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Title: Hassan: or, The Child of the Pyramid - An Egyptian Tale
Author: Murray, Charles Augustus
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Hassan: or, The Child of the Pyramid - An Egyptian Tale" ***

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                                =HASSAN=



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                                =HASSAN=


                        THE CHILD OF THE PYRAMID


                           _AN EGYPTIAN TALE_

               _WRITTEN AT BAGHDAD, WHEN H.B.M. MINISTER
                        TO THE COURT OF PERSIA_


                                 BY THE

                      HON. CHARLES A. MURRAY, C.B.

                               AUTHOR OF
            ‘THE PRAIRIE BIRD,’ ‘TRAVELS IN NORTH AMERICA,’
                                  ETC.


                       WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS
                          EDINBURGH AND LONDON
                                  MCMI

                         _All Rights reserved_

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               =HASSAN;=


                       THE CHILD OF THE PYRAMID.


More than thirty years have elapsed since, on a summer evening, the
tents of an Arab encampment might have been seen dotting the plain which
forms the western boundary of the Egyptian province of Bahyrah, a
district bordering on the great Libyan desert, and extending northward
as far as the shore of the Mediterranean.

The western portion of this province has been for many years, and
probably still is, the camping-ground of the powerful and warlike tribe
of the “Sons of Ali”; a branch of which tribe, acknowledging as its
chief Sheik Sâleh el-Ghazy, occupied the encampment above referred
to.[1]

The evening was calm and still, and lovely as childhood’s sleep: no
sound of rolling wheel, or distant anvil, or busy mill, or of the
thousand other accessories of human labour, intruded harshly on the ear.
Within the encampment there was indeed the “watch-dog’s honest bark,”
the voices of women and children, mingled with the deeper tones of the
evening prayer uttered by many a robed figure worshipping towards the
east, but beyond it nought was to be heard save the tinkling of the
bells of the home-coming flocks, and the soft western breeze whispering
among the branches of the graceful palms its joy at having passed the
regions of dreary sand. It seemed as if Nature herself were about to
slumber, and were inviting man to share her rest.

In front of his tent sat Sheik Sâleh, on a Turkish carpet, smoking his
pipe in apparent forgetfulness that his left arm was bandaged and
supported by a sling.

At a little distance from him were his two favourite mares, each with a
foal at her side, and farther off two or three score of goats, tethered
in line to a _kels_,[2] surrendering their milky stock to the expert
fingers of two of the inmates of the Sheik’s harem; beyond these,
several hundred sheep were taking their last nibble at the short herbs
freshened by the evening dew; while in the distance might be seen a
string of camels wending their slow and ungainly way homeward from the
edge of the desert: the foremost ridden by an urchin not twelve years
old, carolling at the utmost stretch of his lungs an ancient Arab ditty
addressed by some despairing lover to the gazelle-eyes of his mistress.

The Sheik sat listlessly, allowing his eyes to wander over these
familiar objects, and to rest on the golden clouds beyond, which crowned
the distant sandhills of the Libyan desert. The neglected pipe was
thrown across his knee, and he was insensibly yielding to the slumberous
influence of the hour, when his repose was suddenly disturbed by the
sound of voices in high altercation, and a few minutes afterwards his
son Hassan, a lad nearly sixteen years of age, stood before him, his
countenance bearing the traces of recent and still unsubdued passion,
while the blood trickled down his cheek.

Although scarcely emerged from boyhood, his height, the breadth of his
chest, and the muscular development of his limbs gave the impression of
his being two or three years older than he really was; in dress he
differed in no wise from the other Arab lads in the encampment, nor did
his complexion vary much from theirs—bronzed by constant exposure to
weather and sun; his eyes were not like those of the Arab race in
general—rather small, piercing, and deep-set—but remarkably large, dark,
and expressive, shaded by lashes of unusual length; a high forehead, a
nose rather Greek than Roman in its outline, and a mouth expressive of
frank mirth or settled determination, according to the mood of the hour,
completed the features of a countenance which, though eminently
handsome, it was difficult to assign to any particular country or race.
Such was the youth who now stood before his father, his breast still
heaving with indignation.

“What has happened, my son?” said the Sheik; “whence this anger, and
this blood on your cheek?”

“Son!” repeated the youth, in a tone in which passion was mingled with
irony.

“Whence this blood?” again demanded the Sheik, surprised at an emotion
such as he had never before witnessed in the youth.

“They say it is the blood of a bastard,” replied Hassan, his dark eye
gleaming with renewed indignation.

“What is that!” shrieked Khadijah, the wife of the Sheik, suddenly
appearing from an inner compartment of the tent, where she had overheard
what had passed.

“Peace, woman,” said the Sheik authoritatively; “and prepare a plaster
for Hassan’s wound.” Then turning to the latter, he added, in a milder
tone: “My son, remember the proverb, that patience is the key to
contentment, while anger opens the door to repentance. Calm your spirit,
and tell me plainly what has happened. Inshallah, we will find a
remedy.”

Hassan, having by this time recovered his composure, related how he had
been engaged in taking some horses to the water, when a dispute arose
between him and a young man named Youssuf Ebn-Solyman, in the course of
which the latter said to him—

“How dare you speak thus to me, you who are nothing but an Ebn-Haram?”
To this insult Hassan replied by a blow; Youssuf retaliated by striking
him on the temple with a stone; upon which, after a violent struggle,
Hassan succeeded in inflicting on his opponent a severe beating.

“And now,” said the youth, in concluding his narrative, “I wish to know
why I have been called by this hateful name—a name that disgraces both
you and my mother? I will not endure it, and whoever calls me so, be he
boy or man, I will have his blood.”

“Are you sure,” inquired the Sheik, “that he said _Hh_aram and not
Heram?”[3]

“I am sure,” replied Hassan, “for he repeated it twice with a tone of
contempt.”

“Then,” said the Sheik, “you were right to beat him; but the name, among
mischievous people, will occasion you many quarrels: henceforth in the
tribe you shall be called Hassan el-Gizèwi.”

“Why should I be called El-Gizèwi?” said the youth. “What have we,
Oulâd-Ali, to do with Gizeh and the Pyramids?”[4]

After some hesitation the Sheik replied, “We were passing through that
district when you were born; hence the name properly belongs to you.”

“Father,” said Hassan, fixing his dark eyes earnestly on the Sheik’s
countenance, “there is some secret here; I read it in your face. If I am
a child of shame let me know the worst, that I may go far away from the
tents of the Oulâd-Ali.”

Sheik Sâleh was more a man of deeds than of words, and this direct
appeal from Hassan sorely perplexed him; thinking it better at all
events to gain time for reflection, he replied—

“To-morrow you shall be told why you were called Ebn el-Heram, and why
there was no shame connected with the name. Now go into the tent; tell
Khadijah to dress your wound, and then to prepare my evening meal.”

Accustomed from his childhood to pay implicit obedience to parental
orders, Hassan retired into the inner tent, while the Sheik resumed his
pipe and his meditations. The result of them may be seen from a
conversation which he held with Khadijah when the other members of the
family had retired to rest.

“What is to be done in this matter?” said the Sheik to his spouse; “you
heard the questions which Hassan asked?”

“I did,” she replied. “By your blessed head it is better now to tell him
all the truth; the down is on his lip—he is no longer a child; his
curiosity is excited; several of our tribe know the secret, and,
although far away now, they may return, and he would learn it from
them.”

“That is true,” replied the Sheik; “yet if he knows that he is not our
child, he will not remain here—he will desire to find his real parents;
and I would rather part with my two best mares than with him. I love him
as if he were my son.”

Now Khadijah, who had three children still living—two girls, of whom the
eldest was fourteen, and a little boy aged eight years—did not love
Hassan quite as she loved her own children; although she had nurtured
and brought him up, a mother’s instincts prevailed, and she was somewhat
jealous of the hold which he had taken on the affections of the Sheik.
Under these impressions she replied—

“The truth cannot be long kept concealed from him; is it not better to
tell him at once? Every man must follow his destiny; that which is
written must come to pass.”

“I like not his going away,” said Sheik Sâleh moodily; “for that boy, if
he remain with us, will be an honour to our tent and to our tribe. There
is not one of his age who can run, or ride, or use a lance like him. In
the last expedition that I made against the tribe of Sammalous did he
not prevail on me to take him, by assuring me that he only wished to
follow at a distance with a spare horse in case of need; and did he not
bring me that spare horse in the thickest of the fight, and strike down
a Sammalous who was going to pierce me with his lance after I had
received this wound?” Here the Sheik cast his eyes down upon his wounded
arm, muttering, “A brave boy! a brave boy!”

Khadijah felt the truth of his observation, but she returned to the
charge, saying—

“Truly you men are wise in all that concerns horses, hunting, and
fighting; but in other matters, Allah knows that you have little sense.
Do you not see that the youth already doubts that he is our son, and you
have never adopted him according to the religious law.[5] He will
shortly learn the truth, others will know it too: then what will the men
and women of the tribe say of us, who allow this stranger in blood to
dwell familiarly in our tent with Temimah our daughter, whose days of
marriage should be near at hand?”

Khadijah was not wrong in believing that this last argument would touch
her husband in a tender point, for he was very proud of Temimah, and
looked forward to see her married into one of the highest families in
the tribe; he therefore gave up the contest with a sigh of
dissatisfaction, and consented that Khadijah should on the following
morning inform Hassan of all that she knew of his early history.

Now that she had gained the victory, Khadijah, like many other
conquerors, was at a loss how to improve it. She was essentially a
good-hearted woman, and although while Hassan’s interests came into
collision with those of her own offspring, Nature pleaded irresistibly
for the latter, still she called to mind how good and affectionate
Hassan had always been to herself, how he had protected and taken care
of her little son, and tears came into her eyes when she reflected that
the disclosure of the morrow must not only give him pain, but probably
cause a final separation.

The hours of night passed slowly away, but anxiety and excitement kept
unclosed the eyes of Hassan and Khadijah: the one hoping, yet fearing to
penetrate the mystery of his birth, the other unwilling to banish from
her sight one whom, now that she was about to lose him, she felt that
she loved more than she had been aware of.

The hours of night! Brief words that should indicate a short space of
universal tranquillity and repose, yet what a countless multitude of
human joys, sorrows, and vicissitudes do they embrace! In the forest and
in the wilderness they look upon the prowling wolf and the tiger
stealing towards their unconscious prey, upon the lurking assassin, the
noiseless ambush, and the stealthy band about to fall with war-shout and
lance on the slumbering caravan. In the densely peopled city they look
not on the sweet and refreshing rest which the God of nature meant them
to distil from their balmy wings, but on gorgeous rooms blazing with
light, in which love and hate, jealousy and envy, joy and sorrow, all
clothed with silk, with jewels, and with smiles, are busy as the
minstrel’s hand and the dancer’s feet; on halls where the circling cup,
and laugh, and song proclaim a more boisterous revelry; on the riotous
chambers of drunkenness; on those yet lower dens of vice into which a
ray of God’s blessed sun is never permitted to shine, where the frenzied
gambler stakes on the cast of a die the last hopes of his neglected
family; on the squalid haunts of misery, to whose wretched occupants the
gnawing pangs of hunger deny even the temporary forgetfulness of sleep.
Yes, on these and a thousand varieties of scenes like these, do the
hours of night look down from their starry height, wondering and weeping
to see how their peaceful influence is marred by the folly and depravity
of man.

Agreeably to Arab custom, Khadijah rose with the early dawn, and having
seen that her daughters and her two slave-girls were busied in their
respective morning tasks, she called Hassan into the inner tent in order
to give him the information which he had been awaiting through a
sleepless night of anxiety; but as the good woman accompanied her tale
with many irrelevant digressions, it will be more brief and intelligible
if we relate its substance in a narrative form.

A little more than fifteen years previous to the opening of our tale,
Khadijah, with her husband and a score of his followers, had been paying
a visit to a friendly tribe camped in the neighbourhood of Sakkarah.[6]

On returning northward, through the district of Ghizeh, near the Great
Pyramid, her child was born, who only survived a few days. It was buried
in the desert, and as her health had suffered from the shock, Sheik
Sâleh remained a short time in the neighbourhood, to allow her to
recruit her strength.

One evening she had strolled from his tent, and after wailing and
weeping a while over the grave of her little one, she went on and sat
down on the projecting base-stone of the Great Pyramid. While gazing on
the domes and minarets of the “Mother of the world,”[7] gilded by the
rays of a setting sun, her ears caught the sound of a horseman
approaching at full speed. So rapid was his progress that ere she had
time to move he was at her side.

“Bedouin woman,” he said to her, in a hurried and agitated voice, “are
you a mother?”

“I am,” she replied. “At least, I have been.”

“El-hamdu-lillah, praise be to God,” said the horseman. Dismounting, he
drew from under his cloak a parcel wrapped in a shawl and placed it
gently beside her at the base of the pyramid, then vaulting on his
horse, dashed his spurs into its flank, and disappeared with the same
reckless speed that had marked his approach.

The astonished Khadijah was still following with her eye his retreating
figure when a faint cry caught her ear. What mother’s ear was ever deaf
to that sound? Hastily withdrawing the shawl, she found beneath it an
infant whose features and dress indicated a parentage of the higher
class. Around his neck was an amulet of a strange and antique fashion;
round his body was a sash, in the folds of which was secured a purse
containing forty Venetian sequins, and attached to the purse was a strip
of parchment, on which was written the following sentence from the
traditions of the Prophet, “Blessed be he that gives protection to the
foundling.”

Hassan, who had been listening with “bated breath” to Khadijah’s
narrative, and who had discovered as easily as the reader that he was
himself the “Child of the Pyramid,” suddenly asked her—

“Was that horseman my father?”

“I know not,” she replied, “for we have never seen or heard of him since
that day. Nevertheless, I think it must have been your father, for I
could see that, just before springing on his horse to depart, he turned
and gave such a look on the shawl-wrapper that——”

“What kind of look was it?” said Hassan hastily, interrupting her.

“I cannot describe it,” said Khadijah. “It might be love, it might be
sorrow; but my heart told me it was the look of a father.”

“What was the horseman like?” said Hassan.

“I had not time nor opportunity to examine closely either his features
or his dress,” replied Khadijah; “and were he to come into the tent now
I should not know him again. But he seemed a tall, large man, and I
guessed him to be a Mameluke.”

Khadijah’s narrative had deeply interested and agitated Hassan’s
feelings. As he left the tent and emerged into the open air, he mentally
exclaimed, “Sheik Sâleh is not my father; but Allah be praised that I am
not the son of a fellah.[8] Unknown father, if thou art still on earth,
I will find and embrace thee.”

During the whole of that day he continued silent and thoughtful. He
cared not to touch food, and towards evening he strolled beyond the
borders of the encampment, lost in conjecture on his mysterious birth
and parentage. Ambition began to stir in his breast, and visions of
horsetails[9] and diamond-hilted swords floated before his eyes. While
engaged in these day-dreams of fancy, he had unconsciously seated
himself on a small mound near where Temimah, the eldest daughter of the
Sheik, was tending some goats, which she was about to drive back to the
tents. With the noiseless step and playful movement of a kitten, she
stole gently behind him, and covering his eyes with her hands, said,
“Whose prisoner are you now?”

“Temimah’s,” replied the youth; “what does she desire of her captive?”

“Tell me,” said the girl, seating herself beside him, “why is my brother
sad and silent to-day; has anything happened?”

“Much has happened,” replied Hassan, with a grave and abstracted air.

“Come now, my brother,” said Temimah, “this is unkind; what is this
secret that you keep from your sister?”

“One which will cause me to leave you,” answered Hassan, still in the
same musing tone.

“Leave us!” she exclaimed. “Where to go, and when to return? Do not
speak these unkind words. You know how our father loves you—how we all
love you. Brother, why do you talk of leaving us?” While thus speaking,
Temimah threw her arms round his neck and kissed his eyes, while tears
stood in her own.

Touched by her affection and her sorrow, Hassan replied in a gentler
tone—

“Temimah, I have no father, no mother, no sister here.” He then told her
the story of his infancy, as related by her mother, showing that he
could claim no relationship in blood to the Sheik Sâleh and his family.
As he continued his narrative, poor Temimah’s heart swelled with
contending emotions. She learned that the playmate and companion of her
childhood, the brother of whom she was so proud, and to whom she looked
for support in all her trials, and whom she loved she knew not how much,
was a stranger to her in blood. A new and painful consciousness awoke
within her. Under the influence of this undefined sensation, her arm
dropped from Hassan’s neck, but her hand remained clasped in his, and on
it fell her tears hot and fast, while she sobbed violently.

Temimah was more than a year younger than Hassan, yet her heart
whispered to her secret things, arising from the late disclosure, which
were unknown to his. Although the idea of parting from her gave him
pain, he could still caress her, call her sister, and bid her not to
grieve for a separation which might be temporary, while she felt that
henceforth she was divided by an impassable gulf from the brother of her
childhood.

Slowly they returned to the encampment, and Temimah took the earliest
opportunity of retiring into her tent to talk with her own sad heart in
solitude.

Did she love him less since she learnt that he was not her brother? Did
she love him more? These were the questions which the poor girl asked
herself with trembling and with tears; her fluttering heart gave her no
reply.

After these events it is not to be wondered at if Hassan permitted but a
few days to elapse ere he presented himself before Sheik Sâleh, and
expressed his wish to leave the tents of the Oulâd-Ali, in order to seek
for his unknown parents: the Sheik being prepared for this request, and
having made up his mind to acquiesce in it, offered but a faint
opposition, notwithstanding his unwillingness to part with one whom he
had so long considered and loved as a son.

“By Allah!” said he to the youth, “if destiny has written it, so it must
be. My advice is, then, that you go to Alexandria, where I have a friend
who, although a merchant and living in a town, has a good heart, and
will be kind to you for my sake. I will write to him, and he will find
you some employment. While you are with him you can make inquiry about
the history and the families of the residents, Beys, Mamelukes, &c., and
learn if any of them were at Cairo sixteen years ago. If your search
there is without success, you will find means to go to Cairo and other
parts of Egypt, and, Inshallah! the wish of your heart will be
fulfilled.”

Hassan thanked his foster-father, who forthwith desired a scribe to be
called to write from his dictation the required letter, which bore the
address, “To my esteemed and honoured friend, Hadji Ismael, merchant in
Alexandria.”

The simple preparations requisite for Hassan’s departure were soon made,
and all the articles found upon him when he had been left at the foot of
the pyramid, and which had been carefully preserved by Khadijah, were
made over to him, and secured within the folds of his girdle and his
turban; a horse of the Sheik’s was placed at his disposal, and he was to
be accompanied by two of the tribe, charged with the purchase of coffee,
sugar, and sundry articles of dress.

When the day fixed for his departure arrived, his foster-parents
embraced him tenderly, and the Sheik said to him, “Remember, Hassan, if
ever you wish to return, my tent is your home, and you will find in me a
father.”

Temimah, foolish girl, did not appear; she said she was not well; but
she sent him her farewell and her prayers for his safety through her
little sister, who kissed him, crying bitterly. Thus did Hassan take
leave of the tents of the Oulâd-Ali, and enter on the wide world in
search of a father who had apparently little claim on his affection; but
youth is hopeful against hope, so Hassan journeyed onward without
accident, until he reached Alexandria, where his two companions went
about their respective commissions, and he proceeded to deliver his
letter to Hadji Ismael, the merchant.

Hassan had no difficulty in finding the house of Hadji Ismael, the
wealthy Arab merchant, situated in a quarter which was then near the
centre of the town, though only a few hundred yards distant from the
head of the harbour, known as the Old Port.

Alexandria being now as familiar to the world of travellers and readers
as Genoa or Marseilles, a description of its site and appearance is
evidently superfluous; only it must be remembered that at this time it
wore something of an oriental aspect, which has since been obliterated
by the multitude of European houses which have been constructed, and the
multitude of European dresses which crowd its bazaars.

The great square, which is now almost exclusively occupied by the
residences of European consuls and merchants, was then an open area in
which soldiery and horses were exercised; and in place of the scores of
saucy donkey-boys who now crowd around the doors of every inn, dinning
into the ear of steamboat and railroad travellers their unvarying cry of
“Very good donkey, sir,” and fighting for customers with energy equal to
that of Liverpool porters, there were then to be seen long strings of
way-worn camels wending their solemn way through the narrow streets,
whilst others of their brethren were crouched before some merchant’s
door, uttering, as their loads were removed, that wonderful stomachic
groan which no one who has heard it can ever forget, and which is said
to have inspired and taught to the sons of Ishmael the pronunciation of
one of the letters of their alphabet—a sound which I never heard
perfectly imitated by any European.[10]

Harsh and dissonant as may be the voice of the camel to our Frankish
ears, it was infinitely less so to those of Hassan than were the mingled
cries of the Turks, Italians, and Greeks assembled in the courtyard of
Hadji Ismael’s house, busily employed in opening, binding, and marking
bales and packages of every size and class. Pushing his way through them
as best he might, he addressed an elderly man whom he saw standing at
the door of an inner court, and whom he knew by his dress to be a
Moslem, and after giving him the customary greeting, he asked if he
could have speech of Hadji Ismael. Upon being informed that the youth
had a letter which he was charged to deliver to the merchant in person,
the head clerk (for such he proved to be) desired Hassan to follow him
to the counting-house.

On reaching that sanctum, Hassan found himself in a dimly lighted room
of moderate dimensions, the sides of which were lined with a goodly
array of boxes; at the farther end of the room was seated a venerable
man with a snow-white beard, who was so busily employed in dictating a
letter to a scribe that he did not at first notice the entrance of his
chief clerk, who remained silently standing near the door with his young
companion; but when the letter was terminated the merchant looked up,
and motioned to them to advance. Mohammed, so was the chief clerk named,
told him that the youth was bearer of a letter addressed to him by one
of his friends among the Arabs. On a signal from Hadji Ismael, Hassan,
with that respect for advanced age which is one of the best and most
universal characteristics of Bedouin education, came forward, and having
kissed the hem of his robe, delivered the letter, and retiring from the
carpet on which the old man was sitting, stood in silence with his arms
folded on his breast.[11]

The Hadji having read the letter slowly and carefully through, fixed his
keen grey eyes upon Hassan, and continued his scrutiny for some seconds,
as if, before addressing him, he would scan every feature of his
character. The survey did not seem to give him dissatisfaction, for
assuredly he had never looked upon a countenance on which ingenuous
modesty, intelligence, and fearlessness were more harmoniously combined.

“You are welcome,” said the old man, breaking silence; “you bring me
news of the health and welfare of an old friend—may his days be
prolonged.”

“And those of the wisher,” replied the youth.[12]

“Your name is Hassan, I see,” continued the Hadji. “How old are you?”

“Just sixteen years,” he replied.

“Sixteen years!” exclaimed the Hadji, running his eye over the
commanding figure and muscular limbs of the Arab youth. “It is
impossible! Why, Antar himself at sixteen years had not a body and limbs
like that. Young man,” he continued, bending his shaggy grey brows till
they met, “you are deceiving me.”

“I never deceived any one,” said the youth haughtily; but his
countenance instantly resumed its habitual frank expression, and he
added, “If I wished to learn to deceive, it is not likely that I should
begin with the most sagacious and experienced of all the white-beards in
Alexandria.”

“True,” said the old man, smiling; “I did you wrong. But, Mashallah, you
have made haste in your growth. If your brain has advanced as rapidly as
your stature, you might pass for twenty summers. What can you do?”

“Little,” replied Hassan. “Almost nothing.”

“Nay, tell me that little,” said the merchant good-humouredly; “with a
willing heart ’twill soon be more.”

“I can ride on camel or on horse, I can run, I can swim and dive, I can
shoot and——” here he paused, and the merchant added—

“And I doubt not, from what my friend the Sheik writes, your hand is no
stranger to the sword or lance; but, my son, all these acquirements,
though useful in the desert, will not avail you much here—nevertheless,
we will see. Inshallah, your lot shall be fortunate; you have a forehead
of good omen. God is great—He makes the prince and the beggar—we are all
dust.”

To this long speech of the worthy merchant Hassan only replied by
repeating after him, “God is great.”

Hadji Ismael then turned to his chief clerk, and told him that, as the
youth was a stranger in the town and intrusted to him by an old friend,
he was to be lodged in the house, and arrangement to be made for his
board.

It would seem that Hassan’s forehead of good omen had already exercised
its influence over the chief clerk, for he offered without hesitation to
take the youth under his own special charge, and to let him share his
meals; an arrangement which was very agreeable to Hassan, who had begun
to fear that he would be like a fish out of water—he, a stranger in that
confused mass of bricks and bales, ships and levantines.

On a signal from the merchant, Mohammed Aga retired with his young
companion, and while showing him the storerooms and courts of the house,
drew him to speak of his life in the desert, and listened to his
untutored yet graphic description with deepening interest.

Although born in Alexandria, the old clerk was of Turkish parentage, and
had followed his professional duties with such assiduity and steadiness
that he had never visited the interior of Egypt. He had frequent
transactions with Arabs from the neighbourhood on the part of his
master, but he usually found that, however wild and uncivilised they
might appear, they were sharp and clever enough in obtaining a high
price for the articles which they brought on sale; but a wild young
Bedouin, full of natural poetry and enthusiasm, was an animal so totally
new to the worthy clerk, that his curiosity, and ere long his interest,
was awakened to a degree at which he was himself surprised. Hassan,
notwithstanding his extreme youth, was gifted with the intuitive
sagacity of a race accustomed to read, not books, but men; his eye,
bright and keen as that of a hawk, was quick at detecting anything
approaching to roguery or falsehood in a countenance on which he fixed
it, and that of Mohammed Aga inspired him with a sympathetic confidence
which was not misplaced.

On the following morning the merchant had no sooner concluded his
prayers and ablutions than he sent for Mohammed Aga, and asked his
opinion of the newly arrived addition to their household.

“By Allah!” replied the clerk, “he seems a brave and honest youth, and
were you Sheik of the Wâled-Ali[13] instead of Hadji Ismael the
merchant, I doubt not he would have been a gain to your tent; but to
what use you can put him in Alexandria I know not.”

“You say truly,” replied his master; “he is not a youth to sit on a mat
in the corner of a counting-house, or to go with messages from house to
house, where knowledge of the Frank languages is required. But Allah has
provided a livelihood for all His creatures: destiny sent the youth
hither, and his fate is written.”

“Praise be to God!” said the clerk; “my master’s words are words of
wisdom and truth. A visit to the holy cities (blessed be their names!)
has opened the eyes of his understanding: doubtless he will discover the
road which fate has marked out for this youth to travel; for it is
written by the hand of the Causer of Causes.”[14]

“True,” replied the merchant, “there is no power or might but in Him;
nevertheless, a wise writer has said, ‘When the shades of doubt are on
thy mind, seek counsel of thy bed: morning will bring thee light.’ I did
so the past night, and see, I have found that Allah has sent me this
Arab youth in a happy hour. Inshallah! his fortune and mine will be
good. Do you not remember that I have an order to collect twenty of the
finest Arab horses, to be sent as a present from Mohammed Ali to the
Sultan? Neither you nor I have much skill in this matter, and those whom
I consult in the town give me opinions according to the amount of the
bribe they may have received from the dealer. We will make trial of
Hassan, and, Inshallah! our faces will be white in the presence of our
Prince.”[15]

“Inshallah!” said the clerk joyfully, “my master’s patience will not be
put to a long trial, for there are in the town three horses just arrived
from Bahirah, which have been sent on purpose that you might purchase
them on this commission. Does it please you that after the morning meal
we should go to the Meidàn and see them?”

“Be it so,” said the Hadji. And Mohammed Aga, retiring to his own
quarters, informed Hassan of the service on which it was proposed to
employ him. The eyes of the youth brightened when he learnt that his
vague apprehensions of a life of listless confinement were groundless,
and that he was about to be employed on a duty for the discharge of
which he was fitted by his early training and habits.

Mohammed observed the change in his countenance, and thought it prudent
to warn him against the wiles and tricks to which he would be exposed
among the Alexandrian dealers, kindly advising him to be cautious in
giving an opinion, as his future prospects might depend much upon his
first success. Hassan smiled, and thanked his new friend; he then added—

“Mohammed, I have eaten the Hadji’s bread, and he is a friend of my
father’s” (the latter word he pronounced with a faltering voice). “I
will serve him in this matter faithfully. Until asked I shall say
nothing, and when asked I shall say nothing beyond what I know to be
true.”

The morning meal despatched, Hadji Ismael proceeded to the Meidàn (then
an open space, and now the great square of Alexandria) accompanied by
Mohammed Aga, the _sàis_ or groom, and Hassan. They found the
horse-dealing party awaiting their arrival. It consisted of a _dellâl_
or dealer, and two or three of his servants, and an Arab from the
neighbourhood of Damanhouri. They had two grey horses to dispose of, and
at a distance of some fifty yards were two _sàises_ holding by a strong
halter a bay horse, which was pawing the ground, neighing, and
apparently well disposed to wage war with any biped or quadruped that
might come within reach of its heels.

“Peace be upon you,” said the _dellâl_, addressing the merchant.
“Inshallah! I have brought you here two grey horses that are worthy to
bear the Sultan of the two worlds—pure Arab blood—this dark grey is of
the Kohèil race, and the light grey a true Saklàwi.”[16]

“Are they young?” inquired the merchant.

“One is four and the other five,” was the ready reply.

The merchant then desired his _sàis_ to inspect them and examine their
mouths. They were both gentle and fine-looking animals, with splendid
manes and tails, and their appearance prepossessed the merchant in their
favour. They stood close by the assembled group, and allowed their teeth
to be examined with the most patient docility.

“The marks are as the _dellâl_ has said,” reported the _sàis_, after
having finished his inspection.

The animals were then mounted by one of the _dellâl’s_ men, who walked
and galloped them past the merchant, who seemed as well pleased with
their paces as with their appearance.

“What is their price?” he inquired.

“Their price,” replied the _dellâl_, “should be very high, for they are
pearls not to be found in every market; but to you, excellent Hadji,
whom I wish to oblige, and whom I always serve with fidelity, they can
be sold for sixty purses the pair” (about £300).

During all this time Hassan had never spoken a word, neither had a
single mark or movement of the horses escaped him; the merchant now
turned towards him, saying—

“My son, tell me your opinion of these horses; are they not very fine?”

“They are not very bad,” replied the youth drily; “but they have many
faults, and are much too dear.”

“And pray what are their faults, master busybody?” said the horse-dealer
in a rage.

“I am not a busybody,” answered Hassan, looking him steadfastly in the
face; “I merely replied to a question put to me by our master the Hadji.
As for their faults, if you do not know them better than I, you are not
fit to be a _dellâl_; and if you do know them, you must be a rogue to
bring them here and endeavour to pass them on the Hadji at such a
price!”

Words cannot paint the fury of the _dellâl_ at being thus addressed by a
stripling whom he supposed to be as ignorant of his craft as the other
attendants on Hadji Ismael; the heavy courbatch[17] vibrated in his
hand, and he was about to utter some violent or abusive retort, when the
merchant, interposing between them, said to the _dellâl_—

“Do not give way to anger, and remember if the words of the youth are
not true they can do no harm either to you or to the sale of your
horses.”

The worthy merchant forgot at the moment that it was probably the truth
of the words which gave them their sting; but fate seemed resolved that
the horse-dealing transaction should not proceed amicably, for scarcely
had the merchant concluded his pacific address to the _dellâl_ when he
heard behind him a sharp cry of pain, mingled with a sound resembling a
blow, accompanied by the rattling of metal.

It seems that the Damanhouri Arab entertained a shrewd suspicion that
Hassan was not a greenhorn in the matter of horse-flesh, and while the
merchant was making his pacific speech to the _dellâl_, he had crept to
the side of the youth and whispered to him—

“Brother, say nothing about the faults of the horses; say that they are
very good: here is your bakshish” (present), and so saying he slipped
five Spanish dollars into Hassan’s hand.

The reply of the latter was to throw them with some force in the face of
the speaker. Maddened by the pain and the insult, the Damanhouri drew a
knife from his girdle and sprang upon the youth; but Hassan, whose
activity was equal to his strength, caught the uplifted hand, wrenched
the knife from its grasp, and placing one of his legs behind his
assailant’s knee, threw him heavily to the ground. His blood was up, and
the anger that shot from his eye and dilated his nostril produced such a
change in his countenance that he was scarcely to be recognized; but the
change lasted only a moment. Placing the knife in the hands of the
astonished merchant, he briefly related to him the provocation which he
had received, and the dollars still lying on the ground confirmed the
tale. Attracted by the broil, several idlers and soldiers who were
accidentally passing had now joined the party, and one whispered to
another—

“Mashallah, the youth must have a greedy stomach. A bakshish of five
dollars is dirt to him,” for it never entered into the head of any of
these worthy Alexandrians to suppose that Hassan’s indignation could
arise from any other cause than dissatisfaction at the amount of the
bribe offered to him.

Peace was at length restored, the Damanhouri having picked up his
dollars and slunk away, muttering curses and threats against Hassan. The
merchant then asked him to state distinctly the faults that he found in
the two grey horses.

“The dark one,” replied Hassan, “is not of pure race; he is a
half-breed, and is not worth more than ten purses. The light one is
better bred, but he is old, and therefore not worth much more.”

“Old!” ejaculated the _dellâl_, his anger again rising; “by your head,
Hadji, your own _sàis_, who examined his teeth, said that he was only
five.”

The eyes of the merchant and the dealer were now turned upon Hassan,
whose only reply was a smile, and passing the forefinger of his right
hand over that of his left, imitating the action of one using a file.
This was a hint beyond the comprehension of the merchant, who asked him
to explain his meaning.

“I mean,” he said, “that his teeth have been filed, and the marks in
them artificially made;[18] but his eyes, and head, and legs tell his
age to any one that knows a horse from a camel.”

The _dellâl_ was obliged to contain his rage, for not only was he
restrained by the presence of the merchant and the bystanders, but the
rough treatment lately inflicted on the Damanhouri did not encourage him
to have recourse to personal violence. He contented himself, therefore,
with saying in a sneering tone—

“If the wise and enlightened merchant, Hadji Ismael, is to be led by the
advice of a boy whose chin never felt a beard, Mashallah! it were time
that the fishes swam about in the heaven.”

“Allah be praised!” replied the merchant gravely, “truth is truth, even
if it be spoken by a child. Friend _dellâl_, I will not dispute with you
on this matter, but I will make a bargain with you, to which you will
agree if you know that you have spoken truth. I will write to old
Abou-Obeyed, whose tent is now among the Wâled-Ali. All men know that he
is most skilled in Arab horses, and he is himself bred in the Nejd. He
shall come here, and his bakshish shall be five purses. If he decides
that all which you have stated of the race and age of these two horses
is true, I will give you the full price that you have asked, and will
pay him the bakshish. If his words agree with those spoken by this
youth, I do not take the horses, and you pay the Sheik’s bakshish.”

As the _dellâl_ knew that the old Sheik Abou-Obeyed valued his
reputation too highly to allow himself to be bribed to a deception so
liable to detection, he replied—

“It is not worth the trouble. Allah be praised, there are horses enough
in Egypt and the desert; but if our master purchases none without the
consent of that strange youth, methinks it will not be this year that he
will send twenty to Stamboul. Doubtless he will now tell you that yonder
bay is a vicious, useless brute, not worth the halter that holds him.”

“If he is not a vicious brute,” said Hassan, looking the _dellâl_ full
in the face and smiling, “mount him, and let our master see his paces.”

The _dellâl_ bit his lip at finding himself thwarted at every turn by
the natural shrewdness of a mere stripling, for nothing was farther from
his intention than to mount an animal whose uncontrollable violence and
temper were the sole cause of its being sent for sale by its present
owner. It had not been backed for months, and the two _sàises_ who held
it by the head were scarcely able to resist the furious bounds which it
made in its endeavour to free itself from thraldom. While the _dellâl_
went towards them to assist them in leading it up for the inspection of
the merchant, the latter turned to Hassan, saying—

“My son, assuredly that is a vicious and dangerous beast. It can be no
use my thinking of purchasing that for the great lords at Stamboul.”

“Let us see it nearer,” replied the youth, “perhaps we may learn whether
it be play or vice. Mashallah!” he muttered to himself as it drew
nearer, snorting, and bounding, and lashing out its heels, “that is a
horse—what a pity that it is cooped up in this town! Would that I had it
on the desert, with my greyhound beside, and the antelope before me!”
His eyes glistened as he spoke, and the merchant, tapping him on the
shoulder, said—

“My son, you seem to like that horse better than the others. Is it not a
vicious, dangerous brute?”

“It is violent now,” replied Hassan, “probably because it has been in
hands that knew not how to use it; but I do not see any signs of vice on
its head. It is evidently quite young—three or four at most—and it has
blood: more I cannot pretend to say.”

The noble colt had now cleared a respectable circle with his heels, as
none of the bystanders chose to risk a near inspection, when the
merchant, turning to the _dellâl_, said—

“That seems a violent, intractable animal; what is its lowest price?”

“When it is taught and a year older,” replied the dealer, “it will be
worth fifty purses. As it is, I can sell it to you for thirty.”

“Tell him,” whispered Hassan to the merchant, “to desire one of the
_sàises_ to ride it past you, that you may see its action.”

The Hadji did so, but the endeavour of the dealer and his _sàises_ to
comply with the request proved utterly fruitless. No sooner did one of
them approach with the object of mounting than he reared, backed, struck
out with his forelegs, and played such a variety of rough antics that
they could not come near him. Perhaps none of them were over-anxious to
mount an animal in such a state of violent excitement, without a saddle,
and with no bridle but the halter passed round the head, and with one
turn round the lower jaw. The merchant stroked his beard, and looked at
the colt in dismay. Hassan drew near and whispered to him—

“Tell the _dellâl_ that it is a violent, unruly brute, and offer him
twenty purses.”

The Hadji had by this time acquired so much confidence in the opinion of
his young _protégé_ that he did so without hesitation. Then ensued a
long bargaining conference between the merchant and the _dellâl_, which
ended in the latter saying that he would take twenty-five purses and no
less. The merchant looked at his young adviser, who said—

“Close with him at that price.”

The merchant having done so, the _dellâl_ said to him—

“Hadji, the horse is yours: may the bargain be blessed.” As he uttered
the latter words there was a sardonic grin on his countenance which, if
rightly interpreted, meant, “Much good may it do you.”

The bargain being thus concluded, the _dellâl_ thought it would be a
good opportunity to vent the spite which he entertained against Hassan
on the subject of the two grey horses, so he said to the merchant—

“Perhaps this youth, who has been so ready to offer his advice, and who
wished that I or the _sàises_ should mount the bay horse to show his
paces, perhaps he will now do so himself.”

“And why not?” replied Hassan. “It is true that fools have made the
horse foolish and unruly, but Allah made him to carry a rider. If the
Hadji will give me leave, Inshallah! I will ride him now.”

“You have my leave,” said the merchant, “but run no risk of your life
and limbs, my son.”

Hassan smiled, and going quietly forward, took the end of the halter
from the nearest _sàis_, desiring the other at the same time to let go
and leave him alone. He then approached the colt, looking steadfastly
into its eye, and muttering some of the low guttural sounds with which
the Bedouin Arabs coax and caress a refractory horse.

They seemed, however, to have no effect in this instance, for the colt
continued to back, occasionally striking at Hassan with its forefeet.
Never losing his temper, nor for an instant taking his eye off that of
the colt, he followed its retrograde movement, gradually shortening the
halter, and narrowly escaped, once or twice, the blows aimed at him by
its forefeet.

At length the opportunity for which he had long been watching occurred.
As the horse tried to turn its flanks and lash at him with its
hind-feet, in a second, and with a single bound, he was on its back. It
was in vain that the infuriated animal reared, plunged, and threw itself
into every contortion to unhorse its rider. The more it bounded and
snorted under him, the more proudly did his eye and his breast dilate.
In the midst of all these bricks and houses he was again at home.

Shaking his right hand on high, as if he held a lance, and shouting
aloud to give utterance to the boisterous joy within him, he dashed his
heels into the ribs of the horse, and having taken it at full speed
twice round the Meidàn, brought it back trembling in every joint from
fear, surprise, and excitement. “Mashallah!” “Aferin!” (Bravo! bravo!)
burst from every lip in the group. “A Rustum,” cried old Mohammed Aga,
delighted at his young friend’s triumph.

Hassan seemed, however, of opinion that the lesson was not complete—the
horse was mastered, but not yet quieted. So he turned it round, and once
more took it at full speed to the farthest end of the Meidàn; then
leaning forward, patted its neck, played with its ears, and spoke to it
kind and gentle words, as if it could understand him. The subdued animal
appeared indeed to do so, for its violence had disappeared as if by
magic, and when he took it back to the side of the merchant, it stood
there seemingly as pleased as any one of the party.

“I would give that imp of Satan twenty purses a-year to be my partner,”
muttered the _dellâl_ inaudibly to himself, as he turned away and
withdrew with the two rejected greys.

The merchant returned to his house in high spirits, and willingly
acceded to Hassan’s request that he should have sole charge of the new
purchase. Hassan led the horse into the stable, fed and groomed it with
his own hands, and in the course of a few days they were the best
friends imaginable.

These events created no little sensation in Alexandria, and Hassan’s
skill, courage, and his remarkable beauty of form and feature were the
general subject of conversation among those who had witnessed the
merchant’s purchase of the restive horse. All manner of speculations
were afloat as to who or whence he was, for those who had most nearly
observed him declared that, although his dress and language proclaimed
the Bedouin Arab, his features seemed to be those of a Georgian or some
northern race.

Many questions were addressed to Hadji Ismael on the subject by his
friends, but he was either unable or unwilling to satisfy their
curiosity. All that they could learn was that the youth had been sent to
the merchant with a letter of recommendation from his old acquaintance
Sheik Sâleh, and that he was to be employed in the purchase of the
collection of horses to be sent to Constantinople.

Meanwhile Hassan passed his time more agreeably than he had expected,
for he had abundance of liberty and exercise in his new vocation, and
was treated with the greatest kindness and confidence both by the
merchant and by the chief clerk. One remarkable feature they found in
his character, that under no circumstances whatever did he deviate in
the slightest degree from the truth. Whether money was concerned, or the
relation of an event, they always found his statements confirmed, even
in the most minute particular. He seemed, also, to have no care or
thought of the acquisition of money, and these two features of character
were so rare in Alexandria that some of the merchant’s friends, when
speaking of his young _protégé_, were in the habit of shaking their
heads and touching their foreheads significantly with the index-finger,
thereby indicating that probably he was somewhat deranged.

These vague suggestions were confirmed by other traits of his character
very different from other Alexandrian youths of his own age. He was
never seen to enter a drinking-shop, nor to idle and lounge about the
bazaars. When not employed in exercising his horses, one of his
favourite amusements was to go down to the beach for a swim in the sea.
The boundless expanse of salt water was new to him: the more angry the
surf, the more it seemed to please and excite him.

His companion on these bathing excursions was Ahmed, the chief clerk’s
son, a lad of some twenty years of age, to whom, notwithstanding the
difference in their characters, Hassan became much attached. He was
short and slight in figure, with a pale but intelligent countenance, and
remarkable for his studious and industrious habits. Having been for some
time employed as a junior clerk of an English mercantile house (there
were only two at that time in Alexandria), he had not only become a very
good English scholar, but had acquired a fair knowledge of Greek and
Italian. He was a bold and practised swimmer; but on one or two
occasions when he had followed Hassan to enjoy his favourite pastime in
the surf, he had received contusions which stunned him for the moment,
and might have cost him dear, had not the powerful arm of his athletic
comrade been always near and ready to assist him.

This companionship, which soon ripened into friendship, was not without
its corresponding advantage to Hassan. His eager imagination had already
drunk in with avidity the feats of Antar, Sindebad, and other heroes of
Arab story; but his new friend could tell him yet stranger tales of the
regions beyond the sea—regions where from cold the waters grew as hard
as stone, and bore the passage of loaded waggons; where ships, by the
aid of fire, sailed against the wind and stream, and where the
inhabitants of one small island possessed and ruled at a distance of
many thousand miles possessions five times larger and more populous than
those of the great Sultan of Islam.

These narrations, and especially the last, excited so forcibly the
ardent imagination of Hassan, that he was never weary of listening, and
he prevailed upon his new friend one day to take him to the
counting-house where he was employed, that he might see some of these
wonderful islanders. Probably he expected to find in them marvellous
beings, like the giants or jinns of Arab fiction; but after accompanying
his friend to the house of Mr ——, whom he saw through an open door at
the extremity of the counting-house, seated at a table writing letters
and tying up papers, he went out again, with disappointment evidently
written upon his countenance.

“What tales are these which you have been telling me, Ahmed?” said he to
his companion; “by Allah, that is no man at all! He is smaller than I
am; he has not the beard of Hadji, and he has not even a scribe to write
his letters!”

“Hassan,” replied his friend, smiling, “the habits of these islanders
are different from those of Turks and Arabs. The pen is their sword in
commerce, and they like to wield it themselves. Our chief writes on
matters of importance with his own hand; it is good, for no scribe can
betray him; but in the adjoining room he has two or three clerks who
write on his affairs from morning till night.”

Hassan shook his head, thought of the swift horse and the open desert,
and said, “Allah be praised, I am not a merchant of these islanders.”
Nevertheless there was something mysterious about their history which
continued to excite his fancy, and as weeks and months passed on, they
found him, during the leisure hours of evening, employed in learning
English from his friend.

As Turkish was the language habitually spoken in the family of Mohammed
Aga and in other places which Hassan’s avocations led him to frequent,
he soon acquired a sufficient knowledge of it to enable him to
understand and converse in it with tolerable fluency.

During the next three years of our hero’s life he remained in the
employment of Hadji Ismael, who never repented having trusted him
implicitly in every commission with which he had been charged, and had
procured for him a teacher under whose instructions he had learnt to
read Arabic and to write a legible hand; but Hassan, though ready and
quick of apprehension, did not evince any fondness for the study of
books; his pleasures were a ride on the back of a fiery horse or a
crested wave, and listening after sunset to the popular Arab romances of
old, recited by some wandering _ràwi_.[19]

Of these last he was so fond that he knew many of them by heart. Stories
of princes and princesses in disguise, mingled with the mystery hanging
over his own birth, floated in his imaginative brain, but the mystery
remained unravelled. He had kept the secret confined to his own breast,
never even communicating it to his friend Ahmed; nevertheless from him,
from his father, and from all his acquaintance, he had diligently
inquired into the early history of all the Turkish pashas, beys, and
officers in Alexandria, but no known episode of their lives threw any
light upon the object of his search. His passions were strong and
turbulent, but he generally kept them under the control of a determined
will, and the secret conviction that he was the son of “somebody”
imparted to his character a certain pride and reserve which assorted
better with his form and features than with his outward condition of
life.

Connected with the mystery of his birth and with the events related in
the wild tales with which he had fed his youthful imagination, was the
image of a lovely princess whom he had clothed with all the attributes
of beauty ascribed by Arab poetry to such damsels; waking or dreaming,
she was constantly before his eyes: he had given her a name, and he
loved this creature of his imagination with all the ardent fondness of a
young and passionate heart.

If it be true that such visionary dreams of youth are necessarily
followed by disappointment on awaking to the rude realities of life, it
is also true that in some cases, as in his, they preserve those who are
under their influence from the temptations to which that age is exposed.
It is one of the evils of modern education in what we are pleased to
call highly civilised countries to cultivate the understanding at the
expense of the heart. The simplicity, the trusting confidence, the warm
imagination, the love of all that is pure and high and holy, which are
the proper attributes of youth, are sacrificed to what is termed a
practical knowledge of the world, and the result is, that there is now
many a young gentleman at Eton and Oxford who would listen with a sneer
of contempt to a sentiment or a trait of character which would have
drawn a tear of sympathy and admiration from the eye of a Burke or a
Fox, a Pascal or a Newton.

To return from this digression. Hassan loved his imaginary princess;
nevertheless, like a true lover, he put her in the deepest corner of his
heart, and never spoke of her.

A short time afterwards Hassan was sent by the Hadji, in company with
Mohammed Aga, to collect a debt of considerable amount due to him in
Damanhour, a large village distant a day’s journey from the city.

This affair occupied some little time, and might not, perhaps, have been
settled at all had not Mohammed Aga been provided with a handsome
Cashmere shawl and a pretty Damascus handkerchief, in one corner of
which a few gold pieces were secured by a silken cord. The former of
these presents found its way to the Governor, and the latter to his
chief scribe, after which the justice of the claim became as clear as
day, and the debtor was ordered to pay up without delay.

While this affair was in progress, and Mohammed Aga was busy in the
Governor’s divan, Hassan was one day strolling near the village to pass
the time when his ear was arrested by the sound of female cries and
lamentations. Turning his head to the quarter whence the sounds
proceeded, he saw a man with his hands chained together walking between
two soldiers, who occasionally hastened his steps by blows from the
butt-ends of their muskets. Behind them were two women and two children
screaming at the top of their voices—

“Oh! mercy, mercy! Oh! my brother! Oh! my husband! Oh! my father! Mercy,
mercy!”

In front of this lamenting group, and by the side of one of the
soldiers, walked an individual with a paper in his hand, who seemed to
be the man under whose authority the prisoner had been seized, and who
bore the appearance of being one of the _kawàsses_ of the Governor.[20]

“May your day be fortunate, O Aga,” said Hassan, addressing him in the
Turkish language.[21] “What is the fault of this man, and whither are
you taking him?”

“Happily met, Aga,” said the _kawàss_, impressed by the commanding
figure of the young stranger. “This vagabond is now nearly two years in
arrears of his taxes due to the Government; his tents are near the edge
of the desert, and we never could find him. Praise be to Allah, I have
got him now, and to-morrow we shall see whether five hundred good blows
on the soles of his feet will help him to find the two thousand piastres
that he owes.”[22]

The prisoner maintained a dogged silence, never even raising his eyes to
look at the _kawàss_ while speaking; but his wife now rushed forward,
and, throwing herself at Hassan’s feet, cried out—

“Mercy, mercy, young Aga! I and my children—our sister—we are all
ruined. We have none to depend on but him. The sluices of the canal were
not opened; our lands were dried up. We had no crop; we sold our
animals; everything is gone. Speak to the Governor, young Aga; let him
give us time and we will pay all.”

Hassan turned aside his head to hide his emotion, for to misery, and to
woman’s misery above all, his heart was soft as a child’s. Recovering
himself, however, in a moment, he turned to the _kawàss_, saying—

“Would the Governor not excuse or delay the payment of this sum?”

“Surely not,” said the other decidedly. “His Excellency is very angry
with him for the trouble he has already given: the amount is entered in
the accounts, and it must be paid. You are young, sir, and a stranger
here; you do not know the marvellous power of the sticks in bringing to
light hidden money; they are more powerful than the rods of the Cairo
magicians.”

“By Allah!—by the life of your mother!” screamed the poor woman, still
at Hassan’s feet, “we have nothing; they may kill us, but we have no
money to give. For weeks past we have seen no bread, and eaten nothing
but a few dates. We are miserable, O Aga!—look at us—mercy, mercy!” The
emaciated appearance of the whole family bore witness to this part of
the woman’s statement.

“My friend,” said Hassan, turning to the _kawàss_, “I know a merchant in
Damanhour who will perhaps advance this money, and take a bond for
repayment in one or two years. Promise me that you will not report this
man’s seizure till to-morrow at noon: the Governor will be better
pleased with your zeal if you are then able to present him with the
money required than if you beat the man to death without perhaps
obtaining a third of it. Promise, then, that you will wait till
to-morrow at noon.”

“I will wait as you desire,” replied the _kawàss_; “and if you come to
the guard-house where this fellow will be confined, ask for Ibrahim the
_kawàss_.”

During all this time the eyes of the unhappy wife were fixed upon
Hassan’s countenance with an expression of intense anxiety. She had not
understood a syllable of the conversation that had passed between him
and the _kawàss_, but instinct taught her that in some way he was
befriending her husband’s cause; and as the latter moved on with his
guards, she continued to overwhelm him with blessings and prayers
mingled with tears.

“Be of good cheer,” he said to her, now speaking in his own language.
“Inshallah! all will yet go well. Meanwhile take this, and buy some
bread this evening for your children and yourselves;” and as he spoke he
slipped a piece of silver into her hand and turned hastily away.

When the poor woman heard herself addressed in the deep and
not-to-be-mistaken tones of a Bedouin Arab, and felt the money, surprise
and gratitude deprived her for a moment of the powers of speech; and
Hassan was already at some distance when she recovered them, and
throwing herself into her sister’s arms, she exclaimed—

“He will save us!—he will save us!—he is not a Turk!—why did I call him
Aga?—he is of the Sons of the Tent[23]—surely my husband and he have met
before in the desert and been friends—he will save us—the blessing of
Allah be on his head!”

That same evening, at sunset, Mohammed Aga and Hassan were smoking their
pipes and drinking their coffee in front of their lodging, when the
former said to his companion—

“Inshallah! we will return in a day or two to Alexandria. Our affair is
proceeding well: I have collected half the money, and the remainder is
to be paid to-morrow.”

Hassan made no direct reply to this address, but after a pause of a few
minutes he abruptly asked the chief clerk—

“Do you remember how much of my salary is still due to me, in your
hands?”

“Assuredly I do, my son,” said the methodical clerk. “At the beginning
of the year the arrears of salary, added to what the Hadji allowed of
percentage on purchases, amounted to four thousand piastres (£40); then
at the feast you sent a present of a bale of tobacco and a Persian
dagger to your father the Sheik, two pieces of Syrian silk and some
embroidered napkins to your mother, two pieces—”

“Enough, enough!” interrupted Hassan, distressed at this enumeration of
the mementoes which he had sent to his foster-parents; “how much
remained after these presents were paid for?”

“They cost fifteen hundred piastres; so you still have two thousand five
hundred left.”

“That is well,” said Hassan. “I want that money here. Will you give it
me, Mohammed, and repay yourself from the chest in Alexandria?”

“The boy is mad,” said the old clerk, opening his eyes wide with
astonishment. “By the head of your father, tell me for what purpose can
you require all that money at once, here at Damanhour? Are you going to
buy beans and wheat for the market?”

“No,” replied Hassan, with some confusion, “it is not my trade to
purchase grain; but indeed I require that money, and hope you will let
me have it.”

“Allah-Allah!” said the old clerk, as a sudden suspicion shot across his
mind, “you have seen some Damanhour girl who has set your heart on fire!
The songs tell us that the girls are famed for their beauty here: you
have seen a moon-faced one behind a curtain, and you are going to be
married! Wallah-Billah! brimstone and tinder are like wet clay when
compared to the heart of a youth.”

“Indeed,” said Hassan, laughing, “I have seen no moon-faced houri here,
and I have no thoughts of marriage.” He added more gravely, “I want the
money for a purpose which I cannot tell you, though if I did you could
not disapprove it.”

Mohammed Aga, seeing that opposition was useless, and feeling that he
had in truth no right to keep back from Hassan what was his own, counted
out the money to him the same evening, and took his receipt, to be
presented to Hadji Ismael.

The following morning, about three hours after sunrise, when Hassan had
made sure that the chief clerk was busily employed in the Governor’s
divan, he bent his steps to the guard-house, and on asking for Ibrahim
the _kawàss_, was at once admitted to the presence of that important
official.

After the customary salutations, Hassan informed him that the merchant
to whom he had yesterday alluded had agreed to advance the money, and
that he was now prepared to pay the two thousand piastres due by the
Arab, on receiving a discharge in full for the debt, sealed by the
proper officer in the divan.

“That is easily done,” said the _kawàss_; “take a pipe and a cup of
coffee, and in five minutes the paper will be here.”

Having given the requisite instructions to one of his subordinates, he
resumed the conversation with Hassan upon general topics, it being
indifferent to him to know what merchant in Damanhour could be so
foolish as to advance money of which he would never be repaid a
farthing.

In a few minutes the messenger returned, bringing a paper bearing the
seals of the treasurer and chief scribe of the Governor’s divan, and
setting forth that Abou-Hamedi, of the Gemeâl tribe, having discharged
all the taxes and charges due by him up to date, was free to return to
his place of abode.

Hassan having paid the money and placed the document in his girdle,
inquired of the _kawàss_ where the prisoner was confined, and whether he
could see him alone.

“He is in the room at the back of that small yard,” replied the
_kawàss_, “where you see the sentry walking before the door. I will tell
him to open it and come away, as his service is no longer required. You
will not find the Arab alone, because, as you had taken an interest in
him, I allowed his family to remain with him.”

“May your honour increase and your days be long,” said Hassan, saluting
him, and going towards the door of the cell, which the sentry, by desire
of the _kawàss_, opened, and then came away.

On entering the chamber, Hassan found that it was more spacious than he
had expected, and was partially lighted by two apertures near the roof,
secured by cross-bars of iron. The place being considered sufficiently
secure, the manacles had been removed from the hands of the Arab, and he
was seated on the floor, his sister and wife beside him, and his
children at his feet.

No sooner did Hassan enter the room than the wife sprang from her
sitting posture, crying aloud—

“It is he! it is he! we shall be saved yet.”

Abou-Hamedi also arose, and all the rest of the family came crowding
towards Hassan. The Arab, who had been informed the preceding evening by
his wife of our hero’s generous intentions, as well as of his having
provided them with the bread on which they had supped, now expressed to
him with much emotion the gratitude which he felt for the sympathy he
had shown him.

“You are of the desert blood,” he said; “and whether Allah give success
to your endeavours or not, you have our thanks.”

“Brother, you are free,” said Hassan; “free as the winds of the desert.
Here is the Government receipt for your debt, and as you have been
stripped of all, and must have something wherewith to recommence your
toil for a livelihood, here are five hundred piastres; put them in your
girdle. Fate is uncertain, Allah only is enduring; I am now rich, some
day I may be poor and you rich, then you may repay me.”

Words cannot paint the tumultuous joy of the poor women as they crowded
to kiss the hands and feet of Hassan, calling every blessing of heaven
on his head. The wife, however, on looking at her husband’s countenance
as he almost mechanically took the document and the money which Hassan
placed in his hand, was frightened at its strange and wild expression;
no word of satisfaction or gratitude escaped from his lips as, seizing
Hassan by the arm, he drew him to a part of the cell where a stray
sunbeam forced its way through the barred aperture; when it fell on
Hassan’s face, the Arab, scanning his features with eyes almost starting
from their sockets, said—

“Years have passed; the youth has become a man; the eye, the voice, the
form are only his! Speak,” he continued, almost savagely; “do you
remember one who strove to stab you in the Meidàn of Alexandria, and
whom you threw to the ground by a wrestling trick? ’Twas I! and had you
known me yesterday, instead of giving me money and freedom, you would
have gone to that cursed Turk’s divan to feast your eyes with a sight of
my mangled feet.” So saying, he dashed the paper and the money furiously
on the ground.

“Brother,” replied Hassan gravely, “I knew you yesterday at the first
glance as well as you know me now. You were in misfortune and misery,
and all that had passed before was forgotten.”

The evil passions struggled for the mastery in that wild breast: it was
but for a moment; the sight of his children and of the paper which
secured his freedom called up the better feelings of his rude nature,
and casting himself into Hassan’s arms, he wept like a child.

Without having read or heard of the Scriptures, the generous impulse of
Hassan’s heart had taught him how to “heap coals of fire on the head of
an enemy”; and the deadly hatred which Abou-Hamedi had entertained
against him since the day of their first meeting was melted in a moment.

It was difficult for Hassan to tear himself away from the overflowing
gratitude of the Arab’s family. One only, the unmarried sister, had
preserved a continuous silence, as became her condition; but she looked
upon her brother’s preserver with eyes swimming in tears, and when he
bade them farewell and left the room, she felt as if life and sunshine
had departed with him.

Little did Abou-Hamedi know when he thrust into his girdle the five
hundred piastres given him by Hassan, that the latter had not even a
dollar left. He had said, “I am rich,” and in truth rich he was—rich in
youth, and strength, and hope—rich in the esteem and affection of his
employer—above all, rich in the possession of a heart which felt in
giving his all to relieve distress a pleasure unknown to the miser who
has found a treasure.

Hassan remained outside the guard-house talking to the _kawàss_ on
various subjects until he had seen Abou-Hamedi and his family clear of
its precincts, and retiring in the direction of the desert. The Arab,
looking back once at the figure of his preserver, muttered to himself:
“Allah preserve you, brave youth. If ever you meet Abou-Hamedi again
when you are in need, you shall find that he remembers good as well as
evil; but we will leave this cursed district, where sorrow and tyranny
pursue us; we will go to our cousins who have their tents near
Fayoom.”[24]

When Mohammed Aga met his young friend in the evening, he asked whether
he had commenced that wonderful speculation which he kept so secret.

“It is all laid out already,” replied Hassan, smiling.

“Hasty bargains lead to repentance,” said the old clerk, shaking his
head; “pray, what makseb [profit] do you expect to make?”

“It has paid me a good interest already, and I am quite satisfied. Do
not ask me any more about it,” said Hassan, looking rather confused, for
concealment was foreign to his nature.

Mohammed Aga refrained from asking any more questions; but, partly from
curiosity and partly from the interest which he felt in Hassan’s
welfare, he was determined before leaving Damanhour to learn how he had
disposed of his little property. Nor was the task by any means
difficult; for in small towns in the East as well as in the West
everybody knows and talks about everything. The chief clerk, therefore,
had no difficulty on the following day in tracing Hassan to the
guard-house, where he had been seen talking to Ibrahim the _kawàss_. To
find that well-known individual was the work of a few minutes, and a few
more spent with him over a cup of coffee and a pipe drew from him all
that he knew of the transaction, including the release of the Arab
family on Hassan’s paying their debt of two thousand piastres. “You see,
Aga,” added the _kawàss_, concluding his narrative, “it was my duty to
release them when the money was paid, and not to inquire whence it came;
but if you are the merchant whom the young man mentioned as willing to
advance it on any security offered by the Arab, why, I fear——” Here he
looked very significantly at Mohammed, and threw out a long puff of
smoke from his chibouque.

“Then you think the Arab cannot pay back the money?” inquired Mohammed.

“Not a dollar of it,” answered the _kawàss_. “The Governor would have
ordered him the bastinado as an example to others, but two bad seasons
have left the poor devil’s purse as empty as my pipe.” So saying, he
shook out its ashes, and left Mohammed to his own meditations.

“That boy will never have a farthing to bless his grey hairs with! Money
in his hand is like water in a sieve, and yet, and yet,”—here the old
clerk passed the back of his hand across his eyes,—“Allah bless him an
hundredfold.” He walked slowly home, and without saying a word to Hassan
of his meeting with the _kawàss_, he told him that, as the affairs for
which they had come to Damanhour were now settled, they might return to
Alexandria, which they did on the following day.

The morning after their return Mohammed Aga went to the private room of
the merchant to deliver the money which he had collected, and give a
general account of his mission, in doing which he placed in the Hadji’s
hands Hassan’s receipt for two thousand five hundred piastres.

“By your head,” said the merchant to his clerk, “tell me what has the
youth done with that money at Damanhour?”

Mohammed then told him the whole story from beginning to end, as related
by the _kawàss_.

“And what has he left in your hands?” inquired the merchant, walking up
and down the room in evident emotion.

“Nothing,” replied the clerk. “Two thousand five hundred piastres were
due to him; two thousand he paid for the liberation of the Arab, and I
doubt not that he gave him the remainder.”

“Mohammed,” said the merchant, “as he wished to keep this secret, do not
mention it to any one, nor let him know that you have told it to me. If
it were spoken about, it would take from the youth the pleasure he now
derives from it, and what say the traditions of the Prophet (on whose
name be glory and peace!), ‘The good deeds done by the faithful in
secret, He shall reward them openly on the day of judgment.’”

During Hassan’s short absence from Alexandria an English family of the
name of Thorpe had arrived there—Mr Thorpe being an elderly gentleman of
good fortune and education, whose passion for antiquarian pursuit had
induced him to visit the land of the Pyramids, together with his wife
and their delicate daughter. Mr Thorpe had brought a letter of
introduction to the British merchant, who undertook to procure for him a
dragoman to accompany the family on their excursion up the Nile. A Greek
was recommended, by name Demetri, who possessed a fair smattering of all
the languages spoken in the Levant.

Foyster, Mr Thorpe’s valet and confidential servant, having approved of
Demetri, he was forthwith engaged. After a short search a dahabiah was
found, which belonged to a pasha absent on service, and who had left
with his wakeel (agent) a discretionary power to let his boat, which was
large and well decorated. The wakeel, being a Greek, was an acquaintance
of Demetri, which rendered the bargaining easy and satisfactory to both
parties. It was agreed that Mr Thorpe was to pay £250 for the six winter
months, the wakeel refunding from that amount £15 to Demetri, and £15 to
Foyster. Mr Thorpe was informed by the English merchant that the charge
was unusually high; but as in those days there was much difficulty in
finding so large and comfortable a boat, the bargain was concluded and
the ratification duly exchanged.

A few days after, Foyster and Demetri were walking homeward from the
bazaar, where they had been making some purchases for the boat, when
they fell in with Hassan, who was returning towards the house of Hadji
Ismael.

Hassan was well acquainted with Demetri, who had frequently amused his
leisure hours with tales of the countries he had visited, and the
wonderful feats he had performed, in which latter branch the Greek had
drawn more liberally on his invention than on his memory. The youth had
also seen Foyster at the British merchant’s house, and knew him to be an
attendant on the rich English family, whose approaching excursion up the
Nile was already the theme of general conversation. The place where they
met happening to be immediately in front of a coffee-shop, Demetri
proposed that they should rest for a few minutes and take a cup of
coffee. While they were thus occupied—Demetri’s two companions listening
to his flowery description of the wonders of Upper Egypt—a Moghrebi,[25]
of gigantic and herculean proportions, who had probably been indulging
in a forbidden drink more stimulating than coffee, came up, and his
fanaticism being roused at the sight of Foyster’s dress, he cried out to
him, in an angry voice—

“Get up, Christian dog, and give me your seat.”

The valet, not understanding a word, looked at Demetri for an
explanation. The latter, much alarmed, and evidently not desirous of
exhibiting any feat of valour similar to those of which he had often
boasted, said to the Moghrebi—

“He is a stranger, and does not understand your speech.”

