Part 3 out of 10
Once more there was breathless silence, and the sheik proceeded in
"State to the tschorbadji that, by the will of Allah, we have been
pursued by storms and misfortunes. We submit to the will of Allah,
and pray to the prophet, to implore him to be merciful to us. If he
hears our prayers, and the next harvest is blessed, and the fish are
plentiful in our nets, and if then the purses of the people of
Praousta are again filled, they will gladly pay the tschorbadji the
accustomed tax, but not a double tax."
"No, not a double tax!" shrieked the men. "We must pay, that the
tschorbadji may live in pride and splendor with his aristocratic
guest, who keeps a harem, and has himself borne about in a
palanquin, or rides a splendid horse through the streets, while we
have to content ourselves with humbly walking. No, we pay no more
for the tschorbadji and his aristocratic guest. Long live our sheik,
who stands by us! Go up, officers, and deliver the message he has
The officers, frightened and trembling, were well pleased to escape
unharmed from the raging crowd. They passed hurriedly through the
narrow passage which was opened for them on the way toward Cavalla.
"Long live our sheik! Allah be praised for him!" cried the men,
raising him and the three ulemas, in their enthusiasm, on their
shoulders, and carrying them to their dwellings.
"You stood by us, 0 sheik, and we wish to thank you," said Abdallah,
speaking for all, when they had put the sheik down before his house.
"I stand by you," answered the sheik, giving his hand to all, "but
you must stand by each other. We have held a council through the
entire night, and we have concluded that the demand is unjust, and
have therefore, in the name of the people, declined to meet it. Now,
however, you must not be intimidated; you must be firm. Then no one
will dare to molest us."
"We will be firm in what we have determined, and not give way,"
cried they all. "Long live the sheik and the ulemas!"
"Now return quietly to your houses, and wait to see what the
tschorbadji will do," said the sheik. "We shall see if he is content
with your refusal."
The men obeyed the order of the sheik, and went to their huts, to
await there the next movement.
The two officers returned, with rapid steps, to Cavalla.
The governor was seated in the hall, with his favorite, his Osman,
by whose side was Mohammed, who had yielded to the entreaties of his
friend, and spent the last few months with him.
Osman considered it a great kindness that Mohammed had, at last,
agreed to his wishes, and had remained with him at night. When the
governor looked joyfully at his son, and said he had never seen him
so gay and happy, Osman smiled and nodded toward Mohammed. "You
should thank Mohammed; as long as he remains in our house, the air
seems purer and fresher to me. He alone understands how to make me
well, and, if I could always have him with me, I would be the
happiest of men."
The tschorbadji offered his hand to Mohammed, bowing and smiling
kindly. "Mohammed, I wish you would, at last, yield to the united
prayers of my son and myself, and would consent to live in this
house. Let me have two sons, and I shall be doubly rich."
"In veneration I will be your son," replied Mohammed, pressing the
governor's hand to his brow; "I will obey you in all things! One
thing alone do not demand--that I shall irrevocably relinquish my
freedom. Let me come and go at my pleasure. Love always draws me
back to my Osman, even when, in the restlessness of my heart, I
wander on the sea, or in the mountains, or remain solitary in my
silent hut. Friendship for you has bound chains about my soul, and I
must always return. Leave to me the feeling of independence, or I
shall not be happy."
Osman nodded smilingly to him. "It shall be as you wish, and we will
never weary him again, my father, with our prayers. He will return
to us, he says, and Mohammed always keeps his word. But look, father
what can be the matter with these two officers who are hurrying
"They seem to have met with some misfortune; they look pale and
excited, and are coming here without being announced," he said,
rising from his cushions, and beckoning to the collectors, who had
remained respectfully standing at the entrance, to come forward.--
"Well, what is the matter? You look as disturbed as if something
dreadful had happened to you!"
"Yes, governor, something dreadful has happened," they answered,
bowing deeply. "We have been down to Praousta, as your excellency
ordered, to collect the double tax."
"And you have brought the gold with you, and given it to my
"No, we have not brought it."
"Not brought it!" exclaimed the tschorbadji, with the utmost
astonishment; "I send you to collect the taxes, and you return
without the money. Have thieves fallen upon you, and robbed you? My
collectors have allowed the gold to be taken from them, and now dare
to appear, empty-handed, before me!"
"O governor, we are innocent," replied the men. "No thieves took the
money from us, but the men of Praousta have revolted; they have
assembled together in the market place, and have solemnly declared
that they will never pay the double tax!"
While they were making their report, Mohammed sprung from his seat,
and listened breathlessly to them.
"They refused to pay the tax," said the tschorbadji, in an angry
voice. "And did you not go to the sheik and ulemas?"
"The men of Praousta went themselves, and brought out the sheik and
the ulemas, that they might speak decisively for all. We were to
take their answer to the tschorbadji."
"And they did this?" cried Mohammed, forgetting all proper
reverence, and speaking to the men in the presence of the governor.
"Yes, they did this," returned the collectors, breathing hard.
"What did they say!" demanded the tschorbadji, excitedly.
"The sheik looked at us contemptuously, and ordered us to state to
the tschorbadji that Praousta had no thought of paying either the
double or the simple tax."
"And the ulemas?" asked Osman, rising from his couch, "did they
confirm what the sheik said?"
"Yes, sir, they confirmed what the sheik said," answered the
"It is then an open revolt," cried the outraged tschorbadji. "They
refuse obedience to my commands!"
"Yes, they refuse to obey you!" repeated the collectors. "Every
fisherman has armed himself with sword and knife, and swears to die
sooner than pay this unjust tax, as they call it."
"And you allowed yourselves to be frightened by such words," cried
Mohammed, with flaming eyes. " And you did not fall upon them, sword
in hand, to force them to their duty!"
"We were but two against fifty!"
"Two men against fifty cowards! I should think the men would have
carried the day. But you are not men; you did not even draw your
swords and fell this seditious sheik to the earth!"
"The people would have torn us to pieces!" exclaimed the collectors,
"if we had attempted it."
"You would have perished in the fulfilment of your duty!" cried
Mohammed. "Far better that, than to return home with the knowledge
that you had acted as cowards!"
Osman looked wonderingly at his friend, while the tschorbadji stood
lost in thought, his countenance growing darker and darker.
"This is revolt--rebellion!" he said, after a pause. "What shall I
do? The men of Praousta are remarkable for their strength, as well
as for their free and independent opinions."
He ordered the collectors to leave the room, and await his call
without; then paced thoughtfully up and down. The two young men
dared not disturb him.
"I do not know what to do," he said, after a long silence. "I have
no military force, and in Praousta dwell more than fifty brave, bold
men. You know I have only fifty collectors in my service in all the
districts of the peninsula. I do not know where to begin; even if I
had the men, I would very unwillingly use force. I believe the best
thing I can do would be to go down, with a few servants, to the
village, and seek, by kind words, to quiet the people, and induce
them to pay the tax. What do you think, my son, Osman?"
Mohammed listened, with flashing eyes, to the tschorbadji; and
breathlessly awaited Osman's answer. But Osman only looked at his
friend, and said to his father, "Ask Mohammed what he thinks."
"Well, then, you speak, Mohammed," said the tschorbadji; "what do
you think of my proposition?"
"I think that such a thing should never be permitted. It does not
become you to go and beg, when you should command, governor," he
cried. "Will you empower me to collect the tax?"
"How will you do it?" asked the tschorbadji, with a doubting smile.
"That is my secret, governor. Give me authority to treat with the
rebels, and give me, in addition, two collectors and six armed
"I will give you my small body-guard. They are eight in number, and
I give you full authority to collect the tax."
"I thank you, governor," cried Mohammed, with a beaming face. "You
have given me a weighty commission, and you shall see that I will
justify the confidence you place in me. I will go at once."
"Do so, and I will order my men to obey you in all things," said the
"Farewell, my Osman," cried Mohammed his whole being as full of
energy and determination as if he were going to battle. He bowed
smilingly to his friend, and passed from the hall with a firm step.
The collectors received the tschorbadji's order, to return to
Praousta with Mohammed, with bowed heads and anxious countenances.
"They will murder us." groaned one of them. "They are all armed with
swords and knives, and they will tear our arms from us at once."
"If they should tear your arms from you, and you do not fall upon
them, with tooth and nail," cried Mohammed, with determined look,
"you are nothing but cowards, and I will kill you with my own hand."
The tschorbadji had, in the mean time, called his small body guard
together, and commanded them to go down to Praousta with Mohammed,
and to obey him in all things.
"Come, then, my men, let us go," cried Mohammed.
The tschorbadji detained him a moment. "Will you not take a weapon,
you are entirely unarmed?"
"Yes, I will take a weapon. Not that I fear for myself; no, I have
no fear; but I will make one more combatant against the rebels. Give
me a sword and a pistol."
The tschorbadji himself brought both to him, and then bade him
Mohammed, at the head of the eight soldiers and the two collectors,
went down the mountain path to the village. There every thing had
become quiet. Obeying the words of the sheik, the men had gone to
their huts, and did not see that Mohammed and his followers had
entered the great mosque, which stood at the entrance of the
village. Then Mohammed bowed down within the holy of holies, and,
turning his head toward Mecca, prayed in a low voice to the prophet
"Thou seest, my lord and God, that I have raised my foot to take the
first step on the way to my great future. Uphold my feet, let me not
fall into the abyss of forgetfulness. Give me strength, that I may
go forward without fainting. Be with me, Mohammed, thou great
prophet. Permit thy stars to be a light unto me, and be merciful to
the poorest of thy servants!"
Then, raising himself proudly up, he ordered the soldiers to close
three of the entrances of the mosque, and to leave only the
principal door open.
"Now draw your swords. Four of you remain with me in the mosque-the
four others go down to the sheik and the ulemas. Inform them that an
ambassador has come from the tschorbadji, to bring them an important
message. Each of you three must bring one of the ulemas with you,
and the fourth must bring the sheik here to me. Go at once, and
return quickly.-And you," he said, turning to the four who remained
behind, "swear to me, in the name of Allah and the prophet, that you
will be hewn in pieces sooner than yield to the rebels!"
