“A place for satyrs to dance in, what?” suggested Noel. “We ought to have come here by moonlight. Let’s get down and investigate. The others can’t be far behind.”
“Yes, let us fix on a place before they come!” said Olga. “It will save such a lot of discussion.”
“Excellent notion! I’ll tie up Tinker to one of these trees. I don’t call this a very promising site for a bean-feast,” said Noel, wrinkling his nose. “It’s so beastly stuffy.”
“Yes, we will try the temple first,” said Olga. “It stands higher. There will be much more air there.”
They descended. There was still no sign of the rest of the party. “I expect they gave us a start to keep out of the beastly dust,” said Noel. “They’ll be here directly. Nick has pitched on a secluded corner anyhow. I shouldn’t think the foot of man had trodden it for a thousand years.”
Olga laughed. “I wonder. It’s better than the jungle, isn’t it? I don’t feel nearly so creepy here.”
“What price tigers?” grinned Noel.
“Oh, I’ve got over that,” she declared. “But I didn’t like your Wilderness of Nasty Possibilities.”
He flashed her a merry look. “You ought not to be afraid with Master Overbold by your side. As for the tiger, we may meet him yet.”
“Oh, no, we shan’t!” she asserted with confidence. “It would be too ludicrously like a fairy-tale.”
“Horribly ludicrous!” said Noel. “Well, come along and look for him!”
So side by side they started.
THE SOUL OF A HERO
The way was exceedingly rough and here and there almost overgrown with coarse weeds. Near the temple, the ground ascended fairly steeply, and the path narrowed so that it was impossible to walk abreast.
“Wonder if there are any of those jolly little karaits about,” speculated Noel. “If you don’t mind, I’ll go first.”
“I believe I saw a scorpion!” said Olga, as he took the lead.
He laughed at her over his shoulder. “Or a lizard! Stick to it, Mistress Timorous! You’ll develop a taste for adventure soon.”
“Oh, I’m not a coward really,” she protested. “At least I never used to be!”
“You are the sweetest girl in the world,” said Noel, in a tone that reduced Olga to instant and uncompromising silence.
She could not refuse his hand, however, when he paused to help her over the rough places. It was an utter impossibility to be ungracious to Noel for long. He was far too seductive.
They reached the top of the ascent and found themselves close to the temple. The place was a ruin. Blocks of stone, that once had been part of its structure, were scattered in all directions; and, advancing, they presently stumbled upon the monstrous head of a broken idol.
“This is the temple of Dagon,” said Noel dramatically. “I don’t think it’s a very suitable place for a picnic. One might find bits of human sacrifices about and that would spoil the appetite.”