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Lilith George MacDonald

I Am Sent

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Her words were terrible with temptation, for I was very weary. And what more likely to be true! If I were, through slavish obedience to the letter of the command and lack of pure insight, to trample under my feet the very person of the Lady of Sorrow! My heart grew faint at the thought, then beat as if it would burst my bosom.

Nevertheless my will hardened itself against my heart, and my step did not falter. I took my tongue between my teeth lest I should unawares answer, and kept on my way. If Adam had sent her, he could not complain that I would not heed her! Nor would the Lady of Sorrow love me the less that even she had not been able to turn me aside!

Just ere I reached the phantom, she pulled the covering from her face: great indeed was her loveliness, but those were not Mara's eyes! no lie could truly or for long imitate them! I advanced as if the thing were not there, and my foot found empty room.

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I had almost reached the other side when a Shadow--I think it was The Shadow, barred my way. He seemed to have a helmet upon his head, but as I drew closer I perceived it was the head itself I saw--so distorted as to bear but a doubtful resemblance to the human. A cold wind smote me, dank and sickening--repulsive as the air of a charnel-house; firmness forsook my joints, and my limbs trembled as if they would drop in a helpless heap. I seemed to pass through him, but I think now that he passed through me: for a moment I was as one of the damned. Then a soft wind like the first breath of a new-born spring greeted me, and before me arose the dawn.

My way now led me past the door of Mara's cottage. It stood wide open, and upon the table I saw a loaf of bread and a pitcher of water. In or around the cottage was neither howl nor wail.

I came to the precipice that testified to the vanished river. I climbed its worn face, and went on into the desert. There at last, after much listening to and fro, I determined the spot where the hidden water was loudest, hung Lilith's hand about my neck, and began to dig. It was a long labour, for I had to make a large hole because of the looseness of the sand; but at length I threw up a damp spadeful. I flung the sexton-tool on the verge, and laid down the hand. A little water was already oozing from under its fingers. I sprang out, and made haste to fill the grave. Then, utterly fatigued, I dropped beside it, and fell asleep.

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