Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/205

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phorus, and lost his track in the gardens here. I fanccied——"

"Your assassins!—here!——"

"Doubtles it was an error of mine!" he broke in hastily; that this house could be his murderer's lair was impossible, since it was hers, and he forebore to tell her how closely he had hunted his quarry to her presence, lest he should give her alarm. "I rode him down into a wilderness of palm-trees and cactus, and missed his trail in the darkness;—the coward was unarmed, I could not fire on him, and he escaped me. I saw a light gleam through the cedars; and I forced my entrance; then I forgot all—even forgot what my own violence must appear—since it led me to you!"

His voice dropped and softened as he spoke the last word; the pitiless passion which had alone possessed him as he had dashed aside the draperies and forced his way into what he had believed the covert of the man he hunted, were outweighed and forgotten; even while he spoke he had no memory but for her.

She shuddered slightly, and glanced into the dim twilight gloom of the court on to which her chamber opened.

"If yon tracked him into these gardens, he