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The Purple Cloud by M.P. Shiel

Part 4 out of 6

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coast fits in with the in-curve of Africa: so that it is obvious to
me--it is quite _obvious_--that they once were one; and one night rushed
so far apart; and the wild Atlantic knew that thing, and ran gladly,
hasting in between: and how if eye of flesh had been there to see, and
ear to hear that cruel thundering, my God, my God--what horror! And if
now they meet again, so long apart ...but that way fury lies. Yet one
cannot help but think: I lie awake and think, for she fills my soul, and
absorbs it, with all her moods and ways. She has meanings, secrets,
plans. Strange, strange, for instance, that similarity between the
scheme of Europe and the scheme of Asia: each with three southern
peninsulas pointing south: Spain corresponding with Arabia, Italy with
India, the Morea and Greece, divided by the Gulf of Corinth,
corresponding with the Malay Peninsula and Annam, divided by the Gulf of
Siam; each with two northern peninsulas pointing south, Sweden and
Norway, and Korea and Kamschatka; each with two great islands similarly
placed, Britain and Ireland, and the Japanese Hondo and Yezo; the Old
World and the New has each a peninsula pointing north--Denmark and
Yucatan: a forefinger with long nail--and a thumb--pointing to the Pole.
What does she mean? What can she mean, O Ye that made her? Is she
herself a living being, with a will and a fate, as sailors said that
ships were living entities? And that thing that wheeled at the Pole,
wheels it still yonder, yonder, in its dark ecstasy? Strange that
volcanoes are all near the sea: I don't know why; I don't think that
anyone ever knew. This fact, in connection with submarine explosions,
used to be cited in support of the chemical theory of volcanoes, which
supposed the infiltration of the sea into ravines containing the
materials which form the fuel of eruptions: but God knows if that is
true. The lofty ones are intermittent--a century, two, ten, of silent
waiting, and then their talk silenced for ever some poor district; the
low ones are constant in action. Who could know the dark way of the
world? Sometimes they form a linear system, consisting of several vents
which extend in one direction, near together, like chimneys of some long
foundry beneath. In mountains, a series of serrated peaks denotes the
presence of dolomites; rounded heads mean calcareous rocks; and needles,
crystalline schists. The preponderance of land in the northern
hemisphere denotes the greater intensity there of the causes of
elevation at a remote geologic epoch: that is all that one can say about
it: but whence that greater intensity? I have some knowledge of the
earth for only ten miles down: but she has eight thousand miles: and
whether through all that depth she is flame or fluid, hard or soft, I do
not know, I do not know. Her method of forming coal, geysers and hot
sulphur-springs, and the jewels, and the atols and coral reefs; the
metamorphic rocks of sedimentary origin, like gneiss, the plutonic and
volcanic rocks, rocks of fusion, and the unstratified masses which
constitute the basis of the crust; and harvests, the burning flame of
flowers, and the passage from the vegetable to the animal: I do not know
them, but they are of her, and they are like me, molten in the same
furnace of her fiery heart. She is dark and moody, sudden and ill-fated,
and rends her young like a cannibal lioness; and she is old and wise,
and remembers Hur of the Chaldees which Uruk built, and that Temple of
Bel which rose in seven pyramids to symbolise the planets, and
Birs-i-Nimrud, and Haran, and she bears still, as a thing of yesterday,
old Persepolis and the tomb of Cyrus, and those cloister-like
viharah-temples of the ancient Buddhists, cut from the Himalayan rock;
and returning from the Far East, I stopped at Ismailia, and so to Cairo,
and saw where Memphis was, and stood one bright midnight before that
great pyramid of Shafra, and that dumb Sphynx, and, seated at the well
of one of the rock-tombs, looked till tears of pity streamed down my
cheeks: for great is the earth, and her Ages, but man 'passeth away.'
These tombs have pillars extremely like the two palace-pillars, only
that these are round, and mine are square: for I chose it so: but the
same band near the top, then over this the closed lotus-flower, then the
small square plinth, which separates them from the architrave, only mine
have no architrave; the tombs consist of a little outer temple or court,
then comes a well, and inside another chamber, where, I suppose, the
dead were, a ribbon-like astragal surrounding the walls, which are
crowned with boldly-projecting cornices, surmounted by an abacus. And
here, till the pressing want of food drove me back, I remained: for more
and more the earth over-grows me, wooes me, assimilates me; so that I
ask myself this question: 'Must I not, in time, cease to be a man, and
become a small earth, precisely her copy, extravagantly weird and
fierce, half-demoniac, half-ferine, wholly mystic--morose and
turbulent--fitful, and deranged, and sad--like her?'

* * * * *

A whole month of that voyage, from May the 15th to June the 13th, I
wasted at the Andaman Islands near Malay: for that any old Chinaman
could be alive in Pekin began, after some time, to seem the most
quixotic notion that ever entered a human brain; and these jungled
islands, to which I came after a shocking vast orgy one night at
Calcutta, when I fired not only the city but the river, pleased my fancy
to such an extent, that at one time I intended to abide there. I was at
the one called in the chart 'Saddle Hill,' the smallest of them, I
think: and seldom have I had such sensations of peace as I lay a whole
burning day in a rising vale, deeply-shaded in palm and tropical
ranknesses, watching thence the _Speranza_ at anchor: for there was a
little offing here at the shore whence the valley arose, and I could see
one of its long peaks lined with cocoanut-trees, and all cloud burned
out of the sky except the flimsiest lawn-figments, and the sea as
absolutely calm as a lake roughened with breezes, yet making a
considerable noise in its breaking on the shore, as I have noticed in
these sorts of places: I do not know why. These poor Andaman people seem
to have been quite savage, for I met a number of them in roaming the
island, nearly skeletons, yet with limbs and vertebrae still, in
general, cohering, and in some cases dry-skinned and mummified relics of
flesh, and never anywhere a sign of clothes: a very singular thing,
considering their nearness to high old civilisations all about them.
They looked small and black, or almost; and I never found a man without
finding on or near him a spear and other weapons: so that they were
eager folk, and the wayward dark earth was in them, too, as she should
be in her children. They had in many cases some reddish discoloration,
which may have been the traces of betel-nut stains: for betel-nuts
abound there. And I was so pleased with these people, that I took on
board with the gig one of their little tree-canoes: which was my
foolishness: for gig and canoe were only three nights later washed from
the decks into the middle of the sea.

* * * * *

I passed down the Straits of Malacca, and in that short distance between
the Andaman Islands, and the S.W. corner of Borneo I was thrice so
mauled, that at times it seemed quite out of the question that anything
built by man could escape such unfettered cataclysms, and I resigned
myself, but with bitter reproaches, to perish darkly. The effect of the
third upon me, when it was over, was the unloosening afresh of all my
evil passion: for I said: 'Since they mean to slay me, death shall find
me rebellious'; and for weeks I could not sight some specially happy
village, or umbrageous spread of woodland, that I did not stop the ship,
and land the materials for their destruction; so that nearly all those
spicy lands about the north of Australia will bear the traces of my hand
for many a year: for more and more my voyage became dawdling and
zigzaged, as the merest whim directed it, or the movement of the pointer
on the chart; and I thought of eating the lotus of surcease and nepenthe
in some enchanted nook of this bowering summer, where from my hut-door I
could see through the pearl-hues of opium the sea-lagoon slaver lazily
upon the old coral atol, and the cocoanut-tree would droop like slumber,
and the bread-fruit tree would moan in sweet and weary dream, and I
should watch the _Speranza_ lie anchored in the pale atol-lake, year
after year, and wonder what she was, and whence, and why she dozed so
deep for ever, and after an age of melancholy peace and burdened bliss,
I should note that sun and moon had ceased revolving, and hung inert,
opening anon a heavy lid to doze and drowse again, and God would sigh
'Enough,' and nod, and Being would swoon to sleep: for that any old
Chinaman should be alive in Pekin was a thing so fantastically maniac,
as to draw from me at times sudden fits of wild red laughter that left
me faint.

During a space of four months, from the 18th June to the 23rd October, I
visited the Fijis, where I saw skulls still surrounded with remnants of
extraordinary haloes of stiff hair, women clad in girdles made of thongs
fixed in a belt, and, in Samoa near, bodies crowned with coronets of
nautilus-shell, and traces of turmeric-paint and tattooing, and in one
townlet a great assemblage of carcasses, suggesting by their look some
festival, or dance: so that I believe that these people were overthrown
without the least fore-knowledge of anything. The women of the Maoris
wore an abundance of green-jade ornaments, and I found a peculiar kind
of shell-trumpet, one of which I have now, also a tattooing chisel, and
a nicely-carved wooden bowl. The people of New Caledonia, on the other
hand, went, I should think, naked, confining their attention to the
hair, and in this resembling the Fijians, for they seemed to wear an
artificial hair made of the fur of some creature like a bat, and also
they wore wooden masks, and great rings--for the ear, no doubt--which
must have fallen to the shoulders: for the earth was in them all, and
made them wild, perverse and various like herself. I went from one to
the other without any system whatever, searching for the ideal
resting-place, and often thinking that I had found it: but only wearying
of it at the thought that there was a yet deeper and dreamier in the
world. But in this search I received a check, my God, which chilled me
to the marrow, and set me flying from these places.

* * * * *

One evening, the 29th November, I dined rather late--at eight--sitting,
as was my custom in calm weather, cross-legged on the cabin-rug at the
port aft corner, a small semicircle of _Speranza_ gold-plate before me,
and near above me the red-shaded lamp with green conical reservoir,
whose creakings never cease in the stillest mid-sea, and beyond the
plates the array of preserved soups, meat-extracts, meats, fruit,
sweets, wines, nuts, liqueurs, coffee on the silver spirit-tripod,
glasses, cruet, and so on, which it was always my first care to select
from the store-room, open, and lay out once for all in the morning on
rising. I was late, seven being my hour: for on that day I had been
engaged in the occasionally necessary, but always deferred, task of
overhauling the ship, brushing here a rope with tar, there a board with
paint, there a crank with oil, rubbing a door-handle, a brass-fitting,
filling the three cabin-lamps, dusting mirrors and furniture, dashing
the great neat-joinered plains of deck with bucketfulls, or, high in
air, chopping loose with its rigging the mizzen top-mast, which since a
month was sprained at the clamps, all this in cotton drawers under loose
_quamis_, bare-footed, my beard knotted up, the sun a-blaze, the sea
smooth and pale with the smooth pallor of strong currents, the ship
still enough, no land in sight, yet great tracts of sea-weed making
eastward--I working from 11 A.M. till near 7, when sudden darkness
interrupted: for I wished to have it all over in one obnoxious day. I
was therefore very tired when I went down, lit the central chain-lever
lamp and my own two, washed and dressed in my bedroom, and sat to dinner
in the dining-hall corner. I ate voraciously, with sweat, as usual,
pouring down my eager brow, using knife or spoon in the right hand, but
never the Western fork, licking the plates clean in the Mohammedan
manner, and drinking pretty freely. Still I was tired, and went upon
deck, where I had the threadbare blue-velvet easy-chair with the broken
left arm before the wheel, and in it sat smoking cigar after cigar from
the Indian D box, half-asleep, yet conscious. The moon came up into a
pretty cloudless sky, and she was bright, but not bright enough to
out-shine the enlightened flight of the ocean, which that night was one
continuous swamp of Jack-o'-lantern phosphorescence, a wild but faint
luminosity mingled with stars and flashes of brilliance, the whole
trooping unanimously eastward, as if in haste with elfin momentous
purpose, a boundless congregation, in the sweep of a strong oceanic
current. I could hear it, in my slumbrous lassitude, struggling and
gurgling at the tied rudder, and making wet sloppy noises under the
sheer of the poop; and I was aware that the _Speranza_ was gliding along
pretty fast, drawn into that procession, probably at the rate of four to
six knots: but I did not care, knowing very well that no land was within
two hundred miles of my bows, for I was in longitude 173 deg., in the
latitude of Fiji and the Society Islands, between those two: and after a
time the cigar drooped and dropped from my mouth, and sleep overcame
me, and I slept there, in the lap of the Infinite.

