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Title: Donovan Pasha, and Some People of Egypt — Volume 1
Author: Parker, Gilbert
Language: English
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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.

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DONOVAN PASHA AND SOME PEOPLE OF EGYPT

By Gilbert Parker

Volume 1.



CONTENTS

Volume 1.
WHILE THE LAMP HOLDS OUT TO BURN
THE PRICE OF THE GRINDSTONE-AND THE DRUM
THE DESERTION OF MAHOMMED SELIMON
THE REEF OF NORMAN'S WOE

Volume 2.
FIELDING HAD AN ORDERLY
THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE
A TREATY OF PEACE
AT THE MERCY OF TIBERIUS
ALL THE WORLD'S MAD

Volume 3.
THE MAN AT THE WHEEL
A TYRANT AND A LADY

Volume 4.
A YOUNG LION OF DEDAN
HE WOULD NOT BE DENIED
THE FLOWER OF THE FLOCK
THE LIGHT OF OTHER DAYS



INTRODUCTION

To the FOREWORD of this book I have practically nothing to add.  It
describes how the book was planned, and how at last it came to be
written.  The novel--'The Weavers'--of which it was the herald, as one
might say, was published in 1907.  The reception of Donovan Pasha
convinced me beyond peradventure, that the step I took in enlarging my
field of work was as wise in relation to my art as in its effect upon my
mind, temperament and faculty for writing.  I knew Egypt by study quite
as well as I knew the Dominion of Canada, the difference being, of
course, that the instinct for the life of Canada was part of my very
being itself; but there are great numbers of people who live their lives
for fifty or seventy or eighty years in a country, and have no real
instinct for understanding.  There are numberless Canadians who do not
understand Canada, Englishmen who know nothing of England, and Americans
who do not understand the United States.  If it is so that I have some
instinct for the life of Canada, and have expressed it to the world
with some accuracy and fidelity, it is apparent that the capacity for
understanding could not be limited absolutely to one environment.  That I
understood Canada could not be established by the fact that I had spent
my boyhood there, but only by the fact that some inner vision permitted
me to see it as it really was.  That inner vision, however, if it was
anything at all was not in blinders, seeing only one section of the life
of the world.  Relatively it might see more deeply, more intimately in
that place where habit of life had made the man familiar with all its
detail, but the same vision turned elsewhere to fields where study and
sympathy played a devoted part, could not fail to see; though the
workman's craft, which made material the vision, might fail.

The reception given Donovan Pasha convinced me that neither the vision
nor the craftsmanship had wholly failed, whatever the degree of success
which had been reached.  Anglo-Egyptians approved the book.  Its pages
passed through the hands of an Englishman who had done over twenty years'
service in the British army in Egypt and in official positions in the
Egyptian administration, and I do not think that he made six corrections
in the whole three hundred pages.  He had himself a great gift for both
music and painting; he was essentially exacting where any literature
touching Egypt was concerned; but I am glad to think that, whatever he
thought of the book as fiction, he did not find it necessary to grant
absolution as to the facts and the details of incidents in character and
life pourtrayed in Donovan Pasha.

Who the original of 'Donovan Pasha' was I shall never say, but he was
real.  There is, however, in the House of Commons today a young and
active politician once in the Egyptian service, and who bears a most
striking resemblance to the purely imaginary portrait which Mr. Talbot
Kelly, the artist, drew of the Dicky Donovan of the book.  This young
politician, with his experience in the diplomatic service, is in manner,
disposition, capacity, and in his neat, fine, and alert physical frame,
the very image of Dicky Donovan, as in my mind I perceived him; and when
I first saw him I was almost thunderstruck, because he was to me Dicky
Donovan come to life.  There was nothing Dicky Donovan did or said or saw
or heard which had not its counterpart in actual things in Egypt.  The
germ of most of the stories was got from things told me, or things that I
saw, heard of, or experienced in Egypt itself.  The first story of the
book--'While the Lamp Holds out to Burn'--was suggested to me by an
incident which I saw at a certain village on the Nile, which I will not
name.  Suffice it to say that the story in the main was true.  Also the
chief incident of the story, called 'The Price of the Grindstone--and the
Drum', is true.  The Mahommed Seti of that story was the servant of a
friend of mine, and he did in life what I made him do in the tale.
'On the Reef of Norman's Woe', which more than one journal singled out as
showing what extraordinary work was being done in Egypt by a handful of
British officials, had its origin in something told me by my friend Sir
John Rogers, who at one time was at the head of the Sanitary Department
of the Government of Egypt.

I could take the stories one by one, and show the seeds from which this
little plantation of fiction sprang, but I will not go further than to
refer to a story called 'Fielding Had an Orderly', the idea of which was
contained in the experience of a British official whose courage was as
cool as his wit, and both were extremely dangerous weapons, used at times
against those who were opposed to him.  When I read a book like 'Said the
Fisherman', however, with its wonderfully intimate knowledge of Oriental
life and the thousand nuances which only the born Orientalist can give,
I look with tempered pride upon Donovan Pasha.  Still I think that it
caught and held some phases of Egyptian life which the author of 'Said
the Fisherman' might perhaps miss, since the observation of every artist
has its own idiosyncrasy, and what strikes one observer will not strike
another.



A FOREWORD

It is now twelve years since I began giving to the public tales of life
in lands well known to me.  The first of them were drawn from Australia
and the Islands of the Southern Pacific, where I had lived and roamed in
the middle and late Eighties.  They appeared in various English
magazines, and were written in London far from the scenes which suggested
them.  None of them were written on the spot, as it were.  I did not
think then, and I do not think now, that this was perilous to their
truthfulness.  After many years of travel and home-staying observation
I have found that all worth remembrance, the salient things and scenes,
emerge clearly out of myriad impressions, and become permanent in mind
and memory.  Things so emerging are typical at least, and probably true.

Those tales of the Far South were given out with some prodigality.  They
did not appear in book form, however; for, at the time I was sending out
these Antipodean sketches, I was also writing--far from the scenes where
they were laid--a series of Canadian tales, many of which appeared in the
'Independent' of New York, in the 'National Observer', edited by Mr.
Henley, and in the 'Illustrated London News'.  By accident, and on the
suggestion of my friend Mr. Henley, the Canadian tales 'Pierre and his
People' were published first; with the result that the stories of the
Southern Hemisphere were withheld from publication, though they have been
privately printed and duly copyrighted.  Some day I may send them forth,
but meanwhile I am content to keep them in my own care.

Moved always by deep interest in the varied manifestations of life in
different portions of the Empire, five or six years ago I was attracted
to the Island of Jersey, in the Channel Sea, by the likeness of the
origin of her people with that of the French-Canadians.  I went to live
at St. Heliers for a time, and there wrote a novel called 'The Battle of
the Strong'.

Nor would it be thought strange that, having visited another and newer
sphere of England's influence, Egypt to wit, in 1889, I should then
determine that, when I could study the country at leisure, I should try
to write of the life there, so full of splendour and of primitive
simplicity; of mystery and guilt; of cruel indolence and beautiful
industry; of tyranny and devoted slavery; of the high elements of a true
democracy and the shameful practices of a false autocracy; all touched
off by the majesty of an ancient charm, the nobility of the remotest
history.

The years went by, and, four times visiting Egypt, at last I began to
write of her.  That is now five years ago.  From time to time the stories
which I offer to the public in this volume were given forth.  It is
likely that the old Anglo-Egyptian and the historical student may find
some anachronisms and other things to criticise; but the anachronisms are
deliberate, and even as in writing of Canada and Australia, which I know
very well, I have here, perhaps, sacrificed superficial exactness while
trying to give the more intimate meaning and spirit.  I have never
thought it necessary to apologise for this disregard of photographic
accuracy,--that may be found in my note-books,--and I shall not begin to
do so now.  I shall be sufficiently grateful if this series of tales does
no more than make ready the way for the novel of Egyptian life on which I
have been working for some years.  It is an avant courier.  I hope,
however, that it may be welcomed for its own sake.
                                                       G.  P.


NOTE: A Glossary will be found at the end of the volume.



WHILE THE LAMP HOLDS OUT TO BURN

There is a town on the Nile which Fielding Bey called Hasha, meaning
"Heaven Forbid!"  He loathed inspecting it.  Going up the Nile, he would
put off visiting it till he came down; coming down, he thanked his fates
if accident carried him beyond it.  Convenient accidents sometimes did
occur: a murder at one of the villages below it, asking his immediate
presence; a telegram from his Minister at Cairo, requiring his return;
or a very low Nile, when Hasha suddenly found itself a mile away from the
channel and there was no good place to land.  So it was that Hasha, with
little inspection, was the least reputable and almost the dirtiest town
on the Nile; for even in those far-off days the official Englishman had
his influence, especially when Kubar Pasha was behind him.  Kubar had his
good points.

There were certain definite reasons, however, why Fielding Bey shrank
from visiting Hasha.  Donovan Pasha saw something was wrong from the
first moment Hasha was mentioned.

On a particular day they were lying below at another village, on the
Amenhotep.  Hasha was the next place marked red on the map, and that
meant inspection.  When Dicky Donovan mentioned Hasha, Fielding Bey
twisted a shoulder and walked nervously up and down the deck.  He stayed
here for hours: to wait for the next post, he said-serious matters
expected from head quarters.  He appeared not to realise that letters
would get to Hasha by rail as quickly as by the Amenhotep.

Every man has a weak spot in his character, a sub-rosa, as it were, in
his business of life; and Dicky fancied he had found Fielding Bey's.
While they waited, Fielding made a pretence of working hard--for he
really was conscientious--sending his orderly for the mamour--
[magistrate]--and the omdah--[head of a village]--, and holding fatuous
conferences; turning the hose on the local dairymen and butchers and
dategrowers, who came with backsheesh in kind; burying his nose in
official papers; or sending for Holgate, the Yorkshire engineer, to find
out what the run would be to the next stopping-place beyond Hasha.  Twice
he did this; which was very little like Fielding Bey.  The second time,
when Holgate came below to his engine, Dicky was there playing with a
Farshoot dog.

"We don't stop at Hasha, then?" Dicky asked, and let the Farshoot fasten
on his leggings.

Holgate swung round and eyed Dicky curiously, a queer smile at his lips.

"Not if Goovnur can 'elp, aw give ye ma woord, sir," answered Holgate.

Fielding was affectionately called "the Governor" by his subordinates and
friends.

"We all have our likes and dislikes," rejoined Dicky casually, and blew
smoke in the eyes of the Farshoot.  "Aye, aw've seen places that bad!
but Hasha has taaste of its own in Goovnur's mouth, ma life on't!"
"Never can tell when a thing'll pall on the taste.  Hasha's turn with the
Governor now, eh?" rejoined Dicky.

Dicky's way of getting information seemed guileless, and Holgate opened
his basket as wide as he knew.  "Toorn, didst tha sway" (Holgate talked
broadly to Dicky always, for Dicky had told him of his aunt, Lady
Carmichael, who lived near Halifax in Yorkshire), "toorn, aw warrant!
It be reg'lar as kitchen-fire, this Hasha business, for three years, ever
sin' aw been scrapin' mud o' Nile River."

"That was a nasty row they had over the cemetery three years ago, the
Governor against the lot, from mamour to wekeel!"

Holgate's eyes flashed, and he looked almost angrily down at Dicky, whose
hand was between the teeth of the playful Farshoot.

"Doost think--noa, tha canst not think that Goovnur be 'feared o' Hasha
fook.  Thinks't tha, a man that told 'em all--a thousand therr--that he'd
hang on nearest tree the foorst that disobeyed him, thinks't tha that
Goovnur's lost his nerve by that?"

"The Governor never loses his nerve, Holgate," said Dicky, smiling and
offering a cigar.  "There's such a thing as a man being afraid to trust
himself where he's been in a mess, lest he hit out, and doesn't want to."

Holgate, being excited, was in a fit state to tell the truth, if he knew
it; which was what Dicky had worked for; but Holgate only said:

"It bean't fear, and it bean't milk o' human kindness.  It be soort o'
thing a man gets.  Aw had it once i' Bradford, in Little Cornish Street.
Aw saw a faace look out o' window o' hoose by tinsmith's shop, an' that
faace was like hell's picture-aye, 'twas a killiagous faace that!  Aw
never again could pass that house.  'Twas a woman's faace.  Horrible
'twas, an' sore sad an' flootered aw were, for t' faace was like a lass
aw loved when aw wur a lad."

"I should think it was something like that," answered Dicky, his eyes
wandering over the peninsula beyond which lay Hasha.

"Summat, aw be sure," answered Holgate, "an' ma woord on't .  .  .  ah,
yon coomes orderly wi' post for Goovnur.  Now it be Hasha, or it be not
Hasha, it be time for steam oop."

Holgate turned to his engine as Dicky mounted the stairs and went to
Fielding's cabin, where the orderly was untying a handkerchief
overflowing with letters.

As Fielding read his official letters his face fell more and more.  When
he had read the last, he sat for a minute without speaking, his brow very
black.  There was no excuse for pushing past Hasha.  He had not been
there for over a year.  It was his duty to inspect the place: he had a
conscience; there was time to get to Hasha that afternoon.  With an
effort he rose, hurried along the deck, and called down to Holgate:
"Full-steam to Hasha!"

Then, with a quick command to the reis, who was already at the wheel, he
lighted a cigar, and, joining Dicky Donovan, began to smoke and talk
furiously.  But he did not talk of Hasha.

