THE GIRL FROM THE HAREM
He was dumb with the shock. Then, “Who are you?” he demanded. “And where is she—where is Arlee Beecher?”
On her own face the astonishment grew. “What you mean? Frederick—he not send you?” she gasped, and then as the outcries grew louder and louder behind them she gripped convulsively at his arms. “Oh, quick! come away—quick, quick!” she besought.
“I came for Arlee Beecher—an American girl. Isn’t she held here? Isn’t she back there?”
“What you going to do? What——”
“I’m going to get her!” he said fiercely. “Tell me——”
He had caught her and unconsciously shook her as if to shake the words out of her. Furiously she struggled with him.
“Let me go. No, no, she is not there! No one is there! You are gone crazy to stay! They will kill me if they catch me—they will fire over the wall. Oh, for God’s sake, help me quick!”
“She’s not there?” he repeated stupidly, and then at her vehement “No, no! I tell you no!” he drew a breath of deep astonishment and chagrin, and turned to stow her safely low in the boat. Hurriedly he and the one-eyed man bent over their paddles, and very swiftly the long, dark canoe went gliding down the stream, but not any too swiftly, for in an instant they heard a triumphant yell behind them, and then light, thudding feet along the path.
Steadily Billy urged the canoe forward with powerful strokes that seemed to be lifting it out of the water at each impulse, and they swept past a wall that reaching to the river bank must block their pursuers for a time, and though there was a path after that, there was soon another wall, and no more pursuit along the water edge. But every opening ahead now might mean an ambush, and as soon as a narrow lane showed between the houses to the left, the one-eyed man steered swiftly there and Billy sprang out with the girl and they raced through the lane into the adjoining street.
He looked up and down it; either they had got out at the wrong lane or the cab they had ordered to be in waiting had failed them, but there was no time for speculation and they walked on as fast as they could without the appearance of flight. The stray loiterers on the dark street stared curiously as they passed, to see a young American in gray tweeds, his cap pulled over his eyes, with a woman in the Mohammedan wrap and mantle, but no one stopped them, and in another minute they saw a lonely cab rattling through the streets and climbed quickly in.
“And now, for Heaven’s sake, tell me all about it!” besought Billy B. Hill, staring curiously at his most unforeseen companion.
With a deep-drawn sigh of relief she had snuggled back against the cushioned seat, and now she flung off the shrouding mantle and looked up to meet his gaze with a smile of excited triumph.