Page images


Or, Love Knows No Bonds


[ocr errors]


Linked By Fate,' The Verdict of the Heart,"

"A Girl of Spirit,” “ A Jest of Fate,

“The Other Woman,” Etc.



Copyright, 1902




[ocr errors]

“Is she asleep or is it one of those trances of hers.?"

Two men stood beside à couch upon which a girl weg stretched—a startlingly graceful figure in as startling an attitude: full length, with one arm under her head, the other hanging down, and her slight form as straight as an arrow. It was as if she had fallen there, attacked by a sudden faintness or its elder brother-Death itself.

The light from the setting sun, the warm light of an evening in early summer, poured through the open French window and touched the pallor of the girl's face, which, but for the roseate light, would have been white as a tea-rose or old ivory. She was exquisitely graceful; she was, even with her eyes closed, as exquisitely beautiful: & clear, oval face, rather longer than the English type, with soft, black hair, through which ran strands that shone like silk; long lashes as dark as her hair, and brows straight and almost meeting. The mouth was not small, but full of expression, and there was a subtle curve in the pale lips which had a touching quality; it spoke of grief, it whispered mately of all the awful possibilities of a woman's nature; of love yet anawakened, of capacity for the pain which stalks with silent feet behind passion.

She wore a black dress of light cashmere, which fell in folds about her figure that suggested something foreign in its arrangement, the something which snatches an art beyond the reach of the purely British. There was an edging of white insertion at her white and superbly modelled neck and at the wrists of the long and shapely hand. A remarkable face and form under any circumstances, still more remarkable as she lay there in a sleep that was so deep that it resembled a trance.

The elder of the two men— middle-aged man with irongrey hair and clean-shaven face, with eyes that had something furtive in their expression, and a mouth with the trick of twitching at its left corner-shook his head doubtfully. The younger-a tall, thin man with a curious resemblance to the elder, even to a faint copy of the furtiveness in the eyes and the twitch of the lips—they were father and son-shrugged his shoulders impatiently yet smoothly, as if he were in the habit of keeping a close watch upon himself.

“ You ought to know,” he said, with the same suppression in his voice as in his gesture. “You have been with her, seen her all these months.”

“All the same, I can't tell,” said Mr. Froyte, in a low voice. “I don't think even your mother can. Sometimes, I believe, she steals from sleep to trance. It's a trick of the race her mother came from. It is well known in India. I forget what they call it.”

Clairvoyance?" suggested Stracey Froyte, gazing at the beautiful face under his lowered lids and biting his narrow lips, softly.

“No, not at all. Quite different. She sees no visions-at any rate, she remembers none, andoh, no, it's not like any of that mesmerism nonsense. It is just a sleep that's so deep as to be-be like death."

He glanced furtively at his son's face, which, for a moment, grew sinister, but for a moment only; then, as if the pause were irksome, he went on:

“ Though she appears in the most perfect health, I-your mother—thought it best to have a doctor: this place may not suit Kyra; it's too soon to tell, of course. But-oh, yes, it is better to have a doctor.” The young

man nodded. Of course,” he said, evading his father's sidelong look. You know how nervous your mother is. Hush, here she is!" The door opened and Mrs. Froyte entered. She was a

a weak-looking woman, dressed in black, with hair prematurely grey; eyes that were downcast, as if weighted by some doubt or dread. She started slightly as she saw the two men.

“ The doctor, James,” she said, in a subdued, toneless voice; and she went and stood by the girl, and looked down at her with a curious mixture of pity and aloofness; as if she were afraid to display any tenderness she might feel.

“I will go and see him,” said Mr. Froyte.

He glanced inquiringly at his son, who nodded and followed him into the next room, where the doctor was waiting, with the patient impatience of his tribe.

“I have sent for you to see my ward, Miss Jermyn, Doctor

[ocr errors]

Graham," said Mr. Froyte, with a bow and a wave of his hand to a chair.

The doctor looked calmly and keenly from one man to the other, and Mr. Froyte continued the wave of the hand towards

his son.

“My son, doctor."

The doctor bowed slightly-doctors have a trying knack of reading characters from faces, and Doctor Graham was not prepossessed by Stracey Froyte's, handsome though it was.

" What is the matter?” he asked.

Not much, nothing serious, I trust," said Mr. Froyte, slowly, and looking down at the carpet. “My ward has had a heavy bereavement: she lost her father twelve-nearly twelve-months ago. It was a very great shock—Mr. Jermyn died suddenly—they were much attached to each otherpeculiarly so—and her grief has produced a weakness, a lassitude and apathy-”

The doctor broke in upon the slow voice and careful statement.

“Want of tone: run down, eh?” he said. “Y-es; but that is not all. My ward is subject to trances“To what?" interjected Doctor Graham, sharply.

“Well, perhaps I use the wrong term. At times she falls into so deep a sleep that she seems to be scarcely alive; there is very little sign of breathing. It is difficult to waké her; in fact, we fear to do so, and allow her to wake of her own accord.”

“Hem! yes. Indicative of weakness following prostration from shock," commented Doctor Graham.

“No doubt it would be, in ordinary cases; but in my ward's the cause dates further back; these trances are—what shall I say?-constitutional, inherited. I ought to tell you, doctor, that her father-he was in the Indian Civil Service-married a lady of mixed race.”

“ Indian-Hindoo-Brahmin?” queried the doctor.

“Something of the kind,” assented Mr. Froyte. "Mr. Jermyn met her in India, of course; he fell in love with her-she was an extraordinarily beautiful woman, I believe-I never saw her, for she died in giving birth to Kyra-my ward's name is Oriental, you perceive.

The doctor nodded, as if he were interested.

These mixed marriages are sometimes productive of strange issues," he said. “In some cases the offspring display tendencies which are distinctly Oriental-especially if the mother is Asiatic. Have you had other medical advice?"


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »