“Will those lamps burn all night, Jeekie?” he asked.
“Hope so, Major, as we haven’t got no match. Not fond of dark in Gold House,” answered Jeekie sleepily. Then he began to snore.
Alan fell asleep, but was too excited and tired to rest very soundly. All sorts of dreams came to him, one of which he remembered on awakening, perhaps because it was the last. He dreamed that he heard some noise and opened his eyes, to see that they were no longer alone in the room. The oil lamps had burned quite low, indeed some of them were out, but by the light of those that remained he saw a tall figure which seemed to appear at the edge of the surrounding blackness, a woman’s figure. It walked forward to the altar-like stone upon which lay the tin box containing Little Bonsa, and after several rather awkward attempts, succeeded in opening it, thereby making a noise which, in his dream, finally awoke Alan. For a while the figure gazed at the fetish. Then it shut the box, glided to his bed and bent down as though to study him. Out of the corners of his eyes he peered up at it, pretending all the while to be fast asleep.
It was that of a woman wonderfully clad in gold-spangled, veil-like garments with round bosses shaped to the breast, covered with thin plates of gold fashioned like the scales of a fish which showed off the extraordinary elegance of her lithe form. The low lamp-light shone upon her face and the coronet of gold set upon her dark hair. What a face it was! Never in all his days had he seen its like for evil loveliness. The great, languid, oblong eyes, the rich red lips bent like a bow, the cruel smile of the mouth, the broad forehead on which the hair grew low, the delicately arched eyebrows and the long curving lashes of the heavy lids beneath them, the rounded cheeks, smooth as a ripe fruit, the firm, shapely chin, the snake-like poise of the head, the long bending neck, and the feline smile; all of these combined made such a dream-vision as he had never seen before, and to tell the truth, notwithstanding its beauty, for that could not be doubted, never wished to see again. Somehow he felt that if Satan should happen to have a copper-coloured wife, the exact picture of that lady had projected itself upon his sleeping senses.
She seemed to study him very earnestly, with a kind of passionate eagerness, indeed, moving a little now and again to let the light fall upon some part that was in shadow. Once even she stretched out her rounded arm and just lifted the edge of the blanket so as to expose his hand, the left. As it chanced on the little finger of this hand Alan wore a plain gold ring which Barbara had given him; once it had been her grandfather’s signet. This ring, which had a coat of arms cut upon its bezel seemed to interest her very much as she examined it for a long while. Then she drew off from her own finger another ring of gold fashioned of two snakes curiously intertwined, and gently, so gently that in his sleep he scarcely felt it, slipped it on to his finger above Barbara’s ring.