Having once re-established that view to his satisfaction, he began to chat away cheerfully again to his companion. "It is not everyone," he said, "who possesses my advantages, or who can travel five or six thousand miles by rail, steamer, and carriage, without ever having to put his hand in his pocket for a single kopec. The only objection to it is that they don't give me a return ticket."
Diana sat quite still after he had gone until the nervous shuddering ceased, until Kopec twisted his head free of her arms and licked her face with an uneasy whine. She brushed her hand across her eyes with a gasp of relief, and went out into the bright sunlight with the hound at her heels.
Usually at night the vicinity of the Sheik's tent was avoided by the tribesmen, even the sentry on guard was posted at some little distance. Kopec curled up outside the doorway kept ample watch.
The proprietor of a wretched little mud hovel, solemnly presiding over a few thin sheets of bread, a jar of rancid, hirsute butter, and a dozen half-ripe melons, affects a glum, sorrowful expression to think that he should happen to be without small change, and consequently obliged to accept the Hamsherri's fifty kopec piece for provisions of one-tenth the value; but the mysterious frequency of this same state of affairs and accompanying sorrowful expression, taken in connection with the actual plenitude of small change in Persia, awakens suspicions even in the mind of the most confiding and uninitiated person.
"Is it another novel?" she asked shyly, indicating the steadily increasing pile of manuscript. He turned on his chair, resting his arms on the rail, twirling a fountain pen between his fingers, and smiled at her as she curled up on the divan with Kopec, who had followed her into the tent. "No, Madame, Something more serious this time. It is a history of this very curious tribe of Ahmed's.
"Kopec is restless, he is always so when Monseigneur is coming." She looked down for a moment thoughtfully at the dim shape of the hound lying at the man's feet, and then with a last upward glance at the bright stars turned back into the tent.
He flung his long grey body across the Sheik's knees with a whine of pleasure and then turned his head to growl at Diana. But the growl died away quickly, and he lumbered down and came to her side curiously, eyeing her for a moment and then thrusting his big head against her. The Sheik laughed. "You are honoured. Kopec makes few friends." She did not answer.
"We also read in The Stars and Stripes that the boys in Italy had some tongue twisters and brain worriers, but listen to this: Centimes and sous and francs may be hard to count, but did you ever hear of a rouble or a kopec? A kopec is worth a tenth of a cent and there are a hundred of them in a rouble.
Gee, didn't that Russian talk kopec and damski, and froth at the mouth. Then he called his Russians together, and the talk sounded as though a soda fountain had burst. Then they all yelled: "Killovitch the monkey-ouskis."
As you will see, that makes a rouble worth a dime, and to make matters worse all the money is paper, coins having gone out of circulation since the beginning of the mix-up. A kopec is the size of a postage stamp, a rouble looks like a United Cigar Store's Certificate, a 25-rouble note resembles a porous plaster and a 100-rouble note the Declaration of Independence.