“Ground glass—the Old Boy!” said Billy through his teeth. He hoisted himself cautiously, and with his handkerchief swept the top of the wall as clean as he could. He heard the little pieces fall with a perilously loud tinkling sound, and flattened himself upon the wall, and strained his eyes through the darkness of the garden, but no alarm was raised. The shadows seemed empty.
He hoped to the Lord that no disturbance would break out in the garden, for the man below would be off in the canoe like a flash. He had no illusions about the one-eyed man’s loyalty, but the fellow was already in the secret; he was needy and resourceful and as trustworthy as any dragoman that he could have gone to. And a dragoman would have had a reputation and a patronage he’d fear to lose. This melancholy Arab, hawking crocodiles for a Greek Jew, had more to gain than lose.
By now he had caught the end of the rough hook over the top of the wall, and let down the knotted rope into the garden below. It was long enough, thank goodness, he thought, wondering under what circumstances and in what company he would ascend it again. Then with one more keen look into the garden, and a reassuring touch of the pocket where his revolver bulged, he gripped the rope and swiftly lowered himself.
Keeping close to the wall he pressed toward the buildings on the right, which he had been told was the wing of the harem, and as he stepped forward a flat black shadow near the wall came suddenly to life. It sprang to its feet, revealing a shrouded little form, wrapped and hooded in black, and ran to him with steps that stumbled in excitement.
“Quick, quick!” breathed an almost inaudible voice of terror, and Billy flung one strong arm about the girl and dashed toward the dangling rope. Gripping it with one hand he flung the light figure over his left shoulder, and with a cheerily whispered “Hang tight,” he threw himself into the ascent. It was arm-wrenching, muscle-racking work, with that dead weight upon him, but the touch of those soft arms clinging childishly about his neck seemed to double and treble his strength, and with incredible quickness he lifted her to the top of the wall, and then, catching her by the wrists, he lowered her into the upreaching clasp of the Arab.
An instant more and he had reversed his rope ladder and climbed down beside her as she stood waiting, and in the throbbing triumph of that moment he flung his arm grippingly about her to sweep her into the boat. But as she raised her face to his, the shrouding mantle fell away, and he found himself staring down into the exultant face and bright, dark eyes of a girl he had never seen before.
Back of them beyond the wall, pandemonium was breaking out.
[Illustration: “He found himself
staring down into the bright dark
eyes of a girl he had never seen”]