A Modern Telemachus
by Charlotte M. Yonge
The idea of this tale was taken from The Mariners' Chronicle,
compiled by a person named Scott early in the last century—a curious
book of narratives of maritime adventures, with exceedingly quaint
illustrations. Nothing has ever shown me more plainly that truth is
stranger than fiction, for all that is most improbable here is the
The Comte de Bourke was really an Irish Jacobite, naturalised in
France, and married to the daughter of the Marquis de Varennes, as
well as in high favour with the Marshal Duke of Berwick.
In 1719, just when the ambition of Elizabeth Farnese, the second
wife of Philip V. of Spain, had involved that country in a war with
England, France, and Austria, the Count was transferred from the
Spanish Embassy to that of Sweden, and sent for his wife and two elder
children to join him at a Spanish port.
This arrangement was so strange that I can only account for it by
supposing that as this was the date of a feeble Spanish attempt on
behalf of the Jacobites in Scotland, Comte de Bourke may not have
ventured by the direct route. Or it may not have been etiquette for
him to re-enter France when appointed ambassador. At any rate, the
poor Countess did take this route to the South, and I am inclined to
think the narrative must be correct, as all the side-lights I have
been able to gain perfectly agree with it, often in an unexpected
The suite and the baggage were just as related in the story—the
only liberty I have taken being the bestowal of names. 'M. Arture'
was really of the party, but I have made him Scotch instead of Irish,
and I have no knowledge that the lackey was not French. The
imbecility of the Abbe is merely a deduction from his helplessness,
but of course this may have been caused by illness.
The meeting with M. de Varennes at Avignon, Berwick's offer of an
escort, and the Countess's dread of the Pyrenees, are all facts, as
well as her embarkation in the Genoese tartane bound for Barcelona,
and its capture by the Algerine corsair commanded by a Dutch renegade,
who treated her well, and to whom she gave her watch.
Algerine history confirms what is said of his treatment. Louis
XIV. had bombarded the pirate city, and compelled the Dey to receive a
consul and to liberate French prisoners and French property; but the
lady having been taken in an Italian ship, the Dutchman was afraid to
set her ashore without first taking her to Algiers, lest he should
fall under suspicion. He would not venture on taking so many women on
board his own vessel, being evidently afraid of his crew of more than
two hundred Turks and Moors, but sent seven men on board the prize and
took it in tow.
Curiously enough, history mentions the very tempest which drove the
tartane apart from her captor, for it also shattered the French
transports and interfered with Berwick's Spanish campaign.
The circumstances of the wreck have been closely followed. 'M.
Arture' actually saved Mademoiselle de Bourke, and placed her in the
arms of the maitre d'hotel, who had reached a rock, together with the
Abbe, the lackey, and one out of the four maids. The other three were
all in the cabin with their mistress and her son, and shared their
The real 'Arture' tried to swim to the shore, but never was seen
again, so that his adventures with the little boy are wholly
imaginary. But the little girl's conduct is perfectly true. When in
the steward's arms she declared that the savages might take her life,
but never should make her deny her faith.
The account of these captors was a great difficulty, till in the
old Universal History I found a description of Algeria which tallied
wonderfully with the narrative. It was taken from a survey of the
coast made a few years later by English officials.
The tribe inhabiting Mounts Araz and Couco, and bordering on
Djigheli Bay, were really wild Arabs, claiming high descent, but very
loose Mohammedans, and savage in their habits. Their name of
Cabeleyzes is said—with what truth I know not—to mean 'revolted,'
and they held themselves independent of the Dey. They were in the
habit of murdering or enslaving all shipwrecked travellers, except
subjects of Algiers, whom they released with nothing but their lives.
All this perfectly explains the sufferings of Mademoiselle de
Bourke. The history of the plundering, the threats, the savage
treatment of the corpses, the wild dogs, the councils of the tribe,
the separation of the captives, and the child's heroism, is all
literally true—the expedient of Victorine's defence alone being an
invention. It is also true that the little girl and the maitre
d'hotel wrote four letters, and sent them by different chances to
Algiers, but only the last ever arrived, and it created a great
M. Dessault is a real personage, and the kindness of the Dey and of
the Moors was exactly as related, also the expedient of sending the
Marabout of Bugia to negotiate.
Mr. Thomas Thompson was really the English Consul at the time, but
his share in the matter is imaginary, as it depends on Arthur's
The account of the Marabout system comes from the Universal
History; but the arrival, the negotiations, and the desire of the
sheyk to detain the young French lady for a wife to his son, are from
the narrative. He really did claim to be an equal match for her, were
she daughter of the King of France, since he was King of the
The welcome at Algiers and the Te Deum in the Consul's chapel also
are related in the book that serves me for authority. It adds that
Mademoiselle de Bourke finally married a Marquis de B—, and lived
much respected in Provence, dying shortly before the Revolution.
I will only mention further that a rescued Abyssinian slave named
Fareek (happily not tongueless) was well known to me many years ago in
the household of the late Warden Barter of Winchester College.
Since writing the above I have by the kindness of friends been
enabled to discover Mr. Scott's authority, namely, a book entitled
Voyage pour la Redemption des captifs aux Royaumes d'Alger et de
Tunis, fait en 1720 par les P.P. Francois Comelin, Philemon de la
Motte, et Joseph Bernard, de l'Ordre de la Sainte Trinite, dit
Mathurine. This Order was established by Jean Matha for the ransom
and rescue of prisoners in the hands of the Moors. A translation of
the adventures of the Comtesse de Bourke and her daughter was
published in the Catholic World, New York, July 1881. It exactly
agrees with the narration in The Mariners' Chronicle except that, in
the true spirit of the eighteenth century, Mr. Scott thought fit to
suppress that these ecclesiastics were at Algiers at the time of the
arrival of Mademoiselle de Bourke's letter, that they interested
themselves actively on her behalf, and that they wrote the narrative
from the lips of the maitre d'hotel (who indeed may clearly be traced
throughout). It seems also that the gold cups were chalices, and that
a complete set of altar equipments fell a prey to the Cabeleyzes,
whose name the good fathers endeavour to connect with Cabale—with
about as much reason as if we endeavoured to derive that word from the
ministry of Charles II.
Had I known in time of the assistance of these benevolent brethren
I would certainly have introduced them with all due honour, but, like
the Abbe Vertot, I have to say, Mon histoire est ecrite, and what is
worse- -printed. Moreover, they do not seem to have gone on the
mission with the Marabout from Bugia, so that their presence really
only accounts for the Te Deum with which the redeemed captives were
It does not seem quite certain whether M. Dessault was Consul or
Envoy; I incline to think the latter. The translation in the Catholic
World speaks of Sir Arthur, but Mr. Scott's 'M. Arture' is much more
vraisemblable. He probably had either a surname to be concealed or
else unpronounceable to French lips. Scott must have had some further
information of the after history of Mademoiselle de Bourke since he
mentions her marriage, which could hardly have taken place when Pere
Comelin's book was published in 1720.
C. M. YONGE.
CHAPTER I—COMPANIONS OF THE VOYAGE
'Make mention thereto
Touching my much loved father's safe return,
If of his whereabouts I may best hear.'
'Oh! brother, I wish they had named you Telemaque, and then it
would have been all right!'
'Why so, sister? Why should I be called by so ugly a name? I like
Ulysses much better; and it is also the name of my papa.'
'That is the very thing. His name is Ulysses, and we are going to
seek for him.'
'Oh! I hope that cruel old Mentor is not coming to tumble us down
over a great rook, like Telemaque in the picture.'
'You mean Pere le Brun?'
'Yes; you know he always says he is our Mentor. And I wish he
would change into a goddess with a helmet and a shield, with an ugly
face, and go off in a cloud. Do you think he will, Estelle?'
'Do not be so silly, Ulick; there are no goddesses now.'
'I heard M. de la Mede tell that pretty lady with the diamond
butterfly that she was his goddess; so there are!'
'You do not understand, brother. That was only flattery and
compliment. Goddesses were only in the Greek mythology, and were all
over long ago!'
'But are we really going to see our papa?'
'Oh yes, mamma told me so. He is made Ambassador to Sweden, you
'Is that greater than Envoy to Spain?'
'Very, very much greater. They call mamma Madame l'Ambassadrice;
and she is having three complete new dresses made. See, there are la
bonne and Laurent talking. It is English, and if we go near with our
cups and balls we shall hear all about it. Laurent always knows,
because my uncle tells him.'
'You must call him La Juenesse now he is made mamma's lackey. Is
he not beautiful in his new livery?'
'Be still now, brother; I want to hear what they are saying.'
This may sound somewhat sly, but French children, before Rousseau
had made them the fashion, were kept in the background, and were
reduced to picking up intelligence as best they could without any
sense of its being dishonourable to do so; and, indeed, it was more
neglect than desire of concealment that left their uninformed.
This was in 1719, four years after the accession of Louis XV., a
puny infant, to the French throne, and in the midst of the Regency of
the Duke of Orleans. The scene was a broad walk in the Tuileries
gardens, beneath a closely-clipped wall of greenery, along which were
disposed alternately busts upon pedestals, and stone vases of flowers,
while beyond lay formal beds of flowers, the gravel walks between
radiating from a fountain, at present quiescent, for it was only ten
o'clock in the forenoon, and the gardens were chiefly frequented at
that hour by children and their attendants, who, like Estelle and
Ulysse de Bourke, were taking an early walk on their way home from
They were a miniature lady and gentleman of the period in costume,
with the single exception that, in consideration of their being only
nine and seven years old, their hair was free from powder. Estelle's
light, almost flaxen locks were brushed back from her forehead, and
tied behind with a rose-coloured ribbon, but uncovered, except by a
tiny lace cap on the crown of her head; Ulick's darker hair was
carefully arranged in great curls on his back and shoulders, as like a
full- bottomed wig as nature would permit, and over it he wore a
little cocked hat edged with gold lace. He had a rich laced cravat, a
double- breasted waistcoat of pale blue satin, and breeches to match,
a brown velvet coat with blue embroidery on the pockets, collar, and
skirts, silk stockings to match, as well as the knot of the tiny
scabbard of the semblance of a sword at his side, shoes with silver
buckles, and altogether he might have been a full-grown Comte or
Vicomte seen through a diminishing glass. His sister was in a
full-hooped dress, with tight long waist, and sleeves reaching to her
elbows, the under skirt a pale pink, the upper a deeper rose colour;
but stiff as was the attire, she had managed to give it a slight
general air of disarrangement, to get her cap a little on one side, a
stray curl loose on her forehead, to tear a bit of the dangling lace
on her arms, and to splash her robe with a puddle. He was in air,
feature, and complexion a perfect little dark Frenchman. The contour
of her face, still more its rosy glow, were more in accordance with
her surname, and so especially were the large deep blue eyes with the
long dark lashes and pencilled brows. And there was a lively restless
air about her full of intelligence, as she manoeuvred her brother
towards a stone seat, guarded by a couple of cupids reining in
sleepy-looking lions in stone, where, under the shade of a lime-tree,
her little petticoated brother of two years old was asleep, cradled in
the lap of a large, portly, handsome woman, in a dark dress, a white
cap and apron, and dark crimson cloak, loosely put back, as it was an
August day. Native costumes were then, as now, always worn by French
nurses; but this was not the garb of any province of the kingdom, and
was as Irish as the brogue in which she was conversing with the tall
fine young man who stood at ease beside her. He was in a magnificent
green and gold livery suit, his hair powdered, and fastened in a
queue, the whiteness contrasting with the dark brows, and the eyes and
complexion of that fine Irish type that it is the fashion to call
Milesian. He looked proud of his dress, which was viewed in those
days as eminently becoming, and did in fact display his well-made
figure and limbs to great advantage; but he looked anxiously about,
and his first inquiry on coming on the scene in attendance upon the
little boy had been -
'The top of the morning to ye, mother! And where is Victorine?'
'Arrah, and what would ye want with Victorine?' demanded the bonne.
'Is not the old mother enough for one while, to feast her eyes on her
an' Lanty Callaghan, now he has shed the marmiton's slough, and come
out in old Ireland's colours, like a butterfly from a palmer? La
Jeunesse, instead of Laurent here, and Laurent there.'
La Pierre and La Jeunesse were the stereotyped names of all pairs
of lackeys in French noble houses, and the title was a mark of
promotion; but Lanty winced and said, 'Have done with that, mother.
You know that never the pot nor the kettle has blacked my fingers
since Master Phelim went to the good fathers' school with me to carry
his books and insinse him with the larning. 'Tis all one, as his own
body-servant that I have been, as was fitting for his own
foster-brother, till now, when not one of the servants, barring myself
and Maitre Hebert, the steward, will follow Madame la Comtesse beyond
the four walls of Paris. "Will you desert us too, Laurent?" says the
lady. "And is it me you mane, Madame," says I, "Sorrah a Callaghan
ever deserted a Burke!" "Then," says she, "if you will go with us to
Sweden, you shall have two lackey's suits, and a couple of louis d'or
to cross your pocket with by the year, forbye the fee and bounty of
all the visitors to M. le Comte." "Is it M. l'Abbe goes with Madame?"
says I. "And why not," says she. "Then," says I, "'tis myself that
is mightily obliged to your ladyship, and am ready to put on her
colours and do all in reason in her service, so as I am free to attend
to Master Phelim, that is M. l'Abbe, whenever he needs me, that am in
duty bound as his own foster- brother." "Ah, Laurent," says she,
"'tis you that are the faithful domestic. We shall all stand in need
of such good offices as we can do to one another, for we shall have a
long and troublesome, if not dangerous journey, both before and after
we have met M. le Comte."'
Estelle here nodded her head with a certain satisfaction, while the
nurse replied -
'And what other answer could the son of your father make—Heavens
be his bed—that was shot through the head by the masther's side in
the weary wars in Spain? and whom could ye be bound to serve barring
Master Phelim, that's lain in the same cradle with yees—'
'Is not Victorine here, mother?' still restlessly demanded Lanty.
'Never you heed Victorine,' replied she. 'Sure she may have a
little arrand of her own, and ye might have a word for the old mother
that never parted with you before.'
'You not going, mother!' he exclaimed.
''Tis my heart that will go with you and Masther Phelim, my jewel;
but Madame la Comtesse will have it that this weeny little darlint'—
caressing the child in her lap—'could never bear the cold of that
bare and dissolute place in the north you are bound for, and old
Madame la Marquise, her mother, would be mad entirely if all the
children left her; but our own lady can't quit the little one without
leaving his own nurse Honor with him!'
'That's news to me intirely, mother,' said Lanty; 'bad luck to it!'
Honor laughed that half-proud, half-sad laugh of mothers when their
sons outgrow them. 'Fine talking! Much he cares for the old mother
if he can see the young girl go with him.'
For Lanty's eyes had brightened at sight of a slight little figure,
trim to the last degree, with a jaunty little cap on her dark hair,
gay trimmings to the black apron, dainty shoes and stockings that came
tripping down the path. His tongue instantly changed to French from
what he called English, as in pathetic insinuating modulations he
demanded how she could be making him weary his very heart out.
'Who bade you?' she retorted. 'I never asked you to waste your
'And will ye not give me a glance of the eyes that have made a
cinder of my poor heart, when I am going away into the desolate north,
among the bears and the savages and the heretics?'
'There will be plenty of eyes there to look at your fine green and
gold, for the sake of the Paris cut; though a great lumbering fellow
like you does not know how to show it off!'
'And if I bring back a heretic bru to break the heart of the
mother, will it not be all the fault of the cruelty of Mademoiselle
Here Estelle, unable to withstand Lanty's piteous intonations,
broke in, 'Never mind, Laurent, Victorine goes with us. She went to
be measured for a new pair of slices on purpose!'
'Ah! I thought I should disembarrass myself of a great troublesome
'No!' retorted the boy, 'you knew Laurent was going, for Maitre
Hebert had just come in to say he must have a lackey's suit!'
'Yes,' said Estelle, 'that was when you took me in your arms and
kissed me, and said you would follow Madame la Comtesse to the end of
The old nurse laughed heartily, but Victorine cried out, 'Does
Mademoiselle think I am going to follow naughty little girls who
invent follies? It is still free to me to change my mind. Poor Simon
Claquette is gnawing his heart out, and he is to be left concierge!'
The clock at the palace chimed eleven, Estelle took her brother's
hand, Honor rose with little Jacques in her arms, Victorine paced
beside her, and Lanty as La Jeunesse followed, puffing out his breast,
and wielding his cane, as they all went home to dejeuner.
Twenty-nine years before the opening of this narrative, just after
the battle of Boyne Water had ruined the hopes of the Stewarts in
Ireland, Sir Ulick Burke had attended James II. in his flight from
Waterford; and his wife had followed him, attended by her two faithful
servants, Patrick Callaghan, and his wife Honor, carrying her
mistress's child on her bosom, and her own on her back.
Sir Ulick, or Le Chevalier Bourke, as the French called him, had no
scruple in taking service in the armies of Louis XIV. Callaghan
followed him everywhere, while Honor remained a devoted attendant on
her lady, doubly bound to her by exile and sorrow.
Little Ulick Burke's foster-sister died, perhaps because she had
always been made second to him through all the hardships and exposure
of the journey. Other babes of both lady and nurse had succumbed to
the mortality which beset the children of that generation, and the
only survivors besides the eldest Burke and one daughter were the two
youngest of each mother, and they had arrived so nearly at the same
time that Honor Callaghan could again be foster-mother to Phelim
Burke, a sickly child, reared with great difficulty.
The family were becoming almost French. Sir Ulick was an intimate
friend of one of the noblest men of the day, James Fitz-James, Marshal
Duke of Berwick, who united military talent, almost equal to that of
his uncle of Marlborough, to an unswerving honour and integrity very
rare in those evil times. Under him, Sir Ulick fought in the
campaigns that finally established the House of Bourbon upon the
throne of Spain, and the younger Ulick or Ulysse, as his name had been
classicalised and Frenchified, was making his first campaign as a mere
boy at the time of the battle of Almanza, that solitary British
defeat, for which our national consolation is that the French were
commanded by an Englishman, the Duke of Berwick, and the English by a
Frenchman, the Huguenot Rubigne, Earl of Galway. The first English
charge was, however, fatal to the Chevalier Bourke, who fell mortally
wounded, and in the endeavour to carry him off the field the faithful
Callaghan likewise fell. Sir Ulick lived long enough to be visited by
the Duke, and to commend his children to his friend's protection.
Berwick was held to be dry and stiff, but he was a faithful friend,
and well redeemed his promise. The eldest son, young as he was,
obtained as wife the daughter of the Marquis de Varennes, and soon
distinguished himself both in war and policy, so as to receive the
title of Comte de Bourke.
The French Church was called on to provide for the other two
children. The daughter, Alice, became a nun in one of the Parisian
convents, with promises of promotion. The younger son, Phelim, was
weakly in health, and of intellect feeble, if not deficient, and was
almost dependent on the devoted care and tenderness of his
foster-brother, Laurence Callaghan. Nobody was startled when
Berwick's interest procured for the dull boy of ten years old the
Abbey of St. Eudoce in Champagne. To be sure the responsibilities
were not great, for the Abbey had been burnt down a century and a half
ago by the Huguenots, and there had never been any monks in it since,
so the only effect was that little Phelim Burke went by the imposing
title of Monsieur l'Abbe de St. Eudoce, and his family enjoyed as much
of the revenues of the estates of the Abbey as the Intendant thought
proper to transmit to them. He was, to a certain degree,
ecclesiastically educated, having just memory enough to retain for
recitation the tasks that Lanty helped him to learn, and he could copy
the themes or translations made for him by his faithful companion.
Neither boy had the least notion of unfairness or deception in this
arrangement: it was only the natural service of the one to the other,
and if it were perceived in the Fathers of the Seminary, whither Lanty
daily conducted the young Abbot, they winked at it. Nor, though the
quick-witted Lanty thus acquired a considerable amount of learning, no
idea occurred to him of availing himself of it for his own advantage.
It sat outside him, as it were, for 'Masther Phelim's' use; and he no
more thought of applying it to his own elevation than he did of
wearing the soutane he brushed for his young master.
The Abbe was now five-and-twenty, had received the tonsure, and had
been admitted to minor Orders, but there was no necessity for him to
proceed any farther unless higher promotion should be accorded to him
in recompense of his brother's services. He was a gentle, amiable
being, not at all fit to take care of himself; and since the death of
his mother, he had been the charge of his brother and sister-in-law,
or perhaps more correctly speaking, of the Dowager Marquise de
Varennes, for all the branches of the family lived together in the
Hotel de Varennes at Paris, or its chateau in the country, and the
fine old lady ruled over all, her son and son-in-law being often
absent, as was the case at present.
A fresh European war had been provoked by the ambition of the
second wife of Philip V. of Spain, the Prince for whose cause Berwick
had fought. This Queen, Elizabeth Farnese, wanted rank and dominion
for her own son; moreover, Philip looked with longing eyes at his
native kingdom of France, all claim to which he had resigned when
Spain was bequeathed to him; but now that only a sickly child, Louis
XV., stood between him and the succession in right of blood, he felt
his rights superior to those of the Duke of Orleans. Thus Spain was
induced to become hostile to France, and to commence the war known as
that of the Quadruple Alliance.
While there was still hope of accommodation, the Comte de Bourke
had been sent as a special envoy to Madrid, and there continued even
after the war had broken out, and the Duke of Berwick, resigning all
the estates he had received from the gratitude of Philip V., had led
an army across the frontier.
The Count had, however, just been appointed Ambassador to Sweden,
and was anxious to be joined by his family on the way thither.
The tidings had created great commotion. Madame de Varennes looked
on Sweden as an Ultima Thule of frost and snow, but knew that a lady's
presence was essential to the display required of an ambassador. She
strove, however, to have the children left with her; but her daughter
declared that she could not part with Estelle, who was already a
companion and friend, and that Ulysse must be with his father, who
longed for his eldest son, so that only little Jacques, a delicate
child, was to be left to console his grandmother.
CHAPTER II—A JACOBITE WAIF
'Sac now he's o'er the floods sae gray,
And Lord Maxwell has ta'en his good-night.'
LORD MAXWELL'S Good-night.
Madame La Comtesse de Bourke was by no means a helpless fine lady.
She had several times accompanied her husband on his expeditions, and
had only not gone with him to Madrid because he did not expect to be
long absent, and she sorely rued the separation.
She was very busy in her own room, superintending the packing, and
assisting in it, when her own clever fingers were more effective than
those of her maids. She was in her robe de chambre, a dark blue
wrapper, embroidered with white, and put on more neatly than was
always the case with French ladies in deshabille. The hoop, long
stiff stays, rich brocade robe, and fabric of powdered hair were
equally unsuitable to ease or exertion, and consequently were seldom
assumed till late in the day, when the toilette was often made in
So Madame de Bourke's hair was simply rolled out of her way, and
she appeared in her true colours, as a little brisk, bonny woman, with
no actual beauty, but very expressive light gray eyes, furnished with
intensely long black lashes, and a sweet, mobile, lively countenance.
Estelle was trying to amuse little Jacques, and prevent him from
trotting between the boxes, putting all sorts of undesirable goods
into them; and Ulysse had collected his toys, and was pleading
earnestly that a headless wooden horse and a kite, twice as tall as
himself, of Lanty's manufacture, might go with them.
He was told that another cerf-volant should be made for him at the
journey's end; but was only partially consoled, and his mother was
fain to compound for a box of woolly lambs. Estelle winked away a
tear when her doll was rejected, a wooden, highly painted lady,
bedizened in brocade, and so dear to her soul that it was hard to be
told that she was too old for such toys, and that the Swedes would be
shocked to see the Ambassador's daughter embracing a doll. She had,
however, to preserve her character of a reasonable child, and tried to
derive consolation from the permission to bestow 'Mademoiselle' upon
the concierge's little sick daughter, who would be sure to cherish her
'But, oh mamma, I pray you to let me take my book!'
'Assuredly, my child. Let us see! What? Telemaque? Not "Prince
Percinet and Princess Gracieuse?"'
'I am tired of them, mamma.'
'Nor Madame d'Aulnoy's Fairy Tales?'
'Oh no, thank you, mamma; I love nothing so well as Telemaque.'
'Thou art a droll child!' said her mother.
'Ah, but we are going to be like Telemaque.'
'Heaven forfend!' said the poor lady.
'Yes, dear mamma, I am glad you are going with us instead of
staying at home to weave and unweave webs. If Penelope had been like
you, she would have gone!'
'Take care, is not Jacques acting Penelope?' said Madame de Bourke,
unable to help smiling at her little daughter's glib mythology, while
going to the rescue of the embroidery silks, in which her youngest son
was entangling himself.
At that moment there was a knock at the door, and a message was
brought that the Countess of Nithsdale begged the favour of a few
minutes' conversation in private with Madame. The Scottish title
fared better on the lips of La Jeunesse than it would have done on
those of his predecessor. There was considerable intimacy among all
the Jacobite exiles in and about Paris; and Winifred, Countess of
Nithsdale, though living a very quiet and secluded life, was held in
high estimation among all who recollected the act of wifely heroism by
which she had rescued her husband from the block.
Madame de Bourke bade the maids carry off the little Jacques, and
Ulysse followed; but Estelle, who had often listened with rapt
attention to the story of the escape, and longed to feast her eyes on
the heroine, remained in her corner, usefully employed in
disentangling the embroilment of silks, and with the illustrations to
her beloved Telemaque as a resource in case the conversation should be
tedious. Children who have hundreds of picture-books to rustle through
can little guess how their predecessors could once dream over one.
Estelle made her low reverence unnoticed, and watched with eager
eyes as the slight figure entered, clad in the stately costume that
was regarded as proper respect to her hostess; but the long loose
sacque of blue silk was faded, the feuille-morte velvet petticoat
frayed, the lace on the neck and sleeves washed and mended; there were
no jewels on the sleeves, though the long gloves fitted exquisitely,
no gems in the buckles of the high-heeled shoes, and the only ornament
in the carefully rolled and powdered hair, a white rose. Her face was
thin and worn, with pleasant brown eyes. Estelle could not think her
as beautiful as Calypso inconsolable for Ulysses, or Antiope receiving
the boar's a head. 'I know she is better than either,' thought the
little maid; 'but I wish she was more like Minerva.'
The Countesses met with the lowest of curtseys, and apologies on
the one side for intrusion, on the other for deshabille, so they
concluded with an embrace really affectionate, though consideration
for powder made it necessarily somewhat theatrical in appearance.
These were the stiffest of days, just before formality had become
unbearable, and the reaction of simplicity had set in; and Estelle had
undone two desperate knots in the green and yellow silks before the
preliminary compliments were over, and Lady Nithsdale arrived at the
'Madame is about to rejoin Monsieur son Mari.'
'I am about to have that happiness.'
'That is the reason I have been bold enough to derange her.'
'Do not mention it. It is always a delight to see Madame la
'Ah! what will Madame say when she hears that it is to ask a great
favour of her.'
'Madame may reckon on me for whatever she would command.'
'If you can grant it—oh! Madame,' cried the Scottish Countess,
beginning to drop her formality in her eagerness, 'we shall be for
ever beholden to you, and you will make a wounded heart to sing,
besides perhaps saving a noble young spirit.'
'Madame makes me impatient to hear what she would have of me,' said
the French Countess, becoming a little on her guard, as the wife of a
diplomatist, recollecting, too, that peace with George I. might mean
war with the Jacobites.
'I know not whether a young kinsman of my Lord's has ever been
presented to Madame. His name is Arthur Maxwell Hope; but we call him
usually by his Christian name.'
'A tall, dark, handsome youth, almost like a Spaniard, or a picture
by Vandyke? It seems to me that I have seen him with M. le Comte.'
(Madame de Bourke could not venture on such a word as Nithsdale.)
'Madame is right. The mother of the boy is a Maxwell, a cousin not
far removed from my Lord, but he could not hinder her from being given
in marriage as second wife to Sir David Hope, already an old man. He
was good to her, but when he died, the sons by the first wife were
harsh and unkind to her and to her son, of whom they had always been
jealous. The eldest was a creature of my Lord Stair, and altogether a
Whig; indeed, he now holds an office at the Court of the Elector of
Hanover, and has been created one of HIS peers. (The scorn with which
the gentle Winifred uttered those words was worth seeing, and the
other noble lady gave a little derisive laugh.) 'These half-brothers
declared that Lady Hope was nurturing the young Arthur in Toryism and
disaffection, and they made it a plea for separating him from her, and
sending him to an old minister, who kept a school, and who was very
severe and even cruel to the poor boy. But I am wearying Madame.'
'Oh no, I listen with the deepest interest.'
'Finally, when the King was expected in Scotland, and men's minds
were full of anger and bitterness, as well as hope and spirit, the
boy—he was then only fourteen years of age—boasted of his
grandfather's having fought at Killiecrankie, and used language which
the tutor pronounced treasonable. He was punished and confined to his
room; but in the night he made his escape and joined the royal army.
My husband was grieved to see him, told him he had no right to
political opinions, and tried to send him home in time to make his
peace before all was lost. Alas! no. The little fellow did, indeed,
pass out safely from Preston, but only to join my Lord Mar. He was
among the gentlemen who embarked at Banff; and when my Lord, by
Heaven's mercy, had escaped from the Tower of London, and we arrived
at Paris, almost the first person we saw was little Arthur, whom we
thought to have been safe at home. We have kept him with us, and I
contrived to let his mother know that he is living, for she had
mourned him as among the slain.'
'You may well pity her, Madame. She writes to me that if Arthur
had returned at once from Preston, as my Lord advised, all would have
been passed over as a schoolboy frolic; and, indeed, he has never been
attainted; but there is nothing that his eldest brother, Lord Burnside
as they call him, dreads so much as that it should be known that one
of his family was engaged in the campaign, or that he is keeping such
ill company as we are. Therefore, at her request, we have never
called him Hope, but let him go by our name of Maxwell, which is his
by baptism; and now she tells me that if he could make his way to
Scotland, not as if coming from Paris or Bar-le-Duc, but merely as if
travelling on the Continent, his brother would consent to his return.'
'Would she be willing that he should live under the usurper?'
'Madame, to tell you the truth,' said Lady Nithsdale, 'the Lady
Hope is not one to heed the question of usurpers, so long as her son
is safe and a good lad. Nay, for my part, we all lived peaceably and
happily enough under Queen Anne; and by all I hear, so they still do
at home under the Elector of Hanover.'
'The Regent has acknowledged him,' put in the French lady.
'Well,' said the poor exile, 'I know my Lord felt that it was his
duty to obey the summons of his lawful sovereign, and that, as he said
when he took up arms, one can only do one's duty and take the
consequences; but oh! when I look at the misery and desolation that
has come of it, when I think of the wives not so happy as I am, when I
see my dear Lord wearing out his life in banishment, and think of our
dear home and our poor people, I am tempted to wonder whether it were
indeed a duty, or whether there were any right to call on brave men
without a more steadfast purpose not to abandon them!'
'It would have been very different if the Duke of Berwick had led
the way,' observed Madame de Bourke. 'Then my husband would have
gone, but, being French subjects, honour stayed both him and the Duke
as long as the Regent made no move.' The good lady, of course,
thought that the Marshal Duke and her own Count must secure victory;
but Lady Nithsdale was intent on her own branch of the subject, and
did not pursue 'what might have been.'
'After all,' she said, 'poor Arthur, at fourteen, could have no
true political convictions. He merely fled because he was harshly
treated, heard his grandfather branded as a traitor, and had an
enthusiasm for my husband, who had been kind to him. It was a mere
boy's escapade, and if he had returned home when my Lord bade him, it
would only have been remembered as such. He knows it now, and I
frankly tell you, Madame, that what he has seen of our exiled court
has not increased his ardour in the cause.'
'Alas, no,' said Madame de Bourke. 'If the Chevalier de St. George
were other than he is, it would be easier to act in his behalf.'
'And you agree with me, Madame,' continued the visitor, 'that
nothing can be worse or more hopeless for a youth than the life to
which we are constrained here, with our whole shadow of hope in
intrigue; and for our men, no occupation worthy of their sex. We
women are not so ill off, with our children and domestic affairs; but
it breaks my heart to see brave gentlemen's lives thus wasted. We
have done our best for Arthur. He has studied with one of our good
clergy, and my Lord himself has taught him to fence; but we cannot
treat him any longer as a boy, and I know not what is to be his
future, unless we can return him to his own country.'
'Our army,' suggested Madame de Bourke.
'Ah! but he is Protestant.'
'A heretic!' exclaimed the lady, drawing herself up. 'But—'
'Oh, do not refuse me on that account. He is a good lad, and has
lived enough among Catholics to keep his opinions in the background.
But you understand that it is another reason for wishing to convey
him, if not to Scotland, to some land like Sweden or Prussia, where
his faith would not be a bar to his promotion.'
'What is it you would have me do?' said Madame de Bourke, more
'If Madame would permit him to be included in her passport, as
about to join the Ambassador's suite, and thus conduct him to Sweden;
Lady Hope would find means to communicate with him from thence, the
poor young man would be saved from a ruined career, and the heart of
the widow and mother would bless you for ever.
Madame de Bourke was touched, but she was a prudent woman, and
paused to ask whether the youth had shown any tendency to run into
temptation, from which Lady Nithsdale wished to remove him.
'Oh no,' she answered; 'he was a perfectly good docile lad, though
high-spirited, submissive to the Earl, and a kind playfellow to her
little girls; it was his very excellence that made it so unfortunate
that he should thus be stranded in early youth in consequence of one
The Countess began to yield. She thought he might go as secretary
to her Lord, and she owned that if he was a brave young man, he would
be an addition to her little escort, which only numbered two men
besides her brother-in-law, the Abbe, who was of almost as little
account as his young nephew. 'But I should warn you, Madame,' added
Madame de Bourke, 'that it may be a very dangerous journey. I own to
you, though I would not tell my poor mother, that my heart fails me
when I think of it, and were it not for the express commands of their
father, I would not risk my poor children on it.'
'I do not think you will find Sweden otherwise than a cheerful and
pleasant abode,' said Lady Nithsdale.
'Ah! if we were only in Sweden, or with my husband, all would be
well!' replied the other lady; 'but we have to pass through the
mountains, and the Catalans are always ill-affected to us French.'
