Sanfield paused as he was about to leave the Underground
station at Victoria, and cursed the weather.
When he left the City it was fine; now it was pouring with
rain, and he had neither overcoat nor umbrella. Not a taxi
was discoverable in the dripping gloom. He would get
soaked before he reached his rooms in Sloane Street.
He stood for some minutes, thinking how vile London
was in February, and how depressing life was in general.
He stood also, in that moment, though he knew it not,
upon the edge of a singular adventure. Looking back upon
it in later years, he often remembered this particularly
wretched moment of a pouring wet February evening,
when everything seemed wrong, and Fate had loaded the
dice against him, even in the matter of weather and umbrellas.
Fate, however, without betraying her presence, was
watching him through the rain and murk; and Fate, that
night, had strange, mysterious eyes. Fantastic cards lay
up her sleeve. The rain, his weariness and depression, his
physical fatigue especially, seemed the conditions she required
before she played these curious cards. Something
new and wonderful fluttered close. Romance flashed by
him across the driving rain and touched his cheek. He
was too exasperated to be aware of it.
Things had gone badly that day at the office, where
he was junior partner in a small firm of engineers.
Threatened trouble at the works had come to a head. A
strike seemed imminent. To add to his annoyance, a new
client, whose custom was of supreme importance, had just
complained bitterly of the delay in the delivery of his
machinery. The senior partners had left the matter in
Sanfield’s hands; he had not succeeded. The angry customer
swore he would hold the firm to its contract. They
could deliver or pay up—whichever suited them. The
junior partner had made a mess of things.
The final words on the telephone still rang in his ears
as he stood sheltering under the arcade, watching the
downpour, and wondering whether he should make a dash
for it or wait on the chance of its clearing up—when a
further blow was dealt him as the rain-soaked poster of
an evening paper caught his eye: “Riots in Egypt. Heavy
Fall in Egyptian Securities,” he read with blank dismay.
Buying a paper he turned feverishly to the City article—to
find his worst fears confirmed. Delta Lands, in which
nearly all his small capital was invested, had declined a
quarter on the news, and would evidently decline further
still. The riots were going on in the towns nearest to
their property. Banks had been looted, crops destroyed;
the trouble was deep-seated.
So grave was the situation that mere weather seemed
suddenly of no account at all. He walked home doggedly
in the drenching rain, paying less attention to it than if it
had been Scotch mist. The water streamed from his hat,
dripped down his back and neck, splashed him with mud
and grime from head to foot. He was soaked to the skin.
He hardly noticed it. His capital had depreciated by half,
at least, and possibly was altogether lost; his position at
the office was insecure. How could mere weather matter?
Sitting, eventually, before his fire in dry clothes, after
an apology for a dinner he had no heart to eat, he reviewed
the situation. He faced a possible total loss of
his private capital. Next, the position of his firm caused
him grave uneasiness, since, apart from his own mishandling
of the new customer, the threatened strike might
ruin it completely; a long strain on its limited finances
was out of the question. George Sanfield certainly saw
things at their worst. He was now thirty-five. A fresh
start—the mere idea of it made him shudder—occurred as
a possibility in the near future. Vitality, indeed, was at
a low ebb, it seemed. Mental depression, great physical
fatigue, weariness of life in general made his spirits droop
alarmingly, so that almost he felt tired of living. His tie
with existence, at any rate, just then was dangerously
Thought turned next to the man on whose advice he
had staked his all in Delta Lands. Morris had important
Egyptian interests in various big companies and enterprises
along the Nile. He had first come to the firm with
a letter of introduction upon some business matter, which
the junior partner had handled so successfully that
acquaintance thus formed had ripened into a more personal
tie. The two men had much in common; their temperaments
were suited; understanding grew between them;
they felt at home and comfortable with one another. They
became friends; they felt a mutual confidence. When
Morris paid his rare visits to England, they spent much
time together; and it was on one of these occasions that
the matter of the Egyptian shares was mentioned, Morris
urgently advising their purchase.
