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Chapter 38

He was a humble, a supplicating lover, and would crouch for hours at his mistress' feet, content to gaze upon her in silence, stroking her hand, sometimes raising it reverently to his lips.

"They say," he told her sometimes, "that I am mad, and not any longer fit to govern my country."

And he looked at her appealingly, as though begging her to testify as to his sanity.

She would console him mechanically, thinking, as she did so, that it was she, Lina Varsovina, who was mad, and that compared to this madness of hers, this desperate hungry craving for the lover who had so bitterly insulted her, Eitel Gustav, with his gentle childish ways, his thoughtfulness, his unselfishness and his grave simplicity, was the very personification of all that was sane, pleasant, admirable and sympathetic. And if he was mad he was also extraordinarily acute. Once he said, fixing her with his soft brown eyes:

"Lina, you are not happy. I haven't the power to make you happy. You are in love with some one who has hurt you. That's the truth, isn't it, my dear?"

"Oh, I don't know . . . don't let's talk of the past, but only of the present."

"But it is true, isn't it?" he persisted.

And as she did not answer he continued:

"And for hurts of that kind there is at the time no cure. I know, Lina, because once, long ago, I loved the Grand Duchess, and you know that she ran away from me, with my son's tutor. And I loved her, at that time, with all my heart. Yes, really, I assure you that I did, although