptation which seemed, indeed, the suggestion
of the old man's godless spirit to which evil and good had been--in
his own phraseology--merely opposite poles of a force unknowable as
its lower counterpart, electricity. Why should he recall the soul of
Caspar? Why not leave it to join the Wandering Ones? Then Rachel would
be saved, and he himself, with no obstacle between them, might gain
her for his own.

He battled with the temptation. He beat it down--throttling it before
the suggestion could put itself into definite shape. He walked away
from the couch, and returned again. Surging thoughts swept his being.
The murderous impulse conquered, making place for a thousand other
imaginings, utterly wild and fantastic, one thought dominant--that he
could change places with Caspar--that he might woo Rachel in Caspar's
body, animated by his own soul.

Certain words of the Pacha floated back to him--he scarcely knew by
what connection of ideas. The old man's voice echoed in his ear. He
seemed to hear it once more, as he had heard it during the interviews
when the Pacha had talked to him of the mandrake; at first, cold,
sarcastic, gibing, then vibrating with the intensity of conviction, of
supernatural dread. One by one, bits of sentences framed themselves in
his memory:--'There are two forces in Nature by which man may to an
almost incredible extent control his own destiny...By means of Love
and Will, the Vital Energy which creates and maintains life may be
drawn upon and used by those initiated into a certain form of
magic.'...And then the echoing voice quivering with that strange
emotion which had revealed itself to Marillier, and perhaps among all
men, to Marillier only, went on, 'It is the Mystery of mysteries,
doctor, that transfusion of life into death, by the magic of love...
Ponder it...Yearn for its key--the key that you hold almost within
your hand...There are men capable of concentrating in themselves and
employing the subtle forces of the Universe...By the strength of your
own will wrest this secret from God, or Nature, or the Devil...The
desire will be born in you; its germ already lies in your heart. The
hour of struggle will arrive, and the force shall rise within you--you
choose to put it forth---that shall give you the mastery.' The force?
What force? The might of will--the power of desire? Had not
Marillier's aim for years been to cultivate his will? But never yet
had the supreme opportunity for test presented itself. He had never
hitherto desired anything with sufficient intensity. But now! The
Pacha had bidden him remember his prophecy...Will!...Yes, the Pacha
had prophesied truly. He felt the power growing within him...It
uplifted him...It filled him...He had a sense of potency
indescribable...Now he understood the meaning of mystic utterances...
Man had in himself the germ of godhead...Man might create--man might
accomplish miracles--restore the dead to life--change the outward form
of the spirit--subdue all to himself---make himself verily a god...

His brain seemed to be bursting; it reeled under this new and
extraordinary consciousness. Was he going mad? Had the fumes of the
chloroform affected him in a manner of which he had no previous
experience? Marillier flung wide apart the glass folds of the
partition, and walking rapidly to the end of the consulting-room,
threw open the window, and drew in long breaths of fog-laden air. They
seemed to calm his excitement, but he still paced the room with quick,
eager steps. Again his eye was caught by the gold box on the table.
Involuntarily he went to it, and his fingers played about the lid.

As he touched it, words of the Pacha again recurred to him--their talk
about the mandrake, and of other Eastern superstitions He knew that
the Pacha had believed firmly in the magical properties of the root,
in its power to confer physical attraction upon its possessor and the
gift of women's love. Isdas had implied that from the date upon which
he had wrenched the mandrake from the ground, he had possessed the
faculty of inspiring love in the breast of any woman upon whom he
pleased to exercise it. He had died in the absolute conviction that he
owed his worldly renown and prosperity to the influence of the
mandrake; and not only this, but that the mandrake had actually
transferred to himself the vitality of which he had robbed it. He had
implied also that, when he died, the mandrake would take back its life
to itself and all its magical qualities, and that these might be made
to serve the will of its new possessor.

Mad superstition! Well had the mandrake been named 'the insane root.'
Thinking thus, Marillier, scarce consciously, pressed the topaz
beneath which lay the spring, and the lid of the box flew open. The
silken wrapper was slightly displaced; he could see a portion of the
mandrake's form--an arm laid bare, which to Marillier's fervid
imagination seemed to twitch and slightly move. He tore away the
coverlet...And then he staggered and shrank back, for here was
confirmation of all that he had deemed impossible and but the raving
of a disordered brain. Here was living proof--yes, living proof that
there was truth in the old superstitions, and that the Pacha had told
him no fairy tale. Or could it be, as Isdas had said, that he had in
himself the capability to absorb and concentrate those hidden energies
of Nature by which, if legend and history were not to be rejected, men
have in all time worked seeming miracles; and hence then this
sensation which he felt of wondrous capacity, of superhuman endowment.
Had he instilled life into the mandrake?

For the root was certainly alive. When he touched it the soft, fleshy
substance of its body stirred and pulsated; the grotesque features
were agitated by a sort of infantile and most gruesome spasm. He
lifted it from its box, and as he did so, the brown tentacle with its
rudimentary hand closed round his finger.

Marillier was seized with horror, and another wild fancy came into his
mind--the notion that in this creature he beheld his own guilty
thought which had thus personified itself. He stood for several
moments holding the mandrake away from him, cold with supernatural
awe. Presently the horror passed, and he said to himself that the
thing was a natural monstrosity, one of Nature's failures, or perhaps
another of the strange but authenticated links between the vegetable
and the animal orders of creation. He held it nearer till it rested on
his breast. Then, like the Pacha, he seemed to feel the thrill in it.
So holding it, he walked to the couch on which Ruel Bey was stretched.

Was the man dead? He appeared so, but Marillier knew that in a short
time, if nothing should prevent it, consciousness would return. Now
his former passionate hatred and revolt at the physical beauty of the
man, in comparison with his own ungainliness, burned anew, seeming to
derive fresh intensity from the life of the mandrake, while he fancied
that the mandrake's vitality waxed warmer and stronger from the raging
fire in his own breast. Jealous longing mastered him. Why should
Caspar return to work that evil which he, who loved Rachel with a love
that Caspar was incapable of, would sacrifice eternity to avert? And
how was he discharging the trust which Isdas had laid upon him? Were
he to restore Caspar, to what end would the dead hand have interposed?

No, he was prepared to risk all. Only let the mandrake's magic be
tested, and a miracle be wrought. Let him be Caspar--Caspar's spirit
remaining exiled, and he in possession of the body which had won
Rachel's love--that he might clasp Rachel in his arms and know the
full sweetness of her kiss upon Caspar's lips.

Simultaneously, other words of Isdas Pacha flashed back upon his
memory:--'Remember that to accomplish such a result you must project
your very soul, as it were, out of your own body upon the object of
your desire.'

He would do this. As he summoned all his strength, he became aware of
a stronger, more pulsating thrill in the thing which clung to his
breast. Then a strange giddiness overpowered him. He felt himself
falling, and for a time he knew no more.

* * *

He was conscious again, but at first, in an odd faint way, with a
stirring about his heart, and a queer pain in his head. He moved
feebly. There was the impression of something unexpected having
happened to him. He seemed to be coming back slowly and with
difficulty. A distant roaring sounded in his ears, like the dashing of
far-off breakers against a cliff. He tried to move his lips. His feet
pressed on something soft; he thought he must be in his bed, but
presently knew that he was partly dressed. He put out one hand; it
touched the wooden support of the operating--table. The electric lamps
above it, glared down upon him from their burnished shades. He saw the
tiled walls and the other small table with an array of his own
surgical instruments and appliances--the basin, the blood-stained
towels. Then he remembered that there had been an operation, and that
he had performed it upon his cousin. The incidents of the day crowded
back in a confused medley upon his over-wrought brain; the funeral,
the accident; the sense of Isdas's hovering spirit, and of the dead
hand beckoning him; his temptation; his mad desire to exchange places
with Caspar--to woo Rachel with Caspar's body, but with his own mind.

The mandrake! He remembered that too, remembered the last strange
thrill of it, which seemed to have blended with the life in himself
And then the dizziness and the darkness. He must have fainted. He put
his hand to his breast feeling for the horrible thing, but it was not

He raised his head. What was he doing here on the couch at the end of
the operating-table? It was Caspar's body which he and Heathcote had
placed there. He knew that the operation had been quite successful.
The Medicine Moor's famous antiseptic--a decoction from the stalk of
the banana, the secret of which that strange person had learned in his
travels from South-Sea Island natives--had been applied. Marillier was
satisfied; he had never known dangerous complications occur after its
application. He remembered everything distinctly. He lifted himself
into a sitting posture and stared around him, and now down on the
floor beside the table. What was that he saw huddled on the tiles? A
man's form--the body bent, the face lying sideways, one arm
outstretched, the hand spread. He recognised the hand. He recognised
the shape of the limbs---the short neck, the thick high shoulders, the
massive head, the rugged profile. It was his own face, his own form,
upon which he gazed!

And beside the man's form, as though it had fallen from his breast,
lay the little brown thing---the root in half-human likeness--the

A glimmering of the truth rushed upon Marillier, for if his body was
lying there why was he conscious of lying here? Why should he be on
the couch beside the operating-table. What was that? And if that were
his own body, who was this?

He looked along the space beyond the drawn, glass partitions and
straight into a mirror fixed between the windows at the further end of
the consulting-room. Reflected duskily, but with sufficient
distinctness, he saw himself--no, not himself, but Caspar.

That which had contained his soul lay lifeless on the ground, but the
body of Caspar lived, and he lived in it. He had longed to be Caspar,
and ho!--he was Caspar! The magical properties of the mandrake had
been proved; the Pacha's prophecy was verified; the hour and the
opportunity had come.

His desire had been granted. He had wrested from Nature the great
secret. By the force of Love and Will, he had made himself master of
his fate; and he might now control, not his own destiny alone, but
that of the woman he loved.


One thought rose uppermost in Marillier's mind when he realised the
extraordinary transformation which had taken place. It was that Rachel
must be spared if possible the shock of learning simultaneously the
accident to her lover and the death of her friend.

He had already taken some precautions, having at the cemetery gates
instructed the secretaries and some members of the Embassy household
to keep from Mademoiselle Isdas news of the mishap to Ruel Bey, and
of the injured man's conveyance to his own house until he should be
able to satisfy himself as to the extent of the mischief He told them
that, later on, he would personally report at the Embassy. Little did
he think at the moment what would be the nature of the report. Yet, on
the surface, the explanation would be comparatively easy. He would go
to the Embassy, not as Doctor Marillier, but as Ruel Bey, and there he
would tell Rachel and the members of the staff that an operation had
been performed--to this Heathcote, the assistant, would bear
testimony--and that when restoring the patient to consciousness after
the administration of the ansthetic, Doctor Marillier had been by
some unaccountable accident overcome by fumes of chloroform, and had
fallen in a syncope which proved fatal. The natural inference would be
that Marillier was a victim to half-suspected heart disease. He
himself remembered that incident at the Embassy a short time back,
when both Rachel and Ruel Bey showed alarm at his apparent
indisposition, and Caspar had taxed him with overworking a weak heart,
and had made him drink the liqueur as a restorative. Rachel would no
doubt recall that episode, and would accept the theory of heart
disease without a question.

But now he must act There was no time to be lost. Heathcote would be
returning presently, and on medical grounds, would oppose his purpose.
Weakened though his body was by the operation and consequent nervous
shock, the transferred vitality from a frame comparatively healthy
enabled Marillier to collect his energies and to rise from the couch.
He looked at the hunched-up form which had been himself, with a
mixture of emotions. But here his training in self-control stood him
in good stead; and among these familiar surroundings of his late
personality he was Lucien Marillier the physician, rather than Caspar
Ruel, of whose physique and temperament he was becoming vaguely

He knew that, later on, this consciousness might prove bewildering. At
present the grim necessity of the situation caused him to rise above
it. He at once felt the desirability of concealing the mandrake which
lay a few inches from the prostrate form. Taking it up reluctantly,
and with an involuntary shudder lest the little brown tentacle might
again close round his finger, he replaced it in its box. But the root
was once more flabby and pulseless. Seeing that it showed no sign of
movement, and remembering the Pacha's belief that only with the
extinction of his own life would that of the mandrake return to
itself, Marillier wondered if the mandrake's force had indeed been
again poured forth for the benefit of its new owner, or whether it had
been wholly expended upon the magical deed just accomplished. He gave
himself, however, no further time for speculation. An impulse of
loathing made him spread the coverlet hastily over the grotesquely-
human shape, and snap the lid of the box with a feeling that he could
never again desire to open it. He locked the box up carefully in one
of the oak bureaus. Then he made some steps forward into the
consulting-room, and glancing up, beheld his bandaged head and
disordered figure in the mirror which had first reflected him as Ruel
Bey. The sight brought to him still more the reality of the situation.
He rang the bell, and in a minute his servant, who, cautioned by
Heathcote, was on the watch, answered the summons. The man stared as
though a ghost were risen be fore him, for he beheld, as he thought,
standing there confronting him, Ruel Bey, whom he had last seen
carried in a state of unconsciousness into the surgery, and upon whom
he knew an operation of more or less serious nature had been
performed. Marillier pointed to the operating-room, and to the dead
body huddled upon the floor. He could scarcely speak. When he did so,
his voice was husky with agitation and he clutched at the mantel for
support. While he was trying to explain what had happened, Heathcote,
who had hurried back from his professional visit, turned the handle of
the door, and at sight of the man whom he had left, as he believed,
motionless upon the couch, drew back also as though he beheld a ghost.

'You see,' Marillier stammered, 'I awoke...That is what I found.'

Heathcote gave an exclamation of horror as he looked in the direction
which was indicated by the outstretched hand of, as it appeared, Ruel

'What is it?' he cried. 'What has happened?'

'See for yourself. He is dead.'

'But how--how? It is impossible.'

'I cannot tell you how. I must go to the Embassy. I must break this
horrible news. Have the kindness to order the carriage at once.'

'You cannot go to the Embassy,' said Heathcote.

'It would be endangering your life.'

Marillier laughed strangely, and pointed impatiently to the form on
the tiled floor.

'Attend to him. That is your business. Let me attend to mine. I tell
you that I must go.'

Heathcote, too horrified to expostulate further rushed to the body of
his friend and began to make unavailing efforts for its revival.

'Order the carriage at once,' repeated Marillier to the butler.

'The carriage is waiting, sir,' replied the man. 'It brought back Mr

Marillier hurriedly adjusted his dress, the man assisting him. He was
as pale as a corpse; a bandage still swathed his head, and the uniform
he wore was tumbled and awry. He was then helped out of the
consulting-room, got into the brougham, and calling to the coachman,
'The Abarian Embassy--quick!' was driven rapidly the short distance
which lay between it and Harley Street.

* * *

Rachel Isdas sat alone in the inner reception-room before a blazing
fire. Nurse Dalison had gone out, and she had come to this room in the
half hope, half fear that Caspar might find her there on his return
from the funeral. The afternoon was cold, and the desolation in her
heart made her feel still colder. She leaned forward in her big chair,
hugging the warmth. The blazing logs brought her a dull sense of
comfort and cheer, as the flames danced in the mirror behind her and
on the polished furniture, shedding an illusory glow on her pale face.
But they only seemed to make her eyes sadder and her slim, black-clad
form more pathetic and childish.

Her mind was full of strange forebodings. She was thinking now of her
last interview with Caspar; indeed, there had been scarcely a moment
when she had not thought of it. She had then intuitively felt
something in Caspar which she did not understand, and which faintly
revolted her; this she was forced to acknowledge to herself, and yet,
in spite of the feeling, Caspar formed the sum of her future. Without
Caspar, she could make no plan of existence--nay, she would hardly
care to exist. In a few days at latest, she must decide whether to
accept or to refuse his proposition--one from which she instinctively
shrank, but which she dared not decline. Her own forlornness oppressed
her. She had no one to whom she could turn for advice; and though she
longed to consult Marillier, Caspar had expressly forbidden her to
mention the matter to his cousin. Even without that prohibition, she
felt that it would be difficult in this instance to confide in
Marillier. For her age, she was extraordinarily simple-minded and
unworldly, this convent--bred girl, but her woman's instinct stirred
and cautioned her. Marillier was her friend; he had vowed to befriend
her if need be; but there were some things one could not speak of to
the closest friend, and this was one of them. It was her secret and
Caspar's. Her face burned as she remembered that Marillier had seen
her almost in Caspar's embrace, and that seemed to make confidence
still more impossible. Besides, Caspar had bidden her be silent, and
Caspar's word was law. Nevertheless, she was puzzled by Caspar's
reasoning, and, though not knowing the cause, her maiden soul rebelled
against Caspar's manner of wooing. She wavered, torn with doubts which
her tenderness would scarcely allow her to put into form.

There had been many carriages drawing up at the entrance to the
Embassy; she heard the sound of footsteps and of opening and closing
doors below, and knew that the funeral cortge must have returned,
that the body of Isdas was laid away, and that the business of the
Chancellery was going on--the business of reporting the events of the
day and registering the possible diplomatic significance of all that
had taken place. A lull followed, broken by the drawing up of
Marillier's brougham, but this Rachel did not hear, nor did the
hurried explanations in the hall reach her ears, or the brief talk
which took place between Marillier and Ahmed Bey, secretary next to
Ruel Bey, who, in the absence of his superior, had taken command of
affairs. She heard nothing, knew nothing, till footsteps sounded in
the larger room beyond her--footsteps that she seemed to recognise.
Then the double doors were burst open, the curtains pushed aside, and
Marillier, or as he appeared to her, Caspar, her lover, stood arrested
for a moment on the threshold. He was stopped by a suffocating sense
of dread, and by his own eager longing, of which he was now
overpoweringly conscious. Rachel turned, half rising from her chair,
the love in her face blending with some uneasiness, evoked by her
recent reverie. She did not seem at first to realise that he had been
hurt; he had forbidden that she should be told, and it was not now
apparent, for he had made an arrangement of his fur-lined coat which
the butler in Harley Street had insisted upon his putting on,--drawing
up the collar about his throat so that the bandage was almost hidden,
and only his white face emerged from between the fur and the fez which
covered his head. As he advanced, she sprang to her feet.

'Caspar!' she cried, holding out her hands uncertainly, the red
mounting to her brow. She felt in a vague way that something momentous
had happened or was about to happen.

He came close, seized her hands and kissed them, and put his arms
round her, bending his face to hers, but suddenly drew back, and
bowing reverentially before her, again kissed her hand in the manner
of a subject doing homage to his queen. He held her a little way from
him and gazed at her with an intense devotion in which there was all
the time this, to her, unwonted reverence. She did not understand it,
but it seemed to her the very answer to her thoughts. Now that she was
alone, unprotected, the Pacha laid in his tomb, Caspar, she thought,
showed himself indeed in true knightly fashion. Womanlike, with a
little laugh which had in it a glad ring, she lifted her hands and
with unmistakable affection placed them upon either side of his face
and laid a little kiss, light as a butterfly, upon his cheek. Then he
dared to gather her close to him.

'Dearest! Dearest! Dearest!' The words broke from his bursting heart,
in which pent-up passion mingled with humility and deep tenderness.
She was his. He had won her; she was his own; he had but to prove
himself worthy and he might hold her for evermore.

Heaven helping him, he vowed in his inmost soul that he would so prove
himself, hallowing this shell of Caspar by the holy fire of his love,
till she in her turn should learn to love him as she had never loved
Caspar. At the thought his senses reeled. Long and silently their lips
met. It seemed to him that the purest and sweetest yearnings of his
life were fulfilled in that kiss.

Presently he put her back in the chair and knelt by her side, a
strangely different wooer from the self-assured Caspar she had
hitherto known.

'Rachel,' he said, and hesitated. It was the first time he had called
her by her name, and not yet could he utter it glibly.

'Rachel,' he repeated, dwelling with caressing cadence on the
syllables, and lowering his voice as though he were pronouncing a
sacred word. 'Rachel! Oh, what a beautiful name it is!'

The girl laughed again, moved and glad, for this new mood of his,
pleased while it surprised her. She felt drawn out of her usual
shrinking timidity.

'Have you just discovered that?' she asked, with the faintest touch of
coquetry. 'I fancied you did not care very much for my name. You have
called me by so many others that were more---more--' she paused and
reddened again.

'More--? Tell me,' he questioned.

'More fantastic,' she answered shyly, and drew back, her fingers
playing lightly upon his coat sleeve, half expecting, half dreading
one of those accesses of fervid demonstration to which Caspar was
liable. But it did not come, and she wondered whether she had done
anything to displease him. She could not think that, however, seeing
the great love in his eyes, the almost solemn worship expressed in his
face. His extreme paleness struck her, and now she perceived the
bandage he had been at pains to conceal.

'Dear!' she exclaimed in alarm. 'What has happened to you?'

Marillier's face grew graver. The critical moment had come. He

'I--it is nothing--only an accident.'

'An accident!' she cried. 'You have been hurt?'

'A mere tap from a horse's hoof I am plastered up, you see. There was
a crush in the fog and I fell among the carriages. They put me down in
Harley Street on the way back, and Lucien--my cousin--' he stammered
confusedly. 'Lucien Marillier doctored me.'

She noticed his confusion.

'There is something more, Caspar--something you are hiding from me.'

'Yes, there is something more. I don't want to hide it from you. I
came to you at once, in order that you might not hear the news
suddenly. Don't be alarmed. It is something that you will be sorry
for, but it will not affect you very deeply.'

'What do you mean? Don't palter with me. Is it that you are more
seriously hurt than you now seem to be? That would be as bad news as
any you could break. But I don't believe it's that.'

She rose abruptly to her feet, and, putting one hand firmly on his
shoulder, attempted to examine his head as well as she could, without
removing the bandages, but he caught her hands and put her back in the

'My love, I assure you that my hurt is no great thing. I shall soon be
all right. What I have to tell you does not concern me--personally.'

Again he hesitated. The explanation was more difficult than he had

'Is it someone else who has been hurt? You need not mind telling me.
Nothing matters much now that I know you are safe.'

He had always underestimated her feeling for himself as Marillier,
nevertheless her words gave him a stab, confirming as they did what he
had been telling himself on the way to the house---that her friendship
for the doctor had been of the most ordinary kind, and that the loss
of Lucien Marillier would be of no great moment to her so long as
Caspar remained. His mind, however, was becoming clouded. The clear
gaze of her brown eyes, so soft and solicitous, seemed like a magnet
drawing away his reasoning faculties. He feared that if he did not at
once plunge into his story he might lose control over himself and give
Rachel some inkling of the strange truth. This must be prevented,
though he knew that, whatever he said, she would only think he was
talking wildly, and that his brain had become disordered by his
accident. He half wondered if it were the case; if the whole episode
of the mandrake had not been hallucination, and involuntarily, he
glanced upward, rose to his feet, and looked deliberately into the
mirror above the fireplace.

No, there was no delusion. It was Caspar he beheld, not Marillier.
With the certainty thus forced upon him, and the effort of rising, he
became faint and staggered slightly. In spite of the physical
weakness, one feeling was strong in his mind. He must frame his tale
plausibly enough to secure his own position, and thus place
speculation beyond question.

Rachel was frightened.

'Oh, what is it? Tell me,' she pleaded. 'But you mustn't stand there.
You look so ill. My Caspar! If only Doctor Marillier were here he
would know what to do; he would tell me the truth. It is no use
shaking your head. I know that you must be suffering.'

'It is nothing, nothing,' he protested. 'Only the shock, believe me.'

The girl gently led him to the chair in which she had been sitting.

'Lean back here,' she said. 'Let me come beside you, then talk to me,
talk to me, Caspar.' She bent over him and softly caressed his hands.
'You look better now. I don't feel so afraid about you. And you need
not mind what you say to me. I can bear anything, so long as I have
you safe. Now tell me, but first let me ring for some wine; that will
do you good, for you look faint.'

He checked her as she was rising.

'No; I want nothing. And what I have to tell you isn't much after
all.' He spoke in broken sentences, making strong but jerky gasps
after self-mastery. 'You won't mind...I was foolish to think for a
moment that you would mind...As you have Caspar...What
does anyone else's fate matter to you? Caspar is with you. .

Caspar can never forsake you now. .

'Oh, my dear! my dear!' she exclaimed. 'You are not yourself. You
speak so strangely. I know that you must have been more hurt than you
will allow.'

'No...I was kicked. I told you--' He tried to recover himself and to
speak coherently. 'They took me to Lucien's house--Lucien took me; he
did something to my head...I was unconscious...He had given me
chloroform...When I awoke it was he who was unconscious...He was
lying on the floor...He had fallen, do you see?...The chloroform was
spilled, I suppose, and he had a weak heart, you remember?'

Rachel stood up. She looked petrified.

'I don't understand. Do you mean that he--that he--? Oh! no, it can't
be that' 'He is dead. Lucien Marillier died. He fell...he was lying
huddled on the floor. There was no life in was gone...and I
came...I came to tell you...I was afraid. . .'

The girl's eyes lost their soft look. They grew terrified and full of
pain. She stood silent for a few moments, motionless, till the whole
sense of what he had said, broke upon her. Then she kneeled suddenly
on the ground before his chair, and with a pathetic gesture laid her
head upon his knee, uttering a low moan of distress.

'Oh, my friend! my friend! He was the best friend I ever had; so true
to me. And I trusted him--I cared for him so much.'

Even in his bewildered condition Marillier's heart thrilled with joy.
She had cared for him! She might have loved him, perhaps, if there had
been no Caspar. The treasure he had gained was greater far than he had
hoped for. Her trust, her friendship, ay, her love, it might be, were
all his. As Caspar he had won her, but it should be by the strength of
Marillier that he would hold her.

He put out his hand and stroked her bent head twice or thrice.
Stooping, he laid his lips upon it; the contact of her hair seemed to
intoxicate him. He could feel her slender body shaken with sobs as she
leaned against him. Gathering up all his strength, he put his arms
round her and drew her close, holding her head back with one hand so
that her face was uplifted and her eyes met his. Closer still he held
her, and all the yearning in his heart found voice as in his double
nature he pleaded with her.

'Trust me, beloved. Let me be friend and lover in one. Think of me not
only as Caspar who loved you for your beauty and your sweetness and
for all the joy you gave him, but as Lucien too, your friend, your
adorer, to whom you were as something holy, to be reverenced, guarded
at the sacrifice of his life, at the risk of his soul. My beloved,
think of me so, not as some mere light wooer, not as the gay, careless
Caspar of yesterday, but as one whom you have changed into a nobler
man; as one whom your love has lifted nearer to the level of yourself
I swear to you, Rachel, that though as Caspar I love you, as Lucien I
honour you, and as Lucien I will protect you, asking nothing in return
but that which of your own sweet impulse you give freely. Dearest,
forget all the wild talk of yesterday which distressed you. Forget
that foolish, that ill-judged plan. You shall go with me to Paris
whenever it pleases you that I shall become your husband; or you shall
stay in England and I will minister unto you at a distance if you
choose. I will prove myself worthy of you; I will obey your slightest
wish, your smallest scruple. No queen shall receive homage such as I
will pay you, my soul's beloved, beside whose happiness, the whole
world counts as nothing.' Rachel's sobs subsided. She lay in his arms
against his breast with a sense of peace and happiness stealing over
her such as she had never known before in all the ardour of Caspar's
caresses. These, she felt, were not Caspar's kisses, and yet it was
the lips of Caspar which touched her cheek. These were not the words
of Caspar, yet it was Caspar's voice that uttered them. She no longer
felt that instinctive shrinking which had made her dread the renewal
of Caspar's entreaties; she forgot even her grief for Marillier in
this new blessedness. 'You don't want me to go to Paris? You are not
minding about your prospects--the appointment? You will not ask me
what you asked yesterday?'

'I will ask you nothing; I have sworn it. Of your own free will you
shall give me my heart's desire.'

'But you wish it, Caspar; you wish that I should be your wife? You
love me...and I...I...'

'You love me? Say it, dearest.'

'I have told you that I love you, but you did not seem to wish
yesterday that I should--be married to you...for a long time yet.'

She blushed deeply as she spoke, and her voice was so hesitating and
so low that he could hardly hear the words. She had withdrawn from his
clasp and was again kneeling on the ground before him.

He bent forward; he tried to raise her, but his strength would not
permit. He would have kneeled at her feet instead of her being at his.
Something of this thought burst from his lips. He could only kiss her
hand, entreating her forgiveness. The plan of yesterday, had he not
told her, was foolish and wicked, a wrong to her sweet maidenhood. Her
instinct had rightly shrunk from it. Never more would he insult her by
any such propositions. Not through him, should her life be made more
difficult. He would marry her to-morrow if only she would consent.
This was his heart's desire, for which, all unworthy, he waited, but
yet dared not ask. For her sake, even more than for the sake of his
own joy, he longed for the right to protect her; he longed to lift her
beyond even the suggestion of an equivocal position. But not at the
cost of her own inclination; not--his voice failed him. He could only
again mutely kiss her hands.

The girl was sobbing softly. Her whole heart went out to him more
fully than ever before. She realised that a great change had come over
her lover--Caspar--a change for which she could not account, of which
she fancied it might be wrong of her to take advantage; some passing
phase of emotion, perhaps, prompting him to an attitude that later he
might regret. But she could not doubt his sincerity. Her impulse was
to throw herself into his arms, to bid him take her, do with her 'as
he would, marry her now or not as he pleased. But the very change in
him made her uncertain. What had caused it? And then the thought
flashed across her that, perhaps, Lucien had influenced him. She had
left them alone together the day before. Lucien must have overheard
her talk with Caspar, and no doubt he had remonstrated with him
afterwards. Now, like a sharp blow, came the realisation that Lucien
was dead; that her friend, her counsellor, was gone from her. And how
could she have forgotten him, even for a moment? For in listening to
Caspar's passionate pleading she had allowed herself to forget A great
compunction seized her.

'Oh! if Doctor Marillier were here!' she cried again. 'My friend! My
dear friend in whom I could always trust. I like to hear you say,
Caspar, that in you I have him also, for indeed, as you speak to me
like this, I seem to feel him in you--his noble nature, his strength
and goodness--all that I cared for in him. But still you are my lover,
not my friend, and you cannot judge as he could judge for yourself and
for me.'

Anew, her words thrilled sweetly in Marillier's dazed ears. He tried
to reassure her, but speech died on his lips. He longed to tell her
that it was only her enemy, not her friend, who had passed away, that
the friend still lived in the lover, that he was himself both lover
and friend. Perhaps, had not his utterance failed him, he might have
spoken thus, and have earned for himself only a doubt of his sanity,
for he was in no mood to weigh the wisdom of his words. Fortunately
for his chances of winning Rachel, his strength was almost spent; he
had no longer the power of expression, and could only murmur terms of
endearment, and feebly stroke her hair.

'I had forgotten him for the moment,' she went on in her remorse. 'It
was heartless of me. I thought only of you, and of the joy of those
dear words. If he were alive, you would now let me tell him our
secret? You would not forbid me as you did yesterday? And he would
advise me for your welfare, dearest; he, who was so wise and so just,
would not let me sacrifice you to myself.'

Marillier was aroused at her words, and gripped as it were his fading

'Sacrifice! Oh! my love! My love! If you could know! Have I not said
that you are my life? Worldly advancement is nothing to me. To hold
you in my arms as my own would be worth heaven. To have the right to
protect you--to give you my name--to know that you are mine, and that
no power can take you from me! oh! that seems to me the height of
human happiness; and if that could be now--at once--before you leave
England; if I might guard you, and care for you now in your
loneliness--is it impossible, Rachel? I ask only the certainty that
you are legally mine, no more; for the rest I will wait. Rachel, will
you marry me--as soon as it can be arranged?'

His tone, and the deep sincerity of his words uttered so haltingly,
carried the girl out of herself. Her own love welled up in a tide that
was irresistible. She put her arms round him and raised her lips to
his. The kiss was her answer, but he would have more.

'Speak to me,' he murmured. 'My beloved, tell me that it shall be as I

'It shall be as you ask,' she replied with solemnity. 'I am yours to
take when you will. I will marry you, Caspar, now--or next year--as
you think best, for you are my beloved, and my heart is in your

Their lips pressed again, and then she felt a sudden relaxation of his
muscles, and his form, inert in her arms, fell back helplessly against
the chair. She knew that he must have fainted, and terrified, darted
to the electric bell, and sent a shrill ring echoing through the
house. Then she knelt at Marillier's feet, chafing his hands and
wildly kissing them, while she called upon him as Caspar in vehement
entreaties that he would awake and answer her. She feared that he too
was dead, and that instead of gaining in him lover and friend as he
had said, she had now lost both. The entrance of the servants who came
in answer to the bell scarcely checked her outburst of emotion. She
had been completely unnerved by the strain of the last few weeks, and
was no longer mistress of herself. In face of this new calamity, she
did not care if all the world knew what were her feelings towards the
unconscious man. As his betrothed wife, she thought, she surely had a
right to tend him.

The room was soon a scene of prompt and anxious action. Nurse Dalison
had come back, and now drew Rachel aside, and did her best to comfort
her. The poor girl continued to sob out her regrets that Doctor
Marillier was not there; he would have known what to do, he would have
restored his cousin. But Doctor Marillier was dead, and what other
doctor could she trust?

'Mr Heathcote is here,' said Nurse Dalison; 'and we have sent for
Doctor Carus Spencer.'

Heathcote had followed his patient to the Embassy, horrified at the
risk he was running. It was Heathcote who had told Nurse Dalison, and
confirmed to the secretaries the news of Marillier's death; he was
broken-hearted at the loss of his friend and master, but he felt that
he had done all he could, and the dead must be left, since the living
needed him more imperatively. Now, while Nurse Dalison soothed the
weeping Rachel, Mr Heathcote issued rapid orders, and in a few minutes
Marillier was borne to the chamber which had been Ruel Bey's.


The Abarian Embassy was thrown into a state of consternation by the
accident to Ruel Bey; indeed, one might have found it somewhat
demoralised for the moment, by the three disasters coming so quickly
one after the other. Marillier's sudden and tragic end did not, it is
true, affect the business of the Chancellery, but his relationship to
the first secretary, and his frequent attendance at the Embassy during
recent months, had made him seem almost a part of its staff. Besides
which, from that quality of forcefulness which he possessed, the
members of the household had come in a certain sense to rely upon him,
and his loss, hardly yet realised, fell upon all with the shock of

The Ambassador's death had been a great event--in fact, a national
event; but he had been long ill. It had been expected, and as regards
practical workings, his loss was just now of less importance than the
disablement of Ruel Bey. The first secretary and Charg d'Affaires, as
he now became, handled the helm deftly, and there was no one who could
take his place. Ahmed Bey, the secretary next to Ruel in order of
seniority, though clever, ambitious, and most eager to seize this
opportunity of advancement, was young, had only lately been appointed,
and was by no means capable of dealing with European and Eastern
complications, or of directing here in London the difficult course of
Abarian diplomacy. He was in fact more on a level with the two beneath
him, and a wide gap had always been recognised between his official
status and that of Caspar. He had a fearsome awe of the responsibility
which now devolved upon him, and which he discussed with the
secretaries below him as they talked together, wondering what would
happen, how long Caspar would be ill, whether he would indeed recover.
For with an injury to the brain, who could say how far permanent might
be his disqualification. Ahmed Bey looked more like a Parisian dandy
than a serious diplomatist; he was a dapper little man, faddish in his
dress, and had an attractive face, with bright eyes and nicely-curled
moustache. He thought himself very clever, and was convinced that he
could impress the authorities by his ability; so, though nervous, he
was pleased and excited, determined to come up first in the scramble,
but in reality in great danger of ruining his prospects by some
mistake arising from the ignorance of self-conceit.

They were all speculating as to who would be the new ambassador. There
were rumours that the post would be conferred upon Ruel Bey, and this
was not altogether pleasing to the undersecretaries, who, as was
natural, were a little jealous of their brilliant colleague, and would
have preferred an outsider. It was thought that this accident might
possibly shake Caspar's chance of the appointment; there was a
tendency among the secretaries to make much of the accident in the
reports, and all were eagerly waiting the verdict of the two doctors
Nurse Dalison had sent for, before committing themselves to a
preliminary telegraphic announcement.

Evening was creeping on. Heathcote had done what he could for the sick
man who was lying in a state of unconsciousness, from which it was
considered improbable that he would revive before some hours had
passed. At length, Heathcote, full of his own keener grief and deeper
anxiety, went back to the house in which his dead friend lay, and
where much business was awaiting him. He had concluded that the
doctors, Carus Spencer and Ffolliot, the Pacha's former attendants,
and as Heathcote knew, bitterly opposed to Marillier's methods--a fact
which made him unwilling to meet them--would be immediately in
attendance. By a coincidence, however, both were at the time engaged
in a consultation in the suburbs, and could not at once be got at.
They arrived late, and received only such version of the affair as
Nurse Dalison had heard from the lips of Heathcote. They were
astonished to hear of the death of Marillier; but, as both frankly
stated, this event did not concern them so much as the condition of
his patient, which was now their business. Both questioned the wisdom
and the manner of the operation, and Nurse Dalison, who was devoted to
Marillier, felt incensed at their comments, but could not resent them.
The injury was examined, fresh dressings substituted, and it was
arranged that a male attendant should be sent to watch the injured
man, who remained unconscious. Till he recovered from this state of
insensibility little could be done.

Before the doctors left the house Nurse Dalison requested their
professional offices for Mademoiselle Isdas, who from a fainting fit
had fallen into a condition distressingly hysterical. The nurse
intimated that there were emotional complications; that Ruel Bey and
the Ambassador's niece were lovers, and that the poor girl had been
entirely broken down by this double shock of the death of her friend
Doctor Marillier and the accident to her fianc. Mr Ffolliot was
severely scientific--a surgeon--an authority on brain injuries, a man
of note and also of iron, whose reputation rested mainly on his
insusceptibility to sentimental considerations. Doctor Carus Spencer,
on the contrary, was a type of the sympathetic doctor, the trusted
recipient of aristocratic confidences, and well acquainted with West-
end medical scandals. In him the hearts of troubled wives, husbands,
and fathers had their trust, and his latitudinarianism made him all
the more welcome in fashionable boudoirs and bedrooms. He had heard
some of the gossip about the Ambassador's niece--whom he, with the
rest of the world, believed not to be his niece. The Pacha's will had
been a topic of talk; the legacy to the Emperor of Abaria giving food
for conjecture. Doctor Carus Spencer was not loath to attend
Mademoiselle Isdas, who had on previous occasions interested him
greatly, and the love affair at which Nurse Dalison hinted, stimulated
his interest In Ruel Bey, provided that Marillier had not bungled the
head injury fatally, by, as he termed it, an operation of doubtful
wisdom and some quack lotion not known in European surgery, Doctor
Carus Spencer scented a future ambassador, and an instrument that
might be effectively wielded in his own intrigues for a baronetcy. He
saw Rachel, murmured discreet words of consolation, prescribed a
composing draught, and departed, leaving Nurse Dalison in command.

His visit made Rachel understand that she had betrayed, perhaps
compromised herself, and, to a certain extent, it restored her self-
control. Her efforts to command her nerves were pathetic. She allowed
herself to be put to bed, swallowed the draught, and begged only that
Nurse Dalison would from time to time let her know how Caspar
progressed, and whether there was any return of consciousness. The
nurse kissed her, told her all that she could of the doctor's opinion,
not hiding the blame they cast on Marillier, but echoing sincerely the
girl's plaint, 'Oh! if only he were here.'

It was a comfort to Rachel to know that in Nurse Dalison she had at
least one whom Marillier had trusted; only she wished that the nurse
had in her partisanship spoken out more boldly of the doctor who had
trained her. But that was not Nurse Dalison's way. She was steady,
reliable, an automaton in obedience to orders--therein had lain her
claim to Marillier's confidence--a refined and entirely well-meaning
woman, but she was famous for her tact, and was sufficiently
diplomatic not to offend the powers of the day. Marillier was dead,
she mourned him truly, won Rachel's heart by her tears--the two had
wept together--but Mr Ffolliott and Doctor Carus Spencer were alive,
and might in many future cases be her masters. 'My dear,' she said,
'it made my blood boil to hear our poor friend, who was a better
doctor and a more skilful surgeon than all the Carus Spencers and
Ffolliotts of London put together, spoken of in that way. And to call
that special antiseptic of his, which is really wonderful in its
effect, a quack lotion! But what could one do?' (Nurse Dalison
italicized freely.) 'Mr Heathcote will explain all about the
operation, and I know that Doctor Marillier would never have done it
unless he had been absolutely sure. I have no doubt whatever that it
saved Ruel Bey's life. Only, of course, he would never have allowed
the patient to get up and come here immediately after it. That was
sheer madness, and it's just marvellous that it hasn't killed the dear
man. I'm not surprised that the doctors are afraid of meningitis or
cerebral hemorrhage. But now, don't you be nervous, for that isn't
going to happen. I'm certain that he'll pull through all right. This
isn't the only case of trephining that I've nursed for Doctor
Marillier, and I know that it's his first dressing which takes away
the risk of complication. I shall say nothing, but I shall go on as
though I were under the orders of our dear dead friend. And, besides,
my dear, we will both say our prayers. I am convinced that Providence
watches over unselfish lovers. He was thinking of you, not of his own
danger. Poor fellow! How I sympathise with him in his feeling that he
must rush at once to you. But there's no denying that it was a
terribly imprudent thing to do.' 'Oh, I ought to have seen! I ought to
have known!' cried Rachel in deep self-reproach. 'I was not like him,
I was thinking only of myself But he said he wasn't seriously hurt.'

'Naturally he would say so; he wouldn't want to frighten you. I think
it was just beautiful of him. But one must accept the consequences of
such devotion, though his indifference is his best chance of
overcoming them. They are not going to end seriously, my dear; and as
long as they don't you should be thankful for his self-sacrifice; it's
the best guarantee he can give you of married happiness.'

She prattled on, knowing that her talk was medicine to Rachel.

'I daresay he didn't in the least realise the conditions. He must have
been quite overcome by the shock of seeing his cousin lying dead at
his feet--and he just risen from the operating-table. The whole story
sounded too gruesome when young Heathcote told it to me. I'm so sorry
for that young man. He adored Doctor Marillier, and he is full of
talent himself, but just a little emotional and blind to his own
interests. He shouldn't quarrel with Spencer and Ffolliott, but he
will, I know he will. I wish I could warn him before he sees them to-
morrow. Naturally they didn't like being turned off the Ambassador's
case to give place to--Of course, I can't call dear Doctor Marillier
an outsider, but we know he went through a totally different training
from that of the ordinary English doctor. And then that Medicine Moor
whom he thought so much of! Well, you couldn't expect a Fellow of the
College of Physicians, who had never heard probably of the Medicine
Moor, to bow to his authority. He'd class him, no doubt, with Avicenna
and people of that kind in the Middle Ages. In fact, you couldn't
expect a conventional London physician to jump at out-of-the-way
ideas--could you, now? No, dear, I think we must make allowance for
the opinion of Carus Spencer and Ffolliott There is a good deal to be
said on their side. And one must remember, too, that notwithstanding
Doctor Marillier's treatment, the Ambassador died. That was quite in
the order of Nature at his age--but still he did die.'

So Nurse Dalison contrived a special plea on both counts. She was
deeply sympathetic with Heathcote, and loyal in her way to the dead
Marillier, but she always prided herself upon seeing 'the other side'
in matters concerning her profession. No doubt there was both justice
and common sense in her attitude, but it jarred on Rachel, and did
something towards strengthening her efforts at self-control. During
the night, Nurse Dalison glided at intervals to Rachel's bedside. The
girl awakened soon after midnight from her drug-bought doze, and lay
all through the small hours waiting for the nurse's report, which was
always the same--' Still unconscious.' The attendant engaged by
Ffolliott was there, nourishment was given in spoonfuls and just
swallowed---that was all. There was no more to be said. The same
report continued during the earlier part of the next day. The doctors
came in the morning, and Heathcote met them by appointment. He himself
was not yet qualified as a physician, and moreover, would have
objected to working with men antagonistic to his late master, and who
were going against the treatment Marillier had started, and would have
continued had he been alive to carry on the case. Then, too, Heathcote
had never liked Ruel Bey, and beyond professional interest in the
operation at which he had assisted, was not deeply concerned in the
matter of his recovery. In truth, Heathcote was too bowed down by his
own grief to care greatly what happened to anyone else. He told the
story of the accident and of the operation at Marillier's house,
dwelling upon the necessity for prompt action, which the doctors
questioned. They remarked that it was strange Marillier should have
undertaken so great a responsibility unfortified by another's opinion,
at which Heathcote replied hotly that it had never been Doctor
Marillier's habit, when sure of his ground, to fortify himself by
other Opinions.

Doctor Carus Spencer observed blandly, 'It would have been safer--much
safer, my dear friend, as the results have proved. But continue, pray

Heathcote asserted warmly that were any bad consequences to follow,
they would be due, not to ill judgment or inefficiency on Marillier's
part, but to Ruel Bey's rash action immediately after the operation.
He then related how, after it had been successfully concluded, he
himself had left the surgery, and had returned to find the patient
risen from the operating-table and violently insisting upon going to
the Embassy, while Marillier, to his horror, lay dead upon the floor.

'And the cause of death?' put in Doctor Carus Spencer, sweetly. 'Heart
failure, I understand; no doubt following upon the inhalation of
chloroform during the administration of the ansthetic. Strange--
strange! No doubt there will be an inquest. My dear sir, I presume
that Doctor Marillier's relatives will investigate this occurrence.'

