A Modern Telemachus
Charlotte M. Yonge
Part 3 out of 4
fire-flies flitted around with their green lights, and the distant
laughter of hyenas gave Arthur a thrill of loathing horror. Huge bats
fluttered round, and once or twice grim shapes crossed their path.
'Uncanny beasties,' quoth Yusuf; 'but they will soon be behind us.'
He turned into a rapidly-sloping path. Arthur felt a fresh salt breeze
in his face, and his heart leapt up with hope.
In about an hour and a half they had reached a cove, shut in by dark
rocks which in the night looked immeasurable, but on the white beach a
few little huts were dimly discernible, one with a light in it. The
sluggish dash of waves could be heard on the shore; there was a sense
of infinite space and breadth before them; and Jupiter sitting in the
north-west was like an enormous lamp, casting a pathway of light
shimmering on the waters to lead the exiles home.
Three or four boats were drawn up on the beach; a man rose up from
within one, and words in a low voice were exchanged between him and
Yusuf; while Fareek, grinning so that his white teeth could be seen in
the starlight, unloaded the mule, placing its packs, a long Turkish
blunderbuss, and two skins of water, in the boat, and arranging a mat
on which Arthur could lay the sleeping child.
Well might the youth's heart bound with gratitude, as, unmindful of all
the further risks and uncertainties to be encountered, he almost saw
his way back to Burnside!
'Beside the helm he sat, steering expert,
Nor sleep fell ever on his eyes that watch'd
Intent the Pleiads, tardy in decline,
Bootes and the Bear, call'd else the Wain,
Which in his polar prison circling, looks
Direct towards Orion, and alone
Of these sinks never to the briny deep.'
The boat was pushed off, the Abyssinian leapt into it; Arthur paused to
pour out his thankfulness to Yusuf, but was met with the reply, 'Hout
awa'! Time enugh for that--in wi' ye.' And fancying there was some
alarm, he sprang in, and to his amazement found Yusuf instantly at his
side, taking the rudder, and giving some order to Fareek, who had taken
possession of a pair of oars; while the waters seemed to flash and
glitter a welcome at every dip.
'You are coming! you are coming!' exclaimed Arthur, clasping the
merchant's hand, almost beside himself with joy.
'Sma' hope wad there be of a callant like yersel' and the wean there
winning awa' by yer lane,' growled Yusuf.
'You have given up all for us.'
'There wasna muckle to gie,' returned the sponge merchant. 'Sin' the
gudewife and her bit bairnies at Bona were gane, I hadna the heart to
gang thereawa', nor quit the sound o' the bonny Scots tongue. I wad as
soon gang to the bottom as to the toom house. For dinna ye trow
yersells ower sicker e'en the noo.'
'Is there fear of pursuit?'
'No mickle o' that. The folk here are what they ca' Cabyles, a douce
set, not forgathering with Arabs nor wi' Moors. I wad na gang among
them till the search was over to-day; but yesterday I saw yon carle,
and coft the boatie frae him for the wee blackamoor and the mule. The
Moors at El Aziz are not seafaring; and gin the morn they jalouse what
we have done, we have the start of them. Na, I'm not feared for them;
but forbye that, this is no the season for an open boatie wi' a crew of
three and a wean. Gin we met an Algerian or Tunisian cruiser, as we
are maist like to do, a bullet or drooning wad be ower gude in their
e'en for us--for me, that is to say. They wad spare the bairn, and may
think you too likely a lad to hang on the walls like a split corbie on
the woodsman's lodge.'
'Well, Yusuf, my name is Hope, you know,' said Arthur. 'God has
brought us so far, and will scarce leave us now. I feel three times
the man that I was when I lay down this evening. Do we keep to the
north, where we are sure to come to a Christian land in time?'
'Easier said than done. Ye little ken what the currents are in this
same sea, or deed ye'll soon ken when we get into them.'
Arthur satisfied himself that they were making for the north by looking
at the Pole Star, so much lower than he was used to see it in Scotland
that he hardly recognised his old friend; but, as he watched the
studded belt of the Hunter and the glittering Pleiades, the Horatian
dread of Nimbosus Orion occurred to him as a thought to be put away.
Meantime there was a breeze from the land, and the sail was hoisted.
Yusuf bade both Arthur and Fareek lie down to sleep, for their
exertions would be wanted by and by, since it would not be safe to use
the sail by daylight. It was very cold--wild blasts coming down from
the mountains; but Arthur crept under the woollen mantle that had been
laid over Ulysse, and was weary enough to sleep soundly. Both were
awakened by the hauling down of the mast; and the little boy, who had
quite slept off the drug, scrambling out from under the covering, was
astonished beyond measure at finding himself between the glittering,
sparkling expanse of sea and the sky, where the sun had just leapt up
in a blaze of gold.
The white summits of Atlas were tipped with rosy light, beautiful to
behold, though the voyagers had much rather have been out of sight of
'How much have we made, Yusuf?' began Arthur.
'Tam Armstrong, so please you, sir! Yusuf's dead and buried the noo;
and if I were farther beyant the grip of them that kenned him, my
thrapple would feel all the sounder!'
This day was, he further explained, the most perilous one, since they
were by no means beyond the track of vessels plying on the coast; and
as a very jagged and broken cluster of rocks lay near, he decided on
availing themselves of the shelter they afforded. The boat was steered
into a narrow channel between two which stood up like the fangs of a
great tooth, and afforded a pleasant shade; but there was such a
screaming and calling of gulls, terns, cormorants, and all manner of
other birds, as they entered the little strait, and such a cloud of
them hovered and whirled overhead, that Tam uttered imprecations on
their skirling, and bade his companions lie close and keep quiet till
they had settled again, lest the commotion should betray that the rocks
were the lair of fugitives.
It was not easy to keep Ulysse quiet, for he was in raptures at the
rush of winged creatures, and no less so at the wonderful sea-anemones
and starfish in the pools, where long streamers of weed of beautiful
colours floated on the limpid water.
Nothing reduced him to stillness but the sight of the dried goat's
flesh and dates that Tam Armstrong produced, and for which all had
appetites, which had to be checked, since no one could tell how long it
would be before any kind of haven could be reached.
Arthur bathed himself and his charge in a pool, after Tam had
ascertained that no many-armed squid or cuttlefish lurked within it.
And while Ulysse disported himself like a little fish, Arthur did his
best to restore him to his natural complexion, and tried to cleanse the
little garments, which showed only too plainly the lack of any change,
and which were the only Frank or Christian clothes among them, since
young Hope himself had been almost stripped when he came ashore, and
wore the usual garb of Yusuf's slaves.
Presently Fareek made an imperative sign to hush the child's merry
tongue; and peering forth in intense anxiety, the others perceived a
lateen sail passing perilously near, but happily keeping aloof from the
sharp reef of rocks around their shelter. Arthur had forgotten the
child's prayers and his own, but Ulysse connected them with dressing,
and the alarm of the passing ship had recalled them to the young man's
mind, though he felt shy as he found that Tam Armstrong was not asleep,
but was listening and watching with his keen gray eyes under their
grizzled brows. Presently, when Ulysse was dropping to sleep again,
the ex-merchant began to ask questions with the intelligence of his
shrewd Scottish brains.
The stern Calvinism of the North was wont to consign to utter neglect
the outcast border of civilisation, where there were no decent parents
to pledge themselves; and Partan Jeannie's son had grown up well-nigh
in heathen ignorance among fisher lads and merchant sailors, till it
had been left for him to learn among the Mohammedans both temperance
and devotional habits. His whole faith and understanding would have
been satisfied for ever; but there had been strange yearnings within
him ever since he had lost his wife and children, and these had not
passed away when Arthur Hope came in his path. Like many another
renegade, he could not withstand the attraction of his native tongue;
and in this case it was doubled by the feudal attachment of the
district to the family of Burnside, and a grateful remembrance of the
lady who had been one of the very few persons who had ever done a
kindly deed by the little outcast. He had broken with all his Moslem
ties for Arthur Hope's sake; and these being left behind, he began to
make some inquiries about that Christian faith to which he must needs
return--if return be the right word in the case of one who knew it so
little when he had abjured it.
And Arthur had not been bred to the grim reading of the doctrine of
predestination which had condemned poor Tam, even before he had
embraced the faith of the Prophet. Boyish, and not over thoughtful,
the youth, when brought face to face with apostacy, had been ready to
give life or liberty rather than deny his Lord; and deepened by that
great decision, he could hold up that Lord and Redeemer in colours that
made Tam see that his clinging to his faith was not out of mere honour
and constancy, but that Mohammed had been a poor and wretched
substitute for Him whom the poor fellow had denied, not knowing what he
'Weel!' he said, 'gin the Deacon and the auld aunties had tellt me as
mickle about Him, thae Moors might ha' preached their thrapples sair
for Tam. Mashallah! Maister Arthur, do ye think, noo, He can forgie a
puir carle for turning frae Him an' disowning Him?'
'I am sure of it, Tam. He forgives all who come to Him--and you--you
did it in ignorance.'
'And you trow na that I am a vessel of wrath, as they aye said?'
'No, no, no, Tam. How could that be with one who has done what you
have for us? There is good in you--noble goodness, Tam; and who could
have put it there but God, the Holy Spirit? I believe myself He was
leading you all the time, though you did not know it; making you a
better man first, and now, through this brave kindness to us, bringing
you back to be a real true Christian and know Him.'
Arthur felt as if something put the words into his mouth, but he felt
them with all his heart, and the tears were in his eyes.
At sundown Tam grew restless. Force of habit impelled him to turn to
Mecca and make his devotions as usual, and after nearly kneeling down
on the flat stone, he turned to Arthur and said, 'I canna wed do
without the bit prayer, sir.
'No, indeed, Tam. Only let it be in the right Name.'
And Arthur knelt down beside him and said the Lord's Prayer--then,
under a spell of bashfulness, muttered special entreaty for protection
They were to embark again now that darkness would veil their movements,
but the wind blew so much from the north that they could not raise the
sail. The oars were taken by Tam and Fareek at first, but when they
came into difficult currents Arthur changed places with the former.
And thus the hours passed. The Mediterranean may be in our eyes a
European lake, but it was quite large enough to be a desert of sea and
sky to the little crew of an open boat, even though they were favoured
by the weather. Otherwise, indeed, they must have perished in the
first storm. They durst not sail except by night, and then only with
northerly winds, nor could there be much rest, since they could not lay
to, and drift with the currents, lest they should be carried back to
the African coast. Only one of the three men could sleep at a time,
and that by one of the others taking both oars, and in time this could
not but become very exhausting. It was true that all the coasts to the
north were of Christian lands; but in their Moorish garments and in
perfect ignorance of Italian, strangers might fare no better in
Sardinia or Sicily than in Africa, and Spain might be no better; but
Tam endeavoured to keep a north-westerly course, thinking from what
Arthur had said that in this direction there was more chance of being
picked up by a French vessel. Would their strength and provisions hold
out? Of this there was serious doubt. Late in the year as it was, the
heat and glare were as distressing by day as was the cold by night, and
the continued exertion of rowing produced thirst, which made it very
difficult to husband the water in the skins. Tam and Fareek were both
tough, and inured to heat and privation; but Arthur, scarce yet come to
his full height, and far from having attained proportionate robustness
and muscular strength, could not help flagging, though, whenever
steering was of minor importance, Tam gave him the rudder, moved by his
wan looks, for he never complained, even when fragments of dry goat's
flesh almost choked his parched mouth. The boy was never allowed to
want for anything save water; but it was very hard to hear him fretting
for it. Tam took the goatskin into his own keeping, and more than once
uttered a rough reproof, and yet Arthur saw him give the child half his
own precious ration when it must have involved grievous suffering. The
promise about giving the cup of cold water to a little one could not
but rise to his lips.
