Kāra went straight to Aneth’s apartments, insisting that he must see
The girl was much distressed by this sudden visit, and, thinking that
the Egyptian wished merely to renew his protestations and appeals, tried
hard to evade the ordeal of an interview. Mrs. Everingham was with her
at the time, and in her perplexity Aneth confided to her in a few brief
words Kāra’s infatuation, and asked her advice how to act under such
Mrs. Everingham was a woman of strong character and shrewd judgment. She
was tall and admirably formed, with undoubted claims to beauty and a
carriage queenly and dignified. The wife of a prominent engineer,
she had lived much in the Orient and was accustomed to its
unconventionalities as well as to its most representative social life.
Although so much older than Aneth, the lady had manifested a fondness
for the lonely girl from their first meeting, and had gladly taken her,
as she expressed it, “under her wing,” as well as to her sympathetic
heart; so that Aneth had come to rely upon her friend in many ways, and
now turned to her in this emergency.
“I think it will be best for you to see him,” advised Mrs. Everingham,
after a thoughtful consideration of the case. “If you evade the
explanation he doubtless wishes to force upon you, he is the sort of man
to annoy you persistently until you grant him an interview. Better have
it over at once; and be positive with him, my dear, as well as gentle,
so that you leave no hope alive to warrant his renewing his suit.”
“Won’t you stay with me, Lola?” begged Aneth.
“That would hardly be fair to Prince Kāra,” smiled Mrs. Everingham, “for
my presence would embarrass and humiliate him unnecessarily. No; I will
withdraw into the next room, where I shall be within call, but
invisible. Be brave, Aneth dear. These disagreeable duties are often
thrust upon women who, like yourself, have a faculty of unconsciously
winning men’s hearts, and are exacted as inevitable penalties. I am
sorry for the poor prince, but he is not of our race and had no business
to fall in love with an English girl.”
Then she kissed her protégé and retired to the adjoining room, taking
pains to leave the door ajar. Aneth sighed, and called her Arab to admit
When the Egyptian entered, his manner in no way indicated the despair of
a rejected lover, or even the eagerness of one who hoped to successfully
appeal his case. Instead, he bowed coldly, but with profound deference,
“You must pardon me, Miss Aneth, for forcing this interview upon you;
but it was necessary.”
“Forgive me, also, Prince Kāra,” faltered the girl. “I am sorry you
came, for my answer was final. I can never–”
He waved his hand with a gesture of insolent indifference that arrested
“You will not be called upon to repeat the dismissal conveyed in your
letter,” said he. “I may ask you to reverse your decision, but it will
be a matter of business between us, in which inclination will have no
“Sir,” she replied, shrinking back before his stern look, “I–I fear I
do not understand you!”
“Be seated,” he requested, “and I will explain.”
She obeyed silently, with a partial recovery of her self-control.
Strange as the Egyptian’s words proved, they were, after all, more
bearable than his endearing protestations would have been, and in her
ignorance she welcomed any topic but love.
Kāra spoke with brutal frankness.
“The scandal caused by your father’s dishonesty is too recent for you to
have yet escaped its contamination,” he began. “Lord Consinor has left
Cairo owing me money, a matter of some ten thousand pounds. That you may
have no cause to doubt my word, please to examine this note of hand. It
is witnessed by two respectable gentlemen residing in this city.”
He handed her the paper and she took it mechanically, wondering what it
“According to our laws,” he resumed, “I can bring an action to recover
this money against any member of Consinor’s family. I am assured such
an action would ruin Lord Roane completely.”
She was afraid of him now, but drew herself up proudly.
“That will not matter in the least, sir,” she replied. “Lord Roane will
gladly meet any just obligation, even though it may leave him penniless
to do so.”
“My lord does not express himself quite so honorably as that,” replied
Kāra, with an open sneer. “But this note of hand is really unimportant.
I merely mentioned it to emphasize the debt that you and your
grandfather already owe me. Your father has cleverly escaped the result
of his misdeeds by absconding. Unfortunately, Lord Roane is unable to do
the same thing.”