Doctor Marillier had no relative,' replied Heathcote, 'but his cousin,
Ruel Bey.'

Doctor Carus Spencer rubbed his whiskers reflectively, and Mr
Ffolliott, who had been watching Heathcote with his keen eyes,
listening attentively, but asking no questions, interposed,--'Our
business is not so much with Doctor Marillier's unfortunate collapse
and the circumstance attending it, as with its consequences and those
of the operation he performed upon our patient, Ruel Bey.'

He then put some technical questions, which Heathcote answered
shortly, irritated by the surgeon's impassive manner. But Doctor Carus
Spencer was not so easily quenched; the social side of his profession
weighed with him almost as much as the scientific, whereas Mr
Ffolliott was a scientist on the hard and fast materialistic lines,
and disdained social aspects. Doctor Carus Spencer expressed suave
regret at the sudden extinction of a medical career which had promised
to be both brilliant and useful--he weighed his words--in spite of a
tendency to unprofessional methods and dangerous innovations, with
which, he added, in the case of the late Ambassador, he had
reluctantly and from a sense of duty, been compelled to dissociate
himself. He had not believed that such methods would be successfull
and had not been surprised, though sincerely sorry, that the Pacha had
not long survived Doctor Marillier's operation. Heathcote flared up
in---hot defence of Marillier, exclaiming that what Doctor Carus
Spencer called dangerous innovations and unprofessional methods had,
as surely the whole faculty must acknowledge, the sanction of foreign
authorities in medicine and surgery. 'Such as the recently deceased
Medicine Moor, a quack on mystic lines, whose methods I have lately
had the privilege of hearing something about from a gentleman whom he
treated in Algeria. Astrology, I understand, played a large part in
them.' Mr Ffolliott spoke with impatient sarcasm.

Doctor Carus Spencer bristled fussily, but he was always benevolent.
'My dear friend, you are yet young in the profession, and your
admiration for the late Doctor Marillier has all my sympathy. Believe
me, I like and admire you for championing his unorthodox theories, but
take the advice of one who, in the course of a long and varied
professional career, has learned with reason to distrust modes of
treatment not ratified by scientific experiment: Our late friend
Doctor Marillier had genius; I am the first to acknowledge it. His
genius carried him through difficulties which to others might have
been insurmountable. His personal force; his enthusiastic belief in
himself, enabled him to perform cures that without those aids could
not have been accomplished. That leaning towards the occult, the
unprovable, is the modern snare. Even Charcot and Libault--'

But Mr Ffolliott mercilessly interrupted, and again brought his
colleague back to the business in hand. The two doctors were an odd
contrast to each other, each one a type in his way of the successful
London healer. Carus Spencer was short, fussy, inclined to stoutness,
with a thick black moustache and short black whiskers; a man of words,
persuasive and conciliatory, eminently calculated to deal with nervous
women, yet robust enough in speech to inspire the average man with
immense confidence. He was a sportsman also, which was in his favour
with men, and his August holiday was mainly devoted to grouse, which
he shot on the moors of sundry aristocratic patients. A man of the
world was Carus Spencer, but with a special aptitude for the
domesticities. Ffolliott, on the other hand, was scientific, and
nothing but scientific. Report called him a vivisectionist of a
somewhat milder order than Paul Bert, and women shuddered at him. He
was lean and long bodied, with a hawk nose and singularly piercing
eyes. He did not talk much, but what he said was to the point, and he
observed minutely, admitting nothing beyond the physical.

Heathcote left the doctors, feeling guiltily that he had failed in
loyalty to the dead, and had gained no credit from the living. The
patient was still insensible; it was only towards the close of the day
that he lapsed into a lethargic sleep, which the doctors considered a
hopeful sign, but from which he could not be roused. His attendant
watched him continuously, administering nourishment at intervals, and
Nurse Dalison kept an intermittent watch. There was for Rachel another
night of anxious waiting, but by this time, the girl had become
stronger, and was better able to hide her heart rending anxiety. Nurse
Dalison, deeply pitiful and slightly curious, tried to make her talk
about her engagement, adroitly alluding to her relations with the late
Pacha, commiserating her loneliness, and hinting vaguely at future
plans, and the possibility of Rachel herself occupying the position of
Abarian Ambassadress.

Nurse Dalison was quite in touch with the gossip of the Chancellery,
and congratulated her charge on the brilliant prospects of her fianc.
The nurse's talk, sympathetic and even well-bred as it was, put Rachel
on her guard, while yet she was grateful and soothed by the sense of
having gained a woman friend. Nurse Dalison seemed to her a worldly
replica of that Irish nun who had taught her to sing Moore's melodies
with the national accent. She was quite ready to talk of the convent,
of her dead counsellor Marillier, of everything but Ruel Bey--save as
a patient. In that character she discussed him eagerly. She made Nurse
Dalison repeat every word the doctors said when they came, and
listened greedily to each scrap of news from the sickroom. After a
little while, Nurse Dalison humoured her, and held her peace on other
subjects; she was really fond of Rachel, and partly understood her
mood. Late in the evening, she came to tell her that the sick man had
recovered consciousness, but the doctors were in the room; and she
hastened back, leaving the girl in an ecstasy of happiness at the bare
intelligence, which as yet was all she had. When Nurse Dalison
returned to Ruel Bey's chamber, the patient had just spoken, had asked
where he was, and what had happened. Doctor Carus Spencer stood at the
side of the bed holding Marillier's pulse, and peering through his
spectacles into the sick man's face, while he reassured him as one
might a frightened child. Ffolliott said nothing, but leaned over the
foot of the bed, watching every movement and noting every expression
that passed over Marillier's face. The surgeon's eyes were alert,
interested; at the same time he was puzzled. There were one or two
things in the patient's demeanour which he had not expected.
Marillier's brain was dazed; he could remember nothing. He thought of
himself only as Marillier, if he thought of himself at all, and could
but feebly wonder why he was in this strange room, and what had caused
his bodily sensations. He tried to raise himself, but became aware of
his helplessness. His right hand and arm moved at first aimlessly, and
then sought the seat of sensation, his head, and found that it was
bandaged. A glimmering consciousness came to him of the operation he
had performed upon Caspar--he did not yet realise that he was Caspar
and not Marillier--and he was annoyed at discovering that the bandages
were not as he himself would have arranged them. He uttered an angry
exclamation and found words. Who had been meddling? Why was not the
dressing as he had placed it? Here he made use of a technical
expression which struck Mr Ffolliott as surprising in the mouth of
Ruel Bey; it was this expression which had roused the surgeon's
interest and curiosity. But he was still silent.

Marillier asked again why had not the dressing been left as he had put
it? Surely it must be evident that he had intended to guard against
hemorrhage? He made some medical remarks. The surgeon and the doctor
looked at each other, but did not answer him.

Doctor Cams Spencer pressed the pulse, relaxed his fingers, looked at
his watch, and let the sick man's hand down gently on the bedclothes,
nodding across at Ffolliott.

'Better than I expected. Rapid, of course, and slightly feverish. My
dear friend, you mustn't scold the doctors. We are doing our best. You
have had a nasty accident, and have been sometime unconscious, but now
I am glad to say there is no danger to be apprehended. Only keep
quiet; don't excite yourself. Of course the dressing is as it should
be. You must have confidence in your medical attendant. I think I may
say that the best skill in London is at your service. It is Mr
Ffolliott himself who dressed and bandaged the wounds.'

'Ffolliott!' The sick man gave a feeble groan; it seemed almost of
disgust. Mr Ffolliott bent forward.

'You prefer Doctor Marillier's style of dressing?'

The sick man stared strangely.


'Naturally, of course,' sweetly interposed Doctor Carus Spencer. 'He
was your cousin, and no doubt you had a high opinion of his skill, as
we all had. But he--unfortunately, Doctor Marillier's services are not
now available. Submit yourself, dear friend, and pray allow some merit
to English methods of surgery and some honour to Mr Ffolliott, who has
certainly proved himself worthy of it.'

'That is nonsense,' said Marillier. 'Take off the bandage, please, and
put on the old dressing. If it had been left I should not feel as I do
now. I--I--' His speech became confused. He stared wildly. 'What has
come over me? God! I don't know myself. Who is this? What is this?'

His brain seemed to him bursting. It was as if two floods of
consciousness, of memory, met each other, dashed against each other,
mingled in confusion that was maddening. It seemed to him that he was
in truth being driven mad, and a sudden frenzy of terror seized him.
He tore at the bandages, and would have removed them but that Mr
Ffolliott's strong arms held him down. He struggled, argued the point
of treatment in scientific terms which amazed the two doctors, and
finally fainted.

The doctors thought it wiser to humour the patient by re-dressing the
injured part in the manner Doctor Marillier had employed. Happily they
were able to do this by the aid of Nurse Dalison and of the
information Heathcote had given them.

Mr Ffolliott in especial was puzzled. The sick man had objected in the
coherent incisive manner of one who knew what he was talking about,
not as a man in delirium, and certainly with a knowledge of medicine
and surgery not to be expected in that brilliant diplomatist and man
of fashion, the first secretary. They accounted for this afterwards by
supposing that Caspar might, perhaps, at the beginning of his career
have studied medicine with his cousin, and so have imbibed Lucien
Marillier's peculiar theories. This, at least, was Carus Spencer's
idea. Mr Ffolliott said little, and that little had to do with latent
impressions and unused brain cells.


An account of her lover's delirium was taken to Rachel, and distressed
her beyond measure. Nevertheless she loved Caspar the more for what
she thought his loyalty to his cousin Lucien, and blamed herself for
having formerly done him injustice in some respects, for though she
recognised to the full his talents in diplomacy and his many social
and artistic gifts, she had not credited him with capacity for those
graver interests in which Lucien Marillier delighted. She begged Nurse
Dalison to go back to the sickroom and watch by Caspar's side the
progress of this new development which frightened her. It seemed to
Rachel, in her ignorance, almost better that he should lie unconscious
than that his mind should go even temporarily astray. When, some time
later, Nurse Dalison announced that the patient was quite quiet,
perfectly reasonable, more satisfied, and in less discomfort since the
doctors had conceded their opinion to his in the matter of dressing
the wound, Rachel felt indescribable relief. She asked Nurse Dalison
to tell her everything that her lover had said.

'He gave me a message for you,' replied the nurse, which should
comfort you and show you that he is in complete possession of his
senses. It is an extraordinary thing, my dear, how he should have
known as he did about that dressing. For he was perfectly right, and
dear Doctor Marillier himself couldn't have put the case more plainly.
I daresay Mr Ffolliott's way is as good, but then it isn't Doctor
Marillier's way, and as he trained me, it's natural I should think his
way the best. I did a little more for Ruel Bey on my own
responsibility, and this seemed a comfort to him. I suppose they were
very intimate, the cousins? Do you know it gave me a weird feeling to
hear Ruel Bey speak just as Doctor Marillier might have done. He must
have known more of the doctor's work than anybody could have imagined.
They were very intimate, weren't they?' she repeated.

'I don't know,' Rachel answered dully. She was not interested in the
question of the dressings which appeared to have made so great an
impression on the doctors and on the nurse.

'Perhaps he had some kind of accident like this in the past,' Nurse
Dalison went on, 'and Doctor Marillier may have attended him in it.
And yet--but that I knew it was the voice of Ruel Bey, I could almost
have declared that I heard Doctor Marillier giving me his directions.
There was something quite ghostlike about it. I was glad to turn Ruel
Bey's attention from himself and to speak about you.'

'You spoke of me?' Rachel exclaimed, not altogether pleased, yet
longing to hear the response.

'Only a word. You must think me a very bad nurse to fancy that I could
let him excite himself. Of course, I knew that he would be anxious for
news of you, and that it would soothe him, so I just said that I was
certain you would be glad to hear he was better, and that I was going
to you in a few moments.'

'And he said--?' Rachel asked eagerly.

'He said, "That's right, nurse. Take care of her; she needs it. Don't
let her be anxious. Tell her from me that I spoke truly when I told
her that there was nothing seriously wrong, and that I hope in a few
days to be able to see her." Those were his very words. And now I've
told you everything, and you must try to sleep in peace.'

But Rachel could not sleep. In the reaction after strain and suspense,
as she lay awake that night, her thoughts went back to Marillier,
again with deep self-reproach that she had been so entirely occupied
with her lover as to have almost forgotten her first grief at his
loss. Her mind dwelt much upon her dead friend during those night
hours and the succeeding days. She knew that though her anxiety upon
Caspar's account had for the moment absorbed her, nevertheless the
death of Marillier affected her strangely, touching her in the deepest
recesses of her nature. The lack she felt was immense, and she could
hardly understand why it should seem so great to her. She tried to
reason with herself, to assure her aching heart that Caspar--her
lover, her husband to be--still remained; and that, therefore, no
other loss could make a material difference in her life, especially
now that the vague doubt of Caspar had been quelled, and he had shown
her in that last interview the real nobility of his character. And yet
she could not help feeling that at this juncture she needed a firmer
stay than Caspar could supply; she needed the counsel that Marillier
would have given her. And as she pondered upon things which at various
times Marillier had said to her, and which had been fortifying and
elevating, there came to her a sense of inward strength and calm that
seemed almost an emanation from the dead man himself, as though he
were there in the room with her, influencing her very thoughts. She
fancied that it was that very influence which had enabled her to
exercise some control over her emotion, and which was now helping her
to quiet reflection, and to a certain acceptance of the situation,
without further qualms of fear for herself or for Caspar. A little
while before, she had been incapable of thinking for the best or of
deciding what she should do, and she had yet been afraid of allowing
Caspar's judgment to sway her against her own better counsel or what
would have been Marillier's advice. She was now able to weigh
different courses of action, and these resolved themselves into three.
The Paris scheme, at which she still shuddered, was mercifully
eliminated from the programme; but, putting that aside, she knew that
she must now either marry Caspar at once as he appeared to desire,
which might be detrimental to his own prospects, or she must go back
to the convent, which would mean separation from him for, at any rate,
some months; or--the other course which remained--she must find a home
in London, it might be with Nurse Dalison, till things were more
settled and her lover's future assured. This last seemed, on the
whole, the most feasible plan, and she half resolved to talk to Nurse
Dalison about it. It was clear that she could not long remain at the
Embassy, but, for the next few days at least--till Caspar should be
pronounced out of danger--there was no need for any decisive step. She
dreaded only that Caspar's pleading should, as it had done at their
last meeting, unnerve her and make her as straw in his hands, ready to
marry him against his own interests at a moment's notice if he so
wished. She determined not to be led away by the weakness of passion,
but, when the time came, to do that which was wisest and best for him.
Nothing could be decided till she saw Caspar again, and she would wait
that meeting, relying upon the thought of her dead friend's advice,
and upon the strength which, with the need, would, she knew, flow into

* * *

It was the day before Lucien Marillier's funeral, and Rachel sat alone
in her usual place in the inner drawing-room, upon her lap a little
chaplet of violets and white roses, which was to be laid in the dead
man's coffin. She had made the tiny wreath with her own hands, and had
woven into it her affection, her trust, her regret. It seemed so hard
that this man should be taken away in the very prime of his life and
in the midst of a career of usefulness; it seemed doubly hard that she
should lose the only man, with the exception, perhaps, of one or two
priests, upon whose goodness and honour she could absolutely rely. She
remembered the talk they had had upon the first occasion of their
speaking to each other, in which he had told her that to him creeds
and dogmas were but as so much mummery, and that he believed only in a
Force unknowable, but which was to him the source of knowledge and
strength. Could there, after all, be any better religion than that,
she thought, and was that Force, which he had called unknowable, at
last brought within his ken? Her musings were interrupted by the
entrance of Mr Heathcote. She had heard from Nurse Dalison that he had
been at the Embassy, and had sent a message begging him to come to
her. At first she had felt an impulsive desire to see the face of her
dead friend once again, and had wished to ask Heathcote if he would
take her to Harley Street, but before he came, she had decided that
the sight would be too painful. She remembered what she felt when
standing beside the coffin of the late Ambassador, how the marble mask
she then looked upon had not seemed to be 'Excellence,' but something
wholly strange and terrifying; something which she had not since been
able to forget. She resolved that she would have no such impression of
Marillier, but that she would hold him in remembrance always as she
had known him in life. Something of this kind she said now to
Heathcote, and he told her that it was well she felt so, that he could
not have advised her to follow her first impulse. When she asked if
there were anything painful in the sight, any trace of suffering on
the features, he hesitated, and then answered hurriedly,--'No, in
cases of heart failure the end is quick and there should be no pain.
He could not have suffered.'

'He looks peaceful?' she asked, the tears dropping from her eyes upon
the wreath, and lying like dewdrops on the violets.

Heathcote was touched. He himself felt sad and broken. Her sympathy
and her affection for Marillier were grateful to him.

'He is at peace,' the young man answered.

He then told her the arrangements for the funeral. By Doctor
Marillier's wish, expressed in a letter to his lawyer, everything was
to be done as quietly as possible. Lie had desired there should be no
guests, with the exception of his cousin Ruel Bey, who was now, of
course, unable to attend. Heathcote would therefore be the only
mourner. He told her also that Doctor Marillier had left him a legacy,
which was deeply gratifying to him as testifying to the regard his
friend had had for him.

'It's not the money, Mademoiselle Isdas, but to have been singled out
by the noblest man that ever lived--that's something to be glad of,'
said poor Heathcote, and the tears came into his eyes too as he spoke.
The rest of Marillier's property, he told Rachel, went to Ruel Bey,
who would now be a comparatively rich man, and the girl remembered
Lucien's words to her on the subject of her marriage with Caspar, and
how he had said that it lay in his power to facilitate it, and she
knew that he had considered her welfare as well as that of his cousin.

She gave the small chaplet to Heathcote, and begged him to lay it on
the dead man's breast. He took it from her with emotion, and, hardly
able to speak, pressed her hand, and departed. He had divined
something of Marillier's feelings for Rachel Isdas, and would have
been glad had his friend's love been requited. As it was, his heart
went out to the girl. He understood that she would have loved Lucien
Marillier had there been no Caspar; he felt for her; he pitied her.

It was somewhat of a relief to him, when she gave him the wreath, to
leave her presence, for he feared that she might ask some further
questions as to the appearance of the dead man. He did not want to
tell her, knowing how distressed she would be, that there was that in
Marillier's face which had shocked and horrified him so much that he
had not himself dared to look again upon the countenance which in life
had been so dear to him. Never had he seen upon any dead face the look
which was upon Marillier's, and in spite of his youth, Heathcote was
familiar with death. In most cases, even after great suffering, he had
noticed that there comes over the features of the dead an expression
of peace and nobility, in all, a look of rest and satisfaction, as
though the soul had not yet quitted its earthly tenement, but was only
sleeping. This face, however, gave the impression that the soul had
fled away in haste, it seemed almost in disgust. Indeed, one might
fancy that this inanimate shell had been built for the habitation of a
soul and that the soul had refused to possess it. It looked as though
it had never been human, or, if so, as though the spiritual element
had been so entirely withdrawn from it as to leave a mere wrinkled and
discarded envelope. The visage had contracted; everywhere it was
pinched and lessened. About the mouth were furrows which gave it an
unpleasant expression, while the brows were bent and the features
twisted, suggesting a struggle at the moment of dissolution not in
accordance with the usual medical theory. Marillier's young colleague
had shuddered at the sight of this dead face. He had so admired the
man, had so reverenced his great qualities, and it seemed to him only
fitting that now, when life was gone, the countenance should show an
unusual grandeur and serenity. It was therefore with a shrinking
reluctance that he entered the death-chamber in order that he might
fulfil Rachel's commission. He laid the wreath upon the dead man's
breast as she wished, and folded the stiff hands across it, so that he
seemed to be clasping it to his heart, where Heathcote knew that
Marillier would have desired Rachel's gift to lie.

Heathcote did not lift the face-cloth. He could not bear to look
again, but as he was leaving the room, some impulse made him turn
back, step fearfully to the side of the coffin, and lift a corner of
the covering. Then it seemed to him that the face had softened and
smoothed itself, and when he drew aside the cambric he found that this
was indeed the case. The features had settled into shape, the furrows
were not now deeply indented; the whole face had filled out, and
though still a soulless mask, it was peaceful, and no longer

He was thankful for the impulse which had brought him back, so that
his last impression of his friend might not be one of horror, and
kneeling by the side of the coffin--for Heathcote was young and had
not yet forgotten to pray as his mother had taught him--he commended
the spirit of Lucien Marillier to the Giver of Eternal Peace.


Marillier was rousing from his lethargy. After his altercation with
the doctors, when the fit of prostration had passed, the confusion of
his dual personality was overwhelming as he lay here in Ruel Bey's
bedchamber, surrounded by the objects which had made part of Ruel
Bey's life--the life of a man about town--of many towns, but which
were wholly foreign to his own tastes and pursuits. Then gradually,
the surging waves of double memory seemed to subside and the confusion
in his brain lessened. He could now think in more definite sequence--
could think as Marillier. It was true that the possession of Caspar's
temperament and constitution in some degree irked him. At moments, he
was galled by the pressure of unaccustomed physical limitations. At
others, the spring of animal enjoyment that had been so buoyant in
Caspar, brought him a feeling of strange pleasure in the mere fact of
living, and in the joy of earth and its bounties, to which, as the
student Marillier, he had been almost a stranger. Yet again at times,
so strongly did he realise himself as Marillier, in so shadowy a
fashion as Caspar, that he was obliged to look into the hand mirror
which to Nurse Dalison's amusement he insisted on keeping at his
bedside, in order to convince himself that he did not still occupy the
body that had been known as Lucien Marillier, and which was now laid
in the ground not far from that of the late Ambassador in Kensal Green
Cemetery. Then, when he looked in the glass, and there gazed back at
him the dark eyes of Ruel Bey, and he beheld the chiselled Greek
features of Caspar, refined by sickness to almost poetic beauty, he
would feel a thrill of satisfaction, even of triumph, in comparing
them with that grey wolf face with its steely eyes and hard features,
and with that ungainly form that had hitherto been the abode of his
spirit, and which of late he had so longed to exchange for the
splendour and charm of manhood which had won Rachel's love.

His desire had been granted him. He possessed now that glory of
manhood which had seemed to him so great a thing in the eyes of women.
And in gaining it, he seemed to have lost nothing of those
intellectual gifts on which he had formerly laid far the greater
store. He was still himself, Lucien Marillier, student, scientist,
retaining the peculiar qualities of his own individuality, although
weighted by certain material tendencies not agreeable to him, but
which by his knowledge of the physical nature of man, he was aware
that he might successfully combat. On the other hand he found himself
endowed with a perfection of form, a keen vitality which from his
boyhood he had vainly coveted; while more than this, and the very acme
of these gifts, he had, in this exchange of personalities, gained for
his own the woman he adored. And this in no sense of doubtfully
transferred affections, in no rivalry of persons; but given to him
heart--whole, pure, in deeper trust, in more assured love, with a
fuller measure indeed of all his own love could desire, than had ever
been bestowed upon the expelled Caspar.

It did not then occur to him that in driving forth the spirit of
Caspar he had committed a crime against Nature, a deadly wrong to a
fellow human being. What did that count in comparison with the saving
of Rachel from what must have been a marriage of bitter disillusion, a
life of long misery?

He was able in these two or three days of quietude and of slow
recovery of his faculties, to reason out the situation, to weigh its
practical bearings, and to decide more or less definitely how to meet
it. He, of course, realised that to Ruel Bey's reputation and
brilliant prospects as a diplomatist he now added Doctor Marillier's
fortune, and liberty to choose such a manner of life as might please
him. He also realised that it was impossible he could carry out
Caspar's diplomatic career, and that in self-preservation he must
before long resign his post. But this consideration did not for the
moment trouble him greatly: it was a mere detail in the whole. And
meanwhile, his illness gave him breathing space. At the back of his
mind, however, there was always an uneasy dread as to what might be
the attitude of the Emperor of Abaria when that potentate became aware
of his relationship to Mademoiselle Isdas. Would the Emperor sanction
his marriage with Rachel? And if not, what then? Abaria was a far
country, in another continent, where the life of even an English
subject would count for little. And Marillier reminded himself that he
was now not an English subject. He was no longer Lucien Marillier, but
Ruel Bey. At this very moment he lay in his bed under the Abarian flag
and in Abarian territory. He might expect at any hour an Imperial
mandate which he would be compelled to obey. Certainly the mission
confided to him by Isdas Pacha had been confided to him as Lucien
Marillier, but as Ruel Bey he must perform it. He must take the
Pacha's letter to the Emperor of Abaria, unless indeed he sent it by a
trustworthy messenger, and that would not have seemed to him the due
fulfilling of his contract. Who could say how far, in Abaria, the
person of an Abarian subject obnoxious to the Emperor would be safe
from harm? The Emperor was an absolute monarch. Death or imprisonment
might await the unfortunate envoy in the Abarian capital. In any case
there would be a strong probability of his separation from Rachel.
Then to what end this avatar? To what purpose the magic of the

He pondered these things as carefully as his weakened brain permitted,
comforting himself with the reflection that for the present, the
matter was In his own hands, and the Pacha's letter, secure in
Marillier's iron safe in Harley Street, was awaiting his recovery to
be dealt with by him as sole executor of the will he had made as
Lucien Marillier only a few weeks previously, and in which he
appointed Ruel Bey his heir and the administrator of his last behests.
Till the time came for action, he thought, he need only concern
himself with the restoration of his bodily strength, which would
enable him to arrange all things for the best. He did not know of the
duplicate letter entrusted by the Pacha on the night of his death to
Akbar. He did not know that already Akbar had started from Abaria with
the mandate of the Emperor. Marillier's heart was full of anticipation
of seeing Rachel again as soon as the doctors would allow him to rise
from his bed. Till then, all excitement was forbidden, and he could
only appease his longing by delicious foretastes, in fancy, of the joy
in store, by the remembrance of her sweet conformity to his wish at
their last interview, and by the imaginary pressure of her lips upon
his, a fancy which at times seemed almost a present actuality. He
lived over and over again in the memory of those blissful moments, in
the rapture of that embrace--the one vivid reality standing out from
the wild confusion of his fading senses which had been merged in the
long stupor of insensibility.

To the doctors he was now quietly submissive, and though Mr Ffolliott
had made notes of that strange awakening to consciousness and the
starting into action, as he believed, of latent brain impressions
unconsciously imbibed, the surgeon had no further ground for comment
upon this physiological and psychological phenomenon. Marillier was
quite aware that in order to hasten his recovery, he had better make
no more objections to the doctors' treatment, but keep still and trust
to Nature, the great healer, though he was in the mood in which he
would allow nothing to the credit of accepted methods. The doctors
were pleased. He was improving sooner than they had supposed likely,
and his response to their treatment was an argument in favour of their
previous position towards the Ambassador's case. The Lancet was
enriched by an article from Mr Ffolliott's pen, and by a letter from
Doctor Carus Spencer, both of which compositions added to the
reputation of those eminent specialists.

The day had come on which Marillier was allowed to see Rachel for the
first time since his collapse. He was dressed, and sitting up in a big
armchair by the fire, awaiting her arrival. The room, gaily decked
with flowers, had more the appearance of a sitting room than a
bedroom, a curtained alcove at one end containing the bed, while the
more spacious portion had a writing--table and sundry bits of rather
valuable furniture, the private property of Ruel Bey. A pair of prize
fencing foils, an arrangement of Eastern weapons, a collection of
Japanese ivories and Chinese snuff-bottles, and some photographs of
Parisian theatrical beauties adorned the walls. There was also a
bookcase filled with French novels. The photographs struck Marillier
disagreeably. He felt it a sort of insult to Rachel that her eyes
should be greeted by the pictures of women whom a man would not be
willing to introduce to his wife; he regretted that he had not noticed
them sooner, and resolved that as soon as possible, the photographs
should be taken down. He had a half idea of calling Nurse Dalison and
bidding her remove them, but he was too weak and uncertain in body and
brain even for this slight effort of will. Thoughts of various kinds
surged in his mind and afflicted him with nervous doubt, making him
fearful of happenings that he could hardly put into shape. The thought
of Rachel's connection with the Emperor of Abaria was uppermost, and a
vague wonder how far as an honourable man, bound by his knowledge of
that connection, he was justified in renewing his entreaty that she
would give him the legal right to protect her.

But the image of himself as her protector, and the blissful visions it
evoked of a future in which they could not be separated, turned the
course of his imaginings, soothed his tremors, and gave him a feeling
of warmth, of confidence in himself, and of returning will-force and
vitality. That sense of possession of her, of fate defied and
conquered had all through his illness been as a talisman towards his
recovery. Whenever he pictured her as his own, the joy of a wondrous
hope stirred in him, nay, more than a hope, a certainty. And this
stirring of his being, was not the mere natural pleasure in living
Which comes to the convalescent, investing the common place acts of
eating, drinking, moving, with flew satisfaction, and imparting a
fresh interest to ordinary sights, sounds and occupations; it was
something much keener and more thrilling, a new birth into a hitherto
unknown world of love and happiness which Rachel's kiss had been the

Intoxicated by this mental image of her, he lay back in an ecstasy of
anticipation, and all disturbing considerations were swept away in a
flood of rapture, to which, in his state of bodily weakness, reason
offered no resistance.

A gleam of wintry sunshine coming in through the curtained window,
seemed to unite with the redder glow of the fire and to bathe him in
warmth and joy. The scent of violets, and the faint odour from a vase
of pale tangled chrysanthemums arranged by Rachel herself, and sent by
her to him, pervaded the warm glow, and were as the breath of that
glorious new life she was bringing to him. He seemed to see in the sun
rays her soft, dark eyes, no longer with their indefinable expression
of melancholy, but beaming with happiness and heavenly tenderness. Was
she coming? Surely it was time; and was not that the distant fall of
her footstep in the corridor? A few moments now and the vision which
haunted his dreams, waking and sleeping, would stand before him in
flesh and blood reality.

Suddenly, through the glow and the sweetness, he became conscious of a
strange chill. It seemed to creep upwards from his feet to his heart,
and clutch him there as though something cold, clammy, and of evil
intent, had crawled up and put damp claws upon him. He shuddered and
shrank back in his chair, glancing uneasily about him, knowing that he
would see nothing, but with the dim feeling of a presence supernatural
and loathsome. He did his best to shake off the chill and the uncanny
foreboding, and bent closer to the fire, the heat from which he could
feel upon his hands and face, though it made no difference in the
clammy sensation within him. His medical understanding told him that
it was a passing faintness, the effect of unusual excitement and
exertion, and he put out his hand for a cordial Nurse Dalison had left
upon a table beside him. He swallowed the draught, and was comforted
by the fire of it, as it coursed through his veins. He leaned back
against the cushions with a gasp of relief, and his eyes turned to the
door by which he knew Rachel would enter.

And now again there came that horrible sensation of a presence near
him which it was impossible to analyse. He tried to combat it with his
reason. He looked deliberately across the intervening space between
his chair and the door, assuring himself that nothing was there but
the carpet, nothing but the portire stretched across the entrance,
tight against the door. He could see where the handle protruded at the
side beyond its folds, the catch of the lock, and the rim of felt
protecting the crack so that no air should enter. But though he knew
that the door was tightly closed he could have fancied that no solid
barrier existed, for the edge of the curtain stirred; the folds seemed
to ripple, and--strangest fancy of all--he had a conviction that
someone---something--stood there, barring the opening against Rachel's

He struggled with all his might against the supernatural dread--for he
felt that it was supernatural. Another draught of the cordial and his
nervous shivering was stilled; this, he told himself, was only the
weakness of an invalid, only the reaction from intense longing. What
force, dead or living, could now keep Rachel from him if he chose to
take her for his own, and to defy the only authority by which she
could be snatched away--that of her father, the Emperor of Abaria? As
for supernatural powers--those invisible agencies of which the Pacha
had talked to him--why should he fear them now? Had he not, by the
might of his love, proved himself their master? And even admitting
that gruesome possibility of the dead hand stretched forth to injure--
he laughed aloud quaveringly at the notion--he, Marillier, secure in
his occupation of the living body of Caspar, could have nothing to
fear from any wandering spirit banished justly to the world of shades.
It was absurd to suppose that a ghost could deprive him of Rachel's
love. That was his in very fact, inalienably, for he could never do
anything that would cause him to forfeit it; and in a few moments she
would be with him; her kiss would again have ratified his right. Of
her own free will she had given herself to him; she was coming
straight to his arms--to his heart. Nothing could hinder her--no one,
nothing. Besides, he told himself that there was nothing there; he
knew there was nothing; he repeated the words. Yet, all the same, the
curtain seemed to stir, the ghostly chill crept closer. He leaned
forward, his hands on the arms of his chair, his eyes nailed to the
door, waiting--he knew not for what. A footfall sounded. The handle
was turned very gently; the curtain swung slowly backward.

Marillier's heart leaped to his throat. The aperture of the door
widened, and there, on the threshold, stood Rachel, hesitating, yet
eager, timid, anxious, most graciously sweet.

She moved shyly forward. He tried to rise, but sank back, overcome by
weakness; and she, alarmed, put up her hand, forbidding him by an
imperative gesture. Marillier made no further attempt to get up, but
held out his arms as he sat, welcoming, beseeching. And, as he did so,
he was conscious of a distinct rush of cold between himself and the
girl; not a rush in the sense of a blast of air forcing its way in
from without, but a gliding something--a current moving within limits,
definite, and deathly chill.

Rachel also felt the icy breath; she shivered slightly and glanced
round, all anxiety for him, exclaiming that she ought not to have let
in the draught.

'I don't know where it can come from,' she said, not ill-pleased to
hide her agitation under a certain commonplace fussiness. 'We have
been so careful to keep the pipes in the corridor at an even

She went back and closed the door carefully. Then, seeing his arms
still extended, and fearful lest the least exertion should fatigue
him, she broke through conventional restraints, and pressed forward, a
wonderful lovelight shining in her eyes, her face tremulous with glad
emotion. She kneeled on the footstool at his feet, threw her own arms
up around his neck and was enfolded in his embrace, the two clasping
each other breast to breast. Now, all shyness gone, she lifted her
face to his and kissed him. For several minutes they remained thus
locked together; and, as he held her, warm, living, loving, to his
heart, the icy clutch seemed to drop away, and the grave--like
coldness to melt beneath this glow of life and happiness.

Presently she withdrew her arms and sat on the footstool, her hands in
his, her head against the arm of his chair, looking up at him with
something of the solicitude of a mother for her sick child. She would
not let him talk, but softly babbled, scarcely knowing what she said.

'Dearest, I mustn't tire you. I may only stay a short quarter of an
hour, and I must not let you excite yourself one little bit. So do not
speak. Just be still and listen to me. Oh, if you knew how many
promises I had to make before I could get leave to come to-day! I
could have managed Doctor Carus Spencer, who is a kind old thing in
his way, but it was that ogre Mr Ffolliott who was so difficult to
deal with. Is he married, do you know? Has he ever been in love? Can
he understand how it feels to have nearly lost the being you loved
best on earth, and then to know that he is only a few paces from you,
and to be forbidden to see him? No, I'm certain Mr Ffolliott could
never have been in love, unless it was with a skeleton. He talked of
"an abnormal condition of the brain." What does that mean? And of an
interesting physiological problem and of the danger of cerebral
excitement--all to prevent me from coming to you. Oh, my dear, can it
be dangerous to feel happy? Isn't it satisfying, soothing--altogether
beautiful to know that we are together again--we two; to know that
Fate hasn't dared to separate us, and that though death has been near,
and has tried to divide us, it was powerless to keep us apart?'

He snatched at her words.

'Yes, you are right. Death has been powerless--death shall be
powerless to separate us. Nothing, no one, on earth or in Purgatory
shall be able to hold us asunder.'

'Why do you say "in Purgatory" in that strange way? I did not think
you believed in Purgatory; you always said you did not. Ah! if
Excellence were here, he would not wish to part us; and your cousin
Lucien--oh, Caspar, I mourn him more and more everyday. He was too
good to remain in Purgatory; he has gone straight to heaven.'

'You think so, Rachel? You believe that Lucien Marillier was good?
Yes,' he added, not waiting for her to answer, 'there was one thing in
Lucien which was all good, and that was his love for you. And I too,
my dear, whatever evil may lie in my nature, and there has been, there
is much evil--be sure of this, that the one thing which uplifts and
redeems me, is my love for you. Trust in it, beloved. Never doubt its
unselfishness, its purity--no matter what appearance be against me.
Know--and this is very truth--that my love would always put your
honour, your happiness, far, far above its own joy. Tell me--tell me--
for I have not in the past justified your complete trust in me--tell
me that you believe this.'

'I do believe it, Caspar. I believe it now absolutely. I trust you
implicitly. I did not, I confess, quite trust you in time past. I was
afraid, a little afraid, dear. I was miserable that day after you left
me--that day before the Pacha's funeral--before Lucien died.' She
spoke haltingly, half in deprecation, her upraised eyes wet, but
shining with a beautiful confidence.

'Poor Lucien!' she went on sadly, and her face became graver. 'I can't
realise that he is dead. His presence and his influence seem to have
been with me all through these dreadful days, keeping me from breaking
down altogether.'

'He was with you,' said Marillier, solemnly.

'You believe that?' she answered wonderingly. 'I did not expect that
you would have the same feeling; and I am glad, for it has been so
strong in me. It's very strange. And there's something else, too, that
is strange,' she added. 'Dear, don't think I am fanciful, but it has
seemed to me that Lucien's spirit has affected you as well, that it
has made you more serious, more loving--in the best way of loving. You
say things sometimes so like what he would have said. It is as though
in dying, he had left you a part of his own nature--that steadfast
part which made me trust him as I did. It was that part--oh, Caspar, I
must say it--and don't mind, for the thought has passed now entirely--
it was that part of him I always wanted so to find in you.'

She paused, at once startled and reassured by the look in his face.

'Don't mind, dearest,' she repeated hastily, fearing that she had
wounded him. 'You mustn't mind, for now there could never come a
shadow of doubt over my love for you. And you mustn't think, either,
that I did not love you wholly then. I did, oh, I did love you. But
everything was different, in a curious way. I can't understand why.
Perhaps it is that death so near us and all this sorrow and illness
passing over us, have brought more of self-reliance and truer
knowledge to us both. Do you understand how I feel?'

He raised her hand passionately to his lips.

'Do I understand?' he exclaimed. 'Oh! pure, sweet soul, Heaven pardon
me that I ever failed in understanding. Do I not understand? Yes, to
the very core of me. Go on feeling like that, Rachel. It's what I most
fervently desire in you. Think of me, if you can, as having for you
all that you valued in Lucien, and all the man's passion fervent as
ever, which met and answered your tender love, in Caspar. I ask no
better blending, no surer guarantee of happiness in the years before
us.' Moved by his heartfelt sincerity, and even a little awed by it,
she could only silently caress his fingers, and lay them against her
cheek in a manner infinitely sweet and pathetic. She was a little
alarmed too by the quaver in his voice, for Nurse Dalison had so
impressed upon her that she must be careful not to agitate him. She
watched his face anxiously, every now and then pressing her hand upon
his forehead and drawing down her fingers over his temples in a
gentle, soothing movement. It felt to him like the touch of an angel,
counteracting that malignant unseen influence of which he was all--the
time vaguely conscious, and which seemed to be sapping away the
strength and chilling the warmth he had gained in their first long
embrace. He was too weak to talk much, but lay back with one arm upon
her shoulder, joying in the sight of her, and saying just a word here
and there, that made the harmony of their communion more perfect, if
that were possible. They spoke of the unity between them, spiritual
and physical, and in truth, never till now had she realised the bliss
of it. The cup of her happiness was filled by his presence; there were
no barriers; the two seemed absolutely one. He had no thought of
playing a part to her now; there was no need for him to simulate the
manner of Caspar, for in this wholly satisfying lover, she forgot the
Caspar she had known. As she yearned over him for his bodily weakness,
Rachel felt herself entranced more and more by those qualities she had
admired most in Marillier. She forgot too that time was passing; the
quarter of an hour had gone by, and they were still close together,
she at his feet, her arm around him, their left hands clasped, and he
drinking in her sweetness and drawing into his being the living warmth
of her affection. But now, through that warmth he experienced the
former sensation--at first slight, then increasing to troublous
uneasiness. He felt once more the same cold wind, this time blowing
upon their joined hands, and was aware again of that baleful
influence. She shivered, falling suddenly silent, and he felt the
shiver and her silence to be the confirmation of his own unexplained

'What is the matter?' he asked, longing for the sound of her voice,
yet half afraid of her answer.

She laughed nervously.

'I don't know. It's nothing--the kind of creepy feeling one gets when,
as they say, something is passing over one's grave. There really is a
draught; and yet I don't know where it can come from; the door is
tightly shut. I'll speak about having a thicker curtain.'

He glanced over her head at the door. He could see nothing, nothing
but the carpet and the folds of the curtain, and yet he knew that a
presence was there; he knew that again the portire was stirred as by
an invisible hand. This time the sensation became more definite. Icy
fingers seemed to clutch at his heart, sending the lifeblood from it,
and horror transfixed him, for the dreaded presence came nearer,
seeming to interpose between himself and the girl, who had
instinctively removed her arm, and was now less close to his side. He
felt as though she were being snatched away by that malignant thing;
her face seemed to recede, the lovelight in her eyes to grow dim. He
tried to put out his arms to draw her nearer, to thrust away the
supernatural enemy, but he could not move a limb; even his lips were
bound. With a great effort, he called her name twice in accents of
agony. 'Rachel! Rachel!'

She started, and rose, clasping him in her arms again, imploring him,
while she bent over him, to tell her if he were ill. With the
recovered sense of her nearness, the deadly clamminess became less
overpowering. He feebly gripped her arm, crying to her like a child
not to leave him, and then sank back, his form seeming to crumble
among the cushions. Thoroughly frightened, Rachel relinquished her
hold, though he half consciously strove to retain her. She ran to the
bell, and in a moment, Nurse Dalison, who had been on the watch
outside, appeared, calm, brisk, cheerful, her face and voice and
matter-of-fact ministrations changing the morbid atmosphere of the
room into one more healthy, and at once acting as a restorative to the
sick man.

'Don't be frightened, dear Rachel,' she said to the trembling girl.
'It is nothing but a little faintness--just what I expected. I was on
the point of coming in to tell you that you had overstayed your time.
He'll be all right presently.'

She stood before Marillier, fanning him, and giving him small doses of
brandy at intervals, till he came quite to himself, at first with a
slow shuddering, and then, a look of intense relief at sight of the
nurse's face and sound of her purring platitudes.

'Now I think you must go,' she said to Rachel. 'You had better not
excite him with another word. To-morrow, if he goes on all right, you
shall come again. I've got to reckon with Mr Ffolliott, remember, and
he has no sympathy with sentiment.'

Rachel, feeling guiltily that she had injured her lover, was moving
away miserably, but Marillier put out his hand and feebly called her
back, holding her for a moment or two by his side. The presence of the
nurse gave him strength and a feeling of protection. The third person
living seemed to have driven away the third person who was dead.

'I am so grieved,' Rachel cried. 'Forgive me, forgive me. It is my
fault. I ought to have left you sooner. I've done you harm.'

'No, not your fault,' he said faintly. 'You couldn't do me harm. Think
no more of this attack. I frightened you unnecessarily. I ought to
have learned by this time, what a first day of sitting up means, and
have fortified myself sooner against the faintness.'

'Really, Ruel Bey,' exclaimed Nurse Dalison, 'you talk as if you were
the doctor and not the patient. How should you have known that you
were almost certain to get faint the first day of sitting up? You
haven't been ill so many times. Now, Mademoiselle Isdas,' she added,
with mock severity, 'there mustn't be any more dallying. Leave him to
me and I'll get him back to bed. You shall come to-morrow.'

'Yes, to-morrow,' repeated Marillier, and drawing her down, he kissed
her. She lifted her face, all blushes, and went away glad. There could
be no secrecy now as to their mutual relation.

The nurse settled him back in bed, and would have left him to sleep,
but he made a pretext to detain her. He seemed to cling to her
companionship, to dislike being left alone, and she was a little
surprised at this weakness in one who had shown himself during his
illness so quietly superior to the whims of sickness. Yet it was very
evident that he was upset and nervous. His eyes moved uneasily hither
and thither. He was ashamed of the excuses he made to prevent her
going away, encouraging her to talk, pleading a fear lest the
faintness should return. She, wondering, humoured his fancy, though
she assured him that his pulse belied the fear. She was interested, a
little inquisitive, rallied him prettily on his agitation, and would
have insinuated herself into his confidence in regard to Rachel had
this been possible. But when she approached that subject he became


The effect on Marillier of this first meeting with Rachel, was so bad
that both Mr Ffolliott and Doctor Carus Spencer forbade him to see her
again for several days. Sympathetic Nurse Dalison pleaded sweetly for
the engaged pair, but the surgeon only snarled in reply.

'Ruel Bey will have plenty of opportunity to make love when his head
is cured,' said that inhuman person with a grim smile. 'In the
meanwhile he can give his heart a rest, and from all accounts I should
say that the organ needs repose.'

Doctor Carus Spencer stroked his short whiskers blandly.

'An emotional temperament, nurse; always the most difficult to deal
with in cases of this sort. I wouldn't starve it--quite--if I were
you, but act with discretion. I may trust you.'