At sunset the Amenhotep drew in to the bank by Hasha, and, from the deck,
Fielding Bey saluted the mamour, the omdah and his own subordinates, who,
buttoning up their coats as they came, hurried to the bank to make
salaams to him.  Behind them, at a distance, came villagers, a dozen
ghaffirs armed with naboots of dom-wood, and a brace of well-mounted,
badly-dressed policemen, with seats like a monkey on a stick.  The
conferences with the mamour and omdah were short, in keeping with the
temper of "Fielding Saadat"; and long into the night Dicky lay and looked
out of his cabin window to the fires on the banks, where sat Mahommed
Seti the servant, the orderly, and some attendant ghaffirs, who, feasting
on the remains of the effendi's supper, kept watch.  For Hasha was noted
for its robbers.  It was even rumoured that the egregious Selamlik Pasha,
with the sugar plantation near by--"Trousers," Dicky called him when he
saw him on the morrow, because of the elephantine breeks he wore--was not
averse to sending his Abyssinian slaves through the sugar-cane to waylay
and rob, and worse, maybe.

By five o'clock next day the inspection was over.  The streets had been
swept for the Excellency--which is to say Saadat--the first time in a
year.  The prison had been cleaned of visible horrors, the first time in
a month.  The last time it was ordered there had been a riot among the
starving, infested prisoners; earth had been thrown over the protruding
bones of the dear lamented dead in the cemetery; the water of the
ablution places in the mosque had been changed; the ragged policemen had
new putties; the kourbashes of the tax-gatherers were hid in their
yeleks; the egregious Pasha wore a greasy smile, and the submudir, as he
conducted Fielding--"whom God preserve and honour!"--through the prison
and through the hospital, where goat's milk had been laid on for this
especial day, smirked gently through the bazaar above his Parisian
waistcoat.

But Fielding, as he rode on Selamlik Pasha's gorgeous black donkey from
Assiout, with its crimson trappings, knew what proportion of improvement
this "hankypanky," as Dicky called it, bore to the condition of things at
the last inspection.  He had spoken little all day, and Dicky had noticed
that his eye was constantly turning here and there, as though looking for
an unwelcome something or somebody.

At last the thing was over, and they were just crossing the canal, the
old Bahr-el-Yusef, which cuts the town in twain as the river Abana does
Damascus, when Dicky saw nearing them a heavily-laden boat, a cross
between a Thames house-boat and an Italian gondola, being drawn by one
poor raw-bone--raw-bone in truth, for there was on each shoulder a round
red place, made raw by the unsheathed ropes used as harness.  The beast's
sides were scraped as a tree is barked, and the hind quarters gored as
though by a harrow.  Dicky was riding with the mamour of the district,
Fielding was a distance behind with Trousers and the Mudir.  Dicky pulled
up his donkey, got off and ran towards the horse, pale with fury; for he
loved animals better than men, and had wasted his strength beating
donkey-boys with the sticks they used on their victims.  The boat had now
reached a point opposite the mudirieh, its stopping-place; and the raw-
bone, reeking with sweat and blood, stood still and trembled, its knees
shaking with the strain just taken off them, its head sunk nearly to the
ground.

Dicky had hardly reached the spot when a figure came running to the poor
waler with a quick stumbling motion.  Dicky drew back in wonder, for
never had he seen eyes so painful as these that glanced from the tortured
beast to himself--staring, bulbous, bloodshot, hunted eyes; but they were
blue, a sickly, faded blue; and they were English!  Dicky's hand was, on
his pistol, for his first impulse had been to shoot the rawbone; but it
dropped away in sheer astonishment at the sight of this strange figure in
threadbare dirty clothes and riding-breeches made by shearing the legs of
a long pair--cut with an unsteady hand, for the edges were jagged and
uneven, and the man's bare leg showed above the cast-off putties of a
policeman.  The coat was an old khaki jacket of a Gippy soldier, and,
being scant of buttons, doubtful linen showed beneath.  Above the hook-
nose, once aristocratic, now vulture-like and shrunken like that of
Rameses in his glass case at Ghizeh, was a tarboosh tilting forward over
the eyes, nearly covering the forehead.  The figure must have been very
tall once, but it was stooped now, though the height was still well above
medium.  Hunted, haunted, ravaged and lost, was the face, and the long
grey moustache, covering the chin almost, seemed to cover an immeasurable
depravity.

Dicky took it all in at a glance, and wondered with a bitter wonder; for
this was an Englishman, and behind him and around him, though not very
near him, were Arabs, Soudanese, and Fellaheen, with sneering yet
apprehensive faces.

As Dicky's hand dropped away from his pistol, the other shot out
trembling, graceful, eager fingers, the one inexpressibly gentlemanly
thing about him.

"Give it to me--quick!" he said, and he threw a backward glance towards
the approaching group--Fielding, the egregious Pasha, and the rest.

Dicky did not hesitate; he passed the pistol over.  The Lost One took the
pistol, cocked it, and held it to the head of the waler, which feebly
turned to him in recognition.

"Good-bye, old man!" he said, and fired.

The horse dropped, kicked, struggled once or twice, and was gone.

"If you know the right spot, there's hardly a kick," said the Lost One,
and turned to face the Pasha, who had whipped his donkey forward on them,
and sat now livid with rage, before the two.  He stood speechless for a
moment, for his anger had forced the fat of his neck up into his throat.

But Dicky did not notice the Pasha.  His eye was fixed on Fielding Bey,
and the eye of Fielding Bey was on the Lost One.  All at once Dicky
understood why it was that Fielding Bey had shrunk from coming to Hasha.
Fielding might have offered many reasons, but this figure before them was
the true one.  Trouble, pity, anxiety, pride, all were in Fielding's
face.  Because the Lost One was an Englishman, and the race was shamed
and injured by this outcast?  Not that alone.  Fielding had the natural
pride of his race, but this look was personal.  He glanced at the dead
horse, at the scarred sides, the raw shoulders, the corrugated haunches,
he saw the pistol in the Lost One's hand, and then, as a thread of light
steals between the black trees of a jungle, a light stole across
Fielding's face for a moment.  He saw the Lost One hand the pistol back
to Dicky and fix his debauched blue eyes on the Pasha.  These blue eyes
did not once look at Fielding, though they were aware of his presence.

"Son of a dog!" said the Pasha, and his fat forefinger convulsively
pointed to the horse.

The Lost One's eyes wavered a second, as though their owner had not the
courage to abide the effect of his action, then they quickened to a point
of steadiness, as a lash suddenly knots for a crack in the hand of a
postilion.

"Swine!" said the Lost One into the Pasha's face, and his round
shoulders drew up a little farther, so that he seemed more like a man
among men.  His hands fell on his hips as, in his mess, an officer with
no pockets drops his knuckles on his waist-line for a stand-at-ease.

The egregious Selamlik Pasha stood high in favour with the Khedive: was
it not he who had suggested a tax on the earnings of the dancing girls,
the Ghazeeyehs, and did he not himself act as the first tax-gatherer?
Was it not Selamlik Pasha also who whispered into the ear of the
Mouffetish that a birth-tax and a burial-tax should be instituted?
And had he not seen them carried out in the mudiriehs under his own
supervision?  Had he not himself made the Fellaheen pay thrice over for
water for their onion-fields?  Had he not flogged an Arab to death with
his own hand, the day before Fielding's and Dicky's arrival, and had he
not tried to get this same Arab's daughter into his harem--this Selamlik
Pasha!

The voice of the Lost One suddenly rose shrill and excited, and he
shouted at the Pasha.  "Swine! swine! swine!  .  .  .  Kill your slaves
with a kourbash if you like, but a bullet's the thing for a waler!--Swine
of a leper!"

The whole frame of the Lost One was still, but the voice was shaking,
querulous, half hysterical; the eyes were lighted with a terrible
excitement, the lips under the grey moustache twitched; the nervous
slipshod dignity of carriage was in curious contrast to the disordered
patchwork dress.

The trouble on Fielding's face glimmered with a little ray of hope now.
Dicky came over to him, and was about to speak, but a motion of
Fielding's hand stopped him.  The hand said: "Let them fight it out."

In a paroxysm of passion Selamlik Pasha called two Abyssinian slaves
standing behind.  "This brother of a toad to prison!" he said.

The Lost One's eyes sought Dicky like a flash.  Without a word, and as
quick as the tick of a clock, Dicky tossed over his pistol to the Lost
One, who caught it smoothly, turned it in his hand, and levelled it at
the Abyssinians.

"No more of this damned nonsense, Pasha," said Fielding suddenly.  "He
doesn't put a high price on his life, and you do on yours.  I'd be
careful!"

"Steady, Trousers!" said Dicky in a soft voice, and smiled his girlish
smile.

Selamlik Pasha stared for a moment in black anger, then stuttered forth:
"Will you speak for a dog of a slave that his own country vomits out?"

"Your mother was a slave of Darfur, Pasha," answered Fielding, in a low
voice; "your father lost his life stealing slaves.  Let's have no airs
and graces."

Dicky's eyes had been fixed on the Lost One, and his voice now said in
its quaint treble: "Don't get into a perspiration.  He's from where we
get our bad manners, and he messes with us to-night, Pasha."

The effect of these words was curious.  Fielding's face was a blank
surprise, and his mouth opened to say no, but he caught Dicky's look and
the word was not uttered.  The Pasha's face showed curious incredulity;
under the pallor of the Lost One's a purplish flush crept, stayed a
moment, then faded away, and left it paler than before.

"We've no more business, I think, Pasha," said Fielding brusquely, and
turned his donkey towards the river.  The Pasha salaamed without a word,
his Abyssinian slaves helped him on his great white donkey, and he
trotted away towards the palace, the trousers flapping about his huge
legs.  The Lost One stood fingering the revolver.  Presently he looked up
at Dicky, and, standing still, held out the pistol.

"Better keep it," said Dicky; "I'll give you some peas for it to-night.
Speak to the poor devil, Fielding," he added quickly, in a low tone.

Fielding turned in his saddle.  "Seven's the hour," he said, and rode on.

"Thanks, you fellows," said the Lost One, and walked swiftly away.

As they rode to the Amenhotep Dicky did not speak, but once he turned
round to look after the outcast, who was shambling along the bank of the
canal.

When Fielding and Dicky reached the deck of the Amenhotep, and Mahommed
Seti had brought refreshment, Dicky said: "What did he do?"

Fielding's voice was constrained and hard: "Cheated at cards."

Dicky's lips tightened.  "Where?"

"At Hong Kong."

"Officer?"

"In the Buffs."

Dicky drew a long breath.  "He's paid the piper."

"Naturally.  He cheated twice."

"Cheated twice--at cards!"  Dicky's voice was hard now.  "Who was he?"

"Heatherby--Bob Heatherby!"

"Bob Heatherby--gad!  Fielding, I'm sorry--I couldn't have guessed, old
man.  Mrs. Henshaw's brother!"

Fielding nodded.  Dicky turned his head away; for Fielding was in love
with Mrs. Henshaw, the widow of Henshaw of the Buffs.  He realised now
why Fielding loathed Hasha so.

"Forgive me for asking him to mess, guv'nor."

Fielding laughed a little uneasily.  "Never mind.  You see, it isn't the
old scores only that bar him.  He's been a sweep out here.  Nothing he
hasn't done.  Gone lower and lower and lower.  Tax-gatherer with a
kourbash for old Selamlik the beast.  Panderer for the same.  Sweep of
the lowest sort!"

Dicky's eyes flashed.  "I say, Fielding, it would be rather strange if he
hadn't gone down, down, down.  A man that's cheated at cards never finds
anybody to help him up, up, up.  The chances are dead against him.  But
he stood up well to-day, eh?"

"I suppose blood will tell at last in the very worst."

             "'And while the lamp holds out to burn
               The vilest sinner may return--'"

hummed Dicky musingly.  Then he added slowly: "Fielding, fellows of that
kind always flare up a bit according to Cavendish, just before the end.
I've seen it once or twice before.  It's the last clutch at the grass as
they go slip--slip--slipping down.  Take my word for it, Heatherby's near
the finish."

"I shouldn't wonder.  Selamlik, the old leper, 'll lay in wait for him.
He'll get lost in the sugar-cane one of these evenings soon."

"Couldn't we .  .  ." Dicky paused.

Fielding started, looked at Dicky intently, and then shook his head
sadly.  "It's no good, Dicky.  It never is."

"'While the lamp holds out to burn .  .  .'" said Dicky, and lighted
another cigarette.

Precisely at seven o'clock Heatherby appeared.  He had on a dress-suit,
brown and rusty, a white tie made of a handkerchief torn in two, and a
pair of patent leather shoes, scraggy and cracked.

Fielding behaved well, Dicky was amiable and attentive, and the dinner
being ready to the instant, there was no waiting, there were no awkward
pauses.  No names of English people were mentioned, England was not
named; nor Cairo, nor anything that English people abroad love to
discuss.  The fellah, the pasha, the Soudan were the only topics.  Under
Fielding's courtesy and Dicky's acute suggestions, Heatherby's weakened
brain awaked, and he talked intelligently, till the moment coffee was
brought in.  Then, as Mahommed Seti retired, Heatherby suddenly threw
himself forward, his arms on the table, and burst into sobs.

"Oh, you fellows, you fellows!" he said.  There was silence for a
minute, then he sobbed out again: "It's the first time I've been treated
like a gentleman by men that knew me, these fifteen years.  It--it gets
me in the throat!"

