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HOME > Classical Novels > The Last Egyptian > CHAPTER XIX. THE ABDUCTION.
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CHAPTER XIX. THE ABDUCTION.
Mrs. Everingham passed the afternoon in Aneth’s company. The girl was visibly nervous and excited, but made pitiful attempts to conceal her weakness. In no way did she allude to Kāra or to the fact that the hour had arrived when she was to consummate the sacrifice of her own happiness to maintain her grandfather’s integrity and the honor of her family’s name.

Her friend ventured one or two remarks about the folly of her promise and the absurdity of keeping it; but these so distressed Aneth, and had so little visible influence upon her decision, that Mrs. Everingham abandoned the topic and turned the conversation into more cheerful channels. When she mentioned Gerald Winston she noticed that Aneth’s cheeks flamed scarlet and then turned deathly white; so here was another subject to be avoided, if she did not wish to make the girl’s position unbearable. Indeed, those last days of association with Gerald had taught Aneth the full extent of her martyrdom, and now she began to realize that she was losing all that might have rendered her life’s happiness complete, had it not been for the advent of Kāra and his terrible threat to destroy the family honor and send her loving grandfather to prison.{218}

Early in the evening Mrs. Everingham kissed her friend and returned to her own room across the corridor, there to complete her simple preparations for the proposed voyage.

Meantime Winston had been busy with Lord Roane. The young man was fortunately a prime favorite with Aneth’s grandsire, and he listened attentively to Gerald’s explanation of a plot to rescue his darling grandchild from the slough of despondency into which she had fallen.

“Mrs. Everingham is confident a Nile voyage would do much to cheer her up and keep her from dwelling upon her troubles,” he suggested. “What do you think of the idea, sir?”

“Capital,” said Roane—“if Aneth can be induced to consent. I asked her to run over to Helwan the other day, for a few weeks’ change of scene; but she declared she would not listen to such a proposal.”

“That is our difficulty,” acknowledged Winston, speaking in a confidential tone. “She has told Mrs. Everingham she would not leave Cairo, but we think her decision is based upon the fear that you would be unable to accompany her; so we have decided to engage in a little conspiracy, for the morbid condition into which she has fallen has made us all anxious. Is there any reason, my lord, why you should not leave Cairo for a month or so?”

“None whatever, if my going will benefit Aneth in any way.”{219}

“Very good! Now, here is our plan. I have fitted my private dahabeah for a cruise. Mrs. Everingham will go along to chaperone your granddaughter, and you will join us to complete her happiness and keep her contented. Only one thing stands in our way—the young lady’s refusal to embark. That barrier will be surmounted by Mrs. Everingham, who is a woman of experience and who loves Aneth as well as if she were her own daughter. So this evening you and I will get aboard quietly, without declaring our intentions to anyone, and rely upon Mrs. Everingham’s promise to join us with Aneth at nine o’clock. Do not ask me, sir, how she will succeed in overcoming your granddaughter’s scruples against leaving Cairo. We will trust to woman’s wit. When the party is embarked, we go up the Nile, to find roses for your grandchild’s pale cheeks and have a jolly good time as well.”

Roane accepted the program with enthusiasm. He himself was in a dreadfully nervous state, expecting hourly to be accused of a crime the proof of which would separate him forever from Aneth. To get away from Cairo just now, without Kāra’s knowing where he had gone, would be to gain a few weeks’ respite. Eagerly he availed himself of the opportunity.

Winston knew there was no danger of the old man’s betraying their plans, but he could not divine what Kāra’s next move might be, and resolved to take no chances; so he clung fast to Roane until he had put him and his light luggage aboard the dahabeah, whereupon{220} he sent a messenger to apprise Mrs. Everingham of his success.

So far, all had gone well; but Mrs. Everingham’s anxiety grew as the hour of nine approached. Lord Roane had sent word to Aneth that he would be out for dinner and might not return to the hotel until late that night; so the girl, glad of this fortunate chance, had her dinner served in her own room, and the Arab servant, being intercepted by Mrs. Everingham, declared that she ate little and wept continually, as if overcome by some hopeless sorrow.

All depended now upon the faithfulness of Tadros the dragoman, and Mrs. Everingham, finding nothing more for her woman’s ingenuity to devise, entered a carriage at half past-eight o’clock and was driven quietly to the embankment. Within sight of the three red lights Winston had displayed, she halted her vehicle to await the arrival of the dragoman.

Tadros, meantime, being fully instructed by Kāra as to the conduct of his mission, drove in the Egyptian’s private carriage to the hotel. The coachman had been instructed to obey the dragoman’s orders implicitly, so he suspected nothing when Tadros, having alighted at the Savoy, commanded him to drive to the citadel and remain in the shadow of the mosque until midnight.

The dragoman then hired another carriage that was driven by a sleepy and stupid-looking Arab, after which he immediately entered the hotel and went directly to Aneth’s room.{221}

She opened the door in person, having dismissed all her attendants.

“It is nine o’clock, miss,” announced Tadros, as he entered.

The girl clasped her hands with a gesture and look of terror.

“Where is—is—Prince Kāra?” she asked, vaguely.

“At his villa, awaiting, with the bridal party, your arrival. You must understand that the wedding is to be very quietly conducted, yet strictly in accordance with the requirements of the Christian f............
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