Nurse Dalison responded gratefully.

'Yes, I am sure that I may trust you,' the doctor proceeded. 'I'm
interested myself in this little drama which I have watched from its
inception--though I never thought it would reach a practical climax.
Ruel Bey cannot be judged quite by our standards; he has all the
Southern fire and impressionability--outside diplomatic questions;
there, I should say, would come in the Southern astuteness. He's
impressionable where pretty women are concerned. God bless me! I've
watched him flirting dozens of times at evening parties and dinner-
tables and country houses--a different lady on each occasion, and each
attachment apparently more serious than the last. Yet here is Ruel Bey
a bachelor still.'

'I don't think that he will remain a bachelor very long, doctor, if he
gets well,' said Nurse Dalison.

'If he gets well? Why, of course he will get well. We have a chance
this time; we hadn't with the poor old Pacha, who must have been
hypnotised by the Medicine Moor and our talented but somewhat
eccentric friend, Doctor Marillier.'

Nurse Dalison coloured slightly and looked down, checking the impulse,
which prudence forbade, to flare out in defence of Marillier. She
played with the scissors hanging on her apron, and remarked only,--
'Ruel Bey is very seriously in earnest this time, doctor.'

'Well, I am glad to hear it. She is a charming girl. Something of a
mystery though. It's odd the Ambassador didn't leave her his money. I
never should have expected that Ruel Bey would marry a penniless girl;
I thought he had too keen an eye to social advantages.

'Love works wonders, doctor,' said Nurse Dalison. 'Besides, I
understand that Ruel Bey has inherited everything Doctor Marillier had
to leave; and that must have been a good deal.'

'Ah!' Doctor Carus Spencer pricked up his ears. 'I should hardly have
thought so: he had only lately come into fashion. However, that has
nothing to do with our patient, nurse. You understand the position?'

'Perfectly. I may allow him to see Mademoiselle Isdas after a day or
two. He will only worry if he doesn't.'

'True. Yes, he may see her--only see her, mind. No rhapsodies or
raptures. Remember, I trust to your discretion.'

Nurse Dalison conveyed the substance of the doctor's remarks to
Rachel, who took them to heart, and unselfishly refused the proffered
indulgence. She would not come near the door of the sickroom lest her
lover should be agitated by the sound of her voice or her footstep.
Even when he got better and was allowed to be visited by Ahmed Bey and
the other secretaries, she would not break her self-enforced rule of

'No, no,' she said, 'I can't run the risk of hurting him again. We are
not'--she blushed and faltered--'we haven't been engaged long enough
for it to seem quite matter-of-fact and natural; there's so much to
think of--so many plans he would want to talk over, and he is not fit
for it. Ahmed Bey doesn't appeal to his emotional side,' she added,
with a little laugh, 'and I daresay it won't harm him to hear what is
going on in the Chancellery. But I am different. And, besides, I don't
mind waiting now that I have seen him--now that I know--' she stopped

'Now that you know?' questioned Nurse Dalison, archly. 'Surely there
could never have been any room for doubt.'

'Of what?' asked Rachel, a note of proud rebuke in her voice.

But Nurse Dalison, in spite of her tact, was sometimes a little

'Ah! my dear,' she returned, 'nurses often see deeper below the
surface than the doctors or even the patient's relatives imagine.
Perhaps it's because I am so intensely human, but I can't help feeling
with my patients as well as for them. I have been here a long time,
you know, and I haven't been able to help reading something of the
situation. It has unfolded itself to me like the acts of a play, and I
have cared--really cared--immensely. I have so wanted my fairy prince
and princess to be happy. So you must remember that, and forgive me if
I seem sometimes perhaps, a little intrusive.'

The girl's heart melted. She could only show her gratitude.

'Now, if I may say so,' continued Nurse Dalison, 'it has always been
my opinion that there are three Ruel Beys--the clever Ruel Bey of the
Chancellery, the rather worldly Ruel Bey of drawing-rooms, and yet
another Ruel Bey, whom I have only learned to know in the sickroom,
and who has no ambition in the world but to be happy with the girl he
loves. The three Ruel Beys may have clashed occasionally, but there is
only one which is strong and real, and that is my patient.'

In spite of her sensitive pride, Rachel was pleased at the nurse's
words. So others had observed what was evident to her. Sickness, which
had brought him face to face with the true realities of life, making
him recognise the value of her love in his scheme of existence, had
certainly wrought a great change in the once worldly and ambitious
first secretary. Nor were Nurse Dalison and Mademoiselle Isdas the
only persons in the Embassy who had become aware of this fact. Various
points in the demeanour of Ruel Bey puzzled his colleagues in the
Chancellery and the members of the household.

Though he was still considered an invalid, it shortly became
understood that all danger was past, and that before very long, the
first secretary would be able to resume, at least in part, the duties
of his position. The doctors, who had now ceased from daily visits,
gave a qualified consent to his being consulted on any diplomatic
matter with which he had been familiar, provided that his brain were
not too severely taxed. Many small questions arose, which a few words
of elucidation from him would have sufficed to settle, a mere picking
up of threads that he had been handling before the accident, and of
which he alone knew the exact significance. The old Ruel Bey would
have been eager to gather up the threads, for however selfish and
indolent he might in some ways have been, the first secretary would
never have allowed a question of mere personal inconvenience to
interfere with opportunities of showing himself proficient in his
work. It had been his habit to perform more, rather than less, of the
duties required, and he had taken as much as he could of the burden of
affairs off the late Ambassador's shoulders, in order, it was
supposed, that he might prove his own competency for the post when it
should have become vacant. In this manner he had created a great
difference between himself and the other secretaries; and Ahmed Bey,
notwithstanding his self-confidence, often felt himself at a loss in
filling the place of so able a predecessor. Now, all were astonished
at the obvious shrinking of the first secretary from the idea of work
and responsibility, and at his apparent lack of interest in all the
political complications he had formerly delighted in unravelling. For
the hour, however, this was of no great consequence. The Ambassador's
death had made a lull pending the appointment of his successor. There
were as yet no instructions from Abaria, and this delay gave support
to the rumour of Ruel Bey's probable promotion. Nothing could be done,
of course, while he was still incapable, or considered himself so, and
Ahmed Bey was, on the whole, well pleased to enjoy for a longer term
his temporary importance.

Another new trait in the sick man was remarked upon by the household;
this was his persistent refusal to see people who called, especially
certain men friends who pressed for permission---granted by the
doctors--to go up and while away with their talk the tedium of
convalescence. It was so unlike the former Ruel Bey, who had enjoyed
the society of men like himself and their gossip of clubs and
theatres, as well as the attentions of charming young matrons in whose
houses he had been a sort of tame cat, and who had been accustomed to
fuss over him, bringing him flowers and fruit and gay sentimentality
on the one or two occasions in the past, when influenza or a sprained
ankle kept him in the house. Now he declined to see any visitors,
seemed totally indifferent to his old companions, and even in some
cases to have forgotten their names. The only persons he saw were
Heathcote and Mr Camperdowne, his lawyer--the lawyer, be it
understood, of Doctor Marillier--from whom he received much
information of which he was already well aware, concerning stock,
shares, and landed property making up the fortune he had bequeathed to
Ruel Bey. These details he cut short, laying more stress upon what he
wished to have done in the future than upon what had been done in the
past. He satisfied himself that his wishes were being carried out for
the present, making particular inquiries as to the Pacha's legacy of
curiosities, and desiring that the mandrake in its golden box as well
as his other personal belongings should remain, so far as the valuers
for probate would permit, as he had left them at the time of his
physical death. To be spiritually alive and to be physically dead, so
far as his former personality was concerned, was now Marillier's
strange case.

Mr Camperdowne expressed surprise at the accuracy of his knowledge in
these respects, but accounted for it, as the doctors had done in
regard to his familiarity with medical details, on the ground of
extreme intimacy between the cousins. The lawyer, not previously
acquainted with Ruel Bey, had expected to find someone quite different
from the quiet, reticent man who gravely conversed with him. He
departed, wondering vaguely about his new client, and haunted in a
curious fashion by echoes of something already known to him but which
he could neither define nor explain; while Marillier, as the door
closed behind the man of law, heaved a sigh of satisfaction in the
thought that here he had no need to consider his part carefully, and
feeling certain that he had duly maintained it.

Not so in the interview with Heathcote. In his desire to see his
friend, Marillier had not calculated how trying would be the
situation. Here it was so fatally easy to lapse into the old manner of
talk, especially when discussing the nature of the operation he had
undergone, his treatment at the hands of Ffolliott and Carus Spencer,
and certain familiar topics of their former everyday life. He found it
difficult to avoid asking questions as to the patients he had left,
and the scientific experiments in which they had been engaged
together, and was obliged to pull himself up every now and then,
remembering that Caspar would have cared nothing for these things. At
such times he would notice an expression of deep perplexity and pain
pass over Heathcote's features. Nor was it easy for him to hide his
feelings when Heathcote spoke of his gratitude to Marillier and of his
appreciation of the man's noble qualities. He did not scruple in
showing to Marillier's cousin, the sharer, as he thought, in his loss
and devotion, that which his reticence and a sense of fitness would
have forbidden him to show Marillier himself. This was more than the
sick man could bear; he was obliged to plead weakness and say good-bye
to his old friend, resolving within himself that he must in future
avoid any serious talk with the young doctor.

He was now so much better after the relapse that there seemed no
reason why Rachel should not yield to Nurse Dalison's persuasion,
fortified by permission of Doctor Carus Spencer, and see her lover for
a few minutes each day; she would not allow herself more than this,
and even begged Nurse Dalison to remain present, in order that neither
he nor herself should be tempted to a renewal of their first emotional
interview. Their intercourse, therefore, was for a little time purely
conventional, though very sweet and tender, and the gladdening
influence of that brief visit in which she would scarcely sit down,
but would bring him the flowers she had arranged herself, disposing
them about his room and chatting cheerily over the little incidents of
her daily life, remained with him like an afterglow, till it was
renewed on the morrow. Nevertheless, he did not attempt to combat this
attitude of hers, nor did he show any desire that Nurse Dalison should
relieve them of her company. There was always in his mind a vague
terror of that supernatural presence whenever Rachel approached him
more intimately, for it was at such moments that it affected him.
Sometimes, when Nurse Dalison busied herself in the alcove, and Rachel
drew near to caress his hand or drop a light kiss upon his brow, he
became sensible of that strange chill in the air--that icy breath
intervening between them. It was not strong enough again, however, for
him to be definitely alarmed by it, and when the sun shone, the fire
glowed, and the sweet scent of Rachel's flowers pervaded the room,
when Nurse Dalison's pleasant platitudes and cheerful ministrations
made an atmosphere of ordinary life around him, then he laughed at the
gruesome fancy and assured himself that, as soon as his nerves had
regained their balance, it would depart from him for ever. In spite of
that, he never-cared for Nurse Dalison to be too long away from him,
fore did he encourage her amiable efforts at self-effacement during
Rachel's visits--at which she inwardly wondered.

An incident happened in these later days of his convalescence which
disturbed Marillier considerably, and made him realise that he had set
himself a more difficult part than he was able to play. He had
contrived so far, to shake off any attempts of the secretaries to draw
him into diplomatic business, declining to discuss such matters on the
plea that his head was still confused, that he doubted his power of
clear judgment, that he was sure Ahmed Bey could manage perfectly with
no interference from him, and that in fact, he would much rather not
be worried about the Chancellery affairs. This supineness did not
altogether please the doctors, who had remarked the curious broodiness
that had come over him, so greatly in contrast to the active
temperament of the first secretary in so far as his diplomatic career
was concerned, and they rather urged the other secretaries to do what
they could to rouse his attention and dispel the tendency to listless
musing; for in these days Marillier neither read or wrote, but would
lie back in his chair all day as though in a sort of opium dream.

The incident which did at last rouse him after a fashion, related to
that unquiet possession of the Emperor of Abaria, formerly a subject
of diplomatic difficulty, and where a massacre of Christians had now
again embroiled this Eastern potentate with the European Powers. An
unexpected development had caused trouble, and the previous
negotiations having been conducted principally by Ruel Bey, whose
former residence in that territory made him peculiarly competent to
deal with the matter, it was natural that an important despatch
concerning it should now be brought to him.

Ahmed Bey was not willing to consult his chief, being convinced that
his own inspiration was correct; but he was overpowered by the advice
of the undersecretaries, who, afraid of making a mistake, thought it
wiser to lay the responsibility on the first secretary. So somewhat to
his chagrin, yet with a certain inward relief, Ahmed Bey took the
document to the invalid's room and asked his counsel. In the ordinary
course of things Ruel Bey would have clearly seen how to deal with the
emergency, would have cited precedents, disentangled complications
with a lawyer-like acumen, and would finally have prepared a draft and
signed the despatch. But to Ahmed's surprise, though Mr Ffolliott had
pronounced his patient physically equal to any such exertion, provided
that prudence were exercised, Marillier only shook his head, would
hardly glance at the papers--with the bearings of which he was, of
course, entirely unacquainted--and professed himself quite unequal to
the strain. Ahmed Bey propounded his own view of the case in some
trepidation, for he had an unpleasant inward conviction that Ruel Bey,
in his former clear grasp of things, would have controverted it. His
wordy explanation appeared, however, to make no impression on the
first secretary, who waved it wearily away, remarking that Ahmed's
solution of the difficulty seemed as good as any he could suggest. The
little man went off wondering, but still more inflated with conceit;
while Marillier, left alone, reflected that he must lose no time in
sending in his resignation. The position was already becoming
untenable; difficulties presented themselves on every side, not the
least part of these, being his own hesitation as to the course he
should pursue in respect to the mission confided to him by the late
Ambassador, and his dislike to commit himself to an irrevocable step
till he had made Rachel his own, or had at least obtained the
Emperor's consent to marry her.

For three days he thought the matter over, and then-made up his mind.
He knew that the step was really compulsory upon him, both as a man of
honour and for practical reasons. He determined to make known to the
Emperor as soon as possible the Pacha's trust. As Marillier he could
not, of course, do this, but as Ruel Bey, it would naturally have
devolved upon him with his possession of the documents found in
Marillier's safe. But were he to go to Abaria as the Emperor's
subject--this in any case he must be--and as holding a high diplomatic
post in the Emperor's service, the danger to himself must necessarily
be increased. In calculating the danger, he was thinking not only of
himself but of Rachel, whose happiness and security were involved in
his own; for himself deprived of her, he cared nothing, but in order
to ensure her safety as far as might be, it was best that he should
shield himself from the Emperor's antagonism by withdrawing from his
service, and so avoiding a possible official pretext for his disgrace.

When his mind was made up, the dreaminess passed, and Nurse Dalison
took heart from his request that he might be allowed to move into the
sitting-room of the Embassy. She had become a little concerned at his
inertness, which did not seem healthy or natural now that he was able
to walk about unassisted. She was glad, too, for Rachel's sake, for
she had divined that the girl was uneasy also, and anxious for
something to be decided about her own future. Though in her own mind
she had planned out a course of action, and had, to a certain extent,
taken Nurse Dalison into her confidence, Rachel did not feel able to
start upon it till she knew fully her lover's wishes, which could only
be when their intercourse was once more unrestrained by the irksome
limitations of the sickroom. These had thrown her back somewhat upon
her attitude towards the old Caspar, and she was more than ever
resolved that she would give his nature free play, and allow him every
opportunity for reverting to the prudential considerations that had
once ruled him so firmly. Which Caspar, she wondered within herself,
was the real, the permanent one? She remembered Nurse Dalison's words
about the three Ruel Beys. Would the Ruel Bey of the sickroom, the man
she had come to love and admire with equal intensity, have,
disappeared to give place to the Ruel Bey of the Chancellery? So it
was in a mood of mingled joy and fear and hope that she received Nurse
Dalison's communication that her lover was up and installed in the
reception-room, where, during the Pacha's time, they had so often sat
together, and where she had been used to give him and Doctor Marillier
their afternoon tea.


The room looked a little dreary, thought Rachel, though she had that
morning decorated it herself with some flowers which had arrived from
the Riviera. The sheaves of purple and pink anemones made her think of
Lucien Marillier and the talk they had once had over the flower dolls
she was dressing, and it seemed to her as though this man with whom
she had come to talk, held them also in affectionate association, for
he had drawn a bowl full of the flowers close beside him where he sat,
and one hand was straying-tenderly over the blossoms. The expression
of his face stirred sympathetic chords within her.

The windows looking upon the square were closed; the fire blazed
brightly. It was a foggy day; the velvet curtains were drawn, and the
shaded electric light made a gentle glow over the room. One, just
above the portrait of the Emperor of Abaria, illuminated that
monarch's face and gave life to its almond-shaped eyes and its weary

Marillier was in his armchair by the fire, but he sat in it no longer
in the attitude of an invalid. When Rachel entered, he came forward to
meet her, and taking both her hands in his, drew her close to him and
kissed her. He did not, however, hold her long in his embrace, and he
shivered slightly as he released her. She fancied that his manner
seemed a shade more formal, but she would not allow her own to be
influenced by the impression.

'Come,' she said, leading him back to his chair, 'I don't mean to let
you stand up and do rash things, though Nurse Dalison says that you
are determined not to play the invalid any longer. Let me sit here
beside you in the way I like, and we will talk--talk. Oh! I am hungry
for talk, Caspar, after this long starvation, and I have so much to
say to you.'

'I, too, have much to say to you. The time has come, Rachel, in which
we must face our future and decide how to act.'

'Yes,' she answered simply. His words sounded to her sensitive ear a
little cold, a little measured. But she did not know in what firm grip
he was obliged to hold himself, for he dreaded an involuntary betrayal
of weakness, a quiver of his voice, the faltering of an accent. He
dreaded lest his eager longing should burst bonds and he should be
tempted to take from her, moved as she would be by the force of his
emotion, that which honour forbade him to ask, and which he was
resolved she should give only of her own unbiassed will. He dared not
let her see how much he cared; he dared not appeal to her feelings--
dared not hold her to her impulsive promise that she would be his when
he desired her. That, he now felt, would not be worthy of an
honourable man; it would be taking advantage of her ignorance, of her
dependence upon him. He had no right to bind her under conditions of
which she was wholly unaware. He had no right to marry her as Rachel
Isdas when he knew--and he only in the world--that she was the
daughter of the Emperor of Abaria.

'Tell me,' he said; 'you must have thought over the question of our
marriage in this time since our last meeting--I don't call those
glimpses and snatches of talk that we have had lately, meetings.
Perhaps I should say since the day of my accident when we spoke
seriously of this matter--the day of the Pacha's funeral. Tell me,
Rachel--you must have come to some conclusion--what is your decision?'

'I thought,' she said a little stiffly, 'that the decision rested
mainly with you--at least you used to make me feel so.'

'That is in the past,' he answered; 'the past which you have blotted
away and forgiven, the past when I was not worthy of your love and
your trust.'

She was touched, but only half convinced; she again remembered Nurse
Dalison's words.

'People often change when they are ill,' she said, 'and then go back
to their old ways of thought. And even if those are changed the
conditions of life remain the same. You have...I have your prospects
still to consider, and you always told me they would be endangered if
you married me at once.'

'I beseech you, leave my prospects out of the question. Believe me
that it is of you I am thinking, not of them. I cannot explain myself
now; some day you will understand.'

'I do understand, Caspar,' she answered gently.

'No, you do not. You cannot; and it is impossible for me to explain.'

'I understand you,' she said. 'I love you, and nothing else matters.'

'Nothing else matters!' he repeated. 'And yet everything matters.
Rachel,' he went on, with a certain desperate calm, 'do you not see
that I cannot urge you--that I ought not to urge you?

He was a little wounded by her tone in spite of her assurance of love,
and he felt intuitively that she was wounded too by a restraint in him
for which his passionate protestations, a short while back, had not
prepared her. But he could not do anything to heal the slight hurt,
for then restraint would be broken down and he would be no longer
master of himself, no longer able to guard her against his own desire.
'Do you not see,' he said, 'that it would be wrong of me to persuade
you into a hurried marriage which you might afterwards regret. I
cannot take advantage of a few wild words uttered in a moment of
stress and pain. I must not press you. I dare not...'

The girl's doubts surged back, and yet were belied by the shake in his
voice, the look on his face and the longing in his eyes. She was torn
and puzzled, and she too felt that the only safety for him and for
herself lay in reticence. All the time, though she had harked back
upon her old attitude towards her lover, as she believed he had to
her, she knew in the depths of her consciousness that this was not
really the old Caspar, the light wooer who had not hesitated to place
her love and his worldly interests in the scale together, allowing
prudence to outweigh his love. No, this man was not that Caspar. She
knew it in her heart, and that heart leaped to him, as his to her.
Nevertheless, a chasm lay between them which neither could cross; it
was a gulf of misunderstanding, of mutually mistaken self-sacrifice.
Had he taken her in his arms and made her certain of the strength and
unselfishness of his love, the gulf must have been bridged and the
love would have risen paramount to every other consideration. Deep
down, he and she knew this, and maybe, each knew that the other knew
it, and that fact prevented either from making an advance.

There was a pause, to him an agony, in which with head downcast she
slowly moved her fingers along the arm of his chair, not venturing to
touch his hand, and he did not dare to take hers. At last she said
gently, but with a firmness he had scarcely expected from Rachel,--
'You are right, Caspar. It is for me to make the decision, and I have
done so. I have thought a good deal over things these last days, and
have made up my mind to what I feel is the wisest course. It would be
a mistake, I am sure, to rush into marriage. I am going to stay in
England with Nurse Dalison--to leave this house as soon as possible,
for you know I ought to have gone away from it before now. I have
talked to her about my plans and she is quite willing to live with me
for a time.'

He gave an exclamation of dismay or disapproval, she could not tell
which, but she spoke on hurriedly.

'Don't say it won't do. The thing is quite simple, and I am sure it is
what Doctor Marillier would have approved of. He knew Nurse Dalison
well, remember, and trusted her. She is very glad to come to me, and I
like her better than anyone else I could have. We will go into
lodgings or take a small house. Yes, I know what you are thinking,' as
he again made a gesture to stop her. 'You think I have no money. But I
never told you that the Pacha gave me a great deal of money the night
he died--two thousand pounds in English notes. And he gave me, too--
but never mind, I will tell you about that another time.'

He knew what was in her mind. She had glanced unconsciously at the
curious emerald ring upon her finger that the Pacha had shown him--the
talisman which was to win her father's regard, and of which she had
hardly thought seriously since it had been in her possession, so many
more weighty matters had occupied her. And, indeed, the idea of her
father in the background of her mind seemed shadowy, almost mythical;
and she sometimes asked herself 'whether, in those last hours of his
life, the Pacha had been in full exercise of his faculties, or
whether, as is often the case with old people near the end, he had not
deluded himself with the fancy that a dead man was still living.

Marillier had already recognised the ring on her finger, and wondered
how much the Pacha had told her concerning it. Clearly, not the truth,
he gleaned from her manner. He did not question her now, but only
said, keeping himself heavily in check and speaking in almost
colourless tones, 'I don't want to make objections. I think with you
that Nurse Dalison is the best companion you can have at present, and
that the plan is in many respects a good one, since at any hour now,
you may have to leave the Embassy. It is strange that there is no news
yet of the appointment of an ambassador. But, my dear, you can't be
surprised that I am looking beyond the present, and that I am asking
inwardly how long you intend this state of things to last. You are my
promised wife, and I cannot let you go far, or wait indefinitely to
claim you.'

'I will be your wife, Caspar, and come to you with all my heart, when
there's no danger of my--injuring your prospects. I'll marry you as
soon as ever you have received another appointment from the Emperor,
which you have told me is what you 'wish and are waiting for. You have
said it could not be long in coming.'

He was silent, seized by a gloomy presentiment.

'It cannot be long in coming, Caspar?' she asked again.

'I am afraid it will be very long in coming,' he answered. 'Indeed, I
think it more than likely that I shall never receive another
appointment from the Emperor.'

'Oh, Caspar, what do you mean? Is it because of our engagement? Has
that made him angry? Oh! if it is so, I shall never forgive myself for
letting it be known.'

'Foolish child!' he said, trying to soothe her quick-starting fear,
yet knowing that he was only playing with words in order to gain time;
'how should the Emperor have heard of our engagement? You don't
suppose that Ahmed Bey has mentioned it in the despatches?'

'I can't tell. I feel bewildered. Everything seems possible.
Excellence could not have written---he did not know; you had never
spoken to him. And if the Emperor did know, why should he mind? I have
never been able to understand your difficulty, Caspar, especially now
that I have a little money'---to poor Rachel's simple mind two
thousand pounds seemed inexhaustible. 'They tell me that you will be
rich now that you have inherited Doctor Marillier's fortune,' she went
on. 'Caspar, you are hiding something from me. Have you offended the

'I have not yet offended the Emperor,' he replied, 'and I hope that I
may not do so; yet I ought to tell you that it is extremely possible.'

'But why--why?' she exclaimed. 'My poor Caspar, what have you done?'

'I have done nothing, so far.'

'Then why do you say it is extremely possible that you may offend the
Emperor? In what way?'

'My dearest, I can't tell you that now. It concerns a mission that I
have undertaken to the Emperor, and which is a private matter.'

She concluded that the mission was of a diplomatic nature--a secret of
the Chancellery--and asked no further concerning it. But suddenly it
flashed across her that-the mission might oblige him to leave her, and
she said anxiously, but in a quiet voice,---

'Does this mean that you must go to Abaria?'

'Yes,' he replied; 'it probably means that I must go to Abaria.'

'Will it be for long?' she asked, and her quietude irritated his over-
strained nerves.

'I don't know. I trust not. But all is uncertain. I have told you that
this is a private matter which I cannot discuss as yet.'

He spoke almost harshly, so severely was he wrung, and his tone hurt
her. The girl's heart was sore and sad; her fortitude gave way, though
outwardly she remained calm. Why was he so unlike himself, so
different from either the old Caspar or the new man whom she had come
to love so much more intensely? Why was he so self-contained, so cold;
his voice so unemotional, as if he were repeating a lesson he had
learned by rote? Could he not see that she was curbing herself only
for his sake? Could he not hear her soul crying out to him to take
her, to hold her, not to believe in the sincerity of her high-minded
resolves? Was he so stupid as not to know that they would melt like
snow under such a torrent of fiery entreaty as he had poured upon her
when she had flung herself upon his breast, and had vowed to be his
whenever and wherever he should claim her? She drew her hand away from
his, and turned her face to the fire, slow tears gathering in her eyes
and making a sparkling mist before them.

Had she looked at him then, she would have seen the anguish in his
face, and would have realised that he too was tortured and torn by his
passion and his sense of honour battling with each other. His duty to
her; his duty to the Emperor; his duty to Isdas Pacha, who was dead
and who had trusted him--all these considerations held him back, but
they mixed with other motives of different kinds, pulling him
sideways, other feelings, other conclusions, that he had worked out of
the tangle of thought which had led him tortuously to his
determination. It had at first been almost a relief to him to hear
Rachel's decision delivered with such self-possession, for he had
dreaded the temptation he was obliged to fight. Of her love he was
certain, and if all went well the delay would not deprive him of his
prize, but rather assure it. Here in England, still free, she would be
safer than if he were to marry her at once and take her or not take
her to Abaria. For in resolving upon his resignation he had mastered
the impulse to suppress the Pacha's letter and so altogether evade the
trust. That, he told himself, would be an act unworthy of an
honourable man. Yet he knew--so great was his weakness, so strong his
desire--that had Rachel by word or manner contested the point, he
would have flung honour to the winds, and would have married her
gladly, salving his conscience by the plea that he was thus protecting
her from a life that had driven her mother to desperation.

Rachel in the Abarian seraglio! He shuddered at the suggestion. Then
his eyes fell again upon the emerald with its engraved legend, and he
remembered how the Pacha had told him that this ring was a pledge from
the Emperor to his wife, that he would grant any request of hers not
involving their separation. But had Rachel O'Hara's flight from the
Imperial harem made the promise null and void? Would the Emperor still
hold himself in honour bound? Isdas Pacha had believed so. Till the
last, Isdas held firm faith in his master's loyalty to the dead woman
they had both loved. Isdas had said that the Emperor would be true to
his oath. Marillier glanced over his shoulder at the portrait which,
in his fancy, dominated the scene and the situation. Yes, there was
something in the refined yet firm lines of that high-bred Eastern face
which confirmed the Pacha's trust and his own hope.

But there again floated through his mind all that he had heard and
read of harem intrigues, of Abarian treachery, of the slow but certain
demoralisation of a nature which, twenty-five years ago, might have
cherished nobler ideals and finer affections, but which' was now, in
European estimation, typical of everything that could be opposed to
clean European morals, so that the name of the Emperor of Abaria was
but another word for Oriental sensualism, Oriental tyranny, Oriental
revenge. A groan burst from Marillier; he was hardly conscious of
having uttered the sound, but it fell on Rachel like a lash, punishing
her, as she thought, for not having considered his weak physical
state. She started, turning to him in self-reproach and fear, in which
she was confirmed by the deadly pallor of his face, the pain on his
drawn features, and the beads of moisture upon his forehead. All her
womanly tenderness was roused. She kneeled by him, wiping the damp
from his brow with her little gossamer handkerchief and kissing the
place where it had lain. She gave him brandy and smelling-salts, and,
after a few moments, restored him from what she believed an attack of
the same kind of faintness which had overcome him before, when he had
allowed his emotion to get the better of him. Even when he assured her
that he was better, that he was quite well, that he had no pain--how
could he describe his mental torture?--she hung over him breathing
sweet solicitude, love in every look and gesture, till he could no
longer restrain the passion which was tearing him, but caught her to
his breast and held her locked as before within his arms, heart
against heart, her lips upon his.

She could no longer doubt his love. It filled her being, it comforted
her. Presently the arms unlocked; he held her a little away from him,
his eyes gazed fatefully into hers where renewed faith shone as the
sun at noonday. But in his eyes was a sadness--which frightened her.

'I love you! I love you!' she cried. 'Tell me why you look so

'Because I must leave you,' he answered. 'Because my very soul shrinks
from the parting. Because I have a terrible dread that in going away
from you, I may be cutting off from myself the power of return.'

'Caspar, must you go?'

'Beloved, I must do, my duty.'

'Your duty! To the Emperor?'

'In part,' he answered; 'not wholly.'

'To whom then?'

'To Isdas Pacha, and to you.'

'To me? How can I be concerned with a State mission--with the Emperor
of Abaria?'

'Do not ask me, Rachel. I cannot tell you now.'

'Caspar,' she cried, 'you frighten me; you bewilder me. I have nothing
to do with the Emperor, nor he with me. I am an English subject--a
French--an Avaranese subject--what does it matter? but not one of the
Emperor of Abaria. Excellence was an Abarian subject only because he
served the Emperor; and I--I am of his blood, of his nationality,
therefore of his race; and that was not the Abarian race--merciful
Heaven be thanked for it. If there be any question of money--of
inheritance--Nurse Dalison told me of the talk about Excellence's
will--if in that way I am at the Emperor's mercy, then I willingly
renounce anything he could give me. Money is nothing to me--besides, I
have plenty. It should be nothing to you; you have enough without it.
Caspar, tell me that you would not let the question of money weigh
against our love?' 'I could not. It would be nothing in comparison.
There is no question of money.'

'Then where lies your duty to me, since I bid you sacrifice it and
stay? As for Isdas Pacha, I don't know what he required of you, but
he could never have asked of you what would do me harm, and, if so,
you had a right to refuse it. Excellence is dead, Caspar, and V am
living, and even if Excellence were alive I should have the right to
choose for myself--I am no child; I am of age. I will not believe that
Excellence would have done me an injury, however hardly he felt
towards me in life. I know that at the last he wished me to be happy.'

'That is true,' Marillier replied mechanically; 'he wished you to be

'So there remains nothing but your duty to the Emperor--your duty as
an Abarian official. That's what it comes to. You would owe none if
you were not the Emperor's paid servant. Why continue to be his
servant, Caspar, if it involves danger of losing me? Am I not worth
more to you than the Emperor's favour? Resign your post and be free.'

'I had thought of that, Rachel, but it is impossible.'

'You are afraid of the Emperor?'

'Yes, I am afraid of the Emperor--not for my own sake, but for the
sake of someone dearer to me than myself.'

'You mean me?'


'But I am not afraid. The Emperor cannot touch me when I am outside
the walls of the Embassy. You yourself, Caspar, have explained to me
that that is international law. Why then are you afraid?'

'It is not only because of what may happen to you, though that reason
is the strongest. There is another reason which should be stronger,
but I put it second. If I did not go to Abaria and fulfil the mission
I have said I would discharge, I should be a coward, not only in the
ordinary sense, but to my own conscience. It would be as though a
soldier, under orders, struck at going into battle. I should be false,
besides, to my word given to a dead man, and I should be false in an
even more personal sense--to my own code of honour. There are reasons
which I cannot explain, and which weigh with me almost as strongly as
my love for you. If you understood them, Rachel, you would not tempt
me against myself.'

'Then make me understand them.'

But he only shook his head in dumb pain at denying her.

'Caspar! Trust me.' The girl clung to him, her wet face uplifted,
imploring his confidence, pleading her loneliness, her need of him.
Womanlike, now that he had broken barriers and given her the full
assurance of his devotion, she turned face and abandoned her attitude
of self-sacrifice for his sake. A few minutes back, believing that he
held the possession of herself more cheaply than the Emperor's favour,
she had placed his worldly prospects before every other consideration.
Then she had been meeting the old Caspar, as she thought, on his own
ground. Now that the new Caspar revealed himself she too became
another woman. Fear for his safety nerved her also, more even than the
thought of her love. Now she was urging him to fling his prospects to
the winds; to throw up his diplomatic career. He read her mood. At
another moment he would have smiled at the abrupt transition. It was
illogical, but how lovably feminine! How much more difficult to

'Don't tempt me, beloved,' he said hoarsely, trying to put her gently
from him.

'Tell me the truth!' she cried. 'I know that there is something
terrible behind, which you are hiding from me. I am not weak and
foolish, Caspar, as I used to be. Something seems to have changed me
since I have learned to know you better. I feel stronger in myself,
stronger in my love for you, in yours for me, of which I am certain
now. I never really knew you before. I never valued the strength and
nobility of your character rightly in the old days, and perhaps it was
not strange that you treated me lightly and showed me more of the
worldly side of you than of your deeper self. I know you better now,
my Caspar, and it is the understanding of you which makes me more
worthy of you, more able to bear any misfortune that may come to us.
So do not hesitate because you are afraid of hurting me.'

She waited for him to answer, but he only stroked her hair silently,
turning his face away so that she should not see the struggle upon it.

'I have a right to know,' she went on more earnestly. 'If this mission
to the Emperor is not a State affair, but has to do with me as well,
surely I have a right to know what it is that may threaten to separate
us. Caspar, will you not tell me?'

'I cannot at present,' he said doggedly. 'Later on, you may know
everything, and then you will not blame me. I beseech you, Rachel,
don't press me now. Give me time--wait.'

'Till it is too late! Till that cruel tyrant has snatched my love from
me, and I am left mourning and desolate. I know that the Emperor is a
tyrant, and that there is neither faithfulness nor honesty in his
court. It is a nest of plots for self-advancement. Oh, do you think I
have not realised that it was there you learned to be worldly, Caspar,
and that it was there the Pacha was taught his cynicism. It is a
hotbed of cruelty. Oh, I have heard of Abarian injustice and bloodshed
and oppression. It is a nursery of crime for which the Emperor is
responsible--that wicked man who has allowed Christian men and women
to be butchered, and has had--children torn from their mother's
breasts and wives from their husband's arms. They call him the father
of his people, but he is the curse of Christendom.'

'Hush! Oh, hush, my dearest! You don't know what you are saying,' he
exclaimed, horrified and amazed at the intensity of feeling she
showed, of which, in such a matter, he had not believed her capable.

'I speak. You yourself have told me of the atrocities and have made
little of them. Do you remember how you shocked me by laughing, and
saying that it was only reversing the order of the Crusades? You
didn't really mean it, Caspar; I know that now. No, don't tell me not
to speak. I will say anything, do anything that will save you from the
Emperor's power, and make you free yourself from that bad man's
'service. But I have done now. I am waiting for you to speak. Won't
you tell me what this thing is which you are afraid may separate us?'

As if in answer to her question, before Marillier could reply, the
door of the room opened and the butler came in with the

'A messenger from Abaria, Ruel Bey, who says that he must see you
immediately by order of the Emperor.'

Close behind the servant appeared Akbar.


Akbar seemed, speaking paradoxically, an embodiment of imperturbable
haste. In virtue of his office as Imperial messenger he knew not
delay. Automatic diligence in the performance of duty was a requisite
qualification for the post; equally so, an impassive demeanour and an
inscrutable countenance. He stood behind the butler during his
announcement in an attitude of arrested activity. His dark brown haik,
folded cornerwise over his shoulder leaving the right arm free, gave
an impression of rapid travel; his lean lithe limbs had not an ounce
of superfluous flesh; his Arab face, clean-featured, of scriptural
dignity, cold, save for the glowing black eyes, was a face that could
be read by no man.

Akbar would not trust even the high official to whom he might be
accredited, until he had proved for himself how far that official was
trusted by the head of all. Whereas he had been voluble in explanation
to the late Ambassador, he said no word of explanation to the first
secretary. He made an obeisance deep and respectful, raised himself,
and drawing from his breast a packet wrapped in silken stuff unfolded
a parchment-like envelope, curiously sealed and inscribed, and
touching it reverentially with his forehead, presented it to

Ruel Bey would at once have recognised the character of the document,
and would have known that it emanated from a higher source than the
usual despatches. Marillier took it, not wholly at first realsing its
importance, and omitting the prescribed Abarian formula with which a
communication of such nature was always received. This, or something
in his manner, must have struck Akbar. His keen eyes searched the
first secretary's face, and then travelled from Marillier to Rachel,
who was discomfited by their piercing gaze.

The man spoke a word or two in the Abarian tongue which Marillier did
not readily understand, and which made him alive to the position and
to the fact that he had a part to play and should play it becomingly.
He looked again at the document in his hand, and it was borne in upon
him that the strange embossed seal securing the silken thread which
bound the envelope, was the seal of that august personage the Emperor
of Abaria. The sense of impending calamity, of a decree which might
not be gainsaid, and that affected Rachel and himself, came over him
with overwhelming force, and yet was not quite to be accounted for,
as, to the best of his knowledge, the Emperor was unaware of the
existence of Rachel, except possibly as Isdas Pacha's niece.
Nevertheless, in that grim Oriental figure before him, Marillier
seemed to see a messenger of Fate.

Recovering himself for a moment or two, he waved the man aside,
pointing with a commanding gesture to the door, and signifying by a
motion of the fingers that the messenger should wait without. Akbar
made another low salaam, and withdrew, closing the door, and letting
the heavy portire fall behind him.

Rachel, who had drawn back, supposing a State matter to be in
question, yet unwilling to go away, the thought haunting her of that
mysterious mission with which she fancied this message might be
connected, watched her lover anxiously as he examined the Emperor's
mandate. He himself, in the excitement caused by his dread, had
forgotten for the moment her bodily presence, though the image of her
in his mind goaded his fear almost to frenzy. He broke the seal, cut
the silken thread, and opened out the stiff paper. For a minute or
two, he gazed at the sheet with eyes that saw nothing but a confused
blurr of foreign characters; he could not tell whether they were
cipher or words of a language he was unacquainted with; he only knew
that the letter was not, as he had vaguely hoped, written in Arabic,
for those signs he understood. Again the sense of ondrawing crisis
came over him, and again he braced himself with the thought that the
message could have nothing to do with Rachel--nothing, at anyrate,
that need seriously affect her. Why then should he tremble? Yet he did
tremble, and so apparently, that Rachel noticed his nervousness, and
advancing timidly, put her hand upon his arm.

'Is anything the matter, Caspar?'

He looked at her, recalled to himself by the tender alarm in her eyes;
awakened also, as he remembered the point at which she had broken off
in her vehement entreaty that he would tell her the truth, to the
necessity for controlling his own agitation. After all, there was no
real reason why he should become unnerved by his curious presentiment
that here was the beginning of the end.

'Dearest,' he said softly, stroking back the hair from her forehead
with his right hand, while in his left the Imperial letter seemed to
sting him like a live thing, 'do not be disturbed. I am very sorry we
were interrupted, but, as you see, it was unavoidable. This is
diplomatic business.'

'I dread everything now that comes from Abaria, and I could tell by
the expression of your face, Caspar, that you were afraid it might
affect you and me. Confess--wasn't that thought in your mind?'

'Darling, if I must confess the truth, it would be that nothing in the
world is of consequence to me, except in so far as it may or may not
affect you. Possibly--I can't help feeling, probably---this
communication from Abaria may have some bearing upon the subject of
our talk. And yet I don't see in what way. Very likely we may find
that you will have to leave the Embassy sooner than we expected.'

'You haven't read it, Caspar. Why do you not read it?'

He put his hand to his head confusedly, taking I-a few hurried steps
away from her.

'You will pardon me. This is perhaps an urgent matter that must be
attended to. It may be that the question you asked me is answered
here. I can say no more at present. We will talk again as soon as I
have disposed of this business: There is something I must do.'

He spoke a little wildly, and again pressed his hand to his brow, as
though in an effort to collect his faculties. She was deeply
concerned, hesitating to leave him. His brain, she thought, could not
yet be strong, and indeed this was a fact of which he was himself
conscious. But uppermost in his mind, was the resolve not to betray
himself. He could play at words with her no longer, the unread letter
in his hand staring at them both. He must carry on his part as best he
could. There was no time to learn it; he could not make out the letter
unaided, and it never occurred to him that the key to the cipher would
be in the Ambassador's safe, to which he had access. Someone therefore
must read it for him. He walked bewilderedly across the room and
pressed the bell, bidding the servant who appeared, to ask Ahmed Bey
if he would do him the favour of coming up. It was galling to
Marillier to send the message. He shrank from showing his ignorance to
his subordinate. He did not know how he could explain it to this
conceited little man, for whom he had but a half-contemptuous
tolerance, though they were on terms of distant friendliness, and
Marillier was not without sympathy in Ahmed's schemes for bringing
himself into official prominence. He quite realised the practical
usefulness of Ahmed's self-importance, yet it irked him now to take
advantage of it, and beyond all things he hated the false position.

As he turned round, he saw Rachel standing uncertainly, her eyes now
fixed upon him in anxious longing to read his soul, and to give him
all the support her love could bestow. She went close to him, her
tall, slim form reaching nearly to his height, as he stood with head
bowed and frame shrunken. Placing her two hands upon his shoulders,
she said in tones vibrating with sympathy,--'Dear, I know that you are
troubled, and I won't worry you with questions now. I'll be patient,
and wait till you tell me what all this means. Only this I do want to
say--remember that I am yours, and yours only, for ever.'

He put his arms round her and looked into her face with such a strange
expression of mingled doubt and fear, that she was impelled to

'Remember, Caspar, my love, nothing can part us but our own will, and
if we are strong to hold together we can defy Fate, we can defy the
Emperor. Death could not separate us; shall we be afraid then of a bad
man's power?'

He kissed her forehead reverentially, regretfully, with a tenderness
that went to her heart, for it seemed to her that he kissed her as
though he were bidding her farewell.

'Beloved,' he said, 'I know that I have your heart, and come what may,
I shall never cease to be thankful for that most precious gift. If I
were to die to-night, I should feel that I had had my share of life's
joy--a joy that I should carry with me into eternity. Living or dying,
my Rachel, apart or together, I know that your love is mine--a
priceless possession. But how long I shall be permitted to clasp this
dear form, to kiss these sweet lips, to hold you so to my heart--ah!
That I do not know, and the doubt is like an icy breath. It is--it
is--that chill shadow which, when we are nearest, comes between us. Do
you not feel it? It unmans me.'

He let his arm fall away from her with a shudder. She, too, had the
sense of sudden cold, as though a blast from outside had swept in, and
drew back J shivering and oppressed by a nameless fear. At that moment
the voice of Ahmed Bey was heard addressing Akbar in Abarian with
ostentatious loud-ness. The lovers drew further apart, and it seemed
to Marillier as they did so, that the invisible presence froze them no

The door opened and Ahmed Bey entered, bowing elaborately to
Mademoiselle Isdas, who moved towards the inner doorway, gazing
mournfully back at her lover as she parted the curtains, and
regretting in her heart that she had not boldly revoked her decision
to abide for the present with Nurse Dalison, and so have forced him to
marry her and give up this baneful mission, which, she knew, must
interfere with their happiness.

'I am here, my friend,' said Ahmed. 'What can I do? Are you wanting me
to deal with an affair of the Chancellery? I see Akbar in the
corridor. It must be something more important than an ordinary
despatch. Ah! the Emperor's own seal!' As his eye fell upon the
document Marillier held open, 'I think I recognise the hand of the
Grand Chancellor and the private cipher. You look upset. What is it
about, and how can I assist you?'

Marillier, his mind full of Rachel, broken in nerve and spirit by the
scene he had gone through, paid small attention to the secretary's
bland little speech. He held the paper out to Ahmed Bey. 'Read it,' he

'Read it! Certainly.' The secretary took the paper, pleased and
expectant. 'You are preparing a surprise for me. Can it by any heaven-
sent chance commend my services in this regrettable emergency?'