'Cauld! and I wish it were cauld!' was all the response Tam made; but
his face showed some gratification.
This was no season for traffic, and they had barely seen a sail or two
in the distance, and these only such as the experienced eyes of the ex-
sponge merchant held to be dangerous. Deadly lassitude began to seize
the young Scot; he began scarcely to heed what was to become of them,
and had not energy to try to console Ulysse, who, having in an
unwatched moment managed to swallow some sea water, was crying and
wailing under the additional misery he had inflicted on himself. The
sun beat down with noontide force, when on that fourth day, turning
from its scorching, his languid eye espied a sail on the northern
'See,' he cried; 'that is not the way of the Moors.'
'Bismillah! I beg your pardon, sir,' cried Tam, but said no more, only
Gradually, gradually the spectacle rose on their view fuller and
fuller, not the ruddy wings of the Algerine or Italian, but the square
white castle-like tiers of sails rising one above another, bearing
along in a south-easterly direction.
'English or French,' said Tam, with a long breath, for her colours and
build were not yet discernible. 'Mashallah! I beg pardon. I mean,
God grant she pass us not by!'
The mast was hastily raised, with Tam's turban unrolled, floating at
the top of it; and while he and Fareek plied their oars with might and
main, he bade Arthur fire off at intervals the blunderbuss, which had
hitherto lain idle at the bottom of the boat.
How long the intense suspense lasted they knew not ere Arthur cried,
'They are slackening sail! Thank God. Tam, you have saved us!
'Not so fast!' Tam uttered an Arabic and then a Scottish interjection.
Their signal had been seen by other eyes. An unmistakable Algerine,
with the crescent flag, was bearing down on them from the opposite
'Rascals. Do they not dread the British flag?' cried Arthur. 'Surely
that will protect us?'
'They are smaller and lighter, and with their galley slaves can defy
the wind, and loup off like a flea in a blanket,' returned Tam, grimly.
'Mair by token, they guess what we are, and will hold on to hae my
life's bluid if naething mair! Here! Gie us a soup of the water, and
the last bite of flesh. 'Twill serve us the noo, find we shall need it
nae mair any way.'
Arthur fed him, for he durst not slacken rowing for a moment. Then
seeing Fareek, who had borne the brunt of the fatigue, looking spent,
the youth, after swallowing a few morsels and a little foul-smelling
drink, took the second oar, while double force seemed given to the long
arms lately so weary, and both pulled on in silent, grim desperation.
Ulysse had given one scream at seeing the last of the water swallowed,
but he too, understood the situation, and obeyed Arthur's brief words,
'Kneel down and pray for us, my boy.'
The Abyssinian was evidently doing the same, after having loaded the
blunderbuss; but it was no longer necessary to use this as a signal,
since the frigate had lowered her boat, which was rapidly coming
But, alas! still more swiftly, as it seemed to those terrified eyes,
came the Moorish boat--longer, narrower, more favoured by currents and
winds, flying like a falcon towards its prey. It was a fearful race.
Arthur's head began to swim, his breath to labour, his arms to move
stiffly as a thresher's flail; but, just as power was failing him, an
English cheer came over the waters, and restored strength for a few
more resolute strokes.
Then came some puffs of smoke from the pirate's boat, a report, a jerk
to their own, a fresh dash forward, even as Fareek fired, giving a
moment's check to the enemy. There was a louder cheer, several shots
from the English boat, a cloud from the ship's side. Then Arthur was
sensible of a relaxation of effort, and that the chase was over, then
that the British boat was alongside, friendly voices ringing in his
ears, 'How now, mates? Runaways, eh? Where d'ye hail from?'
'Scottish! British!' panted out Arthur, unable to utter more, faint,
giddy, and astounded by the cheers around him, and the hands stretched
out in welcome. He scarcely saw or understood.
'Queer customers here! What! a child! Who are you, my little man?
And what's this? A Moor! He's hit--pretty hard too.'
This brought back Arthur's reeling senses in one flash of horror, at
the sight of Tam, bleeding fast in the bottom of the boat.
'O Tam! Tam! He saved me! He is Scottish too,' cried Arthur. 'Sir,
is he alive?'
'I think so,' said the officer, who had bent over Tam. 'We'll have him
aboard in a minute, and see what the doctor can do with him. You seem
to have had a narrow escape.'
Arthur was too busy endeavouring to staunch the blood which flowed fast
from poor Tam's side to make much reply, but Ulysse, perched on the
officer's knee, was answering for him in mixed English and French.
'Moi, je suis le Chevalier de Bourke! My papa is ambassador to Sweden.
This gentleman is his secretary. We were shipwrecked--and M. Arture
and I swam away together. The Moors were good to us, and wanted to
make us Moors; but M. Arture said it would be wicked. And Yusuf bought
him for a slave; but that was only from faire la comedie. He is bon
Chretien after all, and so is poor Fareek, only he is dumb. Yusuf--
that is, Tam--made me all black, and changed me for his little negro
boy; and we got into the boat, and it was very hot, and oh! I am so
thirsty. And now M. Arture will take me to Monsieur mon Pere, and get
me some nice clothes again,' concluded the young gentleman, who, in
this moment of return to civilised society, had become perfectly aware
of his own rank and importance.
Arthur only looked up to verify the child's statements, which had much
struck the lieutenant. Their boat had by this time been towed
alongside of the frigate, and poor Tam was hoisted on board, and the
surgeon was instantly at hand; but he said at once that the poor fellow
was fast dying, and that it would be useless torture to carry him below
A few words passed with the captain, and then the little Chevalier was
led away to tell his own tale, which he was doing with a full sense of
his own importance; but presently the captain returned, and beckoned to
Arthur, who had been kneeling beside poor Tam, moistening his lips, and
bathing his face, as he lay gasping and apparently unconscious, except
that he had gripped hold of his broad sash or girdle when it was taken
'The child tells me he is Comte de Bourke's son,' said the captain, in
a tentative manner, as if doubtful whether he should be understood, and
certainly Arthur looked more Moorish than European.
'Yes, sir! He was on his way with his mother to join his father when
we were taken by a Moorish corsair.'
'But you are not French?' said the captain, recognising the tones.
'No, sir; Scottish--Arthur Maxwell Hope. I was to have gone as the
'You have escaped from the Moors? I could not understand what the boy
said. Where are the lady and the rest?'
Arthur as briefly as he could, for he was very anxious to return to
poor Tam, explained the wreck and the subsequent adventures, saying
that he feared the poor Countess was lost, but that he had seen her
daughter and some of her suite on a rock. Captain Beresford was
horrified at the idea of a Christian child among the wild Arabs. His
station was Minorca, but he had just been at the Bay of Rosas, where
poor Comte de Bourke's anxiety and distress about his wife and children
were known, and he had received a request amounting to orders to try to
obtain intelligence about them, so that he held it to be within his
duty to make at once for Djigheli Bay.
For further conversation was cut short by sounds of articulate speech
from poor Tam. Arthur turned hastily, and the captain proceeded to
give his orders.
'Is Maister Hope here?'
'Here! Yes. O Tam, dear Tam, if I could do anything!' cried Arthur.
'I canna see that well,' said Tam, with a sound of anxiety. 'Where's
'This is it, in your own hand,' said Arthur, thinking he was wandering,
but the other hand sought one of the ample folds, which was sewn over,
'Tak' it; tak' tent of it; ye'll need the siller. Four hunder piastres
of Tunis, not countin' zeechins, and other sma' coin.'
'Shall I send them to any one at Eyemouth?'
Tam almost laughed. 'Na, na; keep them and use them yersell, sir.
There's nane at hame that wad own puir Tam. The leddy, your mither,
an' you hae been mair to me than a' beside that's above ground, and
what wad ye do wi'out the siller?'
'O Tam! I owe all and everything to you. And now --'
Tam looked up, as Arthur's utterance was choked, and a great tear fell
on his face. 'Wha wad hae said,' murmured he, 'that a son of Burnside
wad be greetin' for Partan Jeannie's son?'
'For my best friend. What have you not saved me from! and I can do
'Nay, sir. Say but thae words again.'
'Oh for a clergyman! Or if I had a Bible to read you the promises.'
'You shall have one,' said the captain, who had returned to his side.
The surgeon muttered that the lad seemed as good as a parson; but
Arthur heard him not, and was saying what prayers came to his mind in
this stress, when, even as the captain returned, the last struggle came
on. Once more Tam looked up, saying, 'Ye'll be good to puir Fareek;'
and with a word more, 'Oh, Christ: will He save such as I?' all was
'Come away, you can do nothing more,' said the doctor. 'You want
looking to yourself.'
For Arthur tottered as he tried to rise, and needed the captain's kind
hand as he gained his feet. 'Sir,' he said, as the tears gushed to his
eyes, 'he DOES deserve all honour--my only friend and deliverer.'
'I see,' said Captain Beresford, much moved; 'whatever he has been, he
died a Christian. He shall have Christian burial. And this fellow?'
pointing to poor Fareek, whose grief was taking vent in moans and sobs.
'Christian--Abyssinian, but dumb,' Arthur explained; and having his
promise that all respect should be paid to poor Tam's corpse, he let
the doctor lead him away, for he had now time to feel how sun-scorched
and exhausted he was, with giddy, aching head, and legs cramped and
stiff, arms strained and shoulders painful after his three days and
nights of the boat. His thirst, too, seemed unquenchable, in spite of
drinks almost unconsciously taken, and though hungry he had little will
The surgeon made him take a warm bath, and then fed him with soup,
after which, on a promise of being called in due time, he consented to
deposit himself in a hammock, and presently fell asleep.
When he awoke he found that clothes had been provided for him--naval
uniforms; but that could not be helped, and the comfort was great. He
was refreshed, but still very stiff. However, he dressed and was just
ready, when the surgeon came to see whether he were in condition to be
summoned, for it was near sundown, and all hands were piped up to
attend poor Tam's funeral rites. His generous and faithful deed had
eclipsed the memory that he was a renegade, and, indeed, it had been in
such ignorance that he had had little to deny.
All the sailors stood as respectfully as if he had been one of
themselves while the captain read a portion of the Burial Office. Such
honours would never have been his in his native land, where at that
time even Episcopalians themselves could not have ventured on any out-
door rites; and Arthur was thus doubly struck and impressed, when, as
the corpse, sewn in sail-cloth and heavily weighted, was launched into
the blue waves, he heard the words committing the body to the deep,
till the sea should give up her dead. He longed to be able to
translate them to poor Fareek, who was weeping and howling so
inconsolably as to attest how good a master he had lost.
Perhaps Tam's newly-found or recovered Christianity might have been put
to hard shocks as to the virtues he had learnt among the Moslems. At
any rate Arthur often had reason to declare in after life that the poor
renegade might have put many a better-trained Christian to shame.
CHAPTER X--ON BOARD THE 'CALYPSO'
'From when this youth?
His country, name, and birth declare!'
'You had forgotten this legacy, Mr. Hope,' said Captain Beresford,
taking Arthur into his cabin, 'and, judging by its weight, it is hardly
to be neglected. I put it into my locker for security.'
'Thank you, sir,' said Arthur. 'The question is whether I ought to
take it. I wished for your advice.'
