The Light of Western Stars
Part 8 out of 8
rallied. The velocity of the car had been cut to the speed to
which she was accustomed. Throwing back the hood, she breathed
freely again, recovered fully.
The car was bowling along a wide road upon the outskirts of a
city. Madeline asked what place it could be.
"Douglas," replied Link. "An' jest around is Agua Prieta!"
That last name seemed to stun Madeline. She heard no more, and
saw little until the car stopped. Nels spoke to some one. Then
sight of khaki-clad soldiers quickened Madeline's faculties. She
was on the boundary-line between the United States and Mexico,
and Agua Prieta, with its white and blue walled houses, its
brown-tiled roofs, lay before her. A soldier, evidently
despatched by Nels, returned and said an officer would come at
once. Madeline's attention was centered in the foreground, upon
the guard over the road, upon the dry, dusty town beyond; but she
was aware of noise and people in the rear. A cavalry officer
approached the car, stared, and removed his sombrero.
"Can you tell me anything about Stewart, the American cowboy who
was captured by rebels a few days ago?" asked Madeline.
"Yes," replied the officer. "There was a skirmish over the line
between a company of Federals and a large force of guerrillas and
rebels. The Federals were driven west along the line. Stewart
is reported to have done reckless fighting and was captured. He
got a Mexican sentence. He is known here along the border, and
the news of his capture stirred up excitement. We did all we
could to get his release. The guerrillas feared to execute him
here, and believed he might be aided to escape. So a detachment
departed with him for Mezquital."
"He was sentenced to be shot Thursday at sunset--to-night?"
"Yes. It was rumored there was a personal resentment against
Stewart. I regret that I can't give you definite information.
If you are friends of Stewart--relatives--I might find--"
"I am his wife," interrupted Madeline. "Will you please read
these." She handed him the telegrams. "Advise me--help me, if
With a wondering glance at her the officer received the
telegrams. He read several, and whistled low in amaze. His
manner became quick, alert, serious.
"I can't read these written in Spanish, but I know the names
signed." Swiftly he ran through the others.
"Why, these mean Stewart's release has been authorized. They
explain mysterious rumors we have heard here. Greaser treachery!
For some strange reason messages from the rebel junta have failed
to reach their destination. We heard reports of an exchange for
Stewart, but nothing came of it. No one departed for Mezquital
with authority. What an outrage! Come, I'll go with you to
General Salazar, the rebel chief in command. I know him.
Perhaps we can find out something."
Nels made room for the officer. Link sent the car whirring
across the line into Mexican territory. Madeline's sensibilities
were now exquisitely alive. The white road led into Agua Prieta,
a town of colored walls and roofs. Goats and pigs and buzzards
scattered before the roar of the machine. Native women wearing
black mantles peeped through iron-barred windows. Men wearing
huge sombreros, cotton shirts and trousers, bright sashes round
their waists, and sandals, stood motionless, watching the car go
by. The road ended in an immense plaza, in the center of which
was a circular structure that in some measure resembled a corral.
It was a bull-ring, where the national sport of bull-fighting was
carried on. Just now it appeared to be quarters for a
considerable army. Ragged, unkempt rebels were everywhere, and
the whole square was littered with tents, packs, wagons, arms.
There were horses, mules, burros, and oxen.
The place was so crowded that Link was compelled to drive slowly
up to the entrance to the bull-ring. Madeline caught a glimpse
of tents inside, then her view was obstructed by a curious,
pressing throng. The cavalry officer leaped from the car and
pushed his way into the entrance.
"Link, do you know the road to this Mezquital?" asked Madeline.
"Yes. I've been there."
"How far is it?"
"Aw, not so very far," he mumbled.
"Link! How many miles?" she implored.
"I reckon only a few."
Madeline knew that he lied. She asked him no more; nor looked at
him, nor at Nels. How stifling was this crowded, ill-smelling
plaza! The sun, red and lowering, had sloped far down in the
west, but still burned with furnace heat. A swarm of flies
whirled over the car. The shadows of low-sailing buzzards
crossed Madeline's sight. Then she saw a row of the huge,
uncanny black birds sitting upon the tiled roof of a house. They
had neither an air of sleeping nor resting. They were waiting.
