The Administrator frowned. It seemed I was going to be made the scape-goat. I did not care. I would not have taken a year of Sir Louis’ pay for those two days and nights. When he spoke again I expected something drastic addressed to me, but I was wrong.
“An official apology is due to you, Sheikh Abdul Ali. Permit me to offer it, together with my profound regret for any slight personal inconvenience to which you may have been subjected in course of this—ah—entirely unauthorized piece of—ah— brigandage. I notice you have been bruised, too. You shall have the best medical attention at our disposal.”
“That is not enough!” sneered Abdul Ali, throwing quite an attitude.
“I know it isn’t. I was coming to that. An apology is also due to the French—our friends the French. I shall put it in writing, and ask you to convey it to Beirut to the French High Commissioner, with my compliments. I would send you by train, but you might be—ah—delayed at Damascus in that case. Perhaps Emir Feisal might detain you. There will be a boat going from Jaffa in two days’ time. Two days will give you a chance to recover from the outrageous experience before we escort you to the coast. A first-class passage will be reserved for you by wire, and you will be put on board with every possible courtesy. You might ask the French High Commissioner to let me know if there is anything further he would like us to do about it. Now, I’ll ring for a clerk to take you to the medical officer—under escort, so that you mayn’t be subjected to further outrage or indignity. Good evening!”
“Anything more for me?” asked Grim, as soon as Abdul Ali had been led away.
“Not tonight, Grim. Come and see me in the morning.” Grim saluted. The Administrator looked at me—smiled mischievously.
“Have a good time?” he asked. “Don’t neglect those scratches. Good evening!”
No more. Not another word. He never did say another word to me about it, although I met him afterwards a score of times. You couldn’t help but admire and like him.
Grim led the way up the tower stairs again, and we took a last look at El-Kerak. The moon was beginning to rise above the rim of the Moab Hills. The land beyond the Dead Sea was wrapped in utter silence. Over to the south-east you could make out one dot of yellow light, to prove that men lived and moved and had their being in that stillness. Otherwise, you couldn’t believe it was real country. It looked like a vision of the home of dreams.
“Got anything to do tonight?” asked Grim. “Can you stay awake? I know where some Jews are going to play Beethoven in an upper room in the ancient city. Care to come?”
“And the rest of the acts of Ahaziah—”
I have no idea what Grim did during the next few days. I spent the time studying Arabic, and saw nothing of him until he walked into my room at the hotel one afternoon, sat down and came straight to the point.