'Nay; but you are a party of women, and belong to an ambassador!'
was the answer.
'What do those robbers care for that? We are all the better prey
for them! I have heard histories of Spanish cruelty and lawlessness
that would make you shudder! You cannot guess at the dreadful
presentiments that have haunted me ever since I had my husband's
'There is danger everywhere, dear friend,' said Lady Nithsdale
kindly; 'but God finds a way for us through all.'
'Ah! you have experienced it,' said Madame de Bourke. 'Let us
proceed to the affairs. I only thought I should tell you the truth.'
Lady Nithsdale answered for the courage of her protege, and it was
further determined that he should be presented to her that evening by
the Earl, at the farewell reception which Madame de Varennes was to
hold on her daughter's behalf, when it could be determined in what
capacity he should be named in the passport.
Estelle, who had been listening with all her ears, and trying to
find a character in Fenelon's romance to be represented by Arthur
Hope, now further heard it explained that the party were to go
southward to meet her father at one of the Mediterranean ports, as the
English Government were so suspicious of Jacobites that he did not
venture on taking the direct route by sea, but meant to travel through
Germany. Madame de Bourke expected to meet her brother at Avignon,
and to obtain his advice as to her further route.
Estelle heard this with great satisfaction. 'We shall go to the
Mediterranean Sea and be in danger,' she said to herself, unfolding
the map at the beginning of her Telemaque; 'that is quite right!
Perhaps we shall see Calypso's island.'
She begged hard to be allowed to sit up that evening to see the
hero of the escape from the Tower of London, as well as the travelling
companion destined for her, and she prevailed, for mamma pronounced
that she had been very sage and reasonable all day, and the
grandmamma, who was so soon to part with her, could refuse her
nothing. So she was full dressed, with hair curled, and permitted to
stand by the tall high-backed chair where the old lady sat to receive
The Marquise de Varennes was a small withered woman, with keen
eyes, and a sort of sparkle of manner, and power of setting people at
ease, that made her the more charming the older she grew. An
experienced eye could detect that she retained the costume of the
prime of Louis XIV., when headdresses were less high than that which
her daughter was obliged to wear. For the two last mortal hours of
that busy day had poor Madame de Bourke been compelled to sit under
the hands of the hairdresser, who was building up, with paste and
powder and the like, an original conception of his, namely, a northern
landscape, with snow- laden trees, drifts of snow, diamond icicles,
and even a cottage beside an ice-bound stream. She could ill spare
the time, and longed to be excused; but the artist had begged so hard
to be allowed to carry out his brilliant and unique idea, this last
time of attending on Madame l'Ambassadrice, that there was no
resisting him, and perhaps her strange forebodings made her less
willing to inflict a disappointment on the poor man. It would have
been strange to contrast the fabric of vanity building up outside her
head, with the melancholy bodings within it, as she sat motionless
under the hairdresser's fingers; but at the end she roused herself to
smile gratefully, and give the admiration that was felt to be due to
the monstrosity that crowned her. Forbearance and Christian patience
may be exercised even on a toilette a la Louis XV. Long practice
enabled her to walk about, seat herself, rise and curtsey without
detriment to the edifice, or bestowing the powder either on her
neighbours or on the richly-flowered white brocade she wore; while she
received the compliments, one after another, of ladies in even more
gorgeous array, and gentlemen in velvet coats, adorned with gold lace,
cravats of exquisite fabric, and diamond shoe buckles.
Phelim Burke, otherwise l'Abbe de St. Eudoce, stood near her. He
was a thin, yellow, and freckled youth, with sandy hair and typical
Irish features, but without their drollery, and his face was what
might have been expected in a half-starved, half-clad gossoon in a
cabin, rather than surmounting a silken soutane in a Parisian salon;
but he had a pleasant smile when kindly addressed by his friends.
Presently Lady Nithsdale drew near, accompanied by a tall, grave
gentleman, and bringing with them a still taller youth, with the
stiffest of backs and the longest of legs, who, when presented, made a
bow apparently from the end of his spine, like Estelle's lamented
Dutch-jointed doll when made to sit down. Moreover, he was more
shabbily dressed than any other gentleman present, with a general
outgrown look about his coat, and darns in his silk stockings; and
though they were made by the hand of a Countess, that did not add to
their elegance. And as he stood as stiff as a ramrod or as a
sentinel, Estelle's good breeding was all called into play, and her
mother's heart quailed as she said to herself, 'A great raw Scot!
What can be done with him?
Lord Nithsdale spoke for him, thinking he had better go as
secretary, and showing some handwriting of good quality. 'Did he know
any languages?' 'French, English, Latin, and some Greek.' 'And,
Madame,' added Lord Nithsdale, 'not only is his French much better
than mine, as you would hear if the boy durst open his mouth, but our
broad Scotch is so like Swedish that he will almost be an interpreter
However hopeless Madame de Bourke felt, she smiled and professed
herself rejoiced to hear it, and it was further decided that Arthur
Maxwell Hope, aged eighteen, Scot by birth, should be mentioned among
those of the Ambassador's household for whom she demanded passports.
Her position rendered this no matter of difficulty, and it was wiser
to give the full truth to the home authorities; but as it was
desirable that it should not be reported to the English Government
that Lord Burnside's brother was in the suite of the Jacobite Comte de
Bourke, he was only to be known to the public by his first name, which
was not much harder to French lips than Maxwell or Hope.
'Tall and black and awkward,' said Estelle, describing him to her
brother. 'I shall not like him—I shall call him Phalante instead of
'Arthur,' said Ulysse; 'King Arthur was turned into a crow!'
'Well, this Arthur is like a crow—a great black skinny crow with
CHAPTER III—ON THE RHONE
'Fairer scenes the opening eye
Of the day can scarce descry,
Fairer sight he looks not on
Than the pleasant banks of Rhone.'
Long legs may be in the abstract an advantage, but scarcely so in
what was called in France une grande Berline. This was the favourite
travelling carriage of the eighteenth century, and consisted of a
close carriage or coach proper, with arrangements on the top for
luggage, and behind it another seat open, but provided with a large
leathern hood, and in front another place for the coachman and his
companions. Each seat was wide enough to hold three persons, and thus
within sat Madame de Bourke, her brother-in-law, the two children,
Arthur Hope, and Mademoiselle Julienne, an elderly woman of the
artisan class, femme de chambre to the Countess. Victorine, who was
attendant on the children, would travel under the hood with two more
maids; and the front seat would be occupied by the coachman, Laurence
Callaghan—otherwise La Jeunesse, and Maitre Hebert, the maitre
d'hotel. Fain would Arthur have shared their elevation, so far as
ease and comfort of mind and body went, and the Countess's wishes may
have gone the same way; but besides that it would have been an insult
to class him with the servants, the horses of the home establishment,
driven by their own coachman, took the party the first stage out of
Paris; and though afterwards the post-horses or mules, six in number,
would be ridden by their own postilions, there was such an amount of
luggage as to leave little or no space for a third person outside.
It had been a perfect sight to see the carriage packed; when
Arthur, convoyed by Lord Nithsdale, arrived in the courtyard of the
Hotel de Varennes. Madame de Bourke was taking with her all the
paraphernalia of an ambassador—a service of plate, in a huge chest
stowed under the seat, a portrait of Philip V., in a gold frame set
with diamonds, being included among her jewellery—and Lord Nithsdale,
standing by, could not but drily remark, 'Yonder is more than we
brought with us, Arthur.'
The two walked up and down the court together, unwilling to intrude
on the parting which, as they well knew, would be made in floods of
tears. Sad enough indeed it was, for Madame de Varennes was advanced
in years, and her daughter had not only to part with her, but with the
baby Jacques, for an unknown space of time; but the self-command and
restraint of grief for the sake of each other was absolutely unknown.
It was a point of honour and sentiment to weep as much as possible,
and it would have been regarded as frigid and unnatural not to go on
crying too much to eat or speak for a whole day beforehand, and at
least two afterwards.
So when the travellers descended the steps to take their seats,
each face was enveloped in a handkerchief, and there were passionate
embraces, literal pressings to the breast, and violent sobs, as each
victim, one after the other, ascended the carriage steps and fell back
on the seat; while in the background, Honor Callaghan was uttering
Irish wails over the Abbe and Laurence, and the lamentable sound set
the little lap-dog and the big watch-dog howling in chorus. Arthur
Hope, probably as miserable as any of them in parting with his friend
and hero, was only standing like a stake, and an embarrassed stake (if
that be possible), and Lord Nithsdale, though anxious for him,
heartily pitying all, was nevertheless haunted by a queer recollection
of Lance and his dog, and thinking that French dogs were not devoid of
sympathy, and that the part of Crab was left for Arthur.
However, the last embrace was given, and the ladies were all packed
in, while the Abbe with his breast heaving with sobs, his big hat in
one hand, and a huge silk pocket-handkerchief in the other, did not
forget his manners, but waved to Arthur to ascend the steps first.
'Secretary, not guest. You must remember that another time,' said
Lord Nithsdale. 'God bless you, my dear lad, and bring you safe back
to bonny Scotland, a true and leal heart.'
Arthur wrung his friend's hand once more, and disappeared into the
vehicle; Nurse Honor made one more rush, and uttered another 'Ohone'
over Abbe Phelim, who followed into the carriage; the door was shut;
there was a last wail over 'Lanty, the sunbeam of me heart,' as he
climbed to the box seat; the harness jingled; coachman and postilions
cracked their whips, the impatient horses dashed out at the porte
cochere; and Arthur, after endeavouring to dispose of his legs, looked
about him, and saw, opposite to him, Madame de Bourke lying back in
the corner in a transport of grief, one arm round her daughter, and
her little son lying across her lap, both sobbing and crying; and on
one side of him the Abbe, sunk in his corner, his yellow silk
handkerchief over his face; on the other, Mademoiselle Julienne, who
was crying too, but with more moderation, perhaps more out of
propriety or from infection than from actual grief: at any rate she
had more of her senses about her than any one else, and managed to
dispose of the various loose articles that had been thrown after the
travellers, in pockets and under cushions. Arthur would have
assisted, but only succeeded in treading on various toes and eliciting
some small shrieks, which disconcerted him all the more, and made
Mademoiselle Julienne look daggers at him, as she relieved her lady of
little Ulysse, lifting him to her own knee, where, as he was
absolutely exhausted with crying, he fell asleep.
Arthur hoped the others would do the same, and perhaps there was
more dozing than they would have confessed; but whenever there was a
movement, and some familiar object in the streets of Paris struck the
eye of Madame, the Abbe, or Estelle, there was a little cry, and they
went off on a fresh score.
'Poor wretched weak creatures!' he said to himself, as he thought
the traditions of Scottish heroic women in whose heroism he had
gloated. And yet he was wrong: Madame de Bourke was capable of as
much resolute self-devotion as any of the ladies on the other side of
the Channel, but tears were a tribute required by the times. So she
gave way to them—just as no doubt the women of former days saw
nothing absurd in bottling them.
Arthur's position among all these weeping figures was extremely
awkward, all the more so that he carried his sword upright between his
legs, not daring to disturb the lachrymose company enough to dispose
of it in the sword case appropriated to weapons. He longed to take
out the little pocket Virgil, which Lord Nithsdale had given him, so
as to have some occupation for his eyes, but he durst not, lest he
should be thought rude, till, at a halt at a cabaret to water the
horses, the striking of a clock reminded the Abbe that it was the time
for reading the Hours, and when the breviary was taken out, Arthur
thought his book might follow it.
By and by there was a halt at Corbeil, where was the nunnery of
Alice Bourke, of whom her brother and sister-in-law were to take
leave. They, with the children, were set down there, while Arthur went
on with the carriage and servants to the inn to dine.
It was the first visit of Ulysse to the convent, and he was much
amazed at peeping at his aunt's hooded face through a grating.
However, the family were admitted to dine in the refectory; but poor
Madame de Bourke was fit for nothing but to lie on a bed, attended
affectionately by her sister-in-law, Soeur Ste. Madeleine.
'O sister, sister,' was her cry, 'I must say it to you—I would not
to my poor mother—that I have the most horrible presentiments I shall
never see her again, nor my poor child. No, nor my husband; I knew it
when he took leave of me for that terrible Spain.'
'Yet you see he is safe, and you will be with him, sister,'
returned the nun.
'Ah! that I knew I should! But think of those fearful Pyrenees,
and the bandits that infest them—and all the valuables we carry with
'Surely I heard that Marshal Berwick had offered you an escort.'
'That will only attract the attention of the brigands and bring
them in greater force. O sister, sister, my heart sinks at the
thought of my poor children in the hands of those savages! I dream of
them every night.'
'The suite of an ambassador is sacred.'
'Ah! but what do they care for that, the robbers? I know
destruction lies that way!'
'Nay, sister, this is not like you. You always were brave, and
trusted heaven, when you had to follow Ulick.'
'Alas! never had I this sinking of heart, which tells me I shall be
torn from my poor children and never rejoin him.'
Sister Ste. Madeleine caressed and prayed with the poor lady, and
did her utmost to reassure and comfort her, promising a neuvaine for
her safe journey and meeting with her husband.
'For the children,' said the poor Countess. 'I know I never shall
see him more.'
However, the cheerfulness of the bright Irish-woman had done her
some good, and she was better by the time she rose to pursue her
journey. Estelle and Ulysse had been much petted by the nuns, and when
all met again, to the great relief of Arthur, he found continuous
weeping was not de rigueur. When they got in again, he was able to
get rid of his sword, and only trod on two pair of toes, and got his
legs twice tumbled over.
Moreover, Madame de Bourke had recovered the faculty of making
pretty speeches, and when the weapon was put into the sword case, she
observed with a sad little smile, 'Ah, Monsieur! we look to you as our
'And me too!' cried little Ulysse, making a violent demonstration
with his tiny blade, and so nearly poking out his uncle's eye that the
article was relegated to the same hiding-place as 'Monsieur Arture's,'
and the boy was assured that this was a proof of his manliness.
He had quite recovered his spirits, and as his mother and sister
were still exhausted with weeping, he was not easy to manage, till
Arthur took heart of grace, and offering him a perch on his knee, let
him look out at the window, explaining the objects on the way, which
were all quite new to the little Parisian boy. Fortunately he spoke
French well, with scarcely any foreign accent, and his answers to the
little fellow's eager questions interspersed with observations on
'What they do in my country,' not only kept Ulysse occupied, but
gained Estelle's attention, though she was too weary and languid, and
perhaps, child as she was, too much bound by the requirements of
sympathy to manifest her interest, otherwise than by moving near
enough to listen.
That evening the party reached the banks of one of the canals which
connected the rivers of France, and which was to convey them to the
Loire and thence to the Rhone, in a huge flat-bottomed barge, called a
coche d'eau, a sort of ark, with cabins, where travellers could be
fairly comfortable, space where the berlin could be stowed away in the
rear, and a deck with an awning where the passengers could disport
themselves. From the days of Sully to those of the Revolution, this
was by far the most convenient and secure mode of transport,
especially in the south of France. It was very convenient to the
Bourke party; who were soon established on the deck. The lady's dress
was better adapted to travelling than the full costume of Paris. It
was what she called en Amazone—namely, a clothe riding-habit faced
with blue, with a short skirt, with open coat and waistcoat, like a
man's, hair unpowdered and tied behind, and a large shady feathered
hat. Estelle wore a miniature of the same, and rejoiced in her
freedom from the whalebone stiffness of her Paris life, skipping about
the deck with her brother, like fairies, Lanty said, or, as she
preferred to make it, 'like a nymph.'
The water coach moved only by day, and was already arrived before
the land one brought the weary party to the meeting-place—a
picturesque water-side inn with a high roof, and a trellised passage
down to the landing-place, covered by a vine, hung with clusters of
Here the travellers supped on omelettes and vin ordinaire, and went
off to bed—Madame and her child in one bed, with the maids on the
floor, and in another room the Abbe and secretary, each in a grabat,
the two men-servants in like manner, on the floor. Such was the
privacy of the eighteenth century, and Arthur, used to waiting on
himself, looked on with wonder to see the Abbe like a baby in the
hands of his faithful foster-brother, who talked away in a queer
mixture of Irish-English and French all the time until they knelt down
and said their prayers together in Latin, to which Arthur diligently
closed his Protestant ears.
Early the next morning the family embarked, the carriage having
been already put on board; and the journey became very agreeable as
they glided slowly, almost dreamily along, borne chiefly by the
current, although a couple of horses towed the barge by a rope on the
bank, in case of need, in places where the water was more sluggish,
but nothing more was wanting in the descent towards the Mediterranean.
The accommodation was not of a high order, but whenever there was a
halt near a good inn, Madame de Bourke and the children landed for the
night. And in the fine days of early autumn the deck was delightful,
and to dine there on the provisions brought on board was a perpetual
feast to Estelle and Ulysse.
The weather was beautiful, and there was a constant panorama of
fair sights and scenes. Harvest first, a perfectly new spectacle to
the children and then, as they went farther south, the vintage. The
beauty was great as they glided along the pleasant banks of Rhone.
Tiers of vines on the hillsides were mostly cut and trimmed like
currant bushes, and disappointed Arthur, who had expected festoons on
trellises. But this was the special time for beauty. The whole
population, in picturesque costumes, were filling huge baskets with
the clusters, and snatches of their merry songs came pealing down to
the coche d'eau, as it quietly crept along. Towards evening groups
were seen with piled baskets on their heads, or borne between them,
youths and maidens crowned with vines, half-naked children dancing
like little Bacchanalians, which awoke classical recollections in
Arthur and delighted the children.
Poor Madame de Bourke was still much depressed, and would sit
dreaming half the day, except when roused by some need of her
children, some question, or some appeal for her admiration.
Otherwise, the lovely heights, surmounted with tall towers,
extinguisher-capped, of castle, convent, or church, the clear reaches
of river, the beautiful turns, the little villages and towns gleaming
white among the trees, seemed to pass unseen before her eyes, and she
might be seen to shudder when the children pressed her to say how many
days it would be before they saw their father.
An observer with a mind at ease might have been much entertained
with the airs and graces that the two maids, Rosette and Babette,
lavished upon Laurence, their only squire; for Maitre Hebert was far
too distant and elderly a person for their little coquetries. Rosette
dealt in little terrors, and, if he was at hand, durst not step across
a plank without his hand, was sure she heard wolves howling in the
woods, and that every peasant was 'ce barbare;' while Babette, who in
conjunction with Maitre Hebert acted cook in case of need, plied him
with dainty morsels, which he was only too apt to bestow on the
beggars, or the lean and hungry lad who attended on the horses.
Victorine, on the other hand, by far the prettiest and most sprightly
of the three, affected the most supreme indifference to him and his
attentions, and hardly deigned to give him a civil word, or to accept
the cornflowers and late roses he brought her from time to time.
'Mere weeds,' she said. And the grapes and Queen Claude plums he
brought her were always sour. Yet a something deep blue might often
be seen peeping above her trim little apron.
Not that Lanty had much time to disport himself in this fashion,
for the Abbe was his care, and was perfectly happy with a rod of his
arranging, with which to fish over the side. Little Ulysse was of
course fired with the same emulation, and dangled his line for an hour
together. Estelle would have liked to do the same, but her mother and
Mademoiselle Julienne considered the sport not convenable for a
demoiselle. Arthur was once or twice induced to try the Abbe's rod,
but he found it as mere a toy as that of the boy; and the mere action
of throwing it made his heart so sick with the contrast with the
'paidling in the burns' of his childhood, that he had no inclination
to continue the attempt, either in the slow canal or the broadening
He was still very shy with the Countess, who was not in spirits to
set him at ease; and the Abbe puzzled him, as is often the case when
inexperienced strangers encounter unacknowledged deficiency. The
perpetual coaxing chatter, and undisguised familiarity of La Jeunesse
with the young ecclesiastic did not seem to the somewhat haughty cast
of his young Scotch mind quite becoming, and he held aloof; but with
the two children he was quite at ease, and was in truth their great
He made Ulysse's fishing-rod, baited it, and held the boy when he
used it—nay, he once even captured a tiny fish with it, to the
ecstatic pity of both children. He played quiet games with them, and
told them stories—conversed on Telemaque with Estelle, or read to her
from his one book, which was Robinson Crusoe—a little black copy in
pale print, with the margins almost thumbed away, which he had carried
in his pocket when he ran away from school, and nearly knew by heart.
Estelle was deeply interested in it, and varied in opinion whether
she should prefer Calypso's island or Crusoe's, which she took for as
much matter of fact as did, a century later, Madame Talleyrand, when,
out of civility to Mr. Robinson, she inquired after 'ce bon Vendredi.'
She inclined to think she should prefer Friday to the nymphs.
'A whole quantity of troublesome womenfolk to fash one,' said
Arthur, who had not arrived at the age of gallantry.
'You would never stay there!' said Estelle; 'you would push us over
the rock like Mentor. I think you are our Mentor, for I am sure you
tell us a great deal, and you don't scold.'
'Mentor was a cross old man,' said Ulysse.
To which Estelle replied that he was a goddess; and Arthur very
decidedly disclaimed either character, especially the pushing over
rocks. And thus they glided on, spending a night in the great, busy,
bewildering city of Lyon, already the centre of silk industry; but
more interesting to the travellers as the shrine of the martyrdoms.
All went to pray at the Cathedral except Arthur. The time was not
come for heeding church architecture or primitive history; and he only
wandered about the narrow crooked streets, gazing at the toy piles of
market produce, and looking at the stalls of merchandise, but as one
unable to purchase. His mother had indeed contrived to send him
twenty guineas, but he knew that he must husband them well in case of
emergencies, and Lady Nithsdale had sewn them all up, except one, in a
belt which he wore under his clothes.
He had arrived at the front of the Cathedral when the party came
out. Madame de Bourke had been weeping, but looked more peaceful than
he had yet seen her, and Estelle was much excited. She had bought a
little book, which she insisted on her Mentor's reading with her,
though his Protestant feelings recoiled.
'Ah!' said Estelle, 'but you are not Christian.'
'Yes, truly, Mademoiselle.'
'And these died for the Christian faith. Do you know mamma said it
comforted her to pray there; for she was sure that whatever happened,
the good God can make us strong, as He made the young girl who sat in
the red-hot chair. We saw her picture, and it was dreadful. Do read
about her, Monsieur Arture.'
They read, and Arthur had candour enough to perceive that this was
the simple primitive narrative of the death of martyrs struggling for
Christian truth, long ere the days of superstition and division.
Estelle's face lighted with enthusiasm.
'Is it not noble to be a martyr?' she asked.
'Oh!' cried Ulysse; 'to sit in a red-hot chair! It would be worse
than to be thrown off a rock! But there are no martyrs in these days,
sister?' he added, pressing up to Arthur as if for protection.
'There are those who die for the right,' said Arthur, thinking of
Lord Derwentwater, who in Jacobite eyes was a martyr.
'And the good God makes them strong,' said Estelle, in a low voice.
'Mamma told me no one could tell how soon we might be tried, and that
I was to pray that He would make us as brave as St. Blandina! What do
you think could harm us, Monsieur, when we are going to my dear papa?'
It was Lanty who answered, from behind the Abbe, on whose angling
endeavours he was attending. 'Arrah then, nothing at all,
Mademoiselle. Nothing in the four corners of the world shall hurt one
curl of your blessed little head, while Lanty Callaghan is to the
'Ah! but you are not God, Lanty,' said Estelle gravely; 'you cannot
keep things from happening.'
'The Powers forbid that I should spake such blasphemy!' said Lanty,
taking off his hat. ''Twas not that I meant, but only that poor Lanty
would die ten thousand deaths—worse than them as was thrown to the
beasts—before one of them should harm the tip of that little finger
Perhaps the same vow was in Arthur's heart, though not spoken in
such strong terms.
Thus they drifted on till the old city of Avignon rose on the eyes
of the travellers, a dark pile of buildings where the massive houses,
built round courts, with few external windows, recalled that these had
once been the palaces of cardinals accustomed to the Italian city
feuds, which made every house become a fortress.
On the wharf stood a gentleman in a resplendent uniform of blue and
gold, whom the children hailed with cries of joy and outstretched
arms, as their uncle. The Marquis de Varennes was soon on board,
embracing his sister and her children, and conducting them to one of
the great palaces, where he had rooms, being then in garrison. Arthur
followed, at a sign from the lady, who presented him to her brother as
'Monsieur Arture'—a young Scottish gentleman who will do my husband
the favour of acting as his secretary.
She used the word gentilhomme, which conveyed the sense of nobility
of blood, and the Marquis acknowledged the introduction with one of
those graceful bows that Arthur hated, because they made him doubly
feel the stiffness of his own limitation. He was glad to linger with
Lanty, who was looking in wonder at the grim buildings.
'And did the holy Father live here?' said he. 'Faith, and 'twas a
quare taste he must have had; I wonder now if there would be vartue in
a bit of a stone from his palace. It would mightily please my old
mother if there were.'
'I thought it was the wrong popes that lived here,' suggested
Lanty looked at him a moment as if in doubt whether to accept a
heretic suggestion, but the education received through the Abbe came
to mind, and he exclaimed -
'May be you are in the right of it, sir; and I'd best let the
stones alone till I can tell which is the true and which is the false.
By the same token, little is the difference it would make to her,
unless she knew it; and if she did, she'd as soon I brought her a hair
of the old dragon's bristles.'
Lanty found another day or two's journey bring him very nearly in
contact with the old dragon, for at Tarascon was the cave in which St.
Martha was said to have demolished the great dragon of Provence with
the sign of the cross. Madame de Bourke and her children made a
devout pilgrimage thereto; but when Arthur found that it was the
actual Martha of Bethany to whom the legend was appended, he grew
indignant, and would not accompany the party. 'It was a very
different thing from the martyrs of Lyon and Vienne! Their history
was credible, but this—'
'Speak not so loud, my friend,' said M. de Varennes. 'Their
shrines are equally good to console women and children.'
Arthur did not quite understand the tone, nor know whether to be
gratified at being treated as a man, or to be shocked at the Marquis's
defection from his own faith.
The Marquis, who was able to accompany his sister as far as
Montpelier, was amused at her two followers, Scotch and Irish, both
fine young men- -almost too fine, he averred.
'You will have to keep a careful watch on them when you enter
Germany, sister,' he said, 'or the King of Prussia will certainly
kidnap them for his tall regiment of grenadiers.'
'O brother, do not speak of any more dangers: I see quite enough
before me ere I can even rejoin my dear husband.'
A very serious council was held between the brother and sister.
The French army under Marshal Berwick had marched across on the south
side on the Pyrenees, and was probably by this time in the county of
Rousillon, intending to besiege Rosas. Once with them all would be
well, but between lay the mountain roads, and the very quarter of
Spain that had been most unwilling to accept French rule.
The Marquis had been authorised to place an escort at his sister's
service, but though the numbers might guard her against mere mountain
banditti, they would not be sufficient to protect her from hostile
troops, such as might only too possibly be on the way to encounter
Berwick. The expense and difficulty of the journey on the mountain
roads would likewise be great, and it seemed advisable to avoid these
dangers by going by sea. Madame de Bourke eagerly acceded to this
plan, her terror of the wild Pyrenean passes and wilder inhabitants
had always been such that she was glad to catch at any means of
avoiding them, and she had made more than one voyage before.
Estelle was gratified to find they were to go by sea, since
Telemachus did so in a Phoenician ship, and, in that odd dreamy way in
which children blend fiction and reality, wondered if they should come
on Calypso's island; and Arthur, who had read the Odyssey, delighted
her and terrified Ulysse with the cave of Polyphemus. M. de Varennes
could only go with his sister as far as Montpelier. Then he took
leave of her, and the party proceeded along the shores of the lagoons,
in the carriage to the seaport of Cette, one of the old Greek towns of
the Gulf of Lyon, and with a fine harbour full of ships. Maitre
Hebert was sent to take a passage on board of one, while his lady and
her party repaired to an inn, and waited all the afternoon before he
returned with tidings that he could find no French vessel about to
sail for Spain, but that there was a Genoese tartane, bound for
Barcelona, on which Madame la Comtesse could secure a passage for
herself and her suite, and which would take her thither in twenty-four
The town was full of troops, waiting a summons to join Marshal
Berwick's army. Several resplendent officers had already paid their
respects to Madame l'Ambassadrice, and they concurred in the advice,
unless she would prefer waiting for the arrival of one of the French
transports which were to take men and provisions to the army in Spain.
This, however, she declined, and only accepted the services of the
gentlemen so far as to have her passports renewed, as was needful,
since they were to be conveyed by the vessel of an independent power,
though always an ally of France.
The tartane was a beautiful object, a one-decked, single-masted
vessel, with a long bowsprit, and a huge lateen sail like a wing, and
the children fell in love with her at first sight. Estelle was quite
sure that she was just such a ship as Mentor borrowed for Telemachus;
but the poor maids were horribly frightened, and Babette might be
heard declaring she had never engaged herself to be at the mercy of
the waves, like a bit of lemon peel in a glass of eau sucree.
'You may return,' said Madame de Bourke. 'I compel no one to share
our dangers and hardships.'
But Babette threw herself on her knees, and declared that nothing
should ever separate her from Madame! She was a good creature, but
she could not deny herself the luxury of the sobs and tears that
showed to all beholders the extent of her sacrifice.
Madame de Bourke knew that there would be considerable discomfort
in a vessel so little adapted for passengers, and with only one small
cabin, which the captain, who spoke French, resigned to her use. It
would only, however, be for a short time, and though it was near the
end of October, the blue expanse of sea was calm as only the
Mediterranean can be, so that she trusted that no harm would result to
those who would have to spend the night on dock.
It was a beautiful evening which the little Genoese vessel left the
harbour and Cette receded in the distance, looking fairer the farther
it was left behind. The children were put to bed as soon as they
could be persuaded to cease from watching the lights in the harbour
and the phosphorescent wake of the vessel in the water.
That night and the next day were pleasant and peaceful; there was
no rough weather, and little sickness among the travellers. Madame de
Bourke congratulated herself on having escaped the horrors of the
Pyrenean journey, and the Genoese captain assured her that unless the
weather should change rapidly, they would wake in sight of the Spanish
coast the next morning. If the sea were not almost too calm, they
would be there already. The evening was again so delightful that the
children were glad to hear that they would have again to return by
sea, and Arthur, who somewhat shrank from his presentation to the
Count, regretted that the end of the voyage was so near, though Ulysse
assured him that 'Mon papa would love him, because he could tell such
charming stories,' and Lanty testified that 'M. le Comte was a mighty
Arthur was lying asleep on deck, wrapped in his cloak, when he was
awakened by a commotion among the sailors. He started up and found
that it was early morning, the sun rising above the sea, and the
sailors all gazing eagerly in that direction. He eagerly made his way
to ask if they were in sight of land, recollecting, however, as he
made the first step, that Spain lay to the west of them—not to the
He distinguished the cry from the Genoese sailors, 'Ii Moro—Il
Moro,' in tones of horror and consternation, and almost at the same
moment received a shock from Maitre Hebert, who came stumbling against
'Pardon, pardon, Monsieur; I go to prepare Madame! It's the
accursed Moors. Let me pass—misericorde, what will become of us?'
Arthur struggled on in search of such of the crew as could speak
French, but all were in too much consternation to attend to him, and
he could only watch that to which their eyes were directed, a white
sail, bright in the morning light, coming up with a rapidity strange
and fearful in its precision, like a hawk pouncing on its prey, for it
did not depend on its sails alone, but was propelled by oars.
The next moment Madame de Bourke was on deck, holding by the Abbe's
arm, and Estelle, her hair on her shoulders, clinging to her. She
looked very pale, but her calmness was in contrast to the Italian
sailors, who were throwing themselves with gestures of despair,
screaming out vows to the Madonna and saints, and shouting
imprecations. The skipper came to speak to her. 'Madame,' he said,
'I implore you to remain in your cabin. After the first, you and all
yours will be safe. They cannot harm a French subject; alas! alas
would it were so with us.'
'How then will it be with you?' she asked.
He made a gesture of deprecation.
'For me it will be ruin; for my poor fellows slavery; that is, if
we survive the onset. Madame, I entreat of you, take shelter in the
cabin, yourself and all yours. None can answer for what the first
rush of these fiends may be! Diavoli! veri diavola! Ah! for which of
my sins is it that after fifty voyages I should be condemned to lose
A fresh outburst of screams from the crew summoned the captain.
'They are putting out the long-boat,' was the cry; 'they will board
'Madame! I entreat of you, shut yourself into the cabin.'
And the four maids in various stages of deshabille, adding their
cries to those of the sailors, tried to drag her in, but she looked
about for Arthur. 'Come with us, Monsieur,' she said quietly, for
after all her previous depressions and alarms, her spirit rose to
endurance in the actual stress of danger. 'Come with us, I entreat of
you,' she said. 'You are named in our passports, and the treaties are
such that neither French nor English subjects can be maltreated nor
enslaved by these wretches. As the captain says, the danger is only
in the first attack.'
'I will protect you, Madame, with my life,' declared Arthur,
drawing his sword, as his cheeks and eyes lighted.
'Ah, put that away. What could you do but lose your own?' cried
the lady. 'Remember, you have a mother—'
The Genoese captain here turned to insist that Madame and all the
women should shut themselves instantly into the cabin. Estelle
dragged hard at Arthur's hand, with entreaties that he would come, but
he lifted her down the ladder, and then closed the door on her, Lanty
and he being both left outside.
'To be shut into a hole like a rat in a trap when there's blows to
the fore, is more than flesh could stand,' said Lanty, who had seized
on a hand-spike and was waving it about his head, true shillelagh
fashion, by hereditary instinct in one who had never behold a faction
fight, in what ought to have been his native land.
The Genoese captain looked at him as a madman, and shouted in a
confused mixture of French and Italian to lay down his weapon.
'Quei cattivi—ces scelerats were armed to the teeth—would fire.
All lie flat on the deck.'
