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Mohammed Ali and His House by Luise von Muhlbach

Part 7 out of 10

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"Pardon me, highness," said Mohammed Ali, with a slight smile, for
he well understood the secret meaning of this question, "pardon me,
highness, I am this Mohammed, and yet another. The first was a bold,
insolent lad, who dared to defy your authority and refused to bow
his head in humility before your highness. He who now stands before
you, however, is your devoted servant, who brings you greetings from
his friend Osman. He is deeply touched by your graciousness, and,
hoping for a continuance of your favor, he undertook to do your
bidding. But alas! the will of man is often frustrated by bodily
weakness. It was thus with my friend Osman. The first day of the
conflict at Aboukir prostrated him so completely that he was
compelled to return home to Cavalla, and the capitan graciously
granted his request and placed me in his position. Yet I lay my new
dignity at your feet; all that I am I wish to receive at your

Cousrouf had regarded him fixedly while he spoke, and had listened
attentively to his words and voice. He was satisfied with him. "Yes,
Mohammed, you are right," said Cousrouf; "there is nothing of the
fierce boy of those days in you now. Your voice is flattering, and
your words well chosen and devoted, and Cousrouf will attach you to
himself through gratitude. He will cherish you, and make of you a
devoted servant. You say, you lay your dignity of bim bashi at my

"Yes, highness, I lay all at your feet; and all that I am I wish to
receive at your hands."

"Well, then, if your destiny rests with me, I must promote the bim
bashi to a higher dignity. From this moment the bim bashi is the
sarechsme, the general of the Albanian troops. You are their
countryman, and you shall be their leader."

"O highness, how great is your generosity!" exclaims Mohammed, his
countenance beaming with joy.

Cousrouf had observed him closely, and the young man's delight
showed him that he had acquired in Mohammed a true and devoted
friend, and he will have great need of such friends in the impending
struggles to uphold his power, which the course pursued by his
friend the capitan pacha will have made inevitable. The bloody
massacre at Aboukir, which the capitan claims as a friendly service
rendered him, has, he well knows, made him many passionate and
irreconcilable enemies. Yes, he needs true friends, and Mohammed
shall be chained to his service through gratitude.

Mohammed expresses his gratitude and devotion in such eloquent terms
that Cousrouf's heart is touched, and he feels impelled to address
some kindly words to the new sarechsme. He dismisses Hassan Aga with
friendly greetings to the capitan pacha, and motioned to the
sarechsme to remain. Cousrouf walks thoughtfully to and fro in the
room for a time, his gold-embroidered caftan trailing on the carpet
behind him, and the crescent on his turban glittering in the
sunlight. Mohammed raises his eyes for an instant, and sees the
figure sweep past him like a brilliant meteor. Quickly he casts down
his eyes again, that his soul's inmost thoughts may not be betrayed,
and least of all to the viceroy. No one but Allah hears the oath
that now resounds in his soul, as he stands in an humble attitude at
the door, waiting to be addressed. "I have sworn vengeance, and I
will keep my oath. Vengeance for Masa; vengeance for the torments I
have endured. My head is now bowed in humility before you, yet I
swear to repay you for the evil you have done me; not by killing
you, but by torturing your soul. We are alone, without witnesses; it
were an easy thing to slay you. The door stands open, and I could
flee before the deed could be known. But death is no revenge for
years of torture. You shall live, and live in agony and pain. Thus
will Mohammed Ali be avenged!"

In his heart he swears this oath. His lips do not quiver; no feature
of his countenance betrays what is passing within. Cousrouf stands
still before him, and lays his hand on Mohammed's shoulder. "Look at
me, Mohammed!"

The latter looks up, and the eyes of both are firmly fixed on each
other. The young general divines Cousrouf's thoughts, but the pacha
does not divine Mohammed's.

"You said that the Mohammed of the days when I resided in Cavalla is
dead. Is it true?"

"Yes, highness, it is true. He is dead, or he has at least
transformed himself into a better man. Yet, highness, he suffered
much before he could accomplish this transformation."

"That I can readily believe," says Cousrouf, in low tones. "I have
often regretted having caused you this misery. Yet you must have
become satisfied yourself, young man, that I could not do otherwise.
I acted in accordance with the law."

"You only acted in accordance with the law," replies Mohammed, in a
low voice. "The law ordains that the faithless runaway be punished,
and also he with whom she has fled. The captured slave was killed,
and it seems to me it was an act of clemency to permit him who loved
her to witness her execution without being able to help her. Yes, an
act of great clemency. You might have punished me more severely."

Again Cousrouf gazes into his countenance searchingly. The tone of
his voice is mild and submissive, yet his words bear stings.

"I should think, Mohammed, that death itself were preferable to the
punishment of being compelled to witness the execution of the
beloved without being able to help her. In the years that have since
passed, I have often thought that it was cruel, and wished I had not
dealt so harshly with you. Does it suffice that I confess this to
you? Will you say this to the other--the dead and transformed--and
will it console him?"

"O master, what magnanimity!" exclaims Mohammed.

"You are generous enough to confess that you feel regret at having
done justice to that slave?"

"I was passionate, and you had excited my wrath," replies the pacha,
gently inclining his head.

"Not I, highness," says Mohammed, smiling. "Not I, the sarechsme,
but that wild, insolent boy, Mohammed, of whom no trace now remains.
He is buried in the sea, at the place where the waves closed over
Masa. Yet, if that Mohammed still lived and heard what you say, he
would bow down in the dust before the great man who condescends to
confess that he regrets what he has done. However, should I see that
Mohammed, I will tell him of this never-to-be-forgotten

"I will give you a souvenir of this hour," says Cousrouf, gently. "I
am so happy myself to-day that I desire to see the happy only about
me. You are now a general. I should like to see you worthily fitted
out for your new dignity. Have you a steed suitable to your rank?"

"I am poor, highness, and have nothing but the salary which your
highness will bestow on me."

"Above all, you must have a good horse. I have received from the
grand-sultan, in Stamboul, in honor of my entrance into Cairo, four
beautiful horses. I make you a present of one of them. Go down to
the stables; they shall be shown you, and you shall select the one
that pleases you best. Be still! no word of thanks! Show your
gratitude by serving me faithfully. Are you already provided with a

"No, highness. The bim bashi had but just arrived with Hassan Aga
from Alexandria, and has as yet had no time to look after a

"A house shall be prepared for you," said the pacha; "I will see to
this myself. Remain in my palace to-day; tomorrow you shall have a
house of your own. Now go and select the best of the horses. I hope
you are a connoisseur, and will easily pick out the best one; it
shall be delivered to you completely equipped." He calls a slave who
stood waiting without, and commands him to conduct the sarechsme to
the courtyard, and order the horses to be led before him.

Mohammed, his head bowed down in profound reverence, withdraws to
the door, walking backward. Cousrouf follows him with his eyes until
the door has closed behind him, and then a smile glides over his

"This man is won over to my interests. He is right; he is
transformed, body and soul, and he is mine. And truly such a friend
is a valuable possession."

Mohammed descends with the slave to the court-yard. The latter
hastily summons the equerry, and delivers his master's message. The
beautiful horses, with their splendid trappings, are now led before
Mohammed. The new sarechsme selects the handsomest and best; he
wishes to show the viceroy that he can judge of the beauty and fire
of a horse. Mohammed then retires to the rooms set apart for him in
a wing of the palace. When left alone, his grave countenance
relaxes, and a triumphant smile plays about his lips.

"The work is begun," murmurs he to himself. "The viceroy has himself
called his enemy to his side. He thinks, with his favor and
flattery, to make me forget what I have endured. He shall learn that
Mohammed Ali never forgives. You are lost, Cousrouf, for you
slumber, while I watch and will take advantage of your slumber.
Beware, Cousrouf, beware! I will not be your murderer, you shall
live, but I will humble you; you shall sink down in the dust before
me! Let that be the revenge for Masa, my white dove, and for



She was reposing in her garden-kiosk. She had ordered her female
slaves to place themselves in the rear of some rose-bushes in the
background, and make sweet harmony with their cymbals and clarinets.
She wished to be left alone with her thoughts. She lay reclining at
full length on her silver-embroidered silken cushions. The white
silk dress, inworked with crimson roses, enfolded her closely,
displaying the contour of her graceful form. The sunlight pierced
the airy latticework of the kiosk, around which clustered roses and
orange-blossoms, and shed a soft light over her charming
countenance. The veil, which Sitta Nefysseh only wears when she goes
into the streets or meets strangers in her house, is laid aside.

Beautiful is Sitta Nefysseh, more beautiful than a young girl, than
the unblown rose, radiant with loveliness and dignity. "Queen of the
Roses," thus is she called by all Cairo.

Who does not know her--who has not heard of her, of the Rose of
Cairo, of the wife of the great Mourad Bey, the Mameluke chieftain?
Even the Franks bowed humbly before her grace and dignity, and the
scha-er sings and relates, on the street-corners, of the French
general, Kleber, who loved Mourad's beautiful wife, and who often,
in the stillness of the evening, haunted the vicinity of his palace,
awaiting, perhaps, an opportunity to invade the harem in which the
Rose of Cairo dwelt. And in his songs he also intimates that the
dagger-stroke which lay the general low near the palace, was dealt
at the instigation of the jealous bey.

Who does not know Sitta Nefysseh, the benefactress of the poor, the
proud heroine who fought at her husband's side, who shared with
Mourad the dangers of war, a heroine in battle, a gentle, modest
woman in the harem?

All is still about her. The waters of the fountains near the kiosk
murmur gently as they fall in the basins beneath, as if to lull the
beautiful woman to rest with their music, and now the soft music
from behind the rose-bushes is also wafted over, to the kiosk.

The slaves accompany the instruments with their voices.

What are they singing? What song is this that exults and is yet
filled with sadness? whose strains are so passionate, so lamenting,
so longing?

Sitta Nefysseh well knows what they are; although the words are
inaudible, yet she knows them, knows the sad love-song "of her whom
he loved, of him who slew her." The song is a familiar one. But why
does it excite such emotion in her heart, why do her large black
eyes fill with tears? She would permit no one to see these tears,
she would quickly brush them from her sparkling eyes with her hand,
white as the lily, if the eye of any human being could now behold

But no one sees her--Sitta Nefysseh is alone.

At least she thinks so. The pair of black eyes that peer out from
behind the shrubbery and flowers near the garden-wall, she does not
see, and yet these eyes are fixed with such anguish and longing,
with such passionate ardor, on the lovely woman who lies there
dreamily on her cushions.

Of what is she dreaming? The slaves are singing of love and bliss;
the waters murmuring of love and bliss, and, in the heart of the
beautiful Sitta Nefysseh, there are also singing, sighing, and
murmuring of love and bliss!

