The fifth day of the first month of summer had come, and in a sunset of gold and purple hues, the Nile was glorified; birds had ceased their songs, the air was heavy with the perfume of flowers, and away to the westward the evening star was setting.
Here, and there, along the shore, lithe, tawney-skinned girls filled earthern jars with water, then lifted them to their shoulders, and walked across the greenness, into the deepening night.
On this delta—or plain—of lower Egypt, there stood, three thousand years ago, the city of Abydos; it measured ten square miles in circumference, and was shut in on three sides, by walls of reddish sand-stone and the unwalled side—fronting the Nile—was a pleasure ground, belonging to a Royal residence and named, the “Palace of Tears,” so called because it was occupied by the King or his family only during seasons of personal, or national distress. Entrance into Abydos, was obtainable through three gateways, and over each there were towers, in which night and day, year in, and year out, the priests of Osirus, kept watch and ward with much fasting and many prayers.
The word “SILENCE” was cut into the stone arch above each gate, and within the city, conversation was carried on in whispers; no sound of instruments of music, no peal of bells, was ever heard, only the lowing of cattle in the Royal meadows, and the bellowing of sacred bulls, in the temple grounds, only the singing of birds among the trees, and the never ceasing chant of the priests broke the stillness.
The reason the city of Abydos was so sanctified a spot was because it was believed to be the resting place of all that had once been mortal of the Man-GOD, Osirus.
On this summer night three thousand years ago, in the Palace of Tears, Tothmes the First, of Egypt, lay dying.
He had been a wise ruler, an able statesman, a brave and successful soldier. Under his guidance and supervision, architecture in Egypt had progressed, many new temples had been built, many ancient ruins restored.
At Memphis he had erected a grand palace, and in the same city had beautified the temple of Ammon; but the greatest act of his reign, was the taking down, of the barriers, that had isolated Egypt from the world, beyond its borders, for ten centuries of time; the only blot on this King’s life page was the enslavement of the Israelites, in a bitter and cruel bondage.
Now, this great ruler lay upon his golden couch in an upper room in the Palace of Tears, waiting, in perfect consciousness, for the end.
It was his wish that in his last hour, all should leave him, save his daughter, the Princess Hatsu, an olive-skinned, dark-eyed girl, who lay sobbing upon his breast.
All sense of pain had left the once tortured body of the King, and a peace, like that of the twilight without, had fallen upon him.
One hand cold with the damps of departing life was slowly and tenderly caressing the long braids of the girl’s dark hair.
“Hatsu,” said the King, “do not cry any more, all the tears of Egypt, all the prayers of her priests avail not to stay this life of mine. Child, it matters not whether that which we call breath, is lodged under a King’s robe, or a beggar’s rags, at the bidding of some almighty power, it comes forth and goes its way into the unknown. Hatsu, the call has come to me, and I would fain be gone. I only linger to gain the promise that you will wed Tothmes the Second, for, full well I know, that, when your brother sits upon the throne, his mother,—standing behind the chair of state,—will speak her wish, through his poor faltering lips; full well I know that she will so guide and counsel her son that worse than sorrow may come to be your portion, because  you will not become wife to the Prince—your brother. Child, how can I meet in some beyond the young mother who gave her life for yours, and to her question, ‘Is it well with my babe?’ make answer ‘nay.’”
The girl raised herself with a slowness that showed how weak and spent she was; she unknit her fingers from those of the King, and rose and stood before him.
“Father,” she said, “the promise you ask holds more of torture for my woman’s soul than you with your man’s nature can know, yet I defy your will no longer. I give you promise to wed Tothmes the Second.”
The King, with a mighty effort, raised himself to a sitting posture, his face was pinched and ghastly pale, his eyes gleamed with an unnatural light as he gasped, “Down upon your knees, girl, and repeat slowly and distinctly, that I may miss no word, the ‘oath prayer.’ Quick! girl, quick!”
She knelt at his bidding and slowly and quietly said these words:
“O Thou Beneficent One!
“Protector of life!
“Thou to whom we flee for succor, when earth’s tempests lower, or when death draws near.
“To Thee, Great Principal, our Sun, our Moon, our Star.
“To Thee, the guide of all who pass into the realms of shade, I call. Elder brother, Thou who having once been man and endured like us life’s temptations. Thou knowest our infirmities, and can therefore with divine compassion forgive our proneness to err.