The gesture spoke for itself. With a fearful howl all the Italians
dropped flat; but neither Scotch nor Irish blood brooked to follow
their example, or perhaps fully perceived the urgency of the need,
till a volley of bullets were whistling about their ears, though
happily without injury, the mast and the rigging having protected
them, for the sail was riddled with holes, and the smoke dimmed their
vision as the report sounded in their ears. In another second the
turbaned, scimitared figures were leaping on board. The Genoese still
lay flat offering no resistance, but Lanty and Arthur stood on either
side of the ladder, and hurled back the two who first approached; but
four or five more rushed upon them, and they would have been instantly
cut down, had it not been for a shout from the Genoese, 'Franchi!
Franchi!' At that magic word, which was evidently understood, the
pirates only held the two youths tightly, vituperating them no doubt
in bad Arabic,—Lanty grinding his teeth with rage, though scarcely
feeling the pain of the two sabre cuts he had received, and pouring
forth a volley of exclamations, chiefly, however, directed against the
white-livered spalpeens of sailors, who had not lifted so much as a
hand to help him. Fortunately no one understood a word he said but
Arthur, who had military experience enough to know there was nothing
for it but to stand still in the grasp of his captor, a wiry-looking
Moor, with a fez and a striped sash round his waist.
The leader, a sturdy Turk in a dirty white turban, with a huge
sabre in his hand, was listening to the eager words, poured out with
many gesticulations by the Genoese captain, in a language utterly
incomprehensible to the Scot, but which was the lingua Franca of the
It resulted in four men being placed on guard at the hatchway
leading to the cabin, while all the rest, including Arthur, Hebert,
Laurence, were driven toward the prow, and made to understand by signs
that they must not move on peril of their lives. A Tuck was placed at
the helm, and the tartane's head turned towards the pirate captor; and
all the others, who were not employed otherwise, began to ransack the
vessel and feast on the provisions. Some hams were thrown overboard,
with shouts of evident scorn as belonging to the unclean beast, but
the wine was eagerly drank, and Maitre Hebert uttered a wail of dismay
as he saw five Moors gorging large pieces of his finest pate.
'They had na sailed upon the sea
A day but barely three,
When the lift grew dark and the wind blew cauld
And gurly grew the sea.
'Oh where will I find a little wee boy
Will tak my helm in hand,
Till I gae up to my top mast
And see for some dry land.'
SIR PATRICK SPENS.
It was bad enough on the deck of the unfortunate Genoese tartane,
but far worse below, where eight persons were shut into the stifling
atmosphere of the cabin, deprived of the knowledge of what was going
on above, except from the terrific sounds they heard. Estelle, on
being shut into the cabin, announced that the Phoenician ship was
taken by the vessels of Sesostris, but this did not afford any one
else the same satisfaction as she appeared to derive from it. Babette
and Rosette were echoing every scream of the crew, and quite certain
that all would be massacred, and little Ulysse, wakened by the hubbub,
rolled round in his berth and began to cry.
Madame de Bourke, very white, but quite calm, insisted on silence
and then said, 'I do not think the danger is very great to ourselves
if you will keep silence and not attract attention. But our hope is
in Heaven. My brother, will you lead our prayers? Recite our
office.' Obediently the Abbe fell on his knees, and his example was
followed by the others. His voice went monotonously on throughout
with the Latin. The lady, no doubt, followed in her heart, and she
made the responses as did the others, fitfully; but her hands and eyes
were busy, looking to the priming of two small pistols, which she took
out of her jewel case, and the sight of which provoked fresh shrieks
from the maids. Mademoiselle Julienne meantime was dressing Ulysse,
and standing guard over him, Estelle watching all with eager bright
eyes, scarcely frightened, but burning to ask questions, from which
her uncle's prayers debarred her.
At the volley of shot, Rosette was reduced to quiet by a swoon, but
Victorine, screaming that the wretches would have killed Laurent,
would have rushed on deck, had not her mistress forcibly withheld her.
There ensued a prodigious yelling and howling, trampling and
scuffling, then the sounds of strange languages in vituperation or
command, steps coming down the ladder, sounds of altercation, retreat,
splashes in the sea, the feeling that the ship was put about—and ever
the trampling, the wild cries of exultation, which over and over again
made the prisoners feel choked with the horror of some frightful
crisis close at hand. And all the time they were in ignorance, their
little window in the stern showed them nothing but sea; and even if
Madame de Bourke's determination had not hindered Victorine from
peeping out of the cabin, whether prison or fortress, the Moorish
sentries outside kept the door closed.
How long this continued was scarcely to be guessed. It was hours
by their own feelings; Ulysse began to cry from hunger, and his mother
gave him and Estelle some cakes that were within reach. Mademoiselle
Julienne begged her lady to share the repast, reminding her that she
would need all her strength. The Abbe, too, was hungry enough, and
some wine and preserved fruits coming to light all the prisoners made
a meal which heartened most of them considerably; although the heat
was becoming terrible, as the sun rose higher in the sky, and very
little air could be obtained through the window, so that poor Julienne
could not eat, and Rosette fell into a heavy sleep in the midst of her
sighs. Even Estelle, who had got out her Telemaque, like a sort of
oracle in the course of being verified, was asleep over it, when fresh
noises and grating sounds were board, new steps on deck, and there
were steps and voices. The Genoese captain was heard exclaiming,
'Open, Madame! you can do so safely. This is the Algerine captain,
who is bound to protect you.'
The maids huddled together behind their lady, who stood forward as
the door opened to admit a stout, squarely-built man in the typical
dress of a Turk,—white turban, purple coat, broad sash crammed with
weapons, and ample trousers,—a truculent-looking figure which made
the maids shudder and embrace one another with suppressed shrieks, but
which somehow, even in the midst of his Eastern salaam, gave the
Countess a sense that he was acting a comedy, and carried her
involuntarily back to the Moors whom she had seen in the Cid on the
stage. And looking again, she perceived that though brown and
weather-beaten, there was a certain Northern ruddiness inherent in his
complexion; that his eyes were gray, so far as they were visible
between the surrounding puckers; and his eyebrows, moustache, and
beard not nearly so dark as the hair of the Genoese who stood cringing
beside him as interpreter. She formed her own conclusions and adhered
to them, though he spoke in bad Arabic to the skipper, who proceeded
to explain that El Reis Hamed would offer no injury to Madame la
Comtesse, her suite or property, being bound by treaty between the Dey
and the King of France, but that he required to see her passport.
There was a little blundering in the Italian's French rendering, and
Madame de Bourke was quick to detect the perception of it in the
countenance of the Reis, stolid though it was. She felt no doubt that
he was a renegade of European birth, and watched, with much anxiety as
well as curiosity, his manner of dealing with her passports, which she
would not let out of her own hand. She saw in a moment that though he
let the Genoese begin to interpret them, his eyes were following
intelligently; and she hazarded the observation, 'You understand, sir.
You are Frank.'
He turned one startled glance towards the door to see if there were
any listeners, and answered, 'Hollander, Madame.'
The Countess had travelled with diplomatists all her life, and knew
a little of the vernacular of most languages, and it was in
Dutch—broken indeed, but still Dutch—that she declared that she was
sure that she might rely on his protection—a security which in truth
she was far from feeling; for while some of these unfortunate men,
renegades only from weakness, yearned after their compatriots and
their lost home and faith, others out-heroded the Moors themselves in
ferocity, especially towards the Christian captives; nor was a
Dutchman likely to have any special tenderness in his composition,
above all towards the French. However, there was a certain smile on
the lips of Reis Hamed, and he answered with a very hearty, 'Ja! ja!
Madame. Upon my soul I will let no harm come to you or the pretty
little ones, nor the young vrouwkins either, if they will keep close.
You are safe by treaty. A Reis would have to pay a heavy reckoning
with Mehemed Dey if a French ambassador had to complain of him, and
you will bear me witness, Madame, that I have not touched a hair of
any of your heads!'
'I am sure you wish me well, sir,' said Madame de Bourke in a
dignified way, 'but I require to be certified of the safety of the
rest of my suite, my steward, my lackey, and my husband's secretary, a
young gentleman of noble birth.'
'They are safe, Madame. This Italian slave can bear me witness
that no creature has been harmed since my crew boarded this vessel.'
'I desire then that they may be released, as being named in my
To this the Dutchman consented.
Whereupon the skipper began to wring his hands, and piteously to
beseech Madame to intercede for him, but the Dutchman cut him short
before she could speak. 'Dog of an Italian, the lady knows better!
You and your fellows are our prize—poor enough after all the trouble
you have given us in chasing you.'
Madame de Bourke spoke kindly to the poor man, telling him that
though she could do nothing for him now, it was possible that she
might when she should have rejoined her husband, and she then
requested the Reis to land her and her suite in his long-boat on the
Spanish coast, which could be seen in the distance, promising him
ample reward if he could do so.
To this he replied: 'Madame, you ask what would be death to me.'
He went on to explain that if he landed her on Christian ground,
without first presenting her and her passport to the Dey and the
French Consul, his men might represent him as acting in the interests
of the Christians, and as a traitor to the Algerine power, by taking a
bribe from a person belonging to a hostile state, in which case the
bowstring would be the utmost mercy he could expect; and the reigning
Dey, Mehemed, having been only recently chosen, it was impossible to
guess how he might deal with such cases. Once at Algiers, he assured
Madame de Bourke that she would have nothing to fear, as she would be
under the protection of the French Consul; and she had no choice but
to submit, though much concerned for the continued anxiety to her
husband, as well as the long delay and uncertainty of finding him.
Still, when she perceived that it was inevitable, she complained no
more, and the Dutchman went on with a certain bluff kindness—as one
touched by her courtesy—to offer her the choice of remaining in the
tartane or coming on board his larger vessel. The latter he did not
recommend, as he had a crew of full two hundred Turks and Moors, and
it would be necessary to keep herself and all her women as closely as
possible secluded in the cabins; and even then, he added, that if once
seen he could hardly answer for some of those corsairs not
endeavouring to secure a fair young Frank girl for his harem; and as
his eye fell on Rosette, she bridled and hid herself behind
He must, he said, remove all the Genoese, but he would send on
board the tartane only seven men on whom he could perfectly depend for
respectful behaviour, so that the captives would be able to take the
air on deck as freely as before. There was no doubt that he was in
earnest, and the lady accepted his offer with thanks, all the stronger
since she and all around her were panting and sick for want of fresh
It was a great relief when he took her on deck with him that she
might identify the three men whom she claimed as belonging to her
suite. Arthur, Lanty, and Hebert, who, in their vague knowledge of the
circumstances, had been dreading the oar for the rest of their lives,
could hardly believe their good fortune when she called them up to
her, and the Abbe gripped Lanty's arm as if he would never let him go
again. The poor Italians seemed to feel their fate all the harder for
the deliverance of those three, and sobbed, howled, and wept so
piteously that Arthur wondered how strong men could so give way, while
Lanty's tears sprang forth in sympathy, and he uttered assurances and
made signs that he would never cease to pray for their rescue.
'Though,' as he observed, 'they were poor creatures that hadn't the
heart of a midge, when there was such a chance of a fight while the
haythen spalpeens were coming on board.'
Here Lanty was called on to assist Hebert in identifying his lady's
bales of goods, when all those of the unfortunate Genoese were put on
board the corsair's vessel. A sail-cloth partition was extended
across the deck by the care of the Dutchman, 'who'—as Lanty
said—'for a haythen apostate was a very dacent man.' He evidently
had a strong compassion and fellow-feeling for the Christian lady, and
assured her that she might safely take the air and sit on deck as much
as she pleased behind its shelter; and he likewise carefully selected
the seven of his crew whom he sent on board to work the ship, the
chief being a heavy-looking old Turk, with a chocolate-coloured visage
between a huge white beard and eyebrows, and the others mere lads,
except one, who, from an indefinable European air about him, was
evidently a renegade, and could speak a sort of French, so as to hold
communication with the captives, especially Lanty, who was much
quicker than any of the rest in picking up languages, perhaps from
having from his infancy talked French and English (or rather Irish),
and likewise learnt Latin with his foster-brother. This man was the
only one permitted to go astern of the partition, in case of need, to
attend to the helm; but the vessel was taken in tow by the corsair,
and needed little management. The old Turk seemed to regard the
Frankish women like so many basilisks, and avoided turning a glance in
their direction, roaring at his crew if he only saw them approaching
the sail-cloth, and keeping a close watch upon the lithe black-eyed
youths, whose brown limbs carried them up the mast with the agility of
monkeys. There was one in especial—a slight, well-made fellow about
twenty, with a white turban cleaner than the rest—who contrived to
cast wonderful glances from the masthead over the barrier at Rosette,
who actually smiled in return at ce pauvre garcon, and smiled the more
for Mademoiselle Julienne's indignation. Suddenly, however, a shrill
shout made him descend hastily, and the old Turk's voice might be
heard in its highest key, no doubt shrieking out maledictions on all
the ancestry of the son of a dog who durst defile his eyes with gazing
at the shameless daughters of the Frank. Little Ulysse was, however,
allowed to disport himself wherever he pleased; and after once, under
Arthur's protection, going forward, he found himself made very
welcome, and offered various curiosities, such as shells, corals, and
a curious dried little hippocampus or seahorse.
This he brought back in triumph, to the extreme delight of his
sister's classical mind. 'Oh mamma, mamma,' she cried, 'Ulysse really
has got the skeleton of a Triton. It is exactly like the stone
creatures in the Champs Elysees.'
There was no denying the resemblance, and it so increased the
confusion in Estelle's mind between the actual and the mythological,
that Arthur told her that she was looking out for the car of
Amphitrite to arise from the waters. Anxiety and trouble had made him
much better acquainted with Madame de Bourke, who was grateful to him
for his kindness to her children, and not without concern as to
whether she should be able to procure his release as well as her own
at Algiers. For Laurence Callaghan she had no fears, since he was born
at Paris, and a naturalised French subject like her husband and his
brother; but Arthur was undoubtedly a Briton, and unless she could
pass him off as one of her suite, it would depend on the temper of the
English Consul whether he should be viewed as a subject or as a rebel,
or simply left to captivity until his Scottish relations should have
the choice of ransoming him.
She took a good deal of pains to explain the circumstances to him
as well as to all who could understand them; for though she hoped to
keep all together, and to be able to act for them herself, no one
could guess how they might be separated, and she could not shake off
that foreboding of misfortune which had haunted her from the first.
The kingdom of Algiers was, she told them, tributary to the Turkish
Sultan, who kept a guard of Janissaries there, from among whom they
themselves elected the Dey. He was supposed to govern by the consent
of a divan, but was practically as despotic as any Eastern sovereign;
and the Aga of the Janissaries was next in authority to him. Piracy
on the Mediterranean was, as all knew, the chief occupation of the
Turks and Moors of any spirit or enterprise, a Turk being in authority
in each vessel to secure that the Sultan had his share, and that the
capture was so conducted as not to involve Turkey in dangerous wars
with European powers. Capture by the Moors had for several centuries
been one of the ordinary contingencies of a voyage, and the misfortune
that had happened to the party was not at all an unusual one.
In 1687, however, the nuisance had grown to such a height that
Admiral Du Quesne bombarded the town of Algiers, and destroyed all the
fortifications, peace being only granted on condition that a French
Consul should reside at Algiers, and that French ships and subjects
should be exempt from this violence of the corsairs.
The like treaties existed with the English, but had been very
little heeded by the Algerines till recently, when the possession of
Gibraltar and Minorca had provided harbours for British ships, which
exercised a salutary supervision over these Southern sea-kings. The
last Dey, Baba Hali, had been a wise and prudent man, anxious to
repress outrage, and to be on good terms with the two great European
powers; but he had died in the spring of the current year, 1718, and
the temper of his successor, Mehemed, had not yet been proved.
Madame de Bourke had some trust in the Dutch Reis, renegade though
he was. She had given him her beautiful watch, set with brilliants,
and he had taken it with a certain gruff reluctance, declaring that he
did not want it,—he was ready enough to serve her without such a toy.
Nevertheless the lady thought it well to impress on each and all,
in case of any separation or further disaster, that their appeal must
be to the French Consul, explaining minutely the forms in which it
should be made.
'I cannot tell you,' she said to Arthur, 'how great a comfort it is
to me to have with me a gentleman, one of intelligence and education
to whom I can confide my poor children. I know you will do your
utmost to protect them and restore them to their father.'
'With my very heart's blood, Madame.'
'I hope that may not be asked of you, Monsieur,' she returned with
a faint smile,—'though I fear there may be much of perplexity and
difficulty in the way before again rejoining him. You see where I
have placed our passports? My daughter knows it likewise; but in case
of their being taken from you, or any other accident happening to you,
I have written these two letters, which you had better bear about your
person. One is, as you see, to our Consul at Algiers, and may serve
as credentials; the other is to my husband, to whom I have already
written respecting you.'
'A thousand thanks, Madame,' returned Arthur. 'But I hope and
trust we may all reach M. le Comte in safety together. You yourself
said that you expected only a brief detention before he could be
communicated with, and this captain, renegade though he be, evidently
has a respect for you.'
'That is quite true,' she returned, 'and it may only be my foolish
heart that forebodes evil; nevertheless, I cannot but recollect that
c'est l'imprevu qui arrive.'
'Then, Madame, that is the very reason there should be no
misfortune,' returned Arthur.
It was on the second day after the capture of the tartane that the
sun set in a purple angry-looking bank of cloud, and the sea began to
heave in a manner which renewed the earlier distresses of the voyage
to such as were bad sailors. The sails both of the corsair and of the
tartane were taken in, and it was plain that a rough night was to be
expected. The children were lashed into their berths, and all prepared
themselves to endure. The last time Arthur saw Madame de Bourke's
face, by the light of the lamp swinging furiously from the cabin roof,
as he assisted in putting in the dead lights, it bore the same fixed
expression of fortitude and resignation as when she was preparing to
be boarded by the pirates.
He remained on deck, but it was very perilous, for the vessel was
so low in the water that the waves dashed over it so wildly that he
could hardly help being swept away. It was pitch dark, too, and the
lantern of the other vessel could only just be seen, now high above
their heads, now sinking in the trouble of the sea, while the little
tartane was lifted up as though on a mountain; and in a kind of giddy
dream, he thought of falling headlong upon her deck. Finally he found
himself falling. Was he washed overboard? No; a sharp blow showed
him that he had only fallen down the hatchway, and after lying still a
moment, he heard the voices of Lanty and Hebert, and presently they
were all tossed together by another lurch of the ship.
It was a night of miseries that seemed endless, and when a certain
amount of light appeared, and Arthur and Lanty crawled upon deck, the
tempest was unabated. They found themselves still dashed, as if their
vessel were a mere cork, on the huge waves; rushes of water coming
over them, whether from sea or sky there was no knowing, for all
seemed blended together in one mass of dark lurid gray; and where was
the Algerine ship—so lately their great enemy, now watched for as
their guide and guardian?
It was no place nor time for questions, even could they have been
heard or understood. It was scarcely possible even to be heard by one
another, and it was some time before they convinced themselves that
the large vessel had disappeared. The cable must have parted in the
night, and they were running with bare poles before the gale; the
seamanship of the man at the helm being confined to avoiding the more
direct blows of the waves, on the huge crests of which the little
tartane rode— gallantly perhaps in mariners' eyes, but very
wretchedly to the feelings of the unhappy landsmen within her.
Arthur thought of St. Paul, and remembered with dismay that it was
many days before sun or moon appeared. He managed to communicate his
recollection to Lanty, who exclaimed, 'And he was a holy man, and he
was a prisoner too. He will feel for us if any man can in this sore
strait! Sancte Paule, ora pro nobis. An' haven't I got the blessed
scapulary about me neck that will bring me through worse than this?'
The three managed to get down to tell the unfortunate inmates of
the cabin what was the state of things, and to carry them some food,
though at the expense of many falls and severe blows; and almost all
of them were too faint or nauseated to be able to swallow such food as
could survive the transport under such circumstances. Yet
high-spirited little Estelle entreated to be carried on deck, to see
what a storm was like. She had read of them so often, and wanted to
see as well as to feel. She was almost ready to cry when Arthur
assured her it was quite impossible, and her mother added a grave
order not to trouble him.
Madame de Bourke looked so exhausted by the continual buffeting and
the closeness of the cabin, and her voice was so weak, that Arthur
grieved over the impossibility of giving her any air. Julienne tried
to make her swallow some eau de vie; but the effort of steadying her
hand seemed too much for her, and after a terrible lurch of the ship,
which lodged the poor bonne in the opposite corner of the cabin, the
lady shook her head and gave up the attempt. Indeed, she seemed so
worn out that Arthur—little used to the sight of fainting—began to
fear that her forebodings of dying before she could rejoin her husband
were on the point of being realised.
However, the gale abated towards evening, and the youth himself was
so much worn out that the first respite was spent in sleep. When he
awoke, the sea was much calmer, and the eastern sun was rising in
glory over it; the Turks, with their prayer carpets in a line, were
simultaneously kneeling and bowing in prayer, with their faces turned
towards it. Lanty uttered an only too emphatic curse upon the
misbelievers, and Arthur vainly tried to make him believe that their
'Allah il Allah' was neither addressed to Mohammed nor the sun.
'Sure and if not, why did they make their obeisance to it all one
as the Persians in the big history-book Master Phelim had at school?'
'It's to the east they turn Lanty, not to the sun.'
'And what right have the haythen spalpeens to turn to the east like
''Tis to their Prophet's tomb they look, at Mecca.'
'There, an' I tould you they were no better than haythens,'
returned Lanty, 'to be praying and knocking their heads on the bare
boards—that have as much sense as they have—to a dead man's tomb.'
Arthur's Scotch mind thought the Moors might have had the best of
it in argument when he recollected Lanty's trust in his scapulary.
They tried to hold a conversation with the Reis, between lingua
Franca and the Provencal of the renegade; and they came to the
conclusion that no one had the least idea where they were, or where
they were going; the ship's compass had been broken in the boarding,
and there was no chart more available than the little map in the
beginning of Estelle's precious copy of Telemaque. The Turkish Reis
did not trouble himself about it, but squatted himself down with his
chibouque, abandoning all guidance of the ship, and letting her drift
at the will of wind and wave, or, as he said, the will of Allah. When
asked where he thought she was going, he replied with solemn
indifference, 'Kismet;' and all the survivors of the crew—for one had
been washed overboard—seemed to share his resignation.
The only thing he did seem to care for was that if the infidel
woman chose to persist in coming on deck, the canvas screen—which had
been washed overboard—should be restored. This was done, and Madame
de Bourke was assisted to a couch that had been prepared for her with
cloaks, where the air revived her a little; but she listened with a
faint smile to the assurances of Arthur, backed by Hebert, that this
abandonment to fate gave the best chance. They might either be picked
up by a Christian vessel or go ashore on a Christian coast; but Madame
de Bourke did not build much on these hopes. She knew too well what
were the habits of wreckers of all nations, to think that it would
make much difference whether they were driven on the coast of Sicily
or of Africa—'barring,' as Lanty said, 'that they should get
Christian burial in the former case.'
'We are in the hands of a good God. That at least we know,' said
the Countess. 'And He can hear us through, whether for life in
Paradise, or trial a little longer here below.'
'Like Blandina,' observed Estelle.
'Ah! my child, who knows whether trials like even that blessed
saint's may not be in reserve even for your tender age. When I think
of these miserable men, who have renounced their faith, I see what
fearful ordeals there may be for those who fall into the hands of
those unbelievers. Strong men have yielded. How may it not be with
my poor children?'
'God made Blandina brave, mamma. I will pray that He may make me
Land was in sight at last. Purple mountains rose to the south in
wild forms, looking strangely thunderous and red in the light of the
sinking sun. A bay, with rocks jutting out far into the sea, seemed
to embrace them with its arms. Soundings were made, and presently the
Reis decided on anchoring. It was a rocky coast, with cliffs
descending into the sea, covered with verdure, and the water beneath
was clear as glass.
'Have we escaped the Syrtes to fall upon AEneas' cave?' murmured
Arthur to himself.
'And if we could meet Queen Dido, or maybe Venus herself, 'twould
be no bad thing!' observed Lanty, who remembered his Virgil on
occasion. 'For there's not a drop of wather left barring eau de vie,
and if these Moors get at that, 'tis raving madmen they would be.'
'Do they know where we are?' asked Arthur.
'Sorrah a bit!' returned Lanty, 'tho' 'tis a pretty place enough.
If my old mother was here, 'tis her heart would warm to the
'Is it Calypso's Island?' whispered Ulysse to his sister.
'See, what are they doing?' cried Estelle. 'There are
people—don't you see, white specks crowding down to the water.'
There was just then a splash, and two bronzed figures were seen
setting forth from the tartane to swim to shore. The Turkish Reis had
despatched them, to ascertain whether the vessel had drifted, and who
the inhabitants might be.
A good while elapsed before one of these scouts returned. There
was a great deal of talk and gesticulating round him, and Lanty,
mingling with it, brought back word that the place was the Bay of
Golo, not far from Djigheli, and just beyond the Algerine frontier.
The people were Cabeleyzes, a wild race of savage dogs, which means
dogs according the Moors, living in the mountains, and independent of
the Dey. A considerable number rushed to the coast, armed, and in
great numbers, perceiving the tartane to be an Italian vessel, and
expecting a raid by Sicilian robbers on their cattle; but the Moors
had informed them that it was no such thing, but a prize taken in the
name of the Dey of Algiers, in which an illustrious French Bey's harem
was being conveyed to Algiers. From that city the tartane was now
about a day's sail, having been driven to the eastward of it during
the storm. 'The Turkish commander evidently does not like the
neighbourhood,' said Arthur, 'judging by his gestures.'
'Dogs and sons of dogs are the best names he has for them,'
'See! They have cut the cable! Are we not to wait for the other
man who swam ashore?'
So it was. A favourable wind was blowing, and the Reis, being by
no means certain of the disposition of the Cabeleyzes, chose to leave
them behind him as soon as possible, and make his way to Algiers,
which began to appear to his unfortunate passengers like a haven of
They were not, however, out of the bay when the wind suddenly
veered, and before the great lateen sail could be reefed, it had
almost caused the vessel to be blown over. There was a pitching and
tossing almost as violent as in the storm, and then wind and current
began carrying the tartane towards the rocky shore. The Reis called
the men to the oars, but their numbers were too few to be availing,
and in a very few minutes more the vessel was driven hopelessly
towards a mass of rocks.
Arthur, the Abbe, Hebert, and Lanty were all standing together at
the head of the vessel. The poor Abbe seemed dazed, and kept dreamily
fingering his rosary, and murmuring to himself. The other three
consulted in a low voice.
'Were it not better to have the women here on deck?' asked Arthur.
'Eh, non!' sobbed Master Hebert. 'Let not my poor mistress see
what is coming on her and her little ones!'
'Ah! and 'tis better if the innocent creatures must be drowned,
that it should be without being insensed of it till they wake in our
Lady's blessed arms,' added Lanty. 'Hark! and they are at their
But just then Victorine rushed up from below, and throwing her arms
round Lanty, cried, 'Oh! Laurent, Laurent. It is not true that it is
all over with us, is it? Oh! save me! save me!'
'And if I cannot save you, mine own heart's core, we'll die
together,' returned the poor fellow, holding her fast. 'It won't last
long, Victorine, and the saints have a hold of my scapulary.'
He had scarcely spoken when, lifted upon a wave, the tartane dashed
upon the rocks, and there was at once a horrible shivering and
crashing throughout her—a frightful mingling of shrieks and yells of
despair with the wild roar of the waves that poured over her. The
party at the head of the vessel were conscious of clinging to
something, and when the first burly-burly ceased a little they found
themselves all together against the bulwark, the vessel almost on her
beam ends, wedged into the rocks, their portion high and dry, but the
stern, where the cabin was, entirely under water.
Victorine screamed aloud, 'My lady! my poor lady.'
'I see—I see something,' cried Arthur, who had already thrown off
his coat, and in another moment he had brought up Estelle in his arms,
alive, sobbing and panting. Giving her over to the steward, he made
another dive, but then was lost sight of, and returned no more, nor
was anything to be seen of the rest. Shut up in the cabin, Madame de
Bourke, Ulysse, and the three maids must have been instantly drowned,
and none of the crew were to be seen. Maitre Hebert hold the little
girl in his arms, glad that, though living, she was only half-
conscious. Victorine, sobbing, hung heavily on Lanty, and before he
could free his hands he perceived to his dismay that the Abbe,
unassisted, was climbing down from the wreck upon the rock, scarcely
perhaps aware of his danger.
Lanty tried to put Victorine aside, and called out, 'Your
reverence, wait—Masther Phelim, wait till I come and help you.' But
the girl, frantic with terror, grappled him fast, screaming to him not
to let her go—and at the same moment a wave broke over the Abbe.
Lanty, almost wild, was ready to leap into it after him, thinking he
must be sucked back with it, but behold! he still remained clinging to
the rock. Instinct seemed to serve him, for he had stuck his knife
into the rock and was holding on by it. There seemed no foothold, and
while Lanty was deliberating how to go to his assistance, another wave
washed him off and bore him to the next rock, which was only separated
from the mainland by a channel of smoother water. He tried to catch
at a floating plank, but in vain; however, an oar next drifted towards
him, and by it he gained the land, but only to be instantly surrounded
by a mob of Cabeleyzes, who seemed to be stripping off his garments.
By this time many were swimming towards the wreck; and Estelle, who
had recovered breath and senses, looked over Hebert's shoulder at
them. 'The savages! the infidels!' she said. 'Will they kill me? or
will they try to make me renounce my faith? They shall kill me rather
than make me yield.'
'Ah! yes, my dear demoiselle, that is right. That is the only way.
It is my resolution likewise,' returned Hebert. 'God give us grace
'My mamma said so,' repeated the child. 'Is she drowned, Maitre
'She is happier than we are, my dear young lady.'
'And my little brother too! Ah! then I shall remember that they
are only sending me to them in Paradise.'
By this time the natives were near the wreck, and Estelle,
shuddering, clung closer to Hebert; but he had made up his mind what
to do. 'I must commit you to these men, Mademoiselle,' he said; 'the
water is rising—we shall perish if we remain here.'
'Ah! but it would not hurt so much to be drowned,' said Estelle,
who had made up her mind to Blandina's chair.
'I must endeavour to save you for your father, Mademoiselle, and
your poor grandmother! There! be a good child! Do not struggle.'
He had attracted the attention of some of the swimmers, and he now
flung her to them. One caught her by an arm, another by a leg, and
she was safely taken to the shore, where at once a shoe and a stocking
were taken from her, in token of her becoming a captive; but otherwise
her garments were not meddled with; in which she was happier than her
uncle, whom she found crouched up on a rock, stripped almost to the
skin, so that he shrank from her, when she sprang to his side amid the
Babel of wild men and women, who were shouting in exultation and
wonder over his big flapped hat, his soutane and bands, pointing at
his white limbs and yellow hair—or, what amazed them even more,
Estelle's light, flaxen locks, which hung soaked around her. She felt
a hand pulling them to see whether anything so strange actually grew
on her head, and she turned round to confront them with a little
gesture of defiant dignity that evidently awed them, for they kept
their hands off her, and did not interfere as she stood sentry over
her poor shivering uncle.
Lanty was by this time trying to drag Victorine over the rocks and
through the water. The poor Parisienne was very helpless, falling,
hurting herself, and screaming continually; and trebly, when a couple
of natives seized upon her, and dragged her ashore, where they
immediately snatched away her mantle and cap, pulled off her gold
chain and cross, and tore out her earrings with howls of delight.
Lanty, struggling on, was likewise pounced upon, and bereft of his
fine green and gold livery coat and waistcoat, which, though by no
means his best, and stained with the sea water, were grasped with
ecstasy, quarrelled over, and displayed in triumph. The steward had
secured a rope by which he likewise reached the shore, only to become
the prey of the savages, who instantly made prize of his watch and
purse, as well as of almost all his garments. The five unfortunate
survivors would fain have remained huddled together, but the natives
pointing to some huts on the hillside, urged them thither by the
language of shouts and blows.
'Faith and I'm not an ox,' exclaimed Lanty, as if the fellow could
have understood him, 'and is it to the shambles you're driving me?'
'Best not resist! There's nothing for it but to obey them,' said
the steward, 'and at least there will be shelter for the child.'
No objection was made to his lifting her in his arms, and he
carried her, as the party, half-drowned, nearly starved and exhausted,
stumbled on along the rocky paths which cut their feet cruelly, since
their shoes had all been taken from them. Lanty gave what help he
could to the Abbe and Victorine, who were both in a miserable plight,
but ere long he was obliged to take his turn in carrying Estelle,
whose weight had become too much for the worn out Hebert. He was
alarmed to find, on transferring her, that her head sank on his
shoulder as if in a sleep of exhaustion, which, however, shielded her
from much terror. For, as they arrived at a cluster of five or six
tents, built of clay and the branches of trees, out rushed a host of
women, children, and large fierce dogs, all making as much noise as
they were capable of. The dogs flew at the strange white forms, no
doubt utterly new to them. Victorine was severely bitten, and Lanty,
trying to rescue her, had his leg torn.
These two were driven into one hut; Estelle, who was evidently
considered as the greatest prize, was taken into another and rather
better one, together with the steward and the Abbe. The Moors, who
had swum ashore, had probably told them that she was the Frankish
Bey's daughter; for this, miserable place though it was, appeared to
be the best hut in the hamlet, nor was she deprived of her clothes. A
sort of bournouse or haik, of coarse texture and very dirty, was given
to each of the others, and some rye cakes baked in the ashes. Poor
little Estelle turned away her head at first, but Hebert, alarmed at
her shivering in her wet clothes, contrived to make her swallow a
little, and then took off the soaked dress, and wrapped her in the
bournouse. She was by this time almost unconscious from weariness, and
made no resistance to the unaccustomed hands, or the disgusting
coarseness and uncleanness of her wrapper, but dropped asleep the
moment he laid her down, and he applied himself to trying to dry her
clothes at a little fire of sticks that had been lighted outside the
open space, round which the huts stood.
The Abbe too had fallen asleep, as Hebert managed to assure poor
Lanty, who rushed out of the other tent, nearly naked, and
bloodstained in many places, but more concerned at his separation from
his foster- brother than at anything else that had befallen him. Men,
women, children, and dogs were all after him, supposing him to be
trying to escape, and he was seized upon and dragged back by main
force, but not before the steward had called out -
'M. l'Abbe sleeps—sleeps sound—he is not hurt! For Heaven's
sake, Laurent, be quiet—do not enrage them! It is the only hope for
him, as for Mademoiselle and the rest of us.'
