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   Chapter:   1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

The Romance Of Goldenstar


By George Griffith

A Classic Love Tale

The Romance of Golden Star
PROLOGUE
I
HIS HIGHNESS THE MUMMY
'Ah, what a thing it would be for us if his Inca Highness were really only asleep, as he looks to
be! Just think what he could tell us—how easily he could re-create that lost wonderland of his
for us, what riddles he could answer, what lies he could contradict. And then think of all the lost
treasures that he could show us the way to. Upon my word, if Mephistopheles were to walk into
this room just now, I think I should be tempted to make a bargain with him. Do you know,
Djama, I believe I would give half the remainder of my own life, whatever that may be, to learn
the secrets that were once locked up in that withered, desiccated brain of his.'
The speaker was one of two men who were standing in a large room, half-study, halfmuseum
,[Pg 2] in a big, old-fashioned house in Maida Vale. Wherever the science of archæology
was studied, Professor Martin Lamson was known as the highest living authority on the subject
of the antiquities of South America. He had just returned from a year's relic-hunting in Peru and
Bolivia, and was enjoying the luxury of unpacking his treasures with the almost boyish delight
which, under such circumstances, comes only to the true enthusiast. His companion was a
somewhat slenderly-built man, of medium height, whose clear, olive skin, straight, black hair,
and deep blue-black eyes betrayed a not very remote Eastern origin.
Dr Laurens Djama was a physiologist, whose rapidly-acquired fame—he was barely thirtytwo—
would have been considered sounder by his professional brethren if it had not been, as
they thought, impaired by excursions into by-ways of science which were believed to lead him
perilously near to the borders of occultism. Five years before he had pulled the professor through
a very bad attack of the calentura in Panama, where they met by the merest traveller's chance,
and since then they had been fast friends.
They were standing over a long packing-case, some seven feet in length and two and a-half in
breadth, in which lay, at full length, wrapped in grave-clothes that had once been gaily coloured,
but which were now faded and grey with the[Pg 3] grave-dust, the figure of a man with hands
crossed over the breast, dead to all appearances, and yet so gruesomely lifelike that it seemed
hard to believe that the broad, muscular chest over which the crossed hands lay was not actually
heaving and falling with the breath of life.
The face had been uncovered. It was that of a man still in the early prime of life. The dull
brown hair was long and thick, the features somewhat aquiline, and stamped even in death with
an almost royal dignity. The skin was of a pale bronze, though darkened by the hues of death.
Yet every detail of the face was so perfect and so life-like that, as the professor had said, it
seemed to be rather the face of a man in a deep sleep than that of an Inca prince who must have
been dead and buried for over three hundred years. The closed eyes, though somewhat sunken in
their sockets, were the eyes of sleep rather than of death, and the lids seemed to lie so lightly
over them that it looked as though one awakening touch would raise them.
'It is beyond all question the most perfect specimen of a mummy that I have seen,' said the
doctor, stooping down and drawing his thin, nervous fingers very lightly over the dried skin of
the right cheek. 'On my honour, I simply can't believe that His Highness, as you call him, ever
really went to the other world by any of the[Pg 4] orthodox routes. If you could imagine an
absolute suspension of all the vital functions induced by the influence of something—some drug
or hypnotic process unknown to modern science, brought into action on a human being in the
very prime of his vital strength—then, so far as I can see, the results of that influence would be
exactly what you see here.'
'But surely that can't be anything but a dream. How could it be possible to bring all the vital
functions to a dead stop like that, and yet keep them in such a state that it might be possible—for
that's what I suppose you are driving at—to start them into activity again, just as one might wind
up a clock that had been stopped for a few weeks and set it going?'
'My dear fellow, the borderland between life and death is so utterly unknown to the very best
of us that there is no telling what frightful possibilities there may be lying hidden under the
shadows that hang over it. You know as well as I do that there are perfectly well authenticated
instances on record of Hindoo Fakirs who have allowed themselves to be placed in a state of
suspended animation and had their tongues turned back into their throats, their mouths and noses
covered with clay, and have been buried in graves that have been filled up and had sentries
watching day and night over them for as long a period as[Pg 5] six weeks, and then have been dug
up and restored to perfect health and strength again in a few hours. Now, if life can be suspended
for six weeks and then restored to an organism which, from all physiological standpoints, must
be regarded as inanimate, why not for six years or six hundred years, for the matter of that?
