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15 Arthur wished to set about the invocation then and there, but Dr Porhoet said it was impossible. They were all exhausted after the long journey, and it was necessary to get certain things together without which nothing could be done. In his heart he thought that a night's rest would bring Arthur to a more reasonable mind. When the light of day shone upon the earth he would be ashamed of the desire which ran counter to all his prepossessions. But Arthur remembered that on the next day it would be exactly a week since Margaret's death, and it seemed to him that then their spells might have a greater efficacy. When they came down in the morning and greeted one another, it was plain that none of them had slept. 'Are you still of the same purpose as last night?' asked Dr Porhoet gravely. 'I am.' The doctor hesitated nervously. 'It will be necessary, if you wish to follow out the rules of the old necromancers, to fast through the whole day.' 'I am ready to do anything.' 'It will be no hardship to me,' said Susie, with a little hysterical laugh. 'I feel I couldn't eat a thing if I tried.' 'I think the whole affair is sheer folly,' said Dr Porhoet. 'You promised me you would try.' The day, the long summer day, passed slowly. There was a hard brilliancy in the sky that reminded the Frenchman of those Egyptian heavens when the earth seemed crushed beneath a bowl of molten fire. Arthur was too restless to remain indoors and left the others to their own devices. He walked without aim, as fast as he could go; he felt no weariness. The burning sun beat down upon him, but he did not know it. The hours passed with lagging feet. Susie lay on her bed and tried to read. Her nerves were so taut that, when there was a sound in the courtyard of a pail falling on the cobbles, she cried out in terror. The sun rose, and presently her window was flooded with quivering rays of gold. It was midday. The day passed, and it was afternoon. The evening came, but it brought no freshness. Meanwhile Dr Porhoet sat in the little parlour, with his head between his hands, trying by a great mental effort to bring back to his memory all that he had read. His heart began to beat more quickly. Then the night fell, and one by one the stars shone out. There was no wind. The air was heavy. Susie came downstairs and began to talk with Dr Porhoet. But they spoke in a low tone, as if they were afraid that someone would overhear. They were faint now with want of food. The hours went one by one, and the striking of a clock filled them each time with a mysterious apprehension. The lights in the village were put out little by little, and everybody slept. Susie had lighted the lamp, and they watched beside it. A cold shiver passed through her. 'I feel as though someone were lying dead in the room,' she said. 'Why does not Arthur come?' They spoke inconsequently, and neither heeded what the other said. The window was wide open, but the air was difficult to breathe. And now the silence was so unusual that Susie grew strangely nervous. She tried to 15

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The Magician  
The Magician  

W. Somerset Maugham

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