“Pardon; please do not mention it.”
He accepts a glass of the grape juice and an anise-seed cake, for this plant is grown in Malta for export.
The liquid is cold and very refreshing. John has a dozen questions on the tip of his tongue, all of which relate to Sister Magdalen, but he does not put them, for his thoughts become somewhat incoherent, and it is so comfortable sitting there.
When the Mother Superior raises her vail to sip from the amber glass of unfermented wine John Craig, M.D., has sense enough to notice two things; the hand that holds the glass is plump and fair, and the lips under the vail form a Cupid’s bow such as age can never know.
This arouses a wild curiosity in his mind; he wonders what this woman, who wears such a strange habit, can be like, and watches her with something of eagerness.
Surely the room is growing very close; a window opened would be a good thing he believes, and yet somehow lacks the energy to open it, turns his head, and sees the professor lying back in his chair fast asleep.
This gives him a faint shock, but his nerves are deadened; nothing would surprise him very much now, unless an earthquake occurred.
“Rest your head, Doctor Craig; the back of the chair is very comfortable,” he hears a soft voice say.
Warm breath fans his face. The Mother Superior has thrown aside that ugly bonnet; it is a young, face, a fair face, surrounded by golden curls, that looks down upon him, as with a stage laugh the woman rests one hand on the head of the drugged medical student from Chicago, to exclaim:
“At last! he belongs to Pauline Potter!”
THE BEAUTIFUL TIGRESS.
John Craig dreams. He fancies himself bathing with demon apes in the wilds of Africa, having read an explorer’s account of such a scene very recently.
They press him hard, and he can see no hope of escaping with his life.
In the midst of his mental torture he opens his eyes, and the disagreeable features of the case are suddenly swept away.
Where can he be? Soft music throbs upon the scented air, he hears the gentle plash of a fountain in a court near by; a mellow light, anything but garish, shows him the most luxurious surroundings, silks and velvets, brightness in color and gorgeousness in taste, everywhere.
This amazes him; almost takes his breath away; it is so different from his dream, which left him in a desperate hole.
His mind seems dull of comprehension, which must be the effect of the drug, so that for a brief time he is unable to understand the situation, or grasp his condition.
Then it dawns upon him, the mission that took him away from the hotel; and having reached that point, he is wrestling with what must have followed when something touches his face, something that is cool and pleasant—the soft, white hand of a woman.