* * * * *

So that something preserves me, Something, Someone: _and for what?_ ...
If I had slept in the cabin, I must most certainly have perished: for
lying there on the poop, I dreamed a dream which once I had dreamed on
the ice, far, far yonder in the forgotten hyperborean North: that I was
in an Arabian paradise, a Garden of Peaches; and I had a very long
vision of it, for I walked among the trees, and picked the fruit, and
pressed the blossoms to my nostrils with breathless inhalations of love:
till a horrible sickness woke me: and when I opened my eyes, the night
was black, the moon gone down, everything wet with dew, the sky arrayed
with most glorious stars like a thronged bazaar of tiaraed rajahs and
begums with spangled trains, and all the air fragrant with that mortal
scent; and high and wide uplifted before me--stretching from the
northern to the southern limit--a row of eight or nine inflamed smokes,
as from the chimneys of some Cyclopean foundry a-work all night, most
solemn, most great and dreadful in the solemn night: eight or nine, I
should say, or it might be seven, or it might be ten, for I did not
count them; and from those craters puffed up gusts of encrimsoned
material, here a gust and there a gust, with tinselled fumes that
convolved upon themselves, and sparks and flashes, all veiled in a
garish haze of light: for the foundry worked, though languidly; and upon
a rocky land four miles ahead, which no chart had ever marked, the
_Speranza_ drove straight with the current of the phosphorus sea.

As I rose, I fell flat: and what I did thereafter I did in a state of
existence whose acts, to the waking mind, appear unreal as dream. I must
at once, I think, have been conscious that here was the cause of the
destruction of mankind; that it still surrounded its own neighbourhood
with poisonous fumes; and that I was approaching it. I must have somehow
crawled, or dragged myself forward. There is an impression on my mind
that it was a purple land of pure porphyry; there is some faint memory,
or dream, of hearing a long-drawn booming of waves upon its crags: I do
not know whence I have them. I think that I remember retching with
desperate jerks of the travailing intestines; also that I was on my face
as I moved the regulator in the engine-room: but any recollection of
going down the stairs, or of coming up again, I have not. Happily, the
wheel was tied, the rudder hard to port, and as the ship moved, she
must, therefore, have turned; and I must have been back to untie the
wheel in good time, for when my senses came, I was lying there, my head
against the under gimbal, one foot on a spoke of the wheel, no land in
sight, and morning breaking.

This made me so sick, that for either two or three days I lay without
eating in the chair near the wheel, only rarely waking to sufficient
sense to see to it that she was making westward from that place; and on
the morning when I finally roused myself I did not know whether it was
the second or the third morning: so that my calendar, so scrupulously
kept, may be a day out, for to this day I have never been at the pains
to ascertain whether I am here writing now on the 5th or the 6th of

* * * * *

Well, on the fourth, or the fifth, evening after this, just as the sun
was sinking beyond the rim of the sea, I happened to look where he hung
motionless on the starboard bow: and there I saw a clean-cut black-green
spot against his red--a most unusual sight here and now--a ship: a poor
thing, as it turned out when I got near her, without any sign of mast,
heavily water-logged, some relics of old rigging hanging over, even her
bowsprit apparently broken in the middle (though I could not see it),
and she nothing more than a hirsute green mass of old weeds and
sea-things from bowsprit-tip to poop, and from bulwarks to water-line,
stout as a hedgehog, only awaiting there the next high sea to founder.

It being near my dinner-hour and night's rest, I stopped the _Speranza_
some fifteen yards from her, and commenced to pace my spacious poop, as
usual, before eating; and as I paced, I would glance at her, wondering
at her destiny, and who were the human men that had lived on her, their
Christian names, and family names, their age, and thought, and way of
life, and beards; till the desire arose within me to go to her, and see;
and I threw off my outer garments, uncovered and unroped the cedar
cutter--the only boat, except the air-pinnace, left to me intact--and
got her down by the mizzen five-block pulley-system. But it was a
ridiculous nonsense, for having paddled to her, I was thrown into
paroxysms of rage by repeated failures to scale her bulwarks, low as
they were; my hands, indeed, could reach, but I found no hold upon the
slimy mass, and three rope-ends which I caught were also untenably
slippery: so that I jerked always back into the boat, my clothes a mass
of filth, and the only thought in my blazing brain a twenty-pound
charge of guncotton, of which I had plenty, to blow her to uttermost
Hell. I had to return to the _Speranza_, get a half-inch rope, then back
to the other, for I would not be baulked in such a way, though now the
dark was come, only slightly tempered by a half-moon, and I getting
hungry, and from minute to minute more fiendishly ferocious. Finally, by
dint of throwing, I got the rope-loop round a mast-stump, drew myself
up, and made fast the boat, my left hand cut by some cursed shell: and
all for what? the imperiousness of a whim. The faint moonlight shewed an
ample tract of deck, invisible in most parts under rolled beds of putrid
seaweed, and no bodies, and nothing but a concave, large esplanade of
seaweed. She was a ship of probably 1,500 tons, three-masted, and a
sailer. I got aft (for I had on thick outer babooshes), and saw that
only four of the companion-steps remained; by a small leap, however, I
could descend into that desolation, where the stale sea-stench seemed
concentrated into a very essence of rankness. Here I experienced a
singular ghostly awe and timorousness, lest she should sink with me, or
something: but striking matches, I saw an ordinary cabin, with some
fungoids, skulls, bones and rags, but not one cohering skeleton. In the
second starboard berth was a small table, and on the floor a thick
round ink-pot, whose continual rolling on its side made me look down;
and there I saw a flat square book with black covers, which curved
half-open of itself, for it had been wet and stained. This I took, and
went back to the _Speranza_: for that ship was nothing but an emptiness,
and a stench of the crude elements of life, nearly assimilated now to
the rank deep to which she was wedded, and soon to be absorbed into its
nature and being, to become a sea in little, as I, in time, my God,
shall be nothing but an earth in little.

During dinner, and after, I read the book, with some difficulty, for it
was pen-written in French, and discoloured, and it turned out to be the
journal of someone, a passenger and voyager, I imagine, who called
himself Albert Tissu, and the ship the _Marie Meyer_. There was nothing
remarkable in the narrative that I could see--common-place descriptions
of South Sea scenes, records of weather, cargoes, and the like--till I
came to the last written page: and that was remarkable enough. It was
dated the 13th of April--strange thing, my good God, incredibly
strange--that same day, twenty long years ago, when I reached the Pole;
and the writing on that page was quite different from the neat look of
the rest, proving immoderate excitement, wildest haste; and he heads it
'_Cinq Heures_,'--I suppose in the evening, for he does not say: and he
writes: 'Monstrous event! phenomenon without likeness! the witnesses of
which must for ever live immortalised in the annals of the universe, an
event which will make even Mama, Henri and Juliette admit that I was
justified in undertaking this most eventful voyage. Talking with Captain
Tombarel on the poop, when a sudden exclamation from him--"_Mon Dieu!_"
His visage whitens! I follow the direction of his gaze to eastward! I
behold! eight kilometres perhaps away--, _ten monstrous waterspouts_,
reaching up, up, high enough--all apparently in one straight line, with
intervals of nine hundred _metres_, very regularly placed. They do not
wander, dance, nor waver, as waterspouts do; nor are they at all
lily-shaped, like waterspouts: but ten hewn pillars of water, with
uniform diameter from top to bottom, only a little twisted here and
there, and, as I divine, fifty _metres_ in girth. Five, ten, stupendous
minutes we look, Captain Tombarel mechanically repeating and repeating
under his breath "_Mon Dieu!_" "_Mon Dieu!_" the whole crew now on the
poop, I agitated, but collected, watch in hand. And suddenly, all is
blotted out: the pillars of water, doubtless still there, can no more be
seen: for the ocean all about them is steaming, hissing higher than the
pillars a dense white vapour, vast in extent, whose venomous sibilation
we at this distance can quite distinctly hear. It is affrighting, it is
intolerable! the eyes can hardly bear to watch, the ears to hear! it
seems unholy travail, monstrous birth! But it lasts not long: all at
once the _Marie Meyer_ commences to pitch and roll violently, and the
sea, a moment since calm, is now rough! and at the same time, through
the white vapour, we see a dark shadow slowly rising--the shadow of a
mighty back, a new-born land, bearing upwards ten flames of fire,
slowly, steadily, out of the sea, into the clouds. At the moment when
that sublime emergence ceases, or seems to cease, the grand thought that
smites me is this: "I, Albert Tissu, am immortalised: my name shall
never perish from among men!" I rush down, I write it. The latitude is
16 deg. 21' 13" South; the longitude 176 deg. 58' 19" West[1]. There is a great
deal of running about on the decks--they are descending. There is surely
a strange odour of almonds--I only hope--it is so dark, _mon D_----'

So the Frenchman, Tissu.

[Footnote 1: This must be French reckoning, from meridian of Paris.]

* * * * *

With all that region I would have no more to do: for all here, it used
to be said, lies a great sunken continent; and I thought it would be
rising and shewing itself to my eyes, and driving me stark mad: for the
earth is full of these contortions, sudden monstrous grimaces and
apparitions, which are like the face of Medusa, affrighting a man into
spinning stone; and nothing could be more appallingly insecure than
living on a planet.

I did not stop till I had got so far northward as the Philippine
Islands, where I was two weeks--exuberant, odorous places, but so hilly
and rude, that at one place I abandoned all attempt at travelling in the
motor, and left it in a valley by a broad, shallow, noisy river, full of
mossy stones: for I said: 'Here I will live, and be at peace'; and then
I had a fright, for during three days I could not re-discover the river
and the motor, and I was in the greatest despair, thinking: 'When shall
I find my way out of these jungles and vastnesses?' For I was where no
paths were, and had lost myself in deeps where the lure of the earth is
too strong and rank for a single man, since in such places, I suppose, a
man would rapidly be transformed into a tree, or a snake, or a tiger. At
last, however, I found the place, to my great joy, but I would not shew
that I was glad, and to hide it, fell upon a front wheel of the car with
some kicks. I could not make out who the people were that lived here:
for the relics of some seemed quite black, like New Zealand races, and I
could still detect the traces of tattooing, while others suggested
Mongolian types, and some looked like pigmies, and some like whites. But
I cannot detail the two-years' incidents of that voyage: for it is past,
and like a dream: and not to write of that--of all that--have I taken
this pencil in hand after seventeen long, long years.

* * * * *

Singular my reluctance to put it on paper. I will write rather of the
voyage to China, and how I landed the motor on the wharf at Tientsin,
and went up the river through a maize and rice-land most charming in
spite of intense cold, I thick with clothes as an Arctic traveller; and
of the three dreadful earthquakes within two weeks; and how the only map
which I had of the city gave no indication of the whereabouts of its
military depositories, and I had to seek for them; and of the three
days' effort to enter them, for every gate was solid and closed; and how
I burned it, but had to observe its flames, without deep pleasure, from
beyond the walls to the south, the whole place being one cursed plain;
yet how, at one moment, I cried aloud with wild banterings and glad
laughters of Tophet to that old Chinaman still alive within it; and how
I coasted, and saw the hairy Ainus, man and woman hairy alike; and how,
lying one midnight awake in my cabin, the _Speranza_ being in a still
glassy water under a cliff overhung by drooping trees--it was the
harbour of Chemulpo--to me lying awake came the thought: 'Suppose now
you should hear a step walking to and fro, leisurely, on the poop above
you--_just suppose'_; and the night of horrors which I had, for I could
not help supposing, and at one time really thought that I heard it: and
how the sweat rolled and poured from my brow; and how I went to
Nagasaki, and burned it; and how I crossed over the great Pacific deep
to San Francisco, for I knew that Chinamen had been there, too, and one
of them might be alive; and how, one calm day, the 15th or the 16th
April, I, sitting by the wheel in the mid-Pacific, suddenly saw a great
white hole that ran and wheeled, and wheeled and ran, in the sea, coming
toward me, and I was aware of the hot breath of a reeling wind, and then
of the hot wind itself, which deep-groaned the sound of the letter _V_,
humming like a billion spinning-tops, and the _Speranza_ was on her
side, sea pouring over her port-bulwarks, and myself in the corner
between deck and taffrail, drowning fast, but unable to stir; but all
was soon past and the white hole in the sea, and the hot spinning-top of
wind, ran wheeling beyond, to the southern horizon, and the _Speranza_
righted herself: so that it was clear that someone wished to destroy me,
for that a typhoon of such vehemence ever blew before I cannot think;
and how I came to San Francisco, and how I burned it, and had my sweets:
for it was mine; and how I thought to pass over the great
trans-continental railway to New York, but would not, fearing to leave
the _Speranza_, lest all the ships in the harbour there should be
wrecked, or rusted, and buried under sea-weed, and turned unto the sea;
and how I went back, my mind all given up now to musings upon the earth
and her ways, and a thought in my soul that I would return to those deep
places of the Filipinas, and become an autochthone--a tree, or a snake,
or a man with snake-limbs, like the old autochthones: but I would not:
for Heaven was in man, too: Earth and Heaven; and how as I steamed round
west again, another winter come, and I now in a mood of dismal
despondencies, on the very brink of the inane abyss and smiling idiotcy,
I saw in the island of Java the great temple of Boro Budor: and like a
tornado, or volcanic event, my soul was changed: for my recent studies
in the architecture of the human race recurred to me with interest, and
three nights I slept in the temple, examining it by day. It is vast,
with that look of solid massiveness which above all characterises the
Japanese and Chinese building, my measurement of its width being 529
feet, and it rises terrace-like in six stories to a height of about 120
or 130 feet: here Buddhist and Brahmin forms are combined into a most
richly-developed whole, with a voluptuousness of tracery that is simply
intoxicating, each of the five off-sets being divided up into an
innumerable series of external niches, containing each a statue of the
sitting Boodh, all surmounted by a number of cupolas, and the whole
crowned by a magnificent dagop: and when I saw this, I had the impulse
to return to my home after so long wandering, and to finish the temple
of temples, and the palace of palaces; and I said: 'I will return, and
build it as a testimony to God.'

