Ronador’s eyes blazed.
“Go, go!” he cried, his face quite colorless, “for the love of God go before I kill you! I—I can not bear any more to-night.”
Who had scored! For Ronador, at least, in the guileful hands of a traitor who by reason of a strong maternal sympathy desired the alliance of Ronador and Princess Phaedra, there was doubt and bitter suffering. And he might not return to the music-machine.
Themar’s thin lips smiled but he wisely retreated.
Northward to Jacksonville had journeyed the camp of the Indian girl, bearing away Diane, to Aunt Agatha’s unspeakable agitation. Now, joining forces, these two forest friends, linked in an idle moment by the nameless freemasonry of the woodland, were winding happily south along the seacoast. Nights their camps lay side by side.
Keela, with shy and delightful gravity, slipped wide-eyed into the niceties of civilization, coiled her heavy hair in the fashion of Diane and copied her dress naively. Diane felt a thrill of satisfaction at this singular finding of a friend whose veins knew the restless stir of nomadic blood, a friend who was fleeter of foot, keener of vision and hearing and better versed in the ways of the woodland than Diane herself. And Diane had known no peer in the world of white men.
There were gray dawns when a pair of silent riders went galloping through the stillness upon the Westfall horses, riding easily without saddles; there were twilights when they swam in sheltered pools like wild brown nymphs; there were quiet hours by the camp fire when the inborn reticence of the Indian girl vanished in the frank sincerity of Diane’s friendship. Of Mr. Poynter and the hay-camp there was no sign.
“Doubtless,” considered Diane disdainfully, “he has come at last to his senses. And I’m very glad he has, very glad indeed. It’s time he did. I think I made my displeasure sufficiently clear at the exceedingly tricky way he and the Baron conducted themselves at Palm Beach. And the Baron was no better than Philip. Indeed, I think he was very much worse. If Philip hadn’t wandered about in the garb of Herodotus and murmured that impertinence about ‘frost in Florida’ it wouldn’t have been so bad. It’s a very unfortunate thing, however, that he never seems to remember one’s displeasure or the cause of it.”
But for one who rejoiced in Mr. Poynter’s belated inheritance of common sense, Diane’s comment a few days later was very singular.
“I wonder,” she reflected uncomfortably, “if Philip understands smoke signals. He may be lost.”
But Philip was not lost. He was merely discreet.
A lonely beach fringed in sand hills lay before the camp. Beyond rolled the ocean, itself a melancholy solitude droning under an azure sky. There were beach birds running in flocks down the sand as the white-ridged foam receded; overhead an Indian file of pelicans winged briskly out to sea.