She fought off a horrible ghastly idea before its full
realization. These rebels and guerrillas--what lean, yellow,
bearded wretches! They curiously watched Link as he went working
over the car. No two were alike, and all were ragged. They had
glittering eyes sunk deep in their heads. They wore huge
sombreros of brown and black felt, of straw, of cloth. Every man
wore a belt or sash into which was thrust some kind of weapon.
Some wore boots, some shoes, some moccasins, some sandals, and
many were barefooted. They were an excited, jabbering,
gesticulating mob. Madeline shuddered to think how a frenzy to
spill blood could run through these poor revolutionists. If it
was liberty they fought for, they did not show the intelligence
in their faces. They were like wolves upon a scent. They
affronted her, shocked her. She wondered if their officers were
men of the same class. What struck her at last and stirred pity
in her was the fact that every man of the horde her swift glance
roamed over, however dirty and bedraggled he was, wore upon him
some ornament, some tassel or fringe or lace, some ensign, some
band, bracelet, badge, or belt, some twist of scarf, something
that betrayed the vanity which was the poor jewel of their souls.
It was in the race.
Suddenly the crowd parted to let the cavalry officer and a rebel
of striking presence get to the car.
"Madam, it is as I suspected," said the officer, quickly. "The
messages directing Stewart's release never reached Salazar. They
were intercepted. But even without them we might have secured
Stewart's exchange if it had not been for the fact that one of
his captors wanted him shot. This guerrilla intercepted the
orders, and then was instrumental in taking Stewart to Mezquital.
It is exceedingly sad. Why, he should be a free man this
instant. I regret--"
"Who did this--this thing?" cried Madeline, cold and sick. "Who
is the guerrilla?"
"Senor Don Carlos Martinez. He has been a bandit, a man of
influence in Sonora. He is more of a secret agent in the affairs
of the revolution than an active participator. But he has seen
"Don Carlos! Stewart in his power! O God!" Madeline sank down,
almost overcome. Then two great hands, powerful, thrilling,
clasped her shoulders, and Nels bent over her.
"Miss Majesty, shore we're wastin' time here," he said. His
voice, like his hands, was uplifting. She wheeled to him in
trembling importunity. How cold, bright, blue the flash of his
eyes! They told Madeline she must not weaken. But she could not
speak her thought to Nels--could only look at Link.
"It figgers impossible, but I'll do it!" said Link Stevens, in
answer to her voiceless query. The cold, grim, wild something
about her cowboys blanched Madeline's face, steeled her nerve,
called to the depths of her for that last supreme courage of a
woman. The spirit of the moment was nature with Link and Nels;
with her it must be passion.
"Can I get a permit to go into the interior--to Mezquital?" asked
Madeline of the officer.
"You are going on? Madam, it's a forlorn hope. Mezquital is a
hundred miles away. But there's a chance--the barest chance if
your man can drive this car. The Mexicans are either murderous
or ceremonious in their executions. The arrangements for
Stewart's will be elaborate. But, barring unusual circumstances,
it will take place precisely at the hour designated. You need no
permit. Your messages are official papers. But to save time,
perhaps delay, I suggest you take this Mexican, Senor Montes,
with you. He outranks Don Carlos and knows the captain of the
"Ah! Then Don Carlos is not in command of the forces holding
"I thank you, sir. I shall not forget your kindness," concluded
She bowed to Senor Montes, and requested him to enter the car.
Nels stowed some of the paraphernalia away, making room in the
rear seat. Link bent over the wheel. The start was so sudden,
with such crack and roar, that the crowd split in wild disorder.
Out of the plaza the car ran, gathering headway; down a street
lined by white and blue walls; across a square where rebels were
building barricades; along a railroad track full of iron
flat-cars that carried mounted pieces of artillery; through the
outlying guards, who waved to the officer, Montes.
Madeline bound her glasses tightly over her eyes, and wound veils
round the lower part of her face. She was all in a strange glow,
she had begun to burn, to throb, to thrill, to expand, and she
meant to see all that was possible. The sullen sun, red as fire,
hung over the mountain range in the west. How low it had sunk!
Before her stretched a narrow, white road, dusty, hard as stone--
a highway that had been used for centuries. If it had been wide
enough to permit passing a vehicle it would have been a
magnificent course for automobiles. But the weeds and the dusty
flowers and the mesquite boughs and arms of cactus brushed the
car as it sped by.