'Read it,' replied Marillier, 'and see for yourself. Read it aloud.
You know the character.'

'The Grand Chancellor's cipher, which is used for the Emperor's
private communications to his faithful servants! Not quite so well as
you yourself, Caspar. Poor old Isdas gave you some practice in
deciphering these hieroglyphics. But still--I can read it passably;
glibly if it concerns myself.'

Marillier gave an impatient movement. 'Proceed then,' he exclaimed.

Ahmed Bey pored for some minutes over the document. His face fell
slightly as he perused it, then interest and curiosity animated his
countenance--a jealous interest, a somewhat malign curiosity.

'I don't see why you have given me this. It has nothing to do with me.
Who has pulled the strings for you in Abaria, Caspar--or is this the
Pacha's last legacy? I see that it is a private and personal mandate
from his Majesty to yourself.'

'So I supposed,' replied Marillier, dully. Something in his manner
roused Ahmed's attention. He looked in an irritable way at the first
secretary's emotionless face.

'You supposed! What then? Have you not read it for yourself?'

'If I had read it, should I have asked you to do so?' said Marillier,
shortly, nettled by the young man's manner.

'I imagined that you wanted my opinion,' said Ahmed.

'For mercy's sake don't imagine, but translate,' cried Marillier, in a
voice so rasping, and with lips so white and tremulous, that Ahmed Bey
perceived there must be something seriously wrong with his colleague,
and exclaimed in genuine concern,--'But you are ill! Where is the
amiable nurse? Ah! my friend, you have an adorable excuse, but the
stern doctors were right to forbid excitations of the heart. Pray let
me summon our good Madame Dalison as an antidote.'

'What are you talking of? I do not allow such remarks. I am perfectly
well.' Marillier spoke angrily, then seeing that Ahmed flushed and
reared up his head with an offended air, he recollected himself.

'Pardon me. It is true that I am not quite well, but that is of no
consequence. It will pass. Read, Ahmed. Don't waste time. My head is
bursting; my memory is confused. I have forgotten the cipher.'

Ahmed looked at him, not altogether mollified.

'Strange!' he said. 'This illness has affected you curiously. It
appears to me, Ruel Bey, that there will be something for you to re-
learn when you go into harness again. You are wise, however, not to
tax your brain at present. Here, then, for what I make out of the
Emperor's letter.'

He read the document rather slowly in French, and through the laboured
sentences and flowery circumlocution of court phraseology, Marillier
grasped the substance of the communication.

It was to the effect that the Father of his people of Abaria was
grieved in spirit for the loss of his late Ambassador to the Court of
St James, Isdas Pacha, servant and counsellor, unsurpassed of his
predecessors and not to be equalled by his successors, in diligent
service and loyal devotion to the sacred person of his Majesty the
Emperor. Might the mansion of Isdas be henceforth built in the
gardens of Paradise! Therefore it pleased the Emperor to stretch forth
his hand in clemency and gracious regard for the memory of his servant
blessed in Paradise, to Mademoiselle Rachel Isdas left mourning, and
to desire her presence without delay at the court of Abaria, in order
that his Majesty, of benignant intention, might with his own hand
confer upon her the noble order of the Leopard and the Lotus, an
honour specially reserved for those ladies of high birth and
distinguished virtue upon whom his Majesty might deign to shed the
glorious light of his favour and approbation.

And in pursuance of his Majesty's benignant purpose, and with intent
to specially signalise the first secretary of the Abarian Embassy in
London, commended by Isdas Pacha (removed to Paradise), as worthy of
his Majesty's grace and protection, Ruel Bey was commanded to escort
Mademoiselle Rachel Isdas, with such following and appanage as
befitted her rank and the important occasion, to the presence of the
Emperor. And furthermore, in virtue of the grace of his Majesty,
bestowed upon one commended by his faithful servant Isdas, Ruel Bey
was desired to hold in custody and to carry with him to the Court of
Abaria, there to be laid at the feet of his Majesty the Emperor, all
jewels, decorations, and other insignia of the several orders of merit
and renown by which his Majesty had condescended to distinguish Isdas
Pacha, now reposing in Paradise.

As Ahmed concluded the mandate, which he had read with mingled
feelings of jealous irritation that he himself was not even distantly
alluded to in its paragraphs, yet alive to the policy of ingratiating
himself with powers likely later on, to advance his interests, he was
startled by a heavy groan bursting from the lips of the first
secretary. Ahmed Bey looked at his colleague in astonishment. He had
expected that the first secretary would be overwhelmed by the
magnitude of this honour, and with joy at the prospect of escorting
the woman of his choice straight to the feet of the Emperor, there
probably to receive the Imperial benediction upon their forthcoming
nuptials. Ahmed Bey could not understand why this greatly favoured man
should have the appearance of one who had heard his death sentence,
rather than that of his promotion to untellable dignities, as well as
the right, no doubt, to marry such a girl as Rachel Isdas, her value
enhanced a thousand-fold by the Emperor's favour, and, in all
certainty, a rich dowry. To Ahmed the attitude of his colleague was
inexplicable, and he could only attribute it to weakness of brain.
Really, it seemed as though that injury to his head had totally 'upset
the mental balance of the once brilliant first secretary, and that it
was more than likely that Ruel Bey's promising career would come to an
untimely end. Ahmed began to speculate on his own chances of stepping
into the shoes he coveted, should they become vacant.

'My dear fellow, you must be ill. What on earth is there to groan
about? If I were in your place I should be shouting with delight. I am
very much afraid that you won't be fit to undertake the journey. Now,
how would it be if I were to take your place in escorting Mademoiselle
Isdas? I need not say how delighted I should be if I could make
myself of service, and I venture to hope that I might be less
disagreeable to mademoiselle than a greater stranger.'

Ahmed Bey was deeply in earnest. He had already begun to curse his
want of foresight in not having entered the lists as Rachel's suitor
before Caspar had won her heart. He had always admired her, and
whenever they had been thrown together had tried to make himself
agreeable to the Pacha's niece, though it had soon become evident to
everybody in the Embassy that Ruel Bey must carry all before him. Now
Ahmed Bey,' with no specially malign design, saw a possibility of
supplanting Ruel Bey, whose brain, disordered by the accident, must
surely be incapacitated as a lover, as well as in his official
position. Ahmed began a fussy little speech. He felt sure that the
Emperor would not press Ruel Bey's departure so soon after his
illness, were his Majesty made aware that he had not yet recovered his
strength. He--Ahmed Bey--would charge himself with the task of making
this fact clear through the proper diplomatic channel. He should at
once telegraph to the Grand Chancellor of Abaria and ascertain his
Majesty's pleasure. If Ruel Bey permitted, he would suggest that he
himself, as next in official priority, should be named as a suitable
person to escort Mademoiselle Isdas to the Abarian Court and to
deliver to the Emperor the late Ambassador's orders. What did Caspar
think of the proposition?

Marillier had at first listened stupidly to Ahmed Bey's flowery
speeches, but this proposal acted as a stimulant upon him, for behind
it, he saw the young secretary's scheme, and was braced to a half
humorous opposition. He roused himself; the expression of his face
changed; he threw off his dejection. Briefly thanking Ahmed Bey for
his kind intentions, he declared himself perfectly able to discharge
the high mission with which the Emperor had entrusted him. To no one
could he delegate so important a trust, and, in the circumstances, it
must, he said, be evident to Ahmed Bey that he had himself been chosen
as the most fitting escort for Mademoiselle Isdas on so long and
trying a journey. His manner implied that the Emperor recognised his
right as Mademoiselle Isdas's betrothed husband. Ahmed chafed
inwardly, but it was not the first time that his self-assumption,
social and official, had been set down by Caspar Ruel. Ahmed felt
puzzled, curious, certain that there was more than met the eye, but
compelled to take the dismissal conveyed in his colleague's voice and
manner. 'Bien!' he said, with a shrug. 'I wished only to be of
service. You have all my sympathy. One understands the position which
has no doubt been placed before his Majesty, and I offer you my
felicitations. I only trust that these strange lapses of memory to
which you now appear liable, may not cause inconvenience to
Mademoiselle Isdas during the journey. However, it is certain that
the language of gallantry is less easily forgotten than an official


Ahmed Bey left the room, but before closing the door behind him, he
perceived the immovable figure of Akbar stationed in the shadow of the
great stuffed leopard on the landing. He addressed the man in Abarian,
and receiving Akbar's short answer and accompanying salaam, turned

'I forgot to mention--Akbar told me as I came in that he has orders to
start back immediately with the answer to the Emperor's mandate.'

'The answer!' Marillier spoke in a dazed way. 'What answer?'

'An acknowledgment of the favour his Majesty confers, and an
intimation of the date upon which you will depart with Mademoiselle

Marillier stared absently on the ground. He was deep in thought. No
choice was left him now; his fate was in the Emperor's hands, and that
of Rachel also. What was the meaning of this unexpected honour? Why
this sudden solicitude on behalf of the Ambassador's niece, who had
hitherto been ignored? Was it possible that the Emperor had been made
acquainted with the truth? Yet no--Isdas had given into his own hand
the letter in which it was contained, and that letter lay unopened in
his iron safe in Harley Street. The thought was borne in on him that
he must go and get that letter; and, besides, there was much to do, he
had many preparations to make. Who knew when he might return? His
brain throbbed; his mind was full of confusion. Rachel must be told of
the Emperor's order. There was a possibility that she might refuse to
obey it, since she counted herself no Abarian subject. Marillier, in
the medley of his thoughts glancing up, caught Ahmed Bey's bright
little eyes fixed inquisitively upon him. He stammered,---

'I suppose--yes, of course I should reply that--'

'That you receive his Majesty's command with joy and gratitude not to
be expressed in common language, and that you fly to obey it on the
wings of the wind, bearing Mademoiselle Isdas along with you--which
means that you catch the first convenient continental express and the
Compagnie Transatlantique's boat at Marseilles. Shall I bring you up
the proper paper and the seal? Are you equal to the composition? But
stay--the reply should be in cipher, for which once you had no need to
refer to the code. It will be a trouble to you to construct the
document since you have forgotten the cipher and would have to look up
every word in the key.'

'I--yes, I have forgotten,' Marillier faltered, painfully conscious of
his helplessness.

'Allow me a second time to place my services at your disposal. I have
become sufficiently familiar with the cipher and style. One has only
need to abase oneself at the feet of the most August. But assuredly,
Caspar, you are scarcely equal to this journey.'

'I am entirely equal to it. I shall start--' he halted, 'as soon as

'Certainly as soon as possible. They don't like to be kept waiting in
Abaria, though they are not particular about keeping us poor devils on
tenterhooks. But what is the possible? You must not dream of to-morrow
morning. The night train perhaps. It is etiquette, as you know, when
Imperial orders are issued, to lose no time in obeying them. So to-
morrow night, eh?--if Mademoiselle Isdas's preparations are
completed. And it should be conveyed to his Majesty that you rise from
a sick bed to do his bidding, and may be compelled to take the journey
in slow stages. Does that suit you, and shall I prepare the despatch?'

Marillier nodded impatiently. Ahmed turned a second time.

'Then I will tell Akbar his mind may be satisfied as well as his
stomach. He is standing out there looking as hungry as the leopard
might have done before he tried to eat the Emperor. Good bye for the
moment, mon ami. Lucky dog! I don't know which I envy you most--the
favour of the Emperor or of the lady. I'll bring you the despatch
presently; you will have nothing to do but sign it.' Ahmed
disappeared, patronisingly informing Akbar outside, that a despatch
would shortly be ready for him, and that in the meanwhile he might
rest and refresh himself.

Akbar made his automaton-like obeisance, but a scowl hung upon his
fine Eastern features. He was not too well pleased with the manner of
his reception. Not thus had the old Ambassador transacted
correspondence with his Imperial master. Akbar felt the difference
without wholly understanding it. Nevertheless he was glad that he
might minister to the needs of the flesh.

Meanwhile, Marillier, left alone, walked heavily to the mantelpiece,
and laid his arms upon it, his head dropping wearily down upon them.
So absorbed was he in his thickly-pressing thoughts, that he did not
hear a light footfall cross the room, and started, thrilled in spite
of his preoccupation by the touch of Rachel's hand upon his arm. He
turned, to see her standing by his side. The questioning alarm in her
face reminded him of the communication he must make, and he told her
briefly of the Emperor's mandate.

She did not at first grasp its relation to herself; she thought only
of the summons to her lover and her heart leaped in quick fear. Yet
the summons seemed natural enough, especially that part of it
referring to the delivery of the late Ambassador's orders. She told
herself that she had expected it and dreaded it, even before the first
secretary had told her of his probable mission to the Abarian court.
Yet now his dark words and the sinister doubts which had assailed her
returned in full force.

'Caspar!' she cried, 'you cannot leave me, and you must not leave me.
I will not stay here while you go and place yourself in the power of
that wicked man--go perhaps to your death, or what would be worse than
death to me, lifelong parting. Caspar, you will do as I asked you? You
will resign your post, but you will not go to Abaria and leave me

He was inexpressibly touched.

'Oh! my love, my love! You don't understand. You have not taken in the
meaning of the despatch. It is no question of your remaining here
alone, but of your going with me.'

'Going with you?' she said blankly.

'The Emperor desires to see you. He has ordered me to bring you to his
court.' Marillier repeated as nearly as he could remember them the
words of the message. She received them with surprise and indignation.

'Why should the Emperor require to see me? Why should he trouble
himself even about my existence? I have nothing to do with the
Emperor. Is it that he wants to scold me for staying on so long at the
Embassy? He could not be so petty! No--it is more likely that he
wishes to punish me for having dared to think of marrying you, who are
one of his favourite servants. Should I have asked the Emperor's
permission before allowing myself to love you?'

'My dearest, you misunderstand. Do you not see that the Emperor
intends to honour you by the invitation?'

'Invitation! Ah! then I can decline it.'

Marillier shook his head.

'I fear that you must obey it.'

'Why is there a "must." He has no right to claim obedience from me.
Royal invitations are commands, I know, but when I leave the Embassy I
shall be outside the Emperor's territory. It is only within these
walls, under his own flag, that he has any power. Is it not only
because he is the Emperor of Abaria that you say I must obey his

'Partly because he is the Emperor of Abaria. Chiefly because--'
Marillier hesitated.

'Then there is another reason!' she cried. 'All the time, I have felt
that you were hiding something from me. The Emperor has some right--
some authority over me of which I have been kept in ignorance? Tell
me--is not this the fact?'

'Yes, it is the fact,' he admitted.

'I knew it! I knew it!' she cried.

'Even as the Emperor you could scarcely in the circumstances disregard
his wishes,' Marillier went on, speaking calmly, but aware that he was
only delaying by a few minutes the revelation which as yet he was
hardly prepared to make. 'But in the double relation in which he
stands to you, it is impossible that you can put his command aside.'

'The double relation! What may that be?'

She spoke with determination quite unusual in the timid Rachel.

'My dear, don't press me,' he replied. 'That is not for me, but for
the Emperor himself to tell you.'

She stood perfectly still, her brows contracted, her lips firmly

'Come, my love,' he urged, 'there are practical matters to be
considered. You will have your preparations to make. It is suggested
that we start if possible by the night mail to-morrow. It is necessary
that you should have a woman with you--a friend as well as an
attendant. No doubt Nurse Dalison will come, but if not someone else
must be found.'

She made an imperious gesture with her hand as though she would not
concern herself with such details while the main point was uncertain.

'You ask me to go blindfold to Abaria--to submit myself to the
Emperor's pleasure, not knowing what claim he has upon me.'

'I shall be with you, beloved, to give my life for you if need be, to
protect you in a surer way perhaps than if you remained here. We shall
be safer together in Abaria than separated.'

'That is true,' she answered.

'Well, then, these may be the last few minutes in which we shall be
alone before starting on our journey. Can we not spend them to better
advantage than in discussing the Emperor's claims. Let us accept the
inevitable and trust in each other.'

'No, Caspar, I have yielded to you in many things, and have been glad
and proud to do so. In all things concerning our love, I yield
willingly. But this is a matter on which I must be permitted to judge
for myself. I refuse to go with you to Abaria unless you tell me
plainly what authority the Emperor has over me beyond that of having
been the master of my dead uncle.'

For the first time Marillier realised that there were depths in
Rachel's nature which no one had ever suspected. He saw that she was
in earnest; and while admiring her firmness he recognised her right.
He saw that he could not bend her will, nor influence her by any plea
of expediency. He must tell her the truth or lose her trust, and that
he could not bear. After all, why should he not tell her? He was bound
by no promise in that respect. She would be forewarned and forearmed
against possible danger, and he himself in part relieved of the
terrible burden of his responsibility. Again he told himself that the
Emperor could not have sent for her because of any knowledge he might
have gained of her real parentage. That secret was in his own custody.
It could only be that the Emperor wished to show kindness to the niece
of his old friend and servant, the Ambassador. By making Rachel aware
of the relationship, he might enlist her sympathies on her father's
behalf and pave the way for a better understanding between them, and
thus obtain greater security both for himself and her.

He looked gravely at her, weighing these aspects of the case as well
as the agitation of his mind would permit. She, reading his face, saw
that he was wavering, and pressed her point.

'Tell me the truth, Caspar. I ask it of you. I do more than ask--I
demand it as my right. What is the Emperor's claim upon me?'

'He is your father,' said Marillier, bluntly.

The girl gave him a startled look. She lifted her arms with a sudden
convulsive gesture, and crossed them upon her breast. Marillier had
seen that gesture in a man struck mortally from behind. He moved
forward in the impulse to support her, but she regained her self-
control and shook her head. She could not doubt his word, but the
shock had been great. She went white, and presently he saw that her
lips were trembling.

She could only falter like a child, 'I should like to understand.' As
shortly as possible he repeated to her the main facts of the story
Isdas Pacha had told him--the story of how Rachel O'Hara had entered
the Imperial seraglio, had fled from it, and died soon after giving
birth to her child in Algeria.

As she listened, there flashed through the girl's mind corroborative
incidents, words she had heard in early childhood, vague remembrances
of the Algerian convent, sayings of the Ambassador, more especially
those in their last interview, his curious emotion in regard to her,
his inexplicable dislike contrasting with his generosity about
material matters, the real meaning of her equivocal position at the
Embassy, many hitherto contradictory things which had puzzled her all
now made clear. As she unconsciously lifted her hand her eyes fell
upon the engraved emerald she wore--her passport, as Isdas had said,
to her father's favour. It was all true then, that strange fairy tale
he had told her. She could realise it now, knowing that she was the
Emperor's daughter. Had her father only just become aware of her
existence that he had sent for her? She asked Marillier the question,
and he answered with truth, 'I do not know.'

She asked no more, but again the thoughts surged bewilderingly. She
was the Emperor's daughter, and he had sworn an oath to her mother
that he would grant any request she might make to him as long as they
remained united.

Then he must have loved her mother deeply though she had fled from
him, breaking their union and perhaps invalidating the oath.
Nevertheless, the Pacha had assured her that it was his belief the
Emperor would not disregard that oath were she to present the ring and
claim his pledge. If that were so, she might not only secure her own
happiness, and with it that of the man she loved, but she might obtain
grace and favour for Caspar, and, altered though he seemed by his love
for her, she knew that his worldly advancement had been to him of
immense moment. He was willing to resign it for her sake, but she
longed to return it to him fourfold, to make him what he wished to be,
powerful and honoured. This she might accomplish if she went to Abaria
and approached her father as a daughter should. But if she did not go,
if she angered him, he might visit his displeasure not on her only,
but on Caspar. The Emperor of Abaria was an absolute monarch, Caspar
was his servant; he might degrade or imprison him, or order his death.
In any case he might, and probably would, separate them. In her
ignorance also, she did not know what power he might have over her
even if she remained in England and defied him. If he demanded her as
a daughter, could the English Government be compelled to give her up?
What influence had she? How could she hope to stand against one so
powerful, against, perhaps, international, certainly against natural
law? Fears and questionings rose and tortured her. She pictured the
Emperor to herself as she had always done, a fierce Eastern despot,
evil, tyrannical, terrible. The sight of the ring, however, the oath
of which it was the sign, somewhat changed her conception, and made
him seem more human. He had loved her mother; he was her father, and
she held the passport to his favour.

She turned to Marillier, who was watching her in deep anxiety as she
had a few moments before watched him. He, too, saw the signs of
softening, of wavering resolve. She was about to speak when the door
opened noisily, and Ahmed Bey bustled in with a paper in his hand.

'I have brought the letter for your signature, Ruel Bey,' he said
formally, having acknowledged with a deep bow Mademoiselle Isdas's

'May I ask you to read it?' said Marillier, with equal formality. 'I
have just told Mademoiselle Isdas of the Emperor's wishes, and she
ought to know what has been said in reply.'

Ahmed immediately proceeded to translate into French the adulatory
expressions of gratitude and devoted allegiance in which Ruel Bey
accepted the honour his master had conferred on him. Rising from a
sick-bed, he would obey with all the speed possible in his enfeebled
condition the sacred command of his Majesty, while Mademoiselle
Isdas, prostrated like himself at the Imperial feet, and overwhelmed
with gratitude and humility, promised swift compliance with the
Emperor's gracious desire.

When Ahmed Bey had finished rolling out complacently the concluding
flourishes of his composition, he took up a pen from an escritoire
near, and handed it with the document to Marillier.

Marillier walked to the escritoire, and as he thoughtfully fingered
the pen, sought Rachel's eyes for some expression of her opinions. She
had moved a little, and stood with her gaze fixed on the portrait of
the Emperor, which, in Marillier's fancy, seemed to dominate the
scene. On Rachel's face was still something of the startled look with
which she had received his announcement, but it had also a wistful
expression, uncompromising and sad. Clearly, she had made up her mind,
and again he was struck by the evidence of depths in her character and
purpose for which he had not been prepared. He wondered if this arose
from a sense of filial duty--Nature asserting her claim.

'Mademoiselle Isdas,' he said pointedly, 'does this reply meet your
approval? Have I your permission to sign?'

At the sound of Marillier's voice Rachel turned and bowed her head
slightly. For the moment she could not speak.

'This arrangement will suit you?' Marillier persisted in a tone of
forced calm. 'You will be prepared to let me escort you to Abaria with
Nurse Dalison, or any other woman friend and attendant you may prefer,
as soon as preparations can be made?'

Rachel had a choking sensation in her throat, and her voice was husky,
but she spoke with decision.

'The answer meets my wishes. Sign it, if you please, Ruel Hey. I
submit to the Emperor's command, and will go with you to Abaria as
soon as the preparations are made.'

Marillier gave her a long look, satisfying himself that her mind was
assured, but saying nothing. She returned his look with one of perfect
trust and tenderness. Ahmed Bey saw it, and inwardly cursed his
fortunate colleague, happy in the Emperor's favour and in the devotion
of an adorable woman who had become more adorable since the Emperor
had exalted her. Ahmed Hey sighed and anathematised his own lack of
foresight. Surely he, too, might have had a chance had he entered the
lists at the beginning.

Marillier silently signed the paper and returned it to Ahmed Hey.

'Thank you. Before Akbar leaves I will see him again, shall I not,
Ruel Hey, and obtain a few hints for your journey? There is much to be
done. Baptiste should be sent for.'

Ahmed named the late Ambassador s courier.

'By all means. You will give me your help, Ahmed, in the arrangements
for Mademoiselle Isdas and her companion?'

'I am entirely at your service, my comrade,' replied Ahmed. 'Do not
trouble yourself. I will see that all is suitably provided for the
comfort of mademoiselle.'

And with another bow to Rachel, Ahmed turned to depart. But as he did
so, he glanced at the document which he was carrying away.

'Your handwriting is shaky, Ruel Bey,' he said.


The door closed behind Ahmed, and Marillier, who had been standing at
the escritoire with his back to Rachel, turned at the click of the
lock, which told him that they were alone. He appeared relieved, yet
there was a look almost of despair upon his face. He realised
painfully that the die was cast.

She went slowly towards him, her hands quietly folded, calmness in her
manner; but when he attempted to embrace her she stopped a pace
distant, checking his impulse by her silence and by the look of fixed
purpose in her eyes. He dropped his arms and said, in an embarrassed

'It is decided then; you will go?'

'Yes, I will go.' She paused and added, 'When all the preparations are

The 'all' seemed to him significant. She had laid a slight stress on
the word, but he would not by any question, imply doubt of her

'That is best, my dear,' he said. 'It does not do to fight against the
powers that be. You must see from what I have told you that you owe
something to the Emperor.'

He brought out the sentences jerkily, waiting between each for her to
say a word of either approval or dissent, but she made no comment. He
asked her whether she would be ready by the following evening, laying
his hand, as he did so, upon her shoulder.

'You know,' he said, 'that there is nothing for you to think of but
your personal preparations, and your maid and Nurse Dalison can
relieve you of those. You may depend on Ahmed and myself for the
rest.' Still she made no reply. He waited a minute, then said humbly,
'So tomorrow evening, dearest? Your preparations will be over by

'Our preparations.' She corrected him. 'Yes, I think they will be over
by then; at least I hope so. I hope that it will be possible for us to
start by to-morrow evening, but I am not sure. I must ask you, Caspar,
if it will be possible.'

He felt that there was something at the back of her mind which would
affect the plan.

'Of course,' he answered, with assumed lightness, 'I must go to the
Harley Street house and look over some papers, and I must see
Camperdowne. Afterwards I am at the Emperor's disposal.' He gave an
uneasy laugh. 'And for you, dearest, as I said, your maid will do what
is necessary. I don't anticipate any difficulty as regards Nurse
Dalison. Of course we shall be ready.'

Rachel put up her hand and drew down his from her shoulder, fingering
it softly with a caress that thrilled him.

'I wonder if you will be ready,' she said. 'Are you ready, Caspar, to
take care of me?'

'To take care of you!' he exclaimed. 'You know that it is in order to
take care of you, Rachel, that I am going. I would defy the Emperor's
commands if it would help me to serve you better.'

'You would defy the Emperor's commands--and yet you owe him

'Possibly,' he answered, indifferently. 'I would pay such allegiance
as is due from me to him; but you must bear in mind that he could not
command my presence at the court of Abaria if I were no longer in his
service. As you yourself suggested, I could easily quit it, and but
for you, I would do so. In that case, I should no longer owe him

'You would leave the Emperor's service!' she said in surprise. 'I
don't understand you, Caspar. I thought it was possible that you might
be induced to resign it for my sake, but for your own, I supposed that
you would prefer to remain in it, since it must mean to you the
worldly advancement you have always cared so much about. Now you tell
me that it is for my sake you are going to Abaria.'

'Yes, for your sake. But I am also going for the sake of the dead, for
the sake of my promise to Isdas Pacha--a promise of which I have told
you nothing as yet, Rachel, but which I can only keep by obeying the
Emperor's mandate. Therefore, whether it be for your sake or for the
sake of my promise to the dead, I shall go. And do not fear that I
shall not protect you to the uttermost of which I am capable. Promise
or no promise, that is my chief object in this mission.'

'And in protecting me,' she began shyly, but still with that
underlying purpose in her voice, of which he was fully conscious,
though he did not comprehend it; 'in protecting me, Caspar, you would
wish, would you not, to take the surest means of so doing?'

'Beloved, need you ask me that question?'

'Then you would take any means that would ensure the impossibility of
the Emperor separating us, should he desire it?' she persisted.

Marillier shook his head sadly.

'You speak of impossibility. Alas! I fear that we must not delude
ourselves into false security. In Abaria, there would be few things
impossible to the Emperor. As far as that goes, we must take our
chance. But don't be afraid, darling. I am obliged to speak straightly
to you, and we had better recognise the fact that in his own dominions
Abdullulah Zobeir is supreme. Yet I have greater confidence in the
Emperor than one might be warranted in feeling towards an Eastern
despot. Abdullulah is not an ordinary Eastern despot. Isdas loved and
respected him after his own strange fashion. Isdas believed that he
would be true to his plighted word. I cannot help sharing Isdas's
confidence, and it may be that this was the Pacha's most valuable
legacy to me, for in very truth, Rachel, if I had not some trust in
the integrity of your father and in his sympathy for you, I should
dread this journey even more than I do. As it is, I will not allow
myself to be afraid.'

'But the Emperor'--Rachel stumbled slightly over the word: she could
not say, 'My father'---'the Emperor is a man of strong will and
passions, and is deadly in his vengeance against those who have
offended him. That is what I have heard. The Emperor can be fierce and
cruel, and he is, as you say, absolute in his own dominions. And I--'
She drew herself again a little apart from Marillier and threw out her
hands in a pathetic gesture, which, as the lace fell away from her
wrists, showed their girlish slenderness, while, though there was fire
in her eyes, her mouth trembled. 'I am only a weak woman, Caspar, and
I shall be wholly in his power.'

Marillier caught the little nervous hands in a grip which almost hurt

'Not wholly, since I shall be beside you, since I love you and you
have told me that you love me in return. Our love gives me a right
over you which even the Emperor will find it difficult to gainsay.'

'Make it impossible for the Emperor to gainsay that right,' she
exclaimed impetuously, in a manner unlike that of the usually
diffident and reserved Rachel. 'Ratify your claim upon me, Caspar.
Confirm your right. I ask this of you. In the conditions I require it
of you. Redeem your pledge to me, and put it beyond the Emperor's
power or the will of any man to stand between us.'

He looked down into her eyes, which met his unabashed, steadfast, and
glowing with that purpose of which now some faint glimmering began to
dawn upon him. Yet still he could not believe that love had inspired
such strength of will in the Rachel he had known.

'Beloved, what do you mean? Tell me. I dare not accept your words as
my own desire would bid me. Am I too presumptuous? Rachel, tell me.'

'Yes, I will tell you. I must forget that what I am going to say may
seem unfitting from a girl. I will remember only that I love you, and
that I could not bear to lose you. Then, Caspar, there is but one way
in which I can go with you to Abaria--one detail in the arrangements
of which you have not thought, but without which'--Rachel turned away
her head, blushing like a rose, but speaking calmly--'one detail
without which the preparations for my comfort and safety cannot be

And that?' he said eagerly.

She glanced up.

'Can't you understand? Why do you force me to speak words that you
should say? Caspar, I cannot go with you to Abaria unless you take me
as your wife.'

'As my wife! Oh, beloved, this is happiness and honour greater than I
could have dreamed!'

He caught her in his arms, and she now willingly yielded herself to
his embrace. He could hardly realise that he had heard her aright,
that this was the motive which had been influencing her from the
moment in which he had told her the truth about her birth. He looked
rapturously into her face. Was this his Rachel, his winsome, girlish
love--so tender, but so reticent--this woman with the shining eyes,
who called upon him to make good his plighted troth?

She released herself, and he stood rapt and listening, as, in low
clear tones, the next sentences she uttered showed him how, in the
midst of her shock and astonishment, and in all the hurry of decision
which had been forced upon them, she had grasped the liabilities of
the situation and formulated her plans. There should be a civil
marriage immediately; the religious ceremony, the idea of which she
could not relinquish, should be celebrated later. She reddened and
clung to him, but her eyes were clear as a child's. She knew that they
were both about to embark upon an enterprise full of danger, she told
him, and it was their right, their duty to forearm themselves. So
forearmed she would permit herself to trust as he did, as Isdas had
done, in the Emperor's personal integrity. And then she told him what
he already knew--the story of the emerald. Holding that pledge and
passport, and believing her-self protected by English law, she would
go fearlessly into her father's presence and claim the fulfilment of
his oath to her dead mother. As Caspar's wife would she do this, but
only as Caspar's wife would she venture upon the perilous journey.

Womanlike, she read his thoughts, and would not allow his scruples
scope to shape themselves, and as she talked, hardly waiting for
comment, his own mind, took the colour of hers, and he believed with
her that Carriage lay the surest means of ensuring their joint safety.
Her influence spurred him on, though some voice within him whispered
that were he to palter with this conviction, it would lose its force
and he would be swaying helplessly between love and honour. Yet, he
argued, he had not schemed this thing; Fate had inspired her. Why
should he hesitate since her happiness was so clearly involved. He
could consider nothing else. Honour itself was bounded by his love for
her. He would not weigh the issues of this step since she preferred
any risk to that of separation from him. She was no blindfolded child
now, acting in the dark; she knew the truth, and she had chosen
without shadow of wavering. There was nothing for him but to accept
her decision. Thus he lent himself to her summing up of practical
considerations, amazed at the common sense she showed and her grasp of
technical difficulties which somehow she succeeded in smoothing away.
He wondered where she had obtained her knowledge of the manner in
which the marriage of foreigners in England may be celebrated. He did
not know that his cousin had occasionally discussed it with her when
he was in the mood--a rare and reckless one--to rank love above
liberty and political advancement.

So when Marillier left her, it was upon the understanding that he
should go to a registrar and arrange for the marriage to take place
that very evening at the Embassy, with Ahmed Hey and Nurse Dalison to
act as witnesses. Rachel was certain of Nurse Dalison's compliance;
she had found ample opportunities of gauging the character of that
worldly-wise but highly romantic woman. She knew that nothing would
appeal to Nurse Dalison more than this hastily planned wedding of
which she would fully recognise the expediency on a superficial
knowledge of the circumstances. Her sense of propriety would certainly
suggest arguments in its favour, and all unconscious as Rachel
intended her to be of the true bond between Abdullulah Zobeir, Emperor
of Abaria, and the late Ambassador's so-called niece, she would feel
that the intended honours for both, implied in the mandate, were
sufficient guarantee of their sovereign's approval. Besides, Rachel
knew that Nurse Dalison would delight in a visit to the picturesque
Abarian court under such exceptionally favourable conditions.

She was right in her conjectures. Nurse Dalison was overwhelmed with
pleasure at the double announcement. She had visions of the Order of
the Leopard and Lotus decorating her own breast, and her practical
mind seized upon the idea of profitably pursuing her profession in the
Abarian capital, and after a year or two devoted to amassing a fortune
in the most delightful of climates, might well, she thought, count
upon honourable leisure in her own country where she would live
encircled with an Oriental halo, and no doubt embellished by many
Oriental jewels. Thus, at the Embassy that afternoon, all was bustle
and confusion. Rachel sorted her papers and put away in safety her few
most cherished girlish possessions, while her maid packed her clothes
and Nurse Dalison hurried about her own preparations. Akbar had gone;
Baptiste the courier made out routes and connections and despatched
many telegrams, and Marillier transacted his own business, mostly at
the house in Harley Street--his own by right of inheritance, no longer
his own in the old familiar sense of home. It was strange, indeed
tragic, to reflect that from this very house the mortal shell of
Lucien Marillier had been carried a few weeks ago to its last
resting--place in Kensal Green Cemetery, while the soul of Lucien
Marillier had housed itself in Caspar Ruel's body. Strange, grotesque,
incredible as the fairy tales of childhood might seem to the sober
imagination of middle age--yet true, blissfully true. It was difficult
to adjust the new personality to the old surroundings. He had the
feeling of acting in a dream when he found himself in the consulting-
room giving instructions to Mr Camperdowne the lawyer--instructions
made as brief as possible in the fear of self-committal. He seemed in
a dream too when alone, a little later, he beheld himself reflected as
Caspar Ruel, fine of feature, magnificent of proportion, in the same
mirror that not long ago had given back the stern grey face, the
square ungainly form of Lucien Marillier. Yet this very vision of
himself as he now was, broke the dream illusion, for he knew himself
no longer as the outwardly cold man of science devoured by hopeless
love for a woman who had promised herself to his more brilliant
rival--but that very rival, splendid, triumphant, the desire of his
soul fulfilled, and in a few hours' time to be united indissolubly to
the woman he adored.

With this consciousness upon him of a reality transcending his rosiest
dreams, Marillier carefully secured the documents Isdas had given him
to deliver into the Emperor's hands, and also possessed himself of the
gold box containing the mandrake. He would not open the box; an
instinct of dread which he did not care to define held him back from
so doing. He was in truth overpowered by something of the same
superstition in regard to the root, as had dominated the Pacha.
Without absolutely phrasing it, he was yet deeply imbued with the idea
that to the mandrake he owed his present happiness, that through the
mandrake's occult virtues, Rachel's love had been secured and the
possession of her assured to him.

As Marillier dwelt on this thought, in spite of his reluctance to look
at the fetich and ascertain for himself how much of life and power
remained in it, a sense of superphysical elation filled him. It seemed
to him that he was treading upon air, that he was in the enjoyment of
all power not only spiritual but material also; for he seemed to know
that his desires being in a certain measure material, the superhuman
force that filled him, gave him the means of commanding their

It was still in this state of abnormal exaltation that, his
preparations being completed, he ate a solitary and hurried meal at
Harley Street, with the Pacha's letter to the Emperor in his breast
pocket. Then he placed the gold box containing the mandrake in a
leather case which he had procured for it, and carried it with him to
the Embassy--the only one of his personal effects which he felt must
be entrusted to no other keeping.


In the large drawing-room--that room which contained the Emperor's
portrait--Marillier and Ahmed Hey awaited the arrival of the
Registrar. An intense excitement possessed Marillier. In truth, during
these few hours, the man's whole nature seemed to--have changed, and
he was neither the old Lucien nor the new Caspar, but a curious
combination of both, braced and girt with his hope and his passion and
the wild sense of elation that filled him. He walked--rapidly up and
down the long room, almost unable to curb his eagerness, one moment
stopping to finger tenderly a piece of work Rachel had left lying
about or a bowl of flowers he knew she had arranged, the next,
laughing boisterously and making youthful jokes with Ahmed, who,
versatile though he knew mood. Ahmed put it down, however, to the
natural Caspar to be, had never seen his comrade in this intoxication
of a man about to wed the woman of his heart, and responded with
genial banter, always alive to the desirability of ingratiating
himself with one whose friendship might serve him in good stead. Ahmed
Bey was more fussily important than usual, but Marillier, who might at
any other time have felt irritated by his manner, smiled leniently
upon the little man's pomposity, so lifted did he feel above the
mundane trifles that yesterday would have annoyed him. He was really
grateful to Ahmed for his sympathy and the trouble he had taken in
making arrangements for the journey, and the two chatted cheerily till
the door opened to the butler's announcement of the Registrar.

This gentleman was commonplace, yet with something of dignity in his
manner. His arrival sobered Marillier. The solemnity of the whole
situation came over him, and he said little, leaving his colleague to
answer the Registrar's bland remarks upon the weather, the prospect of
the journey--which had been given as a reason for this hurried
marriage--some commercial aspects of England's relations with Abaria,
and such like conventional topics. Ahmed Hey had himself arranged a
table at what he considered a convenient angle, and had set out ink
and pens; and now the Registrar's great book was opened and placed
upon it. Marillier quietly watched these proceedings, scarcely seeming
to be affected by them. The table happened to have been set in front
of the Emperor's portrait; thus, when the Registrar took his seat with
his back to the picture, it became evident that those about to be
married must stand as it were before Abdullulah Zobeir, whose pictured
face gazing down upon the scene, seemed to Marillier, in the brief
glance he cast at it, to have taken on an inscrutable and disagreeably
cynical smile. Marillier observed the position of the table but would
not alter it, though the portrait gave him the uncomfortable sense of
an undesired witness to the ceremony. He feared that personality and
dreaded its power, but he was determined at any cost to carry through
his project, defying results, and therefore resolutely put from him
all qualms. Presently the double door at the end of the room opened
again and Rachel came in with Nurse Dalison. Ahmed Hey, in his
character of witness and best man, went forward ceremoniously to meet
her, and Rachel, surprisingly self-possessed, greeted him with a
little friendly smile, and placed her hand upon his proffered arm,
allowing him to escort her up the room.

The Registrar stood awkwardly staring. Never had he seen an image of
such sweet dignity, of such girlish grace and beauty. She wore a grey
gown of soft crape with some old Mechlin lace about her shoulders, and
carried a bouquet of white roses, which gave a bridal touch to her
appearance. Nurse Dalison had thought of this, and the roses were her
gift to the bride. Marillier advancing, took his place beside Rachel,
gravely as though they had been meeting in church. He gave one swift
look at her face, a look which she answered with eyes full of love and
trust, while the hand he clasped, returned his pressure closely. Then,
almost before either had time to realise that the moment had come,
they were replying to the questions of the Registrar, and the few
simple words which united them were spoken.

The formal declarations made, there remained only the signatures. As
Marillier took up the pen and bent over the book it seemed to him that
something brushed against him, and he felt a soft but chilly breath
pass over his hands. He fancied that the leaves of the book fluttered,
and there came to him, with a stab, the memory of that invisible
presence which had before obtruded itself between him and his love.
But he would not let himself be deterred by any thought of a
supernatural bar. A few strokes of the pen, and no power, dead or
living, might intervene to separate him from Rachel. He could even
imagine that this was she herself pressing to his side, and turned,
half hoping that it was her dress that had brushed him, her breath
that played upon his cheek and hand. But she had not moved. She stood
a yard or more distant, a tender smile illumining her features, wholly
insensible to anything but human influences. She was thanking Nurse
Dalison, who softly murmured good wishes, with a calm happiness
touching and beautiful. Marillier bent again over the book; his hand
shook and he could not see where to sign. The Registrar indicated the
place with his blunt forefinger; he had some experience of emotional

'Caspar Ruel--Charg d'Affaires--' and there followed the official
setting forth of his position in the service of his Majesty the
Emperor of Abaria, his parentage, nationality, and the rest. There the
name stood out in blurred but bold outlines, rather different from
Ruel Hey's customary signature, but sufficiently like it to be
recognised. Marillier had a sense of having forged the name, and he
laid down the pen with a sigh of relief. At that moment, he distinctly
felt as if the icy presence withdrew itself. But again, as he saw
Rachel stoop with the pen in her slight firm fingers, he seemed to
feel the chill cloud rise between them, and she, too, looking up, gave
a startled glance as though conscious of something antagonistic and
terrifying. But she wrote her name unfalteringly, and the witnesses
added their signatures. It was now Marillier's turn to receive
congratulations. Ahmed Hey and Nurse Dalison plied him with pleasant
speeches, and he listened and laughed and answered, grateful for the
relief which came to him with the effort he had to make in doing so,
and in the healthy nearness of these two friends who, it was evident,
were not aware of the vague terror that haunted him. The little scene
was ended in what appeared an incredibly short space of time. The
Registrar departed with his big book, and Ahmed Hey and Nurse Dalison
obligingly withdrew in his wake, leaving the newly-wedded pair alone.

Then Rachel in her husband's arms, glanced up for the first time at
the portrait of her father, and she, too, fancied that she saw a
cynical smile curving the full red lips.

With a little cry she buried her face in Marillier's shoulder, and he,
tenderly holding her to his breast, begged her to tell him what ailed
her, but all the time he knew full well, for in a flash that passed
from her to him he was able to read her thought.

'The Emperor!' she stammered. 'Cruel--cruel--I cannot bear to look.
Oh, Caspar, do you not see that strange, dreadful smile?'

'Dear one, you are overwrought--and no wonder, after such a long,
trying day. Don't look at the picture if it makes you nervous.'

'But can't you see?' she said, lifting her eyes as though some
fascination drew them.

'I will not look,' he answered with forced lightness.

'It will be time enough to tremble at the Emperor when the real man
faces us. We need not quake before his likeness.'

'Yes, that is true,' she said. 'Till then, we need have no fears, and
we will think only of each other. But I can't stay here, Caspar. The
picture may be only a picture, yet the eyes seem to strike into my

'Let us go away then, and leave the picture to itself.'

'I will take you to my own little sitting-room,' she said brightly. 'I
don't think you have ever seen it.'

Holding his hand in pleased childlike fashion, she led him through the
second drawing-room and along him through the corridor, past the great
mirrored ballroom to a small cheerful parlour which the Pacha had
given her for her own use. It was a girl's room; she had been allowed
to choose the chintz hangings and low armchairs and little bits of
modern furniture which contrasted with the heavy gilt console between
the windows and the early Victorian carpet and cabinets. The place was
in disorder, for Christine, Rachel's maid, had been packing there, but
it looked very homelike nevertheless. A big fire cast a red glow, and
brought out the scent of violets and of a sheaf of mimosa. Rachel drew
a chair forward to the fire.

'Sit there, and let me come to your feet--that's what I like best. Let
us talk--I love talking in the firelight.'

There was a high fender-stool before the fire, but she chose a little
fantastic seat made to resemble a toadstool and brought it close to
the big armchair. He seated himself as she had desired, and leaned
back against the cushions, his eyes wandering round the pretty room,
full of her maidenly properties and the flowers she loved, then
settling upon the slight form in its nunlike grey, crouching by his
side, the brown head on a level with his elbow, the sweet face turned
slightly, the slim fingers playing with the white roses in her lap. He
let his gaze rest upon the beloved shape, happiness beaming from his
eyes; he was filled with content by the very sight of Rachel, not his
girl-love who had seemed to him a little while ago unattainable, but
his wife in the sanctuary of their hearth. The wild elation had
subsided, giving place to this blissful quietude which he felt to be
an earnest of deeper joy. No matter what to-morrow might bring forth,
or any to-morrow near or distant, to-night was their own. To-night
made them one.