“O, Osirus, Thou that shall judge us at the last day, and with infinite tenderness, shield us from Seth and his geni, when they strive to prove before the great tribunal, the unfitness of a world soul, for the realms of bliss.
“O, Osirus, I swear to Thee, to obey the will of my father the King.”
Like a falcon, that needs but the loosing of the silken thread, that it may lift its wings and mount into the blue, the soul of Tothmes the First, upon the promise of his child, soared upward, and was not; and her cry of anguish told to those who stood without that the time had come in which to proclaim the reign of Tothmes the Second.
The seventy-two days of mourning for the dead had been accomplished, the oblations and purifications of the living had been performed.
Again it was night in the Palace of Tears.
The ladies-in-waiting upon the Princess Hatsu were weary of the funeral pomp and circumstance by which they had been for so many weeks environed, and one and all hailed with delight the prospect of beginning on the morrow, the journey back to Thebes, where their royal mistress was to wed the now reigning King of Egypt.
So they had happy thoughts, as they silently regarded Her Highness, who, with her favorite serving maid, standing behind her chair, sat by one of the narrow windows, her arm upon the sill, her hand forming a rest for her face, as she looked out on the river and the palace garden, bathed in the splendor of a full moon’s light.
The maid behind the Princess’ chair was a girl whose appearance was in marked contrast, through its race characteristics, to the other women present. Her skin, unlike the Egyptian ladies’, was devoid of yellow tinting, and its whiteness was the more marked because of the faint rose bloom on cheek  and lip. Her hair, rippling on either side of her broad brow, was brown in color, and its two heavy braids fell to the hem of her gown.
Her large blue eyes were shaded by long golden brown lashes; her eyebrows, strongly arched, were black.
When she smiled, a little dimple played at hide-and-seek in one of the rounded cheeks and there was a shimmer of pearls between the rosy lips.
The ladies-in-waiting upon the Princess Hatsu were all daughters of high priests, for the priesthood of Egypt represented, with the military officials, the gentry of Mizram. The function of priesthood was not confined exclusively to ecclesiastic thought; it embraced beside theology the professions of law, medicine, science, philosophy, poetry, and history, so it is easily seen that an intellectual, rather than a so-called spiritual condition was the priestly requirement.
There was no such thing in Egypt as succession from father to son. Outside the office of kingship itself, knowledge was the power, through which one and all must mount to distinction; education was a free gift to the people, irrespective of caste, and the child of the humblest pilot or artisan of to-day, might, through the force of his mentality, be the priestly or military influence behind a to-morrow’s throne.
Each Nome—or State—in Egypt had its High Priest or Governor; to him was entrusted the control of the industries of his province—the granaries, the garden produce, and all manufactured articles and to him came the rentals of public lands and houses that had been dedicated by the kingdom or given by private individuals for the service of some particular god or goddess.
Celebacy in the priesthood was discouraged in Egypt. The number of children gathered about the hearthstone was a matter for pride and thanksgiving, the lack of such treasures always a cause for sorrow and shame.
Now these ladies-in-waiting (or if you will, maids-of-honor) to the Princess Hatsu, came from the forty-nine states of the kingdom, their homes were scattered from one end of Egypt to the other and their fathers were devoted to one of the various intellectual callings that have been mentioned. These girls represented many distinctive mental types, and as for religious belief, what one thought spiritually in Egypt was a matter of individual choice, and it is not at all improbable that the forty-nine high priests (represented in the Princess’ household by their daughters) served forty-nine distinctive ideals of Deity and were in their theological views as diametrically opposed as are the various sects and schisms of our day.
Then as regarded the manner and speech of these girls one could tell by their pronunciation whether they came from Mazor—lower Egypt—or Pathos—upper Egypt; but there was a sameness about their appearance; they all had round voluptuous figures, small, well-shaped noses, long gray eyes, full red lips, and smooth hair, which—to meet a prevailing fashion—was dyed a dark blue.
It had been the pleasure of Tothmes the First to give to his daughter only that which should charm her eye, and please her senses, so the maidens that the king had selected to bear the Princess company were endowed with beauty, wit, and all womanly graces and accomplishments; yet for them one and all Hatsu felt but a kindly friendship; her heart’s love she gave to Miriam, her maid—Miriam, daughter of Abram, the Israelite, Abram the skilled architect, into whose hands the late King had given the planning and construction of the third pyramid.
