Infomotions, Inc.The Weavers: a tale of England and Egypt of fifty years ago - Volume 2 / Parker, Gilbert, 1860-1932

Author: Parker, Gilbert, 1860-1932
Title: The Weavers: a tale of England and Egypt of fifty years ago - Volume 2
Date: 2002-10-13
Contributor(s): Moses, Montrose J. (Montrose Jonas), 1878-1934 [Editor]
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Identifier: etext6262
Language: en
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
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Tag(s): david kaid nahoum gilbert parker weavers tale england egypt fifty volume project gutenberg moses montrose jonas editor
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Title: The Weavers, Volume 2.

Author: Gilbert Parker

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THE WEAVERS

By Gilbert Parker



BOOK II.


V.        THE WIDER WAY
VI.       "HAST THOU NEVER BILLED A MANY"
VII.      THE COMPACT
VIII.     FOR HIS SOUL'S SAKE AND THE LAND'S SAKE
IX.       THE LETTER, THE NIGHT, AND THE WOMAN
X.        THE FOUR WHO KNEW
XI.       AGAINST THE HOUR OF MIDNIGHT
XII.      THE JEHAD AND THE LIONS
XIII.     ACHMET THE ROPEMAKER STRIKES
XIV.      BEYOND THE PALE



CHAPTER V

THE WIDER WAY

Some months later the following letter came to David Claridge in Cairo
from Faith Claridge in Hamley:

     David, I write thee from the village and the land of the people
     which thou didst once love so well.  Does thee love them still?
     They gave thee sour bread to eat ere thy going, but yet thee didst
     grind the flour for the baking.  Thee didst frighten all who knew
     thee with thy doings that mad midsummer time.  The tavern, the
     theatre, the cross-roads, and the cockpit--was ever such a day!

     Now, Davy, I must tell of a strange thing.  But first, a moment.
     Thee remembers the man Kimber smitten by thee at the public-house on
     that day?  What think thee has happened?  He followed to London the
     lass kissed by thee, and besought her to return and marry him.  This
     she refused at first with anger; but afterwards she said that, if in
     three years he was of the same mind, and stayed sober and hard-
     working meanwhile, she would give him an answer, she would consider.
     Her head was high.  She has become maid to a lady of degree, who has
     well befriended her.

     How do I know these things?  Even from Jasper Kimber, who, on his
     return from London, was taken to his bed with fever.  Because of the
     hard blows dealt him by thee, I went to make amends.  He welcomed
     me, and soon opened his whole mind.  That mind has generous moments,
     David, for he took to being thankful for thy knocks.

     Now for the strange thing I hinted.  After visiting Jasper Kimber at
     Heddington, as I came back over the hill by the path we all took
     that day after the Meeting--Ebn Ezra Bey, my father, Elder Fairley,
     and thee and me--I drew near the chairmaker's but where thee lived
     alone all those sad months.  It was late evening; the sun had set.
     Yet I felt that I must needs go and lay my hand in love upon the
     door of the empty hut which had been ever as thee left it.  So I
     came down the little path swiftly, and then round the great rock,
     and up towards the door.  But, as I did so, my heart stood still,
     for I heard voices.  The door was open, but I could see no one.  Yet
     there the voices sounded, one sharp and peevish with anger, the
     other low and rough.  I could not hear what was said.  At last, a
     figure came from the door and went quickly down the hillside.  Who,
     think thee, was it?  Even "neighbour Eglington."  I knew the walk
     and the forward thrust of the head.  Inside the hut all was still.
     I drew near with a kind of fear, but yet I came to the door and
     looked in.

     As I looked into the dusk, my limbs trembled under me, for who
     should be sitting there, a half-finished chair between his knees,
     but Soolsby the old chair-maker!  Yes, it was he.  There he sat
     looking at me with his staring blue eyes and shock of redgrey hair.
     "Soolsby!  Soolsby!" said I, my heart hammering at my breast; for
     was not Soolsby dead and buried?  His eyes stared at me in fright.
     "Why do you come?" he said in a hoarse whisper.  "Is he dead, then?
     Has harm come to him?"

     By now I had recovered myself, for it was no ghost I saw, but a
     human being more distraught than was myself.  "Do you not know me,
     Soolsby?" I asked.  "You are Mercy Claridge from beyond--beyond and
     away," he answered dazedly.  "I am Faith Claridge, Soolsby,"
     answered I.  He started, peered forward at me, and for a moment he
     did not speak; then the fear went from his face.  "Ay, Faith
     Claridge, as I said," he answered, with apparent understanding, his
     stark mood passing.  "No, thee said Mercy Claridge, Soolsby," said
     I, "and she has been asleep these many years."  "Ay, she has slept
     soundly, thanks be to God!" he replied, and crossed himself.  "Why
     should thee call me by her name?" I inquired.  "Ay, is not her tomb
     in the churchyard?" he answered, and added quickly, "Luke Claridge
     and I are of an age to a day--which, think you, will go first?"

