Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Arab's Pledge - A Tale of Marocco in 1830
Author: Mitford, Edward L.
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 "The Arab's Pledge - A Tale of Marocco in 1830" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Transcriber's Note:

    Minor spelling and typographical errors have been corrected without
    note. Archaic, dialect and variant spellings remain as printed.



                           THE ARAB'S PLEDGE:
                           A TALE OF MAROCCO
                                   IN
                                 1830.


                           EDWARD L. MITFORD,
                         CEYLON CIVIL SERVICE.


                                LONDON:
                     HATCHARD & CO. 187 PICCADILLY,
              Booksellers to H.R.H. the Princess of Wales.
                                 1867.

                   [_Right of Translation Reserved._]



                                LONDON:
                   STRANGEWAYS AND WALDEN, PRINTERS,
                        Castle St. Leicester Sq.



PREFACE.


This little Tale, which the Author has given permission to be published,
was written more than five-and-twenty years ago, after a residence of
six years in Marocco. The story is founded on tragical facts, which
occurred at the time, and is intended to illustrate the character of the
people of West Barbary, as well as the state of oppression under which
the Jews of that country suffered, but which of late years the Author
understands has been greatly ameliorated, owing to the humane exertions
of Sir Moses Montefiore, and the remonstrances of the British
Government.

_April, 1867._



CONTENTS.


 CHAP.                                  PAGE
    I. THE CONSPIRACY                      1

   II. THE ACCUSERS                       10

  III. THE PLEDGE                         22

   IV. THE HUNT                           32

    V. THE SPY                            45

   VI. THE SAHARA                         51

  VII. THE SHEIK OF THE LION TRIBES       65

 VIII. THE SULTAN                         76

   IX. THE FALCON CAGED                   86

    X. BLOOD FOR BLOOD                    97

   XI. SHEIK AYOUB                       122

  XII. AZORA                             148

 XIII. THE FALCON'S SWOOP                162

  XIV. RETRIBUTION                       175

   XV. THE PLEDGE REDEEMED               182



EXPLANATIONS OF ARABIC TERMS USED.


 _Alfa_              regiment.
 _Azora_             from Johor--Pearl.
 _Bab_               gate.
 _Bintekee_          a gold coin (of seven or eight shillings).
 _Delal_             auctioneer.
 _Djehennem_         hell.
 _Djilabea_          a striped hooded cloak.
 _Douar_             a circle of tents.
 _Filelly_           from Tafilelt.
 _Fondak_            barrack--caravanserai.
 _Hayk_              Moorish plaid.
 _Jinnah_            heaven.
 _Kaïd_              a governor.
 _Kaisaria_          bazaar.
 _Kasba_             citadel.
 _M'Shouar_          audience hall--durbar.
 _Majnoon_           possessed with a demon.
 _Marabt_            holy beggar--friar.
 _Merjana_           coral.
 _Mulai Idris_       patron saint of Fez.
 _Oom el hassn_      nightingale.
 _Peçeta_            a silver Spanish coin.
 _Roh_               a spirit--(rook or castle.)
 _Rebeb_             a stringed instrument.
 _Sahel_             the plain.
 _Shah Māt_          king is dead--(check-mate.)
 _Taleb_             a lawyer--scribe.
 _Zurzur_            blackbird.



THE ARAB'S PLEDGE.



CHAPTER I.

THE CONSPIRACY.


Our scene is in Marocco, and the reader will, I trust, pardon details of
dress and scenery which may appear tedious, but are necessary in the
delineation of the manners and customs of a people who, though so close
at our doors, are so little known as the Moors, Jews, and Arabs of West
Barbary.

The town of Marocco lies at the foot of the Atlas, which rises in grand,
imposing masses to the eastward, piercing the sky with its snowy peaks.
Around the town are extensive groves of date-palms, plantations of
olives, gardens and orchards abounding with apricots, pomegranates,
grapes, oranges, quinces, and jujubes, as well as flowers; which latter,
however, are never cultivated with any care and grow almost wild.
Beyond, extend the plains, varied by evergreen woods and tracts of
cultivation, nearly to the sea-coast. These plains are barren during the
greater part of the year, but after the periodical rains of spring, are
carpeted with grass and wild flowers; and afford pasture to herds of
gazelles, which at that season forsake the vicinity of the rivers and
bound joyously over their free expanse.

The Jews, whom this tale principally concerns, live among the fanatic
Moors in a state of most abject degradation. They are compelled to wear
a distinguishing dress with the indispensable badge of a black cap and
shoes; they must take off their shoes and walk barefoot in passing
before mosques, official residences, gates of towns, and in presence of
any persons in authority; the wealthiest Jews may be loaded with abuse,
and even struck by the lowest Moors without daring to retaliate or raise
their hand in self-defence, the penalty for striking a Moslem being
amputation of the hand. On the slightest pretext they are thrown into
prison for the sake of their wealth, and then tortured to extort a heavy
ransom for their deliverance. But their greatest danger arises from the
terms of the Mohammedan law; in accordance with which if two witnesses
swear that a Jew has repeated the words of their confession of faith, "I
believe there is but one God, and Mohammed is the prophet of God," his
denial is worthless, as the evidence of Jews is not admitted against
Moors: he is at once invested with a Moorish dress and forced to conform
to Moslem rites, under peril, in case of refusal or recantation, of
being burnt alive.

The gardens before mentioned are the resort of the towns-people, who
come out to enjoy the coolness of evening after the heat and dust of
the streets. In one of these a natural arbour was formed by several
grape-vines, which after climbing up the shafts of the date-trees for
fifteen or twenty feet had lost their hold, and with interlaced boughs
and tendrils, sloped back in a curtain of foliage supported by thick
shrubs of jujube and arbutus, gemmed with waxen berries of yellow and
crimson; from the festoons above hung a profusion of half-ripe, blushing
grapes. The grassy floor of this bower lay in deep cool shade. Two Moors
had selected this inviting spot to spread their carpet. In front of
them, where the trees had been cleared away to plant the ground with
melons and Indian corn, opened an extensive view of the snow-capped
Atlas and the city of Marocco; its mud walls hidden by a canopy of white
dust and vapour, above which rose the minarets of the mosques, the chief
of which, the Juma Kitibea, towered in proud pre-eminence.

These two persons, who are likely to be prominent actors on our scene,
showed by their dress and appearance that they were soldiers of the
Sultan's army. Over a coat of red cloth they wore a full white shirt
with open sleeves, confined round the waist by a red sash, full white
trousers to the knee, and on the head a tall red cap with a blue silk
tassel; yellow slippers completed their costume, and over all they wore
the white hooded burnoose. They carried silver-chased ataghans in their
belts; their swords and guns were leaning against the trees; their
horses, with saddles of faded red, were picketed among the long grass.

The elder of the two, Abdslem Ibn Hadj, was a short thick-set mulatto,
whose grisly black mustachios and beard gave a fierce expression to a
countenance which was otherwise a picture of treachery and cunning. The
other was a young man of pale complexion, with a fine cast of features
and a noble form; he was originally of an amiable and retiring
disposition; but this had been greatly changed by his association with a
dissolute soldiery. He was the son of a man of rank; his father had for
many years been Kaïd of a large province, and being suspected of having
amassed wealth, was, according to the arbitrary custom of the country,
thrown into prison, his property confiscated, and his son forced to
serve in the capacity of a common soldier. The father did not long
survive his disgrace.

This oppression rankled in the heart of Hassan, and nearly overcame
every remnant of moral principle in his mind. He saw that honour and
religion were only used as a veil for the greatest enormities, and that
self was the great idol of prince and beggar; watching every opportunity
for revenge, he had become mixed up with Abdslem, whom he had foolishly
trusted, in plots against the Sultan who had injured him.

The two friends, having filled their pipes with hashish, threw
themselves on the carpet, while a negro boy, who had accompanied them on
a mule, produced from his panniers provisions, dried fruits, and some
charcoal, with which he made a fire in a hole in the ground to prepare
tea,[A] an indispensable beverage in every Moorish party.

[A] The diversity of national beverages is curious. The Moors drink
_green_ tea; the Persians, _black_ tea; the Turks, _coffee_; as the
French affect _wine_, and the English _beer_.

Abdslem, whose intellects were getting confused with the intoxicating
drug he was smoking, began talking,--

"God is great! yes, God is great! oh, wonderful! What blessings He has
bestowed on His servants! The infidels covet our country; of course,
they have heard how beautiful it is; they can't help it. O the green
grass and running water! Ya Mohammed! O the noble horses and the
graceful girls! Curse on the infidels! Abdslem Ibn Hadj wears a sword!
The banner of the Prophet waves over us! And where are their fathers'
houses?"

He lay back emitting a thick cloud from his lips, without observing his
companion, who was all the time immersed in a dark reverie, with his
eyes fixed on the carpet pattern.

"God be praised!" he continued. "What a splendid view! Look at that
mosque! they say its height is not to be measured. And look at God's
hills; the true believers in Paradise enjoy not greater--"

Here he stopped short, perceiving that he was talking for his own
amusement.

"How now, Hassan! do you come out here to shut your eyes, or to enjoy
God's blessings? Better have stayed in your fondak smothered with dust
and fleas. I'll lay my life your head is still running on that
infidel's daughter, (may her days be shortened!); you have no more heart
than a Christian. O child! if the men got wind of it, you would be the
laugh of the whole Alfa!"

He checked himself as he saw the other's darkening brow, which showed
him he was going too far with one who, although his equal in station,
was his superior by birth.

"Well, don't be offended, you know I am your friend, although _I am_
fond of talking. Try this tea; the live water of the infidels I prefer,
but that is not easily got."

"May your father's house be desolate!" said Hassan surlily, putting
aside the offered refreshment. "Have I not curses enough on my head,
without that of your rattling, insulting tongue superadded; if you have
no better entertainment to offer, hold that in the devil's name?"

"Ya Allah! may the devil be accursed! This is all I get for my good
will. The wise has said, 'He who loses his temper may drink the sea.' I
am silent!" and calling the boy to replenish the tea-pot, he continued
drinking cup after cup till he had exhausted the supply, while his
companion sat evolving wreaths of smoke and twisting long grass into
cords.

"And now," said Abdslem, turning suddenly round, "shall I prove to you
that I am your friend?"

Surprised by this sudden address Hassan looked up with an expression of
hope on his face; which, however, quickly changed to a glance of
suspicion.

"Why, Abdslem, if words could do it, you can; but I have long learnt the
value of friendship, which is bought and sold like market stuff, but
ever fails in time of need,--unless interested."

"Very good," said Abdslem; "so it is; but hear me first, and then judge.
You love the Jewess! The Jews were created for slaves to the Moslems!
But you can't buy her; the infidels won't sell their children with all
their love of money; and she won't turn Moslem; so you can't marry her,
it is against the Koran. She is pretty; it is a wonder how God can give
Jews such beautiful daughters!"

"May your father be burnt! Why do you torment me thus?" said Hassan,
springing up.

"Wait and hear me," said Abdslem; "I have a plan in which I will the
more readily assist as it is to save a soul from Djehennem. Now mark!
try your luck once more, and if she repulse you, we will go and swear
that she has pronounced the confession of faith of Islam. The fear of
death will prevent her from retracting; and you will then possess the
object of your wishes at the trifling expense of an oath. There, have I
proved I am your friend? God is great!"

Hassan, whose countenance had brightened when expecting to hear a way of
obtaining the object of his wishes, although accustomed to wickedness,
when he thus suddenly heard the proposal, revolted at its enormity.

"Friend!" echoed he. "Fiend, say rather! I thought I had fallen low
enough; but I see there are deeper depths of villany; and _you_, my
_friend_--" he continued, with a bitter sneer, "would still plunge me
downward, until you land me in the lowest pit of hell; and there you
would leave me,--if you may."

Abdslem was rather staggered at the manner in which his proposition had
been received.

"Wonderful," said he; "I thought to have served you, and these are my
thanks! Well, I will trouble you no longer with my friendship, or my
company. Find another butt for your spleen; I have borne with you thus
long for your father's sake. Here, bring my horse, you son of fourteen
generations of black fathers," he called to the slave boy.

Hassan was touched.

"Stay!" said he, seizing his hand, as he rose to depart, "forgive
me,--my misfortunes gall me; I speak at random; leave me not now when I
so much need your assistance."

"I do not bear enmity," said Abdslem; "I only thought of gratifying your
wishes, but if you will not take what may be had for such small pains,
let us think no more of the infidel. I would rather see all the Jews in
Marocco burnt in their quarter than see you down-hearted."

"I have trusted you, O my brother," said Hassan, "with this secret
grief; but can we not devise some other means?" For he was unwilling to
give up all hope.

"I see none," said Abdslem. "Open violence would cost you your head; and
fraud would bring you under the Sultan's hand, and he would not spare
your father's son. What worse are the means that I propose than the end
you aim at? And then the merit of bringing a Kafir to the true faith!"

"True! there is some reason in that," said Hassan, whose scruples were
fast fading away before his passion, which blinded his better judgment;
and what had at first revolted him by its criminal deformity, softened
down by familiarity and was stripped of its repulsiveness.

"True, she will thank me hereafter for saving her from infidelity."

"God be praised!" said Abdslem; "and you will laugh over it some day,
when your 'pearl' is called Merjana, wife of Hassan; as a praiseworthy
stratagem."

They now mounted their horses which were unwillingly disturbed from
their unusual feast on the leafy drapery that surrounded them; and
leaving the boy to collect their canteen, they rode slowly towards the
town; and before reaching it the artful suggestions of Abdslem had
completed the victory over his companion's scruples; and the next
morning was fixed upon for putting their plot in execution. As they
entered the gate called Bab Er Rahamna, the eastern sun threw their
shadows far up the street, a symbol of the darker shadow that their
coming cast upon their victim.



CHAPTER II.

THE ACCUSERS.


The Jews living in the towns of Marocco occupy a walled quarter,
separated by gates from the rest of the town; physically they are a fine
race, many of them are very wealthy, and some of the best families show
high breeding, but the cringing and servile habits, to which they are
inured from infancy by oppression, have impressed their demeanour and
physiognomy with timidity and cunning, and effaced in a great measure
the higher and nobler feelings from their minds. There are partial
exceptions to this, as in the case of some of their priests and men
engaged in European trade, who are brought less into contact with their
masters, and feel themselves under more protection. The separate
quarter, although affording security in ordinary times, seems to enhance
the danger to its inhabitants in time of trouble or insurrection, for
the moment that the Sultan's authority is relaxed or in danger, the mob
and the soldiery break loose; urged on by fanaticism and cupidity, the
cry is, "To the Jews' quarter!" and the place is sacked, as by a foreign
enemy. It is wonderful that men who can afford it, will submit to live
with their families in this constant state of oppression and terror; but
such is the force of habit and the love of gain,--for I can hardly place
in the category the love of country,--that very few, or none, do leave
it. It is true that the law does not permit them to leave the country,
but they might easily escape or evade it.

The women, seldom leaving their houses, are less exposed to the
degrading influences which lower the character of the men; their
countenance is more open, and their bearing more independent; as a rule,
they are good-looking, and their manners and address are graceful and
ladylike. Although the prevailing colour of the race is Andalusian,
there are not wanting many possessing the clear and brilliant complexion
of northern climates, and even blue eyes are not uncommon.

In the Jewish quarter in Marocco, in a small house, distinguished only
from those which surrounded it, by its cleanliness of exterior and
neatness within, lived a Jewish matron with her only daughter; their
appearance and manners showed them to have belonged to a higher station,
though now reduced to the necessity of gaining a living by needle-work.
The mother was the widow of a priest, who had been esteemed for his
unostentatious charity, and who had bequeathed to his daughter little of
worldly goods, but instead, a well-grounded faith in the Scriptural
promises and a strong love for her ancestral religion. The child's
personal beauty as she grew up was looked on by her parents--as it
foolishly is by most parents--as a great blessing. How little did they
foresee, while doating on her loveliness, that they were fostering
serpents that would one day sting her to the soul, and prove her most
fatal curse. She was now about eighteen, a vision of grace and beauty.
Most descriptions of beauty have been failures, and I will not add
another to them by attempting it, but to see Azora, after her morning
occupation of reading the prophets, her perfect cheek resting on her
perfect hand, her large dark eyes cast upward, her lovely parted lips
partially revealing their translucent gems, while a glow of enthusiasm
lighted up her beautiful features; the only epithet by which to describe
her beauty is "heavenly." Her dress was an embroidered spencer of pink
damask, over a shirt of striped muslin, whose ample sleeves nearly
reached the ground, and a frock of dark green cloth edged with gold
lace. A crimson Algerian scarf encircled her waist, and silver anklets
and bracelets attracted admiration to the limbs they could not adorn. A
light green silk handkerchief was bound round her forehead, the ends
hanging loose behind, and confined her hair, which fell down her back in
long broad plaits. Her mother's dress was of a similar description, but
of different materials; and, instead of her hair, which their customs
will not allow married women to show, she wore the flat brush of black
ostrich feathers fastened on each side of the face, under the
head-dress. She was engaged in arranging the cushions of the divan and
their few articles of household equipment, preparatory to their morning
meal, when Azora tripped joyously in with several garments she was in
course of embroidering on her arm, and kissed her.

"My blessing on you, my rose of Paradise," said Rachel.

"May _you_ be blessed, O my mother!" returned Azora; "and see how much
work I have done. Is it not well done?" and her merry laugh rang out
musical, as she nestled down by her mother.

"Yes," said her mother, "we shall soon have earned enough for a dowry
worthy of your family, though your beauty is dowry for a queen!"

Suddenly the girl stood up in an attitude of terror; her eyes fixed, and
her hand pressed to her forehead.

"What is it, my child?" cried Rachel, "you frighten me; are you ill?"

"O my mother," said she, mournfully, "I had forgotten; I know not what
brought back to my mind horrible dreams, which last night visited me,
and which troubled me as the whisperings of evil spirits."

"You read too much, my child, and spoil your sleep; but let not dreams
trouble you, mere fanciful flights of the imagination while reason
sleeps."

"Yet it is written," she replied, "'In dreams, in visions of the night,
when deep sleep falleth upon man, the Lord showeth His will, and sendeth
warnings to His servants.'"

"May the evil be averted!" said her mother; "but cheer up, my child, and
let us put our trust in Him, the Holy One, who holds all under His
hand."

It was some time before Azora could shake off the indefinite dread of
impending evil which oppressed her; but she gradually recovered her
usual cheerfulness, and, after their frugal repast, they sat down to
their work.

In the course of the forenoon, a knock at the door was answered with
some hesitation by Rachel, who gave admittance to our two acquaintances
of yesterday. With a lordly air of patronage they sat down, and reclined
on the cushions at the end of the room.

"Peace," said Abdslem; "peace to all true believers. Well, daughter, is
my caftan finished? I have waited for it long. To-morrow there is a
review and powder-burning. I _must_ have it."

"I trust it will be finished this evening," said Rachel; while Azora,
feeling their eyes fixed upon her, bent down over her work; "and I hope
my lord will be pleased with it."

"No doubt about that," said Abdslem: "and I hope you will be as pleased
with your pay!" he added sarcastically, with a look at Hassan; "but I
shall want more braiding in front; and you have not silk enough. Here,
Rachel," said he, in a commanding tone, "take this dollar, and go to
that enemy of God, Benjamin, and buy enough to complete it; and hear!
don't let him cheat you!"

It had been concerted between them to dismiss the mother, that they
might have a clear field to put their plot in execution; and she was no
sooner gone, than Abdslem, feigning business at a house in the vicinity,
and telling his friend to await his return, also departed. Thus left
alone with one, of whose feelings towards her she was well aware, Azora
naturally felt uneasy; her occupation had brought her into contact
occasionally with Moors of this description; but she had hitherto
managed, by the firmness of her behaviour, to keep them at a respectful
distance; but the importunate perseverance of Hassan had caused her much
misery and apprehension. Hassan arose; the struggle in his bosom was
fierce and short: he paused; but his better feelings succumbed to the
fire of his passion.

"Azora," he said, "Azora, I have poured out at your feet the love that
devours me; you have repulsed me with contempt. Can my undying love not
move you? Have you no pity? Can you see my anguish without one word of
hope? Oh, how I love you! Azora! Azora, have mercy!" and he clasped his
hands in supplication.

"This is folly," said Azora, who had risen to her feet. "You are a
Moslem; I, a Jewess; what love can there be between us? Go! and crush
out the wicked thoughts with which you insult me; but talk not of love;"
and a deep blush overspread her beautiful face.

"You will drive me mad," said Hassan, with concentrated feeling, and his
frame trembling with emotion. "Beware! for I will no longer be fooled; I
am come now for the last time. If I go hence this day without a ray of
hope, by the holy Koran I swear you shall live to find that Hassan's
spurned love can only be matched by his hatred and revenge!"

"And is it so?" said Azora, recovering from her alarm at his increasing
violence, but deadly pale. "Then know that I am no more to be
intimidated by your threats than deceived by your professions. I know
that I am exposed to your violence, but the Sultan's protection is
spread over the poorest of his subjects!"

"Think not," said Hassan, "that I intend to break the laws. No! but the
law itself shall place you in my power. And now decide," added he, in a
lower tone, through his clenched teeth, and seizing her wrist in his
grasp; "for, by the sword of the Prophet, I swear you shall be mine, or
perish at the stake!"

"God of Israel! help me!" exclaimed Azora, as the horrible design now
burst upon her mind. Regaining her self-possession, she replied in a
calm tone, "Then let me perish! There is a God above who will exact
fearful vengeance for innocent blood!"

"On my head be it," said Hassan, with unchecked rage; and seeing
Abdslem, who was now returning, he rushed out, shouting, "Bear witness,
O Moslmeen, this woman has professed the faith of Islam."

"I have heard it! I have heard it!" said Abdslem. "To the Cadi!" and
collecting a rabble as they proceeded, they all went off to the tribunal
of the Cadi, to seal by false witness their iniquitous plot.

On their departure, Azora stood riveted to the spot, scarcely able to
believe in the reality of what had occurred; but a sickening chill came
over her, as she began to recollect some part of the dreams which had so
unaccountably affected her. Presently her mother returned, and, seeing
her daughter pale and speechless, her hand pressed to her head, the
purchases dropped to the ground, and she clasped her child in her arms.

"My child! my child! what has happened? Oh, speak!"

"The dream! O my mother! The dream! We are lost--lost--and ruined!" and,
leaning her bursting head on her mother's shoulder, through sobs and
tears she told her, in broken sentences, the conspiracy of the Moors
against her honour and her life.

"Shall the curse cleave to our race for ever?" said Rachel. "But, no;
they shall not take you from me;" and she clasped the affrighted girl
more closely to her bosom, as they heard the sound of voices, and the
approach of a crowd in the street.

"They cannot--they dare not!"

By this time the return of Abdslem, with the Cadi's soldiers, to summon
Azora to the presence of that functionary, put an end to her
lamentations; and forgetting her caution and the usual respect to be
shown to a Moslem, she endeavoured to assuage her grief by uselessly
aggravating their oppressors.

"Oh! may a mother's curse light on you and yours! May your children be
fatherless, and your wife a widow. Had your eye (sleepless be it ever)
no pity? Could you not spare my innocent child? Perjured slave!
reprobate scum of the children of Edom--may every curse that ever came
out of the mouth of man be poured in one appalling mass on your devoted
head! O Lord of Hosts! hear me!"

These curses were poured out, half in Hebrew half in Arabic, as she
stood with one arm round her daughter, and the other raised to heaven!
She looked an inspired prophetess expecting the thunderbolt to seal her
denunciation.

"Listen!" exclaimed Abdslem to the appalled bystanders--"be witness to
her curses, and to me,--a Moslem!--Woman, your curses be on your own
head. What is written will happen! If the Prophet, (on whom peace,) has
enlightened your daughter's mind with the truth of Islam, and she wishes
to leave your worn-out religion, what is it to me? The praise be to God,
what is written must be!"

"A lie! he knows it a lie," said Azora. "I was born a Jewess, and so I
will die! and I go not except by force!"

"Then force it shall be;" and with the help of the soldiers, and in
spite of her screams and resistance, they tore her from her mother, who,
overcome with anguish, swooned in the arms of the women who had
collected and looked on in terror. Abdslem then threw her hayk over
Azora (for he would not take a woman through the streets unveiled) and
led her off in triumph, the crowd that followed chanting as they went
along--

    "La illaw il Allaw--
    Mohammed er rasool Allaw!"

Azora had often heard this chanted at the Moorish funerals, and she now
felt it as the knell of death.

The Cadi was sitting in the gate of the town, where he usually
administered justice; these gates have side arched recesses where the
guards are quartered and are very convenient for the transaction of such
business. The Cadi was a fine-looking old man, his white turban was
without a plait, and he was enveloped in a fine woollen hayk. The crowd
had been beaten off by the guards, and Azora stood before the Cadi
almost unconscious of what was passing around her. The oaths of Hassan
and Abdslem were carefully written down with a reed pen, and sworn on
the Koran, which was reverently held above the waist, and then restored
to the case in which it was kept. "God be praised!" said the Cadi, "God
be praised. For you, my daughter, my heart is joyful for your
conversion. Ya Mohammed--glory to the Prophet, he has saved you from
Djehennem, your name shall be changed;--and Hassan, he is a good youth,
Hassan,--and a good Moslem,--he shall take charge of you, and instruct
you in the Koran,--a good sponsor."

Hassan's countenance was beaming with satisfaction, and he already
congratulated himself on his success; he little knew the heroic spirit
that dwelt in that fair form.

"But I forget," said the Cadi, "we must go through the forms of the
law,--I grow old. Sidi Abd el Kader Jilelly, protect me. Come, my
daughter, and repeat the profession of faith, 'La illaw--'"

Azora had stood motionless while her accusers gave in their lying
witness, and an appalling sense of the danger of her position crept over
her, as she found herself, a helpless girl, in such ruthless hands; but
at this point she summoned resolution to speak.

"What these perjured men lay on my head," she said solemnly, "is
false--_utterly false_, and never will I be guilty of becoming an
apostate from the faith of my fathers!"

"May evil be averted!" ejaculated the Cadi, pushing his spectacles upon
his forehead; "this is another story, and alters the case." And here he
cast a glance of scrutiny at the witnesses, whose involuntary confusion
showed him at once that the charge was false; but he was a Moor, and a
fanatic, and covetous withal, and with such adepts at bribery, it
required very little by-play to make him see his profit in the
transaction. "Daughter," said he, severely, "they have sworn; they are
Moslem--you cannot retract when you have once said it. Hear the
law,"--and he again took the Koran from its case, and turning over the
leaves, intoned a long passage in Arabic, "'If any shall confess the
faith of Islam, and afterwards relapse, the infidel shall be burnt,'
&c., &c. That is the penalty of obstinacy. Are you prepared to forfeit
your life? Speak! I await your decision." But Azora remained stunned.
"Away with the Infidel!" cried the Cadi. "To prison with her!" and the
guards advanced to obey his orders. Just then a ray of hope flashed on
her mind.

"Stop! my lord judge," said she; "I _will_ not submit to _your_ unjust
decision. I hereby appeal to our Lord the Sultan; _he_ will see justice
done to the helpless and oppressed."

This was her last resource. An appeal to the Sultan, publicly made,
cannot be passed over, and she thus removed herself and her cause from
the hands of her persecutors. Hassan was foiled, but, unwilling to
expose his feelings in public, he hastily left the place, in no very
enviable state of mind, followed by Abdslem. The Cadi, though feeling
his dignity offended, was obliged to put a good face on the matter.
Muttering some unscriptural phrases against the protection given by the
Sultan to the infidels, he directed Azora to be consigned to the women
of his own hareem until her cause could be submitted to the Sultan.



CHAPTER III.

THE PLEDGE.


As soon as Rachel recovered her consciousness, the poor mother looked
round in vain for her child, and felt almost crushed by her desolation,
but soon, with that elasticity of feeling so providentially given to her
race, she began to turn over in her mind the means of rescuing Azora
from what she could not conceal from herself was most imminent danger.
She pondered long and deeply. The first object was to raise money; for,
in a country like this, she knew that bribery was the first, if not, the
first and last, means of success; and she at once began collecting all
their little articles of jewellery, and what money was in her
possession. While turning out the contents of one or two small trunks,
in which she kept what she possessed of value, her eye was arrested by
the sight of a small green velvet pouch, four or five inches square,
ornamented with tarnished embroidery, such as is commonly used for
carrying flint and steel.

"The Pledge!" exclaimed Rachel, her face brightening with hope; "as my
soul liveth, this is not sent to me for nought in my hour of peril. The
Arab's Pledge! Oh! he will save us! But where to find him? Alas! he may
be a month's journey in the Desert--but no! now I remember I heard that
he was marching with the tribes against the south, and was already at
Tafilelt."

