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Chapter 47 - Ivory Hands

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Author Topic: Chapter 47 - Ivory Hands  (Read 12 times)
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« on: January 04, 2023, 08:06:06 pm »

I CLOSED my eyes again. I felt I could have stayed there forever.

“You know, Shan,” Fah Lo Suee’s voice went on—that silvery voice in which I seemed to hear the note of a bell—“you have often hated me and you will hate me again.”

“I could never hate you,” I said drowsily.

“I have tricked you many times; but I find hatred hard to accept.”

I kept my eyes obstinately closed. Some vague idea was stirring in my brain that when I opened them that act would herald the end of this delicious interlude.

“I have given you back the memory of forgotten hours, Shan. There is no disloyalty in what I have done. Your memories can only tell you again what you know already: that my father is the greatest genius the world has ever known. The old house at Gizeh is deserted again, even if you could find it. Your other memories are of me.”

I clutched her tightly.

“Why should you leave me?”

She clung to me for a moment, and I could hear her heart beating; then: “Because the false is valueless to me, and the true I can never have.”

The words were so strangely spoken, in so strange a voice, that at last I opened my eyes again . . . and, astounded, broke free from Fah Lo Suee’s arms and stared about me.

I was in the Museum Room in Bruton Street!

A silk dressing gown I had over my pyjamas; a pair of Arab slippers were on my feet. Fah Lo Suee was lying among the cushions beside me, her fur coat on the floor near by.

She was watching me under half-lowered lashes—doubting me, it would seem. Staring about the room, I saw that everything was as I had left it; and: “Well?” Fah Lo Suee murmured, continuing to watch me.

I turned and looked down at her where she lay.

And, as her glance met mine, I dropped to the floor, clasping her knees.

“You cannot—you must not—you dare not go!”

Her lips rippled in a smile. “If only that were true!” she murmured.

“But it is!” I knelt upon the settee. “Why do you say that? How can you doubt it?”

But she continued to smile.

And then: “Shan!” she said.

And although the word was spoken as an appeal, yet it was a command; and a command which I obeyed. Yes, she was right. There was some reason—some reason, which escaped me—why we must part. I clutched my head feverishly, thinking—thinking. What could that reason be?

“I am going. You mustn’t come down to the door—I know my way.”

But I sprang up. Mechanically, I slipped her cloak about her shoulders.

“Good-bye, Shan,” she said, brokenly, but with a determination which I knew I had no power to weaken. “Please go back to bed—and go to sleep.”

Hot tears burned behind my eyes. I felt that life had nothing left for me. But—I obeyed.

Passing out onto the landing where suits of Saracen armor stood on guard, I watched Fah Lo Suee descend the broad staircase. A light burned in the lobby, as was customary, and, reaching the foot of the stairs, she turned.

With one slender, unforgettable, indolent hand, she beckoned to me imperiously.

I obeyed her order—I moved towards the staircase leading to the floor above. I had begun to go up when I heard the street door close. . . .

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