“Does he not?” replied the other; “then perhaps he will understand
this,” and so saying he kicked the seat from under Foyster with such
force that the latter fell backwards on the ground.

While this was being enacted, Demetri whispered to Hassan—

“Let us make haste to get away from this place. That is the noted
_pehlivan_.[26] He carries four men on his shoulders; he is an
elephant.”

“Why do you insult the stranger, and kick his seat from him?” said
Hassan to the Moghrebi. “He offered you no offence.”

“Offence!” replied the Moghrebi scornfully; “his presence is an offence.
Is he not a dog of an infidel?”

“There is no God but Allah, and Mahomet is his prophet,” said Hassan.
“Those who are ignorant of the truth are to be pitied; but our lord
(Mohammed Ali) has made friends with these Franks. They buy and sell
here in peace, and it is not right to strike or insult them without
cause in our streets.”

“And who are you, youngster, who dare to preach to me?” said the athlete
contemptuously. “Are you perhaps a sheik, or a mollah, or a kâdi?”

“I am a man, and I fear not a wise one, for wasting my words upon an ox
without understanding,” replied Hassan, his eyes kindling with anger.

“You are a bastard (Ebn-Haram),” shouted the athlete; “and if you had
half a beard I would spit upon it.”

Hearing this abusive epithet now applied to him before a score of
spectators, Hassan’s fury was no longer to be controlled. Springing upon
the Moghrebi with the bound of a tiger, he seized him by the throat, and
a fearful struggle ensued.

Although the athlete was the heavier and more bulky man, it soon
appeared that Hassan was his equal in strength, and far his superior in
activity. After a contest of some minutes, in which each displayed a
complete mastery of all the sleights of wrestling, Hassan succeeded in
passing his hand under the leg of his gigantic opponent, and lifting him
fairly in his arms, dashed him with terrific force on the ground. Hassan
stood for a moment looking on his fallen opponent, from whose mouth and
nostrils flowed a stream of blood. The people from the coffee-shop now
crowded round him: some threw water on his face, and in a short time he
recovered sufficiently to raise himself up; but he was in no condition
to renew the struggle, and Hassan walked away with his two companions,
followed by the ejaculations of the bystanders—“Mashallah!
wonderful!”—the greater part of them being rejoiced at the discomfiture
of the athlete, who was indeed a notorious brawler and bully.

The preparations of the dahabiah were now nearly completed. It had been
found, however, that after all she was too small to accommodate all the
party with comfort, so a second of a smaller size had been hired.

It was about this time that, after receiving a letter from Cairo, Hadji
Ismael sent one morning for Hassan and told him that a new commission
had arrived, in the execution of which his assistance would be
requisite.

“Upon my head and eyes be it,” said the youth.

“I have received a letter from my friend Ali Pasha, commonly called Delì
Pasha;[27] he tells me that our lord, Ibrahim Pasha, saw the horses
which I sent to Constantinople two or three years ago, and was so much
pleased with them that he gave great praise to his servant (me), saying
that no horse commission had been so well executed as this. Our lord
Ibrahim Pasha has now desired Delì Pasha to write to me and find out who
purchased these horses for me, and if possible to send the person up to
Cairo, where his services are much required. Now, Hassan, as you had the
chief trouble and merit of that purchase, I propose to send you to Delì
Pasha on this matter. It may open you a way to fortune.”

“You are my uncle,”[28] replied Hassan; “and I am ready to go where you
wish, and my fortune is in the hand of Allah.”

“Nay, my son,” said the good merchant; “it is bitter to my heart to part
with you, but you know that it is not consistent with the circumstances
of your birth and early youth that you should remain always in this
town: you do not wish to go to Cairo? Perhaps, by the blessing of Allah,
you may learn things there which concern your happiness?”

Hassan saw at once that his foster-father had communicated to the Hadji
some of the mysterious circumstances attending his early childhood, so
he replied—

“It is true that I have a weight on my heart, and if I could remove it
by a journey to Cairo, it would be a blessed journey indeed.”

“You would seek for a father; is it not so?” said the Hadji.

“It is so,” replied Hassan. “I have made search and inquiry in
Alexandria without success; but I am sure I shall find him, for I have
taken a _fal_ in the Koran,[29] and the words that I found were, ‘The
faithful who seek shall not be disappointed in their hope.’”

“Inshallah! your hope will be fulfilled!” replied the merchant. “Have
you anything with you by which a parent, if found, could recognise you?”

Hassan undid his long girdle, and from its inmost folds produced the
relics given him by his foster-mother. The merchant examined them
attentively.

“These would be sufficient,” he said, “to identify you; but, Hassan, if
you go to Cairo, remember that there are many accidents by water and by
land; you might be robbed, and could never replace them. You had better
leave some of them with me; I will keep them for you in my iron chest;
whenever you require them, you can send for them.”

Hassan acquiesced in the proposal of his kind patron, and reserving only
the quaintly devised amulet, he gave up the remainder, receiving from
the merchant a paper describing them accurately and bearing the
merchant’s seal.

The worthy Hadji was grieved to part with his _protégé_, for whom he
entertained an affection almost paternal; but having resolved to do so
for the youth’s own advantage, his chief anxiety now was to furnish him
well for the journey. For this purpose he desired Mohammed Aga to
procure a pair of stout saddlebags, into which he put two complete suits
of clothes, and also two small Cashmere shawls; with respect to these
last the Hadji whispered, “You need not wear these unless you find a
father in some great man, but they may be useful to you as presents.” He
gave him also a sword of excellent temper, a slight but beautifully
worked Persian dagger, and a pair of English pistols: to these he added
a well-filled purse; but observing some hesitation in Hassan’s
countenance, the kind-hearted Hadji added with a smile, “Nay, it is
almost all due to you for past services; but I shall write to Delì Pasha
and inform him that your salary is prepaid for three months from this
date.” Hassan kissed the hand of his benefactor, his heart was too full
for speech, and he could only utter—

“If I find a father, may he be like Hadji Ismael.”

Of personal vanity Hassan was as free as from the foibles which usually
attend it; but it cannot be denied that when he walked out in the full
dress and equipment proper to a young Bedouin Sheik, it was with a
prouder step, and the day-dreams concerning his future destiny took a
firmer hold of his imagination.

“Whither bound, my brother?” called out to him Demetri, on meeting him
near the door of the merchant’s house. “Mashallah! you have the air and
costume of a bridegroom! Who is the moon-faced one whom you have chosen?
By our head, Hassan, it is not well to keep these things secret from
your friends. When is the wedding to take place?”

“Nay, there is no wedding in the case,” said Hassan, laughing. “The
Hadji is going to send me on a commission to Cairo, and he has given me
this dress and these arms.”

“May Allah reward him!” said the merry Greek. “To Cairo, said you? Why,
the Fates are propitious. We are going there likewise. Inshallah! we
will go together.”

“How may that be?” demanded Hassan. “You are going with that rich Frank
family, and I hear that your boat will be so crowded with luggage and
people that there will not be room for a sparrow on board.”

“Nonsense,” replied the Greek. “There is always room for a friend. The
English servant and I can do as we please, for the old Englishman
troubles himself about nothing so long as he has his books and a few old
bricks and tiles to look at.”

“Bricks and tiles!” said Hassan. “Why, is he going to build a house in
Upper Egypt?”

“No; but by my father’s head, he is mad about old bricks. The other day
he made me go with him all round the mounds near Pompey’s Pillar, and he
brought back with him nearly an ass-load of fragments of stone, bricks,
and pottery.”

“Wonderful!” said Hassan. “But why do you think the English servant
would be willing to give me a passage in the boat?”

“Why,” replied Demetri, “because ever since the day that you threw down
the Moghrebi bully who had kicked his seat from under him, he does
nothing but talk of you. Never fear; he will be delighted to have your
company; and we will tell the old gentleman that if we have you on
board, all the thieves and robbers within twenty miles of the bank will
disappear as by magic.”

“Nay,” said Hassan, laughing; “do not tell him anything that might lead
him to think me a boasting fool. But you certainly may tell him that if
he gives me a passage, and any danger or trouble occurs, I shall be
ready to tender the best service in my power.”

On this they parted, and Demetri communicated the plan the same day to
the valet, who relished it extremely, being well satisfied to have by
him in case of need a stouter heart and arm than that with which
Providence had blessed the Greek interpreter. They proceeded together to
Mr Thorpe, and explained to him the advantages to be derived from the
proposed addition to their party.

“But,” said Mr Thorpe, “I fear we have no cabin vacant.”

“Cabin!” echoed Demetri. “Does your excellency think that a son of the
desert like him would go into a cabin? No, no. With his _bornoos_
[cloak] over him, and his _khordj_ [saddle-bags] under his head, he will
sleep like a prince on any part of the deck.”

Mr Thorpe having no other objection to make, and the ladies being
curious to see the hero of Foyster’s narrative, no further persuasion
was requisite, and Hadji Ismael, on his part, was heartily glad that his
young _protégé_ had found so convenient and easy a conveyance to Cairo.

It was with sincere and mutual regret that Hassan parted with Mohammed
Aga and his son Ahmed, who had shown him such invariable kindness during
the three or four years that he had spent in Alexandria. But “destiny
had written it,” and it is wonderful to see the composure with which
good Mussulmans resign themselves even to the heaviest misfortunes with
that phrase on their tongue.

The chief clerk, in bidding adieu to Hassan, put a letter into his hand.
“Take this, my son,” he said. “It is addressed to Ahmed Aga, the
_mirakhor_[30], and favourite Mameluke of Delì Pasha. I have known him
long, and I trust he will be a good friend to you.”

Hassan in quitting the merchant’s house left universal regret behind
him. Even the old Berber _bowàb_ [porter] said, “Allah preserve him. He
was a good youth. Every Bairam he gave me a dollar, and if I was half
asleep and kept him at the door, he never cursed my father.”

On a fine autumnal day, about the middle of October, the Thorpe party
embarked on the dahabiahs destined to convey them on their Nile
expedition. The boats were moored to the banks of the Mahmoudiah canal,
just opposite the pleasant and shady garden then occupied by Moharrem
Bey, a relation of the Viceroy’s by marriage.

As donkey followed donkey, and porter followed porter to the place of
embarkation, the active Greek distributed the packages in their several
places; but the space and his patience were wellnigh exhausted by their
variety and multitude. There were Mr Thorpe’s clothes and books and
measuring instruments, and a box of tools for excavation. Then endless
boxes and books and other sundries, the greater part of which Demetri
considered as useless, were all to be added to the well-filled hampers
of wine, spirits, tea, sugar, preserves, pickles, and a thousand other
things with which his assiduity and Mr Thorpe’s guineas had filled every
available bunker and corner of the boats.

Hassan had gone down early to the place of embarkation, not knowing the
hour at which the start was to take place; so Demetri availed himself of
this circumstance to make him his lieutenant, in urging the porters and
the sailors to hasten the stowage of the multifarious baggage.

“By your head, Hassan, you are welcome!” cried the busy Greek; “had you
not come, we should not have finished this work to-day, for these
fellows are asses and the sons and grandsons of asses. Here—here, you
blind dog!” shouted he to a sturdy fellow who was carrying a hamper into
the smaller dahabiah, “did I not tell you to put that in the large
boat?”

Here he paused, and said in an undertone to Hassan—

“Mr Foyster and I keep the wine-store in this boat, to have it under our
own eye. The tutor and the young gentleman are in the small boat, and
they cannot require wine.”

“If they are to study,” replied Hassan, smiling, “I doubt not that Nile
water would be better for them; but you should know better than I, who
am not a student or a drinker of wine.”

“That is the only fault you have, my lad,” said Demetri; “there is
nothing like wine to open the heart and brighten the eye. Oh! you pig,”
shouted he to another burly fellow going towards the cabin door; “are
you going to carry that _kafass_ full of fowls into the ladies’ sleeping
cabin?” So saying, he jumped upon the luckless porter, and with a few
smart blows of his courbatch sent him forward with his chicken-load.

With the assistance of Hassan, Demetri contrived to get the multifarious
boxes into something like order and arrangement by the time that a cloud
of dust and the braying of half-a-dozen donkeys announced the approach
of the Thorpe party.

Once fairly embarked, the boats, sometimes under easy sail, sometimes
tracked from the shore, wound their slow way along the waters of the
Mahmoudiah.

The voyage from Alexandria to Atfeh, the point at which the canal joins
the Nile, is of itself dull, and is so familiar, either by experience or
description, to the world in general, that it scarcely merits a separate
notice. Still, as Emily Thorpe kept a journal, as many girls are in the
habit of doing, a few pages therefrom may be transcribed, to give a
further account of the voyage in the dahabiah:—

“I am surprised to hear that the Mahmoudiah canal, although cut by the
present Viceroy at an enormous cost of money and of human life, through
a country perfectly flat, is as winding in its course as a path through
a labyrinth. On asking Demetri, our dragoman, if he could explain the
cause of this, he answered me by a story—for he has a story ready for
almost every occasion. The very same question, he says, was lately put
to Mohammed Ali by a French engineer travelling through Egypt. The Pasha
said to the engineer—

“‘Have you ever seen rivers in Europe?’

“‘Yes, sir, many.’

“‘Are they straight or crooked in their course?’

“‘They are generally crooked, sir.’

“‘Who made the rivers?’ inquired the Pasha.

“‘They were made by Allah,’ said the astonished engineer.

“‘Then, sir,’ concluded the Pasha triumphantly, ‘do you expect me to
know and to do better than Allah?’

“The poor engineer had no reply to make to this strange argument, so he
took his leave and went his way.

“I hope we shall soon see this extraordinary man, who has raised himself
from the position of a subaltern to the viceroyalty of Egypt. He is now
staying at a small country-house that he has built on the banks of the
Nile, about fifty miles above this place.

“On the first day we had mostly contrary winds, and the tracking a boat
of this size is slower than a snail’s gallop. Hassan having seen some
wild ducks flying over a marsh at no great distance, went in search of
them. In the evening he brought back five or six. But yesterday was our
first adventure.

“We were sailing up the canal, the breeze being favourable, though very
slight, when at a bend or sharp turn we came suddenly upon a large boat
like our own, coming from Atfeh to Alexandria. Whether owing to a sudden
change of course, or to some mismanagement on the part of one of the
pilots, I know not, but the two boats came together with a fearful
crash. The rigging of both was damaged, and for some minutes the vessels
were locked to each other near the prow, the men being unable to
extricate them. It seemed that the crew of the other boat was far more
numerous than ours, and amongst others I noticed a man dressed in a
military blue frock, who, Demetri told me afterwards, was a _kawàss_ of
the Viceroy.

“The noise, the yells that ensued, and the volumes of (to me
unintelligible) abuse that were interchanged, baffle all description;
but as no one seemed to think of disengaging the vessels, but all were
bent upon gesticulations which became every minute more hostile, I felt
seriously alarmed. Hassan, who had been sitting in his usual place
behind our divan, seeing my alarm, came up to me and said with a smile
(for he speaks English tolerably well)—

“‘Do not be afraid, lady; these fellahs make a great deal of noise, but
there is no danger.’

“Even as he was speaking, the man in the blue coat, who seemed to be in
a perfect fury, and to be urging his men to board our boat and beat our
crew, caught up a stone or brick, which happened to come within his
reach. Whether he aimed it at Hassan, or the _rais_, or me, I know not,
but it just grazed my head, drawing a little blood from the upper part
of my cheek.

“Hassan’s countenance changed in a moment; his eyes shone like
lightning; it was terrible to see such concentrated fury in that young
face, so gentle in its habitual expression. Calling the _rais_ to hold
up his large cloak before me to shield me from further harm, he sprang
to the lower deck, and ran forward to the prow where the boat had been
entangled. Before he reached the spot they had become disengaged, I know
not how, and ours was beginning slowly to resume its course; clearing
the intervening space at a bound, he leapt alone upon the deck of the
other boat. There he was met and attacked by a man with what they call
here a _naboot_, a thick heavy stick. Hassan wrenched it from the man’s
grasp, and whirling it round his head, and calling on the others to
stand back, he forced his way to the spot where stood the _kawàss_ who
had thrown the stone; the latter drew his sword, but Hassan’s blow fell
with such terrific force that the sword was shivered, and the man fell
senseless on the deck.

“We could see that four or five of the boat’s crew struck at Hassan and
grappled with him, endeavouring to throw him down and bind him, but he
shook them off by the exertion of his tremendous strength, and plunging
overboard into the canal swam to the opposite bank; two of the boat’s
crew jumped in and swam after him, but he reached the shore before them.
He then ran along the bank till he overtook our boat, which was now
going steadily through the water with a fair wind, and plunging into the
canal again, caught a rope thrown to him by our _rais_, and in a minute
was safely on board.”

The two dahabiahs had passed through the locks of Atfeh, and were just
about to commence their course up the broad stream of the Nile when a
_kawàss_ from the Governor of the town came to the water’s edge and
desired the _rais_ of the larger boat to stay a few minutes, as he had a
message to deliver to the English traveller.

On being presented to Mr Thorpe, at whose side stood Demetri as
interpreter, the _kawàss_ said he was instructed by the Governor to
desire that an Arab on board, charged with assaulting and beating one of
the servants of the Viceroy, might be given up to him.

Mr Thorpe, whose experience of Eastern travel was small, but who was at
the same time too humane to think of giving up Hassan to the tender
mercies of the Atfeh authorities, consulted apart with Demetri, and then
replied—

“Tell the Governor that I have a complaint to make against the captain
and crew of the boat which ran into and damaged mine; and also against
that servant of the Viceroy who, without any right or provocation, threw
a brick at my daughter, which struck her, and might have killed her. I
am now on my way to Cairo, where the rights of the case will be examined
by the English Consul and the Egyptian Government: then if any person in
this boat shall be judged to be in fault he can be punished.”

The _kawàss_, not having any reply ready to meet this reasonable
proposal, permitted the boats to proceed on their way, and retired to
deliver the message to his principal.

Unlike the Rhine, the Rhone, and other great rivers in Europe, which
are, as it were, merely beneficial accidents in the countries through
which they flow, the Nile is the creator and perpetuator, as well as the
fertiliser, of the whole soil of Egypt. Wherever its prolific waters
annually irrigate and subside, there spring up in exuberant abundance
the grains and herbs of the field, the flowers and fruits of the garden,
the almond and pomegranate, the fruitful palm, the fragrant orange and
lemon, the cotton-plant and the sugar-cane, and, more frequent than all,
the widespread shade of the sycomore.[31] In Egypt it is unnecessary to
inquire where vegetation ceases and the desert begins: from the
Cataracts to the Mediterranean the answer would be always the
same—whatever spot or line the waters of the Nile can reach there is, or
may be, cultivation; all beyond that line is desert. The feelings of the
party on attaining the fine view of this glorious river were various as
their habits and characters.

Hassan reclined near the _rais_, reading snatches of his ‘Arabian
Nights,’ and occasionally casting his eyes over the desert sandhills to
the west, endeavouring to recognise among them some spot which he had
passed in his expeditions with the Oulâd-Ali. The boats glided swiftly
forward through the turbid stream under the impulse of a fair and fresh
breeze, their crews seated lazily round the mast, passing their pipe
from mouth to mouth, when Demetri, to whom everything like silence or
quiet was naturally repugnant, came aft and asked Mr Thorpe whether he
would like to hear the crew sing an Arab boat-song.

Emily’s reply, “Oh! papa, let us hear it by all means!” anticipated and
ensured the old gentleman’s consent. Demetri acted as leader, and beat
the time with a cane in his hand, which he every now and then allowed to
descend pretty sharply on the shoulders of any luckless wight who did
not open his jaws and his throat to the utmost extent at the recurrence
of the burden or chorus which terminated every verse.

The orchestra consisted of a miserable apology for a kettle-drum (called
in Egypt a _darabooka_) played by a fellow who swayed his head and
shoulders backwards and forwards to the time of the song. The tone was
so strange and its vibrations so shrill as the fellow half shut one eye
and threw up his head sideways to strain his voice to the utmost pitch,
that Emily was fain to put up her handkerchief to her face, to hide the
laugh which she could not resist, and shield her ears from the dissonant
shrillness of the sound. When, however, he came down from these
indescribable counter-tenor heights[32] to a more natural tone, and
Emily was able to follow the cadence of the song, especially of the wild
and irregular chorus which terminated every verse, she began to find it
more tolerable, and afterwards even pleasing in its effect.

Hassan being called upon by Mr Thorpe to explain the words, felt not a
little confused; for independently of the fact that his knowledge of
English was imperfect, it is certain that these songs of the Nile
boatmen are extremely difficult to translate, sometimes from the
elliptical vagueness of their language, sometimes from its plain and
unveiled indecency; he succeeded, however, in giving the general meaning
of the song, which cast roughly into English rhyme would run as
follows:—

        “O night! O night! O night! you’re better far than day;
         O night! O night! O night! the Eastern sky is grey;
         O night! O night! O night! a little longer stay;
         To the girls of Damanhour speed on our homeward way.

                               _Chorus._

          The girls of Damanhour, like young gazelles at play,
          The girls of Damanhour, none half so fair as they.

       “O night! O night! O night! my love is far away,
        O night! O night! O night! her form’s a willow spray;[33]
        O night! O night! O night! my heart is fallen a prey
        To Damanhour eyes, like those of fawn at play.

                               _Chorus._

        Oh the girls of Damanhour, like young gazelles at play;
        The girls of Damanhour, none half so fair as they.”

“Are the ladies of Damanhour so fair as they are described?” inquired
Emily.

“I know not,” replied Hassan, smiling, “for I was never there excepting
once or twice, and then only for a day or two; but I doubt their beauty,
lady, for what are they but fellahs? Doubtless the song was written by
some Damanhour rhymer, and we have a proverb in Arabic, ‘My children are
fairer than yours,’ said the crow to the parrot.”

“Do you despise the fellahs, Hassan?” said Mr Thorpe.

“Despise them! No,” replied the youth (his countenance betraying the
pride which his tongue disavowed); “Allah made them, and they are good
to cultivate the ground—nothing more. The ox and the donkey are useful
animals, but neither is an Arab horse.”

On the following day the dahabiahs continued their course up the Nile
without accident or adventure, when, as they reached a bend in the river
called Zauràt-el-Bahr, the party assembled on their decks saw before
them at the distance of a few miles a number of tents, horsemen, and
other indications of a large encampment.

On interrogating the _rais_, Mr Thorpe learnt that from these
indications the presence of Mohammed Ali in person might certainly be
inferred, he having built near that spot a small country-house, to which
he occasionally resorted while inspecting the canals and other
improvements which he had recently ordered to be made in the province of
Menoufiah.

As the dahabiahs drew near the encampment, and Mr Thorpe was doubting
whether he could gratify the curiosity he had long felt to see the
celebrated founder of the new Egyptian dynasty, a six-oared boat, with
an officer in the stern-sheets, darted out from the bank and was
alongside in a moment. Stepping on deck with a polite salute, he said he
believed that he had the pleasure of seeing the English lord who had
lately come up from Alexandria on his way to Cairo.[34]

Demetri having been desired to reply in the affirmative, the officer
continued—

“The Viceroy has heard of your coming, and orders me to say that he
hopes you will not find it inconvenient to remain here to-night, and to
breakfast with his Highness to-morrow morning, with all your party.”

Mr Thorpe having desired Demetri to accept the invitation on his part
with due acknowledgments of the Viceroy’s courtesy, the Greek made a
most flowery speech upon the occasion, the half of which, at least, was
of his own invention. It conveyed, however, the required acceptance; and
the officer having withdrawn, the boats were made fast to the shore, a
few hundred yards from the garden attached to the Viceroy’s villa.
Guards were sent down to protect them from thieves during the night, and
half-a-dozen sheep, fifty fowls, and several baskets of fruit were sent
on board by his Highness’s order.

Mr Thorpe and all his party were pleasantly surprised at the agreeable
opportunity thus offered by the Viceroy’s unexpected courtesy of seeing
one whom they justly considered as a celebrity of his time. Mr Thorpe,
though believing that the Viceroy’s invitation had been specially
intended to include the ladies, sent Demetri on shore, desiring him to
ascertain the point from one of the chamberlains. Demetri returned with
a message that, as Mr Thorpe was accompanied by his wife and daughter,
the Viceroy hoped to be honoured by their presence at breakfast.

On the following morning, at the appointed hour, an officer and several
servants of the Viceroy’s household came down to the boats to conduct
the party to his Highness’s presence, Demetri accompanying them in his
capacity of dragoman. Mrs Thorpe and Emily had not omitted to follow the
advice given them by the British Consul in Alexandria, and on landing
from their boat they each wore a thick green veil over their face. The
precaution was not unnecessary, for they had to pass through a great
crowd of soldiers, Mamelukes, and attendants, all of whom stared with
eager curiosity at the Frank ladies, whose dress and appearance
presented a novelty to Egyptian eyes.

On reaching the villa, after passing through an antechamber, at the door
of which were two sentries with musket and bayonet, they came to a silk
curtain fringed with gold. The conductor raised it, and they found
themselves in the presence of Mohammed Ali.

At the period of our tale Mohammed Ali was at the high tide of his
personal and political career. Though upwards of fifty-five years—the
latter half of them spent in constant warfare or intrigue—had passed
over his head, they had not impaired either the energy of his mind or
the activity of his frame.

All opposition to his government had been subdued: the scattered
remnants of the Mameluke beys whom he had overthrown were fugitives in
remote parts of the Soudan. The Divan at Constantinople had found itself
compelled to treat him rather like an independent ally than a powerful
vassal. Nubia, and the countries fertilised by the White and the Blue
Nile, had submitted to his arms. He had restored the holy cities, Mecca
and Medina, to the dominion of the Sultan, and had brought under
subjection the warlike and independent tribes of Arabia—the sands of
whose desert fastnesses had never before been trodden by the foot of a
foreign invader. Even the dreaded Wahabees, the terror of whose fanatic
arms extended across the Arabian peninsula from the Red Sea to the
Persian Gulf, had been unable to oppose any effectual resistance to his
well-disciplined troops. Their great chief, Souhoud, had fallen.
Deraiah, his capital, in the wild recesses of the Nejd, had been taken
and plundered, and his son and successor, Abdallah, with all his family,
had graced as captives the conqueror’s triumph in Cairo.

After all these successes in foreign and domestic warfare, he turned his
attention to the improvement and development of his acquired dominions;
and in these pursuits evinced the same energy, if not always the same
sagacity, that had marked his military career. His first object was to
free the valley of the Nile from the depredations of the Bedouins on the
bordering deserts; and having learnt from experience the difficulty, not
to say the impossibility, of chastising the incursions of their flying
squadrons with his regular troops, he adopted the plan of weakening them
by division among themselves. With this view he cultivated the
friendship of the chiefs of several of the more powerful tribes, whom he
gained over to his interest by timely donations of money, dresses of
honour, and land for the pasturage of their flocks; in return for which
favours they were ready at his call to pour forth their numerous
horsemen in pursuit of any predatory bands of other Bedouin tribes who
ventured to make hostile incursions into his territory. By this prudent
adoption of the well-known principle of “divide et impera,” he had
succeeded in so far weakening their general power that the cultivated
provinces in Egypt already enjoyed a state of comparative tranquillity.

This object attained, he turned the energies of his active mind to the
increase of his revenue; and not satisfied with those resources of
agriculture which nature has indicated to be the chief if not the only
wealth of Egypt, he already thought of rivalling at Boulak the silks of
Lyons, the looms of Manchester, and the foundries of Birmingham. It was
while his head was full of these projects, in the prosecution of which
machinery of every kind was daily pouring into the country, that he
received the visit of Mr Thorpe and his party.

At the time of their entrance he was seated on a divan in the corner of
the room farthest from the door, and beside him stood a middle-aged man
whom they conjectured to be his dragoman. He rose from his seat and
received them with the polite urbanity for which he was distinguished,
and motioned to the ladies to take their seats on the divan. Chairs
having been prepared, the one nearest to his person was appropriated to
Mr Thorpe. While the first compliments were being exchanged, and the
coffee was handed round in small cups of enamel studded with diamonds,
they had full leisure to examine the features and appearance of the
conqueror and regenerator of the land of the Pharaohs.

Although below the average height, his active and firmly knit form was
well calculated for the endurance of the fatigues and exertions which
his restless mind imposed upon it. On his head he wore a fez or cap,
around which was wound a fine Cashmere shawl in the shape of a turban;
for he had not yet adopted the tarboosh, which forms at present the
unsightly head-dress of Turks and Egyptians. His forehead was high,
bold, and square in its outline, subtended by shaggy eyebrows, from
beneath which peered out a pair of eyes, not large, but deep-set,
bright, and singularly expressive; when in anger, they shot forth fiery
glances which few could withstand, and when he was in mirthful mood,
they twinkled like stars. His nose was straight, with nostrils rather
wide; his mouth well-shaped, though somewhat broad, while beneath it a
massive chin, covered by a beard slightly grizzled by age, completed a
countenance on which the character of a firm, determined will was
indelibly stamped. He was dressed in a pelisse lined with fur, in the
front of which protruded from his Cashmere belt the diamond-studded hilt
of a dagger. Large loose trousers, and a pair of red slippers, according
to the fashion of the day, completed his costume, whilst on the little
finger of a hand small and delicate as that of a woman shone a diamond
of inestimable value.

After the interchange of the usual complimentary speeches and
inquiries—such as, “Whether Mr Thorpe liked what he had seen of Egypt”;
“Whether they proposed ascending the Nile as far as the First Cataract,”
&c.—which the Viceroy’s interpreter translated into French, breakfast
was announced. On his Highness leading the way into the adjoining
apartment, they were surprised at seeing a table laid out in the
European fashion, with the unexpected luxuries, not only of knives and
forks, but likewise of chairs and snow-white napkins. The dragoman stood
behind his master’s chair, and Emily was rather confused at finding that
the chief part of the conversation fell to her share—on account of her
speaking French much more fluently than her parents. The Pasha was much
pleased at this, for he was devoted to the fair sex.

With the exception of a pilau, and one or two Turkish dishes of pastry
and sweetmeats, there was nothing to distinguish the breakfast from one
served in Paris. As soon as it was concluded, and the fingers of the
guests had been duly purified by rose-water, poured from a silver-gilt
vase, they returned to the reception-room and resumed their former
places. Scarcely were they seated than there entered a row of
well-dressed young Mamelukes, each bearing before him a long pipe, with
a mouthpiece of amber, ornamented with diamonds, which they presented to
all the guests, as well as to the Pasha. Of course neither of the ladies
had ever held a pipe between their lips, and Mr Thorpe was as guiltless
of tobacco as they were. The Pasha smiled, and told them, through his
interpreter, that it was intended as a compliment, but the acceptance of
it was optional.

Mrs Thorpe absolutely declined; but Emily took the pipe, and putting the
pretty amber between her pretty lips, and making believe to smoke,
pouted so prettily that the Viceroy heartily wished she were a
Circassian that he might buy her on the spot. Mr Thorpe, wishing to be
particularly civil, took two or three _bonâ-fide_ puffs at the pipe, the
result of which was that he was nearly choked, and his eyes filled with
tears.

The attendants having retired, the conversation on general topics was
resumed; and the Viceroy explained to Mr Thorpe some of the projects
then floating in his active brain for introducing various branches of
manufacturing industry into Egypt. In reply Mr Thorpe, who, although by
no means a political economist, was a man of plain good sense, pointed
out to his Highness the difficulties that he would obviously have to
encounter from the want of hands (the agricultural population of Egypt
not being sufficient to cultivate the arable soil), and also from the
absence of the two most important elements of manufacturing
industry—iron and coal.

“Ah!” said the Pasha, laughing; “I know all that; I shall have
difficulties; what can be done without difficulty? All my life I have
been contending against them; I have always overcome them, and,
Inshallah, I will do so still! Did you see,” he added, with increased
animation, “a canal that joins the Nile a few miles northward of this
spot?” Mr Thorpe had noticed it, but had not thought of inquiring
whither it led. “Well, then,” continued the Pasha, “that canal leads to
a large village in the middle of the Delta, from which and from the
neighbouring provinces it brings the produce down to the Nile. How do
you think I made that canal? You shall hear. Two years ago I stopped
here on my way to Cairo from Alexandria, and having determined to make a
canal from the Nile to that village, I sent for the chief engineer of
the province, and having given him the length, breadth, and depth of the
canal required, I asked him in what space of time he would undertake to
make it. He took out his pen and his paper, and having made his
calculations, he said that if I gave him an order on the Governor of the
province for the labour he required, he would undertake to finish it in
a year. My reply was a signal to my servants to throw him down and give
him two hundred blows of the stick on his feet. This ceremony being
concluded, I said to him, ‘Here is the order for the number of labourers
you may require; I am going to Upper Egypt, and shall come back in four
months; if the canal is not completed by the day of my return, you shall
have three hundred more.’”

In relating this story the Pasha’s eyes sparkled, and he almost jumped
from his sitting posture with excitement, as he added, rubbing his
hands, “By Allah! the canal was completed when I returned.”[35]

The Viceroy having enjoyed for a few moments the recollection of his
successful engineering, turned to Mr Thorpe and said, with a graver air—

“I am sorry to have to speak on a disagreeable subject, but a letter has
been brought to me by a horseman from the Governor of Atfeh, in which it
is stated that a portion of the crew of your boat attacked the crew of a
Government boat on the canal, and that they were set on and led by a
young Arab of gigantic size, who nearly killed one of my _kawàsses_.”

Here Demetri, whose office had hitherto been a sinecure, the translation
having all passed through the Viceroy’s interpreter, thinking it a good
opportunity for displaying his descriptive powers, came forward, and
addressing the Viceroy, said—

“May it please your Highness, my friend Hassan——”

“Silence, babbler!” said the Pasha, in an angry voice; “you may speak
when you are spoken to.” So saying, he darted upon the unfortunate Greek
a fiery glance that almost made his heart jump into his mouth.

“Excuse me,” said the Pasha to Mr Thorpe, recovering himself
immediately, as he observed Demetri steal noiselessly out of the room;
“these servants, especially Smyrniotes, always tell lies, and I desired
to hear the truth of this story from yourself.”

“I was in the cabin,” replied Mr Thorpe; “but my daughter was on deck
the whole time, and saw all that passed; she can give your Highness a
correct report.”

“If the young lady will so far favour me, I shall be obliged,” said the
Viceroy.

Emily then related what had passed with the utmost accuracy. She noticed
that at the pauses of her narrative the interpreter made sundry marks on
a letter which he held in his hand, and also that alternate smiles and
frowns followed each other on the expressive countenance of Mohammed
Ali. When she had ceased speaking he thanked her, and after conversing a
moment with his interpreter, proceeded to ask her a few questions
connected with the letter which he held in his hand.

“Do you know whether it was by accident or design that the two boats ran
against each other, and if accident, whose fault was it?”

“I think it was certainly accident, as there had been no quarrel or
cause of quarrel before; whose fault it was I am not able to judge.”

“Are you sure that your crew did not attack the crew of the other boat
first, with sticks or other weapons?”

“I am sure that nothing but words had passed on either side until the
_kawàss_ threw the stone or brick.”

“Did you see him throw it?” said the Pasha, knitting his brows.

“I saw him certainly, and he very nearly hurt me seriously, as your
Highness may see.” While thus speaking, Emily turned her cheek aside,
and lifting up one of the brown curls, she showed the hurt.

“Kàhpe-oghlou pezevènk!” said the Pasha, in an angry tone, looking
towards his interpreter. (The words are untranslatable to ears polite,
although they may fall from a Turk fifty times in a day. They may be
rendered in this case, “The infernal scoundrel!”) “One more question,”
he added, “I would beg to ask the young lady. You say that the youth you
call Hassan jumped alone on the deck of the other boat; how many men
might there be on the deck at the time?”

“I did not count them; there might be eight or ten; some were pulling at
a rope on shore.”

“And how is it they did not drive him back, and prevent him from
striking the _kawàss_?”

“I cannot tell; I saw them strike at him on all sides, but it seems they
had not power to stop him, for he reached the _kawàss_, broke his sword,
and beat him down before jumping into the canal.”

“Ajàib!—wonderful!” said the Viceroy, turning to his dragoman. “What a
tale is this; and if it be true, what dirt have these lying dogs been
eating?” As he spoke, he pointed again to the letter he held in his
hand.

“The Viceroy is astonished at your tale,” said the interpreter,
addressing Emily; “it differs so entirely from the report sent to him by
the _kawàss_.”

“I grant that it seems improbable,” said Emily, slightly colouring; “but
as I own that I was very much frightened, if his Highness thinks that I
have stated anything incorrectly, it is easy to know the truth. The
_rais_ of our boat was close beside me all the time, and saw what
passed; let the Pasha send for him and make him relate what he saw.”

When this was translated to the Viceroy, his eyes sparkled again, and he
said, turning to Mr Thorpe, “The young lady is fit to be a cadi; by
Allah! with your leave, it shall be as she says.”

“By all means,” replied Mr Thorpe; “let the _rais_ be brought before his
Highness immediately.”

Demetri, having been sent down to the boat, returned in a few minutes
with the _rais_, whose relation of the circumstances differed in no
essential particular from that made by Emily.

“Mashallah!” said the Viceroy, “it is wonderful; with Mr Thorpe’s
permission I should like to see and question this youth.”

Mr Thorpe having signified his acquiescence, Demetri was again sent to
the boat, and soon returned, accompanied by Hassan.

During the brief absence of Demetri in search of Hassan, the Viceroy had
made further inquiries concerning the latter, in reply to which Mr
Thorpe informed him that the young man had been in the employment of
Hadji Ismael, and was now on his way to Cairo with letters for some
pasha whose name Mr Thorpe did not remember.

“What, Hadji Ismael, our good Arab merchant?” said the Viceroy.

“The same,” replied Mr Thorpe.

Here the Viceroy spoke apart to the interpreter, by whose order an
attendant brought a small box, containing letters, which he placed on
the divan at his Highness’s side. The interpreter, by the Viceroy’s
desire, ran his eye over two or three letters from Alexandria, till he
found the one of which he was in search. He read a passage from it, at
which Mohammed Ali laughed and chuckled immoderately, repeating over and
over again, “Aferin! aferin!” (bravo! bravo!) He then turned to Mr
Thorpe, saying—

“I wonder whether this can be the same youth as the one mentioned in
this letter, who threw the famous Moghrebi wrestler, Ebn-el-Ghaizi? It
is here written that he was in the employment of Hadji Ismael.”

“There can be little doubt it is the same youth,” replied Mr Thorpe. “I
have heard the whole story from our English servant. Indeed, it was in
protecting him that Hassan got into a quarrel with the wrestler.”

“Mashallah!” said the Viceroy, “the youth deserves a reward, for that
vagabond Moghrebi had beaten all the Egyptian wrestlers, and laughed at
our beards.”

At this moment Hassan reached the door of the apartment, and the Viceroy
having given orders that he should be admitted, he came forward, and
having made the usual obeisance and touched his forehead with the skirt
of the Viceroy’s pelisse, retired a few steps, and drawing himself up to
his full height, awaited his prince’s commands in silence.

Mohammed Ali had been accustomed from his youth to study the characters
of men from their countenance and bearing, and he now fixed upon Hassan
an eye whose piercing gaze few cared to encounter; but Hassan met it
with a calm and untroubled look. “Mashallah! a noble-looking youth,”
muttered he to himself, after scanning the athletic yet graceful
proportions of the figure before him. He then turned to his dragoman,
saying—

“That youth is surely not an Arab. Of what race think you he may be?”

Before the dragoman could reply, Hassan, addressing the Viceroy, said—

“It is right that your Highness should know that I understand Turkish,
lest you should say anything not intended for my ear.”[36]

“Ha! ha! I forgot that he had been in Alexandria some years,” said the
Viceroy in a low tone. He then added aloud, “Hassan—for so I hear you
are called—whence do you come?”

“I was bred in the tents of your friends the Oulâd-Ali,” replied the
youth.

“A proud and a stubborn set of rogues they are,” muttered the Viceroy in
an undertone. He then continued aloud, knitting his shaggy brows as he
spoke, “You are accused of having struck and nearly killed one of my
_kawàsses_. What have you to say to the charge?”

“It is true, and he deserved it,” replied Hassan.

“Deserved it!” repeated Mohammed Ali, his eye kindling with fire. “Do
you dare, youngster, to laugh at my beard, and to correct my servants at
your pleasure?”

“Mohammed Ali,” said the youth, with manly simplicity, “I have been
taught to venerate and not to laugh at a beard silvered by time. How,
then, should I not honour yours, for I have longed to see you from my
childhood, having heard of your skill and courage in war and your
generosity in peace? But your Highness cannot know and cannot be
answerable for the insolence of all your servants. Had you been where I
was when that cowardly fellow threw a stone at the head of the young
lady beside you, you would not have beaten him—you would have cut his
head off.”

“By the head of my father!” said the Viceroy, pleased rather than
offended at the unusual boldness of Hassan’s speech—“By the head of my
father! I believe the boy is right. I have heard the whole story from
these strangers and from the _rais_, and though I was prepared to be
angry with you, I now acquit you from blame. Where are you going to in
Cairo, and what commission have you from our good merchant the Hadji?”

“I am going with a letter from him,” said Hassan, “to Delì Pasha.”

“Delì [mad], well named,” said the Viceroy. “I can guess; it is about
horses. Have you the letter with you? Let me see it.”

Hassan with some hesitation withdrew the letter from a small silk bag
which he carried in the folds of his girdle, and handed it to the
Viceroy, who, without the slightest ceremony, opened it, and gave it to
the interpreter to read to him, which he did in a tone audible only to
the Viceroy himself.

“It is all right,” he said. “Give it back to Hassan, and let him take it
on to Delì Pasha.”

“Pardon me,” said Hassan; “I cannot receive it so. Delì Pasha might
suspect me of having opened it. Let your Highness’s secretary write in
the margin that it was opened by your order, and reseal it with your
seal.”

“By Allah!” said Mohammed Ali, “the youth has brains, as well as goodly
limbs. Call the _khaznadâr_.”[37] When that officer entered, the
Viceroy, giving him the letter, whispered a few instructions in his ear,
and he left the room.

It had not escaped the Viceroy’s quick eye that Hassan had evinced some
awkwardness or constraint in opening the silk bag containing the letter
and replacing it in his girdle, and he said to him—

“These Frank travellers tell me that, while you were attacking the
_kawàss_ on that boat, you received some blows and a stab from one of
the crew. Is this so?”

“It is true,” replied Hassan; “but the blows were nothing, and the stab
was of little consequence; the bleeding from it was soon stopped.”

“Does it hurt you now?” demanded the Pasha.

“A little,” he replied. “But it is not worth your Highness’s notice.”

“You are a madcap,” said the Viceroy; “and young blood thinks nothing of
wounds. Raise up your left arm to your head.”

Hassan tried to obey, but the arm fell powerless at his side.

“Ha!” said the Pasha, “I knew it was so.” Then turning to his
interpreter, who was also a Doctor, he continued, “Hakim Bashi, take him
into another room and examine his wound, and while you are away let that
Greek come in again to interpret. His tongue will not run so fast now.”

The Doctor conveyed Hassan to his own apartment, and the conversation
was resumed through the medium of Demetri, who had been so thoroughly
abashed by his first rebuff that he would not risk a second, but
performed his interpreting duties with an accuracy which surprised
himself—for he did not add more than one-third from his own head.

A quarter of an hour, then half an hour, passed away, and still neither
the Doctor nor his patient returned. Several cups of coffee had been
presented, and nearly an hour had elapsed ere the Hakim Bashi entered
the room alone.

“Come here!” cried out the impatient Viceroy. “By Allah! your absence
has been long. Where is the youth?”

“I left him lying on a divan in my room, your Highness, and he must not
be moved for at least twenty-four hours.”

“Was his hurt, then, so bad?” inquired the Pasha.

“It was such,” said the Doctor, “that if your Highness had not desired
me to examine and dress the wound, in a few days the amputation of his
arm at the shoulder might have been necessary. I found on the top of the
shoulder a large blue circle, which convinced me that there was
something seriously wrong below. I was obliged to cut it open, and to
cut deep, too. Then I took my probes and began to examine the bottom of
the wound. As the inflammation was great, the pain must have been most
acute; but, my lord, I never saw such a youth. He remained as firm and
unmoved as if he had been made of wood or stone; and in the middle of
the operation he said to me with a smile, ‘Hakim Bashi, Mashallah! what
an eye our Prince has got.’ At last my instrument met with some hard
substance, which, with some trouble, I succeeded in reaching with a
forceps, and I drew it out. It proved to be the point of the dagger with
which he had been stabbed, and which, encountering the bone, had broken
off. Here it is.” So saying, he produced to the Viceroy about half an
inch of the point of a steel dagger.

“Aferin! aferin!” (bravo! bravo!) said the Viceroy. “Well have you done,
my good Hakim Bashi. The young man will recover the use of his arm now.”

“Yes, if it be the will of Allah. But he must remain at least
twenty-four hours in the position in which I have placed him. I shall
dress the wound once or twice, and at this hour to-morrow I can tell
your Highness whether he is fit to pursue his journey.”

“What do you think?” said Mohammed Ali, addressing Mr Thorpe; “if I had
two or three regiments composed of fellows like this Hassan, might I not
march to—any part of the world?” Another termination was on his lips,
but he checked it, and substituted the vague phrase. A slight smile
might have been noticed on the face of the medical interpreter, who well
knew the word that had nearly escaped his chief, although the idea was
not carried into execution until many years had passed.

“I have travelled in many countries,” replied Mr Thorpe, “and can assure
your Highness that men of the stature, strength, and symmetry of Hassan
are rare everywhere; but your Highness knows better than I do, and has
proved it to the world, that however advantageous to the individual may
be the possession of these qualities, in an army there is nothing but
discipline among the men, and skill in their commander, that can ensure
success.”

“May your life be long!” said the Viceroy, acknowledging the compliment;
“but now you must tell me what you wish to do, for you see this Hassan
cannot go forward for a day or two. Will you wait for him, or will you
pursue your journey, and I will have him sent on in the first boat that
passes?”

“Nay,” said Mr Thorpe, “we are not so hurried but that we can wait for a
day; and it would be unkind to leave him behind, as he received his
wound in defending us.”

“Be it so,” replied the Pasha; “and there is another advantage in your
staying. The Governor of Damietta has written me word that a Christian
_kassis_[38] is coming up the river on his way to the South. They say he
is a very learned man, and has been some years in these countries:
perhaps you might like to join him to your party?”

“Willingly,” replied Mr Thorpe, “if he arrives in time. Meanwhile, I
will take my leave, having trespassed too much on your Highness’s time.”
So saying, he arose, but the Viceroy would not let him go until he had
made him promise to come again on the morrow to breakfast.

The Thorpe party returned to their boat, and spent the remainder of the
day in talking over the occurrences of the morning, and in discussing
the character and qualities of the remarkable man whom they had seen for
the first time.

A few hours later Demetri came into the cabin and stated that the
Viceroy’s interpreter was without, accompanied by a stranger. Orders
having been given for his immediate admission, he came in and said to Mr
Thorpe—

“I have been charged by the Viceroy to present to you Mr Müller,
concerning whom his Highness spoke to you; and I do it with much
pleasure, as he is a friend of mine, and a most worthy person.”

The new-comer was apparently about forty-five years of age. His
countenance was intelligent and benevolent, and his complexion, from
long exposure to sun and weather, was tanned almost to the hue of an
Arab. On his head he wore what had once been a German cap, but which,
from the folds of grey serge wrapped around it, might almost pass for a
turban; and his beard, which was bushy and slightly grizzled, fell
nearly half-way to his waist. His outer dress was composed of a long
robe or gaberdine of dark-grey cloth, with loose sleeves, and confined
at the waist by a leathern girdle, from which depended a bag, made from
the skin of an antelope, and containing all the sundries which the good
missionary most frequently required in his long excursions in the forest
and desert. His sandals were of undressed hide, and he had made them
himself; and he carried in his hand a stout staff which he had brought
from the Abyssinian woods, and which had been his constant companion in
many a remote peregrination.

The two visitors remained some time, and the conversation turned on
Egypt and the wilder regions to the southward, with all of which Müller
seemed so familiar, and described them with so much truthful simplicity,
that the Thorpe party were delighted with him.

On the following day they returned to breakfast with the Pasha, and were
glad to learn that Hassan had passed a quiet night, and that the
inflammation had so far subsided that he might go on board without risk.

“I have no fear,” said the medical interpreter, “of any bad consequences
now that you have agreed on going with Müller; he has had so much
experience that he is half a Doctor himself: indeed,” he added, smiling,
“I doubt whether he has not more skill than many who hold the diploma.”

The breakfast passed as agreeably as that of the preceding day, and
after it Hassan was summoned into the Pasha’s presence. He came in with
his left arm in a sling. His Highness spoke kindly to him, and after
receiving the thanks of the youth for the attention shown to him by the
interpreter, the latter was desired by the chief to reseal and restore
to Hassan the letter from the merchant to Delì Pasha, adding in the
margin that it had been opened by himself, and, in conclusion, he
whispered a few words in his ear, to which the interpreter only replied
by the customary “On my head be it.”

A few minutes sufficed to execute this order, and when the interpreter
returned the letter to Hassan, he at the same time presented another to
Mr Thorpe, informing him that it contained an order to the Kiahya
Pasha[39] to furnish his party with an escort to the Pyramids, and a
guard while remaining there. His Highness also said that on their return
from Upper Egypt he should probably be at Shoobra,[40] and he hoped they
would come to see him there.

Mr Thorpe having duly expressed his thanks for his Highness’s
hospitality and kindness, now rose to take his departure, and Hassan
came forward and touched his forehead with the skirt of the Viceroy’s
pelisse; Mohammed Ali looked at him with a smile, and said—

“Good fortune attend you, Hassan—a mad follower going to join a mad
lord—but you are a good lad, and I am pleased with you.”

They all retired to their boat, Hassan taking an opportunity before they
left to thank the medical interpreter for the service he had rendered
him in restoring him the use of his arm.

Our party pursued their way merrily towards Cairo, Mr Thorpe’s
impatience to see his beloved pyramids becoming every hour more
uncontrollable.

Müller’s _canjah_[41] kept company with them, and it had been agreed
before they started that he should pass the day on board the large boat
and at night sleep on his own; by this means he was enabled every day to
dress Hassan’s shoulder according to the advice given him by the medical
interpreter.

The voyage was slow, and unaccompanied by incidents of interest to any
excepting our friend Demetri, who daily landed at some village to
purchase milk, fowls, and a lamb for the party; and as he only put them
down in his account at one hundred per cent over the cost price, Mrs
Thorpe, instead of complaining of the charges, only expressed her wonder
at the cheapness of provisions. We shall not be surprised at the good
lady’s satisfaction when we remember that at the period of which we
write one hundred eggs were bought for a piastre,[42] a couple of fowls
for the same amount, and a sheep for five piastres.

We may here insert a few leaves from Emily’s journal:—

“We have found the Missionary Müller a great addition to our party; he
is the best, and the queerest, and the cleverest creature I ever beheld;
he really seems to me to know everything. He has travelled a great deal
in Nubia and the adjoining regions, and speaks several of those
barbarous languages. His most constant companion on our boat is Hassan.
I could not resist asking him the other day, after a conversation which
seemed to me to have lasted above an hour, what he could find to
interest him so much in Hassan’s conversation, and whether it was about
fighting and hunting.

“‘No,’ he replied, with a good-humoured smile, ‘it was about religion.’

“‘Religion!’ I exclaimed in astonishment; ‘I can understand that he
should listen to you on such a subject, but I observed that he spoke
more and more vehemently than you did yourself.’

“‘True, lady; but I could not blame him, for I attacked, and he
defended, his faith. I had before observed in him so much unselfishness,
modesty, and such a love of truth that I thought it my duty to try if I
might not lead him to the way of truth where we know it to be. With him,
as with all true Mussulmans, it is next to impossible. They have got the
one great undeniable truth—the Unity of God—so indelibly stamped upon
their conviction that any attempt to make them understand, or even
consider, the doctrine of the Trinity is attended with such difficulties
as amount almost to an impossibility! The words with which Hassan closed
our conversation were these: “There is no God but Allah; the days of
fighting the Mushrekin and planting the true faith with the sword are
gone—now we can only pity them.”’

“‘Who are the Mushrekin?’ I inquired.

“‘The term signifies,’ he replied, ‘those who assign a partner; and it
is applied especially to Christians, who, in the estimation of the
Moslem, assign in their doctrine of the Trinity two other persons or
spirits as partners with the Creator.’

“‘Whence could Hassan,’ I asked, ‘learn to discuss such subjects; has he
any learning?’

“‘He has no learning,’ replied Müller; ‘but he knows his Koran well, and
reads it constantly. He knows not that all which is most valuable in its
moral precepts was taken from our Bible; but his heart is simple, his
faith fixed, and his will strong and determined. There is hardly a tribe
in the deserts of Southern Africa, or in the islands of the Southern
Ocean, where a missionary may not hope for some reward for his labours,
but to convert an honest and believing Mussulman is a task almost
hopeless.’

“The following day we continued our course up the Nile, passing by a
number of villages and palm-groves, and towards evening I resumed my
favourite seat on the upper deck, to see the beautiful Egyptian sunset;
the Missionary Müller was by me, and interested me much by descriptions
of the Soudan. Hassan was quite in the stern of the boat, reciting or
chanting in a low voice. I asked Müller if he knew what the young man
was repeating, but he could not catch the words, and said, “It is
doubtless some old Arab legend.” I felt a great desire to hear a
recitation of this kind, and I inquired of the missionary whether he
could prevail upon Hassan to repeat it to us.

“He got up and made the request. I could see that some hesitation and
difficulties arose; but they were soon overcome, and Müller returned,
bringing with him Hassan, who sat down in his old place between me and
the _rais_. Müller said to me—

“‘Hassan desires the young lady to be informed that he is not a _ràwi_
[a teller of stories], but that he knows some old Arab legends. If it
pleases her, he will tell the tale of Rabîah. It is,’ added Müller, ‘a
legend of great antiquity, and its scene is laid in Arabia.’

“I told him it would give me great pleasure to hear it, so Hassan
commenced.

“Although I could not understand a word, it moved me deeply. After the
first few lines his faculties seemed all wrapped up in the tale: now the
voice was deep and guttural, then it grew soft and sad; then came some
scene of anger or strife, and his eyes flashed fire; then came a
plaintive tone, which dropping almost to a whisper, suddenly stopped. I
felt sure that the hero or the heroine was dead, and the tears actually
stood in Müller’s eyes, and the old _rais_ at the helm uttered several
sighs, or rather groans, in succession.

“On expressing my vexation that I could not understand the recital,
Müller kindly said that he would make me a translation of the tale on
the morrow, correcting it from Hassan’s lips.

“Here is the translation of the Arab legend made by Müller:—

“RABÎAH.

“Rabîah was feeble, slowly recovering from severe wounds. Who has not
heard of Rabîah?—the Lion of the Nejd, whose eyes were like burning
coals, whose form was like the _at’l_ (oak), whose voice was as a
tempest; before his lance the brave fell bathed in blood, and the timid
fled like herds of antelopes.

“When Rabîah came forth to battle and shouted his war-cry, the maidens
of the Otèbah wrung their hands, saying, ‘Alas for my brother!’ ‘Alas
for my beloved!’ and the mother, pressing her babe to her breast, cried,
‘Oh, my child, wilt thou see thy father to-morrow?’

“Now Rabîah was feeble.

“Some months before he had borne away from the tents of the Otèbah,
Selma, the pearl of the tribe; her form was like the Egyptian willow,
her face like the full moon in its brightness, her eyes were those of
the antelope, and her teeth pearls set between two cushions of
rose-leaves, her neck was a pillar of camphor,[43] and her breasts two
pomegranates rivalling each other in rounded beauty.

“But Selma’s eyes were averted, as if in scorn; and while Rabîah was
consumed by the fire of love, her heart was a locked casket whose
contents none might know.

“The season was spring, and the tribe, with their warriors and tents,
their flocks and herds, had moved on to a higher region. Rabîah,
retarded by his wounds, had remained behind, keeping with him only a few
followers, his sister, and Selma; but anxiety came upon his mind, and he
said, ‘Let us go to join the tribe.’

“So they went, the two maidens riding in a _musàttah_,[44] and he on a
_shibriah_,[45] and thus they journeyed, and Rabîah sung in a feeble
voice the following words:—

 ‘Alas, my heart is bleeding! the arrows of the Otèbah have tasted my
    blood;
 But their hurt is nothing: it is the glance of Selma’s eye that hath
    pierced my heart.’

“The maidens heard the song, but Selma spoke not, and his sister wept
for his wounds, but more for his unrequited love.

“On the second day they passed a mountain, and, reaching a sandy plain,
journeyed slowly across it.

“Suddenly a cloud of dust appeared in the distance, and one of the
followers sped on a swift horse to see whence it arose. The maidens
trembled like willow-leaves in the morning breeze, but Rabîah slept. The
man soon returned with a loosened rein and bloody heel, shouting—

“‘It is a large body of the Otèbah, and they are coming this way; there
is no hope of escape; there is neither strength nor power save in
Allah!’

“‘Rabîah,’ cried his sister, distracted with fear, ‘canst thou do
nothing to save us? Wilt thou see Selma carried off before thine eyes?
The Otèbah are coming!’

“At these words Rabîah started up as if from a dream; his eyes shone
like two suns.

“‘Bring me my led war-horse,’ he shouted to his men, ‘and fasten on my
armour; let us see what enemy dare come near Selma while Rabîah lives.’

“Still while they fastened on his armour his old wounds opened afresh,
and the blood trickled from them, and he sang the following lines:—

 ‘Truly, to be near her and not have her love is worse than twenty
    deaths;
 But to die for her is sweeter than to drink the waters of Keswer.’[46]

“When Selma heard these words she turned towards him, and tears dropped
from her eyes upon her soft cheek, like dewdrops on a rose.

“‘Rabîah,’ she cried, ‘thy great love hath torn away the veil of pride
and deceit from my heart; truly my love is equal to thine; come to my
arms, my beloved, let us live or die together.’

“Then the camels were made to kneel, and Rabîah came to the side of her
litter, and she cast her arms about his neck, and he kissed her on the
mouth, and their lips did not separate till their souls passed into each
other, and they forgot the world.

“But the followers cried aloud, ‘Rabîah, the Otèbah are coming!’ and he
tore himself from her embrace; and his great war-horse stood beside him
stamping on the ground, for his ear caught the tramp of the steeds, and
his wide nostrils snuffed the coming fight. None but Tarrad could bear
that mighty warrior through the ranks of the foe; he was swift as an
antelope, and like an elephant in his strength.

“Now Rabîah’s armour was fastened, and his helmet on his head. He looked
once more upon Selma, and repeated the following lines:—

           ‘Our souls have drunk together the water of life,
            There is no separation now, not even in death.’

“Then he mounted Tarrad, and took his great spear in his hand, though
his limbs were stiff, and his wounds still bled beneath his armour.

“‘Make all speed,’ said he, ‘with the camels to the Horseman’s Gap;[47]
beyond it is the plain where our tribe is encamped; there you will be
safe.’

“So they went; and when he saw the Otèbah drawing near, his great heart
rose within him; he forgot his wounds, and the fire shot from his eyes.
Then he rode towards them, and shouted his battle-cry aloud. Their
hearts trembled within them, and none came forth to meet him.

“But Fèsal, the young chief of the band, who was brother to Selma,
reproached them, saying—

“‘Are ye men, or are ye sheep, that one hundred are afraid of one? Has
he not slain our brethren, and carried away the pearl of our tribe? Now
is the hour of revenge.’

“And he went forth at speed to strike Rabîah to the earth with his
lance, but Rabîah met him in full career, and warded the blow. With the
shock of meeting, Fèsal and his horse rolled together on the ground.

“Then Rabîah wheeled round to slay him, but the young man’s helmet had
fallen off, and Rabîah knew his face, and spared him, saying—

“‘Thou art Selma’s brother.’

“Then he charged the band, and he raged among them like a wolf in a
sheepfold, and he pierced a strong warrior through the body—the man fell
from his horse, and the lance broke. Then they set up a shout of rage
and triumph; yet they would not come near him, for he had drawn his
limb-dividing sword, so they shot arrows at him from a distance.

“Casting his eyes behind him, he saw that his camels were entering the
gap, and he retreated slowly, covering himself from the arrows with his
shield; thus he gained the mouth of the defile. There he stood and faced
them; and though the arrows showered upon him, and blood was flowing
fast down the flanks of Tarrad, he spoke and moved not, but sat still,
like a horseman carved in stone in the gap.

“But soon an arrow entering the eye of Tarrad reached his brain, and he
fell dead. Then Rabîah lay down behind his horse’s body, covering
himself also with his shield, so that they saw him not; but they
continued shooting their arrows, until Fèsal, who had mounted another
horse, came up and stayed them, saying—

“‘The horse is dead, and Rabîah must now be our prisoner.’

“Then he rode forward with a few followers, and called aloud, ‘Rabîah,
yield thyself; escape is now impossible,’ but Rabîah gave no answer.

“Fèsal advanced still nearer, and repeated the same words, adding—

“‘It is useless to shed more blood.’

“But Rabîah gave no reply.

“He approached with the caution of a hunter coming near a wounded lion,
till he reached the spot, and looked upon his face.

“Rabîah was dead!

“Then pity took possession of the heart of Fèsal, and having told his
followers to place the body of Rabîah and of his horse gently on one
side, he galloped alone after the party which had retreated through the
gap. He knew that his sister was one; and seeing that they prepared to
shoot their arrows, he called to them—

“‘Put away your weapons; this is the hour of grief and not of war.’ And
he drew near to the litter, and said—

“‘Sad is the news of my tongue—Rabîah is dead—the Lion of the Nejd is no
more.’

“Then a piercing shriek came from the sister of Rabîah, and she cried—

“‘Let us go back to him.’

“Selma spoke not a word; a great stone was upon her heart, and speech
and tears were denied her.

“So they turned back; and when they reached the spot there was a dead
silence, while the camel was made to kneel down, and the two maidens
came forth.

“Rabîah’s sister wept and sobbed, holding her dead brother’s hand; but
Selma threw herself on the body of her beloved, and cast her arms about
his neck, and again she pressed her lips to his cold lips. None dared to
move her, and Allah had mercy upon her, and her soul passed away in that
last kiss.

“For many months there was wailing and lamentation among the tribes, and
there was peace among them, for war lay buried in the grave where Rabîah
and Selma slept side by side.”[48]

The dahabiahs arrived safely at Boulak after an uneventful voyage.
Hassan, having taken leave of his hospitable friends, and promised to
pay them an early visit, proceeded to discover the house of Delì Pasha,
in order to enter upon his new duties.

He learnt that the Pasha did not live in the city, but in one of the
large houses recently built on the banks of the Nile, above the Port of
Boulak, and below the palaces constructed by Mohammed Ali and Ibrahim
Pasha for the harems of the viceregal family.

On reaching the door of the house Hassan was informed by the Berber
porter that the Pasha was within, so he passed into the entrance-hall,
at the end of which he observed one or two slaves lounging about, from
whom he learnt that their master had lately come down from the upper
apartments, and was now in the courtyard at the back of the palace.
Availing himself of the guidance of one of the slaves, he soon reached
the courtyard, a large space covering two or three acres of ground, and
surrounded by a high wall. Here he found a motley crowd assembled,
consisting apparently of Mamelukes, grooms, and servants of all
descriptions, and the shouts, and cries, and turmoil proceeding from
them baffled all description.

In the centre of the group he saw a horse, held by two or three grooms
by long ropes, rearing, kicking, and plunging like a wild beast, and
near him a middle-aged, strong-built man, with a turban on his head and
his sleeves tucked up above his elbows, striking at the horse with a
long courbatch,[49] and cursing the animal, together with its sire, dam,
and all its ancestry, in the most approved terms of Turkish abuse. As
Hassan came forward, looking around in vain for any figure which he
could conceive likely to be the Pasha, the person above-mentioned
stopped a moment from his flogging and malediction to take breath, so
Hassan took the opportunity of inquiring whether he could inform him
where Delì Pasha was to be found.

“And what may be your business with him, young man?” said he, turning
towards Hassan a face in which heat, anger, and good-humour were
strangely blended.

“I have a letter for him from Hadji Ismael, the merchant,” replied
Hassan.

“Where is the letter?” said the speaker.

“It is here,” said our hero, producing it from his girdle; “and I wish
to deliver it to the Pasha in person, if you will tell me where I can
find him.”

“Let me see the address,” said the strange man with the bare arms.
Hassan handed it to him, and as he cast his eye on the outer seal, he
said—

“Why, this is not the seal of Hadji Ismael, it is that of the Viceroy;”
and he was proceeding leisurely to open it when Hassan snatched it from
him, saying—

“How dare you open it! I must deliver it unopened into the Pasha’s own
hands.”

“Why, you young hot-blood,” said the other, holding out his two large
muscular hands, “whose hands are these if they are not Delì Pasha’s?”

“Is it so, indeed?” said Hassan, in some confusion. “I was not aware
that I was speaking to his Excellency.”

“There is no harm done, boy,” said the Pasha, smiling good-humouredly.
“You did not expect to see his Excellency with his arms bare and a
courbatch in his hand. Now that you know me, give me the letter.”

Taking it from the youth’s hand, he read it carefully, stopping every
now and then to give a scrutinising glance at the bearer; and when he
came to the postscript added by the Viceroy’s order, he laughed till the
tears stood in his eyes.

“By my father’s beard!” he said, “all will soon be mad in this house.
Mohammed Ali sends you to me, saying that you are as mad as myself; and
it is only yesterday that Ibrahim Pasha sent me that cursed horse,
telling me that it was as mad as myself. If the father’s statement prove
as true as the son’s, you must be mad indeed, for such a devil I never
beheld.”

“Devil,” said Hassan, looking at the furious and struggling animal with
unrepressed admiration; “he seems to me beautiful as an angel.”

“You say true,” replied Delì Pasha, “his form is perfect; and Ibrahim
brought him away as a colt from the Wahabees. He is of pure Kohèil
blood; but Shèitan[50] is his name, and Shèitan is his nature; nothing
can tame him. He has nearly killed two of Ibrahim Pasha’s grooms, and he
sends the animal to me as a present, telling me that it is just like
myself.”

“If he be a Kohèil,” said Hassan, “he will never be tamed by such means
as I saw your Excellency using when I came into the courtyard.”