She immediately sent to call her daughter's betrothed, who was already
on his way to the house, the intelligence of this outrage having quickly
spread. These betrothals take place at an early age, and as young
people, among the Jews, see a great deal of each other, their marriages,
as a rule, are cemented by great affection, and attended with much
happiness. Yusuf was a young man engaged in trade, who had been in the
habit of travelling with small ventures in the provinces; he was
strongly built, and accustomed to fatigue, and possessed considerable
talent, with a large amount of caution and common sense. He was almost
in a state of frenzy, which was aggravated by his knowledge of its
impotence, as he listened to Rachel's description of the occurrence.

"O mother! dear mother! this is horrible, to be deprived at a blow of
all that is dear to me. And oh! what must her sufferings be? Why are we
such slaves?--but I will fly to save her! What is my life worth?" And
the spirit of the man made a feeble attempt to rise within him. "The
Sultan shall hear me, though he slay me!"

"Yusuf, my poor boy," said Rachel, "you can do nothing: are we not Jews?
Your life would be thrown away, and in vain. What can be done with
money, that I will do; listen to my voice, and if it please the God of
Abraham to help us, you may yet be the means of her rescue."

"O mother! but tell me how!"

"Listen--it is now seven years since that an Arab prisoner fell into the
Sultan's power. Through my husband's assistance (God rest him!), he was
enabled to make his escape; my husband also redeemed his favourite black
horse, which had been given to a common soldier, and without which he
refused to escape. It was in the cool morning, before the sun had risen,
when my husband guided the Sheik out of the town gates, where he found
his steed ready saddled for flight. The Arab, free, and once more
possessing his favourite, was moved nearly to tears. My husband told me
that the horse recognised his master, and that their meeting was like
the meeting of two sons of Adam. The Arab then took my husband by the
hand, and thus addressed him: 'O friend, you have known me as a helpless
prisoner; my faith was not your faith, yet have you conferred on me
benefits which I should have looked for in vain from these Moors, who
call themselves Moslem. O friend! know me now as Hamed Ibn Ishem, Chief
of the _Woled Abou Sebah_. Gold cannot repay the obligations conferred
on my father's son, but gold you shall have. But you are a Jew, and
here, are ever subject to danger and persecution, and evil days may
come, (which God avert!) when my assistance may be of service to you.
Therefore, you shall take a Pledge of me, that all the tribes may know
that we are brothers, and that the peace of God is between us.' He then
took this pouch, embroidered with his name, from his belt, and put in it
a lock of hair cut from his horse's mane. 'Wherever you show this, every
Arab will obey you. If you are oppressed, fly with your family to the
shadow of my tent:--if in danger, send to me for assistance; and as my
faith has not prevented you from aiding me in my distress, I swear, by
the God of Ishmael, that nothing shall prevent my redeeming this pledge
at the risk of my life! Peace be with you!' and, pressing my husband's
hand, he sprang into the saddle, and was soon lost to sight in the
morning mist. The Sheik sent us gold, but my husband's beneficent spirit
would not allow him to enrich himself while there were poor to be
relieved, and this pledge was almost forgotten, until to-day it came on
my sight like a messenger from heaven. The hour of peril _is_ come. Take
it, my son--seek out the Sheik--he will redeem his pledge; many of our
people live in their tents, and peradventure I and my child may escape
to the wilderness, even as wandering birds cast out of the nest. Oh, let
not to-morrow's sun see thee within ten hours' journey of this accursed
city."

Yusuf had listened to this narrative with the deepest interest, but his
mind did not jump so readily at the conclusion of the sanguine Rachel.

"This is sudden," he said, "and should I find the Sheik, he may deny his
pledge after so long a time."

"Impossible!" interrupted Rachel; "an Arab will not refuse aid to an
ordinary claimant, who seeks hospitality in his tent. How can a Chief
deny his pledge? If it were possible, he would be shamed and outcast
from his tribe! But he will not!"

"I hope your confidence is well founded, but if anything happened to
Azora before my return? O mother, I must see her first."

"No, my son," said Rachel, solemnly, "no!--not as you value her life.
But delay not, every hour--nay, every minute is precious."

"Well, mother, I obey you; but _you_ must see Azora, and tell her of my
ceaseless devotion; and oh, entreat her not to be rash, but to gain time
as long as possible. Pray for me on this perilous journey, and bless me,
O my mother."

"God bless thee, my son, even the God of Israel bless thee, and prosper
thee in the way, and bring thee back again in safety."

They embraced each other affectionately; and Yusuf, putting away the
pouch safely in his bosom, returned to his own house, with a sad heart,
to make a few necessary preparations for his sudden journey. These
completed, he left word that he should be absent for some days on a
trading expedition, and, mounting his mule, in less than an hour was
wending his way through the suburbs of the town, absorbed in grief, but
urged on by dread lest the fate of his betrothed should be decided
before his return.

It was the day appointed for a grand hunt, and the Sultan was passing
the time in an octagonal pavilion in the garden of the palace, until
everything was ready to set out. Mulai Abd Er Rahman was about forty
years of age, of a swarthy complexion, with regular features, and a
handsome black beard and moustache; his eye was of that mild expression
which can blaze out with terrific energy when excited by passion; his
forehead was broad, and surmounted by a turban of fine muslin. The rest
of his dress was not distinguishable from that of other Moors of rank,
and over all he wore the fine Filelly hayk, which fell in graceful
drapery to his feet.

He was now reclining on a Persian carpet, one arm leaning on a pile of
cushions, fringed and tasselled, while the other hand held a small china
tea-cup and saucer; drinking green tea being the one occupation with
which the Moors fill up all their spare time, no milk is used with this
tea, but the loaf-sugar is always put into the tea-pot. On the carpet
was a polished brass tea-tray, with an English service of green and
gold, and some plates of preserves.

The dome of the pavilion, supported on pointed arches, was brilliantly
painted in every variety of arabesque, and the arches and cornices
worked with stuccoed mouldings, the floor was of lozenge-shaped glazed
tiles of various colours, and these lined the walls to the height of
several feet from the ground. The doorway was shaded with grape-vines
and jessamine on trellises.

One of the Sultan's attendants now entered, and with a deep obeisance
announced that the Cadi El Faki Al Maimon had something of importance to
communicate, if he might be allowed admission; and the Sultan, although
vexed at the unseasonable intrusion, gave his permission, with the usual
"Bismillah," and the Cadi appeared. He was motioned to a seat at the
lower end of the carpet; he then proceeded to lay the case of the Jewess
before the Sultan, with sundry invocations of God's favour on the
Khalifa of the Prophet and protector of the faith; and added that the
infidel had denied the facts, and appealed to his exalted footstool; and
that such being the case, she was now removed from his jurisdiction.

The Sultan was not naturally blood-thirsty, but could be cruel when
governed by revenge or cupidity; and after hearing the Cadi's statement
it occurred to him, that it would save him trouble if he allowed the
Jewess, whom he plainly saw had been falsely accused, to return to her
own persuasion if it could be done without contravening the law.

"God is great! You say the woman denies the charge; (enlighten thy
servant, O Mohammed!) Is it not written of the infidel, that he shall
voluntarily repeat his confession before the Cadi and the Ameers to make
the ceremony legal?"

"Wonderful! Our lord the prince can teach the law to us his slaves; but
is it right to allow indulgence to the infidels, to the injury of the
faith?"

"I will take care of the interests of religion, the cause is now before
me, you are no longer responsible. Where is the infidel?"

"She must be arrived by this time," said the Cadi; "but if I might
presume to advise--"

"Enough, priest," said the Sultan, with a movement of impatience, and a
look that Al Maimon did not think it safe to brave. "You are dismissed
from attendance."

"May blessings be increased on our Lord the Sultan," he answered, and
left the presence, as Azora was introduced between two soldiers.

When a Jew, of whatever rank, is introduced to the Sultan, though it be
to bring him presents, he is always brought in by two guards grasping
his collar, and thrown down on his face, then dragged up again and held,
as though he were a criminal. But guided by a natural feeling of respect
for a woman, Azora was merely left standing on the carpet, and the
attendants retired. She could not forbear trembling before one whose
word was fate, and on an occasion of less importance would hardly have
been able to bear up against her emotions; but she felt she was a
champion of her faith, and collected all her courage for the emergency.
The Sultan had taken up a letter, which he was listlessly reading, and
by a sign gave her permission to speak.

"May the king live for ever!" she said. "I have been falsely accused by
perjured men of forsaking the faith of my fathers. I have appealed to
your exalted tribunal, and I now ask for justice in the name of God!"

At the first sweet sounds of that soft voice, the Sultan had raised his
eyes, and remained gazing at the beautiful vision that stood before him.
The flowing veil which had concealed her person had fallen, hanging in
loose folds from her left shoulder; and as she proceeded, her large dark
eyes were fixed on the arbiter of her cause, her finely modelled hand
and arm were raised in invocation of the Deity, and then dropped slowly
to her side. It was enough, her fate was irrevocably sealed. And a
slight hint from his own evil nature had gone further in proving the
soundness of the Cadi's advice, than if he had supported it by all the
texts in the Koran. Invested with the most arbitrary power, and
unaccustomed to any opposition in such cases, he stood on little
ceremony, when his only feeling was, that he was conferring a favour.
Rising, he approached her, with an air of gracious familiarity.

"Think you," said he, taking her hand, "that I can be such a traitor to
our Prophet's cause as to allow such beauty to shine on infidels. Still
I have the power to send you back free--and make your accusers' heads
roll at your feet. It depends on you," he continued, drawing her towards
him. "Give the command, which shall seal the death of your enemies--your
own triumph--and my happiness!"

"Mock me not, my lord," said Azora, extricating herself from his hold,
as she perceived his meaning. "I am unworthy of my lord's notice. I ask
not the death of mine enemies. I ask not my life at the price of
degraded innocence. I ask but justice! And oh! for the sake of that just
God, whom you profess to adore, and who will bless the protector of the
oppressed, oh, restore me to my poor mother! Save me! oh, save me!" and
she buried her face in her veil, and burst into tears.

The Sultan's first impression was astonishment at meeting with such a
rebuff, and then his dignity was offended by the boldness of her speech,
but his anger was checked by her grief, which even he could not behold
unmoved; he attributed it, however, to a womanish fear of death; but was
quite incredulous as to her resolution holding out so far as to brave
it. He thought it better to give her time for reflection, and throwing
himself on the cushions, said mildly, "Your fate is in your own hands.
Think on your danger, for _I alone_ can save you." And summoning his
attendants, he directed them to conduct her to the hareem in the palace.
Azora, her eyes streaming with tears, hopelessly followed her guide to
the women's apartments, where we must leave her to gather strength for
the new trials which she foresaw awaited her.



CHAPTER IV.

THE HUNT.


The description of a Moorish hunting party, though not altogether
relevant to my tale, may interest my sporting readers, and will
contribute to the picture of Maroqueen customs, which this book, in
subordination to the tale, is intended to illustrate.

"Is all ready?" said the Sultan, to his master of the horse.

"May my lord's saddle be exalted," said Kaled Ibn Othman, "all is ready,
and your steed is waiting proudly for the honour of carrying the sacred
person of the Prophet's Khalifa. May my lord's sport be prosperous!"

"Ameen," echoed the attendants.

Having put on a pair of orange-leather boots, and received his burnoose
and sword from his chamberlain, the Sultan mounted his horse, a
milk-white barb, richly caparisoned with crimson silk and damask,
embroidered in gold; the broad stirrups, bit, and dagger-like spurs,
plated with gold; the tasselled collar round the neck, containing charms
against the evil eye. Two other horses were led by grooms, one a superb
mottled grey, with green silk housings; the other a noble black, with
white silk housings. The "shade-bearer" carried a large crimson velvet
parasol, the badge of sovereignty, mounted on a twelve-foot staff, over
the Sultan's head, and his guns, inlaid with gold, silver, and ivory,
were carried by attendants on foot. All the troops that could be got
together were drawn up in irregular lines on each side of the road, with
yellow, red, and green standards flying; and as the Sultan rode out of
the gate, a deafening shout of "Allaw berk Ommr Seedee!" (Long life to
our lord!) ran along the line until lost in the distance. After leaving
the town, there was little regularity attended to in the march. A body
of chosen horsemen went first in every picturesque variety of colour and
costume according to the taste or means of the individual; some had red
trappings, some green; there were swords, and silver-mounted guns, and
ataghans, of different lengths and shapes, caftans of red, blue, and
green, yellow boots or slippers, then stirrups, bits, and spurs, some
gilt, some plated, and some polished steel; and burnooses white or blue.
The only mark of uniformity being the pointed red fez, with blue tassel.
The chief falconer followed on horseback, with his men on foot carrying
cages on which perched several pairs of Barbary falcons hooded; one
favourite he carried on his wrist. After these came huntsmen, leading a
number of large fawn-coloured greyhounds with black muzzles, followed by
a motley crowd of Moors on foot, armed with guns and sticks, and a pack
of dogs, mongrel and hound, for beating up the country.

Once on the plain, the usual mad riding began; parties of ten, fifteen,
or twenty horsemen charging at full speed, and on reaching the Sultan,
firing their guns at his feet, and wheeling off to the right and left,
while others came up in successive charges. This complimentary custom is
never omitted. The Moors are enthusiastically fond of this "powder
play," as they call it, the Sultan himself often joining in it. On such
occasions he takes the centre of the line, and is always allowed to be a
neck ahead of the rest. They were obliged to desist from this amusement
before reaching the hunting ground; and after passing through tracts of
olive-plantations, they came to a plain studded with clumps of trees,
brushwood, and a few date-palms stretching away to the foot of the
mountains, and where the battue commenced; the men forming a long line
beating the jungle. The red partridge rose in coveys at every point, and
were knocked down by the sticks of the beaters with great dexterity. As
the hares broke, the hounds were slipped, and were scouring the plain in
all directions; there was no such thing as regularity or fair play, for
whenever the hares came near the beaters they were shot, or disabled by
a well-aimed stick. In another direction, in which the Sultan rode, the
falconers had come upon packs of sand-grouse, a handsome game bird, as
large as the red grouse, with a very powerful flight. The Barbary falcon
is a splendid bird, a little smaller than the Peregrine, but of great
power and speed. They are not trained to "wait on," but as they were
cast off, they took the air, and darted like lightning into the
affrighted flock, each time bringing a victim fluttering to the earth.
Altogether it was an animated scene, dogs yelping, huntsmen hallooing,
falconers whooping, and horsemen galloping over the plain.

A country Berebber having reported a herd of antelopes feeding three
miles off, a halt was ordered under a clump of trees, to consult on the
best mode of approaching them, and for a short rest. Presently an
altercation among the dismounted horsemen and others on foot attracted
the Sultan's attention, the cause of which we will relate. They had
fallen in with a wandering Marabt, in a striped cowled frock, studiously
patched, to give it the appearance of raggedness and poverty; he carried
a water pitcher over his shoulder by a stick, a welcome sight to the
huntsmen, who had been exposed for the greater part of the day to a
burning sun.

"God be praised," said Bozaffer, "who has sent us water so
opportunely.--Peace," said he to the Marabt, "and excuse my begging your
blessing, till I have blessed myself with a drink from your pitcher."
And seizing it without ceremony, he took a long draught, then wiping his
mouth, and taking breath, he continued, "When a man thirsts he is not
particular, but I think the last well you drew from was well stored with
frogs, for I swear a croaker kicked me on the nose when drinking."

The Marabt's sallow countenance became pale as he seized his jar, which
seemed likely to make the round of the mouths present. "The blessing of
Si Hamet o Moosa be with you, my children! Have I not a hot journey
before me, and shall I not want water to sustain me? The land is dry and
parched!" and he prepared to depart.

"Not so fast," said Abd el Aziz, catching the handle of the water
vessel; "you are a Moslim, and cannot refuse water to Moslmeen who
thirst; besides, is not the river within an hour's walk?"

The Marabt, however, seemed to have other reasons for refusing their
request; but what could sanctity avail against a dozen men parched with
thirst? They crowded round him, struggling to obtain possession of the
jar, of which he would not loose his hold, and in the scuffle the
fragile vessel was broken to pieces, and the coveted water was spilt on
the arid soil. Bozaffer, who, having quenched his own thirst, had looked
on encouraging his companions, now sprang forward, crying, "The frog!
the frog!" and picked up a piece of reed, stopped at each end with
beeswax, from among the fragments.

"Wonderful!" he exclaimed, as he opened one end, and drew forth a
written scroll, which had thus been preserved uninjured in the water.

"Mashallah!" said the Marabt, in as calm a tone as his agitation would
permit. "It is a charm to preserve me from the evil eye and the dangers
of the road;" and he eagerly extended his hand to take the paper; but
Abd el Aziz, who had marked his look of terror at the discovery of the
scroll, and was enraged at seeing the water all lost, interposed.

"No, no! A curse on his father! He had good reason for refusing water
to the Moslim; he is no Marabt,--he is a spy!"

Here the approach of Kaled put an end to the dispute. Abd el Aziz gave
him the paper, with an explanation of the circumstances, and he,
returning, communicated the same to the Sultan, to whom he presented the
paper, holding it with the skirt of his burnoose. The Sultan, too much
occupied with his sport to examine it at the time, thrust it into his
sash, and ordered the Marabt under a guard to the tents. And the whole
party of horsemen rode off in the direction of the antelopes; leaving
those on foot, and the rabble to await their return. On nearing the
ground the horses were concealed, and the Sultan and some good marksmen
were placed in ambush among some brushwood and young date-trees, at a
spot they knew the gazelles must pass to reach the open plains. Kaled
and the horsemen then galloped off, and after a long détour, surrounded
them by a line of men posted through the wood, which skirted the small
plain on the opposite side, these were ordered to rush out on the first
shot, and turn the game towards the ambush. Kaled and two of his men
were conducted by the guide for about half a mile, creeping through the
bushes; they then turned into a deep ravine, many of which, formed by
the rains, intersect the plains. Before leaving the trees they had
sighted the herd, about thirty-five, quietly grazing at a distance of
half a mile. The Berebber scanned the course of the ravine, and marked
every shrub and tuft of grass on its borders, and his quick eye
mechanically took in the bearings of some of the prominent trees among
which they stood, he then directed them to follow in silence. After
creeping cautiously through the ravine, sometimes making their way
through the brambles, sometimes cutting their naked feet among rocks, or
helping each other over holes and chasms, the gully began to shallow;
presently the Berebber stopped, he then whispered Kaled, "You see that
bush of Nebek in front, with three thistle-heads growing through it? No?
Now look along this gun."

"Yes, I see," whispered the other.

"Inshallah! that is within one hundred and fifty yards of the herd, you
must creep up the bank on your hands and knees; they will see you
instantly, fire at once, and may you be prosperous."

On reaching the spot the Moors raised their guns on to the plain,
protected by the tufts of grass, before showing their heads to take aim;
as soon as they did so they caught the eye of the old buck, who with
head erect gazed for a second, and then uttering a loud grunt, the whole
herd bounded across the plain; but not before the men had fired, two of
them missed, the third was more successful. The old gazelle who brought
up the rear of the herd stopped short as if stunned, then turned to
charge the Berebber, who was running up to despatch him; but his legs
were failing, the blood gushed from his mouth and nostrils, and he
rolled over on the ground. The horsemen now came galloping out of the
woods, but the herd had already taken the direction of the ambush, and
were now out of sight. The Sultan and his party were losing patience at
the long delay, when the shots were heard, and now, breathless with
excitement, and with guns protruding from stump and foliage, the echoes
had scarcely passed away, when the herd came sweeping down the glade,
with heads thrown back, and their black shining horns and white sides
and throats glancing in the sun; a moment they halted, as apprehensive
of danger, before nearing the ambush, but the distant shouts made them
again dash forward, the dead silence only broken by their pattering
feet. Onward they came, till the beautiful creature in front of the herd
was within fifty yards of the Sultan's stand, when he fired, and the
animal springing six or seven feet into the air, fell dead on his back.
A volley from the rest of the party sent the alarmed herd flying with
increased speed, leaving five more maimed and struggling on the plain.
These had their throats cut, with the usual formula, "Bismillah!"
Without this they are not lawful; even birds must go through the same
process, and should they be already dead, and no blood will flow, they
are thrown away as unfit for food.

After sufficient adulation had been bestowed on the Sultan's skill, they
returned to where they had left the foot-men, and the whole party took
the road to the rendezvous. The gazelles and hares were slung on mules,
and the partridges and grouse carried by the men on foot. After passing
the plain, they came to a precipitous descent down to the Valley of the
Tensift; the slopes were clothed with the dark evergreen foliage of the
Argan, studded with trees of Sifsaf, whose leaves appear of glittering
silver; with a palm here and there shooting into the sky. The banks of
the river were brilliant with wild flowers, and clumps of rose-laurel
(Oleander) were reflected in its waters. At a distance down the valley
was seen the white-domed sanctuary of Sidi Bou Shaib, and near it, on a
mound under a spreading fig-tree, were the white tents, pitched in a
grove. The cavalcade wound slowly down the steep path, satiated with
sport, but were tempted to cast off their hawks in pursuit of the ducks
and widgeons that rose in flocks from the islets and pools. The instinct
of water-fowl is very remarkable. Directly the duck sees the falcon
swoop, he shuts his wings, and drops like a stone into the water,
followed by the hawk, who is only driven from the pursuit by the
splashing water. One falcon showed great sagacity--having been twice
baffled by this ruse, he took his station on a crag bordering the
stream, until another flight came swiftly down. Motionless, he let them
pass, and then, dropping from his position, shot along the ground in
their track, and overtaking them, darted upwards, turned on his back,
struck his talons into the breast of his victim, and bore it off in
triumph. Arrived at the camp, the Sultan retired to his tent, and the
whole party, as the evening advanced, spread their carpets under the
shade of the trees. The soldiers collected in groups, to drink and smoke
and enjoy themselves after the fatigues of the day. It is true the
Koran forbids wine and spirits, but there is not a Moor, from the Sultan
downwards, who does not indulge in them whenever they can procure them.
Mandolines and other instruments were produced, and Arabian Nights'
tales were recited; Arab ballads were sung and listened to with excited
interest by the several parties.

"Ya Mohammed!" said Muktar, a Moorish soldier, "that old darweesh Achmed
is always dinning us with his Merjana and the Forty Thieves, and Kalifa
the fisherman, which we and our fathers have been hearing since the days
of Haroun Er Raschid (on whom peace). Now let us have a song. Sing, O
Cassim, son of the Arab, sing a song of the tent. Had you as many fleas
in your tents as we have in the fondak? if so, you were wise to leave
them."

Cassim was an Arab from the south, who had settled in the province for
some years, and had entered the Sultan's service as a soldier, not
without lingering regrets for the scenes of his early home. Removing the
pipe from his mouth, he took up the instrument--

"I will sing, O Muktar, what you cannot understand; but you will--the
noise."

He then struck the cords, and broke forth into a song, evidently
improvised for the occasion--a talent which is not uncommon among this
people.


THE ARAB'S SONG.

    "Oh, for my long-lost desert sands,
      Where the ostrich alone doth dwell
    And no tree stains its broad expanse,
      Save the date-tree by the well,
                        The well,
      Save the date-tree by the well.

    Oh! why did I leave the desert wide
      In gloomy towns to dwell?
    And the black tents of my father's tribe,
      And the maiden by the well,--
                        The well,
      And the maiden by the well?

    There, is naught to break the desert fair,
      As far as the eye can see,
    And the Arab is lord of earth and air;
      Oh, the desert is for the free,--
                        The free,--
      Oh, the desert is for the free!"

"Ya Beledee! O my country!" said Cassim, as he laid down the mandoline,
"when shall I again see your bright sands?"

"Adjaib, oh, wonderful," said Muktar; "if your country was such a land
as this, with wine and oil, fruits and flowers, and running water, you
might love it; but a barren desert!"

"The desert is for the free!" re-echoed Cassim, with a contemptuous
smile. "What is your country, with all its beauties? The home of slaves!
The peasant sows, but who reaps? yet even he loves his country. The
Arab's fare of milk and meal, and dates, _with_ liberty, is it not
better than feasting without? His goats' hair tent is healthy and clean,
protects him from all weathers, and contains those who are dear to him.
Accustomed to gallop in freedom over trackless wastes, even the air he
breathes in other lands oppresses him, and is too close and confined for
his expansive feelings. The desert for the Arab, the town for the
drudge. God is great!"

"Hear him, O Moslim," said Muktar; "he speaks like a priest, but give me
the rebeb; here goes, for a soldier's song:--


MOORISH SONG.

    "Charging steeds, and beautiful girls,
      And the wine in the glass that laughs;
    Are joys unbought by gold or pearls,
      So I sing to my friend who quaffs.
         _Refrain_--Qua ha ha: ha ha ha: ha haffs,
                    La ha ha: ha ha ha: ha haffs.

    The wine laughs out with a ruby eye,
      The sweet girl, with a soft eye black;
    From my courser's eye the bright sparks fly,
      As he speeds like the cloudy rack.
                    Qua ha ha: ha ha ha: ha haffs,
                    La ha ha: ha ha ha: ha haffs.

    After madding race, I reach the place
      Where my houri, in crystal slim,
    Gives me rosy wine, with smiling face,
      When her lips have first kissed the brim.
                    Qua ha ha: ha ha ha: ha haffs,
                    La ha ha: ha ha ha: ha haffs.

    Then joy to the horse, with the rushing feet,
      To the girl whose dark eye laughs;
    And joy let us drink, in the red, red wine,
      Thus I sing to my friend who quaffs.
                    Qua ha ha: ha ha ha: ha haffs,
                    La ha ha: ha ha ha: ha haffs."

"A song of Paradise!" said Cassim; "these are also God's blessings, O
Muktar; some love one thing and some another."

Calls to horse now stopped their further amusement, and, striking their
tents and collecting their carpets, they were soon all mounted, and
accompanying the Sultan on his return to the town.



CHAPTER V.

THE SPY.


The Sultan being sufficiently recovered from his fatigue, was reclining
in his half-open tent, when it occurred to him to examine the paper
which had been taken from the Marabt. He opened and began reading it
carelessly, but before he had finished, his face was livid, for it
proved that treachery was at work among his own personal attendants.

"God is great!" he ejaculated, "God is my protection. A conspiracy! The
address--Abdslem Ibn Hadj,--the slave! And the seal, Sheik Hamed of the
Lion Tribes!" then raising his voice, "Who waits?"

"My lord's slave," answered Abd el Aziz, who was on guard, and coming
forward.

"The spy that was taken this morning, let him be taken outside the camp
and return to me with his head!--Go!" said the Sultan.

"On my head and eyes;" and Abd el Aziz receiving a token from the
Sultan, went out immediately to obey his orders.

The guards whom he summoned, astonished and awed by the sudden command,
mechanically obeyed, and in spite of his prayers and entreaties the
Marabt was forthwith decapitated, and his head, still dripping with
blood, carried by the lock of hair on his crown, and laid by Abd el
Aziz in view of the Sultan, saying, "Behold the traitor's head! thus
perish the enemies of the Khalifa!"

"God be praised," said the Sultan, counting his beads. "It is well; so
far. Approach and mark--Take that head, mount your horse and ride to the
town; cause it to be nailed up over the gate of the Kasba, and let it be
proclaimed that he was a traitor and a spy of your lord's enemies. That
done, seize our slave Abdslem of the guard, and lodge him in a dungeon,
in chains, with hand torture. Here is my signet, have I not trusted
thee? and thy fidelity shall be rewarded."

Abd el Aziz prostrated himself, kissed the seal and placed it in his
vest. "My lord's slave is too highly honoured, in being the bearer of
the least of my lord's commands. May I ever deserve my lord's favour!"
He then left the tent, mounted his horse, with the bloody head dangling
at his saddle-bow, and with heart elate, galloped to the town,
entertaining himself with visions of the promotion and honours he was to
derive from the Sultan's favour, of which, however, that head might have
taught him the uncertainty.

Rachel, although she had despatched her intended son-in-law on his
mission, left no means untried in the interval to save her child. She
first went round to all the most influential persons of her own
persuasion, imploring their assistance and begging them to petition the
Sultan for her daughter's liberty. The Jews, on occasions of this kind
when the integrity of their faith is menaced, always hold together for
mutual protection, and are not sparing of money or exertion to prevent
such precedents being established. The present outrage had caused a
great sensation, and a large sum of money was at once collected with
which to present themselves before the Sultan, and intercede for the
liberation of Azora. Under any other circumstances, this would have
succeeded, even had there been any truth in the accusation; but as the
case now stood, it ultimately proved abortive.

The poor mother now repented the rashness of her language towards
Abdslem; and the reason that worthy did not notice it was, that he
foresaw she would be driven to the necessity of purchasing his
friendship, or buying him off; he also meditated extorting money from
the Jews for the same purpose, and his avarice had chiefly prompted him
to make use of Hassan's passion to induce him to become Azora's accuser.
Rachel, prepared to submit to any humiliation which would help to save
her child, took her way in the afternoon through a retired part of the
town to Abdslem's lodging. He was sitting in a small white-washed room
on a smaller carpet, the only furniture was a mattress on the floor, and
a copper ewer and basin; his gun, saddle, and sword, occupied a corner.
Smoking his pipe of hashish he was ruminating on the golden harvest he
should reap, from the traitorous connexion he had established with
certain Sheiks of the Arab tribes, when Rachel entered.