Given once the possibility, which we may assume as proved, of a restoration to life after total
suspension of animation, then it only becomes a question of preservation of tissue for more or
less indefinite periods. Granted that tissue can be so preserved, then, given the other possibility
already proved, and—well, we will talk about the other possibility afterwards. Now, tell me,
don't you, as an archæologist, see anything peculiar about this Inca prince of yours?'
The professor had been looking keenly at his friend during the delivery of this curious
physiological lecture. He seemed as though he were trying to read the thoughts that were chasing
each other through his brain behind the impenetrable mask of that smooth, broad forehead of his.
He looked into his eyes, but saw nothing there save a cold, steady light that he had often seen
before when the doctor was discussing subjects that interested him deeply. As for his face, it was
utterly impassive—the face of a dispassionate scientist quietly discussing the[Pg 6] possible
solution of a problem that had been laid before him. Whether his friend was really driving at
some unheard-of and unearthly solution of the problem which he himself had raised, or whether
he was merely discussing the possible issue of some abstract question in physiology, he was
utterly unable to discover, and so he thought it best to confine himself to the matter in hand,
without hazarding any risky guesses that might possibly result in his own confusion. So he
answered as quietly as he could:
'Yes, I must confess that there are two perhaps very important points of difference between
this and any other Peruvian mummy that I have ever seen or heard of.'
'Ah, I thought so,' said Djama, half closing his eyes and allowing just the ghost of a smile to
flit across his lips. 'I thought I knew enough about archæology and the science of mummies in
general to expect you to say that. Now, just for the gratification of my own vanity, I should like
to try and anticipate what you are going to say; and if I'm wrong, well, of course, I shall only be
too happy to be contradicted.'
'Very well,' laughed the professor; 'say on!'
'Well, in the first place, I believe I'm right in saying that all Peruvian mummies that have so
far been discovered have been found in a sitting posture, with the legs drawn close up to[Pg 7] the
body by means of bindings and burial-clothes, so that the chin rested between the knees, while
the arms were brought round the legs and folded over them. Then, again, these mummies have
always been found in an upright position, while you found this one lying down.'
'Quite so, quite so!' said the professor. 'In fact, I may say that no one save myself has ever
discovered such a mummy as this among all the thousands that have been taken out of Peruvian
burying-places. And now, what is your other point?'
'Simply this,' said Djama, kneeling down beside the case, and laying his hands over the
abdomen of the recumbent figure. 'In the case of all mummies, whether Egyptian or Peruvian, it
was the invariable practice of the embalmers to take out the intestines and fill the abdominal
cavity with preservative herbs and spices. Now, this has not been done in this case. Look here.'
And deftly and swiftly he moved the dusty, half-decayed coverings from the body of the
mummy, while the professor looked on half-wondering and half-frightened for the safety of his
treasure.
'That has not been done here. You see the man's body is as perfect as it was on the day he
died—to use a conventional term. Now, am I not right?'[Pg 8]
'Yes, yes; perfectly right,' answered the professor, who felt himself fast losing his grip of the
conversation which had taken so strange a turn. 'But what has all this got to do with the most
unique mummy that ever was brought from South America? Surely, in the name of all that's
sacred, you don't mean—'
'My dear fellow, never mind what I mean for the present,' replied Djama, with another of his
half smiles. 'If I mean anything at all, the meaning will keep, and if I don't it doesn't matter.
Now, do you mind telling me exactly how and where you came across this extraordinary
specimen of—well, for want of a better term—we will say, Inca embalming?'