* * * * *

Save for a time, near Cairo, I did not once stop on that homeward
voyage, but turned into the little harbour at Imbros at a tranquil
sunset on the 7th of March (as I reckon), and I moored the _Speranza_ to
the ring in the little quay, and I raised the battered motor from the
hold with the middle air-engine (battered by the typhoon in the
mid-Pacific, which had broken it from the rope-fastenings and tumbled it
head-over-heels to port), and I went through the windowless
village-street, and up through the plantains and cypresses which I knew,
and the Nile mimosas, and mulberries, and Trebizond palms, and pines,
and acacias, and fig-trees, till the thicket stopped me, and I had to
alight: for in those two years the path had finally disappeared; and on,
on foot, I made my way, till I came to the board-bridge, and leant
there, and looked at the rill; and thence climbed the steep path in the
sward toward that rolling table-land where I had built with many a
groan; and half-way up, I saw the tip of the crane-arm, then the blazing
top of the south pillar, then the shed-roof, then the platform, a
blinking blotch of glory to the watery eyes under the setting sun. But
the tent, and nearly all that it contained, was gone.

* * * * *

For four days I would do nothing, simply lying and watching, shirking a
load so huge: but on the fifth morning I languidly began something: and
I had not worked an hour, when a fever took me--to finish it, to finish
it--and it lasted upon me, with only three brief intervals, nearly seven
years; nor would the end have been so long in coming, but for the
unexpected difficulty of getting the four flat roofs water-tight, for I
had to take down half the east one. Finally, I made them of gold slabs
one-and-a-quarter inch thick, smooth on both sides, on each beam double
gutters being fixed along each side of the top flange to catch any
leakage at the joints, which are filled with slaters'-cement. The slabs
are clamped to the top flanges by steel clips, having bolts set with
plaster-of-Paris in holes drilled in the slabs. These clips are 1-1/2
in. by 3/17 in., and are 17 in. apart. The roofs are slightly pitched to
the front edges, where they drain into gold-plated copper-gutters on
plated wrought-iron brackets, with one side flashed up over the blocks,
which raise the slabs from the beam-tops, to clear the joint gutters....
But now I babble again of that base servitude, which I would forget, but
cannot: for every measurement, bolt, ring, is in my brain, like a
burden: but it is past, it is past--and it was vanity.

* * * * *

Six months ago to-day it was finished: six months more protracted,
desolate, burdened, than all those sixteen years in which I built.

I wonder what a man--another man--some Shah, or Tsar, of that far-off
past, would say now of me, if eye could rest upon me! With what awe
would he certainly shrink before the wild majesty of these eyes; and
though I am not lunatic--for I am not, I am not--how would he fly me
with the exclamation: 'There is the very lunacy of Pride!'

For there would seem to him--it must be so--in myself, in all about me,
something extravagantly royal, touched with terror. My body has
fattened, and my girth now fills out to a portly roundness its broad
Babylonish girdle of crimson cloth, minutely gold-embroidered, and hung
with silver, copper and gold coins of the Orient; my beard, still black,
sweeps in two divergent sheaves to my hips, flustered by every wind; as
I walk through this palace, the amber-and-silver floor reflects in its
depths my low-necked, short-armed robe of purple, blue, and scarlet,
a-glow with luminous stones. I am ten times crowned Lord and Emperor; I
sit a hundred times enthroned in confirmed, obese old Majesty. Challenge
me who will--challenge me who dare! Among those myriad worlds upon which
I nightly pore, I may have my Peers and Compeers and Fellow-denizens ...
but _here_ I am Sole; Earth acknowledges my ancient sway and hereditary
sceptre: for though she draws me, not yet, not yet, am I hers, but she
is mine. It seems to me not less than a million million aeons since
other beings, more or less resembling me, walked impudently in the open
sunlight on this planet, which is rightly mine--I can indeed no longer
picture to myself, nor even credit, that such a state of things--so
fantastic, so far-fetched, so infinitely droll--could have existed:
though, at bottom, I suppose, I know that it must have been really so.
Up to ten years ago, in fact, I used frequently to dream that there were
others. I would see them walk in the streets like ghosts, and be
troubled, and start awake: but never now could such a thing, I think,
occur to me in sleep: for the wildness of the circumstance would
certainly strike my consciousness, and immediately I should know that
the dream was a dream. For now, at least, I am sole, I am lord. The
golden walls of this palace which I have built look down, enamoured of
their reflection, into a lake of the choicest, purplest wine.

Not that I made it of wine because wine is rare; nor the walls of gold
because gold is rare: that would have been too childish: but because I
would match for beauty a human work with the works of those Others: and
because it happens, by some persistent freak of the earth, that
precisely things most rare and costly are generally the most beautiful.

The vision of glorious loveliness which is this palace now risen before
my eyes cannot be described by pen and paper, though there _may_ be
words in the lexicons of language which, if I sought for them with
inspired wit for sixteen years, as I have built for sixteen years, might
as vividly express my thought on paper, as the stones-of-gold, so
grouped and built, express it to the eye: but, failing such labours and
skill, I suppose I could not give, if there were another man, and I
tried to give, the faintest conception of its celestial charm.

It is a structure positively as clear as the sun, and as fair as the
moon--the sole great human work in the making of which no restraining
thought of cost has played a part: one of its steps alone being of more
cost than all the temples, mosques and besestins, the palaces, pagodas
and cathedrals, built between the ages of the Nimrods and the Napoleons.

The house itself is very small--only 40 ft. long, by 35 broad, by 27
high: yet the structure as a whole is sufficiently enormous, high
uplifted: the rest of the bulk being occupied by the platform, on which
the house stands, each side of this measuring at its base 480 ft., its
height from top to bottom 130 ft, and its top 48 ft. square, the
elevation of the steps being just nearly 30 degrees, and the top reached
from each of the four points of the compass by 183 low long steps, very
massively overlaid with smooth molten gold--not forming a continuous
flight, but broken into threes and fives, sixes and nines, with landings
between the series, these from the top looking like a great terraced
parterre of gold. It is thus an Assyrian palace in scheme: only that the
platform has steps on all sides, instead of on one. The platform-top,
from its edge to the golden walls of the house, is a mosaic consisting
of squares of the glassiest clarified gold, and squares of the glassiest
jet, corner to corner, each square 2 ft. wide. Around the edge of the
platform on top run 48 square plain gold pilasters, 12 on each side, 2
ft. high, tapering upwards, and topped by a knob of solid gold, pierced
with a hole through which passes a lax inch-and-a-half silver chain,
hung with little silver balls which strike together in the breeze. The
mansion consists of an outer court, facing east toward the sea, and the
house proper, which encloses an inner court. The outer court is a hollow
oblong 32 ft. wide by 8 ft. long, the summit of its three walls being
battlemented; they are 18-1/2 ft. in height, or 8-1/2 ft. lower than the
house; around their gold sides, on inside and outside, 3 ft. from the
top, runs a plain flat band of silver, 1 ft. wide, projecting 2/3 in.,
and at the gate, which is a plain Egyptian entrance, facing eastwards,
2-1/2 ft. narrower at top than at bottom, stand the two great square
pillars of massive plain gold, tapering upwards, 45 ft. high, with their
capital of band, closed lotus, and thin plinth; in the outer court,
immediately opposite the gate, is an oblong well, 12 ft. by 3 ft,
reproducing in little the shape of the court, its sides, which are
gold-lined, tapering downward to near the bottom of the platform, where
a conduit of 1/8 in. diameter automatically replenishes the ascertained
mean evaporation of the lake during the year, the well containing
105,360 litres when nearly full, and the lake occupying a circle round
the platform of 980 ft. diameter, with a depth of 3-1/2 ft. Round the
well run pilasters connected by silver chains with little balls, and it
communicates by a 1/8 in. conduit with a pool of wine let into the inner
court, this being fed from eight tall and narrow golden tanks, tapering
upwards, which surround it, each containing a different red wine,
sufficient on the whole to last for all purposes during my lifetime. The
ground of the outer court is also a mosaic of jet and gold: but
thenceforth the jet-squares give place throughout to squares of silver,
and the gold-squares to squares of clear amber, clear as solidified oil.
The entrance is by an Egyptian doorway 7 ft. high, with folding-doors of
gold-plated cedar, opening inwards, surrounded by a very large
projecting coping of plain silver, 3-1/2 ft. wide, severe simplicity of
line throughout enormously multiplying the effect of richness of
material. The interior resembles, I believe, rather a Homeric, than an
Assyrian or Egyptian house--except for the 'galleries,' which are purely
Babylonish and Old Hebrew. The inner court, with its wine-pool and
tanks, is a small oblong of 8 ft. by 9 ft., upon which open four
silver-latticed window-oblongs in the same proportion, and two doors,
before and behind, oblongs in the same proportion. Round this run the
eight walls of the house proper, the inner 10 ft. from the outer, each
parallel two forming a single long corridor-like chamber, except the
front (east) two, which are divided into three apartments; in each side
of the house are six panels of massive plain silver, half-an-inch
thinner in their central space, where are affixed paintings, 22 or else
21 taken at the burning of Paris from a place called 'The Louvre,' and 2
or else 3 from a place in England: so that the panels have the look of
frames, and are surrounded by oval garlands of the palest amethyst,
topaz, sapphire, and turquoise which I could find, each garland being of
only one kind of stone, a mere oval ring two feet wide at the sides and
narrowing to an inch at the top and bottom, without designs. The
galleries are five separate recesses in the outer walls under the roofs,
two in the east facade, and one in the north, south, and west, hung with
pavilions of purple, blue, rose and white silk on rings and rods of
gold, with gold pilasters and banisters, each entered by four steps from
the roof, to which lead, north and south, two spiral stairs of cedar. On
the east roof stands the kiosk, under which is the little lunar
telescope; and from that height, and from the galleries, I can watch
under the bright moonlight of this climate, which is very like
lime-light, the for-ever silent blue hills of Macedonia, and where the
islands of Samothraki, Lemnos, Tenedos slumber like purplish fairies on
the Aegean Sea: for, usually, I sleep during the day, and keep a
night-long vigil, often at midnight descending to bathe my coloured
baths in the lake, and to disport myself in that strange intoxication of
nostrils, eyes, and pores, dreaming long wide-eyed dreams at the bottom,
to return dazed, and weak, and drunken. Or again--_twice_ within these
last void and idle six months--I have suddenly run, bawling out, from
this temple of luxury, tearing off my gaudy rags, to hide in a hut by
the shore, smitten for one intense moment with realisation of the past
of this earth, and moaning: 'alone, alone ... all alone, alone, alone
... alone, alone....' For events precisely resembling eruptions take
place in my brain; and one spangled midnight--ah, how spangled!--I may
kneel on the roof with streaming, uplifted face, with outspread arms,
and awe-struck heart, adoring the Eternal: the next, I may strut like a
cock, wanton as sin, lusting to burn a city, to wallow in filth, and,
like the Babylonian maniac, calling myself the equal of Heaven.

* * * * *

But it was not to write of this--of all this--!

Of the furnishing of the palace I have written nothing.... But why I
hesitate to admit to myself what I _know_, is not clear. If They speak
to me, I may surely write of Them: for I do not fear Them, but am Their

Of the island I have written nothing: its size, climate, form,
vegetation.... There are two winds: a north and a south wind; the north
is cool, and the south is warm; and the south blows during the winter
months, so that sometimes on Christmas-day it is quite hot; and the
north, which is cool, blows from May to September, so that the summer is
hardly ever oppressive, and the climate was made for a king. The
mangal-stove in the south hall I have never once lit.

The length, I should say, is 19 miles; the breadth 10, or thereabouts;
and the highest mountains should reach a height of some 2,000 ft.,
though I have not been all over it. It is very densely wooded in most
parts, and I have seen large growths of wheat and barley, obviously
degenerate now, with currants, figs, valonia, tobacco, vines in rank
abundance, and two marble quarries. From the palace, which lies on a
sunny plateau of beautifully-sloping swards, dotted with the circular
shadows thrown by fifteen huge cedars, and seven planes, I can see on
all sides an edge of forest, with the gleam of a lake to the north, and
in the hollow to the east the rivulet with its little bridge, and a few
clumps and beds of flowers. I can also spy right through----

* * * * *

It shall be written now:

I have this day heard within me the contention of the Voices.

