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- In Kedar's Tents - 47/47 -


quitted, with a vague wonder in her mind, and the very human doubt that accompanies all possession, as to whether the price paid has not been too high.

Concha was the first to move. He turned and crossed the room towards Conyngham.

'I see,' he said, 'Estella in the garden.'

And they passed out of the room together, leaving Julia Barenna alone with her thoughts. On the broad stone balcony Concha paused.

'I will stay here,' he said. He looked over the balustrade. Senora Barenna was still asleep.

'Do not awake her,' he whispered. 'Let all sleeping things sleep.'

Conyngham passed down the stairs noiselessly, and through the doorway into the garden.

'And at the end--the Gloria is chanted,' said Concha, watching him go.

The scent of the violets greeted Conyngham as he went forward beneath the trees planted there in the Moslems' day. The running water murmured sleepily as it hurried in its narrow channel towards the outlet through the grey wall, whence it leapt four hundred feet into the Tajo below.

Estella was seated in the shade of a gnarled fig tree, where tables and chairs indicated the Spanish habit of an out-of-door existence. She rose as he came towards her, and met his eyes gravely. A gleam of sun glancing through the leaves fell on her golden hair, half hidden by the mantilla, and showed that she was pale with some fear or desire.

'Senorita,' he said, 'I have brought you the letter.' He held it out, and she took it, turning over the worn envelope absent- mindedly.

'I have not read it myself, and am permitted to give it to you on one condition--namely, that you destroy it as soon as you have read it.'

She looked at it again.

'It contains the lives of many men--their lives and the happiness of those connected with them,' said Conyngham. 'That is what you hold in your hand, senorita--as well as my life and happiness.'

She raised her dark eyes to his for a moment, and their tenderness was not of earth or of this world at all. Then she tore the envelope and its contents slowly into a hundred pieces, and dropped the fluttering papers into the stream pacing in its marble bed towards the Tajo and the oblivion of the sea.

'There--I have destroyed the letter,' she said, with a thoughtful little smile. Then, looking up, she met his eyes.

'I did not want it. I am glad you gave it to me. It will make a difference to our lives. Though--I never wanted it.'

Then she came slowly towards him.


In Kedar's Tents - 47/47

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