'Yes, willingly,' said the professor, glad to get back again on to the familiar ground of his own
experiences. 'I found it almost by accident in a little valley about four days' ride to the westward
of Cuzco. I was on my way to Abancay across the Apurimac. My mule had fallen lame, and so I
got belated. Night came on, and somehow we got off the track crossing one of the Punas—those
elevated tablelands, you know, up among the mountains—and when the mule could go no
farther we camped, and the next morning I found myself in an almost circular valley, completely
walled in by enormous mountains, save for the narrow, crooked gorge[Pg 9] through which we
had stumbled by the purest accident. The bottom of this valley was filled by a little lake, and
while I was exploring the shores of this I saw, hidden underneath an overhanging ledge of rock,
a couple of courses of that wonderful mortarless masonry which the Incas alone seemed to know
how to build. I had no sooner seen it than all desire of getting to Abancay or anywhere else had
left me. I made my arriero turn the animals loose for the day, and then I sent him back to a
village we had passed through the day before to buy more provisions and bring them to me.
'As soon as he had got out of sight I set to work to get some of the stones out and see what
there was behind them. I knew there must be something, for the Incas never wasted labour. It
was hard work, for the stones were fitted together as perfectly as the pieces of a Chinese puzzle;
but at last I got one out and then the rest was easy. Behind the stones I found a little chamber
hollowed out of the rock, perfectly clean and dry, and on the floor of this I found, without any
other covering than what you see there, the mummy of His Highness lying on what had once
been a bed of soft Vicuña skins, as perfect and as lifelike as though he had only crept in there
twelve hours before, and had laid down for a good night's rest.
'You may imagine how delighted I was at such[Pg 10] a find. I hardly knew how to contain
myself until my man came back. I put the stones back into their places as well as I could, and
when Patricio returned the next day I had the animals saddled up, and started off in a hurry to
Cuzco. There I had this case made, bought two extra mules, brought them to the valley, packed
up my mummy, took it back to Cuzco, and from there to the railway terminus at Sicuani and
took it down by train to Arequipa, where I left it in safe keeping until I had finished the rest of
my exploration. Then I went back, took it down to Mollendo, got it on board the steamer, and
here it is.'
'And you didn't find any traces of other treasure-places, I suppose, in the valley?' said Djama,
who had listened with the most perfect attention to the professor's story.
'No, I didn't, though I must confess that one side of the cave in which I found this was walled
up with the same kind of masonry as there was in front of it; but, to tell you the truth, the
Peruvian Government has such insane ideas about treasure-hunting; and the life of a man who is
believed to have discovered anything worth stealing is worth so little in the wilder districts of the
interior, that I was afraid of losing the treasure I had got, perhaps for the sake of a few little gold
ornaments which I might have dug out of[Pg 11] the hill, and so I decided to be content with what
I'd found.'
'H'm!' said the doctor. 'Well, you may have been wise under the circumstances; I daresay you
were. But we can see about that afterwards. Meanwhile there is something else to be talked
about.'
He stopped suddenly, took a quick turn or two up and down the room, with his hands clasped
behind him and his eyes fixed on the floor. Then he went to the door, opened it, looked out, shut
it and locked it, and then came back again and sat down without a word in his chair, staring
steadily at the impassive face of the mummy in the packing-case.
'Why, what's the matter, doctor?' said the professor, a trifle sharply. 'You don't suppose I am
afraid of anyone coming to steal my treasure, do you?'
'My dear fellow,' said Djama, looking him straight in the eyes, and speaking very slowly, as
though his mind was doing something else besides shaping the thoughts to which he was giving
utterance, 'I don't for a moment suppose that there are thieves about, or that, if there were, any
burglar with a competent knowledge of his profession would think of stealing your mummy,
priceless as it may prove to be. I locked the door because I don't want to be interrupted.[Pg 12] I
want to talk to you about a very important matter.'
'And that is?'
'Mephistopheles.'
'WHAT?'
'Gently, my friend, gently, don't get excited yet. You will want all your nerves soon, I can
assure you. Yes, I am quite serious. You know that in the good old days, when people still
believed in His Majesty of Darkness, such a speech as the one you remember making a short
time ago was quite enough to call up one of his agents, armed with full powers to make contracts
and do all necessary business.'