* * * * *

I thought that they were done with me! That all, all, all, was ended! I
have not heard them for twenty years!

But to-day--distinctly--breaking in with brawling impassioned
suddenness upon my consciousness.... I heard.

This late _far niente_ and vacuous inaction here have been undermining
my spirit; this inert brooding upon the earth; this empty life, and
bursting brain! Immediately after eating at noon to-day, I said to

'I have been duped by the palace: for I have wasted myself in building,
hoping for peace, and there is no peace. Therefore now I shall fly from
it, to another, sweeter work--not of building, but of destroying--not of
Heaven, but of Hell--not of self-denial, but of reddest orgy.
Constantinople--beware!' I tossed the chair aside, and with a stamp was
on my feet: and as I stood--again, again--I heard: the startlingly
sudden wrangle, the fierce, vulgar outbreak and voluble controversy,
till my consciousness could not hear its ears: and one urged: 'Go! go!'
and the other: 'Not there...! where you like, ... but not there...! for
your life!'

I did not--for I could not--go: I was so overcome. I fell upon the couch

These Voices, or impulses, plainly as I felt them of old, quarrel within
me now with an openness new to them. Lately, influenced by my long
scientific habit of thought, I have occasionally wondered whether what I
used to call 'the two Voices' were not in reality two strong
instinctive movements, such as most men may have felt, though with less
force. But to-day doubt is past, doubt is past: nor, unless I be very
mad, can I ever doubt again.

* * * * *

I have been thinking, thinking of my life: there is a something which I
cannot understand.

There was a man whom I met once in that dark backward and abysm of time,
when I must have been very young--I fancy at some college or school in
England, and his name now is far enough beyond scope of my memory, lost
in the vast limbo of past things. But he used to talk continually about
certain 'Black' and 'White' Powers, and of their strife for this world.
He was a short man with a Roman nose, and lived in fear of growing a
paunch. His forehead a-top, in profile, was more prominent than the
nose-end, he parted his hair in the middle, and had the theory that the
male form was more beautiful than the female. I forget what his name
was--the dim clear-obscure being. Very profound was the effect of his
words upon me, though, I think, I used to make a point of slighting
them. This man always declared that 'the Black' would carry off the
victory in the end: and so he has, so he has.

But assuming the existence of this 'Black' and this 'White' being--and
supposing it to be a fact that my reaching the Pole had any connection
with the destruction of my race, according to the notions of that
extraordinary Scotch parson--then it must have been the power of '_the
Black_' which carried me, in spite of all obstacles, to the Pole. So far
I can understand.

But _after_ I had reached the Pole, what further use had either White or
Black for me? Which was it--White or Black--that preserved my life
through my long return on the ice--and _why_? It _could_ not have been
'the Black'! For I readily divine that from the moment when I touched
the Pole, the only desire of the Black, which had previously preserved,
must have been to destroy me, with the rest. It must have been 'the
White,' then, that led me back, retarding me long, so that I should not
enter the poison-cloud, and then openly presenting me the _Boreal_ to
bring me home to Europe. But his motive? And the significance of these
recommencing wrangles, after such a silence? This I do not understand!

Curse Them, curse Them, with their mad tangles! I care nothing for Them!
Are there any White Idiots and Black Idiots--_at all_? Or are these
Voices that I hear nothing but the cries of my own strained nerves, and
I all mad and morbid, morbid and mad, mad, my good God?

This inertia here is _not good_ for me! This stalking about the palace!
and long thinkings about Earth and Heaven, Black and White, White and
Black, and things beyond the stars! My brain is like bursting through
the walls of my poor head.

To-morrow, then, to Constantinople.

* * * * *

Descending to go to the ship, I had almost reached the middle of the
east platform-steps, when my foot slipped on the smooth gold: and the
fall, though I was not walking carelessly, had, I swear, all the
violence of a fall caused by a push. I struck my head, and, as I rolled
downward, swooned. When I came to myself, I was lying on the very bottom
step, which is thinly washed by the wine-waves: another roll and I
suppose I must have drowned. I sat there an hour, lost in amazement,
then crossed the causeway, came down to the _Speransa_ with the motor,
went through her, spent the day in work, slept on her, worked again
to-day, till four, at both ship and time-fuses (I with only 700 fuses
left, and in Stamboul alone must be 8,000 houses, without counting
Galata, Tophana, Kassim-pacha, Scutari, and the rest), started out at
5.30, and am now at 11 P.M. lying motionless two miles off the north
coast of the island of Marmora, with moonlight gloating on the water, a
faint north breeze, and the little pale land looking immensely
stretched-out, solemn and great, as if that were the world, and there
were nothing else; and the tiny island at its end immense, and the
_Speranza_ vast, and I only little. To-morrow at 11 A.M. I will moor the
_Speranza_ in the Golden Horn at the spot where there is that low damp
nook of the bagnio behind the naval magazines and that hill where the
palace of the Capitan Pacha is.

* * * * *

I found that great tangle of ships in the Golden Horn wonderfully
preserved, many with hardly any moss-growths. This must be due, I
suppose, to the little Ali-Bey and Kezat-Hanah, which flow into the Horn
at the top, and made no doubt a constant current.

Ah, I remember the place: long ago I lived here some months, or, it may
be, years. It is the fairest of cities--and the greatest. I believe that
London in England was larger: but no city, surely, ever _seemed_ so
large. But it is flimsy, and will burn like tinder. The houses are made
of light timber, with interstices filled by earth and bricks, and some
of them look ruinous already, with their lovely faded tints of green
and gold and red and blue and yellow, like the hues of withered flowers:
for it is a city of paints and trees, and all in the little winding
streets, as I write, are volatile almond-blossoms, mixed with
maple-blossoms, white with purple. Even the most splendid of the
Sultan's palaces are built in this combustible way: for I believe that
they had a notion that stone-building was presumptuous, though I have
seen some very thick stone-houses in Galata. This place, I remember,
lived in a constant state of sensation on account of nightly flares-up;
and I have come across several tracts already devastated by fires. The
ministers-of-state used to attend them, and if the fire would not go
out, the Sultan himself was obliged to be there, in order to encourage
the firemen. Now it will burn still better.

But I have been here six weeks, and still no burning: for the place
seems to plead with me, it is so ravishing, so that I do not know why I
did not live here, and spare my toils during those sixteen nightmare
years; for two whole weeks the impulse to burn was quieted; and since
then there has been an irritating whisper at my ear which said: 'It is
not really like the great King that you are, this burning, but like a
foolish child, or a savage, who liked to see fireworks: or at least, if
you must burn, do not burn poor Constantinople, which is so charming,
and so very old, with its balsamic perfumes, and the blossomy trees of
white and light-purple peeping over the walls of the cloistered painted
houses, and all those lichened tombs--those granite menhirs and regions
of ancient marble tombs between the quarters, Greek tombs, Byzantine,
Jew, Mussulman tombs, with their strange and sacred
inscriptions--overwaved by their cypresses and vast plane-trees.' And
for weeks I would do nothing: but roamed about, with two minds in me,
under the tropic brilliance of the sky by day, and the vast dreamy
nights of this place that are like nights seen through azure-tinted
glasses, and in each of them is not one night, but the thousand-and-one
long crowded nights of glamour and fancy: for I would sit on the immense
esplanade of the Seraskierat, or the mighty grey stones of the porch of
the mosque of Sultan Mehmed-fatih, dominating from its great steps all
old Stamboul, and watch the moon for hours and hours, so passionately
bright she soared through clear and cloud, till I would be smitten with
doubt of my own identity, for whether I were she, or the earth, or
myself, or some other thing or man, I did not know, all being so silent
alike, and all, except myself, so vast, the Seraskierat, and the
Suleimanieh, and Stamboul, and the Marmora Sea, and the earth, and
those argent fields of the moon, all large alike compared with me, and
measure and space were lost, and I with them.

* * * * *

These proud Turks died stolidly, many of them. In streets of
Kassim-pacha, in crowded Taxim on the heights of Pera, and under the
long Moorish arcades of Sultan-Selim, I have seen the open-air barber's
razor with his bones, and with him the half-shaved skull of the
faithful, and the long two-hours' narghile with traces of burnt tembaki
and haschish still in the bowl. Ashes now are they all, and dry yellow
bone; but in the houses of Phanar and noisy old Galata, and in the Jew
quarter of Pri-pacha, the black shoe and head-dress of the Greek is
still distinguishable from the Hebrew blue. It was a mixed ritual of
colours here in boot and hat: yellow for Mussulman, red boots, black
calpac for Armenian, for the Effendi a white turban, for the Greek a
black. The Tartar skull shines from under a high taper calpac, the
Nizain-djid's from a melon-shaped head-piece; the Imam's and Dervish's
from a grey conical felt; and there is here and there a Frank in
European rags. I have seen the towering turban of the Bashi-bazouk, and
his long sword, and some softas in the domes on the great wall of
Stamboul, and the beggar, and the street-merchant with large tray of
water-melons, sweetmeats, raisins, sherbet, and the bear-shewer, and the
Barbary organ, and the night-watchman who evermore cried 'Fire!' with
his long lantern, two pistols, dirk, and wooden javelin. Strange how all
that old life has come back to my fancy now, pretty vividly, and for the
first time, though I have been here several times lately. I have gone
out to those plains beyond the walls with their view of rather barren
mountain-peaks, the city looking nothing but minarets shooting through
black cypress-tops, and I seemed to see the wild muezzin at some summit,
crying the midday prayer: '_Mohammed Resoul Allah!_'--the wild man; and
from that great avenue of cypresses which traverses the cemetery of
Scutari, the walled city of Stamboul lay spread entire up to Phanar and
Eyoub in their cypress-woods before me, the whole embowered now in
trees, all that complexity of ways and dark alleys with overhanging
balconies of old Byzantine houses, beneath which a rider had to stoop
the head, where old Turks would lose their way in mazes of the
picturesque; and on the shaded Bosphorus coast, to Foundoucli and
beyond, some peeping yali, snow-white palace, or old Armenian cot; and
the Seraglio by the sea, a town within a town; and southward the Sea of
Marmora, blue-and-white, and vast, and fresh as a sea just born,
rejoicing at its birth and at the jovial sun, all brisk, alert, to the
shadowy islands afar: and as I looked, I suddenly said aloud a wild, mad
thing, my God, a wild and maniac thing, a shrieking maniac thing for
Hell to laugh at: for something said with my tongue: '_This city is not
quite dead._'

* * * * *

* * * * *

Three nights I slept in Stamboul itself at the palace of some sanjak-bey
or emir, or rather dozed, with one slumbrous eye that would open to
watch my visitors Sinbad, and Ali Baba, and old Haroun, to see how they
slumbered and dozed: for it was in the small luxurious chamber where the
bey received those speechless all-night visits of the Turks, long rosy
hours of perfumed romance, and drunkenness of the fancy, and visionary
languor, sinking toward morning into the yet deeper peace of dreamless
sleep; and there, still, were the white _yatags_ for the guests to sit
cross-legged on for the waking dream, and to fall upon for the final
swoon, and the copper brazier still scenting of essence-of-rose, and the
cushions, rugs, hangings, the monsters on the wall, the
haschish-chibouques, narghiles, hookahs, and drugged pale cigarettes,
and a secret-looking lattice beyond the door, painted with trees and
birds; and the air narcotic and grey with the pastilles which I had
burned, and the scented smokes which I had smoked; and I all drugged and
mumbling, my left eye suspicious of Ali there, and Sinbad, and old
Haroun, who dozed. And when I had slept, and rose to wash in a room near
the overhanging latticed balcony of the facade, before me to the north
lay old Galata in sunshine, and that steep large street mounting to
Pera, once full at every night-fall of divans on which grave dervishes
smoked narghiles, and there was no space for passage, for all was
divans, lounges, almond-trees, heaven-high hum, chibouques in forests,
the dervish, and the innumerable porter, the horse-hirer with his horse
from Tophana, and arsenal-men from Kassim, and traders from Galata, and
artillery-workmen from Tophana; and on the other side of the house, the
south end, a covered bridge led across a street, which consisted mostly
of two immense blind walls, into a great tangled wilderness of flowers,
which was the harem-garden, where I passed some hours; and here I might
have remained many days, many weeks perhaps, but that, dozing one
fore-day with those fancied others, it was as if there occurred a laugh
somewhere, and a thing said: 'But this city is not quite dead!' waking
me from deeps of peace to startled wakefulness. And I thought to myself:
'If it be not quite dead, it _will_ be soon--and with some suddenness!'
And the next morning I was at the Arsenal.