Lanty, on hearing of the Abbe's safety, allowed himself to be taken
back, making himself, however, a passive dead weight on his captor's
'Arrah,' he muttered to himself, 'if ye will have me, ye shall have
the trouble of me, bad luck to you. 'Tis little like ye are to the
barbarous people St. Paul was thrown with; but then what right have I
to expect the treatment of a holy man, the like of him? If so be, I
can save that poor orphan that's left, and bring off Master Phelim
safe, and save poor Victorine from being taken for some dirty
spalpeen's wife, when he has half a dozen more to the fore—'tis
little it matters what becomes of Lanty Callaghan; they might give him
to their big brutes of dogs, and mighty lean meat they would find
So came down the first night upon the captives.
'Hold fast thy hope and Heaven will not
Forsake thee in thine hour.
Good angels will be near thee,
And evil ones will fear thee,
And Faith will give thee power.'
The whole northern coast of Africa is inhabited by a medley of
tribes, all owning a kind of subjection to the Sultan, but more in the
sense of Pope than of King. The part of the coast where the tartane
had been driven on the rocks was beneath Mount Araz, a spur of the
Atlas, and was in the possession of the Arab tribe called Cabeleyze,
which is said to mean 'the revolted.' The revolt had been from the
Algerine power, which had never been able to pursue them into the
fastnesses of the mountains, and they remained a wild independent
race, following all those Ishmaelite traditions and customs that are
innate in the blood of the Arab.
When Estelle awoke from her long sleep of exhaustion, she was
conscious of a stifling atmosphere, and moreover of the crow of a cock
in her immediate vicinity, then of a dog growling, and a lamb
beginning to bleat. She raised herself a little, and beheld, lying on
the ground around her, dark heaps with human feet protruding from
them. These were interspersed with sheep, goats, dogs, and fowls, all
seen by the yellow light of the rising sun which made its way in not
only through the doorless aperture, but through the reeds and branches
which formed the walls.
Close as the air was, she felt the chill of the morning and
shivered. At the same moment she perceived poor Maitre Hebert covering
himself as best he could with a dirty brown garment, and bending over
her with much solicitude, but making signs to make as little noise as
possible, while he whispered, 'How goes it with Mademoiselle?'
'Ah,' said Estelle, recollecting herself, 'we are shipwrecked. We
shall have to confess our faith! Where are the rest?'
'There is M. l'Abbe,' said Hebert, pointing to a white pair of the
bare feet. 'Poor Laurent and Victorine have been carried elsewhere.'
'And mamma? And my brother?'
'Ah! Mademoiselle, give the good God thanks that he has spared
them our trial.'
'Mamma! Ah, she was in the cabin when the water came in? But my
brother! I had hold of his hand, he came out with me. I saw M.
Arture swim away with him. Yes, Maitre Hebert, indeed I did.'
Hebert had not the least hope that they could be saved, but he
would not grieve the child by saying so, and his present object was to
get her dressed before any one was awake to watch, and perhaps
appropriate her upper garments. He was a fatherly old man, and she
let him help her with her fastenings, and comb out her hair with the
tiny comb in her etui. Indeed, friseurs were the rule in France, and
she was not unused to male attendants at the toilette, so that she was
not shocked at being left to his care.
For the rest, the child had always dwelt in an imaginary world, a
curious compound of the Lives of the Saints and of Telemaque. Martyrs
and heroes alike had been shipwrecked, taken captive, and tormented;
and there was a certain sense of realised day-dream about her, as if
she had become one of the number and must act up to her part. She
asked Hebert if there were a Sainte Estelle, what was the day of the
month, and if she should be placed in the Calendar if she never
complained, do what these barbarians might to her. She hoped she
should hold out, for she would like to be able to help all whom she
loved, poor papa and all. But it was hard that mamma, who was so
good, could not be a martyr too; but she was a saint in Paradise all
the same, and thus Estelle made her little prayer in hope. There was
no conceit or over confidence in the tone, though of course the poor
child little knew what she was ready to accept; but it was a spark of
the martyr's trust that gleamed in her eye, and gave her a sense of
exaltation that took off the sharpest edge of grief and fear.
By this time, however, the animals were stirring, and with them the
human beings who had lain down in their clothes. Peace was over; the
Abbe awoke, and began to call for Laurent and his clothes and his
beads; but this aroused the master of the house, who started up, and
threatening with a huge stick, roared at him what must have been
orders to be quiet.
Estelle indignantly flew between and cried, 'You shall not hurt my
The commanding gesture spoke for itself; and, besides, poor Phelim
cowered behind her with an air that caused a word and sign to pass
round, which the captives found was equivalent to innocent or
imbecile; and the Mohammedan respect and tenderness for the demented
spared him all further violence or molestation, except that he was
lost and miserable without the attentions of his foster-brother; and
indeed the shocks he had undergone seemed to have mobbed him of much
of the small degree of sense he had once possessed.
Coming into the space before the doorway, Estelle found herself the
object of universal gaze and astonishment, as her long fair hair
gleamed in the sunshine, every one coming to touch it, and even pull
it to see if it was real. She was a good deal frightened, but too
high- spirited to show it more than she could help, as the
dark-skinned, bearded men crowded round with cries of wonder. The
other two prisoners likewise appeared: Victorine looking wretchedly
ill, and hardly able to hold up her head; Lanty creeping towards the
Abbe, and trying to arrange his remnant of clothing. There was a
short respite, while the Arabs, all turning eastwards, chanted their
morning devotions with a solemnity that struck their captives. The
scene was a fine one, if there had been any heart to admire. The huts
were placed on the verge of a fine forest of chestnut and cork
trees—and beyond towered up mountain peaks in every variety of
dazzling colour—red and purple beneath, glowing red and gold where
the snowy peaks caught the morning sun, lately broken from behind
them. The slopes around were covered with rich grass, flourishing
after the summer heats, and to which the herds were now betaking
themselves, excepting such as were detained to be milked by the women,
who came pouring out of some of the other huts in dark blue garments;
and in front, still shadowed by the mountain, lay the bay, deep,
beautiful, pellucid green near the land, and shut in by fantastic and
picturesque rocks—some bare, some clothed with splendid foliage,
winter though it was—while beyond lay the exquisite blue stretching
to the horizon. Little recked the poor prisoners of the scene so
fair; they only saw the remnant of the wreck below, the sea that
parted them from hope, the savage rocks behind, the barbarous people
around, the squalor and dirt of the adowara, as the hamlet was called.
Comparatively, the Moor who had swum ashore to reconnoitre seemed
like a friend when he came forward and saluted Estelle and the Abbe
respectfully. Moreover the lingua Franca Lanty had picked up
established a very imperfect double system of interpretation by the
help of many gestures. This was Lanty's explanation to the rest: in
French, of course, but, like all his speech, Irish-English in
'This Moor, Hassan, wants to stand our friend in his own fashion,
but he says they care not the value of an empty mussel-shell for the
French, and no more for the Dey of Algiers than I do for the Elector
of Hanover. He has told them that M. l'Abbe and Mademoiselle are
brother and daughter to a great Bey—but it is little they care for
that. Holy Virgin, they took Mademoiselle for a boy! That is why
they are gazing at her so impudently. Would that I could give them a
taste of my cane! Do you see those broken walls, and a bit of a castle
on yonder headland jutting out into the sea? They are bidding Hassan
say that the French built that, and garrisoned it with the help of the
Dey; but there fell out a war, and these fellows, or their fathers,
surprised it, sacked it, and carried off four hundred prisoners into
slavery. Holy Mother defend us! Here are all the rogues coming to
see what they will do with us!'
For the open space in front of the huts, whence all the animals had
now been driven, was becoming thronged with figures with the haik laid
over their heads, spear or blunderbuss in hand, fine bearing, and
sometimes truculent, though handsome, browse countenances. They gazed
at the captives, and uttered what sounded like loud hurrahs or shouts;
but after listening to Hassan, Lanty turned round trembling. 'The
miserables! Some are for sacrificing us outright on the spot, but
this decent man declares that he will make them sensible that their
prophet was not out-and-out as bad as that. Never you fear,
'I am not afraid,' said Estelle, drawing up her head. 'We shall be
Lanty was engaged in listening to a moan from his foster-brother
for food, and Hebert joined in observing that they might as well be
sacrificed as starved to death; whereupon the Irishman's words and
gesticulations induced the Moor to make representations which resulted
in some dry pieces of samh cake, a few dates, and a gourd of water
being brought by one of the women; a scanty amount for the number,
even though poor Victorine was too ill to touch anything but the
water; while the Abbe seemed unable to understand that the servants
durst not demand anything better, and devoured her share and a quarter
of Lanty's as well as his own. Meantime the Cabeleyzes had all ranged
themselves in rows, cross-legged on the ground, opposite to the five
unfortunate captives, to sit in judgment on them. As they kept
together in one group, happily in the shade of a hut, Victorine, too
faint and sick fully to know what was going on, lay with her head on
the lap of her young mistress, who sat with her bright and strangely
fearless eyes confronting the wild figures opposite.
Her uncle, frightened, though not comprehending the extent of his
danger, crouched behind Lanty, who with Hebert stood somewhat in
advance, the would-be guardians of the more helpless ones.
There was an immense amount of deafening shrieking and
gesticulating among the Arabs. Hassan was responding, and finally
turned to Lanty, when the anxious watchers could perceive signs as if
of paying down coin made interrogatively. 'Promise them anything,
everything,' cried Hebert; 'M. le Comte would give his last sou—so
would Madame la Marquise—to save Mademoiselle.'
'I have told him so,' said Laurence presently; 'I bade him let them
know it is little they can make of us, specially now they have
stripped us as bare as themselves, the rascals! but that their
fortunes would be made—and little they would know what to do with
them—if they would only send M. l'Abbe and Mademoiselle to Algiers
safe and sound. There! he is trying to incense them. Never fear,
Master Phelim, dear, there never was a rogue yet, black or white, or
the colour of poor Madame's frothed chocolate, who did not love gold
better than blood, unless indeed 'twas for the sweet morsel of
revenge; and these, for all their rolling eyes and screeching tongues,
have not the ghost of a quarrel with us.'
'My beads, my breviary,' sighed the Abbe. 'Get them for me,
'I wish they would end it quickly,' said Estelle. 'My head aches
so, and I want to be with mamma. Poor Victorine! yours is worse,' she
added, and soaked her handkerchief in the few drops of water left in
the gourd to lay it on the maid's forehead.
The howling and shrieking betokened consultation, but was suddenly
interrupted by some half-grown lads, who came running in with their
hands full of what Lanty recognised to his horror as garments worn by
his mistress and fellow-servants, also a big kettle and a handspike.
They pointed down to the sea, and with yells of haste and exultation
all the wild conclave started up to snatch, handle, and examine, then
began rushing headlong to the beach. Hassan's explanations were
scarcely needed to show that they were about to ransack the ship, and
he evidently took credit to himself for having induced them to spare
the prisoners in case their assistance should be requisite to gain
full possession of the plunder.
Estelle and Victorine were committed to the charge of a forbidding-
looking old hag, the mother of the sheyk of the party; the Abbe was
allowed to stray about as he pleased, but the two men were driven to
the shore by the eloquence of the club. Victorine revived enough for
a burst of tears and a sobbing cry, 'Oh, they will be killed! We
shall never see them again!'
'No,' said Estelle, with her quiet yet childlike resolution, 'they
are not going to kill any of us yet. They said so. You are so tired,
poor Victorine! Now all the hubbub is over, suppose you lie still and
sleep. My uncle,' as he roamed round her, mourning for his rosary, 'I
am afraid your beads are lost; but see here, these little round seeds,
I can pierce them if you will gather some more for me, and make you
another set. See, these will be the Aves, and here are shells in the
grass for the Paters.'
The long fibre of grass served for the string, and the sight of the
Giaour girl's employment brought round her all the female population
who had not repaired to the coast. Her first rosary was torn from her
to adorn an almost naked baby; but the Abbe began to whimper, and to
her surprise the mother restored it to him. She then made signs that
she would construct another necklace for the child, and she was
rewarded by a gourd being brought to her full of milk, which she was
able to share with her two companions, and which did something to
revive poor Victorine. Estelle was kept threading these necklaces and
bracelets all the wakeful hours of the day—for every one fell asleep
about noon—though still so jealous a watch was kept on her that she
was hardly allowed to shift her position so as to get out of the sun,
which even at that season was distressingly scorching in the middle of
Parties were continually coming up from the beach laden with spoils
of all kinds from the wreck, Lanty, Hebert, and a couple of negroes
being driven up repeatedly, so heavily burthened as to be almost bent
double. All was thrown down in a heap at the other end of the adowara,
and the old sheyk kept guard over it, allowing no one to touch it.
This went on till darkness was coming on, when, while the cattle were
being collected for the night, the prisoners were allowed an interval,
in which Hebert and Lanty told how the natives, swimming like ducks,
had torn everything out of the wreck: all the bales and boxes that
poor Maitre Hebert had secured with so much care, and many of which he
was now forced himself to open for the pleasure of these barbarians.
That, however, was not the worst. Hebert concealed from his little
lady what Lanty did not spare Victorine. 'And there—enough to melt
the heart of a stone—there lay on the beach poor Madame la Comtesse,
and all the three. Good was it for you, Victorine, my jewel, that you
were not in the cabin with them.'
'I know not,' said the dejected Victorine; 'they are better off
'You would not say so, if you had seen what I have,' said Lanty,
shuddering. 'The dogs!—they cut off Madame's poor white fingers to
get at her rings, and not with knives either, lest her blessed flesh
should defile them, they said, and her poor face was an angel's all
the time. Nay, nor that was not the worst. The villainous boys, what
must they do but pelt the poor swollen bodies with stones! Ay, well
you may scream, Victorine. We went down on our knees, Maitre Hebert
and I, to pray they might let us give them burial, but they mocked us,
and bade Hassan say they never bury dogs. I went round the steeper
path, for all the load at my back, or I should have been flying at the
throats of the cowardly vultures, and then what would have become of
Victorine trembled and wept bitterly for her companions, and then
asked if Lanty had seen the corpse of the little Chevalier.
'Not a sight of him or M. Arthur either,' returned Lanty; 'only
the ugly face of the old Turk captain and another of his crew, and
them they buried decently, being Moslem hounds like themselves; while
my poor lady that is a saint in heaven—' and he, too, shed tears of
hot grief and indignation, recovering enough to warn Victorine by no
means to let the poor young girl know of this additional horror.
There was little opportunity, for they had been appropriated by
different masters: Estelle, the Abbe, and Hebert to the sheyk, or
headman of the clan; and Lanty and Victorine to a big, strong, fierce-
looking fellow, of inferior degree but greater might.
This time Estelle was to be kept for the night among the sheyk's
women, who, though too unsophisticated to veil their faces, had a part
of the hut closed off with a screen of reeds, but quite as bare as the
outside. Hebert, who could not endure to think of her sleeping on the
ground, and saw a large heap of grass or straw provided for a little
brown cow, endeavoured to take an armful for her. Unluckily it
belonged to Lanty's master, Eyoub, who instantly flew at him in a
fury, dragged him to a log of wood, caught up an axe, and had not
Estelle's screams brought up the sheyk, with Hassan and one or two
other men, the poor Maitre d'Hotel's head would have been off. There
was a sharp altercation between the sheyk and Eyoub, while Estelle
held the faithful servant's hand, saying, 'You did it for me! Oh,
Hebert, do not make them angry again. It would be beautiful to die
for one's faith, but not for a handful of hay.'
'Ah! my dear demoiselle, what would my poor ladies say to see you
sleeping on the bare ground in a filthy hut?'
'I slept well last night,' returned Estelle; 'indeed, I do not
mind! It is only the more like the dungeon at Lyon, you know! And I
pray you, Hebert, do not get yourself killed for nothing too soon, or
else we shall not all stand out and confess together, like St.
Blandina and St. Ponticus and St Epagathius.'
'Alas, the dear child! The long names run off her tongue as glibly
as ever,' sighed Hebert, who, though determined not to forsake his
faith, by no means partook her enthusiasm for martyrdom. Hassan,
however, having explained what the purpose had been, Hebert was
pardoned, though the sheyk scornfully observed that what was good
enough for the daughters of a Hadji was good enough for the unclean
child of the Frankish infidels.
The hay might perhaps have spared a little stiffness, but it would
not have ameliorated the chief annoyances—the closeness, the dirt,
and the vermin. It was well that it was winter, or the first of these
would have been far worse, and, fortunately for Estelle, she was one
of those whom suffocating air rather lulls than rouses.
Eyoub's hovel did not rejoice in the refinement of a partition, but
his family, together with their animals, lay on the rocky floor as
best they might; and Victorine's fever came on again, so that she lay
in great misery, greeted by a growl from a great white dog whenever
she tried to relieve her restless aching limbs by the slightest
movement, or to reach one of the gourds of water laid near the
sleepers, like Saul's cruse at his pillow.
Towards morning, however, Lanty, who had been sitting with his back
against the wall, awoke from the sleep well earned by acting as a
beast of burthen. The dog growled a little, but Lanty—though his leg
still showed its teeth-marks—had made friends with it, and his hand
on its head quieted it directly, so that he was able cautiously to
hand a gourd to Victorine. The Arabs were heavy sleepers, and the two
were able to talk under their breath; as, in reply to a kind word from
Lanty, poor Victorine moaned her envy of the fate of Rosette and
Babette; and he, with something of their little mistress's spirit,
declared that he had no doubt but that 'one way or the other they
should be out of it: either get safe home, or be blessed martyrs,
without even a taste of purgatory.'
'Ah! but there's worse for me,' sighed Victorine. 'This demon
brought another to stare in my face—I know he wants to make me his
wife! Kill me first, Laurent.'
'It is I that would rather espouse you, my jewel,' returned a
'How can you talk of such things at such a moment?'
''Tis a pity M. l'Abbe is not a priest,' sighed Lanty. 'But, you
know, Victorine, who is the boy you always meant to take.'
'You need not be so sure of that,' she said, the coy coquetry not
'Come, as you said, it is no time for fooling. Give me your word
and troth to be my wife so soon as we have the good luck to come by a
Christian priest by our Lady's help, and I'll outface them all—were
it Mohammed the Prophet himself, that you are my espoused and
betrothed, and woe to him that puts a finger on you.'
'You would only get yourself killed.'
'And would not I be proud to be killed for your sake? Besides,
I'll show them cause not to kill me if I have the chance. Trust me,
Victorine, my darling—it is but a chance among these murdering
villains, but it is the only one; and, sure, if you pretended to turn
the back of your hand to me when there were plenty of Christian men to
compliment you, yet you would rather have poor Lanty than a thundering
rogue of a pagan Mohammedan.'
'I hope I shall die,' sighed poor Victorine faintly. 'It will only
be your death!'
'That is my affair,' responded Lanty. 'Come, here's daylight
coming in; reach me your hand before this canaille wakes, and here's
this good beast of a dog, and yonder grave old goat with a face like
Pere Michel's for our witnesses—and by good luck, here's a bit of
gilt wire off my shoulder-knot that I've made into a couple of rings
while I've been speaking.'
The strange betrothal had barely taken place before there was a
stir, and what was no doubt a yelling imprecation on the 'dog Giaours'
for the noise they made.
The morning began as before, with the exception that Estelle had
established a certain understanding with a little chocolate-coloured
cupid of a boy of the size of her brother, and his lesser sister, by
letting them stroke her hair, and showing them the mysteries of cat's
cradle. They shared their gourd of goat's-milk with her, but would
not let her give any to her companions. However, the Abbe had only to
hold out his hand to be fed, and the others were far too anxious to
care much about their food.
A much larger number of Cabeleyzes came streaming into the forum of
the adowara, and the prisoners were all again placed in a row, while
the new-comers passed before them, staring hard, and manifestly making
personal remarks which perhaps it was well that they did not
understand. The sheyk and Eyoub evidently regarded them as private
property, stood in front, and permitted nobody to handle them, which
was so far a comfort.
Then followed a sort of council, with much gesticulation, in which
Hassan took his share. Then, followed by the sheyk, Eyoub, and some
other headmen, he advanced, and demanded that the captives should
become true believers. This was eked out with gestures betokening
that thus they would be free, in that case; while, if they refused,
the sword and the smouldering flame were pointed to, while the whole
host loudly shouted 'Islam!'
Victorine trembled, sobbed, tried to hide herself; but Estelle
stood up, her young face lighted up, her dark eyes gleaming, as if she
were realising a daydream, as she shook her head, cried out to Lanty,
'Tell him, No—never!' and held to her breast a little cross of sticks
that she had been forming to complete her uncle's rosary. Her gesture
was understood. A man better clad than the rest, with a turban and a
broad crimson sash, rushed up to her, seized her by the hair, and
waved his scimitar over her head. The child felt herself close to her
mother. She looked up in his face with radiant eyes and a smile on her
lips. It absolutely daunted the fellow: his arm dropped, and he gazed
at her like some supernatural creature; and the sheyk, enraged at the
interference with his property, darted forth to defend it, and there
was a general wrangling.
Seconded by their interpreter, Hassan, who knew that the Koran did
not prescribe the destruction of Christians, Hebert and Lanty
endeavoured to show that their conversion was out of the question, and
that their slaughter would only be the loss of an exceedingly valuable
ransom, which would be paid if they were handed over safe and sound
and in good condition.
There was no knowing what was the effect of this, for the council
again ended in a rush to secure the remaining pillage of the wreck.
Hebert and Lanty dreaded what they might see, but to their great
relief those poor remains had disappeared. They shuddered as they
remembered the hyenas' laughs and the jackals' howls they had heard at
nightfall; but though they hoped that the sea had been merciful, they
could even have been grateful to the animals that had spared them the
sight of conscious insults.
The wreck was finally cleared, and among the fragments were found
several portions of books. These the Arabs disregarded, being too
ignorant even to read their own Koran, and yet aware of the Mohammedan
scruple which forbids the destruction of any scrap of paper lest it
should bear the name of Allah. Lanty secured the greater part of the
Abbe's breviary, and a good many pages of Estelle's beloved Telemaque;
while the steward gained possession of his writing case, and was
permitted to retain it when the Cabeleyzes, glutted with plunder, had
ascertained that it contained nothing of value to them.
After everything had been dragged up to the adowara, there ensued a
sort of auction or division of the plunder. Poor Maitre Hebert was
doomed to see the boxes and bales he had so diligently watched broken
open by these barbarians,—nay, he had to assist in their own
dissection when the secrets were too much for the Arabs. There was
the King of Spain's portrait rent from its costly setting and stamped
upon as an idolatrous image. The miniature of the Count, worn by the
poor lady, had previously shared the same fate, but that happily was
out of sight and knowledge. Here was the splendid plate, presented by
crowned heads, howled over by savages ignorant of its use. The silver
they seemed to value; but there were three precious gold cups which
the salt water had discoloured, so that they were taken for copper and
sold for a very small price to a Jew, who somehow was attracted to the
scene, 'like a raven to the slaughter,' said Lanty.
This man likewise secured some of the poor lady's store of rich
dresses, but a good many more were appropriated to make sashes for the
men, and the smaller articles, including stockings, were wound turban
fashion round the children's heads.
Lanty could not help observing, 'And if the saints are merciful to
us, and get us out of this, we shall have stories to tell that will
last our lives!' as he watched the solemn old chief smelling to the
perfumes, swallowing the rouge as splendid medicine, and finally
fingering a snuff-box, while half a dozen more crowded round to assist
in the opening, and in another moment sneezing, weeping, tingling,
dancing frantically about, vituperating the Christian's magic.
This gave Lanty an idea. A little round box lay near, which, as he
remembered, contained a Jack-in-the-box, or Polichinelle, which the
poor little Chevalier had bought at the fair at Tarascon. This he
contrived to secrete and hand to Victorine. 'Keep the secret,' he
said, 'and you will find your best guardian in that bit of a box.'
And when that very evening an Arab showed some intentions of adding
her to his harem, Victorine bethought herself of the box, and unhooked
in desperation. Up sprang Punch, long-nosed and fur-capped, right in
the bearded face.
Back the man almost fell; 'Shaitan, Shaitan!' was the cry, as the
inhabitants tumbled pell-mell out of the hovel, and Victorine and
Punch remained masters of the situation.
She heard Lanty haranguing in broken Arabic and lingua Franca, and
presently he came in, shaking with suppressed laughter. 'If ever we
get home,' said he, 'we'll make a pilgrimage to Tarascon! Blessings
on good St. Martha that put that sweet little imp in my way! The
rogues think he is the very genie that the fisherman let out of the
bottle in Mademoiselle's book of the Thousand and One Nights, and
thought to see him towering over the whole place. And a fine figure
he would be with his hook nose and long beard. They sent me to beg
you fairly to put up your little Shaitan again. I told them that
Shaitan, as they call him, is always in it when there's meddling
between an espoused pair—which is as true as though the Holy Father
at Rome had said it—and as long as they were civil, Shaitan would
rest; but if they durst molest you, there was no saying where he would
be, if once you had to let him out! To think of the virtue of that
ugly face and bit of a coil of wire!'
Meantime Hebert, having ascertained that both the Jew and Hassan
were going away, the one to Constantina, the other to Algiers, wrote,
and so did Estelle, to the Consul at Algiers, explaining their
position and entreating to be ransomed. Though only nine years old,
Estelle could write a very fair letter, and the amazement of the Arabs
was unbounded that any female creature should wield a pen. Marabouts
and merchants were known to read the Koran, but if one of the goats
had begun to write, their wonder could hardly have been greater; and
such crowds came to witness the extraordinary operation that she could
scarcely breathe or see.
It seemed to establish her in their estimation as a sort of
supernatural being, for she was always treated with more consideration
than the rest of the captives, never deprived of the clothes she wore,
and allowed to appropriate a few of the toilette necessaries that were
quite incomprehensible to those around her.
She learnt the names for bread, chestnuts, dates, milk, and water,
and these were never denied to her; and her little ingenuities in
nursery games won the goodwill of the women and children around her,
though others used to come and make ugly faces at her, and cry out at
her as an unclean thing. The Abbe was allowed to wander about at
will, and keep his Hours, with Estelle to make the responses, and
sometimes Hebert. He was the only one that might visit the other two
captives; Lanty was kept hard at work over the crop of chestnuts that
the clan had come down from their mountains to gather in; and poor
Victorine, who was consumed by a low fever, and almost too weak to
move, lay all day in the dreary and dirty hut, expecting, but dreading
Some days later there was great excitement, shouting, and rage. It
proved that the Bey of Constantina had sent to demand the party,
threatening to send an armed force to compel their surrender; but,
alas! the hope of a return to comparative civilisation was instantly
quashed, for the sheyk showed himself furious. He and Eyoub stood
brandishing their scimitars, and with eyes flashing like a panther's
in the dark, declaring that they were free, no subjects of the Dey nor
the Bey either; and that they would shed the blood of every one of the
captives rather than yield them to the dogs and sons of dogs at
This embassy only increased the jealousy with which the prisoners
were guarded. None of them were allowed to stir without a man with a
halbert, and they had the greatest difficulty in entrusting a third
letter to the Moor in command of the party. Indeed, it was only
managed by Estelle's coaxing of the little Abou Daoud, who was growing
devoted to her, and would do anything for the reward of hearing her
sing life Malbrook s'en va-t'-n guerre.
It might have been in consequence of this threat of the Bey, much
as they affected to despise it, that the Cabeleyzes prepared to return
to the heights of Mount Araz, whence they had only descended during
the autumn to find fresh pasture for their cattle, and to collect
dates and chestnuts from the forest.
'Alas!' said Hubert, 'this is worse than ever. As long as we were
near the sea, I had hope, but now all trace of us will be lost, even
if the Consul should send after us.'
'Never fear, Maitre Hubert,' said Estelle; 'you know Telemaque was
a prisoner and tamed the wild peasants in Egypt.'
'Ah! the poor demoiselle, she always seems as if she were acting a
This was happily true. Estelle seemed to be in a curious manner
borne through the dangers and discomforts of her surroundings by a
strange dreamy sense of living up to her part, sometimes as a possible
martyr, sometimes as a figure in the mythological or Arcadian romance
that had filtered into her nursery.
CHAPTER VI—A MOORISH VILLAGE
'Our laws and our worship on thee thou shalt take,
And this shalt thou first do for Zulema's sake.'
When Arthur Hope dashed back from the party on the prow of the
wrecked tartane in search of little Ulysse, he succeeded in grasping
the child, but at the same moment a huge breaker washed him off the
slipperily- sloping deck, and after a scarce conscious struggle he
found himself, still retaining his clutch of the boy, in the trough
between it and another. He was happily an expert swimmer, and holding
the little fellow's clothes in his teeth, he was able to avoid the
dash, and to rise on another wave. Then he perceived that he was no
longer near the vessel, but had been carried out to some little
distance, and his efforts only succeeded in keeping afloat, not in
approaching the shore. Happily a plank drifted so near him that he was
able to seize it and throw himself across it, thus obtaining some
support, and being able to raise the child farther above the water.
At the same time he became convinced that a strong current,
probably from a river or stream, was carrying him out to sea, away
from the bay. He saw the black heads of two or three of the Moorish
crew likewise floating on spars, and yielding themselves to the
stream, and this made him better satisfied to follow their example.
It was a sort of rest, and gave him time to recover from the first
exhaustion to convince himself that the little boy was not dead, and
to lash him to the plank with a handkerchief.
By and by—he knew not how soon—calls and shouts passed between
the Moors; only two seemed to survive, and they no longer obeyed the
direction of the current, but turned resolutely towards the land,
where Arthur dimly saw a green valley opening towards the sea. This
was a much severer effort, but by this time immediate
self-preservation had become the only thought, and happily both wind
and the very slight tide were favourable, so that, just as the sun
sank beneath the western waves, Arthur felt foothold on a sloping
beach of white sand, even as his powers became exhausted. He
struggled up out of reach of the sea, and then sank down, exhausted
His first impression was of cries and shrieks round him, as he
gasped and panted, then saw as in a dream forms flitting round him,
and then— feeling for the child and missing him—he raised himself in
consternation, and the movement was greeted by fresh unintelligible
exclamations, while a not unkindly hand lifted him up. It belonged to
a man in a sort of loose white garment and drawers, with a thin dark-
bearded face; and Arthur, recollecting that the Spanish word nino
passed current for child in lingua Franca, uttered it with an accent
of despairing anxiety. He was answered with a volley of words that he
only understood to be in a consoling tone, and the speaker pointed
inland. Various persons, among whom Arthur saw his recent shipmates,
seemed to be going in that direction, and he obeyed his guide, though
scarcely able to move from exhaustion and cold, the garments he had
retained clinging about him. Some one, however, ran down towards him
with a vessel containing a draught of sour milk. This revived him
enough to see clearly and follow his guides. After walking a
distance, which appeared to him most laborious, he found himself
entering a sort of village, and was ushered through a courtyard into a
kind of room. In the centre a fire was burning; several figures were
busy round it, and in another moment he perceived that they were
rubbing, chafing, and otherwise restoring his little companion.
Indeed Ulysse had just recovered enough to be terribly frightened,
and as his friend's voice answered his screams, he sprang from the
kind brown hands, and, darting on Arthur, clung to him with face
hidden on his shoulder. The women who had been attending to him fell
back as the white stranger entered, and almost instantly dry clothes
were brought, and while Arthur was warming himself and putting them
on, a little table about a foot high was set, the contents of a
cauldron of a kind of soup which had been suspended over the fire were
poured into a large round green crock, and in which all were expected
to dip their spoons and fingers. Little Ulysse was exceedingly
amazed, and observed that ces gens were not bien eleves to eat out of
the dish; but he was too hungry to make any objection to being fed
with the wooden spoon that had been handed to Arthur; and when the
warm soup, and the meat floating in it, had refreshed them, signs were
made to them to lie down on a mat within an open door, and both were
worn out enough to sleep soundly.
It was daylight when Arthur was awakened by poor little Ulysse
sitting up and crying out for his bonne, his mother, and sister, 'Oh!
take me to them,' he cried; 'I do not like this dark place.'
For dark the room was, being windowless, though the golden sunlight
could be seen beyond the open doorway, which was under a sort of
cloister or verandah overhung by some climbing plant. Arthur,
collecting himself, reminded the child how the waves had borne them
away from the rest, with earnest soothing promises of care, and
endeavouring to get back to the rest. 'Say your prayers that God will
take care of you and bring you back to your sister,' Arthur added, for
he did not think it possible that the child's mother should have been
saved from the waves; and his heart throbbed at thoughts of his
promise to the poor lady.
'But I want my bonne,' sighed Ulysse; 'I want my clothes. This is
an ugly robe de nuit, and there is no bed.'
'Perhaps we can find your clothes,' said Arthur. 'They were too
wet to be kept on last night.'
So they emerged into the court, which had a kind of farmyard
appearance; women with rows of coins hanging over their brows were
milking cows and goats, and there was a continuous confusion of sound
of their voices, and the lowing and bleating of cattle. At the
appearance of Arthur and the boy, there was a general shout, and
people seemed to throng in to gaze at them, the men handsome, stately,
and bearded, with white full drawers, and a bournouse laid so as first
to form a flat hood over the head, and then belted in at the waist,
with a more or less handsome sash, into which were stuck a spoon and
knife, and in some cases one or two pistols. They did not seem
ill-disposed, though their language was perfectly incomprehensible.
Ulysse's clothes were lying dried by the hearth and no objection was
made to his resuming them. Arthur made gestures of washing or
bathing, and was conducted outside the court, to a little stream of
pure water descending rapidly to the sea. It was so cold that Ulysse
screamed at the touch, as Arthur, with more spectators than he could
have desired, did his best to perform their toilettes. He had
divested himself of most of his own garments for the convenience of
swimming, but his pockets were left and a comb in them; and though
poor Mademoiselle Julienne would have been shocked at the result of
his efforts, and the little silken laced suit was sadly tarnished with
sea water, Ulysse became such an astonishing sight that the children
danced round him, the women screamed with wonder, and the men said
'Mashallah!' The young Scotsman's height was perhaps equally amazing,
for he saw them pointing up to his head as if measuring his stature.