His body shook with sobs.  Fielding and Dicky were uncomfortable, for
these were not the sobs of a driveller or a drunkard.  Behind them was
the blank failure of a life--fifteen years of miserable torture, of
degradation, of a daily descent lower into the pit, of the servitude of
shame.  When at last he raised his streaming eyes, Fielding and Dicky
could see the haunting terror of the soul, at whose elbow, as it were,
every man cried: "You are without the pale!"  That look told them how
Heatherby of the Buffs had gone from table d'hote to table d'hote of
Europe, from town to town, from village to village, to make acquaintances
who repulsed him when they discovered who he really was.

Shady Heatherby, who cheated at cards!

Once Fielding made as if to put a hand on his shoulder and speak to him,
but Dicky intervened with a look.  The two drank their coffee, Fielding
a little uneasily; but yet in his face there was a new look: of inquiry,
of kindness, even of hope.

Presently Dicky flashed a look and nodded towards the door, and Fielding
dropped his cigar and went on deck, and called down to Holgate the
engineer:

"Get up steam, and make for Luxor.  It's moonlight, and we're safe enough
in this high Nile, eh, Holgate?"

"Safe enough, or aw'm a Dootchman," said Holgate.  Then they talked in a
low voice together.  Down in the saloon, Dicky sat watching Heatherby.
At last the Lost One raised his head again.

"It's worth more to me, this night, than you fellows know," he said
brokenly.

"That's all right," said Dicky.  "Have a cigar?"

He shook his head.  "It's come at the right time.  I wanted to be treated
like an Englishman once more--just once more."

"Don't worry.  Take in a reef and go steady for a bit.  The milk's spilt,
but there are other meadows.  .  .  ."  Dicky waved an arm up the river,
up towards the Soudan!

The Lost One nodded, then his eyes blazed up and took on a hungry look.
His voice suddenly came in a whisper.

"Gordon was a white man.  Gordon said to me three years ago: 'Come with
me, I'll help you on.  You don't need to live, if you don't want to.
Most of us will get knocked out up there in the Soudan.'  Gordon said
that to me.  But there was another fellow with Gordon who knew me,
and I couldn't face it.  So I stayed behind here.  I've been everything,
anything, to that swine, Selamlik Pasha; but when he told me yesterday to
bring him the daughter of the Arab he killed with his kourbash, I jibbed.
I couldn't stand that.  Her father had fed me more than once.  I jibbed
--by God, I jibbed!  I said I was an Englishman, and I'd see him damned
first.  I said it, and I shot the horse, and I'd have shot him--what's
that?"

There was a churning below.  The Amenhotep was moving from the bank.

"She's going--the boat's going," said the Lost One, trembling to his
feet.

"Sit down," said Dicky, and gripped him by the arm.  "Where are you
taking me?" asked Heatherby, a strange, excited look in his face.

"Up the river."

He seemed to read Dicky's thoughts--the clairvoyance of an overwrought
mind: "To--to Assouan?"  The voice had a curious far-away sound.

"You shall go beyond Assouan," said Dicky.  "To--to Gordon?"  Heatherby's
voice was husky and indistinct.

"Yes, here's Fielding; he'll give you the tip.  Sit down."  Dicky gently
forced him down into a chair.  Six months later, a letter came to Dicky
from an Egyptian officer, saying that Heatherby of the Buffs had died
gallantly fighting in a sortie sent by Gordon into the desert.

"He had a lot of luck," mused Dicky as he read.  "They don't end that way
as a rule."

Then he went to Fielding, humming a certain stave from one of Watts's
hymns.



THE PRICE OF THE GRINDSTONE--AND THE DRUM

He lived in the days of Ismail the Khedive, and was familiarly known as
the Murderer.  He had earned his name, and he had no repentance.  From
the roof of a hut in his native village of Manfaloot he had dropped a
grindstone on the head of Ebn Haroun, who contended with him for the
affections of Ahassa, the daughter of Haleel the barber, and Ebn Haroun's
head was flattened like the cover of a pie.  Then he had broken a cake of
dourha bread on the roof for the pigeons above him, and had come down
grinning to the street, where a hesitating mounted policeman fumbled with
his weapon, and four ghaffirs waited for him with their naboots.

Seti then had weighed his chances, had seen the avenging friends of Ebn
Haroun behind the ghaffirs, and therefore permitted himself to be marched
off to the mudirieh.  There the Mudir glared at him and had him loaded
with chains and flung into the prison, where two hundred convicts arrayed
themselves against myriad tribes which, killed individually, made a spot
on the wall no bigger than a threepenny-bit!  The carnage was great, and
though Seti was sleepless night after night it was not because of his
crime.  He found some solace, however, in provoking his fellow-prisoners
to assaults upon each other; and every morning he grinned as he saw the
dead and wounded dragged out into the clear sunshine.

The end to this came when the father of Seti, Abou Seti, went at night to
the Mudir and said deceitfully: "Effendi, by the mercy of Heaven I have
been spared even to this day; for is it not written in the Koran that a
man shall render to his neighbour what is his neighbour's?  What should
Abou Seti do with ten feddans of land, while the servant of Allah, the
Effendi Insagi, lives?  What is honestly mine is eight feddans, and the
rest, by the grace of God, is thine, O effendi."

Every feddan he had he had honestly earned, but this was his way of
offering backsheesh.

And the Mudir had due anger and said: "No better are ye than a Frank to
have hidden the truth so long and waxed fat as the Nile rises and falls.
The two feddans, as thou sayest, are mine."

Abou Seti bowed low, and rejoined, "Now shall I sleep in peace, by the
grace of Heaven, and all my people under my date-trees--and all my
people?" he added, with an upward look at the Mudir.

"But the rentals of the two feddans of land these ten years--thou hast
eased thy soul by bringing the rentals thereof?"

Abou Seti's glance fell and his hands twitched.  His fingers fumbled with
his robe of striped silk.  He cursed the Mudir in his heart for his
bitter humour; but was not his son in prison, and did it not lie with the
Mudir whether he lived or died?  So he answered:

"All-seeing and all-knowing art thou, O effendi, and I have reckoned the
rentals even to this hour for the ten years--fifty piastres for each
feddan--"

"A hundred for the five years of high Nile," interposed the Mudir.

"Fifty for the five lean years, and a hundred for the five fat years,"
said Abou Seti, and wished that his words were poisoned arrows, that they
might give the Mudir many deaths at once.  "And may Allah give thee
greatness upon thy greatness!"

"God prosper thee also, Abou Seti, and see that thou keep only what is
thine own henceforth.  Get thee gone in peace."

"At what hour shall I see the face of my son alive?" asked Abou Seti in
a low voice, placing his hand upon his turban in humility.

"To-morrow at even, when the Muezzin calls from the mosque of El Hassan,
be thou at the west wall of the prison by the Gate of the Prophet's
Sorrow, with thy fastest camel.  Your son shall ride for me through the
desert even to Farafreh, and bear a letter to the bimbashi there.  If he
bear it safely, his life is his own; if he fail, look to thy feddans of
land!"

"God is merciful, and Seti is bone of my bone," said Abou Seti, and laid
his hand again upon his turban.  That was how Mahommed Seti did not at
once pay the price of the grindstone, but rode into the desert bearing
the message of the Mudir and returned safely with the answer, and was
again seen in the cafes of Manfaloot.  And none of Ebn Haroun's friends
did aught, for the world knew through whom it was that Seti lived--and
land was hard to keep in Manfaloot and the prison near.

But one day a kavass of the Khedive swooped down on Manfaloot, and twenty
young men were carried off in conscription.  Among them was Seti, now
married to Ahassa, the fellah maid for whom the grindstone had fallen on
Ebn Haroun's head.  When the fatal number fell to him and it was ordained
that he must go to Dongola to serve in the Khedive's legions, he went to
his father, with Ahassa wailing behind him.

"Save thyself," said the old man with a frown.

"I have done what I could--I have sold my wife's jewels," answered Seti.

"Ten piastres!" said old Abou Seti grimly.  "Twelve," said Seti, grinning
from ear to ear.  Thou wilt add four feddans of land to that I will
answer for the Mudir."

"Thy life only cost me two feddans.  Shall I pay four to free thee of
serving thy master the Khedive?  Get thee gone into the Soudan.  I do not
fear for thee: thou wilt live on.  Allah is thy friend.  Peace be with
thee!"



II

So it was that the broad-shouldered Seti went to be a soldier, with all
the women of the village wailing behind him, and Ahassa his wife covering
her head with dust and weeping by his side as he stepped out towards
Dongola.  For himself, Seti was a philosopher; that is to say, he was a
true Egyptian.  Whatever was, was to be; and Seti had a good digestion,
which is a great thing in the desert.  Moreover, he had a capacity for
foraging--or foray.  The calmness with which he risked his life for an
onion or a water-bag would have done credit to a prince of buccaneers.
He was never flustered.  He had dropped a grindstone on the head of his
rival, but the smile that he smiled then was the same smile with which he
suffered and forayed and fought and filched in the desert.  With a back
like a door, and arms as long and strong as a gorilla's, with no moral
character to speak of, and an imperturbable selfishness, even an ignorant
Arab like Seti may go far.  More than once his bimbashi drew a sword to
cut him down for the peaceful insolent grin with which he heard himself
suddenly charged with very original crimes; but even the officer put his
sword up again, because he remembered that though Seti was the curse of
the regiment on the march, there was no man like him in the day of
battle.  Covered with desert sand and blood, and fighting and raging
after the manner of a Sikh, he could hold ten companies together like a
wall against a charge of Dervishes.  The bimbashi rejoiced at this, for
he was a coward; likewise his captain was a coward, and so was his
lieutenant: for they were half Turks, half Gippies, who had seen Paris
and had not the decency to die there.  Also it had been discovered that
no man made so good a spy or envoy as Seti.  His gift for lying was
inexpressible: confusion never touched him; for the flattest
contradictions in the matter of levying backsheesh he always found an
excuse.  Where the bimbashi and his officers were afraid to go lest the
bald-headed eagle and the vulture should carry away their heads as tit-
bits to the Libyan hills, Seti was sent.  In more than one way he always
kept his head.  He was at once the curse and the pride of the regiment.
For his sins he could not be punished, and his virtues were of value only
to save his life.

In this fashion, while his regiment thinned out by disease, famine,
fighting, and the midnight knife, Seti came on to Dongola, to Berber, to
Khartoum; and he grinned with satisfaction when he heard that they would
make even for Kordofan.  He had outlived all the officers who left
Manfaloot with the regiment save the bimbashi, and the bimbashi was
superstitious and believed that while Seti lived he would live.
Therefore, no clansman ever watched his standard flying in the van as the
bimbashi--from behind--watched the long arm of Seti slaying, and heard
his voice like a brass horn above all others shouting his war-cry.

But at Khartoum came Seti's fall.  Many sorts of original sin had been
his, with profit and prodigious pleasure, but when, by the supposed
orders of the bimbashi, he went through Khartoum levying a tax upon every
dancing-girl in the place and making her pay upon the spot at the point
of a merciless tongue, he went one step too far.  For his genius had
preceded that of Selamlik Pasha, the friend of the Mouffetish at Cairo,
by one day only.  Selamlik himself had collected taxes on dancing-girls
all the way from Cairo to Khartoum; and to be hoist by an Arab in a foot
regiment having no authority and only a limitless insolence, was more
than the Excellency could bear.

To Selamlik Pasha the bimbashi hastily disowned all knowledge of Seti's
perfidy, but both were brought out to have their hands and feet and heads
cut off in the Beit-el-Mal, in the presence of the dancing-girls and the
populace.  In the appointed place, when Seti saw how the bimbashi wept--
for he had been to Paris and had no Arab blood in him; how he wrung his
hands--for had not absinthe weakened his nerves in the cafes of St.
Michel?--when Seti saw that he was no Arab and was afraid to die, then he
told the truth to Selamlik Pasha.  He even boldly offered to tell the
pasha where half his own ill-gotten gains were hid, if he would let the
bimbashi go.  Now, Selamlik Pasha was an Egyptian, and is it not written
in the Book of Egypt that no man without the most dangerous reason may
refuse backsheesh?  So it was that Selamlik talked to the Ulema, the holy
men, who were there, and they urged him to clemency, as holy men will,
even in Egypt--at a price.

So it was also that the bimbashi went back to his regiment with all his
limbs intact.  Seti and the other half of his ill-gotten gains were left.
His hands were about to be struck off, when he realised of how little
account his gold would be without them; so he offered it to Selamlik
Pasha for their sake.  The pasha promised, and then, having found the
money, serenely prepared the execution.  For his anger was great.  Was
not the idea of taxing the dancing-girls his very own, the most original
tax ever levied in Egypt?  And to have the honour of it filched from him
by a soldier of Manfaloot--no, Mahommed Seti should be crucified!

And Seti, the pride and the curse of his regiment, would have been
crucified between two palms on the banks of the river had it not been for
Fielding Bey, the Englishman--Fielding of St. Bartholomew's--who had
burned gloriously to reform Egypt root and branch, and had seen the fire
of his desires die down.  Fielding Bey saved Seti, but not with
backsheesh.

Fielding intervened.  He knew Selamlik Pasha well, and the secret of his
influence over him is for telling elsewhere.  But whatever its source, it
gave Mahommed Seti his life.  It gave him much more, for it expelled him
from the Khedive's army.  Now soldiers without number, gladly risking
death, had deserted from the army of the Khedive; they had bought
themselves out with enormous backsheesh, they had been thieves,
murderers, panderers, that they might be freed from service by some
corrupt pasha or bimbashi; but no one in the knowledge of the world had
ever been expelled from the army of the Khedive.

