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HOME > Classical Novels > The Last Egyptian > CHAPTER XV. WINSTON BEY IS INDIGNANT.
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In their rooms at the Savoy next morning Lord Roane and his son quarreled violently. The day’s paper contained a full account of the affair at the club, and while no names were mentioned, there was no misunderstanding who the culprit was. “An English nobleman who had lately arrived to fill an important position in the Ministry of Finance was detected playing with marked cards and loaded dice by a well-known Egyptian gentleman of wealth and high station, who promptly exposed the fraud in the presence of several reputable club members. Fortunately, the Englishman’s name had only been posted and he had not yet been admitted to membership in the club, so that his trickery and consequent disgrace in no way reflects upon that popular and admirably conducted institution, etc.”

Lord Roane was vastly chagrined and indignant as he read the account.

“You low, miserable scoundrel!” he roared, facing his son; “how dare you drag the name of your family in the mire, just as we are assuming an indisputable position of respectability in Cairo? To be a gambler is despicable enough, but to become a common cheat and swindler is utterly unpardonable. What have you to say for yourself?”{157}

“Nothing,” said Consinor, sullenly. “I am innocent. It was a plot to ruin me.”

“Pah! a plot of yours to ruin others rather. Speak up, man! Have you nothing to say to excuse or palliate your shame and dishonor?”

“What use?” asked the viscount, apathetically. “You will not believe me.”

“Do you believe him, Aneth?” asked the old man, turning to gaze upon the girl’s horrified face. “Do you believe that this cur, who is my son and your father, is innocent?”

“No,” she answered, shrinking back as Consinor looked up curiously to hear her reply. “He has deceived me cruelly. He promised me he would not touch a card again, or play for money, and he has broken his word. I cannot believe him now.”

“Of course not,” her father retorted, reddening for the first time. “My precious family is so rotten throughout that even its youngest member cannot give a Consinor credit for being honest or sincere.”

“See here, Roger; I will not have Aneth insulted, even by you. I’m not a saint, I’ll admit; but I’ve never been guilty of petty swindling, and your daughter is pure enough to shame us both. As for you, I’ve done with you, and you must from this time work out your salvation in your own way. You’ve dissipated any inheritance you might have had; but I’ll give you a thousand pounds in cash if you’ll take your ugly face out of Cairo and promise not to come near us again.{158} I’ll take care of your wife and daughter, neither of whom, I am positive, will miss you for a single hour.”

“It’s a good offer,” said Consinor, quickly, “and I’ll accept it. Where did you get the thousand pounds?”

“That,” declared my lord, stiffly, “is none of your accursed business! Now go. Leave your resignation with the Minister of Finance and then make yourself scarce. Here, I’ll write you a check now.”

Consinor took the paper.

“If it is good, and the bank will cash it,” he said, slowly, “I’ll do as I have agreed, and not trouble you again. Good-by, Aneth. Look out for that snakey Egyptian who is following you around. He alone is responsible for this affair, and you cannot afford to trust him; and give my fond farewell to your mother. She won’t mind if I do not appear in person to irritate her nerves.”

“Where will you go?” asked Lord Roane.

“That, sir, to repeat your own words, is none of your accursed business.”

With this filial response he left the room, and Aneth burst into a flood of tears. Never had she felt so wretched and humiliated as at this discovery of her father’s infamy, and although Roane tried to comfort his granddaughter by pointing out the fact that Roger had long been a gambler with a character not above suspicion, the girl had so fondly hoped for her father’s regeneration that her disappointment was indeed bitter.{159}

“It won’t hurt us so very much, my child,” continued the old nobleman, stroking her head soothingly. “The world will know we have repudiated Roger, and will sympathise with our distress. In a few months the scandal will be forgotten, and we may again hold up our heads. I’m afraid I’ve lived a rather wicked life, my dear; but for your sake I would like to retrieve my good name and die possessed of the honor and respect of all my fellow-men. And this, I believe, I can accomplish. Don’t worry, little one! Be brave, and the blow will not hurt half so much.”