He saw that he was in a village of low houses, with walls of unhewn
stone, enclosing yards, and set in the midst of fruit-trees and
gardens. Though so far on in the autumn there was a rich luxuriant
appearance; roots and fruits, corn and flax, were laid out to dry, and
girls and boys were driving the cattle out to pasture. He could not
doubt that he had landed among a settled and not utterly uncivilised
people, but he was too spent and weary to exert himself, or even to
care for much beyond present safety; and had no sooner returned to his
former quarters, and shared with Ulysse a bowl of curds, than they
both feel asleep again in the shade of the gourd plant trained on a
trellised roof over the wall.
When he next awoke, Ulysse was very happily at play with some
little brown children, as if the sports of childhood defied the curse
of Babel, and a sailor from the tartane was being greeted by the
master of the house. Arthur hoped that some communication would now
be possible, but, unfortunately, the man knew very little of the
lingua Franca of the Mediterranean, and Arthur knew still less.
However, he made out that he was the only one of the shipwrecked crew
who had managed to reach the land, and that this was a village of
Moors—settled agricultural Moors, not Arabs, good Moslems—who would
do him no harm. This, and he pointed to a fine-looking elderly man,
was the sheyk of the village, Abou Ben Zegri, and if the young Giaours
would conform to the true faith all would be salem with them. Arthur
shook his head, and tried by word and sign to indicate his anxiety for
the rest of his companions. The sailor threw up his hands, and
pointed towards the sea, to show that he believed them to be all lost;
but Arthur insisted that five—marking them off on his fingers—were
on gebal, a rock, and emphatically indicated his desire of reaching
them. The Moor returned the word 'Cabeleyzes,' with gestures
signifying throat-cutting and slavery, also that these present hosts
regarded them as banditti. How far off they were it was not possible
to make out, for of course Arthur's own sensations were no guide; but
he knew that the wreck had taken place early in the afternoon, and
that he had come on shore in the dusk, which was then at about five
o'clock. There was certainly a promontory, made by the ridge of a
hill, and also a river between him and any survivors there might be.
This was all that he could gather, and he was not sure of even thus
much, but he was still too much wearied and battered for any exertion
of thought or even anxiety. Three days' tempest in a cockle-shell of
a ship, and then three hours' tossing on a plank, had left him little
but the desire of repose, and the Moors were merciful and let him
alone. It was a beautiful place—that he already knew. A Scot, and
used to the sea-coast, his eye felt at home as it ranged to the grand
heights in the dim distance, with winter caps of snow, and shaded in
the most gorgeous tints of colouring forests beneath, slopes covered
with the exquisite green of young wheat. Autumn though it was, the
orange- trees, laden with fruit, the cork-trees, ilexes, and
fan-palms, gave plenty of greenery, shading the gardens with prickly
pear hedges; and though many of the fruit-trees had lost their leaves,
fig, peach, and olive, and mulberry, caper plants, vines with foliage
of every tint of red and purple, which were trained over the trellised
courts of the houses, made everything have a look of rural plenty and
peace, most unlike all that Arthur had ever heard or imagined of the
Moors, who, as he owned to himself, were certainly not all savage
pirates and slave- drivers. The whole within was surrounded by a
stone wall, with a deep horse-shoe-arched gateway, the fields and
pastures lying beyond with some more slightly-walled enclosures meant
for the protection of the flocks and herds at night.
He saw various arts going on. One man was working in iron over a
little charcoal fire, with a boy to blow up his bellows, and several
more were busied over some pottery, while the women alternated their
grinding between two mill stones, and other domestic cares, with
spinning, weaving, and beautiful embroidery. To Arthur, who looked
on, with no one to speak to except little Ulysse, it was strangely
like seeing the life of the Israelites in the Old Testament when they
dwelt under their own vines and fig-trees—like reading a chapter in
the Bible, as he said to himself, as again and again he saw some
allusion to Eastern customs illustrated. He was still more
struck—when, after the various herds of kine, sheep, and goats, with
one camel, several asses, and a few slender-limbed Barbary horses had
been driven in for the night—by the sight of the population, as the
sun sank behind the mountains, all suspending whatever they were
about, spreading their prayer carpets, turning eastwards, performing
their ablutions, and uttering their brief prayer with one voice so
devoutly that he was almost struck with awe.
'Are they saying their prayers?' whispered Ulysse, startled by the
instant change in his play-fellows, and as Arthur acquiesced, 'Then
they are good.'
'If it were the true faith,' said Arthur, thinking of the wide
difference between this little fellow and Estelle; but though not two
years younger, Ulysse was far more childish than his sister, and when
she was no longer present to lead him with her enthusiasm, sank at
once to his own level. He opened wide his eyes at Arthur's reply, and
said, 'I do not see their idols.'
'They have none,' said Arthur, who could not help thinking that
Ulysse might look nearer home for idols—but chiefly concerned at the
moment to keep the child quiet, lest he should bring danger on them by
They were sitting in the embowered porch of the sheyk's court when,
a few seconds after the villagers had risen up from their prayer, they
saw a figure enter at the village gateway, and the sheyk rise and go
forward. There were low bending in salutation, hands placed on the
breast, then kisses exchanged, after which the Sheyk Abou Ben Zegri
went out with the stranger, and great excitement and pleasure seemed
to prevail among the villagers, especially the women. Arthur heard
the word 'Yusuf' often repeated, and by the time darkness had fallen
on the village, the sheyk ushered the guest into his court, bringing
with him a donkey with some especially precious load—which was
removed; after which the supper was served as before in the large low
apartment, with a handsomely tiled floor, and an opening in the roof
for the issue of the smoke from the fire, which became agreeable in
the evening at this season. Before supper, however, the stranger's
feet and hands were washed by a black slave in Eastern fashion; and
then all, as before, sat on mats or cushions round the central bowl,
each being furnished with a spoon and thin flat soft piece of bread to
dip into the mess of stewed kid, flakes of which might be extracted
with the fingers.
The women, who had fastened a piece of linen across their faces,
ran about and waited on the guests, who included three or four of the
principal men of the village, as well as the stranger, who, as Arthur
observed, was not of the uniform brown of the rest, but had some
colour in his cheeks, light eyes, and a ruddy beard, and also was of a
larger frame than these Moors, who, though graceful, lithe, and
exceedingly stately and dignified, hardly reached above young Hope's
own shoulder. Conversation was going on all the time, and Arthur soon
perceived that he was the subject of it. As soon as the meal was
over, the new-comer addressed him, to his great joy, in French. It
was the worst French imaginable—perhaps more correctly lingua Franca,
with a French instead of an Arabic foundation, but it was more
comprehensible than that of the Moorish sailor, and bore some relation
to a civilised language; besides which there was something
indescribably familiar in the tone of voice, although Arthur's good
French often missed of being comprehended.
'Son of a great man? Ambassador, French!' The greatness seemed
impressed, but whether ambassador was understood was another thing,
though it was accepted as relating to the boy.
'Secretary to the Ambassador' seemed to be an equal problem. The
man shook his head, but he took in better the story of the wreck,
though, like the sailor, he shook his head over the chance of there
being any survivors, and utterly negatived the idea of joining them.
The great point that Arthur tried to convey was that there would be a
very considerable ransom if the child could be conveyed to Algiers,
and he endeavoured to persuade the stranger, who was evidently a sort
of travelling merchant, and, as he began to suspect, a renegade, to
convey them thither; but he only got shakes of the head as answers,
and something to the effect that they were a good deal out of the
Dey's reach in those parts, together with what he feared was an
intimation that they were altogether in the power of Sheyk Abou Ben
They were interrupted by a servant of the merchant, who came to
bring him some message as well as a pipe and tobacco. The pipe was
carried by a negro boy, at sight of whom Ulysse gave a cry of ecstasy,
'Juba! Juba! Grandmother's Juba! Why do not you speak to me?' as the
little black, no bigger than Ulysse himself, grinned with all his
white teeth, quite uncomprehending.
'Ah! my poor laddie,' exclaimed Arthur in his native tongue, which
he often used with the boy, 'it is only another negro. You are far
enough from home.'
The words had an astonishing effect on the merchant. He turned
round with the exclamation, 'Ye'll be frae Scotland!'
'And so are you!' cried Arthur, holding out his hand.
'Tak tent, tak tent,' said the merchant hastily, yet with a certain
hesitation, as though speaking a long unfamiliar tongue. 'The loons
might jalouse our being overfriendly thegither.'
Then he returned to the sheyk, to whom he seemed to be making
explanations, and presenting some of his tobacco, which probably was
of a superior quality in preparation to what was grown in the village.
They solemnly smoked together and conversed, while Arthur watched them
anxiously, relieved that he had found an interpreter, but very
doubtful whether a renegade could be a friend, even though he were
indeed a fellow-countryman.
It was not till several pipes had been consumed, and the village
worthies had, with considerable ceremony, taken leave, that the
merchant again spoke to Arthur. 'I'll see ye the morn; I hae tell'd
the sheyk we are frae the same parts. Maybe I can serve you, if ye
ken what's for your guid, but I canna say mair the noo.'
The sheyk escorted him out of the court, for he slept in one of the
two striped horse-hair tents, which had been spread within the
enclosures belonging to the village, around which were tethered the
mules and asses that carried his wares. Arthur meanwhile arranged his
little charge for the night.
He felt that among these enemies to their faith he must do what was
in his power to keep up that of the child, and not allow his prayers
to be neglected; but not being able to repeat the Latin forms, and
thinking them unprofitable to the boy himself, he prompted the saying
of the Creed and Lord's Prayer in English, and caused them to be
repeated after him, though very sleepily and imperfectly.
All the men of the establishment seemed to take their night's rest
on a mat, wrapped in a bournouse, wherever they chanced to find
themselves, provided it was under shelter; the women in some
penetralia beyond a doorway, though they were not otherwise secluded,
and only partially veiled their faces at sight of a stranger. Arthur
had by this time made out that the sheyk, who was a very handsome man
over middle-age, seemed to have two wives; one probably of his own
age, and though withered up into a brown old mummy, evidently the
ruler at home, wearing the most ornaments, and issuing her orders in a
shrill, cracked tone. There was a much younger and handsome one, the
mother apparently of two or three little girls from ten or twelve
years old to five, and there was a mere girl, with beautiful
melancholy gazelle-like eyes, and a baby in her arms. She wore no
ornaments, but did not seem to be classed with the slaves who ran
about at the commands of the elder dame.
However, his own position was a matter of much more anxious care,
although he had more hope of discovering what it really was.
He had, however, to be patient. The sunrise orisons were no sooner
paid than there was a continual resort to the tent of the merchant,
who was found sitting there calmly smoking his long pipe, and ready to
offer the like, also a cup of coffee, to all who came to traffic with
him. He seemed to have a miscellaneous stock of coffee, tobacco,
pipes, preparations of sugar, ornaments in gold and silver, jewellery,
charms, pistols, and a host of other articles in stock, and to be
ready to purchase or barter these for the wax, embroidered
handkerchiefs, yarn, and other productions and manufactures of the
place. Not a single purchase could be made on either side without a
tremendous haggling, shouting, and gesticulating, as if the parties
were on the verge of coming to blows; whereas all was in good
fellowship, and a pleasing excitement and diversion where time was of
no value to anybody. Arthur began to despair of ever gaining
attention. He was allowed to wander about as he pleased within the
village gates, and Ulysse was apparently quite happy with the little
children, who were beautiful and active, although kept dirty and
ragged as a protection from the evil eye.
Somehow the engrossing occupation of every one, especially of the
only two creatures with whom he could converse, made Arthur more
desolate than ever. He lay down under an ilex, and his heart ached
with a sick longing he had not experienced since he had been with the
Nithsdales, for his mother and his home—the tall narrow-gabled house
that had sprung up close to the grim old peel tower, the smell of the
sea, the tinkling of the burn. He fell asleep in the heat of the day,
and it was to him as if he were once more sitting by the old shepherd
on the braeside, hearing him tell the old tales of Johnnie Armstrong
or Willie o' the wudspurs.
Actually a Scottish voice was in his ears, as he looked up and saw
the turbaned head of Yusuf the merchant bending over him, and
saying—'Wake up, my bonny laddie; we can hae our crack in peace while
these folks are taking their noonday sleep. Awed, and where are ye
frae, and how do you ca' yersel'?'
'I am from Berwickshire,' responded the youth, and as the man
started— 'My name is Arthur Maxwell Hope of Burnside.'
'Eh! No a son of auld Sir Davie?'
'His youngest son.'
The man clasped his hands, and uttered a strange sound as if in the
extremity of amazement, and there was a curious unconscious change of
tone, as he said—'Sir Davie's son! Ye'll never have heard tell of
Partan Jeannie?' he added.
'A very old fishwife,' said Arthur, 'who used to come her rounds to
our door? Was she of kin to you?'
'My mither, sir. Mony's the time I hae peepit out on the cuddie's
back between the creels at the door of the braw house of Burnside, and
mony's the bannock and cookie the gude lady gied me. My minnie'll no
be living thae noo,' he added, not very tenderly.
'I should fear not,' said Arthur. 'I had not seen or heard of her
for some time before I left home, and that is now three years since.
She looked very old then, and I remember my mother saying she was not
fit to come her rounds.'
'She wasna that auld,' returned the merchant gravely; 'but she had
led sic a life as falls to the lot of nae wife in this country.'
Arthur had almost said, 'Whose fault was that?' but he durst not
offend a possible protector, and softened his words into, 'It is
strange to find you here, and a Mohammedan too.'
'Hoots, Maister Arthur, let that flea stick by the wa'. We maun do
at Rome as Rome does, as ye'll soon find'—and disregarding Arthur's
exclamation—'and the bit bairn, I thocht ye said he was no Scot, when
I was daundering awa' at the French yestreen.'
'No, he is half-Irish, half-French, eldest son of Count Burke, a
good Jacobite, who got into trouble with the Prince of Orange, and is
high in the French service.'
'And what gars your father's son to be secretaire, as ye ca'd it,
to Frenchman or Irishman either?'
'Well, it was my own fault. I was foolish enough to run away from
school to join the rising for our own King's—'
'Eh, sirs! And has there been a rising on the Border side against
the English pock puddings? Oh, gin I had kenned it!'
Yusuf's knowledge of English politics had been dim at the best, and
he had apparently left Scotland before even Queen Anne was on the
throne. When he understood Arthur's story, he communicated his own.
He had been engaged in a serious brawl with some English fishers, and
in fear of the consequences had fled from Eyemouth, and after casting
about as a common sailor in various merchant ships, had been captured
by a Moorish vessel, and had found it expedient to purchase his
freedom by conversion to Islam, after which his Scottish shrewdness
and thrift had resulted in his becoming a prosperous itinerant
merchant, with his headquarters at Bona. He expressed himself willing
and anxious to do all he could for his young countryman; but it would
be almost impossible to do so unless Arthur would accept the religion
of his captors; and he explained that the two boys were the absolute
property of the tribe, who had discovered and rescued them when going
to the seashore to gather kelp for the glass work practised by the
Moors in their little furnaces.
'Forsake my religion? Never!' cried Arthur indignantly.
'Saftly, saftly,' said Yusuf; 'nae doot ye trow as I did that they
are a' mere pagans and savage heathens, worshipping Baal and
Ashtaroth, but I fand myself quite mista'en. They hae no idols, and
girn at the blinded Papists as muckle as auld Deacon Shortcoats
'I know that,' threw in Arthur.
'Ay, and they are a hantle mair pious and devout than ever a body I
hae seen in Eyemouth, or a' the country side to boot; forbye, my
minnie's auld auntie, that sat graning by the ingle, and ay banned us
when we came ben. The meneester himsel' dinna gae about blessing and
praying over ilka sma' matter like the meenest of us here, and for a'
the din they make at hame about the honorable Sabbath, wha thinks of
praying five times the day? While as for being the waur for liquor,
these folks kenna the very taste of it. Put yon sheyk down on the
wharf at Eyemouth, and what wad he say to the Christian folk there?'
A shock of conviction passed over Arthur, though he tried to lose
it in indignant defence; but Yusuf did not venture to stay any longer
with him, and bidding him think over what had been said, since slavery
or Islam were the only alternatives, returned to the tents of
First thoughts with the youth had of course been of horror at the
bare idea of apostacy, and yet as he watched his Moorish hosts, he
could not but own to himself that he never had dreamt that to be among
them would be so like dwelling under the oak of Mamre, in the tents of
Abraham. From what he remembered of Partan Jeannie's reputation as a
being only tolerated and assisted by his mother, on account of her
extreme misery and destitution, he could believe that the
ne'er-do-weel son, who must have forsaken her before he himself was
born, might have really been raised in morality by association with
the grave, faithful, and temperate followers of Mohammed, rather than
the scum of the port of Eyemouth.
For himself and the boy, what did slavery mean? He hoped to
understand better from Yusuf, and at any rate to persuade the man to
become the medium of communication with the outside world, beyond that
'dissociable ocean,' over which his wistful gaze wandered. Then the
ransom of the little Chevalier de Bourke would be certain, and, if
there were any gratitude in the world, his own. But how long would
this take, and what might befall them in the meantime?
Ulysse all this time seemed perfectly happy with the small Moors,
who all romped together without distinction of rank, of master, slave
or colour, for Yusuf's little negro was freely received among them.
At night, however, Ulysse's old home self seemed to revive; he crept
back to Arthur, tired and weary, fretting for mother, sister, and
home; and even after he had fallen asleep, waking again to cry for
Julienne. Poor Arthur, he was a rough nurse, but pity kept him
patient, and he was even glad to see that the child had not forgotten
Meantime, ever since the sunset prayer, there had been smoking of
pipes and drinking of coffee, and earnest discussion between the sheyk
and the merchant, and by and by Yusuf came and sat himself down by
Arthur, smiling a little at the young man's difficulty in disposing of
those long legs upon the ground.
'Ye'll have to learn this and other things, sir,' said he, as he
crossed his own under him, Eastern fashion; but his demeanour was on
the whole that of the fisher to the laird's son, and he evidently
thought that he had a grand proposal to make, for which Master Arthur
ought to be infinitely obliged.
He explained to Arthur that Sheyk Abou Ben Zegri had never had more
than two sons, and that both had been killed the year before in trying
to recover their cattle from the Cabeleyzes, 'a sort of Hieland
The girl whom Arthur had noticed was the widow of the elder of the
two, and the child was only a daughter. The sheyk had been much
impressed by Arthur's exploit in swimming or floating round the
headland and saving the child, and regarded his height as something
gigantic. Moreover, Yusuf had asserted that he was son to a great Bey
in his own country, and in consequence Abou Ben Zegri was willing to
adopt him as his son, provided he would embrace the true faith, and
marry Ayesha, the widow.
'And,' said Yusuf, 'these women are no that ill for wives, as I ken
owre weel'—and he sighed. 'I had as gude and douce a wee wifie at
Bona as heart culd wish, and twa bonny bairnies; but when I cam' back
frae my rounds, the plague had been there before me. They were a'
gone, even Ali, that had just began to ca' me Ab, Ab, and I hae never
had heart to gang back to the town house. She was a gude wife—nae
flying, nae rampauging. She wad hae died wi' shame to be likened to
thae randy wives at hame. Ye might do waur than tak' such a fair
offer, Maister Arthur.'
'You mean it all kindly,' said Arthur, touched; 'but for
nothing—no, for nothing, can a Christian deny his Lord, or yield up
his hopes for hereafter.'
'As for that,' returned Yusuf, 'the meneester and Beacon
Shortcoats, and my auld auntie, and the lave of them, aye ca'ed me a
vessel of destruction. That was the best name they had for puir Tam.
So what odds culd it mak, if I took up with the Prophet, and I was
ower lang leggit to row in a galley? Forbye, here they say that a man
who prays and gies awmous, and keeps frae wine, is sicker to win to
Paradise and a' the houris. I had rather it war my puir Zorah than
any strange houri of them a'; but any way, I hae been a better man
sin' I took up wi' them than ever I was as a cursing, swearing,
drunken, fechting sailor lad wha feared neither God nor devil.'
'That was scarce the fault of the Christian faith,' said Arthur.
'Aweel, the first answer in the Shorter Carritch was a' they ever
garred me learn, and that is what we here say of Allah. I see no
muckle to choose, and I KEN ane thing,—it is a hell on earth at ance
gin ye gang not alang wi' them. And that's sicker, as ye'll find to
your cost, sir, gin ye be na the better guided.'
'With hope, infinite hope beyond,' said Arthur, trying to fortify
himself. 'No, I cannot, cannot deny my Lord—my Lord that bought me!'
'We own Issa Ben Mariam for a Prophet,' said Yusuf.
'But He is my only Master, my Redeemer, and God. No, come what
may, I can never renounce Him,' said Arthur with vehemence.
'Wed, awed,' said Yusuf, 'maybe ye'll see in time what's for your
gude. I'll tell the sheyk it would misbecome your father's son to do
sic a deed owre lichtly, and strive to gar him wait while I am in
these parts to get your word, and nae doot it will be wiselike at the
CHAPTER VII—MASTER AND SLAVE
'I only heard the reckless waters roar,
Those waves that would not hear me from the shore;
I only marked the glorious sun and sky
Too bright, too blue for my captivity,
And felt that all which Freedom's bosom cheers,
Must break my chain before it dried my tears.'
BYRON (The Corsair).
At the rate at which the traffic in Yusuf's tent proceeded, Arthur
Hope was likely to have some little time for deliberation on the
question presented to him whether to be a free Moslem sheyk or a
Not only had almost every household in El Arnieh to chaffer with
the merchant for his wares and to dispose of home-made commodities,
but from other adowaras and from hill-farms Moors and Cabyles came in
with their produce of wax, wool or silk, to barter—if not with Yusuf,
with the inhabitants of El Arnieh, who could weave and embroider,
forge cutlery, and make glass from the raw material these supplied.
Other Cabyles, divers from the coast, came up, with coral and
sponges, the latter of which was the article in which Yusuf preferred
to deal, though nothing came amiss to him that he could carry, or that
could carry itself—such as a young foal; even the little black boy
had been taken on speculation—and so indeed had the big Abyssinian,
who, though dumb, was the most useful, ready, and alert of his five
slaves. Every bargain seemed to occupy at least an hour, and perhaps
Yusuf lingered the longer in order to give Arthur more time for
consideration; or it might be that his native tongue, once heard,
exercised an irresistible fascination over him. He never failed to
have what he called a 'crack' with his young countryman at the hour of
the siesta, or at night, perhaps persuading the sheyk that it was
controversial, though it was more apt to be on circumstances of the
day's trade or the news of the Border-side. Controversy indeed there
could be little with one so ignorant as kirk treatment in that century
was apt to leave the outcasts of society, nor had conversion to Islam
given him much instruction in its tenets; so that the conversation
generally was on earthly topics, though it always ended in assurances
that Master Arthur would suffer for it if he did not perceive what was
for his good. To which Arthur replied to the effect that he must
suffer rather than deny his faith; and Yusuf, declaring that a wilful
man maun have his way, and that he would rue it too late, went off
affronted, but always returned to the charge at the next opportunity.
Meantime Arthur was free to wander about unmolested and pick up the
language, in which, however, Ulysse made far more rapid progress, and
could be heard chattering away as fast, if not as correctly, as if it
were French or English. The delicious climate and the open-air life
were filling the little fellow with a strength and vigour unknown to
him in a Parisian salon, and he was in the highest spirits among his
brown playfellows, ceasing to pine for his mother and sister; and
though he still came to Arthur for the night, or in any trouble, it
was more and more difficult to get him to submit to be washed and
dressed in his tight European clothes, or to say his prayers. He was
always sleepy at night and volatile in the morning, and could not be
got to listen to the little instructions with which Arthur tried to
arm him against Mohammedanism into which the poor little fellow was
likely to drift as ignorantly and unconsciously as Yusuf himself.
And what was the alternative? Arthur himself never wavered, nor
indeed actually felt that he had a choice; but the prospect before him
was gloomy, and Yusuf did not soften it. The sheyk would sell him,
and he would either be made to work in some mountain-farm, or put on
board a galley; and Yusuf had sufficient experience of the horrors of
the latter to assure him emphatically that the gude leddy of Burnside
would break her heart to think of her bonny laddie there.
'It would more surely break her heart to think of her son giving up
his faith,' returned Arthur.
As to the child, the opinion of the tribe seemed to be that he was
just fit to be sent to the Sultan to be bred as a Janissary. 'He will
come that gate to be as great a man as in his ain countree,' said
Yusuf; 'wi' horse to ride, and sword to bear, and braws to wear, like
King Solomon in all his glory.'
'While his father and mother would far rather he were lying dead
with her under the waves in that cruel bay,' returned Arthur.
'Hout, mon, ye dinna ken what's for his gude, nor for your ain
neither,' retorted Yusuf.
'Good here is not good hereafter.'
'The life of a dog and waur here,' muttered Yusuf; 'ye'll mind me
when it is too late.'
'Nay, Yusuf, if you will only take word of our condition to
Algiers, we shall—at least the boy—be assuredly redeemed, and you
would win a high reward.'
'I am no free to gang to Algiers,' said Yusuf. 'I fell out with a
loon there, one of those Janissaries that gang hectoring aboot as
though the world were not gude enough for them, and if I hadna made
the best of my way out of the toon, my pow wad be a worricow on the
wa's of the tower.'
'There are French at Bona, you say. Remember, I ask you to put
yourself in no danger, only to bear the tidings to any European,'
'And how are they to find ye?' demanded Yusuf. 'Abou Ben Zegri
will never keep you here after having evened his gude-daughter to ye.
He'll sell you to some corsair captain, and then the best that could
betide ye wad be that a shot frae the Knights of Malta should make
quick work wi' ye. Or look at the dumbie there, Fareek. A Christian,
he ca's himsel', too, though 'tis of a by ordinar' fashion, such as
Deacon Shortcoats would scarce own. I coft him dog cheap at Tunis,
when his master, the Vizier, had had his tongue cut out—for but
knowing o' some deed that suld ne'er have been done—and his puir feet
bastinadoed to a jelly. Gin a' the siller in the Dey's treasury
ransomed ye, what gude would it do ye after that?'
'I cannot help that—I cannot forsake my God. I must trust Him not
to forsake me.'
And, as usual, Yusuf went off angrily muttering, 'He that will to
Cupar maun to Cupar.'
Perhaps Arthur's resistance had begun more for the sake of honour,
and instinctive clinging to hereditary faith, without the sense of
heroism or enthusiasm for martyrdom which sustained Estelle, and
rather with the feeling that inconstancy to his faith and his Lord
would be base and disloyal. But, as the long days rolled on, if the
future of toil and dreary misery developed itself before him, the
sense of personal love and aid towards the Lord and Master whom he
served grew upon him. Neither the gazelle-eyed Ayesha nor the
prosperous village life presented any great temptation. He would have
given them all for one bleak day of mist on a Border moss; it was the
appalling contrast with the hold of a Moorish galley that at times
startled him, together with the only too great probability that he
should be utterly incapable of saving poor little Ulysse from
Once Yusuf observed, that if he would only make outward submission
to Moslem law, he might retain his own belief and trust in the Lord he
seemed so much to love, and of whom he said more good than any Moslem
did of the Prophet.
'If I deny Him, He will deny me,' said Arthur.
'And will na He forgive ane as is hard pressed?' asked Yusuf.
'It is a very different thing to go against the light, as I should
be doing,' said Arthur, 'and what it might be for that poor bairn,
whom Cod preserve.'
'And wow! sir. 'Tis far different wi' you that had the best of
gude learning frae the gude leddy,' muttered Yusuf. 'My minnie aye
needit me to sort the fish and gang her errands, and wad scarce hae
sent me to scule, gin I wad hae gane where they girned at me for
Partan Jeannie's wean, and gied me mair o' the tawse than of the
hornbook. Gin the Lord, as ye ca' Him, had ever seemed to me what ye
say He is to you, Maister Arthur, I micht hae thocht twice o'er the
matter. But there's nae ganging back the noo. A Christian's life
they harm na, though they mak' it a mere weariness to him; but for him
that quits the Prophet, tearing the flesh wi' iron cleeks is the best
they hae for him.'
This time Yusuf retreated, not as usual in anger, but as if the
bare idea he had broached was too terrible to be dwelt upon. He had
by the end of a fortnight completed all his business at El Arnieh, and
Arthur, having by this time picked up enough of the language to make
himself comprehensible, and to know fully what was set before him, was
called upon to make his decision, so that either he might be admitted
by regular ritual into the Moslem faith, and adopted by the sheyk, or
else be advertised by Yusuf at the next town as a strong young slave.
Sitting in the gate among the village magnates, like an elder of
old, Sheyk Abou Ben Zegri, with considerable grace and dignity, set
the choice before the Son of the Sea in most affectionate terms,
asking of him to become the child of his old age, and to heal the
breach left by the swords of the robbers of the mountains.
The old man's fine dark eyes filled with tears, and there was a
pathos in his noble manner that made Arthur greatly grieved to
disappoint him, and sorry not to have sufficient knowledge of the
language to qualify more graciously the resolute reply he had so often
rehearsed to himself, expressing his hearty thanks, but declaring that
nothing could induce him to forsake the religion of his fathers.
'Wilt thou remain a dog of an unbeliever, and receive the treatment
'I must,' said Arthur.
'The youth is a goodly youth,' said the sheyk; 'it is ill that his
heart is blind. Once again, young man, Issa Ben Mariam and slavery,
or Mohammed and freedom?'
'I cannot deny my Lord Christ.'
There was a pause. Arthur stood upright, with lips compressed,
hands clasped together, while the sheyk and his companions seemed
struck by his courage and high spirit. Then one of them—a small,
ugly fellow, who had some pretensions to be considered the sheyk's
next heir—cried, 'Out on the infidel dog!' and set the example of
throwing a handful of dust at him. The crowd who watched around were
not slow to follow the example, and Arthur thought he was actually
being stoned; but the missiles were for the most part not harmful,
only disgusting, blinding, and confusing. There was a tremendous
hubbub of vituperation, and he was at last actually stunned by a blow,
waking to find himself alone, and with hands and feet bound, in a
dirty little shed appropriated to camels. Should he ever be allowed
to see poor little Ulysse again, or to speak to Yusuf, in whom lay
their only faint hope of redemption? He was helpless, and the boy was
at the mercy of the Moors. Was he utterly forsaken?
It was growing late in the day, and he had had no food for many
hours. Was he to be neglected and starved? At last he heard steps
approaching, and the door was opened by the man who had led the
assault on him, who addressed him as 'Son of an old ass—dog of a
slave,' bade him stand up and show his height, at the same time
cutting the cords that bound him. It was an additional pang that it
was to Yusuf that he was thus to exhibit himself, no doubt in order
that the merchant should carry a description of him to some likely
purchaser. He could not comprehend the words that passed, but it was
very bitter to be handled like a horse at a fair—doubly so that he, a
Hope of Burnside, should thus be treated by Partan Jeannie's son.
There ensued outside the shrieking and roaring which always
accompanied a bargain, and which lasted two full hours. Finally Yusuf
looked into the hut, and roughly said in Arabic, 'Come over to me,
dog; thou art mine. Kiss the shoe of thy master'—adding in his
native tongue, 'For ance, sir. It maun be done before these loons.'
Certainly the ceremony would have been felt as less humiliating
towards almost anybody else, but Arthur endured it; and then was led
away to the tents beyond the gate.
'There, sir,' said Yusuf, 'it ill sorts your father's son to be in
sic a case, but it canna be helpit. I culd na leave behind the bonny
Scots tongue, let alane the gude Leddy Hope's son.'
'You have been very good to me, Yusuf,' said Arthur, his pride much
softened by the merchant's evident sense of the situation. 'I know
you mean me well, but the boy—'
'Hoots! the bairn is happy eno'. He will come to higher preferment
than even you or I. Why, mon, an Aga of the Janissaries is as good as
the Deuk himsel'.'
'Yusuf, I am very grateful—I believe you must have paid heavily to
spare me from ill usage.'
'Ye may say that, sir. Forty piastres of Tunis, and eight mules,
and twa pair of silver-mounted pistols. The extortionate rogue wad
hae had the little dagger, but I stood out against that.'
'I see, I am deeply beholden,' said Arthur; 'but it would be
tenfold better if you would take him instead of me!'
'What for suld I do that? He is nae countryman of mine—one side
French and the other Irish. He is naught to me.'
'He is heir to a noble house,' waged Arthur. 'They will reward you
amply for saving him.'
'Mair like to girn at me for a Moor. Na, na! Hae na I dune enough
for ye, Maister Arthur—giving half my beasties, and more than half my
silver? Canna ye be content without that whining bairn?'
'I should be a forsworn man to be content to leave the child, whose
dead mother prayed me to protect him, and those who will turn him from
her faith. See, now, I am a man, and can guard myself, by the grace
of God; but to leave the poor child here would be letting these men
work their will on him ere any ransom could come. His mother would
deem it giving him up to perdition. Let me remain here, and take the
helpless child. You know how to bargain. His price might be my
'Ay, when the jackals and hyenas have picked your banes, or you
have died under the lash, chained to the oar, as I hae seen, Maister
'Better so than betray the dead woman's trust. How no—'
For there was a pattering of feet, a cry of 'Arthur, Arthur!' and
sobbing, screaming, and crying, Ulysse threw himself on his friend's
breast. He was pursued by one or two of the hangers-on of the sheyk's
household, and the first comer seized him by the arm; but he clung to
Arthur, screamed and kicked, and the old nurse who had come hobbling
after coaxed in vain. He cried out in a mixture of Arabic and French
that he WOULD sleep with Arthur—Arthur must put him to bed; no one
should take him away.
'Let him stay,' responded Yusuf; 'his time will come soon enough.'
Indulgence to children was the rule, and there was an easy
good-nature about the race, which made them ready to defer the storm,
and acquiesce in the poor little fellow remaining for another evening
with that last remnant of his home to whom he always reverted at
He held trembling by Arthur till all were gone, then looked about
in terror, and required to be assured that no one was coming to take
'They shall not,' he cried. 'Arthur, you will not leave me alone?