'I heard what passed,' said the captain. 'I should call your right as
complete as if you had a will made by a half a dozen lawyers. When we
get into port, a few crowns to the ship's company to drink your health,
and all will be right. Will you count it?'
The folds were undone, and little piles made of the gold, but neither
the captain nor Arthur were much the wiser. The purser might have
computed it, but Captain Beresford did not propose this, thinking
perhaps that it was safer that no report of a treasure should get
abroad in the ship.
He made a good many inquiries, which he had deferred till Arthur should
be in a fitter condition for answering, first about the capture and
wreck, and what the young man had been able to gather about the
Cabeleyzes. Then, as the replies showed that he had a gentleman before
him, Captain Beresford added that he could not help asking, 'Que diable
allait il faire dans cette galere?'
'Sir,' said Arthur, 'I do not know whether you will think it your duty
to make me a prisoner, but I had better tell you the whole truth.'
'Oho!' said the captain; 'but you are too young! You could never have
been out with--with--we'll call him the Chevalier.'
'I ran away from school,' replied Arthur, colouring. 'I was a mere
boy, and I never was attainted,' explained Arthur, blushing. 'I have
been with my Lord Nithsdale, and my mother thought I could safely come
home, and that if I came from Sweden my brother could not think I
'Lord Burnside. He is at Court, in favour, they say, with King George.
He is my half-brother; my mother is a Maxwell.'
'There is a Hope in garrison at Port Mahon--a captain,' said the
captain. 'Perhaps he will advise you what to do if you are sick of
Jacobite intrigue and mystery, and ready to serve King George.'
Arthur's face lighted up. 'Will it be James Hope of Ryelands, or
Dickie Hope of the Lynn, or--?'
Captain Beresford held up his hands.
'Time must show that, my young friend,' he said, smiling. 'And now I
think the officers expect you to join their mess in the gunroom.'
There Arthur found the little Chevalier strutting about in an
adaptation of the smallest midshipman's uniform, and the centre of an
admiring party, who were equally diverted by his consequential airs and
by his accounts of his sports among the Moors. Happy fellow, he could
adapt himself to any society, and was ready to be the pet and plaything
of the ship's company, believing himself, when he thought of anything
beyond the present, to be full on the road to his friends again.
Fareek was a much more difficult charge, for Arthur had hardly a word
that he could understand. He found the poor fellow coiled up in a
corner, just where he had seen his former master's remains disappear,
still moaning and weeping bitterly. As Arthur called to him he looked
up for a moment, then crawled forward, striking his forehead at
intervals against the deck. He was about to kiss the feet of his
former fellow-slave, the glittering gold, blue, and white of whose
borrowed dress no doubt impressed him. Arthur hastily started back, to
the amazement of the spectators, and called out a negative--one of the
words sure to be first learnt. He tried to take Fareek's hand and
raise him from his abject attitude; but the poor fellow continued
kneeling, and not only were no words available to tell him that he was
free, but it was extremely doubtful whether freedom was any boon to
him. One thing, however, he did evidently understand--he pointed to
the St. George's pennant with the red cross, made the sign, looked an
interrogation, and on Arthur's reply, 'Christians,' and reiteration of
the word 'Salem,' PEACE, he folded his arms and looked reassured.
'Ay, ay, my hearty,' said the big boatswain, 'ye've got under the old
flag, and we'll soon make you see the difference. Cut out your poor
tongue, have they, the rascals, and made a dummy of you? I wish my cat
was about their ears! Come along with you, and you shall find what
British grog is made of.'
And a remarkable friendship arose between the two, the boatswain
patronising Fareek on every occasion, and roaring at him as if he were
deaf as well as dumb, and Fareek appearing quite confident under his
protection, and establishing a system of signs, which were fortunately
a universal language. The Abyssinian evidently viewed himself as young
Hope's servant or slave, probably thinking himself part of his late
master's bequest, and there was no common language between them in
which to explain the difference or ascertain the poor fellow's wishes.
He was a slightly-made, dexterous man, probably about five and twenty
years of age, and he caught up very quickly, by imitation, the care he
could take of Arthur's clothes, and the habit of waiting on him at
Meantime the Calypso held her course to the south-east, till the chart
declared the coast to be that of Djigheli Bay, and Arthur recognised
the headlands whither the unfortunate tartane had drifted to her
destruction. Anchoring outside the hay, Captain Beresford sent the
first lieutenant, Mr. Bullock, in the long-boat, with Arthur and a
well-armed force, with instructions to offer no violence, but to
reconnoitre; and if they found Mademoiselle de Bourke, or any others of
the party, to do their best for their release by promises of ransom or
representations of the consequences of detaining them. Arthur was
prepared to offer his own piastres at once in case of need of immediate
payment. He was by this time tolerably versed in the vernacular of the
Mediterranean, and a cook's boy, shipped at Gibraltar, was also
supposed to be capable of interpreting.
The beautiful bay, almost realising the description of AEneas' landing-
place, lay before them, the still green waters within reflecting the
fantastic rocks and the wreaths of verdure which crowned them, while
the white mountain-tops rose like clouds in the far distance against
the azure sky. Arthur could only, however, think of all this fair
scene as a cruel prison, and those sharp rocks as the jaws of a trap,
when he saw the ribs of the tartane still jammed into the rock where
she had struck, and where he had saved the two children as they were
washed up the hatchway. He saw the rock where the other three had
clung, and where he had left the little girl. He remembered the crowd
of howling, yelling savages, leaping and gesticulating on the beach,
and his heart trembled as he wondered how it had ended.
Where were the Cabeleyzes who had thus greeted them? The bay seemed
perfectly lonely. Not a sound was to be heard but the regular dip of
the oars, the cry of a startled bird, and the splash of a flock of
seals, which had been sunning themselves on the shore, and which
floundered into the sea like Proteus' flock of yore before Ulysses.
Would that Proteus himself had still been there to be captured and
interrogated! For the place was so entirely deserted that, saving for
the remains of the wreck, he must have believed himself mistaken in the
locality, and the lieutenant began to question him whether it had been
daylight when he came ashore.
Could the natives have hidden themselves at sight of an armed vessel?
Mr. Bullock resolved on landing, very cautiously, and with a sufficient
guard. On the shore some fragments of broken boxes and packing cases
appeared; and a sailor pointed out the European lettering painted on
one--sse de B-. It plainly was part of the address to the Comtesse de
Bourke. This encouraged the party in their search. They ascended the
path which poor Hebert and Lanty Callaghan had so often painfully
climbed, and found themselves before the square of reed hovels, also
deserted, but with black marks where fires had been lighted, and with
traces of recent habitation.
Arthur picked up a rag of the Bourke livery, and another of a brocade
which he had seen the poor Countess wearing. Was this all the relic
that he should ever be able to take to her husband?
He peered about anxiously in hopes of discovering further tokens, and
Mr. Bullock was becoming impatient of his lingering, when suddenly his
eye was struck by a score on the bark of a chestnut tree like a cross,
cut with a feeble hand. Beneath, close to the trunk, was a stone,
beyond the corner of which appeared a bit of paper. He pounced upon
it. It was the title-page of Estelle's precious Telemaque, and on the
back was written in French, If any good Christian ever finds this, I
pray him to carry it to M. the French Consul at Algiers. We are five
poor prisoners, the Abbe de St. Eudoce, Estelle, daughter of the Comte
de Bourke, and our servants, Jacques Hebert, Laurent Callaghan,
Victorine Renouf. The Cabeleyzes are taking us away to their
mountains. We are in slavery, in hunger, filth, and deprivation of all
things. We pray day and night that the good God will send some one to
rescue us, for we are in great misery, and they persecute us to make us
deny our faith. O, whoever you may be, come and deliver us while we
are yet alive.'
Arthur was almost choked with tears as he translated this piteous
letter to the lieutenant, and recollected the engaging, enthusiastic
little maiden, as he had seen her on the Rhone, but now brought to such
a state. He implored Mr. Bullock to pursue the track up the mountain,
and was grieved at this being treated as absurdly impossible, but then
recollecting himself, 'You could not, sir, but I might follow her and
make them understand that she must be saved--'
'And give them another captive,' said Bullock; 'I thought you had had
enough of that. You will do more good to this flame of yours--'
'No flame, sir. She is a mere child, little older than her brother.
But she must not remain among these lawless savages.'
'No! But we don't throw the helve after the hatchet, my lad! All you
can do is to take this epistle to the French Consul, who might find it
hard to understand without your explanations. At any rate, my orders
are to bring you safe on board again.'
Arthur had no choice but to submit, and Captain Beresford, who had a
wife and children at home, was greatly touched by the sight of the
childish writing of the poor little motherless girl; above all when
Arthur explained that the high-sounding title of Abbe de St. Eudoce
only meant one who was more likely to be a charge than a help to her.
France was for the nonce allied with England, and the dread of passing
to Sweden through British seas had apparently been quite futile, since,
if Captain Beresford recollected the Irish blood of the Count, it was
only as an additional cause for taking interest in him. Towards the
Moorish pirates the interest of the two nations united them. It was
intolerable to think of the condition of the captives; and the captain,
anxious to lose no time, rejoiced that his orders were such as to
justify him in sailing at once for Algiers to take effectual measures
with the consul before letting the family know the situation of the
poor Demoiselle de Bourke.
CHAPTER XI--THE PIRATE CITY
'With dazed vision unawares
From the long alley's latticed shade
Emerged, I came upon the great
Pavilion of the Caliphat.
Right to the carven cedarn doors,
Flung inward over spangled floors,
Broad-based flights of marble stairs
Ran up with golden balustrade,
After the fashion of the time,
And humour of the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.'
Civilised and innocuous existence has no doubt been a blessing to
Algiers as well as to the entire Mediterranean, but it has not improved
the picturesqueness of its aspect any more than the wild and splendid
'tiger, tiger burning bright,' would be more ornamental with his claws
pared, the fiery gleam of his yellow eyes quenched, and his spirit
tamed, so as to render him only an exaggerated domestic cat. The
steamer, whether of peace or war, is a melancholy substitute for the
splendid though sinister galley, with her ranks of oars and towers of
canvas, or for the dainty lateen-sailed vessels, skimming the waters
like flying fish, and the Frank garb ill replaces the graceful Arab
dress. The Paris-like block of houses ill replaces the graceful
Moorish architecture, undisturbed when the Calypso sailed into the
harbour, and the amphitheatre-like city rose before her, in successive
terraces of dazzling white, interspersed with palms and other trees
here and there, with mosques and minarets rising above them, and with a
crown of strong fortifications. The harbour itself was protected by a
strongly-fortified mole, and some parley passed with the governor of
the strong and grim-looking castle adjacent--a huge round tower erected
by the Spaniards, and showing three ranks of brazen teeth in the shape
Finally, the Algerines having been recently brought to their bearings,
as Captain Beresford said, entrance was permitted, and the Calypso
enjoyed the shelter of the mole; while he, in full-dress uniform, took
boat and went ashore, and with him the two escaped prisoners. Fareek
remained on board till the English Consul could be consulted on his
England and France were on curious terms with Algiers. The French had
bombarded the city in 1686, and had obtained a treaty by which a consul
constantly resided in the city, and the persons and property of French
subjects were secured from piracy, or if captured were always released.