They all swore, placing their hands upon their swords, that they
would be hewn in pieces sooner than yield. Mohammed nodded
graciously to them.
"Good! When the soldiers bring the men we will surround them, and
the rest will follow."
Their hands upon their swords, the soldiers stood waiting beside the
Mohammed remained silent and thoughtful in the middle of the mosque.
He felt that a great, an important moment had come for him. He
thought of his mother. "She hovers over me; she looks down, and sees
her son enter on a new life. When I leave the mosque, I will be no
longer the poor, despised boy; I will have proved myself a man. O my
mother, look down on me, and pray to Allah to be merciful to me!"
A dark shadow crossed the rays of the sun which fell through the
open door. It was one of the soldiers who came in with the sheik.
Mohammed did not step forward to meet him, as he should have done,
out of respect for the old man, with his white beard. To-day he was
no longer the poor boy, who must bow down before his superiors. He
was himself one of the powers that be. He held his head aloft while
the sheik approached.
"I was summoned in the name of the tschorbadji," said the sheik,
looking with astonishment at Mohammed. "It is very strange that I
find here no one but Mohammed Ali, the son of Ibrahim Aga. Had I
known that the tschorbadji had sent a boy to me, I would have
required him to bring me the message."
"I summoned you in the name of the tscborbadji, and in his name I
stand here!" said Mohammed, proudly. "I am not a boy, as you are
pleased to call me, but an acknowledged authority. I have received
my authority from the tschorbadji, and I demand submission from
"Submission to you!" exclaimed the sheik, with a contemptuous
Mohammed's eyes flashed fiercely, as he placed his hand
threateningly on his pistol.
"Yes, you the sheik, must yield to me. See! there are the others who
dared to revolt. -Guard the sheik well, you men; the ulemas also!"
The latter had now approached, accompanied by the soldiers, and
Mohammed informed them that he, in the name of the tschorbadji,
insisted upon their gathering in the taxes.
"We cannot and will not do it!" answered the sheik, proudly. "It is
an injustice to demand the double tax, and it, would be folly to pay
it. It is our duty to protect the community, and we will do it!"
"Well, do as you will!" cried Mohammed, with flashing eyes. "Who
dares to preach rebellion shall surely die!--Hold fast these rebels,
my men, bind their hands behind their backs with their own scarfs,
and lead them to the governor's house. There let their heads fall,
that all may know how justice punishes the rebellious."
"Help! help!" cried the sheik and the ulemas. "Help!"
Their cries resounded far and wide, and, while the soldiers were
binding the ulemas and the sheik with their own scarfs, the armed
people came pressing forward to the open door of the mosque.
Mohammed looked toward them with the raging glance of a lion.
"Who enters here, meets his death!" he cried, in a voice of thunder.
The men without shrunk back before the soldiers' gleaming weapons,
and hastened to the other doors, but they found them all closed,
only the one entrance was open, the one at which the collectors
Within lay the sheik and the ulemas, all bound, upon their knees,
praying the men of Praousta to come to their help. The men sought
once more to storm the entrance, and once more they were repulsed.
"I swear, by Allah and the prophet, that the rebels shall die if
they do not submit!" cried Mohammed, aloud. "Place your daggers at
The soldiers did as they were ordered, and their prisoners lay, with
widely-extended eyes, and shrieks on their parted lips which they
dared not utter, for fear the sword-points would pierce their
breasts. Mohammed stood erect beside them, his hand on his sword.
Suddenly a piercing, terrific cry arose from the midst of the crowd,
and a slender female figure, clad entirely in white, the face
concealed by a veil, rushed into the mosque. The soldiers dared not
repulse her as they had done the men, as she flew past them toward
that dreadful group.
"My father, my father!" she cries, in wildly-imploring tones. "If
you must die, I will die with you!"
A strange tremor seizes on Mohammed; that wonderful voice thrills
him to his very heart.
The veiled one sinks down at his feet, and raises her arms
pleadingly to him.
"If you kill him, kill me also!"
In her passionate gestures she seizes her veil with her clasped
hands and tears it from her face.
Mohammed saw now for the first time the youthful and beautiful face
of the fair girl who was called the "Flower of Praousta." Her great
black eyes were fastened imploringly on his. Her scarlet lips
quivered as she repeated, "Oh, kill him not, but, if you must, then
let me die with him!"
He looked at her as if he felt some witchcraft at work, then
suddenly bent down and drew the veil over her face, as if he dared
no longer look on her beauty.
"Leave this place, I do not fight with women," he said, and his
voice sounded almost like that of a man.
"Be merciful," she prayed, but there was a change in her voice also,
it was no longer so humble, but trembled with inward emotion.
He turned from her.
"Return to your home," he said, in a commanding voice. "First,
however, tell your father that he must submit himself, and prevail
upon these rebels to become obedient. If he succeeds, I swear, in
the name of Allah, that he shall return with you to his home. Speak
to him, and prove the power of your words."
"Return, Masa," said the sheik, in an unfaltering voice. "It was
most improper for you to come here. You did it from love to me,
therefore it must be pardoned. Now, however, I order you to go home,
and remain there, as it becomes a woman. I, however, praise Allah;
he alone must decide my fate, and the fate of all."
"No, father, I cannot leave you," cried Masa, breathlessly, pressing
her father's hands to her lips. "Remember, you are the Lord of my
life, the light of my eyes! Remember that I have no one but you in
all the world, and that your Masa is as solitary as in a wilderness
when you are not beside her. Remember that, O my father!"
"Enough!" interrupted Mohammed, in a harsh voice. "Enough words.--
You there, you men of Praousta, will you pay the tax, the double
tax, as the tschorbadji has ordered?"
The men, who had pressed close against the high porch outside the
mosque, remained silent for a moment and looked hesitatingly before
"Will you pay it?" repeated Mohammed. "You will, I am sure."
"No!" cried the sheik, aloud. "You will not, you shall not, pay this
"No," repeated the three ulemas. "No, you will not, you shall not,
pay this tax!"
Then suddenly, as if inspired by the bold words of the four
prisoners, the men held themselves more erect, and, looking
threateningly at Mohammed and at the soldiers, repeated what the
ulemas had said. "No, we will not, we will not pay the tschorbadji
the double tax! We will pay neither the double nor the simple tax!"
"Good! you have spoken," said Mohammed. "Your fate is decided, and
that of these men also!--Collectors, lock the door."
Masa uttered a cry, and, rushing to Mohammed, clung wildly to his
"Mercy, lord, have mercy! Think of your own father, think of your
mother! If you have a mother that you love, oh, think of her!"
He pushed her roughly and hastily from him. That word pierced his
heart like a knife, and still he dared not listen to it.
There was a threatening murmur among the men, and several sought to
press forward, but the collectors threatened them with instant death
if they came forward a single step.
Two of the soldiers approached the young girl to carry her out.
"Let no one dare touch me, or I will throw myself on your swords!"
she cried. "If I must go, I will do so. But on you be the blood of
my father if it is shed! I tell you, if you murder him, I will die
also; and if you have a father or a mother in heaven, I will accuse
you, young man!"
She uttered these words in a ringing voice, then flew toward the
door. The soldiers pushed her out, and the collectors threw the
iron-bound doors together.
"Now I turn to you," said Mohammed, breathing more freely, and
looking toward the sheik and the ulemas.
"Will you murder us?" asked the sheik Alepp, as he looked with calm
dignity at the young man.
"No, if your blood must flow, so be it upon your own head," answered
Mohammed, earnestly. "You alone shall decide your own life or death,
and that of your three companions.--Come, soldiers, open this door;
we go out this way."
The soldiers obeyed, and opened the door on that side of the mosque
which lay nearest the mountain stairway.
The sheik and the ulemas, soldiers accompanying them, passed out,
Mohammed in front of them, his drawn sword in his hand. Behind them
came the collectors, with pikes in their hands.
Silently they went on their way toward the mountain-path.
The men who had waited, uncertain what to do, before the door of the
mosque, now went round to the side, and with out-cries of rage
pointed out to one another the road to the mountain-path.
When Mohammed heard this outcry, he stood still, and motioned to the
soldiers to go forward with the prisoners. "Remain at my side,
collectors, we will cover the rear. Forward, now! go up the
And while those went upward, Mohammed remained at the foot of the
mountain. On either side the collectors, and in front of him all the
fishermen of Praousta, more than fifty men, with threatening looks
and burning eyes. But still, although they muttered and quarrelled,
and even raised their fists, they dared not approach this young man,
whose countenance was so determined, so full of energy, whose cheeks
were so pale, and on whose mouth rested so threatening an
expression. He must have appeared to them like the angel of death,
and each one feared that if he approached he would sink down and
Mohammed paid no attention to the threatening group of men. His eye
looked beyond them--there, behind the men, where the veiled white
figure stood, supported by two women.
He looked toward her, and the ringing tones of the young girl's
voice sounded in his heart, and he seemed to hear the words: "If you
have a mother you love, then think of her!"
He thought of her, and a deep sigh escaped his soul. But, still, he
must be a man now. He had sworn to bring the rebels of Praousta back
to obedience. He must keep his word, and he will do it. "If she has
swooned away, she will awake and forget her grief. Women are readily
grieved, but their grief is easily dissipated. She will know how to
console herself; and as for me, I will forget her, I will never give
her another thought."
He said this defiantly to himself, and looked again at the men of
Praousta, who were still standing irresolute and murmuring near the
mosque, not daring to approach the three armed men. "He certainly
would not have come alone, he would not dare to remain standing
there, if his comrades were not concealed somewhere up there in the
"Yes, they are standing there listening, and, if we should charge
upon them, they would fire at us, and we should all be lost. No, we
will be cautious; but this is certain, we will not pay the tax; the
sheik has commanded it, and the ulemas have decided; therefore we
will not pay."
"No, we will not pay," repeated all the other men. No longer loud
and defiant, but in low voices one to another, and their eyes turned
suspiciously toward the three figures, and then up the mountain-
path, toward the rocks behind which they believed the sharp-shooters
Mohammed looked also toward the mountain-path, and, seeing that the
prisoners and their guard had reached the top of the mountain, he
turned toward the fishermen
"Ismail, Marut, Berutti," he cried, "do you not recognize me, you
know Mohammed Ali, son of Ibrahim?"
