E. Phillips Oppenheim

The Great Awakening

First published in 1901.

This edition published by eBooks@Adelaide.

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The Great Awakening

Sir Powers Fiske, though far from being a sybarite, possessed a fundamental but crudely developed love of the beautiful. Before all things with him came his devotion to science and scientific investigation. But for his unexpected accession to the title and estates he would, without doubt, have become a denizen of Harley Street, and made his way without difficulty into the front ranks of his profession. With the passing away of all necessity for work came a curious era of half-doubtful dilettanteism, a time during which he read hugely, traveled a good deal, and finally returned to England with the seeds of a great unrest sown in his mind.

Mysticism and psychology, which he had dabbled in at first half-contemptuously, had become serious studies to him. Dimly he felt the fascination of that unending effort which from the days of the Chaldeans had swayed the lives of a long succession of the world’s masters, the effort to establish some sort of communication, however faint, however speculative, between the world of known things and the world beyond. At times he found himself moved to the most profound self-ridicule. He would ask himself how it was possible for a man of science seriously to investigate problems whose very foundation must be an assumption. He looked at his walls lined with books, and he smiled grimly as he realized how little, after all, they had taught him. The sum of all that he had learned from them amounted to nothing. Yet he remembered what Spencer Trowse, a fellow student, had said to him. A sudden flush had lightened his thin cheeks, pallid with the ceaseless energy of their student life.

“After all, Powers, I think that we are wasting our days,” he exclaimed. “Those ancients saw no farther behind the veil than we. I am tired of all this musty lore, this delving among cobwebs.”

“What then?” Powers had asked. “Modern scholarship has taught us little enough.”

“Let us have done with all scholarship,” Trowse answered. “It is the laws of humanity we want to understand. Let us study them at first hand. Let us go down among the people.”

“What can this rabble teach us?” Powers had asked himself, full of the intellectual contempt of the young student for the whole pleasure-loving world. “Whether their wings be soiled or pure, they are only butterflies!”

Trowse smiled grimly.

“They are the living evidences,” he said, “of laws which are worth studying. If we would understand humanity we must not start by despising any part of it.”

With characteristic impetuosity the two young men had thrown themselves heart and soul into their new enterprise. They haunted police courts and places of entertainment. They lived for a while in a great industrial center; they listened to the hoarse, tragic undernote of the millions underneath. They made their bow at the reception of a duchess, and spent a whole Bank Holiday dancing upon Hampstead Heath. These and many other phases of life they had encountered with an amusement, in Powers’ case partly genuine, in Trowse’s wholly tolerant. For all the time they kept strenuously in view their real end. They wanted to understand the causes of all that they saw; they wanted to discover laws.

The end of their enterprise came suddenly. A disaster in his family left Trowse unexpectedly poor. It was necessary for him to take at once some wage-earning position. The two young men parted, curiously enough, without regret. Powers, though no sentimentalist, possessed his due share of the affections, had an innate love for the beautiful, and a longing for a catholic and universal understanding of his fellows. Where Trowse would gaze with unmoved face, and pursue his calm calculations, Powers could only peer with barely veiled horror. They held together through those three years of unorthodox study, but toward the end of it they had drawn wide apart. Trowse entered the ranks of his profession a man of steel, without nerves or sentiment or pity. Powers, with his fuller understanding of life, had no longer any desire for a regular career. Possessed of ample means, the necessity for it had never existed. He left England almost at once, and entered upon a somewhat restless but comprehensive scheme of travel.

At last, shortly after his return home, one afternoon fate cast into his way on the Edgware Road the very subject that he sought. It was in the fringe of a city fog; the sky was heavy with clouds, the pavements were sloppy with recent rains; the broad thoroughfare was almost deserted when there glided by him the figure of a woman who held herself with a distinction oddly at variance with her shabby clothes. There was in her eyes the look of one in extremity—of a woman who had none of the ordinary fear of death and who would dare great things to pass from the evil place in which fate had set her to even a momentary draft from the cup of life.

Sir Powers Fiske approached her. His eyes held hers—they were bright with a certain steely radiance. She felt her heart beating fast, the noise of the traffic beyond seemed to her to come from some distance. He spoke to her, and her eyes which mirrored dark months lost resentment after a moment and seemed to understand.

They gazed steadfastly at one another—something greater than their surroundings, greater even than themselves seemed to pass between them. With swift intelligence, she felt him to be no more a boulevardier than she was light. He murmured a few conventionalities and when he asked her to have tea with him she accepted. Inside the warm little tea-room, he told her of his work and of himself, and once secure in the knowledge of the mere unit of humanity she represented to him, she told him of herself. The human note was strong in all she said, and he declared in all her talk the marks of a cultured intellect that must have rendered beyond endurance the shoddy environment of a draper’s establishment where she passed her days. He offered her the means of escape from her present slavery by becoming his subject for experiment and she did not shrink. On her own testimony she stood alone in the world and upon her sudden removal from her present life there would be no one with even the right to search for her. He looked into her frail beautiful face marveling at the depth of misery which produced this brave despair and rising held out his hand.

“I must thank you very much for your society—and for your confidence,” he said, “I have your address and I will write to you.”

To-night he was in a curiously disturbed mood. All the evening Eleanor Surtoes had figured in his thoughts. He had seen her several times since that first meeting on the Edgware Road. She was one of the more tragic figures in that world which he had spent so much strenuous effort seeking to understand. The possibilities in connection with her loomed large in his imagination. He was oppressed with fears which were altogether new to him. Fortune could never have provided him with a human creature modeled more exactly according to his requirements. He knew her life and the ways of it. The confidence which he felt as to her ultimate decision was not exaggerated. She would come to him for an explanation of his words, and she would accept his proposition. Yet never since his idea had first begun to loom large in his thoughts did he look upon it with less enthusiasm than at this moment. A few hours ago he had written to her—asked her to spend a day upon the river with him. He knew that she would come. The crisis was close at hand. He hoped to be able to delay it.

The door was quietly opened. His servant stood upon the threshold.

“There is a young lady asking for you, Sir Powers—the name, I believe, is Surtoes.”

“Show her in at once.”

The man bowed. A moment later he ushered Eleanor in. Her hat was beaten about with wind and rain, even her hair was disordered. She was breathless with rapid walking, her cheeks were wet, and the raindrops hung about her clothes. Powers held out his hand and drew her toward the fire.

“So you have come to see me,” he said, in a tone as nearly matter-of-fact as he could make it. “I am delighted! I was just looking forward to a lonely and a particularly dull evening.”

He wheeled an easy chair to the fire, and placed her in it. He saw that she was nervous and embarrassed, and he continued to talk.

“To-night,” he said, “is one of the most horrible instances of our marvelous climate. I had just written to ask you to have a day upon the river with me. Imagine it.”

She smiled, and the color began to reappear in her cheeks.

“I want you, please, to tell me the exact truth,” she said. “My coming here, I know, is very foolish. I want to know whether it inconveniences you in any way—whether your mother or any one else might think it strange?”

He laughed reassuringly.

“Mine is entirely a bachelor establishment,” he declared. “My mother and sister live in Berkeley Square. There is no one here to whom your visit would be even a subject of remark.”

She gave a little sigh of relief, and leaned back in her chair. The warmth and comfort of the room after that dreary walk through the rain and hail outside were like a strong, sweet sedative. A curious sense of rest, of finality, took possession of her. With the closing of the front door, with the first breath of that air of indefinable luxury which everywhere pervaded her new surroundings, she seemed to pass into a new order of things. There had been a single moment of breathless excitement, of trembling speculation as to the nature of his greeting, but his welcome had been so easy and natural that her fears had been all dispelled by his first few words.

“It is perhaps very foolish of me to come here,” she said, “but I have never quite forgotten what you said to me in the tea-room. It was probably nonsense. If so, please tell me, and let me go.”

His brows went up in vague surprise; then ignoring her words, he lighted a cigarette, and stood thoughtfully puffing it, his elbow resting on the broad oaken mantelpiece.

“I must tell you something more about myself,” he said, presently. “It chanced that when I was at Calcutta several years ago, I met a native Indian doctor to whom I was fortunate enough to be of some service. My meeting with this man was the most wonderful thing which has ever happened to me. I shall never cease to be grateful to him. If the world knew his name and what he has made possible to science, he would be the most famous man of this or any generation. He reawakened all my old interest in my profession.”

