Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: A Son of the Sahara
Author: Gerard, Louise
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Son of the Sahara" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



[Frontispiece: With Annette limp across his saddle, Casim Ammeh sped
away.]



A SON OF THE SAHARA


BY

LOUISE GERARD



  _With Illustrations from the Photo-Play_
  "A FIRST NATIONAL ATTRACTION"

  _Featuring_ BERT LYTELL AND CLAIRE WINDSOR



NEW YORK

THE MACAULAY COMPANY



COPYRIGHT, 1922,

BY THE MACAULAY COMPANY



PRINTED IN THE U. S. A.



TO

MY FRIEND

DOROTHEA THORNTON CLARKE

WITHOUT WHOSE HELP AND CONSTANT ENCOURAGEMENT

NEITHER THIS NOR ANY OF MY BOOKS

WOULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN



PREFACE

A beach of white sand, the whisper of palms answering the murmuring
moonlit sea, the fragrance of orange blossoms, the perfume of roses and
syringa,--that is Grand Canary, a bit of Heaven dropped into the
Atlantic; overlooked by writers and painters in general.  Surely one
can be pardoned a bit of praise and promise for this story, laid, as it
is in part, in that magic island.

The Canaries properly belong to the African continent.  That is best
proven by their original inhabitants who were of pure Berber stock.
The islands are the stepping stone between Europe and the Sahara.
Mysterious Arabs and a continual stream of those silent men who come
and go from the great desert tarry there for a while, giving color and
romance to the big hotels.

The petty gossip, the real news of the Sahara "breaks" there.--Weird,
passionate tales; believable or not, they carry an undercurrent of
reality that thrills.

From such a source came this story.  Unaltered in fact, it is given to
you, the life story of a man and a woman who turned their backs on
worldly conventions that they might find happiness.  If it is frank,
forgive it.  Life near the Equator is not a milk and water affair.

THE PUBLISHERS.



CONTENTS


PART I

PART II

PART III



ILLUSTRATIONS


With Annette limp across his saddle, Casim Ammeh
  sped away . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_

He had come to the harem to say farewell

For sale as a common slave at the Taureg auction block

"Let us both dance for you, so that you may judge between us"



PART I



A Son of the Sahara


CHAPTER I

In the days when France was pursuing a vigorous forward policy in
Africa, a policy started by General Faidherbe and carried on by
subsequent governors, one of the bravest among her pioneer soldiers was
Colonel Raoul Le Breton.

He was a big, handsome man with a swarthy complexion, coal-black hair
and dark, fiery eyes, by nature impetuous and reckless.  With a trio of
white sergeants and a hundred Senegalese soldiers, he would
attempt--and accomplish--things that no man with ten times his
following would have attempted.

But there came a day when even his luck failed.

He left St. Louis, in Senegal, and went upwards to the north-east,
intending to pierce the heart of the Sahara.  From that expedition,
however, he never returned.  The Government at St. Louis assumed that
he and his little pioneer force had been wiped out by some hostile
negro king or Arab chief.  It was but one of the tragedies attached to
extending a nation's territory.

When Raoul Le Breton went on that ill-fated expedition, he did what no
man should have done who attempts to explore the Back of Beyond with an
indifferent force.

He took his wife with him.

There was some excuse for this piece of folly.  He was newly married.
He adored his wife, and she worshipped him, and refused to let him go
unless she went also.

She was barely half his age; a girl just fresh from a convent school,
whom he had met and married in Paris during his last leave.

Colonel Le Breton journeyed for weeks through an arid country, an
almost trackless expanse of poor grass and stunted scrub, until he
reached the edge of the Sahara.

Annette Le Breton enjoyed her travels.  She did not mind the life in
tents, the rough jolting of her camel, the poor food, the heat, the
flies; she minded nothing so long as she was with her husband.  He was
a man of rare fascination, as many women had found to their cost; a
light lover until Annette had come into his life and captured his
straying heart once and for all.

On the edge of the Sahara Le Breton met a man who, on the surface at
least, appeared to see even more quickly than the majority of negro
kings and Arab chiefs he had come in contact with, the advantages
attached to being under the shadow of the French flag.

It would be difficult to say where the Sultan Casim Ammeh came from.
He appeared one afternoon riding like a madman out of the blazing
distance; a picturesque figure in his flowing white burnoose, sitting
his black stallion like a centaur.

He was a young man, perhaps about twenty-four, of medium height, lean
and lithe and brown, with fierce black eyes and a cruel mouth: the
hereditary ruler of that portion of the Sahara.  His capital was a
walled city that, so far, had not been visited by any European.  In his
way he was a man of great wealth, and he added to that wealth by
frequent marauding expeditions and slave-dealing.

With a slight smile he listened to all the Frenchman had to say.
Already he had heard of France--a great Power, creeping slowly
onwards--and he wondered whether he was strong enough to oppose it, or
whether the wiser plan might not be just to rest secure under the
shadow of its distant wing, and under its protection continue his wild,
marauding life as usual.

As he sat with Colonel Le Breton in the latter's tent, something
happened which caused the Sultan Casim Ammeh to make up his mind very
quickly.

It was late afternoon.  From the open flap of the tent an endless,
rolling expense of sand showed, with here and there a knot of coarse,
twisted grass, a dwarfed shrub, or a flare of red-flowered, distorted
cacti.  The French officer's camp was pitched by an oasis; a little
group of date palms, where a spring bubbled among brown rocks, bringing
an abundance of grass and herbs where horses and camels browsed.

As the two men sat talking, a soft voice said unexpectedly:

"Oh, Raoul, I'd no idea you had a visitor!"

All at once a girl had appeared in the entrance of the tent She was
small and slim, with two thick plaits of golden-brown hair reaching to
her knees; a beautiful girl of about eighteen, with wide grey eyes and
a creamy white skin.

Her voice brought Le Breton to his feet.

"What is it, Annette?" he asked.

"I thought----I'll come later," she said; the blushes mounting to her
cheeks.

The Sultan Casim Ammeh got to his feet also.  Not out of any sense of
deference; he had none where women were concerned, but drawn there by
the beauty of the girl.

"You needn't mind what you say in front of this man," her husband
remarked.  "He doesn't understand a word of French.

"Ill tell you later, Raoul, when there's nobody here."  She would have
gone, but Le Breton called her forward and, in Arabic, introduced her
to his visitor.

Annette bowed to the lean, lithe, brown man in the white burnoose, and
her eyes dropped under the fierce admiration in his.

The Sultan looked at her, all the time wondering why the white man was
such a fool as to let this priceless pearl, this jewel among women, go
unveiled, and allow the eyes of strange men to rest upon her with
desire and longing.

Annette said she was pleased to meet him: a message her husband
translated, and which brought a fierce smile to the young Sultan's face
and made the wild desire in his savage heart suddenly blossom into
plans.

So she, this houri from Paradise, was pleased to meet him!  This fair
flower from a far land!  But not so pleased as he was to meet _her_.

And her husband let her say such things to strange men!  What a fool
the man was!  Not worthy of this houri!  He could not appreciate the
treasure he possessed.  Not as he, the Sultan, would, were she his.

Casim Ammeh despised Colonel Le Breton utterly.

As soon as the introduction was over, Annette would have gone.

"Don't run away, my pet," her husband said fondly.  "I shall soon have
finished."

But the girl went, anxious to get away from the Arab chief who watched
her with such covetous desire and smouldering passion in his fierce
black eyes.

When she had gone, the two men seated themselves again.  But the Sultan
gave no thought to the business in hand.  He only wanted one thing
now--the girl who had just gone from the tent.

Soon after Annette's departure he left, promising to visit Le Breton
again within the course of a few days.

He kept his word.

Five days later he swept out of the desert with a horde of wild
horsemen.  And in less than half an hour there was only one of Raoul Le
Breton's ill-fated expedition left alive.

The next day, with Annette limp across his saddle, the Sultan Casim
Ammeh set off with his following to his desert stronghold.



CHAPTER II

The city of El-Ammeh lies about a hundred miles within the Sahara
proper.  It is a walled town of Moorish aspect, built of brown rock and
baked mud.  Within the walls is a tangle of narrow, twisted, squalid
lanes--a jumble of flat-roofed houses, practically devoid of windows on
the sides overlooking the streets.  Here and there a minaret towers,
and glimpses of strange trees can be seen peeping over walled gardens.

Along one side stands a domed palace; a straggling place, with
horse-shoe arches, stone galleries and terraces.  In front of it a blue
lake spreads, surrounded by fertile gardens and groves of fruit trees.
And the whole is encircled by the desert.

Annette Le Breton remembered nothing of her journey to El-Ammeh.  Her
life was a nightmare of horror that held nothing but her husband's
murderer, whom she could not escape from.  She was taken to the palace,
and placed in the apartment reserved for the Sultan's favourite.  A big
room with walls and floor of gold mosaic, furnished with ottomans, rugs
and cushions, and little tables and stools of carved sandalwood inlaid
with ivory and silver.

On one side of the apartment a series of archways opened on a screened
and fretted gallery, at the end of which a flight of wide, shallow
steps led down into a walled garden, a dream of roses.

But it was weeks before Annette knew anything of this.

All day long she lay, broken and suffering, on one of the ottomans, and
dark-faced women fawned upon her, saying words she could not
understand; women who looked at her queerly, jealously, and talked
about her among themselves.

A strange girl, this new fancy of the Sultan's!  Who wanted none of the
things he piled upon her--not even his love.  A girl who looked as
though life were a mirage; as if she moved in bad dreams,--a listless
girl, beautiful beyond any yet seen in the harem, who seemed to have
neither idea nor appreciation of the honour that was hers; who lay all
day in silence, her only language tears.  Tears that even the Sultan
could not charm away.

In fact they seemed to fall more quickly and hopelessly when he came to
see her.

Yet he did everything that mortal man could do to comfort her.

Jewels were showered upon her; jewels she refused to wear, to look at
even; casting them from her with weak, angry hands, when her women
would have decked her with them for her master's coming.

And never before were so many musicians, singers, dancers, and
conjurors sent to the women's apartments.  Hardly a day passed without
bringing some such form of diversion; or merchants with rare silks,
perfumes and ostrich feathers.  The harem had never had such a
perpetual round of amusements.

All for this new slave-girl.  And she refused to be either amused or
interested.  She would look neither at the goods nor the entertainers.
She just stayed with her face turned towards the wall and wept.

One day when the Sultan came to the harem to visit his new favourite,
some of the older women drew him aside and whispered with him.

They suspected they had found a reason for the girl's strange behaviour.

Their words sent the Sultan from the big hall of the harem to the
gilded chamber set aside for Annette, with hope in his savage heart,
and left him looking down at her with a touch of tenderness on his
cruel face.

He laid a dark hand on the girl, caressing her fondly.

"Give me a son, my pearl," he whispered.  "Then my cup will be full
indeed."

Annette shuddered at his touch.

She had no idea what he said.  He and his language were beyond her.

As the long weeks ground out their slow and dreary course, Annette grew
to suspect what her attendants now knew.

The weeks became months and Annette languished in her captor's palace;
her only respite the times he was away on some marauding expedition.
He loved rapine and murder, and was never happy unless dabbling in
blood.  Sometimes he was away for weeks together, killing and stealing,
bringing slaves for the slave-market of his city, and fresh women for
his harem.

During one of his absences Annette's baby arrived.

The child came a week or so before the women had expected it.

"The girl has wept so much," they said, "that her son has come before
his time, to see what his mother's tears are about.  And now, if Allah
is kind, let us hope the child will dry them."

For a fortnight Annette was too ill to know even that she had a son.

When the baby was brought to her, she hardly dared look at it, not
knowing what horror might have come from those ghastly nights spent
with the Sultan Casim Ammeh.

But when she looked, it was not his face, dark and cruel, that looked
back at her.

In miniature, she saw the face of Raoul Le Breton!

This son of hers did not owe his life to the Sultan.  He was a legacy
from her murdered husband.  Something that belonged to her lost life.

With a wild sob of joy, Annette held out weak arms for her baby.
Weeping she strained the mite to her breast, baptizing it with her
tears.  Tears of happiness this time.

Light and love had come into her life again.  For Raoul was not dead.
He had come back to her.  Weak and tiny he lay upon her heart, hers to
love and cherish.

She was lying on her couch one day, too absorbed in tracing out each
one of her dead lover's features in the tiny face pillowed on her
breast, to notice what was happening, when the voice she dreaded said
in a fierce, fond manner:

"So, Pearl of my Heart, you love my son, even if you hate me."

Annette did not know what the Sultan said.  But she held her child
closer, watching its father's murderer with fear and loathing; afraid
that he might put his dark, defiling hands upon her treasure.

But he did not attempt to touch either her or the child.

Seating himself at her side, he stayed watching her, tenderness on his
cruel face, for the first time having pity on her weakness.  The
weakness of the woman who had given him the one thing his savage heart
craved for, and which, until now, had been denied him--a son.



CHAPTER III

By the time Annette knew enough Arabic to make herself understood, and
to understand what was said around her, she realized that if the Sultan
learnt her boy was not his, this one joy of her tragic life would be
taken from her.  He would murder the son as he had murdered the father.

As the baby grew, her one idea was to keep its true parentage from her
savage captor.  If she could have done so, she would have kept his
dark, blood-stained hands from touching her son.  But this was
impossible.  When in El-Ammeh, the Sultan came every day to see the
child, often sitting with it in his arms, watching it with an air of
proud possession.

And fearsomely Annette would watch him, wondering why he never
suspected.  But he was too eaten up with his own desire for a son ever
to give a thought to her dead husband.

The baby was given the name of Casim Ammeh.  But Annette always called
her boy by another name, "Raoul Le Breton."

And at the age of five he said to her:

"Why do you always call me 'Raoul,' not 'Casim,' as my father does?"

His father!

Annette's heart ached.  His father had been dead these long years,
murdered by the man her son now called by that name.

"The Sultan and myself are of different races," she said.  "He calls
you by his name.  I, by one of my own choosing, Raoul Le Breton.'"

"Why do you always say 'the Sultan,' and never 'your father'?"

Sadly she smiled at her small questioner.

"Some day, my son, I'll tell you.  When you are a man and understand
things."

At five, Raoul Le Breton was a big, handsome boy, spoilt and pampered
by the whole harem, and spoilt most of all by the man he proudly called
"Father."

The Sultan in his flowing white robes, with his half-tamed horses, his
horde of wild followers and barbaric splendour, was a picturesque
figure, one to capture any brave boy's heart.

Annette did all she could to counteract her captor's influence, but, as
the child grew, he was more with the Sultan than with her.  What was
more, he craved for men's company.

He soon tired of the amusements the harem could offer.  He much
preferred to be on his own horse, galloping with the Sultan or some of
his men along the desert tracks about the city.  And knowing Annette
loved her son, and hated him, despite their years together, the Sultan
did all he could to win the boy's affection and wean him from his
mother.

He might have succeeded, except for one thing.  The boy loved learning,
and to hear of the great world that his mother came from; a world that
seemed as remote from El-Ammeh as the paradise his Moslem teachers
spoke of.

The Sultan was not averse to the mother teaching her son.  He was a
shrewd man, if savage and cruel.  And that France from where the girl
came was growing ever more powerful.  It would be to the boy's
advantage to learn all the arts and cunning of his mother's people.

The Sultan Casim gave Annette but one present that she took from him
willingly; a sandalwood bureau with shelves and drawers and little
sliding panels, an elaborately carved and handsome piece of furniture;
stocked with slate and pencil, paper, quills and ink--such as the
priests at the mosques used themselves.  For this strange girl who
hated him had more learning than all the priests put together.

But, for all that, the youngster had to sit at their feet at appointed
times, and be taught all the Sultan had ever been taught, to read and
write, and recite scraps from the Koran, and to be a true Moslem.

Annette hated this wild, profligate religion, and into her son she
tried to instil her own Roman Catholic faith.

But at eight years, although he learnt with avidity all her other
teachings, he laughed at her religion.

"Yours is a woman's religion, little mother," he said one day.  "It's
all right for you--a religion that prays to a woman, but it is not
suitable for men.  Give me my father's religion.  A religion where men
rule.  In that, one does not bow the knee to a woman.  A good religion,
my father's, fierce and strong, of love and fighting, not a puling
thing where one prays to a woman and a babe.  No, little mother, keep
your religion, and be happy with it.  I prefer my father's and my own."

"Raoul, my son, you mustn't forget the white side when you are with the
Sultan," she said gently, a touch of chiding in her sad voice.

The boy looked at her speculatively, knowing already that his mother
had no affection for the man he called "father."

"You should be proud, not sorry, to be the Sultan's wife," he remarked.
"It is an honour for any woman to be loved by the Sultan.  Even a woman
as lovely and learned as you, little mother."

At twenty-seven Annette was even more beautiful than on the day the
Sultan Casim Ammeh first saw her; but more fragile and ethereal.
Although her captor's fancy often strayed to other women, he never lost
his passion for her.

"Oh, my boy, you don't understand," she said sadly.  "When you are a
man I'll tell you, and then perhaps you'll think differently."

"When I am a man, I shall be like my father, but richer and more
powerful, because I shall have more knowledge, thanks to you, my
mother."

"I hope you will be like your father, Raoul, I ask for nothing better."

When her boy reached manhood Annette intended to tell him the truth,
and to leave him to deal with the situation as he would.

At ten years, her son had as much general knowledge as the average
French boy of his age, thanks to his mother's teachings.  And he knew,
too, a great deal more than she taught him.

He was a big lad for his years, handsome and quick-tempered, the
Sultan's acknowledged heir.  On every side there were people anxious to
spoil him and curry favour with him.  In the scented, sensual
atmosphere of the harem, he learnt things his mother would have kept
from him.  But she was powerless among so many, all ready to flatter
her boy and gain his good graces.

"When I grow up," he said to her one day, "I shall have a hundred
wives, like my father."

"In the France I come from a man has but one.  You must always remember
that, Raoul."

"Only one!  Then, mother, I call that a poor country.  How can a man be
satisfied with one woman?  My father has promised me wives of my own
when I am sixteen."

It seemed to Annette that in this profligate atmosphere her boy was
drifting further and further away from her and his own nation; becoming
daily more akin to the barbaric people around him.

Every day she felt she must tell him the truth.  Yet every day she put
it off.  For her boy was only a child still, and in his anger and rage
he would not be able to keep his knowledge from the Sultan; then evil
would befall him.

It was written that many years were to pass before Raoul Le Breton
learnt the truth about himself.

Soon after this episode the Sultan took the boy with him on some
thieving expedition.

Whilst they were away, one of the deadly epidemics that occasionally
visited El-Ammeh swept through the city, claiming among its many
victims Annette Le Breton.



CHAPTER IV

With the passing years, the Sultan Casim Ammeh increased in wealth and
power.  He gave very little thought to France now.  It was a vague
power, too far away to trouble him, and only once had it really sent a
feeler in his direction; that ill-fated expedition headed by Colonel Le
Breton.

Emboldened by his success, he had extended his marauding.  But, if he
heard nothing more of France, France occasionally heard of him, in the
form of complaints from various parts of the Protectorate, from other
chiefs whose territory he had raided.  The Government knew his name but
it had no idea where he came from.

On one occasion the Sultan and his robber horde swept down to within a
hundred miles of St. Louis.  But there he met with a severe defeat.  He
retired to his desert stronghold, deciding not to adventure in that
direction again.  And he owed his defeat to strange guns such as had
not come into his life before.  Guns that fired not a couple of shots,
but a whole volley; an endless fusillade that even his wild warriors
could not face.

He went back to El-Ammeh determined to get hold of some of those
wonderful guns.

Obviously it was out of the question to attack St. Louis where they
came from.  If they were to be obtained, they must be searched for in
some other direction.

Sore with defeat, he brooded on the strange guns.  And very often he
talked of them to the boy he called his son.

Raoul Le Breton was about thirteen when the Sultan met with his first
rebuff at the hands of France.  And he had the welfare and prestige of
the desert kingdom at heart, and was as anxious as the Sultan to
possess this new weapon.

Far away in the south was the outpost of another European power; just a
handful of white men struggling to keep a hold on a country an
indifferent and short-sighted government was inclined to let slip.

Round and about the River Gambia the British had a footing.  Among the
men most determined to keep a hold on this strip of territory was
Captain George Barclay.

He was a man of about twenty-eight, of medium height and wiry make,
with a thin face and steady grey eyes where tragedy lurked.  His
confrères said that Barclay had no interests outside of his work.  But
they were wrong.

He had one thing that was more to him than his own life; a tiny,
velvety-eyed, golden-haired daughter.

He had come out to North-West Africa in quest of forgetfulness.

At twenty-three, although he was only a penniless lieutenant, the
beauty of the London season, the prospective heiress of millions, had
thought well to marry him.  It was a runaway match.  For his sake Pansy
Carrington had risked losing both wealth and position.  She was only
nineteen, and her guardian and godfather, whose acknowledged heiress
she was, had disapproved of George Barclay; gossip said because he was
madly in love with her himself, although he was nearly thirty years her
senior.

However, whether this was so or not, Henry Langham had forgiven the
girl.  He had taken her back into his good graces, and, in due course,
had become godfather to the second Pansy.  "Grand-godfather," the child
called him as soon as she could talk.

It had seemed to George Barclay that no man's life could be happier
than his.  Then, without any warning, tragedy came upon him after five
years of bliss.  For one day his girl-wife was brought back to him
dead, the result of an accident in the hunting-field.

With her death all light had gone out of his life.  To escape from
himself he had gone out to Gambia; and his tiny daughter now lived, as
her mother had lived before her, with her godfather, Henry Langham.

But it was not of his daughter Barclay was thinking at that moment;
other matters occupied his mind.

He stood on the roof of a little stone fort, gazing at the landscape in
a speculative manner.

The building itself consisted of four rooms, set on a platform of rock
some three feet from the ground.  All the windows were small, and high
up and barred.  One room had no communication with the others: it was a
sort of guardroom entered by a heavy wooden door.  To the other three
rooms one solid door gave entry, and from one of them a ladder and
trap-door led up to the roof which had battlements around it.

Below was a large compound, rudely stockaded, in which half a dozen
native huts were built.

In that part of Gambia Captain Barclay represented the British
Government.  He had to administer justice and keep the peace, and in
this task he was aided by a white subaltern, twenty Hausa soldiers, and
a couple of maxim guns.

On three sides of the little British outpost an endless expanse of
forest showed, with white mist curling like smoke about it.  On the
fourth was a wide shallow valley, with dwarf cliffs on either side,
alive with dog-faced baboons.  The valley was patched with swamps and
lakes, and through it a river wended an erratic course, its banks
heavily fringed with reeds and mimosa trees; a valley from which, with
approaching evening, a stream of miasma rose.

Barclay's gaze, however, never strayed in the direction of the shallow
valley.

He looked to the north.

A week or so ago word had come through that a notorious raider was on
the move; a man whom the French Government had been endeavouring to
catch for the last five years or more.  What he was doing so far south
as Gambia, the district officer did not know.  But he knew he was there.

Only the previous day news had come that one of the villages within
his, Barclay's, jurisdiction had been practically wiped out.  A similar
fate might easily fall to the lot of the British outpost, considering
that the Arab chief's force outnumbered Barclay's ten to one.

From the roof of his quarters the Englishman saw the sun set.  It
seemed to sink and drown in a lake of orange that lay like a blazing
furnace on the horizon; a lake that spread and scattered when the sun
disappeared, drifting off in islands of clouds, gold, rose, mauve and
vivid red, sailing slowly across a tense blue sky, getting ever thinner
and more ragged, until night came suddenly and swallowed up their
tattered remains.

A dense, purple darkness fell upon the land, soft and velvety, that
reminded Barclay of his little daughter's eyes.  And in a vault as
darkly purple, a host of great stars flashed.  Away in the forest an
owl hooted.  From the wide valley came the coughing roar of a leopard.
Every now and again some night bird passed, a vague shadow in the
darkness.  In silver showers the fireflies danced in the thick, hot
air.  Down in the compound glow-worms showed, looking like a lot of
smouldering cigarette ends cast carelessly aside.

Upon the roof, with gaze fixed on the misty, baffling darkness that
soughed and hissed around him, Barclay stayed, until the gong took him
down to dinner.

There his junior waited, a round-faced youngster of about nineteen.

The meal was a poor repast of tinned soup, hashed tinned beef, yams and
coffee, all badly cooked and indifferently served.

During the course of the meal the youngster remarked:

"What a joke if we nabbed the Sultan Casim Ammeh, or whatever he calls
himself, and went one better than the French johnnies."

"It would be more than a joke.  It would be a jolly good riddance,"
Barclay responded.

"It's queer nobody knowing where he really comes from."

"You may be sure he doesn't play his tricks anywhere near his own
headquarters.  More likely than not, he and his cut-throat lot start
out disguised as peaceful merchants, in separate bands, and join up
when they reach the seat of operations.  There are vast tracts of
Senegal practically unexplored.  They would give endless cover to one
of his kidney."

"If you had the luck to bag him, what should you do?"

"Shoot him straight off, knowing the earth was well rid of a villain."

"But what's his idea in coming as far south as this?  He's never been
heard of on this side of the Senegal River before."

"Plunder.  Guns, most likely.  He's heard we're none too welcome, and
hardly settled here, and thinks we shall prove an easy prey."

However, the little English force was not to prove quite the easy prey
the Sultan had imagined when he came south in quest of new weapons.

The next night, without any warning, he attacked Barclay's headquarters.

He struck at an hour when all was darkest; not with his usual swoop of
wild horsemen, but stealthily.

Unchallenged and unmolested, he and his following scaled the stockade
and crept towards the tiny fort, vague shadows moving silently in the
purple darkness.

But each night Barclay had laid a trap for his expected foe.

He knew the enemy force outnumbered his, and that his little handful
could be starved out within a week, if the Arab chief wanted to make a
siege of it.

Barclay had no intention of letting this come to pass.

He did a bold thing.

Each night, after dark, the little British garrison divided into three
units.  A Hausa sergeant and fifteen men were left on the roof of the
fort.  Barclay, two soldiers and one maxim gun, his junior, with two
more soldiers and the other gun, crept out from the place, and hid in
the dense undergrowth, at different points outside of the stockade;
first removing a plank here and there in the enclosure to enable them
to work their guns through.

Barclay's ruse succeeded.

Whilst the Sultan and his followers were busy trying to scale the fort
and get at the handful of men peppering at them from its roof, without
any warning there came an unexpected fusillade from, the rear.  He
turned and attacked in that direction, only to find a further fusillade
pouring in on him from another point.

The Sultan sensed that he had fallen into a trap; that he was
surrounded on all sides.  Sore and furious he turned to go, more
quickly than he had come.  But before he had reached the stockade, the
world slipped from him suddenly.



CHAPTER V

When the skirmish was over, Barclay and his junior, with half a dozen
Hausas and a lantern or two, made a round of the compound, counting the
dead and attending to the wounded.

His own garrison was practically unscathed, but his guns had played
grim havoc with the attacking party; fully fifty dead and wounded lay
within the stockade.

Barclay went about his task cautiously.  He knew Arabs and their little
ways.  Giving no quarter themselves, they expected none, and would sham
death and then stab those who came to succour them.

Among the prisoners was a lean, lithe man of about forty, who appeared
more stunned than hurt from a bullet that had grazed his forehead.
Barclay came across the wounded man just when the latter was coming
back to consciousness.  Although in dress he differed in no way from
the rest of his following, the knives in his belt were heavily
jewelled, and gems flashed on his brown fingers.

By the light of a lantern the Englishman scanned him, noting his array
of jewels and his cruel, arrogant, commanding face, the face of a
savage leader.

"My son," he said to the subaltern, "I believe your joke has come to
pass."

"My joke!" the youngster repeated blankly.

Then the light of understanding came to his face.

"You don't mean to say this cruel-looking cuss is the Sultan Casim
Ammeh!"

"I'd be surprised to hear he wasn't," Barclay responded.

Suspicious of his man, and knowing him to be no more than stunned, the
captain had him handcuffed and locked up in one of the inner rooms of
the fort.

When the wounded had been attended to they were left in the guardroom,
and the little garrison retired once more within the fort.

The enemy had had such a thorough beating that Barclay did not expect
another attack.  For all that, he was taking no risks.

Just before daybreak, when the world was a place of curling white mist
and greyness, there came a stampede of horses.  And, above the thunder
of hoofs, the wild Mohammedan war-cry.

"Deen!  Deen Muhammed!"

That wild swoop and yell was the Sultan's usual way of attacking.

"It seems we didn't get our man last night," Barclay remarked, as the
guns were trained in the direction of the sound.  "According to report,
this is his usual method of attack."

Out of the greyness of approaching morning a mêlée of wild horsemen
appeared.  Their leader was hardly the man Barclay had pictured to
himself as the blood-stained Arab chief, but a smooth-faced youth in
white burnoose, mounted on a huge black stallion.

More than this Barclay did not wait to see.  He opened fire on the
massed horsemen, his guns playing deadly havoc.  Within a few minutes
their ranks broke.  In wild disorder they turned and stampeded back,
soon to be lost in the screening mist.

"I don't think they'll face another dose," the junior remarked.

However, he was wrong.

Presently from out of the fog came the same wild war-cry and the
thunder of hoofs.  There was another charge with sadly depleted numbers.

For reckless courage Barclay had never seen anything to equal their
youthful leader.  Again and again he rallied his men and brought them
on, until finally, with only about a dozen men, he swept through the
deadly zone and on towards the fort.

In the very teeth of the Maxims his black horse literally flew over the
high stockade.  But the youngster was the only one who faced the guns.
His following broke up and turned back under the fierce fusillade.

Although the leader got over the stockade alive, his horse did not.  It
crashed and fell dead beneath him.  With a quick side spring--a
marvellous piece of horsemanship--he avoided injury and, with drawn
sword, rushed on towards the little fort.

The Hausas would have shot down the reckless youngster, but Barclay
stopped them.

"We don't make war on children," he said in their dialect.

A closer inspection showed the leader of the Arab horde to be hardly
more than a child; a handsome boy of about fourteen who, suddenly,
realising that his followers had deserted him, now stood gazing round
in a fierce, thwarted fashion.

On finding he was alone he did not retreat, although Barclay gave him
every opportunity.  Instead, he stood his ground and hurled a challenge
in Arabic at the men clustered on the top of the fort.

Since there was no reply to that, he shouted again, this time in French.

"Who and what is the youngster?" Barclay asked.  "He doesn't look any
more Arabian than I do.  And now he's yelling at us in pure Parisian
French."

However, nobody could find any reply.  So Barclay descended alone to
interview the one remaining member of the Sultan Casim's forces.

He was hardly out in the compound before he wished he had not gone.

He had just time to draw his sword when the boy fell upon him.

Barclay was a skilled duellist, but in this wild youth from the desert
he met his match.

For all his finesse and superior height and weight, the Englishman had
his cheek laid open and his arm ripped up in the course of a minute.
Things would have gone badly with him, except that a shot from his
junior put the boy's sword arm out of action.

With a rattle his weapon fell to the ground, his arm useless at his
side.

But, even then, there was no plea for mercy.  With a proud gesture he
threw up his head, facing his enemy in arrogant fashion.

"Kill me," he said in French, "but let my father live."

"Who is your father?" Barclay asked, as with a handkerchief he tried to
stop the blood gushing from his cheek.

"The Sultan Casim Ammeh," the boy answered proudly.

The reply told Barclay that the man he had under lock and key really
was the marauding Arab chief.

He scanned the boy closely.

Except for his coal-black hair and eyes and fierce, arrogant
expression, there was no resemblance between father and son.  If he had
not heard to the contrary, he would have said the boy was as French as
the language he spoke.

"I've no intention of killing _you_," Barclay remarked.  "On the
contrary, young man, I'm going to have your arm set and bound up before
you bleed to death."

The blood was dripping from the boy's fingers, making a pool on the
ground.  But he paid no heed to his own hurt.  All his thoughts were
for the Sultan Casim.

"I'm not asking mercy for myself, but for my father," he said haughtily.

"I'm afraid that's useless, considering two Governments have condemned
him."

"You will dare to kill him?"

Barclay said nothing.  But his very silence was ominous.

A dazed, incredulous look crossed the boy's face.

As the Englishman watched him it seemed that, blood-stained murderer as
the Sultan was, at least this big, handsome son of his loved him.

Like one stunned, the youngster submitted to being led into the fort,
where his arm was set and his wounds bound up.

When this was done he said to Barclay:

"I'll give you wealth in jewels that will amount to three hundred
thousand francs in French money if you will let my father go free and
take my life instead."

Barclay made no reply.

"You will murder my father?" the boy went on, dreading the worst from
Barclay's silence.

The word made the Englishman wince.  For it did seem like murder with
this fierce, handsome boy pleading desperately for his father's life.

Again he said nothing.

To escape from the sight of the pain and anguish his silent verdict had
aroused, Barclay went from the room, leaving the youngster in the
charge of a couple of soldiers.

About noon that day, at the hands of the British Government, the Sultan
Casim Ammeh met a well-deserved end.  He met it bravely, (refusing to
be blindfolded), with a slight, cruel smile facing the guns levelled at
him.

It was evening before Barclay summoned up enough courage to meet his
youthful prisoner.  And when he did, it seemed he had never seen so
much concentrated hatred on any face.

"So, you shot my father?" the boy said in a slow, savage manner.

Barclay had not come to discuss the dead malefactor.  He wanted to
learn more about the son--where he had learnt his excellent French; how
he came to differ so in appearance from the Arab chief and his wild
following.

"Your father has paid the penalty of his crimes," he said quietly.

"And you shall pay the penalty of yours!" the boy cried passionately;
"for I shall kill you as you have killed my father.  Your daughters I
shall sell as slaves.  Your sons shall toil in chains in my city.  Your
wives shall become the bondswomen of my servants.  Remember, white man,
for I do not speak lightly.  I will be avenged.  I, Casim Ammeh, whose
father you have thought well to murder!"

The savage threats of a wild, heart-broken boy did not trouble George
Barclay much.  But his mind did go to his tiny four-year-old daughter,
and he was glad she was safe in England and not within reach of this
savage lad.

At that moment he was more worried about his youthful captive than the
latter's wild threats.

He did not want to make a criminal of the boy; for, obviously, whatever
wrong he had done was done under the influence of his savage father.
And there looked to be the makings of a fine man in him, if only he had
good guidance.

Barclay decided to put the case before the French Government, together
with a suggestion of his own--that the youngster should be sent
somewhere where he could be brought up to be of use to the country, not
a constant thorn in its flesh, as his father had been.

But Captain Barclay need not have troubled himself with making plans
for the future of the youthful Sultan of El-Ammeh, for that night the
boy escaped, and his future was left in his own hands.



CHAPTER VI

After some two years out in Gambia, George Barclay returned to England.
He returned with a scar across his right cheek.

That scar was the first thing his little daughter remarked upon when
the excitement of reunion had died down.

Perched on his knee, she touched it with gentle little fingers and
kissed it with soft lips.

"Who has hurt my nice new Daddy?" she asked distressfully.

Then there followed the story of the youthful Sultan Casim Ammeh.

"Oh, what a wicked boy!" she exclaimed.

Then she glanced across at her godfather who was sitting near.

"Isn't he a bad, naughty boy, Grand-godfather, to want to kill my Daddy
and sell me as a slave?"

Henry Langham had listened to the story with interest, and very
heartily he agreed with her.

"I shall tell Bobby," the little girl went on indignantly, "and he'll
go and kill the Sultan Casim Ammeh."

"Who's Bobby?" her father asked.

"My sweetheart.  Master Robert Cameron."

"So in my absence I've been cut out, have I?" her father said
teasingly.  "I'm dreadfully jealous."

But Pansy snuggled closer to him, and her arms went round his neck in a
tight hug.

"There'll never be anyone as nice as my Daddy," she whispered.

George Barclay held the tiny girl closer, kissing the golden head.

Often during his months in England, Pansy would scramble on his knee
and say:

"Daddy, tell me the story of Casim Ammeh.  That naughty boy who hurt
your poor face."

To Pansy it was some new Arabian Nights, vastly interesting because her
father was one of the principal characters.  Although she had heard it
quite fifty times, she was ready to hear it quite fifty times more.

"But, my darling, you've heard it scores of times," Barclay said one
day.

For all that he told the story again.

Quietly she listened until the end was reached.  Then she said:

"I don't like him.  Not one little bit.  Do you like him, Daddy?"

"To tell you the truth, Pansy, I did like him.  He was a very brave
boy."

"I shall never like him, because he hurt you," she said firmly, her
little flower-like face set and determined.

"Well, my girlie, you're never likely to meet him, so it won't make
much difference to him whether you like him or not."

But--in the Book of Fate it was written otherwise.



CHAPTER VII

Somewhere off the Boulevard St. Michel there is a cabaret.  The big
dancing hall has red walls painted with yellow shooting stars, and,
overhead, electric lights blaze under red and yellow shades.  There is
a bar at one end, and several little tables for the patrons' use when
they tire of dancing.  In the evenings a band, in seedy, red uniforms
with brass buttons, fills, with a crash of sound, an atmosphere ladened
with patchouli and cigarette smoke, and waiters, in still more seedy
dress-suits, attend to the tables.  Never at any time is the gathering
select, and generally there are quite a few foreigners of all colours
present.

One night, the most noticeable among the patrons was an Englishman,
well-groomed and tailored, and a big youth of about eighteen in a
flowing white burnoose.

They were in no way connected with each other, but chance, in the shape
of their female companions, had brought them to adjacent tables.

The girl with the youngster was very pretty in a hard, metallic way,
with the white face and vivid red lips of the Parisienne, and brown
eyes, bright and polished-looking, that were about as expressionless as
pebbles.  She was attired in a cheap, black evening dress, cut very
low, and about her plump throat was a coral necklace.  Her hair was
elaborately dressed, and her shoes, although well worn, were tidy.

By day, Marie Hamon earned a meagre living for herself in a florist's
shop.  At night, she added to her earnings in the recognized way of
quite a few of the working girls of Paris.  And this particular cabaret
was one of her hunting grounds.

As Marie sat there "making eyes" at the youth in the white burnoose,
the man at the next table remarked in French, in an audible and
disgusted tone:

"Look at that girl there making up to that young nigger.  A beastly
spectacle, I call it."

Before his companion had time to reply the youth was up, his black eyes
flashing, and he grasped the Englishman's shoulder in an angry,
indignant fashion.

"I am no nigger!" he cried.  "I'm the Sultan Casim Ammeh."

"I don't care a damn who you are so long as you keep your black paws
off me!"

The youth's hands were not black, but deeply bronzed like his face,
which looked darker than it really was against the whiteness of his
hood.

"Take back that word," he said savagely, "or, by Allah, it shall be
wiped out in blood!"

He drew his knife.  The girls screamed.  Excited waiters rushed towards
the table.  The mixed company stopped dancing and pressed forward to
watch what looked like the beginning of a royal row.  Such incidents
were by no means unusual in the cabaret.

Only the Englishman remained calm.  He grasped his opponent's wrist
quickly.

"No, you don't," he said.  "You damned niggers seem to think you own
the world nowadays."

There was a brief scuffle.  But the Englishman was big and heavy, and
half a dozen waiters were hanging on to the enraged and insulted youth.
His knife was wrested from his hand.  He was hustled this way and that;
and, finally, worsted and smouldering, he retired, to be led to another
and more distant table by his female companion.

The episode was over in a couple of minutes.  Disappointed at the lack
of bloodshed, the spectators returned to their dancing.  Relieved, the
waiters went back to their various spheres.  The Englishman seated
himself again as if nothing had happened.  At a distant table the youth
sat and glowered at him.

"Who is that man?" he asked presently, pointing a lean forefinger at
his late opponent.

Marie shrugged her plump shoulders.

"I've never seen him here before.  He looks to me like an Englishman."

With renewed interest the youth studied the distant figure, hate
smouldering in his black eyes.

So he was one of the nation who had murdered his father!  This man who
had insulted him.

But, for all his hatred of the Englishman, reluctantly he admired his
coolness and his clothes.

The world had enlarged for Annette Le Breton's son since his first
experience with the English.

On escaping from Barclay, with the remaining handful of the defunct
Sultan's following, he had returned to El-Ammeh, at the age of fourteen
its recognised ruler.

The boy was not lacking in sense.  Defeat at the hands of both British
and French made him decide to give up what had been the late Sultan's
chief source of income--marauding.  With a wisdom beyond his years,
Casim Ammeh, as he was now always called, decided to go in for trading;
and before many years had passed he saw it was a better paying game
than marauding, despite its lack of excitement.

Then he extended his operations.

There were always caravans coming to his desert city, and a great
demand for articles that came from the Europe his mother had told him
of.

With one or two of his principal merchants he went down to St. Louis,
but he did not go as the Sultan Casim Ammeh; that name was too well
known to the French Government.  Instead, he went under the name his
mother used to call him, Raoul Le Breton.  And under that name he
opened a store in St. Louis.

There was a new generation in the town since his real father's day, and
the name roused no comment.  It was an ordinary French one.  In St.
Louis there were quite a few half-breed French-Arabs, as the youth
supposed himself to be, living and trading under European names.

His business ventures were so successful that he opened several more
stores at various points between St. Louis and his own capital; but the
whereabouts of his own city he did not divulge to strangers.

At sixteen it had seemed to the boy that St. Louis was the hub of the
universe; but at eighteen a craving that amounted to nostalgia drove
him further afield--to Paris.

And he went in Arabian garments, for he was intensely proud of his
sultanship and the desert kingdom he ruled with undisputed sway.

To his surprise, he felt wonderfully at home in his mother's city.  It
did not feel as strange as St. Louis had felt, but more as if he had
once lived there and had forgotten about it.

He had been a couple of days in Paris, wandering at will, when on the
second evening his wanderings had brought him in contact with Marie
Hamon.  She was by no means the first of her sort to accost him, but
she was the first he had condescended to take any notice of.  She had
smiled at him as, aloof and haughty, he had stalked along the Boulevard
St. Michel, and had fallen into step beside him.  He had looked at her
in a peculiar manner that was half amusement, half contempt, but he had
not shaken her off.

She had suggested they should have dinner together, and he had fallen
in with her suggestion; not exactly with alacrity, but as if he wanted
to study the girl further.  For all her plump prettiness and
profession, there was a shrewd, sensible air about her.  Afterwards, at
her instigation, they had repaired to the cabaret.

As the youth continued to scowl at the distant Englishman, with the
idea of preventing further trouble, Marie tried to get his mind on
other matters.

"Casim, let's have a dance?" she suggested.

"I can afford to pay for hired dancers, so why should I posture for the
benefit of others?" he asked scornfully.

She tittered.

"Well, get me another drink instead, then."

He beckoned a waiter and gave a curt order.  However, he did not touch
the cheap champagne himself.  Instead, he kept strictly to coffee.

"Have a drop of cognac in it to cheer you up a bit," Marie said.  "You
make me feel as if I were at a funeral."

"I'm a Mohammedan, and strong drink is forbidden."

"You are the limit!  I shouldn't quarrel with the good things of this
life even if I were a Mohammedan."

"By my religion women have no souls," he replied in a voice that spoke
volumes.

But Marie was not easily abashed.

"The lack of a soul doesn't trouble me in the least," she responded
lightly.  "A pretty body is of greater use to a woman any day.  Do you
think I'm pretty, Casim?" she finished coquettishly.

"I shouldn't be with you unless you were," he replied, as if her
question were an insult to his taste.

For some minutes there was silence.  As the girl sipped her champagne
she watched her escort in a calculating manner.

"You've got lots of money, haven't you?" she said presently.

"Not as much as I intend to have," he replied.

"But enough to buy me a new frock?" she questioned.

"Fifty, if you want them."

Marie threw her arms around his neck.

"You nice boy!" she cried, kissing him soundly.

He resented her attentions, removing her arms in a none too gentle
manner.

"I object to such displays of affection in public," he said, with an
air of ruffled dignity.

"Come home with me, then," she suggested.

"Home" to Marie was an attic in a poor street.  There Casim Ammeh went,
not as a victim to her charms, as she imagined, but seeing in her a
means to his own end.

The next morning as he sat at breakfast with the girl--a meagre repast
of black coffee and rolls--from somewhere out of his voluminous robes
he produced a string of pearls and dangled it before his hostess.
Marie looked at them, her mouth round with surprise, for they were real
and worth at least ten thousand francs.

"If I give you these, Marie, will you teach me to become a Frenchman?"
he asked.

"Won't I just!" she cried enthusiastically, and without hesitation
continued: "First of all we must get an apartment.  And, _mon Dieu!_
yes, you must cut your hair short."

The youth wore his hair long, knotted under his hood in the Arab
fashion.

It was three months before Casim Ammeh left Paris.  And he left it in a
correctly cut English suit and with his smooth, black hair brushed back
over his head.  In the spick-and-span young man it would have been
difficult to recognise the barbaric youth who had come there knowing
nothing of civilised life except what his mother had told him and what
he had seen in St. Louis; and, what was more, he felt at ease in his
new garments, in spite of having worn burnoose and hood all his life.

The day before he left, Marie sat with him in the _salon_ of the pretty
flat they had occupied since the day they struck their bargain.  And
she looked very different, too.

Her evening frock was no longer of shabby black.  It was one of the
several elaborate gowns she now possessed, thanks to the young man.
And she no longer wore a string of coral beads about her pretty throat,
but the pearl necklace.

Although Marie had taken on the youth as a business speculation, within
a few days she loved him passionately.  She was loath to let her
benefactor go, but all her wiles failed to keep him.

"When you're back in Africa you won't quite forget your little Marie
who taught you to be a man, will you?" she whispered tearfully.

Her remarks made him laugh.

"I've had women of my own for at least a year before I met you," he
replied.

It seemed to Marie she had never really known the youth who had come to
her a savage and was leaving her looking a finished man of the world.
He never talked to her of himself or his affairs.  Although kind and
generous, he demanded swift obedience, and he treated her always as
something infinitely inferior to himself.

"Say you love me," she pleaded.  "That you'll think of me sometimes."

"Love!" he said contemptuously.  "I don't love women.  I have them for
my pleasure.  I'm not one of your white men who spend their days
whining at some one woman's feet pleading for favours.  Women to me are
only toys.  Good to look upon, if beautiful, but not so good as horses."

"Oh, you are cruel!" she said, weeping.  "And I thought you loved me."

"It is the woman's place to love.  There are other things in a man's
life."

Marie realised she had never had any hold on her protégé.  She had been
of use to him, and he had paid her well for it, and there, as far as he
was concerned, the matter ended.

Being sensible, she sat up and dried her tears, gathering consolation
from the fact that he had been a good speculation.  There would be no
immediate need to return to the florist's shop when he had gone.  In
fact, if she liked to sell the necklace, she could buy a business of
her own.

"Shall you come to Paris again, Casim?" she asked.

"Oh yes, often.  It's a good city, full of beautiful women who are easy
to buy."

But he made a reservation to himself.

When he came again he would come under the name his mother used to call
him--Raoul Le Breton, and he would come in European clothes.  Then the
English he hated would not be able to hurl that detestable word
"nigger" at him.



CHAPTER VIII

In a select French boarding-school a girl sat reading a letter.  She
was about fifteen years old, a slender, lovely child, light and
graceful, with a cascade of golden curls reaching to her waist, and
wide, purple eyes.  Her complexion was perfect.  She had a vivid little
red mouth, impulsive and generous, and a pink rose on each cheek.

On reading the letter, sorrow clouded her face.  For it ran:--


"My Dear Little Pansy,

When you get this letter I shall be with your mother.  I am leaving you
the money she would not have.  And it was worth having, you will agree,
for it will bring you in about £60,000 a year.  The only condition I
make is that you take the name your mother refused, your own second
name.  And my one hope is that you will be more successful in love than
I was.

Your affectionate 'grand-godfather,'
  Henry Langham."


For some minutes Pansy sat brooding on her godfather's end.  The poor
old boy had been awfully ill for a long time, and now he was dead.

She blinked back a couple of tears.  Then her thoughts went to the
fortune she had inherited.

Presently she crossed to the mirror and looked at herself.

"No, old girl," she said to her reflection, "your head isn't turned."