'Look here, Laurens, if you go on talking like that, I shall begin to think you have gone out of
your mind.'
'My dear fellow, to be quite candid with you, I don't care two pins what you think on that
subject. I have been called mad too many times for that. Now, suppose, just for argument's sake,
that I were Mephistopheles, and staked my diabolic reputation on the statement that in that thing
you possess a possible key to those lost treasures of the Incas, which ten generations of men
have hunted for in vain, what kind of a bargain would you be inclined to make with me on the
strength of it? Half the rest of your life, I think you said, and as that wouldn't be very[Pg 13] much
good to me, suppose we say the half of any treasures we may discover by the help of our silent
friend there? Eh?—will that suit you?'
'Are you really serious, Djama, or are you only dreaming another of these wild scientific
dreams of yours?' exclaimed the professor, taking a couple of quick strides towards him. 'What
connection can there possibly be between a mummy, about four centuries years old, and the lost
treasures of the Incas?'
'This man was an Inca, wasn't he?' said the doctor, abruptly, 'and one of the highest rank, too,
from what you have said. He lived just about the time of the Conquest, didn't he—the time when
the priests stripped their temples, and the nobles emptied their palaces of their treasures to save
them from the Spaniards? Is it not likely that he would know where, at anyrate, a great part of
them was buried? Nay, may he not even have known the localities of the lost mines that the
Incas got their hundredweights of gold from, and of the emerald mines which no one has ever
been able to find? Why, Lamson, if these dead lips could speak, I believe they could make you
and me millionaires in an hour. And why shouldn't they speak?'
'Don't talk like that, Djama, for Heaven's sake! It is too serious a thing to joke about,' said the
professor, with a half-frightened glance in his[Pg 14] set and shining eyes. 'I should have thought
you, of all men, knew enough of the facts of life and death not to talk such nonsense as that.'
'Nonsense!' said the physiologist, interrupting him almost angrily; 'may I not know enough of
the facts of life and death, as you call them, to know that that is not nonsense? But there, it's no
use arguing about things like this. Will you allow this mummy of yours to be made the subject
of—well, we will say, an experiment in physiology?'
'What! the finest and most unique huaca that was ever brought to Europe—'
'It would only be made finer still by the experiment, even if it failed. I know what you are
going to say, and I will give you my word of honour, and, if you like, I'll pledge you my
professional reputation, that not a hair of its head shall be injured. Let me take it to my
laboratory, and I promise you solemnly that in a week you shall have it back, not as it is now, but
either the body of your Inca, as perfect as it was the day he died, or—'
He stopped, and looked hard at his friend, as if wondering what the effects of his next words
would be upon him.
'Or what?' asked the professor, almost in a whisper.
'Your Inca prince, roused from his three-[Pg 15]hundred-year sleep, and able to answer your
questions and guide us to his lost mines and treasure houses.'
'Are you in earnest, Djama?' the professor whispered, catching him by the arm and looking
round at the mummy as though he half thought that the silent witness in the packing-case might
be listening to the words which, if it could have heard, would have had such a terrible
significance for it. 'Do you really mean to say in sober earnest that there is the remotest chance
of your science being able to work such a miracle as that?'
'A chance, yes,' replied Djama, steadily. 'It is not a certainty, of course, but I believe it to be
possible. Will you let me try?'
'Yes, you shall try,' answered the professor in a voice nothing like as steady as his. 'If any
other man but you had even hinted at such a thing, I would have seen him—well, in a lunatic
asylum first. But there, I will trust my Inca to you. It seems a fearful thing even to attempt, and
yet, after all, if it fails there will be no harm done, and if it succeeds—ah, yes, if it succeeds—it
will mean—'
'Endless fame for you, my friend, as the recreator of a lost society, and for both of us wealth,
perhaps beyond counting. But stop a moment—granted success, how shall we talk with our Inca
revenant? Have I not heard you say that the[Pg 16] Aymaru dialect of the Quichua tongue is lost
as completely as the Inca treasures?'
'Not quite, though I believe I am now the only white man on earth who understands it.'
'Good! then let me get to work at once, and in a week—well, in a week we shall see.'