There was a satanic humour in the situation pleasant to the soul of
Mahommed Seti, if soul his subconsciousness might be called.  In the
presence of his regiment, drawn up in the Beit-el-Mal, before his
trembling bimbashi, whose lips were now pale with terror at the loss of
his mascot, Mahommed Seti was drummed out of line, out of his regiment,
out of the Beit-el-Mal.  It was opera boufe, and though Seti could not
know what opera boufe was, he did know that it was a ridiculous fantasia,
and he grinned his insolent grin all the way, even to the corner of the
camel-market, where the drummer and the sergeant and his squad turned
back from ministering a disgrace they would gladly have shared.

Left at the corner of the camel-market, Mahommed Seti planned his future.
At first it was to steal a camel and take the desert for Berber.  Then he
thought of the English hakim, Fielding Bey, who had saved his life.  Now,
a man who has saved your life once may do it again; one favour is always
the promise of another.  So Seti, with a sudden inspiration, went
straight to the house of Fielding Bey and sat down before it on his mat.

With the setting of the sun came a clatter of tins and a savoury odour
throughout Khartoum to its farthest precincts, for it was Ramadan, and no
man ate till sunset.  Seti smiled an avid smile, and waited.  At last he
got up, turned his face towards Mecca, and said his prayers.  Then he
lifted the latch of Fielding's hut, entered, eyed the medicine bottles
and the surgical case with childish apprehension, and made his way to the
kitchen.  There he foraged.  He built a fire; his courage grew; he ran to
the bazaar, and came back with an armful of meats and vegetables.

So it was that when Fielding returned he found Mahommed Seti and a
savoury mess awaiting him.  Also there was coffee and a bottle of brandy
which Seti had looted in the bazaar.  In one doorway stood Fielding; in
another stood Mahommed Seti, with the same grin which had served his
purpose all the way from Cairo, his ugly face behind it, and his
prodigious shoulders below it, and the huge chest from which came forth,
like the voice of a dove:

"God give thee long life, saadat el bey!"

Now an M.D. degree and a course in St. Bartholomew's Hospital do not
necessarily give a knowledge of the human soul, though the outlying lands
of the earth have been fattened by those who thought there was knowledge
and salvation in a conquered curriculum.  Fielding Bey, however, had
never made pretence of understanding the Oriental mind, so he discreetly
took his seat and made no remarks.  From sheer instinct, however, when he
came to the coffee he threw a boot which caught Mahommed Seti in the
middle of the chest, and said roughly: "French, not Turkish, idiot!"

Then Mahommed Seti grinned, and he knew that he was happy; for it was
deep in his mind that that was the Inglesi's way of offering a long
engagement.  In any case Seti had come to stay.  Three times he made
French coffee that night before it suited, and the language of Fielding
was appropriate in each case.  At last a boot, a native drum, and a wood
sculpture of Pabst the lion-headed goddess, established perfect relations
between them.  They fell into their places of master and man as
accurately as though the one had smitten and the other served
for twenty years.

The only acute differences they had were upon two points--the cleaning of
the medicine bottles and surgical instruments, and the looting.  But it
was wonderful to see how Mahommed Seti took the kourbash at the hands of
Fielding, when he shied from the medicine bottles.  He could have broken,
or bent double with one twist, the weedy, thin-chested Fielding.  But
though he saw a deadly magic and the evil eye in every stopper, and
though to him the surgical instruments were torturing steels which the
devil had forged for his purposes, he conquered his own prejudices so far
as to assist in certain bad cases which came in Fielding's way on the
journey down the Nile.

The looting was a different matter.  Had not Mahommed Seti looted all his
life--looted from his native village to the borders of Kordofan?  Did he
not take to foray as a wild ass to bersim?  Moreover, as little Dicky
Donovan said humorously yet shamelessly when he joined them at Korosko:
"What should a native do but loot who came from Manfaloot?"

Dicky had a prejudice against the Murderer, because he was a murderer;
and Mahommed Seti viewed with scorn any white man who was not Fielding;
much more so one who was only five feet and a trifle over.  So for a time
there was no sympathy between the two.  But each conquered the other in
the end.  Seti was conquered first.

One day Dicky, with a sudden burst of generosity--for he had a button to
his pocket--gave Mahommed Seti a handful of cigarettes.  The next day
Seti said to Fielding: "Behold, God has given thee strong men for
friends.  Thou hast Mahommed Seti"--his chest blew out like a bellows--
"and thou hast Donovan Pasha."

Fielding grunted.  He was not a fluent man, save in forbidden language,
and Seti added:

"Behold thou, saadat el bey, who opens a man's body and turns over his
heart with a sword-point, and sewing him up with silken cords bids him
live again, greatness is in thy house!  Last night thy friend, Donovan
Pasha, gave into my hands a score of those cigarettes which are like the
smell of a camel-yard.  In the evening, having broken bread and prayed,
I sat down at the door of the barber in peace to smoke, as becomes a man
who loves God and His benefits.  Five times I puffed, and then I stayed
my lips, for why should a man die of smoke when he can die by the sword?
But there are many men in Korosko whose lives are not as clean linen.
These I did not love.  I placed in their hands one by one the cigarettes,
and with their blessings following me I lost myself in the dusk and
waited."

Mahommed Seti paused.  On his face was a smile of sardonic retrospection.

"Go on, you fool!" grunted Fielding.

"Nineteen sick men, unworthy followers of the Prophet, thanked Allah in
the mosque to-day that their lives were spared.  Donovan Pasha is a great
man and a strong, effendi!  We be three strong men together."

Dicky Donovan's conversion to a lasting belief in Mahommed Seti came a
year later.

The thing happened at a little sortie from the Nile.  Fielding was chief
medical officer, and Dicky, for the moment, was unattached.  When the
time came for starting, Mahommed Seti brought round Fielding's horse and
also Dicky Donovan's.  Now, Mahommed Seti loved a horse as well as a
Bagarra Arab, and he had come to love Fielding's waler Bashi-Bazouk as a
Farshoot dog loves his master.  And Bashi-Bazouk was worthy of Seti's
love.  The sand of the desert, Seti's breath and the tail of his yelek
made the coat of Bashi-Bazouk like silk.  It was the joy of the regiment,
and the regiment knew that Seti had added a new chapter to the Koran
concerning horses, in keeping with Mahomet's own famous passage

                   "By the CHARGERS that pant,
                    And the hoofs that strike fire,
                    And the scourers at dawn,
                    Who stir up the dust with it,
                    And cleave through a host with it!"

But Mahomet's phrases were recited in the mosque, and Seti's, as he
rubbed Bashi-Bazouk with the tail of his yelek.

There was one thing, however, that Seti loved more than horses, or at
least as much.  Life to him was one long possible Donnybrook Fair.  That
was why, although he was no longer in the army, when Fielding and Dicky
mounted for the sortie he said to Fielding:

"Oh, brother of Joshua and all the fighters of Israel, I have a bobtailed
Arab.  Permit me to ride with thee."  And Fielding replied: "You will
fight the barn-yard fowl for dinner; get back to your stew-pots."

But Seti was not to be fobbed off.  "It is written that the Lord, the
Great One, is compassionate and merciful.  Wilt thou then, O saadat."

Fielding interrupted: "Go, harry the onion-field for dinner.  You're a
dog of a slave, and a murderer too: you must pay the price of that
grindstone!"

But Seti hung by the skin of his teeth to the fringe of Fielding's good-
nature--Fielding's words only were sour and wrathful.  So Seti grinned
and said: "For the grindstone, behold it sent Ebn Haroun to the mercy of
God.  Let him rest, praise be to God!"

"You were drummed out of the army.  You can't fight," said Fielding
again; but he was smiling under his long moustache.

"Is not a bobtailed nag sufficient shame?  Let thy friend ride the
bobtailed nag and pay the price of the grindstone and the drum," said
Seti.

"Fall in!" rang the colonel's command, and Fielding, giving Seti a
friendly kick in the ribs, galloped away to the troop.

Seti turned to the little onion-garden.  His eye harried it for a moment,
and he grinned.  He turned to the doorway where a stew-pot rested, and
his mind dwelt cheerfully on the lamb he had looted for Fielding's
dinner.  But last of all his eye rested upon his bobtailed Arab, the
shameless thing in an Arab country, where every horse rears his tail as a
peacock spreads his feathers, as a marching Albanian lifts his foot.  The
bobtailed Arab's nose was up, his stump was high.  A hundred times he had
been in battle; he was welted and scarred like a shoe-maker's apron.  He
snorted his cry towards the dust rising like a surf behind the heels of
the colonel's troop.

Suddenly Seti answered the cry--he answered the cry and sprang forward.

That was how in the midst of a desperate melee twenty miles away on the
road to Dongola little Dicky Donovan saw Seti riding into the thick of
the fight armed only with a naboot of domwood, his call, "Allala-Akbar!"
rising like a hoarse-throated bugle, as it had risen many a time in the
old days on the road from Manfaloot.  Seti and his bobtailed Arab, two
shameless ones, worked their way to the front.  Not Seti's strong right
arm alone and his naboot were at work, but the bobtailed Arab, like an
iron-handed razor toothed shrew, struck and bit his way, his eyes
bloodred like Seti's.  The superstitious Dervishes fell back before this
pair of demons; for their madness was like the madness of those who at
the Dosah throw themselves beneath the feet of the Sheikh's horse by the
mosque of El Hassan in Cairo.  The bobtailed Arab's lips were drawn back
over his assaulting teeth in a horrible grin.  Seti grinned too, the grin
of fury and of death.

Fielding did not know how it was that, falling wounded from his horse,
he was caught by strong arms, as Bashi-Bazouk cleared him at a bound and
broke into the desert.  But Dicky Donovan, with his own horse lanced
under him, knew that Seti made him mount the bobtailed Arab with Fielding
in front of him, and that a moment later they had joined the little band
retreating to Korosko, having left sixty of their own dead on the field,
and six times that number of Dervishes.

It was Dicky Donovan who cooked Fielding's supper that night, having
harried the onion-field and fought the barn-yard fowl, as Fielding had
commanded Seti.

But next evening at sunset Mahommed Seti came into the fort, slashed and
bleeding, with Bashi-Bazouk limping heavily after him.

Fielding said that Seti's was the good old game for which V.C.'s were the
reward--to run terrible risks to save a life in the face of the enemy;
but, heretofore, it had always been the life of a man, not of a horse.
To this day the Gippies of that regiment still alive do not understand
why Seti should have stayed behind and risked his life to save a horse
and bring him wounded back to his master.  But little Dicky Donovan
understood, and Fielding understood; and Fielding never afterwards
mounted Bashi-Bazouk but he remembered.  It was Mahommed Seti who taught
him the cry of Mahomet:

                   "By the CHARGERS that pant,
                    And the hoofs that strike fire,
                    And the scourers at dawn,
                    Who stir up the dust with it,
                    And cleave through a host with it!"

And in the course of time Mahommed Seti managed to pay the price of the
grindstone and also of the drum.



THE DESERTION OF MAHOMMED SELIM

The business began during Ramadan; how it ended and where was in the
mouth of every soldier between Beni Souef and Dongola, and there was not
a mud hut or a mosque within thirty miles of Mahommed Selim's home, not a
khiassa or felucca dropping anchor for gossip and garlic below the
mudirieh, but knew the story of Soada, the daughter of Wassef the camel-
driver.

Soada was pretty and upright, with a full round breast and a slim figure.
She carried a balass of water on her head as gracefully as a princess a
tiara.  This was remarked by occasional inspectors making their official
rounds, and by more than one khowagah putting in with his dahabeah where
the village maidens came to fill their water-jars.  Soada's trinkets and
bracelets were perhaps no better than those of her companions, but her
one garment was of the linen of Beni Mazar, as good as that worn by the
Sheikh-Elbeled himself.

Wassef the camel-driver, being proud of Soada, gave her the advantage of
his frequent good fortune in desert loot and Nile backsheesh.  But Wassef
was a hard man for all that, and he grew bitter and morose at last,
because he saw that camel-driving must suffer by the coming of the
railway.  Besides, as a man gets older he likes the season of Ramadan
less, for he must fast from sunrise to sunset, though his work goes on;
and, with broken sleep, having his meals at night, it is ten to one but
he gets irritable.

So it happened that one evening just at sunset, Wassef came to his hut,
with the sun like the red rim of a huge thumb-nail in the sky behind him,
ready beyond telling for his breakfast, and found nothing.  On his way
home he had seen before the houses and cafes silent Mussulmans with
cigarettes and matches in their fingers, cooks with their hands on the
lids of the cooking pots, where the dourha and onions boiled; but here
outside his own doorway there was no odour, and there was silence within.

"Now, by the beard of the Prophet," he muttered, "is it for this I have
fed the girl and clothed her with linen from Beni Mazar all these years!"
And he turned upon his heel, and kicked a yellow cur in the ribs; then he
went to the nearest cafe, and making huge rolls of forcemeat with his
fingers crammed them into his mouth, grunting like a Berkshire boar.  Nor
did his anger cease thereafter, for this meal of meat had cost him five
piastres--the second meal of meat in a week.