People say that Sitta Nefysseh is proud and has a cold heart. Love
has never dared to approach her since the death of her husband,
Mourad Bey. She is kindly in her manner toward all, yet no one dares
suppose she views him with more favor than others. She keeps all men
at a distance; they all love her and bow down in reverence and
adoration before her, but Sitta Nefysseh remains proud and cold; she
loves no one!

This the people say, and, if she heard it, she would nod her
beautiful head, would smile and say: "They are right, I love no one.
Mourad Bey, my husband and my hero, him I loved! Since he is dead, I
am alone and love no one!"

The black eyes are still peering out through the shrubbery and
flowers, fixed on her with passionate ardor. She does not see them;
but now, as she raises her head as if to rise from her cushions,
these eyes quickly disappear, and a tall, manly figure, stooping
forward behind the trees and shrubbery, glides noiselessly along to
the gate that leads into the inner court-yard. But, before he steps
out, young Youssouf stands still, draws a long breath, and seems to
summon all his resolution to his aid to resist the charm that
carries him away.

"If she knew that I watched her, she would drive me from her, and
then Youssouf would die. Alas! she may not dream that I love her,
she is proud and unapproachable, and what am I to her? The poor
kachef of her deceased husband! She tolerates me as she tolerates
the dog that is accustomed to lie on the threshold of her door.
Alas, I should die if she knew of Youssouf's love for her!"

Kachef Youssouf is handsome, and, were it not the noble Sitta
Nefysseh, exception would be taken to a woman's having so handsome a
kachef in her service. But Sitta Nefysseh is unapproachable, virtue
attends her in all her ways, modesty and dignity are everywhere her
companions. No one dares approach her chaste reputation with even a
breath of reproach.

Youssouf steps into the inner court-yard; he lays his hand on his
brown beard and strokes its curly locks.

"Be a man," murmur his lips. "Be resolute. Alas! I could endure not
being the one if no other dared approach her. But here comes one of
them already. He can approach her and speak of love. Woe is me!"

With profound deference, and forcing his features into a smile,
Youssouf approached Osman Bey Bardissi, who at this moment came into
the court, mounted on his proud, splendidly-equipped steed, and
followed by a body of his Mamelukes.

"Is your mistress at home?" asked Bardissi, springing lightly to the
ground, and throwing the purple-silk reins to the Mameluke who
hurried forward.

"Yes, Sitta Nefysseh is in the park. She is resting in the kiosk,
and I will announce to the female slaves that Osman Bey Bardissi
wishes to see their mistress."

"Do so, Kachef Youssouf," said Bardissi. "But first listen to me.
How would you like to be taken into my service, kachef? you are too
good for this life of inactivity? If you desire it, I will ask Sitta
Nefysseh to give you your freedom?"

"Give me my freedom? I am free!" said Youssouf, regarding Bardissi
with proud composure. "I was a Mameluke with Mourad, as you know. My
noble master had purchased me; he loved me, and often told me I
should remain with him while I lived. He made me kachef, first
kachef of his house. I swore eternal fidelity to him and to his
house, and I will keep my oath."

"I do not doubt it," replied Bardissi, in kindly tones; "I only
mean, Youssouf, that you are too young not to wish to wield the
sword and join us in the conflict that is soon to be renewed. Poor
Youssouf, you will then be shut out from our ranks, for Sitta
Nefysseh no longer sends her Mamelukes with us to battle; she now
uses them for her service only, and I am certain she would be well
pleased if her kachef Youssouf, as it becomes him, draws his sword
to win laurels in the field. You can make something great of
yourself. Look at me, Youssouf: I was what you are; like you a
Mameluke, also like you a kachef, and could let my beard grow, and
now I am a Mameluke bey, and three thousand servants follow me to
battle. You might accomplish as much, Youssouf."

"I am satisfied with what I am, and ask for nothing more," replied
the kachef. "I swore to Mourad Bey to serve him and his house my
life long, and I will keep my oath: I therefore entreat you to say
nothing to Sitta Nefysseh. She might be displeased."

"I will not," replied Bardissi; "remain true to your word. And now
go and inquire whether your mistress can see me."

Youssouf hastened to where the slaves were still singing their
melancholy song, and sent one of them down into the park to inform
her that the Mameluke bey, Osman Bardissi, had come, and desired to
see her.

The slave advanced timidly to the entrance of the kiosk, and
announced the visitor to Sitta Nefysseh, who, awakening from a dream
she had dreamed with open eyes, gently inclined her head.

"He is welcome. Conduct him to me.--Come nearer, ye slaves, and seat
yourselves behind that clump of rose-bushes. You can sing and play
while I am receiving my visitor, for Osman Bey loves music. Do me
honor, my slaves, and sing the love-songs of Djumeil and his Lubna."

Bardissi cannot see these musicians as he advances toward the kiosk,
conducted by the slave; he only hears and rejoices in their song.

Sitta Nefysseh has risen from her cushions, but she has not covered
her face with the veil which, fastened to her hair with golden
clasps, falls back over her shoulders. The widow, and above all the
widow of the bey, is allowed to remain unveiled in the presence of a
friend. The great prophet never commanded that the wives of Moslems
should appear veiled in their own houses; the jealousy of their
husbands had gradually imposed this burden upon them. Conscious of
her own worth and dignity, Sitta Nefysseh feels herself free to
disregard such requirement. She turns her lovely countenance with a
gentle smile toward the advancing bey, and Bardissi feels the glance
of her large eyes, though he does not see them. He feels it, and
moves not, a slight tremor possessing itself of his entire being.

What! Bardissi trembles!--the hero, who amid the din of battle
joyously confronts the death-dealing cannon, who never trembles,
though face to face with a whole forest of spears--Bardissi trembles
and turns pale!

Sitta Nefysseh sees it, and her smile brightens. "Why do you
hesitate to approach, Osman? and what have you to say to me, friend
of my husband, Mourad Bey?"

She wishes to remind him that he had been Mourad's friend. He well
understands her meaning, and, stepping quickly forward, falls on his
knee before her, and reverently kisses the hem of her dress.

"I paused, O Sitta, Rose of Cairo--I paused because I heard the song
of the slaves--they are singing my favorite song."

"The song is known to you?" said Sitta Nefysseh.

"It is. Do you know, Sitta, when I first heard this song?"

"I do not," replied she, shaking her head gently.

"May I tell you?"

"Do so; seat yourself on the marble stool standing at the entrance
of the kiosk, and tell me."

She falls back upon her cushion with the easy grace of a swan. But
Bardissi does not take the seat so graciously assigned him. He steps
forward and remains standing in front of Sitta Nefysseh, gazing down
upon her with reverence and delight, as though his glances were a
consecrated gold-inworked veil in which he wishes to envelop her
lovely form, and draw her to his heart.

"Well, Osman Bey, when did you first hear this song?"

He remains silent for a moment; the bees are humming in the air, the
fountains flashing, and from the distance the words of the song the
slaves are singing are wafted over by the gentle breeze:

"Thee alone on earth have I loved. My longing heart is drawn to
thee. And, though this earth were heaven, and it contained my Lubna
not, I'd wander rather through the gates of hell if I but knew my
Lubna there!"

"If I but knew my Lubna there!" repeated Osman Bey, in low,
tremulous tones.--"You wish to know when I first heard this song? I
will tell you. It was on the evening of a bloody day of battle; I
had ridden at the side of our great chieftain, Mourad Bey. He called
me his friend, his--"

"His favorite," said Sitta Nefysseh, interrupting him. "He said he
loved you like a brother, and would confide to you without fear or
hesitation all he loved best--his wife, his child--knowing that they
would be guarded and held sacred as though they were in the holiest
niche of the mosque. Yes, my noble husband loved you. And now, speak
on. You had gone out to battle."

"Yes, it was a bloody day. The angel of death hovered over us, and
the swords of the enemy swept heavily upon our ranks. A sabre-stroke
dealt by Bashi Seref fell upon the sword-arm of my noble friend,
striking him down and disabling him. The Turk was preparing to deal
a second blow, when I struck him to the earth with my ataghan. I
then bore my friend from the conflict to his tent, and there you
were, Sitta Nefysseh. You received the hero from my arms, and for
the first time I saw your unveiled countenance. I then returned to
the battle, and took Mourad's place at the head of his Mamelukes.
Whether it was anger over the wounding of my friend, or the bliss
caused by the lovely image I had beheld, I know not, but my arm was
strong and mighty, and love and heroism exulted in my heart. I
called out to the Mamelukes, `We must and will die or conquer!' But,
being still too young to die, and loving life too well, we
conquered. The enemy was driven from the field, and ours was the
victory. We encamped on the field after the bloody conflict; and
then, having won the victory, I felt privileged, when evening came,
to repair to Mourad's tent to report our success.

"No one was there to announce me; I drew back the curtain and
entered the first room. No one was there, and the curtain of the
inner apartment of the tent was half drawn aside. I went no farther,
knowing that the wounded Mourad lay there on his cushions, and that
Sitta Nefysseh was with him. I knew this because I heard her
singing; she sang her beloved to sleep as a mother lulls her babe to
rest, or as the houris sing in paradise, when they in wondrous
melody announce the joys of heaven to dying mortals.

"I remained standing in the tent and listened to your song, Sitta
Nefysseh. You sang to your husband of love and happiness--sang in
sweet words what Djumeil says to his Lubna: `Nature breathes love.
The bird in the air sings of love; the spring which bubbles at your
feet murmurs of love; the rose that blossoms in the garden sheds
love's fragrance--all is love and bliss. Woe to them who know
nothing more of love, woe to them who bear a cold heart in their
bosom.' This you sang, Sitta Nefysseh, and I stood listening,
entranced. What I then felt was so all-absorbing, so divinely
beautiful, that I was unwilling to have the harmony of that sweet
moment broken in upon by the voice of man. I silently withdrew; your
song informed me that Mourad slept and was in heavenly bliss. I
noiselessly left the tent, and stepped out into the night. The moon
shed its soft light around, enveloping the white tents scattered
over the plain and the terrors of the day in a heavenly, silver

"I did not return to my tent that night, however. Where was I? If
you should ask, Sitta Nefysseh, I could not tell you. But this much
I can tell you, I was in paradise! I thought of this when I just now
heard your slaves sing the song I then heard for the first time, and
that has resounded in my heart ever since. I covered it with thick
veils, and laid my hand on it to silence it: and I found it possible
to do so while my noble friend Mourad still lived. I forced my heart
to bury in its depths its wishes and longings. I have been silent,
Sitta Nefysseh, not only while Mourad lived, but I have also honored
the period allotted to a widow's mourning. But this is now passed;
pain has vanisbed from your heart, I trust. Your heavenly
countenance is again radiant with youthful loveliness, and no longer
shows the traces of sorrow."

"It is true, Osman Bey," said Nefysseh, with a low sigh; "time heals
all wounds, and sorrow no longer darkens my soul; yet know that
Mourad Bey still lives in my heart, and it is because he still lives
for me that I am able to bear this life and this separation."

