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´╗┐Title: Yussuf the Guide - The Mountain Bandits; Strange Adventure in Asia Minor
Author: Fenn, George Manville, 1831-1909
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Yussuf the Guide - The Mountain Bandits; Strange Adventure in Asia Minor" ***

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Yussuf the Guide; or, the Mountain Bandits, being a Story of Adventure
in Asia Minor, by George Manville Fenn.

________________________________________________________________________

Lawrence is a boy in his late teens, who has consumption, which makes
him feel very tired and helpless.  He says one day that he would love a
holiday somewhere hot and sunny.  He has no relations, but there is a
guardian, a local lawyer; and a doctor and a retired professor elect to
go to Turkey with him, to look at the antiquities.

They travel first to Greece, where they find a lot of dishonesty, in
particular in the crew of the little ship in which they sail to Turkey.
Luckily they had sent their luggage on ahead, but the experiences they
had were not very nice.  They had already employed a very charming and
resourceful Turk as guide.

But when they get to Turkey, they find that as they travel inland people
become progressively less helpful, until eventually they are captured by
bandits, and a ransom is demanded.  How do they get out of this?  And is
Turkey still like this?

An exciting thriller.  Recommended.

________________________________________________________________________

YUSSUF THE GUIDE; OR, THE MOUNTAIN BANDITS, BEING A STORY OF ADVENTURE
IN ASIA MINOR, BY GEORGE MANVILLE FENN.



CHAPTER ONE.

MEDICAL AND LEGAL.

"But it seems so shocking, sir."

"Yes, madam," said the doctor, "very sad indeed.  You had better get
that prescription made up at once."

"And him drenched with physic!" cried Mrs Dunn; "when it doesn't do him
a bit of good."

"Not very complimentary to me, Mrs Dunn," said the doctor smiling.

"Which I didn't mean any harm, sir; but wouldn't it be better to let the
poor boy die in peace, instead of worrying him to keep on taking
physic?"

"And what would you and his friends say if I did not prescribe for him?"

"I should say it was the best thing, sir; and as to his friends, why, he
hasn't got any."

"Mr Burne?"

"What! the lawyer, sir?  I don't call him a friend.  Looks after the
money his poor pa left, and doles it out once a month, and comes and
takes snuff and blows his nose all over the room, as if he was a human
trombone, and then says, `hum!' and `ha!' and `send me word how he is
now and then,' and goes away."

"But his father's executor, Professor Preston?"

"Lor' bless the man! don't talk about him.  I wrote to him last week
about how bad the poor boy was; and he came up from Oxford to see him,
and sat down and read something out of a roll of paper to him about his
dog."

"About his dog, Mrs Dunn?"

"Yes, sir, about his dog Pompey, and then about tombs--nice subject to
bring up to a poor boy half-dead with consumption!  And as soon as he
had done reading he begins talking to him.  You said Master Lawrence was
to be kept quiet, sir?"

"Certainly, Mrs Dunn."

"Well, if he didn't stand there sawing one of his hands about and
talking there, shouting at the poor lad as if he was in the next street,
or he was a hout-door preacher, till I couldn't bear it any longer, and
I made him go."

"Ah, I suppose the professor is accustomed to lecture."

"Then he had better go and lecture, sir.  He sha'n't talk my poor boy to
death."

"Well, quiet is best for him, Mrs Dunn," said the doctor smiling at the
rosy-faced old lady, who had turned quite fierce; "but still, change and
something to interest him will do good."

"More good than physic, sir?"

"Well, yes, Mrs Dunn, I will be frank with you--more good than physic.
What did Mr Burne say about the poor fellow going to Madeira or the
south of France?"

"Said, sir, that he'd better take his Madeira out of a wine-glass and
his south of France out of a book.  I don't know what he meant, and when
I asked him he only blew his nose till I felt as if I could have boxed
his ears.  But now, doctor, what do you really think about the poor
dear?  You see he's like my own boy.  Didn't I nurse him when he was a
baby, and didn't his poor mother beg of me to always look after him?
And I have.  Nobody can't say he ever had a shirt with a button off, or
a hole in his clean stockings, or put on anything before it was aired
till it was dry as a bone.  But now tell me what you really think of
him."

"That I can do nothing whatever, Mrs Dunn," said the doctor kindly.
"Our London winters are killing him, and I have no faith in the south of
England doing any good.  The only hope is a complete change to a warmer
land."

"But I couldn't let him go to a horrible barbarous foreign country,
sir."

"Not to save his life, Mrs Dunn?"

"Oh, dear! oh, dear! oh, dear!" sighed the old lady.  "It's very hard
when I'd lay down my life to save him, and me seeing him peek and pine
away and growing so weak.  I know it was that skating accident as did
it.  Him nearly a quarter of an hour under the ice, and the
receiving-house doctor working for an hour before he could bring him
to."

"I'm afraid that was the start of his illness, Mrs Dunn."

"I'm sure of it, doctor.  Such a fine lad as he was, and he has never
been the same since.  What am I to do?  Nobody takes any interest in the
poor boy but me."

"Well, I should write at once to the professor and tell him that Mr
Lawrence is in a critical condition, and also to his father's executor,
Mr Burne, and insist upon my patient being taken for the winter to a
milder clime."

"And they won't stir a peg.  I believe they'll both be glad to hear that
he is dead, for neither of them cares a straw about him, poor boy."

There had been a double knock while this conversation was going on in
Guildford Street, Russell Square, and after the pattering of steps on
the oil-cloth in the hall the door was opened, and the murmur of a gruff
voice was followed by the closing of the front door, and then a series
of three sounds, as if someone was beginning to learn a deep brass
instrument, and Mrs Dunn started up.

"It's Mr Burne.  Now, doctor, you tell him yourself."

Directly after, a keen-eyed grey little gentleman of about fifty was
shown in, with a snuff-box in one hand, a yellow silk handkerchief in
the other, and he looked sharply about as he shook hands in a hurried
way, and then sat down.

"Hah! glad to see you, doctor.  Now about this client of yours.  Patient
I mean.  You're not going to let him slip through your fingers?"

"I'm sorry to say, Mr Burne--"

"Bless me!  I am surprised.  Been so busy.  Poor boy!  _Snuff snuff
snuff_.  Take a pinch?  No, you said you didn't.  Bad habit.  Bless my
soul, how sad!"

Mr Burne, the family solicitor, jumped up when he blew his nose.  Sat
down to take some more snuff, and got up again to offer a pinch to the
doctor.

"Really, Mr Burne, there is only one thing that I can suggest--"

"And that's what Mrs Dunn here told me."

There was a most extraordinary performance upon the nose, which made
Mrs Dunn raise her hands, and then bring them down heavily in her lap,
and exclaim:

"Bless me, man, don't do that!"

"Ah, Mrs Dunn," cried the lawyer; "what have you been about?  Nothing
to do but attend upon your young master, and you've got him into a state
like this."

"Well of all--"

"Tut tut! hold your tongue, Mrs Dunn, what's gone by can't be recalled.
I've been very busy lately fighting a cousin of the poor boy, who was
trying to get his money."

"And what's the good of his money, sir, if he isn't going to live?"

"Tut tut, Mrs Dunn," said the lawyer, blowing his nose more softly,
"but he is.  I telegraphed to Oxford last night for Professor Preston to
meet me here at eleven this morning.  I have had no answer, but he may
come.  Eccentric man, Mrs Dunn."

"Why you're never going to have him here to talk the poor boy to death."

"Indeed but I am, Mrs Dunn, for I do not believe what you say is
possible, unless done by a woman--an old woman," said the lawyer looking
at the old lady fixedly.

"Well I'm sure!" exclaimed Mrs Dunn, and the doctor rose.

"You had better get that prescription made up, Mrs Dunn, and go on as
before."

"One moment, doctor," said the lawyer, and he drew him aside for a brief
conversation to ensue.

"Bless me! very sad," said the lawyer; and then, as Mrs Dunn showed the
doctor out, the old gentleman took some more snuff, and then performed
upon his nose in one of the windows; opposite the fire; in one corner;
then in another; and then he was finishing with a regular coach-horn
blast when he stopped half-way, and stared, for Mrs Dunn was standing
in the doorway with her large florid cap tilted forward in consequence
of her having stuck her fingers in her ears.

"Could you hear me using my handkerchief, Mrs Dunn?" said the lawyer.

"Could I hear you?  Man alive!" cried the old lady, in a tone full of
withering contempt, "could I hear _that_!"



CHAPTER TWO.

THE SECOND GUARDIAN.

"That!" to which Mrs Dunn alluded was a double knock at the front door;
a few minutes later the maid ushered in a tall broad-shouldered man of
about forty.  His hair was thin upon the crown, but crisp and grizzled,
and its spareness seemed due to the fact that nature required so much
stuff to keep up the supply for his tremendous dark beard that his head
ran short.  It was one of those great beards that are supposed to go
with the portrait of some old patriarch, and over this could be seen a
pair of beautiful large clear eyes that wore a thoughtful dreamy aspect,
and a broad high white forehead.  He was rather shabbily dressed in a
pepper-and-salt frock-coat, vest, and trousers, one of which had been
turned up as if to keep it out of the mud while the other was turned
down; and both were extremely baggy and worn about the knees.  Judging
from appearances his frock-coat might have been brushed the week before
last, but it was doubtful, though his hat, which he placed upon the
table as he entered, certainly had been brushed very lately, but the
wrong way.

He did not wear gloves upon his hands, but in his trousers pockets, from
which he pulled them to throw them in his hat, after he had carefully
placed two great folio volumes, each minus one cover, upon a chair, and
then he shook hands, smiling blandly, with Mrs Dunn, and with the
lawyer.

"Bless the man!" said Mrs Dunn to herself, "one feels as if one
couldn't be cross with him; and there's a button off the wrist-band of
his shirt."

"'Fraid you had not received my telegram, sir," said the lawyer in
rather a contemptuous tone, for Mrs Dunn had annoyed him, and he wanted
to wreak his irritation upon someone else.

"Telegram?" said the professor dreamily.  "Oh, yes.  It was forwarded to
me from Oxford.  I was in town."

"Oh!  In town?"

"Yes.  At an hotel in Craven Street.  I am making preparations, you
know, for my trip."

"No, I don't know," said the lawyer snappishly.  "How should I know?"

"Of course not," said the professor smiling.  "The fact is, I've been so
much--among books--lately--that--these are fine.  Picked them up at a
little shop near the Strand.  Buttknow's _Byzantine Empire_."

He picked up the two musty old volumes, and opened them upon the table,
as a blast rang out.

The professor started and stared, his dreamy eyes opening wider, but
seeing that it was only the lawyer blowing his nose, he smiled and
turned over a few leaves.

"A good deal damaged; but such a book is very rare, sir."

"My dear sir, I asked you to come here to talk business," said the
lawyer, tapping the table with his snuff-box, "not books."

"True.  I beg your pardon," said the professor.  "I was in town making
the final preparations for my departure to the Levant, and I did not
receive the telegram till this morning.  That made me so late."

"Humph!" ejaculated the lawyer, and he took some more snuff.

"And how is Lawrence this morning?" said the professor in his calm, mild
way.  "I hope better, Mrs Dunn."

"Bless the man!  No.  He is worse," cried Mrs Dunn shortly.

"Dear me!  I am very sorry.  Poor boy!  I'm afraid I have neglected him.
His poor father was so kind to me."

"Everybody has neglected him, sir," cried Mrs Dunn, "and the doctor
says that the poor boy will die."

"Mrs Dunn, you shock me," cried the professor, with the tears in his
eyes, and his whole manner changing.  "Is it so bad as this?"

"Quite, sir," cried the lawyer, "and I want to consult you as my
co-executor and trustee about getting the boy somewhere in the south of
England or to France."

"But medical assistance," said the professor.  "We must have the best
skill in London."

"He has had it, sir," cried Mrs Dunn, "and they can't do anything for
him.  He's in a decline."

"There, sir, you hear," said the lawyer.  "Now, then, what's to be
done?"

"Done!" cried the professor, with a display of animation that surprised
the others.  "He must be removed to a warmer country at once.  I had no
idea that matters were so bad as this.  Mr Burne, Mrs Dunn, I am a
student much interested in a work I am writing on the Byzantine empire,
and I was starting in a few days for Asia Minor.  My passage was taken.
But all that must be set aside, and I will stop and see to my dear old
friend's son."

_Poo woomp poomp.  Pah_!

Mr Burne blew a perfectly triumphal blast with his pocket-handkerchief,
took out his snuff-box, put it back, jumped up, and, crossing to where
the professor was standing, shook his hand very warmly, and without a
word, while Mrs Dunn wiped her eyes upon her very stiff watered silk
apron, but found the result so unsatisfactory that she smoothed it down,
and hunted out a pocket-handkerchief from somewhere among the folds of
her dress and polished her eyes dry.

Then she seemed as if she put a sob in that piece of white cambric, and
wrapped it up carefully, just as if it were something solid, doubling
the handkerchief over and over and putting it in her pocket before going
up to the professor and kissing his hand.

"Ha!" said the latter, smiling at first one and then the other.  "This
is very good of you.  I don't often find people treat me so kindly as
this.  You see, I am such an abstracted, dreamy man.  I devote myself so
much to my studies that I think of nothing else.  My friends have given
me up, and--and I'm afraid they laugh at me.  I am writing, you see, a
great work upon the old Roman occupation of--.  Dear me!  I'm wandering
off again.  Mrs Dunn, can I not see my old friend's son?"

"To be sure you can, sir.  Pray, come," cried the old lady; and, leading
the way, she ushered the two visitors out into the hall, the professor
following last, consequent upon having gone back to fetch the two big
folio volumes; but recollecting himself, and colouring like an ingenuous
girl, he took them back, and laid them upon the dining-room table.

Mrs Dunn paused at the drawing-room door and held up a finger.

"Please, be very quiet with him, gentlemen," she said.  "The poor boy is
very weak, and you must not stay long."

The lawyer nodded shortly, the professor bent his head in acquiescence,
and the old lady opened the drawing-room door.



CHAPTER THREE.

A PLAN IS MADE.

As they entered, a pale attenuated lad of about seventeen, who was lying
back in an easy-chair, with his head supported by a pillow, and a book
in his hand, turned to them slightly, and his unnaturally large eyes had
in them rather a wondering look, which was succeeded by a smile as the
professor strode to his side, and took his long, thin, girlish hand.

"Why, Lawrence, my boy, I did not know you were so ill."

"Ill?  Nonsense, man!" said the lawyer shortly.  "He's not ill.  Are
you, my lad?"

He shook hands rather roughly as he spoke from the other side of the
invalid lad's chair, while Mrs Dunn gave her hands an impatient jerk,
and went behind to brush the long dark hair from the boy's forehead.

He turned up his eyes to her to smile his thanks, and then laid his
cheek against the hand that had been smoothing his hair.

"No, Mr Burne, I don't think I'm ill," he said in a low voice.  "I only
feel as if I were so terribly weak and tired.  I get too tired to read
sometimes, and I never do anything at all to make me so."

"Hah!" ejaculated the lawyer.

"I thought it was the doctor come back," continued the lad.  "I say, Mr
Preston--you are my guardian, you know--is there any need for him to
come?  I am so tired of cod-liver oil."

"Yah!" ejaculated the lawyer; "it would tire anybody but a lamp."

He snorted this out, and then blew another blast upon his nose, which
made some ornament upon the chimney-piece rattle.

"Doctor?" said the professor rather dreamily, as he sat down beside the
patient.  "I suppose he knows best.  I did not know you were so ill, my
boy."

"I'm not ill, sir."

"But they say you are, my lad.  I was going abroad; but I heard that you
were not so well, and--and I came up."

"I am very glad," said the lad, "for it is very dull lying here.  Old
Dunny is very good to me, only she will bother me so to take more
medicine, and things that she says will do me good, and I do get so
tired of everything.  How is the book getting on, sir?"

"Oh, very slowly, my lad," said the professor, with more animation.  "I
was going abroad to travel and study the places about which I am
writing, but--"

"When do you go?" cried the lad eagerly.

"I was going within a few days, but--"

"Whereto?"

"Smyrna first, and then to the south coast of Asia Minor, and from
thence up into the mountains."

"Is it a beautiful country, Mr Preston?"

"Yes; a very wild and lovely country, I believe."

"With mountains and valleys and flowers?"

"Oh, yes, a glorious place."

"And when are you going?"

"I was going within a few days, my boy," said the professor kindly;
"but--"

"Is it warm and sunshiny there, sir?"

"Very."

"In winter?"

"Oh, yes, in the valleys; in the mountains there is eternal snow."

"But it is warm in the winter?"

"Oh, yes; the climate is glorious, my lad."

"And here, before long, the leaves will fall from that plane-tree in the
corner of the square, that one whose top you can just see; and it will
get colder, and the nights long, and the gas always burning in the
lamps, and shining dimly through the blinds; and then the fog will fill
the streets, and creep in through the cracks of the window; and the
blacks will fall and come in upon my book, and it will be so bitterly
cold, and that dreadful cough will begin again.  Oh, dear!"

There was silence in the room as the lad finished with a weary sigh; and
though it was a bright morning in September, each of the elder
personages seemed to conjure up the scenes the invalid portrayed, and
thought of him lying back there in the desolate London winter, miserable
in spirit, and ill at ease from his complaint.

Then three of the four present started, for the lawyer blew a challenge
on his trumpet.

"There is no better climate anywhere, sir," he said, addressing the
professor, "and no more healthy spot than London."

"Bless the man!" ejaculated Mrs Dunn.

"I beg to differ from you, sir," said the professor in a loud voice, as
if he were addressing a class.  "By the reports of the meteorological
society--"

"Hang the meteorological society, sir!" cried the lawyer, "I go by my
own knowledge."

"Pray, gentlemen!" cried Mrs Dunn, "you forget how weak the patient
is."

"Hush, Mrs Dunn," said the lad eagerly; "let them talk.  I like to
hear."

"I beg pardon," said the professor; "and we are forgetting the object of
our visit.  Lawrence, my boy, would you like to go to Brighton or
Hastings, or the Isle of Wight?"

"No," said the lad sadly, "it is too much bother."

"To Devonshire, then--to Torquay?"

"No, sir.  I went there last winter, and I believe it made me worse.  I
don't want to be always seeing sick people in invalid chairs, and be
always hearing them talk about their doctors.  How long shall you be
gone, sir?"

"How long?  I don't know, my lad.  Why?"

The boy was silent, and lay back gazing out of the window in a dreamy
way for some moments before he spoke again, and then his hearers were
startled by his words.

"I feel," he said, speaking as if to himself, "as if I should soon get
better if I could go to a land where the sun shone, and the sea was
blue, and the sweet soft cool breezes blew down from the mountains that
tower up into the clear sky--where there were fresh things to see, and
there would be none of this dreadful winter fog."

The professor and the lawyer exchanged glances, and the latter took a
great pinch of snuff out of his box, and held it half-way up towards his
nose.

Then he started, and let it fall upon the carpet--so much brown dust,
for the boy suddenly changed his tone, and in a quick excited manner
exclaimed, as he started forward:

"Oh!  Mr Preston, pray--pray--take me with you when you go."

"But, my dear boy," faltered the professor, "I am not going now.  I have
altered my plans."

"Then I must stop here," cried the boy in a passionate wailing
tone--"stop here and die."

There was a dead silence once more as the lad covered his face with his
thin hands, only broken by Mrs Dunn's sobs as she laid her head upon
the back of the chair and wept aloud, while directly after Mr Burne
took out his yellow handkerchief, prepared for a blow, and finally
delivered himself of a mild and gentle sniff.

"Lawrence!"

It was the deep low utterance of a strong man who was deeply moved, and
as the boy let fall his thin white fingers from before his eyes he saw
that the professor was kneeling by his chair ready to take one of his
hands and hold it between his broad palms.

"Lawrence, my boy," he said; "your poor father and I were great friends,
and he was to me as a brother; your mother as a sister.  He left me as
it were the care and charge of you, and it seems to me that in my
selfish studies I have neglected my trust; but, Heaven helping me, my
boy, I will try and make up for the past.  You shall so with me, my dear
lad, and we will search till we find a place that shall restore you to
health and strength."

"You will take me with you?" cried the boy with a joyous light in his
eyes.

"That I will," cried the professor.

"And when?"

"As soon as you can be moved."

"But," sighed the lad wearily, "it will cost so much."

"Well?" said the professor, "What of that?  I am not a poor man.  I
never spend my money."

"Oh! if it came to that," said the lawyer, taking some more snuff and
snapping his fingers, "young Lawrence here has a pretty good balance
lying idle."

"Mr Burne, for shame!" cried Mrs Dunn; "here have I been waiting to
hear you speak, and you encourage the wild idea, instead of stamping
upon it like a black beadle."

"Wild idea, ma'am?" cried the lawyer, blowing a defiant blast.

"Yes, sir; to talk about taking that poor weak sickly boy off into
foreign lands among savages, and cannibals, and wild beasts, and noxious
reptiles."

"Stuff, ma'am, stuff!"

"But it isn't stuff, sir.  The doctor said--"

"Hang the doctor, ma'am!" cried the lawyer.  "The doctor can't cure him,
poor lad, so let's see if we can't do a little better."

"Why, I believe you approve of it, sir!" cried Mrs Dunn with a
horror-stricken look.

"Approve of it, ma'am?  To be sure, I do.  The very thing.  Asia Minor,
didn't you say, Mr Preston?"

The professor bowed.

"Yes; I've heard that you get summer weather there in winter.  I think
you have hit the right nail on the head."

"And you approve of it, sir?" cried the boy excitedly.

"To be sure, I do, my lad."

"It will kill him," said Mrs Dunn emphatically.

"Tchah! stuff and nonsense, ma'am!" cried the lawyer.  "The boy's too
young and tough to kill.  We'll take him out there and make a man of
him."

"We, sir?" exclaimed the professor.

"Yes, sir, we," said the lawyer, taking some more snuff, and dusting his
black waistcoat.  "Hang it all!  Do you think you are the only man in
England who wants a holiday?"

"I beg your pardon," said the professor mildly; "of course not."

"I haven't had one worth speaking of," continued Mr Burne, "for
nearly--no, quite thirty years, and all that time I've been in dingy
stuffy Sergeant's Inn, sir.  Yes; we'll go travelling, professor, and
bring him back a man."

"It will kill him," cried Mrs Dunn fiercely, and ruffling up and coming
forward like an angry hen in defence of her solitary chick, the last the
rats had left.

The lawyer sounded his trumpet, as if summoning his forces to a charge.

"I say he shall not go."

"Mrs Dunn," began the professor blandly.

"Stop!" cried the lawyer; "send for Doctor Shorter."

"But he has been, sir," remonstrated Mrs Dunn.

"Then let him come again, ma'am.  He shall have his fee," cried the
lawyer; "send at once."

Mrs Dunn's lips parted to utter a protest, but the lawyer literally
drove her from the room, and then turned back, taking snuff
outrageously, to where the professor was now seated beside the sick lad.

"That's routing the enemy," cried the lawyer fiercely.  "Why, confound
the woman!  She told me that the doctor said he ought to be taken to a
milder clime."

"But do you really mean, Mr Burne, that, supposing the doctor gives his
consent, you would accompany us abroad?"

"To be sure I do, sir, and I mean to make myself as unpleasant as I can.
I've a right to do so, haven't I."

"Of course," said the professor coldly.

"And I've a right to make myself jolly if I like, haven't I, sir?"

"Certainly," replied the professor, gazing intently at the fierce
grizzled little man before him, and wondering how much he spent a-year
in snuff.

"It will not cost you anything, and I shall not charge my expenses to
the estate, any more than I shall let you charge yours, sir."

"Of course not, sir," said the professor more coldly still, and
beginning to frown.

"You shall pay your expenses, I'll pay mine, and young Lawrence here
shall pay his; and I tell you what, sir, we three will have a thoroughly
good outing.  We'll take it easy, and we'll travel just where you like,
and while you make notes, Lawrence here and I will fish and run about
and catch butterflies, eh?  Hang it, I haven't caught a butterfly these
three or four and thirty years, and I think it's time I had a try.  Eh,
what are you laughing at, sir?"

Lawrence Grange's laugh was low and feeble, but it brightened up his sad
face, and was contagious, for it made the professor smile as well.  The
cold stern look passed away, and he held out his hand to the lawyer.

"Agreed, sir," he said.  "If the doctor gives his consent, we will all
three go, and, please Heaven, we will restore our young friend here his
health and strength."

"Agreed, sir; with the doctor's consent or without," cried the lawyer,
grasping the extended hand.  "By George, we must begin to make our
preparations at once! and as for the doctor--Oh, here he is!"

For there was a double knock, and directly after Mrs Dunn, appearing
very much agitated, ushered in the doctor, who did not look quite so
cool as he did when he left.

"Oh!" he ejaculated, "I was afraid from Mrs Dunn's manner that
something was wrong."

"No, doctor, nothing," said the lawyer.  "We only want to ask you what
you think of our young friend here being taken to spend the winter in
Turkey."

"Admirable!" said the doctor, "if it could be managed."

"Oh, Doctor Shorter!" wailed Mrs Dunn, "I thought you would stop this
mad plan."

"There, madam, there!" cried the lawyer; "what did I say?"

"But he is not fit to move," cried Mrs Dunn, while the boy's cheeks
were flushed, and his eyes wandered eagerly from speaker to speaker.

"Only with care," said the doctor.  "I should not take a long sea trip,
I think; but cross to Paris, and then go on gently, stopping where you
pleased, to Brindisi, whence the voyage would be short."

"The very thing!" cried the lawyer, giving one emphatic blow with his
nose.  "What do you say, professor?"

"It is the plan I had arranged if I had gone alone," was the reply; "and
I think if Doctor Shorter will furnish us with the necessary
medicines--"

"He requires change more than medicines," said the doctor.  "Care
against exertion, and--there, your own common sense will tell you what
to do."

"Doctor! doctor! doctor!" sobbed Mrs Dunn; "I didn't think it of you.
What's to become of me?"

"You, madam?" replied the doctor.  "You can read and write letters to
our young friend here, and thank Heaven that he has friends who will
take him in charge and relieve him from the risk of another winter in
our terrible climate."

"Hear, hear!" and "No, no!" cried the lawyer.  "Doctor Shorter, ours is
not a bad climate, and I will not stand here and listen to a word
against it.  Look at me, sir!  Thirty years in Sergeant's Inn--fog,
rain, snow, and no sunshine; and look at me, sir--look at me!"

"My dear sir," said the doctor smiling, "you know the old saying about
one man's meat being another man's poison?  Suppose I modify my remark,
and say terrible climate for our young friend.  You are decided, then,
to take him?"

"Certainly," said the professor.

"To Turkey?"

"Turkey in Asia, sir, where I propose to examine the wonderful ruins of
the ancient Greek and Roman cities."

"And hunt up treasures of all kinds, eh?" said the doctor smiling.

"I hope we may be fortunate enough to discover something worthy of the
search."

"But, let me see--the climate; great heat in the plains; intense cold in
the mountains; fever and other dangers.  You must be careful, gentlemen.
Brigands--real brigands of the fiercest kind--men who mean heavy
ransoms, or chopped-off heads.  Then you will have obstinate Turks,
insidious and tricking Greeks, difficulties of travel.  No child's play,
gentlemen."

"The more interest, sir," replied the professor, "the greater change."

"Well," said the doctor, "I shall drop in every day till you start, and
be able to report upon our friend's health.  Now, good day."

The doctor left the room with Mrs Dunn, and as he went out Mr Burne
blew a flourish, loud enough to astonish the professor, who wondered how
it was that so much noise could be made by such a little man, till he
remembered the penetrating nature of the sounds produced by such tiny
creatures as crickets, and then he ceased to be surprised.



CHAPTER FOUR.

A VERBAL SKIRMISH.

It seemed wonderful: one day in London, then the luggage all ticketed,
the young invalid carefully carried by a couple of porters to a
first-class carriage, and seated in a snug corner, when one of them
touched his cap and exclaimed:

"Glad to see you come back, sir, strong enough to carry me.  Pore young
chap!" he said to his mate; "it do seem hard at his time o' life."

"Hang the fellow!" cried the lawyer; "so it does at any time of life.  I
don't want to be carried by a couple of porters."

Then there was a quick run down to Folkestone, with the patient tenderly
watched by his two companions, the professor looking less eccentric in
costume, for he had trusted to his tailor to make him some suitable
clothing; but the lawyer looking more so, for he had insisted upon
retaining his everyday-life black frock-coat and check trousers, the
only change he had made being the adoption of a large leghorn straw hat
with a black ribbon; on the whole as unsuitable a costume as he could
have adopted for so long a journey.

"But I've got a couple of Holland blouses in one of my portmanteaus," he
said to Lawrence, "and these I shall wear when we get into a hotter
country."

At Folkestone, Lawrence showed no fatigue; on the contrary, when the
professor suggested staying there for the night he looked disappointed,
and begged that they might cross to Boulogne, as he was so anxious to
see France.

Judging that it was as well not to disappoint him, and certainly
advisable to take advantage of a lovely day with a pleasant breeze for
the crossing, the professor decided to proceed--after a short
conversation between the two elders, when a little distant feeling was
removed, for the professor had felt that the lawyer was not going to
turn out a very pleasant travelling companion.

"What do you think, sir?" he had said to the fierce-looking little man,
who kept on attracting attention by violently blowing his nose.

"I'll tell you what I think, professor," was the reply.  "It seems to me
that the boy is a little sore and upset with his parting from his old
nurse.  Milk-soppish, but natural to one in his state.  He wants to get
right away, so as to forget the trouble in new impressions.  Then, as
you see, the journey so far has not hurt him, and he feels well enough
to go on.  Sign, sir, that nature says he is strong enough, so don't
thwart him.  Seems to me, sir--_snuff, snuff, snuff_--that the way to do
him good is to let him have his own way, so long as he doesn't want to
do anything silly.  Forward!"

So they went forward, a couple of the steamer's men lifting Lawrence
carefully along the gangway and settling him in a comfortable part of
the deck, which he preferred to going below; and ten minutes later the
machinery made the boat quiver, the pier seemed to be running away, and
the professor said quietly: "Good-bye to England."

The sea proved to be more rough than it had seemed from the pier, and,
out of about seventy passengers, it was not long before quite sixty had
gone below, leaving the deck very clear; and the professor, who kept
walking up and down, while the lawyer occupied a seat near Lawrence,
kept watching the invalid narrowly.

But there was no sign of illness.  The lad looked terribly weak and
delicate, but his eyes were bright, and the red spots on his cheeks were
unchanged.

"I say, Preston," said the lawyer, when they had been to sea about a
quarter of an hour, "you look very pale: if you'd like to go below I'll
stay with him."

"Thanks, no," was the reply; "I prefer the deck.  How beautiful the
chalky coast looks, Lawrence!"

"Yes, lovely," was the reply; "but I was trying to look forward to see
France.  I want to see health.  Looking back seems like being ill."

The professor nodded, and said that the French coast would soon be very
plain, and he stalked up and down, a magnificent specimen of humanity,
with his great beard blown about by the wind, which sought in vain to
play with his closely-cut hair.

"I'm sure you had better go below, professor.  You look quite white,"
said the lawyer again; but Mr Preston laughed.

"I am quite well," he said; and he took another turn up and down to look
at the silvery foam churned up by the beating paddles.

"Look here!" cried the lawyer again, as the professor came and stood
talking to Lawrence; "had you not better go down?"

"No.  Why go down to a cabin full of sick people, when I am enjoying the
fresh air, and am quite well?"

"But are you really quite well?"

"Never better in my life."

"Then it's too bad, sir," cried the lawyer.  "I've been waiting to see
you give up, and if you will not, I must, for there's something wrong
with this boat."

"Nonsense!  One of the best boats on the line."

"Then, there's something wrong with me.  I can't enjoy my snuff, and
it's all nonsense for this boy to be called an invalid.  I'm the
invalid, sir, and I am horribly ill.  Help me below, there's a good
fellow."

Mr Burne looked so deplorably miserable, and at the same time so comic,
that it was impossible to avoid smiling, and as he saw this he stamped
his foot.

"Laughing at me, eh?  Both of you.  Now, look here.  I know you both
feel so poorly that you don't know what to do, and I'll stop up on deck
and watch you out of spite."

"Nonsense!  I could not help smiling," said the professor
good-humouredly.  "Let me help you down."

"Thank you, no," said the lawyer taking off his hat to wipe his moist
brow, and then putting it on again, wrong way first.  "I'm going to stop
on deck, sir--to stop on deck."

He seemed to be making a tremendous effort to master the qualmish
feeling that had attacked him, and in this case determination won.

A night at Boulogne, and at breakfast-time next morning Lawrence seemed
no worse for the journey, so they went on at once to Paris, where a
day's rest was considered advisable, and then, the preliminaries having
been arranged, the train was entered once more, and after two or three
stoppages to avoid over-wearying the patient, Trieste was reached, where
a couple of days had to be passed before the arrival of the steamer
which was to take them to Smyrna, and perhaps farther, though the
professor was of opinion that it might be wise to make that the
starting-place for the interior.

But when the steamer arrived a delay of five days more ensued before a
start was made; and all this time the invalid's companions watched him
anxiously.

It was in these early days a difficult thing to decide, and several
times over the professor and Mr Burne nearly came to an open rupture--
one sufficiently serious to spoil the prospects of future friendly
feeling.

But these little tiffs always took place unknown to Lawrence, who
remained in happy ignorance of what was going on.

The disagreements generally happened something after this fashion.

Lawrence would be seated in one of the verandahs of the hotel enjoying
the soft warm sea-breeze, and gazing out at the scene glowing in all the
brightness of a southern sun, when the old lawyer would approach the
table where, out of the lad's sight and hearing, the professor was
seated writing.

The first notice the latter had of his fellow-traveller's approach would
be the loud snapping of the snuff-box, which was invariably followed by
a loud snuffling noise, and perhaps by a stentorian blast.  Then the
lawyer would lean his hand upon the table where the professor was
writing with:

"Really, my dear sir, you might put away your pens and ink for a bit.
I've left mine behind.  Here, I want to talk to you."

The professor politely put down his pen, leaned back in his chair and
folded his arms.

"Hah! that's better," said Mr Burne.  "Now we can talk.  I wanted to
speak to you about that boy."

"I am all attention," said the professor.

"Well, sir, there's a good German physician here as well as the English
one.  Don't you think we ought to call both in, and let them have a
consultation?"

"What about?" said the professor calmly.

"About, sir?  Why, _re_ Lawrence."

"But he seems certainly better, and we have Doctor Snorter's remedies if
anything is necessary."

"Better, sir? decidedly worse.  I have been watching him this morning,
and he is distinctly more feeble."

"Why, my dear Mr Burne, he took my arm half an hour ago, and walked up
and down that verandah without seeming in the least distressed."

"Absurd, sir!"

"But I assure you--"

"Tut, tut, sir! don't tell me.  I watch that boy as I would an important
case in a court of law.  Nothing escapes me, and I say he is much
worse."

"Really, I should be sorry to contradict you, Mr Burne," replied the
professor calmly; "but to me it seems as if this air agreed with him,
and I should have said that, short as the time has been since he left
home, he is better."

"Worse, sir, worse decidedly."

"Really, Mr Burne, I am sorry to differ from you," replied the
professor stiffly; "but I must say that Lawrence is, to my way of
thinking, decidedly improved."

"Pah!  Tchah!  Absurd!" cried the lawyer; and he went off blowing his
nose.

Another day he met the professor, who had just left Lawrence's side
after sitting and talking with him for some time, and there was an
anxious, care-worn look in his eyes that impressed the sharp lawyer at
once.

"Hallo!" he exclaimed; "what's the matter?"

The professor shook his head.

"Lawrence," he said sadly.

"Eh?  Bless me!  You don't say so," cried Mr Burne; and he hurried out
into the verandah, which was the lad's favourite place.

There Mr Burne stayed for about a quarter of an hour, and then went
straight to where the professor was writing a low-spirited letter to
Mrs Dunn, in which he had said that he regretted bringing Lawrence
right away into those distant regions, for though Trieste was a large
port, and there was plenty of medical attendance to be obtained, it was
not like being at home.

"I say!  Look here!" cried Mr Burne, "you ought to know better, you
know."

"I do not understand you," replied the professor quietly.

"Crying wolf, you know.  It's too bad."

"Really," said the professor, who was in one of his dreamy, abstracted
moods, "you are mistaken, Mr Burne.  I did not say a word about a
wolf."

"Well, whoever said you did, man?" cried the lawyer impatiently as he
took out his snuff-box and whisked forth a pinch, flourishing some of
the fine dry dust about where he stood.  "Can't you, a university man,
understand metaphors--shepherd boy calling wolf when there was nothing
the matter?  The patient's decidedly better, sir."

"Really, Mr Burne--_er_--_tchishew_--_er_--_tchishew_!"

Old Mr Burne stood looking on, smiling grimly, as the professor had a
violent fit of sneezing, and in mocking tones held out his snuff-box and
said:

"Have a good pinch?  Stop the sneezing.  Ah! that's better," he added,
as the professor finished off with a tremendous burst.  "Your head will
be clear now, and you can understand what I say.  That boy's getting
well."

"I wish I could think so," said the professor, sniffing so very quietly
that, as if to give him a lesson, his companion blew off one of his
blasts, with the result that a waiter hurried into the room to see what
was wrong.

"Think? there is no occasion to think so.  He is mending fast, sir; and
if you have any doubt about it, and cannot trust in the opinion of a man
of the world, go and watch him, and see how interested he seems in all
that is going on.  Why, a fortnight ago he lay back in his chair
dreaming and thinking of nothing but himself.  Now he is beginning to
forget that there is such a person.  He's better, sir, better."

The fact was that the lawyer was right, and so was the professor, for at
that time Lawrence was as changeable of aspect as an April day, and his
friends could only judge him by that which he wore when they went to his
side.

At last the morning came when the steamer started for Smyrna, and the
pair were for once in a way agreed.  They had been breakfasting with
Lawrence, noting his looks, his appetite, listening to every word, and
at last, when he rose feebly, and went out into the verandah to gaze
down at the busy crowd of mingled European and Eastern people, whose
dress and habits seemed never tiring to the lad, the lawyer turned to
the professor and exclaimed:

"You did not say a word to him about sailing to-day."

"No.  Neither did you."

"Well, why didn't you?"

"Because I thought that it seemed useless, and that we had better stay."

"Well, I don't often agree with you, professor, but I must say that I do
to-day.  The boy is not equal to it.  But he is better."

"Ye-es," said the professor.  "I think he is better."

Just then Lawrence returned from the verandah, looking flushed and
excited.

"Why, the Smyrna boat sails to-day, Mr Preston," he exclaimed.  "One of
the waiters has just told me.  Hadn't we better get ready at once?"

"Get ready?" said the professor kindly.  "We thought that perhaps we had
better wait for the next boat."

"Oh!" exclaimed Lawrence, with his countenance changing.  "I shall be so
disappointed.  I felt so much better too, and I've been longing to see
some of the Grecian isles."

"Do you really feel yourself equal to the journey, my dear boy?" said
the professor.

"Oh yes.  I don't know when I have felt so well," said Lawrence eagerly.

"Bless my soul!" cried the old lawyer, opening and shutting his
snuff-box as if for the purpose of hearing it snap, and sending the fine
dust flying, "what a young impostor you are!  Here, let's get our bill
paid, and our traps on board.  There's no time to spare."

Lawrence's face brightened again, and he left the room.

"Tell you what, professor," said Mr Burne, "you and I have been ready
to quarrel several times over about what we do not understand.  Now,
look here.  I want to enjoy this trip.  What do you say to burying the
hatchet?"

"Burying the hatchet?  Oh!  I see.  Let there be peace."

"To be sure," cried the lawyer, shaking hands warmly, "and we'll keep
the fighting for all the Greeks, Turks, brigands, and the like who
interfere with us."

"With all my heart," said the professor smiling; but Mr Burne still
lingered as if he had something to say.

"Fact is," he exclaimed at last, "I'm a curious crotchety sort of
fellow.  Had too much law, and got coated over with it; but I'm not bad
inside when you come to know me."

"I'm sure you are not, Burne," said the professor warmly; "and if you
come to that, I have spent so many years dealing with dead authors, and
digging up musty legends, that I am abstracted and dreamy.  I do not
understand my fellow-men as I should, but really I esteem you very
highly for the deep interest you take in Lawrence."

"That's why I esteem you, sir," said the lawyer; "and--no, I won't take
any more snuff now; it makes you sneeze.  There, be off, and get ready
while I pay the bills."

That evening, in the golden glow of the setting sun, they set sail for
Smyrna.



CHAPTER FIVE.

SOME FELLOW-TRAVELLERS.

It was one bright morning, after a delightful passage, that the steamer
made its way into the port of Smyrna, where everything around seemed to
be full of novelty--strange craft manned by strange-looking crews, Turks
with white turbans, Turks with scarlet fezzes and baggy breeches, and
Turks with green turbans to show their reputation among their
compatriots.  Greeks, too--small, lithe, dark men, with keen faces and
dark eyes, differing wonderfully from the calm, dignified, handsome
Turks, but handsome in their way if it had not been for a peculiarly
sharp, shifty expression that suggested craftiness and a desire to
overreach, if not cheat.

There was a constant succession of fresh sights, from the Turkish
man-of-war that was of British build, to the low fishing-boat with its
long graceful lateen sail, spread out upon its curved and tapering spar.

Ashore it was the same.  The landing-place swarmed with fresh faces,
fresh scenes.  Everything looked bright, and as if the atmosphere was
peculiarly clear, while the shadows were darker and sharper as they were
cast by the glowing sun.

For the sun did glow.  The time was short since they had left England,
with symptoms coming on of falling leaves, lengthening nights, and
chills in the air, while here all was hot summer time, and one of the
first things Mr Burne said was:

"There's no mistake about it, I must have out a blouse."

They were soon comfortably settled in the best hotel, from whence the
professor decided to sally forth at once to call upon and deliver his
letters of recommendation to the British consul; but he was not fated to
go alone.

"I want to see everything and everybody," said Mr Burne, "and I'll go
with you.  Look here, Lawrence, my boy, I would not get in the sun.  I'd
go and lie down for an hour or two till we get back."

"The sun seems to give me strength," said Lawrence eagerly.  "I have
seen so little of it in London.  I want to go with you, please."

The professor darted a look at Mr Burne which seemed to say, "Let him
have his own way;" and the landlord having been consulted, a Greek guide
or dragoman was soon in readiness, and they started.

"Look here," said Mr Burne, taking hold of the professor's sleeve.  "I
don't like the look of that chap."

"What, the guide?"

"Yes!  I thought Greeks were nice straightforward chaps, with long noses
drawn down in a line from their foreheads, like you see in the British
Museum.  That fellow looks as if he wouldn't be long in England before
he'd be looking at a judge and jury, and then be sent off to penal
servitude.  Greek statues are humbug.  They don't do the Greeks
justice."

"It does not matter as long as he does his duty by us for the short time
we are here.  Be careful.  He understands English."

"Well, I am careful," said Mr Burne; "and I'm looking after my
pocket-book, watch, and purse; and if I were you I should do the same.
He's a rogue, I'm sure."

"Nonsense!"

"'Tisnt nonsense, sir; you're too ready to trust everybody.  Did you
hear his name?"

"I did," said Lawrence smiling.  "Xenos Stephanos."

"Yes," grumbled Mr Burne.  "There's a name.  I don't believe any man
could be honest with a name like that."

The professor showed his white teeth as he laughed heartily, and Mr
Burne took snuff, pulled out a glaring yellow silk handkerchief, and
blew a blast that was like the snort of a wild horse.

It was done so suddenly that a grave-looking Turkish gentlemen in front
started and turned round.

"Well, what is it?" said Mr Burne fiercely.  "Did you never see an
Englishman take snuff before?"

The Turk bowed, smiled, and continued his way.

"Such rudeness.  Savages!" snorted out Mr Burne.  "Don't believe they
know what a pocket-handkerchief is."

"I beg your pardon," said the Turk, turning round and smiling as he
spoke in excellent English, "I think you will find we do, but we have
not the use for them here that you have in England."

"I--er--er--er.  Bless my soul, sir!  I beg your pardon," cried the old
lawyer.  "I did not know you understood English, or--"

"Pray, say no more, sir," said the Turkish gentleman gravely.  And he
turned to cross the street.

"Snubbed!  Deserved it!" cried Mr Burne, taking off his straw hat, and
doubling his fist, as if he were going to knock the crown out.  "Let
this be a lesson to you, Lawrence.  Bless me!  Thought I was among
savages.  Time I travelled."

"You forgot that you were still amongst steam, and post-offices, and
telegraph wires, and--"

"Bless me! yes," cried Mr Burne; "and, look there, an English name up,
and Bass's pale ale.  Astonishing!"

Just then the Greek guide stopped and pointed to a private house as
being the English consul's, and upon entering they were at once shown
into a charmingly furnished room, in which were a handsome bronzed
middle-aged gentleman, in earnest conversation with a tall
masculine-looking lady with some pretensions to beauty, and a little
easy-looking man in white flannel, a glass in one eye, and a very high
shirt collar covered with red spots, as if a number of cochineal insects
had been placed all over it at stated intervals and then killed.

He was smooth-faced all but a small moustache; apparently about thirty;
plump and not ill-favoured, though his hair was cut horribly close; but
a spectator seemed to have his attention taken up at once by the spotted
collar and the eye-glass.

"Glad to see you, Mr Preston," said the bronzed middle-aged man.  "You
too, Mr Burne.  And how are you, Mr Grange?  I hope you have borne the
voyage well.  Let me introduce you," he continued, after shaking hands,
"to our compatriots Mr and Mrs Charles Chumley.  We can't afford, out
here, not to know each other."

Mutual bowing took place, and the consul continued:

"Mr and Mrs Chumley are bound on the same errand as you are--a trip
through the country here."

"Yes," said the gentleman; "we thought--"

"Hush, Charley! don't," interrupted the lady; "let me speak.  Are you
Professor Preston?"

"My name is Preston," said the professor, bowing.

"Glad to meet you.  Mr Chumley and I are going to do Turkey this year.
Mr Thompson here said that you and your party were going to travel.  He
had had letters of advice.  We are going to start directly and go
through the mountains; I suppose you will do the same."

"No," said the professor calmly; "we are going to take steamer round to
one of the southern ports and start from there."

"Oh, I say, what a pity!" said the little gentleman, rolling his head
about in his stiff collar, where it looked something like a ball in a
cup.  "We might have helped one another and been company."

"I wish you would not interfere so, Charley," cried the lady.  "You know
what I said."

"All right, Agnes," said the little gentleman dolefully.  "Are you
people staying at Morris's?"

"Yes," said the professor.

"So are we.  See you at dinner, perhaps."

"Charley!" exclaimed the lady in tones that were quite Amazonic, they
were so deep and stern.

Then a short conversation took place with the consul, and the strange
couple left, leaving their host free to talk to the other visitors.

"I had very kind letters from Mr Linton at the Foreign Office
respecting you, gentlemen," said the consul.

"I know Linton well," said the professor.

"He is an old friend of mine too," said the consul.  "Well, I have done
all I could for you."

"About passports or what is necessary?" said the professor.

"I have a properly-signed firman for you," said the consul smiling; "and
the showing of that will be sufficient to ensure you good treatment,
help, and protection from the officials in every town.  They will
provide you with zaptiehs or cavasses--a guard when necessary, and
generally see that you are not molested or carried off by brigands, or
such kind of folk."

"But is it a fact, sir," said Mr Burne, "that you have real brigands in
the country?"

"Certainly," said the consul smiling.

"What! in connection with postal arrangements, and steam, and
telegraphs?"

"My dear sir, we have all these things here; but a score or so of miles
out in the country, and you will find the people, save that firearms are
common, just about as they were a thousand years ago."

"Bless my heart!" exclaimed Mr Burne.

"It is a fact, sir; and I should advise great care, not only as to whom
you trust among the people, but as to your health.  The country is in a
horrible state of neglect; the government does nothing."

"But I do not see how that is to affect us," said the professor,
"especially as we have that firman."

"It will not affect you in the more settled districts, but you may run
risks in those which are more remote.  I have been warning Mr and Mrs
Chumley about the risks, but the lady laughed and said that she always
carried a revolver."

"Bless me!" exclaimed Mr Burne, "a lady with a revolver!  She would not
dare to fire it."

"I don't know about that," said the professor.

"Of course," continued the consul, "I am at your service, Mr Preston.
If you are in need of aid, and are anywhere within reach of the
telegraph wires, pray send to me and I will do my best.  Can I do
anything more for you?"

This was a plain hint to go, for it was evident that others were waiting
for an interview with the representative of England; so a friendly
farewell was taken and the little party returned to the hotel.

"I'm glad you decided to go a different way to those people, Preston,"
said Mr Burne.

"The decision was made on the instant, my dear sir; for I did mean to
start from here."

"Ah, you thought those people would be a nuisance?"

"Indeed I did."

The professor had hardly spoken when Lawrence touched his arm; for the
parties alluded to approached, and the lady checked her lord, who was
going to speak, by saying:

"I thought I would give you a hint about going pretty well-armed.  You
will not have to use your weapons if you let the people see that you
have them."

"Arms, ma'am!  Stuff! rubbish!" cried Mr Burne.  "The proper arms of an
Englishman are the statutes at large, bound in law calf, with red labels
on their back."

"Statutes at large!" said the lady wonderingly.

"Yes, ma'am--the laws of his country, or the laws of the country where
he is; and the proper arms of a lady, madam, are her eyes."

"And her tongue," said the professor to himself, but not in so low a
voice that it was not heard by Lawrence, who gave him a sharp look full
of amusement.

Mrs Chumley smiled and bowed.

"Very pretty, sir!" she said; "but you forget that we are going to
travel through a country where the laws are often a mere name, and
people must take care of themselves."

"Take care of themselves--certainly, ma'am, but not by breaking the
laws.  If a pack of vagabonds were to attack me I should hand them over
to the police, or apply at the nearest police-court for a summons.  That
would be a just and equitable way of treating the matter."

"Where would you get your police, Burne? and whom would you get to serve
your summons if you could procure one?"

"Nearest town, sir--anywhere."

The lady laughed heartily, and her little husband rubbed his hands and
then patted her on the back.

"This lady is quite right, my dear Burne," said the professor.  "I see
that we shall be obliged to go armed."

"Armed, sir!--armed?"

"Yes.  We shall for the greater part of our time be in places where the
laws are of no avail, unless a body of troops are sent to enforce them."

"But then your firman will have furnished us with a Turkish soldier for
our protection."

"But suppose the Turkish soldier prefers running away to fighting?"
exclaimed the lady, "what then?"

"What then, ma'am?--what then?" cried the lawyer.  "I flatter myself
that I should be able to quell the people by letting them know that I
was an English gentleman.  Do you think that at my time of life I am
going to turn butcher and carve folks with a sword, or drill holes
through them with bullets?"

"Yes, sir, if it comes to a case of who is to be carved or drilled.
There!--think it over.  Come, Charley! let's have our walk."

Saying which the lady nodded and smiled to the two elders, and was going
off in an assumed masculine way, when she caught sight of Lawrence lying
back in an easy-chair, and her whole manner changed as she crossed to
him and held out her hand with a sweet, tender, womanly look in her
eyes.

"Good-bye for the present!" she said.  "You must make haste and grow
strong, so as to help me up the mountains if we meet somewhere farther
in."



CHAPTER SIX.

MR. BURNE TRIES A GUN.

"Now that's just what I hate in women," said the old lawyer, viciously
scattering snuff all over the place.  "They put you in an ill temper,
and rouse you up to think all sorts of bitter things, and then just as
you feel ready to say them, they behave like that and disarm you.  After
the way in which she spoke to Lawrence there I can't abuse her."

"No, don't, please, Mr Burne," said Lawrence warmly, and with his
cheeks flushing, "I am sure she is very nice when you come to know her."

"Can't be," cried the lawyer.  "A woman who advocates fire and sword.
Bah!"

"But as a protection against fire and sword," said the professor
laughing.

"Tchah, sir! stuff!" cried the other.  "Look here; I can be pretty
fierce when I like, and with you so big and strong, and with such a way
with you as you have--Bah! nonsense, sir, we shall want no arms."

"Well, I propose that we now consult the landlord."

"Oh, just as you like, sir; but if he advocates such a proceeding, I'm
not going to stalk through Turkey carrying fire-irons in my belt and
over my shoulder, like a sham footpad in a country show."

The landlord was summoned--a frank-looking Englishman, who listened to
all the professor said in silence and then replied:

"Mr Thompson the consul is quite right, sir.  We are not in England
here, and though this is the nineteenth century the state of the country
is terribly lawless.  You know the old saying about when at Rome."

"Do as the Romans do, eh?"

"Exactly, sir.  Every second man you meet here even in the town goes
armed, even if his weapons are not seen, while in the country--quite in
the interior, it is the custom to wear weapons."

"Then I shall not go," said Mr Burne decisively.  "If you ask my
advice, gentlemen, I should say, carry each of you a good revolver, a
knife or dagger, a sword, and a double-barrelled gun."

"Sword, dagger, and gun!" cried the professor.  "Surely a revolver would
be sufficient."