Then she slipped the letter into her pocket and made straight for her
great friend and confidante.

To the average eye there was nothing about Miss Grainger to attract a
vivid, beautiful girl like Pansy Barclay--Pansy Langham as she would be
now.  Miss Grainger was middle-aged, grey-haired, thin and
depressed-looking: the down-trodden English mistress, with no
qualifications except good breeding.

She was poor and friendless, and life had gone hard with her, but these
facts were sufficient to fill Pansy's heart with a warmth of generous
affection and sympathy.

The girl's principal thought as she went along was not so much of the
millions she had just inherited, but that she had always wanted to do
something for Miss Grainger, and now she saw a way of doing it.

She entered the room that served the English mistress as bedroom, study
and sitting-room, disturbing the latter in the midst of correcting an
accumulated pile of exercise books.

"What is it, Pansy?" she asked, smiling at her favourite.

"Miss Grainger, you'll be pleased to hear I'm a millionaire."

The English mistress put down her pen carefully, and then sat staring
at the child.

"Really, my dear," she said in a bewildered tone, "you have a way of
saying the most surprising things in the most matter-of-fact manner.
But, since you're saying it, it must be true."

"That's a character in itself," Pansy remarked, smiling, a smile that
brought to view several bewitching dimples.

She produced the letter and handed it to her friend.

The English mistress read it through.

"Sixty thousand pounds a year!" she exclaimed.  "It makes my head reel."

"Then yours can't be so firmly screwed on as mine.  Mine isn't turned
one little bit.  I looked at myself in a glass to see."

"But what are you going to do with it all?" the governess asked
helplessly.

"Spend it, of course.  I take after my father and never shirk an
unpleasant duty," she went on, a mischievous glint in her eyes.  "To
begin with, you, Miss Grainger, are going to be my companion, and we'll
have a yacht and go all round the world together, and see and do
everything that can be seen and done."

"You'll get married, Pansy," the governess said, looking lovingly at
the beautiful flower-like, little face.

"Not much!  You dear old antiquated thing.  I'm not going to be tied by
the leg in that fashion."

"As the English mistress, I must remind you that 'tied by the leg' is
slang."

"When you're my companion you'll be talking slang yourself.  I'm not so
sure I won't make that one of the stipulations," the child went on
teasingly.  "It'll be such a change for you after thirty years of
correcting stupid exercises."

"It will be rather," Miss Grainger said wistfully.

"And I shall come out at seventeen," Pansy went on.  "I must start as
early as possible if I'm to spend all that money.  I shall write and
ask my father if I may come out at seventeen.  Do you think he'll
refuse?"

"No man will ever refuse you anything, Pansy.  You're too sweet and
good and beautiful."

"And rich.  Don't forget the rich.  That'll be a tremendous draw."

Miss Grainger smiled at her favourite.

"I hope the man who marries you will pick you for your good heart and
generous nature, not your looks and money," she remarked.

"Still harping on that old string, Mrs. Noah.  Women don't get married
nowadays if they can afford to stay single."

Then the school dinner-bell ringing sent Pansy from the room, but not
before she had given an impetuous hug and kiss to her friend.



CHAPTER IX

Paris always has a welcome for millionaires.  And it always had a
specially warm welcome for Raoul Le Breton, the African
merchant-prince.  Not only was he fabulously rich, but he was young and
remarkably good-looking.  It was whispered that he had Arab blood in
his veins, but he was wealthy enough for the majority to overlook this
drawback.

Like many modern Frenchmen, he dabbled in "le sport."  He was a
brilliant tennis player, a worthy opponent at billiards, and he kept a
stud of race-horses.  There was hardly an actress of any repute and
with any pretence to youth and beauty who had not had his patronage at
one time or the other.  Match-making mothers with marriageable
daughters laid snares about his feet.  With surprising agility he
avoided their traps.  None of the daughters proved sufficiently
tempting to turn him from the broad, smooth way of gay Parisian
bachelorhood to the steep and jagged path of matrimony.

Raoul Le Breton was about twenty-five when he paid his sixth visit to
Paris.  He came now for about three months every year.  And he always
came in style, with a whole retinue of Arab servants--silent, discreet
men who never gossiped about their master.  It was whispered also that
out in Africa he had a whole harem of his own; moreover, that he was
some big chief or the other.  In fact, many things were whispered about
him, for, on the whole, Paris knew very little except that he was
wealthy and wild.

His French acquaintances tried to learn more of his doings through the
medium of his own private doctor, a stout Frenchman who accompanied the
young millionaire to and fro.  But Dr. Edouard refused to gossip about
his friend and patron.

In spite of his success, the young Sultan of El-Ammeh had not forgotten
George Barclay.

On getting more in touch with civilisation and its ways he had tried to
find out the name of the man who was responsible for the death of his
supposed father.  It was not an easy task.  George Barclay had left
Gambia five years before Raoul Le Breton set about his investigations.
There had been a succession of men since Barclay's time, and the
shooting of a native malefactor was not a matter of great note in the
annals of a Government.

However, eventually Le Breton managed to establish the identity of the
man he looked upon as his father's murderer.

But to trace George Barclay in England proved an even more difficult
task than tracing him in Africa.

The Englishman had not stopped long in his country.  In search of
forgetfulness, he had gone from one place to another, holding posts in
various parts of the Empire.

The Sultan Casim Ammeh was twenty-five when he heard that Barclay was
in the Malay Straits.

The news came to him in Paris just when he was setting out for an
evening's amusement in company with Dr. Edouard.  The letter was
brought to him as he stood in dress-suit, opera hat in hand, in his own
private sitting-room at the palatial hotel he always patronised when in
Paris.

On perusing it he turned to his companion, and said, with an air of
savage triumph:

"Well, Edouard, I've managed to trace my man at last."

The doctor knew who the man in question was, for he, Edouard, was the
Sultan Casim's one confidant.  Rather uneasily he glanced at his
patron.  He wished the young man would be content with money and the
many joys and pleasures it could buy--for Casim Ammeh was no longer a
strict Mohammedan--and would not be always hankering after vengeance, a
vengeance that might embroil him with England and bring his wild and
brilliant career to an abrupt close.

"Where is George Barclay?" Edouard asked uneasily.

"In the Straits Settlements."

The doctor experienced a feeling of intense pleasure on hearing Barclay
was in so remote a spot.

"It'll be difficult for you to get hold of him there," he remarked,
trying to keep out of his voice the relief he was feeling.

"He won't stay there for ever.  I've waited eleven years for my
vengeance.  I can go on waiting a little longer, until Fate thinks well
to place him in a more accessible position."

With a savage expression Le Breton turned to a desk.  Sitting down, he
wrote to his agents telling them to keep him informed of George
Barclay's movements.



PART II



CHAPTER I

The harem in the palace of El-Ammeh led into a large hall with carved
doors and tiny arabesque windows, fretted and scrolled, with no one
spot big enough to squeeze more than a hand through.

Generally speaking, the women of the harem preferred the large hall,
where they could gossip among themselves and with their attendant
women, to the little rooms that were their own private quarters.

But there was one special apartment that they all in turn had striven
after and, in turn, had failed to attain.  No one in the harem had seen
the room except old Sara, and she had plenty of tales to tell about its
magnificence.  It was a big gilded chamber, with a ceiling like the sky
on a desert night, and great golden, jewelled lamps.  There was a
wonderful bathroom, a fretted gallery that gave a wide view of the
desert, a walled garden full of roses, and, above all, a door that led
into the Sultan's private suite.  The room had had no occupant since
the days of the Sultan's mother, the Lady Annette, the first wife and
favourite of his father.  And Sara had been her special slave and
attendant.

It could be reached from the harem.  At one point behind the silken
curtains a narrow stairway led upwards, and ended in a scented,
sandalwood door.  But the door was always locked, and only the Sultan
had the key.  It was common harem gossip that in that room he would
place the one among his slaves whom he deigned to make his first wife.

Although the law allowed him four, and as many slaves as he fancied, so
far he had no legal wife.  It was strange, considering he was nearly
thirty.  But, in many ways, he differed from all the previous Sultans.
According to old Sara, it was because his mother belonged to quite
another race, and had come from a land as remote from El-Ammeh as
Paradise, where the women were all white, a land that the Sultan now
visited yearly.

For that land he was starting to-morrow.

He had just been to the harem to say farewell to the half-dozen girls
there, departing with promises of new jewels and novelties to please
and amuse these toys of his on his return.  And now he lingered with
his newest slave and favourite, Rayma, the Arab girl he had bought but
six weeks ago.

[Illustration: He had come to the harem to say farewell.....]

Envious glances were cast towards the door behind which the Sultan
Casim Ammeh and his new slave, Rayma, took farewell of one another.

One girl more than the others watched the door with hurt, angry,
jealous eyes.

She was about twenty-three, with a full figure, a creamy skin, a
profusion of long black curls, and great soft, languid eyes--a
half-breed Spanish-Moorish girl of the true odalesque type.

Her attire was scanty.  A red silk slip draped her from shoulder to
knee, held on by ribbon straps; and on her hands and wrists and neck a
quantity of barbaric jewelery flashed.

"I pray to Allah that on his travels our Sultan will find some woman he
loves better than Rayma," she said, spite and jealousy in her soft
voice.

"No, I don't pray that, Leonora," one of her companions remarked.  "For
_you_ took him from _me_, and what am I now?  Like you, a scent that
has lost its savour; for it is but a shred of love that the Lord Casim
has now for me.  No; I pray may _he_ know what it is to love and be
denied, for too easily do women's hearts go to him.  And no man values
what comes to him cheaply.  Our day is done, mine and yours, Leonora,
as Rayma's will be when another woman takes his fancy.  No, pray as I
do, that he may love a woman who has no desire for him, who spurns his
love--a woman whose people will not sell her, who is no slave put up
for auction, as we were.  May his heart ache, as mine has ached.  May
passion keep him sleepless, with empty arms and craving desire.  May
love prove to him a mirage that he can see yet never grasp!"

Unconscious of these wishes, the Sultan Casim Ammeh and the slave girl
Rayma lingered together behind closed doors.

The moon shone into the little apartment, showing a big man in a white
burnoose, and at his side a girl lay, looking at him with tearful,
love-laden eyes.

She was about seventeen, with an amber skin and a cloud of straight
black hair that reached to her heels.  A cloud out from which looked a
little oval face, with great black eyes and a small red mouth, a
perfect type of Arab beauty.

"My Lord Casim, beloved, my heart breaks at the thought of your going,"
she said tearfully.

Smilingly he watched her, caressing her in an indulgent fashion.

"But, my desert flower, I shall come back again."

"But it is so far.  And in that Paris there are so many women.  I know,
because Sara has told me.  And all their arms will be stretched out to
keep you there."

"No arms have kept me there for longer than three months," he replied.

"And mine!  Mine are not strong enough to keep you here?" she sobbed.

He drew the sobbing little beauty into his embrace, and kissed her
tear-stained face.

"Tell me, my jewel, what favour can I grant you before I go?"

"I want nothing but just to rest upon your heart for ever."

With a tender hand he stroked her long black hair, and tried to soothe
away the tears; flattering tears, resulting from his coming departure.

"Don't go to Paris, Casim, beloved," she whispered.  "Stay in El-Ammeh.
Paris is so far, and I am so ignorant of all outside of the desert.
Ignorant of everything except love and you.  Think, my lord, only six
weeks have we been together, and now you would go!  Only six weeks
since my father brought me from the desert to sell me to the Sultan
Casim Ammeh.  How afraid I was until I saw you.  And then I was afraid
I might not find favour in your sight.  For my heart was yours the
moment our eyes met.  Only six weeks ago!  Casim, don't go," she
implored.  "Stay with me, for my heart is breaking."

"Little one, there is business as well as love," he said gently.

"I think of nothing but love."

"Love is quite enough for any girl to think of."

"And those women in Paris, do they think only of love?"

"No; they think of money as well.  That's why I prefer you."

She slipped her slim arms about his neck, pressing, her slight form
against him, kissing him passionately.

"Let me live in the gilded chamber until you come back," she whispered,
"and then I should feel the most honoured among your slaves."

However, he avoided this suggestion.

"We'll see about that when I return," he answered with an amused,
indulgent air.

Then he held the girl closer.

"Now, before I go, Rayma, is there nothing you want?  Nothing I can do
for you?"

"There is one thing, my Sultan.  Sell Leonora.  I hate her.  She's a
great fat toad, always plotting and planning to steal your heart from
me."

"I couldn't do that.  I'm not quite like your desert men, remember.  I
can't sell a woman who has once pleased me.  But, on my return, I'll
find her a nice husband, if that will satisfy you."

There was a note in his voice that brooked no argument; and the girl,
reared for the harem, was quick to notice it.

She gave a sharp glance at her owner.  It seemed that a man she did not
know stood behind her Sultan, indulgent master as he had proved.  A man
she had no hold over.



CHAPTER II

In one of the hotels in the Island of Grand Canary dinner had just been
served.  Around the door of the large dining-hall the manager, the head
waiter and several underlings hovered, with an air of awaiting the
arrival of some important personage.

Presently two people appeared in the doorway.

One was a middle-aged woman with grey hair and a prim expression.  She
was wearing a plain black silk evening dress, and she had the look of a
retired governess.  Her companion was of quite another type.  She was a
slender, graceful girl of medium height, with a mop of short, golden
curls dancing round a small, frank face, that gave her the look of some
lovely, delicate schoolboy.  She wore a simple white silk frock, and
her only mark of wealth was a large diamond hanging from a thin
platinum chain about her slender neck; a gem in itself worth a fortune.

Evidently she was the personage expected.  As she appeared the manager
went forward to meet her.  She smiled at him in a friendly, affable
manner.  With him at her side, she and her companion went up the big
room, towards a specially reserved table, the head-waiter and a little
group of others following behind.

As she came up the room, a man seated at one of the tables in the
center of the room said to his neighbour:

"Who is that girl?  The whole hotel is falling over itself to wait on
her."

The speaker was a short, thick-set man, with a red face and fishy eyes.

"That's Pansy Langham, the millionairess," his neighbour replied.  "She
came over in her yacht from Teneriffe this afternoon.  Barclay her name
was before she came into her money."

"A millionaire, is she?  That's the second one of the species in Grand
Canary then.  For there's a French millionaire staying in a villa at
the back here.  Le Breton, his name is.  But what's brought the girl to
these parts?  There's not much here to attract a woman with money."

"She's here for her health, I believe."

"Not lungs, surely!  She looks healthy enough."

"No, she had an accident about a couple of months ago.  Some half-mad
horse mauled her horribly, all but killed her.  I remember reading
about the case in the papers.  They say she's a very decent sort, in
spite of her millions.  Gives an awful lot away in charity."

As the girl approached the table, the red-faced man screwed an eyeglass
into one fishy eye and surveyed her from head to foot.

"She's not bad looking," he said in a condescending manner, as if it
were his prerogative to criticise every woman who crossed his horizon.
"But she's not a patch on the red-haired woman in the villa at the back
here.  Now, she's what I call a beauty."

He did not trouble to lower his voice, and his words reached Pansy.

She glanced in his direction and wrinkled her pretty nose, as if she
were smelling a bad smell.  And with no more notice than that, she
passed on to her own table.



CHAPTER III

Just off the main road between the Port and the city of Las Palmas,
Grand Canary, a villa stood.  It was situated on a hill; a white,
flat-roofed building, set in a pleasant garden.  Long windows opened on
a lawn surrounded by trees.

Out from one of the windows a flood of light streamed and mingled with
the silver of the night.  The apartment it came from was elaborately
furnished, in an ornate French style, with gilded furniture, bevelled
mirrors, and satin-covered chairs and lounges.

On one of the latter a woman lolled back amongst an array of soft
cushions.  She was big and voluptuous-looking, with a dead-white skin,
a mass of flaming red hair, and eyes green as the emerald necklace she
wore.

She had on an extremely low-cut, black satin dress, that suited her
style and colouring.  And she made a striking, if somewhat bizarre,
picture.

But attractive and unique as she looked, the man sitting with her
appeared more interested in the view from the window than in his
companion.

From there, a glint of moonlit sea showed between the vaguely moving
trees; a peaceful stretch that spread away to the purple, misty horizon.

He was a big man of about thirty, well groomed and handsome, with
smooth black hair, close-clipped moustache, and dark, smouldering eyes
that had a latent searching look at the back of them.  He was in
evening attire, with black pearl studs in his pleated dress shirt.

For some time the two had been sitting in silence; the man's gaze on
the sea; the woman's on the man, in a hungry, anxious manner.

"You've got one of your restless moods on to-night, Raoul," she said
presently.

"I get them frequently nowadays.  Nothing ever satisfies me for long."

She smiled at him, a soft, slow smile.

"Yet I have satisfied you longer than most, for you are still here with
me."

"It's not you so much, Lucille, as business that keeps me here."

"I believe you have no heart at all," she cried, a catch of pain in her
voice.  "You look upon all women as animals."

"You are a most handsome animal, you must agree," he replied.

"You talk as if you'd bought me."

"I don't know that I ever put it quite so crudely as that."

"Put it as crudely as you like," she cried in a sudden gust of temper.
"You have taken all from me and given me nothing in return."

He made no reply.  In a slightly amused manner his glance rested on her
emerald necklace.

"You may look," she went on passionately.  "But I want more than gifts.
I want love, not just to be the creature of your passions."

"Then you want too much.  There's no such thing as love between men and
women.  There's only passion."

"You are cruel," she moaned.

"Cruel!  Merely because I refuse to be enslaved by any one woman, eaten
up in mind and body and soul, as some of the men I know are?  I wasn't
brought up to look upon women as superior beings, and I've never met
one yet to make me want to change my sentiments.  They are here for my
convenience and pleasure, and nothing more."

There was silence again.

Lucille sighed.

She knew she had no hold over him other than her sex, and never had
had.  Heroics, temper and entreaties had no effect on him whatsoever;
he remained always unmoved and indifferent.

With a shrug she picked out a chocolate from a large box at her side.
Then she changed the conversation.

"What's the business, Raoul?  I'd no idea you had any here.  I thought
ours was a pleasure trip, purely--or impurely."

"The business is strictly private," he replied, a savage note in his
voice.

A month before, on leaving Paris, when Le Breton had asked Lucille
Lemesurier, the actress, to accompany him on his yacht and spend a week
or so in Grand Canary, it had been for pleasure solely.

But a few days ago a letter had reached him.

A letter to the effect that his enemy, now Sir George Barclay, had been
appointed governor of Gambia.  The Sultan Casim Ammeh was waiting in
Grand Canary until certain that his man was _en route_ for his new post.



CHAPTER IV

On the balcony of her bedroom Pansy Langham stood, slim and
boyish-looking in a suit of silk pyjamas.

Beneath, the hotel grounds spread, running down to the shore.  Beyond,
the sea stretched, a silver mirror, away to the sparkling, frosty mist
of the horizon.  In the milky sky the moon soared, a molten globe,
touching the drooping palms and making their quivering fronds look like
silver fountains.  A little line of waves lapped murmurously on the
shore, in a running ridge of white fire.  The stone wall edging the
garden was turned into marble.  Here and there across the beach the
taller trees threw thick, ebony shadows.

On the whole expanse of silvered sea, only one mark showed like a black
dot in the distance.

Pansy had seen the mark when it had been much nearer the shore; a man's
dark head.  He had swum out and out, away into the mist and moonlight.

It was long after midnight.  In the whole white world there was no sign
of life except that dark head and the girl on the balcony who was
watching the swimmer.

The black dot grew bigger, as, with powerful overhand strokes, the man
made his way shorewards.

When about two hundred yards away from the beach the strong ease of his
limbs altered suddenly.  They grew contorted.  He threw up his arms,
and a moment later vanished completely.

Pansy gave a quick gasp of alarm.

But the man appeared again, trying to float, as a level-headed swimmer
does when cramps seize him, in order to get air between the spasms that
send him writhing under water; a hopeless task usually, unless aid is
quickly forthcoming.

For just one second Pansy watched with horror and distress on her face.
Then she turned sharply and vanished into her bedroom.  A moment or so
later she was out of the hotel and running swiftly through the silent
garden towards the shore.

To Le Breton out there with the water choking his powerful lungs,
gasping and fighting for his life against a death that only his own
nerve and wit kept at bay, that struggle seemed an eternity.

All at once, he was caught and held from behind, just on the surface of
the water; a slight support, but sufficient to keep him from going
under when the spasms were on.

Unlike the average swimmer in difficulties, he did not snatch at his
unseen rescuer.  For all his dire straits he had the presence of mind
to let his preserver alone.

For another ten minutes or more the attack lasted.  Then his muscles
unknotted and strength came back to his limbs.

He turned himself over to see who had come to his aid.

Out of the misty moonlit sea a young face looked at him from under a
mop of short curls.

"You didn't come a moment too soon, my boy," he said.

There was a tired look about Pansy, but that did not prevent her
dimpling in an effort not to smile.  And to hide her mirth she dived
suddenly and struck out towards the land.

Le Breton struck out too.  He reached the shore first.

Pansy, however, did not go in his direction.  She turned off and landed
where the shadows were the thickest.

From where the man stood, he saw what looked to be a slim, fragile boy
of about fourteen, who staggered slightly with fatigue as he made
towards the most shadowed pair of steps leading into the hotel grounds.

Quickly Le Breton went towards his rescuer, with the idea of lending a
hand, for it looked as if the boy were thoroughly worn out.

By the time he reached her Pansy was leaning against the wall under
cover of the thickest shadows.

"I'm afraid you've over-exerted yourself on my account," he said in a
solicitous way.

"I don't usually get knocked out so quickly," she replied.  "But I had
a nasty accident some weeks ago, and I've not quite recovered yet."

The answer was in French, as fluent and Parisian as his own.

"You must let me help you back to the hotel," he said.

"Oh no, it's not necessary.  I shall be all right in a moment."

"What you need, my boy, is a dose of brandy," he remarked.  "That would
soon put you right."

Pansy put her hand to her mouth to hide her smiles.  Her short hair,
pyjamas, and the shadows had deceived him completely.

"It wouldn't be a bad idea," she replied; "but I don't happen to have
any."

"Ring for some, then, when you get back to the hotel."

"I wouldn't dream of disturbing people at this hour of the night," she
said in an indignant tone of voice.

"What else are the servants there for?" he asked in a surprised and
peremptory way.

"They're not there for me to root out of bed at two o'clock in the
morning."

He laughed in an amused manner.

"I'm not so considerate of menials as you appear to be.  But tell me
the number of your room and I'll bring you some."

There was a brief pause.

Out from the shadows Pansy scanned the man.  She could not see much,
except that he was big and of splendid proportions.  But he had a
well-bred air, and his deep voice, if imperious, was pleasant and
cultured.

Then her eyes started to sparkle with mischief.

"My room is number three on the first floor," she said.  "Don't knock;
come straight in.  I'll leave the door ajar.  I don't want to disturb
my neighbours with my midnight prowls."

"Very well.  I'll be there in ten minutes or so,"

They parted company, Le Breton going along the shore, Pansy up the
shadowed steps.

On reaching her own room she switched on the light.

Slipping off her sodden garments, she dried herself quickly and put on
a low-necked, short-sleeved, silk nightgown embroidered with purple
pansies.  Giving a quick, vigorous rub to her curls, she opened the
door an inch or so.  Then she skipped into bed and sat there,
bright-eyed and rosy-cheeked, delighted with the surprise she had
prepared for the man.

Unaware of what was in store for him, Le Breton returned to the hotel.
Knowing the place well, he made his way noiselessly along the dim,
deserted corridor towards a door that stood slightly ajar, letting out
a sharp knife of light.  He was in shirt and trousers, and in his hand
he carried a small jewelled flask.

Without any preamble he went into the room.

The apartment he entered was a sumptuous one to average eyes, the best
the hotel boasted.

On the wide dressing-table was a litter of silver toilet appointments,
each with a pansy in purple enamel on it.

Le Breton did not give the room a glance.

He had eyes for nothing but the figure sitting up in bed.  A figure no
longer in pyjamas--they lay in a wet heap in the middle of the
floor--but in a pretty nightgown; and from beneath a flood of golden
curls wide, purple eyes looked at him, sparkling with innocent mischief.

It was no boy who had come to his assistance, but a girl!  A lovely
girl with a full, perfect mouth, vividly red, a milk-white skin and
cheeks where roses bloomed.

He backed slightly and locked the door, as if the situation were one he
was quite accustomed to and equal to dealing with.

"There's no need to lock the door," Pansy said.

"It's on your account, not mine.  A little incident of this sort won't
damage my reputation."

"I'd forgotten about my reputation," she said, a note of concern in her
voice.  "I only thought about giving you a surprise."

"It is.  A most delightful one, too.  In fact, I don't think I've ever
experienced anything quite so delightful and unexpected," he responded
drily.

He crossed to the bed, and stood looking at the girl with a critical,
appreciative air.  And Pansy looked at him with candid, friendly gaze,
taking stock of him equally.

He struck her as being remarkably good-looking, but his expression was
too arrogant, his mouth too hard; it even had a suspicion of cruelty.
He had an air, too, of having ridden rough-shod over people all his
days.  In spite of his well-groomed, well-bred appearance, there was a
suggestion of the wild about him, as if he had never been properly
broken in.

There was a brief silence as the two surveyed one another.

Le Breton was the first to speak, and his remark was of a critical
nature.

"Why do you wear your hair short?  It would suit you far better long,
as a woman's hair ought to be."

"I like it short.  It's less trouble."

There was a note in her voice as if his or any man's opinion about her
appearance did not worry her in the least; an air of thorough
independence, out of keeping with her years, that he was quick to
notice.

"Do you always do as you like?" he asked.

"Always.  It's an excellent habit to cultivate, and one you've
cultivated to the fullest by the look of you, since criticism is the
order of the day," she replied.

Le Breton thought of the desert kingdom he had ruled with undisputed
sway for sixteen years.

"I dare say I do as I like more than most people you've come across,"
he answered with emphasis.

Pansy dimpled.

There was an air about her visitor as if he expected and were
accustomed to people standing in awe of him.  However, he did not
inspire her with this feeling, only with a desire to tease and plague
him; he was so big and masterful looking, as if he thought himself
"monarch of all he surveyed," even herself, at that moment.

"Are you in the habit of asking strange men to your bedroom?" he asked
suddenly.

"If I remember rightly, you volunteered to come."

"And now I'm here, what am I supposed to do?"

"To be _most_ surprised.  To give me a drink of brandy; and then go,
nicely and quietly, like a good 'boy.'"

An amused look crossed Le Breton's face.  Innocent mischief had not
come into his life before.

"I am most surprised," he said.  "I flattered myself I could tell a
woman anywhere."

"I'm not a woman, not until next year.  So that must account for your
deplorable mistake."

"You look even younger than twenty.  Are you English or American?"

"Why can't I have a choice of being either French or Russian or Italian
or Spanish or German?"

"Only an English or an American girl would play this sort of a trick.
Not that I've had any dealings with either.  I'd like to hear you were
American."

"What's wrong with being English?"

"I dislike and despise the English," he replied, a latent note of
savagery in his deep voice.

"Then you'll have to dislike and despise me, because I'm one of them."

Pansy stretched out her hand.  The action brought into view a network
of disfiguring red ridges and scars on her upper arm, marring an
otherwise perfect limb.

"Please give me a drink," she finished.

The excitement of the surprise she had prepared was dying down, leaving
her looking what she really was--worn out with the exertion of saving
him.

Crossing to the wash-stand, Le Breton picked up a glass.  Pouring a
small dose of brandy into it, he added the requisite water and brought
it back to the girl.

Then he seated himself on the bedside, watching her as she drank it.

"What a nasty scar you have on your arm," he remarked, is if any flaw
on such perfection annoyed him.

"I've worse scars here and here," she replied, touching her side and
thigh; "and they don't look at all pretty.  'The Sultan' did them."

He started slightly.

"The Sultan!  What Sultan?"

"A brown Sultan.  A very nice Sultan, but we understand one another
now."

Le Breton took the girl's arm into his grip with the light, firm,
careful touch of a man who is used to handling women.

"They're the marks of a horse's teeth," he remarked after a brief
survey.

With an air of relief, Pansy held the empty glass towards him.

"Thank goodness that's finished.  Now, with your permission, I'll go to
sleep."

He took the glass, placing it on a table near; but he did not move from
his seat on the bedside.

"You must tell me your name," he said.

"You'll find out quite soon enough without my telling you.  It's not at
all necessary for me to advertise myself nowadays."

"Won't you tell me?" he asked in a cajoling tone.

Pansy shook her head.

"Then I must find a name for you," he said.  "A flower name would suit
you admirably.  Let me see, what do you call the flower in English?"

He hesitated.

"Pansy," he finished, after a moment's thought.

"But why 'Pansy' specially?" she asked, smiling at him.  "Why not Lily
or Rose or May, since I'm to be given a stupid flower name?"

"There are pansies in your eyes, on your nightgown, on the appointments
of your dressing-table, on your handkerchief here."

With a deeply bronzed hand he touched a scrap of embroidered muslin
that peeped out from beneath her pillow and which had a pansy worked on
it in one corner.

Pansy laughed, amused at his perception.

"Now, I'm too tired to entertain you any longer," she said.  "Good
night, and thank you for bringing the brandy."

Le Breton was not accustomed to being dismissed when he was prepared to
stay.'

"Are you really anxious to get rid of me?" he asked.

"Most anxious.  I'm dying to go to sleep."

In a reluctant manner he got to his feet.

Stooping over the bed, he gave a caressing pat to the tired, small face.

"Good night, Pansy, little flower," he said softly.  "I'll go if you
really want me to, but I'm not in the habit of going unless _I_ want
to."

"What an autocrat you sound!  And please--don't forget my reputation.
I can't afford to lose it so early in life."

There was anxiety in the girl's voice, for all her light tone.

"Your reputation will be quite safe with me," he said.

He stood for a moment watching her, an amused expression lurking in his
dark, fiery eyes.  Then he turned and, switching off the light, went
noiselessly from the room.

It was not until he had gone that Pansy recollected that he had touched
her twice and she had not minded or reproved him, and usually she very
strongly resented being touched by men.  And it was not until Le Breton
reached his villa that he remembered the girl had not even troubled to
ask his name.  In fact, once the trick had been played, her only desire
had been to get him out of the room.



CHAPTER V

In one of the private sitting-rooms of the hotel, Miss Grainger was
lolling back in a comfortable wicker chair reading a newspaper.

The door opening made her look round.

A slim, boyish figure entered the room, clad in a well-cut white riding
suit, the neatest of brown boots and leggings, and a white felt hat
pulled well on to a mop of curls.

"You're late starting this morning, Pansy."

"I am.  But--last night I saved a man's life."

"Saved a man's life!  Really, my dear, what a way you have of springing
surprises on one."

Teasingly Pansy glanced at her old governess.

"Miss Grainger, I must remind you that 'springing surprises' is slang."

Miss Grainger ignored the reprimand.

"But what man did you save, and how did you save him?" she asked in a
slightly bewildered manner.

"I forgot to ask his name.  I fished him out of the sea.  He had
cramps."

"But he might have dragged you under!" her companion said in a
horrified voice.  "I should have thought that last experience of yours
with that awful horse would have taught you not to go diving headlong
into danger."

"'The Sultan' isn't awful.  You know it was all a mistake on his part.
Besides, nothing will keep me from 'diving headlong into danger,' as
you call it, when I see things being hurt.  It's all part of my silly,
impetuous nature."

"Well, I hope the man was grateful."

"He never even thanked me."

Such gross ingratitude left Miss Grainger aghast.

"My dear!" she exclaimed.

"He thought I was a boy, and when he found I was a girl he was too
astonished to remember his manners," Pansy explained.  "But don't say
anything about it to anybody.  You know I hate a fuss."

"What was he like?"

"Big and dark and awfully good-looking, with an arrogant, high-handed
manner.  He badly needed taking down a peg or two."

"Quite different from Captain Cameron," Miss Grainger suggested.

"Oh, quite.  Bob's a kid beside him."

There was a brief pause.

Miss Grainger glanced at the girl.

"Do you know, Pansy, I'm sorry for Captain Cameron."

"So am I," the girl replied, a touch of distress in her voice.  "But my
sorrow refuses to blossom into love."

"He's a very good sort."

"I know; but then I'm not given to falling in love."

"Some day you'll find yourself in love before you know it."

Pansy smiled at her old governess in a merry, whole-hearted fashion.

"What a persistent bird of ill-omen you are!" she said.

Then she glanced at the clock.

"Now I'm off.  I shan't be back for lunch.  So-long," she finished.

She went, leaving Miss Grainger with the feeling of a fresh, sweet
breeze having been wafted through the room.



CHAPTER VI

In the large palm-decked patio of the hotel, Le Breton sat sipping
coffee as he went through the newspapers solicitous waiters had placed
on a table at his elbow.  It was not often he came to the hotel, but
when he did the whole staff was at his disposal, for he scattered
largess with a liberal hand.  He had lunched there, his gaze wandering
over the crowded dining-room as if in search of someone; and afterwards
he had stayed on.

It was now about three in the afternoon, an hour when the patio was
practically deserted.

As he sat there reading, Pansy entered the big hall, still in breeches
and leggings, just as she had returned from her ride.  She would have
passed through the patio without coming within his vision, except that
something about the smooth black head was familiar.

So she changed her route and went in Le Breton's direction instead.

"Have you gotten over your disappointment?" she asked.

In an unperturbed manner he looked round.  Then he got to his feet
leisurely, surveying the slim, boyish figure with disapproval.

Pansy stood with her hands deep in her pockets, smiling at him, a smile
that deepened under his lack of appreciation of her attire.

"What disappointment?" he asked.

"Of finding I was a girl you had to be polite to instead of a boy you
could bully."

"I'm inclined to go back to my first impression," he said.

"Don't you like my get-up?"

"Decidedly I do not.  Why don't you wear something feminine?  Not go
about masquerading as a man."

Adverse criticism rarely came Pansy's way.

She laughed.

"What a back number you are!  All women ride in breeches nowadays.
But, since you don't approve of me, come along and see if you like 'The
Sultan' any better.  You were most interested in his mark and seal."

There was an air about her as if she never expected to be gainsaid if
she felt like favouring a man, for she turned at once and led the way
towards the main entrance.

Picking up his hat, Le Breton followed.

Once outside, he said:

"I've not yet thanked you for saving my life."

"I couldn't do less than lend a hand," she replied with a casual air.

"It was a risky thing to do.  I might have dragged you under."

"Well, you didn't.  And we're neither of us any the worse for the
little adventure."

"I hope we shall be all the better.  That we shall be excellent
friends," he replied.

Then he drew a leather case from his pocket and held it towards her.

"I've brought you a little memento," he finished.

With inquisitive hands Pansy took the case and snapped it open.  Inside
was a string of pearls worth at least £500.  He watched the girl as she
opened the case, but none of the coos of delight and surprise at his
generosity, that he expected and was accustomed to under such
circumstances, were forthcoming.  Instead, she closed the case and
handed it back to him.

"It's very pretty, and very kind of you to think of it," she said.
"But I couldn't keep it."

To have his gift thrust back on him was the last thing Le Breton was
prepared for or desired.

"Why not?" he asked abruptly.

"I never take presents from men, but I appreciate your kindness all the
same."

He glanced at her, a peculiar look at the back of his eyes.

To get off the topic Pansy hurried forward.

From a building close at hand there came a gentle whinny.

"That's 'The Sultan,'" she remarked.  "He hears me coming."

When the stables came into view, over the open door of a box a long
brown head and neck were seen stretched towards the approaching girl.

"I'm going to let him out," she said; "but you mustn't come too close.
He hates strangers; and so should I if I'd been through the hell he's
been through."

Le Breton laughed, as if anyone, more especially the slim girl with
him, telling him to be careful of anything in the shape of a horse had
its intensely funny side.

As Pansy opened the door his glance ran swiftly over the animal.

It was a huge, gaunt beast, a chestnut, with wild, roving eyes; a
great, vicious-looking creature, well on in years and undoubtedly an
old race-horse, for speed was written all over it.  And on it, too,
were scars and weals that spoke of past ill-treatment.

Pansy kissed its soft nose, and patted and stroked it and pulled its
ears; and the great animal fawned on her.

Then she led it out, keeping a tight grip on its mane.  For it bared
its teeth at Le Breton, and stood shivering and expectant, as if
suspecting every man's hand to be against it.

He, however, ignored its attentions and came closer.  But it swung
round and lashed at him with iron heels.

"Oh, do be careful!  Don't come so close," Pansy cried.

In spite of its snarls and the iron hoofs, she kept her grip on its
mane.  But neither teeth nor hoofs, were in her direction.

Ignoring her entreaties, Le Breton came closer, all the time talking to
the horse gently in a strange language.

The animal seemed to recognize a friend.  It quietened down suddenly,
and stretched a long neck in his direction.  Still talking, he patted
and stroked it.  The horse submitted to his attentions, and before many
moments had passed was rubbing its nose against him.

All interest, Pansy watched the two make friends.

"What are you saying to him?" she asked.  "Usually he won't let a
stranger near him."

"I was talking to him in the language all race-horses
understand--Arabic," he replied.  "But how did you come by such a
brute?"

The animal was of the type only the most hardened of stable-men could
handle; the very last horse for a girl to ride.

"I dropped across him quite by accident."

Le Breton thought of the scars he had seen on the girl's arm, and he
had heard there were others and worse beyond his view.

"I should say it was 'by accident,'" he remarked drily.  "I'd like to
hear the story."

Pansy patted the big horse fondly.

"We met in a London slum," she said.  "I happened to be passing a
stable yard when I heard a noise like a horse being hurt or frightened,
and men laughing.  So I opened the gate and went in.  There was poor
old Sultan tied up in one corner and half a dozen roughs baiting him,
all the time taking good care not to get within his reach, for he was
almost mad with terror and rage and ill-treatment.  I told them what I
thought, and in the telling I got too close to 'The Sultan,' and he
grabbed me by the arm.  In ten minutes he had made such a mess of me
that it took a month to patch me up.  And the men were such cowards
that they never tried to rescue me.  It was 'The Sultan' himself who
seemed to realise he'd set on his best friend, for he stopped chewing
me, and stood sniffing at me, and let me crawl away.  And I didn't
remember anything more until I found myself back home.  Then I
remembered the poor horse left to the mercy of those cruel wretches;
and I sent someone along to buy him and take him away from his awful
surroundings.  It was so obvious he had known better days, although he
had sunk right down to dragging some East End coal higgler's cart.  The
first time I was allowed out I went to his paddock and had a look at
him.  And I'm sure he knew me.  He stretched his long neck over the
gate and sniffed and snuffed at me and seemed quite
conscience-stricken.  At the end of a fortnight I was on his back, and
now I take him everywhere I go, as he gets worried if he doesn't see me
about.  He can't believe his awful days are over unless I'm here to
reassure him."

As Pansy told the tale she leant against the big horse; and she told it
as if her own hurts were nothing.

"And you took him into your favour after he had treated you so
abominably!" Le Breton said.

"I couldn't be hard on him for what was the result of his awful
surroundings."

"You are very magnanimous."

Pansy smiled.

"You'll forgive me for not accepting that pretty necklace, won't you?"
she asked.

"Some day, when we know each other better, you'll honour me by
accepting it," he said.

He spoke to the girl now as if she were his equal, not just some pretty
toy he happened to have fancied.

"I never take anything from men--except perhaps a few flowers."

There was a subtle contempt for his sex in her voice which Le Breton
was quick to note.

"So you despise men?"

"Not that exactly, but I've had rather an overdose of them.  Since I've
been here, Sultan and I go off early every morning usually, and are
miles away before there are any men about to bother us."

With this Pansy turned and led the horse back to its box.

"Now," she said, when this was done, "I mustn't keep you.  Good-bye,
and I'm glad you're none the worse for last night."

Again Le Breton was dismissed when he would have lingered.  And on this
second meeting she still had not troubled to ask his name.

There was a curious glint in his eyes as they rested on the slim,
white, indifferent figure of the girl who was making her way back to
the hotel without a further glance in his direction.



CHAPTER VII

At six o'clock in the morning the road that joins the port and the city
of Las Palmas shows very little sign of the peaceful English invasion.
It is given over to the Islanders.  To peasant women with baskets of
produce on their heads; to men driving donkeys laden with fruit and
vegetables, and creaking bullock carts.

The early morning was Pansy's favourite time; the world was a place of
dew and brightness with the sun glinting gold on sandy hills and air
that sparkled like champagne.

She trotted along on her big horse towards the white city, its flat
roofs, low houses and palms giving it an oriental aspect.  Biding
through the town, she crossed a wide bridge and went upwards through a
grove of palms, past banana gardens, into a deserted world, with a blue
sky overhead and an endless stretch of sea behind.

As she mounted higher, the hill grew vine-clad, and great ragged
eucalyptus trees stood in tatters by the roadside.  Here and there was
a stunted pine, the deep green of a walnut tree, a clump of bamboo, a
palm and occasionally, a great patch of prickly cacti, whose flaming
flowers stood out red against a dazzling day.

She rode without spurs or whip, when necessary urging her horse with
hand and voice only.

A village was reached, where black-browed men in slouch hats and
blanket cloaks lounged in groups, smoking and gossiping, and swarthy
women with bright handkerchiefs around their heads stared at the girl
astride the big horse.

In the dust of the road a little group of half-clad, bare-footed
children dragged a trio of unfortunate lizards along by strings around
their necks, and screamed with delight at the writhings of the tortured
reptiles.

The sight brought a look of distress to Pansy's face.

Reining in her horse, she slipped of and went towards the group.

In indifferent Spanish she gave a brief lecture on cruelty.  There was
a sprinkling of small coins, and the lizards changed owners.

Pansy stooped.  Loosening the strings from their soft throats, she
picked them out of the dust.  They were pretty, harmless little things,
each about eighteen inches long and bright green in colour, that hung
limp in her gentle hands, and looked at her with tortured eyes.
Holding them carefully, she went back to her horse, and with the reins
over her arm, made her way through the village.

Once well out of sight of the place, she seated herself on a bank at
the side of the road, and laid the three limp little forms on a warm,
flat, sunny rock.  Then she tried to coax them back to life and their
normal state of bright friskiness.

As she sat rubbing, with a gentle forefinger, their soft, panting
throats, crooning over them with pitying words, too intent on her task
to notice what was going on around her, a deep voice said with an
unexpectedness that made her jump:

"They'll do exactly the same with the next lizards they catch."

She looked round quickly.

In the middle of the road, mounted on a huge black horse, was the man
whose life she had saved.

Pansy's gaze rested on him for a moment before she replied.  He made
such a picture on the black horse, with his strong, sunburnt face and
well-cut khaki riding suit; the most perfect combination of horse and
man she had ever seen.

"I know they will," she said.  "But still, I've done my best for these
three."

"Do you always try to do your best for everything that comes your way,
Pansy?" he asked tenderly.

"Only a few privileged people are allowed to call me 'Pansy,'" she said
tartly.

"What else can I call you, since you refuse to tell me your name?"

"You mean to say you haven't found out yet?" she exclaimed.

"I never gossip," he replied in a haughty tone.

"I don't know yours," she answered, "so we're what is called in English
'quits.'"

"What exactly does 'quits' mean?  I don't know much English."

As Pansy petted the lizards she explained the meaning of the word.
During the explanation one of her protégés recovered, and darted off in
a most thankless manner into a crevice in the rocks.

"My name is Le Breton," he said when he had grasped her meaning.
"Raoul Le Breton."

Pansy stared at him.

She had surprised him on the occasion of their first meeting, but he
had turned the tables on her.

During her stay in Teneriffe she had heard of Raoul Le Breton.  He was
a French millionaire, an African merchant prince, so rumour said.

She had had a feeling that he had followed her that morning, and she
was inclined to be angry about it.  Now she saw that if he sought her
out, it was not from mercenary motives, since he was quite as wealthy
as she was.  What was more he had no idea who she was.

"I'm always interested in millionaires," she said, a mischievous glint
in her eyes.

"All women are," he responded grimly.

"But you're not the only millionaire in the islands," she remarked.

"So I've gathered.  There is, or was, one here quite recently.  An
Englishwoman of the name of Langham.  I detest women with money.  They
are invariably ugly and conceited."

Pansy laughed--a ripple of sheer enjoyment.

"Perhaps their independence annoys you," she suggested.  "I believe
you're what is known as the 'masterful' type."

With that, her attention went back to the lizards.

Dismounting, Le Breton came to her side.

"You speak French remarkably well," he commented, as the moments passed
and no notice was taken of him.

"I was educated in Paris."

She glanced at him, her eyes brimming with mischief, and, as she
glanced, another of her protégés frisked thanklessly away.

"Wouldn't you like to know my name?" she asked.

"At present it's sufficient that you are 'Pansy.'  'Heart's Ease,'
don't you say in English?"

"I wish I could ease this one poor little beast," she said, touching
the remaining lizard.  "But I fear it's hurt beyond redemption."

Stooping he picked up the little reptile and examined it.  It hung limp
in his grasp; a hopeless case.

"The best thing to do with it is to kill it," he commented.

"Oh, I couldn't," she said quickly.

But it appeared he could.  He went some distance away from the girl and
placed the lizard on a flat rock.  In a moment he had ground all
tortured life out of it with his heel.

"Thank you," she said gratefully.  "I knew it was suffering, but I
couldn't have done that to save my life.  As a reward, will you come
and have breakfast with me?"

"There's nothing I should like better," he answered.

Pansy got to her feet.

He helped her to mount.  Then he rode at her side up the hill.

"I love the clear heights," she remarked presently.

"I don't know much about them.  The miry depths are more in my line,"
he replied.

Critically she surveyed him.

"You don't look so specially muddy."

"No?  What do I look like--to you?" he asked, a caressing note in his
voice.

"Very proud, very passionate, very strong, and as if you could be
cruel."

"Then I can't look very attractive," he said, smiling slightly.

"Being proud is all right, so long as it makes you too proud to do mean
things."

"And what about the passionate?" he asked, "since you're making excuses
for me.

"I don't know anything about it."

"Well, what about my being strong then?"

"I don't like men unless they are."

"And the cruelty?"

"I hate it."

"Life sometimes combines to make people cruel who otherwise might not
be," he remarked, as if unaccustomed to finding excuses for himself.
"You can't judge a person fairly until you know all that has gone to
form their character."

Pansy patted her gaunt steed.

"I know that," she said, "that's why I stuck to 'The Sultan' when my
friends tried to persuade me to have him shot.  There's a lot in his
life that I don't know.  These marks tell me that."

She pointed to the various old scars on the animal.

"Now you shall see what 'The Sultan' can do," she went on.  "I'll race
you to the farm over there, where breakfast is waiting," she finished,
pointing to a green patch away in the distance.

A touch of her spurless heel sent the gaunt beast flying along the
dusty, deserted road, in a long, loping gallop that grew more and more
rapid, egged on by the sound of another horse persistently at his heels.

Pansy had not expected that her escort would be able to keep up with
her.  No horse she had met could keep pace with her protégé.  At the
end of half a mile she had been prepared to rein up and wait for Le
Breton.

But at the end of a mile he was a length behind her.  And at the end of
two he was there just the same.

Pansy tired before either the man or the horses.

"Oh!" she panted, as Le Breton drew up beside her.  "I wasn't trained
as a jockey."

"You didn't get away from me quite so easily as you expected," he
remarked with curious emphasis.

"I didn't know there was a horse in the Islands to touch 'The Sultan,'
in spite of his years."

"This horse I'm on has won several races in Paris.  And you challenged
me, Pansy, without pausing to consider what you might be let in for,"
he said, watching her in a fierce, fond manner.

"I always leap before I look.  It's my besetting sin," she replied.

Then she pointed to a side track, leading to a low building, half
white-washed mud, half timber.

"That's the way to my farm," she said.  "But I don't know that my
breakfast will appeal to millionaires."

"Don't thrust that down my throat just now," he answered.  "I want to
see life from your point of view."

The farm they were approaching was a tiny place, with a spreading
garden where orange and fig trees grew.  In one corner a little
summer-house stood, wreathed with red roses, that gave a wide view of
the island and a glimpse of the sea.