"I well know, O Sitta, your fidelity, your noble sentiments,"
replied Bardissi; "it is this knowledge that makes me adore and
reverence you; and were it not strange if I, too, could ever forget
the man who loved you so passionately, and whose memory you still
love? But such love, Sitta, excites no jealousy, and even he who
loves passionately respects such love. Listen to me, Sitta Nefysseh;
hear why I have come to you; I can endure it no longer; the seal
must at last fall from his lips, and Bardissi must give utterance to
what he feels, to that which glows in his heart, and can no longer
be repressed. Yes, Sitta Nefysseh, you must at last hear that I am
dying for love, and that if you refuse to hear me, I must--"

"Silence!" exclaimed Nefysseh, interrupting him, with queenly
composure, as she rose from her seat--"silence, Osman Bey! do you
not know that my husband Mourad lived here in this garden, in this
place? How could his wife, Sitta Nefysseh, have received you
unveiled if her husband had not stood by her side? Do you not see
him, Osman Bey? Do you not see his eyes fixed on you with an angry
expression, and do not his lips ask his friend how he can betray
friendship? What was your promise to Mourad? To honor and guard his
wife while you lived."

"And I will, Sitta Nefysseh. I do guard and honor her, but I also
love her as ardently as ever man loved woman!" exclaimed Bardissi,
in passionate tones. "Does not man honor woman most when he loves
her best? How can I better prove my adoration and reverence than by
laying my life at your feet, and saying, in tones of humble
entreaty, `Sitta Nefysseh, be my wife, follow me to my house, and be
mistress of myself and of all that I am?"

"Do not say this, Osman Bey, I entreat you, do not speak thus to
me!" cried Sitta Nefysseh in a loud voice. "It would give pain to me
to have to answer you, and it will be better not to have heard your
words. I call you friend, and I wish you to remain my friend all
your life long. Yet, hear me; my heart is open to no other love, and
my hands must remain unfettered. Mourad's widow remains true to
herself, and to him who dwells in her heart, and is ever at her
side. Let us forget, Osman, what you, carried away by your
friendship, have said. You thought Mourad's wife felt herself alone
in the world, and, out of friendship for your deceased friend, you
desired to offer her the support of your heroic hand. If ever I
should need assistance, and a friend, rest assured, Osman, I shall
call on you. But now, step back, one of my slaves is approaching
with a message. Turn your countenance away, Osman, it looks so
gloomy and passionate; I would not have her notice your love."

He turns aside, and seems to be listening to the distant singing and
playing of the slaves; he, however, hears the slave, who now enters
the kiosk, announce that L'Elfi Bey desires to see her mistress. He
hears it, and shudders. L'Elfi Bey, his friend and companion-in-
arms; what brings him here to Mourad's widow?

Sitta Nefysseh sends word that the bey is welcome, and the slave
departs on her errand.

"L'Elfi Bey is permitted to come to you!"

"And why not?" asked she proudly. "Was not Osman Bey permitted to
visit me, and was not L'Elfi also my husband's friend?"

"It is true; forgive my thoughtlessness," replied Osman in low and
almost angry tones. "Permit me to take my leave, Sitta Nefysseh. I
do not wish to disturb your interview with the great L'Elfi Bey."

"On the contrary, you will please remain," replied she, quietly,
gracefully drawing her fragrant veil over her head, and covering her

Bardissi's heroic countenance became radiant with delight. She had
received him unveiled, and now that L'Elfi comes she veils herself.
Allah be praised, that is a favorable omen; a ray of light
penetrating the gloom that enveloped his soul; he has seen her
unveiled, and --

"L'Elfi Bey comes," said Sitta Nefysseh, rising to welcome her new



Haughtily erect, the bey advanced, followed by four Mamelukes in
rich, gold-embroidered garments, who bore a casket covered with a
purple cloth, whose golden fringe hung down to the ground.

As L'Elfi came near, his countenance assumed a deferential
appearance, and, his arms crossed on his breast, he stepped forward
and bowed profoundly before Sitta Nefysseh.

"Queen of my heart, sun of my eyes! Allow me to do homage, and to
lay my present at your feet as a token of my devotion!"

He beckoned to the Mamelukes to come forward and lay the casket down
before her.

"I rejoice that you have come, L'Elfi," said Nefysseh, quietly. "I
rejoice, because it proves that your wounds are now healed, as are
those of Osman Bey. Yet, I see no necessity for such outward proofs
of your friendship."

"O Sitta Nefysseh!" cried L'Elfi. "One brings his offerings to the
good spirits, and, if I were a heathen, I would say, 'I lay on the
altar of my goddess the tokens of my adoration, of my love!'"

"You are, however, no heathen, but a Moslem; and what becomes a
heathen does not become the brave Mameluke L'Elfi Bey!"

"What I am elsewhere is forgotten," cried L'Elfi; "here I am nothing
but your slave, nothing but a man who would gladly pluck the stars
from heaven to lay them at your feet! Therefore allow me to do
homage to my queen as my heart prompts!"

He drew the cloth from the casket, and golden dishes, goblets, and
vases, glittered in the sunshine; and these vessels contained
jewelry of varied design, set with precious stones that would have
delighted the eyes of many.

Sitta Nefysseh regarded all this magnificence with an air of

"Accept the offering my adoration lays at your feet!" entreated
L'Elfi. "You know I was with the British general in England, and,
while there, I thought of you, and, before the ship left London, it
was for days my sole occupation and endeavor to select beautiful
things for you from among the articles displayed in the magnificent
stores. I could not bring them with me, but they were sent after me,
and have this day arrived. Pray accept them at the hands of your

"It seems to me that no one is privileged to offer Mourad Bey's
widow presents of such value," said she, almost severely. "Yet," she
continued in milder tones, "I will not humiliate him who was my
husband's friend and companion. I will accept your gifts; they shall
be placed in the saloon, and all the world shall see how L'Elfi Bey
seeks to honor the widow of his former chieftain and friend. Thus
will I accept your gifts, and give you thanks for them!--Come, Osman
Bardissi!" she continued in louder tones, beckoning to the bey, who
stood without in the shade of an oleander-tree--"come and see the
magnificent presents which L'Elfi Bey has brought me from England!"

L'Elfi's countenance darkened, and he recoiled a step almost in
anger. "What! Osman Bey is here?"

"And why not? He has recovered from the wounds received at Aboukir.
Does it not become him to pay his respects to me? He has this
privilege in common with yourself."

"True, my queen; pray forgive me for daring to find fault with your
pleasure.--I greet you, Osman Bey Bardissi. I am glad to see you
here! And now, I pray you, let me also see the gifts which you have
brought the Rose of Cairo in token of your reverence and devotion.
What becomes you, becomes me also; and, as Sitta Nefysseh has
allowed you to see what I have brought, she will not refuse to
permit me to see the offering of your devotion."

"You shall see it, L'Elfi Bey," said Osman, in a somewhat derisive
tone. He stepped to the lattice-work of the kiosk, and, plucking the
most beautiful crimson rose he could see, knelt down before Sitta
Nefysseh and laid it at her feet. "This, Sitta, is my gift. I lay at
your feet, the most beautiful of your sisters, your image!"

She smiled. "I thank you, Osman Bey, and gladly accept your
offering, for Allah has created it."

He handed her the rose. She took it, held it to her face, and
inhaled its fragrance. She then gracefully fell back on her cushion.

"Arise, Bardissi!" said she. "I have accepted the gifts of both of
you; and, now that you are both the same in sentiment, but one thing
is wanting."

"And what is this one thing still wanting?"

"Grasp each other's hands," said she, smiling. "I know that you have
long been at enmity with each other; discord prevails in the land of
my great beys. Let hatred now be set aside. You are both mighty and
renowned, but your power will be much greater if you join hands. Let
your followers see that you stand united against the common enemy.
Oh, how can the fatherland be saved when its defenders are at enmity
with each other! The enemy has grown stronger. You know that new
troops have arrived here from Turkey, and a man is at their head, of
whom I will announce to you that he is dangerous. Therefore grasp
hands, and let me see that you are friends!"

"Then let it be so," said Bardissi, after a pause. "See, Sitta
Nefysseh, how great your power over me.--Here, L'Elfi, my hand! Let
us unitedly face the enemy!"

L'Elfi slowly and hesitatingly laid his band in that of Osman Bey.
"I accept your hand, Osman, in token of our resolve to confront the
enemy together. But, before I declare myself your friend, I must
first know whether you are my rival or not."

Osman Bey quickly withdrew his hand. "A rival, L'Elfi! and with whom
do you suppose me to be your rival?"

"With you, O Sitta Nefysseh!" said L'Elfi, falling on his knee
before her, "With you, whom I adore as one adores the sun and the
stars. For your love, I can tolerate no rival!--And now I beg you to
withdraw, Osman Bey; I have that to say to Sitta Nefysseh which no
other should hear."

Osman regarded him fiercely. "I should like to know if L'Elfi is
privileged to advise or command Osman Bey Bardissi here, where it
devolves upon Sitta Nefysseh alone to determine who shall go, and
who remain."

"Then decide, O Sitta!" said L'Elfi.

"You shall both go; neither shall remain," replied she, sadly. "I
see that you are still enemies. Oh, I tell you, you will reap a
bitter harvest from this bitter seed. The struggle, in which you
should present to the enemy a united front, already begins, and you
are still at enmity. Therefore, I say to you, leave me, and return
no more; while hatred exists between you, you shall never more come
into my presence!"

"Forgiveness, forgiveness! Our hatred shall be forgotten!" exclaimed
both, falling upon their knees before her.

"My only entreaty is this," cried L'Elfi. "Allow me a brief quarter
of an hour. Was not Osman Bey honored with an audience alone, and
would it not become you to show me the same favor?"

"He was the first who came," replied she, quickly, "and, therefore,
was I alone with him. Had you accompanied him, you would have heard
what he had to say, just as he shall hear what you have to say."

"Then let it be so; he shall hear!" exclaimed L'Elfi, springing to
his feet. He first turned haughtily to Osman Bey, and then bowed
profoundly before Sitta Nefysseh. "Let the whole world hear what
L'Elfi has to say to the widow of his friend. He comes here to lay
all he possesses at your feet. He desires to consecrate to you his
life and heart's blood, and entreats the loveliest and noblest of
women to hear his prayers. L'Elfi is free! No wife has ever stood at
his side; he has no harem, as many others have. He has never, like
others, reclined on soft cushions gazing at the dancing of the
voluptuous almehs--has loved naught but his sword and ataghan; but
his heart is now inclined in love and humility toward you, the only
woman it owns as its mistress; and I now entreat you, O Sitta
Nefysseh, queen of my heart, become also queen of my house and

"As he entreats, so do I entreat also!" cried Osman Bey, in angry
tones, thrusting L'Elfi aside, and falling on his knee before her.
"Be mine, Nefysseh! True, I have loved others, and have also looked
with pleasure at the dancing of the female slaves in the harem, yet
I have hitherto adored no woman. Military glory, my adoration
heretofore, grows pale when Sitta Nefysseh appears, and all else
that I have loved and hoped for is as nothing in her presence. For
your sake, I will sacrifice not only life, but renown. Command, and
I will be your slave; at your feet will I lay my sword and dagger.
With my head bowed down, and my beard shorn, will I follow you into
the desert, blessing each day and hour in which I am permitted to
look upon my queen. Now, O Sitta Nefysseh, you know what Osman Bey
Bardissi feels, and that he can boast of a greater love than L'Elfi;
he even offers to sacrifice renown for you! Decide whom you will
bless, Nefysseh! One thing more I will say to you: if you select the
hand of my rival, and command me to love him, I cannot promise to do
so! Yet this I swear, that I will be contented with your choice, and
that I will never seek to take or shorten his life. Consider,
Nefysseh, that this is the most enormous sacrifice that Osman can
make for the woman he loves; he promises not to kill him upon whom
she bestows her hand."