His pale face had become fervid, the bright light of the enthusiast was burning in his dark eyes. Eleanor felt that she had become once more only a unit in his eyes, a mere atom of humanity, whose interest to him was purely scientific and impersonal. She found herself trembling. What had these things to do with her? She was afraid of what might come. She remembered that he had spoken of death.

“Oh, that wonderful East,” he continued, in a low tone. “How puny it makes us feel with our new civilization, our shoddiness, our materialism, which is only another name for hopeless ignorance. What treasures of art lie buried there, what strange secrets sleep forever in the tombs of their wise men. Halkar told me that he was but the disciple of one immeasurably greater, who had died, indeed, with many of the primal secrets of existence locked in his bosom because there was no one left behind with whom he dared to trust them.”

“Tell me about these secrets,” Eleanor said. “Were they of the past, or of the future? And what have you or I to do with them?”

“We are children of the ages,” he answered, “and it is our heritage to learn. Halkar taught me much. He set me down at the gate of that wonderful inner world. He placed in my hands the key. With your aid, it is possible that I may pass inside.”

“With my aid!” Eleanor exclaimed breathlessly. “How can that be? What could I do?”

He smiled at her, and Eleanor felt again that vague fear stirring in her heart.

“One day Halkar took me to a native village. We went to the house of a rich man. We found him at home, just returned from hunting. He was handsome, hospitable, and, it seemed to me, intelligent. But just before we left Halkar asked him a question about the great storm which laid waste the village and the whole countryside only a year before. He looked puzzled, answered us courteously, but vaguely. He remembered nothing.”

He paused.

“There was an English nurse-girl,” he continued. “Halkar took me to see her. She was plump, rosy, and good-natured. She was engaged to be married to a gentleman’s servant, and she chattered away gaily, and told me all about it. A year before a mad fakir had run amuck, had killed a soldier to whom she was to have been married the next day, and both the children who had been in her charge. The shock had nearly sent her mad. Yet when Halkar spoke to her of these things she looked puzzled. She remembered nothing.”

“Well?” Eleanor asked.

“Their memory,” he said slowly, “was gone. Their reason was saved. Halkar was the physician.”

She shivered, and sat looking into the fire with eyes full of fear.

“Halkar,” he said, “had learned much, but there was more still. It has taken me many years, but at last I believe that I have learned the secret which baffled him all his days. All that I need is a subject.”

There was a short, tense silence. Eleanor sat quite still, nervously clasping and unclasping her hands, her eyes steadfastly fixed upon the fire. He watched her covertly.

“You know so little of me,” she murmured, “I am almost a stranger to you. How can you tell whether I should be suitable—even if I were willing?”

“You will remember the two cases which I have mentioned to you,” he answered. “The man was chosen by Halkar because in the great storm he had lost wife, and friends, and children, and in his grief he prayed for forgetfulness. The girl was chosen because the tragedy which she had witnessed had driven her far along the road to madness, and this merciful loss of memory was her salvation, also. The reason you have been chosen is because I looked into your eyes, and it seemed to me that I saw there more than the ordinary weariness of life. Then I heard you speak, and in your tone, too, was more than the ordinary bitterness of misfortune. Listen, I will tell you more. I will tell you what as yet I have not breathed to a living soul.”

She caught his enthusiasm—a fierce, compelling thing.

“You are a Christian?” he asked.

“I have tried to be,” she faltered.

“You believe, at least, in the eternity of human life? You must believe in it. In nature there is no death, no annihilation. All that takes place is transmutation! That is obvious,” he declared.

“Well?”

“So in human life! The body rots; the spirit passes—where?”

He continued with scarcely a moment’s pause:

“Down the broad avenues of time, to appear in a thousand different forms and shapes. A king in one age is a serf in another, a savage this century is a scholar in the next. Has there never been a moment in your life when a sense of unreality has seized you? You doubt for a moment your own identity, you are haunted by miragelike thoughts, beautiful, or sad; you are strangely out of touch with your surroundings. Watch a great concourse of people. It is the most fascinating thing in the world.

“You will see a beggar who has now and then some trick of carriage or gesture or speech which has survived his body’s degradation, and which reminds you of a king. Or you will see one of the great ones of the earth, if you watch closely enough, do some small thing, or speak some chance word which has crept out unheeded, very likely repeated, yet which could have no kinship with his present state.

“There are people who have visited a strange country for the first time in their lives, and found there a street-corner, a shop, or byway which has awakened a peculiar and inexplicable sense of familiarity. They have never been there before, never read of the place, yet the sense of familiarity is there. I have seen a boy fall asleep, and heard him croon an old Mexican war-song, a song of the time of Cortez and the Incas, in an almost forgotten language—a boy who awake is a messenger at a draper’s, unimaginative, ignorant, stupid. The secret of these things will one day be yielded up to science. You and I together may become immortal.”

He ended with a little laugh. The fierce eagerness had burned itself out. Of the two, Eleanor was now the more disturbed.

“I should like to know how it feels,” she said thoughtfully, “to be without a memory, to start life at twenty-two.”

“The things outside your own personal experiences are never lost to you,” he said. “They come back in a perfectly effortless manner. You will find yourself accepting them as a matter of course.”

“How do you know that?” she asked. “One might have to learn to read and write again. Life without any background at all would become a gigantic embarrassment.”

“There is no fear of anything of the sort,” he assured her. “Halkar’s friend and the girl related to me their own experiences. They were precisely similar. It was of events and persons alone that their mind was swept bare. Their stock of acquired knowledge remained unimpaired. Sometimes they even dimly remembered people.”

“But there are also many other considerations,” she said. “What will become of me afterward?”

“My dear young lady,” he said, “I do not ask you to risk your life, however remotely, for nothing. I would give half my fortune, were it necessary, to win your consent. As it is, I promise you freedom and independence. You shall live the life which seems good to you. You will be removed into another sphere altogether, and it is possible that you may take with you a somewhat cloudy recollection of this portion of your life. Your reward will be an established position in the world and an honorable one. Beyond this I cannot say a single word. In fact, you must consider the whole thing as only a possibility.

“I consent,” she said simply.

There was a momentary flash in his gray eyes—otherwise he showed no emotion. He had long since taken her consent as a matter of course.

“There is one thing more which is necessary,” he said. “You must tell me who you are, and if you have any friends who would be likely to make inquiries for you. I take it for granted that you have no closer ties. It is imperative that I have this knowledge.”

She looked up at him with white face. “Do you mean that?”

“You can surely see the necessity for it yourself,” he answered. “You are virtually going to change your identity. The Eleanor Surtoes of a month hence will know nothing of your past. Some one must be entrusted with that knowledge.”

“It is a great pain to me,” she said wearily, “to speak of it at all. But to-night nothing seems to matter. My name is Eleanor Surtoes Marston. My father was Sir Robert Marston. He was a banker at Hull—Ellifield, Marston and Ellifield. You read the papers. I dare say you remember.”

He inclined his head slowly.

“My mother was dead. I had neither brother nor sister, nor any friends save those whom my father’s prodigality had brought together. When exposure came, my father killed himself. He left a letter telling me where to find a large sum of money which he had put on one side. He had meant to leave England secretly. I returned the money to the bank. They heard afterward that I was destitute, and they sent me ten pounds. I came to London, and did my best to get a situation, but I was ignorant, ill brought up, and uselessly educated. I could do a great many things in a small way, but nothing well enough to teach. With only a few shillings left, I wrote to a large firm of drapers in Hull with whom I had dealt. They sent me an introduction to Bearmain’s, and I entered their employ as a shop girl ten months ago. I have done my best, but I left to-night, knowing that whatever happened I should never return.”

“There is no one, then,” he asked, “who is likely to make inquiries about you? No one who could trace you here?”

“There is no one,” she answered bitterly.

Powers looked at his watch.

“I am going to leave you alone for a quarter of an hour,” he said. “I do not think that it will make any difference, but I should like you to have that time for unbiased reflection.”

“As you like,” she answered. “I shall not change my mind. I am ready.”

