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42. A Year Later
Beneath an awning spread above the balcony of one of those modern elegant
flats, which today characterize Heliopolis, the City of the Sun, site of perhaps the
most ancient seat of learning in the known world, a party of four was gathered,
awaiting the unique spectacle which is afforded when the sun's dying rays fade
from the Libyan sands and the violet wonder of the afterglow conjures up old
magical Egypt from the ashes of the desert.
"Yes," Monte Irvin was saying, "only a year ago; but, thank God, it seems more like
ten! Merciful time effaces sadness but spares joy."
He turned to his wife, whose flower-like face peeped out from a nest of white fur.
Covertly he squeezed her hand, and was rewarded with a swift, half coquettish
glance, in which he read trust and contentment. The dreadful ordeal through which
she had passed had accomplished that which no physician in Europe could have
hoped for, since no physician would have dared to adopt such drastic measures.
Actuated by deliberate cruelty, and with the design of bringing about her death
from apparently natural causes, the Kazmah group had deprived her of cocaine for
so long a period that sanity, life itself, had barely survived; but for so long a period
that, surviving, she had outlived the drug craving. Kazmah had cured her!
Monte Irvin turned to the tall fair girl who sat upon the arm of a cane rest-chair
beside Rita.
"But nothing can ever efface the memory of all you have done for Rita, and for
me," he said, "nothing, Mrs. Seton."
"Oh," said Margaret, "my mind was away back, and that sounded--so odd."
Seton Pasha, who occupied the lounge-chair upon the broad arm of which his wife
was seated, looked up, smiling into the suddenly flushed face. They were but
newly returned from their honeymoon, and had just taken possession of their
home, for Seton was now stationed in Cairo. He flicked a cone of ash from his
"It seems to me that we are all more or less indebted to one another," he declared.
"For instance, I might never have met you, Margaret, if I had not run into your
cousin that eventful night at Princes; and Gray would not have been gazing
abstractedly out of the doorway if Mrs. Irvin had joined him for dinner as arranged.
One can trace almost every episode in life right back, and ultimately come--"
"To Kismet!" cried his wife, laughing merrily. "So before we begin dinner tonight--
which is a night of reunion--I am going to propose a toast to Kismet!"
"Good!" said Seton, "we shall all drink it gladly. Eh, Irvin?"
"Gladly, indeed," agreed Monte Irvin. "You know, Seton," he continued, "we have
been wandering, Rita and I; and ever since your wife handed her patient over to
me as cured we have covered some territory. I don't know if you or Chief Inspector
Kerry has been responsible, but the press accounts of the Kazmah affair have
been scanty to baldness. One stray bit of news reached us--in Colorado, I think."
"What was that, Mr. Irvin?" asked Margaret, leaning towards the speaker.