There were tears in his own eyes as he marked her distress, and he continued to encourage her until the young girl had partly recovered her self-control and the first shock of her sudden misfortune had been blunted. Then he kissed her tenderly and went away to his office.

The account in the morning paper had likewise caused Gerald Winston considerable amazement and dismay. His first thought was of Aneth and the trouble that had come to her; his next a feeling of resentment toward Kāra. After pacing the floor restlessly for an hour, he called for his saddle-horse and rode down the Shubra road to interview the Egyptian at his villa.

Kāra was at home and received his visitor with cold politeness, which Winston passed unnoticed. He was not in a mood to be affected by trifles.

“I understand that you accused Consinor of cheating at the club last night,” he began, impetuously.{160}

“Well?” said Kāra, lifting his brows inquiringly.

“Why did you do it?”

“Because it was true. He was robbing me.”

“You know what I mean, sir! You have been posing as a friend of Miss Consinor. To expose her father to public shame was the act of a cowardly enemy.”

“What would you have done in my place?” asked Kāra, calmly.

“I? I would have concealed the discovery and allowed the man to go, refusing to play with him again,” declared Winston.

“And so have allowed him to rob others, perhaps?”

“If necessary, yes, that his daughter’s good name might be protected. But a private warning would have induced him to abandon further trickery.”

“He is an old offender, I believe,” said Kāra, leaning back in his chair and regarding the other with an amused expression. “It might benefit you to reflect that Miss Consinor’s good name has not been acquired on account of her father’s respectability, any more than through the reputation of her grandsire, who has grown old in iniquity. Therefore, I cannot believe that I have injured her in any way.”

A tinge of passionate hatred in the man’s voice as he referred to Lord Roane aroused Winston’s attention. Then, suddenly, a light broke upon him.

“See here, Kāra,” he said, sternly, “are you persecuting these people and plotting against them because{161} of the old wrong that Roane did your grandmother, Hatatcha?”

“I am neither persecuting nor plotting against them,” declared Kāra. “Consinor has ruined himself unaided. As for his daughter, I have every object in protecting her from scandal.”

“What do you mean by that, sir?”

“I intend to marry her.”

At this cool statement Winston stared aghast. Then he gave a bitter laugh.

“That is absurd and impossible,” he said.

“Why so?”

“You are cousins.”

“She does not know that, and you will not tell her because you have so much regard for her grandfather’s good name,” with a sneer.

“I see. It is your plot to ruin her; but it will fail, because she will never consent to marry you,” he continued.

“How do you know that?” asked Kāra.

“It is improbable that she can love you.”

“In that, sir, I am inclined to differ with you. Even if Aneth discovered our relationship, it would not matter. In olden days our Egyptian kings married their sisters. And I suppose that Lord Roane would emphatically deny the assertion that I am his grandson. I would myself deny it, and you have no proof to back your statement of the fact.”

“You told me the story with your own lips.”{162}

“To be sure—and the story was true. I do not mind acknowledging it at this moment, because there are no witnesses present; but if you repeat the statement in public, I will deny it absolutely.”

For a moment Winston remained thoughtfully silent. Then he said:

“You are proposing a dreadful crime, Kāra, but it will avail you nothing to defy morality in this way. There is another reason why Miss Consinor will refuse to marry you, and it is entirely distinct from the subject of your relationship.”

“To what do you refer?”

“To the woman you are keeping, even now, in your harem. It is a matter of public scandal, and I am surprised that society has not already ostracized you for your audacious defiance of propriety. You are neither an Arab nor a Mohammedan. Doubtless the offense has not yet come to Miss Consinor’s ears; but if it does, have you any idea she would place her happiness in the hands of a man of your character?”

Kāra frowned. Here was a weapon against him that he had never before recognized.

“I suppose you will take pains to inform Miss Consinor that I have a slave-girl among my servants,” he said, mockingly.

