The Midnight Queen (Chapter 2, page 1 of 14)

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Chapter 2

"Well," said Ormiston, drawing a long bath, "what do you think of that?"

"Think? Don't ask me yet." said Sir Norman, looking rather bewildered.
"I'm in such a state of mystification that I don't rightly know whether
I'm standing on my head or feet. For one thing, I have come to the
conclusion that your masked ladylove must be enchantingly beautiful."

"Have I not told you that a thousand times, O thou of little faith? But
why have you come to such a conclusion?"

"Because no woman with such a figure, such a voice and such hands could
be otherwise."

"I knew you would own it some day. Do you wonder now that I love her?"

"Oh! as to loving her," said Sir Norman, coolly, "that's quite another
thing. I could no more love her or her hands, voice, and shape, than I
could a figure in wood or wax; but I admire her vastly, and think her
extremely clever. I will never forget that face in the caldron. It was
the most exquisitely beautiful I ever saw."

"In love with the shadow of a face! Why, you are a thousand-fold more
absurd than I."

"No," said Sir Norman, thoughtfully, "I don't know as I'm in love with
it; but if ever I see a living face like it, I certainly shall be. How
did La Masque do it, I wonder?"

"You had better ask her," said Ormiston, bitterly. "She seems to have
taken an unusual interest in you at first sight. She would strew your
path with roses, forsooth! Nothing earthly, I believe, would make her
say anything half so tender to me."

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