As Wassef sat on the mastaba of the cafe sullen and angry, the village
barber whispered in his ear that Mahommed Selim and Soada had been
hunting jackals in the desert all afternoon.  Hardly had the barber fled
from the anger of Wassef, when a glittering kavass of the Mouffetish at
Cairo passed by on a black errand of conscription.  With a curse Wassef
felt in his vest for his purse, and called to the kavass--the being more
dreaded in Egypt than the plague.

That very night the conscription descended upon Mahommed Selim, and by
sunrise he was standing in front of the house of the Mamour with twelve
others, to begin the march to Dongola.  Though the young man's father
went secretly to the Mamour, and offered him backsheesh, even to the tune
of a feddan of land, the Mamour refused to accept it.  That was a very
peculiar thing, because every Egyptian official, from the Khedive down to
the ghafhr of the cane-fields, took backsheesh in the name of Allah.

Wassef the camel-driver was the cause.  He was a deep man and a strong;
and it was through him the conscription descended upon Mahommed Selim--
"son of a burnt father," as he called him--who had gone shooting jackals
in the desert with his daughter, and had lost him his breakfast.
Wassef's rage was quiet but effective, for he had whispered to some
purpose in the ear of the Mamour as well as in that of the dreaded kavass
of conscription.  Afterwards, he had gone home and smiled at Soada his
daughter when she lied to him about the sunset breakfast.

With a placid smile and lips that murmured, "Praise be to God," the
malignant camel-driver watched the shrieking women of the village
throwing dust on their heads and lamenting loudly for the thirteen young
men of Beni Souef who were going forth never to return--or so it seemed
to them; for of all the herd of human kine driven into the desert before
whips and swords, but a moiety ever returned, and that moiety so battered
that their mothers did not know them.  Therefore, at Beni Souef that
morning women wept, and men looked sullenly upon the ground--all but
Wassef the camel-driver.

It troubled the mind of Wassef that Mahommed Selim made no outcry at his
fate.  He was still more puzzled when the Mamour whispered to him that
Mahommed Selim had told the kavass and his own father that since it was
the will of God, then the will of God was his will, and he would go.
Wassef replied that the Mamour did well not to accept the backsheesh of
Mahommed Selim's father, for the Mouffetish at the palace of Ismail would
have heard of it, and there would have been an end to the Mamour.  It was
quite a different matter when it was backsheesh for sending Mahommed
Selim to the Soudan.

With a shameless delight Wassef went to the door of his own home, and,
calling to Soada, told her that Mahommed Selim was among the conscripts.
He also told her that the young man was willing to go, and that the
Mamour would take no backsheesh from his father.  He looked to see her
burst into tears and wailing, but she only stood and looked at him like
one stricken blind.  Wassef laughed, and turned on his heel; and went
out: for what should he know of the look in a woman's face--he to whom
most women were alike, he who had taken dancing-girls with his camels
into the desert many a time?  What should he know of that love which
springs once in every woman's heart, be she fellah or Pharaoh's daughter?

When he had gone, Soada groped her way blindly to the door and out into
the roadway.  Her lips moved, but she only said: "Mahommed--Mahommed
Selim!"  Her father's words knelled in her ear that her lover was willing
to go, and she kept saying brokenly: "Mahommed--Mahommed Selim!"  As the
mist left her eyes she saw the conscripts go by, and Mahommed Selim was
in the rear rank.  He saw her also, but he kept his head turned away,
taking a cigarette from young Yusef, the drunken ghaffir, as they passed
on.

Unlike the manner of her people, Soada turned and went back into her
house, and threw herself upon the mud floor, and put the folds of her
garment in her mouth lest she should cry out in her agony.  A whole day
she lay there and did not stir, save to drink from the water-bottle which
old Fatima, the maker of mats, had placed by her side.  For Fatima
thought of the far-off time when she loved Hassan the potter, who had
been dragged from his wheel by a kavass of conscription and lost among
the sands of the Libyan desert; and she read the girl's story.

That evening, as Wassef the camel-driver went to the mosque to pray,
Fatima cursed him, because now all the village laughed secretly at the
revenge that Wassef had taken upon the lover of his daughter.  A few
laughed the harder because they knew Wassef would come to feel it had
been better to have chained Mahommed Selim to a barren fig-tree and kept
him there until he married Soada, than to let him go.  He had
mischievously sent him into that furnace which eats the Fellaheen to the
bones, and these bones thereafter mark white the road of the Red Sea
caravans and the track of the Khedive's soldiers in the yellow sands.

When Fatima cursed Wassef he turned and spat at her; and she went back
and sat on the ground beside Soada, and mumbled tags from the Koran above
her for comfort.  Then she ate greedily the food which Soada should have
eaten; snatching scraps of consolation in return for the sympathy she
gave.

The long night went, the next day came, and Soada got up and began to
work again.  And the months went by.



II

One evening, on a day which had been almost too hot for even the seller
of liquorice-water to go by calling and clanging, Wassef the camel-driver
sat at the door of a malodorous cafe and listened to a wandering welee
chanting the Koran.  Wassef was in an ill-humour: first, because the day
had been so hot; secondly, because he had sold his ten-months' camel at a
price almost within the bounds of honesty; and thirdly, because a score
of railway contractors and subs. were camped outside the town.  Also,
Soada had scarcely spoken to him for three days past.

In spite of all, Soada had been the apple of his eye, although he had
sworn again and again that next to a firman of the Sultan, a ten-months'
camel was the most beautiful thing on earth.  He was in a bitter humour.
This had been an intermittent disease with him almost since the day
Mahommed Selim had been swallowed up by the Soudan; for, like her mother
before her, Soada had no mind to be a mat for his feet.  Was it not even
said that Soada's mother was descended from an English slave with red
hair, who in the terrible disaster at Damietta in 1805 had been carried
away into captivity on the Nile, where he married a fellah woman and died
a good Mussulman?

Soada's mother had had red-brown hair, and not black as becomes a fellah
woman; but Wassef was proud of this ancient heritage of red hair, which
belonged to a field-marshal of Great Britain--so he swore by the beard of
the Prophet.  That is why he had not beaten Soada these months past when
she refused to answer him, when with cold stubbornness she gave him
his meals or withheld them at her will.  He was even a little awed by her
silent force of will, and at last he had to ask her humbly for a savoury
dish which her mother had taught her to make--a dish he always ate upon
the birthday of Mahomet Ali, who had done him the honour to flog him with
his own kourbash for filching the rations of his Arab charger.

But this particular night Wassef was bitter, and watched with stolid
indifference the going down of the sun, the time when he usually said his
prayers.  He was in so ill a humour that he would willingly have met his
old enemy, Yusef, the drunken ghaffir, and settled their long-standing
dispute for ever.  But Yusef came not that way.  He was lying drunk with
hashish outside the mosque El Hassan, with a letter from Mahommed Selim
in his green turban--for Yusef had been a pilgrimage to Mecca and might
wear the green turban.

But if Yusef came not by the cafe where Wassef sat glooming, some one
else came who quickly roused Wassef from his phlegm.  It was Donovan
Pasha, the young English official, who had sat with him many a time at
the door of his but and asked him questions about Dongola and Berber and
the Soudanese.  And because Dicky spoke Arabic, and was never known to
have aught to do with the women of Beni Souef, he had been welcome; and
none the less because he never frowned when an Arab told a lie.

"Nehar-ak koom said, Mahommed Wassef," said Dicky; and sat upon a bench
and drew a narghileh to him, wiping the ivory mouthpiece with his
handkerchief.

"Nehar-ak said, saadat el Pasha," answered Wassef, and touched lips,
breast, and forehead with his hand.  Then they shook hands, thumbs up,
after the ancient custom.  And once more, Wassef touched his breast, his
lips, and his forehead.

They sat silent too long for Wassef's pleasure, for he took pride in what
he was pleased to call his friendship with Donovan Pasha, and he could
see his watchful neighbours gathering at a little distance.  It did not
suit his book that they two should not talk together.

"May Allah take them to his mercy!--A regiment was cut to pieces by the
Dervishes at Dongola last quarter of the moon," he said.

"It was not the regiment of Mahommed Selim," Dicky answered slowly, with
a curious hard note in his voice.

"All blessings do not come at once--such is the will of God!" answered
Wassef with a sneer.

"You brother of asses," said Dicky, showing his teeth a little, "you
brother of asses of Bagdad!"

"Saadat el basha!" exclaimed Wassef, angry and dumfounded.

"You had better have gone yourself, and left Mahommed Selim your camels
and your daughter," continued Dicky, his eyes straight upon Wassef's.

"God knows your meaning," said Wassef in a sudden fright; for the
Englishman's tongue was straight, as he well knew.

"They sneer at you behind your back, Mahommed Wassef.  No man in the
village dare tell you, for you have no friends, but I tell you, that you
may save Soada before it is too late.  Mahommed Selim lives; or lived
last quarter of the moon, so says Yusef the ghaffir.  Sell your ten-
months' camel, buy the lad out, and bring him back to Soada."

"Saadat!" said Wassef, in a quick fear, and dropped the stem of the
narghileh, and got to his feet.  "Saadat el basha!"

"Before the Nile falls and you may plant yonder field with onions,"
answered Dicky, jerking his head towards the flooded valley, "her time
will be come!"

Wassef's lips were drawn, like shrivelled parchment over his red gums,
the fingers of his right hand fumbled in his robe.

"There's no one to kill--keep quiet!" said Dicky, But Wassef saw near by
the faces of the villagers, and on every face he thought he read a smile,
a sneer; though in truth none sneered, for they were afraid of his
terrible anger.  Mad with fury he snatched the turban from his head and
threw it on the ground.  Then suddenly he gave one cry, "Allah!" a
vibrant clack like a pistol-shot, for he saw Yusef, the drunken ghaffir,
coming down the road.

Yusef heard that cry of "Allah!" and he knew that the hour had come for
settling old scores.  The hashish clouds lifted from his brain, and he
gripped his naboot of the hard wood of the dom-palm, and, with a cry like
a wolf, came on.

It would have been well for Wassef the camel-driver if he had not taken
the turban from his head, for before he could reach Yusef with his
dagger, he went down, his skull cracking like the top of an egg under a
spoon.



III

Thus it was that Soada was left to fight her battle alone.  She did not
weep or wail when Wassef's body was brought home and the moghassil and
hanouti came to do their offices.  She did not smear her hair with mud,
nor was she moved by the wailing of the mourning women nor the chanters
of the Koran.  She only said to Fatima when all was over: "It is well;
he is gone from my woe to the mercy of God!  Praise be to God!"  And she
held her head high in the village still, though her heart was in the
dust.

She would have borne her trouble alone to the end, but that she was
bitten on the arm by one of her father's camels the day they were sold in
the marketplace.  Then, helpless and suffering and fevered, she yielded
to the thrice-repeated request of Dicky Donovan, and was taken to the
hospital at Assiout, which Fielding Bey, Dicky's friend, had helped to
found.

But Soada, as her time drew near and the terror of it stirred her heart,
cast restless eyes upon the whitewashed walls and rough floors of the
hospital.  She longed for the mud hut at Beni Souef, and the smell of the
river and the little field of onions she planted every year.  Day by day
she grew harder of heart against those who held her in the hospital--for
to her it was but a prison.  She would not look when the doctor came, and
she would not answer, but kept her eyes closed; and she did not shrink
when they dressed the arm so cruelly wounded by the camel's teeth, but
lay still and dumb.

Now, a strange thing happened, for her hair which had been so black
turned brown, and grew browner and browner till it was like the hair of
her mother, who, so the Niline folk said, was descended from the English
soldier-slave with red hair.

Fielding Bey and Dicky came to see her in hospital once before they
returned to Cairo; but Soada would not even speak to them, though she
smiled when they spoke to her; and no one else ever saw her smile during
the days she spent in that hospital with the red floor and white walls
and the lazy watchman walking up and down before the door.  She kept her
eyes closed in the daytime; but at night they were always open--always.
Pictures of all she had lived and seen came back to her then--pictures of
days long before Mahommed Selim came into her life.  Mahommed Selim!  She
never spoke the words now, but whenever she thought them her heart shrank
in pain.  Mahommed Selim had gone like a coward into the desert, leaving
her alone.

Her mind dwelt on the little mud hut and the onion field, and she saw
down by the foreshore of the river the great khiassas from Assouan and
Luxor laden with cotton or dourha or sugar-cane, their bent prows hooked
in the Nile mud.  She saw again the little fires built along the shore
and atop of the piles of grain, round which sat the white, the black, and
the yellow-robed riverine folk in the crimson glare; while from the banks
came the cry: "Alla-haly, 'm alla-haly!" as stalwart young Arabs drew in
from the current to the bank some stubborn, overloaded khiassa.  She
heard the snarl of the camels as they knelt down before her father's but
to rest before the journey into the yellow plains of sand beyond.  She
saw the seller of sweetmeats go by calling--calling.  She heard the
droning of the children in the village school behind the hut, the dull
clatter of Arabic consonants galloping through the Koran.  She saw the
moon--the full moon-upon the Nile, the wide acreage of silver water
before the golden-yellow and yellow-purple of the Libyan hills behind.

She saw through her tears the sweet mirage of home, and her heart
rebelled against the prison where she lay.  What should she know of
hospitals--she whose medicaments had been herbs got from the Nile valley
and the cool Nile mud?  Was it not the will of God if we lived or the
will of God if we died?  Did we not all lie in the great mantle of the
mercy of God, ready to be lifted up or to be set down as He willed?  They
had prisoned her here; there were bars upon the windows, there were
watchmen at the door.

