A Modern Telemachus
Charlotte M. Yonge
Part 2 out of 4
''Tis to their Prophet's tomb they look, at Mecca.'
'There, an' I tould you they were no better than haythens,' returned
Lanty, 'to be praying and knocking their heads on the bare boards--that
have as much sense as they have--to a dead man's tomb.'
Arthur's Scotch mind thought the Moors might have had the best of it in
argument when he recollected Lanty's trust in his scapulary.
They tried to hold a conversation with the Reis, between lingua Franca
and the Provencal of the renegade; and they came to the conclusion that
no one had the least idea where they were, or where they were going;
the ship's compass had been broken in the boarding, and there was no
chart more available than the little map in the beginning of Estelle's
precious copy of Telemaque. The Turkish Reis did not trouble himself
about it, but squatted himself down with his chibouque, abandoning all
guidance of the ship, and letting her drift at the will of wind and
wave, or, as he said, the will of Allah. When asked where he thought
she was going, he replied with solemn indifference, 'Kismet;' and all
the survivors of the crew--for one had been washed overboard--seemed to
share his resignation.
The only thing he did seem to care for was that if the infidel woman
chose to persist in coming on deck, the canvas screen--which had been
washed overboard--should be restored. This was done, and Madame de
Bourke was assisted to a couch that had been prepared for her with
cloaks, where the air revived her a little; but she listened with a
faint smile to the assurances of Arthur, backed by Hebert, that this
abandonment to fate gave the best chance. They might either be picked
up by a Christian vessel or go ashore on a Christian coast; but Madame
de Bourke did not build much on these hopes. She knew too well what
were the habits of wreckers of all nations, to think that it would make
much difference whether they were driven on the coast of Sicily or of
Africa--'barring,' as Lanty said, 'that they should get Christian
burial in the former case.'
'We are in the hands of a good God. That at least we know,' said the
Countess. 'And He can hear us through, whether for life in Paradise,
or trial a little longer here below.'
'Like Blandina,' observed Estelle.
'Ah! my child, who knows whether trials like even that blessed saint's
may not be in reserve even for your tender age. When I think of these
miserable men, who have renounced their faith, I see what fearful
ordeals there may be for those who fall into the hands of those
unbelievers. Strong men have yielded. How may it not be with my poor
'God made Blandina brave, mamma. I will pray that He may make me so.'
Land was in sight at last. Purple mountains rose to the south in wild
forms, looking strangely thunderous and red in the light of the sinking
sun. A bay, with rocks jutting out far into the sea, seemed to embrace
them with its arms. Soundings were made, and presently the Reis
decided on anchoring. It was a rocky coast, with cliffs descending
into the sea, covered with verdure, and the water beneath was clear as
'Have we escaped the Syrtes to fall upon AEneas' cave?' murmured Arthur
'And if we could meet Queen Dido, or maybe Venus herself, 'twould be no
bad thing!' observed Lanty, who remembered his Virgil on occasion.
'For there's not a drop of wather left barring eau de vie, and if these
Moors get at that, 'tis raving madmen they would be.'
'Do they know where we are?' asked Arthur.
'Sorrah a bit!' returned Lanty, 'tho' 'tis a pretty place enough. If
my old mother was here, 'tis her heart would warm to the mountains.'
'Is it Calypso's Island?' whispered Ulysse to his sister.
'See, what are they doing?' cried Estelle. 'There are people--don't
you see, white specks crowding down to the water.'
There was just then a splash, and two bronzed figures were seen setting
forth from the tartane to swim to shore. The Turkish Reis had
despatched them, to ascertain whether the vessel had drifted, and who
the inhabitants might be.
A good while elapsed before one of these scouts returned. There was a
great deal of talk and gesticulating round him, and Lanty, mingling
with it, brought back word that the place was the Bay of Golo, not far
from Djigheli, and just beyond the Algerine frontier. The people were
Cabeleyzes, a wild race of savage dogs, which means dogs according the
Moors, living in the mountains, and independent of the Dey. A
considerable number rushed to the coast, armed, and in great numbers,
perceiving the tartane to be an Italian vessel, and expecting a raid by
Sicilian robbers on their cattle; but the Moors had informed them that
it was no such thing, but a prize taken in the name of the Dey of
Algiers, in which an illustrious French Bey's harem was being conveyed
to Algiers. From that city the tartane was now about a day's sail,
having been driven to the eastward of it during the storm. 'The
Turkish commander evidently does not like the neighbourhood,' said
Arthur, 'judging by his gestures.'
'Dogs and sons of dogs are the best names he has for them,' rejoined
'See! They have cut the cable! Are we not to wait for the other man
who swam ashore?'
So it was. A favourable wind was blowing, and the Reis, being by no
means certain of the disposition of the Cabeleyzes, chose to leave them
behind him as soon as possible, and make his way to Algiers, which
began to appear to his unfortunate passengers like a haven of safety.
They were not, however, out of the bay when the wind suddenly veered,
and before the great lateen sail could be reefed, it had almost caused
the vessel to be blown over. There was a pitching and tossing almost
as violent as in the storm, and then wind and current began carrying
the tartane towards the rocky shore. The Reis called the men to the
oars, but their numbers were too few to be availing, and in a very few
minutes more the vessel was driven hopelessly towards a mass of rocks.
Arthur, the Abbe, Hebert, and Lanty were all standing together at the
head of the vessel. The poor Abbe seemed dazed, and kept dreamily
fingering his rosary, and murmuring to himself. The other three
consulted in a low voice.
'Were it not better to have the women here on deck?' asked Arthur.
'Eh, non!' sobbed Master Hebert. 'Let not my poor mistress see what is
coming on her and her little ones!'
'Ah! and 'tis better if the innocent creatures must be drowned, that it
should be without being insensed of it till they wake in our Lady's
blessed arms,' added Lanty. 'Hark! and they are at their prayers.'
But just then Victorine rushed up from below, and throwing her arms
round Lanty, cried, 'Oh! Laurent, Laurent. It is not true that it is
all over with us, is it? Oh! save me! save me!'
'And if I cannot save you, mine own heart's core, we'll die together,'
returned the poor fellow, holding her fast. 'It won't last long,
Victorine, and the saints have a hold of my scapulary.'
He had scarcely spoken when, lifted upon a wave, the tartane dashed
upon the rocks, and there was at once a horrible shivering and crashing
throughout her--a frightful mingling of shrieks and yells of despair
with the wild roar of the waves that poured over her. The party at the
head of the vessel were conscious of clinging to something, and when
the first burly-burly ceased a little they found themselves all
together against the bulwark, the vessel almost on her beam ends,
wedged into the rocks, their portion high and dry, but the stern, where
the cabin was, entirely under water.
Victorine screamed aloud, 'My lady! my poor lady.'
'I see--I see something,' cried Arthur, who had already thrown off his
coat, and in another moment he had brought up Estelle in his arms,
alive, sobbing and panting. Giving her over to the steward, he made
another dive, but then was lost sight of, and returned no more, nor was
anything to be seen of the rest. Shut up in the cabin, Madame de
Bourke, Ulysse, and the three maids must have been instantly drowned,
and none of the crew were to be seen. Maitre Hebert hold the little
girl in his arms, glad that, though living, she was only half-
conscious. Victorine, sobbing, hung heavily on Lanty, and before he
could free his hands he perceived to his dismay that the Abbe,
unassisted, was climbing down from the wreck upon the rock, scarcely
perhaps aware of his danger.
Lanty tried to put Victorine aside, and called out, 'Your reverence,
wait--Masther Phelim, wait till I come and help you.' But the girl,
frantic with terror, grappled him fast, screaming to him not to let her
go--and at the same moment a wave broke over the Abbe. Lanty, almost
wild, was ready to leap into it after him, thinking he must be sucked
back with it, but behold! he still remained clinging to the rock.
Instinct seemed to serve him, for he had stuck his knife into the rock
and was holding on by it. There seemed no foothold, and while Lanty
was deliberating how to go to his assistance, another wave washed him
off and bore him to the next rock, which was only separated from the
mainland by a channel of smoother water. He tried to catch at a
floating plank, but in vain; however, an oar next drifted towards him,
and by it he gained the land, but only to be instantly surrounded by a
mob of Cabeleyzes, who seemed to be stripping off his garments. By
this time many were swimming towards the wreck; and Estelle, who had
recovered breath and senses, looked over Hebert's shoulder at them.
'The savages! the infidels!' she said. 'Will they kill me? or will
they try to make me renounce my faith? They shall kill me rather than
make me yield.'
'Ah! yes, my dear demoiselle, that is right. That is the only way. It
is my resolution likewise,' returned Hebert. 'God give us grace to
'My mamma said so,' repeated the child. 'Is she drowned, Maitre
'She is happier than we are, my dear young lady.'
'And my little brother too! Ah! then I shall remember that they are
only sending me to them in Paradise.'
By this time the natives were near the wreck, and Estelle, shuddering,
clung closer to Hebert; but he had made up his mind what to do. 'I
must commit you to these men, Mademoiselle,' he said; 'the water is
rising--we shall perish if we remain here.'
'Ah! but it would not hurt so much to be drowned,' said Estelle, who
had made up her mind to Blandina's chair.
'I must endeavour to save you for your father, Mademoiselle, and your
poor grandmother! There! be a good child! Do not struggle.'
He had attracted the attention of some of the swimmers, and he now
flung her to them. One caught her by an arm, another by a leg, and she
was safely taken to the shore, where at once a shoe and a stocking were
taken from her, in token of her becoming a captive; but otherwise her
garments were not meddled with; in which she was happier than her
uncle, whom she found crouched up on a rock, stripped almost to the
skin, so that he shrank from her, when she sprang to his side amid the
Babel of wild men and women, who were shouting in exultation and wonder
over his big flapped hat, his soutane and bands, pointing at his white
limbs and yellow hair--or, what amazed them even more, Estelle's light,
flaxen locks, which hung soaked around her. She felt a hand pulling
them to see whether anything so strange actually grew on her head, and
she turned round to confront them with a little gesture of defiant
dignity that evidently awed them, for they kept their hands off her,
and did not interfere as she stood sentry over her poor shivering
Lanty was by this time trying to drag Victorine over the rocks and
through the water. The poor Parisienne was very helpless, falling,
hurting herself, and screaming continually; and trebly, when a couple
of natives seized upon her, and dragged her ashore, where they
immediately snatched away her mantle and cap, pulled off her gold chain
and cross, and tore out her earrings with howls of delight.
Lanty, struggling on, was likewise pounced upon, and bereft of his fine
green and gold livery coat and waistcoat, which, though by no means his
best, and stained with the sea water, were grasped with ecstasy,
quarrelled over, and displayed in triumph. The steward had secured a
rope by which he likewise reached the shore, only to become the prey of
the savages, who instantly made prize of his watch and purse, as well
as of almost all his garments. The five unfortunate survivors would
fain have remained huddled together, but the natives pointing to some
huts on the hillside, urged them thither by the language of shouts and
'Faith and I'm not an ox,' exclaimed Lanty, as if the fellow could have
understood him, 'and is it to the shambles you're driving me?'
'Best not resist! There's nothing for it but to obey them,' said the
steward, 'and at least there will be shelter for the child.'
No objection was made to his lifting her in his arms, and he carried
her, as the party, half-drowned, nearly starved and exhausted, stumbled
on along the rocky paths which cut their feet cruelly, since their
shoes had all been taken from them. Lanty gave what help he could to
the Abbe and Victorine, who were both in a miserable plight, but ere
long he was obliged to take his turn in carrying Estelle, whose weight
had become too much for the worn out Hebert. He was alarmed to find,
on transferring her, that her head sank on his shoulder as if in a
sleep of exhaustion, which, however, shielded her from much terror.
