Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/339

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The Ruby of Kishmoor

in the waters of the Indian Ocean. But the greatest treasure of all that fortune bequeathed to me was a single jewel which you yourself have just now defended with a courage and a fidelity that I cannot sufficiently extol. It is that priceless gem known as the Ruby of Kishmoor. I will show it to you.”

Hereupon she took the little ivory ball in her hand, and, with a turn of her beautiful wrists, unscrewed a lid so nicely and cunningly adjusted that no eye could have detected where it was joined to the parent globe. Within was a fleece of raw silk containing an object which she presently displayed before the astonished gaze of our hero. It was a red stone of about the bigness of a plover’s egg, and which glowed and flamed with such an exquisite and ruddy brilliancy as to dazzle even Jonathan’s inexperienced eyes. Indeed, he did not need to be informed of the priceless value of the treasure, which he beheld in the rosy palm extended toward him. How long he gazed at this extraordinary jewel he knew not, but he was aroused from his contemplation by the sound of the lady’s voice addressing him. “The three villains,” said she, “who have this day met their deserts in a violent and bloody death, had by an accident obtained knowledge that this jewel was in my possession. Since then my life has hung upon a thread, and every step that I have taken has been watched by these enemies, the most cruel and relentless that it was ever the lot of any unfortunate to possess. From the mortal dangers of their machinations you have saved me, exhibiting a courage and a determination that cannot be sufficiently applauded. In this you have earned my deepest admiration and regard. I would rather,” she cried, “intrust my life and my happiness to you than into the keeping of any man whom I have ever known! I cannot hope to reward you in such a way as to recompense you for the perils into which my necessities have thrust you; but yet”—and here she hesitated, as though seeking for words in which to express herself—“but yet if you are willing to accept of this jewel, and all of the