Some one was stirring in the anteroom, and Arlee darted to the left of the throne-chair and through the door there which stood ajar. She was in a dim salon, like the one that she had left, but smaller, and across from her was another door. She flew toward it, wild with the hope of escape, and it opened before her eager hands.
From the shadows of the room it disclosed came a figure with a quick cry. So suddenly it came, so tumultuously it threw itself toward her that Arlee had a startled vision of bare arms, glittering with jeweled bands, arrested outstretched before her as the low gladness of the cry broke in an angry guttural. Slowly the arms dropped in a gesture of despair. She saw a face, distorted, passionate, grow haggard beneath its paint in the reversal of hope.
“Madame!” stammered Arlee to that strange figure of her hostess. “Madame—Oh, pardon me,” she cried, snatching at her French, “but tell me how I can go away from here. Tell me——”
“C’est toi—va-t-en!” the woman answered in a voice of smothered fury. She made a menacing gesture toward the door. “Va-t-en.” Suddenly her voice rose in a passion of angry phrases that were indistinguishable to the girl, and then she broke off as suddenly and flung herself down upon a couch. From behind her the old woman came shuffling forth and put a hand on Arlee’s arm, and Arlee felt the muscles of that hand as strong and rigid as a man’s. Utterly confused and bewildered, the girl suffered herself to be led back through the rooms to the foot of her stairs.
“Mariayah!” screamed the old woman, and after a moment the voice of waiting-maid answered from above, and then as Arlee dumbly ascended the stairs, the voice of the old woman rose with her in shrill admonition.
It was the voice of a jailer, thought the white-lipped girl, and that little, dark-skinned maid who waited upon her so eagerly, with such sidelong glances of strange interest, was the tool of a jailer. And though the turning of the key in her own hand gave her a momentary sense of refuge from them, it was but a false illusion of the moment. There was neither refuge nor safety here. She was being deceived ...
The quarantine was lifted.
How else could the Captain be cantering down the street? He did not look like a man escaping.... Perhaps he had bribed the doorkeeper—that which he had declared impossible for Arlee.... But certainly he was deceiving her.
Like a swollen river bursting its banks, her racing mind, wild with suspicion, surged out of its simple channels and swirled in every direction.... What did he mean? What was he trying to do? Keep her in ignorance of the outside world, detain her as long as he dared while the Evershams’ absence left her friendless, and inflict his dreadful love-making upon her? Perhaps he thought that he could fascinate her!
She laughed aloud, but it was such a ghostly little laugh that it set her nerves jumping. She stopped in her feverish pacing of the floor; she tried to control her racing mind, she tried to be very calm and to plan.