Marcelle cast a glance over her shoulder. Barbara was looking round the room and caught the reflection of the dancer's face in a mirror hanging on the wall. To her intense astonishment, she saw a look of despair, almost of terror, in Nur-el-Din's dark eyes. It was like the frightened stare of some hunted beast. Barbara was so much taken aback that she instinctively glanced over her shoulder at the door, thinking that the dancer had seen something there to frighten her. But the door was shut. When Barbara looked into the mirror again, she saw only the reflection of Nur-el-Din's pretty neck and shoulders. The dancer was talking again in low tones to Strangwise.
But Barbara swiftly forgot that glimpse of the dancer's face in the glass. For she was very happy. Happiness, like high spirits, is eminently contagious, and the two men at her side were supremely content.
Her father's eyes were shining with his little success fit, of the evening: on the way upstairs Fletcher had held out hopes to him of a long engagement at the Palaceum while as for the other, he was radiant with the excitement of his first night in town after long months of campaigning.
He was thinking that his leave had started most propitiously. After a man has been isolated for months amongst muddy masculinity, the homeliest woman will find favor in his eyes. And to neither of these women, in whose presence he so unexpected found himself within a few hours of landing in England, could the epithet "homely" be applied. Each represented a distinct type of beauty in herself, and Desmond, as he chatted with Barbara, was mentally contrasting the two women. Barbara, tall and slim and very healthy, with her braided brown hair, creamy complexion and gray eyes, was essentially English. She was the typical woman of England, of England of the broad green valleys and rolling downs and snuggling hamlets, of England of the white cliffs gnawed by the restless ocean, The other was equally essentially a woman of the South. Her dark eyes, her upper lip just baring her firm white teeth, spoke of hot Latin or gypsy blood surging in her veins. Hers was the beauty of the East, sensous, arresting, conjuring up pictures of warm, perfumed nights, the thrumming of guitars, a great yellow moon hanging low behind the palms.
"Barbara!" called Nur-el-Din from the dressing table. Mr. Mackwayte had joined her there and was chatting to Strangwise.
"You will stay and talk to me while I change n'est-ce pas? Your papa and these gentlemen are going to drink a whiskey-soda with that animal Fletcher... quel homme terrible... and you shall join them presently."
The men went out, leaving Barbara alone with the dancer. Barbara noticed how tired Nur-el-Din was looking. Heir pretty, childish ways seemed to have evaporated with her high spirits. Her face was heavy and listless. There were lines round heir eyes, and her mouth had a hard, drawn look.
"Child," she said, "give me, please, my peignoir... it is behind the door,... and, I will get this paint off my face!"