     He stopped weaving, and peered over at me with his staring blue
     eyes, and I felt a sudden quickening of the heart.  For, at the
     question, curtains seemed to drop from all around me, and leave me
     in the midst of pains and miseries, in a chill air that froze me to
     the marrow.  I saw myself alone--thee in Egypt and I here, and none
     of our blood and name beside me.  For we are the last, Davy, the
     last of the Claridges.  But I said coldly, and with what was near to
     anger, that he should link his name and fate with that of Luke
     Claridge: "Which of ye two goes first is God's will, and according
     to His wisdom.  Which, think thee," added I--and now I cannot
     forgive myself for saying it--"which, think thee, would do least
     harm in going?" "I know which would do most good," he answered,
     with a harsh laugh in his throat.  Yet his blue eyes looked kindly
     at me, and now he began to nod pleasantly.  I thought him a little
     mad, but yet his speech had seemed not without dark meaning.  "Thee
     has had a visitor," I said to him presently.  He laughed in a
     snarling way that made me shrink, and answered: "He wanted this and
     he wanted that--his high-handed, second-best lordship.  Ay, and he
     would have it, because it pleased him to have it--like his father
     before him.  A poor sparrow on a tree-top, if you tell him he must
     not have it, he will hunt it down the world till it is his, as
     though it was a bird of paradise.  And when he's seen it fall at
     last, he'll remember but the fun of the chase; and the bird may get
     to its tree-top again--if it can--if it can--if it can, my lord!
     That is what his father was, the last Earl, and that is what he is
     who left my door but now.  He came to snatch old Soolsby's palace,
     his nest on the hill, to use it for a telescope, or such whimsies.
     He has scientific tricks like his father before him.  Now is it
     astronomy, and now chemistry, and suchlike; and always it is the
     Eglington mind, which let God A'mighty make it as a favour.  He
     would have old Soolsby's palace for his spy-glass, would he then?
     It scared him, as though I was the devil himself, to find me here.
     I had but come back in time--a day later, and he would have sat here
     and seen me in the Pit below before giving way.  Possession's nine
     points were with me; and here I sat and faced him; and here he
     stormed, and would do this and should do that; and I went on with my
     work.  Then he would buy my Colisyum, and I wouldn't sell it for all
     his puffball lordship might offer.  Isn't the house of the snail as
     much to him as the turtle's shell to the turtle?  I'll have no
     upstart spilling his chemicals here, or devilling the stars from a
     seat on my roof."  "Last autumn," said I, "David Claridge was housed
     here.  Thy palace was a prison then."  "I know well of that.
     Haven't I found his records here?  And do you think his makeshift
     lordship did not remind me?"  "Records?  What records, Soolsby?"
     asked I, most curious.  "Writings of his thoughts which he forgot--
     food for mind and body left in the cupboard."  "Give them to me upon
     this instant, Soolsby," said I.  "All but one," said he, "and that
     is my own, for it was his mind upon Soolsby the drunken chair-maker.
     God save him from the heathen sword that slew his uncle.  Two better
     men never sat upon a chair!"  He placed the papers in my hand, all
     save that one which spoke of him.  Ah, David, what with the flute
     and the pen, banishment was no pain to thee!  .  .  .  He placed the
     papers, save that one, in my hands, and I, womanlike, asked again
     for all.  "Some day," said he, "come, and I will read it to you.
     Nay, I will give you a taste of it now," he added, as he brought
     forth the writing.  "Thus it reads."

     Here are thy words, Davy.  What think thee of them now?

     "As I dwell in this house I know Soolsby as I never knew him when he
     lived, and though, up here, I spent many an hour with him.  Men
     leave their impressions on all around them.  The walls which have
     felt their look and their breath, the floor which has taken their
     footsteps, the chairs in which they have sat, have something of
     their presence.  I feel Soolsby here at times so sharply that it
     would seem he came again and was in this room, though he is dead and
     gone.  I ask him how it came he lived here alone; how it came that
     he made chairs, he, with brains enough to build great houses or
     great bridges; how it was that drink and he were such friends; and
     how he, a Catholic, lived here among us Quakers, so singular,
     uncompanionable, and severe.  I think it true, and sadly true, that
     a man with a vice which he is able to satisfy easily and habitually,
     even as another satisfies a virtue, may give up the wider actions of
     the world and the possibilities of his life for the pleasure which
     his one vice gives him, and neither miss nor desire those greater
     chances of virtue or ambition which he has lost.  The simplicity of
     a vice may be as real as the simplicity of a virtue."

     Ah, David, David, I know not what to think of those strange words;
     but old Soolsby seemed well to understand thee, and he called thee
     "a first-best gentleman."  Is my story long?  Well, it was so
     strange, and it fixed itself upon my mind so deeply, and thy
     writings at the hut have been so much in my hands and in my mind,
     that I have put it all down here.  When I asked Soolsby how it came
     he had been rumoured dead, he said that he himself had been the
     cause of it; but for what purpose he would not say, save that he was
     going a long voyage, and had made up his mind to return no more.  "I
     had a friend," he said, "and I was set to go and see that friend
     again.  .  .  .  But the years go on, and friends have an end.  Life
     spills faster than the years," he said.  And he would say no more,
     but would walk with me even to my father's door.  "May the Blessed
     Virgin and all the Saints be with you," he said at parting, "if you
     will have a blessing from them.  And tell him who is beyond and away
     in Egypt that old Soolsby's busy making a chair for him to sit in
     when the scarlet cloth is spread, and the East and West come to
     salaam before him.  Tell him the old man says his fluting will be
     heard."

     And now, David, I have told thee all, nearly.  Remains to say that
     thy one letter did our hearts good.  My father reads it over and
     over, and shakes his head sadly, for, truth is, he has a fear that
     the world may lay its hand upon thee.  One thing I do observe, his
     heart is hard set against Lord Eglington.  In degree it has ever
     been so; but now it is like a constant frown upon his forehead.  I
     see him at his window looking out towards the Cloistered House; and
     if our neighbour comes forth, perhaps upon his hunter, or now in his
     cart, or again with his dogs, he draws his hat down upon his eyes
     and whispers to himself.  I think he is ever setting thee off
     against Lord Eglington; and that is foolish, for Eglington is but a
     man of the earth earthy.  His is the soul of the adventurer.