II
A PHYSIOLOGICAL EXPERIMENT
Laurens Djama dined with the professor that night, and the small hours were growing large
before they ended the long talk of which their strange bargain, and the still stranger experiment
which was to result from it, formed the subject. The next day the packing-case containing the
mummy was transferred to Djama's laboratory, and then for a whole week neither the professor
nor any of his friends or acquaintances had either sight or speech of him.
Every caller at his house in Brondesbury Park was politely but firmly denied admittance on
professional grounds, and three letters and two telegrams which the professor had sent to him,
after being himself denied admittance, remained unanswered.
At last, on the Thursday following the Friday on which the mummy had been sent to the
laboratory, the professor received a telegram[Pg 17] telling him to come at once to the doctor.
Three minutes after he had read it he was in a hansom and on his way to Kilburn, wondering
what it was that he was to be brought face to face with during the next half hour.
This time there was no denial. The door opened as he went up the steps, and the servant
handed him a note. He tore it open and read,—
'Come round to the laboratory and make a new acquaintance who will yet be an old one.'
His heart stood still, and he caught his breath sharply as he read the words which told him that
the unearthly experiment for which he had furnished the subject had been successful.
The doctor's laboratory stood apart from the house in the long, narrow garden at the back, and
as he approached the door he stopped for a moment, and an almost irresistible impulse to go
away and have nothing more to do with the unholy work in hand took possession of him. Then
the love of his science and the longing to hear the marvels which could only be heard from the
lips that had been silent for centuries overcame his fears, and he went up to the door and
knocked softly.
It was opened by a haggard, wild-eyed man, whom he scarcely recognised as his old friend.[Pg
18] Djama did not speak; he simply caught hold of the sleeve of his coat with a nervous,
trembling grasp, drew him in, shut the door, and led him to a corner of the room where there was
a little camp bed, curtained all round with thin, transparent muslin, through which he could see
the shape of a man lying under the sheets.
Djama pulled the curtain aside, and said in a hoarse whisper,—
'Look, it has been hard work, and terrible work, too, but I have succeeded. Do you see, he is
breathing!'
The professor stared wide-eyed at the white pillow on which lay the head of what, a week
before, had been his mummy. Now it was the head of a living man; the pale bronze of the skin
was clear and moist with the dew of life; the lips were no longer brown and dry, but faintly red
and slightly parted, and the counterpane, which was pulled close up under the chin, was slowly
rising and falling with the regular rhythm of a sleeper's breathing. He looked from the face of
him who had been dead and was alive again to the face of the man whose daring science and
perfect skill had wrought the unholy miracle, and then he shrank back from the bedside, pulling
Djama with him, and whispering,—
'Good God, it is even more awful than it is wonderful! How did you do it?'[Pg 19]
'That is my secret,' whispered Djama, his dry lips shaping themselves into a ghastly smile,
'and for all the treasures that that man ever saw, I wouldn't tell it to a living soul, or do such
hideous work again. I tell you I have seen life and death fighting together for two days and
nights in this room—not, mind you, as they fight on a deathbed, but the other way, and I would
rather see a thousand men die than one more come back out, of death into life. You see, he is
sleeping now. He opened his eyes just before daybreak this morning—that's nearly ten hours
ago—but if I lived ten thousand years I should never forget that one look he gave me before he
shut them again. Since then he has slept, and I stood by that bed testing his pulse and his
breathing for eight hours before I wired you. Then I knew he would live, and so I sent for you.'
The professor looked at his friend with an involuntary and unconquerable aversion rising in
his heart against him; an aversion that was half fear, half horror, and then he remembered that he
himself had a share in the fearful work which had been done—a work that could not now be
undone without murder.
With another backward look at the bed, he said, in a whisper that was almost a smothered
groan,—
'When will he wake?'[Pg 20]
Before Djama could reply, the question was answered by a faint rustle, and a low, long-drawn
sigh from the bed. They looked and saw the Inca's face turned towards them, and two feverbright
eyes shining through the curtains.