For, as they arrived at a cluster of five or six tents, built of clay
and the branches of trees, out rushed a host of women, children, and
large fierce dogs, all making as much noise as they were capable of.
The dogs flew at the strange white forms, no doubt utterly new to them.
Victorine was severely bitten, and Lanty, trying to rescue her, had his
These two were driven into one hut; Estelle, who was evidently
considered as the greatest prize, was taken into another and rather
better one, together with the steward and the Abbe. The Moors, who had
swum ashore, had probably told them that she was the Frankish Bey's
daughter; for this, miserable place though it was, appeared to be the
best hut in the hamlet, nor was she deprived of her clothes. A sort of
bournouse or haik, of coarse texture and very dirty, was given to each
of the others, and some rye cakes baked in the ashes. Poor little
Estelle turned away her head at first, but Hebert, alarmed at her
shivering in her wet clothes, contrived to make her swallow a little,
and then took off the soaked dress, and wrapped her in the bournouse.
She was by this time almost unconscious from weariness, and made no
resistance to the unaccustomed hands, or the disgusting coarseness and
uncleanness of her wrapper, but dropped asleep the moment he laid her
down, and he applied himself to trying to dry her clothes at a little
fire of sticks that had been lighted outside the open space, round
which the huts stood.
The Abbe too had fallen asleep, as Hebert managed to assure poor Lanty,
who rushed out of the other tent, nearly naked, and bloodstained in
many places, but more concerned at his separation from his foster-
brother than at anything else that had befallen him. Men, women,
children, and dogs were all after him, supposing him to be trying to
escape, and he was seized upon and dragged back by main force, but not
before the steward had called out -
'M. l'Abbe sleeps--sleeps sound--he is not hurt! For Heaven's sake,
Laurent, be quiet--do not enrage them! It is the only hope for him, as
for Mademoiselle and the rest of us.'
Lanty, on hearing of the Abbe's safety, allowed himself to be taken
back, making himself, however, a passive dead weight on his captor's
'Arrah,' he muttered to himself, 'if ye will have me, ye shall have the
trouble of me, bad luck to you. 'Tis little like ye are to the
barbarous people St. Paul was thrown with; but then what right have I
to expect the treatment of a holy man, the like of him? If so be, I
can save that poor orphan that's left, and bring off Master Phelim
safe, and save poor Victorine from being taken for some dirty
spalpeen's wife, when he has half a dozen more to the fore--'tis little
it matters what becomes of Lanty Callaghan; they might give him to
their big brutes of dogs, and mighty lean meat they would find him!'
So came down the first night upon the captives.
'Hold fast thy hope and Heaven will not
Forsake thee in thine hour.
Good angels will be near thee,
And evil ones will fear thee,
And Faith will give thee power.'
The whole northern coast of Africa is inhabited by a medley of tribes,
all owning a kind of subjection to the Sultan, but more in the sense of
Pope than of King. The part of the coast where the tartane had been
driven on the rocks was beneath Mount Araz, a spur of the Atlas, and
was in the possession of the Arab tribe called Cabeleyze, which is said
to mean 'the revolted.' The revolt had been from the Algerine power,
which had never been able to pursue them into the fastnesses of the
mountains, and they remained a wild independent race, following all
those Ishmaelite traditions and customs that are innate in the blood of
When Estelle awoke from her long sleep of exhaustion, she was conscious
of a stifling atmosphere, and moreover of the crow of a cock in her
immediate vicinity, then of a dog growling, and a lamb beginning to
bleat. She raised herself a little, and beheld, lying on the ground
around her, dark heaps with human feet protruding from them. These
were interspersed with sheep, goats, dogs, and fowls, all seen by the
yellow light of the rising sun which made its way in not only through
the doorless aperture, but through the reeds and branches which formed
Close as the air was, she felt the chill of the morning and shivered.
At the same moment she perceived poor Maitre Hebert covering himself as
best he could with a dirty brown garment, and bending over her with
much solicitude, but making signs to make as little noise as possible,
while he whispered, 'How goes it with Mademoiselle?'
'Ah,' said Estelle, recollecting herself, 'we are shipwrecked. We
shall have to confess our faith! Where are the rest?'
'There is M. l'Abbe,' said Hebert, pointing to a white pair of the bare
feet. 'Poor Laurent and Victorine have been carried elsewhere.'
'And mamma? And my brother?'
'Ah! Mademoiselle, give the good God thanks that he has spared them
'Mamma! Ah, she was in the cabin when the water came in? But my
brother! I had hold of his hand, he came out with me. I saw M. Arture
swim away with him. Yes, Maitre Hebert, indeed I did.'
Hebert had not the least hope that they could be saved, but he would
not grieve the child by saying so, and his present object was to get
her dressed before any one was awake to watch, and perhaps appropriate
her upper garments. He was a fatherly old man, and she let him help
her with her fastenings, and comb out her hair with the tiny comb in
her etui. Indeed, friseurs were the rule in France, and she was not
unused to male attendants at the toilette, so that she was not shocked
at being left to his care.
For the rest, the child had always dwelt in an imaginary world, a
curious compound of the Lives of the Saints and of Telemaque. Martyrs
and heroes alike had been shipwrecked, taken captive, and tormented;
and there was a certain sense of realised day-dream about her, as if
she had become one of the number and must act up to her part. She
asked Hebert if there were a Sainte Estelle, what was the day of the
month, and if she should be placed in the Calendar if she never
complained, do what these barbarians might to her. She hoped she
should hold out, for she would like to be able to help all whom she
loved, poor papa and all. But it was hard that mamma, who was so good,
could not be a martyr too; but she was a saint in Paradise all the
same, and thus Estelle made her little prayer in hope. There was no
conceit or over confidence in the tone, though of course the poor child
little knew what she was ready to accept; but it was a spark of the
martyr's trust that gleamed in her eye, and gave her a sense of
exaltation that took off the sharpest edge of grief and fear.
By this time, however, the animals were stirring, and with them the
human beings who had lain down in their clothes. Peace was over; the
Abbe awoke, and began to call for Laurent and his clothes and his
beads; but this aroused the master of the house, who started up, and
threatening with a huge stick, roared at him what must have been orders
to be quiet.
Estelle indignantly flew between and cried, 'You shall not hurt my
The commanding gesture spoke for itself; and, besides, poor Phelim
cowered behind her with an air that caused a word and sign to pass
round, which the captives found was equivalent to innocent or imbecile;
and the Mohammedan respect and tenderness for the demented spared him
all further violence or molestation, except that he was lost and
miserable without the attentions of his foster-brother; and indeed the
shocks he had undergone seemed to have mobbed him of much of the small
degree of sense he had once possessed.
Coming into the space before the doorway, Estelle found herself the
object of universal gaze and astonishment, as her long fair hair
gleamed in the sunshine, every one coming to touch it, and even pull it
to see if it was real. She was a good deal frightened, but too high-
spirited to show it more than she could help, as the dark-skinned,
bearded men crowded round with cries of wonder. The other two
prisoners likewise appeared: Victorine looking wretchedly ill, and
hardly able to hold up her head; Lanty creeping towards the Abbe, and
trying to arrange his remnant of clothing. There was a short respite,
while the Arabs, all turning eastwards, chanted their morning devotions
with a solemnity that struck their captives. The scene was a fine one,
if there had been any heart to admire. The huts were placed on the
verge of a fine forest of chestnut and cork trees--and beyond towered
up mountain peaks in every variety of dazzling colour--red and purple
beneath, glowing red and gold where the snowy peaks caught the morning
sun, lately broken from behind them. The slopes around were covered
with rich grass, flourishing after the summer heats, and to which the
herds were now betaking themselves, excepting such as were detained to
be milked by the women, who came pouring out of some of the other huts
in dark blue garments; and in front, still shadowed by the mountain,
lay the bay, deep, beautiful, pellucid green near the land, and shut in
by fantastic and picturesque rocks--some bare, some clothed with
splendid foliage, winter though it was--while beyond lay the exquisite
blue stretching to the horizon. Little recked the poor prisoners of
the scene so fair; they only saw the remnant of the wreck below, the
sea that parted them from hope, the savage rocks behind, the barbarous
people around, the squalor and dirt of the adowara, as the hamlet was
Comparatively, the Moor who had swum ashore to reconnoitre seemed like
a friend when he came forward and saluted Estelle and the Abbe
respectfully. Moreover the lingua Franca Lanty had picked up
established a very imperfect double system of interpretation by the
help of many gestures. This was Lanty's explanation to the rest: in
French, of course, but, like all his speech, Irish-English in
'This Moor, Hassan, wants to stand our friend in his own fashion, but
he says they care not the value of an empty mussel-shell for the
French, and no more for the Dey of Algiers than I do for the Elector of
Hanover. He has told them that M. l'Abbe and Mademoiselle are brother
and daughter to a great Bey--but it is little they care for that. Holy
Virgin, they took Mademoiselle for a boy! That is why they are gazing
at her so impudently. Would that I could give them a taste of my cane!
Do you see those broken walls, and a bit of a castle on yonder headland
jutting out into the sea? They are bidding Hassan say that the French
built that, and garrisoned it with the help of the Dey; but there fell
out a war, and these fellows, or their fathers, surprised it, sacked
it, and carried off four hundred prisoners into slavery. Holy Mother
defend us! Here are all the rogues coming to see what they will do
For the open space in front of the huts, whence all the animals had now
been driven, was becoming thronged with figures with the haik laid over
their heads, spear or blunderbuss in hand, fine bearing, and sometimes
truculent, though handsome, browse countenances. They gazed at the
captives, and uttered what sounded like loud hurrahs or shouts; but
after listening to Hassan, Lanty turned round trembling. 'The
miserables! Some are for sacrificing us outright on the spot, but this
decent man declares that he will make them sensible that their prophet
was not out-and-out as bad as that. Never you fear, Mademoiselle.'
'I am not afraid,' said Estelle, drawing up her head. 'We shall be
Lanty was engaged in listening to a moan from his foster-brother for
food, and Hebert joined in observing that they might as well be
sacrificed as starved to death; whereupon the Irishman's words and
gesticulations induced the Moor to make representations which resulted
in some dry pieces of samh cake, a few dates, and a gourd of water
being brought by one of the women; a scanty amount for the number, even
though poor Victorine was too ill to touch anything but the water;
while the Abbe seemed unable to understand that the servants durst not
demand anything better, and devoured her share and a quarter of Lanty's
as well as his own. Meantime the Cabeleyzes had all ranged themselves
in rows, cross-legged on the ground, opposite to the five unfortunate
captives, to sit in judgment on them. As they kept together in one
group, happily in the shade of a hut, Victorine, too faint and sick
fully to know what was going on, lay with her head on the lap of her
young mistress, who sat with her bright and strangely fearless eyes
confronting the wild figures opposite.
Her uncle, frightened, though not comprehending the extent of his
danger, crouched behind Lanty, who with Hebert stood somewhat in
advance, the would-be guardians of the more helpless ones.
There was an immense amount of deafening shrieking and gesticulating
among the Arabs. Hassan was responding, and finally turned to Lanty,
when the anxious watchers could perceive signs as if of paying down
coin made interrogatively. 'Promise them anything, everything,' cried
Hebert; 'M. le Comte would give his last sou--so would Madame la
Marquise--to save Mademoiselle.'