"Yes, we know you, and we would not have believed that the son of
Ibrahim Aga could have become a spy upon his old friends."
"I am not a spy, I am only a servant of that law and justice which
you wish to violate. Step nearer, and listen to what I have to say
They came cautiously, hesitatingly, a few steps nearer, and again
looked anxiously toward the mountain.
"What have you to say, Mohammed, son of Ibrahim Aga?--but remember
that one who--"
"Silence!" commanded Mohammed; "I shall remember what is necessary,
and I do not need the advice of rebels and rioters. I did not call
upon you to speak, but to listen to what I have to say. Hearken, men
of Praousta, in the name of the tschorbadji! I give you until early
to-morrow morning to decide; if, at the hour of second prayers, you
have not sent three men to the palace of the tschorbadji, double the
amount that you have formerly paid, the sheik and the three ulemas
will lose their heads for your disobedience, and you will be the
murderers of four of the first men of Praousta."
He slightly lowered his gleaming sword, and, as a farewell greeting,
turned and walked up the mountain-path, not swiftly, not hastily, as
if he feared the men would fall upon him, but slowly, step by step,
not even glancing back to see if the crowd were following him,
quietly, sword in hand, and in front of him the two collectors.
PARADISE AND HELL.
THE FLOWER OF PRAOUSTA.
The tschorbadji was in great uneasiness since Mohammed had gone on
his expedition to the rebellious village, and his son was profoundly
troubled and apprehensive. He could not endure to remain in the
broad hall which led to the garden, but followed his father to the
great saloon which commanded a view of the court-yard through which
Mohammed must come. He laid himself upon the divan, while his father
walked up and down with heavy steps, pausing occasionally at the
window looking into the court-yard, and then rapidly continuing his
walk. Suddenly the door opened, and two slaves appeared in
magnificent Grecian costume, richly embroidered, and placed
themselves at the open door. Then a third stepped forth, and
announced in a loud voice, "His excellency Cousrouf Pacha!" His
excellency entered, splendidly dressed, in a long velvet mantle,
trimmed with rare fur, in his turban a star of the most brilliant
diamonds flashed, and in the Persian shawl folded around his waist
glittered a dagger, studded with costly gems.
It was a splendid sight--the tall, proud man as he stood in the
widely-opened door; the richly-dressed slaves at his side, and
behind him his secretary, in white, gold-embroidered robe, holding
the staff aloft.
The tschorbadji stepped toward him with a respectful air and a
forced smile. Osman arose slowly from the divan, and bowed
profoundly before his excellency.
The sharp glance of the pacha read at once, in the face of father
and son, that he was unwelcome, and told them so in a soft, friendly
voice. The tschorbadji protested, in flowery words and flattering
terms, which he knew would please Cousrouf Pacha, that he was
unutterably happy, inexpressibly flattered and delighted, at the
presence of his excellency.
Cousrouf Pacha replied with a gracious inclination of his stately
head, and appeared to find it perfectly natural that every one
should feel delighted when his excellency approached.
"Tell me, tschorbadji," he said, taking the place of honor on the
divan, and motioning the slave to bring him his gold-and-diamond-
studded chibouque--" tell me, tsohorbadji, is it true that the
village of Praousta is in revolt?"
"Unfortunately, your excellency, it is true," sighed the
tschorbadji; "the men have revolted, they will not pay the double
"Dogs! dogs! that are barking a little," said Cousrouf, with a
contemptuous shrug of his shoulders. "I think, tschorbadji, you
would do well to quiet them quickly."
"I hope my messenger will succeed in repressing the revolt, in
quieting the men, and in inducing them to do their duty."
"What!" exclaimed Cousrouf, with a contemptuous curl of his lip,
"you intend to make terms with the rebels?"
"I shall try to induce the men to do their duty."
"You surely do not consider that rebels are criminals most deserving
of death," said Cousrouf, with flashing eyes. "Dogs are shot when
they are mad, and rebels are but mad dogs."
"I beg your pardon, excellency," said the tschorbadji, his gentle
face assuming a severer expression than it had yet worn before his
excellency--" I beg your pardon, but this small island is not so
rich in men that we can afford to shoot them like dogs, and,
moreover, excepting this, the people are good, industrious, and
willing to provide for their families. This year they have had a bad
harvest, and but little profit, and were incensed at having to pay
"And why double taxes?" asked Cousrouf Pacba, with a contemptuous
"Do not ask me, excellency," replied the tschorbadji, with a bow;
"one portion of the taxes goes as usual to Stamboul, into the
coffers of his highness; the other portion--"
"Ah, I understand," said Cousrouf, with a proud smile; "the other
portion is, through an order from Stamboul, destined for me. That is
so, is it not, tschorbadji?"
"Yes, excellency, if you wish to know the truth, it is."
"And these dogs refuse to pay for the benefit of Cousrouf Pacha, the
grand-vizier of his highness, the friend and comrade of the Admiral
Hussein, and you will not shoot them down like mad dogs,
tachorbadji; you wish to negotiate with these audacious men, who
mock at my greatness in refusing me the tribute! These slaves
believe that, because Cousrouf Pacha condescends to live in this
desolate place--this miserable nest they can mock and deny me their
respect with impunity. But I tell you, tschorbadji, I tell you, and
all the men of Praousta and Cavalla, you shall remember this day! If
these men do not submit, if they do not pay what they ought to pay,
then you may all beware, for a day will come, and, by Allah, it is
not far off, when Cousrouf Pacha will leave his exile with new
honors! Remember this, tschorbadji, and act accordingly."
"I shall remember it, excellency," said the tschorbadji,
respectfully; "I have never failed in reverence and respect to the
noble guest whom his highness graciously sent here; I accepted it as
a favor, and during my entire life I shall remember the days that it
pleased Cousrouf Pacha to become a guest in my house."
The words of the tschorbadji, humbly and respectfully as they were
spoken, rankled in the sensitive soul of the proud pacha. He
started, and his brow darkened. He had partaken of the tschorbadji's
hospitality, and had never thanked him for it, and never returned
it. The tax that the men of Praousta were commanded to pay, was by
an order from Stamboul, destined for Cousrouf Pacha, and this was a
sign to the proud man that his sun was in the ascendant, that he
would soon be released from his exile, and therefore he was defiant
and haughty toward the tschorbadji.
At the angry words of the pacha, Osman, the usually mild and gentle
youth, arose from the divan, and placed himself at his father's
side, as if he wished to defend the tschorbadji from the proud and
mocking words of the stranger.
The father felt and understood what was passing in the youth's soul;
he laid his hand softly upon his shoulder. "Calm yourself, my son;
may the rights of a guest be as sacred to you as to me--his
excellency has been our esteemed guest for three years, remember
this, and forget that he was a little hard just now. Allah be with
him! Allah make all our hearts tender and gentle!"
"You must remember, pacha, that here, in our small portion of the
great world, we cannot make so great and magnificent a display as
you can make in your brilliant career in the great city of Stamboul.
We have no soldiers here except my small body-guard of eight men;
the rest of our small military force is now stationed elsewhere. It
would be very unfortunate if I should incite to violence the men
who, even if armed with knives only, would still be able to
overpower us all. It will therefore be better to negotiate with them
than to proceed to extreme measures."
"Well, what course have you decided upon?" asked Cousrouf, in a
"Mohammed Ali, the friend of my son, Osman, has pledged himself to
bring the rebels to reason; I have given him my body-guard of eight
men, and he has gone down to Praousta."
"Gone to this seditious village, where more than fifty strong men
are in revolt!" exclaimed Cousrouf. "Truly such daring reflects
honor upon the young lad."
"Upon what young lad?" asked Osman, in seeming surprise; "of whom
does your excellency speak?"
"Of the young lad your father spoke of; he who volunteered to settle
this difficulty. Is he your slave, or your freedman, of whom you
make a companion because unfortunately you can find here no better
"He is my friend," said Osman, in a calm, firm voice, "my best
friend, and I trust that all who honor my father's house with their
visits will observe a proper respect to the friend of his son. I
expect this, and, if need be, will require it, for--"
"Here comes Mohammed!" cried the governor, rejoicing at any
occurrence which interrupted his son's speech. "Here comes Mohammed,
and with him four prisoners. By Allah! it is the sheik and the three
ulemas of Praousta! The soldiers are conducting them; their hands
are bound behind their backs. Mohammed is a bold fellow; he has made
prisoners of four of the richest and most influential men of the
village, and is bringing them here. I must speak with him." The
governor arose hastily, but Cousrouf Pacha seized his arm and held
him back forcibly. "Tschorbadji, it becomes your ambassador to seek
you and give an account of his mission. I myself will hear him."
Still holding the tschorbadji's arm, he stepped to the divan, seated
himself, and drew the governor down beside him. And now the door was
opened, and Mohammed, with glowing cheeks and ardent eyes, holding
his sword aloft, entered the room. He advanced rapidly across the
spacious saloon to the tschorbadji, lowered his sword before him,
and bestowed a kindly glance on his friend Osman, who came forward
to greet him. With a few hasty words he explained to the tschorbadji
the events which had taken place; only when he spoke of the young
girl did his voice falter, but he made slight mention of her, and
passed on to narrate the conclusion of his bold adventure.
"So you have really made prisoners of four of the first men of
Praousta and brought them here!" said the tschorbadji, completely
taken by surprise. "Tell me what shall be done with them? It surely
cannot be your intention to put these men to death if the tax is not
"Most certainly, sir, that is my intention," said Mohammed, throwing
back his head proudly. "They are all rebels, and the ulemas and the
sheik were their leaders--these, sir, were the men who counselled
the people not to pay the taxes. It is according to law that the
heads of the leaders of a rebellion should fall, and fall their
heads shall, for I have sworn it; if three men are not sent to-
morrow morning from Praousta, at the hour of prayer, with the double
tax, the heads of the prisoners shall answer for its payment!"
