A STRANGE HOSTESS
' If I had but that animal of yours to guide me,—' I went on, hoping to learn something of its mission, but she interrupted me, saying,
' It was to Bulika she went—the shortest way.'
' How wonderfully intelligent she looked !'
' Astarte knows her work well enough to be sent to do it,' she answered.
' Have you many messengers like her ? '
' As many as I require.'
' Are they hard to teach ? '
' They need no teaching. They are all of a certain breed, but not one of the breed is like another. Their origin is so natural it would seem to you incredible.'
' May I not know it ? '
'A new one came to me last night—from your head while you slept.'
' All in this world seem to love mystery !' I said to myself. ' Some chance word of mine suggested an idea —and in this form she embodies the small fact!'
' Then the creature is mine ! ' I cried.
' Not at all! ' she answered. ' That only can be ours in whose existence our will is a factor.'
' Ha ! a metaphysician too ! ' I remarked inside, and was silent.
' May I take what is left of the loaf ?' I asked presently.
' You will want no more to-day,' she replied.
' To-morrow I may !' I rejoined.
She rose and went to the door, saying as she went,
' It has nothing to do with to-morrow,—but you may take it if you will.'
She opened the door, and stood holding it. I rose,