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17. CHAPTER XVII (continued)
"Well--gosh--nice kid played that girl--good-looker," said Kennicott. "Want to stay for the last piece? Heh?"
She shivered. She did not answer.
The curtain was again drawn aside. On the stage they saw nothing but long green curtains and a leather chair. Two young men in brown robes like furniture-covers were gesturing vacuously and droning cryptic sentences full of repetitions.
It was Carol's first hearing of Dunsany. She sympathized with the restless Kennicott as he felt in his pocket for a cigar and unhappily put it back.
Without understanding when or how, without a tangible change in the stilted intoning of the stage-puppets, she was conscious of another time and place.
Stately and aloof among vainglorious tiring-maids, a queen in robes that murmured on the marble floor, she trod the gallery of a crumbling palace. In the courtyard, elephants trumpeted, and swart men with beards dyed crimson stood with blood-stained hands folded upon their hilts, guarding the caravan from El Sharnak, the camels with Tyrian stuffs of topaz and cinnabar. Beyond the turrets of the outer wall the jungle glared and shrieked, and the sun was furious above drenched orchids. A youth came striding through the steel-bossed doors, the sword-bitten doors that were higher than ten tall men. He was in flexible mail, and under the rim of his planished morion were amorous curls. His hand was out to her; before she touched it she could feel its warmth----
"Gosh all hemlock! What the dickens is all this stuff about, Carrie?"
She was no Syrian queen. She was Mrs. Dr. Kennicott. She fell with a jolt into a whitewashed hall and sat looking at two scared girls and a young man in wrinkled tights.
Kennicott fondly rambled as they left the hall:
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