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The Sphinx's Children

The Sphinx's Children and Other People (New York: Tickner, 1886)


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THE SPHINX'S CHILDREN.

"Que la volonte soit le destin!"

LONG had she sat, crouched upon her breast,—crouched, but not for slumber or for spring. No slumber gloomed darkly in those broad, sad eyes; no dream indefinably softened the. lips, whose patient outline breathed only wakefulness and expectation, —a long-deferred, yet constant expectation, —a hope that would have been despair, save that it was just within hope's limits, — a monotonous, reiterate, indestructible chord in the creature's mystic existence, that, once struck by some mighty, shrouded Hand of Power, still reverberated, and trailed its still renewing echoes through every fibre of its secret habitation. Nor yet for spring; —a couchant leopard has posed itself with horrid intent; murder glitters in its fixed golden eye, quivers in the tense loins, creeps in the tawny glitter of the skin, clutches the keen claws, that recoil, and grasp, and recoil again from the velvet ball of that heavy foot; murder grins in the withdrawn lip, the white, red-set teeth, the slavering crunch of the jaw: but nothing of all these fired the quiet and the silence of the crouching Sphinx; nerve and muscle in tranquil strength lay relaxed, though not unconscious. Year after year the yellow Desert robed itself in burning mists, splendid and deadly; year after year



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