"Why not push a nice large brass cannon before us in a wheel-barrow?"
said Mr Burne sarcastically, and then leaning back in his chair to
chuckle, as if he had said something very comical, and which he
emphasised by winking and nodding at Lawrence, who was too much
interested in the discussion upon weapons to heed him.

"A revolver is not sufficient, for more than one reason, gentlemen,"
said the landlord.  "It is a deadly weapon in skilful hands; but you
will meet scores of people who do not understand its qualities, but who
would comprehend a sword or a gun.  You do not want to have to use these
weapons."

"Use them, sir?  Of course not," roared the lawyer.  "Of course not,
sir," said the landlord.  "If you go armed merely with revolvers you may
have to use them; but if you wear, in addition, a showy-looking sword
and knife, and carry each of you a gun, you will be so formidable in
appearance that the people in the different mountain villages will treat
you with the greatest of respect, and you may make your journey in
safety."

"This is very reasonable," said the professor.

"I assure you, sir, that in a country such as this is now such
precautions are as necessary as taking a bottle of quinine.  And beside,
you may require your guns for game."

"The country is very fine, of course?"

"Magnificent, sir," replied the landlord; "but it is in ruins.  The
neglect and apathy of the government are such that the people are like
the land--full of weeds.  Why, you will hardly find a road fit to
traverse, and through the neglect of the authorities, what used to be
smiling plains are turned to fever-haunted marshes spreading pestilence
around."

"You will have to give way, Mr Burne," said the professor smiling, "and
dress like a bandit chief."

"Never, sir," cried the lawyer.  "You two may, but I am going through
Asia Minor with a snuff-box and a walking-stick.  Those will be enough
for me."

"Where can we get arms?" said the professor smiling.

"At Politanie's, sir, about fifty yards from here.  You will find him a
very straightforward tradesman.  Of course his prices are higher than
you would pay in London; but he will not supply you with anything that
is untrustworthy.  Perhaps you may as well say that you are friends of
our consul, and that I advised you."

"It is absurd!" exclaimed Mr Burne, as soon as they were alone.  "What
do you say, Lawrence, my boy?  You don't believe in weapons of war, I'm
sure."

"No," replied Lawrence quietly.

"There, professor."

"But," continued Lawrence, "I believe in being safe.  I feel sure that
the people will respect us all the more for being armed."

"And would you use a sword, sir?" cried the lawyer fiercely.

Lawrence drew his sleeve back from his thin arm, gazed at it mournfully,
and then looked up in a wistful half-laughing way at his two friends.

"I don't think I could even pull it out of the sheath," he said sadly.

"Come, Burne, you will have to yield to circumstances."

"Not I, sir, not I," said Mr Burne emphatically.  "I have been too much
mixed up with the law all my life, and know its beauties too well, ever
to break it."

"But you will come with us to the gunsmith's?"

"Oh, yes, I'll come and see you fool away your money, only I'm not going
to have you carry loaded guns near me.  If they are to be for show let
them be for show.  There, I'm ready."

"You will lie down for an hour, Lawrence, eh?" said the professor; "it
is very hot."  But the lad looked so dismayed that his friend smiled and
said, "Come along, then."

A few minutes later they were in a store, whose owner seemed to sell
everything, from tinned meat to telescopes; and, upon hearing their
wants, the shrewd, clever-looking Greek soon placed a case of revolvers
before them of English and American make, exhibiting the differences of
construction with clever fingers, with the result that the professor
selected a Colt, and Lawrence a Tranter of a lighter make.

"He's a keen one," said Mr Burne.  "What a price he is asking for these
goods!"

"But they seem genuine," said the professor; for the Greek had gone to
the back of his store to make some inquiry about ammunition.

"Genuine fleecing," grumbled Mr Burne; and just then the dealer
returned.

"You select those two, then, gentlemen," he said in excellent English.
"But if you will allow me, sir," he continued to Lawrence, "this is a
more expensive and more highly finished pistol than the other, and it is
lighter in the hand; but if I were you, as my arm would grow stronger, I
should have one exactly like my friend's."

"Why?" said Lawrence; "I like this one."

"It is a good choice, sir, but it requires different cartridges to your
friend's, and as you are going right away, would it not be better to
have to depend on one size only?  I have both, but I offer the
suggestion."

"Yes, that's quite right," said the old lawyer sharply; "quite right.  I
should have both the same; and, do you know, I think perhaps I might as
well have one, in case either of you should lose yours."

Mr Preston felt ready to smile, but the speaker was looking full at
him, as if in expectation thereof, and he remained perfectly serious.

The pistols having been purchased, with a good supply of ammunition,
guns were brought out, and the professor invested in a couple of good
useful double-barrelled fowling-pieces for himself and Lawrence; Mr
Burne watching intently the whole transaction, and ending by asking the
dealer to show him one.

"You see," he explained, "I should look odd to the people if I were not
carrying the same weapons as you two, and besides I have often thought
that I should like to go shooting.  I don't see why I shouldn't; do you,
Lawrence?"

"No, sir, certainly not," was the reply: and Mr Burne went on examining
the gun before him, pulling the lever, throwing open the breech, and
peeping through the barrels as if they formed a double telescope.

"Oh! that's the way, is it?" he said.  "But suppose, when the thing goes
off, the shots should come out at this end instead of the other?"

"But you don't fire it off when it's open like that, Mr Burne," cried
Lawrence.

"My dear boy, of course not.  Do you suppose I don't understand?  You
put in the cartridges like this.  No, they won't go in that way.  You
put them in like that, and then you pull the trigger."

"No, no, no," cried Lawrence excitedly.  "You shut the breech first."

"My dear boy--oh!  I see.  Yes, of course.  Oh! that's what you meant.
Of course, of course.  I should have seen that directly.  Now, then,
it's all right.  Loaded?"

"Sir! sir! sir!" cried the dealer, but he was too late, for the old
lawyer had put the gun to his shoulder, pointing the barrel towards the
door, and pulled both triggers.

The result was a deafening explosion, two puffs of smoke half filling
the place, and the old gentleman was seated upon the floor.

"Good gracious, Burne!" cried the professor, rushing to him, "are you
much hurt?"

Lawrence caught at the chair beside him, turning ashy pale, and gazing
down at the prostrate man, while quite a little crowd of people filled
the shop.

"Hurt?" cried Mr Burne fiercely--"hurt?  Hang it, sir, do you think a
man at my time of life can be bumped down upon the floor like that
without being hurt?"

"But are you wounded--injured?"

"Don't I tell you, yes," cried Mr Burne, getting up with great
difficulty.  "I'm jarred all up the spinal column."

"But not wounded?"

"Yes, I am, sir--in my self-respect.  Here, help me up.  Oh, dear!  Oh,
lor'!  Gently!  Oh, my back!  Oh, dear!  No; I can't sit down.  That's
better.  Ah!"

"Would you like a doctor fetched?"

"Doctor?  Hang your doctor, sir.  Do you think I've came out here to be
poisoned by a foreign doctor.  Oh, bless my soul!  Oh, dear me!
Confound the gun!  It's a miserable cheap piece of rubbish.  Went off in
my hands.  Anyone shot?"

"No, sir," said the dealer quietly; "fortunately you held the muzzle
well up, and the charges went out of the upper part of the door."

"Oh! you're there, are you?" cried Mr Burne furiously, as he lay back
in a cane chair, whose cushion seemed to be comfortable.  "How dared you
put such a miserable wretched piece of rubbish as that in my hands!"

The dealer made a deprecatory gesture.

"Here, clear away all these people.  Be off with you.  What are you
staring at?  Did you never see an English gentleman meet with an
accident before?  Oh, dear me!  Oh, my conscience!  Bless my heart, I
shall never get over this."

The dealer went about from one to the other of the passers-by who had
crowded in, and the grave gentlemanly Turks bowed and left in the most
courteous manner, while the others, a very motley assembly, showed some
disposition to stay, but were eventually persuaded to go outside, and
the door was closed.

"To think of me, a grave quiet solicitor, being reduced to such a
position as this.  I'm crippled for life.  I know I am.  Serves me right
for coming.  Here, give me a little brandy or a glass of wine."

The latter was brought directly, and the old lawyer drank it, with the
result that it seemed to make him more angry.

"Here, you, sir!" he cried to the dealer, who was most attentive; "what
have you to say for yourself?  It's a wonder that I did not shoot one of
my friends here.  That gun ought to be destroyed."

"My dear Burne," said the professor, who had taken the fowling-piece and
tried the locks, cocking and recocking them over and over again; "the
piece seems to me to be in very perfect order."

"Bah! stuff!  What do you know about guns?"

"Certainly I have not used one much lately, and many improvements have
been made since I used to go shooting; but still I do know how to handle
a gun."

"Then, sir," cried the little lawyer in a towering fury, "perhaps you
will be good enough to tell me how it was that this confounded piece of
mechanism went off in my hands?"

"Simply," said the professor smiling, "because you drew both the
triggers at once."

"It is false, sir.  I just rested my fingers upon them as you are doing
now."

"And the piece went off!" said the professor drily, but smiling the
while.  "It is a way that all guns and pistols have."

The dealer smiled his thanks, and Mr Burne started up in the chair, but
threw himself back again.

"Oh, dear! oh, my gracious me!" he groaned; "and you two grinning at me
and rejoicing over my sufferings."

"My dear sir, indeed I am very sorry," said the dealer.

"Yes, I know you are," said Mr Burne furiously, "because you think, and
rightly, that I will not buy your precious gun.  Bless my heart, how it
does hurt!  I feel as if I should never be able to sit up again.  I know
my vertebrae are all loose like a string of beads."

"Will you allow us to assist you into my private room, sir?" said the
dealer.

"No, I won't," snapped the sufferer.

"But there is a couch there, and I will send for the resident English
doctor."

"If you dare do anything of the kind, confound you, sir, I'll throw
something at you.  Can't you see that there is nothing the matter with
me, only I'm in pain."

"But he might relieve you, Burne," said the professor kindly.

"I tell you I don't want to be relieved, sir," cried the little lawyer.
"And don't stand staring at me like that, boy; I'm not killed."

"I am afraid that you are a great deal hurt," said Lawrence, going to
his side and taking his hand.

"Oh, dear! oh, dear!" groaned the sufferer.  "Well, I'm not, boy, not a
bit.  There."

"Let me send for a doctor, sir," said the dealer.

"I tell you I will not, man.  Do you take me for a Greek or a Turk, or a
heretic?  Can't you see that I am an Englishman, sir, one who is never
beaten, and never gives up?  There, go on selling your guns."

"Oh, nonsense!" said the professor; "we cannot think of such things with
you in that state."

"State?  What state, sir?  Here you, Mr What's-your-name, I beg your
pardon.  I ought to have known better.  Not used to guns.  Pens are more
in my way.  Confoundedly stupid thing to do.  But I've learned more
about a gun now than I should have learned in six months.  I beg your
pardon, sir."

"Pray, say no more, sir," replied the dealer; "it is not needed."

"Yes, it is, sir," cried the lawyer fiercely.  "Didn't I tell you I was
an English gentleman.  An English gentleman always apologises when he is
in the wrong.  I apologise.  I am very sorry for what I said."

The dealer smiled and bowed, and looked pleased as he handed the
sufferer another glass of wine, which was taken and sipped at intervals
between a few mild _ohs_! and _ssfths_!

"Not a bad wine this.  What is it?"

"One of the Greek wines, sir."

"Humph! not bad; but not like our port.  Now, you people, go on with
your business, and don't stare at me as if I were a sick man.  Here, Mr
What's-your-name, put that gun in a case, and send it round to the
hotel.  I've taken a fancy to it."

"Send--this gun, sir?"

"Yes.  Didn't I speak plainly?  Didn't the professor, my friend here,
say it was a good gun?"

"Yes, sir, yes: it is an excellent piece of the best English make."

"Well, I want a gun, and I suppose any piece would go off as that did if
somebody handled it as stupidly as I did."

"Yes, sir, of course."

"Then send it on, and the pistol too.  Ah, that's better--I'm easier;
but I say, Preston, I shall have to be carried back."

"I'm very glad you are easier, but really if I were you I would see a
doctor."

"I've no objection to seeing a doctor, my dear sir, but I'm not going to
have him do anything to me."

"Then you really wish us to go on with our purchases?"

"Why, of course, man, of course.  What did we come for?  Go on, man, go
on.  Here, mister, show me one or two of these long carving knives."

"Carving knives?" said the dealer.  "I do not keep them."

"Yes, you do: these," said Mr Burne, pointing to a case in which were
several Eastern sabres.

"Oh, the swords!" said the dealer smiling.  "Of course."

"You are not going to buy one of these, are you, Mr Burne?" said
Lawrence eagerly.

"To be sure I am," was the reply.  "Why shouldn't I play at soldiers if
I like.  There, what do you say to that?" he continued, drawing a light,
keen-looking blade from its curved sheath.  "Try it.  Mind it don't go
off--I mean, don't go slashing it round and cutting off the professor's
legs or my head.  Can you lift it?"

"Oh, yes," cried Lawrence, poising the keen weapon in his hand before
examining its handsome silver inlaid hilt.

"Think that would do for me?  Oh, dear me, what a twinge!"

"Yes, sir, admirably," replied Lawrence.

"Then I don't," was the gruff retort.  "Seems to me that it would just
suit you.  There, buckle on the belt."

Lawrence did as he was told, but the belt was too large and had to be
reduced.

"Hah! that's better," said Mr Burne.  "There, that's a very handsome
sword, Lawrence, and it will do to make you look fierce when we are in
the country, and to hang up in your room at home to keep in memory of
our journey.  Will you accept it, my boy, as a present?"

"Oh, thank you," cried the lad excitedly.

"Took a fancy to it as soon as you saw it, you young dog.  I saw you!"
cried the old lawyer chuckling.  "There, now for a dagger or knife to go
with it."

The dealer produced one in an ornamental sheath directly, and explained
that it was for use as a weapon, for hunting, or to divide food when on
a journey.

"That will do, then, nicely.  There, my boy, these are my presents.
Now, Preston, I suppose we must each have one of these long choppers?"

"Yes, I think so," replied the professor.  "They will make us look more
formidable."

"Very well, then: choose one for me too, but I warn you, I shall fasten
mine down in the sheath with gum.  I'm not going to take mine out, for
fear of cutting off somebody's legs or wings, or perhaps my own."

"You feel better now?" said the professor.

"Hold your tongue, sir--do!  No: I don't feel better.  I had forgotten
my pain, but now you've made me think about it again.  There!--choose
two swords and knives and let's get back."

Two plain useful sabres were selected, and the dealer received his
orders to send the weapons to the hotel, after which the injured man was
helped into a standing position, but not without the utterance of
several groans.  Then he was walked up and down the shop several times,
ending by declaring himself much better.

"There, Lawrence!" he cried, "that's the advantage of being an
Englishman.  Now, if I had been a Dutchman or a Frenchman I should have
had myself carried back, sent for a couple of doctors, and been very bad
for a month or two; but you see I'm better already, and I'm not going to
give up to please the Grand Panjandrum himself.  Dear me! bless my
heart! panjandrum!  Pan--pan--pan--jan--jan--jan--drum!  Where did I
hear that word?"

"In a sort of nursery ditty, sir," said Lawrence laughing.

"To be sure I did," cried the old man, "and I had forgotten it; but I
say, don't laugh like that, boy."

"Why not, sir?"

"Because it will make us believe that you have been shamming all this
time, and that you're really quite well, thank you, sir!--eh?"

"I--I think I am better," said Lawrence quickly.  "I don't know why, but
I have not been thinking about being ill these last few days, everything
is so bright and sunshiny here, you see."

"Yes, I see," said the old lawyer, giving the professor a peculiar look;
and they went back to the hotel.



CHAPTER SEVEN.

THE GREEK SKIPPER.

"No, I can't do it," said Mr Burne after several brave efforts; "I
really am a good deal jarred, and it is quite impossible.  I am quite
right as long as I keep still, but in such pain if I move that I can
hardly bear it."

"Then we will put off the journey for a week," said the professor
decisively.

"And disappoint the lad?" said Mr Burne.  "No; you two must go."

"How can you talk like that?" exclaimed Lawrence sharply, "when you have
come on purpose to help me get strong again?  Mr Preston, we shall stay
here--shall we not?"

"Of course," replied the professor.  "The enjoyment of our trip depends
upon our being staunch to one another."

Mr Burne declared that it was absurd, and ridiculous, and nonsensical,
and raked out a few other adjectives to give force to his sentiments,
speaking in the most sour way possible; but it was very evident that he
was highly pleased, and the steamer sailed without them.

The next day Mr Burne was so stiff that he could not walk about; but he
refused to see a doctor, and a week passed before he could move without
pain.  Then one morning he declared that he was mending fast, and
insisted upon inquiries being made respecting the sailing of the next
steamer that would stop at one or other of the little towns on the south
coast; but there was nothing bound in that direction, nor likely to be
for another fortnight.

"And all my fault!" cried Mr Burne angrily.  "Tut-tut-tut!  Here, ring
for the landlord."

The landlord came and was questioned.

No, there was no possibility of a passage being made for quite a
fortnight, unless the visitors would go in a small sailing boat
belonging to one or the other of the trading crews.

The professor glanced at Lawrence, thought of the probable discomfort,
and shook his head.

"The very thing!" exclaimed Mr Burne sharply.

"We can make trips in steamers at anytime; but a trip in a Greek
felucca, with real Greek sailors, is what I have longed for all my life.
Eh, Lawrence, what do you say?"

"I think with you, sir, that it would be delightful--that is, if you are
well enough to go."

"Well enough to go! of course I am.  I'm longing to be off.  Only a bit
stiff.  Look here, landlord, see what you can do for us.  One moment,
though; these Greeks--they will not rob us and throw us overboard--eh?"

"No fear, sir.  I'll see that you go by a boat manned by honest fellows
who come regularly to the port.  Leave it to me."

The landlord departed and the question was discussed.  The professor was
ready enough to go in the manner proposed so long as Lawrence felt equal
to the task, and this he declared he was; and certainly, imperceptibly
as it had come about, there was an improvement in his appearance that
was most hopeful.

The principal part of their luggage had gone on by steamer, and would be
lying waiting for them at Ansina, a little port on the south coast which
had been considered a suitable starting-point; and they had been
suffering some inconvenience, buying just such few things as would do to
make shift with till they overtook their portmanteaux.

Oddly enough, Mr Burne expressed the most concern about their new
purchases, the weapons and ammunition, which had been sent on to the
steamer by the landlord as soon as they arrived from the store.

"Such things must be so tempting to the people who see them," said the
old lawyer.

"But they were all carefully packed in cases," said the professor.
"They would not know what was inside."

"Nonsense, my dear sir.  We English folk would not have known, but a
Greek or a Turk would.  These people smell powder just like crows in a
corn-field.  I'm afraid that if we don't make haste we shall find our
things gone, and I wouldn't lose that gun for any money."

The landlord came back in about a couple of hours to say that he had had
no success, but that it would become known that he had been inquiring,
and an application might be made.

This turned out correct, for as the travellers were seated that evening
over their dessert, enjoying by an open window the deliciously soft
breeze, as Lawrence partook of the abundant grapes, and the professor
puffed at a water-pipe--an example followed by Mr Burne, who diligently
tried to like it, but always gave up in favour of a cigar at the end of
a quarter of an hour--the waiter brought their coffee and announced that
the master of a small vessel desired to see their excellencies.

The man was shown in, and proved to be a picturesque-looking fellow in a
scarlet cap, which he snatched from his curly black hair and advanced
into the room, saying some words in modern Greek whose import the
professor made out; but his attempts to reply were too much for the
skipper, who grew excited, shook his head, and finally rushed out of the
room, to the great amusement of Mr Burne, who knocked the ash off the
cigar he had recently lit.

"That's what I always say," he cried.  "Book language is as different as
can be from spoken language.  I learned French for long enough when I
was a boy, but I never could make a Frenchman understand what I meant."

"Let's ring and inquire," said the professor, to hide a smile.  "I hope
we have not driven the fellow away."

"Hope you have, you mean," said Mr Burne.

The professor rose to reach the bell, but just then the landlord entered
with the Greek sailor, who smiled and showed his white teeth.

With the landlord as interpreter the matter became easy.  The man was
going to sail in three days, that was as soon as the little vessel, in
which he had brought a cargo of oranges and other fruit from Beyrout,
had discharged her load and was ready to return.  He was going to
Larnaca on his return voyage, but for a consideration he was ready to
take the English excellencies to any port they liked on the south
coast--Ansina if they wished--and he would make them as comfortable as
the boat would allow; but they must bring their own food and wine.

The bargain was soon struck, the Greek asking a sum which the landlord
named to the professor--so many Turkish pounds.

"But is not that a heavy price for the accommodation we shall receive?"

"Yes," said the landlord smiling.  "I was going to suggest that you
should offer him one-third of the amount."

"Then we shall offend him and drive him away," said Mr Burne.

"Oh, dear me! no, gentlemen.  He does not expect to get what he asks,
and the sum I name would be very fair payment.  You leave the settlement
in my hands."

The professor acquiesced, and the landlord turned to the Greek sailor to
offer him just one-third of the sum he had asked.

"I thought as much," said the old lawyer.  "The landlord thinks we're in
England, and that it was a bill of costs that he had to tax.  Look at
the Greek, Lawrence!"

The latter needed no telling, for he was already watching the sailor,
who was protesting furiously.  One moment his hands were raised, the
next they were clenched downwards as if about to strike the floor.
Again they were lifted menacingly, and there seemed danger, for one
rested upon a knife in his belt, but only for it to be beaten furiously
in the other.  Quick angry words, delivered with the greatest
volubility, followed; and then, turning and looking round in the most
scornful manner, the man seemed to fire a volley of words at the whole
party and rushed from the room.

"I'm sorry for this," said the professor, "for we would have paid
heavily sooner than wait longer."

"Humph!  Yes," exclaimed Mr Burne.  "Why not call the man back and
offer him two-thirds of his price?"

"Because, sir," replied the landlord, "it would have been giving him
twice as much as would pay him well.  Don't you see, sir, that he is
going back empty, and every piastre you pay him is great profit.
Besides, I presume that you will take far more provisions than will
suffice for your own use."

"Naturally," replied the professor.

"And this man and his little crew will reap the benefit?"

"But you have driven him away."

"Oh dear, no, sir!" replied the landlord smiling.  "He will be back
to-night, or at the latest to-morrow morning, to seal the bargain."

"Do you think so?" cried Lawrence, who looked terribly disappointed at
this new delay.

"I am sure," said the landlord laughing.  "Here he is."

For there was a quick step on the stair, the door was opened, and the
swarthy face of the Greek was thrust in, the red cap snatched off, and,
showing his white teeth in a broad smile, he came forward, nodding
pleasantly to all in turn.

A few words passed, the bargain was made, and the tall lithe fellow
strode out in high glee, it being understood that he was to well clean
out the little cabin, and remove baskets and lumber forward so as to
make the boat as comfortable as he could for his passengers; that he was
to put in at any port they liked, or stop at any island they wished to
see; and, moreover, he swore to defend them with his men against enemies
of every kind, and to land them safely at Ansina, or suffer death in
default.

This last was his own volunteered penalty, after which he darted back to
say that their excellencies might bring a little tobacco for him and his
men, if they liked, and that, in return, they might be sure of finding a
plentiful supply of oranges, grapes, and melons for their use.

"Come, landlord," said Mr Burne, "I think you have done wonders for
us."

"I have only kept you from being cheated, gentlemen," was the reply.
"These men generally ask three or four times as much as they mean to
take."

"And do the landlords?" said the professor drily.

"I hope not, sir," was the reply.  "But now, gentlemen, if you will
allow me, I should like to offer you a bit of advice."

"Pray, give it," said the professor gravely.

"I will, sir.  It is this.  You are going into a very wild country,
where in places you will not be able to help yourselves in spite of your
firman.  That will be sufficient to get you everything where the law is
held in anything like respect, but you will find yourselves in places
where the rude, ignorant peasants will look upon you as Christian dogs,
and will see you starve or die of exposure before they will give or even
sell you food for yourselves or horses."

"Mighty pleasant set of barbarians to go amongst, I must say!" cried Mr
Burne.

"I am telling you the simple truth, gentlemen.  You will find no hotels
or inns, only the resting-places--the khans--and often enough you will
be away from them."

"He is quite right," said the professor calmly.  "I was aware that we
should sometimes have to encounter these troubles."

"Humph!  'Pon my word!" grumbled Mr Burne.  "Look here, Lawrence, let's
go back."

"What for?" cried the lad flushing.  "Oh, no! we must go on."

The professor glanced at him quickly, and smiled in his calm grave way
before turning to the landlord.

"You have not given us your advice," he said.

"It is very simple, gentlemen, and it is this: Take with you a man who
knows the country well, who can act as guide, and from his frequent
travels there can speak two or three languages--a faithful trusty fellow
who will watch over you, guard you from extortion, and be ready to
fight, if needs be, or force the people he comes among to give you or
sell you what you need."

"Oh! but are they such savages as this--so near to the more civilised
places of the East?"

"Quite, sir," replied the landlord.

"And where is this pearl among men to be found?" said the professor with
a slight sneer.  "Do you know such a one?"

"Yes, sir; he only returned from a journey yesterday.  I happened to see
him this morning, and thought directly of you."

"Would he go with us?" said the old lawyer quickly.

"I cannot say for certain," was the reply; "but if you will give me
leave I will see him and sound him upon the subject."

"Humph!" from the old lawyer.

"He has just been paid, and would no doubt like to stay and rest here a
little while, but I daresay I could prevail upon him to go with you if
he saw you first."

"Then he is to be the master, not we?"

"Well, gentlemen, I don't say that," said the landlord smiling; "but
people out here are very different to what they are at home.  I have
learned by bitter experience how independent they can be, and how strong
their natural dislike is to Christians."

"This man is not a Christian, then?"

"Oh, no, sir! a Muslim, a thorough-going Turk."

"He will not carry his religious feelings to the pitch of pushing us
over some precipice in the mountains, eh? and then come home thinking he
has done a good work, eh, Mr Landlord?" said the old lawyer.

"Oh, no!  I'll answer for his integrity, sir.  If he engages to go with
you, have no hesitation in trusting him with your baggage, your arms,
your purses if you like.  If he undertakes to be your guide, he will
lose his life sooner than see you robbed of a single piastre."

"And what will he require?" said Mr Burne shortly; "what pay?"

"Very moderate, gentlemen, and I promise you this, that if I can
persuade him to go with you, the cost of paying him will be saved out of
your expenses.  I mean that you will spend less with him than you would
without."

"And he knows something of the country?"

"A great deal, gentlemen.  Shall I see if I can get him to go?"

"By all means," cried the two elders in a breath.

"If he consents I will bring him to you.  I beg pardon, I am wrong.  I
must bring him to see you first before he will consent."

"Then, as I said before, he is to be the master, not we," said the
professor.

"No, no, sir, you must not take it like that.  The man is independent,
and need not undertake this journey without he likes.  Is it surprising,
then, that if he should come and see you, and not liking your
appearance, or the prospect of being comfortable in your service, he
should decline to go?"

"You are quite right," said Mr Burne.  "I would not."



CHAPTER EIGHT.

YUSSUF THE GUIDE.

At breakfast-time the next morning the landlord came and announced that
Yussuf was in waiting.  A few minutes later he ushered in a rather
plain-looking, deeply-bronzed, middle-aged man, who, at the first
glance, seemed to have nothing whatever to recommend him.  As a nation
his people are good-looking and dignified.  Yussuf was rather
ill-looking and decidedly undignified.  He did not seem muscular, or
active, or clever, or agreeable, or to have good eyes.  He was not even
well dressed.  But upon further examination there was a hardened wiry
look about the man, and a stern determined appearance in the lines of
his countenance, while the eyes that did not seem to be good, so sunken
were they beneath his brow, and so deeply shaded, were evidently keen
and piercing.  They seemed to flash as they met those of the old lawyer,
to look defiant as they encountered the professor's searching gaze, and
then to soften as they were turned upon Lawrence, as he lay back in his
chair rather exhausted by the heat.

A few questions were asked on either side, the newcomer speaking very
good English, and also grasping the professor's Arabic at once.  In
fact, it appeared evident that he was about to decline to accompany the
party; but the words spoken sonorously by the professor seemed to make
him hesitate, as if the fact of one of the party speaking the familiar
tongue gratified him, but still he hesitated.

Just then, he hardly knew why, but attracted by the eyes of the Turk,
which were fixed upon him gravely, and in a half-pitying manner,
Lawrence rose and approached.

"I hope you will go with us," he said quickly.

Yussuf took his hand and held it, gazing in the lad's face earnestly, as
a pleasant smile illumined his own.

"You are weak and ill," he said softly.  "The wind that blows in the
mountains will make you strong."

Then turning slowly to the others he saluted them gravely.

"Effendis," he said, "I am thy servant.  Allah be with us in all our
journeyings to and fro.  I will go."

"I am glad!" cried Lawrence.

"And so am I," said the professor, hesitating for a moment, and then
holding out his hand, which Yussuf took respectfully, held for a moment,
and then turned to Mr Burne.

"Oh, all right, shake hands," said the latter, "if it's the custom of
the country; and now about terms."

"Leave me to settle that with Yussuf," said the landlord hastily, and he
and the Muslim left the room.

"Seems queer to begin by being inspected, and then shaking hands with
the servant we engage, eh, professor?" said Mr Burne.

"The man is to be more than servant," replied Mr Preston; "he is to be
our guide and companion for months.  He repelled me at first, but
directly he spoke in that soft deep voice there seemed to me to be truth
in every accent.  He is a gentleman at heart, and I believe we have
found a pearl.  What do you say, Lawrence?"

"He made me like him directly he looked in my eyes, and I am very glad
he is going."

"I repeat my words," said the professor.

"Well, I mustn't quarrel, I suppose.  My back's too bad; so I throw in
my lot with you, and say I am glad, and good luck to us."

"Amen," said the professor gravely; "but I like our guide's way of
wishing success the better of the two."



CHAPTER NINE.

YUSSUF IS SUSPICIOUS.

Lawrence watched anxiously for the arrival of the new guide Yussuf on
the day appointed for sailing.  There had been one more disappointment,
the Greek having declared that he must have another day before he would
be ready, but there was no further delay.

Yussuf came to say that he had examined the boat, that it was good,
seaworthy, and well manned by a stout little crew of sailors, but that
he was very much dissatisfied with the accommodation prepared for the
gentlemen.

He had not been told to report upon this matter, and his evident quiet
eagerness to serve his employers well was satisfactory.

"We expect to rough it," said the professor.  "It will not be for long."

Yussuf shrugged his shoulders, and said as he looked hard at Lawrence:

"It may be long, effendi.  The winds perhaps light, and there are
storms."

"I am afraid we must risk these troubles; and besides, it is a coasting
trip, and we should be able to run into some port."

Yussuf bowed.

"I thought it my duty to tell his excellency of the state of the boat,"
he said; and then, in an earnest busy way, he asked about the baggage to
go on board, and provisions, promising to bring up a couple of the Greek
sailors to carry down what was necessary.

In the course of the afternoon this was done, the consul visited and
parted from in the most friendly manner, Lawrence's eyes brightening as
the official rested his hand upon his shoulder, and declared in all
sincerity that he could see an improvement in him already.

The landlord endorsed this remark too on parting, and he as well as the
consul assured the little party that, if anything could be done to help
them, a message would receive the most earnest attention.

"You think we shall get into trouble, then?"  Lawrence ventured to say,
but shrank back directly he had spoken, with his cheeks flushed and
heart beating, for his long illness had made him effeminate.

"I think it possible," said the landlord smiling; "but I sincerely hope
you will not.  In fact, with a man like Yussuf your risks are greatly
reduced.  Good-bye, gentlemen, and I shall look forward to seeing you
again on your way back."

"Bravo, Lawrence!" cried the professor, clapping him on the shoulder.
"I had been thinking the same thing; now I am sure of it."

"I don't understand you," said the lad wiping his face, for the
perspiration was standing in a fine dew all over his brow.

"Why, both Mr Thompson and the landlord here said that you were better,
and you have just shown me that you are."

"How, Mr Preston?" said the lad bashfully.

"By the way in which you just now spoke out, my boy," said Mr Burne,
joining in.  "Why, you couldn't have spoken like that before we started.
You are not much better now; but when we settled to come on this trip
you were as weak and bashful as a delicate girl.  Preston, we shall make
a man of him after all."

They were walking towards the landing-place nearest to where the Greek's
boat lay, and further conversation was stayed by Yussuf coming to them.

"The boatman will not believe, excellencies," he said, "that there is no
more luggage.  Have I got all?"

"Yes; all our luggage went on by the steamer to Ansina."

Yussuf bowed and went back to the landing-place, where a small boat
manned by the Greek and one of his men was in waiting, and in the
travellers' presence Yussuf explained about their belongings.

The Greek listened with rather a moody expression, but said no more; and
in a very short time the little party were pulled to the side of a long
light craft, about the burden of a large west country fishing lugger,
but longer, more graceful in shape, and with the fore-part pretty well
cumbered with baskets, which exhaled the familiar ether-like odour of
oranges.

The accommodation was very spare, but, as the weather was deliciously
fine, there was little hardship in roughing it in the open--provision
being made for the invalid to stay in shelter as much as he liked.

They began to find the value of their guide at once, for he eagerly set
to work to find them seats by improvising places in the stern; showing
how he had arranged the provisions and fresh water, and offering
Lawrence some ripe grapes as he made him comfortable where he would be
out of the way of the men hoisting sail, and getting clear of the many
boats lying at hand.  First one and then the other long tapering sail
was hoisted, each looking like the wing of a swallow continued to a
point, as it stretched out to the tip of the curved and tapering spar;
and as these filled the light vessel careened over, and began to glide
swiftly through the bright blue sea.

After lending some help the Greek skipper went behind his passengers to
the helm, his crew of three swarthy-looking fellows, each with his knife
in his belt, threw themselves down amongst the baskets forward, and as
the passengers stood or sat watching the glorious panorama of town,
coast, and shipping they were passing, Yussuf calmly shook his loose
garment about him, squatted down beside the low bulwark, and lighting a
water-pipe began to smoke with his eyes half closed, and as if there was
nothing more to trouble about in life.

"'Pon my word!" said the old lawyer.  "What a place this boat seems to
be for practising the art of doing nothing comfortably!"

"Yes," said the professor, taking in the scene on board at a glance.
"It is typical of the East.  You must get westward to see men toiling
constantly like ants.  The word business does not belong to these
lands."

"You are right," said Mr Burne.

"Well, it is the custom of the country," continued the professor, "and
while we have no hard travel to do, let us follow these people's
example, and watch and think."

"There is no room to do anything else," said Mr Burne grumpily.

"How delicious!" said Lawrence as if to himself.

"What, those grapes!" said the professor smiling.

"I beg your pardon!" exclaimed Lawrence, starting and flushing again
like a girl.  "No: I meant sitting back here, and feeling this beautiful
soft breeze as we glide through the blue sea."

"You like it then?" said Mr Burne smiling.

"Oh, yes!  I don't know when I felt so well and happy.  It is
delightful."

"That's right," cried Mr Burne.  "Come, now; we must throw the invalid
overboard."

Lawrence laughed.

"I mean the disease," said Mr Burne.  "No more talking about being
ill."

"No," said Lawrence quietly, and speaking as if he felt every word he
uttered to be true; "I feel now as if I were growing better every hour."

"And so you are," cried the professor.  "Come, don't think about
yourself, but set to work and take photographs."

"Nonsense!" cried Mr Burne; "let the boy be, now he is comfortable.
Photographs indeed!  Where's your tackle?"

"I mean mental photographs," said the professor laughing.

"Then, why didn't you say so, man?  Good gracious me, if we lawyers were
to write down one thing when we mean another, a pretty state of affairs
we should have.  The world would be all lawsuits.  Humph; who'd think
that Smyrna was such a dirty, shabby place, to look at it from here?"

"A lovely scene certainly!" said the professor.  "Look, Lawrence, how
well the mountain stands out above the town."

"Humph, yes; it's very pretty," said the lawyer; "but give me Gray's Inn
with its plane-trees, or snug little Thavies' Inn.  This place is a
sham."

"But it is very beautiful seen from here, Mr Burne," said Lawrence, who
was feasting on the glorious sunlit prospect.

"Paint and varnish, sir, over rotten wood," snorted Mr Burne.  "Look at
the drainage; look at the plagues and fevers and choleras they get
here."

"Yes," said the professor, "at times."

"Bah! very pretty, of course, but nothing like London."

"With its smoke," said the professor.

"Fine healthy thing, sir," cried the old gentleman.  "Magnificent city,
London!"

"And its darkness and fogs," said Lawrence.

"Well, who minds a bit of fog, so long as he is well?" cried Mr Burne.
"Look here, young man; don't you find fault with your own land.  Stick
up for it through thick and thin."

"For all of it that is good, my lad," said the professor merrily, "but
don't uphold the bad."

"Bad, sir!  There's precious little that's bad in London.  If you want
to go a few hundred miles there, you can go at any time and get good
accommodation.  Not be forced to ride in a market-boat with hard seats.
Bless me, they are making my back bad again."

"Oh, but, Mr Burne, look, look, the place here is lovely!"

"Oh, yes, lovely enough, but, as the fellow said, it isn't fit to live
in long; it's dangerous to be safe."

"What do you mean?"

"Earthquakes, sir.  If you take a house in London, you know where you
are.  If you take one here, as the fellow said, where are you?  To-day
all right, to-morrow shaken down by an earthquake shock, or swallowed
up."

"There are risks everywhere," said the professor, who seemed to be
gradually throwing off his dreamy manner, and growing brighter and more
active, just as if he had been suffering from a disease of the mind as
Lawrence had of the body.

"Risks?  Humph! yes, some; but by the time we've finished our trip,
you'll all be ready to say, There's no place like home."

"Granted," said the professor.

"Why, you're not tired of the journey already, Mr Burne?"

"Tired?  No, my boy," cried the old man smiling.  "I'm in a bad temper
to-day, that's all.  This seat is terribly hard and--oh, I know what's
the matter.  I'm horribly hungry."

He turned his head to see that Yussuf had finished and put away his
pipe, and was busy over one of the baskets of provisions, from which he
produced a cloth and knives and forks, with a bottle of wine and several
other necessaries, which his forethought had suggested; and in a short
time the travellers were enjoying a rough but most palatable _al fresco_
meal in the delicious evening, with the distant land glowing with light
of a glorious orange, and the deep blue sea dappled with orange and
gold.

"We have plenty of provisions, I suppose," said the professor.

"Yes, effendi, plenty," said Yussuf, who had been taking his portion
aside.

"Then pass what is left here to the skipper and his men."

Yussuf bowed gravely, and the men, who had been making an evening meal
of blackish bread and melons, were soon chattering away forward, eating
the remains of the meal and drinking a bottle of the Greek wine Lawrence
took them.

The tiller had been lashed so as to set the Greek skipper at liberty,
and the travellers were alone, while, wearied by his extra exertion,
Lawrence lay back, apparently fast asleep, when Yussuf approached the
professor and his companion, with his water-pipe which he was filling
with tobacco, and about which and with a light, he busied himself in the
most matter-of-fact manner.

But Yussuf was thinking of something else beside smoke, for he startled
the professor and made Mr Burne jump and drop his cigar, as he said in
a low voice:

"Your excellencies are well-armed, of course?"

"Armed?" exclaimed the professor.

Yussuf did not speak, but stooped to pick up the fallen cigar, which he
handed to its owner.

"Be calm, excellency," he said smiling, "and tell me."

The professor looked at him suspiciously; but there was that in the
man's countenance that disarmed him, and he said quietly: "We certainly
have plenty of arms."

"That is good," said Yussuf, with a flash of the eye.

"But our weapons are packed up with our luggage, and went on by the
steamer."

"That is bad," said Yussuf quietly.

"We never thought they would be necessary till we got ashore."

"Look here, my man," said Mr Burne; "speak out.  Are you suspicious of
these people?"

"My life has taught me to be suspicious, effendi," said Yussuf, lighting
his pipe, "particularly of the low-class Greeks.  They are not honest."

"But surely," began the professor.

"Be perfectly calm, effendi," said Yussuf, pointing shoreward, and
waving his hand as if telling the name of some place.  "I have nothing
certain against this Greek and his men; but we are out at sea and at
their mercy."

"But something has happened to make you speak like this," said Mr Burne
with a searching look.

"A trifle, effendi," replied the Muslim; "but a little cloud like that
yonder,"--pointing seaward now beyond the Greek sailors, so that the
travellers could see that they were watched by the skipper--"is
sometimes the sign of a coming storm."

"Then what have you seen?" said Mr Burne suspiciously.

"A trifle--almost nothing, effendi, only that the man there was out of
temper when he found that all your baggage had gone."

"Humph!" ejaculated Mr Burne.  "Then you think there is danger?" said
the professor.

"I do not say that," said Yussuf, pointing shoreward again, "but your
excellencies may as well learn your lessons at once.  We are commencing
our journey, and are now, as we generally shall be, at the mercy of men
who obey the laws when they feel the rod over their backs, but who, when
they cannot see the rod, laugh at them."

"What do you ask us to do, then?" said the professor quickly.

"Be always on guard, but never show it.  Be prepared for danger.  If
there is none, so much the better.  Life here is a little matter
compared to what I am told it is among you Franks, and it becomes every
man's duty to guard his life."

"But these Greek sailors?" said Mr Burne sharply.

"I do not trust them," replied Yussuf calmly.  "If we are the stronger
they will be our slaves.  If they feel that they are, our lives would
not be safe if they had the chance to rob us.  They believe your
excellencies to be rich and to have much gold."

"Look here, Yussuf," said Mr Burne uneasily, "our friend ashore gave
you a capital character."

"I have eaten salt with your excellencies, and my life is yours,"
replied Yussuf.

"Then what would you do now?"

"Be perfectly calm, effendi, and treat these men if you did not know
fear."

"And we have no arms," said Mr Burne uneasily.

"Can your excellency fight?" said Yussuf quietly.

"A law case--yes, with any man, but any other case of fighting--good
gracious me, no.  I have not fought since I had a black eye at school."

"But you can, effendi?" continued Yussuf, looking with admiration at the
professor's broad chest and long muscular arms.

"I daresay I can, if I am driven to it," replied the professor gravely;
and he involuntarily clenched a large, hard, bony hand.

"Yes," said Yussuf, with a grave smile of satisfaction.  "Your
excellency can fight, I see."

"But we are entirely without arms," repeated Mr Burne excitedly.

"Not quite," replied Yussuf calmly.  "Your excellency has a big stick;
the effendi here has hands and strength that would enable him to throw
an enemy into the sea, and I never go a journey without my pistol and a
knife."

"You have a pistol?" said Mr Burne eagerly.

"Be quite calm, excellency," said Yussuf, laughing as he smoked, and
bowing down as if something droll had been said.  "Yes, I have a pistol
of many barrels given to me by a Frankish effendi when we returned from
a journey through the land of Abraham, and then down to the stony city
in the desert--Petra, where the Arab sheiks are fierce and ready to rob
all who are not armed and strong."

"Where is it?" said the professor.

"Safe in my bosom, effendi, where my hand can touch it ere you blink an
eye.  So you see that we are not quite without arms.  But listen," he
continued; "this may be all a fancy of mine."

"Then you will do nothing?" exclaimed Mr Burne.

"Oh no, I do not say that, effendi.  We must be watchful.  Two must
sleep, and two must watch night or day.  The enemy must not come to the
gate and find it open ready for him to enter in."

"Those are the words of wisdom," said the professor gravely, and
Yussuf's eyes brightened and he bowed.

"This watchfulness," he said, "may keep the enemy away if there be one.
If there be none: well, we have taught ourselves a lesson that will not
be thrown away."

"Why, Yussuf, I am beginning to think you are a treasure!" exclaimed Mr
Burne.

Yussuf bowed, but he did not look pleased, for he had not warmed towards
the old lawyer in the slightest degree.  He had been met with distrust,
and he was reserved towards him who showed his doubt so openly.

"I thought it was but just, effendis, to warn you, and I thought it
better to say so now, while the young effendi is asleep, for fear he
might be alarmed."

"I am not asleep," said Lawrence turning his head.  "I have not been to
sleep."

"Then you have heard all that was said," exclaimed the professor.

"Every word, Mr Preston.  I could not help hearing," said Lawrence,
sitting up with his face flushed and eyes brightened.  "I did not know
till just now that I was not expected to hear."

"Humph, and do you feel alarmed?" said the old lawyer.

"I don't think I do, sir," replied the lad calmly.  "Perhaps I should
if--if there should be a fight."

"I do not think there will be," said the professor quietly.  "Yussuf
here has warned us, and forewarned is forearmed."

"Even if we have no pistols, eh?" said Mr Burne laughing, but rather
acidly.  "Humph, here comes the skipper."

The Greek came aft smiling and unlashed the tiller, altering their
course a little, so that as the evening breeze freshened they seemed
literally to skim along the surface of the sea.



CHAPTER TEN.

A NIGHT OF HORRORS.

The night came, with the stars seeming to blaze in the clear atmosphere.
The skipper had given up the helm to one of his men, and joined the
others forward to lie down among the baskets and sleep, as it seemed,
while aft, at the professor's request, Mr Burne and Lawrence lay down
to sleep, leaving the others to watch.

The night grew darker, and the water beat and rippled beneath the bows,
all else being wonderfully still as the boat glided on.

Yussuf lit his water-pipe, and the professor a cigar, to begin
conversing in a low tone, but always watchful of the slightest movement
of the men.

A couple of hours had glided away, and then, after being apparently fast
asleep, the skipper rose and came aft to speak eagerly to Yussuf, who
heard him out, and then turned to the professor.

"The captain says that there is no danger of wreck or storm; that he and
his men will watch over you as if you were given over to their safe
keeping, and all will be well."

"Tell the captain that I prefer to sit up and watch the sea and sky,"
replied the professor.  "When I am tired I will lie down."

The skipper nodded and smiled, and went forward again, while, after some
minutes' silence, the professor said softly:

"You are quite right to be doubtful, Yussuf, I mistrust that man."

"Yes," replied Yussuf in the same tone, "the Greek dog will bite the
hand which fed him if he has a chance, but that chance, effendi, he must
not have."

The hours glided on, and some time, perhaps soon after midnight, the
skipper rose again from where he had lain apparently asleep, but really
watching the speakers attentively, and coming aft this time with one of
his men, the sailor at the helm was changed, and the other went forward
to throw himself down as if to sleep.

"Will not the effendi lie down and take his rest now?" said the skipper
to Yussuf.  "The day will not be very long before it comes, and then it
is no longer time to sleep."

Yussuf quietly repeated the man's words to the professor, who replied
coldly:

"Tell the Greek captain that he is paid to convey us to our journey's
end, and that it is not for him to presume to interfere as to the way in
which we pass our time.  Tell him we know the night from the day."

Yussuf interpreted the words, and the Greek smiled and replied in the
most humble manner that perhaps the English excellency did not know how
bad it was for strangers to expose themselves to the night air.  That he
was anxious about them, and wished them to go into the little cabin to
be safe.

"Tell him to mind his own business," said the professor shortly, and
this being interpreted the man slunk forward, and the professor said
softly:

"There is no doubt about it, Yussuf; the man is a scoundrel and has bad
intentions."

"He is a pig," said the Muslim in a low voice full of contempt; "but he
and his men will be afraid to show their teeth to your excellencies if
we are watchful and take care."

Towards morning the man came aft again, but he did not speak, and just
at sunrise Lawrence awoke to come hurriedly out of the cabin where Mr
Burne was still sleeping.

"I thought you would have called us," he said; "I thought we were to
watch."

"So you are," said the professor smiling.  "How have you slept?"

"Oh, deliciously--all the night.  I never do at home, but lie awake for
hours."

"Even in a comfortable bed!"

"Even in a comfortable bed," replied Lawrence.  "But you must be very
tired.  I'll call Mr Burne now."

"No, let him lie.  He is a bit of an invalid too.  Suppose you go and
have a sleep now, Yussuf; my friend here and I will watch."

The Turk smiled.

"Your servant once went without sleep for six nights in a time of
danger.  He slept a little upon his horse sometimes.  One night without
sleep!  What is it?  A nothing.  No, your excellency must not ask me to
sleep now.  A short time and we shall be ashore, and away from these
Greek dogs, who think we are without arms; then thy servant will lie
down and sleep for hours.  Last night, to-night I shall not sleep."

The bright morning, the glancing sea, and the soft breeze seemed to take
away all the fancies and suspicions of the night.  The shore was in
sight--the mainland or one of the beautiful Grecian isles, and to make
matters more pleasant still Mr Burne was in the most amiable of
tempers.

"I must have been out of order when we were crossing the Channel," he
said smiling.  "I thought it was sea-sickness, but it could not have
been, for I am as well as can be out here in this little boat."

The professor was almost annoyed with himself for his suspicions about
the Greek and his men, for an easier, happier-looking set it would have
been impossible to find.  They smiled and showed their teeth, as they
lounged in the front of the boat or took their turn at the helm, and
then picked out some sunny spot where the tall sails cast no shade and
slept hour after hour.  When they were not smiling or sleeping, they
were eating melon, bread, grapes or olives, or watching like dogs to see
if any food was going to be given them by the travellers.

The sail was glorious, and at first great way was made, but in the
course of the afternoon the wind dropped, and the little vessel hardly
moved through the water.

"This is vexatious," the professor said.  "I am anxious to get to our
journey's end."

"Don't say that," said Lawrence, almost reproachfully; "one seems to be
so happy, and everything is so delightful out here in the sunshine.  I
should like to go sailing on like this for ever."

"If we had some cushions," put in Mr Burne, who had overheard his
remark.  "Well, it doesn't matter to a few days, one way or the other,
Preston," he continued; "we are very comfortable considering, my back's
better, and this is easy travelling, so never mind about Yussuf's
suspicions.  All nonsense."

That day glided away, the brilliant night came, and with it the nervous
feeling of all being not as it should be.

Nothing more had been said to Mr Burne till quite evening, but then the
professor felt it to be his duty to speak of the suspicion, and did so;
but the old lawyer laughed.

"What nonsense, Preston!" he said; "why, the man and his crew are like
so many good-tempered gypsy boys.  No, sir, I am not going to be scared
because the night is coming on.  Poor fellows, they are honest enough.
That sour Turk--I don't like the fellow--has been filling our heads with
nonsense to make himself seem more important.  It's all right."

"I hope it is," said the professor to himself, and in due course he lay
down, but not to sleep.

During the day, by a quiet understanding, he and Yussuf had taken it in
turns to snatch an hour's repose, with the result that they were far
better prepared to encounter the night than might have been supposed.

"We will lie down, excellency," Yussuf took the opportunity of
whispering; "but one of us must not sleep."

After a time the old lawyer, who had been leaning back watching the
stars from far above till they seemed to dip down in the transparent
sea, yawned aloud, and then began to talk in an unknown tongue, using a
strange guttural language which for the most part consisted of a
repetition, at regular intervals, of the word "_Snorruk_," and this had
a wonderful effect upon his companions, who had felt listless and drowsy
after the hot day; but the coolness of the night and the interesting
nature of Mr Burne's discourse effectually banished sleep, and hence it
was that, when the skipper and a couple of his men came stealing aft to
apparently change the steersman, the professor sat up, and Lawrence saw
that Yussuf was wide awake and on the _qui vive_.

This occurred three times, and then the rosy morning lit up the tops of
the distant mountains, and made the sea flash as if it were all so much
molten topaz.

A pleasant listless day followed, and another and another, during which
the travellers slept in turn, and watched the various islands seem to
rise out of the sea, grow larger, and then, after they were passed, sink
down again into the soft blue water.

It was a delicious dreamy time, the only drawbacks being the suspicions
of the boatmen, and the cramped nature of the space at disposal.

They sailed on and on now, with the water surging beneath their bows and
the little vessel careening over in the brilliant sunshine; but they
were still far from their destination, and now the question had arisen
whether it would not be wise to put in at the principal port of Cyprus,
which they were now nearing, to obtain more provisions, as the wind was
so light that the prospect of their reaching Ansina that night was very
doubtful.

The evening had come on, with the sun going down in the midst of a
peculiar bank of clouds that would have looked threatening to
experienced eyes; but to the travellers it was one scene of glory, the
edges of the vapours being of a glowing orange, while the sky and sea
were gorgeous with tints that were almost painful in their dazzling
sheen.  There was not a breath of wind, not a sound upon the smooth sea.
The sails hung motionless, and the heat was as oppressive as if those
on board were facing some mighty furnace.

"Very, very grand!" said Mr Burne at last, after he had sat with the
others for some time silently watching the glorious sight; "but to my
mind there's too much of it.  I should like to have it spread over
months, a little bit every night, not like this, all at once."

"Oh, Mr Burne!" cried Lawrence reproachfully.

"I once saw a pantomime many years ago, when I took some of my sister's
children to a box I was foolish enough to pay for.  This reminds me of
one of the scenes, only there are no sham fairies and stupid people
bobbing about and standing on one leg.  Just when everything was at the
brightest a great dark curtain came down, and it was all over, and it
seems to be coming here, only it's coming up instead of coming down.
Heigho--ha--hum! how sleepy I am!"

He lay down as he spoke close under the low bulwark, and as he did so
Lawrence glanced forward and saw that the gorgeous sunset had no charms
for the sailors, for they were lying among the baskets fast asleep,
their faces upon their arms, while, upon looking aft, the man at the
helm was crouched up all of a heap sleeping heavily.

