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the novel his hour

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Title:HisHour
Author:ElinorGlyn
ReleaseDate:December,2005[EBook#9470]FirstPosted:October3,2003
LastUpdated:December17,2016
Language:English
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HisHour
By
ElinorGlyn


Authorof"ThreeWeeks"

1910

[Illustration:AminiatureofPrinceMilaslávskiintheuniformofoneofhis
ancestors,inwhichheappearedatthefamousfancyballattheWinterPalace
someyearsago.Hewasabouttwenty-threeatthetime.Ihaveselectedthis
likenessofhiminpreferencetoalaterphotograph,astheartisthashappily
caughthiminoneofhisrarelysoftmoods,andalso,thefacebeingcleanshaven,
thecharacteristicchisellingofthelipscanbeseen.THEAUTHOR.]

"HisHour"iscalledinEnglandandRussia"WhentheHourCame."

WithgratefulhomageanddevotionIdedicatethisbookto
HerImperialHighnessTheGrandDuchessVladimirOfRussia
Inmemoryofthehappyeveningsspentinhergraciouspresencewhenreadingto
herthesepages,whichhersympatheticaid,infacilitatingmyopportunitiesfor
studyingtheRussiancharacter,enabledmetowrite.Herkindappreciationofthe
finishedworkisasourceofthedeepestgratificationtome.
ElinorGlyn
St.Petersburg,May,1910


CHAPTERI
TheSphinxwassmilingitseternalsmile.Itwastwoo'clockinthemorning.The
touristshadreturnedtoCairo,andonlyanArabortwolingeredneartheboy
whoheldTamara'scamel,andthengraduallyslunkaway;thus,butforHafis,she
wasalone—alonewithherthoughtsandtheSphinx.
Thestrange,mysticalfacelookedstraightatherfromtheelevationwhereshe
sat.Itssensualmockingcalmpenetratedherbrain.Thecreatureseemedtobe
laughingatallhumanity—andsaying—"Thereisnobeyond—liveandenjoythe
thingsofthepresent—Eat,drink,andbemerry,forto-morrowyoudie,andI—I
whosithereandknow,tellyouthereisnobeyond.Thethingsyoucantouchand
holdtoyourbodiesaretheonlyonesworthgrasping."
"No,no!"saidTamara,halfaloud,"Iwillnot—Iwillnotbelieveit."
"Fool,"saidtheSphinx."Whatisyoursoul?Andifyouhaveone,whathaveyou
donewithithitherto?Areyouanylightintheworld?—No,youhavelivedupon
theordersofothers,youhaveletyourindividualitybecrushedthesetwenty-four
years—sincethedayyoucouldspeak.Justanechoitis—thatfinething,your
soul!Showitthen,ifyouhaveone!Doyoupossessanopinion?Notabitofit.
Yousimplyannounceplatitudesthatyouhavebeentaughtweretheright
answerstoallquestions!Believeme,youhavenosoul.Sotakewhatyoucan—a


body!Youcertainlyhavethat,onecanseeit—well,snatchwhatitcanbring
you,sinceyouhavenotenoughwilltotryforhigherthings.Graspwhatyou
may,poorweakling.Thatisthewisdomsittinghereforeternityhastaughtme."


Tamarastirredherhandsinprotest—butsheknewtheindictmentwastrue.Yes,
herlifehadbeenonelongcommonplacevistaoffollowingleads—likeasheep.
Butwasittoolatetochange?Hadshethecourage?Daredshethinkforherself?
Ifnot,themysticmessageoftheSphinx'ssmilewerebetterfollowed:"Eat,
drink,andbemerry,forto-morrowyoudie."
Theblueoftheskyseemedtosootheher,andspeakofhope.Couldanyother
countryproduceaskyofsodeepasapphireasthenightskyofEgypt?All
aroundwasintensesensuouswarmthandstillnessalmostaslightasday.
Howwiseshehadbeentobreakthroughtheconventionalitywhichsurrounded
her—andithadrequiredsomenerve—soastobeabletocomeherealone,on
thisoneofherlastnightsinEgypt.
ShehalfsmiledwhenshethoughtofMillicentHardcastle'sfacewhenshehad
firstsuggestedit.
"MydearTamara,what—whatanextraordinarythingforawomantodo!Goto
theSphinxallaloneattwoo'clockinthemorning.Wouldnotpeoplethinkit
verystrange?"
Tamarafeltaqualmforasecond,butwasrebellious.
"Well,perhaps—butdoyouknow,Millicent,IbelieveIdon'tcare.Thatcarven
blockofstonehashadacuriouseffectuponme.IthasmademethinkasIhave
neverdonebefore.Iwanttotaketheclearestpictureawaywithme—Imustgo."
AndevenMrs.Hardcastle'smildassertionthatitcouldequallywellbeviewed
andstudiedatamorereasonablehourdidnotmoveTamara,andwhileherfriend
slumberedcomfortablyinherbedatMenaHouse,shehadsetoff,aselfconsciousfeelingofatruantschoolboyexaltingandyetfrighteningher.
Tamarawasawidow.JamesLorainehadbeeneverythingthatathoroughly
respectableEnglishhusbandoughttobe.Hehadtreatedherwithkindness,he
hadgivenheracomfortablehome—hehadonlyaskedhertospendtenmonths
oftheyearinthecountry,andhehadnevercausedheramoment'sjealousy.
Shecouldnotrememberherhearthavingbeatenanatomfaster—orslower—for
hiscomingorgoing.Shehadlovedhim,andhersistersandbrother,andfather,