"Welcome to the daughter of the infidel!" said he, with an inquisitive
look, as she gathered up her hayk and sat down at the threshold. "She
has repented of her curses. She might have been punished, but Abdslem is
soft-hearted; what of Azora?"

"'Tis that which has brought me to my lord's presence," said Rachel.
"When I uttered evil words against my lord, I spoke with the mouth of
fools, but my lord is kind and has forgiven it."

"God is merciful; that is past, my heart has been heavy for the evil
that has befallen your daughter. Why should I injure her? is she not a
houri? That renegade Hassan was the cause, that is--"

"My lord admits she was not guilty," said Rachel, catching at the hint
thus intentionally thrown out.

"God is great!--not exactly--but if I can help her, I will do it for the
love of God."

"What easier, my lord, than to proclaim her innocence?"

"And so lose my own head! Ah! the infidel's gratitude. Shall I perjure
myself and brave the Sultan? Is not Azora in his hareem? If I were not
so poor, I have friends at court, whom I might pay for their interest
and intercession. But without money--Moors are Jews--no better."

"You shall have gold," exclaimed Rachel, deceived by his apparent
feeling. "I have some hundred dollars; do for us what you can, and
blessings attend my lord. When and where shall I find you?"

"An hour after evening prayer, I shall be here," said he, scarcely able
to conceal his satisfaction. "It shall be a sacred trust, and may it be
the means of serving your cause."

Rachel's heart was too full for utterance, she kissed the hem of his
dress, and rose to depart, when the door was thrown rudely open, and Abd
el Aziz unceremoniously entered, without the usual "Peace be with you!"
(It is the height of impropriety for a Moor to enter another's house
uninvited.)

"So, you are Abdslem Ibn Hadj," said he.

"But whose dog's son are you," cried Abdslem, springing up and laying
his hand on his gun, "that dare to break in on the sanctity of my
dwelling?"

"You shall presently repent of your abuse, O son of a black slave! but
now I advise you, to make your hand and gun more distant relations if
you care for your head; which is likely soon to ornament the Bab el
Kasba, by the side of a friend of yours. Do you know _that_?"

"The Sultan's seal!" exclaimed the astonished Jewess, while Abdslem
started back terror-struck; his dark cheek blanched and his thick lip
quivered as he saw the near punishment of the crimes of which his
conscience accused him; and when Abd el Aziz, satisfied with the
impression he had produced, ordered him to follow, he obeyed almost
unconsciously. In the street he was seized by the soldiers who were in
waiting and dragged to prison, and until he should be finally disposed
of the following temporary punishment was inflicted on him. His hands
were filled with quicklime and salt, and then sewn up in raw hide,
which, as it dries, binds the hand like a vice, while the caustic
contents eat into the flesh and cause the most excruciating pain. He was
then heavily ironed and thrown into a damp dark cell, where we will
leave him to meditate on his misdeeds, while we accompany Yusuf to the
Desert.



CHAPTER VI.

THE SAHARA.


From the inquiries he had made, Yusuf learnt that the Sheik of the Woled
Abou Sebah was encamped on the borders of the Sahara, between the
provinces of Suse and Draha. He had, consequently, taken a course
through the mountains south of Marocco, where they begin to fall in
lower ranges, towards the sea-coast. The inhabitants of this country are
Berebbers, living in small villages, among whom he had been in the habit
of travelling on trade; and as they were under the Sultan's government,
there was little danger to be apprehended. After three days' travelling,
almost day and night, he found himself on the south of the mountains.
There were no more fixed villages. The few inhabitants of this
wilderness, in which vegetation was rapidly disappearing as he advanced,
were living in tents where wells of water were to be found. Resting at
one of these stations, he had to make up his mind as to his onward
course. The sum of his intelligence was, that the Sheik's camp was a day
and a half journey in the Desert to the south-east; and that a large
caravan from the north was hourly expected on its way across the Desert
to Timbuctoo. His object was to join this caravan, which he had hoped to
have fallen in with before; and as they usually pay blackmail to the
Arabs, when they are allowed to pass unharmed, he knew he should thus
have no difficulty in obtaining their guidance to their Sheik.

From these poor peasants he could not obtain a guide, and he dared not
offer them money, which he knew was a certain inducement for them to
strip and perhaps kill him. His mule, too, was showing signs of fatigue,
from the rapid and unaccustomed journey. At daylight, after taking the
most minute directions from his host for striking the track of the
caravan, he set off with a stout heart, his mule ambling from four to
five miles an hour; and while the sun was yet far from noon, he found
himself launched on that inland sea which stretches with little
interruption from the Atlas to the Niger. With some of the instinct of
the Arab, he guided himself by the aid of rising grounds, sand-hills,
and indications left by bleached bones, sun-dried manure, and some
rocks, keeping a straight course by the sun; but his heart sunk as the
afternoon wore on, and no signs appeared of the desired tracks. Had the
caravan not passed? or had it passed, and the wind swept the sand over
its track and effaced it? He could travel on, but what probability of
discovering the road, in such a waste? He might travel another day, and
be able to return with safety, if unsuccessful; but then to lose the
object of his journey, death were better.

He dismounted and sat down to think. The western sun threw the shadow of
his mule far from him, and despair began to creep over his spirits.
Hark! was that a shout? His heart bounded at a human voice in such a
place, whether of friend or foe; it was welcome. He sprang up, and
scanned the horizon. Another long, clear call, and at a distance of
three-quarters of a mile he perceived some large fragments of rock,
which he had not before noticed; on their highest point, and partly
relieved against the sky, stood a dark figure, waving a cloth with one
hand, with what seemed to be a gun in the other. If there had been
danger, there was no escape; but Yusuf, accustomed to place confidence
in these people, joyfully mounted his mule, and hastened to the spot.

The Desert Arabs, to whom I would now introduce the reader, are quite a
different race from the Moors, and have little in common with the Arab
population of the Maroqueen provinces. The latter have occupied these
countries, on occasions of depopulation from plague, have adopted a
settled life, and become partially identified in manners and dress with
the people who surround them. The Arabs of the Sahara retain their
distinguishing characteristics.

Their dress is a blue tunic of India long cloth confined at the waist by
a leather belt; besides swords and dirks, they carry double-barrelled
guns, which come to them from the French settlements in Senegal. The
complexions of the men are swarthy; their features are regular and
strongly marked; they wear their hair in short curls, and the beard is
usually short. They are decidedly a handsome race, and the beauty of the
women is proverbial in the adjoining countries, "Dim el Arb" (Arab
blood) being a common expression for female loveliness. They are
brunettes, but their dark eyes and resplendent teeth are unrivalled.
Their living is frugal--dates, barley-meal, milk, and cheese: flesh is
used sparingly, though a sheep is always killed when a guest is to be
entertained; the flesh of the gazelle and the ostrich, as well as that
of the camel and sheep, is cut in strips, and dried in the sun for
household supply.

When Yusuf came up, he found four Arabs sitting under the shadow of the
rock, regaling themselves on dates and barley-cakes, spread on a piece
of old garment on the sand, by the side of which was a small goat-skin
of water. They were on an ostrich-hunt. Their guns were leaning against
the rocks, and their horses picketed behind them. These horses were what
an Englishman would call "bags of bones;" but they had magnificent
points, were as hard as iron, and had eyes like lamps.

Yusuf immediately took his place in their circle with the salutation of
"Peace!" This at once enlisted their good-will.

"Peace: behold the Jew: he hath put trust in us; he hath no fear."

"The children of the Sahel do not injure their guests; I have travelled
since morning fasting; hunger will make the fawn brave."

"God's protection is over you," said another.

"Eat!--behold the food God provides is before you."

Yusuf looked round at them and at their slender store of provisions.

"You are four," he said; "your hunting may be prolonged; before the
setting of to-morrow's sun you may be in more want of it than I. Direct
me on my way; hunger can be borne."

"Art thou not an infidel?" said a third. "Hast thou no trust in God?
Cannot God, who has sent us to your assistance, likewise provide us with
food when we are in need of it? Eat. O Jew! eat. He who breaks not bread
with the Arab is not the Arab's friend."

"Bismillah!" said Yusuf, at this conclusive argument, joining at once in
their hard fare. He then asked, "Has the Soudan Cafila passed, or is it
expected? and am I far from its track?"

"We have just left the track," said the Arab, who had last spoken; "the
Cafila was to reach the last halting-place"--here he pointed
north--"last night. They will rest at mid-day, and should soon be here.
But, O Jew! have you goods in the Cafila? Behold, we have broken bread
together; take your camels and return, for danger is before you. The
Sheik of the Sebaïe is at war with the Sultan. Lo, you are warned; our
faith is clean."

"Your bread is sacred; hear the truth; I have no goods nor camels; I go
to seek the tents of the Sheik himself, and only accompany the Cafila
until I can procure a guide thither."

"If so, you have started in a fortunate hour. I will direct you; when
you come to the second well in the desert,--should nothing happen
before, for we know not what is written,--ask any Arab to guide you to
the Chief, for he is not far thence. Be cautious, though you have
nothing to lose--you travel with merchants. Remember the proverb, 'If
you put your head in bran, the fowls will peck it.' Lo! I see the Cafila
approaching."

Yusuf turned his eyes in the direction where the smooth desert was
broken into low sand-hills, among which the long train was seen slowly
winding onwards, and, although at a great distance, the loaded camels
and their drivers could be seen, magnified by the evening mirage, like
gaunt spectres against the horizon.

"May you be rewarded, friend," said Yusuf; "I am warned; but the infidel
puts his trust in God."

The Arabs smiled as Yusuf remounted, and with salutations of Peace, he
rode off; and before it was dark had joined the Cafila.

These caravans are composed of traders, who periodically assemble to
traverse the Desert in company for mutual protection. They sometimes
take guards, but their chief security is in the tribute they pay to the
Arab tribes through which they pass. They carry manufactured goods and
wares to Soudan and Timbuctoo, bringing back in exchange ivory,
gold-dust, ostrich feathers, gums, and slaves. They number from five
hundred to a thousand camels. These large caravans are called _Akaba_. I
use the word Cafila as a more familiar term, and as applied to a smaller
expedition. The persons composing the present one not having yet
experienced much of the hardship of Desert travelling, were in great
spirits. The camel-drivers and muleteers were singing and chanting
verses of Arabic songs, improvised or from memory, which were answered
by others more or less wittily, and drawing shouts of laughter from all
within hearing. The singing encourages the camels to quicken their pace,
and contributes to the gaiety, by the measured time of their bells.

About twenty horsemen had escorted the Cafila hitherto, but were to
leave them a couple of stages further, as it is only horses trained to
it from colts that can live on the Desert. Others were discussing the
rumours of war between the Sultan and the Chief of the Arab tribes,
which had excited in them the greatest alarm.

"By the tomb of Mulai Idris," said a little rotund fat Moor from Fez,
with a florid complexion and long white beard, which his fingers were
continually combing; and mounted on a tall ambling mule. "By the tomb of
Idris (may his sanctity be increased!) if I had heard this news before,
I would have sacrificed all the gain on these camel-loads before I would
have left my shop in the Kaisaria, and then, perhaps, to lose our life
also, by the hands of these blood-thirsty Arabs; who knows what is
written, Allaw Kereem?" and the little man's hands kept time with his
increased agitation.

"In the name of the Prophet, uncle Mohammed," exclaimed a Marocco
horseman, with a long gun across the pommel of his saddle, "you cry out
before you are hurt. You are rich; I am a beggar; but are we not strong
enough to send a whole tribe of these Arabs (the curse of Mohammed upon
them!) to their fathers' graves, if they can find them in this sea,
where you may lose sight of a camel for an hour, and not find him in a
month?" And laughing at his own bald wit, he turned to another horseman,
who, from his northern accent and striped djilabea, the hood of which
was drawn over his head, seemed to be from the neighbourhood of Tetuan;
he was mounted on a raw-boned horse, like those of the ostrich-hunters,
and was at the time loading his gun.

"What say you, friend? You seem prepared for work, but I trust there is
no cause for fear."

The other looked up sharply at the speaker from under his hood, and went
on with his occupation, saying,--

"He that despises his enemy is not wise; he that reviles a people in
their own country is not wise; for sands as well as walls may have ears.
I cannot talk,--when time serves, I may act. Danger there is, but as for
cause of fear,"--and he once more looked at his companion's face, which
had waxed paler--"it does not seem required in your case."

The horseman, whose name was Mohammed, galled by the reproof, but not
daring to resent it, drove his spurs into his horse, which plunged
forward and brought him in contact with the mule's load, a projecting
part of which caught the folds of his dress, causing a large rent, and
exposing a belt he wore next his person. This did not escape the other's
quick eye, though he appeared to take no notice. The moon was a few days
old, but the light of a clear, starry sky was sufficient on these white
plains, and they travelled on until midnight, when they arrived at some
wells, and halted. These wells were of a great depth, and the water was
drawn from them in small leathern buckets, and poured into a stone
trough, the exhausted camels biting, kicking, and pushing, in their
eagerness to reach the coveted fluid. As the camels were watered, their
fore knees were tied up, to prevent them straying, and they were turned
loose to graze, on what few thorny plants they could find, while the men
rolled themselves in their hayks, and were soon asleep, undisturbed by
the roaring of camels, the shouts of the drivers, and the confusion
which lasted for hours.

At daylight the march was resumed, but the party seemed to have lost
their spirits; the song was hushed, and nothing was heard but the
vociferations of the drivers, urging on their beasts, while the
merchants plodded on silently, their heads enveloped in burnooses and
large turbans, as a protection against the sun. About noon they came to
a firmer soil, and the guides gave notice that they were approaching the
halting-place, while the spirits of all were exhilarated by the prospect
of reaching rest and water. Yusuf remembered the warning of the Arab,
indicating these wells as the place of danger. About an hour's ride
ahead, they could see masses of rock and brushwood on the plain, and
when about a mile from this, the man on the spare horse rode forward to
borrow a flint to put in his gun; and, whether by accident or design, it
went off. A movement was now seen among the rocks, and spears and
shining gun-barrels protruding above them, showed the place to be
occupied.

"We are betrayed!" ran from mouth to mouth; "A signal!" "Down with the
Kafir!" and they surrounded the horseman who had fired the shot. He
remonstrated against their quarrelling amongst themselves, but was only
met with cries of "Down with him!" "Drag him off his horse!" when,
seeing they were determined on violence, he suddenly stripped off his
striped cloak and turban, hurling them, with the gun he had fired, far
away with his right hand, while his left held his bridle and a short
double gun; his blue frock showed him to be an Arab.

"Back, slaves!" he shouted, in a voice of thunder; "I am Ali the
Falcon!" and a smile of scorn was on his face, as the crowd recoiled
before him, "let wisdom be with you. You thought _me_ in _your_
power--you are in mine--resistance is useless, offer none, and I pledge
my word that you shall all return unharmed in person; the word of Ali el
Bezz is sacred. Resist, or draw blood,--and may the curse cleave to my
father's tents if every soul of this company shall not die this day!"

The crowd were panic-struck; some knew him, and all had heard of his
daring deeds and wonderful escapes. The majority, who had not much to
lose, were content to save their skins, but the rich merchants were loth
to lose their all without a struggle, but were feebly seconded by the
soldiers. At this critical moment, a band of thirty or forty horsemen,
breaking the silence of the Desert with their united war-cry, "Allaw hu
ackbaār!" their guns poised above their heads, rushed down at full
speed, through a cloud of dust, on the affrighted travellers, while Ali,
overlooked in the confusion, galloped out of the throng, and joined his
band, who, seeing no appearance of resistance, had come to a halt.

"You should be more cautious," said Ali to his lieutenant; "not show
your teeth before you can bite. You nearly sent me to heaven across the
edge of a knife."

"It was not a fortunate hour, and you have escaped the houris! To keep
these fellows quiet when plunder is in view, were to keep fire in a
goat-skin. But, by the Prophet, we may lose our prize yet."

The score of horsemen belonging to the Cafila had ranged themselves in
front, thinking, by a show of resistance, to intimidate the Arabs, and
make terms; but these, with Ali at their head, immediately dashed
forward, standing erect in their stirrups, ready to pour in a volley,
but the Moors, seeing their determination, at once turned their horses'
heads and fled.

"Shame upon them!" said Ali; "they are soldiers--they are Moslem--they
abandon their trust without a blow. Yes! slaves are cowards! Will they
not tremble when Sheik Hamed rides to the gates of Marocco? Now mark! my
word is passed for their safety, on submission. I have other game
afoot." And putting his horse to speed, he disappeared across the plain
in the direction of the flying horsemen.

The Arabs, meeting with no resistance, dismounted, and proceeded to
secure their plunder, stationing half-a-dozen pickets to prevent a
surprise. The Moors and camel-drivers were stripped of everything that
was of value, and the camels with merchandise were collected and made to
kneel down by themselves. The Arab left in command galloped about
superintending the disposal of the spoil, recommending submission and
promising protection.

The old Fez Moor, finding that no one was killed, consoled himself in
his fatalism, ejaculating as he was stripped,--

"It is written! God is great! It is written!"

Others, seeing the robbers were so forbearing, were less patient, but
for these a hand on the dagger was an unanswerable argument.

Yusuf had been a patient spectator of the scenes which had been enacted,
but it now came to his turn, and one of the robbers approached to strip
him.

"Friend," said he, "offer me no violence. I am under the protection of
your Sheik Sidi Hamed Ibn Ishem. My journey is to meet him. In his name,
forbear."

"Infidel dog!" said the robber, "this trick shall not save your gold;
you would give a drop of blood for every copper rather than part with
it. You know the reward of resistance;" and he seized the defenceless
Jew.

"Stop," said another, "we may repent, if the infidel speak truth. Jew,"
said he to Yusuf, "you come alone; have you no token?"

"I have," said he, "but it is as my life; take me to your leader."

They led the way to where the Arab was resting among the bales, with his
bridle in his hand.

"I have claimed the sanctuary of the great Sheik," said Yusuf; "it has
been refused me. A token has been demanded of me; lo, there it is."

He took the packet from his vest, and uncovering the velvet pouch, gave
it to the Arab; the man, seeing the cypher of the Sheik, immediately
kissed it, put it to his forehead, and returned it to Yusuf.

"It is enough," he said; "he is our brother; give him the best mule in
the Cafila, and whatever he desires. Behold! he is under the shadow of
the tent of Sidi Hamed."

The news ran from mouth to mouth, and there was nothing now they were
not anxious to do to serve the Sheik's guest, and his newly-acquired
influence was used to intercede for some of the merchants, when he saw
them too hardly used.

"Hast thou not bitten off thy tongue?" said the robber to the other who
had assaulted Yusuf, "better for thee, than to have reviled the Sheik's
guest--the unbeliever has a big heart, make your peace."

"I am in the hands of God, Astofer Allaw," said the other.



CHAPTER VII.

THE SHEIK OF THE LION TRIBES.


Ali, who was the Sheik of the douar that had plundered the Cafila; and
had gone in pursuit of the flying soldiers; soon discovered Mohammed,
all alone, and urging on his fatigued horse, which had no chance of
escape from the enduring animal ridden by the Arab, whose object was,
not to injure the soldier, but to secure the belt he wore round his
person; so that, when within fifty yards of the chase, he called out to
him to stop at his peril, promising quarter on submission.

Mohammed, recognising his travelling companion, and not daring to trust
him after what he had said, checked his labouring horse, and, turning
round in his saddle, levelled his long gun and fired, but with uncertain
aim. The Arab muttered a deep curse as his horse fell under him, and,
springing to his feet before the Moor could recover his speed, he had
fired with a firm footing. Mohammed reeled in his saddle, his gun and
reins dropped from his weakened grasp, he snatched at the pommel, and
rolled over on the sand. The horse, missing his rider, stopped short,
and stood foam-covered and panting with fatigue.

Ali, seeing his enemy fall, turned to his own horse, and a short
examination showed that he would not rise again. The ball had struck his
shoulder, and glanced inwards. The Arab sat down opposite his favourite,
and buried his face in his hands; he thought of the many years he had
stood at his tent, and the many perils from which he had saved him. He
might have another, he might get a better, but it would not be the same.
The wounded animal raised his head, in a weak effort to take a last look
at his master, while large tears rolled from his bright eyes down his
face.

"Poor Gazelle! O my child--you want but speech. God is great! It is
written!--we must part!" and he retired a few paces to witness the end
of his favourite. The expiring horse made a sudden plunge to regain his
feet, but fell back powerless, his bright eye filmed, a convulsive
struggle came over his frame, he groaned heavily, and died.

"You are avenged," said Ali, as he walked slowly to where Mohammed was
lying; "for you, your doom was just. God is great!--his curse has fallen
on his own head; his money has cost him his life,--and never will _his_
children find their father's grave."

He unfastened the belt which the Moor wore under his clothes, and he
found it was padded with doubloons and bintekee; he also stripped him of
the principal part of his clothing; burnoose, caftan, and turban being
of no use to one whose bones would bleach the desert till the judgment;
and throwing the things across the Moor's jaded horse, he took a last
look at his faithful companion, and returned with a heavy heart to
rejoin his band, an additional pang going through him as the dark
shadows of the vultures, descending from the blue vault, passed and
repassed him, sharply defined by the sunlight on the white plain. The
camels had been all reloaded, ready to start, escorted by the Arab
horsemen. The plundered merchants, with a few sorry animals which were
restored to them, and with sufficient provisions to serve them on their
return, were left to retrace their steps to Marocco. The night was now
setting in, and the band, accompanied by Yusuf, who was mounted on the
tall mule that had belonged to the little Fez Moor, struck across the
desert, travelling by the light of the stars, with an occasional rest,
till morning; and as the sun rose, clear and warm, above the level of
the horizon, they came in sight of the head-quarters of the Arab Chief,
situated in a sort of depression of the ground. This spot was called
_Ain El Khmmis_, from five wells, which afforded an invaluable supply of
water. Myriads of black goats'-hair tents covered the plain, pitched in
circles, or hollow squares of thirty or sixty tents, under their
different Sheiks. Horses were picketed before every tent; camels were
kneeling in rows, or straggling in search of stray vegetation, or
browsing on the shoots of the stunted absinth and thorny shrubs that
studded the plain. As the band approached this city of tents, the Arabs
were at their morning prayers, and the sound of the chant, from such a
multitude of voices, had an imposing effect, as it rose in the distance.
By the time they arrived, all had betaken themselves to their
occupations, some driving their flocks to pasture, some tending their
horses--few giving more than a passing glance and a "Salamo Allikoom,"
to the advancing party. It was a strange contrast to the scene presented
by the encampments of the Moorish soldiery;--there, all is confusion,
and nothing heard from morn till night but music, singing, and
revelling, mingled with the constant discharge of fire-arms. _Here_, all
was order, their tents being their homes; every one had his occupation,
while in and around the tents the women were employed grinding corn,
spinning wool, weaving hayks in hand-looms, &c. It is the difference
between a tent as a home, and a tent as an amusement. In the midst of
the camp were pitched the tents of the Chief, marked by a large green
silk banner; they were placed in two concentric circles, the inner one
entirely private. In the outer circle, one large tent towards the East,
and the only one that opened outwards, was set apart for audiences, for
guests, for meeting the Sheiks on business, and disposing of disputes
and causes among his people. The dialect of Arabic, spoken in the
desert, is remarkable for its deep guttural intonation; that of Marocco
for its softness.

Sidi Hamed Ibn Ishem was sitting in this large tent, which was only
furnished with a few mat cushions, but spread with carpets, when Ali and
his band arrived. He wore the same dress as his people, his patriarchal
authority requiring no external mark of distinction. He was a fine model
of masculine beauty, tall and symmetrically made, but spare, and with
feminine-looking hands and feet. His hair clustered round his head in
short, glossy curls, and his whiskers and moustache terminated in a
short, wavy beard. His features were aquiline; his head not large, but
would have served as a model for an Æneas. His countenance and eye
showed firmness and severity tempered by benevolence and generosity,
which commanded confidence and inspired sympathy. He was surrounded by
the principal Sheiks, when Ali halted his men, and went in to make his
report. The Sheik rose, and their salutation was as of two friends and
equals, kissing each other's hands and heads.

"Welcome, O Sheik! Is all well?"

"God has blessed us, Ya Sidi; all is well!"

"Praise be to Him! Why does the Sheik ride another horse? Where is
Gazelle? You would not part with him alive?"

"My lord has said:--he lies low on the Sahel. The vulture and hyena are
feasting on my beautiful, he fell not unavenged, the hand that smote him
lies cold by his side on the plain: God's will be done! Must not death
come to all?"

"My heart is straitened for your loss: is it not that of a friend? It
was written, O Sheik! But what--are there not horses in our tents? We
will find you another."

"May God enlarge my lord's tent, who soothes the wounds of his servants
as with the balm of Mecca. This makes me not feel my loss."

"Are we not friends? Are we not brothers, children of Ishmael? What is
mine is my brother's."

The business of the caravan having been disposed of, Ali informed him
that a Jew had been taken travelling with the Cafila, and was waiting
without to be introduced, he had not been injured, as he held a token
from the Chief, and claimed his protection. Dismissing his companions,
the Chief retired to a private tent, where Yusuf was conducted to his
presence. And the son of Isaac bowed down and kissed the earth before
the son of Ishmael, the lord of the desert.

"In the name of God, peace; and his blessing upon my lord, the Sheik,
and upon his tents."

"Peace, O my friend!" said the Sheik, in a tone of encouragement.
"Speak; you are fasting and fatigued. Speak--are we not alone?"

"The journey I have travelled to see my lord's face has been long, but
it did not make me faint; thy servant is crushed with the sorrow that
has preyed on his heart. Does my lord remember his servant Rabbi
Shallum?"

"Can I forget him? God has taken him. Behold that horse," pointing to a
noble black charger, picketed in front of the tent. "Did he not ransom
his sire? and did he not aid me to escape from the hands of my enemies?
and shall I not remember him? Has any evil befallen his house?"

"Alas! my lord, that is my errand: and that I speak truth, behold the
token my lord gave into his hands. The hour of need is come."

And he presented the pouch, which the Sheik immediately recognised.
Yusuf then related the history of Azora's arrest and danger, and that he
had since heard that she had been removed to the Sultan's hareem. "And
now, O my lord," he said, "if you will assist the child of your friend,
her peril is pressing, and delay is death."

"Have I not given a pledge? and shall it not be redeemed? If it is in
the power of my hand, she shall not perish, if it please God. This shall
be attended to before all. Go now and refresh thyself. We will speak on
this matter."

Yusuf hesitated in doubt. "O my lord, forgive my speech. God be praised
for your promise of help. But doubts arise in my mind. We are Jews--we
are despised, my lord is of a high race, and of a great heart; but will
his servants among the tribes approve of his assisting us; and may not
policy compel my lord to disappoint our hopes? Let not my words offend."

"You are forgiven: for thus do the people of the city act. But know that
an Arab's Pledge is irrevocable. Who," said he, rising, while his face
beamed with generous feeling, "who was it that rescued me and returned
my father's son to his tents?--A Hebrew! Who restored the chief to his
people?--A Hebrew! Who ransomed thy sire, my noble steed, from the
galling yoke of an hireling?--A Hebrew! And who saved me from death, and
from loss of liberty worse than death, and gave me once more to see the
dark tents of my tribe, and to feel my heart again expand in the
freedom of my dear native plains? All this weight of benefit was
conferred on me by a Hebrew! Did he allow me to perish because I was of
another faith? Did he forsake me in peril because I was a Moslem? No! We
had this faith in common,--God is the God of nations. Let every man
cleave to his own form that he has received from his fathers; but do
good to all, like God's rain; and never abandon a son of Adam in
distress, because he worships his God in a different manner from
himself. And shall the Arab be shamed by the Hebrew? Shall Hamed Ibn
Ishem remain in quiet enjoyment of all that the Hebrew's hand has
restored, whilst his child lies in peril, and not arise to save her? Go,
my friend, our tents are yours. Think better of the son of Ishem, and
believe that he never gave a pledge, which, with the help of God, he
will not, at whatever peril, to the uttermost redeem."

Yusuf, though his habits and pursuits had given him a practical turn of
mind, could not help gazing with admiration at the noble form before
him, draped in his falling hayk, his action giving emphasis to his
generous speech; and he thought that such a man might have been Abraham,
when greeting the angels at the door of his tent.

"May the blessing of the God of our father Abraham be upon you!" said
he; and kissing the Sheik's hand he retired to the tent allotted to him,
to rest after his long fatigues, and offer up his thanksgiving for the
success of his mission.

Ali having disposed of the booty of the Cafila, repaired to his own
camp.