Evidently Pansy was expected.  A coarse white cloth was spread on the
table in the summer-house, and it was set with thick crockery and
leaden-looking forks and spoons.

Leaving Le Breton to attend to the horses, she made her way to the tiny
homestead, to announce her presence and the fact of a guest.

Then she passed on towards the summer-house.

Tossing her hat on a seat, she sat with the light glinting on her
golden curls, her elbows on the table, watching the scene dreamily, in
a frame of red roses.

This vision of her greeted Le Breton as he turned the corner, bringing
a hungry glint to his eyes.

Breakfast proved a simple repast.

There was a thick jug full of coffee, another of milk, a large omelet,
a dish of fruit, rolls, butter and honey.

"Now," she said when it was set before them, "how do you like your
coffee?"

"As it should be according to the orientals--black as sin, hot as hell,
sweet as--love," he finished, lingering over the word.

She poured his out, and handed it to him, black as he desired.

"I can get on very well without either the sin or the love," she
remarked as she helped herself to a cup that was mostly milk, and with
no sugar in it.

"I thought all girls liked sweet things and lived for love," he said as
he set about serving the omelet.

"There's a lot more in life for women nowadays than love."

"Being in love is a woman's normal condition," he said in a forcible,
dogmatic manner.

Pansy smiled.

"I always thought you had come out of the Ark, and now I'm sure of it.
You've got such antiquated, early Victorian ideas about women.  They
mustn't wear knickers.  They must always be yearning after some mere
male.  Very flattering to him, I'm sure," she finished, wrinkling a
disdainful nose.

Le Breton's gaze rested on the vivid, beautiful little face, with the
full, perfect, generous mouth, telling of an unselfish, disinterested
nature that would love swiftly and deeply.

"Some day you'll find yourself in love before you know it," he
commented.

"So other people have said.  And it makes me horribly nervous at times.
Like a blind man walking on the edge of a precipice."

"So long as you fell in love with a man who could appreciate you, it
would be all right,--a man sufficiently versed in women to know you
have qualities beyond your beauty to recommend you."

With some surprise Pansy glanced at him.

A soft heart lay beneath her light manner.  Quite half her income was
spent for the benefit of others.  She wondered how he knew about these
"qualities," considering their brief acquaintance.  And she wondered,
too, why she was sitting there discussing love with him; a subject she
never would let any man approach, if it could be avoided.  She put it
down to the fact that her identity was unknown to him, and she could
talk to him freely, knowing her millions were no temptation.

"One thing," she said mischievously, "money will never attract me.
I've no expensive tastes.  I like views and flowers and sunsets.  Moons
and stars and seas and sago pudding.  Horses and chocolates and--my own
way.  All things that don't require a tremendous income."

There was a brief silence.

In a calculating manner Le Breton watched her.  She was a new type to
him; a girl who could not be approached in the way most women could
be--by the easy route of costly presents.

The air was heavy with the scent of roses.  In the distance a guitar
was playing; a throb of melody, faint and seductive, that fed the
craving in the man's heart.

Pansy glanced at him.

"How quiet you are all at once.  What are you thinking about?"

"Ways and means," he replied, smiling slightly.

"I thought only hard-up people were troubled in that way."

"The trouble with me now is that I want something which I fear can't be
bought with money."

"What an unpleasant position for a millionaire to be in.  Still, it
makes you 'realise your limitations,' as an old governess of mine used
to say."

She paused for a moment, watching him with an air of subtle mockery.

"And, Mr. Le Breton, it won't do you any harm to have to go without a
few of the things you want.  There's a look about you as if you always
had things too much your own way."

"I'm not so sure yet that I'm going to do without it.  Fortunately I
have two other courses left open to me--persuasion and power," he
replied.

"Power!  I thought that was the prerogative of kings."

Le Breton said nothing.  He knew if this English girl had any idea who
he was, she would not be sitting there talking to him so freely.
Although he was the Sultan of El-Ammeh, in the eyes of her nation he
was a "nigger."

There was a further silence which Pansy broke.

"What made you swim out all those miles the other night?" she asked.

"I get moods when I want to lose the earth and find a heaven to my own
liking."

"What sort of heaven would that be?"

"Where there would be only one houri, and she all-sufficing."

"A houri?  Why that's a sort of Mohammedan angel-woman."

Evidently Le Breton was in a confessional mood, for he said:

"Nowadays I often wonder what use my life is.  There's no pleasure in
it except, perhaps--women."

"So long as it's 'women,' it's all right.  The trouble starts when it
comes to--'woman.'"

These words from the innocent girl's lips made him laugh.

"Who told you that?" he asked.

"Captain Cameron.  He likes to pose as an authority on such subjects."

"And who is Captain Cameron?"

There was a suspicion of jealousy in Le Breton's voice.

"At present he's possessed with a demon of tennis.  But when the devil
has been cast out, he's my father's secretary."

"And how can the devil be cast out?"

"There's no really permanent cure, but it can be assuaged _pro tem_, if
he meets someone who can beat him.  In Teneriffe, he carried all before
him.  And he's coming over here to-morrow to beat all the local
champions.  He's one of the few people I really like.  I've known him
all my life."

These remarks of hers had the effect of reducing Le Breton to silence
again.



CHAPTER VIII

In the library of the villa, Le Breton sat alone.  The hour was late,
getting on to midnight.  He was stretched in a deep chair smoking, his
gaze fixed on a desk close by, on which was a wide, shallow, crystal
bowl full of water where half a dozen purple pansies floated.

As he sat there indulging in some dream of his own, a door opened and
he looked round sharply, by no means pleased at being roused from his
reverie.  The room was his special sanctum; no one was supposed to
enter without his permission.

In the doorway Lucille stood, in a foamy white dressing-gown, her
wealth of red hair in two thick ropes down her back.

On seeing her, a look of suppressed annoyance crossed his face.

"What is it?" he asked in a none too cordial tone.

She crossed to his side, and stood looking down at him anxiously.

"What has happened to you the last two days?" she asked.

"Happened to me!  What do you mean?"

"You've been so very indifferent."

"Was I ever particularly effusive?"

She laid her hand on his sleeve with a lingering, caressing touch.

"I see nothing of you now except at meals," she said.

With an impatient gesture he drew his arm away.

"I'm not always in the mood for women," he said coldly.

"Perhaps it would be nearer the truth if you said some other woman has
taken your fancy," she suggested.

There was no reply.

Le Breton got to his feet and crossed to the desk, standing there with
his back to her as if he resented her presence.

It was most obvious to Lucille that she was not welcome.

"What is this new fancy of yours like?" she asked in a hurt, jealous
tone.

He made no answer, but his very back oozed annoyance.

"What's her price, Raoul?" she asked in a wild manner.  "Is it emeralds
or pearls or diamonds?  Or is she one whose price is above rubies?"

He faced round suddenly, anger flashing in his eyes.

"Be quiet, woman!" he said savagely.

She laughed hysterically.

"So she's something too good for me to talk about, is she?  Does she
know of all your gay doings in Paris?"

"Oh, you women!" he ejaculated contemptuously.  "Can you never learn
the virtue of silence?"

In an angry manner he went from the room, leaving Lucille in
possession.  She watched him until the door closed.  Then she sank down
into the chair he had vacated and stayed there with bowed head, weeping
bitterly.



CHAPTER IX

At a spot about ten miles away from Las Palmas there are some
well-known orange groves.  Stretch upon stretch of scented trees, they
made a lattice-work of smooth boughs and shiny leaves overhead, with a
glint of blue sky here and there.  The ground was strewn with white
petals, and clusters of white blossoms made fragrant the gilded
greenness.  A glimpse of the sea could be had, and the waves filled the
air with a constant, soft, distant murmur.

At one spot in the scented grove preparations had been made for an
elaborate picnic.  Piles of soft silk cushions were set upon the
ground.  On a cloth of finest linen was spread an array of frail china
and heavy silver, with here and there some golden dish holding dainties.

Two impassive men with lean, brown faces, clad in flowing white robes,
stood near.  Beyond all view of the feast came a faint rattle of pots
and pans, and a little wavering column of smoke rose from a fire where
breakfast was being prepared.

When Pansy had come down the hotel steps for her usual early morning
ride she had not been very surprised to find Le Breton there waiting
for her.

She had had a wide experience of men and their ways, and she knew what
she called "the symptoms."  Generally "the symptoms" annoyed her; she
felt they had more to do with her money than herself.  But Le Breton's
case was different.  She knew who he was, but he had no idea of her
identity.

"I'm going to take you out for breakfast this time," he said on seeing
her.

"Where are we going?" she asked.

"To the orange groves beyond Telde."

They had ridden through the white city, and then on, skirting the
coast, past banana plantations, cindery-looking cliffs and a lava bed
where the poisonous euphorbia grew, ten to twelve feet high, stiff and
straight, like gigantic candelabras.

"I was thinking about you last night," Pansy remarked once, between
their canters.  "What you said about the miry depths.  And I remember
having read somewhere that water can always reach to the level it rises
from.  When people get into the depths they should remember that; it'll
help them to scramble out."

The miry depths of dissipation into which he occasionally plunged had
never troubled Le Breton in the least.  He was not actively aware that
they did now, although he hoped that Pansy would not get to hear of
them.  But it was all part of the girl's nature to have ready the
helpful hand.

"So, Pansy," he said, "having saved my body, you're now after my soul."

"Oh no, I'm not a missionary!  But if you like people, there's no harm
in giving them a word in season."

He brought his horse closer, and bent towards the girl.

"So you like me?" he said in a caressing tone.

"I shouldn't be here if I didn't," she answered candidly.

"And what if I say I like _you_?" he asked, laughing softly.

"I should say it's very nice of you, considering you know nothing at
all about me."

"I can see you are beautiful.  I know your heart is kind.
Circumstances have shown me you are not mercenary.  What more could I
wish to know about you?  Isn't the combination enough to attract any
man?"

"Considering you are French, you've missed the vital point," she said
demurely.  "You haven't said anything about a _dot_."

"No man in his senses would want a _dot_ with you."

"He wouldn't get much money out of my father, anyhow," she said.  "He's
a poor man who has to work hard for his living; and I love him better
than anyone in the whole wide world."

"I'd like to meet him," Le Breton remarked.

"So you will, if you behave yourself.  He's coming out here very soon."

"What constitutes behaving myself?" he asked.  "People have never
complained of my behaviour so far."

Pansy knew he was arrogant and overbearing.  By his own telling, she
guessed he was inclined to be wild.  She suspected him of having little
or no respect for women, although he had been unfailingly courteous to
her.

"I might complain if I had much to do with you, though," she said.

"It would be refreshing, to say the least," he remarked, with a slight
smile hovering on his lips.  "And what would you complain of
especially?"

"You need a lot of reforming in quite a few ways."

"Tell me, and I'll endeavour to mould myself according to your ideals,"
he said with laughter.

"You know you're very well pleased with yourself as you are."

"But I'm even better pleased with you, Pansy," he answered, watching
her with glowing gaze.

This Pansy knew quite well.  To get off the topic, she touched her
horse lightly and broke into a canter.  For it seemed to her "the
symptoms" were coming to a head even more rapidly than she had expected.

When the edge of the orange grove was reached, a couple of white-robed
men came forward to take their horses--dark men, with hawk-like faces,
lean and sun-scorched, who bowed low before her escort with the utmost
servility.

"They look like Arabs," Pansy said.

"They are Arabs; some of my servants from Africa.  I generally have
half a dozen with me."

It seemed to Pansy the whole half-dozen were in the grove, ready to
wait on her.

No sooner was she settled among the cushions than one of the servants
placed a little box before her, about six inches long and four wide: a
costly trifle made of beaten gold, inlaid with flat emeralds and rubies.

"Is it Pandora's box?" she asked, picking it up and examining it with
curiosity.

"It and the contents are for you," Le Breton replied.

She turned the tiny golden key.  Inside, three purple pansies reposed
on a nest of green moss, smiling up at her with velvety eyes.

"I'll have the contents," she said.  "The box you can keep for another
time."

With slim white fingers she picked out the pansies and tucked them into
her coat.

"Still only a few flowers, Pansy?" he said, annoyed, yet pleased that
her friendship was disinterested.  "Suggest something else that you
would accept."

"Breakfast," she said promptly.  "I'm dying of hunger."

A sumptuous feast was spread for her benefit, served in gold and
jewel-encrusted dishes; an array of the most expensive luxuries.  If Le
Breton's idea had been to impress her with his wealth and magnificence,
he failed.  It seemed to pass her by unnoticed; for Pansy was much more
interested in his Arab servants, the grove, the distant view of the
sea, than any of the regal extravagance immediately before her.

When the meal was over she sat, wistful and dreamy-looking, listening
to the sigh of the sea.

For some moments Le Breton watched her.  Just then her mood appeared
very out of keeping with her boyish attire.

"I'd like to see you dressed in something really feminine," he remarked
presently.

"What's your idea of something 'really feminine?'" she inquired.

"Just one garment, a robe that would come from your shoulders to your
knees, loose and clinging, soft and white, with a strap of pearls to
hold it on."

"It sounds draughty," she commented; "and it might show my horrid
scars."

"It would suit you admirably."

"And, I suppose, it would suit you admirably, too, to be lying about on
cushions with me so attired waiting on you," she said quickly.
"Bringing you sherbet and hubble-bubbles, or whatever you call those
big pipe things that men smoke in Eastern pictures and on cigar-box
lids.  And I shouldn't dare call my soul my own.  I should tremble at
your look.  That one garment would place me at a terrible disadvantage."

"I might not be a severe task-master.  I might only ask you to do one
thing."

"And what would that be?"

"In English, I could say it in two words; spell it in six letters."

Pansy darted a quick look at him, and a little mocking smile came and
hovered on her mouth.

She was too accustomed to men and their ways not to guess what the two
words that could be spelt in six letters were.

She sat quiet for a moment or two, an impish look on her face.  Then
she rattled off a riddle in English:--

  "My first is in apple, but not in pie,
  My second is in do, but not in die,
  My third is in veal, but not in ham,
  My fourth is in sheep, but not in lamb,
  My fifth is in morning, but not in night,
  My sixth is in darkness, but not in light,
  My whole is just a word or two,
  Which is known to me as well as to you."


Le Breton knew more English than he pretended, but riddles did not
often come his way.

"Say it again slowly," he requested.

Pansy repeated her composition.

He stored it up in his mind, deciding to go into the matter later on
when there was no lovely little face, dimpled with mischief, looking at
him teasingly from beneath a halo of golden curls.

Soon after this Pansy glanced at her wrist watch.

"I mustn't stay any longer," she said, getting to her feet.

"It's not nine o'clock yet," he remarked.  "I didn't hurry away from
you so quickly yesterday."

This Pansy knew quite well.

He had sat on, and on, with her in the summer-house with the red roses,
and she had been pleased to let him stay.  In fact, it had been
afternoon before they had come down to earth again.

"Captain Cameron is coming this morning," she said.  "And I promised to
be on the quay to meet him."

So saying, she turned towards the spot where the horses were waiting,
leaving him to follow or not as he liked.

Pansy wanted to linger in the grove with Raoul Le Breton as she had
been pleased to stay with him among the red roses on the previous day;
but she decided the mood was not one to be encouraged, especially
considering his desire for the two words, containing in all six
letters, and her own desire for untrammelled liberty.



CHAPTER X

Under the trees that shadowed one corner of the tennis-courts of the
hotel a couple stood.  One was a young man of about twenty-four, in
white flannel trousers and shirt-sleeves, who held a tennis racket in
one hand and a couple of balls in the other.  He was of medium height,
fresh and fair and boyish looking.

At his side Pansy stood, in short skirt and blouse and Panama hat.

"Well, old pal, is there anything doing yet?" he was asking cheerfully.

"There's nothing doing, Bob, much as I try."

"Anyhow, it's a standing order," he said.

"I know; and I'm doing my best," she said.  "I try to go to bed every
night with your name on my lips, but more frequently I go with a yawn.
All for the sake of the 'dear dead days beyond recall.'"

"Which ones especially?" Cameron inquired.

"When I was five and you were nine, and we were all the world to one
another."

"In the days of my 'dim and distant' youth I learnt a rotten poem, from
dire necessity, not choice, you bet.  About some bore of a Scotch king
and a spider, and the chorus or the moral, I've forgotten which, ran,
'If at first you don't succeed, try again.'  Perseverance, Pansy.  It's
a wonderful thing.  You'll find yourself there in the end."

Pansy smiled a trifle wistfully at the boy she had known all her life,
who always gave her nonsense for nonsense, and, incidentally, his heart.

"Bob, I wish I could love you," she said, suddenly grave.

Smiling at her, he started juggling with the two balls.

"So the spirit is willing, etc.?" he responded.  "Well, I shall go on
hoping for a triumph of mind over matter."

For some reason Pansy felt intensely sorry for her old playmate.

She caught herself making comparisons, and something within her
suddenly whispered that they would never be more than friends,
something she did not quite realise--some change that had taken place
within herself since they had parted in Teneriffe only a week before.



CHAPTER XI

Raoul Le Breton took Pansy's riddle home to solve.  He went about it in
his own private sanctum.  Seating himself at the desk, he wrote out the
verse, with a French-English dictionary, making sure his spelling was
correct.  Then he set out to find the solution.

He was not long in doing so.

Afterwards he sat on, gazing at the pansies in the crystal bowl on the
desk, a tender look on his arrogant face.

A daring little creature, that beautiful English girl, frank as the boy
she looked in her riding suit, with attractions beyond those of her sex
and beauty; a courage that roused his admiration; a kindness that moved
his heart; a disinterestedness sweet as it was novel; an ability to
touch parts of his being no woman had touched before, and with a subtle
something about her that brought him an ease of spirit he rarely
experienced.  "Heart's Ease," truly!

As he brooded on Pansy he forgot his vengeance--that he was only
waiting in Grand Canary until quite certain Sir George Barclay was on
his way to Gambia.

He thought only of the velvety-eyed girl who had answered him so deftly
and laughingly.

The riddle had told him the one thing he would ask her to do; his two
words, spelt with six letters:

"Love me."

The fact sent Le Breton to the hotel that evening for an interview with
the verse-maker.

The place was a blaze of light and a crash of music.  In the big patio
the usual bi-weekly dance was taking place, and a crowd of people
disported themselves to the strains of a ragtime band.

Le Breton made a striking figure in evening clothes, and more than one
woman glanced at him with invitation.  He took no notice of them.  All
he wanted was a slim girl with a mop of short, dancing, golden curls.
The room was so crowded that he could get no glimpse of his quarry,
although he altered his point of view several times.

At the end of half an hour he decided to take a turn round the grounds.

The garden was soft with moonlight, filled with a misty brightness, and
the palms hung limp and sighing.  From beyond the wall came the murmur
of the sea.  Syringa and roses filled the night with perfume.  At one
spot a fountain sang sweetly to itself.

There Le Breton lingered with the moonlight and the ebony shadows, the
tropical trees sighing languorously around him.

As he waited there, deep in some reverie of his own, the sound of
footsteps reached him.  Then, from an adjacent path, voices talking in
English--a man's thick, low, and protesting, then a girl's clear and
indignant.

"When did I encourage you?" she asked, her voice raised in righteous
anger.  "Once you brought me a cup of tea I didn't want.  Twice you
mixed my books and papers with somebody else's.  I was three times your
partner at Bridge, and that wasn't any fault of mine.  I defy you to
mention more encouragement than that.  Go to your woman with red hair,
and don't talk nonsense to me."

The man's voice came again.  Then there was a little cry of anger and
the sound of a struggle.

The girl's voice brought Le Breton out of his reverie.  He knew it,
although he could not follow a quarter of what was said.  But the
little cry and the subsequent scuffle sent him quickly in that
direction.

He saw Pansy struggling vainly to get away from a short, thick-set man
with a red face and fishy eyes, who held her by one bare arm.

Le Breton was not long in covering the distance that lay between
himself and the couple.  His coming made Pansy's persecutor let go
quickly, and make off.  The girl had been struggling with all her might
to escape from his coarse, hot grip.  And she was too intent on getting
out of an undesirable situation even to notice that someone's approach
was responsible for her sudden freedom.

The force of her struggles sent her staggering backwards, right on Le
Breton.  His arm went round her.  He held her pressed against him, his
hand on her heart.

It seemed to Pansy, she had gotten out of the frying-pan into the fire.

Quivering with indignation she looked up.  Then she laughed in a
tremulous manner.

"Oh, it's you, is it?  I wondered who else was on my trail."

"You ought not to be out at night alone," he said severely.  "A
beautiful girl is a temptation to any man."

"I'm no temptation.  It's my money.  He likes women with red hair."

Le Breton scanned Pansy more closely.

He had noticed she was dressed in white, but with her unexpectedly in
his arms he had not troubled to look further.

She was wearing a dress of chiffon, light as air, vague as moonlight,
that clung about her like a mist, caught up here and there with tiny
diamond buckles which made the garment look as if studded with
dewdrops.  And on a thin platinum chain about her neck was hung one
great sparkling drop of light.

Le Breton knew real gems when he saw them, and that one diamond alone
was worth a fortune.

He bent his proud head, until his lips just touched the fluff of golden
curls.

"Who are you really, Pansy?" he asked softly.

"You despise and dislike me already, so why should I get further into
your black books?"

"I, despise and dislike you?"

"You said you disliked all the English."

"I'm quite willing to make an exception in your favour."

"When you learn the truth you'll 'detest' me."

"Never!" he said emphatically.

"Well then, I'm 'that woman of the name of Langham.'"

"You!" he exclaimed.

Then he laughed.

"Pansy, you're a little creature of rare surprises."

The surprise held him silent for some moments.  Or else it was
sufficient to have the girl there, unresisting against his heart.

Up till now Pansy had avoided all male arms as far as it was possible
for a girl who was beautiful, wealthy and light-hearted.  Whenever
caught she had wriggled out indignantly.

From the arm that held her now she made no attempt to escape.  A
fearsome fascination lay within its embrace.  It seemed that he would
have but to close the hand that rested on her bosom, and her heart
would be in his grip, snatched out of her keeping before she knew it.

Suddenly it dawned on Pansy that if she stayed there much longer she
would want to stay for ever.

One by one she lifted the sinewy, brown fingers from her dress, holding
them in one hand as she went about her task with the other.

With a slight smile Le Breton watched her.  But when the last of his
fingers was removed, she was still a prisoner, held secure within his
arm.

Then Pansy descended to strategy.

"Mr. Le Breton, will you lend me your handkerchief?" she asked in a
mild tone.

"Why do you want it?" the voice of the master demanded.

"To dip it in the fountain there and wash my arm.  It feels all horrid
and nasty and clammy where that odious man touched it," she said meekly.

The sentiment was one Le Breton approved of and sympathised with.

Letting her go, he drew out his handkerchief.

Taking it, Pansy turned towards the fountain.  He followed and stood
beside her, obviously waiting until her task was finished before
carrying the situation further.

As Pansy scrubbed away at her arm, she kept a rather nervous eye on him.

When the task was completed, she screwed the handkerchief up into a
loose, wet ball.  But she did not throw it on the ground as Le Breton
expected and was waiting for her to do, before taking her into his arms
again.

Instead, she threw it into his face.

It took him by surprise; an indignity that had not come his way
hitherto.  People were not in the habit of throwing wet handkerchiefs
with stinging force into the face of the Sultan Casim Ammeh.

The force and wetness temporarily blinded him.  He was perhaps ten
seconds in recovering his sight and his dignity.

Then he looked for the girl.

She was running as fast as she could away from him, down a misty,
moonlit path, in her chiffon and diamonds looking a shimmer of
moonlight and sparkling dew herself.

Pansy's only desire just then was to get out of the white, romantic
moonlit world with its scents and sighs and seductive murmurs, back to
one of electric light and ragtime, where there was no Raoul Le Breton
looking at her gravely, with glowing eyes.

He had suddenly become a startling menace to her cherished liberty,
this big, dark man with his masterful air and high-handed ways.

Whatever he said she would have to listen to.  Perhaps even--agree with!



CHAPTER XII

Le Breton did not run after the girl.  He watched her go, with a
feeling that he could afford to bide his time.  But at six o'clock the
next morning he was round at the hotel waiting for Pansy to come for
her usual ride.

However, there was no sign of her either that morning or the following.
In fact, it was not until the afternoon of the second day that he saw
anything of her.

A tennis tournament was taking place at the hotel.  Le Breton went
feeling sure Pansy would be there, and incidentally, to find out what
Captain Cameron, the local tennis champion, was like.

He saw a fresh-faced youngster, decidedly better-looking than the rest
of the men there, but too much like the girl herself ever to be able to
hold her.

Then he looked for Pansy.

She was seated with a group of acquaintances, awaiting her turn on the
courts.

On seeing Le Breton, she vouchsafed him a smile and a nod, but no
further attention.

After a three days' tournament, Cameron emerged victor, but Le Breton
had managed to get no word with Pansy.  Whenever he came within
speaking distance she edged away, taking cover behind someone.  To
catch her was like setting a trap to catch a moonbeam.

At the end of the tournament word went round that a rank outsider had
challenged the victor.

"Who is it, Bob?" Pansy asked when the news reached her.

Cameron pointed with his racket across the court, to where Le Breton
stood, in panama hat and grey flannels.

"That big chap over there," he said.  "He's got a nerve, hasn't he?"

"And did you accept?" Pansy asked.

"Of course I did.  I couldn't let that sort of cheek pass."

Other people had heard what was happening.  An interested crowd
collected around the court.  For word had gone round that the man who
had challenged the English champion was Raoul Le Breton, the French
millionaire.

Captain Cameron had not been long on the court before he discovered he
had met his equal, if not his superior.

With a long, lithe movement Le Breton was all over the ground,
seemingly unhurried, but always there at the right moment, making his
opponent's play look like a heated scramble.  But Le Breton's serving
was his great point; a lightning stroke that gave no hint as to where
the ball would land; sometimes it was just over the net; sometimes just
within the furthermost limits of the court.

Cameron was beaten; a beating he took with a boyish smile, as he
congratulated the winner.

Others crowded round Le Breton, anxious to add their quota to the
praise.

When the crowd dispersed Pansy approached him, as he stood cool and
dignified, despite the strenuous game.

"You never told me you could play tennis," she remarked.

"There are lots of things about myself I haven't told you," he replied
drily.

"What are they?" she asked.  "You mustn't rouse my curiosity and then
not satisfy it."

"You needn't worry.  I shall tell you some day," he answered.

As Pansy talked to him she played battledore and shuttlecock with her
racket and ball.

"When will that day be?" she asked.  "The sooner, the better.  It's bad
for my health to be kept in a state of inquisitive suspense."

"The sooner the better will suit me admirably," he said.  "For I shall
tell you when we are--married."

Pansy just stared at him.

"Then I shall never hear," she said, when she had recovered her breath.
"For I shall never get married.  Never.  At least, not before I'm
forty."

There was a brief pause.

"Why are you avoiding me?" he asked presently.

"What a stupid thing to say!  Aren't I here talking to you now?"

"With a whole crowd of people round, yes."

She tapped the tennis ball from her racket to his chest, hitting it
back and back again, as if he were a wall.  For some minutes Le Breton
watched her in an amused manner, as if she were something so favoured
that she could do what she liked with him.  Then he caught the ball and
stopped the game.

"I've a challenge for you, too, Pansy," he said.  "Will you meet me
to-night, after dinner, near the fountain?"

"It wouldn't require a great amount of courage to do that."

"Will you come then?"

"You said I wasn't to wander about in the grounds alone at night."

"I'll come for you then, since you're so anxious to comply with my
desires."

"'Comply with my desires,'" she repeated mockingly.  "That's a nice
useful phrase to hurl about."

There was an air of unusual and unaccustomed patience about Le Breton,
as he argued with his moonbeam.  Curious glances were cast in the
direction of the couple.  Miss Langham had never been seen to favour a
man as she was favouring the French millionaire.

"Birds of a feather," someone remarked.

With some surprise young Cameron watched her.  Another watched her too.
The red-faced, fishy-eyed man from whose undesired attentions Le Breton
had rescued her a few nights before.

"If you don't come I shall know what to think," Le Breton said.  "That
you dare not."

A suspicion of a blush deepened the pink in the girl's cheeks.

"And if I do come, what shall you think then?" she asked him with a
nonchalant air.

"It'll be quite time enough to tell you when that comes to pass," he
answered.

Pansy had no intention that it should come to pass.  Raoul Le Breton
might keep the tryst if he liked, but she would not be there.

Not if she could help it--a little voice within her added.



CHAPTER XIII

When night came Pansy tried not to think of Le Breton, but the idea of
him out there in the moonlight haunted her.  She wondered how long he
would wait; patience did not look to be one of his virtues.

There was a dance at the hotel again that evening.  As she whirled
round and round, slim and light, looking in her chiffon and diamonds a
creature of mist and dew, her thoughts were with none of her partners.
They were out in the garden with the big, masterful man who was so
different from all others of his sex who had come into her life.

By midnight the gaieties were over.  Pansy went up to her room.  But
she did not go to bed.  Dismissing her maid, she went out on the
balcony, and stood there watching the sea, as she had watched it barely
a week before, when Le Breton had come into her life.

The world was as white and peaceful as then; the sea a stretch of
murmurous silver; the garden vaguely sighing; the little, moist, cool
puffs of wind ladened with the scent of roses and the fragrance of
foreign flowers.

As she watched the scene, an overpowering desire to go and see if Le
Breton were still there seized her; a desire that rapidly became an
obsession.

Of course he would not stay from nine o'clock until after midnight!

For all that Pansy felt she must go.  That she must linger for a moment
in the spot where he had lingered.

She turned quickly into her room; then out into the corridor; down the
stairs and on towards a door that led out into the grounds.

Once there, the moonlight drew her on towards the fountain.

On reaching the trysting-place there was no sign of anybody there.

With a feeling of intense disappointment Pansy turned towards the
sea-wall, and stood there with the soft light shimmering on her, her
face wistful as she watched the molten sea.

Now that she had come, to find Le Breton gone hurt her.

If he really liked her, he would have stayed all night on the chance of
her coming.  She would, if she were really fond of anybody.

A tear came and sparkled on her long, dark lashes.

He could not love her very much, or he would not have left.

A slight movement in the shadows behind made her face round quickly,
her heart giving a sudden bound.

"Well, Pansy," the voice she knew so well said in a caressing tone.

She laughed tremulously.

"I thought you'd gone hours ago," she said.

Le Breton came to her side, a mocking look in his dark, smouldering
eyes as he watched her.

"There are two things a man will always wait for if they cut deeply
enough," he replied.  "Love and revenge."

"How dramatic you sound!  Which has kept you on the prowl to-night?"
she asked lightly, edging away from him.

But his arm went round her quickly, and she was drawn back to his side.

"No, my little girl, not this time," he whispered.

She tried to free herself from his embrace.

"I didn't mean to come.  I really didn't," she said breathlessly.

He laughed in a tender, masterful fashion.

"Possibly not, but since you're here I intend that you shall stay."

"No, no," she said quickly.  "Let me go."

Pansy struggled after a liberty that she saw rapidly vanishing.  But he
just held her, firmly, strongly, watching her with an amused air.

"I shall spoil my dress if I have to wrestle with you like this," she
panted presently.

"Don't wrestle then," he said coolly.  "Stay where you are, little
moonbeam, and no harm will come to the dress."

It was fatal to be in his arms again.  She stopped struggling and
stayed passive within his embrace.

With easy strength Le Breton lifted her.  Going to a bench, he sat down
with her on his knee.

"Why did you run away from me the other night?" he asked.

A slim finger played rather nervously with a black pearl stud in the
front of his dress shirt.

"I don't know," she said, her eyes avoiding his.

Then she laughed.

"Oh, yes, I do," she went on.  "Because I couldn't do as I liked if I
stayed with you."

"I could never be a hard taskmaster.  Not with you," he said softly.

"Are you with some people?" she asked.

Le Breton thought of the desert kingdom he ruled alone, and he laughed.
Then he kissed the little mouth so temptingly close to his own; a long,
passionate caress that seemed to take all strength from the girl.  Her
head fell on his shoulder, and she lay limp within his arms, watching
him in a vague, dreamy manner.

For a time there was silence.  Le Breton sat with her pressed against
his heart, as if to have her there were all-sufficient.

"I feel like Jonah," Pansy said presently.  "All swallowed up.  There
seems to be nothing in the whole wide world now but you."

With a loving hand he caressed her silky curls.

"And I, Heart's Ease, want nothing but you, henceforth and forever."

Pansy snuggled closer to him.

"To think I'm sitting here on your knee," she whispered.  "A week ago I
didn't know there was any you.  And now I only know your name and----"

She broke off, a blush deepening the roses on her cheeks.

"And what, my darling?" he asked tenderly.

"Put your ear quite close.  It's not a matter that can be shouted from
the house-tops."

He bent his proud head down, close to the girl's lips.

"And that I love you," she whispered.

Then she kissed the ear the confession had been made into.

"And that you will marry me," he added.

"Perhaps, some day, twenty years hence," she said airily.  "When I've
had my fling."

Le Breton had never had to wait for any woman he fancied, and he had no
intention of waiting now.

"No, Pansy, you must marry me now, at once," he said firmly.

"What a hustler you are, Raoul.  You must have American blood in you."

She said his name as if she loved it: on her lips it was a caress.

With a touch of savagery his arms tightened round the girl.  Even with
her in his embrace he guessed that if she knew of the Sultan Casim
Ammeh there would be no chance for him.  His dark blood would be an
efficient barrier; one she would never cross willingly.

"Say you will marry me next week, my little English flower," he said in
a fierce, insistent tone.

"I couldn't dream of getting married for ages and ages."

He held her closer, kissing the vivid lips that refused him.

"Say next week, my darling," he whispered passionately.  "I shall keep
you here until you say next week."

Pansy looked at him with love and teasing in her eyes.  "It's midnight
now, or perhaps it's one, or even two in the morning.  Time flies so
when I'm with you.  But at six o'clock the gardeners will be here with
rakes and brooms, and they'll scratch and sweep us out of our corner.
Six hours at most you can keep me, but the gardeners won't let you keep
me longer than that.  Good-night, Raoul, I'll go to sleep in the
meantime."

In a pretence of slumber Pansy closed her eyes.

With a tender smile he watched the little face that looked so
peacefully asleep on his shoulder.

"Wake up, my flower, and say things are to be as I wish," he said
presently.

One eye opened and looked at him full of love and mischief.

"In ten years' time then, Raoul.  That's a great concession."

"In a fortnight.  That would seem eternity enough," he replied.

"Well, five years then," Pansy answered, suddenly wide awake.  "I could
see and do a lot in five years, if I worked hard at it.  Especially
with the thought of you looming ominously in the background."

"In three weeks, little girl.  I've been waiting for you all my life."

Pansy stroked his face with a mocking, caressing hand.

"Poor boy, you don't look like a waiter."

He took the small, teasing hand into his own.

"Never mind what I look like just now," he said.  "Say in three weeks'
time, my darling."

"Two years.  Give me two years to get used to the cramped idea of
matrimony."

"A month.  Not a day longer, Heart's Ease, unless you want to drive me
quite mad," he said, a note of desperate entreaty in his voice.

Suddenly Pansy could not meet the eyes that watched her with such love
and passion in their smouldering depths.

This big, dark man who had come into her life so strangely, seemed to
leave her nothing but a desire for himself.  At that moment she could
refuse him nothing.

"In a month then, Raoul.  But it's very weak-minded of me giving in to
you this way."

He laughed in a tender and triumphant manner.

"My darling, I promise you'll never regret it," he said, a slight catch
in his strong voice.

Then he sat on, with Pansy pressed close against him.  And the latent
searching look had gone from his eyes, as if the girl lying on his
heart had brought him ease and peace.

And Pansy was content to stay.

Just then it was sufficient to be with him; to feel the tender strength
of his arms; to listen to the music of his deep, caressing voice; to
have his long, passionate kisses.  Nothing else mattered.  Even liberty
was forgotten.



CHAPTER XIV

The next morning the sun streaming into Pansy's bedroom roused her.
She awoke with the feeling of having indulged in some delightful dream,
which, like all dreams, must melt with the morning.

She thought of the episode with Le Breton in the garden.  A gentle look
lingered on her face.  He was a darling, the nicest man she had ever
met; the only one she had ever liked enough to let kiss her; the only
one in whose arms she had been content to stay.  But about marrying?

A frown came and rested on her white brow.

Marrying was quite another matter.  In a month's time, _impossible_.  A
thing not to be contemplated.

Pansy sat up suddenly, hugging her knees as she gazed thoughtfully at
the brilliant expanse of dancing, shimmering sea that sparkled at her
through the open bedroom window.

She, engaged to be married!  She who had vowed never to fall in love
until forty!

It was love Pansy had wanted in the moonlit garden with Le Breton's
arms about her.  But it was liberty she wanted now, as she sat hugging
her knees, amazed at herself and her own behaviour.

She had bartered her liberty for a man's arms and a few kisses!

Pansy could hardly believe herself capable of such folly.

She had been swept off her feet--over her depth before she knew it.

By daylight her freedom and independence were as sweet to her as Le
Breton's love had been by the romantic light of the moon.  In the sober
light of morning she tried to struggle back to where she had been
before the hot flood of love he had poured over her had made her
promise more than she was now prepared to fulfill.

"It's a woman's privilege to change her mind."

Pansy grasped at the old adage; but to her a promise was a promise, not
lightly given or lightly snatched away.  So she did not derive much
comfort from dwelling on the old saw.

She was sitting up in bed, hugging her knees and frowning in dire
perplexity when her maid came in with the early morning tea.  And the
frown was there when the woman came to say her bath was ready.

A thoughtful mood enveloped her during her dressing.  And out of her
musing this note was born:--


"My Dearest Raoul,

I can call you that because you are dearer to me than any one on this
earth, dearest beyond all things except my liberty.  Do not be horrid
and cross when I say I cannot marry you, in spite of all I promised
last night.  Not for ten years at least.  And even then I cannot bind
myself in any way, for I might be still hankering after freedom.  I do
love you really, more than anything in the whole wide world except my
independence.

You must not be too hard on me, Raoul.  I am not quite the same as
other women.  It is not every girl of twenty who is her own mistress,
with £60,000 a year to do what she likes with.  It has made life seem
so vast, matrimony such a cramped, everyday affair.  And I do not want
to handicap myself in any way.

This letter sounds awfully selfish, I know.  I am not selfish really.
Only I love my liberty.  It is the one thing that is dearer to me than
you.

Always your loving
  PANSY."


When the letter was written, Pansy suddenly remembered she did not know
his address.

Once satisfied that he was disinterested, she had bothered about
nothing else.  And after that one day spent among the red roses he had
become something quite apart from the rest of the world, not to be
gossiped about to mere people.

However, she knew that twenty pesetas given to the hall-porter would
ensure the note reaching its destination.  The hotel staff would know
where he was staying, even if she did not.

Because the note was to Le Breton, Pansy took it down herself and gave
it to the hall-porter.  When this was done she wandered as far as the
spot where she had made her fleeting vows, to see how it looked by
daylight.

She lingered there for some minutes, and then returned to her suite.

In the interval a message had come from Le Breton.

It stood on one of the little tables of her sitting-room--a huge gilded
wicker basket full of half-blown, red roses.  In the midst of the
flowers a packet reposed, tied with red ribbon.

Pansy opened the package.

Inside was the gold casket she had once refused.  It was filled with
purple pansies, still wet with dew.  On them a ring reposed, with one
huge sapphire, deeply blue as her own eyes.

There was a note in with the flowers, written in a strong masculine
hand.

With a flutter about her heart, Pansy picked it out and read it:--


"Heart's Ease, My Own Dear Little Girl,

This little gift comes to you with all my love, my heart, my soul, my
very life indeed, given forever into your keeping.

A week ago, if anyone had told me I should write such words to a woman,
I should have laughed at them.  Until meeting you I did not know what
love was.  I had no idea one woman could be so satisfying.  In you I
have found the heaven I have been searching for all my life.  My one
houri, and she all-sufficing--my little English flower, so sweet and
winsome, so kind and wayward, so teasing and yet so tender, who has
brought a new fragrance into my life, a peace my soul has never known
till now, a love and gratitude into my heart that will keep me hers for
ever.

Your devoted lover now and through all eternity.
  RAOUL LE BRETON."


As Pansy read the note her lips trembled.

She wished she had never tasted of the sweets of liberty and
independence; that the grand-godfather had not left her his millions.
She wished she was Pansy Barclay again, a mere girl, not one with
enormous riches luring her towards all sorts of goals where love was
not.  Just Pansy Barclay, who could have met his love with kisses and
not a cruel counter note.



CHAPTER XV

Considering it was nearly two in the morning before Le Breton would let
Pansy out of his arms, he did not expect her to be out and about at six
o'clock for her usual ride.  Nevertheless, he looked in at the hotel at
that hour and then rode on, indulging in blissful daydreams.

He knew Pansy had no idea who he really was.  He was prepared to marry
her according to her creed, for her sake to put aside the fierce
profligate religion the late Sultan Casim Ammeh had instilled into him.

And he was prepared to do very much more than this.

In spite of his colossal pride in his sultanship and his desert
kingdom, he knew that if Pansy got an inkling of that side of his life
his case would be hopeless.  His one idea was to keep all knowledge of
the supposed Arab strain in him from her.  The sultanship could go, his
kingdom be but a source of income.  He would buy a house in Paris.
They would settle down there, and he would become wholly the European
she imagined him to be.

Full of a future that held nothing but the English girl to whom; he was
betrothed, and a desire to keep from her all knowledge of his dark,
savage heritage, at least until it would be too late for her to draw
back, Le Breton rode on, rejoicing in the early morning freshness that
reminded him of the girl he loved.

On returning to the villa he interviewed the head gardener.  Then he
went to the library to write a note and tie up the package he was
sending to Pansy; and from there down to breakfast, a solitary meal
with no companion save a few purple pansies smiling at him from a
crystal vase.

As he sat at his light repast one of his Arab servants entered with a
note on a beaten-gold salver.

Le Breton took it.

On the envelope was just his name, written in a pretty, girlish hand.
Although he had never seen Pansy's writing before, he guessed it was
hers.  A tender smile hovered about his hard mouth as he opened it.

What had she to say to him, this slim, winsome girl, who held his
fierce heart in her small white hands?  Some fond reply, no doubt, in
return for his gifts and flowers.  Thanks and words of love that she
could not keep until he went round to see her.

There were many things Le Breton expected of Pansy, but certainly not
the news the note contained.

He read it through, unable to believe what he saw written before him.
And as he read his face lost all its tender, caressing look and took
on, instead, a savage, incredulous expression.

Women had always come to him easily, as easily as Pansy herself had
come.  But they had not withdrawn themselves again: he had done the
withdrawing.

For some moments he just stared at the note.

He, flouted and scorned and played with by a girl!  He, to whom all
women were but toys!  He, the Sultan of El-Ammeh!

Le Breton was like one plunged suddenly into an icy cold bath.

The unexpectedness of it all left him numb.  Then a surge of hot rage
went through him, finally leaving him cold, collected, and furious.

She had dared to scorn him, this English girl!  Dared to hurl his love
and protestations back into his teeth.  Protestations such as he had
made to no other woman.

It was the greatest shock and surprise Le Breton had had during the
course of his wild life of unquestioned power and limitless money.

He was in no mood to see the love her note breathed.  He saw only one
fact--that he had been cast aside.

A woman had dared to act towards him as he had often acted towards
women.

As he brooded on the note, trying to grasp the almost incredible truth,
the cruel look about his mouth deepened.

Putting the note into his pocket, he poured himself another cup of
coffee.  Then he sat on, staring at the purple pansies, no longer lost
in dreams of love and delight, where his one aim was to be all the girl
imagined him to be; but in a savage reverie that had love in it,
perhaps, but of quite another quality than that which he had already
offered.

Full of anger and injured pride as Le Breton was, it did not prevent
him going over to the hotel and inquiring for Miss Langham.

He learnt that she was out, on board her yacht.  And it seemed to him
that she had fled from his wrath.

But he was wrong.

Pansy had gone there knowing he would be sure to come and inquire into
the meaning of her note.  On board her yacht there was more privacy; a
privacy she wanted for Le Breton's sake, not her own.  Considering his
fiery Latin temperament, he might not take his _congé_ in the manner of
her more stolid nation.  There might be a scene.

She never imagined he would take her decree calmly.  There was an air
about him as if he had never been thwarted in any way.  She was
prepared for some unpleasant minutes--minutes, nevertheless, that she
had no intention of shirking, which she knew she had brought upon
herself by her impetuous promises.

She was sitting alone in her own special sanctum on the yacht.

It was a large saloon--boudoir, music-room, and study combined; white
and gold and purple, like herself, with a grand piano in one corner,
deep chairs upholstered in yellow with purple cushions, a yellow carpet
and white walls and ceiling.

In the midst of it she sat cool and collected, in a simple white
yachting suit.

As Le Breton entered she rose, scanning him quickly.  She had never
seen him so proud and aloof-looking, his face so set and hard.  But
there was a look of suppressed suffering in his eyes that cut her to
the quick.

Neither said a word until the door closed behind the steward.

Then Le Breton crossed to the girl's side.

"What nonsense is this?" he asked in a cold, angry voice, holding her
note towards her.  "You promised to marry me, and you must carry out
your promise.  I'm not going to be put lightly to one side in this
manner."

"I haven't put you lightly to one side," she answered.  "I think I
explained exactly how things were in my note."

"Explanations!  I'm not here for explanations," he said, with cold
impatience; "but to insist that you fulfill your promise."

"I couldn't do that," she replied quietly.

With the air of still moving in the midst of some incredible truth, he
stared at her.

"You've been flirting with me," he said presently, a note of savagery
and scorn in his voice.  "You are a true English _demievierge_.  You
rouse a man without the least intention of satisfying him."

Pansy flushed under his contempt.  She hated being called "a flirt";
she was not one.  She did not know why she had acted as she had done
the previous night.  But once in his arms, she had wanted to stay.  And
once he had started talking of love, she wanted to listen.  With him
she had forgotten all about her own scheme of life and her cherished
liberty.

She knew she had not played the game with Le Breton.  From the bottom
of her heart she was sorry.  She did not blame him, but herself.

"I'm not a flirt," she said quietly.  "I've never let any man kiss me
before.  I'm very sorry for all that happened last night."

He laughed in a harsh, grating manner.

"Good God, Pansy! there are a hundred women and more plotting and
scheming to try and make me feel for them what I feel for you.  And you
say you're sorry!"

He broke off, his proud face twisted with pain and chagrin.

Pansy knew his was no idle boast.  An army of women must lie in wait
for a man of his wealth combined with good looks and such powers of
fascination.

"I'm only sorry you picked on me," she said, a note of distress in her
voice.  "More sorry than I can say.  You know I hate giving pain."

Like one dazed, the Sultan Casim Ammeh listened to a woman saying she
was sorry he had favoured her as he had no other of her sex--To an
extent he had never imagined he would favour any woman, so that he was
ready to change his religion, his whole mode of life, for her sake.

"But I couldn't give up my liberty," her voice was saying.  "I couldn't
get married.  And I've a perfect right to change my mind."

"It's not a privilege I intend to allow you," he said in a strangled
voice.

"Well, it's one I intend to assert," she answered, suddenly goaded by
his imperious attitude.

"You've deliberately fooled me," he said savagely.

"No, I haven't really," she replied, patient again under the pain in
the fierce, restless eyes watching her.  "I like you immensely, but not
enough to marry you."

"I suppose I ought to feel flattered," he said cuttingly.

Pansy laid a hand on his sleeve with a little soothing, conciliatory
gesture.

"Don't be so horrid, Raoul.  Do try and see things as I see them.  I
didn't mean to say 'yes' last night; but when you held me in your arms
and kissed me there was nothing else I could do."

His name on her lips, her touch on his arm, broke through his seethe of
cold anger.

"And if I held and kissed you again, what then?" he asked, suddenly
melting.

"Here in the 'garish light of day' it wouldn't alter my intention in
the least," she said.  "There are so many things that call me in the
daytime.  But last night, Raoul, there was only you."

He bent over her, dark and handsome, looking the king the Sultan Casim
Ammeh had made him.

