“Why, how—how did he know? Before——”
“He guessed. He was uneasy from the beginning—he made conjectures and set himself to verify them.”
After a moment, “I never knew—that!” said Arlee in slow wonder.
“Well, you know now,” returned Falconer with a sense of grim justice to the man he had belittled.
In the silence the girl moved toward the steps. He made a gesture to stay her.
“You’re not going—yet?”
“Yet?” she echoed, faintly mocking. “It’s hours.”
“But—but we can never see this again,” he argued, weakly, parrying with himself.
“We won’t—forget it.”
The words held a too-keen prophecy for him. He looked at her in heart-beating uncertainty, and it seemed to him that all his future was waiting on that moment. Should he speak? Should he utter that which had been so near utterance when her astounding revelation had stopped him?... After all, he knew nothing of her—but that she was lovely and wilful and enchanting—with a capacity for risk—and a dire disregard of consequences.... She was volatile, unstable, bewildering—so he thought stiffeningly as he looked at her, but he looked too long.
She was the very spirit of loveliness in the silver moon, her hair a crown of light, her eyes deep with shadowy wistfulness, her lips half sad, half tender.... He felt the blood burn hot in his face, and took a quick step to bar the way.
“You must wait to hear what I was saying,” he said, with a ring of new command.
She gave him a sudden, startled look, and moved as if to pass him.
“You were saying—nothing,” she answered proudly.
“I was saying—everything,” he gave back incoherently. “Oh, Arlee, do you think that story stops me! Don’t you know—how much I want you?” and with sudden vehemence he bent to clasp her in his arms.
THE BETTER MAN
Down in the court of Rameses, Lady Claire and Hill were straying. A most opportune old bachelor, passing with a party of acquaintances, had diverted even Emma Falconer from her dragoning, and the young English girl and her American escort were left for the time to their own devices.
Not much was said. Claire, who had been fitfully gay all afternoon, grew still as a church mouse now as they paced back and forth in the shadows, stealing a slant glance from time to time at Billy’s set and silent face. She wondered a little at his absorption. But chiefly she was thinking that she had never seen him look so handsome ... with his brows knitted and his clear-cut lips pressed sharply together ... but the boy of him somehow kept by that wilful lock of black hair over his forehead.