Zulannah was not dead.
He lay terror-stricken for some long time, then slowly got to his knees, tore off the fine feathers and flung the scimitar into a far corner; then, naked save for the loin-cloth, sat down with his back to the straw and pulled at his curly oiled hair, a sure sign in him of deep thought.
Then he grinned and, rising, walked across the floor, and, sitting down again, pulled the woman from under the straw.
No! Zulannah was not dead, nor even fatally hurt, but she was horrible to look upon when the Ethiopian had washed her clean by means of a handful of straw dipped in a broken pitcher of water.
The dog’s great fangs had driven behind the ear, severing the mastoid nerve so that the mouth was pulled right up the left side of the face; it had also injured the muscle controlling the eyelid, causing it to droop and giving a diabolical leer to the once beautiful doe-like eye; it had also injured the muscle of the neck so that the head was slightly twisted; but, worst of all, the other dog had driven its terrible fangs into the muscle above the knees, injuring it so that she would never walk straight again.
And Qatim sat back on his haunches, and laughed, clapping his enormous hands.
She was not dead, and her hands were not injured, but she was too hideous to show herself unveiled and too twisted to be recognised in the street.
So all that was left to him to do was to cure her injuries—which he did, and quickly, under the advice of an old herbalist in the Silk Market,—and then sit down for the rest of his life whilst she drew strange little marks on those pale pink leaves.
“My faint spirit was sitting in the light Of thy looks, my love; It panted for thee like the hind at noon For the brooks, my love.”
For some inexplicable reason, the little old lady’s trust in Jill’s son was unshakable. Why, she could not have well explained. It might have been because of his ability to hide his hurt or the memory of his words spoken as the fortune-teller on the night of the ball, or perhaps through his self-denial in refraining from using his mother’s erstwhile friendship with the old aristocrat, as a key to the door which was locked fast between himself and the girl he loved.
After all, such marriages had taken place, thousands of them, so why should not his with the beautiful girl be added to the list, the outcome thereof proving the proverbial exception to the inevitable disastrous ending of all such unions?
Why did he deny himself?
Just because he loved the girl with the same all-sacrificing love his white mother had given his Arabian father.
If it had been otherwise, with never a second thought he would have lifted the girl, as doubtlessly his ancestors had oft-times lifted women in their gazus or raids, and left the consequences in the hands of that old beldame Fate.