“I don’t know what to think of it.”
“And you?” said the Doctor, addressing Ross Courtney.
“I? Oh, I am of the same opinion as Fulkeward,—I think it is a horrible thing. And the curious part of the matter is that it is like the Princess Ziska, and yet totally unlike. Upon my word, you know, it is a very unpleasant picture.”
Dr. Dean got up and paced the room two or three times, his brows knitted in a heavy frown. Suddenly he stopped in front of Gervase.
“Tell me,” he said, “have you any recollection of ever having met the Princess Ziska before?”
Gervase looked puzzled, then answered slowly:
“No, I have no actual recollection of the kind. At the same time, I admit to you that there is something about her which has always struck me as being familiar. The tone of her voice and the peculiar cadence of her laughter particularly affect me in this way. Last night when I was dancing with her, I wondered whether I had ever come across her as a model in one of the studios in Paris or Rome.”
The Doctor listened to him attentively, watching him narrowly the while. But he shook his head incredulously at the idea of the Princess ever having posed as a model.
“No, no, that won’t do!” he said. “I do not believe she was ever in the model business. Think again. You are now a man in the prime of life, Monsieur Gervase, but look back to your early youth,—the period when young men do wild, reckless, and often wicked things,- -did you ever in that thoughtless time break a woman’s heart?”
Gervase flushed, and shrugged his shoulders.
“Pardieu! I may have done! Who can tell? But if I did, what would that have to do with this?” and he tapped the picture impatiently.
The Doctor sat down and smacked his lips with a peculiar air of enjoyment.
“It would have a great deal to do with it,” he answered, “that is, psychologically speaking. I have known of such cases. We will argue the point out systematically thus:—Suppose that you, in your boyhood, had wronged some woman, and suppose that woman had died. You might imagine you had got rid of that woman. But if her love was very strong and her sense of outrage very bitter, I must tell you that you have not got rid of her by any means, moreover, you never will get rid of her. And why? Because her Soul, like all Souls, is imperishable. Now, putting it as a mere supposition, and for the sake of the argument, that you feel a certain admiration for the Princess Ziska, an admiration which might possibly deepen into something more than platonic, ... “—here Denzil Murray looked up, his eyes glowing with an angry pain as he fixed them on Gervase,—“why then the Soul of the other woman you once wronged might come between you and the face of the new attraction and cause you to unconsciously paint the tortured look of the injured and unforgiving Spirit on the countenance of the lovely fascinator whose charms