Yet as he put out his hand and stroked the brown head at his knee and
the little caressing fingers which caught and clung to his, that
former indefinable horror rose and enveloped him, holding him once
more in its deadly toils. And not himself only, but Rachel as well.
Upon her, too, the fear fell. He knew it even before he felt her
shiver. She started, trembled, and raising her face, looked at him,
alarm widening her eyes. He forgot his own dread in anxiety on her
account, and braced himself to self-control, for he knew that he must
face this ghostly assailant and cow it by the strength of his courage
for her. But how fight the invisible--that which could only be felt--
that at whose nature he could not, dared not, guess? What was this
nameless, formless Thing which intruded itself upon the sanctity even
of moments like this--which came between him and the new-made wife he
would fain have taken to his breast? What was this terror which
neither of them could comprehend? He told himself that, in the first
instance, it had been the creation of his own brain and nerves
enfeebled by illness. Rachel's fear must have grown from his, from the
sight of how it had affected him on that first occasion of their
meeting after his illness. Had it not been for his own lack of self-
command she would probably never have become acquainted with his
impalpable visitant. Now he must show himself of firmer mind. He must
not acknowledge, even to himself, that this was aught but fancy.
Besides, the feeling was absurd; his reason told him that it would
wear off with returning health, change of scene, and, above all,
happiness. He would not permit himself to be affected by it.
Accordingly he sat up, and deliberately putting out his arms, drew
Rachel towards him, with a movement in which there was less of passion
than of calm determination. In the shelter of his embrace, in the
haven which was her right, she should find security. But he had
scarcely pressed her to his heart when the girl disengaged herself and
shrank back, trembling violently, and gazing in a strange manner into

'Rachel! What is it?' he exclaimed. 'What do you see?'--She still
gazed fixedly for a moment or two, then her eyes dropped.

'Nothing,' she answered dully. 'I wish that I could see something. I
cannot; I can only feel. But...but...Caspar, there is something there.
Someone--something came into this room with us.'

He was silent. At her words, he again felt the pressure of the icy
hand he knew. Presently he spoke in a hard voice, making an effort to
reassure her.

'Nonsense, child! You closed the door yourself. Why do you shrink from
me?' He tried to take her hand, but she shivered anew and shook her
head. 'Come close to me,' he entreated; 'close, close, and let me warm
and comfort you.

'I cannot,' she cried with an hysterical sob. 'Oh, Caspar, I wish I
could. There is something preventing me. It's as though a form stood
between us, and I can't reach you. I try in vain. I can't even feel

Her sob deepened with a sound of despair.

'You can't feel me?' he asked harshly, clutching her hands in a grip
like that of a vice. 'Don't you feel me now?'

She shook her head, drawing herself further away; then pulling her
hands from his, she sank sobbing, her head bowed over her knees.

He sprang up with an oath. Marillier was unaccustomed to use rough
language, but helpless affright on her account, and resentment at this
violation of their privacy, goaded him to blind fury.

'My God!' he cried, 'this is too horrible. What does it mean? Rachel--
wife--look at me---speak to me.'

As he rose to his feet the cold shadow seemed to fall away from before
him, but when he stooped over her he again felt it between them. Once
more he sprang up, rearing himself defiantly, another oath trembling
on his lips, and barely checked because he was afraid of terrifying
her still further. Her sobs seemed to tear his heart; he did not know
how to soothe her.

'Darling--don't cry. Believe me, there is nothing which can harm you.
You are tired, overstrained, and I am to blame for it. I am, perhaps,
not quite myself. We have both had an agitating day, and neither of us
is in a specially well-strung condition. Our moods react upon each
other. You must have a good night's rest, and then you will laugh at
this fancy. What else could it be? Look round. There is no one here.'

She obeyed him, and, lifting her head, gazed about, her eyes shifting
uneasily, her nostrils distended like those of a frightened animal.
She had ceased sobbing, but her trembling would not be stilled, and
she shuddered afresh when he came closer to her, beseeching his
forgiveness with a pathetic smile, yet shrinking the more. He turned
away baffled, suffering intensely.

'I will leave you, my dear,' he said, the words choking him. 'It is
best that I should go. Ask Nurse Dalison to give you a little bromide;
that will make you sleep. Don't distress yourself; you will be all
right in the morning, and then I shall come and see you. Remember, you
must get sleep, because of your journey.'

'Yes,' she replied meekly, looking up at him as he stood a few feet
from her, supporting himself by the back of the chair from which he
had risen. The immediate horror had died out of her face, but she
still looked frightened and was very pale.

'You are going, Caspar?' There was a note of relief in her voice which
hurt him, but he answered calmly.

'I think, my dear,' he said, 'that we've neither of us got over the
nerve upset of that horrid accident. I was not fit to see you the
first time you came to me after it, and I believe that then I started
this gruesome notion. The wisest thing I can do is to dose myself too,
and sleep it off. You will see that when I come to you in the morning,
we shall both be fresh and strong, and courageous enough to encounter
either emperors or ghosts.'

His speech broke, and the laugh he tried to give ended in a quaver. He
had not anticipated such a close to their marriage day, and as he
thought of her brave giving of herself to him--an assurance of her
love that he could not doubt--his disappointment was almost more than
he could bear. He looked imploringly at her. Had she made a movement
towards him, he would have tried to lock her in his arms again, but
the shrinking in her was evident; a shrinking he felt to be not from
him, but from the whole situation, from the terror she so clearly
realised and could not understand. She put her hand upon the high
fender-stool, and raised herself slowly and with difficulty; he dared
not offer to help her. When she had risen, they stood face to face,
the chair between them--the chair which to both seemed filled by an
unearthly intruder. For a minute they were silent, spellbound. Then he
roused himself.

'Remember--you must have rest,' he repeated. 'Get to bed soon--it's
the best thing for you.'

'Yes,' she said submissively, her mouth twitching, her eyes upon his
face, but with no light of love in them; his suggestion of leaving her
was obviously not unwelcome. He paused and waited, but he knew it was
in vain. How could she wish him to stay only to keep him at arm's
length? And there could be no closing of heart to heart, of lips to
lips, since they were not alone. Invisible eyes were upon them.

'Ring the bell,' he said shakily. 'You are nearest to it. Ask Nurse
Dalison to come to you. She had better look after you to-night. I--I
will go.'

Then, as the girl turned, thankfully it seemed to him, to press the
electric button behind her, he walked back across the room to the
door, a man with his desire frustrated even in the hour of fulfilment,
that sweet desire beating like a live thing in his breast, but maimed,
imprisoned, helpless.


It was the country of the Kabyles--the Blue Land, as a French writer
has called it.

A road wound round Djebel-el-Khyal, which, being interpreted, is the
Ghost Mountain, and which stands sentinel, as it were, at the entrance
to those almost inaccessible fastnesses, where, in the past, the wild
tribes struggled for so long, and held their independence against
foreign invaders, and where indeed, at this very time, the fierce and
fanatical Arabs of the Beni-Asser and other tribes are always in a
condition of more or less smouldering revolt.

The distant sea of mountains rolled in great waves to the horizon, and
there, in the clear light of that late January day, shone the pale
crests of a snow-covered range like some far-off shore bounding an
immense inland lake, while, in the foreground, sweeping lines of near
hills were drawn against that misty sea, their furrowed sides, dark
with pines, falling into the broad plain of the Bahira, that stretched
like the estuary of a river to the coast.

Spring was spreading its earliest flush. The almond trees were abloom
by the roadside about the white-washed Moorish houses with their thick
straight walls and eyelet windows; the mimosa hung forth sheets of
gold; the tender vine shoots on the sunny slopes, gave out a pleasant
smell; the asphodels here and there, opened starry blossoms; on the
hillsides, the pines had pale brownish-green spikes and tassels, and
the bare trees were putting forth buds.

Curious sandy mounds rose on either side of this bit of road.
Sometimes they were bald, with bubble-like protuberances in the
crumbly earth, sometimes overgrown with lentiscus, which, in places,
had a russet tinge like autumn foliage; sometimes, round these mounds,
plants of the wild onion threw out tufts of flabby leaves and lifted
tiny pillars of blue buds.

There came a turn in the winding road which always mounted steadily,
and Khayal's great scarred hump seemed to rear itself like a barrier
in front of a little cortge that was travelling at walking pace--
three carriages drawn by lean Arab horses, and driven by Arab drivers.
These carriages and their occupants represented the following and
appanage suitable to Mademoiselle Isdas's rank, which the Emperor had
desired should be provided for her journey to Abaria, In the first
carriage, Rachel and Nurse Dalison sat on the front seat, accompanied
by Marillier, who faced them; in the second were Baptiste the courier,
Rachel's maid, and the valet of Ruel Bey; the third held luggage and
two Arab servants engaged in Algiers.

The country grew wilder and the road more uneven.
'Eheu!...Chiffa!...Empske!...' cried the driver, flicking his bony
beasts and shaking their rope harness; and down the carriage rattled
where the road dipped and zigzagged, coming almost into collision with
a pair of stately Bedouins who were riding slowly from the opposite
direction. Now they passed a small procession of Kabyles, a family
evidently moving house, their furniture strapped on mules, and two or
three children striding beside the women, who wore striped haiks and
huge barbaric--looking pins and necklaces. These smiled and
gesticulated pleasantly at the foreigners with a freedom of manner
different from that of the veiled women of the coast.

There was a stir of scirocco, and the wind blew almond blossoms almost
into Rachel's lap as they passed through a tiny village where was a
restaurant and one or two orange gardens. The scent of orange flowers
mingled with the aromatic fragrance of limes and lentiscus and
Mediterranean heath; the wind soughed and sighed dreamily; light
clouds were drifting and throwing changeful shadows upon Khayal,
making the ravines look blacker and more mysterious, and dappling the
great grey plain of the Bahira. How beautiful it was, how
intoxicating, this blue land, thought Rachel, laughing aloud with a
childlike pleasure in the scene, in the thought that she was breathing
her native air, that she was revisiting the country in which she had
been born. But an expression of melancholy crossed her face, dimming
its gladness just as a passing cloud darkened the sun-shine on Khyal.
This was that land to which her mother had fled in pain and despair.
Rachel O'Hara's dying eyes had gazed upon that blue sea of mountains,
as her own eyes were gazing now. Beneath the shadow of Khayal lay her
mother's grave, and here the Gate of Ghosts had in truth opened for
that poor victim of an Eastern monarch's passion. It was odd that not
till now had Rachel looked upon her mother as a definite fact in her
existence. She had thought little of her before, had scarcely cared to
speculate upon her fate, but since they had set foot in Algeria, the
memory had been ever present with the girl, and she had been beset by
a strong desire to see the old Moorish castle in which Rachel O'Hara
had died, the house which was now her own.

Circumstance had favoured the fulfilment of her wish, though when she
had mentioned it on board the steamer to Marillier he had shown a
gentle opposition, pointing out to her that the Emperor's command made
it incumbent upon them to present themselves with as little delay as
possible at the court of Abaria. She had not at the time questioned
his argument; shyness held her back, and a certain constraint seemed
to have crept up between them. Whilst travelling, he made no attempt
to break it, and there had naturally been few opportunities when they
were on the railway for so doing. But when they arrived in Algiers it
was found that the steamer in which they were to have continued their
way along the coast was temporarily disabled, and that they had the
choice of making a long and difficult land journey or of waiting four
days till the boat was ready to put to sea. Marillier seemed half
inclined for the land journey; in truth, he dreaded inaction, and,
moreover, had an odd feeling that he must, as far as he was able, obey
the Emperor's orders to the letter. It seemed to him, reasoning he
owned somewhat fantastically, that having violated the unwritten code
of honour by his marriage, he was bound to discharge literally every
other obligation in regard to Rachel laid upon him by her father.
There were moments, too, when he was struck by the disagreeable notion
that he was being unconsciously influenced by the invisible intruder
who had come between them upon their marriage night. However that
might be, it was certain that something had held him back from making
any further claim upon his wife, at least for the present, and with a
pang he perceived that while wondering at his attitude, it was
nevertheless a relief to her. Was it possible that she dreaded those
four days in Algiers where they must be thrown more upon each other's
company, and wished for the distraction of movement. He had nothing to
say when she again brought forward her wish to see the place where her
mother had died. The request was a perfectly natural one, and there
was reason in her plea that as it was uncertain what the Emperor would
decide in regard to their future life, they would be foolish in losing
this chance of seeing a home legally hers, and in which she might
later be compelled to live. She had ascertained that Bab-el-Khyalt
was a day's railway journey and a five or six hours' drive from
Algiers, and that it would be quite practicable for them to spend a
day and two nights at the chteau, and return in time to pick up their
steamer. Thus she overruled his vague scruples, for which indeed, he
had but slender ground. Baptiste set the telegraph wires in motion,
and so it came about that they were now among the Kabyle mountains
within a little distance of their destination.

There was pleased expectancy upon Rachel's face, and she showed a
girlish interest in the unfamiliar sights and sounds around her. The
beauty of the scenery charmed her. The picturesque Arabs and Kabyles
appealed to her imagination; the dress and manners of the people
amused her; she was delighted to chatter French once more to the
simple country folk at the inns and farmhouses at which they
occasionally stopped. New scenes and the excitement of travelling had
swept away the horror of her marriage night; she had not forgotten
that strange supernatural dread which she had been forced to share
with Lucien; in fact, each time she looked at her husband's worn face
and noted his preoccupied air, she was reminded of it and compelled to
realise the intangible barrier between them, but she was ready now to
attribute the whole occurrence to overstrained nerves and to the brain
injury he had undergone, from which she felt sure he had not yet
recovered. Even that evening after he had left her, in all her own
pain and perplexity, she had set herself so to look upon the matter,
and Nurse Dalison's sympathetic and diplomatic counsel had
strengthened the belief. Certainly Nurse Dalison had thought it
strange that the newly-married pair should cut short their first
interview after the marriage in a manner which Rachel's half-
hysterical explanations showed her to be out of the ordinary course of
things; but when the bridegroom's directions in regard to the
administering of bromide and the necessity of procuring sleep for the
overwrought girl had been given, she had accepted the situation as
sufficiently explainable, only wondering at the forethought and
consideration, which reminded her of Doctor Marillier, but for which
she would hardly have given Ruel Bey credit.

Nurse Dalison saw at once that the girl was physically overdone, and
decided that it was no strange matter that she should have been
delivered into her care. Both nurse and woman in her were flattered by
the trust, and she acquitted herself with discretion, bidding Rachel
look happily forward to a deferred honeymoon amid the palms and orange
groves of Abaria. Nurse Dalison herself was full of pleased
anticipation, and all through the journey had been in a condition of
mild effervescence. It was quite in accordance with her views upon the
situation, that the hurriedly-united pair should delay their
matrimonial confidences till under the shadow of the Emperor's
protection. That would be what Nurse Dalison called 'nice.' She had no
other word in which to express her feelings. It was much 'nicer' that
she should continue for the present faithfully to discharge the duties
of chaperon, and she was confirmed in these orthodox sentiments by the
demeanour of the newly-married pair. Clearly, neither of them desired

Nurse Dalison echoed Rachel's amused little exclamations and comments
upon the scenes through which they were passing; she had a red Murray
in her lap; ever since their departure from England she had been
reading it diligently, and was an encyclopedia, from the tourist's
point of view, in regard to Algeria and all known parts of Abaria.

Marillier, sitting opposite the two women, said little; he frankly
professed ignorance of such information as Murray's guide-book
supplied, and silently encouraged Nurse Dalison to pour it forth
liberally, welcoming the cover it gave to his own reflections. His
mind, like Rachel's, was on the stretch, and full of a strange
expectancy. In him, this took the form of foreboding, and he too
looked forward, but with conflicting emotions, to the time they were
to spend in the place where Rachel O'Hara had died, and the Pacha's
tragedy had been enacted; where too, the mandrake had been torn from
its kindred and from the soil which had nurtured it. Instinctively,
his hand moved to the leather case on the seat beside him, which he
never allowed to pass into other hands than his own. Nurse Dalison
noticed the gesture.

'I have been wondering, Ruel Bey,' she said in her italicised fashion
of speech, 'what important despatches you are carrying in that box.
They must be very important, for--you will be amused--Baptiste
complained to me pathetically the other day, when you were leaving the
boat with Rachel on one arm and all the wraps and the precious box as
well on the other, that there was not much clat in travelling with a
suite since monsieur insisted on making of himself a beast of burden.'

Nurse Dalison's thin little laugh was echoed by Marillier, but he said
nothing. Rachel's hand stole timidly towards him and rested for a
moment on his knee.

'Mon ami, the box and its contents do indeed seem to weigh heavily. I
cannot rouse you to any interest in this wonderful country. Or is it
that you have travelled through it so often that it has lost its

Marillier, thrilled by her touch, imprisoned the fluttering hand, but
instantly released it, and Rachel drew back again into her corner of
the carriage.

'Yet although the country has lost all its novelty for you because you
know it so well,' she went on, with a pretty pettishness, 'you can't
tell me anything about the Roman remains near Bab-el-Khyalt, and
which we must certainly try and see to-morrow.'

'Roman remains,' he echoed absently. 'I had not heard of them.'

'But, my Caspar, I have heard you talk of this Kabyle country--though
then I did not know that I should ever be the possessor of a Moorish
castle in it. I have heard you speak of the Roman ruins.'

'Many of the Moorish fortresses have been built of Roman stones,' he
said a little impatiently. 'I am not an archologist, my dear.'

'At least,' she said, disappointed, 'I thought you would have been
interested in knowing that the tower of Chteau Khayal is supposed to
have been inhabited more or less in its original condition since the
time of Genseric, who, the guide-book says, only partly destroyed it.
Think of living in a building which Genseric tried to destroy! I
should like to sleep there to-night, Caspar, if it is in any way

He smiled upon her, rousing himself to sympathy with her mood.

'But I am interested, deeply interested,' he said; and if it can be
managed, and I haven't the least doubt that Baptiste will be equal to
the occasion, you shall have your wish and sleep in Genseric's tower
unless the rats and the bats have put it out of the question.'

'I wish I had thought of it before,' said Rachel, with a laugh.
'Baptiste says that "Mademoiselle honoured of the Emperor has only to
name her desires and they shall be fulfilled." Now if I had told
Baptiste, he would certainly have telegraphed, and I notice that
whenever Baptiste telegraphs the impossible is accomplished.'

'Perhaps there's no telegraph station at Bab-el-Khyalt,' remarked
Nurse Dalison, who was always practical. 'Now I think of it, he
telegraphed to Milianah. I heard him saying that a messenger would be
sent over. Yet I fancy that I read in the guide-book that Bab-el-
Khayalat was a military post. We shall soon see,' and she turned over
the leaves of her Murray. Rachel bent over her and read out scraps of

'The modern town...built on the Roman site...formerly barracks for
infantry and cavalry...sometime since, disused. (Then I suppose
there's no telegraph.) Ancient bastioned wall...A remarkable fortress
now a private residence...tower of great antiquity...built upon an
abutment of the wall, and commanding a fine view of Mount Khyal and
the Gorge of the Bahira. Legend and superstition have woven strange
romances about this tower, which is well worth a visit, though it was
furnished in modern fashion and turned into a summer residence by its
first European occupant, General de Boissy Verneuil, to whom it was
given in 1857 by the French government as a reward for his services in
the subjugation of Kabylia. The chteau was sold later by General de
Boissy Verneuil's heirs to an Avaranese gentleman in whose possession
it remains, but by whom it has been left practically uninhabited.
Admission, however, is almost impossible to obtain, as the present
owner refuses entrance to tourists.'

'You see,' exclaimed Rachel, triumphantly, 'it is furnished in modern
fashion. Then it must be habitable. I wonder who furnished it. I
wonder--' she paused, and a wistful look came into her face. 'Tell me
the date of the book,' she said. She was wondering if the last
occupant of the tower had been her dead mother. She fell into reverie.
Marillier divined her thought though he did not question her. The
presence of Nurse Dalison restrained him, but Nurse Dalison was soon
lost again in the red book and the other two were left to their

During the whole journey Marillier's mind had been chaotic,
tumultuous. Hope, regret, fear, and wild defiance of the unexplainable
influence which kept him from the full fruition of his love, blended
confusedly within him--defiance predominating; but the time for battle
was not yet. When it came, he was determined to wrestle for his love
with the ghostly claimant who would take her from him, but, for the
present, he felt he must be patient and wait, saying nothing, doing
nothing which could augment Rachel's uneasiness. He saw that it still
lingered, though he knew that she was trying to persuade herself that
the whole thing was illusion due to overfatigue. Since the day it had
taken place, she had not mentioned the marriage. He thought that
perhaps she did not consider theirs a real marriage yet, and would not
do so until the Church had blessed it. That was natural in a girl of
such religious tendencies, brought up in the manner Rachel had been,
and he liked it in her, but all the same, he longed to convince her of
the reality of their union. She was very sweet to him, but the gentle
friendliness of her manner made him understand more than any coldness
could have done, that she held him at a distance, and he felt bitterly
that she was glad to keep Nurse Dalison with them, and to ignore the
fact of being his wedded wife. Yet she loved him as she had always
done--of that he was convinced, and at times he surprised a look upon
her face--a tender, beseeching look, as though she were mutely asking
his forgiveness--which went to his heart. That she should feel so
towards him touched and saddened him. It was in vain that he told
himself that this was but the reaction he might have expected after
her frank offering of herself upon their marriage day. Oh, for a few
moments of straight response from her soul to his, of the human self-
surrender of wife to husband, the heart--oneness which was their right
and should be their joy! He knew it would be his but for that ghostly
intruder, and it was then that the spirit of defiance stirred in his
breast. During the first part of the journey, he had resolutely put
all thought of the spirit-presence from him, feeling, in the condition
of his brain, how impossible it was for him to analyse it. But by
degrees, some of the mental fog cleared, and he could look back upon
that night with calmness though with total lack of understanding. The
sea breezes, in their passage across the Mediterranean, had swept his
mind and cleared it somewhat of ghastly fantasies. He felt stronger,
healthier, more his ordinary self--that self to which he was not yet
accustomed, the strange combination of Caspar and Lucien--Lucien,
always the more powerful nature of the two, preponderating. His sense
of wild elation had gone, and also the uncanny terror which had
followed it. He could to some small extent--alas! a very small one--
bring his scientific training to bear upon the problem; he felt
himself more like the judicial Marillier of old--the man who could see
his duty, and go where it bade him. Duty was leading him to Abaria--on
that point he made no question. So far he could see. Beyond was

He had had time to think more collectedly during the stretch of
railway from Algiers, and now in this day's drive, he took out his
trouble and looked at it. No longer did it press upon his brain,
deadening everything else; he could hold it out a little way from him
and give it more dispassionate consideration. What was to be done if
that ghost--he did not know what else to call it--invariably came
between him and his wife? Were this to continue, the situation would
become impossible. He tried to look upon it from the medical
standpoint; to advise himself as he would have advised a patient
similarly situated, who had brought him such a story. He turned over
in his mind his past experience as a doctor, and recalled cases that
had come under his notice, nearly or remotely resembling his own. But
to no avail; he had never heard nor read of one like it. He could find
no solution of the difficulty either in his own knowledge or in that
which he had gleaned from others--not even in anything that the Pacha,
that man of wisdom, had told him. He was obliged to own to himself
that were such a story brought to him as a physician, he must,
according to ordinary canons, regard it as hallucination. Yet his own
experience, and not his own only, but Rachel's evidence as well,
convinced him that this thing was no hallucination. And, if not, then
what was it? What in fact, he questioned, constitutes a ghost, if it
be not the creation of a disordered brain? Do spirits in very truth,
as some believe, come and go as they list among men by means of and
for reasons of their own? The Pacha had talked of Wandering Ones
doomed to everlasting banishment from material pleasures for which
they still craved--could it be one of these? Was it possible that some
exiled soul, snatching at opportunity, had found power to control
them? It was a horrible thought. Who thus presumed to force the
barrier of his presence between them, and by what right? Who amongst
the dead dared claim tie or affinity with either Rachel or himself
sufficient to compel them at his command, even to the wrecking of
their peace and joy?

Swift as lightning, the answer leaped to his brain, Caspar! Only
Caspar could find it possible--only Caspar would do it. Numbered
amongst the dead; banished to that shadowland, but it might be, still
in full consciousness, and doubtless yearning for living delights,
Caspar had come to enforce his claim.


As this conviction seized Marillier, he struck his clenched hand upon
his knee and a groan escaped him. Caspar was his opponent--Caspar his
enemy. Caspar might still contend with him for the woman they both
loved. In spite of its seeming contradiction with the known laws of
Nature, this solution of the mystery appeared to Marillier a naked and
appalling truth. He no longer told himself, as he would have done in
days gone by, that there could be no certainty about such supermundane
speculation. This, to him, was no wild conjecture, but an
inspirational flash, which beat upon his reason and showed him clearly
that he stood upon the borders of that world beyond matter, into which
the Pacha had so longed to penetrate.

When at length he had entered it, the Pacha's dead hand had been
extended from its confines, as he had said it would be, to protect the
lonely girl he had been forced to leave. Marillier did not doubt this,
and though he had occasionally wondered whether Isdas, from his
invisible vantage ground, had known and disapproved of that hasty
marriage, he felt it would not be the Pacha's wish to separate them.
In his own odd way the old man had cared for his doctor, and had
desired only the girl's happiness. Even supposing he could have
prevented their union, he would have been more likely to await results
calmly and leave them to work out their own destiny. No, it was not
the Pacha who had intervened between them--Marillier was convinced of
that. It could be only Caspar. The revelation kindled fresh fire in
his breast--fresh determination. He would fight with Caspar still;
fight and conquer by the aid of those supreme forces of which the
Pacha had spoken--Love and Will. They should arm him against this
malignant influence, the more dreadful because of its unknown powers.

In awe, Marillier asked himself how much of Caspar had died, how much
remained to wreak vengeance upon his supplanter, and how far would
that vengeance extend? It was his own body--the body of Lucien
Marillier--which crumbled in the grave at Kensal Green, but the spirit
which had been released was not his own, and Marillier realised the
deathless ness of spirit. Houseless, homeless, bereft, this spirit
might well return to claim its human rights and its living habitation.
For the fine frame that he had stolen, Marillier cared little in
itself; his position, social and official, the honours he so
unwillingly bore, he would have relinquished gladly--he had usurped
them only as the means to an end--but for Rachel he would contend with
the living or the dead. He had wooed her under false colours, but her
heart was, he knew, inalienably his, and not Caspar's. By the might of
their mutual love and the strength of his will, he could make her
entirely his own. Now that he recognised his opponent, the way seemed
easier, the goal nearer. A sigh, as of relief, broke from him, his
hand unclenched, and he became again conscious of his surroundings.
Rachel, who had been disturbed by his exclamation, was looking at him
anxiously with questioning eyes. She had not liked to break in upon
his abstraction with an ill-timed remark, for she saw plainly that his
mind was filled with painful thoughts. As the cloud partially cleared
from his brow she met his look with a troubled smile, wondering how
she could divert his attention. Just then the driver called out
excitedly some words in Arabic, and bent back from his box
gesticulating with his whip. 'Bab-el-Khyalt,' he cried, 'Bab-el-

'Oh, look!' exclaimed Rachel. 'Caspar, that must be the town and the
tower of the chteau. Oh, Caspar, you can never have seen anything
half so beautiful.' In her eagerness she had risen, dragging Nurse
Dalison from the seat, and both women, clinging to the back of it,
were straining out over the ravine which the carriage was skirting. A
sharp bend brought them in full view of one of the finest landscapes
that even Marillier had ever beheld.

The central peak of Mount Khayal, a spur of which they had been
rounding, reared itself close to their left--a gigantic rock cloven
into mighty precipices, furrowed with great fissures, rising naked out
of the dark pine forest below, desolate and gloomy beyond words; and,
as it reflected the red light of a I. lowering sun, glowing with lurid
and almost sinister splendour. The pine forest broke abruptly near the
mountain base, and another great precipice dropped sheer into the
ravine, which, from the point of view of the occupants of the
carriage, seemed fathomless, but they could hear the roar of a torrent
and could see a milky band winding down the valley to join the river
which watered the plain of the Bahira.

The torrent came into sight, dashing in foamy eddies over the rocks of
the ravine, where the spur terminated sharply as though a knife had
cleft it uncertainly, leaving a little way below the summit, a natural
ledge utilised for fortifications. Below again was a sheer drop of
bare rock, making a precipice several hundred feet high, and from the
base of this, sloped mounds of dbris covered with undergrowth, where
big grey boulders seemed to be tumbling into the gorge. Beyond the
spur, south and west to the horizon, spread the upheaved sea of
mountains, their further peaks snow-covered, showing gorgeous opal
hues against the sky. Between these distant peaks and the grey cloudy
plain of the Bahira, humps and peaks uprose like foaming waves,
shaping themselves in the strangest and most fantastic forms, which
here and there, had a grotesque human semblance. No doubt it was this
feature of the scenery that had suggested the Arab name of the place--
Bab-el-Khyalt, the Gate of Ghosts.

On the extreme point of the spur, crowning the precipice and
commanding gorge and plain, stood what had formerly been an
impregnable fortress. The bastions and buttresses and a mighty round
tower, with square battlements, which had beneath them a machicolated
parapet, stood out boldly against the sky. A very eyrie it looked,
perched upon that abutting crag, and unapproachable except from the
rear--the saddle-back ridge of the isthmus-like spur. Even here, the
castle was guarded, for the irregular wall that encircled it dipped in
the middle of the ridge, where clearly, a deep fosse had been dug. It
did not seem surprising that the Numidian tribes had never been
brought into strict allegiance to the empire of Rome, or that having
in later ages enrolled themselves under the banner of the Prophet, the
Berbers, entrenched in such strongholds as these, should in more
modern times have defied Christian invasion.

The tower placed at one corner of the building which--as far as could
be judged from a distance, seemed a curious blending of times and
styles--stood on a slight projection of the crag, and almost overhung
the ramparts and the torrent hundreds of feet below. It faced the
Mount of Ghosts, and in every other direction, the view from its
battlemented summit must have been superbly panoramic. As the road
turned, it could be seen from the carriage that the rocky height
sloped gradually on the side furthest from the tower, and was laid out
in terraces and garden to the level of the rampart wall. Vivid patches
of green flecked grey walls and bastions, and a brilliant sheet of
yellow showed the position of a tiny orange grove, while here and
there, were splashes of deep mauve, the colour of the bougainvillea
blossoms; and growing slantwise, bent in that exposed place by the
force of the wind, were a clump of venerable palms.

As the travellers drew nearer, and the twists of the zigzag gave a
view of the castle from different points of observation, the rampart
walk could be discerned stretching round the edge of the cliff,
rounding it and breaking off abruptly at the steepest fall of the
ground. It was accessible from the more modern town, half French half
Mahometan, which spread beyond the entrenchment along the top of the
ridge. The town was a picturesque place of its sort, but it bad the
decayed and dreary appearance of a settlement once fairly flourishing,
now no longer of importance. This was accounted for by its having been
a military post, deserted when warlike operations ceased. On the
outskirts, the empty barracks were falling to pieces, soldiers being
no longer needed since the tribes had settled into peaceful submission
to European rule, and the Berber chiefs had, metaphorically speaking,
changed their swords into reaping hooks. For, though the Kabyle
mountains still harboured a fierce spirit of revolt, it was evident
that round the town at anyrate, the population was more agricultural
than predatory, notwithstanding that the poor soil lent itself
unwillingly to the cultivation of vines and olive trees.

The carriages rolled along an avenue of unlopped planes, their bare
leprous-looking branches interlacing overhead. The minaret of a mosque
showed among them, and presently, the travellers passed by its outer
court, wherein was a fountain shaded by two gnarled orange trees. The
fruit hung upon them in golden balls, and there were flowers also,
which scented the air faintly. Beyond was the tomb of a Marabout,
ornamented with gay flags and Prophet's banners of green and gold. The
white-draped, hooded Arabs and veiled women prostrate before it,
turned at the rattle of the carriages, and suspended their devotions
to take a look at the unwonted arrivals, but a group of more stately
persons in turbans and burnouses, who were drinking coffee on a
projecting part of the old wall, scarcely paused in their talk to
notice the newcomers, and turned only the imperturbable Eastern gaze
upon Rachel and Nurse Dalison, when their attention was attracted by
the ejaculations of pleased surprise at the picturesqueness of the
scene which both women involuntarily uttered.

The cortge halted before a pair of great gates set between massive
walls of yellowish grey stone. At the corners of the wall, were
rounded turrets, with loopholes, whence the approach of a marauding
band might be seen afar for an immense distance. One of these turrets
abutted on a square platform with low parapet, from which a few steps
led to the ramparts. These ramparts, supported by great bulwarks and
bastions of crumbling stone, seemed, as has been said, to extend round
the end of the promontory upon which the castle was built. Facing the
platform, and connected with it by a narrow roadway, was a small hotel
restaurant, the link between ancient fortress and modern town. The
platform was evidently used as an open-air drinking place supplied by
the hotel, for Arab waiters were passing to and fro along the little
causeway, carrying Moorish trays, with brass jugs of thick steaming
coffee, and little odd embossed egg-shaped cups.

Marillier, looking along the ramparts which appeared to overhang the
gorge and the river, remembered the Pacha's account of his despairing
vigils after the death of Rachel's mother, and the strange story of
the finding of the mandrake that be had heard a few months back in the
Abarian Embassy in London; the story which had then seemed to him
distant and visionary as an Eastern fairy tale, but which now returned
to him startlingly near and absolutely real. He found himself gazing
curiously out upon the wooded spurs which projected below, and
appeared to support the great hump of Djebel-el-Khyal, and wondering
upon which of these slopes the insane root had been gathered.

Now, as one of the Arab servants pulled the rusty bell wire, and set
ghostly echoes reverberating, a toothless dame--an old French peasant
woman in short blue skirt and flapping hat, just visible in the
darkness of the doorway--left her distaff and spindle, and clanked her
wooden clogs down the stone-paved way. She drew the bolts, and with
difficulty and by aid of the Arabs, swung back the heavy gates,
curtseying as the carriages passed through, and muttering in
unintelligible patois some words of welcome.

Rachel, all radiant, smiled and nodded. She felt like a girl-queen
entering for the first time her newly-inherited dominion. The gates
clanged-to behind them. They were in a large, medival looking court,
with a stone fountain and tall plane tree in the centre, and narrow
windows looking down into it on two sides--the windows of what might
once have been soldiers' quarters. The third side was filled by a
higher, more imposing building, irregular in architecture, one end
square, and though undoubtedly ancient, of more recent date than the
huge round tower at the other end, which was built of great square
blocks of a yellowish-grey stone, crumbling with age, yet of such
solid masonry as to have defied during centuries, the ravages of time
and weather. The tower had three stories, with a sort of balcony
projecting below the battlemented top, and the immense thickness of
its walls could be judged from the window openings, which, curiously,
instead of narrowing, widened towards the summit.

The whole chteau was a strange mixture of the ancient Roman, Moorish
and medival. The tower, at all events the body of it, went back to
Pagan days, but there had been added on to it a Moorish palace, and
presently the travellers found themselves in a tiled court where a
fountain plashed and a gallery jutted out supported on arabesque
arches and slim pillars. Just outside the court was a slaves' gallery
with tiled seats, and through an open archway within, a glimpse could
be caught of what might once have been the harem garden, a dim walled-
in square with gravelled walks roofed by the foliage of old orange

The custodian, a venerable man in green livery, with long white hair
and a quavering voice, ushered them through the outer Court, bowing
all the time and walking backwards before Rachel, for Baptiste had
already taken care to explain that this young lady, honoured by the
Emperor of Abaria, was not only proprietress of the chteau, but, by
special command, was on her way to the Abarian court, that she might
be decorated with a distinguished order by the Imperial hands.

The custodian, who told them his name was Armand, looked duly
impressed but somewhat bewildered. Encouraged by Rachel, however, he
soon chattered volubly after the manner of an old retainer. For over
twenty-five years, he said, he had been custodian of the chteau--he,
and his wife who was now dead, and his son and daughter; and not once
during that time since the day his master had left it had the state
rooms been opened for the accommodation of a visitor. Picture then the
surprise, the consternation, which had fallen upon them with the
appearance of the messenger from Milianah, with the telegram bidding
him prepare for the arrival of mademoiselle and her suite. How were
they to provide comforts and repasts such as mademoiselle no doubt was
accustomed to? He had been informed that mademoiselle was escorted by
an honourable officer in the service of the Emperor. He craved the
pardon of monsieur, and threw himself upon the clemency of
mademoiselle and of his Excellency for the excuse of shortcomings.
They bad done their best in the haste that was necessary to make
suitable preparations. The beds were aired, fires had been lighted
since yesterday morning all over the chteau. Mademoiselle would find
everything clean, well cared for, and each room exactly as it had been
left at the departure of the Count and the death of the sweet madame,
his kinswoman. Ah I but it had been a sad business! He--Armand--though
twenty-five years were passed, remembered as if it had been yesterday,
the beautiful lady who bad died, and the grief of monsieur the Count.
And the little baby--did mademoiselle know whether the child had lived
and flourished, and would mademoiselle condescend to inform him
concerning his master's health? For so many years no news bad come to
Armand, and for him, monsieur the Count had ceased to exist. It was
true the payments were generous, and by them he knew that he was not
forgotten, but they were always made through a notary, and the
instructions were ever the same--nothing to be disturbed--the rooms of
the poor madame to be kept as she had left them, and, above all, no
strangers to be admitted. Armand, as mademoiselle would see, had
faithfully obeyed the orders, cherishing the hope that his master
would one day return. Truly, he had become greatly attached to the
Count during the months of his stay at the chteau, though that was so
many years ago. It was a great soul, a noble and sympathetic heart,
which had cared for the happiness of others, and especially for those
who had done kindness to her he loved. Ah! there were people still in
Bab-el-Khyalt better off through the goodness of monsieur the Count.
There were the children of the woman who had nursed madame and who
owed their farm to him. And there was the maid of madame---dead now--
she too had received a large dowry; and in truth there was no one who
had ever done a kindness to madame or to the Count himself, whom this
man with the great heart had not rewarded. It would be a joy, not to
Armand only, but to those others too, if mademoiselle could give good
news of monsieur the Count.

Rachel had been listening eagerly, scarcely speaking during the latter
part of the old man's talk. He had brought them into a room with deep
recesses, which were lined with Persian and Damascus tiles, and
furnished with divans upholstered in faded embroidery. There were rugs
upon the floor; a wood fire blazed upon the hearth, before which
chairs were drawn, and the table in the middle was set. The room
looked homelike, and Rachel had a dazed feeling that the twenty-five
years must be a dream, and that only yesterday it was inhabited.

'The Count,' she repeated to Marillier. 'I don't understand. Who does
he mean?'

'He is speaking of Count Varenzi, whom we have known as Isdas Pacha,'
replied Marillier, gravely.

'But,' cried Rachel, 'can it be Excellence of whom he tells such
stories? Excellence never seemed to care about anyone.

'He loved your mother,' said Marillier. 'When she was taken from him
he changed altogether. There were two persons in the man we knew--
Varenzi of the great heart was one; Isdas, the cynical Ambassador,
was the other.'

Rachel turned away to hide a rush of tears. The memory of Isdas in
his softer moods came back to her; Isdas, touched by the Irish
melodies her mother had sung; Isdas, as he had shown himself upon
that last night of his life.

'I knew that he was not really what he seemed,' she said gently, as
soon as she could speak. 'He would have been kind and tender even to
me if I had been more like my mother, and less my father's child.'

Nurse Dalison who, with her usual tact, had turnedaway and occupied
herself in studying the tiles over the fireplace, now addressed a few
words to the old man in her excellent French, but he answered at
random, his eyes fixed on Rachel. 'If mademoiselle only knew how often
he had thought of Count Varenzi,' he went on, desiring to assure
himself of his master's well being. He feared that there must be
something amiss. Probably monsieur was acquainted with the Count and
knew in what country he had lived during all these years, and why he
had never revisited Algeria. Had he then sold the chteau, since
mademoiselle was now its proprietress?'

'My friend,' said Marillier, kindly, 'I am sorry to tell you that you
can never see your master again in Algeria. He died in England about
six weeks ago. The chteau he bequeathed to this lady who may perhaps
return here later, after her visit to Abaria, and for that reason
wished to see it on her way to see the Emperor.'

'My master dead!' exclaimed the old man in genuine dismay. 'But why in
England, monsieur? I remember having heard him say to madame that of
all countries in the world he would like least to live in England.'

'Count Varenzi, as he was to you, held the post of Abarian Ambassador
to the English court,' explained Marillier. 'We, who knew him in
England, knew him as Isdas Pacha.'

'I have heard that name,' answered the old man. 'I have read in the
journals of Isdas Pacha--I never guessed that it was my master. But I
understand--yes, I can comprehend. There was naught in the world for
my master when madame died. He wished to bury the past, to take
another country and another name.'

'That is no doubt true,' said Marillier. 'Count Varenzi went back to
the service of the Emperor of Abaria, which he had left for a short
time, and became another man. Perhaps it is well you did not know him
as Isdas Pacha, for he must have greatly changed. Yet he was a man
much honoured, and died full of years and dignities.'

The old custodian made an expressive movement.

'Ay! twenty-five years ago the Count was no longer young, and I
sometimes wondered even then that the fire of hope and love should
burn so brightly in his heart. But there was the child, Excellency--
the girl-baby whom my master took away--I have heard nothing of her
since. Did the child die also, or did she live to be a daughter to the
Count, and console him for the loss of her mother?' He stopped and
looked intently at Rachel. Her identity with that girl-baby had a
moment ago occurred to him.

'Blind fool that I am!' he exclaimed. 'How is it possible that I did
not at once recognise the smile--the heavenly smile of madame which,
notwithstanding the years, has remained imprinted on my memory? Yes,
there is a resemblance, and yet it is not so very striking.
Mademoiselle will pardon my stupidity. I am the very humble servant of
my lady who has come to claim her inheritance.'

The tears shone still in Rachel's eyes, though her lips were smiling.
Deeply touched, she put out her hand, and the old man kissed it as
some feudal dependant might have kissed the hand of his liege. 'Thank
you,' she said. 'I am grateful to you for remembering my mother, and
for caring so much. Although, as this gentleman told you, your master
seemed different afterwards from what you have described him to be
when he was Count Varenzi, still I am certain his heart never really
changed, and to the last day of his life he thought of my mother and
loved her. By--and-by,' she went on hurriedly, 'I should like you to
show me her rooms and everything that belonged to her.'

The old man explained that, not knowing for whom he had been bidden to
make ready, and mindful of Count Varenzi's orders, he had not thought
of preparing those special rooms. Not that they had been neglected.
Fires were regularly lighted, and the bits of furniture dusted and
hangings brushed and kept in repair as far as was possible, but his
master's command had been that nothing should be taken down or
disturbed, and so even the very flowers that madame had arranged the
day before her death were crumbling into powder in their vases. The
Count had himself locked the two rooms, her salon and the chamber in
which she had died, and had given the keys to him--Armand--with
injunctions that no one but he and his wife should enter them; he had
faithfully obeyed that injunction. Now the keys must be delivered to
mademoiselle. Meanwhile, it might please mademoiselle to inspect the
ordinary apartments. This was the salon, and yonder--pointing to a
further room lined with bookcases and with a large writing-table near
the fireplace--was the library in which Count Varenzi had usually sat.
The bedroom intended for mademoiselle opened into it, and beyond was a
small chamber where the Count's valet had slept. On the other side of
the large salon, were the rooms which had been arranged for the rest
of the party.

He led them round. A cheerful little chamber was assigned to Nurse
Dalison, and one barer and less comfortable to Marillier. Rachel
demurred at sight of it. Surely something better might be provided.
The windows were curtainless, the outlook was sunless, the walls
seemed damp. Monsieur was still an invalid, and the room was hardly
suitable for one recovering from illness. Marillier laughed, and
declared the accommodation was good enough--far more luxurious than he
had expected to find it. Nevertheless, her solicitude on his behalf
was delightful to him, and her pretty assumption of authority pleased
him greatly. Rachel insisted that another room must be got ready. It
was important in this gentleman's state of heath, she said, that he
should have warm sunshine, and, above all, no draughts. The old
custodian looked embarrassed and made wordy apologies. He was
desolated, but what could he do? Sleeping resources, in spite of the
size of the chteau, were limited. There was but one other guest-room
in the inhabited part of the building, and that was in the tower. It
was not a bad room, but for a quarter of a century no one had slept in
it, and then only for the sake of coolness; it could not be
recommended for a winter chamber or for an invalid. The bed certainly
was aired; there could be no danger of damp. As for sunshine, truly
the sun had free entrance from three sides of the heavens; there was
as much as might be at this season, but from all four quarters of the
sky the wind came in also, and mademoiselle might conceive that the
snowy blast from the Djurdjura mountain would penetrate every crevice
of the windows which went all round the tower and gave a view to which
nothing in Algeria could compare. But for draughts and the
requirements of an invalid, mademoiselle might judge for herself, and
he shrugged eloquently.

Yes, mademoiselle would judge for herself Rachel laughed; she had an
idea--so, with a quick glance, she informed Nurse Dalison and
Marillier. They would see. Did Nurse Dalison think she might venture
to make the tottering old man guide them up the tower staircase? Was
there ever anything out of a romance so picturesque and fascinating as
this dear faithful custodian? Nurse Dalison agreed. The old man
appealed to her imagination; he was quite in the picture. She had
gathered up a few art phrases in the course of her professional
experience. Yes, he was perfectly harmonious with his setting; a
different creature would have spoiled the composition. Of course, he
was able to mount the stairs, far better than herself, as she must
confess to the headache of over-fatigue which invariably attacked her
after a day in the open air. But she couldn't resist the tower; they
would go and look at it, only she sincerely hoped that there was
nothing rash in Rachel's idea.