"And you, L'Elfi," said Nefysseh, in a soft voice, "will you swear
the same?"

"I will," cried L'Elfi. "I swear that I will do as Osman Bey has
said--I will still detest my enemy, but I will not kill him whom you
love. Now speak, Sitta Nefysseh, and decide between us!"

For a moment all were silent. The two beys awaited her decision with
wildly-throbbing hearts. She was still silent, her large eyes turned
toward heaven with a wondrous expression.

At this moment the song of the slaves, accompanied by the music of
the clarinet and violin, again resounded from the midst of the
oleander and rose-bushes. The voice of a slave arose, singing of a
slave who loves his mistress, and dies because of her indifference.
He has borne this bitter sorrow for long days and nights, and dares
not tell the tale of his love. He bore it, and was blessed in being
permitted to see her, but her heart was cold and knew no love for
him. But greater unhappiness was in store for him. One day there
came a proud and mighty bey, and succeeded in winning the love of
his adored; and Fate willed it that the poor, tortured slave should
see her eyes fixed on the bey in a loving gaze, and he also saw him
fall on his knees before his mistress and take her hand and carry it
to his lips. Then the poor slave's heart broke, and, falling to the
earth, he died, sighing, "I love thee!"

All three had listened to the sad air and words of the song. Sitta
Nefysseh now turned to the beys.

"This song has no bearing upon you. You will never see Sitta
Nefysseh give her love and hand to another! You who were my
husband's friends I will ever consider my friends! But hear me:
Mourad's widow will never marry again! As I knelt at the death-bed
of my husband, bathing his wound with my tears, I swore that I would
ever remain true to him I had loved so ardently my life long, and
never become the wife of another. And now I ask, noble beys, can you
desire Mourad's widow to perjure herself? I know you will say the
heart knows no oaths, love cannot be restrained. That may be, but do
not speak of it to me. You have come to ask with which of you I will
share the remainder of my days; I ask you, decide yourselves, can I
break this solemn oath?"

The two beys bow their heads still deeper, and sigh profoundly.

"Decide!" repeated Sitta Nefysseh.

They raise their heads and gaze at her sadly. "No, Sitta Nefysseh!
You may not break the oath to your husband, sworn in the name of
Allah and the prophet! No, you can never bestow your hand upon
another. Alas, that this is so! alas, that we must submit!"

"No, it is well that it is so!" said Sitta Nefysseh, with a soft
smile. "Mourad's widow has the right to be the friend of both of
you; she may hold out her hands to you and say: `Be my friends, my
brothers, and, as you love me, also love one another.' For the
second time I entreat you, grasp each other's hands and be friends.
For both let there be one common enemy--the enemy who confronts you
on the field of battle--the Turk! Grasp hands in love and

The two beys grasped each other's hands firmly.

"Let it be as our friend and sister wishes; she shall see us united.
Let there be for us but one common enemy--the Turk!"

"An enemy who grows stronger each day!" said Sitta Nefysseh. "We
thought to have peace when the Franks should have left, but
unfortunately it is not so. The Turks are resolved to subjugate us.
I know they will not rest until they have overthrown and destroyed
the haughty Mameluke beys! They are continually bringing new troops,
into the country, and their leader is a dangerous enemy, believe

"For the second time you speak of this `dangerous enemy.' Tell us,
Sitta, who is he?"

"He it is," said she, in earnest tones, "who brought the letter to
the capitan pacha at Aboukir; he it is who confronted you in that
bloody struggle, and whose courage, boldness, and determination,
captured the stronghold Rosetta. I have read the countenance of the
sarechsme, and in his eye I have recognized the lion and the fox
combined. Before him, I for the first time in my life experienced
fear. Beware of him; if possible, make a friend of him, for the
sarechsme, Mohammed Ali, would prove a mighty ally!"

"I know him well," said Osman Bey, smiling. "I met him when a boy,
and even then we confronted each other as enemies. A short time
since I met him again, and he then protected me from the fury of his
soldiers; and I am grateful. I will endeavor, Sitta, to win him over
to our interests, as you suggest. If we succeed, and when this
formidable enemy shall have become our ally, the Mameluke beys will
have great cause to congratulate themselves, and thank Sitta
Nefysseh again."

"The only proof of your gratitude that I ask is, that you stand
united. Thank me by pronouncing my name when you stand side by side
on the battle-field, from which you have driven the enemy!"

"We will do so. Your name will I pronounce when I go out to battle!
And your name will my lips utter, O Sitta Nefysseh, when I sink down
upon the bloody field!" Thus spoke both, and then bowed profoundly
before Mourad's widow.

"And now you may go," said she, gently. "Walk arm-in-arm through the
Muskj Street, that all the world may see that the two greatest
Mameluke beys are friends. If these are united, then will the
struggle soon terminate. Now go and show the people that you are

"And if they express surprise at our friendship," cried Osman Bey,
his eyes sparkling, "we will say Mourad's widow wills it so, and we
humbly and cheerfully obey."

"Yes, we will say this," cried l'Elfi, joyously. "Mourad's widow
commanded us to be united, and therefore are we united.--And now let
us go, Osman Bey; it is, however, not necessary that we walk arm-in-
arm here; only when we have passed the threshold of this house shall
Osman give me his arm, that the world may see your influence over

Osman Bey walked rapidly down the avenue. L'Elfi followed him slowly
and hesitatingly, looking back twice at Sitta Nefysseh. The latter
waved her hand deprecatingly, and he then rapidly followed Osman.

Sitta Nefysseh sighed profoundly as the two disappeared through the
gateway, falling back upon her cushions as if overwhelmed with
grief. She heard nothing of the music, that still resounded from the
rose-bushes; she heard only the secret and sacred voices which
lamented in her soul, and she shuddered at what they said.

"No, no, it may not be," said she to herself. "I saved myself from
their importunity by the falsehood of the oath. I never swore to my
husband that Mourad's wife would become the wife of no other. It was
not because an oath bound her that she rejected them; but because
her heart so willed it. Not without love is Mourad's widow; but whom
she loves no one must know, no one must even suspect."

She arose and threw back her veil to wipe away the tears that burned
her eyes. Suddenly she trembled, a deep blush overspreading her
countenance. She saw the young kachef Youssouf coming up the walk.
She saw his proud, erect figure, his countenance full of youthful
freshness and nobility. She drew heir veil more closely about her;
but the veil cannot hide the brightness of her eyes. They fairly
sparkled as he advanced. He approached slowly. She seemed not to see
him, leaned back on her cushions, raised the crimson rose to her
face, and inhaled its fragrance. Kachef Youssouf, his arms folded on
his breast, stood at the entrance of the kiosk.

"Sitta Nefysseh, mistress, you command to have your carriage ready,
as you wished to drive out at this hour. It is ready, and I humbly
ask if it is your pleasure to go now, and if I may have the honor of
accompanying your suite, and riding at the side of your carriage?"

Sitta Nefysseh, who was still inhaling the fragrance of the rose,
slowly let fall her hand to her side, and the flower fell from her
fingers to the ground.

"You are an attentive, punctual servant," said she. "I thank you; I
will drive out at once with two of my women; you may ride beside my

Sitta Nefysseh arose and left the kiosk. She passed close by him,
and her white veil lightly touched Youssouf's shoulder. He stood as
if touched by a magic wand and fixed to the spot. He could not
follow his mistress, who walked proudly toward the place where the
women awaited her. He followed her with his eyes, however, and saw
how her long flowing garment adjusted itself to her lovely figure,
and how her white veil fluttered about her noble head, enveloping it
as with a delicate white cloud.

"Would that I were the wind that kisses your cheek!" murmured he,
lost in contemplation of his idol. "Would I were the sand your foot
blesses with its touch! To die near you, beholding you in death,
were heavenly bliss."

Sitta Nefysseh had disappeared behind the clump of bushes. Kachef
Youssouf still stood before the kiosk. He listened. The music had
ceased. He knew that his mistress was returning with her women to
the house. He hastily glanced around the garden, fastening his
large, black eyes, on every bush, as if expecting to find an enemy
concealed there. No one is to be seen. Only Heaven and the bees in
the air see Youssouf as he rushes into the kiosk, picks up the rose,
presses it passionately to his lips, and then conceals it in his



From the day of their first meeting, when Cousrouf Pacha appointed
Mohammed Ali sarechsme, the new general had proved his bravery and
his shrewdness in many a skirmish and battle with the Mamelukes. He
had already captured from them two strongholds, and had returned
victorious from every battle with them. Cousrouf praised his fortune
at having such a general at his side. Mohammed Ali showed himself so
zealous and devoted in his service that the viceroy listened to his
advice only, and called him his favorite and confidant.

"Truly, I am a happy man," said Cousrouf to himself. "I am the ruler
of a great kingdom. I have friends at my side in whom I can confide,
and who will assist me in all my plans, executing all I determine.
Who knows but that a great future still awaits me, and that the
crown which now hangs suspended over my head may not one day adorn
it in reality? Mohammed shall aid me. He is the bravest of the
brave, and the wisest of the wise."

He walked to and fro in his room as he said this to himself, his
countenance radiant with smiles.

"I will soon have my wives brought to me, and my daughters also. Who
knows, perhaps it were well to chain the sarechsme, Mohammed Ali, to
my side with still closer bonds? Who knows? Sometimes a strange
presentiment comes over me when I look at him. Mohammed's eyes
sometimes glitter so strangely and angrily, but he is conscious of
it at once, and then becomes more gentle and devoted than ever.
There are times when I distrust him. It were perhaps well to fasten
him to my side so firmly that he cannot free himself. Yes, I had
best give him one of my daughters in marriage. He must be submissive
and devoted to his father-in-law at all times," said he, in low
tones, "Sometimes I think his smooth countenance conceals a gloomy
soul, and that Mohammed Ali has not yet forgotten the evil done the
young lad in Cavalla. But these are mere fancies. He has proved on
every occasion that he no longer thinks of it. I will have him
called and study his countenance while speaking with him."