     Now what more to be set down?  I must ask thee how is thy friend Ebn
     Ezra Bey?  I am glad thee did find all he said was true, and that in
     Damascus thee was able to set a mark by my uncle's grave.  But that
     the Prince Pasha of Egypt has set up a claim against my uncle's
     property is evil news; though, thanks be to God, as my father says,
     we have enough to keep us fed and clothed and housed.  But do thee
     keep enough of thy inheritance to bring thee safe home again to
     those who love thee.  England is ever grey, Davy, but without thee
     it is grizzled--all one "Quaker drab," as says the Philistine.  But
     it is a comely and a good land, and here we wait for thee.

     In love and remembrance.

     I am thy mother's sister, thy most loving friend.

                                             FAITH.


David received this letter as he was mounting a huge white Syrian donkey
to ride to the Mokattam Hills, which rise sharply behind Cairo, burning
and lonely and large.  The cities of the dead Khalifas and Mamelukes
separated them from the living city where the fellah toiled, and Arab,
Bedouin, Copt strove together to intercept the fruits of his toiling, as
it passed in the form of taxes to the Palace of the Prince Pasha; while
in the dark corners crouched, waiting, the cormorant usurers--Greeks,
Armenians, and Syrians, a hideous salvage corps, who saved the house of
a man that they might at last walk off with his shirt and the cloth under
which he was carried to his grave.  In a thousand narrow streets and
lanes, in the warm glow of the bazaars, in earth-damp huts, by blistering
quays, on the myriad ghiassas on the river, from long before sunrise till
the sunset-gun boomed from the citadel rising beside the great mosque
whose pinnacles seem to touch the blue, the slaves of the city of Prince
Kaid ground out their lives like corn between the millstones.

David had been long enough in Egypt to know what sort of toiling it was.
A man's labour was not his own.  The fellah gave labour and taxes and
backsheesh and life to the State, and the long line of tyrants above him,
under the sting of the kourbash; the high officials gave backsheesh to
the Prince Pasha, or to his Mouffetish, or to his Chief Eunuch, or to his
barber, or to some slave who had his ear.

But all the time the bright, unclouded sun looked down on a smiling land,
and in Cairo streets the din of the hammers, the voices of the boys
driving heavily laden donkeys, the call of the camel-drivers leading
their caravans into the great squares, the clang of the brasses of the
sherbet-sellers, the song of the vendor of sweetmeats, the drone of the
merchant praising his wares, went on amid scenes of wealth and luxury,
and the city glowed with colour and gleamed with light.  Dark faces
grinned over the steaming pot at the door of the cafes, idlers on the
benches smoked hasheesh, female street-dancers bared their faces
shamelessly to the men, and indolent musicians beat on their tiny drums,
and sang the song of "O Seyyid," or of "Antar"; and the reciter gave his
sing-song tale from a bench above his fellows.  Here a devout Muslim,
indifferent to the presence of strangers, turned his face to the East,
touched his forehead to the ground, and said his prayers.  There, hung to
a tree by a deserted mosque near by, the body of one who was with them
all an hour before, and who had paid the penalty for some real or
imaginary crime; while his fellows blessed Allah that the storm had
passed them by.  Guilt or innocence did not weigh with them; and the dead
criminal, if such he were, who had drunk his glass of water and prayed to
Allah, was, in their sight, only fortunate and not disgraced, and had
"gone to the bosom of Allah."  Now the Muezzin from a minaret called to
prayer, and the fellah in his cotton shirt and yelek heard, laid his load
aside, and yielded himself to his one dear illusion, which would enable
him to meet with apathy his end--it might be to-morrow!--and go forth to
that plenteous heaven where wives without number awaited him, where
fields would yield harvests without labour, where rich food in gold
dishes would be ever at his hand.  This was his faith.

David had now been in the country six months, rapidly perfecting his
knowledge of Arabic, speaking it always to his servant Mahommed Hassan,
whom he had picked from the streets.  Ebn Ezra Bey had gone upon his own
business to Fazougli, the tropical Siberia of Egypt, to liberate, by
order of Prince Kaid,--and at a high price--a relative banished there.
David had not yet been fortunate with his own business--the settlement
of his Uncle Benn's estate--though the last stages of negotiation with
the Prince Pasha seemed to have been reached.  When he had brought the
influence of the British Consulate to bear, promises were made, doors
were opened wide, and Pasha and Bey offered him coffee and talked to him
sympathetically.  They had respect for him more than for most Franks,
because the Prince Pasha had honoured him with especial favour.  Perhaps
because David wore his hat always and the long coat with high collar like
a Turk, or because Prince Kaid was an acute judge of human nature, and
also because honesty was a thing he greatly desired--in others--and never
found near his own person; however it was, he had set David high in his
esteem at once.  This esteem gave greater certainty that any backsheesh
coming from the estate of Benn Claridge would not be sifted through many
hands on its way to himself.  Of Benn Claridge Prince Kaid had scarcely
even heard until he died; and, indeed, it was only within the past few
years that the Quaker merchant had extended his business to Egypt and had
made his headquarters at Assiout, up the river.

David's donkey now picked its way carefully through the narrow streets of
the Moosky.  Arabs and fellaheen squatting at street corners looked at
him with furtive interest.  A foreigner of this character they had never
before seen, with coat buttoned up like an Egyptian official in the
presence of his superior, and this wide, droll hat on his head.  David
knew that he ran risks, that his confidence invited the occasional
madness of a fanatical mind, which makes murder of the infidel a passport
to heaven; but as a man he took his chances, and as a Christian he
believed he would suffer no mortal hurt till his appointed time.  He was
more Oriental, more fatalist, than he knew.  He had also early in his
life learned that an honest smile begets confidence; and his face, grave
and even a little austere in outline, was usually lighted by a smile.

