Far down in the Desert of Sahara is the little oasis of El Merb. It isso small that our crude atlases miss it. It has but one well, and thefertile land is not more than forty rods in diameter. It has a mosque,a bazaar, a slave-market, and a café. It is called by the traders ofBiskra "The Key of the Desert." It is called by the Mohammedan priestsof Biskra "The Treasury of the Desert." It is called by the Frenchcommandant at Biskra "A place to be watched." The only communicationbetween El Merb and Biskra is by camels, and Abdullah was once thechief caravan-master.
that?" exclaimed the earl; and he stopped so abruptly that the cardinal put his free hand against his companion's breast to right himself.
"Because," said the cardinal, "I saw your face when you said good-by to me. It was not a pleasant face."
They went on silently and soon they came to the Piazza.
"I don't see her," said the earl; "perhaps she has gone back to the church."
They crossed the Piazza and entered St. Mark's.
"Not here," said the earl.
They walked up the south aisle and came to the anteroom of the treasury. Its door was open. They entered what had once been a tower of the old palace. The door of the treasury was also open. They went in and found the sacristan and a woman. She held the turquoise cup in her hands.
"Did you buy it, Bobby?" she exclaimed.
She turned and saw that the earl was not alone.
"Your grace," he said, "I present you to Lady Nora Daly."
She bent with a motion half genuflexion, half courtesy, and
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