The English had made use of the possession of Gibraltar and Minorca to
enforce a like treaty. There was a little colony of European
merchants--English, French, and Dutch--in the lower town, near the
harbour, above which the Arab town rose, as it still rises, in a steep
stair. Ships of all these nations traded at the port, and quite
recently the English Consul, Thomas Thompson by name, had vindicated
the honour of his flag by citing before the Dey a man who had insulted
him on the narrow causeway of the mole. The Moor was sentenced to
receive 2200 strokes of bastinado on the feet, 1000 the first day, 1200
on the second, and he died in consequence, so that Englishmen safely
walked the narrow streets. The Dey who had inflicted this punishment
was, however, lately dead. Mehemed had been elected and installed by
the chief Janissaries, and it remained to be proved whether he would
show himself equally anxious to be on good terms with the Christian
Arthur's heart had learnt to beat at sight of the British ensign with
emotions very unlike those with which he had seen it wave at
Sheriffmuir; but it looked strange above the low walls of a Moorish
house, plain outside, but with a richly cusped and painted horse-shoe
arch at the entrance to a lovely cloistered court, with a sparkling
fountain surrounded by orange trees with fruit of all shades from green
to gold. Servants in white garments and scarlet fezzes, black, brown,
or white (by courtesy), seemed to swarm in all directions; and one of
them called a youth in European garb, but equally dark-faced with the
rest, and not too good an English scholar. However, he conducted them
through a still more beautiful court, lined with brilliant mosaics in
the spandrels of the exquisite arches supported on slender shining
Mr. Thompson's English coat and hearty English face looked incongruous,
as at sight of the blue and white uniform he came forward with all the
hospitable courtesy due to a post-captain. There was shaking of hands,
and doffing of cocked hats, and calling for wine, and pipes, and
coffee, in the Alhambra-like hall, where a table covered with papers
tied with red tape, in front of a homely leathern chair, looked more
homelike than suitable. Other chairs there were for Frank guests, who
preferred them to the divan and piles of cushions on which the Moors
'What can I do for you, sir?' he asked of the captain, 'or for this
little master,' he added, looking at Ulysse, who was standing by
Arthur. 'He is serving the King early.'
'I don't belong to your King George,' broke out the young gentleman.
'He is an usurpateur. I have only this uniform on till I can get my
proper clothes. I am the son of the Comte de Bourke, Ambassador to
Spain and Sweden. I serve no one but King Louis!'
'That is plain to be seen!' said Mr. Thompson. 'The Gallic cock crows
early. But is he indeed the son of Count Bourke, about whom the French
Consul has been in such trouble?'
'Even so, sir,' replied the captain. 'I am come to ask you to present
him, with this gentleman, Mr. Hope, to your French colleague. Mr.
Hope, to whom the child's life and liberty are alike owing, has
information to give which may lead to the rescue of the boy's sister
and uncle with their servants.'
Mr. Thompson had heard of a Moorish galley coming in with an account of
having lost a Genoese prize, with ladies on board, in the late storm.
He was sure that the tidings Mr. Hope brought would be most welcome,
but he knew that the French Consul was gone up with a distinguished
visitor, M. Dessault, for an audience of the Dey; and, in the meantime,
his guests must dine with him. And Arthur narrated his adventures.
The Consul shook his head when he heard of Djigheli Bay.
'Those fellows, the Cabeleyzes, hate the French, and make little enough
of the Dey, though they do send home Moors who fall into their hands.
Did you see a ruined fort on a promontory? That was the Bastion de
France. The old King Louis put it up and garrisoned it, but these
rogues contrived a surprise, and made four hundred prisoners, and ever
since they have been neither to have nor to hold. Well for you, young
gentleman, that you did not fall into their hands, but those of the
country Moors--very decent folk--descended, they say, from the Spanish
Moors. A renegade got you off, did he? Yes, they will sometimes do
that, though at an awful risk. If they are caught, they are hung up
alive on hooks to the walls. You had an escape, I can tell you, and so
had he, poor fellow, of being taken alive.'
'He knew the risk!' said Arthur, in a low voice; 'but my mother had
once been good to him, and he dared everything for me.'
The Consul readily estimated Arthur's legacy as amounting to little
less than 200 pounds, and was also ready to give him bills of exchange
for it. The next question was as to Fareek. To return him to his own
country was impossible; and though the Consul offered to buy him of
Arthur, not only did the young Scot revolt at the idea of making
traffic of the faithful fellow, but Mr. Thompson owned that there might
be some risk in Algiers of his being recognised as a runaway; and
though this was very slight, it was better not to give any cause of
offence. Captain Beresford thought the poor man might be disposed of
at Port Mahon, and Arthur kept to himself that Tam's bequest was sacred
to him. His next wish was for clothes to which he might have a better
right than to the uniform of the senior midshipman of H.M.S. Calypso--a
garb in which he did not like to appear before the French Consul. Mr.
Thompson consulted his Greek clerk, and a chest belonging to a captured
merchantman, which had been claimed as British property, but had not
found an owner, was opened, and proved to contain a wardrobe sufficient
to equip Arthur like other gentlemen of the day, in a dark crimson
coat, with a little gold lace about it, and the rest of the dress
white, a wide beaver hat, looped up with a rosette, and everything,
indeed, except shoes, and he was obliged to retain those of the senior
midshipman. With his dark hair tied back, and a suspicion of powder,
he found himself more like the youth whom Lady Nithsdale had introduced
in Madame de Varennes' salon than he had felt for the last month; and,
moreover, his shyness and awkwardness had in great measure disappeared
during his vicissitudes, and he had made many steps towards manhood.
Ulysse had in the meantime been consigned to a kind, motherly, portly
Mrs. Thompson, who, accustomed as she was to hearing of strange
adventures, was aghast at what the child had undergone, and was
enchanted with the little French gentleman who spoke English so well,
and to whom his Grand Seigneur airs returned by instinct in contact
with a European lady; but his eye instantly sought Arthur, nor would he
be content without a seat next to his protector at the dinner, early as
were all dinners then, and a compound of Eastern and Western dishes,
the latter very welcome to the travellers, and affording the Consul's
wife themes of discourse on her difficulties in compounding them.
Pipes, siesta, and coffee followed, Mr. Thompson assuring them that his
French colleague would not be ready to receive them till after the like
repose had been undergone, and that he had already sent a billet to
announce their coming.
The French Consulate was not distant. The fleur-de-lis waved over a
house similar to Mr. Thompson's, but they were admitted with greater
ceremony, when Mr. Thompson at length conducted them. Servants and
slaves, brown and black, clad in white with blue sashes, and white
officials in blue liveries, were drawn up in the first court in two
lines to receive them; and the Chevalier, taking it all to himself,
paraded in front with the utmost grandeur, until, at the next archway,
two gentlemen, resplendent in gold lace, came forward with low bows.
At sight of the little fellow there were cries of joy. M. Dessault
spread out his arms, clasped the child to his breast, and shed tears
over him, so that the less emotional Englishmen thought at first that
they must be kinsmen. However, Arthur came in for a like embrace as
the boy's preserver; and if Captain Beresford had not stepped back and
looked uncomprehending and rigid he might have come in for the same.
Seated in the verandah, Arthur told his tale and presented the letter,
over which there were more tears, as, indeed, well there might be over
the condition of the little girl and her simple mode of describing it.
It was nearly a month since the corsair had arrived, and the story of
the Genoese tartane being captured and lost with French ladies on board
had leaked out. The French Consul had himself seen and interrogated
the Dutch renegade captain, had become convinced of the identity of the
unfortunate passengers, and had given up all hopes of them, so that he
greeted the boy as one risen from the dead.
To know that the boy's sister and uncle were still in the hands of the
Cabeleyzes was almost worse news than the death of his mother, for this
wild Arab tribe had a terrible reputation even among the Moors and
The only thing that could be devised after consultation between the two
consuls, the French envoy, and the English captain, was that an
audience should be demanded of the Dey, and Estelle's letter presented
the next morning. Meanwhile Arthur and Ulysse were to remain as guests
at the English Consulate. The French one would have made them welcome,
but there was no lady in his house; and Mrs. Thompson had given Arthur
a hint that his little charge would be the better for womanly care.
There was further consultation whether young Hope, as a runaway slave--
who had, however, carried off a relapsed renegade with him--would be
safe on shore beyond the precincts of the Consulate; but as no one had
any claim on him, and it might be desirable to have his evidence at
hand, it was thought safe that he should remain, and Captain Beresford
promised to come ashore in the morning to join the petitioners to the
Perhaps he was not sorry, any more than was Arthur, for the opportunity
of beholding the wonderful city and palace, which were like a dream of
beauty. He came ashore early, with two or three officers, all in full
uniform; and the audience having been granted, the whole party--
consuls, M. Dessault, and their attendants--mounted the steep, narrow
stone steps leading up the hill between the walls of houses with
fantastically carved doorways or lattices; while bare-legged Arabs
niched themselves into every coigne of vantage with baskets of fruit or
eggs, or else embroidering pillows and slippers with exquisite taste.
The beauty of the buildings was unspeakable, and they projected enough
to make a cool shade--only a narrow fragment of deep blue sky being
visible above them. The party did not, however, ascend the whole 497
steps, as the abode of the Dey was then not the citadel, but the palace
of Djenina in the heart of the city. Turning aside, they made their
way thither over terraces partly in the rock, partly on the roofs of
Fierce-looking Janissaries, splendidly equipped, guarded the entrance,
with an air so proud and consequential as to remind Arthur of poor
Yusuf's assurances of the magnificence that might await little Ulysse
as an Aga of that corps. Even as they admitted the infidels they
looked defiance at them from under the manifold snowy folds of their
If the beauty of the consuls' houses had struck and startled Arthur,
far more did the region into which he was now admitted seem like a
dream of fairyland as he passed through ranks of orange trees round
sparkling fountains--worthy of Versailles itself--courts surrounded
with cloisters, sparkling with priceless mosaics, in those brilliant
colours which Eastern taste alone can combine so as to avoid gaudiness,
arches and columns of ineffable grace and richness, halls with domes
emulating the sky, or else ceiled with white marble lacework, whose
tracery seemed delicate and varied as the richest Venice point! But
the wonderful beauty seemed to him to have in it something terrible and
weird, like that fairyland of his native country, whose glory and charm
is overshadowed by the knowledge of the teinds to be paid to hell. It
was an unnatural, incomprehensible world; and from longing to admire
and examine, he only wished to be out of it, felt it a relief to fix
his eyes upon the uniforms of the captain and the consuls, and did not
wonder that Ulysse, instead of proudly heading the procession, shrank
up to him and clasped his hand as his protector.
The human figures were as strange as the architecture; the glittering
of Janissaries in the outer court, which seemed a sort of guardroom,
the lines of those on duty in the next, and in the third court the
black slaves in white garments, enhancing the blackness of their limbs,
each with a formidable curved scimitar. At the golden cusped archway
beyond, all had to remove their shoes as though entering a mosque. The
Consuls bade the new-comers submit to this, adding that it was only
since the recent victory that it had not been needful to lay aside the
sword on entering the Dey's august presence. The chamber seemed to the
eyes of the strangers one web of magic splendour--gold-crusted lacework
above, arches on one side open to a beauteous garden, and opposite
semicircles of richly-robed Janissary officers, all culminating in a
dazzling throne, where sat a white-turbaned figure, before whom the
visitors all had to bow lower than European independence could well
The Dey's features were not very distinctly seen at the distance where
etiquette required them to stand; but Arthur thought him hardly worthy
to be master of such fine-looking beings as Abou Ben Zegri and many
others of the Moors, being in fact a little sturdy Turk, with Tartar
features, not nearly so graceful as the Moors and Arabs, nor so
handsome and imposing as the Janissaries of Circassian blood. Turkish
was the court language; and even if he understood any other, an
interpreter was a necessary part of the etiquette. M. Dessault
instructed the interpreter, who understood with a readiness which
betrayed that he was one of the many renegades in the Algerine service.