She sat before the fire, her eyes fixed upon the burning coals. She heard muffled voices in the hall, she heard Powers enter an adjoining room, and close the door behind him. Her fingers clutched the sides of her chair, her eyeballs were hot. For the first time a spasm of physical fear seized her. He had gone to make ready. What if it should be death? She had spoken boldly of it but a moment before. Yet she was young, for good or evil her life was as yet unlived. Then with a rush came back the memory of the last ten months. The hopeless weariness of those days behind the counter, the miserable humiliation of it, the web of bitter despair drawn so closely and inevitably around her. All the petty tyrannies to which she had been subject, all the fettering restrictions which had gone to turn servitude into slavery were suddenly fresh in her mind. A hideous vista of dreary days and lonely nights—nowhere a ray of hope; the same, yesterday, today, and all other days. The fear passed away from her. Death might have its terrors, but a return to Bearmain’s would be a living hell. She heard the door open without a single tremor. She even smiled as she saw Powers standing upon the threshold.

“You have not changed your mind?” he asked.

“There was never any fear of that,” she answered. “I am quite ready.”

He held open the door. “Will you come this way?” he said.

She rose at once, without reluctance or fear—even gladly. He was beckoning her into a new life.

* * * * *

Sir Powers Fiske permitted himself the luxury of a rare emotion. His patient had come back to life. The faint flush of recovery was upon her cheeks, the light of a dawning intelligence was in her eyes. The first stage of his great experiment had been successfully reached.

“So you are better, I see!” he remarked, standing by her bedside.

She answered him a little weakly, but distinctly enough.

“I suppose I am. I feel quite well enough to get up. Only——”

“Well?”

There was trouble in her eyes as she looked up at him.

“It seems as though I must be dreaming. I can’t remember what has happened to me—why I am here!”

He smiled at her reassuringly.

“I wouldn’t bother about it,” he said. “You are with friends, and you must try to get well quickly. I dare say when you are stronger that it will all come back to you.”

She looked at him reflectively.

“You are a stranger to me,” she said slowly. “Is there no one here whom I have ever seen before?”

He felt a sudden chill. Yet, after all, it was what he had expected.

“I do not suppose that there is,” he answered. “You see, you are in London now. I thought, perhaps, that you might have remembered me. I was in India, and came to see you when you were a little girl.”

“In India!” she repeated vaguely. “Why, what can have happened to me? I do not remember anything about India.”

She raised her hand to her temples. Her eyes were full of an undefined fear. The words came from her lips in a broken stream.

“You are my doctor, they say, and this is your house. Tell me what it means—tell me. I try to think, and there is nothing. Something has happened to my head. Have I been ill for long? Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here?”

“I will answer all your questions,” he said quietly, “but you must please not excite yourself. Your name is Eleanor Hardinge, and you were shipwrecked on your way from India here. Your father is an old friend of mine, and you were coming to England to visit my mother. You met with a very unusual accident. You will notice that your head is still bound up, and, no doubt, it will affect your memory for some little time. You must try to make the best of it. You are among friends, and we shall all do our best to look after you.”

She felt the bandage around her head.

“I can’t even remember the accident,” she said. “I suppose it will all come back some day.”

“There is no doubt about it,” he answered. “All that you have to do now is to keep as quiet as you can. The less you try to think the better.”

The nurse entered with a tray. Eleanor sat up and smiled with the satisfaction of a child.

“You are hungry!” he remarked.

“I think so,” she answered. “I should like some chicken, please. No more beef tea.”

“You remember what chicken tastes like, then,” he said. “That is a proof, you see, that your memory still lives. Let me ask you another question. Who is your favorite author?”

“Shakespeare!” she answered promptly.

He nodded approvingly.

“You see that you need have no fear,” he said. “Your loss of memory is only partial. Now, I am going to leave you to have your dinner. Do not talk too much, and try to sleep as much as you can.”

Her eyes sought his fixedly, pathetically. She seemed suddenly moved by a new fear. Her large eyes, a little sunken now, were dilated.

“I—I have forgotten my name again,” she cried. “It is horrible. What is it. Tell me quickly.”

“You are Eleanor Hardinge,” he said. “You are perfectly safe, and you will soon be quite well.”

“But I am afraid,” she cried, with a sudden shrill note of terror. “My head is going round. I cannot think clearly.”

He took her hand in his. There was something soothing in the touch of his firm, cool fingers.

“You have no cause for fear,” he said reassuringly—“none whatever. You are getting better and stronger every hour.”

She raised herself a little from among the pillows. Her eyes sought his eagerly. Her hands refused to let his go.

“I am afraid,” she moaned. “There are shadows everywhere among my thoughts. Tell me. Have I been mad? Am I going to be mad?”

His fingers strayed to her pulse. He smiled upon her as one smiles upon a child.

“Nonsense! Look at me.”

His eyes held her.

“You are not going to be mad. You are merely suffering from a great shock. By and by everything will be clear to you. You must not be impatient. I promise you that you will soon be well.”

Outside the door on the landing he stood and wiped the dampness from his forehead. He knew that she had been on the verge of brain fever, that even now she was scarcely safe. The impulse which had taken him into her room was an irresistible one. He felt that he must see her. He had looked into her opened eyes, he had heard her speak. The change, which he alone could understand, which he alone was responsible for, appalled him. He was bewildered by a feeling of personal loss. The soul of Eleanor Surtoes seemed to have passed away with her sense of personal consciousness. It was another woman who lay there in his guest-chamber.

Afterward she slept. He dined mechanically, and without the ghost of an appetite. The rest of the night he spent with a pile of medical books and a note-book kept during his stay in India open before him. In the early morning he looked out upon the gray dawn-lit streets, haggard, and with a gnawing fear at his heart. He was unnerved. The ordinary sounds of the waking household, the street cries outside, the rattling of carts, jarred upon him. He glanced in the looking-glass, and was startled at his own reflection. Softly he opened the door and made his way into the room where Eleanor lay.

Her deep-brown hair lay about the pillow in some confusion. One long white arm, thin but graceful, hung over the coverlet. Her face, notwithstanding its pallor, was like the face of a little child. A certain, almost pathetic, sharpness of outline, which in the days of his first acquaintance with her had been only too noticeable, seemed to him to have faded away. Her closed eyes were no longer windows through which shone the tragical misery of her bitter life. The lines about her mouth and forehead had all been smoothed away. And with these things—something else. He found himself struggling with a sense of unfamiliarity. After all, it was still Eleanor. If only he could persuade himself of it.

He looked at her long and steadily. Then he left the room and entered the library. For a time he sat at his desk, irresolute. More than once he drew note-paper toward him and dipped his pen in the ink. He was wholly unaccustomed to this indecision. Yet the way before him, which had seemed so clear only a short while back, seemed now beset with anxieties. It was not technical skill or knowledge that he needed. So far as these were concerned, his self-confidence was unimpaired. Only a new sense of responsibility, a strange new web of fears, seemed suddenly to have paralyzed his enthusiasm.

For the first time in his life he felt the need for advice—the stimulus of sympathy. Yet for hours that note remained unwritten. He was unable to account for his hesitation. The man whom he was about to summon would approve of all that he had done. He was sure of that. Yet he was oppressed by the shadow of some nameless fear, some instinct that seemed to be doing its utmost to warn him against this course which, from any ordinary point of view, was both natural and advisable. Afterward those hours of hesitation ranked as history with him. At the time he was ashamed of them.

The note was written at last, and despatched by an urgent messenger. He bathed, changed his clothes, and ate some breakfast. Just as he had finished, a small brougham stopped at the door. Doctor Trowse was announced. It was the man for whom he had sent. Even at the moment of his entrance, Powers found himself struggling with an insane desire to abandon his purpose, to invent some trifling excuse and to keep silence.

The two men shook hands silently.

Trowse looked ten years younger than his age, which was forty-five, and he was now the greatest known authority upon diseases of the brain. He eyed Powers curiously.

“What is wrong with you?” he asked.

“Nothing,” replied the other.

“You sent for me,” Trowse reminded him, “and if you waste my time you’ll have to pay for it. These are my busiest hours.”

Powers came back to the present. It was too late to hesitate. He smiled grimly.

