Puslapio vaizdai

the street. It was my first glimpse of seeing and being seen by the European her and hers of me, although we had world and could not condescend to a known one another since the autumn. mere Moslem lady in a coupé. She wore the white veil that goes over "Once or twice I looked round, and the ears and which meets the black Ziba was nibbling my chocolates; and, dress, or habara, but she had chosen “Wait a little,' she said later; 'we will one so transparent that I could catch give the horses a rest.' Hamouda, the

a the outline of her face below the eyes eunuch, sat impassive, his long legs and brow, and even the curves and hunched up, his hairless face turning color of her small, red mouth. A little neither to the right nor to the left. aquiline her nose was, but only a sug- Several times, in his high, piping voice, gestion. And she was slim and of he spoke to me, asking me the name of middle height and very delicate about my town, how long I had been in the hands and feet. Exquisitely Cairo, and why their usual coachman gloved and shod she was, and exqui- was not on duty? He was sick, I exsitely clean and neat all over, as these plained. I did not encourage Hamwomen always are when they come of ouda. I wore the same dress as our a good family. She stepped through other men, and was tanned and dark; the gate and stood on the curb below but the character of my face is not me, and, speaking in Arabic before the Egyptian, now, is it?" servants, she said very slowly and “Hardly," I agreed with him. “No, rather shyly: 'You will drive along the it certainly is n't Egyptian.” road that leads to the Pyramids. I He continued: wish to smell the air.' And all the time “Ziba's eyes had been in the small of she was looking into my face and my back throughout that drive as she searching, as much as to say, 'So this sat munching the chocolates or putting is he?'

one of the roses to her yashmak; and I “The eunuch Hamouda gave her had seen little enough of her, except his hand; she lifted one little foot and in the few times when I had turned to then another. Hamouda then climbed take her orders. Always she spoke beside me on the box, a tall, lean, bony in Arabic, but when we came again to Nubian, with tarboosh and frock- the Taher palace and it was time to coat, elastic side boots, and a big gold separate, disregarding the ungainly watch-chain. I felt like throwing him Hamouda, she stepped out of the caroverboard and driving away with Ziba; riage, and, stopping for a moment as but that was not very feasible, and I though to look at my ponies, she gave the word to my two ponies, and turned her bright eyes full on me, and, off we went to 'smell the air' along the finding her words in English, 'You are Pyramids road.

all sweetness,' she said; and, 'You are "Other carriages passed us. In like pearls and rubies,' I answered. some I had acquaintances, but no one Then, 'Aiwa, ya sitt,' I added, for the recognized me; for it never occurred servants were listening. She turned, to them to look at the coachman, but my flowers in her hand, and went into always at the occupant. Even Taher the house. But after all those weeks and his French artiste went by without we had seen each other, and each of a sign; but they were too much bent on us was pleased with the discovery."


“She was risking her life to be with me. Can any woman do more?'"

music lessons when I am not too lazy. 86

I will send to her, and then you must Vignolles had paused here to dwell find her house, and I can meet you for a moment on that far-off recollec- there. I will send to her to-day.' tion. He refilled his glass, lit an- "I went to Zeitoun the very next other cigar, and watched the smoke evening. It is a suburb of Cairo, a dissolve as it rose between us.

place full of little villas set in gardens; I waited for him, and I could well and there I found the villa of Madame picture the Vignolles of those days; Sangrano, a dark and rather oily not yet thirty, tall and dark and Maltese woman of about forty, who slender, a handsome fellow, if ever lived with a Syrian servant girl, a wild, there was one, and not a bit spoilt, and Gipsy-like creature, without shoes or easy and a trifle thoughtful. He had stockings, and all of whose clothing lived; even then he had seen much of looked like coming to pieces. the world and known its difficulties “Madame Sangrano was expecting and disillusions: but, as he himself had me. We sat in her little garden, with said, he was young, and he had always its gourds and purple bougainvillea, been possessed by an urging spirit of its shrubs and mosquitos, and its adventure. Such, then, was the man runnels of water, and with the first who had captivated this lovely Mos- star in the sky. lem woman. I could see her, too, with “You will come alone,' she arher exquisite grace, her eagerness, and ranged it, and Madame Taher will entire remoteness from our Western follow. She may as well make me a world, where women run free, a visit as anybody else, and she can say creature sheltered, ignorant, and yet she has come to see me about her delightful, with a depth, maybe, an music. You will pay me one pound intensity, in those few matters that Egyptian. It is very little.' she could call her own. A simple di- All that was agreed. I would have rectness, perhaps, a certain savagery. agreed to anything. Two days later I don't know how I came to these Ziba rang me up and told me that at conclusions, but there she stood. six o'clock in the evening she would be

And that was all?” I prompted. at Zeitoun. I closed my office early

“Not by any means," he replied. and took the train. She came by road “That was only the beginning. She in one of our carriages. was at the telephone next morning,' "I was drinking my first cup of tea he pursued. “She had not slept all with the stout Maltese who called hernight, and when she heard my voice, self an Italian when Ziba was an'I love you,' she said; 'do you love me?' nounced, and the Syrian servant girl

“I answered her quite honestly, but showed her in to us. Outside stood the it all looked hopeless; for there were coupé with its two Arabs, and with the eunuchs; there was that guarded Hamouda, the black eunuch, seated house. But there was a way.