Had Miriam been a free woman, this fondness of the Princess for her might have caused a feeling of envy in the breasts of the ladies-in-waiting; but what did it signify—how Hatsu treated the girl who plaited her hair? Miriam was a slave! * * * It was a long and a silent service, that the ladies-in-waiting had kept this night, but at last the Princess lifted her face from her hands and turned toward her attendants.
“I fear,” she said, “that I am but a poor companion, and I will not weary you with longer waiting. The night is young, the gardens below are beautiful in the moonlight, go and enjoy them for the last time.”
Then the girls arose, and stepping backwards, curtseyed themselves out of the apartment, the last one closing the door softly behind her. When the sound of their footsteps had died away the Princess spoke.
“Come, my Miriam,” she said, “and take this seat beside me, wind your arm about my waist, and I will lay my head against your breast, and we will talk to one another. I have been looking at the Sphinx down yonder. For untold generations she has been asking her unsolvable riddle, ‘Whence are we? whither do we go?’ Night after night I have sat here and made inarticulate cry to the beautiful raised head, gazing with expectant eyes toward the west, until at last she seemed to say to my soul, ‘Sister woman, there is no god, but fate, and time—the present time—is ALWAYS his prophet.’
“If this be so, what need of losing breath in prayer? what need of so-called conscience, tell me, Miriam, may I not without fear of the wrath of an avenging God, break the vow I made to my father the King? and with your aid (and another’s) escape  from out the city to-night and so save myself from the living death that awaits me in Thebes?”
“Hatsu, beloved,” said Miriam gently (for so it was the will of the Princess that she should be addressed by Miriam when alone) “the great stone image on the plain is naught but the work of man! It has no life, save in the superstitious fancy of a priest-ridden nation! Hatsu, there is above, about, and around us, an eternal force, and it created that which we call humanity. We of Israel call this force ‘God’—the ‘All Father’—and ‘Jehovah,’ and though our bondage under Egypt’s yoke seems to human understanding intolerable, we feel spiritually that we are the children of this King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We understand that when His wise purpose is fulfilled, we shall bless this providence, of chains, and scourgings, and burdens, as a lesson of love, and mercy, making us the more worthy of our inheritance in the promised land.”
The Princess raised her head and listened in silence until Miriam had ceased to speak. “Your words are pretty,” she said with a sigh, “they soothe one like the crooning of a lullabye, and believing it, as you do, must be to you a great consolation, but to me, dear Miriam, it is all delusion, and emptiness! I have read much of theology, and have longed to cultivate faith, but to me all forms of religion seem phantom things, elusive, and delusive;  they are assertions of Deity, founded upon legends, and then reared, by unreasoning superstition, through countless generations of men! do not shake your pretty head, Miriam, for I know whereof I speak, and I this day have cast my praying beads aside as worthless toys! while all my thoughts, hopes, and fears, are gathered about the awful fact of that near-at-hand wedding day. The time has come when, if I am to keep the pledge made to my dying father, I must lay aside these garments of sorrow, and don the bridal robe and crown. To-morrow we leave the blessed quiet of this place to journey back to Thebes, and there I shall wed that grewsome creature that reigns in my father’s place! Small comfort do I take in the knowledge that my witless brother has been new calendared among Egypt’s saints! So do they make gods of many noxious beasts and vipers! Tell me, Miriam, could any merciful force, anything with even finest human intelligence doom a maiden to link herself with yonder living, breathing mass of nothingness? My husband, that is to be, clings to the toys of his earliest childhood, merrily jingles his rattle and bells, and is soothed to sleep by the crooning of nursery rhyme! Tothmes the Second a saint! Tothmes the Second a King! There is no God! There is no unseen power! We are creatures of the dust, ruled by creed and greed! See, Miriam, no fire from the  Heaven you prate of consumes me for this uttered sacrilege! My heart beats on! My breath comes and goes, as I look up to the star-spangled sky and speak my mind! But, O Miriam, Miriam, is there nothing that can save me?” The Princess had arisen, in her agony, and she now flung herself upon the ground, burying her face in Miriam’s lap.
For a moment there was silence, and then Miriam spoke.