“You won’t want payment,” he said, “when you have heard why I sent for you.”

A light like the flashing of fire upon polished steel lit up for a moment those strange-colored eyes. Yet in other respects the man was unmoved. Not a muscle of his face twitched.

“You have found a subject?” he said.

“I have.”

“You are going to attempt the operation, or you want me to?”

“It is done.”

Trowse set down his hat, and deliberately selected a chair.

“You’ve pluck!” he remarked. “Dead or alive?”

“Alive.”

The absence of any sentiment of triumph in Powers’ face or tone made its impression upon the older man. He decided at once that the thing had gone wrong.

“Alive! In what condition is he?”

“It’s a she,” Powers answered.

“Better subject perhaps. Go on.”

“She has recovered consciousness. So far everything has gone according to calculation.”

“You administered your Indian drug?”

“Yes. I was going to tell you. She is conscious, and physically unhurt”

“The memory?”

“Gone!”

Trowse rose briskly.

“Let me see her,” he insisted. “Then we will talk.”

Silently they made their way to the bedroom. She had made a somewhat fastidious toilet, and wore, with the air of one who has been used to such things all her life, a dressing-jacket trimmed with lace, which was among the things which Marian Fiske had sent. Her hair was tied up with ribbon, and skilfully arranged to hide the bandages on her head. The delicacy of her face and hands seemed heightened by the faint spot of color which flushed her cheeks as the two men entered the room.

“I have brought a friend of mine,” Powers said after a few words to Eleanor and the nurse, “to congratulate me upon my case. This is Doctor Trowse, nurse. I know that he considers me a dangerous amateur, and I want to convince him that I am nothing of the sort.”

Trowse moved a little forward, and Eleanor turned her head to meet his earnest gaze. Almost immediately there was a change in her expression. The color faded from her cheeks, she shrank a little away, a curious, troubled light filled her eyes. Trowse, if he noticed her agitation, ignored it. He bent over the bedside, and touched her fingers, asked a few apparently careless questions, and let his hand rest for a moment upon her head. Then he turned away and addressed the nurse.

“Sir Powers has justified himself,” he said, with a faint smile. “Your patient is going to have the good sense to get well very quickly.”

Eleanor drew a little breath, as though immensely relieved. She turned her head a little, so as to leave him altogether out of her range of vision. Powers, who, to some extent, misunderstood her action, exchanged quick glances with Trowse. The desire for life was there once more, then.

“I am glad to hear it, sir,” the nurse answered quietly. “She seems to be going on very nicely.”

Without turning her head toward him, Eleanor addressed Trowse.

“Will you please tell me something?”

“If I can.”

“When shall I remember things?”

He looked at her thoughtfully. She kept her eyes averted, but she seemed to be shivering a little.

“Perhaps tomorrow,” he answered. “Perhaps not for a year. It is one of those things which science is powerless to determine.”

“But I shall—remember—some day?”

“Some day—certainly. Let me ask you a question.”

“Well?”

“Are you very anxious to remember?”

“It is so puzzling,” she answered. “Sometimes I want to very much, sometimes I am content.”

There was a moment’s silence. As though against her will, she turned her head and looked up at him standing over her bedside. Again there was the faint shrinking away, again her troubled eyes seemed held by his against her will.

“I will give you some advice, young lady,” he said. “Let things go. You have made a marvelous recovery. The completion of it is in your own hands. Accept the present. If the past eludes you—let it. You will remember this?”

Eleanor remained speechless, though her lips seemed to move. Every word, though easily spoken, seemed to come to her charged with a precise and serious meaning. His tone was unemotional, his manner was not even earnest. Yet she never forgot. The two men left the room. By common consent, they turned into the study. Trowse eyed his friend curiously.

“I wonder,” he said, “what the devil made you send for me?”

Sir Powers Fiske did not immediately reply. The two men stood side by side upon the hearthrug. Trowse, who seemed to have forgotten his hurry, lit a cigarette and threw the match into the fire.

“I scarcely see,” he said, “where I come in. You have your chance, you have taken it, and you have succeeded. Very well! What do you want with me? If it had been before the risk was over, I could have understood it. At present I must admit that I cannot.”

Powers answered as one who makes a confession.

“I have lost my nerve,” he said.

Trowse looked at him oddly.

“I might believe that of some men,” he said, “not of you. Besides, the risk is over. The girl will live. You know that as well as I do.”

“She will live,” Powers answered, “yes! That is certain. And yet, since she opened her eyes, since I heard her speak, I have felt myself nothing less than a murderer. That is what I am. A murderer, Trowse.”

Trowse stared at his friend for several moments without speaking—a cold, deliberate inspection. Then he sighed.

“You are not the man you were, Powers,” he said, speaking softly, and as though to himself. “It isn’t drink, and you don’t smoke much. What has happened to your nerves?”

Powers looked steadfastly and gloomily out of the window.

“I cannot tell you,” he answered. “You know me better than most men, Trowse. You have never seen me turn a hair at any operation yet. Together we have watched death come to strong men and to beautiful women. These things have never troubled me. I have never felt anything more than curiosity. Yet there is a weak spot somewhere. I have learned what fear is.”

Trowse eyed his friend with interest.

“If the girl were dead,” he remarked meditatively, “it might have turned out awkwardly for you. As it is, you seem to have stumbled across a very nearly perfect physical creature. She is less likely to die than you or I. In a fortnight she will be recovered.”

Powers frowned impatiently.

“You have not made a study of this thing as I have, Trowse,” he said. “Yours is the purely scientific point of view. You do not see—what lies beyond.”

Trowse shook his head.

“I do not understand you,” he said simply.

“I want you to understand,” Powers declared. “We have talked of this thing many times, until it has grown to seem a simple thing. We forgot!”

“Forgot what?”

“Forgot that the continuity of life, after all, is purely physical. Behind—there is a woman slain—up there a woman created.”

Trowse, for a moment, was bewildered. A searching glance into the other’s face showed him that Powers was in earnest. He became contemplative.

“I am not sure that I understand you, Powers,” he said slowly. “In fact, I am sure that I do not. We have watched operations together, when, to our certain knowledge, the knife has gone a little deeper, has gone a little more to the left or right, in order that some addition might be made to the sum of human knowledge. You have never blenched. We have seen men die whose lives might have been prolonged, if not altogether spared, that the race to come might benefit. Tacitly, you and I have always recognized the principle that the individual must be the servant of humanity. Therefore, as I say, I do not understand your present attitude.”

“I am not sure, Trowse, that I can make you understand,” Powers answered. “Only remember this: Our point of view is probably not the same. You are a materialist pure and simple. I am not!”

“Proceed!”

“In the cases which you have mentioned it is the body only which has suffered. In this case, the body has survived, but something else—has been destroyed. You know the danger which still exists.”

Trowse nodded.

“Lunacy! That, of course, is a possibility.”

Powers shivered slightly.

“It is a possibility,” he admitted. “Even if she remains sane, will you tell me this? What connection can there be between the mind of the girl of a month ago and the woman of a month to come?”

“It is an interesting psychological problem,” Trowse answered, “which we shall know more about shortly. I must admit, though, that your position is inexplicable to me. Fortune has given you a marvelous opportunity. I cannot conceive how you could have acted differently. I cannot understand your present hesitation. If you wish for any sort of cooperation on my part, tell me how you first met this young woman, and under what circumstances you persuaded her to become your patient.”

In a few words Powers told him.

There was a short silence. Trowse was regarding his friend with cold surprise.

“All that you tell me,” he said, “makes your present hesitation the more extraordinary. Your scruples are unworthy of you. They would be unworthy of you even if you belonged to that sickly order of sentimentalists who would shrink from killing a poisonous snake because the reptile had been given life. According to your own showing, the girl was in an intolerable position. She enters upon her new life with every prospect of happiness. Believe me, Powers, the hand which struck away the bridge between her past and future was the hand of a benefactor.”

“I suppose you must be right,” Powers murmured.

“Right! It is hopelessly obvious,” Trowse answered. “If this hesitation is anything more than a passing mood with you, I shall be amazed. You probably saved the girl from moral shipwreck—you have transported her into a life which she could certainly never have reached by any other means!”