"It is very beautiful," said the professor; "but I daresay some of our
English sunsets are nearly as bright, only we do not notice them, being
either shut up or too busy to look."

"Doesn't this curious stuffy feeling of heat make you feel drowsy, Mr
Preston?" said Lawrence, after a few minutes' silence, "or do I feel it
because I am weak with being ill so long?"

"My dear boy," replied the professor laughing, "at the present moment I
feel as if all my bones had been dissolved into so much gristle.  It is
the heat, my lad, the heat."

Lawrence lay back upon the deck with his head resting upon a pillow
formed out of a doubled-up coat.  He had tried going below, but the
little cabin was suffocating.  It was as if the bulkheads and deck had
imbibed the sun's heat all day and were now slowly giving it out.  To
sleep there would have been impossible, and he had returned on deck
bathed in perspiration to try and get a breath of air.

As he lay there he could see the old lawyer sleeping heavily, the
professor with his head resting upon his hand, and his face glorified by
the reflection from sea and sky, and their guide Yussuf seated
cross-legged smoking placidly at his water-pipe, his dark eyes seeming
to glow like hot coals.

Beyond him lay the Greek and his men upon their faces, motionless as the
man at the helm, and then all at once the muttering bubbling noise made
by Yussuf's pipe seemed to be coming from the old lawyer's parted lips,
and the pipe, instead of justifying its name of "hubble-bubble," kept on
saying _snorruk_--_snorruk_, after the fashion of Mr Burne.  Finally,
there was nothing--nothing at all but sleep, deep, heavy, satisfying
sleep that might have lasted one hour, two hours, any length of time.
It seemed as if there was no dreaming, till all at once Lawrence
imagined that the professor was bitterly angry with him for getting
better that he jumped up and kicked him violently, and that then, as he
tried to rise, he stamped upon him, and the stamp made a loud report.
He was awake.

Awake, but in a dazed, puzzled state, for all was pitchy dark, and as he
jumped up he was knocked down again, and would have gone over the side
had he not struck against and clung to one of the ropes which supported
the mast.

About him a terrible struggle was going on; there was heavy, hoarse
breathing; men were trampling here and there with falls and struggles
upon the scrap of a deck.

Then Lawrence turned cold, for there was a yell and a splash, followed
directly after by a blinding flash of light and a loud report.

The struggle went on for a few moments longer, seemed to cease, and a
voice that he recognised said some words hastily in Greek, which were
replied to in hoarse panting tones.

Then the professor's welcome voice arose out of the pitchy darkness.

"Lawrence!  Lawrence! where are you?"

Before an answer could be given there was the dull thud of a heavy blow,
and the professor roared more than spoke the one word:

"Coward!"

The struggle was resumed for a moment or two, while the Greek skipper
yelled out some order; but before it could be executed there came from
out of the darkness a sharp hiss and a loud roar.  Lawrence felt himself
drenched by what seemed to be a cutting tempest of rain, and then it was
as if some huge elastic mass had struck the boat, capsizing it in an
instant.  The lad felt that he was beneath the surface of the water, the
sudden plunge clearing his faculties and making him strike for the
surface.

As he rose he had touched a rope, which he caught at with the
instinctive clutch of a drowning man, and found that it was attached to
something which enabled him to keep his head above the water, but how it
was or what it all meant he could not comprehend in the midst of the
deafening rushing noise of the wind and the beating stinging blows of
the surf that was flying over him.

All at once from out of the darkness a hand seemed to be stretched forth
and to grasp him by the collar of the light Norfolk jacket he wore.

In spite of himself he uttered a cry of horror, but the grasp was not
inimical, for he felt that he was drawn up on to what seemed to be a
heaving piece of woodwork, and then a strong arm was passed round him, a
man's breast pressed him down, and the rush and roar and confusion
increased.

There were times when he could scarcely breathe, the wind and spray
stifling him till he could turn by an effort a little aside.  Then for
long periods together, as they seemed, they were under water, as some
wave leaped over them.  In fact, after a few such experiences he was
half insensible, and every struggle towards recovery was met by a new
attack.

How long it lasted the lad never knew; all he could comprehend was that
he was floating upon something in the midst of a wildly tempestuous sea,
and that the wind and spray seemed to have combined to tear him from
where his feeble efforts were aided by a strong man's arm.

Once or twice he fancied he heard a shout, but he could not be sure, and
he could make no effort to understand his position, for the storm that
had stricken the boat so suddenly robbed him more and more of the power
to move.

It was like another waking from sleep, to feel that his head was being
raised a little more from where it drooped, and someone pressed a pair
of lips to his ear and spoke.

He could not answer, he could not even move, for though the voice was
familiar, its import did not reach his brain, and he lay perfectly inert
till it seemed as if the sea and wind were not beating so hard upon his
face, and that he could breathe more easily.

Then it was not so dark, for the stars were coming out, and he found
himself gazing at a great black veil that was being drawn over the
heavens.

The next thing he heard was a voice, a familiar voice, speaking, and
another which he recognised, and which came from close by, answered, but
what was said he could not tell.

There was another confused half-dreamy time, and then it was
comparatively light.  The spray had ceased to beat, and the mass of wood
upon which he had been dragged was rising and falling in a regular
drowsy rocking fashion, while now he felt bitterly cold.

"I cannot get to you, Yussuf," said the familiar voice again.  "If I
attempt to move he will slip off into the water.  Safe?"

"He is alive!" came in a low deep voice from close by Lawrence's ear,
and then there was a fierce puff of wind again, and with it the dreamy
sensation once more.



CHAPTER ELEVEN.

CAST ASHORE.

When Lawrence came to himself again there was more vigour in his brain,
and he was conscious that he was on the side of the boat held fast by
Yussuf.  The wind was blowing fiercely, and had seized hold of a portion
of a half-submerged sail which had filled out into a half sphere, and
they were going swiftly through the water.

The stars were shining brightly; there was no more spray, and as he
recovered himself he could see, right at the far end of the boat, the
dimly defined head and shoulders of the professor, whom he knew by his
great beard, and he seemed to be supporting Mr Burne.

Between them, seated high and clear of the water, were the Greek skipper
and a couple of his men, holding on tightly in a bent position.

There was deep silence now, save the ripple made by the boat in going
through the water, which it did at a fairly rapid rate, seeing how it
was submerged; but the wind having filled the portion of the sail,
seemed to be raising it more and more from where it lay in the water,
and as a natural consequence the more surface was raised and filled, the
more rapidly the other loose portion was dragged up, distended, and drew
the boat along.

For a full hour no one spoke.  The travellers were divided by the Greek
and his men, who held the post of vantage, and there was a growing
feeling in every breast that if any attempt were made to get into a
better position, the enemy would be roused to action, and perhaps thrust
them from their precarious hold into the sea.

By degrees Lawrence began to get a clear understanding of what had
happened, and as far as he could make out the suspicions of Yussuf had
been quite correct.  The Greek and his men, for purposes of robbery, had
made an attack during the night when all were asleep, and in the midst
of the struggle one of the terrible squalls, whose threatenings they had
not read on the previous evening, had suddenly struck and capsized the
boat, to which they were now desperately clinging for life.

Lawrence felt too much numbed to speak to Yussuf, or even to shout to
the other end of the boat, where the professor was clinging, and his
companion was too intent upon holding him in his position to care to
make any remarks.

The breeze blew very coldly, and the lad knew that if it increased to
any great extent, and the waves rose, they must all be swept off; but
the wind showed more disposition to lull than increase, the sail napping
and sinking once, but only to fill again and bear them steadily on.  For
the squall had exhausted its violence; the intense heat had passed, and
the sea rapidly grew more placid as they were borne along.

There was something strange and terrible, and sufficient to appal a
heart stronger than that of a boy who had suffered from a long and
severe illness.  The darkness seemed to float as it were in a thick
transparent body upon the surface of the sea, while far above the stars
shone out clearly and spangled the sky with points of gold.

Where were they being borne?  What was to be the end of it all?  Were
they to cling there for an hour--two hours, and then slip off into the
sea?

It was very terrible, and as he grew cold, a strange sensation of
reckless despair began to oppress Lawrence, mingled with a feeling that
perhaps after all it would be better to let go and slide off the boat so
as to arrive at the end.

These despondent thoughts were ended upon the instant by a movement made
by one of the Greeks who were crouching in the middle of the boat.

He seemed to be quitting his position slowly and to be creeping towards
where Yussuf was clinging.

At that moment the Turk heaved himself up; there was a quick movement of
his arm; and Lawrence clung spasmodically to the boat, for he felt
himself slipping.

In his agony he did not hear the click made by the pistol the guide had
snatched out and held before him; neither could he understand the Turk's
words, but they were full of menace and evidently embodied a threat.

The Greek uttered an angry snarl and snatched a knife from his waist, as
he crept on and said something, to which Yussuf replied by drawing
trigger.

The result was a click, and the Greek laughed and came on; but just as
he was nearly within striking distance Yussuf drew trigger again, and
this time there was the sharp flash and report of the pistol, while for
a moment the smoke hid the man from view, but a cry of agony and fear
was heard.

The breeze cleared the smoke away directly, and revealed in the dim
starlight the form of the Greek lying back and one of his companions
crawling to his side.

The Turk uttered a few words full of warning, and the second Greek
paused to speak in a low pleading tone, to which Yussuf responded by
lowering his arm and watching his enemies while one helped the other
back to his place where he had clung.

"Is he much hurt?" came from the other end of the boat.

"I cannot say, excellency," was Yussuf's reply in English.  But directly
after he roared out a few words in Greek, with the pistol pointed; for
as soon as the wounded man was crouching in the central part of the boat
he said something fiercely, and his two followers began to creep towards
where the professor and the old lawyer clung.

It was plain enough to all what Yussuf had shouted, with pistol aimed,
for the two Greek sailors cowered down as if seeking to shelter
themselves behind their wounded skipper, and for a space no one moved or
spoke.

Yussuf was the next to break the silence with a few words of warning
which made the Greeks creep back to their old position, and then what
seemed to be a terrible space of time ensued in the darkness that grew
colder and colder, and where it seemed to be vain to look around for
help.  No one moved or spoke, but all were animated by the same intense
longing, and that was for the light of day.

Morning seemed as if it would never come.  Right in front there was a
great black cloud touching the sea and rising high; but though the wind
set towards the cloud, which grew higher and broader, they knew that at
any time the breeze might change to a furious squall, coming from where
that cloud was gathering; and when it came it would be to find them
numbed and cold, and unable to resist its violence and the beating
waves.

The helpless drowsy sensation was attacking Lawrence again, and he would
have slipped back into the sea but for the strong arm about him.  The
dimly-seen figures grew unreal and as if part of a dream, and he was
falling more and more into a state of unconsciousness, when, as if by
magic, there was a patch of light in the sky before them, to right of
the great cloud; there was a dull murmur ahead; then more light, and, as
if by some rapid scenic effect, the stars paled, the sky grew grey, then
pink, red, glowing orange, and it was morning.

Yussuf uttered a low cry of joy, for the dark cloud ahead of them was a
high mountainous land, whose topmost points were beginning to blush with
the first touches of the sun that was rising directly behind.

"We are safe, excellencies!" cried the guide.  "In an hour this wind
will carry us to the shore."

"The boy!" cried the professor in a low voice that told of exhaustion.

"He is here and safe," was the reply.  "It is day once more, and we can
perhaps better our position."

The words were hopeful and had a stimulating effect, but nothing could
be done.  The Greeks could not be trusted, even under the influence of
threats, to go to the help of the professor; and Yussuf dared not quit
his own charge, for Lawrence was too much exhausted to be left alone; so
there was but the one hope--to wait and remain clinging to the side of
the boat until the breeze carried them ashore.

As the sun rose warm and bright it brought with it hope and sent a glow
through the chilled forms of all, but the morning light made nothing
else clear.  They were just as they had made themselves out to be in the
darkness.

The sail had been filled now till it was of a goodly size, and they were
borne more swiftly still towards what seemed to be a barren rocky coast;
but the same dread was in the heart of each of the travellers, and that
was lest when the sun rose higher the power of the wind should fail,
and, slight as the currents were in that part of the world, they might
be swept past the land unseen.

The dread was needless, for at the end of about a couple of hours of the
most intense anxiety the boat was blown close in to the beach, and
struck with a bump that changed her position, shaking Yussuf and his
companion from their hold.

But it was into the shallow transparent water, and, gaining his feet,
Yussuf tried to raise Lawrence on to his shoulders; but he was so stiff
and cramped that he could only hold the lad beneath his arm and wade
with him ashore.



CHAPTER TWELVE.

A WARM LAND WELCOME.

The distance was only some forty yards, and Yussuf was quite half-way
there when he was met by the professor, who came staggering down to his
aid, and between them they carried Lawrence the rest of the way, to lay
him beside Mr Burne in the full sunlight and upon the soft warm sand.

The three Greeks were already ashore selecting a spot a good hundred
yards away, and they could be seen to be stripping the clothes from
their wounded captain, and then one of them appeared to be binding a
cloth round his leg, showing where Yussuf's bullet had taken effect.

By way of precaution Yussuf's first act was to take out his pistol, and
swing it about to get rid of all the water possible before uncharging
it, and laying it with its cartridges in the sun to dry, in the hope
that some of them might prove to be uninjured, the water not having been
able to penetrate to the powder, though it was extremely doubtful.

His next act was to take out his pipe from a pocket in his loose robe,
and place that with his bag of tobacco and little tinder-box and matches
also in the sun, which was rapidly gaining power, all of which being
done he proceeded coolly enough to slip off his garments, to wring them
and spread them upon the glowing sand.

Meanwhile the professor was dividing himself between Lawrence and the
lawyer, then lying in the warm sunshine, whose influence rapidly made
itself felt, and seemed to carry strength as well as a pleasant glow.

"Well, Lawrence," said the professor anxiously, "how do you feel?"

"Not quite so cold," was the reply, "but very stiff and hungry."

"Hah!" ejaculated the professor, "then you are not very bad.  Can you
follow Yussuf's example?"

Lawrence hesitated.

"Take my advice, my lad.  Take off and wring your clothes as well as you
can, and then, in spite of being soaked with the sea-water, go down and
have a quick plunge, and then walk or run about till you are dry."

The advice seemed so droll, that now the danger was past the lad
laughed, but he saw that Yussuf was doing precisely what the professor
advised, and, weakly and shivering a good deal, he did the same.

Freed by the evident lack of anything to apprehend about the lad for the
present, the professor turned to Mr Burne, whom he had been helping for
some hours to cling to the boat, and had sustained with a few whispered
words of encouragement in his feeblest moments.

The old man was lying in the sunshine just as he had sunk down upon his
back, apparently too much exhausted to move, but as the professor went
down on one knee by his side he opened his eyes.

"Not dead yet, Preston," he said smiling.  "I say, don't laugh at me."

"Laugh at you, my dear sir?"

"For being such an old goose as to come upon such a journey.  Oh, my
back!"

"Come, come, it was an accident."

"Accident, eh?  I say, we'll prosecute those murdering thieves of Greeks
for this."

"One of them has met his punishment already," said the professor, "and
Yussuf has severely wounded another."

"Yes.  I was pretty well done then, but I saw him shoot that scoundrel.
I believe the heathen dog was going to shove us off."

"There is no doubt about that," said the professor.

"But Yussuf? don't you think he was in league with the murderous
rascals?"

"Yussuf?  My dear sir!"

"Humph!  No!  He couldn't have been, could he, or he wouldn't have
fought for us as he did at first, and then shot that scoundrel yonder?
I hope his bandage will come off, and he'll bleed to death."

"No, you do not," said the professor.

"Oh, yes, I do--a dog!"

"No, you do not; and as to Yussuf--well, I need not defend him."

"Well, I suppose not.  Boy seems to be all right, don't he?"

"Yes, I think so.  This warm sunshine is a blessing."

"Hah, yes, but I'm so stiff and sore I cannot move.  Preston, my dear
boy, would you mind putting your hand into my pocket and taking out my
snuff-box.  I suppose it's all paste, but a bit of that would be, like
your sunshine, a blessing.  It's all very well, but I'd rather have a
fire, a towel, a warm bath, and some dry clothes.  Hah, yes!  Thank you.
Now for some paste."

He thrust the little box in and out among the dry sand till the moisture
was all gone, and doing this dried and warmed his hands as well before
he proceeded to open the lid, when he uttered a cry of satisfaction.

"Bravo, Preston!  Dry as dust.  Have a pinch, my dear sir?"

"Thanks.  No.  I am drying a cigar here for my refreshment, in the hot
sand.  I daresay my matches are all right in their metal box."

"Just as you like.  Smoking is all very well, but nothing like a pinch."

"I am most anxious about the boy," said the professor.

"Must teach him to take snuff.  Well, where are we?  Is this a desolate
island, and are we going to be so many Robinson Crusoes for the rest of
our days?"

"Desolate enough just here," replied the professor; "but it must be
inhabited.  It strikes me that we have reached Cyprus."

"Then, my dear fellow, just look about, or shout, or do something to
make the inhabitants bring me a bottle of Cyprus wine.  Hah! a pinch of
snuff is a blessing, and, bless me, how wet my handkerchief is!" he
cried, as he struggled to his feet and took out and wrung the article in
question before making the rocks echo with a tremendous blow.

"How do you feel?" said the professor.

"Bad, sir; but I'm not going to grumble till we get all right again.  I
must try and walk about to get some warmth into me.  How beautiful and
warm this sand is!  Hah!"

He seemed to revel in the beautiful dry sand of the shore, which, with
the sunshine, sent a glow into the perishing limbs of all, and to such
an extent that in about an hour the sufferers were not so very much the
worse for their adventure.  The professor and Mr Burne had lit cigars;
Yussuf was enjoying his pipe; and Lawrence alone was without anything to
soothe his hunger.

The wounded Greek lay at a distance where his companions had left him.
The professor had been to him with Lawrence, and seen to his injury, the
others paying no heed, and the injured man himself only looking sulky,
and as if he would like to use his knife, even though he was being
tended by a man who knew something of what was necessary to be done.

He was left then, and the professor and Lawrence joined Mr Burne, who
was very cheerful though evidently in pain.

"I say," he said, "those fellows had planned that attack."

"Decidedly," said the professor.  "I feared it, though I did not say
anything more to you."

"Then it was very ungentlemanly of you, sir," cried the old lawyer
testily.  "Lucky for you I was awake, sir, or we should all have been
killed in our sleep."

"I thought you were fast asleep, as, I am ashamed to say, I was."

"Oh, you own you were, professor."

"Fast."

"Then I'll own I was too.  It seems, then, that Yussuf was on the watch
and met them."

"Exactly so, and saved our lives."

"Well, I don't know about that, but he certainly kept the boy from
drowning during the night, for I couldn't stir to help him.  I don't
dislike that fellow half so much as I did; but I wish to goodness he
could do as those Turks and Persians did in the _Arabian Nights_."

"What's that?" said the professor.

"Conjure a breakfast up for that poor boy."

"It strikes me," said the professor, who was watching where Yussuf had
posted himself on the edge of the sea, "that that is the very thing he
is about to do."

"Eh? what do you mean?"

"Oh, I say, Mr Preston, don't talk about food if there is none," cried
Lawrence, "for I am so hungry."

"I mean this," said the professor, "that the two Greeks down there are
evidently trying to get something out of the boat, and if they find
anything to eat, Yussuf is there with his loaded pistol, and he will
certainly have a share."

In effect the two sailors had stripped, and were busy in the shallow
water doing something, and in a short time they had contrived to thrust
the boat out, and, by using the masts as levers, completely turned her
round, so that her deck was parallel with the shore.

The men were evidently working hard, and in a short time they had got
the vessel so closely in that they were able to lower the sails, or
rather run them down to the foot of each mast, with the result that, by
the help of hard work with a spar they partly raised the side of the
boat that was submerged, its natural inclination to resume its normal
position aiding them; and at last, after several attempts, they
succeeded in getting at one of the baskets of provisions that had
fortunately not been washed away.

As they dragged this out and waded ashore, they were for making off in
the direction of the spot where their wounded skipper lay, but a few
sharp orders from Yussuf stopped them.

They were not disposed to yield up their prize peaceably, for each man's
hand went to his knife, and the professor ran down to Yussufs help.

But there was no need.  The Turk went close up to them, pistol in hand,
and the men stooped and lifted the basket, carrying it between them
sulkily to where Mr Burne and Lawrence were breathlessly watching the
proceedings.

The water streamed and dripped from the basket as they bore it over the
sands, and plumped it down, scowling fiercely, where they were told to
stop.  Then turning, they were going off, but the professor bade them
stay.

They did not understand his words, but their tone was sufficient
command; besides there was Yussufs pistol, which acted like a magician's
wand in ensuring obedience.

"Tell the scoundrels that we will behave better to them than they have
to us, Yussuf," said the professor; and he took out from the dripping
basket a great sausage, a bottle of wine, and one of the tins of biscuit
that were within.

"Am I to give them this food, effendi?" said Yussuf calmly.  "You will
get no gratitude, and the dogs will murder us if they get a chance."

"Yes; give it to them," replied the professor.  "Coals of fire upon
their head, O follower of Mahomet.  There, bid them eat.  We may want to
make them work for us."

Yussuf bowed, and handed the food and wine to the two Greeks, who took
what was given them without a word, and went to join their companion.



CHAPTER THIRTEEN.

HOW TO BALE A BOAT.

"Hah!" ejaculated Mr Burne, after they had made a hearty meal, seated
upon the warm sands.  "I don't know that I like my biscuit sopped, and
there was more salt than I cared for, but really I don't feel as if I
had done so very badly.  Another taste of that wine, Preston.  Hah!
well, we might have been worse off."

This was the general opinion, for matters looked better now, and a
discussion arose as to what they were to do next; whether they were to
travel along the coast till they came to some village, or, as Yussuf
suggested, try to get the boat baled out and righted, and once more make
for Ansina.

Yussuf declared that they were undoubtedly on the western coast of
Cyprus, but he could not tell them how far they might have to journey,
and it would be terrible work for Lawrence, who was too weak to walk
far, so the Muslim's suggestion was received; and its wisdom was
endorsed by the action of the Greeks, who had carried their skipper down
to the boat and seated him upon the sands.

"We are three strong men against two now," Yussuf had said, "for we will
not count the wounded master, or the young effendi here.  The men shall
empty the boat of water, and they shall take us across to the coast."

"But suppose another storm should come?" said Mr Burne.

"If another storm should come we should meet it like men, effendi," said
the Turk gravely.  "That white squall last night saved our lives, for I
was mastered."

"And so was I," said the professor.  "You are right, Yussuf; but we must
not let ourselves be surprised again.  I had no business to sleep."

"We should not have been surprised if yon Greek dog had not struck me
down when he was pretending to be asleep by the helm.  But see, effendi,
he is ordering them to try and empty the boat.  Let us go down and
help."

The remains of the food were placed in the basket, which was carried
down and left in the sun to dry, not far from where the Greek skipper
was seated, holding his wounded leg.

The tide there was very slight, but still it was falling, and this
helped them in their plans.

The two Greeks were hard at work with the spar, using it as a lever; and
twice over they obtained so good a purchase that they raised the
submerged side just above the water, but it slipped back directly.

The professor did not hesitate, but said a few words to Yussuf, who
handed his loaded pistol to Lawrence, tucked up his garment, and waded
into the water at once along with Mr Preston.

"Humph! just as they were getting so nice and dry," said Mr Burne.
"Well, when one is in Cyprus, one must act like a Cypriote, eh,
Lawrence, my lad?  I say, fancy one of my clients seeing me doing this."

He took off his coat, and rolled up his shirt-sleeves, nodding
laughingly at Lawrence.

"Look here, my boy," he said, "if that Greek rascal there moves, just
you go up and shoot him somewhere.  Don't kill him, but we cannot stand
any of his nonsense now."

The two Greek sailors stared as the three travellers came wading to
them, and seemed disposed to leave off their task; but Yussuf gave them
their orders direct from Mr Preston, who made them get out some pieces
of board and cut loose a couple of spars.

The result of this was that one of the long spars was securely lashed by
their aid to the top of the principal mast which acted as a lever, when
all took hold of the spar and pushed upwards.  By this means the side of
the boat was raised a foot or so, and could not sink back, for the free
end of the spar rested on the sand.  Then another foot was gained, the
end of the spar being dragged along, and so on and on, till from being
where it was lashed to the top of the mast, quite an obtuse angle of the
widest, it was by degrees worked into a right angle, and by that time
the submerged bulwark was quite out of the water, and the keel touched
the bottom and kept them from moving the boat any farther.

The next thing to be done was to bale out the enormous quantity of water
within, and there was no bucket or anything of the kind; but the
professor was equal to the occasion.  There was a small box in the big
provision basket and the biscuit tin.  These were emptied at once, and
the two sailors set to work baling, while, as soon as it was possible,
an attempt was made to get something serviceable out of the little
cabin.

The search was vain, but just then one of the sailors took out his
knife, left the biscuit tin with which he was baling, and going forward
thrust down his knife-armed hand, and cut free a good-sized cask which
was lashed there for the purpose of holding water.

This floated up directly, and when the man had got so far, he stood
holding on and looking at it.

Yussuf had seized the biscuit tin, and was baling so as to lose no time,
but the professor waded to the sailor, tossed the cask over, and
following it, dragged it out on to the sandy shore, where the sea-water
with which it was now filled ran gurgling out of the big bung-hole.

While it was emptying the professor walked some little distance to where
a few pieces of rock were lying, and securing one weighing about half a
hundredweight, he brought it back, set the cask up, and dashed in its
head.

This made a baling implement of wonderful power, as soon as it was
floated back and lifted into the boat.  Certainly it took two men to use
it, but the professor called to Yussuf to give the baling tin back to
the Greek, and come to his side, and then Christian and Muslim set to
work, stripping to it and displaying energy that made the Greeks work
the harder in spite of the burning sun.  For seizing the cask, as he
stood waist-deep, the professor depressed and sank it, and as soon as it
was full, he and Yussuf raised it between them till the edge was against
the low side of the boat, and then they tilted it, sending its contents
into the sea.

It was slow and terribly laborious work, but at the end of an hour the
amount they had discharged was something tremendous, and after a rest
for refreshment, the baling went on till, towards evening, the felucca
was afloat once more, and riding to a little anchor cast out upon the
shore.

There was still a great deal more water in her, but everyone was wearied
out, and the professor gave the word for a cessation of labour, when
some more provision was secured, with wine, and fairly distributed, when
the Greeks encamped by their skipper, and the travellers went up close
to the rocks, where a little thread of delicious fresh water trickled
down and lost itself in the sand.

This was a treasure to the travellers, and at the professor's desire
Yussuf filled the biscuit tin, and took it to the Greeks, who, however,
only laughed and said they preferred the wine.

The deliriously warm evening was spent in drying the wet garments in the
heated sand, and in resting.  The professor, who seemed a good deal
fagged by his exertions, would hardly hear of sleeping, but was
exceedingly anxious about Lawrence, who, however, seemed to be none the
worse for the past night's exposure, the warmth of the day and the rest
he had had having recouped him to a wonderful extent.  Mr Burne, too,
though he had worked very hard, declared that he never felt better, and
after smoking a cigar, which he took as a sandwich between two layers of
snuff, preparations were made for the night, it being decided to lie
down early and rise at daybreak, when a couple more hours' work would,
it was considered, make the felucca in a condition to sail at any time.

The professor insisted upon Yussuf lying down at once to get the first
rest, so as to be roused up towards midnight to take the watch.

He consented rather unwillingly, and then the point had to be settled
who should have the pistol and take the first watch.

The professor wished to commence, but Mr Burne was so indignant and
insisted so sternly that the pistol was handed to him, after Yussuf had
been asleep for about a couple of hours, and then Mr Preston and
Lawrence sought their sandy couches, and lay for a little while
listening to the soft murmur of the sea, and watching the brilliant
stars in the dark sky and in the purply black water, while with regular
and slow beat, like a sentry, Mr Burne walked up and down, pistol in
hand.

Lawrence lay awake long enough to hear the professor's deep breathing,
and his muttering of something once or twice.  Then he lay gazing at the
old lawyer, thinking how comical it was, and what a change from Guilford
Street in busy London, till it all seemed to be dim and strange and
dreamlike.

Then it really was dreamlike, for, though the old lawyer was still
marching up and down before Lawrence's mental vision, it seemed to him
that he had swollen out to ten times his natural size, and that he was
not walking to and fro between him and the sea, but in front of the
railings in Bloomsbury, and that, to prevent his making a noise and
disturbing the sleepers, he had wound list all about his boots, which
now made not a sound upon the pavement.

To and fro, to and fro he seemed to go, till his head swelled and
swelled and no longer appeared to be a head, but a great rough
grenadier's cap, and it was no longer Mr Burne, but one of the sentries
in front of the British Museum, who marched, and marched, and marched,
till he marched right out of sight, and all was blank as a deep, deep
sleep is sometimes, from which the lad started into wakefulness just
before dawn, upon hearing the professor say loudly:

"Eh?  What?  Is it time?"



CHAPTER FOURTEEN.

HOW MR. BURNE KEPT WATCH.

"Yes, effendi, quite time," said a stern voice which Lawrence, as he sat
up, recognised as Yussuf's; and there was the grave-looking Turk, misty
and strange of aspect, bending down.

"Quite time, eh?" said Mr Preston yawning.

"Quite time, effendi.  Look there!"

Mr Preston rose and gazed in the direction of the Turk's pointing
finger, which was directed towards something indistinctly seen a few
yards away.

"Mr Burne!  Asleep!" said the professor quickly.

"Yes, effendi; I lay down to rest as you bade me, and I slept, expecting
to be called later on to watch; but I was not awakened, and slept
heavily.  I was weary."

"But Mr Burne was to watch for only three hours as near as he could
guess, and then call me.  It is too bad.  Those scoundrels might have
stolen upon us in our sleep."

Lawrence had risen and joined them.

"Poor fellow!" he said softly; "he must have been tired out.  Let me
watch now, Mr Preston."

"No," said the professor sternly.  "Lie down and sleep, my lad.  Sleep
brings strength.  You shall have your turn as soon as you are well
enough."

"Thy servant will watch now," said Yussuf.  "It is nearly day."

"It is too bad," said the professor again; and with the Turk he walked
to where Mr Burne lay fast asleep--so soundly, indeed, that he did not
stir when Yussuf bent down and took the pistol from his hand.

"Let him sleep, then," said Mr Preston rather bitterly.  "I will
watch;" and as he spoke he looked in the direction of the Greeks' camp.

"Let thy servant," said Yussuf quietly; "I am well rested now."

The result was that Lawrence, after a glance round to see that
everywhere it was dark and still, once more lay down to sleep, leaving
Mr Preston and the Turk talking in a low voice about their proceedings
the next day.

Then once more all was blank, but to the lad he did not seem to have
been asleep a minute when he heard voices and started up, to see that it
was broad daylight, and that Mr Preston and Yussuf were in earnest
conversation with Mr Burne, who was sitting up rubbing his eyes.

"Been asleep!" he cried; "nonsense!  I don't believe I have closed my
eyes."

"No," said Mr Preston as Lawrence hurried up.  "I do not suppose you
did.  It was nature, and she laid you down comfortably on this soft
sandy bed."

"But you astound me," cried the old lawyer.  "I can't believe it."

"Quite true all the same," said the professor; "but never mind now."

"It is of no use to mind, my dear sir.  We must make the best of it."

"Of course, but you should have awakened me when you felt weary."

"Yes, exactly; I meant to--I--dear me!  I remember now.  I thought I
would lie down for a few moments to take off a drowsy feeling.  I meant
to get up again directly, strong and refreshed.  Dear, dear, dear!  I am
very sorry!  So unbusiness-like of me!  What time is it?"

The professor smiled.

"About four, I think."

"Ah, yes; it must be about four," said the old lawyer looking about him
and encountering the stern eyes of Yussuf, which were full of reproach.
"Good job the Greeks did not come and disturb us."

"They did not disturb you, then?" said the professor gravely.

"No; not they--the scoundrels!  They had too serious a lesson in the
boat, and--"

He stopped short and looked in the direction of the spot where the three
Greek sailors had lain down to sleep the night before, and then he
turned his gaze out to sea.

"Why, where are they?" he exclaimed at last.

"Where, indeed!" replied the professor.

"You don't mean to say--you don't want to make me believe that they are
gone!" cried Burne excitedly.

"They are not anywhere near here on shore," replied the professor; "and
the boat has sailed away.  There is only one in sight, miles away
yonder.  That may be it, but I am not sure."

"Do you mean to say that those scoundrels have taken advantage of our
being asleep to get on board the boat and escape?" said the lawyer
angrily.

"That is the only point at which I can arrive," said the professor.
"Look around and judge for yourself."

The old lawyer looked sharply about him and then walked slowly away.

"A mistake--a mistake," he muttered; "I ought never to have come upon
such a trip.  Not fit for it--not fit for it.  Disgraceful--disgraceful!
I never--never could have believed it of myself."

He stopped and turned back.

"Send away this man," he said quickly.

Yussuf turned and walked away without another word.

"Preston," exclaimed the old lawyer, "I don't know what to say in my
defence.  I have nothing to say, only that I never felt anything so
bitterly before."

"Then say nothing," replied Mr Preston coldly.  "You were overcome by
sleep, and no wonder.  But it was a terrible risk to run.  Fortunately
these men were cowed by what had previously taken place, and they could
not know but what we were keeping a good watch."

"It is inexcusable," cried Mr Burne.  "I feel as if I could hardly look
you in the face again.  Left helpless here!  For goodness' sake,
Preston, tell me what we are to do."

"Quietly consult together what is to be done," was the reply.  "There,
man! pray, don't look at me in that imploring way."

"But it is so inexcusable," cried Mr Burne.

"Wait a bit," said the professor smiling; "my turn may come soon, and I
shall have to ask your pardon for doing wrong.  There! perhaps it is for
the best.  If we had retained the scoundrels they might have been too
much for us and played us some far worse trick."

Mr Burne was about to speak again, but the professor arrested him and
suggested a walk along the shore to the north-east; but it was finally
decided to partake first of an early breakfast, then to pack together
what was left of the food and start at once upon a journey that they
hoped would soon lead them to a village or town.

After a visit to the shore, where the deep blue water came softly
rippling upon the sand, they sat down to their frugal breakfast by the
spring, carefully husbanding the supplies, and then with enough
provision to keep them for about a couple of days, they started off,
this provision being the only luggage they had to carry, what few things
they possessed having been annexed by the Greeks, who seized upon them
by way of payment for the trip, as of course they would not have dared
to make any claim after what had occurred; and besides, it was not
likely that the skipper would care to show himself at any port
frequented by Englishmen for some time to come.



CHAPTER FIFTEEN.

THE LAWYER'S APOLOGY.

For some distance the way was along good firm sand, and they got over
several miles before the heat became too much for Lawrence, who was glad
to sit down under the shade of a low cliff facing the sea and nibble one
of the biscuits that had been pretty well soaked with sea-water, and
drink from a rivulet whose presence suggested the halt.

When the heat of the day had somewhat abated the journey was continued;
and, at last, when the night was beginning to fall and arrangements had
to be made for sleep, the outlook was very black, for they were in a
very desert place, and, though Yussuf and the professor both climbed
eminences from time to time, there was not a trace of human habitation,
while their supply of food was growing very short.

"Never mind," said the professor cheerily.  "Let's have a good night's
rest.  I don't think we need set a watch here, eh, Yussuf?"

"It is always better to do so, effendi," said the Muslim, in his quiet
thoughtful manner; "there is a great ridge of rocks yonder in front, and
who knows what may be on the other side."

"But no one has seen us come here; and if they had, we have not much to
lose."

"Except the Turkish gold the two excellencies have in the belts round
their waists," said Yussuf quietly.

Mr Preston started at this, but said nothing then.  Later on he found
that his thoughts had been shared upon the subject, for, as they sat
close up to a projecting cliff, Mr Burne leaned towards him and
whispered:

"Did you tell the guide that you had a lot of money in your cash-belt?"

"No.  Did you?"

"No."

"It is very strange," said the professor.

"It is worse," was the reply; "but, look here, for goodness' sake don't
go making me uncomfortable by hinting that Yussuf has designs against
us."

"I am not going to," said the professor shortly.  "I agree that it is
strange that he should know it, but I am going to place absolute faith
in Yussuf.  If I am deceived in the man so much the worse for me."

"But he is an unspeakable Turk, Preston, and you are always reading what
the Turks are."

"I am always reading what their wretched government is.  As a race I
believe the Turks are a particularly grave, gentlemanly race of men."

"I am sure," said Lawrence, "that Yussuf is doing all he can in our
interest."

"Tchah! stuff, boy! what do you know about human nature?" cried Mr
Burne angrily.  "We are out here in the desert at this man's mercy."

"But he fought for us and saved me from drowning."

"Of course he did, boy; he is paid to do it."

"Then why don't you trust him, sir?" said Lawrence, speaking out boldly.

"Because very likely he is doing all this to save us for himself.
Suppose he robs us and then runs away to Tadmor in the wilderness, or
some other outlandish place, what can we do?  There are no policemen
here."

"Hush," said Mr Preston; "here he is."

Yussuf came gravely stalking down from above where he had been taking a
fresh observation inland.

"I can see nothing, effendi," he said softly.  "We must sleep and see
what another day brings forth."

"Yes," said Mr Preston; "and we are all weary.  But, Yussuf."

"Effendi?"

"How did you know that my friend, here, and I carried belts containing
gold?"

The Muslim looked from one to the other sharply, and it was plain that
he read the suspicion in their eyes, for his own flashed, and a stern
aspect came over his countenance.

It passed away directly and his face lit up with a smile.

"Simply enough, excellencies," he said.  "Mr Burne, here, is always
feeling his waist to find out whether it is quite safe, or lifting it up
a little because it is heavy."

"I?  What?  No such thing, sir--no such thing," cried the old lawyer
angrily.

"Well, I have seen you do so a great many times," said Mr Preston
laughing.

"And so have I, Mr Burne," cried Lawrence, "often."

"I deny it, gentlemen, I deny it," he cried; and sitting up he
involuntarily placed his hands just above his hips, and gave himself a
hitch after the fashion of a sailor.

The professor burst into a hearty laugh; Lawrence roared; and Yussuf's
face was so comically grave that Mr Burne could not resist the
infection, and laughed in turn.

"There," he exclaimed; "I suppose, I do without knowing it, and I am so
cautious, too."

"But come," said Mr Preston, turning to Yussuf, "you have not seen me
do this, I think."

"No, effendi, never; but when we were busy baling the water out of the
boat for these dogs of Greeks to escape, your garments were wet and
clung to you tightly, and the shape of the belt could be plainly seen."

"Of course it could," said the professor bluffly.  "Why, Yussuf, I
believe now in the story about the dervish who was asked if he met the
camel, and told the owners all about it: the lame leg, the missing
tooth, the load of rice on one side, the honey on the other, and all
without seeing it."

"Nonsense!" said Mr Burne testily, "how could he?"

"Why, my dear sir, you must have forgotten that old tale.  By the light
impression of one foot in the sand, by the herbage not being evenly
cropped, and by the ants being busy with the fallen grain on one side,
the flies, attracted by the honey, upon the other."

"Bah!" exclaimed the old lawyer.  "Eastern tales are all gammon.  I
don't believe in the East at all."

"Nor in people being cast ashore in desert places and having encounters
with Greek sailors.  Nor in their having a faithful experienced
Mussulman guide, who fought for them and strove his very best to get
them out of their troubles, eh, Burne?  Well, I do, and I'm very tired.
Good-night, Yussuf.  You are going to sleep, I suppose?"

"No, effendi," said the Turk.  "I shall watch till the stars say it is
two hours past midnight, and then I shall awaken you."

"Humph!  Wrong again," cried Mr Burne testily.  "I always am wrong.
What are you laughing at, sir?"

"At you, Mr Burne.  I beg your pardon, I couldn't help it," said
Lawrence.

"Oh, I'll forgive you, boy.  I'm glad to see you can laugh like that,
instead of being regularly knocked up with our troubles.  I begin to
believe that you never have been ill, and were shamming so as to get a
holiday."

"Do you, sir?" said Lawrence sadly.

"No, my boy.  Good-night.  Good-night, Yussuf," he added, and then he
raised an echo by blowing his nose.

"Good-night, excellency," said the Turk, rather haughtily; and soon
there was nothing to be heard but the sighing of the night wind and the
low murmur of the rippling sea.

There was little to see, too, in the darkness, but the figures of the
reclining sleepers, and that of the grave sentinel, who sat upon a big
mass of stone, crouched in a heap and looking as if he were part of the
rock, save when he changed his position a little to refill his pipe.

The night passed without any alarm.  The professor was awakened about
two and took Yussuf's place, and soon after daybreak the others were
roused, and the residue of the provisions was opened out.

"Be easier to carry when eaten," said Mr Preston laughing.

He looked serious directly, for there was a peculiarly sombre frown upon
Yussuf's brow, which suggested that he was thinking over Mr Burne's
suspicions of the previous evening, and his rather unpleasant way.

"Look here, Burne," the professor whispered, as they sat together on the
sand eating their spare meal, "I think, if I were you, I would make a
bit of an apology to Yussuf.  He is really a gentleman at heart, and has
been accustomed to mix a great deal with Englishmen.  He is a good deal
hurt by our suspicions, and it is a pity for there to be any disunion in
our little camp."

"Camp, indeed!" cried the old man testily; "pretty sort of a camp,
without a tent in it.  I shall be racked with rheumatism in all my old
bones.  I know I shall, after this wild-goose chase."

"Let's hope not," said the professor; "but you will make some advances
to him, will you not?"

"You mind your own affairs, sir.  Don't you teach me.  My back's
horrible this morning.  Can't you wait a bit.  I was going to make
amends if you had left me alone."

"That's right," said the professor cheerily.  "I want him to have a good
opinion of Englishmen."

Lawrence watched eagerly for Mr Burne's apology, but he did not speak
till just as they were going to start, when he stepped aside behind a
rock for a few minutes, and then came out again and walked up to Yussuf
with something coiled up in his hand.

"Look here, Yussuf," he said.  "You're a stronger man than I am, and
used to the country.  I wish you would buckle this round your waist--out
of sight, of course."

As he spoke he held out his heavy cash-belt, which was thoroughly well
padded with gold coin, and then threw it over the Turk's arm.

Yussuf looked at him intently, and a complete change came over the man's
face as he shook his head and held the belt out for Mr Burne to take
again.

"No, excellency," he said, "I understand you.  It is to show me that you
trust me, but you doubt me still."

"No, I do not," cried Mr Burne.  "Nothing of the sort.  You think I do,
because I said ugly things yesterday.  But that was my back."

"Your excellency's back?"

"Yes, my man; my back.  It ached horribly.  There, I do trust you.  I
should be a brute if I did not."

"I'll take your excellency's word, then," said Yussuf gravely.  "I will
not carry the belt."

"Nonsense, man, do.  There, it was to make you believe in me; but all
the same it does tire me terribly, and it frets me, just where I feel
most tender from my fall.  It would relieve me a great deal, and it
would be safer with you than with me.  Come, there's a good fellow;
carry it for me.  I beg you will."

The Turk shook his head, and stood holding out the belt, turning his
eyes directly after to Mr Preston and then upon Lawrence.

"Come," continued Mr Burne, "you surely do not bear malice because a
tired man who was in great pain said a few hasty words.  The belt has
really fretted and chafed me.  I am ready to trust in your sincerity;
will you not trust in mine?"

Yussuf's countenance lit up, and he caught Mr Burne's hand in his, and
raised it to his lips hastily, after which he opened his loose robe and
carefully buckled the money-belt within his inner garment.

"That's the way," cried Mr Burne cheerily; and he looked happier and
more relieved himself; "and look here, Yussuf, I'm a curious suspicious
sort of fellow, who has had dealings with strange people all his life.
I believe in you, I do indeed, and whenever you find me saying
unpleasant things, you'll know my back's bad, and that I don't mean it.
And now, for goodness' sake, let's get to some civilised place where we
can have a cup of coffee and a glass of wine.  Preston, old fellow, I'd
give a sovereign now for a good well-cooked mutton-chop--I mean four
sovereigns for four--one a-piece.  I'm not a greedy man."

Lawrence went forward to Yussuf's side, and these two led the way, along
by the purple sea, which was now flashing in the morning sun, and the
delicious air made the travellers feel inspirited, and ready to forget
all discomforts as they tramped on in search of a village, while, before
they had gone far, Mr Burne turned his dry face to the professor and
said:

"Well, did that do?"

"My dear Burne," cried the professor, "I am just beginning to know you.
It was admirable."

"Humph!" ejaculated the old lawyer, who then blew a sounding blast upon
his nose.  "I am beginning to think that a neater form of apology to a
man--a foreign heretic sort of a man--was never offered."

"It could not have been better.  What do you think, Lawrence?" he added
as the latter halted to let his elders catch up, Yussuf going on alone.

"I don't know what you were talking about," he replied.

"Mr Burne's apology.  I say it was magnificent."

"So do I," exclaimed Lawrence.  "Capital."

"Humph!  Think so?  Well, I suppose it was all right," said Mr Burne.
"But I say," he whispered, gazing after Yussuf who was striding away
fifty yards ahead and leaving them behind, "do you really think that
money will be all right?"

"I say, Mr Burne," cried Lawrence laughing; "is your back beginning to
ache already?"

The old lawyer stopped short, and turned upon the lad with a comical
look, half mirth, half anger in his countenance.

"You impudent young dog," he cried.  "I knew you were shamming, and not
ill at all.  My back, indeed!  Well, yes.  Come along.  I suppose it was
beginning to ache."



CHAPTER SIXTEEN.

THE STARTING-POINT.

Mr Burne showed no more distrust, though Yussuf was striding away
faster and faster, at a rate that Lawrence's strength forbade him to
attempt to emulate; but the reason soon became evident.  He was making
for an elevation about a mile away, and upon reaching it he toiled up to
the top, and as soon as he had done so he turned and took off his fez
and began to wave it in the air.

"He has found out something," said the professor.

"If it is a hotel where we can get a good breakfast he shall have my
advice for nothing any time he likes to come and ask it," said Mr
Burne, rubbing his hands.

"In London?" said the professor.

"Anywhere, sir.  There, that will do.  Don't swing your arms about like
that," he continued, addressing the guide, who was of course far out of
hearing.  "Anyone would think that because he was right on the top of a
hill he had caught the wind-mill complaint."

The three travellers were almost as much excited as Yussuf, and hurried
on, Lawrence forgetting his weakness in the interest of the moment, so
that it was not long before they reached the top--hot, breathless, and
panting with exertion.

Their guide pointed to what appeared to be a group of huts a long way
off.

"Is that all?" grumbled the old lawyer.  "I thought you had found a
place where we could have a comfortable meal."

"There will be bread, and fruit, and a boat, excellency," said Yussuf
quietly; "and these are what you want, are they not?"

"I suppose so," replied Mr Burne, gazing forward at what now appeared
to be a cluster of small houses by the sea-shore, backed by a dense
grove of trees, while in front, and about a quarter of a mile from the
sands, lay three small boats.  "It is not a desert place then," he
grumbled, as they all went on together.  "How far is it to that cluster
of hovels?"

"About two miles, excellency."

"About two miles, and before breakfast," muttered the old fellow sourly;
but he drew a long breath as if he were trying to master his
disinclination, and then turning to Lawrence with a grim smile he cried,
"Now, look here, cripple against invalid, I'll race you; fair walking,
and Mr Preston to be umpire.  One--two--three--off."

It was a fair walk of about an hour before they entered the cluster of
huts, each surrounded by a good-sized fruit garden, the people standing
outside and staring hard at the strange visitors who came along the
shore, one of whom plumped himself upon the edge of a boat that was
drawn up on the sands, another throwing himself down, hot and panting
with exertion, while the two who were left a little way behind strode up
more leisurely, one of them to ask for refreshment and a resting-place
out of the sun.

"There is no mistake about it, Lawrence," cried the professor eagerly,
"you couldn't have done that in England."

Lawrence laughed.

"But I am completely tired out," he exclaimed, wiping his face.  "I
could not have gone any further."

"Neither could I," groaned Mr Burne.  "Oh, my back, my back!  Who won,
Preston?"

"A dead heat, decidedly," said the professor laughing; but he was
watching Lawrence the while very attentively, and asking himself whether
he was letting the lad over-exert himself.

One thing, however, was plain enough, and that was that the sick lad had
been allowed to droop and mope in his ailment.  The serious disease was
there, of course, but he had been nursed up and coddled to a terrible
extent, and this had made him far worse than he would have been had he
led an active country life, or been induced to exert himself a little
instead of lying in bed or upon a couch day after day.

The people seemed disposed to resent the coming of the strangers at
first, and declined to supply them with either food or a resting-place,
till Yussuf drew out some money, and assured them that they would be
paid for everything that was eaten.  Then they grew more civil, and
Yussuf explained to his employers that the reason for the people's
churlishness was, that they were often obliged to supply food or work by
some tyrannical government officer or another, and the only payment they
had was in the form of blows if they complained.

The payment after they had supplied a meal of curd and milk with bread
and fruit completely altered their demeanour, and upon its being
intimated that a boat was required to take their visitors over to
Ansina, quite a dispute arose between the owners of two as to which
should have the honour and profit; but all was at length settled
amicably by Yussuf, and that evening, fairly provisioned by the combined
aid of the tiny village, the best of the boats hoisted its sails, and
the shores of Cyprus began to look dim as the night fell, and the
travellers were once more on their way.

The winds were so light and contrary that it was not until the evening
of the third day that they were well in sight of the country that was to
be the scene of their journeyings for many months to come; and then, as
they neared Ansina, it was to see a scattered town that seemed as if of
marble beyond the purple sea, while beyond the town lay to right and
left a fairy-like realm of green and gold, beyond which again lay range
upon range of amethystine mountains, above which in turn were peaks of
dazzling white, save where the evening sun was gilding salient points of
a pure pale gold.

The run had been very pleasant in spite of the cramped accommodation,
for the little crew were a kindly simple people, whose countenances
invited trust, and though the fare on board had been scant, yet it was
wholesome and good, as the rest the travellers had found was grateful.

So satisfactory was this part of the trip that Mr Burne forgot about
his back, and as he stood gazing at the glorious panorama, indulging in
an occasional pinch of snuff, he suddenly whisked out his handkerchief
and blew a clarion blast which made the boatmen start.

"Hah!" he exclaimed suddenly; "this will do.  I tell you what it is,
Preston; when I get back I shall start a company for the reclamation of
this country.  It must be taken from the Turks, and we must have a new
English colony here."

"The first Roman who saw the place must have felt something like you do
about his native land," said the professor.

"Oh, the Romans had a colony here, had they?"

"Yes; and the Greeks before them."

"Humph!" ejaculated the old lawyer, as he let his eyes wander from spot
to spot glowing in the sinking sun, and growing more beautiful as they
advanced.  "Well, I always had, as a boy, a most decided objection to
the Greeks and Romans, and I used to wish that, when they died out,
their tongues had been buried with them instead of being left behind to
pester schoolboys; but now I am beginning to respect them, for they must
have known what they were about to settle in such a land as this.
Lovely, eh, Lawrence?"

"Grand!" was the reply uttered in enraptured tones; "but don't talk to
me, please, I feel as if I could do nothing else but look."

The professor smiled and joined him in drinking in the beauty of the
scene, till the little felucca sailed in under the shelter of a large
stone wall that formed part of the ancient port.  Here they found
themselves face to face with the handiwork of one of the great nations
of antiquity, this having been a city of the Greeks, before the Romans
planted their conquering feet here, to die away leaving their broken
columns, ruined temples, and traces of their circus and aqueducts, among
which the mingled race of Turks and present-day Greeks had raised the
shabby village, more than town, that clustered about the port.

"Safe ashore at last," said the professor as he stepped on to a large
block of squared stone in which was secured with lead an ancient ring.
"Now, Lawrence, our travels are to begin.  How do you feel? ready for
plenty of adventure?"

"Yes, quite," was the reply.

"Then, first of all, for a comfortable resting-place.  To-morrow we will
see the resident, and then make preparations for our start."

"Humph!" ejaculated Mr Burne; and he blew his nose in a way never heard
in Asia Minor before.



CHAPTER SEVENTEEN.

PREPARATIONS FOR A JOURNEY.

Lawrence Grange left England as weak and helpless in mind as he was in
body; but, in the brief period that had elapsed, his mind had rapidly
recovered its balance, and, leaving his body behind, had strengthened so
that, eager and bright, and urged on by the glorious novelty of the
things he saw, his spirit was now always setting his body tasks that it
could not perform.

"I'm sure I am getting worse," he said one morning, after returning from
having a delicious bathe down by the ruins of the old port.  "I never
felt so weak as this in England."

The professor burst into a hearty fit of laughter, in which the old
lawyer joined, and then took snuff and snapped his fingers till both his
companions sneezed.

"I say," cried Lawrence, "isn't it cruel of you two, laughing at a poor
fellow for what he cannot help."

He looked so piteously at them that they both grew serious directly.

