“A man on horseback,” said Arlee anxiously. “They can’t have traced us, can they, all this way——?”
“Of course not—but we’ll take no chances,” returned Billy briskly; “no more talk of pedestrian tours now!” and promptly he helped the girl, no longer demurring, into the saddle, and thwacked her camel into arising, just dodging the long, yellow teeth that the resentful beast tried to fasten upon his shoulder.
They started at no soothing walk, but at a hurrying trot.
Worriedly, her delicate brows knitting, “It’s absurd, but,” said Arlee, “they could have traced us, I suppose, from my telegraphing at that little native station for my trunks to be sent.”
“And mine,” said Billy. “And from my trying to get my letter of credit cashed.”
“That Captain could have telegraphed to all the places down the line to know if we’d been seen——”
“Even if we hadn’t wired or tried to get money, our presence alone and our buying food would have aroused talk. I told everybody,” the young man continued, “that I was an artist and you were my sister, and that passed all right—but if Kerissen has been making inquiries——”
“I’m desperately glad we didn’t go back toward Assiout,” she thrust in. “We’d have walked right into some trap of his!”
“Lord knows what we ought to have done! Lord knows what we ought to do now!”
“Just keep on going,” she encouraged. “We can’t be very far from Girgeh, can we?”
“I don’t know,” said Billy soberly. “It may be half a day or a whole day more—you remember how vague that old woman was last night...!” Bitterly he added, “And I’m afraid you’ve got a chump of a guide.”
“I’ve the best one in the world!” she flashed indignantly.
But her assurance brought no solace to the young man’s troubled soul. He reflected that they could have taken a train the day before. To be sure, he had not money enough for tickets to Luxor, yet he had enough for two to Girgeh. But Arlee had shrunk from entering a train in her dishevelled costume, fearful of watching eyes and gossiping tongues, and had advised riding on to Girgeh, where shops and banks would help them, and he had yielded apparently to her desires, but in reality to his own secret self that clung to every joyful contraband moment of this magic time with her. Sincerely he had thought their danger ended.... But those trailing horsemen—“Brute!” he raged dumbly at himself. “Dolt! Idiot!”
Anxiously Billy looked at Arlee. It was an ordeal of a ride.
They had ridden on in silence, occasionally glancing back over their shoulders. At last Arlee said, quietly, “Do you see anything—over there—to the left?”
Billy had been seeing it for fifteen minutes.
“Another horseman, isn’t it?” he carelessly suggested.
“He seems to be riding the same way we are.”
“Well, we’ve no monopoly of travel in this region.”