Sanfield explained his own position clearly enough,
but his friend was so confident and optimistic that the
purchase eventually had been made. There had been,
moreover, Sanfield now remembered, the flavour of a
peculiarly intimate and personal kind about the deal. He
had remarked it, with a touch of surprise, at the moment,
though really it seemed natural enough. Morris was very
earnest, holding his friend’s interest at heart; he was affectionate
“I’d like to do you this good turn, old man,” he said.
“I have the strong feeling, somehow, that I owe you this,
though heaven alone knows why!” After a pause he added,
half shyly: “It may be one of those old memories we
hear about nowadays cropping up out of some previous life
together.” Before the other could reply, he went on to
explain that only three men were in the parent syndicate,
the shares being unobtainable. “I’ll set some of my own
aside for you—four thousand or so, if you like.”
They laughed together; Sanfield thanked him warmly;
the deal was carried out. But the recipient of the favour
had wondered a little at the sudden increase of intimacy
even while he liked it and responded.
Had he been a fool, he now asked himself, to swallow
the advice, putting all his eggs into a single basket? He
knew very little about Morris after all.... Yet, while
reflection showed him that the advice was honest, and the
present riots no fault of the adviser’s, he found his thoughts
turning in a steady stream towards the man. The affairs
of the firm took second place. It was Morris, with his
deep-set eyes, his curious ways, his dark skin burnt brick-red
by a fierce Eastern sun; it was Morris, looking almost
like an Egyptian, who stood before him as he sat thinking
gloomily over his dying fire.
He longed to talk with him, to ask him questions, to
seek advice. He saw him very vividly against the screen of
thought; Morris stood beside him now, gazing out across
the limitless expanse of tawny sand. He had in his eyes
the “distance” that sailors share with men whose life has
been spent amid great trackless wastes. Morris, moreover,
now he came to think of it, seemed always a little
out of place in England. He had few relatives and, apparently,
no friends; he was always intensely pleased when
the time came to return to his beloved Nile. He had
once mentioned casually a sister who kept house for him
when duty detained him in Cairo, but, even here, he was
something of an Oriental, rarely speaking of his women
folk. Egypt, however, plainly drew him like a magnet.
Resistance involved disturbance in his being, even ill-health.
Egypt was “home” to him, and his friend, though
he had never been there, felt himself its potent spell.
Another curious trait Sanfield remembered, too—his
friend’s childish superstition; his belief, or half-belief, in
magic and the supernatural. Sanfield, amused, had
ascribed it to the long sojourn in a land where anything
unusual is at once ascribed to spiritual agencies. Morris
owed his entire fortune, if his tale could be believed, to
the magical apparition of an unearthly kind in some lonely
wadi among the Bedouins. A sand-diviner had influenced
another successful speculation.... He was a picturesque
figure, whichever way one took him: yet a successful business
man into the bargain.
These reflections and memories, on the other hand,
brought small comfort to the man who had tempted Fate
by following his advice. It was only a little strange how
Morris now dominated his thoughts, directing them towards
himself. Morris was in Egypt at the moment.
He went to bed at length, filled with uneasy misgivings,
but for a long time he could not sleep. He tossed
restlessly, his mind still running on the subject of his long
reflections. He ached with tiredness. He dropped off
at last. Then came a nightmare dream, in which the
firm’s works were sold for nearly nothing to an old Arab
sheikh who wished to pay for them—in goats. He woke
up in a cold perspiration. He had uneasy thoughts. His
fancy was travelling. He could not rest.
To distract his mind, he turned on the light and tried
to read, and, eventually, towards morning, fell into a
sleep of sheer exhaustion. And his final thought—he knew
not exactly why—was a sentence Morris had made use of
long ago: “I feel I owe you a good turn; I’d like to do
something for you....”
This was the memory in his mind as he slipped off into
But what happens when the mind is unconscious and
the tired body lies submerged in deep sleep, no man, they
say, can really tell.
The next thing he knew he was walking along a sun-baked
street in some foreign town that was familiar, although,
at first, its name escaped him. Colour, softness,
and warmth pervaded it; there was sparkle and lightness
in the exhilarating air; it was an Eastern town.
Though early morning, a number of people were
already stirring; strings of camels passed him, loaded with
clover, bales of merchandise, and firewood. Gracefully-draped
women went by silently, carrying water jars of
burnt clay upon their heads. Rude wooden shutters were
being taken down in the bazaars; the smoke of cooking-fires
rose in the blue spirals through the quiet air. He
felt strangely at home and happy. The light, the radiance
stirred him. He passed a mosque from which the
worshippers came pouring in a stream of colour.