"God be praised for your return," said his wife, who flew to embrace
him, "how often are you absent now, O my lord, and I am left desolate in
the tent!"

She was a type of Arab loveliness, was Zaïda; the bright crimson shone
through her tinted, but transparent cheeks, her hair fell, a waving
veil, over her shoulders, and her large eyes were turned inquiringly in
his face. He returned her embrace, and then releasing himself from her
soft arms, he sat down sorrowfully on the carpet, and threw down the
soldier's belt.

"It is the will of God," he said; "there is gold, accursed be it, it has
cost me my friend--Gazelle is dead!"

"Dead!" echoed Zaïda, and the beautiful creature again threw herself
into her husband's arms, and wept on his bosom; she grieved for his
loss, she grieved for her own; but she grieved more for what he had
suffered. Her grief gave a new turn to his thoughts.

"Be consoled, my darling," he said, caressing her, and wiping away her
tears. "God has given and God has taken; but have I not you? Have I not
many blessings? Why do I complain? The gold will buy another horse;
but--it will be another. Where is my boy? Where is Ishmael?"

"He went out early," she said, "but his return cannot be delayed: I see
him coming even now."

A fine lad of twelve or fourteen now came up, holding a gun in one hand,
and with the other leading a large tawny greyhound, whose sedate
physiognomy contrasted with the bright, joyous face of the young Arab,
as he ran to meet his father. He paused a minute as he passed the spot
where the soldier's horse was tethered, and then embraced his father.

"My heart is joyful that you have returned in peace," said he, "but--"
and he turned an inquiring and pained look towards the place whence he
missed his loved companion.

"Yes, my boy," said Ali, "a stranger stands in the place of your friend,
you will see Gazelle no more--he fell in a fray by the hand of an
enemy."

"Gone for ever!" cried Ishmael: large tears rose to his eyes, which he
could not control, and dashing down the stock of his gun, with childish
wrath: "would that I had here the base-born that did the deed, even this
tent should not protect him from vengeance!"

"Be silent, boy! you know not what you say. You are young. But learn
that the sanctuary of this tent should protect even the murderer of thy
father! But here, put away these things," giving him his sword, gun, and
accoutrements.

Ishmael felt the justice of his father's reproof; but his young mind
thought it a great hardship to forego a just revenge. Having put away
the arms in a corner of the tent, he and his father joined in the meal
which had been waiting, and was now sent out from the inner tent. By the
time they had finished, an Arab was seen approaching, leading a fine
iron-grey horse, completely equipped, and they went out to meet him.

"Sidi Hamed," said the Arab, "has sent you this horse to replace the one
you have lost, and my lord desires you to be in readiness to mount in a
few hours for a long journey."

"Tell the Sheik," said Ali, "that I am grateful for his gift. Is not my
life at his service? Say I will await his orders."

The horse having been consigned to an attendant, "Go," said he to his
son, "and tell your mother what you have heard--I cannot!"



CHAPTER VIII.

THE SULTAN.


On the day succeeding the hunting party, the Sultan, having taken his
place in his audience-hall, with his secretaries and officials in
attendance, directed Abd el Aziz to have the executioners in readiness;
and then ordered Abdslem to be brought before him. He was accordingly
brought in heavily ironed, from the prison where he had lain all night.
The pain from the treatment his hands had undergone was becoming
excruciating; but he forced his features to assume an expression of
composure; which was undisturbed by the preparations he saw making by
the executioner as he passed; and on which he depended for his success
in escaping from punishment. As soon as he had been forced to bow down
before the Sultan, and was allowed to stand, and before waiting for the
usual permission to speak: "May our lord's life be prolonged. Is this,"
said he, lifting up his tortured hands in chains, "is this the reward of
loyalty? Shall the breath of private slander deprive my lord of his most
devoted slaves? Where are my accusers? What is my crime?" and he looked
boldly round on the audience.

The Sultan being in possession of such glaring evidence of his guilt,
was somewhat astonished at his assurance. "What mockery is this?" said
he. "Is the slave mad? Read out this letter, that he and all may know
that he dies with justice."

The Taleb, to whom the letter had been handed, opened the scroll, and
read as follows:--

"In the name of the One God, the Merciful, peace and his blessing. To
our friend Sidi Abdslem Ibn el Hadj, Marockshee. We have received and
considered the words that you have sent us, requiring money to seduce
the soldiers of your master the Sultan; time shall not be prolonged
before you will be met by a faithful messenger: exert yourself, be
faithful, and be assured of our friendship. Peace. This ---- day of
Moharram, 1248." Attached was the seal of the Sheik of the Sebaïe.

A thrill ran through the assembly, as they listened to the perusal of
this flagrant proof of guilt, and felt that his days were numbered. The
Sultan had watched the prisoner's countenance, which did not appear to
be disturbed by any conviction of guilt, but rather assumed an air of
greater self-complacency.

"And is that, my lord," said he, "the crime that is laid to your slave's
charge? Alas! for the dream of the seller of earthenware! On that letter
I had built a vision of rewards and honours from the Khalifa, and behold
what has befallen me! Let my lord slay me, if so it is written; but let
my lord hear me alone--and your servant's innocence will be white, and
my lord will hear matters of importance."

The Sultan was staggered; Abdslem had maintained his part with such
coolness and confidence that the Sultan's curiosity was excited, though
he never supposed he could explain away such convincing evidence.
Fettered as he was he was harmless; and on a motion from the Sultan, the
secretaries, officials, all, withdrew out of hearing, to the lower end
of the hall, and Abdslem, kneeling at the border of the Sultan's carpet,
on a motion to speak, proceeded as follows:--

"May my lord live for ever! It is now two months ago, that ever watchful
to frustrate the designs of my lord's enemies, I noticed a trader, a man
of suspicion, mixing with the soldiers; determined to know his object, I
put myself in his way, and drew him into talk. I will not repeat his
blasphemy against your highness, exalted of God; but pretending to be
deceived, I lured him on, until he had the audacity to propose to me, on
the part of an Arab Sheik, to corrupt my lord's servants from their
allegiance, promising me rewards. I was immediately inspired with the
design of entrapping the rebel Sheik, and placing him in my lord's
power. I wrote a letter, to which that now read is an answer, and to
ensure his coming, I asked for money, which he would either bring
himself, or come with promises instead, for Arabs like not to part with
their gold. The miscarriage of his letter has frustrated my plan, and,
but for my lord's forbearance, must ere this have cost me my life. As it
is, I have suffered; but it is in my lord's service. God is great! It
was written."

This clever explanation of the affair, in which he appeared to be so
seriously compromised, had gradually changed the Sultan's feelings
towards him; but he remained for some minutes with his brows knit, his
beard resting in his hand, and his eyes fixed on the prisoner's face, as
though he would read his heart. "God is merciful," he said, at length.
"This may be true, the All-knowing knows. Yes: you shall prove its
truth. The Sheik will not know that his letter fell into our hands,--his
messenger will come,--you will bring him before us. Thus shall you prove
your truth. You are free! Guards there!" and half-a-dozen soldiers
rushed in, expecting orders to drag Abdslem to his fate. "Knock off his
fetters, and let his hands be released; he is free!"

Abdslem prostrated himself and kissed the earth, he was then led out by
the soldiers, invoking blessings on the Sultan's clemency.

The Wezeer and secretaries now resumed their seats.

"I have intelligence from Algiers, O my lord," said the Wezeer.

"Speak, O Hadjie," said the Sultan.

"There has been a battle near Oujda on our borders, and the Emir Abd el
Kader has beaten the infidels."

"May the infidels be accursed!" said the Sultan.

"The Ameer has sent a white female slave for the Sultan's hareem."

"The slave will be welcome," said the Sultan.

"God is great!" said the Wezeer, "but as my lord can see, the object of
the Ameer is to embroil the Sultan with the French, and compel us to be
his allies."

"Are we Algerines and sons of Othman that we should fear the infidels?"
said the Sultan; "send a letter of thanks to the Ameer, and a present of
steeds with embroidered trappings."

"My lord's will shall be obeyed," said the Wezeer. He then continued,
"The French are strong in ships, O Sultan! and Suerah will be attacked
by sea, and where will be my lord's revenues from the merchants?
Moreover, the slave is not young, and has grey eyes, and red hair: by
the side of the houris of Mequinez, she is an Afreet!"

"Let her be sent back!" exclaimed the Sultan: "why should we quarrel
with the Francese? They can stop our commerce on the sea. Who is Abd el
Kader that we should fight for him? Is he not a Berebber of the Kabyles?
Send orders, O Wezeer, to the Kaïd of Oujda to resist any violation of
our frontier."

"The Khalifa shall be obeyed," said the astute Wezeer.

He then took up another letter. "Here, O my lord," he said, "is news
that war is about to break out between the Inglees and the Oroose; may
the Beneficent give us peace."

"O Wezeer," said the Sultan, "what is that to us? let the infidels
fight, what is that to the true believers? if the dog bite the pig, or
the pig bite the dog, what is that to us? Are we not Moslemeen?" And he
arose and broke up the audience.

Azora sat alone in a room in the women's apartments; it was furnished
with carpets, ottomans, and cushions. At one end, a glass door opened
into a garden, full of fruit-trees and flowers, but surrounded by high
walls. An old woman to whose charge she had been consigned had selected
the room for her, and treated her with every attention. Here, without
altering her dress, she had snatched an unrefreshing sleep. She had
received a communication from her mother,--for gold can open a Sultan's
hareem--enjoining on her to gain time, by procrastination, to further
the measures taken for her deliverance, and she naturally shrunk from
hurrying on her own fate, if delay might be obtained without a sacrifice
of principle. Her eyes were fixed on the walls of her prison, and she
was absorbed in deep and painful thought on her unfortunate position and
probable fate, when she was startled by the entrance of the Sultan. She
immediately arose and stood by the door of the garden, involuntarily,
from fear or humility, removing as far as possible from him.

"Have you an answer to my proposal, O light of my earth?" said he,
approaching her with a smile.

"Alas, my lord!" said Azora, clasping her hands, "is justice dead? is
there no condition of freedom but sinning against God, even the God of
my fathers?"

"Talk not to me of gods," said he, impatiently; "my religion does not
interfere with my pleasure; if it is to save you from danger, do not
your priests teach you that compulsion is not sin? But why, O my
beautiful, talk of sin?" he continued, in a winning tone. "Is it a crime
to love? Can your gentle eyes spurn a Sultan from your feet? Drive me
not to despair. Oh, if you would but adopt our holy faith, I, even I,
would be your champion; and where would be the slave that would dare to
think a thought to harm you? Oh, Azora! Azora! I have had no peace since
I saw you; you are the sultana, I am the slave,--the victim. Oh, look on
me at your feet, and have pity,--on yourself, on me!" He was on his
knee, with his left hand he held her right, which was cold as marble,
while the other was stretched out imploringly. There is no doubt he
loved her, as much as a man so incapable by habit of real love could do.
She was so different from the inmates of his hareem; many of these
doubtless had beauty, but it was the difference of human beings reared
in a torpid state of seclusion, and one who had been always free!--the
fascination of intellect. Azora would not have been woman, had she not
been deeply moved by this earnest appeal. To see him, before whom all
men trembled, a suppliant at her feet, it was a fearful trial for human
nature unaided. And she breathed an inward prayer for help. She dreaded
the storm which she saw gathering, but felt more courage to brave his
threats than his entreaties. Gently disengaging herself from his hands,
she said,--

"O my lord, tempt me not. Let not my lord kneel to his servant; threaten
me, torture me, but let not my lord talk of love. Do I not know the fate
of a favourite,--the plaything of a day; thrown by to pine in neglect
and solitude? And shall I not expect, and deserve, worse than these,--I,
a despised renegade, a traitoress to my faith, surrounded by jealous
enemies,--and forsaken by my God? No!" said she firmly, and looking up
to heaven, "rather let me die at once, than die a thousand deaths by
dragging out a degraded life of shame and remorse, to end in eternal
ruin."

And now the storm burst; his love spurned and his power braved, it is
not easy to describe the tumult of passion, the more fierce from being
seldom roused, that raged in the Sultan's breast, on hearing this
address. Love, revenge, fury, seized on him by turns, his emotions were
too intense for utterance, but shown by the terrific working of his
countenance; he bit his parched lip till the blood flowed, his eyes
flashed fire, from under his dark stormy brow, and his frame trembled as
if about to be overcome by a fit of insanity. While this hurricane
lasted, the life of Azora, who stood terror-struck, hung by a frail
thread. By a strong effort he gradually recovered his self-possession,
and when he spoke it was with frightful calmness; his face was deadly
pale as he turned to depart, "This, then, is your decision; you are
prepared for the consequences?"

In her resolve not to compromise her principles, Azora had forgotten the
necessity of obtaining delay; but having asserted these, she had now to
risk the rectification of this omission.

"O my lord! be not hasty," she said, "let me have time to consider;
perhaps--" but her voice faltered; "but--if I must--die--a few days or
weeks will be a short preparation for eternity!"

The Sultan stopped, and fixed his eyes on her changing countenance, in
which he thought he saw signs of her wavering, and his love prompted him
to delay while any hope remained. He replied in his former calm tone,
"Azora, I have granted your request; two weeks shall you have for
reflection. If at the end of that time you still spurn my love, by the
tomb of the Prophet! no power on earth shall save you."

He was gone. Azora remained gazing at the closed door; it was as a
dream, the time had been so short which had transported her from her
quiet home to be the inmate of a palace with her life in danger. Tears
came to her relief, and she sought to realise her position; she was not
left long, however, to indulge her grief, for soon after the Sultan's
departure, she was surrounded by the ladies of the hareem, who led her
away to their own rooms; and during the time that her fate was
undecided, she was treated with the greatest kindness, attired in costly
dresses, adorned with valuable jewels; and they endeavoured to amuse her
with music and tale-tellers, leaving nothing untried to turn her from
her purpose, and reduce her to their own state of captivity.



CHAPTER IX.

THE FALCON CAGED.


It was about eight days after the arrest of the Jewess that Hassan
mounted his horse and rode out of the town by the south gate. He rode
onwards, engrossed by his own bitter reflections, almost unconscious
that the moon had risen and that he was now far from the city. At the
time that he found his plans frustrated by Azora's appeal he was
overcome by rage and disappointment; as these feelings subsided, his
conscience upbraided him for his useless perjury, by which he had
brought Azora into imminent peril without in the slightest degree
promoting his own guilty plans; he was merely a jackal to a lion.

Having bitterly repented of his crime, his mind was now constantly
haunted with the dread of the consequent death to Azora, with which he
himself had threatened her. One image pictured on his mind seemed to
have effaced and taken the place of all others. A beautiful figure, on a
pyre, with the flames leaping around her, looked on him with a look of
reproachful agony! Sleeping or waking it was the same, wherever he
looked those sad eyes met his; there was no escape; he was becoming a
monomaniac. His life was lonely, the only other inmate of his home being
a little orphan sister of five years old, to whom he was much attached,
but who was hardly old enough as a companion to divert his mind; and at
night he was quite alone.

He now dismounted and sat down on a bank, under the trees. The evening
breeze brought to his ear the modulated murmurs of a neighbouring
rivulet; they sounded to him as the moan of suffering. The moon poured
her beams through the foliage of olive that overshadowed him, painting
the ground with a tracery of waving leafage, that seemed to him as
flames. The image faded for a time, as the silence of the night soothed
his harassed mind, and he felt himself more immediately in the presence
of God amid the calm scenes of nature. The lessons of childhood, and the
principles of youth, which had not been wholly extinguished, rose up to
accuse him; and overcome by shame and remorse, he leaned his head on his
clasped hands and wept bitterly, until his heart was seared and his eyes
were dry. Alas! man's tears harrow, but are no relief.

"Salemo Alikoom," said a clear voice near him; and remembering the
lateness of the hour he started to his feet.

"And on you peace," he returned to the stranger, who now stood by his
side. By the moonlight he could see that he was tall, with an aquiline
nose, and short black beard, and dressed in the slovenly hayk and
turban of a peasant. He had stopped to water his horse at the brook
which flowed at a short distance, and Hassan was so absorbed in his
reverie that he had approached him almost unperceived on the turf, and
had been a partial witness to his emotion.

"Peace to the believer!" said the stranger; "you sit here so quietly
enjoying the moonlight and the running water, that I suppose the town
gates are shut for the night. This is a good place to camp under the
sky, and we shall be better in each other's company. I am from Duquela,
and not knowing the country, I have rather lost my way." Saying which he
pulled a small carpet from his horse's saddle, and got out his hobbles
to tie up his horse.

"Not so fast," said Hassan, won by his frank address, "I knew not it was
so late; I do not sleep here when the town is so close. Certainly you
must have lost your way, for Duquela is to the north. But are there not
more ways of entering a town than by the gates?"

"By scaling the walls? You are a townsman, but if I were caught at that
I might shorten my shadow, from which God preserve me!"

"God forbid!" said Hassan; "but I like you--promise secrecy, and I will
show you a way in; I discovered it by accident."

"On the faith of a Moslim," said Ali el Bezz, for it was he; and
mounting their horses they rode on to the town. Ali had been despatched
by the Chief, to Marocco, to watch over the safety of Azora, and to act
as circumstances might require for her deliverance. He had received a
minute description of the Moors, her accusers, from Yusuf, and he felt
assured that one of them was now before him. This adventure promising
him an entrance into the town without passing the gates, he saw at once
would prove of immense advantage to him hereafter for purposes of
escape. If he was not yet satisfied of his companion's identity, it was
not long before he had evidence of the fact.

"What brings you to Marocco, O Moslim?" said Hassan as they rode side by
side.

Ali fixed his eyes on his face, on which the moon shone, and answered
indifferently,--

"I heard there was an infidel to be burnt for wishing to recant."

Hassan started, and turned round on the speaker, who had thus given a
wrench to the weapon that rankled in his wounded spirit, and who
appeared quite unconscious of the effect his words had produced as he
continued,--

"We heard the news in our province, and I came to see the sight. It will
be a grateful sacrifice to the Prophet. God is merciful! The Sultan is
too indulgent to the infidels."

"Woe to thee, O Moslim!" said Hassan in an excited tone. "Think you the
pangs and shrieks of a son of Adam in torture can be grateful to a
merciful God? Think you the diabolical spirit of the murderers can be
pleasing to a beneficent Creator? In the infancy of the faith the
Prophet's policy allowed this; now it is useless, barbarous! And this
is a woman! O God! O God!" And he pressed his hands to his eyes as
though the flames blasted them.

Ali gazed on him with unfeigned surprise; at first he thought he was
counterplotting to mislead him, but sincerity was too plainly marked on
his haggard face to admit of a doubt.

"From you, this!" he said; "is it possible? Even as the tongue of the
Cadi is before, while his hand is behind for the bribe; so men act one
thing and speak another."

"And who am I?" said Hassan; "and who is your father's son that you
reflect on me as double-faced? When have we met before?"

"Never! and yet I am not wrong," said Ali, fixing on his face a stern
and inquiring glance; "I am not wrong in thinking I speak to the accuser
of this woman. Do I not speak to the principal cause of her sufferings
and death? Hassan, son of Ibrāhim, do I not know you?"

Hassan's blood rushed to his brow and then left his face ashy pale, as
he said in a low voice,--

"Just God! is the brand of blood already on my brow that even strangers
know the murderer? The guilt of innocent blood is even now beginning to
fall on my head."

"You repent?" said Ali; "then why have you done nothing to save her?"

"Too late! Oh, that I could! But how do I know," said Hassan, checking
himself, "that I am not trusting to an enemy? What matter? It is known!
What have I to fear? I would give my life--a life that is hateful to me,
if it would save hers. And you,--you have travelled far to see this
scene of horror?--I see it now!"

"I spoke to gain your confidence," said Ali; "knowing you as the
destroyer of the innocent, I was your foe; now,--we are friends, and I
can trust you. But however little value you place upon your own life,
when I entrust you with a secret which would be no less fatal to mine,
you must swear to confide it to no other. I come to save her!"

"I swear by my father's head never to betray you," said Hassan; his
spirit rising with the hope of being able to co-operate in any way
towards undoing his evil work. "But how?"

"We shall find a way, if it please God," said Ali, "when the time comes.
I have met you in a fortunate hour; I see by the leather thong that you
wear that you belong to the Palace guards, this will give you the
opportunity of letting the Jewess know that help is at hand. You must
see her yourself or bribe some of the eunuchs or women. Tell her to seek
delay, and profit by any occasion we may be able to devise to save her."

"I will do it," said Hassan; "at the risk of my life I will do it."

The plain around the city of Marocco is very dangerous to ride over at
night, being intersected by long lines of pits, extending from the walls
towards the mountains; these pits are connected with underground canals
by which the town is watered; and these again are connected with each
other by tunnels. The pits are twenty and thirty feet deep; and from
their sides fig and other trees, and even date-palms, shoot up above the
surface of the plain, while beneath is heard the rushing of the buried
streams.

The horsemen were now obliged to follow each other cautiously in single
file till they came to a fondak, or caravanserai, outside the town
walls, near one of the closed gates. The keeper of this let them in,
cursing to himself at being disturbed from his sleep. Within, all was
silent except the creaking of the camels' teeth, as they lay ruminating
and waving their gaunt necks in the moonlight; their drivers lay around
rolled up in their hayks. After securing their horses they let
themselves out. Hassan then led the way for about half-a-mile, until he
stopped on the brink of one of the pits above described, and, telling
his companion to follow cautiously, he lowered himself down through the
branches of a spreading tree, and then, by holding on to roots and
shrubs, came by an easy declivity to the bottom of the pit. Being joined
by Ali, they found themselves in one of the tunnelled passages, in which
there was merely a run of water; following this for some distance in a
stooping posture, they came to a nearly dry well, which they ascended
with ease by the projecting stones left in its sides, and emerged,
through a thicket of tangled brambles and flowering shrubs, into the
court-yard of a large abandoned building about a hundred feet square,
surrounded by colonnades of massive stone pillars.

Ali's quick eye was not slow in calculating the advantages of such a
mode of exit from a hostile town, and he treasured every mark in his
mind for future use in case of need. Crossing a paved court, they went
out by an unfastened gate studded with iron nails, and found themselves
in an open space within the town; here they separated; Ali being well
acquainted with the interior of the town; after arranging where to meet
each other, without the necessity of public recognition. It happened
that Ali had been very unwisely intrusted by the Sheik with the money
for Abdslem; and this, as we shall see, was very nearly the means of
upsetting all their plans, and at the same time of finishing the
"Falcon's" career.

Abdslem was beginning to feel very impatient at the delay of the Sheik's
emissary, whom he was now bent on betraying; to prove his assumed
innocence, to the Sultan. Although he had with consummate assurance
blinded the Sultan to the evidence of his guilt, this was wanting to
restore his confidence, or ensure his safety. On this night he was
standing at his open door, when he was accosted by a stranger muffled in
a woollen hayk. "Peace be to you! Is your name Abdslem?"

"To you peace: my name is Abdslem! What would you with him?"

"I would speak with him in private!"

"Bismillah! come into your servant's house."

Abdslem could scarcely conceal his triumph; as they went into the room
he closed the door, and lighted a three-cornered tin lamp; before doing
which he had composed his features, and then sat down opposite his
visitor.

"Have you received a letter from him to whom you wrote?"

"I have, and by water: it was a device of cunning."

"I acknowledge the token; have you seen the bearer since? He did not
return."

"No! I understand he went on a long journey; his head was deranged as it
seemed. But if you are not satisfied, behold the letter!"

"It is enough, it is the Sheik's seal; meet me to-morrow at dusk at the
palm-grove inside the Duquela gate, there you shall receive it; you know
your work."

Notwithstanding Abdslem's eagerness to secure his prize, his examination
of the powerful frame of the Arab showed him that he had not a chance
against him single-handed, and to take any step that would inspire him
with alarm would be to lose him altogether; he therefore resolved to
wait, and make sure of him, as well as secure the money. "Inshallah," he
said, "I will not fail you: will you not share a soldier's supper?"

"May his blessing be with you, and increase your store: better that we
be not seen together. Peace."

"And to you peace," echoed Abdslem, as he closed the door after him,
"for to-night--but to-morrow!--half a quintal of iron on _your_ limbs
shall partly avenge me for my sufferings."

He thought the next day would never pass, at length the evening wore on,
and Abdslem having procured a dozen armed men from the Kaïd of the town,
placed them in ambush close to the place of meeting; and anxiously
awaited the arrival of Ali, who did not appear until it was quite dusk.

"This way," whispered Abdslem, drawing him into the date-grove. "Come
more within the shade."

The feathery boughs above their heads sighed dismally in the night
breeze, and one large columnar tree lay prostrate on the earth.

"Let us sit here: where is the money?"

"It is here," said Ali, producing the bag, the next minute he was
startled by a movement amongst the bushes behind him, and, looking
round, saw figures rising up in the dim light from their shelter.

"This for your treachery!" said he, dropping the bag, and making a blow
at Abdslem with his dagger; but the other was on his guard, and avoided
it by springing back, and Ali unfortunately stumbled over the fallen
tree: the soldiers rushed upon him, and he was overpowered by numbers,
disarmed and bound, whilst the traitor stood looking on with folded
arms, congratulating himself on his success.

"Inshallah! you shall live to repent of this night's work," said Ali,
"if it please God."

"Your days will not be long enough to see it," replied Abdslem,
sneeringly.

"You will not be the first that Ali el Bezz has lived to be revenged
on."

"What!" said Abdslem, "have I been so fortunate as to capture that
notorious robber Ali el Bezz? God be praised."

"The day may not be so propitious to you as you suppose," said Ali:
"'tis your turn to-day--but to-morrow--beware the 'Falcon's Swoop.'"

And Abdslem quailed before his prisoner, although bound and in his
power; his triumph was also embittered by the dread of retribution,
which, if Ali escaped, would inevitably fall on him, and even if he did
not, would sooner or later overtake him at the hands of the Arab's
family. Taking up the bag of money he accompanied the soldiers to the
prison, and, after seeing Ali secured, returned to his own house
intending to make his report to the Sultan in the morning.



CHAPTER X.

BLOOD FOR BLOOD.


On the day that consigned Ali thus treacherously to a dungeon, a small
knot of soldiers were sitting at the Sultan's gate, performing a
combined attack on a huge pyramid of Cuscusoo, into which they plunged
their hands half-way to the elbow, and swallowed the large balls of
granulated flour, which they squeezed up like snow in their fingers, and
it was not till they had nearly demolished the mutton and fowls buried
in this tumulus, that they found time to use their tongues for any other
purpose.

"Praise be to God!" said Omar, wiping his mouth and shaking the grains
from his beard. "Did you hear the news from Algiers?"

"Here, Ombark, you slave, pour water on my hands."

"We heard," said Mehedin, "that the town had been retaken, and the
infidels driven into the sea,--a curse on their fathers!"

"May you ride three days on a thirsty camel! Why do you believe such
lies? though I would it were true," said Cassim.

"Listen to me, O Moslemeen," said Omar, with an air of importance,
"were not the infidels enticed into the mountains by the Emir Abd el
Kader? and when they had passed the defile, did he not cut off their
retreat? Great was the slaughter of the infidels; a price had been fixed
for every head brought in, but it had to be lowered and lowered or the
Sultan's treasury would not have paid for all; eight thousand were
slain!"

"To God the glory!" said Cassim; "but you, Mahmoud, what say you to
that, you, that think the Nazarene dogs invincible?" Mahmoud was a young
man about twenty, of rather unprepossessing appearance, with small
restless grey eyes, and a gentle and rather feminine countenance.

"I did not say so," answered Mahmoud calmly; "but I know from letters
which are true, received by the Wezeer, that the whole infidel army was
but seven thousand, of which more than six thousand returned to Djezair.
May they be exterminated!"

"The curse of the Prophet on your house," said Cassim to Omar; "why do
you invent such lies, and why are we such fathers of the ears to believe
them?"

"Know you to whom you speak?" returned Omar, flushing with rage.
"Tenfold curses on your father, and may every dog's son of your tribe be
destroyed!"

Cassim was of Arab family, and this was too much for him.

"That from _one_ dog," said he, and he hurled the pitcher, from which he
was washing his hands, at Omar's head; but for his large turban, the
blow would have been more serious: as it was, he was stunned; but
recovering, sprung to his feet, dagger in hand, vowing vengeance; but
now the others interfered to stop the quarrel, and Cassim, cooled by the
effect of his missile, regretted his hastiness. Mahmoud was particularly
zealous in pacifying the sufferer.

"Shall I not drink the coward's blood?" said Omar, struggling with
Mahmoud, who was forcing him to sheath his dagger.

"What will you gain by that, or by eating him too? Curse the devil, and
be friends; of all things I hate a revengeful temper; he is sorry for
it."

"Who can stand such treatment?" said Omar, trying to swallow his rage.
Eventually, after several relapses, the quarrel was made up, and the two
were kissing each other's heads, in token of forgiveness, when they were
joined by Abd el Aziz.