At last she could bear it no longer; the end of it all came.  She stole
out over the bodies of the sleeping watchmen, out into the dusty road
under the palms, down to the waterside, to the Nile--the path leading
homewards.  She must go down the Nile, hiding by day, travelling by
night--the homing bird with a broken wing-back to the but where she had
lived so long with Wassef the camel-driver; back where she could lie in
the dusk of her windowless home, shutting out the world from her
solitude.  There she could bear the agony of her hour.

Drinking the water of the Nile, eating the crumbs of dourha bread she had
brought from the hospital, getting an onion from a field, chewing shreds
of sugarcane, hiding by day and trudging on by night, hourly growing
weaker, she struggled towards Beni Souef.  Fifty--forty--thirty--ten--
five miles!  Oh!  the last two days, her head so hot and her brain
bursting, and a thousand fancies swimming before her eyes, her heart
fluttering, fluttering--stopping, going on--stopping, going on.

It was only the sound of the river--the Nile, Mother of Egypt, crooning
to her disordered spirit, which kept her on her feet.  Five miles, four
miles, three miles, two, and then--she never quite remembered how she
came to the hut where she was born.  Two miles--two hours of incredible
agony, now running, now leaning against a palm tree, now dropping to her
knees, now fighting on and on, she came at last to the one spot in the
world where she could die in peace.

As she staggered, stumbled, through the village, Yusef, the drunken
ghaffir, saw her.  He did not dare speak to her, for had he not killed
her father, and had he not bought himself free of punishment from the
Mudir?  So he ran to old Fatima and knocked upon her door with his
naboot, crying: "In the name of Allah get thee to the hut of Wassef the
camel-driver!"

Thus it was that Soada, in her agony, heard a voice say out of the
infinite distance: "All praise to Allah, he hath even now the strength of
a year-old child!"



IV

That night at sunset, as Soada lay upon the sheepskin spread for her,
with the child nestled between her arm and her breast, a figure darkened
the doorway, and old Fatima cried out:

"Mahommed Selim!"

With a gasping sound Soada gathered the child quickly to her breast, and
shrank back to the wall.  This surely was the ghost of Mahommed Selim--
this gaunt, stooping figure covered with dust.

"Soada, in the name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful, Soada,
beautiful one!"

Mahommed Selim, once the lithe, the straight, the graceful, now bent,
awkward, fevered, all the old daring gone from him, stood still in the
middle of the room, humbled before the motherhood in his sight.

"Brother of jackals," cried old Fatima, "what dost thou here?  What dost
thou here, dog of dogs!"  She spat at him.

He took no notice.  "Soada," he said eagerly, prayerfully, and his voice,
though hoarse, was softer than she had ever heard it.  "Soada, I have
come through death to thee--Listen, Soada!  At night, when sleep was upon
the barrack-house, I stole out to come to thee.  My heart had been hard.
I had not known how much I loved thee--"

Soada interrupted him.  "What dost thou know of love, Mahommed Selim?
The blood of the dead cries from the ground."

He came a step nearer.  "The blood of Wassef the camel-driver is upon my
head," he said.  "In the desert there came news of it.  In the desert,
even while we fought the wild tribes, one to ten, a voice kept crying in
my ear, even as thou hast cried, 'What didst thou know of love, Mahommed
Selim!'  One by one the men of Beni Souef fell round me; one by one they
spoke of their village and of their women, and begged for a drop of
water, and died.  And my heart grew hot within me, and a spirit kept
whispering in my ear: 'Mahommed Selim, think of the village thou hast
shamed, of Soada thou hast wronged!  No drop of water shall cheer thy
soul in dying!'"

Fatima and Soada listened now with bated breath, for this was the voice
of one who had drunk the vinegar and gall of life.

"When the day was done, and sleep was upon the barrack-house, my heart
waked up and I knew that I loved Soada as I had never loved her.  I ran
into the desert, and the jackals flew before me--outcasts of the desert,
they and I.  Coming to the tomb of Amshar the sheikh, by which was a
well, there I found a train of camels.  One of these I stole, and again I
ran into the desert, and left the jackals behind.  Hour after hour, day
and night, I rode on.  But faintness was upon me, and dreams came.  For
though only the sands were before me, I seemed to watch the Nile running-
-running, and thou beside it, hastening with it, hastening, hastening
towards thy home.  And Allah put a thorn into my heart, that a sharp pain
went through my body--and at last I fell."

Soada's eyes were on him now with a strange, swimming brilliancy.

"Mahommed--Mahommed Selim, Allah touched thine eyes that thou didst see
truly," she said eagerly.  "Speak not till I have done," he answered.
"When I waked again I was alone in the desert, no food, no water, and the
dead camel beside me.  But I had no fear.  'If it be God's will,' said I,
'then I shall come unto Soada.  If it be not God's will, so be it: for
are we not on the cushion of His mercy, to sleep or to wake, to live or
to die?'"

He paused, tottering, and presently sank upon the ground, his hands
drooped before him, his head bent down.  Old Fatima touched him on the
shoulder.

"Brother of vultures didst thou go forth; brother of eagles dost thou
return," she said.  "Eat, drink, in the house of thy child and its
mother."

"Shall the unforgiven eat or drink?" he asked, and he rocked his body to
and fro, like one who chants the Koran in a corner of El Azhar,
forgetting and forgotten.

Soada's eyes were on him now as though they might never leave him again;
and she dragged herself little by little towards him, herself and the
child--little by little, until at last she touched his feet, and the
child's face was turned towards him from its mother's breast.

"Thou art my love, Mahommed Selim," she said.  He raised his head from
his hands, a hunger of desire in his face.

"Thou art my lord," she added: "art thou not forgiven?  The little one is
thine and mine," she whispered.  "Wilt thou not speak to him?"

"Lest Allah should strike me with blindness and dry up the juice of my
veins, I will not touch thee or the child until all be righted.  Food
will I not eat, nor water drink until thou art mine--by the law of the
Prophet, mine."

Laying down the water-jar, and the plate of dourha bread, old Fatima
gathered her robe about her, and cried as she ran from the house:
"Marriage and fantasia thou shalt have this hour."

The stiffness seemed to pass from her bones as she ran through the
village to the house of the Omdah.  Her voice, lifting shrilly, sang the
Song of Haleel, the song of the newly married, till it met the chant of
the Muezzin on the tower of the mosque El Hassan, and mingled with it,
dying away over the fields of bersim and the swift-flowing Nile.

That night Mahommed Selim and Soada the daughter of Wassef the camel-
driver were married, but the only fantasia they held was their own low
laughter over the child.  In the village, however, people were little
moved to smile, for they knew that Mahommed Selim was a deserter from the
army of the Khedive at Dongola, and that meant death.  But no one told
Soada this, and she did not think; she was content to rest in the
fleeting dream.

"Give them twenty-four hours," said the black-visaged fat sergeant of
cavalry come to arrest Mahommed Selim for desertion.

The father of Mahommed Selim again offered the Mamour a feddan of land if
the young man might go free, and to the sergeant he offered a she-camel
and a buffalo.  To no purpose.  It was Mahommed Selim himself who saved
his father's goods to him.  He sent this word to the sergeant by Yusef
the drunken ghaffir: "Give me to another sunset and sunrise, and what I
have is thine--three black donkeys of Assiout rented to old Abdullah the
sarraf."

Because with this offer he should not only have backsheesh but the man
also, the fat sergeant gave him leave.  When the time was up, and
Mahommed Selim drew Soada's face to his breast, he knew that it was the
last look and last embrace.

"I am going back," he said; "my place is empty at Dongola."

"No, no, thou shalt not go," she cried.  "See how the little one loves
thee," she urged, and, sobbing, she held the child up to him.

But he spoke softly to her, and at last she said: "Kiss me, Mahommed
Selim.  Behold now thy discharge shall be bought from the palace of the
Khedive, and soon thou wilt return," she cried.

"If it be the will of God," he answered; "but the look of thine eyes I
will take with me, and the face of the child here."  He thrust a finger
into the palm of the child, and the little dark hand closed round it.
But when he would have taken it away, the little hand still clung, though
the eyes were scarce opened upon life.

"See, Mahommed Selim," Soada cried, "he would go with thee."

"He shall come to me one day, by the mercy of God," answered Mahommed
Selim.

Then he went out into the market-place and gave himself up to the fat
sergeant.  As they reached the outskirts of the village a sorry camel
came with a sprawling gallop after them, and swaying and rolling above it
was Yusef, the drunken ghaffir, his naboot of dom-wood across his knees.

"What dost thou come for, friend of the mercy of God?" asked Mahommed
Selim.

"To be thy messenger, praise be to God!" answered Yusef, swinging his
water-bottle clear for a drink.



V

In Egypt, the longest way round is not the shortest way home, and that
was why Mahommed Selim's court-martial took just three minutes and a
half; and the bimbashi who judged him found even that too long, for he
yawned in the deserter's face as he condemned him to death.

Mahommed Selim showed no feeling when the sentence was pronounced.  His
face had an apathetic look.  It seemed as if it were all one to him.  But
when they had turned him round to march to the shed where he was to be
kept, till hung like a pig at sunrise, his eyes glanced about restlessly.
For even as the sentence had been pronounced a new idea had come into his
mind.  Over the heads of the Gippy soldiers, with their pipestem legs,
his look flashed eagerly, then a little painfully--then suddenly stayed,
for it rested on the green turban of Yusef, the drunken ghaffir.  Yusef's
eyes were almost shut; his face had the grey look of fresh-killed veal,
for he had come from an awful debauch of hashish.

"Allah!  Allah!" cried Mahommed Selim, for that was the sound which
always waked the torpid brain of Yusef since Wassef the camel-driver's
skull had crackled under his naboot.

Yusef's wide shoulders straightened back, his tongue licked his lips, his
eyes stared before him, his throat was dry.  He licked his lips again.
"Allah!" he cried and ran forward.

The soldiers thrust Yusef back.  Mahommed Selim turned and whispered to
the sergeant.

"Backsheesh!" he said; "my grey Arab for a word with Yusef the ghaffir."

"Malaish!" said the sergeant; and the soldiers cleared a way for Yusef.

The palms of the men from Beni Souef met once, twice, thrice; they
touched their lips, their breasts, their foreheads, with their hands,
three times.  Then Mahommed Selim fell upon the breast of Yusef and
embraced him.  Doing so he whispered in his ear:

"In the name of Allah, tell Soada I died fighting the Dervishes!"

"So be it, in God's name!" said Yusef.  "A safe journey to you, brother
of giants."

Next morning at sunrise, between two dom-palms, stood Mahommed Selim; but
scarce a handful of the soldiers sent to see him die laughed when the
rope was thrown over his head.  For his story had gone abroad, and it was
said that he was mad--none but a madman would throw away his life for a
fellah woman.  And was it not written that a madman was one beloved of
Allah, who had taken his spirit up into heaven, leaving only the
disordered body behind?

If, at the last moment, Mahommed Selim had but cried out: "I am mad; with
my eyes I have seen God!" no man would have touched the rope that hanged
him up that day.

But, according to the sacred custom, he only asked for a bowl of water,
drank it, said "Allah!" and bowed his head three times towards Mecca--
and bowed his head no more.

Before another quarter was added to the moon, Yusef, the drunken ghaffir,
at the door of Soada's hut in Beni Souef, told old Fatima the most
wonderful tale, how Mahommed Selim had died on his sheepskin, having
killed ten Dervishes with his own hand; and that a whole regiment had
attended his funeral.

This is to the credit of Yusef's account, that the last half of his
statement was no lie.



ON THE REEF OF NORMAN'S WOE

              "It was the schooner Hesperus
               That sailed the wintry sea;
               And the skipper had taken his little daughter
               To bear him company.
                    -------------------
               Such was the wreck of the Hesperus
               In the midnight and the snow!
               Christ save us all from a death like this,
               On the reef of Norman's woe!"

Only it was not the schooner Hesperus, and she did not sail the wintry
sea.  It was the stern-wheeled tub Amenhotep, which churned her way up
and down the Nile, scraping over sand banks, butting the shores with
gaiety embarrassing--for it was the time of cholera, just before the
annual rise of the Nile.  Fielding Bey, the skipper, had not taken his
little daughter, for he had none; but he had taken little Dicky Donovan,
who had been in at least three departments of the Government, with
advantage to all.

Dicky was dining with Fielding at the Turf Club, when a telegram came
saying that cholera had appeared at a certain village on the Nile.
Fielding had dreaded this, had tried to make preparation for it, had
begged of the Government this reform and that--to no purpose.  He knew
that the saving of the country from an epidemic lay with his handful of
Englishmen and the faithful native officials; but chiefly with the
Englishmen.  He was prepared only as a forlorn hope is prepared, with
energy, with personal courage, with knowledge; and never were these more
needed.

With the telegram in his hand, he thought of his few English assistants,
and sighed; for the game they would play was the game of Hercules and
Death over the body of Alcestis.

Dicky noted the sigh, read the telegram, drank another glass of claret,
lighted a cigarette, drew his coffee to him, and said: "The Khedive is
away--I'm off duty; take me."