Yet, though an Eastern town, it was not wholly Oriental,
for he saw that many of the buildings were of semi-European
design, and that the natives sometimes wore
European dress, except for the fez upon the head. Among
them were Europeans, too. Staring into the faces of the
passers-by he found, to his vexation, that he could not
focus sight as usual, and that the nearer he approached,
the less clearly he discerned the features. The faces, upon
close attention, at once grew shadowy, merged into each
other, or, in some odd fashion, melted into the dazzling
sunshine that was their background. All his attempts in
this direction failed; impatience seized him; of surprise,
however, he was not conscious. Yet this mingled vagueness
and intensity seemed perfectly natural.
Filled with a stirring curiosity, he made a strong effort
to concentrate his attention, only to discover that this
vagueness, this difficulty of focus, lay in his own being,
too. He wandered on, unaware exactly where he was going,
yet not much perturbed, since there was an objective
in view, he knew, and this objective must eventually be
reached. Its nature, however, for the moment entirely
The sense of familiarity, meanwhile, increased; he had
been in this town before, although not quite within recoverable
memory. It seemed, perhaps, the general atmosphere,
rather than the actual streets, he knew; a certain
perfume in the air, a tang of indefinable sweetness, a
vitality in the radiant sunshine. The dark faces that he
could not focus, he yet knew; the flowing garments of blue
and red and yellow, the softly-slippered feet, the slouching
camels, the burning human eyes that faded ere he fully
caught them—the entire picture in this blazing sunlight
lay half-hidden, half-revealed. And an extraordinary sense
of happiness and well-being flooded him as he walked; he
felt at home; comfort and bliss stole over him. Almost
he knew his way about. This was a place he loved and
The complete silence, moreover, did not strike him as
peculiar until, suddenly, it was broken in a startling
fashion. He heard his own name spoken. It sounded close
beside his ear.
“George Sanfield!” The voice was familiar. Morris
called him. He realized then the truth. He was, of
course, in Cairo.
Yet, instead of turning to discover the speaker at his
side, he hurried forward, as though he knew that the voice
had come through distance. His consciousness cleared and
lightened; he felt more alive; his eyes now focused the
passers-by without difficulty. He was there to find Morris,
and Morris was directing him. All was explained and
natural again. He hastened. But, even while he hastened,
he knew that his personal desire to speak with his friend
about Egyptian shares and Delta Lands was not his single
object. Behind it, further in among as yet unstirring
shadows, lay another deeper purpose. Yet he did not
trouble about it, nor make a conscious effort at discovery.
Morris was doing him that “good turn I feel I owe you.”
This conviction filled him overwhelmingly. The question
of how and why did not once occur to him. A strange,
great happiness rose in him.
Upon the outskirts of the town now, he found himself
approaching a large building in the European style,
with wide verandas and a cultivated garden filled with
palm trees. A well-kept drive of yellow sand led to its
chief entrance, and the man in khaki drill and riding-breeches
walking along this drive, not ten yards in front
of him, was—Morris. He overtook him, but his cry of
welcome recognition was not answered. Morris, walking
with bowed head and stooping shoulders, seemed intensely
preoccupied; he had not heard the call.
“Here I am, old fellow!” exclaimed his friend, holding
out a hand. “I’ve come, you see...!” then paused
aghast before the altered face. Morris paid no attention.
He walked straight on as though he had not heard. It
was the distraught and anguished expression on the drawn
and haggard features that impressed the other most. The
silence he took without surprise.
It was the pain and suffering in his friend that occupied
him. The dark rims beneath heavy eyes, the evidence
of sleepless nights, of long anxiety and ceaseless
dread, afflicted him with their too-plain story. The man
was overwhelmed with some great sorrow. Sanfield forgot
his personal trouble; this larger, deeper grief usurped
its place entirely.
“Morris! Morris!” he cried yet more eagerly than before.
“I’ve come, you see. Tell me what’s the matter. I
believe—that I can—help you...!”
