“I think kindly of you now,” she answered tremulously; then, not trusting herself to say any more, she turned swiftly and left him.
“The flame and the moth!” he mused, watching her slight figure till it had disappeared. “Yes, it is the only fitting symbol. Love must be always so. Sudden, impetuous, ungovernable, and then—the end! To stretch out the divine passion over life-long breakfasts and dinners! It would be intolerable to me. Lord Fulkeward could do that sort of thing; his chest is narrow, and his sentiments are as limited as his chest. He would duly kiss his wife every morning and evening, and he would not analyze the fact that no special thrill of joy stirred in him at the action. What should he do with thrills of joy—this poor Fulkeward? And yet it is likely he will marry Helen. Or will it be the Courtney animal,—the type of man whose one idea is ‘to arise, kill, and eat?’ “Ah, well!” and he sighed. “She is not for me, this maiden grace of womanhood. If I married her, I should make her miserable. I am made for passion, not for peace.”
He started as he heard a step behind him, and turning, saw Dr. Dean. The worthy little savant looked worried and preoccupied.
“I have had a letter from the Princess Ziska,” he said, without any preliminary. “She has gone to secures rooms at the Mena House Hotel, which is situated close to the Pyramids. She regrets she cannot enter into the idea of taking a trip up the Nile. She has no time, she says, as she is soon leaving Cairo. But she suggests that we should make up a party for the Mena House while she is staying there, as she can, so she tells me, make the Pyramids much more interesting for us by her intimate knowledge of them. Now, to me this is a very tempting offer, but I should not care to go alone.”
“The Murrays will go, I am sure,” murmured Gervase lazily. “At any rate, Denzil will.”
The Doctor looked at him narrowly.
“If Denzil goes, so will you go,” he said. “Thus there are two already booked for company. And I fancy the Fulkewards might like the idea.”
“The Princess is leaving Cairo?” queried Gervase presently, as though it were an after thought.
“So she informs me in her letter. The party which is to come off on Wednesday night is her last reception.”
Gervase was silent a moment. Then he said:
“Have you told Denzil?”
“Better do so then,” and Gervase glanced up at the sky, now glowing red with a fiery sunset. “He wants to propose, you know.”
“Good God!” cried the Doctor, sharply, “If he proposes to that woman. ...”
“Why should he not?” demanded Gervase. “Is she not as ripe for love and fit for marriage as any other of her sex?”
“Her sex!” echoed the Doctor grimly. “Her sex!—There!—for heaven’s sake don’t talk to me!—leave me alone! The Princess Ziska is like no woman living; she has none of the sentiments of a woman,—and the notion of Denzil’s being such a fool as to think of proposing to her—Oh, leave me alone, I tell you! Let me worry this out!”