As they turned in the direction of the dining-saloon, the girl looked over her shoulder at the two maids, and smiled.
With a great love of their respective mistresses as their sole bond in common they stood, otherwise divided, staring at each other.
“Pleased to meet you again,” volunteered country-bred Jane, offering a plump hand.
“Hoping you are in good health,” responded Maria Hobson, making a corner in strawberry-leaves as she just touched the finger-tips.
“Wellington, you have met Dekko, I think,” laughed the girl.
“Woomph!” grunted the dog disdainfully, as he cocked an eye at the bird, which ruffled its feathers, spread its red tail and looked down sideways and spitefully for a long moment.
“My Gawd!” it suddenly shrieked. “My Gawd!”
And it swung about and rubbed its soft grey pate against its mistress’s outrageous golden perruque, then hurled itself onto the captain’s shoulder.
“Oh, yet we trust that somehow
Will be the final goal of ill.”
After the fight in the bazaar, the ducal party stayed for another fortnight in Cairo, during which time Damaris saw as much of the place and its surroundings as she could in fourteen days and a few hours out of each of the fourteen nights; whilst her godmother played bridge or poker, paid and received visits, took her to dances and parties, and busied her fingers in the tangled threads Fate had tossed into her lap.
It was an understood thing that the girl should be ready to conduct the old aristocrat to the dining-room at the dinner-hour and give her the evening; other than that her time was her own, though, owing to her innate courtesy and her love for her godmother, she never once absented herself without having obtained permission.
“You are a positive tonic, child, in these perplexing days,” remarked her grace, when the girl had concluded the recital of the fight in the bazaar. “Only, do remember to come straight to me if ever you get into a real scrape.”
And that night, the old lady, who had lost heavily at poker, fairly snapped at Maria Hobson, who, tucking her up in bed, remarked, greatly daring, upon the amount of liberty allowed the child.
“Don’t be foolish, my good woman,” she said, “and do for goodness’ sake mind your business of looking after me. Although my god-daughter may bluff a bit for the fun of the game, and get let down a bit for her own good, yet I shouldn’t advise anyone to get seeing her too often. Fate dealt her a royal straight flush in hearts, and better that you can’t—no! not even if you hold a full house of intrigue and bad intent t’other end of Life’s table.”
“Humff!” replied the maid heavily through her nose, not having understood one word of her mistress’s admonition.
Each day at breakfast and at dinner a bunch, big or little, of simple or hothouse flowers lay beside the girl’s plate, without name or message.