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Percy Greg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 490 pages of information about Across the Zodiac.

Her manner was so agitated and so anxious that it recalled to me at once the advice of Esmo upon the same point, though the fears which had prompted so strange an intervention were wholly incomprehensible to me.  I knew her, however, by this time too well to refuse the trust she now for the first time claimed, and taking the documents one by one as if I had perfectly understood them, I wrote my name in the space left blank for it, and allowed the official to stamp the slips without a word.  I then expressed briefly but earnestly my thanks both to the Autocrat and to the officials who had been the agents of his kindness.  They retired, and I looked round for Eveena; but as soon as she saw that I was about to comply with her request, she had quitted the room.  Alone in my own house, knowing nothing of its geography, having no notion how to summon the brute domestics—­if, indeed, the dwelling were furnished with those useful creatures, without whom a Martial household would be signally incomplete—­I could only look for the spring that opened the principal door.  This should lead into the gallery which, as I judged, must divide the hall and the front apartments from those looking into the peristyle.  Having found and pressed this spring, the door opened on a gallery longer, wider, and more elaborately ornamented than that of the only Martial mansions into which I had been hitherto admitted.  Looking round in no little perplexity, I observed a niche in which stood a statue of white relieved by a scarlet background; and beside this statue, crouching and half hidden, a slight pink object, looking at first like a bundle of drapery, but which in a moment sprang up, and, catching my hand, made me aware that Eveena had been waiting for me.

“I beg you,” she said with an earnestness I could not understand, “I beg you to come this way,” leading me to the right, for I had turned instinctively to the left in entering the gallery, perhaps because my room in Esmo’s house had lain in that direction.  Reaching the end of the gallery, she turned into one of the inner apartments; and as the door closed behind us, I felt that she was sinking to the ground, as if the agitation she had manifested in the hall, controlled till her object was accomplished, had now overpowered her.  I caught and carried her to the usual pile of cushions in the corner.  The room, according to universal custom in Martial houses after sunset, was brilliantly lighted by the electric lamp in the peristyle, and throwing back her veil, I saw that she was pale to ghastliness and almost fainting.  In my ignorance of my own house, I could call for no help, and employ no other restoratives than fond words and caresses.  Under this treatment, nevertheless, she recovered perhaps as quickly as under any which the faculty might have prescribed.  She was, still, however, much more distressed than mere consciousness of the grave solecism she had committed could explain.  But I had no other clue to her trouble, and could only hope that in repudiating this she would explain its real cause.

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