on the box. One could see them “I have a friend, a Christian friend,' through the window. They had their she added, 'Madame Sangrano. She is orders to come back in an hour. At Italian and a widow. She lives at a last Madame Sangrano withdrew and little house in Zeitoun. She gives me left us to ourselves. It was only then that Ziba removed her veil, the white two lives; the rest, illusion and a dream. yashmak that was fastened to her ears, Sometimes we looked ahead, trying to and let me see her face and the firm, arrive at a future; but in truth we full neck, with the blue veins that were two children caught up in a net. marked the whiteness of the trans- We made plans to escape it. parent skin below. I have never known “The mother-in-law had come back a woman more beautiful, tenderer, from her visit to Alexandria, Taher's more complete. She was nothing else own horses were recovered, and a but woman, and minemine so ut- second coupé was no longer required. terly as she quivered in the arms that Our meetings became more difficult. held her close. She was risking her "'I will pay a Greek to stab my life to be with me. Can any woman husband, Ziba once proposed, 'and do more? I loosened the hood that then you can take me to England.' covered her head, I took the black "I, too, thought of an elopement, habara from her shoulders and drew and I could hardly have been quite her clear of it. She was in a dress of mad when I faced the question of thinnest gauze now, flowered with flight with her; for I could never see silver. She had smooth hair like silk, her and think of her as living amid of a pale brown, and small, pink feet, the cold and wet of the sunless North. the color of rosebuds. Time fled with And one day I said to her, 'You would her, and when the carriage had waited be unhappy with me there; only a rich a second hour, she tore herself away, man could take you to Europe and and I was left alone with Madame give you the life to which you are acSangrano and the Syrian maid-servant. customed.' She was so helpless and so Romantic creatures both, I could have remote from our material struggles bashed their heads together.

and our strange society of women who "Next morning early I was back at are much like men and move quite the office, rubbing my eyes and won- freely in the world! And of money she dering whether it all had been a dream. knew nothing; she had always had her But it was no dream; for soon she was swarm of servants, her horses, her carcooing softly in the telephone. I won- riages; all her luxurious wants had der whether anybody heard us at the been fulfilled. At the thought of her exchange. We were mad, utterly and managing a poor man's house in Enggloriously mad, the two of us, that land, the slave to duties and the morning twenty-something years ago. life we others lead, I knew it was im

"A curious double life began for us. possible. Ziba was made for loving Outwardly, we lived in our respective and being loved; to charm, to fasciworlds; I, with my horses and stables nate, to touch the senses. That had and Gyppo drivers, and Marini com- been her education, the end to which ing in to collect the money and flatter she and all of her kind had been me for the great success I had made of directed. it; and she, secluded in her harem be- "'If I had ten thousand a year,' I yond Bab Ul Luk. But once or twice said at last, 'we might be happy even a week we could steal off and meet in in Europe.' secret at the Maltese woman's villa. Malish,' she said, nestling closer Those hours were the realities of our to me; 'it does not matter.'



"One thing I remember very for- had his suspicions. Twice I had been cibly about her was her strange igno- delayed, arriving late at Madame rance of all that concerned her own Sangrano's villa, and had passed the people, and even of the very city she carriage as it waited. dwelt in and where she had spent her One day Ziba rang me up, and I life. I spoke to her of the great went to the telephone. mosques, of my previous prowlings 'I fear—I fear everything!' she and explorations. She had seen noth- cried. 'Taher has been told. You ing of this side of the town, knew must pay a Greek to kill him. But nothing of its history or of its monu- quick! ments.

"Some one must have interrupted “But the Sultan Hasan Mosque is her, for that was all. After it there like you,' I said. “It is perfect; so fell a silence. I waited and I waited; beautiful that I uttered a cry when I day after day went by, and I heard no found it.' And, in truth, there was more. And the great heat came, and between them a certain resemblance. the sand-storms that mark the turnAll that flesh and blood could give, ing of the year. The tourists had all she could give. The perfection of line departed; Cairo was emptying. Ziba and curve that had so awed me in would have sent me word had she, too, that masterpiece was hers; and it had gone. I called on Madame Sangrano. never known the sadness, the suffering, She could gain admission to the house which pierces with mystery and trans- and find out what had happened. I figures our Western shrines.

begged her to do so. She promised, “March came, and then April and and named her price; she was a rare the beginning of the hot weather. old bloodsucker. I lingered for a a The French artiste departed after a space in her low, squat villa, with the highly successful season, and Taher two rooms she had left clear for us all Bey was left alone. He played cards haunted by the presence of the woman most of the night in his club or in his who now seemed lost. It hurt me to selamlik, and though a Turk and so be there; it hurt me to be idle. Maproud of it, he began to dabble in dame Sangrano promised to call on me Egyptian politics. With us he did not in a few days and give me news. interfere. But once or twice we had "When she came, I was alone, and been careless, and there were always she sat down in the chair in my office those eyes on us—the eyes of servants, reserved for customers. the eyes of all that silent throng who “I have bad news,' she began. live by the will and desires of their “I knew that; I had a premonition. master. There is no mystery in the “Taher Bey has found us out, and East with all those people watching, Madame Taher is gone. They say she and to me, the interloper, they would has been poisoned, but who will ever be more than hostile.

There was know? I have it from a woman of her Abdul, our head man, religious and household. That is all I can tell you. fanatical. Sometimes I wondered It is dangerous to meddle with these what he knew as his eyes followed me Moslem women, most dangerous. those afternoons when I escaped; and Hamouda, the eunuch, must have perhaps Hamouda, the eunuch, too, spied on us. It has cost me money to

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