He sent one of his slaves to request the sarechsme to come to him.
After a few minutes Mohammed entered. He bowed profoundly before
Cousrouf, and seemed delighted when invited to seat himself beside
the pacha on the divan, and smoke the chibouque with him.

"Tell me, Mohammed, how old are you?" asked Cousrouf, after a pause,
blowing clouds of smoke from his lips, and seeming to regard the
general with kindly composure. "How old are you?"

"I hardly know, highness," replied Mohammed, smiling. "But let me
count. I believe I was fifteen when, at Cavalla, I first had the
happiness of meeting you, my distinguished master."

"Let us proceed with the calculation," said Cousrouf. "I remained
three years in Cavalla. By Allah, they seemed to me to be three
centuries! Yes, I remained there three years, and you were therefore
eighteen when I left Cavalla?"

"Yes, eighteen years old; and a wild, reckless lad I was, too! Even
now I beg your forgiveness for my conduct at that time," said
Mohammed, humbly.

The viceroy bowed a gracious consent.

"Since then twelve years have passed, and you are therefore now

"You see, I am an old man! And when I look back at the past it seems
to me I have lived an eternity. Yes, highness, I am an old man, and
can hardly say that any wishes or aspirations now find a place in my

"Are you alone in the world?" asked Cousrouf. "Have you no family?"

A strange fire gleamed for an instant in Mohammed's eyes, and he
compressed his lips firmly. How could he who had inflicted such
intolerable anguish upon him, how could he question him as to his
heart's history? Woe to him for so doing! for this, too, shall
retribution be visited upon him!

"Yes, highness, I have a family. I have a wife and three sons at
home in Cavalla."

"One wife only!" said the pacha. "Are you contented with one wife?"

"One is often too many," replied Mohammed. "But this does not apply
to my wife. She is the niece of the tschorbadji, and devoted to me.
I have no cause to complain of her."

"Is that all?" asked the pacha, with an air of indifference. "You
have nothing further to say of her? Then you do not love her, I

"Highness, I believe love was torn from my heart in my youth."

"Everyone says that until he loves," replied Cousrouf, composedly
blowing clouds of smoke from his mouth. "Yet, in my opinion, one is
never too old to love; the heart never grows old. Let me know it if
you feel that another love can blossom in your heart, and that you
wish, in addition to the wife you have long possessed--and I know
that possession gives satiety--another, a young and beautiful wife.
Perhaps I can find such a one for you. And I will do so, Mohammed,
if you return victorious from the new campaign."

"A new campaign? and against whom?" was Mohammed's only response.

"Against whom? Against the insolent Mameluke beys, of course. The
time has come to dispose of them finally," said Cousrouf. "Listen,
general. The grand-sultan, weary of these incessant struggles with
the rebellious Mameluke beys, is resolved to bring them to a
conclusion, and restore peace to the province of Egypt. You,
however, have now been here long enough to know that peace in Egypt
means death and destruction to the Mameluke beys."

"Yes, highness, peace in Egypt means death to the Mameluke beys!"
replied Mohammed Ali. "Truly, while one of them survives, so long
will his proud, ambitious heart prompt him to endeavor to reconquer
the rule which he believes is predestined for the Mameluke beys by
Allah and the prophet."

"They shall learn that Allah has doomed them to destruction!" cried
Cousrouf, passionately. "All is arranged. To the Franks we are
indebted for one thing, and that is for having fought these
rebellious beys. Since the French expedition the number of the
Mamelukes is diminished by at least one-half. In order to prevent
them from recruiting their decimated ranks, the grand-sultan has
issued a firman which prohibits further importation into Egypt of
Circassian and Georgian slaves."

"And yet, as I have heard, they resort to other sources to refill
their depleted ranks," said Mohammed, respectfully. "I am told that
they recruit their forces with the inhabitants of the desert, with
the children of Albania, and the tribe of Achmed Ali."

"They do, it is true. But the Arabs and Bedouins are poor
substitutes for the Georgian and Circassian slaves. You cannot make
lions of wild-cats, nor tigers of jackals. Moreover, discord has
fallen out among the Mameluke beys themselves, since Mourad Bey
fell. He was a great man and a hero! But since his death they have
lacked a chieftain who could unite them; Tamboudji Bey was such a
one for a brief season, but, as you know, he fell at Aboukir. Three
others are now quarrelling over the succession. There is Osman Bey
Bardissi; Ibrahim Bey, the old Mameluke chieftain; and finally,
L'Elfi Bey, a protege of the English, as Bardissi is of the French.
These three are now at daggers'-ends as to who shall be the leader.
We must, it seems to me, draw advantage from this quarrel. I know
Bardissi and Ibrahim have again applied to France, and have sent
ambassadors to the French general, Bonaparte, to solicit their aid
against their own masters--against us, the Turks. L'Elfi Bey,
however, has sought the intervention of England, and begged for
assistance against us in that quarter. They well know that they are
too weak to resist us alone. And therefore, it seems to me, we
should avail ourselves of this favorable moment when they are
awaiting foreign aid. They must be overwhelmed, never to rise

"How wise your words, highness! Overwhelmed they must be for all
time, in order that you alone may rule, and that the sultan at
Stamboul may look with admiration upon him who has restored to the
old rulers of Egypt the power of former days. This great work is
reserved for you, Cousrouf Pacha, and your most obedient and devoted
servant, Mohammed Ali, will consider himself highly honored, if
permitted to aid you in this great cause."

"I count on you," replied the pacha, inclining his head graciously.
"I know your devotion and zeal in my service, and therefore do I
advise with you in all my plans, and speak to you as to my other
self. To proceed: The Mameluke beys who applied to England and
France also addressed a letter to me at the same time. In this
letter they request me to conclude with them an armistice of five
months' duration, in order that they may address themselves to the
sultan at Constantinople, to settle, with the assistance of the
English and French ambassadors there, the terms of a final treaty of
peace. What do you think our answer to the demand of these Mameluke
beys should be, Mohammed? Shall we consent to this armistice? Give
me your views without reserve. What is your opinion?"

"I think, highness, that it would be folly to grant this armistice.
The Mamelukes would avail themselves of this interval to recruit
their ranks, and would secretly import slaves. They are cunning, and
many resources are open to them. They would make warriors of these
slaves in five months, and they would then be the first to
recommence the war!"

Cousrouf remained silent for a time. "You are a good general in the
field, and a good adviser in the cabinet. I rejoice in your
possession!" said he, with his most gracious manner. "Just as you
think and say, have I determined, and I have informed these insolent
beys that I will not grant them a respite of five months, nor of
five weeks; no, not of five days. I, moreover, informed them that if
they so ardently desired to have peace, and to enjoy peace, they
should submit, and come to Cairo, and live here as Osman Bey Hassan
does, who has hitherto also been a Mameluke chieftain. Further, I
told them that I was ready to treat with them, and, in order to be
rid of this continuous plundering and robbing, I offered to assign
them the province of Esneh, in Upper Egypt, where they might indulge
their propensities to their hearts' content. They, however, in their
insolence, demanded that I should give them the whole province of
Girgeh in addition. This I refused. And now, I think, we have had
attempts enough at peace-making. I will draw the sword again, and my
armies shall take the field against these insolent rebels. Youssouf
Bey, my lieutenant, leads the first column, and the second, my
Mohammed Ali, the second you will lead!"

"I thank you, highness, and I promise to lead my soldiers to battle
and victory, or to be brought back with the dead!"

"You will lead them to victory, and return a victor. My general,
Taher Pacha, will unite his forces with yours and Youssouf Bey's.
Taher Pacha is already on the march from Upper Egypt. And now, tell
me, do you think our forces are strong enough to chastise and
overthrow the Mameluke beys?"

"In order to reply, I must first know the strength of all your
forces combined." He spoke with downcast eyes, apparently all
devotion, and only intent on his master's advantage. Cousrouf Pacha
was far from suspecting with what feverish suspense the sarechsme
awaited his reply.

"I will tell you, and you alone, Mohammed Ali," replied he, in
subdued tones. "We have only sixteen or seventeen thousand soldiers,
and it will be difficult to concentrate them at one point, as they
are scattered throughout Middle and Upper Egypt. The nucleus of this
army that is to be formed consists of the four thousand Albanians
sent me by the capitan pacha, and these Albanians count double. They
are strong and brave. To be sure they are also a little too wild and
headstrong; and, in addition, they are not Turks."

"O highness," said Mohammed, with a sigh, "if that is a fault, I
must express my profound regret, as I unfortunately am not a Turk

"And yet I confide in you," said Cousrouf, "as I know you are
repairing the misfortune of your birth by your deeds. But I would
never place the same reliance in the old troops of Albania; and,
therefore, I have formed a corps of Nubians, and selected a body-
guard from the number of these black slaves, and upon them I can and
do rely. They have become good soldiers; I have taken a number of
French soldiers into my service, and they have drilled my body-guard
well. Yes, upon them I can rely. If traitors should come near me,
they would slay them."

"How could traitors come near your highness?" said Mohammed, with an
air of dismay. " Who could dare to threaten Cousrouf Pacha, the kind
and noble ruler, with treason! No. You can sleep in peace. Treason
must stand aloof from your great and sacred person."

The pacha shook his head. "The viceroy will not sleep in peace,
Mohammed, until you can announce to him that the last Mameluke bey
lies dead at your feet."

"I trust, highness, that I shall soon be able to make this
announcement," said Mohammed, in kindly tones. "My most ardent
desire is to march out to battle, and prove to my kind master that I
am not only a good soldier, but also a true and devoted servant."

"Then march out to battle, Mohammed, and be mindful of what I before
said. Cousrouf will, perhaps, be able to reward the victorious
Mohammed with a beautiful young wife, with a rich dowry. Go! Be
mindful of this, and hold your troops in readiness to march. Taher
Pacha will already have received my orders to join you; and Youssouf
Bey, my lieutenant, is also ready to take the field. You will follow
him rapidly, and, united, you will give battle to the Mamelukes." He
then dismissed Mohammed with a gracious salutation.

As the latter passes out through the antechamber, his head humbly
bowed down, he whispers to himself: "The black body-guard would slay
those who should threaten your life! Cousrouf Pacha, I am glad you
rely on your black body-guard!"



OSMAN BEY BARDISSI was encamped on the plain of Darmanhour with his
Mamelukes, awaiting the arrival of L'Elfi Bey and his forces. Spies
and scouts had announced that the Turkish army was advancing from
Cairo in two columns, and that Taher Pacha was approaching from
another direction--from Upper Egypt-at the head of seven thousand

Bardissi's countenance lighted up with joy when the Bedouin sheik
Arnhyn brought this intelligence.