* * * * *

It is long since I have so deeply enjoyed, even to the marrow. It may be
'the White' who has the guardianship of my life: but assuredly it is
'the Black' who reigns in my soul.

Grandly did old Stamboul, Galata, Tophana, Kassim, right out beyond the
walls to Phanar and Eyoub, blaze and burn. The whole place, except one
little region of Galata, was like so much tinder, and in the five hours
between 8 P.M. and 1 A.M. all was over. I saw the tops of those vast
masses of cemetery-cypresses round the tombs of the Osmanlis outside the
walls, and those in the cemetery of Kassim, and those round the sacred
mosque of Eyoub, shrivel away instantaneously, like flimsy hair caught
by a flame; I saw the Genoese tower of Galata go heading obliquely on an
upward curve, like Sir Roger de Coverley and wild rockets, and burst
high, high, with a report; in pairs, and threes, and fours, I saw the
blue cupolas of the twelve or fourteen great mosques give in and
subside, or soar and rain, and the great minarets nod the head, and
topple; and I saw the flames reach out and out across the empty breadth
of the Etmeidan--three hundred yards--to the six minarets of the Mosque
of Achmet, wrapping the red Egyptian-granite obelisk in the centre; and
across the breadth of the Serai-Meidani it reached to the buildings of
the Seraglio and the Sublime Porte; and across those vague barren
stretches that lie between the houses and the great wall; and across the
seventy or eighty great arcaded bazaars, all-enwrapping, it reached; and
the spirit of fire grew upon me: for the Golden Horn itself was a tongue
of fire, crowded, west of the galley-harbour, with exploding
battleships, Turkish frigates, corvettes, brigs--and east, with tens of
thousands of feluccas, caiques, gondolas and merchantmen aflame. On my
left burned all Scutari; and between six and eight in the evening I had
sent out thirty-seven vessels under low horse-powers of air, with trains
and fuses laid for 11 P.M., to light with their wandering fires the Sea
of Marmora. By midnight I was encompassed in one great furnace and fiery
gulf, all the sea and sky inflamed, and earth a-flare. Not far from me
to the left I saw the vast Tophana barracks of the Cannoniers, and the
Artillery-works, after long reluctance and delay, take wing together;
and three minutes later, down by the water, the barrack of the
Bombardiers and the Military School together, grandly, grandly; and
then, to the right, in the valley of Kassim, the Arsenal: these
occupying the sky like smoky suns, and shedding a glaring day over many
a mile of sea and land; I saw the two lines of ruddier flaring where the
barge-bridge and the raft-bridge over the Golden Horn made haste to
burn; and all that vastness burned with haste, quicker and quicker--to
fervour--to fury--to unanimous rabies: and when its red roaring stormed
the infinite, and the might of its glowing heart was Gravitation, Being,
Sensation, and I its compliant wife--then my head nodded, and with
crooked lips I sighed as it were my last sigh, and tumbled, weak and
drunken, upon my face.

* * * * *

* * * * *

O wild Providence! Unfathomable madness of Heaven! that ever I should
write what now I write! I will not write it....

* * * * *

The hissing of it! It is only a crazy dream! a tearing-out of the hair
by the roots to scatter upon the raving storms of Saturn! My hand will
not write it!

* * * * *

In God's name----! During four nights after the burning I slept in a
house--French as I saw by the books, &c., probably the Ambassador's, for
it has very large gardens and a beautiful view over the sea, situated on
the rapid east declivity of Pera; it is one of the few large houses
which, for my safety, I had left standing round the minaret whence I had
watched, this minaret being at the top of the old Mussulman quarter on
the heights of Taxim, between Pera proper and Foundoucli. At the bottom,
both at the quay of Foundoucli, and at that of Tophana, I had left under
shelter two caiques for double safety, one a Sultan's gilt craft, with
gold spur at the prow, and one a boat of those zaptias that used to
patrol the Golden Horn as water-police: by one or other of these I meant
to reach the _Speranza_, she being then safely anchored some distance up
the Bosphorus coast. So, on the fifth morning I set out for the Tophana
quay; but a light rain had fallen over-night, and this had re-excited
the thin grey smoke resembling quenched steam, which, as from some
reeking province of Abaddon, still trickled upward over many a square
mile of blackened tract, though of flame I could see no sign. I had not
accordingly advanced far over every sort of _debris_, when I found my
eyes watering, my throat choked, and my way almost blocked by roughness:
whereupon I said: 'I will turn back, cross the region of tombs and
barren waste behind Pera, descend the hill, get the zaptia boat at the
Foundoucli quay, and so reach the _Speranza_.'

Accordingly, I made my way out of the region of smoke, passed beyond the
limits of smouldering ruin and tomb, and soon entered a rich woodland,
somewhat scorched at first, but soon green and flourishing as the
jungle. This cooled and soothed me, and being in no hurry to reach the
ship, I was led on and on, in a somewhat north-western direction, I
fancy. Somewhere hereabouts, I thought, was the place they called 'The
Sweet Waters,' and I went on with the vague notion of coming upon them,
thinking to pass the day, till afternoon, in the forest. Here nature, in
only twenty years has returned to an exuberant savagery, and all was now
the wildest vegetation, dark dells, rills wimpling through deep-brown
shade of sensitive mimosa, large pendulous fuchsia, palm, cypress,
mulberry, jonquil, narcissus, daffodil, rhododendron, acacia, fig. Once
I stumbled upon a cemetery of old gilt tombs, absolutely overgrown and
lost, and thrice caught glimpses of little trellised yalis choked in
boscage. With slow and listless foot I went, munching an almond or an
olive, though I could swear that olives were not formerly indigenous to
any soil so northern: yet here they are now, pretty plentiful, though
elementary, so that modifications whose end I cannot see are certainly
proceeding in everything, some of the cypresses which I met that day
being immense beyond anything I ever heard of: and the thought, I
remember, was in my head, that if a twig or leaf should change into a
bird, or a fish with wings, and fly before my eyes, what then should I
do? and I would eye a branch suspiciously anon. After a long time I
penetrated into a very sombre grove. The day outside the wood was
brilliant and hot, and very still, the leaves and flowers here all
motionless. I seemed, as it were, to hear the vacant silence of the
world, and my foot treading on a twig, produced the report of pistols. I
presently reached a glade in a thicket, about eight yards across, that
had a scent of lime and orange, where the just-sufficient twilight
enabled me to see some old bones, three skulls, and the edge of a
tam-tam peeping from a tuft of wild corn with corn-flowers, and here and
there some golden champac, and all about a profusion of musk-roses. I
had stopped--_why_ I do not recollect--perhaps thinking that if I was
not getting to the Sweet Waters, I should seriously set about finding my
way out. And as I stood looking about me, I remember that some cruising
insect trawled near my ear its lonely drone.

Suddenly, God knows, I started, I started.

I imagined--I dreamed--that I saw a pressure in a bed of moss and
violets, _recently made!_ And while I stood gloating upon that
impossible thing, I imagined--I dreamed--the lunacy of it!--that I heard
a laugh...! the laugh, my good God, of a human soul.

Or it seemed half a laugh, and half a sob: and it passed from me in one
fleeting instant.

Laughs, and sobs, and idiot hallucinations, I had often heard before,
feet walking, sounds behind me: and even as I had heard them, I had
known that they were nothing. But brief as was this impression, it was
yet so thrillingly _real_, that my poor heart received, as it were, the
very shock of death, and I fell backward into a mass of moss, supported
on the right palm, while the left pressed my working bosom; and there,
toiling to catch my breath, I lay still, all my soul focussed into my
ears. But now I could hear no sound, save only the vast and audible hum
of the silence of the universe.

There was, however, the foot-print. If my eye and ear should so
conspire against me, that, I thought, was hard.

Still I lay, still, in that same pose, without a stir, sick and
dry-mouthed, infirm and languishing, with dying breaths: but keen,
keen--and malign.

I would wait, I said to myself, I would be artful as snakes, though so
woefully sick and invalid: I would make no sound....

After some minutes I became conscious that my eyes were leering--leering
in one fixed direction: and instantly, the mere fact that I had a sense
of direction proved to me that I must, _in truth_, have heard something!
I strove--I managed--to raise myself: and as I stood upright, feebly
swaying there, not the terrors of death alone were in my breast, but the
authority of the monarch was on my brow.

I moved: I found the strength.

Slow step by slow step, with daintiest noiselessness, I moved to a
thread of moss that from the glade passed into the thicket, and along
its winding way I stepped, in the direction of the sound. Now my ears
caught the purling noise of a brooklet, and following the moss-path, I
was led into a mass of bush only two or three feet higher than my head.
Through this, prowling like a stealthy cat, I wheedled my painful way,
emerged upon a strip of open long-grass, and now was faced, three yards
before me, by a wall of acacia-trees, prickly-pear and pichulas, between
which and a forest beyond I spied a gleam of running water.

On hands and knees I crept toward the acacia-thicket, entered it a
little, and leaning far forward, peered. And there--at once--ten yards
to my right--I saw.

Singular to say, my agitation, instead of intensifying to the point of
apoplexy and death, now, at the actual sight, subsided to something very
like calmness. With malign and sullen eye askance I stood, and steadily
I watched her there.

* * * * *

She was on her knees, her palms lightly touching the ground, supporting
her. At the edge of the streamlet she knelt, and she was looking with a
species of startled shy astonishment at the reflexion of her face in the
limpid brown water. And I, with sullen eye askance regarded her a good
ten minutes' space.

* * * * *

I believe that her momentary laugh and sob, which I had heard, was the
result of surprise at seeing her own image; and I firmly believe, from
the expression of her face, that this was the first time that she had
seen it.

* * * * *

Never, I thought, as I stood moodily gazing, had I seen on the earth a
creature so fair (though, analysing now at leisure, I can quite conclude
that there was nothing at all remarkable about her good looks). Her
hair, somewhat lighter than auburn, and frizzy, was a real garment to
her nakedness, covering her below the hips, some strings of it falling,
too, into the water: her eyes, a dark blue, were wide in a most silly
expression of bewilderment. Even as I eyed and eyed her, she slowly
rose: and at once I saw in all her manner an air of unfamiliarity with
the world, as of one wholly at a loss what to do. Her pupils did not
seem accustomed to light; and I could swear that that was the first day
in which she had seen a tree or a stream.

Her age appeared eighteen or twenty. I guessed that she was of
Circassian blood, or, at least, origin. Her skin was whitey-brown, or
old ivory-white.

* * * * *

She stood up motionless, at a loss. She took a lock of her hair, and
drew it through her lips. There was some look in her eyes, which I
could plainly see now, somehow indicating wild hunger, though the wood
was full of food. After letting go her hair, she stood again feckless
and imbecile, with sideward-hung head, very pitiable to see I think now,
though no faintest pity touched me then. It was clear that she did not
at all know what to make of the look of things. Finally, she sat on a
moss-bank, reached and took a musk-rose on her palm, and looked
hopelessly at it.

* * * * *

One minute after my first actual sight of her my extravagance of
agitation, I say, died down to something like calm. The earth was mine
by old right: I felt that: and this creature a mere slave upon whom,
without heat or haste, I might perform my will: and for some time I
stood, coolly enough considering what that will should be.

I had at my girdle the little cangiar, with silver handle encrusted with
coral, and curved blade six inches long, damascened in gold, and sharp
as a razor; the blackest and the basest of all the devils of the Pit was
whispering in my breast with calm persistence: 'Kill, kill--and eat.'

_Why_ I should have killed her I do not know. That question I now ask
myself. It must be true, true that it is '_not good_' for man to be
alone. There was a religious sect in the Past which called itself
'Socialist': and with these must have been the truth, man being at his
best and highest when most social, and at his worst and lowest when
isolated: for the Earth gets hold of all isolation, and draws it, and
makes it fierce, base, and materialistic, like sultans, aristocracies,
and the like: but Heaven is where two or three are gathered together. It
may be so: I do not know, nor care. But I know that after twenty years
of solitude on a planet the human soul is more enamoured of solitude
than of life, shrinking like a tender nerve from the rough intrusion of
Another into the secret realm of Self: and hence, perhaps, the
bitterness with which solitary castes, Brahmins, patricians,
aristocracies, always resisted any attempt to invade their
slowly-acquired domain of privileges. Also, it may be true, it may, it
may, that after twenty years of solitary selfishness, a man becomes,
without suspecting it--not at all noticing the slow stages--a real and
true beast, a horrible, hideous beast, mad, prowling, like that King of
Babylon, his nails like birds' claws, and his hair like eagles'
feathers, with instincts all inflamed and fierce, delighting in
darkness and crime for their own sake. I do not know, nor care: but I
know that, as I drew the cangiar, the basest and the slyest of all the
devils was whispering me, tongue in cheek: 'Kill, kill--and be merry.'