allinthesamedevotedway,andwhenpneumoniahadcarriedhimoffnearly
twoyearsbefore,shehadgrievedwiththemeasurethelossofanyoneofthem
wouldhavecausedher—thatwassincerelyandtenderly.
Theyweresuchanicefamily,Tamara's!
Forhundredsofyearstheyhadlivedonthesameland,doingtheirdutytotheir
neighborsandhelpingtoformthatbackboneofEnglandofwhichwehearso
muchnowadays,initspassingaway.
TheyhadbeenmembersofParliament,ofsolidWhig,andlaterof
Unionist,views.TheyhadbeenstaunchGenerals,Chairmenof
Quarter-Sessions,riderstohounds,subscriberstocharities,rigid
church-goers,disciplined,orthodox,worthymembersofsociety.
Underdownwastheirname,andUnderwoodtheirhome.
ThatTamarashouldhavebeengiventhatRussianappellation,inagroupof
Gladys,MabelsandDorothys,musthavesurelyindicatedthatfatemeantherto
followalinenotquitesomappedoutasthatofhersisters'.Theverymannerof
herentryintotheworldwasnotinaccordancewiththeUnderdownplan.
Hermother,LadyGertrudeUnderdown,hadcontractedafriendshipwiththe
wifeoftheFirstSecretaryoftheRussianEmbassy.
Foreignerswerenotlookeduponwithfavorinthehomecircle,andinsteadof
stayingonlythetwomonthsofMayandJune,asshewasfullyentitledto,in
London,shehadinsisteduponremainingforJulyaswellthatyear—tobenear
herfriendVeraandenjoythegayworld.
TheSquirehadgrumbled,butacquiesced,thoughwhenafterwardafourth
daughterwaspresentedtohimwitharequestthatshemighthavePrincessVera
foragodmotherandaRussiannametobecalledby,hefelthimselfjustifiedin
carpingatfate.
"Foreignfandangoes,"hedesignatedsuchideas.However,LadyGertrudewas
veryill,andhadtobehumored,sotheaffairtookplace,andTamarathebaby
waschristened,withduestate.
TherewerenomoreRussiansuggestionsinthefamily;thesonandheir


whoarrivedayearlaterbecameplainTom,andthenLadyGertrude
Underdownmadeherbowtotheworldandretiredtothefamilyvaultin
UnderwoodChurch.
Theywereallestimablybroughtupbyanaunt,andhardlyeverleftthecountry
untileachonecameupinturntobepresentedatCourt,andgothroughafairly
dullseasonamongcountryneighborsonthesamebent.
Twoofthem,includingTamara,hadsecuredsuitablehusbands,andattheageof
twenty-threeyearsthelatterhadbeenleftawell-doweredwidow.
Shehadwornmourningforjusttherightperiod,hadlookedafterheraffairs—
handedJames'placeoverwithagoodgracetoJames'brotherandanunliked
sister-in-law,andfinally,whenshewaswearinggraysandmauves,twoyears
almostafterherloss,shehadallowedherselftobepersuadedintotakingatripto
Egyptwithherfriend,MillicentHardcastle,whowasrecoveringfrominfluenza.
IthadcausedthegreatestflutteratUnderwood,thisjourneyabroad!
NoneofthemhadbeenfurtherthanDresden,whereeachgirlhadlearned
Germanforayearorsobeforeherpresentation.
AndwhathadEgyptdoneforTamara?Liftedjustoneprettywhiteeyelid,
perhaps.Stirredsomethingwhichonlyonceortwiceinherlifeshehadbeen
dimlyconsciousof.Everythinghadbeenakindofshocktoher.Ashockofan
agreeabledescription.Andoncedrivingatnightintheorangegrovesof
Ghezireh,aftersomeopen-airfête,theheavyscentandintoxicatingatmosphere
hadmadeherbloodtingle.Shefeltitwasalmostwrongthatthingsshouldso
appealtohersenses.Anythingwhichappealeddeliberatelytothesenseshad
alwaysbeenconsideredasmorethanalmostwrongatUnderwoodChase.
ThesenseswereimproperthingswhichAuntClaraforherpartneverquite
understoodwhytheAlmightyshouldhavehadthebadtastetopermitinhuman
beings.
ButtheSphinxwasagaintalkingtoTamara—onlythistimeinthevoiceofa
youngman—whowithoutawordofwarninghadrisenfromabankofsand
wherehehadbeenstretchedmotionlessandunperceived.
"Afinegoddess,isshenot,Madame,"hesaid.Andtoaddtotheimpertinenceof
astranger'saddressingheratall,Tamarawasfurtherincensedbythevoicebeing


thatofaforeigner!
Butitwasanextraordinarilypleasantvoice,deepandtuneful,andthe"Insolent"
stoodoversixfeethighandwasasslenderasTamaraherselfalmost—inspiteof
hisshouldersandairofstrength.
Shehardlyknewwhattoanswer,hehadspokenwithsucheaseandassurance,
almostwiththetoneofonewhohailsafellowworshiperandhasarightto
exchangesympathy.
Tamarahadbeenstartled,too,bythesuddenrisingofthemanwhenshethought
shewasalone,butatlastsheansweredslowly,"Yes."
"Ioftencomehereatnight,"hewenton,"whenthosedevilsoftouristshave
gonebackintheirdevilofatramway.Thenyougetheralone—andshesays
thingstoyou.Youthinkso,too,isn'tit?"
"Yes,"againsaidTamara,convulsedwithwonderatherselfforspeakingatall.
"AtfirstIwasangrywhenIsawyourcamelagainsttheskyandsawyoucome
anddismountandsitandlook,Iliketohaveheralltomyself.Butafterwards
whenIwatchedyouIsawyoumeantnoharm—youaren'tatourist,andsoyou
didnotmatter."
"Indeed,"saidTamara,thefineinhergraspingthesituation,the
Underdowntrainingresentingitsunconventionality.
"Yes,"hecontinued,unconcerned."Youcan'tlookatthatfaceandfeelweanyof
usmattermuch—canyou?"
"No,"saidTamara.
"Howmanythousandyearshasshebeentellingpeoplethat?Butitdrivesme
mad,angry,furious,toseethetourists!Iwanttostranglethemall!"
Heclenchedhishandandhiseyesflashed.
Tamarapeepedupathim—hewasnotlookingather—butattheSphinx.She
sawthathewasextremelyattractiveinspiteofhavingun-Englishclothes,which
werenotwornwithease.Grayflannelofunspeakablecut,andbootswhich


