Only the more indefatigable youngsters remained. They hadn’t the slightest intention of foregoing half a night’s dancing. They danced in the hall to the music of the victrola, while the regular musicians were being feted in the kitchen by Mary Magdalen, Queenasheeba, and Fernolia.
I missed my fan, and went into the drawing-room to look for it. The room was quite empty for the moment, and looked lonesome for all its blazing lights. A cool, sweet night wind came in through the open windows, refreshingly. And quite suddenly there was framed in one of them a figure more exotic, more bizarre, than any of our maskers had been.
His dark robe was folded over his breast, and the silver shaft of a knife showed in his red girdle. His white wool stuck out from under his red fez, and his ear-rings gleamed against his black cheeks, and the bracelets on his wiry arms made a faint tinkling as he leaned forward. Emboldened by his twinkling eyes, his crooked, friendly smile, eager to question him, I drew nearer. He stretched out his hand, and slipped into mine the half of a broken coin.
THE HEART OF HYNDS HOUSE
I stood staring at the broken coin in my hand with a sort of stupefaction, while The Jinnee moved slowly away from the window. I had received a summons I could not ignore. Had I not promised, smilingly indeed, but sincerely, to answer that call whenever and however it should come?
The music had ceased for the moment, and the big hall was quite empty, for the dancers had trooped into the dining-room, from which came laughter and chattering voices, and the chink of silver and china. The great front doors were wide open. I slipped unseen into the darkly bright, whispering night.
The moon was high in the heavens, for it was past midnight; the wind was chill upon my shoulders, the dew silvery under my feet. There was an odor abroad—the ineffable odor of sleepily stirring spring, of young new leaves budding, of tender grass, growing like a baby’s hair.
At some distance ahead I could just distinguish the dark figure of the messenger, flitting soundless as a shadow. And then, to my infinite relief, out of the shrubbery stepped Boris, and thrust his doggy nose into my hand. I laid hold of his collar, and he trotted sedately beside me.
I had half expected to be led to the gray-gabled cottage, but The Jinnee stole along in the shadow of the hedge, stopped beside the spring-house, and held up his hand.
“In the name of God!” said I, involuntarily.
“The compassionate, the merciful!” finished The Jinnee, and turning to the east made a profound reverence. There was something so simple and so sincere in his manner that my momentary fear subsided.
“But why have I been sent for? Why are you here?” I wondered.
He folded his arms upon his breast, and in a sing-song voice, curiously unlike any other I had ever heard, answered parrotlike: