Part 8 out of 10
I submit to the will of the desert queen; I am your slave, and await
your commands; command me, and I will humbly obey."
He looked at her inquiringly. Butheita's large black eyes gazed at
him with a soft expression, and again a tremor agitated her gentle
"I desire nothing more, sarechsme," said she, timidly, "than that
you remain here in the rear apartment of the tent, and I beg you,
should any one come, to remain here quietly; as it is that place
generally reserved for women, no one will dare to enter it. I dwell
in it alone, for my father is not fond of women! He says they are
talkative and quarrelsome, vain and lazy, too, and he has had enough
of them. Twelve wives has he brought to his tent, one after the
other, but after a short time he sent every one of them home to her
father. I am the daughter of his first wife, and my father loves me
more than he has ever loved any of them; and he wants no woman in
his tent but his Butheita. Nor do I wish to have any other woman
here. I can attend to father's household affairs quite well, alone.
I milk the goats, make the butter, and bake the bread. I also spin
the wool of our black sheep, and still have plenty of time left to
knit the shawls my father needs."
"So industrious, Butheita? Happy and enviable will the man be who
shall some day lead your father's daughter to his home!"
"You need not envy him," said she, quickly, "there will be no such
man. It is with me as with my father; he loves only me, and I only
him. No man shall ever lead me to his tent as his wife!"
"Butheita will say that until she loves some man," replied Mohammed,
looking deeply into her eyes. "Would Butheita one day follow me to
She did not reply. She drew back in alarm, and again she blushed
deeply, quite unlike a child of the desert, but after the fashion of
a city girl, and drew aside the curtain that divided the tent.
"I am only going to prepare your breakfast."
He did as she had requested, and retired to the second apartment of
the tent, to patiently await Butheita's return. There he sat
absorbed in thought, seemingly forgetful that he was the sarechsme,
Mohammed Ali, and a captive, for a happy smile rested on his lips.
His thoughts were beyond the sea, in the distant Cavalla. Whom did
he see there? It seems to him that Masa, stands before him with her
large soft eyes, and sweet smile; and Masa's image is strangely
interwoven with that of the Bedouin-child, Butheita. The two fair
forms were blended, and it did not displease him. Yet another face
is there. It regards him with a grave yet kindly expression. It is
not the face of a young girl; sweet and youthful fresh ness and love
are not in its features, and yet it is a loved face, that of his
wife Ada, the mother of his children. No, he has not forgotten her!
How could it be possible after living side by side in peace and
harmony for almost ten years! How could it be possible to forget her
who had given him three loved lives? Ah, his beloved boys, how his
heart yearns after them! Yet his heart yearns for her too, for his
For almost ten years this quiet-loving woman has sat by his side,
and he will never put her away from him, never for get her, the
mother of his children. Years pass rapidly, but a man's heart does
not grow old. A man's heart is ever young, ever fresh for a new
love, and every love seems to him to be the first.
If Butheita were not the daughter of a Bedouin chieftain, but a
Georgian or Circassian slave, he would give for her all the riches
he possesses ; the beautiful house and furniture given him by
Cousrouf Pacha. He would make her his wife, cost what it might. "I
thank you, O Mohammed, thou great prophet, who, reading the heart of
man, allows him to have four wives. I would Butheita were my second
The curtain of the tent is drawn aside, and Butheita enters, a
wooden waiter in her hand. All that she has to set before her guest,
the beautiful dates and bananas, the black bread, the butter, all
are nicely arranged on the waiter, which she now smilingly deposits
at the feet of her guest.
"Now seat yourself on the mat, beloved guest, and refresh yourself
with what poor Butheita has to offer you. Pray take the bread and
break it; and let us eat it together in token that we are friends,
and that you are sacred to me."
"And you are sacred to me," replies Mohammed, gravely, as he takes
up the black bread and breaks it. Together they eat of it, and then
sit down beside each other, and refresh themselves with Butheita's
daintily arranged fruits and goat's milk. Butheita tells him in her
charming way of her housekeeping, of her sheep and goats, and how
glad they were when she returned.
Mohammed has forgotten his ambitious plans, all the thousand wishes
that agitated his heart at other times. For the moment he is once
more the boy of Cavalla, communing with Nature in innocence and
joyousness, for to him Butheita's fair form now represents Nature.
It is not indeed Nature itself that charms him, but Nature's fair
daughter, Butheita. He must and will resist the charm, for he has
now broken bread, and eaten fruit with her. He is her guest, and he
must hold his young hostess sacred.
He forces himself to assume a grave manner, and directs his thoughts
to turn from her fair presence and occupy themselves with the events
that have taken place, and the great wrong done him. Perhaps at this
moment a battle is raging on the plain of Damanbour, and Youssouf
Bey is perhaps Victorious over the Mamelukes. What will his fate be
in that case? will not the defeated enemy avenge themselves cruelly
on him? But if, on the other hand, Youssouf has been routed and put
to flight, then woe to you alike, Mohammed! Youssouf will then
complain of him to Cousrouf Pacha, and he will be accused of
treason-yes, of treason, if he does not confess that he is a
prisoner. But, if he confesses this, he will become the laughing-
stock of the whole army. Yes, in Butheita's presence all that was
painful and disagreeable in his position had been forgotten. Now he
endeavors to force his thoughts to consider these things. Away with
thoughts of thee, Queen of the Desert!
He rises from the mat, and thanks his hostess for the repast in set
phrases, and with a cold manner; he begs her to pay no attention to
him, and not to allow herself to be disturbed in her household
occupations by him. Butheita looks at him with astonishment-an
expression of offended pride in her countenance.
"You desire to be alone, stranger? I can well understand that my
foolish words annoy you. I will leave you alone, sarechsme. I see
well you are a proud man, and it does not seem proper to you to be
alone with a Bedouin's daughter long. I can not prevent it; forgive
me. I will attend to my household affairs, as you suggest. I rely on
your promise, stranger, not to leave the inner apartment."
"You can rely on my word," said he, earnestly. "I am your prisoner,
your slave. I am so more completely than you think."
A charming smile again lights up her brown countenance. With a
joyous nod of her head, she bounds out of the tent.
THE sun was already low in the heavens. The palm trees in the
neighboring wood of Petresin threw long shadows across the yellow
sand, and yet Sheik Arnhyn had not yet come, and Mohammed waited in
vain for intelligence concerning his captor's purposes.
He had again been seated with Butheita on the mat, and had eaten
with her as in the morning.
He had endeavored to chat gayly with the Queen of the Desert; but
her quick eye had read in his countenance that a cloud rested on his
soul, and the brightness faded from her eyes.
She turned to him when he had risen from the mat and was walking
thoughtfully, to and fro in the narrow tent. "Tell me, O stranger,
is your heart so very sad? Is there nothing Butheita can do for you.
You are wearied; this space is too narrow for you. Your soul, whose
wings are pinioned, would fly out into the world. The world without
is very beautiful, I know."
"Do you know this world?" asked Mohammed, his lips smiling as he
looked at her.
"Yes, I do," said she. "I have been with father to Tantah several
times. While there I heard the scha-er tell their beautiful stories
of Ey-Zahir. I listened with breathless attention. And then, too, I
heard the female singers, the Gavasi. They sang beautiful songs, and
the words and tones have often since resounded in my heart. Do you
know, sarechsme, that often, when my father had gone out with his
Bedouins to fight or to plunder, as was sometimes the case, then my
only pleasure was to take down the zammarah bisoan, on which my
mother played, and sing to its accompaniment the songs I had learned
from the Gavasi. "Shall I sing them for you? Shall I?" But you must
not laugh at me for repeating what the Gavasi sang in Tantah."
Without awaiting a reply, she took down the little bagpipe with its
bag of goat-skin, and to its shrill accompaniment sang a quaint
love-song with an admixture of the comic.
Her countenance had become grave, and a sweet fire burned in her
eyes, while singing to the monotonous air in a shrill, vibrating
voice, as was customary with the street-singers of the Egyptian
towns. When she had finished her song, she turned the gaze of her
dark eyes upon Mohammed with an inquiring expression. When she saw
the smile on his countenance, and encountered the wondrous glance
that seemed to penetrate to her very soul, she stated. "It pleases
you," said she. "I read in your countenance that you are pleased.
Then I will sing you another song."
She took up her instrument again, and sang, in loud, joyous tones, a
song about a gazelle-like maiden who had run away with her lover's
soul, concluding with,
"Throughout the long, long night his sighing ceases not, his sighing
for the dear gazelle that stole away his soul. Have pity on your
lover; come back to me, gazelle. "
"Gazelle, come back to me! " cried Mohammed, with outstretched arms.
"Gazelle, have pity on your lover."
She seemed not to have heard him, bowed down over her instrument,
and played in such loud, shrill tones, that it almost deafened
Mohammed, who well understood Butheita's motive in playing so.
He smiled at her in silence. Butheita laughed.
"You see my song has gladdened you, and your countentance smiles
again. O joy! See, there in the distance! Yes, there come two
figures. That is my father, that is Sheik Arnhyn. Some one
accompanies him. Rejoice, sarechsme; you will be relieved of your
He laid his band gently on her shoulder, and regarded her with a
long, earnest look, that recalled the roses to her brown cheeks.
"I do not rejoice, Butheita, Queen of the Desert. I have erected a
throne for you in my heart, and my heart spoke to you in the words
of your song--'Throughout the long, long night my sighing ceases
not, my sighing for the dear gazelle that stole away my heart.' Then
speak, gazelle, shall I take you with me? Will you live with me in
the great city? Speak to me, gazelle."
She gazed far out over the yellow sand toward the two specks, in
which her keen eye recognized two human figures, but in which he saw
only two black specks that gradually increased in size.
"Answer me, Butheita. Their coming does not gladden me, and the
thought of leaving you makes me sad. If you fancy I have found it
dull here, you are in error. My heart is only too much occupied.
Butheita, sweetest of maidens, speak to me! Speak to me, gazelle!"
"See, sarechsme--father waves his hand!" cried she. "He already sees
us standing here; his eye is as keen as an eagle's. He sees us!
Come, let us step back for a moment, I have something to say to you.
--To be sure I might have told you where we were," she continued,
blushing, as she stepped behind the curtain. "I might as well have
told you at the door, for father could not have heard it, although
he could see us."
"Speak, Butheita, what did you wish to say? Speak!"
"I have forgotten, sarechsme. But I believe I wished to thank you
for saying you had not found it dull here. It seems to me that only
a moment has passed since I saw you yesterday, and yet it is an
eternity. Yesterday lies far behind me, and today seems entirely
different. The sun seems to be another, and I myself another, too.
You see I am a very silly child."
"And why do you falter? Why do I see tears in your eyes, Butheita?"
"Because I'm a foolish child! A strange feeling comes over me," said
she, sadly. "You will now go; the man who is coming with father will
take you away from us, and I shall never see you again."
"Then give me, O Butheita, give me one of the roses that blossom on
"That blossom on my lips?" said she, surprised, as she passed her
little brown hand across her mouth. "A rose on my lips ? What does
that mean, stranger?"
He bowed down over her. She felt his warm breath on her brown cheek.
"Give me a rose! Let me pluck a kiss from your lips!"
Butheita's cheeks blushed crimson. She put out her rosy lips, but
then suddenly drew back and defended herself vigorously.
"Did I not tell you of my promise to my father? No man shall ever
kiss me except the one who shall lead me to his tent as his wife. It
is well that father is coming. Farewell, sarechsme, if I should riot
see you again! Farewell! and let me keep my vow!"
She gently pushes him back, and flies out of the tent to meet her
father. Sheik Arnhyn recognizes and hails her with a shout of
"Butheita, have you succeeded, have you guarded the stranger well?"
"I have taken good care of him; come, father, and see!" She takes
her father's arm, and, without looking at the man who walks close
behind him, draws the sheik quickly to the tent.
But Mohammed, with a proud and grave expression of countenance,
advances to meet them. Butheita now hardly recognizes, in the
haughty sarechsme, with his imperious bearing, the stranger, who is
no longer a stranger to her heart.
"Speak, sheik! How dared you lead me away, a prisoner, from my army?
Really, you were very presumptuous. Such conduct is calculated to
excite my just anger and indignation."
The sheik made a profound obeisance.
"I trust you will forgive me, sarechsme; what I did was done at the
command of my master. There he comes; he is called Osman Bey
Bardissi. He comes crowned with victory, and will treat with you.--
Come, Butheita, what they have to say to each other does not concern
us, we have done our duty, and I have performed what I promised. The
Mameluke bey has also kept his promise, and my men are already on
the battlefield; I, too, must speedily return, my child, for we are
to bring home costly spoils."
While walking with her to the tent, he tells her of the splendid
caftans, the golden vessels, the jewelled daggers, and the costly
arms, that he has already gathered from the field of battle.
In the mean while the two men have approached each other. Now they
stand face to face, Osman Bey Bardissi, and the sarechsme, Mohammed
Ali, and regard each other with a long, gloomy look. Both, it seems,
wish to avoid being the first to speak a word of greeting.
Finally, Osman breaks the silence. "This, Mohammed Ali, is our third
meeting. The first, you will recollect, was at Cavalla. Two boys,
both ambitious, addressed each other in tones of mockery and
derision. In the years that have since passed, I have often thought
of the boy with the eagle eyes and the haughty, contemptuous smile.
Our second meeting occurred a few months since, after the massacre
at Aboukir. You were my enemy, and yet you acted as my friend. You
saved Osman Bey Bardissi's life. Then I said to you: 'I will
remember this, Mohammed Ali, and in me you have found a friend for
"Such were your words, Osman Bey Bardissi," replied Mohammed, his
voice tremulous with anger, "and now I have received a proof of your
friendship! You have had me snared like a wild beast, and abducted
from my camp and my soldiers, to become a laughing-stock for them
and an object of derision for your people."
Bardissi shook his head quietly. "You are in error, Mohammed Ali;
none of my men know what has occurred, nor do I believe that yours
do. No one shall ever learn, I swear it by Allah, where the
sarechsme, Mohammed Ali, has passed this night, or by whom he was
abducted. No, no one shall ever learn it! You can rest assured,
Sheik Arnhyn is not the man to babble like a woman when he should
hold his peace, and Butheita is his obedient daughter. This matter
shall be kept to ourselves. We meet to-day for the third time, and
do you know why, Mohammed Ali? I caused you to be abducted because I
promised you friendship. I did not wish to confront you as an enemy;
against my wish a bullet might have chanced to strike you; and, I
know not how it is, but I feel drawn to you, I feel a desire to be
your friend. I wish to fight at your side, and not against you. We
two, O Mohammed--we two, united--could make our land happy, great,
and free, I feel assured. I read this in your countenance when we
met on the ship. A voice seemed to whisper in my heart: 'He can
assist you, he must be your friend!' Your eye glittered as I have
seen but one other glitter; a proud consciousness of power was
expressed in your features, such as I have seen in those of but one
other man, and to this day I regret that he was our enemy, and that
he has left us."
"And who was this man?"
"He was a French general. They called him Bonaparte, and he was a
great man. It seems to me you resemble him, Mohammed Ali; like him
you seem to stand gazing out upon the world, conscious of power and
heroism, and resolved to bring it into subjection, as he was, but
could not. For, observe, this was his mistake: he assumed a hostile
attitude toward the Mamelukes, instead of seeking their friendship.
And this I now hope of you, Mohammed Ali, that you will make friends
of the Mamelukes, and not remain on the side of our treacherous
enemies the Turks. It does not beseem you. Your soul is great, and
your actions heroic! Why are you with the Turks? It does not beseem
"It does not beseem me!" cried Mohammed excitedly; "truly it does
not beseem me-"
"Be still, my friend, I pray you!" said Bardissi, interrupt ing him.
"Listen first to what I have to say. Do you know whence I come? Look
at me! Do you see these dark spots on my clothing? 'Tis blood,
Mohammed Ali, human blood. It splashed on me from many a wound! Go
thither, Mohammed Ali; go to the plain of Damanhour. The bodies of
the dead lie thick there--the bodies of dead Turks, Mohammed Ali!"
"And the bodies of many Mamelukes also, I should think," rejoined
Osman Bey shook his head slowly. "Not many! You are in error,
Mohammed Ali. We hurriedly counted them. Three thousand Turks lie
dead upon the battle-field of Daman hour; of our men, of the
Mamelukes, hardly sixty!"
"That is impossible!" cried Mohammed, in dismay.
"It seems impossible, yet it is the truth, Mohammed Ali," replied
Bardissi, drawing himself up proudly. "I tell you, three thousand
Turks and hardly sixty Mamelukes; and ours is the battle-field.
Those of the Turks who were not shot down or sabred have fled to
bear to Cairo the disastrous intelligence--that eight hundred
Mamelukes have vanquished over three thousand Turks led by Youssouf
Bey, the _kiaya_ of the viceroy. The proud man is defeated, and may
return to Cairo with the miserable remnants of his magnificence to
announce his disgrace. I tell you, Mohammed, it was a wondrous
battle! Youssouf Bey had drawn up his army on the plain of
Damanhour, behind them their artillery. While we were forming in
front of them, their artillery began to thunder; it was to carry
death into our ranks, and it succeeded. Fearful was the first shock!
I began to fear lest my men should flinch. I called to them in a
loud voice, and with them bore down upon the enemy with the speed of
the lightning, regardless of the thundering artillery. But its
discharges were murderous, and I saw that it was impossible to
advance farther in this direction. We then turned, and, before the
Turks could take measures to prevent it, fell upon their unprotected
left flank and bore down upon their ranks. The first rank, surprised
and terrified by my sudden flank attack, gave way, and their
infantry was thrown into disorder. The blows of our ataghans fell
thick and fast. The enemy turned and fled in wild disorder, we
following them. Mohammed Ali, the slaughter was dreadful! Eight
hundred Mamelukes vanquished over three thousand Turks! Sheik
Arnhyn's Bedouins, who are now on the field, can show you the rich
spoils. Let them rob the dead; for me and mine, who scorn to do
this, spoils enough still remain; we have captured all their
artillery, and munitions of war in abundance. `It was a glorious
day,' so say the Mameluke beys. `It was a disastrous day,' will the
viceroy, throned in the proud citadel at Cairo, lament.
"Do you now understand, O sarechsme, why I caused you to be abducted
from your camp by my friend Sheik Arnhyn? I did it partly on my own
account, and partly out of friend ship for you. You look at me
inquiringly; you do not understand! I will explain. Intelligence had
been brought to me that, should Youssouf Bey be defeated, you were
to march rapidly to his assistance. I saw the messenger sent by him
to call you to his assistance; you would have come too late. You
could only have shared defeat had you come up with your troops,
exhausted by their march, and attacked the Mamelukes, flushed with
victory. They would have defeated you, and therefore do I consider
it an act of friendship to have prevented your coming at all. Yet, I
would not conceal the truth. Truly, Osman Bey Bardissi loves the
truth, and therefore I tell you I also did it on my own account, and
on account of my Mamelukes. I well know what mettle your other
generals are made of! From Youssouf Bey and Taher Pacha the Mameluke
Beys have nothing to fear; I know them, and know that they are poor
soldiers; but of you, Mohammed Ali, I have a different opinion. When
I saw you on the ship, I said to myself: `This man will become a
hero; woe to us when he confronts us in battle, but joy if we can
win him to our side and make him our friend!' Therefore, I entreat
you, be our friend, Mohammed Ali. Abandon the treacherous Turks, for
treacherous they are! We saw this at Aboukir, and I think have
aroused indignation in your gallant heart to see them massacre so
many of our noblest beys through vile trickery and treachery. I can
well understand that you cannot admit this while you are a sarechsme
of the Turks; yet, be one of us, Mohammed Ali. Confess to yourself
that the Turks are waging an unjust war, and that treachery is their
favorite weapon. It is my firm conviction that we shall ultimately
succeed in vanquishing and driving them from the country; but to do
this we need strong men and heroic hearts. I cannot consent to their
possession of such a man as yourself. Come to us, Mohammed Ali! You
shall be our first and greatest! What Mourad Bey was for us, that
shall Mohammed Ali be for the Mamelukes. We will bow to your wisdom
in humility! We will obey all your commands! Be one of us, Mohammed
Ali. Join us, and we will vanquish the Turks and reoccupy Cairo! You
shall be enthroned in the citadel as our chieftain; you shall rule
over Cairo and be our brother and comrade. Abandon the Turks! Now,
Mohammed Ali, I have finished. Give me an answer!"
His eager gaze was fastened on Mohammed's proud, tranquil
countenance in breathless suspense. The latter making no reply,
Bardissi repeated, in tones of entreaty almost, "Answer me, Mohammed
"Do you really suppose I can answer you?" said Mohammed, gently.
"Look at me; I wear the uniform of a Turkish general, and am in the
grand-sultan's, and, more immediately, in Cousrouf Pacha, the
viceroy's service. I am a soldier, who, wearing his uniform, must
ever be mindful that he has sworn the oath of fidelity. Moreover, I
am your prisoner. Do you suppose it would beseem the soldier to
treat with his enemy against his commander-in-chief? Would it, do
you think, become the prisoner to accept the proposals of him who
for the moment is his master; would it not look as though the
prisoner wished in this manner to purchase his freedom? And now
answer me, Bardissi!"
"This is my answer," said Bardissi, bowing his head with a smile:
"You are free, and no longer a prisoner. You were entrapped, and
brought here, because I wished to speak with you. This I have done,
and now you are free. And now your decision, if you please!"
"Osman Bey Bardissi is far too great a hero, and far too brave a
soldier and honorable man, not to know what emotions agitate my
soul. See, I wear a general's uniform, and my army corps is awaiting
me! You cannot suppose that I will abandon them, or incite them to
treason! As yet, I serve the viceroy alone," he continued in a lower
voice, "and, as yet, I do not know that I can depend entirely on
"However, you do not say 'no' to my proposals?" said Bardissi.
"I say wait, Bardissi! He who wishes to attain fortune must not
grasp at it with too quick a hand. He may catch hold of a corner of
its mantle, but fortune itself might escape him. Only he who is calm
and collected can depend on securing it, Bardissi. Therefore, I say,
wait! Yet, this will I say, in addition," continued he, his
countenance assuming a milder expression, "Give me your hand before
we part. It is the hand of a brave man, and I am glad to press it in
Bardissi joyously laid his broad, sinewy hand in Mohammed's, and
grasped it firmly.
"I repeat it, Bardissi, wait. In eight days you shall have an answer
from me. Perhaps it will, be communicated to you through common
report--perhaps secretly. Therefore, name some one through whom I
can communicate with you."
Bardissi made no answer, but glanced uneasily at Mohammed. The
"You are suspicious; you have already experienced too much treachery
from your enemies not to fear Mohammed Ali might prove like the
rest. I require no answer. In case of necessity, I will send you an
answer through Mourad's widow, Sitta Nefysseh."
"Sbe is our mistress, and we all reverence and obey her as we
should, the widow of our great chieftain."
"I know you all honor and love her!" said Mohammed, with a slight
smile. "May I now depart?"
Bardissi inclined his head. "You are free! I shall ride on in
advance, and deprive myself of the pleasure of accompanying you
through the desert. We might be seen together, and suspicion excited
against you. I ride in that direction. The dromedary will bear you
back to your camp by a shorter route across the desert. She who
brought you here will also accompany you back. She knows the way,
and is discreet and cautious, like her father. My horse and servants
await me behind that hill. And now let us part!"
"Let us part!" repeated Mohammed, extending his hand for a parting
"I will accompany you to the tent," said Bardissi," and give orders
to have the dromedary saddled for you while you are strengthening
yourself for the ride."
They walked to the tent side by side, and Bardissi called the sheik,
and gave him his instructions.
Mohammed entered the tent. No one was there. He walked into the
inner apartment, and so noiselessly that his step was not heard by
her who stood behind the partition, by Butheita. She stood there,
her head bowed down, and her gaze fixed on the spot where she had
broken bread with Mohammed. Now, hearing her name murmured behind
her, she started and turned around. He observed that her manner was
sad, and that the smile had departed from her lips.
"You are sad, Butheita," whispered he, approaching her.
She cast down her eyes before his glance. "You are going away," said
she. "Father is already saddling the dromedary, and you are about to
"I must go," said be, gently. "Duty calls me away, while love would
gladly hold me back. But I am a man, and must listen to the voice of
duty only. They say you are to accompany, and show me the way?"
She shook her head resolutely. "I beg you, say that you do not wish
it, that you desire my father to accompany you."
"And why should I do so?" asked he, gazing searchingly into her
countenance. "Do you hate me so that you are unwilling to pass an
hour in my company? Did I conduct myself unbecomingly while we were
together in the palanquin this morning? Why will you not accord me
the happiness of riding across the desert with you again? Why do you
She remained silent for a while, and then slowly shook her head.
"No, it is not that; it is something quite different. It pains me to
see you leave. This morning, I could ride with you across the
desert; then I did not know you, and did not fear you."
"And now you are afraid of me?" said he, gazing in her eyes
"No, not afraid of you, but afraid of myself," said she, in a low
voice. "I am afraid I might love you; and that may not be," cried
she, in a firmer tone. "You are a great and distinguished man, and
would laugh at the poor Bedouin child if she should regard you
otherwise than as a great sarechsme, who had condescended to honor
her father's tent by accepting his daughter's hospitality. I had
best not ride with you. And I have already told father so."
"And the reason, too, Butheita? " said he, smiling.
"No, sarechsme! I told father I was weary with my long ride. He
loves me dearly, and, although he had intended returning with the
bey to collect the spoils from the field, he is, nevertheless, ready
to accompany you if you will permit him."
"I am to permit you to cause me pain, and deny myself a great
happiness, Butheita. Yet, I understand you, and must say that I
rejoice to see you act as you do. I rejoice in you, my star-eyed
desert queen! Be assured, Mohammed Ali will never forget you. And
now, tell me, will you not quite forget me either?"
"No, that I will not, sarechsme."
"Will you also be mindful of your promise to your father to allow
him only to kiss you, who shall one day lead you to his home?"
"I shall ever be mindful of this promise."
"Then, Butheita, then will I kiss you," cried he, and with
passionate violence he clasped her in his arms, and pressed a kiss
on her lips. He then turned and left the tent.
Butheita sank down upon the mat, and with outstretched arms she
knelt there, motionless, a statue of ecstasy, of blissful love.
Mohammed stepped out before the tent, and beckoned to the sheik to
"I beg that you will accompany me, sheik; it will be too fatiguing
for your daughter to take this ride the second time."
"Gladly, master; she has already told me so herself, and I am
ready," said he, commanding the dromedary to kneel down. Mohammed
sprang into the palanquin, and the sheik followed him.
"Farewell, Butheita," he cried. She did not answer; she did not wish
to go out, as he might see her tears, and her father, too, might
observe them. She therefore remained silent. She had drawn the
curtain over the entrance to the inner apartment, and lay on the mat
weeping; weeping and laughing at the same time, for joy and pain--
ecstasy and pain were contending for victory in her heart. "He is
gone, gone! and yet he is ever with me."
The dromedary flew over the desert still more swiftly than in the
morning, his feet hardly touching the ground; clouds of sand were
whirled aloft, and enveloped the animal and the riders as with a
thick veil. No one saw them, and, had any one seen them, he could
not have told who they were.
Arrived at the boundary line of the desert, where two horses awaited
them, the sheik halted. Having dismounted with Mohammed, he
addressed a few loud words to the dromedary; it turned, and flew
homeward across the desert.
"It knows the way," said the sheik, smiling. "It will return alone
They mounted the horses, and rode on swiftly through meadows, and
palm and sycamore groves.
The sheik now drew rein. "Do you see that black line standing out
against the evening sky? That is your camp. If you desire it, I will
accompany you farther. It rests with you to decide."
"I will ride on alone, sheik. Farewell, and accept this for your
He held out to the sheik a purse filled with gold-pieces. The latter
proudly rejected it.
"With one breath you say things that do not agree with each other.
You wish to pay me, and yet you say you have enjoyed my hospitality.
The guest does not pay, unless it be with love and friendship. If
you pay me in that way, I shall rejoice, and Butheita also, I know."
"O sheik, I thank you both for your hospitality, and will love you
and hold you in good remembrance. Farewell, sheik!"
He pressed his knees to his horse's flanks and rode off in a rapid
gallop. Evening had already sunk down when he approached the plain
where his soldiers lay encamped. He dismounted, and left his horse
to return alone. He then glided stealthily to the rear of his tent,
and, raising the canvas, slipped in. No one was in this apartment
where his couch lay, but in the first one he heard loud voices. His
officers were speaking of him. They were making anxious inquiries
and conjectures as to where the general might be, and were
considering whether they should make further search for him or break
up camp and return to Cairo. They were the voices of his bim bashis
and boulouk bashis. Smiling, he listened for a time to their
conversation. He then drew back the curtain and stepped into the
outer apartment. A joyous shout greeted his entrance. They eagerly
rushed forward, and anxiously inquired where he had been, the
meaning of his absence, and if any evil had befallen him.
He gazed at them haughtily.
"Am I, the general, to be called to account by you, my officers?"
They instantly ceased speaking, and saluted him with profound
"I know," continued he, in milder tones, "that sympathy for me
prompted your inquiries, and will therefore tell you where I have
been. I rode last night, entirely alone, to Damanhour, where I knew
Youssouf Bey lay with his men. I wished to learn if we could reach
them in time, and therefore rode with the wings of the wind. When I
reached their camp, the battle had already begun. It was too late to
march to Youssouf Bey's assistance. I therefore did what I could,
drew my sword and fought in the ranks as a common soldier. The day
was adverse; the Turkish army lies defeated on the plain of
Damanhour! Now let us remain here and wait. If the victors, the
Mameluke beys, feel disposed to try their fortune in another battle,
by Allah they shall find us ready to receive them! But, if they do
not show themselves by tomorrow, we will turn and march back to
Cairo. Now go and announce to the soldiers what has taken place."
They bowed profoundly, and the deference and silence with which they
now left the tent were in marked contrast with their previous noisy
behavior. The general knew how to impress them with a sense of his
superiority; they all recognized in him a great man, and felt his
iron hand on their necks. All now grows still in the camp. The
soldiers retire to rest, and Mohammed also sinks down on his mat to
repose, and, if possible, to sleep after so much fatigue and
But sleep refused to come at his bidding. He arose and walked to and
fro in his tent for a long time. At first he was merely the loving
man, and beheld only Butheita's countenance; but the hero in him
soon gained the upper hand. Mohammed profoundly considered Osman
Bey's words, and how he must shape his future. His keen vision had
observed and made him acquainted with the men who surrounded him,
and with the relations to which he must now either conform or
against which be must now rise in arms. He had been in a state of
doubt and hesitation all along; his future was enveloped in a thick
veil, and he was not aware what shape his destiny was to take; yet
he had closely observed all. He bad seen that poor Egypt was a
plaything of ambition, of rapacity, of intrigue--a prey for all.