"Give me the nights, Pansy," he whispered, "and the days I'll leave to
you."

"Oh no, I couldn't.  Before so long you'd have swallowed up my days
too.  For there's an air about you as if you wouldn't be satisfied
until you had the whole of me.  But I shall often think of last night,"
she went on, a touch of longing in her voice.  "In days to come, when
we're thousands of miles apart, in the midst of my schemes, when the
lights are brightest and the bands their loudest and the fun at its
highest, I shall stop all at once with a little pain in my heart and
wonder where the nice man is who kissed me under the palms in the Grand
Canary.  And I shall say to myself, 'Now, if I'd been a marrying sort,
I'd have married him.'  And twenty years hence, when pleasure palls, I
shall wish I had married him; because there'll never be any man I shall
like half as much as I like you."

As she talked Le Breton watched her, wild schemes budding and
blossoming in his head.

"And I?  What shall I be thinking?" he asked.

"You!  Oh, you'll have forgotten all about me by next year--Perhaps
next month, even," she replied, smiling at him rather sadly.  "One girl
is much the same to you as the next, provided she's equally pretty.
And you'll be thinking, 'What an idiotic fuss I made over that girl I
met in Grand Canary.  Let me see, what _was_ her name?  Violet or
Daisy, or some stupid flower name.  Who said yes in the moonlight, and
no in the cool, calm light of day.  Good Lord! but for her sense I
should be married now.  Married!  Phew, what an escape!  For if she'd
roped me in there'd have been no gallivanting with other women'!"

Le Breton laughed.

"Now I'm forgiven," she said quickly.

"Forgiven, Heart's Ease, yes.  But whilst there's life in me you'll
never be forgotten."

He paused, looking at her speculatively.

"So far as I see, there's nothing between us except that you're too
fond of your own way to get married," he remarked presently.

"Yes.  I suppose that's it really."

"'If I were a king in Babylon and you were a Christian slave,'" he
quoted, "or, to get down to more modern times, if I were a barbaric
Sultan somewhere in Africa and you a girl I'd fancied and caught and
carried off, I'd just take you into my harem and nothing more would be
said."

"I should fight like a wildcat.  You'd get horribly scratched and
bitten."

"Possibly, but--I should win in the end."

Pansy's face went suddenly crimson under the glowing eyes that watched
her with such love and desire in their dark depths.

"I think we're talking a lot of nonsense," she remarked.

"What is it you English say?  'There's many a true word spoken in
jest,'" he replied with curious emphasis.

It was not jest to him.

Even as he stood talking to Pansy he was cogitating on how he could
best get her into his power, should persuasion fail to bring her back
to his arms within a week or two.

His yacht was in the harbour.  She was in the habit of wandering about
alone.  He had half a dozen Arab servants with him, men who would do
without question anything their Sultan told them.  To abduct her would
be an easy matter.  Once she was in his power, he would take her to
El-Ammeh and keep her there.  As his wife, if she would marry him; as
his slave, if she would not.

Le Breton had no desire to do any such thing except as a last resource,
but he had no intention of letting Pansy go.

Her voice broke into his broodings.

"Since you've been so nice about everything, I'm going to keep you and
take you for a cruise round the island.  I want to have just one day
alone with you, so that in years to come I shall know exactly how much
I've missed."

He smiled in a slightly savage manner.  It amused him to hear the girl
talking as if he were but a pleasant incident in her life, when he
intended to be the biggest fact that had ever been there.

"In your way of doing things, Pansy, you remind me rather of myself,"
he remarked.  "You're carrying me off, willy nilly, as I might be
tempted to carry you."

"It must be because we're both millionaires," she replied.  "Little
facts of the sort are apt to make one a trifle high-handed."

She touched a bell.

When a steward appeared she put Le Breton into his care.  Leaving the
saloon, she went herself to interview the captain about her plans.

She was leaning against the yacht's rail, slim and white, with the
breeze blowing her curls when Le Breton joined her.  And she smiled at
him in a frank, boyish fashion, as if their little difference of
opinion had never been.

"What can I do to amuse you?" she asked.

"I don't need any amusing when I'm with you," he said.  "You're
all-sufficing."

"You mustn't say things like that, Raoul," she replied; "they're apt to
make one's decisions wobble."

For Pansy the morning sped quickly.  For Le Breton it was part of the
dream he had dreamt before her note had come and upset his
calculations, making him rearrange his plans in a manner that, although
it would give him a certain amount of satisfaction, might not be so
pleasing to the girl.

The vessel skirted the rounded island, bringing glimpses of quiet bays
where white houses nestled, rocky cliffs, stony barrancos cut deep into
the hill-side, and pine-clad heights.

There was a lunch _à deux_, with attentive stewards hovering in the
background.  Afterwards they had coffee and liqueurs and cigarettes on
deck.  An hour or so was dawdled away there, then Pansy took her guest
back to her own special sanctum.

He went over to the piano, touching a note here and there.

"Play me something," she said, for he touched the instrument with the
hand of a music lover.

"I was brought up in the backwoods," he replied, "and I never saw a
piano until I was nearly nineteen.  After that I was too busy making
money and doing what I thought was enjoying myself to have time to go
in for anything of the sort.  But I'd like to listen to you," he
finished.

Willingly Pansy seated herself at the piano.  Le Breton likewise sat
himself in a deep chair close by, and gave himself up to the delight of
her playing.  She wandered from one song to another, quick to see she
had an appreciative audience.

In the end she paused and glanced at him as he sat quiet, all his
restless look gone, as if at peace with himself and the world.

"Does music 'soothe your savage breast'?" she asked.

"It could never be savage where you're concerned, Pansy,"

"You talk as if I were quite different from other people."

"So you are.  The only woman I've ever loved."

"When you talk like that, the wobbling comes on," she remarked.

To avoid his reply, she started playing again.

Getting to his feet, Le Breton went to the piano.  Standing behind her,
his arms encircling her, he lifted the small, music-making hands from
the keys, and holding them, drew her back until her head rested against
him.

"Pansy, suppose I consent to a six months' engagement?  The waiting
would be purgatory; but I could do it with paradise beyond."

"I'm not taking on any engagements.  Not for the next ten years, at
least."

He laughed softly and put the slim hands back on the piano with a
lingering, careful touch, letting them pursue their way.  Whether she
liked it or not, this lovely, wayward girl would be his before many
weeks had passed.

Then he returned to his chair and sat there deep in some reverie, this
time not planning the sort of home he would make for her in Paris, but
how he would have certain rooms in his palace at El-Ammeh furnished for
her reception.

A steward announcing tea brought him out of his meditations.

Tea was served on deck, with the sun glinting on the blue water and
running in golden cascades down the hill-side.

Together they watched the sun set and saw night barely shadow the world
when the moon rose, filling the scene with silver glory.

Its white light led them back into harbour, and in its flood the two
walked to the hotel together.

In the garden Le Breton paused to take leave of his hostess.

"Just one kiss, Heart's Ease, for the sake of last night," he whispered.

Willingly Pansy lifted her flower-like face to his.

"Just one then, Raoul, you darling, since you've been so nice about
everything."

As Le Breton stooped to kiss her it seemed to him that he would not
have to resort to force in order to get the girl.  Only a little
patience and persuasion were needed, and he would win her in her own,
white, English way.



CHAPTER XVI

Along the deserted corridor of the big hotel Pansy was hurrying.  Her
outing with Le Breton had made her late.  By the time she was dressed
and ready dinner was well started.  She went along quickly, still
thinking over the events of the day.

Everything had turned out exactly as she had hoped.  She wanted to keep
Le Breton's love, and yet not be tied in any way--to have him in the
background to marry if, or when, she felt so disposed.

In the full glare of the electric light, going down the wide stairs,
she entered the large patio, looking a picture.

She was wearing a dress of some yellow, gauzy material that matched her
hair, a garment that clung around her like a sunbeam, bright and
shimmering.  There were gold shoes on her feet, and around her neck a
long chain of yellow amber beads.

As she crossed the big, empty hall, making towards the dining-room, a
man rose from his chair--the short, red-faced man from whom Le Breton
had rescued her a few nights before.

There was an air about him as if he had been waiting there to waylay
her.

Pansy saw him and she swerved slightly, but beyond that she gave him no
attention.

However, he was not so easily avoided.

He took up his stand immediately before her, leering at her in a
malicious, disagreeable fashion.

"You're fond of chucking red-haired women in my teeth," he said.  "Go
and chuck 'em at the fellow you were spooning with outside just now."

Annoyed that the man should have witnessed her parting with Le Breton,
Pansy would have passed without a word; but he dodged, and was in front
of her again.

"At least, she isn't my fancy woman," he went on.  "I don't run a villa
for her, even if I do admire her looks."

The weight of insinuation in his voice brought the girl to a halt.

"What is it?  What do you want to say?" she asked coldly.

"You mean to tell me you don't know Le Breton runs that French actress,
Lucille Lemesurier?"

Pansy did not know.  Nor did she believe a word the man said.

"How dare you say such things about Mr. Le Breton?" she flashed.

"Hoity-toity!  How dare I indeed!"

He laughed coarsely.

"It isn't only me that's talking about it.  Everybody knows," he went
on.

Everybody did _not_ know.  Pansy among the number.

"I don't believe a word you say," she said in an angry manner.

"Don't you?  All right.  Trot along then, and ask the manager.  Ask
anybody.  They're all talking about it.  You would be, too, except that
you're so conceited that you never come and gossip with the crowd.  Ask
who is running that villa for Lucille Lemesurier, and they'll tell you
it's that high and mighty French millionaire chap, Le Breton, the same
as I do."

For a moment Pansy just stared at him, horror and disbelief on her
face; then she turned quickly away.  She did not go towards the
dining-room, but towards the main entrance of the hotel.

She had never troubled to make any inquiries about Le Breton.  She had
liked him, and that was enough.

Pansy could not believe what the man said.

For all that, she was going to the fountain-head--to Le Breton--to hear
what he had to say on the subject.



CHAPTER XVII

A flood of light poured out from Le Breton's villa, from wide-open
French windows on to a moonlit lawn.  Around the house, palms drooped
and bamboos whispered.  The night was laden with the scent of roses and
syringa, and about the fragrant shrubs fireflies glinted like showers
of silver sparks.

In one of the apartments opening on the lawn Le Breton sat at dinner
with Lucille, over a little round table, sparkling with crystal and
gold, where pink-shaded electric lights glowed among banks of flowers.

It was a large room, lavishly furnished, with priceless rugs, and
furniture that might have come out of some Paris museum.  There were
three Arab servants in attendance, deft-handed, silent men, well
trained, and observant, who waited upon their master as if their lives
held nothing but his wishes and desires.

Opposite to him Lucille sat, in a white satin gown that left none of
her charms to the imagination, with the emerald necklace flashing
against her dead-white skin.

She was talking in a soft, languid voice, sometimes witty, often
suggestive, but never at a loss for a subject, as women do talk who are
paid well to interest and amuse their masters.

Le Breton did not look either particularly interested or amused.  In
fact, he looked bored and indifferent, answering her in monosyllables,
as if her perpetual chatter interrupted some pleasant reverie of his
own.

As he sat, intent on his own thoughts, one of the servants came to his
side.  Stooping, he said in a deferential voice in Arabic:

"There is the English lady your Highness deigned to breakfast with in
the orange groves of Telde."

Le Breton started.  He glanced round, his gaze following the Arab's to
one of the wide French windows opening on the lawn.

Standing there, light and slight, a graceful, golden reed, was the girl
who was now all the world to him.

But Pansy was not looking in his direction, but at Lucille, as if she
could not believe what she saw before her.

The sight brought Le Breton quickly to his feet.

"Pansy!" he exclaimed.

His voice and action made Lucille glance towards the window.

She looked at the girl standing there; then she smiled lazily, a trifle
maliciously.

Lucille saw before her the rival she had suspected, who had changed Le
Breton's lukewarm liking into cutting indifference.  With the
perception of her kind she realised that Pansy was something quite
different from herself and the women Le Breton usually amused himself
with.  That slim girl with her wide, purple eyes and vivid, flower-like
face was no courtesan, no toy; but a woman with a spirit and a soul
that could hold and draw a man, apart from her physical attractions;
the sort of woman, in fact, that a man like Raoul Le Breton might be
tempted to marry.

At sound of his voice Pansy came into the room, her eyes blazing, her
breast heaving, her two hands clutching the long amber chain in an
effort to keep herself calm and collected.

So it was true!  He was living here with that red-haired creature, this
man who had come to her vowing she was the only woman he had ever
loved!  This man whom she had kissed and whom she had allowed to kiss
and fondle her!

Pansy looked at Lucille in her white satin and emeralds--Lucille, big
and voluptuous, her profession written on her face.

"Who is that woman?" she demanded.

Lucille did not wait for Le Breton to answer.

One glance at him told her everything.  On his face were concern, love,
and annoyance; the look that comes to a man's face when the girl he
would make his wife and the woman who is his mistress by some
unfortunate circumstance chance to meet.

Her star, never particularly bright, had waned and set within a week,
all thanks to this slim girl in the yellow dress.  Any day she,
Lucille, might be shipped back to France, with only the emerald
necklace to soothe her sore heart.

As things were she could lose nothing, and she might have the pleasure
of parting Le Breton from the woman he really loved.  The girl looked
one who would countenance no backslidings.

Before he could say anything she said in a languid voice:

"My name is Lucille Lemesurier.  I'm an actress.  At Mr. Le Breton's
invitation I came here with him from Paris, to stay until he tires of
me or I of him.  _Comme vous voulez_," she finished, with a shrug.

For a moment Pansy just stared at the truth confronting her: the truth,
lazy, languid, and smiling, in white satin and emeralds.

There was a little noise, hard and sharp, like a shower of frozen tears
rattling down on the table.  The hands clinging to the string of amber
beads clung just a thought too hard, for the necklace snapped suddenly.
The beads poured down like tears--the tears Pansy herself was past
shedding.  The knowledge of Le Breton's treachery and deceit had turned
her into ice.

She cast one look at him of utter contempt and scorn.

Then, silently as she had come, she turned and went from the room.

She did not get far, however, before Le Breton was at her side.

Ignoring him, she hurried across the moonlit lawn, her only desire to
escape from his presence.

"Pansy----" he began.

Like a whirlwind she turned on him.  With a hand that shook with rage,
she pointed to the open dining-room window.

"Go!  Go back to that red-haired creature," she said in a voice that
trembled with anger.  "I never want to see or speak to you again.
Never!"

At her words Le Breton's hands clenched and his swarthy face went white.

"Do you think I'm going to be dismissed in this manner?" he asked in a
strangled voice.

Without a further word Pansy would have hurried on; but, before she
knew what was happening, he had taken her into his arms.

"How dare you touch me!  How dare you touch me!" she gasped, struggling
furiously after freedom, amazed at his audacity.

But he laughed and, crushing her against him, kissed her fiercely.

Le Breton knew his case was hopeless.  No amount of persuasion would
bring the girl back to his arms.  He was no longer a polished man of
the world, but the Sultan of El-Ammeh, a barbaric ruler who knew no law
save his own desire.

Pansy was too furious to be afraid.  With all her might she struggled
to get away from his arms and the deluge of hot, passionate kisses, not
because of the danger oozing from the man, but because she knew he had
held and kissed that other woman.

But all her struggles were in vain.  She was helpless against his
strength; crushed within his arms; almost breathless under the force
and passion of the kisses she could not escape from.

"If you go on behaving in this brutal manner I shall scream," she
panted presently.

Her words sobered him.

The road lay not twenty yards away, and her screams might bring a dozen
people to her rescue.  He remembered that he was in Grand Canary, where
even _he_ had to conform with rules, not in El-Ammeh, where none would
dare question his doings.

He let Pansy out of his arms.

"Look what a state you've put me in!" she flashed the moment she was
free, as she endeavoured to tidy her torn and crumpled dress with hands
that shook with anger.  "You're a brute.  A savage.  I hate you!" she
finished.

But Le Breton just stood and laughed.

To-night she might go; but to-morrow----!

To-morrow she would be on his yacht, where she might scream to her
heart's content without a soul coming to her rescue.

His laughter, fierce and fond, followed Pansy from the garden.



CHAPTER XVIII

The hotel patio was full of people just out from dinner.  In the midst
of a crowd of acquaintances Captain Cameron stood, laughing and talking
with those around him.

All at once a voice at his elbow said tensely:

"Bob, I want to speak to you alone for a moment."

He turned quickly.  Then he stood surveying the speaker with surprise,
for the girl beside him looked very different from the Pansy he knew.
There was an almost tortured air about her.  Her face was set and
white; there were deep, dark rings under eyes that were limpid pools of
pain.

"Hello, old pal, what has happened?" he asked, with concern.

Pansy did not stop to answer him.  With impatient hands she led him
away from the crowd of listening, staring people into a quiet corner.

"I'm going back to England at once.  To-night!  Help me to get off,
please," she said.

With blank amazement Cameron stared at her.

"What's got hold of you now?" he managed to ask.

"I'm going home," she said, "at once."

"But I thought you were staying here until Sir George came out?"

"Well, I've changed my mind," she snapped.  "And I'm going back, even
if you aren't."

All Pansy wanted now was to get to the one other man she loved, her
father.  To get to him as quickly as possible with her bruised and
wounded heart.

"Of course I'll come with you, old girl," Cameron said, a trifle
helplessly.  "I wouldn't dream of leaving you in the lurch.  But you
have a way of springing surprises on people.  I'll send along and tell
the captain to get steam up."

"Yes, do, Bob, please," she said gratefully.  "And ask Miss Grainger to
see about the packing.  And find out where Jenkins is, and send him
along to the stables.  I--I'm past doing anything."

Cameron scanned the girl quickly, suddenly aware that something more
than a whim was at the bottom of her hurried departure.

"What is it, Pansy?" he asked.

"Nothing," she answered bravely.  "But I get moods when I just feel I
must see my old dad."

She turned away quickly to avoid any further questions, leaving Cameron
staring at her receding back.



CHAPTER XIX

The next morning Le Breton set about his scheme for trapping Pansy.

The task appeared easy.  He would get one of his men to note when she
left the hotel and mark which route she took.  There were not many
roads in the place, and it would not be difficult to guess where she
was going.  He and his men would follow, and waylay and capture her at
some lonely spot.  They would take her across the island to a little
port on the far side, where his yacht would be waiting.  Once he had
her safely on board, he would start for Africa.

As he sat at breakfast, savage and brooding, craving for the girl who
had flouted him, one of his servants entered.

"Well?" he asked, glaring at the man.

The Arab made a deep obeisance.

"Your Highness, the English lady has gone."

"Gone!" the Sultan repeated in an incredulous tone.  "Gone!  Where?"

"She left the island last night, in her yacht, about two hours after
she was here."

Like one thunderstruck, Le Breton stared at the Arab.  This unexpected
move of Pansy's had upset his calculations altogether.

Without a word he rose from the table.  There and then he went over to
the hotel to see the manager, his only idea to find out where the girl
had gone.  He could not believe that she had escaped him; yet the mere
thought that she might have done so filled him with a seething passion.

By the time he reached the hotel he had recovered himself in some
degree, sufficiently to inquire in a normal tone for the manager.

He was taken to the latter's office.

"You had an English lady staying here, a Miss Langham," Le Breton said
the moment he was ushered in.  "I wanted to see her rather
particularly, but I hear she has left.  Can you tell me where she's
gone?"

On seeing who the visitor was, the manager was anxious to give all
possible assistance, but he knew little more about Pansy than Le Breton
did.

"She left rather hurriedly," he said; "and, as far as I could gather,
she was going back to England."

"Do you know her address there?" Le Breton asked.

"No, I don't," the manager said regretfully.  "Miss Langham did not
talk much about herself."

This was all Le Breton was able to learn.  But he knew one thing--that
the girl his fierce heart hungered for had escaped him.

That morning his black horse had a hard time, for Le Breton rode like a
madman in a vain endeavour to get away from the whirl of wild love and
thwarted hopes that raged within him--the Sultan Casim Ammeh for the
first time deprived of the woman he wanted; wanted as he had never
wanted any other.

He went to the rose-wreathed summer-house where Pansy had been pleased
to linger with him; to the orange groves at Telde where they had
breakfasted together.  Night found him in the hotel gardens, near the
fountain where they had met and plighted their troth.

His hands clenched at the thought of all she had promised there.
Phantom-like, she haunted him.  Her ghost was in his arms, kissing and
teasing him, a recollection that was torture.  The one real love of his
life had proved but Dead Sea fruit.

He would have given his kingdom, all his riches, to have Pansy back in
his arms as he had had her that night, unresisting, watching him with
eyes full of love, wanting him as much as he had wanted her.  The one
woman who had ever scorned him!



CHAPTER XX

In his study Sir George Barclay sat alone.  Sixteen years had passed
since, in far-away Gambia, he had had to condemn to death the marauding
Arab chief.  In a few weeks' time he would be returning to the country,
not in any minor capacity, but as its Governor.

Although his thoughts just then were in Gambia, the incident of the
shooting of the Sultan Casim Ammeh had long since gone from his mind.
And he never gave a thought nowadays to the boy who, unavailingly, had
come to the Arab chief's rescue.  But he still carried the mark of the
youngster's sword upon his cheek.

The passing years had changed Barclay very little.  His hair was grey,
his face thinner, and a studious look now lurked in the grey eyes where
tragedy had once been.  For, in his profession, Barclay had found some
of the forgetfulness he had set out in search of.

As he sat at his desk the door opened suddenly.  The manner of opening
told him that the daughter he imagined to be a thousand or more miles
away was home again.  For no one, save this cherished legacy from his
lost love, would enter his study with such lack of ceremony.

He looked round quickly, as a slim girl in ermine and purple velvet
entered.

"Why, Pansy, my darling, I thought you were in Grand Canary," he said,
rising quickly to greet her.

"So I was, father, five days ago.  And then ... and then----!"

She paused, and laughing in a rather forced manner, kissed him
affectionately.

"Father, will you take me out to Gambia with you?" she finished.

There was very little George Barclay ever refused his daughter.  On
this occasion, he did make some sort of stand.

"Gambia is no place for you, my darling.  There's nothing there to
amuse and interest a young girl."

"Perhaps not," Pansy said as she took off her hat and gloves, watching
him with a rather set smile.  "But I don't care where I go so long as I
can be with you and get away from myself."

Her words made Barclay look at her sharply.

To want to get away from one's self was a feeling he could understand
and sympathise with, only too well.  But to hear such a sentiment on
his daughter's lips surprised and hurt him.

"My little girl, what has happened?" he asked gently.

Pansy laughed again, but there was a sharp catch of pain in her mirth.

"I think my heart is broken, that's all," she said with a would-be
casual air.

Barclay did not wait to hear any more at that moment.  He drew her down
on to a couch and sat there with his arm about her.

"My poor little girl," he whispered.  "Tell me all about it."

Pansy laid her head on his shoulder, and smiled at him with lips that
trembled woefully.

"It's nobody's fault but my own, Daddy," she said.  "I brought it on
myself with my silly, impetuous ways.  And it serves me right for
hankering after strange men, and not being content with my old father."

For all her light talk Barclay knew something serious had happened.  To
him his daughter was but a new edition of a well-read book; the girl
was her mother over again.

There was a brief pause as Sir George sat watching his child, stroking
her curls with a thin, affectionate hand, wondering what tragedy had
come into this bright, young life.

"Hearts are silly things, aren't they?" Pansy said suddenly.  "Soft,
flabby, squashy sort of things that get hurt easily if you don't keep a
sharp eye on them.  And I'd so many things to keep an eye on that I
forgot all about mine.  Hearts ought not to be left without protection.
They should have iron rails put round them to keep all trespassers off,
like the rails we put round the trees in the park to keep the cattle
from hurting them."

There was a further pause, and a little sniff.  Then Pansy said:

"Father, lend me your handkerchief, I know it's a nice big one.  I
believe I'm going to cry.  For the first time since it happened.  It
must be seeing you again.  And I shall cry a lot on your coat, and
perhaps spoil it.  But, since it's me, I know you won't mind."

Sir George drew out a handkerchief.

"I was walking along in heaven with my head up and my nose in the air,"
the sweet, hurt voice explained, "blissfully happy because he was
there.  There was a hole in the floor of heaven and I never saw it.
And I fell right through, crash, bang, right down to earth again.  A
rotten old earth with all the fun gone out of it.  And I'm awfully sore
and bruised, and the shock has injured my heart.  It has never been the
same since and will never be the same again, because ... because, I did
love him, awfully."

As she talked Sir George watched her with affection and concern, his
heart aching for this slim, beautiful daughter of his, to whom love had
come as a tragedy.

"Oh, Daddy," she said, tears choking her voice, "why is life so hard?"

Then the storm broke.

Sir George listened to her sobs, as with a gentle hand he stroked the
golden curls.  All the time he wondered who was responsible for her
tears, who had broken the heart of his cherished daughter.

He went over the multitude of men she knew.  But he never gave one
thought to the savage boy who, sixteen years before, had scarred his
face--the Sultan Casim Ammeh.



CHAPTER XXI

In a fashionable London hotel a little party of three sat at dinner.
The dining-room was a large place, full of well-dressed people.  It was
bright with electric light, and under a cover of greenery a band played
not too loudly.

Among the crowd of diners none seemed better known than the girl with
the short, golden curls who sat with the thin, studious-looking man and
the fresh-faced, fair-haired boy.  Very often lorgnettes were turned in
her direction; for, when in town, no girl was more sought after than
Pansy Langham.

As Pansy sat with her father and Captain Cameron a man who had been
sitting at the far end of the room came to their table, greeting all
three with the air of an old acquaintance.

Afterwards he turned to Cameron.

"Well, and how's tennis?  Are you still champion in your own little
way?" he asked.

"To tell you the truth, Dennis," Cameron answered, "in Grand Canary one
man gave me a thorough licking.  And he was a rank outsider too!"

"How pleased you must have felt.  Who was your executioner?"

"A man of the name of Le Breton.  A French millionaire."

Dennis laughed in a disparaging manner.

"French he calls himself, does he?  That's like his cheek.  I met him
once in Paris, a haughty sort of customer who thinks the whole world is
run for him.  He's a half-breed really, for all his money and his
high-handed ways."

The conversation had taken a turn that held a fearsome interest for
Pansy.  But to hear Raoul Le Breton described as a half-breed was a
shock and surprise to her.

"Mr. Le Breton a half-caste!" she exclaimed.

Dennis glanced at her.

"Where did you drop across him?" he asked sharply.

"In Grand Canary also."

"Well, the less you have to do with 'sich' the better," he said in a
brotherly way.  "He's a hot lot.  The very devil.  No sort of a pal for
a girl like you."

"I thought he was French," Pansy said in a strained voice.

"He poses as such, but he isn't.  He's a nigger cross, French-Arab.
And what's more he's a Mohammedan."

"You're a trifle sweeping, Dennis," Sir George interposed.  "If you'd
dealt with coloured people as much as I have, you'd know there was a
great difference between a nigger and an Arab.  An Arab in his own way
is a gentleman.  And his religion has a great resemblance to our own.
He is not a naked devil-worshipper like the negro."

Pansy welcomed her father's intervention.  At that moment her world was
crashing into even greater ruins around her.

Raoul Le Breton a half-caste!  The man she loved "a nigger"!

Pansy did not hide from herself the fact that she still loved Le
Breton, but this last piece of news about him put him quite beyond the
pale.

Also it put a new light on the affair of Lucille Lemesurier.

He was of a different race, a different religion, a different colour,
with a wholly different outlook.

After the first gust of temper was over, Pansy had wanted to find some
excuse for Le Breton over the affair of the French actress.

It is easy to find excuses for a person when one is anxious to find
them.  And now it seemed she had one.

He was a Mohammedan.  His religion allowed him four wives, and as many
other women as he pleased.  No wonder he had been angry at the fuss she
had made over Lucille Lemesurier!  According to his code he had done no
wrong.

Now Pansy wanted to apologise for her rudeness in invading his villa;
for her temper, and the scene that followed.

The fault was all hers.  She ought to have found out more about him
before letting things go so far.  She had liked him, and she had
troubled about nothing else.

She ought never to have encouraged him.  For when they had breakfasted
together that morning among the red roses, she knew he was in love with
her.

"There are lots of things about myself I haven't told you."

Le Breton's remark came back to her mind.

No wonder he had wanted to marry her at once!  Before she found out
anything about him.

Pansy tried to feel angry with her erstwhile lover.  But, phantom-like,
the strength of his arms was around her, his handsome, sunburnt face
was close to her own, his voice was whispering words of love and
longing, his lips on hers in those passionate kisses that made her
forget everything but himself.

Her eyes went round the room, a brave, tortured look in them.

Were there other women there, suffering as she was suffering?
Suffering, and who yet had to go on smiling?  The world demanded her
smiles, and it should have them, although her heart was bleeding at the
tragedy of her own making.

Not only her heart, but Raoul's.  Because she had encouraged him.

She must not blame him.  For the odds were all against him.  She must
try and see things from his point of view--the point of view of a
polygamist.

That night when Pansy got back home, she wrote the following note:--


"Dear Mr. Le Breton,

I owe you an apology.  Only to-night I have learnt that you are of
another race, another religion than mine.  It makes things look quite
different.  You see things from the point of view of your race, I, of
mine.  I am sorry I did not know all this sooner; I should have acted
very differently.  I should not have come to your villa that night and
made a stupid fuss, for one thing.  About such matters men of your race
and religion are quite different from men of my own.  I am sorry for
all that occurred.  For my own bad temper and the annoyance I must have
caused you.  But I did not know anything about you then.

Yours regretfully,
  Pansy Langham.

P.S.--I shall be calling at Grand Canary in about ten days' time with
my father, Sir George Barclay.  I am going out to Africa with him.  If
you care to come on board during the evening I should like to see you
and say how sorry I am.

P. L."



CHAPTER XXII

One day when Le Breton returned from one of the mad rides he frequently
indulged in, in a vain effort to assuage the pain and chagrin that
raged within him, he found among a pile of letters put aside for his
inspection, one with an English stamp.

Letters from that country rarely came his way.  But it was not the
novelty that attracted him, making him pick it out from the others, but
the writing.

He had seen it once before, on a note that had turned his heaven into
hell, when for the first time he had learnt what it was to be rejected
by a woman.

He tore the envelope open, eager for the contents.

What had the girl to say to him?  Why had she written?

With a wild throb of hope, he drew out the message.

Once he had called Pansy a little creature of rare surprises.  But none
equalled the surprise in store for him now.

It was not the apologies in the note he saw; nor a girl's desire to try
and see things from his point of view; nor the fact that, despite
everything, she was unable to break away from him.

He saw only one thing.

She was Sir George Barclay's daughter!  The girl he loved to
distraction was the child of his father's murderer!

Astounded he stared at the note.  He could not believe it.  Yet it was
there, written in Pansy's own hand.

"With my father, Sir George Barclay."

Pansy, the child of the man he hated!  That brave, kind, slim, teasing
girl, who for one brief week had filled him with a happiness and love
and contentment such as he had once deemed impossible.

As he brooded on the note a variety of emotions raged within him.

A vengeance that had rankled for sixteen years fought with a love that
had grown up in a week.

Then he pulled himself together, as if amazed at his own indecision.

He took the note, with its pathos and pleading; a girl's endeavour to
meet the view of the man she loved, whose outlook was quite beyond her.
Deliberately he tore it across and across, into shreds, slowly and with
a cruel look on his face, as if it were something alive that he was
torturing, and that gave him pleasure to torture.

For Le Breton had decided what his course was to be.  The vengeance he
had promised long years ago should be carried out, with slight
alterations.  He had a way now of torturing Sir George Barclay that
would be punishment beyond any death.  And Pansy was the tool he
intended to use.  What was more, she was to pay the penalty of her
father's crime.  For he would mete out to her the measure he had
promised sixteen years ago.

However, this decision did not prevent Le Breton from going to Pansy's
yacht the evening of its arrival in Grand Canary.

After dinner he made his way along the quay towards the white vessel
with its flare of light that stood out against the dark night.

Evidently he was expected.  On inquiring for Miss Langham, he was shown
into the cabin where he had had his previous interview with her; and
with the feeling that things would go his way, if he had but a little
patience: a virtue he had never been called upon to exercise where a
woman was concerned.

Le Breton's feelings as he stayed on in the pretty cabin would be
difficult to describe.  Everything was redolent of the girl, touching
his heart with fairy fingers; a heart he had hardened against her.

But, as he waited there, he despised himself for even having
momentarily contemplated letting a woman come between him and his
cherished vengeance.

Once in Africa Sir George Barclay would prove an easy and unsuspecting
prey.  According to custom, the Governor should tour his province.
That tour would bring him within six hundred miles of Le Breton's
desert kingdom.  The latter intended to keep himself well posted in his
enemy's movements.  And he knew exactly the spot where he would wait
for the Governor and his suite--the spot where sixteen years before the
Sultan Casim Ammeh had been shot.

He, Le Breton, would wait near there with a troop of his Arab soldiers.
Unsuspecting, the Governor would walk into the trap.  The whole party
would be captured with a completeness and unexpectedness that would
leave no trace of what had happened.  With his prisoners he would sweep
back to the desert.

Once in El-Ammeh, the daughter should be sold as a slave in the public
market, to become the property of any Arab or negro chief who fancied
her.  And her father should see her sold.  But he should not be killed
afterwards.  He should live on to brood over his child's fate--a
torture worse than any death.

"Put your ear quite close.  It's not a matter that can be shouted from
the house-tops."

Like a sign from the sea, the echo of Pansy's voice whispered in his
ear, a breath from his one night in heaven.

But he would not listen.  Vengeance had stifled love--vengeance he had
waited sixteen years for.

He glanced round with set, cold face.

It seemed to him no other woman could look so lovely and desirable as
the girl entering.

Pansy was wearing a flounced dress of some soft pink silky material
that spread around her like the petals of a flower.  The one great
diamond sparkled on her breast--a dewdrop in the heart of a half-blown
rose.

On seeing her Le Breton caught his breath sharply.  This girl the
daughter of his father's murderer!  This lovely half-blown English
rose!  What a trick Fate had played him!

Then, ashamed of his momentary craving, he faced her, a cruel smile on
his lips.

There was a brief silence.

Pansy looked at him, thinking she had never seen him so handsome, so
proud, so aloof, so hard as now.  He stood watching her coldly with no
word of welcome, no greeting on his lips.

He was the first to speak.  And he said none of the things Pansy was
expecting and was prepared for.

"Why did you tell me your name was Langham?" he asked in a peremptory
manner.

"It is Langham," she answered, with some surprise.

"How is it, then, that you say Sir George Barclay is your father?"

"He is my father.  Langham was my godfather's name, my own second name.
I had to take it when I inherited his money.  That was his one
stipulation."

Another pause ensued.

There was a hurt look in Pansy's soft eyes as she watched Le Breton.
As he looked back at her a hungry gleam came to his hard ones.

"What have you learnt about me?" he demanded presently.

"That you're half Arab."

He had almost expected her to say she had discovered he was the Sultan
Casim Ammeh, her own and her father's sworn enemy.

"Is that all?" he asked, with a savage laugh.

"It's quite enough to account for everything," Pansy replied.

"Even for your coming into my arms and letting me kiss and caress you,"
he said, with biting sarcasm.

Pansy flushed.

"I didn't know anything about you then.  And you know I didn't," she
said with indignation.

"Or you wouldn't have listened to a word of love from me."

Much as he tried to hate the girl, now that he was with her he could
not keep the word "love" off his lips.

Pansy felt she was not shining.  She wanted to apologise, but he seemed
determined to be disagreeable.  What was more, she had a feeling she
was dealing with quite a different man from the Raoul Le Breton who had
won and broken her heart within a week.  She put it down to her own
treatment of him and it made her all the more anxious for an
understanding.  She could not bear to see him looking at her in that
hard, cruel way, as if she were his mortal enemy--someone who had
injured him past all forgiveness.

"It's not that I want to talk about at all," she said desperately.

"What do you want to talk about, then?" he asked, his cruel smile
deepening.

"I want to say how sorry I am that I was angry with you that night.
But I ... I didn't know you were ... are----"

Pansy stopped before she got deeper into the mire.

She was going to say "a coloured man," but with him standing before
her, her lips refused to form the words.

However, Le Breton finished the sentence for her.

"'A nigger.'  Don't spare my feelings.  I've had it cast up at me
before by you English."

"You know I wouldn't say anything so cruel and untrue."

Again there was silence.

Le Breton watched her, torturing himself with the thought of what might
have been.

"If you'd kept your word, you'd be my wife now.  The wife of 'a
nigger,'" he said presently.

"Don't be so cruel.  I never thought you'd be like this," she cried,
her voice full of pain.

"And I never thought you would break your word."

"In any case, I couldn't have married you, considering you're a
Mohammedan," she said, goaded out of all patience by his unfriendly
attitude.

"Religion is nothing to me nowadays.  I was quite prepared to change to
yours."

"You couldn't have done that.  There would be your ... your wives to
consider."

"I have no wife by my religion or yours."

"But that woman at your villa, wasn't she----" Pansy began.

"I've half a dozen women in one of my--houses; but none of them are my
wives.  You're the only woman I've ever asked for in marriage.  You!"

He laughed in a cruel, hard way, as if at some devil's joke.

Pansy's hand went to her head--a weary, hopeless gesture.

He was beyond her comprehension, this man who calmly confessed to
having a half a dozen women in one of his houses, to a woman he would
have made his wife.

"I'm sorry," she said in a dreary tone, "but I can't understand you.
I'd no idea there were men who seemed just like other men and yet
behaved in this ... this extraordinary fashion."

"I'm not aware that my behaviour is extraordinary.  Every man in my
country has a harem if he can afford it."

Deliberately he put these facts before the girl in his desire to hurt
and hate her as he hated her father.  But the look of suffering on her
face hurt him as much as he was hurting her.  And he hated himself more
than he hated her, because uprooting the love he had for her out of his
heart was proving such a difficult task.

"It's a harem, is it?" Pansy said distastefully.  "Now I'm beginning to
understand.  But I don't want to hear anything more about it.  I see
now it was a mistake my asking you here.  But I wanted you to know--to
know----"

She floundered and stopped and started again, anxious to be fair with
him in spite of everything.

"I wanted you to understand that the fact of your religion and race
made your behaviour seem quite different from what it would have been
were you a ... a European.  I want you to see that I know you have your
point of view, that I can't in all fairness blame you for doing what is
not wrong according to your standpoint, even if it is according to
mine."

With his cold, cruel smile deepening, he watched her floundering after
excuses for him, endeavouring to see his point of view, to be just and
fair.

"You're very magnanimous," he said, with biting scorn.

"And you are very unkind," she flashed, suddenly out of patience.
"You're making everything as hard for me as you possibly can.  You're
doing it deliberately; and you look as if you enjoyed hurting me.  I
never thought you'd be like this, Raoul.  I would have liked to part as
friends since ... since anything else is impossible."

His name on her lips made a spasm cross Le Breton's face.

As he stood there fighting against himself he knew he was still madly
in love with the girl he was determined to hate, and he despised
himself for his own weakness.

Pansy watched him, a look of suppressed suffering shadowing her eyes.

She would have given all she possessed--her cherished freedom, her vast
riches, her life--to have had him as she once thought him, a man of her
own colour, not with this dreadful black barrier between them; a
tragedy so ghastly that the fact of Lucille Lemesurier now seemed a
laughing matter.  He was lost to her for ever.  No amount of love or
understanding could pull down that barrier.

"Good-bye," she said, holding out her hand.  "I'm sorry we ever dropped
across one another."

Le Breton made no reply.  Cold and unsmiling, he watched her.

There was a brief silence.

Outside, the sea sobbed and splashed like tears against the vessel's
side.  But all the tears in the world could not wash the black stain
from him.

As they stood looking at one another, a verse came and sang like a
dirge in Pansy's head:

  What are we waiting for?  Oh, my heart,
  Kiss me straight on the brow and part:
  Again!  Again, my heart, my heart
  What are we waiting for, you and I?
  A pleading look--a stifled cry--
  Good-bye for ever.  Good-bye, good-bye.


"Good-bye," she said again.

Then he smiled his cold, cruel smile.

"No, Pansy.  I say--au revoir."

Ignoring her outstretched hand, he bowed.  Then, after one long look at
her, he turned and was gone.

As the door closed behind him Pansy blinked back two tears.

It had hurt her horribly to see him so set and cold, with that cruel
look in his eyes where love once had been.

She wished that "The Sultan" had killed her that day in the East End of
London; or that Raoul Le Breton had been drowned that night in the sea.
Anything rather than that they should have met to make each other
suffer.



PART III



CHAPTER I

Over El-Ammeh great stars flashed, like silver lamps in the purple dome
above the desert city.  Their light gave a faint, misty white tinge to
the scented blueness of the harem garden.  There, trees sighed softly,
moving vague and shadow-like as a warm breeze stirred them.  The walled
pleasance was filled with the scent of flowers, of roses, magnolia,
heliotrope, mimosa and a hundred other blossoms, for night lay heavy
upon the garden.

In sunken ponds the stars were mirrored, rocking gently on the surface
of the ruffled water.  Close by one of the silvered pools, a man's
figure showed, big and white, in flowing garments.  Against him a
slender girl leant.

Rayma's eyes rivalled the stars as she gazed up at her sultan and
owner.  Yet in their dark depths a touch of anxiety lurked.

A fortnight ago, the Sultan had returned to El-Ammeh.  The first week
had been one of blissful happiness for the Arab girl.  For her master
had returned more her lover than ever.  But, as the days went on,
doubts crept into her heart, vague and haunting.  At times it seemed to
her he was not quite the same man who left her for Paris.  For he had a
habit now that he had not had before he went away--a disconcerting
habit of looking at her with unseeing eyes, as if his thoughts were
elsewhere.

This mood was on him now.

Although the night called for nothing but love and caresses, none had
fallen to her lot.  Although she rested against him, she might not have
been there for all the notice he took.  He appeared to have forgotten
her, as he gazed in a brooding, longing manner at the soft, velvety
depths of the purple sky--sky as deeply, softly purple as pansies.

Rayma pressed closer to her lord and sultan, looking at him with
love-laden, anxious eyes.

"Beloved," she whispered softly, "are your thoughts with some woman in
Paris?"

With a start, his attention came back to her.  In the starlight he
scanned her little face in a fierce, hungry, disappointed manner.  For
the slight golden girl who now rested upon his heart brought him none
of the contentment he had known when Pansy had been there.

"No, little one," he said gently.  "I prefer you to all the women I met
in Paris."

Her slim arms went round his neck in a clinging passionate embrace.

"Oh, my lord," she whispered, "such words are my life.  At times I
think you do not love me as you once did.  You seem not quite the same.
For, often, although your arms are around me, you forget that I am
there!"

A bitter expression crossed his face.

He did not forget that she was there.  Although he had come back to the
desert girl he had once loved, it was not her he wanted, but the girl
who had scorned and flouted him, his enemy's daughter.  And he tried to
forget her in the slim, golden arms that held him, with such desire and
passion.

"No, Rayma, I'm not quite the same," he said, stroking the little face
that watched him with such love and longing.  "For sixteen years and
more I have waited to avenge my father's death.  And now----"

He broke off, and laughed savagely.

"And now--my father's murderer is almost within my grip.  Next week I
start out with my men to capture him."

Revenge was a sentiment the Arab girl could understand.

"Oh, my lord," she whispered, "little wonder that your mind wanders
from me, even though I am within your arms.  I wept when you went to
Paris.  But I would speed you on this quest for vengeance."

The Sultan made no reply.

Deep down in his own heart he knew his excuse was a false one.  It was
not vengeance that came between him and Rayma--but Pansy.

And now he hated the English girl, for she had robbed all other women
of their sweetness.



CHAPTER II

Over the old fort near the river the British flag drooped limply.  Many
years had passed since it had last hung there.  Nowadays, the place was
not used.  The country was too peaceful to need forts, and the district
officer lived in a corrugated iron bungalow just beyond the remains of
the stockade.

It was getting on towards evening.  The mist still rose from forest and
shadow valley, as it had risen sixteen years before when Barclay first
came to these parts.  And in the stunted cliffs another generation of
baboons swarmed.

On the roof of the old fort Pansy stood with her father, watching as
she had often watched during her months in Africa, the sunset that each
night painted the world with glory.

A golden mist draped the horizon, its edge gilded sharply and clearly.
Across the golden curtain swept great fan-like rays of rose and green
and glowing carmine, all radiating from a blurred mass of orange hung
on the world's edge where the sun sank slowly behind the veil of gold.

The mist rolled up from the wide shallow valley, in banks and tattered
ribbons, rainbow tinted.  And the lakes that, in the dry season, marked
the course of the shrunken river, gleamed like jewels in the flood of
light poured out from the heavens.

The constant change and variety of the last few months had eased
Pansy's pain a little.

With her father she had toured the colony.  She had slept under canvas,
in native huts, and iron bungalows.  And there were half-a-dozen
officers on the governor's staff, all anxious to entertain his daughter.

But for the nights, Pansy would have enjoyed herself immensely.

"Give me the nights, Pansy, and the days I'll leave to you."

Very often Raoul Le Breton's words came back to her, as she lay
sleepless.  It seemed that he had her nights now, that man she loved
yet could not marry.  Often her heart ached with a violence that kept
her awake until the morning.

Pansy tried to make her nights as short as possible.  She was always
the last to bed and the first to rise, often up and dressed before
Alice--her plump, pretty, mulatto maid, a Mission girl Pansy had
engaged for her stay in Africa--appeared with the early morning tea.
And whenever it was possible, she was out and away on her old
racehorse, with some member of her father's staff.

And the day that followed was generally full of novelty and interest.
There were new people to see; a wild country to travel through; some
negro chief to interview; a native village to visit.

As the journey continued, the Europeans grew fewer.  Until that day, it
was nearly a week since Pansy had seen a white face, except those of
her father's suite.

Only that afternoon the furthermost point of the tour had been reached.
A mile or so beyond was French territory.

With her father Pansy often went over the maps of the district and the
country that lay around it.  She knew that beyond the British
possessions lay a sparsely populated and but little known district;
vast areas, scarcely explored, of scrub and poor grass, that led on to
the Back of Beyond, the limitless expanse of the burning Sahara.

But, interested as Pansy always was in all connected with her father's
province, and all that lay about it, she was not thinking of any of
these things as she stood on the roof with him, but of her old
playmate, Captain Cameron.

The Governor, his staff, and the district officer were going the next
day to visit some rather important negro chief.  Pansy was to have been
one of the party, but on reaching their journey's end, Cameron had
suddenly developed a bad attack of malaria.

"I don't think I'll go to-morrow, father," she was saying.  "I don't
like leaving Bob.  I know his orderly can look after him all right.
But he says he feels better when I'm about, so I promised to stay and
hold his hand."

"Just as you like," Sir George answered.  "In any case the pow-pow will
be very similar to a dozen others you've seen.  And Bob needs keeping
cheerful."

"He takes it very philosophically," Pansy answered.

"It's the only way to take life," her father answered, a trifle sadly.

Pansy rubbed a soft cheek against his in silent sympathy.

She loved and understood her quiet, indulgent father more than ever.
But the dead girl he still grieved for was only a misty memory to his
child.

"Yes, Daddy, I've learnt that too," she said.  "It's no use grousing
about things.  It's far better to laugh in the teeth of Fate."

George Barclay's arm went round his daughter.

She had followed out her own precepts, this brave, bright girl of his.

As she went about his camp, no one would have guessed her life was a
tragedy.  And even he knew no more than she had told him on her
unexpected return from Grand Canary.

She was fighting her battle alone, as he in past years had fought his,
in her own unselfish way, refusing to let her shadows fall on those
about her.



CHAPTER III

About five miles away from the old fort, deep in the forest, there was
a large grassy glade, an unfrequented spot.

Within it now were encamped what looked to be a large party of Arab
merchants.  There were about a hundred of them, and they had come early
that morning, with horses, and camels, and mules, and bales of
merchandise.  And they outnumbered Barclay's party by nearly three to
one.  His following were not more than forty, including thirty Hausa
soldiers.