From the Mokattam Hills, where he read Faith's letter again, his back
against one of the forts which Napoleon had built in his Egyptian days,
he scanned the distance.  At his feet lay the great mosque, and the
citadel, whose guns controlled the city, could pour into it a lava stream
of shot and shell.  The Nile wound its way through the green plains,
stretching as far to the north as eye could see between the opal and
mauve and gold of the Libyan Hills.  Far over in the western vista a long
line of trees, twining through an oasis flanking the city, led out to a
point where the desert abruptly raised its hills of yellow sand.  Here,
enormous, lonely, and cynical, the pyramids which Cheops had built, the
stone sphinx of Ghizeh, kept faith with the desert in the glow of
rainless land-reminders ever that the East, the mother of knowledge, will
by knowledge prevail; that:

                   "The thousand years of thy insolence
                    The thousand years of thy faith,
                    Will be paid in fiery recompense,
                    And a thousand years of bitter death."


"The sword--for ever the sword," David said to himself, as he looked:
"Rameses and David and Mahomet and Constantine, and how many conquests
have been made in the name of God!  But after other conquests there have
been peace and order and law.  Here in Egypt it is ever the sword, the
survival of the strongest."

As he made his way down the hillside again he fell to thinking upon all
Faith had written.  The return of the drunken chair-maker made a deep
impression on him--almost as deep as the waking dreams he had had of his
uncle calling him.

"Soolsby and me--what is there between Soolsby and me?" he asked himself
now as he made his way past the tombs of the Mamelukes.  "He and I are as
far apart as the poles, and yet it comes to me now, with a strange
conviction, that somehow my life will be linked with that of the drunken
Romish chair-maker.  To what end?"  Then he fell to thinking of his Uncle
Benn.  The East was calling him.  "Something works within me to hold me
here, a work to do."

From the ramparts of the citadel he watched the sun go down, bathing the
pyramids in a purple and golden light, throwing a glamour over all the
western plain, and making heavenly the far hills with a plaintive colour,
which spoke of peace and rest, but not of hope.  As he stood watching, he
was conscious of people approaching.  Voices mingled, there was light
laughter, little bursts of admiration, then lower tones, and then he was
roused by a voice calling.  He turned round.  A group of people were
moving towards the exit from the ramparts, and near himself stood a man
waving an adieu.

"Well, give my love to the girls," said the man cheerily.  Merry faces
looked back and nodded, and in a moment they were gone.  The man turned
round, and looked at David, then he jerked his head in a friendly sort of
way and motioned towards the sunset.

"Good enough, eh?"

"Surely, for me," answered David.  On the instant he liked the red,
wholesome face, and the keen, round, blue eyes, the rather opulent
figure, the shrewd, whimsical smile, all aglow now with beaming
sentimentality, which had from its softest corner called out:
"Well, give my love to the girls."

"Quaker, or I never saw Germantown and Philadelphy," he continued, with a
friendly manner quite without offence.  "I put my money on Quakers every
time."

"But not from Germantown or Philadelphia," answered David, declining a
cigar which his new acquaintance offered.

"Bet you, I know that all right.  But I never saw Quakers anywhere else,
and I meant the tribe and not the tent.  English, I bet?  Of course, or
you wouldn't be talking the English language--though I've heard they talk
it better in Boston than they do in England, and in Chicago they're
making new English every day and improving on the patent.  If Chicago
can't have the newest thing, she won't have anything.  'High hopes that
burn like stars sublime,' has Chicago.  She won't let Shakespeare or
Milton be standards much longer.  She won't have it--simply won't have
England swaggering over the English language.  Oh, she's dizzy, is
Chicago--simply dizzy.  I was born there.  Parents, one Philadelphy, one
New York, one Pawtucket--the Pawtucket one was the step-mother.  Father
liked his wives from the original States; but I was born in Chicago.  My
name is Lacey--Thomas Tilman Lacey of Chicago."

"I thank thee," said David.

"And you, sir?"

"David Claridge."

"Of--?"

"Of Hamley."

"Mr. Claridge of Hamley.  Mr. Claridge, I am glad to meet you."  They
shook hands.  "Been here long, Mr. Claridge?"

"A few months only."

"Queer place--gilt-edged dust-bin; get anything you like here, from a
fresh gutter-snipe to old Haroun-al-Raschid.  It's the biggest jack-pot
on earth.  Barnum's the man for this place--P. T. Barnum.  Golly, how the
whole thing glitters and stews!  Out of Shoobra his High Jinks Pasha
kennels with his lions and lives with his cellars of gold, as if he was
going to take them with him where he's going--and he's going fast.  Here
--down here, the people, the real people, sweat and drudge between a cake
of dourha, an onion, and a balass of water at one end of the day, and a
hemp collar and their feet off the ground at the other."

"You have seen much of Egypt?" asked David, feeling a strange confidence
in the garrulous man, whose frankness was united to shrewdness and a
quick, observant eye.

"How much of Egypt I've seen, the Egypt where more men get lost, strayed,
and stolen than die in their beds every day, the Egypt where a eunuch is
more powerful than a minister, where an official will toss away a life as
I'd toss this cigar down there where the last Mameluke captain made his
great jump, where women--Lord A'mighty! where women are divorced by one
evil husband, by the dozen, for nothing they ever did or left undone,
and yet 'd be cut to pieces by their own fathers if they learned that
'To step aside is human--'  Mr. Claridge, of that Egypt I don't know much
more'n would entitle me to say, How d'ye do.  But it's enough for me.
You've seen something--eh?"

