Page:Magician 1908.djvu/124

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

She turned her chair a little and looked at him. She was astonished at the change in his appearance. His hideous obesity seemed no longer repellant, for his eyes wore a new expression; they were incredibly tender now, and they were moist with tears. His mouth was tortured by a passionate distress. Margaret had never seen so much unhappiness on a man’s face, and an overwhelming remorse seized her.

“I don’t want to be unkind to you,” she said.

“I will go. That is how I can best repay you for what you have done.”

The words were so bitter, so humiliated, that the colour rose to her cheeks.

“I ask you to stay. But let us talk of other things.”

For a moment he kept silence. He seemed no longer to see Margaret, and she watched him thoughtfully. His eyes rested on a print of La Gioconda which hung on the wall. Suddenly he began to speak. He recited the honeyed words with which Walter Pater expressed his admiration for that consummate picture.

“Hers is the head upon which all the ends of the world are come, and the eyelids are a little weary. It is a beauty wrought out from within upon the flesh, the deposit, little cell by cell, of strange thoughts and fantastic reveries and exquisite passions. Set it for a moment beside one of those white Greek goddesses or beautiful women of antiquity, and how would they be troubled by this