Save for the back of her head resting just below his shoulder he did not touch her, and if he bent his head so that the perfumed riot of her curls swept his cheek, should it count as a grievous sin against him?
The stone beside each of us is quite likely to lie untouched throughout our span of three-score plus ten.
At the last beat of the drum and just before the lights were switched on, Damaris was alone, with a silken handkerchief in her hand, in one corner of which, as she discovered later, was embroidered the Hawk of Old Egypt.
“_. . . Hither and thither
moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays_.”
Hugh Carden Ali, with the dogs of Billi crushed in beside him, raced back to his palace in Cairo and with the shaggy pair at his heels passed to his side of the great house. His body-servant, as nimble as a monkey, as devoted as a dog, and almost dumb by reason of a tongue split in his youth for misdemeanour, fell on his knees at his feet.
He worshipped his young master, who had one time rescued him from a savage, baiting crowd in the bazaar and taking him into his service had made him his own particular servant; he equally loathed his master’s austere bedroom and adjoining dressing-room, with simple furniture which had lately come from Bilid el-Ingliz, a dark, cold country across the sea, where it rains without ceasing. And he helped strip his master of the hateful, tight, hot European clothes and trotted joyfully after him to the swimming-bath, and watched him dive in and swim the length and climb out the other end, and disappear between curtains into the luxurious rooms of the East.
Having robed him, agog with curiosity and at a discreet distance, he followed the resplendent figure in his satin raiment, snow-white turban glistening with jewels and hooded falcon on wrist, and cursed the dogs under his breath when they turned and growled softly. But his curiosity was turned to a great amazement when his master passed into the court of the empty, luxuriant, perfumed harem, where once had loved and quarrelled, idled and fought, so many beautiful women.
Under the orders of the Ethiopian eunuch, giant twin of Qatim, in the service of Zulannah the courtesan, the harem was kept swept and garnished, adorned with flowers, aglow at nights with a myriad soft lights hanging from the ceiling in jewelled lamps, to which were flung the fountain’s perfumed drops, to fall and break on marble floor and silken cushion, inlaid table and bright-hued birds in jewelled cage.
There does exist a different kind of harem—dirty, gaudy, ill-kempt—somewhat like the inmates—over the whole of which ’tis wise to draw a veil.
The eunuch’s bankings-account—which was kept in a certain secret nook of the harem court—had become sadly depleted on account of his master’s eccentric views as regarded women, but he still lived in hope, and, delighting in intrigue, as every native does, had welcomed the advent of his ebony brother primed with gossip and suggestion.