wouldhavemadeherbrotherTomshriekwithlaughter.TheUnderdownpartof
herwhispered,couldhebequiteagentleman?Butwhenheturnedhisfacefull
uponherinthemoonlight,thatdoubtvanishedcompletely.Hemightevenbea
verygreatgentleman,shethought.
"WouldyouliketoseeabitoftheArabianNights?"heaskedher.
Tamararose.Thisreallyoughtnottogoon,thisconversation—andyet—
"Yes,Iwould,"shesaid.
"Well,thespellisbrokenoftheSphinx,"hecontinued."Shecan'ttalktome
withyouthere,andshecan'ttalktoyouwithmenear,soletusgoandsee
somethingelsethatisinterestingtogether."
"What?"askedTamara.
"TheSheikh'svillagedownbelow.Halfthepeoplewhocomedon'trealizeitis
there,andtheotherhalfwouldbeafraidtoridethroughitatnight—butthey
knowmeandIwilltakecareofyou."
WithouttheleastfurtherhesitationhecalledHafisandthecamel,spoketothem
inArabic,andthenstoodreadytohelpTamaraup.Sheseemedhypnotized,
whenshewassettledinthehighsaddle.Shebegantorealizethatshewasgoing
intotheunknownwithaperfectstranger,butshedidnotthinkofturningback.
"Whatdoyouride?"sheasked.
"See,"hesaid,andhemadeastrangelowwhistle,whichwasinstantlyanswered
byanequallystrangelowwhinnyofahorse,andabeautifulArabappearedfrom
thefootoftherocks—whereallthingswereinshadow—ledbyalittlebrown
boy.
"Iamtakinghimbackwithme,"hesaid,"Isn'theabeauty.Ionlyboughthima
weekago,andhealreadyknowsme."
Thenhewasinthesaddlewiththelightestbound,andTamara,whohadalways
admiredTomonahorse,knewthatshehadneverseenanyonewhoseemedso
muchapartofhismountasthisquaintforeigner."IsupposeheisanAustrian,"
shesaidtoherself,andthenaddedwithEnglishinsulararrogance,"Only


Austriansarelikeus."
Theyoungmanappearedquiteindifferenttoanythingshethought.Heprepared
toleadthewaydownbeyondtheSphinx,apparentlyintothedesert.
Nowthathewasinfrontofher,Tamaracouldnothelpadmiringthelinesofhis
figure.Hewascertainlyaverydecentshape,andcertainlyknewhowtoride.
Thenitcametoherthatthiswasamostsingularadventure,andthefaintpink
mountedtoherclearcheekswhensherememberedhowdreadfullyshocked
Millicentwouldbe—oranyofthefamily!Butitwashernightofrebellion,so
thingsmusttaketheircourse.
Theyoungmanrodeinfrontuntiltheywereontheflatdesert,thenhedrewrein
andwaitedforher.
"Yousee,"hesaid,"weskirttheserocksandthenweshallridethroughthe
village.Onecanverywellimagineithasbeenthesamealways."
Theyenteredthelittletown.Thestreetswereextremelynarrowandthedark
housesgaveanairofmystery—aspeculation—whatcouldbegoingonbehind
thoseclosedshutters?Hereandthereastraightblue-cladfigureslunkaway
roundacorner.Therewasadeepsilenceandthemoonlightmadetheshadows
sharpasaknife.Thenashaftofredlightwouldshootfromsomestrangelow
hovelastheypassed,andtheycouldseeinsideacircleofArabBedouins
crouchingoverafire.Thereseemednohilarity,theirfacesweresolemnasthe
grave.
Presently,inthenarrowestanddarkeststreet,therewasasoundoftom-toms,
strainsofweirdmusicandvoices,andthroughthechinksofthehalf-opened
shutterslightstreamedacrosstheroad—whileasmallcrowdofArabswere
groupedaboutthegateinthewallholdingdonkeysandacamel.
"Awedding,"saidtheyoungman."Theyhaveescortedthebride.Whatpleasure
toraiseaveilandseeablackface!Buteachonetohistaste."
Tamaralookedupatthewindow.Shewonderedwhatcouldbehappeningwithin
—weretheotherwivesthereaswell?Shewouldhavelikedtohaveasked.
Theyoungmansawherhesitationandsaidlaconically—