"Why, my dear boy," cried Mr Preston, "can you not see that you keep on
overtasking yourself?  Growing worse!  Now, be reasonable; you had to be
carried down to the fly in London; the porters carried you to the
first-class carriage in which you went down by rail, and you were
carried to the steamer."

"Yes," said Lawrence sadly; "that is true, but I did not feel so weak as
this."

"Get out, you young cock-goose!" cried Mr Burne.  "Why, you have been
bathing, and you haven't had your breakfast yet."

"And you are mistaking fatigue for weakness," said the professor.

"Of course," cried Mr Burne.  "Why, look here.  You were out nearly all
day yesterday with us or with Yussuf looking at ruins, going over the
place, and seeing about the horses, and now, as soon as you woke this
morning, you were off with Preston here to kick and splash about in the
water.  Weak? what nonsense!  Oh, here's Yussuf.  Here, hi! you grand
Turk, what do you say about this boy?  He thinks he is not so well."

"The young effendi?" cried Yussuf.  "Oh!  I have been out this morning
to see some other horses, excellencies, that are far better than any we
have yet seen.  They are rough, sturdy little fellows from the
mountains, and you ought to buy these."

"Buy or hire?" said the professor.

"Buy, excellency.  You will feed and treat them well, and at the end
they will be worth as much if not more than you gave for them.  Besides,
if you hire horses, they will be inferior, and you will be always
changing and riding fresh beasts."

"Yes, of course," said the old lawyer; "but there is no risk."

"Your excellency will pardon me, there will be more risks.  We shall
traverse many dangerous mountain paths, and a man should know his horse
and his horse know him.  They should be good friends, and take care of
each other.  A Turkish horse loves the hand that feeds him, the master
that rides upon his back."

"I am sure you are right, Yussuf," said the professor.  "We will go by
your advice and buy the horses."

"Here, hold hard!" cried Mr Burne.  "Look here.  Do you mean to tell me
that I am expected to ride a horse along a dangerous mountain road?  I
mean a shelf over a precipice."

"Certainly, your excellency, the roads are very bad."

"You do not feel nervous about that, do you, Burne?" said the professor.

"Oh, dear me, no, not at all," cried the old lawyer sarcastically.  "Go
on.  I've had a pretty good hardening already, what with knocking on the
head, drowning, shipwrecking, starving, and walking off my legs."

"But, if you really object to our programme, we will try some easier
route," said the professor.

"Oh, by no means, sir, by no means.  I have only one thing to say.  I
see you have made up your mind to kill me, and I only make one proviso,
and that is, that you shall take me back to England to bury me decently.
I will not--I distinctly say it--I will not stay here."

"Your excellency shall come to no harm," said Yussuf, "if I can prevent
it.  With care and good horses there is very little risk."

"How soon shall we go to see the horses?" cried Lawrence eagerly.

"When you have been lying up for a month," replied Mr Burne gruffly.
"You are too weak, and going back too much to venture out any more."

"Till you have had a good breakfast," said the professor, laughing as he
saw the lad's look of keen disappointment; and they sat down at once to
a capital meal.

For they had been a week in Ansina, and were comfortably lodged in the
house of a Turk whom Yussuf had recommended, and who, in a grave way,
attended carefully to their wants.  The luggage sent on by steamer had
arrived safely, and, with the exception of the few things lost in the
felucca, they were very little the worse for their mishap.

So far they had been delayed by the difficulty of obtaining horses, but
now the opportunity had come for obtaining what was necessary, walking
being out of the question, and the only means of traversing the rugged
country, that was to be the scene of their ramblings, was by the help of
a sure-footed horse.

Lawrence forgot all about his weakness as soon as breakfast was over,
and started off with his companions to see the animals that were for
sale.

They were at an outlying place a couple of miles away from their
lodgings, and the walk in the delicious autumn air was most enjoyable.
In the distance was the mysterious soft blue range of mountains that
they were to penetrate for some six weeks, before the season grew too
advanced, and to Lawrence it was a perfect wonderland that was to prove
full of sights that would astound, adventures that would thrill; and,
could he have had his way, he would have set off at once, and without
all the tedious preparations that Yussuf deemed necessary.

The first mile of their way was uninteresting.  Then they entered a
little valley with precipitous sides, their path running by the side of
a beautiful little stream, which they had to cross again and again; but
their progress was not rapid, for Mr Burne always stopped to examine
the pools and talk about how fond he had been of fishing when he was a
boy.

Farther on they kept coming to little houses pleasantly situated in
gardens, very much as might be seen in the suburbs of an English town,
for these were the country houses of the wealthy Turks of the place, who
came and dwelt here in the hot times of the summer.

There was a great similarity about these places.  Houses and walls were
built of fine, large, well-squared blocks of stone and marble, with
every here and there a trace of carving visible--all showing that the
Turk's quarry was the ruined Roman city, which offered an almost
inexhaustible supply.

These little estates were either just above the river, perched on one
side, or so arranged that the stream ran right through the grounds,
rippling amongst velvety grass lawns, overshadowed by great walnuts,
with mulberry and plum trees in abundance.

"Hi, stop a moment," cried Mr Burne, as they reached one beautiful
clump of trees, quite a grove, whose leaves were waving in the soft
mountain-breeze.

"What have you found?" said the professor, as Lawrence hurried up.

"That, sir, that," cried Mr Burne.  "See these trees."

"Yes," said the professor, "a magnificent clump of planes--what a huge
size!"

"Exactly," said the old lawyer.  "Now, do you see what that proves?"

"What--the presence of those trees?"

"Yes, sir," said the old lawyer dogmatically.  "They show, sir, that the
Turk is a much-abused man.  People say that he never advances, but you
see he does."

"How?" said the professor, "by being too lazy to quarry stone or marble
in these mountains, where they abound, and building his house out of the
edifices raised by better men?"

"No, sir; by following our example, importing from us, and planting
walnut-trees and these magnificent planes all about his place.  Look at
these!  Why, I could almost fancy myself in Gray's Inn Gardens."

"My dear Burne, are you serious?"

"Serious, sir?  Never more so in my life.  They are beautiful."

"Yes, they are very beautiful," said the professor drily.  "But I always
thought that these trees were the natives of this country, and that
instead of the Turks imitating us, we had seen the beauty of these
trees, and transplanted some of them when young to our own land."

"Absurd!" said the old lawyer dictatorially, and he was about to say
more when Yussuf stopped at a rough kind of inclosure, where a Turk was
seated upon the grass beneath a shady tree smoking thoughtfully, and
apparently paying no heed to the new-comers.

"The horses are here," he said; and upon being spoken to, the Turk rose,
laid aside his pipe, and bowed.

It was not a long business, for Yussuf and the owner of the horses were
compatriots, but Lawrence stared at the animals in dismay when he
followed his companions into the inclosure.  He had pictured to himself
so many lovely flowing-maned creatures of Arab descent, large-eyed, wide
of nostril, and with arched necks, and tails that swept the ground.  He
expected to see them toss up their heads and snort, and dash off wildly,
but on the contrary the dozen horses that were in the inclosure went
quietly on with their grazing in the most business-like manner, and when
a boy was sent to drive them up, they proved to be shaggy, heavy-headed,
rather dejected-looking animals, with not an attractive point about
them.

"Surely you will not buy any of these, Preston," said Mr Burne.  "I do
not understand horses, but those seem to be a very shabby lot."

"They are young, effendi, healthy and strong," said Yussuf gravely.
"They are accustomed to the mountains, and that is what we require.
Large, handsome horses, such as you see in the desert or at Istamboul,
would be useless here."

"There, I am not going to doubt your knowing best," said Mr Burne
quietly; and the bargain was made, four being selected for riding, and
two that were heavier and stronger for baggage animals.

Arrangements were made for the horses to be driven before them down to
Ansina, and as soon as the six purchased were driven out of the
inclosure their companions trotted up, thrust their heads over a bar,
and whinnied a farewell, while the others seemed to be in high glee at
the change.  They threw up their heads and snorted; and one that was of
a cream colour, and the smallest of the lot, began to display a
playfulness that upset all the rest.  The way he displayed his humour
was by stretching out his neck, baring his teeth, and running at and
biting his companions in turn--a trick which necessitated a good deal of
agility, for the other horses resented the attacks by presenting their
heels to their playful companion for inspection--a proceeding of which
he did not at all approve.

All went well, however, the animals were safely stowed away in the
stable prepared for their use, and each was soon busy at work grinding
up the barley served out for his particular benefit, oats being a luxury
they were not called upon to enjoy.



CHAPTER EIGHTEEN.

MR. BURNE BLOWS HIS NOSE.

"At last!" cried Lawrence, as they set off for their first incursion.
Two more days had been occupied in purchasing stores, saddlery, and
other necessaries for their trip, and, as the lad said, at last they
were off.

The start of the party excited no surprise in the little town.  It was
nothing to the people there to see four well-armed travellers set off,
followed by a sturdy peasant, who had charge of the two heavily-laden
pack-horses, for, in addition to the personal luggage and provisions of
the travellers, with their spare ammunition, it was absolutely necessary
to take a supply of barley sufficient to give the horses a good feed, or
two, in case of being stranded in any spot where grain was scarce.

The heat was very great as they rode on over the plain, and Mr Burne's
pocket-handkerchief was always busy either to help him sound an alarm,
to wipe the perspiration from his brow, or to whisk away the flies from
himself and horse.

"It's enough to make a man wish he had a bushy tail," he said, after an
exasperated dash at a little cloud of insects.  "Peugh! what a number of
nuisances there are in the land!"

But in a short time, enjoying the beautiful prospects spread around,
they rode into a wooded valley, where the trees hung low, and, as they
passed under the branches, the trouble from the virulent and hungry
flies grew less.

The ascent was gradual, and after a few miles the woodland part ceased,
and they found themselves upon a plain once more, but from the state of
the atmosphere it was evidently far more elevated than that where the
town lay.  Here for miles and miles they rode through clover and wild
flowers that lay as thick as the buttercups in an English meadow.  But
in addition to patches of golden hue there were tracts of mauve and
scarlet and crimson and blue, till the eyes seemed to ache with the
profusion of colour.

So far the ride had been most unadventurous.  Not a house had been seen
after they had quitted the outskirts of the town, nothing but waste
land, if that could be called waste where the richest of grasses and
clovers with endless wild flowers abounded.

At mid-day a halt was made beneath a tremendous walnut-tree growing near
a spring which trickled from the side of a hill; and now the horses were
allowed to graze in the abundant clover, while the little party made
their meal and rested till the heat of the day was past.

Here Yussuf pointed out their resting-place for the night--a spot that
lay amid the mountains on their right, apparently not far off; but the
Muslim explained that it would be a long journey, and that they must not
expect to reach it before dark.

After a couple of hours the horses were loaded again, and sent on first
with their driver, while the travellers followed more leisurely along
the faint track for it could hardly be called a road.  The second plain
was soon left behind, and their way lay among the hills, valley after
valley winding in and out; and as fast as one eminence was skirted
others appearing, each more elevated than the last, while the scenery
grew wilder and more grand.

The little horses were behaving very well, trudging along sturdily with
their riders, and every hour proving more and more the value of Yussuf's
choice.  There was no restiveness or skittish behaviour, save that once
or twice the little cream-coloured fellow which Lawrence had selected
for himself and christened Ali Baba had shown a disposition to bite one
of his companions.  He soon gave up, though, and walked or trotted
steadily on in the file, Yussuf leading, the professor coming next, then
Lawrence, and Mr Burne last.

They stopped at various points of the rising road to study the grand
patches of cedars, clumps of planes low down in the valleys, and the
slopes of pines, while in the groves the thrushes sang, and the
blackbirds piped as familiarly as if it was some spot in Devonshire
instead of Asia Minor.  Then a diversion was made here and there to
examine some spring or the edge of a ravine where a stream ran.  There
was plenty of time for this, as the two baggage-horses had to be
studied, and they were soon overtaken after one of these rides.

But at last a visit to a few stones on a hillside, which had evidently
been a watch-tower in some old period of this country's history, took up
so much time that the man with the baggage was a good hour's journey
ahead; and as they reached the track once more Yussuf turned to ask the
professor whether he thought the invalid could bear the motion if he led
the way at a trot.

The professor turned to ask Lawrence, who replied that he believed he
could, and then something happened.

The professor had hardly spoken and obtained his reply before Mr Burne,
who had been refreshing himself with a pinch of snuff, whisked out his
handkerchief according to his custom.

They were now going along a valley which ran between too highish walls
of rock, dotted here and there with trees--just the sort of place, in
fact, where anyone would be disposed to shout aloud to try if there was
an echo; but the idea had not occurred to either of the travellers,
whose thoughts were bent upon overtaking the baggage animals with their
stores, when quite unexpectedly Mr Burne applied his handkerchief to
his face and blew his nose.

It was not one of his finest blasts, there was less thunder in it, and
more high-pitched horn-like music, but the effect was electrical.

There was an echo in that valley, and this echo took up the sound,
repeated it, and seemed to send it on to a signalling station higher up,
where it was caught and sent on again, and then again and again, each
repetition growing weaker and softer than the last.

But only one of these echoes was heard by the travellers, for, as afore
said, the effect was electrical.

The moment that blast was blown behind him, Ali Baba, Lawrence's
cream-coloured horse, threw up his head, then lowered it, and lifted his
heels, sending his rider nearly out of his saddle, uttered a peculiar
squeal, and set off at a gallop.

The squeal and the noise of the hoofs acted like magic upon the other
three horses, and away they went, all four as hard as they could go at
full gallop, utterly regardless of the pulling and tugging that went on
at their bits.

This wild stampede went on along the valley for quite a quarter of an
hour before Yussuf was able to check his steed's headlong career; and it
was none too soon, for the smooth track along the valley was rapidly
giving way to a steep descent strewed with blocks of limestone, and to
have attempted to gallop down there must have resulted in a serious
fall.

As it was, Yussuf was only a few yards from a great mass of rock when
his hard-mouthed steed was checked; and as the squeal of one had been
sufficient to start the others, who had all their early lives been
accustomed to run together in a drove, so the stopping of one had the
effect of checking the rest, and they stood together shaking their ears
and pawing the ground.

As soon as he could get his breath, Lawrence began to laugh, and Mr
Preston followed his lead, while the grave Muslim could not forbear a
smile at Mr Burne.  This worthy's straw hat had been flying behind,
hanging from his neck by a lanyard, while he stood up in his stirrups,
craned his neck forward, and held his pocket-handkerchief whip fashion,
though it more resembled an orange streak of light as it streamed
behind; while now, as soon as the horse had stopped, he climbed out of
the saddle, walked two or three steps, and then sat down and stared as
if he had been startled out of his senses.

"Not hurt, I hope, Burne," said the professor kindly.

"Hurt, sir--hurt?  Why, that brute must be mad.  He literally flew with
me, and I might as well have pulled at Saint Paul's as try to stop him.
Good gracious me!  I'm shaken into a jelly."

"Mine was just as hard-mouthed," said the professor.

"Hard-mouthed? say iron-mouthed while you are about it.  And look here,
Lawrence, don't you make your pony play such tricks again."

"I did nothing, sir," expostulated Lawrence.

"Nonsense, sir! don't tell me.  I saw you tickle him with your hand
behind the saddle."

"But, Mr Burne--"

"Don't interrupt and contradict, sir.  I distinctly saw you do it, and
then the nasty brute kicked up his heels, and squealed, and frightened
the others."

"But, Mr Burne--"

"Don't prevaricate, sir, I saw you, and when that brute squealed out you
could hear the noise go echoing all down the valley."

In the most innocent manner--having his handkerchief out of his pocket--
the old lawyer applied it to his nose and gave another blast, the result
being that the horses nearly went off again; but Yussuf caught Mr
Burne's steed, and the professor and Lawrence managed to hold theirs in,
but not without difficulty.

"What! were you doing it again?" cried Mr Burne angrily.

"My dear Burne--no, no; pray, don't do that," cried the professor.
"Don't you see that it was you who startled the animals off?"

"I startle them?  I?  What nonsense!"

"But indeed you did, when you blew your nose so loudly."

"Blew my nose so loudly!  Did I blow my nose so loudly?"

"Did you? why it was you who raised that echo."

"I?  Raised that echo?  My dear sir, are you dreaming?"

"Dreaming?  No!  A ride like that upon a rough Turkish horse does not
conduce to dreaming.  My dear Burne, did you not know that you made that
noise?"

"Noise?  What, when I blew my nose, or when I took snuff?"

Lawrence could not contain himself, but burst into another tremendous
fit of laughter, while, when the old lawyer looked up at him angrily,
and then glanced at Yussuf, it was to see that the latter had turned his
face away, and was apparently busily rearranging the bridle of his
horse.

"But I say, Preston," said the old lawyer then, "do you really mean to
say that I made enough noise to frighten the horses?  I thought it was
Lawrence there tickling that biting beast of his."

"But I did not tickle him, Mr Burne," protested Lawrence.

"Bless my heart, it's very strange!  What do you say, Preston?--you
don't answer me.  It is very strange."

"Strange indeed that you do not recognise the fact that the tremendous
noise you made in your pocket-handkerchief started the horses."

The old gentleman looked round; then at the horses; then in his
handkerchief; and back at the horses again.

"I--er--I--er--I really cannot believe it possible, Preston; I blow my
nose so softly," he said quite seriously.  "Would you--there--don't
think I slight your word--but--er--would you mind--I'm afraid, you see,
that you are mistaken--would you mind my trying the horses?"

"By no means," said the professor smiling.

"I will then," said the old gentleman eagerly; and going up to the
horses, yellow handkerchief in hand held loosely as if he were about to
use it, he slowly advanced it to each animal's nose.

They neither of them winced, Lawrence's cream colour going so far as to
reach out and try to take hold of it with his lips, evidently under the
impression that it was some delicate kind of Turkish dried hay.

"There," said Mr Burne triumphantly; "you see!  They are not frightened
at the handkerchief."

"Walk behind," said the professor, "and blow your nose--blow gently."

The old gentleman hesitated for a moment, and then blew as was
suggested, not so loudly as before, but a fairly sonorous blow.

The horses all made a plunge, and had to be held in and patted before
they could be calmed down again.

"What ridiculous brutes!" exclaimed Mr Burne contemptuously.  "How
absurd!"

"You are satisfied, then?" said the professor.

"I cannot help being," replied Mr Burne.  "Bless my heart!  It is
ridiculous."

"I am growing anxious, your excellencies," said Yussuf interrupting.
"The time is getting on, and I want to overtake the baggage-horses.
Will you please to mount, sir?"

"Bless me, Yussuf," cried Mr Burne testily; "anyone would think that
this was your excursion and not ours."

"Your pardon, effendi, but it will be bad if the night overtakes us and
we have not found our baggage.  Perhaps we may have to sleep at a khan
where there is no food."

"When we have plenty with the baggage.  To be sure.  But must I mount
that animal again?  I am shaken to pieces.  There, hold his head."

The old gentleman uttered a sigh, but he placed his foot in the stirrup
and mounted slowly, not easily, for the horse was nervous now, and
seemed as if it half suspected his rider of being the cause of that
startling noise.



CHAPTER NINETEEN.

ADVENTURES IN THE HILLS.

"All the result of coming among savages," grumbled Mr Burne.  "Anyone
would think that the Turks had never learned the use of the
pocket-handkerchief."

"I do not suppose many of them have arrived at your pitch of
accomplishment," said the professor, laughing, as they rode on along the
faint track in and out of the loveliest valleys, where nature was
constantly tempting them to stop and gaze at some fresh beauty.  But
there was every prospect of darkness overtaking them before they reached
the little mountain village where they were to rest for the night; and
as the time went on the beauties of nature were forgotten in the
all-powerful desire to overtake the driver with the two baggage-horses,
laden with that which was extremely precious to so many hungry
travellers, and at every turn their eyes were strained in front to look
upon the welcome sight.

"Not so much as a tail," muttered Mr Burne.  "I say," he said aloud,
"what's become of that baggage?"

Yussuf was understood to say that the man must have made haste, and that
they would find him at the village.

But if that was what the Muslim had said, he was wrong.  For when in the
darkness, after what had become quite a dangerous finish to their
journey along the edge of a shelf of rock, where, far below, the rushing
and gurgling of a torrent could be heard, they reached the cluster of
houses and the miserable khan, one thing was evident, and that was that
the baggage had not arrived.

"What is to be done, Yussuf?" said the professor.  "Must we go back and
search for it?"

"We could do nothing in the dark, effendi," was the reply.  "The path is
safe enough in daylight; by night the risk is too great."

"But he may come yet," exclaimed Mr Burne.

Yussuf only shook his head, and said that they must wait.

But he did not waste time, for he sought out the head-man of the village
to ask for a resting-place for his employers, with a supply of the best
food the village could afford, and barley for the horses.

The man surlily replied that they had not enough food for themselves,
and that the barley had all gone to pay the taxes.  They must go
somewhere else.

It was now that the weary and hungry travellers found out the value of
Yussuf.

For he came to the professor, as they sat together on their tired
horses, and held out his hand.

"Give me the firman, excellency," he said.  "These miserable people have
been robbed and plundered by travellers who ask their hospitality, till
they are suspicious of all strangers.  Let me show the head-man the
sultan's command before I use force."

The professor handed the document, and Yussuf walked straight to where
the head-man was standing aloof, caught him by the shoulder and pushed
him inside his house, where he made him read the order.

The effect was magical.  The man became obsequious directly; the horses
were led to a rough kind of stable; barley was found for them, a sturdy
fellow removed bridles and saddles, and carried them into a good-sized
very bare-looking room in the house, which he informed them was to be
their chamber for the night.

Here a smoky lamp was soon lit; rugs were brought in, and before long a
rough meal of bread, and eggs and fruit was set before them, followed by
some coffee, which, if not particularly good, was warm and refreshing in
the coolness of the mountain air.

The lamp burned low, and they were glad to extinguish it at last, and
then lie down upon the rugs to sleep.

It seemed strange and weird there in the darkness of that room.  Only a
few hours before, they were in the heated plain; now by the gradual rise
of the road they were high up where the mountain-breeze sighed among the
cedars, and blew in through the unglazed window.

There was a sense of insecurity in being there amongst unfriendly
strangers, and Lawrence realised the necessity for going about armed,
and letting the people see that travellers carried weapons ready for
use.

Twice over that day they had passed shepherds who bore over their
shoulders what, at a distance, were taken for crooks, but which proved
on nearer approach to be long guns, while each man had a formidable
knife in his sash.

But, well-armed though they were, Lawrence could not trust himself to
sleep.  He was horribly weary, and ached all over with his long ride,
but he could not rest.  There was that open window close to the ground,
and it seemed to him to offer great facilities for a bloodthirsty man to
creep in and rob and murder, if he chose, before the sleepers could move
in their own defence.

It was a window that looked like a square patch of transparent
blackness, with a point or two of light in the far distance that he knew
were stars.  That was the danger, and he lay and watched it, listening
to the breathing of his friends.

The door gave him no concern, for Yussuf had stretched himself across it
after the fashion of a watchdog, and he too seemed to sleep.

How time went Lawrence could not tell, but he could not even doze, and
the time seemed terribly long.  His weariness increased, and, in
addition, he began to feel feverish, and his skin itched and tingled as
if every now and then an exquisitely fine needle had punctured it.

The restlessness and irritation ceased not for a moment, and he realised
now that he must have caught same disease peculiar to the country.  A
fever, of course, but he knew enough of the laws of such complaints,
from his long life of sickness, to feel that this was not a regular
fever, for he perspired too freely, and his head was cool.

He tossed from side to side, but there was no rest, and when at last the
window faded from his sight, and he became insensible to what was going
on around him, he was still conscious of that peculiar irritation, that
prickled and itched and stung and burned, till he dreamed that he was
travelling through a stinging-nettle wood that led up to a square
window, through which a fierce-looking Turk armed with pistols and
dagger crept to come and rob him.

It was all dreadfully real, and, in the midst of his fear and agony, he
could not help feeling that he was foolish to wish that the Guilford
Street police-sergeant, whom he had so often seen stop by one particular
lamp-post at the corner to speak to one of his men, would come now, for
he had a sensation that this must be quite out of his beat.

And all the time the fierce-looking Turk was coming nearer, and at last
seized him, and spoke in a low whisper.

He saw all this mentally, for his eyes were closed; but, as he opened
them and gazed upwards, a broad band of pale light came through the
square window, falling right on the stern face of the Turk as he bent
over him just as he had fancied in his sleep.

For the moment he was about to speak.  Then he calmed down and uttered a
sigh as he realised the truth.

"Is that you, Yussuf?" he said.

"Yes," was the reply.  "It is morning, and I thought you might like to
see the sun rise from the mountain here."

"Yes, I should," said Lawrence, uttering another sigh full of relief;
"but I am not well.  I itch and burn--my neck, my face, my arms."

"Yes," said Yussuf sadly, as if speaking of a trouble that was
inevitable.

"Is it a fever coming on?"

"Fever?" said Yussuf smiling; "oh, no! the place swarms with nasty
little insects.  These rugs are full."

"Ugh!" ejaculated Lawrence, jumping up and giving himself a rub and a
shake.  "How horrid, to be sure!"

Yussuf would not let him go far from the house, merely led him to a spot
where the view was clear, and then let him gaze for a few minutes as the
great orange globe rolled up and gilded the mists that lay in the
hollows among the hills.  Then he returned to the house and prepared the
scanty breakfast, of which they partook before going off in search of
the missing baggage-horses and their load.

Three hours were consumed in seeking out the spot where the man who had
charge of the two animals had gone from his right path.  It was very
natural for him to have done so, for the road forked here, and he
pursued that which seemed the most beaten way.  Down here he had
journeyed for hours, and when at last he had come to the conclusion that
he had gone wrong, instead of turning back he had calmly accepted his
fate, unloaded the animals, made himself a fire out of the abundant wood
that lay around, and there he waited patiently until he was found.

It was a hindrance so soon after their starting; but Yussuf seemed to
set so good an example of patience and forbearance that the professor
followed it, and Mr Burne was compelled to accept the position.

"We shall have plenty of such drawbacks," Mr Preston said; "and we must
recollect that we are not in the land of time-tables and express
trains."

"We seem to be in the land of no tables at all, not even chairs,"
grumbled Mr Burne; "but there, I don't complain.  Go on just as you
please.  I'll keep all my complaints till I get back, and then put them
in a big book."

A week of steady slow travelling ensued, during which time they were
continually journeying in and out among the mountains, following rough
tracks, or roads as they were called, whose course had been suggested by
that of the streams that wandered between the hills.  Often enough the
way was the dried-up bed of some torrent, amidst whose boulders the
patient little Turkish horses picked their way in the most sure-footed
manner.

It was along such a track as this that they were going in single file
one day, for some particular reason that was apparently known only to
the professor and Yussuf.  They seemed to be deep down in the earth, for
the rift along which they travelled was not above twenty feet wide, and
on the one side the rock rose up nearly three thousand feet almost
perpendicularly, while, on the other, where it was not perpendicular, it
appeared to overhang.

Now and then it opened out a little more.  Then it contracted, and
seemed as if ere long the sides of the ravine would touch; but always
when it came to this, it opened out directly after.

The heat was intense, for there was not a breath of wind.  The gully was
perfectly dry, and wherever there was a patch of greenery, it was fifty,
a hundred, perhaps a thousand feet above their heads.

"How much farther is it to the village where we shall stop for the
night?" said the old lawyer, pausing to mop his forehead.

"There is no village that we shall stop at, effendi," said Yussuf
quietly.  "We go on a little more, and then we shall have reached the
remains that Mr Preston wishes to see."

"Bless my heart!" panted the old gentleman.  "You are killing that boy."

"I am quite well," said Lawrence smiling, "only hot and thirsty.  I want
to see the ruins."

"Oh, go on," cried Mr Burne.  "Don't stop for me."

Just then they were proceeding along a more open and sunny part when the
professor's horse in front suddenly shied, swerved round, and darted
back, throwing his rider pretty heavily.

"Mind, sir!  Take care!" shouted Yussuf.

"What's the good of telling a man to take care when he is down?" cried
Mr Burne angrily; and he tried to urge his horse forward, but it
refused to stir, while Lawrence's had behaved in precisely the same
manner, and stood shivering and snorting.

"Your gun, sir, quickly!" exclaimed Yussuf.

"What is it?  Robbers?" cried Mr Burne excitedly as he handed the guide
his double-barrelled fowling-piece.

"No, sir; one of the evil beasts which haunt these valleys and slopes.
Is the gun loaded, sir?"

"Loaded?  No, man.  Do you suppose I want to shoot somebody?"

"Quick, sir!  The charges!" whispered Yussuf; and when, after much
fumbling, Mr Burne had forced his hand into his cartridge-bag, Yussuf
was closing the breech of the gun, having loaded it with a couple of
cartridges handed by Lawrence, who had rapidly dismounted and drawn his
sword.

It was evident that Mr Preston was stunned by the fall, for he lay
motionless on one side of the ravine among the stones.

"No, no, stop!" cried Yussuf as Lawrence was making his way towards the
professor.

The lad involuntarily obeyed, and waited breathless to see what would
follow, as Yussuf advanced cautiously, gun in hand, his dark eyes
rolling from side to side in search of the danger.

For some minutes he could see nothing.  Then, all at once, they saw him
raise the gun to his shoulder, take a quick aim and fire, when the
horses started, and would have dashed off back, but for the fact that
they were arrested by the way being blocked by the baggage animals and
Mr Burne.

As the gun was fired its report was magnified a hundredfold, and went
rolling along in a series of peals like thunder, while the faint blue
smoke rose over where Yussuf stood leaning forward and gazing at some
broken stones.

Then all at once he raised the gun again as if to fire, but lowered it
with a smile, and walked forward to spurn something with his foot, and
upon Lawrence reaching him it was to find him turning over a
black-looking serpent of about six feet long, with a short thin tail,
the body of the reptile being very thick in proportion to its length.
Upon turning it over the Muslim pointed out that it had a peculiar
reddish throat, and he declared it to be of a very poisonous kind.

"How do you know it to be poisonous?" said Mr Preston, who had, unseen
by them, risen from where he had been thrown.

"Oh, Mr Preston, are you much hurt?" cried Lawrence.

"I must say I am hurt," said the professor smiling.  "A heavy man like
me cannot fall from his horse and strike his head against the stones
without suffering.  But there, it is nothing serious.  How do you know
that is a poisonous snake, Yussuf?"

"I have been told of people being bitten by them, effendi, and some have
died; but I should have said that it was dangerous as soon as I saw the
horse shrink from it.  Animals do not generally show such horror unless
they know that there is danger."

"I don't think you are right about the horses," said the professor
quietly, "for they are terrible cowards in their way; but I think you
are right about the snake.  Serpents that are formed like this, with the
thick, sluggish-looking shape, and that peculiar short tail, are mostly
venomous.  Well, this one will do no more mischief, Burne."

"No.  Nasty brute!" said the old lawyer, gazing down at the reptile
after coaxing his horse forward.  "What are you going to do, Yussuf?"

"Make sure that it will not bite any of the faithful," said the guide
slowly; and drawing his knife he thrust the reptile into a convenient
position, and, after cutting off its head, tossed the still writhing
body to the side of the ravine.

This incident at an end, they all mounted again and rode on, Yussuf in
the middle, and Lawrence and Mr Preston, who declared himself better,
on either hand, till, at the end of about an hour, the latter said
quickly:

"Do you think you are right, Yussuf?  These ravines are so much alike.
Surely you must have made a mistake."

"If I am right," replied Yussuf, pointing forward, "there is a spring of
clear water gushing out at the foot of that steep rock."

"And there is none, I think," said the professor, "or it would be
running this way."

"If it did not run another, effendi," said Yussuf grimly.  "Yes: I am
right.  There is the opening of the little valley down which the stream
runs, and the ruined rock-dwellings are just beyond."

If there had been any doubt as to their guide's knowledge it would have
been set aside by the horses, for Mr Burne suddenly uttered a warning
shout, and, looking back, they saw the two baggage animals coming along
at a sharp pace, which was immediately participated in by the rest of
the horses, all trotting forward as fast as the nature of the ground
would allow to get to a patch of green that showed at the foot of a
great rock; and upon reaching it, there, as Yussuf had said, was a
copious stream, which came spouting out from a crevice in the rock,
clear, cool, and delicious, for the refreshment of all.

The horses and baggage were left here in charge of the driver, and,
following Yussuf, the little party were soon after at the foot of a very
rugged precipice, the guide pointing upwards, and exclaiming:

"Behold, effendi, it is as I said."

For a few moments they all gazed upwards, seeing nothing but what
appeared to be the rugged face of the cliff; but soon the eye began to
make out a kind of order here and there, and that rugged ranges of
stones had been built up on shelves of the rock, with windows and doors,
but as far as could be made out these rock-dwellings had been roofless;
and were more like fortifications than anything else, the professor
said.

"Yes, effendi," said Yussuf gravely, "strongholds, but dwelling-places
as well.  People had to live in spots where they would be safe in those
days.  Are you going to climb up?"

"Certainly," was the reply.

"That is well, for up beyond there is a way to an old temple, and a
number of caves where people must have been living."

"But where is the road up?" said Lawrence.

"Along that rough ledge," replied Yussuf.  "I will go first.  Would it
not be better if the young effendi stayed below?  The height is great,
the road dangerous; and not only is it hot, but there are many serpents
up among the ledges of the rock."

"What do you say, Lawrence?" said the professor.

"He is going to stop down with me," said Mr Burne shortly.

"No, sir; I am going up," replied Lawrence.  "I may never be able to see
such wonders as these again."

"But, my dear boy, if you climb up here, I must go too," cried Mr
Burne.

"Come along, then, sir," cried Lawrence laughing; "the place looks so
interesting I would not miss going up for the world."

"Humph!  I know I shall be broken before I've done," muttered Mr Burne,
taking out his handkerchief for a good blow; but glancing back in the
direction where they had left the horses, he altered his mind, as if he
dreaded the consequences, and replacing the silken square, he uttered a
low sigh, and prepared to climb.



CHAPTER TWENTY.

THE ANCIENT DWELLINGS.

"Look here; stop a minute," said Mr Burne; "if we've got to climb up
that break-neck place, hadn't we better leave these guns and things at
the bottom, so as to have our hands clear?"

"No--no--no," exclaimed Yussuf impatiently; "a man in this country
should never leave his weapons out of his reach."

"Bah! what nonsense, sir!  Anyone would think we were at sea again, or
in a country where there are no laws."

"There are plenty of laws, Burne," said the professor, "but we are
getting out of their reach."

"Highwaymen and footpads about, I suppose?" said the old lawyer
mockingly.  "My dear sir, don't put such romantic notions into the boy's
head.  This is not Hounslow Heath.  I suppose you will want to make me
believe next that there are bands of robbers close at hand, with a
captain whose belt is stuck full of pistols--eh, Yussuf?"

"Oh, yes, sir," said their guide quietly.  "I should not be surprised.
There are plenty of brigands in the mountains."

"Rubbish, sir; stuff, sir; nonsense, sir!"

"It is true, sir," replied Yussuf sturdily.

"Then what do you mean, sir, if it is true, by bringing us into such a
place as this?"

Yussuf stared at him wonderingly; and Lawrence burst into a hearty fit
of laughter.

"Come, come, Burne," cried the professor; "if anyone is to blame, it is
I.  Of course, this country is in a very lawless state, but all we have
to do is to preserve a bold front.  Come along; we are wasting time."

Yussuf smiled and nodded, and led the way up over the crumbling stones,
climbing and pointing out the easiest paths, till they were at the first
ledge, and were able to inspect the first group of cliff-dwellings,
which proved to be strongly built roofless places, evidently of vast
antiquity, and everywhere suggesting that the people who had dwelt in
them had been those who lived in very troublous times, when one of the
first things to think about in a home was safety, for enemies must have
abounded on every side.

For about a couple of hours the professor examined, and climbed, and
turned over stones, finding here and there rough fragments of pottery,
while Mr Burne settled himself down in a shady corner and had a nap.

Yussuf was indefatigable, moving fragments of rock and trying to
contrive ways off the giddy slope to another group of the strange old
edifices, to which in due time, and not without some risk, the professor
and Lawrence climbed.  But there was nothing more to reward them than
they had found below, only that the wisdom of the choice of the old
occupants was evident, for just as the professor had come to the
conclusion that the people who made these their strongholds must have
been at the mercy of the enemies who seized upon the spring down below
in the ravine, they came upon proof that there was plenty of foresight
exercised, and that these ancient inhabitants had arranged so as not to
be forced to surrender from thirst.

It was Lawrence who made the discovery, for having climbed a little
higher up the cliff face to a fresh ledge, he called to the professor to
follow, and upon his reaching the spot, a great niche right in the
cliff, deep and completely hidden, there were the remains of a
roughly-made tank or reservoir, formed by simply building a low wall of
stones and cement across the mouth, when it was evident that the water
that came down from above in rainy weather would be caught and preserved
for use.

It was all intensely interesting to everyone but Mr Burne, who could
not get up any enthusiasm on the subject of whom these people were, and
excused himself from climbing higher on account of his back.

They descended at length, and Mr Burne sighed with satisfaction; but
Yussuf had more wonders of the past to show the travellers, pointing out
a narrow path that ran diagonally up the side of the gully, and assuring
the party that if they only made up their minds to ascend bravely there
was no danger.

Again it was suggested that Mr Burne should sit down and wait; but the
only effect of this was to make him obstinate; and he started forward
and followed Yussuf up the steep path.

It was decidedly dangerous in places where the stones had crumbled away,
and a slip must have resulted in a terrible fall; but all got well over
the perilous parts, and at last they climbed to a platform on the side
of the huge rocky mass, where the low crumbling walls showed where a
kind of temple had once stood.  Here they had an opportunity of gazing
down into a valley that was one mass of glorious verdure, through which
dashed a torrent, whose waters flashed and glittered where the sunbeams
pierced the overhanging trees, and made the scene one of the most
beautiful they had seen.

There were more wonders yet, for the face of the rock was honey-combed
with caverns which ran in a great distance, forming passages and
chambers connected one with the other.

These had evidently been inhabited, for there were marks of tools
showing how they had been enlarged, and curious well-like arrangements
which suggested tanks; but Yussuf assured the travellers that these
holes in the natural rock were used as stores for grain, this being the
manner in which it was stored or buried to the present day.

"There," cried Mr Burne, as they came out of the last cave, and stood
once more upon the platform of rock by the ruins, and had a glorious
panorama of the defile below--"there, I've been as patient as can be
with you, but now it's my turn.  What I say is, that we must go back to
camp at once, and have a rest and a good lunch."

"Agreed," said Mr Preston.  "You have been patient.  What is it,
Yussuf?" he cried suddenly, as he saw the guide gazing intently down at
something about half a mile away, far along the winding defile.

"Travellers," said Yussuf; and in that wild, almost uninhabited region,
the appearance of fellow-creatures excited curiosity.

They were only seen for a few minutes before the party of mounted and
unmounted men with their baggage were seen to curve round a bold mass of
rock, and disappear into a narrow valley that turned off almost at right
angles to that by which they had come.

The descent proved more difficult than the ascent, and Mr Burne made
several attempts to plunge down or slide amongst the debris instead of
trusting to his feet; but these accidents were foreseen, and checked by
Yussuf, who went in front, and at the first sound of a slip threw
himself down and clung to the rock, making himself a check or drag upon
the old lawyer's progress.

They reached the bottom at last safely, but heated and weary with the
long and arduous descent.

Once on tolerably level ground in the bottom of the defile, however,
their progress was easy, and, with the anticipation of long hearty
drinks at the clear spring, and a good meal from the store on the
pack-horses' backs, they strode on bravely in spite of the heat.  The
track up to the cliff-dwellings was passed; but now that they were
weary, the way seemed to be twice as far as when they were going in the
morning, and the defile looked so different upon the return journey that
at last Lawrence asked with a wistful look whether they had missed the
spring.

Yussuf smiled and replied that it was below, and not far distant now,
and a few minutes later they turned an angle in the defile, and came in
full view of the patch of verdure that marked its presence in the
sterile stony gorge.

"Hah!" ejaculated Mr Burne, "it makes one know the value of water,
travelling in a land like this.  Only fancy how clear and cold and
refreshing it will be."

He nodded and smiled, for it was his custom after having been in any way
unamiable to try and make up for it by pleasant remarks and jocularity.

"Yes," said Mr Preston; "it does indeed.  This mountain air, too, gives
one an appetite--eh, Lawrence?"

"Is that curious feeling one has appetite?" said the lad.  "I fancied
that I was not well."

"But you feel as if you could eat?"

"Oh, yes; a great deal," cried the boy, "and I shall be glad to begin."

"Then it is hunger," said the professor laughing.  "Eh, what?"

This last was in answer to some words uttered loudly by Yussuf, who had
walked swiftly on, and entered the little depression where they had left
the man with the horses.

"Gone, excellency, gone!" he cried excitedly, for the place was empty;
the six horses and the man were not visible.

The little party stood gazing wonderingly at each other.

The water was there, gushing with great force from beneath the towering
mass of rock; but their supply of food, their means of progression, the
man whom they had engaged--where were they?

Yussuf stood with his hands clenched, and his brow contracted, gazing
down at the ground.

Mr Preston looked down the valley in the direction by which they had
come that morning.

Mr Burne took out his box, partook of a large pinch of snuff, and blew
his nose violently.

Lawrence walked to the spring, stooped down, and began drinking, dipping
up a little water at a time in the hollow of his hand.

Then there was a few moments' silence, and the professor spoke.

"It is very vexatious, just when we were so hungry, but it is plain
enough.  Something has startled the horses.  Your Ali Baba, Lawrence,
has been biting them, and they have all gone off back, and Hamed has
followed to catch them.  There, let's have a draught of spring water and
trudge back."

"Humph! yes," said Mr Burne hopefully.  "We may meet them coming back
before long."

They each drank and rose refreshed.

"Come, Yussuf," said the professor.  "This way."

"No, effendi," he exclaimed sharply; "not that way, but this."

"What do you mean?" cried Mr Preston, for the guide pointed up the
ravine instead of down.

"The horses have not been frightened, but have been stolen--carried
off."

"Nonsense, man!" cried Mr Burne.

"See!" said Yussuf, pointing to the soil moistened by the stream that
ran from the source, "the horses have gone along this little valley by
the side of the stream--here are their hoof-marks--and come out again
higher up beyond this ridge of the mountain.  Yes: I know.  The valleys
join again there beyond where we were to-day, and I ought to have known
it," he cried, stamping his foot.

"Known?  Known what, man?" cried Mr Burne angrily.

"That those men, who I said were travellers, were the robbers, who have
seized our horses, and carried everything off into the hills."



CHAPTER TWENTY ONE.

A SKIRMISH.

"This is a pretty state of affairs," cried Mr Burne, opening and
shutting his snuff-box to make it snap.  "Now, what's to be done?"

"Tramp to the nearest village, I suppose, and buy more," replied the
professor coolly, "We must expect reverses.  This is one."

"Hang your reverses, man!  I don't expect and I will not have them, if I
can help it--serves us right for not watching over our baggage."

"Well, Yussuf, I suppose you are right," said the professor.

"Yes, effendi.  What is to be done?"

"What I say."

"Yes; what you say," replied the Turk frowning; "and he is so young.  We
are only three."

"What are you thinking, Yussuf?"

"That it makes my blood boil, effendi, to be robbed; and I feel that we
ought to follow and punish the dogs.  They are cowards, and would fly.
A robber always shrinks from the man who faces him boldly."

"And you would follow them, Yussuf?"

"If your excellency would," he said eagerly.

The grave quiet professor's face flushed, his eyes brightened, and for a
few moments he felt as if his youthful days had come back, when he was
one of the leaders in his college in athletics, and had more than once
been in a town-and-gown row.  All this before he had settled down into
the heavy serious absent-minded student.  There was now a curious
tingling in his nerves, and he felt ready to agree to anything that
would result in the punishment of the cowardly thieves who had left them
in such a predicament; but just then his eyes fell upon Lawrence's
slight delicate figure, and from that they ranged to the face of Mr
Burne, and he was the grave professor again.

"Why, Preston," said the old lawyer, "you looked as if you meant
fighting."

"But I do not," he replied.  "Discretion is the better part of valour,
they say."  Then, turning to Yussuf--"What is the nearest place to where
we are now?"

Yussuf's face changed.  There was a look of disappointment in it for a
few moments, but he turned grave and calm as usual, as he said:

"There is a village right up the valley, excellency.  It is partly in
the way taken by the robbers, but they will be far distant by now.  They
are riding and we are afoot."

"But is it far?"

"Half the distance that it would be were we to return to the place we
left this morning."

"Forward, then.  Come, Lawrence, you must walk as far as you can, and
then I will stay with you, and we will send the others forward for
help."

"I do not feel so tired now," said the lad.  "I am ready."

Yussuf took the lead again and they set off, walking steadily on
straight past the cliff-dwellings, and the ruins by the cave, till they
reached the spot in the beautifully-wooded vale where, from far above,
they had seen the horsemen pass, little thinking at the time that they
were bearing off their strong helps to a journey through the mountains,
and all the food.

Here the beaten track curved off to the left, and the traces left by the
horses were plain enough to see, for there was a little patch of marshy
ground made by a little spring here, and this they had passed, Yussuf
eagerly scanning them, and making out that somewhere about twelve horses
had crossed here, and there were also the footprints of five or six men.

"If we go this way we may overtake the scoundrels," said the old lawyer,
"but it will not do.  Yussuf, I am a man of peace, and I should prove to
be a very poor creature in another fight.  I had quite enough to last me
the rest of my life on board that boat.  Here, let's rest a few hours."

"No, excellency; we must go on, even if it is slowly.  This part of the
valley is marshy, and there are fevers caught here.  I have been along
here twice, and there is a narrow track over that shoulder of the
mountain that we can easily follow afoot, though we could not take
horses.  It is far shorter, too.  Can the young effendi walk so far?"

Lawrence declared that he could, for the mountain air gave him strength.
So they left the beaten track, to continue along a narrow water-course
for a couple of miles, and then rapidly ascend the side of one of the
vast masses of cliff, the path being literally a shelf in places not
more than a foot wide, with the mountain on their left rising up like a
wall, and on their right the rock sank right down to the stream, which
gurgled among the masses of stone which had fallen from above, a couple
of hundred feet below them and quite out of sight.

"'Pon my word, Yussuf, this is a pretty sort of a place!" panted Mr
Burne.  "Hang it, man!  It is dangerous."

"There is no danger, effendi, if you do not think of danger."

"But I do think of danger, sir.  Why, bless my heart, sir, there isn't
room for a man to turn round and comfortably blow his nose."

"There is plenty of room for the feet, effendi," replied Yussuf; "the
path is level, and if you will think of the beautiful rocks, and hills,
and listen to the birds singing below there, where the stream is
foaming, and the bushes grow amongst the rocks, there is no danger."

"But I can't think about the beauty of all these things, Yussuf, my man,
and I can only think I am going to turn giddy, and that my feet are
about to slip."

"Why should you, effendi?" replied the Turk gravely.  "Is it not given
to man to be calm and confident, and to walk bravely on, in such places
as this?  He can train himself to go through what is dangerous to the
timid without risk.  Look at the young effendi!" he added in a whisper;
"he sees no danger upon the path."

"Upon my word!  Really!  Bless my heart!  I say, Preston, do you hear
how this fellow is talking to me?"

"Yes, I hear," replied the professor.  "He is quite right."

"Quite right!"

"Certainly.  I have several times over felt nervous, both in our climb
this morning, and since we have been up here; but I feel now as if I
have mastered my timidity, and I do not mind the path half so much as I
did."

"Then I've got your share and my own, and--now, just look at that boy.
It is absurd."

"What is absurd?" said the professor quietly.

"Why, to see him walking on like that.  Ill!  Invalid!  He is an
impostor."

The professor smiled.

"I say, is it safe to let him go on like that?"

"So long as he feels no fear.  See how confident he is!" said Mr
Preston.

Just then Lawrence stopped for the others to overtake him.

"Have you noticed what beautiful white stone this is, Mr Preston?" he
said.

He pointed down at the path they were on, for every here and there the
rock was worn smooth and shiny by the action of the air and water,
perhaps, too, by the footsteps of men for thousands of years, and was
almost as white as snow.

"Yes," said the professor, "I have been making a mental note of it, and
wishing I had a geologist's hammer.  You know what it is, I suppose?"

"White stone, of course," said Mr Burne.

"Fine white marble," said the professor.

"Nonsense, sir!  What! in quantities like this?"

"To be sure."

"But it would be worth a large fortune in London."

"Exactly, and it is worth next to nothing here, because it could not be
got down to the sea-shore, and the carriage would be enormous."

"What a pity!" exclaimed the old lawyer.  "Dear me!  Fine white marble!
So it is.  What a company one might get up.  The Asia Minor Major Marble
Quarry Company--eh, Preston?"

"Yes, in hundred-pound shares that would be worth nothing."

"Humph!  I suppose not.  Well, never mind.  I'd rather have a chicken
pie and a loaf of bread now than all the marble in the universe.  Let's
get on."

Their progress was slow, for in spite of all that Yussuf had said they
had to exercise a great deal of care, especially as the narrow track
rose higher and higher, till they were at a dizzy height above the
little stream, whose source they passed just as the sun was getting low;
and then their way lay between two steep cliffs; and next round a sunny
slope that was dotted with huge walnut-trees, the soil being; evidently
deep and moist consequent upon a spring that crossed their path.

The trees were of great girth, but not lofty, and a peculiarity about
them was that they were ill-grown, and gnarled and knotted in a way that
made them seem as if they were diseased.  For every now and then one of
them displayed a huge lump or boss, such as is sometimes seen upon elms
at home.

"There's another little fortune there, Burne," said the professor
quietly.

"Nonsense, sir!  There isn't a tree in the lot out of which you could
cut a good board.  Might do for gun-stocks."

"My dear Burne," said the professor, "don't you know that these large
ugly bosses go to Europe to be steamed till they are soft, and then
shaved off into leaves as thin almost as coarse brown paper, and then
used and polished for all our handsome pianofortes?"

"No," said Mr Burne shortly, "I didn't know it, and I didn't want to
know it.  I'm starving, and my back is getting bad again.  Here, Yussuf,
how much farther is it?"

"Two hours' journey, excellency; but as soon as we reach that gap in the
rocks we come to a road that leads directly to the village, and the
walking will be easier."

"Hadn't we better try and shoot a bird or an animal, and make a fire
under those trees, and see if we can find some walnuts?  I must eat
something.  I cannot devour snuff!"

The professor smiled.

"There is nothing to shoot," he said; "and as to the walnuts, they are
very nice after dinner with wine, but for a meal--"

"Here, Lawrence, you are tired out, my boy," cried Mr Burne
interrupting.

"Yes, I am very tired," said Lawrence, "but I can go on."

"It is dreary work to rest without food," said Yussuf, "but it might be
better to get on to the spring yonder, and pick out a sheltered place
among the rocks, where we could lie down and sleep for a few hours, till
the moon rises, and then continue our journey."

"That's the plan, Yussuf; agreed _nem con_," cried Mr Burne.

"Perhaps it will be best," said Mr Preston, and they journeyed on for
another half hour, till they reached the gap which their guide had
pointed out, one which proved to be the embouchure of another ravine,
along the bottom of which meandered a rough road that had probably never
been repaired since the Romans ruled the land.

"Let us go a little way in," said Yussuf; "we shall then be sheltered
from the wind.  It will blow coldly when the sun has set."

He led the way into a wild and awful-looking chasm, for the shadows were
growing deeper, and to the weary and hungry travellers the place had a
strangely forbidding look, suggestive of hidden dangers.  But for the
calm and confident way in which Yussuf marched forward, the others would
have hesitated to plunge into a gorge of so weird a character, until the
sun had lightened its gloomy depths.

"I think this will do," said Yussuf, as they turned an angle about a
couple of hundred yards from the entrance.  "I will climb up here first.
These rocks look cave-like and offer shelter.  Hist!"

He held up his hand, for a trampling sound seemed to come from the face
of the rocks a couple of hundred feet above them, and all involuntarily
turned to gaze up at a spot where the shadows were blackest.

All except Yussuf, who gazed straight onward into the ravine.

It was strange.  There was quite a precipice up there, and it was
impossible for people to be walking.  What was more strange, there was
the trampling of horses' feet, and then it struck the professor that
they were listening to the echoes of the sounds made by a party some
distance in.

"How lucky!" said Mr Burne.  "People coming.  We shall get something to
eat."

"Hush, effendi!" said Yussuf sternly.  "These may not be friends."

"What?" exclaimed Mr Burne, cocking his gun.

"Yes; that is right, excellencies; look to your arms.  If they are
friends there is no harm done.  They will respect us the more.  If they
are enemies, we must be prepared."

"Stop!" said Mr Preston, glancing at Lawrence.  "We must hide or run."

"There is time for neither, effendi," said Yussuf, taking out his
revolver.  "They will be upon us in a minute, and to run would be to
draw their fire upon us."

"Run!" exclaimed Mr Burne; "no, sir.  As I'm an Englishman I won't run.
If it was Napoleon Bonaparte and his army coming, and these were the
Alps, I would not run now, hungry as I am, and I certainly will not go
for a set of Turkish ragamuffins or Greeks."

"Then, stand firm here, excellencies, behind these stones.  They are
mounted; we are afoot."

