And clapping his hat well down over his eyes, he began to walk away in a strange condition of excitement, which he evidently had some difficulty in suppressing. Suddenly, however, he turned, came back and tapped Gervase smartly on the chest.
“You are the man for the Princess,” he said impressively. “There is a madness in you which you call love for her; you are her fitting mate, not that poor boy, Denzil Murray. In certain men and women spirit leaps to spirit,—note responds to note—and if all the world were to interpose its trumpery bulk, nothing could prevent such tumultuous forces rushing together. Follow your destiny, Monsieur Gervase, but do not ruin another man’s life on the way. Follow your destiny,—complete it,—you are bound to do so,—but in the havoc and wildness to come, for God’s sake, let the innocent go free!”
He spoke with extraordinary solemnity, and Gervase stared at him in utter bewilderment and perplexity, not understanding in the least what he meant. But before he could interpose a word or ask a question, Dr. Dean had gone.
The next two or three days passed without any incident of interest occurring to move the languid calm and excite the fleeting interest of the fashionable English and European visitors who were congregated at the Gezireh Palace Hotel. The anxious flirtations of Dolly and Muriel Chetwynd Lyle afforded subjects of mirth to the profane,—the wonderfully youthful toilettes of Lady Fulkeward provided several keynotes from which to strike frivolous conversation,—and when the great painter, Armand Gervase, actually made a sketch of her ladyship for his own amusement, and made her look about sixteen, and girlish at that, his popularity knew no bounds. Everyone wanted to give him a commission, particularly the elderly fair, and he could have made a fortune had he chosen, after the example set him by the English academicians, by painting the portraits of ugly nobodies who were ready to pay any price to be turned out as handsome somebodies. But he was too restless and ill at ease to apply himself steadily to work,—the glowing skies of Egypt, the picturesque groups of natives to be seen at every turn,—the curious corners of old Cairo—these made no impression upon his mind at all, and when he was alone, he passed whole half hours staring at the strange picture he had made of the Princess Ziska, wherein the face of death seemed confronting him through a mask of life. And he welcomed with a strong sense of relief and expectation the long-looked-for evening of the Princess’s “reception,” to which many of the visitors in Cairo had been invited since a fortnight, and which those persons who always profess to be “in the know,” even if they are wallowing in ignorance, declared would surpass any entertainment ever given during the Cairene season.