'I have told him so,' said Laurence presently; 'I bade him let them
know it is little they can make of us, specially now they have stripped
us as bare as themselves, the rascals! but that their fortunes would be
made--and little they would know what to do with them--if they would
only send M. l'Abbe and Mademoiselle to Algiers safe and sound. There!
he is trying to incense them. Never fear, Master Phelim, dear, there
never was a rogue yet, black or white, or the colour of poor Madame's
frothed chocolate, who did not love gold better than blood, unless
indeed 'twas for the sweet morsel of revenge; and these, for all their
rolling eyes and screeching tongues, have not the ghost of a quarrel
'My beads, my breviary,' sighed the Abbe. 'Get them for me, Lanty.'
'I wish they would end it quickly,' said Estelle. 'My head aches so,
and I want to be with mamma. Poor Victorine! yours is worse,' she
added, and soaked her handkerchief in the few drops of water left in
the gourd to lay it on the maid's forehead.
The howling and shrieking betokened consultation, but was suddenly
interrupted by some half-grown lads, who came running in with their
hands full of what Lanty recognised to his horror as garments worn by
his mistress and fellow-servants, also a big kettle and a handspike.
They pointed down to the sea, and with yells of haste and exultation
all the wild conclave started up to snatch, handle, and examine, then
began rushing headlong to the beach. Hassan's explanations were
scarcely needed to show that they were about to ransack the ship, and
he evidently took credit to himself for having induced them to spare
the prisoners in case their assistance should be requisite to gain full
possession of the plunder.
Estelle and Victorine were committed to the charge of a forbidding-
looking old hag, the mother of the sheyk of the party; the Abbe was
allowed to stray about as he pleased, but the two men were driven to
the shore by the eloquence of the club. Victorine revived enough for a
burst of tears and a sobbing cry, 'Oh, they will be killed! We shall
never see them again!'
'No,' said Estelle, with her quiet yet childlike resolution, 'they are
not going to kill any of us yet. They said so. You are so tired, poor
Victorine! Now all the hubbub is over, suppose you lie still and
sleep. My uncle,' as he roamed round her, mourning for his rosary, 'I
am afraid your beads are lost; but see here, these little round seeds,
I can pierce them if you will gather some more for me, and make you
another set. See, these will be the Aves, and here are shells in the
grass for the Paters.'
The long fibre of grass served for the string, and the sight of the
Giaour girl's employment brought round her all the female population
who had not repaired to the coast. Her first rosary was torn from her
to adorn an almost naked baby; but the Abbe began to whimper, and to
her surprise the mother restored it to him. She then made signs that
she would construct another necklace for the child, and she was
rewarded by a gourd being brought to her full of milk, which she was
able to share with her two companions, and which did something to
revive poor Victorine. Estelle was kept threading these necklaces and
bracelets all the wakeful hours of the day--for every one fell asleep
about noon--though still so jealous a watch was kept on her that she
was hardly allowed to shift her position so as to get out of the sun,
which even at that season was distressingly scorching in the middle of
Parties were continually coming up from the beach laden with spoils of
all kinds from the wreck, Lanty, Hebert, and a couple of negroes being
driven up repeatedly, so heavily burthened as to be almost bent double.
All was thrown down in a heap at the other end of the adowara, and the
old sheyk kept guard over it, allowing no one to touch it. This went
on till darkness was coming on, when, while the cattle were being
collected for the night, the prisoners were allowed an interval, in
which Hebert and Lanty told how the natives, swimming like ducks, had
torn everything out of the wreck: all the bales and boxes that poor
Maitre Hebert had secured with so much care, and many of which he was
now forced himself to open for the pleasure of these barbarians.
That, however, was not the worst. Hebert concealed from his little
lady what Lanty did not spare Victorine. 'And there--enough to melt
the heart of a stone--there lay on the beach poor Madame la Comtesse,
and all the three. Good was it for you, Victorine, my jewel, that you
were not in the cabin with them.'
'I know not,' said the dejected Victorine; 'they are better off than
'You would not say so, if you had seen what I have,' said Lanty,
shuddering. 'The dogs!--they cut off Madame's poor white fingers to
get at her rings, and not with knives either, lest her blessed flesh
should defile them, they said, and her poor face was an angel's all the
time. Nay, nor that was not the worst. The villainous boys, what must
they do but pelt the poor swollen bodies with stones! Ay, well you may
scream, Victorine. We went down on our knees, Maitre Hebert and I, to
pray they might let us give them burial, but they mocked us, and bade
Hassan say they never bury dogs. I went round the steeper path, for
all the load at my back, or I should have been flying at the throats of
the cowardly vultures, and then what would have become of M. l'Abbe?'
Victorine trembled and wept bitterly for her companions, and then asked
if Lanty had seen the corpse of the little Chevalier.
'Not a sight of him or M. Arthur either,' returned Lanty; 'only the
ugly face of the old Turk captain and another of his crew, and them
they buried decently, being Moslem hounds like themselves; while my
poor lady that is a saint in heaven--' and he, too, shed tears of hot
grief and indignation, recovering enough to warn Victorine by no means
to let the poor young girl know of this additional horror.
There was little opportunity, for they had been appropriated by
different masters: Estelle, the Abbe, and Hebert to the sheyk, or
headman of the clan; and Lanty and Victorine to a big, strong, fierce-
looking fellow, of inferior degree but greater might.
This time Estelle was to be kept for the night among the sheyk's women,
who, though too unsophisticated to veil their faces, had a part of the
hut closed off with a screen of reeds, but quite as bare as the
outside. Hebert, who could not endure to think of her sleeping on the
ground, and saw a large heap of grass or straw provided for a little
brown cow, endeavoured to take an armful for her. Unluckily it
belonged to Lanty's master, Eyoub, who instantly flew at him in a fury,
dragged him to a log of wood, caught up an axe, and had not Estelle's
screams brought up the sheyk, with Hassan and one or two other men, the
poor Maitre d'Hotel's head would have been off. There was a sharp
altercation between the sheyk and Eyoub, while Estelle held the
faithful servant's hand, saying, 'You did it for me! Oh, Hebert, do
not make them angry again. It would be beautiful to die for one's
faith, but not for a handful of hay.'
'Ah! my dear demoiselle, what would my poor ladies say to see you
sleeping on the bare ground in a filthy hut?'
'I slept well last night,' returned Estelle; 'indeed, I do not mind!
It is only the more like the dungeon at Lyon, you know! And I pray
you, Hebert, do not get yourself killed for nothing too soon, or else
we shall not all stand out and confess together, like St. Blandina and
St. Ponticus and St Epagathius.'
'Alas, the dear child! The long names run off her tongue as glibly as
ever,' sighed Hebert, who, though determined not to forsake his faith,
by no means partook her enthusiasm for martyrdom. Hassan, however,
having explained what the purpose had been, Hebert was pardoned, though
the sheyk scornfully observed that what was good enough for the
daughters of a Hadji was good enough for the unclean child of the
The hay might perhaps have spared a little stiffness, but it would not
have ameliorated the chief annoyances--the closeness, the dirt, and the
vermin. It was well that it was winter, or the first of these would
have been far worse, and, fortunately for Estelle, she was one of those
whom suffocating air rather lulls than rouses.
Eyoub's hovel did not rejoice in the refinement of a partition, but his
family, together with their animals, lay on the rocky floor as best
they might; and Victorine's fever came on again, so that she lay in
great misery, greeted by a growl from a great white dog whenever she
tried to relieve her restless aching limbs by the slightest movement,
or to reach one of the gourds of water laid near the sleepers, like
Saul's cruse at his pillow.
Towards morning, however, Lanty, who had been sitting with his back
against the wall, awoke from the sleep well earned by acting as a beast
of burthen. The dog growled a little, but Lanty--though his leg still
showed its teeth-marks--had made friends with it, and his hand on its
head quieted it directly, so that he was able cautiously to hand a
gourd to Victorine. The Arabs were heavy sleepers, and the two were
able to talk under their breath; as, in reply to a kind word from
Lanty, poor Victorine moaned her envy of the fate of Rosette and
Babette; and he, with something of their little mistress's spirit,
declared that he had no doubt but that 'one way or the other they
should be out of it: either get safe home, or be blessed martyrs,
without even a taste of purgatory.'
'Ah! but there's worse for me,' sighed Victorine. 'This demon brought
another to stare in my face--I know he wants to make me his wife! Kill
me first, Laurent.'
'It is I that would rather espouse you, my jewel,' returned a tender
'How can you talk of such things at such a moment?'
''Tis a pity M. l'Abbe is not a priest,' sighed Lanty. 'But, you know,
Victorine, who is the boy you always meant to take.'
'You need not be so sure of that,' she said, the coy coquetry not quite
'Come, as you said, it is no time for fooling. Give me your word and
troth to be my wife so soon as we have the good luck to come by a
Christian priest by our Lady's help, and I'll outface them all--were it
Mohammed the Prophet himself, that you are my espoused and betrothed,
and woe to him that puts a finger on you.'
'You would only get yourself killed.'
'And would not I be proud to be killed for your sake? Besides, I'll
show them cause not to kill me if I have the chance. Trust me,
Victorine, my darling--it is but a chance among these murdering
villains, but it is the only one; and, sure, if you pretended to turn
the back of your hand to me when there were plenty of Christian men to
compliment you, yet you would rather have poor Lanty than a thundering
rogue of a pagan Mohammedan.'
'I hope I shall die,' sighed poor Victorine faintly. 'It will only be
'That is my affair,' responded Lanty. 'Come, here's daylight coming
in; reach me your hand before this canaille wakes, and here's this good
beast of a dog, and yonder grave old goat with a face like Pere
Michel's for our witnesses--and by good luck, here's a bit of gilt wire
off my shoulder-knot that I've made into a couple of rings while I've
The strange betrothal had barely taken place before there was a stir,
and what was no doubt a yelling imprecation on the 'dog Giaours' for
the noise they made.
The morning began as before, with the exception that Estelle had
established a certain understanding with a little chocolate-coloured
cupid of a boy of the size of her brother, and his lesser sister, by
letting them stroke her hair, and showing them the mysteries of cat's
cradle. They shared their gourd of goat's-milk with her, but would not
let her give any to her companions. However, the Abbe had only to hold
out his hand to be fed, and the others were far too anxious to care
much about their food.
A much larger number of Cabeleyzes came streaming into the forum of the
adowara, and the prisoners were all again placed in a row, while the
new-comers passed before them, staring hard, and manifestly making
personal remarks which perhaps it was well that they did not
understand. The sheyk and Eyoub evidently regarded them as private
property, stood in front, and permitted nobody to handle them, which
was so far a comfort.
Then followed a sort of council, with much gesticulation, in which
Hassan took his share. Then, followed by the sheyk, Eyoub, and some
other headmen, he advanced, and demanded that the captives should
become true believers. This was eked out with gestures betokening that
thus they would be free, in that case; while, if they refused, the
sword and the smouldering flame were pointed to, while the whole host
loudly shouted 'Islam!'
Victorine trembled, sobbed, tried to hide herself; but Estelle stood
up, her young face lighted up, her dark eyes gleaming, as if she were
realising a daydream, as she shook her head, cried out to Lanty, 'Tell
him, No--never!' and held to her breast a little cross of sticks that
she had been forming to complete her uncle's rosary. Her gesture was
understood. A man better clad than the rest, with a turban and a broad
crimson sash, rushed up to her, seized her by the hair, and waved his
scimitar over her head. The child felt herself close to her mother.
She looked up in his face with radiant eyes and a smile on her lips.
It absolutely daunted the fellow: his arm dropped, and he gazed at her
like some supernatural creature; and the sheyk, enraged at the
interference with his property, darted forth to defend it, and there
was a general wrangling.
