“I mean it,” she told him, and her voice throbbed with a fiery force that was deeper than passion, stronger than aught human. “You are mine and I am yours. God knows, dear,—God knows that is all that matters now. I didn’t understand before. I do now, I think—suffering has taught me—many things. Perhaps it is—His Angel.”
“The Angel with the Flaming Sword,” he said, under his breath.
“But the Sword is turned away,” she said. “The way is open.”
He got to his feet abruptly. “Wait!” he said. “Before you say that—wait!”
He freed himself from her hold gently but very decidedly. She knew that for a second he stood close above her with arms outflung before he turned away. Then there came the rasp of a match, a sudden flare in the darkness. She looked to see his face—and uttered a cry.
It was Hanani, the veiled ayah, who stooped to kindle the lamp....
“This country is like an infernal machine,” said Bernard. “You never know when it’s going to explode. There’s only one reliable thing in it, and that’s Peter.”
He turned his bandaged head in the latter’s direction, and received a tender, indulgent smile in answer. Peter loved the big blue-eyed sahib with the same love which he had for the children of the sahib-log.
“Whatever happens,” Bernard continued, “there’s always Peter. He keeps the whole show going, and is never absent when wanted. In fact, I begin to think that India wouldn’t be India without him.”
“A very handsome compliment,” said Sir Reginald.
“It is, isn’t it?” smiled Bernard. “I have a vast respect for him—a quite unbounded respect. He is the greatest greaser of wheels I have ever met. Help yourself, sir, won’t you? I am sorry I can’t join you, but Major Ralston insists that I must walk circumspectly, being on his sick list. I really don’t know why my skull was not cracked. He declares it ought to have been and even seems inclined to be rather disgusted with me because it wasn’t.”
“You had a very lucky escape,” said Sir Reginald. “Allow me to congratulate you!”
“And a very enjoyable scrap,” said Bernard, with kindling eyes. “Thanks! I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,—the damn’ dirty blackguards!”
“Was Mrs. Monck much upset?” asked Sir Reginald. “I have never yet had the pleasure of meeting her.”
“She was more upset on my brother’s account than her own,” Bernard said, giving his visitor a shrewd look. “She thought he had come to harm.”
“Ah!” said Sir Reginald, and held his glass up to the light. “And that was not so?”
“No,” said Bernard, and closed his lips.
There was a distinct pause before Sir Reginald’s eyes left his glass and came down to him. They held a faint whimsical smile.