Gervase laughed loudly.
“My good friend, you are an adept in the art of pleading the impossible! You must excuse me; I am a sceptic; and I hope I am also in possession of my sober reason,—therefore, you can hardly wonder at my entirely refusing to accept such preposterous theories as those you appear to believe in.”
Dr. Dean gave him a civil little bow.
“I do not ask you to accept them, my dear sir! I state my facts, and you can take them or leave them, just as you please. You yourself can offer no explanation of the singular way in which this picture has been produced; I offer one which is perfectly tenable with the discoveries of psychic science,—and you dismiss it as preposterous. That being the case, I should recommend you to cut up this canvas and try your hand again on the same subject.”
“Of course, I shall try again,” retorted Gervase. “But I do not think I shall destroy this first sketch. It is a curiosity in its way; and it has a peculiar fascination for me. Do you notice how thoroughly Egyptian the features are? They are the very contour of some of the faces on the recently-discovered frescoes.”
“Oh, I noticed that at once,” said the Doctor; “but that is not remarkable, seeing that you yourself are quite of an Egyptian type, though a Frenchman,—so much so, in fact, that many people in this hotel have commented on it.”
Gervase said nothing, but slowly turned the canvas round with its face to the wall.
“You have seen enough of it, I suppose?” he inquired of Denzil Murray.
“More than enough!”
“It ought to disenchant you,” he said in a lower tone.
“But it is a libel on her beauty,—it is not in the least like her,” returned Murray coldly.
“Not in the very least? Are you sure? My dear Denzil, you know as well as I do that there is a likeness, combined with a dreadful unlikeness; and it is that which troubles both of us. I assure you, my good boy, I am as sorry for you as I am for myself,—for I feel that this woman will be the death of one or both of us!”