! This is almost the first roof I have been under since you left me,' I replied.
I Whose was the other ? ' she rejoined.
'I do not know the woman's name.'
' I would gladly learn it! The instinct of hospitality is not strong in my people ! '
She took me again by the hand, and led me through the darkness many steps to a curtain of black. Beyond it was a white stair, up which she conducted me to a beautiful chamber.
' How you must miss the hot flowing river!' she said. ' But there is a bath in the corner with no white leeches in it! At the foot of your couch you will find a garment. When you come down, I shall be in the room to your left at the foot of the stair.'
I stood as she left me, accusing my presumption: how was I to treat this lovely woman as a thing of evil, who behaved to me like a sister?—Whence the marvellous change in her ? She left me with a blow; she received me almost with an embrace! She had reviled me; she said she knew I would follow and find her! Did she know my doubts concerning her— how much I should want explained? Could she explain all ? Could I believe her if she did ? As to her hospitality, I had surely earned and might accept that—at least until I came to a definite judgment concerning her !
Could such beauty as I saw, and such wickedness as I suspected, exist in the same person ? If they could, how was it possible ? Unable to answer the former question, I must let the latter wait!
Clear as crystal, the water in the great white bath sent a sparkling flash from the corner where it lay sunk