Fielding looked surprised, yet with an eye of hope.  If there was one man
in Egypt who could do useful work in the business, it was little Dicky
Donovan, who had a way with natives such as no man ever had in Egypt; who
knew no fear of anything mortal; who was as tireless as a beaver, as
keen-minded as a lynx is sharp-eyed.  It was said to Dicky's discredit
that he had no heart, but Fielding knew better.  When Dicky offered
himself now, Fielding said, almost feverishly: "But, dear old D., you
don't see--"

"Don't I?--Well, then,

             "'What are the blessings of the sight?--
               Oh, tell your poor blind boy!'"

What Fielding told him did not alter his intention, nor was it Fielding's
wish that it should, though he felt it right to warn the little man what
sort of thing was in store for them.

"As if I don't know, old lime-burner!" answered Dicky coolly.

In an hour they were on the Amenhotep, and in two hours they were on the
way--a floating hospital--to the infected district of Kalamoun.  There
the troubles began.  It wasn't the heat, and it wasn't the work, and it
wasn't the everlasting care of the sick: it was the ceaseless hunt for
the disease-stricken, the still, tireless opposition of the natives, the
remorseless deception, the hopeless struggle against the covert odds.
With nothing behind: no support from the Government, no adequate
supplies, few capable men; and all the time the dead, inert, dust-
powdered air; the offices of policeman, doctor, apothecary, even
undertaker and gravedigger, to perform; and the endless weeks of it all.
A handful of good men under two leaders of nerve, conscience and ability,
to fight an invisible enemy, which, gaining headway, would destroy its
scores of thousands!

At the end of the first two months Fielding Bey became hopeless.

"We can't throttle it," he said to Dicky Donovan.  "They don't give us
the ghost of a chance.  To-day I found a dead-un hid in an oven under a
heap of flour to be used for to-morrow's baking; I found another doubled
up in a cupboard, and another under a pile of dourha which will be ground
into flour."

"With twenty ghaffirs I beat five cane and dourha fields this morning,"
said Dicky.  "Found three cases.  They'd been taken out of the village
during the night."

"Bad ones?"

"So so.  They'll be worse before they're better.  That was my morning's
flutter.  This afternoon I found the huts these gentlemen call their
homes.  I knocked holes in the roofs per usual, burnt everything that
wasn't wood, let in the light o' heaven, and splashed about limewash and
perchloride.  That's my day's tot-up.  Any particular trouble?" he
added, eyeing Fielding closely.

Fielding fretfully jerked his foot on the floor, and lighted his pipe,
the first that day.

"Heaps.  I've put the barber in prison, and given the sarraf twenty
lashes for certifying that the death of the son of the Mamour was el
aadah--the ordinary.  It was one of the worst cases I've ever seen.  He
fell ill at ten and was dead at two, the permis d'inhumation was given at
four, and the usual thing occurred: the bodywashers got the bedding and
clothing, and the others the coverlet.  God only knows who'll wear that
clothing, who'll sleep in that bed!"

"If the Lord would only send them sense, we'd supply sublimate solution--
douche and spray, and zinc for their little long boxes of bones," mused
Dicky, his eyes half shut, as he turned over in his hands some scarabs a
place-hunting official had brought him that day.  "Well, that isn't all?"
he added, with a quick upward glance and a quizzical smile.  His eyes,
however, as they fell on Fielding's, softened in a peculiar way, and a
troubled look flashed through them; for Fielding's face was drawn and
cold, though the eyes were feverish, and a bright spot burned on his high
cheek-bones.

"No, it isn't all, Dicky.  The devil's in the whole business.  Steady,
sullen opposition meets us at every hand.  Norman's been here--rode over
from Abdallah--twenty-five miles.  A report's going through the native
villages, started at Abdallah, that our sanitary agents are throwing
yellow handkerchiefs in the faces of those they're going to isolate."

"That's Hoskai Bey's yellow handkerchief.  He's a good man, but he blows
his nose too much, and blows it with a flourish.  .  .  .  Has Norman
gone back?"

"No, I've made him lie down in my cabin.  He says he can't sleep, says he
can only work.  He looks ten years older.  Abdallah's an awful place, and
it's a heavy district.  The Mamour there's a scoundrel.  He has
influenced the whole district against Norman and our men.  Norman--you
know what an Alexander-Hannibal baby it is, all the head of him good for
the best sort of work anywhere, all the fat heart of him dripping
sentiment--gave a youngster a comfit the other day.  By some infernal
accident the child fell ill two days afterwards--it had been sucking its
father's old shoe--and Norman just saved its life by the skin of his
teeth.  If the child had died, there'd have been a riot probably.  As it
is, there's talk that we're scattering poisoned sweetmeats to spread the
disease.  He's done a plucky thing, though.  .  .  ."  He paused.  Dicky
looked up inquiringly, and Fielding continued.  "There's a fellow called
Mustapha Kali, a hanger-on of the Mudir of the province.  He spread a
report that this business was only a scare got up by us; that we poisoned
the people and buried them alive.  What does Norman do?  He promptly
arrests him, takes him to the Mudir, and says that the brute must be
punished or he'll carry the matter to the Khedive."

"Here's to you, Mr. Norman!" said Dicky, with a little laugh.  "What
does the Mudir do?"

"Doesn't know what to do.  He tells Norman to say to me that if he puts
the fellow in prison there'll be a riot, for they'll make a martyr of
him.  If he fines him it won't improve matters.  So he asks me to name
a punishment which'll suit our case.  He promises to give it 'his most
distinguished consideration.'"

"And what's your particular poison for him?" asked Dicky, with his eyes
on the Cholera Hospital a few hundred yards away.

"I don't know.  If he's punished in the ordinary way it will only make
matters worse, as the Mudir says.  Something's needed that will play our
game and turn the tables on the reptile too."

"A sort of bite himself with his own fangs, eh?" Dicky seemed only idly
watching the moving figures by the hospital.

"Yes, but what is it?  I can't inoculate him with bacilli.  That's what'd
do the work, I fancy."

"Pocket your fancy, Fielding," answered Dicky.  "Let me have a throw."

"Go on.  If you can't hit it off, it's no good, for my head doesn't think
these days: it only sees, and hears, and burns."

Dicky eyed Fielding keenly, and then, pouring out some whiskey for
himself, put the bottle on the floor beside him, casually as it were.
Then he said, with his girlish laugh, not quite so girlish these days:
"I've got his sentence pat--it'll meet the case, or you may say, 'Cassio,
never more be officer of mine.'"

He drew over a piece of paper lying on the piano--for there was a piano
on the Amenhotep, and with what seemed an audacious levity Fielding
played in those rare moments when they were not working or sleeping; and
Fielding could really play!  As Dicky wrote he read aloud in a kind of
legal monotone:

     The citizen Mustapha Kali having asserted that there is no cholera,
     and circulated various false statements concerning the treatment of
     patients, is hereby appointed as hospital-assistant for three
     months, in the Cholera Hospital of Kalamoun, that he may have
     opportunity of correcting his opinions.
                         --Signed Ebn ben Hari, Mudir of Abdallah.

Fielding lay back and laughed--the first laugh on his lips for a
fortnight.  He laughed till his dry, fevered lips took on a natural
moisture, and he said at last: "You've pulled it off, D.  That's
masterly.  You and Norman have the only brains in this show.  I get
worse every day; I do--upon my soul!"

There was a curious anxious look in Dicky's eyes, but he only said: "You
like it?  Think it fills the bill, eh?"

"If the Mudir doesn't pass the sentence I'll shut up shop."  He leaned
over anxiously to Dicky and gripped his arm.  "I tell you this pressure
of opposition has got to be removed, or we'll never get this beast of an
epidemic under, but we'll go under instead, my boy."

"Oh, we're doing all right," Dicky answered, with only apparent
carelessness.  "We've got inspection of the trains, we've got some sort
of command of the foreshores, we've got the water changed in the mosques,
we've closed the fountains, we've stopped the markets, we've put
Sublimate Pasha and Limewash Effendi on the war-path, and--"

"And the natives believe in lighted tar-barrels and a cordon sanitaire!
No, D., things must take a turn, or the game's lost and we'll go with it.
Success is the only thing that'll save their lives--and ours: we couldn't
stand failure in this.  A man can walk to the gates of hell to do the
hardest trick, and he'll come back one great blister and live, if he's
done the thing he set out for; but if he doesn't do it, he falls into the
furnace.  He never comes back.  Dicky, things must be pulled our way, or
we go to deep damnation."

Dicky turned a little pale, for there was high nervous excitement in
Fielding's words; and for a moment he found it hard to speak.  He was
about to say something, however, when Fielding continued.

"Norman there,"--he pointed to the deck-cabin, "Norman's the same.  He
says it's do or die; and he looks it.  It isn't like a few fellows
besieged by a host.  For in that case you wait to die, and you fight to
the last, and you only have your own lives.  But this is different.
We're fighting to save these people from themselves; and this slow,
quiet, deadly work, day in, day out, in the sickening sun and smell-
faugh!  the awful smell in the air--it kills in the end, if you don't
pull your game off.  You know it's true."

His eyes had an eager, almost prayerful look; he was like a child in his
simple earnestness.  His fingers moved over the maps on the table, in
which were little red and white and yellow flags, the white flags to mark
the towns and villages where they had mastered the disease, the red flags
to mark the new ones attacked, the yellow to indicate those where the
disease was raging.  His fingers touched one of the flags, and he looked
down.

"See, D.  Here are two new places attacked to-day.

"I must ride over to Abdallah when Norman goes.  It's all so hopeless!"

"Things will take a turn," rejoined Dicky, with a forced gaiety.  "You
needn't ride over to Abdallah.  I'll go with Norman, and what's more I'll
come back here with Mustapha Kali."

"You'll go to the Mudir?" asked Fielding eagerly.  He seemed to set so
much store by this particular business.

"I'll bring the Mudir too, if there's any trouble," said Dicky grimly;
though it is possible he did not mean what he said.

Two hours later Fielding, Dicky, and Norman were in conference, extending
their plans of campaign.  Fielding and Norman were eager and nervous, and
their hands and faces seemed to have taken on the arid nature of the
desert.  Before they sat down Dicky had put the bottle of whiskey out of
easy reach; for Fielding, under ordinary circumstances the most
abstemious of men, had lately, in his great fatigue and overstrain,
unconsciously emptied his glass more often than was wise for a campaign
of long endurance.  Dicky noticed now, as they sat round the table, that
Norman's hand went to the coffee-pot as Fielding's had gone to his glass.
What struck him as odd also was that Fielding seemed to have caught
something of Norman's manner.  There was the same fever in the eyes,
though Norman's face was more worn and the eyes more sunken.  He looked
like a man that was haunted.  There was, too, a certain air of
helplessness about him, a primitive intensity almost painful.  Dicky saw
Fielding respond to this in a curious way--it was the kind of fever that
passes quickly from brain to brain when there is not sound bodily health
commanded by a cool intelligence to insulate it.  Fielding had done the
work of four men for over two months, and, like most large men, his
nerves had given in before Dicky's, who had done six men's work at least,
and, by his power of organisation and his labour-saving intelligence,
conserved the work of another fifty.

The three were sitting silent, having arranged certain measures, when
Norman sprang to his feet excitedly and struck the table with his hand.

"It's no use, sir," he said to Fielding, "I'll have to go.  I'm no good.
I neglect my duty.  I was to be back at Abdallah at five.  I forgot all
about it.  A most important thing.  A load of fessikh was landed at
Minkari, five miles beyond Abdallah.  We've prohibited fessikh.  I was
going to seize it.  .  .  .  It's no good.  It's all so hopeless here."

Dicky knew now that the beginning of the end had come for Norman.  There
were only two things to do: get him away shooting somewhere, or humour
him here.  But there was no chance for shooting till things got very much
better.  The authorities in Cairo would never understand, and the
babbling social-military folk would say that they had calmly gone
shooting while pretending to stay the cholera epidemic.  It wouldn't be
possible to explain that Norman was in a bad way, and that it was done to
give him half a chance of life.

Fielding also ought to have a few days clear away from this constant
pressure and fighting, and the sounds and the smells of death; but it
could not be yet.  Therefore, to humour them both was the only thing,
and Norman's was the worse case.  After all, they had got a system of
sanitary supervision, they had the disease by the throat, and even in
Cairo the administration was waking up a little.  The crisis would soon
pass perhaps, if a riot could be stayed and the natives give up their
awful fictions of yellow handkerchiefs, poisoned sweetmeats, deadly
limewash, and all such nonsense.

So Dicky said now, "All right, Norman; come along.  You'll seize that
fessikh, and I'll bring back Mustapha Kali.  We'll work him as he has
never worked in his life.  He'll be a living object-lesson.  We'll have
all Upper Egypt on the banks of the Nile waiting to see what happens to
Mustapha."

Dicky laughed, and Fielding responded feebly; but Norman was looking at
the hospital with a look too bright for joy, too intense for despair.

"I found ten in a corner of a cane-field yesterday," he said dreamily.
"Four were dead, and the others had taken the dead men's smocks as
covering."  He shuddered.  "I see nothing but limewash, smell nothing but
carbolic.  It's got into my head.  Look here, old man, I can't stand it.
I'm no use," he added pathetically to Fielding.

"You're right enough, if you'll not take yourself so seriously," said
Dicky jauntily.  "You mustn't try to say, 'Alone I did it.'  Come along.
Fill your tobacco-pouch.  There are the horses.  I'm ready."

He turned to Fielding.

"It's going to be a stiff ride, Fielding.  But I'll do it in twenty-four
hours, and bring Mustapha Kali too--for a consideration."

He paused, and Fielding said, with an attempt at playfulness: "Name your
price."

