The Safety Curtain, and Other Stories eBook

Ethel May Dell
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 321 pages of information about The Safety Curtain, and Other Stories.

Tudor silenced him summarily with a hand upon his lips.

“I know, I know!” he said.  “There is no time for this.  Leave it and go.  If it is any comfort to you to know it, I think no evil of you.  I realise that what has happened had to happen, was in a sense inevitable, and I blame myself alone.  Listen to me.  This disguise will take you through all right if you keep your mouth shut.  You are a priest, remember, preaching the Jehad, only I’ve done all the preaching necessary.  You have simply to walk straight through them, down the hill till you come to the pass, and then along the river-bed till you strike the road to the Frontier.  It’s six miles away, but you will do it before sunrise.  No, don’t speak!  I haven’t finished yet.  You are going to do this not for your own sake or for mine.  You think you are going to refuse, but you are not.  As for me, your going or staying could make no difference.  I have come with a certain object in view, but I shall remain, whether I gain that object or not.  That I swear to you most solemnly.”

He turned away with the words and began to loosen his sandals.  Phil watched him dumbly.  He was face to face with a difficulty of such monstrous proportions that he was utterly nonplussed.  From the distance came the sound of voices.

“You had better go,” observed Tudor, in steady tones.  “The guards are coming back.  It will hasten matters for both of us if we are discovered like this.”

“Sir!” Phil burst out suddenly.  “I—­can’t!”

Tudor wheeled swiftly.  It was almost as if he had been waiting for that desperate appeal.  He caught up the native garment and flung it over Phil’s shoulders.  He dragged the beard down over his face and secured the chuddah about his head.  He did it all with incredible rapidity and a strength that would not be gainsaid.

Then, holding Phil fast in a merciless, irresistible grasp, he spoke: 

“If you attempt to disobey me now, I’ll kill myself with my own hands.”

There was no mistaking the resolution of his voice, and it wrought the end of the battle—­an end inevitable.  Phil realised it and accepted it with a groan.  He did not utter another word of protest.  He was conquered, humiliated, powerless.  Only when at last he was ready to depart he stood up and faced Tudor, as he had faced him on the day that the latter had refused to give him a hearing.

“I’ve given in to you,” he said; “but it’s to save your life, if possible, and for no other reason.  You can think what you like of me, but not—­of her!  Because, before Heaven, I believe this will break her heart.”

He would have said more, but Tudor cut him short.

“Go!” he said.  “Go!  I know what I am doing—­better than you think!”

And Phil turned in silence and went out into the world-wide starlight.



Project Gutenberg
The Safety Curtain, and Other Stories from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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