Faster, faster, faster! That old resistless weight began to
press Madeline back; the old incessant bellow of wind filled her
ears. Link Stevens hunched low over the wheel. His eyes were
hidden under leather helmet and goggles, but the lower part of
his face was unprotected. He resembled a demon, so dark and
stone-hard and strangely grinning was he. All at once Madeline
realized how matchless, how wonderful a driver was this cowboy.
She divined that weakening could not have been possible to Link
Stevens. He was a cowboy, and he really was riding that car,
making it answer to his will, as it had been born in him to
master a horse. He had never driven to suit himself, had never
reached an all-satisfying speed until now. Beyond that his
motive was to save Stewart--to make Madeline happy. Life was
nothing to him. That fact gave him the superhuman nerve to face
the peril of this ride. Because of his disregard of self he was
able to operate the machine, to choose the power, the speed, the
guidance, the going with the best judgment and highest efficiency
possible. Madeline knew he would get her to Mezquital in time to
save Stewart or he would kill her in the attempt.
The white, narrow road flashed out of the foreground, slipped
with inconceivable rapidity under the car. When she marked a
clump of cactus far ahead it seemed to shoot at her, to speed
behind her even the instant she noticed it. Nevertheless,
Madeline knew Link was not putting the car to its limit. Swiftly
as he was flying, he held something in reserve. But he took the
turns of the road as if he knew the way was cleared before him.
He trusted to a cowboy's luck. A wagon in one of those curves, a
herd of cattle, even a frightened steer, meant a wreck. Madeline
never closed her eyes at these fateful moments. If Link could
stake himself, the others, and her upon such chance, what could
not she stake with her motive? So while the great car hummed and
thrummed, and darted round the curves on two wheels, and sped on
like a bullet, Madeline lived that ride, meant to feel it to the
But it was not all swift going. A stretch of softer ground
delayed Link, made the car labor and pant and pound and grind
through gravel. Moreover, the cactus plants assumed an alarming
ability to impede progress. Long, slender arms of the ocotillo
encroached upon the road; broad, round leaves did likewise;
fluted columns, fallen like timbers in a forest, lay along the
narrow margins; the bayonet cactus and the bisnagi leaned
threateningly; clusters of maguey, shadowed by the huge, looming
saguaro, infringed upon the highway to Mezquital. And every leaf
and blade and branch of cactus bore wicked thorns, any one of
which would be fatal to a tire.
It came at length, the bursting report. The car lurched, went on
like a crippled thing, and halted, obedient to the master hand at
the wheel. Swift as Link was in replacing the tire, he lost
time. The red sun, more sullen, duskier as it neared the black,
bold horizon, appeared to mock Madeline, to eye her in derision.
Link leaped in, and the car sprang ahead. The road-bed changed,
the trees changed--all the surroundings changed except the
cactus. There were miles of rolling ridges, rough in the
hollows, and short rocky bits of road, and washes to cross, and a
low, sandy swale where mesquites grouped a forest along a
trickling inch-deep sheet of water. Green things softened the
hard, dry aspect of the desert. There were birds and parrots and
deer and wild boars. All these Madeline remarked with clear
eyes, with remarkable susceptibility of attention; but what she
strained to see, what she yearned for, prayed for, was straight,
But the road began to wind up; it turned and twisted in
tantalizing lazy curves; it was in no hurry to surmount a hill
that began to assume proportions of a mountain; it was leisurely,
as were all things in Mexico except strife. That was quick,
fierce, bloody--it was Spanish.
The descent from that elevation was difficult, extremely
hazardous, yet Link Stevens drove fast. At the base of the hill
rocks and sand all but halted him for good. Then in taking an
abrupt curve a grasping spear ruined another tire. This time the
car rasped across the road into the cactus, bursting the second
front-wheel tire. Like demons indeed Link and Nels worked.
Shuddering, Madeline felt the declining heat of the sun, saw with
gloomy eyes the shading of the red light over the desert. She
did not look back to see how near the sun was to the horizon.
She wanted to ask Nels. Strange as anything on this terrible ride
was the absence of speech. As yet no word had been spoken.
Madeline wanted to shriek to Link to hurry. But he was more than
humanly swift in all his actions. So with mute lips, with the
fire in her beginning to chill, with a lifelessness menacing her
spirit, she watched, hoped against hope, prayed for a long,
straight, smooth road.