"But this is impossible," said the tschorbadji, whose tender heart
was moved by Mohammed's threatening words. "This is impossible; I
cannot allow these men to be executed."
"I have sworn it shall be done, and it must be done, unless you wish
to see your authority overthrown."
"But how can it be done?" exclaimed the tschorbadji, pale with
anxiety and horror. "Who will put these men to death? I have no
"If necessary," said Mohammed, his eyes flashing with resolve--"If
necessary, I will behead them myself."
"Bravely said!" cried Cousrouf Pacha, rising from his seat. "Truly,
Mohammed Ali, I begin to be pleased with you."
"That, sir, is more than I desire," said Mohammed, calmly; he gave
one threatening glance at the proud pacha, and then turned quickly
to the tschorbadji.
"Remember, sir, that you gave me absolute authority to act as I
thought best. I gave you my word of honor to bring back these rebels
to reason and obedience. In return, you promised that I alone should
decide the matter. It must therefore be so. I have sworn to the men
of Praousta that, unless they submit, the heads of the sheik and the
three ulemas shall fall; and I repeat, so must it be, even if they
fall by my hand, if to-morrow, at the hour of prayer, the gold is
"Then may Allah mercifully bring the rebels to repentance!" sighed
the tschorbadji. "May they submit to your decision, and bring the
gold at the appointed time. Until then we must put the prisoners in
some place of safety. Give orders, Mohammed, that they be taken to
the prison, and carefully guarded."
"And why to the prison, sir?" asked Mohammed, quietly. "Here in the
middle of the court-yard is a space encircled with an iron railing."
"So there is," replied the tschorbadji, "it was prepared as a cage
for my beautiful lion, and he had lived within that railing for four
years, when some miserable wretch, who knew I loved the noble
animal, poisoned it."
"Well, I think the cage your lion occupied is large enough to afford
lodging for one night to the sheik and the ulemas."
"What! confine them here in the open air?"
"Yes, sir, that is what I suggest. "Cannot the iron door be locked?"
"Yes, it can be locked; the key is in the palace."
"In this way we can spare your body-guard a weary watch," said
Mohammed. "I will conduct them to their prison. It seems to me best
that the prisoners be placed where all the world can see them; all
the passers-by can here look upon these men and take warning how the
tschorbadji punishes rebels and rebellions. I alone will keep watch
over these prisoners, and explain to all who pass why they are here;
they will then go down to Praousta, and announce that the block is
prepared upon which the heads of these men will fall early on the
morrow, unless the taxes are paid."
"Mohammed, you are terrible!" murmured Osman, as he gazed with
amazement and anxiety into the eyes of his friend.
"You are right," whispered Cousrouf Pacha, aside; "this is a bold,
brave youth, and something can be made of him. He is ambitious and
daring. The time may come when he would be of use; I will try to win
him over to my interests."
Mohammed heard nothing more; he had already gone to the court-yard
and opened the door of the cage. He now ordered the soldiers to
conduct the prisoners inside the enclosure.
Calmly and silently they entered. Not one word had been uttered by
them since they left Praousta; with heads erect, and with proud
bearing, they entered their prison.
"Force conquers even the philosopher. He who feels himself in the
right is silent, and utters no complaint," so exclaimed the sheik in
a loud voice, as he was thrust inside the enclosure by the soldiers.
The ulemas bowed their heads and followed him. "Allah be praised,
and may the prophet look down in mercy upon the most insignificant
of his creatures!"
The door of their prison closed behind them; Mohammed took the key
and concealed it about his person. "Now," said he, "pray and
meditate upon your crimes and their punishment. I will myself make
known to the men of Praousta that they may find you here, and all
who wish can come to see you. It rests with you to tell the people
that they must submit to the law, or else bring your heads to the
block. Think well of this, and rest assured the tschorbadji will
confirm what he has declared through me. To-morrow, at the hour of
prayer, must the double tax be paid by the men of Praousta, or your
heads shall be placed on the cliffs where everybody can see them,
and your bodies thrown upon the rock Bucephalus, that the vultures
and ravens may feed upon them."
The sea lay like a sleeping lion reposing after a conflict, and
curled its waves dreamily upon the mountain-rock Bucephalus. The sun
was burning hot, and no breath of air cooled the atmosphere, and not
one cloud or shadow afforded protection from the glowing rays of the
sun, which fell full upon the uncovered space within which the sheik
and the ulemas had been confined since early in the morning. But
they stood firm, and no complaint escaped their lips. With their
heads turned to the east, they knelt and prayed, their whole bearing
expressing dignity and high resolve.
At the command of Mohammed, one of the governor's collectors was
sent to Praousta. He was instructed to place himself in front of the
mosque, call the people together by the sound of the tomtom, and
announce to them, in the name of the tschorbadji, that all who would
see the victims of their rebellion should come up the mountain, but
without arms, and only three at a time. They should be allowed to
enter the court-yard of the palace, where they could see that the
prisoners were still alive, and that their lives and liberty rested
solely with the men of Praousta. In conformity with this
proclamation, the men of the village came up to the palace in
Above, upon the rock, knelt a young girl, closely veiled. The men of
Praousta knew well that this was Masa, the sheik's daughter. They
bowed low before her, and greeted her with the greeting of peace.
She raised her trembling hands toward them, exclaiming: "Have pity
on my unhappy father! Submit to the law! Yield to necessity! O save
my father, and do not make me an orphan!"
The men of Praousta made no reply; they bowed their heads silently,
and passed on, with clouded countenances, to the iron cage in which
the governor's lion had once been confined, and where now stood the
sheik and the ulemas, thus made wild beasts of; they, the best and
wisest men of Praousta, the representatives of the people, made a
The sheik and the ulemas beckoned to each man who passed, and
besought him to hold fast to his resolution not to pay the new tax.
"If you yield now, and pay twofold, soon they will demand threefold;
they wish to impoverish us and exact our heart's blood, but we will
not submit, and we command you to stand firm!"
"But you, O fathers of our community, what will be your fate?"
"That Allah has determined," replied one of the ulemas. "Not a bird
falls to the ground, not a worm is crushed, by the careless foot of
man, without his knowledge. He who protects the spiders in the trees
and in the corners of the rooms, the birds of the air, and the
monsters of the deep, will also care for us. Allah be praised!"
"Allah be praised!" echoed the men, as they turned their steps
The maiden still knelt upon the rocky stairway and raised her hands
in wild entreaty to the passers-by. "Yield, yield, I implore you! Do
not deliver over your wisest and best men to a bloody death!"
Mohammed stood in the hall, behind a pillar, listening earnestly to
the words spoken by the prisoners to the men of the village. From
time to time Osman joined him, and begged him not to act the part of
guard over the prisoners, but to come into the saloon and rest upon
the divan. "They can not escape; the railing is high, and the gate
securely locked. Come, grant me the pleasure of your company, and
let me seek to soften your heart, and incline you to mercy."
"Impossible," said Mohammed, sternly. "If we yield now, the
tschorbadji's authority is forever lost."
"But," said the tschorbadji, who joined them at that moment, "what
is to come of all this, if the prisoners do not submit?"
"Their heads shall fall upon the block to-morrow morning, at the
hour of prayer," said Mohammed, in so firm and clear a voice that
his words were heard by Cousrouf Pacha, who had just entered the
"He is right, tschorbadji," said he, bowing his head with great
dignity. "Yes, he is right! If the rabble are rebellious, let the
heads of some of them fall! Order and law must reign! Many-headed is
the hydra, and it is no great misfortune if a few of their brawling
heads are hewn off!"
"Allah is great! His will be done," said the tschorbadji. "I do not
wish the court-yard of my dwelling to be stained with blood. I do
not wish to rule harshly and unmercifully in the evening of my life,
after governing my people so many years by mild and gentle rule."
"There you are wrong," said Cousrouf Pacha; "mildness and gentleness
do not become a ruler; only by severity and an unbending will can he
exalt himself to power, and, even when he reaches the goal, he must
trust to arms, if he is to maintain himself."
"And if with sword and dagger he reaches the throne," said Osman,
looking gently and reproachfully at the proud pacha, "may he then
hope to hear music and hymns of praise, or must he not then only
expect to hear cries of anguish uttered by those over whose heads he
strode to power? He could not then expect to see a fair and blooming
land, but a land full of corpses and blood! No, no, Cousrouf Pacha!
I desire not to reach that height. I will rather dwell in the
valleys-in the shadow of the cliffs on the sea shore-and gather
shells, and revel in the gladness and delight of a modest and quiet
"And you, Mohammed," said the pacha, smiling scornfully, "what is
your ambition? Will you gather shells upon the sea-shore with Osman,
or will you climb the heights with me to a splendid goal?"
Mohammed turned his eyes entirely away from the pacha, nodded to his
friend Osman, and said: "I will tread my own path alone. Where fate
will lead me I know not. I seek no companionship, and will follow no
man's lead. From time to time, I may turn aside from my path, and
wander, with joy and gladness, with my only friend, on the sea-
shore, and seek for shells, and revel in the delights of a modest
and quiet life."
With a kindly glance, Osman extended his hand, as if in a grateful
The men of Praousta continued to pass before the iron cage, and the
sheik still appealed to them to be firm, and not to sacrifice their
Suddenly the sun disappeared, and night came down upon the earth.
The prisoners said their evening prayers in a loud voice, and when,
from the minarets of Praousta, the call of the muredin rang out on
the air, the prisoners commenced singing, firmly and devoutly: "God
is great! There is no God but our God, and Mohammed is his prophet!
Come to prayer! Come to be healed! God is just! There is no God but
our God!" And from the village of Praousta the solemn hymn was
echoed back: "God is just! There is no God but our God!" Then all
was silent, and the night, like a silver veil, wrapped the earth in
In the house of the tschorbadji all was still; it was the custom to
retire early and to rise with the sun. God, in His goodness, created
the night for repose. The moon is a sacred lantern, which God hangs
over a sleeping world, and the stars are the eyes of the guardian
angels watching over the helpless sleepers. Therefore, is it well to
go to rest with the setting sun.
