Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/305

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The Ruby of Kishmoor

repast such as our hero had not thought could have existed out of the pages of certain extraordinary Oriental tales which one time had fallen to his lot to read.

This supper (which in itself might successfully have tempted the taste of a Sybarite) was further enhanced by several wines and cordials which, filling the room with the aroma of the sunlit grapes from which they had been expressed, stimulated the appetite, which without them needed no such spur. The lady, who ate but sparingly herself, possessed herself with patience until Jonathan’s hunger had been appeased. When, however, she beheld that he weakened in his attacks upon the dessert of sweets with which the banquet was concluded, she addressed him upon the business which was evidently entirely occupying her mind.

“Sir,” said she, “you are doubtless aware that every one, whether man or woman, is possessed of an enemy. In my own case I must inform you that I have no less than three who, to compass their ends, would gladly sacrifice my life itself to their purposes. At no time am I safe from their machinations, nor have I any one,” cried she, exhibiting a great emotion, “to whom I may turn in my need. It was this that led me to hope to find in you a friend in my perils, for, having observed through my agents that you are not only honest in disposition and strong in person, but that you are possessed of a considerable degree of energy and determination, I am most desirous of imposing upon your good-nature a trust of which you cannot for a moment suspect the magnitude. Tell me, are you willing to assist a poor, defenceless female in her hour of trial?”

“Indeed, friend,” quoth Jonathan, with more vivacity than he usually exhibited, with a lenity to which he had heretofore in his lifetime been a stranger—being warmed into such a spirit, doubtless, by the generous wines of which he had partaken—“indeed, friend, if I could but see thy face it would doubtless make my decision in such a matter the more favorable, since I am inclined to think,