BLTC Press Titles

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The Story of Doctor Dolittle

Hugh Lofting

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

Through the Looking Glass

Lewis Carroll

Zella sees herself

by E. M. Delafield


Louis de Kervoyou crumpled the telegram into the waste-paper basket. He sat at the writing-table in the bay-window of the study, where the blind was not drawn, and looked out at the garden, still brilliant with autumn flowers.

The door opened, and his only child, Zella, came in.

She was a slender little thing, very small for her age, with beautiful grey eyes and thick soft hair of a peculiarly pale brown colour. Her face was pale and stained with tears. Louis had hardly seen her since the preceding evening, when he had himself told her of her mother's death.

She crept towards him now, half timidly, and he held out his hand. Zella flung herself on the floor beside him, and leant her head, that ached from crying, against his knee.

"Poor child !" said Louis very gently, and stroked the brown hair. But his gaze was far away over the distant hills.

"Papa—may I—may I "said Zella, half choked.

"May you what, my dear ?" Louis's voice was as usual, though Zella spoke in a half-whisper, but there was an underlying note of despairing weariness in his level tones.

"Come with you and see hej V said Zella, with a fresh outburst of tears.

"Why V

The question startled Zella, and jarred upon her, gently though it had been spoken.

"Because," she sobbed—" because—oh, don't you understand ?—to say good-bye to her?"

"She is not there," said Louis very steadily. "Your mother's spirit is not there. All that was her is gone. She would not wish you to see what is left, my poor little child!"

There was a silence. Zella was crying again.
Presently he spoke to her softly:

"Zella, try and stop crying, mignonne. You will make yourself ill."

"I can't—I can't—I wish I was dead, too."

Louis spoke no more. Presently a servant came in half hesitatingly, and announced that the clergyman was waiting; and he rose instantly and went into the hall, where Zella heard a sub/lued murmur of voices. Only one sentence reached her, spoken by her father.

"I wish it to be at once. To-day is Monday—on Thursday afternoon, then."

Zella guessed, with a pang that made her feel physically sick, that they were speaking of her mother's funeral. She fled away through the other door of the study, and gained her own room, where she lay on the bed unable to cry any more, until a pitying maid brought her a cup of tea.

"Try and drink it, Miss Zella dear; it'll do you good," said the maid, sobbing.

"I can't—take it away," moaned Zella, although she was faint from crying and want of food.

"Oh, Miss Zella dear, you must. Whatever will your poor papa do if you're ill! you've got to be a comfort to him now."

Zella sobbed drearily.

"Do try and take just a drop, like a dear. Sophia!" cried the maid in a sort of subdued call, as another servant went past the open door, and cast a pitying look at the little prone figure on the bed.

"Sophia ! whatever can I do with Miss Zella if she won't eat nor drink? I tell her she'll be ill—won't she ?—if she goes on crying so."

"And she didn't eat a morsel of breakfast, either," chimed in Sophia.

"Come, Miss Zella, do have a try, like a dear!"

The two servants coaxed and implored the child, the violence of whose sobs had now redoubled, until she at length sat up and choked over a few mouthfuls of the tea, long since grown cold.

"That's a brave young lady," said the kind maids admiringly as they went away, whispering to one another that poor Miss Zella had a terrible amount of feeling, and had been crying all night.

"The master, he hasn't shed a tear yet. Stunned, I believe," said Sophia.

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