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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 183 pages of information about Sacred and Profane Love.

I passed into a narrow hall, with an empty hat-rack, and so into the surgery.  From the back of the house came the sound of a piano—­scales, played very slowly.  The surgery was empty.  I noticed a card with letters of the alphabet printed on it in different sizes; and then the piano ceased, and there was the humming of an air in the passage, and a tall man in a frock-coat, slippered and spectacled, came into the surgery.

‘Good-evening, madam,’ he said gruffly.  ‘Won’t you sit down?’

‘I—­I—­I want to ask you—­’

He put a chair for me, and I dropped into it.

‘There!’ he said, after a moment.  ’You felt as if you might faint, didn’t you?’

I nodded.  The tears came into my eyes.

‘I thought so,’ he said.  ’I’ll just give you a draught, if you don’t mind.’

He busied himself behind me, and presently I was drinking something out of a conical-shaped glass.

My heart beat furiously, but I felt strong.

‘I want you to tell me, doctor,’ I spoke firmly, ’whether I am about to become a mother.’

‘Ah?’ he answered interrogatively, and then he hummed a fragment of an air.

‘I have lost my husband,’ I was about to add; but suddenly I scorned such a weakness and shut my lips.

‘Since when—­’ the doctor began.

* * * * *

‘No,’ I heard him saying.  ’You have been quite mistaken.  But I am not surprised.  Such mistakes are frequently made—­a kind of auto-suggestion.’

‘Mistaken!’ I murmured.

I could not prevent the room running round me as I reclined on the sofa; and I fainted.

But in the night, safely in my room again at the hotel, I wondered whether that secret fear, now exorcised, had not also been a hope.  I wondered....

PART II

THREE HUMAN HEARTS

I

And now I was twenty-six.

Everyone who knows Jove knows the poignant and delicious day when the lovers, undeclared, but sure of mutual passion, await the magic moment of avowal, with all its changeful consequences.  I resume my fragmentary narrative at such a day in my life.  As for me, I waited for the avowal as for an earthquake.  I felt as though I were the captain of a ship on fire, and the only person aware that the flames were creeping towards a powder magazine.  And my love shone fiercely in my heart, like a southern star; it held me, hypnotized, in a thrilling and exquisite entrancement, so that if my secret, silent lover was away from me, as on that fatal night in my drawing-room, my friends were but phantom presences in a shadowy world.  This is not an exaggerated figure, but the truth, for when I have loved I have loved much....

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