In his tone and in his face were signs of a rare and intense enthusiasm. The eyes of the two men met. Trowse continued, with a gesture stiff, but almost dramatic:

“Man, it is wonderful! I could kill you as you stand there, for envy. It is among the possibilities that you, a dilettante, a dabbler, may solve the secret of all the ages past and to come. It may be that she will sing to you the songs that Pocahontas sang to the great god of the Indians or you may wake in the night to hear the wail of one of those daughters of Judah led captive into Egypt. Perhaps she was a priestess in the time-forgotten cities of Africa, gone before our history crept into being, swept who knows where off the face of the earth!”

Powers was shaking with excitement. This sudden eloquence from the one man on earth whose cold self-restraint had become a byword moved him strangely.

“Well,” he said, “for good or for evil, the thing must go through as it has been arranged. I am glad that you are interested, Trowse. It may be that I shall need your help.”

“Likely enough,” Trowse answered shortly. “It seems to me that you have let go some of the old ideas. Believe me, they were the safest. The man who has work to do in the world has no greater enemy than this shifting sentimentalism. May I come and see your patient tomorrow?”

“You may see her as often as you like,” Powers answered, “so long as you let me know beforehand that you are coming.”

“I thank you,” Trowse answered, with a cold smile. “You need have no fear that I shall attempt any single-handed experiments. Only, if you want my advice, don’t give her over to society, no matter what your promise was. Why on earth don’t you keep her quietly to yourself here instead of sending her to her mother? What do you want to go publishing her to the world at all for? A thousand things may happen if you carry out this hairbrained scheme of yours. She may even want to marry. She is good-looking enough. You might easily lose her altogether.”

Powers was suddenly pale. There were, indeed, many possibilities which he had not seriously considered. Yet he never hesitated.

“I must keep my word to her,” he said. “I shall do it at all costs.”

“You are a fool,” Trowse declared bluntly. “Make her your wife. Bind her to you. Make sure of her.”

Powers walked to the door with his visitor.

“It is useless to argue with you,” he said. “We look at the matter from different points of view. The girl risked her life to gain a certain end. She has won, and she shall have her reward.”

* * * * *

With the passage of the months, Eleanor, little by little, entered upon a strange new life in accordance with what had been promised her. Through the London social season she went about with Lady Fiske and was admired and sought after everywhere. It was as though a magician had touched her face, and there had passed away from it all sense of trouble, all evil memories, every trace of suffering. The troubled mouth seemed ever ready to break into laughter, the faint lines and wrinkles had faded completely away. She was years younger. The light of past sorrows had gone from her eyes, they remained only the mirror of the brightest and gayest things in life. In her youth, her beauty, and her almost assertive joie de vivre she seemed like a child among the little company by whom she was constantly surrounded wherever she went in her soulless, indefatigable quest for amusement.

“Are you not afraid, Eleanor, that some day you will grow tired of amusing yourself?” Powers asked her one night at a dinner where she had outshone all others.

A peal of light, sweet laughter rang out above the babel of conversation. Everyone looked toward Eleanor’s table. She was leaning a little forward in her chair, her lips parted, her cheeks flushed, her eyes alight with enjoyment. A single row of pearls encircled her long, graceful neck, her shoulders and bare arms were dazzlingly soft, her hair gleamed in the shaded lamplight.

“No! Why on earth should I? What else is there to do?”

“What about amusing other people sometimes—by way of change?”

She smiled delightfully.

“How dull! I suppose you mean have a night class for boys, or get up concerts to send ragged children to the seaside.”

“Why not? Such things are kindly enough; they do good! They are excellent things for a girl to interest herself in.”

“But it wouldn’t amuse me at all, Powers! I should be bored to death.”

“And you are going to think of nothing but amusing yourself all your life?” he asked slowly.

“Why not?” she answered lightly.

Powers turned his face away in quick vexation, to encounter his mother’s disapproving glance focused on Eleanor from a near-by table.

For Lady Fiske, ever ready to further her son’s scientific projects, had lent the girl her social patronage, and had tried to blind herself to the arrant selfishness and inconsideration that she everywhere encountered in their intercourse. Between Eleanor and Powers’ sister Marian there was almost less in common, for the Eleanor of a month ago had ceased to exist. Beautiful, brilliant, hard, she flitted like a butterfly through the world that Powers had promised her, beating her wings in a mad pursuit of amusement and pleasure, commanding homage and self-sacrifice with a touch as hard as steel.

Powers breathed a long sigh and there was a careworn look in his eyes as he glanced again at the girl in front of him.

Almost immediately Lady Fiske rose, and the women passed out. Trowse stood back among the shadows behind the small table at which he had been sitting, and steadfastly watched the girl of whom he and Marian Fiske had been talking. Prosperity had indeed had a wonderful effect upon Eleanor’s looks. The light of perfect health had flushed her delicate cheeks, her figure had filled out; she carried herself with a grace and confidence which took no count of those days of slow torture through which she had passed. Yet there was about her beauty some faint note of peculiarity which had puzzled others before Trowse. He asked himself what it was as she passed out, a queen running the gantlet of a court of admiring eyes, fresh, exquisitely natural, the living embodiment of light-hearted gaiety. When at last the door was closed and the men drew nearer together, he smiled quietly to himself.

“It is like one of those pictures,” he murmured, “which come near to breaking the heart of the painter. It is perfect in color and form, it is beautiful—and yet it does not live. There is no background.”

He moved to a table nearer the center of the room from which he could watch his host. The heavily shaded lights were kind enough to the faces of the men who sat laughing together over their cigarettes, but Trowse was a keen watcher, and he saw things which were hardly apparent to a casual observer. Powers had altered during the last few months. There were curious lines about his mouth, his eyes were a little sunken, his geniality was a trifle forced. Trowse smiled grimly.

“Conscience!” he muttered to himself. “Powers was never quite free from the sentimentalities of life. What a fool to trifle with such an opportunity!”

He waited for his chance, and moved up presently to his host’s table. Powers welcomed him, but without heartiness. It happened that for the moment the two were virtually isolated. Trowse leaned over toward the other.

“How does the great experiment go?” he asked, in a low tone.

Powers visibly flinched. He glanced around him nervously.

“I want to talk to you about her, Trowse,” he said. “I can’t expect your sympathy, and you can’t help me—you nor any other man. But I’ve got to talk to some one—or go mad.”

Trowse nodded with the air of a Sphinx. “Well?”

“She is so horribly changed,” Powers said. “Can’t you see it? Of course you can’t judge because you did not know her before. Trowse, I feel like a man who has created a monster, who has breathed life into some evil thing and let it loose upon the world.”

Trowse smiled grimly.

“Personally,” he said, “I admit that I am no judge. I understand, however, that society in general scarcely takes the same view of Miss Hardinge. Isn’t she supposed to be rather a beauty?”

Powers beat impatiently with his hand upon the table.

“You know that I am not talking about her looks. She’s beautiful enough to bewitch every man who comes near her—and she does it.”

“It must be a little inconvenient for you,” Trowse remarked. “Beyond that, I scarcely see your point.”

“Man, you have eyes,” Powers exclaimed, with subdued passion. “I have seen you studying her closely when you fancied yourself undisturbed. You can see what I see. She is like a marvelous piece of mechanism. The working of it is perfect, but it isn’t human. She is ready to be amused at anything; she is never serious for a single moment. She is only alive upon the sensuous side. Confound it, Trowse, don’t look at me like that. She has no soul. There is nothing alight inside.”

Trowse broke the short silence.

“I am to take it, then,” he said coldly, “that you abandon the experiment. In your present condition it is, I suppose, inevitable. You have lost all influence over her. It would be hopeless to expect her to respond to your will.”

“I have already abandoned it,” Powers answered. “I curse the day and the thought which made me ever attempt it.”

“It is as well, then,” Trowse answered, “to give you fair warning. I do not propose to stand by quietly and watch your folly.”

“What do you mean?” Powers demanded.

“This: That if you do not carry this thing through—I shall!”

Powers sprang to his feet, his face was dark with passion.

“If you should dare to interfere,” he cried, “if you should make the slightest attempt to——”

“Stop!”