“You speak boldly, youngster,” said the choleric Pasha with a frown. “Do
you think that, with my beard beginning to turn grey, I do not know how
to tame an unruly horse?”

“I speak boldly, Excellency, because I speak truly; not from any wish to
offend. Does Ibrahim Pasha know your Excellency well?”

“Wallàhi! [by Allah!] I believe you he does; we have marched together,
bivouacked together, fought together for many years.”

“Then,” said Hassan, “as his Highness has likened your Excellency to
that horse, permit your servant to ask you, if you were in an angry and
fretful mood, and any one were to attempt to haul at _you_ with ropes,
and strike you with a courbatch, in order to tame you, how would he
succeed?”

“Wallàhi! I would cut his head off,” exclaimed the Pasha, feeling
mechanically for the sword which he had left behind him in the palace.
“Do you think that you could mount him?”

“It is better not now,” said Hassan quietly.

“Mount him!” said a voice from behind; “he is afraid to go near the
horse.”

Hassan turned to look at the speaker, and saw a large, powerful man of
about thirty-five years of age, to whose harsh features a deep scar on
the cheek gave a still more forbidding appearance.

“Silence, Osman Bey,” said the Pasha; “because the young man speaks his
mind freely, you have no right to insinuate that he is afraid. What say
you, Hassan? What do you propose about the horse?”

“If your Excellency desires it,” said Hassan, drawing himself up and
casting a look of contempt on Osman Bey, “I will mount the horse
immediately, and he shall kill me or I will kill him; but if you ask me
what I would advise, I would say leave him alone now: his flank is
panting, his eye bloodshot, no good can come from gentle usage now. Let
him be taken back to the stable; give orders that no one may tend or
feed him but myself, and let me show him to your Excellency after two
days are past.”

The Pasha was just about giving his consent, when Shèitan thought fit to
settle the matter otherwise for himself. With an unexpected bound he
broke the halter held by one groom, and rushing upon the other, threw
him to the ground, and grasping the unfortunate man by the middle, with
his teeth shook him as a terrier does a rat.

None seemed desirous of approaching the infuriated animal; but Hassan,
snatching a _nabout_ (a long thick staff) from the hand of one of the
bystanding servants, rushed to the spot, and striking the horse a severe
blow on the nose, obliged him to drop the _sàis_ (groom), who crawled
away on all-fours and placed himself behind his protector.

Shèitan seemed resolved to be worthy of his name, for no sooner did he
see Hassan standing before him than he ran furiously at him with open
mouth, with the intention of worrying him as he had done the _sàis_; but
Hassan had watched him with too steady an eye to be taken unawares, and
no sooner did the animal in furious career come within reach than he
dealt him a blow on the top of the head between the ears with such force
that the staff was broken in half, and the horse stood still a moment
completely stunned and bewildered. That moment was not unimproved by
Hassan, who vaulted lightly on his back, and sat waiting until the
animal’s senses fully returned, during which time he gathered up the
halters hanging from the horse’s head and made therewith a sort of
extempore bridle.

No sooner did Shèitan recover his senses and become aware of the
audacious rider on his back, than he began to rear, plunge, and perform
the wildest gambols in order to dislodge him. Hassan sat like a centaur,
and the savage animal, determined to get rid of him, reared bolt upright
and fell backwards; but Hassan was prepared for this manœuvre, and
sliding off on one side, alighted on his feet, while the horse fell
alone.

Hassan’s blood was now up, and he determined to subdue his enemy by
force. Giving the horse several severe blows with the broken staff which
he held in his hand, he forced the animal to rise, and just as it was
gaining its feet jumped once more on its back.

“Aferin! aferin!” (bravo! bravo!) shouted the old Pasha at the top of
his voice, as the infuriated horse once more commenced its wild career,
bearing its immovable and relentless rider. The large arena in which
this scene took place was shut in by the house in front, by high walls
on the two sides, one of which divided the outer house from the interior
or harem, and at the farther end was a lower wall, between five and six
feet high, which separated it from another large court beyond, in which
were the Pasha’s stables. Shèitan, goaded to madness by his vain efforts
to get rid of his merciless rider, now rushed with full speed towards
the stable-court. To stop him with that halter bridle was impossible,
so, instead of attempting it, Hassan gave him his head, shouted aloud
his wild Arab cry, and, to the surprise of the bystanders, horse and man
cleared the wall and alighted in safety on the other side. Whether it
were owing to the tremendous exertion that he had made, or to the
concussion on alighting on hard ground after so unwonted a leap, Shèitan
was no sooner over the wall than he stopped, trembling and panting.

Hassan allowed the affrighted animal a few moments to recover its
breath, and then began to canter it round the stable-yard. “Now, friend
Shèitan,” he said, “thou hast come over this wall once to please
thyself; thou must go over it again to please me.” So saying, he again
urged the horse to full speed with heel and stick, and charging the wall
with the same success as before, galloped him to the spot where Delì
Pasha and his followers stood. There, without difficulty, he pulled up,
and the foaming, panting sides of the exhausted steed sufficiently
proved that he was subdued.

“That will do for the first lesson,” said Hassan good-humouredly,
patting the neck of Shèitan. “To-morrow we shall know each other
better.”

Delì Pasha was so delighted with Hassan’s performance that he could
scarcely find words to express himself.

“See your horse safe in the stable,” he said; “give your own orders
about him, and then come up to me in the _salamlik_;[51] I have much to
say to you.” Turning to the _mirakhor_, or head of the stable, he added,
“Give him a good _sàis_, and see that his orders about Shèitan are
punctually obeyed.”

On inquiry Hassan found that the _sàis_ who had been seized by the horse
had not been injured, as the teeth had only caught his outer clothes and
his broad girdle. This _sàis_ was the one who habitually fed Shèitan in
the stable, and Hassan accompanied him thither, telling him to walk the
horse about for an hour, but to give it neither water nor barley till
his return; to ensure his fidelity Hassan slipped a few piastres into
the man’s hand, and returned towards the house to present himself to his
new patron.

We must now change the scene to the interior or harem of Delì Pasha’s
palace, which was separated by a high wall from the exterior building.
There was, however, a private door pierced in the wall, by means of
which the Pasha could pass from his _salamlik_ to his harem, which door
was, as usual in Turkish houses, guarded by several eunuchs, who
relieved each other on guard day and night. One wing of the harem was
assigned to the Pasha’s two wives and their attendants, while the other
was assigned to his only daughter, Amina, whose mother had died in her
infancy, her place being supplied by a middle-aged Turkish lady, named
Fatimeh Khanum, who enjoyed the title and authority of Kiahia, or chief
of the harem.

All the Pasha’s affections were centred in his daughter Amina, and she
was one of whom any father might be proud; she was about sixteen years
of age, and though her figure was rather above the average height, it
was so beautifully formed, and rounded in such exquisite proportions,
that every movement was a varied though unstudied grace.

Her face was one of those which defy the poet’s description or the
portraiture of the artist; for although each lovely feature might be
separately described, neither pen nor pencil could depict their harmony
of expression nor the deep lustre of those large liquid eyes, whose
fringes, when she cast them down, trembled on the border of her downy
cheek.

Her beauty was already so celebrated in Cairo that she was more
generally known by the name of Nejmet-es-Sabah[52] than by her own. Many
among the highest of the beys and pashas had demanded her in marriage,
but she was so happy with her father, and he loved her with such intense
affection, that he had never yet been able to make up his mind to part
with her. He spoilt her by indulging her in every whim and caprice, and
yet she was not spoilt, partly owing to the gentleness of her
disposition and partly owing to the care which Fatimeh Khanum, who was
an unusually sensible and well-informed woman, had taken in her
education.

From the latticed window in her boudoir, Amina had witnessed the whole
of the scene described already; clapping her hands together with
excitement, she had called Fatimeh to her side.

“Fatimeh,” she cried, “who is that stranger, taller by the head than all
the others?”

“I know not, my child,” said Fatimeh. “I have never seen him before.”

“Oh, the wild horse will kill him,” said Amina, with a half-suppressed
shriek, as she saw the horse rear and fall backwards. “No, he is on it
again, and unhurt,” she cried, again clapping her hands together for
joy. Another half scream burst from her as she saw the wild horse and
horseman clear the wall, and again when he repeated the same perilous
leap.

Amina often sat behind the lattice of her window and amused herself by
looking at her father’s retainers when playing the jereed,[53] and
though herself invisible to them, she knew many of them by name, and
almost all by sight.

“Oh, Fatimeh,” she cried, “when you go downstairs do not forget to make
one of the slaves inquire who is that strange youth. We never saw such a
horseman, did we, Fatimeh? and then he has such a——” Amina paused and
blushed a little.

“You were going to say such a handsome face and figure,” said Fatimeh,
smiling. “I daresay he is a new Mameluke of your father’s, but I will
find out and tell you who he is this evening.”

They then withdrew into the outer apartment, and resumed the work which
the noise made by the wild horse had interrupted.

Amina was making a beautiful embroidered purse for her father, and
Fatimeh arranging some ornament of her favourite pupil’s dress, when a
slave entered and said that the Pasha required Fatimeh Khanum’s presence
in the _salamlik_. Throwing her veil over her head, she immediately
obeyed the summons.

The Pasha was alone, having ordered his attendants to withdraw.

“How is my Amina, my Morning Star, to-day?” he exclaimed as soon as
Fatimeh entered.

“Praise be to Allah, she is well, and her fingers are employed on a
purse for your Excellency.”

“The blessing of Allah be upon her,” said the Pasha; “she is my heart’s
delight. Inshallah! when I have finished the business now in hand I will
come to her. Tell her that I will sup with her this evening.” He then
proceeded to inform her that he had been appointed by the Viceroy to be
Governor of Siout in Upper Egypt, and that in a few weeks he should take
his departure, with all his family, to his new post. He proceeded to
discuss with her the arrangements which it might be advisable to make
for the conveyance of his daughter and for the other ladies of his
harem.

Meanwhile Hassan, after seeing Shèitan secure in the stable, had
returned to the house and inquired where he might find the Pasha.

“He is upstairs, in the _salamlik_,” said the young Mameluke whom he
addressed. “You will find him in the large room at the end of the
passage on your right; he has dismissed us from attendance, but he has
asked twice for you; better that you make haste; Delì Pasha does not
like to wait.”

Hassan rapidly mounted the stairs, and following the direction he had
received, ran rather than walked along the dimly lighted passage which
led to the Pasha’s room. Just as he reached the end, and was about to
enter, he encountered a woman coming out, and the concussion was such
that she must inevitably have fallen had he not caught her in his arms.
As it was, the shock was such that it displaced her veil, and for a few
seconds she was unable to speak. Hassan saw that she was a middle-aged
woman, who still retained traces of early beauty; it was Fatimeh Khanum
retiring from her interview with the Pasha.

“I hope you are not much hurt, lady,” said he in a tone of respectful
solicitude, and depositing her gently on a stone seat at the side of the
passage.

“Not hurt,” she replied, with difficulty regaining her breath, “but very
much frightened.”

“I cannot forgive myself for being so careless,” he continued; “but I
was in haste to obey the Pasha’s summons. I hope you forgive me; you can
be sure I meant no rudeness to you.”

“I believe it, young Aga,” she replied with a smile, fixing her eyes
involuntarily on the open and animated countenance before her. “I am
recovered now; you had better go in to the Pasha, who is waiting.”

Hassan, after saluting her respectfully, left her and entered the
Pasha’s room.

“You have not been very quick in obeying our summons,” said the latter,
with a slight frown on his brow.

Hassan explained the accident by which he had been detained in the
passage.

“What!” he cried, bursting out into a fit of laughter, “so you nearly
knocked down our poor Kiahia Khanum, did you? I am glad she was not
hurt. She is a good, kind-hearted soul. Now come here, Hassan, and tell
me if you know anything of the postscript added by Mohammed Ali’s order
to the merchant’s letter?”

“Nothing,” replied Hassan. “His Highness gave his orders in a whisper to
the interpreter.”

“Well, it is written in this letter that I am to pay you ten purses
[£50], and I shall order the money to be given to you this evening.”

The Pasha made Hassan give him an account of his interview with the
Viceroy, and of his affray with the Government _kawàss_ on the canal, at
which latter Delì Pasha laughed heartily; he then continued—“Hadji
Ismael speaks so highly of you in his letter, that I propose at once to
offer you the vacant post of _khaznadâr_ in this house. My _khazneh_
[treasury] is not very full, and will not occupy you much, so I shall
expect you to assist in the purchase of horses which I am making for
Ibrahim Pasha.”

Hassan stepped forward, and having placed the edge of the Pasha’s
pelisse to his forehead in token of acknowledgment, retired from the
room.

“I like that young giant,” said Delì Pasha to himself as Hassan
withdrew. “His manners are so quiet and his face so prepossessing; but
there is the devil in his eye when his blood is roused, as I saw this
morning.”

Hassan was no sooner alone than he remembered the letter given him by
his old friend Mohammed Aga, in Alexandria, to Ahmed Aga, Delì Pasha’s
master of the horse, and hearing that he had gone to the stables,
followed and rejoined him. Ahmed Aga, who had been an admiring spectator
of Hassan’s performance with Shèitan, was already prepossessed in his
favour, and when he read the letter which Mohammed Aga’s partiality had
dictated, he welcomed Hassan with great cordiality; and as Ahmed himself
was a man of open, honest countenance and sterling good qualities, they
were disposed to like each other from the very first.

Hassan having communicated to his new friend that he had received the
appointment of _khaznadâr_, the latter exclaimed—

“Mashallah! that is a good beginning; but the post is not so agreeable,
for it brings you into constant collision with Osman Bey, the wakeel,
who has charge of all Delì Pasha’s lands and property. He is a spiteful,
jealous, and dangerous man. I fear he has taken a dislike to you
already.”

“To me!” said Hassan, in surprise. “What can I have done to offend him?”

“You have offended him mortally by riding that horse Shèitan, which he
was unable to mount; and as he is a good horseman, and very proud of his
horsemanship, he is very angry at your having subdued that which he
described this morning to the Pasha as a wild beast, perfectly
untameable.”

“If he is spiteful against me on such grounds as those,” said Hassan,
smiling, “I cannot help myself. I shall do my duty, and not trouble
myself about his spite.”

Ahmed Aga shook his head, as if Osman Bey were not a pleasant subject to
speak upon.

“Come,” he said, “let us go into the house. As _khaznadâr_ you are
entitled to a separate room, a privilege enjoyed by none of the
Mamelukes.”

When Fatimeh Khanum had recovered from the shock occasioned by running
against Hassan in the passage, she pursued her way to the private door
leading to the harem, where she was admitted by the eunuchs on guard.

No sooner had the good lady reached Amina’s apartment than she threw
herself down on a divan in the corner, and the quick eyes of her pupil
discovered that she was labouring under some violent agitation.

“What has happened, my dear Fatimeh?” said Amina, seating herself beside
her governess. “What has agitated you thus?”

Fatimeh related to her pupil her accidental meeting with Hassan in the
passage, and that he was the same youth whom they had seen from the
window riding the wild horse.

“He carried me so gently,” she continued, “to a seat, and he was so kind
in inquiring whether I was hurt, and his manner was so respectful, so
unlike those young Mamelukes, that I could not take my eyes off him, I
felt as if I were bewitched.”

“Oh!” cried Amina, clapping her little hands together; “Fatimeh Khanum,
my wise monitress, has fallen in love with the young stranger.”

“My dear child,” replied Fatimeh, “the love you speak of has been dead
within me for many years and can never be revived; and that which
frightens me so much is, that I cannot account for the agitation into
which I was thrown by his looks and his voice otherwise than by saying
that I must have been bewitched.” And here the good lady began to recite
some verses from the Koran as a charm against the evil eye, and to count
the beads of her rosary.[54] Having performed this counter-charm against
witchery, Fatimeh proceeded to inform her pupil of their change of
residence and departure for Siout, and also of her father’s intention to
sup with her.

“Oh!” cried the light-hearted Amina, “I will prepare him a dish of
_kadaif_[55] with my own hands. He says that no one can make it so well
as I do.” So saying, she bounded away to give the requisite orders to
her slaves.

Meanwhile Hassan, aided by his new friend Ahmed Aga, had found a vacant
room on the second floor, which was appropriated to his use, and his box
and saddle-bags were transported thither. As he might, in his new
capacity of _khaznadâr_, be called upon to take charge of sums of money
belonging to Delì Pasha, he desired that a strong lock might be put on
the door, of which he proposed to keep the key about his person. There
was not much fear of thieves coming in at the window, as the only
aperture for the admission of light or air was in the side-wall of the
house, forty or fifty feet from the ground, and eight or ten feet above
the floor of Hassan’s room. The remainder of the day, with the exception
of a visit made to Shèitan, Hassan spent with Ahmed Aga, who gave him
many useful hints as to the character of his new chief—hasty, impetuous,
and choleric, but warm-hearted, and soon appeased.

The moon was high in the heavens when Hassan retired to his own room,
where he busied himself in arranging his few movables before throwing
himself on his mattress to sleep. While thus occupied, a Turkish song,
with the words of which he was perfectly familiar, caught his ear; the
voice was evidently that of a woman, and it was rich, low, and musical.

Hassan listened like one in a trance to that sweet sound, wafted into
his room, he knew not from whence, by the night breeze. The song
consisted of three stanzas, two of which the songstress completed, and
then her fingers wandered over the strings of a lute, as if to recall
the third to memory. Moved by an impulse which he could not restrain,
Hassan took up the song, and in a low voice sung the concluding stanza.
After this there was a profound silence, broken only by the distant
barking of dogs and braying of donkeys, sounds which never cease day or
night in Cairo, and Hassan fell asleep with the song on his lips.

He was up before sunrise, and went straight to the stables, where he
hoped to find that Shèitan, having been kept all night without barley or
water, might be more disposed to cultivate acquaintance. Such, however,
was not the case; for when he endeavoured to approach with sieve or
bucket, the horse laid back its ears and struggled with the heel-ropes,
endeavouring to kick at him.

“Softly,” said Hassan; “no more violence now, we shall soon be better
friends;” and putting away the corn and the water, he contrived with the
assistance of his groom to saddle and bridle him. Armed with a good
courbatch, he mounted and went out by a back gate, the horse fretting
and plunging, but still evidently recognising his rider of yesterday.

Hassan gave him a good gallop of some ten miles over the desert, and
brought him back much subdued to the stable. “Not a drop of water nor a
grain of barley,” said he to the _sàis_, “until he takes it out of my
hand.” So saying, he walked into the house and went up to his room, his
thoughts ever reverting to the unseen songstress of yesterday evening.
As he went along the passage his eye accidentally fell upon a small
ladder, which appeared to have been lately used for whitewashing the
upper wall and ceiling of the passage. A sudden idea struck him, and
catching up the ladder, he carried it into his room, and after locking
the door, by the help of the ladder he climbed up to the aperture which
served as a window and looked cautiously out.

Opposite him, at a distance of not more than eight or ten yards, he saw
a latticed window, which he at once knew to belong to the harem portion
of the palace, and he guessed that from that window must have come the
strain which he had heard the preceding night. Hiding the ladder, or
rather the steps, under his bed, he went down to attend upon Delì Pasha,
who received him with much kindness, and gave him several commissions
connected with his new appointment. Having executed these, and dined as
on the preceding day with Ahmed, he retired to his room, but not to
sleep, for his imagination still fed upon the soft, musical voice of the
night before, and he hoped that he might hear it again. Nor was he
doomed to disappointment, for about two hours after sunset his ear again
caught the same voice, singing, perhaps, in a lower tone and a different
air.

Gently placing his steps against the wall below the aperture, he
mounted, and found that the sound proceeded from the latticed window
opposite. The moon shone full upon it, though he was in the shade. He
fancied that through the little diamond-shaped apertures in the lattice
he could distinguish a woman’s figure behind it. Holding his breath, he
remained for some time on the watch, when the fair songstress, having
finished her lay, threw open the lattice to look out for a few minutes
at the moonlit scene.

Hassan gazed at the lovely apparition as if under a fascination. Her
gorgeous black hair was falling in clusters over her neck and shoulders,
veiling at the same time half of the arm on which she rested her rounded
velvet cheek. Sometimes her large lustrous eyes were raised to the moon,
and then they dropped under the shadows of their long dark fringes.

“My dream—my destiny,” murmured Hassan to himself, “there she is—she of
whom I have dreamt—she whom I have adored from my earliest youth—her
picture has been long in my heart, but my eyes never saw it till now!”
In his excitement and agitation he sprang to the ground, and throwing
himself on his bed, gave vent to all the impetuous and long-suppressed
impulses of his romantic passion. He had not remained there many minutes
ere the Turkish song of the preceding evening reached his ear, and the
fair songstress paused at the conclusion of the second stanza. Moved by
an impulse that he could not resist, Hassan caught up the air, and sang
to it, with a voice trembling with agitation, the following lines:—

    “Thy name is unknown, yet thy image is in my heart;
     Thine eyes have pierced me, and if thou show not mercy, I die.”

Again he crept softly up the steps and looked out; but the lattice was
closed, and the fair vision had disappeared.

On the following morning Hassan was afoot before sunrise, and in walking
across the space between the house and the stable he turned round in
hopes of discovering the latticed window opposite to his own room. On
carrying his eye along the wall that separated the outer palace from the
harem, he easily recognised the window that he sought, in the upper
storey of the harem, which faced the quarter of the house where his own
room was situated, and being at the corner of the building, commanded a
view of the space where he was walking, which was the Meidàn, where the
Mamelukes and followers of the Pasha played at the jereed, and other
equestrian sports in vogue at the time.

His thoughts still bent upon the lovely vision of the preceding night,
he reached the stable, and on his approaching and speaking to Shèitan,
the horse turned round and looked at him, seemingly more desirous of
receiving something from him than of kicking or biting him. “So,” said
Hassan, smiling, “we shall be friends after all!” The half-pail of water
that he carried up to the horse’s head was swallowed, and Shèitan no
longer disdained to eat the barley out of his hands. Allowing the horse
only a few handfuls, Hassan gave him another canter over the desert,
stopping every now and then to coax and caress him. After his return he
gave Shèitan his full meal of barley, and from that day they grew more
and more intimate, until at the end of a week the formerly vicious horse
was as gentle as a lamb, and followed him like a dog.

During the first days of his stay he was chiefly employed in examining
the accounts of his predecessor, in which he received great assistance
from his friend Ahmed Aga; but the task was far from being easy, as the
Pasha was very thoughtless and extravagant in all that regarded money,
and the preceding _khaznadâr_ had thought it his duty to follow his
chief’s example.

Hassan had also formed the acquaintance of the chief eunuch of the
harem—a venerable-looking negro, with a beard as white as snow—and the
old man took pleasure in relating to so enthusiastic and intelligent a
listener some of the stirring and tragical scenes that he had witnessed
in the days of the Mameluke beys and the French invasion, at which
period he had been in the service of the famous Ibrahim Elfi Bey. Hassan
had another motive in cultivating the acquaintance of Mansour Aga; for,
as the old man seemed to know something of the history of every
influential family in Egypt, he hoped through him to find some clue to
his own parentage.

Every evening Hassan crept softly up to the aperture in the wall of his
room; but the lattice was lost in the shade, owing to the change in the
position of the moon. Nevertheless, though he could see nothing, he
remained for a long time with his eyes fixed upon the lattice, as if the
insensible wood could feel or return his gaze.

Lovers are never very good calculators, and thus Hassan forgot that the
same change in the position of the moon which had thrown the latticed
window into the shade, had also thrown her beams full upon his own face,
and that the tenant of the opposite room could now, while perfectly
concealed herself, trace every emotion that passed over his countenance.

The lovely songstress, behind her latticed shield, gazed in silence,
night after night, on what was in her eyes the noblest face they had
ever beheld; and when his longing and ardent gaze seemed to him to be
arrested by that envious lattice, it fell in reality on the lustrous
orbs and blushing cheeks of the lovely girl within, who, although
concealed, trembled at her own audacity, and at the new emotions that
agitated her. Having waited for some time in the vain hope of seeing a
symptom of movement in the lattice, Hassan descended to his room, having
sung before he left the following verse in a low voice:—

         “Oh, sleep! fall like dew on that rosebud’s eyelids;
 Let her know in her dreams that Hassan’s heart is burnt with her love.”

On the following day Hassan had gone into the city on business intrusted
to him by the Pasha, and on his return had just entered that part of the
Frank quarter now called the Esbekiah when his attention was attracted
to a tumultuous noise, occasioned apparently by some drunken
Bashi-Bazouks.[56] He was about to pass on, when he heard his own name
called aloud by a voice which he easily recognised as that of Mansour
the eunuch, “Help, Hassan! help!—they will murder me!”

Snatching a heavy club from the hands of one of the fellahs standing by,
Hassan rushed into the fray, and arrived just as one of the
Bashi-Bazouks was dragging poor old Mansour off his mule by his snowy
beard. A blow from Hassan’s staff on the fellow’s shoulder made him let
go his hold, and his arm dropped powerless by his side. His two
companions (for the Bashi-Bazouks were three in number) now turned upon
Hassan, and one of them, drawing a pistol from his belt, fired it as he
advanced; fortunately for our hero, the ruffian’s aim was unsteady, and
the ball, passing through his sleeve, lodged in the shoulder of a boy
who was an accidental spectator of the fray. The two then drew their
swords and rushed upon him together, but the clumsy drunkards were no
match for the steady eye and powerful arm of Hassan. Parrying their
ill-directed thrusts, he struck first one and then the other over the
head with the full weight of his club, and the contest was over; they
both lay helpless on the ground.

Hassan then assisted the terrified eunuch to remount his mule, and the
crowd was beginning to disperse when the _wali_ (or police magistrate),
who happened to be passing by, rode up and inquired into the cause of
the disturbance.

It was soon explained by Mansour that the Bashi-Bazouks had been the
aggressors, and therefore the _wali_ ordered them to be conveyed to
their quarters and delivered to their own officers. He then pursued his
way, as did Mansour, after cordially thanking Hassan for his timely
assistance.

Hassan was just returning to the spot where he had left his horse under
the care of the _sàis_, when his eye fell upon the unfortunate boy whose
shoulder had received the pistol-ball aimed at himself. On approaching
to see whether he were seriously hurt, Hassan saw that he looked faint
from exhaustion, and that his vest was stained with blood. Drawing near
to examine the wound, he inquired whether he felt much pain; the poor
boy, whose countenance was prepossessing and intelligent, answered only
with a faint murmur, pointing at the same time to his mouth.

“The ball cannot have wounded you both in the shoulder and the mouth,”
said Hassan. The sufferer shook his head, and again pointed to his
mouth. Then Hassan understood that he was dumb.

“Poor child!” said Hassan compassionately; “I have been the cause of thy
wound. I cannot leave thee here to suffer—perhaps to die. Where is thy
home?”

A melancholy shake of the head was the only answer.

“Hast no parents?” Again the same reply.

Tearing a piece of linen off the edge of his shirt, Hassan stanched with
it the blood still flowing from the boy’s shoulder, and binding a
handkerchief over the wound, he lifted the sufferer gently in his arms;
then placing him on his horse, and having desired the groom to go
immediately for the Italian surgeon who attended Delì Pasha’s family, he
walked slowly home, supporting the wounded boy on the saddle.

Mansour, the eunuch, after being so opportunely rescued by Hassan,
pursued his way to Delì Pasha’s harem, and went up to give to the Lady
Amina an account of the commission which he had been executing for her
in Cairo.

After he had produced the gold thread which he had purchased for the
completion of the purse which Amina was working for her father, the
young lady remarked in his countenance the traces of recent agitation,
and inquired the cause. The old man proceeded to relate to her his
adventure with the Bashi-Bazouks and his timely rescue by Hassan. In
speaking of the latter he launched forth into the highest praises of his
courage and prowess, as well as the kindness of his nature and
disposition.

Had the room not been darkened by curtains, and the old man’s eyesight
not been somewhat dimmed by age, he could not have failed to notice the
tell-tale blood rush to the cheeks and temples of Amina as she heard
these encomiums on one whom she knew to be the same whom she had seen
from her lattice, and whose voice had taken up her song; nor could she
doubt from the expression which he had used, and from the deep and
earnest gaze which he had fixed upon her lattice, that she was herself
the object of his romantic attachment.

Repressing her emotions with a slyness which is one of the earliest
lessons that Love teaches to his votaries, she asked Mansour, in a tone
of seeming indifference, who this new follower of her father’s might be,
and what his rank and parentage.

To these inquiries Mansour was unable to give her any satisfactory
answer. He had heard that some mystery hung over Hassan’s birth, and all
that he knew was that his form was a model of strength and activity,
that as a horseman he was unequalled, that from his good-humour and
obliging disposition he was already a great favourite in the house, and
that Delì Pasha entertained so high an opinion of him as to give him the
appointment of _khaznadâr_.

Little did the old eunuch think that every word which he uttered was
adding fuel to the fire already kindled, and that while Amina sat with
downcast eyes and fingers busily employed on her purse, her ear was
drinking in every word that he uttered in praise of Hassan, and her
little heart was beating with throbs so violent that she feared Mansour
must hear them. Her secret was, however, safe for the present, and the
eunuch, changing the conversation, said—

“Have you heard that on the day after to-morrow there is to be a grand
match at the jereed in the courtyard? The Kiahia Pasha is coming with
some of his _golams_, and they will take a part in the game.”

“No,” replied Amina; “I had not yet heard of it. Are you sure if the
match is to be the day after to-morrow?”

“Yes; I was told so as I came in by Ahmed the _mirakhor_. I hope that
some of those brought by the Kiahia will be strong and skilful, so as to
make head against that tyrannical, ill-natured Osman Bey, our Pasha’s
wakeel. Here we have no one who can contend with him. I dislike him,”
added the old eunuch, “but, to say the truth, I have not seen his match
at the jereed.”

“Will not the young stranger whom you spoke of?” said Amina, hesitating
to mention the name.

“Hassan?” said Mansour.

“Yes, Hassan; will not he play at the jereed, and may he not be a match
for Osman?”

“I doubt it,” replied Mansour, shaking his head; “notwithstanding his
strength, activity, and horsemanship, he is but a youth, and he can
scarcely have had opportunity for acquiring the skill and experience
requisite for complete proficiency in this game.”

While this conversation was passing, Hassan had brought the wounded boy
to the house, where he had carried him gently upstairs and deposited him
on his own bed. Shortly afterwards the surgeon arrived, and having
examined the wound, he found, to Hassan’s great satisfaction, that the
ball had passed clean through the fleshy part of the arm, just below the
shoulder, without injuring any bone or ligament, and the patient was
only suffering from loss of blood.

Having dressed the wound, he said, “Let him have rest and light
wholesome food; in a few days he will be well.” The doctor then took his
leave, and Hassan, by the assistance of his friend Ahmed Aga, found a
small empty room, not far from his own, in which he placed a bed, and
having conveyed thither his patient, went to find some refreshing
draught, for which he stood much in need. In a few minutes he returned
with a cool lemonade, and having drunk it, the dumb boy looked up in his
face with tears of gratitude in his eyes.

Hassan was desirous of ascertaining something of the history of his
helpless companion, who began to converse with him by rapid movements of
his slight and delicate fingers. This, however, being a sealed alphabet
to our hero, he shook his head in token that he did not understand a
syllable. The boy then began with his right (his unwounded hand) to
imitate writing with a pen on paper.

“You can read and write, can you?” said Hassan. The boy nodded his head.
Hassan then went down to his office below, and soon returned, bringing
with him an inkstand, a reed, and some paper. The result of the written
conversation was that Hassan learned that the boy’s name was Murad; that
he was an orphan, ignorant of his parentage; that as a child he had been
in the house of a captain of Bashi-Bazouks, who one day, in a fit of
drunken fury, had cut off more than half of the poor child’s tongue
owing to some hasty word that had escaped him; that having been kicked
out of the captain’s house, he had been kindly treated by one of the
mollahs attached to the Mosque El-Azhar,[57] where he had remained for
several years learning to read and write, fed from the funds of the
institution; and that for the last two years he had picked up a
precarious subsistence by carrying letters and parcels all over the
town. He ended his artless tale by saying that everybody in Cairo knew
him, and he knew everybody.

While this conversation in writing was passing, Hassan received a
summons from Delì Pasha, whom he found in his _salamlik_ on the first
floor.

“Hassan,” said the Pasha, “there are thirty horses just arrived, sent by
an agent in my employ, for the service of a cavalry regiment which the
Viceroy has ordered to be raised for Upper Egypt. I wish you to examine
and try them, and cast any that you think unfit for the work. When you
have seen them, bring me your report.”

Hassan replied, “Upon my head be it,” and was leaving the room when Delì
Pasha called him back and asked him for an account of what had happened
between his chief eunuch and the Bashi-Bazouks, a rumour of which had
already reached him. Hassan recounted briefly, passing over his own
services as lightly as possible, and concluded by mentioning the hurt of
poor little Murad, and of his being now under the Pasha’s roof.

“Poor child!” said Delì Pasha, “I have heard something of his history.
After the massacre of the Mameluke beys he was found in a house that
belonged to one of them, and afterwards fell into the hands of one of
those Albanian savages, who cut out his tongue. I have often seen the
little boy in the streets, and I pity him much. You may keep him and
take care of him as long as you please, and while he remains I will give
orders that he has his regular allowance sent from the kitchen.”

Hassan thanked the Pasha for his kindness, and was about to leave the
room when he was again called back by his chief, who said—

“In describing your interference to rescue old Mansour, you made little
mention of yourself; but it seems clear that you must have knocked down
three of these fellows with the _nabout_. Did you hit them very hard—do
you think any of them are killed?”

“I think not,” said Hassan quietly. As one had fired a pistol, and the
two others used their swords, I was obliged in self-defence to strike
rather quick and hard; but I did not use all my strength, nor endeavour
to do more than prevent them from doing further mischief at the time.
The rascals have thick skulls, which will stand many a tap from a club
before they break.”

“Well, Inshallah! may you not have killed any of them,” said the Pasha;
“for they are a revengeful race, and would never rest till they had your
blood by fair means or foul. When you go out, keep a sharp eye upon any
stray parties of them whom you may meet.”

Hassan thanked the Pasha for his advice, and spent the remainder of the
day in trying and examining the horses sent for approval, twenty-five of
which he retained and cast the remainder. On the following morning he
went out before sunrise to the horse-market and selected five, which
completed the number required: they were forthwith sent on to the
appointed depot, and Hassan was ordered to write to Ibrahim Pasha’s
agent to inquire whether any more were to be provided. When he brought
this letter to his chief to be sealed the latter abruptly asked him—

“Have you ever played the jereed?”

“Often,” replied Hassan; “we had a game somewhat similar when I was a
boy among the Bedouins, and afterwards I practised it now and then among
the Mamelukes of some of the beys and pashas in Alexandria.”

“I am glad of that,” said Delì Pasha; “to-morrow, Inshallah! there is to
be a match in our courtyard, and Kiahia Pasha is coming with some of his
Mamelukes. I have given it up myself,” he added with a sigh, “but I love
to look at it still.”

Hassan spent the greater part of the afternoon with his little patient,
conversing by notes which they handed one to the other. This, however,
was too slow a process to satisfy the quick and intelligent boy, who
proposed to teach his protector the alphabet which he had either learnt
or invented with his fingers. Hassan assented, and studied his lesson
with so much assiduity that after a short time, to the great delight of
little Murad, they were able to converse together without the aid of pen
and paper.

On the following morning all the house was astir early, making
preparations for the jereed-playing and for the reception of the Kiahia
Pasha, who had written to ask whether he might bring with him some
English visitors, recommended to him by the Viceroy, and who were
anxious to see the Oriental tournament. To this Delì Pasha had replied
by a hospitable affirmative; and while refreshments, flowers, and
sherbets were heaped upon a table in the large saloon, carpets and sofas
were spread along the verandah which ran along the whole back part of
the house, overlooking the large arena where the games were to take
place.

At the appointed hour the Kiahia arrived in great state on horseback,
with a gay and numerous retinue, for there was only one _carriage_ in
Cairo—that belonging to the Viceroy. Immediately following them came the
whole party of the Thorpes, the strangers in whose favour the Kiahia had
asked for an invitation.

Delì Pasha welcomed them with his accustomed frank hospitality, and
Hassan, who was in attendance on him, received and returned the friendly
salutations of all the party. Demetri’s talents were now called into
exercise, and as he had not the piercing eye of the Viceroy fixed upon
him, he ornamented the phrases he was called upon to translate with all
manner of Oriental tropes and figures. Hassan detected his additions and
embellishments, but he only smiled and made no comment on them.

After the usual ceremony of pipes and coffee had been duly observed,
Delì Pasha led his guests to the verandah, placing the Kiahia in the
centre, in the seat of honour, and left the others to arrange their
seats according to their own fancy and convenience.

“Let the games begin,” shouted Delì Pasha to Ahmed Aga, his _mirakhor_,
and in a moment all was hurry and confusion in the space below. The
Mamelukes of the Kiahia Pasha first entered the arena, well mounted and
superbly dressed; after them poured in those of Delì Pasha, most of them
wild youths, but admirable horsemen, and well skilled in the games about
to be played.

Immediately in front of the verandah was a thick post or column of wood,
on the top of which was placed a human head cut out of wood, not unlike
those on which European barbers model wigs. The first exercise for the
horsemen was to ride past this head at full speed and carry it off with
the point of the lance. Just as the games were about to commence, Delì
Pasha noticed that Hassan was standing in an attitude of abstraction a
few yards off, at the back of the verandah.

“Why, Hassan, are you not going to play?” said the Pasha
good-humouredly; “I thought you had said you were fond of the exercise.”

“If your Excellency has no need of my service here,” replied Hassan, “I
will join the game.”

“Go, my lad,” said the Pasha; “but do not ride that ungovernable
Shèitan, or his mad freaks will get you into trouble.”

“Shèitan is quiet and well-behaved now,” replied Hassan; “your
Excellency will see that he is not bad at the jereed.”

The game began, and the Mamelukes galloped in succession at the wooden
head with their long spears, some carrying it off, and the greater
number missing it; and while they were thus employed Hassan entered the
arena from the stable entrance mounted on Shèitan. Whether it was that
the latter had been left unexercised the preceding day, or that he was
excited by the crowd and the galloping and neighing of strange horses,
certain it is that his behaviour seemed much more to justify Delì
Pasha’s caution than Hassan’s good report. He reared, he plunged, he
shook his long mane, and every now and then he bounded into the air as
if maddened by anger or excitement. Hassan sat easy and unconcerned, and
his usual good-natured smile played over his lips as he patted the
horse’s neck and said—

“Shèitan, you are playful this morning.”

“Mashallah! what a noble horseman is that Mameluke of yours!” exclaimed
the Kiahia, addressing Delì Pasha; “where is he from?”

“He is not a Mameluke,” replied Delì Pasha; “he is my _khaznadâr_,
lately arrived. He was brought up among the Bedouins; in a room he is as
quiet and still as a cat, but on a horse he is as mad as the animal he
is now riding,” and as he spoke he shouted aloud to Hassan to come under
the verandah.

In a second Hassan’s stirrup touched the flank of Shèitan, who bounded
into the air, and then came at full speed to within a few yards of the
house, when he stopped dead short, while Hassan looked up to inquire the
orders of his chief.

“Hassan,” said Delì Pasha, “I told you that it would be impossible for
you to play at these games on the back of that wild, unruly beast; had
you not better change it for one more manageable? You may ride one of
mine if you will.”

“Bakkalum [we shall see], my lord,” was Hassan’s only reply, and
wheeling his horse, he charged in full career at the head on the post.
Lowering his lance as he approached, he struck the head so full in the
centre that the point of the lance entered several inches into the wood,
and there it remained, while Hassan, galloping round the arena, came
again under the verandah, and, holding up his lance, presented the head,
still fixed on it, to Delì Pasha.

“Aferin! [bravo! bravo!] my son!” said the old Pasha, and it was echoed
by many a surrounding voice.

The post was now taken away, and the lists were prepared for the jereed.
The Mamelukes divided themselves into parties preparatory to the mimic
fight, which was indeed nothing more than a succession of single
combats. In the centre of the arena were a score of active _sàises_, or
grooms on foot, whose duty it was to pick up the jereeds as they fell
and hand them to the mounted combatants.

At this moment Osman Bey, Delì Pasha’s wakeel, who thought the preceding
game beneath his dignity, entered the arena, followed by several of his
Mamelukes. He was dressed in a rich costume which was well calculated to
show off the proportions of his strong and muscular figure, and mounted
on a grey Arab, which for the first two years of its life had been fed
on camels’ milk in the deserts of the Nejd, and though not remarkable
for size, was compactly and beautifully proportioned. Osman Aga was a
practised horseman—firm in the saddle, strong in the arm, and proud of
the reputation that he had gained in the mimic combats of the jereed.
With a grave salute to the Kiahia and Delì Pasha, he took his place at
the centre of one side of the arena, and the game began.

While Osman Bey and the elder Mamelukes engaged each other in a
succession of these trials of skill and speed, Hassan hovered on the
outskirts of the combatants, at some distance from the house, apparently
engaged in repelling the attacks of half-a-dozen of the youngest of the
Mamelukes of Delì Pasha’s household. He was a general favourite with
these lads, for whom he had on all occasions a kind word and a
good-humoured smile, and the merry youngsters well knew that however
they might pursue and torment him with their jereeds, they had no reason
to fear his putting out his strength to injure them in repelling their
attacks. Thus one would call out to him, “Hassan! Hassan!” and charge
him at full speed on the right; and scarcely had he time to catch or
avoid the jereed ere another attacked him with similar shouts on the
left. Some of them struck him more than one smart blow on the shoulder
with a jereed, and they shouted and laughed, while Hassan joined in
their merriment.

But it was not only to play with these merry youths that Hassan had
withdrawn to a part of the ground at some distance from the place where
the older combatants were engaged. His quick eye, which ever and anon
roved to a certain lattice high up in the adjoining building, had
detected that it was partially opened, and revealed to him half of the
lovely face ever in his thoughts peeping out upon the arena; he believed
that those eyes followed his movements, and he availed himself of every
opportunity, when he could do so unnoticed, to cast an upward glance to
meet them. But he was not destined to remain long without more serious
employment, for several of the older and more experienced of the
combatants in turn challenged him, by shouting his name and charging him
at full speed. The first was his friend Ahmed Aga, whose jereed passed
close over his back without touching him.

Hassan pursued him in turn, and, pretending to use much force, struck
him lightly on the shoulder; next he was charged by the chief of the
Kiahia Pasha’s Mamelukes—a very handsome Georgian, and the only one who
had this day interchanged several bouts with Osman Bey with nearly equal
success.

Hassan prepared for this encounter with more caution. On the charge of
his opponent he fled (as is the custom of the game) at full speed,
looking back over his shoulder. The Georgian threw his jereed with
faultless aim, when Hassan, instead of avoiding, caught it in the air,
and, wheeling suddenly, pursued the Georgian, and struck him on the back
with his own jereed. This feat, which is one of the most difficult of
those practised in the game, elicited a loud “Aferin!” from Delì Pasha.

Osman Bey no sooner heard it than, fired by spite and jealousy, he shook
his jereed in the air, shouted the name of Hassan, and bore down upon
him at the full speed of his high-mettled Arab. Hassan had barely time
to avoid the charge by wheeling Shèitan and striking the spurs into his
flanks. Still over his shoulder he watched every movement of his
pursuer. At length the Bey’s jereed sped through the air with unerring
aim; every one thought that Hassan was fairly hit, but he had thrown
himself suddenly over the right side of his horse, hanging only by the
left leg on the saddle, and the jereed passed harmlessly over him.
Recovering himself instantaneously, he now pursued in turn, and his
jereed struck Osman Bey fairly on the shoulder. The bout being over,
Hassan was cantering leisurely away, when the Bey, goaded to madness at
having been defeated by one whom he considered a boy, galloped again
after him, and hurled a jereed with all his force at Hassan’s head.

Hassan, hearing a horse approaching at full speed from behind, had just
turned his head to see what it might be, when the jereed flew past him.
The movement had saved him from a serious blow, but the stick grazed the
edge of his cheek and drew blood as it passed. A loud shout broke from
Delì Pasha, “Foul, foul! shame, shame!”[58]

All the fire that slumbered in Hassan’s impetuous nature was kindled by
this cowardly outrage. Forgetting the rank of his opponent, and every
other consideration but revenging the blow he had received, he snatched
a jereed from the hand of a _sàis_ standing by. Striking his sharp spurs
into the flanks of Shèitan, he pursued his adversary with such terrific
speed that even the grey Arab could not carry its rider out of his
reach. Rising in his stirrups, he threw the jereed with all his force,
and it struck the Bey full in the back, just between the
shoulder-blades. The blow sounded over the whole arena, and having taken
effect just in that part of the back which is nearest to the action of
the lungs, the unfortunate Bey’s breath was for the time totally
suspended. He seemed paralysed, and after swaying backwards and forwards
for a few seconds in the saddle, fell heavily to the ground. Had not his
docile Arab stopped immediately beside him, his hurts would probably
have been much more serious.

After a few minutes, during which water was thrown in the Bey’s face by
his Mamelukes, he recovered the power of speech; but he was still faint
and weak, and after casting on Hassan a look of concentrated,
inextinguishable hate, he withdrew, supported by his servants, from the
ground. This accident occurring to a man of such high rank, and
universally feared, broke up the sports for the day.

“I am sorry for it,” said Delì Pasha, addressing Mr Thorpe; “but Hassan
was perfectly justified, and Osman Bey only got what he deserved.”

The spectators and combatants were gathered into little knots and
groups, all uttering similar sentiments, and some adding, “This is an
unlucky thing for Hassan—Osman Bey never forgives—’tis a brave youth,
but the cup of coffee or the dagger will be his fate.”[59]

After the breaking up of the games, Hassan, having given over Shèitan to
the groom to be taken to the stable, before he re-entered the house cast
a furtive glance upward at the well-known lattice in the harem. This
time he could not be mistaken—a white forehead and dark lustrous eyes
were certainly visible at the curtained aperture, but they were hastily
and timidly withdrawn when they encountered his eager glance.

“’Tis she—’tis the star of my destiny—the life-blood of my heart,” said
Hassan to himself, “whoever and whatever she may be. Well! she has this
day seen that, humble and unknown as I am, the proudest bey in Egypt
shall not insult me with impunity.” And he strode into the house so
completely occupied with dreams of the future that he nearly ran against
Ahmed Aga, who was coming to tell him that the Pasha had sent for him.
On reaching the upper room where they were assembled, the Kiahia Pasha
paid him so many compliments on his uncontested superiority over all his
competitors that Hassan looked quite confused; indeed, he had been so
much taken up with other thoughts that he had not been aware, until Delì
Pasha called his attention to the fact, that the blood was still
trickling from the wound he had received in his cheek.

“It is nothing,” said Hassan, smiling, and applying his handkerchief
carelessly to it. “I hope Osman Bey’s back will suffer as little.”

“Hassan,” said Delì Pasha, addressing our hero, “the Kiahia informs me
that in the course of a day or two our English guests are going to pay a
visit to the Pyramids, and that he sends with them a guard of fifty
horsemen. They have expressed a desire that you should join their party,
as you are already old acquaintances. If you wish to do so, you have my
full permission.”

Hassan accepted the invitation readily, for, notwithstanding the
latticed window, from which it was difficult to tear himself away, he
had an undefined longing to visit a spot connected with his earliest
years and the mystery of his birth.

After the departure of the Kiahia and the Thorpe party, Delì Pasha
detained Hassan alone and said to him—

“This is a bad business, Hassan; Osman Bey is now your enemy, and he is
a dangerous man. I will tell you something of his life. Years ago, when
he was in charge of some money to pay the troops, Mohammed Ali
discovered that he had appropriated a portion of it to his own use, and
forthwith caused him to be severely beaten and thrown into prison; after
his release he accompanied Ibrahim Pasha to the war against the
Wahabees, where he gained a high reputation—for, to give him his due, he
is a good soldier—and regained his Highness’s favour. Since then
Mohammed Ali, whose habit is to raise up those whom he has
disgraced,[60] has made him a bey, and treated him with much regard. Now
he is named to be my wakeel or vice-governor at Siout, and as I know him
to be a cruel and revengeful man, I fear he will find some opportunity
of doing you an injury.”

“I fear him not,” said Hassan boldly. “I have nothing to do with him; I
serve your Excellency, and if he seeks a quarrel with me, let him do so;
I am ready.”

“He will not seek a quarrel with you,” said Delì Pasha, smiling at
Hassan’s simplicity. “Have you heard of calumny and slander? Have you
heard of poison in a cup of coffee? Have you heard of stabbing in the
dark? These are the weapons that great men in Egypt use when they wish
to get rid of one whom they hate.”

“I fear him not,” repeated Hassan with the same frank boldness. “My life
is in the hand of Allah, and neither Osman Bey nor any other man can
take it until the predestined day arrives. Let him try his treacherous
schemes if he will, he may perhaps learn the truth of our Arabic
proverb, ‘He dug a pit for his neighbour, and he fell into it himself.’”

While this conversation was going on between Delì Pasha and Hassan,
Amina was sitting in her upper room, to which her slaves had just
brought up a tray covered with sweetmeats and fruits. Mansour, the old
eunuch, followed, bearing a cool sherbet of pomegranate. The younger
slaves being ordered to retire, there remained only with Amina, Mansour
and her governess, Fatimeh Khanum, both of whom had witnessed the jereed
play—the eunuch from the front building, and the elder lady from another
window in the harem, for Amina had not made the latter the confidant of
her secret visits to the lattice in the boudoir. With well-assumed
indifference Amina asked Fatimeh Khanum and Mansour to relate all the
particulars of the games, which she had followed with an eye a thousand
times more eager than theirs.

Hassan was a great favourite with them both, and as they expatiated on
his noble figure, his grace and skill in the use of the jereed, and his
unequalled horsemanship, Amina’s blushes mantled on her cheeks and
overspread her neck. Not satisfied with hearing the praises of Hassan
from the lips of her attendants, she wished to hear them also from those
of her father, and after Mansour had retired to the other wing of the
harem, she said to Fatimeh Khanum—

“Fatimeh, I have a great desire to see my father this evening, and to
hear from him all about those Franks who were his visitors to-day. Go to
him and ask him if he will take supper with his little Amina. I will
have prepared for him all the dishes that he best likes.”

Fatimeh, who could never refuse anything to her beloved pupil, and who,
from her mature age and position in the harem, was always permitted by
the Pasha to come to him in his outer apartments through the private
door of communication whenever she had any message from his daughter,
willingly undertook this commission. After passing the eunuchs at the
curtained door, she proceeded along the narrow passage which led towards
the room usually occupied by Delì Pasha, but before reaching it she had
to pass through an anteroom, in which, to her surprise, she found Hassan
walking up and down alone. She was about to withdraw, when he came
forward and said to her, “Lady, do not retire on my account. You were
going to seek our Pasha; he will soon be disengaged. A visitor, a Bey
whose name I did not hear, has just called, and has something for the
Pasha’s private ear. His Highness ordered all the other attendants into
the outer hall, and told me to remain here.”

Fatimeh Khanum knew that she ought to retire, but there was something in
Hassan’s voice and appearance which detained her in spite of herself.
“Am I mad? Am I under sorcery? What is there that draws me to this youth
by unknown cords?”

Such were the thoughts which followed each other through Fatimeh’s
troubled brain, when her eye happened to fall upon Hassan’s wounded
cheek, on which a patch of blood was visible. A woman’s instincts
impelled her at once to exclaim—

“Allah! Allah! you are wounded. Why has no one stopped or washed away
the blood?” And without waiting for his permission, she caught up one of
the porous jugs of water found in almost every Egyptian room and drew
near to Hassan.

“It is nothing, my aunt,” said Hassan, calling her by the name of
affectionate respect given by the Arabs to elderly ladies; “but I will
submit to your kind surgery.”

While she was gently washing off the blood, and afterwards binding up
the wound with a fine Turkish handkerchief, a sudden idea seemed to
strike Hassan, and scarcely had she completed her simple dressing of his
wound than he seized her hand, saying, “Thank you; may Allah prolong
your life! I see you have a heart. Have pity on me.”

“What is it, my son?” said Fatimeh in surprise. “Wherein can I serve
you?”

“Oh, my aunt, my heart is on fire with love—my liver is roasted[61]—and
if you do not find some remedy I shall die.”

“My son,” said Fatimeh compassionately, though unable to repress a
smile, “the complaint is not uncommon at your age; but how can I assist
you? What is the name of your love, and who is she?”

“I know not her name, nor who she is,” replied Hassan passionately; “but
you must know her, for she dwells in the harem with you.”

“In the harem!” said Fatimeh, surprised. “There are doubtless some fair
maidens in our Pasha’s harem, but how can you have seen them?”

“Ask me not how,” said Hassan, who would not disclose the secret of the
lattice and of the aperture near the roof; “but I have seen her, and she
is lovely as a Houri of Paradise.”

“It is strange,” said Fatimeh, musing; “but do not despair. Our Pasha
has already married more than one of his favourite Mamelukes to fair
maidens from his harem, and if you serve him faithfully you may yet
realise your hopes.”

“Inshallah! Inshallah!” replied Hassan; “yet, Khanum, I would like to
know her name, that I might whisper it to my heart and in my prayers.”

“Agaib!” (wonderful!) said the Khanum, still in a musing tone. “Can it
be Zeinab, the Circassian, who came last year from Stamboul?—she is
small, with dark-brown hair and deep blue eyes.”

“No, no, it is not she,” said Hassan impatiently.

The Khanum then proceeded to name one or two others, giving a slight
sketch of their features and appearance. But the same “No, no” broke
from the impatient Hassan. She was sorely puzzled; for supposing that
Hassan had by some accident caught a glimpse of one of the young slaves
while attending the Pasha’s wives to the bath or to some visit, the idea
of her young mistress, who had not once left the harem since Hassan’s
arrival, never entered her head.

“I fear, Hassan, that I cannot help you. Methinks you must have seen
some stranger coming to visit at our harem, for I have named all those
who are young and attractive within our walls. Cannot you describe her
in such a way as to assist my conjecture?”

“Describe her!” said Hassan, lowering his voice to a tremulous whisper.
“Every feature, every look, every hair of her head is written in my
heart!” He then proceeded to describe the features, the eyes, the looks,
the complexion, the hair, with such accurate fidelity that Fatimeh,
fairly thrown off her guard, exclaimed—

“Allah! Allah! it is Amina Khanum, our Pasha’s daughter!”

“Amina!” cried Hassan. “Thrice blessed name,[62] henceforth thou art the
locked treasure of my breast. I thank thee, Khanum, for giving me the
beloved name to think of by day and to dream of by night.”

“Are you mad?” said the Khanum, wringing her hands in agitation and
distress. “Do you remember your own position, and who the Lady Amina is?
Do you know that the highest and proudest in the land have sued for her
hand in vain?”

“I know,” said Hassan with deep feeling. “I know who I am—that I am a
poor unknown orphan, without name, without fortune. It is the love that
I bear to Amina, not the thought that she is a pasha’s daughter, which
prompts me to bow my head and kiss the dust on which she treads. Were
she a slave-girl in the harem my worship of her would be still the same.
It is herself, her own pure image—not her station or her jewels—that I
treasure in my heart of hearts. You say that her hand has been sought by
the great and the rich. What are they,” he added, drawing himself
proudly up, “that I may not become? Pashas and beys, forsooth—what were
they at my age?—‘Mamelukes,’ ‘pipe-bearers,’ and so forth. What was
Mohammed Ali at twenty? Let the proudest and the best of them stand
forth before me with sword and lance and prove who best deserves her.
Will they climb for her as I would to the highest summits of the
Kaf?[63] Will they dive for her as I would to the lowest depths of
ocean? Will they live for her, toil for her, bleed for her, die for her,
as I would? My kind aunt,” he added in a low and pleading tone, “have
pity on me, speak to Amina for me; tell her that Hassan’s heart is in
her hand, and that it is only for her that he lives and breathes.”

“Alas! alas!” said the kind-hearted Khanum, moved by the young man’s
earnest passion. “What misfortune has befallen? There is no refuge but
in God, the compassionate. I pity you, Hassan, with all my heart; but
you know that I dare not speak to Amina on such a subject. I am the
guardian and protector of her youth, and I can name to her no suitor who
does not appear with her father’s sanction. Surely she can have no
knowledge or thought of this insane passion?” she added in a tone of
inquiry.

“I know not,” replied Hassan confusedly. “It seems to me that she has
been in my heart and in my dreams from my earliest youth; her image is
interwoven with my being, with my destiny; it floats in the very air I
breathe, impregnating it with sweetness and with life. I know not
‘whether the zephyrs and the spirit of dreams have wafted the odour of
my vows to the pillow on which the roses of her cheek repose.’”[64]

The Khanum was about to reply when the sound of approaching footsteps
was heard, and a servant entered to inform Hassan that the Pasha’s
visitor had departed and that his attendance was required.

“Khanum,” said Hassan, who had by a strong effort recovered his
composure, “if you have business with the Pasha, I pray you enter first;
I can await his Excellency’s pleasure.”

Poor Fatimeh, though scarcely able to control the agitation into which
the events of the last few minutes had thrown her, adopted the
suggestion of Hassan, and entering the Pasha’s apartment delivered the
message with which she had been charged by Amina.

“Tell my Morning Star,” said Delì Pasha, “that I will willingly come and
sup with her; indeed, I was going to propose it myself, for I have much
to say to her. Draw nearer, Khanum,” he added in a lower voice. “I know
you are a discreet woman, and that you are much attached to Amina,
therefore I may tell you that Hashem Bey (Allah knows what a rich old
miser he is) has just been here, and the object of his visit was to
propose a marriage between her and his son Selim.”

This sudden announcement was too much for the poor Khanum’s already
over-excited nerves; she staggered and would have fallen had not the
Pasha started up and supported her to the divan on which he had been
seated.

“What is the matter, O Khanum?” he said. “What is there in this news to
cause you so much agitation? Is not Selim a youth well-born, well-spoken
of, rich, and high in the favour of our lord the Viceroy?”

“Forgive me,” said the Khanum in a broken voice; “a sudden faintness, a
giddiness came over me—perhaps—perhaps it was the thought that this
marriage would separate me for ever from my beloved child.”

“Nay,” said the rough old Pasha, moved by her grief and the cause to
which she had attributed it. “I know the love you bear to my Amina, and
you must also know that the separation of which you speak would be yet
more hard for me than for you to bear, but some day it must be endured.
Amina is now of an age to marry, and it would be difficult to find a
husband more worthy of her choice than Selim. But no more at present;
compose yourself; say nothing of this to Amina—I will break it to her
myself; only tell her that I will come and sup with her at sunset.”

Fatimeh Khanum retired, and as she hurried through the room in which she
had left Hassan, he marked her agitated step and caught the words, “Oh,
grief! oh, misfortune!” ere she disappeared behind the curtained door
that led to the harem.

After her departure Hassan remained for some time with Delì Pasha,
receiving orders and writing letters on subjects connected with his
private affairs; and when these were concluded he retired, and passed
the remainder of the afternoon in finger-talk with his dumb _protégé_,
whose intelligence and knowledge of all that was passing at Cairo he
found to be much beyond his years. The boy seemed so happy and grateful
that Hassan found a real pleasure in perfecting himself in the practice
of finger-conversation.

At sunset Delì Pasha proceeded to take his supper with Amina, who, with
the instinctive tact of an affectionate daughter, had not only taken
care to provide the dishes that he most fancied, but had arranged the
cushions of his divan so that they were perfectly adapted to his
habitual attitude—they were neither too soft nor too hard, nor too high
nor too low, nor too broad nor too narrow; and as she knelt playfully
before him, and placed in his hand the gold-thread purse which she had
just finished, he stooped to kiss her fair forehead, and meeting the
upturned glance of her eyes beaming with affection, he said, “Allah
bless thee, my child!” with an earnest tenderness, of which those who
had known him in the days of his wild and wayward youth, would not have
believed his nature capable.

Fatimeh Khanum was not present. The supper was brought up to the door by
eunuchs, and served by the women attendants who usually waited on Amina.
Delì Pasha did not fail to praise several dishes which had been prepared
expressly for him with unusual care, not that the old soldier was a
gourmand, but he recognised and appreciated the affectionate zeal
evinced by Amina to please him.

During the supper he talked about the events of the morning and the
English strangers, and it was arranged that he should send an invitation
to Mrs Thorpe and her daughter to visit his harem. They were to be
received by his eldest wife, but Amina might be present, as she would be
interested in seeing the Frank ladies’ manners, appearance, and dress.
The Pasha also alluded to the jereed game, and to the actors therein,
and while so doing, he mentioned Hassan in terms which brought the
tell-tale blood into Amina’s cheeks. He spoke of him not only as being
unequalled in horsemanship and skill in arms, but as being remarkable
for his truth, modesty, and integrity.

“I like the lad,” said the old Pasha; “he is of a kind rarely found
nowadays—a hot head, a ready arm, and a warm heart, but no _laf guizaf_
[talk and boasting]. If we had another war with the Wahabees, or with
any other nation, that lad might soon be a Pasha; but in these dull
times there is no fortune to be won by the sword. So Hassan must remain
_khaznadâr_ of a very small _khazneh_.[65] Such is destiny, Amina—all is
destiny.”

Little did the unconscious father think that in every word which he was
then uttering he was fanning a flame already kindled in his young
daughter’s breast.

No sooner was the supper over, and the Pasha had enjoyed his pipe and
his coffee, than he called Amina to his side, and pushing back the
tresses from her face, said to her, “Morning Star, you are no longer a
child—you are a little woman now.”

The fair girl’s heart had lately explained to her this truth in language
more expressive and convincing than her father’s.

He then proceeded to relate to her the visit of Hashem Bey and its
object, together with the reasons which made him take a favourable view
of Selim’s proposal, in words nearly similar to those which he had used
when speaking to Fatimeh Khanum in the morning. Had the lights not been
at some distance from the divan, and the room itself rather dark, he
would have been frightened at the paleness which overspread his
daughter’s face, though one little hand strove to cover it. She did not
speak, but he felt the death-like coldness of the other little hand,
which was clasped in his. “Speak, my child; what ails thee?” he said.
“Marriage is the destiny, the blessing of women. What is there to
terrify thee in these proposals from a youth who is rich, worthy, and of
a condition equal to your own?” She sank on her knees before him and
sobbed rather than said—

“Spare me, father! spare me!—save me from this hated marriage.” And as
she bowed her head upon his hands, he felt her tears falling hot and
fast upon them.

Astonished at this excessive and unexpected emotion, the fond father
spoke gently to her, and used all the arguments which he could think of
to reconcile her to the proposed match. For some time tears and sobs
were her only reply. At length she found strength to say—

“Father, I will obey you in everything. My life is in your hands. But if
you do not wish to break my heart and send me to an early grave, save me
from this marriage. I do not wish to leave you, father. At least give me
a year’s or six months’ delay.”

Delì Pasha could not resist the pleading grief of his beloved child.
Secretly unwilling himself to part from her, he consented to the delay
for which she so earnestly entreated.

“Be comforted, light of my eyes,” he said; “it is only your welfare and
happiness that I wish. Dry up your tears and let me see you smile again.
I have not passed my word to Hashem Bey. I will write to him that I wish
you to go with me to Siout, and that the time for betrothal is not now
opportune. That if after six months he desires to renew the subject, it
can be then taken into consideration. Will that satisfy you, Amina?”

Amina did look up, and though her eyes were still bedewed with tears,
rays of hope and joy and gratitude shone through them like sunbeams
through an April shower. Covering his hands with her kisses, she
exclaimed, “Oh, father, you have given me a second life—you are always
too good, too kind to your Amina.”

What bright hopes, what sunny visions had the young girl’s sanguine
imagination conceived and crowded into the space of six months! Selim
would be gone to Turkey or the other world, Hassan would be a bey or
pasha!

“My child, it is time for you to go to rest,” said Delì Pasha. “Allah
bless you! may your night be happy, and to-morrow let me see my Morning
Star shine as brightly as ever.” With an affectionate kiss on her
forehead he went across to his own apartments.

Delì Pasha was neither a suspicious nor a reflecting man, but he had a
fair share of good sense when he chose to exert it, and the more he
mused on the events of the day the more did he feel puzzled and unable
to explain them: the strange emotion and agitation of Fatimeh Khanum,
usually so staid and tranquil in her bearing, the still more violent
emotion and agitation of his daughter on receiving proposals of marriage
from a suitor altogether unexceptionable, and whose name he imagined
must be unknown to her. “Surely,” he said to himself, “these women must
have heard some story against Selim, that he is hateful, or cruel, or
brutal. I must inquire of Fatimeh Khanum and find this out.”

While he was indulging in these meditations Amina had locked herself
into her boudoir, and having loosened the bands that confined her hair,
left it to fall all over her lovely neck and shoulders; then, drawing
forth her small praying-carpet, she went through her accustomed prayers,
bowing her fair forehead upon it, and thanking Allah for having
preserved her from a danger the recollection of which still made her
shudder.

She went to the lattice and gently, very gently, opened the side of it.
She could see nothing, for the moon was not up, neither could she be
seen, though Hassan was watching like a true sentinel of love: the
creaking of the half-opened lattice did not, however, escape his quick
ear, and ere she retired from it she heard in a half-whispered tone,
that seemed to hover in the air, the following verses:—

 “Extolled be the Lord who hath endued with all beauty she who hath
    enslaved my heart.
 I see her not, I hear her not, yet I feel the fragrance of her presence
    like concealed spikenard.
 My love is the moon, and I am a solitary cloud wandering over the face
    of the sky—
 A cloud obscure and unnoticed; but let the moon shine upon it, and
    straightway it is robed in silver.”[66]

The following morning Hassan was for some time with Delì Pasha
explaining to him the results of his examination of his predecessor’s
accounts, and pointing out defalcations and deficiencies in some
quarters, and certain sums due, but not collected, in others. Delì Pasha
hated accounts and business, but he saw so much earnest zeal in Hassan’s
desire to render them clear that he forced himself to give them some
attention, and even that little sufficed to make it evident that his
former _khaznadâr_[67] had complicated them on purpose to cheat him, and
that his present one made them as simple as possible, and compensated
for his want of experience by his conscientious industry. Scarcely had
he got through the summary which Hassan had drawn up, ere he clapped his
young treasurer on the shoulder and broke out into a fit of laughter.

