Queen Sheba's Ring eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 303 pages of information about Queen Sheba's Ring.
difficulty after that event, we could not enter because of the transom that blocked the doorway.  Still, there were plenty of others at hand in the old temple, although they were foul with the refuse of the bats that wheeled about us in thousands, for these creatures evidently had some unknown access to the open air.  One of these rooms had served as our store-chamber, and after a few rough preparations we assigned it to Maqueda.

“Friends,” she said, as she surveyed its darksome entrance, “it looks like the door of a tomb.  Well, in the tomb there is rest, and rest I must have.  Leave me to sleep, who, were it not for you, O Oliver, would pray that I might never wake again.

“Man,” she added passionately, before us all, for now in face of the last peril every false shame and wish to conceal the truth had left her; “man, why were you born to bring woe upon my head and joy to my heart?  Well, well, the joy outweighs the woe, and even if the angel who led you hither is named Azrael, still I shall bless him who has revealed to me my soul.  Yet for you I weep, and if only your life could be spared to fulfil itself in happiness in the land that bore you, oh! for you I would gladly die.”

Now Oliver, who seemed deeply moved, stepped to her and began to whisper into her ear, evidently making some proposal of which I think I can guess the nature.  She listened to him, smiling sadly, and made a motion with her hand as though to thrust him away.

“Not so,” she said, “it is nobly offered, but did I accept, through whatever universes I may wander, those who came after me would know me by my trail of blood, the blood of him who loved me.  Perhaps, too, by that crime I should be separated from you for ever.  Moreover, I tell you that though all seems black as this thick darkness, I believe that things will yet end well for you and me—­in this world or another.”

Then she was gone, leaving Orme staring after her like a man in a trance.

“I daresay they will,” remarked Higgs sotto voce to me, “and that’s first-rate so far as they are concerned.  But what I should jolly well like to know is how they are going to end for us who haven’t got a charming lady to see us across the Styx.”

“You needn’t puzzle your brain over that,” I answered gloomily, “for I think there will soon be a few more skeletons in this beastly cave, that’s all.  Don’t you see that those Abati will believe we are burned in the palace?”

CHAPTER XIX

STARVATION

I was right.  The Abati did think that we had been burned.  It never occurred to them that we might have escaped to the underground city.  So at least I judged from the fact that they made no attempt to seek us there until they learned the truth in the fashion that I am about to describe.  If anything, this safety from our enemies added to the trials of those hideous days and nights.  Had there been assaults to repel and the excitement of striving against overwhelming odds, at any rate we should have found occupation for our minds and remaining energies.

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Queen Sheba's Ring from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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