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The Magician have fled blindly. She began to tremble. She tried to speak, but her tongue clave to her throat. 'I can't, I'm afraid,' she muttered hoarsely. 'You must. Without you we can do nothing,' said Arthur. She could not reason with herself. She had forgotten everything except that she was frightened to death. Her heart was beating so quickly that she almost fainted. And now Arthur held her, so firmly that she winced. 'Let me go,' she whispered. 'I won't help you. I'm afraid.' 'You must,' he said. 'You must.' 'No.' 'I tell you, you must come.' 'Why?' Her deadly fear expressed itself in a passion of sudden anger. 'Because you love me, and it's the only way to give me peace.' She uttered a low wail of pain, and her terror gave way to shame. She blushed to the roots of her hair because he too knew her secret. And then she was seized again with anger because he had the cruelty to taunt her with it. She had recovered her courage now, and she stepped forward. Dr. Porhoet told her where to stand. Arthur took his place in front of her. 'You must not move till I give you leave. If you go outside the figure I have drawn, I cannot protect you.' For a moment Dr Porhoet stood in perfect silence. Then he began to recite strange words in Latin. Susie heard him but vaguely. She did not know the sense, and his voice was so low that she could not have distinguished the words. But his intonation had lost that gentle irony which was habitual to him, and he spoke with a trembling gravity that was extraordinarily impressive. Arthur stood immobile as a rock. The flames died away, and they saw one another only by the glow of the ashes, dimly, like persons in a vision of death. There was silence. Then the necromancer spoke again, and now his voice was louder. He seemed to utter weird invocations, but they were in a tongue that the others knew not. And while he spoke the light from the burning cinders on a sudden went out. It did not die, but was sharply extinguished, as though by invisible hands. And now the darkness was more sombre than that of the blackest night. The trees that surrounded them were hidden from their eyes, and the whiteness of the stone bench was seen no longer. They stood but a little way one from the other, but each might have stood alone. Susie strained her eyes, but she could see nothing. She looked up quickly; the stars were gone out, and she could see no further over her head than round about. The darkness was terrifying. And from it, Dr Porhoet's voice had a ghastly effect. It seemed to come, wonderfully changed, from the void of bottomless chaos. Susie clenched her hands so that she might not faint. All at once she started, for the old man's voice was cut by a sudden gust of wind. A moment before, the utter silence had been almost intolerable, and now a storm seemed to have fallen upon them. The trees all around them rocked in the wind; they heard the branches creak; and they heard the hissing of the leaves. They were in the midst of a hurricane. And they felt the earth sway as it resisted the straining roots of great trees, which 15


The Magician  
The Magician  

W. Somerset Maugham