“Hassan,” he said, “you are the cream of _khaznadârs_, and I am sensible
of all the zeal and industry you have shown, but I cannot help laughing
when I see my young Bedouin-Antar doing the work of a Coptic clerk.”

“I grant,” said Hassan, smiling, “that the pen is not so familiar to my
hand as the lance; but if I know too little, I see plainly that my
predecessor knew too much, and I hope that the _khazneh_ will furnish
you with more purses this year than the last. It is my wish and duty to
do you good service, and be it with lance or pen, Inshallah! I will do
it.”

“Would you like a little exercise for your lance?” said Delì Pasha. “I
do not mean a jereed game, but a few sharp thrusts and hard blows in
earnest.”

“On my head be it—I am ready,” said Hassan, his eyes brightening. “Where
is such occupation to be found?”

“I have this morning received a note from the Kiahia,” said Delì Pasha,
drawing it out as he spoke from under a cushion of his divan, “and he
tells me that a band of the Sammalous tribe have lately come up on a
plundering expedition from their own country, near the Bahirah, and have
ravaged several villages near Ghizeh, carrying off money and horses. It
is said that they are now not very far from the Pyramids. The Kiahia
proposes to send eighty horsemen instead of fifty to escort the English
party going to-morrow to the Ghizeh Pyramids: forty can remain to guard
them, and the remaining forty can make an excursion into the desert and
try to find and capture these Sammalous thieves. He adds in his note
that he should be glad if you could accompany that party, as you were
trained in Bedouin warfare, and he has formed a high opinion of your
skill and courage. What say you to the proposal?”

“Most willingly will I go,” replied Hassan, “to have a bout with those
rascally Sammalous, who are the enemies of my old tribe the Oulâd-Ali.
The very last fight that I saw among the Arabs was with them, and they
wounded my adopted father.”

“El-hamdu-lillah” (Allah be praised), said Delì Pasha, “that the
expedition is to your taste. I will write to the Kiahia that you accept,
and will advise him to put the horsemen sent after the Sammalous under
your command. And now as a chance hurt may befall from lance or bullet,
and you might be unwilling to expose a horse not your own, to make your
mind easy on that score I make you a present of your friend Shèitan: you
have well deserved him, and, to say the truth, I do not believe he would
obey any other master.”

Hassan carried the Pasha’s hand to his lips and said, “May your life and
happiness be prolonged.”[68]

“Go, then, to-morrow morning,” continued Delì Pasha, “and Allah go with
you: the Kiahia’s horsemen will meet you at Ghizeh, where you will also
find one or two of those who were plundered by the Sammalous, and who
will aid you in tracking the party.”

Hassan took his leave, and as he went to his own room he met his dumb
_protégé_. Greeting him kindly, he informed him that he was going on an
excursion which might detain him a few days, and at the same time
thinking that the boy might be in want of some necessary during his
absence, he offered him a few small pieces of silver.

Murad smiled, and declined the money, showing his protector a few coins
of similar value in his own possession. In his rapid finger-language he
then explained to Hassan that he was now sufficiently recovered to run
with messages as before, and that he was already employed in this way at
a coffee-house and one or two other houses in the neighbourhood. With a
few words of encouragement Hassan left him and went on to his own room,
where he busied himself in examining and cleaning his pistols, which he
carefully loaded. He took care to see that both his sword and dagger
were loose in the sheath, and that the point of his lance was sharp.
While busied in these preparations, and in putting into his saddle-bags
the few articles of clothing which he meant to take with him, he hummed
rather than sung snatches of old Arab songs.

All at once the thought struck him that Amina might be at the lattice.
He crept up the ladder and peeped through the aperture, that could not
be called a window. There, indeed, was Amina, and the lattice was open,
and though the twilight was darkening, Hassan could see that she was
weeping, for the snowy Damascus kerchief was often applied to her eyes.

Hassan knew not what to do. He longed to comfort her, to sympathise with
her, but he knew that if he showed himself or made her aware of his
presence by addressing a word to her, she would immediately close the
lattice and withdraw. So he looked on in silence, and partook of her
unknown grief till the tears stole into his own eyes.

At length, unable any longer to keep silence, he drew his head away from
the aperture so that he could still see her but she could not see him.
He began to sing a well-known Turkish love-song in a very low tone. The
sound of the air, though not the words, reached her ear; she cast her
eyes furtively at the aperture in the opposite wall, but seeing nothing,
she did not withdraw. A little louder he sung, and the words reached her
ear, and she dried her tears and listened. It was a popular song, about
Youssuf and Zuleika, which, even if others could have heard, would not
compromise her; but her beating heart told her who was singing, and for
whom the song was meant. In the last verse the voice sank nearly to a
whisper. Still she caught the words, and the name of Amina was
substituted for Zuleika. With a deep blush she disappeared from the
casement, and all was silence and darkness.

On the following morning early Hassan set forth, mounted on Shèitan, and
crossed the Nile to Ghizeh by a ferry, which then, as now, existed at a
short distance to the southward of Boulak. He was accompanied by his
_sàis_, who drove before him a donkey carrying our hero’s saddle-bags,
and the large cloak and Arab blanket which served him on such occasions
for a bed.

On reaching Ghizeh he found the whole Thorpe party, with the horsemen
who were to accompany them, already arrived: there were also forty or
fifty donkeys laden with tents, bedding, cooking-utensils, and all the
creature comforts which Demetri’s foresight had prepared for a residence
of several days in the desert.

Hassan saluted them all in turn, and Demetri and Foyster insisted on
shaking hands with him in English fashion. After exchanging a few words
he turned towards the Kiahia’s horsemen, and was pleased to recognise in
their leader the same good-looking young Georgian whom he had seen at
the head of the Kiahia’s Mamelukes at the jereed play. Calling him on
one side, Hassan inquired whether he had any precise instructions as to
the course to be pursued for the discovery and seizure of the Sammalous
Arabs.

“Yes,” he replied; “I have a letter to the Governor of this district
ordering him to provide one or two villagers well acquainted with the
road to guide the English party to the Pyramids,[69] and also to place
under our charge two Arabs now waiting here who belong to the villages
robbed by the Sammalous, and who are supposed to have some knowledge of
the direction in which they have retreated.”

It was deemed advisable that the whole party should proceed towards the
divan of the Governor of Ghizeh, which was at no great distance from the
spot where they were now assembled. They moved onward accordingly, and
as they approached the Governor’s house the Georgian and Hassan rode
forward to demand an interview with that personage, while the remainder
of the party halted at a short distance from the house. They had not
been there long before their ears were saluted by sounds too familiar to
all who have passed any time in the neighbourhood of a Government divan
in Egypt—namely, the heavy and swiftly-descending blows of a stick,
accompanied by shrieks and cries of the victim, “Amân! amân! [mercy!
mercy!] I am dead. Mercy! mercy! You may kill me, but I have not a
farthing.”

The Europeans stopped their ears to shut out these painful sounds, while
Demetri, more accustomed to such sights, went forward to witness the
punishment, and ascertain what might be its cause and issue. The cries
died away into moans and groans, which soon became altogether inaudible,
leaving the Europeans to imagine that the sufferer was dead or had
fainted; and Mr Thorpe was virtuously and indignantly inveighing against
the barbarous cruelty of the Turkish governors when Demetri arrived.

As he approached they saw that he was convulsed with laughter, which
only redoubled Mr Thorpe’s indignation; and he asked the dragoman, in an
angry voice, how he could be so brutal as to jest over the agony and
torture of a fellow-creature.

“You shall hear, you shall hear, O my master,” said Demetri, still
unable to compose his features to a serious expression. “The man whom
they were beating is a fellah who occupies some land in the
neighbourhood, and though he sells his beans and his wheat like others,
he never has any money to pay the taxes on the day that they are
collected: either he has been robbed, or the crop failed, or the rats
devoured half of it, or he lost his purse on the road as he was coming
to pay in the money due to the Government—always some excuse; and though
for two successive seasons he has been severely beaten, they never could
find a piastre about his person nor extract one from him. This morning,
just as your Excellencies came, the same scene had been repeated: he had
vowed his inability to pay, and the Governor ordered him two hundred and
fifty blows on the feet. The fellow took them all, bawling and screaming
and groaning as you heard; and a stranger might well suppose that he was
almost, if not quite, murdered. As soon as he had received the number of
blows ordered, he was released, and began to stagger out of the
Governor’s presence as if he could scarcely stand on his feet. In doing
so he nearly ran up against one of the _kawàsses_ standing by, a strong,
rough fellow, who struck him a smart blow on the cheek with his open
hand. The suddenness of the blow took him so by surprise that it opened
his mouth unawares, and there dropped from it to the ground something
enveloped in a piece of rag. The _kawàss_ darted forward and seized it.
On opening it they found within four gold sequins, being the exact
amount of the sum which he owed to the Government. The rascal had come
with a full determination not to pay if he could help it, and rather to
take any amount of punishment he could conveniently bear: if he found
the beating carried to a length that his patience could not endure, he
could at any time stop it by producing the money. It seems that the two
hundred and fifty which he had received had produced little or no effect
on his leathern feet, and he was going off, chuckling at having cheated
the Government once more, when that accidental blow on the cheek made
him spit out the money.”[70]

It may be believed that this version of the story changed the compassion
of the Thorpe party into an inclination to laugh, and shortly afterwards
the fellah who had received the beating, and had unintentionally paid
his taxes, was pointed out to them by Demetri walking homeward to his
village, apparently with as little suffering in his feet as if he had
been beaten by children with straws.

While Mr Thorpe was discussing with the Missionary Müller the peculiar
features of character exhibited by the Egyptian fellah in the scene
which had just occurred, Hassan and the Georgian returned, accompanied
by the guides required, so the whole party set off merrily towards the
Pyramids.

Mr Thorpe had now reached the goal of wishes long entertained, for
although Thebes, Memphis, and other places of antiquarian interest had
mingled in his dreams, there was something in the grand and antique
simplicity of the Pyramids which had assigned to them a pre-eminence in
his imagination. Immediately on arriving he commenced his tour and
survey of the Great Pyramid with his daughter and Müller. Hassan went
with them also, rightly judging that his services might be necessary not
only to interpret for them, but to protect them against the importunity
of the Arabs, who had flocked in considerable numbers to see the
strangers, and to devise various projects for extracting money from
them. There were not then, as now, crowds of Arabs, half Bedouins, half
villagers, who make a living at the Pyramids by running up and down them
for prizes and assisting the numerous travellers to reach the top; but
there was even then a remnant of some tribe located there in tents, who
enjoyed a kind of prescriptive right to the custody of the place, and
Hassan and the Georgian had agreed to pay a score of these to act as
guards or watchmen while the party remained.

Mr Thorpe and Müller were already engaged in a discussion concerning the
history of the Pyramids; Emily had fallen a little behind, and was
turning to ask some question of Hassan, who had spoken to her a moment
before, when she observed him standing on a large stone at the base of
the Pyramid, his eyes cast down to the ground in a fit of profound
abstraction. There was an air of melancholy in his countenance, so
different from its usual expression, that she could not resist the
impulse which led her to ask him the subject of his meditations, which
she imagined to be something connected with the story of the Pyramids.

“Lady,” he replied in a tone of deep feeling, “the dream of my infancy
passed across my mind. This stone on which I stand was once my cradle.”

“Your cradle, Hassan! How mean you?”

“It is now about twenty years ago,” said Hassan, “that my foster-mother
was sitting here—perhaps on this very stone, for she said it faced
towards Cairo—when a horseman, believed to be my father, placed me—an
infant wrapped in a shawl—at her side, and fled at full speed. He has
never since been heard of. I know not who he was, nor whether he yet
lives. I know not who was my mother—I am a stray leaf blown about by the
wind of destiny.”

“Be assured he was no mean or ignoble man—it could not be,” said Emily.
“I hope you may yet find him, and be happy with him.”

“May Allah bless you, and grant this and all your other prayers,” said
Hassan. “But, lady, do not speak of this matter to others: though known
to many, it pains my heart to hear it spoken of.”

After making the tour of the Great Pyramid, and admiring with reverence
and wonder the architectural energy and skill which, in the infancy of
mankind, had piled upon each other those enormous blocks, brought from a
distance of many hundred miles, Mr Thorpe proposed to ascend, and to see
from the top the effect of a sunset on the valley of the Nile. A score
of Arabs were already on the alert to assist the worthy gentleman and
his party in the ascent, and so zealously obtrusive were they in their
manner of bestowing their assistance that Hassan was obliged to tell
them angrily not to pull and haul the strangers as if they were baskets
of dates. When they reached the top, what a magnificent spectacle
awaited them! There lay the broad and verdant valley of the Nile
stretched out beneath them. Far as the eye could reach were gardens,
villages, and palm-groves, among which the Nile, studded with white
sails, wound its sinuous course, while beyond its eastern bank rose the
Mother of the World,[71] her multitudinous domes and minarets all bathed
in the golden flood of the sun’s descending rays. All there felt the
softening influence of the hour—the imposing magnificence of the scene.
None dared to break the spell by an exclamation of admiration. Emily
glided to her father’s side and looked up in his face, and as he
returned the silent pressure of her hand, she saw that the heart of the
kind and enthusiastic antiquarian was filled with emotions that could
not find vent in words. After a while they descended as they had come
up, and found that the servants had prepared in their tent a dinner,
which, following the fatigues of the day, was far from unwelcome.

No sooner was Hassan free from the charge that he had undertaken, of
escorting Emily and her relatives to the Pyramids, than he hastened to
the Georgian’s tent to ascertain whether any intelligence had reached
him respecting the course taken by the Sammalous.

“Much,” replied the Georgian; “an Arab has arrived, a friend of those
whom we brought with us, who followed them stealthily at a distance and
saw the spot where they encamped, about fifteen miles to the north-west
of this place. They do not travel fast, as they are encumbered with the
number of the horses which they have captured, there being among them
some mares with foal.”

“Can I see and speak with this man?” said Hassan.

“Assuredly,” replied his friend, at the same time ordering his servant
to summon the Arab. The latter entered, and displayed to Hassan’s
scrutinising gaze a light sinewy frame and a shrewd intelligence. The
answers which he gave to Hassan’s minute inquiries were clear and
satisfactory, and from them he ascertained that the marauding party were
about fifty strong, mostly armed with lances, some heavy guns, and
pistols. “To overtake them will not be difficult,” added the Arab, “nor
to retake the horses—that is, if your own be swift and strong; but you
will never capture their leader, for he is mounted on Nebleh.”

“And what is Nebleh?” inquired Hassan.

“Have you never heard of Nebleh?” replied the Arab, eyeing our hero with
an expression something between surprise and contempt; “I thought every
one had heard of Nebleh.[72] She is the fleetest mare in the desert:
when or how the Sammalous stole her I know not, but none can catch her.”

“We will see that,” replied Hassan, smiling; then turning to the
Georgian he said to him, “My friend, it is true that I am younger than
you, and have less experience; nevertheless I am half a Bedouin, and
have seen something of these desert forays: will you be guided by me in
this expedition?”

“Willingly,” replied the Georgian, with corresponding frankness. “I and
my men will follow your counsel in everything.”

After a few minutes more of earnest conversation with the Arab, during
which Hassan learnt from him further particulars respecting the nature
of the ground, the existence or non-existence of water, &c., he turned
to the Georgian and said—

“My counsel, then, is that you select thirty-five of the best mounted of
your men, leaving the remainder here to guard the English party under
the charge of the Mameluke whom you consider most trustworthy: you and I
will both go in pursuit of the Sammalous. Let men and horses take food
now and rest till midnight, at which hour the moon will rise; let each
man secure to his saddle a bag containing eight or ten pounds of bread
and a few dates; our guide can lead us to water, not much nor good, but
for two days it will suffice, and in that time, Inshallah! we will
capture the rogues, and perhaps Nebleh too. Allah knows!”

The Georgian cheerfully acquiesced in Hassan’s proposal, being inspired
with confidence by the prompt decision with which he formed and uttered
it. The two friends then supped together, and separated to make the
preparations agreed upon.

At midnight the party moved silently out of the encampment, and, guided
by the Arab who had brought the intelligence, commenced their march over
the desert. For several hours there was no need for any precaution, and
Hassan and the Georgian, riding side by side at the head of their men,
conversed together with the frankness congenial to their age and
spirits. Both were eager for distinction, and both hoped for an
adventure that would do them honour. They talked much of Nebleh, and
Hassan said, as he patted the sleek neck of his now miscalled steed—

“If Shèitan once comes within ten spear-lengths of her and she escapes,
she must be swifter than any horse I have seen.”

“Truly he is a noble horse,” said the Georgian; “mine is not slow, and I
remember that on the day of the jereed I could neither escape your horse
nor your spear.”

“Nay,” replied Hassan, laughing, “these are but the chances of the game:
had your horse been swift as Shèitan my shoulder would have felt your
jereed.”

Thus discoursing, they followed their silent guide, who had not struck
into the heart of the desert, but had pursued a route parallel to that
taken by the Sammalous, and nearer to the cultivated ground. He halted
in a small hollow in which was a pool left by the receding waters of the
Nile, and around its edge a few patches of the herbs and grasses which
grow on the borders of the desert.

“We are now nearly opposite their last night’s encampment,” he said to
Hassan; “the moon is low, and we must remain here till dawn.”

The party dismounted accordingly to rest and refresh the horses and
await the first grey approach of dawn: no sooner did it appear than they
were again in motion, and from the summit of a small mound the guide
pointed to a curiously shaped hill to the westward, saying—

“Just below that hill they encamped last night.”

As soon as they reached its base the party was halted, and Hassan went
up with the guide to reconnoitre. When near the top they crept on their
hands and knees, and looked over into the plain below: it was of
considerable extent, and although they strained their eyes in every
direction, no trace could they see of man or horse.

“They have travelled faster than I expected,” said the Arab, in a tone
of disappointment; “they must already have passed over that ridge
opposite, for that is the way to the tents of their tribe.”

Hassan thought it now a good opportunity for trying the virtue of the
present that he had received the day before. Unslinging his telescope,
and adjusting its focus to the mark he had made on the brass, he
directed it to the range of hills pointed out by the guide: for some
time he looked in vain, but suddenly an exclamation of joy broke from
him.

“Praise to Allah, I have them now! one, two, three horsemen just going
over the ridge; the rest must have passed before.”

“Which way are they going?” inquired the guide.

Hassan pointed with his finger. “Good, good!” exclaimed the guide. “Wait
till you are sure that the last is past.”

After some minutes of careful and minute survey with the glass, during
which he satisfied himself that none remained on the near side of the
ridge, he made a sign to the party to advance, and informed his Georgian
friend of what he had seen. “El-hamdu-lillah!” was the joyous reply, and
Hassan having vaulted into the saddle, the party soon crossed the plain
at an easy canter. When they reached the ridge the same manœuvre was
repeated, and Hassan and the guide, creeping cautiously to the top, saw
the whole party of the Sammalous crossing the plain beyond, their
leisurely movement plainly indicating that as yet they had no idea of
pursuers being on their track.

Hassan now took a careful survey of the country, from which, as well as
from the opinion of the guide, he ascertained that at no great distance
on the right hand a valley or hollow ran in a direction nearly parallel
with that taken by the Sammalous. His decision was formed in a moment,
and he hastily descended to communicate it to his companions.

“There they are in that plain below,” he said. “I will take a dozen of
the best mounted of your men and gallop down that valley, so as to get
ahead of them and cut off their retreat. Give me two hours and then fall
on their track; we shall have them between us, and, Inshallah! they will
not escape us.”

No sooner said than put in execution. Hassan led the way down the valley
at a hand-gallop, checking, however, the speed of Shèitan so as not to
exhaust the horses of the troopers behind him. The ground favoured their
manœuvre, and they had already passed half the space requisite to enable
them to head the enemy when they suddenly came upon an Arab riding
leisurely up from a hollow at right angles to that which our hero was
following.

“It is one of the Sammalous,” he said, “who knows the country; he has
been down to a well in that hollow. If he once gets to the crest of the
hill he will give the alarm to his party, and our plan is spoiled: he
shall not do so if Shèitan’s breath holds good. Do you move gently
forward and spare your horses; leave me to deal with him.” So saying, he
struck the stirrups into Shèitan’s flanks, who darted forth like a bolt
from a crossbow.

The Sammalous no sooner saw a horseman approaching at full speed than he
divined that his followers were in pursuit of his party; he therefore
urged his horse to his utmost speed. But Hassan had been too quick for
him, and had got so far ahead on the hillside that he had nothing for it
but to fight or be taken prisoner, and being a bold, stout fellow, he
did not feel disposed to yield to a single enemy.

Hassan having got between the Sammalous and his party, reined up Shèitan
and called to him to lower his lance and surrender. The Sammalous,
seeing that Hassan’s followers were already visible in the distance, and
that no time was to be lost, made no other reply than by charging him at
full speed. Our hero, observing that his adversary’s lance was three or
four feet longer than his own, and that he could not await the charge,
dexterously avoided it by wheeling Shèitan suddenly to the right, and as
he passed in full career dealt him a blow on the head with his
_dabboos_,[73] which hurled him senseless from the saddle.

“Aferin! [bravo!] Ahmed Aga, my friend,” said Hassan to himself; “when
you gave me this weapon I did not think to employ it so soon and so
well!” So saying, he dismounted, and commenced operations by securing
the fallen man’s horse: after that he turned to examine the rider, whom
he found to be stunned and bruised, but not mortally hurt. Hassan kept
guard over him until the arrival of his friends. No sooner did they
appear than he said—

“We have no time to lose. The Sammalous knew that this fellow came
hither for water over that ridge; if he does not return they will begin
to suspect, and send a party to look for him, who would discover us
before our plan is ripe. I must throw dust in their eyes!” So saying, he
coolly proceeded to take off the striped blanket which the Sammalous
wore, and taking also the _kufiyah_ or kerchief which formed the
head-dress of the latter, he wrapped it round his own head.

Having thus disguised himself, Hassan mounted the horse of his fallen
adversary, who at that moment came to his senses, and sitting up, looked
on at what was going forward, and rubbed his eyes as if he were waking
out of a dream. Hassan desired one of the troopers to bind the man’s
hands fast behind him and to tie his feet, after which the party
proceeded according to his orders along the valley, whilst he himself,
trusting to his disguise, took the way towards the top of the hill which
divided his party from those of whom he was in pursuit.

As soon as he reached the summit he had the satisfaction of seeing them
in the plain immediately below. They were going at a slow pace, some of
the slaves and boys stopping and diverging to the right and left to
drive up the lagging mares and foals, while the main body pursued their
route, evidently unsuspicious of the vicinity of danger. Hassan had not
been a moment on the crest of the hill ere they perceived him; but as
they expected their comrade to reappear from that quarter, and they
recognised his horse, blanket, and head-dress, it was impossible for
them at that distance to distinguish the features or figure of the
rider, and the motions of Hassan were such as to disarm all suspicion,
as he rode leisurely and in a lazy attitude on a parallel line with
themselves, apparently allowing the horse to pick his own way. Meanwhile
he noted accurately their numbers and rate of march, so that he was able
to calculate with considerable exactness the most favourable point for
sweeping over the hill with his party to intercept their retreat. This
latter manœuvre he was obliged to defer until the appearance of the
Georgian and his followers in pursuit, his own being too few in number
to make a successful attack alone.

Hassan had not long to wait, for the time arranged between himself and
the Georgian had scarcely elapsed ere the latter appeared on the hill in
the rear, and began to cross the plain with his men at an easy gallop.
That he was noticed by the Sammalous was ere long evident from the
sudden stir and movement observable among their ranks, as they held a
hasty consultation whether they should abandon their booty or make a
stand in its defence. The party in pursuit being apparently not more
than half their own number, they resolved on the latter course; and from
the shouts and signs which they made to Hassan to come down and join
them, he conjectured that the man whom he had discomfited was of some
rank or consequence among them. Regardless of their signals, he
disappeared over the hill to join his own party, while the Sammalous
leader exclaimed to his followers, “Curses on Abd-el-Atah, on his
father, and on his mother; he sees we are about to be attacked, and he
gallops off to save his own skin!”

Having rejoined his party, Hassan vaulted on Shèitan, threw off his
disguise, and led them swiftly forward for about a mile, when perceiving
a small gorge or cleft in the hill which opened upon the plain, he
conducted his men through it, and had the satisfaction of seeing that
the body of the Sammalous were between the Georgian and himself.

“El-hamdu-lillah, we have them!” he exclaimed, and as he spoke he
loosened his sword in its sheath, looked to the priming of his pistols,
and there was a joyous, exulting expression in his countenance which
gave confidence to all the party.

The time for concealment was past, for the Georgian was now within an
arrow’s shot of the Sammalous. The latter had gathered their captured
animals in the rear, and were preparing to resist the onset of the enemy
in front, when shouts from the boys and servants in the rear caused them
to turn their heads. They saw Hassan and his little band approaching in
that direction. Escape was now impossible, and it only remained for them
to conquer or be captured with all their booty.

The number of combatants was nearly equal; the Sammalous had, perhaps,
eight or ten more than their opponents, besides a score of servants and
boys on foot, who had each a sword or lance. Twenty of the fighting men
of the Sammalous were quickly wheeled to the rear to oppose Hassan and
his twelve horsemen, who now came on in a gallop, and in better order
than might have been expected from their habitually irregular
discipline.

“Gently, gently, my men,” said Hassan, reining in Shèitan to a moderate
hand-gallop. “Keep your horses in breath till you are at close quarters,
then let them out. A gold sequin for the first empty saddle among the
Sammalous.” His men answered with a loud and cheerful shout, and in a
few minutes the conflict began.

As Hassan had expected, the Sammalous did not await his charge in a
body, but dispersed to the right and left, so as to reduce the fight
rather to a succession of single combats. They fought well and bravely,
nevertheless they were unable to contend with the impetuous force with
which Hassan directed the attack of his small party; in fact, his
appearance and his deeds contributed to strike a panic into them. His
large and powerful figure, the joyous and exulting shouts that he raised
as man after man fell under the sweep of his sword, together with the
wonderful dexterity with which he guided and wheeled his strong and
fiery horse amidst and around them, contributed to throw them into
amazement and consternation.

The Georgian on his side was not idle, and it was soon evident to the
leader of the Sammalous that all hopes of saving their booty must be
abandoned: many of his men were killed, many wounded, when he
reluctantly shouted aloud to the remainder words that may best be
rendered by the French “Sauve qui peut!” Mounted on Nebleh, the chief
had shot about the field like a meteor—now here, now there, darting and
wheeling in every direction. Nebleh seemed to be unapproachable in her
matchless speed and activity. Never had that gallant mare and her no
less gallant rider better deserved the high reputation they had acquired
than on this day so fatal to his tribe. One of the Turkish horsemen he
had transfixed with his lance, and had grievously wounded two more; but
now destiny had decided against him, and with a sigh he turned to fly
from the luckless field.

Hassan had been so much occupied in the _mêlée_ that he had not had time
to seek out the Sammalous leader, and accident had not brought them
together; but when the latter shouted to his men to fly, and turned
Nebleh’s head to the desert, Hassan struck his stirrups into Shèitan’s
flanks and darted forth in pursuit, and now commenced a race for victory
on one side, for life on the other.

The Sammalous had a start of nearly fifty yards, which Shèitan’s first
furious bound had reduced to thirty. For nearly half a mile the speed of
the horses seemed equal, but even in the heat of that exciting moment
Hassan had the presence of mind to reflect that Shèitan’s strength and
speed had been severely tried by a long gallop on the other side of the
hill, and also that his own weight was one-third greater than that of
the light and sinewy form of the Sammalous chief, hence he rightly
judged that in a long race he must be the loser. Both had hitherto kept
their horses somewhat within their speed preparatory to a trial of
endurance.

Hassan now resolved to call upon Shèitan for one great effort, and if
that failed, to give up the pursuit. Once more he slackened the rein and
struck the sharp stirrup into the flanks of Shèitan. The high-bred
horse, responsive to the touch, bounded forward with an impetuosity that
brought him within a few yards of Nebleh’s flank. At this crisis the
Sammalous chief drew a pistol from his girdle, and, turning round in his
saddle, fired at his pursuer with so true an aim that the ball passed
through Hassan’s clothes and grazed his ribs, inflicting a slight flesh
wound in its passage.

With a motion almost simultaneous Hassan drew out one of his pistols and
aimed it full at the back of his enemy. The ball took effect between the
unfortunate man’s shoulders and passed through his lungs. After reeling
for a few minutes in the saddle, he fell heavily to the ground, his hand
still grasping Nebleh’s bridle. The intelligent and faithful animal
stood by the side of her dying master, putting her nose down towards his
face as if inquiring what ailed him and why he stopped. Hassan
dismounted, and leaving his panting steed at a little distance,
approached the spot. The Sammalous chief was no more.

Hassan remained for a few minutes silently contemplating the body. A
smile of satisfaction passed over his countenance as he reflected how
well he had avenged the wrongs of his foster-father, but it quickly
passed away as he said gravely, “He was a brave horseman, but his time
was come—destiny had written it—Allah have mercy on his soul!” He then
commenced an examination of the dead man’s clothes, and found, as he had
expected, in the shawl around his waist several small bags of money
which the deceased had plundered from the villages whence he had taken
the horses. Securing these in his own belt, he proceeded to lead away
Nebleh, who was apparently bewildered by the death of her master, and
accompanied him with the gentleness of a lamb.

Two or three of his men, who had followed the headlong chase as fast as
their wearied horses could carry them, now drew near. Intrusting Nebleh
to them, he slowly returned to the scene of the affray.

Hassan and the Georgian, after congratulating each other on the success
of their expedition, began to examine into its results. Of their own
party four were killed and ten wounded; of the Sammalous nine were
killed and thirty made prisoners, of whom seventeen or eighteen were
wounded. Several bags of money had been found besides those in the
possession of Hassan, and forty mares and foals carried away from the
villages, besides twenty-five horses belonging to the Sammalous
themselves. These items, added to a goodly collection of swords,
pistols, and other accoutrements, made up a very respectable prize to
lay at the feet of the Kiahia.

The solitary Arab whom Hassan had thrown from his horse and had left
bound had wandered from his party to drink at a neighbouring well,
whither, being at no great distance from the scene of the affray, Hassan
and the Georgian now determined to proceed, there to pass the night, the
state of the wounded rendering it impossible to carry them back direct
to the Pyramids. To the well, therefore, they bent their course, the
wounded being placed and supported on the quietest horses. They found
the prisoner bound in the spot where he had been left, and he was not a
little surprised to see his comrades and all their booty captured like
himself. He bore it, however, with the resigned indifference common to
oriental fatalists.

Having arrived at the well, arrangements were made for the night
encampment. The prisoners were all placed, disarmed, in a body, with a
strong guard over them, and they were told that any attempt at escape
would be punished by instant death. The horses were picketed, and Hassan
intrusted Nebleh to his own groom, with orders to sleep close to her,
and with one eye open: over these a guard was set, which was relieved
every two or three hours, Hassan and the Georgian agreeing to watch each
one-half of the night. The barley and bread captured from the Sammalous
was more than ample for the wants of the party, and half-a-dozen torn-up
shirts supplied the bandages necessary for the wounded.

The night passed without incident or interruption, and the following day
they pursued their course leisurely to the Pyramids, where their arrival
with their captives and booty created no little sensation. After
consulting with Hassan the Georgian sent off a fresh horseman with a
letter to the Kiahia, informing him of the result of the expedition, and
requesting that one or two surgeons might be sent to attend the wounded
of both parties: he also desired to know the Pasha’s pleasure whether he
should convey the prisoners and recaptured booty into Cairo, or to the
divan of the Governor of the province at Ghizeh.

The generous Georgian did not tell Hassan that in his account of the
affray he had given the whole credit of its success to our hero, both
from his having laid and carried out the plan, and crowned it by killing
the Sammalous chief with his own hand.

Those who have lived or travelled in the East will exclaim, “This is
unnatural; no Oriental was ever capable of so unselfish a trait.” Rare
fruit in that clime we admit it to be, nevertheless the exception does
not disprove the rule. However contrary it may appear to general
experience, truth, modesty, and unselfishness _may_ be found in the
East—that is, among the Arabs, Turks, and those brought up with them. He
that would seek such fruit farther East—that is, in Persia—had better
settle his affairs before he starts, and be prepared for a journey of
indefinite duration and worse than doubtful result.

Having despatched the messenger, and sent another to the villages which
had been plundered by the Sammalous to desire their sheiks to come on
the following morning to identify and claim their lost property, Hassan
and the Georgian proceeded without delay to render such assistance as
lay in their power to their wounded comrades: in this work of humanity
they found an efficient coadjutor in Müller. For most of the wounds,
after cleaning them, cold bandages were his panacea, and these he
applied with remarkable skill and expedition. In two instances he had to
employ probe and forceps for the extraction of a pistol-ball: in these
he was equally successful, and he plied his hands and instruments with
much knowledge.

Hassan, as soon as he could leave the wounded, was summoned to Mr
Thorpe’s tent to give an account of the expedition and the affray, which
he did with his accustomed modesty, passing lightly over his own share
in them, and praising the gallantry of the Georgian and his comrades.
But when he came to relate the chase, and what might be termed his
flying duel with the Sammalous chief, his eye sparkled, and he told his
tale with a force and vigour that produced the liveliest interest and
excitement in his auditors. Emily gazed on the speaker in silence, and
when he had concluded his narrative Mr Thorpe said—

“Hassan, you mentioned that the chief’s bullet grazed your side: in
attending to the wounds of others, have you seen to your own?”

“Mine is a mere scratch; I have not even looked at it,” he replied.

“The very words you used before,” said Mr Thorpe, shaking his head,
“when you had a ball in your shoulder which threatened to cripple you
for life. I insist upon it that you allow Müller to examine it.”

“To please you, and to show you that I am grateful for the interest you
take in me, I will do so,” said Hassan, rising, and he went with Müller
into the adjoining tent. On examination the latter found that our hero,
though not seriously injured, had very narrowly escaped. The ball had,
as he termed it, grazed his side: the application of some lint and a
plaster was all that Müller thought necessary. He returned to give his
report to the Thorpes, while Hassan went to sup with his friend the
Georgian, who had already invited the doctor to join them.

On the following morning at daybreak the messenger returned, bringing an
answer from the Kiahia to the effect that Hassan and the Georgian,
together with those who had accompanied them, were to convey the
prisoners, horses, and other booty to the Governor’s divan at Ghizeh,
where the Kiahia proposed himself to attend and to superintend the
proceedings. The village sheiks having arrived, the party set forth to
Ghizeh, and on arriving, Hassan was surprised and pleased to find there
his chief, Delì Pasha, in attendance on the Kiahia. The hearty old Pasha
welcomed Hassan with a smile, saying—

“Welcome, my son; you have done well, and have made my eyes glad.”

The Kiahia then sat down in the centre, with Delì Pasha on one side and
the Governor on the other, Hassan and the Georgian standing near their
respective chiefs. The proceedings commenced by an inquiry into the
amount claimed by the several sheiks as having been stolen from their
villages.

It were an endless task to relate the falsehoods and exaggerations
uttered by each of these worthies as to the losses they had sustained:
certain it is that five times the amount of money recovered would not
have satisfied their claims. Hassan and the Georgian laid before the
Kiahia the bags which they had found on the persons of the Sammalous, as
well as the prisoners and the dead. Some of them were distinguishable by
marks and seals: these were restored to their owners, and the others
distributed according to the best judgment of the Kiahia. Still the
claimants were dissatisfied, and one old sheik said—

“Would it not be well if your Excellency ordered these two young
Mamelukes and their soldiers to be searched?—perhaps they have secreted
some of the money.”

Hassan and the Georgian cast on the speaker looks of silent contempt,
but the impetuous Delì roared out, “By my life, thou son of a dog, thou
deservest to have thy white beard rubbed in the kennel! Dost thou think
that these brave youths would risk their lives to recover your dirty
piastres and then steal a portion of them? and if they had been thieves
like thyself, dost thou think, thou father of asses, that they would
have brought those piastres with them to this divan?”

The abashed sheik held his peace, and soon afterwards slunk out of the
court.

The mares and foals claimed by the villagers were next distributed, and
with less confusion and contention than the money, being more easily
identified. This ceremony over, the Kiahia Pasha said—

“As the goods of the villagers have now been restored, the persons and
property of the Sammalous thieves are at the disposal of the
Government—the prisoners are condemned to three years’ imprisonment.
Kawàsses, take charge of them, and remove them to Cairo. Now, Hassan and
Reschid” (addressing the Georgian), “stand forth.” The young men obeyed.
“Hassan,” continued the Kiahia, “the mare of the Sammalous chief whom
you killed is yours. There are twenty-five horses, with arms and
accoutrements, belonging to the Sammalous: of these fifteen are for you,
as you took the principal lead in the expedition; the remaining ten are
for Reschid.”

“My lord,” said Hassan hastily, interrupting the Kiahia, “pardon my
freedom of speech. It is not just that I should take one horse more than
Reschid: he is my senior, and he commanded your Excellency’s men; he
fought and risked his life as I did. Whatever lead I had in the
expedition was owing to his modesty and friendship: as we divided the
duty equally, I beg your Excellency to divide the horses equally.”

The Kiahia smiled aside to Delì Pasha and replied, “Wallàhi! Hassan,
your sentiment is friendly and good, but it is out of my power to comply
with your wish. There are twenty-five horses; how can I divide them
equally?”

“May your servant speak freely?” inquired Hassan. On receiving an
approving sign from the Kiahia he continued, “Four of the brave soldiers
who fought with us fell in the affray; they will have left behind them
perhaps poor parents, perhaps poor families. I would beg your Excellency
to give me eight of the horses, the same number to Reschid, and to allow
the remainder to be sold in the horse-market and the money to be given
to those poor families.”

“Mashallah!” said the Kiahia, “you have spoken kindly and wisely; it
shall be done as you wish. Do you and Reschid take all the horses,
choose each your eight, sell the remainder yourselves, and give the
amount to the families of those on whom Allah has had mercy.”[74]

Hassan bowed, and was about to retire when the Kiahia again called him
and Reschid before him, saying to them, “You have both done well, and
the Viceroy is pleased that those who do good service should be
rewarded; my _khaznadâr_ has orders to pay you each five purses [£25] on
leaving this presence.”

The young men answered with the customary “May your years and honours be
abundant,” and withdrew. Hassan having received permission to send his
mare and his eight horses into Delì Pasha’s stable, went back with
Reschid to the Pyramids in order to take leave of his English friends,
while the Kiahia and Delì Pasha returned to Cairo.

Our hero and Reschid, whose liking for each other had already ripened
into a warm attachment, rode side by side, conversing on many topics,
when the former suddenly said to his companion, “Reschid, I know not how
you may feel, but I do not like being paid in money for doing our duty
in scattering, capturing, and killing those thieves of Sammalous, and
methinks it were a more fitting reward for those soldiers who shared our
danger and who have got nothing. What think you if we were to divide
among them these purses which have been given to us, and allow some
additional share to the wounded?”

Reschid eagerly embraced and seconded the proposal, saying, “You are
right, Hassan; we have all that we need under the shadow of our Pashas.
The money will be better bestowed among these fellows, whose trade it is
to take hard blows for money.”

The idea was no sooner conceived than it was put in execution. Halting
under a clump of palm-trees, they called up the men, and after a few
words of encouragement and praise for their good conduct, divided among
them all that they had received, reserving, as they had proposed, a
somewhat larger share for the wounded. As they again rode forward
towards the Pyramids, one of the horsemen said to his fellows—

“If our Pasha would give us leaders like that young Hassan, we would
follow them to the last drop of our blood. How unlike he is to our
captain, whose hands are idle in the fight, and busy only in gripping
the money.”

Hassan was very anxious to learn something of his new friend’s origin
and early history; but the latter was not able to satisfy his curiosity,
answering with a smile to his inquiries, “Our fates seem somewhat
similar. You tell me that you are a foundling and know not your parents.
I am much in the same case; for I was brought over here from Stamboul,
in company with two of my sisters, when I was four or five years of age:
the elder was betrothed and married; the younger was destined for some
great harem, but she fell in love, married secretly—I know not
whom—escaped, and has never since been heard of. As I never could learn
the name of her husband, I have not been able to trace her.”

“As our fates are alike, so let our hearts be alike,” said Hassan
cordially; “and may Allah some day reunite us both to those whom we have
lost.”

“So may it be! You are not a woman, and not very like one either,”
replied Reschid, casting his eyes on the athletic proportions of his
companion, “and yet my heart leaned towards you from the first moment I
saw you. Inshallah! now we are friends, we will see each other much and
often.”

“I should be truly glad,” answered Hassan; “but our intercourse will be
soon interrupted, for Delì Pasha goes shortly to Siout as Governor, and
I am to accompany him.”

“You will not remain there long,” said Reschid, “neither you nor your
chief. Mohammed Ali likes him and his blunt ways. You will see that he
will not leave him long at Siout.”

Thus conversing, the friends arrived at the Pyramids, where the report
of their generosity to the soldiers and the wounded was soon spread over
the whole encampment.

On the morning succeeding these events, Hassan, after taking leave of
the Thorpe party, and recommending them to the care of his friend
Reschid, returned to Delì Pasha’s palace on the banks of the river,
where he was cordially welcomed by his chief and by Ahmed Aga. The fame
of his exploits, if so they may be termed, had already spread over the
whole house, and indeed had been painted in glowing colours by the old
chief himself to his daughter.

No greeting of all those which met him on his return pleased him more
than that of the little dumb Murad, who looked up into his protector’s
face with eyes that scarcely required the aid of the tongue’s
interpretation, as his nimble fingers signed the words, “Allah give you
a long and prosperous life—I have heard all, and oh! I am so happy.”

Hassan patted the head of his young _protégé_ and inquired what he had
been doing during the last few days. The little boy had much to tell,
and it required all Hassan’s attention to follow and understand the
language of those fingers, whose rapidity of motion almost confused his
sight. Murad had taken many messages, and got into high favour with old
Mansour, who knew that he was himself the unintentional cause of the
hurt which the dumb boy had received. Finding him very faithful and
intelligent in the execution of commissions, Mansour had sent him
frequently to the city to bring trifles and samples for the ladies of
the harem, and had even conducted him to the ladies themselves, his age
not rendering that step objectionable.[75] He had taken some silks to
Zeinab Khanum, and some otto of roses[76] to Ayesha Khanum (probably the
two wives of the Pasha); also some beads and turquoises to the lovely
Amina Khanum.

“To whom?” cried Hassan, grasping the little boy’s arm with a grip which
almost paralysed it.

“To the lovely Amina Khanum,” repeated Murad, astonished at Hassan’s
outbreak. “And is she not beautiful as a houri?”

“And did you speak with her?” said Hassan, releasing the boy’s arm and
striving to master his emotion.

“In truth I did,” he replied, “and she spoke to me kindly, and pitied my
want of speech, and said she could almost weep for me.”

“Allah! Allah! would that I were twelve years old and dumb,” ejaculated
Hassan.

“What said you?” inquired Murad, looking up into his face with
astonishment.

“Nothing—nothing, boy; go on and tell me what passed with Am——, with the
lady you were speaking of.”

“She patted me on the cheek, and made me tell her what happened on the
day that you saved Mansour from the soldiers. She asked me whether you
had been kind to me, and what could I say of my protector but that you
had been to me more than a father or a brother? She wished to know where
you were gone, and whether there would be bloodshed, and when you were
coming back. I wrote all my answers on slips of paper (for I have taught
my finger-talk to none but you), and while she was reading them her
breath was quick, and her colour changed, and she was so agitated—by
Allah! just as you are now, Hassan. What has happened?” added Murad
timidly; “have I said anything to offend you?”

Much of what had fallen from Murad was music to Hassan’s ear and balm to
his heart; yet a sort of dread came over him when he reflected how he
had betrayed his feelings, and she hers, to a child, and one whose
vocation it was to go from house to house with messages and commissions!
Looking steadily into Murad’s eyes, he said, “Were you alone with the
lady when this passed?”

“I was,” he replied, “for some time: two of the slave-girls were
occupied at the other end of the room, but they were too far to hear
what the lady said to me, and you know, Hassan, they could not hear what
I said to her.”

This reply somewhat reassured Hassan, while its closing words moved his
compassion. Fixing his eyes earnestly, yet kindly, on the boy’s
countenance, he said to him, “Murad, do you love me?”

“Better than my life,” replied Murad, eagerly seizing his protector’s
hand and pressing it to his lips. “Whom should I love, if I love not
you? I have none on earth to care for, none to love, if it be not
Hassan.”

“Then I charge you by that love,” said Hassan solemnly, “never to
communicate what you have told me to any human being—not even to
Mansour. Were you to do so,” he added, with a stern expression, “much as
I pity and love you, Murad, I would rend your limbs asunder and give
them to the vultures.”

Although hurt and surprised by the unwonted tone of his protectors
language, Murad looked up in his face with a calm, untroubled
countenance, and using his little fingers with slowness and precision,
he said, “Kill me now if you doubt me! I am not noble nor honourable in
birth, but I have a heart. Has Hassan forgotten our proverb, ‘The good
man’s breast is the secret’s tomb’?”[77]

“Enough,” replied Hassan, in the usual tone of kindness in which he
addressed his young _protégé_. “I will trust you, and did wrong to doubt
your truth. If you are again called to the Lady Amina, serve her and
obey her faithfully in all things, but never communicate to any living
creature what she may say or ask about me. You are too young to
understand the dangers, the intrigues, and calumnies of a harem—only
remember that one unguarded expression from you might be the cause of
misery and shame worse than death to her.”

Hassan, having received a message from Delì Pasha, dismissed his little
_protégé_ and presented himself before his chief, who began talking to
him on the subject of his expedition against the Sammalous, and in the
course of conversation asked him what he proposed doing with the eight
horses taken from them, to which Hassan replied that it was his wish to
send them as a present to his foster-father among the Oulâd-Ali.

“That is well,” said the Pasha, smiling; “youth should repay the bread
of infancy. But what mean you to do with the beautiful mare Nebleh?”

Hassan thought for a moment, and then replied, “She is, indeed,
beautiful and swift beyond any horse that I have seen; but she is small
and light—too much so to bear me either after an enemy or an antelope,
too much so even to bear your Excellency with freedom.” Here Hassan cast
his eyes on the large and vigorous, though somewhat corpulent,
proportions of his chief. “I was thinking that it would be well if your
Excellency were to make her a present from yourself to Mohammed Ali, for
it does not become one in my rank to make him such an offering. His
Highness is small and light in person; nor do I believe that he has a
mare like Nebleh in his stable.”

“Wallàhi! you say well,” replied Delì Pasha. “Nebleh would fly under
him; it shall be as you wish. But as she is your property, if I present
her from myself I must buy her from you. How many purses shall I give
you for her?”

“Under your Excellency’s favour I have no need of money,” replied
Hassan, with an abstracted, melancholy air that struck the Pasha. “Some
day I may have a favour to ask of you; then, if you choose, you may pay
me for Nebleh.”

“As you will,” answered Delì Pasha. “I will write a letter to his
Highness, which you shall deliver yourself with the mare; he is coming
to Shubrah[78] in a day or two. Now,” continued the Pasha, “you must go
to your office, for the _nazir_ [steward] of my village in Karioonbiah
has been here with the year’s account—you know how I hate accounts—so I
told him to wait your return. Look through his accounts, receive his
money, and send him back.”

Hassan had scarcely taken his seat in his office, and was beginning to
look among his papers for the last year’s accounts of the
above-mentioned village, when a servant announced to him the expected
_nazir_. On entering he made a profound and ceremonious salam to Hassan,
and remained standing until the latter desired him to be seated; and
when he obeyed this order, it was with a feigned reluctance that he
placed himself in the attitude of most respectful humility by sitting on
his heels, carefully covering them with the edge of his robe and his
hands with its sleeve. Hassan, rather surprised at this overstrained
humility, bestowed upon the _nazir_ a scrutinising glance, the result of
which did not predispose our hero in favour of his visitor.

While the usual pipe and coffee were being offered and discussed a few
indifferent and customary phrases were exchanged, and Hassan had more
opportunity for studying the countenance of the _nazir_. It offered one
difficulty to his scrutiny, as the eyes squinted so remarkably that he
could not tell when they were looking at him or when directed elsewhere.
Though not superstitious, Hassan was not free from the strong prejudice
entertained by all his countrymen against this unpleasant
peculiarity;[79] and he noted that in the _nazir_ it was accompanied by
a pinched nose, a narrow forehead, and a mouth round which a false,
sneering smile perpetually played. The servants having retired, the
new-comer began, after his own fashion, to take (as a sailor might say)
the soundings of Hassan’s character.

“A very pleasant office this, O Aga, upon which you have lately
entered.”

“Pleasant enough for those who prefer the pen and the carpet to the
lance and the desert,” replied Hassan.

“There is a time for all,” answered the _nazir_. “Your respected
predecessor found it so; he was fond of both; he and I were great
friends.” He laid much stress upon the last two words, which did not
raise him much in the estimation of Hassan, who had already discovered
among his papers not a few proofs of his predecessor’s dishonesty. While
assuming a careless air, he resolved to watch the man more narrowly.

“Doubtless,” he said, “those who serve the same chief should be friends
together.”

This observation, which was merely general, misled the _nazir_ into a
belief that he was understood and met half-way.

“What a good chief he is to serve,” said the _nazir_, with his sneering
smile. “Open hands and eyes closed, never looks into an account, that is
the kind of master I like.”

“Yes,” replied Hassan; “I believe he trusts a great deal to his agents
without looking after his own affairs.”

“Wallàhi! that he does,” said the _nazir_; “and as he has plenty, why
should not others also eat bread? Do you know,” he added, lowering his
voice, while his eyes, apparently directed towards the door, were fixed
upon Hassan—“do you know how much your predecessor had for his share out
of our village last year?”

“No, I know not,” replied our hero; “I have not looked through the
accounts.”

The _nazir_ smiled at his companion’s simplicity as he said, “Accounts,
indeed! Oh, they are all right and signed by me, while mine are signed
by the Sheik-el-Beled.[80] We must all three be friends, you understand.
The village is rated to pay Delì Pasha two hundred purses a-year
[£1000], but we easily raise a great deal more, and that we divide
amongst us for our trouble. Last year we got each of us fifty purses,
and, Inshallah! by your good fortune, we have as much this year.”

“You must explain more to me,” said Hassan, dissembling his indignation
under a semblance of simplicity. “I do not understand all the details of
your village affairs. I had understood that in the new measurement of
the lands which the Viceroy ordered to be made throughout Egypt a few
years ago, far heavier demands were made on the fellah than under the
old measurement: how comes it, then, that your village produces so much
more than is written against it in the books of the Defterdar?”[81]

“The land was then only half cultivated,” replied the _nazir_, “and was
rated at only three _ardebs_[82] the _feddan_ [acre]. Since then Delì
Pasha has spent much money on it in irrigation, and he is quite
satisfied that it produces, as you see in our books, five _ardebs_; but
we generally get seven out of it, and besides this there are many
methods which we employ for getting an honest penny here and there out
of the village. The recruiting time is our best harvest, for then all
those who do not wish a son or a brother to be taken must pay the sheik
well, and I have my eye always steadily fixed upon him to see that he
shares fairly with us.”

“Then,” replied Hassan, “it is clear that the signature or seal of the
sheik is necessary for all these papers, in case they should be suddenly
called for and examined. How do you propose to arrange them with me in
his absence?”

“He is on his way,” said the _nazir_, “and will be here to-night.
To-morrow morning we will come to you together, sign the papers, pay you
the money, take your receipt, and divide the little perquisite that we
take for our trouble.”

He accompanied these last words with what he meant to be a knowing wink,
but what was in fact a grimace so odious that Hassan could scarcely
resist the impulse, which had been gradually growing, to kick him out of
the room. But his resolution to seize and convict his accomplice the
sheik enabled him to master the impulse, so he contented himself with
saying—

“Well, bring him to-morrow morning and we will make it all right.”

“I will be here,” replied the _nazir_, who then rose and took his leave.

No sooner was he gone than Hassan’s indignation found vent in words
which, although not uncommon among the Arabs, are scarcely fit to be
translated for ears or eyes polite. As he was not aware what spies or
partisans the _nazir_ might have among the servants in the house, he
took no immediate step in reference to the late interview, but strolled
down to the stable and spent some time in directing the exertions of his
groom towards the rubbing and polishing the satin coats of Shèitan and
Nebleh, and beautiful they both were in their several styles—the one
above the ordinary size, fleet, proud, strong, and fierce in his bearing
to all but one; the other gentle, sagacious, unequalled in her speed as
in the fine and delicate proportions of her limbs. Still when any
stranger approached, she turned to look at him, as if expecting again to
see the form, again to hear the voice, of her Arab lord.

Hassan understood the gesture, and went up to caress her, saying,
“Faithful creature, thou shalt see him no more; his destined hour was
come, and you are separated. But you shall at least go where you will be
sheltered in all seasons, nurtured with all care, fed with all fresh
grasses and grains; thy sleek sides will be covered with velvet and
jewels, a gold-adorned bit in thy mouth, and on thy back will be a rider
like thyself—slight, indeed, and small in size, but unwearied in energy,
and of a spirit unquenched by danger and fatigue: wilt thou be happy,
Nebleh?”

While thus speaking, or rather half audibly murmuring, he stood with one
arm thrown over Nebleh’s neck and the other hand shading his own eyes,
as his thoughts unconsciously wandered to Amina, and might have been
embodied thus in words: “Were I lying on those sands where the Sammalous
chief’s bones now rest, would she start and turn at every approaching
step; and if afterwards they wedded her to wealth and splendour, and her
robes were studded with jewels, and gold and pearls were upon her neck,
would she be happy?”

Hassan was roused from his wayward and dreamy thoughts by the cheerful
voice of his friend Ahmed Aga, who had come to inspect the far-famed
Nebleh, and was surprised to find Hassan apparently asleep, though
standing on his feet and his arm over her neck. “Why, how is this, my
Antar?” he cried; “asleep, and with your arm on Nebleh’s mane.”

The sudden effort made by Hassan to recover his composure was not
entirely successful; besides, he was too natural to feign with his
friend a gaiety that he did not feel, so he replied—

“In truth, Ahmed, I was thinking of this poor animal’s former master,
the Sammalous: she looks in vain for his return, and pricks her ears at
every approaching footstep. Who knows what other loving hearts in the
tents are also waiting in vain for that returning footstep?”

“Wallàhi!” said Ahmed; “if thou hadst only one-half thy size, and
one-quarter of thy strength and courage, thou wouldst be a charming
girl, and methinks I could court thee myself, for thy heart is as tender
as that of Leilah herself. The Sammalous chief died like a brave robber,
as he was, and far happier was it for him than to be captured and taken
to Alexandria, and drag timber about the arsenal with two heavy chains
round his ankles. Come, be pleased to remove thy giantship from the side
of thy pet, that I may see her fair proportions.”

Hassan, relieved and restored to his wonted good-humour by the bantering
tone of his friend, complied with his request, and after they had stood
for some time commenting on the beauty and symmetry of the Arab, they
returned together towards the house. On the way Hassan, having first
ascertained that Ahmed was but slightly acquainted with the _nazir_,
told him all that had passed, and at the same time communicated to him
the plan that he had formed for the morrow.

“You may remember,” he said, “that in my office is a recess, covered
over with a curtain, behind which, unobserved by any of the servants, I
wish you to place yourself. There you will hear the rascality of these
two confessed by themselves, even if they have not signed or sealed
enough to convict them. At a signal from me you will come out; we will
then seize them and deliver them over to the Pasha, to be punished as he
sees fit.”

“With all my heart,” said Ahmed. “On my head be it; and, Inshallah! that
squinting rogue’s feet will get a lesson that will mend his morals.”

On the following morning Hassan’s plan was carried out with complete
success, and scarcely had Ahmed Aga ensconced himself in the curtained
recess of Hassan’s office than the _nazir_ entered, accompanied by the
Sheik-el-Beled. The latter was what would be usually termed in Egypt a
respectable-looking man, for one of his class; his turban and his dark
serge robe well became the gravity of his countenance, and it required a
close observation to detect the cunning that lurked in his small dark
eyes. The servants who brought the pipes and coffee having retired, the
_nazir_ entered into the business which had been discussed at the
interview of the preceding evening. He had not proceeded very far in his
discourse when Hassan, interrupting him, said—

“This is a serious affair; it will not do to have servants coming in
with messages until we have terminated it. I will lock the door.” While
he was doing so the _nazir_ said to the sheik in an undertone—

“The young greyhound takes well to the game; after he has tasted blood”
(here he rattled the money in his bag) “he will be keener yet.” A grim
smile, accompanied by “Inshallah!” was the sheik’s reply.

In order that the unseen auditor might hear the whole scheme of fraud
developed, Hassan now caused the _nazir_ to repeat what he had stated on
the preceding day, under pretext that he had not thoroughly understood
its details. Our hero also put from time to time a question to the
sheik, whose replies, brief though they were, proved him to be a
thorough participator in the villainy of his colleague, and rather led
Hassan to think him the deeper rogue of the two.

The discussion being closed, they now, as the _nazir_ said, “proceeded
to business”—_i.e._, to the signature of the falsified accounts—which
ceremony was accompanied by the delivery to Hassan of a bag containing
fifty purses (£250), which the _nazir_ drew from an inner pocket of his
ample vest. Hassan weighed the bag in his hand without untying it, then
placed it in a niche of the wall above his head.[83] The _nazir_ and the
sheik having attached their seals to duplicate copies of the accounts,
the latter were handed to Hassan to be certified by him in a similar
manner.

“Before doing so,” said he, “I will call another witness to my sealing.
Ahmed Aga, come forth.”

No sooner did the two accomplices see the _mirakhor_ emerge from the
curtain than they knew they were detected and lost. The falsified
accounts were in Hassan’s hand, and it flashed across the _nazir’s_ mind
that if he could recover and destroy them, proof might be difficult
where two would have to swear against two; and, quick as thought, he
threw himself on Hassan as the latter was rising from his sitting
posture to his feet. But Hassan had his right hand free, and the
unfortunate _nazir_ never knew what a right hand it was until he found
himself lying prostrate and bruised at the farthest end of the room.
Ahmed Aga burst into a fit of laughter.

“Mashallah!” he said, “a cheating, squinting, cut-purse dog like you to
lay your dirty hands on our Antar. Ha! ha! ha! Come,” he continued,
addressing the discomfited _nazir_, “give me up that sword, which you
are unworthy to wear, or we shall have you trying to stab some one in
the dark.”

Having received the fallen _nazir’s_ sword, he opened the door, and
calling aloud, ordered two servants to bring cords to tie the hands of
the two miscreants and conduct them to the presence of Delì Pasha,
whither they themselves at once proceeded, Hassan bearing with him the
bag of money and the falsified accounts.

Whilst Hassan was narrating to his chief the manner in which he had been
cheated by these scoundrels for years past, the Pasha’s brow was
clouded. The written proofs of their guilt having been laid before him,
and Ahmed Aga having testified to having heard from their own lips a
confirmation of Hassan’s statement, Delì Pasha called aloud to his
attendants to take the culprits into the court below and to give them
each 250 blows on the feet,—“and mind that they are well laid on,” he
added sternly. Then turning to the prisoners, he said, “You have owned
to having continued this robbery for some years: after your punishment
you will be shut up for a week, during which time you will find means to
refund each 100 purses, the avowed spoil of the last two years. If you
fail to do so, I hand you over to the Mehkemeh [the public tribunal],
where, as you know, the galleys will be your fate. Begone!”

In a few minutes the shrieks and cries of “Aman!” [Mercy!] that arose
from the court satisfied the Pasha that his orders were faithfully
executed, and he turned with a cleared brow to Hassan, whom he warmly
praised for his fidelity and intelligence, adding, “You have well
deserved that bag of fifty purses, and I would willingly give it you,
but I know, my brave lad, that the offer would offend you; if, however,
it would give you pleasure to wear an old soldier’s sword, that has
drunk no little Wahabee blood in its day, you are welcome to it. I know
it could not be in better or in braver hands.” As he said this he
unbuckled his sword and gave it to Hassan, who pressed the holy legend
on the blade[84] to his lips and forehead, saying, “May your honours
increase with your life, and may I never be unworthy of your favours.”


We must now transport the reader to the interior of a house, or rather a
palace, which stood, and indeed still stands, on the banks of the Nile,
about a quarter of a mile from the site of that which we have before
described as being occupied by Delì Pasha. This palace was larger and
better built than others in the neighbourhood; its foundations of solid
stone formed a kind of pier, capable of resisting and controlling the
waters of the Nile in their wildest mood, so that a person at one of the
windows facing the river might drop a stone into the flood below. At the
back of the palace was a large garden filled with orange, lemon, citron,
and pomegranate trees, and protected by a high wall; while the lateral
front of the building, on which side the windows were all closely
latticed, commanded a view of the streets and of the passengers coming
to and going from the port of Boulak.

In a private apartment of this palace, adjoining the _ka’ah_ or large
central saloon, sat a lady, apparently between thirty and thirty-five
years of age, the character of whose remarkable countenance was hard to
read and define. The features were not regular in detail, yet they were
not wanting in a certain beauty of harmony, and though they betrayed
strong passions, they denoted a still stronger will to command them. The
eye small, but full of fire; and though the stature was below the
average height, yet the form seemed imbued with command, and the
gestures, though imperious, were not devoid of grace.

Opposite this lady, whom we shall so far involve in mystery as to give
her no name but that of the Khanum, sate, or rather crouched, at a
respectful distance the figure of a little old woman, whose features
were a true index of her odious character. She was what is called in
Arabic a _dellaleh_ or saleswoman, a class who frequent oriental harems
for the ostensible purpose of selling to the inmates jewels, silks,
shawls, and toys of all descriptions, but are usually employed as the
medium of all love affairs or intrigues in which the imprisoned beauties
are or wish to be engaged.

“And is he then so very beautiful?” inquired the Khanum, with apparent
listlessness.

“My lady, I am told that he is indeed beautiful as Youssuf,[85] and
strong and valiant as Antar, nevertheless the down of manhood is newly
written on his lip.”

“Who may be your informant as to this wondrous youth?” said the Khanum,
in a tone in which curiosity was veiled under a semblance of
haughtiness.

“May it please you, my lady, it was Ferraj, the confidential servant of
Osman Bey, who has seen this youth called Hassan both in the street and
at the jereed play; and Ferraj is a man who has eyes—Mashallah! he is
not blind. I have before now served him in luring birds of beauty to his
master’s net, and——”

“Peace, woman,” said the lady sternly. “Think you that I care to hear
the intrigues of that ruffian Bey?” then dropping her voice to a lower
key, she added, “Well, I will see this youth—I think you called him
Hassan. When can you bring him hither?”

“It is not difficult, lady; to-morrow, if you will—unless he is absent
on duty. Ferraj says that though all are afraid of him if he is angry,
yet he is good-natured and simple as a child, and that if I only tell
him that some one is in danger or in trouble, he is sure to come at
once.”

“Well, be it for to-morrow,” said the lady impatiently; “only let me
know in time whether you have succeeded.”

“And if I do succeed,” said the crone, “and if he be as beautiful as I
have said, what will the generous lady bestow on her slave?”

“That,” replied the Khanum, pointing to a small European purse
ornamented with pearls which lay upon a stool of ebony inlaid with
mother of pearl beside her, and through the network of which a certain
number of gold coins were visible. “Go now, be silent and faithful, or
... you know me.”

“That do I,” muttered the crone between her teeth, as she made her salam
and left the room. “I know thee for the veriest dragon that ever wore
the form of woman.”

That same evening, when Hassan retired to his small sleeping-room, he
felt as happy, if not happier, than ever he had felt before: he had
rendered to his chief an important service, and had received from him a
sword of honour, a trusty blade of the finest Damascus temper, with
which he hoped to carve his way to honour, distinction, and Amina.

As the image of the latter rose to view in his imagination, an
irresistible impulse led him to close his door, mount the steps which he
withdrew from behind his bed, and look through the aperture at the
well-known window of his beloved. To his surprise and delight the
lattice was open, and he could distinctly see the lovely form and
features of Amina as she reposed upon a low ottoman; two candles in high
silver candlesticks were on the carpet beside her; no other figure was
visible, but Hassan knew that she was not alone, as he heard a voice
addressing her in a low tone, which he fancied (although he did not
catch a word) he recognised as that of Fatimeh Khanum.

In explanation of the open lattice, it must be remembered that Amina’s
apartments were high from the ground, and that on the side of the outer
palace on which they looked there was not a single window, save only the
aperture made by two displaced bricks, through which Hassan had already
drank so many deep draughts of love.

Now he could hear Amina’s sweet voice replying to her companion; but he
saw that a kerchief was applied to her eyes, and that she was weeping
bitterly. At the same time he thought—nay, he was sure—that he heard his
own name uttered by the other speaker. Abhorring even the thought of
eavesdropping, he came down from the steps and replaced them behind his
bed, on which he threw himself in an agony of conflicting emotion.

“Allah! Allah!” said the unhappy youth. “I have caused her tears to flow
for whose happiness I would sacrifice my life.” He then thought of the
words of Fatimeh Khanum—of the high destinies reserved for Amina—of his
own unknown birth and humble fortune; thence his thoughts passed to the
kindness and trusting confidence shown to him by her father. “And shall
it be said that I, Hassan, rewarded him by trying to steal the
affections of his only daughter, the prop and pride of his old age. Why
did I see her lovely face—why did I hear her sweet voice—why did I
respond to her song? Allah! Allah! I have done very wrong—I have been
blinded, bewitched, deprived of my reason. Ye cursed steps, ye have
brought me to this evil.” So saying, he rose in haste, and after
ascertaining that there was no one in the passage, he carried out the
steps and replaced them in the same corner whence he had first removed
them.

More than half the night he spent in framing resolutions to tear the
image of Amina out of his breast, or if this proved impossible, as his
heart whispered to him it would be, at least to bury it within him, and
permit no temptation to induce him to seek a return of his ill-starred
passion. “Inshallah! I will never cause her to shed another tear, unless
some bullet or lance removes me from the earth, and she drops one on my
grave.” With these resolutions Hassan fell asleep and dreamt of Amina.

