23. Phil Abingdon's Visitor
On the following morning the card of His Excellency Ormuz Khan was brought to
Phil Abingdon in the charming little room which Mrs. McMurdoch had allotted to
her for a private sanctum during the period of her stay under this hospitable roof.
"Oh," she exclaimed, and looked at the maid in a startled way. "I suppose I must
see him. Will you ask him to come in, please?"
A few moments later Ormuz Khan entered. He wore faultless morning dress, too
faultless; so devoid of any flaw or crease as to have lost its masculine character.
In his buttonhole was a hyacinth, and in one slender ivory hand he carried a huge
bunch of pink roses, which, bowing deeply, he presented to the embarrassed girl.
"Dare I venture," he said in his musical voice, bending deeply over her extended
hand, "to ask you to accept these flowers? It would honour me. Pray do not
"Your excellency is very kind," she replied, painfully conscious of acute
nervousness. "It is more than good of you."
"It is good of you to grant me so much pleasure," he returned, sinking gracefully
upon a settee, as Phil Abingdon resumed her seat. "Condolences are
meaningless. Why should I offer them to one of your acute perceptions? But you
know--" the long, magnetic eyes regarded her fixedly--"you know what is in my
Phil Abingdon bit her lip, merely nodding in reply.
"Let us then try to forget, if only for a while," said Ormuz Khan. "I could show you
so easily, if you would consent to allow me, that those we love never leave us."
The spell of his haunting voice was beginning to have its effect. Phil Abingdon
found herself fighting against something which at once repelled and attracted
her. She had experienced this unusual attraction before, and this was not the first
time that she had combated it. But whereas formerly she had more or less