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He started his wide blue breeches flapping about his yellow calves. Heyst watched him quietly.
“I never said you had it on you,” he observed, without raising his voice; “but the revolver is gone from where I kept it."
“Me no savee levolvel," Wang said obstinately.
The book lying open on Heyst's knee slipped suddenly, and he made a sharp movement to catch it up. Wang was unable to see the reason of this because of the table, and leaped away from what seemed to him a threatening symptom. When Heyst looked up, the Chinaman was already at the door facing the room, not frightened, but alert.
“What's the matter ?” asked Heyst.
Wang nodded his shaven head significantly at the curtain closing the doorway of the bedroom.
“Me no likee,” he repeated.
“What the devil do you mean ?” Heyst was genuinely amazed. “Don't like what ?"
Wang pointed a long, lemon-coloured finger at the motionless folds.
"Two," he said.
“Suppose you savee, you no like that fashion. Me savee plenty. Me go now.”
Heyst had risen from his chair, but Wang kept his ground in the doorway for a little while longer.
His almond-shaped eyes imparted to his face an expression of soft and sentimental melancholy. The muscles of his throat moved visibly while he uttered a distinct and guttural“Good-bye,” and vanished from Number One's sight.
The Chinaman's departure altered the situation. Heyst reflected on what would be best to do in view of that fact. For a long time he hesitated; then, shrugging his shoulders wearily, he walked out on the veranda, down the steps, and continued at a steady gait, with a thoughtful mien, in the direction of his guests' bungalow. He wanted to make an important communication to them, and he had no other object-least of all to give them the shock of a surprise call. Nevertheless, their brutish henchman not being on watch, it was Heyst's fate to startle Mr. Jones and his secretary by his sudden appearance in the doorway. Their conversation must have been very interesting to prevent them from hearing the visitor's approach. In the dim room—the shutters were kept constantly closed against the heat—Heyst saw them start apart. It was Mr. Jones who spoke!
"Ah, here you are again! Come in, come in!"
Heyst, taking his hat off in the doorway, entered the room.
Waking up suddenly, Lena looked, without raising her head from the pillow, at the room in which she was alone. She got up quickly, as if to counteract the awful sinking of her heart by the vigorous use of her limbs. But this sinking was only momentary. Mistress of herself from pride, from love, from necessity, and also because of a woman's vanity in self-sacrifice, she met Heyst, returning from the strangers' bungalow, with a clear glance and a smile.
The smile he managed to answer; but, noticing that he avoided her eyes, she composed her lips and lowered her gaze. For the same reason she hastened to speak to him in a tone of indifference, which she put on without effort, as if she had grown adept in duplicity since sunrise.
“You have been over there again ?"
"I have. I thought-but you had better know first that we have lost Wang for good."
She repeated “For good ?” as if she had not understood.
“For good or evil—I shouldn't know which if you were to ask me. He has dismissed himself. He's gone."
"You expected him to go, though, didn't you?" Heyst sat down on the other side of the table.
“Yes. I expected it as soon as I discovered that he had annexed my revolver. He says he hasn't taken it. That's of course. A Chinaman would not see the sense of confessing under any circumstances. To deny any charge is a principle of right conduct; but he hardly expected to be believed.
He was a little enigmatic at the last, Lena. He startled me."
Heyst paused. The girl seemed absorbed in her own thoughts.
"He startled me," repeated Heyst. She noted the anxiety in his tone, and turned her head slightly to look at him across the table.
"It must have been something—to startle you," she said. In the depth of her parted lips, like a ripe pomegranate, there was a gleam of white teeth.
“It was only a single word—and some of his gestures. He had been making a good deal of noise. I wonder we didn't wake you up. How soundly you can sleep! I say, do you feel all right now?"
"As fresh as can be," she said, treating him to
another deep gleam of a smile. “I heard no noise, and I'm glad of it. The way he talks in his harsh voice frightens me. I don't like all these foreign people." "It was just before he went away—bolted out, I
He nodded and pointed at the curtain of our room. He knew you were there, of course. He seemed to think—he seemed to try to give me to understand that you were in special—well, danger. You know how he talks."
She said nothing; she made no sound, only the faint tinge of colour ebbed out of her cheek. "Yes," Heyst went on. “He seemed to try, to
That must have been it. Did he imagine I had forgotten your existence? The only word he said was 'two.' It sounded so, at least. Yes, "two' —and that he didn't like it."
"What does that mean ?" she whispered.
“We know what the word two means, Lena ? We are two. Never were such a lonely two out of the world, my dear! He might have tried to remind me that he himself has a woman to look after. Why are you so pale, Lena ?”
"Am I pale ?" she asked negligently.
"Well, it isn't from fright," she protested truthfully.