The Easterns have a proverbial saying, that Fortune when serving Vice
rides on an Arab horse, and when serving Virtue rides on a camel,—the
moral being that she is generally swift to aid the vicious in their
undertakings, whilst she is more slow, though more sure and steady, in
aiding those of the virtuous. In illustration whereof it fell out that
on the following morning Hassan rose early, and strolled in a musing
mood on the road which led along the bank of the river to Boulak: he did
not observe that he was followed by two persons at a little distance, an
old woman and a man. “That is he,” said the latter in a low voice to his
companion, and immediately withdrew.

Hassan walked slowly forward, and just as he came to a part of the road
where passengers were few and an unfrequented by-street led from it, he
felt his elbow lightly touched by some one from behind, and turning, he
saw a woman, respectably dressed and covered with a long black veil,
whom he knew at once from her round shoulders and stooping gait to be
advanced in years.

“What would you with me?” he inquired.

“I have a message for the private ear of Hassan,” she replied, “if he
will accompany me for a few paces up the street”; and without waiting a
reply she walked on before him.

The _dellaleh_, for she it was, felt that she required great caution and
tact in order to secure the acquiescence of Hassan in her demand; for
she had ascertained some particulars of his habits and character, whence
she inferred that if she abruptly proposed to him any affair of
gallantry he would turn on his heel and leave her. Having reached a
secluded part of the street, she stopped and said, “I have been asked by
a lady who is in trouble to see Hassan, and inquire whether he is
disposed to render her a service.”

“I do not understand or love mysteries,” replied Hassan frankly. “Who is
the lady, and what service does she require at my hands? Has she not
father, or brother, or sons, or friends, that she asks you to apply to a
stranger?”

“My son,” said the old woman, modulating her voice to its softest tones,
“know you not that in our country there are cases where ladies are
deprived by fate of all these supports which you name? Know you not our
proverb, ‘He is thy brother who befriends thee, not he who came forth
from thy mother’s womb’?”

“True, my mother,” said Hassan, smiling; “yet I would fain know what
service is required of me—is the lady oppressed, and has she need of my
sword?”

“I am not in the Khanum’s confidence,” replied the wily crone. “She has,
I suppose, heard of your courage and fidelity, and wishes to consult you
on some matter touching her honour or safety.”

“If that be so,” answered Hassan, “I am ready—lead on.”

“Not now,” she replied, “spies are about; and you yourself know that it
would be impossible to admit you to the door of the harem in the
daytime. Meet me this evening at sunset under the large sycomore by the
river on the road to Boulak, and I will conduct you to the house.”

“I will be there,” answered Hassan; and the crone left him to make
report of her success to her employer.

“I have half a mind not to do it,” she muttered, as she went. “So young,
so handsome, so unsuspicious; and after a few days’ revelling in wine
and luxury, to be consigned to the cord or the deep well.” A shudder
passed over her frame; but the tempter was at hand—if aught so foul and
hardened as she could be said to require a tempter—the purse of gold
flitted before her eyes, and she pursued her course to the side-door of
her patroness’s house. Admitted at once to the presence of the latter,
she reported the success of her mission, adding, “He will be here just
after sunset.”

“Is he then so well-favoured as he had been described?” inquired the
Khanum.

“Mashallah! you shall see with your own eyes, lady; my words are weak to
describe what you will see.”

“It is well,” said the Khanum. “Go; I shall expect him at the hour.”

“What strange folly have I now committed,” said Hassan to himself, “in
offering to assist this unknown person, and risking my neck within the
walls of a harem? However, I have promised, and they shall not say that
I held back from fear.” So saying, he secured his dagger within his sash
under his inner jacket, buckled on his old sword, leaving the splendid
jewel-hilted present of Delì Pasha in his room, and sallied forth to the
place of appointment enveloped in a dark-coloured _aba_ or cloak. He
found the old woman under the tree, and followed her through several
streets without exchanging a word, until they reached the postern door
before mentioned, at which she tapped three times: it was opened
immediately by a Berber _bowàb_, or porter, beside whom stood two Nubian
eunuchs of large stature.

“Follow your conductor,” whispered the crone to Hassan; “my task is
done.” And so saying, she withdrew from the door, which was closed and
bolted.

Fear was a sensation as foreign to the heart of Hassan as to that of any
man who ever walked on earth, but the closing of the bolts behind him,
and the grim smile which he observed on the faces of the swarthy
eunuchs, made him for a moment repent of having embarked in this
mysterious enterprise; but recovering himself immediately, and placing a
hand on the hilt of his dagger, he followed his guides in silence. They
led him through several winding passages, and at last to a curtained
door which opened on the larger room before described as the saloon of
the palace, and, making him a sign to enter, retired. Four large candles
in silver stands of unusual height lighted up the farther part of the
saloon, by the side of which stood several trays loaded with the finest
fruits and rarest sweetmeats, while on another were ranged rows of
sherbet-bottles of various hues, and others that might contain the
forbidden juices of the grape: all these things Hassan noted with a
rapid glance, and also that for the present he was the sole occupant of
the splendid apartment.

“If the lady be mistress of all this wealth and luxury,” said Hassan
half aloud, “how strange that she should need aid or service from one so
humble as myself.” He then walked forward over the soft and silent
carpets towards the lights, and with the curiosity of youth began to
examine the fruits, which surpassed in beauty all that he had seen, and
wondered how such could be collected and procured in the end of
November.

Hassan was not aware that while the lofty saloon in which he stood
reached to the roof of the palace, there were adjoining rooms of half
the height, and that through the beautifully painted lattice-work which
ornamented the sides of the saloon there was a woman sitting in one of
those dark rooms above, who, invisible herself, could see every feature
of his countenance as he stood in the full glare of the wax-lights.

“Wallàhi!” as a dark fire flashed from her eyes, “for once that old
daughter of Shèitan has not lied. None so handsome have I seen in this
land; who, whence can he be? Bakkalum” (we shall see). So saying she
left the room, ordering the eunuch who stood without to give her the
key. The corresponding rooms, she knew, were closed and the keys she
held. This strange woman trusted none of her women slaves—they were all
sent to another part of the house; the only confidants of her wickedness
being four powerful black eunuchs and the porter of the postern door.

Meanwhile Hassan began to weary of his splendid solitude, and finding
his head almost giddy from the aromatic odours which rose from a censer
burning in the room, he threw open the large latticed casement, which,
from the sound of the rushing waters, he judged to look out upon the
Nile. A young moon was rising, and not a boat was visible: the thought
of the grim eunuch below flashed on his recollection, and as he gazed
from the window on the turbid stream boiling below at a distance of
thirty feet, a smile passed over his face. Retiring from the casement,
he found himself suddenly standing before one whom he felt to be the
lady of the palace.

Her appearance has been described, and she had not neglected to
embellish it by all the resources of art. Her dress was tasteful rather
than splendid, and only one or two jewels of price betokened the rank
and wealth of the wearer; her hands were small and graceful, to which
point a single brilliant of the purest water attracted the eye; and the
natural fire of her dark eyes was now heightened as much by the passion
which burnt within them as by the kohl,[86] which had shed a darker hue
on their lids and on the arching brows above.

“Pardon me, lady,” said Hassan, “if I have done wrong in opening the
casement; my head is not accustomed to these odours of aloes and
frankincense, and I admitted the air of heaven. If you fear the cold I
will close it.”

“I have no fear of cold,” she replied, as a ray shot from those piercing
eyes; “let it remain open. But come and sit down on this divan; I have
much to say to you in confidence. We can dispense with servants here;
the fruits and sherbets will not spoil our conversation.”

Hassan did as he was desired, wondering not a little at the unrestrained
language and manners of the Khanum, who had allowed her veil to fall
from her head; but he observed that, from the height of the sill of the
open casement and of the floor of the room itself, nothing of its
interior, save the ceiling, could be seen from the river.

The Khanum, with all her vices, was a woman of shrewd and sagacious
intellect, and when she was in the mood few of her sex in the East could
be more agreeable and prepossessing. She now employed all her powers to
please her young and inexperienced companion, not omitting the artillery
of her dark eyes. She observed, however, with secret spite, that the
latter fell harmless on the impenetrable armour of Hassan’s inexperience
or insensibility. When at length, after something that she had said
about love, conjoined with money, pleasure, luxury, &c., Hassan
understood her meaning, he replied with a cold and constrained air—

“Lady, we have been mistaken in each other. I came here believing that
you were in trouble, and requiring such aid as an honourable man might
give you with sword or counsel; and you brought me here thinking that I
was a minion or a toy that might be bought with gold, and afterwards
cast away like a worn-out dress.”

“Wallah! it is not so, Hassan. Whatever I have been or done before, I
love you truly; and if you will only give me your love, all my time and
wealth and power shall be spent in making you happy.”

“Lady,” replied Hassan with frank simplicity, “I will not mislead or
deceive you. A man cannot give what is not his; I have only one heart,
and it is given away. The gold in the Viceroy’s treasury could not
repurchase it.”

“Then you refuse and scorn my love,” she said, with kindling fire in her
eyes. “Beware how you awaken my hate; none have ever done so and lived
to tell it. I have means at hand for breaking your proud spirit. There
are dungeons below which never see the light of day; a few weeks or
months passed in them, with only black bread to feed on, will perhaps
bring you to another frame of mind.”

“Khanum,” he cried, springing to his feet, “I replied to your offered
favours with frankness and with courtesy,—your threats I despise.”

“Despise!” she cried, no longer mistress of her rage; “and this to me!”
As she spoke she clapped her hands loudly together; one of the eunuchs
appeared. “The man and the cord,” she said. The slave retired.

“Lady,” said Hassan, drawing his sword, “methinks you are scarcely
prudent to trust yourself so completely in the power of one whom you
threaten with the cord and the dungeon: before your slaves appear I
could sever your head from your body. But I have said it—I pity and
despise you.”

Her eye quailed beneath his stern glance; but at that moment the four
black slaves, armed with swords, and one of them bearing a strong cord,
entered the room.

“Seize and bind this villain,” she cried, “who has threatened and
insulted me.”

“Lady,” said Hassan in a low, determined tone, “you are mad. I could
shout so loudly from this open window that neighbours and passengers
would know what was passing in your harem. I must, if you force me to
it, shed in your presence the blood of your slaves; but I would fain
spare you. Think again, and let me depart in peace.”

Her only reply, as she arose and stamped her foot on the ground, was,
“Seize him and bind him, ye cowardly slaves.”

“Must it be so?” said Hassan, grasping his dagger in his left hand and
his sword in his right, while his eyes shone with that fierce fire which
always animated them in the fight. “Come on, ye wretched slaves, and try
your destiny!”

As he spoke these words, and, drawing up his towering form to its full
height, placed himself in a posture of defence, the Khanum cast upon him
a look in which love, admiration, and hate were strangely blended; but
still she stamped her angry foot and ordered the slaves to do her
bidding.

The negroes rolled their great eyes from their mistress to the powerful
and well-armed youth before them, as if the job was not much to their
liking; but their fear of the terrible and relentless Khanum prevailing,
the boldest and strongest of the party advanced, whispering to his
companion with the rope, “I will engage his sword in front, while you
approach on one side and throw the cord over him”; and in this order
they came forward, the two other slaves, with drawn swords, following
close behind their leader.

Hassan saw their manœuvre at a glance, and before they could put it in
execution he sprang like a tiger on the foremost, and guarding the cut
which the other made at his head, he dashed the horny knob of his
sword-hilt with such terrific force on his forehead that, after reeling
backward several paces, he fell senseless at the feet of his advancing
comrades. At the same instant, quick as lightning, he turned on the
negro who had nearly reached his side with the cord, and with one cut
laid open his right arm to the bone, the rope falling harmless on the
carpet. Uttering a yell of pain, the negro sprang backward to the side
of the two who had not yet ventured within reach of Hassan’s sword, and
whose livid lips revealed their terror of an antagonist who in a few
seconds had disabled the two strongest of their party.

“Come on! come on!” said Hassan, with a scornful laugh. “This game is
more to my taste than the Khanum’s sweetmeats and frankincense.” But the
men, instead of moving, cast their uncertain eyes on their disabled
companions, and fear seemed to root them to the spot.

“Lady,” said Hassan in a stern voice, “there is no honour to be gained
by me in wounding or killing coward slaves like these; once more I warn
you bid them retire, and spare me the trouble of defiling your fair
carpets with their blood.”

The Khanum looked at her disabled and trembling slaves, and from them to
the bright, proud eye and commanding form of the young man; her spirit
failed her, and her pride quailed beneath his glance.

“Retire,” she said, “and carry out that body, be it alive or dead.” The
men obeyed, and the Khanum turning to Hassan, said in a trembling voice,
“You have subdued one who was never conquered before. What is your
purpose now—do you intend to kill me?”

Hassan, from whose brow the expression of anger had not yet passed away,
looked at her in silence for a minute before he replied—

“Khanum, do I look like one who could strike a woman? It is punishment
severe enough for you that I leave you alone with your own bitter
thoughts. I know you, lady—yes, I know your name and rank, and others
say what you have yourself avowed, that of those who have offended you
none have ever lived to tell it. But I warn you that, if you pursue me
with your hate and commission others to try and take my life, I will
cleave their skulls with this good sword, and will report to the Viceroy
what goes on in this house. If you choose that for the future there
shall be peace between us, we will both forget this evening, and your
secret is as safe with me as if I were dead: the choice rests with you.
Now, lady, I shall go away;” and as he spoke he moved across the carpet
towards the door.

“Stay—stay a moment,” cried the Khanum in affright. “Let me call back
the slaves and give them their orders. The passages are long and
narrow—you may lose your way; slaves are there armed; the porter too is
armed, and he alone has the secret of that door-lock.”

“I had thought of all these things, lady,” said Hassan calmly, as he
returned from the edge of the carpet where he had taken up his
slippers,[87] which he placed under his belt, tightening the latter at
the same time so as firmly to secure them as well as his dagger. “It is
not my intention to trust to the good faith either of yourself or your
armed slaves in those dark passages; I prefer a road that is open and
familiar to me as the expanse of the desert.” So saying, he leisurely
approached the open casement, and looked out to see that no boats were
below or in the neighbourhood.

“Stay!” she cried, looking out with a shudder on the rapid current that
swept along the base of her house. “I swear to you by the Koran and by
the head of my father that my slaves shall conduct you safely out of the
palace.” And perhaps she spoke the truth, for at that moment a passion
that she would have called love, and admiration for the youth’s
dauntless courage, had banished from her mind the affront he had offered
to her pride; but he calmly replied—

“Lady, if you are not treacherous, your slaves might be so. The Nile and
I are old friends: if you are silent and your slaves faithful, you have
nothing to fear for or from Hassan.” So saying, he sprang head-foremost
from the casement into the rushing waters below. Uttering a faint
shriek, she looked forth from the window, and soon afterwards, at a
distance of fifty or sixty yards from where he dropped, she saw by the
moonlight that he had risen to the surface, and was swimming leisurely
down with the swift current of the Nile. “Mashallah! Mashallah! what a
man is that! and what a woman am I!” And for the first time—perhaps for
the last—during a period of many years that victim of ungoverned passion
buried her face in her hands and wept tears of shame and remorse.[88]

During the same evening Osman Bey, who had received orders to precede
his chief to Siout, and who was now on the eve of departure, sat in the
corner of a private room in his house, leisurely smoking a chibouq, and
questioning his confidential servant, Ferraj, who stood before him with
his hands crossed on his breast.

“So the old woman told you that she saw the young vagabond safe within
the door of the harem, did she?”

“It is even so, my lord, and she heard the bolts of the door shut upon
him by the _bowàb_” [porter].

“Allah be praised!” said the Bey, with a grim smile; “that upstart will
not cross my path again—he will never leave that house alive. Be on your
guard, Ferraj, and warn that old gossip to put a key on her tongue; for
if it were to be known that you or she had a hand in this matter, your
feet would be beat into a pudding, and she would sup with the fishes of
the Nile.”

Leaving this worthy vice-governor to continue the preparations for his
journey, let us return to our hero, whom we have most unkindly left
swimming down the river on a cold November night. His course was rapid
enough, and ere long he saw some lights on the right bank which he knew
to mark a café where he often smoked his evening pipe, and which was not
very far from Delì Pasha’s house: there he landed, and having wrung the
water from his clothes, walked on towards the café, which he found
occupied by only two or three drowsy smokers, the night being now far
advanced.

Making his way into the host’s room, with whom he was well acquainted,
he asked him to afford him lodging for the night, and to lend him a dry
blanket or two, explaining his present appearance by saying that he had
accidentally fallen into the water.

The host, with whom Hassan was a favourite, from his quiet habits and
from his always paying ready money for his coffee and pipe, willingly
granted his request, and ordered a fire to be lighted, at which our
hero’s clothes were hung that they might be dry by daylight. Hassan
himself, after drinking a cup of hot coffee, lay down on the floor in
his blanket, and in a few minutes was in a sleep as profound as if he
had been reposing on the softest bed in Cairo. Rising at the first grey
of dawn, and making the best toilet that the circumstances admitted, he
proceeded to Delì Pasha’s house before any of the servants were
loitering about the door, and reached his own room unobserved.

Very few hours elapsed before he was summoned to the presence of his
chief, whom he found in one of the private apartments, and before him
stood a woman’s figure, in whom, although she dropped her veil over her
face on his entrance, he recognised Fatimeh Khanum, the Kiahia, or
governess of the harem. She was about to retire, but the Pasha stopped
her, saying, “It is not necessary that you should go; I have but a few
words to say to Hassan, and they contain no secrets.”

The Khanum withdrew a few steps aside, while the Pasha proceeded to
inform Hassan that the Viceroy had suddenly arrived at Shoobra, and as
it was necessary that a messenger should be sent to compliment his
Highness on his arrival and inquire after his health, it would be a good
opportunity for Hassan to take the message, and also to present the Arab
mare Nebleh.

“I have written a letter,” he added with a smile, “which you will also
bear, and which will inform our lord how I came to offer him this
present.”

“May your bounties always increase,” replied Hassan; “on my head be it
to obey your orders, but if I might be bold enough to make an
observation——” here he hesitated, and cast his eyes aside at the Khanum,
as if he would rather communicate what he had to say to his lord’s ear
alone.

“Speak out, man,” said the impatient Pasha; “mind not our good Kiahia
Khanum. She has been long in our house, and we know her discretion.”

“I wished to say,” replied Hassan, “that your _mirakhor_, Ahmed Aga, is
a true and faithful servant of your lordship, and he is a true and good
friend of mine: it is his right and privilege to convey to the Viceroy
any horse presented by your lordship. On such occasions you know that
his Highness gives a liberal present to the bearer. Were you to send me
with the horse, it would be an unjust slight to a faithful servant, and
would give me the pain of supplanting a friend.”

“Wallah! Wallah! you are right, boy. I had not thought of it. You shall
go together: you may deliver the compliments and the letter, while he
presents the horse.”

Before Hassan could reply, a servant came in to say that the Viceroy’s
secretary was in the saloon with a message from his Highness. Starting
up from the corner where he sat, Delì Pasha told them to remain where
they were, while he went in to learn the secretary’s business with him.
Thus were Hassan and the Khanum again accidentally left together.

“My mother,” said our hero in a low and melancholy voice, “I remember
well what you said to me when we last met: your words cost me much pain,
but they were wise and true. I feel how far more humble I am in rank
than the priceless pearl whom you guard, and that it would be selfish in
me to do aught that could mar her high fortunes. Inshallah! I will never
cost her a tear; but there is no harm in my loving her with my whole
heart and soul as the Gheber loves and worships the sun, though he knows
he never can reach it. Such is my destiny; Allah has willed it; and I
could more easily pluck out my eyes from my head than her image from my
heart. Tell me, then, is she well and happy?”

“She is well,” replied the Khanum in a trembling voice, while she
muttered to herself in an agony of sorrow, “Allah, Allah, what is to be
done? Both these young loving hearts will be broken, for her love is as
deep and passionate as his!”

Hassan saw that she was weeping; a secret instinct told him that he was
loved by Amina. The ominous question shot from his eager eyes and rushed
to his lips, but by a strong and determined effort he conquered himself,
and compressed within him the words on which his destiny hung. He saw
that the Khanum pitied him, that her heart was under the influence of
tender sympathies, and he would not tempt her to forget her duty and
betray a secret which she was bound to preserve.

Fatimeh Khanum saw the struggle, and loved him the more for it. The
Pasha’s returning steps being now audible, she had just time to say,
“Allah preserve and bless you with all good,” when he re-entered the
room and resumed his seat.

“Hassan,” he said, “I have informed the secretary of your mission to
Shoobra, and he says that the Viceroy will be disengaged about the time
of the _âs’r_ to-day [three o’clock P.M.] Ahmed Aga shall go with you,
and present the mare as you propose, and you will deliver to his
Highness this letter.”

Having received the letter, Hassan withdrew, leaving his chief to
continue his conversation with the Khanum.

“What is the matter with Amina?” he said; “I have lately found her sad
and weeping.”

“How can your servant tell?” replied the Khanum. “Perhaps my young lady
is still afraid that your lordship will oblige her to marry some one
whom she cannot love—you had spoken to her on some such subject.”

“Foolish child!” replied the Pasha. “Tell her, then, to dry her tears,
for, Wallah! I only wish to see her happy, and I will not marry her by
force to any one.”

“I will convey your gracious message, and it will give her much
comfort,” said the Khanum, glad to escape from her lord’s presence; for
she felt oppressed by the secret of the mutual passion of the young
lovers, and dreaded lest by some unforeseen word it should come to
light.

Nebleh had been washed from head to foot in tepid water, and then rubbed
dry with cloths until her coat shone like the finest satin. Her sweeping
mane and tail had been carefully combed, and as she walked by the side
of the _sàis_ who led her, with a light elastic tread that scarcely
touched the ground, Ahmed Aga sighed to think that such a beautiful
animal was about to leave the stable of his chief.

When they reached the garden and mentioned their names to the porter at
the gate, they were at once admitted, and found the Viceroy reclining on
the crimson damask cushions of a divan in the corner of his kiosk, and
smoking a chibouq. On the floor, at a little distance, sate a Bedouin
sheik from the neighbourhood of Mount Sinai; and a little farther stood,
in respectful silence, a good-looking boy, with a round chubby face and
dark eyes, whose dress and jewel-hilted sword showed him to be of high
birth.

Hassan and Ahmed Aga having entered and made their salam, the former
informed the Viceroy that he was charged by Delì Pasha to present his
respects, and to congratulate his Highness on his safe arrival. Having
said this he came forward, and touching his forehead with the hem of the
Viceroy’s pelisse, delivered his letter. Mohammed Ali took it, and
bending his keen eyes on the bearer, as was his custom, with a
scrutinising look, he desired his secretary, who then entered the room,
to read it to him.[89]

The latter did so in a low voice that reached only his master’s ear, but
it was easy to see from the twinkling of his eyes and the expression of
his countenance that he was both interested and pleased by the contents.
When it was concluded he simply said, “Peki, peki” (Very well, very
well), then asked Ahmed Aga his business.

“May your Highness’s life be prolonged. I am your servant, Ahmed Aga,
_mirakhor_ to Delì Pasha, who has charged me to present to you in his
name the Arab mare Nebleh, who is, I believe, mentioned in the letter
just honoured by your perusal.”

“Where is she?” said Mohammed Ali; “I would see her.”

“I left her outside the garden gate,” said Ahmed. “The walks in your
Highness’s garden are not for horses’ feet.”[90]

“True, true,” replied the Viceroy. “Inshallah! we will go out and see
her. Come along, Sheik Abou-Fazl, you should know an Arab mare; and you
too, Abbas, will like to see one.” So saying he walked to the garden
gate, followed by the party and preceded by a dozen of his _kawàsses_.

When they reached the gate, Ahmed Aga stripped Nebleh of the light
gold-edged cloth which he had thrown over her to keep the dust from her
glossy coat, and the Viceroy’s eye fell on her form, in whose
symmetrical proportions neither envy nor criticism could find a flaw.

Mohammed Ali looked at her in grave and silent admiration, the Arab
sheik gave a strange grunt conveying a similar impression, while the
young Abbas’s eyes told the same tale, though he could not venture to
speak until spoken to in the presence of his grandfather. After being
led about for a few minutes amidst the “Mashallahs!” of all who saw her,
she was saddled and bridled by the Viceroy’s order, who turned to
Hassan, saying—

“We know your horsemanship well; we should like to see her gallop and
play.”

“My lord,” replied Hassan, casting down his eyes upon the large
proportions of his frame, “although Nebleh could carry me, and would
carry me until she dropped dead, she would look better and move more
easily under a lighter rider. If your Highness will permit this young
Prince (for such I take him to be) to mount her, I think it would please
him much, and would show the mare to better advantage.”

“Well, be it so,” said the Viceroy, adding in a lower tone, “She is not
violent or restive, is she?”

“Quiet and docile as a lamb, though swift as an eagle,” was the reply.

With eyes sparkling with joy the young Prince jumped into the saddle,
and in a moment Nebleh was in full career: now wheeling to the right,
now to the left, at the slightest touch of the heel or bridle, and after
a few minutes returning to the spot whence she had started, with her
transparent nostril widely dilated and her proud eye awakened by the
inspiriting gallop.

“Aferin! aferin! [well done] Abbas,” said the Viceroy; “it is enough for
the present. Ahmed Aga and Hassan, you may return to Delì Pasha, and
convey to him our friendly greeting and our wish that Allah may prolong
his days.”

The two friends made their obeisance and slowly returned towards Boulak.

“Do you know who is that youth?” said Ahmed Aga to his companion.

“I know him not,” replied Hassan; “but from his dress and bearing I
suppose him to belong to the Viceroy’s family.”

“You conjecture rightly, and the Viceroy is said to be very fond of him:
he is the son of Toussoun Pasha, Effendina’s second son,[91] who
distinguished himself so much in the war against the Wahabees. Alas! his
fate was a strange and sad one.”

“I have heard,” said Hassan, “that he died in the prime of life, but I
know nothing more.”

“After his successes in Arabia,” continued Ahmed Aga, “he was so popular
in the army that Ibrahim Pasha grew jealous of him and hated him; but
what is more strange is that his own father also grew jealous of him,
and of his popularity with the soldiers: perhaps his suspicions were
strengthened by the tales of slanderers, who told him that Toussoun
meant to rebel against him and dethrone him. Certain it is that the
unfortunate Prince died of poison administered to him in some sherbet or
wine that he drank during a feast given by him to some of his friends:
he died immediately, and it is believed that the poison was given by
Mohammed Ali’s order.”

“Horrible!” ejaculated Hassan. “Father and son! As it is not proved, let
us hope it is not true.”[92]

“The Discoverer of Secrets [_i.e._, Allah] knows,” replied Ahmed; and
conversing on various matters, they reached the house of Delì Pasha.

No sooner had they put their feet on the stairs leading to the saloon
than they became aware that something unusual had occurred: a crowd of
servants had gathered near the door of the room, and from within was
heard the voice of the Pasha pouring forth at its highest pitch a
torrent of threatening vituperation. “You have never seen him in one of
these fits of passion,” whispered Ahmed Aga to Hassan; “when they seize
him he is mad and ungovernable.”

Hassan having inquired from one of the servants the cause of this storm,
was informed that it was about a sword with a jewelled hilt of great
value which Mohammed Ali had given to the Pasha after the war with the
Wahabees. It had been in charge of a young Mameluke named Kasem, who
filled the office of Master of the Wardrobe, and as it was now missing,
Delì Pasha charged him with stealing it, and threatened to have him
beaten to death. As this lad was one of those who had sportively
attacked Hassan on the day of the jereed play, and from his frank and
merry character was one of our hero’s favourites, he would not believe
him guilty of such a crime without the strongest proofs, and he resolved
at once to hear what those proofs were.

Forcing his way through the crowd at the door, he entered the room, and
his eye immediately fell upon the youth accused, standing apparently
under arrest, between two of the servants. Hastily walking up to him,
Hassan fixed his searching gaze on the countenance of the youth and
said, “Kasem, tell me, by your life and by your father’s head, have you
committed this crime?”

“Wallah, I have not!” replied the youth, looking up in Hassan’s face
with a firm voice and clear, untroubled eye; “but our lord will not hear
nor listen: the sword has been stolen from my room, but who is the thief
is only known to Him to whom the absent is present.”

During this short dialogue the Pasha had continued, like an angry lion
in a cage, pacing up and down the upper end of the room as if “nursing
his wrath to keep it warm” by rapid motion as well as by curses and
threats; his eyes were inflamed, and his face red up to the very
temples. These violent bursts of passion, although of late less frequent
than of old, when they procured him his name of Delì (mad), were well
known to his followers and servants, and while they lasted none dared to
speak a word to him. Suddenly he stopped and shouted to the youth,
“Viper! son of a dog! wilt thou confess thy crime, and where thou hast
hid the sword?”

“My lord,” replied the youth in a humble yet sincere tone of voice, “I
have told you all I know: the sword has been stolen from my room—I know
not where it is.”

“Dog of a liar!” cried the Pasha in a still louder tone. “Take him away
and beat him till he confesses: give him three hundred on the feet, and
throw him into the dungeon. Away with him!”

With a hasty signal to the man who held the youth to delay a moment,
Hassan came forward, and, to the astonishment of all the household,
walking composedly to within a few feet of the Pasha, said to him—

“My lord, let me entreat you to have a little patience, and defer the
punishment of this youth; perhaps we may find the sword or discover the
thief.”

“And who are you?” cried the Pasha, astonished at this unwonted
audacity; “who are you that dare to offer me your unasked counsel, and
come between me and my revenge?”

“I am your servant Hassan, whom you have already loaded with favours,
and therefore it is that I love my lord so well that I wish his
displeasure rather than see him commit an act of injustice.”

“Begone,” roared the Pasha, “if you would not drive me mad. When that
imp of Satan has stolen a sword, the reward of my services and my blood,
am I to be told by an upstart like you that I may not punish him?”

“You may punish him, doubtless,” said Hassan calmly; “you may punish any
in your house, for you have the power: but if you do punish him now, and
after a few days we bring you the sword, or proof that it was stolen not
by him but by others—I know your generous heart—you will then suffer
tortures; you will curse this hour of hasty passion, and will say, ‘Had
I not one faithful servant to say to me, Do not stain your name with
this act of cruelty?’”

During this speech the rage of the Pasha had been burning with a fiercer
fire: to be thus lectured and reproved in the height of his fury by a
mere youth, and in the presence of all his household, was a trial to
which his fierce temper had never before been exposed. His lip grew
white, and his limbs literally trembled with concentrated passion.

“Son of a dog!” he cried, “if thou wilt not hold thy peace this shall
silence thee——”

As he spoke he drew his dagger from his shawl-sash and rushed at Hassan,
who was standing a few yards in front of him.

Hassan plainly saw the movement, and with his activity and gigantic
strength could easily have either sprung back a few feet and drawn his
sword or have wrested the dagger from the feebler hand of the Pasha, but
he saw before him only Amina’s father. Opening wide his arms, with a
calm, unblenching eye, he presented his broad chest to the descending
blade: it fell, but harmlessly over his shoulder, for the demon-spirit
had overpowered the frame which it possessed, and muttering, “Allah! I
cannot do it,” Delì Pasha staggered back a few paces, and would have
fallen to the ground had not Hassan caught him in his arms and borne him
gently to the divan whence he had so lately risen in the full tide of
excited passion.

All the attendants now crowded round the insensible form of their lord,
whom, by the order of Ahmed Aga and Hassan, they caused to be instantly
transported to the private apartments of the harem, while servants were
sent in all directions for the most skilful surgeon that could be found.
Not many minutes elapsed before the arrival of one possessed of some
skill and of presence of mind; blood was freely taken from the arm; soon
afterwards twenty or thirty leeches were applied to the back of the
neck, and before nightfall the symptoms that threatened a dangerous
brain fever had passed away.

Meanwhile Kasem was confined to his room and a guard placed at the door.
He was a general favourite, and none believed him guilty of the theft;
but as the sword had been in his custody, it was judged necessary to
keep him in confinement until some further light could be thrown on the
case, or the Pasha’s ulterior pleasure be ascertained.

In the course of two days, during which the invalid was tended by the
affectionate and unremitting care of Amina, the Pasha made rapid
progress towards recovery, but he observed a sullen and profound silence
as to the cause of his illness, neither did he issue any orders
respecting the punishment of Kasem; but all the circumstances were
already known throughout the harem, the eunuchs having gathered them
from the servants and repeated them, with various additions and
exaggerations, to the women under their charge. On one subject all the
reports agreed—namely, that Hassan had mortally offended his chief, and
that his dismissal was certain.

Meanwhile all the exertions made by Ahmed Aga, Hassan, and others to
trace the missing sword or discover the thief had been unavailing, until
on the third day Reschid, the favourite Mameluke of the Kiahia Pasha,
came to see his friend Hassan, and the smile on his countenance
announced that he had some good news to communicate.

“Hassan,” he said, “you may remember that on the evening of your Pasha’s
illness I was sent here to make inquiries after his health by my lord:
you told me about the missing sword which he so much valued. One was
brought to me for sale this morning by a Jew who resides in the farthest
part of Cairo, which formerly belonged, as he said, to Ibrahim Elfi, the
great Mameluke Bey. I doubt the story. Should you know your Pasha’s
sword if you saw it?”

“Yes,” replied Hassan eagerly, “for I have seen it more than once in the
hands of young Kasem when he was rubbing the blade to keep it bright. I
know the sword even if the scoundrel has picked the diamonds out of the
hilt.”

“Come, then, with me,” said his friend; “we have no time to lose, for I
told the Jew this morning that I was busy and had not leisure to bargain
with him then for the price, but that he might leave it till the _âs’r_
[3 P.M.], when he might return, and if we agreed on the price, I would
pay him the money.”

A short hour’s ride brought the two friends to the Kiahia’s palace,
where they dismounted and proceeded at once to Reschid’s room, in one
corner of which was a sword. Hassan drew the sword from its sheath and
exclaimed—

“Wallah! it is the same. See, near the hilt is a lion of inlaid gold,
and below the words Fath-min-Allah [Victory is from God]. But, as I
expected, the rascally Jew has taken the diamonds from the hilt and
replaced them by these strips of gold.”

“El-hamdu-lillah!” cried Reschid; “the character of poor young Kasem
will, I trust, now be cleared.”

The Jew having arrived at the appointed hour, was surprised to find
himself in the grip of Hassan, who threatened to shake the life out of
his body if he did not confess from whom he had got the sword. The
affrighted Jew, finding that denial was vain, owned that it had been
brought to him by a servant of Delì Pasha’s, named Youssuf, a few days
before, and that he had himself taken out the diamonds to prevent its
recognition. The two friends followed up the investigation with energy.
Under the wholesome discipline of the stick Youssuf confessed that he
had stolen the sword from Kasem’s room while he was in attendance on the
Pasha. The diamonds were immediately recovered and replaced. On the
fourth evening the sword was sent up into the harem by the chief eunuch
with the following note:—

    “HONOURED AND RESPECTED LORD,—The sword was stolen by the slave
    Youssuf while Kasem was waiting in your presence. This from your
    faithful and devoted

                                                            HASSAN.”

Delì Pasha had read this note aloud. When he had finished it, Amina
sprang up, and saying, “Allah be praised!” burst into tears of joy.

“Whence this strong emotion?” said he, surprised at her feeling so much
interest in the subject.

“Because,” she replied, while blushes mantled over her face and
neck—“because I knew how much you valued that sword.”

Oh, you little hypocrite, Amina!

Delì Pasha recovered slowly, and for several days never left his harem:
something seemed to weigh upon his mind, and all Amina’s caresses and
endearments were unable to restore his usual spirits. She could not
understand the cause of this melancholy, for his lost sword had been
recovered, the young Mameluke Kasem had been liberated by his order, and
Mohammed Ali had shown his regard for him and his appreciation of the
Arab mare Nebleh by sending an officer specially to inquire after his
health, and to present him with a diamond ring on the part of his
Highness, accompanied by a handsome sword for Ahmed Aga and a cashmere
shawl for Hassan.

By dint of coaxing she at length elicited from him that his proud spirit
was chafing at the humiliation to which he had been exposed by the
outbreak of his ungovernable temper before all his household, and that
exposure he most unjustly laid to the account of Hassan.

“My father,” she said as she sat at his feet, while his hand
unconsciously played with the dark, redundant tresses that fell over her
shoulders, “now that anger and illness have passed away, and that your
good health and judgment are returning, do you not see that what Hassan
did was done in fidelity and true service to you? Had he not spoken and
stayed you in a moment when wrath had clouded your reason, the poor
Mameluke would have been beaten nearly to death for a fault of which he
was innocent. What would then have been said of my father’s justice and
humanity? Now that all has terminated so happily, ought you not rather
to thank Hassan than to blame him?”

“I will thank him,” said her father, “for you speak truly; he deserves
it. But methinks you plead his cause with great earnestness, Amina.” As
he said these last words he looked fixedly at his daughter, who cast
down her eyes, deeply blushing.

“My father,” she replied timidly and with suppressed emotion, “you know
our proverb, ‘El-rghàib ma lehu nàib’ [The absent has no advocate], and
I have often heard from you that it is right to defend those who are
absent and who are unjustly blamed. You have yourself spoken to me of
the zeal, the courage, and good qualities of this Hassan, and I
therefore felt sure that it was from his devotion to you, and not from
insolence, that he spoke to you at a moment when your mind was not your
own, and thus prevented you from doing that which would have cost you
after-pain, in the experience of our saying, ‘Precipitation is from
Satan, but patience is the key of contentment.’ You are not angry with
me, are you, father?”

“Who could be angry with you, light of my eyes and treasure of my
heart?” exclaimed the old Pasha, kissing her forehead. “No, my child;
yet you know not what sufferings my mind has undergone. When one of
those fits of fury is upon me, if any one opposes or remonstrates with
me, I become mad. Hassan’s speech, though true, drove me to the extreme
of madness and to the verge of murder.” Here his voice became husky with
emotion. “Yes, Amina, I rushed at him with a drawn dagger; he never
stirred, but opened his breast to me. I was in the act of striking when
I met his large dark eye fixed upon me, not in fear, not in anger, but
in love—yes, Amina, it was a look he might have fixed upon his mother,
if he had one, poor youth! It conquered me! for the last thing that I
remember was, that I passed the weapon purposely beyond his shoulder;
but how he must hate—how he must despise me now!”

Amina’s tears gushed from between the fair fingers that vainly strove to
hide them. That her father should have been on the verge of murdering
the idol of her heart,—that he, in the pride of youth and strength,
should have bared his breast to the dagger rather than raise an arm
against her father,—these thoughts produced contending emotions of
horror and tenderness sufficient to overpower her self-control, and she
wept without interruption, for Delì Pasha himself was much overcome by
the feelings which he had just expressed.

At length she looked up, smiling through her tears, and said, “Father,
if he is brave and generous as you say, he will not hate you. Tell him
frankly the truth—that in a moment when your mind was overclouded by
anger you did him injustice—and he will love you, and you will love him,
better than before.”

“Inshallah! dear little prophetess, it shall be as you say, and,
Inshallah! this shall have been the last time that men shall say of Delì
Pasha that his passion blinded his eyes and overcame his reason.”

Here we may add that the future confirmed the strength of his
resolution. The mental shock which had followed this last outbreak was
never forgotten. When, a few days later, he left the harem, his first
act was to send for Hassan and to make the frank _amende_ suggested by
Amina. He read in the young man’s glowing eyes, as he kissed his lord’s
hand with an eagerness and devotion such as he had never before
exhibited, the truth of her prophecy that he should find himself not
hated or despised, but better loved than ever.

Little Kasem was reinstated in favour, and it need not be said that his
gratitude to Hassan was unbounded: neither will it excite surprise that
the influence of the latter in the household had been much increased by
the scene which they had so lately witnessed; for never before had they
seen any one successfully venture to brave the wrath of their
proverbially irascible chief.

Hassan spent the few days which yet remained before the migration of the
whole family to Siout in making the few arrangements which he had for
some time proposed. He sent off the eight horses taken from the
Sammalous, with a respectfully affectionate letter, to his
foster-father, accompanied by fitting presents to his foster-mother and
sister; he wrote also a grateful letter to his former patron, the Hadji
Ismael, in Alexandria, and another to his old friend the chief clerk. He
went then with Ahmed Aga to the village in Karioonbiah, armed with the
Pasha’s authority to appoint another _nazir_ and Sheik-el-Beled in the
place of the two scoundrels who had been detected and dismissed. When
they had made the best selection in their power, and arranged the
village accounts, they turned their horses’ heads again towards Cairo,
Ahmed Aga saying as they mounted—

“I suppose now we have made two more rogues, for the saying in the
country is, ‘If you want to find a match for the priest and the _câdi_,
you must go to the _nazir_ and the Sheik-el-Beled.’”

“I am glad that they omitted the _khaznadâr_ in the proverb,” said
Hassan, laughing.

“The _khaznadâr_ and the _mirakhor_,” replied his friend, “are bad
enough in general, but, as the Arabs say, they are ‘tied by a shorter
rope,’ and cannot eat so much of their neighbours’ corn.”

It was during the long ride from the village back to the city that
Hassan related, in confidence to his friend, some of the details of his
early life—the name that he had borne in his youth, and the mystery in
which his birth was still involved.

“It is very strange,” said Ahmed, who had mused in silence after Hassan
had finished his narrative. “I have lived in Cairo now many years, and
have known or heard the history of many families, high and low, yet I
cannot recall any occurrence similar to what you relate; neither can I
understand how it has come to pass that neither of your parents has ever
made inquiries after you among the Arabs in the neighbourhood.”

“That is easily explained,” said Hassan. “My father, who was probably a
soldier, may have been killed in battle, and my mother may never have
seen him since he carried me off an infant, probably to save my life: if
so, she may never have heard of my having been given into the charge of
a Bedouin woman.”

Hassan spoke these words in a tone so sad that to cheer him his friend
replied, “Inshallah! this knot will one day be untied by the Revealer of
Secrets,[93] whatever be the secret. I will swear by my life that your
father was a brave man and your mother a good woman; for you know the
proverb, ‘Grapes are not borne by the thistle-bush.’ Meanwhile, you must
comfort yourself by remembering the saying of the Persian sheik and poet
[Sâdi], ‘On the Day of Judgment Allah will not ask you who was your
father, but who are you, and what deeds have you done.’”

Conversing on this and other topics, the friends concluded their
journey, and were just re-entering Boulak about sunset, when, in passing
a narrow by-street at right angles to that in which they were riding,
Hassan saw at a little distance a figure in which, by the dress and
gait, he at once recognised the old woman who had inveigled him into the
house of the Khanum. Springing off his horse and giving it over to the
_sàis_, he requested Ahmed Aga to continue his way homeward with the
servants, promising to rejoin him shortly. Following the old woman until
she reached a part of the street where not a passenger was to be seen,
he quickened his step, and overtaking her, seized her by the arm and
said to her in a stern voice—

“Mother of evil, tell me at once who urged you to take me to that
house?”

The crone, trusting to the concealment of her thick veil, endeavoured at
first to persuade him that he was mistaken in the person whom he
addressed, but her voice only made him more sure than he had been
before: then she tried sundry kinds of subterfuges and falsehoods, until
his patience being exhausted, he exclaimed—

“Wallah! unless you tell me the truth, and that instantly, I will drag
you straight to the Kiahia Pasha, and tell your story to him: you well
know that in a few hours you will find yourself at the bottom of the
Nile.”

Under the terror of this threat she confessed that it was by Ferraj, the
servant of Osman Bey, that she had been induced to address him and to
introduce him to the house in question.

“Osman Bey!” said Hassan bitterly. “Well, I am his debtor; meanwhile do
you, if you value your life, hold your peace and begone. I owe you no
illwill. Wretched instrument of malice,” he muttered to himself as he
strode homeward, “thou art beneath my notice. What says our proverb,
‘The anger of the arrow-stricken man is kindled not against the bow but
against the archer.’ Osman Bey, we shall meet again, and, Inshallah!
with some weapon in our hands better than a jereed.”

Little did Hassan know, when he breathed this wish, how soon it would be
realised, and what an influence that meeting would have on his
after-destinies. When we see in life how often the blessings that we
pray for become, when granted, sources of misfortune, and the events
which we dread and deprecate result in our happiness, it seems an act of
folly, if not of impiety, to pray for earthly goods in any other form
than that of “Not my will, but thine be done.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

Most of our _dramatis personæ_ are now to be separated for a season. The
Thorpe family having finished their examination of the Pyramids, had
re-embarked on the Nile for Upper Egypt, and Delì Pasha’s preparations
for the journey to Siout were just completed. He himself, with his
official secretary, pipe-bearers, and the greater part of his household,
were embarked on board of a large dahabiah; a second of similar
dimensions, the cabin-windows of which were provided with damask
curtains within and venetian blinds without, was allotted to his harem,
with their eunuch attendants, and was ordered to remain always
immediately in the wake of the first; while Hassan and Ahmed, with a
score of armed followers, were to perform the journey along the banks of
the river on horseback, and to bivouac as a guard every night at
whatever place the boats might be made fast at sunset.[94]

All was ready for departure, and the harem was already embarked, when an
officer from the Viceroy came to Delì Pasha and told him that his
Highness wished him to remain a few days to attend a council on some
matters of importance. “He knows,” added the officer, “that you are on
the point of departure, and part of your family already embarked,
wherefore he desires that you will not take the trouble to detain them,
but let them go leisurely on their journey, retaining two or three
servants to attend upon you. When the council is over, his Highness will
give you a swift _canjah_ of his own, which will bring you to Siout as
soon as your large heavy dahabiahs.”

“On my head be it,” replied Delì Pasha. And having retained only a few
Mamelukes for the service of his wardrobe and chibouq, he desired his
own boats to go forward as originally designed, placing the
_kateb-es-serr_, or chief secretary (a quiet, respectable, and elderly
Turk), in charge of the leading dahabiah, and in command of those whom
she contained. To Ahmed Aga and Hassan he said, “I know that I can trust
my boats and harem to your vigilance at night; there are many thieves in
Upper Egypt, so you must not indulge in more than a hare’s sleep.”[95]

Under these instructions the dahabiahs started on their voyage
northward, and pursued it without accident or interruption until they
reached a point of the river not more than twenty miles below Siout.
Night was coming on, a strong gale of wind from the eastward had set in,
which, in spite of all the exertions of the pilots and sailors, drove
the dahabiahs against the west bank of the Nile, where the current was
running with terrific violence, and the waves dashed over the low sides
of the boats.

Fearful of being carried down by the stream, the _ràises_ ordered the
men to jump out ashore and make fast the boats with the anchors, and
also by ropes passed round sharp staves driven into the ground. With the
leading boat the manœuvre succeeded, and she was brought to in a bight
of the bank, where she was in comparatively smooth and sheltered water;
but the boat containing the harem broke from her moorings, and in spite
of all the exertions of her crew hauling on her from the shore, she was
carried some way along the rough and jagged bank, thereby scraping off
her cabin paint and terrifying the timid inmates.

Suddenly she came against some broken timbers of an old disused _sakìah_
or water-wheel, which smashed in all the cabin windows on the land side,
shivering in pieces the Venetian blinds and tearing the damask curtains
in shreds. Immediately all was panic on board the boat, and the
affrighted eunuchs and women, thinking that the cabin would be flooded,
rushed on to the upper deck, which was entirely deserted by the crew,
who were busily employed forward in endeavouring to bring the boat to.
All were pulling, and hauling, and shouting, and ordering; but no one
was listening or obeying. The consequence was that their exertions,
without direction or unity, were fruitless, and the boat continued to
drift down, still grating her sides against the high and jagged bank.

Among the affrighted women assembled on what we may call the poop, Amina
and her faithful Fatimeh had withdrawn quite to the stern of the boat,
the place usually occupied by the steersman, where the former sat
herself down on a hen-coop and looked out in terror on the dark and
turbid waters, when suddenly the tiller, which had been left unsecured,
swept across the deck with such force that it threw Amina and her
hen-coop overboard, at the same time knocking down and stunning Fatimeh
Khanum, who fell against the low railing that surrounds the poop.

At the time Hassan and Ahmed Aga were some hundred yards astern of the
boats, followed by their own men and by a dozen fellahs whom they had
brought from the nearest village as night-watchers. Hearing the shouts
and cries ahead, they conjectured that some accident had happened,
though they could not see any distant object, as the dusk of evening was
darkened by a gloomy sky and the dust borne on the wings of the angry
blast. Suddenly a faint cry from the water reached the ear of Hassan,
and turning his eyes in the direction whence it came, he thought he
descried something like drapery hurried along by the current about fifty
yards from the shore.

Quick as thought he sprang from his horse, cast his cloak on the ground,
threw his pistols on it, and crying to Ahmed, “Wallah! there is a woman
or child drowning,” plunged head-foremost into the dark and boiling
waters.

Ahmed Aga, who had seen no object in the water and heard no cry, thought
that his young friend must be mad. Nevertheless, he could not help
admiring the daring gallantry which prompted him to brave the roaring
rushing waters on such a night with the hope of rescuing a
fellow-creature, but he had no time left for musing, for the cries and
shouts continued to rise from the dahabiah, and his duty bade him hasten
thither without delay.

Ordering one of his men to secure Hassan’s horse, cloak, and pistols, he
went forward, and by the aid of his own presence of mind, and the force
that he brought with him, succeeded at last in securing the dahabiah to
the bank. It was not until order was somewhat restored, and the eunuchs
went up on the poop to reconduct the ladies and women slaves to the
cabin, that they found Fatimeh Khanum lying half-stunned, and her head
still confused by the blow from the tiller. Amina was nowhere to be
found. The cries and confusion thence ensuing can be more easily
imagined than described.

To return to Hassan. No sooner did he rise to the surface from his
plunge than he swam down the stream with all his might, looking on both
sides, and calling aloud as he went. For some time his humane endeavours
met with no success, but at length, in answer to his call, a faint cry
caught his ear. Striking out in that direction, he came up with a
hen-coop made of palm-sticks, and over it he could distinguish female
drapery.

“Take courage! take courage! I am here to help,” he shouted aloud; and
as he neared the hen-coop he heard his own name faintly uttered.

Who can paint the tumultuous rush of feelings as he recognised the voice
of his idolised Amina—feelings compared to the moral force and
impetuosity of which the rushing and turbid waters of the Nile were calm
as a mill-pond. Terror, pity, joy, love,—all were poured into the
thrilling tone in which he called aloud her name. “Fear not, my
beloved,” he continued; “you are now safe. Your arm over the hen-coop;
your chin resting on your arm, my love. Hold fast to it, and do not
speak; keep your sweet mouth shut, or these rough and angry waters might
choke you. Thus, my love; my arm is close to you, so you have nothing to
fear; I will guide the hen-coop towards the bank.”

The tender and cheering tone in which he spoke as he swam beside her
giving her these instructions, placing her hand himself on the centre
and most buoyant part of the hen-coop, inspired the courageous girl with
hope and confidence. Hitherto she had clung to her frail cage-support
with the grasp of despair, and more than once the cold, and the water
that had forced its way into her lips, eyes, and nostrils, had almost
compelled her to let go her hold. But now she felt herself possessed of
new life, and such was her confidence in Hassan’s skill, courage, and
devotion, she felt that with him beside her, whether in mid-ocean or
mid-desert, she could know no fear. At the worst, to die in his arms
would be bliss far beyond life without him. She now proved her own high
courage by obeying implicitly his directions without uttering a word.

Hassan had noted in his evening ride that for some miles below the bank
which he had left was high and precipitous; he well knew, therefore,
that the opposite bank would be shelving, and the current less
strong.[96] This consideration compelled him to push the hen-coop before
him to the opposite bank, the first object being to get Amina out of the
water as soon as possible. This he accordingly did, though, much to her
surprise, he kept talking loudly all the time, splashing and making as
much noise as he could with hands and feet.[97]

He thus succeeded in bringing his fair charge safely ashore, and
opposite the point where he landed he descried a faintly-glimmering
light, like that of a nearly extinguished fire. His first care was to
wring the water from her drenched clothes, then casting off his own
jacket and wringing it, he threw it over her shoulders to shelter her
from the cold and biting wind.

Seeing that she was too much exhausted to walk, he lifted her gently in
his arms and carried her towards the dim light. On reaching it he found
that it proceeded from the dying embers of a fire which had been made in
front of a small hut such as are often constructed in Egypt by shepherds
or fishermen for temporary shelter. It was unoccupied, though he
surmised that the tenant could not be far distant, as he perceived in
one corner of it a striped blanket (such as is used by the fellahs in
winter), and on it the owner’s _nabout_ or cudgel.

“El-hamdu-lillah! Praise be to Allah!” said he, as he possessed himself
of these invaluable treasures; and in another moment he had wrapped
Amina from head to foot in the blanket, and laid her gently in the
corner of the hut.

Then he ventured to ask her how she felt.

“Faint and very cold, dear Hassan,” was the gently murmured reply; for,
notwithstanding her delicate nurture, the brave girl’s spirit had
sustained her so long as the danger endured, but now the reaction had
come, and with it exhaustion, which seemed to deprive her of all bodily
and mental energy.

“Patience,” whispered Hassan; “this blanket will soon make you warm.
Meantime I will see if there be wood or dry weeds to restore this dead
fire.” With the staff in hand he went round and round the hut, but his
search was fruitless. He lay down, and, putting his ear to the ground,
thought he could distinguish some sound: he crept quietly up to the top
of a bank at a distance from the water, and could descry, about a mile
inland, a large fire and some tents.

“Dry clothes and some warm drink she must have,” he said to himself,
“and there is no time to lose. I know not what men these may be, but the
risk must be incurred.” He felt his girdle, and to his great joy found
that his dagger was safe in its place: he then returned to the hut and
asked Amina if she felt herself sufficiently recovered to go to some
tents and a fire not far off.

“Let me die here,” she murmured; “you have saved me from those cold and
rushing waters. Let me go to sleep here, Hassan, while you sing to me.
Sleep, sleep.”

Hassan saw that her mind was overpowered by exhaustion, but he so much
feared the effect of the wet clothing on her delicately nurtured frame
that he decided to reach the fire with as little delay as possible.

“Light of my eyes!” he said, sitting down beside her, “Hassan lives only
to serve you, and were it safe I would sing you to sleep and watch at
your door while you rest, but danger and pain would follow, unless you
can reach the warmth of the fire.”

“Where is the fire?” said Amina, trying to shake off the lethargy that
threatened to overpower all her faculties.

“It is not far,” he replied; “if you will come, I will soon carry you
there, and you can sleep as you go.”

“I will do whatever you say,” murmured the exhausted girl, whose ideas
were still so confused that she knew not what she said. “Let us go to
Boulak, and there you shall sing to me, and I will not tell anybody
except Fatimeh how I love you; but do not let us go into that cold water
again.”

Sweet to Hassan’s ear were some of these words, though spoken in
half-unconsciousness; but his first thought now being to convey Amina to
the fire, he grasped the staff in his hand, and carefully wrapping the
blanket around her so that nothing but her face was exposed to the
night-air, he lifted her gently in his arms.

The motion, together with the warmth of the blanket, restored her
scattered senses, and also the circulation of her young blood, which had
been chilled by long immersion in the water. Who shall tell what were
her sensations as she found herself thus tenderly borne along by her
devoted lover, or what were those of Hassan when, from the position of
her head, he felt her warm breath upon his glowing cheek? When Hassan
arrived within three or four hundred yards of the fire he could perceive
that it was in the midst of an Arab encampment, containing at least a
dozen tents.

As he had passed over the tract near the river, which was overgrown with
_khalfah_ (brushwood and rushes), and had reached an open tract of
smooth ground, he knew that his approach would ere long be descried, and
judged that, to prevent being mistaken for a lurking enemy, his wisest
course would be to make it known by calling aloud. Having gently lowered
Amina’s feet to the ground, and in reply to his inquiry having
ascertained that she was sufficiently recovered to walk, he readjusted
the blanket so as to cover her head and leave her the use of her feet.

“Honoured and beloved, light of my eyes,” he whispered, “Allah knows
whether we shall find friends or enemies in these Arabs: at all events,
their watch-dogs are likely to be troublesome. I will try to move these
men by words of friendship, but if they prove thieves and treacherous,
we must trust to Allah. Do you remain close behind me, and leave me the
free use of my arms.” (As he said this he grasped the cudgel in his
right and the dagger in his left hand.) “Before they shall offer you
insult or injury, they must tear me limb from limb,” he added. “It will
perhaps be safer and better if among these people you pass for
my—sister.”

A blush came over her face, for she knew that another and dearer name
had rushed to his lips and been checked in utterance.

“Hassan,” she said, looking up into his eyes with the full confidence of
a first and guileless affection, “to you I owe my life and all that
makes life dear; how then can I refuse to do your bidding? for I swear
by the memory of my sainted mother, on whose ashes be peace, that never
did sister love a brother as——” Here she hesitated, fearful that she had
said too much. How she would have finished the sentence we know not, for
Hassan, stooping fondly over the sweet upturned face, now lighted by a
moonbeam that struggled through the angry, flitting clouds, caught on
his trembling lips the murmured confession that was denied to his ear.
It was the first kiss of mutual love, and wet and cold and danger were
awhile forgotten. Gently withdrawing herself from his fond embrace, she
added, “Hassan, in dealing with the people of these tents, be they bad
or good, curb your daring courage, and be cautious of your life for my
sake.”

“Blessed treasure of my heart, I will do as you desire: I will be
patient and gentle as a lamb with them unless they offer you insult, and
then—— But no; if they are Arabs[98] they will respect the law of
hospitality.”

So saying, he advanced from the shade of the copse directly towards the
tents. Scarcely had they proceeded one hundred yards when, as he had
expected, the watch-dogs began to bark, and two or three dusky figures
were seen to move about near the fire: continuing his progress steadily
until he came within hail, he shouted aloud at the full pitch of his
powerful voice, “Brother Arabs, strangers in distress demand
hospitality.”

The encampment was now all astir; dogs rushed out, followed by their
masters armed with spears. Hassan again repeated the same shout, and the
men were seen driving back the dogs and advancing to meet him. To the
first who came up he said—

“Brothers, we have seen trouble; my sister has fallen into the Nile and
is half-perished with cold; if you have a sheik or chief, bring me
before him.”

With the brief reply of “You are welcome,” they conducted him and his
timid companion to the largest tent of the encampment, before which the
well-fed fire was blazing: the owner came forth to meet his guest, when
at the same instant the words “Abou-Hamedi” and “Hassan” broke from
their respective lips. It was the Damanhour Arab, formerly rescued by
Hassan, on whose encampment he had thus unexpectedly fallen, and, to the
astonishment of Amina the Arab’s wife and sister rushed out of their
tent and crowded round her lover, kissing his hand and calling him
brother and preserver.

A few words sufficed to explain the condition of Hassan and Amina, and
in a few minutes the latter was in the recesses of the harem-tent,
covered with dry clothes, rubbed until she was in a glow of warmth, and
drinking a bowl of hot fresh milk sweetened with honey. Hassan fared no
less hospitably with his host, and they related to each other their
adventures over a pipe and coffee.

Whilst Hassan warmed himself by the fire he exchanged a recital of
adventures with Abou-Hamedi. Those of the latter were not of a character
to raise him in the estimation of the citizens of a civilised state,
although they were far from being degrading in the eyes of an Arab, for
he had become a leading member of a band of freebooters who had lately
exercised their vocation with no little success in the province of
Siout.

They were mostly Arabs from the interior of the Tunis and Tripoli
deserts, who, having performed the pilgrimage to Mecca by way of Keneh
and Cosseir, left the caravan on its return and levied blackmail on the
villages of the left banks of the river in Upper Egypt. In order to
avoid suspicion, Abou-Hamedi had located his family, and a few others of
the Gemàat tribe who had accompanied him from Damanhour, on the spot
where they were now encamped, on the right or eastern bank of the river,
where they cultivated a small tract of ground, and passed for
industrious, inoffensive people, as indeed they were, with the exception
of Abou-Hamedi himself, whose notions of _meum_ and _tuum_ were somewhat
indistinct, and who had “exchanged horses,” as he termed it, with a rich
merchant of Siout. This exchange had been effected by the simple
presentation of a pistol at the head of the latter in an unfrequented
spot; and although Abou-Hamedi had obtained a fleet and powerful horse
in exchange for a sorry, broken-down nag, he was so ill-satisfied with
the bargain that he had politely compelled the Siout merchant to throw
in his purse as compensation.

All this he detailed with imperturbable gravity to Hassan, adding that
he and his companions always carried on their plundering expeditions on
the other side of the river, so that his encampment was undisturbed and
unsuspected. The band met at certain intervals and by preconcerted
signals; when he joined them it was by night; and among his talents one
of the most remarkable was his power of disguising himself in such a
manner that the roving freebooter of the left bank and the peaceable
fellah of the right were never suspected to be one and the same person.

Hassan was much amused by his adventures, and was pleased to find that
in the rough breast of his lawless host there existed towards himself a
feeling of gratitude and devotion that he had not expected to find: the
latter even pulled a leathern purse from his girdle and proposed to
repay a portion of the money advanced by Hassan for his liberation; but
to this he would not consent, saying, with a smile, “Not now, my
brother; I promised you that when I required it I would ask you for it.
You have a family, and I have none; keep the money, therefore, until I
ask you for it. Let us now talk of other things. Do you know whose are
those two boats which lately passed?”

“Well do I know,” replied the Arab. “They are the dahabiahs of the new
Governor of Siout, Delì Pasha.”

“True,” replied Hassan, “and I am in his service. My sister, now in your
tents, is in the Pasha’s harem: she fell overboard in the storm, and
they must think her drowned. As they must all be now searching, and
weeping and wailing, is it possible to convey her to the dahabiah
to-night, or must I go to inform them of her being safe here?”

“It is quite possible,” said Abou-Hamedi, “if she be not too feeble and
tired from having been so long in the water: we have several donkeys
here with saddles, and there is a good path to the ferry just above the
place where the boats are made fast for the night.”

By Hassan’s desire the Arab’s wife was then called, and desired to
inquire whether Amina felt herself sufficiently recovered to ride to the
ferry. An affirmative answer being eagerly returned, the donkeys were
soon caught and saddled, and the party ready for departure.

“I will not go with you myself,” said Abou-Hamedi aside to Hassan. “It
is better that none of the Governor’s people should see my face.”

“I understand,” replied Hassan, laughing; “and if I meet you in Siout, I
will take care not to know you; but as my sister is young, and
unaccustomed to the presence of men, I wish you could let one of your
harem go with her to the boats.”

The wife and sister of Abou-Hamedi had anticipated the wish. No service
that they could render seemed to them sufficient to repay their
obligation to Hassan; and the extraordinary beauty of Amina, together
with the gentle gratitude which she had shown for their attentions, had
so won their affections that they determined not to leave her until they
had seen her safely deposited in the harem. They now appeared at the
door of their tent ready for their night journey, Amina clad from head
to foot in the warmest clothes they possessed, her own wet suit wrapped
in a bundle and intrusted to one of the three young Arabs selected to
guide the party to the ferry, while one ran on before to rouse up the
ferryman and to get ready his boat. The easiest-paced donkey was
assigned to Amina, and Hassan walked beside her, his arm ever ready to
support her in case of the animal stumbling over the dimly-seen bushes
or earth-clods that might obstruct the path.

What a delicious hour for the lovers. Amina, now warmly clad and free
from all alarm, recalled to mind the brief and thrilling moments in
which she had exchanged with Hassan the confession of their mutual love;
and as they spoke together in Turkish, which none of the party but
themselves understood, they renewed the same sweet confession in a
thousand forms of tenderness, such as love alone can invent, and in
which love alone finds no satiety.

“I am very jealous,” said Amina, while the little hand that trustfully
reposed in his belied her words. “Do you know, Hassan, that these Arab
women, both of whom are young, and one of them very comely, have done
nothing but talk to me of my brother’s amiability and generosity? They
say that their service, their lives, all that they have, are at your
disposal. When and how did you steal away their hearts, Hassan?”

“Perhaps they told you,” he replied, “of a service which I rendered to
the family, and their gratitude overrates its extent. They have kind
hearts, I believe, and this is the custom of kind hearts. Look at
yourself, sweet light of my eyes; you have filled my lonely heart with a
joy it never knew before—you have quenched its burning thirst; from the
Keswer of your love you have turned the night of my destiny into the
sunshine of noon; you have bestowed on a humble _aga_, of unknown birth,
who has nought but his truth and his sword, a treasure which the highest
and the wealthiest in the land would be proud to solicit; and yet it is
scarce an hour since you, teller of sweet untruths, said that you were
my debtor.”

“Is life and all that makes it dear no debt, Hassan?” replied Amina.

“If you will have it so,” said Hassan, smiling, “you shall be my debtor,
as the earth is debtor to the showery cloud, and repays it with a
thousand fruits and flowers delicious to the taste. Yet, sweet light of
my eyes, forget not that again our separation is at hand: at Siout you
will be shut up in the harem, offers of marriage from the great and the
rich will be made to your father, he will urge you to consent—how can
you resist his will?”

“Hassan,” replied Amina, with a firmness and solemnity of which he had
scarcely thought her capable, “I love my father, and it would grieve me
to disobey him, but Allah is greater than he. I have sworn, and I repeat
the vow, by your mother’s head, that neither force nor entreaty shall
induce me to marry another. If destiny forbids our union, I can die.”

“Allah forbid!” said Hassan, pressing her hand to his lips. “Destiny
will not be so cruel. But tell me, as it seems to me necessary to my
life that I should sometimes see your blessed face, even if it be for a
moment and afar off—tell me, do you know the cry of the wit-wat?”[99]

“I believe not,” said Amina, laughing. “Why do you ask?”

Turning aside his head for a moment, he imitated the cry of the bird so
exactly that the most experienced fowler would have thought that a
curlew had just passed by.

“Be it my task,” he said, “to find out the window of your apartment.
When you hear that cry after sunset you will know that your wit-wat is
watching below it for a glance from those loved eyes, or a word from
that tongue which is more musical than ‘the bird of a thousand
songs.’”[100]

Thus discoursing they reached the ferry, and crossed it without
accident. On approaching the spot on the opposite bank where the
dahabiahs had come-to for the night, they could see by the number of
moving lights and figures on the bank that all the party was still astir
and in unwonted agitation. One of the Arab youths who had accompanied
our hero and his fair charge ran forward at full speed until he reached
the boats, where he shouted at the top of his voice, “The Khanum is
safe; Hassan has drawn her out of the river. They are coming.”