They are all gone—Mamma, and Estelle, and la bonne, and Laurent, and
my uncle, and all, and you will not go.'
'Not now, not to-night, my dear little mannie,' said Arthur, tears
in his eyes for the first time throughout these misfortunes.
'Not now! No, never!' said the boy hugging him almost to choking.
'That naughty Ben Kader said they had sold you for a slave, and you
were going away; but I knew I should find you—you are not a slave!—
you are not black—'
'Ah! Ulysse, it is too true; I am—'
'No! no! no!' the child stamped, and hung on him in a passion of
tears. 'You shall not be a slave. My papa shall come with his
soldiers and set you free.'
Altogether the boy's vehemence, agitation, and terror were such
that Arthur found it impossible to do anything but soothe and hush
him, as best might be, till his sobs subsided gradually, still heaving
his little chest even after he fell asleep in the arms of his
unaccustomed nurse, who found himself thus baffled in using this last
and only opportunity of trying to strengthen the child's faith, and
was also hindered from pursuing Yusuf, who had left the tent. And if
it were separation that caused all this distress, what likelihood that
Yusuf would encumber himself with a child who had shown such powers of
wailing and screaming?
He durst not stir nor speak for fear of wakening the boy, even when
Yusuf returned and stretched himself on his mat, drawing a thick
woollen cloth over him, for the nights were chill. Long did Arthur
lie awake under the strange sense of slavery and helplessness, and
utter uncertainty as to his fate, expecting, in fact, that Yusuf meant
to keep him as a sort of tame animal to talk Scotch; but hoping to
work on him in time to favour an escape, and at any rate to despatch a
letter to Algiers, as a forlorn hope for the ultimate redemption of
the poor little unconscious child who lay warm and heavy across his
breast. Certainly, Arthur had never so prayed for aid, light. and
deliverance as now!
CHAPTER VIII—THE SEARCH
'The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks,
The long day wanes, the slow moon climbs. The deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends.'
Arthur fell asleep at last, and did not waken till after sunrise,
nor did Ulysse, who must have been exhausted with crying and
struggling. When they did awaken, Arthur thinking with heavy heart
that the moment of parting was come, he saw indeed the other three
slaves busied in making bales of the merchandise; but the master, as
well as the Abyssinian, Fareek, and the little negro were all missing.
Bekir, who was a kind of foreman, and looked on the new white slave
with some jealousy, roughly pointed to some coarse food, and in reply
to the question whether the merchant was taking leave of the sheyk,
intimated that it was no business of theirs, and assumed authority to
make his new fellow-slave assist in the hardest of the packing.
Arthur had no heart to resist, much as it galled him to be ordered
about by this rude fellow. It was only a taste, as he well knew, of
what he had embraced, and he was touched by poor little Ulysse's
persistency in keeping as close as possible, though his playfellows
came down and tried first to lure, then to drag him away, and finally
remained to watch the process of packing up. Though Bekir was too
disdainful to reply to his fellow-slave's questions, Arthur picked up
from answers to the Moors who came down that Yusuf had recollected
that he had not finished his transactions with a little village of
Cabyle coral and sponge-fishers on the coast, and had gone down
thither, taking the little negro, to whom the headman seemed to have
taken a fancy, so as to become a possible purchaser, and with the
Abyssinian to attend to the mules.
A little before sundown Yusuf returned. Fareek lifted down a
pannier covered by a crimson and yellow kerchief, and Yusuf declared,
with much apparent annoyance, that the child was sick, and that this
had frustrated the sale. He was asleep, must be carried into the
tent, and not disturbed: for though the Cabyles had not purchased
him, there was no affording to loose anything of so much value.
Moreover, observing Ulysse still hovering round the Scot, he said,
'You may bide here the night, laddie, I ha tell't the sheyk;' and he
repeated the same to the slaves in Arabic, dismissing them to hold a
parting feast on a lamb stuffed with pistachio nuts, together with
their village friends.
Then drawing near to Arthur, he said, 'Can ye gar yon wean keep a
quiet sough, if we make him pass for the little black?'
Arthur started with joy, and stammered some words of intense relief
'The deed's no dune yet,' said Yusuf, 'and it is ower like to end
in our leaving a' our banes on the sands! But a wilfu' man maun have
his way,' he repeated; 'so, sir, if it be your wull, ye'd better speak
to the bairn, for we must make a blackamoor of him while there is
licht to do it, or Bekir, whom I dinna lippen to, comes back frae the
Ulysse, being used to Irish-English, had little understanding of
Yusuf's broad Scotch; but he was looking anxiously from one to the
other of the speakers, and when Arthur explained to him that the
disguise, together with perfect silence, was the only hope of not
being left behind among the Moors, and the best chance of getting back
to his home and dear ones again, he perfectly understood. As to the
blackening, for which Yusuf had prepared a mixture to be laid on with
a feather, it was perfectly enchanting to faire la comedie. He
laughed so much that he had to be peremptorily hushed, and they were
sensible of the danger that in case of a search he might betray
himself to his Moorish friends; and Arthur tried to make him
comprehend the extreme danger, making him cry so that his cheeks had
to be touched up. His eyes and hair were dark, and the latter was cut
to its shortest by Yusuf, who further managed to fasten some tufts of
wool dipped in the black unguent to the kerchief that bound his head.
The childish features had something of the Irish cast, which lent
itself to the transformation, and in the scanty garments of the little
negro Arthur owned that he should never have known the small French
gentleman. Arthur was full of joy—Yusuf gruff, brief, anxious, like
one acting under some compulsion most unwillingly, and even
despondently, but apparently constrained by a certain instinctive
feudal feeling, which made him follow the desires of the young Border
All had been packed beforehand, and there was nothing to be done
but to strike the tents, saddle the mules, and start. Ulysse, still
very sleepy, was lifted into the pannier, almost at the first streak
of dawn, while the slaves were grumbling at being so early called up;
and to a Moor who wakened up and offered to take charge of the little
Bey, Yusuf replied that the child had been left in the sheyk's house.
So they were safely out at the outer gate, and proceeding along a
beautiful path leading above the cliffs. The mules kept in one long
string, Bekir with the foremost, which was thus at some distance from
the hindmost, which carried Ulysse and was attended by Arthur, while
the master rode his own animals and gave directions. The fiction of
illness was kept up, and when the bright eyes looked up in too lively
a manner, Yusuf produced some of the sweets, which were always part of
his stock in trade, as a bribe to quietness.
At sunrise, the halt for prayer was a trial to Arthur's intense
anxiety, and far more so was the noontide one for sleep. He even
ventured a remonstrance, but was answered, 'Mair haste, worse speed.
Our lives are no worth a boddle till the search is over.'
They were on the shady side of a great rock overhung by a beautiful
creeping plant, and with a spring near at hand, and Yusuf, in
leisurely fashion, squatted down, caused Arthur to lift out the child,
who was fast asleep again, and the mules to be allowed to feed, and
distributed some dried goat's flesh and dates; but Ulysse, somewhat to
Arthur's alarm, did not wake sufficiently to partake.
Looking up in alarm, he met a sign from Yusuf and presently a
whisper, 'No hurt done—'tis safer thus—'
And by this time there were alarming sounds on the air. The sheyk
and two of the chief men of El Arnieh were on horseback and armed with
matchlocks; and the whole 'posse of the village were following on
foot, with yells and vituperations of the entire ancestry of the
merchant, and far more complicated and furious threats than Arthur
could follow; but he saw Yusuf go forward to meet them with the utmost
They seemed somewhat discomposed: Yusuf appeared to condole with
them on the loss, and, waving his hands, put all his baggage at their
service for a search, letting them run spears through the bales, and
overturn the baskets of sponges, and search behind every rock. When
they approached the sleeping boy, Arthur, with throbbing heart, dimly
comprehended that Yusuf was repeating the story of the disappointment
of a purchase caused by his illness, and lifting for a moment the
covering laid over him to show the bare black legs and arms. There
might also have been some hint of infection which, in spite of all
Moslem belief in fate, deterred Abou Ben Zegri from an over-close
inspection. Yusuf further invented a story of having put the little
Frank in charge of a Moorish woman in the adowara; but added he was so
much attached to the Son of the Sea, that most likely he had wandered
out in search of him, and the only wise course would be to seek him
before he was devoured by any of the wild beasts near home.
Nevertheless, there was a courteous and leisurely smoking of pipes
and drinking of coffee before the sheyk and his followers turned
homewards. To Arthur's alarm and surprise, however, Yusuf did not
resume the journey, but told Bekir that there would hardly be a better
halting- place within their powers, as the sun was already some way on
his downward course; and besides, it would take some time to repack
the goods which had been cast about in every direction during the
search. The days were at their shortest, though that was not very
short, closing in at about five o'clock, so that there was not much
time to spare. Arthur began to feel some alarm at the continued
drowsiness of the little boy, who only once muttered something, turned
round, and slept again.
'What have you done to him?' asked Arthur anxiously.
'The poppy,' responded Yusuf. 'Never fash yoursel'. The bairn
willna be a hair the waur, and 'tis better so than that he shuld rax
a' our craigs.'
Yusuf's peril was so much the greater, that it was impossible to
object to any of his precautions, especially as he might take offence
and throw the whole matter over; but it was impossible not to chafe
secretly at the delay, which seemed incomprehensible. Indeed, the
merchant was avoiding private communication with Arthur, only assuming
the master, and ordering about in a peremptory fashion which it was
very hard to digest.
After the sunset orisons had been performed, Yusuf regaled his
slaves with a donation of coffee and tobacco, but with a warning to
Arthur not to partake, and to keep to windward of them. So too did
the Abyssinian, and the cause of the warning was soon evident, as
Bekir and his companion nodded, and then sank into a slumber as sound
as that of the little Frenchman. Indeed, Arthur himself was weary
enough to fall asleep soon after sundown, in spite of his anxiety, and
the stars were shining like great lamps when Yusuf awoke him. One
mule stood equipped beside him, and held by the Abyssinian. Yusuf
pointed to the child, and said, 'Lift him upon it.'
Arthur obeyed, finding a pannier empty on one side to receive the
child, who only muttered and writhed instead of awaking. The other
side seemed laden. Yusuf led the animal, retracing their way, while
fire-flies flitted around with their green lights, and the distant
laughter of hyenas gave Arthur a thrill of loathing horror. Huge bats
fluttered round, and once or twice grim shapes crossed their path.
'Uncanny beasties,' quoth Yusuf; 'but they will soon be behind us.'
He turned into a rapidly-sloping path. Arthur felt a fresh salt
breeze in his face, and his heart leapt up with hope.
In about an hour and a half they had reached a cove, shut in by
dark rocks which in the night looked immeasurable, but on the white
beach a few little huts were dimly discernible, one with a light in
it. The sluggish dash of waves could be heard on the shore; there was
a sense of infinite space and breadth before them; and Jupiter sitting
in the north-west was like an enormous lamp, casting a pathway of
light shimmering on the waters to lead the exiles home.
Three or four boats were drawn up on the beach; a man rose up from
within one, and words in a low voice were exchanged between him and
Yusuf; while Fareek, grinning so that his white teeth could be seen in
the starlight, unloaded the mule, placing its packs, a long Turkish
blunderbuss, and two skins of water, in the boat, and arranging a mat
on which Arthur could lay the sleeping child.
Well might the youth's heart bound with gratitude, as, unmindful of
all the further risks and uncertainties to be encountered, he almost
saw his way back to Burnside!
'Beside the helm he sat, steering expert,
Nor sleep fell ever on his eyes that watch'd
Intent the Pleiads, tardy in decline,
Bootes and the Bear, call'd else the Wain,
Which in his polar prison circling, looks
Direct towards Orion, and alone
Of these sinks never to the briny deep.'
The boat was pushed off, the Abyssinian leapt into it; Arthur
paused to pour out his thankfulness to Yusuf, but was met with the
reply, 'Hout awa'! Time enugh for that—in wi' ye.' And fancying
there was some alarm, he sprang in, and to his amazement found Yusuf
instantly at his side, taking the rudder, and giving some order to
Fareek, who had taken possession of a pair of oars; while the waters
seemed to flash and glitter a welcome at every dip.
'You are coming! you are coming!' exclaimed Arthur, clasping the
merchant's hand, almost beside himself with joy.
'Sma' hope wad there be of a callant like yersel' and the wean
there winning awa' by yer lane,' growled Yusuf.
'You have given up all for us.'
'There wasna muckle to gie,' returned the sponge merchant. 'Sin'
the gudewife and her bit bairnies at Bona were gane, I hadna the heart
to gang thereawa', nor quit the sound o' the bonny Scots tongue. I
wad as soon gang to the bottom as to the toom house. For dinna ye
trow yersells ower sicker e'en the noo.'
'Is there fear of pursuit?'
'No mickle o' that. The folk here are what they ca' Cabyles, a
douce set, not forgathering with Arabs nor wi' Moors. I wad na gang
among them till the search was over to-day; but yesterday I saw yon
carle, and coft the boatie frae him for the wee blackamoor and the
mule. The Moors at El Aziz are not seafaring; and gin the morn they
jalouse what we have done, we have the start of them. Na, I'm not
feared for them; but forbye that, this is no the season for an open
boatie wi' a crew of three and a wean. Gin we met an Algerian or
Tunisian cruiser, as we are maist like to do, a bullet or drooning wad
be ower gude in their e'en for us—for me, that is to say. They wad
spare the bairn, and may think you too likely a lad to hang on the
walls like a split corbie on the woodsman's lodge.'
'Well, Yusuf, my name is Hope, you know,' said Arthur. 'God has
brought us so far, and will scarce leave us now. I feel three times
the man that I was when I lay down this evening. Do we keep to the
north, where we are sure to come to a Christian land in time?'
'Easier said than done. Ye little ken what the currents are in
this same sea, or deed ye'll soon ken when we get into them.'
Arthur satisfied himself that they were making for the north by
looking at the Pole Star, so much lower than he was used to see it in
Scotland that he hardly recognised his old friend; but, as he watched
the studded belt of the Hunter and the glittering Pleiades, the
Horatian dread of Nimbosus Orion occurred to him as a thought to be
Meantime there was a breeze from the land, and the sail was
hoisted. Yusuf bade both Arthur and Fareek lie down to sleep, for
their exertions would be wanted by and by, since it would not be safe
to use the sail by daylight. It was very cold—wild blasts coming
down from the mountains; but Arthur crept under the woollen mantle
that had been laid over Ulysse, and was weary enough to sleep soundly.
Both were awakened by the hauling down of the mast; and the little
boy, who had quite slept off the drug, scrambling out from under the
covering, was astonished beyond measure at finding himself between the
glittering, sparkling expanse of sea and the sky, where the sun had
just leapt up in a blaze of gold.
The white summits of Atlas were tipped with rosy light, beautiful
to behold, though the voyagers had much rather have been out of sight
'How much have we made, Yusuf?' began Arthur.
'Tam Armstrong, so please you, sir! Yusuf's dead and buried the
noo; and if I were farther beyant the grip of them that kenned him, my
thrapple would feel all the sounder!'
This day was, he further explained, the most perilous one, since
they were by no means beyond the track of vessels plying on the coast;
and as a very jagged and broken cluster of rocks lay near, he decided
on availing themselves of the shelter they afforded. The boat was
steered into a narrow channel between two which stood up like the
fangs of a great tooth, and afforded a pleasant shade; but there was
such a screaming and calling of gulls, terns, cormorants, and all
manner of other birds, as they entered the little strait, and such a
cloud of them hovered and whirled overhead, that Tam uttered
imprecations on their skirling, and bade his companions lie close and
keep quiet till they had settled again, lest the commotion should
betray that the rocks were the lair of fugitives.
It was not easy to keep Ulysse quiet, for he was in raptures at the
rush of winged creatures, and no less so at the wonderful sea-anemones
and starfish in the pools, where long streamers of weed of beautiful
colours floated on the limpid water.
Nothing reduced him to stillness but the sight of the dried goat's
flesh and dates that Tam Armstrong produced, and for which all had
appetites, which had to be checked, since no one could tell how long
it would be before any kind of haven could be reached.
Arthur bathed himself and his charge in a pool, after Tam had
ascertained that no many-armed squid or cuttlefish lurked within it.
And while Ulysse disported himself like a little fish, Arthur did his
best to restore him to his natural complexion, and tried to cleanse
the little garments, which showed only too plainly the lack of any
change, and which were the only Frank or Christian clothes among them,
since young Hope himself had been almost stripped when he came ashore,
and wore the usual garb of Yusuf's slaves.
Presently Fareek made an imperative sign to hush the child's merry
tongue; and peering forth in intense anxiety, the others perceived a
lateen sail passing perilously near, but happily keeping aloof from
the sharp reef of rocks around their shelter. Arthur had forgotten
the child's prayers and his own, but Ulysse connected them with
dressing, and the alarm of the passing ship had recalled them to the
young man's mind, though he felt shy as he found that Tam Armstrong
was not asleep, but was listening and watching with his keen gray eyes
under their grizzled brows. Presently, when Ulysse was dropping to
sleep again, the ex-merchant began to ask questions with the
intelligence of his shrewd Scottish brains.
The stern Calvinism of the North was wont to consign to utter
neglect the outcast border of civilisation, where there were no decent
parents to pledge themselves; and Partan Jeannie's son had grown up
well-nigh in heathen ignorance among fisher lads and merchant sailors,
till it had been left for him to learn among the Mohammedans both
temperance and devotional habits. His whole faith and understanding
would have been satisfied for ever; but there had been strange
yearnings within him ever since he had lost his wife and children, and
these had not passed away when Arthur Hope came in his path. Like
many another renegade, he could not withstand the attraction of his
native tongue; and in this case it was doubled by the feudal
attachment of the district to the family of Burnside, and a grateful
remembrance of the lady who had been one of the very few persons who
had ever done a kindly deed by the little outcast. He had broken with
all his Moslem ties for Arthur Hope's sake; and these being left
behind, he began to make some inquiries about that Christian faith to
which he must needs return—if return be the right word in the case of
one who knew it so little when he had abjured it.
And Arthur had not been bred to the grim reading of the doctrine of
predestination which had condemned poor Tam, even before he had
embraced the faith of the Prophet. Boyish, and not over thoughtful,
the youth, when brought face to face with apostacy, had been ready to
give life or liberty rather than deny his Lord; and deepened by that
great decision, he could hold up that Lord and Redeemer in colours
that made Tam see that his clinging to his faith was not out of mere
honour and constancy, but that Mohammed had been a poor and wretched
substitute for Him whom the poor fellow had denied, not knowing what
'Weel!' he said, 'gin the Deacon and the auld aunties had tellt me
as mickle about Him, thae Moors might ha' preached their thrapples
sair for Tam. Mashallah! Maister Arthur, do ye think, noo, He can
forgie a puir carle for turning frae Him an' disowning Him?'
'I am sure of it, Tam. He forgives all who come to Him—and
you—you did it in ignorance.'
'And you trow na that I am a vessel of wrath, as they aye said?'
'No, no, no, Tam. How could that be with one who has done what you
have for us? There is good in you—noble goodness, Tam; and who could
have put it there but God, the Holy Spirit? I believe myself He was
leading you all the time, though you did not know it; making you a
better man first, and now, through this brave kindness to us, bringing
you back to be a real true Christian and know Him.'
Arthur felt as if something put the words into his mouth, but he
felt them with all his heart, and the tears were in his eyes.
At sundown Tam grew restless. Force of habit impelled him to turn
to Mecca and make his devotions as usual, and after nearly kneeling
down on the flat stone, he turned to Arthur and said, 'I canna wed do
without the bit prayer, sir.
'No, indeed, Tam. Only let it be in the right Name.'
And Arthur knelt down beside him and said the Lord's Prayer—then,
under a spell of bashfulness, muttered special entreaty for protection
They were to embark again now that darkness would veil their
movements, but the wind blew so much from the north that they could
not raise the sail. The oars were taken by Tam and Fareek at first,
but when they came into difficult currents Arthur changed places with
And thus the hours passed. The Mediterranean may be in our eyes a
European lake, but it was quite large enough to be a desert of sea and
sky to the little crew of an open boat, even though they were favoured
by the weather. Otherwise, indeed, they must have perished in the
first storm. They durst not sail except by night, and then only with
northerly winds, nor could there be much rest, since they could not
lay to, and drift with the currents, lest they should be carried back
to the African coast. Only one of the three men could sleep at a
time, and that by one of the others taking both oars, and in time this
could not but become very exhausting. It was true that all the coasts
to the north were of Christian lands; but in their Moorish garments
and in perfect ignorance of Italian, strangers might fare no better in
Sardinia or Sicily than in Africa, and Spain might be no better; but
Tam endeavoured to keep a north-westerly course, thinking from what
Arthur had said that in this direction there was more chance of being
picked up by a French vessel. Would their strength and provisions
hold out? Of this there was serious doubt. Late in the year as it
was, the heat and glare were as distressing by day as was the cold by
night, and the continued exertion of rowing produced thirst, which
made it very difficult to husband the water in the skins. Tam and
Fareek were both tough, and inured to heat and privation; but Arthur,
scarce yet come to his full height, and far from having attained
proportionate robustness and muscular strength, could not help
flagging, though, whenever steering was of minor importance, Tam gave
him the rudder, moved by his wan looks, for he never complained, even
when fragments of dry goat's flesh almost choked his parched mouth.
The boy was never allowed to want for anything save water; but it was
very hard to hear him fretting for it. Tam took the goatskin into his
own keeping, and more than once uttered a rough reproof, and yet
Arthur saw him give the child half his own precious ration when it
must have involved grievous suffering. The promise about giving the
cup of cold water to a little one could not but rise to his lips.
'Cauld! and I wish it were cauld!' was all the response Tam made;
but his face showed some gratification.
This was no season for traffic, and they had barely seen a sail or
two in the distance, and these only such as the experienced eyes of
the ex- sponge merchant held to be dangerous. Deadly lassitude began
to seize the young Scot; he began scarcely to heed what was to become
of them, and had not energy to try to console Ulysse, who, having in
an unwatched moment managed to swallow some sea water, was crying and
wailing under the additional misery he had inflicted on himself. The
sun beat down with noontide force, when on that fourth day, turning
from its scorching, his languid eye espied a sail on the northern
'See,' he cried; 'that is not the way of the Moors.'
'Bismillah! I beg your pardon, sir,' cried Tam, but said no more,
only looked intently.
Gradually, gradually the spectacle rose on their view fuller and
fuller, not the ruddy wings of the Algerine or Italian, but the square
white castle-like tiers of sails rising one above another, bearing
along in a south-easterly direction.
'English or French,' said Tam, with a long breath, for her colours
and build were not yet discernible. 'Mashallah! I beg pardon. I
mean, God grant she pass us not by!'
The mast was hastily raised, with Tam's turban unrolled, floating
at the top of it; and while he and Fareek plied their oars with might
and main, he bade Arthur fire off at intervals the blunderbuss, which
had hitherto lain idle at the bottom of the boat.
How long the intense suspense lasted they knew not ere Arthur
cried, 'They are slackening sail! Thank God. Tam, you have saved us!
'Not so fast!' Tam uttered an Arabic and then a Scottish
Their signal had been seen by other eyes. An unmistakable
Algerine, with the crescent flag, was bearing down on them from the
'Rascals. Do they not dread the British flag?' cried Arthur.
'Surely that will protect us?'
'They are smaller and lighter, and with their galley slaves can
defy the wind, and loup off like a flea in a blanket,' returned Tam,
grimly. 'Mair by token, they guess what we are, and will hold on to
hae my life's bluid if naething mair! Here! Gie us a soup of the
water, and the last bite of flesh. 'Twill serve us the noo, find we
shall need it nae mair any way.'
Arthur fed him, for he durst not slacken rowing for a moment. Then
seeing Fareek, who had borne the brunt of the fatigue, looking spent,
the youth, after swallowing a few morsels and a little foul-smelling
drink, took the second oar, while double force seemed given to the
long arms lately so weary, and both pulled on in silent, grim
desperation. Ulysse had given one scream at seeing the last of the
water swallowed, but he too, understood the situation, and obeyed
Arthur's brief words, 'Kneel down and pray for us, my boy.'
The Abyssinian was evidently doing the same, after having loaded
the blunderbuss; but it was no longer necessary to use this as a
signal, since the frigate had lowered her boat, which was rapidly
coming towards them.
But, alas! still more swiftly, as it seemed to those terrified
eyes, came the Moorish boat—longer, narrower, more favoured by
currents and winds, flying like a falcon towards its prey. It was a
fearful race. Arthur's head began to swim, his breath to labour, his
arms to move stiffly as a thresher's flail; but, just as power was
failing him, an English cheer came over the waters, and restored
strength for a few more resolute strokes.
Then came some puffs of smoke from the pirate's boat, a report, a
jerk to their own, a fresh dash forward, even as Fareek fired, giving
a moment's check to the enemy. There was a louder cheer, several
shots from the English boat, a cloud from the ship's side. Then
Arthur was sensible of a relaxation of effort, and that the chase was
over, then that the British boat was alongside, friendly voices
ringing in his ears, 'How now, mates? Runaways, eh? Where d'ye hail
'Scottish! British!' panted out Arthur, unable to utter more,
faint, giddy, and astounded by the cheers around him, and the hands
stretched out in welcome. He scarcely saw or understood.
'Queer customers here! What! a child! Who are you, my little man?
And what's this? A Moor! He's hit—pretty hard too.'
This brought back Arthur's reeling senses in one flash of horror,
at the sight of Tam, bleeding fast in the bottom of the boat.
'O Tam! Tam! He saved me! He is Scottish too,' cried Arthur.
'Sir, is he alive?'
'I think so,' said the officer, who had bent over Tam. 'We'll have
him aboard in a minute, and see what the doctor can do with him. You
seem to have had a narrow escape.'
Arthur was too busy endeavouring to staunch the blood which flowed
fast from poor Tam's side to make much reply, but Ulysse, perched on
the officer's knee, was answering for him in mixed English and French.
'Moi, je suis le Chevalier de Bourke! My papa is ambassador to
Sweden. This gentleman is his secretary. We were shipwrecked—and M.
Arture and I swam away together. The Moors were good to us, and
wanted to make us Moors; but M. Arture said it would be wicked. And
Yusuf bought him for a slave; but that was only from faire la comedie.
He is bon Chretien after all, and so is poor Fareek, only he is dumb.
Yusuf— that is, Tam—made me all black, and changed me for his
little negro boy; and we got into the boat, and it was very hot, and
oh! I am so thirsty. And now M. Arture will take me to Monsieur mon
Pere, and get me some nice clothes again,' concluded the young
gentleman, who, in this moment of return to civilised society, had
become perfectly aware of his own rank and importance.
Arthur only looked up to verify the child's statements, which had
much struck the lieutenant. Their boat had by this time been towed
alongside of the frigate, and poor Tam was hoisted on board, and the
surgeon was instantly at hand; but he said at once that the poor
fellow was fast dying, and that it would be useless torture to carry
him below for examination.
A few words passed with the captain, and then the little Chevalier
was led away to tell his own tale, which he was doing with a full
sense of his own importance; but presently the captain returned, and
beckoned to Arthur, who had been kneeling beside poor Tam, moistening
his lips, and bathing his face, as he lay gasping and apparently
unconscious, except that he had gripped hold of his broad sash or
girdle when it was taken off.
'The child tells me he is Comte de Bourke's son,' said the captain,
in a tentative manner, as if doubtful whether he should be understood,
and certainly Arthur looked more Moorish than European.
'Yes, sir! He was on his way with his mother to join his father
when we were taken by a Moorish corsair.'
'But you are not French?' said the captain, recognising the tones.
'No, sir; Scottish—Arthur Maxwell Hope. I was to have gone as the
'You have escaped from the Moors? I could not understand what the
boy said. Where are the lady and the rest?'
Arthur as briefly as he could, for he was very anxious to return to
poor Tam, explained the wreck and the subsequent adventures, saying
that he feared the poor Countess was lost, but that he had seen her
daughter and some of her suite on a rock. Captain Beresford was
horrified at the idea of a Christian child among the wild Arabs. His
station was Minorca, but he had just been at the Bay of Rosas, where
poor Comte de Bourke's anxiety and distress about his wife and
children were known, and he had received a request amounting to orders
to try to obtain intelligence about them, so that he held it to be
within his duty to make at once for Djigheli Bay.
For further conversation was cut short by sounds of articulate
speech from poor Tam. Arthur turned hastily, and the captain
proceeded to give his orders.
'Is Maister Hope here?'
'Here! Yes. O Tam, dear Tam, if I could do anything!' cried
'I canna see that well,' said Tam, with a sound of anxiety.
'Where's my sash?'
'This is it, in your own hand,' said Arthur, thinking he was
wandering, but the other hand sought one of the ample folds, which was
sewn over, and weighty.
'Tak' it; tak' tent of it; ye'll need the siller. Four hunder
piastres of Tunis, not countin' zeechins, and other sma' coin.'
'Shall I send them to any one at Eyemouth?'
Tam almost laughed. 'Na, na; keep them and use them yersell, sir.
There's nane at hame that wad own puir Tam. The leddy, your mither,
an' you hae been mair to me than a' beside that's above ground, and
what wad ye do wi'out the siller?'
'O Tam! I owe all and everything to you. And now —'
Tam looked up, as Arthur's utterance was choked, and a great tear
fell on his face. 'Wha wad hae said,' murmured he, 'that a son of
Burnside wad be greetin' for Partan Jeannie's son?'
'For my best friend. What have you not saved me from! and I can do
'Nay, sir. Say but thae words again.'
'Oh for a clergyman! Or if I had a Bible to read you the
'You shall have one,' said the captain, who had returned to his
side. The surgeon muttered that the lad seemed as good as a parson;
but Arthur heard him not, and was saying what prayers came to his mind
in this stress, when, even as the captain returned, the last struggle
came on. Once more Tam looked up, saying, 'Ye'll be good to puir
Fareek;' and with a word more, 'Oh, Christ: will He save such as I?'
all was over.
'Come away, you can do nothing more,' said the doctor. 'You want
looking to yourself.'
For Arthur tottered as he tried to rise, and needed the captain's
kind hand as he gained his feet. 'Sir,' he said, as the tears gushed
to his eyes, 'he DOES deserve all honour—my only friend and
'I see,' said Captain Beresford, much moved; 'whatever he has been,
he died a Christian. He shall have Christian burial. And this
fellow?' pointing to poor Fareek, whose grief was taking vent in moans
'Christian—Abyssinian, but dumb,' Arthur explained; and having his
promise that all respect should be paid to poor Tam's corpse, he let
the doctor lead him away, for he had now time to feel how sun-scorched
and exhausted he was, with giddy, aching head, and legs cramped and
stiff, arms strained and shoulders painful after his three days and
nights of the boat. His thirst, too, seemed unquenchable, in spite of
drinks almost unconsciously taken, and though hungry he had little
will to eat.
The surgeon made him take a warm bath, and then fed him with soup,
after which, on a promise of being called in due time, he consented to
deposit himself in a hammock, and presently fell asleep.
When he awoke he found that clothes had been provided for
him—naval uniforms; but that could not be helped, and the comfort was
great. He was refreshed, but still very stiff. However, he dressed
and was just ready, when the surgeon came to see whether he were in
condition to be summoned, for it was near sundown, and all hands were
piped up to attend poor Tam's funeral rites. His generous and
faithful deed had eclipsed the memory that he was a renegade, and,
indeed, it had been in such ignorance that he had had little to deny.
All the sailors stood as respectfully as if he had been one of
themselves while the captain read a portion of the Burial Office.
Such honours would never have been his in his native land, where at
that time even Episcopalians themselves could not have ventured on any
out- door rites; and Arthur was thus doubly struck and impressed,
when, as the corpse, sewn in sail-cloth and heavily weighted, was
launched into the blue waves, he heard the words committing the body
to the deep, till the sea should give up her dead. He longed to be
able to translate them to poor Fareek, who was weeping and howling so
inconsolably as to attest how good a master he had lost.
Perhaps Tam's newly-found or recovered Christianity might have been
put to hard shocks as to the virtues he had learnt among the Moslems.
At any rate Arthur often had reason to declare in after life that the
poor renegade might have put many a better-trained Christian to shame.
CHAPTER X—ON BOARD THE 'CALYPSO'
'From when this youth?
His country, name, and birth declare!'
'You had forgotten this legacy, Mr. Hope,' said Captain Beresford,
taking Arthur into his cabin, 'and, judging by its weight, it is
hardly to be neglected. I put it into my locker for security.'
'Thank you, sir,' said Arthur. 'The question is whether I ought to
take it. I wished for your advice.'
'I heard what passed,' said the captain. 'I should call your right
as complete as if you had a will made by a half a dozen lawyers. When
we get into port, a few crowns to the ship's company to drink your
health, and all will be right. Will you count it?'
The folds were undone, and little piles made of the gold, but
neither the captain nor Arthur were much the wiser. The purser might
have computed it, but Captain Beresford did not propose this, thinking
perhaps that it was safer that no report of a treasure should get
abroad in the ship.
He made a good many inquiries, which he had deferred till Arthur
should be in a fitter condition for answering, first about the capture
and wreck, and what the young man had been able to gather about the
Cabeleyzes. Then, as the replies showed that he had a gentleman
before him, Captain Beresford added that he could not help asking,
'Que diable allait il faire dans cette galere?'
'Sir,' said Arthur, 'I do not know whether you will think it your
duty to make me a prisoner, but I had better tell you the whole
'Oho!' said the captain; 'but you are too young! You could never
have been out with—with—we'll call him the Chevalier.'
'I ran away from school,' replied Arthur, colouring. 'I was a mere
boy, and I never was attainted,' explained Arthur, blushing. 'I have
been with my Lord Nithsdale, and my mother thought I could safely come
home, and that if I came from Sweden my brother could not think I
'Lord Burnside. He is at Court, in favour, they say, with King
George. He is my half-brother; my mother is a Maxwell.'
'There is a Hope in garrison at Port Mahon—a captain,' said the
captain. 'Perhaps he will advise you what to do if you are sick of
Jacobite intrigue and mystery, and ready to serve King George.'