"I have just been told," said he, "that the Cafila to Timbuctoo has been
plundered in the Beled-el-Jerede by the Woled Abou Sebah, and some of
the people killed. I hope, Mahmoud, that your brother Mohammed did not
go with them; it was said that he did."

Mahmoud turned deadly pale.

"Where had you this news?" said he, rising, "for I must know the truth."

"The person who told me was the old Fez merchant in the Kaisaria; he was
one of them, and has lost all his goods."

Mahmoud hastily departed.

"Poor youth! if his brother be killed, woe to him; his life will be
darkened, for he loved him exceedingly."

The love which existed between these two brothers was known to them all;
they had been together from childhood; the quiet, unassuming disposition
of the younger accorded well with the somewhat wild and bragging
character of his brother, and his retiring habits preventing him mixing
much with others of his station, made him cleave with more affectionate
dependence to his brother; he had endeavoured to dissuade him from this
journey, but his love of enterprise had prevailed. And now, with a
fearful dread that they were parted for ever, Mahmoud made his way with
rapid steps towards the Kaisaria, through long streets of shops, shaded
from the sun by date-boughs supported by poles thrown across the street
from wall to wall, hustling his way through crowds of people,
water-carriers, sweetmeat-sellers, Delals hawking their goods, camels,
mules, and horses, until, overcome with heat and fatigue, he reached the
bazaar, where shops, packed with shawls, scarfs, silk handkerchiefs, and
European goods, invited the purchaser. Here he was informed that the
object of his search had gone to the fondak. The story of the plunder of
the caravan was in every one's mouth. Resting a minute to take a draught
of water to moisten his parched lips, and which the water-carrier, with
his usual "Allaw Kerim!" emitted from the neck of a goat-skin gathered
in his hand, into a brass bowl: Mahmoud set off on another long round,
and at length found the Fez merchant sitting in one of the empty
partitions of the colonnade, round the court-yard of the fondak. His
face was woe-begone, and his fingers as usual combed his grey beard, as
he ruminated over his losses, when he was addressed by Mahmoud,--

"Salamo Alikoom; Sidi Idries! were you with the Cafila that was
plundered in the Desert?"

"Woe unto me!--who else?" said the little man with a groan, and then
began, half to himself, enumerating his losses: "Were there not three
bales of silk, worth six hundred dollars, five camel-loads of grocery
and spice, four hundred and fifty dollars at least, not to count
expenses and camel hire. Woe is me, to leave my own shop, to be ruined
in my old age, besides this there were two--"

"Then you can inform me--" interposed Mahmoud, impatiently.

"Is it not I that can give you information of the whole affair? Have I
not paid dearly for experience? As I was saying,--Two bales of cowries,
upwards of 140,000, one hundred and forty dollars."

"But what I want to ask you--" said Mahmoud, beginning to lose all
patience.

"Little by little, my friend," said Sidi Idries, "and I will tell you
all; little by little the camel gets into the saucepan. To think of the
slaves, and the gold-dust, and the ivory, I have lost. Our lives were
saved--yes--God is merciful--but what is life without the means of
living--the sum total--"

Mahmoud's patience here gave way--

"For God's sake, hear me!" thundered he, striking his clenched hand on
the shopboard, and putting a sudden stop to the merchant's volubility.
"I wish to know if any of your company were killed by the Arabs? It is
not from curiosity, but my brother went with them, and has not returned:
I fear some evil has befallen him."

His earnest and excited manner had driven the old man's losses from his
head for the present, and he told him that he had reason to believe that
one of the soldiers of their party had lost his life; and his
description of his appearance left no doubt on Mahmoud's mind that it
was his brother. His head swam, and a faintness at his heart made him
reach to the doorway for support, and he sank on the shop-sill, the
sweat streaming down his face. The old merchant was moved nearly to
tears at witnessing his suffering.

"It is the will of God, O my son!" he said; "have patience: was it not
written?"

"There is more written, O my father," said he; "there is vengeance!" and
he wiped the cold sweat from his brow; "but tell me everything--tell me
all!"

The merchant then told him, that after they were plundered and stripped,
an Arab, who had gone in pursuit of the soldiers, had returned with a
soldier's horse instead of his own, and carrying his clothes and arms;
and that when they started on their return they had passed the body of
a horse and man, lying on the plain in the moonlight, with a flock of
vultures gorged and slumbering at a little distance, until daylight
should enable them to renew their feast.

"Now I remember," he said, "the soldier's name was Mohammed."

Mahmoud's worst fears were confirmed.

"Is it known who the Arab was?" he inquired, with a quivering voice.

"Arabs are like dates," said the merchant, "one like another; but this
one was not of the flock; he gave us his name himself; he was the famous
Ali el Bezz!"

"I have heard it before," said Mahmoud, as he turned slowly away to
dream of vengeance; "but now it is written here"--and he struck his
brow--"in fire!"

He returned to his home, and though he wept in private the loss of his
brother, he subdued his emotion, when he was obliged to repair to the
Palace-guard, and appear among his comrades; but he sat abstracted and
taciturn, torturing his brain with plans of vengeance. If Ali had been
living in the town, he would have slain him by treachery, or hired
assassins; any means seemed excusable to compass his revenge; but how
reach him in the Desert; and who would aid him against so redoubtable a
foe, who was supposed to possess a charmed life? He felt at last reduced
to the painful necessity of waiting until his enemy should venture to
the town, when he resolved to hunt him down at any risk. He little knew
at the time that his revenge was brought to his own door, and he had
only to arise and strike.

His comrades, knowing the cause of his melancholy, forbore to intrude on
him. They had just finished their supper, and were preparing to set the
watch for the night, when Abdslem joined them. He was in high spirits,
and exhibited a handsome embroidered silk scarf, which he unwound from
his head, for their admiration.

"Look at this," he said; "I received it this morning from the Sultan's
own hands; may he be exalted; I told you I should not be long in
disgrace."

"It is beautiful," said Mehedin, while it passed round; "but what great
thing have you done to merit it?"

"Not a small exploit. Did I not seize an Arab spy with my own hand; and
who do you think he turned out to be? Why, no other than that dare-devil
Sheik, Ali el Bezz!" and Abdslem twirled the scarf round his head in a
handsome turban above his ugly face.

Mahmoud, who had at first paid little attention to the speaker, sprang
forward at the electrical sound of that name.

"Who?" he said; "repeat that name," laying his hand on Abdslem's
shoulder, while his features worked, his eyes glared, and his whole
frame trembled.

Abdslem looked at him, half doubting his sanity.

"I tell you," he repeated, "I have seized the notorious robber Ali el
Bezz; and he is now as safely lodged as walls and chains can keep him."

"Thanks be to God!" exclaimed Mahmoud, grinding his teeth, and raising
his clenched hands, while a satanic smile overspread his countenance;
"he is in my power; my revenge is sure!" and gathering up his cloak, he
rushed out of the gate.

As he came into the street the moon threw her pale light on his haggard
face, and reminded him that it was now too late to take further steps
that night. He returned to his own house, and threw himself on his
mattress, but sleep came not to the relief of his fevered frame; and his
heated brain pictured to him his murdered brother, pale and bleeding,
reproaching him for his delay.

The dogma of the Koran, which in practice is the Moorish law, is "eye
for eye," "tooth for tooth," "life for life;" if the offence is proved,
the Sultan himself hardly dares to refuse retaliation on the wrongdoer,
and if the accuser perseveres in demanding justice, he must deliver up
the accused to his vengeance.

Before the day dawned, Mahmoud was sitting at the inner gate of the
palace, waiting impatiently till the Sultan should ride forth to the
audience-hall (M'Shouar); and when after several long hours he came out,
surrounded by his guards and attendants, there was heard a voice clear
above the noise of the cavalcade,--

"Justice! O my lord! Justice! Blood for blood!"

The Sultan ordered the speaker to be brought before him, asked him the
reason of his complaint, and whom he accused.

"My lord, I accuse Ali el Bezz," said Mahmoud; "he is now in prison, and
I demand his life for the life of my brother, whom he has murdered."

"How know you that he hath done this?" said the Sultan, "we must have
proof."

"The witnesses are all those who have returned from the plunder of the
Cafila."

"We will inquire further into this matter," said the Sultan, "and if we
find that your charge is true, we may not deny you justice."

Then giving the necessary orders, he rode on, leaving Mahmoud, to whom
every hour of suspense seemed an age, sitting at the gates to await his
return. It was mid-day, and he was still at his station; no food had
passed his lips, and the call of the crier from the Mosque had rolled
over him unheard, but as soon as the Sultan re-entered, the same clear
voice rung in his ears,--

"Justice! my lord! Justice! Blood for blood!"

The Sultan made a gesture of impatience. From the inquiries he had
caused to be made, he found that the charge was true; but as the Arab
had been taken in a political intrigue, he wished to spare his life for
the present, with the view of obtaining information from him, and making
use of him for his own service.

"Bring him before us;" and Mahmoud advanced. "What sum would pay for
this?" said the Sultan. "We would compromise this matter; of more use to
you will be the fine of redemption than the death of the Arab: this
cannot restore your brother, it was written."

Mahmoud's lip curled, and his eye glistened, "My lord's will is his
slave's," he said, "and the will of the Khalifa of the Prophet will not
wish to swerve from the Prophet's law. Shall I sell my brother's blood?
If," said he, with fierce energy, "for every drop of the Arab's base
blood, you offered me your hands full of gold, it should be as dross.
No! not for his weight in diamonds would I forego my just revenge, or
lose the satisfaction of witnessing the last groan issue from the
gasping soul of my brother's murderer!"

From the intense vindictiveness of his spirit, the Sultan saw that it
would be useless to combat his resolve; and as he was not very intent on
saving Ali; within a few hours Mahmoud received the order to the keeper
of the prison, directing him to deliver Ali up to him for execution.

His delight at receiving this order amounted to rapture; he kissed the
Sultan's seal affixed to it, and placed it next his heart, as though it
had been a token from his beloved; clasping it there he hurried to his
house, dreading lest anything should occur to change the Sultan's mind,
and intervene between him and his revenge. Arrived at home, he slung on
his powder-horn and bullet-pouch, and taking his gun, which his
impatience did not permit him to load, he hastened to the public prison.

Hassan on leaving his companion had proceeded to fulfil his promise of
warning Azora. Ali was right in supposing him well acquainted with the
topography of the palace, from his position; and he was, moreover,
intimate with many of the attendants of the household. He first provided
himself with a bottle of the strong spirit which the Jews distil from
raisins, put on a dark coloured dress, and then set off for the palace.
Avoiding the main entrance, he skirted the walls till he came to a small
side door, here he rolled a stone in a handkerchief, and gave five
muffled knocks; after a short pause, the door opened of itself, the
latch being raised by a string from above; he entered in the dark, and
ascending a narrow stair in the thickness of the wall, entered a small
square chamber lighted by a brass lamp; here on a carpet sat one of the
Sultan's chief eunuchs; he had a flabby face, a heavy eye, and was very
corpulent; his dress was of fine materials, and he wore an enormous
white turban on his head; a bristle grew here and there on his chin.

"How is uncle Mobarik?" said Hassan, after the usual salutes.

"Well, O cheerer of my heart," said Mobarik "how long it is since I have
seen the son of my uncle!"

"I had work, O my friend, and could not come."

"Oh, we have heard. Allaw Ackbar. Work, yes, we have heard."

"And then, O my uncle, I like not to come empty-handed, and it is so
difficult now to pass the stuff through the gate of the Jews' town; but
there," producing the bottle, "is some true water of life; the Sultan
does not drink better. None of your fig or date brandy, but distilled
from grapes, and flavoured with anise: try it."

"Is it lawful, O light of my eyes?" said Mobarik, while his own eyes
twinkled as he poured out half a tumbler full.

"Is it not lawful?" said Hassan.

"The Koran forbids it," said Mobarik.

"The Koran does not forbid it," said Hassan; "am I not a taleb? Hear the
Koran! Thus it is written--'Intoxicating drink is created for man, but
the harm of it is greater than its benefit; therefore, O Moslem,
forbear.'" Mobarik had drained his glass before the quotation was
finished. "And," continued Hassan, "the great commentator, Kumalodeen,
interprets this, 'To those who can drink in moderation and without harm,
it is permitted--to others, not.'"

"Truly, thou art a lawyer, and wisdom cometh out of thy mouth; doth it
not warm the stomach and cheer the heart?"

When Mobarik had finished about half the bottle to his own share, Hassan
only helping him for form's sake, his ashy-brown face had acquired a
sort of glow, and he seemed in the happiest temper for Hassan's
purpose. It was no easy task for him to talk slightingly of what caused
him such intense pain, but he forced himself to bear it.

"So you have heard," said he, "of Hassan converting the infidel?"

"Oh, yes!" said Mobarik, taking off his turban, and with a comical leer
on his face; "the hawk struck the quail, and the eagle bore it off."

"God is great! There is more game a-field," said Hassan; "but how heard
you the affair?"

"Is not the infidel in my ward?" said Mobarik.

"Then she is in the garden room," said Hassan; "that is all right."

"What garden room? and what is right?" said Mobarik, whose professional
vigilance was awakened.

"Hast thou forgotten, O fat man! the carpenter's lad that was taken in
to repair the door-lock?"

Before he could say more, Mobarik had closed his mouth with his hand,--

"Wilt thou be silent, O unfortunate? If thou didst escape, thank God;
art thou weary of thy life?"

"Perhaps I am," said Hassan, "but thou wert well paid for that affair;"
and he slapped the pocket of his caftan, making the money that it
contained ring. "Now, uncle Mobarik, put on your turban, and listen to
me. Shall I put you in the way of pocketing a nice little sum of fifty
dollars?" The flabby face grinned. "Good! I must see this Jewess." The
mouth fell open, the eyes rounded, and with his turban stuck on awry,
any one less heavy at heart than Hassan must have been convulsed with
laughter. His mouth then closed tight, and his head shook from side to
side.

"Am I an Afreet of fifty lives," said he, "that I should tamper with the
Sultan's hareem?"

"Mobarik, you are a father of the ears, any one may see a Jewess. Hareem
indeed! if it had been a Mooress, there would be danger, besides, it is
only a letter; see, you would not lose fifty dollars?"

"Give me the money; I will give her the letter."

"Do you see my horns growing, O wise one? Or have I been eating dates
till the honey runs out of my eyes? Do pillared dollars grow on trees,
that you have only to raise your hand and pick? Now, take another glass,
and listen to what I say. I have been offered one hundred dollars, to
give a letter into the infidel's own hand. I refused, unless I knew the
contents; it was read to me, for it is in the Hebrew character--see, it
is open. In it, they beg her to submit to her fate, as all they have
done to obtain her liberty has been without success, and it is better
for her to be a Moslem than lose her life. I took the money, and
promised, as I knew you would not refuse to help me."

"Then you were mistaken," said Mobarik, sulkily, "I will not risk my
head."

Hassan looked at him steadily for a minute, "I swear by Allah, that
_you_ shall help me, and that I will not leave until I have seen the
Jewess; and now I will show you that it is safer, and more profitable
for you to consent, than to refuse; look at me, I am a stronger man than
you, would it not be easy to me, O my uncle, to bind you, and go without
your leave? I know the way, you would not dare to give an alarm, for my
being in here, and your friend there in the bottle, would be sufficient
to cost you the skin of your back, and perhaps your head. But what is
there to prevent my killing you," he continued, advancing towards him
with his hand on his dagger--"we are alone--but for our old friendship?"

Mobarik had shrunk into the corner, in real alarm, his face having again
assumed its ashy hue: "Let us be friends," said he, "give me the money:
have you not sworn that I shall help you, and an oath must be kept?"

"Yes!" said Hassan, "and then it is a good action to persuade the Jewess
to her conversion. I will stay but the time for an answer to the letter:
go on before to see that all is safe."

Mobarik having received the money, led the way down-stairs, crossed a
court-yard, and unlocking a side door, admitted Hassan, directing him to
lock the door on his return, for which purpose he left the key in the
lock. Hassan found himself amongst the fruit trees, with which the
interior court was thickly planted; and under their shadow, he made his
way towards a light which shone out through a glass door, at a little
distance and which was half-open.

Azora was reclining on the cushions, one hand supporting her head, while
the other rested on a small Hebrew Bible, which lay open before her. A
large brass lamp, on an embossed pillar, stood on the carpet, and threw
its light on her sweet, calm face. She was so deeply absorbed that she
did not notice the entrance of Hassan, whose tread was dulled by the
soft carpet, and he stood gazing, with clasped hands, on that face so
pale and yet so peaceful; and though his affection for her was revived,
it was in a hallowed form, and his heart smote him for the part he had
taken in bringing one so good and so beautiful into her present peril. A
deep-drawn sigh aroused her from her meditations, and made her aware of
his presence. In her present position, her mind was not in a state to be
startled by such a circumstance; her first feeling was surprise, and the
next the fear of the consequences to himself. She felt resigned to her
fate, and no feelings of ill-will could harbour in her bosom.

"Hassan," she said, rising, "am I not free from your presence even
here?"

"No!" said he, "that time is past, but repentance has come too late to
undo what has been done."

"God be praised!" interrupted Azora, "but know you your peril if found
here? Fly! lest you also fall a victim."

"She is of the angels," muttered Hassan. "I am in her power, a word
would avenge her, yet she only thinks of my danger; I, the cause of her
death. Yes, I, her murderer. Oh, my brain! Allah, have mercy! That I
take this risk," he continued, addressing her, "is a proof that I now
speak truth. I am sent to warn you that you have friends, who are
working for and watching over your safety; you also must watch every
opportunity, and profit by it. The Sheik of the Sebaïe, who gave a
pledge of protection to your father, has vowed to save you. I know not
what threats or torture may be intended by the tyrant; but be sure that
in the hour of danger friends will be near, and may God deliver you.
Here is a token you must remember." And he gave her a slip of paper,
with a few Hebrew words upon it.

"It is well," said Azora; "if God has raised me up friends, may He
prosper their endeavours; if they fail, God's will be done! But
haste--save yourself!"

Hassan was turning to depart, but stopped and said, with a trembling
voice,--

"Oh, Azora! though torment wait me, I _cannot_ go till you have granted
one request."

"I, what is there in _my_ power to grant? I, a captive!"

"Oh, much, much!" and he fell on his knees, and raised his hands in
supplication. "Forgiveness!--I ask--forgiveness for the wrong I have
done you, and--O God!--what may yet be--may He avert it. Can you, oh,
can you forgive me?"

"Can I forgive you?" she repeated, raising her eyes to heaven with a
smile, "as I hope for pardon from Him before whose throne I must ere
long appear--from my soul I forgive you! But fly! I hear sounds
approaching!"

A scalding tear fell on her hand, as Hassan pressed it to his lips, and
then, disappearing through the doorway, he retraced his steps, locked
the gate of the garden, and rejoined Mobarik, who was anxiously waiting
to let him out.

"I have the answer," he said; "may your sleep be blessed. When shall we
have another bottle of keef?"

"When I carry pebbles and eggs in the same bag, O son of my uncle,"
replied Mobarik, as he closed the door after him.

Soon after he had left, the female attendants summoned Azora to retire
for the night; before which, she had looked at the paper left with her
by Hassan, it contained only these words, "The black horse."

It was the next day that Hassan heard with the greatest dismay of the
seizure of Ali el Bezz, which threatened to frustrate all attempts for
the Jewess's safety. In the Moorish prisons the principal reliance is
placed on the heavy chains with which they are shackled for the safe
keeping of prisoners, the rooms being inefficient, and the guards
careless; the shackles are riveted on the arms and legs by a smith, and
the chains terminate in a massive ring in the wall. Hassan, as one of
the Sultan's guards, knew that he would have no difficulty in
communicating with the prisoner without suspicion; and the first thing
he did before repairing thither was to purchase a large triangular file,
which he concealed in his waist-belt. As soon as Ali had been secured as
described above, he sat down on a stone, the only furniture of the cell,
overcome with shame and vexation at allowing himself to be so
entrapped. When this passed, his mind turned to other and more
tormenting thoughts. The vision of his black tent on the Desert rose
painfully to his imagination; he saw his wife looking out for his
return, and all the trifling, but to him important details associated
with his home, gave poignancy to his suffering; he sprang to his feet,
only to be reminded by the irons on his limbs that he was no longer
free!

He sat down and endeavoured to compose himself to think over his chances
of escape; he examined his chains and their connexion with the wall, and
was forced to the conclusion that unaided there was no hope! It was
early in the morning when he heard a voice, which he recognised, outside
the iron-barred window of his cell, and his heart bounded with hope.

"These poor devils of prisoners would be starved but for the charity of
the Moslem. I will begin this morning with a good action, and spend half
a peçeta on them. O thou son of evil fortune!" said Hassan, coming to
the grating, "take the alms of the Moslem, for the love of God." (And in
a lower voice, "Cut the links next to your arms and legs.") "I am poor,
O my brother, or I would give thee more. (You can overpower and gag the
keeper of the prison.) Pray to the Saint Sidi Abd el Kader for me. (Your
horse will be in waiting where we parted yesterday.) God give you a safe
deliverance!"

He then sauntered away, while Ali, overjoyed, set to work to free
himself from his chains, which, allowing for the interruptions he would
be subject to by the coming in and out of the keeper, he expected to
accomplish by noon. The links were made of soft iron, about ten inches
long each, the rod of which they were forged being three inches in
circumference; he found, after cutting through one, that by an exertion
of strength, using his hands and feet, he could force it open and
release the shackle; he had disengaged himself from three of his chains,
and had cut through the remaining one on his left leg, which only
required to be forced open; his heart already beat high, with the
anticipation of liberty, when he was again disturbed by the approach of
the keeper. Concealing the ends of his chains in his hayk, he huddled
down by the wall, looking sulky, until he should leave as usual. This
time, however, the keeper brought with him a stranger.

"Be it known unto thee, O enemy of God!" said the keeper, "that thou art
convicted of the murder of a Moslem named Mohammed. And know further,
that his brother, named Mahmoud, has claimed thy life for the life of
his brother, according to the law, and has brought an order from the
Sultan (may his throne be exalted!) to deliver thee unto him."

He then turned and left the room, the door of which he closed after him;
and the avenger of blood and his victim were left together.

Ali at once saw the extent of his danger, and that, if he failed to
liberate himself from the remaining chain, his life was ended. Luckily
for him Mahmoud had brought his gun unloaded; and as he was in no
hurry, now that he seemed sure of his prey, the delay would give Ali the
opportunity of making an effort to disengage himself from the chain.
Revenge, like all fierce pleasures, is chiefly delightful in
anticipation. Imagination exaggerating the enjoyment it promises, these
feelings gradually die away as the time for action approaches; for if
the excitement increased in proportion up to that point, the
overstrained mind would render the body powerless to carry its plans
into practice with firmness and success. Mahmoud was disappointed; he
fixed his gaze on his victim expecting to see him quail with dread; he
came to luxuriate in his fears, and gloat over his despair as he begged
his forfeit life, and he anticipated the delight, when he begged for
mercy, of planting the death-shot in his shrinking heart. But Ali
returned his gaze undaunted, and he felt that his vengeance was
incomplete.

He began charging his gun; his voice trembled with rage as he said,--

"O dog! you do not fear death? We shall see. You pretend to look calm,
so does the wolf,--yet it dies. I do not believe you,--and now I see you
tremble."

Ali's frame was quivering with the muscular exertion of forcing open the
stubborn iron.

"Fear death!" echoed the Arab, with a scornful smile. "I have seen it
too often; let your father's son tremble; your brother would have killed
me and I took his life. I shrink not from the penalty; take my life and
be satisfied."

"He confesses it, and braves me!" muttered Mahmoud through his clenched
teeth, and his eyes glared as he dashed the fatal bullet into the barrel
and rammed it down on the charge. "Have I lived to be braved by a vile
Bedawi! Your life pay for his? No! not the lives of all your tribe;
but," continued he, "though you do not fear, have you not left those in
your accursed tent, whose pangs will contribute to my vengeance? Ha!
have I stung you? you shall think of that for a space, before I take
your dog's life."

The heart of Ali sunk within him, as he found himself utterly unable,
without betraying his exertions, to force open the iron link; his only
hope of escape from death was the probability of Mahmoud's coming within
his reach; the remaining chain which held him was four feet long, and
this with his own stride, would give him a lunge of eight feet, and as
it is usual in these cases of judicial murder to put the muzzle of the
gun to the victim's breast, the chance was possible.

Mahmoud, however, having primed his gun, seemed determined not to give
him that chance of escape, and free from all apprehension of losing his
revenge, pleased himself with cat-like ferocity, in playing with his
victim. He went to the far end of the small room, and began taking
deliberate aim, first at his victim's head and then at his heart. Ali
shifted his position from side to side to deceive him.

"Why don't you shoot?" he said, "you could not hit a camel at that
distance! See how his hand shakes! his heart would shake more if I was
free! There, finish! is not your brother waiting for his revenge?"

Mahmoud, who had controlled himself all this time with the greatest
difficulty, could no longer restrain his fury; he rushed upon him to
place the muzzle to his breast with a yell of rage, when Ali, with one
bound, sprang upon his foe, and before he could recover from his
astonishment, had seized the gun, and felled him to the earth with the
iron manacle on his wrist, completing his work by shooting him through
the head with his own gun:--and he was free!

Having succeeded thus far, his next care was to secure his retreat;
first disengaging himself from the chains, he fastened the door within,
and then hastily changed his own upper dress for that of his senseless
enemy, the soldier's high yellow boots concealed the shackles on his
legs, while the manacles on his wrists were covered by the folds of his
hayk; he gave a paler tinge to his bronzed face, with the white wash
dust from the walls, he then attired Mahmoud in his coarse hayk, and
taking the precaution of reloading the gun, he walked quietly out, with
the hood of the burnoose muffling his face, the keeper only making a
passing remark reflecting on his tardiness. As he expected, he found
Mahmoud's horse at the gate, this he mounted, and pursued his way at a
slow pace, but striking into the less frequented streets, until he
entered a long arched passage; here he dismounted, looped the bridle to
the high pommel, and fixing a small thorny branch under the girth to act
as spurs, he let him loose, and the horse bounded down the street
kicking and plunging, and disappeared round the corner; he thus cut off
the clue to his discovery, should he be pursued, and then made his way
to where his own horse awaited him.



CHAPTER XI.

SHEIK AYOUB.


The Chief of the Woled Abou Sebah had long been meditating an inroad
into the Sultan's territory, and this, the arrival of Yusuf had caused
him to accelerate. After despatching Ali, he gave orders to strike the
tents, and be ready for marching before dawn, consequently, instead of
the stillness which usually prevailed during the night, all was bustle
and confusion in preparation for departure, large fires blazed in all
directions, round which flitted the dark forms of the Arabs, arranging
their arms and accoutrements, packing tents, saddling horses; while the
din of hammers, the screaming of camels, and neighing of horses, mingled
with the voice of a multitude, and the surging swell of thousands in
motion.

Before sunrise every tent was struck, and everything loaded for the
march; the whole company now separated into two bands, the larger,
consisting of the women, and children, and aged, on camels, and the
flocks, with a sufficient number of men for their protection; these took
their course southward further into the Desert. The other band of about
five thousand horsemen, armed with double guns across their pommels,
besides swords and dirks, were to march northward taking Teradant in
their route. Each man carried a small supply of provisions, consisting
of dates and barley-meal. Several hundred camels accompanied them,
carrying spare ammunition and provisions, but though starting so lightly
equipped they had every intention of returning more heavily laden with
the spoils of their more industrious but less warlike neighbours. As the
first troop was diminishing from view, the chief commanded his standard
to be unfurled, and mounted his charger: an attendant handed him a bowl
of milk, which he first tasted, and then poured over his horse's mane, a
ceremony to invoke protection during the journey. He galloped down the
front of his line of men, or rather the semicircle which they formed,
with a word of salute or kindness to all that came within his ken, he
then stopped in their front, and thus addressed them, in a clear,
sonorous voice: "Praise be to the one God! Brothers, what shall I say?
Will ye be slaves of the Sultan, or will ye stand by the banner of Hamed
Ibn Ishem?"

A loud shout of "Long live our chief!" drowned for an instant his voice,
and all again was silent.

"It is well, brothers! Ye are true sons of Ishmael, and when the battle
comes, let every Arab stand by his brother. What! shall the lord of the
Sahel pay tribute to the son of the town? Shall the warrior bow to the
plough-driver? Henceforth shall every man live free in his tent, without
fear of having the bread taken from his children, to raise taxes for a
stranger. Does the Sultan want tribute, let him come and seek it; but
instead of gold, he will find lead and steel, and the bones of his
troops shall whiten the red sands of the Sahara. We now go north, to
repay ourselves for what we have already lost. The provinces are rich,
and we will reap a hundredfold for what has been taken from us. But one
word of warning: let no innocent blood bring a curse on our tents. I
command and entreat ye to respect women and children, and not to hurt
the unresisting; let mercy follow submission, then shall success attend
our arms, a blessing attend our steps, and we shall return to our tents
in peace. Brothers, shall we pray?"

