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- The Great Impersonation - 50/50 -

"Bless you, no! She's as near as possible in perfect health physically. A different woman from what she was this time last year, I can tell you. When she wakes up, she'll either be herself again, without a single illusion of any sort, or--"

The doctor paused, sipped his wine, emptied his glass and set it down approvingly.

"Or?" Dominey insisted.

"Or that part of her brain will be more or less permanently affected. However, I am hoping for the best. Thank heavens you're on the spot!"

They finished their dinner almost in silence. Afterwards, they smoked for a few minutes upon the terrace. Then they made their way softly upstairs. The doctor parted with Dominey at the door of the latter's room.

"I shall remain with her for an hour or so," he said. "After that I shall leave her entirely to herself. You'll be here in case there's a change?"

"I shall be here," Dominey promised.

The minutes passed into hours, uncounted, unnoticed. Dominey sat in his easy-chair, stirred by a tumultuous wave of passionate emotion. The memory of those earlier days of his return came back to him with all their poignant longings. He felt again the same tearing at the heart-strings, the same strange, unnerving tenderness. The great world's drama, in which he knew that he, too, would surely continue to play his part, seemed like a thing far off, the concern of another race of men. Every fibre of his being seemed attuned to the magic and the music of one wild hope. Yet when there came what he had listened for so long, the hope seemed frozen into fear. He sat a little forward in his easy-chair, his hands griping its sides, his eyes fixed upon the slowly widening crack in the panel. It was as it had been before. She stooped low, stood up again and came towards him. From behind an unseen hand closed the panel. She came to him with her arms outstretched and all the wonderful things of life and love in her shining eyes. That faint touch of the somnambulist had passed. She came to him as she had never come before. She was a very real and a very live woman.

"Everard!" she cried.

He took her into his arms. At their first kiss she thrilled from head to foot. For a moment she laid her head upon his shoulder.

"Oh, I have been so silly!" she confessed. "There were times when I couldn't believe that you were my Everard--mine! And now I know."

Her lips sought his again, his parched with the desire of years. Along the corridor, the old doctor tiptoed his way to his room, with a pleased smile upon his face.

The Great Impersonation - 50/50

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