Seconded by their interpreter, Hassan, who knew that the Koran did not
prescribe the destruction of Christians, Hebert and Lanty endeavoured
to show that their conversion was out of the question, and that their
slaughter would only be the loss of an exceedingly valuable ransom,
which would be paid if they were handed over safe and sound and in good
There was no knowing what was the effect of this, for the council again
ended in a rush to secure the remaining pillage of the wreck. Hebert
and Lanty dreaded what they might see, but to their great relief those
poor remains had disappeared. They shuddered as they remembered the
hyenas' laughs and the jackals' howls they had heard at nightfall; but
though they hoped that the sea had been merciful, they could even have
been grateful to the animals that had spared them the sight of
The wreck was finally cleared, and among the fragments were found
several portions of books. These the Arabs disregarded, being too
ignorant even to read their own Koran, and yet aware of the Mohammedan
scruple which forbids the destruction of any scrap of paper lest it
should bear the name of Allah. Lanty secured the greater part of the
Abbe's breviary, and a good many pages of Estelle's beloved Telemaque;
while the steward gained possession of his writing case, and was
permitted to retain it when the Cabeleyzes, glutted with plunder, had
ascertained that it contained nothing of value to them.
After everything had been dragged up to the adowara, there ensued a
sort of auction or division of the plunder. Poor Maitre Hebert was
doomed to see the boxes and bales he had so diligently watched broken
open by these barbarians,--nay, he had to assist in their own
dissection when the secrets were too much for the Arabs. There was the
King of Spain's portrait rent from its costly setting and stamped upon
as an idolatrous image. The miniature of the Count, worn by the poor
lady, had previously shared the same fate, but that happily was out of
sight and knowledge. Here was the splendid plate, presented by crowned
heads, howled over by savages ignorant of its use. The silver they
seemed to value; but there were three precious gold cups which the salt
water had discoloured, so that they were taken for copper and sold for
a very small price to a Jew, who somehow was attracted to the scene,
'like a raven to the slaughter,' said Lanty.
This man likewise secured some of the poor lady's store of rich
dresses, but a good many more were appropriated to make sashes for the
men, and the smaller articles, including stockings, were wound turban
fashion round the children's heads.
Lanty could not help observing, 'And if the saints are merciful to us,
and get us out of this, we shall have stories to tell that will last
our lives!' as he watched the solemn old chief smelling to the
perfumes, swallowing the rouge as splendid medicine, and finally
fingering a snuff-box, while half a dozen more crowded round to assist
in the opening, and in another moment sneezing, weeping, tingling,
dancing frantically about, vituperating the Christian's magic.
This gave Lanty an idea. A little round box lay near, which, as he
remembered, contained a Jack-in-the-box, or Polichinelle, which the
poor little Chevalier had bought at the fair at Tarascon. This he
contrived to secrete and hand to Victorine. 'Keep the secret,' he
said, 'and you will find your best guardian in that bit of a box.' And
when that very evening an Arab showed some intentions of adding her to
his harem, Victorine bethought herself of the box, and unhooked in
desperation. Up sprang Punch, long-nosed and fur-capped, right in the
Back the man almost fell; 'Shaitan, Shaitan!' was the cry, as the
inhabitants tumbled pell-mell out of the hovel, and Victorine and Punch
remained masters of the situation.
She heard Lanty haranguing in broken Arabic and lingua Franca, and
presently he came in, shaking with suppressed laughter. 'If ever we
get home,' said he, 'we'll make a pilgrimage to Tarascon! Blessings on
good St. Martha that put that sweet little imp in my way! The rogues
think he is the very genie that the fisherman let out of the bottle in
Mademoiselle's book of the Thousand and One Nights, and thought to see
him towering over the whole place. And a fine figure he would be with
his hook nose and long beard. They sent me to beg you fairly to put up
your little Shaitan again. I told them that Shaitan, as they call him,
is always in it when there's meddling between an espoused pair--which
is as true as though the Holy Father at Rome had said it--and as long
as they were civil, Shaitan would rest; but if they durst molest you,
there was no saying where he would be, if once you had to let him out!
To think of the virtue of that ugly face and bit of a coil of wire!'
Meantime Hebert, having ascertained that both the Jew and Hassan were
going away, the one to Constantina, the other to Algiers, wrote, and so
did Estelle, to the Consul at Algiers, explaining their position and
entreating to be ransomed. Though only nine years old, Estelle could
write a very fair letter, and the amazement of the Arabs was unbounded
that any female creature should wield a pen. Marabouts and merchants
were known to read the Koran, but if one of the goats had begun to
write, their wonder could hardly have been greater; and such crowds
came to witness the extraordinary operation that she could scarcely
breathe or see.
It seemed to establish her in their estimation as a sort of
supernatural being, for she was always treated with more consideration
than the rest of the captives, never deprived of the clothes she wore,
and allowed to appropriate a few of the toilette necessaries that were
quite incomprehensible to those around her.
She learnt the names for bread, chestnuts, dates, milk, and water, and
these were never denied to her; and her little ingenuities in nursery
games won the goodwill of the women and children around her, though
others used to come and make ugly faces at her, and cry out at her as
an unclean thing. The Abbe was allowed to wander about at will, and
keep his Hours, with Estelle to make the responses, and sometimes
Hebert. He was the only one that might visit the other two captives;
Lanty was kept hard at work over the crop of chestnuts that the clan
had come down from their mountains to gather in; and poor Victorine,
who was consumed by a low fever, and almost too weak to move, lay all
day in the dreary and dirty hut, expecting, but dreading death.
Some days later there was great excitement, shouting, and rage. It
proved that the Bey of Constantina had sent to demand the party,
threatening to send an armed force to compel their surrender; but,
alas! the hope of a return to comparative civilisation was instantly
quashed, for the sheyk showed himself furious. He and Eyoub stood
brandishing their scimitars, and with eyes flashing like a panther's in
the dark, declaring that they were free, no subjects of the Dey nor the
Bey either; and that they would shed the blood of every one of the
captives rather than yield them to the dogs and sons of dogs at
This embassy only increased the jealousy with which the prisoners were
guarded. None of them were allowed to stir without a man with a
halbert, and they had the greatest difficulty in entrusting a third
letter to the Moor in command of the party. Indeed, it was only
managed by Estelle's coaxing of the little Abou Daoud, who was growing
devoted to her, and would do anything for the reward of hearing her
sing life Malbrook s'en va-t'-n guerre.
It might have been in consequence of this threat of the Bey, much as
they affected to despise it, that the Cabeleyzes prepared to return to
the heights of Mount Araz, whence they had only descended during the
autumn to find fresh pasture for their cattle, and to collect dates and
chestnuts from the forest.
'Alas!' said Hubert, 'this is worse than ever. As long as we were near
the sea, I had hope, but now all trace of us will be lost, even if the
Consul should send after us.'
'Never fear, Maitre Hubert,' said Estelle; 'you know Telemaque was a
prisoner and tamed the wild peasants in Egypt.'
'Ah! the poor demoiselle, she always seems as if she were acting a
This was happily true. Estelle seemed to be in a curious manner borne
through the dangers and discomforts of her surroundings by a strange
dreamy sense of living up to her part, sometimes as a possible martyr,
sometimes as a figure in the mythological or Arcadian romance that had
filtered into her nursery.
CHAPTER VI--A MOORISH VILLAGE
'Our laws and our worship on thee thou shalt take,
And this shalt thou first do for Zulema's sake.'
When Arthur Hope dashed back from the party on the prow of the wrecked
tartane in search of little Ulysse, he succeeded in grasping the child,
but at the same moment a huge breaker washed him off the slipperily-
sloping deck, and after a scarce conscious struggle he found himself,
still retaining his clutch of the boy, in the trough between it and
another. He was happily an expert swimmer, and holding the little
fellow's clothes in his teeth, he was able to avoid the dash, and to
rise on another wave. Then he perceived that he was no longer near the
vessel, but had been carried out to some little distance, and his
efforts only succeeded in keeping afloat, not in approaching the shore.
Happily a plank drifted so near him that he was able to seize it and
throw himself across it, thus obtaining some support, and being able to
raise the child farther above the water.
At the same time he became convinced that a strong current, probably
from a river or stream, was carrying him out to sea, away from the bay.
He saw the black heads of two or three of the Moorish crew likewise
floating on spars, and yielding themselves to the stream, and this made
him better satisfied to follow their example. It was a sort of rest,
and gave him time to recover from the first exhaustion to convince
himself that the little boy was not dead, and to lash him to the plank
with a handkerchief.
By and by--he knew not how soon--calls and shouts passed between the
Moors; only two seemed to survive, and they no longer obeyed the
direction of the current, but turned resolutely towards the land, where
Arthur dimly saw a green valley opening towards the sea. This was a
much severer effort, but by this time immediate self-preservation had
become the only thought, and happily both wind and the very slight tide
were favourable, so that, just as the sun sank beneath the western
waves, Arthur felt foothold on a sloping beach of white sand, even as
his powers became exhausted. He struggled up out of reach of the sea,
and then sank down, exhausted and unconscious.
His first impression was of cries and shrieks round him, as he gasped
and panted, then saw as in a dream forms flitting round him, and then--
feeling for the child and missing him--he raised himself in
consternation, and the movement was greeted by fresh unintelligible
exclamations, while a not unkindly hand lifted him up. It belonged to
a man in a sort of loose white garment and drawers, with a thin dark-
bearded face; and Arthur, recollecting that the Spanish word nino
passed current for child in lingua Franca, uttered it with an accent of
despairing anxiety. He was answered with a volley of words that he
only understood to be in a consoling tone, and the speaker pointed
inland. Various persons, among whom Arthur saw his recent shipmates,
seemed to be going in that direction, and he obeyed his guide, though
scarcely able to move from exhaustion and cold, the garments he had
retained clinging about him. Some one, however, ran down towards him
with a vessel containing a draught of sour milk. This revived him
enough to see clearly and follow his guides. After walking a distance,
which appeared to him most laborious, he found himself entering a sort
of village, and was ushered through a courtyard into a kind of room.
In the centre a fire was burning; several figures were busy round it,
and in another moment he perceived that they were rubbing, chafing, and
otherwise restoring his little companion.
Indeed Ulysse had just recovered enough to be terribly frightened, and
as his friend's voice answered his screams, he sprang from the kind
brown hands, and, darting on Arthur, clung to him with face hidden on
his shoulder. The women who had been attending to him fell back as the
white stranger entered, and almost instantly dry clothes were brought,
and while Arthur was warming himself and putting them on, a little
table about a foot high was set, the contents of a cauldron of a kind
of soup which had been suspended over the fire were poured into a large
round green crock, and in which all were expected to dip their spoons
and fingers. Little Ulysse was exceedingly amazed, and observed that
ces gens were not bien eleves to eat out of the dish; but he was too
hungry to make any objection to being fed with the wooden spoon that
had been handed to Arthur; and when the warm soup, and the meat
floating in it, had refreshed them, signs were made to them to lie down
on a mat within an open door, and both were worn out enough to sleep
It was daylight when Arthur was awakened by poor little Ulysse sitting
up and crying out for his bonne, his mother, and sister, 'Oh! take me
to them,' he cried; 'I do not like this dark place.'
For dark the room was, being windowless, though the golden sunlight
could be seen beyond the open doorway, which was under a sort of
cloister or verandah overhung by some climbing plant. Arthur,
collecting himself, reminded the child how the waves had borne them
away from the rest, with earnest soothing promises of care, and
endeavouring to get back to the rest. 'Say your prayers that God will
take care of you and bring you back to your sister,' Arthur added, for
he did not think it possible that the child's mother should have been
saved from the waves; and his heart throbbed at thoughts of his promise
to the poor lady.