"Well?"
"Theyarehavingaparty,"Tamarareplied,withlameobviousness.
"Ofcourse,"saidtheyoungman."Weddingsandfunerals—equallygood
occasionsforcompany.Theyaresowisetheyleavealltofate;theydonottear
theireyesoutforsomethingtheycannothave—andfightafterdisappointment.
Theyarephilosophers,theseArabs."
Thelittlecrowdroundthegatenowbarredtheroad,halfgoodhumoredly,half
withmenace.
"So,so,"saidtheyoungman,ridinginfront.Thenhelaughed,andputtinghis
handinhispocket,broughtoutaquantityofsilverandflungitamongthemwith
merrywordsinArabic,whilehepointedtothewindowsofthehouse.
ThenheseizedthebridleofTamara'scamelandstartedhishorseforward.The
crowdsmilednowandbeganscramblingforthebaksheesh,andsotheygot
throughinpeace.
Neitherspokeuntiltheywereinasilentlaneagain.
"Sometimestheycanbequitedisagreeable,"hesaid,"butitisamusingtoseeit
all.TheSheikhliveshere—hefanciesthepyramidsbelongtohim,justasthe
KhedivefanciesallEgyptishis—lifeismostlyimagination."
NowTamaracouldseehisfacebetterashelookeduptohersuperiorheighton
thecamel.Hehadalittlemoustacheandpeculiarlychiseledlips—toochiseled
foraman,shethoughtforamoment,untilshenoticedthefirmjaw.Hiseyes
weresleepy—slightlyOrientalintheirsetting,andlookedverydark,andyet
somethingmadeherthinkthatindaylighttheymightbeblueorgray.
Hedidnotsmileatall;ashespokehisfacewasgrave,butwhensomething
madehimlaughastheyturnedthenextcorner,ittransformedhim.Itwasthe
ripplingspontaneousgaietyofachild.
Twogoatshadgotloosefromoppositehovelsandwerebuttingatoneanotherin
themiddleoftheroad.
Hepulleduphishorseandwatched.


"Ilikeanyfight,"hesaid.
Butthegoatsfledinfearofhim,sotheywenton.
Tamarawaswonderingwhyshefeltsostupid.Shewantedtoaskherstrange
companionanumberofquestions.Whohewas?Whathewasdoingatthe
Sphinx?—andindeedinEgypt.Whyhehadspokentoheratall?—andyet
appearedabsolutelyindifferentastheyrodealong!Hehadnotaskedherasingle
questionorexpressedtheleastcuriosity.Forsomereasonshefeltpiqued.
Presentlytheyemergedattheendofthevillagewheretherewasasmalllakeleft
bytheretirementoftheNile.Themoon,almostfull,wasmirroredinit.The
scenewasoneofextremebeauty.Thepyramidsappearedanoldrosepink,and
everythingelseintonesofsapphire—notthegreen-blueofmoonlightinother
countries.Allwasbreathlesslystillandlifeless.Onlytheytwo,andthecamel
boys,aloneinthenight.
Thedarklineoftreeswhichbordertheroadfacedthem,andtheyrodeslowlyin
thatdirection.
"Youaregoingtothehotel,Isuppose?"hesaid."Iwillseeyousafelytoit."
AndtheyclimbedthebankontotheavenuefromCairo.
"Andyou?"Tamaracouldnotpreventherselffromasking."Wheredoyougo?"
"Tohell,sometimes,"heanswered,andhiseyeswerefullofmist,"buttonightI
shallgotobedforachange."
Tamarawasnonplussed.Shefeltintenselycommonplace.Shewasevenalittle
crosswithherself.Whyhadsheaskedaquestion?
TheArabhorsenowtookitintohisheadtocurvetandboundintheairforno
apparentreason,buttheyoungmandidnotstiraninch—helaughed.
"Goon,mybeauty,"hesaid."Ilikeyoutobeso.Itshowsyouarealive."
Astheyapproachedthehotel,Tamarabegantohopenoonewouldseethem.No
onewhocouldtellMillicentthatshehadacompanion.Shebentdownandsaid
ratherprimlytotheyoungmanwhowasagainatherside:


"Iamquitesafenow,thankyou.Ineednottroubleyouanyfurther.
Good-bye!andIamsoobligedtoyouforshowingmeanewwayhome."
Helookedupather,andhiswholefacewaslitwithawhimsicalsmile.
"Yes,atthegate,"hesaid."Don'tbenervous.Iwillgoatthegate."
Tamaradidnotspeak,andpresentlytheycametotheturningintothehotel.Then
hestopped.
"Isupposeweshallmeetagainsomeday,"hesaid."Theyhaveaproverbhere,
'Meetbeforedawn—partnottilldawn.'Theyseeintothefutureinafewdrops
ofwaterinanyhollowthing.Well,good-night"—andbeforeshecouldanswer
hewasoffbeyondthehoteluptheroadandthenturningtotherightonasandpath,gallopedoutofsightintowhatmustbethevastdesert.
Whereonearthcouldhebegoingto?—possiblythedevil—ifoneknew.


CHAPTERII
WhenTamarawokeinthemorningtherecollectionofhercamelrideseemed
likeadream.Shesatforalongtimeatthewindowofherroomlookingout
towardthegreenworldandCairo.Shewastryingtoadjustthingsinhermind.
Thisstrangerhadcertainlyproducedaneffectuponher.
Shewonderedwhohewas,andhowhewouldlookindaylight—andaboveall
whitherhehadgallopedintothedesert.Thenshewonderedatherself.The
wholethingwassooutofherline—sobizarre—inalifeofcarefullybalanced
proprieties.AndwerethethoughtstheSphinxhadawakedinherbraintrue?Yes,
certainlyshehadbeenruledbyothersalways—andhadneverdevelopedher
ownsoul.
Shewasverysensitive—thatlastwhimsicalsmileoftheunknownhad
humiliatedher.Shefelthehadlaughedatherprimproprietyinwishingtogetrid
ofhimbeforethegate.Indeed,shesuddenlyfelthemightlaughatagoodmany
ofthethingsshedid.Andthisruffledherserenity.Sheputupherslenderhands
andpushedthethickhairbackfromherforeheadwithanimpatientgesture.Itall
madeherdissatisfiedwithherselfandfullofunrest.
"Youdon'ttellmeathingaboutyourSphinxexcursionlastnight,
Tamara,"MillicentHardcastlesaidatbreakfast,ratherpeevishly.They
weresippingcoffeetogetherinthelatter'sroomindressing-gowns.
"Wasitnice,andhadthetouristsquitedeparted?"
"Itwaswonderful!"andTamaraleantbackandlookedintodistance."There
werenotourists,anditmademethinkanumberofnewthings—weseemsuch
ordinarypeople,Millicent."
Mrs.Hardcastleglancedupsurprised,nottosayoffended,withcoffeecup
poisedintheair.