“I shall ask Mrs. Everingham to tell her the truth concerning your domestic relations,” returned Winston, decidedly.

The Egyptian arose.{163}

“I think it will be as well to end this interview, Winston Bey,” he said. “You are yourself a pretender for the hand of my future bride, and it is useless to endeavor to fairly discuss matters wherein you are so selfishly concerned.”

“Do you choose to defy my warnings?” asked Winston, angrily.

“By no means. I merely ignore your implied threats. They can in no way interfere with my plans.”

“I believe,” said Winston, striving to control his indignation, “that those plans are inspired by hatred rather than love. I shall do my best to oppose them.”

“Naturally. It is your privilege, sir.”

Winston turned to go.

“I shall always regret,” he remarked, bitterly, as a parting shot, “that I was so foolish as to bring a filthy native from out the natural environment of his mud village.”

“The filthy native would have found other means of escape had you not brought him; so you need not reproach yourself,” returned Kāra, with a smile. “But the trifle you have mentioned should not be your deepest regret, my stupid Englishman!”

“Did I do anything more foolish?”


“What was it?”

“You kicked me twice beneath the palms of Fedah.”

“Ah! I should not have restrained myself to two kicks.”{164}

“Be content, sir. Twice was sufficient, since it is liable to cause you much unhappiness. I had it in mind, had you kicked me again, to kill you.”

Winston left the villa more thoughtful than he had been on his arrival. The matter involved much more, it seemed, than the loss of Lord Consinor’s reputation. Kāra’s confident tone had not failed to impress his rival, and the Englishman was more uneasy than he cared to admit even to himself. His love for Aneth was sincere and unselfish, and he could imagine no greater calamity for the girl than to acquire a fondness for the treacherous native whose presence he had just left. Such a contingency had not occurred to him before, and for this reason Kāra’s claims were as startling as they were revolting. He longed to go to the girl at once and strive to comfort her in this, her hour of sorrow; but a natural delicacy restrained him. She would like to be alone, at first, until she had somewhat recovered from the humiliation she would be sure to suffer at the public exposure of her father’s misdeeds. Afterward he could assure her of his confidence and friendship, and, when the proper time came, of his love. Meantime he contented himself by sending Aneth a basket of the most beautiful roses to be found in Cairo.

No such delicacy of feeling influenced Kāra. In the afternoon he went to the Savoy and sent up his card.

Aneth was alone, Mrs. Everingham having just left her for a drive. The girl received the Egyptian almost with eagerness.{165}

“Can you forgive me, Prince?” she asked, by way of greeting, as she stood before him with scarlet cheeks and downcast eyes.

“Forgive you for what, Miss Aneth?” he replied, gently.

“For—for the wrong my father did you,” she stammered.

Kāra smiled, and she glanced up shyly in time to catch his expression of amusement.

“Let us sit down and talk it over,” he said, taking her hand and leading her to a chair. “But it will be unnecessary, I am sure, for me to say that I have nothing to forgive, since you have in no way offended.”

“But my father—” she began, timidly, again dropping her eyes in shame.

“Yes, I know, Miss Aneth,” said he. “Your father did a foolish thing, for which people will justly condemn him. I am very sorry that it was through me he was detected, but I assure you I was powerless to prevent it. Others saw the marked cards and forced the accusation against him. Believe me, I would have saved him if possible; but I could not.”

“I believe you, Prince Kāra,” she said. “It was all my father’s fault, and his punishment is only such as he deserved.”

“I am deeply grieved for your sake,” continued Kāra, and indeed the sight of her sweet face, convulsed with anguish, so appealed to him at the moment that his speech was almost sincere. “I know what this disgrace{166} will mean to you, Aneth—the avoidance of your former associates, and the jeers, perhaps, of those who have envied you. The world is heartless always, and visits the sins of the fathers upon their children; so that your innocence will not be considered save by your truest friends.”

He paused, for she was crying now, softly but miserably, and the tears moved him strangely.

“That is why I have come,” he continued, ............
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