Rachel laughed again. They were in the room which had been allotted
her, and which was large, well-carpeted and handsomely furnished, with
a bed like a catafalque, heavily draped in deep crimson, and reminding
her of the great bier in the ballroom of the Abarian Embassy, upon
which the dead Pacha had lain in state. When told that this was the
room Count Varenzi had occupied, she shuddered.

I will not sleep here,' she said to Marillier. 'It is too gloomy. You
shall take this room, mon ami, and I will go to the tower. That is my
idea. It is not so very venturesome, is it? You see, Fate evidently
intends to gratify my silly fancies. Didn't I say that I longed to
sleep in thetower which is older than Genseric? Now, if Fate had not
arranged matters, how is it likely that I should have found a room in
it quite habitable, and where the bed has been aired in readiness?'

'Fate must have looked a long way ahead,' remarked Nurse Dalison,
drily, 'for the room seems to have been arranged before you were born.
I don't quite like your idea, Rachel; it's not a very wise one, but
we'll come and have a look at the tower, and probably that will
convince you better than I can.'

Nurse Dalison was obliged to own, however, that the tower room, though
curtainless and exposed to all the winds that blew, was not
uninviting. The furniture was comparatively modern, and the bed looked
extremely comfortable. One might have conjectured that a woman had
arranged it, there were so many suggestions of feminine taste. Rachel
remarked this, and a deeper, if somewhat mournful, interest was
imparted to the place by the custodian's reply.

The Count had arranged this room for madame, and she had slept in it
for a short time during the great summer heat. That had been soon
after her arrival at the chteau, when she had been still equal to
mounting the steep staircase. Latterly, this had been impossible, and
she had died in the bedroom below; but at the beginning, madame had
liked to spend whole days in the tower, and in the long summer
evenings, she and the Count used to amuse themselves studying the
stars from the upper storey, where a telescope had been fixed and
still remained in position.

There was no question now in Rachel's mind. She took off her hat and
laid it down with an air of having definitely chosen her resting-
place. She requested that her luggage might be brought her, and her
maid sent up, and met with wilful raillery all the remonstrances which
Nurse Dalison put forth.

'Lonely! I am never lonely when I have sky and mountains near me.
Besides, the staircase leads almost directly into the salon, and if I
felt frightened and cried out, you'd all hear me as distinctly as
though I were calling through a speaking tube, and could rush up in a
few moments and protect me, if there were any need, from bats and
beetles, though I don't see any sign of either. Now you know I love
draughts, and I never could have the windows open as I liked in
England because of the fog. There's no fog here. And I adore the sound
of the wind. It reminds me of my little turret at the convent. To be
able once again to look straight up into the sky and see the stars
will be a joy that I have longed for, ever since I left France. Now,
my dear friend,' as Nurse Dalison continued to make objections,
reasonable and unreasonable, 'just fancy your asking if there's a
lightning conductor! Does one have thunderstorms in Algeria in
January?' she demanded, in French, of the custodian.

He shook his head doubtfully. It was not usual, but in this
mountainous region anything of the sort was possible. He remembered
that the great thunderstorm, in which the Commandant's house was
struck and the Commandant's son killed, had taken place in the
beginning of February. Only last winter there had been a waterspout,
and a thunderbolt had fallen and was now on view in the Muse at
Milianah. Armand had heard, too, of an Arab prophet who declared that
the destruction of the Commandant's house and son had been due to the
vengeance of God--the God of Mahomet, of course--who was angry at the
conquest of Kabylia and the subjection of his people. There were
others--men of science--who attributed the frequent thunderstorms to
certain properties of the mountains--the ironstone on the Djurdjuras
which attracted lightning. But mademoiselle need have no alarm. It was
not within the memory of man that lightning had struck the tower; and
one of the legends concerning it maintained that the tower was guarded
by those spirits which haunted Djebel-el-Khyal, and after whom the
gorge was called the Gate of Ghosts.


Night had closed in. The quaint brass lamps and the wood fire shed a
dull glow over the tiles and embroideries and centre table in the
salon where the little party had dined. Marillier and Rachel sat at
the table, lingering over the oranges and fresh dates which had formed
their dessert. They were alone, Nurse Dalison, pleading a headache,
having retired to her own room. The headache was genuine, and not to
be wondered at after the fatigue and excitement of the day; but Nurse
Dalison had been actuated by diplomatic motives as well, for she felt
that now, in their own home, it was right that the pair should be left
alone as much as possible. So she had risen from the table, had made
her pretty speeches, smiled her faded deprecatory smile, and departed.
Before closing the door, however, she turned to ask Rachel whether
Christine, the maid, should not have a bed made up in the lower tower
room, so as to be at least within call of her mistress; but Rachel
laughingly declined the suggestion, saying again that she was not in
the least nervous, and that Christine would certainly die of cramp or
fright if put into an unused lumber room, and that they might, if they
pleased--nodding at the nurse and Marillier--leave their doors ajar
into the salon, so that should she call for help against ghosts they
might be certain of hearing her.

Nurse Dalison gave a little shiver and a laugh, and remarked that she
thought even ghosts would find the tower too windy to be pleasant
quarters, and would be much more likely to haunt her own room, and
that of the Pacha, in which Marillier was sleeping. She was glad that
she had a clear conscience and a good digestion, and as she was sure
also of Rachel's conscience and digestion, she did not think they need
worry themselves over the possibility of ghostly visitants. Indeed, it
seemed to her that there was more to dread in the chance of a rising
among the Arabs and an assault on the chteau, for, from all she
heard, the district was continually in a state of disaffection.

Rachel, deriding the idea, declared that nothing would please her
better than to live at the chteau and prove the loyalty of the Arabs
around it. She playfully bade Nurse Dalison sleep off her alarms, and
with a parting wish that they might have pleasant dreams, the tired
lady left them, refusing the coffee and liqueur which at that moment
Armand brought in.

Mademoiselle's orders had been attended to, the old man informed his
mistress. This was veritable coffee of the country. The cups, which
were of enamelled ware in jewelled silver holders, had been bought by
the Count for madame, and were of great value, and the spoons he would
recommend to mademoiselle's--notice for the sake of the precious
stones which adorned the handles. Mademoiselle would find, too, that
the observatory in the tower had been lighted, and that such hurried
attempts as were possible, had been made to render it worthy of
mademoiselle's inspection.

Rachel thanked him, and examined the beautiful little egg-shaped cups
and the embossed stands with a pathetic interest. Armand, in reply to
her questioning, told her they had never been used till this evening,
since the day when madame, as he called her, had last drunk from them.
He bowed himself out, and the girl and her husband were alone. Rachel
drank the thick aromatic concoction in an abstracted manner, saying
nothing. She was thinking of her mother and of the dead Pacha. It was
difficult to harmonise her own remembrance of the grim Ambassador with
the custodian's description of Count Varenzi. What tender care, she
reflected, had been given to the choice of this dainty and costly
service, a gift to the woman he had loved; and how dearly he must have
loved her to have kept up this place during all these years as a sort
of shrine, everything that she had ever touched sacredly preserved in
it, though his own sorrow for her loss had been too great to permit
him to revisit the house in which she had died. Another man would have
sold it and would have forgotten. Who would have believed that Isdas
could be so faithful?

Marillier, leaning back in his chair, sipping the tiny glass of
cognac, watched her, half-divining her thoughts. And as he watched
her, he felt happier and more secure than he had done since his
marriage day. The girl was bending a little forward absently studying
the pattern of her coffee spoon. She looked very lovely in the simple
grey dress with its frill of soft lace which she had worn the evening
she was married. Perhaps it was the greyness and softness of her gown
and her slight paleness, or maybe something sweet and subdued in her
manner that was so soothing to Marillier's irritated nerves. Up till
now his mind had been full of the thoughts which all day had been
torturing him. He had been longing for an Opportunity to talk with
Rachel, and had yet dreaded it, not knowing what he should say, and
fearful lest he might again disturb her serenity and the friendliness
so dear and yet so hard to endure. Now, as he looked at her, his dread
left him and he felt only the joy of knowing that she was securely
bound to him. It was the first time that they had found themselves
alone without a chance of interruption since they had started on their
journey, except, indeed, when they had sat together upon the deck of
the steamer, and then he had seen that she was not yet quite at ease
with him, and had purposely gone from her side. But now that
uneasiness seemed completely banished, and he had never seen her more
apparently free from care.

As she glanced up at him suddenly she smiled a smile full of content.
This was one of those days when her heart seemed to go out to him,
reminding him of the sweet time of their courtship--that stolen
courtship, as he acknowledged to himself that he must call it. Yes,
stolen, perhaps, but how inexpressibly precious.

He put his hand out to her across the corner of the table, and she
answered the unspoken petition with an impulsive gesture, laying her
little left hand in his. The plain gold band shone on her finger--the
only present he had ever given her. It was somewhat large, and slipped
down over the slender joint. He pushed it caressingly up with his

'I must get you a guard for this,' he said, 'or you will be losing it.
I wonder, my Rachel, which are the stones you like best? Diamonds seem
to me too hard and flashing for you. I should like to give you
sapphires; they seem to suit you better; the deepest, softest, most
perfect sapphires that it is possible to procure. You will let me have
my way, dearest, and humour my fancy?'

'I shall love your fancy, Caspar, whatever it may be. Choose for me as
you please, but I may tell you that I am fonder of sapphires than of
any other stones; and I shall be fonder still of them now that I know
you like them best too.'

Her pretty submission and the smile which went with the words were
like wine to him. He kissed the hand he held. Then, again fingering
the marriage ring, he said,--'Perhaps I had better have this
tightened; it is so much too large. I never thought of taking the size
of your finger before I bought it. I thought of nothing but my wife to

'Oh,' she cried ruefully, 'I couldn't have it tightened. You would
have to take it away, and a married woman should never part with her
ring. Besides, it is unlucky to have the ring altered after marriage.
Nurse Dalison told me so.'

'Silly child, do you believe in such superstitions?'

She laughed, shaking her head.

'I don't believe in many superstitions. I am not even afraid of
ghosts; at least--' she hesitated, and he fancied that her face
changed. 'I should never be afraid of anything I could see.'

There was silence for a moment. Both thought that they could read the
other's thought. Then she said, laughing once more, 'No, no, Caspar, I
don't want to give up my ring, even to you; and even if it were to be
only for a few hours. I am superstitious, I think, about that. The
ring is the pledge of our union, and if I were to let it leave my
finger I should feel that I might be opening the way for something to
come and separate us.'

He gazed earnestly into her eyes. 'Then you have no regret, Rachel? It
would be a sorrow to you if anything were to separate us?'

She gave him a surprised look full of love.

'Oh, Caspar, how can you ask that? Could I have become your wife if I
had felt the least fear of regretting it?'

'My wife!' he said, his voice trembling. 'Yes--my wife, now and

She was moved by the emotion in him; and, rising from her chair, came
round to where he sat. She placed her arm round his neck and touched
his forehead with her lips.

'I know what put that idea into your mind, Caspar, but you must never
think such a thing of me.'

He drew the little caressing hand from his neck to his lips.

'My dear, I understand,' he said softly.

She bent again and kissed his forehead. Again there was a short
silence, in which he was conscious of nothing but her nearness and the
touch of her hand. Suddenly her mood changed. She went back to her
seat; her fingers played absently with the Arab spoon she had been
admiring, and her thoughts turned once more to the Eastern environment
she found so attractive.

'Oh, I want to tell you,' she began. 'You can't think what a
delightful discovery I made before coming down to dinner. Did you
notice that the winding stair in the tower doesn't end at my room. It
gets narrower and steeper and goes up a still higher flight. I don't
know yet what is at the top, though I did mount up a little way. I
couldn't help beginning to explore it when I saw the stair after I had
dressed for dinner; it looked so tempting. But it was dark and dusty,
and half way up, something brushed my shoulder--some flying thing--and
I was frightened and turned back. Do you think it was a bat?'

'Most likely,' he answered absently, thinking less of her question
than of her beauty and winning changefulness.

She laughed like a pleased child.

'If it was a bat, I am glad, though I am terribly afraid of bats. I
must tell you about another superstition--don't scoff at my
superstitions--that old Caulah told me. Caulah, you know, was my Arab
nurse who took me over to the convent from Algiers. The nuns converted
her and she became a lay sister, and died when I was about twelve
years old. Do you care to hear?'

'Yes,' he answered. 'Tell me about Caulah's superstition.'

'This is what she said--when a bat wheels round an unmarried girl and
brushes her shoulder, it means--', Rachel hesitated, and gave another
girlish laugh, blushing slightly.

'Well, what does it mean?' he asked. 'Something very silly?'

'Yes, very silly. Caulah told me it meant that the girl would soon be
united to the man of her heart.'

'I don't call that a silly superstition,' he said. 'My love I My love!
I accept the omen, and am thankful for it.'

Her eyes fell before the ardent look he gave her.

'Dear,' she said, 'I told them to light up the tower. I thought it
would be nice if we were to go and explore it. There is so much to
explore in this delightful old castle of mine.'

He smiled.

'What a child you are, my Rachel--such a lighthearted child, a baby
with a new toy. It amuses and delights me to see each fresh phase of
you. Well, does the chteau come up to your expectations? You have
been in such high spirits all day, looking forward to it, that I was
half afraid you might be disappointed. Are you satisfied with the
Pacha's gift?'

'Oh, more than satisfied!' she cried. 'Caspar, do you know,' she went
on shyly, 'I think that this might be made a charming home. Of course
it would need a great deal of repair; but I fancy,' and she gave him a
little merry glance, 'I really think that we should find immense
pleasure in making it habitable, and that we might exist here very
comfortably--you and I.'

He sprang up, delighted, and half kneeling by her chair, took her in
his arms as any ordinary lover would naturally have done. The pall of
tragedy seemed lifted. What a creature of moods she was, this sweet
wife of his, and in each mood he loved her better. He was charmed to
find that at every step they made in their intercourse there was more
for him to discover in her. At first, greatly as she had attracted
him, dearly as he had always loved her, he had not realised her many-
sidedness. That was because he had almost always, in the old days,
found her pensive, sad, and apparently timid. But he had seen how
Rachel, face to face with a problem to be solved, a decision to be
made, could prove herself strong and self-reliant. He knew now, too,
how radiant a being was Rachel, joyous and content.

'We will explore the whole castle, dearest,' he said, 'to-morrow.'

'To-morrow!' she repeated; 'I have been thinking so much of to-morrow.
That one day, Caspar, is to be our very own--our first and only day in
our new borne. There must not be a single dull or sorrowful hour in
it. It is to be a perfectly happy day, and oh! it will be all too
short for what I mean to do. I want to go over my mother's rooms--to
try and understand her and the life she led. I want you to know her
too. My poor mother!' Rachel spoke the name as though it had grown
sacred to her, and this was the case. Here, in the house where she had
died, Rachel O'Hara seemed an ever-present reality to the daughter who
until now had had so slight a knowledge of her. After a pause Rachel
spoke more brightly.

'But, Caspar, I don't want to leave everything till to-morrow. I want
you to explore the tower with me to-night. I will show you the winding
stair; it goes up outside my room. Do let us start at once. You won't
mind? You are not too tired?'

She pulled his hand like an excited child, and drew him to the door,
her eyes dancing.

'Too tired! I am not tired. It is you who should be tired.'

'Oh, I am quite rested and refreshed. I do want to invade the bats'
territory, for in spite of the pretty superstition, Caspar, I must
confess that I am much more afraid of them than of ghosts, or rebel
Arabs. I shouldn't sleep comfortably if I thought a bat was flying
round and could get into my room.'

'We will certainly see,' he answered. 'I must make sure before you go
to rest that you are safe from fright and disturbance. Come then,
darling. Show me the way.'

They went like two children hand in hand through the disused lumber-
room at the base of the tower and up the stone steps which were
lighted by the glow from Rachel's bedchamber streaming through its
open door. Outside the door was a small platform, where beyond a dark
little archway, the narrower flight of stairs led to the topmost
floor. The ceilings of both the lumber-room and Rachel's room were
very lofty, and this low portal might easily have been overlooked.
Rachel loosed his hand as they stood on the platform and went forward
a few steps, peering up the gloomy stairway. Marillier lingered a
moment, fascinated by the glimpse of that maiden chamber brightly
lighted, the white bed, with her dainty dressing-gown upon it, set in
order, and the table glittering with her silver-backed brushes and the
toilet bottles her maid had arranged in readiness. Marillier saw a
sanctuary from which he was barred. Rachel called to him, her foot
upon the stairs, her hand extended to him backward. He took it in his,
and they mounted, she still leading him. The place was not quite dark,
a feeble light from a lamp above, made a glimmering dusk, and through
the loophole windows of the staircase, came the pale glow of a clear
starlit night. There were no bats, but Rachel exclaimed as they
entered the upper room that she had seen one flying out by a broken
window. It was no wonder, they thought, that some panes were broken,
for this room, looking up, seemed all window, the openings here being
more numerous than below, wider in proportion, and curiously shaped,
so that they narrowed considerably where they ended about two feet
from the floor. The walls of the tower were immensely thick, making
very deep embrasures, and these were filled in beneath several of the
windows by a carved bench on which were tattered and mouldy cushions.
Except a wooden chair, a very small tripod table, and a large
telescope set on a pivot stand in the centre, the room was
unfurnished. Over the telescope swung an old brass lamp, now corroded
with verdigris, and with a metal shade almost black for want of
cleaning. Evidently Armand had not considered it necessary to devote
much time to this unused observatory.

There was one feature of this top storey of the tower distinguishing
it from the others. It was smaller, for the battlemented summit
contracted, leaving a projecting ledge with a parapet, which from the
outside gave an appearance of machicolation. From one of the windows--
that one in which most of the glass was broken--steps within and
without, led to the balcony, which was wide enough for one person to
stand upon, though the parapet made but an insecure barrier; it would
have been a dangerous position for anyone who had not strong nerves.

Rachel, looking through the uncurtained window, could see the balcony
plainly, and shuddered at the giddy chasm it overhung, from the
blackness of which there only gleamed milky patches of the foaming
torrent that ran along the bed of the gorge. Khyal's rocky wall
reared itself opposite, so close that the girl fancied she might
almost, by stretching her arm, have touched the mountain side. She
moved round from window to window, and the view changed as she went.
From one, she looked down upon the courtyard of the castle, the great
gates, and the lights of the town twinkling along the ridge; from
another she saw the dim stretch of the Kabyle mountains extending
inland, and on the northern side, the terraced garden lay immediately
below, and beyond it, the widening Bahira. It was all beautiful, and
unlike anything she had ever seen. Rachel thought again of her mother,
wondering whether she had used this room, and whether in old days she
had often gazed out upon the wonderful panorama upon which her
daughter was gazing now. The girl wondered, too, if the telescope had
been fixed for her mother's pleasure, or whether some scientific
person had had it put up for purpose of study. She remembered that the
Pacha used to know a great deal about astronomy, and concluded that he
had gained some of his knowledge here. She remarked this to Marillier,
who was watching her with yearning eyes, listening to her talk but
scarcely answering it. Now she appealed to him to adjust the telescope
so that she could look through it, and began to dust the smaller lens
with her pocket-handkerchief He lowered the instrument, and both
fingered it, trying with no effect to arrange the focus to her vision.
All the time he was acting mechanically, like a man possessed with
some fixed idea. His mind was full of that horrible thought of the
power of Caspar's spirit and of his own determination to fight and
conquer the unnatural thing. He knew that he was on the verge of some
supernatural region where anything was possible, and he was resolved
to cross every boundary, if need were, in his battle with the
invisible--if in this way only, he could free himself from his
formless rival, and finally secure Rachel for his own.

Rachel! All was summed up in that word. She was his love, his wife.
There ought to be no barrier between them. Yet, though they stood
here, husband and wife, together and alone, he was oppressed by a
sense of separateness, the consciousness of an intangible wall keeping
them apart. As they bent over the telescope her dress touched him, the
scent of a spray of orange blossom---Nurse Dalison's suggestive gift--
which she wore at her neck, floated up intoxicatingly to his nostrils;
a loose strand of her hair was blown by the breeze against his cheek;
her fingers, brushing his, thrilled him; the sweetness of her voice
maddened him. He trembled in every joint; there were drops of moisture
on his brow which the cold night wind, coming through the broken
panes, turned to ice, though it failed to lower the fever of his blood
or soothe the rapid beat of his pulse. Yet this was not only the
feverish throb of man's desire towards the woman of his choice, but
the rack of uncertainty even at the moment which should have meant
fruition. Moreover, to Marillier, Rachel was at once woman and saint.
Though he longed for her with his flesh, he worshipped her also with
his soul. But she had assured him that she could never regret the gift
of herself into his keeping. When--why, should he not draw her to his
breast--his lawful wife? Why not for them full and perfect union?

The stillness and beauty of the night were in accord with his mood,
and their isolation in this lonely tower, with no sound to disturb
their communings save the faint murmur rising from the native quarter
of the town. High above the turmoil of everyday life, there were none
to see them save the stars shining through the wide windows from the
arc of blue infinity. Marillier was not an imaginative man, but he
knew himself no more as the cold scientist of old, to whom romance had
been a dead letter. Here, in this dreamland of love, Rachel and he
were the only real things, earth at their feet, and open to them that
immeasurable space of star-spangled ether. Oh! that they might float
away--he and Rachel--far into that profound blue, to some Paradise
star, where neither emperor nor other mundane power could divide
them--where even the spirit of the dead dared not follow. If he and
Rachel were spirits too, and met that other upon equal ground, Rachel
would have the right to repudiate whichever she wished. She would
know, and understand, and choose her mate.

A sudden joy filled Marillier's heart, for he knew that Rachel would
choose himself He knew that she loved him, Marillier, better than she
had ever loved Caspar, and that though in the body of Caspar he had
wooed her, it was the soul of Marillier which had taught her the
meaning of love. He knew that were they three to stand confessed, the
veil of flesh removed, Marillier, and not Caspar, would be her choice.
By all the laws of true affinity she would be drawn to him, and in
undying union they twain would be one. He felt that to this end, he
could welcome even death for them both. Beyond it, might there not be
greater happiness in store for them than any which this world could
offer? For himself he would hail any change that made her
irretrievably his. And to poor little Rachel, the sundering of mortal
coils would be no great wrench. Life had not been so bounteous to her
that she should cling to it. She had gone through much trouble, and he
feared that there was more to come--trouble from which he would be
powerless to shield her.--It might be well if, instead, they were to
pass out of their material environment into a realm where no earthly
limitations could affect them.


While these thoughts passed through the mind of Marillier, he was
standing behind Rachel as she bent over the telescope. He was gazing,
not at her, but out into the night. A thin crescent moon was slowly
rising, a virginal moon, suggestive of the girl, which seemed to be
resting on the hump of Khyal. While holding the tube of the
telescope, her fingers, straying over it, touched his, and brought him
back to the actual. His hand closed on hers, and, with an impulsive
movement, carried it back, till it struck his left shoulder. She was
drawn against his breast, not only by the strength of his arm, but by
a yielding impulse in herself, and as her head fell upon his other
shoulder, her face was turned upward to his, beaming with affection
and trust. She did not speak, but only smiled, and he knew through
every fibre of him that her whole being answered to his. He, too, was
silent, watching the lamplight play upon her features and upon her
brown hair, which, where the glow touched it, brightened into gold.
But it seemed to him that her eyes reflected the starlight which
streamed in a silvery bar through the window overlooking the Bahira.
The pure radiance of her eyes and the sweetness of her smile brought
heaven and earth together. His arm encircled her.

'Beloved!' he whispered. 'Oh! my heart! It has been difficult to
convince myself in these last days that you are really mine, pledged
to me by your own will and word in a bond which no man can break. Have
you realised this, my beloved? Do you rightly understand that you have
given your sweet self to me, and that, all unworthy as I am, I may
dare to claim my wife?'

She made no answer in words, but he felt the quickened beat of her
heart, and a caressing pressure of her fingers where her hand
fluttered about his neck. He bent his face to hers, and for a moment
or an eternity--love knows not time--he entered Paradise. In very
truth the walls of stone surrounding the pair might have melted away,
and they two, conscious of nothing but each other, heart to heart,
soul within soul, might have slipped out into that vast enfolding
blue--the blended spirits a star-point in Infinity.

Rachel was the first to feel earth once more. She drew back with a
maidenly movement; her arms, which had clasped him, not falling away,
but slackening, her eyes still shining up into his with perfect
confidence. He looked down upon her yearningly, yet not unsatisfied,
for the after taste of that heavenly interchange gave him a sense of
future fulfilment for which he had scarcely dared to hope.

Then suddenly from the vantage ground of Paradise he seemed to see
Hell yawning. It was in Rachel's eyes that he beheld it, for the
radiance of them changed slowly into that fear-stricken expression he
so well remembered. At first it was merely a startled look, but it
deepened gradually into terror, her features stiffening, her lips
agape and rigid, the soft hold of her arms tightening convulsively.

He recognised the signs. He knew that the unnameable presence had
again invaded his sanctuary. The thought which had tormented him
during the drive to Bab-el-Khyalt flashed back now in a forcible
determination to know the worst, to confront and defy his visionary
foe. How could he be expected to relinquish Rachel after doing
violence to his code of honour on her behalf and sinning against all
the laws of righteousness to save her? Was it to save her, he suddenly
reflected, or to possess her? No matter! This was no time for
casuistic argument. One thing alone was certain. Neither to man nor to
spirit would he now surrender Rachel.

He called to his aid all the mental energy of which he was capable.
The Pacha's words recurred to him; that paradoxical utterance, 'The
two supreme omnipotent, the other subservient to it and
yet its master--Love and Will. By the might of those Forces he had
compelled to his service the occult power contained in the mandrake
root;--that power should not be permitted to fail him. He would put
forth his will and compel it again to serve him. This was the crisis,
not of his own fate only, but of Rachel's fate as well. This was the
hour in which for her sake, he, a mere mortal man, must wrestle with
man who was not mortal.

He strained Rachel's now unyielding form wildly to his heart, so
roughly that it seemed as though he had hurt her, for a faint cry
escaped her lips. He entreated her pardon, yet, as he did so, embraced
her still more violently, bending his face and trying to bring her
lips to his. But the girl shrank unmistakably, throwing her head back
and struggling like a bird with its capturer. Her feeble efforts
touched the manliness in him; he loosed his hold, and she might
have freed herself, but she in her turn was touched, and
notwithstanding her shrinking, she let her arms still cling round him
'Caspar!...Oh!...Why? . .. Why?' she cried brokenly, in accents of
mingled reproach and contrition. 'Caspar, I did not mean...You are not
angry with me, Caspar?'

'Angry! Oh, beloved, forgive me,' he answered brokenly too, and
stricken also by a momentary contrition, though he was aware of the
imprisoned brute within him, and hated, while he was partly controlled
by it. 'Forgive me,' he stammered again. 'But I love you--I love
you---and you deny yourself to me.'

Again she shrank visibly. She, like him, though in a different
fashion, was torn by contrary emotions, tenderness and the vague sense
of outrage contending. Her look was that of a child frightened by a
sudden blow from one it had trusted. The tears gathered, her lips
quivered; her voice shook as she tried to speak. Then slowly, as if
she wished not to vex him by a rebuff, she unwound her arms and tried
to draw herself away. But he would not let her go. Under his eager
eyes, her face changed again, the horror in it intensified. She was
white as a statue and almost as rigid, until a shiver shook her from
head to foot.

The consciousness that he himself was not at this moment influenced by
the grave-like chill that had before unnerved him, gave him unwonted
courage--His own exemption made another man of him. No more of-those
dream-like fancies about dying and floating away to some star in
space. The world was what he wanted. Life was what he desired--life
and the stir and power and passion of it. These were the things he
hungered for--that he meant to seize and enjoy. And life and love were
thrilling him now. He was warm--he had a feeling of new and lusty
vitality, and an almost devilish sense of triumph. He could reason to
himself and plan with extraordinary wile how to deal with Rachel's
terror. He would treat it as feminine weakness. He would be kind, but
she must see that he was her master; he would show her how foolish it
was to suppose that a husband would submit to be kept at arm's length
as her hysterical whim dictated. Women always gave in at the
imputation of hysteria--that was the line he would take.

He dropped his arms, releasing her, and moving a step from her,

'My sweet one, you will permit me to suggest that it is scarcely fair
to put a man of flesh and blood through an ordeal which would have
sorely tried Saint Anthony.'

At the mocking ring in his voice, the light laugh, the characteristic
shake of his shoulders, Rachel shuddered, and her eyes shot at him a
startled, apprehensive gleam. Her memory had leaped months and gone
back to the day before the Pacha's funeral, when, in such a tone of
sugared cynicism, with the same look, the same shrug, Caspar had
suggested the postponement of their marriage and had asked her to go
with him to Paris. She had only dimly guessed his meaning then; later
she had understood it better; but the change in him following upon the
accident, and, as she believed, the shock of Lucien Marillier's death,
and which she had attributed to both those causes, drove the suspicion
from her mind, so that in her new confidence she had quite forgotten
her former doubts. Now the scene in the drawing-room of the Embassy
interrupted by Marillier's entrance, came back to her, illuminated by
a dreadful light, and she seemed to see again standing before her that
former Caspar, the man whom in certain of his moods she had so feared,
and no longer the new Caspar, to whom she had so unquestioningly given
herself, and who had so completely won her love and her reverence. The
feeling of revulsion was almost more than she could bear. Her head
drooped; she grew faint and dizzy. His voice sounded far away as he
went on, still in the same jarring manner,---

'You are adorable in every mood, my love--always my sweet tropic
flower who charms and bewilders and bewitches me. Yet I must own that
I find this mood of yours strange, and not altogether to my taste. It
savours somewhat of hysteria, sweet one, and you know I do not like
hysterical women. I am distressed to see you giving way to that
senseless fear which took possession of you after my illness, and has
more than once made us both miserable. My own nerves, I confess, were
a little to blame; but you see that now I can laugh at such morbid
fancies. What is it you are trembling at? Nothing. You remember there
was nothing; there is nothing. Look up. See! We are alone. There is
not even a bat to be frightened of.'

His laugh rang shrilly, defiantly, and seemed to be taken up and to
echo in the stillness of the tower. But obedient to his command, she
raised her eyes and straightened herself, struggling pitifully for
composure. She was trembling still. He stretched out his hands to her.
'Come,' he said, 'I promise you that I will be the most humble wooer
who ever sighed at the feet of a nun. Come to me and let me soothe
away those childish fears.

She swayed towards him, but, as though repelled by something stronger
than herself, fell back, clinging to the stand of the telescope, and
shook her head.

'Caspar...I...I cannot...I...I...' Her voice ended in a dry quaver
more pathetic than a burst of tears. She threw her hands over her
face, struggling with each tremor that seized her.

'What is it that you are afraid of?' he said, speaking with a
lightness that was forced, for his own determination was weakening,
and he had become sensible of that deathly chill creeping upward to
his heart. He braced himself in desperate resistance. Was he not
fighting for her salvation even more than for his own? He gained
strength with the idea of protecting her, and the savage impulse died
momentarily down, only to rise again in greater force and cunning. He
felt in a sub-conscious way that a battle was waging in his breast,
and that his own being held two separate individualities engaged in
mortal conflict. And now the scale of victory turned in favour of the
base rather than the noble combatant within him. It was again in the
bantering self-assured manner of Ruel Bey that he addressed her.

'Foolish child! I assure you that this is some hobgoblin fancy which
has lodged in your pretty head. Let me drive it out, as I wanted to,
with kisses. Why do you shrink? You believe in me; you trust me. There
is nothing to fear. I am with you, your lover, your husband.'

'Caspar!' The word, uttered scarcely audibly from behind the screen of
her hands, seemed half appeal, half interrogation.

'Yes, Caspar, your Caspar, who has never ceased to worship you. Come
to me, my love.'

She did not answer, did not stir to meet his entreating arms. Her face
was still hidden. He tried to draw down her hands. She resisted
feebly, but presently he succeeded, and the brown eyes flashed up at
him a glance of terrified questioning. Then with all her strength, she
suddenly pulled herself away, making a barricade of the telescope,
which swung round beneath her weight. He saw plainly that there was
something in him which roused her alarm and distrust, and he did not
know whether it was pain or anger that for a moment choked him. But
determined to maintain his attitude, he recovered himself, and asked
in a hard, quiet voice,---

'Don't you know me, Rachel?'

She stared bewilderedly, and made a faint negative gesture.

'You don't know me! Rachel, what do you mean?'

He put his hands upon her shoulders, holding her firmly, and he could
tell from the way she cowered that his touch struck like ice. He
repeated his question more imperatively, and she tried to answer but
could not.

'Rachel!' he said harshly, 'this is hysteria, neither more nor less,
and as a disease it must be dealt with and conquered. Reason by your
own common sense. You must know that this sort of thing cannot go on;
it is destroying our married life at the outset. You say you love me--
you have given yourself to me, yet you act in this manner. Remember
your duty and the vows you have made. You are my wife, bound to me by
both the civil and human law. Is my wife always to shrink from her
husband as you shrink from me now?'

He stopped. His words and manner were, he could see, taking effect.
Again she made that struggle for composure which was so pitiful. She
gave him a quickly-averted glance; it was as though she dared not look
lest her courage should fail.

'I must remember my duty,' she murmured in the tone of a child
repeating a lesson, and advancing, put her hands in his.

'I know that you are my husband, Caspar, and that my vows are binding.
And it isn't--' she faltered. 'I love you...I thought I loved
you...dearly...dearly. But...I am...I...' The whisper died.

'Look at me, Rachel, look at me.'

Again she lifted her eyes. Again he saw the horror kindled in them.
Again she tried to withdraw her hands, but he would not let her go.

'What is it that you see in me which makes you shrink and refuse to
look at me?' he asked masterfully. 'Tell me, Rachel. What is it in me
that frightens you so?'

She was like a bird caught in a snare from which there is no escape.
Her eyes roved wildly round the little room, and out into the starlit
blue beyond. Something of the same fantastic longing which had been in
his mind a little while before, filled her now. Oh, for freedom--
flight into space with the loosed soul of the man she loved--the real
man only discovered lately---simple, high-minded, considerate, gentle;
the unexacting lover whose very diffidence had compelled her almost to
offer herself; who, during all these weeks since that time of illness,
had been her reverential slave, not till now, her tyrant. How unlike
in many ways was this later lover to the former Caspar who had won her
heart in the early days when she had come, a shy, inexperienced girl,
to the Embassy. She remembered points of character in that Caspar--a
certain selfishness, worldliness, cynicism, a boldness of caresses
which had jarred and would have affronted her but for her natural
loyalty. All this she had been slowly realising, though at the time
she would not have admitted it to herself what joy it had been to see
the change which bodily weakness and the memory of Lucien Marillier
had wrought. How, in his new and more timid wooing, this Caspar had
become the rival of his former self, binding her to him by a closer
bond than had ever before existed. What safety she had felt in his
all-embracing tenderness! How she had been moved by his unselfish
thought for her--his willingness to imperil, even to sacrifice, his
career for her sake! And now where had he gone--this true-hearted,
noble husband to whom she had promised wifely duty and love? This was
not he--this man standing before her, with the hard, smiling lips, the
cruel, amused, yet sensuous eyes. Nor was this quite the old Caspar,
but an evil likeness of him in his worst mood intensified--his worst
mood without the redeeming qualities with which her fancy had invested
him, without the sanctifying halo cast by an ignorant girl's confiding
affection. A sickening despair came over Rachel. Dared she look again?
Fascinated, as some hapless prey beneath the charm of the snake, she
turned her head and lifted those pathetic brown eyes, mutely pleading
for grace. And that look cowed the demon. Marillier answered it.

'Darling! It is agony to see that you shrink from me. Oh, Rachel! my
saint, my beloved, is it possible that you can be afraid of me?'

As he spoke in accents of deep sorrow, it seemed to her that the mask
of his features changed, that the burning gaze softened, and that for
a few seconds the old tender love looked out once more. Her trust
welled up. She would tell him all, and rely upon his kindness which in
the recent past had never failed her.

'Yes,' she replied timidly, like a culprit confessing a fault. 'Yes,
Caspar, it is true that I feel afraid of you.'

'Afraid of me!' he repeated, wounded to the quick, but with the
gentleness she knew. There was a pause, during which the eyes of each
were fixed upon the other. And now Rachel saw again the strange
transformation take place, the remorseful expression change into one
of almost malevolent arrogance. It was Caspar's ironical laugh which
rang from the lips of her lover, and as he bent greedily forward to
snatch a kiss, she quailed and retreated sharply, crouching against
the wall of the room like a hunted creature at bay.

'I am afraid of you,' she cried, the sentences coming jerkily while
she put out her hands as if to shield herself. 'I have never known you
like this. You make me dread you. It's as though an evil spirit had
come into you. Caspar, what does it mean? Tell me why you are so

'So different! Dear, am I different?'

The frenzy in him had subsided. He looked stricken. A horrible fear
had leaped up at her words, and it held the fiend in check. Was this
thing true that she had said? In his foreboding of supernatural
possibilities, this one had not occurred to him--this, the most
terrible, the most likely, as he now felt it to be. She had said that
it seemed as though an evil spirit was come into him, and truly he
realised that he had not been himself, that he had been dominated by
something alien, brutal, capable of actions, at which, in saner mood,
he would shudder. And he had the sense of holding those fierce
impulses only in leash. At any provocation they might spring up and
throttle all that was noble and compassionate in his love for the
woman before him. That evil from which he had tried to save her by the
sin he had committed, was now lodged in himself and threatening to
destroy her. His mind, working on scientific lines, grasped the
hideous fact that with the body of Caspar he had taken over the man's
physical temperament, and had thus established a link with the
houseless spirit, and opened a door by which it might again enter.
Desire of Rachel, denied but unquenched, was the attraction earthward
of that Wandering One. Purified though that desire had become in
himself, Marillier understood that when nearing fruition it might
supply the fire needed by the dead man's spirit to re-vitalise itself.
Was this the explanation of that grave-cold presence whenever as a
lover he, Marillier, approached Rachel? And now that he had conquered
all earthly barriers to their union, had the soul of his dead rival
taken possession of the body from which it had been unjustly driven,
with the malignant intention to deprive him of his stolen happiness;
with--oh horrible!--the purpose of vicariously enjoying it? That could
not be--that should not be. Better to renounce Rachel for ever in this
life, better even to kill her than that she should suffer such
desecration. He advanced a step, but seeing the girl blench and quiver
at his approach, he went back and remained motionless, his hand
resting on the tube of the telescope as the lamplight fell upon him, a
grim, central figure in the setting of that lonely tower room with the
encirclement of mountains and sky beyond.

As he stood arrested in this attitude, the head a little forward, the
frame inclining back, he was himself intensely conscious of the
warring of two souls in his breast, the raging fiend which would have
sprung forward and clasped the girl, willing or unwilling, in his
arms, and the real self of him that yearned to the poor victim with an
ineffable pity and tenderness. The man felt that by all the laws of
righteousness this real self should gain the victory. But how? In
battle, or in renunciation.

The quickened intuition of Marillier's soul told him that his own
love, single-pointed and pure as human love can be, must be more
powerful in essence than that of Caspar, in which ambition had
dominated even passion. And so it proved. The battle was verily to the
strong, and the God in man worsted the demon. In that combat of souls
the former master of that fleshly tenement was beaten, and for the
hour, at least, Marillier, the usurping occupant, held the citadel.

It could only have been during a minute or two that the death struggle
lasted, but to Marillier it seemed an eternity. Great drops stood out
upon his forehead when the crisis was passed, and the hand which had
merely rested upon the telescope when spirits, not bodies, fought, now
clung to it for support, as, shaken to the core, the man staggered
like one fainting or drunken, and would have fallen but for that prop.
Then, grasping the situation, spiritual and material, in one flash, as
the drowning man before the final wave overwhelms him, sees in an
instant the whole of his past life spread before him, Marillier
realised that the only end to his futile striving for the winning of
his heart's desire must be--renouncement.

He turned away from sight of that girlish form and sweet face which
had been his intensest joy and his most poignant pain, and, flinging
his arms over the tube of the instrument, dropped his head upon them
and sobbed like a child.

Rachel watched him as she still cowered against the wall, terror
giving place in her to pity, pity to self-reproach, and self-reproach
to the womanlike longing to atone for the sorrow she had caused. She
waited, but he gave no sign. Then she went hesitatingly towards him.
She thought he would have heard her footfall on the bare floor, but he
seemed too absorbed in his grief, for, even when she stood behind him,
he did not turn or lift his head. She laid her hand upon his bent
shoulder, and it went to her heart to feel the twitching of his body,
and to bear the sobs which shook him.

'Caspar!' she said. Her voice was very low, but, only yesterday, she
thought, he would have responded to her faintest murmur. Now he might
have been deaf And yet she was relieved to see that he did not turn
and take her in his arms, as she had half feared.

'Caspar,' she said again, and, bending more closely over him, drew her
hand softly from his shoulder to his neck, 'I cannot bear to see you
so unhappy...Husband--'

At the whispered word he winced. Memory stabbed him with it, and he
made a movement of withdrawal from her touch. Yes, he was her husband,
and, notwithstanding, he had no right to the name, no right to kiss
the sweet lips which faltered words of puzzlement and fear, and hope
and love.

'Oh! forgive me. I did not mean to hurt you. I don't understand why
you made me afraid. I could never fear you if you were always as I
know you best and love you to be--dear and good and kind. But
sometimes there comes a sudden strange look into your face, and your
manner changes--and your voice. It chills and frightens me, and I
cannot bear it...I cannot bear it. Caspar, you won't let yourself be
like that again? It will come right, won't it, and we shall be happy
once more?'

He lifted his head and looked at her, his face very grave, the mouth
twitching slightly, the eyes intensely tender, but sad as the eyes of
one who has looked on death.

'Yes,' he said quietly, 'it will come right, Rachel.

It must come right. I hope, I pray, I believe, that you will be happy

It deepened her remorse that he should say 'you,' not 'we.'

'I am not caring about myself only,' she answered. 'Do you think I
don't know how ill you have been? That is the cause of this trouble. I
was foolish and unkind not to remember it sooner. You will get better,
and by-and-by--I hope very soon--to-night will seem to us like a bad

'Yes,' he said again in the same quiet tone, 'by-and-by, Rachel, to-
night will seem to you like a bad dream.'

Again the exclusion of himself wrung her heart.

'Say you forgive me, Caspar. Tell me that you know I didn't mean to
hurt you. I am so miserable at the thought of it. Only say that you
forgive me.'

He took her hands in his and answered solemnly,---

'My dear, I know that there has been no thought in your heart about me
not wholly true and tender. I deserve your pity--grant it to me. But
there is nothing for me to forgive. If there were, I would forgive it
absolutely, but there is not, It is I who from the depths of my soul
ask pardon of you, my saint--my angel--love.

Deeply moved, she held his hands against her bosom.

'Won't you--won't you kiss me, Caspar?'

He withdrew his hands and gently placed them upon her head as though
in benediction; then he bent down and reverentially kissed her

'May Heaven bless and protect you, my beloved.'

She broke down completely, and with her head upon his shoulder wept
the first natural tears she had shed that evening. He soothed her as
her mother might have done.

'Dear child, you are tired and overwrought, and I must again be your
doctor and prescribe bromide to ensure you a good night's sleep. Come,
you are shivering still, and no wonder, for the wind is very cold;
and, though we are in Algeria, remember it is winter. Let me take you
down to your room and I will send your maid to you. To-morrow morning
you will be your bright, happy self again.'

Reassured by his manner, she laughed tremulously, and they went down
the stairs together.


It was Marillier this time who walked first, leading her by the hand
down the steep steps. On the landing outside her room he was about to
leave her, but at that moment the maid appeared in the lighted
doorway, and inquired if her mistress would now retire.

'Presently, Christine--wait for me.'

The maid re-entered, half closing the door.

You will not forget my prescription,' he said.

'But I have no bromide. Nurse Dalison keeps it, and I should not like
to disturb her. Besides she--' Rachel hesitated. 'She would not

'True,' he answered, 'and it would be a pity to disturb her. I will
mix the draught myself--I have a medicine chest with me--and will
bring it up presently and give it to Christine for you. Don't be
nervous, my child. I know something of drugs, and you may take my word
that it will make you sleep peacefully.'

He left her, and she listened to his footstep as it sounded on the
stone stair, then went into her chamber and bade Christine hasten with
her preparations for the night.

The maid was a sensible and sympathetic girl. She saw that her lady
was tired and a little excited, and to Christine this seemed quite
natural and attributable to the effect of her surroundings. This
strange old chteau in which, as was already known among the little
suite, mademoiselle's--or 'madame's'--mother had died, and the odd
life at the Embassy, the engagement to Ruel Bey--the hurried
marriage,. which, though ostensibly a secret, was none from the
personal attendants of the two concerned--the mandate of the Emperor
of Abaria--a portentous power in the background which conjured up in
Christine's mind visions of Eastern atrocities, fierce Moslems and the
bowstring--all this had been somewhat upsetting to the simple
Provenal maid.

