“You’ll do nothing of the sort!” exclaimed the girl with flaming color. “Why are you so suspicious?”
AT THE GRAY OF DAWN
It was very quiet in the wood by the river. A late moon swung its golden censer above the water by invisible chains, marking checkered aisles of light in the silent wood, burnishing elfin rosaries of dew, touching with cool, white fingers of benediction the leaf-cowled heads of stately trees. Like lines of solemn monks they stood listening raptly to the deep, full chant of the moving river. The sylvan mass of the night was a thing of infinite peace and mystery, of silence and solemnity.
Into the hush of the moonlit night came presently a jarring note, the infernal racket of a motorcycle. Philip, a lone sentry by the camp of his lady, stirred and frowned. The clatter ceased. Once again the lap of the restless river and the rustle of trees were the only sounds in the silent wood. Philip glanced at the muffled figure of the minstrel asleep on the ground by the dead embers of the camp fire, and leaning carelessly upon his elbow, fell again into the train of thought disturbed by the clatter.
“Herodotus!” said Philip. “Hum!” And roused to instant alertness by the crackle of a twig in the forest, he glanced sharply roadwards where the trees thinned.
There was something moving stealthily along in the shadows. With narrowed eyes the sentry noiselessly flattened himself upon the ground and fell to watching.
A stealthy crackle—and silence. A moving shadow—a halt!
A patch of moonlight lay ahead. For an interval which to Philip seemed unending, there was no sound or movement, then a figure glided swiftly through the patch of moonlight and approached the camp. It was a man in the garb of a motorcyclist.
Noiselessly Philip shifted his position. The cyclist crept to the shelter of a tree and halted.
The moon now hung above the wood. Its light, showering softly through the trees as the night wind swayed the branches, fell presently upon the camp and the face of the cyclist.
It was Themar.
Now as Philip watched, Themar crouched suddenly and fell to staring at the muffled figure by the camp fire. For an interval he crouched motionless; then with infinite caution he moved to the right. A branch swept his cap back from his forehead and Philip saw now that his face was white and staring.
And in that instant as he glanced at the horrified face of the Houdanian, Philip knew. The stained skin, the smooth-shaven chin and lip of the minstrel—if Themar had found them puzzling, the revealment had come to him, as it had come to Philip, in a flash of bewilderment.
With a bound, the startled American was on his feet, stealing rapidly toward the man by the tree. To the spying, the mystery, the infernal trickery and masquerading which dogged his lady’s trail, Themar held the key, wherefore—