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City of Endless Night by Milo M Hastings

City of Endless Night by Milo M Hastings

Author:Milo M Hastings [Hastings, Milo M]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Science Fiction
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Published: 2011-02-21T06:00:00+00:00


CHAPTER VIII

FINDING THEREIN ONE RIGHTEOUS MAN I HAVE COMPASSION ON BERLIN

~1~

My first call upon Marguerite had been followed by other visits when we had talked of books and read together. On these occasions I had carefully suppressed my desire to speak of more personal things. But, constantly reminded by my own troubled conscience, I grew fearful lest the old doctor should discover that the books were the lesser part of the attraction that drew me to Marguerite's apartment, and my fear was increased as I realized that my calls on Zimmern had abruptly ceased.

Thinking to make amends I went one evening to the doctor's apartment.

"I was going out shortly," said Zimmern, as he greeted me. "I have a dinner engagement with Hellar on the Free Level. But I still have a little time; if it pleases you we might walk along to our library."

I promptly accepted the invitation, hoping that it would enable me better to establish my relation to Marguerite and Zimmern in a safe triangle of mutual friendship. As we walked, Zimmern, as if he read my thoughts, turned the conversation to the very subject that was uppermost in my mind.

"I am glad, Armstadt," he said with a gracious smile, "that you and Marguerite seem to enjoy each other's friendship. I had often wished there were younger men in our group, since her duties as caretaker of our books quite forbids her cultivating the acquaintance of any men outside our chosen few. Marguerite is very patient with the dull talk of us old men, but life is not all books, and there is much that youth may share."

For these words of Zimmern's I was quite unprepared. He seemed to be inviting me to make love to Marguerite, and I wondered to what extent the prevailing social ethics might have destroyed the finer sensibilities that forbid the sharing of a woman's love.

When we reached the apartment Marguerite greeted us with a perfect democracy of manner. But my reassurance of the moment was presently disturbed when she turned to Zimmern and said: "Now that you are here, I am going for a bit of a walk; I have not been out for two whole days."

"Very well," the doctor replied. "I cannot remain long as I have an engagement with Hellar, but perhaps Armstadt will remain until you return."

"Then I shall have him all to myself," declared Marguerite with quiet seriousness.

Though I glanced from the old doctor to the young woman in questioning amazement, neither seemed in the least embarrassed or aware that anything had been said out of keeping with the customary propriety of life.

Marguerite, throwing the blue velvet cape about her bare white shoulders, paused to give the old doctor an affectionate kiss, and with a smile for me was gone.

For a few moments the doctor sat musing; but when he turned to me it was to say: "I hope that you are making good use of our precious accumulation of knowledge."

In reply I assured him of my hearty appreciation of the library.



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