The little party had hardly taken their places in the shadow cast by a
rock, when a group of horse and footmen came into sight.  They were
about fourteen or fifteen in number apparently, some mounted, some
afoot, and low down in that deep gorge the darkness was coming on so
fast that it was only possible to see that they were roughly clad and
carried guns.

They came on at a steady walk, talking loudly, their horses' hoofs
ringing on the stony road, and quite unconscious of anyone being close
beside the path they were taking till they were within some forty yards,
when a man who was in front suddenly caught sight of the group behind
the rocks, checked his horse, uttered a warning cry, and the next moment
ample proof was given that they were either enemies or timid travellers,
who took the party by the rocks for deadly foes.

For all at once the gloomy gorge was lit by the flashes of pretty well a
dozen muskets, the rocks echoed the scattered volley, and magnified it
fifty-fold, and then, with a yell, the company came galloping down, to
rush past and reach the open slope beyond.

How it all happened neither Mr Burne nor the professor could fully have
explained.  It must have been the effect of Yussuf's example, for, as
the bullets flew harmlessly over the party's head, he replied with shot
after shot from his revolver, discharging it at the attacking group.  As
he fired his second shot, Mr Burne's fowling-piece went off, both
barrels almost together, and the professor and Lawrence both fired as
the group reached them, and after them, as it passed and went thundering
by and down the slope out beyond the entrance to the gorge.

"Load again quickly," cried the professor; "they may return.  There is
one poor wretch down."

His command was obeyed, empty cartridges thrown out and fresh ones
inserted; but the trampling of horses' hoofs was continued, and
gradually grew more faint, as the little party descended from their
improvised fort.  They ran down, for something curious had occurred.

As the band of horsemen charged, their company seemed to divide in two,
and the cause appeared to be this:

One of the mounted men was seen to fall from his saddle and hang by the
stirrup, when his horse, instead of galloping on, stopped short, and
five other horses that were seen to be riderless stopped, after going
fifty yards, and cantered back to their companion and huddled round him.

"Why, there's Ali Baba!" cried Lawrence excitedly, as he ran down and
caught his little steed by the bridle.

"And the pack-horses!" cried Mr Burne quite as excitedly, as he
followed.

"Enemies, not friends, effendi," said Yussuf quickly.

For all had seen at once now that they had recovered their lost horses,
it being evident that the travellers, by taking the short cut, had got
ahead of the marauding band, for such they seemed to be; and they had
possibly made the task the easier by halting somewhere on the way to let
their horses feed.

But there was another cause for the horses keeping together, and not
following those of the strangers in their headlong flight, for, on
coming up, the reason for the first one stopping was perfectly plain.
Hamed, the pack-horse driver, had been made prisoner, and, poor fellow!
secured by having his ankles bound together by a rope which passed
beneath the horse's girths.  When the charge had been made he had
slipped sidewise, being unable to keep his seat, and gone down beneath
his horse, with the result that the docile, well-trained animal stopped
at once, and then its comrades had halted and cantered back.

"Is he much hurt, Preston?" said Mr Burne eagerly, as the professor
supported the poor fellow, while Yussuf drew out his dagger and cut the
rope.

"I cannot say yet.  Keep your eyes on the mouth of the gorge, and fire
at once if the scoundrels show again."

"They will not show again, effendi," said Yussuf.  "They are too much
scared.  That's better.  The horses will stand.  They know us now.  Take
hold of your bridle, Mr Lawrence, and the others will be sure to stay."

Lawrence obeyed, and rested his piece on the horse's back, standing
beside him and watching the mouth of the defile, while the others
carried the injured man to the side and laid him down, the professor
taking out his flask which was filled with spirit.

"Yes," said Yussuf, acquiescing.  "It is not a drink for a true
believer, but it is a wonderful medicine, effendi."

So it proved, for soon after a little had been poured down Hamed's
throat the poor fellow opened his eyes and smiled.

"It is your excellencies!" he said in his native tongue; and upon Yussuf
questioning him, he told them faintly that he was not much hurt, only a
little stunned.  That he was seated by the fount, with his horses
grazing, when the band of armed men rode up, and one of them struck him
over the head with the barrel of his musket, and when he recovered
somewhat he found himself a prisoner, with his legs tied as he was
found, and the horses led and driven down a narrow defile, out of which
they had made their way into a forest of shady trees.  Later on they had
made a halt for a couple of hours, and then continued their journey,
which was brought to an end, as far as he was concerned, by his falling
beneath his horse.

"What is to be done now?" said the professor.

"Eat," exclaimed Mr Burne, "even if we have to fight directly after
dinner."

"The effendi is right," said Yussuf smiling.  "If we go on, we may fall
into a trap.  If we go back a little way here till we find a suitable
spot, the enemy will not dare to come and attack us in the dark.  Can
you walk, Hamed?"

The poor fellow tried to rise, but his ankles were perfectly numbed, and
there was nothing for it but to help him up on one of the horses, and go
back farther into the gloomy ravine, which was perfectly black by the
time they had found a likely place for their bivouac, where the horses
would be safe as well, and this done, one of the packs was taken down
from its bearer and a hearty meal made by all, Yussuf eating as he kept
guard with Lawrence's gun, while Hamed was well enough to play his part
feebly, as the horses rejoiced in a good feed of barley apiece.



CHAPTER TWENTY TWO.

THE USE OF A STRAW HAT.

"There," said Mr Burne, as he lit a cigar, and sat with his back to a
stone; "if anybody in Fleet Street, or at my club, had told me I could
have such an adventure as this, I should have said--" Here he paused.

"What, Mr Burne?" asked Lawrence after a time.

"Tarradiddle!" replied the old gentleman shortly, and he took out his
handkerchief to blow his nose, but promptly suppressed the act, and
said:

"No; wait till we get somewhere that is likely to be safe."

That word "safe" occurred to everybody in the silence of that dark and
solemn gorge, whose sombre aspect was enough to daunt the most
courageous; but somehow that night, in spite of the riskiness of their
position, no one felt much alarmed.

There were several things which combined to make them feel cheerful.
One was the company, for the knowledge of being there with a trusty
companion on either side was encouraging.

Then there was the calm confidence given by the knowledge that their
enemies had run from them like a flock of sheep before a dog.

Lastly, there were the satisfactory sensations produced by the recovery
of their horses and belongings, and consequent enjoyment of a good meal.

Taken altogether, then, after proper arrangements had been made to
secure the horses, and for a watch being kept, no scruple was felt about
lying down to sleep, everyone with his weapons ready for use in case of
an attack, which after all was not greatly feared.

Lawrence wanted to take his turn at keeping guard, but the professor
forbade it.

"No," he said; "you have done your day's work.  Sleep and grow strong.
You will help us best by getting vigorous;" and hence it was that the
lad lay down in the solemn stillness of the vast place, gazing up at the
stars, which seemed dazzlingly bright in the dark sky, and then it
seemed to him that he closed his eyes for a moment, and opened them
again to see the mountain slopes bathed in sunshine, while the birds
were twittering and piping, and the black desolate gorge of the previous
night was a scene of loveliness such as he could not have imagined
possible there.

"Shows the value of the sun, Lawrence," said the professor laughing;
"and what a fine thing it would be if some of our clever
experimentalists could contrive to bottle and condense enough sunshine
to last us all through the winters."

Just then Yussuf came up through the dewy grasses and flowers with
Lawrence's gun over his shoulder.

"Well," said the professor, "what next--a good breakfast, and then
start?"

"Yes, effendi," said the Turk, "but the other way."

"Other way?"

"Yes, effendi; the band of rascals are lying in ambush for us about a
mile distant."

"Are you sure?"

Yussuf smiled.

"I went out at the mouth of the ravine to observe," he said; "and I
could see nothing till, all at once, I saw a flash of light."

"Well?"

"Such a flash could only be reflected from a sword or gun."

"From water--a piece of glass--or crystal."

"No, excellency.  There is no water up on the mountain slope.  Pieces of
glass are not seen there, and a crystal must be cut and polished to send
forth such rays.  The enemy are waiting for us in a depression, out
there beyond the mouth of the plain, and we must go back the other way."

"Of course.  It will be safer.  But after a time they will follow us."

"I think I can stop that, effendi," said their guide smiling; and while
the horses were being loaded, and everything was being got ready for a
start, Yussuf took out his knife, and selecting from among the bushes a
good straight stick, he cut and trimmed it carefully till it was about
the length of a gun.

This done, he climbed up the ridge that screened them from the mouth of
the gorge, and, selecting a spot from whence a good view of the sloping
plain beyond could be obtained, he walked up and down for a few minutes.

After this he beckoned to the professor and the others to join him; and
as soon as they were there he drew their attention to a clump of bushes,
as they seemed, but which must have been trees, a couple of miles away,
though in that wondrously clear mountain air the distance did not seem
to be a quarter.

Mr Burne was nearest to the guide, in his straw hat, which he had
retained in safety so far through having it secured by a lanyard, but it
was growing very shabby, and was much out of shape from its soaking in
the sea.

The professor noticed that Yussuf--who was conspicuous in his red fez
skull-cap, about which was rolled a good deal of muslin in the form of a
turban or puggree--kept walking up and down on the edge of the ridge,
and pointing out to Mr Burne the beauty of the prospect, with the
distant ranges of snow-topped mountains, and the old lawyer kept on
nodding his satisfaction.

"Yes.  Very fine--very fine," he said; "but I want my breakfast."

"There!" exclaimed Mr Preston suddenly.  "I saw it yonder."

"The flash of light, effendi?" said Yussuf quietly.

"Yes.  And there again."

"I saw it then," said Lawrence quickly; and no one doubted now that
their guide was right.

After staying there for about a quarter of an hour Yussuf suggested that
as the horses were ready, breakfast should be hastily eaten and they
should start.  Consequently all went down, a hearty meal was made,
Yussuf taking his walking to and from the ridge to guard against
surprise, and then he approached Mr Burne to request him to give up his
straw hat.

"My straw hat!" exclaimed the old gentleman in astonishment.

"Yes, effendi," replied Yussuf.  "I propose to fasten it, after wearing
it for a few minutes and walking up and down, on one of the little
bushes at the top of the ridge, and to stick this little pole out by its
side."

"What! to look like a man on guard?" cried Lawrence eagerly.

"Yes," replied Yussuf.  "It will keep the enemy where they are watching
it for half the day, even if it does not keep them till evening before
they find out their mistake."

"Then, stick your turban there," said Mr Burne shortly.

"I would, effendi, if it would do as well, but it would not be so
striking, nor so likely to keep them away.  They might suspect it to be
a trick; but they would never think that an English effendi would leave
his hat in a place like that."

"And quite right, too," said the old lawyer with a snort.  "No; I shall
not expose my brains to the risk of sunstroke, sir.  Bah!  Pish!  Pooh!
Absurd!"

There was a shiver among the horses, and a disposition to start off
again, for Mr Burne blew another of his sonorous blasts; but the moment
he whisked out his yellow silk flag, the others, as if by instinct,
seized the horses' bridles and checked them in time.

"Pah!  Bless my heart!" ejaculated the old gentleman, as soon as he saw
what he had done.  "Here, Lawrence, you will have to take all my
pocket-handkerchiefs away till we get back to a civilised land."

"If the effendi would let me have his handkerchiefs I could make him a
turban to keep off the sun, or if he would condescend to wear my fez it
is at his service."

"Rubbish!  Stuff!" cried Mr Burne, taking off his battered straw hat,
which looked as if he had slept in it on the previous night, if not
before, and then sticking it on again at a fierce angle.  "Do I look
like a man, sir, who would wear a fez with a towel round it?  Hang it
all, sir, I am an Englishman."

Yussuf bowed.

"Why, he must think me mad, Lawrence."

"My dear Burne," said the professor smiling, "Yussuf is quite right.
Come, you might make that concession."

"Sir, do I look like a man who would wear a fez with a jack-towel
twisted round it?" cried Mr Burne in the most irate manner.

"You certainly do not, my dear Burne," said the professor laughing; "but
you do look like a man who would make any sacrifice for the benefit of
his party."

"Ah!  I thought as much," cried the old gentleman.  "Now you come round
me with carney.  There, Yussuf, take it," he cried, snatching off his
straw hat and sending it skimming through the air.  "Now, then, what
next?  Do you want my coat and boots to dress up your Guy Fawkes with?
Don't be modest, pray.  Have even my shirt too while you are about it."

He took five pinches of snuff in succession so close to Ali Baba that
the horse began to sneeze--or snort would be the better term.

Yussuf smiled, and took off his fez, from which he rapidly untwisted the
muslin folds.

"Your excellency will condescend to wear my fez?" he said.

"No, sir, I will not," cried Mr Burne.  "Certainly not."

"But your excellency may suffer from sunstroke," said Yussuf.  "I must
insist."

"You must what?" cried Mr Burne angrily.

"Insist, your excellency," replied Yussuf gravely.  "I am answerable for
your safety.  Your life, while I am in your service, is more than mine."

"And yet, sir, you brought me here, along a break-neck path, to fight
robbers yesterday.  Didn't they shoot at me?"

"I could not prevent that, excellency," said Yussuf smiling.  "I can
prevent you from being smitten by the sun.  Your handkerchief, please."

"Oh, all right!" exclaimed Mr Burne ruefully.  "I suppose I am nobody
at all here.  Take it.  Here are two."

"Hah!" ejaculated Yussuf smiling with satisfaction, and with all the
oriental's love of bright colours, as he took the two yellow silk
handkerchiefs, and rolled them loosely before arranging them in a
picturesque fashion round his bright scarlet fez, and handing the
head-dress back to Mr Burne.

"Humph!" ejaculated that gentleman, putting it on with a comical
expression of disgust in his countenance.  "Here, you, Lawrence, if you
dare to laugh at me, I'll never forgive you."

"Do, please, Mr Burne," cried the lad, "for I must laugh: I can't help
it."

So he did laugh, and the professor too, while the old lawyer gave an
angry stamp.

"Look here," said the professor; "shall I wear the fez, and you can take
my hat?"

"Stuff, sir! you know your head's twice as big as mine," cried Mr
Burne.

"Have mine, Mr Burne," said Lawrence.

"Bah! do you think I've got a stupid little head like you have.  No, I
shall wear the fez, and I hope we shall meet some English people.  It
will be a warning to them not to come out into such wild spots as this."

The fact was that the old gentleman looked thoroughly picturesque, while
Yussuf looked scarcely less so, as he rapidly turned the roll of muslin
which he had taken from his fez into a comfortable white head-dress and
put it on.

Then, taking the stick and the straw hat, he climbed up to the top of
the ridge, where they saw him shoulder the stick and walk to and fro as
if on guard, before rapidly arranging the hat upon the top of a little
cypress-tree, and placing the stick through the branches at a slope.

So cleverly was this done, that even from where the travellers stood
just below, the ruse was effective.  Seen from a quarter of a mile away
it must have been just like Mr Burne on sentry.

"There," said the old lawyer with comic anger, "worse and worse.  I am
being set up in effigy for these barbarians to laugh at."

"No," said the professor, "we are having the laugh at them."

Yussuf came down smiling after finishing his task, and then, a final
glance round having been given, and a look at the arms, they prepared to
mount.

One of the baggage-horses bore the grain used for their supply, and as a
good feed for six horses night and morning had somewhat reduced his
load, he was chosen to bear Hamed.

For the driver, in spite of the bold face he put upon the matter, was
quite unfit to walk.  The rough treatment he had received when his legs
were tied together had completely crippled him, and in addition his head
was injured by a kick from his horse when he fell.

The man was brave, though, as soon as he found that he was not to be
left behind, and all being now ready, Yussuf climbed the ridge once more
to see whether the enemy was approaching, and after peering just over
the edge, he descended, and they went on down the defile as fast as
their horses could walk.



CHAPTER TWENTY THREE.

THE PROFESSOR IS STARTLED.

It was an exciting flight, the more so from the fact that they were
obliged to keep on at a foot-pace because of the baggage-horses, when at
any moment they knew that the enemy might appear behind in full chase.
Certainly the road was bad, and it was only here and there that they
could have ventured upon a trot or canter; but this did not lessen the
anxiety that was felt.

A dozen times over the professor would have been glad to pause and
investigate some wonderful chasm or rift, but Yussuf was inexorable.  He
pointed out that it would be madness to stop, for at any time the enemy
might appear in sight, so Mr Preston had to resign himself to his fate.

It was the same when, during the heat of the afternoon, they came to the
ruins of a tower placed upon an angle in the defile quite a thousand
feet above the rough track, so as to command a good view in every
direction.  From where they stood it looked ancient enough to have been
erected far back in the days when the armies of Assyria or Egypt passed
through these gates of the country; certainly it was not later than the
Roman times.

"One might find inscriptions, perhaps, or something else to explain when
it was made," said the professor.  "Come, Yussuf, don't you think we
might stop and ascend here?"

"No, effendi," replied Yussuf sternly.  "Those dogs may be close upon
our track, and I cannot let you run risks.  We are not all men."

"Yussuf is perfectly right," said Mr Burne, who had become quite
reconciled to his fez with its gaudy roll of yellow silk; in fact, two
or three times over he had taken it off and held it up to examine it as
it rested on his fist.  "He is perfectly right," he repeated, "we do not
want to fight, unless driven to extremities, and discretion is the
better part of valour."

"Yes," said the professor, looking up longingly at the watch-tower,
"but--"

"Now, my dear Preston, you really must not run risks for the sake of a
few stones," cried the old lawyer.  "Come."

There was no help for it, so the professor sighed, and they rode slowly
on, with the heat growing more and more intense, till toward sundown,
when, about a hundred and fifty feet above the path, there was a cluster
of ruins, evidently of quite modern date, and among them a few old
fruit-trees, one of which, a plum, showed a good many purple fruit here
and there.

The lawyer made a peculiar noise with his mouth as he drew rein, the
others following his example.

"Now, there are some ruins that you might very well examine," he said,
pointing upwards with the barrel of his gun.  "Shall we dismount and
climb up?"

"To see these?" said the professor quietly; and then a change came over
his countenance, and he laughed softly as he turned round to look his
travelling companion in the face.  "Which stones do you want to look
at?" he said.

"Those, sir, those," cried Mr Burne fiercely.  "Can't you see?"

"No," said the professor smiling; "I do not know which you mean, whether
it is the building stones or the plum stones."

"Tchah!" ejaculated the old gentleman, with his face puckering up into a
comical grin.  "There, come along."

Yussuf smiled too as he rode on, and at the end of a few moments he said
gravely:

"The plums would not have been worth gathering, effendi.  They are a
bitter, sour kind."

"Grapes are too, when the fox cannot reach them--eh, Lawrence?"

No more was said, for every one was exhausted with the long slow ride.
The little wind there was came from behind, and they were wandering in
and out to such an extent that the soft mountain-breeze was completely
shut off, and the horses were beginning to suffer terribly now from want
of water to quench their burning thirst.

At last, in front, that for which they had been hoping to see appeared
to be at hand, for a patch of broad green bushes at the foot of a rock
told plainly that their fresh growth must be the result of abundant
watering at the roots, and, pressing onward, to their delight the horses
proved the correctness of their belief by breaking into a canter, and
soon carrying them to where the defile ended in one of larger extent, at
whose junction a spring of clear water gushed from the foot of a rock,
and Lawrence cried eagerly:

"Why, this is the old place where we left Hamed!"

And so it proved to be.

Here, pursued or not, it was absolutely necessary to stop and recruit
the horses, even if they had been prepared to suffer themselves; so a
halt was made, one of the party took it in turn to be sentry, and the
package containing provision was undone, the horses finding plenty of
herbage to satisfy their wants.

Yussuf took the first watch, while Lawrence and his friends were
enjoying their repast with the hunger and appetite produced by such a
long fast; and then Lawrence took his place, while Yussuf seated himself
upon a stone by the spring, and began eating his simple meal of hard
bread and a few dates.

The night was coming on fast; and, enticed by the beauty of the shadows
that were deepening in the gorge through which they had gone in pursuit
of the robbers the day before, the professor walked on and on till he
was nearly abreast of the rock-dwellings.

They were just visible, but where he stood the gorge was in profound
darkness, and he remained watching the ruins fade away as it were in the
evening gloom, till, feeling that it was time to return, he was in the
act of going back, when a peculiar click struck his ear, and he knew as
well as if he had seen the act that a horse had struck its armed hoof
against a stone.

Had he felt any doubt it was set aside by a low snort, and, feeling that
one of their steeds had strayed after him, and then gone on toward the
end of the gorge, he was about to hurry forward and seize it, when a
second click startled him, and in an instant he realised that the enemy
had evidently been duped by the sham sentry, and given up the attempt to
attack them.  What was more, he grasped that the enemy had started a
ruse of their own, and were coming along the larger gorge, to turn back
during the night by the spring, so as to take them in the rear, while
they were expecting an attack in front.

The professor realised all this as he stood there in the darkness
leaning upon his gun, and afraid to stir, for he knew that to do so was
to betray his whereabouts to a set of men who would perhaps take his
life, and even if they spared this, carry him off to hold him to ransom.

Worse still; they would then go on and surprise the party by the spring,
his presence betraying their whereabouts, for there was only one spot
likely in that stony wilderness for people to halt, and that was of
course by the water side.

What was he to do?

It was a hard question, and the professor felt himself at his wits' end.
He had stepped a dozen yards out of the track, and was standing amongst
some rough stones which helped the darkness to conceal his presence,
though the valley was in such a deep shadow that, as he strained eyes
and ears to make out and count the enemy, he could do neither, though he
knew now that they had halted just opposite to him, and he could hear
them whispering evidently in consultation before they took another step
in advance.

The professor stood there in the darkness with the perspiration
streaming down his face as he recalled the stories he had heard of the
atrocities committed by the outlaws who made their homes in the
mountains of the sultan's dominions.  He was tortured by a dozen
different plans which suggested themselves for his next course of
action, but neither of them commended itself for second consideration,
while there he was, face to face with the one great difficulty, that he
was cut off from his companions, and unable to stir without betraying
his presence and being captured or perhaps slain.

To stir was impossible.  He hardly dared to breathe, while his heart
throbbed with so audible a beat that he fully expected it to betray his
whereabouts.

It was a perilous time, and his agony of mind was terrible, for just
then it seemed to him that he had, to gratify his own selfishness,
brought the son of his old friend--a lad weak and wasted from a long
illness--into a peril which might have been avoided.  There they were,
perfectly unconscious of danger in this direction; and as soon as the
party had finished their whispered consultation he felt that they would
steal cautiously on and make their attack.

What should he do--fire at them or over them, and in the confusion make
a dash for the little camp?

He dared not risk it, for it seemed a clumsy, gambling experiment, which
would most probably result in failure.

What should he do then--sacrifice himself?

Yes.  It seemed after all that his firing would not be so clumsy an
expedient, for even if it ended in his own destruction it would warn his
friends and place them upon their guard.

He hesitated for a few moments, as he tried once more to realise the
position.  This might not, after all, be the gang of men who had stolen
their horses; but everything pointed to the fact that it was, as he had
at first imagined--that they had been duped by Yussuf's ruse, and then
made, by some way known to them, for the principal gorge, down which
they had come to turn into the lesser ravine by the spring, and then in
the night or early morning, take their victims in the rear, drive them
out into the open country, and master them with ease.

While Mr Preston was running over all this in his own mind he could
hear the low whispering of the little, body of men going on, and every
now and then an impatient stamp given by one of the horses, followed by
a low muttered adjuration in the Turkish dialect, bidding the animal be
still.

It was only a matter of minutes, but it seemed to be hours before the
band of men began to move forward cautiously through the darkness, and
more than ever the professor blamed himself for not staying with his
friends, but only to acknowledge the next moment that if he had done so
he would not have known of the approach of the foe.

As near as he could judge the enemy had about half a mile to go, and not
knowing what to do Mr Preston began to follow them cautiously, getting
as near as he could while straining his eyes to make out the figures of
the mounted men as they moved slowly on.

By degrees he found out that he was left a long way behind, but while
quickening his pace he was compelled to do so with the greatest caution,
and to walk with outstretched hands, for, though high above his head the
starlight enabled him to make out the line of the high cliff against the
sky, all below in that gorge was of pitchy blackness, and he had to
guide himself by stepping carefully more than by the use of his eyes.

In spite of his care he was, he found, being left more and more behind,
and yet he dare not hasten for fear of coming suddenly upon the rear of
the party.

But at last, quite in despair, he pressed forward, trusting to his good
fortune to get near enough to note their actions without being detected,
so that at last he was within a very few yards, and he kept that
distance till he felt that they must be very near the spring, when, as
he pressed on, keeping to the path, as he believed, he suddenly found
himself about to stumble over a low block of blackish stone just beneath
his feet.

He tried to save himself, but he was too late, and he blundered right
upon it; but instead of knocking the skin off his shins, and falling
heavily, he was stricken back, for the object he had taken for a rock
felt soft, sprang up, and he found, as the man, who had been stooping to
bind up his rough gear, uttered a few angry words in his own tongue,
that he had come upon a laggard of the party.

It was evident that in the darkness the man imagined that he was
addressing a companion, for he gripped the professor fiercely and
whispered a question.

A struggle would have ensued, but just then a clear voice rang out on
the night air, sounding wild and strange, and echoing from the face of
the cliff as it seemed to cut the black darkness.

The man dropped the professor's arm which he had seized, sprang away
into the darkness ahead, and then there was utter silence.



CHAPTER TWENTY FOUR.

RECEIVING THE ENEMY.

Lawrence kept the watch in the ravine by which they had reached the
spring that day, and as he posted himself a little way up the slope,
where he could shelter himself behind a block of stone and gaze for some
distance along the deep rift among the rocks, he could not help feeling
somewhat elated by his position.

He was stiff and sore with his long ride, but the refreshment of which
he had partaken and the pleasant coolness of the evening air raised his
spirits, and he smiled to himself as he felt that his strength was
returning, and that he was drinking in health with every breath of the
pure air around.

There was something so important, too, in his position on sentry there,
with a loaded gun resting upon the rock, the gun he took such pains to
polish and keep free from every spot of rust.  Only a short time since
he was lying back in his easy-chair in Guilford Street, waited upon
incessantly by Mrs Dunn, while now he was a traveller passing through
adventures which startled him sometimes, and at others thrilled him by
their strangeness and peril.

"It is like reading a book," he said to himself as he stood there
watching the side of the ridge high up, with its rugged masses of stone,
and a feathery cypress here and there turned to orange and gold by the
setting sun.

Then he went over again the skirmish of the past night, and how the
robbers had been beaten off.  Next he began to wonder whether the band
would stop at the end of the ravine long, and soon after, having
surfeited himself with gazing at the fading light in the sky and the
blackening rocks that had so lately been glistening as if of gold, he
began to yawn and think that he should much like to lie down and sleep
off this weariness which seemed to be coming over him like a mist.

He leaned more and more upon the stone, so as to stare down the ravine,
which kept growing darker and darker, till the bushes and tall feathery
cypresses began to assume suspicious forms and seem to be tall watchers
or crouching men coming slowly forward to the attack.

A dozen times over he felt sure that he was right, and that he ought to
fire or run back and give the alarm.  But a dread of being laughed at
checked him; and then he seemed to see more clearly and to make out that
these were not men, but after all trees and bushes upon the slope.

This gave him more confidence for a time, as the shades of evening fell
fast, and all below in the deep ravine grew black, but he was startled
again by a low rushing noise that came down the valley, followed by a
piteous wail which sent a chill through him, and made the hands which
held the gun grow moist.

"Was it the night breeze or some bird?" he asked himself, and as he was
debating with himself as to whether he might not summon Yussuf or Mr
Burne to stay with him, there came a gentle crackling noise from the
side of the ravine, such as might be made by some wild beast, fresh from
its lair, and in search of food.

"What could it be?" he asked himself, as in spite of his determination
his nervousness increased, and he realised that strength of mind is a
good deal dependent upon vigour of body, and that he was far from
possessing either.

What wild beast was it likely to be?  He had heard of Syrian lions, but
he thought that there could not be any there now; tigers he knew enough
of natural history to feel would be in India; leopards in Africa.  Then
what was this which approached?  It must be one of two things--either a
hyena or a wolf.

The former he had heard was extremely cowardly, unless it had to deal
with a child or a lamb; but wolves, if hungry, were savage in the
extreme, and as the noise continued, he brought the muzzle of the gun to
bear, and the _click, click_, made by the locks sounded so loudly in the
still evening air, that the creature, whatever it was, probably a lemur
or wild-cat, took alarm, bounded off, and was heard no more.

Then the heavy sleepy sensation began to resume its sway, and though the
lad remained standing, his eyes closed, and he was suddenly completely
overcome with fatigue and fast asleep, when he woke with a start, for a
voice just behind him said:

"Well, boy, how are you getting on?" and a faint odour of snuff,
sufficient to be inhaled and to make him sneeze, roused Lawrence into
thorough wakefulness.

"I was getting drowsy, Mr Burne," said Lawrence sadly.

"Enough to make you, my lad.  I've had a nap since I sat down, but I'm
fresh as a daisy now.  I'm to relieve you, while Yussuf or the professor
is to come by and by and relieve me.  I say, how do you like playing at
soldiers?"

"Playing at soldiers, Mr Burne?"

"Well, what else do you call it?--mounting guard, and fighting robbers,
and all that sort of thing.  I'm getting quite excited, only I don't
know yet whether it's true."

"It is true enough," said Lawrence laughing.

"Oh, I don't know so much about that.  It doesn't seem to be possible.
Couldn't believe that such things went on in these days, when people use
telephones and telegraphs and read newspapers."

"It does seem strange and unreal, sir, but then so do all these
beautiful valleys and mountains."

"So they do to us, my boy.  Shouldn't wonder if they are all theatrical
scenery, or else we shall wake up directly both of us and say, `Lo! it
was a dream.'"

Lawrence sneezed twice heavily, for it was impossible to be in Mr
Burne's company long without suffering from the impalpable dust that
pervaded all his clothes; and as the old gentleman looked on with a grim
smile and clapped his young companion on the shoulder, he exclaimed:

"You are right, Lawrence, my lad, it is all real, and that proves it.  I
never knew anyone sneeze in a dream.  There, go back.  Relieve guard.
I'm sentry now, and I feel as if I were outside Buckingham Palace, or
the British Museum, only I ought to have a black bearskin on instead of
this red fez with the yellow roll round it.  How does it look, eh?"

"Splendid, sir.  It quite improves you," replied Lawrence.

"Get out, you young impostor!" cried the old lawyer.  "There, be off.
You are getting well."

Lawrence laughed and went back to the camping-place by the spring, where
Hamed was bathing his ankles in the cold water, and Yussuf was
diligently attending to the horses, whose legs he hobbled so as to keep
them from straying away, though they showed very little inclination for
this, the clear water and the abundant clover proving too great an
attraction for them to care to go far.

It was rapidly getting dark now, and hearing from Yussuf that the
professor had taken his gun and strolled off along the great gorge,
Lawrence was disposed to follow him, but the sensation of stiffness, the
result of many hours in the saddle, made him prefer to await his return.
Picking out, then, a snug spot among some stones that had fallen from
above, where a clump of myrtles perfumed the soft evening air, he
settled himself down, and soon sank into a comfortable drowsy state, in
which he listened to the _munch munch_ of the horses, and a low crooning
song uttered by Hamed as he finished his task of bathing his swollen
ankles, and then walked up and down more strongly, pausing every now and
then to stoop and rub them well.

Soon after Yussuf came to his side, and stood looking along the gorge
towards where the cliff-dwellings clustered on high; but it was too dark
to see them now.

"It is time the effendi was back," he said.  "He will not be long now.
You will keep watch while I go and speak with his excellency, Burne."

"Yes, I am well awake again, now," said Lawrence, starting up.  "I wish
I did not grow so sleepy."

"Why?" said Yussuf gently, as he laid his hand upon the boy's arm.  "I
love to see you sleep, and sleep well.  It is a good sign.  It means
that you are growing strong and well, and will some day be a stout and
active man."

"Do you think so?" said Lawrence dreamily.

"I feel sure so," replied the Turk gravely.  "I am not educated like you
Franks from the west, but I have lived to middle age, and noticed many
things.  You are growing better and stronger.  I will go now and come
back soon.  The effendi will be here then, and we two will watch, and
you shall sleep."

He strode away into the gathering darkness, passing the spring, turning
round by the right, and making for the spot where the sentry were
posted.  Here Mr Burne showed no inclination to go back to the little
camp, but stood talking to him in his dry manner, for mutual dislike was
gradually changing into a certain amount of friendliness.

Meanwhile the horses went on biting off great mouthfuls of the rich
clover that grew near the stream, and munched and munched up the juicy
herbage as Lawrence listened and watched the pathway to see if he could
catch sight of Mr Preston returning with his gun.

It grew darker and darker still, but the professor did not come, and
Lawrence began to grow drowsy again.

He fought against it, but the desire to sleep overcame him more and
more.  His head sank lower, and in an instant he was dreaming that he
heard that rustling sound again of some wild animal approaching the
group of rocks where he was stationed.

Wolf--hyena--some fierce creature that was coming steadily on nearer and
nearer, till before long it would spring upon him, and in the
nightmare-like sensation he felt as if he were struggling to get away,
while it fascinated him and held him to his place.

One--two--three--four--there were several such creatures drawing nearer
and nearer, and he could not cry for help, only stay motionless there in
his horrible dread.

Nearer--nearer--nearer, till he fancied he could see them in the
darkness gathering themselves up to spring, and still he could not
move--still he could not shout to his friends for help, till all at once
he seemed to make a desperate spring, and then he was awake and staring
into the thick darkness, telling himself that it was fancy.

No; there were sounds farther up the gorge--sounds as of some animals
coming softly down, nearer and nearer, but not wolves or hyenas.  They
were horses.

There was no doubt about it--horses; and now fully awake, the lad felt
filled by a new alarm.  For who could it be but an enemy stealing along
in the darkness; and in the sudden alarm, he did not pause to argue out
whether it might not be travellers like themselves, but shouted in a
clear ringing voice:

"Who's that?"

There was utter stillness in the deep gorge, just broken by the gurgling
of the fount as the water gushed from below the rock; and in his alarm,
startled as much by the deep silence as he had been by the sounds of
approaching horsemen, Lawrence shouted again:

"Who's that?" and then, hardly knowing what he did, he raised his gun
and fired.



CHAPTER TWENTY FIVE.

AFTER THE SCARE.

The sides of the gorge took up the report of Lawrence's fowling-piece,
and a volley of echoes ran rapidly along the valley; but that was no
echo which rang out directly after, for there were two bright flashes,
and a couple of shots that were magnified into terrific sounds, as they
too rolled along the deep passage between the rocks.

To Lawrence they seemed to be the answer to his fire from the enemy,
and, in the excitement of the moment, before attempting to reload, he
fired again, the flash from his piece cutting the darkness and resulting
in another volley of echoes.

Then there was a hoarse shout given in a commanding voice, followed by a
shrill yell, and what seemed to be quite a large body of horsemen
thundered by, while directly after, as Lawrence was trying to reload his
piece, the darkness was cut again twice over by a couple of clear
flashes, and the rocks rang out in a series of echoes as if a company of
infantry had drawn trigger at the word of command.

Meanwhile the beating of hoofs continued, growing more distant minute by
minute, till the sounds died away.

Then they rose again as if the band were returning, but it was only the
reflected sound from the great face of some rock which they were
approaching in their flight; and once more the noise faded, and
Lawrence, as he stood there half petrified, heard a familiar voice
shout:

"Lawrence!  Lawrence, boy, are you there?"

"Yes, yes, Mr Preston; here."

A low murmur came out of the darkness as if the professor had spoken
some words, Lawrence never knew what, and the next minute they were
together standing listening to the sound of footsteps, and their guide
came panting up.

"What is it?" he cried.

Mr Preston explained, and Yussuf stood thinking for a few moments, and
hit upon the solution of the mystery at once.

"I am not worthy of my name," he cried.  "I see it all now; they must
have come round this way to surprise us."

"And we have surprised them--so it seems," said the professor coolly.
"Our firing scared them.  Will they come back?"

"Here! anyone killed? anyone killed?" cried Mr Burne excitedly, as he
came panting up to his friends.

"I sincerely hope not," said the professor; and he explained anew what
had occurred.  "But what is to be done now, Yussuf?"

"Excellency, I hardly know what to say.  If we retreat at once it is a
terrible march in the dark, and we should be much at our enemies' mercy.
If we stay here we are greatly exposed, but it is better to be on guard
than retreating.  I learned that when fighting with my people up
northward against the Russ."

"You think, then, that they will come back?"

"It is impossible to say, effendi.  Perhaps not to-night, but we dare
not trust them.  We must be prepared."

"Let us see to the horses," cried Mr Preston.  "Hamed!"

There was no reply, but, upon Yussuf shouting the name, a response came
from far up the ravine, and they found that the horses were missing.

"Oh, yes; I forgot to tell you," said Mr Burne; "they scampered up past
me, when there was all that noise down below here.  One of them nearly
knocked me over."

They soon found that Hamed had limped off in search of the horses which
had taken fright, and but for the fact that Yussuf had hobbled their
forelegs, they would have galloped away.

As it was they were soon secured, and, the party being divided into two
watches, a careful guard was kept by one, while the other lay down to
sleep with weapons ready to hand in case of an alarm.



CHAPTER TWENTY SIX.

YUSSUF PREACHES STICK.

There was no further alarm that night, for the marauders had dashed off
in the full belief that they were attacked in front and rear, the four
shots, multiplied by the tremendous echoes from the rocks, combining
with the darkness to make them believe that their enemies were many, and
they had not stopped till they were miles away.  As to making a fresh
attack that was the last thing in their thoughts.

The night, then, passed peacefully away, but the amount of rest obtained
was very little indeed.

After lying watching some time, Lawrence had fallen asleep, and had been
awakened before daybreak by the professor, so that Hamed might have some
repose; but, instead of lying down, the driver went off to his horses,
and when Lawrence looked along the valley at sunrise, it was to see that
Yussuf had spread his praying carpet, and was standing motionless with
his hands outspread toward the east.

A hasty meal was eaten, and then a fresh start made, with Yussuf in
front, and the professor and Mr Burne, who looked like some sheik or
grandee in his scarlet and yellow turban, a hundred yards behind, their
guns glistening in the morning sun.

The force was not strong, for, with Yussuf as advance guard, the
professor and Mr Burne as rear, Lawrence had to form himself into the
main body, as well as the baggage guard.  But as this was the whole of
their available strength, the most was made of it, and they rode back
along the ravine as fast as they could get the baggage-horses forward,
momentarily expecting attack, and in the hope of seeing some travellers
or people of the country, who would, for payment, give them help; but
when in the afternoon they reached the spot where the old lawyer's
Panama hat, perched on the top of the cypress, still kept guard, they
had not seen a soul.

Mr Burne was for recovering his hat, but yielded to good counsel, which
was in favour of hastening on to the village some few miles below in the
open country, before the enemy appeared.

"Just as you like," he said.  "I will not oppose you, for I do not feel
at all in a fighting humour to-day."

The result was that just after sundown they rode into the little
village, where about thirty men stood staring at them in a sour and
evil-looking manner, not one responding to the customary salute given by
Yussuf.

The latter directed himself to one of the best-dressed men, standing by
the door of his house, and asked where they could got barley for the
horses.

The man scowled and said that there was none to be had.

Yussuf rode on to another, who gave the same answer.

He then applied to a third, and asked where a room or rooms and
refreshment could be obtained, but the man turned off without a word.

Patiently, and with the calm gentlemanly manner of a genuine Turk, he
applied in all directions, but without effect.

"Have you offered to pay for everything we have, and pay well, Yussuf?"
said the professor, as he sat there weary and hungry, and beginning to
shiver in the cold wind that swept down from the snow-capped mountains.

"Yes, excellency, but they will not believe me."

"Show them the firman," said the professor.

This was done, but the people could not read, and when they were told of
its contents they shrugged their shoulders and laughed.

It was growing dark, the cold increasing, and the travellers wearied out
with their journey.

"What is to be done, Yussuf?" said Mr Preston; "we cannot stop out here
all night, and we are starving."

"They are not of the faithful," said Yussuf indignantly.  "I have spoken
to them as brothers, but they are dogs.  Look at them, effendi.  They
are the friends and brethren of the thieves and cut-throats whom we met
in the mountains."

"Yes, we can see that, my good friend," said Mr Burne drily; "but as we
say in our country--`soft words butter no parsnips.'"

"No, effendi, soft words are no good here," replied Yussuf; and he took
the thick oaken walking-stick which Mr Burne carried hanging from his
saddle bow.

"What are you going to do, Yussuf?" said Mr Preston anxiously, as he
glanced round at the gathering crowd of ill-looking villagers, who
seemed to take great delight in the troubles of the strangers.

"Going to do, effendi," said Yussuf in a deep voice full of suppressed
anger; "going to teach these sons of Shaitan that the first duty of a
faithful follower of the Prophet is hospitality to a brother who comes
to him in distress."

"But, Yussuf," said Mr Preston anxiously.

"Trust me, effendi, and I will make them remember what it is to insult
three English gentlemen travelling for their pleasure.  Are we dogs that
they should do this thing?"

Before Mr Preston could interfere, Yussuf gave Hamed the bridle of his
horse to hold, and, making up to the man who seemed to be the head-man
of the village, and who certainly had been the most insolent, he knocked
off his turban, caught him by the beard, and thrashed him unmercifully
with the thick stick.

Both Mr Preston and his companion laid their hands upon their
revolvers, bitterly regretting Yussufs rashness, and fully expecting a
savage attack from the little crowd of men, several of whom were armed.

But they need not have been uneasy; Yussuf knew the people with whom he
had to deal, and he went on belabouring the man till he threw himself
down and howled for mercy, while the crowd looked on as if interested by
the spectacle more than annoyed; and when at last, with a final stroke
across the shoulders, Yussuf threw the man off, the people only came a
little closer and stared.

"Now," said Yussuf haughtily, and he seemed to be some magnate from
Istamboul, instead of an ordinary guide, "get up and show the English
lords into a good room, help unpack the baggage, and make your people
prepare food."

The man rose hastily, screwing himself about and rubbing his shoulders,
for he was evidently in great pain; but he seemed to get rid of a
portion thereof directly by calling up three of his people, two of whom
he kicked savagely for not moving more quickly, and missing the third
because he did display activity enough to get out of his way.

Then obsequiously bowing to the professor and Mr Burne, he led the way
into the best house in the village, his men holding the horses, and
Yussuf stopping back to see that the baggage was taken in, and the
horses carefully stabled in a snug warm place, where plenty of barley
was soon forthcoming.

"Why, Yussuf's stick is a regular magician's wand," said Mr Burne, as
the master of the house showed them into his clean and comfortable best
room, where he bustled about, bringing them rugs and cushions, while,
from the noises to be heard elsewhere, it was evident that he was giving
orders, which resulted in his sending in a lad with a tray of coffee,
fairly hot and good, and wonderfully comforting to the cold and weary
travellers.

"Now," said Mr Burne, "what a chance for him to poison us and finish us
off."

"Have no fear of that.  The man would not injure us in that way," said
the professor; "but I must confess to being rather uncomfortable, for I
am sure we are in a nest of hornets."

"Hark!" said Mr Burne, "I can hear a sizzling noise which means
cooking, so pray don't let's have any prophecies of evil till the supper
is over.  Then, perhaps, I shall be able to bear them.  What do you say,
Lawrence?"

"Supper first," said the latter laughing.

"Very well, then," said Mr Preston smiling; "we will wait till after a
good meal.  Perhaps I shall feel more courageous then."

"What is he doing?" said Lawrence quietly, as their host kept walking in
and out, for apparently no other reason than to stare at Mr Burne's
scarlet and yellow head-dress.

"I see," said Mr Preston quietly; "he evidently thinks Mr Burne here
is some great grandee.  That fez and its adornments will be a protection
to us as you will see."

"Bah!" ejaculated the old lawyer; "now you are prophesying to another
tune, and one is as bad as the other.  Give it up; you are no prophet.
Oh, how hungry I am!"

"And I," cried Lawrence.

"Well," said the professor gravely, "to be perfectly truthful, so am I.
Here, mine host," he said in Arabic, "bring us some more coffee."

The man bowed low, smiled, and left the room with the empty cups, and
returned directly after with them full, and after another glance at the
scarlet and yellow turban, he looked at the swords and pistols and
became more obsequious than ever.



CHAPTER TWENTY SEVEN.

CATCHING A TARTAR.

If there had been any intention on the part of their host to deal
deceitfully with them, he would have had plenty of opportunity, during
about a couple of hours of the night, when it was the professor's turn
to keep watch, for he fell fast asleep, and was awakened by Yussuf, who
shook his head at him sadly.

Morning came bright and cheery, with the birds singing, and the view
from their window exquisite.  Close at hand there were the mountains,
rising one above another, and rich with the glorious tints of the trees
and bushes that clung to their sides, and after gazing at the glorious
prospect, with the clear air and dazzling sunshine, Mr Burne exclaimed:

"Bless me!  What an eligible estate to lay out in building plots!
Magnificent health resort!  Beats Baden, Spa, Homburg, and all these
places, hollow."

"And where would you get your builders and your tenants?"

"Humph!  Hah!  I never thought of that.  But really, Preston, what a
disgraceful thing it is that such a lovely country should go to ruin!
Hah! here's breakfast."

For at that moment their host came in, and in a short time good bread,
butter, yaourt or curd, coffee, and honey in the comb were placed before
them, and somehow, after a good night's rest, the travellers did not
find the owner of the house so very evil-looking.

"Oh, no, effendi, he is not a bad fellow.  He bears no malice," said
Yussuf, "these men are used to it.  They get so terribly robbed by
everyone who comes through the village that they refuse help on
principle till they are obliged to give it, when they become civil."

"He is pleasant enough this morning," said Mr Burne.  "The man seems
well off, too."

"Yes, effendi, he is rich for a man of his station.  And now I have news
for the effendi Preston."

"News?  Not letters surely?" said the professor.

"No, effendi; but there are ruins close by across the valley.  An old
city and burying-place is yonder, this man tells me.  Nobody ever goes
there, because the people say that it is inhabited by djins and evil
spirits, so that no one dares to go and fetch away the stones."

The professor rubbed his hands gleefully, and Mr Burne dropped the
corners of his lips as he helped himself to some more yaourt.

"How are you getting on with this stuff, Lawrence?" he said.

"I like it," was the reply.

"So do I," said Mr Burne grimly.  "It puts me in mind of being a good
little boy, and going for a walk in Saint James's Park with the nurse to
feed the ducks, after which we used to feed ourselves at one of the
lodges where they sold curds and whey.  This is more like it than
anything I have had since.  I say, gently, young man, don't eat
everything on the table."

"But I feel so hungry up here in the mountains," cried Lawrence
laughing.

"Very likely, sir," said Mr Burne with mock austerity; "but that is no
reason why you should try and create a famine in the land."

"Let him eat; Burne," said the professor; "he wants bone and muscle."

"But he is eating wax," cried Mr Burne sharply.  "Let him eat chicken
bone and muscle if he likes, and the flesh as well, but that would be no
reason why he should eat the feathers."

"I am only too glad to see him with a good appetite," said the professor
pushing the butter towards Lawrence with a smile.

"So am I.  Of course.  But I draw the line at wax.  Confound it all,
boy! be content with the honey."

"I would," said Lawrence with his mouth full; "but it is all so mixed
up."

"Humph!" ejaculated Mr Burne.  "Are you going to have a look at those
old stones, Preston?"

"Most decidedly."

"In spite of the djins and evil spirits?"

"Yes," replied the professor.  "I suppose they will not alarm you,
Yussuf?"

The guide smiled and shook his head.

"I am most alarmed about those other evil spirits, effendi," he said
smiling; "such as haunt these mountains, and who steal horses, and rob
men.  I think the effendi will find some curious old ruins, for this
seems to have been a famous place once upon a time.  There is an old
theatre just at the back."

"Theatre?  Nonsense!" said the old lawyer with a snort.

"I meant amphitheatre, effendi--either Greek or Roman," said Yussuf
politely.

"Here, I say, Yussuf," said Mr Burne, lowering the piece of bread which
he had raised half-way to his mouth; "are you an Englishman in disguise
pretending to be a Turk?"

Yussuf smiled, and then turned and arrested Mr Preston, who was about
to leave his breakfast half finished and get ready to go and see the
amphitheatre.

"Pray, finish first, excellency," he said.  "You will not miss it now,
but in a few hours' time you will be growing faint, and suffer for want
of being well prepared."

"You are right," said the professor.

The breakfast was ended, and then, while the horses were being loaded,
the travellers followed their host down the steep slope which formed his
garden, and then by a stiff bit of pathway to where a splendid spring of
water gushed right out of the rock; and the presence of this source
explained a great deal, and made plain why ruins were to be found close
at hand.

In fact, they came upon dressed stones directly, and it was evident that
there had been a kind of temple once close to the spring, for a rough
platform remained which had been cut down level to the edge of the
water.  The face of the rock had been levelled too, and upon it there
were remains of a rough kind of inscription, while, upon examining the
dressed stones which lay here and there, several, in spite of their
decay, still retained the shape which showed that they had formed
portions of columns.

But, search how the professor would, he could find nothing to show what
the date of the edifice had been.

Five minutes' climbing amongst broken stones brought them to a clump of
trees and bushes, mingled with which were a few white-looking fragments
which looked so natural that the professor's heart sank with
disappointment.  The stones appeared to be live stones, as geologists
call it; in other words, portions of rock which had never been
disturbed.

But their host pushed on through the brambles and roses, which looked as
natural as if they were in an English wilderness, only that the trees
that rose beyond them were strange.

"It's all labour in vain, Yussuf," said Mr Preston in rather a
disappointed tone.  "You have not seen this theatre."

"No, excellency; but the man described it so exactly, that I felt he
must be right; and--yes, he is."

As he spoke, he drew aside some bushes, and they found themselves gazing
across heap upon heap of loose fragments of very pure white stone that
was not unlike marble, and the cause of whose overthrow had most likely
been the strong growth of the abundant trees, for the roots had
interlaced and undermined them till they were completely forced out of
place.  Beyond this chaos, that lay nearly buried in greenery, rose up
one above the other what seemed to Lawrence at the first glance to be
the ruins of a huge flight of steps built in a semicircular form, but
which he recognised at once, from pictures which he had seen, as an
amphitheatre.

There was no mistaking it.  The steps, as he had thought them to be,
were the seats of stone rising tier above tier, now broken, mouldering,
and dislodged in many places, but in others curiously perfect.

Where they, the travellers, stood must have been occupied by the actors,
far back in the past perhaps a couple of thousand years ago; and these
remains were all that was left to tell of the greatness of the people
who once ruled in the land--great indeed, since they left such relics as
these.

Mr Burne said "Humph!" sat down, and lit a cigar, while their host
rested upon a stone at a short distance, to admire the scarlet and
yellow turban.  Yussuf followed the professor, whose eyes flashed with
pleasure, while the old lawyer muttered derisively:

"Come all the way, to see a place like this!  Why, I could have taken
him to the end of Holborn in a cab, and shown him the ruins of Temple
Bar all neatly numbered and piled-up, without all these pains."

The professor did not hear his remark, for he was too intent upon his
examination of the carefully built place, which he was ready to
pronounce of Greek workmanship; but there was no one but Yussuf to hear.
For Lawrence had noted that, where the stones lay baking in the sun,
innumerable lizards were glancing about, their grey and sometimes green
armoured skins glistening in the brilliant sunshine, and sending off
flashes every time they moved.  Some were of a brownish hue clouded with
pale yellow; and as they darted in and out of the crevices and holes
among the stonework, they raised their heads on the look-out for danger,
or to catch some heedless fly before darting again beneath the levelled
stones or amongst the grass and clinging plants which were covering them
here and there.

Poisonous or not poisonous? that was the question Lawrence asked himself
as he crept closer and watched the actions of the nimble bright-eyed
creatures, longing to capture one or two, but hesitating.

A reference to Yussuf solved the doubt.

"Oh, no; perfectly harmless as to poison," he said; "but some of the
larger ones can nip pretty sharply."

"And draw blood?"

"The largest would," he said; "but you need have no fear," he added
dryly; "catch all you can.  I should be careful, though, for sometimes
there are snakes lurking amongst the stones, and some of them are
venomous.  But you know the difference between a snake and a lizard?"

"Oh, yes," cried Lawrence laughing, "that's easy enough to tell."

"Not always, effendi, when they are half hidden in the grass."

Lawrence nodded, and went away to try and stalk one of the lizards.  The
professor was busy making measurements and taking notes, while Mr Burne
smoked on peaceably, and the Turk, who had led them here, crouched down
and stared at the scarlet and yellow turban as if it fascinated him,
while overhead the sun poured down its scorching beams and there was a
stillness in the air that was broken by the low buzz and hum of flies,
and the deep murmur of the spring below.

Lawrence crept softly along to one white stone upon which three lizards
were basking; and after a moment's hesitation thrust out his hand,
making sure that he had seized one by the neck, but there were three
streaks upon the white stone like so many darting shadows, and there was
nothing.

"Wasn't quick enough," he said to himself, and he went softly to another
stone upon which there was only one, a handsome reptile, which looked as
if it had been painted by nature to imitate polished tortoise-shell.

The sun flashed from its back and seemed to be hot enough to cook the
little creature, which did not stir, but lay as if fast asleep.