"Yes—youmaywonder,butitistrue,Milly—wedothesamethingseveryday,
andthinkthesamethoughts,andarejustthoroughlycommonplaceand
uninteresting."
"AndyoucametotheseconclusionsfromgazingattheSphinx?"Mrs.
Hardcastleasked.
"Yes,"saidTamara,thepinkdeepeningforamomentinhercheeks.Inherwhole
lifeshehardlyeverhadhadasecret."Isatthere,Millicent,inthesandopposite
thestrangeimage,anditseemedtosmileandmockatalllittlethings;it
appearedperfectlyridiculousthatwepaysomuchattentiontowhattheworld
saysorthinks.IcouldnothelplookingbacktothetimewhenyouandIwereat
Dresdentogether.Whatdullliveswehavebothledsince!Yoursperhapsmore
filledthanminehasbeen,becauseyouhavechildren;butreallywehaveboth
beenbrowsinglikesheep."
Mrs.Hardcastlenowwasalmostirritated.
"Icannotagreewithyou,"shesaid."Ourliveshavebeenfullofgoodand
pleasantthings—andIhope,dear,wehavebothdoneourduty."
This,ofcourse,endedthematter!Itwassoundoubtedlytrue—eachhaddone
herduty.
Afterbreakfasttheystartedforalastdonkey-ride,astheymustreturntoCairoin
timefortheKhedive'sballthatnight,which,asdistinguishedEnglishladies,
theywerebeingtakentobytheircompatriotsattheAgency.Thenonthe
morrowtheyweretostartforEurope.Mrs.Hardcastlecouldnotsparemoretime
awayfromherbabies.Theirvisithadonlybeenoffourshortweeks,andnowit
wasDecember27,andhomeandhusbandcalledher.
ForTamara'spart,shecoulddoasshepleased;indeed,fortwopinsshewould
havestayedoninEgypt.
Butthatwasnottheintentionoffate!
"Doletusgoupthatsand-path,Millicent,"shesaid,whentheyturnedoutofthe
hotelgate."Wehaveneverbeenthere,andIwouldliketoseewhereitleadsto
—perhapsweshallgetquiteanewvistafromthetop——"


Andsotheywent.
Whatsheexpectedtofindshedidnotaskherself.Inanycasetheyrodeon,
eventuallycomingoutatasmallenclosurewherestoodasortofbungalowin
thosedays—itisprobablypulleddownnow,butthenitstoodwithawonderful
viewoverthedesert,andoverthegreenworld.Tamarahadvaguelyobservedit
inthedistancebefore,butimaginedittobesomewater-towerofthehotel,itwas
sobareandgaunt.IthadbeenbuiltbysomemadItalian,theyheardafterward,
forrestandquiet.
Itwasaquaintplacewithtinywindowshighup,evidentlytolightastudio,and
therewasaverandatolookattheviewtowardstheNile.
Whentheygotfairlyclosetheycouldseethatonthisverandaayoungmanwas
stretchedatfulllength.Alongwickerchairsupportedhim,whilehereada
Frenchnovel.They—atleastTamara—couldseetheyellowbackofthebook,
andalso,oneregretstoadd,shewasconsciousthattheyoungmanwasonly
clothedinblueandwhitestripedsilkpyjamas!—thejacketofwhichwasopen
andshowedhischest—andonefoot,stretchedoutandhangingoverthebackof
anotherlowchair,was—actuallybare!
Mrs.Hardcastletouchedherdonkeyandhurriedpast—thepathwentsovery
nearthisunseemlysight!AndTamarafollowed,butnotbeforetheyoungman
hadtimetoraisehimselfandfrownwithfury.Shealmostimaginedsheheard
himsaying"Thosedevilsoftourists!"Thenwiththecornerofhereyeerethey
gotoutofsight,sheperceivedthatablue-cladArabbroughtcoffeeonalittle
tray.
Sheglowedwithannoyance.Didhethinkshehadcometolookathim?Didhe
—hecertainlywasquiteuninterested,forhemusthaverecognizedher;but
perhapsnot;peoplelooksodifferentinlargestrawhatstowhattheyappearwith
scarvesofchiffontiedovertheirheads.Butwhyhadshecomethiswayatall?
Shewishedathousandtimesshehadsuggestedgoingroundthepyramids
instead.
"Tamara,"saidMrs.Hardcastle,whentheyweresafelydescendingthefurther
sand-path,withnounclothedyounggiantinview,"didyouseetherewasaman
inthatchair?Whatadreadfulpersontobelyingonthebalcony—undressed!"
"Inevernoticed,"saidTamara,withoutablush."Iamsurprisedatyouhaving


