“I believe I did call him a bounder,” interrupted Chase reminiscently. “I spoke hastily and I’ll give him a chance to demand an explanation. He’ll want it, because he’s an American. A bounder, Selim? Well,” closing one eye and looking out of the window calculatingly, “a bounder is a fellow who keeps up an acquaintance with you by persistently dunning you for money that you’ve owed to him for four or five years. Any one who annoys you is a bounder.”
Selim turned this over in his mind for some time, but the puzzled air did not lift from his face.
“Excellency, you will take Selim to live with you in Paris?” he said after a while wistfully. “I will be your slave.”
“Paris? Who the dickens said anything about Paris?” demanded Chase, startled.
“Neenah says you will go there to live, sahib.”
“Um—um,” mused Chase; “what does she know about it?”
“Does not the most glorious Princess live in Paris?”
“Selim, you’ve been listening to gossip. It’s a frightful habit to get into. Put cotton in your ears. But if I were to take you, what would become of little Neenah?”
“Oh, Neenah?” said Selim easily. “If she would be a trouble to you, excellency, I can sell her to a man I know.”
Chase looked blackly at the eager Arab, who quailed.
“You miserable dog!”
Selim gasped. “Excellency!”
“Don’t you love her?”
“Yes, yes, sahib—yes! But if she would be a trouble to you—no!” protested the Arab anxiously. Chase laughed as he came to appreciate the sacrifice his servant would make for him.
“I’ll take you with me, Selim, wherever I go—and if I go—but, my lad, we’ll take Neenah along, too, to save trouble. She’s not for sale, my good Selim.” The husband of Neenah radiated joy.
“Then she may yet be the slave of the most glorious Princess! Allah is great! The most glorious one has asked her if she will not come with her——”
“Selim,” commanded the master ominously, “don’t repeat the gossip you pick up when I’m not around.”
THE TWO WORLDS
Two days and nights crept slowly into the past, and now the white people of the chateau had come to the eve of their last day’s stay on the island of Japat: the probationary period would expire with the sun on the following day, the anniversary of the death of Taswell Skaggs. The six months set aside by the testator as sufficient for all the requirements of Cupid were to come to an inglorious end at seven o’clock on March 29th. According to the will, if Agnes Ruthven and Robert Browne were not married to each other before the close of that day all of their rights in the estate were lost to them.
To-morrow would be the last day of residence required, but, alack! Was it to be the last that they were to spend in the world-forsaken land? As they sat and stared gloomily at the spotless sea there was not a single optimist among them who felt that the end was near. Not a few were convincing themselves that their last days literally would be spent on the island.