"A little.  It is not civilised life here.  Yet--yet a few strong
patriotic men--"

Lacey looked quizzically at David.

"Say," he said, "I thought that about Mexico once.  I said Manana--
this Manana is the curse of Mexico.  It's always to-morrow--to-morrow
--to-morrow.  Let's teach 'em to do things to-day.  Let's show 'em what
business means.  Two million dollars went into that experiment, but
Manana won.  We had good hands, but it had the joker.  After five years
I left, with a bald head at twenty-nine, and a little book of noble
thoughts--Tips for the Tired, or Things you can say To-day on what you
can do to-morrow.  I lost my hair worrying, but I learned to be patient.
The Dagos wanted to live in their own way, and they did.  It's one thing
to be a missionary and say the little word in season; it's another to
run your soft red head against a hard stone wall.  I went to Mexico a
conquistador, I left it a child of time, who had learned to smile; and
I left some millions behind me, too.  I said to an old Padre down there
that I knew--we used to meet in the Cafe Manrique and drink chocolate--
I said to him, 'Padre, the Lord's Prayer is a mistake down here.'
'Si, senor,' he said, and smiled his far-away smile at me.  'Yes,' said
I, 'for you say in the Lord's Prayer, "Give us this day our daily
bread."'  'Si, senor,' he says, 'but we do not expect it till to-morrow!'
The Padre knew from the start, but I learned at great expense, and went
out of business--closed up shop for ever, with a bald head and my Tips
for the Tired.  Well, I've had more out of it all, I guess, than if I'd
trebled the millions and wiped Manana off the Mexican coat of arms."

"You think it would be like that here?" David asked abstractedly.

Lacey whistled.  "There the Government was all right and the people all
wrong.  Here the people are all right and the Government all wrong.  Say,
it makes my eyes water sometimes to see the fellah slogging away.  He's a
Jim-dandy--works all day and half the night, and if the tax-gatherer
isn't at the door, wakes up laughing.  I saw one"--his light blue eyes
took on a sudden hardness--"laughing on the other side of his mouth one
morning.  They were 'kourbashing' his feet; I landed on them as the soles
came away.  I hit out."  His face became grave, he turned the cigar round
in his mouth.  "It made me feel better, but I had a close call.  Lucky
for me that in Mexico I got into the habit of carrying a pop-gun.  It
saved me then.  But it isn't any use going on these special missions.
We Americans think a lot of ourselves.  We want every land to do as
we do; and we want to make 'em do it.  But a strong man here at the
head, with a sword in his hand, peace in his heart, who'd be just and
poor--how can you make officials honest when you take all you can get
yourself--!  But, no, I guess it's no good.  This is a rotten cotton
show."

Lacey had talked so much, not because he was garrulous only, but because
the inquiry in David's eyes was an encouragement to talk.  Whatever his
misfortunes in Mexico had been, his forty years sat lightly on him, and
his expansive temperament, his childlike sentimentality, gave him an
appearance of beaming, sophisticated youth.  David was slowly
apprehending these things as he talked--subconsciously, as it were;
for he was seeing pictures of the things he himself had observed, through
the lens of another mind, as primitive in some regards as his own, but
influenced by different experiences.

"Say, you're the best listener I ever saw," added Lacey, with a laugh.

David held out his hand.  "Thee sees things clearly," he answered.

Lacey grasped his hand.

At that moment an orderly advanced towards them.  "He's after us--one of
the Palace cavalry," said Lacey.

"Effendi--Claridge Effendi!  May his grave be not made till the karadh-
gatherers return," said the orderly to David.

"My name is Claridge," answered David.

"To the hotel, effendi, first, then to the Mokattam Hills after thee,
then here--from the Effendina, on whom be God's peace, this letter for
thee."

David took the letter.  "I thank thee, friend," he said.

As he read it, Lacey said to the orderly in Arabic "How didst thou know
he was here?"

The orderly grinned wickedly.

"Always it is known what place the effendi honours.  It is not dark where
he uncovers his face."

Lacey gave a low whistle.

"Say, you've got a pull in this show," he said, as David folded up the
letter and put it in his pocket.

"In Egypt, if the master smiles on you, the servant puts his nose in the
dust."

"The Prince Pasha bids me to dinner at the Palace to-night.  I have no
clothes for such affairs.  Yet--" His mind was asking itself if this was
a door opening, which he had no right to shut with his own hand.  There
was no reason why he should not go; therefore there might be a reason why
he should go.  It might be, it no doubt was, in the way of facilitating
his business.  He dismissed the orderly with an affirmative and
ceremonial message to Prince Kaid--and a piece of gold.

"You've learned the custom of the place," said Lacey, as he saw the gold
piece glitter in the brown palm of the orderly.

"I suppose the man's only pay is in such service," rejoined David.
"It is a land of backsheesh.  The fault is not with the people; it is
with the rulers.  I am not sorry to share my goods with the poor."

"You'll have a big going concern here in no time," observed Lacey.  "Now,
if I had those millions I left in Mexico--"  Suddenly he stopped.  "Is it
you that's trying to settle up an estate here--at Assiout--belonged to an
uncle?"

David inclined his head.

"They say that you and Prince Kaid are doing the thing yourselves, and
that the pashas and judges and all the high-mogul sharks of the Medjidie
think that the end of the world has come.  Is that so?"

"It is so, if not completely so.  There are the poor men and humble--the
pashas and judges and the others of the Medjidie, as thee said, are not
poor.  But such as the orderly yonder--"  He paused meditatively.

Lacey looked at David with profound respect.  "You make the poorest
your partners, your friends.  I see, I see.  Jerusalem, that's masterly!
I admire you.  It's a new way in this country."  Then, after a moment:
"It'll do--by golly, it'll do!  Not a bit more costly, and you do some
good with it.  Yes--it--will--do."

"I have given no man money save in charity and for proper service done
openly," said David, a little severely.

"Say--of course.  And that's just what isn't done here.  Everything goes
to him who hath, and from him who hath not is taken away even that which
he hath.  One does the work and another gets paid--that's the way here.
But you, Mr. Claridge, you clinch with the strong man at the top, and,
down below, you've got as your partners the poor man, whose name is
Legion.  If you get a fall out of the man at the top, you're solid with
the Legion.  And if the man at the top gets up again and salaams and
strokes your hand, and says, 'Be my brother,' then it's a full Nile, and
the fig-tree putteth forth its tender branches, and the date-palm
flourisheth, and at the village pond the thanksgiving turkey gobbles and
is glad.  'Selah'!"

The sunset gun boomed out from the citadel.  David turned to go, and
Lacey added:

"I'm waiting for a pasha who's taking toll of the officers inside there
--Achmet Pasha.  They call him the Ropemaker, because so many pass
through his hands to the Nile.  The Old Muslin I call him, because he's
so diaphanous.  Thinks nobody can see through him, and there's nobody
that can't.  If you stay long in Egypt, you'll find that Achmet is the
worst, and Nahoum the Armenian the deepest, pasha in all this sickening
land.  Achmet is cruel as a tiger to any one that stands in his way;
Nahoum, the whale, only opens out to swallow now and then; but when
Nahoum does open out, down goes Jonah, and never comes up again.  He's a
deep one, and a great artist is Nahoum.  I'll bet a dollar you'll see
them both to-night at the Palace--if Kaid doesn't throw them to the lions
for their dinner before yours is served.  Here one shark is swallowed by
another bigger, till at last the only and original sea-serpent swallows
'em all."

As David wound his way down the hills, Lacey waved a hand after him.

"Well, give my love to the girls," he said.




CHAPTER VI

"HAST THOU NEVER KILLED A MAN?"

"Claridge Effendi!"

As David moved forward, his mind was embarrassed by many impressions.
He was not confused, but the glitter and splendour, the Oriental
gorgeousness of the picture into which he stepped, excited his eye,
roused some new sense in him.  He was a curious figure in those
surroundings.  The consuls and agents of all the nations save one were
in brilliant uniform, and pashas, generals, and great officials were
splendid in gold braid and lace, and wore flashing Orders on their
breasts.  David had been asked for half-past eight o'clock, and he was
there on the instant; yet here was every one assembled, the Prince Pasha
included.  As he walked up the room he suddenly realised this fact, and,
for a moment, he thought he had made a mistake; but again he remembered
distinctly that the letter said half-past eight, and he wondered now if
this had been arranged by the Prince--for what purpose?  To afford
amusement to the assembled company?  He drew himself up with dignity,
his face became graver.  He had come in a Quaker suit of black
broadcloth, with grey steel buttons, and a plain white stock; and he wore
his broad-brimmed hat--to the consternation of the British Consul-General
and the Europeans present, to the amazement of the Turkish and native
officials, who eyed him keenly.  They themselves wore red tarbooshes, as
did the Prince; yet all of them knew that the European custom of showing
respect was by doffing the hat.  The Prince Pasha had settled that with
David, however, at their first meeting, when David had kept on his hat
and offered Kaid his hand.

Now, with amusement in his eyes, Prince Kaid watched David coming up the
great hall.  What his object was in summoning David for an hour when all
the court and all the official Europeans should be already present,
remained to be seen.  As David entered, Kaid was busy receiving salaams,
and returning greeting, but with an eye to the singularly boyish yet
gallant figure approaching.  By the time David had reached the group, the
Prince Pasha was ready to receive him.

"Friend, I am glad to welcome thee," said the Effendina, sly humour
lurking at the corner of his eye.  Conscious of the amazement of all
present, he held out his hand to David.

"May thy coming be as the morning dew, friend," he added, taking David's
willing hand.

"And thy feet, Kaid, wall in goodly paths, by the grace of God the
compassionate and merciful."

As a wind, unfelt, stirs the leaves of a forest, making it rustle
delicately, a whisper swept through the room.  Official Egypt was
dumfounded.  Many had heard of David, a few had seen him, and now all
eyed with inquisitive interest one who defied so many of the customs of
his countrymen; who kept on his hat; who used a Mahommedan salutation
like a true believer; whom the Effendina honoured--and presently honoured
in an unusual degree by seating him at table opposite himself, where his
Chief Chamberlain was used to sit.

During dinner Kaid addressed his conversation again and again to David,
asking questions put to disconcert the consuls and other official folk
present, confident in the naive reply which would be returned.  For there
was a keen truthfulness in the young man's words which, however suave and
carefully balanced, however gravely simple and tactful, left no doubt as
to their meaning.  There was nothing in them which could be challenged,
could be construed into active criticism of men or things; and yet much
he said was horrifying.  It made Achmet Pasha sit up aghast, and Nahoum
Pasha, the astute Armenian, for a long time past the confidant and
favourite of the Prince Pasha, laugh in his throat; for, if there was
a man in Egypt who enjoyed the thrust of a word or the bite of a phrase,
it was Nahoum.  Christian though he was, he was, nevertheless, Oriental
to his farthermost corner, and had the culture of a French savant.  He
had also the primitive view of life, and the morals of a race who, in the
clash of East and West, set against Western character and directness, and
loyalty to the terms of a bargain, the demoralised cunning of the desert
folk; the circuitous tactics of those who believed that no man spoke the
truth directly, that it must ever be found beneath devious and misleading
words, to be tracked like a panther, as an Antipodean bushman once said,
"through the sinuosities of the underbrush."  Nahoum Pasha had also a
rich sense of grim humour.  Perhaps that was why he had lived so near the
person of the Prince, had held office so long.  There were no Grand
Viziers in Egypt; but he was as much like one as possible, and he had one
uncommon virtue, he was greatly generous.  If he took with his right hand
he gave with his left; and Mahommedan as well as Copt and Armenian, and
beggars of every race and creed, hung about his doors each morning to
receive the food and alms he gave freely.