The news spread with the rapidity of lightning. Men and women, masters
and servants, all crowded forward to greet the advancing party; and
Amina, on dismounting from her donkey, found herself in the arms of her
beloved Fatimeh, who had been nearly deprived of reason by the supposed
loss of her young mistress, whom she loved like a daughter.

The Arab women who accompanied her, and whose kind and hospitable
attentions to her wants she explained, were taken into the harem cabin
and so loaded with kisses, caresses, and presents that they began to
think that Amina must be a daughter of Mohammed Ali himself, that her
recovery should be attended with such extraordinary and generous
demonstrations; nor were the Arabs without entertained with less
hospitable warmth.

As for Hassan, the eunuchs of the harem crowded round him to kiss his
hand, and the tears of the faithful creatures bore testimony to the
attachment which they felt towards their young mistress, whose life he
had saved. Neither on board nor on the bank was there any thought of
sleep that night. The tale of Amina’s miraculous escape was repeated
from mouth to mouth, with a score of variations and exaggerations, by
groups assembled around blazing fires on the bank, while interminable
pipes and coffee beguiled the hours of night.

Hassan contrived ere long to withdraw from these wonder-loving circles
to a spot where he was able to enjoy in quiet the hearty congratulations
of Ahmed Aga, and one or two others of his intimate companions.

On the following morning the Arab party returned to their encampment,
loaded with presents forced upon them by the generosity of the Pasha’s
major-domo and the ladies of the harem, while the dahabiahs pursued
their course without accident or interruption to Siout.

The official residence assigned to the Governor was a large and
tolerably convenient house, which had been built not many years before
by order of Ibrahim Pasha, at the northern extremity of the town. The
front looked upon an open square or _meidàn_, where the troops were
paraded; while the back, occupied by the harem, was surrounded by
gardens in which orange, lemon, and pomegranate trees flourished in
considerable abundance.

Love, though proverbially blind to danger and to consequences, is
quick-sighted and quick-witted. Thus not many days had elapsed ere the
cry of the wit-wat was heard under one of the windows that looked upon
the garden; the casement was cautiously half-opened, and the lovers
enjoyed a few moments of stolen conversation, which, for fear of being
overheard, they carried on chiefly by signs and glances, or as the Arab
distich has it—

 “Walls have ears, and rivals are ever on the watch.
 Our tongues were silent; but our eyes mutually spoke, and were
    understood.”

Notwithstanding these precautions, it unfortunately happened that one
evening a gardener, who had remained beyond the usual hours of labour,
saw Hassan spring over the wall at the bottom of the garden. Impelled by
curiosity, he watched our hero’s movements, heard his signal, and saw a
window in the harem half-opened, partially disclosing a woman’s form, to
whom Hassan addressed a few words in an impassioned undertone.

No sooner was the casement reclosed and Hassan had retired from the
garden than the gardener emerged from his hiding-place, and, in the
anticipation of a good reward, hastened to communicate what he had seen
to Ferraj, the confidential servant of Osman Bey, the deputy-governor,
with whom he, the gardener, happened to be acquainted.

Ferraj being the unworthy pander to his master’s passions in sensuality
as in revenge, and who instinctively knew the hatred which he bore to
Hassan, hastened to impart to his chief the information he had received.
A grim smile passed over the features of Osman Bey. He had already heard
of Amina’s rescue by the devoted courage of Hassan, and easily divined
the object which led him to the garden. He anticipated, therefore, the
double satisfaction of punishing a man whom he hated for an infraction
of the sanctity of the harem, and of wounding by publicity the tenderest
feelings of Delì Pasha, whom he both feared and disliked.

“Take with you,” he said, “three stout fellows and conceal yourselves in
the garden after sunset, according to the directions given you by the
gardener; repeat this every evening until you find this insolent
harem-breaker. Have with you a large cloak and some cord; while he is
looking up at the window throw the cloak over him and bind him fast, for
the fellow is strong and active as a wild ox,[101] and might otherwise
escape. When you have got him, bring him straightway before me.”

These instructions were only too punctually executed, and two or three
evenings after, just as Hassan had reached the spot from which he gave
his accustomed signal, and was watching for the opening of the casement,
a large blanket was thrown over his head from behind, and, before he
could extricate his limbs from its folds, he was thrown to the ground
and bound hand and foot. In this condition he was carried before Osman
Bey, who, in order to make his crime as public as possible, summoned
Ahmed Aga and all the chief officers of Delì Pasha’s household to attend
the investigation.

The news spread like wildfire throughout the palace and the neighbouring
houses, so that in less than an hour the Bey’s divan was crowded with
wondering spectators. Investigation was scarcely required, for the
evidence was clear; the culprit had been taken in the forbidden
precincts. The gardener swore to the fact of the casement having been
twice opened, and that a woman appearing there had held communication
with the prisoner; while the eunuchs of the harem, when interrogated,
could not deny that the casement in question belonged to the Lady
Amina’s private apartment.

Osman Bey, cloaking his revengeful hatred towards Hassan under a
semblance of zeal for the Pasha’s honour, ordered a pair of iron
manacles to be fixed on the prisoner’s wrists, and then having caused
the cords and blanket in which he had been bound to be removed, ordered
him to stand up and state what he had to say in his defence.

Hassan, drawing himself proudly up to his full height, and darting on
Osman Bey a glance of withering scorn, replied in a loud voice, “Delì
Pasha is father of the lady and Governor of the province; for him I
reserve what I have to say: to you I shall give no reply.”

“Take him to the guard-house prison,” cried Osman Bey in a fury; “we
will see if that insolent tongue will not find another kind of speech
to-morrow. Let four soldiers with loaded pistols attend him to prison
and watch at the door: if he escapes, their lives shall answer for it.”

After Hassan had been removed in obedience to this order, Osman Bey
remained for some time in consultation with the commander of the troops
and other officers respecting the punishment to be inflicted on Hassan.
Ahmed Aga lingered among these, and in order to disarm the
Vice-Governor’s suspicions of his sentiments towards the prisoner, he
was loud in his condemnation of the offence, although he took no part in
the discussion that arose regarding the punishment.

Osman Aga declared that the honour of the Pasha required it to be both
prompt and severe, so as to deter others from invading the sanctity of
his harem, and before the consultation closed he avowed his
determination to have Hassan publicly beaten on the following morning in
the open _meidàn_ in front of the palace, and be afterwards reconveyed
to prison to await Delì Pasha’s arrival. Ahmed Aga, who well knew that
all opposition to a decision based on motives of personal revenge and
hatred would be fruitless, feigned acquiescence in its justice, and
suggested to the Governor that it would be improper that the prisoner
should be confined and punished in the dress of _khaznadâr_ to the
Pasha: he proposed, therefore, that he should be authorised to see him
deprived of his household dress and arms, and that he should be clad in
a costume more befitting his disgraced position.

To this Osman Bey, willingly assenting, gave an order that the prison
should be opened to Ahmed Aga to allow him to make the change; but he
knew so well Hassan’s popularity in the Pasha’s household, that he
intrusted the custody of the prisoner, both in prison and at the place
of punishment, solely to his own followers and to the soldiers now under
his orders as Vice-Governor.

Ahmed Aga, having provided himself with a suit of clothes such as was
worn by the humbler attendants of the Pasha, proceeded in company with
two of Osman Bey’s followers to the prison, and being aware that his
every word and gesture would be closely watched and reported, he
affected a tone of the greatest harshness in addressing the prisoner.

Hassan, to whom his secret motives were unknown, was more hurt at the
conduct of his former friend than he could have been by any indignity
inflicted on him by the spite of Osman Bey. Had he known Latin and
history, he might have ejaculated, “_Et tu, Brute!_” but as it was, he
observed a proud and haughty silence while delivering over his
_khaznadâr_ dress, together with his shawl-girdle, purse, and dagger, of
all of which Ahmed Aga took possession. Scanning with a rapid glance the
walls and dimensions of the prison, Ahmed Aga noticed that it was
lighted only by one small aperture, so high that escape was impossible;
and he had already heard the orders given to the sentries who paced
before the door with loaded pistols, and who knew that their lives were
made answerable for the prisoner’s safety.

“Give him bread and water,” said he to the guards, “and let him have a
light burning in the cell; it may be useful if you want to look in at
any hour before morning to see what he is doing. He is a desperate
fellow; beware, my men, that you do not let him escape.”

“You may trust us for that,” they replied gruffly, “as we have no wish
to take his place or share his punishment.”

Poor Hassan made his solitary bread-and-water meal with the proud
stoicism of a Bedouin, though his heart bled at the apparently hopeless
issue of his love and the treacherous ingratitude of Ahmed Aga.

The early hours of the night had passed, and he was just about to lose a
sense of his troubles and dangers in sleep, when he was aroused by
seeing something drop near his feet, which had evidently been thrown in
at the aperture in the wall. Reaching out his manacled hand, he found it
to be a lump of clay, to which was attached a note containing a small
file and the following words:—


“LIGHT OF MY EYES, BELOVED FRIEND,—Your condition is very perilous; all
I could do I have done. Osman Aga swears you shall be publicly beaten
to-morrow, and he will keep his oath. The place will be the wooden
pillar in the middle of the _meidàn_; if you try to escape before you
reach it you will be killed, according to his orders. The cords by which
they tie you will be rotten; with the file you can cut nearly through
one of the manacles near the wrist, where the cut will not be seen, and
you may then break them with a sudden effort. Immediately in front of
the post will sit the Bey, and behind him you will see a large clump of
date-trees, at the back of which is a ruined sheik’s tomb, where you
will find your clothes, your arms, and your horse ready saddled; if you
have courage and fortune to reach that spot you are safe. You must turn
northward behind the date-trees, and I will direct the pursuit westwards
toward the desert. Allah bless you. I have been obliged to seem your
enemy to obtain the means of serving you, but Hassan knows the truth of
this heart and hand.”


“I should have known and trusted,” said Hassan, pacing up and down his
cell in agitation; “but I doubted thee, Ahmed, and am unworthy of thy
friendship.”

After giving himself up awhile to these thoughts, he reverted to the
letter. “Beaten!” he said, while he crushed the paper in his gyved hand.
“I, Hassan, the Child of the Pyramid, whose lance has emptied the
saddles of warriors; I, the betrothed of Amina, to be exposed in the
_meidàn_ and beaten like a thief or a slave—by Allah! rather will I die
ten thousand deaths.” He cast his eye scornfully down on the rusty
manacles that fettered his wrists. “Fools,” said he, “to think that the
hands of Hassan could be held by brittle toys like these! The intention
of Ahmed in sending me the file was friendly, and it may yet be needed,
but not now. The slaves might examine these chains before leading me
out, and my escape be thus rendered impossible.”

So saying, he hid the file in the folds of a linen girdle that supported
his _serwal_ (or drawers), and having carefully reperused Ahmed’s letter
so as to fix it firmly in his memory, he tore it piecemeal and buried it
in the dust in a corner of his cell, so that in case he should fall in
his attempted escape there might not be found anything to compromise his
friend.

Having made these preparations and recited his evening prayer, he lay
down and slept soundly till he was awakened by the drawing of the bolts
of the prison-door, and the entrance of half-a-dozen armed men appointed
to conduct him to the place of punishment.

In obedience to their orders, before leaving the prison they examined
the manacles, which Hassan held up to their inspection with an air of
good-humoured confidence, which, together with his noble and
distinguished mien, impressed the rough fellows in his favour.

They were strangers to him personally, but they thought it a pity that
so handsome a youth should be subjected to a degrading punishment for
speaking a few words in the garden beneath the window of a Khanum whose
life he had saved only a few days before. However, they knew Osman Bey’s
character, and dared not disobey his orders, so they marched their
prisoner to the appointed spot, where a man stood ready to tie his hands
to the post mentioned in Ahmed’s letter.

While performing this office, his back being turned to the Bey, a single
wink of the eye sufficed to show to Hassan that he was a friend, and
that the cord was either half-cut or rotten. Osman Bey sat on a
cushioned carpet smoking his chibouq, some of the officers of his
household standing on either side, while behind him Hassan recognised
many friendly faces of Delì Pasha’s attendants, on which sympathy and
indignation were legibly written: beyond these again he noticed the
palm-grove, where his horse and liberty awaited him if he could escape
from stab or bullet on the way. The attempt seemed desperate; yet,
although Hassan had resolved to risk it, none could read any agitation
or emotion in that calm, proud eye, which, after surveying the
surrounding crowd, rested its scornful glance on the Vice-Governor.

“Osman Bey,” said Hassan in a loud, firm voice that was heard by all
present, “I warn you to desist from this unjust punishment. I have
appealed to Delì Pasha; it is he alone who should judge his own
_khaznadâr_.”

“Dog!” replied Osman Bey, “dost thou teach me my duties and my powers?
Am I not Governor till Delì Pasha arrives; and shall I not punish a
scoundrel who dares to invade his harem? I will have thy back beaten
till thou canst not speak, and I will leave thy feet for Delì Pasha to
beat till thou canst not stand. Slaves,” he continued, addressing two
men armed with sticks who had silently taken their places on each side
of the prisoner, “strike! and if you do not lay it soundly on, by my
head you shall taste the stick yourselves.”

Even as he ceased speaking the fall of a heavy blow on Hassan’s back
sounded over the _meidàn_, and an involuntary groan burst from many of
his former comrades in the Pasha’s household. Uttering the single word
“Allah!” in a voice of thunder, Hassan burst the cord that bound his
hands to the post, and dashing them apart with the full power of his
gigantic strength, the rusted manacles snapped like whipcord: a single
bound brought him to the side of the astonished Bey, who had scarcely
time to take the pipe from his mouth ere he received from the iron chain
still hanging from Hassan’s right hand a blow which broke his nose and
deluged his face in blood. Without turning even to give him a look,
Hassan dashed impetuously forward, brandishing a sword that he had
snatched from the Bey’s nearest attendant. Some made way for him
apparently paralysed by fear or surprise, some doubtless from secret
friendship, so that, here and there parrying a random cut or thrust, he
succeeded in gaining the palm-grove.

Such was Hassan’s extraordinary fleetness of foot that he had distanced
all pursuers when the Bey, rising from the ground and holding a
handkerchief to his bleeding face, roared aloud in fury to his
_kawàsses_ and Bashi-Bazouks to mount in pursuit. “A hundred purses to
any one who takes him dead or alive!”

It may well be believed that a reward of such unheard of magnitude sent
many of the greedy soldiers to their saddles with all possible speed.

Hassan meanwhile sped his way to the sheik’s tomb, beneath which he
found a friendly young Mameluke of the Pasha’s mounted and holding
Shèitan by the bridle.

“Quick, quick!” said the youth; “here is your belt and pistols—they are
primed and loaded; here your sword and dagger; in these small bags,
firmly tied to the saddle, are your clothes and purse. Away, away to the
right, round these palms; I will gallop off to the left and shout as if
in pursuit.”

With a grasp of the hand, and without exchanging another word, Hassan
fastened his arms in his girdle, and vaulting into the saddle, went off
at full speed; while the young Mameluke galloped off in the opposite
direction, shouting aloud, and followed, as he expected, by the first
horsemen who came up, and who, supposing him to be in sight of the
fugitive, hastened in pursuit, hoping to snatch from him the coveted
prize of one hundred purses.

One of the mounted _kawàsses_ only, a powerful fellow, and greedy, like
the rest, to secure the promised reward, had heard the sound of
Shèitan’s retreating hoofs, and followed in the right direction; nor was
it long ere, leaving the palm-grove and entering on the adjoining open
fields which bordered the desert, he caught a view of Hassan in full
flight before him. Well knowing that he could trust, if necessary, to
his horse’s speed, Hassan did not wish to distress him at the
commencement of a chase the length of which was uncertain. He contented
himself therefore with going on at a moderate hand-gallop, which soon
allowed the impatient _kawàss_ to gain on him. Hassan perceiving, as he
came nearer, that the man was armed like himself with sword and pistols,
drew one of the latter from his belt and quietly awaited his adversary’s
approach.

The _kawàss_, thirsting for the hundred purses, and trusting to his
skill in the use of his weapon, galloped by our hero, discharging his
pistol as he passed. The ball whizzed by Hassan’s head, but missed its
mark; and, driving the stirrup into Shèitan’s flanks, he brought him
quickly within range of his opponent, when he fired with so true an aim
that the _kawàss_ fell dead at the first shot.

“Fool!” said Hassan; “what harm had I done you that you must strive to
take me?”

He dismounted, and, seeing that no other pursuers were in sight, dressed
himself in the _kawàss’s_ clothes, and throwing the body into an
adjoining ditch, added a second brace of pistols to his own means of
defence, and led off his late opponent’s horse, which he resolved to
retain or turn loose as circumstances might render it advisable.

A few days after these events Delì Pasha, who had been released from his
attendance on the Viceroy, and had performed the voyage up the Nile in a
light Government _canjah_, arrived at Siout, where he learnt the various
“moving incidents” that had occurred in his household: the imminent
peril of his favourite child, rescued by the devoted courage of Hassan,
her name become the subject of scandal in connection with that of her
deliverer, and the disgraceful punishment awarded to his _khaznadâr_ by
Osman Bey, who, as Delì Pasha well knew, had gratified his own
revengeful hatred under a semblance of zeal for the honour of his chief.

All these things combined to rouse the feelings of the choleric old
soldier to the highest pitch of excitement. He was angry with Hassan,
angry with his daughter, angry with Osman Bey, and angry with Destiny,
which had brought all these troubles on his old age. His attendants saw
the cloud settled on his brow, and waited in silent apprehension to see
when and how the storm would burst.

At last it fell, as is too often the case in this world of injustice, on
the feeblest and most innocent head. Amina alone, of all the objects of
his wrath, was under his roof and entirely in his power; she had heard
from Fatimeh Khanum and the eunuchs the indications of her father’s
gloomy state of mind, and as on arriving he had neither come to see her
nor sent her any message of affection, she dreaded the first interview.
When, after the lapse of some days, he visited her apartment and ordered
all the attendants to retire, she advanced to meet him, and observing no
welcome sign of parental embrace, she kissed the hem of his robe and sat
down in silence at his feet.

Notwithstanding all his stoic and stern resolves, the feelings that
struggled for the mastery in his breast betrayed themselves; and as he
contemplated her surpassing loveliness, and the touching and subdued
melancholy by which it was shaded, he could not forbear the reflection
that, had it not been for the courageous devotion of Hassan, that face
and form, which he had so often caressed with all a father’s love, would
now be sleeping cold and lifeless in the muddy bed of the Nile.

“Better so than disgraced and dishonoured,” said he to himself, rousing
his own angrier passions, and giving them vent in a volume of reproaches
directed against herself and her lover. For a long time she bore them in
silence and in tears; but when at length he reproached her with giving
her affection to a nameless adventurer, and said that he would rather
see her dead than united to one who had ungratefully brought dishonour
on his house, she started to her feet, and while the eyes so lately
bathed in tears now flashed with the fire of indignation, she said—

“Father, you shall have your wish. Death has no terror for me, and I
would meet it in any hour and in any shape rather than renounce a faith
that I have plighted in the sight of Allah. Cruel and unjust father, how
dare you tax with ingratitude one who risked his own life to save that
of your child? Father, neither your anger nor your power can arrest the
decrees of destiny. Was it Hassan’s fault or was it mine that on that
dark and stormy night I was cast into the waves of the Nile? He heard a
faint cry, and though he knew not who uttered it, he plunged into those
troubled waters and reached me just as I was about to sink from cold and
exhaustion. Cheering and sustaining me, he brought me to the shore. In
the very jaws of death I vowed to devote to him the life that he had
saved; he stripped off his own cloak to shield me from the cold; he bore
me to the friendly Arab tents, and his heart beat against my heart as I
rested in his arms. He had seen my face uncovered, and we mutually swore
to love each other faithfully until separated by that death from which
we had just escaped. Cruel father, do you think that after this any
other man would wish or dare to wed your daughter? In the sight of
Allah, Hassan is my husband. The cruelty of man or Fate may doom me
never to see him again; but I warn you, father, that I am Delì Pasha’s
own daughter, and if you compel me to become the bride of another, the
bridal bed shall be the grave of one or both.”

The Pasha gazed with mingled awe and astonishment on the flashing eyes
and dilated figure of his transformed Amina as she uttered these words;
while one of her hands rested on her girdle, as if seeking the hilt of
that dagger to which her closing sentence had so plainly alluded.

“Amina,” he said in a voice rendered tremulous by emotion, “you are
right; it has been the work of destiny. I meant not to be cruel to you
or unjust to Hassan. Come to my arms.”

Who has not experienced the pleasure of seeing a dusky summer cloud,
which lately obscured the sun and sent forth the lightning’s flash and
the thunder’s growl, suddenly dissolve and pass away in gentle rain,
while the sun resumes its empire over the sky, and the shower-spangled
leaves and herbs and flowers exhale the grateful incense of their
odorous breath?

Such, only so much more lovely as moral is superior to natural beauty,
was the change wrought in Amina by a word of parental love. Throwing
herself into his arms with a wild cry of irrepressible joy, she looked
up in his face, and pressing his hand fondly to her lips, said—

“Father, dear father, I fear that my words have pained you; tell me that
you forgive me. I can bear anything but to hear him ill-spoken of; then
my heart jumps to my mouth, and my tongue knows no restraint; but now I
am your own little Amina again. Kiss me, and love me, dear father, and,
Inshallah! I will never do anything to offend you.”

Delì Pasha could not trust himself to speak, but he folded her to his
heart in a silence more eloquent than words, and the reconciliation
between father and daughter was complete.

Often afterwards, when alone together, they spoke of Hassan, and
wondered what had become of him, till at length reports reached them
which, although they threw a light upon his fate, filled them with grief
and dismay.

In order to explain these more fully we must resume the thread of our
narrative at the point where we left our hero clad in the dress of the
_kawàss_ whom he had despoiled, and journeying northward along the
border of the desert, leading his spare horse by the bridle.

He had travelled some four or five hours at a round pace without
halting, when he met half-a-dozen wild-looking Bedouin Arabs,
well-mounted and armed with lance and sword. Forgetting at the moment
that the dress which he wore might not find favour in the eyes of these
children of the desert, he rode forward to meet them, when one who
seemed their leader, after conversing for a few moments with his
companions, called aloud to him—

“Halt, you _kawàss_, servant of some grasping Turk; if you would have us
spare your life, dismount and give us up those two horses.”

“I am no _kawàss_,” replied Hassan, addressing the surprised Arabs in
the deep-toned guttural accents of a Bedouin, “but a son of the desert
like yourselves. ’Tis but a few hours since a _kawàss_ attacked me, and
I killed him and took his horse. If you wish to fight, the same arms
that killed him are ready for you. If you desire peace, Bismillah! I am
your friend.”

While speaking, he deliberately drew a pistol from his girdle and
brought round the hilt of his sword ready for his hand. The Bedouins
were completely puzzled by his appearance and language; his powerful
figure, noble mien, and the perfect coolness with which he challenged
six men to combat, compelled their involuntary admiration, while his
dress denoted hostility to their predatory band, and his horses excited
their cupidity.

While they were holding a brief consultation as to the course which they
should pursue, another Arab belonging to their party, who had followed
them at some distance, came up: he was a broad-shouldered, stout fellow,
with a black patch covering one-half of his face, and from the eagerness
with which they crowded round him it was evident that his voice was not
without weight among them.

“Let me see this _kawàss_ who pretends to be a Bedouin,” said he,
pushing his way through them; “I will soon tell you whether he be lion
or jackal.” So saying, he advanced to within a few yards of our hero.

“Mashallah! Mashallah!” exclaimed the new-comer; and, to the
astonishment of his comrades, he jumped off his horse, and running up to
Hassan, kissed his hand, crying aloud, “Ya sidi, ya sidi,—My master, my
master,—do you not know your faithful Abou-Hamedi?”

It was, indeed, no less a personage than our old friend the Damanhouri
whom Hassan had thus unexpectedly encountered, and who was now out upon
a marauding expedition with a fragment of the lawless and numerous band
of which he was a member.

“The black patch could not disguise Abou-Hamedi from the eyes of a
friend,” replied Hassan, cordially returning his greeting. In a few
minutes hasty salutations and mutual inquiries had passed, and Hassan
found himself on his way to the Bedouin encampment, where he was invited
to sup and pass the night.

Abou-Hamedi took the bridle of the led horse, and treated our hero with
such evident deference that the other Arabs unconsciously adopted a
similar manner towards him, and he entered their encampment rather with
the air of its chieftain than of a homeless fugitive.

The band consisted of forty-five or fifty men, who were sitting in a
circle round a large fire, at which a couple of black slaves were
roasting several sheep and baking Arab bread on the cinders. The horses
were picketed in a semicircle at the back of the party, and other black
slaves were bringing them their evening supply of forage. Tents there
were none, these hardy sons of the desert contenting themselves with a
blanket for a bed and the open sky for a canopy.

Hassan saw at a glance that more than half of the band were Arabs from
the West—rough, powerful fellows, who, having come across the Great
Desert to perform the pilgrimage to Mecca, had on their return been
attracted by the “fleshpots of Egypt,” and had remained behind to do a
little business in the plundering line, while the rest of their caravan
had continued its course to the desert borders of Tripoli and Tunis. The
residue of the party was composed of Arabs who were either outlawed for
some offence against the Egyptian Government or had been compelled to
fly from some Bedouin tribe to avoid retaliation for a deed of blood.

Hassan had no sooner taken his seat among them than he was expected and
requested to relate the circumstances which had brought him among them
in the dress of a Turkish _kawàss_, and with iron manacles attached to
each wrist. This he did in a simple and unpretending manner, which would
have carried conviction with it even without the confirmatory evidence
of the manacle chain which still hung from his right hand.

The Bedouins listened with grave attention and interest to his tale, and
at the end of it Abou-Hamedi drew near to his side, and asking him for
the file which the forethought of Ahmed had provided, set about the task
of delivering our hero from bracelets which were neither convenient nor
ornamental. This was a more tedious task than it appeared; and when at
length they were removed, they were passed from hand to hand, the Arabs
casting their eyes from the broken chain to the powerful limbs which it
had failed to fetter, and paying that involuntary tribute to lofty
stature and manly beauty which these qualities command still more in
savage than in civilised life.

No sooner was Hassan relieved from his gyves than he rose up and went to
see that his faithful Shèitan was duly cleaned and fed. He found a
grinning negro belonging to Abou-Hamedi already employed on this
service, whose goodwill he further stimulated by a smile of
encouragement and a five-piastre piece slipped into his palm. The horse
taken from the _kawàss_ likewise received his due allowance, and both it
and Shèitan were provided with a coarse rug to protect them against the
cold of approaching night.

While Hassan was thus engaged, and in the subsequent recital of his
sunset prayers, which, like a true Mussulman, he never omitted in any
presence or under any circumstances, Abou-Hamedi was eloquently
haranguing the listening Arabs concerning his character and qualities.
He related to them how he himself owed his life and liberty to Hassan’s
youthful generosity; and after extolling in the highest terms his
deliverer’s daring courage and aptitude for command, he proposed that
the band should invite him to become their leader.

One of the party, named Abou-Hashem, who had hitherto acted in that
capacity, listened to this address with a clouded brow. He was a strong,
active man, well skilled in the use of his weapons, bold and resolute in
danger, and versed in the various modes of Arab warfare. He expressed
his dissent from the proposal of Abou-Hamedi, and said that he for one
would not agree to surrender his own claims to command to a stranger,
and one of less age and experience than himself. Abou-Hamedi replied,
and the discussion was so warmly sustained on both sides that they did
not perceive the return of Hassan, who had taken his seat in the circle
and listened to the arguments of the disputants.

“Let this discussion cease, my brothers,” he said in a voice whose deep
authoritative tone commanded general attention. “I seek not to be your
leader, and would not accept the charge otherwise than by your unanimous
choice. So long as I remain among you I will be faithful to your cause;
and if I see amongst you treachery or cruelty, or aught else that I do
not approve, I shall leave you and follow my solitary path. In a band
like this, where there is no hereditary title to command, the boldest
heart, the strongest hand, and the wisest head must be your chief. In
the first fair day of fight that we may have, show me the man who is
first in the fray, stoutest in the _mêlée_, and last to leave it,—let
him be our leader; I will cheerfully follow and obey him.”

This speech was received with general acclamation. The party having set
their guards, retired to rest, and thus Hassan found himself transformed
from a Turkish _khaznadâr_ into a comrade of predatory outlaws.

Not a week had passed ere Abou-Hamedi went disguised into Siout to
perform various commissions and to gather information. On his return he
told his companions that after two days the great annual caravan of
_gellabs_ (slave-dealers) was about to set out for the Soudan; that
their sacks would be full of money and trinkets for the purchase of
slaves; and that they were to be escorted by fifty Bashi-Bazouks, or
irregular Turkish cavalry.

He also informed them that he had seen Osman Bey in his divan with a
large black plaster covering his broken nose and lacerated cheek, at
which intelligence a smile of satisfaction played over Hassan’s
features, which had worn an unusually grave expression. It was
unanimously resolved to plunder the caravan, and a council was held as
to the place and plan of attack, in which Abou-Hamedi and Abou-Hashem,
as being best acquainted with the localities, were the principal
speakers. After the council had broken up, Abou-Hamedi retired with
Hassan, and produced from his saddle-bags a complete Bedouin dress,
which our hero gladly donned in place of the Turkish costume which he
had of late been accustomed to wear.

On the day fixed for the departure of the _gellabs_, our band, guided by
Abou-Hamedi and Abou-Hashem, was posted behind a desert sandhill on the
caravan-road to the south, at a distance of about fifteen miles from
Siout. Swords were loosened in their scabbards, the priming of pistols
and the points of lances duly examined, when towards four in the
afternoon the caravan was seen slowly approaching, half of the armed
escort in front, half in the rear, with the wealthy _gellabs_ and their
baggage containing money, jewels, trinkets, and numerous sets of
manacles, in the centre.

Our Bedouins were awaiting them in profound silence, when suddenly their
ambush was betrayed by one of their horses, a fiery and impatient
animal, that began to neigh, snort, and execute various curvetings which
exposed his rider to the view of the leading soldiers of the escort,
who, seeing that the Bedouin endeavoured again to find concealment
behind the sandhill, suspected the true state of the case and began to
look to their arms and prepare for action.

“Upon them at once,” shouted Hassan, “and overthrow them before the
rear-guard has time to come up to their support! Strike only the
soldiers; the merchants and travellers must be ours.”

As he spoke these words he struck the stirrups in Shèitan, and charged
at headlong speed the leading column. It was in vain that Abou-Hashem,
jealous of his honour, strove to be first in the fray: he urged his
horse with voice and stirrup, but before he came up Hassan had already
emptied two troopers’ saddles, and was dealing death among their
fellows, uttering terrific shouts that rose high above the din of arms
and the cries of the dismayed merchants.

At first the freebooters seemed about to gain an easy victory, but the
rear-guard of the escort came up, and for some time the fight was
continued upon nearly equal terms. Abou-Hashem, who fought that day with
a fierce emulation, was wounded in the sword-arm by a pistol-shot, and
having been thrown from his horse, was about to be despatched by a
trooper, when Hassan’s sword flashed above his head and the trooper fell
senseless beside the body of his intended victim.

To dismount from his horse and remount his fallen comrade was to Hassan
the work of a moment: springing again on the back of Shèitan, he plunged
into the thickest of the _mêlée_, and ere long the discomfited troopers
were in rapid flight towards Siout.

The Bedouins, not caring to pursue them, surrounded the caravan and
commenced the work of plunder and distribution of the spoil with a
readiness and order which proved them to be adepts at the trade. Hassan
stood at a little distance wiping his stained sword and tying a
handkerchief over a flesh-wound in the arm, from which the blood freely
flowed.

The booty proved greater than the most sanguine of the Bedouins had
expected, and Abou-Hashem himself proposed and demanded that the
leader’s share should be set apart for Hassan. Our hero, scarcely
deigning to cast a glance at the heap thus placed before him, gave his
hand to his late rival, and inquired kindly after his hurt. Abou-Hashem
felt that, morally and physically, he was in presence of a superior, and
from that day Hassan was uncontested chief of the band.

The merchants and other trafficking members of the caravan, with their
servants, sat in melancholy silence on the ground, looking on at the
distribution of their goods and money among the captors.

When Hassan, at the request of Abou-Hamedi, condescended to examine the
share of booty allotted to him, he found that it consisted of two black
slaves, three mules, a number of jewels and trinkets, and nearly £100 in
money. Of the slaves, one was a sickly-looking youth, to whom Hassan
gave a piece of money, saying, “Go where you will—you are free.”

The other was a tall, powerful fellow, with a look of pride and
resolution in his eye which pleased Hassan’s taste: he was a native of
Darfour, and had accompanied the caravan as an interpreter among the
tribes of that region. In appearance he was more like one of the Lucumi,
or other warrior tribes of South-Western Africa, than the woolly-headed
negroes usually met with in the Egyptian slave-market. At his girdle
hung a short club made of the heavy ironwood of his native land, and in
his hand he carried a long stick or cane, one end of which was tipped
with a kind of fibrous cover of basket-work, while at the other end was
an iron hook, which gave to the stick the appearance of a shepherd’s
crook.

“What is your name, and whence are you?” inquired Hassan.

“From Darfour, and my name Abd-hoo,” replied the black.[102]

“Have you been a warrior in your own country?”

“I have seen some fighting,” said Abd-hoo with a grim smile.

“Why did you not, then, fight when we attacked your caravan?”

“Because that _gellab_ broke his faith. He promised me forty piastres
a-month and has paid me only twenty. I would not move a finger to save
his life.”

As he said this he pointed to one of the slave-dealers, who was looking
in mute despair on his rifled bags and boxes.

“If your muscles answer to your appearance, you should be a strong
fellow,” said Hassan.

“Try me,” replied the black, thrusting out from beneath his blanket an
arm that would have done credit to the champion of the fistic ring in
England.

A laugh among the Bedouins followed this sally of the sturdy negro.
Hassan noticed it, and simply answering, “I will try a wrestling
fall[103] with you, and if you throw me you shall go free,” threw off
his _abah_ (outer Arab scarf) and laid aside his weapons. The negro
followed the example, and though he was half a head short of Hassan in
stature, the vast size of his bull neck and shoulders, and the muscular
development of his arms and legs, created an impression among the
Bedouins (none of whom, excepting Abou-Hamedi, had any experience of
Hassan’s extraordinary powers) that their newly-appointed chief would be
no match for the Darfouri.

When, however, they grappled, and all the sleights and desperate
exertions of the negro failed to move Hassan from his firm position of
defence, or to disturb the quiet and confident smile that played upon
his countenance, it soon became as evident to the bystanders as it was
to Abd-hoo that he was in the grip of his master, and not many minutes
elapsed before he measured his length upon the sand.

Hassan then resumed his _abah_ and his weapons, and continued the
conversation with his defeated opponent as if nothing had occurred to
interrupt it.

“Abd-hoo, you are a stout fellow, though you have yet some sleights to
learn in wrestling. Canst thou be faithful?”

“Where I promise I keep my word,” said the negro.

“Enough,” replied Hassan; “I want no slave. Here is a piece of gold for
you; take it. You are free to go where you will or to serve me: if you
choose the latter, you shall have your share of my bread and my purse.”

“I will follow you to death,” replied Abd-hoo, looking up to his new
master with a reverence inspired by those physical powers which, in his
rude breast, afforded the highest claim to respect.

Hassan, having given into his charge the horses which had fallen to his
share, cast his eyes over the disconsolate group of merchants and their
followers, among whom his quick eye detected a feeble old man whom he
had more than once seen at the Governor’s house at Siout. Approaching
him, he inquired what had brought him on this route.

“My son is a merchant who deals in gum and senna in Soudan,” replied the
old man. “He has fallen into illness and trouble, and I was going to
Dongola to see him, and to give some money to the Governor’s secretary
to get him released from trouble. Now my fifty dollars and my mule have
been taken from me, I am ruined and my son is lost.”

“I hope your case is not so bad,” said Hassan, smiling good-humouredly;
“here are one hundred dollars to make good your loss. You must now
return to Siout, and, Inshallah! you will soon set out again for Soudan
with a better escort and a more fortunate caravan.” He then turned to
the group of _gellabs_, and said in a voice that carried dismay to their
already trembling hearts—

“Hark ye, I know you all, and shall know all your doings in Siout: if ye
dare to touch one _para_ of what I have given to this old man, your
lives shall answer for it. Now gather up what you have left of clothes
and goods and be gone.”

The discomfited traders collected the goods and the sorrier nags and
mules which the freebooters had left as useless to themselves and
retraced their way to Siout, while Hassan and his band went off with
their booty into the desert.

The news of this audacious _razzia_, exaggerated as it was by the
defeated troopers and the despoiled _gellabs_, created the greatest
consternation in Siout. Hassan’s band was magnified into a force of two
or three hundred ferocious and well-armed desperadoes, and he himself
into some _jinn_ or _afreet_ in human shape, equally proof against
lance, sword, or bullet.

Osman Bey was furious at this new triumph of his mortal enemy, the more
so as a portion of the money captured by the Bedouins had been advanced
by himself to the _gellabs_ on speculation.

Delì Pasha was scarcely less vexed at the lawless and desperate course
of life on which his late favourite had been driven to enter, although
his former feelings towards him were kept alive by the trait of
compassionate generosity which he had shown to the old man, who had
himself related it to the Pasha with tears in his eyes. Hassan’s warning
threats to the _gellabs_ had not been without effect, for none had dared
to take from him a _para_ of the hundred dollars given to him by the
dreaded leader of the plundering band. The latter ere long acquired a
notoriety equalled by that of Robin Hood in the olden time of England;
nor were Hassan’s character and conduct very different from those of our
prince of archers and foresters. To take from the rich and bestow
generously on the poor and oppressed was the base of his system. Thus in
every village he had voluntary and grateful spies, who gave him timely
notice of the approach of any troops sent against him, and according to
their numerical force or his own inclination, he either defeated or
eluded them.

The attention of Mohammed Ali was ere long aroused by the depredations
of this formidable band; but although he sent the most angry and severe
orders to his provincial governors to seize the audacious rebel who set
his authority at defiance, their exertions remained infructuous.

Tales of Hassan’s deeds of prowess, daring, and generosity became
current among the villagers of the whole valley of the Nile, among whom
he was generally spoken of as “Hassan eed-el-maftouha,” or
“eed-el-hadid”—that is, “Hassan of the open hand” (_i.e._, the
generous), or “Hassan of the iron hand”; and the provincial governors
were completely stupefied by his apparent power of ubiquity, for no
sooner did one of them send a force in pursuit of him near some village
where his presence had lately been reported, than they heard of his
having plundered some Sheik-el-Beled or caravan one hundred miles off.

This latter circumstance, though devised by Hassan, was carried out by
the versatile talents of Abou-Hamedi, who had secret friends and spies
in most of the Nile villages. These fellows were instructed from time to
time to run to the nearest town or residence of a governor bawling for
help, and stating that they had seen Hassan and his band prowling near
their village on the preceding night. Soldiers would be sent to watch
for him, and then news would arrive that some depredation had been
committed by his band in another province.

Meanwhile Hassan did not neglect the precaution of maintaining a good
understanding with the Bedouin tribes: totally indifferent to money
himself, all his share of booty that he did not bestow on the poor and
helpless he gave in presents to the most powerful of the Bedouin sheiks,
so that when Mohammed Ali tried to employ against Hassan his favourite
method of “setting a thief to catch a thief,” by calling upon some of
the Arab chiefs to assist in apprehending our hero, they apparently
obeyed the Viceroy’s wishes, but it was after having sent a secret and
timely notice to Hassan, and, as might be expected, their ostensible
efforts were without result.

We have said that the wild and lawless career upon which our hero had
entered caused deep regret to Delì Pasha, and it may be imagined that it
caused the tears of his daughter to flow. Neither these tears nor these
regrets were much diminished by a letter which the Pasha one day
received, and which was brought by a stranger, who disappeared as soon
as he had delivered it. Allowing for the difference between Turkish and
English idiom, it ran as follows:—


        “_To the High in Rank, the Honourable and Honoured
          Delì Pasha, Governor of Siout._

“Hassan, his faithful servant, having been driven from his honourable
place in his Excellency’s service, and having been degraded in the eyes
of the household and others by the tyranny of Osman Bey, has had no
other choice than to maintain his honour and life as the chief of a
Bedouin band. He may be exiled—outlawed, perhaps—if such be the will of
Allah, put to death by the Egyptian Government, but no act of cowardice,
treachery, or cruelty on his part shall cause his Excellency to blush
for having once extended to Hassan his generous protection. His life is
in the hands of Allah; but so long as it endures, his thoughts, his
hopes, his heart, and his faith are a sacrifice at the feet of Amina,
and his prayers are for her and for her honoured father.”


Nothing can be more dull, hot, and disagreeable than a summer in Upper
Egypt; we therefore take the liberty of skipping over the following six
months, briefly mentioning the changes that took place in the destinies
of our principal _dramatis personæ_.

Mr Thorpe and all his party had gone to pass the summer among the cool
breezes of the Lebanon; but as the health of his daughter caused him
some disquietude, he had determined to return to Upper Egypt in the
following winter, for which purpose he re-engaged the two dahabiahs in
which he had before made his voyage up the Nile.

Delì Pasha had obtained the Viceroy’s permission to return with his
family to Cairo, leaving Osman Bey in charge of the government of Siout;
and the latter received a significant hint from his Highness that if he
did not contrive some means of apprehending the formidable outlaw whom
his ill-timed harshness had driven to revolt, it might prove the worse
for himself.

As for our hero and his band, the heat of summer and the cold of winter
were alike to their hardy frames, and the terror of his name spread far
and wide with every succeeding month. The reports of his daring
achievements excited the Viceroy’s anger, sometimes mingled with
admiration, sometimes with mirth, which he cared not to suppress.

On one occasion Abou-Hamedi (who had received several flesh-wounds in a
late encounter) went into Siout disguised as a fellah, and, rushing into
the presence of Osman Bey, claimed redress of his wrongs, stating that
not more than five leagues from the town he had been plundered, beaten,
and wounded by Hassan and a part of his band. His ghastly appearance,
the blood on the bandages that bound his head and arm, the tone of
helpless misery in which he told his tale,—all conspired to induce the
Bey to give credit to it. A surgeon was ordered to remove the bandages,
and there were the unhealed wounds to speak for themselves.

On being asked where Hassan now was, and how many of his band were with
him, the pretended fellah named the place, and said that the greater
part of the band had gone elsewhere to plunder some caravan, and that
Hassan had with him only six or eight of his followers.

When told that he must guide a party to the place, he evinced such a
dread of Hassan, and bargained so obstinately for the amount of his
reward when the formidable chief should be captured, that all doubts of
the truth of his tale were removed.

Osman Bey resolved at once to whiten his face before the Viceroy by
heading in person the party selected for this important service, which
was to consist of twenty of the best mounted and armed of his followers,
each man being provided with a coil of cord to bind the prisoners.

Without relating all the details of the expedition, it is sufficient to
say that the unlucky Bey fell into an ambush laid with admirable skill
by Hassan. He and his party found themselves suddenly attacked in front
and in the rear by two bands, each of which was as well mounted and more
numerous than his own, so that after a brief resistance he and his
followers were all captured, and bound with the same cords which they
had brought to secure the freebooters. Their arms and horses having been
taken from them, and having been placed at some distance under a strong
guard, Hassan ordered them all to be released from their bonds; and
Osman Bey having been brought before him, he said—

“Illustrious Governor, I think that two hundred and fifty was the number
of blows which you once ordered to be administered to the back of your
humble servant, and in dealing with so high a personage I surely ought
not to show myself less liberal in my measure of reward. Neither have I
forgotten the debt that I owe you for the kindness which you showed me
in Cairo, when you endeavoured to take by treachery a life which you had
not the courage openly to attempt. Inshallah! I will now pay my debts;
after which we will be friends or enemies, as you may choose.”

At the conclusion of this address two of the freebooters stepped forward
by Hassan’s order, and, in spite of Osman Bey’s struggles and cries,
applied their courbatches vigorously to his shoulders until Hassan
called out “Enough!” They then tied him firmly, with his arms pinioned,
on a lively young donkey, to the tail of which they fastened a bunch of
prickly shrubs to quicken its movements, and having started it on the
road to Siout, left the discomfited Governor to re-enter his capital in
this humiliating guise, amid the suppressed jeers of its population.

As for the troopers, Hassan gave them a good supper, expressed to them
his regret that he could not restore to them their arms and horses,
which had become the property of his band; told them it was a great pity
that such brave, honest fellows should be obliged to serve under so
unworthy a chief, and having given each of them a present of five
piastres, told them that they were at liberty to return to their several
homes, or to their service in Siout, as it might suit their own
convenience.

On another occasion Abou-Hashem, who had been engaged with a small
portion of the band in a predatory excursion not far from the town of
Girgeh, had been attacked by a party sent for that purpose by its
governor, and in spite of a desperate resistance had been taken
prisoner. His comrades, most of them wounded, escaped and brought the
news to Hassan, who was with the remainder of the band encamped at a
well a few leagues distant from the scene of the affray.

After reproaching them bitterly for their cowardice in surviving the
capture of a comrade who had once been their chief, and after
ascertaining from them that the soldiers were too numerous to afford him
a reasonable prospect of rescue by open force, he resolved to effect it
by stratagem, or perish in the attempt. Dressing himself in his _kawàss_
costume, and taking with him only the trusty black, Abd-hoo, on whose
fidelity and presence of mind he could confidently rely, he mounted
Shèitan and set off at speed towards Girgeh, hoping to intercept the
party before they reached the immediate neighbourhood of the town. Both
he and his follower were fully armed, and the latter bore with him a
chibouq and tobacco-bag to support his character of attendant on the
supposed _kawàss_. Hassan gave his instructions to Abd-hoo as they
galloped across the plain, and the confident grin of the sturdy negro
assured him that he was understood, and would, if possible, be obeyed.

Fortune so far favoured our adventurers that several miles before
reaching Girgeh they saw the party of which they were in search seated
on the ground near a spring of water, and refreshing themselves with the
fragrant fumes of the pipe.

Slackening his speed as he approached, Hassan drew near the group, and
saluting them courteously in Turkish, sat down in the midst of them,
nearest to one who by his dress he knew to be their _yuzbashi_, or
captain, and ordering Abd-hoo to fill his pipe, our hero commenced a
conversation on the heat, and indifferent subjects, with a careless ease
that would have done honour to an old diplomatist. The captain was
charmed with the polite frankness of his new guest, who failed not to
call him colonel by mistake, and who ere long drew from him an account
of the object and success of his morning’s expedition.

No sooner did he hear that one supposed to be of some rank in the band
of the formidable Hassan had been captured than he started with feigned
surprise, and inquired, pointing to Abou-Hashem, who sat disarmed and
pinioned at some distance, whether that was the fellow whom they had
captured? A reply being given in the affirmative—

“By your head, colonel,” he said, “I will go and look at the vagabond:
they have done much evil to my lord the Pasha, and I have seen service
against them. You son of a dog,” continued he, drawing near the
prisoner, and addressing him in a loud and angry voice, “methinks you
are the very fellow who killed my brother near Siout; you have just his
ugly, villainous look, and now I will have your blood.”

So saying, he drew a sharp poniard and brandished it over the head of
the prisoner.

“Do not kill the vagabond, O Aga!” shouted the captain, still lazily
smoking his pipe, “for I hope to get five or six purses for his
apprehension: could I have caught his chief, Mashallah! I would have
claimed one hundred.”

“Inshallah! you will claim them another time,” said Hassan politely.
“Meanwhile, I must give this vagabond a prick with my poniard. I will
not touch his life, but I wish him not to forget me.”

So saying, he brandished his poniard again, and advanced close to the
prisoner in order to see how with one rapid cut he could sever his
bonds.

“Do not touch him, Aga, with your knife,” cried out Abd-hoo; “here is a
courbatch wherewith to beat him.”

Under this pretext Hassan led Shèitan and his own horse near to the
prisoner: at the distance of only a few yards a groom was holding a
horse which, from its appearance and trappings, seemed to be that of the
captain.

“Now is the moment,” whispered Hassan to Abou-Hashem; “be ready to
spring on that horse.”

As he spoke he raised his knife as if about to strike, at the same time
continuing to threaten and abuse Abou-Hashem in a loud voice, while the
Turks were laughing at the anger of Hassan and the assumed terror of the
captive, who called out “Aman! aman!” (Mercy!) With one swift stroke of
his knife he divided the cords with which he was pinioned, and,
springing aside, knocked down the unsuspecting _sàis_ who held the
captain’s horse. No sooner done than Abou-Hashem was in the saddle;
Hassan and Abd-hoo jumped on their horses, and in a second the
freebooters were at full speed on their way to the desert. Shots were
fired at them from pistols and carabines, some of which took effect, but
not enough to stop their headlong course.

Hassan received a ball in the arm and another in the side, but he
succeeded in his daring attempt. A few of the best mounted of the Turks
who were able to keep the fugitives in sight found themselves, after a
gallop of several leagues, in sight of Hassan’s band, who received their
chief and his rescued lieutenant with shouts of triumph; while the
troopers, seeing that all chance of recapturing them was hopeless,
wheeled their wearied horses towards Girgeh, glad to escape themselves
unpursued.

One other instance of our hero’s humorous audacity which reached the
Viceroy’s ears during that summer, and which excited his mirth almost as
much as his anger, deserves to be recorded.

His Highness had collected a body of troops in a camp near the town of
Esneh, in Upper Egypt, who were undergoing drill and training for
service against the refractory tribes in the Soudan.

Hassan had received intelligence from one of his spies that a large sum
of money had just been transmitted to Esneh for the payment of these
troops, and was in the keeping of a certain Moktar Effendi, who resided
in a village a few miles distant from the encampment, and who on account
of this charge was dignified in the neighbourhood by the title of
Defterdar.

Of this sum Hassan resolved to endeavour to obtain possession by
stratagem, and he set about it with the confident coolness which
characterised all his proceedings. Leaving the greater part of his band
in the desert, at a considerable distance from the village, he dressed
himself in his former _khaznadâr_ uniform, and six or eight of the most
resolute and best mounted of his followers in dresses becoming the
attendants of a man in authority, gathered from the spoils of plundered
caravans: he took with him also a firman bearing the seal of Mohammed
Ali, which had been obtained by similar means. This firman stated in
general terms that Latif-Aga, the bearer, was on duty in Upper Egypt on
Government service, and ordered the governors of towns and provinces to
afford him all necessary assistance.

Armed with this instrument, and with others of a more deadly kind in
case of necessity, Hassan proceeded leisurely about midday to the
village, having desired his followers to observe the strictest gravity
and decorum in their demeanour, and having, as usual, invested the
ready-witted and faithful Abd-hoo with the office of pipe-bearer, while
Abou-Hamedi was to be left in charge of the horses and of the
attendants, who were not expected to accompany their chief to the
presence of the Defterdar.

Hassan had no difficulty in finding the residence of that well-known
personage, and having announced himself as being charged with an
important message from the Viceroy, was immediately ushered into the
room where sat the Defterdar.

Moktar Effendi was a fat, pursy little man, and, though extremely timid,
puffed up with a high sense of his own local importance. Hassan, as is
the custom in the East, began the conversation with all sorts of
commonplace observations, which he took care to interlard with fulsome
compliments gratifying to the vanity of his host; and after two pipes
and cups of coffee had been with due ceremony discussed, he prepared to
enter upon the business with which he was supposed to be intrusted. But
having observed a small room at the side, which seemed better suited to
his purpose than the reception-room, which commanded a view of the court
below, he proposed in a confidential tone that they should retire
thither for a conference, which he said it was necessary that their
attendants should not overhear.

To this proposal the Defterdar, who had read the firman presented to him
by Hassan, made no objection, and they retired thither. No sooner were
they seated than our hero, who had taken care to place himself between
his host and the door, proceeded to inform him that he had come to
relieve him of the charge of the money which had been transmitted to him
for the payment of the troops. The astonished Defterdar said in a
hesitating tone that, although he had no doubt of the authority under
which his guest was acting, he could not transfer such a charge without
direct instructions from the Viceroy.

“I will show you the authority under which I act,” said our hero in the
same polite and affable tone which he had hitherto used; and as he spoke
he threw open his outer pelisse, and drawing a pistol from his belt,
presented it within two feet of the Defterdar’s forehead, who observed
with horror another pistol and a dagger suspended from the same
formidable belt. “Excellent Defterdar,” he continued, “I do not wish to
expose you to any unnecessary alarm or danger, but it is necessary for
your safety that you give up to me the money in question. I am not
Latif-Aga, but Hassan, the Child of the Pyramid, of whom you have
perhaps heard, and who, as you may know, am not to be trifled with.”

At the sound of that dreaded name, and at the sight of the pistol still
pointed at his face, the unfortunate Defterdar grew speechless with
affright; a cold perspiration broke out upon his forehead, and his
tongue clove to his palate.

“For the love of Allah,” he gasped, “do not murder me!”

“I have no intention of hurting you,” said Hassan, “if you only do as I
bid you without delay; but I warn you that if you utter a sound to
compromise my safety you are a dead man. My pipe-bearer, at your outer
door, and all my attendants below, are armed as I am, and we are strong
enough, if it be requisite, to destroy you and all your household. But
though I am not ‘Latif’ by name, I desire to be so in my conduct;[104]
therefore if you are quiet and reasonable you have nothing to fear. You
will please now to call whichever of your confidential servants has the
care of this money, and tell him to bring it here and deliver it to me,
as I am charged to convey it to the commanding officer at the camp. If
in giving him this order you endeavour to betray me by word or sign, you
die where you sit, and your servant will be killed by my pipe-bearer
without.”

The unhappy Defterdar, after giving vent to sundry suppressed groans, in
which “Allah!” “Oh my misfortune!” “Mercy and destiny,” were feebly
uttered, and seeing no hope of saving his life excepting in implicit
obedience to the orders of his formidable guest, clapped his hands, and
on the entrance of his servant desired him forthwith to bring the money
which Latif-Aga was charged by the Viceroy to convey to the camp.

The servant noticed the evident tremor and perturbation under which his
master spoke, but like a true Oriental he attributed it to regret at
losing so fair an opportunity of appropriating a certain portion of the
money to his own advantage by cheating the soldiers in its distribution,
and he soon reappeared, bearing with him three or four bags of gold, and
one of larger dimensions containing Austrian dollars.

“Is the whole sum here?” said Hassan in a stern voice. “Bring me the
letter that accompanied the money, and then count it before me, that I
may see whether the amounts tally.”

His orders having been obeyed, the servant counted the money before him,
which (wonderful to relate of Egypt) agreed precisely with the letter of
advice.

“You are a faithful servant,” said Hassan, “and although I cannot touch
this money which belongs to others, here is a bakshish for yourself.” So
saying, he threw him two or three pieces of gold from his own purse,
adding, “Send hither my pipe-bearer and _mirakhor_ [chief groom], that
they may take charge of this money; and bring me a _dooàyeh_ [oriental
case containing pens and ink] and some paper, that I may give your
master a receipt in due form.”

Abou-Hamedi and Abd-hoo having been summoned and taken charge of their
trust with a gravity and deportment suited to their assumed characters,
our hero wrote the receipt in a bold hand, and in the following terms:—

“I, Hassan, Child of the Pyramid, hereby acknowledge that I have
received from Moktar Effendi the sum of one hundred and twenty purses
[£600] belonging to the Egyptian Government, and that it is my intention
to repay the same when it suits my convenience. I further add that the
said Moktar Effendi only delivered me this money when under fear of his
life, and when he had no means of resisting the force which I had at
hand: he should therefore be held exempt from blame by his humane and
just lord, Mohammed Ali.”

Having delivered this receipt to the still bewildered Effendi, Hassan
said to him, “My good friend, now that our business is terminated, we
will have one more pipe of fellowship before we part; but remember that
my eye is upon you.”

The pipe having been duly smoked and the attendants dismissed, Hassan
addressed his terrified host—

“Effendi, the most disagreeable part of my duty remains to be performed,
as I would fain have parted from you with politeness and friendship; but
as your duty would require that you should alarm all the village as soon
as my foot is in the stirrup, it is necessary for my safety and for
yours that I should secure your quietude: your servants will soon come
to release you, but for a while it is requisite that you should be
bound.” So saying, he produced a cord, which he had brought for the
purpose, and having bound his terror-stricken host hand and foot, and
stuffed a handkerchief into his mouth to prevent his calling out, he
left the room, and leisurely descending the stairs, mounted his horse,
giving pieces of silver to the servants at the door with a liberality
worthy of a Bey or Pasha.

He and his party proceeded slowly on the road towards the soldiers’
encampment until they were out of sight of the village, when they
suddenly turned off towards the desert, and after an hour’s gallop
rejoined the remainder of the band. On the following morning at daylight
they were eighty miles distant from the scene of this feat.

It is needless to portray the astonishment of Moktar Effendi’s servants
when they found their master bound and gagged in a corner of his room,
grunting and sputtering in his vain endeavours to call for help. When
they released his tongue and his limbs, his first act was to ask in a
trembling voice, “Is he gone?”

“Who?” they replied; “his Excellency the Bey, your visitor?—yes, he is
gone.”

“The Bey!” muttered Moktar Effendi, whose courage was now partially
restored. “Know ye not, sons of dogs and asses that ye are, that the
scoundrel was no Bey, but Hassan Ebn-el-Heràm, the outlaw chief, who has
plundered me and laughed at my beard. Allah! Allah! what dust has fallen
on my head—what dirt have I eaten! There lies his cursed receipt for the
money. How can I send it to Mohammed Ali? he will defile the graves of
my forefathers. Alas! alas! there is no power nor trust save in Allah.”

Such were the terms in which the unhappy Defterdar bewailed his fate,
and prepared to enclose to the Viceroy a full report of his misfortune,
together with the receipt left by the audacious outlaw. Mohammed Ali, in
one of those moods of clemency and generosity which were not unfrequent
with him, forgave the poor Defterdar, and replaced the plundered money
from his own purse, saying, “Hassan shall one day fulfil his promise of
repayment.”

                  *       *       *       *       *

The cool breezes of November had returned, and the Thorpe party were
again at Cairo, on their way to Thebes, where they proposed to pass the
winter. During the few days that they spent in the capital before
prosecuting their voyage, they visited the various objects of interest
which they had not found time to see during their former stay. One
scene, however, which they witnessed was so illustrative of the
superstition of the “Cairians,” or inhabitants of Cairo, that it is not
unworthy of notice.

Returning one day from an excursion to the Mokattan hills, they saw an
immense crowd of persons, of all ages and conditions, on horses, mules,
donkeys, and on foot, flocking to a spot called Sabaâ Benât (the seven
daughters), on the edge of the desert. Piercing through the outskirts of
this mixed assemblage, they were surprised to see beys, effendis,
merchants, priests, and beggars all divested of their outer garments and
rolling themselves with frantic energy and gesticulation in the sand.

On inquiring through Demetri what was the meaning of this strange
ceremonial, they learnt that it was a miracle wrought through the
instrumentality of a Moghrebi saint (such as in Algeria are termed
Marabouts), who had been warned in a religious trance that the sand in
this spot possessed a healing virtue, and that all who rolled themselves
therein should be immediately cured of any malady.

News of this miracle had spread through the city, and for several days
all who were, or imagined themselves, under the influence of any disease
hastened to avail themselves of the holy panacea.

In some instances the pious fraud worked out its own verification. One
fat bey, whose only ailment was plethora, brought on by gluttony,
actually rolled himself so energetically and effectually that he
perspired and vomited under the unwonted exertion. He returned home so
much relieved that he spread the fame of the miraculous spot throughout
all the members of the divan, and thus the superstition of the fanatic
Arabs was communicated to the grave and influential portion of the
Turkish community.

Mr Thorpe and his party made their way through this motley crowd with no
little difficulty, and they found the whole road from the sacred spot to
the city dusty and thronged as that from London to Epsom on a Derby
day.[105]

“How can they believe,” said Mr Thorpe to Demetri, “that by rolling in
that sand they can cure all diseases? Have the saints and dervishes so
much power over the people’s belief?”

“Saints and dervishes,” said Demetri, “can make them believe that the
Nile comes from the moon, or that the Pyramids were built of cheeses
made from the milk of Pharaoh’s cows. But that is nothing; priests can
do as much in my country. If you want to see what the Cairians can
swallow, you should go to that dome, under which you will find a jackass
daily fed on the best of provender at the public expense, and almost
worshipped by the people.”

As he spoke he pointed to a cupola erected over the tomb of a saint or
sheik, in the interior of which a donkey was contentedly chewing his
straw and beans, totally unconscious of the religious honours paid to
him.

“How came the donkey to obtain this great measure of respect?” inquired
Mr Thorpe.

“He belonged,” replied Demetri, “to a builder who was engaged in
repairing some tombs in the neighbourhood: this donkey had been one of a
score employed in carrying bricks and mortar. It would seem that he had
contrived to shake off his load, and had gone for shelter into that
half-ruined sheik’s tomb: meanwhile his owner, with the other donkeys,
had been suddenly called off to do some building-work at a distance for
the Viceroy.

“That night it appears that a _fikih_ [priest] of some celebrity in
the town had a dream, warning him that if he wished his prayers to be
heard he must go to the sheik’s tomb in question and pay honour to
whomsoever he might find under its roof. Hastening thither in the
morning, he found it tenanted by a donkey, to which, in order to obey
the warning he had received, he made an offering of some beans and
barley. Having communicated his dream to his religious brethren, it
was soon spread all over the town. Pious Mussulmans flocked thither to
pray for their sick relatives, and the long-eared recluse tasted of
the sweets of idleness, plenty, and all the other ingredients in the
cup of donkey-happiness.”[106]

“Why, Demetri,” said Mr Thorpe, laughing, “you have finished your tale
in a style worthy of the ‘Arabian Nights.’”

“It is no wonder,” replied the Greek; “I hear so many of those
story-narrators at the Arab cafés in the town that I borrow their style
almost without knowing it.”

“Mohammed Ali well knows,” continued the Greek, “how to take advantage
of this popular reverence for the tombs of sheiks. A short time ago one
stood close to a garden of his, and the visitors who flocked to it
disturbing his privacy, he determined to remove it in a manner that
should offer no offence to the reputation of the sheik or the fanaticism
of the people.

“Collecting in secret a large body of labourers from one of his distant
villages, he caused them in the course of a single night to destroy the
tomb and to rebuild it at a spot about two miles distant, in the same
form and of the same materials, after which they were sent back to their
own village as secretly as they had been summoned.

“On the following day all Cairo was full of the new
miracle—Sheik-el-Ghazi had transported his own tomb two miles in the
course of the night. Thousands flocked to the miraculous shrine, which
is to this day an object of the deepest reverence in the
neighbourhood.”[107]

The next day Mr Thorpe and his party went to pay a visit to Delì Pasha
previous to their departure for Upper Egypt. Emily and her mother were
conducted to the harem, where, after a brief and uninteresting visit to
the senior Khanum, they went to the apartment occupied by Amina.

Both were struck by the change which a year had wrought in her
appearance. She was not less lovely than before, but her bright and
mirthful glance had given place to a look of saddened tenderness and a
general expression of melancholy.

Neither did it escape Amina’s observation that Emily looked more pale
than on her former visit; and when her two guests were seated, one on
each side of her, with the wife of one of the Italian doctors, who
officiated as interpreter, she began to inquire after Emily’s health,
and how and where she had passed the summer.

These inquiries having been replied to, and the customary compliments
exchanged while they sipped their coffee from lilliputian cups enclosed
in _finjâns_ of gold filigree studded with diamonds, the conversation
assumed a more general turn; for Amina soon found that neither of her
guests could bear the pipe, although the tobacco was of the mildest
fragrance and the jewelled amber mouthpieces were such as might tempt
the lips of a smoke-abominating admiral.

In the course of the conversation Mrs Thorpe observed—

“How sad it is that young Hassan, who came up with us in the dahabiah
last year, and who seemed so gentle and polite, should now be a
ferocious captain of outlaws and banditti! I hear that he has become a
terror to the whole country.” At these words a burning blush mantled
over Amina’s neck and crimsoned her cheek up to the temples.

“The subject is painful,” she said, in a tone in which anger was
discernible through embarrassment. “You forget, madam, that he risked
his life to save mine, and was afterwards driven from our roof by an act
of cruelty never sanctioned by my father. He is now once more a Bedouin
in his native desert, and an English lady should know that Bedouins,
although wild and warlike in their lives, are not banditti.”

Mrs Thorpe saw by the hurried accent and kindling glance of the Turkish
maiden that she had ventured on dangerous ground, and she and her
daughter rose to take leave, and rejoined their dahabiah on the Nile.
They passed Siout and Keneh, and were already within a day of Thebes. Mr
Thorpe held in his hand a volume of Diodorus Siculus, but his eye
wandered often from its pages and rested on Emily’s countenance, where
he gladly traced the symptoms of improving health which the climate had
produced.

Suddenly were heard loud cries for “help” and “mercy” from the boatmen
on the shore who had been employed in slowly towing the heavy dahabiahs
from the bank against an adverse wind and current. Immediately above the
path was a dense copse of low brushwood, from which twenty or
twenty-five men, well armed, sprang upon them, and in an instant they
were thrown to the ground and secured, whilst the steersman, and the few
others who remained on board, exclaiming, “It is the band of Hassan
Ebn-el-Heràm,” gave themselves up for lost. The dahabiahs having been
hauled up to the bank (during which operation loaded carabines were
presented at the helmsman to warn him of the consequence of resistance),
the freebooters sprang on board, and having bound all the men of the
party, they proceeded to ransack the cabins and collect the spoil with a
coolness and deliberation which could only be the result of long
practice.

“Quick, my men,” shouted Abou-Hashem, for he it was who led the party;
“let us collect the spoil and mount for fear of interruption.”