"I shall have you easy enough," said Lawrence, as he gradually stepped
up to the place and stooped and poised himself ready for the spring.

He was not hasty this time, and the reptile was perfectly unsuspicious
of danger.  There was no doubt about the matter--it must be asleep.  He
had so arranged that the sun did not cast the shadow of his arm across
the stone, and drawing in his breath, he once more made a dart at the
lizard, meaning if he did not catch it to sweep it away from its hole,
and so make the capture more easy.

_Snatch_!

A brown streak that faded out as breath does from a blade of steel; and
Lawrence hurt his hand upon the lichened stone.

"I'm not going to be beaten," he said to himself.  "I can catch them,
and I will."

He glanced at his companions, who were occupied in the amphitheatre;
and, having scared away the lizards from the stones there, the lad went
outside to find that there were plenty of remains about, and nearly all
of them showed a lizard or two basking on the top.

He kept on trying time after time, till he grew hot and impatient, and
of course, as his most careful efforts were useless, it was only natural
to expect that his more careless trials would be in vain.

He was about to give the task up in despair, when all at once he caught
sight of a good-sized reptile lying with its head and neck protruded
from beneath a stone, and in such a position as tempted him to have one
more trial.

This time it seemed to be so easy, and the reptile appeared to be one of
the kind he was most eager to capture--the silvery grey, for, as they
lay upon the stones, they looked as if made of oxidised metal, frosted
and damascened in the most beautiful manner.

Lawrence glanced at the ground so as to be sure of his footing among the
loose stones and growth, and he congratulated himself upon his
foresight.  For as he peered about he saw a good-sized virulent-looking
serpent lying right in his way, and as if ready to strike at anybody who
should pass.

Lawrence looked round for a stone wherewith to crush the creature, but
he felt that if he did this he should alarm the lizard and lose it, so
he drew back and picked up a few scraps, and kept on throwing first one
and then another at the serpent, gently, till he roused it, and in a
sluggish way it raised its head and hissed.

Then he threw another, and it again hissed menacingly, and moved itself,
but all in a sluggish manner as if it were half asleep.

Another stone fell so near, though, that it made an angry dart with its
head, and then glided out of sight.

Lawrence took care not to go near where it had disappeared, but
approached the lizard on the stone from a little to the left, which gave
him a better opportunity for seizing it.

It had not moved, and he drew nearer and nearer, to get within reach,
noting the while that its body was not in a crack from which the
creature had partly crept, but concealed by some light fine grass that
he knew would yield to his touch.

As he was about to dart his hand down and catch it by the neck and
shoulders, he saw that it was a finer one than he had imagined, with
flattish head, and very large scales, lying loosely over one another--
quite a natural history prize, he felt.

They were moments of critical anxiety, as he softly extended his hand,
balancing himself firmly, and holding his breath, while he hesitated for
a moment as to whether he should trust to the grass giving way as he
snatched at the body, or seize the reptile by the head and neck, and so
make sure.

He had met with so many disappointments that he determined upon the
latter, and making a quick dart down with his hand, he seized the little
creature by the neck and head, grasping it tightly, and snatching it up,
to find to his horror that he had been deceived by the similarity of the
reptile's head, and instead of catching a lizard he had seized a little
serpent about eighteen inches long, whose head he felt moving within his
hand, while the body, which was flat and thick for the length, wound
tightly round his wrist, and compressed it with more force than could
have been expected from so small a creature.

He had uttered a shout of triumph as he caught his prize, but his voice
died out upon his lips, his blood seemed to rush to his heart, and a
horrible sensation of fear oppressed him, and made the cold dank
perspiration ooze out upon his brow.

For he knew as well as if he had been told that he had caught up one of
the dangerous serpents of the land.



CHAPTER TWENTY EIGHT.

HOW TO DEAL WITH AN ASP.

For some minutes Lawrence Grange stood motionless as if turned to stone,
and though the sun was shining down with tremendous power, he felt cold
to a degree.  His eyes were fixed upon the scaly creature which he held
out at arm's length, and he could neither withdraw them nor move his
arm, while the reptile twined and heaved and undulated in its efforts to
withdraw its head from the tightly closed hand.

The boy could think little, and yet, strange as it may sound, he thought
a great deal.  But it was of people who had been bitten by reptiles of
this kind, and who had died in a few minutes or an hour or two at most.
He could not think of the best means of disembarrassing himself of the
deadly creature.  He could do nothing but stand with his eyes fixed upon
the writhing beast.

It was an asp.  He knew it was from the descriptions he had read of such
creatures, and then the desire to throw it off--as far as he could, came
over him, and his nerve began to return.

But only for a moment, and he shivered as he thought of the consequences
of opening his hand.  He saw, in imagination, the serpent clinging
tightly with its body and striking him with its fangs over and over
again.

But had it not already bitten him on the hand as he held that vicious
head within his palm.

That he could not tell, only that he could feel the rough head of the
hideous creature, and the scales pressing into his wrist.  But the
probability was that the creature had not bitten him, though it was
heaving and straining with all its force, which, like that of all these
creatures, is remarkably great for their size.

Once, as he stood there staring wildly, a peculiar swimming sensation
came over him, and he felt as if he must fall; but if he did, it
occurred to him that he must be at the mercy of this horrible beast, and
by an effort he mastered the giddiness and stood firm.

How long he stood there he could not tell, only that the horror of being
poisoned by the reptile seemed more than he could bear, especially now
that life was beginning to open out with a new interest for him, and the
world, instead of being embraced by the dull walls of a sick-chamber,
was hourly growing more beautiful and vast.

All at once he started as it were from a dream, in which before his
misty eyes the hideous little serpent was assuming vast proportions, and
gradually forcing open his hand by the expansion of what seemed to be
growing into a huge head.  For from just behind him there was a hoarse
cry, and then a rush of feet, and he found himself surrounded by the
professor, Mr Burne, Yussuf, and the Turk at whose house they stayed.

"Good heavens, Lawrence! what are you doing?" cried the professor.

"Hush! don't speak to him," cried Yussuf in a voice full of authority.
"Let me."

As he spoke he drew his knife from his girdle.  "Lawrence effendi," he
said quickly, "has it bitten you?"

The lad looked at him wildly, and his voice was a mere whisper as he
faltered:

"I do not know."

"Tell me," cried Yussuf, "have you tight hold of it by the head?"

There was a pause, and Lawrence's eyes seemed fixed and staring, but at
last he spoke.

"Yes."

Only that word; and as the others looked on, Yussuf caught Lawrence's
right hand in his left, and compressed it more tightly on the asp's
head.

"There, effendi," he said as he stood ready with his keen bare knife in
his right hand, "the serpent is harmless now.  Take hold of it by the
tail, and unwind it from his wrist."

A momentary repugnance thrilled Mr Preston.  Then he seized the little
reptile, and proceeded to untwine it from its constriction of Lawrence's
wrist.

It seemed a little thing to do, but it was surprising how tightly it
clung, and undulated, contracting itself, but all in vain, for Mr
Preston tore it off and held it out as straight as he could get the
heaving body, encouraged in his efforts by Yussuf's declaration that the
head was safe.

Had it not been for his strong grasp the asp would have been torn from
Lawrence's failing grasp, for he was evidently growing giddy and faint,
when, placing his knife as close to the neck as he could get it, Yussuf
gave one bold upward cut and divided the reptile, Mr Preston throwing
down the writhing body while the head was still held tightly within
Lawrence's hand.

"Do not give way, Lawrence effendi," said Yussuf in the same stern
commanding voice as he had used before.  "Hold up your hand--so.  That
is well."

He twisted the lad's clasped hand, thumb upwards, as he spoke; and those
who looked on saw a few drops of blood fall from the serpent's neck as
it moved feebly, the strength being now in the body that writhed among
the stones.

"Let him throw it down now," cried Mr Preston.  "He may be bitten, and
we must see to him."

"No," said Yussuf; "he must not open his hand yet.  The head may have
strength to bite even now.  A few minutes, effendi, and we will see."

He watched Lawrence curiously, and with a satisfied air, for instead of
growing more faint, the lad seemed to be recovering fast--so fast,
indeed, that he looked up at Yussuf and exclaimed:

"Let me throw the horrid thing away."

"It did not bite you?" said Yussuf quickly.

"No, I think not.  It had no time," replied Lawrence.

Yussuf said something to himself, and then, as he retained the hand
within his, he exclaimed:

"Tell us how you came to seize the dangerous beast."

"I took it for a lizard," said the lad, who was nearly himself again,
and then he related the whole of the circumstances.

"Hah!  An easy mistake to make," said Yussuf loosening his grasp.  "Now,
effendi, keep tight hold and raise your hand high like this; now, quick
as lightning, dash the head down upon that stone."

Lawrence obeyed, and the asp's head fell with a dull pat, moved
slightly, and the jaws slowly opened, and remained gaping.

"Let me look at your hand, Lawrence," cried Mr Preston excitedly.

"Be not alarmed, excellency," said Yussuf respectfully, his commanding
authoritative manner gone.  "If the young effendi had been bitten he
would not look and speak like this."

"He is quite right," said Mr Burne, who was looking very pale, and who
had been watching anxiously all through this scene.  "But was it a
poisonous snake?"

"One of the worst we have, effendi," said Yussuf, stooping to pick up
the broad flat head of the reptile, and showing all in turn that two
keen little fangs were there in the front, looking exactly like a couple
of points of glass.

"Yes," said the professor, "as far as I understand natural history,
these are poison fangs.  Bury the dangerous little thing, or crush it
into the earth, Yussuf."

The guide took a stone and turned it over--a great fragment, weighing
probably a hundred pounds--and then all started away, for there was an
asp curled up beneath, ready to raise its head menacingly, but only to
be crushed down again as Yussuf let the stone fall.

"Try another," said the professor, and a fresh fragment was raised, to
be found tenantless.  Beneath this the head of the poisonous reptile was
thrown, the stone dropped back in its place; and, sufficient time having
been spent in the old amphitheatre, they returned to the Turk's house to
get their horses and ride off to see the ruins across the stream where
the djins and evil spirits had their homes.

The horses were waiting when they got back, and the village seemed
empty; for the people were away for the most part in their fields and
gardens.  Their host would have had them partake of coffee again, and a
pipe, but the professor was anxious to get over to the ruins, what he
had seen having whetted his appetite; so, after paying the man liberally
for everything they had had, they mounted.

Quite a change had come over their unwilling host of the previous night,
for as he held Mr Preston's rein he whispered:

"Ask the great effendi with the yellow turban to forgive thy servant his
treatment last night."

"What does he say, Yussuf?" asked Mr Preston; and Yussuf, as
interpreter, had to announce that if the effendis were that way again
their host would be glad to entertain them, for his house was theirs and
all he had whether they paid or no.

"And tell the effendis to beware," he whispered; "there are djins and
evil spirits among the old mosques, and houses, and tombs; and there are
evil men--robbers, who slay and steal."

"In amongst the ruins?" said Yussuf quickly.

"Everywhere," said the Turk vaguely, as he spread out his hands; and
then, with their saddle-bags and packages well filled with provisions
for themselves, and as much barley as could be conveniently taken, they
rode out of the village and turned down a track that led them through
quite a deep grove of walnut-trees to the little river that ran rushing
along in the bottom of the valley.  This they crossed, and the road then
followed the windings of the stream for about a mile before it struck
upwards; and before long they were climbing a steep slope where masses
of stone and marble, that had evidently once been carefully squared or
even carved, lay thick, and five minutes later the professor uttered a
cry of satisfaction, for he had only to turn his horse a dozen yards or
so through the bushes and trees to stand beside what looked like a huge
white chest of stone.

"Hallo, what have you found?" cried Mr Burne, rousing up, for he had
been nodding upon his horse, the day being extremely hot.

"Found!  A treasure," cried the professor.  "Pure white marble, too."

"There, Lawrence, boy, it's in your way, not mine.  I never play at
marbles now.  How many have you found, Preston?"

"How many?  Only this one."

"Why, it's a pump trough, and a fine one too," cried the old lawyer.

"Pump trough!" cried the professor scornfully.

"What is it then--a cistern?  I see.  Old waterworks for irrigating the
gardens."

"My dear sir, can you not see?  It is a huge sarcophagus.  Come here,
Lawrence.  Look at the sculpture and ornamentation all along this side,
and at the two ends as well.  The cover ought to be somewhere about."

He looked around, and, just as he had said, there was the massive cover,
but broken into half a dozen pieces, and the carving and inscription,
with which it had been covered, so effaced by the action of the lichens
and weather that it was not possible to make anything out, only that a
couple of sitting figures must at one time have been cut in high relief
upon the lid.

"Probably the occupants of the tomb," said the professor thoughtfully.
"Greek, I feel sure.  Here, Yussuf, what does this mean?"

He caught up his gun that he had laid across the corner of the
sarcophagus, and turned to face some two dozen swarthy-looking men who
had come upon them unperceived and seemed to have sprung up from among
the broken stones, old columns, and traces of wall that were about them
on every side.



CHAPTER TWENTY NINE.

A GAME AT MARBLES.

It was a false alarm.  The people who had collected about them were not
brigands, and they only carried working tools, not weapons for attack.

"Means what, Yussuf?" said Mr Burne.

"They have come to see how you dig out the buried treasure, effendi,"
said the guide with a suspicion of a smile.

"Treasure! what treasure?" cried the professor.

"It is of no use to argue with them, your excellency; they of course
know that, in place of there being only little villages here in the far
back days, there were great cities, like Istamboul and Smyrna and
Trieste, all over the country."

"Quite true; there were."

"And that these cities were occupied by great wealthy nations, whose
houses and palaces and temples were destroyed by enemies, and they
believe that all their golden ornaments and money lie buried beneath
these stones."

"What nonsense!" cried Mr Burne impatiently.  "If you dug down here you
would find bones, not gold.  It is an old cemetery, a place of tombs--
eh, Preston?"

"Quite right," said the professor.  "Tell them that we are only looking
for old pieces of sculpture and inscriptions."

"I will tell them, effendi," said Yussuf smiling; and he turned to the
people who were gathered round, and repeated the professor's words in
their own tongue.

The result was a derisive laugh, and one of the men, a great swarthy
fellow, spoke at some length.

"What does he say, Yussuf?" said Mr Burne.

"He asks the excellency if we think they are fools and children--"

"Yes, decidedly so," replied Mr Burne; "but hold hard, Yussuf; don't
tell them so."

"If it is likely they will believe that the Franks--"

"No, no, not Franks, Yussuf," said the professor laughing; "he said
`giaours.'"

"True, effendi; he did--If they will believe that the giaours would come
from a far country, and travel here merely to read a few old writings
upon some stones, and examine the idols that the old people carved."

"Well, I don't wonder at it," said Mr Burne with a sigh as he tickled
his nose with a fresh pinch.  "It does seem very silly.  Tell them it is
not they, but we: we are the fools."

"Don't tell them anything of the kind, Yussuf," said the professor.  "It
is not foolish to search for wisdom.  Tell them the truth.  We are not
seeking for treasures, but to try and find something about the history
of the people who built these cities."

Yussuf turned to the country people again and delivered himself of his
message, after which several of the people spoke, and there was another
laugh.

"Well, what do they say now?"

"They ask why you want to know all this, effendi," replied Yussuf.  "It
is of no use to argue with these people.  They have no knowledge
themselves, and they cannot understand how Frankish gentlemen can find
pleasure therein.  I have travelled greatly with Englishmen, and it is
so everywhere.  I was with an effendi down in Egypt, where he had the
sand dug away from the mouth of a buried temple, and the sheik and his
people who wandered near, came and drove us away, saying that the
English effendi sought for silver and gold.  It was the same among the
hills of Birs Nimroud, where they dig out the winged lions and flying
bulls with the heads of men, and the stones are covered with writing.
When we went to Petra, four English effendis and your servant, we were
watched by the emir and his men; and it was so in Cyprus, when the
effendi I was with--an American excellency--set men to work to dig out
the carved stones and idols from a temple there--not beautiful, white
marble stones, but coarse and yellow and crumbling.  It is always a
fight here in these lands against seeking for knowledge, effendi.  It is
a thing they cannot understand."

"What shall we do, then?"

"What they do, effendi, half their time--nothing."

"But they will be a nuisance," cried the professor.

"Yes, effendi," said the guide, with a shrug of the shoulders.  "So are
the flies, but we cannot drive them away.  We must be content to go on
just as if they were not here."

The professor saw the sense of the argument, and for the next four hours
the party were busy on that hill-slope climbing amongst the stones of
the ancient city--one which must have been an important place in its
day, for everywhere lay the broken fragments of noble buildings which
had been ornamented with colonnades and cornices of elaborate
workmanship.  Halls, temples, palaces, had occupied positions that must
have made the city seem magnificent, as it rose up building upon
building against the steep slope, with the little river gurgling swiftly
at the foot.

There were the remains, too, of an aqueduct, showing a few broken arches
here and there, and plainly teaching that the water to supply the place
had been mainly brought from some cold spring high up in the mountains.

And all the time, go where they would, the travellers were followed by
the little crowd which gaped and stared, and of which some member or
another kept drawing Yussuf aside, and offering him a handsome present
if he would confess the secret that he must have learned--how the
Frankish infidels knew where treasure lay hid.

They seemed disappointed that the professor contented himself by merely
making drawings and copying fragments of inscriptions; but at last they
all uttered a grunt of satisfaction, rubbed their hands, gathered
closely round, and seated themselves upon the earth or upon stones.

For the professor had stopped short at the end of what, as far as could
be traced, seemed to be one end of a small temple whose columns and
walls lay scattered as they had fallen.

Here he deliberately took a small bright trowel from a sheath in his
belt, where he carried it as if it had been a dagger, and, stooping
down, began to dig.

That was what they were waiting for.  He had come at last upon the
treasure spot, and though the trowel seemed to be a ridiculously small
tool to work with, they felt perfectly satisfied that it was one of the
wonderful engines invented by the giaours, and that it would soon clear
away the stones and soil with which the treasure was covered.

"What are you doing?" said the old lawyer, as Lawrence helped the
professor by dragging out pieces of stone.  "Going to find anything
there?"

"I cannot say," replied the professor, who was digging away
energetically, and dislodging ants, a centipede or two, and a great many
other insects.  "This is evidently where the altar must have stood, and
most likely we shall find here either a bronze figure of the deity in
whose honour the temple was erected, or its fragments in marble."

"Humph!  I see," cried the old lawyer, growing interested; "but I beg to
remark that the evening is drawing near, and I don't think it will be
prudent to make a journey here in the dark."

"No," said the professor; "it would be a pity.  Mind, Lawrence, my lad;
what have you there?"

"Piece of stone," said the lad, dragging out a rounded fragment.

"Piece of stone!  Yes, boy, but it is a portion of a broken statue--the
folds of a robe."

"Humph!" muttered the old lawyer.  "Might be anything.  Not going to
carry it away I suppose?"

"That depends," said the professor labouring away.

"Humph!" ejaculated Mr Burne.

"How is it that such a grand city as this should have been so completely
destroyed, Mr Preston?" asked Lawrence.

"It is impossible to say.  It may have been by the ravages of fire.
More likely by war.  The nation here may have been very powerful, and a
more powerful nation attacked them, and, perhaps after a long siege, the
soldiery utterly destroyed it, while the ravages of a couple of thousand
years, perhaps of three thousand, gave the finishing touches to the
destruction, and--ah, here is another piece of the same statue."

He dragged out with great difficulty another fragment of marble which
had plainly enough been carved to represent drapery, and he was scraping
carefully from it some adhering fragments of earth, when Mr Burne
suddenly leaped up from the block of stone upon which he had been
perched, and began to shake his trousers and slap and bang his legs for
a time, and then limped up and down rubbing his calf, and muttering
angrily.

"What _is_ the matter, Mr Burne?" cried Lawrence.

"Matter, sir!  I've been bitten by one of those horrible vipers.  The
brute must have crawled up my leg and--I say, Yussuf, am I a dead man?"

"Certainly not, your excellency," replied the guide gravely.

"You are laughing at me, sir.  You know what I mean.  I am bitten by one
of those horrible vipers, am I not?"

The professor had leaped out of the little hole he had laboriously dug,
and run to his companion's side in an agony of fear.

"Your excellency has been bitten by one of these," said the guide
quietly, and he pointed to some large ants which were running all over
the stones.

"Are--are you sure?" cried Mr Burne.

"Sure, excellency?  If it had been a viper you would have felt dangerous
symptoms."

"Why, confound it, sir," cried Mr Burne, rubbing his leg which he had
laid bare, "that's exactly what I do feel--dangerous symptoms."

"What?  What do you feel?" cried the professor excitedly.

"As if someone had bored a hole in my leg, and were squirting melted
lead into all my veins--right up my leg, sir.  It's maddening!  It's
horrible!  It's worse than--worse than--there, I was going to say gout,
Lawrence, but I'll say it's worse than being caned.  Now, Yussuf, what
do you say to that, sir, eh?"

"Ants, your excellency.  They bite very sharply, and leave quite a
poison in the wound."

"Quite a poison, sir!--poison's nothing to it!  Here, I say, what am I
to do?"

"If your excellency will allow me," said Yussuf, "I will prick the bite
with the point of my knife, and then rub in a little brandy."

"Yes, do, for goodness' sake, man, before I go mad."

"Use this," said the professor, taking a little stoppered bottle from
his pocket.

"What is it--more poison?" cried Mr Burne.

"Ammonia," said the professor quietly.

"Humph!" ejaculated the patient; and he sat down on another stone, after
making sure that it did not cover an insect's nest, and had not been
made the roof of a viper's home.

Quite a crowd gathered round, to the old lawyer's great disgust, as he
prepared himself for the operation.

"Hang the scoundrels!" he cried; "anyone would think they had never seen
an old man's white leg before."

"I don't suppose they ever have, Mr Burne," said Lawrence.

"Why, you are laughing at me, you dog!  Hang it all, sir, it's too bad.
Never mind, it will be your turn next; and look here, Lawrence," he
cried with a malignant grin, "this is a real bite, not a sham one.  I'm
not pretending that I have been bitten by a snake."

"Why, Mr Burne--"

"Well, I thought it was, but it is a real bite.  Here, you, Yussuf, hold
hard--what a deadly-looking implement!" he cried, as their guide bared
his long keen knife.  "Look here, sir, I know I'm a dog--a giaour, and
that you are one of the faithful, and that it is a good deed on your
part to injure me as an enemy, but, mind this, if you stick that knife
thing into my leg too far, I'll--I'll--confound you, sir!--I'll bring an
action against you, and ruin you, as sure as my name's Burne."

"Have no fear, effendi," said Yussuf gravely, going down on one knee,
while the people crowded round.

"Cut gently, my dear fellow," said Mr Burne; "it isn't kabobs or tough
chicken, it's human leg.  Hang it all!  You great stupids, what are you
staring at?  Give a man room to breathe--_wough_!  Oh, I say, Yussuf,
that was a dig."

"Just enough to make it bleed, effendi.  There, that will take out some
of the poison, and now I'll touch the place with some of this spirit."

"_Wough_!" ejaculated Mr Burne again, as the wound was touched with the
stopper of the bottle.  "I say, that's sharp.  Humph! it does not hurt
quite so much now, only smarts.  Thank ye, Yussuf.  Why, you are quite a
surgeon.  Here, what are those fellows chattering about?"

"They say the Franks are a wonderful people to carry cures about in
little bottles like that."

"Humph!  I wish they'd kill their snakes and insects, and not waste
their time staring," said the old gentleman, drawing up his stocking,
after letting the ammonia dry in the sun.  "Yes; I'm better now," he
added, drawing down his trouser leg.  "Much obliged, Yussuf.  Don't you
take any notice of what I say when I'm cross."

"I never do, excellency," said Yussuf smiling gravely.

"Oh, you don't--don't you?"

"No, effendi, because I know that you are a thorough gentleman at
heart."

"Humph!" said Mr Burne, as he limped to where the professor had resumed
his digging.  "Do you know, Lawrence, I begin to think sometimes that
our calm, handsome grave Turkish friend there, is the better gentleman
of the two."



CHAPTER THIRTY.

A TERROR OF THE COUNTRY.

It was now evening, but instead of the air becoming cooler with the wind
that blew from the mountains, a peculiar hot breath seemed to be exhaled
from the earth.  The stones which had been baking in the sun all day
gave out the heat they had taken in, and a curious sombre stillness was
over everything.

"Are we going to have a storm, Yussuf?" said Mr Burne, as he looked
round at the lurid brassy aspect of the heavens, and the wild
reflections upon the mountains.

"No, excellency, I think not; and the people here seem to think the
same."

"Why?  They don't say anything."

"No, excellency, but if they felt a storm coming they would have long
ago hurried back to their houses instead of sitting here so contentedly
waiting to see the effendi dig out his treasure."

For the people had not budged an inch, but patiently watched every
movement made by the travellers, crouching as it were, ready to spring
forward, and see the first great find.

But the professor made no great discovery.  He was evidently right about
the building having been a temple, and it seemed as if an altar must
have stood there, bearing a figure of which he picked up several pieces
beautifully sculptured, but nothing that could be restored by piecing
together; and when, wearied out, he turned to examine some other parts
of the old temple, the most interesting thing that he found was a piece
of column, nearly buried, and remarkable for containing two of the
rounds or drums secured together by means of molten lead poured through
suitable holes cut in the stones.

"There," he said at last, "I have been so deeply interested in what I
have seen here, that I owe you plenty of apologies, Burne, and you too,
Lawrence."

"Humph!" grunted the old lawyer, "you owe me nothing.  I would as soon
stop here and look about at the mountains, as go on somewhere else.  My
word, though, what a shame it seems that these pigs of people should
have such a glorious country to live in, while we have nothing better
than poor old England, with its fogs and cold east winds."

"But this peace is not perfect," said the professor.  "And now, look
here; we had better go back to our last night's lodgings.  We can get a
good meal there and rest."

"The very thing I was going to propose," said Mr Burne quickly.
"Depend upon it that man will give us a pilaf for supper."

"And without Yussuf's stick," said the professor smiling.  "But come
along.  Let's look at the horses."

The horses were in good plight, for Yussuf and Hamed had watered them,
and they had made a good meal off the grass and shoots which grew
amongst the ruins.

They were now busily finishing a few handfuls of barley which had been
poured for them in an old ruined trough, close to some half dozen broken
pillars and a piece of stone wall that had been beautifully built; and,
as soon as the patient beasts had finished, they were bridled and led
out to where the professor and his friends were standing looking
wonderingly round at the peculiar glare over the landscape.

"Just look at those people," cried Lawrence suddenly; and the scene
below them caught their eye.  For, no sooner had the professor and his
companions left the coast clear than these people made a rush for the
hole, which they seemed to have looked upon as a veritable gold mine,
and in and about this they were digging and tearing out the earth,
quarrelling, pushing and lighting one with the other for the best
places.

"How absurd!" exclaimed the professor.  "I did not think of that.  I
ought to have paid them, and made them with their tools do all the work,
while I looked on and examined all they turned up."

"It would have been useless, effendi," said Yussuf.  "Unless you had
brought an order to the pasha of the district, and these people had been
forced to work, they would not have stirred.  Ah!"

Yussuf uttered a peculiar cry, and the men who were digging below them
gave vent to a shrill howl, and leaped out of the pit they were digging
to run shrieking back towards the village on the other slope.

For all at once it seemed to Lawrence that he was back on shipboard,
with the vessel rising beneath his feet and the first symptoms of
sea-sickness coming on.

Then close at hand, where the horses had so short a time before been
feeding, the piece of well-built wall toppled over, and three of the
broken columns fell with a crash, while a huge cloud of dust rose from
the earth.

The horses snorted and trembled, and again there came that sensation of
the earth heaving up, just as if it were being made to undulate like the
waves at sea.

Lawrence threw himself down, while Yussuf clung to the horses' bridles,
as if to guard against a stampede, and the driver stood calmly in the
attitude of prayer.

Then again and again the whole of the mountain side shook and undulated,
waving up and down till the sensation of sickness became intolerable,
and all the while there was the dull roar of falling stones above,
below, away to the left and right.  Now some huge mass seemed to drop on
to the earth with a dull thud, another fell upon other stones, and
seemed to be broken to atoms, and again and again others seemed to slip
from their foundations, and go rolling down like an avalanche, and once
more all was still.

"Is it an earthquake?" said Lawrence at last in a low awe-stricken tone.

"Seems like a dozen earthquakes," said the old lawyer.  "My goodness me!
What a place for a town!"

And as they all stood there trembling and expecting the next shock, not
knowing but the earth might open a vast cavity into which the whole
mountain would plunge, a huge cloud of dust arose, shutting out
everything that was half a dozen yards away, and the heated air grew
more and more suffocating.

It was plain enough to understand now why it was that in the course of
time this beautiful city should have been destroyed.  The first disaster
might have been caused by war, but it was evident that this was a region
where earth disturbance was a frequent occurrence, and as time rolled
by, every shock would tear down more and more of the place.

Very little was said, for though no great shock came now, there were
every few minutes little vibrations beneath their feet, as if the earth
was trembling from the effect of the violent efforts it had made.

Now and then they held their breath as a stronger agitation came, and
once this ended with what seemed to be a throb or a sound as if the
earth had parted and then closed up again.

Then came a lapse, during which the travellers sat in the midst of the
thick mist of dust waiting, waiting for the next great throb, feeling
that perhaps these were only the preliminaries to some awful
catastrophe.

No one spoke, and the silence was absolutely profound.  They were
surrounded by groves where the birds as a rule piped and sang loudly;
but everything was hushed as if the thick dust-cloud had shut in all
sound.

And what a cloud of dust!  The dust of a buried city, of a people who
had lived when the earth was a couple of thousand years or more younger,
when western Europe was the home of barbarians.  The dust of buildings
that had been erected by the most civilised peoples then dwelling in the
world, and this now rising in the thick dense cloud which seemed as if
it would never pass.

An hour must have gone by, and they were conscious as they stood there
in a group that the mist looked blacker, and by this they felt that the
night must be coming on.  For some time now there had not been the
slightest quiver of the ground, and in place of the horses standing with
their legs spread wide and heads low, staring wildly, and snorting with
dread, they had gathered themselves together again, and were beginning
to crop the herbage here and there, but blowing over it and letting it
fall from their lips again as if in disgust.

And no wonder, for every blade and leaf was covered with a fine
impalpable powder, while, as the perspiration dried upon the exposed
parts of the travellers, their skins seemed to be stiff and caked with
the dust.

"I think the earthquake is over, excellencies," said Yussuf calmly.  "I
could not be sure, but the look of the sky this evening was strange."

"I had read of earthquakes out here," said the professor, who was
gaining confidence now; "but you do not often have such shocks as
these?"

"Oh, yes, effendi; it is not an unusual thing.  Much more terrible than
this; whole towns are sometimes swallowed up.  Hundreds of lives are
lost, and hundreds left homeless."

"Then you call this a slight earthquake?" said Mr Burne.

"Certainly, excellency, here," was the reply.  "It may have been very
terrible elsewhere.  Terrible to us if we had been standing beside those
stones which fell.  It would have been awful enough if all these ruins
had been, as they once were, grandly built houses and temples."

"And I was grumbling about poor dear old sooty, foggy England," said Mr
Burne.  "Dear, dear, dear, what foolish things one says!"

"Is not the dust settling down?" said the professor just then.

"A little, your excellency; but it is so fine that unless we have a
breeze it may be hours before it is gone."

"Then what do you propose to do?" asked Mr Burne.

"What can I do, excellency, but try to keep you out of danger?"

"Yes, but how?"

"We must stay here."

"Stay here? when that village is so near at hand?"

Yussuf paused for a few minutes and then said slowly, as if the question
had just been asked:

"How do we know that the village is near at hand?"

"Ah!" ejaculated the professor, startled by the man's tone.

"It was not more than two of your English miles from here, excellency,
when we left the place this morning, but with such a shock there may be
only ruins from which the people who were spared have fled."

"How horrible!" exclaimed Lawrence.

"Let us hope that I am wrong, effendi," said Yussuf hastily.  "I only
speak."

"But we cannot stay here for the night," said Mr Burne impatiently.

"Excellency, we must stay here," said the Turk firmly.  "I am your
guide, and where I know the land I will lead you.  I knew this country
this morning, but how can I know it now?  Great chasms may lie between
us and the village--deep rifts, into which in the dust and darkness we
may walk.  You know what vast gorges and valleys lie between the hills."

"Yes," replied Mr Preston.

"Some of these have been worn down by the torrents and streams from the
mountains, others have been made in a moment by such shocks as these.  I
would gladly say, `come on; I will lead you back to the head-man's
house,' but, excellencies, I do not dare."

"He is quite right, Burne," said the professor gravely.

"Oh, yes, confound him: he always is right," cried Mr Burne.  "I wish
sometimes he were not.  Fancy camping out here for the night in this
horrible dust and with the air growing cold.  It will be icy here by and
by."

"Yes, excellency, it will be cold.  We are high up, and the snow
mountains are not far away."

"We must make the best of it, Lawrence, my boy," said the professor
cheerily.  "Then I suppose the next thing is to select a camp.  But,
Yussuf, this is rather risky.  What about the asps?"

"And the ants," cried Mr Burne with a groan.  "I can't sleep with such
bed-fellows as these."

"And the djins and evil spirits," cried Lawrence.

"Ah, I don't think they will hurt us much, my boy," said the professor.

"And there is one comfort," added Mr Burne; "we have left the cemetery
behind.  I do protest against camping there."

"A cemetery of two thousand years ago," said the professor quietly.
"Ah, Burne, we need not make that an objection.  But come, what is to be
done?"

Yussuf answered the question by calling Hamed to come and help unpack
the horses, and all then set to work to prepare to pass the night in the
midst of the ruins, and without much prospect of a fire being made.



CHAPTER THIRTY ONE.

ALI BABA'S FEAT.

The night came on colder and colder, and though Yussuf and Hamed worked
hard at cutting bushes and branches of trees, the green wood covered
with leaves obstinately refused to burn, and the result was a thick
smoke, which hung about and spread amongst the dust, making the position
of the travellers worse than before.  Yussuf searched as far as he
could, but he could find no pines, neither were there any bushes of the
laurel family, or the result would have been different.

All this while they were suffering from a nervous trepidation that made
even a heavy footfall startling, every one being in expectation of a
renewal of the earthquake shocks.

Rugs and overcoats were taken from the baggage and, giving up the fire
as a bad job, the little party were huddled together for the sake of
warmth, when all at once a breeze sprang up, and in less than half an
hour the mist of dust had been swept away, and the dark sky was overhead
studded with countless stars.

It was even colder than before, the wind that came down from the
mountains being extremely searching, and it seemed a wonder that there
could be so much difference between day and night.  But in spite of the
cold the little party felt cheered and relieved by the disappearance of
the thick mist of dust.  The bright sky above them seemed to be a sign
of the danger, having passed away, and suggestive of the morning
breaking bright and clear to give them hope and the power of seeing any
dangers that were near.

But they were not to wait till morning, for soon after the clearing away
of the mist, shouts were heard in the distance, to which they responded,
and the communication was kept up till a party of men appeared, who
proved to be no belated set of wanderers like themselves, but about
twenty of the village people under the command of the head-man, come in
search of them, and all ready to utter a wild cheer when they were
found.

The leader explained to Yussuf that the earthquake shocks had all been
on this side of the little river, the village having completely escaped.
About a couple of hours after the shocks the party of people who had
been digging for treasure returned to the village, and upon the head-man
learning that the travellers had been left up there he had organised a
party to come in search.

There was no mistaking the cordiality of the head-man or his joy at
having found them, and after helping to repack the horses he led the way
back confidently enough, and in the walk explained that the mischief
done was very slight.  No gaps had opened, as far as he knew, but at all
events the road from the old ruins to the village was safe.

"Your cudgel seems to have been a regular genii's wand, Yussuf," said
Mr Burne softly.  "You would not find it have so good an effect upon
Englishmen."

"It and your payments, effendi, have taught the man that we are people
of importance, and not to be trifled with," replied Yussuf smiling; and
Mr Burne nodded and took snuff.

In an hour they were safely back at the head-man's house, where hot
coffee and then a good meal prepared all for their night's rest amidst
the warm rugs which were spread for them; and feeling that no watch was
necessary here, all were soon in a deep sleep, Lawrence being too tired
even to think of the danger to which they had been exposed.

Directly after breakfast next morning the head-man came to them with a
very serious look upon his countenance.

The people of the village were angry, he said to Yussuf, and were
uttering threats against the strangers, for it was due to them that the
earthquake had taken place.  Every one knew that the old ruins were the
homes of djins and evil spirits.  The strangers had been interfering
with those ruins, and the djins and evil spirits had resented it.

"But," said Yussuf, "your people did more than their excellencies."

"Yes, perhaps so," said the head-man; "but they are fools and pigs.  Let
the English effendis go, and not touch the ruins again."

Yussuf explained, and the professor made a gesture full of annoyance.

"Ask him, Yussuf, if he believes this nonsense."

"Not when I am with you, excellencies," he said smiling; "but when I am
with my people, I do.  If I did not think as they do I could not live
with them.  I am head-man, but if they turn against me they are the
masters, and I am obliged to do as they wish."

There was nothing for it but to go, and they left the village with all
its interesting surroundings as soon as the horses were packed, the
people uttering more than one menacing growl till they were out of
hearing.

"So vexatious!" exclaimed the professor.  "I feel as if we have done
wrong in giving up.  The firman ought to have been sufficient.  We shall
never find such a place again--so rich in antiquities.  I have a good
mind to turn back."

"No, no, effendi," said Yussuf, "it would only mean trouble.  I can take
you to fifty places as full of old remains.  Trust to me and I will show
you the way."

They journeyed on for days, finding good, bad, and indifferent lodgings.
Sometimes they were received by the people with civility, at others
with suspicion, for Yussuf was taking them farther and farther into the
mountains, where the peasants were ignorant and superstitious to a
degree; but, save where they crossed some plain, they were everywhere
impressed by the grandeur of the country, and the utter ruin and neglect
which prevailed.  Roads, cities, land, all seemed to have been allowed
to go to decay; and, to make the journey the longer and more arduous,
over and over again, where they came to a bridge, it was to find that it
had been broken down for years, and this would often mean a journey
along the rugged banks perhaps for miles before they found a place where
it was wise to try and ford the swollen stream.

There was always something, though, to interest the professor--a
watch-tower in ruins at the corner of some defile, the remains of a
castle, an aqueduct, a town with nothing visible but a few scattered
stones, or a cemetery with the remains of marble tombs.

Day after day fresh ruins to inspect, with the guide proving his value
more and more, and relieving the party a great deal from the
pertinacious curiosity of the scattered people, who would not believe
that the travellers were visiting the country from a desire for
knowledge.

It must be for the buried treasures of the old people, they told Yussuf
again and again; and they laughed at him derisively as he repeated his
assurances.

"Don't tell them any more," Lawrence used to say in a pet; "let the
stupids waste their time."

Sometimes this constant examination of old marbles and this digging out
of columns or slabs grew wearisome to the lad, but not often, for there
was too much exciting incident in their travels through gorge and
gully--along shelves where the horses could hardly find foothold, but
slipped and scrambled, with terrible precipices beneath, such as at
first made the travellers giddy, but at last became so common, and their
horses gave them so much confidence, that they ceased to be alarmed.

It was a wonderful country, such as they had not dreamed could exist so
near Europe, while everywhere, as the investigations went on, they were
impressed with the feeling that, unsafe as it was now, in the past it
must have been far worse, for on all hands there were the remains of
strongholds, perched upon the top of precipitous heights with the most
giddy and perilous of approaches, where, once shut in, a handful of
sturdy Greeks or stout Romans could have set an army at defiance.  This
was the more easy from the fact that ammunition was plentiful in the
shape of rocks and stones, which the defenders could have sent crashing
down upon their foes.

It was one evening when the difficulties of the day's journey had been
unusually great that they were on their way toward a village beyond
which, high up in the mountains, Yussuf spoke of a ruined city that he
had only visited once, some twenty years before.  He had reserved it as
one of the choicest bits for his employers, and whenever Lawrence had
been enraptured over some fine view or unusually grand remains Yussuf
had smiled and said, "Wait."

Their progress that day had been interrupted by a storm, which forced
them to take shelter for a couple of hours, during which the hail had
fallen in great lumps as big as walnuts, and when this was over it lay
on the ridges in white beds and crunched beneath the feet of their
horses.

Their way lay along one of the defiles where the road had been made to
follow the edge of the stream, keeping to its windings; but as they
descended a slope, and came near the little river, Yussuf drew rein.

"It is impossible, excellencies," he said; "the path is covered by the
torrent, and the water is rising fast."

"But is there no other way--a mile or two round?" said the professor.

Yussuf shook his head as he pointed to the mountains that rose on every
side.

"It is only here and there that there is a pass," he said.  "There is no
other way for three days' journey.  We must go back to the place where
we sheltered and wait till the river flows back to its bed."

"How long?" asked Mr Burne; "an hour or two?"

"Perhaps longer, effendi," said Yussuf.  "Mind how you turn round; there
is very little room."

They had become so accustomed to ride along shelves worn and cut in the
mountain sides that they had paid little heed to this one as they
descended, their attention having been taken by the hail that whitened
the ledges; but now, as they were turning to ascend the steep slope cut
diagonally along the precipitous side of the defile, the dangerous
nature of the way became evident.

But no one spoke for fear of calling the attention of his companions to
the risky nature of the ride back; so, giving their horses the rein, the
docile beasts planted their feet together, and turned as if upon a pivot
before beginning to ascend.

So close was the wall of rock in places that the baggage brushed the
side, and threatened to thrust off the horses and send them headlong
down the slope, that began by being a hundred feet, and gradually
increased till it was five, then ten, and then at least fifteen hundred
feet above the narrow rift, where the stream rushed foaming along,
sending up a dull echoing roar that seemed to quiver in the air.

How it happened no one knew.  They had plodded on, reaching the highest
part, with Hamed and the baggage-horses in front, for there had been no
room to pass them.  First Yussuf, then the professor, Mr Burne and
Lawrence on Ali Baba, of course counting from the rear.  There was a
good deal of hail upon the path, but melting so fast in the hot sun that
it was forgotten, and all were riding slowly on, when the second baggage
horse must have caught its load against the rock, with the result that
it nearly fell over the side.  The clever beast managed to save itself,
and all would have been well had it not startled Ali Baba, who made a
plunge, stepped upon a heap of the hail, and slipped, the left fore-hoof
gliding off the ledge.

The brave little animal made a desperate effort to recover itself, but
it had lost its balance, and in its agony it made a bound, which took it
ten feet forward, and along the rapid slope, where it seemed to stand
for a moment, and then, to the horror of all, it began to slip and
stumble rapidly down the steep side of the ravine towards a part that
was nearly perpendicular, and where horse and rider must be hurled down
to immediate death.

Everyone remained motionless as if changed to stone, while the
clattering of the little horse's hoofs went on, and great fragments went
rattling off beneath it to increase their pace and go plunging down into
the abyss as if to show the way for the horse to follow to destruction.

It was all a matter of moments, with the gallant little beast making
bound after bound downward, as it felt that it could not retain its
position, while Lawrence sat well back in his saddle, gripping it
tightly with his knees, and holding the loosened rein.

Another bound, and another, but no foothold for the horse, and then,
after one of its daring leaps, which were more those of a mountain sheep
or goat than of a horse, Ali Baba alighted at the very edge of the
perpendicular portion of the valley side, and those above saw him totter
for a moment, and then leap right off into space.



CHAPTER THIRTY TWO.

ANOTHER SERPENT.

The professor uttered a groan, and covered his eyes.

But only for a moment.  The next he was descending from his horse, and
beginning to clamber down the side of the precipice, but a cry from
Yussuf stopped him.

"No, no, effendi.  We must go back down to the side of the river and
climb up.  We cannot descend."

It was so plain that the professor said nothing; but, as if yielding to
the command of a superior officer, clambered back to the pathway, and
all stood gazing down to where the slope ended and the perpendicular
wall began.

There was nothing to see but the top of the wall of rock: nothing to
hear but the hissing, roaring rush of the water far below.

"Come," said Yussuf, turning his horse, and taking the lead in the
descent along the path they had just reascended, down which, scrambling
and slipping over the thawing ice, they crept slowly, looking in the
midst of the stupendous chasm little bigger than flies.

The old lawyer trembled, while the professor's cheeks looked sunken, his
eyes hollow.  No one spoke, and as they went on, the crunching of the
half-melted hailstones and the click of the horses' hoofs against the
loosened stones sounded loudly in the clear air.

It was a perilous descent, for the horses were constantly slipping; but
at last the bottom of the defile was reached, and the steeds being left
in charge of Hamed, Yussuf turned sharply to the right, closely followed
by Mr Preston and Mr Burne, to climb along the steep stone-burdened
slope, where the flooded mountain torrent was just beneath them and
threatening to sweep them away.

Yussuf turned from time to time to look at his companions, half
expecting that they would not follow, for the way he took was extremely
perilous, and he fully expected to see Mr Preston give up in despair.
But, experienced as he was in the ways of Englishmen, he did not quite
understand their nature, for not only was the professor toiling on over
the mossy stones just behind him, but Mr Burne, with his face
glistening in perspiration and a set look of determination in his
features, was clambering up and sliding down with unwonted agility, but
with a piteous look in his eyes which told how painfully he felt the
position in which they were placed.

No one spoke, every effort being needed for the toilsome task, as they
clambered along, now down in narrow rifts, now dragging themselves
painfully over the rugged masses of rock which lay as they had fallen
from the side of the defile, a couple of thousand feet above them.  The
scene would have appeared magnificent at another time; the colours of
the rocks, the tufts of verdant bushes, the gloriously-mossed stones,
the patches of white hail, and the glancing, rushing, and gleaming
torrent, which was here deep and dark, there one sheet of white
effervescing foam.  But the hearts of all were too full, and their
imaginations were painting the spectacle upon which they soon expected
to gaze, namely, the terribly mutilated body of poor Lawrence, battered
by his fall out of recognition.

One moment Mr Preston was asking himself how he could make arrangements
for taking the remains of the poor lad home.  At another he was thinking
that it would be impossible, and that he must leave him sleeping in this
far-off land.  While, again, the course of his thoughts changed, and he
found himself believing that poor Lawrence would have fallen and rolled
on, and then, in company with the avalanche of loose stones set in
motion by his horse's hoof's, have been plunged into the furious
torrent, and been borne away never to be seen again.

A curious dimness came over the professor's eyes, as he paused for a
moment or two upon the top of a rock, to gaze before him.  But there was
nothing visible, for the defile at the bottom curved and zigzagged so
that they could not see thirty yards before them, and where it was most
straight the abundant foliage of the trees growing out of the cliffs
rendered seeing difficult.

"It must have been somewhere here, effendi," said Yussuf at last,
pausing for the others to overtake him, and pointing upwards.  "Let us
separate now, and search about.  You, Mr Burne, keep close down by the
river; you, Mr Preston, go forward here; and I will climb up--it is
more difficult--and search there.  I will shout if I have anything to
say."

The professor looked up to find that he was at the foot of a mass of
rock, high up on whose side there seemed to be a ledge, and then another
steep ascent, broken by shelves of rock and masses which seemed to be
ready to crumble down upon their heads.

Each man felt as if he ought to shout the lad's name, and ask him to
give some token of his whereabouts, but no one dared open his lips for
the dread of the answer to the calls being only the echoes from the
rocks above, while beneath there was the dull, hurrying roar of the
torrent which rose and fell, seeming to fill the air with a curious
hissing sound, and making the earth vibrate beneath their feet.

They were separating, with the tension of pain upon their minds seeming
more than they could bear, when, all at once, from far above, there was
a cry which made them start and gaze upward.

"Ahoy-y-oy!"

There was nothing visible, and they remained perfectly silent--
listening, and feeling that they must have been mistaken; but just then
a stone came bounding down, to fall some fifty feet in front, right on
to a mass of rock, and split into a score of fragments.

Then again:

"Ahoy!  Where are you all?"

"Lawrence, ahoy!" shouted the professor, with his hands to his mouth.

"Ahoy!" came again from directly overhead.  "Here.  How am I to get
down?"

All started back as far as they could to gaze upward, and then remained
silent, too much overcome by their emotion to speak, for there, perched
up at least a thousand feet above them, stood Lawrence in an opening
among the trees, right upon a shelf of rock.  They could see his horse's
head beside him, and the feeling of awe and wonder at the escape had an
effect upon the party below as if they had been stunned.

"How--am--I--to--get--down?" shouted Lawrence again.

Yussuf started out of his trance and answered:

"Stay where you are.  I will try and climb up."

"All right," cried Lawrence from his eyrie.

"Are you hurt, my boy?" cried Mr Preston; and his voice was repeated
from the face of the rock on the other side.

"No, not much," came back faintly, for the boy's voice was lost in the
immensity of the place around.

"We will come to you," cried the professor, and he began to follow
Yussuf, who was going forward to find the end of the mass of rock wall,
and try to discover some way of reaching the shelf where the boy was
standing with his horse.

"Are you coming too, effendi?" said Yussuf at the end of a few minutes'
walking.

"Yes," said the professor.  "You will wait here, will you not, Burne?"

"Of course I shall--not," said the old lawyer.  "You don't suppose that
I am going to stand still and not make any effort to help the boy, do
you, Preston?  Hang it all, sir! he is as much interest to me as to
you."

It was evident that Mr Burne was suffering from exhaustion, but he
would not give in, and for the next two hours he clambered on after his
companions, till it seemed hopeless to attempt farther progress along
the defile in that direction, and they were about to go back in the
other, to try and find a way up there, when Yussuf, who was ahead,
suddenly turned a corner and uttered a cry of delight which brought his
companions to his side.

There was nothing very attractive to see when they reached him, only a
rushing little torrent at the bottom of a rift hurrying to join the
stream below; but it was full of moment to Yussuf, for it led upward,
and it was a break in the great wall of rock.

Yussuf explained this clearly, and, plunging down, he was in a few
minutes holding out his hand to his companions, and pointing out that
the path was easier a few yards on.

So it proved, for the stream grew less, and they were able to climb up
its bed with ease, finding, too, that it led in the direction they
wanted to take, as well as upward, till, at the end of an hour, they
were able to turn off along a steep slope with a wall of rock above them
and another below.

The obstacles they met with were plentiful enough, but not great; and at
last, when they felt that they were fully a thousand feet above the
torrent, and somewhere near the spot on which they had hailed Lawrence,
Yussuf stopped, but no one was to be seen.

"That must be the shelf below us yonder, effendi," said the guide.  "I
seem to know it because of the big tree across the valley.  Yes; that
must be the shelf."

He led the way to try and descend to it, but that proved impossible,
though it was only some fifty feet below.

Retracing their steps they were still defeated, but, upon going forward
once more, Yussuf found what was quite a crack in the rocks, some huge
earthquake split which proved to be passable, in spite of the bushes and
stones with which it was choked, and after a struggle they found
themselves upon an extensive ledge of the mountain, but no Lawrence.

"The wrong place, Yussuf," said the professor, as Mr Burne seated
himself, panting, upon a block of stone, and wiped his face.

"No, effendi; but I am sure it was here," said the Turk quietly.  "Hush!
what is that?"

The sound came from beyond a mass of rock, which projected from the
shelf over the edge of the precipice, the perpendicular rock seeming to
fall from here sheer to the torrent, that looked small and silvery now
from where they stood.

"It is a horse feeding," said Yussuf smiling.  "They are over yonder."

The next minute they were by the projecting rock which cut the shelf in
two.

Yussuf went close to the edge, rested his hand upon the stone, and
peered over.

"Only a bird could get round there," he said, shaking his head, and
going to the slope above the ledge.  "We must climb over."

Mr Burne looked up at the place where they were expected to climb with
a lugubrious expression of countenance; but he jumped up directly, quite
willing to make the attempt, and followed his companions.

The climb proved less difficult than it seemed, and on reaching the top,
some fifty feet above where they had previously stood, there below them
stood Ali Baba, cropping the tender shoots of a large bush, and as soon
as he caught sight of them he set up a loud neigh.

There was no sign of Lawrence, though, until they had descended to the
shelf on that side, when they found him lying upon the short growth fast
asleep, evidently tired out with waiting.

"My dear boy!" was on the professor's lips; and he was about to start
forward, but Yussuf caught him roughly by the shoulder, and held him
back.

"Hist!  Look!" he whispered.

Both the professor and Mr Burne stood chilled to the heart, for they
could see the head of an ugly grey coarsely scaled viper raised above
its coil, and gazing at them threateningly, after having been evidently
alarmed by the noise which they had made.

The little serpent had settled itself upon the lad's bare throat, and a
reckless movement upon the part of the spectators, a hasty waking on the
sleeper's part might end in a venomous bite from the awakened beast.

"What shall we do, Yussuf?" whispered, the professor in a hoarse
whisper.  "I dare not fire."

"Be silent, effendi, and leave it to me," was whispered back; and, while
the two Englishmen looked on with their hearts beating anxiously, the
Turk slowly advanced, taking the attention of the serpent more and more.

As he approached, the venomous little creature crept from the boy's neck
on to his chest, and there paused, waving its head to and fro, and
menacingly thrusting out its forked tongue.