After one of David's answers to Kaid, which had had the effect of causing
his Highness to turn a sharp corner of conversation by addressing himself
to the French consul, Nahoum said suavely:

"And so, monsieur, you think that we hold life lightly in the East--that
it is a characteristic of civilisation to make life more sacred, to
cherish it more fondly?"

He was sitting beside David, and though he asked the question casually,
and with apparent intention only of keeping talk going, there was a
lurking inquisition in his eye.  He had seen enough to-night to make him
sure that Kaid had once more got the idea of making a European his
confidant and adviser; to introduce to his court one of those mad
Englishmen who cared nothing for gold--only for power; who loved
administration for the sake of administration and the foolish joy of
labour.  He was now set to see what sort of match this intellect could
play, when faced by the inherent contradictions present in all truths or
the solutions of all problems.

"It is one of the characteristics of that which lies behind civilisation,
as thee and me have been taught," answered David.

Nahoum was quick in strategy, but he was unprepared for David's knowledge
that he was an Armenian Christian, and he had looked for another answer.

But he kept his head and rose to the occasion.  "Ah, it is high, it is
noble, to save life--it is so easy to destroy it," he answered.  "I saw
his Highness put his life in danger once to save a dog from drowning.  To
cherish the lives of others, and to be careless of our own; to give that
of great value as though it were of no worth--is it not the Great
Lesson?"  He said it with such an air of sincerity, with such
dissimulation, that, for the moment, David was deceived.  There was,
however, on the face of the listening Kaid a curious, cynical smile.
He had heard all, and he knew the sardonic meaning behind Nahoum's words.

Fat High Pasha, the Chief Chamberlain, the corrupt and corruptible,
intervened.  "It is not so hard to be careless when care would be
useless," he said, with a chuckle.  "When the khamsin blows the dust-
storms upon the caravan, the camel-driver hath no care for his camels.
'Malaish!' he says, and buries his face in his yelek."

"Life is beautiful and so difficult--to save," observed Nahoum, in a tone
meant to tempt David on one hand and to reach the ears of the notorious
Achmet Pasha, whose extortions, cruelties, and taxations had built his
master's palaces, bribed his harem, given him money to pay the interest
on his European loans, and made himself the richest man in Egypt, whose
spies were everywhere, whose shadow was across every man's path.  Kaid
might slay, might toss a pasha or a slave into the Nile now and then,
might invite a Bey to visit him, and stroke his beard and call him
brother and put diamond-dust in the coffee he drank, so that he died
before two suns came and went again, "of inflammation and a natural
death"; but he, Achmet Pasha, was the dark Inquisitor who tortured every
day, for whose death all men prayed, and whom some would have slain, but
that another worse than himself might succeed him.

At Nahoum's words the dusky brown of Achmet's face turned as black as the
sudden dilation of the pupil of an eye deepens its hue, and he said with
a guttural accent:

"Every man hath a time to die."

"But not his own time," answered Nahoum maliciously.

"It would appear that in Egypt he hath not always the choice of the
fashion or the time," remarked David calmly.  He had read the malice
behind their words, and there had flashed into his own mind tales told
him, with every circumstance of accuracy, of deaths within and without
the Palace.  Also he was now aware that Nahoum had mocked him.  He was
concerned to make it clear that he was not wholly beguiled.

"Is there, then, for a man choice of fashion or time in England,
effendi?" asked Nahoum, with assumed innocence.

"In England it is a matter between the Giver and Taker of life and
himself--save where murder does its work," said David.

"And here it is between man and man--is it that you would say?" asked
Nahoum.

"There seem wider privileges here," answered David drily.

"Accidents will happen, privileges or no," rejoined Nahoum, with lowering
eyelids.

The Prince intervened.  "Thy own faith forbids the sword, forbids war,
or--punishment."

"The Prophet I follow was called the Prince of Peace, friend," answered
David, bowing gravely across the table.

"Hast thou never killed a man?" asked Kaid, with interest in his eyes.
He asked the question as a man might ask another if he had never visited
Paris.

"Never, by the goodness of God, never," answered David.

"Neither in punishment nor in battle?"

"I am neither judge nor soldier, friend."

"Inshallah, thou hast yet far to go!  Thou art young yet.  Who can tell?"

"I have never so far to go as that, friend," said David, in a voice that
rang a little.

"To-morrow is no man's gift."

David was about to answer, but chancing to raise his eyes above the
Prince Pasha's head, his glance was arrested and startled by seeing a
face--the face of a woman-looking out of a panel in a mooshrabieh screen
in a gallery above.  He would not have dwelt upon the incident, he would
have set it down to the curiosity of a woman of the harem, but that the
face looking out was that of an English girl, and peering over her
shoulder was the dark, handsome face of an Egyptian or a Turk.

