After all, she found herself reflecting, behind her aunt’s complacent visage there was a past as lurid as any one’s—not, of course, her aunt’s own personal past, which was apparently just that curate and almost incredibly jejune, but an ancestral past with all sorts of scandalous things in it: fire and slaughterings, exogamy, marriage by capture, corroborees, cannibalism! Ancestresses with perhaps dim anticipatory likenesses to her aunt, their hair less neatly done, no doubt, their manners and gestures as yet undisciplined, but still ancestresses in the direct line, must have danced through a brief and stirring life in the woady buff. You know not in what dark places my life has been cast; with what crimes it has been stained. A momentary petrifaction, and terror had lent wings to her feet. ‘We was of an age, you see, miss. The oblique ruddy lighting distorted them oddly, made queer bars and patches of shadow upon their clothes. ’ Melusine’s eyes flashed. “So you come from Anna, do you?” she remarked.
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