Profound silence reigned in Cavalla, in the palace of the governor,
and in the village of Praousta the men were at the mosque, praying
that Allah would vouchsafe them wisdom for the duties of the coming
day. To the slender female kneeling in the mosque they whispered:
"Soften your father's heart, maiden, and beseech him to allow us to
obey this hard command."
Did she understand? Was there comfort or encouragement in these
words? She bowed her head still lower, and sobbed beneath her veil;
she knew too well her father's immovable will, and that he preferred
death to submission.
The court-yard was quiet. The tachorbadji had offered to place two
sentinels before the gate of the enclosure, but Mohammed declined
the offer. "I alone must complete that which I alone began. I
pledged you my honor, tschorbadji, that I would subdue this
rebellion, and I alone will guard the prisoners. I will trust no man
but myself. Who knows but that the men of Praousta may try to storm
the enclosure? They are crafty and deceitful. I know them well, and
will myself guard the prisoners."
"Allow, at least, some of the soldiers to relieve you during the
night in this hard service."
"No service which honor and duty require is hard," said Mohammed,
proudly. "Let the soldiers sleep, I will keep watch."
Osman gave him a long and searching look, as if he would read the
purpose of his soul; and, strange to say, Mohammed turned his face
aside to avoid his friend's keen eye. Was it only from a sense of
honor and duty that Mohammed undertook the lonely watch? Or did he
hope the clear moonlight would reveal some other beautiful picture
than the golden plateau, and the great shadows thrown upon it by the
palace? When night had fully settled down upon the earth, Mohammed
crept forward in the shadow of the palace, to a large rock which
stood at the entrance of the court-yard; there he concealed himself,
and waited. What was he waiting for? From that point he could
overlook the courtyard, and, by leaning forward, he could also see
the stairway in the rock. Why did he turn his head in that direction
so often? Why did he suddenly shrink back, and why did his heart
tremble as he saw a white figure, illuminated by the moon,
advancing? Mohammed cowered still lower behind the rock.
Probably she did not see him, and supposed the moon and the stars
only had seen her glide softly through the gateway, and into the
The veiled virgin now walks through the court-yard to the iron
railing; kneels down upon the mosaic pavement, and, raising her
hands, whispers softly:
"Father, my beloved father, do you hear your daughter's voice?"
Mohammed bows his head, and listens in breathless suspense, his
heart throbbing wildly.
"I hear you, my daughter," replied the sheik, in a quiet tone. "I
expected you, for I know my Masa's heart well."
"Masa," murmured Mohammed; "what a beautiful, glorious name! It
falls like music upon my ear, and makes my heart beat strangely.
What does this mean? Allah, protect thy servant!"
Against his will, he still listens to this heavenly voice that now
entreats her father to yield, to submit to the inevitable. But the
sheik, as she continued her supplications, commanded silence, and
forbade her to burden his heart with her tears.
"Life, my daughter, is but a short span; but eternity is long, and
woe to those who have not done their duty during that short period!
They will suffer for it throughout eternity, for Allah is strong in
his wrath, and just in his punishment. I have sworn that I will
watch over the welfare of my community while I live, and Sheik Alepp
will keep his word to the end of his life."
"But, father, beloved father!" urged the maiden, "you have also
sworn to be a parent and a guardian to me all the days of your life.
Keep this oath, too; save your life, in order to save mine. Then you
must know, my father, that Masa will not remain on the earth if you
leave it. Your child has naught upon this earth but you; early was
my mother taken, and it has become lonely in Sheik Alepp's harem. My
father said: 'I will not take in a strange woman: no second wife
shall ever fill the place in my heart that has been wholly
consecrated to my dear Masa. My only child shall not have to suffer
from the severity and caprice of a strange woman.' This was nobly
said and nobly done, my father, to devote your entire life to your
child, and to the duties of guardian of your people. But hear me,
father: what is to become of your daughter when she is left alone
upon the earth? Sorrow and want will be my portion, and I should
wither away unseen, and be trodden under foot upon the wayside,
without one sympathizing voice to bemoan my early death."
Mohammed still crouched within the shadow of the cliff, his eyes
sparkling like the stars in heaven, but the maiden saw them not, nor
could she know the exultation in his heart.
"You should not wither away unseen and unlamented upon the wayside.
I would draw you to my bosom, and there you should bloom in
fragrance, my heavenly blossom, and my whole life would lament over
you if you should leave the earth."
In the silence of the night the youth still listened to the
conversation between father and daughter--to the tender entreaties
of the maiden, to the father's stern and earnest words; he heard
also the whispering voices of the ulemas, who, awakened by the
conversation, betook themselves to repeating prayers, in order that
they might not hear what passed between father and daughter at this
Now Masa ceased speaking; a few stifled sobs, a few trembling words
only, could be distinguished. But the sheik remained firm and
"I cannot, Masa. Right gladly would I remain and live with you, and
gladden my eyes with your lovely countenance, gladly would I still
continue to hear the voice that call to me in the loved tones of my
Aga, and is to my ear the sweetest music, but the claims of duty are
paramount, and what duty commands man must perform. Allah so wills
it. Allah be praised! The sheik cannot counsel his people to yield
to force; he must wait patiently in the path of his duty. The result
is in Allah's hand, and Allah is great and mighty. Allah il Allah!"
"Allah il Allah!" repeated the three ulemas.
Rising from his knees, the sheik now proceeded to give, with a loud
voice, the second call, the ebed, for he saw that rosy streaks were
beginning to shoot out over the horizon, and he knew that the sun
would rise from out the sea in an hour; it was therefore time to
pronounce the ebed.
"I praise the perfection of God who endures for ever and ever, the
perfection of the living, the only and the highest God. The
perfection of the God who, in his great kingdom, takes unto himself
neither wife, nor an associate, nor one who resembles him, nor one
who is disobedient, nor a substitute, nor an equal, nor a
descendant--his perfection I praise; and praised be his name! He is
a God who knew what was to be, before it became what it is, and what
has been; and he is as he was in the beginning. His perfection I
praise, and praised be his name; he is a God without equal. There is
no one who is equal to the good God; there is no one who is equal to
the great God; there is no God beside thee, O God, whom we must
adore, praise, desire, and glorify! I praise the perfection of him
who has made all creatures, who preserves and provides them with
food, and has determined the end of the lives of his servants. O
God, the good, the gracious, the great, forget not one of them."
The ulemas now arose, and with powerful voices began the following
"I praise the perfection of Him who by his power and greatness
causes pure water to flow from the solid rock; the perfection of Him
who spoke to our master, Moses, on the mountain, whereupon the
mountain crumbled to dust out of fear of God, whose name be praised
as the one and the only one. There is no God but God, and he is a
righteous judge. I praise the justice of the first, peace and
comfort be with you; and you of the friendly countenance, O
ambassador of God, peace be with you, and with your family and
companions, O you prophet! God is great, and God favors, and
preserves, and glorifies the great prophet Mohammed. And may God,
whose name be blessed and praised, be pleased with you, O Mohammed,
and with all those favored with the wine of God! Amen!"[Footnote:
See the Koran.]
"Amen! Amen! Amen!" repeated the ulemas, and the maiden whispered it
after them. And, within the shadow of the cliff, Mohammed Ali, who
had reverently repeated the ebed in a low voice, murmured Amen.
"And now, my daughter," said the sheik, in a loud voice, "I command
you to go down to Praousta, and to conceal yourself within the harem
of my house, and there to await in patience and submission, as
beseems a woman, the events of the morrow, the day of the Lord and
of the judgment. Go, my child, and the blessing of Allah be with
Mohammed looked forth from behind the cliff, and beheld the veiled
figure bending down and grasping the old man's hand through the bars
of the cage; he then heard the father's parting blessing, and his
daughter's low sobs.
Now she arose, and, bathed in the full lustre of the moon, glided
softly through the court-yard. She seemed to him like one of the
welis, or spirits blessed of God, as she swept past the cliff behind
which Mohammed stood, and passed with inaudible footsteps toward the
THE FIRST DAY OF CREATION.
Noiselessly, her feet scarcely touching the ground, the veiled
figure swept onward. The light of the moon enveloped her as with a
silver veil, and the stars gazed at her wonderingly, as if to follow
with their eyes the lovely being who walks on in solitude through
the darkness of night.
She did not fear the solitude, for the welis guarded the innocent
maiden, and kept from her the evil spirits and ghins.
The solitude had no terrors for her, but she shrank back with alarm
when the moon suddenly cast a long shadow across her pathway.
The shadow of a man! She stood still for a moment in a listening
"Allah protect me!" she murmured, as she drew her veil more closely
about her and walked on.
She had almost reached the stairway when the shadow came close to
her side, and a hand was laid on her shoulder.
"Stay, Masa," whispered a voice.
She trembled and sought to walk on, but her feet seemed chained to
the ground. She thought the ghins were detaining her, and she prayed
to Allah from her inmost soul to release her from their dread
"Fear me not, Masa," said a kindly voice; "listen to me. I am no
"I do not fear you," said she, in low, faint tones. "I fear neither
man nor the evil ghins, for the welis guard me, and my mother's eyes
watch over me. Allah, too, is always with me wherever I go, by night
or day. Yet I know that you are my enemy, because you are my
"Oh, do not say this! Your words pierce my heart."
"But yet you are my enemy, for you are my father's enemy; I know
you, I recognize the fierce youth who took my father prisoner at the
mosque this morning. It was you! I know you well, and my heart is
breaking. You are the author of my father's misery. You do evil, and
evil thoughts fill your heart. Let me pass, do not detain me! Let me
return to my father's house. Masa must obey her father and master.
Remove your hand from my shoulder. It does not beseem a stranger to
touch a chaste maiden with his impure hand. Let me pass."
"You say I am your enemy, your father's enemy. Believe me, Masa, I
am not your enemy, not your father's enemy. An evil destiny has
ordained that Mohammed Ali should be the instrument, the sword of
justice, that he should grieve and wound her he would so gladly
shield. The evil ghins have also ordained that I should carry out
the law and assume a threatening attitude toward your father. I must
submit to what Allah ordains, and proceed in the line of my duty.
