“S-sh!” came the warning response, and then, her eyes staring into the shadowy recess, she saw the curtains at the back side of the bed were parting as a figure appeared between them.
“Give me a box, a book—somethings to put here in this lock,” commanded the voice peremptorily, and in a daze Arlee found herself extending a magazine across the bed toward the half-seen figure, who turned and busied herself about the curtains a moment, then came straight across the bed into the room beside Arlee.
“Now you see who I am,” said the astonishing intruder calmly.
Mutely Arlee shook her head, seeing only a figure about her own height clad in a dark negligee. Dumfounded she stood watching while her visitor deliberately lighted a candle.
“So—that is better,” she observed, and in the light of the tiny taper between them the two stood facing each other.
Arlee saw a girl some years older than herself, a small, plump, rounded creature, with a flaunting and insouciant prettiness. Her eyes were dark and bright, her babyish lips were full and scarlet, her nose was whimsically uptilted. Dark hair curled closely to the vivid face and fell in ringlets over the white neck.
“You don’t know me?” she said in astonishment at Arlee’s eyes of wonder. “He has not told you?” Incredulity, impertinent and mocking, darted out of the dark eyes. “What you think then—you what got my room?”
“Your room?” Arlee echoed faintly. She flung a quivering hand toward the bed. “How did you get in here? I locked the door——”
“You see how I came—I came by the panel,” She waited a moment, watching the wide blue eyes before her, the parted lips, the white cheeks in which the blood was slowly stealing back, and incredulity gave way to astonished acceptance. “You don’t know that, either? That is very funny.”
“Did you lock it?” was Arlee’s next breathless question. “What was that you said about putting in a magazine? Did you leave it open?”
The other girl reached quickly and caught her arm, as Arlee turned toward the bed. “No, no, if it goes shut we cannot open it inside,” she warned. “It does not open this side unless you have the key. It opens from without. But he will not come in now—he is at the Khedive’s palace. We are all right.”
“But I want to get away,” cried Arlee. She turned upon this other girl great eyes of pitiful entreaty, eyes where the dark shadows about them lay like cruel bruises on the white flesh. “I must get away at once. Won’t you help me?”
“Help you? I would help myself, if I could. But there is no way out. It is no use.” The unknown girl spoke with a bitterness that brought conviction. Piteously the flare of hope and spirit wilted.
“You are sure?” she questioned faintly. “There is no way out?”
“No way, no way!” The other shook her head impatiently. “Do I not know? Let us talk of that again. Now I came to see you, to see what pretty face had sent me packing!” She laughed, but there was ugliness in the laughter, and catching up the candle she held it before Arlee, her face impudently close, her eyes black darts of curiosity.