looked,Millie—whenthisviewissofine."
"But,mydearchild,Icouldnotpossiblyhelpseeinghim.Howyoudidnot
notice,Ican'tthink;hehadpyjamason,Tamara—andbarefeet!"
Mrs.Hardcastlealmostwhisperedthelastterriblewords.
"Isupposehefelthot,"saidTamara;"itisagrillingday."
"Butreally,dear,nonicepeople,inanyweather,remain—er—undressedat
twelveo'clockinthedayforpassers-bytolookat—dothey?"
"Well,perhapsheisn'taniceperson,"allowedTamara."Hemaybemad.
Whatwashelike,sinceyousawsomuch,Millicent?"
Mrs.Hardcastleglancedoverhershoulderreproachfully."Youreallyspeakas
thoughIhadlookedonpurpose,"shesaid."Heseemedverylong—andnotfat.I
suppose,ashishairwasnotverydark,hemustbeanEnglishman."
"Oh,dear,no!"exclaimedTamara."NotanEnglishman."Thenseeingher
friend'sexpressionofsurprise,"Imean,itisn'tlikelyanEnglishmanwouldlie
onhisbalconyinpyjamas—atleastnottheonesweseeinCairo;they—theyare
toobusy,aren'tthey?"
ThismiserablylameexplanationseemedtosatisfyMillicent.Itwastoohotand
toodisagreeable,shefelt,clingingtothedonkeywhileitdescendedthesteep
path,tocontinuethesubjectfurther,havingtoturnone'sheadovertheshoulder
likethat;butwhentheygotonthebroadlevelshebeganagain:
"Possiblyitwasamadman,Tamara,sentherewithakeeper—inthatout-of-thewayplace.Howfortunatewehadthedonkeyboyswithus!"
Tamaralaughed.
"Youdeargoose,Millie,hecouldn'thaveeatenusup,youknow;andhewasnot
doingtheleastharm,poorthing.Weshouldnothavegonethatway;itmayhave
beenhisprivatepath."
"Still,nooneshouldlieaboutundressed,"Mrs.Hardcastleprotested."Itisnotat
allnice.Girlsmighthavebeenridingwithus,andhowdreadfulitwouldhave


beenthen."
"Letusforgetit,pet!"Tamaralaughed,"andtrotonandgetsomerealexercise."
Soofftheystarted.
Justastheywereturningoutofthehotelgate,lateinthesameafternoon,a
youngmanonanArabhorsepassedthecarriage.Hewasinordinaryriding
dress,andlookedaslim,gracefulsightashetrottedahead.
Heneverglancedtheirway.ButwhileTamarafeltasuddenemotionofsorts,
Mrs.Hardcastleexclaimed:
"Look,look!Iamsurethatishe—themadmanwhoworethosepyjamas."


CHAPTERIII
TheKhedive'sballwasafairlyfinesight,Tamarathought,butdrivingthrough
thestreetstooksucharidiculouslylongtime,thecrowdwassogreat.Thepalace
itselfwas,andprobablyisstill,likeallotherpalacesthataredecoratedinthat
nondescriptstyleofThirdEmpireFrance—notathingofbeauty.Butthelevée
uniformsoftheofficersgaveanairofbrilliancecontrastedwiththeciviliansof
theGovernmentofEgypt.Tamarathoughttheirdressveryugly,itremindedher
ofaclergyman'satachildren'sparty,wherehehasbeendecoratedwithcapsand
shamordersfromthecrackerstoamusethelittleguests.Itseemedstrangetosee
theEnglishfacesbeneaththefez.SheandMillicentHardcastlewalkedabout
andtalkedtotheirfriends.Thereweremanysmartyounggallantsinthe
regimentsthenquarteredinCairo,whoenjoyeddancingwiththeslender,
youthfulwidowwiththegoodjewelsandprettydress,andsoonTamarafound
herselfwhirlingwithagayhussar.
"LetusstopneartheRoyaltiesandlookattheRussians,"hesaid.
"Youknow,aGrandDukearrivedto-day,andmustbehereto-night."
TheycametoastandstillclosetothelittlegroupsurroundingtheKhedive,and
amidthesplendiduniformsoftheGrandDuke'ssuitetherewasoneofscarlet,
thelikeofwhichTamarahadneverseenbefore.
AfterwardshelearneditwasaCossackoftheEmperor'sescort,butatthe
momentitseemedlikeagorgeousfancydress.Thehighbootsandlong,
strangelygracefulcoat,cutwithanEasternhang,thewhiteunder-dress,theway
theloosescarletsleevesfellatthewrist,showingthewhitetightones,thegold
andsilvertrimmingsandthearms,stuckinthequaintbelt,allpleasedhereye
extremely;andthensherecognizeditswearerastheyoungmanoftheSphinx.
Howdresschangesaperson!shethought.Helookedateasenowinthis
gorgeousgarment,andaveryprinceforafairytale.Thataccountedforthe


dreadfulgrayflannel—hewasasoldierandunaccustomedtowearingordinary
clothes.Shehadheardthatinforeigncountrieseventheofficersworetheir
uniformshabitually;notastheEnglishdo,merelyasanirksomeduty.
Hedidnotappeartoseeher,butwhenshebegandancingagain,andpaused
oncemoreforbreath,shewasclosetohimashestoodsomewayapartand
alone.
Theireyesmet.Hishadthesamewhimsicalprovokingsmileinthemwhich
angeredandyetattractedher.Hemadenomovetobowtoher,nordidhetake
anystepstobeintroduced.Sheburntwithannoyance.
"Hemightatleasthavebeenpresented;itistooimpertinentotherwise!"she
thought.
Sheknewshewaslookingherbest:afair,distinguishedwomanasyoungand
freshasagirl.Hardlyamanintheroomwasunconsciousofherpresence.
Angerlentanextrabrightnesstohereyesandcheeks.Shewentondancing
wildly.
Thenexttimeshewasnearthestrangerwassomehalfanhourlater,although
notoncewassheabletobanishthescarletformfromherview.Hedidnot
dance.HetalkednowandthentohisPrince,andthenhewaspresentedtothe
officialladies,withtherestofthesuite.Helookedbored.
Tamarawouldnotaskhisname,whichshecouldhavedonewithease,asevery
onewasinterestedintheRussiansandgladtotalkaboutthem.Sheavoidedthe
Englishgroupofbigwigswheretheywerestanding,andwhereshehadherplace
—AndwhentheypassedthetallCossackagainsheturneduponhima
witheringlyunconsciousglance.
However,thiswasnottocontinuethewholenight,forpresentlyshewas
requestedbyoneoftheattachéstocomeandbepresentedtotheGrandDuke,
andwhenshehadmadehercurtseythesuitecameupinturn.
"PrinceMilaslávski,"andsheheardoneofhisfriendscallhim"Gritzko."The
namefellpleasantlyonherears—"Gritzko"!Whywashesuchawretchasto
humiliateherso?Shefelthorriblysmall.Sheoughtnevertohavelethimspeak
toherattheSphinx.Shewasbeingthoroughlypunishedforher
unconventionalitynow!