'But I want my bonne,' sighed Ulysse; 'I want my clothes. This is an
ugly robe de nuit, and there is no bed.'
'Perhaps we can find your clothes,' said Arthur. 'They were too wet to
be kept on last night.'
So they emerged into the court, which had a kind of farmyard
appearance; women with rows of coins hanging over their brows were
milking cows and goats, and there was a continuous confusion of sound
of their voices, and the lowing and bleating of cattle. At the
appearance of Arthur and the boy, there was a general shout, and people
seemed to throng in to gaze at them, the men handsome, stately, and
bearded, with white full drawers, and a bournouse laid so as first to
form a flat hood over the head, and then belted in at the waist, with a
more or less handsome sash, into which were stuck a spoon and knife,
and in some cases one or two pistols. They did not seem ill-disposed,
though their language was perfectly incomprehensible. Ulysse's clothes
were lying dried by the hearth and no objection was made to his
resuming them. Arthur made gestures of washing or bathing, and was
conducted outside the court, to a little stream of pure water
descending rapidly to the sea. It was so cold that Ulysse screamed at
the touch, as Arthur, with more spectators than he could have desired,
did his best to perform their toilettes. He had divested himself of
most of his own garments for the convenience of swimming, but his
pockets were left and a comb in them; and though poor Mademoiselle
Julienne would have been shocked at the result of his efforts, and the
little silken laced suit was sadly tarnished with sea water, Ulysse
became such an astonishing sight that the children danced round him,
the women screamed with wonder, and the men said 'Mashallah!' The
young Scotsman's height was perhaps equally amazing, for he saw them
pointing up to his head as if measuring his stature.
He saw that he was in a village of low houses, with walls of unhewn
stone, enclosing yards, and set in the midst of fruit-trees and
gardens. Though so far on in the autumn there was a rich luxuriant
appearance; roots and fruits, corn and flax, were laid out to dry, and
girls and boys were driving the cattle out to pasture. He could not
doubt that he had landed among a settled and not utterly uncivilised
people, but he was too spent and weary to exert himself, or even to
care for much beyond present safety; and had no sooner returned to his
former quarters, and shared with Ulysse a bowl of curds, than they both
feel asleep again in the shade of the gourd plant trained on a
trellised roof over the wall.
When he next awoke, Ulysse was very happily at play with some little
brown children, as if the sports of childhood defied the curse of
Babel, and a sailor from the tartane was being greeted by the master of
the house. Arthur hoped that some communication would now be possible,
but, unfortunately, the man knew very little of the lingua Franca of
the Mediterranean, and Arthur knew still less. However, he made out
that he was the only one of the shipwrecked crew who had managed to
reach the land, and that this was a village of Moors--settled
agricultural Moors, not Arabs, good Moslems--who would do him no harm.
This, and he pointed to a fine-looking elderly man, was the sheyk of
the village, Abou Ben Zegri, and if the young Giaours would conform to
the true faith all would be salem with them. Arthur shook his head,
and tried by word and sign to indicate his anxiety for the rest of his
companions. The sailor threw up his hands, and pointed towards the
sea, to show that he believed them to be all lost; but Arthur insisted
that five--marking them off on his fingers--were on gebal, a rock, and
emphatically indicated his desire of reaching them. The Moor returned
the word 'Cabeleyzes,' with gestures signifying throat-cutting and
slavery, also that these present hosts regarded them as banditti. How
far off they were it was not possible to make out, for of course
Arthur's own sensations were no guide; but he knew that the wreck had
taken place early in the afternoon, and that he had come on shore in
the dusk, which was then at about five o'clock. There was certainly a
promontory, made by the ridge of a hill, and also a river between him
and any survivors there might be.
This was all that he could gather, and he was not sure of even thus
much, but he was still too much wearied and battered for any exertion
of thought or even anxiety. Three days' tempest in a cockle-shell of a
ship, and then three hours' tossing on a plank, had left him little but
the desire of repose, and the Moors were merciful and let him alone.
It was a beautiful place--that he already knew. A Scot, and used to
the sea-coast, his eye felt at home as it ranged to the grand heights
in the dim distance, with winter caps of snow, and shaded in the most
gorgeous tints of colouring forests beneath, slopes covered with the
exquisite green of young wheat. Autumn though it was, the orange-
trees, laden with fruit, the cork-trees, ilexes, and fan-palms, gave
plenty of greenery, shading the gardens with prickly pear hedges; and
though many of the fruit-trees had lost their leaves, fig, peach, and
olive, and mulberry, caper plants, vines with foliage of every tint of
red and purple, which were trained over the trellised courts of the
houses, made everything have a look of rural plenty and peace, most
unlike all that Arthur had ever heard or imagined of the Moors, who, as
he owned to himself, were certainly not all savage pirates and slave-
drivers. The whole within was surrounded by a stone wall, with a deep
horse-shoe-arched gateway, the fields and pastures lying beyond with
some more slightly-walled enclosures meant for the protection of the
flocks and herds at night.
He saw various arts going on. One man was working in iron over a
little charcoal fire, with a boy to blow up his bellows, and several
more were busied over some pottery, while the women alternated their
grinding between two mill stones, and other domestic cares, with
spinning, weaving, and beautiful embroidery. To Arthur, who looked on,
with no one to speak to except little Ulysse, it was strangely like
seeing the life of the Israelites in the Old Testament when they dwelt
under their own vines and fig-trees--like reading a chapter in the
Bible, as he said to himself, as again and again he saw some allusion
to Eastern customs illustrated. He was still more struck--when, after
the various herds of kine, sheep, and goats, with one camel, several
asses, and a few slender-limbed Barbary horses had been driven in for
the night--by the sight of the population, as the sun sank behind the
mountains, all suspending whatever they were about, spreading their
prayer carpets, turning eastwards, performing their ablutions, and
uttering their brief prayer with one voice so devoutly that he was
almost struck with awe.
'Are they saying their prayers?' whispered Ulysse, startled by the
instant change in his play-fellows, and as Arthur acquiesced, 'Then
they are good.'
'If it were the true faith,' said Arthur, thinking of the wide
difference between this little fellow and Estelle; but though not two
years younger, Ulysse was far more childish than his sister, and when
she was no longer present to lead him with her enthusiasm, sank at once
to his own level. He opened wide his eyes at Arthur's reply, and said,
'I do not see their idols.'
'They have none,' said Arthur, who could not help thinking that Ulysse
might look nearer home for idols--but chiefly concerned at the moment
to keep the child quiet, lest he should bring danger on them by
They were sitting in the embowered porch of the sheyk's court when, a
few seconds after the villagers had risen up from their prayer, they
saw a figure enter at the village gateway, and the sheyk rise and go
forward. There were low bending in salutation, hands placed on the
breast, then kisses exchanged, after which the Sheyk Abou Ben Zegri
went out with the stranger, and great excitement and pleasure seemed to
prevail among the villagers, especially the women. Arthur heard the
word 'Yusuf' often repeated, and by the time darkness had fallen on the
village, the sheyk ushered the guest into his court, bringing with him
a donkey with some especially precious load--which was removed; after
which the supper was served as before in the large low apartment, with
a handsomely tiled floor, and an opening in the roof for the issue of
the smoke from the fire, which became agreeable in the evening at this
season. Before supper, however, the stranger's feet and hands were
washed by a black slave in Eastern fashion; and then all, as before,
sat on mats or cushions round the central bowl, each being furnished
with a spoon and thin flat soft piece of bread to dip into the mess of
stewed kid, flakes of which might be extracted with the fingers.
The women, who had fastened a piece of linen across their faces, ran
about and waited on the guests, who included three or four of the
principal men of the village, as well as the stranger, who, as Arthur
observed, was not of the uniform brown of the rest, but had some colour
in his cheeks, light eyes, and a ruddy beard, and also was of a larger
frame than these Moors, who, though graceful, lithe, and exceedingly
stately and dignified, hardly reached above young Hope's own shoulder.
Conversation was going on all the time, and Arthur soon perceived that
he was the subject of it. As soon as the meal was over, the new-comer
addressed him, to his great joy, in French. It was the worst French
imaginable--perhaps more correctly lingua Franca, with a French instead
of an Arabic foundation, but it was more comprehensible than that of
the Moorish sailor, and bore some relation to a civilised language;
besides which there was something indescribably familiar in the tone of
voice, although Arthur's good French often missed of being
'Son of a great man? Ambassador, French!' The greatness seemed
impressed, but whether ambassador was understood was another thing,
though it was accepted as relating to the boy.
'Secretary to the Ambassador' seemed to be an equal problem. The man
shook his head, but he took in better the story of the wreck, though,
like the sailor, he shook his head over the chance of there being any
survivors, and utterly negatived the idea of joining them. The great
point that Arthur tried to convey was that there would be a very
considerable ransom if the child could be conveyed to Algiers, and he
endeavoured to persuade the stranger, who was evidently a sort of
travelling merchant, and, as he began to suspect, a renegade, to convey
them thither; but he only got shakes of the head as answers, and
something to the effect that they were a good deal out of the Dey's
reach in those parts, together with what he feared was an intimation
that they were altogether in the power of Sheyk Abou Ben Zegri.
They were interrupted by a servant of the merchant, who came to bring
him some message as well as a pipe and tobacco. The pipe was carried
by a negro boy, at sight of whom Ulysse gave a cry of ecstasy, 'Juba!
Juba! Grandmother's Juba! Why do not you speak to me?' as the little
black, no bigger than Ulysse himself, grinned with all his white teeth,
'Ah! my poor laddie,' exclaimed Arthur in his native tongue, which he
often used with the boy, 'it is only another negro. You are far enough
The words had an astonishing effect on the merchant. He turned round
with the exclamation, 'Ye'll be frae Scotland!'
'And so are you!' cried Arthur, holding out his hand.
'Tak tent, tak tent,' said the merchant hastily, yet with a certain
hesitation, as though speaking a long unfamiliar tongue. 'The loons
might jalouse our being overfriendly thegither.'
Then he returned to the sheyk, to whom he seemed to be making
explanations, and presenting some of his tobacco, which probably was of
a superior quality in preparation to what was grown in the village.
They solemnly smoked together and conversed, while Arthur watched them
anxiously, relieved that he had found an interpreter, but very doubtful
whether a renegade could be a friend, even though he were indeed a
It was not till several pipes had been consumed, and the village
worthies had, with considerable ceremony, taken leave, that the
merchant again spoke to Arthur. 'I'll see ye the morn; I hae tell'd
the sheyk we are frae the same parts. Maybe I can serve you, if ye ken
what's for your guid, but I canna say mair the noo.'
The sheyk escorted him out of the court, for he slept in one of the two
striped horse-hair tents, which had been spread within the enclosures
belonging to the village, around which were tethered the mules and
asses that carried his wares. Arthur meanwhile arranged his little
charge for the night.
He felt that among these enemies to their faith he must do what was in
his power to keep up that of the child, and not allow his prayers to be
neglected; but not being able to repeat the Latin forms, and thinking
them unprofitable to the boy himself, he prompted the saying of the
Creed and Lord's Prayer in English, and caused them to be repeated
after him, though very sleepily and imperfectly.