“Hatsu, beloved,” she said, “the path marked out for you to tread seems a dark and thorny one. I would that I could scatter rose leaves upon it or lift its gloom, but I can only read from one life guide, and in all its pages I see the word “obedience.” Our God hath said, ‘Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long in the land,’ therefore, dear and honored mistress, cease to struggle against that which you have vowed beside your father’s dying bed to perform, and, in the midst of your present despair let this thought comfort you, our sojourn on this planet, that men call the Earth, is but for a moment of time; this will lead you to believe that in some better sphere, you will look back to see that yesterday’s sorrows were but mists and nothing more. Think not of yourself, dear lady, but of your land, of Egypt. She has need of you upon her throne. Your people love and trust you. Can you then subject them to a rule so terrible as  would surely befall should the mother of Tothmes the Second have power to guide the State? Live for your people, Hatsu, and leave your present and your future in the hands of the One God; call Him if you will Osirus, for any name we call (if we call with reverent spirit) the Supreme Ruler will answer to.”
The Princess raised her head and looked into Miriam’s eyes.
“Dear Miriam,” she said, “I have no faith to offer to Deity; have I not prayed and fasted through these days of mourning? and has help come? No, but rather with each new hour I have felt the meshes of the net more tightly drawn about me! And always night and day I see this picture. A girl stands before me. She wears upon her head a heavy golden crown. Its frontlet is an Eagle—the emblem of power, strength, and freedom; the Eagle’s wings are wide spread; the bird glitters with gems—oh, how they shine!—but they are above eyes that fain would weep, yet dare not; they are above a heart that must not break! The girl’s garment is of cloth of gold, and her long braids are entwined with pearls; her sandalled feet glimmer like frost in the sunshine; on her arms, about her throat, and in her ears, diamonds glisten, and as she stands upon a carpet of freshly gathered flowers, she is a priceless gift to the King, her husband that is to be; but under this  mask of silk, and gold, and gem, I see a degraded womanhood! the girl is spiritually bound by something stronger than captive chains; oh, Miriam,” she cried, springing to her feet, “there are no Gods! there is no one God! Nay! do not speak, but listen! I have from babyhood served the Gods of my people! I have with my own hands fed the sacred beasts and birds in the Temple. I have dedicated every heliotrope in all the palace gardens to Osirus, and what is my reward? I am to be mated to deformity of mind and body! A deformity that so disgraces the name of man that his coming shadow makes the bravest shudder! His touch is like leprosy! His caresses will be Hell. Oh, that the God you worship would hear my cry for escape! Pray to Him, Miriam, and may-hap, through your faith, in this eleventh hour, there will be found a city of refuge for me.”
Even as the Princess spoke these words, there came a strong tap upon the door, and in an instant she had resumed her seat, and Miriam her place, behind her mistress’ chair.
Then, at the bidding of Hatsu, the door swung back, and two by two, there entered a company of youths, each bearing golden lamps.
Following the youths came a man, holding a golden salver, on which lay a small parchment scroll. Bowing low (not kneeling), he presented it to the  Princess, who received it and read aloud the contents, in a clear, quiet voice.
“Hatsu, Daughter of our Departed Lord, and King. All Hail! It is the will of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe, Osirus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords, that thou (accompanied by thine Israelitish handmaiden, Miriam) follow Alric, the bearer of this scroll, without question, through the Palace of Tears, even down into the subterranean grotto, known to the faithful of Mizram as the labyrinth of Death. At a certain place by the way, at Alric’s bidding, leave the handmaiden, and the captain of the King’s guards, and take thy way alone, even unto the doorway that opens into the Temple of Osirus in the city of Abydos. Come thither, oh daughter of a great King, wife to be of our sainted Monarch, and on thy lonely way give thy soul into Osirus’ care and keeping. This, O Princess, is the will of Zelas the High Priest.”
When the last word had been read the Princess raised the scroll to her lips, then tying it with the red silken cord, she put it into the bosom of her gown. Raising her gray eyes and looking for the first time at the captain of the King’s guard, she said, slowly and distinctly:
“Lead the way, and Miriam and Hatsu will follow thee.”
Miriam stood watching in silence the form of her mistress the Princess Hatsu until she had disappeared from sight in a curve of the avenue, or path, then she sat herself down upon a stone bench, and with closed eyes and folded hands sent prayers—like white-winged angels—to keep the Princess company.
So earnest was her thought that she had quite forgotten the companionship of the captain of the King’s guard, until the sound of his voice called her back to her immediate surroundings.
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“She is indeed brave of heart is the Princess,” said the captain, a ring of enthusiasm sounding through his words. “There are not many women, old or young, that would start on this journey with no consciousness of fear, for, setting all thought of superstition aside, it is a grewsome place. There is not, I assure you, a foot of the entire way from here to the Temple, that does not afford sepulchre to some lifeless object, once an animated ‘I am,’ now a hideous semblance, an ugly jest upon being.”