But, Masa, you shall know that I am neither yours nor your father's
enemy. You must know that I would shed my heart's blood to make
undone that which I have commenced. O Masa, had I sooner beheld
these eyes, that now look upon me with the brilliancy of the stars
in heaven, had I sooner beheld the countenance that now beams upon
me with the brightness of the young day, never would my mother's son
have assumed a threatening attitude toward your father, never would
Mohammed have undertaken to enforce the law against him. True, the
evil ghins have brought this about, but hearken to me, Masa, and
consider well that your father's welfare is at stake."
"I will not hear you," said she, tremblingly.
" I swear, by the spirit of my mother, that I have nothing to
conceal before Allah and the prophet. Do not wound me, Masa, with
your alarm. You seemed to me this morning the loveliest of women;
until then Sitta Khadra was her son's only love. You must know that
when she had died, Mohammed Ali fled into solitude and intended to
take his own life. But in the solitude, Allah said to him: 'The life
I have given you, bear with manfully, and take upon yourself the
sufferings I see fit to visit upon you.'
"I bowed submissively to his commands; I left my solitude and raised
myself by my sorrow as by a pillar. But in you I seemed to see my
mother's spirit; then pain vanished from my heart, and my mother
seemed to be regarding me through your eyes. Therefore, Masa, have I
followed you. I have come to say that which brings the blush to my
inmost soul, that which the ear of no other human being shall ever
hear. In the name of my mother, I beseech you, do not let it be here
upon this open path where men may pass, and which the foot of man
has desecrated. In the name of the mother you love so well as you
this morning declared in the mosque, and in the name of my mother
whom I have loved as few sons have loved their mothers, in the name
of the moon, and in the name of the golden stars that glitter above
us, I entreat you, mount with me to the summit of the rock. There
will Mohammed speak words to you that his tongue has never uttered
before. There he will advise you how to save your father, and help
the men of Praousta."
She looked up to the crest of the rock, bathed in the soft
"You would lead me up there?" murmured she.
"I will lead you safely, or follow you, as the slave follows his
mistress. The way is steep, but your feet are active as those of the
gazelle. I now remember having sometimes observed your white figure
and your flying footstep. Lightly like the dove have I seen you flit
from rock to rock, and I have followed you with reverence. Yes, I
have long known you; I have often seen you, and I know that the
white dove need only spread her wings to flutter up to the Ear of
Bucephalus. O Masa, I entreat you, spread your wings and fly! There
I will speak with you of your father and of the future, of yours and
of mine. Will you grant my request?"
She did not reply, but only regarded him with an inquiring, doubtful
Was it a mere accident, or had he purposely placed himself so that
the light of the now waning moon shone full in his face? Was it by
chance that he was so placed that a shadow was thrown over the place
where she stood, which enabled her to gaze at him from out the
darkness with her large, luminous eyes?
"I entreat you, Masa, go not down to your father's house, but ascend
with me to the Ear of Bucephalus. There, where none but Allah and
Nature can hear my words, I will speak to you of your father, and of
the men of the village."
She drew her veil more closely about her and bowed her head. "Lead
the way, Mohammed Ali, and I will follow."
And he, overwhelmed with happiness, knelt down and tenderly kissed
the little foot that peeped out from beneath her white garments.
Then he arose, folded his arms upon his breast, and bowed his head
in reverence before his queen.
"Your slave will lead the way," said he, softly; "be merciful, and
He then turned and began the ascent of the path that leads up to the
crest of the rock. Masa followed, praying to herself that her
mother's spirit might accompany and guard her from all danger.
Both were silent; Mohammed hastened on from rock to rock, higher and
Mohammed was right. Masa fluttered lightly from cliff to cliff like
a white dove.
At times he stood still and looked behind him.
It perhaps occurred to him that he was walking too rapidly, and
should give her time to rest. Or he feared, perhaps, the heavenly
form might suddenly vanish like the vision of a dream.
"See," said he, pointing to the moon now waxing pale in the heavens.
"See, the night is drawing to a close, and day is about to break. I
wish to see the sun rise with you, O Masa!"
"I, too, desire it," was whispered in her heart, but her lips did
not utter the words. "Lead the way, I follow you."
The whispering of the lips was to him as the command of a sovereign;
he quickly turned and continued the ascent.
They had now reached the crest. And there, high above all earthly
care and sorrow, the two, the youth and maiden stood, alone upon the
They stood upon the spot of which Mohammed had said that it was not
yet desecrated by the foot of man. Here it was lonely and solemn;
here Allah and holy Nature could alone hear his words. And now,
overcome by the wondrous picture that lay spread out before them,
and perhaps unconsciously, Mohammed took the girl's hand; and,
without being conscious of it, she allowed him to take it in his own
and pass it to his lips.
The moon had vanished beneath the horizon, and there, where heaven
and earth seemed united in sweet harmony, a purple hue, like a
messenger from God, gradually overspread the sky. Who could tell
where the earth ended and the heavens began; where the waves ceased
to murmur and were commingled with the skies in Godlike majesty and
love? Little purple clouds chased each other across the heavens like
flying cupids, and here and there a star still faintly sparkling as
if to tell of the Divine mysteries of creation.
And now the waters of the sea suddenly begin to swell, and the waves
roll higher; they rear their white crests aloft, and a whispering
pervades the air, as though the spirits of heaven and earth were
pronouncing the morning prayer of the new day.
Upon the crest of the rock stand these two human beings, regarding
the fading stars and the rising sun, hand-in-hand--they, too, a part
of the holy universe created by Allah in the fulness of his grace.
And their souls and hearts are as innocent as were those of the
first human pair in paradise, before the alluring voice of the
serpent had yet been heard. The light of day still shines, as
through a veil, but a rosy hue gradually overspreads the heavens,
and, at last, the sun rises, in all its splendor from out the sea,
as on the first morning of creation, and on each succeeding morning
since, comes this holy, ever-renewed mystery of the sunrise, that
tells of the surpassing glory of God. A wondrous murmuring rises up
from the sea, and the birds are all awake, exulting in the
brightness of the morning. The palm, the olive, and the myrtle
groves, rustle in the breeze. The lark soars heavenward, singing its
morning greeting. Even the eagle has spread his pinions, and is
mounting aloft from his nest in the neighboring rocks, to do homage
to the sun. It is as though all Nature were crying, exultingly, "The
new day has awakened!"
"The sun has risen, Masa," cried Mohammed--"the night is past. As
often as I have wandered among these rocks, never before has morning
seemed so fair--never before have the sun's rays so filled my heart
with warmth. Heretofore, the sunrise was but the signal for me to go
in pursuit of game, or to prepare to cross over to Imbro, to look
after the fishermen's nets, set out the day before. But to-day Allah
proclaims to me why it is that the sunlight is so glorious, that the
eagle soars so proudly aloft, that the waves surge so grandly. O
Masa, I will tell you why it is thus: it is because they are all
imbued with the spirit of creation, and this spirit is love--
eternal, illimitable love."
"Speak not thus," said the maiden, tremblingly. "Speak not thus to
me. It does not beseem a maiden to listen to a man's words of love
without the approval of her father."
"But will you not accord me this privilege, Masa?" asked he, gently.
"May I not go to your father and entreat him to give me the pure
maiden, that she may accompany me through day and night?"
"No, do not speak thus," she repeated, tremblingly. "You told me you
would speak of my father--speak of him, Mohammed Ali."
"Yes; of your father," murmured he. "I had so much, so very much to
say to you, and now it seems to me that all is already said. What
remains is as nothing, and is forgotten."
"You are mocking me," said she, gently. "You only wished to see if
my father's daughter would be foolish enough to follow you where she
should never go except at her father's side, or accompanied by
women. You have punished me, Mohammed, for my folly and boldness in
following you and confiding in you. If you have nothing to say to
me, then let me quickly go and return to my father's house."
"No, Masa, do not go. I did not intend to mock you; I really had so
much to say to you! Yet I know not how it is with me; it seems to me
that if I have been transformed, created anew; that yesterday and
its events are forgotten. I am as a new, a different being."
He could not hear the voice that whispered in her heart also, that
the dawn of a new day had cast its spell over them both.
"Oh, speak to me of my father," she cried, in anxious tones.
"Yes, I will; I will call reason to my aid. Your father is my
prisoner, and I have sworn that I would bring the rebels back to
submission, and honor requires that I should finish what I have
undertaken. I now deplore it in my inmost soul, now that the magic
of your eyes has transformed me, and made of the fierce combatant a
man who longs to fall at your feet, and pour out his heart's agony
and bliss. And yet I cannot undo what I have begun. I registered an
oath in the presence of the men of Praousta, and told them: --If you
do not on the morrow comply with what I have commanded, in the name
of the tschorbadji, I shall behead the prisoners that Allah has
delivered into my hands!'"
"O my father!" cried Masa, loudly, in tones of anguish.
"I cannot do otherwise," said Mohammed, heaving a deep sigh. "I have
pledged my honor that it should be so. I cannot recall my oath. But
I can die, and die I will; no other resource is left me. I must
choose between your father's death and mine. I cannot live
dishonored and perjured. The tschorbadji can then release the
prisoners; and he will do so, for he is kindly disposed, and it was
I alone who wished to proceed with severity. And Osman will join you
in your entreaties to his father. Now all is clear; now I know what
it was I wished to say to you here on Bucephalus. Ah, still so much,
and there is but an hour left me! How often have I gazed, from this
place, at the heavens above, and the sea beneath; how often seen the
sun rise in its splendor! But now that I have gazed in your eyes,
Masa, all else is forgotten and extinguished, and for me there
exists only the present; no longer a past. Yet I wished to see you
once more before my death, and, I entreat you, grant me one request.
My mother, Sitta Khadra, once told me that when a man was about to
die, Allah's holy spirit is shed upon him, and the best and purest
of all the welis is sent down to the dying, that a heavenly
atmosphere may surround him even here on earth. It seems to me that
you are the weli sent by Allah to him who is about to die.
