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- The Sheik - 43/43 -

"My God! child, don't cry so. I can bear anything but that," he cried brokenly.

But the terrible sobs went on, and fearfully he caught her closer, straining her to him convulsively, raining kisses on her shining hair. "_Diane, Diane,_" he whispered imploringly, falling back into the soft French that seemed so much more natural. "_Mon amour, ma bien-aimee. Ne pleures pas, je t'en prie. Je t'aime, je t'adore. Tu resteras pres de moi, tout a moi._"

She seemed only half-conscious, unable to check the emotion that, unloosed, overwhelmed her. She lay inert against him, racked with the long shuddering sobs that shook her. His firm mouth quivered as he looked down at his work. Gathering her up to his heart he carried her to the divan, and the weight of her soft slim body sent the blood racing madly through his veins. He laid her down, and dropped on his knees beside her, his arm wrapped round her, whispering words of passionate love.

Gradually the terrible shuddering passed and the gasping sobs died away, and she lay still, so still and white that he was afraid. He tried to rise to fetch some restorative, but at the first movement she clung to him, pressing closer to him. "I don't want anything but you," she murmured almost inaudibly.

His arm tightened round her and he turned her face up to his. Her eyes were closed and the wet lashes lay black against her pale cheek. His lips touched them pitifully.

"Diane, will you never look at me again?" His voice was almost humble.

Her eyes quivered a moment and them opened slowly, looking up into his with a still-lingering fear in them. "You won't send me away?" she whispered pleadingly, like a terrified child.

A hard sob broke from him and he kissed her trembling lips fiercely. "Never!" he said sternly. "I will never let you go now. My God! If you knew how I wanted you. If you knew what it cost me to send you away. Pray God I keep you happy. You know the worst of me, poor child--you will have a devil for a husband."

The colour stole back slowly into her face and a little tremulous smile curved her lips. She slid her arm up and round his neck, drawing his head down. "I am not afraid," she murmured slowly. "I am not afraid of anything with your arms round me, my desert lover. Ahmed! Monseigneur!"


The Sheik - 43/43

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