'a me donne sur les nerfs,' she had complained pathetically to the
valet of Ruel Bey. What wonder then that her mistress's nerves should
be strained almost to breaking.

So she asked no questions beyond the range of her duty, and made no
comments except that it was evident that mademoiselle was fatigued and
not equal to a serious hair brushing, which could be better done in
the morning. So the brown coils were merely unbound, and presently
Rachel was nestling in bed, and Christine with a 'Bonne nuit,
mademoiselle,' had departed, no word having been said by Rachel to
retain her.

Meanwhile Marillier, in his own room below, had first sent away his
man who was waiting there, and then unlocked a small medicine chest he
always carried in his travels, though he had been careful not to
entrust the key of it to the valet who had been Ruel Bey's servant,
and who might have wondered at so unusual an adjunct to his master's
luggage. It took Marillier a little while to weigh the powders and
prepare the draught, for in the confusion of his mental faculties he
had need to be specially careful and deliberate in mixing the
ingredients. The dose was more complicated than he had led Rachel to
suppose, and he made it as strong as might be to guard against any
failure in its action.

At last it was ready, and he carried it up the tower stairs to
Rachel's room.

The door was ajar, and he waited in the opening, expecting the maid to
come and take the draught. But there was no sound of movement within,
and he knocked softly. Rachel's voice replied,---

'Won't you come in and give it to me? Christine has gone.'

The man braced himself and crossed the threshold of that sanctuary
which conscience had forbidden him to enter. But it was with no thrill
of happy anticipation such as he had dreamed of lately. He walked
across the room as a doctor might have done, bidden to the bedside of
a patient, and went straight up to the bed, the glass containing the
opiate in his hand. Rachel was lying raised upon the pillows, a soft
flush upon her cheek, the brown hair a disordered mass around her. She
put out her hand for the medicine and he gave it to her, bidding her
swallow it slowly, and not mind if it tasted bitter.

She looked at the draught before putting it to her lips. Her agitation
had subsided; she was quiet and gravely sweet, the old childlike trust
in her eyes as she lifted them to his face.

'Is this my magic potion?' she asked with a smile, and drank it as he
had directed.

'It is bitter,' she said between the gulps, 'not quite like Nurse
Dalison's bromide. But I am sure that you know what is best for me.
You do sometimes seem to me half a doctor, Caspar.'

'Do I? This will make you sleep, dear, perhaps better than the
bromide.' He took the glass and put it on the table beside her where a
candle in a quaint brass candlestick was burning.

'Does this worry you? Shall I put it out?'

'Yes. There's a night-light, and there's the fire.'

He covered the wick with the extinguisher. The room seemed now filled
with shadows cast by the dim flame of the night-lamp and the
flickering firelight. He was turning to go.

'Good-night, my dear. You are quite safe now.'

But she put out her hand and took his.

'Won't you stay a minute or two? I think I shall go to sleep sooner if
you do.'

He was standing by the bedside looking down upon her. His fingers,
clasping her hand, strayed with professional instinct to her pulse,
and its quick fluttering told him that she still needed calming.

'Very well,' he said. 'But you must not talk. I will sit beside you
until you go to sleep, if you will close your eyes and compose

He took a low chair beside the bed, and obedient as a child she turned
upon the pillow, her face towards him; and, still holding his hand,
closed her eyes. Her confidence brought home to him the truth that her
dread had been due, not to his own nature, but to the spirit that
warred with it. Could he, as Lucien Marillier, have won her love, this
was the heavenly trust his wife would have given him. He had seen an
hour since, in the tower, what she would have become as the wife of
Caspar Ruel.

He sat by her side in the dimness and stillness of the room, his left
hand in hers, his right shading his brow as he gazed upon her tranquil
face--tranquil because she again knew herself to be safe in his care.
Wild thoughts rose, but were not given rest in his mind. He would not
permit himself to think of the place and the hour, of the fact that
there was scarcely a soul stirring in the chteau, and that he was
here alone, admitted for the first time into his wife's chamber--his
wife, yet never to be his wife. He dared not dwell upon the unfamiliar
charm of the room. He dared only look upon her pure face, which
anchored him to his righteous resolution. The atmosphere, which seemed
especially her own, soothed his nerves; the sense that he was on holy
ground steadied his tumultuous fancies.

Presently he tried to draw his hand from Rachel's, thinking she was
asleep, but instantly her fingers closed round his.

'Don't go yet,' she murmured drowsily. 'I shall be kept awake if you
leave me.'

'No, my dear,' he answered. 'I said that I would stay with you till
you were asleep, and I will not leave you until then.'

She lifted his hand, and he felt her lips upon it as she folded it
between her own upon her breast. His simple words, the assurance that
he would do as he had promised, satisfied her completely, and she
settled peacefully into slumber. When her deep regular breathing made
him certain of this, he slipped his hand carefully from within hers,
and stood for a minute or two beside the bed, taking his last look at
her as his wife--a yearning, compassionate look of farewell.

As she lay back, pure and pale, for the flush had died down, the brown
eyelashes showing a dusky line upon her cheek, the lips slightly
parted, a gleam of white between the red curves, her hands crossed on
the girlish bosom, she might, he thought, have been the model of some
pictured saint. He stooped, pressed one kiss upon the coverlet, and
softly crept away.

He passed down the stair and through the lower room and the salon
where they had dined. Here one lamp was burning, making eccentric
shadows round the chairs and the carved bosses on the ceiling and door
frames. The place was deserted, yet it seemed to his excited fancy
full of invisible presences--ghosts of the dead men and women who had
lived and loved and suffered within these walls. As he himself moved
noiselessly over the thick carpet, he might himself have been one of
the ghosts with which his imagination peopled the building. He walked
slowly, like a man in a somnambulistic state, yet his brain felt
curiously, painfully active. The creaking of a great oak press when he
passed it, struck his ear ominously. As he went by the door of Nurse
Dalison's room, he could tell by her breathing that she lay wrapped in
slumber. The duties of the day over, the somewhat perfunctory sympathy
given forth, she might now, he thought, with a touch of humour, permit
herself a natural self-absorption and dream her own dreams of
happiness and good fortune, unaffected by wraiths of the past or
tragedies of the present.

Marillier, on going up with Rachel's potion, had left the door of his
room ajar and a light burning on the table. He entered now, carefully
closing the door behind him. Advancing to the middle of the room, he
stood motionless, his arms lifted and his fingers tightly pressed upon
his temples. Here, in the solitude of his chamber, the dream mask fell
from him, and he understood the world, life, himself, the grim tangle
of his situation as they were in reality. So overpowering was the
revelation that at first he could not steady his senses, and the room
seemed to be rocking beneath him. He had the feeling of standing
deserted upon a battlefield whereon his dearest had fallen, the fight
over, and the outside world left desolate for him, to be faced with
maimed limbs and a bleeding heart. He thought of the dead Pacha, of
whose phantom presence he had seemed to be conscious on the tower
stair and in the empty dining-hall, and wished that it might be
possible for him to hold converse with Isdas in this strait for which
the old man was partly responsible. Only it was not so much for the
Ambassador, the cynical rou, that he longed, but for Count Varenzi,
the middle-aged man with the young heart, whom Armand had described,
and who had buried his romance in Rachel O'Hara's grave.

Varenzi had slept in this very room, had lain in that great
funereally-draped bed, had risen from it in his agony of despair to
wander forth into the mountains where he had found the mandrake, and
had then ceased to be Varenzi. The youth, the humanity, the capacity
to love of Varenzi, had been lost, absorbed into that devilish root,
and by some extraordinary metamorphosis Isdas Pacha had flourished in
his stead. There was not even a ghost of Varenzi to return to his
former dwelling, which seemed in truth to resemble a mausoleum of dead

And for the Pacha--could his spirit revisit the place which had known
his earlier self, his was not the aid which could succour Marillier
now. What sympathy could Isdas have with such emotions as were
racking Marillier's soul?

The man's thoughts went back to those talks with the dying Ambassador,
which had so impressed him. He seemed to hear again the trenchant
tones in their fitful force, as the voice of one speaking from
heights, only to be climbed by rugged steps of pain--heights whence
the Promised Land of spiritual knowledge might be viewed. The Pacha
had not seen that promised land, for his eyes were darkened. Though he
had called man a demi-god, he had believed and had realised it
himself, that man's opportunities are limited by time, that finality
is shown in all things manifested, and that Death is lord of the

But Marillier had learned that there was no such thing as death. There
lay the Beyond, unknown, untrodden, but an absolute reality. And in
face of this reality, the Pacha's philosophy remained incomplete. Yet
certain words of his rang in his ears, like those of some seer of
olden time commissioned to deliver truths which he had himself hardly
grasped...'If I had known a few years sooner all that I now know of
the forces in Man and Nature, I would have concentrated my vital
energy, not upon my desire, but upon the cultivation of will-strength,
by which I might have everlastingly secured it. Had I conquered my own
weakness, and turned love from my tyrant to my slave...I might have
drunk of immortality...In subordinating Desire to Will I should have
gained both, and the fleshly union would have become the eternal
blending of spirit.'

Marillier felt that he had fatally missed the spiritual meaning of the
old man's saying. The Pacha had spoken of human opportunities, and had
conveyed that opportunity, according to a law of Nature, is always
offered to those on the verge of knowledge; offered--but perchance
only once. If the opportunity be not rightly used, it may never be
permitted to return. The just Arbiter of human destinies had granted
him his opportunity. The fact that he had been able to project his
will with force sufficient to accomplish a seeming miracle, showed
that he had been ripe for the giving. But--How had he acquitted
himself? Had he passed unscathed through the temptation. Had selfless
motive conquered, or had personal desire proved the strongest?

His conscience answered.

How then to win again that which had been lost? How to gain, in that
dim and distant Beyond, the joy he was now compelled to forego? How to
act so that the awful responsibility he had taken upon himself should
be faithfully discharged--that atonement might be made to the
wandering spirit unrighteously banished, and that the woman whose life
was in his keeping might be held inviolate, and yet spared the anguish
of a double disillusionment?

It was a problem that baffled him. At this moment the man felt there
could be no hope for him in the material or the spiritual world. He
must run his course alone, unadvised and unassisted. Alone, he must
decide his future path, and alone must he traverse its dreary length.
There was only one decision; there could be only one road, and the
name of its goal had been ringing in his ears since he had left the

He did not know how he should reach this goal. The battle itself had
seemed less difficult, for, though lost, he knew it won. He had, as it
were, sacrificed his life that he might gain his soul. The material
crown of the conqueror was not the thing he coveted. In defeat lay his
hope of lasting victory, and this victory for himself meant safety for
Rachel. Whatever came, he must always protect her. He was determined,
if it were best for her, to acknowledge her outwardly as his wife.
This he would do; he would not play the coward; but to attempt again
the ratification of the bond--that he would not. Henceforth, till
their lives' end, Rachel should be sacred to him as a cloistered nun;
and surely in that sanctity would be his best chance of preserving to
her the tender friend, the considerate guardian, who had won her
affection, and whom she so sorely needed.

A great temptation assailed him to fling down all disguises and own
himself to the world, to the Emperor, to Rachel, as a thief and
impostor. He knew that there would be immense relief for him in such
casting away of sham, and he felt, too, that this might be a surer way
than any other of counteracting the dead Caspar's evil designs. But to
this, there came the objection that in so doing he would deprive the
woman he loved of her only protector.

Then his thought moved slowly, painfully, along to a conclusion. The
world could never know the truth--for one thing, it Would he incapable
of understanding it. The garment of flesh he had stolen must be worn
while he lived, in silence and in shame. Never could he stand honestly
confessed before his fellow-men. But Rachel? Need he abide beside her
always an impostor--a husband, yet no husband, with the choice, as
years went on, of losing even her confidence through the false
position in which he must stand, or else of incurring her hatred,
perhaps of goading her to self-destruction by the recurrence of such a
scene as that which they had gone through in the tower? Would it not
be better, kinder, to tell her all, and let her decide for herself
whether or not she would leave him and throw herself upon the
protection of her father--though in that case it might be to rush on
the fate from which her mother had wished to save her. For who could
say what might be the Emperor's will concerning her, or what change in
the character of Abdullulah Zobeir years of despotism might have

So, balancing possibilities dare he tell her? It was not the pain to
himself which his confession would cause that troubled him, but the
effect on her. Then the warm realisation of her love, not for the man
Caspar Ruel, but for the man Lucien Marillier, flooded his being, and
brought the sustaining belief that she would understand though the
world would not, that she would forgive and trust him still, and that
therein might lie the solution of that problem of the future which was
so perplexing him. And were she to turn from him in scorn and
indignation for the wrong be had committed, that, too, would be a
solution, and he would bear his punishment Yes, the conviction was
strengthening in his mind to certainty--Rachel ought to know: it was
her right to know. The more was it her due because he felt her to be a
part of himself, the innermost core of his heart, the half of his
soul. This had been borne in upon him when they had stood breast to
breast in the little tower room--when he had dreamed of speeding with
her to some heavenly star, the two beings blended in blissful unity.

But how could he have imagined that either ethereal or material
oneness would have been possible with that unacknowledged deception
between them? Falsity! Falsity! He had been false all through. False
to his cousin; false to his trust; false to his love; false to himself
The remembrance of that brief touch with the girl's pure soul seemed
as a star within him, a. tiny reflex of supreme truth shining faintly
on the first steps of the path that he must tread. Though it should
lead him by thorn-strewn ways that he knew not, and though it should
even separate him from Rachel, he would hesitate no longer.

From the instant that Marillier arrived at this decision he felt
himself strong for action. All this time he had been standing in the
same position, his head bent, his finger-tips pressed tightly upon his
temples. Presently he straightened himself, his hands dropped, and his
eyes wandered round the room. They fell upon the gold box in its case
which he had brought from his house in Harley Street. He had not been
thinking of the mandrake; now it seized his mind. He walked up to the
box, full of intense revulsion. He would be rid of the accursed thing,
whose magic had turned the pure-hearted Varenzi into a cynical
voluptuary, and himself into--yes, he must say it--a murderer. He put
his hand out with the intention of opening the box so that he might
look once more at the root before destroying it. He scarcely knew how
he should make away with it. His impulse had been to burn it, tear it
in pieces, throw it into the torrent at the foot of the cliff, but, as
his hand rested on the case, a new intention formed itself.
Renouncement meant little unless it included restitution. For a wrong
had been done to the mandrake also, and though he himself had not
sinned against the poor embryonic creature in dragging it from its
kindred and its native soil, it might be that he was sinning now in
not restoring it. He determined that he would replace the root.

It was hardly possible that he could discover the exact spot of ground
from which it had been torn, but perhaps on one of the spurs of Khayal
he might find some soil in which it would again flourish. He sat down
and tried with a great effort of memory to recall the exact words in
which Isdas had described his wanderings and the place where he had
plucked the mandrake. Marillier hoped that he might thus gain some
clue which would aid him in performing his pious duty to the insane


It was late the next morning when Rachel awoke, calm, and refreshed by
sleep, and with the terrors of the previous evening partially effaced
from her mind by the remembrance of her lover's later care for her,
which had pleasantly haunted her dreams. A glow of sunshine filled the
room, and, as she lay musing, the fresh mountain breeze blew in
through an open window and shook the tattered curtains of striped
Algerian stuff. Sounds came up faintly from below, among them a
strange melodious cry which she had beard at sunset the day before,
and which she had been told was the muezzin's call from the distant
mosque. By some incongruous association she was reminded of the
Angelus at the convent, when she was simple Rachel Isdas, knowing
nothing of what the future might bring her. Thence, her thoughts
turned to the man whom she had supposed to be her only relative,
apparently so devoid of human sympathies, yet in reality seared by
sorrow, a perpetual mourner for the woman he had so madly loved. Her
heart softened as she remembered that poor mother of whom she was to
learn more to-day than she had ever known. Together, she and Caspar
would examine her mother's rooms, finding out what had been the dead
woman's tastes and occupations from the relics she had left, and which
the Pacha had guarded so jealously, though he himself had been unable
to bear the sight of them. Rachel fancied that they might enable her
to realise better that she had never been Rachel Isdas at all, but
that she was the daughter of Rachel O'Hara and the Emperor of Abaria.
The girl gave a little shudder. She felt thankful that she was
married, so that even the Emperor could not take her away from her
husband's protection. How truly protecting he had shown himself last
night, patiently soothing her silly fears. The chair was beside her
bed in which he had sat, and she blushed rosily at sight of it,
remembering how peacefully she had gone to sleep at last, with her
hand in his. It was almost impossible to believe that she had shrunk
at his touch only a little while before. The girl nearly persuaded
herself that the impression she retained of that interview in the
tower room, was the result of nightmare, so buoyant and healthful was
her waking state. Had she then in truth been a little hysterical the
night before? She knew that for some time she had felt ill-balanced
and emotional. No doubt her over-strained fancy had exaggerated a mere
passing mood in him, and, verily, was not the old tower weird enough
to account for any kind of nerve-excitation! Certainly she had been
foolish, carried beyond herself, quite capable of any absurdity. When
she remembered his sobbing fit, how completely he had been upset, and
his extreme gentleness and ready forgiveness of her contrariety, she
blamed herself bitterly. To-day she would atone for her unkindness as
far as she was able. Nothing should spoil their happiness. She would
show him that she was resolved to forget that painful scene, and help
him to do so too. Meanwhile, she would get up; it must be late.
Christine had evidently been at work, for the fire was alight and the
bath put ready. Rachel looked at her watch. At that moment the door
opened, and Christine appeared with her mistress's breakfast, and
there were exclamations and congratulations on mademoiselle's good
night and improved looks.

'I must dress quickly, Christine,' Rachel said. 'There is a great deal
to do to-day in looking over the castle, and Ruel Bey will be

'Ah! but does not mademoiselle know that Ruel Bey went out early this
morning before anyone else was astir. There is a letter on the tray
which he left for mademoiselle.'

Rachel's face changed with surprise and disappointment. She tore open
the letter, which was only a short one, written hurriedly.

'MY DEAREST,--I am obliged to leave you for a few hours on business
connected with a bequest to me from the Pacha. The matter is
imperative, and may detain me till evening. I grieve that we cannot
spend this day together as you planned. Forgive me and try to be happy
in your researches. On my return I will tell you everything.


The last word was written as with hesitation, and there was no other
signature Rachel could have cried like a child in her vexation.
Strange, she thought, that he had not mentioned this business before.
She supposed be had forgotten it, or was it possible that he had not
then known of it. It was all very puzzling and unsatisfactory. Well,
it could not be helped now, and she must make the best of her day
without him. After all, it might be possible to delay their departure
the next day long enough for her to show him the result of her

It was in a downcast mood that she joined Nurse Dalison, who was
waiting for her over a big fire in Varenzi's library, which, with its
heavy cedar ceiling and lining of bookshelves, was a less cheerful
place than the dining-hall, but, Nurse Dalison said, not quite so
draughty. Nurse Dalison related that she had explored a little on her
own account, and had found a sunny and fairly weeded bit of terrace
and some ancient garden chairs which she had made comfortable with
rugs and cushions; also a piece of carpet that Armand had laid on the
gravel for her feet. Here she meant to take her embroidery and a
novel, and to spend a warm lazy morning while the lovers amused
themselves in their own fashion. When Rachel told her tale of
disappointment, however, the good woman rose to the occasion, and
proposed that they two should make a journey of discovery through the
castle, only remarking pathetically that, being slightly rheumatic,
she trusted Rachel would not require her to go down into damp

While they were talking, old Armand came in, and with the air of a
seneschal, delivered his bunch of keys to the new chtelaine. Rachel
bade him conduct them round the building, open everything, and leave
them in the rooms which had been her mother's.

The old man obeyed, chattering over past times as he hobbled beside
them. He had been a servant in the family of General de Boissy-
Verneuil, and could point out the alterations--a door here, a window
there, a loggia out of keeping with the architecture which had
converted the old Moorish fortress-palace into a comparatively
suitable modern dwelling. Rachel was more than ever certain that once
free to leave Abaria, she would spend a good deal of time at Bab-el--

They passed by disused slaves' and servants' quarters; then back
through the entrance court and into a central summer court beyond,
which was covered by a huge trellis of Banksia roses and
bougainvillea--a gigantic arbour where the fountain played no longer,
its basin green with moss, and where unpruned shoots of the creepers
trailed to the ground. Rachel would have lingered here, but Nurse
Dalison shrank, apprehensive of insects and reptiles, and begged that
they might go on.

Out of this verdure-roofed court many doors opened, and here another
archway opened into the harem garden, accessible now from different
parts of the house. This, too, was a tangle of rank box and unclipped
foliage of orange branches interlacing, among which hung yellow fruit.
The air was almost oppressive from the scent of orange flowers. From
the harem enclosure, they passed by a modern door on to a terrace
stretching before an abutting wing of the castle, which Armand told
Rachel had been occupied by madame her mother, and contained the room
where she had been born. This terrace was in a state of utter
dilapidation; part of the parapet had fallen; the stone vases placed
at intervals along it, were broken by force of the roots of myrtle
shrubs, mostly withered now, that had been planted twenty-five years
ago, and the steps and coping stones were covered with lichen.

The garden beyond, which sloped down to the fortress wall, had the
appearance of a tropical jungle, for by Count Varenzi's orders the
trees or plants in it had not been touched since Rachel O'Hara had
last walked among them. Part of it had been planted with roses, and
here was a tangle like the rose-wilderness of Zola's romance. On the
unhealthy-looking palms great fronds hung down dead and broken, and
clusters of dates fell and rolled on the ground, there being no man to
gather them. This garden was both a tomb and a nursery of vegetation,
with flowers blooming rankly, and noxious weeds rising from the
decaying undergrowth and exhaling corruption. Nothing could be
imagined more dismal or more fascinating. Rachel thought she would
like to come here by herself and find the paths along which her mother
had walked; but Nurse Dalison cried out at the danger of miasma, and
the girl, plucking some sickly white roses which seemed flowers of
death, followed Armand through an entrance door, beside which were
tiled benches for slaves, into the modernised harem. Here, still, in
the tiny chambers, were raised platforms upon which the eunuchs had
once slept. Most of these were ante-chambers that had not been lived
in; but presently, with a certain solemnity, Armand opened the door of
a larger room, square, once a small inner court, with arches leading
into windowed recesses that looked out upon the terrace and garden.
Adjoining it was another room, long and narrow, and with the same deep
recesses, one of which made the alcove for a bed draped in rose-
coloured satin with a coverlet of rare embroidery, while another held
a sumptuously-furnished dressing-table with a mirror framed in silver,
and silver ewers, boxes, and toilet implements. Over the bed hung a
large crucifix, also of silver.

Rachel felt a lump rising in her throat; there was something
inexpressibly pathetic in the appearance of habitation, which, in a
cursory glance, the chamber still presented. One might at first have
fancied that it had only just been quitted by its occupant. A jewel
casket was open, some of the covers were off the boxes of pomade and
powder, and the stoppers out of the scent bottles. A lace-trimmed
peignoir was spread upon a chair, an embroidered slipper seemed to
have been carelessly dropped, a filmy handkerchief lay upon the ledge
of a prie-dieu beside a book of devotion. But the perfume and powder
had dried up, leaving a faint musty fragrance; the peignoir was yellow
with age, the little slipper was mouldering, and the gossamer
handkerchief might have fallen to pieces at a touch.

Rachel turned away, choked by a sob, and went back into the sitting-
room. Here, too, was the look of recent occupation. Armand explained
that the rooms were kept dusted and aired as far as was possible
without removing or displacing anything. All was as it had been on the
day when madame had been taken ill. Rachel asked no questions. She
felt that she must discover for herself what manner of woman her
mother had been--but not now--not till she was alone. Armand inquired
if it were the ladies' pleasure that djuner should be served at mid-
day, to which Nurse Dalison replied in the affirmative, and Armand
went away.

Nurse Dalison remarked that it must be nearly twelve o'clock already,
and that they would only just have time to look round this dear
romantic room. She put up her pince-nez and peered at the tiles and
embroideries and array of scimitars on the wall, and up at the
beautiful ribbed ceiling and round at the furniture and nick-nacks
which showed an odd variety of style and period--French eighteenth
century cabinets and escritoire, a few pieces of the First Empire, low
Turkish tables and divans covered with old embroidery; a finely-chased
Arab lamp hanging between the pillars of one archway; a paroquet in
modern porcelain swinging in a hoop from another.

A piano stood at an angle with one of the windows, and there was a
piece of music on the desk. A work-basket had a bit of half-finished
work, partly in, partly out. Dust had settled thickly on the cambric
and on the reels of cotton which might not be taken from their place.
There was a vase of mildewed roses on the writing-table, dry petals
strewing the blotting pad, and some flowering plants had died long
since in their pots. The Aubusson carpet looked faded and moth eaten,
and so did the velvet frames on a table by one of the divans, from
which the pictures were almost falling out. These represented an
oldish gentleman in flowered waistcoat and white lawn stock, and a
lady in a low velvet bodice cut into a point at the breast. Rachel
wondered if these could be portraits of her Irish grandfather and
grandmother, and whether Rachel O'Hara had carried them with her when
she fled from the Imperial palace. She was startled in these thoughts
by an exclamation from Nurse Dalison,---

'Dear Rachel, do come and look at this photograph. I can't help
thinking--yes, I am quite sure that it must have been Isdas Pacha
when he was a much younger man.'

There could be no doubt of the identity. The photograph was a large
half-length, taken in some official uniform, but without the fez in
which Rachel had been accustomed to see the Pacha. Marks of time and
climate were upon the picture, but it was only slightly blurred. The
face was that of a man in the prime of life; the fine features clearly
traceable as those of Isdas, though the well-knit frame had little
resemblance to the Ambassador's bowed form, and there were not the
deep lines round the eye-sockets, the tired droop of the lids, and the
hard, somewhat furtive gleam--which had given their peculiar character
to the Pacha's eyes. This man's gaze was steadfast, earnest, full of
hope and purpose; the expression of the face was grave, benevolent,
strong and kindly; and the firm lips, in spite of their masculine
determination, had in their gentle curves something of a woman's

'Who could have believed,' murmured Nurse Dalison, 'that the poor old
Pacha ever looked like this. But I always maintained--and I know
Doctor Marillier agreed with me--that there was a better heart
underneath that crusty outside than most people supposed. I can
understand now why it used to be said that he could make any woman
care for him.'

Rachel did not answer; her emotion was too keen for words. She walked
to the escritoire, where the ink in its bowl was dried to a powdery
film, and the pen in its pretty handle of mother--o'pearl and gold,
had become a shapeless mass of rust. There were drawers in the upper
part of the escritoire, and the girl opened them one by one, glancing
at their contents. These did not seem to be of much value. There were
no letters. Who should write to the poor prisoner in the harem, or the
fugitive who had buried herself among these Kabyle hills? Some sheets
of paper on which was writing, pointed and delicate, proved to be
gardening notes, reminiscences, maybe, of the Irish home, setting
forth the month in which various homely flowers should be sown;
flowers common to cottage gardens; and opposite them times in other
months, mostly of winter, to which in Algeria the season of planting
might presumably correspond. Evidently the poor lady had interested
herself in horticulture, and had no doubt found pleasure and
occupation in that tangled wilderness outside. She had been interested
in astronomy too, it seemed, for on some of the pieces of paper, other
notes were scribbled, relating to the rising and setting of planets,
and also some rough diagrams of constellations. One or two of these
had remarks appended in what Rachel knew had been the Pacha's

For the rest, the contents of the drawers were mere feminine trifles,
giving indications of a sweet womanly nature, but showing nothing of
the tragedy of Rachel O'Hara's life. The girl Rachel had been half
hoping, half fearing, that she might come across something connected
with her father, a bit of writing, a miniature, a memento of some
sort, which would give a clue to her mother's feelings towards the
Emperor. But there was nothing, no portrait, no object which could
possibly be associated with Abdullulah Zobeir. Apparently Count
Varenzi had at this time been the only living interest in the woman's
life. Rachel found nothing in the drawers of a private or personal
nature, till in the last one, she came upon a thin manuscript book,
the first pages of which were covered with her mother's writing. The
girl, glancing through them, found that the book was a sort of diary,
more of feelings than of events; only a slight record of the doings at
Bab-el-Khayalat running through long passages, in which the woman's
inner thoughts were revealed. On every page of the diary the name of
Varenzi constantly recurred.

Another appeal from Nurse Dalison made Rachel pause and hurriedly
thrust the book back into its drawer. Not under these conditions could
she read the outpourings of her mother's soul. For that she must be

'Have you found anything interesting, dear Rachel?' asked her
companion, and without waiting for a reply went on, 'I have been
looking over this bookcase, and have come to the conclusion that your
dear mother, or whoever collected the books--perhaps after all it was
one of the Boissy-Verneuils--must have been a romantic, cultivated and
highly religious woman. One can tell that by the marked bits. I wish
we were going to stay a little longer, so that I might have an
opportunity of reading them--that is if you would allow me. Here are
some biographies of saints that I've always wanted to study, and there
is a delightful French translation of Hafiz, and several others of
those dear Eastern people one knows nothing about. Do you think that
we shall come here again on our way back from Abaria?'

'I don't know--I hope we shall,' replied Rachel, dreamily.

Nurse Dalison turned at the sound of her voice.

'Dear Rachel,' she exclaimed, 'I really don't think you ought to stay
in this cold room any longer. You are quite pale, and I believe you
are shivering. If you have taken a chill, you ought to eat something
as soon as possible, and I am sure it must be luncheon-time by now. I
am famishing myself, and my rheumatic joints are aching. Let us go
back to the salon.'

Rachel acquiesced without demur, and as the two threaded again the
tortuous way they had come, Armand met them, announcing that dejeuner
was served. The girl was very silent during the meal, and Nurse
Dalison tactfully abstained from comment, attributing her depression
to concern at her husband's absence.

After lunch Nurse Dalison returned to her room for digestive repose,
recommending her friend to follow her example. But Rachel only waited
till the nurse, wrapped up warmly, was blinking over a novel, and then
went back again to the harem wing and to the perusal of her mother's


Rachel sat at the escritoire beneath one of the long, narrow windows
which she had contrived to open, so that the scent of roses floated in
upon her, and there, passed several hours, her head bent, her hand
supporting her cheek, absorbed in the close, delicate writing which
she had discovered. The journal must have been begun soon after Rachel
O'Hara's arrival at Bab-el--Khayalat. In the first entries in the book
there were traces of physical exhaustion and of mental reaction after
the effort of will which had sustained her flight, but the dominant
note of them was intense gratitude to the man who had rescued her, and
wonder, almost awe, at the unselfish devotion that had inspired his

'He says that he asks nothing of me,'--Rachel O'Hara wrote--'nothing
but acceptance of his service and permission to love me at the
distance which our circumstances compel...His goodness to me, the
tender forethought which he has shown in preparations for my comfort
here, are beyond all words. .

And then his chivalrous forbearance, his delicate sympathy when the
misery of these last two years rises and overwhelms me, and I am as
Saul, tormented, and can find no solace except in the old melodies of
my childhood which he loves to hear me sing...How can I express the
gratitude that I owe him?'

Then after some rhapsodic sentences of thankfulness for her escape
from a life she loathed came the following outburst:--'Had God
forsaken me when He permitted me to succumb to that overpowering
temptation of the lust of the eye and the pride of sovereignty? Fool
that I was to imagine that I, a weak, ignorant Irish girl, could
overthrow a social system and control such a nature as that of
Abdullulah Zobeir! Subtle, sensual, deadly in revenge, from the
beginning he was my tyrant, even when he adored me and called himself
my slave. Truly, when the doors of the Women's Palace closed upon me I
was as a child lured into the den of a monster, fascinated, but wholly
helpless...Oh! how well I remember...No, I cannot write of it. The
recollection sickens me...That I, Rachel O'Hara, the descendant of
pure-blooded, true-hearted Irish kings, should have become a Sultan's
odalisque! I wonder if my dead father and mother looking down from the
free heavens, saw their imprisoned daughter's shame...

'Yes, I was tempted, but not only by the prospect of power, by the
jewels, the pomp, the Eastern luxury, which appealed to one whose life
had been all grinding poverty--it was not only for the sake of these
things that I fell--Dead Sea fruit as they became. I was attracted by
the man himself--his handsome, weary face, his soft voice, and the
glamour of his whole personality. Emperor or not, Abdullulah Zobeir
has the gift of charm. It is no wonder that he can captivate romantic
women and secure the fidelity of brave men. Varenzi has loved him
almost as David loved Jonathan. Varenzi would even now, I verily
believe, lay down his life in the Emperor's defence. Varenzi has
dreamed of Abdullulah as a god-appointed instrument for the
regeneration of Abaria--of the whole East; the founder of a new
Caliphate; the later Prophet commissioned from on high to be the
people's saviour. Wild vision, but the motive, so far--till he first
met me--of all Varenzi's actions. Even still, I feel instinctively he
has not entirely awakened from his dream. Though he tells me that he
has resigned his post on the plea of family affairs requiring his
absence in Avaran for many months to come, I see that devotion to
Abaria--his adopted country, Catholic though he is--fills his heart,
and that he would continue to love and serve the Emperor if he could
reconcile patriotism with his love for me. For it is I who stand
between him and the allegiance he has sworn; it is I who have
destroyed his ambition, brought poison into his faith, and ruined his
career. I read this in the sadness of his eyes when he looks at me, in
his melancholy absorption in study and in the fits of restlessness
which he tries to overcome by hunting lions and panthers in the hills.
Would it not be far better were I to die, rather than live to be a
drag and a curse upon this noble nature? How could my devotion--if it
were within the bounds of possibility that I could love him as he
deserves and marry him perhaps, in the future--how could anything I
might give him counterbalance the misfortune I have brought upon this
man whose evil fate it is to love me too well?'

On the next page Rachel read:---

'I have opened my heart to Varenzi. I know now that my well-being is
dearer to him than that of Abaria, and that his love for me, barren as
it must seem to him, outweighs his devotion to the Emperor...I am
shamed by his disinterestedness...Had ever man so great a soul?'


'Varenzi has been less restless lately. He is occupied about my
garden. I have been describing to him the rosery in my Irish home. He
has sent for cuttings...

'A cartload of Parisian novelties has arrived. Who but he would have
remembered all the foolish fancies I ever expressed in his
hearing?...The swinging bird is too comical...

'He has persuaded me out of my silly terror of being seen and
recognised. We have driven to the outskirts of Milianah...'

Here and there in the diary, came pretty natural touches--the
description of a great thunderstorm, of a visitation of locusts, of an
excursion inland among the Kabyles, with quotations from Varenzi
concerning the antiquity of the race, and the traces still to be seen
of the worship of Melkarth, the Tyrian Venus. Now, such passages as
these showed a less morbid tone in the poor woman's regretful self-

'Varenzi advises me to read more, to occupy my mind with abstract
study, and so keep painful thoughts at bay. He has made me a
collection of French books from the library, and has sent to England
for some good novels and poetry. His own mind is in itself a library,
so varied is his knowledge on every subject. I did not know that he
was so learned, nor had I guessed that the religious sentiment in him
was so strong. Yesterday he read beautifully from the Penses of
Pascal, and afterwards he brought me the Memoirs of Madame de
Krdener, the Catholic mystic...To-day we sat on the terrace and I
read to him Pippa passes...The state of intellectual torpor into
which I had fallen is breaking. I begin to feel myself once again a
woman possessed of a mind, of resources within herself, capable of
reading the great book of Nature if I choose to learn its alphabet.
Varenzi is my teacher. He has been instructing me in astronomy;
telling me what is known of the planets, and pointing out to me the
different constellations. The other day he gave me a delightful
surprise in the shape of a large telescope which he ordered from
Paris, and has had fixed in the topmost room of the tower, in order
that we may study the heavens together on these glorious summer
evenings. He has not, I am sure, approved of my spending so much time
alone in the tower, though he did not like to invade my solitude
without a legitimate pretext. But he has one now in the telescope,
which seems, even in the daytime, to require much adjustment of
position and lenses.

'It has flashed into my mind that he is sometimes afraid I may destroy
myself. One evening, when we were standing on the parapet--he and I--
after a long silence, I turned and saw him watching my face with the
keenest anxiety; I felt then that he understood why I liked to be in
the tower. For as I stand on the parapet which hangs over the river a
thousand feet below, I know myself to be absolutely safe. Were
Abdullulah to discover my retreat, there would still be a certain
means of escape...'

Following this, the tone of the journal became less retrospective and
more devotional. It appeared greatly to distress the poor lady that
she was now unable to attend the Catholic chapel in the village, and
that the priest who visited her in the performance of his office, was
narrow--minded and illiterate, and incapable of understanding the
workings of her mind, widened by the influence of Varenzi, who, in
Rachel O'Hara's phrase, 'saw God in all creeds and beyond them.'

By and by came the lines:---

'I live altogether downstairs now. Varenzi has given up the stars in
order that he may sit with me in the evenings. Sometimes I sing to
him; more often he reads while I sew...

'Varenzi's tenderness grows every hour. He is to me father, brother
and husband all in one. Husband--have I written the word? Heaven
pardon me the hope which has lately come into my heart--the same which
I know dwells in his--of a fair future in which we shall be always
together, the hideous past wiped out and forgotten. For I love
him!...I must own it to myself---I love him...'

Now the last entry of all:---

'Varenzi has brought a most interesting Arab doctor to see me whose
skill and knowledge he tells me are marvellous, and far beyond those
of any European physician he has ever known. They call this man the
Medicine Moor...'

* * *

It was dark when Rachel finished the manuscript. She had found it
difficult to decipher the last words. During all these hours, she had
not moved from her place except to go for half an hour to the salon
when Nurse Dalison announced tea. She had not asked the nurse to go
back with her, but saying she had still papers of her mother's to go
over, had returned alone to the perusal of the journal. Now that it
was ended, she put away the book, and rising from the table, flung
herself on the divan near which was the Pacha's portrait, and where,
from the heaped-up cushions at one end, she fancied her mother must
often have lain.

The strange love story which after so many years had revealed itself
stirred her pity deeply for the two chiefly concerned in it, but she
felt also a curious compassion for her father, that gloomy, yet
fascinating personage, out of the picture, but always the centre of
the drama. It seemed to his daughter that he had been the victim of
his nationality, temperament and fatal position of sovereignty, which
had made him regard all women as instruments to his pleasure and
stifled the germ of pure passion which Rachel O'Hara had undoubtedly
inspired in him. Rachel recognised a certain similarity between her
own nature and experience and those of her mother. It was that Eastern
taint in the relations of man with woman which had at times repelled
her in the old Caspar; it was the all-protecting tenderness of the new
Caspar which had won her whole-souled love. She began to realise that
there were two beings in the man she had married--two men who
corresponded with those other two men by whom her mother's destiny had
been swayed. Rachel Isdas had been fascinated by the good looks and
charm of Ruel Bey, but had never wholly given her heart away till, in
his new character, he had won her trust as well as her love. So also
Rachel O'Hara had fallen under the glamour of Abdullulah Zobeir,
eventually learning to loathe the lord of the seraglio, and she had at
last been taught the true meaning of love by Varenzi's chivalrous
devotion. It had seemed hard at first to reconcile Varenzi of Bab-el-
Khayalat with the grim Pacha of the Abarian Embassy, but now it was
not so difficult. The pendulum swings and rebounds; iron glows in the
furnace, and at the shock of cold water is turned into steel; sunshine
fructifies the blossom, frost comes, blackening the fruit.

The pathos of the Pacha's cynical old age and lonely death returned to
Rachel with fresh force. Oh! if only she had known his story sooner;
if only she had gone sooner in her mother's name and had won her way
into his affections. But she remembered that would have been
impossible, for though her voice was the voice of Rachel O'Hara, her
eyes were the eyes of Abdullulah Zobeir.

And now she felt the personal sting of neglect, and bitterness rose
within her at the thought of how unwelcome she must have been to the
young mother who bore her. This was clear from the omission of any
definite mention of impending motherhood in Rachel's O'Hara's diary.
There was no suggestion of the natural joy of maternity. Could it be
that her mother had died hating her for being the Emperor's child. It
was cruel; it was unjust; and she could hardly believe this the fact.
The story which Manlier had heard from the Pacha; the emerald ring
upon her finger showed that Rachel O'Hara had felt some anxiety as to
her daughter's future, and had wished to guard her from that Eastern
system under which she had so sorely suffered.

Nurse Dalison's knock sounded at the closed door, and Rachel started
up, recalled to the present, her first thought of Caspar and her
disappointment apparent at sight of the tall thin figure dressed in a
tea-gown ready for dinner. She wondered how she could have forgotten
Caspar for so long. And why was he so late? Could any evil have
befallen him? Nurse Dalison had no news. Possibly Ruel Bey had gone to
Milianah, and might be waiting there for telegrams, for, in diplomatic
life, cipher telegrams were the explanation of everything out of the
ordinary course of things. Nobody could tell what news he might have
found at Milianah; they had seen no newspapers and had received no
letters since leaving Algiers. A war might have broken out, or a
crowned head might have died for all they could tell. Rachel might be
certain, however, that nothing unfortunate could happen to Ruel Bey.
His was a charmed life, and he had been born to good fortune.

So Nurse Dalison prattled on, soothing the deserted bride, whom she
led back to the warmth and brightness of the salon, and thence to the
tower bedroom, where a bright fire burned, and Christine was waiting
to dress her mistress for dinner.

The meal was put off for a little while, then, there being no sign of
Ruel Bey, Rachel at last ordered it to be served, and a portion kept
back till he should arrive.

The two women went through their cheerless repast, Rachel pale,
abstracted, looking in her white dress as though she had come out of
another world. This was indeed the case, for, in spite of her anxiety
about her husband, she could not rid herself of the impression her
mother's diary had made. She was silent, listening eagerly to every
sound that came from the courtyard outside. Nurse Dalison made a brave
effort at conversation, but it was with little effect, and even she
relapsed into gloom. They had just finished dinner when Marillier
staggered in; staggered, in the literal meaning of the word, for he
was too exhausted to stand upright. So pale and weary did he look as
he fell into a chair, that Rachel ran to him greatly alarmed. Had he
had an accident? Had he again hurt his head? She was sure something
was amiss. Would he not tell her, and let them send to the town to see
if there were a doctor? He stayed her with a motion of his hand.

'No, my dear, there has been no accident. I am quite well; only tired,
and wanting food.'

Rachel bade Armand bring dinner back immediately. He must eat it as he
was, she said, and she would wait upon him. Nurse Dalison poured out a
tumblerful of red wine, and made him drink it and eat a biscuit; then,
with her usual tact, went into the library, leaving husband and wife

His strength revived with the wine, and she brought him presently to
the table, and, dismissing Armand, waited upon him herself, as she had
said, watching the colour come back into his cheeks, and refraining
from questions till he had eaten and drunk. She said, at length, when
he seemed able to answer her,---

'You have something to tell me, Caspar?'

He bent his head in acquiescence.

'Yes, I have something to tell you--a great deal to tell you, Rachel.
You will need all your strength to bear it.'

'I knew,' she answered, 'that something serious was troubling you. But
don't think me weak, Caspar. I am strong enough to bear whatever you
have to say.'

He was looking at her with eyes that scarcely seemed to see her. She
leaned forward, gently stretching out her hand to him across the
table, as she had done on the evening before.

'You will remember that, will you not?' she persisted. 'Tell me all
you have to say without any fear. Perhaps I may be able to help you.
At least I can share your trouble.'

He got up then and drew back, until the chair he had sat in was
between them.

'That is just the thing,' he said slowly, 'you cannot share this
trouble, and I must tell you why.'

Rachel blanched, but answered bravely,---

'I can't agree with you, Caspar. Come what may, we shall share the
trouble. But tell me everything.'

He looked round the room with the air of a man driven against a wall.
He knew that the moment had come; he had believed himself strong, but
at the last, his courage was failing him. Yet he knew that this was
because physical weakness again overcame him. He steadied himself by
the back of the chair, and, clearing his throat, for his voice was
husky, he began to speak. At that moment, however, old Armand entered.
He had come to remove the things from the table. Should he wait
longer, he asked his mistress deferentially? Had monsieur finished?

'Yes, monsieur has finished--but--'

Rachel stopped. She did not want their privacy invaded, nor did she
wish to call the servants' attention to special need for guarding it.
Her thoughts moved quickly. Nurse Dalison was in the library. Should
she take him to her mother's sitting-room? No; Rachel shrank from
bringing grief and perplexities of to-day into that sanctuary of
bygone love arid sorrow. There remained only the tower room where they
would not again be interrupted. She took her resolve.

'Is the lamp lighted in the observatory, Armand?' she inquired.

The old man told her that he had just lighted it.

'Come, Caspar,' she said to her husband, 'we will go upstairs. I want
to see the stars again.'

'Mademoiselle will see something of rough weather from the tower to-
night,' said Armand. 'The wind is getting up, and mademoiselle may
have heard that when Khayal is grey like a ghost at sunset, it means
that there will be a storm. Perhaps mademoiselle did not observe that
Khayal was livid as the corpse of a mountain this evening. It is a
saying in these parts,' and the old man nodded impressively. 'But
mademoiselle need not be alarmed,' he added. 'The thunderstorm will be
nothing to tremble at. It is a prodigy when that happens in winter.
There will not be many stars, but the wind is driving the clouds and
the moon has just risen.'

Rachel hardly heard what he said, nor did Marillier. She had turned to
the door, and he followed her blindly as she led the way through the
corridor to the lower room of the tower. Then he realised where she
was taking him.