ShesaidafewwordsinFrenchtoeachoftheothers,andthen,ashestillstood
therewiththatprovokingsmileinhissplendideyes,sheturnedawayalmost
bitingherlipwithshameandrage.
Beforesheknewitshewasdancingwithafiercecountingreenandsilver.Their
conversationwasinteresting.
"Youareheresincelong,Madame?"
"No,Monsieur,onlyafewweeks,andIgoto-morrow."
"Ah!youdancebeautifully!"
"DoI?Iamglad——"
TheRussianCountheldherverytightly,andtheystoppedquiteoutofbreath,
wherethescreenedwindowshalf-hidthepoorladiesoftheharem,whowatched
thethrongfromtheirsaferetreat.
TheCountbowed—andTamarabowed.Asection,notthewholedance,was
evidentlytheRussiancustom.
Thenavoicesaidclosetoherear:
"MayI,too,havethehonorofaturn,Madame?"andshelookedupintotheeyes
ofthePrince.
Forasecondshehesitated.Herfirstimpulsewastoscornfullysayno,butshe
quicklyrealizedthatwouldbeundignifiedandabsurd;soshesaidyes,coldly,
andlethimplacehisarmabouther.Thebandwasplayingaparticularly
sensuousvalse,whichdroveallyoungpeoplemadthatyear,and—iftheCount
haddancedwell—thisman'smovementswereheaven.Tamaradidnotspeaka
word.Shepurposelydidnotlookathim,butdroopedherproudheadsothatthe
flashingdiamondsofhertiarawereallhecouldhaveseenofher.
Heputnospecialmeaningintothewayheheldher;hejustdanceddivinely;but
therewassomethinginthecreaturehimselfofaperfectlyannoying
attractiveness—orsoitseemedtoTamara.
Theyatlastpausedforamoment,andthenhespoke.Hemadenottheslightest


allusiontotheSphinxincident.HespokegravelyofCairo,andthepolo,andthe
races,andsaidthathisGrandDukehadarrivedthatday.Hewasnotonhisstaff,
butwasindeedtravellinginEgyptforhisownamusementanddelectation,he
said.
HehadbeentheresinceNovember,itseemed,andhadbeenuptheNile,andhad
fortunatelybeenabletosecurealittlebungalowatMena,wherehecouldspend
somehoursofpeace.
ThenTamaralaughed.SherememberedMillicentHardcastle'sconsternation
overthoseunfortunatepyjamas.ShewonderedifMillicentwouldrealizethat
she—Tamara—wasdancingwiththeirwearernow!Whenshelaughedheputhis
armaroundheroncemoreandbegandancing.Thistimeheheldherrather
closely,andsuddenlyasshelaughedagaintoherselfprovokingly,heclaspedher
tight.
"IfyoulaughlikethatIwillkissyou—hereintheroom,"hesaid.
Tamarastoppeddeadshort.Sheblazedwithanger.
"Howdareyoubesoimpertinent?"shesaid.
Theywereupinacorner;everyone'sbackwasturnedtothemhappily,forinone
secondhehadbentandkissedherneck.Itwasdonewithsuchincredible
swiftnessandaudacitythatevenhadtheybeenobserveditmustonlyhave
lookedasthoughhebenttopickupsomethingshehaddropped.Butthekiss
burnedintoTamara'sflesh.
Shecouldhardlykeepthetearsofoutragedpridefromhereyes.
"Howdareyou!Howdareyou!"shehissed."Trulyyouaremakingmeashamed
ofhavingletyouspeaktomelastnight!"
"Lastnight?"hesaid,whileheforciblydrewherhandwithinhisarmandbegan
walkingtowardthegroupofherfriends."Lastnightyouwereafraidsome
shouldseemefromthehotel,andto-nightyoudareme.DoitoncemoreandI
willkissyourlips!"
Tamarawentdeadwhite;shefeltasifthegroundweresinkingbeneathherfeet;
herkneestrembled.Inallhersmooth,conventionallyorderedlifeshehadnever


experiencedsuchastrongemotion.
ThePrinceglancedather,andthefiercenesswentoutofhiseyes.Hebowed
gravelywiththemostcourtlyhomage,andleftherstandingbyMillicent'sside.
ThenTamararememberedshewasalady,andthattenuewasexpectedofher;so
sheturnedtoherfriendgailyandsaidhowshewasenjoyingtheball;buther
finenostrilsquiveredatintervalsfortherestofthenight.
"ThankGod!"shesaidtoherself,whenafewhourslatershegotintobed
—"ThankGod!wearegoingtomorrow.Ishallneverseehimagain,andnoone
shalleverknow."


