Just an instant Arlee hesitated, while her imagination fluttered about the thought like humming-birds about sweets. Already she was thinking of the story she could have to tell to her fellow travelers here and to the people at home. It was a chance, she repeated to herself, in a thousand, and the familiar details of phones and motors seemed to rob its suddenness of all strangeness.... Besides, there was that matter of the Khedive’s ball. It would be very ungracious to refuse a few minutes’ visit to a lady who was going to so much trouble for her.
“I will be ready in ten minutes,” she promised, springing to her feet.
The forgotten letters scattered like a fall of snow and the Captain stooped quickly for them, hiding the flash of exultation in his face. He thrust the letters rather hurriedly upon her.
“Good!... But need you wait for a toilette when you are so—so ravissante now?”
He gazed with frank appreciation at the linen suit she was wearing, but she shook her head laughingly at him. “To be interesting to a foreign lady I must have interesting clothes,” she avowed. “I shan’t be ten minutes—really.”
“Then the car will be in waiting. I will give your name to the chauffeur and he will approach you.” He thought a minute, and then said, quickly, “And I will leave a note for Madame Eversham at the desk to inform her of your destination and to express my regret that she is not here to accept the invitation.” His voice was flavored with droll irony. “In ten minutes—bien sur?”
She confirmed it most positively, and it really was not quite eighteen when she stepped out on the veranda, a vision, a positively devastating vision in soft and filmy white, with a soft and filmy hat all white lace and a pink rose. It is to be hoped that she did not know how she looked. Otherwise there would have been no excuse for her and she should have been summarily haled to the nearest justice, with all other breakers of the peace, and condemned to good conduct and Shaker bonnets for the rest of her life. The rose on the hat, with such a rose of a face beneath the hat, was sheer wanton cruelty to mankind.
It brought the heart into the throat of one young man who was reading his paper beneath the striped awning, when he was not watching, cat-like, the streets and the hotel door. He dropped the paper with an agitated rustle and half rose to his feet; his eyes, alert and humorous gray-blue eyes, lighted with eagerness. His hand flew up to his hat.
He did not need to take it off. She did not even see him. She was hurrying forward to the steps, following a long, lean Arab, some dragoman, apparently, in resplendent pongee robes, who opened the door of a limousine for her. The next instant he slammed the door upon her, mounted the front seat, and the car rolled away.