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And as we sat there, there came a faint tapping at the curtained window. Ferris did not hear it I did, for it was the Spirit-bird.

"I must go," said I, rising suddenly.

"Where?" said Ferris.

I looked at him stupidly for a moment, then sank back into my chair.

Solomon stirred in his slumber and I heard the wind rising in the chimney.

Ferris leaned across the table and touched my sleeve.

I looked at him silently.

"I must speak," he said; "are you ready?" I did not reply.

"Sadness and silence have no place here, between you and me. Shall I tell you a story I

once read?"

"I am half asleep," I muttered.

"This is the story," he said, unheeding my words. "There was once a King in Carcosa—" My hand fell heavily upon the table.

-And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies—” "For God's sake, Ferris-"

"Yes," he said, "for God's sake."

We sat staring at each other across the table, and if my face was as white as his I do not know, but my hand trembled among the glasses till they tinkled.

"I was born in France," he said at last. did not know it, for I never told you.

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What do

you know about me after all? Nothing. What have years of friendship taught you about my past? Nothing. Now learn. My father was shot dead by an inferior officer in Rouen. The assassin escaped to Canada where-I found him. He died by his own hand-from choice. I did not know he had a child."

The dull fear at my heart must have looked from my eyes. Ferris nodded.

"Yes, you know the rest," he said; "the shame and disgrace of the suicide drove the child away-anywhere to escape it-anywhere-here, into the wilderness the woman fled where she hath a place prepared of God."

The Spirit-bird was tapping on the window, I heard the noise of wings beating against the pane.

"I must go," I said, and my voice sounded within me as from a great distance.

"Vengeance is God's," said Ferris, quietly: "I am guilty."

"I must go," I repeated, steadying myself with my hand on the table.

The noise of wings filled my ears. I knew the


"Do you not hear?" I cried.

"The wind," said Ferris.

Then the door slowly opened from without, the long candles flared in the wind, and the ashes stirred and drifted among the embers on the hearth. And out of the night came a slender

figure, with dark eyes wide, and timid hands outstretched-outstretched until they fell into my own and lay there.

"I came from the Silent Land," she said; "the bird lead me; see, it has entered with me, Louis."

"It is my wife who has entered," I said quietly to Ferris, and the little maid clung close to me, holding out one slim hand to Ferris.

There was an interval of silence.

Father Gregory will breakfast with us tomorrow," said Ferris to me.

"A Priest?"

"Open the window," smiled Ferris; "there is a small grey bird here."

So I opened the window and it flew away.

Good-night," whispered the little maid, and kissed her hand to the open window.

"Diane !"

She came to me quietly. Ferris had vanished; Solomon peered dreamily at us with filmy eyes. "The Spirit-bird has gone," she said.

Then, with her arms about my neck, I raised her head, touching her white brow with my lips.

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When my wife read as far as you have read, she picked up the embroidery which she had dropped beside her on the table.

"Do you like my story?" I asked.

But she only smiled at me from under her straight eyebrows.

The next morning I received her ultimatum ; I am to cease writing about beautiful women of doubtful antecedents who inhabit forest glades, I am to stop making fun of Howlett, I am to curb my passion for rod and gun, and, if I insist on writing about my wife, I am to tell the truth concerning her. This I have promised Ysonde to do, and I shall try to, in "The Black Water."


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