With excruciating slowness, like a crawling glacier, tender as a nerve
of the touching leaves, I moved, I stole, obliquely toward her through
the wall of bush, the knife behind my back. Once only there was a
restraint, a check: I felt myself held back: I had to stop: for one of
the ends of my divided beard had caught in a limb of prickly-pear.

I set to disentangling it: and it was, I believe, at the moment of
succeeding that I first noticed the state of the sky, a strip of which I
could see across the rivulet: a minute or so before it had been pretty
clear, but now was busy with hurrying clouds. It was a sinister
muttering of thunder which had made me glance upward.

When my eyes returned to the sitting figure, she was looking foolishly
about the sky with an expression which almost proved that she had never
before heard that sound of thunder, or at least had no idea what it
could bode. My fixed regard lost not one of her movements, while inch by
inch, not breathing, careful as the poise of a balance, I crawled. And
suddenly, with a rush, I was out in the open, running her down....

She leapt: perhaps two, perhaps three, paces she fled: then stock still
she stood--within some four yards of me--with panting nostrils, with
enquiring face.

I saw it all in one instant, and in one instant all was over. I had not
checked the impetus of my run at her stoppage, and I was on the point of
reaching her with uplifted knife, when I was suddenly checked and
smitten by a stupendous violence: a flash of blinding light, attracted
by the steel which I held, struck tingling through my frame, and at the
same time the most passionate crash of thunder that ever shocked a poor
human ear felled me to the ground. The cangiar, snatched from my hand,
fell near the girl's foot.

I did not entirely lose consciousness, though, surely, the Powers no
longer hide themselves from me, and their close contact is too
intolerably rough and vigorous for a poor mortal man. During, I should
think, three or four minutes, I lay so astounded under that bullying cry
of wrath, that I could not move a finger. When at last I did sit up, the
girl was standing near me, with a sort of smile, holding out to me the
cangiar in a pouring rain.

I took it from her, and my doddering fingers dropped it into the

* * * * *

Pour, pour came the rain, raining as it can in this place, not long, but
a deluge while it lasts, dripping in thick-liquidity, like a profuse
sweat, through the forest, I seeking to get back by the way I had come,
flying, but with difficulty and slowness, and a feeling in me that I was
being tracked. And so it proved: for when I struck into more open space,
nearly opposite the west walls, but now on the north side of the Golden
Horn, where there is a flat grassy ground somewhere between the valley
of Kassim and Charkoi, with horror I saw that _protegee_ of Heaven, or
of someone, not ten yards behind, following me like a mechanical figure,
it being now near three in the afternoon, and the rain drenching me
through, and I tired and hungry, and from all the ruins of
Constantinople not one whiff of smoke ascending.

I trudged on wearily till I came to the quay of Foundoucli, and the
zaptia boat; and there she was with me still, her hair nothing but a
thin drowned string down her back.

* * * * *

Not only can she not speak to me in any language that I know: but she
can speak in _no_ language: it is my firm belief that she has _never_

She never saw a boat, or water, or the world, till now--I could swear
it. She came into the boat with me, and sat astern, clinging for dear
life to the gunwale by her finger-nails, and I paddled the eight hundred
yards to the _Speranza_, and she came up to the deck after me. When she
saw the open water, the boat, the yalis on the coast, and then the ship,
astonishment was imprinted on her face. But she appears to know little
fear. She smiled like a child, and on the ship touched this and that, as
if each were a living thing.

It was only here and there that one could see the ivory-brown colour of
her skin: the rest was covered with dirt, like old bottles long lying in

By the time we reached the _Speranza_, the rain suddenly stopped: I went
down to my cabin to change my clothes, and had to shut the door in her
face to keep her out. When I opened it, she was there, and she followed
me to the windlass, when I went to set the anchor-engine going. I
intended, I suppose, to take her to Imbros, where she might live in one
of the broken-down houses of the village. But when the anchor was not
yet half up, I stopped the engine, and let the chain run again. For I
said, 'No, I will be alone, I am not a child.'

I knew that she was hungry by the look in her eyes: but I cared nothing
for that. I was hungry, too: and that was all I cared about.

I would not let her be there with me another instant. I got down into
the boat, and when she followed, I rowed her back all the way past
Foundoucli and the Tophana quay to where one turns into the Golden Horn
by St. Sophia, around the mouth of the Horn being a vast semicircle of
charred wreckage, carried out by the river-currents. I went up the steps
on the Galata side before one comes to where the barge-bridge was. When
she had followed me on to the embankment, I walked up one of those
rising streets, very encumbered now with stone-_debris_ and ashes, but
still marked by some standing black wall-fragments, it being now not far
from night, but the air as clear and washed as the translucency of a
great purple diamond with the rain and the afterglow of the sun, and all
the west aflame.

When I was about a hundred yards up in this old mixed quarter of Greeks,
Turks, Jews, Italians, Albanians, and noise and cafedjis and
wine-bibbing, having turned two corners, I suddenly gathered my skirts,
spun round, and, as fast as I could, was off at a heavy trot back to
the quay. She was after me, but being taken by surprise, I suppose, was
distanced a little at first. However, by the time I could scurry myself
down into the boat, she was so near, that she only saved herself from
the water by a balancing stoppage at the brink, as I pushed off. I then
set out to get back to the ship, muttering: 'You can have Turkey, if you
like, and I will keep the rest of the world.'

I rowed sea-ward, my face toward her, but steadily averted, for I would
not look her way to see what she was doing. However, as I turned the
point of the quay, where the open sea washes quite rough and loud, to go
northward and disappear from her, I heard a babbling cry--the first
sound which she had uttered. I did look then: and she was still quite
near me, for the silly maniac had been running along the embankment,
following me.

'Little fool!' I cried out across the water, 'what are you after now?'
And, oh my good God, shall I ever forget that strangeness, that wild
strangeness, of my own voice, addressing on this earth another human

There she stood, whimpering like an abandoned dog after me. I turned the
boat, rowed, came to the first steps, landed, and struck her two
stinging slaps, one on each cheek. While she cowered, surprised no
doubt, I took her by the hand, led her back to the boat, landed on the
Stamboul side, and set off, still leading her, my object being to find
some sort of possible edifice near by, not hopelessly burned, in which
to leave her: for in all Galata there was plainly none, and Pera, I
thought, was too far to walk to. But it would have been better if I had
gone to Pera, for we had to walk quite three miles from Seraglio Point
all along the city battlements to the Seven-towers, she picking her
bare-footed way after me through the great Sahara of charred stuff, and
night now well arrived, and the moon a-drift in the heaven, making the
desolate lonesomeness of the ruins tenfold desolate, so that my heart
smote me then with bitterness and remorse, and I had a vision of myself
that night which I will not put down on paper. At last, however, pretty
late in the evening, I spied a large mansion with green lattice-work
facade, and shaknisier, and terrace-roof, which had been hidden from me
by the arcades of a bazaar, a vast open space at about the centre of
Stamboul, one of the largest of the bazaars, I should think, in the
middle of which stood the mansion, probably the home of pasha or vizier:
for it had a very distinguished look in that place. It seemed very
little hurt, though the vegetation that had apparently choked the great
open space was singed to a black fluff, among which lay thousands of
calcined bones of man, horse, ass, and camel, for all was distinct in
the bright, yet so pensive and forlorn, moonlight, which was that
Eastern moonlight of pure astral mystery which illumines Persepolis, and
Babylon, and ruined cities of the old Anakim.

The house, I knew, would contain divans, _yatags_, cushions, foods,
wines, sherbets, henna, saffron, mastic, raki, haschish, costumes, and a
hundred luxuries still good. There was an outer wall, but the foliage
over it had been singed away, and the gate all charred. It gave way at a
push from my palm. The girl was close behind me. I next threw open a
little green lattice-door in the facade under the shaknisier, and
entered. Here it was dark, and the moment that she, too, was within, I
slipped out quickly, slammed the door in her face, and hooked it upon
her by a little hook over the latch.

I now walked some yards beyond the court, then stopped, listening for
her expected cry: but all was still: five minutes--ten--I waited: but no
sound. I then continued my morose and melancholy way, hollow with
hunger, intending to start that night for Imbros.

But this time I had hardly advanced twenty steps, when I heard a frail
and strangled cry, apparently in mid-air behind me, and glancing, saw
the creature lying at the gateway, a white thing in black stubble-ashes.
She had evidently jumped, well outward, from a small casement of lattice
on a level with the little shaknisier grating, through which once peeped
bright eyes, thirty feet aloft.

I hardly believe that she was conscious of any danger in jumping, for
all the laws of life are new to her, and, having sought and found the
opening, she may have merely come with blind instinctiveness after me,
taking the first way open to her. I walked back, pulled at her arm, and
found that she could not stand. Her face was screwed with silent
pain--she did not moan. Her left foot, I could see, was bleeding: and by
the wounded ankle I took her, and dragged her so through the ashes
across the narrow court, and tossed her like a little dog with all my
force within the door, cursing her.

Now I would not go back the long way to the ship, but struck a match,
and went lighting up girandoles, cressets, candelabra, into a confusion
of lights among great numbers of pale-tinted pillars, rose and azure,
with verd-antique, olive, and Portoro marble, and serpentine. The
mansion was large, I having to traverse quite a desert of embroidered
brocade-hangings, slender columns, and Broussa silks, till I saw a
stair-case doorway behind a Smyrna _portiere_, went up, and wandered
some time in a house of gilt-barred windows, with very little furniture,
but palatial spaces, solitary huge pieces of _faience_ of inestimable
age, and arms, my footfalls quite stifled in the Persian carpeting. I
passed through a covered-in hanging-gallery, with one window-grating
overlooking an inner court, and by this entered the harem, which
declared itself by a greater luxury, bric-a-bracerie, and profusion of
manner. Here, descending a short curved stair behind a _portiere_, I
came into a marble-paved sort of larder, in which was an old negress in
blue dress, her hair still adhering, and an infinite supply of
sweetmeats, French preserved foods, sherbets, wines, and so on. I put a
number of things into a pannier, went up again, found some of those
exquisite pale cigarettes which drunken in the hollow of an emerald,
also a jewelled two-yard-long chibouque, and tembaki: and with all
descended by another stair, and laid them on the steps of a little
raised kiosk of green marble in a corner of the court; went up again,
and brought down a still-snowy _yatag_ to sleep on; and there, by the
kiosk-step, ate and passed the night, smoking for several hours in a
state of languor. In the centre of the court is a square marble well,
looking white through a rankness of wild vine, acacias in flower, weeds,
jasmines, and roses, which overgrew it, as well as the kiosk and the
whole court, climbing even the four-square arcade of Moorish arches
round the open space, under one of which I had deposited a long lantern
of crimson silk: for here no breath of the fire had come. About two in
morning I fell to sleep, a deeper peace of shadow now reigning where so
long the melancholy silver of the moon had lingered.

* * * * *

About eight in the morning I rose and made my way to the front,
intending that that should be my last night in this ruined place: for
all the night, sleeping and waking, the thing which had happened filled
my brain, growing from one depth of incredibility to a deeper, so that
at last I arrived at a sort of certainty that it could be nothing but a
drunken dream: but as I opened my eyes afresh, the deep-cutting
realisation of that impossibility smote like a pang of lightning-stroke
through my being: and I said: 'I will go again to the far Orient, and
forget': and I started out from the court, not knowing what had become
of her during the night, till, having reached the outer chamber, with a
wild start I saw her lying there at the door in the very spot where I
had flung her, asleep sideways, head on arm ... Softly, softly, I stept
over her, got out, and went running at a cautious clandestine trot. The
morning was in high _fete_, most fresh and pure, and to breathe was to
be young, and to see such a sunlight lighten even upon ruin so vast was
to be blithe. After running two hundred yards to one of the great broken
bazaar-portals, I looked back to see if I was followed: but all that
space was desolately empty. I then walked on past the arch, on which a
green oblong, once inscribed, as usual, with some text in gilt
hieroglyphs, is still discernible; and, emerging, saw the great panorama
of destruction, a few vast standing walls, with hollow Oriental windows
framing deep sky beyond, and here and there a pillar, or half-minaret,
and down within the walls of the old Seraglio still some leafless,
branchless trunks, and in Eyoub and Phanar leafless forests, and on the
northern horizon Pera with the steep upper-half of the Iani-Chircha
street still there, and on the height the European houses, and all
between blackness, stones, a rolling landscape of ravine, like the hilly
pack-ice of the North if its snow were ink, and to the right Scutari,
black, laid low, with its vast region of tombs, and rare stumps of its
forests, and the blithe blue sea, with the widening semicircle of
floating _debris_, looking like brown foul scum at some points,
congested before the bridgeless Golden Horn: for I stood pretty high in
the centre of Stamboul somewhere in the region of the Suleimanieh, or of
Sultan-Selim, as I judged, with immense purviews into abstract distances
and mirage. And to me it seemed too vast, too lonesome, and after
advancing a few hundred yards beyond the bazaar, I turned again.