The other turned, looking past him through the air.
He made no answer. The eyes went through him. He
walked straight on, and Sanfield walked at his side in
silence. Through the large door they passed together,
Morris paying as little attention to him as though he were
not there, and in the small chamber they now entered,
evidently a waiting-room, an Egyptian servant approached,
uttered some inaudible words, and then withdrew, leaving
them alone together.
It seemed that time leaped forward, yet stood still; the
passage of minutes, that is to say, was irregular, almost
fanciful. Whether the interval was long or short, however,
Morris spent it pacing up and down the little room,
his hands thrust deep into his pockets, his mind oblivious
of all else but his absorbing anxiety and grief. To his
friend, who watched him by the wall with intense desire
to help, he paid no attention. The latter’s spoken words
went by him, entirely unnoticed; he gave no sign of seeing
him; his eyes, as he paced up and down, muttering inaudibly
to himself, were fixed every few seconds on an
inner door. Beyond that door, Sanfield now divined, lay
someone who hesitated on the narrow frontier between life
It opened suddenly and a man, in overall and rubber
gloves, came out, his face grave yet with faint signs of
hope about it—a doctor, clearly, straight from the operating
table. Morris, standing rigid in his tracks, listened
to something spoken, for the lips were in movement,
though no words were audible. The operation, Sanfield
divined, had been successful, though danger was still
present. The two men passed out, then, into the hall
and climbed a wide staircase to the floor above, Sanfield
following noiselessly, though so close that he could touch
them. Entering a large, airy room where French windows,
carefully shaded with green blinds opened on to a veranda,
they approached a bed. Two nurses bent over it. The
occupant was at first invisible.
Events had moved with curious rapidity. All this had
happened, it seemed, in a single moment, yet with the
irregular effect already mentioned which made Sanfield
feel it might, equally, have lasted hours. But, as he
stood behind Morris and the surgeon at the bed, the deeps
in him opened suddenly, and he trembled under a shock
of intense emotion that he could not understand. As with
a stroke of lightning some heavenly fire set his heart aflame
with yearning. The very soul in him broke loose with
passionate longing that must find satisfaction. It came
to him in a single instant with the certain knowledge of
an unconquerable conviction. Hidden, yet ever waiting,
among the broken centuries, there now leaped upon him
this flash of memory—the memory of some sweet and
ancient love Time might veil yet could not kill.
He ran forward, past the surgeon and the nurses, past
Morris who bent above the bed with a face ghastly from
anxiety. He gazed down upon the fair girl lying there,
her unbound hair streaming over the pillow. He saw, and
he remembered. And an uncontrollable cry of recognition
left his lips....
The irregularity of the passing minutes became so
marked then, that he might well have passed outside their
measure altogether, beyond what men call Time; duration,
interval, both escaped. Alone and free with his eternal
love, he was safe from all confinement, free, it seemed,
either of time or space. His friend, however, was vaguely
with him during the amazing instant. He felt acutely
aware of the need each had, respectively, for the other,
born of a heritage the Past had hidden over-long. Each,
it was clear, could do the other a good turn.... Sanfield,
though unable to describe or disentangle later, knew,
while it lasted, this joy of full, delicious understanding....
The strange, swift instant of recognition passed and
disappeared. The cry, Sanfield realized, on coming back
to the Present, had been soundless and inaudible as before.
No one observed him; no one stirred. The girl, on that
bed beside the opened windows, lay evidently dying. Her
breath came in gasps, her chest heaved convulsively, each
attempt at recovery was slower and more painful than
the one before. She was unconscious. Sometimes her
breathing seemed to stop. It grew weaker, as the pulse
grew fainter. And Sanfield, transfixed as with paralysis,
stood watching, waiting, an intolerable yearning in his
heart to help. It seemed to him that he waited with a
This purpose suddenly became clear. He knew why
he waited. There was help to be given. He was the one
to give it.
The girl’s vitality and ebbing nerves, her entire physical
organism now fading so quickly towards that final
extinction which meant death—could these but be stimulated
by a new tide of life, the danger-point now fast
approaching might be passed, and recovery must follow.
