Page:Idalia, by 'Ouida'.djvu/52

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IDALIA

Border land,—a tall man, dressed in a dark loose coat of soft Canadian furs, with a great cheroot in his mouth, ran up the station stairs, and threw down his gold:

"First class to town;—all right."

He took his ticket, flung open a door of an unoccupied carriage, and threw himself into a seat with the rapidity of one used never to idle time and never to be kept waiting by others, and the train, with a clash and a clang, darted out into the darkness, plunging down into the gloom as into the yawning mouth of Avernus, its track faintly told by the wraith-like smoke of the wreathing steam and the scarlet gleam of the signal-lamps.

The Dalmatian had looked after him with some curiosity:

"Who is that?" he asked the clerk.

"Erceldoune, of the King's Rest. He is a Queen's messenger, you know, always rushing about at unearthly times, like a wandering Jew. I say, what the dickens is that word; Arabic, ain't it?"

The Dalmatian, with a smile, looked after the train, then turned and spelt out the words.

"Such gibberish! If that ain't a rum start somehow or other, I'm a Dutchman," thought the tele-