“Alas, not in the palace.” The young captain’s look of regret deepened.
“But—but you telephoned your sister! You telephoned her this afternoon.”
“Ah, yes, but I spoke to a telephone which is in a palace near here—the palace of my uncle. I sent a servant with the message. But I can send a message to that palace,” he offered eagerly, “and they can telephone for you. Or I can send notes out to all the people you wish. The soldiers will call boys to deliver them.”
Across the girl’s perfectly white face a tremor of panic darted; then she bit her lips very hard and stared very intently past the Captain’s green and gold shoulder. She had totally forgotten the sister who had sunk on a divan beside them, her brown eyes rimmed in their dark pencilings turning from one to the other as if to read their faces.
“I’ll just speak to those soldiers, myself,” said Arlee decidedly. “I’ll make them understand.” She left them there, their eyes upon her and sped down the long room to the door which the Captain’s hurried entrance had left half open. She disappeared down the steps.
In three minutes she was back, a flame in the frightened white of her cheeks, a flame in the frightened blue of her eyes.
“Captain Kerissen,” she called, and he took a step nearer to her, his face alert with sympathy, “Captain Kerissen, that is a native soldier! He is at the bottom of the stairs—with a bayonet—and he will not let me pass. He doesn’t know a word I say. Please come and tell him.”
“Miss Beecher, it is useless for me to tell him anything,” said the young Turk with a ring of quiet conviction. “I have been talking to that one—and to the others. They are at every entrance. It is as I told you—we are prisoners.”
“Surely you can tell him that I am a guest—you can bribe him to turn his head, to let me slip by——”
“He would be shot if he let you out that street door. He has his orders to keep the ladies in their quarters and it is death to him to disobey. That is the discipline—and the discipline has no mercy—particularly upon the native soldiers.” His tone held bitterness. “It is useless to resist the soldiers. You must resign yourself to remain a guest until I can obtain word to one who can render assistance.... Will it be so hard?” he added sympathetically, as she stood silent, her lips pressed quiveringly together. “My sister will do everything——”
“Of course I can’t stay here,” broke in Arlee in her clear, positive young tones. “I must get back to the Evershams—and we are going up the Nile to-morrow morning. Can you get a message to that doctor at once? And have someone go and telephone from the next house to the consul and ambassador—and I’ll write them notes, too.”
Her voice broke suddenly. On what wings of folly she had come alone to this place! Her bright adventure was a stupid scrape. Oh, what mischance—what mischance! She was chokingly ashamed of the predicament—to be penned up by a quarantine in a Moslem household. She was angry, defiant and humiliated at once. What would the Evershams say—and Robert Falconer——