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Across the Zodiac by Percy Greg

Interjected Leenoo with childish spite


a word to him would put down

under her sandal; but she does. Does she cast no shadow because it never darkens his presence to us? And after all, her mind is not a deeper darkness to me than his. He enjoys life as no man here does; but what he enjoys most is a good chance of losing it; while those who find it so tedious guard it like watch-dragons. When the number of accidents made it difficult to fill up the Southern hunt at any price, the Campta's refusal to let him go so vexed him that Eveena was half afraid to show her sense of relief. You would think he liked pain--the scars of the _kargynda_ are not his only or his deepest ones--if he did not catch at every excuse to spare it. And, again, why does he speak to Eveena as to the Campta, and to us as to children--'child' is his softest word for us? Then, he is patient where you expect no mercy, and severe where others would laugh. When Enva let the electric stove overheat the water, so that he was scalded horribly in his bath, we all counted that he would at least have paid her back the pain twice over. But as soon as Eveena and Eive had arranged the bandages, he sent for her. We could scarcely bring you to him, Enva; but he put out the only hand he could move to stroke your hair as he does Eive's, and spoke for once with real tenderness, as if you were the person to be pitied! Any one else would have laughed heartily at the figure her _esve_ made with half her tail pulled out. But not all Eveena's pleading could obtain pardon for me."

justify;">"That was caprice, not even dealing," said Leenoo. "You were not half so bad as Enva."

"He made me own that I was," replied Eunane. "It never occurred to him to suppose or say that she did it on purpose. But I was cruel on purpose to the bird, if I were not spiteful to its mistress. 'Don't you feel,' he said, 'that intentional cruelty is what no ruler, whether of a household or of a kingdom, has a right to pass over? If not, you can hardly be fit for a charge that gives animals into your power.' I never liked him half so well; and I am sure I deserved a severer lesson. Since then, I cannot help liking them both; though it _is_ mortifying to feel that one is nothing before her."

"It is intolerable," said Enva bitterly; "I detest her."

"Is it her fault?" asked Eunane with some warmth. "They are so like each other and so unlike us, that I could fancy she came from his own world. I went to her next day in her own room."

"Ay," interjected Leenoo with childish spite, "'kiss the foot and 'scape the sandal.'"

"Think so," returned Eunane quietly, "if you like. I thought I owed her some amends. Well, she had her bird in her lap, and I think she was crying over it. But as soon as she saw me she put it out of sight. I began to tell her how sorry I was about it, but she would not let me go on. She kissed me as no one ever kissed me since my school friend Ernie died three years ago; and she cried more over the trouble I had brought on myself than over her pet. And since then," Eunane went on with a softened voice, "she has showed me how pretty its ways are, how clever it is, how fond of her, and she tries to make it friends with me.... Sometimes I don't wonder she is so much to him and he to her. She was brought up in the home where she was born. Her father is one of those strange people; and I fancy there is something between her and Clasfempta more than...."

I could not let this go on; and stepping back from the window as if I had but just returned, I called Eunane by name. She came at once, a little surprised at the summons, but suspecting nothing. But the first sight of my face startled her; and when, on the impulse of the moment, I took her hands and looked straight into her eyes, her quick intelligence perceived at once that I had heard at least part of the conversation.


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