Ann returned from her visit to the Indian camp scintillant with italics and enthusiasm.
“My dear,” she said, “I’m wild about her—quite wild! . . . I’m going again and again! . . . If I knew half as much and were half as lovely— Why, do you know, Diane, she set me right about some ridiculous quotation, and I never try to get them straight, for half the time I find my own way so much more expressive. . . . There’s Philip Poynter with a tennis racquet again! Diane, I’m losing patience with him.”
From her madcap craving for new sensation, Ann was destined to evolve an inspiration which with customary energy and Diane’s interested connivance she swept through to fruition, unaware that Fate marched, leering, at her heels.
THE BLACK PALMER
Curious things may happen when masked men hold revel under a moonlit sky.
Thus in a tropical garden of palm and fountain, of dark, shifting shadows and a thousand softly luminous Chinese lanterns swaying in a breeze of spice, a Bedouin talked to an ancient Greek.
“He is here?” asked the Bedouin with an accent slightly foreign.
“Yes,” said the Greek. “He is here and immensely relieved, I take it, to be rid of the jurisdiction of the hay-camp.”
“I fancied he would not dare—”
“A man in love,” commented the Greek dryly, “dares much for the sake of his lady. One may conceivably lack discretion without forfeiting his claim to courage.”
“The disguise of his stained and shaven face,” hinted the Bedouin grimly, “has made him over-confident. Having tested it with apparent success upon you—”
“Even so. But he has forgotten that few men have such striking eyes.”
“If he has taken the pains to assure himself of my whereabouts,” rumbled the Bedouin, “as he surely has, I am of course still blistering in extreme southern Florida, hunting tarpon. I have a permanent Washington address which I have taken pains to notify of my interest in tarpon and to which he writes. These incognito days,” added the Bedouin with a slight smile, “my cipher communications cross an ocean and return immediately by trusted hands to America, though I, of course, know nothing of it. Those from my charming minstrel to me—make similar tours.”
“You—my secretary—having spent a few days with the Sherrills on your way to join me after months of frivoling with a hay-camp, have been forced by telegram to depart before the fete de nuit to which Miss Sherrill begged our attendance. Rest assured he knows that too. Therefore, to unmask unobtrusively and slip away to his room, and in the absence of other guests to linger for a week of incognito quiet—voila! he is quite safe though imprudent!”
Greek and Bedouin fell silent, watching the laughing pageant in the garden.