"No, most illustrious. Her Excellency left Stamboul this morning."
He staggered like a man who has received a blow.
"Left—where?—why?—for how long?"
The Abyssinian shook her head with a profound salaam; she knew nothing, or would say nothing; her mistress had left Constantinople; where she intended to travel she could not tell; her Excellency was always travelling, she believed; but a note had been given her to deliver to the English Effendi, perhaps that might tell more.
He seized it from her as she drew it from the yellow folds of her sash, and tore it open; a mist was before his sight, and his wrist shook while he held the paper as it had never done lifting the rifle to his shoulder, when one error in the bullet's flight would have been instant death to himself. The letter brought him little solace; it was but a few words of graceful courtesy, giving him the adieu that a sudden departure rendered necessary, but adding nothing of why or whither she was gone, and seeming, in their polished ceremonial, cold as ice to the storm of shattered hope, and tempestuous pain that was life in his own heart.