Nowhere in the midst of this reign of intrigue and passion had he
seen law and justice prevail. He saw only a province trodden under
foot, a bleeding land, that must perish in its citizens, unless a
deliverer should come who knew how to bind up and heal its wounds.
Could he be its deliverer? Was it his mission to raise up the
downtrodden people from the dust, to erect for himself a throne upon
the ground that smoked with the blood of so many victims? Was this
his mission, and was there a way that would lead him up the steep
ascent to the throne? All this he considered earnestly and
profoundly throughout the entire night, and, when the rising sun had
dispelled the clouds of the morning, it was clear, too, in his soul.
He saw the way he must go to reach his goal.
"And this way I will go," said he to himself, in low tones. "I will
consider nothing but my interest and my aim. I will avail myself of
all means that are useful. Wise, shrewd, cautious, using every
thing, and recoiling from nothing, let this be the motto of my
immediate future: 'To overthrow the enemy by rebellion were unwise;
he who usurps another's place is always a rebel, and deserving of
punishment.' I must be called to the throne by the people
themselves, then I shall be a legitimate ruler. To attain this be
your task, Mohammed Ali. Equip yourself and collect your energies.
Be the lion and the tiger, the serpent and the hero: in this way
only can you accomplish your end."
Early on the following morning the videttes announced to the
sarechsme that no trace of the enemy was anywhere to be seen.
"Then we shall return to Cairo," said the sarechsme to his bim
bashis; "give orders to prepare to march."
The loud shouts of joy that resounded without announced to the
sarechsme that the soldiers were well pleased to return home. "I am,
too!" said he to himself, smiling. "I am well pleased that we are
not compelled to confront the Mamelukes! Perhaps we shall soon be
fighting side by side!"
In the meanwhile intelligence of the defeat of the Turkish army had
reached Cairo. Many had heard it with intense satisfaction, many
with sorrow, according to whether they were friends or enemies of
Yet, when Mohammed Ali's troops marched through the streets, they
were greeted with shouts of joy. They returned, as the sarechsme had
ordered, quietly to their barracks.
Mohammed Ali also repaired to his house to rest and to wait.
In the meanwhile the remnant of the defeated army had also returned
to Cairo; and Youssouf Bey, who had succeeded in making his escape
from the slaughter, repaired, at the very hour when Mohammed entered
the city with his troops to the citadel, to the viceroy. With
furious despair and tears of rage, he told the story of his terrible
defeat, thinking by this display of anguish to wash his hands of the
disgrace of having been vanquished with three thousand Turks by
eight hundred Mamelukes! But, as though the number of his troops
ought not to have been sufficient to insure victory over the small
force of the Mamelukes, he sought to throw the blame on others.
"I was betrayed--betrayed! Mohammed Ali and Taher Pacha are to blame
for this disaster. They should have come to my assistance, but they
left me to shift for myself. That is infamous conduct! Here, before
your throne, I accuse of treason, above all, Mohammed Ali, and also
Taher Pacha! They knew I was in danger: had they come up, I should
not have lost the battle; but they did not come, because they
desired my downfall, in order that they might ascend to the height
of your favor over my neck! They are both traitors. I entreat you to
cause searching inquiries to be made, and to hold to a strict
accountability those who so shamefully deserted me."
Cousrouf Pacha felt deeply touched by the anguish and despair of his
favorite, and perhaps he also felt a foreboding rise in his heart
that Mohammed Ali was still his enemy, and was seeking revenge for
his long-since-destroyed happiness.
"You are right, Youssouf Bey. I promise you strict investigation
shall be made, and woe to them if they fail to justify themselves!"
A messenger entered to announce to the viceroy that Mohammed Ali had
returned to Cairo with his troops. The viceroy immediately
dispatched a messenger to the sarechsme, ordering him to come up to
the citadel at once, and without any delay whatever, to render
account to the viceroy of his action.
Mohammed heard the command with perfect composure. "Tell the viceroy
that I will come up to the citadel tomorrow, in the broad light of
day, with my soldiers. My weary troops must rest tonight, and
without them I do not desire to appear before your master.
Therefore, tomorrow morning, rest assured that I shall come."
As he had said, in the broad light of day, and accompanied by his
soldiers, the sarechsme repaired to the citadel. An ominous cry
resounded from their lips as they stood before the gateway, and this
cry was heard in the apartment of the viceroy.
"We demand our pay! We want bread, we want money!" This was the
soldiers' cry. Now, surrounded by his bim bashis and boulouk bashis,
the sarechsme entered the apartment of the viceroy, Cousrouf Pacha,
who was awaiting him. In utter disregard of deference and usage, the
general did not wait to be addressed by the viceroy. With a military
greeting, he stepped forward and said, in a loud voice:
"As you hear, highness, your troops have come to demand of you that
to which they have assuredly long been entitled--they have come to
demand their pay!"
"I see," said Cousrouf, in low tones, casting a furtive glance of
hatred at Mohammed--"I see that you are still the insolent boy of
"I believe," replied Mohammed, also speaking in subdued tones--" I
believe we are both what we then were; and I shall prove it to you!"
He stepped back. No one had heard the brief conversation that passed
between them, but every one saw Cousrouf's cheek grow pale, and his
eye sparkle with anger.
"I will send you an answer," said he, after a pause. "Return to your
house, and order the soldiers to return to their barracks. My
defterdar will bring you an answer."
He turned and left the apartment.
"Well, for this time we will be patient and wait," said Mohammed,
addressing his officers.
His voice was threatening, and his officers understood that their
general was prepared to resort to extreme measures, and they
rejoiced over it, for the viceroy was always haughty and overbearing
in his manner toward them, and they all hated him. They would all
have been pleased to see their bold general revolt against him.
"We will wait," they whispered to each other--" we will wait! What
our sarechsme does, we will do also!"
They returned, in obedience to his command, to their quarters and
The sarechsme, Mohammed Ali, a peculiar smile on his lips, also
returned to his palace.
"The decisive hour approaches! Cousrouf Pacha shall be convinced
that I, as he says, am still the same Mohammed Ali I was at Cavalla!
Yes, still the same, and still determined to have revenge!
To have gained a week is to have gained a great deal.
Within this time the viceroy will succeed in replenishing his
coffers. His defterdar is very skillful in the art of getting money,
and who should understand the art if not the minister of finance? He
will find means to collect from the ulemas, from the rich sheiks,
and from the merchants, money enough to quiet his rebellious troops.
A week is a long period, and he will find means to satisfy them all.
But, after a few days, the terrible intelligence reaches Cousrouf
pacha: Taher Pacha is defeated; the stronghold Migne has been
captured by the Mameluke beys. Taher Pacha is defeated, and is
returning with his army-corps to Cairo!
"He shall not come, he must not come!" cried the viceroy, angrily.
"No, he must not come; as it is, we have rebellious soldiers enough
here now. They would unite with Taher's troops, and clamor for pay
again. And our coffers are empty. Send messengers to meet the
advancing troops, with instructions to General Taher to march with
his corps to Tantah, and there await further orders. In any case, I
forbid him to return here to Cairo. Is my capital to be made a camp?
Is it merely an immense barrack in which these insolent fellows are
to puff themselves up and do violence to all honest and respectable
people? It is enough to have to tolerate Mohammed Ali and his men
here. Taher Pacha shall not unite with them. Quick, dispatch the
messengers at once!"
The messengers, in accordance with the viceroy's instructions,
hastened forth in the direction from which Taher must come. But the
messengers did not meet him. He did not come by the expected route.
He had taken another--a secret messenger having come to him with
"Hasten forward, Taher--you are to be kept at a distance from the
capitol! It is intended to withhold their pay from your soldiers!"
He did not know from whom this messenger came, but he believed him.
Resolved not to remain where a message from the viceroy could reach
him, Taher Pacha took another road, and, before another messenger
could reach him, Taher entered Cairo with his army. The uproar in
the streets, the shouting of the soldiers as they greeted their
friends, announced to the viceroy what had taken place. And in great
wrath he learned from the defterdar, who came running to the viceroy
in despair, that his fears were only too well founded.
Yes, it was as he expected. The soldiers had not gone to their
barracks; Taher had not come to seek repose in his house, but to
demand his and his soldiers' pay. "We are in rags, and starving; we
need shoes and clothes. Give us our pay, that we may satisfy our
hunger and clothe ourselves!"
"But how am I to pay them?" said the defterdar, addressing the
viceroy in anxious tones. "Our coffers are empty, and all resources
exhausted. I know not what to do or where to turn."
The viceroy sat gazing at him gloomily. Suddenly a thought seemed to
occur to him; his countenance brightened. "Mohammed Ali is shrewd
and fertile in resources. We must apply to him. He will help us out
of our difficulty. He is thoughtful, cool, and resolute. True, he
assumed a hostile attitude toward me a few days ago, but he must be
He must be prevented from uniting with Taher. The two united would
be a fearful combination against me."
He instructs the defterdar to go in person to Mohammed Ali to
request him to come to the viceroy. "We cannot pay the troops, but
we can find enough to pay the general's salary."
Cousrouf Pacha takes from his own private funds ten purses of gold-
pieces. He carries them himself to the apartment in which be intends
to receive the sarechsme.
In the mean while the minister of finance had, in accordance with
the viceroy's instructions, repaired with great haste to the palace
in which the sarechsme resided. A body of Albanian soldiers were
encamped about the palace. They called themselves the body-guard of
the sarechsme. The heart of the finance minister throbbed with
dismay when he beheld their daring, resolute faces.
"If this is the sarechsme's body-guard, then woe to the viceroy!"
said he to himself, as he ascended the stairway that led to the
general's apartment. With a trembling voice and humble demeanor, he
delivered the viceroy's message to the general.
"He begs you to come to him. He wishes to be reconciled to you; he
will himself hand you the arrearages of pay. But I entreat you, come
without your great suite--it might be wrongly interpreted. I mean
well with you; I am your friend. Do not come with your body-guard,
"We two should understand each other better," replied Mohammed,
smiling derisively. "You tremble for me. I thank you, but see, I am
not trembling at all myself. He who pursues an honest course and is
faithful to his master and his service, has no occasion to tremble.
This you shall see, for I intend to go to the viceroy entirely
alone. Only my men shall at least know where I have gone, that is
With a haughty smile, the defterdar following, he descended the
broad stairway of his palace, and cordially greeted the soldiers
standing about the gateway, who received him with shouts of joy.
"Be patient, my friends, I entreat you, be patient, and await my
return. I will return in an hour; wait here for me that long. Should
I not return by that time, seek me."
The defterdar, who hears every word of this, murmurs to himself: "It
will be necessary to acquaint his highness with this, that he may be
on his guard, and not detain the sarechsme in his fortress too long.
The consequences might be dangerous."
In humble terms he begs to be permitted to hasten in advance to
announce his coming to the viceroy. The sarechsme assents with a
gracious inclination of the head, and smiles benignantly on the
"We understand each other right well, my good defterdar. You are
right; go in advance, and announce me to the viceroy."
He waited a short time in the court-yard, conversing with the
soldiers who gathered around him to complain of their wrongs.
"I am going up to the citadel to the viceroy, in your interests.
Wait patiently for an entire hour," repeated Mohammed.
He then mounts his horse and rides up to the citadel. The defterdar
has hardly had time to convey the warning to the viceroy:
"Do not detain him here too long, highness. If he remains here
longer than an hour, his soldiers will come up here after him in
open revolt. Taher's troops have not gone to their barracks, and are
only awaiting the signal to join them."
Cousrouf nodded his assent, and muttered to himself: "I was wrong in
not treading this viper under foot in Cavalla; now it intends to
bite me--I feel it, it intends to bite me; but it shall not. I will
draw its fangs."
His Nubian slave now enters and announces to his master that the
sarechsme, Mohammed Ali, stands without, awaiting his pleasure.
Cousrouf's countenance quickly assumes a friendly expression.
"Leave me, defterdar, and await me in the next room. I shall not
detain the sarechsme long."
The defterdar withdrew, and the Nubian slave opened the door to
admit the general. With a military greeting, Mohammed Ali entered,
and advanced toward the viceroy, who, on this occasion, received him
standing, and not indolently reclining on his cushions, as was his
habit; he even stepped forward to meet him, extending his hand, and
saluting more cordially than usual.
"Sarechsme, when we last met, it was in anger. This I have deeply
regretted, for you know what I think of you."
"Yes, highness, I know what you think of me," replied Mohammed,
The viceroy saw the derisive smile that played about his lips.
"I think well of you, Mohammed! I expect great things of you, and
know that you are the truest and most devoted of my servants."
Mohammed looked up at him with a strange, inquiring glance. "Of your
servants, highness? I did not know that I was one of them. I am
devoted to you, as the general of the viceroy's troops should be,
yet both of us are the servants of our master, the grand-sultan, at
"You are right, both of us are servants, the grand-sultan is master
of us both; but I am his representative here, and it therefore
follows that the proud sarechsme need not blush when I call him my
faithful servant, as I stand for him in the place of the grand-
sultan. And it is because you recognize in me his representative,
and because you have sworn to serve him faithfully, that I have such
confidence in your devotion to me."
"Highness, I am faithful to my oath, faithful to the grand-sultan,
and faithful to you. I deeply regret that discord has arisen between
you and me, ever devoted to you as I am. But let us not speak of
this. I suppose you have called me on account of my troops. They
have long received no pay; they are without food, and their clothes
are in rags. They need and demand their pay. I, as their protector
and general, must insist on your compliance with their just demand."
"The week within which I promised to pay them has not yet elapsed,
four days still remain," said Cousrouf, suppressing his rage with
difficulty; "therefore wait for your soldiers' pay, but you,
Mohammed, you shall not wait. See how I honor and esteem you! There
lie ten purses of gold-pieces, that is your salary. I joyously give
it you out of my own private funds. Take your pay, my sarechsme!"
He pointed to a little marble table, on which the ten purses,
through whose meshes the gold-pieces glittered, were laid in a row.
"I accept them, highness. It is my salary, and I am justly entitled
to it. I accept them, and, though you only gave me my due, I
nevertheless thank you for having done so."
"And you are now reconciled, Mohammed Ali, and no longer angry?"
said Cousrouf, in flattering tones.
Mohammed bowed profoundly.
"How could I presume to be angry with your gracious highness? You
know my devotion to you, Cousrouf."
"Prove it! Give me your advice. You know the country, you know the
city; your eye is quick, and you observe much. I know Mohammed Ali
never walks indolently through the streets; his eye sees more than
other eyes, his ear hears more than other ears; he knows far more
than any of my servants. O Mohammed, if many of them were like you,
I need not be anxious and pass sleepless nights. But you, Mohammed,
are wise and shrewd, and have much experience and knowledge of the
world. Advise me, sarechsme, as to the means of raising money. I
myself, I confess, am at a loss to devise new means of replenishing
my empty coffers."
"I thank you for the high honor you do me," replied Mohammed.
"Advise you, the wise and experienced statesman! How flattering such
a privilege to me! Yet, unfortunately, I must confess that I know
not what to advise. But," he suddenly added, "one thing occurs to
me. You have taxed the merchants, you have taken money from the
ulemas, you have exacted it from the sheiks; but one thing you have
forgotten--to tax the women, highness!"
"The women!" said Cousrouf, recoiling a step. "How could I tax the
women? What women?"
"The wives of the Mameluke beys!" replied Mohammed. "You were
gracious enough, highness, to permit these ladies to remain here in
their palaces, in which they were accustomed to live like
"I gave my word, Mohammed Ali, that the wives of the Mameluke beys
should remain here, and that they should not be molested. I gave my
word. I did it because I knew that the people would suffer if the
rich ladies, whose splendid house holds give employment and food to
so many people, should be banished from the city. I did it for this
reason, and must now keep my word."
"And they shall remain here unmolested, highness. Their liberty is
not to be curtailed, neither is any harm to be done to their
persons. But they must yield to necessity, and surrender some of
their treasure. Mourad Bey's widow alone is very rich."
"Rich and courted by all the world!" cried Cousrouf Pacha. "All
Cairo is devoted to her! She is honored like a saint almost."
"Because she is rich," replied Mohammed, quietly. "The rich are
always honored; the world falls down and worships them; but let them
become poor, and the world drags them into the dust, and thus
avenges itself for its former humiliation. Sitta Nefysseh, Mourad's
widow, is rich. Her apartments, I am told, glitter with golden
dishes and vases, gold and silver coins are piled up in closets, and
whole chests are filled with jewelry and precious stones of every
description, brought home by Mourad from his wars."
The viceroy's eyes sparkled.
"It would certainly be desirable to get possession of some of this
treasure, yet we cannot become robbers. If we could do so by lawful
means, it would be well. Tell me of some such means, Mohammed Ali."
"I know of no such means, highness," said Mohammed, shrugging his
shoulders. "I only know that Sitta Nefysseh, as it is said, has a
secret understanding with the beys, the comrades of her deceased
husband. As I understand it, you only promised the wives of the
Mamelukes permission to remain here, and protection under the
condition that they were to abstain from all intercourse with the
Mameluke beys. Yet it is known that Osman Bardissi and L'Elfi Bey,
the two Mameluke chieftains, were not long since in Cairo, and that
they paid the Sitta a visit. They both love her. They adore her, and
defy every danger in order to see her. Of this I am certain,
"If this is true," cried Cousrouf, "I have some pretext for calling
her to account."
"And true it is, I assure you," replied Mohammed. "I myself saw
Bardissi as he stepped out of the back gate of the park and mounted
his horse, and a short time before I saw L'Elfi. Perhaps they had
both come for money for the payment of their troops."
"I well know, myself," said Cousrouf, "that Mourad's widow is very
rich, and generous to her friends. I will see her this very day, and
this very day shall she be called to account."
"But by whom?" asked Mohammed, quickly. "The cadi and the sheik will
not answer; for they, like all Cairo, love Sitta Nefysseh."
"Then I will call her to account myself!" cried Cousrouf, in
"But have you proofs of her guilt?" asked Mohammed. "Sitta Nefysseh
is wise, and knows how to defend herself. Therefore proofs, and not
the accusation only, are needed."
"I shall secure proofs! When we are determined to accuse any one,
proofs are never wanting. Else of what use were our clerks and
police? And now you may go, sarechsme. I thank you for your advice,
and will quickly proceed to raise money from the Sitta before she
suspects any thing. I thank you once more for your advice, Mohammed,
and I shall always remember that you are the shrewdest and most
faithful of all those who surround me--you perceive, I no longer
say, of my servants. Let me say, as I most gladly do, Mohammed Ali--
let me say, the most faithful of my friends! Does that please you?"
Mohammed replied with a profound bow only, and then silently
The hour had not yet passed, and his soldiers waited peaceably, as
he had commanded them. The Nubian slave of the viceroy followed his
horse, carrying the ten purses of gold-pieces. The general
dismounted at the door of the palace, and waited till the slave had
come up and taken the golden treasure into his house. Mohammed then
went to the grand hall and sent word down by a servant, that a
deputation of twenty-two of his men were to come up to him. The
sarechsme received them standing beside a table, on which lay the
ten purses of gold pieces. He greeted them cordially.
"I saw the viceroy in your behalf, and begged for your pay. I was
told that the week had not yet expired, and that you should wait.
The viceroy, however, my soldiers, paid me the salary due me. They
had forgotten to pay my salary ever since I have been in Egypt; it
has therefore now become a considerable sum. I have received ten
purses of gold, and I am really in need of this money to meet my
household expenses. But who knows when you will receive your pay? We
a11 share danger and want together, however; therefore let us share
the good things of this world together. Five purses I will keep for
myself, five purses belong to my soldiers. My housekeeper will go
down into the courtyard with you, and distribute the money among
you. I give it, not as your pay, but as a token of my friendship and
"Long live our general!" shouted the men; and they rushed forward,
fell on their knees, and kissed his garments. He bade them rise,
called his housekeeper, and gave him the five purses. The latter
then went down with the soldiers to the courtyard. Mohammed followed
them with his eyes, his countenance lighted up with a peculiar smile
"Now they are mine! With the money I gave them, I have bought their
souls! Yes, they are mine! The seed I have sown is ripening. O
Cousrouf, only follow my advice! Insult the one woman who is above
all honored and esteemed in Cairo, the one before whom all bow in
reverence--insult her, that the harvest-day of my revenge may soon
come! But one thing still remains to be done: Sitta Nefysseh must be
He stealthily stepped out into the garden through the side gate.
