She drained the glass. For a moment they stared hard at each other in silence, Thorpe wondering at the sudden maturity in the face before him. All the triumphant young womanhood had gone out of it; the diabolical spirit of some ancestor entombed in the depths of her brain might have possessed her for the moment, smothering her own groping soul. The distant music filled the conservatory with a low humming sound, such as one hears in a tropical forest at noon. Suddenly Thorpe realised that the evil which is in all human souls was having its moment of absolute liberty, and that the two dissevered particles, his and hers, recognised each other. He had knocked his senseless many times in his life, but he felt no inclination to do so to-night; for so much more than what little was evil in this girl attracted and magnetised him. His brain was not clear, and it was reckless with its abrupt possession by the idea that this woman was his mate, and that, for good or for evil, there was no escaping her. He sprang to his feet, pushed the table violently aside, took her in his arms and kissed her. For a moment she was quiescent; then she slipped from his embrace and ran down the conservatory, thrusting the ferns aside. One fell, its jar crashing on the stone floor. He saw no more of her that night.--Chapter 1
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