The Evil Shepherd
The three diners lingered for only a short time over their dessert. Afterwards, they passed
together into a very delightful library on the other side of the round, stone-paved hall.
Hilditch excused himself for a moment.
"I have some cigars which I keep in my dressing-room," he explained, "and which I am
anxious for you to try. There is an electric stove there and I can regulate the temperature."
He departed, closing the door behind him. Francis came a little further into the room. His
hostess, who had subsided into an easy-chair and was holding a screen between her face
and the fire, motioned him to, seat himself opposite. He did so without words. He felt
curiously and ridiculously tongue-tied. He fell to studying the woman instead of
attempting the banality of pointless speech. From the smooth gloss of her burnished hair,
to the daintiness of her low, black brocaded shoes, she represented, so far as her physical
and outward self were concerned, absolute perfection. No ornament was amiss, no line or
curve of her figure other than perfectly graceful. Yet even the fire's glow which she had
seemed to dread brought no flush of colour to her cheeks. Her appearance of complete
lifelessness remained. It was as though some sort of crust had formed about her being, a
condition which her very physical perfection seemed to render the more
"You are surprised to see me here living with my husband, after what I told you yesterday
afternoon?" she said calmly, breaking at last the silence which had reigned between them.
"I am," he admitted.
"It seems unnatural to you, I suppose?"
"You still believe all that I told you?"
She looked at the door and raised her head a little, as though either listening or adjudging
the time before her husband would return. Then she glanced across at him once more.
"Hatred," she said, "does not always drive away. Sometimes it attracts. Sometimes the
person who hates can scarcely bear the other out of his sight. That is where hate and love
are somewhat alike."
The room was warm but Francis was conscious of shivering. She raised her finger
warningly. It seemed typical of the woman, somehow, that the message could not be
conveyed by any glance or gesture.