All the men of the establishment seemed to take their night's rest on a
mat, wrapped in a bournouse, wherever they chanced to find themselves,
provided it was under shelter; the women in some penetralia beyond a
doorway, though they were not otherwise secluded, and only partially
veiled their faces at sight of a stranger. Arthur had by this time
made out that the sheyk, who was a very handsome man over middle-age,
seemed to have two wives; one probably of his own age, and though
withered up into a brown old mummy, evidently the ruler at home,
wearing the most ornaments, and issuing her orders in a shrill, cracked
tone. There was a much younger and handsome one, the mother apparently
of two or three little girls from ten or twelve years old to five, and
there was a mere girl, with beautiful melancholy gazelle-like eyes, and
a baby in her arms. She wore no ornaments, but did not seem to be
classed with the slaves who ran about at the commands of the elder
However, his own position was a matter of much more anxious care,
although he had more hope of discovering what it really was.
He had, however, to be patient. The sunrise orisons were no sooner
paid than there was a continual resort to the tent of the merchant, who
was found sitting there calmly smoking his long pipe, and ready to
offer the like, also a cup of coffee, to all who came to traffic with
him. He seemed to have a miscellaneous stock of coffee, tobacco,
pipes, preparations of sugar, ornaments in gold and silver, jewellery,
charms, pistols, and a host of other articles in stock, and to be ready
to purchase or barter these for the wax, embroidered handkerchiefs,
yarn, and other productions and manufactures of the place. Not a
single purchase could be made on either side without a tremendous
haggling, shouting, and gesticulating, as if the parties were on the
verge of coming to blows; whereas all was in good fellowship, and a
pleasing excitement and diversion where time was of no value to
anybody. Arthur began to despair of ever gaining attention. He was
allowed to wander about as he pleased within the village gates, and
Ulysse was apparently quite happy with the little children, who were
beautiful and active, although kept dirty and ragged as a protection
from the evil eye.
Somehow the engrossing occupation of every one, especially of the only
two creatures with whom he could converse, made Arthur more desolate
than ever. He lay down under an ilex, and his heart ached with a sick
longing he had not experienced since he had been with the Nithsdales,
for his mother and his home--the tall narrow-gabled house that had
sprung up close to the grim old peel tower, the smell of the sea, the
tinkling of the burn. He fell asleep in the heat of the day, and it
was to him as if he were once more sitting by the old shepherd on the
braeside, hearing him tell the old tales of Johnnie Armstrong or Willie
o' the wudspurs.
Actually a Scottish voice was in his ears, as he looked up and saw the
turbaned head of Yusuf the merchant bending over him, and saying--'Wake
up, my bonny laddie; we can hae our crack in peace while these folks
are taking their noonday sleep. Awed, and where are ye frae, and how
do you ca' yersel'?'
'I am from Berwickshire,' responded the youth, and as the man started--
'My name is Arthur Maxwell Hope of Burnside.'
'Eh! No a son of auld Sir Davie?'
'His youngest son.'
The man clasped his hands, and uttered a strange sound as if in the
extremity of amazement, and there was a curious unconscious change of
tone, as he said--'Sir Davie's son! Ye'll never have heard tell of
Partan Jeannie?' he added.
'A very old fishwife,' said Arthur, 'who used to come her rounds to our
door? Was she of kin to you?'
'My mither, sir. Mony's the time I hae peepit out on the cuddie's back
between the creels at the door of the braw house of Burnside, and
mony's the bannock and cookie the gude lady gied me. My minnie'll no
be living thae noo,' he added, not very tenderly.
'I should fear not,' said Arthur. 'I had not seen or heard of her for
some time before I left home, and that is now three years since. She
looked very old then, and I remember my mother saying she was not fit
to come her rounds.'
'She wasna that auld,' returned the merchant gravely; 'but she had led
sic a life as falls to the lot of nae wife in this country.'
Arthur had almost said, 'Whose fault was that?' but he durst not offend
a possible protector, and softened his words into, 'It is strange to
find you here, and a Mohammedan too.'
'Hoots, Maister Arthur, let that flea stick by the wa'. We maun do at
Rome as Rome does, as ye'll soon find'--and disregarding Arthur's
exclamation--'and the bit bairn, I thocht ye said he was no Scot, when
I was daundering awa' at the French yestreen.'
'No, he is half-Irish, half-French, eldest son of Count Burke, a good
Jacobite, who got into trouble with the Prince of Orange, and is high
in the French service.'
'And what gars your father's son to be secretaire, as ye ca'd it, to
Frenchman or Irishman either?'
'Well, it was my own fault. I was foolish enough to run away from
school to join the rising for our own King's--'
'Eh, sirs! And has there been a rising on the Border side against the
English pock puddings? Oh, gin I had kenned it!'
Yusuf's knowledge of English politics had been dim at the best, and he
had apparently left Scotland before even Queen Anne was on the throne.
When he understood Arthur's story, he communicated his own. He had
been engaged in a serious brawl with some English fishers, and in fear
of the consequences had fled from Eyemouth, and after casting about as
a common sailor in various merchant ships, had been captured by a
Moorish vessel, and had found it expedient to purchase his freedom by
conversion to Islam, after which his Scottish shrewdness and thrift had
resulted in his becoming a prosperous itinerant merchant, with his
headquarters at Bona. He expressed himself willing and anxious to do
all he could for his young countryman; but it would be almost
impossible to do so unless Arthur would accept the religion of his
captors; and he explained that the two boys were the absolute property
of the tribe, who had discovered and rescued them when going to the
seashore to gather kelp for the glass work practised by the Moors in
their little furnaces.
'Forsake my religion? Never!' cried Arthur indignantly.
'Saftly, saftly,' said Yusuf; 'nae doot ye trow as I did that they are
a' mere pagans and savage heathens, worshipping Baal and Ashtaroth, but
I fand myself quite mista'en. They hae no idols, and girn at the
blinded Papists as muckle as auld Deacon Shortcoats himsel'.'
'I know that,' threw in Arthur.
'Ay, and they are a hantle mair pious and devout than ever a body I hae
seen in Eyemouth, or a' the country side to boot; forbye, my minnie's
auld auntie, that sat graning by the ingle, and ay banned us when we
came ben. The meneester himsel' dinna gae about blessing and praying
over ilka sma' matter like the meenest of us here, and for a' the din
they make at hame about the honorable Sabbath, wha thinks of praying
five times the day? While as for being the waur for liquor, these
folks kenna the very taste of it. Put yon sheyk down on the wharf at
Eyemouth, and what wad he say to the Christian folk there?'
A shock of conviction passed over Arthur, though he tried to lose it in
indignant defence; but Yusuf did not venture to stay any longer with
him, and bidding him think over what had been said, since slavery or
Islam were the only alternatives, returned to the tents of merchandise.
First thoughts with the youth had of course been of horror at the bare
idea of apostacy, and yet as he watched his Moorish hosts, he could not
but own to himself that he never had dreamt that to be among them would
be so like dwelling under the oak of Mamre, in the tents of Abraham.
From what he remembered of Partan Jeannie's reputation as a being only
tolerated and assisted by his mother, on account of her extreme misery
and destitution, he could believe that the ne'er-do-weel son, who must
have forsaken her before he himself was born, might have really been
raised in morality by association with the grave, faithful, and
temperate followers of Mohammed, rather than the scum of the port of
For himself and the boy, what did slavery mean? He hoped to understand
better from Yusuf, and at any rate to persuade the man to become the
medium of communication with the outside world, beyond that
'dissociable ocean,' over which his wistful gaze wandered. Then the
ransom of the little Chevalier de Bourke would be certain, and, if
there were any gratitude in the world, his own. But how long would
this take, and what might befall them in the meantime?
Ulysse all this time seemed perfectly happy with the small Moors, who
all romped together without distinction of rank, of master, slave or
colour, for Yusuf's little negro was freely received among them. At
night, however, Ulysse's old home self seemed to revive; he crept back
to Arthur, tired and weary, fretting for mother, sister, and home; and
even after he had fallen asleep, waking again to cry for Julienne.
Poor Arthur, he was a rough nurse, but pity kept him patient, and he
was even glad to see that the child had not forgotten his home.
Meantime, ever since the sunset prayer, there had been smoking of pipes
and drinking of coffee, and earnest discussion between the sheyk and
the merchant, and by and by Yusuf came and sat himself down by Arthur,
smiling a little at the young man's difficulty in disposing of those
long legs upon the ground.
'Ye'll have to learn this and other things, sir,' said he, as he
crossed his own under him, Eastern fashion; but his demeanour was on
the whole that of the fisher to the laird's son, and he evidently
thought that he had a grand proposal to make, for which Master Arthur
ought to be infinitely obliged.
He explained to Arthur that Sheyk Abou Ben Zegri had never had more
than two sons, and that both had been killed the year before in trying
to recover their cattle from the Cabeleyzes, 'a sort of Hieland
The girl whom Arthur had noticed was the widow of the elder of the two,
and the child was only a daughter. The sheyk had been much impressed
by Arthur's exploit in swimming or floating round the headland and
saving the child, and regarded his height as something gigantic.
Moreover, Yusuf had asserted that he was son to a great Bey in his own
country, and in consequence Abou Ben Zegri was willing to adopt him as
his son, provided he would embrace the true faith, and marry Ayesha,
'And,' said Yusuf, 'these women are no that ill for wives, as I ken
owre weel'--and he sighed. 'I had as gude and douce a wee wifie at
Bona as heart culd wish, and twa bonny bairnies; but when I cam' back
frae my rounds, the plague had been there before me. They were a'
gone, even Ali, that had just began to ca' me Ab, Ab, and I hae never
had heart to gang back to the town house. She was a gude wife--nae
flying, nae rampauging. She wad hae died wi' shame to be likened to
thae randy wives at hame. Ye might do waur than tak' such a fair
offer, Maister Arthur.'
'You mean it all kindly,' said Arthur, touched; 'but for nothing--no,
for nothing, can a Christian deny his Lord, or yield up his hopes for
'As for that,' returned Yusuf, 'the meneester and Beacon Shortcoats,
and my auld auntie, and the lave of them, aye ca'ed me a vessel of
destruction. That was the best name they had for puir Tam. So what
odds culd it mak, if I took up with the Prophet, and I was ower lang
leggit to row in a galley? Forbye, here they say that a man who prays
and gies awmous, and keeps frae wine, is sicker to win to Paradise and
a' the houris. I had rather it war my puir Zorah than any strange
houri of them a'; but any way, I hae been a better man sin' I took up
wi' them than ever I was as a cursing, swearing, drunken, fechting
sailor lad wha feared neither God nor devil.'
'That was scarce the fault of the Christian faith,' said Arthur.
'Aweel, the first answer in the Shorter Carritch was a' they ever
garred me learn, and that is what we here say of Allah. I see no
muckle to choose, and I KEN ane thing,--it is a hell on earth at ance
gin ye gang not alang wi' them. And that's sicker, as ye'll find to
your cost, sir, gin ye be na the better guided.'
'With hope, infinite hope beyond,' said Arthur, trying to fortify
himself. 'No, I cannot, cannot deny my Lord--my Lord that bought me!'
'We own Issa Ben Mariam for a Prophet,' said Yusuf.
'But He is my only Master, my Redeemer, and God. No, come what may, I
can never renounce Him,' said Arthur with vehemence.
'Wed, awed,' said Yusuf, 'maybe ye'll see in time what's for your gude.
I'll tell the sheyk it would misbecome your father's son to do sic a
deed owre lichtly, and strive to gar him wait while I am in these parts
to get your word, and nae doot it will be wiselike at the last.'
CHAPTER VII--MASTER AND SLAVE
'I only heard the reckless waters roar,
Those waves that would not hear me from the shore;
I only marked the glorious sun and sky
Too bright, too blue for my captivity,
And felt that all which Freedom's bosom cheers,
Must break my chain before it dried my tears.'
BYRON (The corsair).