All then with raised hands joined in the Fetha, or prayer of praise and
adoration, after which they commenced their march to the province of
Suse; and when far away, they looked back on the scene of their late
camp, there was nothing visible but a broad dark spot, over which the
vultures were hovering.

Various surmises were passing among the Arabs, with respect to the
object of Yusuf's coming, and having concluded that he had brought
intelligence favourable to this expedition, they were well disposed
towards him, independently of his being the guest of their chief. As
soon as the Sheik could find time, he rode up to Yusuf, who was mounted
on an ambling mule, plodding along in a rather desponding state of mind,
lest he should return too late, and find Azora's fate beyond their
help.

"Cheer up, O friend," said the Sheik, "we have sent Sheik Ali on in
haste to Marocco; he is to be trusted, fear not. I have now much to
attend to, but I have appointed you a companion and protector on the
road; Sheik Ayoub Er Rami is a good man, he is, as God made him, a good
warrior and honest, but fond of hearing himself talk; will it not amuse
you by the way? He has been in the towns, and is accustomed to
strangers, some of these Arabs of mine never saw a house, and when they
do, they only wonder why you should build houses of stone that will last
longer than you can use them. Sheik Ayoub!" he called out, and Ayoub,
who had been discussing with his friends the probable plunder they would
reap, dashed forward to the side of the chief, bringing his horse on his
haunches, and ploughing up the sand with his hind hoofs.

"You have a good seat and a good horse," said the chief smiling, as he
shook the dust from his burnoose. "This, our guest, is placed in your
charge, you will protect him against friend or foe, until I relieve you.
Have I not put confidence in you? and is it not well placed?"

Ayoub bowed to his horse's crest. "There is not an Arab who would not
risk his life for the guest of our chief: therefore, O Sheik, friends we
fear not: and may the Prophet put him in danger of an enemy, that I may
prove myself worthy of your trust."

"Avert the omen!" said the Sheik, "I shall be satisfied without such
proof. May your prayer not be granted!"

Ayoub was a small, neat figure, with a pair of formidable moustaches, a
pointed beard, but no whiskers; he had formerly lived in Marocco, taking
service under the Sultan, there he had been obliged to adopt the caftan
and turban, but had very soon returned to the independence of the
Desert; this, however, had given him more neatness in his dress, and an
affectation of knowledge bordering on conceit. He was a great talker,
which was facilitated, as his comrades jokingly assured him, by the
absence of several teeth, lost in some fray; he was well knit, though
short, and when laughed at for his size, he was always ready with a
proverb, as "Iron is sold by the quintal, steel by the ounce." The only
peculiarity about him in other respects, was that he carried a brace of
small pocket pistols in his belt, this joined to his being a good
rifle-shot, had acquired him the surname "Er Rami, the Marksman."

"My name," said he in answer to Yusuf's inquiry, "your lord's name (may
peace attend it!) is Ayoub Ibn Aisa Ibn Yarib Sebaïe, they choose to
call me Er Rami, to laugh at my beard, because I carry these children of
the gun; but when they have seen them bite, young as they are, they do
not laugh at them in the hand of an enemy. Then they open the mouth of
astonishment. A Christian gave them to me, may the Prophet enlighten him
before his death! They are good men, the Christians, men of trust, they
would not break their word to save a ship. The Moors are not worthy to
be their grooms; but give me your ear," said he, leaning from his
saddle towards Yusuf, apparently to whisper his secret, when he shouted
out, "they eat pig!"

"Oh, abominable!" exclaimed the equally scandalized Jew; and all the
Christians' merits were wrecked on the reef of prejudice.

Yusuf, however, nothing loth to relieve the monotony of the journey, by
encouraging the loquaciousness of his companion, asked him where he had
met with Christians, and if he had been to Suerah.

Ayoub, only too glad to find a listener, brightened up as he slung his
long bridle round his neck, and let his horse follow his own pace, that
his hands might be free to accompany his tongue. "Gently, child," this
was to his horse, who knew as well as his master, that he had work
before him, and had no intention of fretting. "Inshallah, I have seen
things, as you say. El Suerah! Yes, I have seen El Suerah. The Nazarenes
call it Mogadore, after the sanctuary of the Saint Sidi Mogdul (his
peace be on us!). Well, before I went to the merchant's house, I said to
my head, 'If Ayoub does not dress himself like a Kaïd, or a Taleb, the
infidel will despise him, and I shall appear small in their eyes:' so I
put on a turban of white muslin, as big as that," holding his hands a
foot and a half from each side of his head, "then I put on a green
caftan and a hayk, perfumed with sandal-wood, and followed by a boy with
a present of dates and oranges, I went to the merchant's house. As I was
going to enter, out comes a black soldier, who was sitting in the gate.

"'Where are you going in peace?' said he, he did not see whom he was
speaking to, for his eyes were one half closed with fat, and the other
half with importance.

"'Going,' said I, 'to see the merchant,' and I advanced.

"'Tell me who you are,' said he, 'and I will inquire if you can be
admitted.'

"This set me laughing. 'Did I come to see the Sultan?' said I; 'when I
do, I don't expect to find such a gate-keeper, so take your head from
whence you brought it, and find a place to pray in.' And I pushed him
out of my path. But my slipper-counter barred the doorway again.

"'You are not in the woods,' says he, quite furious, 'people's houses
are not to be entered by force here, as you will find when you eat the
stick, for all your turban is as big as a Cuscusoo dish.'

"I was beginning to lose patience. 'I tell you what, O dog of evil race,
if we were in the woods, you would defile your beard in the dust, when
you presumed to approach my presence; as it is, if you don't save your
breath, and stop your tongue from wagging, I shall be compelled to
shorten it an inch.' And I was thinking seriously of doing so, when the
merchant, attracted by the dispute, looked over the upper gallery to
know what was the matter. 'Is this the way, O merchant,' said I, 'that
you treat your guests? Behold I come to seek the shadow of your tents,
when this evil-eyed slipper-hunter, who calls himself a Moslem, presumes
to stop me at the gate; and if it is by your orders, it is no credit to
your hospitality,' The merchant looked at me with a peculiar smile.

"'Welcome, O my friend!' said he, in the tongue of the Arab. 'I always
tell this slave of the Sultan, to distinguish people; he knows not the
difference between a cat and a lion; you must forgive him.'

"I said to myself, 'If the Moslem is a fool, the Christian is wise, and
can see through a turban.' Then the merchant took me into a beautiful
room, with windows of glass, and tables of precious wood covered with
china and crystal; and round the walls were mirrors, and pictures of
houris, and everything fit for a Sultan; and I said to myself, 'O Ayoub!
hast thou not found the palace of Alla ed Din?' After I had looked about
a little, the merchant told me to sit, and brought me a small table,
with a back made of cane, and a bar for the feet; with such a turban on,
what could I do? I sat down on it, and found it was a just fit, neither
too small, nor too large, and I was afraid to move for fear of falling,
so I put my hands down under my hayk, and held on by the sides of the
chair. I began to think I was a 'father of the ears,' passing myself for
what I was not, and I doubted but the infidel thought so too; but I
forgive him for laughing at my beard, for the lesson he taught me, as I
had told him I was one of the palace guards from Marocco.

"While I was thus perched, like a water-melon on a plate, the merchant
brought out a handsome gun, inlaid with silver and ivory, and gave it me
to look at. My Arab blood could never resist a horse or a gun; off my
guard, I stretched out my hand to take it, lost my balance, and down I
came. The merchant sprang forward and saved my fall.

"'You have more cushions than chairs in the palace,' said he, 'but sit
down on the carpet, and here are cushions.'

"I took his advice and sat down, praying that the inventor of such seats
might be condemned to sit on one on the top of the highest mosque in the
town, until I took him down. Well, presently came in another young
infidel, with blue eyes, and the two began chirruping away like
squirrels, then they gave me tea flavoured with ambergris, cakes, and
hallows. When I had eaten God's blessings until I was ashamed, they
brought me a little black box; and when I had it in my hand, one of them
touched a nail, and (may I be protected!) it began to speak, when I
threw it on the carpet, and jumping up, shook my clothes, and invoked
curses on Satan, while the two unbelievers were rolling with laughter. I
was about to escape, when they got up and begged me to stop, telling me
it was only done by art, and not by magic. Then they made it begin
again, and lo! as I listened, it warbled beautiful music, a hundred
times more sweet than the song of the Oom el hassn or Zurzur. I sat with
my hands upraised and my mouth open, exclaiming 'Adjaib! Wonderful!
Wonderful! God is great!' Then it stopped, and behold, I was still in
this world! 'O merchant! God increase your blessings,' said I; 'there is
only one thing you Christians cannot do, for you can do everything
else.'

"'What is that?' said he.

"'O merchant, you cannot prevent death!'

"'We do not wish it, O Sheik; if we do not die, we do not go to heaven.'

"This made me stare: the infidel to go to Jinnah! with the true
believer?

"'Would it not be better,' said I, 'to enjoy God's blessings in this
world as long as we can, in case of missing the road to the other?'

"'God is merciful,' said he; so not wishing to hurt his feelings, I
thought of the pig, and said nothing."

Yusuf, however, thought it as well to put in a word for infidels in
general. "Yes," said he, "O Sheik! God is merciful, and is it not
written in the gloss of the great Saint Abd el Kader Jilelly, 'Behold
three sit at the gate of Paradise, Sidna (our lord) Mohammed, Sidna
Moosa, and Sidna Aisa, and when one cometh and it is asked of him, 'What
art thou?' he answereth, 'I am a Moslem,' and behold Sidna Mohammed
openeth the gate and saith, 'Enter.' And another cometh and saith, 'I am
a Jew,' and Sidna Moosa openeth the gate and saith, 'Enter.' And another
cometh and saith, 'I am a Christian,' and Sidna Aisa openeth the gate
and saith, 'Enter.' And a fourth cometh and saith, 'I am a Renegade, I
have changed my faith,' so no one openeth unto him, he is accursed!"

"Did our lord, Abd el Kader write that?" said Ayoub, "wonderful is the
mercy of God; but no doubt, in his days, Christians did not eat pig. But
where was I? I remember. Well, then, the young infidel with blue eyes
took me by the sleeve, and said, 'Come with me, and I will show you
_such_ a horse as you have not seen in the Sultan's stud;' what could I
do? I followed him with alacrity, so we went down into the court-yard,
and oh, what a horse! I would walk three days' journey on foot to see
such another; his coat was mottled like the ripple of the stream, his
neck like a rainbow, his mane, like a curtain of silk, reached to his
knees, eyes and legs like the antelope, and broad breasted like a houri;
what can I say? I sat down by the wall and blessed him. He was as quiet
as a lamb, but when the Christian mounted him he became like a lion, his
eye saw everything, his ear heard everything, his hoof disdained
everything, and as he paced along, I could have thrown myself under his
feet, and let him walk over me.

"'You are a judge of horses,' said the merchant, 'what do you think of
him?'

"'May evil eyes be averted from him,' said I, 'he is perfect.'

"And when I got on the subject (although not given to talking) I ran on
about shoulders and pasterns, fetlocks and hoofs, manes and tails, eyes,
nostrils, and genealogies, enough to fill a book, till the merchant was
astonished, and must have thought I was a delal.

"'You have seen horses, O Sheik!' said he, 'but you have not learnt
that it is safer to ride a horse that kicks than one you don't know.'

"I saw I was fairly found out, and was obliged to give up the game.

"'I have learnt, O merchant!' said I, 'that the eagle cannot fly with
the wings of the ostrich; and if I had not been fool enough to curl my
moustachios in a Kaïd's skin, I should not have deserved to have the
beard of my father's son laughed at; Sheik Ayoub Sebaïe is not ashamed
of his tribe, but in truth these Moors always measure a man by the size
of his turban, and I thought you would do the same. Allaw Ackbar! what
can I say more?'

"'Although I am a merchant,' said he, 'I don't measure a man with a
cloth cubit; come to-morrow in your own dress and I'll show you more,
that you have not seen. It is a little at a time, that the sheep gets
into the stew-pan.'

"I found that out in time, and by degrees I got accustomed to that
dress, and a dozen others, so that none could tell that I had not been
born in them.

"I'll tell you another time how I escaped from the town of Teradant with
the Kaïd's horse. But to go back to the merchant, I went the next day
dressed as I am now.

"'God be praised, Sheik Ayoub!' said he, 'now you are a true son of the
Desert, we shall be better friends.' (The slipper-counter did not stop
me this time.)

"He brought me to a sofa, and we ate and drank, and praised God; and
were as if we had been brought up in the same tent."

"And the pig! you did not eat that?" said Yusuf, laughing.

"God forbid!" said Ayoub, spitting on the ground. "I took an oath of him
before eating that there was none in the food; besides he had a Moslem
for a cook, and you know he would not touch it. Afterwards, he took me
on board his ship, and showed me wonderful things, clocks, and watches,
and guns without flints that never missed; matches to light without
fire, pictures and astrolabes, and all sorts of wonderful things, till I
got giddy with the motion of the ship, and we landed in a boat; I used
to go to his house every day, and when I had sold my ostrich-feathers
and gum from Soudan, and my camels were rested, and I was about to
depart, I thought he would have shed tears; he gave me presents of
gunpowder, and a cloth dress of blue, and fine tea, and this pair of
pistols; and then he rode on the way with me, two hours' journey. Then
he said, 'God be with thee, oh, my brother! and bring thee to thy tents
in peace. And now, I beseech thee, if peradventure any of my countrymen
should be shipwrecked on the Desert, or fall into the hands of thy
people, that thou wilt be kind to them, and befriend them for my sake.'
I promised by the bread and salt that was between us, and we parted, and
both went on our way sorrowful. How often I remember him, and pray that
his house may be prosperous, and that he may be enlightened!"

Here Ayoub rested his chin in his hand in a fit of abstraction, and to
recover his breath.

"Poor fellow!" he muttered, "yes, God is great. The English are good,
the English are to be trusted; are they not sons of Sultans, oh, why do
they eat pig? But now I remember, my friend, the merchant told me he
never ate pig, and his cook a Moslem, I don't believe he ever did eat
pig, Al hamdo l'Illah, I am sure the friend of Sheik Ayoub never ate
pig! Alla Illah!"

"Now tell me," said Yusuf, "where we halt to-night, for we appear to be
going the road I came?"

"True," said Ayoub, "we stop at the wells where the Cafila was
plundered. That was a clever foray of Ali el Bezz, he brought in a fine
booty without any loss; I wish he were with us, for, excepting Sidi
Hamed, there is not a better head, or a surer hand on an expedition,
between this and El Yemen."

The sun was casting its level rays against the Eastern sky when they
reached the rocks, the scene of the late attack. Here they all
bivouacked under the spangled canopy; there were two or three tents for
the chief and some of the sheiks; of these one was allotted to Yusuf and
his escort. After the horses were watered and picketed, Ayoub was sent
for to the chief's tent, and returned with an Arab, carrying jars of
milk, butter, dates, barley-cakes, and dried ostrich flesh, in strips.

"The chief sends you this poor supper," said Ayoub; "I told him flesh
was not lawful for you if you did not kill it; so here are two fowls,
you kill them according to your custom, and they are lawful to us; my
uncle's son here will cook them; we mount with the moon's rising."

The night was calm, and the fires were beginning to blaze around as the
Arabs collected in groups to cook their evening meal. Beyond the hum of
a multitude there was very little noise, and as Yusuf and his host sat
by their fire, in front of their tent, Yusuf reminded him of his promise
to recount his adventures in Teradant.

"Oh, Sheik!" he said, "your adventures are like the Thousand and One
Nights, when a man has heard one, lo, he asks for another."

"Bismillah!" said Ayoub, nothing loth to recount his exploits. "As you
say I have seen things; let me recollect, it was when I was employed
with the men of my tribe plundering the caravans and traders that
frequented the market of Teradant with produce and merchandise; for all
who did not pay us toll were not spared; have we not a right to custom
from goods passing our territories as well as the Sultan? and those who
did not pay for protection made no profit by their ventures. So, you
see, I had friends in the town who protected me for a share of the
booty, and who would not have been long on God's earth had they dared to
betray us; thus, O friend, I was in the habit of entering the town in
disguise to obtain intelligence of the movements of the merchants. One
of our friends kept a kebab-shop, where the sons of the town collected
of an evening to eat kebabs, and drink sherbet, and hear the news; he
made his force-meat of sheep's heads, and these when clean boiled were
piled up at the end of the room. I have seen there several thousands; we
formed a recess behind these with boards, communicating with the back
room by a small door; and here have I often been cooped up watching the
guests, and hearing all their plans and the value of their goods when
they little thought the sheep's skulls had eyes in them. Another was a
grain-merchant, and there I have been buried in barley up to my neck,
with a fanega measure with a hole in it over my head, and heard who was
going with money to the douars to buy grain. And, behold, were they not
astonished when Sheik Ayoub met them on the Sahel with the salutation of
peace, and asked one for the twenty pieces of gold that were in his
camel's saddle, and another for the three hundred ducats sewn up in the
right sleeve of his djilabea?

"One day riding with some of my band, a few miles from the town, I met a
horseman in a fine hayk, and green velvet coat.

"'Peace to you, O Abdallah,' said I, 'where is my lord going?'

"'To you, peace,' said he; 'I go to the douar to buy a sheep.'

"'Has my lord a pass from Sheik Ayoub?' said I.

"'Am I a trader to need a pass?' said he; 'I am a poor man.'

"'God is merciful, O Sheik!' said I; 'as you are a poor man I will only
take your nose-bag.'

"'The nose-bag of my horse!' said he, turning pale; 'know you not that
it is unlucky to part with that? I will redeem it; behold three dirhems,
the price of the sheep, take them.'

"'No,' said I; 'I must have the nose-bag.'

"'I will give you the hayk,' said he, 'or my caftan of cloth, for I fear
ill-luck to my horse.'

"'No, by Allah!' said I; 'I will not plunder a poor man, nothing but the
nose-bag: have I not sworn?' and I hooked it from his pommel with the
end of my gun. 'And now, Sheik Abdallah,' said I, 'follow me, your
nose-bag shall be restored, and no harm shall befall your horse.' Then
his face brightened, and he followed me joyfully. When we came to a
place among the trees where there was a surface of smooth sand, I
dismounted my men, and the horses being all tied up, I traced a circle
on the sand, and made the men all sit around, and thus I addressed the
unfortunate one:--

"'You wonder, perhaps, why I would only take from you your nose-bag--but
know, O Sheik Abdallah, that I am a man of a charitable disposition, but
possessed of no property except a ring, which once belonged to Allah ed
Deen; and as I was desirous of repairing the sanctuary of our patron
saint, and building a fountain for wayfarers, I rubbed the ring, when,
lo, one of the jinn, the slave of the ring, appeared, and stood before
me with his hands crossed on his breast, and his eyes looking on the
ground, saying,--

"'I hear and obey.'

"Then I said, 'I have need of fifty pieces of gold.'

"And he said, 'On the head and eyes;' and he disappeared for the space
that a feather might fall to the ground, and came back, saying, 'There
is not a piece of gold in the treasure-house of the jinn.'

"And I said, 'Woe unto thee.'

"But he said, 'Let not my lord be wroth, there is a remedy; let my lord
ride in the morning towards Teradant, and there shall meet him a man of
a handsome countenance wearing a green caftan, embroidered with gold,
and a filelly hayk, you will take from him nothing but the nose-bag of
his horse, and having put therein the ring, you will make a circle on
the ground, and lay it in the midst, covering it with a hayk, and
peradventure my lord's wishes will be accomplished.'

"My friend of the fine coat looked like the man who is going to the
bastinado, whilst I made my preparations. Then I sat down within the
circle, and put my hands under the hayk, and when I withdrew my hand,
lo, a piece of gold! and again I put in my hand, and lo, another piece
of gold! And the eyes of my Arabs were rounded, and their mouths open,
and they felt the pieces of gold to see if they were real, and behold,
they were bintekas of fine gold, and I ceased not to count until I had
counted fifty pieces of gold! Then I arose, and said, 'The jinn has
accomplished my desire, and now, O Sheik, I give thee a peçeta of five
dirhems for the use of thy nose-bag, take it, and go in peace, lest
ill-luck befall thy horse.' And the Moor's face was white, and his
features trembled, as though he had seen an Afreet, but my face was as a
deep well. Then he mused a little, and said, 'O Sheik! the slave of the
ring is no other than a woman. A woman betrayed our father Adam, on whom
be peace; and woman betrayed Suleiman the wise; and who are we that we
should escape?' so he mounted his horse and departed."

"And was he right in his guess, O Sheik?" said Yusuf.

"He was, and he was not," said Ayoub. "I will tell you how it happened;
Sheik Abdallah is a relation of the Kaïd of Teradant, and I had found
out that he was about to depart on a trading expedition to purchase gum
and ostrich-feathers; and as he was going alone, and taking no goods
with him for barter, I knew he must have sent money before, or would
carry it with him; he lived not far from the kebab-shop, and the houses
of Teradant being all flat-roofed, and the partition walls low, I have
frequently walked all over the town at night on the roofs. So one dark
night I went to the top of his house, and sat down, overlooking the room
where he was, on the opposite side of the court; it was hot, and he was
sitting in the gallery outside with his wife. There was a great deal
talked that did not concern me; at last his wife said, 'O my lord, when
do you go to Tafilelt?' and he answered, 'On such a day.' Then she
caressed him and said, 'The veils of Tafilelt are as fine muslins of
Ind; will not my lord buy one for his slave, that she may appear
honourable in the eyes of the women that go to the baths, and they will
say, "Behold, this is the wife of Abdallah the merchant!"'

"'O light of my eyes!' said he, 'have I any money to buy filelly hayks,
or fine clothes? I have none.'

"'False!' said she, 'are there not fifty pieces of gold that my lord
ordered me to sew into his horse's nose-bag?'

"Then he smote her on the mouth with his slipper, and said, 'Peace, O
unlucky! lest some of the slaves hear thee. Is that money mine? is it
not to pay for merchandise which I owe?'

"Well, as I had heard all I wanted to know, I left them to make up their
quarrel, and that is how the woman was the slave of the ring. Abdallah
the Moor, enraged by the loss of his money, complained to the Governor;
and a stricter watch than ever was kept to take me, and even a reward of
one hundred dirhems was proclaimed by the public crier, to any one who
would bring me bound before the Kaïd. Well, I laughed at all this, till
one unlucky morning I was going into the town, disguised as a Berebber
peasant, driving a donkey laden with firewood; and as other cattle were
going in and coming out, there was a crush, and I got enraged, and
cursed, forgetting to change my voice; and, behold, when I looked up,
Abdallah the Moor, sitting on his horse, waiting to go forth, and his
eyes were fixed on me like two coals in white rings. I had on a tattered
cloak, with a hood. I saw that he knew me, though he said nothing, and I
passed on, and went to my friend the cook's shop. Whilst I was debating
about leaving the town, my friend came to me with evil tidings: 'Knowest
thou, Sheik Ayoub,' said he, 'that thou hast been recognised by some
one, and search is made everywhere to take thee. The gates of the town
are closed, and guards set on the walls to prevent thy escape.'

"'God is great,' said I; 'was a panther or a bird ever kept in a cage
without a roof? May the Kaïd's beard be defiled! probably to-morrow, or
the day after, they will open the gates.'

"'This time,' said he, 'you are in danger. What had you to do to meddle
with the Kaïd or his relations? he is furious and vows vengeance against
any one that hides you; but we have eaten bread and salt together.'

"'God be praised!' said I, 'and we have eaten the money of the Sultan's
subjects together; and, moreover, is it not known that the man who
should betray Sheik Ayoub Sebaïe, he and his family would be made into
kebabs, and roasted in the flames of his own house?'

"'May evil eyes be averted!' said he, 'but know further that the Kaïd
has taken up his residence in the kiosk over the gate, and none can go
out without a pass from him.'

"'Has he so?' said I, as a thought struck me. 'God is merciful! then I
will go out by that gate. If it is written, he may repent of bringing
the lion to bay.'

"I knew that the Kaïd had a son, a boy of six years old, of whom he was
very fond, and from whom he never separated; and if I could find them
alone, my escape was secure, and the Kaïd's beard would be defiled.

"I remained hidden that day, and the next, hearing the search that was
being made for me; and the next evening, having received intelligence
that the people had dispersed from the audience, and that the Governor
was alone in the kiosk; about an hour before the evening prayer I
sallied out dressed as a Moor of the town, and reached the gate without
interruption, but in dread lest some of the soldiers lounging about
might recognise me. I sent one of the guards with a message to the Kaïd,
to say that I wished to give information regarding Sheik Ayoub, and
wanted a private interview. He soon returned, and I followed him to the
presence of the Kaïd. The latter was sitting on his mattress and
cushions, with his little boy by his side; he had a chess-board and
ivory pieces, and was trying to teach the game to the child; he was so
pre-occupied that he just looked up when I entered, and made a motion
for me to sit, which I did.

"'Father,' said the child, 'what is the use of the Roh?'

"'To protect the Sultan when in danger, my dear boy.'

"'And so,' said he, without taking his attention from the board, 'you
have brought intelligence of Ayoub El Rami; if you can help me catch
him, I will change his name to El Eshara' (the mark).

"'There!'--here he castled the king--'now the Shah is safe.'

"'And if the Shah can't move,' suggested the child, while I had
uncovered my head, and freed my hands for action.

"I could not help smiling at the security of the two, near one whom the
Kaïd might suppose his greatest enemy.

"'God be praised!' said the Kaïd, delighted at the precociousness of his
pet, 'you will soon be a master. If the Shah can't escape, it is Shah
Māt.'

"'But what have you, friend, to say to me? Where is this Shietan Ayoub
to be found?' Here he looked round, and found my eyes fixed upon him,
when it was amusing to see the change that came over his features, and
his terror at finding himself in such dangerous company. I was tempted
to echo his 'Shah Māt.'

"'You require information, O Kaïd,' I said, 'respecting Ayoub Ibn Yarib
Sebaïe, and I knew of no one more able to give it than _himself_; he
expected a more courteous reception than you lately promised him, but
having no desire to be your target, he intends to leave this place
unharmed.' Seeing me so quiet, his terror subsided, and he thought to
intrap me by cunning.

"'By the beard of the Prophet!' said he, 'I did not believe all these
accusations against you; I intend you no evil, I will give orders that
you be not molested, you may depart in peace.'

"'Is Sheik Ayoub a father of the ears?' said I; 'he is come to claim the
reward, and cannot leave my lord's roof empty-handed.'

"'Who are we,' said the Kaïd, beginning to chafe, 'that your father's
son should dare to come and spit on the beard of the Sultan's Khalifa?'

"I had played the fool long enough, and, seeing he was about to summon
assistance, I suddenly seized his arm, and placed a pistol to his
breast.

"'Mark me,' said I, 'the first call for help sends a ball through your
body;' and I swore an irrevocable oath. 'And now listen: I intend to
leave this town by the gate, and in safety; and to ensure this, I take
your child as a hostage. If I am not molested I will return him in
safety, but should I be pursued--' here I whispered in his ear, 'By
Allah, he dies! Now you are in my power, and let your head teach you
wisdom.'

"The Kaïd, seeing my determination, thought it better to submit;
fortunately the child, who was a little frightened at first, was docile;
and when his father reluctantly resigned him, unconscious of his danger,
he let me take him in my arms, thinking he was only going for a ride,
and coming back. I then went to the door and called out, 'Who waits?'

"'Your slave,' answered the guard from below.

"'The Governor commands you to bring his horse caparisoned to the gate,
and his gun.--Away! delay not!'

"'On my head and eyes be it,' said the soldier.

"As the horses were always kept ready saddled, I had not long to wait. I
could not help feeling for the old man, notwithstanding his ill-will.
When I was about to take away his boy, he would have bound himself by
any oath, rather than expose him to this peril, but I dared not trust
him. I took him to the balcony overlooking the plain, 'You sought my
life,' I said, 'but you are forgiven; and may you behave to me and mine,
should we fall into your power, as I behave to this child. Now behold
the sanctuary on the top of the nearest hill, when I reach that in peace
I will deliver the boy to the Marabt who keeps it; but, should you
rashly pursue me, his blood be on your own head, my hands are clean.'

"It is painful to see a man accustomed to command eat the bitter apple
of humiliation. I had brought him so low that I could almost have
trusted him, when the tears were in his eyes, as he kissed his child,
entreating me to be cool, and not influenced by any false alarm or
appearance of danger.

"'Allah! Allah!' he cried in anguish, 'if I lose my child, my power will
have cost me dear. May your journey be prosperous!' Then calling the
soldier he said, 'Go with my friend to the gate; he is going to the
sanctuary to pray for my son; let no man stay him, you have heard.'