This impetus, he knew suddenly, he could supply. How,
he could not tell. It flashed upon him from beyond the
stars, as from ancient store of long-forgotten, long-neglected
knowledge. It was enough that he felt confident
and sure. His soul burned within him; the strength of
an ancient and unconquerable love rose through his being.
He would try.
The doctor, he saw, was in the act of giving his last
aid in the form of a hypodermic injection, Morris and the
nurses looking on. Sanfield observed the sharp quick rally,
only too faint, too slight; he saw the collapse that followed.
The doctor, shrugging his shoulders, turned with
a look that could not express itself in words, and Morris,
burying his face in his hands, knelt by the bed, shaken
with convulsive sobbing. It was the end.
In which moment, precisely, the strange paralysis that
had bound Sanfield momentarily, was lifted from his being,
and an impelling force, obeying his immense desire,
invaded him. He knew how to act. His will, taught long
ago, yet long-forgotten, was set free.
“You have come back to me at last,” he cried in his
anguish and his power, though the voice was, as ever,
inaudible and soundless, “I shall not let you go!...”
Drawn forward nearer and nearer to the bed, he leaned
down, as if to kiss the pale lips and streaming hair. But
his knowledge operated better than he knew. In the tremendous
grip of that power which spins the stars and
suns, while drawing souls into manifestation upon a dozen
planets, he raced, he dived, he plunged, helpless, yet driven
by the creative stress of love and sacrifice towards some
eternal purpose. Caught in what seemed a vortex of amazing
force, he sank away, as a straw is caught and sunk
within the suction of a mighty whirlpool. His memory
of Morris, of the doctor, of the girl herself, passed utterly.
His entire personality became merged, lost, obliterated.
He was aware of nothing; not even aware of nothingness.
He lost consciousness....
The reappearance was as sudden as the obliteration.
He emerged. There had been interval, duration, time.
He was not aware of them. A spasm of blinding pain
shot through him. He opened his eyes. His whole body
was a single devouring pain. He felt cramped, confined,
uncomfortable. He must escape. He thrashed about.
Someone seized his arm and held it. With a snarl he
easily wrenched it free.
He was in bed. How had he come to this? An accident?
He saw the faces of nurse and doctor bending over
him, eager, amazed, surprised, a trifle frightened. Vague
memories floated to him. Who was he? Where had he
come from? And where was ... where was ... someone
... who was dearer to him than life itself? He
looked about him: the room, the faces, the French windows,
the veranda, all seemed only half familiar. He
looked, he searched for ... someone ... but in vain....
A spasm of violent pain burned through his body like
a fire, and he shut his eyes. He groaned. A voice sounded
just above him: “Take this, dear. Try and swallow a
little. It will relieve you. Your brother will be back in
a moment. You are much better already.”
He looked up at the nurse; he drank what she gave
“My brother!” he murmured. “I don’t understand. I
have no brother.” Thirst came over him; he drained the
glass. The nurse, wearing a startled look, moved away.
He watched her go. He pointed at her with his hand,
meaning to say something that he instantly forgot—as he
saw his own bare arm. Its dreadful thinness shocked
him. He must have been ill for months. The arm, wasted
almost to nothing, showed the bone. He sank back exhausted,
the sleeping draught began to take effect. The
nurse returned quietly to a chair beside the bed, from
which she watched him without ceasing as the long minutes
He found it difficult to collect his thoughts, to keep
them in his mind when caught. There floated before him
a series of odd scenes like coloured pictures in an endless
flow. He was unable to catch them. Morris was with
him always. They were doing quite absurd, impossible
things. They rode together across the desert in the dawn,
they wandered through old massive temples, they saw the
sun set behind mud villages mid wavering palms, they
drifted down a river in a sailing boat of quaint design.
It had an enormous single sail. Together they visited
tombs cut in the solid rock, hot airless corridors, and
huge, dim, vaulted chambers underground. There was an
icy wind by night, fierce burning sun by day. They
watched vast troops of stars pass down a stupendous sky....
They knew delight and tasted wonder. Strange
memories touched them....
“Nurse!” he called aloud, returning to himself again,
and remembering that he must speak with his friend about
something—he failed to recall exactly what. “Please ask
Mr. Morris to come to me.”
