The Hawk of Egypt

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THE HAWK OF EGYPT

By

JOAN CONQUEST

Author of "_Desert Love_", "_Leonie of the Jungle_."

FRONTISPIECE BY

G. W. GAGE

NEW YORK

THE MACAULAY COMPANY

Copyright, 1922,

By The Macaulay Company

_Printed in the United States of America_

"IN LOVE AND GRATITUDE TO THE DEAREST OF WOMEN 'MIVES' MY MOTHER"

THE HAWK OF EGYPT

Author's Note: All names in this book are fictitious.

[Transcriber's note: A number of words in this book are Arabic, using characters that require Unicode to render properly. Refer to the transcriber's note at the end of this book for more information.]

THE HAWK OF EGYPT

CHAPTER I

"_For in the days we know not of Did fate begin Weaving the web of days that wove Your doom_."

SWINBURNE.

". . . allahu akbar--la ilaha--illa 'llah!"

Across the golden glory of the sky floated the insistent call of the _muezzin_ just as Damaris, followed closely by Wellington, her bulldog, turned out of the narrow street into the Khan el-Khalili. Shrill and sweet, from far and near it came, calling the faithful to prayer, impelling merchants to leave their wares, buyers their purchases, gossips their chatter, and to turn in the direction of Mecca and offer their praise to Allah, who is God.

As the entire male population of the native quarter knelt, the girl drew back beneath an awning of many colours which shaded silken goods from the rays of the sun, whilst curious eyes peeped down upon her from behind the shelter of the _masharabeyeh_, the harem lattice of finely-carved wood. Yards of silk of every hue lay tumbled inside and outside the _dukkan_ or shop in the silk-market; silken scarves, plain and embroidered, hung from strings; silk shawls were spread upon Persian carpets; a veritable riot of colour against the yellow-white plaster of the shop walls, above which flamed the sky, a cloak of blue, embroidered in rose and gold and amethyst.

The native women behind the shelter of the wood lattice or the _yashmak_ or the all-enveloping _barku_, talked softly together as they watched the beautiful girl who serenely and quite unveiled walked amongst men with an animal of surpassing hideousness at her heels.

She stood with her head uncovered--it is permissible at sunset--and with her face lifted, as she listened to the call to prayer, so that a sun-ray silting in through the silks blazed down upon the positively red curls which rioted all over her head and were of a tone sharper than henna, yet many times removed from the shades of red known as carrots or ginger.

Her skin was _matte_, her mouth crimson, and curved, the teeth perfect, and her heavily-lashed eyes of so deep a purple as to appear black. She was slim and supple, unencumbered by anything more confining than a suspender-belt, a fortnight off her eighteenth birthday and entirely lovable in looks, ways and temperament in the eyes of all mankind, which includes women.

The prayer over, and the men again about the business of the hour, she enquired her way of the vendor of silks who, having quickly replaced his shoes, had as hastily returned to his shop, his heart rejoicing at the prospect of perhaps one or two hours' more bargaining--for where is to be found the Oriental who knows the value of time?

Loving animals, Damaris wanted to find that corner near the silk-market where can be purchased anything from a camel to a hunting cheetah, a greyhound to a falcon.

It is not wise for European women to saunter about the old Arabian quarter unaccompanied, especially if they have been blessed by the gods in the ways of looks. Damaris Hethencourt most certainly ought not to have been there, but you must perforce follow the path Fate has marked out for you, whether it leads through country lanes, or Piccadilly, or the Arab quarter of Cairo.

The vendor of silks salaamed deeply before her beauty and the graciousness of her manner, for she smiled when she talked and spoke the prettiest broken Arabic in the world.

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