Immediately on arriving in the glade, two of the Arabs, with curios,
had been dispatched to the English camp, outwardly to sell their goods,
but, in reality, as spies.

They had hardly gone, before the rest of the party put aside its
peaceful air.  Out of their bales weapons were produced; guns of the
latest pattern and vicious-looking knives.

In his tent the Sultan Casim Ammeh sat, in white burnoose, awaiting the
return of his spies.  With him was Edouard, his French doctor, who was
watching his royal master with an air of concern.

"I shall be glad when this thing is through and done with," he remarked
presently, his voice heavy with anxiety.  "And all I hope is that the
English don't get hold of you.  There'll be short shrift for you, if
you're caught meddling with their officials."

"They'd shoot me, as Barclay shot my father," the Sultan replied
grimly.  "But I'm willing to risk that in order to get hold of him."

"I wish we were safely back in El-Ammeh," the doctor said.

"You've never experienced either a deep love or a deep hate, Edouard.
The surface of things has always satisfied you.  You're to be envied."

"Well I hope that love will never run you into the dangers that this
revenge of yours is likely to," Edouard replied, getting up.

He went from the tent, leaving the Sultan alone, awaiting the return of
his spies.

It was nearly midday when they got back to the glade.  At once they
were taken into the royal presence.

"What have you learnt?" the Sultan demanded.

The Arabs bowed low before their ruler.

"Your Highness, the English party has broken up," one replied.  "The
chief and his officers, with half the soldiers, have gone to a village
that lies about half way between here and the fort.  And the white
lady, his daughter, is left behind, with but fifteen men to guard her."

As Le Breton listened, the task he had set himself appeared even easier
than he had imagined.

At the head of his men he would waylay and capture the governor and his
party on their return from the village.  When this was accomplished he
would send off a contingent to seize Pansy.

With this idea in view, he summoned a couple of native officers into
his presence.

When they appeared, he gave them various instructions about the matter
on hand, and, finally, his plans concerning Pansy.

"No shot must be fired in the presence of the English lady," he
finished.  "At all costs she must be captured without injury."

With deference the Arab officers listened to his instructions, then
they bowed and left the royal presence.

Not long afterwards the glade was practically empty save for the tents
and camels and mules.

At the head of his men the Sultan Casim Ammeh had gone in quest of the
vengeance he had waited quite sixteen years for.



CHAPTER IV

In the guard-house of the old fort where George Barclay had once housed
his wounded Arab prisoners, Captain Cameron sat propped up with pillows
in a camp bed.  It was a cool, dim, white-washed room with thick stone
walls, tiny windows high up near the ceiling, and a strong wooden door,
that was barred from the inside.

Beside him Pansy sat, pouring out the tea that his orderly had just
brought in, and trying to coax an appetite that malaria had left
capricious.

Cameron's fever had burnt itself out in twenty-four hours as such
fevers will, but it had left the young man very weak and washed out,
scarcely able to stand on his legs.

As Pansy sat talking and coaxing, trying to make a sick man forget his
sickness, into the stillness of the drowsy afternoon there came a sound
that neither of them expected.  The thunder of horses' hoofs, like a
regiment sweeping towards them.

As far as Cameron knew there were no horses in the district except
their own, and they numbered only about half a dozen, not enough to
produce anything like that amount of sound.

"What on earth can that be?" he asked, suddenly alert.

Almost as he spoke there was a further sound.  A sound of firing.  Not
a single shot, but a volley.  It was followed immediately by cries and
screams, and a hubbub of native voices.

Cameron had seen active service.  That sound made him forget all about
his fever.  He knew it for a surprise attack.  But who had attacked
them, and why, he could not imagine; for the district was peaceful.

Barefooted and in pyjamas, he scrambled out of bed.  Swaying, he
fumbled under his pillow, and producing a revolver, slipped it into his
pocket.  Then he staggered across to the door, Pansy at his heels.

When they looked out, it appeared that the stockade was filled with
white-robed figures on horseback, lean, brown, hawk-faced men whom
Pansy immediately recognised for Arabs.  The surprised Hausa soldiers
had been driven into one corner of the compound, and back to back were
fighting valiantly against overwhelming odds.

Cameron did not wait to see any more.  Already a score or more of the
wild horsemen were sweeping on towards the old fort where the two stood.

Quick as thought he shut the guardroom door.  With hands that shook
with fever, he stooped and picked up one of the two iron bars that held
it in position.

"Lend me a hand, Pansy," he said sharply.

But Pansy did not need any telling.  Already she had seized the other
end of the heavy bar.  It was in position just as the horde outside
reached the guard-house.  There was a rattle of arms, the sound of
horses being brought sharply to a halt.  Then orders shouted in a wild,
barbaric language.

There followed a shower of heavy blows upon the door.

When the second iron bar was in position, the boy and the girl stood
for a moment and looked at one another.

Pansy was the first to speak.

"What has happened?" she asked.

"It looks like a desert tribe out on some marauding expedition," he
replied in as cool a voice as he could muster.  "But I'm sure I don't
know what they're doing down as far as here."

"My father?" Pansy said quickly.

Cameron made no reply.  He hoped the Governor's party had not fallen
foul of the marauders.  But the fate of Sir George and his staff was
not the one that troubled him now.  All his thoughts were for the girl
he loved, to keep her from falling into the hands of that barbaric
horde.  And fall she must, dead or alive, before so very long.  Strong
as the door was, it would not be able to withstand the assaults the
Arabs could put upon it.

With a casual air Cameron examined his revolver, to make sure that the
five cartridges were complete.

Then he glanced at the girl.

She caught his eye, and smiled bravely.  She had grasped the situation
also.

"We all have to die sooner or later," she remarked.  "I hope it'll be
sooner in my case."

Cameron's young face grew even whiter and more drawn; this time with
something more than fever--the thought of the task before him.

"Four shots for them, Pansy, and the fifth for you," he answered
hoarsely.

"Yes, Bob, whatever you do, don't forget the fifth."

As they talked, thundering blows were falling on the door, filling the
room with constantly recurring echoes.  But the wood and iron withstood
the assault.  The noise stopped suddenly.  From outside, voices could
be heard, evidently discussing what had better be done next.

Pansy and Cameron crossed to the far side of the room, and stood there
side by side, their backs against the wall, waiting.

When the blows came again they were different; one heavy, ponderous
thud that made the door creak and groan, with a pause between each blow.

"They've got a battering-ram to work now, a tree trunk or something,"
Cameron remarked.  "That good old door won't be able to stand the
strain much longer."

Then he glanced at the girl, longing in his eyes.

"Let me give you one kiss, Pansy.  A good-bye kiss," he whispered.
"It's years since I've kissed you.  You're such a one for keeping a
fellow at arm's length nowadays."

With death knocking at the door Pansy could not refuse him; this nice
boy she had always liked, yet never loved.

She thought of the man who had feasted so freely on her lips that night
in the moonlit garden in Grand Canary.  She wanted no man's kisses but
his, no man's love but his, and his race and colour barred him out from
her for ever.

"Kiss me if you like, Bob, for old time's sake.  But----"

She broke off, listening to the noises from outside, the heavy, regular
thud on the iron-bound door, that had now set the stone walls trembling.

"Now, I shall die a young maid instead of an old one, that's all," she
said suddenly.

Cameron watched her, pain on his face; this girl who could face death
with a courage that equalled his own.

Then he kissed her tenderly.

"Good-bye, Pansy, little pal," he said hoarsely.

Afterwards there was silence in the room.  Between the heavy blows
flies droned.  Droned as if all were well with the world.  As if
nothing untoward were happening.

Pansy listened to them, a strained look on her face.

So they would go on droning after she was dead.

How painful the thought would once have been.  But the world had grown
so tragic since she had met and parted with Raoul Le Breton.  Life had
become so dreary.  There was a constant gnawing pain at her heart now,
a pain that Pansy hoped would not follow her from this world into
another.

There was a crash of falling timber.

The door gave way suddenly, letting in a flood of wild, white-clad men.

If Cameron thought of anything beyond getting his four shots home among
the swarming crowd, it was to wonder why they did not fire, instead of
rushing towards him and the girl.

But he did not give much time to the problem.

Within four seconds, four shots had been fired at the onrushing Arabs.
And with ruthless joy Cameron noted that four of them fell.

Then he turned his weapon on the girl beside him.  Now that her turn
had come, Pansy smiled at him bravely with white lips.

But, as Cameron turned, a shot grazed his hand, fired by the leader of
the Arabs, who appeared to have grasped what the Englishman was about
to do.

The bullet did not reach Pansy's brain as Cameron intended.  For the
pain of his wound sent his hand slightly downwards just as he pulled
the trigger.

His bullet found a resting-place in her heart, it seemed.  With a faint
gasp she fell as if dead at his feet, a red stain on the front of her
white dress.

This contretemps left the onrushing horde aghast.  They halted
abruptly.  In silence they stood staring at the limp form of the
prostrate girl, the fear of death upon their swarthy faces.



CHAPTER V

In his tent the Sultan Casim Ammeh was waiting for the return of the
party sent on to the old fort to capture Pansy.

So far there had been no hitch in his schemes.  Sir George and his
staff had proved an easy prey.  Already one portion of his Arab
following, with Barclay's officers, had set out on the long journey
back to El-Ammeh.

Sir George and Pansy, the Sultan had arranged to take up himself, as
soon as the girl was in his hands.  For he had no desire to linger in
British territory.

But it was not the punishment England would dole out to him if he were
caught that filled Le Breton's mind as he sat cross-legged among the
cushions, with the cruel lines about his mouth very much in evidence.
His thoughts were all with Sir George Barclay's daughter.

What desert harem would be her future home?  What wild chief would call
that golden-haired girl his chattel?

Casim Ammeh had determined to carry out his vengeance to the letter,
where Pansy was concerned.  To sell her in the slave-market of his
capital; and keep her father alive, tortured by the knowledge of his
daughter's fate.

What would the girl say when she saw him?  When she recognised him for
the Sultan of El-Ammeh, the man her father had wronged past all
forgiveness.  Would that sweet, brave face go white at the knowledge of
the fate before her?  Would she try to plead with him or herself and
her father?  Would----!

Le Breton pulled his straying thoughts up sharply, lest they should go
wandering down forbidden ways--ways that led to where love was.

He had determined to hate Pansy; a hatred he had to keep continually
before him, lest he should forget it.

The afternoon wore on, bringing long shadows creeping into the glade.
And the Sultan sat waiting for the full fruit of his vengeance.  There
might be peace in his heart once the wrong done to his father was
righted.  Peace in the restless heart that throbbed within him, that
seemed always searching for a life other than the one he lived; a peace
he had known just once or twice when a girl's slight form had rested
upon it.  His enemy's daughter!

The sound of approaching hoofs broke into his thoughts.  He knew what
they were.  Those of the party sent on to capture Pansy.

When the cavalcade halted, his eyes went to the open flap of the big
tent, a savage expression in them.  He could not see the returned party
from there; only the guards posted outside of the royal quarters.

Presently a couple of men in flowing white robes came into view; the
two officers who had headed the expedition.  They were challenged by
the sentries, then they passed on towards the tent where their Sultan
was waiting.

There was concern upon their faces, that deepened to resignation and
despair when the royal gaze rested upon them.

"Where is the English lady?" their Sultan demanded coldly.

"Your Highness, there was a man of her colour with her, and----" one of
the officers began.

Le Breton made an impatient gesture.

"Bring me the girl," he commanded.

The officers glanced at one another.  Then one knelt before the Sultan.

"The instructions were carried out," he said.  "But the English lady is
dead."

There was a moment of tense silence.  A feeling of someone fighting
against an incredible truth.

Pansy dead!  Impossible!

The Sultan sat as if turned into stone.  The contretemps was one he had
never anticipated.

"Dead," the echoes whispered at him mockingly through the silk-draped
tent.  "Dead," they sighed unto themselves as if in dire pain.

And that one tragic word stripped love of its garment of hate, and set
it before him, alive and vital.

The tent suddenly became charged with suffering, and the feeling of a
fierce, proud heart breaking.

"Dead!" the Sultan repeated in a hoarse, incredulous voice.  "Then
Allah have pity on the man who killed her, for I shall have none."

"Your Highness, there was a white man with her.  He shot her," the
kneeling officer explained.

Le Breton hardly heard him.  For the first time in his wild, arrogant
life he felt regret; regret for a deed of his own doing.  The regret
that is the forerunner of conscience, as conscience precedes the birth
of a soul--the soul he had once laughingly accused Pansy of trying to
save.

His schemes had brought her to her death.  Morally his was the hand
that had killed her.  His hand!

The thought staggered him.

He got to his feet suddenly, reeling slightly, as if in dire agony.
The officer kneeling before him bowed his head submissively.  He
expected the fate of all who bring bad news to a Sultan--the Sultan's
sword upon his neck.

But Le Breton hardly noticed the man.  He only saw his own deed before
him.  Love had leapt out of its scabbard of hate.  The one fact he had
tried to keep hidden from himself was shouting, loud-voiced, at him.

In spite of who and what Pansy was, he still loved her, madly,
ragingly, hopelessly.  But it had taken her death to bring the truth
home to him.

"Where is the girl?" he asked, in a stiff, harsh voice.

"We brought her so that your Highness could see we spoke the truth,"
the officer replied.

"Let her be brought in to me then, and laid there," the Sultan said,
indicating a wide couch full of cushions.

Glad to escape with their lives the officers hurried out to do the
royal bidding.

There were no cruel lines about the Sultan's mouth as he waited their
return, but deep gashes of pain instead.

A silent cavalcade entered the tent some minutes later: as silent as
the Sultan who stood awaiting them; as silent as the girl with the red
stain on her breast and the red blood on her lips.

A look from the Sultan dismissed the men.

When they had gone, he crossed to Pansy's side, and stood gazing down
at her.

She lay limp and white, a broken lily before him,

His enemy's daughter!  This still, white, lovely girl.  This pearl
among women, whom he had tried to hate.  And now----!

Pain twisted his face.

He thought of Pansy as he had last seen her, that night on her yacht.

She had wanted to bring about an understanding between them.  She had
tried to see things from his point of view.  She was prepared to make
allowances, to find excuses for him.  And he had treated her with
harshness; wilfully set her at a disadvantage; purposely had
misunderstood her; deliberately had said all he could to wound her.

He had done his best to hate her.  He had put vengeance before love.
Now he had his reward.  His wild lust for revenge had stilled that kind
heart that had lived to do its best for all.

A stifled groan came to his lips.

What a trick Fate had played upon him!

Leaning over the couch he took one of her limp, white hands into his
strong brown one.  The little hand whose touch could always soothe his
restless spirit, that had once teased and caressed him, opening out
visions of a Paradise that his own deeds had now shut out from him for
ever.

The Fruit of the Tree of Vengeance is bitter.  And this Le Breton
realized to the fullest as he gazed at the silent girl.

"Pansy, don't mock me from beyond the Styx," he whispered.  "For you
know now that my heart is broken.  There's nothing but grief for me
here and hereafter."

Then it seemed to the tortured man that a miracle happened.

The girl's eyes opened.

For a brief second she gazed at him in a dazed, bewildered manner.
Then her lids dropped weakly, as if even that slight effort were too
much for her.



CHAPTER VI

Blue-black night surrounded the Arab encampment.  Here and there a red
watch-fire punctuated the darkness.

Although well past midnight, a light burnt in the Sultan's tent.  It
came from a heavy silver lamp slung from the bar joining the two main
supporting poles.

The light flickered on the couch where Pansy still lay, limp and white
among the silken cushions, her curls making a halo about her pain-drawn
face.  She was no longer clad in her muslin frock, but in a silk
nightgown with her namesakes embroidered upon it.  A light silk rug
covered her up to her waist; on it her hands lay, weak and helpless.

On discovering there was a spark of life left in his prisoner, the
Sultan had sent post-haste to an adjacent tent for Edouard.

When the doctor arrived, Le Breton stood silent whilst the patient was
examined, in an agony of tortured love awaiting the verdict.

"There's no hope unless I can get the bullet out," the doctor had
remarked at the end of the examination.  "It escaped her heart by about
half an inch; but it means constant haemorrhage if it's left in the
lungs."

"And if it's removed?" the Sultan asked hoarsely.

Edouard shrugged his shoulders in a non-committal manner.

"It'll be touch and go, even then.  But she might pull through with
care and attention.  She's young and healthy.  But if she survives,
she'll feel the effects of that bullet for some time to come."

With that Edouard left to fetch his instruments, leaving the Sultan
gazing down at the result of his own mad desire for vengeance--a red,
oozing wound on a girl's white breast.

When the doctor returned, whilst he probed after the bullet Le Breton
held Pansy with firm, careful strength, lest, in pain, she should move
and send the instrument into the heart Cameron's shot had just missed.
But she was unconscious through it all.  Although the probing brought a
further gush of blood, Edouard managed to locate the bullet and extract
it.

After the wound was dressed, and Pansy bound and bandaged up, the
doctor left.

With his departure the Sultan sent for Pansy's belongings, which his
soldiers had brought up as plunder from the raid.

There was no woman among his following, so he sent one of the guards to
inquire if there was one among the captives.

Presently Pansy's mulatto maid was brought to him.

Alice was a pretty brown girl of about seventeen, clad in a blue cotton
slip, and she wore a yellow silk handkerchief tied around her black
curls.  With awe she gazed about the sumptuous tent; with admiration at
her handsome, kingly captor.

He, however, had nothing to say to her, beyond giving her instructions
to serve her mistress and warning her to use the utmost care.

When Alice set about her task he went from the tent to interview
Edouard.

Pansy's condition had upset his plans.  Even if the girl recovered, she
could not be moved for a week at least, no matter how carefully her
litter was carried.  And a force as large as his could not stay a week
in the neighbourhood without the fact becoming known.

When Le Breton returned he dismissed Alice, and he seated himself by
the couch and stayed there watching the unconscious girl.

Evening shadows crept into the tent, bringing a deft-handed, silent
servant, who lighted the heavy silver lamp and withdrew as silently as
he had come.  Dinner appeared; a sumptuous meal that the Sultan waved
aside impatiently.

Then Edouard came again, to see how the patient was faring; to give an
injection and go, after a curious glance at the big, impassive figure
of his patron sitting silent and brooding at his captive's side.

Gradually the noises of the camp died down, until outside there was
only the sough of the forest, the whisper of the wind in the tree-tops,
the occasional stamp of a horse's hoof, the hoot of an owl in the
glade, and, every now and again in the distance, the mocking laugh of
hyenas.  Mocking at him, it seemed to Le Breton; at a man whose own
doings had brought his beloved to death's door.

Within the tent there was no longer silence.  Faint little moans
whispered through it occasionally, mingling with the rustle of silken
curtains and the sparking of the lamp.  And every now and again there
were weak bouts of coughing; coughs that brought an ominous red stain
to Pansy's lips; stains the Sultan dabbed off carefully with a
handkerchief, his strong hand shaking slightly, his arrogant face
working strangely, for he knew he was responsible for the life-blood
upon her lips.

Every hour Edouard came to give the injection which held the soul back
from the grim, bony hands of death that groped after it.  Once or twice
Pansy's eyes opened, but they closed almost instantly, as if she had
not strength enough to hold them open.

But before daybreak her coughs had ceased.  An hour passed, then two,
without that ominous red stain coming to her lips.  Edouard nodded to
himself in a satisfied way as he left the tent.  A little of the
strained look left the Sultan's face.

The haemorrhage had stopped; youth and health were winning the battle.

Just as the first pink streak of dawn entered the tent Pansy's eyes
opened again and stayed open, purple wells of pain that rested on the
Sultan's with a puzzled expression.

Into the misty world of suffering and weakness in which she moved it
seemed to her that Raoul Le Breton had come, looking at her as he had
once looked, with love and tenderness in his glowing eyes.

She could not make out where she was or how he came to be there.  She
had no recollection of the horde who had broken into the guardroom
where she and Cameron had been.  She was too full of suffering to give
any thought to the problem.  Raoul Le Breton was with her, that was
enough.

A wan smile of recognition trembled for a moment on her lips.

"Raoul," she said faintly.

It was more a sigh than a word.  But his name whispered so feebly
brought him kneeling beside her couch, bending over her eagerly.

"My darling, forgive me," he whispered passionately.

He bent his head still lower, with infinite tenderness kissing the
white lips that had breathed his name so faintly.

Pansy's eyes closed again.  A look of contentment came to mingle with
the suffering on her face.

Outside the hyenas still laughed mockingly: derisive echoes from a
distance.  But Le Breton did not hear them.  Despite his treatment of
her, Pansy had smiled upon him.  For the first time in his wild life he
felt humility and gratitude, both new sensations.

When Edouard came again he pronounced the girl sleeping, not
unconscious.

"With care and attention she'll pull through," he said.

"Thank God!" his patron exclaimed, with unfeigned relief and joy.

Edouard glanced at his master speculatively.

He had heard nothing about Pansy's existence until he had been
hurriedly summoned to attend her, and he wondered why his friend and
patron had made no mention of the girl.

"You never told me Barclay had a daughter," he commented.

"I did not know myself until quite recently," the Sultan replied.

"Is she to share her father's fate?" the doctor asked drily.

Tenderly the Sultan gazed at the small white face on the cushions.

"She's not my enemy," he said in a caressing tone.

With a feeling of relief, Edouard left the tent.

It was most evident that the Sultan had fallen in love with his
beautiful captive.  If the girl played her cards well, she would be
able to save her father, and prevent his patron doling out death to a
British official, thus embroiling himself still further with the
English Government.

After the doctor had left, Le Breton sat on Pansy's couch.  Yet he had
not learnt his lesson.

Although he loved the daughter, he hated the father as intensely as
ever.  Now he was making other plans; plans that would enable him to
keep both love and vengeance.  Plans, too, that might make the girl
forget his colour and give him the love he now craved for so wildly.



CHAPTER VII

In one of the tents in the glade Sir George Barclay sat, an Arab guard
on either side of him.  There was an almost stupefied air about him; of
a man whose world has suddenly got beyond his control.

The previous afternoon, without any warning, his party had been set
upon and captured; but by whom, and why, he did not know.  There was no
rebellious chief in the district; no discontent.  Yet he was a prisoner
in the hands of some wild tribe; captured so suddenly that not one of
his men had escaped to take word to the next British outpost and bring
up a force to his assistance.

There was but one streak of consolation in his broodings--the knowledge
that his daughter had not fallen alive into the hands of the barbaric
soldiery.

Some little time after he had been brought a prisoner to the glade he
had seen Cameron come in, white and shaking with fever.

On seeing his chief, the young man had shouted across the space:

"Thank God! the niggers haven't got Pansy alive."

They were given no time for further conversation, for one was hustled
this way and one that.

As Barclay sat brooding on the fate that had overtaken his party and
trying to find a reason for it, someone entered the tent.

In the newcomer he recognised the leader of the force that had waylaid
and captured him and his party.

"So, George Barclay, we meet for a second time," a deep voice said
savagely in French.

Barclay scanned the big man in the white burnoose who stood looking at
him with hatred in his dark, fiery eyes.

To his knowledge he had never seen him before.

"Where did we first meet?" he asked quietly.

"Sixteen years ago, when you murdered my father, the Sultan Casim
Ammeh."

Sir George started violently and scanned the man anew.  He had a reason
now for the untoward happenings.

"Do you remember all I promised for you and yours that day you refused
to listen to my pleadings?" the savage voice asked.

Barclay remembered only too well.  And as he looked at the ruthless
face before him he was more than ever thankful for one thing.

"Thank God; my daughter is dead!" he said.

The Sultan smiled, coldly, cruelly.

"Your daughter is not dead," he replied.  "She is alive; just alive.
And you may rest assured that she'll have every care and attention."

The news left Barclay staring in a stricken manner at his captor.

"My doctor assures me that she will live," the Sultan went on.  "And
you will live, too, to see her sold as a slave in the public market of
my city."

Sir George said nothing.  The thought of Pansy's ghastly fate placed
him beyond speech.  At that moment he could only pray that she might
die.



CHAPTER VIII

Three days elapsed before Pansy returned to full consciousness, and
even then the world was a very hazy place.  One morning she woke up,
almost too weak to move, with a feeling that she must have had a bad
attack of fever.  She tried to sit up, but Alice, her mulatto maid,
bent over her quickly, pressing her back gently on the pillows.

"No, Missy Pansy," that familiar, crooning voice said with an air of
authority.  "De doctor say you stay dere and no move."

Pansy was not at all anxious to move after that one attempt.  The
effort had brought knife-like pains cutting through her chest, and she
had had to bite her lip to keep herself from crying out in agony.

All day she lay in silence, sleeping most of the time, when awake,
thankful just to lie still, for even to talk hurt her; grateful when
Alice fed her, because she would rather have gone hungry than have
faced the pain that sitting up entailed.

Sometimes, from outside, came the rattle of harness, the stamp of a
hoof, men's voices talking in a strange language.  But Pansy was used
to such sounds now, and thought nothing of them; they had been around
her all the time she had been on tour with her father.

The next day the mist had cleared considerably.  Pansy realised she was
in a big tent, not an affair of plain green canvas, such as she had
lived in quite a lot during her expedition into the wilds, but a place
of barbaric splendour.  Silk hangings draped the canvas walls; rich
curtains heavily embroidered with gold.  The very poles that held the
structure up were of silver, and a heavy silver lamp was suspended from
the central bar.  Priceless rugs covered the ground, and here and there
were piles of soft, silk cushions.  There were one or two little ebony
tables and stools inlaid with silver and ivory.  Her bed was a low
couch of soft silk and down cushions.  And on the floor beside her was
a beaten gold tray where jewelled cups reposed, and dishes with
coloured sherbets and other tempting dainties.

Pansy's gaze stayed on Alice in a puzzling manner.

Alice looked much the same, as plump and pretty as ever, but with an
even more "pleased with herself" expression than usual upon her round
smiling face.

From her maid Pansy glanced towards the entrance of the tent.  The flap
was fastened back, letting in a flood of fresh, gold-tinged morning
air.  Just outside, two dark-faced, white-robed men were stationed,
and, beyond, were others, and a glimpse of trees.

Pansy's eyes stayed on the Arabs guarding her quarters.

In a vague way they were familiar.

With a rush came back the happenings of the afternoon when she had been
having tea with Cameron in the old guardroom.

Men such as those outside had burst in upon them when the brave old
door had given way.

A wave of sickly fear swept over the girl.

Was she a prisoner in the hands of that wild horde?

But, if so, what was she doing in the midst of all this splendour, this
riot of luxury, with the softest of cushions to lie on, the choicest of
silk rugs to cover her, and Alice sitting contentedly at her side?

Perhaps Bob could give her the key to the situation.

"Alice," she said weakly, "run and tell Captain Cameron I want to speak
to him."

"He no be here, Miss Pansy," the girl replied.  "He go to de Sultan
Casim Ammeh's city."

Alice pronounced the Sultan's name with gusto.  The desert ruler with
his barbaric splendour and troop of wild horsemen had impressed her far
more than the English governor and his retinue.  She did not at all
mind being his prisoner.  Moreover she was a privileged person, told
off specially by the Sultan to nurse her mistress.

For some moments Pansy pondered on what her maid had said.

"The Sultan Casim Ammeh," Pansy repeated presently, with an air of
bewilderment.

"Dat be him," Alice assured her.  "A great big, fine man, awful
good-looking.  I see him.  An' my heart go all soft.  He so rich and
proud and grand.  But he no look at me, only at you, Miss Pansy," she
finished, sighing.

Pansy hardly heard this rhapsody over her captor.

His name was familiar but half forgotten, like the fairy tales of her
childhood.

Then she suddenly remembered who and what he was.

The youthful Sultan who, long years ago, had sworn to kill her father
and sell her as a slave!

The man Alice mentioned must be the boy grown up!  It must have been
his hordes who had swept down on her and Bob that afternoon.

But it was not of herself that Pansy thought when the truth dawned on
her with vivid, sickening force.  In anxiety for her father she forgot
the fate promised for herself.

"My father!  What has happened to him?" she asked in quick alarm.

"De Sultan, he catch Sir George too," Alice answered coolly.

Pansy's heart stood still.

"Is he still alive?" she asked breathlessly, horror clutching at her.

"Sir George he go also to the city of El-Ammeh, de Sultan's city."

A feeling of overwhelming relief swept over Pansy on hearing her father
was still alive.

For some minutes she lay brooding on the horrible situation and how she
could best cope with it, all the time feeling as if she were in some
wild nightmare.  Then she remembered her own vast riches.

All these Arab chiefs knew the value of money.  She might be able to
ransom her father, herself, the whole party.

"Where is the Sultan?  Tell him I want to see him," she said suddenly
in a weak, excited way.

"He no be here.  He go back to El-Ammeh.  You go, too, Miss Pansy, an'
I go wid you, when Doctor Edouard say you be fit to move."

Pansy clutched at the name of Edouard.  After that of the Sultan Casim
Ammeh it had a welcome European sound.

"Where is Doctor Edouard?  Can I speak to him?" she asked quickly.

She hardly noticed the pain within herself now, torn as she was with
anxiety for her father and friends.

Alice rose, ready to oblige.

"I go fetch him," she said.

Leaving the tent, she interviewed one of the guards.  Then she passed
on beyond Pansy's view.

She reappeared some few moments later accompanied by a short, stoutish
man with a pointed, black beard, unmistakably of French nationality,
who was dressed in a neat white drill suit and a sun helmet.

Anxiously Pansy watched him approach, with no room in her mind to think
how he came to be there, a person as European as herself, in this
savage Sultan's following.

"Do tell me what has happened!" she said, without any preliminaries,
the moment he halted at her bedside.

However, Edouard did not tell Pansy much more than she had already
culled for herself.  But she learnt that the whole of her father's
party were prisoners in the hands of this desert chief and were now on
their way back to his capital.

"But can't you do something?" she asked in despair.

"I'm virtually a prisoner, like yourself," Edouard replied in a
non-committal tone.

He was not a prisoner, but he was paid a good price for his services
and his silence; and he had no intention of playing an excellent friend
and patron false.

"But is there nothing I can do?" Pansy asked, aghast at her own utter
helplessness.

Edouard smiled, remembering the Sultan's concern for the beautiful
captive girl.

"Yes; there's one thing," he replied in a soothing tone.  "Don't worry
about the matter just at present.  But when you get to El-Ammeh use all
your personal influence with the Sultan.  In the meantime you can rest
assured that no harm will happen to Sir George and his staff.
Afterwards I rather fancy everything depends on you."

With this Pansy had to be content.



CHAPTER IX

In Bathhurst, the deputy Governor awaited news of Sir George Barclay.
More than a month had passed since he had left the town, and during
most of the time letters had come through regularly to official
headquarters.  The deputy knew that the furthermost point of the tour
must now be about reached; but nearly a week had passed without any
communication, official or otherwise, coming from the party.  The fact
was not alarming; the part Sir George must now be in was the wildest in
the colony, and a week might easily pass without any message coming
through.

But when another day or so passed without bringing any news, the deputy
began to wonder what had happened.

"The letters must have gone astray," one of the officers remarked.

"Or some leopard has gobbled up the postman," another suggested.

For a couple of days longer the deputy and military officers waited,
hourly expecting some message from the Governor's party, but none came.
There was no reason to think that harm had befallen them, for the
colony was in perfect order.

Then they sent up for news to the next town of any importance, only to
hear that nothing had been heard there either.

The answer astounded them.

An expedition was sent off post-haste to find out what had happened to
the party.

They were nearly a fortnight in reaching the old fort, the last spot
where any message had come from.  And there they found the British flag
still flying over the official headquarters, but both the bungalow and
the fortress were deserted.  In the old guardroom and the compound were
a few gnawed human bones; but there was no other trace of the missing
expedition, although there was every sign that disaster had overtaken
it.

The officials were aghast.  Sir George and his staff had completely
disappeared.  That there had been fighting was evident.  The bones in
the guardroom and compound told them that much, but all trace of their
identity had been gnawed off by prowling hyenas.

The country around was scoured, but it brought no clue.  The French
Government was communicated with, but it could throw no light on the
affair.

When the news reached England it caused a sensation, for Society culled
that Sir George Barclay's daughter, the lovely twenty-year-old heiress,
Pansy Langham, was among those missing--dead now, or perhaps worse; the
chattel of one of the wild marauders who had fallen so swiftly and
silently upon her father's party.

And in a pleasant English country house Miss Grainger wept for the
bright, brave girl who had always been such a generous friend and
considerate mistress.



CHAPTER X

By the time the news of the disappearance of Sir George Barclay's party
reached England, Pansy was well on her way to El-Ammeh.

She arrived there one night after dark, a darkness out from which high
walls loomed and over them strange sounds came; the thin wail of
stringed instruments; a tom-tom throbbing through the blue night; the
plaintive song of some itinerant musician, and the shuffle of crowded
human life.

She was not given much time to dwell upon those things.  Her escort
skirted the high walls.  A big horse-shoe arch loomed up, with heavy
iron gates; gates that clanged back as they approached.  And the flare
of torches showed a long passage leading into darkness.

Into the passage her litter was carried with a swaying, somnolent
movement.  Then the gates closed with a clang behind her, leaving the
escort outside; and she and Alice were alone with the flaming torches,
the black, engulfing passage, and half a dozen huge negroes in gorgeous
raiment.

With a sickly feeling, Pansy slipped from her litter.

Her journey's end!

The journey had lasted over six weeks.  Under other circumstances Pansy
would have enjoyed it.  It could not have been more comfortable.  She
had travelled in the cool of the morning and in the cool of the
evening.  Always for the long midday halt the same sumptuous tent was
up, awaiting her reception, taken down again after she had departed,
and up again before she arrived at the next halting place.

The country she travelled through was an interesting one, park-like and
grassy at first, as the weeks passed becoming ever more sandy and arid,
with occasional patches that were wonderfully fertile.  Until, finally,
like a glowing, yellow sea before her, she had her first glimpse of the
Sahara on its southern side--billow upon billow of flaming sand,
stretching away to a tensely blue sky, with here and there a stunted
bush, a twist of coarse grass, or a clump of distorted cacti with red
flowers blazing against the heated, shimmering air--a vast solitude
where nothing moved.

For a week they had journeyed through the desert.  Late one evening a
lake came into view, with fruitful gardens growing around it, where
date palms, olives, and clustering vines flourished.  On the far side a
walled city showed.

It lay golden in the misty glow of evening, its minarets standing out
against a shadowed sky.  Even as she approached it had been swallowed
by darkness.  Softly the lake lapped as they skirted it, and the world
was filled with a constant hissing sigh, the sound of shifting sand
when the wind roamed over it--the voice of the desert.

Much as Pansy dreaded her journey's end, she welcomed it.

She lived for nothing now but to see the Sultan; to plead with him for
her father, her friends, herself.  And she buoyed herself up with the
hope that her own riches would enable her to ransom them all.

But if she failed!

She grew sick at the thought.  And the thought was with her as she
stood in the stone passage, her strained eyes on the gigantic negro
guards who had come to escort her to her new quarters.  They were
attired from head to foot in rich, brightly coloured silks, and they
literally blazed with jewels.

The man who was their master might have so much money that he would
prefer revenge.

This thought was in Pansy's mind some minutes later when she sat alone
with her maid in one of the many apartments in the palace of El-Ammeh.

It was a big room with walls and floor of gold mosaic, and a domed
ceiling of sapphire-blue where cut rock-crystals flashed like stars.
Five golden lamps hung from it, suspended by golden chains; lamps set
with flat emeralds and rubies and sapphires.

It was furnished very much as her tent had been, except that there were
wide ottomans against the gilded walls, and the tables and stools were
of sandalwood.  In one corner stood a large bureau of the same
sweet-scented wood, beautifully carved.  Three heavy, pointed doors of
sandalwood led into the apartment.  The place was heavy with its
sensuous odour.

In a little alcove draped with curtains of gold tissue the negroes
deposited Pansy's belongings.  Then they withdrew, leaving the girl and
her maid alone; Pansy with the depressing feeling that money might not
have much influence with the Sultan Casim Ammeh.

Two of the doors of her gilded prison were locked, Pansy quickly
discovered.  Outside of the one she had entered by a couple of negro
guards were stationed, who refused to let her pass.

On learning this, she went out into the fretted gallery.  Below a
garden lay.  She stood at the head of the steps leading into it,
anxious to get away from the dim scented silence of the great room, in
touch with the trees and stars and the cool, rose-scented breath of
night that she understood.

She tried to argue that all the splendour and luxury placed at her
disposal boded well for the future, that her captor might not be going
to carry out his threats.

Her gaze turned towards the room, with its wealth and luxury--a fit
setting for a Sultan's favourite.

Pansy shivered.

What price might she not have to pay for her father's life?

Then she thought of Raoul Le Breton.  The dark blood in him seemed
nothing now, compared with the thought of having to become the chattel
of this wild, desert chief.

Slight sounds in the big room roused her from her reverie.

She started violently, expecting to see the Sultan coming to make his
bargain.

But only a couple of white-robed servants were there.

The biggest of the inlaid tables was set for dinner; a dinner for one,
set in a European way.  And the meal that followed was the work of a
skilled French _chef_.

But the sumptuous repast had no charm for a girl worried to death at
the thought of her own fate and her father's.  To please Alice she made
some pretence of eating.

Leaving her maid to revel in the neglected dainties, Pansy went back to
her vigil in the arches.

In course of time, the lamps burning low, Alice's prodigious yawns
drove her to lie wakeful among the soft cushions of one of the ottomans.

From fitful slumbers Alice's voice roused her the next morning.  Alice
with the usual early morning tea, a tray of choice fruit, and a basket
full of rare and beautiful flowers.

Distastefully Pansy looked at the choice blossoms.  She felt they were
from the Sultan to his unwilling visitor; a silent message of
admiration; of homage, perhaps.

"Take them away, Alice," she said quickly.  "And put them where I can't
see them."

With a curious glance at her mistress, the girl obeyed.

Pansy drank her tea, all the time pondering on her future.

If she had to go under, she would go under fighting.  If this wild
chief were prepared to give her her father's life in exchange for
herself, she would see that he got as little pleasure as possible out
of his bargain.  If he were infatuated with her as Alice and Dr.
Edouard seemed to think, so much the better.  All the more keenly he
would feel the lashes her tongue would be able to give.

Pansy knew he spoke French, for this fact had come into the story her
father had told her in years gone by.

In thinking of the cutting things she would be able to lay to her
captor, Pansy tried to keep at bay the dread she felt.  Since he was
not there to hit at in person, she hit at him with sneers at his race
to Alice.

"I don't suppose there's anywhere I can have a bath," she remarked when
her tea was finished.  "Cleanliness isn't one of the virtues of these
Arabs."

"Dere be one," Alice assured her.  "De most beautifullest one you eber
saw."

Pansy agreed with her maid some minutes later when she was splashing
about in its cool waters.

Alice had pointed out the place to her.  In dressing-gown and slippers,
Pansy had passed through the wide gallery, a lacy prison of stone it
seemed to the girl, for although it gave a wide view of the desert,
there was not one spot in its carved side that she could have put her
hand through.

Immediately beneath lay a garden, surrounded by a high wall.

Pansy had seen many gardens, but none to equal the one before her in
peace and beauty.  It was a dream of roses.  In the middle was a sunken
pond where water-lilies floated and carp swam and gaped at her with
greedy mouths when her shadow fell across them, as if expecting to be
fed.  Vivid green velvety turf surrounded the pond, a rarity in that
arid country.  There was nothing else in the garden but roses, of every
shade and colour.  They streamed in cascades over the high walls.  They
grew in banks by the pond, in trellised alleys and single bushes.  The
garden was a gem of cool greenness, scent and silence, and over it
brooded the shadows of gigantic cypresses.

The bath-room lay beneath the stone gallery, with fretted and columned
arches where more roses clung and climbed, opening directly on the
scented quiet of the garden.  It was a huge basin of white marble,
about thirty feet across and deep enough to swim in, with a carved
edge, delicate as lace.

Pansy was in no mood to appreciate her fairy-like surroundings.  And
the beauty of her prison in no way softened her heart towards her
captor.

As she splashed about in the bath, over the high walls came the sound
of bells, like church chimes wrangling in the distance on an English
Sunday.

Wistfully Pansy stopped and listened to them.  She was travelled enough
to recognize them as camel bells; some train coming to this barbaric
city.

When she returned to the dim, gilded room, breakfast was awaiting her;
an ordinary Continental breakfast.

She pecked at it, too sick at heart to eat.  Then she sat on, awaiting
Edouard's appearance.  He had parted with her the previous night,
promising to come and see her when she was installed in the Sultan's
palace.

It was evening before he came.  Pansy greeted him eagerly.  All day she
had dreaded that her captor might appear.  But she wanted to see him,
to satisfy herself about her father.

Edouard's visits to her were purely professional, and brief.  Always
his idea was to get away, for his conscience pricked him where Pansy
was concerned.  He was used to his patron's wild ways, and he knew the
girl's position was not of her own choosing.

"Will you tell the Sultan I want to see him?" she said when he rose to
go.

"Hasn't he paid you a visit yet?" the doctor asked with surprise.

"No, and I'm so worried about my father."

Edouard left, promising to deliver her message.  But he came the next
day, saying the Sultan had refused to grant her an interview.

"I wonder why he won't see me," she said drearily.

Edouard wondered also.

That evening he dined with his friend and patron, not in a gorgeous
Eastern apartment like Pansy's, but in one that was decidedly Western
in its fittings and appointments.  And the Sultan was attired as Pansy
had seen him several times in Grand Canary, in black dress-suit, white
pleated shirt and the black pearl studs.

Dinner was over before Edouard approached the subject of the
girl-prisoner.

"If I were you I'd see Miss Barclay," he said.  "This suspense won't do
her any good.  She frets all day about her father."

"It's not in my plans to see her just yet," the Sultan replied.

Edouard glanced at him.

Then he did what for him was a bold thing, fat and comfortable and fond
of his easy berth as he was.  He challenged his royal master concerning
his intentions towards the captive girl.

"What are your plans with regard to Miss Barclay?" he ventured.  "She's
not one of the sort who can be bought with a string of pearls or a
diamond bracelet."

"I'm going to marry her," the Sultan said easily.

Edouard experienced a feeling of relief, on his own account as much as
Pansy's.

The doctor studied her with renewed interest the next day when he paid
her his usual visit.

"If I sent a note to the Sultan, do you think it would be any use?"
Pansy asked him anxiously, the moment he had done with professional
matters.

"It would do no harm at any rate," he replied.

Pansy got to her feet quickly.

She knew Edouard was in touch with her captor--a prisoner like herself
she imagined, but free to come and go because of his calling.  She did
not know he was a man so faithful to his master that the latter's
smallest wish was carried out to the letter.

Going into the alcove where her belongings were, Pansy seated herself
on the edge of a couch, with a writing-pad on her knee.  For some
minutes she stayed frowning at a blank piece of paper.  It was so
difficult to know what to say to this savage chief who held the lives
of her father and friends in his hands.

After some minutes thinking she wrote:


"To the Sultan Casim Ammeh.

Perhaps you do not know that I am very rich.  Any price you may ask I
am prepared to give for my father's life and freedom, for the lives and
freedom of my English friends who are also your prisoners, and for my
own.  The ransom will be paid to you in gold.  All you will have to do
will be to mention the sum you want, and allow me to send a message
through to my bank in England.

Pansy Langham Barclay."


The note was put into an envelope, sealed, addressed and taken out to
Edouard.

On handing it over, however, Pansy suddenly recollected that the
Sultan, for all his wealth and power, might be ignorant of the arts of
reading and writing.

"Can he read French?" she asked.

An amused look came to the doctor's face.

"If he can't make it out, I'll read it to him," he replied.

It was evening before Le Breton got the note.  Le Breton again as Pansy
knew him, in khaki riding-suit, just as he had returned from a ride on
her old race-horse, that had been brought to his camp the day of her
capture, and was now in the palace stables.

The note was lying on his desk, with the name that Pansy now hated--the
Sultan Casim Ammeh--written on the envelope in her pretty hand.

A tender look hovered about his mouth as he picked up the letter and
read it.  Again the girl was "doing her best" for some helpless
creatures--his prisoners.  Although the fact filled him with an even
greater admiration for Pansy, it did not lessen his hatred for her
father.

He sat down and dashed off a brief reply in an assumed hand.


"All the gold in Africa will not buy my vengeance from me.

Casim Ammeh."


His answer reached Pansy with her dinner, reducing her to despair.

It seemed that nothing she could do would have any influence with this
savage ruler.

Hopeless days followed; days that brought her nothing but a series of
elaborate meals.  Yet she knew that life went on around her; a life
quite different from any she had been accustomed to.

Morning and night she heard faint voices wailing from unseen minarets.
Over the high walls of her garden came the hum of a crowded city.  From
her screened gallery she saw camel trains loom out of the haze of
distance to El-Ammeh, with a wrangle of sweet bells; camels that came
from some vast unknown.

And there was another sound that Pansy heard; a sound that hailed from
somewhere within the Palace; that always came about bedtime, and always
set her shivering; the sound of a girl screaming.

Each morning with her early tea there was a basket of rare flowers,
flowers she did not trouble to tell Alice to move now; she put them
down to some palace custom, nothing that had any bearing on the Sultan.
She never thought of Le Breton's words:

"Still only a few flowers, Pansy?"

And each evening she sat in the dim, scented room and waited for those
muffled screams.  She knew where they came from now; from somewhere
behind one of the locked doors leading into her room.

Limp and listless, she dragged through the hot, monotonous days,
brooding on her own fate and her father's, envying the ragged black
crows that flew, free, like bits of burnt paper, high in the scorching
sky.

Pansy had been about a fortnight in El-Ammeh, when something happened.

One morning, as she stood by the sunken pond, feeding the greedy carp
with rolls she was too miserable to eat, Alice came to her round-eyed
and startled-looking.

"Oh, Miss Pansy, dey hab come for you," she gasped

"Who?" Pansy asked quickly.

"De Sultan's soldiers."

"Are they going to take me to him?" she asked, feeling the interview
she desired and dreaded was now at hand.

"Dey take you to de slave market.  To be sold.  Oh, oh!" the girl
wailed.

Alice's hysterical sobs followed Pansy down the dim passage some
minutes later, when, with strained face and tortured eyes, she went
with a guard of eight Arab soldiers to meet the fate the Sultan Casim
Ammeh had promised for her more than sixteen years before.



CHAPTER XI

Sir George Barclay and most of his staff had a knowledge of Eastern
prisons from the outside.  They knew them to be abodes of misery; dark,
insanitary dens, alive with vermin, squalid and filthy, filled with a
gaunt, ragged crowd who, all day long, held piteous hands through iron
bars, begging for food from the passers-by, the only food they were
given.

The Governor's staff did not look forward to a sojourn in El-Ammeh.  As
for Sir George himself, he had other matters than his own personal
comfort to dwell on.

His thoughts were always with Pansy, and always in his heart was the
prayer that she would succumb to the effects of Cameron's bullet, and
not have to meet the fate his enemy had in store for her.

After the one interview the Sultan had ignored Barclay.  But during the
long journey, Sir George often saw his enemy, and if he thought of
anything outside of his daughter's fate, it was to wonder why Casim
Ammeh looked so different from the wild hordes he ruled.  Exactly like
a man of the well-bred, darker, Latin type, certainly not the son of
the savage marauder whom he, Barclay, had had to condemn to death.

On reaching El-Ammeh, the Europeans found the quarters awaiting them
very different from what experience had led them to expect.

They were ushered into a large courtyard dotted with trees and
surrounded by high walls.  Into it a dozen little cells opened.  Within
the enclosure they were free to wander as they pleased; a glance around
the place showed them why.  The walls were twenty feet high, and as
smooth as glass, and there were always a dozen Arabs stationed by the
gate, watching all they did.  At night they were each locked in
separate cells.

It was impossible to bribe the guards, as Cameron and his fellow
officers discovered before a week had passed.

For the imprisoned Englishmen the time passed slowly.  Often they
speculated on their own ultimate fate.  Whether death would be their
portion, or whether they would be left there to stew for years, after
the manner of more than one European who had had the misfortune to fall
into the clutches of some desert chief.