The danger to be apprehended was a movement upon the part of Lawrence,
who appeared to be sleeping soundly, but who might at any moment awaken.
Yussuf, however, was ready to meet the emergency, for he slowly
continued to advance with his staff thrown back and held ready to
strike, while, as he came nearer, the serpent seemed to accept the
challenge, and crawled slowly forward, till it was upon a level with the
lad's hips.

That was near enough for Yussuf, who noted how Lawrence's hands were
well out of danger, being beneath his head.

He hesitated no longer, but advanced quickly, his companions watching
his movements with the most intense interest, till the serpent raised
itself higher, threw back its head, and seemed about to throw itself
upon its advancing enemy.

The rest was done in a flash, for there was a loud _whizz_ in the air as
Yussuf's staff swept over Lawrence, striking the serpent, rapid as was
its action, low down in the body, and the virulent little creature,
broken and helpless, was driven over the edge of the precipice to fall
far away among the bushes below.

"Hallo! what's that?" cried Lawrence, starting up.  "Oh, you've got
here, then."

"Yes; we are here, my lad," cried the professor, catching one hand, as
the old lawyer took the other.  "Are you much hurt?"

"Only stiff and shaken.  Ali made such a tremendous leap--I don't know
how far it was; and then he came down like an india-rubber ball, and
bounded again and again till he could find good foothold, and then we
slipped slowly till we could stop here, and it seemed as if we could go
no farther."

"What an escape!" muttered Mr Burne, looking up.

"Oh, it wasn't there," said Lawrence patting his little horse's neck.
"It must have been quite a quarter of a mile from here.  But how did you
come?"

Yussuf explained, and then Mr Preston looked aghast at the rock they
had climbed over.

"Why, we shall have to leave the pony," he said.

"Oh, no, effendi," replied Yussuf; "leave him to me.  He can climb like
a goat."

And so it proved, for the brave little beast, as soon as it was led to
the task by the rein passed over its head, climbed after Yussuf, and in
fact showed itself the better mountaineer of the two, while, after the
rock was surmounted, and a descent made upon the other side, it followed
its master in the arduous walk, slipping and gliding down the
torrent-bed when they reached it, till at last they reached the greater
stream, which to their delight had fallen to its regular summer volume,
the effects of the storm having passed away, and the sandy bed being
nearly bare.

Theirs proved quite an easy task now, in spite of weariness; and as
evening fell, they reached Hamed, camped by the roadside, with the
horses grazing on the bushes and herbage, all being ready to salute Ali
Baba with a friendly neigh.

They had a long journey before them still; but there was only one thing
to be done now--unpack the provisions, light a fire, make coffee, and
try to restore some of their vigour exhausted by so many hours of toil.



CHAPTER THIRTY THREE.

A FORMIDABLE PARTY.

Fortunately for the travellers a glorious moonlight night followed the
glowing evening, and they reached in safety a mountain village, where,
awed by their appearance and display of arms, the rather surly people
found them a resting-place.

For days and days after this their way was on and on, among the
mountains, deeper and deeper in the grand wild country.  Sometimes they
encountered good and sometimes surly treatment, but the beauty of the
scenery and the wonderful remains of ancient occupation recompensed the
professor, while Mr Burne in his snappish manner seemed to be satisfied
in seeing Lawrence's interest in everything around him, his relish for
the various objects increasing every hour.

For the change was unmistakable; he was making rapid progress back to
health; and instead of the rough life and privations of hunger, thirst,
and exposure having a bad effect, they seemed to rouse up in his nature
a determination that rapidly resulted in vigour.

"What are you going to show us to-day, Yussuf?" asked the lad, one
glorious autumn morning, when the little party were winding along one of
the many mountain tracks, so like others they had passed that they might
have been repeating their journey.

"Before long we shall reach the great ruins of which I have so often
spoken," replied Yussuf, smiling at the boy's eager look.

"At last!" cried Lawrence.  "I began to think that we were never going
to get there.  But is there nothing to see to-day?"

"Yes," replied Yussuf.  "We are approaching a village now.  It lies
yonder low down in this rift--where the cedars are half-way up on that
shelf in the mountain side."

"Yes; I see," replied Lawrence; "but what a place!  Why, they must be
without sun half their time."

"Oh, no, effendi," said Yussuf; "certainly they are in shadow at times,
but though the village seems to lie low, we are high up in the
mountains, and when it is scorching in the plains, and the grass withers
for want of water, and down near the sea people die of fever and
sunstroke, up here it is cool and pleasant, and the flowers are
blossoming, and the people gather in their fruit and tend their bees."

"And in the winter, Yussuf?" said the professor, who had been listening
to the conversation.

"Ah, yes, in the winter, effendi, it is cold.  There is the snow, and
the wolves and the bears come down from the mountains.  It is a bad time
then.  But what will you?--is it always summer and sunshine everywhere?
Ah! look, effendi Lawrence," he cried, pointing across the narrow gorge,
"you can see from here."

"See what?" cried Lawrence.  "I can only see some holes."

"Yes; those are the caves where the people here keep their bees.  The
hives are in yonder."

"What, in those caves?"

"Yes; the people are great keepers of bees, for they thrive well, and
there is abundance of blossom for the making of honey."

"But why do they put the hives in yonder?"

"In the caves?  Because they are out of the sun, which would make the
honey pour down and run out in the hot summer time, and in the winter
the caverns are not so cold.  It does not freeze hard there, and the
hives are away out of the snow, which lies so heavy here in the
mountains.  It is very beautiful up here, and in the spring among the
trees there is no such place anywhere in the country for nightingales;
they till the whole valley with their song.  Now, effendi, look before
you."

They had reached a turn in the valley, where once more a grand view of
the mountain chain spread before them, far as eye could reach, purple
mountains, and beyond them mountains that seemed to be of silver, where
the snow-capped their summits.

But among them were several whose regular form took the professor's
attention directly, and he pointed them out.

"Old volcanoes," he said quietly.

"Where?" cried Lawrence.  "I want above all things to see a burning
mountain."

"You can see mountains that once burned," said the professor; "but there
are none here burning now."

"How disappointing!" cried Lawrence.  "I should like to see one burn."

"Then we must go and see Vesuvius," cried Mr Burne decisively.  "He
shall not be disappointed."

"I think the young effendi may perhaps see one burning a little here,"
said Yussuf quietly.  "There are times when a curious light is seen
floating up high among the mountains.  The peasants call it a spirit
light, but it must be the sulphurous glare rising from one of the old
cones, above some of which I have seen smoke hanging at times."

"Why, Yussuf, you are quite a professor yourself, with your cones, and
sulphurous, and arguments," cried Mr Burne.

"A man cannot be wandering all his life among nature's wonders, effendi,
and showing English, and French, and German men of wisdom the way,
without learning something.  But I will watch each night and see if I
can make out the light over the mountains."

"Do, Yussuf," cried the professor eagerly.

Yussuf bowed.

"I will, excellency, but it is not often seen--only now and then."

They began to descend the side of the defile, and before long came upon
a fine grove of ancient planes, upon some of whose leafless limbs tall
long-necked storks were standing, placidly gazing down at them unmoved;
and it was not until the party were close by that they spread their
wings, gave a kind of bound, and floated off, the protection accorded to
them making them fearless in the extreme.

"Stop!" cried the professor suddenly, and the little party came to a
stand by a rough craggy portion of the way where many stones lay bare.

"Well, what is it?" cried Mr Burne impatiently, "I'm sure those are
natural or live stones, as you call them."

"Yes," said the professor; "it was not the stones which attracted me,
but the spring."

"Well, we have passed hundreds of better springs than that, and besides
it is bad water; see, my horse will not touch it."

"I thought I was right," cried the professor dismounting.  "Look here,
Lawrence, that decides it; here is our first hot spring."

"Hot?" cried Lawrence, leaping off and bending over the spring.  "Why,
so it is."

"Yes, a pretty good heat.  This is interesting."

"It is a volcanic country, then," said Lawrence eagerly.  "Oh, Mr
Preston, we must see a burning mountain."

"It does not follow that there are burning mountains now," said the
professor smiling, "because we find hot springs."

"Doesn't it?" said Lawrence in a disappointed tone.

"Certainly not.  You would be puzzled to find a volcano in England, and
yet you have hot springs in Bath."

"Effendi, be on your guard.  I do not like the look of these people,"
said Yussuf quickly, for a party of mounted men, all well-armed, was
seen coming from the opposite direction; but they passed on scowling,
and examining the little group by the hot spring suspiciously.

"A false alarm, Yussuf," said the professor smiling.

"No, effendi," he replied; "these are evil men.  Let us get on and not
stop at this village, but make our way to the next by another track
which I know, so as to reach the old ruined city, and they may not
follow.  If they do, I think they will not suspect the way we have
gone."

There seemed to be reasons for Yussuf's suspicions, the men having a
peculiarly evil aspect.  A perfectly honest man sometimes belies his
looks, but when a dozen or so of individuals mounted upon shabby Turkish
ponies, all well-armed, and wearing an eager sinister look upon their
countenances, are seen together, if they are suspected of being a
dishonest lot, there is every excuse for those who suspect them.

"'Pon my word, Preston," said Mr Burne, "I think we had better get off
as soon as possible."

"Oh, I don't know," replied the professor; "the men cannot help their
looks.  We must not think everyone we see is a brigand."

"You may think that those are, effendi," said Yussuf in his quiet way.
"Let us get on.  You go to the front and follow the track beyond the
village--you can make no mistake, and I will hang back and try and find
out whether we are followed."

"Do you think there is danger, then?" whispered the professor.

"I cannot say, effendi; it may be so.  If you hear me fire, be on your
guard, and if I do not return to you, hasten on to the next village, and
stay till you have sent messengers to find an escort to take you back."

"Yussuf! is it so serious as that?"

"I don't know, effendi.  I hope not, but we must be prepared."



CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR.

A STARTLING CHECK.

Yussuf's suspicions seemed to be without reason, for the rest of that
day's journey was finished without adventure, and the party reached a
village and found good quarters for the night.

So comfortable were they that the scare was laughed at, and it seemed to
all three that Yussuf was rather ashamed of his timidity.

Contrary to their experience of many nights past they found the head-man
of the village civil and even bumble; but it did not excite the
suspicion of the travellers, who congratulated themselves upon their
good fortune.

The only drawback to their comfort was the fact that Lawrence was
suffering somewhat from the shock of his descent from the rocky shelf.

At first he had merely felt a little stiff, the excitement of the whole
adventure tending to keep his thoughts from his personal discomfort; but
by degrees he found that he had received a peculiar jar of the whole
system, which made the recumbent position the most comfortable that he
could occupy.

It was no wonder, for the leaps which the pony had made were tremendous,
and it was as remarkable that the little animal had kept its feet as
that Lawrence had retained his seat in the saddle.

The next morning, a memorable one in their journey, broke bright and
clear; and Lawrence, after a hearty breakfast of bread, yaourt, and
honey, supplemented by coffee which might have been better, and peaches
which could not have been excelled, mounted Ali Baba in the highest of
spirits, feeling as he did far better for his night's rest.  The sun was
shining gloriously and lighting up the sides of the mountains and
flashing from the streams that trickled down their sides.  Low down in
the deep defiles there were hanging mists which looked like veils of
silver decked with opalescent tints of the most delicate transparency,
as they floated slowly before the morning breeze.

Their host of the night wished them good speed with a smiling face, and
they were riding off when Lawrence happened to look back and saw that
the man had taken off his turban and was making a derisive gesture, to
the great delight of the group of people who were gathered round.

Lawrence thought it beneath his notice and turned away, but this once
more seemed to give strength to Yussuf's suspicions.

But a bright morning in the midst of the exhilarating mountain air is
not a time for bearing in mind suspicions, or thinking of anything but
the beauty of all around.  They were higher up in the mountains now,
with more rugged scenery and grand pine-woods; and as they rode along
another of the curious shelf-like tracks by the defile there was
constantly something fresh to see.

They had not been an hour on the road before Yussuf stopped to point
across the gorge to an object which had taken his attention on the other
side.

"Do you see, effendi Lawrence?" he said smiling.

"No."

"Yonder, just to the left of that patch of bushes where the stone looks
grey?"

"Oh, yes; I see now," cried the lad--"a black sheep."

"Look again," said Yussuf; and he clapped his hands to his mouth and
uttered a tremendous "Ha-ha!"

As the shout ran echoing along the gorge the animal on the farther
slope, quite two hundred yards away, went shuffling along at a clumsy
trot for some little distance, and then stopped and stood up on its
hind-legs and stared at them.

"A curious sheep, Lawrence!" said Mr Preston, adjusting his glass;
"what do you make of it now?"

"Why, it can't be a bear, is it?" cried Lawrence eagerly.

"Undoubtedly, and a very fine one," said Mr Preston.

"Let's have a look," said Mr Burne; and he too focussed his glass.
"Why, so it is!" he cried--"just such a one as we used to have upon the
pomatum pots.  Now, from what gardens can he have escaped?"

The professor burst out laughing merrily.

"It is the real wild animal in his native state, Burne," he said.

"Then let's shoot him and take home his skin," cried Lawrence, preparing
to fire.

"You could not kill it at this distance, effendi," said Yussuf; "and
even if you could, it would be a day's journey to get round to that side
and secure the skin.  Look!"

The chance to fire was gone as he spoke, for the bear dropped down on
all-fours, made clumsily for a pile of rocks, and Mr Preston with his
glass saw the animal disappear in a hole that was probably his cave.

"Gone, Lawrence!" said the professor.  "Let's get on."

"I should have liked to go on after him," said Lawrence, gazing at the
hole in the rocks wistfully; "there's something so strange in seeing a
real bear alive on the mountains."

"Perhaps we shall see more yet," said Yussuf, "for we are going into the
wildest part we have yet visited.  Keep a good look-out high up on each
side, and I daresay we shall not go far without finding something."

"Right, Yussuf," cried the professor; "there is another of those grand
old watch-towers.  Look, Burne!--just like the others we have seen
planted at the corner where two defiles meet."

"Ah, to be sure--yes," said the old lawyer.  "What! an eagle's nest?"

"And there goes the eagle," cried Lawrence, pointing, as a huge bird
swept by them high up on rigid wing, seeming to glide here and there
without the slightest effort.  "That's an eagle, is it not, Mr
Preston?"

"A very near relative, I should say," replied the professor.  "The
lammergeier, as they call it in the Alpine regions.  Yes, it must be.
What a magnificent bird!"

"We shall see more and finer ones, I daresay," said Yussuf! quietly;
"but the time is passing, excellencies.  We have a long journey before
us, and I should like to see the better half of a difficult way mastered
before mid-day."

Their guide's advice was always so good that they continued their slow
progress, the baggage-horses ruling the rate at which they were able to
proceed; and for the next hour they went on ascending and zigzagging
alone; the rugged mountain track, with defile and gorge and ridge of
rock rising fold upon fold, making their path increase in grandeur at
every turn, till they were in one of nature's wildest fastnesses, and
with the air perceptibly brisker and more keen.

All at once, just as they had turned into the entrance to one of the
most savage-looking denies they had yet seen, Yussuf pointed to a
distant pile of rock and said sharply:

"Look, there is an animal you may journey for days without seeing.  Take
the glass, effendi Lawrence, and say what it is."

The lad checked his pony, adjusted his glass, an example followed by the
professor, while Mr Burne indulged himself with a pinch of snuff.

"A goat," cried Lawrence, as he got the animal into the field of the
glass, and saw it standing erect upon the summit of the rock, and gazing
away from them--"A goat!  And what fine horns?"

"An ibex, Lawrence, my boy.  Goat-like if you like.  Ah, there he goes.
How easily they take alarm."

For the animal made a bound and seemed to plunge from rock to rock down
into a rift, and then up an almost perpendicular wall on the opposite
side higher and higher until it disappeared.

"It is no wonder, excellency," said Yussuf as they rode on along the
narrow path, "when every hand is against them, and they have been taught
that they are not safe from bullets half a mile away, and--Why is Hamed
stopping?"

They had been halting to gaze at the ibex, and all such pauses in their
journey were utilised for letting Hamed get well on ahead with his slow
charge.  Experience had taught them that to leave him behind with the
necessaries of life was often to miss them altogether till the next
morning.

In this case he had got several hundred yards in advance, but had
suddenly stopped short, just at the point of a sharp elbow in the track,
where they could see him with the two horses standing stock-still, and
staring straight before him.

"Let's get on and see," said the professor, and they pressed on to come
upon a spot where the track forked directly after, a narrower path
leading up a rift in the mountains away to their left, and the sight of
this satisfied Yussuf.

"Hamed thinks he may be doing wrong," he said, "and that perhaps he
ought to have turned down here.  All right, go on!" he shouted in his
own tongue, as they rode on past the wild passage among the rocks.

But Hamed did not stir, and as they advanced they could see that he was
sheltering himself behind one of his horses, and still staring before
him.

The way curved in, and then went out to the shoulder upon which the
baggage-horses stood, doubtless bending in again directly on the other
side.  Hence, then, it was impossible for Yussuf and his party to see
what was beyond; neither could they gain a sight by altering their
course, for their path was but a shelf with the nearly perpendicular
side of the gorge above and below.

They were now some eighty or ninety yards from the corner, and Yussuf
shouted again:

"Go on, man; that is right."

But Hamed did not move hand or foot, and Yussuf checked his horse.

"There is something wrong, effendis," he said quietly; and he thrust his
hand into his breast and drew out his revolver.  "Get your weapons
ready."

"What, is there to be a fight?" said Mr Burne excitedly.

"I hope not," said Mr Preston gravely, as he examined the charge of his
double gun, an example followed by Lawrence, whose heart began to beat
heavily.

"You had better halt here, excellencies," said Yussuf.  "I will go
forward and see."

"No," said Mr Preston; "we will keep together.  It is a time for mutual
support.  What do you think it is?"

"The man is timid," said Yussuf.  "He is a good driver of horses, but a
little frightens him.  The country is wild here; there may be wolves or
a bear on the track which he would not dare to face, though they would
run from him if he did."

They all advanced together with their weapons ready for immediate use,
and Lawrence's hands trembled with eagerness, as he strained his eyes
forward in expectation of a glimpse at bear or wolf, and in the hope of
getting a good shot.

"Why don't you speak?  Are you ill?" continued Yussuf as he rode on
forward.  But Hamed did not stir; and it was not until the guide could
almost touch him that he was able to see what was the cause of his
alarm, and almost at the same moment the others saw it too.

"We must keep a bold face and retreat," said Yussuf in a quick low tone.
"You, Hamed, take the bridle of that horse and lead him back; the other
will follow."

"No, no, no; they will fire."

"So shall I," said Yussuf, placing the muzzle of his pistol close to the
man's ear.  "Obey me; or--"

Hamed shuddered and began to implore, but Yussuf was rigid.

"Go on back," he said forcing himself round the foremost horse, closely
followed by the professor, though there was hardly room for their steeds
to pass, and there was a fall of several hundred feet below, while,
pressed like this, Hamed began to whimper; but he obeyed, and led the
horses past Lawrence and Mr Burne, who now went forward, eager and
excited to know what was wrong, and upon joining their companions it was
to find themselves face to face with a gang of about twenty
fierce-looking men, all mounted, and who were seated with their guns
presented toward the travellers' heads.



CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE.

BROUGHT TO BAY.

The strangers were some fifty yards away, and thoroughly blocked all
further progress.  What they were was not open to doubt; but, though
they sat there presenting their guns, they did not attempt to fire, nor
yet to advance, contenting themselves by barring the travellers' way.

"Do you think they are enemies, Yussuf?" said Mr Preston calmly.

"There is no doubt of it, effendi," was the reply.

"But had we not better ride boldly forward?  They will not dare to stop
us.  Besides, if they do, we are well-armed."

"They are twenty and we are only two, effendi, for we cannot depend upon
three of our party.  It would be no use to attack.  We must retreat
steadily, and get back to the village; they will not dare to follow us
so far."

"What do you propose doing, then?"

"For one of us to remain here facing them, till the others have got
fifty yards back.  Then one is to turn and face the scoundrels till I
have ridden in, and on with the others another fifty yards or so, when I
face round, and the one on duty rides in, and so on by turns.  If we
keep a bold front we may hold them off."

"A good plan," said the professor; "but would it not be better for two
to face them, and two to go forward--I mean, to retreat?"

"No, effendi; there is not too much room for the horses.  Do as I ask."

Mr Preston obeyed on the instant, and with Hamed in front the retreat
was commenced, all retiring and leaving Yussuf on the projecting corner,
weapon in hand, and a sword hanging from his wrist by the knot.

Then, at about fifty yards, Mr Preston halted and faced round, with gun
presented, and as the others still rode on, Yussuf left his post and
joined the professor, passing him and riding on another fifty yards
behind, where he faced round in turn.

As the professor made his horse face about and rode on, he had only just
reached the guide, when a clattering of horses' hoofs behind him made
him look sharply round.

The enemy had advanced, and about half a dozen men had taken up the
vacated position at the elbow of the track.

There they stopped, looking menacing enough, but making no advance,
merely watching the progress of the little party as they retreated round
the curve towards the other corner which they had passed on their way.

"Had we not better get on faster?" said the professor.

"No," replied Yussuf; "we must go slowly, or they will close in; and
your excellency does not want blood to be shed.  Our only chance is by
keeping a bold front, and retreating till we can get help.  They will
not dare to attack us if we keep on like this, for they do not care to
risk their lives."

"Go on then," said the professor; and the retreat was kept up for about
ten minutes, and then came to a stop, for Hamed, on reaching the other
corner with his baggage-horses, stopped short suddenly, and on Lawrence
trotting up to him, the professor saw him too stop, and present his gun.

"We are trapped, effendi," said Yussuf sadly.

"Trapped!" cried Mr Preston sharply.  "What do you mean?"

"The dogs have another party who have been hidden in that side track,
and they have come out as soon as we passed.  We are between two fires.
What shall we do?"

It was plain enough, for the next minute Hamed and Lawrence were seen to
be driven back, and a party similar to that upon the first corner stood
out clearly in the morning air--a gang before, and one behind, and the
precipice above and below.  It was either fight or yield now, and Yussuf
had asked the question, what was to be done.

Shut in as they were completely, the little party closed up together on
the curved path, Hamed requiring no telling, while the enemy made no
attempt to advance.

Mr Burne took out his box, had a large pinch of snuff, and then blew
his nose so outrageously that the horses pricked their ears, and Ali
Baba snorted and looked as if he would try another of his wonderful
leaps if that kind of thing were to be continued.

"Well, Yussuf," said the professor, "what is to be done?"

The guide sighed deeply and looked full in his employer's face.

"Excellency," he said softly, "I feel as if all my bones were turned to
water."

"Oh, indeed, sir," cried Mr Burne sharply; "then you had better turn
them back to what they were."

"What is to be done, Yussuf?" continued the professor.  "If we make a
stout resistance, shall we beat them off?"

"No, effendi," said Yussuf sadly; "it is impossible.  We might kill
several, but they are many, and those who are left do not value life.
Besides, effendi, some of us must fall."

"What are these people, then?"

"Brigands--robbers, excellency."

"Brigands and robbers in the nineteenth century!" cried Mr Burne
angrily; "it is absurd."

"In your country, excellency; but here they are as common as they are in
Greece."

"But the law, sir, the law!" cried Mr Burne.  "Confound the scoundrels!
where are the police?"

Yussuf shrugged his shoulders.

"We are far beyond the reach of the law or the police, excellency,
unless a little army of soldiers is sent to take or destroy these
people; and even then what can they do in these terrible fastnesses,
where the brigands have hiding-places and strongholds that cannot be
found out, or if found, where they can set the soldiery at defiance?"

Mr Burne blew his nose again fearfully, and created a series of echoes
that sounded as if old men were blowing their noses from where they
stood right away to Constantinople, so strangely the sounds died away in
the distance.

"Then why, sir, in the name of common sense and common law, did you
bring us into this out-of-the-way place, among these dirty, ragged,
unshaven scoundrels?  It is abominable!  It is disgraceful!  It is--"

"Hush! hush!  Burne; be reasonable," said the professor.  "Yussuf has
only obeyed orders.  If anyone is to blame it is I, for I wished to see
this ruined fastness of the old Roman days."

Yussuf smiled, and gave the professor a grateful look.

"Humph!  It's all very well for you to take his part.  He ought to have
known," grumbled the old lawyer.

"Travellers are never free from risk in any of the out-of-the-way parts
of the country," said Yussuf quietly.

"And of course we knew that, and accepted the risk," said the professor.
"Come, come, Burne, be reasonable.  Yussuf is not to blame.  The
question is, What are we to do--fight or give up?"

"Fight," said Mr Burne fiercely.  "Hang it all, sir!  I never give in
to an opponent.  I always say to a client, if he has right upon his
side, `Fight, sir, fight.'  And that's what I'm going to do."

"Fight, eh?" said the professor gravely.

"Yes, sir, fight, and I only wish I understood the use of this gun and
long knife as well as I do that of a ruler and a pen."

"Look here, Yussuf, if we fight, what will be the consequences?"

"I will fight for your excellencies to the last," said the Turk calmly;
"but I am afraid that we can do no good."

"Confound you, sir!" cried Mr Burne; "if we give in they will take off
our heads."

"No, no, excellency, they will make us prisoners, and strip us of our
arms and all that we have of value."

"Humph!  Is that all?"

"No, excellency.  They will demand a heavy ransom for your release--so
many Turkish pounds."

"Then we'll fight," cried Mr Burne furiously.  "I never would and I
never will be swindled.  Ransom indeed!  Why, confound it all, Preston!
is this real, or is it a cock-and-bull story told in a book?"

"It is reality, Burne, sure enough," said the professor calmly; "and I
feel with you, that I would sooner fight than give up a shilling; but,
cowardly as it may seem, I fear that we must give up."

"Give up?  Never, sir.  I am an Englishman," cried the old lawyer.

"But look at our position.  We are completely at their mercy.  Here we
are in the centre of this half-moon curve, and the scoundrels hold the
two horns in force."

"Then we'll dash up the mountain."

"It is impossible, excellency," said Yussuf.

"Then we'll go downwards."

"To death, Burne?" said the professor smiling.

"Confound it all!" cried Mr Burne, "we are in a complete trap.  Here,
you, Yussuf, this is your doing, and you are in league with these
rascals to rob us."

"Excellency!"

"Oh, Mr Burne!" cried Lawrence, with his face scarlet; and he leaned
towards Yussuf, and held out his hand to the Turk, who sat with angry,
lowering countenance upon his horse.

"Mr Burne is angry, Yussuf," said the professor in a quiet, stern
manner.  "He does not mean what he says, and I am sure he will apologise
as an English gentleman should."

Yussuf bowed coldly, and Mr Preston continued:

"I have the most perfect confidence in your integrity, sir, and as we
are brothers in misfortune, and you know these people better than we--"

"Of course," said Mr Burne, with an angry ejaculation.

"I ask you," said Mr Preston, "to give us your advice.  What had we
better do--fight or give up?"

Yussuf's face brightened, and he turned to the old lawyer.

"Effendi," he said gravely, "you will know me better before we part, and
you will tell me you are sorry for what you have said."

"I won't, sir!  No, confound me, never!" cried the old lawyer; and he
blew his nose like a challenge upon a trumpet.

"I am deeply grieved, effendi," continued Yussuf, smiling as he turned
to the professor, "for this is a terrible misfortune, and you will be
disappointed of your visit to the old city.  But it would be madness to
light.  We should be throwing away our lives, and that of the young
effendi here, who has shown us of late that he has a long and useful
life to lead.  It is our fate.  We must give up."

"Never!" cried Mr Burne, cocking his gun.

"Don't be foolish, my dear Burne," said the professor.  "I would say,
let us fight like men; but what can we do against fifty well-armed
scoundrels, who can shelter themselves and pick us off at their ease?
Come, keep that gun still, or you will shoot one of us instead of an
enemy."

"Now, that's cruel!" cried Mr Burne with an air of comical vexation.
"Well, I suppose you are right.  Here, Yussuf, old fellow, I beg your
pardon.  I was only in a savage temper.  I suppose we must give in; but
before I'll pay a shilling of ransom they shall take off my head."

Yussuf smiled.

"Confound you, sir, don't grin at a man when he's down," cried Mr
Burne.  "You've got the better of me, but you need not rejoice like
that."

"I do not rejoice, excellency, only that you believe in me once more."

"Here! hi! you black-muzzled, unbelieving scoundrels, leave off, will
you!  Don't point your guns at us, or, by George and the dragon and the
other champions of Christendom, I will fight."

He had looked at the two points of the half-moon road, and seen that
about a dozen men were now dismounted, and were apparently taking aim at
them.

"Well, Yussuf, we give up," said the professor.  "Perhaps, after all,
they may be honest people.  Will you go to them and ask what they want
with us?"

"They are brigands, excellency."

"Well, ask them what they will take to let us continue our journey in
peace," cried Mr Burne.  "Offer 'em five shillings all round; I suppose
there are about fifty--or, no, say we will give them ten pounds to go
about their business; and a precious good day's work for the ragged
jacks."

"I will go forward," said Yussuf.  "Excellency," he continued to the
professor, "trust me, and I will make the best bargain I can."

"Go on, then," said the professor; "but is there any risk to yourself?"

"Oh, no, effendi, none at all.  I have no fear.  They will know I come
as an ambassador."

"Go on, then," said the professor; and the Turk rode slowly forward to
the men, who blocked their way, and who still held their guns menacingly
before them as if about to fire.



CHAPTER THIRTY SIX.

GOOD OUT OF EVIL.

"We've brought our pigs to a pretty market," grumbled Mr Burne, as they
sat watching Yussuf ride up to the brigands.  "It means ruin, sir,
ruin."

"There's no help for it, Burne," said the professor calmly; "it is of no
use to complain."

"I am an Englishman, sir, and I shall grumble as much and as long as I
please," cried the old gentleman snappishly; "and you, Lawrence, if you
laugh at me, sir, I'll knock you off your horse.  Here, what was the use
of our buying weapons of war, if we are not going to use them?"

"Their conversation has been short," said the professor.  "I suppose it
is settled.  So vexatious too, when we were quite near the ancient
stronghold."

"Bah! you've seen old stones and ruins enough, man.  I wish to goodness
we were back in London.  Well, Yussuf, what do they say?"

"That if your excellencies will surrender peaceably, you shall not be
hurt.  There is nothing else for us to do but give up."

"And you advise it, Yussuf?" said the professor.

"Yes, your excellency, we must give up; and perhaps if you are patient I
may find a means for us to escape."

"Hah! that's better," cried Mr Burne; "now you are speaking like a man.
Come along, then, and let's get it over.  Can the brutes speak
English?"

"No, excellency, I think not.  Shall I lead?"

"No," said Mr Burne.  "I shall go first, just to show the miserable
ruffians that we are not afraid of them if we do give up.  Come along,
Preston.  Confound them! how I do hate thieves."

He took a pinch of snuff, and then rode slowly on with an angry
contemptuous look, closely followed by his companions, to where the
brigands were awaiting them with guns presented ready to fire if there
was any resistance.

As they advanced, the party behind closed up quickly, all being in the
same state of readiness with their weapons till the travellers found
themselves completely hemmed in by as evil-looking a body of scoundrels
as could be conceived.  Every man had his belt stuck full of knives and
pistols, and carried a dangerous-looking gun--that is to say, a piece
that was risky to both enemy and friend.

One man, who seemed to hold pre-eminence from the fact that he was half
a head taller than his companions, said a few words in a sharp fierce
manner, and Yussuf spoke.

"The captain says we are to give up all our arms," he said; and the
professor handed his gun and sword without a word, the appearance of the
weapons apparently giving great satisfaction to the chief.

"Here, take 'em," growled Mr Burne; "you ugly-looking unwashed animal.
I hope the gun will go off of itself, and shoot you.  I say, Preston,
you haven't given them your revolver."

"Hush! neither am I going to without they ask for it.  Yussuf is keeping
his."

"Oh, I see," said the old lawyer brightening.

Lawrence had to resign his handsome gun and sword next, the beauty of
their workmanship causing quite a buzz of excitement.

After this, as Lawrence sat suffering a bitter pang at losing his
treasured weapons, the chief said a few words to Yussuf.

"The captain says, excellencies, that if you will ride quietly to their
place, he will not have you bound.  I have said that you will go."

"Yes," said the professor, "we will go quietly."

The chief seemed satisfied, and the prisoners being placed in the
middle, the whole band went off along the mountain path, higher and
higher hour after hour.

There was no attempt made to separate them, nor yet to hinder their
conversation; and the brigands seemed less ferocious now that the
business of the day had had so satisfactory a finish, for they were
congratulating themselves upon having made a very valuable haul, and the
captives, after a time, began to look upon their seizure as more
interesting and novel than troublesome.  That is to say, all but the
professor, who bemoaned bitterly the fact that he should miss seeing the
old ruined, stronghold in the mountains, which was said to be the
highest ruin in the land.

"It seems so vexatious, Yussuf," he said towards evening, after a very
long and tedious ride through scenery that was wild and grand in the
extreme; "just, too, as we were so near the aim of all my desire."

"Bother!" said Mr Burne, "I wish they would stop and cook some dinner.
Are they going to starve us?"

"No, excellency; and before an hour has passed, if I think rightly, we
shall have reached the brigands' stronghold.  They will not starve you,
but you will have to pay dearly for all you have."

"I don't care," said Mr Burne recklessly.  "I'd give a five-pound note
now for a chop, and a sovereign a-piece for mealy potatoes.  This
mountain air makes me ravenous, and ugh! how cold it is."

"We are so high up, excellency," said Yussuf; and then smiling, "Yes, I
am right."

"What do you mean?" said the professor.

"I did not like to speak before, effendi," he said excitedly, "for I was
not sure; but it is as I thought; they have now turned into the right
road.  Everything points to it."

"Look here," grumbled Mr Burne, "I'm not in a humour to guess
conundrums and charades; speak out, man.  What do you mean?"

"I mean, excellency, that I have been wondering where the brigands'
strong place could be, and I believe I have found out."

"Well, where is it?  A cave, of course?"

"No, excellency; and you, effendi," he continued, turning to the
professor, "will be delighted."

"What do you mean, my good fellow?" said the professor warmly.

"That you will have your wish.  There is no other place likely, and it
seems to me that this band of men have made the old ruined stronghold
their lurking-place, and you will see the ruins after all."

"What?" cried Mr Preston excitedly.

"I am not sure, excellency, for they may be only going to pass them on
our way elsewhere; but we are now journeying straight for the grand old
remains we sought."

"Then, I don't care what ransom I have to pay," said the professor
eagerly.  "Lawrence, my dear boy--Burne--this is not a misfortune, but a
great slice of luck."

"Oh! indeed! is it?" said the old lawyer sarcastically.  "I should not
have known."

It proved to be as Yussuf had anticipated, for, just as the sun was
sinking below the mountains, the shelf of a path was continued along by
the brink of a terrible precipice which looked black beneath their feet,
and after many devious windings, it ended as it were before a huge pile
of limestone, at the foot of which rocks were piled-up as if they had
suddenly been dashed down from some tremendous tremor of the mountains.

"Where are we going?" said the professor.

"Up to the top of that great pile," said Yussuf.

"But are the ruins there?"

"Yes, effendi."

"And how are we to set there?"

"You will see, excellency.  It is quite right.  This is the robbers'
home, where they could set an army at defiance."

"But we can't get up there," said Lawrence, gazing at the dizzy height.

As he spoke, the foremost horseman seemed to disappear, but only to come
into sight again, and then it became evident that there was a zigzag and
winding path right up to the top of the huge mass of rock which towered
up almost perpendicularly in places, and, ten minutes later, Lawrence
was riding up a path with so awful a precipice on his right that he
closed his eyes.

But the next minute the fascination to gaze down was too strong to be
resisted, and he found himself looking round and about him, almost
stunned by the aspect of the place.  But the sure-footed Turkish ponies
went steadily on higher and higher round curves and sharply turning
angles and elbows, till at last at a dizzy height the foremost horseman
rode in between two masses of rock surmounted by ruined buildings.  Then
on across a hideous gap of several hundred feet deep, a mere split in
the rock bridged with the trunks of pine-trees, but awful to
contemplate, and making the travellers hold their breath till they were
across, and amid the gigantic ruins of an ancient stronghold.

"Stupendous!" cried the professor, as they rode on amidst the traces of
the former grandeur of the place.

"How bitterly cold!" said the professor.

"We are to dismount here," said Yussuf quietly, "and go into this old
building."

They obeyed, glad to descend from their horses, which were taken away,
and then they were ushered to a great stone-built hall where a fire was
burning, which seemed cheery and comfortable after their long ride.

There were rugs on the floor, the roof was sound, and the window was
covered by a screen of straw which made the place dark save for the warm
glow of the fire, near which a little Turkish-looking man was seated,
and a largely proportioned Turkish woman reclined on a rough kind of
divan.

"These are to be our quarters, effendi," said Yussuf, after a brief
colloquy with the chief, who had accompanied them, "and these are our
fellow-prisoners.  But he warns me that if we attempt to escape we shall
be shot, for there are sentries on the watch."

"All right," said Mr Burne approaching the fire; "tell him not to
bother us to-night, only to give us the best they've got to eat, or else
to let us have our baggage in and leave us to shift for ourselves."

Just then an exclamation escaped the big Turkish woman, who sprang to
her feet, and ran and caught the professor's hand.

"Mr Preston!" she cried.  "Do you not know me?"

"Mrs Chumley!" cried the professor.  "You here!"

"Yes, we've been prisoners here for a month.  Charley, you lazy fellow,
get up; these are friends."

"Oh, are they?" said the little Turk, rising slowly.  "Well, I'm jolly
glad of it, for I'm sick of being here.  Hallo, young Lawrence, I've
often thought about you; how are you?  Getting better?  That's right.
See you are.  How do, Preston?  How do, Mr Burne?  I say!  Ha-ha-ha!
You're all in for it now."

"For shame, Charley, to talk like that," cried the lady.  "Come up to
the fire all of you.  I am very glad to see you here."

"Oh, you are, eh, madam?" said the old lawyer sharply, as he warmed his
hands over the blaze.

"Well, I do not mean that," said the lady; "but it is always pleasant to
meet English people when you are far from home."

Just then the robber chief nodded, said a few words to Yussuf, and the
prisoners were left alone.



CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN.

A QUESTION OF RANSOM.

"Nice state of affairs this, Mr Preston," said the little prisoner
holding out his arms.  "Here's a dress for a gentleman;" and he
displayed the rags of Turkish costume he wore.  "Chaps saw me at my club
now."

"Charley, will you hold your tongue," cried his lady angrily.  "How am I
to explain our position if you will keep on chattering so?"

"But, my darling--"

"Will you be quiet, Charley.  Look here, Mr Preston," she continued,
"it's just three weeks ago, as we were travelling in this horrible
country at least ten miles away, we were seized by these horrid men, and
brought here.  They've taken everything we had, and given us these
miserable clothes, and every night they come to us and say--"

"They'll cut off our heads to-morrow morning."

"Will you be quiet, Charley," cried the lady, stamping her foot.  "How
am I to explain?  Am I not always telling you what a chatter-box you
are."

"Yes, my dear, always."

"Silence, sir!  Mr Preston," she continued, as her little husband went
softly to Lawrence, and drew him aside to go on whispering in his
ear--"Mr Preston, no one knows what we have suffered.  As I was
saying--I hope you are listening, Mr--Mr--Mr--Mr--"

"Burne, ma'am," said the old lawyer bowing.

"Oh, yes, I had forgotten.  Mr Burne.  I beg your pardon.  As I was
saying they come every night, and say that to-morrow morning they will
cut off our heads and send them to Smyrna as an example, if our ransom
does not come."

"Your ransom, madam?" said the professor.

"Yes.  Five thousand pounds--three for me and two for poor Charley; and
though we have sent for the money, it does not come.  Isn't it a shame?"

"Scandalous, madam."

"And you can't tell how glad I am to see you here.  Have you brought the
money?"

"Brought the money, ma'am?  Why, we are prisoners too."

"Oh, dear me, how tiresome!" cried the lady.  "I thought you were at
first; and then I thought you were sent with our ransom.  What are we to
do?  Mr Burne," she continued, turning to him, "you said you were a
lawyer.  Pray, send for these people at once, and tell them that they
will be very severely punished if they do not set us at liberty."

"My dear madam," said the old lawyer, "I am only just getting myself
thawed, and I have had nothing but snuff since breakfast.  I must have
some food before I can speak or even think."

Meanwhile little Mr Chumley was whispering to Lawrence on the other
side of the fire, and relating all his troubles.  "Taken everything
away, sir," he said--"watch, purse, cigars, and I actually saw the
scoundrel who is at the head of them smoking my beautiful _partagas_
that I brought with me from England.  I say, what had we better do?"

"Try and escape, I suppose," said Lawrence.

"Escape!  Look here, young man; are you a fly, or a bird, or a black
beetle?" whispered the little man.

"I think not," said Lawrence laughing.

"Then you can't get away from here, so don't think it.  Why, it's
impossible."

Just then the fierce-looking chief entered, followed by a man carrying a
great smoking dish, and as the leader drew near the fire, Lawrence bit
his lip, for he saw that the tall ruffian was wearing his sword, and
carrying his handsome gun in the hollow of his arm.

The chief turned to Yussuf, who was seated in one corner of the room,
and said a few words to him.

Yussuf rose and addressed his little party in a low voice.

"The brigand captain says, excellencies, that you are to be prepared to
send in one of his men to-morrow morning as messenger to your agent
where you like.  You are to write and say that, if injury is done to the
messenger, you will be killed.  The messenger is to bring back six
thousand pounds--two for each of you--as a ransom, and that, upon the
money being paid, you will be set free."

"And if the money be not paid, Yussuf, what then?" said the professor
quietly.

"The chief says no more, excellency."

"But he will to-morrow or next day," cried Mr Chumley.  "He'll say that
if the money is not paid he'll--"

"Will you be quiet, Charley?" cried his wife.  "How you do chatter, to
be sure!  Are you going to send for the money?"

"I don't know yet," said the professor smiling.  "I must think over our
position first."

"But, Mr Burne!" cried the lady.

"My dear madam," said Mr Burne, "I can say nothing till after supper.
Here is a dish of fowl and rice to be discussed before we do anything
else.  Here, Snooks, Brown, Hassan, Elecampane--what's your name?--lay
the cloth and bring some knives and forks."

The man addressed did not stir.  He had placed the smoking brass dish
upon a stone near the fire, and with that his duties seemed to be ended.

"They won't give you any knives or forks," said little Mr Chumley.

"Will you be quiet, Charley?" cried his lady.  "No, gentlemen, you will
have to sit down all round the dish like this, and eat with your fingers
like pigs."

"Pigs haven't got any fingers," whispered little Chumley to Lawrence.
"Come along."

"What is he whispering to you, Master Lawrence?" said the lady sharply.
"Don't take any notice of what he says.  He talks too much and thinks
too little.  If he had thought more and said less we should not be in
this predicament."

The chief and his follower had passed silently behind the great rug
stretched over the doorway, and, led by their hunger, the prisoners all
sat down round the dish "like this," to use Mrs Chumley's words--_this_
being tailor fashion, or cross-legged _a la Turcque_; and then, in very
primitive fashion, the supper of poor stringy fowl and ill-cooked rice
began.

The food was very poor, the bread being heavy and black; but all were
too hungry to be particular, and at last the dish was completely
finished, and conversation respecting their position began, while Yussuf
sat aside and waited patiently to be questioned.

"Look here, Yussuf," said the professor at last; "what is to be done?"

"I fear, excellency," replied the guide, "that the only way of escape is
by paying the ransom."

"But, man, it is ruinous, and they dare not injure us.  Why, if the
English people knew of our position troops would be sent to our
assistance."

"And the brigands would resent their coming by killing you and your
friends, excellency."

"They would not dare, Yussuf."

"I'm afraid they would, effendi.  They are utterly reckless scoundrels,
the sweepings of the country, and they are so powerful, and secure here
that they laugh at the law, such law as we have in this unhappy land."

"But such a state of affairs is monstrous, sir," said Mr Burne.  "I am
a lawyer, sir, and I ought to know."

"It is monstrous, excellency," said Yussuf; "but these men are outlaws.
You see what a stronghold they have if it came to a fight; but your
friends or the government would not dare to let it come to a fight, for
if they did they would be slaying you."

"Tchah!" cried Mr Burne; "this is about the knottiest case I ever did
meet.  I say, you, Lawrence, a nice position you have placed us all in."

"I, Mr Burne!" cried the lad wonderingly.

"Yes, sir, you.  If you had only been quite well, like a reasonable boy
of your age, we should not have come out here, and if we hadn't come out
here we should not have been in this mess.  There, I'm too tired to
talk.  Good-night."

He threw himself down upon one of the rugs and was asleep directly,
while the professor walked to the doorway, and found two fierce-looking
sentries outside, one of whom menacingly bade him go back.

He spoke in the Turkish language; but his manner made his meaning plain,
so Mr Preston went back to the fireside, and sat talking to the
Chumleys and Lawrence till the latter fell fast asleep; and at last, in
spite of the peril of his position, the professor grew so weary that the
account of the Chumleys' troubles began to sound soothing, and, what
with the long day's work, the exposure to the keen mountain air, and the
warmth of the fire, he too fell asleep, and silence reigned in the
ancient structure that had been made their prison.



CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT.

SUGGESTIONS OF ESCAPE.

The morning broke so bright and clear, and from the window there were so
many wonders of architecture visible in the old stronghold, that the
professor and Lawrence forgot for the time that they were prisoners, and
stood gazing out at the wonderful scene.

Where they had been placed was evidently a portion of an old castle, and
looking down there were traces of huge buildings of the most solid
construction, such as seemed to date back a couple of thousand years,
and yet to be in parts as strong as on the day they were placed and
cemented stone upon stone.

Huge wall, tremendous battlement, and pillared remains of palace or hall
were on every side, and as they gazed, it seemed to them that they could
easily imagine the presence of the helmeted, armoured warriors who had
once owned the land.

The sun was so glorious that the professor proposed a look round before
breakfast.

"Never mind the inconvenience, Lawrence," he said, "we have fallen into
a wonderful nest of antiquities, worth all our journey and trouble.
Here, come along."

They went to the doorway, drew the great rug hanging before it aside,
and were stepping out when a couple of guns were presented at their
breasts, and they were angrily bidden to go back.

It was a rude reminder that they were no longer upon a touring journey,
and the fact was farther impressed upon them, after a breakfast of
yaourt or curd, bread, and some very bad coffee, by a visit from the
chief and half a dozen men.

Yussuf was called upon to interpret, and that which he had to say was
unpalatable enough, for he had to bid them empty their pockets, and pass
everything they possessed over to their captors.

Watches, purses, pocket-books, all had to go; but it was in vain to
resist, and everything was handed over without a word, till it came to
Mr Burne's gold snuff-box, and this he slipped back into his pocket.

The attempt to save it was in vain; two sturdy scoundrels seized him,
one on each side, and the snuff-box was snatched away by the chief
himself.

He uttered a few guttural sounds as he opened the box, and seemed
disappointed as he found therein only a little fine brown dust, into
which he thrust his finger and thumb.

He looked puzzled and held it to his nose, giving a good sniff, with the
result that he inhaled sufficient of the fine dust to make him sneeze
violently, and scatter the remainder of the snuff upon the earth.

Mr Burne made a start forward, but he was roughly held back, and the
chief then turned to Yussuf.

"Tell them," he said in his own tongue, "to write to their friends, and
ask for the ransom--two thousand pounds each, and to say that if the
money is not given their heads will be sent.  Bid them write."

The fierce-looking scoundrel turned and stalked out of the place with
his booty, and the moment he was free, Mr Burne dropped upon his knees
and began sweeping the fallen snuff together in company with a great
deal of dust and barley chaff, carefully placing the whole in his
handkerchief ready for clearing as well as he could at his leisure.

"That's just how they served us," said Mrs Chumley dolefully.  "I
thought they would treat you the same."

"So did I," said her husband dolefully.  "They've got my gold repeater,
and--"

"Now, Charley, don't--don't--don't bother Mr Preston about that
miserable watch of yours, and I do wish you wouldn't talk so much."

"But we must talk, madam," cried Mr Burne.  "Here, you, Yussuf, what's
to be done?"

"I can only give one piece of advice, effendi," said Yussuf gravely;
"Write."

"What, and ruin ourselves?"

"Better that than lose your life, effendi," replied the guide.  "These
people are fierce, and half savage.  They believe that you have money,
and they will keep their word if it is not sent."

"What, and kill us, Yussuf?" said Lawrence, with a horrified look.

"Not if I can save you, Lawrence effendi," said Yussuf eagerly.  "But
the letters must be sent.  It will make the villains think that we are
content to wait, and put them off their guard.  Preston effendi, it is a
terrible increase of the risk, but you will take the lady?"

"Take the lady?"

"Hush!  When we escape.  Do not say more now; we may be overheard.
Write your letters."

"Then you mean to try and escape."

"Try and escape, effendi?" said Yussuf with a curious laugh; "why, of
course."

"What will you do?"

"Wait, excellency, and see.  There are walls here, and I think places
where we might get down past the guards with ropes."

"And the ropes?"

Yussuf laughed softly, and stared at the rugs as he said quietly:

"I can see the place full of ropes, your excellency; only be patient,
and we'll try what can be done in the darkness.  Write your letters
now."

Mr Preston had to appeal to the sentries, through Yussuf, for the
necessary writing materials, and after a good deal of trouble his own
writing-case, which had been in the plundered baggage, was brought to
him.  He wrote to the vice-consul, Mr Thompson, at Smyrna, telling of
their state, and asking advice and assistance, telling him, too, how to
obtain the money required if diplomacy failed, and the ransom could not
be reduced.

This done, and a similar letter being written by Mr Burne, the sentry
was again communicated with, and the despatches sent to the chief.

An hour later there was a little bustle in the open space before their
prison, and a couple of well-armed men mounted their horses, the chief
standing talking to them for a few minutes, as if giving them final
instructions.

He then summoned his prisoners, and spoke to Yussuf, bidding him ask Mr
Burne, whose wonderful head-dress won for him the distinction of being
considered the most important personage present, whether he would like
to make any addition to his despatch; for, said he:

"I have told the people that any attempt at rescue means your instant
death.  I will wait any reasonable time for your ransoms, and you shall
be well treated; but I warn you that attempts to escape will be death to
you.  That is all."

"Wait a minute, Yussuf," said Mr Burne.  "Tell him he can keep the
snuff-box and welcome, but he has a canister of best snuff in the
package that was on the brown pony.  Ask him to let me have that."

"Yes," said the chief, on hearing the request, "it is of no use to
anyone.  He can have it.  What a dog of a Christian to take his tobacco
like that!  Anything else?"

"Yes," said Mr Preston, on hearing the reply, "tell him to send his men
to watch me as much as he likes, but I want leave to inspect the old
ruins and to make drawings.  Tell him I will not attempt to escape."

"No, effendi," said Yussuf, "I will not tell him that, but I will ask
the first;" and he made the request.

"What! is he--one of the idiot giaours who waste their time in seeing
old stones and imitate them upon paper?"

"Yes, a harmless creature enough," said Yussuf.

"So I suppose, or he would have fought.  Well, yes, he can go about, but
tell him that if he attempts to leave my men behind they will shoot him.
Not that he can get away, unless he has a djin to help him, or can
fly," he added with a laugh.

He walked to his men, gave them some further instructions, and they saw
the two ambassadors go in and out among the ruins till they passed
between two immense buttresses of rock, and then disappear down the
perilous zigzag path that led to the shelf-like way.

"Yes," said Yussuf, looking at Mr Preston, and interpreting his
thoughts, "that is the only way out, excellency, but I do not despair of
making our escape.  It must be a long time before arrangements can be
made for your release, and the winter comes early here in these high
places."

"Winter?" cried Lawrence.

"Yes," said Yussuf.  "It is fine and sunny one day, the next the snow
has fallen, and a place like this may be shut off from the plains below
for months.  You do not wish to pass the winter here, Lawrence effendi?"

"I don't think I should mind," replied the lad, "everything is so fresh,
and there is so much to see."

"Well, now they are giving me leave to go about," said Mr Preston
thoughtfully, "I think I could spend some months in drawing and writing
an account of this old city, especially if they would let me make some
excavations."

"But his excellency, Mr Burne?" said Yussuf.

"Oh!  I've got my snuff--at least I am to have it, and if they will feed
us well I don't suppose I should mind very much.  The fact is, Preston,
I've been working so hard all my life that I like this change.  Doing
nothing is very pleasant when you are tired."

"Of course it is," said the professor smiling.

"And so long as there's no nonsense about cutting off men's heads, or
any of that rubbish, I rather like being taken a prisoner by brigands.
I wonder what a London policeman would think of such a state of
affairs."

"My masters are submitting wisely to their fate," said Yussuf gravely;
"and while we are waiting, and those people think we are quite patient,
I shall come with his excellency Preston, and while he draws I shall
make plans, not of the city, but how to escape."

Further conversation was cut short by the coming of Mr and Mrs
Chumley, who eagerly asked--at least Mr Chumley wished to ask eagerly,
but he was stopped by his lady, who retained the right--what
arrangements had been made.  And she was told.

"Oh, dear!" she sighed, "then that means weary waiting again.  Oh,
Charley! why would you insist upon coming to this wretched land?"

