Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/196

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ing luscious fruit and odorous blossom under the horse's hoofs, searching beneath the shadows and under the tangled aisles of foliage for the dastard who must be refuged there; one dusky glimpse of a crouching form, one flash of the starlight on a hidden lace, and he would have fired on him now without a moment's check; his blood was up, his passions were let loose, and the Greek might as well have sought for leniency from the jaws of a panther as for mercy from Erceldoune then, had he ridden him down in his cover and dragged him out in the still Eastern night.

He rode furiously, hither and thither, through the thickest glades and where the shadows were deepest, searching for that to which he had no clue, in chase of a quarry which every turn he missed, every clump of shrubs he passed, every screen of aloes whose spines his horse refused to breast, might hide and shelter from his vengeance. Nothing met his eye or ear but the frightened birds that flew from their sleep among the piles of blossom, and the shrill hiss of the cicala, scared from its bed in the grasses. In the leafy recesses and the winding aisles of those hanging gardens overlooking the Bosphorus, a hundred men might have been secreted, and defied the search of one who was a strange to the ground;