"I went down with the child in my arms, and mounting the horse, a noble
animal he was, and taking the gun, which was also very valuable, across
the pommel, I rode deliberately out of the town, congratulating myself
on the success of my stratagem. The saint's tomb was about two miles
from the gates, and I considered that quite a sufficient start in case
of pursuit. As I rode slowly across the plain, I could see the Governor
walking up and down his balcony, and wishing to give him a severe
lesson, knowing he was watching my movements, I purposely stopped to
speak to every horseman I met on the road. At one time two horsemen came
galloping at full speed from the direction of the town,--they were only
exercising; but as I turned my horse's head towards them, I could
plainly see the old man wringing his hands in painful suspense; and as
they came near me, he sat down and hid his face in his hayk, whilst the
child was prattling away, and in the highest delight at his excursion.
And that is how Sheik Ayoub escaped from the town with the horse of the
Kaïd Abdallah Ibn Sadek; and now it is time to sleep, for we start with
the dawn."



CHAPTER XII.

AZORA.


The time allowed to Azora to give a definite answer to the Sultan's
proposal had quickly passed away. She had not been allowed much time for
preparation for the awful fate that menaced her in case of
non-compliance, on account of the intrusive officiousness of the inmates
of the hareem, who with childish kindness did all in their power to
alleviate her distress, which they attributed to her regret at leaving
her relations and friends; never for a moment imagining that she could
have courage to relinquish the pleasures of life, and brave death in its
most revolting shape, when it might be avoided by what appeared to them
so slight a sacrifice; and they already looked upon her as a future
companion. Some of the ladies of the hareem had handsome features which
the absence of expression rendered valueless. They were the fair faces
of women who are born, brought up, and die with scarcely (except in very
childhood) any communication with their kind,--whose whole world from
birth to death is comprised within three or four rooms with blank walls.
This sedentary existence is conducive to the obesity, which to Moorish
taste is considered the perfection of female beauty; and the women
adopt every means to encourage this natural tendency; one of these is
the same as the plan adopted with us for fattening turkeys. A paste
composed of new bread and oleaginous seeds, is formed into balls, the
size of a pigeon's egg, and a certain number of these are swallowed
whole, washed down with water; this is done daily until the required
standard of deformity is reached. The inmates of the Sultan's hareem had
the advantage of gardens, into which their rooms opened. These gardens
were planted with fruit-trees and vines on trellis; and in the centre of
the one they now looked on, was a basin and fountain, that threw its
spray on high and cooled the air, confined as it was within high walls.
One of the ladies was about Azora's own age, and had become very much
attached to her, she had claims to beauty of face and form, which the
fattening process, at her age, had not yet destroyed. Her black hair was
ornamented with pearls and beads of fine gold; her flashing eye was
brightened by the kohal, with which her lids were tinged; a latent smile
played round a mouth which should have been lovely; she was a creature
of mere life with no thought but for such trivial happiness as she might
snatch in her contracted sphere on earth, and for anything beyond,
probably never thought of it at all! She wore an embroidered green
velvet jacket, fitted to the form, and flowing muslin trousers, over
this dress was wound a fine hayk. Her name was Oom-el-Zin. While some of
them were swallowing balls, and others staining their feet and hands in
patterns with henna, or employed in other ways, Azora and her friend
wandered out, following one of the grape-walks, till they came to a
secluded bower formed by the foliage, and furnished with carpets and
cushions. Here they sat down.

"This day will seal my fate, O my sister!" said Azora, mournfully. Her
friend said nothing in reply, but her habitual smile forsook her now
sorrowful face, and tears stood in her eyes.

"Why are you so kind to me?" Azora continued, embracing her. "To part
from you will more embitter the cup that I must drink."

"Oh, say not you will leave me," said Oom-el-Zin, throwing her arms
around Azora, "you make me shudder when you talk of death, and yet I
begin to believe you are in earnest. But no! you can not--you dare
not--die!"

"The God of Israel will support me in death," said Azora, solemnly. "A
few short years, and who, of all those who now behold my doom, will be
alive to tell how died the Hebrew girl?--and shall I barter an eternity,
compared to which centuries are but as those glittering drops of water
to the firmament they mock, for power to drag out my few remaining years
in guilt and infamy? What can I not dare for the love of God, to whom I
owe all? and when His hand is heavy upon me, shall I not say, with the
Arabian patriarch--'The Lord hath given--the Lord hath taken--blessed be
the Lord.'"

"Talk not so, O dear, dear Azora! I would rather live out my life in a
prison, without the light of day, only I would not die. Oh, we will be
so happy here together! Oh, you cannot sacrifice yourself--you, so
young, so beautiful; you make me so miserable. Oh, live! and stay with
us." But in vain the tearful eye of the affectionate girl looked for a
kindred feeling in the face of the enthusiastic Jewess.

"Alas! for you, my dear girl," she said; "did you possess the hope of a
glorious future, you would not dread that which must, sooner or later,
come to all.--But lo! we are called. The hour is come."

They arose to return, as one of the women attendants had come to summon
Azora to the Sultan's presence.

"I almost distrust my own weak heart," she continued; "but the Lord of
Hosts is my strength, the God of Israel is my refuge."

Tenderly embracing her weeping and disconsolate companion, she
accompanied the messenger, and was conducted to the same apartment that
had been the scene of her previous trial.

The short period that had intervened--but which to her had been an age
of mental suffering--showed its influence on her frame; her pale cheeks
witnessed to the anguish that had preyed on her soul; but now they
flushed with a hectic glow, from the strong temporary excitement of her
position, and her beauty was not the less transcendent.

The Sultan was reclining on the cushions when she entered, but rose to
meet her.

"Welcome, O beautiful one!" said he; "how long to me has been the time,
deprived of your presence! If it has changed your resolution, I am
content. Come you now to enjoy with me life, happiness, and triumph,
or--" His brow darkened as she stood silent and motionless, and he could
perceive no signs of acquiescence. There was a pause.

"Finish, O my lord!" said Azora, at length, "'or death,' you would
say,--God's will be done!--Yet, O my lord!" and she threw herself at his
feet, "pause ere you pronounce my doom. Oh, throw not away the high
privilege of mercy. If in truth you loved me, could your tongue consign
me to death? Impossible! To torture? Oh, the thought is horrible! Save
me! O king, save me! though not for my sake, for your own, for the sake
of your undying fame. Oh, will you for a caprice forego the satisfaction
of doing a noble deed, and tarnish with blood the annals of a beneficent
reign? What will be said among the nations when it is known that the
Sultan Mulai Abd Er Rahman has shed the innocent blood of a woman? Oh,
be merciful, and spare me!"

The Sultan was moved by this appeal, seconded by her imploring action
and anguished face, but was too intent on his purpose to give way to
more than a passing emotion.

"Arise," he said, "why kneel to me; are you not the arbitress of your
own fate? 'Tis I that implore you to save yourself and have pity on me.
That I wish not your death, which is forfeit to the law, witness my
patience, and the efforts I have made to change your mad resolve. But
that I love you, rather would I see you die, than given to the arms of
another. What! shall I see a vile slave possess that which his sovereign
sued for in vain? But what is this strange infatuation? Oh, change but
your faith, and I will raise you from your base state, exposed to insult
and persecution, to be the favourite of a Sultan, with slaves to obey
your every wish--power to protect your friends--in short, all, all that
a king can offer, shall be yours! Why will you thus madly persist in
throwing away your life? Speak but the word--"

"All this, O my lord," said Azora, firmly, "shall not bribe me to betray
my God; I ask mercy, but I ask it unconditionally. What law have I
broken? what crime have I committed, for which to sue for pardon? yet
the mercy you offer is more cruel than your unjust sentence of death!
Were you a just king, my false accusers--for you know them false--would
ere this have paid the penalty of their perjury. I am in your power, and
may God help me! I will endure all you can inflict rather than save my
innocent life by a dishonourable and criminal compromise. But oh, how
shall this black deed sully the brightness of your reign to all
posterity! We shall meet again before the tribunal of the Lord of kings,
and before whom Sultans will tremble."

She had drawn herself up to her full height while thus speaking, and her
bosom heaving, and her eyes flashing with enthusiasm, she stood like an
inspired prophetess, but with a martyr's calm resolve. The Sultan had
thus far endeavoured to stifle his feelings, but now his rage became
ungovernable.

"It is thus, then, that you defy me," he said: "now hear the
alternative. If the thought is dreadful, how will you bear the reality?
How will you bear to be the gaze and scoff of a ruffian rabble--to be
stripped by the rude hands of the executioner? How will your delicate
frame bear the agony when thrown alive into the burning pile? Then, when
the hot fire slowly seizes on each writhing limb, and every scorched
nerve overwhelms your soul with agonising torments, then--when too late,
you will repent your refusal of my proffered mercy. Then--when too late,
you will wish to recall this lost opportunity, and your tender limbs
will fall a lifeless corse among the smouldering ashes. This is your
doom! I have said!"

With his face and frame agitated by his passion, and casting a malignant
look on the lovely but trembling girl, he rushed from the apartment.
Azora's heart sickened within her, as she listened, with suspended
breath, to the description of the torture that awaited her. It was a
fearful trial, and she had well-nigh sunk under it. Finding herself
alone, her firmness forsook her; she threw herself on the cushions, and
burst into an agony of tears, and convulsive sobs shook her frame; but
this was a luxury, compared to the horrible feeling that came over her,
when, after a time, she raised her deadly pale face, from which all
traces of tears had passed away, and remained with her eyes fixed on
vacancy, while an icy chill seemed to curdle her heart's blood, and a
tightness in the throat oppressed her almost to suffocation, as she
realized the appalling picture of an ignominious death thus presented to
her as the alternative of her resistance. Was it surprising that, at
such a trying moment, her existence suspended trembling on the verge of
the tomb, and failing nature standing terror-struck on the brink of the
awful abyss that separated her from eternity,--she, so young, should
shrink from taking the fatal plunge. Already was she beginning to parley
with conscience,--already was her resolution wavering, and the bright
crown of martyrdom, which seemed on the point of encircling her brow,
was ascending from whence it was offered, as the love of life, and the
enjoyments of the world, were resuming their dominion over her young
heart, when, suddenly, overcoming herself with an almost supernatural
effort, she fell on her knees, and poured out her anguished soul before
God, imploring Him to take the love of the world from her heart, and
strengthen her to support the trials that awaited her for her attachment
to her faith. The struggle was past, her prayer was heard. She arose
from her knees, a radiant smile lighting up her angel face, and she
could now calmly contemplate death, as a passage from her sufferings
here to everlasting life in the presence of her Redeemer.

A stranger, unacquainted with the peculiar character and customs of this
people, might naturally be disposed to ask, why the Sultan should be so
scrupulous in his conduct towards a Jewess, of a race, moreover,
described to be in a state of semi-servitude. It was exactly in the fact
of her being a Jewess, that the obstacles the Sultan had to contend with
lay.

If it had been possible that a Moorish woman could have made an
objection to becoming a Sultana, the same compulsion would have been
used, as is used in two-thirds of the marriages among them, in which the
parties have no previous knowledge of each other. Moorish women are only
too ready to become inmates of the Sultan's hareem. But in the case of a
Jewess, of a despised religion, the Sultan dare not avow his real
object. To have taken Azora, as a Jewess, would have raised a fanatical
insurrection. There is, moreover, among the higher classes of the Moors,
much of that chivalric spirit which distinguished them in Spain, if,
indeed, it is not of Arabian origin, and which invested woman with a
sacred character,--indeed the very word hareem implies sanctity. Again,
it is the policy of the Sultan to encourage the Jews, who alone of his
subjects engage in foreign commerce, from which he derives the greater
part of his revenue, and his only hold on them consists in the
protection afforded to their religion. Interfere with their observances
deliberately, and he is apprehensive of their abandoning these pursuits,
and endeavouring to remove their wealth from the country. So long as
Azora asserted her Jewish faith, he might take her life, but she was in
no danger of any other indignity; and it is probably owing to the
unswerving attachment of the Jews to their faith, even to martyrdom, and
its consequent want of success, that this false accusation is so rarely
resorted to. The enraged despot, incapable of admiring the heroic
fortitude of his helpless captive, was incensed beyond measure by the
failure of all his attempts to intimidate, or persuade her into
compliance. Vacillating between his passion and his fears, he was
tempted to violate the commands of the Koran, which forbids a Moslem to
marry an infidel; deterred, on the other hand, by the danger of the
experiment, especially at the present juncture, when the principal Arab
chiefs were in rebellion, and it behoved him to secure the fidelity of
his troops, whose attachment might be entirely alienated by any
sacrilegious breach of the laws of religion. As a last resource, he
determined to put in execution a plan he had often thought of in his
moments of rage and disappointment. He resolved to expose her to the
wild beasts, of which there were several in his menagerie; he doubted
not that her terror would then overcome what he considered her
obstinacy, and should this fail, her death was decreed. Among the wild
beasts was a magnificent lion, this animal was comparatively tame, being
kept well fed, and under his keeper's control. Trusting to his docility,
the keeper had ventured to lead him about the town by a rope, he had on
one occasion destroyed a child, and on another struck down and killed an
unfortunate donkey with one blow of his enormous paw, by way of
practice, and to show what he could do. It was to this enormous brute,
that the lovely and fragile girl was to be exposed, and the Sultan could
hardly believe that she would not at once embrace the Koran, to escape
the horrible fate of being torn to pieces. Moody and slow he took his
way to the M'Shouar, and ordered the keeper to attend and receive his
commands. Here he found the principal Wezeer, Talb Jelool, who, after
the usual obeisance, informed him that he had matters of importance to
communicate. The Sultan took his seat, and gave his acquiescence with an
emphatic "Bism' Illah." And the Wezeer producing his papers, sat at the
foot of the carpet, and, waving his hand to the attendants, they
immediately withdrew.

"May my lord's throne be exalted!" he said. "I have heard that the Arabs
are marching northward; they have already passed through Suse and Draha,
and menace the province of Rahamna; and behold here is a letter from the
Kaïd of Teradant, which I will read to my lord the Sultan.

"'Praise be to the one God. To the great and mighty lord, the Khalifa of
the Prophet, &c., &c., Mulai Abd Er Rahman, from his slave Abdallah Ibn
Sadek, governor of Teradant. Be it known to my lord, that his rebel
slave, Hamed Ibn Ishem, at the head of the tribes of Abu Sebah, Tuwat,
Al Harib, and others, amounting to about ten thousand Arabs, have
entered and overrun the province of Suse, carrying off flocks and
camels, and levying tribute in the realm of our sovereign lord. Having
only fifty horsemen, besides the militia of the town, my lord's servant
was unable to take the field, against such large forces, and would
humbly urge the necessity of sending a body of the black troops to stop
their further depredations, and protect this town, the walls of which
are not strong enough to keep the enemy out, should they attack it.
Peace! This 10th day of Saffer, 1248.'"

The Sultan could hardly keep patience during the perusal of this letter.
"And has the slave dared," said he, "to attack our territories, as well
as refuse us tribute? By the holy Prophet's tomb, the death of every dog
of his tribe would ill atone for such an insult. Summon the Berebber
tribes of the mountains. Send troops to the assistance of the Kaïd of
Teradant! And as soon as we are in a position to take the field, we will
scatter their hordes, and drive the remnants to their barren sands."

A soldier here entered, and prostrating himself, rose for permission to
speak, and then said, "May it please my lord, the keeper of the wild
beasts is in attendance."

"Let him appear," said the Sultan.

And he was immediately dragged in by two soldiers, who threw him
violently on his face, and then allowing him to rise to his knees, left
him to receive his orders. The keeper of the wild beasts was a Jew, for
the Moors say, although they do not believe it, that a lion is of too
noble a nature to injure a Jew. He was a brutal-looking fellow, with a
cast in his eye,--this had procured him the name of Ain ed Djin, or
"Demon-eye;" he was short and square, with a stunted grey beard, he wore
the black cap, but had put on a white cloak, and had also fortified
himself with copious libations of brandy to appear before the Sultan.

"Have you obeyed my orders, dog?" demanded the Sultan.

"May my lord live for ever!" said Demon-eye, "the lion has been without
food nearly four-and-twenty hours, which (may my lord be preserved!) is
a long fast, seeing he was accustomed to two sheep daily. If my lord
(may he be exalted!) had seen him the other day knock down the donkey,
and suck its blood, and afterwards crunch its bones, with as much ease
as my lord (exalted of God) would a roasted quail." He had got thus far,
with a grin of delight and intoxication on his inhuman countenance.

"Peace, infidel dog!" thundered the Sultan, "lest you forthwith share
the same fate. Have we nought better to occupy us but to listen to thy
misbegotten speech? I would fain try the truth of the proverb on thy
vile carcase, and see whether a lion will eat a Jew. Keep the lion
fasting, and have him taken to-morrow to the old Serai, inside the south
wall."

"My lord shall be obeyed," said Ain ed Djin, in whom the first part of
the Sultan's speech had caused a shudder, regaining his assurance, he
continued, "When he has fasted forty-eight hours, he will give my lord
(whose throne be exalted) satisfaction, and a fat infidel will be to him
as a pistachio nut."

"Slave! Son of a cursed race," exclaimed the Sultan, "what dog's son art
thou, that darest to pollute our ears with thy drunken words? Ho! the
guards!" and making a sign to them as they entered, Demon-eye was seized
and dragged out, perfectly sobered, and was soon taught by a severe and
well-merited bastinado, administered with the leather thongs the
soldiers wear for the purpose, to be more chary of his words in future;
and when he arose writhing from his stripes, he was glad to make his
escape and execute his orders.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE FALCON'S SWOOP.


It is very painful to record the fearful trials of this innocent and
helpless girl, but truth demands it; and I indulge a hope, that, by
drawing attention to the facts, I may enlist the sympathy of those who
may have the power, and will exert their influence, for the amelioration
of the condition of an unprotected race, and perhaps avert future
similar outrages on our common humanity.

This new project of the Sultan soon became known through the town, and
affected, with surprise and consternation, the friends who were working
for Azora's deliverance. Ali had already some five-and-twenty of his
followers in the town; these had introduced themselves as country Arabs
with wood, vegetables, or fruit, for sale, while their horses were led
by others personating horse-dealers. It is true that all strangers on
entering the town were obliged to leave their guns at the gate with the
guard till their exit; but this they evaded by carrying a second Moorish
gun, while their own shorter pieces were smuggled in, in the loads or
otherwise. Ali, however, did not feel himself strong enough for a
_coup-de-main_, and was waiting anxiously for the chief, who, while his
main body were plundering the provinces, was on his way with a chosen
band, with the intention of carrying a foray to the very gates of
Marocco, as well to intimidate his enemies as to aid at the same time,
whether by stratagem or open force, in the redemption of his Pledge.

Ain ed Djin, a Jew himself, had informed Rachel and Ali, who had met him
by appointment, of his orders, but could do nothing to help them. I will
draw a veil over the sufferings of Azora's afflicted mother. Ali el Bezz
was almost at his wits' end, not but that he would have destroyed every
wild beast in the town rather than fail in his trust, but caution was
absolutely necessary.

"Could you not poison this lion, O Jew?" said he.

"Doubtless, O Sheik!" said Demon-eye: "but there are three others."

"What will kill one will kill four," said Ali.

"And that is true, O my lord," said Demon-eye, "but then there are the
panthers! O Sheik, look at these stripes upon my back. If one lion died,
would here be still any skin remaining? If more lions died, how long
would the Jew be alive? My head is not so beautiful as that of Rachel's
daughter, but it is as useful to me; and, Inshallah, I mean to keep it.
Besides, O Sheik!" and here his brutal face softened, "I love my lions,
and Nasser is a king of lions, and he knows me. You Arabs love your
horses."

A chord in the Arab's bosom vibrated in unison to the feeling in the
breast of the Jew, and called up reminiscences, as it were the flash of
light upon a picture; he was for a moment absent, and then his eyes
beamed mildly on the degraded Jew, on whom he had previously looked with
disgust. "God is great!" said Ali. "But where is this to take place, for
I must find other means?"

"There is an old fondak," said Demon-eye, "about three hundred yards
from the Rahamna gate; it is now seldom used, except when a cafila of
black slaves comes in."

The Arab's face brightened. "It has a gate studded with iron, half
open," said Ali hastily; "there is a mulberry-tree in the open space in
front, and you can just see the top of the Kitibea above the houses.
There is a water fountain under the mulberry-tree."

"You know it, O Sheik!" said Ain ed Djin. "But I hope the Rabbi's
daughter will not be obstinate; better be a Moslem than eaten by a lion.
I have seen these things before, but it never came to blood, for none
can look on the face of a lion, with his eyes fixed on them, and no bars
between, and not tremble and submit. I will delay to the last, to-morrow
afternoon."

Ali had been ruminating, and heard little more than the end of this
speech.

"O woman!" he said to Rachel, with a countenance which gave assurance to
his words; "be of good cheer, God is merciful, your daughter is safe!"

The building above mentioned, and which was the same visited by Ali on
his entrance into the town, related in a former chapter, was the arena
chosen for the forthcoming ordeal. Around the centre court a massive
colonnade, connected by Gothic arches, supported a roofed gallery,
running above the building below; the aisles, formed by the pillars, had
originally been divided into small arched rooms, intended for shops for
merchants; most of these were now in ruins. The two ends were open, and
at the end opposite the gateway, a double row of columns formed a deep
recess under the gallery. The court-yard, long neglected, was overgrown
here and there with brushwood and brambles. To this place, on the
following day, Ain ed Djin removed his favourite Nasser; his heavy cage
was placed upon a low truck, and dragged by a number of Jews pressed
into the service. Unaccustomed to this mode of conveyance, and half
famished, the lion made the crowd tremble with tremendous roars. He was
at length safely lodged in a corner of the court-yard near the gate, and
a cord fastened to the sliding door of the cage was carried to the
gallery above.

It was late in the afternoon when the Sultan's cortege arrived: this was
a signal for the crowd to disperse, their movements being accelerated by
the sticks of the guards, and only a limited number of the more
respectable people were admitted.

Azora in the meantime had been brought to the place in a covered litter
in a state of mind impossible to describe, helpless, hopeless, wishing
for death to relieve her from her misery. Passing through a crowded part
of the bazaars, a ray of hope seemed to gleam upon her, as she heard a
voice call out, "Is the black horse ready?" and the reply, "All is
safe." It was an assurance that her friends were watchful; but nothing
else occurred until she reached her destination.

A canopied seat had been prepared for the Sultan over the gateway
within, and here he took his place surrounded by his officers and
guards, while Azora was conducted to the end of the court-yard, and left
standing in the recess under the colonnade. As the attendants left her,
one of them loitered a minute and whispered, "Fear not, the lion shall
not hurt you!" an assurance which could not affect her conviction that
nothing short of a miracle could save her if the lion was let loose, and
this attempt to raise in her heart a hope impossible of realization was
only an aggravation of her sufferings.

One of the scribes in the Sultan's gallery now rose, and in a monotonous
voice, as if repeating a lesson, said, "O woman, thou who hast
apostatized from the faith of Islam, which thou didst acknowledge art
thou ready to submit to the mercy of our lord the Khalifa, and make the
profession, 'There is no God but God, and Mohammed is the Prophet of
God?' Behold the lion is ready to be let loose to destroy the
unbeliever." Here the deep, thundrous growling of the impatient animal
came from the cage, to add emphasis to the exhortation of the Taleb.

The Sultan watched Azora eagerly to detect any sign of her wavering and
appealing to his protection, but no indication of any change in her
resolve met his eye. She stood absorbed, her hands clasped before her,
and her eyes fixed on the ground. Suddenly rousing herself as she heard
the blasphemy imputed to her, the spirit of the martyr became strong
within her, she stood erect in her enthusiasm, and a halo of glory
seemed visibly to surround her, as looking up with one hand aloft and
the other pressed to her bosom, she exclaimed,--

"The Lord he is the God! The Lord he is the God!"

"Let loose the lion!" said the Sultan; and the door of the den was drawn
up.

There was a dead silence. The lion first put his huge head cautiously
forward, and looked about, but seeming ashamed of his fear he stepped
boldly out and walked majestically to the middle of the space; here
shaking out his mane to double its volume, he stood still,--a
magnificent monster; then he looked slowly all round until his deadly
eyes rested on the fragile girl. All held their breath, while the blood
ran cold to every man's heart at this fearful sight.

Poor Azora, though prepared for the worst, seeing herself almost within
the grasp of this powerful and merciless brute, now frowning fiercely
upon her, shook with a pang of terror, which the bravest man must have
felt in her position. It could not shake her resolve of dying for her
faith, but she mentally prayed to that God who had delivered the prophet
from the lions, to aid her in her extremity. The lion at first appeared
surprised at being offered a prey, to whose species he had been so long
subject. He stood glaring on the unfortunate girl and lashing his sides
with his tail, when his instinct suggesting to him that some cunning was
necessary to secure his victim, he walked away, apparently regardless of
her presence, until hid from her by one of the large columns among the
ruins, when, taking advantage of its concealment, he turned short round,
and, creeping a few paces, uttered a tremendous roar, and sprang with a
terrific bound towards his intended victim. A cry of horror burst
involuntarily from all who witnessed this inhuman scene!

Azora's nature was no longer able to bear up against the horrors of her
situation; drawing her hands convulsively to her bosom, her eyes
distended, and shrinking instinctively from his fatal spring she sunk
senseless and fainting to the earth. It was the work of a moment; but
before the lion reached her a double shot had sent two balls through his
body, and the noble animal rolled over within five yards of her, pierced
to the heart, and in the agonies of death. A natural feeling of relief
came over the spectators notwithstanding their fanaticism, and they were
probably not displeased at the change of victims; but the Sultan could
not contain his rage at this unexpected and daring interposition.

"Seize the traitor!" he shouted. "Five hundred gold pieces for the man
who fired the shot!"

And the crowd poured in at the gate, some to search for the offender,
and some to look at the dying lion.

Among these was poor Ain ed Djin, who sat down and took the enormous
head of his pet on his knees till it had ceased to breathe. He made a
shrewd guess at the author of his death, but though he loved the lion,
his attachment to his race was paramount, and there was no danger of his
betraying him.

Azora, as soon as she was restored, was sent back in the litter in which
she came. The Sultan was convinced that his experiment was a complete
failure, and, not prepared to carry further so illegal a mode of
procedure, resolved to hand her over to the sentence of the law.

The parties searching the court-yard were attracted by a cloud of smoke
resting on one of the thickets, and on searching the spot they
discovered the well; and near its mouth they found a double gun, its
butt on the ground, and the barrel resting on a forked stick planted in
the earth, with a string attached to the triggers, and passing out into
the court-yard. "El Aarb" (an Arab) passed from mouth to mouth, for they
alone use double guns. A man now descended the well, but reported no
egress, a mass of rock blocking up the passage into the underground
canal. All these circumstances went to prove that the animal had been
killed by a spring gun. This was reported to the Sultan as the fact,
with which he was fain to be satisfied for the present. There was one in
attendance, however, who was not so easily satisfied about the
catastrophe of the lion's death as the Sultan; this was Abdslem: he and
Hassan had not been so long plotting together without being acquainted
with each other's secrets, and it was perfectly plain to him that the
passage to the well had been made use of for bringing about the
termination to the scene they had just witnessed. He knew of Hassan's
repentance, and who but he was interested in saving Azora, and who else
was acquainted with the passage? He had no doubt in his mind but that
Hassan was the culprit, and his belief was confirmed on looking round
and finding that he was absent. They had latterly avoided each other,
but Abdslem's cupidity was excited by the offered reward of the Sultan;
and while all were searching or busy on the spot, he quitted the fondak
alone, and made his way to the town gate with the intention of
intercepting Hassan at the pit outside the walls.

Hassan, who had been horrified at the ordeal he heard was preparing for
Azora, had remained at home, but at length unable to restrain his
anxiety with respect to the success of Ali's project for her
deliverance, he had wandered away outside the town; and soon after
arriving near the fosse he heard the report of the Arab's gun, and he
retired and sat down under a tree to wait for him. A quarter of an hour
had passed and Ali came not, but presently hearing some one approach he
turned round, and saw it was his former ally Abdslem; this alarmed
Hassan on Ali's account, but before he could decide on the mode of
getting rid of him, Abdslem addressed him,--

"We have travelled that road before together."

"What road, O unwelcome one?" said Hassan.

"Underground," said Abdslem, jeeringly.

"Where you will soon be, O evil-eyed one, if you do not go whence you
came. I know not what you talk of."

"How should you, O poor man?" said Abdslem; "you know nothing of the
wonderful case in the fondak? You cannot shoot lions; we do not know the
well; and here you are taken in the fact?"

Hassan's eye was beginning to glow.

"Wilt thou not go thy ways, O accursed one? I want not thy company."

"I know it, O darweesh!" said Abdslem, "but I want yours. In the name of
the Sultan I summon you. Follow me."

"Ha! ha! the Sultan! O son of a black father, go! Return--I follow not a
slave."

