“Peace,” she said, with a sudden change of manner, and speaking in her former soft voice. “I did affright thee! Forgive me! But at times, oh Holly, the almost infinite mind grows impatient of the slowness of the very finite, and am I tempted to use my power out of vexation—very nearly wast thou dead, but I remembered——. But the scarab—about the scarabaeus!”
“I picked it up,” I gurgled feebly, as I got on to my feet again, and it is a solemn fact that my mind was so disturbed that at the moment I could remember nothing else about the ring except that I had picked it up in Leo’s cave.
“It is very strange,” she said with a sudden access of womanlike trembling and agitation which seemed out of place in this awful woman—“but once I knew a scarab like to that. It—hung round the neck—of one I loved,” and she gave a little sob, and I saw that after all she was only a woman, although she might be a very old one.
“There,” she went on, “it must be one like to it, and yet never did I see one like to it, for thereto hung a history, and he who wore it prized it much.[*] But the scarab that I knew was not set thus in the bezel of a ring. Go now, Holly, go, and, if thou canst, try to forget that thou hast of thy folly looked upon Ayesha’s beauty,” and, turning from me, she flung herself on her couch, and buried her face in the cushions.
[*] I am informed by a renowned and learned Egyptologist, to whom I have submitted this very interesting and beautifully finished scarab, “Suten se Ra,” that he has never seen one resembling it. Although it bears a title frequently given to Egyptian royalty, he is of opinion that it is not necessarily the cartouche of a Pharaoh, on which either the throne or personal name of the monarch is generally inscribed. What the history of this particular scarab may have been we can now, unfortunately, never know, but I have little doubt but that it played some part in the tragic story of the Princess Amenartas and her lover Kallikrates, the forsworn priest of Isis.—Editor.
As for me, I stumbled from her presence, and I do not remember how I reached my own cave.
A SOUL IN HELL
It was nearly ten o’clock at night when I cast myself down upon my bed, and began to gather my scattered wits, and reflect upon what I had seen and heard. But the more I reflected the less I could make of it. Was I mad, or drunk, or dreaming, or was I merely the victim of a gigantic and most elaborate hoax? How was it possible that I, a rational man, not unacquainted with the leading scientific facts of our history, and hitherto an absolute and utter disbeliever in all the hocus-pocus which in Europe goes by the name of the supernatural, could believe that I had within the last few minutes been engaged in conversation with a woman two thousand and odd years old? The thing was contrary to the experience of human nature, and