Arthur's face lighted up. 'Will it be James Hope of Ryelands, or
Dickie Hope of the Lynn, or—?'
Captain Beresford held up his hands.
'Time must show that, my young friend,' he said, smiling. 'And now
I think the officers expect you to join their mess in the gunroom.'
There Arthur found the little Chevalier strutting about in an
adaptation of the smallest midshipman's uniform, and the centre of an
admiring party, who were equally diverted by his consequential airs
and by his accounts of his sports among the Moors. Happy fellow, he
could adapt himself to any society, and was ready to be the pet and
plaything of the ship's company, believing himself, when he thought of
anything beyond the present, to be full on the road to his friends
Fareek was a much more difficult charge, for Arthur had hardly a
word that he could understand. He found the poor fellow coiled up in
a corner, just where he had seen his former master's remains
disappear, still moaning and weeping bitterly. As Arthur called to
him he looked up for a moment, then crawled forward, striking his
forehead at intervals against the deck. He was about to kiss the feet
of his former fellow-slave, the glittering gold, blue, and white of
whose borrowed dress no doubt impressed him. Arthur hastily started
back, to the amazement of the spectators, and called out a
negative—one of the words sure to be first learnt. He tried to take
Fareek's hand and raise him from his abject attitude; but the poor
fellow continued kneeling, and not only were no words available to
tell him that he was free, but it was extremely doubtful whether
freedom was any boon to him. One thing, however, he did evidently
understand—he pointed to the St. George's pennant with the red cross,
made the sign, looked an interrogation, and on Arthur's reply,
'Christians,' and reiteration of the word 'Salem,' PEACE, he folded
his arms and looked reassured.
'Ay, ay, my hearty,' said the big boatswain, 'ye've got under the
old flag, and we'll soon make you see the difference. Cut out your
poor tongue, have they, the rascals, and made a dummy of you? I wish
my cat was about their ears! Come along with you, and you shall find
what British grog is made of.'
And a remarkable friendship arose between the two, the boatswain
patronising Fareek on every occasion, and roaring at him as if he were
deaf as well as dumb, and Fareek appearing quite confident under his
protection, and establishing a system of signs, which were fortunately
a universal language. The Abyssinian evidently viewed himself as
young Hope's servant or slave, probably thinking himself part of his
late master's bequest, and there was no common language between them
in which to explain the difference or ascertain the poor fellow's
wishes. He was a slightly-made, dexterous man, probably about five and
twenty years of age, and he caught up very quickly, by imitation, the
care he could take of Arthur's clothes, and the habit of waiting on
him at meals.
Meantime the Calypso held her course to the south-east, till the
chart declared the coast to be that of Djigheli Bay, and Arthur
recognised the headlands whither the unfortunate tartane had drifted
to her destruction. Anchoring outside the hay, Captain Beresford sent
the first lieutenant, Mr. Bullock, in the long-boat, with Arthur and a
well-armed force, with instructions to offer no violence, but to
reconnoitre; and if they found Mademoiselle de Bourke, or any others
of the party, to do their best for their release by promises of ransom
or representations of the consequences of detaining them. Arthur was
prepared to offer his own piastres at once in case of need of
immediate payment. He was by this time tolerably versed in the
vernacular of the Mediterranean, and a cook's boy, shipped at
Gibraltar, was also supposed to be capable of interpreting.
The beautiful bay, almost realising the description of AEneas'
landing- place, lay before them, the still green waters within
reflecting the fantastic rocks and the wreaths of verdure which
crowned them, while the white mountain-tops rose like clouds in the
far distance against the azure sky. Arthur could only, however, think
of all this fair scene as a cruel prison, and those sharp rocks as the
jaws of a trap, when he saw the ribs of the tartane still jammed into
the rock where she had struck, and where he had saved the two children
as they were washed up the hatchway. He saw the rock where the other
three had clung, and where he had left the little girl. He remembered
the crowd of howling, yelling savages, leaping and gesticulating on
the beach, and his heart trembled as he wondered how it had ended.
Where were the Cabeleyzes who had thus greeted them? The bay
seemed perfectly lonely. Not a sound was to be heard but the regular
dip of the oars, the cry of a startled bird, and the splash of a flock
of seals, which had been sunning themselves on the shore, and which
floundered into the sea like Proteus' flock of yore before Ulysses.
Would that Proteus himself had still been there to be captured and
interrogated! For the place was so entirely deserted that, saving for
the remains of the wreck, he must have believed himself mistaken in
the locality, and the lieutenant began to question him whether it had
been daylight when he came ashore.
Could the natives have hidden themselves at sight of an armed
vessel? Mr. Bullock resolved on landing, very cautiously, and with a
sufficient guard. On the shore some fragments of broken boxes and
packing cases appeared; and a sailor pointed out the European
lettering painted on one—sse de B-. It plainly was part of the
address to the Comtesse de Bourke. This encouraged the party in their
search. They ascended the path which poor Hebert and Lanty Callaghan
had so often painfully climbed, and found themselves before the square
of reed hovels, also deserted, but with black marks where fires had
been lighted, and with traces of recent habitation.
Arthur picked up a rag of the Bourke livery, and another of a
brocade which he had seen the poor Countess wearing. Was this all the
relic that he should ever be able to take to her husband?
He peered about anxiously in hopes of discovering further tokens,
and Mr. Bullock was becoming impatient of his lingering, when suddenly
his eye was struck by a score on the bark of a chestnut tree like a
cross, cut with a feeble hand. Beneath, close to the trunk, was a
stone, beyond the corner of which appeared a bit of paper. He pounced
upon it. It was the title-page of Estelle's precious Telemaque, and
on the back was written in French, If any good Christian ever finds
this, I pray him to carry it to M. the French Consul at Algiers. We
are five poor prisoners, the Abbe de St. Eudoce, Estelle, daughter of
the Comte de Bourke, and our servants, Jacques Hebert, Laurent
Callaghan, Victorine Renouf. The Cabeleyzes are taking us away to
their mountains. We are in slavery, in hunger, filth, and deprivation
of all things. We pray day and night that the good God will send some
one to rescue us, for we are in great misery, and they persecute us to
make us deny our faith. O, whoever you may be, come and deliver us
while we are yet alive.'
Arthur was almost choked with tears as he translated this piteous
letter to the lieutenant, and recollected the engaging, enthusiastic
little maiden, as he had seen her on the Rhone, but now brought to
such a state. He implored Mr. Bullock to pursue the track up the
mountain, and was grieved at this being treated as absurdly
impossible, but then recollecting himself, 'You could not, sir, but I
might follow her and make them understand that she must be saved—'
'And give them another captive,' said Bullock; 'I thought you had
had enough of that. You will do more good to this flame of yours—'
'No flame, sir. She is a mere child, little older than her
brother. But she must not remain among these lawless savages.'
'No! But we don't throw the helve after the hatchet, my lad! All
you can do is to take this epistle to the French Consul, who might
find it hard to understand without your explanations. At any rate, my
orders are to bring you safe on board again.'
Arthur had no choice but to submit, and Captain Beresford, who had
a wife and children at home, was greatly touched by the sight of the
childish writing of the poor little motherless girl; above all when
Arthur explained that the high-sounding title of Abbe de St. Eudoce
only meant one who was more likely to be a charge than a help to her.
France was for the nonce allied with England, and the dread of
passing to Sweden through British seas had apparently been quite
futile, since, if Captain Beresford recollected the Irish blood of the
Count, it was only as an additional cause for taking interest in him.
Towards the Moorish pirates the interest of the two nations united
them. It was intolerable to think of the condition of the captives;
and the captain, anxious to lose no time, rejoiced that his orders
were such as to justify him in sailing at once for Algiers to take
effectual measures with the consul before letting the family know the
situation of the poor Demoiselle de Bourke.
CHAPTER XI—THE PIRATE CITY
'With dazed vision unawares
From the long alley's latticed shade
Emerged, I came upon the great
Pavilion of the Caliphat.
Right to the carven cedarn doors,
Flung inward over spangled floors,
Broad-based flights of marble stairs
Ran up with golden balustrade,
After the fashion of the time,
And humour of the golden prime
Of good Haroun Alraschid.'
Civilised and innocuous existence has no doubt been a blessing to
Algiers as well as to the entire Mediterranean, but it has not
improved the picturesqueness of its aspect any more than the wild and
splendid 'tiger, tiger burning bright,' would be more ornamental with
his claws pared, the fiery gleam of his yellow eyes quenched, and his
spirit tamed, so as to render him only an exaggerated domestic cat.
The steamer, whether of peace or war, is a melancholy substitute for
the splendid though sinister galley, with her ranks of oars and towers
of canvas, or for the dainty lateen-sailed vessels, skimming the
waters like flying fish, and the Frank garb ill replaces the graceful
Arab dress. The Paris-like block of houses ill replaces the graceful
Moorish architecture, undisturbed when the Calypso sailed into the
harbour, and the amphitheatre-like city rose before her, in successive
terraces of dazzling white, interspersed with palms and other trees
here and there, with mosques and minarets rising above them, and with
a crown of strong fortifications. The harbour itself was protected by
a strongly-fortified mole, and some parley passed with the governor of
the strong and grim-looking castle adjacent—a huge round tower
erected by the Spaniards, and showing three ranks of brazen teeth in
the shape of guns.
Finally, the Algerines having been recently brought to their
bearings, as Captain Beresford said, entrance was permitted, and the
Calypso enjoyed the shelter of the mole; while he, in full-dress
uniform, took boat and went ashore, and with him the two escaped
prisoners. Fareek remained on board till the English Consul could be
consulted on his fate.
England and France were on curious terms with Algiers. The French
had bombarded the city in 1686, and had obtained a treaty by which a
consul constantly resided in the city, and the persons and property of
French subjects were secured from piracy, or if captured were always
released. The English had made use of the possession of Gibraltar and
Minorca to enforce a like treaty. There was a little colony of
European merchants—English, French, and Dutch—in the lower town,
near the harbour, above which the Arab town rose, as it still rises,
in a steep stair. Ships of all these nations traded at the port, and
quite recently the English Consul, Thomas Thompson by name, had
vindicated the honour of his flag by citing before the Dey a man who
had insulted him on the narrow causeway of the mole. The Moor was
sentenced to receive 2200 strokes of bastinado on the feet, 1000 the
first day, 1200 on the second, and he died in consequence, so that
Englishmen safely walked the narrow streets. The Dey who had
inflicted this punishment was, however, lately dead. Mehemed had been
elected and installed by the chief Janissaries, and it remained to be
proved whether he would show himself equally anxious to be on good
terms with the Christian Powers.
Arthur's heart had learnt to beat at sight of the British ensign
with emotions very unlike those with which he had seen it wave at
Sheriffmuir; but it looked strange above the low walls of a Moorish
house, plain outside, but with a richly cusped and painted horse-shoe
arch at the entrance to a lovely cloistered court, with a sparkling
fountain surrounded by orange trees with fruit of all shades from
green to gold. Servants in white garments and scarlet fezzes, black,
brown, or white (by courtesy), seemed to swarm in all directions; and
one of them called a youth in European garb, but equally dark-faced
with the rest, and not too good an English scholar. However, he
conducted them through a still more beautiful court, lined with
brilliant mosaics in the spandrels of the exquisite arches supported
on slender shining marble columns.
Mr. Thompson's English coat and hearty English face looked
incongruous, as at sight of the blue and white uniform he came forward
with all the hospitable courtesy due to a post-captain. There was
shaking of hands, and doffing of cocked hats, and calling for wine,
and pipes, and coffee, in the Alhambra-like hall, where a table
covered with papers tied with red tape, in front of a homely leathern
chair, looked more homelike than suitable. Other chairs there were
for Frank guests, who preferred them to the divan and piles of
cushions on which the Moors transacted business.
'What can I do for you, sir?' he asked of the captain, 'or for this
little master,' he added, looking at Ulysse, who was standing by
Arthur. 'He is serving the King early.'
'I don't belong to your King George,' broke out the young
gentleman. 'He is an usurpateur. I have only this uniform on till I
can get my proper clothes. I am the son of the Comte de Bourke,
Ambassador to Spain and Sweden. I serve no one but King Louis!'
'That is plain to be seen!' said Mr. Thompson. 'The Gallic cock
crows early. But is he indeed the son of Count Bourke, about whom the
French Consul has been in such trouble?'
'Even so, sir,' replied the captain. 'I am come to ask you to
present him, with this gentleman, Mr. Hope, to your French colleague.
Mr. Hope, to whom the child's life and liberty are alike owing, has
information to give which may lead to the rescue of the boy's sister
and uncle with their servants.'
Mr. Thompson had heard of a Moorish galley coming in with an
account of having lost a Genoese prize, with ladies on board, in the
late storm. He was sure that the tidings Mr. Hope brought would be
most welcome, but he knew that the French Consul was gone up with a
distinguished visitor, M. Dessault, for an audience of the Dey; and,
in the meantime, his guests must dine with him. And Arthur narrated
The Consul shook his head when he heard of Djigheli Bay.
'Those fellows, the Cabeleyzes, hate the French, and make little
enough of the Dey, though they do send home Moors who fall into their
hands. Did you see a ruined fort on a promontory? That was the
Bastion de France. The old King Louis put it up and garrisoned it,
but these rogues contrived a surprise, and made four hundred
prisoners, and ever since they have been neither to have nor to hold.
Well for you, young gentleman, that you did not fall into their
hands, but those of the country Moors—very decent folk—descended,
they say, from the Spanish Moors. A renegade got you off, did he?
Yes, they will sometimes do that, though at an awful risk. If they
are caught, they are hung up alive on hooks to the walls. You had an
escape, I can tell you, and so had he, poor fellow, of being taken
'He knew the risk!' said Arthur, in a low voice; 'but my mother had
once been good to him, and he dared everything for me.'
The Consul readily estimated Arthur's legacy as amounting to little
less than 200 pounds, and was also ready to give him bills of exchange
for it. The next question was as to Fareek. To return him to his own
country was impossible; and though the Consul offered to buy him of
Arthur, not only did the young Scot revolt at the idea of making
traffic of the faithful fellow, but Mr. Thompson owned that there
might be some risk in Algiers of his being recognised as a runaway;
and though this was very slight, it was better not to give any cause
of offence. Captain Beresford thought the poor man might be disposed
of at Port Mahon, and Arthur kept to himself that Tam's bequest was
sacred to him. His next wish was for clothes to which he might have a
better right than to the uniform of the senior midshipman of H.M.S.
Calypso—a garb in which he did not like to appear before the French
Consul. Mr. Thompson consulted his Greek clerk, and a chest belonging
to a captured merchantman, which had been claimed as British property,
but had not found an owner, was opened, and proved to contain a
wardrobe sufficient to equip Arthur like other gentlemen of the day,
in a dark crimson coat, with a little gold lace about it, and the rest
of the dress white, a wide beaver hat, looped up with a rosette, and
everything, indeed, except shoes, and he was obliged to retain those
of the senior midshipman. With his dark hair tied back, and a
suspicion of powder, he found himself more like the youth whom Lady
Nithsdale had introduced in Madame de Varennes' salon than he had felt
for the last month; and, moreover, his shyness and awkwardness had in
great measure disappeared during his vicissitudes, and he had made
many steps towards manhood.
Ulysse had in the meantime been consigned to a kind, motherly,
portly Mrs. Thompson, who, accustomed as she was to hearing of strange
adventures, was aghast at what the child had undergone, and was
enchanted with the little French gentleman who spoke English so well,
and to whom his Grand Seigneur airs returned by instinct in contact
with a European lady; but his eye instantly sought Arthur, nor would
he be content without a seat next to his protector at the dinner,
early as were all dinners then, and a compound of Eastern and Western
dishes, the latter very welcome to the travellers, and affording the
Consul's wife themes of discourse on her difficulties in compounding
Pipes, siesta, and coffee followed, Mr. Thompson assuring them that
his French colleague would not be ready to receive them till after the
like repose had been undergone, and that he had already sent a billet
to announce their coming.
The French Consulate was not distant. The fleur-de-lis waved over
a house similar to Mr. Thompson's, but they were admitted with greater
ceremony, when Mr. Thompson at length conducted them. Servants and
slaves, brown and black, clad in white with blue sashes, and white
officials in blue liveries, were drawn up in the first court in two
lines to receive them; and the Chevalier, taking it all to himself,
paraded in front with the utmost grandeur, until, at the next archway,
two gentlemen, resplendent in gold lace, came forward with low bows.
At sight of the little fellow there were cries of joy. M. Dessault
spread out his arms, clasped the child to his breast, and shed tears
over him, so that the less emotional Englishmen thought at first that
they must be kinsmen. However, Arthur came in for a like embrace as
the boy's preserver; and if Captain Beresford had not stepped back and
looked uncomprehending and rigid he might have come in for the same.
Seated in the verandah, Arthur told his tale and presented the
letter, over which there were more tears, as, indeed, well there might
be over the condition of the little girl and her simple mode of
describing it. It was nearly a month since the corsair had arrived,
and the story of the Genoese tartane being captured and lost with
French ladies on board had leaked out. The French Consul had himself
seen and interrogated the Dutch renegade captain, had become convinced
of the identity of the unfortunate passengers, and had given up all
hopes of them, so that he greeted the boy as one risen from the dead.
To know that the boy's sister and uncle were still in the hands of
the Cabeleyzes was almost worse news than the death of his mother, for
this wild Arab tribe had a terrible reputation even among the Moors
The only thing that could be devised after consultation between the
two consuls, the French envoy, and the English captain, was that an
audience should be demanded of the Dey, and Estelle's letter presented
the next morning. Meanwhile Arthur and Ulysse were to remain as
guests at the English Consulate. The French one would have made them
welcome, but there was no lady in his house; and Mrs. Thompson had
given Arthur a hint that his little charge would be the better for
There was further consultation whether young Hope, as a runaway
slave— who had, however, carried off a relapsed renegade with
him—would be safe on shore beyond the precincts of the Consulate; but
as no one had any claim on him, and it might be desirable to have his
evidence at hand, it was thought safe that he should remain, and
Captain Beresford promised to come ashore in the morning to join the
petitioners to the Dey.
Perhaps he was not sorry, any more than was Arthur, for the
opportunity of beholding the wonderful city and palace, which were
like a dream of beauty. He came ashore early, with two or three
officers, all in full uniform; and the audience having been granted,
the whole party— consuls, M. Dessault, and their attendants—mounted
the steep, narrow stone steps leading up the hill between the walls of
houses with fantastically carved doorways or lattices; while
bare-legged Arabs niched themselves into every coigne of vantage with
baskets of fruit or eggs, or else embroidering pillows and slippers
with exquisite taste.
The beauty of the buildings was unspeakable, and they projected
enough to make a cool shade—only a narrow fragment of deep blue sky
being visible above them. The party did not, however, ascend the
whole 497 steps, as the abode of the Dey was then not the citadel, but
the palace of Djenina in the heart of the city. Turning aside, they
made their way thither over terraces partly in the rock, partly on the
roofs of houses.
Fierce-looking Janissaries, splendidly equipped, guarded the
entrance, with an air so proud and consequential as to remind Arthur
of poor Yusuf's assurances of the magnificence that might await little
Ulysse as an Aga of that corps. Even as they admitted the infidels
they looked defiance at them from under the manifold snowy folds of
their mighty turbans.
If the beauty of the consuls' houses had struck and startled
Arthur, far more did the region into which he was now admitted seem
like a dream of fairyland as he passed through ranks of orange trees
round sparkling fountains—worthy of Versailles itself—courts
surrounded with cloisters, sparkling with priceless mosaics, in those
brilliant colours which Eastern taste alone can combine so as to avoid
gaudiness, arches and columns of ineffable grace and richness, halls
with domes emulating the sky, or else ceiled with white marble
lacework, whose tracery seemed delicate and varied as the richest
Venice point! But the wonderful beauty seemed to him to have in it
something terrible and weird, like that fairyland of his native
country, whose glory and charm is overshadowed by the knowledge of the
teinds to be paid to hell. It was an unnatural, incomprehensible
world; and from longing to admire and examine, he only wished to be
out of it, felt it a relief to fix his eyes upon the uniforms of the
captain and the consuls, and did not wonder that Ulysse, instead of
proudly heading the procession, shrank up to him and clasped his hand
as his protector.
The human figures were as strange as the architecture; the
glittering of Janissaries in the outer court, which seemed a sort of
guardroom, the lines of those on duty in the next, and in the third
court the black slaves in white garments, enhancing the blackness of
their limbs, each with a formidable curved scimitar. At the golden
cusped archway beyond, all had to remove their shoes as though
entering a mosque. The Consuls bade the new-comers submit to this,
adding that it was only since the recent victory that it had not been
needful to lay aside the sword on entering the Dey's august presence.
The chamber seemed to the eyes of the strangers one web of magic
splendour—gold-crusted lacework above, arches on one side open to a
beauteous garden, and opposite semicircles of richly-robed Janissary
officers, all culminating in a dazzling throne, where sat a
white-turbaned figure, before whom the visitors all had to bow lower
than European independence could well brook.
The Dey's features were not very distinctly seen at the distance
where etiquette required them to stand; but Arthur thought him hardly
worthy to be master of such fine-looking beings as Abou Ben Zegri and
many others of the Moors, being in fact a little sturdy Turk, with
Tartar features, not nearly so graceful as the Moors and Arabs, nor so
handsome and imposing as the Janissaries of Circassian blood. Turkish
was the court language; and even if he understood any other, an
interpreter was a necessary part of the etiquette. M. Dessault
instructed the interpreter, who understood with a readiness which
betrayed that he was one of the many renegades in the Algerine
The Dey was too dignified to betray much emotion; but he spoke a
few words, and these were understood to profess his willingness to
assist in the matter. A richly-clad official, who was, Mr. Thompson
whispered, a Secretary of State, came to attend the party in a smaller
but equally beautiful room, where pipes and coffee were served, and a
consultation took place with the two Consuls, which was, of course,
incomprehensible to the anxious listeners. M. Dessault's interest was
deeply concerned in the matter, since he was a connection of the
Varennes family, to which poor Madame de Bourke belonged.
Commands from the Dey, it was presently explained, would be utterly
disregarded by these wild mountaineers—nay, would probably lead to
the murder of the captives in defiance. But it was known that if
these wild beings paid deference to any one, it was to the Grand
Marabout at Bugia; and the Secretary promised to send a letter in the
Dey's name, which, with a considerable present, might induce him to
undertake the negotiation. Therewith the audience terminated, after
M. Dessault had laid a splendid diamond snuff-box at the feet of the
The Consuls were somewhat disgusted at the notion of having
recourse to the Marabouts, whom the French Consul called vilains
charlatan, and the English one filthy scoundrels and impostors. Like
the Indian Fakirs, opined Captain Beresford; like the begging friars,
said M. Dessault, and to this the Consuls assented. Just, however, as
the Dominicans, besides the low class of barefooted friars, had a
learned and cultivated set of brethren in high repute at the
Universities, and a general at Rome, so it appeared that the
Marabouts, besides their wild crew of masterful beggars, living at
free quarters, partly through pretended sanctity, partly through the
awe inspired by cabalistic arts, had a higher class who dwelt in
cities, and were highly esteemed, for the sake of either ten years'
abstinence from food or the attainment of fifty sciences, by one or
other of which means an angelic nature was held to be attained.
Fifty sciences! This greatly astonished the strangers, but they
were told by the residents that all the knowledge of the highly
cultivated Arabs of Bagdad and the Moors of Spain had been handed on
to the select few of their African descendants, and that really
beautiful poetry was still produced by the Marabouts. Certainly no
one present could doubt of the architectural skill and taste of the
Algerines, and Mr. Thompson declared that not a tithe of the wonders
of their mechanical art had been seen, describing the wonderful silver
tree of Tlemcen, covered with birds, who, by the action of wind, were
made to produce the songs of each different species which they
represented, till a falcon on the topmost branch uttered a harsh cry,
and all became silent. General education had, however, fallen to a
low ebb among the population, and the wisdom of the ancients was
chiefly concentrated among the higher class of Marabouts, whose
headquarters were at Bugia, and their present chief, Hadji Eseb Ben
Hassan, had the reputation of a saint, which the Consuls believed to
be well founded.
The Cabeleyzes, though most irregular Moslems, were extremely
superstitious as regarded the supernatural arts supposed to be
possessed by the Marabouts, and if these could be induced to take up
the cause of the prisoners, there would be at least some chance of
And not long after the party had arrived at the French Consulate,
where they were to dine, a messenger arrived with a parcel rolled up
in silk, embroidered with gold, and containing a strip of paper
beautifully emblazoned, and in Turkish characters. The Consul read
it, and found it to be a really strong recommendation to the Marabout
to do his utmost for the servants of the Dey's brother, the King of
France, now in the hands of the children of Shaitan.
'Well purchased,' said M. Dessault; 'though that snuff-box came
from the hands of the Elector of Bavaria!'
As soon as the meal was over, the French Consul, instead of taking
his siesta as usual, began to take measures for chartering a French
tartane to go to Bugia immediately. He found there was great interest
excited, not only among the Christian merchants, but among Turks,
Moors, and Jews, so horrible was the idea of captivity among the
Cabeleyzes. The Dey set the example of sending down five purses of
sequins towards the young lady's ransom, and many more contributions
came in unasked. It was true that the bearers expected no small
consideration in return, but this was willingly given, and the feeling
manifested was a perfect astonishment to all the friends at the
The French national interpreter, Ibrahim Aga, was charged with the
negotiations with the Marabout. Arthur entreated to go with him, and
with some hesitation this was agreed to, since the sight of an old
friend might be needed to reassure any survivors of the poor
captives— for it was hardly thought possible that all could still
survive the hardships of the mountains in the depth of winter, even if
they were spared by the ferocity of their captors.
Ulysse, the little son and heir, was not to be exposed to the
perils of the seas till his sister's fate was decided, and accordingly
he was to remain under the care of Mrs. Thompson; while Captain
Beresford meant to cruise about in the neighbourhood, having a great
desire to know the result of the enterprise, and hoping also that if
Mademoiselle de Bourke still lived he might be permitted to restore
her to her relations. Letters, clothes, and comforts were provided,
and placed under the charge of the interpreter and of Arthur, together
with a considerable gratuity for the Marabout, and authority for any
ransom that Cabeleyze rapacity might require,—still, however, with
great doubt whether all might not be too late.
CHAPTER XII—ON THE MOUNTAINS
'We cannot miss him. He doth make our fire,
Fetch in our wood, and serve in offices
That profit us.' Tempest.
Bugia, though midway on the 'European lake,' is almost unknown to
modern travellers, though it has become a French possession.
It looked extremely beautiful when the French tartane entered it,
rising from the sea like a magnificent amphitheatre, at the foot of
the mountains that circled round it, and guarded by stern battlemented
castles, while the arches of one of the great old Roman aqueducts made
a noble cord to the arc described by the lower part of the town.
The harbour, a finer one naturally than that of Algiers, contained
numerous tartanes and other vessels, for, as Ibrahim Aga, who could
talk French very well, informed Arthur, the inhabitants were good
workers in iron, and drove a trade in plough-shares and other
implements, besides wax and oil. But it was no resort of Franks, and
he insisted that Arthur should only come on shore in a Moorish dress,
which had been provided at Algiers. Thanks to young Hope's naturally
dark complexion, and the exposure of the last month, he might very
well pass for a Moor: and he had learnt to wear the white caftan,
wide trousers, broad sash, and scarlet fez, circled with muslin, so
naturally that he was not likely to be noticed as a European.
The city, in spite of its external beauty, proved to be ruinous
within, and in the midst of the Moorish houses and courts still were
visible remnants of the old Roman town that had in past ages
flourished there. Like Algiers, it had narrow climbing streets,
excluding sunshine, and through these the guide Ibrahim had secured
led the way; while in single file came the interpreter, Arthur, two
black slaves bearing presents for the Marabout, and four men besides
as escort. Once or twice there was a vista down a broader space, with
an awning over it, where selling and buying were going on, always of
some single species of merchandise.
Thus they arrived at one of those Moorish houses, to whose beauty
Arthur was becoming accustomed. It had, however, a less luxurious and
grave aspect than the palaces of Algiers, and the green colour sacred
to the Prophet prevailed in the inlaid work, which Ibrahim Aga told
him consisted chiefly of maxims from the Koran.
No soldiers were on guard, but there were a good many young men
wholly clad in white—neophytes endeavouring to study the fifty
sciences, mostly sitting on the ground, writing copies, either of the
sacred books, or of the treatises on science and medicine which had
descended from time almost immemorial; all rehearsed aloud what they
learnt or wrote, so as to produce a strange hum. A grave official,
similarly clad, but with a green sash, came to meet them, and told
them that the chief Marabout was sick; but on hearing from the
interpreter that they were bearers of a letter from the Dey, he went
back with the intelligence, and presently returned salaaming very low,
to introduce them to another of the large halls with lacework
ceilings, where it was explained that the Grand Marabout was, who was
suffering from ague. The fit was passing off, and he would be able to
attend of the coffee and the pipes which were presented to his
honoured guests so soon as they had partaken them.
After a delay, very trying to Arthur's anxiety, though beguiled by
such coffee and tobacco as he was never likely to encounter again,
Hadji Eseb Ben Hassan, a venerable-looking man, appeared, with a fine
white beard and keen eyes, slenderly formed, and with an air of very
considerable ability—much more so than the Dey, in all his glittering
splendour of gold, jewels, and embroidery, whereas this old man wore
the pure white woollen garments of the Moor, with the green sash, and
an emerald to fasten the folds of his white turban.
Ibrahim Aga prostrated himself as if before the Dey, and laid
before the Marabout, as a first gift, a gold watch; then, after a
blessing had been given in return, he produced with great ceremony the
Dey's letter, to which every one in the apartment did obeisance by
touching the floor with their foreheads, and the Grand Marabout
further rubbed it on his brow before proceeding to read it, which he
chose to do for himself, chanting it out in a low, humming voice. It
was only a recommendation, and the other letter was from the French
Consul containing all particulars. The Marabout seemed much startled,
and interrogated the interpreter. Arthur could follow them in some
degree, and presently the keen eye of the old man seemed to detect his
interest, for there was a pointing to him, an explanation that he had
been there, and presently Hadji Eseb addressed a question to him in
the vernacular Arabic. He understood and answered, but the imperfect
language or his looks betrayed him, for Hadji Eseb demanded, 'Thou art
Frank, my son?'
Ibrahim Aga, mortally afraid of the consequences of having brought
a disguised Giaour into these sacred precincts, began what Arthur
perceived to be a lying assurance of his having embraced Islam; and he
was on the point of breaking in upon the speech, when the Marabout
observed his gesture, and said gravely, 'My son, falsehood is not
needed to shield a brave Christian; a faithful worshipper of Issa Ben
Mariam receives honour if he does justice and works righteousness
according to his own creed, even though he be blind to the true faith.
Is it true, good youth, that thou art—not as this man would have me
believe—one of the crew from Algiers, but art come to strive for the
release of thy sister?'
Arthur gave the history as best he could, for his month's practice
had made him able to speak the vernacular so as to be fairly
comprehensible, and the Marabout, who was evidently a man of very high
abilities, often met him half way, and suggested the word at which he
stumbled. He was greatly touched by the account, even in the
imperfect manner in which the youth could give it; and there was no
doubt that he was a man of enlarged mind and beneficence, who had not
only mastered the fifty sciences, but had seen something of the world.
He had not only made his pilgrimage to Mecca more than once, but
had been at Constantinople, and likewise at Tunis and Tripoli; thus,
with powers both acute and awake, he understood more than his
countrymen of European Powers and their relation to one another. As a
civilised and cultivated man, he was horrified at the notion of the
tenderly-nurtured child being in the clutches of savages like the
Cabeleyzes; but the first difficulty was to find out where she was;
for, as he said, pointing towards the mountains, they were a wide
space, and it would be hunting a partridge on the hills.
Looking at his chief councillor, Azim Reverdi, he demanded whether
some of the wanderers of their order, whom he named, could not be sent
through the mountains to discover where any such prisoners might be;
but after going into the court in quest of these persons, Azim
returned with tidings that a Turkish soldier had returned on the
previous day to the town, and had mentioned that on Mount Couco, Sheyk
Abderrahman was almost at war with his subordinates, Eyoub and Ben
Yakoub, about some shipwrecked Frank captives, if they had not already
settled the matter by murdering them all, and, as was well known,
nothing would persuade this ignorant, lawless tribe that nothing was
more abhorrent to the Prophet than human sacrifices.
Azim had already sent two disciples to summon the Turk to the
presence of the Grand Marabout, and in due time he appeared—a rough,
heavy, truculent fellow enough, but making awkward salaams as one in
great awe of the presence in which he stood—unwilling awe
perhaps—full of superstitious fear tempered by pride—for the haughty
Turks revolted against homage to one of the subject race of Moors.
His language was only now and then comprehensible to Arthur, but
Ibrahim kept up a running translation into French for his benefit.
There were captives—infidels—saved from the wreck, he knew not
how many, but he was sure of one—a little maid with hair like the
unwound cocoon, so that they called her the Daughter of the Silkworm.
It was about her that the chief struggle was. She had fallen to the
lot of Ben Yakoub, who had been chestnut-gathering by the sea at the
time of the wreck; but when he arrived on Mount Couco the Sheyk
Abderrahman had claimed her and hers as the head of the tribe, and had
carried her off to his own adowara in the valley of Ein Gebel.
The Turk, Murad, had been induced by Yakoub to join him and sixteen
more armed men whom he had got together to demand her. For it was he
who had rescued her from the waves, carried her up the mountains, fed
her all this time, and he would not have her snatched away from him,
though for his part Murad thought it would have been well to be quit
of them, for not only were they Giaours, but he verily believed them
to be of the race of Jinns. The little fair-haired maid had papers
with strange signs on them. She wrote—actually wrote—a thing that
he believed no Sultana Velide even had ever been known to do at
Stamboul. Moreover, she twisted strings about on her hands in a manner
that was fearful to look at. It was said to be only to amuse the
children, but for his part he believed it was for some evil spell.