They all knew the reason of their capture--merely because they happened
to be on the Governor's staff.  He had told them the story of Casim
Ammeh, and the promised revenge.  They never thought of blaming
Barclay.  What the present Sultan of El-Ammeh called "murder" was the
sort of thing any one of them might be called upon to do.

A day came when it seemed to Barclay that the fate that wild youth had
promised him long years ago was at hand.

One morning an escort came for him.

In their company he was led out of prison, to his execution, he
expected.  His staff thought so too; for they took a brief, unemotional
farewell of him.  They expected the same fate themselves at any moment.

However, Barclay was not led to his death.  The escort took him through
a twist of narrow streets, into a house and up a flight of dark stairs.
He was left alone in an upper room, with a heavily barred window,
through which came a hum of wild voices, with an occasional loud,
guttural, excited call.

He crossed to the window, and stood there, riveted.

There was a big square beneath, seething with dark-faced, white-robed
men, all gazing in one direction--in the direction of a raised platform
where a girl stood.  A slim, white girl.

It would have been much easier for Sir George to have faced death than
the sight before him.

Pansy was on the platform.  His daughter!  Standing there in full view
of the wild crowd.  Being sold as a slave in the market of this desert
city.  To become the property of one of those savages.

Barclay's hand went across his anguished face, to try and shut out the
horrible sight.

It could not be true!  It must be some hideous nightmare.

Yet there she was, with white face and strained eyes, meeting her fate
bravely, as his daughter would.  Pansy, as he had often seen her, in a
simple white muslin dress, and a wide white, drooping hat with a long,
blue, floating veil.  Garbed as she had gone about his camp during his
fatal tour.

Even as Sir George looked, Pansy's tortured eyes met his, and she tried
to smile.

The sight broke him utterly, bringing a groan to his lips.

At the sound a voice said in French, with a note of savage triumph:

"Now perhaps _you_ understand what _I_ suffered when you shot my
father?"

Standing behind him was a big man in a khaki riding-suit, a European,
he looked.  For the moment Barclay did not know him for his enemy, the
Sultan Casim Ammeh.

When he recognised him he did for Pansy what he would never have done
for himself--he begged for mercy.

"For God's sake, for the sake of the civilisation you know, don't
condemn my child to such a fate!" he entreated in a voice hoarse with
agony.

"You showed my father no mercy.  Why should I show you any now?" the
Sultan asked coldly.

"At least have pity on the girl.  Do what you like with me, but spare
my daughter."

"Did you show me any pity when I begged for my father's life?  'As ye
sow, so shall ye reap.'  Isn't that what you Christians say?  There is
your harvest.  A pleasing sight for me, when I think of my father."

The Sultan's gaze went to the window, but there was more tenderness
than anything else in his eyes as they rested on the slim girl who
faced the crowd with such white courage.

Now one figure stood out from the surge, that of a big, lean man in
turban and loin-cloth, with long matted hair and beard, the latter
foam-flecked.  He stood at the foot of the platform, and his eyes never
left the girl as he bid up and up against the other competitors;
cursing everyone who bid against him, yet always going higher.

"Look at that wild man from the desert," the Sultan said.  "I know him.
He is a feather merchant.  A miser.  His home is a squalid tent, yet he
has more money than any man who comes to El-Ammeh.  Love has unlocked
his heart.  He will give all his hoarded wealth to possess that pretty
slave on the platform there.  He will be a fitting mate for your
daughter.  Think of her in his arms, and remember the man you
murdered--my father, the Sultan Casim Ammeh, whom I have now avenged."

At the taunts, despite the difference in their years and physique,
George Barclay turned on his tormentor.

"You brute!  You devil!" he cried, springing at him.

With easy strength the Sultan caught and held him.

"You misjudge me," he said; "it's justice--merely 'An eye for an eye,
and a tooth for a tooth.'"

Then he pushed the older man from him and, turning on his heel, went
from the room.



CHAPTER XII

The market of El-Ammeh was situated in the centre of the city.  It was
surrounded by a huddle of whitewashed houses, of varying heights and
shapes, leaning one against the other, with here and there, over some
high wall, a glimpse of greenery--the feathery head of a palm, the
shiny leaves of a camphor tree, a pomegranate, an orange or a fig tree.
On the side overlooking the square the houses were practically without
windows, and the few there were were small and iron-barred.

Under most of the buildings were dim, cave-like shops hung with rare
silks and ostrich feathers, or littered with articles in beaten silver,
copper, and iron.  There was quaint leatherwork and coarse pottery and
a good sprinkling of European goods.

Several narrow, passage-like streets led into the square, entering it,
in some cases, under dark archways.  Sometimes these ways were barred
to the mere public--the poorer people who daily sold produce in the
square--and only those with special permits were allowed to enter: men
of wealth and substance.

Every month a sale of slaves was held in the market, generally of Arab
and negro girls; but occasionally something very different figured
there--perhaps some black-haired, black-eyed, creamy beauty brought
right across the Sahara from the Barbary States, a thousand miles away;
or some half-caste girl from the Soudan, even further afield.

When this happened there were always plenty of buyers.  Men of wealth
flocked in from hundreds of miles around, for any skin lighter than
brown was a rarity.

Within the last few weeks word had gone round the district, blown
hither and thither in the desert, that a girl even more beautiful than
those creamy beauties from the Barbary States was to be on sale at the
next auction--a girl hailing from, Allah alone knew, what far
land--Paradise, if her description were a true one.  A girl with a skin
white as milk, hair golden as the sunshine, and eyes of a blue deep as
desert night; a maid, moreover, not another man's discarded fancy.

For days before the sale, as flies are drawn towards a honey-pot, the
caravans of wealthy merchants came trickling in from the desert.

When the day itself arrived they hurried with their retinues to the
square; some to buy, if possible; others, less wealthy, to see if the
maid were as beautiful as report said.

On one side of the market square was a raised platform.  From the house
behind a room opened on it, a big, shadowy room, whitewashed and
stone-flagged, with a barred window high up near the ceiling.

Into that room Pansy was taken by her escort in a curtained litter.

During the journey to the market she had had the sensation of moving in
some ghastly nightmare from which she could not wake herself, much as
she tried.

It could not be possible that she, Pansy Langham, the fêted and
much-courted heiress, was to be sold as one might sell a horse or a cow.

She had the horrible feeling of having lost her own identity and taken
on someone else's, yet all the time remembering what had happened when
she was Pansy Langham.  She felt she must have slipped back hundreds of
years to some previous existence, when girls were sold as slaves; for
surely this appalling fate could not be happening to her in the
twentieth century?

A riot of thought ran through the girl's head during the journey from
the palace to the market; a riot of numb, sickly terror, the
outstanding feature of which was an inability to credit the fate before
her.

When Pansy reached the room she gave up all hope.  She knew she was
awake--painfully, horribly wide awake, with a future before her that
made her shudder to contemplate.

There were a dozen or more girls in the room, but they were railed off
from Pansy by a thick wooden trellis, like sheep in a pen; brown and
black girls, the majority attired in nothing more than a cloth reaching
from waist to knee.  They had been chattering shrilly among themselves
at her entry, apparently in no way appalled at the fate before them;
but they broke off when she came in, and crowded to the lattice to get
a closer view, gazing at the newcomer and giving vent to little
exclamations of awe and envy and admiration.

Pansy's arrival brought a stout, bearded man in white burnoose in from
the house behind.

His glance ran over the English girl, but he made no attempt to touch
her.  Then he looked at her escort, who had stationed themselves on
either side of her.

"By Allah!" he exclaimed.  "This is a houri straight from Paradise you
have brought me.  Never have I sold such loveliness.  There will be
high bidding in the market of El-Ammeh this morning."

"I, for one, can't understand why the Sultan has not kept this pearl
for himself," the leader of the escort said.

The auctioneer smiled in a peculiar, knowing fashion.

"Our Sultan has been in lands where there are many such," he replied.
"Now he gives his subjects a chance to revel in delights that have been
his."

Other men appeared from behind, negroes.

At a word from their master they opened the door leading out on the
platform.  Then they stood on either side whilst he passed through.

Through the open door came a blaze of sunshine, the buzz of a
multitude, and presently a long declamation in Arabic as the auctioneer
enlarged upon the quality of his wares.

The girls behind the trellis craned their necks to see what was going
on, chattering shrilly among themselves.

From where Pansy stood she could see nothing.  She did not want to see
anything.  The horror would be upon her quite soon enough.

One of the negro assistants opened a gate in the trellis and motioned
to a girl.  As she appeared on the platform, from outside there came a
sigh of disappointment, then guttural voices bidding.

Another and another of the girls passed out, all apparently indifferent
to the ordeal before them.

Then the auctioneer appeared on the threshold.

On seeing him Pansy felt her turn had come, and the world started
reeling around her.

She knew she passed from shadow into sunshine, that dead silence
greeted her appearance on the dais--a silence that was followed by a
din of wild, excited shouting.

It seemed to her that the world was nothing but eyes: the eyes of a
surging crowd of dark-faced men, watching her with desire and
admiration.

To Pansy, high-bred and fastidious, it was a vision of hell, this swarm
of wild men looking at her with covetous desire.  The Pit gaped at her
feet, peopled with demons, any one of which might spring upon her.

Then the din died down to a subdued hum as men whispered one to
another, their eyes still on the golden-haired girl on the dais.  There
was a horrible sort of despair on the faces of some as they thought of
their more wealthy neighbours; lustful triumph on the faces of others
as they thought of their own hoarded gold.

[Illustration: For sale as a common slave at the Taureg auction
block.....]

Then out from the crowd a voice made an offer.

The sum staggered the auctioneer.  It equalled nearly five hundred
pounds of English money.  No girl, even the creamy Barbary beauties,
had ever fetched that amount.

Wild commotion followed.  But the price went up and up, doubling itself
in ten minutes.

To escape for a moment from the sea of covetous eyes, Pansy raised her
own.

There was someone watching her from a window, someone who looked as
tortured as herself--another soul condemned to hell.

It was a moment before she recognised that drawn, haggard face as her
fathers; it looked an old man's.  He was there, the father she loved,
condemned by his enemy to see her sold.

She tried to smile.  It was a woeful effort.  And when the blur of
tears that seeing him brought to her eyes had passed he was gone.

It seemed to Pansy that for an eternity she stood on the edge of the
Pit, waiting until one of the devils, more powerful than the rest,
should drag her in.

The din died down as the sale proceeded, lost in tense excitement.  Of
the twenty or more who had started bidding for her, only three were
left now.  One of them, mad with lust and excitement, had forced his
way up to the edge of the dais and was clinging to it with grimy
hands--a lean man in turban and loin-cloth only, with long matted hair
and beard, who, foaming at the mouth, was cursing his competitors, yet
always bidding higher as he stared at Pansy with the glare of a
maddened beast.

Pansy tried not to see him, but he was always there, horrible beyond
comprehension, the worst of the demons in the hell surrounding her.

Presently, over the murmur of the crowd, came the thunder of a horse's
hoofs; of someone riding at breakneck speed through one of the
resounding arches leading into the market.

Pansy did not notice this.  She realised nothing now but the
half-naked, foaming horror at her feet.

Suddenly another cry rang through the market-place.

Fortunately for Le Breton's plans Pansy knew no Arabic or she would
have recognised that cry as:

"The Sultan!  The Sultan!"

For Casim Ammeh had had his vengeance, and now had come in pursuit of
love.

The cry grew to such a roar of sound that it penetrated the world of
dumb terror in which Pansy moved, and made her raise her eyes.

The crowd in the square had opened up, giving way to a khaki-clad man
on a huge, prancing black stallion.

Across the market-place tortured blue eyes met fiery black ones.

Then it seemed to Pansy that she must be dreaming--a vision of heaven
beyond this hell.

For Raoul Le Breton was there, a god among these demons.  Some figment
of her own creating that must vanish as she gazed.

But he did not vanish.

He came closer, straight towards her, the crowd receding like a wave
before him.  Raoul Le Breton, looking more handsome, more arrogant,
more of a king than ever; sitting his black horse like a centaur.

Pansy's hands went to her heart, and the world started spinning around
her.

Like a knight of old, he had come to her rescue.

How he could have got there she was in no condition to consider.  It
was enough that he was there, in time to save her from the Pit of Hell
gaping at her feet.

He rode ride up to the dais, reining in at her side.

With outstretched arms, he went towards her.

"Come, Heart's Ease, my own brave little girl, there's nothing to fear
now," he said.

Swaying slightly, Pansy looked at him again as if he were some vision.

Then, for the first time in her life, she fainted.

With a little laugh of tender triumph, he caught her and lifted her on
his horse.

As he turned to go, grimy, covetous hands clutched Pansy's skirts--the
hands of the miser feather merchant.

With a savage oath, the Sultan raised his heavy riding whip and felled
the defiler.

Then he rode off with Pansy.

But before this happened Sir George Barclay had been taken from the
room overlooking the slave market.  He did not see the Sultan Casim
Ammeh come in person to save the girl.  He did not know that, in
Pansy's case, at any rate, the auction had been but a pretence.



CHAPTER XIII

When Pansy returned to consciousness she felt she had awakened from
some nightmare and was back in her own world, a civilized world; her
capture by the Sultan Casim Ammeh and all the subsequent happenings
some wild dream, terrifying in its reality as dreams can be.

She was lying on a big bed in a shady room, among sheets and pillows of
finest linen; a solid brass bedstead such as might have come from any
good shop in London, not among silken cushions and rugs on an ottoman.
And there was a bedroom suite of some choice grey wood with a litter of
gold toilet appointments on the wide dressing-table.

An elderly woman, brown skinned and black eyed, dressed in a swathing
of white muslin, was seated by the bedside, fanning herself with a
gentle, regular movement, and the air was fresh with the scent of
eau-de-Cologne.

Beyond the woman--all down one side of the room--ran a series of
arches, over which were drawn blinds of split bamboo.

With the feeling of fragments of her nightmare still clinging about
her, Pansy sat up.

Then, with a rush, came back the scene in the slave market.

"Where is Mr. Le Breton?" she asked in a dazed manner.

She expected the woman to disclaim all knowledge of any such person.

However, she rose immediately.

"I'll fetch him," she said in French.

She made towards a curtained doorway.

Pansy watched her go.  And her gaze stayed anxiously on the spot where
the woman had disappeared.

A few moments passed and the curtains were drawn aside again.  The
woman entered.  In her wake was a big man in white drill, with sleek,
black hair and a close-clipped, black moustache.

On seeing him Pansy gave a little hysterical cry.

"Oh, Raoul, I was so afraid you were just a dream!"

"No, I'm not a dream, but a solid fact," he replied, going towards her.

"Come quite close.  I want to touch you to make sure."

Nothing loath, he seated himself on the bed.

Pansy took one of his hands, holding it in a tight, nervous grip.

"Yes, it is really you," she said.  "In the whole wide world there's no
one who feels quite the same as you."

She had forgotten his coldness and harshness on the occasion of their
last meeting in Grand Canary--his colour, his religion, everything
except that he was there and she was safe.

He laughed tenderly and put the loose curls back from her face with a
lingering, caressing touch.

It was Pansy as he had never known her, frightened and clinging to him.
Pansy as he would have her, looking at him with eyes full of love.

"So, little girl, you're quite pleased to see me?"

"Did you buy me?" she asked in a bewildered voice.

"How else could I get you?" he asked, smiling slightly.  His voice and
touch calmed her a little.

"But _you_!  How did _you_ get here?" she asked.

"You know I'm an African merchant, don't you?" he said easily.  "This
is my special province.  I do most of the trading in this part.  And
El-Ammeh is my headquarters."

"But how did you know _I_ was here?" she asked in a dazed tone.

"You told me you were coming out to Africa.  I heard the Governor of
the adjacent English colony was on tour, his ultimate point a spot some
six hundred miles or so from here.  Some weeks ago the Sultan went out
on a foray, returning with some English prisoners, a girl among them.
There are not many blue-eyed, golden-haired girls in these parts,
Pansy, so I guessed who she was."

It all sounded very feasible.  And Pansy was in no mood to dispute with
miracles.

"He hates my father; that's why he did it," she began in a weak, wild
way.

"Never mind about that just now," he replied.  "Fortunately I was there
to save you."

She clung tighter to the strong, sinewy hand that had snatched her back
from the brink of hell.

"Oh, Raoul, what would have happened if you hadn't come?" she whispered.

"Well, I did come, so there's nothing more for you to worry about," he
said tenderly.

"There's my father.  The Sultan has threatened to kill him," she began
hysterically.

"You mustn't worry about your father, either.  Leave things to me.  You
may be sure I'll do my best for him, too."

Under the tension of the last few weeks and the final reaction Pansy
broke down completely.  In a weak, wild manner she started sobbing,
almost as if her brain had snapped under the strain and relief.

Evidently Le Breton had expected something of the sort.

Going to a table, he poured some water into a glass and dropped a
couple of cachets into it.

When they had melted he came back to the distraught girl.

Seating himself on the edge of the bed, he slipped an arm around her.

"Come, drink this up," he said authoritatively; "then, when you've had
a good sleep, you can tell me all your adventures."

"I daren't go to sleep," she sobbed, "for fear I should wake up in
hell!"

He drew the golden head on his shoulder with a soothing, protective
touch.

"I'll stay with you and see that doesn't happen," he said tenderly.

At the promise, Pansy drank the proffered draught.  Then she lay back
among the pillows.

He held the empty glass towards the Arab woman.  She took it, and would
have gone from the room, as she was accustomed to going when the Sultan
pleased to linger with any one of his slave girls; but his voice
stopped her.

"There's no need to go, Sara," he said.

Then he stayed, smiling down at the worn little face on the pillows,
until the wild blue eyes closed in drugged slumber.

Afterwards he sat watching Pansy in a calculating manner.

Just then it seemed to Le Breton that his plans had succeeded; that he
was going to have all he wanted.  Revenge he had had; love now seemed
within his grip.

A sense of gratitude for her supposed rescue, in conjunction with the
love Pansy still had for him, would be a strong enough combination to
make her forget his colour and bring her into his arms in the way he
wanted--of her own free will.

Yet he was not wholly satisfied, for the method he had used to attain
his ends was not one a civilised person would approve of.

A huddled heap against one of the fluted columns, old Sara sat and
watched him.  From time to time she muttered to herself and cracked her
knuckles for luck and to keep off the "evil eye."

She had seen another Sultan bewitched by one of these lovely white
girls; and she hoped that this girl would prove kinder to the son than
the Lady Annette had been to the father.



CHAPTER XIV

Great stars flashed in a desert sky, a sky deep and soft, like purple
velvet.  They looked down on a sea of sand over which the wind roamed;
and always and ever in its train there followed a sighing hiss,
sometimes loud, sometimes soft, but always there, a constant, stealthy
menace in the night.

In the dark depths, one great curling billow of sand showed, the coarse
grass that fringed its crest looking like spray lashing through the
night.  Beneath, a little yellow fire glowed.  In the glimmer a few
ragged tents stood, patched and squalid dwellings.  Among them mangy
camels lay and groaned and gurgled and snored, with their long necks
stretched along the sand, looking like prehistoric beasts.

Here and there half-naked men and boys slept and gaunt dogs
prowled--slinking, furtive shadows through the encampment, nosing about
for scraps of the evening meal.

There had been no meal for the owner of the caravan that night.  A
hunger that could not be assuaged with food, and a thirst that no drink
could quench, raged within him.  Now a burning lust kept sleep at bay
and sent him prowling like some wild beast into the desert, hoping that
there relief might be found.

But for him none was to be had there.

The blue of the sky was like the eyes of the girl he had lost.  Her
skin had rivalled the stars in its purity.  The very fire that burnt
outside of his squalid home mocked him.  It was golden as her hair.

But for the Sultan that girl would be his.  Now!  This night.  His, to
hold within his arms--that milk-white maid!

He flung his arms out to the night, then strained them across his chest.

But for the Sultan all that maddening beauty would lie within his grip.
His to crush and caress.  His!

The thought was torture.

"Curse him!  Curse him!  Curse him!" he cried aloud to the mocking
night.

Then he stretched grimy paws towards a voiceless heaven.

"Allah, give him into my hands, the Sultan Casim Ammeh, who has robbed
me of the flower of my desire.  That milk-white maid--a houri of thy
sending.  Guide my step to those who are his enemies.  To those who
would break him, as he has broken me.  Surely a man so mighty has
others as mighty who hate him.  There are always kings ready to make
war on other kings.  Allah, most high, let me find them.  Allah, most
merciful, grant my prayer.  Like the wind in the desert I will roam--to
the east, the west, the north, the south--until I find them.--His
enemies.  Then I will deliver him unto their hands."

The mad prayer of a wandering feather merchant against his Sultan; the
prayer of a man whom, in his wealth and power and arrogance, Casim
Ammeh had not considered.

But one which was to bear fruit.



CHAPTER XV

Giving no thought to the grimy wretch out there in the desert, the
Sultan was seated in one of the deep, open galleries of his palace.
Some ten feet below a garden sighed, and the soft wind that wandered in
and out of the fretted arches was ladened with the scent of a thousand
flowers.  Close at hand a fountain whispered, and from the distance
came the gentle lap of the lake.

However, he noticed none of these things.  There was something of far
greater interest close beside him.

Among the cushions of a wicker lounge Pansy lay, her head pillowed on
silk and down, a worn look still on her face.

Night had fallen before she awoke from her drugged slumber.  She had
found Le Breton still beside her, and the room full of the soft glow of
shaded lamps.

Once she was fully awake he had left, promising to come again after
dinner.

She had dined in the gallery.  The roofed terrace was lighted by the
glow coming from the two rooms behind.  One was her bedroom; the other
a gorgeously appointed _salon_.  But at the end of these two rooms an
iron grille went across the gallery, stopping all further
investigations.

When Le Breton came he found Pansy on the terrace.  Once he was seated,
she told him what had happened to her father's party.  Then she went
back to the beginning, sixteen years before, with the story of the
youthful Sultan; but she did not mention that she had been wounded and
ill, for fear of having to meet a host of anxious enquiries.

Without comment he listened.

When she finished, all he said was:

"Well, I suppose the Sultan has his point of view, since it appears
your father was responsible for the death of his."

"But it was my father's duty to condemn him.  He would hate doing it,
for he can't bear to hurt people.  It was not 'murder,' as the present
Sultan seems to think."

To this Le Breton had nothing to say.

"You must let the French Government know my father is a prisoner here,"
she went on.  "Then they'll send an expedition and rescue him and his
officers."

"I couldn't do that, Pansy.  You forget I'm half Arab.  I can't go back
on my father's people."

Pansy had forgotten this fact about him; and it seemed her father's
freedom was not quite so close at hand as she had imagined.

"Could I send my father a note?" she asked anxiously.  "That cruel
Sultan sent him to see me sold.  It must have been torture for him; for
I'm all he's got, and he's awfully fond of me.  I want to say I'm safe
here with you.  I can't bear to think of him in torment."

"Write a note if you like, and I'll see what I can do," he replied.

At once she got up and went into the _salon_ where she had noticed a
writing-table.  The place was more like a hall than a room; a spreading
columned apartment, with walls and floor and ceiling of white marble,
where fountains played into fern-grown basins and palms stood in huge,
gilded tubs.  There were deep, soft, silk-covered chairs and lounges, a
sprinkling of gilded tables, and a large grand piano.

Some minutes later Pansy returned to her host with a letter in her hand.

He took it, and then rose to go.

"You mustn't sit up too late," he said, looking down at her with an air
of possession; "you've had a trying day, and don't worry any more about
anything or anybody."

So saying, he left her.

Full of gratitude, Pansy watched him go.  And her conscience smote her.

On the whole she had treated him rather badly.  She had promised to
marry him, and then had gone back on her word.  She did not deserve his
kindness and consideration.

He had been so cold and harsh that night on her yacht in Grand Canary.
He was none of these things now.  He was just as he had been during
their one brief week of friendship, but even nicer.

Pansy sighed, and her face grew wistful.

Why wasn't he just like other men?  Why had Fate been so unkind?
Giving her love, but in such a form that pride revolted from taking it.

Then Pansy went to bed, to lie awake for some time, brooding on the
miracle the day had brought forth and the black barrier that stood
between her and her lover.

She was about early the next morning and wandering in the garden.

It was a long stretch of shady walks and sunken ponds and splashing
fountains, full of tropical trees, scented shrubs, and rare blossoms--a
tangle of delights.  In one spot she found a tennis court, walled with
pink roses.  The grounds went on, ending in a wide, flagged terrace,
with stone seats and shallow steps leading down to the blue waters of
the lake.

High walls ran down either side of the spreading garden.  Behind, a
huge building rose in domes and turrets and terraces--the palace of
El-Ammeh had Pansy but known it, of which her new quarters were but a
further portion.

Blissfully ignorant of this fact, she turned her steps from the
rippling lake and wandered along a flower-decked path that twisted
under shady trees and creeper-grown arches, coming presently to a
locked iron gate let into the massive walls.

It gave a view of a scorched paddock where a dozen or more horses were
browsing.

Pansy paused and scanned the animals.

One was strangely familiar.

That gaunt chestnut browsing there could only be "The Sultan"!

Amazed at her discovery, she called the horse by name.

At once the brown head was up, and the beast came galloping in her
direction.

Even in the days of her illness and during her imprisonment in the
palace, Pansy had spared a thought for her protégé.  She imagined he
had become the property of one of the Arab raiders, and she hoped his
new master would be kind to him and understand him as she did.

Through the iron bars Pansy caressed her pet.

"I never expected to see you again, Sultan, old boy," she said.  "Raoul
must have bought you, too."

She was standing there talking to and petting the animal when Le
Breton's step roused her.

"Are you pleased to see him again?" he asked, after greeting her.

"Pleased isn't the word for it.  But how did you manage to get hold of
him?"

"He was really the cause of my getting hold of you," he replied without
hesitation.  "I saw him in the possession of one of the soldiers who
had come back from that foray.  That made me doubly certain who the
white girl was whom the Sultan was going to put up for sale."

"Raoul, you must let me give you back all you had to pay for me," she
said.

"Why should you?" he asked, a slight smile hovering about his lips.
"You saved my life.  Now we're 'quits.'  Isn't that what you called it?"

Pansy did not argue the point.  Nevertheless, she determined to repay
him once she and her father were back in civilisation.

"How long will it take to get my father free?" she asked.

"It all depends on the sort of mood I catch the Sultan in.  With the
best of luck, it'll be some weeks."

"Has he got my note yet, do you think?" she asked anxiously.  "He'll go
grey with worrying over me.  I can't bear to think of the look on his
face when he saw me in that ... that awful slave market."

Le Breton had destroyed her message the moment he had reached his own
rooms.  Now he could not meet the beautiful eyes that looked at him
with such perfect trust.

"I expect the message will get through before the day is out," he
answered.  "It's merely a matter of 'baksheesh.'"

At his words the world became quite a nice place again for Pansy, the
only shadow in it now the dark blood in her lover.



CHAPTER XVI

Night filled the harem with shadows and scent.  The silver lamps cast a
soft glow through the huge hall, glinting on wide ottomans and piles of
cushions, on little tables set with coffee and sherbet, sweets and
fruit and cigarettes.

There were perhaps thirty women in the great room, but the majority of
them were the attendants of the half-dozen girls lolling on couches and
cushions around the splashing fountain.

Full length on a wide ottoman Leonora was stretched, her dark eyes
fixed spitefully on an adjacent lounge where the Arab girl lay, her
face hidden in the cushions, her golden form almost buried in her
wealth of black hair.

"See, Rayma, it's night again," Leonora said, malice in her soft,
drawling voice.  "Night!  And still our lord Casim has not come to
visit you."

There was a sob from the other girl, but no reply.

"How you jeered at me, Rayma, when you stole his heart from me,"
Leonora went on.  "But now it seems another has stolen his heart from
you, since he no longer comes to see you.  Another whom I shall welcome
as a sister."

At the taunt Rayma sat up suddenly, with a wild gesture pushing the
mass of black hair back from her face.

"For weeks and weeks he has not been here," she wailed.  "Oh, my heart
it breaks for love of him."

Leonora laughed, but an elderly woman sitting near laid a soothing hand
on the distraught girl.

"Hush, Rayma, my pearl," she said.  "Haven't I often told you our
Sultan has had thoughts for nothing but vengeance of late?"

"Would vengeance keep him away from me all these weeks?  It's more than
vengeance.  It's love.  Love for some other girl."

Rayma clutched at the woman with slim, jewelled hands.

"Tell me, Sara, you come and go at will through the palace.  Is there
one?"

"My pearl, if there was one, wouldn't she be here in the harem?" Sara
answered diplomatically.

"Yes, and so she would," Rayma replied more quietly.  "And I could
measure my beauty against hers."

Then she started rocking herself to and fro, in an agony of grief.

"Did he but come, my love, my Lord Casim, his heart would be mine
again," she sobbed.

Then she stopped wailing suddenly, and faced the old woman anxiously.

"Sara, tell me quickly, have these weeks of weeping made me less
beautiful?"

However, she did not wait for any reply.

Her gaze went to the arches, where night looked in at her mockingly.

"Look.  It is night," she cried.  "And my heart is hungry for love.
For the love of my Lord Casim.  For his arms.  His kisses.  Again it is
night.  And he has not come."

Then through the vaulted room piercing shriek after piercing shriek
rang--the shrieks of a lovesick girl in the throes of hysteria.

As Sara sat patting Rayma's hands and trying to soothe her, she thought
of the milk-white maid with the wide blue eyes and the golden curls,
whom the Sultan himself had brought unconscious to his palace, and who
was lodged--as no other slave girl had ever been--in his own private
suite.  And who treated her master--as no other slave had ever treated
him--as if she were his equal, even his superior, making him wait on
her.  A task the Sultan seemed to find pleasure in!



CHAPTER XVII

On the terrace of her quarters, Pansy sat at dinner with her host.
Three days had passed since her rescue from the slave-market; three
delightful days for the girl, assured of her own safety, her father's
coming freedom and the welfare of her friends.  During the time, Le
Breton had been with her almost constantly.  From breakfast time until
after dinner always at her disposal, ready to fall in with her wishes
so long as they did not entail too much exertion on her part.

She was anxious to be on "The Sultan," and off for a long gallop, but
this he vetoed firmly.

"It would cause too much of a sensation," he had said.  "In this
country women don't ride about on horseback.  We should have the whole
city at our heels."

Pansy had no desire for this to happen, lest the Sultan Casim should
learn she had fallen into the hands of a friend, and snatch her away
from her rescuer, so she did not urge further.  But it was on account
of her health, and not the idea of a crowd of his own subjects, that
made Le Breton refuse this indulgence; for fear she should not be
strong enough to stand the shaking.

He was quite willing to take her rowing on the lake, to play croquet
with her, or a game of billiards; but most of all willing to sit at her
side in the peaceful, scented garden, or in the cool gallery, or the
_salon_, watching her; an occupation that Pansy, with an extensive
knowledge of men and their ways, knew the ultimate end of.  An end she
was doing her best to keep at bay.

But, in spite of everything, she had the feeling of being a prisoner.
The iron grilles at either end of the long gallery were never unlocked;
nor was the gate into the paddock.

There was never a boat at the foot of the steps leading to the lake
except when Le Breton was with her.

She had explored her quarters further.  Beyond the _salon_ there was a
combined billiard-room and library, and its one exit led into a sort of
big alcove dressing-room.  Beyond that was her host's bedroom, as to
her dismay she had discovered on opening the door.  For she had found
him there in shirt sleeves and trousers with a dark-faced valet, who,
on seeing her, had melted away discreetly.

Pansy would have melted away also, but it was too late.  In a perfectly
unperturbed manner, Le Breton had crossed to her side.

"So, Pansy, you've come to pay me a visit?" he said teasingly.  "That's
hardly the sort of thing I'd expected of you."

"I'd no idea----" she began in a confused manner.

"There's no need to make excuses.  You'll find all the roads here lead
to Mecca.  And I'm always pleased to see you," he broke in, in the same
teasing strain.  "If you'd kept your promise, we should be quite a
staid married couple by now.  And you'd be free to come and go in my
apartments.  Think of it, Pansy."

Pansy thought of it, and her face went crimson.

Her blushes made him laugh.

To the sound of his laughter, soft and mocking, she retreated, and she
did not explore in that direction again.

She explored by way of her own bedroom instead, only to find that led
into his study.  And after that she did no more exploring.  For it
seemed that all roads did lead to Mecca.  Whichever way she turned,
Raoul Le Breton was there, coming between her and the man she feared
and hated--the Sultan Casim Ammeh.

"I feel like a prisoner," she remarked on one occasion.

They were sitting by the lake, under the shade of fragrant trees, with
the blue water lapping the marble steps and the sun setting over the
desert.  A gilded world, where a golden sunset edged the golden sand,
one flaming yellow sea above another.

"You're a novelty here," he replied.  "A pearl of great price.  If I
didn't keep you well guarded, there would be a hundred ready to steal
you.  And I flatter myself that, on the whole, you'd rather be with me."

He paused, watching her with dark, smouldering eyes.

"Am I right, Heart's Ease?" he finished tenderly.

Pansy coloured slightly under the ardour of his gaze.

Had he been as other men were, she would not have hesitated in her
reply.  She would have said in her own impulsive, truthful way:

"I'd rather be with you than anyone in the whole wide world."

But now his colour and religion were constantly before her.  And pride
kept any such confession from her lips.

So instead she said:

"No one could have been kinder than you, Raoul.  I can never be
grateful enough."

His kindness had been before her that night when she dressed for
dinner.  Pansy had no clothes except the ones in which he had brought
her.  But, within three days, there was an elaborate wardrobe at her
disposal; the frocks fashioned like those she had worn in Grand Canary.

In one of these dresses she now sat at dinner with him; a misty robe of
chiffon, but there were no diamonds sparkling like dew upon it.  All
her jewels had been left behind in the dim, gilded room in the palace
of El-Ammeh.

When dinner was over, as they sat together in the _salon_, Le Breton
remarked on the fact.

"They've stolen all your pretty jewels, Pansy," he said.  "You must let
me give you some others."

"You've done quite enough for me already," she replied promptly.  "I
can manage without jewels until I get back to England."

At her words his eyes narrowed.

"Couldn't you be content to stay here?" he asked in a rather abrupt
manner.

"For a few weeks, perhaps, then I should be craving change and variety.
'The Light of the Harem' act isn't one that would satisfy me for long."

Then Pansy was sorry she had spoken.  She remembered that he had
admitted to having a harem, probably somewhere in this very house.  But
she had spoken with the idea of letting him see his case was hopeless;
of saving him the pain of refusal.

"Considering how ill you've been, the 'Light of the Harem act,' as you
call it, would be the best sort of life for you for some time to come."

"How do you know I've been ill?" she asked quickly.

Le Breton saw he had made a slip, but he covered it up smartly.

"Gossip told me," he said coolly.

There was silence for a time, during which he sat with his gaze on her.

"Why don't you smoke?" Pansy asked suddenly, anxious to get something
between herself and him.

"When you're about I don't need any soothing syrups," he replied.

He was approaching dangerous ground again.  To ward him off Pansy rose
and went to the piano.  Seating herself there, she wandered from one
item to another, with scarcely a pause between.

But the feeling of his eyes never off her made her stop all at once and
laugh hysterically.

A crisis had to be faced sooner or later.  Things might as well come to
a head now as to-morrow or next week.

At that moment Pansy remembered the man who had held her with such
fierce strength and passion in the moon-lit garden of the villa.  And
she wondered, not without a touch of alarm, how he would take her
refusal.

She got up and went to his side.

"I must give you something else to do than just watching me.  It makes
me nervous," she said.

From a box on a table near she took a cigarette and placed it between
his lips.  Then she struck a match and held it towards him.

In a lazy, contented manner, he let her do it.  But when the cigarette
was lighted, he did not give her time to draw her hand away.

He caught her wrist, and drawing her hand a little closer, blew out the
match.  When this was done, he did not let her hand go.  Instead, he
took one or two puffs at the cigarette, all the time watching her
closely.

"I didn't give you my hand 'for keeps,'" she said.  "I want it back
again, please."

It was hint enough for any man, but Le Breton did not take it.

In a deliberate manner, and with her still a prisoner, he got to his
feet, and put the cigarette on the table.

Pansy did not try to free herself.  The situation had to be faced.

When the cigarette was laid down, he took the other delicate wrist into
his keeping.  Then he drew the girl right up to him, until her hands
were resting on his chest.

"Pansy, suppose I ask you to redeem your promise?" he said.

"Oh no, I couldn't," she answered, a trifle breathlessly.

"Why not?  I'm exactly the same man now that I was when you promised to
marry me.  A much better man, if you only knew it.  Thanks to meeting
you."

"I didn't know anything about you then."

"But you knew you loved me."

"I do now, Raoul," she said.

"Does the fact of my Arab blood make marriage between us impossible?"

There was no reply.

In her silence Le Breton read his answer.

His hands tightened on her wrists, and a baulked look crossed his face.

So the black barrier was one that neither love nor gratitude would make
her cross willingly.

There were some bitter moments for him, as he realised this.  For all
his wealth and power, for all his scheming, despite the fact that Pansy
confessed to loving him, she refused to be his wife.  It seemed that
nothing he could do would bring her into his arms in the willing way he
wanted.

Pansy was the first to speak.

In that crushing grip on her wrists, she read an agony of pain and
disappointment, that her one desire now was to soothe.

"It's not you, Raoul.  It's the idea," she said in a low voice.

"So the idea of marrying me is repugnant.  And yet you love me?"

She nodded.

Loosing her wrists he turned to the table, and took another cigarette.
This, however, he lighted for himself.

Pansy watched him, marvelling at the cool way he had taken her refusal.

Considering the fire and temper in the man and his air of never having
been thwarted in any way, it was hardly what she had expected.  She put
it down to the fact that she was completely at his mercy, alone and
helpless in this barbaric city.  Her heart ached at the thought that
through no fault of his own she could only give him pain in return for
all his kindness.

Going to his side, she laid a slim hand on his sleeve.

"Raoul, I hope you know you're awful nice about things," she said.

He glanced at her.  At the beautiful eyes raised to his with infinite
gentleness in their velvety depths.

And he laughed.

"Am I?" he said.

Then he laughed again.  And his mirth was a mingling of bitterness and
savagery.



CHAPTER XVIII

Pansy saw nothing of her host until the following afternoon.  Almost
immediately after his declaration Le Breton left her.  Most of his time
had been spent in contemplating the truth now before him.  His scheming
had failed.  A sense of gratitude had not made the girl forget his
colour.

After a sleepless night, he was up and away, riding madly along one of
the sandy tracks that served his kingdom as roads, in a vain endeavour
to escape from his chagrin and disappointment, and trying to decide on
his next move.

He was surprised at his own hesitation.  Having failed to attain his
object, he was astonished that he should pause before doing what was
obviously the only course left open to him.  Just take the girl,
whether she liked it or not.

But he knew why he hesitated.

Pansy loved him in her own way, as she might love a man of her own
nationality.  If he took her in his high-handed fashion, that love
might be swept from him.  And the idea was one that he could not bear
to contemplate.

He returned from his wild ride still undecided on the next move.

In this frame of mind he came upon Pansy, in the midst of a solitary
afternoon tea, set in a shady corner of the tennis court.

She greeted him as if the episode of the previous afternoon had never
been.

"What have you been doing with yourself all day?" she asked, as she
handed him a cup of tea.

"I've been trying to ride off my disappointment," he replied.

Pansy, too, had been fighting a battle of her own.  Most of her night
had been spent in arguing with temptation.

She was rich and independent.  Why shouldn't she marry the man she
loved, even if it were going against all the canons of her society?
She was wealthy enough to defy society.  She owed more than her life to
him.  Gratitude as well as love urged her towards him.  Why should she
make him suffer through no fault of his own?  Why should she suffer
herself?  Why should she shut herself up from the man she loved because
he happened to be a--a----

"A nigger."

The echo of Dennis's voice shouted the word at her, as it had seemed to
shout that night in the London hotel, when Le Breton's name had been
mentioned.

Pansy looked at her host as he lolled beside her; a picture of strength
and handsomeness.

She wished his dark blood were more in evidence.  That he did not look
exactly like some of the big French, Spanish, and Italian men she had
seen occasionally in various places on the continent.  So absolutely
European was he that it was impossible to think he was half-Arab.

"I wish you weren't so nice and handsome, Raoul," she said impulsively.

He cast a quick, speculative glance at her.

Perhaps, after all, a little more patience was all that was
needed--patience combined with his own presence.

When tea was over, Pansy got up in a restless way.

"I feel I must do something active, or else go mad," she remarked.

The feeling was one he could sympathise with.

"We'll have a game of tennis then, if you promise to go easy."

Pansy remembered the way he had played that afternoon in Grand Canary.

"You'll simply mop the floor with me," she said.

"I'll play you left-handed."

Only too anxious to get away from her own thoughts and the temptation
they brought, Pansy turned towards the court.

When the game started he handled his opponent carefully, putting the
balls where she could get them without any effort.

At the end of the first set Pansy objected to his methods.

"You're not really trying, you're only playing with me," she said.

"It wouldn't be fair for me to pit all my strength against yours, would
it now?" he asked.

"Well, do make a game of it.  If you go on like this, I could sit down
comfortably in the middle of the court and win.  You needn't put the
balls on my racket.  I can stretch an inch or so around without fatal
results."

The next game was more strenuous.  But, as it went on, Pansy, getting
excited, forgot caution.  A long stretch and an upward spring to
intercept one of her opponent's balls, brought cutting, knife-like
pains tearing at her chest.

The racket dropped from her grip.  She stood, white and swaying, her
hand on her heart.

In a moment he had vaulted the net, and was at her side, his arm about
her, concern on his face.

"It's nothing," she gasped.

"It's that accursed bullet," he said, conscience-stricken.  "When
Edouard extracted it, he warned me you'd feel the effects for some
time."

He spoke without thinking, the sight of her suffering making him forget
his double rôle.

At the moment Pansy was too full of pain to grasp what he had said.

Half leading, half carrying her, he took her to the nearest chair,
settling her there with a cushion at her head.

With white lips she smiled at him; her only desire to allay his concern.

"There's nothing to worry about," she said faintly.  "I'm a long way
from being dead."

"It's all my fault," he said hoarsely.

"Oh no, you always said I mustn't be too strenuous," she contradicted.

Le Breton let it stay at that, aware that he had said more than he
intended to say, and hoping the girl had not grasped all that lay
within his comment.

For some minutes Pansy sat quiet, and, as her pain receded, her
companion's sentence came more to the fore.

"It's that accursed bullet.  When Edouard extracted it he warned me
you'd feel the effects for some time."

From Alice, Pansy had learnt that the bullet had been extracted on the
day she was brought into her enemy's camp.

Then Raoul must have been there!  With the Sultan's forces!

But why hadn't he told her?  Why had he pretended that he only had
_guessed_ she was the girl captured?  Why had he never mentioned Dr.
Edouard before?  Why had Dr. Edouard never mentioned him?

It looked as if he had not wanted her to know.

But why hadn't he wanted her to know?

As Pansy pondered on the problem, mingled with the sweetness of the
roses came another scent she knew--one that had greeted her every
morning during her stay in the palace.

Above the screening trellis of roses, a tree grew, covered with great
bunches of pink flowers, like apple blossom but more vivid, filling the
air with fragrance.

Pansy had seen the flower before; among the blossoms that used to come
to her every morning in the dim, gilded chamber.

"Still only a few flowers, Pansy?"

Le Breton's remark in the orange groves at Telde suddenly flashed
across her mind.  She remembered also his array of Arab servants, how
obsequious they had been to their master on that occasion; and his
wealth and magnificence; a splendour that was almost regal.

Close to where she sat, the tea-table stood.

Among the assortment of cakes were one or two of a kind she had seen
previous to her rescue.  Tiny, diamond-shaped dainties, made from
layers of sponge cake and marzipan with chocolate icing on the top.

Often, in those long, hopeless days in the gilded prison, a similar
morsel was all she had been able to eat for her tea.

Sixteen years ago a boy of about fourteen had sworn to kill her father.
He would be thirty now.  The same age as----!  And the Sultan spoke
French too!

They were little things, but they all pointed in one and the same
direction.  And, as Pansy brooded on them, an incredulous expression
came to her eyes, and, with it, a look as if she were fighting to keep
some horrible, impossible truth at bay.

Her gaze went to Le Breton.

"A great, big, fine man, awful good-looking."

Alice's description of the Sultan Casim Ammeh came back to her.  Words
that fitted her host exactly.

As she looked at him, from the paddock came the stamp of a horse's hoof.

She was here.  Her favourite horse was here.  Raoul Le Breton was here.
All of them in this desert city hundreds of miles from civilisation.
Such a combination could not be unless----

"If I were a king in Babylon and you were a Christian slave.  Or to get
down to more modern times.  If I were a barbaric Sultan somewhere in
Africa and you a girl I'd fancied and caught and carried off..."

His own words came echoing through her head; condemning words.

Then she recollected with what unpleasant emphasis he had said "au
revoir," on parting with her that night on her yacht.

All at once Pansy's miracle exploded.

She wondered how she could have been such a fool as not to have guessed
sooner.

This was the Sultan Casim Ammeh!  This man standing before her!

He caught her gaze and smiled; it seemed to the girl, mockingly.

"Well, Heart's Ease, are you feeling better?" he asked.  "After this
you'll agree with me that 'The Light of the Harem' act is the most
suitable life for you just at present."

It seemed to Pansy that he was gibing her.--At her trust, her belief,
her incredulous folly.

What a blind fool she had been!  It was all as plain as daylight now.
Raoul Le Breton was the Sultan Casim Ammeh.  It was her father's enemy
she had confessed to loving; had wept in front of, clung to, trusted,
displaying a weakness that had fallen to no man's lot, save her
father's.

At the thought Pansy's soul writhed within her.

How could she have been such a fool!  How he must have laughed at her!

Raoul Le Breton had condemned her to the unspeakable ordeal of the
slave market in order to torture her father.

He had done it!  Raoul Le Breton!  The man she loved.

Pansy did not love him now.  She hated him.

For a moment she was too stunned by her discovery to say or do anything.

Then she said in a voice that wild anger stifled somewhat:

"So _you_ are the Sultan Casim Ammeh."

As Pansy spoke she got to her feet, her eyes blazing.

There was no mistaking what was on her face.  She had guessed the truth.

On realising this, he made no attempt at further deception.

"_I_ am the Sultan Casim Ammeh," he said, smiling.  "And, my little
slave, _you_ are my most cherished possession.  More to me than my
kingdom."

His cool confession staggered her.

As he stood there, unabashed and unrepentant, she looked round quickly,
in search of something to strike him with.  For the knowledge of his
deceit and duplicity had made her beside herself with rage.

Since there was no weapon at hand, she set off rapidly across the lawn,
heedless of where she went, her only desire to get away from him.

She had not gone very far, however, before he was at her side.

"Where are you going, Pansy?" he asked with a masterful air.

That he should dare to follow her; dare to call her by her name enraged
her beyond all bounds.  And his words added to her fury.  They made her
realise there was nowhere she could go to escape him.

Like a whirlwind she turned upon him.

"I wish ... I wish I could kill you," she gasped.

There was a tennis racket lying at her feet.  As if to carry out this
design, she stooped and picked it up; her only desire now to send it
crashing into the mocking, masterful face.

But he guessed her intention.  In a moment he had grasped the racket
and wrested it away.

"No, Pansy," he said.  "No one has ever struck me, and you're not going
to.  For I don't quite know what the consequences might be."

There was a brief, tense silence.

As he looked at the girl, it seemed that Fate had decided the next move
for him.

"We may as well come to an understanding," he went on.  "I hate your
father, but I love you.  And you've got to have me, whether you like it
or not.  I'd prefer to marry you in your English way.  But if you won't
consent to that, then--I shall take you, in mine.  The choice is with
you."

There was only one part of his ultimatum that Pansy thoroughly grasped.
And there seemed no limit to his audacity.

"I'd rather die than marry you," she flamed.  "For I hate you.  Do you
hear?  I hate you more than anything on this earth."

He heard right enough, and his face blanched at her words.