"The decisive moment, the day of battle is at hand. If we are
victors, how Sitta Nefysseh will smile on us, how happy she will

Yes, the decisive moment is at hand. Perhaps Nefysseh's cold heart
will be touched, perhaps she will bestow upon the victor a glorious

But why does not L'Elfi come? Without him Bardissi cannot, he well
knows, venture to give battle, for he, with his men and the
Mamelukes of Elmar Bey, is too weak to engage an enemy of such
superior strength.

"To be sure, the Turks are cowards," said Osman to himself; "and
against the Turks every Mameluke counts for two. Yet, as the scouts
announce, their forces are too strong for us. Youssouf Bey comes
first at the head of three thousand Turks, and the sarechsme,
Mohammed Ali, follows him with five thousand men. In addition to
these, Taher Pacha is also advancing with his forces; if they all
unite, it is impossible that we should be victorious, and yet we
must be victorious."

At last, intelligence is brought that L'Elfi Bey is advancing. He,
however, brings but few of his warriors with him, and his
countenance is sad and gloomy.

The beys, Osman at their head, gather around him, and impart to him
the intelligence brought by the scouts with regard to the strength
of the enemy.

"We should therefore advance against him as soon as possible, and
vanquish one of his corps after the other before they have time to

L'Elfi Bey shook his head. "We must wait, friends and companions in
arms," said he. "I think it would be rash and unwise to meet the
enemy, when his army is twice as strong as ours, and I came here to
tell you this."

"Then, by Allah, it would have been better had you not come!" cried
Bardissi, angrily. "Shall the Turks say of us that we, the brave and
haughty Mamelukes, have fled at their approach?"

"Let them say what they please, Osman Bey Bardissi," responded
L'Elfi Bey, throwing his head back proudly. "What care we? We do not
flee, we only retreat. And our friends advise us to do this."

"Who are these friends?" asked Bardissi, angrily.

"The English, none of whom, as you know, have ever deceived us. They
have informed me that the Turks are advancing in three columns, and
have advised me not to attack them. They say it would be a great
risk, and such a risk would not be advisable without a better
prospect of success. But we could not hope for success, for, as you
know yourselves, we are in want of arms and ammunition. If
vanquished, we should also be massacred, and they would finish here
at Damanhour the work they began at Aboukir. Can you desire that, ye

"We desire to conquer, and not to flee like cowards!" replied
Bardissi, haughtily.

"The unwise general attacks incautiously, and when defeated is
laughed at for his pains," replied L'Elfi. "The wise general yields
to necessity, and awaits his opportunity."

"Then you can wait, L'Elfi!" cried Bardissi.

"I will wait, and have resolved to do so," said L'Elfi, gravely. "I
came to warn you, and not to take part in this ridiculous
expedition. But observe, Bardissi, I do not flee--I retreat. Woe to
you if you do not follow my example; woe to you all if you let
rashness instead of prudence prevail, and attack the Turks now! I
repeat it, strong columns are advancing! First, Youssouf Bey; then
the shrewd sarechsme--you know, Bardissi, who told us to beware of
him--the shrewd sarechsme, Mohammed Ali; and, finally, Taher Pacha,
and woe to you if you venture to attack them!"

"Woe to him who sees and understands his enemy, and yet dare not
attack him!" cried Bardissi.

L'Elfi seemed not to hear him. He beckoned to the Mamelukes who had
come with him, greeted his friends with a proud inclination of the
head, and galloped away.

At a short distance from the camp a small body of English horsemen
awaited L'Elfi and his Mamelukes. With them the Mameluke chieftain
rode off, riding day and night until they reached Tantah; there
fresh horses awaited them, and thence they continued their journey
until they reached Alexandria. Here L'Elfi Bey embarked with the
Englishmen. For the second time he left Egypt. He wished to forget
in a foreign land that Mourad's widow, the beautiful Sitta Nefysseh,
had rejected him and his love. It was no consolation to him that
Bardissi had suffered the same fate. Unrequited love causes bitter
anguish. L'Elfi thought only of his heart's misery, and cared
nothing for war and military renown. He will return home when his
heart's anguish is stilled. Then L'Elfi Bey will draw his sword
again to fight for victory and renown. Bardissi felt differently. If
the former felt that it was necessary to go into solitude to heal
his heart's wounds, the latter preferred to seek distraction in
inflicting wounds on his enemies. "For every sigh that passes his
lips he will make a Turk exhale his life's breath," so thinks
Bardissi the brave.

Immediately after L'Elfi's departure, Bardissi called the kachefs of
his Mamelukes, and those of Ibrahim Bey and Hassan Aga together, to
hold a grand council of war on the plain of Damanhour.

"Do you wish to be cautious like L'Elfi? shall we retreat from the
approaching enemy?" cries Osman Bey, the crown of bravery. "Speak,
ye kachefs! We ask your advice, for not we alone, but you also, rush
into danger. Our blood and yours is to be shed alike. Therefore, let
us take counsel together. The enemy is very strong, as you know. He
is approaching in three columns. I pray you to consider and
determine quickly, as the danger increases with each minute. If the
three columns unite, the danger is multiplied; therefore, every
thing depends on quick and resolute action. Youssouf Bey, Sheik
Arnhyn informs us, is only two days' march distant--Mohammed Ali,
three. It seems to me, our plan should be to march against Youssouf,
and vanquish him before Mohammed Ali can join him; we will then
attack Mohammed Ali. Having vanquished both of them, I hardly think
Taber Pacha will have any desire to sustain the third defeat. We
will then turn our attention to Cairo, now stripped of soldiers."

The kachefs, who had listened to Bardissi's words with sparkling
eyes, spoke as one man:

"We will not retreat from the enemy like L'Elfi! Lead us against
him! We will vanquish him! We are strong and courageous! Our steeds
will bear us upon them with the wings of the wind, and our swords,
aided by those of the invisible hosts, will prove invincible. The
time has at last come to let these Turks feel that we are heroes,
and not cowards. Lead us against the enemy!"

"Then retire to rest early," cried Bardissi, his countenance radiant
with joy. "Unsaddle your horses and let them rest, too. To-morrow at
the break of day we mount, and fly with the wings of the wind to
meet the enemy. Allah and his holy hosts are with us."

"Allah and his holy hosts are with us!" is the joyous cry repeated
by the kachefs. Soon all is still in the camp of Damanhour. Men and
horses are at rest.

Bey Bardissi alone has not yet retired. He calls the Bedouin sheik,
Arnhyn, to his side. "You are brave and daring. I have work for you,
for which you shall be richly rewarded. If we are victorious, you
shall collect all the spoils you may desire from the field of
battle, and no one shall hinder you. The steeds and saddles, and the
arms and equipments of all the captured Turks, shall be yours. As
you know, three other sheiks have already applied to me, and offered
to assist with their camels and horses. You shall, however, have the
spoils of the battle-field if you will perform the service I require
of you."

"Give me your commands, master," said the Bedouin sheik, his eyes
sparkling with delight. "If you do not require me to pluck the sun
from heaven, or to lay the moon and stars at your feet, Sheik Arnhyn
will execute your commands for so rich a reward. Ah! how delighted
my daughter Butheita will be when I bring her the beautiful horses,
and glittering swords and daggers! The child loves such things. She
is not like other women, she is more like a man. How Butheita will
rejoice over the arms!"

"Then make her rejoice, Arnhyn. And now hear how you can do so. You
informed me that Youssouf and his forces were in advance of the
others, and that Mohammed Ali followed him?"

"Thus it is; a day's march in advance. But Mohammed Ali, so
everybody says, is a daring and untiring soldier. Who knows but he
may march at night, too, and unite with Youssouf?"

"You are right, Arnhyn," replied Bardissi, "and it is this that I
wish to prevent. I wish, if possible, to avoid encountering Mohammed
Ali. It is of this that I desire to speak with you. Come, let us
withdraw a little farther from the tents and discuss this matter."

All is silent. The Mamelukes and kachefs lie sleeping beside their
horses. No one hears what passes between the Mameluke bey, Osman
Bardissi, and the Bedouin sheik, Arnhyn.

They speak in whispers; no one sees Arnhyn display his white teeth
in his delight, nor sees the glad smile that suddenly lights up his

"A splendid scheme, master. By Allah! I would do it though you had
not promised so rich a reward. I give you my word it shall be done
as you direct. We will make Sarechsme Mohammed Ali harmless."

"You will start out at once?" said Bardissi.

"Immediately, master, for I must soon return," replied Arnhyn. "By
sunrise you will come up with Youssouf, and I must be there with my
ravens to gather the spoils. I will now fly to my tent; there near
the Pyramids I shall meet my daughter Butheita, and she will arrange
the rest.

You will find me at your tent by morning. If I am not there, Osman
Bey Bardissi, you will know that the Bedouin sheik, Arnhyn, is no
longer among the living, and that the sarechsme, Mohammed Ali, has
been too shrewd for him."





On the green fields of Gheezeh, near the verge of the yellow desert,
lies Mohammed Ali encamped with his forces. Five thousand brave
soldiers, among them the Albanian corps, the best troops of the
Turkish army, are under the command of the young sarechsme. In
advance of him, Youssouf Bey is marching upon the Mamelukes with a
corps of almost equal strength. According to the viceroy's
instructions, Mohammed Ali is to wait and see if Youssouf Bey does
not prove strong enough to vanquish the Mamelukes unaided; if this
should prove to be the case, it would not be advisable to lead a
splendid army corps into battle unnecessarily.

Mohammed Ali, however, well understood the secret meaning of the
viceroy's instructions. Youssouf Bey is his lieutenant, his
favorite, and his master is desirous that he alone shall reap the
golden fruit of victory. If he is defeated, Mohammed is to march to
Youssouf's assistance with all possible speed. The latter is a day's
march in advance, and when his messengers reach Mohammed it will
already be too late; the battle will have been lost and a new one
will have to be fought with the elated victors. All this passes
through Mohammed's mind as he sits there in the silence and solitude
of the night. All are sleeping. The warriors lie scattered over the
wide plain beside their horses, their hands on their swords. No
tents have been pitched: what need of them, the night is warm; and
on the morrow they are to be on the march again toward Damanhour?

For the sarechsme alone a tent had been pitched, which could be seen
from far out on the desert on whose verge it stood. Any one bringing
him a message would have found the white tent, surmounted by a dark-
red flag, without any difficulty. As was customary, two sentinels
stood in front of the general's tent. When all had gone to rest,
Mohammed stepped out of his tent, and told the sentinels to lie down
and go to sleep. What need of guards here in the midst of his
faithful warriors? Let them all rest, for the morrow may be a day of
great toil and fatigue. The sentinels thanked the sarechsme, and
then lay down to sleep, their muskets at their side.

Mohammed returned to his tent, lay down on his mat, and, supporting
his head on his hand was soon absorbed in thought. He lay there
gazing out into the night, considering the viceroy's plans, and also
considering whether it would be advisable to obey his instructions.

