“In order to play the lover of Charmazel?” queried the Doctor.
“Exactly!” replied Gervase with flashing eyes; “I daresay I could have acted the part.”
“I should imagine you could act any part,” replied the Doctor, blandly. “The role of love-making comes easily to most men.”
The Princess looked at him as he spoke and smiled. The jewelled scarab, set as a brooch on her bosom, flashed luridly in the moon, and in her black eyes there was a similar lurid gleam.
“Come and talk to me,” she said, laying her hand on his arm; “I am tired, and the conversation of one’s ball-room partners is very banal. Monsieur Gervase would like me to dance all night, I imagine; but I am too lazy. I leave such energy to Lady Fulkeward and to all the English misses and madams. I love indolence.”
“Most Russian women do, I think,” observed the Doctor.
“But I am not Russian!”
“I know. I never thought you were,” he returned composedly; “but everyone in the hotel has come to the conclusion that you are!”
“They are all wrong! What can I do to put them right?” she inquired with a fascinating little upward movement of her eyebrows.
“Nothing! Leave them in their ignorance. I shall not enlighten them, though I know your nationality.”
“You do?” and a curious shadow darkened her features. “But perhaps you are wrong also!”
“I think not,” said the Doctor, with gentle obstinacy. “You are an Egyptian. Born in Egypt; born of Egypt. Pure Eastern! There is nothing Western about you. Is not it so?”
She looked at him enigmatically.
“You have made a near guess,” she replied; “but you are not absolutely correct. Originally, I am of Egypt.”
Dr. Dean nodded pleasantly.
“Originally,—yes. That is precisely what I mean—originally! Let me take you in to supper.”
He offered his arm, but Gervase made a hasty step forward.
“Princess,” he began—
She waved him off lightly.
“My dear Monsieur Gervase, we are not in the desert, where Bedouin chiefs do just as they like. We are in a modern hotel in Cairo, and all the good English mammas will be dreadfully shocked if I am seen too much with you. I have danced with you five times, remember! And I will dance with you once more before I leave. When our waltz begins, come and find me in the upper-room.”
She moved away on Dr. Dean’s arm, and Gervase moodily drew back and let her pass. When she had gone, he lit a cigarette and walked impatiently up and down the terrace, a heavy frown wrinkling his brows. The shadow of a man suddenly darkened the moonlight in front of him, and Denzil Murray’s hand fell on his shoulder.
“Gervase,” he said, huskily, “I must speak to you.”
Gervase glanced him up and down, taking note of his pale face and wild eyes with a certain good-humored regret and compassion.