The Dey was too dignified to betray much emotion; but he spoke a few
words, and these were understood to profess his willingness to assist
in the matter. A richly-clad official, who was, Mr. Thompson
whispered, a Secretary of State, came to attend the party in a smaller
but equally beautiful room, where pipes and coffee were served, and a
consultation took place with the two Consuls, which was, of course,
incomprehensible to the anxious listeners. M. Dessault's interest was
deeply concerned in the matter, since he was a connection of the
Varennes family, to which poor Madame de Bourke belonged.
Commands from the Dey, it was presently explained, would be utterly
disregarded by these wild mountaineers--nay, would probably lead to the
murder of the captives in defiance. But it was known that if these
wild beings paid deference to any one, it was to the Grand Marabout at
Bugia; and the Secretary promised to send a letter in the Dey's name,
which, with a considerable present, might induce him to undertake the
negotiation. Therewith the audience terminated, after M. Dessault had
laid a splendid diamond snuff-box at the feet of the Secretary.
The Consuls were somewhat disgusted at the notion of having recourse to
the Marabouts, whom the French Consul called vilains charlatan, and the
English one filthy scoundrels and impostors. Like the Indian Fakirs,
opined Captain Beresford; like the begging friars, said M. Dessault,
and to this the Consuls assented. Just, however, as the Dominicans,
besides the low class of barefooted friars, had a learned and
cultivated set of brethren in high repute at the Universities, and a
general at Rome, so it appeared that the Marabouts, besides their wild
crew of masterful beggars, living at free quarters, partly through
pretended sanctity, partly through the awe inspired by cabalistic arts,
had a higher class who dwelt in cities, and were highly esteemed, for
the sake of either ten years' abstinence from food or the attainment of
fifty sciences, by one or other of which means an angelic nature was
held to be attained.
Fifty sciences! This greatly astonished the strangers, but they were
told by the residents that all the knowledge of the highly cultivated
Arabs of Bagdad and the Moors of Spain had been handed on to the select
few of their African descendants, and that really beautiful poetry was
still produced by the Marabouts. Certainly no one present could doubt
of the architectural skill and taste of the Algerines, and Mr. Thompson
declared that not a tithe of the wonders of their mechanical art had
been seen, describing the wonderful silver tree of Tlemcen, covered
with birds, who, by the action of wind, were made to produce the songs
of each different species which they represented, till a falcon on the
topmost branch uttered a harsh cry, and all became silent. General
education had, however, fallen to a low ebb among the population, and
the wisdom of the ancients was chiefly concentrated among the higher
class of Marabouts, whose headquarters were at Bugia, and their present
chief, Hadji Eseb Ben Hassan, had the reputation of a saint, which the
Consuls believed to be well founded.
The Cabeleyzes, though most irregular Moslems, were extremely
superstitious as regarded the supernatural arts supposed to be
possessed by the Marabouts, and if these could be induced to take up
the cause of the prisoners, there would be at least some chance of
And not long after the party had arrived at the French Consulate, where
they were to dine, a messenger arrived with a parcel rolled up in silk,
embroidered with gold, and containing a strip of paper beautifully
emblazoned, and in Turkish characters. The Consul read it, and found
it to be a really strong recommendation to the Marabout to do his
utmost for the servants of the Dey's brother, the King of France, now
in the hands of the children of Shaitan.
'Well purchased,' said M. Dessault; 'though that snuff-box came from
the hands of the Elector of Bavaria!'
As soon as the meal was over, the French Consul, instead of taking his
siesta as usual, began to take measures for chartering a French tartane
to go to Bugia immediately. He found there was great interest excited,
not only among the Christian merchants, but among Turks, Moors, and
Jews, so horrible was the idea of captivity among the Cabeleyzes. The
Dey set the example of sending down five purses of sequins towards the
young lady's ransom, and many more contributions came in unasked. It
was true that the bearers expected no small consideration in return,
but this was willingly given, and the feeling manifested was a perfect
astonishment to all the friends at the Consulate.
The French national interpreter, Ibrahim Aga, was charged with the
negotiations with the Marabout. Arthur entreated to go with him, and
with some hesitation this was agreed to, since the sight of an old
friend might be needed to reassure any survivors of the poor captives--
for it was hardly thought possible that all could still survive the
hardships of the mountains in the depth of winter, even if they were
spared by the ferocity of their captors.
Ulysse, the little son and heir, was not to be exposed to the perils of
the seas till his sister's fate was decided, and accordingly he was to
remain under the care of Mrs. Thompson; while Captain Beresford meant
to cruise about in the neighbourhood, having a great desire to know the
result of the enterprise, and hoping also that if Mademoiselle de
Bourke still lived he might be permitted to restore her to her
relations. Letters, clothes, and comforts were provided, and placed
under the charge of the interpreter and of Arthur, together with a
considerable gratuity for the Marabout, and authority for any ransom
that Cabeleyze rapacity might require,--still, however, with great
doubt whether all might not be too late.
CHAPTER XII--ON THE MOUNTAINS
'We cannot miss him. He doth make our fire,
Fetch in our wood, and serve in offices
That profit us.' Tempest.
Bugia, though midway on the 'European lake,' is almost unknown to
modern travellers, though it has become a French possession.
It looked extremely beautiful when the French tartane entered it,
rising from the sea like a magnificent amphitheatre, at the foot of the
mountains that circled round it, and guarded by stern battlemented
castles, while the arches of one of the great old Roman aqueducts made
a noble cord to the arc described by the lower part of the town.
The harbour, a finer one naturally than that of Algiers, contained
numerous tartanes and other vessels, for, as Ibrahim Aga, who could
talk French very well, informed Arthur, the inhabitants were good
workers in iron, and drove a trade in plough-shares and other
implements, besides wax and oil. But it was no resort of Franks, and
he insisted that Arthur should only come on shore in a Moorish dress,
which had been provided at Algiers. Thanks to young Hope's naturally
dark complexion, and the exposure of the last month, he might very well
pass for a Moor: and he had learnt to wear the white caftan, wide
trousers, broad sash, and scarlet fez, circled with muslin, so
naturally that he was not likely to be noticed as a European.
The city, in spite of its external beauty, proved to be ruinous within,
and in the midst of the Moorish houses and courts still were visible
remnants of the old Roman town that had in past ages flourished there.
Like Algiers, it had narrow climbing streets, excluding sunshine, and
through these the guide Ibrahim had secured led the way; while in
single file came the interpreter, Arthur, two black slaves bearing
presents for the Marabout, and four men besides as escort. Once or
twice there was a vista down a broader space, with an awning over it,
where selling and buying were going on, always of some single species
Thus they arrived at one of those Moorish houses, to whose beauty
Arthur was becoming accustomed. It had, however, a less luxurious and
grave aspect than the palaces of Algiers, and the green colour sacred
to the Prophet prevailed in the inlaid work, which Ibrahim Aga told him
consisted chiefly of maxims from the Koran.
No soldiers were on guard, but there were a good many young men wholly
clad in white--neophytes endeavouring to study the fifty sciences,
mostly sitting on the ground, writing copies, either of the sacred
books, or of the treatises on science and medicine which had descended
from time almost immemorial; all rehearsed aloud what they learnt or
wrote, so as to produce a strange hum. A grave official, similarly
clad, but with a green sash, came to meet them, and told them that the
chief Marabout was sick; but on hearing from the interpreter that they
were bearers of a letter from the Dey, he went back with the
intelligence, and presently returned salaaming very low, to introduce
them to another of the large halls with lacework ceilings, where it was
explained that the Grand Marabout was, who was suffering from ague.
The fit was passing off, and he would be able to attend of the coffee
and the pipes which were presented to his honoured guests so soon as
they had partaken them.
After a delay, very trying to Arthur's anxiety, though beguiled by such
coffee and tobacco as he was never likely to encounter again, Hadji
Eseb Ben Hassan, a venerable-looking man, appeared, with a fine white
beard and keen eyes, slenderly formed, and with an air of very
considerable ability--much more so than the Dey, in all his glittering
splendour of gold, jewels, and embroidery, whereas this old man wore
the pure white woollen garments of the Moor, with the green sash, and
an emerald to fasten the folds of his white turban.
Ibrahim Aga prostrated himself as if before the Dey, and laid before
the Marabout, as a first gift, a gold watch; then, after a blessing had
been given in return, he produced with great ceremony the Dey's letter,
to which every one in the apartment did obeisance by touching the floor
with their foreheads, and the Grand Marabout further rubbed it on his
brow before proceeding to read it, which he chose to do for himself,
chanting it out in a low, humming voice. It was only a recommendation,
and the other letter was from the French Consul containing all
particulars. The Marabout seemed much startled, and interrogated the
interpreter. Arthur could follow them in some degree, and presently
the keen eye of the old man seemed to detect his interest, for there
was a pointing to him, an explanation that he had been there, and
presently Hadji Eseb addressed a question to him in the vernacular
Arabic. He understood and answered, but the imperfect language or his
looks betrayed him, for Hadji Eseb demanded, 'Thou art Frank, my son?'
Ibrahim Aga, mortally afraid of the consequences of having brought a
disguised Giaour into these sacred precincts, began what Arthur
perceived to be a lying assurance of his having embraced Islam; and he
was on the point of breaking in upon the speech, when the Marabout
observed his gesture, and said gravely, 'My son, falsehood is not
needed to shield a brave Christian; a faithful worshipper of Issa Ben
Mariam receives honour if he does justice and works righteousness
according to his own creed, even though he be blind to the true faith.
Is it true, good youth, that thou art--not as this man would have me
believe--one of the crew from Algiers, but art come to strive for the
release of thy sister?'
Arthur gave the history as best he could, for his month's practice had
made him able to speak the vernacular so as to be fairly
comprehensible, and the Marabout, who was evidently a man of very high
abilities, often met him half way, and suggested the word at which he
stumbled. He was greatly touched by the account, even in the imperfect
manner in which the youth could give it; and there was no doubt that he
was a man of enlarged mind and beneficence, who had not only mastered
the fifty sciences, but had seen something of the world.
He had not only made his pilgrimage to Mecca more than once, but had
been at Constantinople, and likewise at Tunis and Tripoli; thus, with
powers both acute and awake, he understood more than his countrymen of
European Powers and their relation to one another. As a civilised and
cultivated man, he was horrified at the notion of the tenderly-nurtured
child being in the clutches of savages like the Cabeleyzes; but the
first difficulty was to find out where she was; for, as he said,
pointing towards the mountains, they were a wide space, and it would be
hunting a partridge on the hills.
Looking at his chief councillor, Azim Reverdi, he demanded whether some
of the wanderers of their order, whom he named, could not be sent
through the mountains to discover where any such prisoners might be;
but after going into the court in quest of these persons, Azim returned
with tidings that a Turkish soldier had returned on the previous day to
the town, and had mentioned that on Mount Couco, Sheyk Abderrahman was
almost at war with his subordinates, Eyoub and Ben Yakoub, about some
shipwrecked Frank captives, if they had not already settled the matter
by murdering them all, and, as was well known, nothing would persuade
this ignorant, lawless tribe that nothing was more abhorrent to the
Prophet than human sacrifices.
