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The Lost Word

V. Riches Without Rest
NO outward change came to the House of the Golden Pillars. Everything moved as
smoothly, as delicately, as prosperously, as before. But inwardly there was a subtle,
inexplicable transformation. A vague discontent--a final and inevitable sense of
incompleteness, overshadowed existence from that night when Hermas realized that his
joy could never go beyond itself.
The next morning the old man whom he had seen in the Grove of Daphne, but never
since, appeared mysteriously at the door of the house, as if he had been sent for, and
entered, to dwell there like an invited guest.
Hermas could not but make him welcome, and at first he tried to regard him with
reverence and affection as the one through whom fortune had come. But it was
impossible. There was a chill in the inscrutable smile of Marcion, as he called himself,
that seemed to mock at reverence. He was in the house as one watching a strange
experiment--tranquil, interested, ready to supply anything that might be needed for its
completion, but thoroughly indifferent to the feelings of the subject; an anatomist of life,
looking curiously to see how long it would continue, and how it would behave, after the
heart had been removed.
In his presence Hermas was conscious of a certain irritation, a resentful anger against the
calm, frigid scrutiny of the eyes that followed him everywhere, like a pair of spies,
peering out over the smiling mouth and the long white beard.
"Why do you look at me so curiously?" asked Hermas, one morning, as they sat together
in the library. "Do you see anything strange in me?"
"No," answered Marcion; "something familiar."
"And what is that?"
"A singular likeness to a discontented young man that I met some years ago in the Grove
of Daphne."
"But why should that interest you? Surely it was to be expected."
"A thing that we expect often surprises us when we see it. Besides, my curiosity is
piqued. I suspect you of keeping a secret from me."
"You are jesting with me. There is nothing in my life that you do not know. What is the
secret?"
"Nothing more than the wish to have one. You are growing tired of your bargain. The
game wearies you. That is foolish. Do you want to try a new part?"
 
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