Quite suddenly she saw it, seemingly miles of clear, narrow lane
disappearing like a thin, white streak in distant green. Perhaps
Link Stevens's heart leaped like Madeline's. The huge car with a
roar and a jerk seemed to answer Madeline's call, a cry no less
poignant because it was silent.
Faster, faster, faster! The roar became a whining hum. Then for
Madeline sound ceased to be anything--she could not hear. The
wind was now heavy, imponderable, no longer a swift, plastic
thing, but solid, like an on-rushing wall. It bore down upon
Madeline with such resistless weight that she could not move.
The green of desert plants along the road merged in two shapeless
fences, sliding at her from the distance. Objects ahead began to
blur the white road, to grow streaky, like rays of light, the sky
to take on more of a reddening haze.
Madeline, realizing her sight was failing her, turned for one
more look at Link Stevens. It had come to be his ride almost as
much as it was hers. He hunched lower than ever, rigid, strained
to the last degree, a terrible, implacable driver. This was his
hour, and he was great. If he so much as brushed a flying tire
against one of the millions of spikes clutching out, striking out
from the cactus, there would be a shock, a splitting wave of air-
-an end. Madeline thought she saw that Link's bulging cheek and
jaw were gray, that his tight-shut lips were white, that the
smile was gone. Then he really was human--not a demon. She felt
a strange sense of brotherhood. He understood a woman's soul as
Monty Price had understood it. Link was the lightning-forged
automaton, the driving, relentless, unconquerable instrument of a
woman's will. He was a man whose force was directed by a woman's
passion. He reached up to her height, felt her love, understood
the nature of her agony. These made him heroic. But it was the
hard life, the wild years of danger on the desert, the
companionship of ruthless men, the elemental, that made possible
his physical achievement. Madeline loved his spirit then and
gloried in the man.
She had pictured upon her heart, never to be forgotten, this
little hunched, deformed figure of Link's hanging with dauntless,
with deathless grip over the wheel, his gray face like a marble
That was Madeline's last clear sensation upon the ride. Blinded,
dazed, she succumbed to the demands upon her strength. She
reeled, fell back, only vaguely aware of a helping hand.
Confusion seized her senses. All about her was a dark chaos
through which she was rushing, rushing, rushing under the
wrathful red eye of a setting sun. Then, as there was no more
sound or sight for her, she felt there was no color. But the
rush never slackened--a rush through opaque, limitless space. For
moments, hours, ages she was propelled with the velocity of a
shooting-star. The earth seemed a huge automobile. And it sped
with her down an endless white track through the universe.
Looming, ghostly, ghastly, spectral forms of cacti plants, large
as pine-trees, stabbed her with giant spikes. She became an
unstable being in a shapeless, colorless, soundless cosmos of
unrelated things, but always rushing, even to meet the darkness
that haunted her and never reached her.
But at an end of infinite time that rush ceased. Madeline lost
the queer feeling of being disembodied by a frightfully swift
careening through boundless distance. She distinguished voices,
low at first, apparently far away. Then she opened her eyes to
blurred but conscious sight.
The car had come to a stop. Link was lying face down over the
wheel. Nels was rubbing her hands, calling to her. She saw a
house with clean whitewashed wall and brown-tiled roof. Beyond,
over a dark mountain range, peeped the last red curve, the last
beautiful ray of the setting sun.
XXV At the End of the Road
Madeline saw that the car was surrounded by armed Mexicans. They
presented a contrast to the others she had seen that day; she
wondered a little at their silence, at their respectful front.
Suddenly a sharp spoken order opened up the ranks next to the
house. Senor Montes appeared in the break, coming swiftly. His
dark face wore a smile; his manner was courteous, important,
"Senora, it is not too late!"
He spoke her language with an accent strange to her, so that it
seemed to hinder understanding.
"Senora, you got here in time," he went on. "El Capitan Stewart
will be free."
"Free!" she whispered.
She rose, reeling.
"Come," replied Montes, taking her arm. "Perdoneme, Senora."
Without his assistance she would have fallen wholly upon Nels,
who supported her on the other side. They helped her alight from
the car. For a moment the white walls, the hazy red sky, the
dark figures of the rebels, whirled before Madeline's eyes. She
took a few steps, swaying between her escorts; then the confusion
of her sight and mind passed away. It was as if she quickened
with a thousand vivifying currents, as if she could see and hear
and feel everything in the world, as if nothing could be
overlooked, forgotten, neglected.