'He is awake already, two hours sooner than I expected,' said Djama, in a voice that he strove
vainly to keep steady. 'Come, now, you are the only man on earth who can talk to him. Let us see
if he has come back to reason as well as to life.'
'Yes, I will try,' said the professor, faintly. He took a couple of trembling steps. Then the lights
in the room began to dance, the whitewashed walls reeled round him, and he pitched forward
and fell unconscious by the side of the bed.
When he came to himself he was lying on the floor of the laboratory, out of sight of the bed,
behind a great cupboard, glass-doored and filled with bottles. Djama was kneeling beside him. A
strong smell of ammonia dominated the other smells peculiar to a laboratory, and his brow was
wet with the spirit that Djama was gently rubbing on it with his hand.
'What have I been doing?' he said, as, with the other's assistance, he got up into a sitting
position and looked stupidly about him. 'It isn't true, that is it, I really saw—Good God[Pg 21] no,
it can't be; it's too horrible. I must have dreamt it.'
'Nonsense, my dear fellow, nonsense! I should have thought you would have had better nerves
than that. Come, take a nip of this, and pull yourself together. There is nothing so very horrible
about it for you. Now, if you had had the actual work to do—'
'Then it is true! You really have brought him back to life again? That was him I saw lying on
the bed?' He looked up at Djama as he spoke with a half-inquiring, half-frightened glance. His
voice was weak and unsteady, like the voice of a man who has been stunned by some terrible
shock, and is still dazed with the fear and wonder of it.
'Yes, of course it was,' said Djama; 'but I can tell you, I should have hesitated before I
introduced you so suddenly, if I hadn't thought that the nerves of an old traveller like you would
have been a good deal stronger than they seem to be. It's a very good job that His Highness was
only about half conscious himself when you collapsed, or you might have given him a shock that
would have killed him again.'
'Again?' said the professor, echoing the last word as he got up slowly to his feet. 'That sounds
queer, doesn't it, to talk of killing a[Pg 22] man again? I am more sorry than I can say that I was
weak enough to let my feelings overcome me in such a ridiculous fashion. However, I am all
right now. Give me another drain of that brandy of yours, and then let us talk. Is he still awake?'
'No, he dozed off again almost immediately, and you have been here about ten minutes or a
quarter of an hour. Do you think you can stand another look at him?'
'Oh, certainly,' said the professor, who, as a matter of fact, felt a trifle ashamed of himself and
his weakness, and was anxious to do something that would restore his credit. He followed the
doctor out into the laboratory again, and stood with him for some moments without speaking by
the Inca's bedside. He was sleeping very quietly, and his breathing seemed to be stronger and
deeper than it had been. He had slightly shifted his position, and was lying now half turned on
his right side, with his right cheek on the pillow.
'You see he has moved,' whispered Djama. 'That shows that muscular control has been reestablished.
We shall have him walking about in a day or so. Ah! he is dreaming, and of
something pleasant, too. Look at his lips moving into a smile. Poor fellow, just fancy a man
dreaming of things that happened[Pg 23] three hundred years ago, and waking up to find himself
in another world. I'll be bound he is dreaming about his wife or sweetheart, and we shall have to
tell him, or rather you will, that she has been a mummy for three centuries. Look now, his lips
are moving; I believe he is going to say something. See if you can hear what it is?'
The professor stooped down and held his ear so close that he could feel on his cheek the
gentle fanning of the breath that had been still for three centuries. Then the Inca's lips moved
again, and a soft sighing sound came from them, and in the midst of it he caught the words,—
'Cori-Coyllur, Nustallipa, Ñusta mi!'
Then there came a long, gentle sigh. The Inca's lips became still again, shaped into a very
sweet and almost womanly smile, as though his vision had passed and left him in a happy,
dreamless slumber.
'What did he say?' whispered Djama. 'Were you able to understand it?'
'Yes,' said the professor, 'yes, and you were right about the subject of his dream. Come away,
in case we wake him, and I will tell you.'