Azim had already sent two disciples to summon the Turk to the presence
of the Grand Marabout, and in due time he appeared--a rough, heavy,
truculent fellow enough, but making awkward salaams as one in great awe
of the presence in which he stood--unwilling awe perhaps--full of
superstitious fear tempered by pride--for the haughty Turks revolted
against homage to one of the subject race of Moors.
His language was only now and then comprehensible to Arthur, but
Ibrahim kept up a running translation into French for his benefit.
There were captives--infidels--saved from the wreck, he knew not how
many, but he was sure of one--a little maid with hair like the unwound
cocoon, so that they called her the Daughter of the Silkworm. It was
about her that the chief struggle was. She had fallen to the lot of
Ben Yakoub, who had been chestnut-gathering by the sea at the time of
the wreck; but when he arrived on Mount Couco the Sheyk Abderrahman had
claimed her and hers as the head of the tribe, and had carried her off
to his own adowara in the valley of Ein Gebel.
The Turk, Murad, had been induced by Yakoub to join him and sixteen
more armed men whom he had got together to demand her. For it was he
who had rescued her from the waves, carried her up the mountains, fed
her all this time, and he would not have her snatched away from him,
though for his part Murad thought it would have been well to be quit of
them, for not only were they Giaours, but he verily believed them to be
of the race of Jinns. The little fair-haired maid had papers with
strange signs on them. She wrote--actually wrote--a thing that he
believed no Sultana Velide even had ever been known to do at Stamboul.
Moreover, she twisted strings about on her hands in a manner that was
fearful to look at. It was said to be only to amuse the children, but
for his part he believed it was for some evil spell. What was certain
was that the other, a woman full grown, could, whenever any one
offended her, raise a Jinn in a cloud of smoke, which caused such
sneezing that she was lost sight of. And yet these creatures had so
bewitched their captors that there were like to be hard blows before
they were disposed of, unless his advice were taken to make an end of
them altogether. Indeed, two of the men, the mad Santon and the chief
slave, had been taken behind a bush to be sacrificed, when the Daughter
of the Silkworm came between with her incantations, and fear came upon
Sheyk Yakoub. Murad evidently thought it highly advisable that the
chief Marabout should intervene to put a stop to these doings, and
counteract the mysterious influence exercised by these strange beings.
High time, truly, Arthur and Ibrahim Aga likewise felt it, to go to
the rescue, since terror and jealousy might, it appeared, at any time
impel ces barbares feroces, as Ibrahim called them, to slaughter their
prisoners. To their great joy, the Marabout proved to be of the same
opinion, in spite of his sickness, which, being an intermitting ague,
would leave him free for a couple of days, and might be driven off by
the mountain air. He promised to set forth early the next day, and
kept the young man and the interpreter as his guests for the night,
Ibrahim going first on board to fetch the parcel of clothes and
provisions which M. Dessault had sent for the Abbe and Mademoiselle de
Bourke, and for an instalment of the ransom, which the Hadji Eseb
assured him might safely be carried under his own sacred protection.
Arthur did not see much of his host, who seemed to be very busy
consulting with his second in command on the preparations, for probably
the expedition was a delicate undertaking, even for him, and his
companions had to be carefully chosen.
Ibrahim had advised Arthur to stay quietly where he was, and not
venture into the city, and he spent his time as he best might by the
help of a narghile, which was hospitably presented to him, though the
strictness of Marabout life forbade the use alike of tobacco and
Before dawn the courts of the house were astir. Mules, handsomely
trapped, were provided to carry the principal persons of the party
wherever it might be possible, and there were some spare ones, ridden
at first by inferiors, but intended for the captives, should they be
It was very cold, being the last week in November, and all were wrapped
in heavy woollen haiks over their white garments, except one wild-
looking fellow, whose legs and arms were bare, and who only seemed to
possess one garment of coarse dark sackcloth. He skipped and ran by
the side of the mules, chanting and muttering, and Ibrahim observed in
French that he was one of the Sunakites, or fanatic Marabouts, and
advised Arthur to beware of him; but, though dangerous in himself, his
presence would be a sufficient protection from all other thieves or
vagabonds. Indeed, Arthur saw the fellow glaring unpleasantly at him,
when the sun summoned all the rest to their morning devotions. He was
glad that he had made the fact of his Christianity known, for he could
no more act Moslem than BE one, and Hadji Eseb kept the Sunakite in
check by a stern glance, so that no harm ensued.
Afterwards Arthur was bidden to ride near the chief, who talked a good
deal, asking intelligent questions. Gibraltar had impressed him
greatly, and it also appeared that in one of his pilgrimages the
merchant vessel he was in had been rescued from some Albanian pirates
by an English ship, which held the Turks as allies, and thus saved them
from undergoing vengeance for the sufferings of the Greeks. Thus the
good old man felt that he owed a debt of gratitude which Allah required
him to pay, even to the infidel.
Up steep roads the mules climbed. The first night the halt was at a
Cabyle village, where hospitality was eagerly offered to persons of
such high reputation for sanctity as the Marabouts; but afterwards
habitations grew more scanty as the ground rose higher, and there was
no choice but to encamp in the tents brought by the attendants, and
which seemed to Arthur a good exchange for the dirty Cabyle huts.
Altogether the journey took six days. The mules climbed along wild
paths on the verge of giddy precipices, where even on foot Arthur would
have hesitated to venture. The scenery would now be thought
magnificent, but it was simply frightful to the mind of the early
eighteenth century, especially when a constant watch had to be kept to
avoid the rush of stones, or avalanches, on an almost imperceptible,
nearly perpendicular path, where it was needful to trust to the
guidance of the Sunakite, the only one of the cavalcade who had been
On the last day they found themselves on the borders of a slope of
pines and other mountain-growing trees, bordering a wide valley or
ravine where the Sunakite hinted that Abderrahman might be found.
The cavalcade pursued a path slightly indicated by the treading of feet
and hoofs, and presently there emerged on them from a slighter side
track between the red stems of the great pines a figure nearly bent
double under the weight of two huge faggots, with a basket of great
solid fir-cones on the top of them. Very scanty garments seemed to be
vouchsafed to him, and the bare arms and legs were so white, as well as
of a length so unusual among Arabs or Moors, that simultaneously the
Marabout exclaimed, 'One of the Giaour captives,' and Arthur cried out,
'La Jeunesse! Laurence!'
There was only just time for a start and a response, 'M. Arture! And
is it yourself?' before a howl of vituperation was heard--of abuse of
all the ancestry of the cur of an infidel slave, the father of
tardiness--and a savage-looking man appeared, brandishing a cudgel,
with which he was about to belabour his unfortunate slave, when he was
arrested by astonishment, and perhaps terror, at the goodly company of
Marabouts. Hadji Eseb entered into conversation with him, and
meanwhile Lanty broke forth, 'O wirrah, wirrah, Master Arthur! an' have
they made a haythen Moor of ye? By the powers, but this is worse than
all. What will Mademoiselle say?--she that has held up the faith of
every one of us, like a little saint and martyr as she is! Though, to
be sure, ye are but a Protestant; only these folks don't know the
'If you would let me speak, Laurence,' said Arthur, 'you would hear
that I am no more a Moslem than yourself, only my Frank dress might
lead to trouble. We are come to deliver you all, with a ransom from
the French Consul. Are you all safe--Mademoiselle and all? and how
many of you?'
'Mademoiselle and M. l'Abbe were safe and well three days since,' said
Lanty; 'but that spalpeen there is my master and poor Victorine's, and
will not let us put a foot near them.'
'Where are they? How many?' anxiously asked Arthur.
'There are five of us altogether,' said Lanty; 'praise be to Him who
has saved us thus far. We know the touch of cold steel at our throats,
as well as ever I knew the poor misthress' handbell; and unless our
Lady, and St. Lawrence, and the rest of them, keep the better watch on
us, the rascals will only ransom us without our heads, so jealous and
bloodthirsty they are. The Bey of Constantina sent for us once, but
all we got by that was worse usage than the very dogs in Paris, and
being dragged up these weary hills, where Maitre Hubert and I carried
Mademoiselle every foot of the way on our backs, and she begging our
pardon so prettily--only she could not walk, the rocks had so bruised
her darlin' little feet.'
'This is their chief holy man, Lanty. If any one can prevail on these
savages to release you it is he.'
'And how come you to be hand and glove with them, Masther Arthur--you
that I thought drownded with poor Madame and the little Chevalier and
'The Chevalier is not drowned, Laurent. He is safe in the Consul's
house at Algiers.'
'Now heaven and all the saints be praised! The Chevalier safe and
well! 'Tis a very miracle!' cried Lanty, letting fall his burthen, as
he clasped his hands in ecstasy and performed a caper which, in spite
of all his master Eyoub's respect for the Marabouts, brought a furious
yell of rage, and a tremendous blow with the cudgel, which Lanty, in
his joy, seemed to receive as if it had been a feather.
Hadji Eseb averted a further blow; and understanding from Arthur that
the poor fellow's transport was caused by the tidings of the safety of
his master's son, he seemed touched, and bade that he and Eyoub should
lead the way to the place of durance of the chief prisoners. On the
way Ibrahim Aga interrogated both Eyoub in vernacular Arabic and Lanty
in French. The former was sullen, only speaking from his evident awe
of the Marabouts, the latter voluble with joy and hope.
Arthur learnt that the letter he had found under the stone was the
fourth that Estelle and Hebert had written. There had been a terrible
journey up the mountains, when Lanty had fully thought Victorine must
close her sufferings in some frightful ravine; but, nevertheless, she
had recovered health and strength with every day's ascent above the
close, narrow valley. They were guarded all the way by Arabs armed to
the teeth to prevent a rescue by the Bey of Constantina.
On their arrival at the valley, which was the headquarters of the
tribe, the sheyk of the entire clan had laid claim to the principal
captives, and had carried off the young lady and her uncle; and in his
dwelling she had a boarded floor to sleep on, and had been made much
more comfortable than in the squalid huts below. Her original master,
Yakoub, had, however, come to seize her, with the force described by
Murad. Then it was that again there was a threat to kill rather than
resign them; but on this occasion it was averted by Sheyk Abderrahman's
son, a boy of about fourteen, who threw himself on his knees before
Mademoiselle, and prayed his father earnestly for her life.
'They spared her then,' said Lanty, 'and, mayhap, worse still may come
of that. Yakoub, the villain, ended by getting her back till they can
have a council of their tribe, and there she is in his filthy hut; but
the gossoon, Selim, as they call him, prowls about the place as if he
were bewitched. All the children are, for that matter, wherever she
goes. She makes cats' cradles for them, and sings to them, and tells
them stories in her own sweet way out of the sacred history--such as
may bring her into trouble one of these days. Maitre Hebert heard her
one day telling them the story of Moses, and he warned her that if she
went on in that fashion it might be the death of us all. "But," says
she, "suppose we made Selim, and little Zuleika, and all the rest of
them, Christians? Suppose we brought all the tribe to come down and
ask baptism, like as St. Nona did in the Lives of the Saints?" He told
her it was more like that they would only get her darling little head
cut off, if no worse, but he could not get her to think that mattered
at all at all. She would have a crown and a palm up in heaven, and
after her name in the Calendar on earth, bless her.'
Then he went on to tell that Yakoub was furious at the notion of
resigning his prize, and (Agamemnon-like) declared that if she were
taken from him he should demand Victorine from Eyoub. Unfortunately
she was recovering her good looks in the mountain air; and, worse
still, the spring of her 'blessed little Polichinelle' was broken,
though happily no one guessed it, and hitherto it had been enough to
show them the box.