At the rate at which the traffic in Yusuf's tent proceeded, Arthur Hope
was likely to have some little time for deliberation on the question
presented to him whether to be a free Moslem sheyk or a Christian
Not only had almost every household in El Arnieh to chaffer with the
merchant for his wares and to dispose of home-made commodities, but
from other adowaras and from hill-farms Moors and Cabyles came in with
their produce of wax, wool or silk, to barter--if not with Yusuf, with
the inhabitants of El Arnieh, who could weave and embroider, forge
cutlery, and make glass from the raw material these supplied. Other
Cabyles, divers from the coast, came up, with coral and sponges, the
latter of which was the article in which Yusuf preferred to deal,
though nothing came amiss to him that he could carry, or that could
carry itself--such as a young foal; even the little black boy had been
taken on speculation--and so indeed had the big Abyssinian, who, though
dumb, was the most useful, ready, and alert of his five slaves. Every
bargain seemed to occupy at least an hour, and perhaps Yusuf lingered
the longer in order to give Arthur more time for consideration; or it
might be that his native tongue, once heard, exercised an irresistible
fascination over him. He never failed to have what he called a 'crack'
with his young countryman at the hour of the siesta, or at night,
perhaps persuading the sheyk that it was controversial, though it was
more apt to be on circumstances of the day's trade or the news of the
Border-side. Controversy indeed there could be little with one so
ignorant as kirk treatment in that century was apt to leave the
outcasts of society, nor had conversion to Islam given him much
instruction in its tenets; so that the conversation generally was on
earthly topics, though it always ended in assurances that Master Arthur
would suffer for it if he did not perceive what was for his good. To
which Arthur replied to the effect that he must suffer rather than deny
his faith; and Yusuf, declaring that a wilful man maun have his way,
and that he would rue it too late, went off affronted, but always
returned to the charge at the next opportunity.
Meantime Arthur was free to wander about unmolested and pick up the
language, in which, however, Ulysse made far more rapid progress, and
could be heard chattering away as fast, if not as correctly, as if it
were French or English. The delicious climate and the open-air life
were filling the little fellow with a strength and vigour unknown to
him in a Parisian salon, and he was in the highest spirits among his
brown playfellows, ceasing to pine for his mother and sister; and
though he still came to Arthur for the night, or in any trouble, it was
more and more difficult to get him to submit to be washed and dressed
in his tight European clothes, or to say his prayers. He was always
sleepy at night and volatile in the morning, and could not be got to
listen to the little instructions with which Arthur tried to arm him
against Mohammedanism into which the poor little fellow was likely to
drift as ignorantly and unconsciously as Yusuf himself.
And what was the alternative? Arthur himself never wavered, nor indeed
actually felt that he had a choice; but the prospect before him was
gloomy, and Yusuf did not soften it. The sheyk would sell him, and he
would either be made to work in some mountain-farm, or put on board a
galley; and Yusuf had sufficient experience of the horrors of the
latter to assure him emphatically that the gude leddy of Burnside would
break her heart to think of her bonny laddie there.
'It would more surely break her heart to think of her son giving up his
faith,' returned Arthur.
As to the child, the opinion of the tribe seemed to be that he was just
fit to be sent to the Sultan to be bred as a Janissary. 'He will come
that gate to be as great a man as in his ain countree,' said Yusuf;
'wi' horse to ride, and sword to bear, and braws to wear, like King
Solomon in all his glory.'
'While his father and mother would far rather he were lying dead with
her under the waves in that cruel bay,' returned Arthur.
'Hout, mon, ye dinna ken what's for his gude, nor for your ain
neither,' retorted Yusuf.
'Good here is not good hereafter.'
'The life of a dog and waur here,' muttered Yusuf; 'ye'll mind me when
it is too late.'
'Nay, Yusuf, if you will only take word of our condition to Algiers, we
shall--at least the boy--be assuredly redeemed, and you would win a
'I am no free to gang to Algiers,' said Yusuf. 'I fell out with a loon
there, one of those Janissaries that gang hectoring aboot as though the
world were not gude enough for them, and if I hadna made the best of my
way out of the toon, my pow wad be a worricow on the wa's of the
'There are French at Bona, you say. Remember, I ask you to put
yourself in no danger, only to bear the tidings to any European,'
'And how are they to find ye?' demanded Yusuf. 'Abou Ben Zegri will
never keep you here after having evened his gude-daughter to ye. He'll
sell you to some corsair captain, and then the best that could betide
ye wad be that a shot frae the Knights of Malta should make quick work
wi' ye. Or look at the dumbie there, Fareek. A Christian, he ca's
himsel', too, though 'tis of a by ordinar' fashion, such as Deacon
Shortcoats would scarce own. I coft him dog cheap at Tunis, when his
master, the Vizier, had had his tongue cut out--for but knowing o' some
deed that suld ne'er have been done--and his puir feet bastinadoed to a
jelly. Gin a' the siller in the Dey's treasury ransomed ye, what gude
would it do ye after that?'
'I cannot help that--I cannot forsake my God. I must trust Him not to
And, as usual, Yusuf went off angrily muttering, 'He that will to Cupar
maun to Cupar.'
Perhaps Arthur's resistance had begun more for the sake of honour, and
instinctive clinging to hereditary faith, without the sense of heroism
or enthusiasm for martyrdom which sustained Estelle, and rather with
the feeling that inconstancy to his faith and his Lord would be base
and disloyal. But, as the long days rolled on, if the future of toil
and dreary misery developed itself before him, the sense of personal
love and aid towards the Lord and Master whom he served grew upon him.
Neither the gazelle-eyed Ayesha nor the prosperous village life
presented any great temptation. He would have given them all for one
bleak day of mist on a Border moss; it was the appalling contrast with
the hold of a Moorish galley that at times startled him, together with
the only too great probability that he should be utterly incapable of
saving poor little Ulysse from unconscious apostacy.
Once Yusuf observed, that if he would only make outward submission to
Moslem law, he might retain his own belief and trust in the Lord he
seemed so much to love, and of whom he said more good than any Moslem
did of the Prophet.
'If I deny Him, He will deny me,' said Arthur.
'And will na He forgive ane as is hard pressed?' asked Yusuf.
'It is a very different thing to go against the light, as I should be
doing,' said Arthur, 'and what it might be for that poor bairn, whom
'And wow! sir. 'Tis far different wi' you that had the best of gude
learning frae the gude leddy,' muttered Yusuf. 'My minnie aye needit
me to sort the fish and gang her errands, and wad scarce hae sent me to
scule, gin I wad hae gane where they girned at me for Partan Jeannie's
wean, and gied me mair o' the tawse than of the hornbook. Gin the
Lord, as ye ca' Him, had ever seemed to me what ye say He is to you,
Maister Arthur, I micht hae thocht twice o'er the matter. But there's
nae ganging back the noo. A Christian's life they harm na, though they
mak' it a mere weariness to him; but for him that quits the Prophet,
tearing the flesh wi' iron cleeks is the best they hae for him.'
This time Yusuf retreated, not as usual in anger, but as if the bare
idea he had broached was too terrible to be dwelt upon. He had by the
end of a fortnight completed all his business at El Arnieh, and Arthur,
having by this time picked up enough of the language to make himself
comprehensible, and to know fully what was set before him, was called
upon to make his decision, so that either he might be admitted by
regular ritual into the Moslem faith, and adopted by the sheyk, or else
be advertised by Yusuf at the next town as a strong young slave.
Sitting in the gate among the village magnates, like an elder of old,
Sheyk Abou Ben Zegri, with considerable grace and dignity, set the
choice before the Son of the Sea in most affectionate terms, asking of
him to become the child of his old age, and to heal the breach left by
the swords of the robbers of the mountains.
The old man's fine dark eyes filled with tears, and there was a pathos
in his noble manner that made Arthur greatly grieved to disappoint him,
and sorry not to have sufficient knowledge of the language to qualify
more graciously the resolute reply he had so often rehearsed to
himself, expressing his hearty thanks, but declaring that nothing could
induce him to forsake the religion of his fathers.
'Wilt thou remain a dog of an unbeliever, and receive the treatment of
'I must,' said Arthur.
'The youth is a goodly youth,' said the sheyk; 'it is ill that his
heart is blind. Once again, young man, Issa Ben Mariam and slavery, or
Mohammed and freedom?'
'I cannot deny my Lord Christ.'
There was a pause. Arthur stood upright, with lips compressed, hands
clasped together, while the sheyk and his companions seemed struck by
his courage and high spirit. Then one of them--a small, ugly fellow,
who had some pretensions to be considered the sheyk's next heir--cried,
'Out on the infidel dog!' and set the example of throwing a handful of
dust at him. The crowd who watched around were not slow to follow the
example, and Arthur thought he was actually being stoned; but the
missiles were for the most part not harmful, only disgusting, blinding,
and confusing. There was a tremendous hubbub of vituperation, and he
was at last actually stunned by a blow, waking to find himself alone,
and with hands and feet bound, in a dirty little shed appropriated to
camels. Should he ever be allowed to see poor little Ulysse again, or
to speak to Yusuf, in whom lay their only faint hope of redemption? He
was helpless, and the boy was at the mercy of the Moors. Was he
It was growing late in the day, and he had had no food for many hours.
Was he to be neglected and starved? At last he heard steps
approaching, and the door was opened by the man who had led the assault
on him, who addressed him as 'Son of an old ass--dog of a slave,' bade
him stand up and show his height, at the same time cutting the cords
that bound him. It was an additional pang that it was to Yusuf that he
was thus to exhibit himself, no doubt in order that the merchant should
carry a description of him to some likely purchaser. He could not
comprehend the words that passed, but it was very bitter to be handled
like a horse at a fair--doubly so that he, a Hope of Burnside, should
thus be treated by Partan Jeannie's son.
There ensued outside the shrieking and roaring which always accompanied
a bargain, and which lasted two full hours. Finally Yusuf looked into
the hut, and roughly said in Arabic, 'Come over to me, dog; thou art
mine. Kiss the shoe of thy master'--adding in his native tongue, 'For
ance, sir. It maun be done before these loons.'
Certainly the ceremony would have been felt as less humiliating towards
almost anybody else, but Arthur endured it; and then was led away to
the tents beyond the gate.
'There, sir,' said Yusuf, 'it ill sorts your father's son to be in sic
a case, but it canna be helpit. I culd na leave behind the bonny Scots
tongue, let alane the gude Leddy Hope's son.'
'You have been very good to me, Yusuf,' said Arthur, his pride much
softened by the merchant's evident sense of the situation. 'I know you
mean me well, but the boy--'
'Hoots! the bairn is happy eno'. He will come to higher preferment
than even you or I. Why, mon, an Aga of the Janissaries is as good as
the Deuk himsel'.'
'Yusuf, I am very grateful--I believe you must have paid heavily to
spare me from ill usage.'
'Ye may say that, sir. Forty piastres of Tunis, and eight mules, and
twa pair of silver-mounted pistols. The extortionate rogue wad hae had
the little dagger, but I stood out against that.'
'I see, I am deeply beholden,' said Arthur; 'but it would be tenfold
better if you would take him instead of me!'
'What for suld I do that? He is nae countryman of mine--one side
French and the other Irish. He is naught to me.'
'He is heir to a noble house,' waged Arthur. 'They will reward you
amply for saving him.'
'Mair like to girn at me for a Moor. Na, na! Hae na I dune enough for
ye, Maister Arthur--giving half my beasties, and more than half my
silver? Canna ye be content without that whining bairn?'