“At once, dear. He’s only in the next room waiting
for you to wake.” She went out quickly, and he heard
her voice in the passage. It sank to a whisper as she
came back with Morris, yet every syllable reached him
“... and pay no attention if she wanders a little;
just ignore it. She’s turned the corner, thank God, and
that’s the chief thing.” Each word he heard with wonder
and perplexity, with increasing irritability too.
“I’m a hell of a wreck,” he said, as Morris came,
beaming, to the bedside. “Have I been ill long? It’s
frightfully decent of you to come, old man.”
But Morris, staggered at this greeting, stopped
abruptly, half turning to the nurse for guidance. He
seemed unable to find words. Sanfield was extremely
annoyed; he showed his feeling. “I’m not balmy, you old
ass!” he shouted. “I’m all right again, though very weak.
But I wanted to ask you—oh, I remember now—I wanted
to ask you about my—er—Deltas.”
“My poor dear Maggie,” stammered Morris, fumbling
with his voice. “Don’t worry about your few shares,
darling. Deltas are all right—it’s you we——”
“Why, the devil, do you call me Maggie?” snapped
the other viciously. “And ‘darling’!” He felt furious,
exasperated. “Have you gone balmy, or have I? What
in the world are you two up to?” His fury tired him. He
lay back upon his pillows, fuming. Morris took a chair
beside the bed; he put a hand gently on his wasted arm.
“My darling girl,” he said, in what was intended to
be a soothing voice, though it stirred the sick man again to
fury beyond expression, “you must really keep quiet for
a bit. You’ve had a very severe operation”—his voice
shook a little—“but, thank God, you’ve pulled through and
are now on the way to recovery. You are my sister Maggie.
It will all come back to you when you’re rested——”
“Maggie, indeed!” interrupted the other, trying to sit
up again, but too weak to compass it. “Your sister! You
bally idiot! Don’t you know me? I wish to God the
nurse wouldn’t ‘dear’ me in that senseless way. And you,
with your atrocious ‘darling,’ I’m not your precious sister
Maggie. I’m—I’m George San——”
But even as he said it, there passed over him some
dim lost fragment of a wild, delicious memory he could
not seize. Intense pleasure lay in it, could he but recover
it. He knew a sweet, forgotten joy. His broken, troubled
mind lay searching frantically but without success. It
dazzled him. It shook him with an indescribable emotion—of
joy, of wonder, of deep sweet confusion. A rapt
happiness rose in him, yet pain, like a black awful shutter,
closed in upon the happiness at once. He remembered
a girl. But he remembered, too, that he had seen her
die. Who was she? Had he lost her ... again...!
“My dear fellow,” he faltered in a weaker voice to
Morris, “my brain’s in a whirl. I’m sorry. I suppose I’ve
had some blasted concussion—haven’t I?”
But the man beside his bed, he saw, was startled. An
extraordinary look came into his face, though he tried to
hide it with a smile.
“My shares!” cried Sanfield, with a half scream.
“Four thousand of them!”
Whereupon Morris blanched. “George Sanfield!” he
muttered, half to himself, half to the nurse who hurried
up. “That voice! The very number too!” He looked
white and terrified, as if he had seen a ghost. A whispered
colloquy ensued between him and the nurse. It was
“Now, dearest Maggie,” he said at length, making evidently
a tremendous effort, “do try and lie quiet for a bit.
Don’t bother about George Sanfield, my London friend.
His shares are quite safe. You’ve heard me speak of him.
It’s all right, my darling, quite all right. Oh, believe me!
I’m your brother.”
“Maggie...!” whispered the man to himself upon
the bed, whereupon Morris stooped, and, to his intense
horror, kissed him on the cheek. But his horror seemed
merged at once in another personality that surged through
and over his entire being, drowning memory and recognition
hopelessly. “Darling,” he murmured. He realized
that he was mad, of course. It seemed he fainted....
The momentary unconsciousness soon passed, at any
rate. He opened his eyes again. He saw a palm tree
out of the window. He knew positively he was not mad,
whatever else he might be. Dead perhaps? He felt the
sheets, the mattress, the skin upon his face. No, he was
alive all right. The dull pains where the tight bandages
oppressed him were also real. He was among substantial,
earthly things. The nurse, he noticed, regarded him anxiously.