CHAPTER XIII--CHRYSEIS AND BRISEIS
Restore, I pray, her proffered ransom take,
And in His priest, the Lord of Light revere.
Then through the ranks assenting murmurs rang,
The priest to reverence, and the ransom take.'
For one moment, before emerging from the forest, looking through an
opening in the trees, down a steep slope, a group of children could be
seen on the grass in front of the huts composing the adowara, little
brown figures in scanty garments, lying about evidently listening
intently to the figure, the gleam of whose blonde hair showed her
instantly to be Estelle de Bourke.
However, either the deputation had been descried, or Eyoub may have
made some signal, for when the calvalcade had wound about through the
remaining trees, and arrived among the huts, no one was to be seen.
There was only the irregular square of huts built of rough stones and
thatched with reeds, with big stones to keep the thatch on in the
storm; a few goats were tethered near, and there was a rush of the
great savage dogs, but they recognised Eyoub and Lanty, and were
'This is the chief danger,' whispered Lanty.
'Pray heaven the rogues do not murder them rather than give them up!'
The Sunakite, beginning to make strange contortions and mutterings in a
low voice, seemed to terrify Eyoub greatly. Whether he pointed it out
or not, or whether Eyoub was induced by his gestures to show it, was
not clear to Arthur's mind; but at the chief abode, an assemblage of
two stone hovels and rudely-built walls, the party halted, and made a
loud knocking at the door, Hadji Eseb's solemn tones bidding those
within to open in the name of Allah.
It was done, disclosing a vista of men with drawn scimitars. The
Marabout demanded without ceremony where were the prisoners.
'At yonder house,' he was answered by Yakoub himself, pointing to the
farther end of the village.
'Dog of a liar,' burst forth the Sunakite. 'Dost thou think to blind
the eyes of the beloved of Allah, who knoweth the secrets of heaven and
earth, and hath the sigil of Suleiman Ben Daoud, wherewith to penetrate
the secret places of the false?'
The ferocious-looking guardians looked at each other as though under
the influence of supernatural terror, and then Hadji Eseb spoke:
'Salaam Aleikum, my children; no man need fear who listens to the will
of Allah, and honours his messengers.'
All made way for the dignified old man and his suite, and they advanced
into the court, where two men with drawn swords were keeping guard over
the captives, who were on their knees in a corner of the court.
The sabres were sheathed, and there was a shuffling away at the
advance of the Marabouts, Sheyk Yakoub making some apology about having
delayed to admit such guests, but excusing himself on the score of
supposing they were emissaries sent by those whose authority he so
defied that he had sworn to slaughter his prisoners rather than
Hadji Eseb replied with a quotation from the Koran forbidding cruelty
to the helpless, and sternly denounced wrath on the transgressors,
bidding Yakoub draw off his savage bodyguard.
The man was plainly alarmed, more especially as the Sunakite broke out
into one of his wild wails of denunciation, waving his hands like a
prophet of wrath, and predicting famine, disease, pestilence, to these
slack observers of the law of Mohammed.
This completed the alarm. The bodyguard fled away pell-mell, Yakoub
after them. His women shut themselves into some innermost recesses,
and the field was left to the Marabouts and the prisoners, who, not
understanding what all this meant, were still kneeling in their corner.
Hadji Eseb bade Arthur and the interpreter go to reassure them.
At their advance a miserable embrowned figure, barefooted and half clad
in a ragged haik, roped round his waist, threw himself before the fair-
haired child, crying out in imperfect Arabic, 'Spare her, spare her,
great Lord! much is to be won by saving her.'
'We are come to save her,' said Arthur in French. 'Maitre Hebert, do
you not know me?'
Hubert looked up. 'M. Arture! M. Arture! Risen from the dead!' he
cried, threw himself into the young man's arms, and burst out into a
vehement sob; but in a second he recovered his manners and fell back,
while Estelle looked up.
'M. Arture,' she repeated. 'Ah! is it you? Then, is my mamma alive
'Alas! no,' replied Arthur; 'but your little brother is safe and well
at Algiers, and this good man, the Marabout, is come to deliver you.'
'My mamma said you would protect us, and I knew you would come, like
Mentor, to save us,' said Estelle, clasping her hands with ineffable
joy. 'Oh, Monsieur! I thank you next to the good God and the saints!'
and she began fervently kissing Arthur's hand. He turned to salute the
Abbe, but was shocked to see how much more vacant the poor gentleman's
stare had become, and how little he seemed to comprehend.
'Ah!' said Estelle, with her pretty, tender, motherly air, 'my poor
uncle has never seemed to understand since that dreadful day when they
dragged him and Maitre Hebert out into the wood and were going to kill
them. And he has fever every night. But, oh, M. Arture, did you say
my brother was safe?' she repeated, as if not able to dwell enough upon
the glad tidings.
'And I hope you will soon be with him,' said Arthur. 'But,
Mademoiselle, let me present you to the Grand Marabout, a sort of
Moslem Abbe, who has come all this way to obtain your release.'
He led Estelle forward, when she made a courtesy fit for her
grandmother's salon, and in very fluent Cabeleyze dialect gave thanks
for the kindness of coming to release her, and begged him to excuse her
uncle, who was sick, and, as you say here, 'stricken of Allah.'
The little French demoiselle's grace and politeness were by no means
lost on the Marabout, who replied to her graciously; and at the sight
of her reading M. Dessault's letter, which the interpreter presented to
her, one of the suite could not help exclaiming, 'Ah! if women such as
this will be went abroad in our streets, there would be nothing to hope
for in Paradise.'
Estelle did not seem to have suffered in health; indeed, in Arthur's
eyes, she seemed in these six weeks to have grown, and to have more
colour, while her expression had become less childish, deeper, and
higher. Her hair did not look neglected, though her dress--the same
dark blue which she had worn on the voyage--had become very ragged and
soiled, and her shoes were broken, and tied on with strips of rag.
She gave a little scream of joy when the parcel of clothes sent by the
French Consul was given to her, only longing to send some to Victorine
before she retired to enjoy the comfort of clean and respectable
clothes; and in the meantime something was attempted for the comfort of
her companions, though it would not have been safe to put them into
Frankish garments, and none had been brought. Poor Hebert was the very
ghost of the stout and important maitre d'hotel, and, indeed, the
faithful man had borne the brunt of all the privations and sufferings,
doing his utmost to shield and protect his little mistress and her
When Estelle reappeared, dressed once more like a little French lady
(at least in the eyes of those who were not particular about fit), she
found a little feast being prepared for her out of the provisions sent
by the consuls; but she could not sit down to it till Arthur, escorted
by several of the Marabout's suite, had carried a share both of the
food and the garments to Lanty and Victorine.
They, however, were not to be found. The whole adowara seemed to be
deserted except by a few frightened women and children, and Victorine
and her Irish swain had no doubt been driven off into the woods by
Eyoub--no Achilles certainly, but equally unwilling with the great
Pelides to resign Briseis as a substitute for Chryseis.
It was too late to attempt anything more that night; indeed, at sundown
it became very cold. A fire was lighted in the larger room, in the
centre, where there was a hole for the exit of the smoke.
The Marabouts seemed to be praying or reciting the Koran on one side of
it, for there was a continuous chant or hum going on there; but they
seemed to have no objection to the Christians sitting together on the
other side conversing and exchanging accounts of their adventures.
Maitre Hebert could not sufficiently dilate on the spirit,
cheerfulness, and patience that Mademoiselle had displayed through all.
He only had to lament her imprudence in trying to talk of the Christian
faith to the children, telling them stories of the saints, and doing
what, if all the tribe had not been so ignorant, would have brought
destruction on them all. 'I would not have Monseigneur there know of
it for worlds,' said he, glancing at the Grand Marabout.
'Selim loves to hear such things,' said Estelle composedly. 'I have
taught him to say the Paternoster, and the meaning of it, and Zuleika
can nearly say them.'
'Misericorde!' cried M. Hubert. 'What may not the child have brought
'Selim will be a chief,' returned Estelle. 'He will make his people do
as he pleases, or he would do so; but now there will be no one to tell
him about the true God and the blessed Saviour,' she added sadly.
'Mademoiselle!' cried Hebert in indignant anger--'Mademoiselle would
not be ungrateful for our safety from these horrors.'
'Oh no!' exclaimed the child. 'I am very happy to return to my poor
papa, and my brothers, and my grandmamma. But I am sorry for Selim!
Perhaps some good mission fathers would go out to them like those we
heard of in Arcadia; and by and by, when I am grown up, I can come back
with some sisters to teach the women to wash their children and not
scold and fight.'
The maitre d'hotel sighed, and was relieved when Estelle retired to the
deserted women's apartments for the night. He seemed to think her
dangerous language might be understood and reported.
The next morning the Marabout sent messengers, who brought back Yakoub
and his people, and before many hours a sort of council was convened in
the court of Yakoub's house, consisting of all the neighbouring heads
of families, brown men, whose eyes gleamed fiercely out from under
their haiks, and who were armed to the teeth with sabres, daggers, and,
if possible, pistols and blunderbusses of all the worn-out patterns in
Europe--some no doubt as old as the Thirty Years War; while those who
could not attain to these weapons had the long spears of their
ancestors, and were no bad representatives of the Amalekites of old.
After all had solemnly taken their seats there was a fresh arrival of
Sheyk Abderrahman and his ferocious-looking following. He himself was
a man of fine bearing, with a great black beard, and a gold-embroidered
sash stuck full of pistols and knives, and with poor Madame de Bourke's
best pearl necklace round his neck. His son Selim was with him, a slim
youth, with beautiful soft eyes glancing out from under a haik, striped
with many colours, such as may have been the coat that marked Joseph as
There were many salaams and formalities, and then the chief Marabout
made a speech, explaining the purpose of his coming, diplomatically
allowing that the Cabeleyzes were not subject to the Dey of Algiers,
but showing that they enjoyed the advantages of the treaty with France,
and that therefore they were bound to release the unfortunate
shipwrecked captives, whom they had already plundered of all their
property. So far Estelle and Arthur, who were anxiously watching,
crouching behind the wall of the deserted house court, could follow.
Then arose yells and shouts of denial, and words too rapid to be
followed. In a lull, Hadji Eseb might be heard proffering ransom,
while the cries and shrieks so well known to accompany bargaining broke
Ibrahim Aga, who stood by the wall, here told them that Yakoub and
Eyoub seemed not unwilling to consent to the redemption of the male
captives, but that they claimed both the females. Hebert clenched his
teeth, and bade Ibrahim interfere and declare that he would never be
set free without his little lady.
Here, however, the tumult lulled a little, and Abderrahman's voice was
heard declaring that he claimed the Daughter of the Silkworm as a wife
for his son.
Ibrahim then sprang to the Marabout's side, and was heard representing
that the young lady was of high and noble blood. To which Abderrahman
replied with the dignity of an old lion, that were she the daughter of
the King of the Franks himself, she would only be a fit mate for the
son of the King of the Mountains. A fresh roar of jangling and
disputing began, during which Estelle whispered, 'Poor Selim, I know he
would believe--he half does already. It would be like Clotilda.'
'And then he would be cruelly murdered, and you too,' returned Arthur.
'We should be martyrs,' said Estelle, as she had so often said before;
and as Hubert shuddered and cried, 'Do not speak of such things,
Mademoiselle, just as there is hope,' she answered, 'Oh no! do not
think I want to stay in this dreadful place--only if I should have to
do so--I long to go to my brother and my poor papa. Then I can send
some good fathers to convert them.'
