I procured the sedatives which might relieve the suffering I could not hope to cure. I wrote to Esmo, stating briefly but fully the position as I conceived it; and, on a suggestion from Eive, I despatched another message to a female physician of some repute—one of those few women in Mars who lead the life and do the work of men, and for whose attendance, as I remembered, Eunane had expressed a strong theoretical preference.
From that time I scarcely left her chamber save for a few minutes, and Velna remained constantly at her friend’s side, save when, to give her at least a chance of escape, I sent her to her room to bathe, change her dress, and seek the fresh air for the half hour during which alone I could persuade her to leave the sufferer. The daftare (man-woman) physician came, but on learning the nature of the disease, expressed intense indignation that she had been summoned to a position of so much danger to herself.
I answered by a contemptuous inquiry regarding the price for which she would run so much risk as to remain in the peristyle so long as I might have need of her presence; and, for a fee which would ensure her a life-income as large as that secured to Eveena herself, she consented to remain within speaking distance for the few hours in which the question must be decided. Eunane was seldom insensible or even delirious, and her quick intelligence caught very speedily the meaning of my close attendance, and of the distress which neither Velna nor I could wholly conceal. She asked and extracted from me what I knew of the origin of her illness, and answered, with a far stronger feeling than I should have expected even from her—
“If I am to die, I am glad it should be through trying to serve and please Eveena.... It may seem strange, Clasfempta,” she went on presently, “scarcely possible perhaps; but my love for her is not only greater than the love I bear you, but is so bound up with it that I always think of you together, and love you the better that I love her, and that you love her so much better than me.... But,” she resumed later, “it is hard to die, and die so young. I had never known what happiness meant till I came here.... I have been so happy here, and I was happier each day in feeling that I no longer made Eveena or you less happy. Ah! let me thank you and Eveena while I can for everything, and above all for Velna.... But,” after another long pause, “it is terrible and horrible—never to wake, to move, to hear your voices, to see you, to look upon the sunlight, to think, or even to dream again! Once, to remove a tooth and straighten the rest, they made me senseless; and that sinking into senselessness, though I knew I should waken in a minute, was horrible; and—to sink into senselessness from which I shall never waken!”
She was sinking fast indeed, and this terror of death, so seldom seen in the dying, grew apparently deeper and more intense as death drew near. I could not bear it, and at last took my resolve and dismissed Velna, forbidding her to return till summoned.