* * * * *

I found the girl still asleep at the house-door, and stirring her with
my foot, woke her. She leapt up with a start of surprise, and a
remarkable sinuous agility, and gazed an astounded moment at me, till,
separating reality from dream and habit, she realised me: but
immediately subsided to the floor again, being in evident pain. I pulled
her up, and made her limp after me through several halls to the inner
court, and the well, where I set her upon the weedy margin, took her
foot in my lap, examined it, drew water, washed it, and bandaged it with
a strip torn from my caftan-hem, now and again speaking gruffly to her,
so that she might no more follow me.

After this, I had breakfast by the kiosk-steps, and when I was
finished, put a mass of truffled _foie gras_ on a plate, brushed through
the thicket to the well, and gave it her. She took it, but looked
foolish, not eating. I then, with my forefinger, put a little into her
mouth, whereupon she set hungrily to eat it all. I also gave her some
ginger-bread, a handful of bonbons, some Krishnu wine, and some

I then started out afresh, gruffly bidding her stay there, and left her
sitting on the well, her hair falling down the opening, she peering
after me through the bushes. But I had not half reached the ogival
bazaar-portal, when looking anxiously back, I saw that she was limping
after me. So that this creature tracks me in the manner of a nutshell
following about in the wake of a ship.

I turned back with her to the house, for it was necessary that I should
plan some further method of eluding her. That was five days ago, and
here I have stayed: for the house and court are sufficiently agreeable,
and form a museum of real _objets d'art_. It is settled, however, that
to-morrow I return to Imbros.

* * * * *

It seems certain that she never wore, saw, nor knew of, clothes.

I have dressed her, first sousing her thoroughly with sponge and soap
in luke-warm rose-water in the silver cistern of the harem-bath, which
is a circular marbled apartment with a fountain and the complicated
ceilings of these houses, and frescoes, and gilt texts of the Koran on
the walls, and pale rose-silk hangings. On the divan I had heaped a
number of selected garments, and having shewed her how to towel herself,
I made her step into a pair of the trousers called _shintiyan_ made of
yellow-striped white-silk; this, by a running string, I tied loosely
round the upper part of her hips; then, drawing up the bottoms to her
knees, tied them there, so that their voluminous baggy folds,
overhanging still to the ankles, have rather the look of a skirt; over
this I put upon her a blue-striped chiffon chemise, or quamis, reaching
a little below the hips; I then put on a short jacket or vest of scarlet
satin, thickly embroidered in gold and precious stones, reaching
somewhat below the waist, and pretty tight-fitting; and, making her lie
on the couch, I put upon her little feet little yellow baboosh-slippers,
then anklets, on her fingers rings, round her neck a necklace of
sequins, finally dyeing her nails, which I cut, with henna. There
remained her head, but with this I would have nothing to do, only
pointing to the tarboosh which I had brought, to a square kerchief, to
some corals, and to the fresco of a woman on the wall, which, if she
chose, she might copy. Lastly, I pierced her ears with the silver
needles which they used here: and after two hours of it left her.

About an hour afterwards I saw her in the arcade round the court, and,
to my great surprise, she had a perfect plait down her back, and over
her head and brows a green-silk feredjeh, or hood, precisely as in the

* * * * *

Here is a question, the answer to which would be interesting to me:
Whether or not for twenty years--or say rather twenty centuries, twenty
eternal aeons--I have been stark mad, a raving maniac; and whether or
not I am now suddenly sane, sitting here writing in my right mind, my
whole mood and tone changed, or rapidly changing? And whether such
change can be due to the presence of only one other being in the world
with me?

* * * * *

This singular being! Where she has lived--and how--is a problem to which
not the faintest solution is conceivable. She had, I say, never seen
clothes: for when I began to dress her, her perplexity was unbounded;
also, during her twenty years, she has never seen almonds, figs, nuts,
liqueurs, chocolate, conserves, vegetables, sugar, oil, honey,
sweetmeats, orange-sherbet, mastic, salt, raki, tobacco, and many such
things: for she showed perplexity at all these, hesitation to eat them:
but she has known and tasted _white wine_: I could see that. Here, then,
is a mystery.

* * * * *

I have not gone to Imbros, but remained here some days longer observing

I have allowed her to sit in a corner at meal-time, not far from where I
eat, and I have given her food.

She is wonderfully clever! I continually find that, after an incredibly
short time, she has most completely adapted herself to this or that.
Already she wears her outfit as coquettishly as though born to clothes.
Without at all seeming observant--for, on the contrary, she gives an
impression of great flightiness--she watches me, I am convinced, with
pretty exact observation. She knows precisely when I am speaking
roughly, bidding her go, bidding her come, tired of her, tolerant of
her, scorning her, cursing her. If I wish her to the devil, she quickly
divines it by my face, and will disappear. Yesterday I noticed
something queer about her, and soon discovered that she had been
staining her lids with black kohol, like the _hanums_, so that, having
found a box, she must have guessed its use from the pictures.
Wonderfully clever!--imitative as a mirror. Two mornings ago I found an
old mother-of-pearl kittur, and sitting under the arcade, touched the
strings, playing a simple air; I could just see her behind one of the
arch-pillars on the opposite side, and she was listening with apparent
eagerness, and, I fancied, panting. Well, returning from a walk beyond
the Phanar walls in the afternoon, I heard the same air coming out from
the house, for she was repeating it pretty faultlessly by ear.

Also, during the forenoon of the previous day, I came upon her--for
footsteps make no sound in this house--in the pacha's visitors'-hall:
and what was she doing?--copying the poses of three dancing-girls
frescoed there! So that she would seem to have a character as light as a
butterfly's, and is afraid of nothing.

* * * * *

Now I know.

I had observed that at the beginning of every meal she seemed to have
something on her mind, going toward the door, hesitating as if to see
whether I would follow, and then returning. At length yesterday, after
sitting to eat, she jumped up, and to my infinite surprise, said her
first word: said it with a most quaint, experimental effort of the
tongue, as a fledgling trying the air: the word '_Come_.'

That morning, meeting her in the court, I had told her to repeat some
words after me: but she had made no attempt, as if shy to break the long
silence of her life; and now I felt some sort of foolish pleasure in
hearing her utter that word, often no doubt heard from me: and after
hurriedly eating, I went with her, saying to myself: 'She must be about
to shew me the food to which she is accustomed: and perhaps that will
solve her origin.'

And so it has proved. I have now discovered that to the moment when she
saw me, she had tasted only her mother's milk, dates, and that white
wine of Ismidt which the Koran permits.

As it was getting dark, I lit and took with me the big red-silk lantern,
and we set out, she leading, and walking confoundedly fast, slackening
when I swore at her, and getting fast again: and she walks with a
certain levity, flightiness, and liberated _furore_, very hard to
describe, as though space were a luxury to be revelled in. By what
instinctive cleverness, or native vigour of memory, she found her way I
cannot tell, but she led me such a walk that night, miles, miles, till I
became furious, darkness having soon fallen with only a faint moon
obscured by cloud, and a drizzle which haunted the air, she without
light climbing and picking her thinly-slippered steps over mounds of
_debris_ and loosely-strewn masonry with unfailing agility, I
occasionally splashing a foot with horror into one of those little ponds
which always marked the Stamboul streets. When I was nearer her, I would
see her peer across and upward toward Pera, as if that were a remembered
land-mark, and would note the perpetual aspen oscillations of the long
coral drops in her ears, and the nimble ply of her limbs, wondering with
a groan if Pera was our goal.

Our goal was even beyond Pera. When we came to the Golden Horn, she
pointed to my caique which lay at the Old Seraglio steps, and over the
water we went, she lying quite at ease now, with her face at the level
of the water in the centre of the crescent-shape, as familiarly as a
_hanum_ of old engaged in some escapade through the crowded Babel of
Galata and that north side of the Horn.

Through Galata we passed, I already cursing the journey: and, following
the line of the coast and the great steep thoroughfare of Pera, we came
at last, almost in the country, to a great wall, and the entrance to an
immense terraced garden, whose limits were invisible, many of the trees
and avenues being still intact.

I knew it at once: I had lain a special fuse-train in the great palace
at the top of the terraces: it was the royal palace, Yildiz.

Up and up we went through the grounds, a few unburned old bodies in rags
of uniform still discernible here and there as the lantern swung past
them, a musician in sky-blue, a fantassin and officer-of-the-guard in
scarlet, forming a cross, with domestics of the palace in

The palace itself was quite in ruins, together with all its surrounding
barracks, mosque, and seraglio, and, as we reached the top of the
grounds, presented a picture very like those which I have seen of the
ruins of Persepolis, only that here the columns, both standing and
fallen, were innumerable, and all more or less blackened; and through
doorless doors we passed, down immensely-wide short flights of steps,
and up them, and over strewed courtyards, by tottering fragments of
arcades, all roofless, and tracts of charcoal between interrupted
avenues of pillars, I following, expectant, and she very eager now.
Finally, down a flight of twelve or fourteen rather steep and narrow
steps, very dislocated, we went to a level which, I thought, must be the
floor of the palace vaults: for at the bottom of the steps we stood on a
large plain floor of plaster, which bore the marks of the flames; and
over this the girl ran a few steps, pointed with excited recognition to
a hole in it, ran further, and disappeared down the hole.

When I followed, and lowered the lantern a little, I saw that the drop
down was about eight feet, made less than six feet by a heap of
stone-rubbish below, the falling of which had caused the hole: and it
was by standing on this rubbish-heap, I knew at once, that she must have
been enabled to climb out into the world.

I dropped down, and found myself in a low flat-roofed cellar, with a
floor of black earth, very fusty and damp, but so very vast in extent
that even in the day-time, I suppose, I could not have discerned its
boundaries; I fancy, indeed, that it extends beneath the whole palace
and its environs--an enormous stretch of space: with the lantern I could
only see a very limited portion of its area. She still led me eagerly
on, and I presently came upon a whole region of flat boxes, each about
two feet square, and nine inches high, made of very thin laths, packed
to the roof; and about a-hundred-and-fifty feet from these I saw, where
she pointed, another region of bottles, fat-bellied bottles in chemises
of wicker-work, stretching away into gloom and total darkness. The
boxes, of which a great number lay broken open, as they can be by merely
pulling with the fingers at a pliant crack, contain dates; and the
bottles, of which many thousands lay empty, contain, I saw, old
Ismidtwine. Some fifty or sixty casks, covered with mildew, some old
pieces of furniture, and a great cube of rotting, curling parchments,
showed that this cellar had been more or less loosely used for the
occasional storage of superfluous stores and knick-knacks.

It was also more or less loosely used as a domestic prison. For in the
lane between the region of boxes and the region of bottles, near the
former, there lay on the ground the skeleton of a woman, the details of
whose costume were still appreciable, with thin brass gyves on her
wrists: and when I had examined her well, I knew the whole history of
the creature standing silent by my side.

She is the daughter of the Sultan, as I assumed when I had once
determined that the skeleton is both the skeleton of her mother, and the
skeleton of the Sultana.

That the skeleton was her mother is clear: for the cloud occurred just
twenty-one years since, and the dead woman was, of course, at that
moment in the prison, which must have been air-tight, and with her the
girl: but since the girl is quite certainly not much more than
twenty--she looks younger--she must at that time have been either unborn
or a young babe: but a babe would hardly be imprisoned with another than
its own mother. I am rather inclined to think that the girl was unborn
at the moment of the cloud, and was born in the cellar.

That the mother was the Sultana is clear from her fragments of dress,
and the symbolic character of her every ornament, crescent earrings,
heron-feather, and the blue campaca enamelled in a bracelet. This poor
woman, I have thought, may have been the victim of some unbounded fit of
imperial passion, incurred by some domestic crime, real or imagined,
which may have been pardoned in a day had not death overtaken her master
and the world.

There are four steep stone steps at about the centre of the cellar,
leading up to a locked iron trap-door, apparently the only opening into
this great hole: and this trap-door must have been so nearly air-tight
as to bar the intrusion of the poison in anything like deadly quantity.