Unseen by his soldiers he hastily crossed the park, and, opening a
small door in the high wall that surrounded it, stepped out into the
It was silent and deserted. No one saw the cautious sarechsme,
closely enveloped in his mantle, wend his way hastily through the
narrow alleys to a little house that stood alone in the outskirts of
the city. He crossed the threshold without meeting any one. All was
still in the dark, narrow passage. He opened the door of the
chamber. On a mat sat an old woman, weaving woolen cloth.
"Are you the mother of Kachef Youssouf?" asked the sarechsme.
She turned around. "Yes, I am. You have not come to arrest my son?
He has not gone out to battle, he remains in Cairo, and is the
faithful servant of his gracious mistress, Sitta Nefysseh."
"That I know. I have not come on a hostile errand, but merely to
speak to him. Where is he?"
"Where he always is, master, with his gracious mistress. If you wish
it, I will call him; a door opens from this house into Sitta
Nefysseh's park, and I know where my son is to be found."
"Then call him quickly."
The old woman hastened away. In a short time she returned with her
"Do you know me?" asked Mohammed, advancing to meet him.
"Yes, who does not know the brave sarechsme, Mohammed Ali?"
"Do you love your mistress? " asked Mohammed
Youssouf looked at him with an expression of dismay and anxiety.
"I mean, you love her as it beseems every faithful servant to love
his mistress-you are ready to do her every service?"
"Yes, sarechsme, so do I love her," replied Youssouf, in low tones.
"Then listen! Come close to me--it is a secret. I tell you of it for
your mistress's sake; reward me by letting no one know who told
"I swear that I will not, sarechsme!"
"Go to your mistress and tell her to have all her treasure, her gold
and silver plate, and all her other valuables, put in a safe place.
You probably have some such places in your cellars or vaults. It
must be done quickly. Say a dream has warned you or what you will,
but do not name me!"
He enveloped himself in his mantle, and hurried back to his palace,
in which all was now still. The soldiers had gone out to spend the
present given them by their general in joy and revelry. Mohammed was
again alone in his chamber. e walked to and fro, reflecting on all
he had done, with silent self-applause :
"It would have been unfortunate had he found Sitta Nefysseh's
treasure. It would help him out of his difficulties. That would
never do. You are falling, Cousrouf! and it is I who am hurling you
down! Your peril increases with every hour! You have only to insult
Sitta Nefysseh, and all Cairo will rise up in arms against you. Let
that be your last deed! Then, Cousrouf, when you have fallen, you
shall know who has destroyed you!--Masa, sleep quietly in your cold
grave! You are being avenged!"
A STRONG HEART.
Mohammed Ali's warning to the kachef Youssouf had not been
disregarded. In the secret vault, the entrance to which had been
confided by Mourad Bey to his wife on his deathbed, Sitta Nefysseh's
treasure now lay in security.
No one in the house knew of this vault; Sitta Nefysseh had confided
it to the kachef Youssouf only, and they two had conveyed all her
valuables to this hiding place.
When all was completed, and the Sitta had retired to her apartments,
Youssouf announced himself, and, upon being admitted, stepped humbly
forward, fell on his knees, and handed her the keys.
She looked at him in surprise. "What does this mean? What do you
"The keys to the vault. This one opens the inner, and the other the
"You will keep them for me, Youssouf," said his mistress, inclining
her beautiful head.
"You confide them to me," said he, his countenance radiant with
delight. "You wish to confide to your slave the keys to your
"Does that surprise you?" asked she, gently. "I know I can safely
confide to the kachef of my deceased husband all that I have and
possess. You will keep the keys; and listen, Youssouf, should I die-
"Die!" he exclaimed, with a cry which he found it impossible to
repress. "Die!--you, Sitta Nefysseh?"
"I am mortal, as we all are, as great Mourad was!" said she,
gravely. "If I should die, you will take these keys to Osman Bey
Bardissi, and tell him that Sitta Nefysseh sends them to him, and
that in the vault here are souvenirs for her friends. You, however,
Youssouf, I make the executor of my last will; you are to distribute
the souvenirs according to a list that I will give you."
She arose and took from a little closet in the wall a small book,
bound with gold and richly studded with diamonds.
"This book contains the names of those to whom I wish to leave a
present at my death; you will act according to the instructions
contained in it, but the book itself you will keep. My initials are
on it, set in splendid diamonds. It was given me by Bonaparte, the
general of the Franks. Keep it, and, when you read my name, think of
"Mistress, I can bear it no longer!" cried he, bursting into tears
and falling on his knees. "No, I can bear it no longer! The thought
of your dying robs me of all self-control. O mistress, be merciful,
and do not speak of your death!"
"We have already dismissed that subject," said she, smiling. "We
must be firm and brave. Youssouf must not weep like a young girl!
Dry your tears, I will not see them!"
Obedient to her command, he arose and brushed the tears from his
eyes. "Mistress, at your bidding my heart is strong again, and your
slave awaits your commands," said he, in a firm voice.
She seemed to be struggling to regain control of herself. Youssouf's
eyes rested on her in a glance of such passionate tenderness that
she felt it without seeing it.
"I have a final commission to give you," said she.
"A command, mistress! You know that your slightest is a command for
me, and would be carried out if I should die in the performance!"
"Die?" said she, with a slight start. "Now you speak of death,
Youssouf. No, you shall not die! No, thoughts of death overtake us
soon enough! Listen: I wish you to mount your horse and ride to
Osman Bey Bardissi's camp."
"Now, mistress! No, do not require this of me! " cried he,
anxiously. "You are aware an unknown friend has warned us, and said
that Sitta should hide her treasure, as danger threatened her. And
now you require Youssouf to leave you, him who promised his master,
Mourad Bey, that he would faithfully stand beside you his life long!
You cannot send me away, you will wait until the danger is past;
then will I go wherever you send me, were it to the ends of the
world! For you, Youssouf will rush into the arms of Death, but he
cannot leave you to face danger alone. No, Sitta Nefysseh, do not
require this of me!"
"I do require it of you. The message I wish to send Osman Bey is
important and secret, and I can entrust it to no one but you. Within
an hour, you will mount your horse, leave the city, and not rest
until you are with Bardissi."
"Impossible, mistress, quite impossible! Only let me remain with you
until the danger is past, then I will fly to Osman Bey, and conjure
him to come with his men to protect Sitta Nefysseh."
"Youssouf, I had always supposed you were devoted and obedient to
me," said she, in tones of displeasure. "You have sworn that you
will be my slave, although you are a free man, and may let your
beard grow. Now when I, for the first time, put your obedience to
the proof, you refuse to do what I require. Is that honoring your
mistress, is that fulfilling your oath? I repeat it, Kachef
Youssouf, you will leave my house, and repair at once to the camp of
Osman Bey Bardissi."
"That is to say, O mistress, you intend to drive me from you; you
wish to proclaim to the world that Kachef Youssouf is a faithless
"Who dare say that?" cried she, her eyes sparkling with anger.
"Do you not suppose all the world will point their fingers at me
when I return? 'When danger threatened, he deserted his mistress,' I
already hear them say; 'he saved himself, and left her to face the
"If any one should dare to speak thus, I should say, it was I who
sent you away. Go, now, Kachef Youssouf. Too many words have already
passed between us; it is time you obeyed my command."
"Well, then, mistress, you command me to go, and I will go. What do
you care, though you inflict profound anguish on a faithful servant,
though his heart break? What do you care, though my whole future be
made miserable? Like a heavenly vision, you float high above all
human anguish and torment; they do not touch your heart. Your heart,
O mistress, is luminous like the diamond, but also cold and hard
like the diamond."
"Youssouf!" cried she, in tones that made his heart leap--"Youssouf,
you accuse me of being hard and cold!"
For a moment a wondrous brilliancy shone in her eyes, then she
suddenly drew back from Youssouf, who stood there, motionless, in a
state of ecstasy. He stood gazing at her, entranced, seeming to hear
and see nothing. Not far from him, her face turned away, Sitta
Nefysseh stood still. He distinctly heard her hurried breathing, and
something like a low sob escape her breast. He listened to it as to
mysterious and wondrously sweet music.
Suddenly, she turned around, and advanced toward him with head erect
and proud bearing. "Kachef Youssouf, you have excited my indignation
by your unmerited reproaches! No one can say that Mourad Bey's widow
has a cold, hard heart. Mourad Bey knew otherwise; he knew that I
loved him; and if I have seemed, since his death, to have a cold,
hard heart, it is only because I have remained true to his memory.
Consider this, and do not dare to reproach me. Now go, and hasten
with my message to Bardissi!"
"I am going, mistress," said he, sadly. "But, when I have executed
your command, then I may return to my mistress with what speed my
horse can bear me, may I not?"
She remained silent, and let her eyelids, with their long, black
lashes, sink down over her beautiful eyes. It seemed to him that a
sigh escaped her breast.
"No," said she, in a low voice.
"No?" shrieked, rather than cried, Youssouf. "I may not return!"
"You may not return, Kachef Youssouf. I have long recognized that it
ill became a young man to pass his days here in ease and quiet,
while his friends, his brothers, are confronting the enemy on the
battlefield. You said it would disgrace Youssouf if he left his
mistress in danger; but it seems to me that the disgrace is much
greater when a youth, born perhaps to become a hero, spends his days
in inglorious ease, reclining on soft cushions. Consider that Mourad
Bey never laid aside his sword. Remember that, when the trumpet
sounded, he was ever the first to the field. He would have
considered him his enemy who should have said to him: 'Remain at
home, and repose on your cushions while your brethren are facing
death for the fatherland!' I think you should endeavor to follow his
example. You must follow his example! Kachef Youssouf, I will tell
you what is written in the letter you are to take to Osman Bey. I
announce to him that I send the truest and bravest of all kachefs,
and I beg him to take you to battle with him. I announce to him that
I give him for the fatherland, and the most faithful friend I have,
and beg him to place you at the starting-point, from which you are
to run your race as a hero."