“No one will blame Lord Roane for his son’s faults,” she protested,
greatly distressed by the cruelty of Kāra’s remarks.
“That is not my meaning,” he replied. “Roane’s own misdeeds are so much
more serious than those of his son that, when they are discovered, he
cannot escape a prison cell.”
Aneth gasped in horror. The accusation was at first beyond belief; but
Kāra’s tone was positive and a sudden recollection of her grandfather’s
doubtful life flashed over her and made her dread to question further.
It was not needful. The man continued calmly to enlighten her concerning
McFarland’s crime and her grandfather’s participation in it, while the
girl sat with wide-open eyes and a look of despair upon her white face.
Finally Kāra produced a second paper.
“This, Miss Aneth,” he said, more gently, “is the receipt signed by Lord
Roane for his share of the stolen money. It is proof positive against
him, and you will, of course, recognize his signature. Besides, I can
produce two witnesses to the crime–a crime for which the penalty is, as
I have hinted, a long term of imprisonment as well as dishonor through
all the ages to come. But this is only for discovery. There is no
penalty exacted for an undiscovered crime. Personally, I do not wish to
see Lord Roane disgraced and sent to prison, or your invalid mother
impoverished, and you, yourself, left to the mercies of a reproachful
world; so I have come here to-day to save you all from these
consequences of Roane’s folly, if you will let me.”
Aneth tried to control her bewilderment. She wanted to think calmly. So
vividly had Kāra described Lord Roane’s offense, that she saw it all
before her as in a dream, and knew that the old man’s feet were
stumbling at the edge of a bottomless pit. But the last words of the
Egyptian, if she heard them aright, seemed to promise a chance of her
awakening and exorcising the nightmare.
“How can you save us?” she asked, wearily.
“By making you my wife,” he answered. “It all rests with you, Miss
Aneth. I alone can protect Lord Roane from any possibility of discovery,
and I will do so if you now promise to marry me. More than that, I will
pay off all the mortgages on your grandfather’s estates, so that he may
live in comfort during the remainder of his life, honored and respected
by all. And you shall have your father’s note of hand for the ten
thousand pounds as soon as I receive your promise, as an earnest of my
“And if I refuse?” she suggested, trembling.
“Then you render me powerless to aid, and plunge your aged grandfather
into prison, disgraced and humiliated beyond any hope of redemption.”
“No, no! I cannot do that,” she wailed, miserably. “He has been so good
to me and loved me so fondly that I dare not–I will not–sacrifice him
to secure my own happiness!”
“It is as I hoped,” said Kāra, a note of triumph in his voice. “Do you
promise, sacredly and on your honor, that you will marry me in return
for my shielding your grandfather from the consequences of his crime?”
“Yes,” she answered, clasping her hands with a shudder.
“And you will come to me any day and hour that I may appoint?”
“Aneth! Aneth! what have you said? What have you done?” cried Mrs.
Everingham, running from her hiding-place to clasp the terrified girl in
“What have I done?” repeated Aneth, vacantly. “Why, Lola, I have saved
my dear grandfather from disgrace and ruin.”
[Illustration: “You shall not keep that promise!” declared the woman]
“You shall not keep that promise!” declared the woman, turning fiercely
to confront Kāra. “It was wrung from you by threats–by blackmail–and
this scoundrel is playing upon your generous and loving heart. You shall
never keep so absurd a promise.”
“Yes,” returned Aneth, bravely; “I have given my word, and I shall keep
Kāra laid a paper upon the table.
“There is your father’s note, Miss Aneth. You may destroy it.” He
hesitated an instant, and then added the second paper. “And here is your
grandfather’s receipt for the stolen money. So fully do I trust to your
good faith that I leave the incriminating evidence all in your own
hands. Good afternoon, Miss Aneth.”
With a bow, grave and courteous, he passed from the room, and Mrs.
Everingham lifted the girl in her strong arms and carried her into the
adjoining chamber to lay her tenderly upon her bed. The strain had been
severe, and Aneth had fainted.