“I must not tire my guest,” he said, and stood aside to let her pass up the narrow stone steps.
“We shall have other walks,” he added, and the chill, delicate menace of those words went with Arlee Beecher to the rose and white room, and kept her sorry company through the long and restless hours.
WITHIN THE WALLS
Again the knocking, muffled but softly insistent, and Arlee’s eyes, heavy with tardy sleep, came slowly open, resting blankly on the glittering strangeness of the room. The daylight was streaming in the wide windows, striking brightly on the white enameled furniture which had glimmered so ghost-like through the wakeful darkness of the night, and flung back in dancing points of color from the mirrors and the glass and gold of toilet pieces. The air was hot and close, as if the first freshness of the morning was already past.
Again through the heavy door came the knocking and the soft reassurance of a girl’s voice. Arlee sprang from the couch where she had lain down that night, not undressed, but with her white frock exchanged for the negligee she had found laid out for her among other things, and hurried toward the door where she had piled two chairs to supplement the lock—a foolish-looking barricade in the shining light of day, she thought, her lips lifting whimsically.
The young Turkish maid entered with a huge jar of water which she emptied into the bath, returning to the door to take in another and yet another and another from some unseen porter, and pouring these into the bath, she added a spray of perfume and laid out powders and towels, smiling the while at Arlee, with the fascinated interest of a child.
“Do you speak English?” said Arlee eagerly.
But the girl laughed and shook her head at the question, and at the French and German with which Arlee next addressed her, and answered in soft Turkish, at which it was Arlee’s turn to laugh and shake her head. But she felt a little rueful behind her pleasant smiling. She wished she could talk with the girl. She wondered about her. She had very handsome dark eyes, though perhaps overbold at times, but her lips were thick and her nose was flattened as if generations of yashmak-wearing women had crushed every hope of contour.
The cool freshness of the water was grateful to her senses. It was a plunge back into sanity and normal life again, drowning those ghosts of vague foreboding and anxieties which had kept such unpleasant vigil with her, and when the Turkish girl returned with a tray, Arlee was able to sit and eat breakfast with a trace of amusement at the oddity of the affair—sipping coffee in this Parisian boudoir overlooking an Egyptian garden.
As she was buttering a last crumb of toast the girl re-entered with a box from the florist. Her white teeth flashing at Arlee in a smile of admiring interest, she broke the cord with thick fingers and Arlee found the box full of roses, creamy pink and dewy fresh. The Captain’s card was enclosed, and across the back of it he had written a message: