Vaguely the truth was stealing in upon the mind of the dancing-girl that she had been made party to a plot to murder Grantham. She had saved his life. He belonged to her now. She could hear him speaking, although for some reason she could not see him. A haze had come, blotting out everything but the still, ungainly figure which lay so near her upon the carpet, one clutching, fat hand, upon which a diamond glittered, outstretched so that it nearly touched her bare white feet.
“We must get out this way! The side door to the courtyard! None of us can afford to be mixed up in an affair of this sort.”
There was more confused movement and a buzz of excited voices— meaningless, chaotic. Zahara could feel the draught from the newly opened door. A thin stream of blood was stealing across the carpet. It had almost reached the fallen rose petals, which it strangely resembled in colour under the light of the lanterns.
As though dispersed by the draught, the haze lifted, and Zahara saw Grantham standing by the open doorway through which he had ushered out the other visitors.
Wide-eyed and piteous she met his glance. She had seen that night the Look in his eyes. She had saved his life, and there was much, so much, that she wanted to tell him. A thousand yearnings, inexplicable, hitherto unknown, deep mysteries of her soul, looked out of those great eyes.
“Don’t think,” he said tensely, “that I was deceived. I saw the trick with the rose! You are as guilty as your villainous lover! Murderess!”
He went out and closed the door. The flame-coloured cloak slowly slipped from Zahara’s shoulders, and the veils, like falling petals, began to drop gently one by one upon the blood-stained carpet.
THE SHADOW ON THE CURTAIN
“Singapore is by no means herself again,” declared Jennings, looking about the lounge of the Hotel de l’Europe. “Don’t you agree, Knox?”
Burton fixed his lazy stare upon the speaker.
“Don’t blame poor old Singapore,” he said. “There is no spot in this battered world that I have succeeded in discovering which is not changed for the worse.”
Dr. Matheson flicked ash from his cigar and smiled in that peculiarly happy manner which characterizes a certain American type and which lent a boyish charm to his personality.
“You are a pair of pessimists,” he pronounced. “For some reason best known to themselves Jennings and Knox have decided upon a Busman’s Holiday. Very well. Why grumble?”
“You are quite right, Doctor,” Jennings admitted. “When I was on service here in the Straits Settlements I declared heaven knows how often that the country would never see me again once I was demobbed. Yet here you see I am; Burton belongs here; but here’s Knox, and we are all as fed up as we can be!”