They went to the other end of the laboratory, and the professor went on, still speaking in a
low, half-whisper,[Pg 24]—
'Poor fellow, I am afraid we have incurred a terribly heavy debt to him. What he said meant,
"Golden Star, my princess, my darling!" So you see you were right, but poor Golden Star has
been dead three hundred years and more—that is, at least, if his Golden Star is the same as the
heroine of the tradition.'
'What tradition?' asked Djama.
'It's too long a story to tell you now, but if she is the same, then our Inca's name is Vilcaroya,
and he is the hero of the strangest story, and, thanks to you, the strangest fate that the wildest
romancer could imagine. However, the story must keep, for I wouldn't spoil it by cutting it short.
The principal question now is—what are we going to do with him? We can't keep him here, of
course?'
'No, certainly not,' replied Djama, with knitted brows and faintly smiling lips. 'His Highness
must be cared for in accordance with his rank and our expectations. I shall have him taken into
the house and properly nursed.'
'But what about your sister? You will frighten her to death if you take in a living patient that
has been dead for three hundred years.'
'Not if we manage it properly; there will be no need to tell Ruth the story yet, at anyrate. I'll
tell her that I am going to receive a patient who is suffering from a mysterious disease
unknown[Pg 25] to medical science. I'll say I picked him up in the Oriental Home in Whitechapel,
and have brought him here to study him, and you and I must smuggle him into the house and put
him to bed some time when she is out of the way. Then I'll instal her as nurse; in fact, she will do
that for herself; and as there is no chance of her learning anything from him, we can break the
truth to her by degrees, and when His Highness is well enough to travel we'll all be off to Peru
and come back millionaires, if you can only persuade him to tell you the secret of his treasurehouses.'
That night the doctor and the professor took turns in watching by the bedside of their strange
patient, whose slumber became lighter and lighter until, towards midnight, he got so restless and
apparently uneasy that Djama considered that the time had come to wake him and see if he was
able to take any nourishment. So he set the professor to work, warming some chicken broth over
a spirit lamp, and mixing a little champagne and soda-water in one glass and brandy and water in
another. Meanwhile, he filled a hypodermic syringe with colourless fluid out of a little stoppered
bottle, and then turned the sheet down and injected the contents of the syringe under the smooth,
bronze skin of the Inca's shoulder. He moved slightly at the prick[Pg 26] of the needle, then he
drew two or three deep breaths, and suddenly sat up in bed and stared about him with wide open
eyes, full, as they well might be, of inquiring wonder.
The professor, who had turned at the sound of the hurried breathing, saw him as he raised
himself, and heard him say in the clear and somewhat high-pitched tone of a dweller among the
mountains,—
'Has the morning dawned again for the Children of the Sun? Am I truly awake, or am I only
dreaming that the death-sleep is over? Where is Golden Star, and where am I? Tell me—you
who have doubtless brought me back to the life we forsook together—was it last night or how
many nights or moons ago?'
The words came slowly at first, like those of a man still on the borderland between sleep and
waking; but each one was spoken more clearly and decisively than the one before it, and the last
sentence was uttered in the strong, steady tones of a man in full possession of his faculties.
'Come here, Lamson,' said Djama, a trifle nervously; 'bring the soup with you, and some
brandy, though I don't think he needs it. Do you understand what he said?'
"Am I only dreaming that the death-sleep is over?"
'Yes,' replied the professor, coming to the bedside with a cup of soup in one hand and a glass
of brandy and water in the ether. Both hands[Pg 27] trembled as he set the cup and the glass down
on a little table. He looked at the Inca like a man looking at a re-embodied spirit, and said to him
in Quichua,—
'I am not he who has brought you back to life, but my friend here, who is a great and skilled
physician, and master of the arts of life and death. You are in his house, and safe, for we are
friends, and have nursed you back to health and waking life after your long sleep.'
'But Golden Star,' said the Inca, interrupting him with a flash of impatience in his eyes. 'Where
is she—my bride who went with me into the shades of death? Have you not brought her, too,
back to life?'
The professor stared in silence at the strange speaker of these strange words, which told him
so plainly that the old legend of the death-bridal of Vilcaroya-Inca and Golden Star was now no
legend at all, but a true story which had come down almost unchanged from generation to
generation. Then an infinite pity filled his heart for this lonely wanderer from another age, whose
friends and kindred had been dead for centuries, and whose very nation was now only a shadowy
name on a half-forgotten page of history.
