The men were beside her a moment later, possessed of the weapons of the helpless sentinels. With a crash the gates were closed and a joyous laugh rang out from the exultant throat of Hollingsworth Chase.
“By the Lord Harry, this is worth while!” he shouted. Outside, the maddened guards were sounding the tardy alarm. Chase called out to them and told them where they could find the four men in the forest. Then he turned to follow the group that had scurried off toward the chateau. The first grey shade of day was coming into the night.
He saw Neenah ahead of him, standing still in the centre of the gravelled path. Beyond her was the tall figure of a man.
“You are a trump, Neenah,” cried Chase, hurrying up to her. “A Persian angel!”
It was not Neenah’s laugh that replied. Chase gasped in amazement and then uttered a cry of joy.
The Princess Genevra, slim and erect, was standing before him, her hand touching her turban in true military salute, soft laughter rippling from her lips.
In the exuberance of joy, he clasped that little hand and crushed it against his lips.
“You!” he exclaimed.
“Sh!” she warned, “I have retained my guard of honour.”
He looked beyond her and beheld the tall, soldierly figure of a Rapp-Thorberg guardsman.
“The devil!” fell involuntarily from his lips.
“Not at all. He is here to keep me from going to the devil,” she cried so merrily that he laughed aloud with her in the spirit of unbounded joy. “Come! Let us run after the others. I want to run and dance and sing.”
He still held her hand as they ran swiftly down the drive, followed closely by the faithful sergeant.
“You are an angel,” he said in her ear. She laughed as she looked up into his face.
“Yes—a Persian angel,” she cried. “It’s so much easier to run well in a Persian angel’s costume,” she added.
A PRESCRIBED MALADY
“You are wonderful, staying out there all night watching for—us.” He was about to say “me.”
“How could any one sleep? Neenah found this dress for me—aren’t these baggy trousers funny? She rifled the late Mr. Wyckholme’s wardrobe. This costume once adorned a sultana, I’m told. It is a most priceless treasure. I wore it to-night because I was much less conspicuous as a sultana than I might have been had I gone to the wall as a princess.”
“I like you best as the Princess,” he said, frankly surveying her in the grey light.
“I think I like myself as the Princess, too,” she said naively. He sighed deeply. They were quite close to the excited group on the terrace when she said: “I am very, very happy now, after the most miserable night I have ever known. I was so troubled and afraid——”
“Just because I went away for that little while? Don’t forget that I am soon to go out from you for all time. How then?”