Miriam lifted her great blue eyes to the speaker’s face as she said:
“Whatever else you may be, my lord, you are not a worshipper of Osirus, for all his faithful ones  know that nothing is so sacred in his sight as are these embalmed birds, beasts and reptiles.”
The man smiled and shrugged his shoulders; he did not seem to consider that any explanation of his recent sacrilege was necessary to an Israelitish slave. This captain of the King’s guard was probably well past his thirtieth year, and unlike the majority of Egyptian manhood, he was of athletic proportions; he wore upon his feet and legs, sandals and leggins of scarlet leather. The leggins were cut into numberless thongs or strips, and each one was fastened in place by a gold and jeweled buckle. His tunic, or loosely flowing frock, was of white linen exquisitely embroidered with colored flosses, to represent leaves and blossoms: at his shoulders the tunic was gathered up with broad clasps of diamonds. About his throat was a collar of diamonds, with pendant strings, that fell, like threads of shimmering light, to his broad breast. His arms were bare, save for the jeweled bracelets or coils that serpent-like twined from wrist to armpit and looked like part of a coat of mail. His hair was worn in short curly waves about his forehead and the sides of his fair smoothly shaven face, then, its curly brown profusion, fell from the back, far below his waist. Full well Miriam knew this handsome gallant captain of the King’s guards, and heretofore (for reasons best known to herself) she had held him in honor as  one who was her mistress’ trusted and loyal servant; but to-day, in her loving anxiety for the Princess, the thought came to her that it would be best to guard her speech, for how (she reasoned) could she tell but that the Queen Regent, the mother of King Tothmes the Second, might not have sent the Captain to spy upon her mistress? Miriam was a wise maiden, she had been taught life’s lessons in the school of adversity and she had come to know, through bitter experience, that he who listens has less to fear than he who talks. So she said gently:
“My lord, it is not courteous to be mirthful or scornful over that which the King you serve holds so sacred,” and she pointed to the niched wall where, in gaudily painted wooden cases, the faces of cats, birds, and other creatures of the animal kingdom, grinning of jaw and glassy of eye, looked down upon them.
“Perhaps,” replied the captain, “if you, my pretty Miriam, had been selected to go from one end of the kingdom to the other to act as escort to dead cats, and dogs, oxen, and birds, and so bring them to this their final resting place, perhaps, I say, if you had been selected and then detailed to instruct the natives as to the salting and other disgusting mortuary preparations, you would have come in time to regard these things as I do, as only powerful through their offensiveness to one’s nostrils! as only  capable of working harm, when as decaying animal matter they are allowed to pollute the otherwise pure atmosphere.”
“I do not understand how you dare to say all this to me, my lord,” said Miriam, “for unbelievers though we be, you, a Syrian, I an Israelite, we are now in the most sacred sepulchre of Osirus. We both know what the speaking ill of a living sacred animal may cost. We know what the wilful killing of any of these forms of life means for him who does the deed. How often have you and I, suddenly coming by the way upon some dead thing, fallen upon our knees and plucked from out our heads a few hairs to propitiate the anger of Deity?”
“My charming Israelite,” said the captain drawing a trifle nearer, “as you know full well, I have been reared from youth up in the household of Zelas the High Priest of Osirus. Let me confide to you that I, Alric, look into this great man’s face as fearlessly as does the babe upon its mother! Aye, oftentimes I sit smiling in my content, while close at hand the awful voice of Zelas is heard, hurling anathemas upon the unfaithful as generously as a rose tree sheds its leaves when a breeze woos too roughly. This being so, do you fancy that these dried, glassy-eyed puppets mean anything to me but what they are? Then, as to my speaking openly to you, pray, who is there to hear my words? The folk  in yonder palace would far rather accept an invitation to Troth’s kingdom than set so much as one foot upon this subterranean path. As for the priests, they hold the place in such superstitious horror that when they are forced to come thither they appear in great companies, singing at the top of their voices (which, of course, would give one an intimation of their proximity long before they themselves could appear). And now let me tell you a bit of pleasant news. The Princess Hatsu, through, and by this pilgrimage of hers, is going to inspire in her people an awesome reverence that shall exalt her to a goddesship far beyond that bestowed upon the idiot, her husband (that is to be), aye, even as I speak, by the command of Zelas, the news of this journey of the Princess (our future Queen) is being shouted through the land by mounted heralds, and everywhere prayers are offered for the preservation of the body and soul of this brave girl, that she may come through the awful, supernatural test, unconsumed; for you must know that it is usually believed that this cool and sequestered labyrinth is torrid in its temperature and holds many, if not all, the terrors and tortures, that meet and greet the human soul when a life on earth is past.”