The last package brought out from the cabin contained Mr Thorpe’s
writing-desk, and he called to Demetri, who was likewise tied on the
deck, to tell them that he would willingly give them his money, but that
the desk contained papers of value to him but of no use to them, for
which reason he hoped they would leave it. While Demetri was explaining
this to Abou-Hashem a crashing noise was heard among the bushes of the
copse on the bank, and in a second Hassan, followed by Abou-Hamedi and
Abd-hoo, stood on the deck of the dahabiah. The perspiration that
streamed from his face, and the crimsoned foam that stained the lower
border of his _serwal_,[108] betokened the furious speed at which he had
ridden; the veins on his forehead were swelled, and there was a
dangerous fire in his eye, which his habitual self-command was unable at
the moment to quell.

“Allah have mercy upon us!” groaned the Arab boatmen, recognising at
once by his haughty look and towering stature the terrible outlaw of
whose predatory feats they had heard so much; “we are all dead men now.”

“Mashallah! what an eye!” muttered another, who had been on hunting
expeditions in Soudan; “it is like that of a lion who has been struck by
a javelin.”

The freebooters dropped the half-raised packets of booty and listened in
sulky silence as, addressing Abou-Hashem, who stood within a few paces
of him, Hassan said—

“How have you dared to disobey my orders? Did I not tell you last night
when our spy reported and described these dahabiahs that they belonged
to Franghis who were my friends, whose bread and salt I had eaten, and
that I would not permit them to be injured?”

“And why are we to be cheated of our spoil?” replied Abou-Hashem,
furious at being called upon to resign so rich a booty; “why are we to
be robbed of the fruit of our risks and toil by your sympathy with these
unbelieving dogs? Am I not right, comrades?” said he, looking round at
the armed men grouped behind him. “We will no longer submit to this
tyranny; our arms shall keep what our arms have won.” A murmur of
applause from his brother-plunderers followed this speech.

“Hark ye, men,” said Hassan in a voice which seemed to gather stern
composure as the danger grew more imminent. “I am your chief, freely
elected by yourselves, and, by Allah! while I live amongst you I will be
obeyed. Not a parcel of booty, not a morsel of bread, shall ye plunder
from these boats.”

“Take, then, example from me,” shouted Abou-Hashem to the freebooters
behind him; and as he spoke he drew a pistol from his belt to level it
at his leader’s breast. But Hassan’s eye had been upon him, and quick as
thought one blow from the mace sent the pistol high into the air, and a
second stretched Abou-Hashem senseless on the deck.

“Take example from him,” said Hassan to the freebooters in a tone of
bitter scorn; “it is a deed worthy of the warriors of the desert to
murder their chief and to plunder those whose bread he has eaten.”
Observing symptoms of hesitation in the fierce and lawless band, he
continued, “Return to your duty, and I may yet forgive you: if you
refuse, the consequences be on your own heads.”

With a pistol in each hand he calmly awaited the result of the
conference which they held in a few brief and broken sentences. During
this time Abou-Hamedi and Abd-hoo stood beside their leader, pistol in
hand, and ready to spend the last drop of their blood in saving or
avenging him.

Hassan took advantage of the brief pause to say to Emily, who still
stood trembling near her bound father, “Sit down, sit down, lady, beside
your father; pistol-balls may be flying in a moment, and a stray one
might strike you. It is only my life now that they seek; and if I fall,
tell them in Cairo that Hassan’s death redeemed the last year of his
life.”

Having uttered these words in the low and gentle tone so well preserved
in Emily’s remembrance, he once more addressed the still hesitating
mutineers.

“Quick, men! declare your choice—obedience or death. There is no path
between the two.” None spoke, nor dared to meet the eye of his chief.
“It is enough, my men; I see that you are ashamed, and I may yet forgive
this morning’s work. Abd-hoo, unbind the Franghi bey. Abou-Hamedi, shoot
the first man dead who moves an arm to interrupt him.”

Whilst this order was being obeyed, and Abd-hoo was cutting the cords by
which Mr Thorpe had been bound, Hassan stood silently but keenly
scanning the countenances of the mutineers.

“What, my men,” he called aloud, “still hesitating to repair a fault
into which you were led by this headstrong fool!” pointing to the
motionless form of Abou-Hashem. “Since I have been your chief have I
been last in the attack or first in the flight? Have I been miserly in
spending with you my blood or my money?” A murmur of “Never” broke from
the group. “Why, then, when I have so often led you to plunder and to
victory, did you desire to cover my head with ashes, my name with
infamy? You did not know, what Abou-Hashem knew, that these dahabiahs
belonged to my friends—that I had eaten from their table and shared
their salt! When all the provinces of Egypt are open to our swift horses
and our sharpened steel, could you, brave warriors of the desert, find
no more honourable foray than to attack defenceless strangers, and
those, too, the friends of your leader? If such be your mind, I know you
no more. Go and choose another leader from among thieves and
_moharrabin_,[109] for Hassan will no longer be your chief.”

“We never knew that these Franghis were your friends, or that you had
eaten their salt,” said one, who undertook to be spokesman for the rest.

“I thought so,” replied Hassan; “but he, Abou-Hashem, knew it well. He
deceived you, and he has paid the penalty. Come hither, men, and remove
him to yonder _sant_-tree[110] on the bank: perhaps he yet lives, and
may be wiser hereafter. Remember that not a man is to remove the value
of one _para_ from these boats. I have sworn it, and, Wallah! if I live
I will keep my oath.”

Like hounds chidden by a huntsman, the subdued freebooters mechanically
obeyed.

Whilst they were employed in removing their stunned and still senseless
lieutenant, Abou-Hamedi and Abd-hoo busied themselves, by Hassan’s
order, in cutting the bonds of the captives, all of whom, Mr Thorpe
included, came to shake hands with Hassan and to thank him for his
generous interposition on their behalf, and would not listen to his
expression of deep regret that they should have been exposed to so much
alarm and inconvenience by his followers. But the victory had been won,
for they slowly left the dahabiahs without attempting to remove one of
the parcels of plunder which they had collected on the deck.

Mr Thorpe, after listening with grave attention to a few words whispered
in his ear by Emily, said to Hassan—

“My brave young friend, we owe all we have on board, perhaps even our
lives, to you, and we cannot bear that you should again incur the risk
of living among those lawless and bloodthirsty men: they will owe you a
spite for depriving them of their spoil, and perhaps when you are off
your guard will assassinate you.”

“Alas! sir, you are in error,” said Hassan, in a voice whose melancholy
and soft cadence contrasted strangely with the stern, deep tones in
which he had lately addressed his followers. “You owe me nothing but
forgiveness; for were it not for me, this lawless band might not have
existed, and you might have pursued your journey without this vexatious
incident. My lot is cast among them for the present; least of all could
I leave them now, when my doing so would be attributed to fear. We all
of us owe a life to destiny, and if a sword or bullet put an end to
mine, where is the father or mother, sister or child, to shed a tear on
the tomb of Hassan. No; these men must know and feel that I am their
master and fear them not! The day will come, Inshallah! before long when
I can part with them without regret or shame. May your journey be
prosperous and your days prolonged.”

As he said these words he bade them adieu, and in the Franghi fashion
shook hands with all the Europeans, without distinction of rank.

“Hassan,” said Mr Thorpe, taking him aside and speaking in a low voice,
“before we left Cairo my wife and Emily paid a visit to the harem of
Delì Pasha: they saw his daughter, and I must tell you that your present
mode of life makes them both most unhappy.” Hassan averted his face and
spoke not. Mr Thorpe continued, “Yes, Hassan, it makes every one unhappy
who has an interest in your welfare. It is a career in which you are
exposed every day to lose your own life, or to take that of others,
without honour or glory. Be persuaded to abandon it ere it is too late.”

Mastering his emotions by a strong effort, Hassan replied—

“You know how I was driven from society by injustice. I feel that the
advice which you give is kindly meant, and I thank you for it; but we
who are children of the desert attach no dishonour to the life that I
now lead: it is such as our fathers have led before us for centuries.”

“But you are not in the desert, Hassan,” said Mr Thorpe gently; “those
to whom your band is a terror are merchants, villagers, and travellers.
Even now it was only at the risk of your life that you saved us and our
property from the ferocity of those who call you chief. Can you wonder
that the daughter of Delì Pasha should weep when your name is
mentioned?”

“Did she weep? when and where?” said Hassan.

“Yes; she wept in my daughter’s arms. She could not speak, but her
altered appearance shows how much she has suffered.”

“Allah! Allah!” said Hassan, hiding his face for a moment in his hands;
then, as if ashamed of his emotion, he wrung Mr Thorpe’s hand with an
energy that nearly dislocated the worthy antiquary’s fingers, and
hastily uttering, “Farewell, sir; I will not forget what you have said,”
he leapt ashore, followed by Abou-Hamedi and Abd-hoo, and rejoined his
band beyond the copse whence they had attacked the dahabiah.

For many days the life of Abou-Hashem was despaired of, and even when by
slow degrees he recovered somewhat of his strength, and was able to sit
on horseback, his senses seemed wavering and unsettled. Many amongst the
band wore a sulky and dissatisfied air, and Hassan saw that on the first
favourable opportunity they were not unlikely to desert or betray him.
With the bold frankness which formed the leading feature of his
character, he resolved to come to an open explanation with them, and
then to resign the office which they had conferred on him. Having called
them all together, he said—

“My men, I see that you are still vexed at my having disappointed you of
the spoil of those dahabiahs. As for the blow which I gave to
Abou-Hashem, I speak not of it: you saw that he attempted to take my
life, and I defended it. How much, think you, would you have obtained
had I permitted you to plunder those Franks?”

“We might have divided perhaps twenty purses [£100], besides the Franghi
clothes, which were indeed of little value to us,” replied one fellow,
in a sulky tone.

“How much have you belonging to me?” said Hassan to Abou-Hamedi, who had
charge of that portion of the spoil which had fallen to his share as
leader.

“I have forty purses,” replied Abou-Hamedi, after examining the contents
of a bag which he carried in his belt.

“Here then, my comrades, are thirty purses,” said Hassan, again
addressing the freebooters; “take them and divide them among you: they
will compensate for your disappointment. Abou-Hamedi and Abd-hoo, you
have both been true and faithful to me; here are five purses for each of
you. Now I resign my command, and leave you to follow your own counsel
and your own path. We part as friends, I hope?”

“Mashallah! your hand is always open,” shouted the freebooters, ashamed
of their late conduct. “Stay with us, and be still our leader; we will
never disobey you again.”

“It cannot be,” said Hassan; “my destiny compels me to go to Cairo,
where certain death would await you all, and where it is not unlikely to
await me also: but what is written must come to pass—there is neither
power nor strength but in Allah. Abd-hoo, bring me my horse. Farewell,
comrades; may happiness attend your path.”

So saying, he vaulted on the back of Shèitan and rode slowly away in a
southerly direction.

It was evident to all the band, from his abstracted air and the grave
melancholy of his voice, that something weighed heavily on his spirits,
and they noticed also that although he spoke of going to Cairo, the path
he had taken went in the direction precisely opposite.

For an hour he rode slowly forward, revolving in his mind the last words
addressed to him by Mr Thorpe, when, hearing behind him the sound of
horses’ feet, he turned and found he was followed by Abou-Hamedi and
Abd-hoo, the latter driving a mule laden with saddle-bags containing
Hassan’s clothes and spare arms.

“What is this?” said Hassan; “did I not bid you farewell?”

“And did you think,” said Abou-Hamedi, in a tone in which indignation
almost mastered his habitual respect for his chief, “that Abd-hoo and I
would take your money and leave you thus? What have we done that you
should think so meanly of us?”

“Forgive me,” said Hassan, “I have done you wrong; but my heart was
heavy, misfortune hangs over me, and I thought it best to meet my fate
alone.”

“Be it misfortune, or prison, or death, we will share it with you,” was
the exclamation of Abou-Hamedi, echoed by a hearty “Yes, by Allah!” from
the faithful black.

“Be it so,” said Hassan, much affected by their devoted attachment; “we
will part no more.” So saying, he rode once more forward in the same
direction as before; but Abou-Hamedi, who had in gaining his point
recovered his former spirits and energy of character, came up to him and
said, with a comic gravity—

“Hassan, you told us you were going to Cairo; have you forgotten that
the path we are following will take us to Esnah and Assouan?”

“I know it,” he replied; “but before returning to Cairo I wish to see
El-Uksor[111] and the wonderful monuments of which I have heard so much.
The party of Franks are there, and I must speak to them again before I
visit Cairo.”

“There is a governor at El-Uksor; will the Franks not betray us to him?”
said Abou-Hamedi doubtingly.

“Never!” replied Hassan with something of his former energy. “Allah has
not given them light to dwell in the true faith, but they have hearts
open to kindness and friendship.”


We may here mention that the band lately commanded by Hassan, dispirited
by the loss of a chief who had been the life and soul of every daring
enterprise, and anxious to retain, without molestation from the Egyptian
authorities, the considerable booty which they had amassed, were not
long in breaking up, some seeking concealment among the Arabs bordering
the desert, and the greater number joining a large caravan of pilgrims
returning from Mecca to the west by the route of Cosseir and Keneh.

About a week after the occurrence of these events the Thorpe party were
assembled at Thebes. Mr Thorpe, accompanied by Müller, was busy in
copying hieroglyphic inscriptions. At a little distance from them Emily,
seated on a fragment of stone, was sketching the interior of that
magnificent temple whose massive proportions and antique beauty excited
the admiration of the Romans eighteen centuries ago.

“What a picturesque and appropriate addition to this classic scene!”
said Emily, half aloud to herself, as her eye rested upon the figure of
a stranger who had just entered the temple from the side, and was
looking up, apparently awed and surprised, at its gigantic though
harmonious proportions.

He was a large, powerful man, considerably above middle height. His dark
eye, sparkling with the fire of vigorous manhood, belied the age which
the massive grey beard descending on his breast might seem to indicate,
while the folds of his ample turban, the cashmere shawl around his
waist, in which were two silver-mounted pistols, and the sword that hung
at his side, bespoke at once a man of rank and a soldier.

“Do you know who he is?” said Emily, addressing Demetri.

“Yes, signora,” replied the loquacious interpreter; “though he only
arrived here yesterday, I have found out all about him. His name is
Dervish Bey, known as Es-Seyaf, or the Swordsman. He was one of the most
celebrated warriors in Mohammed Ali’s army of Arabia. He has lately been
Governor of Assouan, but is now on his way to Cairo. His boats are gone
on and wait for him at Keneh, to which place he travels on horseback
attended by two or three mounted followers. They say that with that very
sword now at his side he has often cut off the head of an ox at a single
blow.”

“I hope he will not cut off any of our heads,” replied Emily, smiling.

“Were he to attempt it, lady, you would not be without a defender,” said
a low voice in English immediately behind her. At the sound of that
well-known voice the blood rushed to Emily’s temples as she turned and
saw Hassan before her.

“I beg pardon for having startled you by my sudden appearance,” said
Hassan.

“I was, indeed, surprised at your unexpected appearance,” said Emily,
recovering herself; “but you know we are always glad to see you, Hassan.
Will you come and speak to my father?” and she led the way to the spot
where Mr Thorpe was transferring hieroglyphics to his album.

From him, as well as from Müller, Hassan received a friendly welcome,
and in a brief conversation which ensued our hero informed them that he
had finally quitted his roving life and his lawless band. Whilst they
were still conversing, Dervish Bey approached the party, and observing
that Hassan spoke to them in their own language, saluted him, adding,
“Will you ask the Frank ladies whether one of them has lost a ring?”

Hassan having repeated the question, Emily, looking at her hand,
observed that in the surprise which his sudden appearance had occasioned
a ring had dropped from her finger. “Yes,” she replied, “I see that I
have lost my small emerald ring.”

“I have had the good fortune to find it,” said Dervish Bey, “near to the
spot where the Khanum was sitting.” So saying, he handed it to Hassan,
who delivered it to the owner.

“Pray express my thanks to him,” said Emily.

In obeying this command Hassan employed language so correct and
courteous that the Bey’s curiosity was excited, and he fixed upon him a
glance of keen scrutiny. His eye was met by one frank and fearless as
his own; and while the Bey looked with admiration at the noble features
and commanding form of the young Bedouin, our hero thought that he had
never seen the vigour of manhood so happily united to a snowy beard—that
object of profound reverence to youth in the East.

No sooner had the Bey left than Mr Thorpe asked Hassan if they had ever
met before.

“No,” he replied; “I am only just arrived, and know not who he is.” They
then communicated to him the intelligence which Demetri had obtained
respecting his name and history.

“What!” exclaimed Hassan, “is that the famous Dervish, the swordsman?
Often have I heard Delì Pasha speak of his gallant feats in Arabia, and
he looks like what they say of him: would that I had met him when he was
twenty years younger!”

“Wherefore, Hassan?” inquired Emily, timidly.

“That I might have proved my sword against his,” replied Hassan, his
eyes flashing as he spoke.

“Surely, Hassan,” said Mr Thorpe, mildly, “you could not indulge in
hostile feelings towards one whose manner and appearance entitle him to
respect.”

“I was wrong, sir,” replied Hassan; “I should ask pardon for my hasty
speech. I have lived so much of late among those who are always engaged
in strife, that I almost forgot that life has any other occupation.
Believe me that I pay due honour to his white beard, and in the hasty
words which I spoke I only meant that I envied him the honourable fame
that his sword has obtained for him.”

A moonlight November evening at Thebes—who that has once enjoyed can
ever forget it? The mild and temperate air; the noble river—the author
and nourisher of all the fertility of Egypt—rolling its majestic tide
beneath the time-honoured remains of the temple of Luxor; a mile or two
to the northward the yet more ancient and magnificent ruins of Karnak;
while at some distance inland, on the opposite banks of the Nile, are
dimly discernible the Memnonium, celebrated in classic fable, and the
hills, within whose chambered sides repose the ashes of the mighty of
olden time—monarchs who had conquered kingdoms and raised imperishable
monuments of architecture and art ere Greece or Rome had emerged from
the insignificance of barbarism.

Such was the scene where the Thorpes were assembled on the evening which
followed the events just related. Hassan was with them, and had already
during the day drawn from Mr Thorpe a detailed account of the ladies’
visit to Amina; and as he heard recounted the deep emotion caused by the
mention of his name, hope had once more arisen within his breast. Near,
too, sat Dervish Bey, who had deferred his departure, and had
courteously accepted Mr Thorpe’s invitation to take a cup of coffee with
their party. None of them failed to observe with how scrutinising a
glance his eye rested upon Hassan, and Mr Thorpe felt convinced that the
ex-Governor either had learnt or suspected that the young Bedouin before
him was no other than Hassan, the far-famed outlaw. Upon Mr Thorpe’s
hinting as much to Hassan, he replied with a smile—

“If it be so, there is no harm. Dervish Bey is a brave soldier, not a
spy or informer.”

On the following morning Abou-Hamedi, who had been absent the greater
part of the night, reported to Hassan that he had obtained information
of a band of thieves in the neighbourhood who seemed to have evil
intentions towards Dervish Bey. He had accidentally fallen in with one
of these fellows at a small coffee-house in the village of Luxor, and
suspecting from casual expressions that he belonged to some band who
meant mischief, he plied him so well with arrack and the intoxicating
drug called _hashish_ that he was able to learn from the man that he was
associated with a body of thieves and _moharrabin_, the latter of whom
had escaped from the conscription lately issued in Upper Egypt for the
levy of troops to march into Sennaar. Several of these fellows had been
flogged for insubordination by Dervish Bey, who was a severe
disciplinarian, and having ascertained that he was travelling down to
Keneh on horseback with only a few followers, the greater part of his
suite being on board his boats, they had laid a plot to waylay and rob
him in some unfrequented part of the road. Abou-Hamedi encouraged his
tipsy friend to believe that he highly approved the scheme, and hoped to
participate in its execution.

Hassan lost no time in returning to Luxor in order to put Dervish Bey on
his guard, and was disappointed to find that the old soldier had started
at daybreak, and was already some miles on his way.

Hassan resolved to follow him immediately. Before doing so he called on
Mr Thorpe, and having informed him of the intelligence that he had
received, recommended him to communicate it without delay to the
Governor of Luxor, and to have the guards doubled for the protection of
his own dahabiahs, lest the predatory band should be tempted to pay him
a visit.

Mr Thorpe thanked him for his warning, and placed in his hands a letter,
which he requested that he would find means to deliver to the Viceroy’s
interpreter, a commission which Hassan promised to fulfil. He was not
aware that it contained an account of the attack made upon his boats by
Abou-Hashem’s band, and of the manner in which his party and his
property had been rescued by Hassan at the imminent risk of his life.
Our hero was so anxious to overtake Dervish Bey, and to warn him of the
plot laid by the _moharrabin_, that, bidding the Thorpes a hasty but
cordial farewell, he galloped off in the direction of Keneh.

Meanwhile Dervish Bey, unsuspicious of any danger, passed the ruins of
Karnak and continued his course to the northward, intending to reach at
nightfall a small village called Solemieh, which belonged to him, and
the rents of which had fallen somewhat in arrear. He was accompanied
only by his _khaznadâr_, his _chibouqchi_, two armed servants, and a
couple of _sàises_, who looked after his baggage-mules, which were three
in number.

He had journeyed about ten miles, and was crossing a desert plain on
which no human habitation was visible, and where the neglected soil
produced nothing but that rank mixture of tall weeds called in Egypt
_khalfah_. His thoughts were dwelling on his unexpected meeting with the
Frank party at Luxor, and, more than all, on the young Bedouin, whose
remarkable appearance and qualities had strongly excited his interest.
That the latter was, indeed, the formidable outlaw of whom he had heard
so much he had no doubt; yet, instead of the fierce, rough bandit whom
he had pictured to himself, he had found a gentle-mannered,
noble-looking youth, speaking the language of the Franks, and evidently
esteemed by them; one, moreover, the characteristic expression of whose
countenance seemed to be a thoughtful melancholy, and whose taste for
poetry and conversation appeared totally at variance with the deeds of
lawless violence and daring attributed to him by report.

Whilst he was riding slowly on, musing on these things with an interest
which he could scarcely explain to himself, his _khaznadâr_ rode up and
called his attention to a party of about twenty men who were
approaching, and whose appearance was anything but reassuring. They were
a strangely-assorted band, half on horseback, half on foot, some armed
with guns, some with lances, and all with swords of different fashion.
From the weather-stained and tattered remains of uniform still visible
in the attire of some of the party, the experienced eye of Dervish Bey
recognised them at once as _moharrabin_,—men who, as they rob and
plunder with a halter round their necks, are generally the most cruel
and bloodthirsty of lawless bands.

Dervish Bey lost not a moment in ordering his small party to get ready
their swords and pistols, and as the robbers drew near he called out to
inquire what they wanted. The only reply was a musket-ball, which passed
close by his cheek.

Regardless of the disproportion of numbers, the brave old soldier struck
his stirrups into his horse’s flanks, and, followed by his attendants,
charged full at the centre of the band. So well did he wield his
once-renowned sword that several had already fallen victims to its edge
when an unlucky ball entered the eye of his horse, which reared and fell
on its side. In vain did he struggle to withdraw his leg from the
carcass of the dead horse, which pinned it to the ground; but his right
arm was free, and he still continued to ward off the cuts which one or
two of the cowardly miscreants on foot were making at his head.

At this moment a black steed passed like a meteor by the fallen Bey,
while a single groan announced the fate of one of those who had been
cutting at him. Again the black horse wheeled and was at his side, and
the second robber fell dead by his companion.

The Bey caught sight of the rider’s face, changed indeed from what he
had seen on the preceding day. Now the angry veins swelled on the brow,
fire darted from the flashing eyes, and the sweep of the vengeful arm
was like a tempest. Again and again did he charge among the astonished
banditti, shouting and dealing his terrible blows, each of which bore
with it a life or a limb. Cuts and bullets were aimed at him during his
headlong course, but it seemed as if he were proof against lead or
steel.

His impetuosity had carried him to some distance from the prostrate
soldier, when he saw that again several of the miscreants on foot were
approaching to despatch him. Shouting aloud his war-cry of “Hassan
Ebn-el-Heràm” in a voice that rose high above the din of the conflict,
he dashed his stirrups into Shèitan’s flank, and in a few bounds was
again beside the fallen chief.

For a second the sound of that dreaded name seemed to paralyse every
arm, and Hassan had time to throw himself from his panting horse and to
cover with his own person, and with his sweeping sword, the helpless
form of the prostrate Bey.

Indignant at being foiled by a single man, they crowded around him, and
had he not succeeded in snatching from one of the robbers a round shield
of hippopotamus-hide, such as is used by the natives of Soudan, he must
soon have fallen beneath the blows aimed at him from so many quarters.
As it was, he fought like a lion at bay, and, though wounded in several
places, was still maintaining the unequal contest, when Abou-Hamedi and
Abd-hoo, who had been unable to keep up with the furious speed at which
Shèitan had borne his impetuous rider, now appeared on the scene. Two of
the ruffians who were attacking Hassan fell at once beneath the swords
of his faithful followers, and the remainder, astonished and
disheartened at this unexpected reinforcement, slowly retired.

Hassan vaulted once more on the back of Shèitan, refreshed by the short
breathing-time which his rider’s conflict on foot had allowed him, and
again shouting his war-cry, charged the hesitating band, accompanied by
his two brave attendants.

The robbers, not knowing how many more of Hassan’s followers might be
approaching, fled as fast as their legs and horses could carry them.
Several were killed and wounded by Abou-Hamedi and Abd-hoo, and two they
seized and brought back prisoners. While thus engaged, Hassan returned
to Dervish Bey and exerted all that remained of his fast-failing
strength in extricating him from the carcass of the dead horse—an object
which he had scarcely effected ere he sank down beside him, weak and
exhausted from loss of blood.

A happy smile passed over his features as he observed that the brave old
soldier was altogether unhurt. The latter, with the ready presence of
mind gained in many a former fight, wasted not a moment in thanking his
deliverer, but busied himself in examining and binding up his wounds.

The worst of these proved to be two deep sabre-cuts, one in the side and
another in the thigh. These he carefully closed and bound, and then he
observed that blood was still trickling down his chest from a cut
between the neck and shoulder-blade. While engaged in stanching and
dressing this, his eye fell upon the amulet which Hassan wore round his
neck, and the trembling hand of the veteran was scarcely able to
accomplish the task ere he whispered with a faltering tone—

“Hassan, whence got you that amulet?”

“It was on my neck when I was left an infant on the base of the
Pyramid,” replied Hassan in a faint voice.

“My son! my son!” ejaculated the old soldier in a voice in which joy,
fear, and tenderness were strangely blended.

“Father! father! Allah be praised and thanked that I have found thee, if
it be only to die on thy breast,” murmured Hassan, as he threw his arms
round the veteran’s neck and fainted.

“Thou shalt not die, my beloved, my gallant boy,” said the Bey, almost
fiercely. “And yet,” he added in a softened tone, as a tear trickled
down his weather-beaten cheek and fell on the unconscious form of
Hassan, “by Allah! and by my father’s grave, wert thou now to die, I
would not change thee for the proudest and noblest of the living.”[112]

Hassan was laid gently on the ground, and Abou-Hamedi brought water from
a neighbouring creek, which they sprinkled on his forehead; while
Dervish Bey produced from one of his saddle-bags a small phial
containing a cordial, which he always carried with him on his journeys,
and a few drops of which soon restored Hassan to consciousness.

“Was it a dream? Father! father!” were the first words he uttered.

Beckoning to Abd-hoo to assist him, Abou-Hamedi collected the mules,
which had strayed to some distance, and placed on them the Bey’s
_khaznadâr_ and _chibouqchi_, who were both severely wounded: then he
carefully reloaded his pistols and made Abd-hoo do the same, with a
significant hint to the two prisoners that if they attempted to escape,
their brains should be blown out. He then came up to the Bey and
whispered to him—

“Excellency, we must lose no time in returning to Luxor: Hassan and the
only two of your followers who survive are badly wounded. The Franks
have always plenty of medicines, and Müller is a skilful hakim; let us
place Hassan on my horse, and Abd-hoo will walk beside his saddle and
support him. You can ride Abd-hoo’s horse and watch the prisoners, while
I follow on foot and look after the mules.”

Dervish Bey, who had somewhat recovered his composure, saw that the
advice was good. The _cortége_ having been organised as Abou-Hamedi
suggested, and Hassan having been gently lifted into the saddle, where
his half-inanimate form was supported by the powerful arm of Abd-hoo,
they set out on their return, Abou-Hamedi bringing up the rear and
leading the faithful Shèitan, who, like his master, was badly wounded
but not disabled. In this guise they returned slowly, but without
accident, to Luxor.

Müller’s surgical practice and readiness of resource were now productive
of the best results. His own bed was given up to Hassan, whose wounds
were skilfully dressed, and who soon fell asleep, although the murmured
words of “Father,” “Shèitan,” and “Amina” which escaped his lips proved
that his wandering thoughts were busy with the past, and that a fever
crisis was yet to be feared.

That evening, after the wounds of all the sufferers had been attended to
and every arrangement made for their comfort, Dervish Bey related to the
Thorpes the strange accident by which he had recognised his long-lost
son, and the heroic gallantry with which he had defended an unknown
father’s life against such overwhelming numbers.

On the following day the Governor of Luxor, who was only a colonel, and
consequently of inferior rank to Dervish Bey, went out by desire of the
latter with a party of soldiers and fellahs to the scene of conflict in
order to bury the dead. They were guided by Abou-Hamedi, who easily
recognised and pointed out the spot where the Bey’s horse had fallen
upon its side, the rider having been unable to withdraw his leg from its
pressure. There still lay the horse, and around it seven dead bodies of
the thieves attested the desperate valour with which Hassan had defended
the fallen Bey.

A very short time elapsed ere Müller was able to assure Dervish Bey that
the youth and vigour of Hassan’s constitution had triumphed over all
dangerous symptoms. His strength was prostrated by great loss of blood;
but this very circumstance saved him from the fever which had threatened
to result from his severe wounds. Hassan learned with grateful pleasure
that his faithful Shèitan had come in for his share of the attendance of
the indefatigable Müller, who had sewed up the sabre-cuts and
successfully extracted two balls which the gallant horse had received in
the affray.

As soon as Hassan was able to sit up, an easy-chair was placed for him
in the open air by his English friends, and daily he sat there with his
father beside him, each looking upon the other with an affection too
deep for words—an affection that seemed as if it were endeavouring by
its intensity to make amends for the long separation to which they had
been exposed by Fate.

This new and blessed sensation of filial love, and the happy feeling
that he had been the fortunate instrument of saving that honoured
parent’s life, gave to Hassan’s mind a feeling that now he had not lived
in vain, and hope whispered to him that the son of Dervish Bey might
aspire without presumption to the hand of Amina.

He was thus gradually recovering his health and strength, and during the
hours of his convalescence listened with eager interest to the history
of his father’s fortunes, a brief abstract of which we will now subjoin.

About seventeen years before the opening of our tale Selim Aga, a young
man of good birth and connections in Constantinople, being a son of a
former Governor of Damascus, came to Egypt in the train of the chief
eunuch, who had been despatched, with a numerous and honourable suite,
as bearer of a diamond-hilted sword and other valuable presents from the
Sultan to Mohammed Ali,—the chief object of his mission being to incite
the warlike Governor of Egypt to undertake an expedition against the
Wahabees, who were threatening to subvert the imperial power in Arabia.
In the suite of the chief eunuch there were also Ingòu Khanum, a young
lady of high rank, who had been betrothed to Mustapha Bey, the Viceroy’s
brother-in-law, and her younger sister, for whom the chief eunuch
proposed to find an honourable alliance in the viceregal family. But by
one of those accidents which occur in voyages, the latter saw Selim Aga,
and they fell in love with each other.

She contrived to escape from the harem to which she had been brought in
Cairo, flew to her lover, who married her secretly and conveyed her to a
house which he had taken for the purpose in Ghizeh.

The rage of the chief eunuch knew no bounds. All Cairo was searched, but
in vain; her disguise as an Egyptian woman, residing in a cottage at
Ghizeh, protected her for a time, and the chief eunuch returned to
Constantinople without having been able to discover her retreat.

The young couple lived for some time happily in their retirement, Selim
Aga continuing to serve the Viceroy in Cairo and visiting his wife by
stealth. However, some one who entertained a spite against him
discovered his secret, and orders were given for the immediate seizure
of his wife and himself: he fortunately received notice of this order in
time to hasten to his cottage at Ghizeh and warn his wife of their
perilous situation.

Not a moment was to be lost: disguised as a fellah, she sought and found
refuge in the house of a kind-hearted neighbour; whilst he, snatching up
their only child, with the few articles of value that he could secrete
about his person, galloped off to the desert and placed his child in the
hands of an Arab woman whom he found seated at the base of the Great
Pyramid. Thence he fled towards Lower Egypt as fast and as far as his
horse could carry him. In the neighbourhood of Alexandria he threw off
his Turkish dress, having procured and assumed that of a wandering
dervish.

When his beard and his hair had become sufficiently long and matted, and
his face stained enough to ensure him against recognition, he ventured
to return to Cairo in order to inquire into the fate of his wife; but
all his researches proved unavailing, although he had the satisfaction
of learning that she had eluded the search of those who were ordered to
seize her.

Still habited and disguised as a dervish, he found his way with a
caravan of pilgrims to Mecca, and thence, following the bent of his
early habits and predilections, joined the army of Ibrahim Pasha,
engaged in hostilities with the Wahabees.

On one occasion, when Ibrahim was nearly surrounded and hard pressed by
a body of the enemy, he was surprised by hearing beside him the loud
shout of a dervish (“Allah-hoo! Allah-hoo!”), who, armed with an
enormous club garnished with iron spikes, came forward to the rescue.
Horse and man went down before the sweeping blows of the dervish’s
terrible weapon. Apparently reckless of life, he went forward striking
to the right and the left, and shouting “Allah-hoo!” in a voice that
terrified the Arabs, who, thinking that he must be a _jinn_ or _afreet_,
fled before him. When the battle was over, Ibrahim sent for him to his
tent and inquired what he could do to reward him.

“Give me a horse and a sword,” was the reply of the dervish; “I ask no
more.”

“That you shall have,” replied Ibrahim; “and, Wallah! if thou canst use
a sword as thou dost handle that knotty club, it will not be long before
thou dost attain to honour and distinction.”

The horse and the sword were given, and in every succeeding action the
dervish, still clothed in the same wild attire, was in the foremost
ranks, shouting “Allah—hoo!” and striking down all before him. Such was
his skill in the use of the sword that he was soon known in the Egyptian
army as Dervish the Swordsman; and although, as he rose in rank, he laid
aside the mendicant dress for that of an officer, he never thought fit
to resume his original name, but retained that under which by his valour
he had attained the rank of bey. He had the rare good fortune to be
equally a favourite with Mohammed Ali and Ibrahim, as he never mixed in
any political intrigues, but simply did his duty as a brave soldier.

“And have you never succeeded in learning what became of my mother?”
inquired Hassan when the veteran had concluded his narrative.

“Never,” he replied. “I learnt indeed that she visited her sister in
disguise, who received her kindly, and procured for her, under a feigned
name, a home in the harem of one of our pashas; but her sister is dead,
and her secret died with her, unless, indeed, it be known to an old
woman who was her favourite slave, and whom, if she be yet alive, I will
try to find in Cairo.”

“Inshallah!” ejaculated Hassan earnestly, “may we find her.”

He then related to his father the incidents of his own brief but
eventful life, which he did with the unassuming simplicity and
truthfulness natural to his character. He made no secret of his
attachment to Amina, or of the circumstances under which it had been
fostered, and renewed hope arose in his breast when he found that his
father and Delì Pasha were old companions in arms and intimate friends.

Hassan’s impatience to reach Cairo, in the hope of seeing Amina and
tracing his mother, became now so great that Dervish Bey could not long
resist it; but before setting out he determined, with the usual energy
of his nature, to break up the band of thieves by whom he had been
attacked, and who, notwithstanding the severe loss they had sustained,
might still be sufficiently strong to do much mischief in the
neighbourhood.

A liberal application of the stick to the two who had been captured soon
induced them to betray the habitual rendezvous of the band, and Dervish
Bey, accompanied by the Governor and a party of fifty horsemen, having
made a rapid night march to the indicated spot, came upon them at dawn
so unexpectedly that they had not time to make an effectual resistance
or escape. A few were killed, and the greater part of the remainder were
led back prisoners to Luxor, whence they were forwarded under a guard to
Cairo, the galleys at Alexandria being their ultimate destination.

Having accomplished this task, Dervish Bey no longer resisted the urgent
entreaties of Hassan that he should proceed to Cairo without delay. Mr
Thorpe having brought up with him two tents, which were pitched on the
river-bank, and sufficed for the accommodation of his party, he was able
to lend his smaller dahabiah to convey Dervish Bey to Keneh, where his
own boats awaited him. It was agreed that Abd-hoo should accompany
Hassan, while Abou-Hamedi led Shèitan by slow stages to the capital.

Before leaving his kind English friends Dervish Bey testified his
gratitude for the care and attention which they had shown to Hassan by
giving them two curious relics which he happened to have with him, and
which Hassan assured him would afford them the greatest pleasure.

To Mr Thorpe he gave a rare antique scarabæus, attached by a gold chain
to a ring of the same metal, with a hieroglyphic inscription: it had
been found near Assouan, and though only of the Ptolemaic date, was a
very fine specimen. To Müller he gave a very old MS. of the New
Testament, found in a ruined Coptic convent in the Said: one-half the
page was written in Coptic and the other half in Greek. To Müller the
volume was a great prize.

When the hour of leave-taking arrived, Hassan shook hands with all the
party after the English fashion, thanking Mr Thorpe and Müller for all
their kindness during his illness in few but feeling words.

Dervish Bey, who had followed close by Hassan in his leave-taking, now
preceded him into the dahabiah, from whence they accomplished the voyage
to Cairo without accident, and proceeded at once to a fine house
belonging to the Bey, situated near the centre of the city, adjoining
the Birket-et-Fil, or the “Lake of the Elephant.”

The old soldier, knowing the severity of Mohammed Ali in all cases where
his authority had been publicly braved, hastened to the Viceroy’s
presence to explain to him the strange circumstances under which he had
recovered his long-lost son, and to solicit a full pardon of the
latter’s offences against the laws in Upper Egypt. He delivered also to
the interpreter the letter written by Müller, which was forthwith read
to the Viceroy. Mohammed Ali, who had listened with grave attention to
all the arguments adduced by Dervish Bey and to the contents of the
letter, said—

“Dervish, you know how highly I regard your services and your long-tried
fidelity, and how willingly I would grant any request of yours. I
rejoice, also, that you have recovered a son who is in many respects so
well worthy of you; for I confess to you that I took a great liking to
the lad, and our good hakim here is always speaking in his favour. I own
that I owe him a debt for saving your life, my faithful old comrade,
when he did not know that you were his father.”

So far Mohammed Ali spoke in a kind and friendly tone: he added, with
somewhat of severity in his manner, “But, Dervish, you must not forget
that Hassan for some time openly defied my authority, and I am bound to
listen to the complaints of the villagers and caravans who were
plundered by his band: such deeds cannot go unpunished while I rule in
Egypt. The government of the interior I intrust to the Kiahia Pasha, and
I must consult with him before coming to a decision. Meanwhile go to
your home, and consider Hassan as being under arrest in your house: you
are answerable for his appearance when required, and I will cause the
orders issued for his apprehension to be cancelled. For the present be
satisfied with this. You may retire, and Allah be with you!”

Dervish Bey well knew from the tone in which these words were spoken
that all further appeal at the time was unavailing, so, with a
respectful salam to the Viceroy, he withdrew and returned home to report
to Hassan the result of his interview.

Our hero was by no means discouraged thereby, for he saw that he stood
high in the Viceroy’s opinion, and he felt tolerably sure that both in
Delì Pasha and in the Kiahia himself he would find advocates of his
cause. On the subject his mind was soon made easy by his old friend and
comrade Reschid, who no sooner heard of his arrival in Cairo than he
hastened to him and embraced him heartily.

“Mashallah!” said Reschid, gazing at Hassan, whose countenance was
bronzed and his figure developed by a year passed in constant exercise
and exposure; “I left you a lion, and I find you an elephant. By the
life of the Prophet, Hassan, I have often secretly envied your Bedouin
life. I laughed heartily, and I can tell you that my Pasha in his
private room laughed heartily also, at your having sent that
ill-favoured cur Osman Bey into his own town tied on the back of an
ass!”

“Then you do not think,” said Hassan, “that the Kiahia will be very hard
on my follies? Much will depend upon it, for the Viceroy told my father
that he intended to consult the Kiahia on the subject.”

“In the _mejlis_” (_i.e._, the council), “and in the presence of
others,” replied Reschid, “the Kiahia will talk before Mohammed Ali with
great solemnity and severity about offences against the laws, &c., but
when they are together in private, he will tell him that you were a
hot-blooded youngster, driven mad by the insulting cruelty of Osman Bey;
and it is fortunate that even the merchants and villagers who have sent
in complaints of having been plundered by your band have always written
that you never permitted any bloodshed, and that you often restored to
the poorest the booty taken from them. No, no, Hassan; you have nought
to fear, for we will bring such a battery to bear upon the Viceroy that
he will not be able long to hold out. We will attack him in front, while
a certain Khanum, whom I could mention, will besiege the harem; for we
have all heard how you saved the life of Delì Pasha’s daughter, and as
Fate seems to have destined you to be a robber, you began your trade by
stealing her heart.”

“Not so, Reschid,” replied Hassan, laughing; “I gave her my own first,
and if she would not give it me back, but chose to give me hers in place
of it, you cannot accuse me of theft.”

“I wish some dark-eyed houri would steal mine,” said Reschid, “for it is
a very troublesome article to keep in one’s own possession. I know not
why I should have lent you a large slice of mine from the date of our
first acquaintance, for you do not deserve it; you have not even offered
me your congratulations.”

“On what event?” said Hassan. “On your marriage?”

“Marriage? no,” replied his merry friend; “on becoming a great man! Have
you not heard that since we parted I have been made _khaznadâr_ to the
Kiahia? Mashallah! it is a wonderful office. Bakshishes are plentiful as
petitioners, and if I wanted money I should only have to stand for a
minute before our divan with my hand open and my eyes shut. Wallah!
Hassan, I am in a fair way to become a greater robber than ever you have
been.”

“I will not dispute the precedence with you,” replied Hassan. “I
congratulate you heartily; but as I am now a poor prisoner, and have no
bakshish to offer, I fear I cannot expect that your Excellency will
intercede with the Kiahia on my behalf.”

“Bakkalum! we shall see,” answered Reschid with mock gravity, and took
his leave.

Another of the earliest and most frequent of Hassan’s visitors was his
old friend Ahmed Aga, who brought him many kind messages from Delì
Pasha, although the latter had been forbidden by the Viceroy for the
present to visit Hassan in person. Neither did our hero long remain
without secret communication with his lady-love; for he had not been two
days in Cairo ere the _bowàb_ sent up word that a dumb boy wished to see
him, and Murad rushed into the room and kissed Hassan’s feet and hands
with every demonstration of overflowing attachment.

Our hero was much touched by the grateful affection of his mute
_protégé_, whom he received with all his former kindness, and he soon
found himself seated by the side of the intelligent boy practising over
again the finger-language that he had partially forgotten. His efforts
did not long go unrewarded, for he was soon able to comprehend that his
youthful companion was a frequent visitor to Delì Pasha’s harem, where
he was a great favourite of the old chief eunuch and of Fatimeh Khanum,
and that he sometimes had the honour of being introduced into the
presence of Amina herself. The young lady flattered herself that the
interest which she felt in the dumb boy arose entirely from compassion
for his infirmity, but it _may_ have been partially owing to his having
been a _protégé_ of Hassan.

How happily Hassan made him relate all his little tales of the harem—how
he had bought some fine blue beads for the eunuch and some sweetmeats
for Fatimeh, of which she had given him a portion to eat. “And see what
I got from another,” and as he spoke he pulled out a little bouquet of
flowers.

“Who gave you these? and for whom were they intended?” said Hassan,
impatiently.

“I must not tell,” replied the sly little messenger, giving them to
Hassan; “but I have done with them as I was bid.”

“And I,” replied Hassan, “must not give you any message concerning them,
but you may say what became of them,” and as he spoke he pressed them to
his lips, and opening his vest placed them near his heart. The little
boy smiled, and kissing his protector’s sleeve, withdrew to give an
account of his mission.

Cheered by such visits, Hassan’s time passed agreeably enough. Nor was
his confinement irksome, for at the back of his father’s house was a
space sufficiently large to admit of his taking his favourite exercise,
and he employed several hours in breaking in and training for the jereed
game several high-couraged young colts which he found in his father’s
stable.

Nevertheless, day after day passed without bringing any material change
in his situation. The exertions of his friends seemed to have failed in
inducing Mohammed Ali to grant him a free pardon, and Dervish Bey
refused to make any second application, saying—

“If the fact of the brave boy’s having saved the life of Mohammed Ali’s
faithful soldier and servant does not merit reward in his estimation, I
would rather cut out my tongue than apply to him again.”

Time wore on, and Hassan’s spirits, which had begun to be depressed by
the monotony of his life, were again refreshed by the arrival of
Abou-Hamedi leading Shèitan, who had entirely recovered from his wounds,
and whose coat, saving two or three honourable scars, was as bright and
glossy as ever.

A packet also reached Cairo from Hadji Ismael, the merchant, sent in
reply to a letter written to him by Hassan immediately on his arrival.
The packet contained all the relics which had been found on Hassan’s
infant person. Although not necessary to confirm Hassan’s identity, of
which the veteran had never entertained a doubt, a tear fell as he saw
these reminiscences of his youth and of his long-lost wife.

“Hassan,” said his father, “I have ascertained that the old woman from
whom I had hoped to learn something of your mother’s fate is dead; but
we must not abandon hope. Allah is great, and he is the revealer of
secrets. Our proverb says, ‘Patience is the key of happiness’; let us be
patient, my son, and trust in Allah.”

One day Dervish Bey, in consequence of a message received from Delì
Pasha, had gone to Boulak to pay him a visit. After the interchange of
the customary pipes and compliments the attendants were dismissed, and
Delì Pasha told his old comrade that he had just seen the Kiahia Pasha,
and had learnt from him that he entertained a good hope that Hassan
would soon receive a full pardon from the Viceroy, in confident
anticipation of which he wished to speak with him on the subject of the
marriage of their children, of whose mutual attachment there could be no
doubt.

Dervish Bey assured his old comrade of the sincere pleasure which the
alliance would give to himself, and after a brief and friendly
discussion respecting the dowry and the provision to be made for the
young couple, which terminated to their mutual satisfaction, Delì Pasha
said—

“Now, Dervish, that we are to be related by the marriage of our
children, and as you have no wife to settle these harem affairs for you,
it is right that you should see your intended daughter-in-law, and I
will send and inquire whether she is in her apartment and can receive us
now.” He clapped his hands and delivered the message to a servant, who
speedily returned from the harem door with the reply, “On our head be
it, we shall be honoured by your visit.”

Amina remained in her inner room. How her heart beat at the thought that
she was going to see Hassan’s father, and as she reflected that her
father could not have brought him to the harem had not the marriage been
agreed upon between them. Fatimeh Khanum was charged to receive them and
pay the first compliments in the outer apartment, after which she was to
introduce both to Amina’s presence.

As soon as they entered the harem curtain-door Fatimeh, in her capacity
of Kiahia Khanum, received them with a courteous salam, and commenced
the usual complimentary phrases of welcome, when her tongue began to
falter: she threw back her veil to see more clearly the features of
Dervish Bey, and then, throwing wide her arms in the attempt to embrace
his knees, she exclaimed, “Selim! Selim!” and fell fainting at his feet.

Raising her gently and placing her on a divan which was near, the
veteran gazed upon her altered but pleasing features, and tears of
joyful emotion started in his eyes as he said, “It is, indeed, my
long-lost Zeinab! Allah be thanked! what blessings has he poured on my
grey head.”

Amina, alarmed at the exclamation and the fall of her faithful friend,
whom she loved almost as a mother, rushed into the room, and giving a
rapid glance of greeting to her father, hastened to the side of the
insensible Khanum.

With what overwhelming emotions did the rude old soldier, who had been
for so many years cast out from all the comforts and tender ties of
domestic life, contemplate the lovely figure bending with all the
anxious care of a daughter over his newly-found wife. She sprinkled her
brow with water, chafed the cold hands within her own, and when she
found that her efforts were successful, and that the Khanum began to
recover her senses, she threw back the redundant tresses that had fallen
over her face and neck, and looking up in her father’s face, said,
almost in a tone of reproach—

“Father, what has been said or done to reduce my dear Khanum to this
state?”

“Come into the next room, my child, and I will tell you all,” said Delì
Pasha, leading her away; and then observing that the Khanum was fast
coming to herself, he added, addressing the other attendants, “Begone,
all of you, and wait without.”

While Delì Pasha was explaining to his daughter the unexpected accident
by which Dervish Bey had found in their Kiahia Khanum, whom they had
always known as Fatimeh, his long-lost wife Zeinab, the reunited couple,
left alone, were recounting to each other the incidents and adventures
that they had met with during their long separation; and when Fatimeh
learnt that Hassan was indeed her son, tears of grateful pride and joy
streamed from her eyes as she said—

“Oh, Selim, a secret voice in my heart whispered this to me, and yet I
dared not believe it. I saw him, and I loved him with an affection that
I could not explain to myself. In fear and terror I was the confidante
of his love for Amina. I thought that I was doing wrong; and yet, while
I warned and reproved them both, Allah knows how my heart bled and
longed to see them united. Allah be praised for all his goodness. They
will yet be happy! for in truth, Selim, there lives not in all Egypt a
maiden so sweet, so adorned with all high and lovable qualities, as my
Amina. Let us go in and see her, and let her know how happy we are.” So
saying, she led the way into the inner room, where Amina threw herself
into the Khanum’s arms. The tender words of “my mother” and “my child”
interchanged between them could scarcely add anything to the affection
which they had borne to each other in their former relation of
instructress and pupil.

Seldom does it happen that a Mohammedan soil, so sterile of domestic
affections, can witness so happy a kindred group as was there assembled;
and the news soon spread throughout the house that their Kiahia Khanum
was the mother of Hassan and the wife of Dervish Bey. All the eunuchs
and slave-girls in the harem crowded round her to kiss her hand, and she
found in their sincere congratulations a reward for the gentle rule that
she had exercised over them.

The other wives of Delì Pasha also sent over from the opposite wing of
the harem a message that they wished to come over and pay her a visit of
felicitation; and as it was contrary to etiquette that Dervish Bey
should see them, he availed himself of the opportunity to rise and take
his leave, saying—

“I must go and communicate this happy news to our dear boy: you know not
how his heart has longed to find and embrace his mother. Amina, may I
take him a message from you? What shall I say to him?”

A blush passed over the face of the maiden as she replied in a low
voice, “Say to him what your kind heart dictates. With my father’s
permission I will not gainsay your words.”

“May I tell him, then,” said the veteran, “that his faithful love is
returned?”

Amina raised her liquid eyes to her father’s face, and meeting there an
approving smile, she murmured, “Now, and for ever!”

With what a light and buoyant heart did the old soldier mount his horse
to return to his house and communicate his budget of glad tidings to his
son; but he was doomed to disappointment, for on inquiring for Hassan he
was nowhere to be found. One of the _sàises_, on being questioned,
stated that he had ridden out early in the morning, accompanied by
Abou-Hamedi, but no one knew whither he had gone.

“Rash boy!” exclaimed Dervish Bey; “now has he overthrown all our plans,
and dipped our hands in scalding water. He was under arrest, and ordered
to remain within these walls. Mohammed Ali will be furious, and Allah
knows how we shall appease his anger.”

Let us now explain the circumstances which had led to Hassan’s sudden
disappearance.

Before the dawn of this same day Hassan had been roused from his sleep
by the entrance of Murad, the dumb boy, who had with the greatest
difficulty awakened the drowsy _bowàb_ and obtained admittance. Our hero
saw at a glance that his young _protégé’s_ countenance was haggard and
careworn, and that he was exhausted by fatigue.

After ordering some bread and a cup of coffee to be brought immediately,
he asked Murad in his usual kindly tone what had led him to come before
daylight, and why he looked so pale and fatigued. The little boy gazed
at him earnestly, and then with his fast-moving fingers said, “A matter
of life and death.”

“Rest and compose yourself for a few moments,” replied Hassan, who saw
that the boy was in a state of nervous excitement, and he would not
permit him to begin his story until he had eaten some bread and drunk
his cup of coffee. But the secret with which Murad’s breast was charged
was of such a nature that he longed to unburden it to his protector,
fearing that the loss even of a few minutes might be productive of
disastrous consequences.

His narrative was as follows: On the preceding day he had accidentally
passed by a café situated near the Bab-en-Nasr (the Gate of Victory),
when he heard a voice within, which he thought he recognised as that of
Osman Bey, in conversation with another man, and he distinguished
plainly the names of Mohammed Ali, Delì Pasha, and that of the Kiahia,
mentioned in rapid and eager tones. In conclusion the one speaker said
to the other—

“It must be done quickly: meet me here again to-night, two hours after
sunset, and bring the others with you.”

Murad felt an irresistible curiosity to learn the subject of this
evening conference, and he did not anticipate much difficulty in doing
so, as he was well known to the keeper of the coffee-shop, a bluff old
Arnàout, who had often allowed the friendless and mutilated child to
earn or beg a few coppers at his door before the kindness of Hassan and
Amina had placed him beyond the reach of absolute want.

Hastening home, Murad took out of his box an old and ragged dress, which
he had not worn for a twelvemonth, and having put it on, hung round his
neck a tablet with which he had formerly solicited the assistance of the
charitable, and on which was written in Turkish and Arabic, “Give a few
_paras_ to the deaf and dumb for the love of Allah!”

He sallied forth about an hour after sunset, and made his way to the
café. Old Arnàout, on noticing him, said, “Murad, poor little fellow, it
is long since I have seen you; where have you been?” Receiving no reply,
he added, “I forgot that he can neither hear nor answer me”; so saying,
he dropped one or two copper coins into his hand, which Murad put into a
little tin box which was slung beside his tablet. He then entered the
café, as had been his custom of old, assisting the urchin who waited on
the guests in carrying them lighted coals for their pipes or taking away
empty _finjâns_ of coffee. But the guests were few, for the café was in
an unfrequented part of the town, and the weather was cold.

The last of them were just retiring when Osman Bey entered, accompanied
by three or four other men, all of whom, like himself, were wrapped in
large cloaks. It was evident that they were desirous of preserving an
incognito, for they had brought with them neither servants nor pipes:
they sipped, however, some coffee, and smoked the rude _chibouques_ of
the café.

After a short time they were joined by another party, consisting also of
four or five men, in the foremost of whom Murad recognised Ali Bey, the
colonel of the regiment of Bashi-Bazouks who were on duty at the
Esbekiah, and guarded Mohammed Ali’s palace in that quarter. For some
time they conversed on indifferent subjects, but ere long they called
for arrack, which seemed to loosen their tongues, while Murad went about
among them renewing their pipes.

“Who is this youngster?” said Ali Bey, catching him by the arm, while he
addressed the coffee-house-keeper.

“He is a poor child whom I have known for several years,” replied the
Arnàout. “He comes here sometimes to earn or beg a few _paras_; he is
deaf and dumb.”

“Is he?” replied Ali Bey, drawing the boy towards him and reading the
tablet on his breast; “then he is just the boy for us. Send out those
lads of yours, and Wallah! if we catch one of them coming within earshot
we will clip their ears for them; we want to talk over our private
affairs.” He added a few words in Greek which Murad did not understand,
to which the Arnàout replied by a wink and disappeared.

“Bring me a pipe,” said Ali Bey, suddenly turning to Murad and speaking
in a loud stern voice. Murad never stirred, but stared in the Colonel’s
face and opened his little tin box.

“Jaffier spoke the truth,” muttered the Colonel half aloud. “I thought
he would not dare to deceive me; the imp is as deaf as a stone.” They
then continued to drink their cans of arrack, which Murad refilled for
them, while they spoke without reserve of the plans which they had met
to arrange, and which were neither more nor less than to seize or kill
Mohammed Ali and overthrow his Government.

“Are you sure of your Bashi-Bazouks, Ali?” inquired Osman Bey.

“Never fear them,” replied Ali; “the dogs are as savage as bears. We
have drawn their pay from the Treasury, but we have not given them a
_para_ of it for some months, and have told them that Mohammed Ali
refuses to pay them and threatens to bastinado any of them that demand
their pay. They are all on guard at the Esbekiah Palace, and if he falls
into their clutches he will not give us much more trouble. The
difficulty is how to bring him there, for the guards at Shoobra are
obstinate fellows, and would fight like devils!”

“I will manage that matter,” said Osman Bey. “Those Shoobra guards are
from Delì Pasha’s regiment. I will go there to-morrow morning and ask an
audience of Mohammed Ali, and will easily persuade him that those guards
are not to be trusted, for that Delì Pasha wants to marry his daughter
to that outlawed robber Hassan, who is now in Cairo, and as they have
not been able to obtain his pardon, they are conspiring against the
Viceroy and tampering with the guards, who are of Delì Pasha’s own
regiment. Mohammed Ali will assuredly believe there is some truth in
this statement, and will agree to my proposal of coming in at once to
his palace at the Esbekiah.”

“Have you succeeded yet in introducing the brother of your man Ferraj
into the household at Shoobra?” inquired another of the conspirators.

“Yes,” replied Osman Bey. “Hadji Mohammed is employed in the house, and
tells me all that goes on. If our other plans fail, that scoundrel can
do the job for us with a cup of coffee; and he _must_ do my bidding, for
he knows that a word of mine can send him when I will to the _gellad_
[executioner] or the galleys.”

“How are your fellows, Nour-ed-din?” said Ali, the Colonel, addressing
one of the conspirators. “Can we count upon them?”

“I am not sure,” replied the officer thus interrogated. “I have kept
back their pay too, and have thrown out a few phrases to stir their
discontent. They grumble enough, and if our first blow succeeds they
will doubtless join us; but they are much afraid of Ibrahim Pasha. How
is he affected in this matter?”

“We must not tell it him beforehand,” replied Osman Bey; “for with all
his cruelty he is a craven at heart and might betray us, not from the
love but the fear that he has for Mohammed Ali. Let us put the Old Lion
out of the way, and I will answer for managing Ibrahim afterwards. He
will not be very angry, depend upon it.”

They then exchanged a few more sentences to regulate their proceedings
for the following day, of which Murad only caught the words, “You all
meet at my house at noon.” This was spoken by Ali Bey, who as he rose up
to go away almost stumbled over the prostrate form of Murad, who had
rolled himself in his old torn cloak and lay on the floor feigning
sleep, but listening with eager anxiety to the dangerous secrets of
which he had accidentally been made the partaker.

“What is this son of a dog doing here?” said Ali Bey, pointing with his
foot to the recumbent form of Murad.

“It is only the deaf and dumb child,” replied one of the others
contemptuously.

“Supposing he should prove to be neither deaf nor dumb, nor asleep?”
said the suspicious Arnàout.

“I will just give him six inches of my dagger in the ribs, and then I
shall be sure that he is deaf and dumb.” So saying, he drew his dagger,
and held over the boy’s face a half-expiring lamp that he snatched from
the table. A start, a tremor, the slightest indication of consciousness,
would have been Murad’s instant death-warrant; but the brave little boy
bore the severe ordeal. Not a muscle nor a quickened respiration
betokened aught but the quiet slumber of youth.

“Pish!” said the rough savage, “his sleep is fast enough, whether he be
deaf or not. Inshallah! before long my dagger will drink better blood
than his.” So saying, he strode out of the café, followed by the other
conspirators, who separated and went to their several homes.

For nearly an hour after they were gone Murad remained motionless
collecting his scattered thoughts, which, unaccustomed as they were to
dwell on conspiracies or political revolutions, seemed oppressed and
overwhelmed by the terrible secret which he bore about him.

No sooner, however, did he recover from the terror which he had endured
from the Arnàout’s dagger than he resolved at once to hasten to Hassan
and tell him everything. This he did before dawn, as we have above
mentioned; and our hero, having heard his tale, and made him repeat
certain portions of it so as to feel assured of the accuracy of his
memory, told Murad to remain in his room till he returned.

Having armed himself with a brace of pocket-pistols and a short dagger,
which he concealed within his vest, he mounted his horse, and,
accompanied by Abou-Hamedi, rode out towards the desert by the Gate of
Victory. After skirting the desert for a couple of miles he turned to
the left, through some cultivated fields and olive-plantations, until he
found himself at the gates of the Shoobra garden. His only fear was that
he might be denied access to the Viceroy; but he had made up his mind to
demand it through his old acquaintance the medical interpreter.

Assuming, therefore, an authoritative air, he said to the gatekeeper in
Turkish, “I wish to see the Hakim-Bashi, and my business with him is
urgent.”

The man, influenced by Hassan’s commanding figure and the use of the
Turkish language, immediately led the way to a small pavilion occupied
by the hakim, and adjoining the private apartments of the Viceroy.

When Hassan entered he found the Doctor sitting in a comfortable
dressing-gown drinking his cup of coffee and looking over the last
Italian journal. When he saw our hero, and received his salutation, he
seemed sorely perplexed, for a year and a half of hardship and exposure
had changed the youth into a powerful man; yet the frank, open
countenance, not easily forgotten, was there unchanged, and it was not
necessary for him to name himself, for the hakim broke out suddenly,
“_Cospetto di Bacco!_ it is Hassan himself. Why, man, I am glad to see
you—no, I am not; I am sorry to see you, for you must be mad. You know
that you are under arrest and forbidden to leave your father’s house—the
Viceroy will never forgive disobedience to his orders.”

“Excellency,” said Hassan gravely, “I have come upon a matter of life
and death, and I must see the Viceroy immediately and alone. It is not
my life or death that is at stake, but one of greater value to me, to
you, and to Egypt.”

“Per Bacco!” said the hakim, “your forehead looks like a thunder-cloud,
and you speak like a man who is in earnest. You wish to see the Viceroy
immediately and alone, you say?”

“Immediately,” repeated Hassan impatiently; “and alone.”

“But,” replied the cautious physician, “Mohammed Ali is a fearless
man—the world knows it; but would it be usual, would it be right, that
he should be left alone with——” Here the worthy physician hesitated as
he cast his eyes upon the powerful figure before him.

“With a freebooter and outlaw, you would say,” interposed Hassan, with
one of his frank smiles. “But I am not an assassin. I only said alone
because I know not who of all his Highness’s attendants are trustworthy!
However, I suppose you are, and therefore if the Viceroy pleases, you
may be present, and you may hold a loaded pistol at my ear all the time
that I am in his Highness’s presence.”

“I ask your pardon,” said the Italian hakim, offering his hand. “I did
not mean to offend or to hint at your being an assassin; but you know
what mischievous tongues wag in these Turkish _serais_, and how I should
be blamed were I not cautious in all that regarded the safety of my
chief. Now help yourself to a cup of coffee, and I will do your
commission at once.” So saying, the hakim disappeared through a
side-door that communicated directly with the Viceroy’s apartment. In
five minutes he reappeared, and making a sign to Hassan to follow, led
him to a small room where Mohammed Ali was seated in the corner on a
divan covered with rich crimson damask.

“You have broken your arrest,” said Mohammed Ali, fixing his piercing
eyes on Hassan as he entered; “I trust you have sufficient reason for
your disobedience.”

“Your Highness shall judge,” replied Hassan, “when you have heard what I
have to tell. I knew that I had already given you such serious ground of
offence that I would not for a light cause have added another to the
list.”

“Wallah! it is true that you have committed enough already in pillaging
my villages and my people,” said Mohammed Ali sternly; “let that pass
for the present, and say what you have to say before the Hakim-Bashi.”

Hassan proceeded to give a clear and distinct account of the conspiracy
as communicated to him by Murad. The expressive features of Mohammed Ali
underwent various changes during the narration, and his fingers more
than once clutched the handle of the sword that lay across his knee when
Hassan mentioned the names of the conspirators.

As soon as Hassan had concluded his narrative, Mohammed Ali, bending his
shaggy brows on the speaker, said, “By the head of my father, if this
tale be true, I will defile the graves of the fathers and mothers of
these ungrateful dogs. But how can I feel assured that the whole is not
an invention of this crazy, mutilated child?”

“I believe it is all true,” said Hassan with simple earnestness, “for
the boy, though dumb, is faithful and intelligent. I am sure he would
not deceive me, neither has he knowledge sufficient to refer to all
these names and plots if he had not heard them as he states. Moreover,
it is easy for your Highness to ascertain some points which may satisfy
you as to the truth of the whole.”

“Which points?” said the Viceroy hastily.

“First,” replied Hassan, “is it true that a man called Hadji Mohammed,
the brother of Osman Bey’s servant, Ferraj, has lately entered your
Highness’s service?”

“That is true,” interrupted the hakim; “for I have seen the fellow, and
an ill-looking dog he is.”

“Secondly,” continued Hassan, “if the boy’s story be correct, Osman Bey
will visit your Highness within an hour or two, and recommend you to
leave Shoobra and go into your palace of the Esbekiah, where Ali Bey’s
Bashi-Bazouks are on guard.”

“That is true,” replied the Viceroy; “a few hours will remove all doubt.
Hakim-Bashi, you remember that only a day or two ago the Kiahia wrote a
note to say that some strange rumours were afloat as to these
Bashi-Bazouks and another regiment being almost in mutiny from not
having received their pay.”

“It is so,” replied the hakim, “and I went to the pay-office, by your
Highness’s order, and got Ali Bey’s receipt for the whole amount due to
them duly sealed and certified. I have it here,” and he produced the
paper in question.

“These hornets must be crushed, and there is no time to be lost,” said
the Viceroy in a musing tone; then suddenly bending his shaggy eyebrows
on Hassan, he added, “Young man, you have done your duty in bringing us
this news, bad though it be. What is the course which it is now best to
pursue?—speak your mind.”

“Nay, your Highness,” said Hassan modestly; “if my arm or my life can be
of use, they are at your service, but I am too young and inexperienced
to offer an opinion in the presence of the best soldier in Islam.”

