Ziska eBook

Marie Corelli
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 174 pages of information about Ziska.

Denzil gave a mute sign of resigned acquiescence.

“Good!  I like you, Denzil; you are a charming boy!  Hot-tempered and a trifle melodramatic in your loves and hatreds,—­yes!—­for that you might have been a Provencal instead of a Scot.  Before I knew you I had a vague idea that all Scotchmen were, or needs must be, ridiculous,—­I don’t know why.  I associated them with bagpipes, short petticoats and whisky.  I had no idea of the type you so well represent,—­the dark, fine eyes, the strong physique, and the impetuous disposition which suggests the South rather than the North; and to-night you look so unlike the accepted cafe chantant picture of the ever-dancing Highlander that you might in very truth be a Florentine in more points than the dress which so well becomes you.  Yes,—­I like you—­and more than you, I like your sister.  That is why I don’t want to quarrel with you; I wouldn’t grieve Mademoiselle Helen for the world.”

Murray gave him a quick, half-angry side-glance.

“You are a strange fellow, Gervase.  Two summers ago you were almost in love with Helen.”

Gervase sighed.

“True.  Almost.  That’s just it.  ‘Almost’ is a very uncomfortable word.  I have been almost in love so many times.  I have never been drawn by a woman’s eyes and dragged down, down,—­in a mad whirlpool of sweetness and poison intermixed.  I have never had my soul strangled by the coils of a woman’s hair—­black hair, black as night,—­in the perfumed meshes of which a jewelled serpent gleams ...  I have never felt the insidious horror of a love like strong drink mounting through the blood to the brain, and there making inextricable confusion of time, space, eternity, everything, except the passion itself; never, never have I felt all this, Denzil, till to-night!  To-night!  Bah!  It is a wild night of dancing and folly, and the Princess Ziska is to blame for it all!  Don’t look so tragic, my good Denzil,—­what ails you now?”

“What ails me?  Good Heavens!  Can you ask it!” and Murray gave a gesture of mingled despair and impatience.  “If you love her in this wild, uncontrolled way ...”

“It is the only way I know of,” said Gervase.  “Love must be wild and uncontrolled to save it from banalite.  It must be a summer thunderstorm; the heavy brooding of the clouds of thought, the lightning of desire, then the crash, the downpour,—­and the end, in which the bland sun smiles upon a bland world of dull but wholesome routine and tame conventionality, making believe that there never was such a thing known as the past storm!  Be consoled, Denzil, and trust me,—­you shall have time to make your honorable proposal, and Madame had better accept you,—­for your love would last,—­mine could not!”

He spoke with a strange fierceness and irritability, and his eyes were darkened by a sudden shadow of melancholy.  Denzil, bewildered at his words and manner, stared at him in a kind of helpless indignation.

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Project Gutenberg
Ziska from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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