"Oh, bitterness and anguish!" cried Youssouf, in tones of despair.
"She drives me from her like a miserable dog whom she will not
tolerate on the threshold of her door."
"No, Youssouf," replied Sitta Nefysseh, sadly. "No! His mistress
only points out to Youssouf the road he must pursue in order to
become one day a hero, and the first and foremost of all the
Mameluke beys. There is a higher bliss than domestic happiness, and
that is the pursuit of glory. Let glory be your aim. You shall be
called a hero, and the scha-er shall proclaim your deeds to the
listening people. And this, O Youssouf," she added in lower tones,
"this is my consolation in parting with you--you," she quickly
resumed, as if feeling that there had been something in the tone of
her voice that required an explanation, "you whom I esteem as my
husband's devoted friend! And now go, Youssouf, and let this be my
farewell greeting! Think of me when you go out to battle, think that
your glory is my pride!"
"I am going," said he, in a choking voice. "I am going, and to die,
"To die? No, Youssouf," cried she. "No, not to die."
"I must, for you drive me from you; you send me to confront the
death-dealing bullets. Do not think that it is base fear that drives
me to despair. When going with my master to battle, I have never
known fear. I am going away to die; I shall seek the enemy's bullets
in the hope that they graciously relieve me of my miserable
"Youssouf," cried she, in tones of such pride and dignity that he
started--" Youssouf, I had supposed until now that I was your
"Yes, you were my mistress until this hour; but now you drive me
from you!" cried he in anguish.
"No; wherever you may be you are mine, and must obey me. You are a
free man, and yet I hold you in bonds. In virtue of these bonds I
command you not to seek death, but to seek renown. You are to
return, a Mameluke bey. Thus must he return; thus must Sitta
Nefysseh see him appear on her threshold, and then--And now," she
quickly interrupted herself, "have you heard your mistress's
command? You will not seek death? You swear to me that you will
fight like a true soldier for fatherland and glory, and that you
will not seek death? The brave do not fear death, neither do they
seek it. The despairing seek death, and thereby invoke upon
themselves the curse of Allah for all time. Swear to me that you
will fight like a hero, and yet hold your life sacred. I, Sitta
Nefysseh, your mistress, command you to do so!"
"And I will obey my mistress's command! I swear that I will struggle
against my despair. I swear that I will live, to do your bidding
now, and to return to hear from your lips, perhaps, a kindly word of
approval. You shall be pleased with me. I will fight as beseems your
servant. O Sitta Nefysseh, you are not cruel in sending me away; you
are only wise and thoughtful, not cold and hard of heart, are you?
You view the world with composure and wisdom. You find that Kachef
Youssouf should no longer remain here in ease and inactivity, and
you send him from you for his own sake. This is kind and noble on
your part, and I should thank you for sending me away to perform
deeds of valor, and return a Mameluke bey. This is magnanimous of
you, and it was only my miserable weakness that prevented me from
recognizing it, and sent foolish tears to my eyes."
He covered his face with his hands, and his head fell upon his
breast. Sitta Nefysseh gazed at him intently; he did not see the
expression of anguish that rested on her features. When he removed
his hands from his face, she had averted her gaze, and her
countenance was composed.
"Forgive me, mistress," said he, "I was a fool once more; I thought
of the past, and wept over it. But I am now reconciled, and ready to
go. I will do as you say; I will not seek death, but I will thank
Allah if he allows it to find me. Farewell, mistress!" He fell on
his knees and kissed the hem of her dress. He then stood up and
rushed out of the room without looking at her again.
Sitta Nefysseh looked after him with outstretched arms, and the
flood of tears which she had so long restrained burst from her eyes.
"I love him, O Allah! Thou knowest that I love him! Let him return a
hero covered with glory, and then, O Allah, graciously grant that I
may be able to reward him for all his love, and for all the pain I
have caused him! Let Kachef Youssouf return as Youssouf the Mameluke
bey, and I shall be blessed; as the master of my life will I accept
him, for I love him."
A horse's hoofs ring out against the pavement of the court-yard
without. A cry resounds from her lips, and she sinks down. "O Allah,
watch over him! Let him return! I love him--I love him so dearly!"
An hour had scarcely elapsed since Youssouf's departure when two of
her maids rushed into Sitta Nefysseh's presence with anxious looks.
She lay on the divan, her countenance entirely concealed, to hide
her tear-stained features. She remained still, endeavoring to
recover her composure. The women came nearer.
"Mistress, some one is here who wishes to speak with Sitta
"Well, what is it that alarms you so?" said she, raising her head
slightly, and looking at them. "Who is it that wishes to speak with
"O mistress," murmured one of them, "it is the cadi with four of the
Sitta Nefysseh sprang to her feet.
"What say you? The chief of the police dares to enter my house! What
does he want ?"
"He says he comes at the instance of his highness the viceroy."
"If that is the case," said Sitta Nefysseh, quietly, "let him
enter." One of the women opened the door, and the cadi, the chief of
police, appeared on the threshold; behind him stood four policement
with pistols and daggers in their belts, their hands on their
"Were my women right? " asked Sitta Nefysseh, with dignity. "You
come in the name of his highness the viceroy?"
"Yes," replied the cadi, with a slight bow. "Yes, I come in his
highness's name. The viceroy commands that Mourad Bey's widow
accompany me at once to his presence, to the citadel."
"And with what right?" asked she quietly.
"I know not and care not," said the official, with an air of
indifference; "here is the order." He drew from his pocket a
document, to which large seals were appended, and handed it to her.
Sitta Nefysseh looked at it, and returned it with perfect composure.
"You are right, it is the viceroy's order. I will obey. Order the
carriage to be driven to the door."
She said this in such imperious tones that the cadi, at other times
a proud man, and a high dignitary of the viceroy's court, could not
but obey her, and stepped out and delivered her command to one of
his officers. He then returned to Sitta Nefysseh.
"I have orders to leave a guard in your house," said he.
"Then do so," said she, quietly. "The viceroy is master over us all,
and it seems there is no law here in Cairo but his will. Obey him,
therefore. Leave a guard in my house."
He seemed not to notice the mockery in her words, and bowed in
"No one may enter or leave your house during your absence."
"Why do you say this to me? Say it to those who may desire to leave
it after I have gone, and who may be alarmed. I am not alarmed; my
conscience does not accuse me. My carriage is ready--let us go. I
trust, however, that the viceroy does not require me to appear
before him alone; it is becoming that Mourad's Bey's widow should be
accompanied by her women when she goes out."
"I am not instructed to refuse such a request; yet, there must not
be more of them than your carriage will contain."
"Two of my servants will accompany me," said she. Without once
looking back into the room, or manifesting any fear or anxiety
whatever, she stepped out into the vestibule, and, beckoning to two
of the weeping women who had assembled about her, commanded them to
follow her. "You others need fear nothing," said she with perfect
composure. "The cadi leaves his guards here to protect you, against
whom I know not, but certainly against someone." Taking leave of her
servants with a kindly nod, and drawing her veil more closely about
her, she walked proudly out into the court-yard to the carriage.
Almost ashamed of his errand, the cadi followed and assisted her in
entering the carriage, closing the door after her. The carriage
drove off rapidly, accompanied by the cadi and his officers, while
another body of men remained in charge of the house.
Sitta Nefysseh leaned back against the cushions while the carriage
rolled through the streets, her thoughts far distant from her
"I thank thee, Allah, that he is saved!" she murmured to herself. "I
thank thee! He would have been excited to ungovernable wrath, and he
would have been punished and imprisoned as a rebel. I have saved
him! What have I now to fear? Let the worst befall, provided only
that he be safe!"
The carriage moved slowly up the Muskj Street, through dense crowds
of people. It was market day, and the street was thronged with
people, who complained so loudly of the intruding carriage and
horsemen that Sitta Nefysseh, aroused from her meditations, leaned
forward and drew the window curtains aside. The people, who in their
wrath had not observed that the cadi and his officers constituted
the escort of the carriage, now became silent as they saw the woman
at the window, and peered in with curiosity.
Sitta Nefysseh raised her veil and displayed her countenance to the
multitude. "It is Sitta Nefysseh, Mourad Bey's widow!" resounded in
the street. The cry was repeated until the gaze of all became fixed
on the carriage in astonishment. "What does it mean?"
Buying and selling were no longer thought of. The people followed
the carriage, which moved slowly through the crowded street toward
the viceroy's citadel, in dense masses. It was in vain that the cadi
ordered them to disperse; in vain that the officers threatened them
with drawn swords. They only pressed on in denser masses, increased
by the people who came Rocking from their houses to see Mourad Bey's
widow, who sat tranquilly in the carriage with her two women. Their
destination was at last reached, and the gates of the citadel closed
behind them. The people who had accompanied the carriage remained
without, yelling and shrieking: "Sitta Nefysseh is imprisoned--let
us liberate her!"
Sitta Nefysseh had left her carriage, and was now following the
cadi, who walked in advance. Behind her came the two women, followed
by the officers. Thus the procession moved in profound silence up
the broad stairway and into the grand reception saloon.
"Be kind enough to wait here a moment," said the cadi.
He walked into the neat apartment. Sitta Nefysseh, who had again
covered her face with her veil, stood proudly erect in the midst of
the saloon. The two weeping women stepped nearer to their mistress,
and asked if danger threatened her, and begged to be permitted to
accompany her everywhere.
"Be still!" said Sitta, in low tones. "Shed no tears. These men must
not have the satisfaction of seeing us appear cowardly and weak."
The cadi now returned and stood at the threshold, holding the velvet
"Be kind enough to enter, Sitta Nefysseh."
"Not alone. My women will accompany me."
"No, they are to remain here. You alone are to enter. The women will
await your return here."
Sitta Nefysseh walked proudly into the next apartment. The curtain
fell back behind her. Cousrouf, who lay stretched out on his silken
cushions, smoking his chibouque, looked up at her through the clouds
of smoke that enveloped him as she entered the room. She looked at
him composedly, and remained standing at the door with so proud and
dignified a bearing, such majesty in her whole appearance, that
Cousrouf's insolence could not but succumb. He arose and advanced to
"I salute you, Sitta Nefysseh, widow of Mourad Bey!"