'I should be a forsworn man to be content to leave the child, whose
dead mother prayed me to protect him, and those who will turn him from
her faith. See, now, I am a man, and can guard myself, by the grace of
God; but to leave the poor child here would be letting these men work
their will on him ere any ransom could come. His mother would deem it
giving him up to perdition. Let me remain here, and take the helpless
child. You know how to bargain. His price might be my ransom.'
'Ay, when the jackals and hyenas have picked your banes, or you have
died under the lash, chained to the oar, as I hae seen, Maister
'Better so than betray the dead woman's trust. How no--'
For there was a pattering of feet, a cry of 'Arthur, Arthur!' and
sobbing, screaming, and crying, Ulysse threw himself on his friend's
breast. He was pursued by one or two of the hangers-on of the sheyk's
household, and the first comer seized him by the arm; but he clung to
Arthur, screamed and kicked, and the old nurse who had come hobbling
after coaxed in vain. He cried out in a mixture of Arabic and French
that he WOULD sleep with Arthur--Arthur must put him to bed; no one
should take him away.
'Let him stay,' responded Yusuf; 'his time will come soon enough.'
Indulgence to children was the rule, and there was an easy good-nature
about the race, which made them ready to defer the storm, and acquiesce
in the poor little fellow remaining for another evening with that last
remnant of his home to whom he always reverted at nightfall.
He held trembling by Arthur till all were gone, then looked about in
terror, and required to be assured that no one was coming to take him
'They shall not,' he cried. 'Arthur, you will not leave me alone?
They are all gone--Mamma, and Estelle, and la bonne, and Laurent, and
my uncle, and all, and you will not go.'
'Not now, not to-night, my dear little mannie,' said Arthur, tears in
his eyes for the first time throughout these misfortunes.
'Not now! No, never!' said the boy hugging him almost to choking.
'That naughty Ben Kader said they had sold you for a slave, and you
were going away; but I knew I should find you--you are not a slave!--
you are not black--'
'Ah! Ulysse, it is too true; I am--'
'No! no! no!' the child stamped, and hung on him in a passion of tears.
'You shall not be a slave. My papa shall come with his soldiers and
set you free.'
Altogether the boy's vehemence, agitation, and terror were such that
Arthur found it impossible to do anything but soothe and hush him, as
best might be, till his sobs subsided gradually, still heaving his
little chest even after he fell asleep in the arms of his unaccustomed
nurse, who found himself thus baffled in using this last and only
opportunity of trying to strengthen the child's faith, and was also
hindered from pursuing Yusuf, who had left the tent. And if it were
separation that caused all this distress, what likelihood that Yusuf
would encumber himself with a child who had shown such powers of
wailing and screaming?
He durst not stir nor speak for fear of wakening the boy, even when
Yusuf returned and stretched himself on his mat, drawing a thick
woollen cloth over him, for the nights were chill. Long did Arthur lie
awake under the strange sense of slavery and helplessness, and utter
uncertainty as to his fate, expecting, in fact, that Yusuf meant to
keep him as a sort of tame animal to talk Scotch; but hoping to work on
him in time to favour an escape, and at any rate to despatch a letter
to Algiers, as a forlorn hope for the ultimate redemption of the poor
little unconscious child who lay warm and heavy across his breast.
Certainly, Arthur had never so prayed for aid, light. and deliverance
CHAPTER VIII--THE SEARCH
'The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks,
The long day wanes, the slow moon climbs. The deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.'
Arthur fell asleep at last, and did not waken till after sunrise, nor
did Ulysse, who must have been exhausted with crying and struggling.
When they did awaken, Arthur thinking with heavy heart that the moment
of parting was come, he saw indeed the other three slaves busied in
making bales of the merchandise; but the master, as well as the
Abyssinian, Fareek, and the little negro were all missing. Bekir, who
was a kind of foreman, and looked on the new white slave with some
jealousy, roughly pointed to some coarse food, and in reply to the
question whether the merchant was taking leave of the sheyk, intimated
that it was no business of theirs, and assumed authority to make his
new fellow-slave assist in the hardest of the packing.
Arthur had no heart to resist, much as it galled him to be ordered
about by this rude fellow. It was only a taste, as he well knew, of
what he had embraced, and he was touched by poor little Ulysse's
persistency in keeping as close as possible, though his playfellows
came down and tried first to lure, then to drag him away, and finally
remained to watch the process of packing up. Though Bekir was too
disdainful to reply to his fellow-slave's questions, Arthur picked up
from answers to the Moors who came down that Yusuf had recollected that
he had not finished his transactions with a little village of Cabyle
coral and sponge-fishers on the coast, and had gone down thither,
taking the little negro, to whom the headman seemed to have taken a
fancy, so as to become a possible purchaser, and with the Abyssinian to
attend to the mules.
A little before sundown Yusuf returned. Fareek lifted down a pannier
covered by a crimson and yellow kerchief, and Yusuf declared, with much
apparent annoyance, that the child was sick, and that this had
frustrated the sale. He was asleep, must be carried into the tent, and
not disturbed: for though the Cabyles had not purchased him, there was
no affording to loose anything of so much value. Moreover, observing
Ulysse still hovering round the Scot, he said, 'You may bide here the
night, laddie, I ha tell't the sheyk;' and he repeated the same to the
slaves in Arabic, dismissing them to hold a parting feast on a lamb
stuffed with pistachio nuts, together with their village friends.
Then drawing near to Arthur, he said, 'Can ye gar yon wean keep a quiet
sough, if we make him pass for the little black?'
Arthur started with joy, and stammered some words of intense relief and
'The deed's no dune yet,' said Yusuf, 'and it is ower like to end in
our leaving a' our banes on the sands! But a wilfu' man maun have his
way,' he repeated; 'so, sir, if it be your wull, ye'd better speak to
the bairn, for we must make a blackamoor of him while there is licht to
do it, or Bekir, whom I dinna lippen to, comes back frae the feast.'
Ulysse, being used to Irish-English, had little understanding of
Yusuf's broad Scotch; but he was looking anxiously from one to the
other of the speakers, and when Arthur explained to him that the
disguise, together with perfect silence, was the only hope of not being
left behind among the Moors, and the best chance of getting back to his
home and dear ones again, he perfectly understood. As to the
blackening, for which Yusuf had prepared a mixture to be laid on with a
feather, it was perfectly enchanting to faire la comedie. He laughed
so much that he had to be peremptorily hushed, and they were sensible
of the danger that in case of a search he might betray himself to his
Moorish friends; and Arthur tried to make him comprehend the extreme
danger, making him cry so that his cheeks had to be touched up. His
eyes and hair were dark, and the latter was cut to its shortest by
Yusuf, who further managed to fasten some tufts of wool dipped in the
black unguent to the kerchief that bound his head. The childish
features had something of the Irish cast, which lent itself to the
transformation, and in the scanty garments of the little negro Arthur
owned that he should never have known the small French gentleman.
Arthur was full of joy--Yusuf gruff, brief, anxious, like one acting
under some compulsion most unwillingly, and even despondently, but
apparently constrained by a certain instinctive feudal feeling, which
made him follow the desires of the young Border laird's son.
All had been packed beforehand, and there was nothing to be done but to
strike the tents, saddle the mules, and start. Ulysse, still very
sleepy, was lifted into the pannier, almost at the first streak of
dawn, while the slaves were grumbling at being so early called up; and
to a Moor who wakened up and offered to take charge of the little Bey,
Yusuf replied that the child had been left in the sheyk's house.
So they were safely out at the outer gate, and proceeding along a
beautiful path leading above the cliffs. The mules kept in one long
string, Bekir with the foremost, which was thus at some distance from
the hindmost, which carried Ulysse and was attended by Arthur, while
the master rode his own animals and gave directions. The fiction of
illness was kept up, and when the bright eyes looked up in too lively a
manner, Yusuf produced some of the sweets, which were always part of
his stock in trade, as a bribe to quietness.
At sunrise, the halt for prayer was a trial to Arthur's intense
anxiety, and far more so was the noontide one for sleep. He even
ventured a remonstrance, but was answered, 'Mair haste, worse speed.
Our lives are no worth a boddle till the search is over.'
They were on the shady side of a great rock overhung by a beautiful
creeping plant, and with a spring near at hand, and Yusuf, in leisurely
fashion, squatted down, caused Arthur to lift out the child, who was
fast asleep again, and the mules to be allowed to feed, and distributed
some dried goat's flesh and dates; but Ulysse, somewhat to Arthur's
alarm, did not wake sufficiently to partake.
Looking up in alarm, he met a sign from Yusuf and presently a whisper,
'No hurt done--'tis safer thus--'
And by this time there were alarming sounds on the air. The sheyk and
two of the chief men of El Arnieh were on horseback and armed with
matchlocks; and the whole 'posse of the village were following on foot,
with yells and vituperations of the entire ancestry of the merchant,
and far more complicated and furious threats than Arthur could follow;
but he saw Yusuf go forward to meet them with the utmost cool courtesy.
They seemed somewhat discomposed: Yusuf appeared to condole with them
on the loss, and, waving his hands, put all his baggage at their
service for a search, letting them run spears through the bales, and
overturn the baskets of sponges, and search behind every rock. When
they approached the sleeping boy, Arthur, with throbbing heart, dimly
comprehended that Yusuf was repeating the story of the disappointment
of a purchase caused by his illness, and lifting for a moment the
covering laid over him to show the bare black legs and arms. There
might also have been some hint of infection which, in spite of all
Moslem belief in fate, deterred Abou Ben Zegri from an over-close
inspection. Yusuf further invented a story of having put the little
Frank in charge of a Moorish woman in the adowara; but added he was so
much attached to the Son of the Sea, that most likely he had wandered
out in search of him, and the only wise course would be to seek him
before he was devoured by any of the wild beasts near home.
Nevertheless, there was a courteous and leisurely smoking of pipes and
drinking of coffee before the sheyk and his followers turned homewards.
To Arthur's alarm and surprise, however, Yusuf did not resume the
journey, but told Bekir that there would hardly be a better halting-
place within their powers, as the sun was already some way on his
downward course; and besides, it would take some time to repack the
goods which had been cast about in every direction during the search.
The days were at their shortest, though that was not very short,
closing in at about five o'clock, so that there was not much time to
spare. Arthur began to feel some alarm at the continued drowsiness of
the little boy, who only once muttered something, turned round, and
'What have you done to him?' asked Arthur anxiously.
'The poppy,' responded Yusuf. 'Never fash yoursel'. The bairn willna
be a hair the waur, and 'tis better so than that he shuld rax a' our
Yusuf's peril was so much the greater, that it was impossible to object
to any of his precautions, especially as he might take offence and
throw the whole matter over; but it was impossible not to chafe
secretly at the delay, which seemed incomprehensible. Indeed, the
merchant was avoiding private communication with Arthur, only assuming
the master, and ordering about in a peremptory fashion which it was
very hard to digest.
After the sunset orisons had been performed, Yusuf regaled his slaves
with a donation of coffee and tobacco, but with a warning to Arthur not
to partake, and to keep to windward of them. So too did the
Abyssinian, and the cause of the warning was soon evident, as Bekir and
his companion nodded, and then sank into a slumber as sound as that of
the little Frenchman. Indeed, Arthur himself was weary enough to fall
asleep soon after sundown, in spite of his anxiety, and the stars were
shining like great lamps when Yusuf awoke him. One mule stood equipped
beside him, and held by the Abyssinian. Yusuf pointed to the child,
and said, 'Lift him upon it.'
Arthur obeyed, finding a pannier empty on one side to receive the
child, who only muttered and writhed instead of awaking. The other
side seemed laden. Yusuf led the animal, retracing their way, while
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