“But, my lord, what will all this avail? The mother of our new King holds the controlling power in the councils of state, and well you know, she has  for our late King’s daughter a bitter and relentless hate.”
My lord Alric studied the smoothly worn stone path under foot, pushing with the toe of his sandal some imaginary straw aside, ere he made answer.
“Our Sainted King’s most noble and gracious mother hath become (so saith the all-wise High Priest Zelas) too sacred a thing to be put in daily and hourly contact with the naughty world. Be it known to you, O Miriam, that the mother of Tothmes the Second will hereafter be powerless to do aught but pray, since she has this day been received into the cloistered nunnery of the Sisterhood of Perpetual Silence.”
“To our One God, Jehovah, I offer my thanks,” said Miriam fervently, “but, my lord, do you not fear to speak thus openly to me, for it must surely be known to you that from my mistress I will keep no word?”
“For that matter,” answered Alric lightly, “you and I have but one life purpose. I, too, keep nothing concealed from the Princess Hatsu. Listen, I will unfold to you now more serious matters. I, Alric, hold the peace, the happiness, the life of the Princess Hatsu in my power, and for my service the price I ask shall be one gift—I want Miriam, the daughter of Abram to wife.”
With a cry, Miriam rose to her feet and stood  before Alric, moved (she did not question why) by an anger quite unknown to her in any hour of her past life.
“Spy! Coward!!” she said, her pink cheeks flamed to a deep red, her eyes blazed with scorn, and her splendid figure seemed as fixed as a graven image. “You shall find that for all your cunning there will open for you no vulnerable place in the armor of my loyalty to my mistress! Aye, all your brutal showing of your freeman’s power over my bondage and my woman’s weakness cannot reach my SOUL! I, Miriam, defy you to gain from me in the future one word I do not choose to speak. Let the Princess make a free gift of her bondwoman! to you! and I must submit to the inevitable, but mark me, no word that the Princess ever has said, or will say, shall come to you through me! and every word that you have said or will say shall be whispered into her ear. My Lord Alric, in my young childhood the late King took me from among mine own people to be the companion of his daughter. He gave to my father a place of honor and trust among the builders, and the Princess has cherished me with sisterly tenderness. If you will that I die for it here at your feet, still I swear not to become your tool, even though I be your slave, aye, to my God I swear it!”
The Captain had moved a pace or two back from  Miriam as she spoke, and as he listened to her every word he put one of his hands into the folds of his toga and drew from thence a small disk of glass. He never took his eyes from Miriam’s eyes; his gaze was fixed, and intense, and as she had gone on with her speech, it was perceptible that all unconsciously a subtle power was weaving itself about her. A sense, not of faintness, but rather of pleasant numbness stole slowly and softly over Miriam, mind and nerves, and a sweet peace that stayed the angry torrent of her blood, and brought a smile to her lips came, when she heard (as in a dream) these words.
“By my shield and buckler, by my good sword, I swear to you, that I am loyal to the Princess Hatsu.”
A change was passing over the girl’s face. She still stood before him, erect, and calm, but expression was fading out. The look that the dead wear was with her. Her color had fled, giving place to ashen wanness, and the light in her beautiful eyes was dimmed. Her mouth grew set, her nostrils pinched, and her breathing came in great waves of effort. Alric now raised his other hand and moved it to and fro above the girl’s head, to a sort of measured time, repeating slowly, crooningly, and softly:
“Go to sleep!
G-o t-o s-l-e-e-p.
G—o t—o s—l—e—e—p.”
Then he lowered the hand above her, gently pushed her back onto the stone bench from which she had risen, and rested her rigid head against the wall.
Then it was that her sob-like breathing ceased and, save that her eyes were widely open and staring, one would have said that Miriam had found her way into slumberland.
Keeping the disk of glass before her eyes, Alric spoke:
“Spirit,” he said softly, “spirit, what dost thou here?”
And from the white lips came the answer:
“I wait to do thy bidding, my Lord.”