But how rare--how strange--the coincidence of chances here. For, if the
trap-door was absolutely air-tight, I cannot think that the supply of
oxygen in the cellar, large as it was, would have been sufficient to
last the girl twenty years, to say nothing of what her mother used up
before death: for I imagine that the woman must have continued to live
some time in her dungeon, sufficiently long, at least, to teach her
child to procure its food of dates and wine; so that the door must have
been only just sufficiently hermetic to bar the poison, yet admit some
oxygen; or else, the place may have been absolutely air-tight at the
time of the cloud, and some crack, which I have not seen, opened to
admit oxygen after the poison was dispersed: in any case--the
all-but-infinite rarity of the chance!

Thinking these things I climbed out, and we walked to Pera, where I
slept in a great white-stone house in five or six acres of garden
overlooking the cemetery of Kassim, having pointed out to the girl
another house in which to sleep.

This girl! what a history! After existing twenty years in a sunless
world hardly three acres wide, she one day suddenly saw the only sky
which she knew collapse at one point! a hole appeared into yet a world
beyond! It was I who had come, and kindled Constantinople, and set her

* * * * *

Ah, I see something now! I see! it was for this that I was preserved: I
to be a sort of new-fangled Adam--and this little creature to be my Eve!
That is it! _The White_ does not admit defeat: he would recommence the
Race again! At the last, the eleventh hour--in spite of all--he would
turn defeat into victory, and outwit that Other.

However, if this be so--and I seem to see it quite clearly--then in that
White scheme is a singular flaw: at _one point_, it is obvious, that
elaborate Forethought fails: for I have a free will--and I refuse, I

Certainly, in this matter I am on the side of the Black: and since it
depends absolutely upon me, this time Black wins.

No more men on the earth after me, ye Powers! To _you_ the question may
be nothing more than a gambling excitement as to the final outcome of
your aerial squabble: but to the poor men who had to bear the wrongs,
Inquisitions, rack-rents, Waterloos, unspeakable horrors, it was hard
earnest, you know! Oh the wretchedness--the deep, deep pain--of that
bungling ant-hill, happily wiped out, my God! My sweetheart Clodagh ...
she was not an ideal being! There was a man called Judas who betrayed
the gentle Founder of the Christian Faith, and there was some Roman king
named Galba, a horrid dog, and there was a French devil, Gilles de Raiz:
and the rest were all much the same, much the same. Oh no, it was not a
good race, that small infantry which called itself Man: and here,
falling on my knees before God and Satan as I write, I swear, I swear:
Never through me shall it spring and fester again.

* * * * *

I cannot realise her! Not at all, at all, at all! If she is out of my
sight and hearing ten minutes, I fall to doubting her reality. If I lose
her for half a day, all the old feelings, resembling certainties, come
back, that I have only been dreaming--that this appearance cannot be an
actual objective fact of life, since the impossible is impossible.

Seventeen long years, seventeen long years, of madness....

* * * * *

To-morrow I start for Imbros: and whether this girl chooses to follow
me, or whether she stays behind, I will see her from the moment I land
no more.

* * * * *

She must rise very early. I who am now regularly on the palace-roof at
dawn, sometimes from between the pavilion-curtains of the galleries, or
from the steps of the telescope-kiosk, may spy her far down below, a
dainty microscopic figure, generally running about the sward, or gazing
up in wonder at the palace from the lake-edge.

It is now three months since she came with me to Imbros.

I left her the first night in that pale-yellow house with the two green
jalousies facing the beach, where there was everything that she would
need; but I knew that, like all the houses there now, it leaked
profusely, and the next day I went down to the curving stair, cut
through the rock at the back and south of the village, climbed, and half
a mile beyond found that park and villa with gables, which I had noted
from the sea. The villa is almost intact, very strongly built of
purplish marble, though small, and very like a Western house, with
shingles, and three gables, so that I think it must have been the yali
of some Englishman, for it contains a number of English books, though
the only body I saw there was what looked like an Aararat Kurd, with
spiral string wound down his turban, yellow ankle-pantaloons, and flung
red shoulder-cloak; and all in the heavily-wooded park, and all about
the low rock-steps up the hill, profusions of man-dragora; and from the
rock-steps to the house a narrow long avenue of acacias, mossy
underfoot, that mingle overhead, the house standing about four yards
from the edge of the perpendicular sea-cliff, whence one can see the
_Speranzas_ main top-mast, and broken mizzen-mast-head, in her quiet
haven. After examining the place I went down again to the village, and
her house: but she was not there: and two hours long I paced about among
the weeds of these amateur little alleys and flat-roofed windowless
houses (though some have terrace-roofs, and a rare aperture), whose
once-raw yellows, greens, and blues look now like sunset tints when the
last flush is gone, and they fade dun. When at last she came running
with open mouth, I took her up the rock-steps, and into the house, and
there she has lived, one of the gable-tips, I now find (that overlooking
the sea), being just visible from the north-east corner of the
palace-roof, two miles from it.

That night again, when I was leaving her, she made an attempt to follow
me. But I was resolved to end it, then: and cutting a sassafras-whip I
cut her deep, three times, till she ran, crying.

* * * * *

So, then, what is my fate henceforth?--to think always, from sun to
moon, and from moon to sun, of one only thing--and that thing an object
for the microscope?--to become a sneaking Paul Pry to spy upon the silly
movements of one little sparrow, like some fatuous motiveless gossip of
old, his occupation to peep, his one faculty to scent, his honey and his
achievement to unearth the infinitely unimportant? I would kill her

* * * * *

I am convinced that she is no stay-at-home, but roams continually over
the island: for thrice, wandering myself, I have come upon her.

The first time she was running with flushed face, intent upon striking
down a butterfly with a twig held in the left hand (for both hands she
uses with dexterity). It was at about nine in the morning, in her park,
near the bottom where there are high grass-growths and ferny luxuriance
between the close tree-trunks, and shadow, and the broken wall of an old
funeral-kiosk sunk aslant under moss, creepers, and wild flowers, behind
which I peeped hidden and wet with dew. She has had the assurance to
modify the dress I put upon her, and was herself a butterfly, for
instead of the shintiyan, she had on a zouave, hardly reaching to the
waist, of saffron satin, no feredje, but a scarlet fez with violet
tassel, and baggy pantaloons of azure silk; down her back the long
auburn plait, quite neat, but all her front hair loose and wanton, the
fez cocked backward, while I caught glimpses of her fugitive heels
lifting out of the dropping slipper-sole. She is pretty clever, but not
clever enough, for that butterfly escaped, and in one instant I saw her
change into weary and sad, for on this earth is nothing more fickle than
that Proteus face, which resembles a landscape swept with cloud-shadows
on a bright day. Fast beat my heart that morning, owing to the
consciousness that, while I saw, I was unseen, yet might be seen.

Another noontide, three weeks afterwards, I came upon her a good way up
yonder to the west of the palace, sleeping on her arm in an alley
between overgrown old trellises, where rioting wild vine buried her in
gloom: but I had not been peeping through the bushes a minute, when she
started up and looked wildly about, her quick consciousness, I imagine,
detecting a presence: though I think that I managed to get away unseen.
She keeps her face very dirty: all about her mouth was dry-stained with
a polychrome of grape, _murs_, and other coloured juices, like
slobbering _gamins_ of old. I could also see that her nose and cheeks
are now sprinkled with little freckles.

Four days since I saw her a third time, and then found that the
primitive instinct to represent the world in pictures has been working
in her: for she was drawing. It was down in the middle one of the three
east-and-west village streets, for thither I had strolled toward
evening, and coming out upon the street from between an old wall and a
house, saw her quite near. I pulled up short--and peered. She was lying
on her face all among grasses, a piece of yellow board before her, and
in her fingers a chalk-splinter: and very intently she drew, her
tongue-tip travelling along her short upper-lip from side to side,
regularly as a pendulum, her fez tipped far back, and the left foot
swinging upward from the knee. She had drawn her yali at the top, and
now, as I could see by peering well forward, was drawing underneath the
palace--from memory, for where she lay it is all hidden: yet the palace
it was, for there were the waving lines meant for the steps, the two
slanting pillars, the slanting battlements of the outer court, and
before the portal, with turban reaching above the roof, and my two
whisks of beard sweeping below the knees--myself.

Something spurred me, and I could not resist shouting a sudden "Hi!"
whereupon she scrambled like a spring-bok to her feet, I pointing to the
drawing, smiling.

This creature has a way of mincing her pressed lips, while she shakes
the head, intensely cooing a fond laugh: and so she did then.

"You are a clever little wretch, you know," said I, she cocking her eye,
trying to divine my meaning with vague smile.

'Oh, yes, a clever little wretch,' I went on in a gruff voice, 'clever
as a serpent, no doubt: for in the first case it was the Black who used
the serpent, but now it is the White. But it will not do, you know. Do
you know what you are to me, you? You are my Eve!--a little fool, a
little piebald frog like you. But it will not do at all, at all! A nice
race it would be with you for mother, and me for father, wouldn't
it?--half-criminal like the father, half-idiot like the mother: just
like the last, in short. They used to say, in fact, that the offspring
of a brother and sister was always weak-headed: and from such a wedlock
certainly came the human race, so no wonder it was what it was: and so
it would have to be again now. Well no--unless we have the children, and
cut their throats at birth: and _you_ would not like that at all, I
know, and, on the whole, it would not work, for the White would be
striking a poor man dead with His lightning, if I attempted that. No,
then: the modern Adam is some eight to twenty thousand years wiser than
the first--you see? less instinctive, more rational. The first disobeyed
by commission: I shall disobey by omission: only his disobedience was a
sin, mine is a heroism. I have not been a particularly ideal sort of
beast so far, you know: but in me, Adam Jeffson--I swear it--the human
race shall at last attain a true nobility, the nobility of
self-extinction. I shall turn out trumps: I shall prove myself stronger
than Tendency, World-Genius, Providence, Currents of Fate, White Power,
Black Power, or whatever is the name for it. No more Clodaghs, Lucrezia
Borgias, Semiramises, Pompadours, Irish Landlords, Hundred-Years'
Wars--you see?'

She kept her left eye obliquely cocked like a little fool, wondering, no
doubt, what I was saying.

'And talking of Clodagh,' I went on, 'I shall call you that henceforth,
to keep me reminded. So that is your name--not Eve--but Clodagh, who was
a Poisoner, you see? She poisoned a poor man who trusted her: and that
is your name now--not Eve, but Clodagh--to remind me, you most dangerous
little speckled viper! And in order that I may no more see your foolish
little pretty face, I decree that, for the future, you wear a _yashmak_
to cover up your lips, which, I can see, were meant to be seductive,
though dirty; and you can leave the blue eyes, and the little
white-skinned freckled nose uncovered, if you like, they being
commonplace enough. Meantime, if you care to see how to draw a palace--I
will show you.'

Before I stretched my hand, she was presenting the board--so that she
had guessed something of my meaning! But some hard tone in my talk had
wounded her, for she presented it looking very glum, her under-lip
pushing a little obliquely out, very pathetically, I must say, as always
when she is just ready to cry.

In a few strokes I drew the palace, and herself standing at the portal
between the pillars: and now great was her satisfaction, for she pointed
to the sketched figure, and to herself, interrogatively: and when I
nodded 'yes,' she went cooing her fond murmurous laugh, with pressed
and mincing lips: and it is clear that, in spite of my beatings, she is
in no way afraid of me.

Before I could move away, I felt some rain-drops, and down in some
seconds rushed a shower. I looked, saw that the sky was rapidly
darkening, and ran into the nearest of the little cubical houses,
leaving her glancing sideways upward, with the quaintest artlessness of
interest in the downpour: for she is not yet quite familiarised with the
operations of nature, and seems to regard them with a certain amiable
inquisitive seriousness, as though they were living beings, comrades as
good as herself. She presently joined me, but even then stretched her
hand out to feel the drops.

Now there came a thunder-clap, the wind was rising, and rain spattering
about me: for the panes of these houses, made, I believe, of paper
saturated in almond-oil, have long disappeared, and rains, penetrating
by roof and rare window, splash the bones of men. I gathered up my
skirts to run toward other shelter, but she was before me, saying in her
strange experimental voice that word of hers: "_Come_."

She ran in advance, and I, with the outer robe over my head, followed,
urging flinching way against the whipped rain-wash. She took the way by
the stone horse-pond, through an alley to the left between two blind
walls, then down a steep path through wood to the rock-steps, and up we
ran, and along the hill, to her yali, which is a mile nearer the village
than the palace, though by the time we pelted into its dry shelter we
were wet to the skin.

Sudden darkness had come, but she quickly found some matches, lit one,
looking at it with a certain meditative air, and applied it to a candle
and to a bronze Western lamp on the table, which I had taught her to oil
and light. Near a Western fire-place was a Turkish mangal, like one
which she had seen me light to warm bath-waters in Constantinople, and

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