The monosyllable came like a pistol-shot, incisive, compelling! There was a breathless silence. Trowse continued, and his words were cold and hard.

“Do not threaten me,” he said. “You should know better than that. You should know exactly of how much account I hold my life when it comes to a question of adding to the sum of human knowledge. I shall do as I say. My decision is unalterable.”

Powers was a man again.

“It is well to be prepared,” he said. “I thank you for your warning. Take mine in return. I have as little fear of death as you, and I think that my love for Eleanor is a passion as strong as your devotion to science. I tell you that I will not have her made the subject of your experiments. I will not have her life or reason imperiled, even to solve the greatest of all mysteries.”

Trowse shrugged his shoulders.

“I think,” he said, “that we understand one another perfectly.”

Their talk fanned a growing distrust of Trowse that Fiske had felt for weeks. He knew the man’s hypnotic power, he saw the fascination with which his friend haunted Eleanor’s side at gatherings where her clear bright laugh would suddenly cease and a look almost of terror creep into her eyes with Trowse’s entrance. Then she forgot every one else and yielded herself to his spell.

Very subtly, very deftly, Trowse pursued his cold-blooded course of experiment while Powers in vain sought to end it. At last he forbade Trowse to enter his home and all went well until returning one day, at an unexpected hour, Powers heard from his library ringing through the house, through closed doors and curtained hallways, the cry of a woman in mortal fear.

He sprang to the door and threw it open. Outside all was silent. There was no repetition of the cry. Then a fainter sound reached him—a low, convulsive moaning as of some creature in pain. He crossed the hall, ran wildly down a long passage, and flung open the door of the little sitting-room which had been given to Eleanor for her own. With his foot upon the threshold he paused for a second. He heard stealthy movements in the hall, the front door softly opened and shut. On the floor before him, white and motionless, Eleanor was lying.

He knew that this was Trowse’s work; he ran to the front door with murder in his heart but there was no sight of anyone. Marian, too, from the drawing room had heard the door close softly.

Powers sat with Eleanor’s hand in his, watching for her return to consciousness. Her fingers lay in his, cold and passive, her hair was in wild disorder, and her face was still deadly pale. He bent over the closed eyes, and a fierce, passionate desire crept into his heart. If only she might wake up as he had known her first. If only these terrible months of her second existence might be blotted out forever. He was content to have failed in his great experiment. He had no longer any ambition to add to the sum of human knowledge. The memory of Halkar and his patients had become a nightmare to him. Forever he would have been content to remain ignorant of those things which lay now so short a distance beyond. It was an unexpected lesson which he had learned, a strange fever which had wrought so marvelous a transformation in him. The old ideals were dead and buried, life itself had become centered around the girl who lay by his side now, white and inanimate.

At last with a little shiver she opened her eyes.

* * * * *

Physically, Eleanor became at that time a puzzle both to Powers and to the physician whom he called in to attend upon her. From an almost animal perfection of health, she passed after her recovery from that prolonged fainting fit into a state of nervous prostration, the more remarkable from its contrast to her former robustness. She lost her color, her light gracefulness of movement, her brilliant gaiety of manner. She moved about listlessly, with pallid cheeks, and always with a strange gleam in her eyes—of expectancy, mingled with apprehension.

“It is so absurd—so horrible—to look back—and to remember nothing,” she said one day, with a little break in her voice. “I want to see some one who really belongs to me—my father, or my uncle, or some one. Perhaps that would help me—to remember.”

“My dear,” Powers said, “I am afraid that you would never be able to find your father. He is in China on a secret mission for the Government. That is why he cannot write or receive letters. You must be content with us for a little longer. We may hear from your uncle any day.”

There was a dead silence. In her face were traces of a strange new nervousness.

“If I could get away—a long distance away!” Eleanor exclaimed, with a sudden tremulous emotion. “If only I could.”

Powers took one of her restless hands in his.

“Eleanor,” he said, “we have been talking about taking you to a little place we have in Lincolnshire, close to the sea. There will be only Marian and I. You shall be alone as much as you choose. No one shall come near you whom you do not care to see.”

She looked at him almost wistfully.

“To-morrow!” she repeated.

They left London early the next morning and Eleanor, with a face that was almost haggard leaned wearily back in the train and scarcely spoke during the entire trip.

Toward the end of dinner, on the evening of their arrival, Powers threw open the French windows and let in the deep music of the sea. She started to her feet with a strange little cry.

“Hark!”

It was the first sign of her awakening interest in life.

“The tide is coming in,” Powers said. “You see the beach is just below the gardens.”

She stepped through the window and crossed the lawn. From there a winding path led down to the beach. She never paused until she stood upon the shingle, with her pale, rapt face turned seaward. Powers followed noiselessly close behind. Almost to their feet, the long waves came thundering in, weird and ghostlike. She stood like a statue, her lips parted, her bosom rising and falling quickly under her dinner-gown.

“Listen,” she murmured, “it is the old cry, unending, everlasting. Where have I heard it before? Oh, tell me! Tell me!”

“I cannot,” he answered. “I would that I could!”

She paid no more attention to him. She stood with her face turned seaward, listening—always listening. He went back to the house and brought wraps. She let him adjust them without thanks or remark. Soon the gathering darkness blotted out everything except the faint phosphorescent light on the tops of the breaking waves.

“Come,” he said at last, touching her arm gently, “it is late, and we have left Marian alone.”

She did not move, but soon Marian came out and called to them. Then she permitted him to lead her slowly toward the house, pausing every now and then to listen. A faint moon was shining through a misty sky, and he caught a glimpse of her face, which startled him. It was as though she were listening to voices which he could not hear. There was the breath of another world about her.

“Are you afraid of being dull here?” he asked. “You see, we have no neighbors, and the village is a mile away.”

She smiled curiously.

“There is never any dullness,” she said, “where that is!”

He was prepared for changes in her, but this sudden transition from a materialism almost gross was staggering. It was only a few weeks ago that he had watched in vain for a single sign of feeling in her face. Now she was pale almost to the lips with emotion.

The next afternoon she called to him. He sprang up and found her standing in the open window dressed for walking. Even in his first rapid glance he saw a wonderful change in her appearance. Her cheeks were flushed, and her eyes bright. Once more she carried herself with the old lightsome grace. She called to him gaily.

“Come for a walk, Powers! I am going to take you somewhere.”

He caught up his stick and hat, and followed her. Then he saw that the color in her cheeks was not wholly natural. She was nervous and excited.

“Why not inland, Eleanor?” he suggested. “Let us go to Turton Woods.”

She seemed scarcely to have heard him. Already she was well on her way shoreward.

He caught her up in a few strides. The tide had gone down, and they walked dry-footed along the road. Above their heads the larks were singing, and in their faces the freshening sea wind blew.

Her head was thrown back, her lips were parted. She drank in the breeze as though it were wine.

“This is the wind which Ulric and his men always loved,” she murmured. “A wind from the north to the shore. Can’t you feel the sting of the Iceland snows?”

“Not I?” he answered, laughing. “To me it is soft and warm enough. But then, you know, I have no imagination.”

“Powers,” she said suddenly, “I want to ask you a question. Is there any fear of my going mad?”

He started violently.

“Certainly not!” he answered. “Why do you ask me such a question?”

“I know that I am not like other girls,” she said wistfully. “I cannot remember my father, or my life in India, or the voyage. When I try to think about these things my head plays me such strange tricks. I cannot remember where I was, or what I was doing a year ago—but——”

“Go on. Tell me exactly how you feel,” he said encouragingly. “It will help me to put you right.”

“But behind all that,” she continued hesitatingly, “I seem to remember many strange things—things which must have happened a long, long time ago. They are not things I have been told about, or read of! I can remember them. They must have happened to me. Powers, it makes me afraid.”

He looked at her with ill-concealed excitement.

“It is the sea,” she murmured, “which seems always to be reminding me of things.”

She came a little closer to him. His heart beat fiercely. Her eyes sought his—the appeal of the weak to the strong. He crushed down his joy—yet it shone in his face, trembled in his tone.

“Shall I ever be like other girls?”

He took her hands in his. She yielded them readily, but they were cold as ice.

“I am perfectly sure of it,” he declared. “You must trust in me and be patient.”

