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    Chapter 63

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    Chapter 63
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    A Moorish Woman's Return

    Sunlight bathed Tangier in a yellow flood, the surface of the bay was a mass of glittering gold; and all that could please the eye was there for their admiration; but the two elderly men who leant over the balustrade of the terrace saw no beauty in the scene; for the heart of one was breaking, and Welling's ached in sympathy.

    The Cadiz mail was in the bay, a black, long-funnelled steamer, that at that moment was taking on the passengers who had been rowed out from the quay.

    "I told her I couldn't come down to see her off, so she won't be very much disappointed," said Welling.

    "Who? Lydia Hamon?"

    Welling nodded.

    "She'll be glad to see the last of Tangier." A pause. "That girl has the makings of a good woman."

    "All women have," said Lord Creith quietly. "At least, that has been my experience."

    Welling sniffed sceptically.

    "There is no news, I suppose?"

    Lord Creith shook his head. His eyes wandered to the stately yacht that lay at anchor in the bay.

    "You'll wait here until you hear something?" suggested Welling.

    "I suppose so," listlessly. "And you?"

    "My work is practically done," said Welling, pulling thoughtfully at his cigar. "I came out to get the beginnings of Hamon, and I've pretty well cleaned up the obscurity of his start. He was a floater of fake companies, and was moderately successful until he brought a strange Englishman out here, a man of some wealth. They lived at the house of Sadi Hafiz and were here together for about a fortnight, when the Englishman and Hamon left together. I have discovered that the stranger paid him a very considerable sum of money--I have been round to the Credit Lyonnais, who have turned up the records. The transaction is very clear; the sum paid was fifty thousand pounds on account."

    "On account of what?" asked Lord Creith, interested in spite of his trouble.

    "That is what I want to know. Apparently a still larger sum was to be paid, but it certainly did not go into Hamon's account here."

    "You don't know the name of this mysterious Englishman?"

    The old man shook his head.

    "I don't, but I guess the money was paid. I should say the final payment was made in the vicinity of Hindhead--if I could only be sure of that, Hamon would not show his nose in Tangier again."

    "He won't anyway," said Creith bitterly. "By heavens, Welling, if the government of this infernal country doesn't do something by to-morrow, I'm going to raise an expedition and go into the interior to find my girl! And the day I meet Ralph Hamon will be his last!"

    Welling sucked at his cigar, his eyes fixed upon the sunlit waters.

    "If Jim Morlake can't find her, you won't," he said.

    "Where has he gone?" wailed Creith. "It is the uncertainty about him that is holding me back."

    "Nobody knows. That English dope-fiend that lives at the tailor's where, I have discovered, Morlake has a room, has been away from Tangier for two days. He came back last night. I've got a feeling that he's in the business, but when I tried to talk with him, he was too sleepy to snore!"

    Two people were riding along the beach toward the town. They were less than half-a-mile away, but were conspicuous by reason of their unseemly animation.

    "You don't often see a Moorish man and woman carrying on a bright conversation in public, do you?" said Welling, watching.

    "Is the smaller one a woman?" asked Creith.

    "I guess so; she is sitting side-saddle."

    Lord Creith fixed his glass and peered at the two, and then the woman raised a hand and waved, and it seemed that the greeting was for him.

    "Are they signalling to us?"

    "It looks like it," said Welling.

    Lord Creith's face had gone suddenly pale.

    "It can't be," he said in a tremulous voice. Then, turning, he ran down the steps across the beach road on to the sands, and the two riders turned their steeds in the direction and kicked them into a gallop.

    Welling watched the scene dumfounded. He saw the Moorish woman suddenly leap from the saddle into the arms of the bareheaded old man and then the bigger Moor got down, to be greeted warmly.

    "If that is not Jim Morlake, I'm a Dutchman," said Welling.

    In another instant he was flying across the sands to meet them. A crowd of Moors had watched the unseemly behaviour of the unveiled woman and stared painfully at her outrageous conduct.

    "I don't care," said Joan hilariously. "I feel drunk with happiness."

    In an hour four happy people sat down to the first square meal two of them had taken in days. Welling went away after lunch and came back in an hour with the news that the basha had sent a posse to arrest Hamon on information laid by Sadi Hafiz.

    "Which means that Sadi, having saved his life, is now rapidly saving his skin," said Jim. "In a sense I'm glad I didn't kill him." He turned to Lord Creith. "You are going to get Lady Joan out of this very quickly, aren't you?"

    "We sail this evening," said his lordship fervently, "and if there is a gale in the channel and the seas of the Bay of Biscay are mountains high, I'm heading straight for Southampton. I would go home by the nearest route," he added, "and let the yacht find its way back without my assistance, but the real owner is a personal friend of mine. You're coming too, Morlake?"

    Jim shook his head.

    "Not yet," he said quietly. "I came out here with two objects. One is to a great extent fulfilled; the other remains."

    "You mean Hamon?"

    He nodded.

    "I'm certainly not going to leave you here, my good man," said Joan with spirit. "I have an especial right to demand that you will return with us!"

    But on this point Jim was obdurate. The day after the yacht sailed, he received news of the death of Sadi Hafiz and the murderer's flight, and cursed himself for not following his heart. He flew over to Cadiz by military aeroplane, in the hope of picking up the yacht at that port, but even as the aeroplane was crossing the coast line, he saw the L'Esperance steaming out. He caught the afternoon train to Madrid, and was on the quay at Southampton to welcome them. And Joan did not see the man she loved until another month had passed, for Jim Morlake had been seized with a sudden shyness and a doubt had come to his mind which had developed into an obsession.
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