Of all our tremendous journey across the desert until we had passed the forest and reached the plains which surrounded the mountains of Mur, there are, I think, but few incidents with which the reader need be troubled. The first of these was at Assouan, where a letter and various telegrams overtook Captain Orme, which, as by this time we had become intimate, he showed to me. They informed him that the clandestine infant whom his uncle left behind him had suddenly sickened and died of some childish ailment, so that he was once again heir to the large property which he thought he had lost, since the widow only took a life interest in some of the personalty. I congratulated him and said I supposed this meant that we should not have the pleasure of his company to Mur.
“Why not?” he asked. “I said I was going and I mean to go; indeed, I signed a document to that effect.”
“I daresay,” I answered, “but circumstances alter cases. If I might say so, an adventure that perhaps was good enough for a young and well-born man of spirit and enterprise without any particular resources, is no longer good enough for one who has the ball at his feet. Think what a ball it is to a man of your birth, intelligence, record, and now, great fortune come to you in youth. Why, with these advantages there is absolutely nothing that you cannot do in England. You can go into Parliament and rule the country; if you like you can become a peer. You can marry any one who isn’t of the blood royal; in short, with uncommonly little effort of your own, your career is made for you. Don’t throw away a silver spoon like that in order, perhaps, to die of thirst in the desert or be killed in a fight among unknown tribes.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” he answered. “I never set heart much on spoons, silver or other. When I lost this one I didn’t cry, and now that I have found it again I shan’t sing. Anyway, I am going on with you, and you can’t prevent me under the agreement. Only as I have got such a lot to leave, I suppose I had better make a will first and post it home, which is a bore.”
Just then the Professor came in, followed by an Arab thief of a dealer, with whom he was trying to bargain for some object of antiquity. When the dealer had been ejected and the position explained to him, Higgs, who whatever may be his failings in small matters, is unselfish enough in big ones, said that he agreed with me and thought that under the circumstances, in his own interest, Orme ought to leave us and return home.
“You may save your breath, old fellow,” answered the Captain, “for this reason if for no other,” and he threw him a letter across the table, which letter I saw afterwards. To be brief, it was from the young lady to whom he had been engaged to be married, and who on his loss of fortune had jilted him. Now she seemed to have changed her mind again, and, although she did not mention the matter, it is perhaps not uncharitable to suppose that the news of the death of the inconvenient child had something to do with her decision.