She held his hands tightly as though wrung with a sudden emotion—an emotion which he realized was one of fear alone.

“Powers,” she begged, “will you lock my door at night? Lock all the doors in the house.”

“You have been walking in your sleep!” he said. “Tell me about it. You must tell me everything, Eleanor, if I am to succeed.”

“Not in my sleep,” she answered, in a low tone, “but at night, when everything is quiet, the sea calls and calls, and I cannot rest. I woke suddenly this morning at three o’clock, and I went out. Powers, as I walked and listened, the wind and the sea came to me like old friends. I remembered many strange things. I remembered people whose graves the sea has stolen from the land ages ago. I was back in those days myself, Powers. I sang their songs, my heart beat with their joys.”

Powers was silent. It had come, then, after all—the great awakening. He looked at her with a curiosity almost reverent. His voice trembled.

“Tell me, of those days,” he begged.

She shook her head impatiently.

“They came back to me then,” she said, “in the twilight, when the whole world slept, and only the sea kept calling to me. Now they are blotted out. I am afraid to think of them. Powers, help me to forget.”

For a moment his love was in the balance against that unconquerable thirst for knowledge which had seemed to him once the whole aim of life. He must look, if only for a second, into that land beyond.

“Eleanor,” he said thickly, “tell me what you remembered of those days. Sing me that song. You need not be afraid. It is no sign of madness, this!”

She burst into tears, stretched out her hands—the impulsive gesture of a child, and the desire of his life became suddenly a faint thing beside his great love of her. He drew her tenderly to him.

“Eleanor,” he whispered, “you know that I love you. Give yourself to me, to guard and to keep. You are the first woman who has ever come into my life. You will be the last. I will keep you from all harm. I will help you stifle those evil memories. You shall be my wife, and I will teach you that love is the greatest and the sweetest thing in the world.”

He held her from him and looked anxiously into her face. There was scant comfort there for him.

“When you talk like that,” she murmured, “I feel that I must be different from all other people. You expect something from me which I know nothing about. I do not feel toward you in the least like you say you feel toward me. Why is it?”

“It will come!” he declared confidently. “I am sure of it. In the future it must come.”

She moved away and Powers watched her wistfully. She was thinner than he had ever known her, and of that wonderful fresh beauty which had taken London by storm there remained but few traces. Yet to him there came at that moment a wonderful impulse of love. The wistfulness which shone in her eyes, the wasted cheeks, the pallor of her once beautiful complexion, seemed in a sense to have spiritualized her. The child whose frank sensuousness had horrified him seemed to have passed away.

Once more she was the girl whom he had met on the wet pavement of the city, brave and womanly, although in desperate straits—the woman who, however unexpectedly, had first found her way to his heart. Never, even in those days when her beauty had been unrivaled, and her train of admirers a constant source of embarrassment, had she seemed to him more to be desired than at that moment.

As she walked she began to sing softly and to herself. He wondered at the strange chanting tune and at the time-forgotten words. And as she sang the color brightened her cheeks, and the wakening breezes blew the hair about her face.

A great sea-bird, disturbed by her voice, rose from the ditch below with a flapping of wings and drifted away seaward.

“It is only a bird,” she said. “If you had seen as many of them as I have, you would not heed them. I have seen them in droves, when their wings darkened the sky, and I have heard them calling to one another down the north wind. Where have you lived all your life that you know nothing of these things?”

She laughed softly.

“Come and sit with me on the sand-hill there,” she said, “and I will tell you about the sea.”

He followed her. Almost to their feet the long waves made harsh music upon the shingle.

“Poor man,” she said softly. “Listen, have you never heard this when the north wind blows?”

And again she sang that wonderful song. When her voice died away he shook his head.

“No, I have never heard that,” he said. “It is very beautiful. I have never heard the music, and I do not know what language it is.”

She smiled.

“It is the song of Ulric, the Dane,” she told him. “Many a time he has sung it to me as we stood on the prow of his ship, and the spray broke over our heads and leaped high into the sunshine. He sang it to me when the cold sleet stung our cheeks, and the wind came rushing about us, and we heard no longer the swirl of the oars. He sang it to me in the darkness, while we stole into the harbor, and below his men sharpened their swords and fitted their spear-heads.”

“Who was Ulric?” he asked tentatively.

“Ulric was my lover,” she answered. “Every night, when the tide comes in, he calls to me, but I do not know where he is. I do not think that I shall ever see him any more.”

“Tell me about him,” he begged.

Her eyes shone.

“He was tall and strong like a god,” she answered, “with yellow hair and beard, and wonderful blue eyes. No man save he could wield his sword, and in battle men gave way before him as the corn falls before the scythe. And because he loved me he brought me here with him from over the seas. I sat in the ship, while he and his men fought on the land. And at night, when the villages were burning, back came my lover with skins and ornaments, corn and wine, and we were all happy together.”

He watched her still with fascinated eyes.

“Do you mean that you remember these things?” he asked. “You have read about them in a book.”

“A book!” she exclaimed scornfully. “What need have I of books to tell me of these things?—I, to whom their happening was but as yesterday. Only then my name was Hildegarde, and now they call me Eleanor.”

“But this all happened very long ago,” he protested. “You are only twenty-five, you know. It isn’t possible for you to remember.”

She eyed him with tolerant scorn.

“You foolish man!” she exclaimed. “You do not understand. The days when I was Hildegarde, and Ulric was my lover, are as clear to me as moonlight. I could tell you many things of those days if you cared to listen—how Ulric slew his brother because he lifted his eyes to me, and how once we were both taken prisoners by the King of East Mercia, and Ulric burst his bonds, the strongest they could forge, and slew the guards one by one.

“It was just such a dawn as this when we came running to the seashore, and when we smelled the salt wind how we laughed in one another’s faces for the joy of our freedom. Behind the Britons were staggering with fatigue—for Ulric ran like a god, and when I was weary he caught me up by the waist, and I lay upon his shoulder, and never troubled him. Or I could tell you how he slew his chief captain because one night he whispered in my ear.”

He clasped her fingers in his. They were hot and feverish.

“Shall we turn now, dear?” he said. “We have walked far enough in this sun. You shall tell me more of Ulric another day.”

They had left the shore, but she turned to the right along a low range of sand-hills.

“Does this lead to any place in particular?” he asked.

“It leads to Rayston Church,” she answered. “We are going there.”

He looked at her in quick surprise.

“How did you know that?” he asked. “I have heard of a place called Rayston, but there is no church there.”

She laughed softly.

“I will show you where it stood, then,” she answered. “I will show you, too, what sort of man Ulric was. It was the last of our raids. We had twelve ships, and nearly five hundred men, and everywhere the people fled without fighting, for no one could stand against Ulric and his men. For once I, too, was allowed to land, for we knew that our coming was unexpected, and there was no fear of defeat. Village by village they plundered, and sacked, and burned. Night by night we made great fires, by which the ships followed us along the coast, and I sang to them till the embers burned low.”

She stopped short with a little cry, and pointed inland. To their left was a plowed field, and in the top corner were three grass and ivy-covered stone walls of immense thickness.

“See,” she cried, “there stood Rayston Church! When we came here an old man met us waving a green bough. He told Ulric that all the folk had fled, and that their dwellings might be spared they had collected all their treasures and belongings and stored them in the church. Ulric believed him, and they hastened to the church, all shouting and singing together for joy of such an easy victory. But when they were within a dozen yards of the building there came suddenly upon them from the slit apertures and the tower a cloud of poisoned arrows, and Ulric lost more men in those few minutes than ever in his life before. I was far away behind, but I saw all. I saw Ulric raise his great two-edged sword and cut down to the ground the old man who had led them there. I saw them drag the trunk of a tree to the church door and batter it in, and not one Briton escaped. Ask that old man, Powers, what they have found in the fields here.”

Powers called a laborer digging on a potato-patch close at hand.

“What is the name of that ruin?” he asked.

The man surveyed it doubtfully.

“There ain’t any one as rightly knows, sir,” he admitted. “Our vicar has looked at the walls, and reckoned it must have been a church.”

“Have any Danish trophies ever been found about here?”

The old man smiled.

