THE WHITE LEECH 147
' Not in twenty days,' I rejoined, ' hardly in thirty!'
'Ha! How long do you pretend I have lain unconscious?—Answer me at once.'
I cannot tell how long you had lain when I found you, but there was nothing left of you save skin and bone : that is more than three months ago.—Your hair was beautiful, nothing else ! I have done for it what I could.'
' My poor hair!' she said, and brought a great armful of it round from behind her; ' —it will be more than a three-months' care to bring you to life again! —I suppose I must thank you, although I cannot say I am grateful! '
' There is no need, madam : I would have done the same for any woman—yes, or for any man either !'
' How is it my hair is not tangled ? ' she said, fondling it.
' It always drifted in the current.'
' How ?—"What do you mean ? '
I could not have brought you to life but by bathing you in the hot river every morning.'
She gave a shudder of disgust, and stood for a while with her gaze fixed on the hurrying water. Then she turned to me :
' We must understand each other !' she said. —You have done me the two worst of wrongs—compelled me to live, and put me to shame : neither of them can I pardon !'
She raised her left hand, and flung it out as if repelling me. Something ice-cold struck me on the forehead. When I came to myself, I was on the ground, wet and shivering.