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HOME > Classical Novels > The Last Egyptian > CHAPTER XVII. ANETH SURRENDERS.
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CHAPTER XVII. ANETH SURRENDERS.
Kāra went straight to Aneth’s apartments, insisting that he must see her.

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 trying circumstances.

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{188} 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 Kāra.

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, and said:

“You must pardon me, Miss Aneth, for forcing this interview upon you; but it was necessary.”

“Forgive me, also, Prince Kāra,” faltered the girl.{189} “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 her words.

“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 part.”

“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 meant.

“According to our laws,” he resumed, “I can bring an action to recover this money against any member{190} 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.”
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