'Ha!' cried Arthur; 'what now! They are at one another's throats!'
Yakoub and Eyoub with flashing sabres were actually flying at each
other, but Marabouts were seizing them and holding them back, and the
Sunakite's chant arose above all the uproar.
Ibrahim was able to explain that Yakoub insisted that if the mistress
were appropriated by Abderrahman, the maid should be his compensation.
Eyoub, who had been the foremost in the rescue from the wreck, was
furious at the demand, and they were on the point of fighting when thus
withheld; while the Sunakite was denouncing woes on the spoiler and the
lover of Christians, which made the blood of the Cabeleyzes run cold.
Their flocks would be diseased, storms from the mountains would
overwhelm them, their children would die, their name and race be cut
off, if infidel girls were permitted to bewitch them and turn them from
the faith of the Prophet. He pointed to young Selim, and demanded
whether he were not already spellbound by the silken daughter of the
Giaour to join in her idolatry.
There were howls of rage, a leaping up, a drawing of swords, a demand
that the unbelievers should die at once. It was a cry the captives
knew only too well. Arthur grasped a pistol, and loosened his sword,
but young Selim had thrown himself at the Marabout's feet, sobbing out
entreaties that the maiden's life might be saved, and assurances that
he was a staunch believer; while his father, scandalised at such an
exhibition on behalf of any such chattel as a female, roughly snatched
him from the ground, and insisted on his silence.
The Marabouts had, at their chief's signal, ranged themselves in front
of the inner court, and the authority of the Hadji had imposed silence
even on the fanatic. He spoke again, making them understand that
Frankish vengeance in case of a massacre could reach them even in their
mountains when backed by the Dey. And to Abderrahman he represented
that the only safety for his son, the only peace for his tribe, was in
the surrender of these two dangerous causes of altercation.
The 'King of the Mountains' was convinced by the scene that had just
taken place of the inexpedience of retaining the prisoners alive. And
some pieces of gold thrust into his hand by Ibrahim may have shown him
that much might be lost by slaughtering them.
The Babel which next arose was of the amicable bargaining sort. And
after another hour of suspense the interpreter came to announce that
the mountaineers, out of their great respect, not for the Dey, but the
Marabout, had agreed to accept 900 piastres as the ransom of all the
five captives, and that the Marabout recommended an immediate start,
lest anything should rouse the ferocity of the tribe again.
Estelle's warm heart would fain have taken leave of the few who had
been kind to her; but this was impossible, for the women were in
hiding, and she could only leave one or two kerchiefs sent from
Algiers, hoping Zuleika might have one of them. Ibrahim insisted on
her being veiled as closely as a Mohammedan woman as she passed out.
One look between her and Selim might have been fatal to all; though
hers may have been in all childish innocence, she did not know how the
fiery youth was writhing in his father's indignant grasp, forcibly
withheld from rushing after one who had been a new life and revelation
Mayhap the passion was as fleeting as it was violent, but the Marabout
knew it boded danger to the captives to whom he had pledged his honour.
He sent them, mounted on mules, on in front, while he and his company
remained in the rear, watching till Lanty and Victorine were driven up
like cattle by Eyoub, to whom he paid an earnest of his special share
of the ransom. He permitted no pause, not even for a greeting between
Estelle and poor Victorine, nor to clothe the two unfortunates, more
than by throwing a mantle to poor Victorine, who had nothing but a
short petticoat and a scanty, ragged, filthy bournouse. She shrouded
herself as well as she could when lifted on her mule, scarce perhaps
yet aware what had happened to her, only that Lanty was near, muttering
benedictions and thanksgivings as he vibrated between her mule and that
of the Abbe.
It was only at the evening halt that, in a cave on the mountain-side,
Estelle and Victorine could cling to each other in a close embrace with
sobs of joy; and while Estelle eagerly produced clothes from her little
store of gifts, the poor femme de chambre wept for joy to feel indeed
that she was free, and shed a fresh shower of tears of joy at the sight
of a brush and comb.
Lanty was purring over his foster-brother, and cosseting him like a cat
over a newly-recovered kitten, resolved not to see how much shaken the
poor Abbe's intellect had been, and quite sure that the reverend father
would be altogether himself when he only had his soutane again.
'Well hath the Prophet-chief your bidding done.'
MOORE (Lalla Rookh).
Bugia was thoroughly Moorish, and subject to attacks of fanaticism.
Perhaps the Grand Marabout did not wholly trust the Sunakite not to
stir up the populace, for he would not take the recovered captives to
his palace, avoided the city as much as possible, and took them down to
the harbour, where, beside the old Roman quay, he caused his trusty
attendant, Reverdi, to hire a boat to take them out to the French
tartane--Reverdi himself going with them to ensure the fidelity of the
boatmen. Estelle would have kissed the good old man's hand in fervent
thanks, but, child as she was, he shrank from her touch as an unholy
thing; and it was enforced on her and Victorine that they were by no
means to remove their heavy mufflings till they were safe on board the
tartane, and even out of harbour. The Frenchman in command of the
vessel was evidently of the same mind, and, though enchanted to receive
them, sent them at once below. He said his men had been in danger of
being mobbed in the streets, and that there were reports abroad that
the harem of a great Frank chief, and all his treasure, were being
recovered from the Cabeleyzes, so that he doubted whether all the
influence of the Grand Marabout might prevent their being pursued by
Right glad was he to recognise the pennant of the Calypso outside the
harbour, and he instantly ran up a signal flag to intimate success. A
boat was immediately put off from the frigate, containing not only
Lieutenant Bullock, but an officer in scarlet, who had no sooner come
on deck than he shook Arthur eagerly by the hand, exclaiming,
''Tis you, then! I cannot be mistaken in poor Davie's son, though you
were a mere bit bairn when I saw you last!'
'Archie Hope!' exclaimed Arthur, joyfully. 'Can you tell me anything
of my mother?'
'She was well when last I heard of her, only sore vexed that you should
be cut off from her by your own fule deed, my lad! Ye've thought
better of it now?'
Major Hope was here interrupted by the lieutenant, who brought an
invitation from Captain Beresford to the whole French party to bestow
themselves on board the Calypso. After ascertaining that the Marabout
had taken up their cause, and that the journey up Mount Couco and back
again could not occupy less than twelve or fourteen days, he had sailed
for Minorca, where he had obtained sanction to convey any of the
captives who might be rescued to Algiers. He had also seen Major Hope,
who, on hearing of the adventures of his young kinsman, asked leave of
absence to come in search of him, and became the guest of the officers
of the Calypso.
Arthur found himself virtually the head of the party, and, after
consultation with Ibrahim Aga and Maitre Hebert, it was agreed that
there would be far more safety, as well as better accommodation, in the
British ship than in the French tartane, and Arthur went down to
communicate the proposal to Estelle, whom the close, little, evil-
smelling cabin was already making much paler than all her privations
'An English ship,' she said. 'Would my papa approve?' and her little
prim diplomatic air sat comically on her.
'Oh yes,' said Arthur. 'He himself asked the captain to seek for you,
Mademoiselle. There is peace between our countries, you know.'
'That is good,' she said, jumping up. 'For oh! this cabin is worse
than it is inside Yakoub's hut! Oh take me on deck before I am ill!'
She was able to be her own little charming French and Irish self when
Arthur led her on deck; and her gracious thanks and pretty courtesy
made them agree that it would have been ten thousand pities if such a
creature could not have been redeemed from the savage Arabs.
The whole six were speedily on board the Calypso, where Captain
Beresford received the little heroine with politeness worthy of her own
manners. He had given up his own cabin for her and Victorine,
purchased at Port Mahon all he thought she could need, and had even
recollected to procure clerical garments for the Abbe--a sight which
rejoiced Lanty's faithful heart, though the poor Abbe was too ill all
the time of the voyage to leave his berth. Arthur's arrival was
greeted by the Abyssinian with an inarticulate howl of delight, as the
poor fellow crawled to his feet, and began kissing them before he could
prevent it. Fareek had been the pet of the sailors, and well taken
care of by the boatswain. He was handy, quick, and useful, and Captain
Bullock thought he might pick up a living as an attendant in the
galley; but he showed that he held himself to belong absolutely to
Arthur, and rendered every service to him that he could, picking up
what was needful in the care of European clothes by imitation of the
captain's servant, and showing a dexterity that made it probable that
his cleverness had been the cause of the loss of a tongue that might
have betrayed too much. To young Hope he seemed like a sacred legacy
from poor Tam, and a perplexing one, such as he could hardly leave in
his dumbness to take the chances of life among sailors.
His own plans were likewise to be considered, and Major Hope concerned
himself much about them. He was a second cousin--a near relation in
Scottish estimation--and no distant neighbour. His family were Tories,
though content to submit to the House of Hanover, and had always been
on friendly terms with Lady Hope.
'I writ at once, on hearing of you, to let her know you were in
safety,' said the major. 'And what do you intend the noo?'
'Can I win home?' anxiously asked Arthur. 'You know I never was
'And what would ye do if you were at home?'
'I should see my mother.'
'Small doubt of the welcome she would have for you, my poor laddie,'
said the major; 'but what next?' And as Arthur hesitated, 'I misdoubt
greatly whether Burnside would give you a helping hand if you came
fresh from colloguing with French Jacobites, though my father and all
the rest of us at the Lynn aye told him that he might thank himself and
his dour old dominie for your prank--you were but a schoolboy then--you
are a man now; and though your poor mother would be blithe to set eyes
on you, she would be sairly perplexed what gate you had best turn
thereafter. Now, see here! There's talk of our being sent to dislodge
the Spaniards from Sicily. You are a likely lad, and the colonel would
take my word for you if you came back with me to Port Mahon as a
volunteer; and once under King George's colours, there would be
pressure enough from all of us Hopes upon Burnside to gar him get you a
commission, unless you win one for yourself. Then you could gang hame
when the time was served, a credit and an honour to all!'
'I had rather win my own way than be beholden to Burnside,' said
Arthur, his face lighting at the proposal.
'Hout, man! That will be as the chances of war may turn out. As to
your kit, we'll see to that! Never fear. Your mother will make it
'Thanks, Archie, with all my heart, but I am not so destitute,' and he
mentioned Yusuf's legacy, which the major held that he was perfectly
justified in appropriating; and in answer to his next question, assured
him that he would be able to retain Fareek as his servant.
This was enough for Arthur, who knew that the relief to his mother's
mind of his safety and acceptance as a subject would outweigh any
disappointment at not seeing his face, when he would only be an
unforgiven exile, liable to be informed against by any malicious
He borrowed materials, and had written a long letter to her before the
Calypso put in at Algiers. The little swift tartane had forestalled
her; and every one was on the watch, when Estelle, who had been treated
like a little princess on board, was brought in the long-boat with all
her party to the quay. Though it was at daybreak, not only the
European inhabitants, but Turks, Arabs, Moors, and Jews thronged the
wharf in welcome; and there were jubilant cries as all the five
captives could be seen seated in the boat in the light of the rising
M. Dessault, with Ulysse in his hand, stood foremost on the quay, and
the two children were instantly in each other's embrace. Their uncle
had to be helped out. He was more bewildered than gratified by the
welcome. He required to be assured that the multitudes assembled meant
him no harm, and would not move without Lanty; and though he bowed low
in return to M. Dessault's greeting, it was like an automaton, and with
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