She was a pleasant-looking young woman. He
smiled; and, with an expression of affectionate, even tender
pleasure, she smiled back at him.
“You feel better now, a little stronger,” she said softly.
“You’ve had a sleep, Miss Margaret.” She said “Miss Margaret”
with a conscious effort. It was better, perhaps, than
“dear”; but his anger rose at once. He was too tired, however,
to express his feelings. There stole over him, besides,
the afflicting consciousness of an alien personality
that was familiar, and yet not his. It strove to dominate
him. Only by a great effort could he continue to think
his own thoughts. This other being kept trying to intrude,
to oust him, to take full possession. It resented his
presence with a kind of violence.
He sighed. So strong was the feeling of another personality
trying to foist itself upon his own, upon his mind,
his body, even upon his very face, that he turned instinctively
to the nurse, though unaware exactly what he meant
to ask her for.
“My hand-glass, please,” he heard himself saying—with
horror. The phrase was not his own. Glass or mirror
were the words he would have used.
A moment later he was staring with acute and ghastly
terror at a reflection that was not his own. It was the
face of the dead girl he saw within the silver-handled,
woman’s hand-glass he held up.
The dream with its amazing, vivid detail haunted him
for days, even coming between him and his work. It
seemed far more real, more vivid than the commonplace
events of life that followed. The occurrences of the day
were pale compared to its overpowering intensity. And a
cable, received the very next afternoon, increased this sense
of actual truth—of something that had really happened.
“Hold shares writing Morris.”
Its brevity added a convincing touch. He was aware
of Egypt even in Throgmorton Street. Yet it was the face
of the dead, or dying, girl that chiefly haunted him. She
remained in his thoughts, alive and sweet and exquisite.
Without her he felt incomplete, his life a failure. He
thought of nothing else.
The affairs at the office, meanwhile, went well; unexpected
success attended them; there was no strike; the
angry customer was pacified. And when the promised
letter came from Morris, Sanfield’s hands trembled so violently
that he could hardly tear it open. Nor could he read
it calmly. The assurance about his precious shares scarcely
interested him. It was the final paragraph that set his
heart beating against his ribs as though a hammer lay
“... I’ve had great trouble and anxiety, though, thank God,
the danger is over now. I forget if I ever mentioned my sister,
Margaret, to you. She keeps house for me in Cairo, when I’m
there. She is my only tie in life. Well, a severe operation she
had to undergo, all but finished her. To tell you the truth, she
very nearly died, for the doctor gave her up. You’ll smile when
I tell you that odd things happened—at the very last moment. I
can’t explain it, nor can the doctor. It rather terrified me. But
at the very moment when we thought her gone, something revived
in her. She became full of unexpected life and vigor. She was
even violent—whereas, a moment before, she had not the strength
to speak, much less to move. It was rather wonderful, but it was
“You don’t believe in these things, I know, but I must tell you,
because, when she recovered consciousness, she began to babble
about yourself, using your name, though she has rarely, if ever,
heard it, and even speaking—you won’t believe this, of course!—of
your shares in Deltas, giving the exact number that you hold.
When you write, please tell me if you were very anxious about
these? Also, whether your thoughts were directed particularly to
me? I thought a good deal about you, knowing you might be
uneasy, but my mind was pretty full, as you will understand, of
her operation at the time. The climax, when all this happened,
was about 11 a. m. on February 13th.
“Don’t fail to tell me this, as I’m particularly interested in
what you may have to say.”
“And, now, I want to ask a great favor of you. The doctor
forbids Margaret to stay here during the hot weather, so I’m
sending her home to some cousins in Yorkshire, as soon as she is
fit to travel. It would be most awfully kind—I know how women
bore you—if you could manage to meet the boat and help her on
her way through London. I’ll let you know dates and particulars
later, when I hear that you will do this for me....”
Sanfield hardly read the remainder of the letter, which
dealt with shares and business matters. But a month later
he stood on the dock-pier at Tilbury, watching the approach
of the tender from the Egyptian Mail.
He saw it make fast; he saw the stream of passengers
pour down the gangway; and he saw among them the tall,
fair woman of his dream. With a beating heart he went
to meet her....