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III The Heart Of Man Anna Katharine Green

XXIX Do You Know My Brother?

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Her hands were thrust out to repel, her features were fixed; her beauty something wonderful. Orlando Brotherson, thus met, stared for a moment at the vision before him, then slowly and with effort withdrawing his gaze, he sought the face of Mr. Challoner with the first sign of open disturbance that gentleman had ever seen in him.

"Ah," said he, " my welcome is readily understood. I see you far from home, sir." And with an ironical bow he turned again to Doris, who had dropped her hands, but in whose cheeks the pallor still lingered in a way to check the easy flow of words with which he might have sought to carry off the situation. "Am I in Oswald Brotherson's house?" he asked. "I was directed here. But possibly there may be some mistake."

"It is here he lives," said she; moving back automatically till she stood again by the threshold of the small room in which she had received Mr. Challoner. " Do you wish to see him to-night? If so, I fear it is impossible. He has been very ill and is not allowed to receive visits from strangers."

"I am not a stranger," announced the newcomer, with a smile few could see unmoved, it offered such a contrast to his stern and dominating figure. "I thought I heard some words of recognition which would prove your knowledge of that fact."

She did not answer. Her lips had parted, but her thought or at least the expression of her thought hung suspended in the terror of this meeting for which she was not at all prepared. He seemed to note this terror, whether or not he understood its cause, and smiled again, as he added:

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"Mr. Brotherson must have spoken of his brother Orlando. I am he, Miss Scott. Will you let me come in now?"

Her eyes sought those of Mr. Challoner, who quietly nodded. Immediately she stepped from before the door which her figure had guarded and, motioning him to enter, she begged Mr. Challoner, with an imploring look, to sustain her in the interview she saw before her. He had no desire for this encounter, especially as Mr. Brotherson's glance in his direction had been anything but conciliatory. He was quite convinced that nothing was to be gained by it, but he could not resist her appeal, and followed them into the little room whose limited dimensions made the tall Orlando look bigger and stronger and more lordly in his self-confidence than ever.

"I am sorry it is so late," she began, contemplating his intrusive figure with forced composure. "We have to be very quiet in the evenings so as not to disturb your brother's first sleep which is of great importance to him."

"Then I'm not to see him to-night?"

"I pray you to wait. He's - he's been a very sick man."

"Dangerously so?"


Orlando continued to regard her with a peculiar awakening gaze, showing, Mr. Challoner thought, more interest in her than in his brother, and when he spoke it was mechanically and as if in sole obedience to the proprieties of the occasion.

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