“You see this field, sir?” he answered. “I’ve heard my grandfather say that when he used to plow that one day it must have been sown with human bones. There’s an old horn mug been found here, too, that they say, from the shape of it, must have belonged to some foreigners. It’s in the British Museum in London.”

Powers threw him a shilling and turned away with Eleanor.

“You have been here before,” he said, in a low tone.

“Never since I came with Ulric,” she answered dreamily, “and that must have been a very, very long time ago. There were no houses in those days, nor any fields. Yet the land is the same, the land and the sea. They do not change.”

They sat down on a sandy knoll. Powers took her hand in his.

“Dear,” he said softly, “it is not well for you to dwell upon these fancies. Try and think instead of the future—our future.

“Fancies,” she repeated scornfully. “They are not fancies. They are memories.”

“Call them what you will, dear,” he said, “but let them lie. They belong to a dead past. It is the future which concerns us.”

She drew a little closer to him. For the first time he felt his pressure upon her fingers returned.

It seemed to him as she sat there, with quivering lips, that it was indeed the weary shop-girl of the Edgware Road who was with him once more. There was a light in her eyes as of some new understanding.

A great yearning swept over Powers with the memory of that rain-swept, wind-tossed bay. All the scientific aspirations, the quiet culture, and the easy, pleasant days of sybaritical studentship which had filled his life were suddenly things of the past. His passionate love for Eleanor was predominant. He was like a man afflicted with a strange fever of unknown origin, which no physician could prescribe for, and which he himself was powerless to resist.

In his room that night he sat under his student’s lamp into the small hours, writing—writing. . . .

It was the last chance and he was going to stake his all upon it. He was appealing to the old German professor of his student days, the man who more than any other could aid him at this time.

A week later he took Eleanor back to London and placed her in the great specialist’s hands. And then followed weary days and nights of anxious waiting when all but hope seemed fled. Then came a day when his library door opened softly and the great German doctor looked at Powers benevolently through his double glasses.

“My young friend,” he said, “the work is finished. My last visit to this most interesting of patients has been paid. I await now only the confirmation of our theories.”

Powers, though outwardly cool, was trembling with excitement.

“I can go to her?” he asked. “You recommend it? The moment has arrived?”

“It has arrived,” Herr Rauchen affirmed. “She is strong enough to bear your presence—to talk in moderation. I will await here the result. It is an experiment the most interesting of any I have ever known.”

Powers moved toward the door, but the professor called him back.

“My young friend,” he said, “one moment. There’s no hurry. I would ask a question.”

“Well?”

“You say the room is the same, the nurse is the same. Good! Have you the clothes she arrived in?”

“They are there in full view,” Powers answered. “She has come back to consciousness among precisely the same surroundings as when she first came to me eight months ago.”

“Very good indeed,” the professor declared. “Now you shall go to her. Meanwhile, I wait for you here.”

Once more Powers hesitated, with his foot upon the threshold of her room. It seemed so short a time ago since he stood there before on his way to his first interview with her since his great experiment. But his interest was no longer scientific. He knew very well that the next few minutes must make or mar his life.

The professor had given him hope; their theories had been based upon a sound basis. But the issue was the greatest he had ever put to the test. With it was bound up the whole welfare of the woman he loved. He entered the room without his usual confidence. Yet the moment he saw her his heart beat with passionate hope.

She was lying upon a sofa, her hair loosely coiled upon the top of her head, clad in a becoming morning wrap, white with streaming ribbons. At the sound of the opening door she turned her head, and she greeted him with a faint smile. As their eyes met he felt once more that passionate thrill of hope. For the change in her face was manifest. This was neither the brilliantly beautiful but soulless child who had taken London by storm, nor the mystic, moody girl, hovering ever on the brink of insanity, who had sung to him upon the seashore. It was the Eleanor of his earlier knowledge, who greeted him now half-shyly, yet with a certain mischievous look in her clear soft eyes.

“So, after all,” she murmured, looking up at him, “I am a disappointment. The great experiment is a failure. I really haven’t forgotten a single thing.”

“Hang the experiment!” he declared cheerfully. “I lost all interest in that long ago. All that I have been anxious for has been your recovery.”

“I am so glad,” she said. “I was afraid you would be terribly disappointed. It really isn’t my fault, is it?”

“Not in the least,” he assured her heartily. “You were an excellent subject. I suppose,” he added, struggling to keep the anxiety out of his tone, “there is no doubt about the failure of it?”

“Not the slightest. My memory feels particularly clear. You can cross-examine me if you like.”

“Well, I will ask you a few questions,” he said. “Tell me your last recollection before you came to yourself.”

She answered him readily.

“I came to you here,” she said, “and told you that I was dismissed from Bearmain’s. I heard your proposals and agreed to them. You sent for a nurse and you gave me chloroform here. The very last thing in my mind is that you walked to the window, and looked at your watch just before I went off.”

He drew a quick breath—it sounded almost a gasp. “It is wonderful!” he exclaimed.

“Everything before that day—my miserable life at Bearmain’s, your kindness to me, and our little jaunts together,” she said, “I can remember quite clearly. I am sorry to wound your vanity, but your experiment has been shockingly unsuccessful.”

He smiled.

“It was a very foolish one,” he declared. “I have been terribly worried about you.”

Their eyes met for a moment, and a spot of color burned in her cheeks.

“You need not have worried,” she said softly. “You made it all quite clear to me before I consented. I knew the risk I ran.”

He braced himself up for the final test.

“You have been unconscious for a very long time,” he said. “Often I used to listen to you talking to yourself. You don’t mind, do you? You see it was part of the experiment.”

“Of course not,” she answered. “Was I very foolish?”

“You spoke of a lot of things which, of course, I did not understand,” he said. “For instance, there was Ulric. Who was he?”

“Ulric?” she repeated the name wonderingly. There was no comprehension in her face.

“Are you sure of the name?” she asked. “I never heard it in my life before.”

He smothered his agitation with a strange laugh.

“Perhaps,” he suggested, “Ulric was one of your companions when you were a child.”

“Perhaps,” she assented. “Yet the name is so uncommon that I think I should have remembered it.”

“Well,” he continued, “there was a person of the name of Trowse—an enemy, I should think, or some one you disliked. What of him?”

Again the blankness of non-comprehension. She shook her head at him and smiled.

“Do you know,” she said, “I shall believe soon that it is you who have been raving. Trowse! Ulric! I never heard such names in my life. Tell me, was there any one else?”

“You spoke of my mother and sister as though you knew them,” he said.

She shook her head.

“I saw them with you in a box at the theater one night, you know,” she reminded him.

He was watching her closely, and permitted himself a little sigh of relief. She was looking out of the window at the faint April sunshine which was doing its best to brighten the dull afternoon.

A few days later Powers made his way to her room in the twilight. It was easy to see that her recovery was now an assured thing. She was standing by the window when he entered, and he fancied for the first time that she greeted him a little nervously.

“Your mother and sister have been to see me, Sir Powers,” she said. “Wasn’t it delightful of them?”

“Well, I don’t know,” he answered. “It seems to me a very natural thing for them to do. I hope you liked my mother, Eleanor.”

“How could any one help it?” she said simply. “Your sister was very kind, too. They spoke as though—I was to go and stay with them—but——”

“Well?” he said.

She was very nervous under his gaze. All her words took flight with her long, carefully planned idea of a livelihood that she had wanted to consult him about.

The feeling in his eyes was unmistakable. A delicate flush stole into her cheeks and she closed her eyes. In the strong light he noticed more clearly the fragility of her appearance. He rose hastily.

“Eleanor,” he said, “do not think that I expect too much from you now. But I love you very dearly, and today I ask from you only the right to give you my name, so that I may protect you from all evil, whensoever it may come. For the rest I am content to wait.”

The hot color burned in her cheeks. She looked at him confused—reproachful.

“But you never seemed as though you cared at all!” she faltered. “I don’t understand.”

He caught her to him. His eyes were bright, his face hungry with the love of her.

“Dear!” he cried, “look at me. What does it matter when first I cared for you? Look at me now—listen. I love you, Eleanor! You believe me! You must!”

She laughed as she leaned toward him.

“It is so easy,” she murmured, “to believe when one wants to—very much.”

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