LILITH A Fantasy Novel By George MacDonald - online book

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THE WHITE LEOPARDESS                  171
hard to believe that water had ever occupied the hollow before them. All was so still that sleep seemed to inter­penetrate the structure, causing the very moonlight to look discordantly awake. I must either enter like a thief, or break a silence that rendered frightful the mere thought of a sound !
Like an outcast dog I was walking about the walls, when I came to a little recess with a stone bench : I took refuge in it from the wind, lay down, and in spite of the cold fell fast asleep.
I was wakened by something leaping upon me, and licking my face with the rough tongue of a feline animal. ' It is the white leopardess ! ' I thought. ' She is come to suck my blood !—and why should she not have it ?— it would cost me more to defend than to yield it! ' So I lay still, expecting a shoot of pain. But the pang did not arrive ; a pleasant warmth instead began to diffuse itself through me. Stretched at my back, she lay as close to me as she could lie, the heat of her body slowly pene­trating mine, and her breath, which had nothing of the wild beast in it, swathing my head and face in a genial atmosphere. A full conviction that her intention toward me was good, gained possession of me. I turned like a sleepy boy, threw my arm over her, and sank into pro­found unconsciousness.
When I began to come to myself, I fancied I lay warm and soft in my own bed. Is it possible I am at home ? ' I thought. The well-known scents of the garden seemed to come crowding in. I rubbed my eyes, and looked out: I lay on a bare stone, in the heart of a hateful city!
I sprang from the bench. Had I indeed had a leopardess for my bedfellow, or had I but dreamed it ?
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