'Rachel!' he exclaimed in a choked voice; 'not up there! You cannot go
up there again.'

'Yes, there,' she replied. They had reached the foot of the stairs,
and she turned and faced him standing a step above him.

'You think that I will not go up to the observatory, my Caspar,
because of last night,' she went on. 'That is exactly the reason why I
wish to go--to prove to you that where you are concerned I am
determined to fear nothing; to make you understand that no power,
living or dead, can alter my love, or separate me from you. Come;

Living or dead! Why had she said those words. His heart quailed; the
utterance seemed fateful. And she had spoken in all ignorance. She was
thinking of the living Emperor, the dead Pacha---those two powers the
only ones she fancied able to come between her and the man she loved.

'Come, Caspar,' she repeated.

He made no further opposition; in truth he had not the strength to do
so. He felt a strange weakness and lack of vitality, and it was with
difficulty, and only by holding on to the stone moulding on either
side of the wall, that he pulled himself up the steep staircase.


When some sixteen hours earlier Marillier started on his search for
the mandrake's land, the young moon, so suggestive to him of Rachel's
pure loveliness, had sunk behind the distant range of the Djurdjuras,
and stormy clouds obscuring the stars made the night a heavy
blackness. It seemed to him that the darkness overhanging the world
was in accordance with the gloom which had fallen upon his own life.
The moon had sunk and Rachel was lost to him.

He stole out of the castle by a side door that he had observed leading
to the garden from the outer court, avoiding the principal entrance,
where he knew that he must be checked by manifold bars and bolts. A
lamp which had been left lighted in one of the corridors shed a
glimmering ray across the square enclosure which, full as it seemed to
Marillier of shadows and whispering sounds, gave him again an
impression of ghostly occupancy.

The leaves rustled in the harem garden, and the scent of orange
blossom was borne in to his nostrils, mingling with the fainter odours
of the creepers overhead. Trailing shoots of the bougainvillea swayed
in the night breeze, and a branch of Banksia roses struck him, the
clusters of blossom making a scented rain upon his face. As the
delicate petals brushed his cheek their softness and fragrance again
reminded him of Rachel, and brought back the intoxicating memory of
her kisses. But he would not let his courage be overcome by such
fancies, and bracing himself anew, he passed out into the night.

Thrusting his arms before him to feel his way among the walls and
pillars of the open courts, he at length reached the garden, and after
carefully stepping from terrace to terrace, dropped down the low wall
at the bottom and found himself upon the ramparts. Here, too, he was
obliged to tread cautiously, and cling to the garden wall, for the
paved ledge took curves and angles, and in places was broken away, and
he knew that death lay in the black chasm which yawned below. A rift
in the clouds showed him the tower dimly rising to his left, a dark
shapeless mass immediately above him, which he succeeded in skirting.
Further on towards the town, the rampart line projected in a wide
semi-circle and then dropped down. A flight of steps led up from it to
the platform near the castle gates, where they had seen Arabs drinking
coffee; while the fortifications descending, and apparently making a
double line, curved again inward, and he was brought to a stop by what
he supposed to be the face of the precipice. He could feel that here
the parapet was again broken, or had purposely been left incomplete.
He had a vague recollection of having noticed, while driving, a steep
zigzag drawn on the cliff, and guessed that this might be the point
from which some path led down to the bed of the gorge.

Now he found himself for the time confronted by an insuperable
difficulty. He had brought with him a compass, and, written on his
mind, it seemed to him indelibly, were the words in which the Pacha
had described his memorable excursion. But compass or directions
availed him nothing in this gloom. He looked down into impenetrable
blackness. Far below, through the silence of the night, he could hear
the torrent roaring and rumbling at the foot of Khayal. Before him, a
denser darkness than that at his feet, rose the grim walls of the
mountain itself, seeming in his fancy like some gigantic mythologic
monster, endowed with supernatural intelligence, and set to guard the
mandrake land, that mysterious region to which he must penetrate
before he could replace the root that had wrought him so much ill. And
yet, notwithstanding all the evil, he thought, had it not brought him
a taste of Paradise which, till his dying hour, could never be

At first, the hopelessness of his quest dismayed him. He felt that it
would be impossible to cross that gorge, to scale that mountain side.
And even supposing that he could do so, what awaited him? A trackless
waste of forest and rock where it would be futile to attempt finding
the spot in which the family of mandrakes had their habitation. For he
knew it to be one of the human characteristics of the root not to grow
alone, or in scattered clumps, but to establish a colony in one
especial place, leaving the rest of the district barren of its kind.
Marillier stood hesitating whether to proceed with the search or to
abandon it. One false step forward, and he himself would be plunged
into those Immensities of which the Pacha had spoken, and though he
did not fear death, for Rachel's sake he dared not risk it.

So he stood uncertain. Again there came a gleam of starlight. Away to
the left he could faintly discern the white road rounding the gorge,
along which they had driven that afternoon. That road, were he to
follow it, would ultimately lead him nearer to Mount Khayal, for it
was usually chosen by tourists, mountaineers, and hunters of big game
as the easiest point from which to begin the ascent. But would that
help him? The road was long. It had seemed interminable that afternoon
when they had traversed it, buoyed up by anticipation, cheered by each
other's company, and looking forward pleasantly to their destination.
How much longer it would seem now in the darkness. And he doubted
whether it would not take him further away still from the goal he
wished to gain.

Marillier cursed his impulsiveness in not having waited for the dawn
to take his bearings with such exactitude as might be possible. Then,
at anyrate, he would have had some light to guide him. He might have
set forth at sunrise and still possibly have got back in time to go
over part of the castle with Rachel. But first it had seemed to him
that the act of restitution must be performed without delay, and he
had feared to let himself pause lest he should be tempted to
relinquish the expedition, fraught with difficulty, and half hopeless
as it was. Perhaps this lurking dread in his mind made him unwilling
to retrace his steps in order to await the light of morning. Rather,
he would await it here.

He sat down on the edge of the rampart beneath Khyal's great hump
that loomed just in front of him, alone, with only the roar of the
torrent below him to break the silence. The lamps in the little native
town had been put out; there were no lights to be seen on the minarets
of the mosque, but he could perceive like flickering glow-worms the
tiny oil lamps burning on the graves of the faithful in the Moslem
cemetery which stretched down the hillside. Only a few stars shone
clearly overhead in a broad blue track where the clouds had parted--
Sirius and Orion and the soft pure glow of Venus near her setting. By
this pale illumination he could see the leather case which contained
the golden casket of the mandrake that he had brought with him, and
had placed at his side on the broken stones of the parapet. It seemed
to him that in this box he had been carrying a live thing, or, at
least, a creature which had once been living and should now receive
burial. He shrank from the case as he would have shrunk from a coffin
which held the remains of a dead enemy, sitting beside it through the
hours that followed as a watcher might sit by a corpse.

His body was bent forward, his limbs drooping flaccidly, his elbows
resting upon his knees, his head upon his hands. The silence of the
night soothed his tortured spirit; he felt in those desolate hours
that he could have borne no other sound than that of the distant
torrent. It was as though his soul were wandering through abysses deep
and dark as the gorge below, its only light the beacon blaze of the
star of renunciation within his breast, the effulgence that arose from
slain desire.

When at length the first silver streak of dawn gleamed behind Mount
Khyal, he raised his head thankfully. Not only was that faint
radiance the herald of day, but the herald also of his soul's
emergence from murk as of Hades.

As the pale luminosity expanded, Khyal, Mount of Ghosts, reared
against it, appeared more monstrous still, and more unearthly. In that
solemn hush of daybreak, Nature held herself in readiness to greet her
lord. Now in the far East there shone a soft streak of golden light;
the edges of the broken clouds caught its glow, one by one, in faint
lines and patches that deepened and spread, till all the purple masses
became a wonderful bluish pink like flames bursting through billows of
smoke. Floating cloudlets above Khyal were etherealised and
metamorphosed into air-spirits acclaiming the sun. Then the Ghost
Mountain gave her welcome, the pink flush on her dark front spreading
down the upper precipice and along the pine forest to her rocky base.

There arose a soft murmuring in the air, faint chirpings and
twitterings and stirrings as the birds awoke to swell the greeting,
and the fiercer creatures of the forest slipped silently away to their
lairs. No sign of human life came yet from the native town, or the
castle on the hillside. Nature only broke the solitude, a solitude in
which the man, alone of his kind, felt at once his own significance
and his own greatness; solitude in which it seemed to him that Khyal,
custodian of Nature's secrets, was no longer a grim sentinel, barring
approach to the forbidden home of the mandrakes, her helpless
embryonic children, but a pleader that the half-human creature the
mysterious link between man and vegetable, might be restored to its
own place and its appointed order in the scheme of evolution.

Khyal no longer forbade; she beckoned; she bade Marillier come. High
behind her, the rose--gold clouds parted, and a shaft tipped with
flame sped down and cast a halo round her. Fiery lights sprang up on
all the eastern horizon, and before them, the paling stars crept
tremblingly away. From far-off worlds beyond that golden veil, the sun
rode forth.

Marillier waited until the mountainside was illuminated by the orb's
splendour. He had yearned in the darkness for that gleam of warmth and
glory. Now, it encouraged him to begin his difficult and painful
descent into the gorge.

As he had suspected, the zigzag path started from this curve of the
ramparts, and led tortuously down the cliff. He followed it warily,
placing his feet with great precision, and clinging with one hand at
first to projections upon the precipice and to creepers growing in its
fissures; then, where the ground sloped a little, to great scarred
boulders that might have been hurled there in some pre-historic
convulsion, so strangely were they shaped and so unexpected their
position. The descent was long and no easy matter, impeded as he was
by the case holding the mandrake, and he regretted his want of
forethought in not having provided himself with a strap by which he
might have slung it across his shoulders.

Nearer the bottom of the gorge, where soil had gathered and was
overhung by sheltering rocks, vegetation was rank, and the air was
heavy with its exhalations. Deep in the shadows among thick leaves of
a pale green, bloomed lurid-looking flowers, a splash of bright orange
or vivid crimson showing out as he approached. Curious rock lilies
they seemed, uncannily striped, with weird heads resembling certain
orchids he remembered having seen in English hot-houses. They nodded
and seemed to gibe at him as the wind stirred them. A sudden gust
swept down the gorge and whistled past him as he went on. Had it been
in his face it might have given him fresh life, but coming from above
and whirling by with a shriek and an eddying in the air, he could
fancy that the wild spirits of morning were driving him on and
laughing at his slowness.

On, on, into the bowels of the earth it seemed, so high rose the walls
of rock on either side of him. Enormous boulders, cloven and slanting
apart so that in places he could pass through them, and charred by the
action of volcanic fires, choked the bed of the ravine. Pools of
stagnant water had gathered in the hollows where the stream had
overflowed and subsided, and the ground oozed beneath his tread.
Noxious plants grew in clumps in the moist places--plants he had never
seen before, with succulent stems and pale mottled leaves from which
an ill-smelling slime exuded. Grey mist crept up round him--thick
miasmic vapour not yet dispelled by the sun's rays here in this deep
valley, but which was beginning to rise in light wreaths upon the
mountainside. It filled his nostrils and impeded his breathing, and to
it he attributed the weariness of body that weighted him, and with
which he had to fight continually as he proceeded.

The zigzag terminated in a rough bridge of boulders across the bottom
of the gorge and was carried on upon the other side, where, as it
climbed up the rocky height to the zone of forest which girdled the
mountain, it looked more perilous than even that by which he had come.
Marillier longed more than ever for a strap with which to bind his box
upon his back, or even for a stout staff to support his steps, but he
had neither.

The stones forming the bridge lay loosely at irregular intervals
across the bed of the stream---great stepping-stones, over some of
which the torrent dashed. Marillier wondered whether Nature or the
hand of man had laid them. Doubtless, they had been swept down over a
cascade higher up the gorge which made the roaring he had heard on the
ramparts, and which now deafened him to every other sound. A difficult
transit it would have been to an unencumbered man; as it was, to
Marilher it appeared well-nigh impracticable. But he did not hesitate.
The wanderings of his younger days had accustomed him to rough places.
Sitting down for a moment at the edge of the stream, he took off his
shoes and tied them by their laces round his neck. His socks he thrust
into one of his coat pockets, and then turning up his trousers at the
bottom, he started upon his dangerous passage. A slip of the foot and
he might have been carried down by the current into one of the eddying
whirlpools which formed at every bend of the stream. He found the
task, however, easier than he had anticipated. Perhaps it was his
determination to cross the gorge at any cost which buoyed him up and
enabled him to poise himself successfully on one stone after another,
clinging with his bare feet where it would have been impossible for an
ordinarily shod man to find a footing. How he got over, he could not
afterwards imagine. He did not pause either to think or to balance
himself a second longer than was necessary. It took but a short time,
and soon he was standing upon the farther side immediately beneath the
wall of great Khayal. Here he sat down on a patch of the dryest ground
he could find and put on his socks and shoes. Then he began the upward

Arduous indeed he found it. The rocky base of the mountain on this
side was even steeper than the cliff he had descended, and it seemed
to him much higher. Here, too, a goat track led giddily in tortuous
lines up the face of the precipice. He had seen from his observation
of the mountain on the previous day that above the precipice and
extending to the foot of the hump, which again seemed formed of almost
naked rock, a vast pine forest spread, intersected by ravines and with
rocky excrescences jutting out here and there, making light grey
patches among the dark green. Marillier knew not what danger of wild
beasts might lurk in the forest; but to this he had paid no heed,
beyond taking the caution of placing a loaded revolver in his breast

From indications in the Pacha's story he understood that it would not
be necessary to climb the mountains to any height. The Pacha had
spoken, he remembered, of rounding the middle of Khyal and of her
crest behind him as he faced the mandrake land. It was probable that
the Pacha had followed this same goat track; for now, after a few
hundred yards of steeper and more breathless climbing, Marillier found
the ground sloping gradually and less encumbered with rocks. He passed
along a fringe of evergreen oaks, interspersed with pines through a
tangle of lentiscus and low-growing shrubs, then into the gloom of the
forest, where the great cedar boughs met and closed over his head,
making a cool and murmurous dusk.

He saw that this forest resembled the well-known one of Teniet-el-Ahd,
with part of which he was familiar, only it appeared to him, as he
penetrated further, that it was wilder and more beautiful. He examined
his compass and took his bearings, making a south-easterly direction,
which he believed, according to the Pacha's account, to be the correct
one. He knew that a mighty gorge cleft Khayal from below her hump to
the plain of the Bahira, a gigantic fissure making a dark, triangular
blot on her side as though the mountain had been cleft half asunder in
some tremendous subterranean convulsion. This chasm must, he knew, bar
his progress, and he trusted, by taking an upward line, to round the
head of it, and thus reach the mandrake region, from other points
inaccessible. He wandered on through the vast forests, silent except
for the occasional cry of some mountain bird and the melancholy
sighing of wind among the pine branches overhead. Though the sun only
came in flickering beams through the roof, of foliage, the air was
intensely close, and the breeze which he could hear playing overhead
could not pierce the thick canopy to bring him coolness and
refreshment. Once or twice he stopped to drink from a nil trickling
among rocks, but of food he had had none since dinner the previous
evening, and, indeed, had no desire to eat. He could not tell the
time, or how long he had been walking, for on looking at his watch, be
found that it must have been injured in a fall he had had when
descending the gorge, for it had stopped with the hour hand at the
figure eight.

He was weary, but not with the natural healthy fatigue that follows
physical effort. His heart beat languidly, and notwithstanding the
closeness of the atmosphere, his body was hardly warm. The mandrake
box weighed heavily on his arm, and there came into his mind the
thought that perhaps by his voluntary restitution of the root, he was
giving back to it that life which had at first been absorbed by
Isdas, and then, with ownership of the fetich, transferred to
himself. It might be so, he could not tell; but he would not allow
himself to dwell on any thoughts save the one object upon which he was
engaged. Adjusting the load a little more easily, he struggled on.

At last he became aware that the barrier was reached, and that to
accomplish his end he must skirt the dividing chasm, climbing more
directly upward. The dead limb of a cedar tree dropping on the ground
in front of him, arrested his steps, and he found himself on the verge
of an abyss which, looking down, seemed unfathomable, for his eye
could not pierce the depths of greenery, so dark as to be almost
black, which filled up the great cleft. He thought he could hear the
sound of water deep down--no tumultuous cataract, but a stealthily-
flowing stream. The cedar trees on the margin of this ravine were
larger than most of the cedar trees he had ever seen. Great bare arms
stretched laterally from huge bulbous trunks, and some of them, like
many others in the forest, were withered at the top where locusts had
ravaged or lightning blasted. He mounted along the line of giants,
which he could easily distinguish by their slanting position and
exposed limbs stretching over the darkness of the gorge.

The sun, as far as he could tell, was now at his back, and his compass
told him he was climbing northward. By-and-by he knew that he must
have gained the head of the ravine, for he had to strike out eastward
again, over a stony col projecting from the forest, which he had great
difficulty in surmounting, so bare and slippery was its surface. Now
his pulse beat quick with anticipation. He remembered that the Pacha
had spoken of a volcanic knoll, and here was a hillock of heaped-up
boulders, lichenous and blackened as by fire--a huge natural cairn
that might have been built by Titans before history began. As
Marillier turned it, he stood still, dizzy with astonishment, for he
knew that his quest was ended. Was it the magic of the mandrake he
carried that had guided him hither? Here in truth there spread before
him that desolate landscape the Pacha had described; the same
undulating hillside thinly grown with blasted pines, their tops
withered, their twisted arms with forked extremities stretched
westward, as if imploring the sun. As he gazed round, no longer shut
in by gorge and forest, he seemed to himself a speck on Khyal's
rugged bosom, her great grey head rearing itself close above him, a
protruding crag and two black hollows on either side giving a
grotesque similitude of human features. He understood now why she was
called the Ghost Mountain. But as he looked, her face ceased to be
grey and ghostlike, for the sun, coming forth from a thick cloud,
shone full upon her, and Khyal, bathed in golden light, seemed to
flush and breathe under the kiss of her hot wooer. Marillier too felt
himself at the moment warmed and revivified. He scanned the scene
eagerly, comparing each point with the Pacha's story. He recognised
the stone pines, the grey-brown furrows, the crumbling soil, the
earth-bubbles on its surface, the clumps of fleshy-leaved plants.
Could these be leaves of mandrake roots? If so, there were many to
choose from, and how should he discover that especial one--the female
root with the infants in her arms, from whose side his own mandrake
had been torn.

He rapidly consulted his memory. The Pacha had spoken of a bank, and
of a skeleton tree against which he had leaned when his feet, hanging
over the bank, had struck the mandrake and evoked a cry from the
wounded root. Marillier again keenly surveyed the land. The trees did
not grow so thickly but that it would be easy to single out one
particularly weird and bare among them. The undulations were many; yet
anything that could be called a bank was not at first readily
discernible. He took a few steps forward, his eye roving round the
area in which the mandrakes grew. Yes, there to the left and somewhat
below him, the ground sloped down, then running level for a yard or
two, dropped sharply, forming a distinct bank. Two or three clumps of
the thick broad leaves grew at its base, and just upon the verge of
it, lifting its pale limbs to the sky, there, rose the ghost of a
tree. Long ago its green cone had withered and rotted away; long ago
its sap must have run dry and every flicker of life have been
extinguished within it.

Marillier hastened down the slope. The distance was greater than it
appeared, and he was a minute or two reaching the bank. The sun went
again behind a cloud, leaving the scene one of solemn silence and
shadow. The trees were motionless, and seemed to be standing
expectant. Marillier felt himself to be in a strange country where
some inexplicable sympathy seemed to unite all these creatures of the
vegetable world, and now compelled their attention to what he was
about to do. He stood beneath the skeleton pine, looking at the
slanting ground below it where the clumps of mandrakes grew. Then he
stepped down amongst them, careful to avoid crushing any of the
leaves, while he chose beside a withered plant a spot where it seemed
to him most likely that his mandrake had originally grown. He thought
of what the Pacha had said about the widowed mate bearing rudimentary
infants at her breast, and though he could not know that this was the
root which had been left behind, the sight of it prompted his choice
of a grave for his own.

Placing the leather case beside him on the ground, he began shovelling
out the earth with his hands in order to make a hole. The soil was
dry, and he found the work difficult. Looking up, he saw a small
stunted bough hanging from the stem of the dead tree above him, and
breaking it off, began to dig with this awkward implement, holding it
in his right hand, and scooping away the earth with his left.
Presently the bit of wood he was working with, struck against
something that offered it a more decided resistance, and he realised
that he must be coming upon the withered root of the adjacent plant.
He redoubled his efforts, widening his little trench, and gently
scraping away the earth which surrounded the root. And now he found
that the Pacha's story was borne out in every detail. Extraordinary as
was the chance, he had certainly fallen upon the exact spot out of
which the mandrake had been taken, and the spouse from which it had
been torn.

In a minute or two the shrunken form of the poor little female lay
exposed to view. Her babes had long ago shrivelled on her breast, and
she herself was a mere mummified similitude of what she had once been.
Marillier felt a curious pity as he bent over the thing. He forgot
that she was, as his scientific reasoning would formerly have assured
him, a mere vegetable production--one of Nature's freaks--but was
ready to believe that the embryonic form bore within it a germ of life
holding promise of future fulfilment. On the other hand, when he
thought of the various legends gathered round the insane root, he
almost accounted to himself for its grotesquely human resemblance on
the theory that here were the remains of an almost moribund type which
had proved an evolutionary failure. Was it possible that the
attributes of the mandrake were the working out of some primval curse
hurled down upon the sinful children of an earlier creation? Marillier
had already convinced himself that there are stranger things on earth,
as in space, than those which science has classified.

The female mandrake appeared quite dead, showing when he touched it
not the least sign of sensibility. Leaving it in the ground, he now
proceeded to unpack the box which contained his own. The lid flew open
easily when he touched the topaz that covered the spring, and there,
under the silken wrapper which was slightly displaced, he could trace
the outline of the limbs. He did not shrink; he had no more cause for
fear. The magic of the mandrake was no longer needed, and in this act
of restoration, lay his immunity from further danger of its spell.
There was no horror in his mind as he drew away the wrapper--no
curiosity, only an awed certainty. As he had expected, the creature
was palpitating, its skin soft and filled out, and its tiny arms,
instead of lying by its side, as he had last seen them, were crossed
upon its breast as if it had been struggling in its coffin. When
Marillier put his hand upon it, the mandrake writhed--of that there
could be no question. Yet still he did not shrink. He lifted it out of
the box, and laid it in its silken wrapper at the edge of the hole he
had dug. The thing seemed to turn its head; he was sure that it was
trying to draw itself a little nearer to the hole, wherein stood,
three parts exposed, the root that had been its mate. Marillier raised
it again, and taking out with one hand a few clods of earth that had
fallen down the sides of the hole, with the other he carefully set the
root upright in what he felt certain had been its place. He pulled the
silken covering gently away from behind it, and hardly had the soil
touched the little shape than it turned its head again, and made a
feeble movement with its small arms towards its spouse, as though in a
futile attempt at an embrace. Manlier felt only the deepest
compunction as he gazed on the reunited pair--the living and the dead.
The male mandrake had apparently not yet become conscious of the death
of his spouse, but as Marillier shovelled back the earth round them,
there came from the grave a strange and terrible sound--the wail of
the living mandrake bereaved, and conscious for the first time of its

Though Marillier had heard and read of the shriek of the mandrake, his
nerves were not prepared for this unearthly scream. He shook so that
it was a difficult matter to fill the hole with earth, but at last it
was done, and he smoothed the mound with his hands, muffling the cries
which grew fainter and at last ceased. Then he rose to his feet, still
shaking like a man stricken by palsy, and with a horrible sense of
having buried a living being beside a corpse. As he supported himself
against the skeleton tree its boughs rattled like a gibbet in the
wind. A sudden gust had risen, and a growl of thunder burst from the
heavy clouds that were massing in the west. The roar, portentous in
his ear, though distance deadened it, was caught up and echoed shrilly
by the blast which swept over the slopes, bending the crests of the
pines and snapping off dead twigs as it hurried shrieking and whirling
away across the Bahira. In that wild sweep, so sudden and unexpected,
the swaying trees pointed their giant arms towards Khyal, seeming to
wave Marillier back whence he had come. He remembered the Pacha's
words. Truly it appeared that no wanderer was permitted to linger in
this haunted region. There was no need for him to delay, however, for
his task was finished, and he was thankful to retrace his steps
knowing that he had done all he could, but feeling ominously that
somewhere and somehow payment would be demanded by higher powers for
the wrong man had inflicted upon Nature's deformed offspring.

The wind whistled madly. It was easy to imagine that this desolate
region, not frequented by mankind, was the playground of unbenign
spirits, and he fancied, as the Pacha had done, that elfish beings
scoffed among the pines upon the plain. He hastened as well as his
weakness would allow towards the rocky knoll and over the slippery
ridge, longing to gain the shelter of Khyal, on whom the dusky veil
of evening was already descending. When he re-entered the gloom
beneath the cedars, a nearer peal of thunder reverberated overhead, as
though even the heavens were uttering maledictions over the
despoilment of the helpless creatures of the earth.


It was a wild night, as old Armand had said--a strange, uncertain
night. The wind, sweeping across from the mountains in sudden squalls,
shrieked round the tower, and subsided into feeble moans, which at
intervals died away, leaving in the air a brooding hush.

As Marillier and Rachel mounted the topmost stair a strong gust blew
through one of the unglazed windows in the upper room, striking their
faces, then, caught in the circle of the tower, it whirled round the
little room, making eerie noises as though it were a live thing
imprisoned there. The lamp in the observatory was swinging to and fro,
its flame flaring and casting moving shadows beneath the tube and
framework of the telescope. Through a window on one side, the moon
could be seen shining in a small clear space of the heavens, veiled at
times by flying scud, and with inky clouds beneath it, spreading
westward. Amid the clouds forked lightning played occasionally. A
little to the moon's right, rose Khyal's black mass--a denser blot on
the darkness of the night. From the bed of the gorge, the voice of the
torrent rose angrily. After the shriek which hailed them as they
mounted, the wind fell suddenly, and gradually the lamp ceased
swaying, and the shadow of the telescope became stationary. The bare
room, with its gaping apertures where the windows were set, struck
Rachel as cold and cheerless; but to-night she was fully mistress of
herself and determined not to be affected by her surroundings. She
went in and stood waiting as he followed her with laboured steps. His
weakness and agitation were apparent, and filled her with anxiety, but
she felt that further comment would be ill-placed. She saw that the
communication he had to make would be difficult and painful, and that
she must sustain him by her own strength. Advancing across the room,
she sat down on a carved bench in the embrasure of one of the windows.
The strain of the situation made itself keenly felt, but her
apprehension was on his account rather than on her own. Fear, as she
had known it the evening before, was gone from her entirely.

She spoke to him as he stood leaning against the telescope--a man
weighed down, not by cowardice, but by bodily infirmity. He was
staring at her, the head thrust forward; the chin protruding; the
shoulders slightly hunched, in something of Marillier's old manner
when pondering a knotty question; the chest bent in; the hands thrust
into his pockets. By his attitude Rachel was involuntarily reminded of
Lucien Marillier, and wondered why the thought of him should come to
her as she looked at Ruel Bey.

'I am ready, Caspar,' she said, steadying her tone which still had a
ring of anxiety. 'I am ready to hear what you have to tell me. I beg
you, tell me all. I am strong enough to bear it. Hide nothing from

He began, 'I--I--Rachel!' His voice was husky, and he cleared his
throat--an old trick of Marillier's before delivering sentence on a
patient. 'Rachel!' he began again, 'if I tell you everything you will
think me mad.'

'It does not matter what I think you,' she answered. 'You are my
husband, and it is my right as your wife to know what is troubling

His staring eyes remained fixed upon her. The glare of the lamp above,
showed her the trembling of his mouth as he tried to speak. It was
womanish in him, but it touched her to the quick. She lifted her hands
in a little rapid gesture and held them out to him, but did not leave
her seat.

'I repeat that I am your wife, and that this is my right,' she said.
'But oh! Caspar, I don't want to talk of rights. You said that there
is something I must know. Will you not tell it to me?'

'Yes,' he answered, 'I must. That is what I am here to do.' He spoke
slowly and hesitatingly, as though he were anxious to impress upon
himself the force of his own words.

'Won't you come and sit beside me?' she pleaded. 'There is room,' and
she moved a little. He shook his head, and again gave his husky cough,
as, still in the same position--his head dropped forward, his chin on
his chest, his eyes falling slowly from her face to the tip of her
dainty shoe--he began his story.

Where and how he began it, neither knew, for the first sentences were
so broken and involved as to be almost unintelligible, but he gained
power as he proceeded, and Rachel would not interrupt him with
questions. She listened, making no sound nor movement, save to clutch
the edge of the bench on either side of her. As, bit by bit, the
meaning of his strange tale became clear, the soft fingertips pressed
more hardly into the unyielding wood till their skin was bruised and
sore. She was not conscious of it; she felt nothing, saw nothing but
the man before her--the man whom she had thought she knew, but whom
she now understood for the first time, and who seemed to her at once
so strange and yet so familiar. Every word which came from the pallid
lips was borne out by the man's manner, by the very bend of his
figure, and by certain peculiarities of speech which she had observed
before and had attributed to the relationship between the cousins, but
which she could no longer account for in this way, for they now stood
out with startling distinctness and individuality. So she listened,
not at first comprehending its drift, to his account of the Pacha's
wanderings and finding of the mandrake, referring to the scene she had
herself witnessed when the Ambassador gave him the casket containing
the fetich. He spoke of the lying-in-state; of his unintentional
overhearing of Ruel Bey's proposal, which had so fired him with
indignation; of the Pacha's funeral; the scene at the cemetery gates,
and the accident to the first secretary. He described his sense of the
dead hand interposing and the commission to himself to save her from
treachery and dishonour, and painted his feelings at sight of his
cousin lying unconscious before him, He told of the drive to Harley
Street; the examination in the consulting-room, his diagnosis of the
case--all in a dull, concise way, as though he were giving evidence
about a matter which did not closely concern him. Next he related
briefly how he had been left alone by Heathcote with the insensible
man, and had then been assailed by fierce temptation; and here came a
note of emotion into the hollow voice which recounted the
extraordinary events that followed.

As he did so, Rachel seemed to see the operating-room with its shaded
lights, the still form on the couch, the passion-racked man beside it,
and a little way off, in its golden box, the arbiter of their fate--
the mandrake. She drew her breath sharply as he described the foggy
atmosphere when he had thrown up the window to ease his own tumultuous
breathings. Her eyes never left his downcast eyelids. He was telling
her of his impulsive opening of the box; of how he had walked back to
the operating-room with the mandrake stirring on his breast; of his
sudden realisation that the Pacha's prophecy was fulfilled, and that
he was face to face with the hour, the desire, and the opportunity. He
told her of that fiery effort of will, and the love that gave it
power; of the blankness that came afterwards; of the awakening; the
sight of Marillier's prostrate form on the ground with the mandrake
beside it; the image of Caspar Ruel in the mirror.

Rachel did not utter a word. The story carried her imagination along,
and enchained her attention. She did not know whether or not she
credited the tale, whether the magic of the mandrake were a fact, the
metamorphosis a reality; but as she looked at the man before her, the
man who was not Caspar Ruel, nor Lucien Marillier, but a mysterious
blending of both, she could not doubt that there was truth in his

He narrated quickly the return of Heathcote, and his own impulse to go
at once to the Embassy on account of his anxiety to spare Rachel shock
and pain; and as he spoke, the girl's heart gave an answering throb.
He had always been her loyal friend and lover--always, from then till
now. The scene between them in the firelight rushed back upon her. She
heard his kind voice, she felt his protecting arm, she was moved anew
by his reverential tenderness; she saw him again kneeling beside her--
not the old half-cynical, half-patronising Caspar, but a new wooer,
passionate but humble, laying for the first time sacred fire upon her
heart's altar--that Holy of Holies into which Caspar Ruel had never

'The rest you know,' he said, and then came a few gruff sentences. He
would not waste speech upon his diplomatic difficulties, his sense of
having brought himself into a position that he was wholly incompetent
to fill. Nevertheless Rachel must understand something of this, so he
touched lightly upon his perplexities and the assistance rendered him
by Ahmed Bey. He made little comment upon his illness, only alluding
to his sensations during their first meeting when he became
convalescent, and the knowledge then forced upon him of that ghostly
third separating them. Perhaps, he said, it might have been better had
he at once accepted the warning, but he could regret nothing that had
ensured him her love.

His voice broke at last; for a moment he could not speak. He drew his
hands from his pockets and half extended them towards Rachel, looking
for the first time since he began his narration fully into her eyes.

'I want you to understand this. I want you to know that though I was
ready to pay any price to gain you I could not have taken you at any
cost to yourself. If I had not seen that you loved me, Rachel--me,
myself; if I had not believed that I could protect you best as your
husband, I would not have allowed you to bind yourself to me. But
things being as they were, how could I be sorry for what has brought
me in any sense nearer to you.'

She would have put out her hands to meet his, but there was no time
for her to do so; he drew his arms back at once, and folding them on
his breast, stood aloof, his head erect, squaring his shoulders in a
way that had been commonly noticeable in Doctor Marillier.

'So we were married,' he said, 'and since that time circumstances, not
lack of love in me, have held us apart.' His voice was firmer now, and
he spoke with quiet sadness of the power which had made itself felt
upon their marriage day, and ultimately driven him from his bride.

He passed over the journey till their arrival at the castle and the
scene in that same room which had so unnerved them both.

'I was not myself,' he exclaimed. 'You know--you must know, that it
was not I--not Lucien Marillier--who filled you with fear. This is
Lucien Marillier, or the best part of him.' He raised his arms and let
them fall again upon his breast. 'That was someone else. My dear!'--
his voice rang strongly with the old burr that she remembered--'do you
know who spoke to you then through these lips?'

In a flash the answer was written on her brain.

'It was Caspar,' she whispered.

'Yes, it was Caspar--the soul I had robbed and wronged. Do you know
how he came? I desired you, my wife, with all a man's passion, and
that desire was the door by which Caspar's expelled spirit entered in
and controlled the body I had stolen. I understood the mystery when my
reason was able to work once more. You had shown me the truth. I knew
that by the laws I had violated, I was condemned.' His eyes fell again
to the ground; he kept his arms folded, and his whole appearance
betokened firm resolve. But it was in the very depth of humility that
he stood at last confessed before her. She answered gently,--'And so
you thought that because of the misfortune which has come upon us you
ought to separate yourself altogether from me. You intended that we
should part.'

She spoke, not in a questioning tone, but as if she were stating a
fact of which she was perfectly aware. She had risen and moved towards
him, her eyes, grave and sweet, lighting up the solemnity of her face.
He drew back, straightening himself against the stand of the

'Do you understand what I have been telling you?' he asked. 'Perhaps,
my dear, you don't believe my story. I said that you would think me

'Yes, I believe it,' she replied. 'Have I not seen for myself? If you
are mad, then I too am mad.'

'But--but,' he stammered. 'What do you mean, Rachel?'

'Are we not husband and wife?' she said. 'Can anything break that

'But you married me in ignorance, believing me to be your old lover.
It was Caspar to whom you gave yourself.'

'And it is Lucien whom I have learned to love,' she said, flinging
away restraint. 'Can you not see that? I thought once that I cared for
Caspar. I know myself better now. Take me to your heart, Lucien--my
true love, my husband.'

Though he had hoped that she would receive his confession thus, he
could hardly now convince himself that he heard aright. Yet there was
no mistaking the integrity of her purpose, no possibility of doubting
her love. She was offering herself to him again, not in ignorance, but
in full knowledge.

'Lucien!' she repeated, dwelling caressingly on the unaccustomed
syllables, and he, enraptured at hearing his own name thus spoken by
her lips, caught her to his breast, holding her there as though he
could never let her go. But it was no second foretaste of Paradise
that he now experienced. They had both gone down into the deeps of
suffering; the waves of spiritual anguish had well-nigh overwhelmed
them, and even now, he felt a deathly clutch dragging him down. He put
her from him with great tenderness, staggering as he leaned against
the telescope. She saw that he looked white and ill again, and was
full of concern.

'It is nothing, child,' he said. 'I don't know what is the matter with
me. I feel strangely weak; it is certain that I am not well; but no
doubt this is exhaustion after my long walk. Do not trouble about
that. I have more to tell you--all about to-day.'

'Sit down beside me,' she said, drawing him to the bench. 'You will
not refuse me now, Lucien?'

Her sweet understanding was just what he needed, it gave him
confidence. His worshipping look was one of utter thankfulness. He sat
down on the bench, and, as rapidly as he was able---for his breath
came heavily--he told her of his adventure that day. While he talked,
there was a vivid flash of lightning, and after some seconds, a growl
of distant thunder. The wind, which had been quite still, now rose and
set the lamp swaying and flickering again. She was too deeply
interested in his story, too distressed also at his evident weakness
and difficulty in getting speech, to notice the gathering of the

'And now,' he concluded, 'I have told you everything. I am free from
the accursed power of the mandrake--free, too, I hope, from the
assaults of the dead. And you, too, my love, are free: Caspar Ruel
cannot claim the wife who disavows him. Only give me this assurance,
now that you know all. Have you any personal regret for the man who
might have been your husband but for my rash and wicked act?'

'He might have died in any case,' she said in a low voice.

'True. That is possible; but, I think, not probable. I hoped at the
time to save him; I believed that I could do so. Honestly, Rachel,
when I performed that operation I had no thought of him as my
successful rival. Professional instinct prompted what seemed the only
means of saving his life. If those means had failed, you would have
lost your lover, but I should not have been to blame. I might then
have wooed you--if I had dared.'

'If you had dared!' she repeated. 'You might not have dared. And how
could I bear my life, having lost Caspar, and not having found

'Perhaps I am not accountable for Caspar's death,' he said, in so
faint a voice that she had to bend nearer to catch the words. 'Perhaps
I am less guilty than I have believed; but supposing it is not so--
supposing that I am in very truth a usurper with the brand of Cain
upon me, tell me, Rachel, does my love yet stand to you in the stead
of his?'

She saw that his heart ached for her asseveration. She kneeled down on
the ground beside him, as he sat huddled on the bench in the angle of
the window embrasure, and took both his hands in hers, lifting up her
face, while with the solemnity of a nun taking her vow, she answered

'Hear me. I knew Caspar, my lover, as he used to be, and I always felt
a little afraid of him; I always distrusted him. That is why my love
was a pain and not a joy. I knew Lucien as my friend; I have known
Lucien as my lover--true and loyal in each relation. I repeat, it is
Lucien whom I love. It is Lucien's heart and soul to which my heart
and soul respond. I ask of Heaven no future in which Lucien may not
share; for where Lucien leads I will follow, and it is with Lucien
that I would unite myself, here and through all eternity.'

Her feverish fingers holding his, which had become clammy, received a
feeble pressure. She clasped both his hands in one of hers, and with
the other, drew down his face while she lifted her warm lips to his
cold ones, crowning her self-surrender. In that moment's fervour, his
life flamed up one last brief flicker before it left the now totally
exhausted frame, and by that sacred kiss Rachel's vow was registered
in records that are eternal.

As their lips met, a flash of lightning illuminated the dark spaces of
the windows, and a louder and nearer thunderclap shook the tower's
foundations. The tempest was approaching; the wind crashed with the
force of breakers against the solid walls of the castle. A fiercer
gust rushed in and caught the swinging lamp, making the shadows dance
madly. Almost simultaneously with the life that leaped and sank, the
flame of the lamp flared up and was extinguished.

The room became a dense darkness, a darkness deeper than that of the
night outside. It was a terrifying darkness, and with it an awful
sense of loneliness fell upon Rachel. She did not know yet that Lucien
was dead; she was only sensible of the weight of his body against
hers, but fear seized her. The hands she held, dropped rigidly when
she took hers away, and the form she tried to raise and put back into
a sitting posture was inert. She put her ear down to his heart and
knew that it had ceased beating. Now the truth burst upon her, and she
drew back with a cry that pierced the darkness and rose above the
wind's wail. As she did so, the body slipped and would have fallen
heavily on the ground, had she not put out her arms, with difficulty
sustaining it, and at last contriving to lay it gently down.

Her next thought was that perhaps he had only fainted, and she had the
impulse to rush down and get brandy. She went to the head of the
stairs, stood irresolutely a moment, and turned. Something told her
that it was too late; there was nothing to be done. He was dead.

But dead or living, he was still her husband--Lucien, not Caspar--the
man she loved, and to whom she had made her vows for life and in death
also. She walked stumblingly back to where he lay in the darkness, and
kneeling beside him, pillowed his head upon her arm. She felt his
hands; they were stiff and cold. She listened once more to his heart;
there was not the faintest flutter. She kissed him, but the lips she
touched, were as marble. Yet, she said to herself again, though he
were dead he was still hers; no one now could come between them.

Then a dreadful thought troubled her. She took his head from her arm
and laid it upon the ground; and, drawing back from him, remained
crouched, her hands between her knees, staring out into the darkness
that enveloped her. If he were dead--this--this thing before her was
not Lucien any longer; it was the body of Caspar. Lucien's body had
been buried long ago. Lucien's soul had inhabited this house of flesh
only by right of violent seizure, by force of will, by--yes, she was
certain of it--the magic of the mandrake. And now the spell of the
mandrake was broken, the root was buried in its old place, and the
power had returned to its source. Therefore Lucien might no longer
retain this earthly tabernacle of which he had taken unlawful

Another flash of lightning played vividly upon the ashen face, and the
still form seemed to confirm her wild suspicion. There was no trace of
Lucien here. That form and face--the faint smile which, in her excited
fancy, seemed to curve the lips, were Caspar's. Even at this moment
Caspar's spirit might be struggling to re-enter the body of which it
had been deprived. Caspar might come back. Caspar might claim not only
that which was lying there, but all else that had been his. He might
claim his wife.

Panic seized the unhappy girl. She sprang to her feet with a mad
longing to fly--to escape, she cated not how, she cared not where. As
the lightning gleamed intermittently, her eyes went round the tower
room, the stone walls, the dark windows, the stormy blackness beyond.
She pressed her hand upon her forehead in the effort to think
collectedly. If Lucien were here he would save her. From the first day
of their meeting till now, he had never failed her. She called his
name, 'Lucien!...Oh! help me!...Lucien!...I am alone...I am afraid.'

And there came a response to her frenzied appeal. She became conscious
of a gentle presence soothing and sustaining her. Her eyes strained
into the darkness.

'Lucien!' she whispered.

There was no reply in words. The wind had lulled again. There was the
stillness that comes just before a tempest breaks overhead; but out of
that silence a voice seemed to speak to her heart, bidding her have
faith, and not to fear.

She answered the voice, speaking aloud with childlike simplicity.

'I will do whatever you bid me, Lucien...I am not afraid now I know
that you are here...I am sure that you would never go far from me.
Guide me, Lucien...'

She stopped; then spoke again hesitatingly, as one who longs, yet
dreads, to make a suggestion. 'Can't you take me with you?' she said
very slowly, and hardly above a whisper. 'You wouldn't want to go
without me,'t be painful...I...I could...'

She stopped again. Her conscience, her Catholic upbringing, told her
that self-destruction was a crime.

'I must not,' she said aloud in answer to her own thought. 'You would
not like it. You always said it was your duty to save life. I must
not--it would be wicked. But...oh! show me the way, Lucien. Do not
leave me alone.'

She had moved nearer one of the windows. The dead body lay on the
floor behind her. She would not look at it again. She had said that
she was not afraid. She was determined not to let herself be afraid,
but she could not fight against her horror of that dead thing, and she
felt a greater horror lest it should be living.

She looked out through the window from which a step led up to the
stone ledge outside. The glass door had all been broken away. In the
stillness she could hear herself breathe. It was darker than ever. The
whole heavens seemed to be covered with a black pall. Suddenly in the
dim aperture she fancied that she saw a vaporous shape--the square
form, the grey face of Lucien Marillier as she had first known him.
She sprang forward. The form seemed to raise a beckoning hand; the
grey face smiled.

'Lucien!' she cried. A glimmer of lightning showed her the parapet and
the yawning gulf below; showed her too, the Ghost Mountain looming,
but only for an instant. The black curtain fell, impenetrable again.
But in that gleam the road to rest of which her mother had dreamed
flashed before Rachel. There, Rachel O'Hara had known she could take
refuge from Abdullulah Zobeir; there also, might the girl Rachel seek
safety from Caspar Ruel. But once more she recoiled.

'Lucien,' she repeated, 'oh! not that. You could not have meant that,
for you know that it would be deadly sin.'

The grey figure seemed to withdraw itself into the night. But surely
its hand was beckoning still.

Her foot was on the window-sill. The childlike voice still pleaded.

'Oh! Lucien, must I--? I want to come, but must it be that way?...Lead
me, Lucien--I trust you...You always said that I must trust you...
Lucien, you wouldn't let me do wrong?...'

She stepped upon the parapet. A wild, wordless prayer rose from her
breast--'If it might be the Hand of God, and not--'

And the prayer was heard. A great light shone upon Khyal, and God's
javelin descended and struck the white form which stood with arms
upraised to welcome the stroke.

There was a faint rushing sound in the air, and the storm burst.


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