Youssouf Bey is to have all the glory of victory, but Mohammed is to
share defeat with him. If Youssouf Bey is victorious, Mohammed must
return to Cairo with his troops, and the former will have reaped all
the honors of the campaign. But if Youssouf Bey is defeated,
Mohammed will have to march to his assistance with all possible
speed, and will, nevertheless, arrive too late, when the battle is
already lost. Then a new battle will have to be fought, and the
Mamelukes, elated with their success, will hurl themselves upon his
forces, and probably rout them. Victory would then be merely
possible at best, and shall he rely on this possibility? It is to be
his first great battle, and dare he allow it to be a defeat?

But what can he do?

He considers this, and his present relations with the viceroy. Has
the time come when he can lay hands to his task with ruder touch;
will it do to substitute stern words for soft flattery? He will not
be able to decide until after this battle--that is, if he is to take
part in it at all.

While he lies there absorbed in thought, all has become still
without. The men are asleep; no one moves, no eye is open. No one
sees a dark shadow flitting across the desert toward the tents. Now
it halts near that of the sarechsme. A smaller shadow separates from
the larger one; it stoops low, and glides along slowly and

All are wrapped in slumber. The shadow stops before the tent; and
now something glitters, like two sparkling stars fallen from heaven.

Perhaps they are the eyes of some savage beast prowling near the
camp in search of prey.

No one sees these eyes. They are not the eyes of an animal, but of a
human being who now stands upright in front of Mohammed's tent.

Sleep has waved its black pinions over Mohammed, as he lies there
lost in thought; his senses have become gradually confused, and he,
too, now sleeps, dreaming of the viceroy, of the morrow, and of the
Mameluke bey Bardissi, whom he would so gladly call his friend.

For a moment he opens his eyes; it seems to him that he hears a
noise, a slight rustling against the canvas of the tent. Yet he sees
nothing, and all is still. It is only a dream. He closes his eyes,
the angel of sleep fans his brow, and his head sinks back upon the
mat again.

It would have been well had the sentinels stood guard. They would
not have allowed this black figure to spring into the tent with the
bound of a tiger, and then glide like the noiseless serpent to the
mat where Mohammed slept. They could have prevented this spectre
from so quickly and noiselessly binding his feet and hands with thin
ropes that he did not awake, and then suddenly and rapidly
enveloping his head with a thick cloth, and adroitly tying it in a

The sarechsme, now aroused, raises his head to hear the words: "Fear
not, your life will be spared!" murmured in his ear.

And, while these words are being whispered, he feels the cloth about
his head, and that he can utter no cry or word; he also becomes
aware that his hands and feet are securely bound.

"And to this I have come!" thinks he. "Thus am I to die, an object
of ridicule to the world and to myself!"

And, strange to say, his thoughts suddenly revert to the past. Thus
bound and gagged, had he once lain in another place. And he who
perpetrated the horrible outrage, lives in splendor, and Mohammed
has lived in vain, and must die unavenged! It is again Cousrouf
Pacha who causes him to be bound and borne out. "Whither? whither? I
ask! Do I not already know? Out to the Nile that glittered in the
sunlight before me a few hours since. Oh, had I but known that it
was to be my grave, and that Cousrouf had read and understood my
thoughts! He felt that it was he or I, that one must go down; and
now he stands secure on the heights, and I must sink down, down!"

Such are the thoughts that harrow his soul as he is lifted up by two
strong arms and borne out into the night. He feels the quick
breathing of him in whose arms he is borne; he is no light burden
even for Sheik Arnhyn's strong arms.

"How heavy you are, sarechsme!" murmurs he, smiling. "How light the
viceroy's army will be, when the heavy and distinguished sarechsme,
Mohammed Ali, is wanting!"

All is still about them. Mohammed vainly endeavors to cry out, to
release his hands; he is securely bound, and his lips can utter no

They stop at last, and Arnhyn speaks, but in such low tones that
Mohammed can understand nothing. He only hears another voice
replying. Then he is lifted high and deposited on a soft cushion.

"Now, Butheita," murmured the voice of him who had borne him from
the tent, "ride on to the tent with him, and keep him securely until
our master, Osman Bey Bardissi, comes to speak with him! Guard him
well, for you must know, my daughter, that, dearly as your father
loves you, Butheita must die if he escapes. This, I swear, by Allah,
so be on your guard, my daughter!"

"You can rely on me, Father Arnhyn," replied the soft voice of a
woman. "I shall guard him as though he were my dearest treasure on
earth; he shall not escape Butheita."

"Then farewell, my child! I must now hasten back, for to-morrow will
be a day of battle. But I hope to bring you rich spoils in two days,
and Osman Bey has promised to reward me well for my work. Hold him
fast, Butheita; he is bound and gagged, and you have nothing to fear
from him. Allah be with you, my child!"

And now they ride swiftly through the night. Whither? He knows not.
He lies bound on a cushion, and only feels, by the movement of the
animal, and by the shaking and jolting his body undergoes, that he
is on the back of a dromedary. Sometimes, when, as it seems to him,
he is on the point of being hurled from his high seat, he feels
himself grasped and placed in an easier position on his cushion by
two arms, and then on they move again at a swift trot. He feels that
they are riding through the desert. The camel's feet sink deep into
the sand, and then, when the ground beneath becomes firm, their
speed is increased, and lessened when it again sinks into the sand.
To Mohammed the ride seems to have lasted an eternity already.
However, a few hours only have passed, when the dromedary halts, and
a sweet voice whispers:

"I am sorry for you; it is horrible to be borne on through the night
this way, bound and gagged, your face covered. I should like to
relieve you by removing the cloth. But if you are cruel, you might
tear my arm with your teeth."

Mohammed shakes his head slightly, and she feels the movement in her
arm that encircles his head.

"You shake your head and promise not to do so, stranger, and I will
trust you. I will free your head and lips, but I must first bind you
to the saddle, to make sure of you." She unwinds the shawl from her
delicate waist, slips it around his body, and binds him securely to
the palanquin; she then unties the knot binding the cloth that
envelops his head and passes over his mouth. The cloth falls down
and Mohammed breathes freer and looks up. It is a clear, starry
night, and Butheita's eyes are accustomed to darkness, and see as
well at night as in the daytime. She gazes down upon his
countenance, and a sunny smile illumines her features. He sees her
not; his eyes are still blinded; neither can he speak yet, he can
only breathe more freely, and he eagerly inhales the fresh night

"Handsome is the stranger," said she, in a voice of wondrous
sweetness. "Already a sarechsme, and still so young! I supposed my
father had brought me an old gray-beard, and it had distressed me to
torment you so, and now I see a strong young hero, and I feel doubly
distressed at your being the prisoner of a poor girl."

He looks up, and now he sees the fair face with its starlike eyes
sparkling down upon him. The night is clear, and the yellow sand
whirled aloft by the camel's feet imparts a golden lustre to the
atmosphere; the appearance of the horizon also announces that the
rosy dawn is about to contend with the starry night. Mohammed sees
the lovely countenance with its brown tint, and its large black eyes
and crimson lips, disclosing, as they now smile, her pearly teeth.

"Pity me not, Butheita," murmured he. "To be the prisoner of a man
would put the sarechsme to shame; but to be the prisoner of a houri
of paradise, who holds him in sweet captivity, is, it seems to me,
an enviable lot."

"You speak prettily, O stranger," said she, her countenance beaming
with delight. "Your words come like music from your lips; such sweet
words I never heard before. You speak as the scha-er sings, whom I
once heard when with my father in Tantah. Oh, speak on, sing on, for
songs round from your lips!"

"If my words are songs, yours are tones of the harp," murmured he.
"Oh, tell me, Butheita, where are we going? Who has commanded you to
bear me away thus?"

"Did you not hear? I obey the commands of my father, who is in Osman
Bey's service. I do not know what they want of you, yet I believe
they fear you, and wish to keep you from taking part in the great
battle to-morrow. Yes, I know they fear you, for you are a hero.
Now, I know how a hero must look, for you are a hero, and your eyes
are as mighty as a host of armed warriors. Oh, now I understand why
Osman Bey fears you, and why he offered my father so rich a reward
to keep you from taking part in to-morrow's battle."

"That is it, that is then the reason I am led away captive," cried
Mohammed, not in threatening or lamenting tones, but joyously, for
he feels that Cousrouf has answered the question with which he had
vainly tormented himself; he had hesitated, now he feels that he has
advanced a step farther toward his aim. Now he knows what he has to
do; Fate has pointed out the road to his goal through Butheita, and
he feels that she will lead him on until he reaches the throne seen
by his mother in her dreams, and becomes the avenger of her he
loved, of his Masa.

She still gazed upon the upturned countenance of her prisoner, now
lighted up by the rosy light of the morning sun; she is struck with
the tone of his voice, and is surprised to learn that the sarechsme
is not dejected at his captivity.

"You rejoice," said she, smiling, and again displaying her beautiful
teeth. "You rejoice over your captivity."

"I should like to be such a captive forever, Butheita; it is
heavenly to be encircled in these fair arms."

"You are singing your sweet songs again, and oh, they sound so
sweet!" said she. And yet, as he attempts to lay his head closer to
her shoulder, she timidly recoils with an anxious look in her eyes.

"Not so, stranger. Honor the hospitality of my house, for my
dromedary is my house, and I wish you to be my guest. And, that you
may see that Butheita is sensible of the duties of a hostess, accept
this banana and refresh yourself; you will need it."

She takes two bananas from the bag that hangs at the side of the
saddle, and with delight Mohammed sees her peel the rich fruit,
which she hands him with a delicious smile.

"Eat, stranger; eat, and refresh yourself."

She has forgotten that he is bound, and that he cannot take the
fruit from her hand.

"This heavenly fruit must be administered by your fair hand alone,"
said he. "As my hands are bound, you must hold it to my lips
yourself. Oh, that they were to be refreshed with yours instead of
the banana!"

She smiles and looks down, blushingly. She then breaks the fruit and
brings it to his lips in little morsels. And each time he raises his
lips so high, that they touch not only the fruit but also her
delicate brown fingers. It was sweet play, and Mohammed forgets all
else. This night, minutes have been as hours to him, and now he
would have them become eternities. Lovely is this child of the
desert that bends down over him; a whole world of maidenly purity
and sweetness Fate has pointed out the road to his goal through
Butheita, and he feels that she will lead him on until he reaches
the throne seen by his mother in her dreams, and becomes the avenger
of her he loved, of his Masa.

She still gazed upon the upturned countenance of her prisoner, now
lighted up by the rosy light of the morning sun; she is struck with
the tone of his voice, and is surprised to learn that the sarechsme
is not dejected at his captivity.

"You rejoice," said she, smiling, and again displaying her beautiful
teeth. "You rejoice over your captivity."

"I should like to be such a captive forever, Butheita; it is
heavenly to be encircled in these fair arms."

"You are singing your sweet songs again, and oh, they sound so
sweet!" said she. And yet, as he attempts to lay his head closer to
her shoulder, she timidly recoils with an anxious look in her eyes.