What was certain was that the other, a woman full grown, could,
whenever any one offended her, raise a Jinn in a cloud of smoke, which
caused such sneezing that she was lost sight of. And yet these
creatures had so bewitched their captors that there were like to be
hard blows before they were disposed of, unless his advice were taken
to make an end of them altogether. Indeed, two of the men, the mad
Santon and the chief slave, had been taken behind a bush to be
sacrificed, when the Daughter of the Silkworm came between with her
incantations, and fear came upon Sheyk Yakoub. Murad evidently
thought it highly advisable that the chief Marabout should intervene
to put a stop to these doings, and counteract the mysterious influence
exercised by these strange beings.
High time, truly, Arthur and Ibrahim Aga likewise felt it, to go to
the rescue, since terror and jealousy might, it appeared, at any time
impel ces barbares feroces, as Ibrahim called them, to slaughter their
prisoners. To their great joy, the Marabout proved to be of the same
opinion, in spite of his sickness, which, being an intermitting ague,
would leave him free for a couple of days, and might be driven off by
the mountain air. He promised to set forth early the next day, and
kept the young man and the interpreter as his guests for the night,
Ibrahim going first on board to fetch the parcel of clothes and
provisions which M. Dessault had sent for the Abbe and Mademoiselle de
Bourke, and for an instalment of the ransom, which the Hadji Eseb
assured him might safely be carried under his own sacred protection.
Arthur did not see much of his host, who seemed to be very busy
consulting with his second in command on the preparations, for
probably the expedition was a delicate undertaking, even for him, and
his companions had to be carefully chosen.
Ibrahim had advised Arthur to stay quietly where he was, and not
venture into the city, and he spent his time as he best might by the
help of a narghile, which was hospitably presented to him, though the
strictness of Marabout life forbade the use alike of tobacco and
Before dawn the courts of the house were astir. Mules, handsomely
trapped, were provided to carry the principal persons of the party
wherever it might be possible, and there were some spare ones, ridden
at first by inferiors, but intended for the captives, should they be
It was very cold, being the last week in November, and all were
wrapped in heavy woollen haiks over their white garments, except one
wild- looking fellow, whose legs and arms were bare, and who only
seemed to possess one garment of coarse dark sackcloth. He skipped
and ran by the side of the mules, chanting and muttering, and Ibrahim
observed in French that he was one of the Sunakites, or fanatic
Marabouts, and advised Arthur to beware of him; but, though dangerous
in himself, his presence would be a sufficient protection from all
other thieves or vagabonds. Indeed, Arthur saw the fellow glaring
unpleasantly at him, when the sun summoned all the rest to their
morning devotions. He was glad that he had made the fact of his
Christianity known, for he could no more act Moslem than BE one, and
Hadji Eseb kept the Sunakite in check by a stern glance, so that no
Afterwards Arthur was bidden to ride near the chief, who talked a
good deal, asking intelligent questions. Gibraltar had impressed him
greatly, and it also appeared that in one of his pilgrimages the
merchant vessel he was in had been rescued from some Albanian pirates
by an English ship, which held the Turks as allies, and thus saved
them from undergoing vengeance for the sufferings of the Greeks. Thus
the good old man felt that he owed a debt of gratitude which Allah
required him to pay, even to the infidel.
Up steep roads the mules climbed. The first night the halt was at
a Cabyle village, where hospitality was eagerly offered to persons of
such high reputation for sanctity as the Marabouts; but afterwards
habitations grew more scanty as the ground rose higher, and there was
no choice but to encamp in the tents brought by the attendants, and
which seemed to Arthur a good exchange for the dirty Cabyle huts.
Altogether the journey took six days. The mules climbed along wild
paths on the verge of giddy precipices, where even on foot Arthur
would have hesitated to venture. The scenery would now be thought
magnificent, but it was simply frightful to the mind of the early
eighteenth century, especially when a constant watch had to be kept to
avoid the rush of stones, or avalanches, on an almost imperceptible,
nearly perpendicular path, where it was needful to trust to the
guidance of the Sunakite, the only one of the cavalcade who had been
On the last day they found themselves on the borders of a slope of
pines and other mountain-growing trees, bordering a wide valley or
ravine where the Sunakite hinted that Abderrahman might be found.
The cavalcade pursued a path slightly indicated by the treading of
feet and hoofs, and presently there emerged on them from a slighter
side track between the red stems of the great pines a figure nearly
bent double under the weight of two huge faggots, with a basket of
great solid fir-cones on the top of them. Very scanty garments seemed
to be vouchsafed to him, and the bare arms and legs were so white, as
well as of a length so unusual among Arabs or Moors, that
simultaneously the Marabout exclaimed, 'One of the Giaour captives,'
and Arthur cried out, 'La Jeunesse! Laurence!'
There was only just time for a start and a response, 'M. Arture!
And is it yourself?' before a howl of vituperation was heard—of
abuse of all the ancestry of the cur of an infidel slave, the father
of tardiness—and a savage-looking man appeared, brandishing a cudgel,
with which he was about to belabour his unfortunate slave, when he was
arrested by astonishment, and perhaps terror, at the goodly company of
Marabouts. Hadji Eseb entered into conversation with him, and
meanwhile Lanty broke forth, 'O wirrah, wirrah, Master Arthur! an'
have they made a haythen Moor of ye? By the powers, but this is worse
than all. What will Mademoiselle say?—she that has held up the faith
of every one of us, like a little saint and martyr as she is! Though,
to be sure, ye are but a Protestant; only these folks don't know the
'If you would let me speak, Laurence,' said Arthur, 'you would hear
that I am no more a Moslem than yourself, only my Frank dress might
lead to trouble. We are come to deliver you all, with a ransom from
the French Consul. Are you all safe—Mademoiselle and all? and how
many of you?'
'Mademoiselle and M. l'Abbe were safe and well three days since,'
said Lanty; 'but that spalpeen there is my master and poor
Victorine's, and will not let us put a foot near them.'
'Where are they? How many?' anxiously asked Arthur.
'There are five of us altogether,' said Lanty; 'praise be to Him
who has saved us thus far. We know the touch of cold steel at our
throats, as well as ever I knew the poor misthress' handbell; and
unless our Lady, and St. Lawrence, and the rest of them, keep the
better watch on us, the rascals will only ransom us without our heads,
so jealous and bloodthirsty they are. The Bey of Constantina sent for
us once, but all we got by that was worse usage than the very dogs in
Paris, and being dragged up these weary hills, where Maitre Hubert and
I carried Mademoiselle every foot of the way on our backs, and she
begging our pardon so prettily—only she could not walk, the rocks had
so bruised her darlin' little feet.'
'This is their chief holy man, Lanty. If any one can prevail on
these savages to release you it is he.'
'And how come you to be hand and glove with them, Masther
Arthur—you that I thought drownded with poor Madame and the little
Chevalier and the rest?'
'The Chevalier is not drowned, Laurent. He is safe in the Consul's
house at Algiers.'
'Now heaven and all the saints be praised! The Chevalier safe and
well! 'Tis a very miracle!' cried Lanty, letting fall his burthen, as
he clasped his hands in ecstasy and performed a caper which, in spite
of all his master Eyoub's respect for the Marabouts, brought a furious
yell of rage, and a tremendous blow with the cudgel, which Lanty, in
his joy, seemed to receive as if it had been a feather.
Hadji Eseb averted a further blow; and understanding from Arthur
that the poor fellow's transport was caused by the tidings of the
safety of his master's son, he seemed touched, and bade that he and
Eyoub should lead the way to the place of durance of the chief
prisoners. On the way Ibrahim Aga interrogated both Eyoub in
vernacular Arabic and Lanty in French. The former was sullen, only
speaking from his evident awe of the Marabouts, the latter voluble
with joy and hope.
Arthur learnt that the letter he had found under the stone was the
fourth that Estelle and Hebert had written. There had been a terrible
journey up the mountains, when Lanty had fully thought Victorine must
close her sufferings in some frightful ravine; but, nevertheless, she
had recovered health and strength with every day's ascent above the
close, narrow valley. They were guarded all the way by Arabs armed to
the teeth to prevent a rescue by the Bey of Constantina.
On their arrival at the valley, which was the headquarters of the
tribe, the sheyk of the entire clan had laid claim to the principal
captives, and had carried off the young lady and her uncle; and in his
dwelling she had a boarded floor to sleep on, and had been made much
more comfortable than in the squalid huts below. Her original master,
Yakoub, had, however, come to seize her, with the force described by
Murad. Then it was that again there was a threat to kill rather than
resign them; but on this occasion it was averted by Sheyk
Abderrahman's son, a boy of about fourteen, who threw himself on his
knees before Mademoiselle, and prayed his father earnestly for her
'They spared her then,' said Lanty, 'and, mayhap, worse still may
come of that. Yakoub, the villain, ended by getting her back till
they can have a council of their tribe, and there she is in his filthy
hut; but the gossoon, Selim, as they call him, prowls about the place
as if he were bewitched. All the children are, for that matter,
wherever she goes. She makes cats' cradles for them, and sings to
them, and tells them stories in her own sweet way out of the sacred
history—such as may bring her into trouble one of these days. Maitre
Hebert heard her one day telling them the story of Moses, and he
warned her that if she went on in that fashion it might be the death
of us all. "But," says she, "suppose we made Selim, and little
Zuleika, and all the rest of them, Christians? Suppose we brought all
the tribe to come down and ask baptism, like as St. Nona did in the
Lives of the Saints?" He told her it was more like that they would
only get her darling little head cut off, if no worse, but he could
not get her to think that mattered at all at all. She would have a
crown and a palm up in heaven, and after her name in the Calendar on
earth, bless her.'
Then he went on to tell that Yakoub was furious at the notion of
resigning his prize, and (Agamemnon-like) declared that if she were
taken from him he should demand Victorine from Eyoub. Unfortunately
she was recovering her good looks in the mountain air; and, worse
still, the spring of her 'blessed little Polichinelle' was broken,
though happily no one guessed it, and hitherto it had been enough to
show them the box.
CHAPTER XIII—CHRYSEIS AND BRISEIS
Restore, I pray, her proffered ransom take,
And in His priest, the Lord of Light revere.
Then through the ranks assenting murmurs rang,
The priest to reverence, and the ransom take.'
For one moment, before emerging from the forest, looking through an
opening in the trees, down a steep slope, a group of children could be
seen on the grass in front of the huts composing the adowara, little
brown figures in scanty garments, lying about evidently listening
intently to the figure, the gleam of whose blonde hair showed her
instantly to be Estelle de Bourke.
However, either the deputation had been descried, or Eyoub may have
made some signal, for when the calvalcade had wound about through the
remaining trees, and arrived among the huts, no one was to be seen.
There was only the irregular square of huts built of rough stones and
thatched with reeds, with big stones to keep the thatch on in the
storm; a few goats were tethered near, and there was a rush of the
great savage dogs, but they recognised Eyoub and Lanty, and were
'This is the chief danger,' whispered Lanty.
'Pray heaven the rogues do not murder them rather than give them
The Sunakite, beginning to make strange contortions and mutterings
in a low voice, seemed to terrify Eyoub greatly. Whether he pointed
it out or not, or whether Eyoub was induced by his gestures to show
it, was not clear to Arthur's mind; but at the chief abode, an
assemblage of two stone hovels and rudely-built walls, the party
halted, and made a loud knocking at the door, Hadji Eseb's solemn
tones bidding those within to open in the name of Allah.
It was done, disclosing a vista of men with drawn scimitars. The
Marabout demanded without ceremony where were the prisoners.
'At yonder house,' he was answered by Yakoub himself, pointing to
the farther end of the village.
'Dog of a liar,' burst forth the Sunakite. 'Dost thou think to
blind the eyes of the beloved of Allah, who knoweth the secrets of
heaven and earth, and hath the sigil of Suleiman Ben Daoud, wherewith
to penetrate the secret places of the false?'
The ferocious-looking guardians looked at each other as though
under the influence of supernatural terror, and then Hadji Eseb spoke:
'Salaam Aleikum, my children; no man need fear who listens to the will
of Allah, and honours his messengers.'
All made way for the dignified old man and his suite, and they
advanced into the court, where two men with drawn swords were keeping
guard over the captives, who were on their knees in a corner of the
The sabres were sheathed, and there was a shuffling away at the
advance of the Marabouts, Sheyk Yakoub making some apology about
having delayed to admit such guests, but excusing himself on the score
of supposing they were emissaries sent by those whose authority he so
defied that he had sworn to slaughter his prisoners rather than
Hadji Eseb replied with a quotation from the Koran forbidding
cruelty to the helpless, and sternly denounced wrath on the
transgressors, bidding Yakoub draw off his savage bodyguard.
The man was plainly alarmed, more especially as the Sunakite broke
out into one of his wild wails of denunciation, waving his hands like
a prophet of wrath, and predicting famine, disease, pestilence, to
these slack observers of the law of Mohammed.
This completed the alarm. The bodyguard fled away pell-mell,
Yakoub after them. His women shut themselves into some innermost
recesses, and the field was left to the Marabouts and the prisoners,
who, not understanding what all this meant, were still kneeling in
their corner. Hadji Eseb bade Arthur and the interpreter go to
At their advance a miserable embrowned figure, barefooted and half
clad in a ragged haik, roped round his waist, threw himself before the
fair- haired child, crying out in imperfect Arabic, 'Spare her, spare
her, great Lord! much is to be won by saving her.'
'We are come to save her,' said Arthur in French. 'Maitre Hebert,
do you not know me?'
Hubert looked up. 'M. Arture! M. Arture! Risen from the dead!'
he cried, threw himself into the young man's arms, and burst out into
a vehement sob; but in a second he recovered his manners and fell
back, while Estelle looked up.
'M. Arture,' she repeated. 'Ah! is it you? Then, is my mamma
alive and safe?'
'Alas! no,' replied Arthur; 'but your little brother is safe and
well at Algiers, and this good man, the Marabout, is come to deliver
'My mamma said you would protect us, and I knew you would come,
like Mentor, to save us,' said Estelle, clasping her hands with
ineffable joy. 'Oh, Monsieur! I thank you next to the good God and
the saints!' and she began fervently kissing Arthur's hand. He turned
to salute the Abbe, but was shocked to see how much more vacant the
poor gentleman's stare had become, and how little he seemed to
'Ah!' said Estelle, with her pretty, tender, motherly air, 'my poor
uncle has never seemed to understand since that dreadful day when they
dragged him and Maitre Hebert out into the wood and were going to kill
them. And he has fever every night. But, oh, M. Arture, did you say
my brother was safe?' she repeated, as if not able to dwell enough
upon the glad tidings.
'And I hope you will soon be with him,' said Arthur. 'But,
Mademoiselle, let me present you to the Grand Marabout, a sort of
Moslem Abbe, who has come all this way to obtain your release.'
He led Estelle forward, when she made a courtesy fit for her
grandmother's salon, and in very fluent Cabeleyze dialect gave thanks
for the kindness of coming to release her, and begged him to excuse
her uncle, who was sick, and, as you say here, 'stricken of Allah.'
The little French demoiselle's grace and politeness were by no
means lost on the Marabout, who replied to her graciously; and at the
sight of her reading M. Dessault's letter, which the interpreter
presented to her, one of the suite could not help exclaiming, 'Ah! if
women such as this will be went abroad in our streets, there would be
nothing to hope for in Paradise.'
Estelle did not seem to have suffered in health; indeed, in
Arthur's eyes, she seemed in these six weeks to have grown, and to
have more colour, while her expression had become less childish,
deeper, and higher. Her hair did not look neglected, though her
dress—the same dark blue which she had worn on the voyage—had become
very ragged and soiled, and her shoes were broken, and tied on with
strips of rag.
She gave a little scream of joy when the parcel of clothes sent by
the French Consul was given to her, only longing to send some to
Victorine before she retired to enjoy the comfort of clean and
respectable clothes; and in the meantime something was attempted for
the comfort of her companions, though it would not have been safe to
put them into Frankish garments, and none had been brought. Poor
Hebert was the very ghost of the stout and important maitre d'hotel,
and, indeed, the faithful man had borne the brunt of all the
privations and sufferings, doing his utmost to shield and protect his
little mistress and her helpless uncle.
When Estelle reappeared, dressed once more like a little French
lady (at least in the eyes of those who were not particular about
fit), she found a little feast being prepared for her out of the
provisions sent by the consuls; but she could not sit down to it till
Arthur, escorted by several of the Marabout's suite, had carried a
share both of the food and the garments to Lanty and Victorine.
They, however, were not to be found. The whole adowara seemed to
be deserted except by a few frightened women and children, and
Victorine and her Irish swain had no doubt been driven off into the
woods by Eyoub—no Achilles certainly, but equally unwilling with the
great Pelides to resign Briseis as a substitute for Chryseis.
It was too late to attempt anything more that night; indeed, at
sundown it became very cold. A fire was lighted in the larger room,
in the centre, where there was a hole for the exit of the smoke.
The Marabouts seemed to be praying or reciting the Koran on one
side of it, for there was a continuous chant or hum going on there;
but they seemed to have no objection to the Christians sitting
together on the other side conversing and exchanging accounts of their
adventures. Maitre Hebert could not sufficiently dilate on the spirit,
cheerfulness, and patience that Mademoiselle had displayed through
all. He only had to lament her imprudence in trying to talk of the
Christian faith to the children, telling them stories of the saints,
and doing what, if all the tribe had not been so ignorant, would have
brought destruction on them all. 'I would not have Monseigneur there
know of it for worlds,' said he, glancing at the Grand Marabout.
'Selim loves to hear such things,' said Estelle composedly. 'I
have taught him to say the Paternoster, and the meaning of it, and
Zuleika can nearly say them.'
'Misericorde!' cried M. Hubert. 'What may not the child have
brought on herself!'
'Selim will be a chief,' returned Estelle. 'He will make his
people do as he pleases, or he would do so; but now there will be no
one to tell him about the true God and the blessed Saviour,' she added
'Mademoiselle!' cried Hebert in indignant anger—'Mademoiselle
would not be ungrateful for our safety from these horrors.'
'Oh no!' exclaimed the child. 'I am very happy to return to my
poor papa, and my brothers, and my grandmamma. But I am sorry for
Selim! Perhaps some good mission fathers would go out to them like
those we heard of in Arcadia; and by and by, when I am grown up, I can
come back with some sisters to teach the women to wash their children
and not scold and fight.'
The maitre d'hotel sighed, and was relieved when Estelle retired to
the deserted women's apartments for the night. He seemed to think her
dangerous language might be understood and reported.
The next morning the Marabout sent messengers, who brought back
Yakoub and his people, and before many hours a sort of council was
convened in the court of Yakoub's house, consisting of all the
neighbouring heads of families, brown men, whose eyes gleamed fiercely
out from under their haiks, and who were armed to the teeth with
sabres, daggers, and, if possible, pistols and blunderbusses of all
the worn-out patterns in Europe—some no doubt as old as the Thirty
Years War; while those who could not attain to these weapons had the
long spears of their ancestors, and were no bad representatives of the
Amalekites of old.
After all had solemnly taken their seats there was a fresh arrival
of Sheyk Abderrahman and his ferocious-looking following. He himself
was a man of fine bearing, with a great black beard, and a
gold-embroidered sash stuck full of pistols and knives, and with poor
Madame de Bourke's best pearl necklace round his neck. His son Selim
was with him, a slim youth, with beautiful soft eyes glancing out from
under a haik, striped with many colours, such as may have been the
coat that marked Joseph as the heir.
There were many salaams and formalities, and then the chief
Marabout made a speech, explaining the purpose of his coming,
diplomatically allowing that the Cabeleyzes were not subject to the
Dey of Algiers, but showing that they enjoyed the advantages of the
treaty with France, and that therefore they were bound to release the
unfortunate shipwrecked captives, whom they had already plundered of
all their property. So far Estelle and Arthur, who were anxiously
watching, crouching behind the wall of the deserted house court, could
follow. Then arose yells and shouts of denial, and words too rapid to
be followed. In a lull, Hadji Eseb might be heard proffering ransom,
while the cries and shrieks so well known to accompany bargaining
Ibrahim Aga, who stood by the wall, here told them that Yakoub and
Eyoub seemed not unwilling to consent to the redemption of the male
captives, but that they claimed both the females. Hebert clenched his
teeth, and bade Ibrahim interfere and declare that he would never be
set free without his little lady.
Here, however, the tumult lulled a little, and Abderrahman's voice
was heard declaring that he claimed the Daughter of the Silkworm as a
wife for his son.
Ibrahim then sprang to the Marabout's side, and was heard
representing that the young lady was of high and noble blood. To
which Abderrahman replied with the dignity of an old lion, that were
she the daughter of the King of the Franks himself, she would only be
a fit mate for the son of the King of the Mountains. A fresh roar of
jangling and disputing began, during which Estelle whispered, 'Poor
Selim, I know he would believe—he half does already. It would be
'And then he would be cruelly murdered, and you too,' returned
'We should be martyrs,' said Estelle, as she had so often said
before; and as Hubert shuddered and cried, 'Do not speak of such
things, Mademoiselle, just as there is hope,' she answered, 'Oh no! do
not think I want to stay in this dreadful place—only if I should have
to do so—I long to go to my brother and my poor papa. Then I can
send some good fathers to convert them.'
'Ha!' cried Arthur; 'what now! They are at one another's throats!'
Yakoub and Eyoub with flashing sabres were actually flying at each
other, but Marabouts were seizing them and holding them back, and the
Sunakite's chant arose above all the uproar.
Ibrahim was able to explain that Yakoub insisted that if the
mistress were appropriated by Abderrahman, the maid should be his
compensation. Eyoub, who had been the foremost in the rescue from the
wreck, was furious at the demand, and they were on the point of
fighting when thus withheld; while the Sunakite was denouncing woes on
the spoiler and the lover of Christians, which made the blood of the
Cabeleyzes run cold. Their flocks would be diseased, storms from the
mountains would overwhelm them, their children would die, their name
and race be cut off, if infidel girls were permitted to bewitch them
and turn them from the faith of the Prophet. He pointed to young
Selim, and demanded whether he were not already spellbound by the
silken daughter of the Giaour to join in her idolatry.
There were howls of rage, a leaping up, a drawing of swords, a
demand that the unbelievers should die at once. It was a cry the
captives knew only too well. Arthur grasped a pistol, and loosened
his sword, but young Selim had thrown himself at the Marabout's feet,
sobbing out entreaties that the maiden's life might be saved, and
assurances that he was a staunch believer; while his father,
scandalised at such an exhibition on behalf of any such chattel as a
female, roughly snatched him from the ground, and insisted on his
The Marabouts had, at their chief's signal, ranged themselves in
front of the inner court, and the authority of the Hadji had imposed
silence even on the fanatic. He spoke again, making them understand
that Frankish vengeance in case of a massacre could reach them even in
their mountains when backed by the Dey. And to Abderrahman he
represented that the only safety for his son, the only peace for his
tribe, was in the surrender of these two dangerous causes of
The 'King of the Mountains' was convinced by the scene that had
just taken place of the inexpedience of retaining the prisoners alive.
And some pieces of gold thrust into his hand by Ibrahim may have
shown him that much might be lost by slaughtering them.
The Babel which next arose was of the amicable bargaining sort.
And after another hour of suspense the interpreter came to announce
that the mountaineers, out of their great respect, not for the Dey,
but the Marabout, had agreed to accept 900 piastres as the ransom of
all the five captives, and that the Marabout recommended an immediate
start, lest anything should rouse the ferocity of the tribe again.
Estelle's warm heart would fain have taken leave of the few who had
been kind to her; but this was impossible, for the women were in
hiding, and she could only leave one or two kerchiefs sent from
Algiers, hoping Zuleika might have one of them. Ibrahim insisted on
her being veiled as closely as a Mohammedan woman as she passed out.
One look between her and Selim might have been fatal to all; though
hers may have been in all childish innocence, she did not know how the
fiery youth was writhing in his father's indignant grasp, forcibly
withheld from rushing after one who had been a new life and revelation
Mayhap the passion was as fleeting as it was violent, but the
Marabout knew it boded danger to the captives to whom he had pledged
his honour. He sent them, mounted on mules, on in front, while he and
his company remained in the rear, watching till Lanty and Victorine
were driven up like cattle by Eyoub, to whom he paid an earnest of his
special share of the ransom. He permitted no pause, not even for a
greeting between Estelle and poor Victorine, nor to clothe the two
unfortunates, more than by throwing a mantle to poor Victorine, who
had nothing but a short petticoat and a scanty, ragged, filthy
bournouse. She shrouded herself as well as she could when lifted on
her mule, scarce perhaps yet aware what had happened to her, only that
Lanty was near, muttering benedictions and thanksgivings as he
vibrated between her mule and that of the Abbe.
It was only at the evening halt that, in a cave on the
mountain-side, Estelle and Victorine could cling to each other in a
close embrace with sobs of joy; and while Estelle eagerly produced
clothes from her little store of gifts, the poor femme de chambre wept
for joy to feel indeed that she was free, and shed a fresh shower of
tears of joy at the sight of a brush and comb.
Lanty was purring over his foster-brother, and cosseting him like a
cat over a newly-recovered kitten, resolved not to see how much shaken
the poor Abbe's intellect had been, and quite sure that the reverend
father would be altogether himself when he only had his soutane again.
'Well hath the Prophet-chief your bidding done.'
MOORE (Lalla Rookh).
Bugia was thoroughly Moorish, and subject to attacks of fanaticism.
Perhaps the Grand Marabout did not wholly trust the Sunakite not to
stir up the populace, for he would not take the recovered captives to
his palace, avoided the city as much as possible, and took them down
to the harbour, where, beside the old Roman quay, he caused his trusty
attendant, Reverdi, to hire a boat to take them out to the French
tartane—Reverdi himself going with them to ensure the fidelity of the
boatmen. Estelle would have kissed the good old man's hand in fervent
thanks, but, child as she was, he shrank from her touch as an unholy
thing; and it was enforced on her and Victorine that they were by no
means to remove their heavy mufflings till they were safe on board the
tartane, and even out of harbour. The Frenchman in command of the
vessel was evidently of the same mind, and, though enchanted to
receive them, sent them at once below. He said his men had been in
danger of being mobbed in the streets, and that there were reports
abroad that the harem of a great Frank chief, and all his treasure,
were being recovered from the Cabeleyzes, so that he doubted whether
all the influence of the Grand Marabout might prevent their being
pursued by corsairs.
Right glad was he to recognise the pennant of the Calypso outside
the harbour, and he instantly ran up a signal flag to intimate
success. A boat was immediately put off from the frigate, containing
not only Lieutenant Bullock, but an officer in scarlet, who had no
sooner come on deck than he shook Arthur eagerly by the hand,
''Tis you, then! I cannot be mistaken in poor Davie's son, though
you were a mere bit bairn when I saw you last!'
'Archie Hope!' exclaimed Arthur, joyfully. 'Can you tell me
anything of my mother?'
'She was well when last I heard of her, only sore vexed that you
should be cut off from her by your own fule deed, my lad! Ye've
thought better of it now?'
Major Hope was here interrupted by the lieutenant, who brought an
invitation from Captain Beresford to the whole French party to bestow
themselves on board the Calypso. After ascertaining that the Marabout
had taken up their cause, and that the journey up Mount Couco and back
again could not occupy less than twelve or fourteen days, he had
sailed for Minorca, where he had obtained sanction to convey any of
the captives who might be rescued to Algiers. He had also seen Major
Hope, who, on hearing of the adventures of his young kinsman, asked
leave of absence to come in search of him, and became the guest of the
officers of the Calypso.
Arthur found himself virtually the head of the party, and, after
consultation with Ibrahim Aga and Maitre Hebert, it was agreed that
there would be far more safety, as well as better accommodation, in
the British ship than in the French tartane, and Arthur went down to
communicate the proposal to Estelle, whom the close, little, evil-
smelling cabin was already making much paler than all her privations
'An English ship,' she said. 'Would my papa approve?' and her
little prim diplomatic air sat comically on her.
'Oh yes,' said Arthur. 'He himself asked the captain to seek for
you, Mademoiselle. There is peace between our countries, you know.'
'That is good,' she said, jumping up. 'For oh! this cabin is worse
than it is inside Yakoub's hut! Oh take me on deck before I am ill!'
She was able to be her own little charming French and Irish self
when Arthur led her on deck; and her gracious thanks and pretty
courtesy made them agree that it would have been ten thousand pities
if such a creature could not have been redeemed from the savage Arabs.
The whole six were speedily on board the Calypso, where Captain
Beresford received the little heroine with politeness worthy of her
own manners. He had given up his own cabin for her and Victorine,
purchased at Port Mahon all he thought she could need, and had even
recollected to procure clerical garments for the Abbe—a sight which
rejoiced Lanty's faithful heart, though the poor Abbe was too ill all
the time of the voyage to leave his berth. Arthur's arrival was
greeted by the Abyssinian with an inarticulate howl of delight, as the
poor fellow crawled to his feet, and began kissing them before he
could prevent it. Fareek had been the pet of the sailors, and well
taken care of by the boatswain. He was handy, quick, and useful, and
Captain Bullock thought he might pick up a living as an attendant in
the galley; but he showed that he held himself to belong absolutely to
Arthur, and rendered every service to him that he could, picking up
what was needful in the care of European clothes by imitation of the
captain's servant, and showing a dexterity that made it probable that
his cleverness had been the cause of the loss of a tongue that might
have betrayed too much. To young Hope he seemed like a sacred legacy
from poor Tam, and a perplexing one, such as he could hardly leave in
his dumbness to take the chances of life among sailors.
His own plans were likewise to be considered, and Major Hope
concerned himself much about them. He was a second cousin—a near
relation in Scottish estimation—and no distant neighbour. His family
were Tories, though content to submit to the House of Hanover, and had
always been on friendly terms with Lady Hope.
'I writ at once, on hearing of you, to let her know you were in
safety,' said the major. 'And what do you intend the noo?'
'Can I win home?' anxiously asked Arthur. 'You know I never was
'And what would ye do if you were at home?'
'I should see my mother.'
'Small doubt of the welcome she would have for you, my poor
laddie,' said the major; 'but what next?' And as Arthur hesitated, 'I
misdoubt greatly whether Burnside would give you a helping hand if you
came fresh from colloguing with French Jacobites, though my father and
all the rest of us at the Lynn aye told him that he might thank
himself and his dour old dominie for your prank—you were but a
schoolboy then—you are a man now; and though your poor mother would
be blithe to set eyes on you, she would be sairly perplexed what gate
you had best turn thereafter. Now, see here! There's talk of our
being sent to dislodge the Spaniards from Sicily. You are a likely
lad, and the colonel would take my word for you if you came back with
me to Port Mahon as a volunteer; and once under King George's colours,
there would be pressure enough from all of us Hopes upon Burnside to
gar him get you a commission, unless you win one for yourself. Then
you could gang hame when the time was served, a credit and an honour
'I had rather win my own way than be beholden to Burnside,' said
Arthur, his face lighting at the proposal.
'Hout, man! That will be as the chances of war may turn out. As
to your kit, we'll see to that! Never fear. Your mother will make it
'Thanks, Archie, with all my heart, but I am not so destitute,' and
he mentioned Yusuf's legacy, which the major held that he was
perfectly justified in appropriating; and in answer to his next
question, assured him that he would be able to retain Fareek as his
This was enough for Arthur, who knew that the relief to his
mother's mind of his safety and acceptance as a subject would outweigh
any disappointment at not seeing his face, when he would only be an
unforgiven exile, liable to be informed against by any malicious
He borrowed materials, and had written a long letter to her before
the Calypso put in at Algiers. The little swift tartane had
forestalled her; and every one was on the watch, when Estelle, who had
been treated like a little princess on board, was brought in the
long-boat with all her party to the quay. Though it was at daybreak,
not only the European inhabitants, but Turks, Arabs, Moors, and Jews
thronged the wharf in welcome; and there were jubilant cries as all
the five captives could be seen seated in the boat in the light of the
M. Dessault, with Ulysse in his hand, stood foremost on the quay,
and the two children were instantly in each other's embrace. Their
uncle had to be helped out. He was more bewildered than gratified by
the welcome. He required to be assured that the multitudes assembled
meant him no harm, and would not move without Lanty; and though he
bowed low in return to M. Dessault's greeting, it was like an
automaton, and with no recognition.
Estelle, between her brother and her friend, and followed by all
the rest, was conducted by the French Consul to the chapel, arranged
in one of the Moorish rooms. There stood beside the altar his two
chaplains, and at once mass was commenced, while all threw themselves
on their knees in thankfulness; and at the well-known sound a ray of
intelligence and joy began to brighten even poor Phelim's features.
Arthur, in overflowing joy, could not but kneel with the others;
and when the service concluded with the Te Deum's lofty praise, his
tears dropped for joy and gratitude that the captivity was over, the
children safe, and himself no longer an outcast and exile.
He had, however, to take leave of the children sooner than he
wished, for the Calypso had to sail the next day.
Ulysse wept bitterly, clung to him, and persisted that he WAS their
secretary, and must go with them. Estelle, too, had tears in her
eyes; but she said, half in earnest, 'You know, Mentor vanished when
Telemaque came home! Some day, Monsieur, you will come to see us at
Paris, and we shall know how to show our gratitude!'
Both Lanty and Maitre Hebert promised to write to M. Arture; and in
due time he received not only their letters but fervent
acknowledgments from the Comte de Bourke, who knew that to him was
owing the life and liberty of the children.
From Lanty Arthur further heard that the poor Abbe had languished
and died soon after reaching home. His faithful foster-brother was
deeply distressed, though the family had rewarded the fidelity of the
servants by promoting Hebert to be intendant of the Provencal estates,
while Lanty was wedded to Victorine, with a dot that enabled them to
start a flourishing perruquier's shop, and make a home for his mother
when little Jacques outgrew her care.
Estelle was in due time married to a French nobleman, and in after
years 'General Sir Arthur Hope' took his son and daughter to pay her a
long visit in her Provencal chateau, and to converse on the strange
adventures that seemed like a dream. He found her a noble lady, well
fulfilling the promise of her heroic girlhood, and still lamenting the
impossibility of sending any mission to open the eyes of the half-