She turned back, remembering Link. He was lurching from the car,
helmet and goggles thrust back, the gray shade gone from his
face, the cool, bright gleam of his eyes disappearing for
Senor Montes led Madeline and her cowboys through a hall to a
patio, and on through a large room with flooring of rough, bare
boards that rattled, into a smaller room full of armed quiet
rebels facing an open window.
Madeline scanned the faces of these men, expecting to see Don
Carlos. But he was not present. A soldier addressed her in
Spanish too swiftly uttered, too voluble for her to translate.
But, like Senor Montes, he was gracious and, despite his ragged
garb and uncouth appearance, he bore the unmistakable stamp of
Montes directed Madeline's attention to a man by the window. A
loose scarf of vivid red hung from his hand.
"Senora, they were waiting for the sun to set when we arrived,"
said Montes. "The signal was about to be given for Senor
Stewart's walk to death."
"Stewart's walk!" echoed Madeline.
"Ah, Senora, let me tell you his sentence--the sentence I have
had the honor and happiness to revoke for you."
Stewart had been court-martialed and sentenced according to a
Mexican custom observed in cases of brave soldiers to whom
honorable and fitting executions were due. His hour had been set
for Thursday when the sun had sunk. Upon signal he was to be
liberated and was free to walk out into the road, to take any
direction he pleased. He knew his sentence; knew that death
awaited him, that every possible avenue of escape was blocked by
men with rifles ready. But he had not the slightest idea at what
moment or from what direction the bullets were to come.
"Senora, we have sent messengers to every squad of waiting
soldiers--an order that El Capitan is not to be shot. He is
ignorant of his release. I shall give the signal for his
Montes was ceremonious, gallant, emotional. Madeline saw his
pride, and divined that the situation was one which brought out
the vanity, the ostentation, as well as the cruelty of his race.
He would keep her in an agony of suspense, let Stewart start upon
that terrible walk in ignorance of his freedom. It was the
motive of a Spaniard. Suddenly Madeline had a horrible quaking
fear that Montes lied, that he meant her to be a witness of
Stewart's execution. But no, the man was honest; he was only
barbarous. He would satisfy certain instincts of his nature--
sentiment, romance, cruelty--by starting Stewart upon that walk,
by watching Stewart's actions in the face of seeming death, by
seeing Madeline's agony of doubt, fear, pity, love. Almost
Madeline felt that she could not endure the situation. She was
weak and tottering.
"Senora! Ah, it will be one beautiful thing!" Montes caught the
scarf from the rebel's hand. He was glowing, passionate; his
eyes had a strange, soft, cold flash; his voice was low, intense.
He was living something splendid to him. "I'll wave the scarf,
Senora. That will be the signal. It will be seen down at the
other end of the road. Senor Stewart's jailer will see the
signal, take off Stewart's irons, release him, open the door for
his walk. Stewart will be free. But he will not know. He will
expect death. As he is a brave man, he will face it. He will
walk this way. Every step of that walk he will expect to be shot
from some unknown quarter. But he will not be afraid. Senora, I
have seen El Captain fighting in the field. What is death to
him? Ah, will it not be magnificent to see him come forth--to
walk down? Senora, you will see what a man he is. All the way
he will expect cold, swift death. Here at this end of the road
he will meet his beautiful lady!"
"Is there no--no possibility of a mistake?" faltered Madeline.
"None. My order included unloading of rifles."
"He is in irons, and must answer to General Salazar," replied
Madeline looked down the deserted road. How strange to see the
last ruddy glow of the sun over the brow of the mountain range!
The thought of that sunset had been torture for her. Yet it had
passed, and now the afterlights were luminous, beautiful,
With a heart stricken by both joy and agony, she saw Montes wave
Then she waited. No change manifested itself down the length of
that lonely road. There was absolute silence in the room behind
her. How terribly, infinitely long seemed the waiting! Never in
all her future life would she forget the quaint pink, blue, and
white walled houses with their colored roofs. That dusty bare
road resembled one of the uncovered streets of Pompeii with its
look of centuries of solitude.
Suddenly a door opened and a tall man stepped out.
Madeline recognized Stewart. She had to place both hands on the
window-sill for support, while a storm of emotion swayed her.
Like a retreating wave it rushed away. Stewart lived. He was
free. He had stepped out into the light. She had saved him.