Therefore, remove your veil, that I may behold the brightness of
your eyes and the crimson of your lips, and refresh my soul in the
light of your countenance. Yes, die I must, and die I will, when I
shall have seen the brightness of your eyes!"
"Look at me," said she, softly, "and hear what I have to say; I will
not have you die! There must be some other means of saving my
father. But you shall not die, for you--"
She spoke no further, but gazed dreamily upward at the heavens.
The sun had risen higher, and now gilded with its rays the crest of
the rock. Its golden light illumined the maiden's unveiled
countenance, and Mohammed regarded her in ecstasy. Beautiful was
she, and faultless; the eternal morning of youth shone in the
features that were still more gloriously illumined by the lustre of
first love. She seemed to Mohammed the very embodiment of
loveliness, chastity, and innocence. In his ecstasy he could find no
utterance for that which filled his heart. His whole being, his
whole soul, was reflected in his eyes. He lost all control over
himself in the presence of this maiden this heavenly image.
"Love is my prayer, and prayer is my love. Look at me ye starlike
eyes, and read in my soul what is written there in characters of
living flame. 'I love you. I love you!' It is thus my heart speaks
to you, and thus will it speak with my last breath. What I now feel
is love and death combined heavenly bliss commingling with boundless
suffering; I would weep, and yet shout for joy."
Suddenly, Mohammed bounded to his feet, clasped the maiden in his
arms, and imprinted a kiss on her lips, a kiss that made her tremble
in her inmost being. For a moment, she allowed her head to rest on
his shoulder; she then gently released herself from his embrace,
drew her veil down over her face, and turned to go.
"Oh, hear me, Masa, and do not be angry!" he cried, entreatingly.
"Allah has seen us, and now hears my vow of fidelity. You say I
shall live. Then say, too, that I may live for you! I swear to you
that I have loved no woman but you, that no other woman shall ever
dwell in my harem. Oh, speak, will you be mine, will you love me,
and be true to me?"
He paused, and awaited an answer, he waited long, but no answer
came. It seemed to him that, with him, all Nature was awaiting an
answer. The foliage of the trees ceased rustling, the songs of the
birds were hushed, the eagle folded his pinions in the nest to which
he had just returned, and gazed fixedly at the sun. The waves
subdued their murmurings, and even the wind held its breath; all
Nature was mute, and yet no answer came from the maiden's pure lips.
"O Masa, will you be true to me, will you love me, will you one day
come with me to my home?" urged the youth in tones of passionate
Her lips parted, and, in low, soft tones, like spirit-whisperings,
she murmured, "Yes, I love you, and will be true to you."
He hears her, and bows down, and kisses the hem of her veil.
Sacred is the woman of a man's first love; sacred is the moment when
he avows to her his love; sacred is the moment when he dares, for
the first time, to approach and touch her.
But suddenly an emotion of horror thrills his whole being.
"O Masa, in my ecstasy, I forgot that I have come here to die,
because I cannot live unless my honor is vindicated."
"To die?" said the maiden, with a gentle smile. "Why die now, when
we have only just begun to live?"
"I must die that your father may live. I have already told you,
Masa, that I have sworn by my honor, that the men of Praousta shall
pay the double tax, as they are in duty bound to do. I have pledged
my honor, that is, my life. Your father will not pay, and I have
sworn by Allah and the prophets that the heads of the four prisoners
shall fall if the double tax is not paid. You see now that I must
die, that my honor may not suffer. When I am dead you can all settle
the matter as you think best; the governor may then show mercy, and
relieve them of the tax. But I cannot. And yet I cannot allow Masa's
father to die, for Masa would weep for him, and her every tear would
"You shall not die, Mohammed," murmured the maiden. "No, you shall
not die. O Mohammed, listen to my words. I conjure you, do not be
cruel. You say I should weep if you killed my father; but do you not
suppose that Masa's eyes would also shed tears if her father should
rob her of your life?"
"O Masa!" exclaimed Mohammed, in tones of ecstasy, as he extended
his arms toward her.
She stepped back, and gently motioned to him not to touch her.
"Let us demean ourselves as we are commanded, as is becoming before
Allah, the prophets, and the good spirits who hover about us; as is
becoming in the presence of your mother, and of mine, who are
looking down upon us; as a youth and maiden should who have not yet
been united in the mosque. Do not touch me, but listen to what Masa
has to say: You shall not die for my sake; you shall not fill my
eyes with tears, and my soul with anguish. You shall live, Mohammed,
that my whole existence may be yours, and yours mine! Let us think
and dream of this; let us hope for this, and let us do all we can to
make of this dream reality. and of this hope fulfilment. I shall go
down to Praousta. I shall speak to them, and conjure them to pay
this double tax in spite of my father's opposition. When they shall
have done this, Mohammed, your honor will be saved, my father's life
preserved, and his daughter's heart freed from anguish. The rest,
Mohammed, we must leave to the good spirits, to the welis and the
intercession of our mothers."
"But if the men should still refuse," said Mohammed--"and I know
they will," he added, gloomily.
"They will not refuse. My lips will possess a charm to persuade them
to do what we wish. They will not refuse. My love and anxiety for my
father will give to my words such power that they must do, although
with reluctance, what the daughter demands of them to save the
father's life. I conjure you, Mohammed, wait patiently at least
until the hour of second prayer. Prolong the time until then. Allow
me to announce this to them; to bear a message to them from my
father and from you; allow me to say: 'Mohammed will wait until the
hour of second prayer; you can deliberate until then, and not until
then, if it be necessary to pay the tax. Yet if, when the hour
arrives, you do not appear, my father's life is lost, and you will
be his murderers.' I will speak to them thus, and will entreat them
with tears, and believe me, these men are good at heart, and full of
tenderness and mercy. They, too, dearly love my father, the sheik,
and they also love the ulemas, the wise men of the place, and they
will surely yield to my entreaties if you will only wait, Mohammed."
As she finished speaking, she turned the gaze of her glowing eyes
full upon him. He looked into the depths of these eyes, and a sweet
tremor coursed through his whole soul.
"See how great is your power over me, Masa. Mohammed lays his honor,
his pledged word, at your feet, and does what you request: I will
wait until the hour of the second prayer. May Allah give strength to
your words, and bless the charm of your crimson lips with success! I
will wait. But one thing, Masa, tell me now, before you go."
"What is it? " asked she. But she seemed to know already, for she
blushingly averted her eyes.
" Tell me that you love me, then I will wait. Tell me, Masa, do you
"How can I tell you what I do not understand?" murmured she. "I do
not know what love is."
"You do not know what love is?" said he, gazing at her fixedly and
almost threateningly. "Then tell me this, Masa, do you know that I
When he uttered these words his face was so near hers that she felt
his breath on her cheeks--so near, that his eyes looked into the
depths of her own and saw themselves reflected there.
"Do you know that I love you?"
A slight tremor possessed itself of all her being, and she bowed her
head in confusion.
"Yes, Mohammed, I know that you love me."
He suddenly raised the white veil from her countenance, and softly
and gently kissed her lips, as softly and gently as the bee touches
with its wings the crimson rose in search of its sweetness. He then
quickly let fall her veil again. "Swear, Masa, that no other man's
hand shall ever raise this veil!"
"O Mohammed, how can I?' said she, in soft, pleading tones. "Am I
not my father's slave, is not his daughter's life in his hands, must
I not do what he commands? But this I can swear: that I will love
you, Mohammed, that I will pray to Allah to bless our love. And now
let me tell you, I not only know that you love me, but I also know
that Masa's heart is yours, for it beats so loudly, so stormily, and
I feel so happy. This I can swear, too, Mohammed, that my heart will
remain true to you, and that I will rather die, than of my own free
will allow another man to raise my veil."
"And this I can swear, Masa, that you shall not die," said, he, and
his voice sounded almost harsh and threatening. "No, you shall not
die, Masa! You shall live, and live for me, the husband of your
future. And now, come, I will conduct you to the rocky stairway.
This you will permit me to do."
She gently shook her head, raised her hand, and pointed to the
landscape that lay spread out below in the bright sunshine.
"No, Mohammed! You called me a white dove. Then let the white dove
fly away on its mission. You would not be the huntsman that takes
its life? See, beneath us lies Cavalla, where people are now
beginning to move about. The eyes of gossips might see me, and the
sharp tongues of calumny defame my father's daughter. That may not
be, for the sake of my good name, and for your sake too, Mohammed.
Let me go down alone, and you remain until you see me descending the
stairway. Do not go down until then. Do not give evil tongues
occasion to suspect and speak ill of me. Let the white dove that is
to wing her flight, when it pleases Allah, to the nest you have
prepared for her, be pure and with. out reproach. Do not speak one
more word, and do not look at me only see how weak I am: if you look
at me again I shall stand still and wait till you command me to go.
Turn away from me and let me go. Let us both pray to Allah that our
wishes may be granted."
He turns away as she requested, and gazes in the opposite direction,
at the blue sky and the foaming sea. He sees her not, but the pain
he feels tells him Masa is leaving; he knows, without hearing her
footsteps, that she is walking from him. He remains above as she had
requested. After a while he turns around and looks after her. He
sees the white dove fluttering downward from rock to rock, and at
last disappear on the stairway that leads to Praousta.
"May Allah bless her mission, that I may live, live for Masa, for
her I love so passionately! All that I do shall henceforth be for
her, and Mohammed's life will be bliss and sunshine."
THE village of Praousta had now assumed a busy look. The men had
assembled around the mosque, and were conversing in eager, anxious
When they saw the veiled girl approaching they bowed their heads
respectfully, as is becoming in the presence of the unhappy. They
knew the beautiful Masa, in spite of her veil. They knew she had
gone up to her father to implore him to take pity on himself and on
her. They now stepped up to her and asked if her father still lived,
and if there was any hope of preserving his life.
"His life is in your hands," replied Masa. "I come to conjure you to
save the life of my father, and of the noble old men, the ulemas."
"How can we, daughter of Sheik Alepp?" cried the men. "How can we
save their lives?"
"You ask me? Then I will tell you: You must bow your heads beneath
the yoke. You must obey the commands of the tschorbadji."