CHAPTERIV
Nextdaytheystarted,escortedtothestationbyatroupeofgushingfriends.
Theircompartmentwasabowerofflowers,andaseachmomentwentby
Tamara'sequanimitywasrestoredbythethoughtthatshewouldsoonbeoutof
thelandofherdisgrace.
ItisatiresomejourneytoAlexandria—dustyandglaringandnotofgreat
interest.Theyhurriedonboardtheshipwhentheyarrived,withouteven
glancingattheirfellowpassengersfollowinginthegangway.Neitherwoman
wasaperfectsailorandbothwerequiteovercomewithfatigue.Itpromisedtobe
adisagreeablenight,too,sotheyretiredatoncetotheircabins,andweresoon
asleep.
Thenextday,whichwasSunday,thewindblew,butbytheafternooncalmed
downagain,andTamaradecidedtodressandgoondeck.
"Mrs.Hardcastlewentupsomehoursago;shewasreadyforluncheon,ma'am,"
hermaidtoldher.
"Sheleftamessageforyoutojoinherwhenyouwoke."
TheshipwastheusualsortofshipthatgoesfromAlexandriatoTrieste,andthe
twoEnglishladieshadsecuredplacesfortheirchairsinthemostprotectedspot.
Tamararatherlookedforwardtobeingabletositthereinthemoonlightand
enjoytheMediterranean.
Hermaidprecededherwithherrugandcushionandbook,anditwasnotuntil
shewasquitesettledthatshetookcognizanceofanemptychairatherother
side.
"Youlazychild!"MillicentHardcastlesaid."Tosleepalldaylikethis!Ithas


beenquitebeautifulsinceluncheon,andIhavehadamostagreeabletime.That
extremelypoliteniceyoungRussianPrincewemetattheKhedive'sballishere,
dear;indeed,thatishischairnextyou.HeiswithStephenStrong.Wehavebeen
talkingforhours."
Tamarafeltsuddenlyalmostcold.
"Ineversawhiminthetrainorcomingonboard,"shesaid,withalmostagasp.
"NordidI,andyethemusthavebeenjustbehindus.Ourplacesatmealsare
nexthim,too.Sofortunatehewasintroduced,becauseonecouldnottalktoa
strangeman,evenonaboat.Inevercanunderstandthosepeoplewhopickup
acquaintancespromiscuously;canyou,dear?"
"No,"saidTamara,feebly.
Shewasponderingwhattodo.ShecouldnotdeclinetoknowthePrincewithout
makingsomeexplanationtoMillicent.Shealsocouldnotflatterhimsomuch.
Shemustjustbeicilycold,andifheshouldbefurtherimpertinentshecould
remaininhercabin.
Butwhatanannoyingcontretemps!Andshehadthoughtsheshouldneversee
himagain!—andhereuntilWednesdayafternoon,shewouldbeconstantly
remindedofthemostdisgracefulincidentinhercareer.Allbroughtuponherself,
too,byherownactioninhavinglapsedfromtherigidrulesinwhichAuntClara
hadbroughtherup.
IfshehadnotansweredhimattheSphinx—hecouldnothave—butsherefused
todwellupontheshameofthisrecollection.
Shehadquitehalfanhourtogrowcalmbeforethecauseofherunrestcame
evenintosight,andwhenhedid,itwastowalkpastinthecompanyoftheirold
friend,StephenStrong.
ThePrinceraisedhiscapgravely,andTamaracomfortedherselfbynoticing
againhowbadlyhisclothesfittedhim!Howunsuitable,andevenridiculous,
theyweretoEnglisheyes—Thatgaveherpleasure!Alsoshemusthavealittle
funwithMillicent.
"Hasitstruckyou,Millie,thePrinceisthesameyoungmanwesawinthe


pyjamasontheveranda?Iamsurprisedatyourspeakingtosuchaperson,even
ifhehasbeenintroduced!"
Mrs.Hardcastleraisedanaggrievedhead.
"Really,Tamara,"shesaid,"Ihadaltogetherforgottenthatunpleasantincident.I
wishyouhadnotremindedmeofit.Heisamostrespectful,modest,
unassumingyoungman.Iamsurehewouldbedreadfullyuncomfortableifhe
wereawarewehadseenhimso."
"Ithinkhelookedbetterlikethatthanhedoesnow,"Tamararejoined,spitefully.
"Didyoueverseesuchclothes?"
Mrs.Hardcastlewhiskedrightroundinherchairandstaredatherfriend.She
wasshocked,inthefirstplace,thatTamarashouldspeaksolightlyofabreachof
decorum;and,secondly,shewasastonishedatanotheraspectofthecase.
"Ithoughtyouneversawhimatallthatmorning!"sheexclaimed.
Tamarawasnettled.
"Yourdescriptionwassovivid;besides,Ilookedback!"
"Youlookedback!Tamara!afterIhadtoldyouhewasn'tdressed!Mydear,how
couldyou?"
"Well,Idid.—Hush!heiscomingtowardus,"andTamarahurriedlyopeneda
bookandlookeddown.
"AtlastMrs.Lorainehasarrivedondeck,"sheheardMillicentsay;andthen,for
convention'ssakeshewasobligedtoglanceupandbowcoldly.
Theyoungmandidnotseemtheleastimpressed;hesatdownandpulledhisrug
roundhiskneesandgazedoutatthesea.Thesunhadset,andthemoonwould
soonriseinallherfullglory.
Therewashardlytwilightandtheship'selectriclightswerealreadybeinglit.
TheoldEnglishman,StephenStrong,greetedherandtookthechairatMrs.
Hardcastle'sotherside.Thatladywasinoneofherchattymoods,wheneach
nicelyexpressedsentencefellfromherlipsdirectlyaftertheother—allso


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