"That you play for me, when I get back, the overture of 'Tannhauser'.
Play it, mind; no tuning-up sort of thing, like last Sunday's
performance.  Practise it, my son!  Is it a bargain?  I'm not going to
work for nothing a day."

He watched the effect of his words anxiously, for he saw how needful
it was to divert Fielding's mind in the midst of all this "plague,
pestilence, and famine."  For days Fielding had not touched the piano,
the piano which Mrs. Henshaw, widow of Henshaw of the Buffs, had insisted
on his taking with him a year before, saying that it would be a cure for
loneliness when away from her.  During the first of these black days
Fielding had played intermittently for a few moments at a time, and Dicky
had noticed that after playing he seemed in better spirits.  But lately
the disease of a ceaseless unrest, of constant sleepless work, was on
him.  He had not played for near a week, saying, in response to Dicky's
urging, that there was no time for music.  And Dicky knew that presently
there would be no time to eat, and then no time to sleep; and then, the
worst!

Dicky had pinned his faith and his friendship to Fielding, and he saw no
reason why he should lose his friend because Madame Cholera was stalking
the native villages, driving the fellaheen before her like sheep to the
slaughter.

"Is it a bargain?" he added, as Fielding did not at once reply.  If
Fielding would but play it would take the strain off his mind at times.

"All right, D., I'll see what I can do with it," said Fielding, and with
a nod turned to the map with the little red and white and yellow flags,
and began to study it.

He did not notice that one of his crew abaft near the wheel was watching
him closely, while creeping along the railing on the pretence of cleaning
it.  Fielding was absorbed in making notes upon a piece of paper and
moving the little flags about.  Now he lit a cigar and began walking up
and down the deck.

The Arab disappeared, but a few minutes afterwards returned.  The deck
was empty.  Fielding had ridden away to the village.  The map was still
on the table.  With a frightened face the Arab peered at it, then going
to the side he called down softly, and there came up from the lower deck
a Copt, the sarraf of the village, who could read English fairly.  The
Arab pointed to the map, and the Copt approached cautiously.  A few feet
away he tried to read what was on the map, but, unable to do so, drew
closer, pale-faced and knockkneed, and stared at the map and the little
flags.  An instant after he drew back, and turned to the Arab.  "May God
burn his eyes!  He sends the death to the village by moving the flags.
May God change him into a dog to be beaten to death!  The red is to
begin, the white flag is for more death, the yellow is for enough.
See--may God cut off his hand!--he has moved the white flag to our
village."  He pointed in a trembling fear, half real, half assumed--
for he was of a nation of liars.

During the next half-hour at least a dozen Arabs came to look at the map,
but they disappeared like rats in a hole when, near midnight, Fielding's
tall form appeared on the bank above.

It was counted to him as a devil's incantation, the music that he played
that night, remembering his promise to Dicky Donovan.  It was music
through which breathed the desperate, troubled, aching heart and tortured
mind of an overworked strong man.  It cried to the night its trouble; but
far over in the Cholera Hospital the sick heard it and turned their faces
towards it eagerly.  It pierced the apathy of the dying.  It did more,
for it gave Fielding five hours' sleep that night; and though he waked to
see one of his own crew dead on the bank, he tackled the day's labour
with more hope than he had had for a fortnight.

As the day wore on, however, his spirits fell, for on every hand was
suspicion, unrest, and opposition, and his native assistants went
sluggishly about their work.  It was pathetic and disheartening to see
people refusing to be protected, the sick refusing to be relieved, all
stricken with fear, yet inviting death by disobeying the Inglesi.

Kalamoun was hopeless; yet twenty-four hours earlier Fielding had fancied
there was a little light in the darkness.  That night Fielding's music
gave him but two hours' sleep, and he had to begin the day on a brandy-
and-soda.  Wherever he went open resistance blocked his way, hisses and
mutterings followed him, the sick were hid in all sorts of places, and
two of his assistants deserted before noon.  Things looked ominous
enough, and at five o'clock he made up his mind that Egypt would be
overrun with cholera, and that he should probably have to defend himself
and the Amenhotep from rioters, for the native police would be useless.

But at five o'clock Dicky Donovan came in a boat, and with him Mustapha
Kali under a native guard of four men.  The Mudir's sense of humour had
been touched, and this sense of humour probably saved the Mudir from
trouble, for it played Dicky's game for him.

Mustapha Kali had been sentenced to serve in the Cholera Hospital of
Kalamoun, that he might be cured of his unbelief.  At first he had taken
his fate hardly, but Dicky had taunted him and then had suggested that a
man whose conscience was clear and convictions good would carry a high
head in trouble.  Dicky challenged him to prove his libels by probing the
business to the bottom, like a true scientist.  All the way from Abdallah
Dicky talked to him so, and at last the only answer Mustapha Kali would
make was, "Malaish no matter!"

Mustapha Kali pricked up his ears with hope as he saw the sullen crowds
from Kalamoun gathering on the shore to watch his deportation to the
Cholera Hospital; and, as he stepped from the khiassa, he called out
loudly:

"They are all dogs and sons of dogs, and dogs were their grandsires.  No
good is in a dog the offspring of a dog.  Whenever these dogs scratch the
ground the dust of poison is in the air, and we die."

"You are impolite, Mustapha Kali," said Dicky coolly, and offered him a
cigarette.

The next three days were the darkest in Dicky Donovan's career.  On the
first day there came word that Norman, overwrought, had shot himself.  On
the next, Mustapha Kali in a fit of anger threw a native policeman into
the river, and when his head appeared struck it with a barge-pole, and
the man sank to rise no more.  The three remaining policemen, two of whom
were Soudanese, and true to Dicky, bound him and shut him up in a hut.
When that evening Fielding refused to play, Dicky knew that Norman's fate
had taken hold of him, and that he must watch his friend every minute--
that awful vigilance which kills the watcher in the end.  Dicky said to
himself more than once that day:

              "Christ save us all from a death like this,
               On the reef of Norman's woe!"

But it was not Dicky who saved Fielding.  On the third day the long-
deferred riot broke out.  The Copt and the Arab had spread the report
that Fielding brought death to the villages by moving the little flags
on his map.  The populace rose.

Fielding was busy with the map at the dreaded moment that hundreds of the
villagers appeared upon the bank and rushed the Amenhotep.  Fielding and
Dicky were both armed, but Fielding would not fire until he saw that his
own crew had joined the rioters on the bank.  Then, amid a shower of
missiles, he shot the Arab who had first spread the report about the map
and the flags.

Now Dicky and he were joined by Holgate, the Yorkshire engineer of the
Amenhotep, and together the three tried to hold the boat.  Every native
had left them.  They were obliged to retreat aft to the deckcabin.
Placing their backs against it, they prepared to die hard.  No one could
reach them from behind, at least.

It was an unequal fight.  All three had received slight wounds, but the
blood-letting did them all good.  Fielding was once more himself; nervous
anxiety, unrest, had gone from him.  He was as cool as a cucumber.  He
would not go shipwreck now "on the reef of Norman's woe."  Here was a
better sort of death.  No men ever faced it with quieter minds than did
the three.  Every instant brought it nearer.

All at once there was a cry and a stampede in the rear of the attacking
natives.  The crowd suddenly parted like two waves, and retreated; and
Mustapha Kali, almost naked, and supported by a stolid Soudanese, stood
before the three.  He was pallid, his hands and brow were dripping sweat,
and there was a look of death in his eyes.

"I have cholera, effendi!" he cried.  "Take me to Abdallah to die, that
I may be buried with my people and from mine own house."

"Is it not poison?" asked Fielding grimly, yet seeing now a ray of hope
in the sickening business.

"It is cholera, effendi.  Take me home to die."

"Very well.  Tell the people so, and I will take you home, and I will
bury you with your fathers," said Fielding.

Mustapha Kali turned slowly.  "I am sick of cholera," he said as loudly
as he could to the awe-stricken crowd.  "May God not cool my resting-
place if it be not so!"

"Tell the people to go to their homes and obey us," said Dicky, putting
away his pistol.

"These be good men, I have seen with mine own eyes," said Mustapha
hoarsely to the crowd.  "It is for your good they do all.  Have I not
seen?  Let God fill both my hands with dust if it be not so!  God hath
stricken me, and behold I give myself into the hands of the Inglesi, for
I believe!"

He would have fallen to the ground, but Dicky and the Soudanese caught
him and carried him down to the bank, while the crowd scuttled from the
boat, and Fielding made ready to bear the dying man to Abdallah--a race
against death.

Fielding brought Mustapha Kali to Abdallah in time to die there, and
buried him with his fathers; and Dicky stayed behind to cleanse Kalamoun
with perchloride and limewash.

The story went abroad and travelled fast, and the words of Mustapha Kali,
oft repeated, became as the speech of a holy man; and the people no
longer hid their dead, but brought them to the Amenhotep.

This was the beginning of better things; the disease was stayed.

And for all the things that these men did--Fielding Bey and Donovan
Pasha--they got naught but an Egyptian ribbon to wear on the breast and
a laboured censure from the Administration for overrunning the budget
allowance.

Dicky, however, seemed satisfied, for Fielding's little barque of life
had not gone down "On the reef of Norman's woe."  Mrs. Henshaw felt so
also when she was told all, and she disconcerted Dicky by bursting into
tears.

"Why those tears?" said Dicky to Fielding afterwards; "I wasn't
eloquent."



GLOSSARY

Aiwa, effendi----Yea, noble sir.
Allah----God.
Allah-haly 'm alla-haly----A singsong of river-workers.
Allah Kerim----God is bountiful.
Allshu Akbar----God is most Great.
A'l'meh----Female professional singers
Antichi----Antiquities.

Backsheesh----Tip, douceur, bribe.
Balass----Earthen vessel for carrying water.
Basha----Pasha.
Bersim----Grass.
Bimbashi----Major.
Bishareen----A native tribe.
Bismillah----In the name of God.
Bowab----A doorkeeper.

Corvee----Forced labour.

Dahabeah----A Nile houseboat with large lateen sails.
Darabukkeh----A drum made of a skin stretched over an earthenware funnel.
Doash----(Literally) Treading.  A ceremony performed on the return of the
         Holy Carpet from Mecca.
Dourha----Maize.

Effendina----Highness.
El aadah----The ordinary.
El Azhar----The Arab University at Cairo.
Fantasia----Celebration with music, dancing, and processions.
Farshoot----The name of a native tribe.
Fatihah----The opening chapter of the Koran, recited at weddings, etc.

Feddan----The most common measure of land--a little less than an acre.
          Also dried hay.
Fellah (plu. fellaheen)----The Egyptian peasant.
Felucca----A small boat, propelled by oars or sails.
Fessikh----Salted fish.
Ghaffirs----Humble village officials.
Ghawdzee----The tribe of public dancing-girls.  A female of this tribe is
            called "Ghazeeyeh," and a man "Ghazee," but the plural
            Ghawazee is generally understood as applying to the female.
Ghimah----The Mahommedan Sunday.

Gippy----Colloquial name for an Egyptian soldier.
Goolah----Porous water-jar of Nile mud.
Hakim----Doctor.
Hanouti----Funeral attendants.
Hari-kari----An Oriental form of suicide.
Hashish----Leaves of hemp.
Inshallah----God willing.
Jibbeh----Long coat or smock, worn by dervishes.
Kavass----An orderly.
Kemengeh----A cocoanut fiddle.
Khamsin----A hot wind of Egypt and the Soudan.
Khedive----The title granted in 1867 by the Sultan of Turkey to the ruler
           of Egypt.
Khiassa----Small boat.
Khowagah----Gentleman.
Koran----The Scriptures of the Mahommedans.
Kourbash----A stick, a whip.

La ilaha illa-llah----There is no God but God.
Mafish----Nothing.
Magnoon----Fool.
Malaish----No matter.
Mamour----A magistrate.
Mankalah----A game.
Mastaba----A bench.
Mejidieh----A Turkish Order.
Mirkaz----District.
Moghassils----Washers of the dead.
Moufetish----High steward.
Mudir----A Governor of a Mudirieh or province.
Muezzin----The sheikh of the mosque who calls to prayer.
Mushrabieh----Lattice window.

Naboot----Quarter staff.
Narghileh----The Oriental tobacco-pipe.
Nehar-ak koom said----Greeting to you.
Omdah----The head of a village.
Ooster----One of the best sort.

Ramadan----The Mahommedan season of fasting.
Reis----Pilot.

Saadat el basha----Excellency.
Sais----Groom.
Sakkia----Persian water-wheel.
Salaam----A salutation of the East; an obeisance, performed by bowing
          very low and placing the right palm on the forehead and on the
          breast.
Sarraf----An accountant.
Shadoof----Bucket and pole used by natives for lifting water.
Sha'er----A reciter.  (The singular of Sho'ara, properly signifying a
          poet.)
Sheikh-el-beled----Head of a village.
Shintiyan----Very wide trousers, worn by the women of the middle and
             higher orders.
Sitt----"The Lady."

Tarboosh----Fez or native turban.
Tarah----A veil for the head.
Ulema----Learned men.

Waled----A boy.
Wekeel----A deputy.
Welee----A favourite of Heaven; colloquially a saint.

Yashmak----A veil for the lower part of the face.
Yelek----A long vest or smock, worn over the shirt and shintiyan.

Zeriba----A palisade.



ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

A look too bright for joy, too intense for despair
His gift for lying was inexpressible
One favour is always the promise of another





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