“To-morrow he will come and call me, but to-morrow I shall not leave Kingsland Court. No, my dear young baronet, I have not saved your life for nothing! I shall have the honor of remaining your guest for some time.”
MISS SYBILLA SILVER
Meantime Sir Everard had aroused his valet and a brace of tall footmen, and dispatched them to the aid of the wounded man in the wood. And then he sought his own chamber, and, after an hour or two of aimless tossing, dropped into an uneasy sleep.
And sleeping, Sir Everard had a singular dream. He was walking through Brithlow Wood with Lady Louise on his arm, the moonlight sifting through the tall trees as he had seen it last. Suddenly, with a rustle and a hiss, a huge green serpent glided out, reared itself up, and glared at them with eyes of deadly menace. And somehow, though he had not yet seen the lad’s face, he knew the hissing serpent and the preserver of his life were one and the same. With horrible hisses the monster encircled him. Its fetid breath was in his face, its deadly fangs ready to strike his death-blow, and, with a suffocating cry, Sir Everard a-woke from his nightmare and started up in bed.
“Good heavens! such a night of horrors, waking and sleeping! A most ungrateful dream, truly! It is time I awoke my unknown preserver.”
The mysterious youth lay fast asleep upon the bed, dressed as he had left him, with the exception of the slouched hat and the red cotton handkerchief. They lay on the carpet; and over the pillows, and over the coarse velveteen jacket streamed such a wealth of blue-black hair as the baronet in all his life never before beheld.
“Powers above!” Sir Everard gasped, in his utter amaze, “what can this mean?”
He advanced with bated breath, bent over and gazed at the sleeper’s face. One look, and his flashing first suspicion was a certainty. This dark, youthful, faultlessly beautiful face was a woman’s face. A girl in velveteen shooting-jacket and pantaloons, handsome as some dusky Indian princess, lay asleep before him.
Sir Everard Kingsland, in the last stage of bewilderment and amaze, retreated precipitately and shut the door.
The instant the chamber door closed the mysterious young man raised himself on his elbow, very wide awake, his handsome face lighted with a triumphant smile.
“So,” he said, “step the second has been taken, and Sir Everard has discovered the sex of his preserver. As he is too delicate to disturb a slumbering lady in disguise, the slumbering lady must disturb him!”
He—or rather she—leaped lightly off the bed, picked up the scarlet bandanna, twisted scientifically the abundant black hair, bound it up with the handkerchief, and crushed down over all the slouched hat. Then, with the handsome face overshadowed, and all expression screwed out of it, she opened the door, and saw, as she expected, the young baronet in the passage.