'What does he say?' said Djama, breaking in upon his reverie. 'I suppose he wants to know[Pg
28] where he is, and what has become of that sweetheart of his he was dreaming about?'
'Yes,' replied the professor; 'but you won't understand properly until I have told you the story.
Poor fellow! I suppose we shall have to tell him the ghastly truth. Good Heavens! fancy telling a
man that his wife has been dead for three hundred years or more! Look here, Djama, this
business can't stop here, you know. What a fool I was, after all, not to see if there wasn't another
chamber beside the one I found him in! Of course there must be, and I have no doubt she is lying
there at this present moment. We shall have to go and find her, and you must restore her as you
have done him. Phew! where is it all going to end, I wonder!'
'And suppose we can't find her, or suppose I fail, even if I can bring myself to undertake that
horrible work all over again?' said Djama, looking almost fearfully at the Inca, who was still
sitting up in the bed glancing mutely from one to the other, as though waiting for an answer to
his question. Then, keeping his voice as steady as he could, the professor told him the story of
his resuscitation, addressing him by his own name and ending by asking him if he remembered
when he and Golden Star had devoted themselves to die together, as the tradition said they had
done.[Pg 29]
'Yes, I remember!' said Vilcaroya, with brightening eyes and faintly flushing cheeks. 'How
could I forget it? It was when the bearded strangers from the north had come and taken the
usurper Atahuallpa prisoner in the midst of his conquering host at Cajamarca. It was after the
Inca Huascar had been slain by stealth with a traitor's knife. It was on the night of the feast of
Raymi, when our Father the Sun had left the Sacred Fleece unkindled, and when was fulfilled
the prophecy that the night should fall over the land of the Children of the Sun. Now, tell me,
you who speak the language of my people, how long have I been sleeping?'
Instead of replying directly, he offered the Inca the cup of broth, and asked him first to take
the nourishment that he must need so greatly after his long fast, telling him that it was needful to
prevent him losing his new-found strength again. When he had eaten and drunk a little, then he
would tell him what he could.
He took the broth and a little bread obediently, and while he was eating and drinking, the
professor translated what he had said to the doctor. When he had finished, Djama looked at the
Inca, sitting there taking food and drink like any other human being, and with evident relish, too,
and said,—
'That happened in 1532—three hundred and[Pg 30] sixty-five years ago! It sounds utterly
incredible, doesn't it, and yet there he is, eating and drinking and talking with us just like any
other man. I can hardly believe the work of my own hands, and I am beginning to half wish I had
never begun it. Just imagine the awful loneliness to which we shall have condemned this poor
fellow, supposing we can't find his Golden Star and restore her to him! Still perhaps you had
better tell him the truth at once. I think he can stand it. He has been a long time coming round,
but I don't think there is much the matter with him now.'
Then the professor told Vilcaroya the, to him, so terrible truth, that of all men in the world he
was the most lonely, separated as he was from all that he had known and loved by an impassable
gulf of nearly four long centuries—that his well-loved Golden Star was but a memory known to
few, a name in a vague tradition; that the resting-place, even of her mummy, was unknown, and
that all that the darkest prophecy could have foretold had in very truth fallen upon the land of the
Incas and the Children of the Sun.
Vilcaroya heard him to the end in silence; then, raising his hands to his forehead, he bowed his
head and said,—
'It is the will of our Father, foretold by the lips of his priests, but other things were foretold[Pg
31] which shall be fulfilled as well as these. Golden Star is not dead; she only sleeps as I did. If I
have awakened, why shall not she? I know where she lies—where Anda-Huillac swore to me
they would lay her. Come, let us go! I will take you to the place, and you shall restore her to me,
warm and living and loving as she was when I kissed her good-bye in the Sanctuary of the Sun,
and I will give you treasures of gold and silver and jewels such as you have never dreamed of in
exchange for her.'[Pg 32]

 

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