“‘Meanwhile,’ she went on without noticing this rhapsody, ’if you breathe one word or utter one sound by which suspicion can fall on Mr. Blake, my promise is forfeited; if you stay here after to-morrow, or attempt to see me within this and next Christmas Eve, my promise is also forfeited.’
“‘What, am I to leave you at once?’
“He left the room immediately after,” said Tom, “while, after saying ‘Good-night’ to me, she too retired to her bedroom.”
To say that I was astonished at the turn things had taken would not give the slightest idea of my feelings. And yet a great joy filled my heart. The sword of Damocles, which seemed to hang over my head, possessed no terror.
“Is that all, Tom?” I said at length.
“This morning, as I told you, he arranged for Kaffar’s luggage to be sent to Egypt, while he himself is preparing to depart.”
“Where is he going?”
“And Miss Forrest?”
“She, I hope, will stay with us for some time. But, Justin, can you really give no explanation of these things? Surely you must be able to?”
“I cannot, Tom. I am hedged in on every side. I’m enslaved, and I cannot tell you how. My life is a mystery, and at times a terror.”
“But do you know what has become of Kaffar?”
“No more than that dog barking in the yard. All is dark to me.”
Tom left me then, while I, with my poor tired brain, tried to think what to do.
A MESMERIST’S SPELL
I found on entering the breakfast-room that my presence caused no surprise, neither did any of the guests regard me suspiciously. It had gone abroad that I had gone out to find Kaffar, but was unable to do so; and as Voltaire had publicly spoken of Kaffar’s luggage being sent to Cairo, there was, to them, no mystery regarding him.
Several spoke of his going away as being a good riddance, and declared him to be unfit for respectable society; but I did not answer them, and after a while the subject dropped.
Voltaire, however, was not in the room; and when, after having breakfasted, I was wondering where he was, I felt the old terrible sensation come over me. I tried to resist the influence that was drawing me out of the room, but I could not. I put on my overcoat and hat, and, drawn on by an unseen power, I went away towards the fir plantation in which the summer-house was built.
As I knew I should, I found Voltaire there. He smiled on me and lifted his hat politely. “I thought I would allow you to have a good breakfast before summoning you,” he said, “especially as this is the last conversation we shall have for some time.”
I thought I detected a look of triumph in his eyes, yet I was sure he regarded me with intense hatred.
“Yes,” I said, “I am come. What is your will now?”