Then, before he had recovered from this blow, Pansy struck him across
the mouth, with all her strength, bringing blood to the lips that dared
to talk of love to _her_.



CHAPTER XIX

There was a new slave in the Sultan's harem, a dazed girl who looked as
if she moved in dreams.  She was not reclining on a lounge or cushions,
as the other girls around the fountain were.  She half sat, half knelt
upon her cushions, her slim bare legs beneath her, her hands lying
listlessly on her knee, staring straight ahead as if in a trance.

Since that episode on the tennis court, Pansy felt as if she were
living in the midst of some wild story, in which Raoul Le Breton and
the Sultan Casim Ammeh had got mixed.

The Sultan wanted to marry her.  And she had refused.

Then----!

Then, infuriated with the sense of her own helplessness and his
complete power, she had struck him.

She could see him now, with the blood oozing on his lips, his face
white with rage, his eyes flaming, looking as if he could kill her.
And she had wished he would.  Then there would have been an end of it
all.  She would have done with him, herself, her own folly, and the
hatred that raged like a fire within her.

But he had not touched her.

White with passion he had just stood and looked at her.  And she had
looked back, waiting for the end that had not come.

Instead, three women had come.  And she had been taken out of his
presence.  Through the big _salon_ and along dim passages, past
silk-clad, jewelled guards, and into a little room, with an ottoman and
cushions and a tiny window, all fretted like lace, impossible to get
out of.

Then the women had undressed her.  They were three to one.  It was
useless to struggle: dignity seemed all that was left to her.

There was not much of that even when the women had done with her.  They
put her into a white silk slip that reached only to her knees, and with
nothing more than a strap of pearls on either shoulder.  They would
have heaped more pearls upon her, string upon string about her neck.
But she would not have that.  She tore them off, so angrily that the
slender threads snapped and they fell like frozen tears upon the marble
floor, as her amber beads had fallen that night in his villa!

What a minor thing Lucille Lemesurier was now!  Forgivable when she had
learnt his race and religion.  Not like this gigantic deception.  A
deception that had forced her into saying she loved the Sultan Casim
Ammeh--the man who had tortured her father.

Leaving the women grovelling after the scattered pearls Pansy had
rushed from the room, her only desire to seek some way of escape.

She had gone in her short slip and short curls, looking like some
lovely, rebellious child.

Her steps had taken her into a big room like a hall, where a crowd of
women were gathered; half a dozen of them, girls dressed in a similar
style to herself.

Then Pansy's strength went from her suddenly.

She realized where she was.  In the Sultan's harem!  And she knew there
would be no escape.

Sara had come to her, and had led her towards a pile of cushions set by
a fountain where the other girls were.  And the woman had said sharp
words to the assembly, who had risen as if to crowd around her--words
that had kept them at bay.

When she was seated they had stayed looking at her, most of them with
curiosity and friendliness.  But there was one face that Pansy, for all
her numbness, saw was hostile; the face of a beautiful, golden-skinned
girl.

There was one girl, too, who was more than specially friendly, who said
to her in a soft, cooing voice:

"Where do you come from, sister, for your skin is whiter than mine?"

Pansy did not answer Leonora's question.  She was wondering herself
where she came from.  From another world, it seemed.

It was incredible that she, Pansy Langham, could be a slave in a
Sultan's harem, garbed as these other slave girls were.  Incredible
that only that afternoon she had been playing tennis with Raoul Le
Breton, as she might have played with any man in her own place in
England.

What ages ago it was!  Yet perhaps it was only an hour.  Like a
beautiful dream that had vanished.

There was no Raoul Le Breton.  No big, masterful man whom she had had
to love, in spite of everything.  There was only this barbaric Sultan
who hated her father.  Who, because she refused to marry him, had sent
her to this strange room.  His harem!

And she was his slave!  She Pansy Langham, who had never obeyed any
will except her own.

Her hands clenched.

How she hated him!  He was so supremely master.

Any moment he might come to pick whichever of his slaves he fancied.
And--he might pick her.

The ignominy of it!  Just to be a man's chattel.  And, hitherto, all
men had been _her_ abject and willing slaves.

Heedless alike of Leonora's cooing advances, and Rayma's dark scowls,
Pansy sat down.

The shadows gathered.  The lamps were lit.  Then dinner time came.  A
conglomeration of sweets and fruit and dainties set out on silver
trays, with only a spoon to eat with.

Again Leonora's voice broke into Pansy's broodings.

"Come, won't you eat, my sister?" she coaxed, pushing one of the trays
closer.

But Pansy felt as if she could never eat a bite again.

Rayma ate nothing either.

With angry eyes, she studied the newcomer.

Pansy was very beautiful in her way, but no more beautiful than Rayma
was in hers.  And what was more, she was not perfect.  There was an
ugly red scar on one of her milk-white arms.  And the Lord Casim hated
flaw or blemish on a woman.

Would this new slave's presence bring him to the harem?

If he came----!

Rayma clenched her little white teeth.

Then there would be a battle royal between this white girl and herself
for his favors.  But she would not let his heart go lightly.

Stretched full length on her couch, her elbows on the soft cushions,
her pointed chin in the cup of her hands, the Arab girl lay watching
her rival and waiting.

The evening wore on.  The lamps burnt low, and started to flare and
crackle, without any sign of the Sultan coming.

Presently, shriek after shriek, echoing through the vaulted hall,
roused Pansy from her broodings, making her look round in a quick,
startled manner.  The shrieks were familiar.  Muffled they had reached
her every evening in that dim, gilded chamber.

"It's only Rayma," Leonora said indifferently.  "She has hysterics
every night because the Sultan does not come.  He has not been to the
harem now for three months or longer.  Not since he left the city on
some foray.  She fears some other girl has stolen his heart from her."

Leonora paused, her great eyes on the new-comer.

"Is it you, my sister?" she finished inquisitively.  "For, if so, I
shall love you."

But Pansy had nothing to say.

At that moment she was wondering why Rayma shrieked because the Sultan
had not come.  There seemed to her more reason to shriek if he did come.



CHAPTER XX

On one of the terraces of his palace the Sultan sat and brooded, his
face hard and savage, as he glowered at the scene ahead of him; a
harmless scene where night shadows settled on a scented garden with the
glint of a lake beyond.

Never in his life had such an indignity been put upon him.  Never had
anyone dared dispute his right to do what he pleased.  Never!  Until
this English girl had come into his life.

And she had struck him.  The Sultan!  As if he were some erring menial
whose ways had annoyed her.

Under the recollection the man's untamed soul writhed.

She had done as she liked all her life.  All that money of hers had
given her ideas no woman ought to have.  Now she had to learn that he
was her master.

She was in the harem now.  And there she could stay.  A spell there
would cool her temper and make her more amenable to his wishes.

The trees in the garden sighed faintly.  The soft wind brought the
scent of roses and the splash of a fountain.

His mind went back to another garden, in far-away Grand Canary.  The
echoes of a girl's voice whispered:

"Put your ear quite close.  It's not a matter that can be shouted from
the house-tops."

She had shouted loud enough that she hated him.  She had not whispered
that fact.

A spasm of pain crossed his face.

Why did she fight against him?  This slender, lovely, helpless girl,
whom he could break with one hand.  She fought bravely, with all the
odds against her.  And she had dared to do what no one else in the
place dared do.  What no one had ever done in the whole of his wild,
unbridled life.  She had dared to strike him, fair and square, with all
her strength, across the mouth.

Then suddenly his anger melted.  A smile came and played about his
scarred lips.

Surely no man could be angry for long with a girl so brave and helpless.

He deserved it for his deception.  Just as he had deserved her scorn
and contempt over Lucille.  She was always giving him what he deserved,
this little English flower of his.

More than he deserved, a struggling conscience breathed.

For he had never deserved those three words she had once whispered in
his ear:

"I love you."



CHAPTER XXI

All the following day Rayma waited for the Sultan's coming.  Pansy
waited, also.  By now she realised more fully what she had done: struck
and infuriated the man who held her father's life in his hand.

However, nothing was seen of the Sultan either that day or the next.

For Pansy the days were the longest she had ever spent in her life.

She could not doze away her time as the other girls did, with coffee
and sherbet and cigarettes; their greatest exertion a bath, or making
sweetmeats over a charcoal brazier, or doing intricate embroidery.  She
kept out of their way as much as possible, in her own room, or
wandering aimlessly in the garden, looking at walls impossible for her
to scale, wondering what had happened to her father and her friends,
and what would happen to herself.  But even the garden was barred to
her except in the very early morning, and the brief space after sunset.
If she tried to go at other times there were twenty women to stop her.
The order was the Sultan's, she was told, lest to escape him she should
wander in the tropic heat and make herself ill.

All her meals had to be taken in the harem, and for bathing there was
only the harem bathroom.  That was a vast underground tank, approached
by marble steps, cool and still and dim, its silence only broken by the
dip of water.

There the girls disported themselves several times a day.  But Pansy
was not used to company when she bathed.

And to avoid them, she rose very early, when she was sure of having the
great marble tank to herself.

During the afternoon of the third day the Sultan came.

Pansy was not in the harem at the time, but lying on the lounge in her
own room.

Sara's entrance roused her.

"My pearl, the Sultan is here," she said cajolingly.  "And he desires
to see you."

"I prefer to stay where I am," was the cold response.

The woman looked at her, speculating on the relations between this girl
and the Sultan.  They had once been so fond of one another, always
together.  And now the girl had been sent to the harem, and for three
days the Sultan had not come near her.

"It's useless to resist, my pearl," Sara explained.  "If you don't come
when the Sultan commands, servants will be sent to fetch you."

Pansy had no wish to be dragged into her captor's presence.

Since she had to go, she might as well go with dignity.

However, she did not go very far.  Only just beyond the door of her own
quarters.  Once there she sank down quickly on a pile of cushions, in
her usual position, half sitting, half kneeling; a position that made
the scantiness of her garment not quite so obvious.

At once she knew who the man in the white burnoose was, although she
had never seen him in anything but civilised attire before.  He was
sitting on an ottoman near the fountain, with the girls clustered
around him, fawning on him like dogs round a loved master.

Pansy turned a slender, disdainful shoulder on the scene.

But if she did not look in the direction of the group, there was one at
least who kept a sharp suspicious eye on her.

By the Sultan's side Rayma sat, with her pointed chin resting upon his
knee.

"Why haven't you come sooner to see that new slave of yours, Casim
beloved?" she asked, pointing a slim finger at the distant girl.

"I've had other things than women to think about," he replied evasively.

A bitter reminiscent smile curved his lips as he spoke.  Some words of
Pansy's were in his mind.

"So long as it's 'women,' it's all right.  The trouble starts when it
comes to 'woman.'"

Certainly for him the trouble had started when it came to "woman"; when
this slender, wayward, golden-haired girl came into his life.  For she
had robbed all other women of their sweetness.

With longing his gaze rested on Pansy.

What a fool he was not to take her.--To let her whim come between
himself and his desires.

But there was something more than a girl's whim had he but realised it;
a feeble new self that Pansy was responsible for: the man he might have
been but for his profligate training.

Rayma saw where his gaze was.  To get his eyes away from Pansy, she
took one of his hands and pressed it on her bosom.

"When first I came here, my lord," she whispered, "there was nothing
else you could think of."

His attention came back to her.

"You were very pretty, Rayma," he said a trifle absently.

"And am I not beautiful still?" she asked quickly.

"You're always a picture," he answered.

He talked as if to a spoilt child who bored him.

Rayma hitched herself closer, until her soft breast pressed against his
knee.  But he remained silent, without look or caress, his gaze still
on the distant girl.

He was wondering whether he would take Pansy out of her present
surroundings, or if a spell in the harem might not make her realise to
the fullest her own helplessness and his complete supremacy.

Leonora watched her master, her dark eyes full of joy and malice.

"There are some people who never know when they're not wanted," she
remarked _sotto voce_, and to no one in particular.

Rayma cast a venomous look at her.  But Leonora only smiled at her
dagger-like glances.

"Can she dance, this new slave of yours?" the Arab girl asked suddenly.

"She dances very nicely," he answered in an indifferent manner.

"As well as I do?" she asked jealously.

He thought of the snake-like writhing Rayma called "dancing."

"She dances quite differently from you."

"Let us both dance before you then, so that you may judge which is the
better of us," she said quickly.

[Illustration: "Let us both dance for you, so that you may judge
between us" .....]

However, he vetoed this neat arrangement.

"The girl has been wounded.  And she's still not strong enough for much
exertion."

Rayma brooded on this fact, and the more she thought about it, the less
she liked it.

"Did you capture her on that foray?" she asked presently.

"She was part of my booty," he said, a lingering tenderness in his
voice.

Again Rayma was silent.

Very quickly she put two and two together.

The Sultan had not been near the harem since his return from that quest
for vengeance.  And this new slave had been captured during that foray.

So this was the girl who had stolen the Sultan's heart!  Who had kept
him away from the harem all these dreary weeks.  The girl sitting there
by the distant doorway.  The girl who would not come near him; whom he
watched, yet did not go to.

Rayma scowled at Pansy's back.

Then she turned to one of the women attendants sitting near.

"Fetch that girl to me," she said, pointing to Pansy.

The woman rose, ready and anxious to do a favourite's bidding.

But the Sultan motioned her down again.

"She comes at no one's bidding, except mine," he said firmly.

Pouting, Rayma wriggled closer to him.

"May _I_ not even call her?" she asked softly.

"The rule applies to all here," he replied.

Somewhat impatiently he pushed Rayma aside.  Then he got to his feet,
and went towards Pansy.

His step behind her made the girl's heart start beating violently.

He was coming to issue some further ultimatum.  Perhaps not an
ultimatum even, but an order.

Pansy had wanted to see her captor, to plead for her father.  Now that
he was there, the words refused to pass her lips.  To have asked any
favour of him would have choked her.

"Well, Pansy, are you going to marry me?" he asked.

He might not have been there, for all the notice she took of him.

"Come," he went on, in an authoritative manner, "you must realise that
I'm supreme, and that you must obey me."

Pansy realised this to the fullest, and the sense of her own
helplessness only infuriated her.  Since she had no weapon she could
turn on him except her tongue, she hit at him with that.  And she hit
her very hardest on the spot she knew would hurt the most.

"English women don't marry niggers," she said contemptuously.

The word cut deep into his proud spirit; all the deeper for coming from
her lips.  Although he whitened under the insult, the knowledge of his
own complete supremacy held his fiery temper in check.

"The marrying is just as you like," he replied.  "Forms and ceremonies
are nothing to me, but I'd an idea you preferred them."

There was a brief silence.

With her face turned away Pansy sat ignoring him entirely, leaving him
only a slender white neck, a small ear and part of a rose-tinted cheek
to study.

And the Sultan studied them, amused that anything so helpless should
dare to defy him.

"You've not only yourself to consider when you set me at defiance in
this manner," he remarked presently.  "There's your father, and your
English friends."

His words brought Pansy's eyes to him, fear in their velvety depths.

At her look he laughed.

"Your kind heart has given me some hostages, Pansy," he said.  "But
nothing will happen to them for another week.  I'll give you that much
time to make up your mind.  Not longer.  For my patience is wearing
very thin.  And I've had a lot where you're concerned.  More than I
ever dreamt I was capable of.  In the meantime, my little girl, try and
remember I'm not quite the hopeless villain you think me, or you
wouldn't have liked me, even for a day."

But just then it seemed to Pansy there was no greater villain on earth
than the Sultan Casim Ammeh.



CHAPTER XXII

Early the next morning when Pansy was splashing about in the great
underground tank, a voice made her look up in a startled fashion.  So
far no one had intruded on her ablutions.

It was a soft, purring, malicious little voice that said in lisping
French:

"Now I see why you always come here early.  Why you don't bathe with me
and the other girls."

On the broad marble steps Rayma stood, looking down at her rival
spitefully.

"I come early because I'm not used to bathing before people," Pansy
replied, hoping the other would take the hint and go.

But Rayma did not go.  She seated herself on the steps and stayed
there, her black eyes fixed on the graceful girl in the water.

"Has the Sultan seen those scars?" she asked, pointing a slim
disparaging finger at the network of red marks and ridges on Pansy's
thigh and side.

Pansy flushed at the question.

"Of course not," she cried indignantly.

"When he bought me I stood before him with only my hair for a covering.
And I stood gladly, for I knew I was perfect."  Rayma finished, as if
the fact gave her pleasure.

Pansy had no desire to discuss the Sultan's likes and dislikes.  To
avoid further conversation, she swam out to the far end of the great
bath and stayed there until Rayma had gone.

All that day, whenever the Arab girl's eyes met hers, there was a look
of malicious triumph in them.  And when the two girls came within
speaking distance that purring, little voice whispered spitefully:

"Only wait until the Sultan comes.  I shall find a way of taking his
love from you."

Despondently Pansy wished this would come to pass.  She was between the
upper and nether millstones, her father on one side, her captor on the
other.

Several days passed without anything being seen of the Sultan.  Then,
one night, he came, when the girls were gathered in the harem, drinking
coffee and smoking cigarettes after dinner.  Pansy, was in the group,
and the sight of his big, white-clad figure brought her to her feet
sharply, with a feeling of choking alarm.  Then she stayed where she
was, fully aware that escape was impossible.

He seated himself at her side.

She would have edged away, but his voice stopped her.

"No, Pansy, stay where you are," he said quickly.  "And since I don't
smoke 'bubble bubbles' like the men in 'Eastern pictures and on
cigar-box lids' you once mentioned, you can give me a cigarette, and
light it, if you like," he added, with a touch of teasing.

Pansy did not like.  She stood slim and straight and defiant, ignoring
his request, conscious that all eyes were upon them, all ears listening
to what was said.

Since she refused to do the Sultan's bidding, and since he made no
attempt to force obedience, there were half a dozen pairs of hands
ready and eager to do the task Pansy scorned.

Rayma's gaze rested jealously on the English girl,

"Is it always what she likes, Casim, my Lord, and never what you wish?"

"She has been ill, and I humour her," he replied shortly.

"Ill or not she should be only too pleased to do your bidding.  Are you
not her Sultan and her master?  _I_ have no will except your wishes.
_I_ have no secrets hidden from you."

There was a world of insinuation in Rayma's voice.  And it made the
Sultan glance at Pansy in a quick, suspicious manner.

The only thing he suspected her of doing was trying to escape.  He
failed to see how she could get out of her present quarters, but the
mere idea of losing her sent a chill through him.

"What are you hiding from me, Pansy?" he asked presently.

His close scrutiny brought a flush to her face, not through any sense
of guilt, but because of her unaccustomed and scanty attire.

He saw the flush and his suspicions deepened.  She was capable of doing
herself some injury in order to get away from him.

"What do you mean, Rayma?" he asked, as Pansy refused to answer.

The Arab girl sidled up to Pansy, malice and triumph in her eyes.

"Do you really want to know, my Lord?" she asked, smiling at him softly.

He nodded.

Before Pansy realised what was happening, there was a feeling of cold
steel at her breast.  Totally unprepared, it seemed that Rayma was
going to stab her.  She moved back quickly.  As she moved there was the
sharp snip of scissors, a rending sound, a quick jerk, and her one
garment was dragged from her.  The Arab girl retreated quickly, holding
the silk slip behind her, leaving Pansy nothing but her curls to cover
her; a covering that reached no further than the nape of her neck.

With a heart-broken cry she sank on the floor, and crouched there, her
face hidden in her hands, flushed with shame from head to foot.

Laughing triumphantly Rayma pointed a scornful finger at her rival.

"Look, Casim, look, beloved," she cried, "that is the secret she would
hide from you.  Those ugly scars.  And she bathes early in the morning
when none of us are there, so that we shall not see them and tell you.
For she knows that you would not love a woman so flawed."

The other women looked at Pansy in an unconcerned manner.  Clothing was
of no great consequence to them.  Moreover, it was just as well not to
interfere when Rayma chose to play her tricks and amuse their master.

But he did not look at all amused.  What was more, his gaze did not go
to the slim bare girl crouched on the floor.  He looked instead at
Rayma.

"Give the girl back her garment," he said in an ominously quiet tone.

"Look, Casim.  Look, my Lord.  A girl so blemished is not worthy of
_you_.  Often you have said no woman has a form as perfect as mine.
But look and compare.  Then say which of us is more deserving of your
favour."

She snatched off her own light garment, and stood before him, slim and
perfect, a golden statue, a model for an artist.

The Sultan's eyes were fixed on her still.  But there was no
appreciation in them, only anger.

"Give the girl back her garment," he said again.

"When you have looked at her, and not before," Rayma cried, defiant in
the surety of her own perfections.

"Give it back when I tell you," he said in a savage voice.

A tense silence followed.

The girls and women glanced at one another, and waited for what they
had seen happen from time to time--the fall of a favourite.

Rayma's "coup" had fallen surprisingly, ominously flat.  The Sultan
refused to look at the girl whose blemishes had been unveiled for his
inspection.

Rayma knew it too.  And as she gazed at the cold, angry face of her
master, she saw her star had set.  She threw the silk slip at Pansy who
still crouched on the floor, paralysed with shame.  Beside herself with
jealous rage the Arab girl then stooped and picking up a heavy silver
goblet hurled it at her rival.  Fortunately it missed its aim and went
skimming and crashing along the marble floor.

This attempted assault was the last straw.  A savage, merciless
expression came to her master's face.  At this look Rayma fell
prostrate at his feet.

"Casim, love me a little, and I ask for nothing else," she wailed.

A gong stood at his side.  Ignoring her, he struck it angrily.  Its
musical notes echoed through the room.  A moment later a couple of
negroes appeared in the doorway of the harem.

The Sultan gave a sharp order in Arabic.

What it was Pansy did not know.  She was now the centre of a group of
women who, with brooch and jewelled pin, were adjusting her silk slip.
They were all anxious to gain her good graces, since there was no doubt
now who was the Sultan's favourite.

In her ear Leonora was whispering:

"There's no need to be ashamed, my sister.  Our Lord Casim never once
glanced at you.  His eyes and his anger were all for Rayma.  Thanks to
you, she now feels what I once felt.  And her heart is breaking."

But if Pansy did not know what the Sultan said, the crowd around her
did.  They whispered affrightedly among themselves, and edged further
away from their master.  For the Sultan in a temper was a person to be
avoided.

And Rayma knew what was going to happen.  She started up with dilated
eyes and screaming, then clung piteously to his feet.

"Casim, my Lord, beloved, not that," she cried, her little face
frantic.  "Not that, I entreat you, for the sake of the nights that
have been."

There was no pity on his face, only savagery.  All mercy had been swept
out of him by her attempt to shame and injure Pansy.

The guards returned, bringing whips.

On seeing them Rayma's screams broke out afresh.  Piteous little pleas
for mercy, wild promises never to offend again, that he ignored
completely.  Then she fell a sobbing, golden statue at the Sultan's
feet.

Rayma's cries, terror-stricken and helpless, reached Pansy in the midst
of her own dazed shame, making her glance in the direction of the man
she hoped never to have to face again.

She saw the huge negroes with their whips, awaiting the Sultan's order.
The sobbing, helpless girl at his feet, and on his face a look she had
never seen before--the look of an angered and pitiless despot.

For a moment she stood aghast, not able to credit the scene before her.
As she looked the Sultan nodded.

The guards raised their whips.  And they fell with cruel, stinging
force.

But they did not fall on Rayma.

There was one in the harem who dared come between the Sultan and his
wrath.

The whips fell on white shoulders, not golden ones, bringing the blood
oozing to satin-smooth skin.

The weight and pain brought Pansy to her knees before her captor.

"Raoul," she gasped, "I can't let you do this dreadful thing."

The whips fell from the negroes' hands.  Aghast, they stared at the
girl before them.  It was not their fault the lashes had fallen on the
new favourite and not on the culprit.  But they would be held
responsible, and doubtless beaten nevertheless.  The women and girls
started to scream and wail.  Their master might turn on them for
letting the new slave get within reach of the whips.  But who was to
know she would dare come between the Sultan and a girl he thought well
to punish.

He paid no heed to the frightened stares of the guards, the wails of
the scared women, to Rayma still sobbing, with fright, not pain.  He
had thoughts and eyes for nothing but the girl on her knees before him,
with the red weals on her shoulders, horror and entreaty in her
eyes--Pansy calling him once again by name.

With a fierce, possessive movement, he stooped and gathered her into
his arms, crushing her against him, until she was almost lost in his
voluminous robes.

"My little English flower, you can't quite hate me," he whispered
passionately.  "Or you wouldn't try to keep me what you once thought
me.  You wouldn't try to come between me and the man I am."

With the girl in his arms, he rose.

Scared eyes watched him as he crossed the big hall, and disappeared
behind the silken curtains.

Then the girls started to whisper among themselves.  For the Sultan had
taken this new slave to the gilded chamber of their desires.



CHAPTER XXIII

Through the open arches of the gilded chamber the moonlight dripped,
making silver ponds on the golden floor, filling the place with a vague
shimmering glow.

One bar of moonlight fell on a couch where Pansy lay, her face buried
in the cushions.  By her side the Sultan knelt, one arm across her,
watching her with glowing, passionate eyes.

The last few minutes had been a haze to the girl; a blur of great
negroes with whips; of Rayma, sobbing and helpless; of Raoul Le Breton,
cruel, as she had always felt he might be.

He had come back into her life suddenly, that lover with the strong
arms and the deep, caressing voice, the big, half-tamed, arrogant man,
whom from the first she had liked and had never been afraid of.

"What dare I hope?  What dare I think?" his voice was saying.  "Dare I
think that you don't quite hate me?  Look at me, my little slave, and
let me see what is in your eyes."

But Pansy did not look at him.  She was too full of shame and
confusion, despite Leonora's assurance; a shame and confusion that the
Sultan guessed at, for he stayed caressing her golden curls with a
soothing touch.

For a time there was silence.

Through the room the wind strayed, its soft, rose-ladened breath
mingling with the subtle scent of sandalwood.  Somewhere in the garden
an owl hooted.  A peevish wail in the night, came the cry of jackals
prowling around the city walls.

Under that firm, strong, soothing hand, Pansy's shame subsided a
little.  For the girl there was always magic in his touch, except when
anger raged within her.  There was no anger now, only a sense of her
own helplessness, and the knowledge of the lives he held in his power.

Under the silence and his soothing hand, a question trembled to her
lips, born of her own helplessness and the dire straits of her father
and friends.

"If ... if I marry you, will you send my father and friends safely back
to Gambia?" she asked, in a low voice.

He laughed tenderly.

"If I were as big a villain as you think me, I'd say 'yes,' and then
break faith with you, Pansy--as you broke faith with me.  If I sent
them back, my little flower, do you know what would happen?  Your
English friends would complain to the French Government.  An expedition
would be sent up here, and they would dole out to me the fate your
father doled out to mine."

His words made Pansy realise for the first time that his summary
abduction of his father's party had brought him foul of two Governments.

Horrified, she gazed at him; her father and friends all forgotten at
the thought of the fate awaiting her captor.

They would shoot him, this big, fierce man.  All fire would die out of
those flashing eyes.  That handsome face would be stiff and stark in
death.  Never again would that hard mouth curve into lines of
tenderness when he smiled at her.  There would be no strength left in
his arms.  No deep, passionate, caressing voice.  No untamed, masterful
man, using all his power to bend her to his will.

It was one thing for Pansy to want to kill him herself, but quite
another for other people to set about it.

At that moment she realised that, in spite of everything, she did not
hate the Sultan Casim Ammeh.

And what was more he knew it too.  For he bent over her, laughing
softly.

"So, Heart's Ease, you don't quite hate me," he said.  "That fact will
keep me patient for quite a little time.  And you will be whispering
'yes' in my ear, as I would have you whisper it--of your own free will,
as you whispered 'I love you,' on that sweet night six months ago."

He bent still lower, and kissed the little face that watched him with
such strained anxiety.

"Good night, my darling," he said fondly.

Long after he had gone Pansy lay trying to crush the truth back into
its hiding-place in her heart.  And his voice, tender and triumphant,
seemed to echo back mockingly from the jewelled ceiling.

For surely she could not love a man so cruel, so barbaric, so
profligate as the Sultan Casim Ammeh.



CHAPTER XXIV

The next morning Pansy awoke to find herself back in her gilded prison,
and Alice beside her with the customary morning tea, a dish of fruit
and a basket of flowers, all as if the last ten days had never been.
She knew now the flowers were from the Sultan.  But she did not tell
Alice to take them away.  Instead, as she drank her tea and ate some
fruit, she looked at them in a meditating manner.

And Alice looked at her mistress in an inquisitive way, wondering what
had happened to her during the last few days.

"De Sultan, he no sell you den, Miss Pansy?"

"No," Pansy replied in an absent manner.

"Since you go I lib wid de oder servants in anoder part ob de palace.
Dere be hundreds ob dem," the girl continued, her eyes round with awe
at her captor's wealth and power.

She spoke, too, as if anxious for an exchange of confidences.

However, Pansy said nothing.  She stayed with her gaze on the flowers,
despising herself for having been so upset at the thought of the
Sultan's demise.

That morning Alice dressed her in her usual civilised attire.  In spite
of this, Pansy found she was still a prisoner, still within the
precincts of the harem.  The rose garden was hers to wander in at will.
But the guards were still stationed outside one of the sandalwood
doors, as they had been on the day of her arrival at the palace.
However, one of the two other doors was unlocked.

Pansy opened it, hoping some way of escape might lay beyond.  A dim
flight of stairs led downwards.  She descended, only to find herself in
the harem.

The girls and women greeted her with an awed and servile air.  To them
now she was the Sultan's first wife; the most envied and most honoured
woman in the province of El-Ammeh.

Curious glances were cast at her attire.  Leonora appeared most at her
ease.  For she fingered Pansy's garments with soft, slow, indolent
hands.

"It's quite ten years since I've seen a woman dressed as you are," she
remarked.  "Not since I lived in Tangier, before my uncle sold me to an
Arab merchant."

Pansy knew Leonora's history.  It did not sound a pretty one to
civilised ears.

Sold at the age of fourteen, she had been handed from one desert chief
to another, until finally she had appeared in the slave market of
El-Ammeh and had taken the Sultan's fancy.

"What an awful life you've had," Pansy said, pity in her voice.

Leonora's languid eyes opened with surprise.

"Me!  Oh, no.  I'm beautiful, and most of my masters have been kind.
But none so kind and generous as the Sultan Casim.  Besides, now my
travels are at an end.  When the Sultan tires of a slave, he does not
sell her.  She is given in marriage to one of his officers, with a good
dowry.  And she is then a woman with an established position.  He is
always generous to a woman who has pleased him.  How lucky for you to
be picked for his first wife!  You'll find him almost always kind.
I've been here more than a year and I know.  He is never harsh without
a reason.  He is never hard and unjust like some of the masters I've
known."

As Pansy listened to this eulogy on her captor, she was surprised and
ashamed of herself for having a scrap of liking left for him.  All her
instincts revolted at his doings, but much as she tried she could not
make them revolt at the man himself.

"He was hard enough last night," she remarked.

"But he had a reason.  Rayma would have shamed and injured you.  She
could not see what I saw--that the Sultan has eyes and thoughts and
heart for no one but you now.  She is a stupid girl, that Rayma.
Because he loved her for a month or two, she thought he would love her
for ever.  He was her first master.  He bought her but a few weeks
before he last went to Paris.  And he is so angry now that he will sell
her again, not give her in marriage to one of his officers, making her
a woman of importance."

Leonora's remarks made Pansy glance sharply round the big hall,
suddenly aware that Rayma was not present.  Already she saw the Arab
girl having to face that dreadful sea of eyes, as she, herself, had
faced it.

"Where is Rayma?" she asked quickly.

"The guards took her away last night," Leonora answered indifferently.
"She'll trouble you no more."

Hastily Pansy got to her feet, and went to the big door leading out of
the harem.  She knew what lay beyond; a large vestibule where, day and
night, half a dozen eunuchs lounged.

Seeing Pansy on the threshold, brought them to their feet, barring her
exit.

"I must see the Sultan," she said.

Although she made the request, she hardly expected to have it granted,
for the Sultan came when he felt disposed.

"Lady, I'll inform the Sultan of your desires," one of the guards
replied.

With that he left the vestibule.

Pansy waited, conscious of the servility and overwhelming desire to
please that oozed from these menials.

Before long the messenger returned.

It appeared that the girl's wish was to be granted.  With a negro on
either side of her Pansy was taken through an intricate maze of
corridors, past closed doors, open arches and Arabesque windows, to a
further door that her escort opened.

Pansy found herself in a room that looked more like a sumptuous office
than anything else, with a balcony that jutted over the lake.

At a large desk a man was seated in a white drill suit with a black
cummerbund, who rose at her entry and smiled at her, as if the last
week had never been; as if he were still Raoul Le Breton and there had
been no unveiling.

"Well, Pansy, it's flattering to think you want to see me," he remarked.

Pansy did not waste any time before stating the reason of her visit.

"Is it true you're going to sell Rayma?" she asked in a horror-stricken
tone.

The mere mention of her name made a savage expression flit across his
face.

"What I'm going to do with her is my own concern."

"How can you be such a brute, such a savage, so abominably cruel?" she
cried, distress in her voice.

"Do you know, my little slave, that you're the only person in the place
who dare take me to task about my doings?" he remarked.

Pansy did not know, or care; her only desire was to save him from
himself.

"I shall stay here until you premise not to sell her," she said tensely.

"If you stay until Doomsday, it won't worry me," he replied.  "You must
find some other threat."

Pansy could have shaken him for daring to poke fun at her, when her
only desire was to keep him from slave-dealing.

"How can you even contemplate such a ghastly thing," she gasped.

"As what?" he asked in an unconcerned manner.

"Don't you know that slave-dealing is an abomination?"

"It may be in your country, but it isn't in mine."

"I can't bear to think of you doing anything so dreadful," she said in
a strained voice.

He glanced at her, a soft, mocking light in his eyes.

"Should you like me any better if I didn't sell Rayma?"

"I should hate you if you did."

"I couldn't run such a risk a second time," he replied.  "I'll send her
back to the harem, and keep her there until I can find a suitable
husband, if that'll please you better."

Pansy experienced a feeling of relief.  The victory was easier than she
had expected.

There was a brief pause.  Then he said:

"So you're still returning good for evil, Pansy.  Your power of
forgiveness is astonishing.  Rayma deserved punishment for her
treatment of you."

"If anyone deserves punishment it's you," Pansy retorted.

"How do you make that out?"

"For trifling with her."

For a moment he was too astonished to speak.

"If you call that trifling, then I must have trifled with at least a
hundred women in my day," he remarked at length.

"How can you stand there and say such dreadful things?" she gasped.

"There's nothing dreadful about it from my point of view."

Pansy said nothing.  She just stared at him, as if at some fascinating
horror.

Under her gaze he began to find excuses and explanations for himself
and his behaviour.

"Don't you remember telling me in that letter of yours that you were
not quite the same as other girls, putting that forward as a sufficient
reason for breaking faith with me?  Well, Pansy, I'm not quite the same
as the other men you've known.  To begin with, my religion is
different.  In my own small way I'm a king.  I rule absolutely within a
radius of more than a hundred miles round here.  Then, I'm a
millionaire, and my trading extends far beyond my kingdom, as far as
St. Louis, in fact.  And millionaires, more especially if they're men
and unmarried, are fêted and welcomed everywhere.  And, like kings,
millionaires can do no wrong.  Then I'm half-Arab, half-French, which
you must agree is a wild combination.  Such a mixture doesn't tend to
make a man exactly virtuous.  I've done exactly what I liked,
practically ever since I was born.  Everybody, except my mother, did
their best to spoil me.  She was the only one who ever tried to keep me
in order in any way, but she died when I was ten years old.  At
fourteen I was Sultan here in my own right.  And no one ever dared, or
troubled, to criticise my doings until you came along.  And now you're
expecting me to be a better man than ever Fate or nature intended me to
be."

Pansy said nothing; she still looked at him, trying now to see his
point of view.

"_I_ call 'trifling' what you've done with me.  Promising to marry me
and then drawing back.  I've never trifled with you.  And if you can
believe such a thing, and if you'll try and see it in my light, I've
been faithful to you.  I never had a thought for another woman since
the night you came into my life, until I learnt you were Barclay's
daughter.  Then I tried to hate you, and went back to my old life.  But
when you were brought to me, dead, as I thought, I knew I didn't hate
you.  And since that day, Pansy, there's been no other woman but you.
And you'll satisfy me for the rest of my life."

Pansy listened to him, trying to see things as he saw them, knowing she
ought to be disgusted with him.  Instead, she was intensely sorry
because there had never been anyone at hand to check or train him,
except a mother who had died twenty years ago.

But his speech brought her father's plight before her again.  It seemed
hardly feasible that the Sultan would have sent her letter to the man
he desired to punish.

"Did you give that note of mine to my father?" she asked.

A trifle askance, he glanced at her.

"No, I didn't," he confessed.

Pansy was past being angry with him; she was just sorely wounded in
soul and mind at his doings.

This must have showed on her face, for he went on quickly:

"You can send another and I promise it'll be delivered.  Not only that,
but that your father and friends will be well treated.  Among other
things, Pansy, you've taken the edge off my vengeance."

He paused, leaning over her he said:

"I'm granting you all these favours, but what are you going to do for
me?"

Pansy wanted nothing now but to get away from him, right away, beyond
his reach, but not because she hated him.

"Just for a moment, my little English flower, will you rest upon my
heart?" he asked in a soft, caressing voice.  "There's no savagery left
in me when you're there of your own accord."

He held out his arms, waiting to complete the bargain.  But she moved
away quickly.

"Oh, no," she said, alarm in her voice.

He laughed.

"You've never been afraid of me before, why are you now, Pansy?  Are
you afraid you might love me?"

"How could I love anyone so depraved?" she asked.

But her voice was quavering, not scornful as she intended it to be.

"Depraved!  So that's what I am now, is it?  Well, it's all point of
view, I suppose.  And it's one degree better than saying you hate me."

He turned towards the desk, and drew out paper and envelopes.

"Write your letter, my little girl," he finished.

Pansy sat down.

As she wrote to her father, in her heart was a wish that she had been
left undisturbed in her fool's paradise, that she had married Raoul Le
Breton at the end of a month, knowing nothing about him except that she
loved him.

Once he was her husband, if she had learnt the truth, she would not
have had to fight against herself and him.  There would have been only
one course left open to her--to do her utmost to make a better man of
him.  And circumstances had shown her that in her hands the task would
have been an easy one.



CHAPTER XXV

When Sir George Barclay returned to prison, he was a broken man.  His
officers were surprised to see him back alive, and anxious to hear what
had occurred.  But a day or two passed before he was able to talk about
what had happened.  And always before him was the bestial figure of the
miser feather merchant, into whose hands he imagined his daughter had
fallen.

When he told the story of her sale a strained silence fell on his
officers.  A silence that Cameron broke.

"The damned brute," he said in a wild, heart-broken way, "and he knew
her in Grand Canary."

The fact of Pansy's acquaintance with the Sultan Casim Ammeh, Barclay
had learnt from Cameron in the early days of their capture.  The
younger man immediately had recognised the Sultan as the Raoul Le
Breton, who when out of Africa posed as a French millionaire.

"He's worse than a savage," one of the other officers put in, "since he
knows better."

Sir George had nothing to say, once the story was told.  Pansy's fate
was always before him; an agony that chased him into dreams, compared
with which his own death would have been as nothing.

One morning about ten days after the sale of slaves, one of the Arab
guards brought him a letter.

To his amazement, he saw his daughter's writing on the envelope.

With trembling fingers he opened it, wondering how she had managed to
get a message through to him, with a prayer in his heart that by some
miracle she might have escaped her horrible fate.


"No one knows better than I how you must have suffered on my account.
I tried to get a letter through to you before, but I have just heard it
never reached you, so I am sending another.

I was not sold that day in the slave-market.  The Sultan never intended
to sell me.  He only sent me there and made a pretence of selling me in
order to hurt you.

I am in the palace here, and no one could be better treated than I am.
I asked the Sultan to let you all go back to Gambia, but he will not
consent to that.  But he has promised that you all will be well treated.

You must not worry because of me.  It is not as if the Sultan and I
were strangers.  I met him in Grand Canary, but I did not know who he
really was then--he was passing under a French name.

It is very difficult to know what to say to cheer you up.  I know you
will worry whatever I say.  I am quite safe here, and no harm will
happen to me.  I cannot bear to think of you worrying, and you must try
not to do so for my sake.

Your loving daughter,
  PANSY."


As George Barclay read through the letter, it seemed to him that he
knew what had happened.  The girl had bartered herself in exchange for
his life and the lives of her friends.

He tried to gather what cold comfort he could by keeping the picture of
the Sultan before him as he had last seen him, big and handsome, in his
khaki riding suit, looking thoroughly European.  At least the man who
had his daughter was a king, if a barbaric one, and civilised to a
certain extent.  She had not fallen into the clutches of that grimy,
naked, foaming wretch, as he had imagined.  And the knowledge eased his
tortured spirit considerably.



CHAPTER XXVI

After that interview with her captor Pansy's life rapidly developed
into one long struggle between inclination and upbringing.

She knew she loved the Sultan, but all her standards revolted against
marrying him.  She could not bear to think about the wild past that was
his, but she equally could not bear to think that he might fall into
sin again when hers was the power to prevent him.

What was more, she knew he had guessed her love for him, and was doing
his best to make her succumb to his attractions.

After that one interview she was not allowed out of the sensual,
scented precincts of the harem.  She had no occupation, no amusements,
no books even.  Nothing to do all day except just think about her lover
and fight her battle.

And he made the battle all the harder.  Never a day passed but what he
was there, big and handsome and fascinating.  He would come upon her in
the little walled garden, and linger with her among the roses.  By the
hour he would sit with her in the wide gallery overlooking the desert.
Very often he dined with her in the gilded chamber, and stayed on
afterwards in the dim light of the shaded lamps, watching her with
soft, mocking eyes.

And very often he would say:

"Well, Pansy, have you made up your mind whether you are going to marry
me or not?"

It seemed to the girl that the whole world was combining to drive her
into the arms of a man she ought to turn from with contempt and disgust.

At the end of a fortnight he said:

"Pansy, you're the first woman who has ever fought against her love for
me.  It's an amusing sight, but I'm beginning to wish you weren't such
a determined fighter."

At the end of a month some of the mockery had gone out of his eyes,
giving place to a hungry gleam.  For the girl had not succumbed to his
fascinations, although her face was growing white and weary with close
confinement and the ceaseless battle that went on within herself.

And the man who acknowledged no law except his own appetites, and who,
up till now, had lived for nothing else, loved the girl all the more
deeply because she did not succumb to his attractions, because she had
a soul above her senses, and tried to live up to her own ideals,
refusing to come down to his level.  At times he felt he must try and
grope his way up to the heights, and unconsciously he was rising from
the depths.

"Water can always reach the level it rises from," Pansy had once said.

Although a wild craving for his girl-prisoner often kept him wakeful,
although there was none to stop him, and only a short length of passage
and a locked door, to which he alone had the key, lay between him and
his desire, the passage was never crossed, the door never unlocked.

To escape his presence as much as possible, Pansy spent a lot of her
time in the big hall of the harem with the other girls.  But one by one
they disappeared, to become the wives of various men of importance in
the place, until only Rayma was left.  A quiet, subdued Rayma who
watched Pansy and the Sultan with longing, envious gaze.

"How happy you must be now you are his wife, and you know that he can't
thrust you from him should another woman take his fancy," the Arab girl
sighed one day to her rival.

Pansy was not his wife, and she had no intention of being.  In her
desire to escape from temptation she grew absolutely reckless.

"I should be much happier if I could get right away from him," she said
in response to Rayma's remark.

"Don't you love him?" Rayma exclaimed.

"I hate him," Pansy said, lying to her heart.  "I never want to see him
again," she went on in a hysterical way.  "I only want to escape from
him and this place, once and for ever."

Astonished, Rayma gazed at her supplanter.  Then a look of hope darted
into her dark eyes.

If only this strange girl were out of the way, the Sultan's heart might
return to her.



CHAPTER XXVII

Outside a little French military settlement several ragged tents had
been pitched.  In the largest of them the miser feather merchant was
sitting, cross-legged, on a pile of dirty cushions.  As chance would
have it, his caravan had gone to the south-west, and that night he had
halted within three hundred miles of St. Louis.

With him was an Arab friend, a nomad like himself, who chanced also to
be encamped outside the little settlement.  A year had passed since
their last meeting.  After the first exchange of compliments, as the
two sat smoking together, the new-comer remarked to the miser:

"In your hunger for gold you grow ever thinner and more haggard."

A wild look came into the feather merchant's eyes.

"It is not hunger for gold that has robbed my bones of their flesh," he
replied.  "But another hunger, far more raging."

His friend puffed away in silence, and as he puffed, he had in mind an
Arab proverb wherein it is said that a man can fall madly in love with
the shadow of a woman's heel.

"Then it's the shadow of some woman's heel," he remarked.

"More than her shadow," the miser replied in a parched voice.  "I saw
her before me, as plainly as I see you.  A houri from Paradise."

His friend made no reply.  Considering a woman was under discussion it
was bad manners to ask questions.  He waited, knowing that silence on
his part would be the most likely way of hearing the story.

The miser's bony hands clenched, and his tongue went round his bearded
lips.

"There was a girl I desired," he began presently.  "A milk-white maid,
more beautiful than the morning, with hair golden as the sun, and eyes
deep blue as desert night.  She was a slave, and with my wealth I would
have bought her.  She was more to me than my gold.  But there was
another more rich and powerful.  And he took her--may his soul perish
in hell."

As the miser talked, an amazed look crossed his friend's face.

"And where did you see her, this milk-white maid, with the hair of
gold, and deep blue eyes?" he asked quickly.

"In a desert city, a month's journey or more from here."

"And how did she come to be there?"

"She was captured by the Sultan who rules there.  Allah curse him!"

"So!" his friend ejaculated.

Then he stayed for some moments ruminating on the matter.

"Such a maid was stolen three months or more ago, from a mighty white
nation whose territory lies far beyond the Senegal," he began
presently.  "And that white nation has made great stir and commotion
with our rulers, the French.  For the maid is one of great wealth and
importance in her own country, possessed of undreamt-of riches, a
fortune in gold pieces more numerous than the grains of sand in the
Sahara.  A month ago I was in the town of St. Louis, and the people
there talked of nothing else.  The white officers here search for her
in all directions.  And great will be the reward of the man who can
lead them to her abductor.  And great also will be the punishment of
that desert ruler--even death."

Tensely the feather merchant listened.  Then he started up with a wild
cry.

"Allah be praised!" he shouted.  "For my prayer has been granted.  I
have found those who are the enemies of the Sultan Casim Ammeh.  The
nation most mighty of all on this earth.  And they will break him, as
he has broken me."

Then he darted from the tent, running like a madman in the direction of
the French military quarters.



CHAPTER XXVIII

One day when Pansy was in the large hall of the harem, Rayma came to
her, a look of feverish excitement in her eyes.

"Do you still wish to escape?" she asked, watching her supplanter as if
she could not believe such a desire could lie in the heart of any woman
the Sultan pleased to favour.

For Pansy her struggle became daily more difficult.  It was an
obsession now, her wish to escape from her captor.

"How can I?  Whichever way I turn someone is there to stop me."

"There is one who will not stop you.  Not if he is paid well enough,"
Rayma said, her voice dropping to a whisper.

"Who is that?" Pansy asked quickly.

"One of the eunuchs who guards your room at night.  He loves jewels
beyond all things on earth.  And surely the Sultan has given you
plenty, although you never wear them."

The Sultan had given Pansy none, because he knew she would not accept
them.  But she had jewels of her own; one that would be bribe enough
for anybody--the great diamond that had aroused her lover's comments
one night in the moonlit garden of Grand Canary.

Pansy clutched at the mere idea of escape.  Where she would escape to,
she did not pause to consider.  To escape she forgot his colour, his
religion, his wild life, his treatment of her father, everything,
except her own love for him.

"How do you know he'll let himself be bribed?" she asked.

"One of the women told me.  He is her brother.  I've spent days in
trying to help you get away."