"Never! never!" cried the men. "Has not the sheik himself forbidden
us to do so? Did not the ulemas, as late as yesterday evening at
sunset, command us in Allah's name to be firm?"
"They did command it," cried the girl, passionately, "and they did
so because they wished to do their duty and obey the law. But it
devolves upon you, ye men, to obey the higher law that dwells in us.
Will you, ye men of Praousta, allow your best and noblest men to be
murdered for the sake of a paltry sum of money. Do you wish that
your children and grandchildren should one day point at you and say:
--Look at them, they are murderers! They slaughtered them that they
might keep their money, that they might keep that which they held
"No, Masa, it is not on account of the money!" cried the men. "It is
a question of our honor, of law, and of justice. And therefore the
sheik has commanded us not to pay. A double tax was imposed on us;
that was unjust. The sheik and the ulemas say that, if we pay this
double tax, they will the next time demand a treble, and the third
time a quadruple tax. In this way they would consume our substance,
and our fate would be poverty and the beggar's staff. Thus spoke the
sheik and the ulemas as late as yesterday evening, and therefore
must we remain firm, and, therefore, oh, forgive us, we should not
dare to pay even if we could."
"But we cannot even do it," cried one of the men. "No, Masa, you may
believe us, it is not in our power. The tobacco-crop has turned out
badly, and the storms have destroyed our nets, and let the fish
escape. Really, we could not pay even if we would. It was with the
greatest difficulty that we got the simple tax together, and now the
tschorbadji sends us word, by his collectors, that we must pay as
much more. By Allah, it is impossible, we cannot do it."
"No, it is impossible; we cannot do it," cried the rest, in a chorus
"Then you are ready to let my father die--to become the murderers of
our ulemas," cried Masa, falling on her knees, and stretching out
her arms imploringly. "Oh, be merciful to yourselves, for I tell you
the evil spirits will obtain power over you, if you do not abandon
your cruel intention. I tell you, misery will be your portion, if
you allow your noblest men to be murdered for the sake of vile
"And we tell you, Masa, that we cannot pay," cried the men, in
defiant, despairing tones. "We repeat, and call Allah to witness, we
have not the money they demand of us."
"You have not this money? But if you had it, would you then pay?
Would you bend your heads to save the heads of our noblest men?
Would you go to the tschorbadji and say--Here is the double tax. You
do us injustice, yet we humble ourselves in order to save the lives
of our sheik and the ulemas!' Say, would you do this?"
The people made no reply, but cast sorrowful glances at each other,
and whispered among themselves
"The sheik would not forgive us; he gave strict orders that we
should not pay."
"But his life, and the lives of the ulemas are at stake," murmured
one of them.
"Yes, his life is at stake!" cried Masa, who had heard this. "I
entreat you to grant my request. Let each of you go after the tax he
has laid by, and then come with me, all of you, to the tschorbadji.
I will attend to the rest."
"Masa, what are you about to do? " asked the men, regarding her in
astonishment. "It does not become a woman to meddle with such
"It becomes a daughter to save her father's life. This is my only
purpose, and may Allah assist me in accomplishing it!" cried she,
with enthusiasm. "I pray you, go after the money, and wait at the
rocky stairway. I am only going to my house, and shall return
She flew across the square to her father's house. Two female
servants, who had been standing in the hall, anxiously awaiting the
return of their mistress, cried out with joy, and hastened forward
to kiss her bands.
She rushed past them up the stairway, and into her room, looking the
door behind her, that none might follow. She then took hastily from
a trunk, inherited from her mother, a casket, adorned with mother-
of-pearl and precious, stones. She opened it and looked at its
"Yes, there are the ear-rings; and there are the tiara and the
Her mother had given her, on her death-bed, these, the bridal
ornaments she had brought with her from her father's house, and the
sheik had often remarked that these jewels were worth at least a
Until now, their value had been a matter of indifference to her.
What cared she how much money could be had for her pearls and
necklace? She loved this jewelry because it came from her mother,
but now she thinks differently.
"The jewelry is worth at least a hundred sequins, and the tax
certainly does not amount to more. And, if it were more, I should
entreat the governor until he accepted the jewelry as the second
tax. Thus it shall be. O dear mother, look down upon your daughter,
and do not be angry with her for parting with the costly souvenir
given her by you on your death-bed! Do not be angry, and see in it
only love for my father!"
She bowed her head, and kissed the pearls which had once adorned her
mother; kissed the necklace and the tiara that had once shone on her
"O mother, I had thought, that on my wedding-day, I too should wear
these costly ornaments. But I know that it will be a matter of
indifference to him, the only one for whom I wish this day to come.
He would not look at the glittering jewels, but only at me. I
therefore willingly part with them; I do not care, for he whom I
love will not be grieved if I come to him unadorned."
A blissful smile overspread her lovely countenance.
She closed and locked the casket, and hid it under her veil. She
hastily walked down the stairway, out of the house, and toward the
mosque, where the men had begun to assemble, each one bringing with
him his proportion of the tax.
"Tell me, ye men," asked Masa, quickly, "what is the amount of the
tax you are called on to pay?"
"The simple tax, Masa, amounts to one hundred sequins. Consider how
heavy a burden this alone is. There are hardly fifty men of us
living here in Praousta, and really it seems to us quite sufficient
that each of us has two sequins to pay at the end of each summer.
But to pay the double tax is simply impossible. Your father well
knew this, Masa, and he therefore sternly commanded us not to pay,
as the demand was contrary to law and justice."
"A hundred sequins," cried she, with sparkling eyes. "Then all is
well. Come, ye men of Praousta let us ascend the stairway. The hour
of the second prayer has not yet come, and until then, with the
tschrobadji's consent, Mohammed Ali has granted us a respite. Wait
on the crest of the rock above until I call you. I shall now go to
the tschorbadji; pray ye, in the mean while, to Allah, that my words
may prove effectual."
She ascended the stairway with flying footsteps. With dejected
looks, the men slowly followed. "We are wrong in allowing her to
persuade us to submit to the tschorbadji. We will, however, pay the
just tax, and no more. We would not pay more, even if we could. Here
let us stay and await the call of our sheik's daughter."
"And let us pray, as she requested," murmured others. On bended
knees, and with solemn countenances, the men, but now so noisy and
fierce, awaited Masa's return in silence.
The white dove flew up the pathway, through the courtyard, and into
the palace, regardless of a number of her father's old friends who
were lying on the ground before the gate. She dare not stop to speak
to them, for the sheik could seek to learn on what errand his
daughter goes alone to the palace. If she should tell him, he would
command her to return to her father's harem, there to await in
patience the fate Allah should have in store for his children. No,
she cannot approach him, cannot brave his questioning; she would
then be compelled to disobey him, for her father's life must and
shall be preserved.
The tschorbadji stood in the lower hall. His heart was troubled, and
his countenance sorrowful. He should not have permitted Mohammed Ali
to go so far. How terrible it would be if this execution should
really take place here in his courtyard, if the heads of the best
men of Praousta should really fall to the ground! No, he should not
have permitted the stern, pitiless young man to pledge his honor for
the fulfullment of what he had undertaken. He had already asked his
son Osman to seek his friend and entreat him to desist from his
stern purpose. Osman was now pleading with his friend in soft,
"Will he succeed?" This is now the question that agitates the
tschorbadji. He had sworn by all that was holy that Mohammed should
have his will; and a Moslem cannot break his oath; honor forbids it.
The tachorbadji knows this very well, and therefore is he sorrowful
and dejected. Should the young man persist, he must therefore
unwillingly allow him to carry out his purpose. He sits there on the
divan, tortured with doubt and apprehension. Will Mohammed relent?
Will Osman succeed in softening his heart?
At this moment the door opens, and a veiled woman enters the room.
She advances with light and noiseless footstep, and kneels down
before the tschorbadji.
"O master, be merciful to your servant! Sheik Alepp's daughter
kneels before you ! Incline your heart to mercy, and give back to me
"Gladly would I do so, were it in my power," sighed he. I swear it
by Allah! But I have pledged my word to the young man to whom I gave
authority to act in the name of the law, that he should have
unlimited power to do as he should deem proper in the matter. I can
therefore do nothing, though I would gladly liberate your father and
abandon the collection of the tax."
"O master, I do not ask you to give up the tax! You shall have all
you have commanded us to pay."
"You are prepared to pay it?" exclaimed the tschorbadji, joyously.
"Then our trouble is at an end. But pray why are you, the daughter
of the noble, worthy sheik, here?"
"I have come, O master, because I have an act of mercy to implore at
your hands. The men of Praousta are really not able to pay two
hundred sequins, but what they lack in money I have in money's
"You speak in enigmas, maiden," said the tschorbadji. "You have the
money, and yet you have it not. What does this mean?"
"I have not the money in coined sequins," said she, looking toward
the door as though she feared Mohammed might enter and be angry when
she presented her love-offering. "Look at this, tschorbadji; these
were my mother's jewels, but they are now mine, and no one else has
a right to them. Gladly will I part with them for the sake of the
men of our village. I have often been told that these jewels are
worth more than a hundred sequins. I pray you, take them of me for
Still kneeling, she handed the tschorbadji the casket containing the
jewelry. He took it and regarded it thoughtfully.
"Did it devolve upon me alone to decide this question, gladly would
I take the jewelry, good maiden. But remember, I have sworn to
Mohammed Ali that the prisoners should only then be released when
the double tax shall have been paid in glittering gold-pieces. And I
must keep my word. Gladly would I give you their value, but I must
confess to the daughter of my sheik that I have not in my possession
so large a sum. But remain here; a thought occurs to me," said he.
"The ambassador who comes from Stamboul for the tax, and who arrived
here yesterday, brought with him for Couspouf Pacha a large purse
filled with sequins. If I show him this jewelry and ask him--yes, I
will do so. Remain here, maiden, until I return. You might think I
would keep your jewels and not return. Take your jewelry and remain
here. I am going in quest of one who may be able to assist us. I say
us, for I, too, shall be much pleased if the matter can be settled
in this peaceful manner. Wait here, daughter of my sheik, while I go
in search of one who can settle this matter fit the satisfaction of