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Stories of Mystery edited by Rossiter Johnson
THE INVISIBLE PRINCESS by FRANCIS O'CONNOR.
"It's the captain's place, not ours," said Smith, "to investigate this affair. Don't be too impulsive; you will get yourself into serious trouble."
"This is no matter of ordinary discipline," said the other; "the captain has a more substantial awe of this man than you or I,--and for more substantial reasons. He was aware of his wealth and power when we were not. How, without his knowledge, could the treasures worth a king's ransom, that adorn yonder coop, have been smuggled in or arranged there? But I am resolved, right or wrong, to do as I said."
I was questioning within myself whether to second him, when the door toward which he was advancing slowly opened, and once more the object of our discussion issued from it, and again in his arms was the beautiful form to which they had proved such a fatal resting-place. But none of the emotions of terror, trustfulness, or affection, which had alternately thrilled it in that position, did it now exhibit. The bright eyes were closed, the beautiful features settled in lasting repose. The glossy hair was daintily braided. The spotless garments were gracefully disposed. The jewels glittered conspicuously, as if relieved from the outvying lustre of her eyes. All, as in life, was pure and perfect; and as in life, so in death, she was still a revelation of transcendent beauty. A snowy winding-sheet, fringed with heavy coins, alternately of gold and of silver, and looped with silken cords on which bunches of the same precious metals hung as tassels, was so disposed that he could enfold her in it without laying her from his arms.
Stepping to the side of the vessel, he stood holding her thus in our view for a few moments; then, deftly and deliberately as usual, he wrapped the preciously weighted linen around her, stepped easily upon the bulwark, and with that perfect and deliberate poise so peculiar to him, and with his burden clasped firmly to his breast, he flung himself far clear of the ship, into the ocean, and was seen no more.
Thus vanished like a dream the romance of my life. Indeed, but for the lurid gleam of this strange jewel, a true type and testimony of it, I might yet grow to persuade myself it was a dream, so wondrous it becomes to me in memory.
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