Life changed for her in that instant of realization and became
sweet, full, strange.
Stewart shook hands with some one in the doorway. Then he looked
up and down the road. The door closed behind him. Leisurely he
rolled a cigarette, stood close to the wall while he scratched a
match. Even at that distance Madeline's keen eyes caught the
small flame, the first little puff of smoke.
Stewart then took to the middle of the road and leisurely began
To Madeline he appeared natural, walked as unconcernedly as if he
were strolling for pleasure; but the absence of any other living
thing, the silence, the red haze, the surcharged atmosphere--
these were all unnatural. From time to time Stewart stopped to
turn face forward toward houses and corners. Only silence
greeted these significant moves of his. Once he halted to roll
and light another cigarette. After that his step quickened.
Madeline watched him, with pride, love, pain, glory combating for
a mastery over her. This walk of his seemingly took longer than
all her hours of awakening, of strife, of remorse, longer than
the ride to find him. She felt that it would be impossible for
her to wait till he reached the end of the road. Yet in the
hurry and riot of her feelings she had fleeting panics. What
could she say to him? How meet him? Well she remembered the
tall, powerful form now growing close enough to distinguish its
dress. Stewart's face was yet only a dark gleam. Soon she would
see it--long before he could know she was there. She wanted to
run to meet him. Nevertheless, she stood rooted to her covert
behind the window, living that terrible walk with him to the
uttermost thought of home, sister, mother, sweetheart, wife, life
itself--every thought that could come to a man stalking to meet
his executioners. With all that tumult in her mind and heart
Madeline still fell prey to the incomprehensible variations of
emotion possible to a woman. Every step Stewart took thrilled
her. She had some strange, subtle intuition that he was not
unhappy, and that he believed beyond shadow of doubt that he was
walking to his death. His steps dragged a little, though they
had begun to be swift. The old, hard, physical, wild nerve of
the cowboy was perhaps in conflict with spiritual growth of the
finer man, realizing too late that life ought not to be
Then the dark gleam that was his face took shape, grew sharper
and clearer. He was stalking now, and there was a suggestion of
impatience in his stride. It took these hidden Mexicans a long
time to kill him! At a point in the middle of the road, even
with the corner of a house and opposite to Madeline's position,
Stewart halted stock-still. He presented a fair, bold mark to
his executioners, and he stood there motionless a full moment.
Only silence greeted him. Plain it was to Madeline, and she
thought to all who had eyes to see, that to Stewart, since for
some reason he had been spared all along his walk, this was the
moment when he ought to be mercifully shot. But as no shots came
a rugged dignity left him for a reckless scorn manifest in the
way he strolled, across to the corner of the house, rolled yet
another cigarette, and, presenting a broad breast to the window,
smoked and waited.
That wait was almost unendurable for Madeline. Perhaps it was
only a moment, several moments at the longest, but the time
seemed a year. Stewart's face was scornful, hard. Did he
suspect treachery on the part of his captors, that they meant to
play with him as a cat with a mouse, to murder him at leisure?
Madeline was sure she caught the old, inscrutable, mocking smile
fleeting across his lips. He held that position for what must
have been a reasonable time to his mind, then with a laugh and a
shrug he threw the cigarette into the road. He shook his head as
if at the incomprehensible motives of men who could have no fair
reasons now for delay.
He made a sudden violent action that was more than a
straightening of his powerful frame. It was the old instinctive
violence. Then he faced north. Madeline read his thought, knew
he was thinking of her, calling her a last silent farewell. He
would serve her to his last breath, leave her free, keep his
secret. That picture of him, dark-browed, fire-eyed, strangely
sad and strong, sank indelibly into Madeline's heart of hearts.
The next instant he was striding forward, to force by bold and
scornful presence a speedy fulfilment of his sentence.
Madeline stepped into the door, crossed the threshold. Stewart
staggered as if indeed the bullets he expected had pierced him in
mortal wound. His dark face turned white. His eyes had the rapt
stare, the wild fear of a man who saw an apparition, yet who
doubted his sight. Perhaps he had called to her as the Mexicans
called to their Virgin; perhaps he imagined sudden death had come
unawares, and this was her image appearing to him in some other
"Who--are--you?" he whispered, hoarsely.
She tried to lift her hands, failed, tried again, and held them
"It is I. Majesty. Your wife!"
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