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The Cardinal Moth

252 pages
Library of Alexandria
The purple darkness seemed to be filled with a nebulous suggestion of things beautiful; long trails and ropes of blossoms hung like stars reflected in a lake of blue. As the eye grew accustomed to the gloom these blooms seemed to expand and beautify. There was a great orange globe floating on a violet mist, a patch of pink swam against an opaque window-pane like a flight of butterflies. Outside the throaty roar of Piccadilly could be distinctly heard; inside was misty silence and the coaxed and pampered atmosphere of the Orient. Then a long, slim hand—a hand with jewels on it—was extended, and the whole vast dome was bathed in brilliant light. For once the electric globes had lost their garish pertinacity. There were scores of lamps there, but every one of them was laced with dripping flowers and foliage till their softness was like that of a misty moon behind the tree-tops. And the blossoms hung everywhere—thousands upon thousands of them, red, blue, orange, creamy white, fantastic in shape and variegated in hue, with a diabolical suggestiveness about them that orchids alone possess. Up in the roof, out of a faint cloud of steam, other blossoms of purple and azure peeped.