Mr Chumley opened his mouth in astonishment, but he did not speak then,
he only waited a few minutes, and then took Lawrence's arm, and sat
whispering to him apart, telling him how Mrs Chumley had insisted upon
coming to Turkey when he wanted to go to Paris, and nowhere else, and
that he was the most miserable man in the world.

Lawrence heard him in silence, and as he sat he wondered how it was the
most miserable man in the world could look so round and happy and grow
so fat.



CHAPTER THIRTY NINE.

YUSSUF HAS HIS WITS ABOUT HIM.

The weather was cold up there in the mountains, and it froze at night;
but the sun was hot in the daytime, and the sky was mostly of a most
delicious blue.  The chief always seemed to be scowling, watchful, and
suspicious, but the prisoners had nothing but their captivity to
complain about.  Rugs in abundance--every one of them stolen--were
supplied for bedding and keeping out the cold night air that would have
penetrated by door or window.  Upon proper representations being made by
Yussuf the food supply was better, the guide installing himself at once
as cook, to Mr Chumley's great delight; and agreeable dishes--pilaf,
curry, kabobs, and the like--were prepared, with excellent coffee and
good bread, while the scowling sentries became more agreeable, and took
willingly to their duties, on finding that satisfactory snacks were
handed to them, and hot cups of coffee on the bitter nights when they
sat watching in their sheepskin or goatskin cloaks.

As for the professor, in two days he had forgotten that he was a
prisoner, and Lawrence was the best of friends with the evil-looking
guards, who followed them with loaded guns to some old ruinous patch of
wall, fortification, or hall.  Here the professor was in his element,
drawing, planning, and measuring, longing the while to set a dozen
strong-armed men to work digging up the stones embedded in the earth--a
task which he was sure would be rewarded by the discovery of many
objects of antiquity.

Parties of the brigands went out now and then, but it was evident that
their object was merely to forage, large quantities of barley being
brought in, and some of the old buildings being utilised for stores.

These seemed to be well supplied, and the community was preparing for
the coming winter, so Yussuf told Lawrence--for the days when no food
would be obtainable perhaps for months.

Everyone seemed to lead a careless nonchalant life, the prisoners they
had taken would, no doubt it was considered, bring in sufficient to make
this a prosperous year's work, and till the ransoms were paid there was
little more to do.

The days glided by, and the watch over the prisoners grew less rigid.
There was apparently only one way out of the stronghold, and that was
always carefully guarded; and as it was evident to the captors that the
professor and his companions were bent upon studying the place, the
guards used to sit down upon some heap of old stones, with their guns
across their knees, and smoke and sleep, while drawings were made, and
inscriptions copied.

Yussuf became quite a favourite, for he was a cook, and often showed the
brigands' wives how to make some savoury dish; but for the most part he
was busy helping the professor, carrying his paper, cleaning stones, or
performing some such office.

And so the days glided by, with the professor perfectly contented, the
old lawyer apparently little troubled so long as his snuff held out, and
Lawrence growing sturdier, and enjoying the feeling of health more and
more.

The only discontented people were the Chumleys, the gentleman
complaining bitterly about the absence of news, and the lady because her
husband would chatter so incessantly.

"I say, Yussuf," said Lawrence one night as he sat talking to the guide,
"they won't cut off our heads, will they?"

Yussuf shook his head.

"I have only one dread," he replied; "and that is of an attempt being
made to rescue us."

"I don't see anything to be afraid of there," said Lawrence laughing.

"But I do," said the Turk seriously.  "If an attack were made, those
people would become fierce like dogs or rats at bay, and then they might
take our lives."

"They would not without, then?"

"No," said Yussuf; "they would threaten, and hold out for a heavy
ransom, but if the friends that have been written to are clever, they
will make the ransom small, and we shall be freed.  But it may take a
long time, for the brigands will hold out as long as they think there is
a chance of getting a large sum.  They are safe here; they have abundant
stores, and nothing to do: they can afford to wait."

"Well, I'm sure Mr Preston is in no hurry," said Lawrence; "nobody is
but the Chumleys."

"And I," said Yussuf smiling.

"You? why, I thought you were happy enough.  You haven't said a word
lately about escaping."

"No," replied Yussuf smiling; "but sometimes those who are so quiet do a
great deal.  I am afraid of the winter coming with its snow and shutting
us in for months when we could not escape, for, even if the snow would
let us pass, we should perish in the cold.  I have been hard at work."

"You have, Yussuf?  What have you been doing?  Oh, I know; making
plans."

"And ropes," said Yussuf gravely.

"Ropes?  I have seen you make no ropes."

"No, because you were asleep.  Wait a moment."

He rose quietly and walked to the entrance, drawing the rug that hung
there aside and peering out, to come back as softly as he left his seat,
and glancing at where the professor, wearied out with a hard day's work,
was, like his companions by the fire, fast asleep.

"The guards are smoking out there, and are safe," said Yussuf.  "See
here, Lawrence effendi, but do not say a word to a soul."

"I shall not speak," said Lawrence.

Yussuf gave another glance at the Chumleys, and then stepped to a corner
of the great hall-like place which formed their prison, drew aside a rug
on the floor, lifted a slab of stone, and pointed to a coil of worsted
rope as thick as a good walking-stick, and evidently of great length.

It was only a few moments' glance, and then the stone was lowered, the
dust swept over it, and the rug drawn across again.

"You see I am getting ready," said Yussuf.

"But what are we going to do?"

"I have been watching and waiting," whispered the guide, "and I have
found a place where we can descend from the old wall over the great
defile."

"But it is so awful a place, Yussuf."

"Yes, it is awful; but there is a ledge we can reach, and then creep
along and get beyond the sentries.  Then all will be easy, for we can
get a long way some dark night before the alarm is given, and in the day
we can hide.  Of course we must load ourselves with the food we have
saved up."

"Yes, yes, of course," said Lawrence thoughtfully; "but Mrs Chumley,
she would not go down a rope."

"Why, not?" said Yussuf quietly; "she talks like a man."

"When are you going to try, then?" said Lawrence excitedly.

"In about ten days.  I shall be ready then, and the nights will be dark.
But, patience--you must not be excited."

"But you will tell Mr Preston?"

"Yes; to-morrow night, when I have finished my first rope.  Go to sleep
now."

"And you, Yussuf?"

"Oh, I am going to work," he said smiling.  "See, my material is here."

He drew out a handful of worsted threads which were evidently part of a
rug which he had unravelled, and as soon as Lawrence had lain down, the
Turk walked to the darkest corner of the building, and Lawrence could
just make out that he was busy over something, but he was perfectly
silent.



CHAPTER FORTY.

A GRAND DISCOVERY.

It was the very next day that the professor took his paper, rule, and
pencils down to a building that seemed to have been a temple.  It was at
the very edge of the tremendous precipice, and must once have been of
noble aspect, for it was adorned with a grand entrance, with handsomely
carved columns supporting the nearly perfect roof, and the wonder was
that the brigands had not utilised it for a dwelling or store.  But
there it was, empty, and the professor gazed around it with rapture.

The guards stood at the entrance leaning against the wall watching him
and Lawrence carelessly, and then, going out into the sunshine, they
picked out a sheltered spot, and sat down to smoke.

The professor began to draw.  Soon afterwards Mr Burne sat down on a
broken column taking snuff at intervals, and Yussuf seated himself with
his back to the doorway, drew some worsted from his breast, and began to
plait it rapidly, while Lawrence went on investigating the inmost
recesses of the place.

"Come and look here, Yussuf," he cried at the end of a few minutes, and
the Turk followed him to a part of the building behind where an altar
must have stood and pointed down.

"Look here," he said; "this stone is loose, and goes down when I stand
upon that corner.  It's hollow, too, underneath."

He stamped as he spoke, and there was a strange echoing sound came up.

"Hush!" said Yussuf quickly, and he glanced round to see if they were
observed; but they were hidden from the other occupants of the place;
and, stooping down, Yussuf brushed away some rubbish, placed his hands
under one side of the stone where it was loose, and lifted the slab
partly up.

The air came up cool and sweet, so that it did not seem to be a vault;
but it was evidently something of the kind, and not a well, for there
was a flight of stone steps leading down into the darkness.

It was but a moment's glance before Yussuf lowered the stone again, and
hastily kicked some rubbish over it, and lowered a piece of an old
figure across it so as to hide it more.

"What is it?" said Lawrence quickly.

"I do not know," replied Yussuf.  "It is our discovery.  It may be
treasure; it may be anything.  Say no word to a soul, and you and I will
get a lamp, escape from the prison to-night, and come and examine it,
and see what it is.  It may be a way out."

Lawrence would gladly have gone on at once, but Yussuf signed to him to
be silent; and it was as well, for he had hardly time to throw himself
down on a block of stone, and sham sleep, when the guards came
sauntering in and looked suspiciously round.  Then, not seeing two of
their prisoners, they came on cautiously, and peered over the stones
that hid them from where the professor was drawing, to find Yussuf
apparently asleep, and Lawrence sharpening his pocket-knife upon a
stone.

One of the men came forward and snatched the knife away, saying in his
own tongue that boys had no business with knives, after which he stalked
off and returned to his old place outside.

"You see," said Yussuf quietly, "it was no time now for examining the
place; wait till night."

For the first time since he had been a prisoner the hours passed slowly
to Lawrence.  It seemed as if it would never be night, and every time he
met the professor's or Mr Burne's eye, they seemed to be taking him to
task for keeping a secret from them.

Then, too, Mrs Chumley appeared to be suspecting him, and Chumley drew
him aside as if to cross-examine him; but it was only to confide a long
story about how severely he had been snubbed that day for wanting to
follow the professor to the ruins where he was making his drawings.

At last, though, the guards had thrust in their villainous faces for the
last time, according to their custom, and all had lain down as if to
sleep.

An hour must have passed, and Lawrence lay with his heart beating,
waiting for a summons from Yussuf; but it seemed as if one would never
come, and the lad was about to give up and conclude that their guide had
decided not to go that night, when a hand came out of the darkness and
touched his face, while a pair of lips almost swept his ear, and a voice
whispered:

"Rise softly, and follow me."

Lawrence needed no second invitation, and, rising quickly, he followed
Yussuf to where the rug hung over the door.

"Bend down low, and follow me," whispered the Turk.  "The guards are
nearly asleep."

He drew the rug a little on one side, and Lawrence saw where the two men
were huddled up in their sheepskin cloaks.

"Do as I do," whispered Yussuf.

The moon was shining, and the part where the guards sat was well in the
light; but a black shadow was cast beneath the walls of the great
building, and by stooping down and keeping in this, the evading pair
were able to get beyond the ken of the guards, and though lights shone
out from one ruined building, whether from fire or lamp could not be
told, not a soul was about, and they were able to keep on till the
inhabited part was left behind and the old temple reached.

"It was a dangerous thing to do, Lawrence effendi," said the guide.  "I
repented promising to bring you, for the men might have fired."

"Never mind that," whispered Lawrence.  "We are safe now.  Have you
brought a light?"

"Yes," was the reply; and, by the moonlight which shone through a gap,
Yussuf led the way among the broken stones to the back of the old altar,
where, after feeling about, he found the side of the stone, lifted it
right up, and leaned it against a broken column.

Then, after a word of warning, he stooped down and struck a match, but
the draught that blew up the opening extinguished it on the instant.

Another and another shared the same fate, after giving them a glimpse of
a ragged set of stone steps; and as it was evident that no light could
be obtained that way, Yussuf took the little lamp he had brought into a
corner of the building, lit it, and sheltering it inside his loose
garment, he came back to where Lawrence waited listening.

"I'll go first," said Yussuf.  "Mind how you come."

He lowered himself into the hole, and descended a few steps.

"It is quite safe," he said.  "Come down;" and Lawrence descended to
stand by his side.

"Shelter this lamp a minute," whispered Yussuf.  "I must close the
stone, or the light will be out."

Lawrence took the lamp, the perspiration standing on his forehead the
while, as he felt that this was something like being Aladdin, and
descending into the cave in search of the wonderful lamp.

"Suppose," he thought, "that Yussuf should step out and leave him in
this horrible place to starve and die.  Nobody would ever guess that he
was there, and no one would hear his cries.  What was the place--a tomb?
And had Yussuf gone and left him?"

There was a low dull hollow sound as the stone descended into its place,
and a cry rose to the lad's lips, but it had no utterance, for Yussuf
said softly from above:

"Now you may show the light, and we can see where we are."

Lawrence drew a breath of relief as he took the light from his breast,
and saw that he was standing upon a very rough flight of stone steps,
with the rugged wall of rock on either side.

Yussuf took the lamp and held it up, showing a rough arch of great
stones over their heads, and the square opening over a rough landing
where they had descended, while on either side the rock looked as if at
some time it had been split, and left a space varying from four to six
feet wide, the two sides being such that, if by some convulsion of
nature they were closed, they would have fitted one into the other.

"Follow close behind me," said Yussuf.  "This must lead into some vault
or perhaps burial-place.  You are not frightened?"

"Yes, I am," said Lawrence in a low tone.

"Shall we go back?"

"No, but I cannot help being a little alarmed."

Yussuf laughed softly.

"No wonder," he said.  "I feel a little strange myself.  But listen,
Lawrence; what we have to fear is a hole or crack in the rock into which
we might fall, so keep your eyes on the ground."

But their path proved very easy, always a steep descent, sometimes cut
into stairs, sometimes merely a rugged slope, and always arched over by
big uncemented stones.

No vault came in sight, no passage broke off to right or left; it was
always the same steep descent--a way to some particular pine made by the
ancients, who had utilised the crevice or split in the rock, and arched
it over to make this rugged passage.

"I think I understand," said Yussuf, when they had gone on descending
for quite three hundred yards.

"What is it?" said Lawrence; "a tomb?"

"No."

"A treasure chamber?"

"No."

"What, then?"

"There must be a spring of good water somewhere down at the bottom, and
this was of great value to the people who built this place on the rock.
Shall we go any farther?"

"Yes, I want to see the spring," said Lawrence.  "I am not so frightened
now."

"There is quite a current of air here," said Yussuf, when they had
descended another hundred yards or so.  "The spring must be in the open
air, and out by the mountain side."

Lawrence was too intent upon his feet to answer, and they descended
another fifty yards, when Yussuf stopped, for the way was impeded by a
piled-up mass of fallen stones, and on looking up to see if they were
from the roof they found that the arching had ceased, and that the roof
was the natural rock of wedged-in masses fallen from above.

"We can get no farther," said Yussuf, holding the lamp above his head.

"Look, look!" said Lawrence softly; "there is a light out there."

Yussuf looked straight before him; and placing the lamp upon the ground,
and shading it with his coat, there, sure enough, not more than a dozen
yards away, was a patch of light--blight moonlight.

"I was wrong," said Yussuf calmly; "this is not the way to a spring, but
a road from that temple down to some pathway along by the side of the
mountain, and closed up by these fallen stones.  Lawrence effendi, we
shall not want my ropes to descend from the walls.  You have found a way
out of the old place that has lain hidden for hundreds of years."

"Do you think so?"

"Yes; and that we have only to set to work and clear away these stones
sufficiently to reach the entrance, and then we can escape."

"Let us begin, then, at once," cried Lawrence joyously.

"No; we will go back now, and examine the way, so as to make sure that
our course up and down is safe.  Then we will get back, and be satisfied
with our night's work."

"Yes," said Yussuf, when he reached the stone again; "it is all quite
plain.  I could come up and down here in the dark, and there will be
light enough at the bottom in the daytime to see what to do."

He raised the stone after extinguishing his lamp, and they both stepped
out; the stone was lowered into its place, a little earth and dust
thrown over it and a few fragments of rubbish, and then the midnight
wanderers stole back to the prison, but only to stop short in the shadow
with Lawrence chilled by horror.  For, as they were about to step up to
the portal, one of the guards yawned loudly, rose, and walked to the
rug, drew it aside, and looked in.

He stood there gazing in so long, that it seemed as if he must have
discovered that there were absentees; but, just as Lawrence was in
despair, he dropped the curtain, walked back to his companion, and sat
down with his back to the portal.

Yussuf wasted no time, but glided along in the shadow, and Lawrence
followed; but as he reached the portal he kicked against a piece of
loose stone and the guards sprang up.

Lawrence would have stood there petrified, but Yussuf dragged him in,
hurried him across the interior, threw him down, and took his place
behind him.

"Pretend to be asleep," he whispered; and he turned his face away, as
the steps of the guards were heard, and they lifted the rug curtain and
came in with a primitive kind of lantern, to look round and see if all
were there, being satisfied on finding them apparently asleep, and going
back evidently believing it was a false alarm.

"Safe this time, Yussuf," whispered Lawrence.

"Yes," said the guide.  "Now sleep in peace, for you have discovered a
way to escape."



CHAPTER FORTY ONE.

THE TIME FOR FLIGHT.

"And you are sure, Yussuf?" said Mr Preston two days later.

"Yes, effendi.  I have been there alone twice since, and in a few hours
I had moved enough stones to let me through to the light, and in a few
hours more I can make the passage so easy that a lady can go through."

"And where the light shines in?"

"Is just over a narrow rugged path leading down the mountain--a way that
has been forgotten.  Effendi, after I have been there once again the way
is open, and though the path is dangerous it will lead to safety, and we
must escape."

"When?" said Mr Preston eagerly.

"As soon as we can collect a little food--not much, but enough to carry
us to the nearest village where we can get help."

"And our goods--our property?"

"Must stay, excellency.  Once you are all safe we can send the soldiery
by the path by which we left, for the brigands will not know how we have
escaped."

"Well, I can save my drawings," said the professor, "and they will be
worth all the journey, as we have no ransom to pay."

The next day Mr Burne was let into the secret, but it was decided not
to tell the Chumleys till they were awakened on the night of the
attempt.

It was hard work to keep down the feeling of elation so as not to let
the chief see that the captives were full of hope, for he came day by
day to visit them and complain about the length of time his messengers
were gone.

But the secret was well kept, and those who shared it, in obedience to
Yussuf's suggestion, began to store away portions of their provisions so
as to be prepared at any moment for a journey which might take them for
many days through the mountains away from village or beaten track.

"I shall leave this place with regret," the professor said with a sigh;
"but I must say I do not relish paying for my stay with every shilling I
have scraped together during my life."

"No.  Let's get away, Preston," said Mr Burne.  "Oh, if I could only
commence an action against these scoundrels for our imprisonment!  I'd
make them smart."

They were sitting together among the ruins, and their thoughts naturally
reverted to Yussuf and his reticent ways, for two days had passed since
he had made any communication, and he had seemed to be more retiring
than ever.

The sun was shining brightly, and warmed the stones where they sat, but
the air seemed to be piercingly cold, and Mr Burne shivered more than
once, and got up to walk about.

"I shall not be sorry to get down out of the mountains," he said.  "What
do you say, Lawrence?"

"Oh!  I've liked the stay up here very well, it has all been so new and
different; and besides, I have been so well, and I feel so strong."

"Yes, you are better, my boy," said Mr Burne, nodding his head
approvingly.

"I used to feel tired directly I moved," continued Lawrence, "but now I
scarcely ever feel tired till quite night.  Yussuf says it is the
mountain air."

"Yes," said the professor dryly, "it is the mountain air.  Where is
Yussuf?"

"Here, excellency," said their guide; and they all started with
surprise, he had approached so quietly.  "I was coming to tell you that
I have been up to the top of the old temple, and have at length traced
the ancient path.  I have only seen parts of it here and there, but I
can make out the direction it takes, and it is right opposite to that by
which we came."

"But where does it lead?" said the professor.

"Away west, effendi--where, I cannot say; but let us get out of this
place and I will lead you in safety somewhere."

"But the old path--is it very dangerous?" said Mr Burne.

"I went out upon it last night in the darkness, and followed it for a
couple of miles, excellency.  It is dangerous, but with care we can get
safely along."

"You have quite cleared the passage, then?" said the professor.

"Right to the mouth, effendi.  There, so as not to excite notice, I have
only left a hole big enough to crawl from.  Not that anyone could see,
except from the mountain on the other side, and nobody is ever there."

"When do we go, then?" said Lawrence eagerly.

"If their excellencies are willing, to-morrow night," said Yussuf.
"Every hour I am expecting to see the messenger return, and you,
gentlemen, forced to agree to some terms by which in honour you will be
bound to pay heavy amounts, and then it will not be worth while to
escape."

"I say, look here, Yussuf," said Mr Burne, "are you real or only sham?"

Yussuf frowned slightly.

"Your excellency never trusted me," he replied proudly.

"I did not at first, certainly," said the old lawyer.  "I'll go so far
as to say that in the full swing of my suspicions I was almost ready to
think that you had been playing into the brigands' hands and had sold
us."

"Oh, Mr Burne!" cried Lawrence reproachfully.

"You hold your tongue, boy.  You're out of court.  You haven't been a
lawyer for nearly forty years; I have."

"I have tried hard to win Mr Burne's confidence," said Yussuf gravely.
"I am sorry I have failed."

"But you have not failed, my good fellow," cried the old lawyer.  "I
only say, Are you a real Turk or a sham?"

"Will your excellency explain?" said Yussuf with dignity.  "I speak your
tongue, and understand plain meanings, but when there are two thoughts
in a word I cannot follow."

"I mean, my dear fellow, you so thoroughly understand the thoughts and
ways of English gentlemen that it is hard to think you are a born Turk."

"Oh!" said Yussuf smiling.  "I have been so much with them, excellency,
and--I have tried to learn."

"There's a lesson for you, Lawrence," said the professor smiling.
"Well, then, Yussuf, to-morrow night."

"Yes, excellency."

"Then, had we not better tell the Chumleys?"

Yussuf was silent for a few moments.

"I am sorry about them," he said at last.  "We cannot leave them behind,
for it would mean their death; but if we fail in our escape, it will be
through them.  No, excellency, say no word till we are ready to start,
and then say, `Come!'"

"You are right, Yussuf," said Mr Burne.  "That woman would chatter all
over the place if she knew: say nothing, and we must make the best of
them.  But I say, isn't it turning very cold?"

"Yes, excellency, we are high up in the mountains.  There is no other
place so high as this, and if we do not go soon the winter will be upon
us."

"Winter? not yet," said the professor.

"Your excellency forgets it is winter in the mountains when it may be
only autumn in the plains."



CHAPTER FORTY TWO.

A SAD FAILURE.

At last!

The Chumleys were fast asleep; the wood fire had burned down into a
faint glow that played over the white ashes, and the air seemed to be
piercingly cold.

The guards had looked in according to their custom, and then proved how
cold it was by stopping by the fire for about a quarter of an hour,
talking in a low tone together before going out.

The provisions, principally bread and raisins, were taken out of
Yussuf's hiding-place, where he kept the worsted rope, and this latter
he wore twisted round his chest, beneath his loose garment, ready in
case it might be wanted.  The food was made into six packages, and each
took his load, leaving two for the Chumleys, and now a short
conversation ensued about Hamed, whom they had only seen once since
their imprisonment.  For the driver had been sent to another part of the
old ruins with the horses.

The professor was saying that they ought to try and get Hamed away with
them; but Yussuf declared it would be impossible, and said that as a
compatriot he was perfectly safe.

Under these circumstances it was decided to leave him; and now, all
being ready, Lawrence was deputed to awaken the Chumleys, and bid them
rise and follow.

"How do you feel, my lad?" said the professor, with his lips to
Lawrence's ears.

"Nervous, sir."

"No wonder.  It seems cruel to have to leave so much behind, but never
mind.  Now, Burne, are you strung up?"

"Yes, quite," was the reply.

"Ready, Yussuf?"

"Yes, excellency, and mind, once more, all are to follow me close under
the walls.  Not a word is to be spoken."

"But you will pause for a few minutes in the subterranean passage,"
whispered the professor.  "I must see that."

"You will have ample time, excellency.  Now, Lawrence effendi, awaken
your friends."

Lawrence drew a long breath, and stooping down, laid his hand upon Mr
Chumley's shoulder.

"Don't!" was the gruff response.

"Mr Chumley, wake up.  Hush!  Don't speak."

"Eh, what?  Time to get up.  Why don't you pull aside the rug?"

"Hush, sir!  Wake up."

"Eh, what?  Is my wife ill?"

"No, no.  Are you awake now?"

"Awake?  Yes, of course; what is it?"

"We have a way open to escape.  Wake your wife.  Tell her not to speak."

"But she will.  Oceans!" said the little man sadly.

"She must not speak.  Wake her; tell her there is a way of escape, and
then you two must carry these parcels of food, and follow in silence."

"I say, Lawrence, old man, is it real?" he whispered.

"Quite!  Quick!  You are wasting time."

"But won't they shoot at us?"

"Not if you are both silent," whispered Lawrence; and creeping on
all-fours the little man reached over, awakened his wife, and
communicated the news.

To the surprise of all she woke up quite collected, grasped the idea at
once, and rose to her feet.  Then putting on her head-dress, and
throwing a shawl over her shoulders and securing the ends--

"I am ready," she said.

"Bravo!" whispered the professor.  "Now, silence, for we have to pass
the guards."

"But where are we going?" said Chumley.

"Chumley!  Oh, that tongue!" whispered his wife.

"Silence!" said Yussuf decidedly; and then after a pause, "Ready?"

There was no reply, and taking this for consent, he bade the professor
come last, after holding the rugs aside till all had passed, and then he
stepped out, and stepped back again, for a piercingly cold breath of air
had darted into the prison.

"It is snowing," he said in a low whisper.

"Well?" said Mr Burne, "we are going down from the mountain, and we
shall leave it behind, shall we not?"

"Yes, perhaps," said the guide, in a doubting manner.  "Shall we risk
it?"

"Yes, certainly," said Mr Preston.  "We must go now."

"It is well," said Yussuf, and he stepped out, the others following in
his steps; but when it came to Lawrence's turn, to his intense surprise
he found that his feet sank deep in the softly gathering flakes.  He
looked to his left as he kept on by the wall; but the guards were not
visible though their voices could be heard, and it was evident that they
had sheltered themselves among some stones where they were gossiping
together.

Not a sound was heard but the rush of wind as the little party crept
on--their footsteps were effectually muffled, and in a few minutes they
were beyond the hearing of the guards, even had they spoken; but they
had to keep close together, for the drifting snow was blinding, and hid
their footprints almost as soon as they were formed.

Away to their left lay the ruins which formed the robbers' town, and
farther away, and still more to the left, lay the way to the entrance,
where there was quite a grand room, and a goodly fire burned; but the
fugitives could only see snow: the air was thick with it, and they kept
on until Yussuf stopped so suddenly that they struck one against the
other.

"What is it?" said Lawrence, who was next to him now, the Chumleys
having asked him to go before them.

"I have lost my way," said Yussuf angrily; "the snow has deceived me.
The old temple should be here."

"Well, here it is," said Lawrence, who had stretched out his hand.
"Here is one of the columns."

"Ha!" ejaculated Yussuf; "good boy!  Yes, the fourth; I know it by this
broken place in the side.  Two more steps and we are in shelter."

It was a proof of his admirable powers as a guide to have found the way
in the midst of the blinding snow, but no one thought of that.  Every
mind was strained to the greatest pitch of tension; and when Yussuf led
the way into the old temple, and the footsteps were heard upon the
marble floor, Mr Burne started and thought that their pursuers were
upon them.

"Here is the place," said Yussuf.  "Lawrence effendi," he continued as
he raised the stone, "you know the way; go first and lead.  I must come
last and close the stone, so that they may not know the way we have
come."

"Is there any danger?" said Mrs Chumley excitedly.

"None at all," replied Lawrence.  "It is only to walk down some rough
steps."

She said no more, but let herself be helped down through the opening,
and in five minutes they were all in what seemed to be quite a warm
atmosphere, waiting in the intense darkness while Yussuf carefully
closed the stone.

"There is nothing to mind," said Lawrence.  "I have been all the way
down here, and I will tell you when the steps end and the rough slopes
begin."

He spoke aloud now, in quite a happy buoyant manner which affected the
rest, and their spirits rose still higher when Yussuf suddenly struck a
match and lit the lamp which his forethought had provided.

This done they stood in the rugged arched passage to shake off the
clinging snow with which they were covered, and with spirits rising
higher still the whole party followed Yussuf, who, lamp in hand, now
went to the front.

"I should like to stop here for an hour or two to examine this roofing
and the steps," said the professor.  "Pre-Roman evidently.  We have
plenty of time, have we not?"

"Effendi, it would be madness," cried Yussuf angrily.  "Come on!"

"I have done, and you are master of the situation," said the professor
quietly; while Mr Burne burst into a laugh, took snuff, and then blew
his nose, so that it echoed strangely along the passage.

"Effendi!" cried Yussuf reproachfully.

"Tut-tut!" exclaimed the old lawyer.  "I thought we were safe."

"How much farther have we to go?" said Mrs Chumley at last.

"We are at the bottom," replied Yussuf.  "Mind, there are stones here.
You must mind or you will hurt yourselves, and the wind will put out the
lamp directly.  There is an opening here, and when I have thrust out a
stone or two we shall be on a rocky path.  You will all follow me
closely.  Better take hold of hands; then, if one slips, all can help."

But the wind did not blow out the lamp; and as they stood watching
Yussuf creep along a narrow horizontal passage the light shone upon the
dazzling snow which had filled up the hole, and after thrusting at it
for a few minutes and scraping it down their guide desisted and crept
back.

"I feared this," he said sadly.

"Feared!  Feared what?" cried Mr Burne.

"The snow, effendi.  The way is blocked; the snow must be drifting down
from the mountains and falling in sheets."

"But it will not last, man?"

"Perhaps for days, excellency; and even if the hole were open, I see it
would be utter madness to brave the dangers of that shelf of rock in the
face of this storm."

"Oh, nonsense!" cried Mr Burne; "let's go on.  We cannot get back."

"His excellency does not know the perils of a mountain snow-storm or he
would not say this.  Suppose that we could force our way out through
that snow, how are we to find the buried path with a precipice of a
thousand feet below?  No, excellencies, we are stopped for the present
and must get back."

"How unfortunate!" cried the professor; "but Yussuf is right--we must
return and wait for a better time.  Can we get back unseen?"

"We must try, excellency; but even if we are caught, it will not be till
after we are out of the passage and the stone is down.  This must be
kept a secret."

The way back did not seem long.  The stone was closed, and, low-spirited
and disheartened, they crossed the rugged floor of the old temple and
stood once more amid the snow, which had already fallen knee-deep and in
places drifted far deeper.  But, in spite of the confusion caused by
what answered to intense darkness, Yussuf led them straight to the
prison-hall, and then close under its walls till the rug yielded to his
hand, and as he drew it aside quite a pile of snow crumbled into the
well-warmed place and began to melt.

They were safely back without discovery; and there was nothing left but
to shake off the clinging snow, and, after hiding their packages, try to
rid themselves of their disappointment in sleep.



CHAPTER FORTY THREE.

THE WINTRY GUARDIAN.

For four days the snow fell incessantly.  The aspect of the whole place
was changed, and it was only with difficulty that the appointed guards
managed to bring provisions to the prisoners.

Fortunately an ample supply of fuel was stacked by the door, so that a
good fire was kept; but on the fourth day no food was brought whatever,
and but for the store they had in concealment matters would have looked
bad, for there was no knowing how much longer the storm would last.

But on the fifth day the sun shone out brilliantly, and the brigands and
their wives were all busy with shovels digging ways from place to place;
and when at last the prison-hall was reached it was through a cutting
ten feet deep, the snow being drifted right up to the top of the lofty
door.

The scene was dazzling; the ruins piled-up with the white snow, the
mountains completely transformed as they glittered in the sun, and above
all the sky seemed to be of the purest blue.

The cold was intense, but it was a healthy inspiriting cold, and the
disappointment and confinement of the past days were forgotten as the
glorious sunshine sent hope and life into every heart.

In the course of the day the chief came, bringing with him piled on the
shoulders of a lad more rugs and fur coats for his prisoners; and a long
conversation ensued, in which he told them through Yussuf that he
expected his messengers would have been back before now, but they had
probably been stopped by the snow, and they must wait patiently now for
their return.

A further conversation took place at the door between the chief and
Yussuf, and then the former departed.

"Well, Yussuf," said Mr Preston anxiously; "what does he say?  Not
execution yet from his manner?"

"No, excellency; it is as I feared."

"Feared?" cried Mrs Chumley excitedly; "are we to be kept closer
prisoners?"

"No, madam; you are to have greater freedom now."

"Freedom?" all chorused.

"Yes," said Yussuf; "you are to be at liberty to go where you please in
the old city, but it will not be far, on account of the snow."

"And outside the town?" said the professor.

"Outside the town, excellency," said Yussuf sadly.  "You do not realise
that we had a narrow escape that night."

"Escape?"

"Yes, of being destroyed; the snow everywhere is tremendous.  Even if no
more comes, we shall be shut in here, perhaps, for months."

"Shut in?"

"Yes; the mountains are impassable, and there is nothing for it but to
submit to fate."

"But the snow will soon melt in this sunshine."

"No, excellency, only on the surface, unless there is a general thaw.
You forget where we are, high up in the Dagh.  Even where the snow
melts, it will freeze every night, and make the roads more impassable.
As to our path by the side of the precipice it will not be available for
months."

There was a serious calm in Yussuf's words that was most impressive.  It
seemed so hard, too, just as they had been on the point of escaping, for
the winter to have closed in upon them so soon, and with such terrible
severity; but that their case was hopeless seemed plain enough, for the
guards were withdrawn from their door, and in the afternoon they
relieved the tedium of their confinement by walking along the cuttings
that had been made.

On every hand it could be seen that the brigands were accustomed to such
events as this; firing and food had been laid up in abundance, and
whether the winter, or an enemy in the shape of the government troops,
made the attack, they were prepared.

"There is nothing for it, Lawrence, but to accept our position, I
suppose," said the professor.

"No," said Mr Burne, who overheard the remark; "but suppose my snuff
does not hold out, what then?"

Before anyone could answer, he made a suggestion of his own.

"Necessity is the mother of invention," he said.  "I should have to bake
some of this Turkish tobacco, and grind it between stones."

Then a week glided away, and during that time, being left so much to
their own devices, the brigands keeping in the shelter of their homes,
the professor visited the ancient passage with Yussuf, and carefully
explored it.

"Ancient Greek," he said when he returned, "like the greater part of
this old city.  Some of it has been modernised by the Romans, but that
passage is certainly ancient Greek, about--"

"But the way out--the way to escape, Mr Preston," said Mrs Chumley
eagerly, "surely that is of more consequence than your dates."

"To be sure, yes; I forgot, ma'am.  Yussuf made a careful investigation
of the mouth of the passage where it opens upon the side of the
precipice; in fact, I went out with him.  The track is many feet deep in
snow, and it would be utter folly to attempt to escape."

"Oh, dear me!" sighed Mrs Chumley.

"We must bear our lot patiently till the first thaw comes, and then try
and make our way over the mountains."

These were the words of wisdom, and for long weary weeks the prisoners
had to be content with their position.  The brigands did a little
snow-cutting, and then passed the rest of their time sleeping by the
fires they kept up night and day.  Food was plentiful, and the chief
behaved civilly enough, often paying his prisoners a visit, after which
they were entirely left to their own resources.

"We ought to be low-spirited captives," Mr Burne used to say, as he
beat his hands together to keep them warm; "but somehow nobody seems
very miserable."

And this was a fact, for every day the professor kept them busy with
shovels digging away the snow from some piece of ruin he wished to
measure and draw, while after the chief had been, and noted what was
done, he said something half contemptuously to his men, and no
interference took place.

Day after day, with a few intervals of heavy snow and storm, the
dazzling sunshine continued, with the brilliant blue sky, and the
mountains around looking like glistening silver.

Everywhere the same deep pure white snow, in waves, in heaps, in drifts,
and deep furrows, silvery in the day, and tinged with rose, purple,
scarlet, and gold as the sun went down.

They were so shut in that an army of men could not have dug a way to
them; and, knowing this, the brigands dropped into a torpid state, like
so many hibernating bears, while the professor's work went on.

"Do you know, Lawrence," he said one day, laying down his pencil to rub
his blue fingers, "I think I shall make a great book of this when I have
finished it.  I have got the castle done, the principal walls, the
watch-towers and gates, and if there was not so much snow I should have
finished the temple; but, bless my heart, boy, how different you do
look!"

"Different, sir!" said Lawrence laughing.  "Oh, I suppose the wind has
made my nose red."

"I did not mean that: I meant altogether.  You look so well."

Lawrence had been handling a shovel, throwing snow away from the base of
an old Greek column, and he smiled as he said:

"Oh, I feel very well, sir."

He need not have spoken, for the mountain air had worked wonders.
Nature was proving the best doctor, and the enforced stay in that clear
pure air, with the incessant exercise, had completely changed the lad.



CHAPTER FORTY FOUR.

THE EVASION.

Three months had passed away, and though the hopes of the prisoners had
been raised several times by the commencement of a thaw, this had been
succeeded again and again by heavy falls of snow, and by repeated frosts
which bound them more closely in the stronghold.

But at last the weather completely changed.  The wind came one day
cloud-laden, and with a peculiar sensation of warmth.  Thick mists hid
the mountain tops, and filled up the valleys, and a few hours later the
professor and his companions had to make a rush for the shelter of the
great hall that was their prison, for a terrific downpour commenced, and
for the next fortnight continued almost incessantly.

The change that took place was astounding; the mountain sides seemed to
be covered with rills, which rapidly grew, as they met, into mountain
torrents, which swirled and foamed and cut their way through the dense
masses of snow, till they were undermined and fell with loud reports;
every now and then the loosened snow high up began to slide, and
gathered force till it rushed down as a mighty avalanche, which crashed
and thundered on its course, bearing with it rock and tree, and quite
scraping bare places that had been covered with forest growth.

At first the prisoners started up in alarm as they heard some terrible
rush, but where they were placed was out of danger; and by degrees they
grew used to the racing down of avalanche, and the roar of the leaping
and bounding torrents, and sat talking to Yussuf all through that wet
and comfortless time about the probabilities of their soon being able to
escape.

"The snow is going fast," he said; "but for many days the mountain
tracks will be impassable.  We must wait till the torrents have
subsided: we can do nothing till then."

Nearly four months had passed, since they had met the brigands first,
before Yussuf announced that he thought they might venture to make a new
attempt.  The snow had pretty well gone, and the guards were returning
to their stations at the great gate.  There was an unwonted hum in the
settlement, and when the chief came he seemed to take more interest in
his prisoners, as if they were so many fat creatures which he had been
keeping for sale, and the time had nearly come for him to realise them,
and take the money.

In fact, one day Yussuf came in hastily to announce a piece of news that
he had heard.

The messengers were expected now at any moment, for a band of the
brigands had been out on a long foraging excursion, and had returned
with the news that the passes were once more practicable, for the snow
had nearly gone, save in the hollows, and the torrents had sunk pretty
nearly to their usual state.

"Then we must be going," said Mr Burne, "eh?"

"Yes, effendi," said the guide, "before they place guards again at our
door.  We have plenty of provisions saved up, and we will make the
attempt to-night."

This announcement sent a thrill through the little party, and for the
rest of the day everyone was pale with excitement, and walked or sat
about waiting eagerly for the coming of night.

There was no packing to do, except the tying up of the food in the
roughly-made bags they had prepared, and the rolling up of the
professor's drawings--for they had increased in number, the brigand
chief having, half-contemptuously, given up the paper that had been
packed upon the baggage-horses.

Mr Preston was for making this into a square parcel, but Yussuf
suggested the rolling up with waste paper at the bottom, and did this so
tightly that the professor's treasure, when bound with twine, assumed
the form of a stout staff--"ready," Mr Burne said with a chuckle, "for
outward application to the head as well as inward."

All through the rest of that day the motions of the people were watched
with the greatest of anxiety, and a dozen times over the appearance of
one of the brigands was enough to suggest that suspicion had been
aroused, and that they were to be more closely watched.

But the night came at last--a dark still night without a breath of air;
and as, about six o'clock as near as they could guess, everything seemed
quiet, Yussuf went out and returned directly to say that there were no
guards placed, and that under these circumstances it would be better to
go at once.  No one was likely to come again, so they might as well save
a few hours and get a longer start.

This premature announcement startled Mrs Chumley, so that she turned
faint with excitement, and unfortunately the only thing they could offer
her as a restorative was some grape treacle.

This stuff Chumley insisted upon her taking, and the annoyance roused
her into making an effort, and she rose to her feet.

"I'm ready," she said shortly; and then in a whisper to her husband,
"Oh, Charley, I'll talk to you for this."

"Silence!" whispered Yussuf sternly.  "Are you all ready?"

"Yes."

"Then follow as before, and without a word."

He drew aside the rug, and the darkness was so intense that they could
not see the nearest building as they stepped out; but, to the horror of
all, they had hardly set off when a couple of lanterns shone out.  A
party of half a dozen men, whose long gun-barrels glistened in the
light, came round one of the ruined buildings, and one of them, whose
voice sent a shudder through all, was talking loudly.

The voice was that of the chief, and as the fugitives crouched down,
Yussuf heard him bid his men keep a very stringent look-out, for the
prisoners might make an attempt to escape.

Yussuf caught Lawrence's hand and drew him gently on, while, as he had
Mrs Chumley's tightly grasped, she naturally followed, and the others
came after.

"Quick!" whispered Yussuf, "or we shall be too late."

The darkness was terrible, but it was in their favour, so long as they
could find the way to the old temple; and they needed its protection,
for they had not gone many yards among the ruins before there was an
outcry from the prison, then a keen and piercing whistle twice repeated,
and the sounds of hurrying feet.

Fortunately the old temple lay away from the inhabited portion: and as
they hurried on, to the great joy of all they found that the chief and
his men were not upon their track, but were hurrying toward the great
rock gates, thus proving at once, so it seemed, that they were ignorant
of any other way out of the great rock-fortress.

Once or twice Yussuf was puzzled in the darkness, but he caught up the
trail again, and in a few minutes led them to the columned entrance of
the temple, into whose shelter they passed with the noise and turmoil
increasing, and lights flashing in all directions.

"Hadn't we better give up," said Mr Chumley, with his teeth chattering
from cold or dread.

"Give up!  What for?" cried Mr Burne.

"They may shoot us," whispered the little man.  "I don't mind, but--my
wife."

"Silence!" whispered Yussuf, for the noise seemed to increase, and it
was evident that the people were spreading all over the place in the
search.

As Yussuf spoke he hurried them on, and in a minute or two reached the
stone that led to the passage in the rift.

It was quite time he did, for some of the people, who knew how they had
affected that place, were making for the temple.

But Yussuf lost no time.  He turned up the stone in an instant, and
stood holding it ready.

"Go first, Lawrence effendi," he whispered; "help Lady Chumley and lead
the way."

Lawrence dropped down at once, and Mrs Chumley followed with unexpected
agility; then Chumley, Mr Burne, the professor; and as Yussuf was
following, lights flashed through the old building, and lit up the roof.

Fortunately the ruins of the ancient altar sheltered the guide, as he
stepped down and carefully lowered the stone over his head as he
descended; and so near was he to being seen that, as the stone sank
exactly into its place, a man ran over it, followed by half a dozen
more, their footsteps sounding hollow over the fugitives' heads.

Meanwhile Lawrence hurried Mrs Chumley down, the others following
closely, till the bottom of the steps and slopes was reached, and the
cool night air came softly in through the opening.

There they stopped for Yussuf to act as guide; but, though his name was
repeated in the darkness again and again, there was no answer, and it
soon became evident that he was not with the party.

"We cannot go without him," said Mr Preston sternly.  "Stop here, all
of you, and I will go back and try to find him."  But there was no need,
for just then they heard him descending.

"I stopped to listen," he said.  "They have not yet found our track, and
perhaps they may not; but they are searching the temple all over, for
they have found something, and I don't know what."

"My bag of bread and curd!" said Mr Chumley suddenly.  "I dropped it
near the door."

"Hah!" ejaculated Yussuf; but no one else said a word, though they
thought a great deal, while Mr Chumley uttered a low cry in the
darkness, such a cry as a man might give who was suffering from a sharp
pinch given by his wife.

The next moment the guide passed them, and they heard him thrust out a
stone, which went rushing down the precipice, and fell after some
moments, as if at a great distance, with a low pat.  Then Yussuf bade
them follow, and one by one they passed out on to a narrow rocky shelf,
to stand listening to the buzz of voices and shouting far above their
heads, where a faint flickering light seemed to be playing, while they
were in total darkness.

"Be firm and there is no danger," said Yussuf; "only follow me closely,
and think that I am leading you along a safe road."

The darkness was, on the whole, favourable, for it stayed the fugitives
from seeing the perilous nature of the narrow shelf, where a false step
would have plunged them into the ravine below; but they followed
steadily enough, with the way gradually descending.  Sometimes they had
to climb cautiously over the rocks which encumbered the path, while
twice over a large stone blocked their way, one which took all Yussuf's
strength to thrust it from the narrow path, when it thundered into the
gorge with a noise that was awful in the extreme.

Then on and on they went in the darkness, and almost in silence, hour
after hour, and necessarily at a very slow pace.  But there was this
encouragement, that the lights and sounds of the rock-fortress gradually
died out upon vision and ear, and after turning a sharp corner of the
rocks they were heard no more.

"I begin to be hopeful that they have not found out our way of escape,"
said Mr Preston at last in a cheerful tone; but no one spoke, and the
depressing walk was continued, hour after hour, with Yussuf untiringly
leading the way, and ever watchful of perils.

From time to time he uttered a few words of warning, and planted himself
at some awkward spot to give a hand to all in turn before resuming his
place in front.

More than once there was a disposition to cry halt and rest, for the
walk in the darkness was most exhausting; but the danger of being
captured urged all to their utmost endeavours, and it was not till
daybreak, which was late at that season of the year, that Yussuf called
a halt in a pine-wood in a dip in the mountains, where the pine needles
lay thick and dry; and now, for the first time, as the little party
gazed back along the faint track by which they had come through the
night, they thoroughly realised the terrible nature of their road.

"Everyone lie down and eat," said Yussuf in a low voice of command.
"Before long we must start again."

He set the example, one which was eagerly followed, and soon after, in
spite of the peril of their position and the likelihood of being
followed and captured by the enraged chief, everyone fell fast asleep,
and felt as if his or her eyes had scarcely been closed when, with the
sun shining brightly, Yussuf roused them to continue their journey.

The path now seemed so awful in places, as it ran along by the
perpendicular walls of rock, that Chumley and Lawrence both hesitated,
till the latter saw Yussuf's calm smile, full of encouragement, when the
lad stepped out firmly, and seeing that his wife followed, the little
man drew a long breath and walked on.

Now they came to mountain torrents that had to be crossed; now they had
to go to the bottom of some deep gorge; now to ascend; but their course
was always downwards in the aggregate, and at nightfall, when Yussuf
selected another pine-wood for their resting-place, the air was
perceptibly warmer.

The next morning they continued along the faintly marked track, which
was kept plain by the passage of wild animals; but it disappeared after
descending to a stream in a defile; and this seemed to be its limit, for
no trace of it was seen again.

For six days longer the little party wandered in the mazes of these
mountains, their guide owning that he was completely at fault, but
urging, as he always led them down into valleys leading to the south and
west, that they must be getting farther away from danger.

It was this thought which buoyed them up during that nightmare-like
walk, during which they seemed to be staggering on in their sleep and
getting no farther.

It seemed wonderful that they should journey so far, through a country
that grew more and more fertile as they descended from the mountains,
without coming upon a village or town; but, though they passed the
remains of three ancient places, which the professor was too weary to
examine, it was not until the seventh day that they reached a
goodly-sized village, whose head-man proved to be hospitable, and, on
finding the state to which the travellers had been reduced and the
perils through which they had passed, he made no difficulty about
sending a mounted messenger to Ansina, ninety miles away, with letters
asking for help.



CHAPTER FORTY FIVE.

HOMEWARD BOUND.

Exhausted as the travellers were, sleep, good food, and the soft sweet
air soon restored them, and they were ready to continue their journey
long before their messenger returned, to bring faithfully the means for
a fresh start, with fresh ponies, and the necessaries they required,
though these were hard to obtain in so out-of-the-way a place.

The weather was threatening as they started at last for Ansina, the
Chumleys electing to accompany them.  In fact, on parting, their host,
who had been amply recompensed for his kindness, warned them to hasten
on to the port, for snow, he said, would fall before the week was out,
and then the famished wolves would descend from the mountains and the
plain become dangerous.

The advice was readily taken, for all were quite satisfied that their
travels in Asia Minor would be better ended for the present.

In this spirit they made the best of their way to the port, where they
arrived with the snow falling slightly, though high up in the mountains
there was a heavy storm.  They took up their quarters at the best hotel
in the place, and could have gone on at once by the steamer from
Beyrout, but at Lawrence's wish the departure was put off till the
coming of the next boat, a fortnight later.

"You do not feel so well?" said Mr Preston anxiously.

"Eh, what, not so well?" cried Mr Burne, turning to look at Lawrence.
"Look here, don't say that.  I thought we had cured him."

"Oh, I'm quite well and strong," cried Lawrence quickly.

"But you seem so dull," said the professor.

Lawrence did not answer, but turned away his head.

"I wish we had gone on," said Mr Preston anxiously.  "There would have
been good medical advice on board."

"No, no, I am not ill," said Lawrence; and then in a broken voice, he
cried excitedly, "I wanted to put it off as long as I could."

"What! going home, my dear lad?" said Mr Burne eagerly.  "You are
afraid of our climate again.  Then let's stay."

"No, no; it was not that," said Lawrence.  "I--I--there, I must say it.
Yussuf has--has been such a good fellow, and we shall have to say
good-bye at Smyrna."

The professor was silent for a few minutes.

"Perhaps not for always," he said at last.  "Yes: he has been a
thoroughly good fellow, and I, for one, should like to come out and have
another trip with him.  What do you say?"

"Yes, yes," cried Lawrence eagerly; and he rushed out of the room, to be
seen the next minute holding on by the grave-looking Turk's arm and
telling him the news.

"Look at that," whispered Mr Burne to the professor, as he eagerly
watched Yussuf's countenance.  "Now, if ever anyone tells me in the
future that the Turks always hate the Christians, I can give him an
instance to the contrary."

The time soon glided by for the coming of the next boat, and in due
course they landed at Smyrna, where the parting with Yussuf was more
that of friends and friend, than of the employer and employed.

"If you do come out again, excellencies, and I am living, nothing shall
stay me from being your faithful guide," he said, as he stood at the
gangway of the steamer; "and as for you, Lawrence effendi, may the
blessings spoken of by the patriarchs be with you in your goings out and
comings in, and may the God of your fathers give you that greatest of
his blessings, health."

Lawrence did not speak, but clung to the faithful hand till the Turk
descended into the boat; and he then stood gazing over the gangway till
the grave, thickly-bearded countenance grew less and less and at last
died from his sight.

The little party landed at Trieste, where they parted from the Chumleys,
who were going home; but Lawrence and his friends, after repairing the
damages to their wardrobes, went by rail to Rome, and made that their
home till the rigour of the English spring had passed away.

It was one fine morning at the beginning of June, that a cab laden with
luggage stopped at the old home in Guilford Street, where the door was
opened by Mrs Dunn, who stared with astonishment at the sturdy youth
who bounded up the steps into the hall, and then clasped her in his
arms.

"Why, my dear, dear boy!" she cried, "I had brought blankets down to
wrap you in, and a warm bath ready, and asked cook's husband to be in
waiting to carry you upstairs."

"Why, nurse, I could carry you up," cried Lawrence merrily.  "How well
you look!  Ah, Doctor Shorter."

"Why, you wicked young impostor," cried the doctor; "here have I
neglected two patients this afternoon on purpose to come and attend on
you.  I came as soon as nurse Dunn told me she had received the telegram
from Folkestone.  Bless my heart, how you have changed!"

"Changed, sir?" cried Mr Burne, "I should think he has changed.  He has
been giving up physic, and trusting to the law, sir.  See what we have
done!"

"Yes, doctor," said the professor, shaking hands warmly.  "I think you
may give him up as cured."

"Cured?  That he is!" cried the doctor.  "Well, live and learn.  I shall
know what to do with my next patient, now."

"And if here isn't Mrs Dunn crying with vexation, because she has no
occasion to make gruel and mix mustard plaisters for the poor boy,"
cried Mr Burne banteringly.

"No, no, no, sir," said the old woman sobbing; "it is out of the
thankfulness of my poor old heart at seeing my dear boy once more well
and strong."

The doctor took out his notebook, and made a memorandum as Lawrence
flung his arms round the tender-hearted old woman's neck; the professor
walked to the window; and Mr Burne whisked out the yellow handkerchief
he had worn round his fez, and over which he had made his only joke,
that he was so yellow and red, he looked like a fezzan, and blew his
nose till the room echoed.  After which he was obliged to calm himself
with a pinch of snuff.

"Well, Lawrence," said the professor, after they had all dined together.
"You remember what you said at Ansina?"

"Yes."

"What do you say now?  Would you go through all those wearinesses and
risks again if I asked you?"

"Yes, sir, at any time, if Yussuf is to be our guide."

"And so say I," cried Mr Burne, "if you would have such a cantankerous
old man."

"Ah, well," said the professor.  "I am not half satisfied.  We shall
see."

And so it was left.

THE END.





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