"Oh, Rayma, I can never thank you enough," Pansy said, hysterically
grateful.

The Arab girl cast a spiteful glance at her, wondering why the other
could not guess that it was her, Rayma's, one desire to get rid of her
rival.

"Each night after dark you must open your door," the Arab girl went on.
"There will come a night when only one of the guards will be here.
Then, if you bribe him enough, he will let you pass."

Rayma did not imagine that Pansy would escape.  She expected and hoped
that she would be caught in the attempt.  Judging by her desert
standards, death would be the portion of any slave-girl who dared
attempt to fly from her owner.

After that, every night when she was alone, Pansy opened the sandalwood
door leading into the long, dark passage by which she had first entered
the palace.

Then, one evening, she found only one of the jewelled guards there.

On seeing this, she closed the door again, and going to her jewel case
got out the one big diamond.

From the gallery of her sumptuous prison she had gathered that beyond
the rose garden lay the grounds of the Sultan's own quarters, where she
had spent those three days prior to his unveiling.  During that brief
time she had noticed that, at night and during the heat of the day, the
horses that browsed in the sun-scorched paddock were stabled in a long,
low building at the far end of the scanty field.  And she knew, too,
that the iron gates by which she had entered the palace could not lie
so very far away from the paddock.

With trembling hands and almost sick with anxiety and excitement, Pansy
opened the door of her prison.  She said nothing to the guard there.
She merely held the gem towards him.

On seeing it, his eyes glittered covetously.

Without a word he took the diamond.

Pansy passed down the dim passage.  She hardly knew how her feet took
her along its ill-lit length.  Every moment she expected to meet
someone, or that one of the several doors leading into it would open,
and her flight be brought to an abrupt end.

However, unchallenged she reached the iron gates.

A lamp flickering in a niche close by, showed her that one of the doors
was slightly ajar.  With shaking hands she pulled it further open and
slipped out.

Outside all was silence and whiteness.  Like a sea, the desert
stretched away to a milky horizon.  In a luminous vault the moon hung,
a great round molten mass, that filled the world with a shimmer of
silver.

Finding herself really beyond the palace precincts, took all strength
from the girl.  Hardly daring to breathe, she crept a few steps
further, and leant against the city wall, to recover a little and get
her bearings.  Then, furtive as a shadow, she made her way towards a
long, low building that showed up like a huge ebony block in the
whiteness.

There were others as furtive as Pansy prowling round the city walls;
jackals searching for offal, snarled at her as she passed along,
slinking away and showing teeth that gleamed like ivory in the
moonlight.

The first sound of them made her start violently, for she felt the
Sultan's hand upon her, drawing her back to himself and captivity.  But
when she saw the prowlers were four-footed, she passed on, heedless of
them, until the paddock fence was reached.

To climb over was a simple task.  Then she ran swiftly across the
grassy space; suddenly deadly afraid, not of the loneliness, but that
the stable doors might be locked and she would not be able to carry out
her project.

However, in El-Ammeh there were no thieves daring enough to steal the
Sultan's horses, so the doors were never locked.  They creaked
ominously when Pansy opened them, filling the still night with harsh
sounds--sounds that she felt must reach her captor's ears.

Inside, the stables were vaguely light with the rays of the moon that
dripped in from high little windows.  Fortunately for Pansy's plan it
was the hour for the palace servants' evening meal, or there might have
been half a dozen men in the building.  As it was, there was only a
long row of horses, each in separate stalls.

Pansy knew that if her protégé were there, he would answer to her call.

"Sultan," she said softly.

There was a whinny from a stall some twenty yards away.  Guided by the
sound she went in that direction.

It was the work of a few moments to unfasten the animal.  But to Pansy
it seemed an age.  Her hands trembled as she fumbled at the halter, for
she heard pursuit in every sound.

Then she led the animal out of the building, into the moonlight, and
closed the door behind her.

She was an expert bare-back rider.

Leading the horse to the fence, she mounted.  Then she trotted him back
to the middle of the enclosure, and with voice and hand urged him
towards the fence again.

In his old steeplechasing days, a hurdle the height of the rails had
presented no difficulties to "The Sultan."  And, even now, he took the
fence at an easy bound.

Once over, it seemed to Pansy that the last obstacle between herself
and freedom had been circumvented.

She leant forward, patting her horse encouragingly.

"Oh, Sultan," she said hysterically.  "I don't mind where you take me,
so long as I can get away from here."

Left to itself, after the manner of horses, the animal picked the route
it knew the best; the sandy track along which the Sultan Casim
generally took it for exercise.

For the first mile or so Pansy was conscious of nothing except that she
had escaped--escaped from a love she could not conquer, a man she could
not hate.

White and billowy the world lay around her, an undulating sea of sand
with only one dark patch upon it, the city of El-Ammeh.  The track the
horse followed wound through tufted hillocks, mounds of silver in the
moonlight.  Here and there a stunted shrub cast black lines on the
all-prevailing whiteness.

At the end of an hour Pansy discovered she was not the rider she once
was.  Her months of confinement had left her sadly "out of form."  She
was worn out with the exertion and the excitement of escape.  It took
all her skill to keep her seat on the horse.  And the animal knew, for
it slackened speed as a good horse will when conscious of a tired rider.

Others, also, seemed aware that something weak and helpless was abroad,
and with the strange magnetism of the wild they were drawn towards the
girl.

Here and there in the melting, misty distance, a dark form appeared,
lopping along at a safe range, keeping pace with the old horse and its
rider, every now and again glancing at the two with glaring green eyes,
and calling one to another with shrieks of maniacal laughter.

Pansy hardly heard the hyenas.  She was too intent on keeping her seat.
But the horse heard them and he snorted with rage and fear.

As the miles sped by, the girl was aware of nothing except a desire to
get further and further away from her lover, and to keep her seat on
the horse.

Then she became aware of something else.

For the horse halted and she fell off, flat on the soft sand.

Shaken, but not hurt, she sat up and gazed around.

A little oasis had been reached, where date palms stood black against
the all-prevailing silver, and a tiny spring bubbled with cheerful
whisper.

When the Sultan took his namesake out for exercise, this was the
extreme limit of their ride--the horse had been there once already that
day--and in the shade of the date palms the man and the horse would
rest awhile before returning to the city.

But Pansy knew none of these things.  She only knew that valuable time
was being lost sitting there on the ground.  But it was such an effort
to get up.

Green eyes had seen her fall as if dead.  The hyenas crept stealthily
forward to feast upon what lay helpless in the sand.  But when she sat
up they retreated, to squat on their haunches at a safe distance, and
fill the night with demoniacal laughter.

The sound brought Pansy to her feet, swaying with fatigue.  She had
heard it before, around her father's camp in Gambia.

But it was one thing to hear the hyenas when there were thirty or more
people between herself and them, and another now that she was quite
alone in the desert, with no one to come to her aid.

The chorus of mad, mocking mirth brought fear clutching at her, a fear
that the horse's wild snorts increased.  She looked round sharply to
find there were at least a dozen of the brutes on her trail.

It was not Pansy's nature to show fear, even though she felt it.

Going to the spring, she picked up several large stones, and threw them
at the hyenas.

A note of fear crept into their hideous voices.  They beat a swift
retreat, melting away into distance.  There was too much life left in
the girl and horse for them to attack as yet.

Gathering her tired self together Pansy looked round for a rock high
enough to enable her to mount by.  As it happened there was none handy.
Taking her horse by the mane, she led him from the oasis.  Somewhat
protestingly he went.

Pansy had to stagger on for nearly a mile on foot, in the deep,
fatiguing sand, before she could find a tussock high enough to mount by.

Once on, she left the route to her horse.

To the uninitiated, one portion of the desert looks very similar to
another.  And the girl had no idea that the horse was retracing his
steps, making his way slowly and laboriously back to El-Ammeh.

She had not the strength left even to look around her.  The hot night,
the long ride, the sickly excitement attached to escaping, the thirst
that now raged within her, and the final tiring walk, after months of
inactivity, had told upon her.  Utterly worn out, she just managed to
keep her seat, in a world that had become a place of aching weariness,
through which there rang occasional wild shrieks of laughter.

Then it became impossible to cling on any longer.

All at once, she fell off and stayed in the sand, half stunned by her
fall, conscious of nothing except that she had escaped from the Sultan
Casim Ammeh.

When she fell the horse stopped.  He stretched a long neck and sniffed
and sniffed at her.  But since she did not get up, he did not leave
her.  He waited until she was ready to start off again, quite glad of
the rest himself.

However, there was not to be much rest for him.

A shriek of diabolical laughter rang out at his very heels.  With a
snort of fear and rage, he lashed out.  The laughter turned into a howl
of pain, and one of the hyenas retreated on three legs, with a broken
shoulder.

But there were twenty or more of them now, against one old horse and a
girl too utterly exhausted to know even that her life was in danger.
And each of the hyenas had a strength of jaw that could break the thigh
of an ox, and a cowardice of heart equalled only by their strength.

For sometime they circled round, watching their prey with ravenous,
glaring green eyes, and every now and again one or the other made a
forward rush, only to find those iron heels between it and its meal.
The horse understood being baited in this manner, by foes just beyond
his reach.  It had been part of the hell the girl he guarded had
rescued him from.

As time went on, the hyenas grew bolder.

Once they rushed in a body.  But they retreated.  One with a broken
jaw, one with a mouthful of live flesh torn from "The Sultan's" flank,
and one did not retreat at all.  It lay with its skull smashed in, its
brains bespattering the horse's hoofs--hoofs over which now a red
stream oozed, filling the hot night air with the smell of live blood.

A desperate battle raged in the lonely desert under the white light of
the moon.  A battle that filled the night with the mad mirth of hyenas,
and the wild shrieks of a frightened, hurt, infuriated horse--"The
Sultan"--fighting as he had fought that day in the East End of London
when Pansy had first come across him.  But fighting for her life as
well as his own, against the cowards that beset him.



CHAPTER XXIX

The sound of that desperate conflict rang through the stillness of the
night, reaching the ears of a man who was riding at break-neck speed
along the sandy track leading in the direction of the oasis.  Those
diabolical shrieks of laughter filled him with a torture of mind almost
past bearing.  In them he heard the voices of hyenas mangling the girl
he loved.

Le Breton had always known Pansy would run away if an opportunity
occurred.  But he had imagined that he had made escape impossible.

After dinner, he went to the gilded room, to pay an evening visit to
his prisoner, since business affairs had kept him from dining with her.

However, she was not there.

Experience had taught him that it would be no use looking for her in
the moonlit, rose-scented garden.  She never went there after sunset,
for fear he should come across her, and the beauty and romance of it
all, combined with his presence, should force the surrender he was
waiting for.

Not finding Pansy in her own private quarters, he went into the big
hall of the harem, only to be told she had not been there since well
before dinner.

On learning this he set the women searching in every corner of the
harem.  But Pansy was nowhere to be found.

Beyond a doubt, she had managed to escape.  For a moment the news dazed
him.  He did not waste time in trying to discover how she had escaped,
or who was responsible for her getting away.  She had gone.  That one
fact glared at him.  No one knew better than the Sultan himself the
dangers awaiting the girl once she strayed beyond his care.

Within a few minutes all his servants and soldiers were out looking for
the fugitive, scouring the city, with threats of the dire fate awaiting
anyone who dared either hide or injure the Sultan's wife.

A hasty search brought no trace of the girl, but one of the search
parties learnt that a horse was missing from the royal stables.

On hearing this the Sultan went at once to the stables, looking for a
clue there.  The missing horse was Pansy's.  The discovery sent a
sudden glow of hope coursing through him.  It argued that somehow or
other she had managed to reach the stables and had set out into the
desert.

The Sultan understood horses, even better, it seemed to him now, than
he understood women.  Left to its own devices the old horse would go
the way it knew the best; the way he generally took it.  And left to
itself it was almost certain to be, since its rider had no knowledge of
any of the sandy tracks that lay around the city.

Within a few moments he was on the swiftest of his own horses, riding
with all speed towards the oasis; but not before leaving orders with
his officers to scour the desert in every direction.

He had ridden perhaps five miles when into the stealthy hiss of the
sand another sound came.  At first so far away that it was but a
distant moan in the night.  As he tore on rapidly it grew louder,
developing into a chorus of hideous laughter, the cry of hyenas howling
round their prey.

Desert reared, instinctively he knew there must be at least twenty of
them.

When, above the mêlée he heard the terrorized screams of a horse, a
deadly fear clutched him.  Where the horse was, the girl was.  And the
sound told him the two had been attacked.

Around Pansy the ghastly conflict was raging.  Around her mangled
corpse, perhaps.

He suffered all the tortures of the damned, as with spur and crop he
urged the great stallion onwards, until the animal was a lather of
sweat and foam.

The hyenas heard the throb of those approaching hoofs, and fear gripped
their cowardly hearts.

The disconcerting noise grew speedily louder.  On the whiteness of the
lonely desert a dark patch appeared; a patch that rapidly became bigger
and headed straight towards them.

It was one thing to attack a tired old horse and a half-stunned girl,
but another to face a huge black stallion and the big man in the white
burnoose who rode it.

The hyenas did not face the combination.  With a weird howl of
disappointment, they turned tail suddenly and scuttled away into the
desert, leaving the old horse shivering with relief and pain and
exhaustion.

The feeling of someone touching her made Pansy open her eyes.  Into her
hazy world her captor's face intruded.  He was half-kneeling on the
sand beside her, examining her limbs, feeling her heart, to see if she
were injured in any way.

For a moment Pansy could not believe her eyes.

Then she put out a weak hand to push him away.  But a push did not
remove him.  He was still there, in white cloak and hood; a desert
chief who wanted to marry her.  Big and solid he knelt beside her, a
fact not to be escaped from.  And his hand was on her bosom as if to
steal the heart she would not give him.

Satisfied Pansy was not hurt in any way, the Sultan got to his feet,
and turned towards the horse.  It needed more attention than the girl.

He petted and patted the worn-out shivering animal, talking to it in a
deep, caressing voice, as he bound up its gaping wounds with lengths
torn from his own white garments.

Then he lifted the girl on his own horse, and, mounting himself, set
out on a slow walk towards his city.

Pansy made a feeble struggle when she found herself in his arms, her
head resting against his shoulder, held in a tight, possessive grip.

"So, little flower, you would still try to escape from me," he said in
a fierce, fond manner.  "But I don't let love go so lightly."

He ignored her struggles as he talked to and encouraged the old horse
that hobbled along by their side, with stiff, painful steps.

As the slow journey went on, Pansy fell asleep against the strength
that held her.

The Sultan was quick to note this, and he smiled at the small tired
face on his shoulder.  He knew the nature of the girl he held.  It
would be impossible for her to go to sleep in any man's arms except
those of the man she loved.  She was very foolish to fight against him,
but fight she would until he used his strength and ended the battle.
An uneven contest the last round would be, with no doubt as to who
would be the victor.



CHAPTER XXX

On a wide ottoman in her room Pansy lay.  The golden lamps were burning
low, casting black shadows on the gilded walls of her cage.  Through
the open arches the moonlight streamed, pouring in from a misty, mystic
world where trees sighed vaguely in a silvered air.

Early that morning the Sultan had brought Pansy back to the palace.
Since then she had seen nothing of him.

She brooded on her attempt to escape, which had only ended in her being
more of a prisoner than ever.  The guards about the entrance of her
quarters had been doubled.  The door leading into the harem was locked.
Alice had been removed, her place taken by an Arab woman who would not
or could not understand a word Pansy said to her.

Sleepless she lay among the silken cushions, brooding on the life that
had once been hers; a life so remote from her present one that it might
never have been.

It was impossible to believe that far beyond this desert city there lay
a place called London, where she had been free as air, where she could
come and go as she pleased, where she had dined and danced and lunched
and visited.  A world of dreams, remote, unreal, lost to her for ever,
where she had been Pansy Langham, fêted and courted, with society at
her feet.  Now she was a sultan's slave, a chattel, her very life
dependent on a barbaric ruler's whim.

On what punishment would be doled out to her for her attempt to get
away, she next brooded.  There had been such a set, determined
expression on her captor's face when he brought her back to her prison.

The sound of someone coming towards her apartment broke in on her
dreary reverie.  It was close on midnight.  She had never been
disturbed at that hour before.

She looked up quickly.

The third door of her room was opening; one that had never opened
before; a door the harem girls had told her led to the Sultan's private
suite.  And the Sultan, himself, was entering.  The Sultan attired as
she had never seen him before--in silk pyjamas.

Pansy started to her feet.  She stood slight and white and silken-clad
against the golden walls; her heart beating with a sickly force that
almost choked her; her eyes wide with fear.

The end had come with a suddenness she was not prepared for.

He crossed to her side; tenderness and determination on his face; love
and passion in his eyes.

For a moment there was silence.

"So, Pansy," he said at length.  "You've tried to solve the problem
your way.  Now I'm going to solve it mine.  You've fought against love
quite long enough, against yourself and against me.  I'm going to end
the fight between us.  To-night, my little slave, you sleep within my
arms and learn all that love means."

At his words a flood of crimson swept over her strained face.  She had
but a vague idea of what was before her, but instinct told her it was
something she must fight against.

Her gaze went to the arches, as if in search of some way of escape
there.  There was none.  Only the white stars looked in coldly, and
night breathed on her, soft and sensuous.

He knew where her thoughts were, and he laughed softly.

"There's no escape this time, Pansy," he said.

The fear in her eyes deepened.  Wildly she searched round in her head
for a way of getting rid of him for the time being.  And only one
course presented itself.

"I ... I'll marry you," she stammered.

"We'll be married by all means, if you wish, as soon as I can find a
man to do the job.  But you've been just a little too long in making up
your mind.  My patience is worn out."

In her determination to live up to her own standards--standards that
had no value in this desert city:--Pansy saw she had tried this
half-tamed man too far.

He came closer, and held out his arms.

"Come, my little flower," he whispered passionately.

Quickly she moved further away from the arms that would have held her.

"Won't you come willingly?" he asked, in soft, caressing tones.  "Do
you still refuse me the love I want, and which I know is mine?"

"I don't want you or your love," she cried wildly, frantic at the
knowledge of her own helplessness.

He laughed with a touch of fierceness.

"What cruel words to throw at your lover!  But since you won't come, my
little slave, then--I must take you."

He would have taken her there and then, but with a swift movement she
avoided him.

Then Pansy ran, as she had run from him once before, like a white
wraith in the moonlight.  But this time he followed.

There were no electric lights and ragtime band to run to now.  Only a
moonlit garden full of the scent of roses.  There was no crowd of
people to give her shelter, only the deep shadows of the cypresses.

In the darkness she paused, out of breath, hoping he would not see her.
A vain hope.  His eyes had learnt to pierce the gloom.  She was in his
arms almost before she knew it.

There was a brief, uneven struggle, as Pansy fought against a man who
knew no law except his own desires.

Weak and weeping she collapsed against him, on a heart that leapt to
meet her.

There was a stone seat near.  On it the Sultan seated himself, the girl
in his arms.  And in the scented, sighing silence he tried to soothe
the tears his methods had roused.

And trembling she lay against the passion and power that held her,
refusing to be comforted.

"There's nothing to weep about, my darling," he whispered.  "Sooner or
later you have to learn that I'm your master.  Just as you've taught me
that all women are not ripe fruit, willing and anxious to fall into my
hands.  And I must have some closer tie between us since love alone
won't keep you from running away from me."

Pansy's tears fell all the faster.  For now it seemed her own doings
were responsible for this crisis.

He sat on, waiting until the storm was over.

The tremors of the slight form that lay against his heart, so helpless
yet so anxious not to do wrong, struck through the fire and passion in
the man, to what lay beneath--true love and protection.

Presently he kissed the strained, tear-stained face pillowed against
his shoulder.

"It's like old times to be sitting in the moonlight and among the
roses, with you in my arms," he said, all at once.

"Do you remember, Pansy, that sweet night in Grand Canary?  But you
were not weeping then.  Why are you now, my little slave?  Because a
Sultan loves you more than his life?  More than anything that has been
in his life.  You're not very flattering.  But then, you never were."

He paused for a moment, watching her tenderly.

"Yet you paid me the greatest compliment I ever had in my life.  When
you said you loved me.  There could be no sweeter music that those
words.  And the choicest gift life has ever given me was a kiss from
your lips, given willingly."

He bent his head.

"Won't you give me another, Pansy?"

But the girl's strained face was turned away from the proud, passionate
one so close to her own.

"No, my little flower?  Will you make a thief of your Sultan?  Will you
give him nothing willingly now?  I know I don't deserve it.  But
still--I want it.  And my wants have been my only law so far."

Again he paused, stroking her curls with a loving hand.

"Just now, as man and woman together, Pansy, I know I don't deserve
you.  I know I'm not worthy of you.  But I want my soul, although I've
only a blackened body to offer it.  And the soul will have to do the
best it can with the grimy accommodation.  For I must have you, my
darling.  You've taken everything out of my life, but a desire for you."

From a tangle of trees in an adjacent garden a nightingale burst into
song, filling the night with liquid melody.  At the sound the Sultan's
arms tightened around the slender figure he held.

"No man appreciates virtue so much as the one who has had his fill of
vice," he continued presently.  "And I was born into it, steeped and
sodden in it from my earliest recollection, until I didn't realise it
was vice until I met you.  And then it seemed to me I had run off the
lines, and pretty badly."

As he sat talking and caressing her, Pansy's sobs died down.  There was
always magic in his touch, happiness within his arms.  With throbbing
heart she lay against him, watching him anxiously.

He smiled into the tired, purple eyes.

"No, perhaps, I won't be a thief," he said.  "Perhaps I shall climb up
and up with many a stumble to the clear heights where you are, my
darling.  What would you say if you saw me there?  'Here is a poor
wretch who has climbed painfully upwards to touch the feet of his
ideal,' you would say to yourself.  And to me you would say, 'As a
reward, will you come and have breakfast with me?'  And I should come,
like a shot.  And I should want lunch and tea and dinner and--you.
Just you, my soul, always and for ever."

After this outburst, he was quiet.

Passive within his arms Pansy waited for the last hopeless struggle for
right against wrong.

He sat on, as if at peace with himself and the world.  The restless
look that always lurked in his eyes had gone; in its place was one of
happiness and contentment.

Pansy's shivers roused him from his reverie.  Not shivers of fear, but
of chilliness.  A heavy dew had started falling, bringing a sudden
coolness into the night.

"Why, Heart's Ease," he said, full of concern.  "I'm keeping you out
here when you ought to be indoors.  But with you in my arms, I forget
everything but you."

Getting to his feet, he took her back to the gilded room.  The lamps
had burnt out.  It was a place of deep shadows, and here and there the
silver of the moon patched its golden richness.

Once within its dimness Pansy started struggling again.

He took the slim white hands into one of his own, and kissed them.

"There's no need for you to fight against me with weak little hands,"
he whispered.  "There's another fighting for you, far stronger than you
are.  A new Raoul Le Breton of your making, Pansy.  A man strong enough
to wait until we're really married."

Laying his burden on a couch, he bent his head until his ear almost
touched the girl's lips.

"Say 'Yes,' Pansy, and I'll go, 'nicely and quietly like a good boy,'
still remembering 'your reputation,'" he said in a teasing tone.

Into his ear "Yes" trembled.

He kissed the lips that at last had consented to his wishes.

"Good night, my little girl, and if you go on at this rate you'll make
a white man of me yet."

Long after he had gone Pansy stayed brooding on his words.  The battle
between them was over at last.



CHAPTER XXXI

On one of the terraces of his palace the Sultan sat at breakfast.  As
he lingered in the sweet cool air of early morning, he pondered on the
happenings of the night before.

At last he had wrung a reluctant consent from his cherished prisoner.

There was a flaw in his victory that he tried not to see.  That "Yes"
would not have come except that the girl had been absolutely cornered.
The word had not come from her lips spontaneously as those three words,
"I love you," had.

He tried to forget this fact, as he thought out the best means of
bringing about a speedy wedding.

There was no minister of her faith in El-Ammeh.  The nearest Christian
Mission lay at least two hundred miles distant.  It would be risky work
bringing a white missionary to his city.  The safest course would be to
take her down to a mission station and marry her there.  No one would
know then where they had come from.  And the journey back would make a
delightful honeymoon.

On the delights of that honeymoon he pondered.

From his reverie he was rudely aroused by a sound which made marriage
seem very remote, and death much more likely to be his portion.

There was a sudden shriek high above the city, followed by a deafening
roar, as a shell exploded over El-Ammeh--a command for its surrender.

The Sultan started to his feet, his face reckless and savage.  The cup
was at his lips only to be dashed away.

He knew what had happened.

Somehow or other the French Government must have heard that he was
responsible for the capture of the English Governor; and an expedition
had been sent up to punish him for his marauding ways.

That same death-dealing sound startled Pansy as she stood by the sunken
pond in the rose garden, feeding the carp.  Wondering what had
happened, she looked up at the smoke that lay like a little cloud
between the city and the sky.

She did not wonder for very long.

Present another shell came shrieking out of the distance.

Then she guessed what had occurred, and her face blanched.

Swiftly she went to her room; her only idea to reach the Sultan and
save him from his enemies.

But all the doors of her prison were locked, and neither knocks nor
shouts produced any answer.

She went back to the fretted gallery, to see what could be seen from
there.

A mile or so away, like a dark snake on the desert, she saw the relief
party.  As she watched, a white-robed force left El-Ammeh; an array of
Arab soldiers.  On recognising their leader, her soul went sick within
her.

He was there.  Her lover.  The man she ought to hate.  Going out to
fight the men who had come to her rescue.

If the French officers heading the expeditionary force imagined the
Sultan of El-Ammeh had come out to surrender, they quickly discovered
their mistake.

He had come out to fight; and what was more, fight well and recklessly
against a force that, if inferior in numbers, was vastly superior in
arms.

Presently the shells no longer shrieked above El-Ammeh.  They were
aimed at it.

From her gallery Pansy saw the two forces meet.

Then she could look no longer.  Men fell in the sand and rose no more.
And any one of them might be her lover.

She went back to her room and crouched there in terror; her father and
friends all forgotten at the thought of the man who might be lying dead
in the sand.

As the morning wore on, the din of battle grew nearer.  Every now and
again a shell got home.  There were screams of terrified people; the
heavy fall of masonry; the moans and cries of the injured.

Once Pansy thought her end had come.

A shell struck the palace.  The place rocked to its foundations.  There
was the thunder of falling masonry as if the four walls of her room
were crashing down upon her.

She closed her eyes and waited.

A few moments later she opened them, and was surprised to find her
gilded prison very little damaged.  It was badly cracked, and several
blocks of stone had crashed down from the ceiling, one on the
sandalwood bureau near where she crouched, smashing it to splinters and
scattering the contents about her feet.

More than once Pansy had rummaged in its scented recesses, until she
knew its contents by heart.  She had found nothing but a few quills,
sheets of paper yellow with age, and quaint, cut-crystal bottles in
which the coloured inks had dried.  She knew the desk had belonged to
the Sultan's mother.  Just as she knew the gilded room had been the
French girl's prison.

As she gazed at the debris at her feet, it seemed she could not have
searched thoroughly.  Among the splinters was something she had not
seen before.  A few sheets of paper folded flat and tied with a strand
of silk, that must have been hidden behind one of the many drawers.

More to get her thoughts away from the battle raging round her than
anything else, Pansy picked up the tiny packet.  Untying the silk, she
opened the faded, scented sheets and glanced at them.

After the first glance, she stayed riveted.  And as she read on, she
forgot everything except what the letter said.

It was in French, in a woman's hand, and the date was now more than
twenty years old; a statement written by Annette Le Breton before she
died, proclaiming her son's real identity, and left by her in the
bureau.  Some servant rummaging in the desk for trinkets, after her
mistress's death, must have let it slip behind one of the numerous
drawers.

Pansy read of Colonel Raoul Le Breton's ill-fated expedition to the
north-east; how he and his little force had been murdered by the Sultan
Casim Ammeh.  She learnt of Annette Le Breton's fate at the hands of
her savage captor.  Of the son who had come nearly nine months after
her husband's death--the son the Sultan Casim Ammeh imagined to be his.


"Raoul is not the son of the Sultan Casim Ammeh," the faint handwriting
declared.  "He is the son of my murdered husband, Colonel Raoul Le
Breton.  I know, for every day he grows more like his dear, dead
father.  Yet he imagines the Sultan to be his father.  And I dare not
tell him the truth.  For if the Sultan learnt the boy was not his, he
would kill him.  For Raoul's sake I must let the deception go on.  For
the sake of my son who is all I have to live for.  And my heart breaks,
for daily my boy grows more and more to love that savage chief who
murdered his real father."


Pansy read of Annette's dreary years in the harem of her captor.


"Years that have no light in them, save my son.  Years that I should
not have endured except for my child, my boy, the son of my brave
Raoul."


It was a heart-breaking story of love and sacrifice, of a mother
tortured to save her child from the fate that had befallen his father.


"The Sultan will make my boy like himself," the letter went on.  "For
there is no one at hand to stop him.  Daily my influence grows less,
and his stronger.  The boy admires and copies the man he deems his
father.  He is too young to know the Sultan for what he really is.  He
sees only a man, bold and picturesque.  And the Sultan spoils him
utterly, he encourages him to be cruel and arrogant, he fosters all
that is bad in the boy.  It is useless for me to try and check him, for
my own son laughs at me now."


The writing grew more feeble as the letter went on; the wild entreaty
of a mother who had no life outside of her son, and who saw him being
ruined by his own father's murderer.


"Whoever finds this be kind to my boy, my Raoul, for the sake of a
woman who has suffered much, for the sake of his martyred father,
Colonel Raoul Le Breton.  Do not judge my son by what he is, but by
what he might have been.  In the Sultan Casim he has a bad example, a
savage teacher, a wild, profligate, cruel man, who would make the boy
as barbarous as he is himself."


The writing grew even more feeble, a faint scrawl on the yellow paper.


"I am dying, and my son is far away.  I shall not live until my boy
returns.  And he will be left with no influence but the Sultan's.  O
Fate, deal kindly with my boy, my Raoul, left alone with savages in
this barbaric city.  I have only endured these dreadful years for the
sake of my son.  In the name of pity be kind to him.  He will have no
chance in the hands of his present teacher.  Have mercy for the sake of
his tortured mother, and his father, that brave soldier who gave his
life for France.

ANNETTE LE BRETON."


Pansy read the sheets through without once raising her eyes.  She was
ravenous for the contents.

At that moment it seemed as if the dim, gilded room were full of tears
and sorrows; the faint, sweet fragrance of the girl who had lived there
long years ago, suffering and enduring for the sake of her boy.

It was not in Pansy's kind heart to refuse that tragic mother pleading
for her son.

Then she remembered that Colonel Le Breton's son was out there fighting
against his own people.  If, indeed, he were still left alive to fight.

Her lips moved in silent prayer.

She kissed the faded, scented sheets and tucked them against her heart.
She was not going to fail Annette.  All she wanted now was to be at the
side of the dead girl's son, to help him to build up a new character
according to the best white codes and standards.

Then she sat on, listening to the battle that raged around the desert
city.

If Raoul Le Breton were spared, there was another battle before her--a
battle with two governments for his life.  But she had not many qualms
about the result, with Annette's letter, her own wealth, and her father
on her side; as he would be, once she had explained the situation.

Morning dragged on into afternoon, and the sound of the conflict died
down somewhat.

All at once, as if muffled by distance, she heard her lover's voice
calling hoarsely:

"Pansy."

She started to her feet.

Before she could answer, there was a sound of fighting just beyond her
quarters.

Then she heard her father's voice, strained and anxious:

"Pansy, are you in there?"

"Oh, father," she called back frantically.  "Don't let them kill the
Sultan."

There came more muffled voices.  Then the sound of masonry being
shifted, as the men outside her prison started clearing away the debris
that blocked the door.



CHAPTER XXXII

Evening shadows were settling over El-Ammeh; deep, grey shadows that,
for all their gloomy darkness, were not as dark and gloomy as the
thoughts of a man who was a prisoner in one of the rooms of his own
palace.

Against a fluted column the Sultan stood watching night settle on the
lake; a night that would soon settle on him for ever.

The day had gone against him.  Outmatched, he had been driven back to
his city walls.  Even then he could have escaped with a handful of his
following, and have started life afresh as a desert marauder, but there
was one treasure in his palace--the greatest treasure of his life--that
he wanted to take with him.  In a vain effort to secure Pansy before he
fled, he had been captured.

With his enemies close at his heels, he had made a dash for the palace,
to fetch the girl.  On arriving outside of her prison, he found a fall
of masonry had blocked the doorway.  Before he could retrace his steps
and try another entrance, his pursuers were upon him.

The French were already in possession of that part of the city where
the Englishmen had been imprisoned.  Immediately they were released,
Sir George Barclay and his officers, supplemented by a few Senegalese
soldiers, had gone hot-foot to the palace, to Pansy's rescue.

There they had found the Sultan.  A brief struggle against overpowering
odds ensued, and once more the so-called Casim Ammeh was a prisoner in
the hands of George Barclay.

With the shadows gathering round him, the Sultan stood, in white
burnoose, a bitter expression on his arrogant face.

He had nothing now, neither wealth, nor power, nor his kingdom, nor the
girl he had risked all for in a vain attempt to win.  To-morrow he
would have even less.

There was short shrift for such as he.  To-morrow his life would have
been taken from him.  A life that had become empty as he had grown
older and pleasures palled, until Pansy had come into it, filling it
with freshness and innocence.

The battle between them was over at last.  Death would end it.  His
death.

A European entered.  A man he knew.  George Barclay.  The man he hated
more than ever; the man responsible for his capture.

Barclay ordered one of the soldiers to light the lamp.  Then he
dismissed his escort.

There were half a dozen Senegalese soldiers mounting guard over the
Sultan.  The Englishman dismissed them also, leaving himself alone with
the prisoner.

"You're doing a bold thing, Barclay, leaving the two of us together
like this," the Sultan remarked.  "It will give me great pleasure to
wring your neck, before I'm sent the way of my father."

As if to carry out this design, he took a step towards the Governor.

From his pocket, Barclay drew out a few sheets of faded, scented paper.

"Read this," he said quietly, handing them to the prisoner.

With some surprise, the Sultan took them.

On opening the letter, he started, for he recognised his mother's
writing.

As he read on, his bronzed face whitened, and a dazed look came to his
eyes, like a man reeling under a tremendous blow.

In a critical, but not unfriendly manner, Barclay studied his
companion.  He knew now why the Sultan of El-Ammeh differed so in
appearance from the wild people he ruled.

On reaching Pansy, he had had Annette Le Breton's letter thrust into
his hands.  His daughter had had no greeting for him, only wild
entreaties for him to save the Sultan.  When Barclay read the tragic
confession he was quite ready to do his best.

Then Pansy had told him more.

How Raoul Le Breton was the man she loved.  But she did not say that
Lucille Lemesurier was responsible for their parting.  She led her
father to believe that the discovery of the supposed black blood in her
lover had been her "hole in the floor of heaven."

Barclay did not trouble his daughter with many questions.  It was
enough that she was safe.  What was more, he knew she would marry the
man of her choice, no matter what obstacles were put in her way, as the
first Pansy had married him--with the world against her.

All he wanted now was to save the man his daughter had set her heart
on; that death should not blight her life as it had blighted his.

When the conflict was over, and the French and English officers met
again, Barclay had shown the letter to the commander of the
expeditionary force--the man who held the Sultan's life in his hand.

The officer had read Annette Le Breton's statement through in silence.
Considering the contents, it did not need Pansy's lovely, anxious face
or her father's pleadings to make him promise them life and liberty for
Colonel Le Breton's son.  More he could not promise.  The two
governments would want an indemnity that would swallow up most of the
kingdom of El-Ammeh.

But his life was all Pansy wanted.

His life, and to be at his side when the blow fell.  For a blow it was
bound to be, to a man as proud and fierce as her lover.  A shock and
then a relief.

As Raoul Le Breton read the letter, his old world crashed in ruins
about him.

Now he understood his dead mother's hatred of the Sultan Casim.  Her
endeavours to mould him on European lines.  Her pleadings and
entreaties for him not to forget the white side.  That poor, frail,
tortured little mother who had suffered so much for his sake!

His hand went across his anguished face.

He had not forgotten the white side.  He had done worse.  He had just
ignored it.  Knowing good, he had preferred evil.  He had gone his way
as barbaric and licentious as the savage who had murdered his father.

With tortured eyes he glanced at Barclay.

This man whom he had hated so bitterly for sixteen years and more was
his best friend, not his enemy.  For Barclay had shot the savage chief
who had murdered his father and outraged his mother.

Like a whisper through the chaos surrounding him, Le Breton heard
Barclay talking, telling him Pansy had found the letter.  On account of
its contents the French commander was not going to push the case
against him.  He would be given his life and freedom, but an indemnity
would have to be paid, and the price would leave him only a shadow of
his wealth.

Le Breton knew that again Pansy had saved his worthless life.  For
worthless it seemed, judging from his new standpoint.

"I owe you thanks, not hatred," he said to Barclay, his voice hoarse
with suffering.

"And I owe you thanks too," the governor replied.  "My daughter tells
me you treated her with every kindness and consideration."

It seemed to Le Breton that he had been anything but kind and
considerate; that no woman could forgive such dealings as his had been
with her.

He had taken a girl used to a free and active life and had shut her up
in a scented, sensual prison, trying to make her fall a victim to
himself and her own senses; until she had grown morbid and hysterical,
seeking death in preference to himself and the sort of life he had
forced her to lead.

"I don't know that I should call myself exactly kind or considerate to
your daughter," he remarked.  "Not after reading this letter.  Or to
you either," he finished.

"I wouldn't worry too much about the past, if I were you," Barclay
replied.  "You've plenty of time ahead of you to 'make good' in."

Le Breton said nothing.  He stayed brooding on the ruins around him,
hating himself and the savage chief who had been his teacher.

All his old world had been swept away from him.  Lost and alone, he
would have to start afresh, according to new lights and new ideals, and
without a hand to guide him.

He had nothing, neither wealth nor kingdom.  Not his pride even.
Unknowingly he had been a renegade, fighting against his own nation.

He was utterly broken.  But he did not look it--only unutterably dreary.

As he pondered on his past life, he realised to the fullest what he
must look like to Pansy.  No wonder she had fought against her love for
him!  Any decent woman would.

He did not hear Barclay go, leaving him alone with his thoughts and the
deepening shadows.  He was aware of nothing except his own wild career,
and how he had run foul of all white ideals.

The door opened, but he did not hear that either.  He was too full of
suffering and repentance.

Then another whisper penetrated the whirl in which he moved.

"Raoul," a girl's voice said gently.

He looked at Pansy as a man dying of thirst in a desert would look at a
mirage of lakes and fountains--a vision of torturing desire that he
knew was not for him.

No apologies could condone for his behaviour.  Love he dared not
mention; not with a past like his; not to this innocent,
high-principled girl.

Pansy came to his side.

"Stoop down a bit, Raoul," she said.  "I want to say something."

He bent his dark head.

Into his ear "I love you" was whispered shyly, as it had been that
night months ago in a moonlit garden in Grand Canary.

At her whispered words his face started working strangely.

"I don't deserve such love, such forgiveness," he said in a broken
voice.

She laughed--the laughter that kept tears at bay--and slipping her arms
about his neck, tip-toed, and kissed the lips that dared not touch her
now.

"And I want to marry you at once.  I want to be with you always."

At her words his arms went round her in their old possessive manner.

Then he remembered that all his wealth had been swept from him; that
now he had the girl, he had nothing left to give her.

"I've nothing to offer you," he said, his voice bitter, "except a love
that's not worth having."

With soft, gentle hands Pansy stroked the lines of bitterness from the
proud face that watched her with such love and longing.

"You can have all that's mine.  I don't want anything but you."

He kissed the lips that were held up to his so willingly.

"My darling, help me to grope back to your white ways," he said, his
voice hoarse with emotion.

"You won't have to grope.  You got there last night when you
'remembered my reputation' and 'went nicely and quietly like a good
boy.'"

He laughed, but there was a slight catch in his laughter, and pressed
the girl closer to the heart she could always ease.

There were no shadows now, no ruins.  For the greatest treasure of his
life was left to him.



THE END.



  Another tremendous success by
  the author of "DESERT LOVE"


THE HAWK OF EGYPT


Joan Conquest's exotic story of the love-madness with which mysterious
Egypt drugs the souls of men and women.


  _Its realism will
  thrill you_


You will see:

Cairo, the native quarter, the bazaars, the flaming desert, the love
tryst in the temple of Ammon, Zulannah, the dancing girl--the jewelled
siren of the Nile, Damaris, the beautiful English heroine, Kelham, the
lion hunter and Hugh Carden Ali, the man who sold his life for

One Hour of Love



_Here are two pages selected at random, from_

THE HAWK OF EGYPT

_a love story without asterisks_


Damaris bowed her head so that the curls danced and glistened in the
light, as the torrent of his words, in the Egyptian tongue, swept about
her like a flood.

"Hast thou come to me in love, thou dove from the nest?  Nay, what
knowest thou of love?  I ask it not of thee--yet--but the seed I shall
plant within thee shall grow in the passing of the days and the nights
and the months and the years, until it is as a grove of perfumed
flowers which shall change to golden fruit ready to the plucking of my
hand."

He pressed her little hands back against her breast so that the light
fell full upon her face, and he held her thuswise, watching the colour
rise and fade.

"Allah!" he whispered.  "Allah!  God of all, what have I done to
deserve such signs of Thy great goodness?  Wilt thou love me?"  He
laughed gently.  "Canst thou look into mine eyes and shake thy golden
head which shall be pillowed upon my heart--my wife--the mother of my
children?  Look at me!  Look at me!  Ah! thine eyes, which were as the
pools of Lebanon at night, are as a sun-kissed sea of love.  Thou
know'st it not, but love is within thee--for me, thy master."

And was there not truth in what he said?  May there not have been love
in the heart of the girl?

Not, maybe, the love which stands sweet and sturdy like the stocky
hyacinth, to bloom afresh, no matter how often the flowers be struck,
or the leaves be bruised, from the humdrum bulb deep in the soil of
quiet content.  But the God-given, iridescent love of youth for youth,
with its passion so swift, so sweet; a love like the rose-bud which
hangs half-closed over the door in the dawn; which is wide-flung to the
sun at noon; which scatters its petals at dusk.

The rose!

She has filled your days with the memory of her fragrance; her leaves
still scent the night from out the sealed crystal vase which is your
heart.

But an' you would attain the priceless boon of peace, see to it that a
humdrum bulb be planted in the brown flower-pot which is your home.

And because of this God-given love of youth which was causing her heart
to thud and the blood to race through her veins, she did not withdraw
her hands when he held and kissed them and pressed his forehead upon
them.

"Lotus-flower," he whispered so that she could scarcely hear.  "Bud of
innocence! ivory tower of womanhood! temple of love!  Beloved, beloved,
I am at thy feet."  And he knelt and kissed the little feet in the
heelless little slippers; then, rising, took both her hands and led her
to the door; and his eyes were filled with a great sadness, in spite of
the joy which sang in his heart as he took her into the shelter of his
arms.

"I love thee too well," he said, as he bent and kissed the riotous
curls so near his mouth.  "Yes, I love thee too well to snatch thee
even as a hungry dog snatches his food, though, verily, I be more near
to starving than any hungry dog.  What dost thou know of love, of life,
in the strange countries of the East?  For thy life will



_They Were Alone...._

The magic of the desert night had closed about them.  Cairo,
friends,--civilization as she knew it--were left far behind.  She, an
unbeliever, was in the heart of the trackless wastes with a man whose
word was more than law.

And yet, he was her slave!

"I shall ask nothing of you until you shall love me," he promised.
"You shall draw your curtains, and until you call, you shall go
undisturbed."

And she believed him!

Do you want to see luxury beyond your imagination to conjure,--feel the
softness of silks finer than the gossamer web of the spider--hear the
night voices of the throbbing desert, or sway to the jolting of the
clanking caravan?

Egypt, Arabia pass before your eyes.  The impatient cursing of the
camel men comes to your ears.  Your nostrils quiver in the acrid smoke
of the little fires of dung that flare in the darkness when the caravan
halts.  The night has shut off prying eyes.  Yashmaks are lowered.
White flesh gleams against burnished bands of gold.  The children of
Allah are at home.

And the promise he had given her? ... let Joan Conquest, who knows and
loves the East, tell you in


DESERT LOVE


_For sale wherever books are sold, or from_

The Macaulay Company

PUBLISHERS

15-17 W. 38th St., New York



A beautifully illustrated edition of

THREE WEEKS

The Famous Romantic Novel

By Elinor Glyn

Now ready at the same price as
  "Beyond the Rocks"


The world has felt upon its hot lips the perfumed kisses of the
beautiful heroine of "Three Weeks."  The brilliant flame that was her
life has blazed a path into every corner of the globe.  It is a
world-renowned novel of consuming emotion that has made the name of its
author, Elinor Glyn, the most discussed of all writers of modern
fiction.


WHAT THE CRITICS HAVE SAID ABOUT IT

Percival Pollard in _Town Topics_:

"It is a book to make one forget that the world is gray.  Be as sad, as
sane as you like, for all the other days of your life, but steal one
mad day, I adjure you, and read 'Three Weeks.'"

_The Western Christian Advocate_:

"The power and beauty of its descriptions and the pathos of its scenes
are undeniable."

_The Brooklyn Eagle_:

"A cleverly told tale, full of dainty sentiment, of poetic dreaming and
dramatic incident."

_The San Francisco Argonaut_:

"We feel inclined to throw at her (the heroine) neither stones nor
laurels, but rather to congratulate the author upon a powerful story
that lays a grip upon the mind and heart."

_The Detroit Free Press_:

"No wonder that 'Three Weeks' is one of the best sellers."



A beautifully illustrated edition of

Beyond the Rocks

By Elinor Glyn

Now ready at the same price as
  "Three Weeks"

A flaming romance as only the author of "THREE WEEKS" could write it;
as only Gloria Swanson, with dashing Rodolph Valentino playing the
lover, could make it live in all its ardent splendor.  The story of a
passionate young heart bound by society's conventions, struggling and
risking all for happiness.

--of gay nights of revelry in the Parisian world of fashion.

--of intrigue and coquetry in the gilded resorts of London high society.

Never before have such dramatic love-scenes, such spectacular adventure
been placed before the public.  The love-drama with all the thrills and
luxury of a life-time!  The one book and picture you'll never forget!



FAMOUS NOVELS BY

VICTORIA CROSS


LIFE'S SHOP WINDOW

It tears the garments of conventionality from woman, presenting her as
she must appear to the Divine Eye.

HILDA AGAINST THE WORLD

Fancy a married man, denied divorce by law, falling desperately in love
with a charming maiden waiting for love.

A GIRL OF THE KLONDIKE

A stirring story of love, intrigue and adventure, woven about a proud,
reckless heroine.

SIX WOMEN

A half-dozen of the most vivid love stories that ever lit up the dusk
of a tired civilization.

THE NIGHT OF TEMPTATION

The self-sacrifice of woman in love.  Regina, the heroine, gives
herself to a man for his own sake.  The world, however, exacts a severe
price for her unconventional conduct.

SIX CHAPTERS OF A MAN'S LIFE

A bold, brilliant, defiant presentation of the relations of men and
women who find themselves in situations never before conceived.

TO-MORROW

A daring innovation of great strength and almost photographic
intensity, that appeals to the lovers of sensational fiction; wise,
witty, yet touchingly pathetic.

DAUGHTERS OF HEAVEN

As life cannot be described, but must be lived, so this book cannot be
revealed--it must be read.  Its daring situations and tense moments
will thrill you.

OVER LIFE'S EDGE

No one but Victoria Cross could have written this thrilling tale of a
girl who left the gayeties of London to dwell in a lonely cavern until
the man, who loved her with the passion of impetuous youth, found her.

THE LIFE SENTENCE

A beautifully written story, full of life, nature, passion and pathos.
The weaknesses of a proud, cultured woman lead to a strange climax.


THE MACAULAY COMPANY

15-17 West 38th Street, New York

Send for Free Illustrated Catalog





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Son of the Sahara" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home