Abdslem derived courage from the knowledge that if he killed Hassan, he
would not only be justified but rewarded. He therefore advanced upon
him, saying,--

"Come you must; it is the Sultan's command."

Hassan had sprung to his feet, Abdslem rushed upon him, and a struggle
ensued; Abdslem was the stronger man, and coming prepared, his dagger
was first in his hand, and after a short struggle both came to the
ground, Hassan under.

"Will you surrender?" said Abdslem, holding down Hassan's dagger hand,
while he raised his own to strike.

"Never!" grinned Hassan, glaring upon him and catching his uplifted arm.

Abdslem's whole attention was engaged in the struggle, and he was thus
prevented from noticing the presence of Ali el Bezz, who during this
time had emerged from the pit and approached them. But what was his
dismay on hearing a voice repeat the warning of the Duquela gate,
"Beware the Falcon's swoop!" and looking up terror-struck, he met the
stern glance of his former prisoner, who stood over him, and before he
could recover from his surprise Ali's ataghan was buried in his throat.

As Abdslem fell, Hassan arose.

"May you be rewarded, O my friend!" he said. "The slave was too strong
for me; but Azora--is she saved?"

"Saved!" said Ali; "the lion is dead, and the Sultan's beard is
defiled."

"And suppose the pan had flashed," said Hassan, with a shudder.

"Both shots would not have failed; the worst is, I have lost an old
friend, for I was forced to leave my good gun, to deceive the Sultan's
slipper-hunters."

"But," said Hassan, "why did you delay, they will find the well, and you
will be pursued?"

"Dost thou see Sheik Ali's ears growing," he said, "that I should lock
the door and give my enemy the key? Before I took my station I had
filled up the passage with the exception of space for me to pass, and a
big rock was loosened ready to shut that, so I waited when all was done
to see if they intended to open the way. But, no! one came down--I could
have touched him through the crevices, and he shouts, 'There is no
passage; the rocks of creation are here; it is a trap gun.' Oh, that
Moslems should be such fools; may their houses be desolate!"

"God is wonderful," said Hassan, "and this lying witness, is he not
accursed? But stop! if I go now, and retract my perjury, there will be
no witness against her."

"I see not, O friend, how that can help her, they have the writing
sworn. But what think you the Sultan cares for your witness? his will is
law."

"No! he dare not," said Hassan, "the witnesses must be present, or her
blood will be on the people."

"Trust it not; the eagle wants no witness against the dove; but what
shall we do with this?" said Ali, pointing to the body.

"Cast him into the pit," said Hassan, "he may be wanted, and I can find
him; he knew the road before, this is the last time he will use it;"
and taking him between them they swung him over the side, and the body
went crashing through the boughs to the bottom of the pit.

It was now getting late, and Ali promising to meet Hassan at his house
after dark, they parted.



CHAPTER XIV.

RETRIBUTION.


Hassan returned to his home, a prey to remorse. Azora had escaped this
time, but the final scene awaited her. Men's motives are of a mixed
nature, and difficult to analyse. I do not assume that he was solely
moved by the stings of conscience, or that he had any great horror of
perjury in the abstract; but, however the customs of a country may
modify the modes of expressing the feelings, and of acting under their
guidance, there is no doubt that he entertained for Azora a pure and
ardent love. Prompted by his false friend and urged on by his passion,
he had adopted the only course which appeared to him capable of
compassing his end, without calculating the obstacles which might arise,
and which he could not foresee, and when the full view of the
consequences of his act was forced upon him he was appalled. Not only to
lose one he loved so deeply, but to feel that he, who would willingly
have sacrificed his life for her, had been the means of bringing her to
an awful and cruel death; it was more than his mind could bear. Azora's
forgiveness was no relief to him in the bitterness of his grief; the
more he felt the innocence and purity of her nature, the deeper he felt
the enormity of his own guilt, in devoting such an angel to destruction;
reproaches, even curses, he could have borne, her gentleness and
forgiveness were intolerable.

To-night, as he entered his dwelling, he felt a gloomy foreboding, as if
some heavy retribution were hanging over him. His little sister,--a
bright creature with hazel eyes and a laughing face,--ran to meet him.
The care of this child had devolved upon him since the death of his
parents, and she was now coming to the age when her playful and
affectionate manners began to reward him for his care and protection;
his little darling sprang joyfully into his arms, and kissed his cold
lips; he clasped her to his breast, and felt a transient feeling of
relief.

"Oh, how happy we might have been," he said, half aloud,--"lost!--lost!"
and the conviction of his misery overpowered every other sensation. He
smoothed back the silken tresses from her fair forehead, and gazed on
her sweet face, talking almost involuntarily. "Once I was like
you,--innocent,--but now--"

"Are you ill, brother dear?" said the child, putting its arms round his
neck. "Brother, don't play with me, but brother is pale,--not well, and
I don't want to play. If you are sick, I shall cry all night."

"No, love," said Hassan, shrinking from her innocent scrutiny, "I am not
sick, but very tired; and now it is time for you to go to bed; is it not
late?"

The child allowed itself to be put to bed quietly, in the adjoining
room, the door of which was left ajar, that Hassan might hear if she
wanted anything during the night. He was now alone, he tried in vain to
make light of the weight, and cast off the gloom which oppressed his
spirits, and he sat with his hands pressed to his forehead harrowed with
inward suffering; presently a ghastly smile overspread his features, as
a horrible thought presented itself to his mind, and he drew his dagger
with a convulsive start. "Thus, then, I can escape this load of misery,"
said he, gazing at its keen tapering point. "Why should man live and
suffer with such an antidote as this?--But stop! will not this add
another crime to my account? And I may yet be of service to Azora. O
Azora, Azora! what woe has not your love brought upon me? And alas! upon
you. And who, when I am gone, will take care of this sweet child?" As
these thoughts succeeded each other, his resolution gradually gave way,
and with a shudder he hurled the weapon of death to the other end of the
room. A shrill, prolonged scream of infant agony instantly burst on his
ears; and as he sprang aghast to the spot, his little sister fell
writhing at his feet transfixed by the deadly steel. The child had been
impressed with the idea that her brother was ill; and when she heard him
talking to himself, and so uneasy, with child-like curiosity she crept
quietly from her bed, and had just entered the half-open door, when she
was struck by the fatal dagger, and fell deluged in blood.

Hassan remained fixed to the spot, paralysed with horror, his eyes
starting from their sockets, his mouth open, his hands clenched, a
petrified image of despair. For some minutes he seemed not to breathe;
presently he dropped on his knees, he raised the child's head, and
pressed his lips to hers; the blood oozed from the pressure and ran a
crimson stream down her neck, staining her silken hair; his lips were
damp with her blood; his brain, already shaken, could no longer bear up
against the shock, gasping for breath he fell senseless on the floor.
Gradually, after some time, sensation returned, but when it did, his
reason had left him. He sat up, and looked round the room with a vacant
stare, till his eye rested on the body of the child; this recalled the
lost thread of his thoughts; snatching the dagger from the wound, he
sprang to his feet with a heart-freezing yell, as he brandished it
aloft.

"Ha! ha! ha! fiends, are ye content? No! I come! I come! Shower down
upon me the burning rafters of hell!--O Azora, you are avenged! God, how
my heart burns, it is like a ball of fire in my bosom, and this
red-tempered steel will fuse, ere it pierce it. Lo, I come!"

His hand was already raised to accomplish his purpose, when Ali, who had
just entered, rushed forward and wrenched the dagger from his grasp, in
doing which he stumbled against the child.

"Hassan! what mean you? Whose work is this? Are you mad?"

Hassan sprang frantically forward--

"Mad, did you say?" he yelled; "mad! aye, mad! mad! mad!" and he dashed
himself on the earth and howled hideously in a paroxysm of fury. Ali
perceived at once that his reason had given way, and supposed that he
had destroyed his sister in the blindness of his rage. Leaving him to
exhaust himself where he lay, Ali removed the body to the adjoining
room, and having washed away the stains from the floor, he sat down to
consider the best course to adopt to prevent harm to Hassan or himself
on account of the crime of the former. He was fearful of exciting Hassan
by asking an explanation; but from this he was saved by Hassan himself,
who now rose slowly from the ground, and looked with a long searching
glance round the room. His appearance was frightful; his turban had
fallen off, exposing his shaven head; his pallid face, stained with
blood, contrasted with his black moustaches and glittering eyes; the
veins in his neck and temples were swollen to bursting,--his whole face
distorted. The stout heart of the Arab could not divest him of a
superstitious misgiving, as he looked on the figure of his friend; he,
lately so calm, now the prey of insanity.

Hassan pressed his hands to his eyes, to try and realise the past, and
then stood wreathing and winding his fingers together.

"Horrid dream! what art thou?" he said, in a hollow voice, and turning
to Ali, "O Moslem, let me remember; yes, she is safe. O Azora, thou art
safe! Methought I returned home--home? My destiny was darkened--clouds
and darkness were over me. Methought my little darling flew into my
arms--I kissed her. Ha! again! is it blood? No! no! I dream still! I
laid her in her bed--she sleeps--no noise--she sleeps! I laid my burning
brow on the table; I thought it would have burnt into it. When I lifted
my eyes, Iblis stood before me. My dagger was in my hand. 'Strike!' he
said." Here Hassan twisted his hands more eagerly, and his whole frame
was trembling. "The keen blade glittered like a lambent moonbeam; I
sprang to my feet. Satan avaunt! I cast it from me. Ha! what do I hear?
the demoniac laugh of the retreating fiend, and the agonized cry of my
murdered child. There she is, see, at my feet--bleeding--dead!"

Large drops followed one another down the brow and face of Hassan, but
he was deadly calm, and seemed to repeat the words from memory, but to
have no feeling of their meaning.

Ali, finding he did not relapse, took advantage of the pause to soothe
his spirits and divert his thoughts--it was needless. His memory just
recollected the bare outline of the scene, but without consciousness,
and he did not even ask for his sister.

"God has smitten the oppressors of the innocent," muttered Ali, while
Hassan fell into an apathetic stupor; reaction of the violent emotions
which had so shaken him. Ali had now to consider what was best to be
done; Hassan could no further co-operate with him, and for him to
present himself to the authorities under any circumstances would ensure
his destruction. Ali wrote on a piece of paper, "Hassan Ibn Ibrahim,
possessed with an evil spirit, slew his sister," and after removing
Hassan's dagger, and everything he might make use of to injure himself,
he took the child's body, and, during the night, left it with the billet
at the gate of the Cadi, knowing that, when discovered in the morning,
inquiry would be made, the truth be apparent, and the affair hushed up.



CHAPTER XV.

THE PLEDGE REDEEMED.


As soon as they arrived at the cultivated districts, which they did by
rapid marches, the Arabs spread themselves over the country, plundering
in all directions. For this purpose they dispersed by tribes, the whole
body uniting for the night at a rendezvous previously fixed upon. The
peasants fled everywhere on their approach, securing what property they
had time to remove, into the towns and walled villages. These, the Arabs
being all horsemen, left unmolested. They carried off all the grain that
could be discovered, and even reaped what was on the ground, compelling
the peasants to assist in threshing it out; they also gathered the dates
from the trees. Their plunder was loaded on camels and mules, seized on
their route. Wherever they bivouacked, their horses were picketed in the
standing corn, and very soon changed their appearance from the bony,
game-looking animals that they were at starting, to rounded, sleek
chargers. The cultivated tracts they passed over were left as if a swarm
of locusts had swept over the land. After issuing the necessary orders
to the Sheiks left in command, and directing their course on the
province of Rahamna, Sheik Hamed selected five hundred of his best
horsemen, and started by forced marches for Marocco, having received an
urgent message from Ali that no time was to be lost if he wished to be
assured of redeeming his word. About fifty miles south of the city, the
Chief knew that he would find a tribe of Arabs, who, although settled in
the province, kept up a friendly intercourse with the original desert
stock. From the douar of this tribe, he could march by a straight course
much faster than any messenger who might be on his way to give notice of
their approach; and by avoiding any molestation of the peasants on the
march, through a sparsely populated and thickly-wooded country, very
little alarm would be excited. It was the day before the execution that
the Chief arrived at this place, called Ras el Ain, early in the
morning. He did not inform his hosts of the object of his visit, but as
rumours of the irruption of the tribes had reached even to Marocco, they
were supposed to be a reconnoitring party. After resting all day,
hospitably entertained by the tribe, the Chief called to horse at
sunset, and made a night march of forty miles, stopping in the woods,
within ten miles of the town, where were some springs, among masses of
rock. The forest trees were high, and interspersed with glades; but in a
place so utterly unfrequented, that any number of horsemen might have
been easily concealed. By travelling single file from this spot, the
band could debouch on the plain within two miles of the gates of the
town. Yusuf was sent on at once from here, to apprise Rachel of the
approaching succour, as, whether the plans of the Chief succeeded or
failed, it would not be safe for either of them to remain within the
Sultan's power; they were therefore to repair to this place, where one
hundred horsemen would be left in reserve. Yusuf was also to communicate
with Ali, who was waiting impatiently for tidings of the Chief. In case
of his failing to arrive, Ali would certainly have attempted the rescue,
with his small band; but then there was the danger of being pursued by
the Moors, who would have been encouraged by the weakness of his
numbers, whereas, against a larger force, they would not venture to
leave the protection of their walls, until after tedious preparation and
the collection of an army.

The day appointed for the accomplishing of the martyrdom of Azora had
arrived. The Sultan was sitting in the M'Shouar, attended by his guards,
while on carpets near him sat the Wezeer and scribes,--one of these was
preparing the warrant of execution for the Sultan's seal. The order set
forth that she was to be taken outside the gates, at the hour of mid-day
prayer, and to be burnt alive at the stake as an apostate from the faith
of Islam. The audience-hall, which was supported by pillars, opened in
front on a large public place, to which the people had access, and here
a considerable crowd was collected, attracted by the novelty of the
case. As a mob, they were eager for the excitement of an execution;
this, in the present instance, was enhanced by their fanaticism, and
they looked forward to the burning of an infidel with peculiar
gratification. The crowd, however, maintained a respectful distance, and
any breach of order brought on them an indiscriminate shower of blows
from the sticks of the black soldiers. Those who came on business of
importance, or had causes to be heard, were allowed to enter the hall,
one at a time. While the preliminaries of this judicial murder were
being effected, there was a movement among the crowd, and a man, in a
hooded burnoose, walked slowly into the audience-hall; he held a staff
in his hand, and from his wrist hung, by a thong, a mace headed by an
iron ball, studded with spikes, such as is often carried by mendicant
fakeers.

"What is his business?" said the Sultan, as he stood before him.

The stranger allowed the hood of his cloak to fall from his head, and
discovered the pale, wild features of Hassan. He fixed his eyes,
glittering with the fire of insanity, on the Sultan.

"Dost thou know me?" said he, slowly, whilst all present trembled for
his life, "I am Hassan Ibn Ibrahim: but where is my father? He died in
the tyrant's prison. Where is my father's house? I--I alone, remain, and
I care not how soon you send me to their graves: but first I have an
errand. Hear, O Moslemin!" he said, raising his voice, "I come here to
confess my perjury. That woman, that child of God, that you are here
assembled to murder, is innocent--I (may I be accursed!) accused her
falsely. I retract--I demand her freedom. Let the law judge my crime."

Maniacs are looked upon by the Moors with reverential awe, and allowed
to roam at large. They are believed to be possessed by spirits, by whose
inspiration they speak. The Sultan quailed under the gaze of the madman;
but, though boiling with rage at being thus thwarted in his sanguinary
purpose, he controlled himself; and, more to justify himself to the
people, than supposing the maniac could understand him, he said,
mildly,--

"It is too late; your accusation was written and sworn: and supposing
you were guilty of perjury, as you say, but which is to be doubted, yet
the other witness maintaining his word, your present falsehood is
useless."

The maniac's features worked wildly, and his eyes flashed, while the
Sultan was speaking. The mildness of his reception had inspired him with
greater boldness.

"Ha! ha! ha!" he yelled. "Iblis whispered me this, and told me to come
prepared."

He threw open his cloak, and produced a bundle, enveloped in the
embroidered scarf lately given by the Sultan to Abdslem.

"Dost thou know that scarf?" he continued, "did it not belong to the
false witness? And if he does not admit himself a perjured slave and
confess the innocence of Azora, his accursed tongue will never again say
that she is guilty.--Behold!" and unrolling the scarf with a jerk, the
ghastly head of Abdslem fell on the Sultan's carpet.

The eyes of the maniac literally blazed with rapture, on beholding the
effect he had produced, he ground his teeth, and the foam flew from his
mouth.

"There!--there!" he shouted, rushing towards the Sultan, then suddenly
stopping and pointing to it with his staff--"ask him--behold your
witness--does he accuse her? then I must answer for him," said he,
raising his voice to the highest pitch. "I swear that she is innocent,
and every fiend in hell re-echoes, 'She is innocent!'"

The Sultan, though restrained by superstition, hardly considered himself
safe in such close proximity to the madman, yet did not wish to evince
his alarm, but his hand went mechanically into his vest for a pistol or
dagger. This movement did not escape the eye of the maniac--he yelled a
hideous laugh, that thrilled the hearts of his hearers.

"Ha! he fears me, he is a Sultan--but guilt always fears. You slew my
father, why should you not fear me? My sister!"

His brain seethed as the horrid vision of her death flashed on his
broken intellect, and he gazed an instant at his clenched hands.

"Yes! her blood is upon them."

The vision passed as it came, and he spoke again in calm tones as of
reason.

"I warn you that you are in danger; I devote you to human vengeance and
divine wrath! For the last time I demand Azora's liberation."

The Sultan's patience was at length exhausted, "Seize him, and off with
his head!" he thundered springing up.

Frenzy again blazed in the eye of Hassan: "Stop!" he shouted, as he
dropped on his knee; "and may the curse of Mohammed and the Seven
Sleepers cleave to the man that lays a hand on me!" then, springing to
his feet, and swinging his mace round his head, he uttered a prolonged
yell of triumph, and rushed through the crowd that recoiled
terror-struck to open him a passage, and his shouts of vengeance rang in
their ears until they died away in the distance.

This incident was not calculated to influence the Sultan's decision, but
rather to increase his irritation against his victim. It would hardly
have altered his resolve had the two witnesses come, like Judas, and
said, "We have sinned, in that we have betrayed the innocent blood." But
one being dead, and the other a madman, it left the case exactly as it
stood.

At mid-day the fatal procession left the town by the Rahamna gate. First
walked the Cadi and his secretaries, a green banner being carried before
him: then followed the condemned martyr, in a long linen veil,
surrounded by some thirty or forty guards, on foot and on horseback.
Then came the executioners with torches, ropes, and long knives, a large
crowd of horse and foot from the town followed. As they left the gate,
they raised the usual chaunt, "La Illaw Il Allah, Mohammed er rasool
Allaw." This was taken up by the crowd, and the poor girl's heart sunk
within her; she had not lost all hope, as she had received intimations,
not very clear, that an attempt would be made to deliver her, and she
started as she heard the following words, from two men in the crowd,
just outside the guards, "_Is the black horse saddled?_" and the reply,
"_Ay, Inshallah! and will win._" She remembered the signal of her escape
from the lion, and she hoped almost against hope, but in any case she
was prepared to meet her God.

"Where is the race?" said Abd el Aziz, who was one of the guards,
deceived by the stranger's speech.

"The other side of the town, O Kaïd!" said the stranger; "we had a wager
on our horses, but followed this crowd, to see the execution, but my
heart sickens at the thought of it--a woman too!"

"I don't like it myself," said Abd el Aziz, "but I am a slave of the
Sultan, his word must stand. If it had been a man--I know this one, and
the infidel is beautiful. May I not be unmanned and shame my beard--you
are not a Marokshi."

"No! I am from Rif," said the horseman.

"Rif!" said Abd el Aziz, "you are all pirates in Rif--and you pretend to
be soft-hearted."

"There are pirates in Rif, O Kaïd, and there are thieves in Marocco, but
there are mountaineers in Rif, who never saw the sea. I heard that the
witnesses against this infidel had retracted."

"How could that be?" said Abd el Aziz; "Hassan, who is possessed with a
devil, came to the M'Shouar and brought his friend's head under his arm
to confirm him; but as one could not speak, and the devil spoke in the
other, the Sultan was only more savage; he would have killed Hassan, had
it pleased God, but who would touch a Majnoon?"

"Inshallah!" said the stranger, "I cannot stand this burning, and you
say she is beautiful." Then raising his voice, he said, "_The black
horse is waiting._ If she is innocent, God will send her
deliverance--Peace."

"Inshallah!" repeated Abd el Aziz, "when the mountain comes to our lord
Mohammed;" and our friend Ali, dressed as a Moor, turned back with his
companion, and galloped across the plain to a date-grove, where he had
collected his followers; they were partly screened from observation, but
as they were all dressed as Moors, any passers-by supposed them to be a
troop of the Sultan's soldiers on some duty, more especially as they
guarded a woman's litter carried between two stout mules. One of the
party was stationed in the top of a date-tree which overlooked the
plain, and reported every thing that took place; he could see the
preparations at the place of execution, and give early notice of any
movement in the distance.

On a slight rising ground, about half a mile from the gates, the pile of
wood had been raised. It was about eight feet high, built up around a
stake fixed in the ground. The wood being a species of cedar was very
inflammable, and to make it more so a quantity of pitch and turpentine
had been added to it. A little apart, under the shade of a large tree,
carpets had been spread for the Cadi and his party; here he took his
seat, attended by the horsemen, while the foot-soldiers kept clear the
space around the pile. It would be a slander on the better classes of
the Moors, to suppose that they felt any of the pleasure of inquisitors,
in witnessing, or being actors in, a tragedy like the present, on the
contrary they were not only impressed with its impolicy, but shocked by
its inhumanity and cruelty. Cases had occurred in which young Jews, in a
fit of temporary irritation, arising out of family quarrels, had really
apostatized, but had been allowed on proper representations made,
accompanied by the judicious expenditure of money, to return to their
own people; and so might Azora, but for the curse of beauty.

The Jews, for the most part, remained within doors, mourning for their
sister, and bewailing the captivity of their people; but some few had
gone out of the gate, afraid to approach, but standing afar off to see
the end of the martyr to their faith.

Azora was first taken before the Cadi, and a crier called out the names
of the witnesses, her accusers, but no one answered; after a pause, the
names were again called, and again a third time without answer. The Cadi
then produced his records, and the sworn deposition was read out. After
this he read out the warrant of the Sultan for her execution. The old
man's voice trembled and he looked wistfully in Azora's face in hopes of
seeing some sign of her recantation. She was deadly pale, but as a sheep
before her shearers, she was dumb, and they led her away to be burnt. At
the pile her veil was taken off, and her face was as the face of an
angel. With the exception of the brutified executioners, there were very
few, even to the rough soldiers, who were not in tears.

Sheik Ali in the meantime was in a state of the most intense anxiety, on
account of the delay of the Chief. As soon as he arrived at the ambush,
he never took his eyes from the look-out, who sat among the feathery
fronds of the date-tree, and reported what he saw in broken sentences.

"What seest thou, O brother?" said Ali.

"Nothing, O Sheik! The procession passes on."

"And in the distance?--your eyes were wont to be good," said Ali.

"Nothing, O Sheik! The plain is white;--the procession has arrived;--the
green flag of Islam is planted near a tree.--Two vultures have risen
from the woods, on the south of the plain.--The woman is being taken
towards the pile of wood."

"Mount!" said Ali, becoming desperate, and every man was in his saddle.

"A jackal has broken from the wood," resumed the scout, "it crosses the
plain--looking back.--Now I think I see our people;--they emerge from
the woods;--they are forming outside;--a body is left in reserve;--I see
the Chief at the head of his band! Lo! they come!"

And the next minute he had slid to the ground.

Azora stood on the pile, in relief against the clear sky; one of the
executioners was preparing the ropes to attach her to the stake, while
the other stood by with the torch awaiting the order from the Cadi to
fire the pile. Suddenly there was a movement of alarm among the crowd,
and Azora's eye brightened, as, looking across the plain in the
direction in which they swayed, she saw a cloud of dust approaching from
the south; immediately afterwards a cry was raised, "El Aarb! El Aarb!
Fly! fly! The Arabs! the Arabs!" and in a few minutes the whole crowd
was flying across the plain which separated them from the town, and
streaming towards the gates like frightened cattle. Down came the dark
mass of cavalry charging at full speed; the earth shook, and from three
hundred voices rose above the noise and screams of the crowd the wild
shout, "Allaw ho Ackbar!" Onward came the Arabs, in every variety of
costume, turbans, and burnooses, from the marauding expedition, put over
their blue shirts; their guns poised, they swept over the comparatively
abandoned space, separating as they passed the pile; they trampled on or
struck down the affrighted stragglers, and wheeling, brought up beyond.
The Chief, with Sheik Ayoub, were in the centre of the charge, and
checking their speed as they came up, Ayoub sprang from his saddle to
the top of the pile, and cutting with his ataghan the cords with which
he had already begun to bind his victim, he dashed the executioner to
the earth; the dogged villain, enraged at losing his prey, was up the
next minute, and climbing the wood pile on the other side, dagger in
hand to rush on Azora, when he was confronted by the glaring eye of
Hassan the maniac, who with one blow of his mace shattered his skull,
and hurled him, this time, lifeless to the ground. In the meantime, the
other executioner, inspired by the hate of fanaticism, before he
attempted to escape, threw his torch into the prepared pile, which was
instantly in a blaze; he was cut down and trampled under foot; but there
was no time to be lost, and Azora, half fainting, was lowered down and
placed in the litter, which had been sent forward by Ali.

Ali, while this had been going on, had not been idle; emerging from the
grove, with a plume of black ostrich-feathers carried on a spear, to
distinguish him to his tribesmen, he galloped down and surrounded the
party of cavalry round the Cadi. Being dressed as Moors, these at first
supposed they were friends come to their assistance, until they found
themselves each with a double-barrel at his breast, and before they
could recover from their surprise, they were all disarmed, and their
horses hobbled; the Cadi and his scribes wondering whether it was
written that their throats were to be cut by the Arabs.

"Resistance is useless," said Ali to the soldiers.

"You have seen me before, O my lord the Cadi!" and Al Maimon's face was
as white as his beard at finding himself in the power of one who was
looked on as an afreet, and who had so often escaped from his sentences.

"Ali el Bezz!" he ejaculated, "O Sheik! I know you. God is merciful--I
am an old man--I never wronged you--I give sentence according to
law--but revenge is yours! Let me say the Fetha, and take my life--if it
is written."

"Truly, O Al Maimon, you deserve to die, as an unjust judge. Do you not
pervert the holy Koran for your purposes? Do you not take bribes to rob
God's children, the widow and orphan? and are you not now here to shed
innocent blood? But your victim is safe, and we have taught you the
difference between Moorish law and Arab justice. I will not have your
blood on my hands, when your grey beard will so soon be burning in
Djehennem. You will presently be free. Show mercy, as you have received
it. And tell your Sultan we laugh at his beard."

"O Sheik!" said Abd el Aziz, "the black horse has won the race."

Their attention was now attracted by a succession of yells from the
burning pyre: "Woe unto you, Moslim! Woe unto you, murderers! Woe! woe!
Slay, O Sheik! cut them down! spare none! The Prophet's curse on them!
Woe! woe!" And they beheld Hassan the maniac on the summit of the pile,
now wrapped in flames, with his arms wildly waving, and shouting his
curses. The Chief would have saved him, but Hassan, unable to
distinguish friend from foe, warned them off: "Woe unto you, murderers;
you shall not take me alive! Death to the slave who approaches! Slay, O
Ali!"--Here the smoke and flame rolled upward, and choked his utterance,
and his voice broke into gurgling and spasmodic screams, as the fire
wrapped him round, and his clothes and hair were fiercely ablaze. On the
same spot where the vision of the Hebrew maiden had just before appeared
against the sky, now stood forth the burning and appalling form of her
accuser. He stood erect, one blackened arm pointing towards the band,
the other wound round the glowing stake, a figure of horror. With a
dying effort, as the wind blew the smoke from his face, he sent up a
last sad cry, "O Azora! Azora! saved! saved! Allaw ho Ackbar!" and sank
devoured in the flaming pyre.

       *       *       *       *       *

The crowd had disappeared within the town gates, with the exception of
some dozen maimed, who had been ridden down by the Arabs' charge.
Leaving the Cadi and his party at liberty, the whole band resumed their
march, escorting the litter by the way they came. The sun shone on the
vacant plain, on the black smouldering pile, on the whispering
date-groves, and on the mud walls of the town, now manned with excited
spectators, who did not, however, venture out, until the band of the
Arab Chief, who had so nobly redeemed his Pledge, gradually disappeared
behind the distant woods.


FINIS.


                LONDON: STRANGEWAYS & WALDEN, PRINTERS,
                    Castle Street, Leicester Square.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Arab's Pledge - A Tale of Marocco in 1830" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home