"Not so, stranger. Honor the hospitality of my house, for my
dromedary is my house, and I wish you to be my guest. And, that you
may see that Butheita is sensible of the duties of a hostess, accept
this banana and refresh yourself; you will need it."

She takes two bananas from the bag that hangs at the side of the
saddle, and with delight Mohammed sees her peel the rich fruit,
which she hands him with a delicious smile.

"Eat, stranger; eat, and refresh yourself."

She has forgotten that he is bound, and that he cannot take the
fruit from her hand.

"This heavenly fruit must be administered by your fair hand alone,"
said he. "As my hands are bound, you must hold it to my lips
yourself. Oh, that they were to be refreshed with yours instead of
the banana!"

She smiles and looks down, blushingly. She then breaks the fruit and
brings it to his lips in little morsels. And each time he raises his
lips so high, that they touch not only the fruit but also her
delicate brown fingers. It was sweet play, and Mohammed forgets all
else. This night, minutes have been as hours to him, and now he
would have them become eternities. Lovely is this child of the
desert that bends down over him; a whole world of maidenly purity
and sweetness permitted to wander freely through the desert, and not
cooped up in the second apartment of the tent, and not compelled to
cover my face with a veil. However, when I ride with father to
Tantah, then, O stranger, I dress myself up as the women of the
cities do! Then I wear a long silk dress and a splendid veil, and
color my lips and hands with henna!"

"That is to say, Butheita, you make of the houri of paradise an
ordinary human being. I should not like to see you when you look
like other women. You are the Queen of the Desert, Butheita."

"How do you know that? So am I called by the Bedouins who are my
father's subjects. Yes, they are very respectful to their sheik's
daughter, and call me Queen of the Desert. They sometimes say,"
continued she, smiling: "'Her countenance shines like the sun,
enkindling in flames the hearts of all who approach her.' I,
however, hold myself aloof from them, and do not listen to what they
say, else my father would become angry, and would deprive me of my
liberty to roam about as I please. And now you know all, stranger,
and know why I may not kiss you, though I would gladly do something
to please the poor prisoner; but I have promised this to my father
and to myself. Therefore, no more of this. Here we must halt. Look
at the sublime image that stands there so grandly, and throws its
black shadow far out over the yellow sand. That is the true Queen of
the Desert. Let me turn the animal so that you can see our queen."

Mohammed looked up and bowed his head in awe before the monster
image that stood before him. He saw a human face and a mighty figure
towering before him in gigantic proportions. Yes, it was a human
countenance! From out those eyes, which seemed to compass a whole
world within their deep hollows, the grandeur and sublimity of the
human mind appeared to speak to him. What majestic thought was
reflected in that massive forehead? The eloquent mouth seemed to
announce the grand mystery of the universe. The whole mighty
countenance seemed to contain a heaven of sublime peace, and to be
radiant with a happiness unknown to the human breast on earth, for
man has suffered and suffers. Doubt, anxiety, care, and misery, have
sojourned in every mortal breast; but this countenance, that towers
like a mountain in its divine majesty, knows nothing of human doubt
and suffering. Its face is radiant with divine, eternal
tranquillity--with the peace of the universe.

"How grand, how sublime!" murmured Mohammed, gazing fixedly at the
colossal image that has for thousands of years looked on man, and
smiled on him from out the depths of its unfathomable eyes. The
sphinx has looked calmly down upon generation after generation, upon
men of every faith and religion, and has seen them pass away.
Heathens have become Christians, Jews, Mohammedans, and the latter
in their turn have become converted to other faiths, and change upon
change has taken place. The sphinx has looked down upon all this!
itself divine, unchangeable in the midst of all that has passed and
passes away.

"See," murmured Butheita, "this is the Queen of the Desert. She is
the holy sphinx, before whom men and women have fallen in the dust
for thousands of years, and before whom kings and emperors prostrate
themselves to this day. Thus spoke the scha-er whom I heard when
with my father in Tantah a short time since: `He who approaches the
protecting goddess of mankind must fall down in the dust before her,
and worship Allah and the saints.'

"Kneel down, my dromedary, kneel down, my Alpha!" and she draws in
her reins, repeating the words in imperious tones. The animal
understands her, and sinks gravely upon its knees. Butheita bounds
down from her seat with the lightness of the gazelle, and bows low
before the sphinx, her arms crossed on her breast.

From the back of the dromedary, where he lies bound, her prisoner
looks down with admiration upon the lovely girlish figure that skips
lightly across the sand to the foot of the godlike figure. How small
she appears beside the mighty image, like a flower blooming at its

Butheita kneels down before the sphinx and murmurs a prayer for
protection for herself and father, for the tent in which they dwell,
for the dromedary, and for the goats; and finally also for the
stranger whom she is about to lead to her tent. "Grant, 0 Allah,
that I may be mild, and that he may not feel his fetters too
severely! And you, O holy goddess of the desert, grant that
Butheita's heart may remain pure and strong, and that she may be
enabled to keep the promise made to her father!"

As she murmurs these words a slight tremor possessed itself of her
delicate figure, and piously and timidly she looks up into the
illimitable, unfathomable eyes of the sphinx, that gaze out upon the
whole world. Then she rises and smilingly salutes once more with her
little brown hand the Queen of the Desert, and, springing lightly
upon the back of her dromedary, grasps the reins.

Butheita's countenance now wears a serious expression. It seems she
has brought solemn thoughts with her from the goddess of the desert,
and from time to time she casts a timid glance at the prisoner, who
lies bound before her. The dromedary moves on at a uniform speed.
Those it is bearing on ward speak but little. Butheita's heart is
oppressed; the sarechsme, Mohammed Ali, is thoughtful and grave.

Once Butheita raises her arm and points to some towering objects
defined sharply against the sky in the distance.

"See, stranger, see; those are the grand monuments of our kings, the
Pharaohs, the pyramids, and there lies Sakkara, where the graves of
the holy oxen are to be seen. We are almost at our journey's end.
There lies the village of Petresin. Its inhabitants still sleep, and
the doors of the huts are closed: they do not see us. That is well,
that is necessary; my father said no one must know that we are
taking you away a prisoner. Do you see that little spot on the verge
of the dessert? That is my father's tent."

Butheita patted her dromedary on the neck with her little hand,
urging it to greater speed. Like an arrow they flew across the sand
until they had reached her father's tent. Butheita drew in her reins
at the door and commanded the animal to kneel down.

"Stranger, we are at our journey's end! At the threshold of our
tent, Butheita bids you welcome, blessed be your entrance into our

She quickly loosens the shawl that binds him to the saddle, and
before he is aware of what she is doing lifts him in her arms.
Lightly, as though he were a plaything, she bears him into the inner
apartment of the tent, where she smilingly deposits him on a mat.

"Blessed be your entrance into my tent! Now refresh yourself with
repose after your long ride. I am going out to prepare your

He follows Butheita with eager eyes, as she steps into the other
apartment of the tent. Forgotten are all the schemes and thoughts
that ordinarily occupy him day and night. Forgotten are the past and
future; he now lives for the present only. May the sun mercifully
stand still, and this hour prove an eternity! Why occupy himself
with thoughts of the future, the present is so beautiful, so
heavenly? Oh, that it could last forever! But no! a cloud passes
over his brow; he remembers--

"No! Let the present pass rapidly," said he. "I am a prisoner, and
how would my soldiers laugh to see the sarechsme, Mohammed Ali,
bound and a captive in the tent of a Bedouin chieftain!"

He knew that Butheita had remained in the other apartment and heard
his words. She quickly went to him, profound sorrow depicted in her
charming countenance.

"They would laugh at you, sarechsme? Oh, how sorry I should be to
have them do so! True, it is unpleasant to be a prisoner. Yet, you
must know that my father is highly esteemed; he is the first man of
the village. O sarechsme, the Bedouins call him their father, their
protector, and the Mamelukes are proud of his friendship; and it was
out of love for them that he made you a prisoner. If you are
unhappy, oh, forgive poor Butheita, who was compelled to obey her
father's commands! Oh, do not be angry with her!"

"I am not angry with you," said he, gently. "Yet consider, is it not
hard and shameful for me, a man and a soldier, to lie here bound
hand and foot?"

Her countenance lighted up with joy. "Yes, I understand that," said
she, thoughtfully. "It pains me to the soul, not to be able to
lessen your misery, to improve your condition. Yet," she suddenly
continued, "I can and I will relieve you."

"That you can, if you will," murmured he. "Seat your self beside me,
Butheita. Let me hear your voice. Tell me the sweet history of your
heart. Remain with me till your father comes. While listening I
shall forget all shame and disgrace, and rejoice only in your
presence. It would seem as though, a good spirit had led me into
another world, where an angel was bowed down over me, to whom I
looked up in sweet ecstasy!"

"No, it will only be a poor child of the desert, who sits beside
you," said Butheita, smiling. "Only look at poor, miserable me.
There is nothing beautiful or radiant about me, proud stranger! Let
me go, you would die of hunger and thirst if I remained here, and it
would be shameful, too, if I should neglect the duty of hospitality
toward my guest. But I will tell you what I can and will do! You
shall not lie there bound. I will not have it so, Mohammed Ali. Give
me your sacred word that you will not leave, but will remain here
until my father comes for you. Give me your word, and I will untie
the cords that bind your hands and feet. Give me your word."

He looks at her in astonishment.

"Do you still have such faith in man's promises that you believe I
would keep my word if I gave it?"

"Yes," said she, smiling; "I do; this would be a horrible world if
one could not. My father has often said to me: 'When a man has given
his word he keeps it, though the consequence should be death. Thus a
truly brave man acts; only cowards break their word.'"

"Then you consider me a truly brave man, Butheita, and not a

"It is only necessary to look at you, stranger," said she, with a
winning smile, "to feel in the depths of one's heart that you are a
man, and no coward. Give me your word, and you are unfettered. Give
me your word that you will not leave."

"Well," said he, gazing at her joyously, "I give you my word, as a
man! I swear by Allah, and the prophet, and by my own honor, I will
not leave here until your father comes and says that I may, and
states the conditions. I will, if you will permit me, remain with
you in the mean while, and do nothing but look at you. I will be
your slave; drink the sweet dew from your lips, and read your
commands in your eyes. Tell me, pearl of women, will you accept me
as your slave?"

Without answering his question, she knelt down blushingly, and
untied the cords that bound his hands and feet. "Now, stand up, a
free man!"

He arose, and with a feeling of intense relief, stretched out the
hands that ached from their long confinement, and extended his arms.
He would gladly have clasped the girl in their embrace, but, with
the grace and ease of a gazelle, she sprang back out of his reach to
the door of the tent, and looked at him threateningly.

"Mohammed Ali, if you abuse your freedom, you are not the man I took
you to be."

He bowed his head in silence. "You are right, Butheita, forgive me!

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