“Nevertheless,” replied the Viceroy, a certain malicious fun twinkling
in the corner of his keen grey eye, “I would have your opinion, even
though I should not choose to follow it. If all be true that I have
heard, you have shown more skill in eluding or defeating my troops with
your lawless band of vagabonds than could have been expected from so
young a beard. I would see whether your wit be as sharp, now that you
profess a desire to serve me. Speak, therefore, and without fear or
reserve.”

After a few moments of reflection Hassan replied, “Were I to speak as my
own impulse would prompt, I should say to your Highness, Summon to your
side the Pashas, Beys, and regiments in whom you can trust, place me in
the foremost rank, and let us straightway attack, bind, or destroy these
conspirators.”

Mohammed Ali read in his bright, eager glance and bold, open front the
sincerity which dictated these words. Hassan continued, “But I know that
your Highness would gladly avoid, if possible, the bloodshed of your
subjects, and the punishing the ignorant and the misled in the same
degree as the scoundrels who have misled them. I therefore suggest that
we meet stratagem with stratagem, and when Osman Bey comes, let your
Highness pretend to be persuaded by his arguments, and agree to go into
the Esbekiah Palace to-morrow. This will throw them off their guard, and
all the conspirators will be gathered at Ali Bey’s house. Meanwhile I
have a trusty follower here, little known in Cairo, for whose fidelity I
will answer with my life: let him go forthwith to the Kiahia with a few
lines, written by your Highness’s order, instructing him to send a
regiment that he can trust, and two or three hundred horsemen silently
and secretly to the Esbekiah before dawn to-morrow; let two or three
guns be placed there, pointed at Ali Bey’s house and your Highness’s
palace; let Delì Pasha take five hundred men from this regiment at
Shoobra and march it at the same hour and in silence to occupy the
gardens behind Ali Pasha’s house and the road to Boulak; let the guards
in the citadel be doubled at night, and the regiment of Dervish Bey, now
encamped outside of the town, be brought in to keep in check that of
Nour-ed-din, which is supposed to be in a state of mutiny. My follower
shall then pass the night among them, and when they know that they have
been cheated of their pay by their own officers, they will not raise a
musket against your Highness. The most difficult task is to manage these
Bashi-Bazouks, but I am not without hopes of reclaiming them without
bloodshed. Let your Highness give me that receipt of Ali Bey’s for their
money, and let me hide it under my belt; order me now to be seized and
taken by your soldiers into the guard-house of the Esbekiah Palace,
where you intend to have me tried and judged to-morrow. As soon as it is
known that Hassan the outlaw is confined there, they will flock in
numbers to see me; I will talk with them; I will show them the receipt,
and explain to them how they have been cheated and duped by Ali Bey.
Inshallah! at dawn to-morrow, when the troops close in on all sides to
surround the Bey’s house and take prisoner himself and his confederates,
I will have these Bashi-Bazouks’ minds so changed that instead of
fighting against your troops they will cry ‘Long life to Mohammed Ali!’”

While Hassan was speaking the Viceroy never took his piercing eyes off
the young man’s countenance, and when he had concluded he said—

“Hassan, you have not disappointed me: your plan is good, and I will
have it followed out. But I do not like to send you in among those
mutinous Bashi-Bazouks; they are bloodthirsty fellows, and if they find
from your speech that you are exhorting them in my behalf to return to
their duty, they will tear you to pieces.”

“Fear not for me, your Highness,” replied Hassan calmly. “In dealing
with and leading turbulent spirits like these I have had much, too much,
experience; let me try it once more in a good cause, and if my life is
sacrificed, why, Allah is merciful, and your Highness will perhaps tell
Delì Pasha and Dervish Bey that Hassan was not unworthy of your trust.”

A bright gleam shot from the eyes of Mohammed Ali as he replied—

“You are a brave youth, Hassan, and all shall be done as you desire. Go
in with the hakim to his room, prepare the letters, and despatch your
messenger. Allah be with you.”

Hassan retired, and in a short time Abou-Hamedi was despatched with the
letters and full verbal instructions. An hour later our hero was
arrested and sent into the Esbekiah Palace under a strong guard, and the
news was spread all over Cairo that Hassan Ebn-el-Heràm was to be tried
and judged on the following day.

Hassan had not left the Shoobra gardens more than an hour when Osman Bey
arrived and demanded an audience, which was immediately granted, the
Hakim-Bashi remaining in attendance on his chief.

After the usual preliminaries of respect and compliment, Osman Bey
proceeded to unfold the object of his coming, which proved to coincide
exactly with what had been stated by Hassan. The Viceroy listened in
silence, and although Osman Bey could not avoid noticing the fire that
gleamed in those deep grey eyes, he attributed it to the anger felt by
Mohammed Ali against those whose treacherous designs he had pretended to
expose.

“We thank you as you deserve for your communication,” said the Viceroy,
“and we will take all the requisite precautions. To-morrow, as you
recommend, we will go to the palace of Esbekiah.”

“May your Highness’s life be prolonged,” replied Osman Bey. “I rejoice
to find that you have seized that dangerous robber Hassan. I met him on
the road under the escort of your Highness’s guards.”

“Yes,” said the old chief. “Inshallah! to-morrow you shall see him
treated as he deserves—you shall see that Mohammed Ali knows how to
punish traitors.”

“Inshallah!” replied Osman Bey, taking his leave with a salutation of
profound respect.

Scarcely was he out of sight ere Mohammed Ali muttered between his
hard-set teeth, “Dog! hyena! serpent! Inshallah! to-morrow he shall see
and feel how traitors are punished! Hakim-Bashi, you are a learned man,
and read many books: I never read anything but men’s faces, and,
Mashallah! I rarely read them amiss. I have long had my eye
mistrustfully on this scoundrel: look from his false and malignant
countenance to the open face and clear bold eye of Hassan; why, man,
there is truth written there as plainly as in the Fat’hah.[113] I have
been somewhat slow in forgiving him because he has a daring spirit that
requires to be checked, and example requires that acts such as he has
committed should be punished; but if he survives and succeeds to-morrow,
by the head of my father, I will reward and promote him!”

“I am glad to hear your Highness say so,” said the good-natured hakim,
“for I liked him from the first day that I saw him; and his Bedouin
education, added to the insults received from that hypocritical traitor,
offer some excuse for the lawless life that he led for a while.”

“Wait till to-morrow. Bakkalum, we shall see,” said the Old Lion,
smiling grimly. “Now send me Abd-el-Kerim, who commands the regiment on
duty here. He, I know, is faithful, and I will give him orders for his
night march on the gardens to the rear of Ali Bey’s house, as Hassan
suggested. Mashallah!” he continued, “did you notice how clear and
complete were his plans to entrap and secure the scoundrels, after
saying that he was too young to offer an opinion. Wallah! if ever I am
obliged to send my troops there, that Hassan shall command a division.”

“Send your troops where, your Highness?” said the hakim inquiringly.

“Peace, man,” said Mohammed Ali, recovering from a momentary fit of
abstraction. “I was thinking of—of—of—perhaps of Darfour and Abyssinia.”
A scarcely perceptible smile lingered on the lips of the medical
interpreter, who had for some time suspected the ambitious views of his
chief on Syria and Asia Minor, but he made his salam in silence and
withdrew.

Meantime, while Abou-Hamedi was faithfully delivering the letters and
messages intrusted to him, Hassan was no less diligent in the execution
of the difficult task which he had undertaken. After being ushered into
the precincts allotted to the Bashi-Bazouk guard, which included all the
extensive area in front of the palace itself, Hassan remained for a
considerable time apart, as if undesirous of communicating with them.
His object was that they should come to him; nor was he long in
attaining it.

Struck by his commanding figure and features, some of the loiterers
about the door inquired his name of the guards who had brought him, and
when they learnt that it was Hassan Ebn-el-Heràm, of whom they had heard
so much, all flocked around him to scan more closely the appearance of
the celebrated outlaw. Neither had he much to fear from their hostility,
for being themselves engaged in a mutinous rising against the
Government, they looked upon him as a sure ally during the outbreak
expected on the morrow.

The intelligence of his capture and presence among them soon reached the
farthest part of the barracks, and it happened that seven or eight were
there who had formed a part of the band which, under Osman Aga’s
guidance, had made so unsuccessful an attack on Hassan near Siout, and
whom, it will be remembered, our hero had dismissed unhurt, after giving
them some dinner and some money, and telling them it was a pity to see
such fine fellows in so mean a service.

These men no sooner heard of his presence in their barracks than they
hastened to greet him, calling out as they approached—

“Welcome, Hassan eed-el-maftouha, do you not remember us? We were of the
party whom you treated so well when we were in your power, and when you
sent back Osman Bey to Siout on a donkey.”

“I believe, comrades,” he replied, “that on that day I maltreated none
excepting Osman Bey, and he had deserved it at my hands.”

“He was a brute,” said the first speaker, lowering his voice; “but Ali
Bey, our present chief, is better: he always takes our part against
those who rob and injure us.”

“Who are they who rob and injure you?” inquired Hassan.

“Why, Mohammed Ali, to be sure, and his rascally Paymaster-General.”

“I had always heard,” said Hassan, “that Mohammed Ali paid his brave
Bashi-Bazouks regularly.”

“He used to do so,” said the fellow sulkily; “but for eighteen months we
have not had a piastre of pay. See, our clothes are all in rags, and we
have nothing wherewith to buy a pound of tobacco or a little rice
water.[114] Ali Bey and Osman Bey have petitioned and laboured for us in
vain. But we will have our rights. Inshallah! we shall see something
to-morrow.”

“Yes, our rights and our pay, or else blood and plunder!” said
half-a-dozen rough voices around.

It is unnecessary to detail all that passed between Hassan and the
mutineers; suffice it to say that he completely gained their confidence,
and occupied himself during the remainder of the day in ascertaining the
character and views of those who seemed the more influential among them.

It was not his purpose to attempt putting in execution the plan that he
had formed until nightfall, when the gates would be shut and none could
go out to give notice of his proceedings to Ali Bey, whose house was
only separated from the palace by a walled garden. No sooner had that
hour arrived than Hassan desired those whose confidence he had gained,
including the men from Siout, to call together all the regiment in front
of the guard-house, as he had something of importance to communicate to
them, and guards on whom they could depend were placed at the front and
postern gates to prevent the ingress or egress of any one unchallenged.

As soon as they were all assembled he said in a clear and sonorous
voice, that was heard by the farthest of that rough and turbulent band—

“Comrades! some of you have known me personally, and most of you have
heard of Hassan Ebn-el-Heràm: did you ever hear of him that he aided the
tyrant to trample on the oppressed, or the rich to plunder the poor?”

“Never!” shouted a score of voices.

“Did you ever hear,” he continued, “that he was sparing of his blood or
his money, or that he ever betrayed a comrade?”

“Never!” shouted they again.

“Then, by Allah!” said Hassan, “he never will. He is here among you now
alone. You may take his life to-night, or the Government may take it
to-morrow; but so long as he has an arm to strike, it shall strike at
the false and the oppressor in defence of the oppressed!”

“Hassan for ever!” shouted they again; “he is the man for us! Let us see
the Government come to take his life to-morrow!”

“Then,” said he, raising his voice above the tumult, “if you believe me
and trust me as you say, let me tell you that you have been falsely
betrayed!”

“We know it!” they cried. “We have been betrayed; we have been robbed of
our pay, and we will have it now, and plunder to boot!”

“You have been robbed and betrayed,” said Hassan in a deep, stern voice;
“but you know not the robbers nor the traitors who have injured you. I
now denounce them to your just anger—they are Osman Bey, Ali Bey, and
your own officers! who have drawn your pay and have spent or locked it
up themselves, in order to lead you to mutiny and to destruction!”

It is impossible to describe the confusion that prevailed in that
lawless assemblage at the conclusion of this speech. Some shouted, “It
is false!” others cried, “Kill him; he is a spy of Mohammed Ali!”

Pistols were drawn, daggers gleamed in the fitful torchlight; many
cried, “Down with Ali Bey and the traitors!” but still the more numerous
and moderate party in the regiment called aloud, “Proof! proof! we must
have proof!”

“Proof you shall have, if you will be silent and patient like men, and
not scream like the _bakkal’s_ wives before the _câdi_.”[115]

Silence having been restored, Hassan called aloud, “Bring hither those
torches, and come to my side any of you who can read!” Half-a-dozen
approached in answer to this appeal.

“This is not enough,” said Hassan; “where is the _yuzbashi_[116] who
commands the guard? Let him also come forward.” That functionary had
hitherto remained a distant spectator of the scene; but he was now urged
forward by some of his own men to the spot where Hassan stood, who
shouted as they advanced, “Proof! proof! we want proof!”

“Are you one of those,” said Hassan, fixing a stern and penetrating look
on the _yuzbashi_, “who have taken a share of these brave men’s pay, and
withheld it in order to induce them to revolt?”

“I?” said the astonished _yuzbashi_. “No, Wallah! No pay have I seen
myself for a year. See the holes in my shoes, and these ragged clothes;
do these look like robbing the pay of my men? By the beard of my father,
it is the Government who have robbed me and them of our due! But who, in
the name of the Prophet, are you who are haranguing my men, and
questioning me as if you were a _miralai_ [general]?”

“I applaud your spirit,” replied Hassan frankly. “My name is Hassan
Ebn-el-Heràm, my voice has no authority excepting that of truth, and I
have no motive but to prove to these brave men who they are who have
wronged and betrayed them. Canst read, _yuzbashi_?”

“Ay, Wallah! that can I. For two years was I clerk in a divan before I
entered the army.”

“Well, then, read that aloud to your men,” said Hassan, placing a paper
before him.

As the _yuzbashi_ read the contents all the words in Turkish which
correspond to “cheat,” “rogue,” “traitor,” and “scoundrel” burst in
succession from his half-closed lips.

“What is it? what is it?” shouted a score of impatient voices at once.

“It is a receipt in full showing that the Paymaster has regularly placed
in the hands of Ali Bey the whole amount of pay due to you up to last
month. And here is Ali Bey’s seal at the bottom. I can swear to it, as I
have often to countersign papers bearing his seal.”

Curses on Ali Bey’s father, mother, and all his ancestors, now issued in
torrents from the lips of the indignant assemblage; and not the least
loud in venting maledictions was the _yuzbashi_ who had been unjustly
suspected of sharing in the peculation of his superiors.

Hassan watched in silence the progress of the storm which he had raised;
for he rightly judged that they would soon return to ask his advice as
to the course which they should now pursue. Nature had formed him to
lead either in the council or in the field such rough, bold spirits as
those by which he was surrounded, and they now came back to ask him what
was to be done as naturally as if he had been appointed their chief.

“My brave fellows,” said Hassan, “if your eyes are now open, and you are
satisfied that you have been deceived and betrayed by your officers,
there is but one course by which you can save yourselves and punish
them.”

“Name it,” shouted a score of rough voices.

“You know that I was brought here this morning from Shoobra; while there
I was neither blind nor deaf. I can swear to you by the head of my
father that the treachery of Ali Bey, Osman Bey, and the others is known
to Mohammed Ali. Even now troops from all quarters are surrounding this
palace and Ali Bey’s house in the darkness of night. At daybreak you
will see them with your own eyes—escape or resistance is no longer
possible.”

“Curses on Ali Bey’s head and on his father’s grave!” shouted the
_yuzbashi_; “what dirt has that vile dog caused us to eat! But you have
not told us yet, Hassan, what is to be done. Are we to stay here and be
butchered like sheep?”

“Allah forbid!” said Hassan. “I will answer with my head that if you
follow my counsel not a hair of your beards shall be touched. How many
men are there now in Ali Bey’s house?”

“If we count his and Osman Bey’s, and Nour-ed-din Binbashi’s Mamelukes
and followers, there may be two hundred of them in the house and
buildings round his courtyard,” replied the _yuzbashi_.

“A mere handful,” said Hassan scornfully; “you are enough to master them
in five minutes. My advice, then, is this. As the Beys do not know that
your eyes have been opened to their treachery, they will of course admit
you at any hour. Let the _yuzbashi_ knock at the gate and say that he
has something of importance to communicate to the Bey; he will be
admitted at once. As soon as the gate is opened for his admittance, a
party of us following close behind him will rush in and overpower the
_bowàbs_ or sentries that may be there. We will then let in the
remainder of our brave fellows, leaving only a small guard in this
palace, and we will go and make prisoners of the Beys and all their
followers. When Mohammed Ali’s troops appear in the morning I will go
out to their commanders and tell them that you had been deceived and
misled, but that you had now returned to your duty, in proof of which
you had seized and were ready to deliver up to them the conspirators. I
will answer for you receiving your full pardon and your full pay
besides.”

“Mashallah!” cried several voices, “the plan is good; let us follow it
at once.”

“It is not so easy as it seems,” said a cautious old fellow, who had a
habitual dread of his commander. “Ali Bey is a desperate and dangerous
man to take; he has always four pistols in his belt, and he fights like
a devil.”

“Give me a sword, my lads, and leave Ali Bey to me,” said Hassan, his
eyes lighting up as they always did at the approach of strife.

“Hassan’s the leader for us!” shouted one of those whom he had released
at Siout—“open hand in peace, and iron hand in the fight.”

As he spoke his own and half-a-dozen other swords were offered to
Hassan’s choice. Selecting with the eye of a connoisseur the trustiest
blade, he said, “Now, my lads, let us go; but remember, no bloodshed
excepting in self-defence. Our business is to take them alive; and,
Wallah! we will take them if you are firm and steady. Now assemble at
the gate in silence, and be ready.”

Whilst the men were collecting for the expedition, Hassan whispered to
the _yuzbashi_ the course that he was to pursue, adding, “I do not know
you, but I shall be close to you and observe you well. If you are
faithful, you will be rewarded; but if you attempt to betray us, your
head shall be the first to fall.”

“You shall see,” answered the _yuzbashi_ with a grim smile, “whether I
do not pay my debt to Ali Bey and those other scoundrels.”

The evening was now advanced, the Ezn-el-âshah[117] had long since been
chanted from the mosques, but there seemed to be no symptoms of retiring
to rest in Ali Bey’s house. He himself, surrounded by Osman Bey,
Nour-ed-din, and the other leaders of the conspiracy, were seated in his
large salamlik, or reception-room, arranging their plans for the morrow
and discussing eagerly the course they should adopt towards Ibrahim
Pasha after they had got rid of his father.

All of them felt confident that he would gladly profit by their crime;
but few felt sure that he would not punish its authors.

“He dare not punish us,” said Ali Bey boldly; “we are too many. See
here,” he continued, drawing a paper from his vest, “here are the seals
of twenty-five, none of whom are without power or friends. He may,
indeed, affect to be angry at first, but he will be obliged to pardon
and reward us.”

While he was yet speaking a servant came in and said that the
_yuzbashi_, Suleiman Aga, followed by a number of the Bashi-Bazouks, was
without, and wished to see the Bey.

“These fellows,” said the latter to his companions, “are ready for any
mischief. I have worked them up to such a pitch of discontent that I can
scarcely prevail on them to defer plundering the palace until to-morrow,
when we shall have Mohammed Ali in our power. Let him come in.”

As he spoke, the _yuzbashi_, followed by a number of his men, entered
the room, and the first words that he uttered were—

“Bey, I can no longer control these men: they demand justice and their
pay.”

“Justice and our pay!” said a number of rough voices, as they kept
pouring into the room.

“You shall have it, my lads, to-morrow—pay and plunder to your heart’s
content,” said Ali Bey. “Only be patient to-night, and you shall have
vengeance on those who have robbed you of your right.”

“They shall have it now!” cried Hassan, coming suddenly forward, sword
in hand.

“And who in the name of the Prophet may you be?” said Ali Bey.

“Wallah! Wallah! it is that traitor scoundrel Hassan Ebn-el-Heràm,”
cried Osman Bey, astonished at the sudden appearance of our hero, whom
he had seen some hours before under arrest.

“Present!” said Hassan in a deep, stern voice; and immediately the
Bashi-Bazouks, who now lined the side of the room, presented their
pistols at the knot of conspirators seated at its upper end.

“Ali Bey, Osman Bey, and you others who have deceived and betrayed these
brave men by withholding their pay, their hour of vengeance is come, not
against Mohammed Ali to-morrow, but against you to-night. Yield
yourselves prisoners, or I give the word to fire.”

“Never!” cried Ali Bey, springing with the others to his feet. “We have
adherents below enough to punish these mutinous scoundrels.”

“Ali Bey,” replied Hassan sternly, “your adherents are already
overpowered—your whole plot is known to Mohammed Ali—his troops surround
your house—you have no means of defence or escape; you can only now
trust to the Viceroy’s clemency.”

“You, at least, shall never live to boast of this treachery,” cried
Osman Bey, who was literally foaming with rage, as he drew his sword and
sprang upon Hassan.

The result was such as might have been expected where strength, skill,
and coolness were on one side and ungovernable fury on the other.
Scarcely a few seconds elapsed ere Osman Bey’s sword-arm, severed by one
cut, fell to the ground.

“Bind up his wound and secure him,” said Hassan coolly to one of the
Bashi-Bazouks who was near him; and without deigning another look at his
fallen adversary, he addressed himself to Ali Bey, saying—

“I would fain avoid useless bloodshed; will you yield yourselves
prisoners or not?”

Ali Bey, though a cruel and vicious man, was not deficient in courage;
but the hapless fate of his confederate, the determined language and
commanding appearance of Hassan, and the formidable row of
pistol-barrels that gleamed at his back, might well have intimidated a
bolder spirit. In the countenance of his companions he read nothing but
dismay, so he replied, “We yield ourselves,” and sullenly threw his
sword on the floor at Hassan’s feet.

His comrades followed his example, and in a few minutes they were all
disarmed and pinioned. Their persons were searched by Hassan’s order,
and he thus obtained possession of the paper to which the seals of the
conspirators had been affixed.

Hassan spent the remainder of the night in visiting all the quarters of
the house and seeing that the prisoners of all ranks were duly guarded.
The Bashi-Bazouks who had witnessed the summary chastisement that he had
inflicted on Osman Bey, and who seemed to feel an intuitive conviction
that he was armed with the authority which he assumed, obeyed him
without a murmur.

No sooner had the day dawned than he took the _yuzbashi_ and a few more
of the men to the roof of the house, whence he showed them two
field-pieces already in position in their front and the troops of
Mohammed Ali drawn up and surrounding them on every side.

“Did I speak the truth,” said Hassan, “when I told you that if you
continued in mutiny you would be cut off to a man?”

“Wallah! Hassan, you spoke the truth,” they replied. “Our only hope is
now in you, for you said that if we obeyed you we should have our pay
and our pardon.”

“Fear not, I will make my words good. I will go out now alone and speak
to the officer in command of these troops in front: I think I should
know him.”

Descending from the roof, he walked alone out of the gate and advanced
to the front of the column, the Bashi-Bazouks watching his movements
from the roof and from the windows with the deepest anxiety.

“Mashallah!” cried one, “what miracle is this? See, Hassan Ebn-el-Heràm
is embracing that old officer, who by his uniform must be a Bey or
Pasha. He is embracing also another younger officer: see, they are
coming this way.”

“I know them well,” cried a soldier beside the first speaker. “The old
officer is Dervish Bey the Swordsman, a brave old fellow; I served with
him in Arabia: the other is Reschid, _khaznadâr_ of the Kiahia Pasha.”

“Ajaib!” (Wonderful!) exclaimed several voices, “that Hassan the outlaw
should be so familiar with these Beys.”

As they slowly approached the front of the palace Hassan had time to
explain briefly to his father the events of the night, and the manner in
which he had effected the capture of the conspirators.

On hearing his report Dervish Bey desired Reschid to ride with all speed
to Shoobra to inform Mohammed Ali of what had passed, and to ask his
further orders. He also sent messengers to inform Delì Pasha and the
commanders of the other troops that had been drawn towards the palace
that the conspiracy was already crushed.

“What news?” said the Viceroy to Reschid as the latter entered his
salamlik breathless and dusty from his gallop.

“May your Highness’s life be prolonged; the conspirators are all
prisoners awaiting your sentence.”

“El-hamdu-lillah!” (Praise be to Allah!) said the Viceroy. “Had you much
fighting? did the scoundrels make a stout resistance?”

“We had no fighting at all,” said Reschid, smiling; “Hassan did it all
himself.”

“How was that?” said Mohammed Ali, surprised.

“In the course of the night he explained to the Bashi-Bazouk regiment
how they had been misled, robbed, and betrayed by their officers; he
showed them Ali Bey’s receipt, proving that your Highness had done them
no injustice. Having convinced and brought them back to their duty, he
led them into the adjoining house to arrest their own officers. Osman
Bey made a sudden spring at him, but Hassan cut his arm off, and the
rest surrendered without resistance.”

“Aferin! [bravo!] Hassan,” said Mohammed Ali; then turning to Reschid,
he added, “Let them await my coming at the palace; I will be there
within the hour.”

In less than the time specified the Viceroy appeared at the Esbekiah
Palace gates mounted on Nebleh, who had become his favourite charger,
and surrounded by a numerous guard. Having received the reports of his
Pashas and generals as to the events of the night, and the names of the
conspirators captured at Ali Bey’s house, he said in a loud and stern
voice—

“Let Ali Bey, Osman Bey, and Nour-ed-din, who have robbed the troops of
their pay, incited them to mutiny, and conspired against the Government,
suffer the doom of traitors—off with their heads; and their villages,
houses, and properties are confiscated. Let that villainous servant of
Osman Bey named Ferraj, whose crimes are known to me, and his brother,
Hadji Mohammed, who came into my service to poison me, receive one
thousand blows of the stick; let the other prisoners await further
inquiry and orders. Where is Hassan Ebn-el-Heràm? Let him stand forth.”

Our hero, thus called upon, came out and stood in front of that numerous
assemblage.

“Hassan,” said Mohammed Ali, “if the disgrace imposed upon you by that
dog Osman Bey led you for a time to forget your duty, your fidelity and
good service now and on former occasions deserve reward; you are a
worthy son of a worthy father. Hassan, son of Dervish Bey, I appoint you
in the place of the traitor Ali Bey to the command of the Bashi-Bazouk
regiment which he betrayed or misled. I grant them, for your sake, a
full pardon, and they shall have all their arrears of pay. I present you
also with the houses, lands, and property of Ali Bey, which have been
forfeited to the Government.”

“May your Highness’s honour and prosperity be boundless as your bounty,”
said Hassan, coming forward to kiss the Viceroy’s sleeve. He then
retired a few steps, awaiting further commands or the signal to
withdraw.

He thought not of the lands or the wealth he had acquired, but one of
the brightest dreams of his youth was realised: he had been publicly
recognised, by one whom he held to be the hero of the age, as a worthy
son of the gallant Dervish Bey. This was the feeling which filled his
breast with a bounding and tumultuous joy, and his eye sought and met
that of his father. But Hassan’s thoughts were speedily recalled to the
presence in which he stood by the voice of Mohammed Ali, who, once more
addressing him, said—

“I have rewarded your services only as you deserve; I wish now to add a
favour from myself. Have you any request to make? Speak it boldly.”

“If your Highness will pardon my freedom, I would ask you to give to my
friend Reschid the command of the regiment vacant by the punishment of
Nour-ed-din. These men, like the Bashi-Bazouks, have been misled by the
treachery of their commander; but when they learn how they have been
deceived, their hearts and swords will return to your Highness’s
service. I have seen the courage and fidelity of Reschid put to the
proof, and under him that regiment will be as true and efficient as any
in your army.”

“What say you, Kiahia?” said Mohammed Ali to his chief Pasha; “shall
Hassan’s request be granted?”

“Hassan has robbed me of a good _khaznadâr_,” said the old Kiahia,
smiling, “but he has given your Highness a good colonel, so I must
forgive him; neither will I deny that Reschid’s fingers, when employed
on the seal or the pen, are always itching for the lance and the sword.”

“Be it so, then,” said the Viceroy; “make out the order to our War
Office and we will seal it. And now, Hassan, as you would not ask
anything for yourself, I must select for you. Strength and youth, and,
Mashallah! good looks and a good name you have; it is a shame that you
remain unmarried,—I have chosen you a wife from a noble harem, and I
will give her a dower myself.”

Hassan’s lip grew pale and quivered as he said in a hesitating voice—

“Pardon me, your Highness, if I decline the honour. I have made a vow
that——”

Here Mohammed Ali interrupted him, saying—

“Peace, _delikànloo_,”[118] and he fixed on the young man one of those
piercing glances in which anger and humour were so strangely blended
that it was difficult to know which was predominant. “Is there already
so much wind of prosperity in your head that you despise the alliance of
the daughter of Delì Pasha?”

At the sound of that name the blood rushed to Hassan’s temples. He dared
not testify his rapturous delight before so many witnesses. Mohammed Ali
read it in his eyes, while the lips only said—

“Your Highness has loaded me with benefits that the gratitude and
service of a life cannot repay.”

“How obedient he became at once as soon as he heard the name,” said
Mohammed Ali in an undertone to Delì Pasha, who stood near him.

“Your Highness knew their attachment,” said the old soldier gratefully;
“to see them united under the shadow of your protection was my fondest
wish.”

The Viceroy now retired into the palace, and on entering his private
apartment said to his Hakim-bashi—

“There is one thing yet I forgot to learn from Hassan; send him here
immediately, and send my seal-bearer into Ali Bey’s house with a guard,
and tell him to seal every door, box, and cupboard till Hassan goes in
to take possession, otherwise the thoughtless boy will find nothing but
empty walls.”

Our hero was just receiving the congratulations of his father and Delì
Pasha when he was directed to reappear immediately in Mohammed Ali’s
presence. On entering the room the Viceroy said to him—

“When you captured the conspirators, did you learn anything certain of
their numbers or associates without? Wallah! I forgot myself, or I would
have ordered the scoundrels to be tortured to make them tell before
their heads were cut off.”

“Men under torture,” said Hassan, “often tell falsehoods to gratify
spite and revenge; but I took from Ali Bey’s vest a paper supposed to
contain the seals of all those who had joined his plot. I have not shown
it either to the Kiahia or to my own father, for I thought it might
contain names which, for various reasons, had better be known to none
but yourself.”

“Mashallah!” said Mohammed Ali, “though you are sometimes a
_delikànloo_, you have a head fitted for older shoulders than yours; but
I have long known that you could keep a secret. Do you remember the
night that you passed in a certain palace near the Nile?”

“Did your Highness know of that?” said Hassan in surprise.

“Everything that passed,” replied Mohammed Ali. “One of the blacks in
the service of that lady was a spy in my pay: her conduct compelled me
to have recourse to these measures, but I have taken that house away
from her. The old woman who plotted with Ferraj to entice you into the
house is at the bottom of the Nile. You behaved nobly, and you have
nobly kept secret events which, if known, would have brought disgrace on
my family. Go on as you have begun, and, Inshallah! so long as Mohammed
Ali lives you shall not want a friend. Now you may retire.”

Hassan kissed the hand extended to him and left the presence with an
exulting heart, repeating as he went out the Arabic proverb, “The
husbandman prayed for a shower, and, lo! an abundant rain,” which
answers to our proverb, “It never rains but it pours”—_i.e._, that
blessings, like misfortunes, seldom “come single” in life.[119]

A month has passed, and Hassan’s mother has wept tears of joy on the
breast of her long-lost son, and they have reiterated to each other the
mysterious attraction which had linked them in sympathy from the first
moment that they had met in Delì Pasha’s house, and Zeinab Khanum (whom
we have so long known as Fatimeh) has refused to leave Amina, now doubly
dear to her, until her marriage.

And Amina—who can paint her happiness?—a happiness such as not once in a
century can fall to the lot of a daughter of Islam: to be united to one
whom her virgin heart has so long worshipped as an idol—one whose
courage and devotion she has so surely proved—one whom her pure and
trusting heart tells her, and tells her truly, will love her alone.

What an intensity of joy is mingled with the blushes on her cheek as she
tries on the diamond ornaments with which the munificence of Mohammed
Ali had decked the bride of Hassan. For his sake she is content to allow
the busy tirewomen to exhaust their efforts in enhancing the brilliancy
of her beauty: they stain her delicate fingers with henna, they draw a
shaded line of kohl along the lids of her large and lustrous eyes, and
they anoint her redundant tresses with the most sweet-scented unguents
of Araby.

As Mohammed Ali had undertaken to dower the bride, all the city seemed
disposed to take a share in the marriage festivities. For a week
Hassan’s house had been illuminated every evening, and had been open to
all visitors. Lambs, fowls, pilaws, and sweetmeats were demolished
wholesale, and thousands of the poor were daily fed in the courts below.

The last day of these ceremonials had now arrived, and Amina was
conducted in state to her bridegroom’s house. The procession, of immense
length, was preceded by a band of tumblers or buffoons, who amused the
public by their antics and somersaults; while in front of them walked a
_sakkah_, or water-carrier, staggering under the weight of an enormous
goat-skin sack filled with sand and water, which entitled him (if he
could carry it to the bridegroom’s house without setting it down) to a
liberal present. Some malicious urchin contrived, unperceived, to cut a
large hole in the bottom of the skin, and escaped in the crowd. The
_sakkah_, feeling the water trickling down his legs and the lightened
load on his back, soon became aware of the trick that had been played
him, and attributing it to the tumblers and jugglers behind him, turned
round and began to belabour them with his half-empty sack, covering them
from head to foot with sand and water, to the infinite amusement of the
spectators.

Behind these buffoons there followed several open cars, one containing a
_kahweji_, or maker of coffee, with the implements of his profession;
another a _helwaji_, or sweetmeat-maker; a third a _faterji_, or
pancake-maker,—all of whom dispensed their good things to the bystanders
as they passed.

After these came a band of musicians, who were followed by a dozen
married ladies of rank mounted on white donkeys, their saddles adorned
with crimson silk and gold embroidery: to these succeeded a troop of
unmarried girls on donkeys similarly accoutred.

Then came the bride, veiled from head to foot, a cashmere shawl over the
veil concealing completely her face and figure from the envious eyes of
the spectators.

It is usual for brides of rank to ride on donkeys, but on this occasion
Amina was mounted on Nebleh, splendidly caparisoned by the Viceroy’s
order, the beautiful Arab’s embroidered reins being held by eunuchs who
walked on each side of her head. The procession was closed by a party of
Mamelukes richly accoutred and a band of Turkish music.

On reaching Hassan’s house the bride and her attendants sat down to a
repast prepared for them, the bridegroom being, according to etiquette,
absent at the bath. After a certain time he returned with his party and
a _cortége_ scarcely less numerous than that of the bride.

On entering the house he left his friends to refresh themselves below,
while he went to an upper apartment where Amina was seated, still
completely veiled, between Zeinab Khanum and one of Delì Pasha’s wives.

Agreeably to custom, Hassan went through the form of giving to each a
piece of money, called the “unveiling fee” (for up to that moment the
bridegroom is supposed not to have seen the face of the bride); the two
elder ladies retired, and Hassan was left alone with Amina. According to
the prescribed rules of their faith, he gently lifted the veil from her
face, saying as he did so, “In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the
merciful.”

But not strange to each other were those eyes that now exchanged their
glances of unutterable love. Not the blush of a timid virgin on first
seeing the stranger who is hereafter to be her tyrant was the rosy hue
that tinged the neck of Amina as she listened in breathless silence to
the prayer which, according to Mohammedan rite, he uttered before he
ventured to embrace his wedded bride. Placing his right hand on her
head, he said with a deep-toned earnestness which thrilled to her heart—

“Oh, Allah, bless me in my wife, and bless my wife in me. Unite us, as
thou hast united us, for our good, and separate us when thou hast
decreed to do so, likewise for our good.”

Here let us take the veil which Hassan had removed from Amina’s head and
hang it over the portal of the room where their love is crowned with
that “sober certainty of waking bliss,” which heretofore they had only
seen in the visions of hope and in the land of dreams.


                                THE END.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                 PRINTED BY WILLIAM BLACKWOOD AND SONS.



------------------------------------------------------------------------



                               Footnotes


Footnote 1:

  The “Sons of Ali,” or, as they are called, the “Oulâd-Ali,” have been
  settled for many years in Egypt, but their legendary history is
  carried back to the period when they dwelt in Upper Arabia, and they
  claim affinity with a tribe which still pastures its flocks on the
  borders of the Nejd.

Footnote 2:

  A _kels_ is a long rope extended in line, and fastened to the ground
  by pegs. Throughout its whole length, at intervals of eighteen inches,
  are fixed two short nooses or slip-knots, into which the forefeet of
  the goats are inserted at milking-time. In Persia it is usual on a
  march to fasten the horses at night in a manner precisely similar.

Footnote 3:

  For the information of the English reader it is necessary to mention
  that the word Herâm, with a light aspirate of the initial letter, is
  the conventional term in Egypt applied to the Pyramid (its plural is
  Ehrâm), whereas Ĥharâm, with a slight guttural pronunciation of the
  initial letter, signifies “shame” or “sin.” Although these two sounds
  are scarcely distinguishable from each other in the mouth of a
  European, they are perfectly distinct in that of an Arab; and thus the
  expression “Ebn-Harâm,” according as the initial is pronounced, means
  “Child of the Pyramid,” or “Child of Shame.”

Footnote 4:

  Hassan El-Gizèwi, or Hassan of _Ghizeh_, the district in which, about
  eight or nine miles from Cairo, stand the Great Pyramid and several of
  the smaller pyramids.

Footnote 5:

  The Mohammedan law acknowledges in full the custom of parental
  adoption, and a child so adopted has legal right of inheritance; but
  certain religious forms are prescribed for this adoption, which it
  seems that Sheik Sâleh had not observed in respect to Hassan, probably
  from a belief that some day he would be claimed by his real parents.

Footnote 6:

  Sakkarah is a district lying twelve or fourteen miles to the
  south-west of Cairo, and is familiar to all Egyptian travellers and
  untravelled readers as being the site of several pyramids, near which
  excavations have been made with highly interesting results.

Footnote 7:

  One of the Arabic names of Cairo is “Omm-ed-doonia,” “Mother of the
  world.”

Footnote 8:

  The fellahs, or agricultural population in Egypt, are much despised by
  the Bedouin Arabs.

Footnote 9:

  Alluding to the horsetails which formerly designated the rank of a
  pasha. When three in number they indicated the rank of a vizier. The
  practice is now falling or fallen into disuse.

Footnote 10:

  The Arabic letter _ain_. The Turks and Persians, in whose respective
  languages this letter frequently occurs, never attempt to pronounce it
  otherwise than as a broad Italian _a_. As the same letter is found in
  the Hebrew alphabet, it may be an interesting speculation for the
  learned to consider how it was pronounced by the ancient Jews; the
  modern Jews in Germany and Asia pronounce it like the broad _a_. Its
  pronunciation seems to have puzzled the learned Seventy in the time of
  the Ptolemies; at least in the Septuagint version we find it
  represented by various Greek letters; for instance, in the words
  “Amalek” and “Eli” the commencing letter in Hebrew is _ain_, as is
  likewise the last letter in the name of the prophet Hosêa.

Footnote 11:

  For those who have not been in the East, it may be necessary to
  mention that the folding the arms on the breast, which in Europe is
  considered as a posture of meditation and sometimes of defiance, is
  among Orientals the usual attitude of humility and respect.

Footnote 12:

  It is customary among the Arabs, when using either complimentary
  phrases or good wishes, to retort them on the speaker briefly, as in
  the text.

Footnote 13:

  Wâled-Ali is synonymous with Oulâd-Ali, the name of a tribe already
  mentioned; the only difference is that Wâled is singular and Oulâd
  plural. The former name, though less classical, is in more common use
  in Alexandria.

Footnote 14:

  The Causer of Causes is one of the highest of the attributive names
  given by the Arabs to the Almighty.

Footnote 15:

  It has been the custom of the Egyptians ever since the accession of
  Mohammed Ali to the viceroyalty to call the reigning Viceroy by the
  name of “Effendina,” “our Lord,” or “our Prince.”

Footnote 16:

  The Kohèil and Saklàwi are two of the highest breeds of horses found
  in the Nejd or highlands of Arabia.

Footnote 17:

  Courbatch is the name of the whip made from the hide of the
  hippopotamus, in common use all over Egypt and Nubia. The name seems
  to have an affinity with the French _cravache_, and I have been
  informed (though perhaps incorrectly) that it is of Hungarian origin.

Footnote 18:

  The practice in question is indeed as prevalent among the Arab dealers
  in Egypt, Syria, and Bagdad as among those of London and Paris.

Footnote 19:

  A _ràwi_ is a professional reciter of romances, around whom a circle
  of listeners may always be seen gathered about sunset in Alexandria or
  Cairo.

Footnote 20:

  A _kawàss_, or janissary, in Egypt is an upper servant in attendance
  on a pasha, a consul, or a person of rank; he is generally a Turk,
  wears a sword, and is frequently dignified by the title of Aga.

Footnote 21:

  Hassan’s experience seems to have taught him that, in addressing
  Turkish officials, the use of that language in place of Arabic is the
  likeliest method of obtaining attention and a courteous reply.

Footnote 22:

  Two thousand piastres are about £20 sterling.

Footnote 23:

  Arabs are divided into two classes, distinguished in their own
  language by the names of “People of the tent” and “People of the
  domicile”; the former, who are the Bedouins, and nomadic in their
  habits, have a sovereign contempt for the latter, who live in villages
  and cultivate the soil. In Egypt there are found on the borders of the
  desert and arable land a few small tribes who partake of both
  characters; that is, though Bedouins by birth, they have partially
  settled down to an agricultural life, and pay a tax to the Government
  for the land which they occupy. The prisoner under arrest belonged to
  this latter class.

Footnote 24:

  Fayoom is a fertile region in Upper Egypt, on the left bank of the
  Nile.

Footnote 25:

  The Arabs of the north-western shores of Africa are termed
  “Moghrebin,” from the word “Moghreb,” “the place of the setting sun.”
  Most of the _pehlivans_ or wrestlers seen in Egypt are Moghrebin.

Footnote 26:

  _Pehlivan_ is the name common in Turkey, Arabia, and Persia for a
  “wrestler” or “athlete.”

Footnote 27:

  _Delì_ signifies “mad” in the Turkish language, but it is frequently
  applied to those who have distinguished themselves in war by acts of
  daring courage.

Footnote 28:

  The word “uncle” is frequently used in Arabic as a term of respectful
  affection.

Footnote 29:

  Taking a _fal_, or an omen, is a very common practice all over the
  East among persons who are in doubt as to the advisableness of any
  scheme or project which they wish to undertake: it is done in various
  ways, sometimes with beads, sometimes with books; but in matters of a
  serious nature the Koran is usually resorted to. The person wishing to
  consult the oracle takes up the sacred book, and after putting it
  reverently to his forehead, opens it at random, and reads the first
  passage that meets his eyes; if the text is favourable, or can be
  construed favourably to his project, he follows it out with confidence
  of success.

Footnote 30:

  _Mirakhor_, a Persian word commonly used throughout Turkey, meaning
  “master of the horse.”

Footnote 31:

  Not the tree commonly called sycamore in England, but the “wild
  fig-tree.”

Footnote 32:

  The reader may perhaps not have heard, or may have forgotten, a reply
  attributed to Dr Johnson, who being once present at a concert where an
  Italian singer was executing some bravura ornaments at, if not beyond,
  the highest notes of her voice, his neighbour observed to him, “How
  wonderful are those trills.” “Would to Heaven they were impossible!”
  was the Doctor’s surly answer.

Footnote 33:

  It is a very common image in the popular songs of Egypt, and also in
  more classic Arabic poetry, to liken a graceful youthful figure in
  either sex to a spray or wand of the _bân_, or Egyptian willow.

Footnote 34:

  In those days all Englishmen travelling in Europe, as well as in
  Egypt, who spent their money more freely than the average of
  travellers, were termed “lords.”

Footnote 35:

  A true story, and one that Mohammed Ali used to tell with great glee.

Footnote 36:

  Notwithstanding his long residence in Egypt, Mohammed Ali understood
  but little Arabic, and could not speak it at all.

Footnote 37:

  _Khaznadâr_ or “treasurer.” This officer often discharges the duties
  of a private secretary.

Footnote 38:

  The term _kassis_ is applied in Egypt indiscriminately to Christian
  clergymen of every sect and denomination.

Footnote 39:

  This term, _kiahya_, now common all over Turkey, is a corruption of
  the Persian word _ket-khoda_, and signifies “master of the house,”
  “vicegerent,” &c. The _kiahya_ in Egypt is next in rank to the
  viceroy.

Footnote 40:

  Shoobra, a very pretty garden and palace, built and occupied by
  Mohammed Ali; it is about three miles from Cairo, on the bank of the
  river.

Footnote 41:

  A _canjah_ is a Nile boat, much smaller and lighter than a dahabiah.

Footnote 42:

  A piastre is about 2½d.

Footnote 43:

  Where in Europe it is customary to say as “white as wool” or “white as
  snow,” the Orientals say “white as camphor.” The “camphor-neck” of a
  beauty is an image constantly recurring in Arabic poetry.

Footnote 44:

  _Musàttah_, a camel-litter for carrying two persons.

Footnote 45:

  A _shibriah_, a camel-litter for a single person.

Footnote 46:

  A perpetual fountain of the purest water in the Mohammedan Paradise.

Footnote 47:

  The Horseman’s Gap is a singular cleft in the high rocks which met at
  the end of the plain, just leaving a passage wide enough for horsemen
  to pass in single file.

Footnote 48:

  The legend of Rabîah is one of the most ancient now known in the East.
  It was first communicated to me in the shape of an old Arab MS. by
  that eminent Arabic scholar, M. Fresnel. I believe he translated and
  sent it to one of the European Oriental magazines; but I have never
  seen it myself in print. As it is ten years since I saw the MS., I
  cannot remember exactly how far the tale in our text deviates from the
  original. The names which I have introduced are taken at random among
  names common in the Nejd; but I distinctly remember that of Rabîah,
  and his heroic death in the gap, as forming the catastrophe of the
  legend.

Footnote 49:

  Whip made of rhinoceros-hide.

Footnote 50:

  Shèitan, Arabic form of “Satan.”

Footnote 51:

  _Salamlik_ is a reception-room in houses of Turkish construction,
  generally on the first floor, and in the centre of the building.

Footnote 52:

  Nejmet-es-Sabah, “Morning Star.”

Footnote 53:

  The game of the jereed is almost too familiar to the reading world to
  require description. It is a mimic fight, representing a combat with
  the spear or javelin. The jereed is sometimes made of reeds or canes,
  but more frequently of palm-sticks cut in the form of a javelin, with
  a blunted point. It varies much in weight; and a heavy jereed thrown
  by a vigorous arm is capable of giving a very severe, sometimes a
  dangerous, bruise; for this reason, aiming at the face or head is
  strictly prohibited in this game, though it necessarily happens in so
  wild a sport, carried on with reckless riders and horses at full
  speed, that the head and face often receive a serious hurt.

Footnote 54:

  The rosary here alluded to (called in Arabic _tashbih_) is a string of
  beads, generally one hundred in number, carried by the greater part of
  Moslems of the upper and middling classes: they are used as “omens,”
  “counter-charms,” &c.

Footnote 55:

  _Kadaif_, a favourite Turkish dish, made of flour, honey, and other
  ingredients.

Footnote 56:

  The Crimean campaign has now made the name of these Bashi-Bazouks, or
  irregular cavalry, familiar to all Europe. In Egypt, at the date of
  our tale, they were mostly Albanians, and a more lawless set of
  ruffians than they were could not be found on earth. On some occasions
  their savage violence could not be controlled even by the iron hand of
  Mohammed Ali. They would neither obey nor leave the country, and he
  was compelled to bribe them to adopt the latter course, and also to
  have them escorted by regular troops beyond the frontier.

Footnote 57:

  The Mosque El-Azhar is one of the largest, wealthiest, and most
  celebrated in Cairo. Although devoid of all pretensions to
  architectural beauty, within its precincts is a college for the
  instruction of youth; but little is taught beyond reading the Koran
  and the commentators thereon, writing, and the first rudiments of
  arithmetic. To the children of the poorer classes the instruction is
  gratuitous, and even food and lodging are provided from the funds of
  the endowment. Its revenues were much curtailed by Mohammed Ali.

Footnote 58:

  It has before been mentioned that at this game it is forbidden to aim
  at the head; but, moreover, in order to explain the expressions of
  Delì Pasha, it must be mentioned that, according to the rules of the
  game, every “bout” consists of two charges, in which each alternately
  advances and retreats. It is then considered over, and cannot be
  continued unless a regular challenge be given for another “bout.”

Footnote 59:

  “A cup of coffee” is a very common phrase in Egypt for expressing the
  word “poison,” for which a cup of coffee is a frequent medium.

Footnote 60:

  This peculiarity in Mohammed Ali’s character is historically true. He
  was hasty and severe, often unjust, in his punishments; but there was
  a fund of generosity in his heart, a reaction followed, and he
  frequently elevated to the highest posts those whom he had previously
  degraded.

Footnote 61:

  An Eastern image proverbial among lovers.

Footnote 62:

  It may not be amiss to mention that “Amina” is not only a genuine
  Arabic woman’s name, signifying “trusty,” “faithful,” &c., &c., but is
  also in high estimation, having been the name of the mother of
  Mohammed. The root of the word _amin_ (true) is one of the original
  primitives of the Arabic and Hebrew languages: it was the “verily,
  verily” so often employed by our Saviour in His threats and warnings,
  and is still familiar to all in the “amen” (“so be it,” or “may it be
  true”) which terminates the greater portion of the prayers offered up
  in Christendom.

Footnote 63:

  Kaf, a lofty and inaccessible mountain, celebrated in Eastern romance
  and mythology.

Footnote 64:

  The last two lines are from a well-known Arabic love-song.

Footnote 65:

  _I.e._, “treasurer of a very small treasure.”

Footnote 66:

  These and other verses occasionally scattered through this tale are
  translations from Arabic scraps of poetry and love-songs popular in
  Egypt. The reader must not suppose that the interview related between
  the father and daughter is intended to represent the ordinary
  relations of domestic life in Egypt; on the contrary, it is an
  exceptional picture, exhibiting the fondness of an eccentric and
  warm-hearted father for an only child. It is scarcely necessary to say
  that, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, marriages in the East are
  arranged by the parents and relatives without the slightest reference
  to the inclinations of the bride.

Footnote 67:

  Treasurer.

Footnote 68:

  Few of my countrymen who have not resided in the East are probably
  aware that it is contrary to custom, and indeed to good breeding, to
  return thanks for a present. The system of present-giving is
  widespread over the whole East. If a great man makes a present to an
  equal, the bearer is rewarded and a present of equal value is
  returned. If a present is sent by a great man to an inferior, the
  latter gives as much as he can afford to the bearer; but in no case is
  it considered good manners on the part of either giver or receiver to
  allude to a present in after-conversation.

Footnote 69:

  It must be remembered that thirty years before our tale the path or
  paths leading from Ghizeh to the Pyramids were not beaten and trodden
  as they now are; and even now, so long as the waters of the Nile are
  high, the direct road is intercepted by a number of deep sluices or
  creeks which oblige the traveller to make a considerable circuit under
  the guidance of natives acquainted with the country.

Footnote 70:

  Although the Thorpes are imaginary personages, and therefore did not
  witness this scene, it actually occurred some years later exactly as
  narrated in the text. It may afford food for reflection for those
  benevolent philanthropists who would encourage the introduction of
  sudden reforms and the abolition of corporal punishment among a
  population habituated to the stick and to slavery for a period of five
  or six thousand years!

Footnote 71:

  Before mentioned as an Arabic name for Cairo.

Footnote 72:

  Nebleh, in Arabic, means “arrow.”

Footnote 73:

  A _dabboos_ is a kind of war-club or mace much in use among the
  Mamelukes, in whose military equipment it hung at the saddle-bow. It
  resembles a pin in shape, being a smooth round handle, surmounted by a
  head or ball of iron; from the latter sometimes there protruded a
  sharp spike. I have seen some of these weapons beautifully inlaid with
  gold and silver, and the handles covered with velvet. They are not now
  in use, and are only sold as relics or curiosities.

Footnote 74:

  Mussulmans, when speaking of those who have died in their own faith,
  always use the expression in the text, and never speak of them as “the
  dead,” which latter expression is used when speaking of Christians,
  heathens, or animals.

Footnote 75:

  Up to the age of ten or twelve boys are freely admitted into the
  oriental harems. After that age no males are admitted, saving fathers,
  husbands, and brothers of the inmates. The privilege is sometimes
  extended to some other near relation, who is then termed “Mahrem,”
  meaning “one who is admitted to the harem.” Neither is it to be
  supposed that brothers, or even husbands, can intrude upon a lady’s
  privacy at pleasure. If she be of high rank, her husband cannot enter
  her boudoir without sending to ask permission. I speak now of Turkish
  harems especially.

Footnote 76:

  This is one of the many instances which our language affords of the
  changes which words undergo in passing from the Arabic into European
  tongues, especially when the words contain that impracticable _ayn_,
  to which the reader’s notice has already been called. This word is
  written in the original _ayn_, _t_, and _r_, and should therefore be
  rendered _âtr_ or _ôtr_. Some English dictionaries correctly write it
  “attar.”

Footnote 77:

  The original word rendered “good” in the translation of this fine
  proverb signifies more usually “free,” “noble,” “honourable”; in fact,
  includes those qualities which ought to be comprised in the character
  which we designate as a “gentleman.” After studying with some care the
  proverbs of many European nations, I am bound to say that, in variety
  of illustration, in terseness and felicity of diction, those found in
  the Arabic language surpass every other.

Footnote 78:

  Shubrah, a very pretty garden on the right bank of the Nile, about
  three miles below Cairo, which was planted and laid out with some
  taste by a Greek gardener under the instructions of Mohammed Ali. He
  built a small country house at one extremity, and a very handsome
  kiosk in the centre of it, containing a large basin of water. At the
  four corners of the kiosk were richly furnished apartments, in one of
  which was a billiard-table, at which the old warrior used sometimes to
  recreate himself during his latter days with his officers or guests.
  After his death the garden was neglected and almost destroyed.

Footnote 79:

  Squinting is considered in the East an ill omen, and those affected by
  it are generally avoided. “May you be blind,” or “May you squint,” is
  not an unfrequent Arab curse. It is curious that the word for
  “squinting” is identical in the French and Persian languages,
  _louche_.

Footnote 80:

  Every _beled_ or village in Egypt has its sheik or headman, who is
  responsible for the payment of the taxes, rents, and dues, as well as
  for the military recruits leviable on its population. Generally
  speaking, these sheiks are the greatest rascals and tyrants in the
  country, though they themselves are frequently oppressed and beaten by
  their Turkish masters.

Footnote 81:

  The Defterdar at the period of our tale was a relative of Mohammed
  Ali, and was an officer possessed of vast power and influence. It may
  be added that his cruelty was commensurate with his power. The
  re-mensuration of the cultivable lands had been intrusted entirely to
  him, and he was responsible for the revenues of the enormous extent of
  land which the mistaken policy of Mohammed Ali had led him to take
  into his own hands. Despite the energetic vigour of the Viceroy and
  the severity of the Defterdar, these lands never produced one-half of
  the amount which they would have returned had they been farmed to a
  number of tenants, or to the villagers themselves.

Footnote 82:

  One hundred _ardebs_ are equivalent to sixty-three imperial quarters.

Footnote 83:

  The reader is doubtless aware that in oriental houses there exist
  neither tables, chairs, cupboards, nor shelves. The last are replaced
  by niches and recesses of various forms and sizes made in the walls of
  the room, and in well-furnished houses these niches exhibit goodly
  rows of china, glass, scent-bottles, &c.

Footnote 84:

  Most of the finely-tempered oriental blades, especially those of
  ancient manufacture, have stamped upon them, near the hilt, “There is
  no God but Allah,” or some short sentence from the Koran.

Footnote 85:

  Among the Orientals, Youssuf—_i.e._, Joseph—was and still remains the
  proverbial type of manly beauty in the prime of youth. In the Eastern
  legends the frail helpmate of Potiphar has been changed into a lovely
  and high-born maiden, called Zuleika. The loves of this couple are
  referred to in one of the most eloquent chapters of the Koran, and
  have since been celebrated by Arab and Persian poets innumerable.

Footnote 86:

  A dark powder used in the East.

Footnote 87:

  I suppose it is well known that on entering a carpeted apartment in
  the East it is customary to leave the slippers near the door, or at
  all events on the stone or marble floor at the outer edge of the
  carpet.

Footnote 88:

  The sketch given of this Egyptian Messalina is not imaginary, neither
  will it be difficult of recognition to any of the older residents in
  Cairo. The author, while passing in a boat before that window which
  has been made the scene of Hassan’s leap, has often been told by the
  Nile boatmen, “That is the window from which the bodies of her hapless
  lovers were thrown when she was tired of them.” The tale may be
  exaggerated, or perhaps invented; but at all events it shows the
  reputation enjoyed by the lady in question. Her crimes were not
  unknown to Mohammed Ali, for the author was once informed by a near
  relative of the old Viceroy that, on the occasion of some flagrant
  outrage similar to that described in the text, he was himself ordered
  by the indignant Prince to put her to death; and it was only by dint
  of urgent entreaties that he succeeded in procuring a commutation of
  the bloody sentence to a stern threat of summary punishment in case
  the offence should be repeated.

Footnote 89:

  It must not be inferred from this that Mohammed Ali could not read:
  though not a good scholar, he could decipher a plainly written letter;
  but he rarely did so, and disuse made it daily a more troublesome and
  difficult task.

Footnote 90:

  The walks in the Shoobra garden were then fancifully paved with
  parti-coloured pebbles. These walks have all been destroyed, and
  carriage-roads made through the garden.

Footnote 91:

  It has before been noted that the Egyptians, when speaking of the
  Viceroy, always use the word Effendina or Effendiniz—the former being
  the Arabic form, the latter the Turkish, for “Our lord.” The English
  word Viceroy has been generally used in this tale as being shorter and
  better known.

Footnote 92:

  It would be unwarrantable to introduce, even in a work of fiction,
  such a charge against the memory of a man who, with all his faults,
  was certainly a great and sagacious Prince, had it not some foundation
  in truth. But it was stated to the author by Abbas Pasha himself that
  he fully believed that his father had been poisoned by Mohammed Ali’s
  order. The author asked him whether there was any circumstantial
  evidence to corroborate this suspicion. “Yes,” he replied. “The news
  of his death was conveyed from Lower Egypt to Mohammed Ali’s
  confidential household officer by a swift courier. The officer,
  ignorant of his master’s views, and afraid of the effect which might
  be produced on him by the sudden announcement of his son’s death,
  proceeded to break the intelligence to him with caution, saying, ‘My
  lord, news is arrived of Toussoun Pasha.’ ‘When—how did he die?’ was
  the answer. How,” continued Abbas Pasha, “could he have known or
  guessed that a man in the prime of life had suddenly died unless he
  had himself decreed it?” There was certainly force in the argument;
  but as all substantial evidence is wanting, we must be satisfied with
  the universal Arabic conclusion on such matters—“Allah knows.” Another
  reflection naturally arises from this tragedy—namely, that when we
  remember the energy and severity of Mohammed Ali’s character, it seems
  incredible that if a favourite son, and one of the bravest commanders
  in his army, had been suddenly carried off by poison in the prime of
  life without any order or connivance of his own, no open and diligent
  examination of the officers of the Prince’s household should have been
  made, and no medical inquiry as to the causes of death have been
  instituted. Such domestic tragedies are so common in the East that
  they create but little sensation on the spot. The fate of the son
  resembled that of the father. There is little doubt but that Abbas
  Pasha, the late Viceroy, was strangled in his bed by two Mamelukes who
  had lately entered his service, highly recommended by certain persons
  in Constantinople. They had stolen money from his harem, and he had
  threatened them with punishment. They were the only two on duty close
  to his bedroom on the night of his sudden death. They disappeared
  immediately after it, yet no real search was made for them; no public
  or satisfactory medical examination of the body was allowed; it was
  buried in unseemly haste, and with nothing of viceregal pomp. Crowds
  of sycophants flocked to the divan of the successor, and a very short
  time afterwards the author was informed that one of the supposed
  murderers had become an officer in the Egyptian army!

Footnote 93:

  One of the ninety-nine names of God among the Arabs.

Footnote 94:

  On account of the strong currents and numerous shoals and mudbanks
  that occur in the Nile, it is usual to fasten the boats to the banks
  at sunset and pursue the navigation at daybreak. During the night a
  certain number of guards or watchmen are hired from the nearest
  village, and while they watch (or sleep, as it may be) on the banks
  near the dahabiah, its owners and their property are usually secure
  from robbery.

Footnote 95:

  This phrase is rather Persian than Turkish, and arises not only from
  the fine sense of hearing supposed to be conferred by the long ears of
  the hare, but also from a popular belief that even when asleep pussy
  has one eye open.

Footnote 96:

  In the Nile, as in most alluvial rivers, the strongest currents are
  always under the high and precipitous bank; and it often happens that
  for several miles successively the strongest swimmer could not land on
  that side.

Footnote 97:

  Hassan’s object being to frighten away any crocodiles which might be
  near.

Footnote 98:

  In Hassan’s mouth the word Arab signified Bedouins; for he would not
  apply that honourable name to fellahs or the dwellers in villages.

Footnote 99:

  The wit-wat is the Arabic name for a kind of curlew very common in
  Egypt.

Footnote 100:

  One of the Eastern names for the nightingale.

Footnote 101:

  The word literally translated in the text “wild ox” is the
  _bakr-el-wachsh_, a very large and powerful species of antelope found
  in the deserts bordering on Egypt.

Footnote 102:

  It is probably known to most readers that nine out of ten Arabic
  proper names have reference to the Deity or the religion of Islam. The
  name Abd-hoo, literally “His servant,” means “the servant of God.” The
  pronoun “He,” when standing apart from any person referred to in a
  sentence, always has reference to Allah.

Footnote 103:

  Wrestling-matches (called _musàara_ in Arabic and _kushty_ in Persian)
  are a very favourite exercise among the populations of both countries,
  and at them, as at the games of cricket in England and curling in
  Scotland, the higher and lower classes contend on a footing of
  equality. A highly respected and talented British Minister at the
  Court of Tehran used frequently to “try a fall” with some of his own
  servants at a gymnasium near the mission residence. We insert this
  note in order to prevent our readers from supposing that our hero had
  degraded himself by accepting the unexpected challenge of the
  Darfouri.

Footnote 104:

  _Latif_ signifies courteous, polite, amiable, &c.

Footnote 105:

  Lest the reader should suppose that this scene has been exaggerated or
  represents a state of superstition no longer existing at Cairo, it may
  be as well to mention that it was witnessed by the author exactly as
  here described in the summer of 1852.

Footnote 106:

  This incident actually occurred at Cairo in 1849-50.

Footnote 107:

  This incident also actually took place, though somewhat later than the
  period of our tale.

Footnote 108:

  Loose trousers, generally made of cotton.

Footnote 109:

  _Moharrabin_ are deserters from the Egyptian army, who sometimes
  infest the provinces in considerable numbers; and as many have with
  them their arms and accoutrements, and are always joined by thieves
  and runaways from justice, they are marauders very formidable to
  travellers and caravans.

Footnote 110:

  _Sant_, the Arabic name for the _Acacia nilotica_. It is a
  thorn-bearing variety, its wood very hard, and its yellow flower
  extremely fragrant.

Footnote 111:

  Thebes, in Upper Egypt, is vulgarly called “Luxor,” a corruption of
  its proper Arabic name “El-Uksor.” The name Thebes is completely
  unknown to the natives.

Footnote 112:

  Dervish Bey had never heard of the “gallant Ormond”; but the feelings
  and instincts of parental love are in all ages and climes alike.

Footnote 113:

  The Fat’hah is the opening chapter of the Koran. It is recited at
  least once on all solemn occasions among the Moslems, and, being very
  short, is known by heart by many among them, who, like Mohammed Ali,
  know little more of the contents of their sacred book.

Footnote 114:

  A slang term for arrack.

Footnote 115:

  Alluding to a popular tale, in which four or five women, wives of a
  _bakkal_ or grocer, came before the _câdi_ to make a complaint against
  their husband. They stormed and scolded all at once, and made such a
  din in the court that not a word could be heard or understood. When at
  length they stopped for want of breath, the _câdi_ dismissed the case,
  saying, “There is no crime of which the man can have been guilty that
  is not sufficiently punished by his having those women for wives.”

Footnote 116:

  _Yuzbashi_, literally centurion, or captain over one hundred—a rank in
  the Egyptian army corresponding to that of lieutenant.

Footnote 117:

  The “Ezn-el-âshah” is the muezzin’s call to prayer about two hours
  after sunset.

Footnote 118:

  A very common phrase in Turkish for a “mad-cap.” It means literally
  “mad-blood.”

Footnote 119:

  The episode of the conspiracy described above is founded on fact but
  it took place some years before the date assigned to our tale. One day
  when I was sitting _tête-à-tête_ with Mohammed Ali, he spoke very
  disparagingly of Ibrahim Pasha. I observed, “Yet on the occasion of
  that dangerous conspiracy against your Highness’s life Ibrahim behaved
  well, and gave no encouragement to it.” “He dared not,” replied the
  Old Lion; “but it was only fear that withheld him.” I shall never
  forget the fire that flashed from his eyes as he uttered these words.

------------------------------------------------------------------------



                           Transcriber’s Note


Italicized phrases are presented by surrounding the text with
_underscores_. Spaced out phrases are presented by surrounding the
text with =equal signs=.

Minor changes in presentation have been made from the layout of the
original paper publication.

Footnotes have been renumbered and relocated at the end of the book.

Punctuation has been normalized. Variations in hyphenation have been
retained as they were in the original publication. The following assumed
printer's errors were corrected:

In Footnote #3, the word Ĥharâm as represented by an H capped by a
circumflex was represented in this edition by an H capped by a tilde or
possibly a pokrytie in the original edition, the fonts for which are not
as commonly available.

    every —> Every {Page 8}

    mothor —> mother {Page 12}

    arrear —> arrears {Page 46}

    choloric —> choleric {Page 120}

    untamable —> untameable {Page 132}

    Skeik-el-Beled —> Sheik-el-Beled {Page 230}

    know —> Know {Page 241}

    Acacia hilotica —> Acacia nilotica {Page 364}

    Deli —> Delì {Footnote 27}

    and are alway —> and are always {Footnote 109}





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