“’I am jealous of this stranger. What is he but a short-lived half-barbarian such as we knew in the old days? And yet already you think more of him than you do of me, your father, the divine Oro who has lived a thousand years. At first I helped that physician to save him, but now I think I wish him dead.’
“‘If you let this man die, my Father,’ I answered, ’then we part. Remember that I also have of the wisdom of our people, and can use it if I will.’
“‘Then save him yourself,’ he said.
“‘Perhaps I shall, my Father,’ I answered, ’but if so it will not be here. I say that if so we part and you shall be left to rule in your majesty alone.’
“Now this frightened the Lord Oro, for he has the weakness that he hates to be alone.
“‘If I do what you will, do you swear never to leave me, Yva?’ he asked. ‘Know that if you will not swear, the man dies.’
“‘I swear,’ I answered—for your sake, Humphrey—though I did not love the oath.
“Then he gave me a certain medicine to mix with the Life-water, and when you were almost gone that medicine cured you, though Bickley does not know it, as nothing else could have done. Now I have told you the truth, for your own ear only, Humphrey.”
“Yva,” I asked, “why did you do all this for me?”
“Humphrey, I do not know,” she answered, “but I think because I must. Now sleep a while.”
The Proposals of Bastin and Bickley
So far as my body was concerned I grew well with great rapidity, though it was long before I got back my strength. Thus I could not walk far or endure any sustained exertion. With my mind it was otherwise. I can not explain what had happened to it; indeed I do not know, but in a sense it seemed to have become detached and to have assumed a kind of personality of its own. At times it felt as though it were no longer an inhabitant of the body, but rather its more or less independent partner. I was perfectly clear-headed and of insanity I experienced no symptoms. Yet my mind, I use that term from lack of a better, was not entirely under my control. For one thing, at night it appeared to wander far away, though whither it went and what it saw there I could never remember.
I record this because possibly it explains certain mysterious events, if they were events and not dreams, which shortly I must set out. I spoke to Bickley about the matter. He put it by lightly, saying that it was only a result of my long and most severe illness and that I should steady down in time, especially if we could escape from that island and its unnatural atmosphere. Yet as he spoke he glanced at me shrewdly with his quick eyes, and when he turned to go away I heard him mutter something to himself about “unholy influences” and “that confounded old Oro.”
The words were spoken to himself and quite beneath his breath, and of course not meant to reach me. But one of the curious concomitants of my state was that all my senses, and especially my hearing, had become most abnormally acute. A whisper far away was now to me like a loud remark made in a room.