"I do not return your salutation. I have been conducted here from my
house in an insulting manner, and I am now surprised to find that
his highness seems only to have had me brought here in order to
"I did not call you in order to salute you, but for an entirely
different purpose," replied Cousrouf. "Seat yourself on the ottoman
beside me, and let us converse."
"Converse, highness? Friends and confidants sit down to converse
with each other, but unfortunately we are neither," replied she,
composedly, as she seated herself on the ottoman with the dignity of
a princess. Cousrouf remaining standing, Sitta Nefysseh raised her
hand and pointed to the divan. "To the viceroy belongs the seat of
honor. I beg your highness to take that seat."
He bowed slightly, and took the seat assigned him.
"I wished to beg Sitta Nefysseh's permission to seat myself at her
side,to converse with her as a friend. You do not desire it,
however--you wish to see in me the prince only. Let it be so. I am
only the viceroy, and I have summoned you to appear before me."
"Summoned, you call it?" cried she, passionately. "I call it being
dragged here in a disgraceful manner!"
"Compose yourself, Sitta Nefysseh; let us converse calmly. I have
grave reproaches to make."
"Against me?" asked she, in astonishment.
"Yes, serious, grave reproaches! You are of the opinion, are you
not, that every mistress is responsible for the actions of her
"I am, because, if one has bad and faithless servants, he should
discharge them. Yes, it seems to me a master is responsible for his
"And therefore, have I summoned you to this audience. Do you know
what your kachef Youssouf has done?"
Sitta Nefysseh trembled. It was fortunate that her veil concealed
her features, and that Cousrouf could not see the deathly pallor
that overspread her cheeks.
"My kachef?" said she, with forced composure. "Of what is he
"He is accused of attempting to bribe my soldiers, and incite them
to revolt and treason."
"That is not true!" exclaimed she, passionately. "That is a
falsehood, and I tell you so to your face! My words are true. My
kachef has never done such things; he is incapable of inciting any
one to a breach of faith or to treason. He is the truest and best of
"And yet it is true. Your kachef has incited my soldiers to treason.
The viceroy says it is true!" cried Cousrouf. "Youssouf attempted to
corrupt one of my own soldiers, an Armenian, urging him to go over
to Osman Bardissi. When the soldier refused, he promised to give him
the same pay he now receives from me."
"Highness, that is not true, I swear it is not!"
"Here is the proof!" answered Cousrouf, rising to his feet and
taking from the table a paper, which he unfolded. "Here is the
proof! Here it is, plainly written in his own handwriting! Herein
your kachef Youssouf promises my soldier, Sadok Aga, to give him his
whole pay, and even double the amount, if he will undertake to ride
to Bardissi's camp and convey a letter to the bey. Here it is in his
own handwriting, and signed by him."
"Highness, I beg you to let me see the writing," said Nefysseh,
extending her hand to take the paper. "Let me see it; I can read."
Cousrouf did not comply with her request. He folded the paper, and
laid it on the table again.
"It is unnecessary that you should read it. I insist that your
kachef endeavors to corrupt my soldiers and induce them to desert to
Bardissi's camp. This is clearly treason. As you yourself admit that
a mistress is responsible for her servant's actions, I declare and
shall hold you, Sitta Nefysseh, responsible for your servant's
"That you cannot do, highness! Youssouf is no longer my servant, is
no longer in my house. I have discharged him, not because I thought
ill of him, not because I desired to punish him, but because I
esteem him, because I know he was created for something better than
to be only the servant of a woman. I discharged him because his
courage and nobility of soul urged him to draw the sword and go out
to battle. He has gone to Bardissi's camp to serve in the ranks of
"That is to say," cried Cousrouf, in angry tones--"that is to say,
Sitta Nefysseh, Mourad Bey's widow raises soldiers in her house for
the army of our enemy!"
"Could your highness expect Mourad Bey's--the Mameluke chieftain's--
widow to raise soldiers for the enemies of her deceased husband?"
asked she, throwing her head back proudly. "Yet let me remark this:
my expression was badly chosen. Sitta Nefysseh does not occupy
herself with raising soldiers. Youssouf was brought up by my
husband, and has remained in my house these few years since his
death. He had grown weary of the effeminate life he was leading, and
begged to be discharged from my service. I did as he requested. I am
not his mother, not his sister, and not his relative. He is a
freeman, and puts his freedom to the best use. But I tell you that
he is not guilty of the charge you make against him--he never wrote
that paper. And do you know why not, Cousrouf? Because he does not
know how to write. He is a warrior, and only knows how to write
indelible characters on the faces of his enemies with his sword;
and, believe me, I should recognize these characters if they were
inscribed on your face--I should recognize the handwriting of my
kachef; but the characters on that paper are not his."
"Truly, Sitta Nefysseh, your audacity is great!" cried Cousrouf.
"But, it seems to me, yours is far greater; forgive me for saying
so, highness. Man and woman we stand before each other, and you have
publicly branded the woman, who is conscious of no shame, with
"How can you make such a charge against me? What is it that I have
done? You yourself acknowledge that the master is justly responsible
for his servants' actions, and I repeat it: your kachef has
endeavored to draw my soldiers from their allegiance, to corrupt
them. I have accused you of nothing else."
"Yes, you have more than accused me of other crimes!" cried she,
throwing back her veil, her eyes sparkling with indignation. "Look
at me! In me, you have put the woman, put Mourad Bey's widow to
shame. You have caused me to be brought from my house by policemen.
That is to say, you have insulted, in me, womanly virtue and honor!"
"How so?" asked Cousrouf, in astonishment.
"Do you know so little of the customs of our land? You, the Viceroy
of Egypt, do not know that, when women are led through the street by
the police, it is equivalent to branding them as lost to all shame;
that they are delivered over to the police to be punished by being
conducted through the public streets, to the disgrace of their
"You go too far," replied the viceroy. "I did cause you to be
conducted here. I sent to you one of the first dignitaries of my
court, the cadi; I did this to honor you. To be thus conducted by
the cadi through the street is not disgraceful, as in the case of
the women you speak of. In your own carriage you were escorted by
the cadi and his servants, and your good name and honor, which I
respect in common with all the world, cannot have suffered thereby.
Yet your conduct has been culpable, you are responsible for your
kachef's deeds; and through him I accuse you of treason, and you,
Nefysseh, must suffer for your servant's crime."
"Then, take my life, if that will benefit you," said she, quietly.
"I have nothing to give you but that. If you take my life, you will
be accused of murder, and, believe, this accusation will be heard by
all Cairo. I have nothing more to say. Deal with me as you think
"You challenge my enmity, you shall have it! It were wise on your
part to beg me to pardon Youssouf, to withdraw the accusation, and
to declare yourself ready to pay the required sum to my soldiers."
"Where is Mourad Bey's widow to obtain the money? Your men have
remained in my house, let them search for treasure there. Let them
take what they find. Mourad's widow is poor, and your endeavor is
vain. You will find nothing of value in my house; long wars have
made Mourad's widow poor. And, if I had money, I would rather cast
it into the Nile, than to give it to the enemies of my husband!--Now
I have spoken and relieved my heart. Now do with me as you think
proper, Cousrouf. This I will, however, repeat, my kachef Youssouf
did not write the characters on that paper. He is not capable of
corrupting men from their allegiance. Do you desire my life? If so,
take it! But if you venture to do so, prepare yourself to meet all
Cairo in insurrection. Allah is just! You will then see all Cairo,
held by you in fetters until now, rise up and burst its bonds, and
shake its mane in lion-like wrath."
"We shall see if our lion really rises in its wrath, when I, as I am
in duty bound, do justice to those who have done wrong and committed
He arose from his divan, stepped to the door, and called one of his
servants. In answer to his call, a servant hastened into the room.
"Conduct Sitta Nefysseh to the house of Sheik Hesseyni, who lives in
the old citadel; tell him to guard her well, and not to allow any
one to see her."
"Tell him, cadi," said Nefysseh, quietly, "tell him to guard me as
every jailor guards his prisoner; that is the true meaning of the
viceroy's words. Farewell, Cousrouf--I am going to my prison! May
your conscience reproach you as little as mine does me! Farewell!"
She drew her veil over her countenance, and slowly left the
apartment. At the door sat her two women weeping and sobbing. She
commanded them to follow her, and walked on as composedly as if she
were the princess of this palace. She swept down the marble stairway
to her carriage, as if about to take a drive.
"Sitta Nefysseh, it will not be necessary to enter your carriage,"
said the cadi, who had followed her. "We shall only have to pass
through that little side-door to be in the sheik's house."
"Ah, you desire to prevent the people, who are calling so loudly
after me, from seeing me in my degradation, or rather the
degradation of those who tread law and propriety under foot in their
treatment of me."
"Sitta Nefysseh, I know nothing of the charges made against you,"
replied the cadi, gruffly. "I obey the orders of the viceroy; the
rest does not concern me."
"That is certainly the most convenient course," said she,
derisively, and quietly submitting when he took hold of her arm and
led her across the court to the little gate in the wall. The women
followed her. Their tears no longer flowed, and they seemed to
consider themselves happy in being at least allowed to accompany
Dense masses of people still stood without. They called loudly for
Sitta Nefysseh, swearing by Allah that they would not leave until
she should be released. But what can the poor, defenceless people do
when confronted by armed soldiers, ready to fire destructive volleys
among them? What can they do but sullenly retire under such
circumstances? This they now did. About the citadel quiet now
reigned, but the streets below were still thronged with dense
crowds, from out whose midst the cries continually resounded: "Sitta
Nefysseh has been arrested! She has been shamefully conducted
through the streets to the citadel by the police! She has been
publicly insulted! She, the noblest of women, is accused of a great
When night came, the excitement and fury of the populace had not yet
subsided. Early on the morning of the following day, dense masses of
people surged to the house where Hesseyni, the chief sheik of the
city, resided, and demanded with loud clamors that he should
liberate Sitta Nefysseh.
The sheik had given serious consideration to this difficult and
embarrassing case, and, before the people forced an entrance, had
already determined to comply with their demands.
In solemn procession, their green turbans on their heads, and
enveloped in their long flowing caftans, with their costly ermine
collars, the entire body of sheiks repaired on foot to the palace.
With grave and solemn bearing, these representatives of public
justice demanded that they should be conducted to the viceroy's