Self-control was the habit of his life, the training of his faith,
and, as a rule, his face gave little evidence of inner excitement.
Demonstration was discouraged, if not forbidden, among the Quakers, and
if, to others, it gave a cold and austere manner, in David it tempered to
a warm stillness the powerful impulses in him, the rivers of feeling
which sometimes roared through his veins.

Only Nahoum Pasha had noticed his arrested look, so motionless did he
sit; and now, without replying, he bowed gravely and deferentially to
Kaid, who rose from the table.  He followed with the rest.  Presently the
Prince sent Higli Pasha to ask his nearer presence.

The Prince made a motion of his hand, and the circle withdrew.  He waved
David to a seat.

"To-morrow thy business shall be settled," said the Prince suavely, "and
on such terms as will not startle.  Death-tribute is no new thing in the
East.  It is fortunate for thee that the tribute is from thy hand to my
hand, and not through many others to mine."

"I am conscious I have been treated with favour, friend," said David.
"I would that I might show thee kindness.  Though how may a man of no
account make return to a great Prince?"

"By the beard of my father, it is easily done, if thy kindness is a real
thing, and not that which makes me poorer the more I have of it--as
though one should be given a herd of horses which must not be sold but
still must be fed."

"I have given thee truth.  Is not truth cheaper than falsehood?"

"It is the most expensive thing in Egypt; so that I despair of buying
thee.  Yet I would buy thee to remain here--here at my court; here by my
hand which will give thee the labour thou lovest, and will defend thee if
defence be needed.  Thou hast not greed, thou hast no thirst for honour,
yet thou hast wisdom beyond thy years.  Kaid has never besought men, but
he beseeches thee.  Once there was in Egypt, Joseph, a wise youth, who
served a Pharaoh, and was his chief counsellor, and it was well with the
land.  Thy name is a good name; well-being may follow thee.  The ages
have gone, and the rest of the world has changed, but Egypt is the same
Egypt, the Nile rises and falls, and the old lean years and fat years
come and go.  Though I am in truth a Turk, and those who serve and rob me
here are Turks, yet the fellah is the same as he was five thousand years
ago.  What Joseph the Israelite did, thou canst do; for I am no more
unjust than was that Rameses whom Joseph served.  Wilt thou stay with
me?"

David looked at Kaid as though he would read in his face the reply that
he must make, but he did not see Kaid; he saw, rather, the face of one he
had loved more than Jonathan had been loved by the young shepherd-prince
of Israel.  In his ears he heard the voice that had called him in his
sleep-the voice of Benn Claridge; and, at the same instant, there flashed
into his mind a picture of himself fighting outside the tavern beyond
Hamley and bidding farewell to the girl at the crossroads.

"Friend, I cannot answer thee now," he said, in a troubled voice.

Kaid rose.  "I will give thee an hour to think upon it.  Come with me."
He stepped forward.  "To-morrow I will answer thee, Kaid."

"To-morrow there is work for thee to do.  Come."  David followed him.

The eyes that followed the Prince and the Quaker were not friendly.  What
Kaid had long foreshadowed seemed at hand: the coming of a European
counsellor and confidant.  They realised that in the man who had just
left the room with Kaid there were characteristics unlike those they had
ever met before in Europeans.

"A madman," whispered High Pasha to Achmet the Ropemaker.

"Then his will be the fate of the swine of Gadarene," said Nahoum Pasha,
who had heard.

"At least one need not argue with a madman."  The face of Achmet the
Ropemaker was not more pleasant than his dark words.

"It is not the madman with whom you have to deal, but his keeper,"
rejoined Nahoum.

Nahoum's face was heavier than usual.  Going to weight, he was still
muscular and well groomed.  His light brown beard and hair and blue eyes
gave him a look almost Saxon, and bland power spoke in his face and in
every gesture.

He was seldom without the string of beads so many Orientals love to
carry, and, Armenian Christian as he was, the act seemed almost
religious.  It was to him, however, like a ground-wire in telegraphy--
it carried off the nervous force tingling in him and driving him to
impulsive action, while his reputation called for a constant outward
urbanity, a philosophical apathy.  He had had his great fight for place
and power, alien as he was in religion, though he had lived in Egypt
since a child.  Bar to progress as his religion had been at first, it had
been an advantage afterwards; for, through it, he could exclude himself
from complications with the Wakfs, the religious court of the Muslim
creed, which had lands to administer, and controlled the laws of marriage
and inheritance.  He could shrug his shoulders and play with his beads,
and urbanely explain his own helplessness and ineligibility when his
influence was summoned, or it was sought to entangle him in warring
interests.  Oriental through and through, the basis of his creed was
similar to that of a Muslim: Mahomet was a prophet and Christ was a
prophet.  It was a case of rival prophets--all else was obscured into a
legend, and he saw the strife of race in the difference of creed.  For
the rest, he flourished the salutations and language of the Arab as
though they were his own, and he spoke Arabic as perfectly as he did
French and English.

He was the second son of his father.  The first son, who was but a year
older, and was as dark as he was fair, had inherited--had seized--all his
father's wealth.  He had lived abroad for some years in France and
England.  In the latter place he had been one of the Turkish Embassy,
and, having none of the outward characteristics of the Turk, and being
in appearance more of a Spaniard than an Oriental, he had, by his gifts,
his address and personal appearance, won the good-will of the Duchess of
Middlesex, and had had that success all too flattering to the soul of a
libertine.  It had, however, been the means of his premature retirement
from England, for his chief at the Embassy had a preference for an
Oriental entourage.  He was called Foorgat Bey.

Sitting at table, Nahoum alone of all present had caught David's arrested
look, and, glancing up, had seen the girl's face at the panel of
mooshrabieh, and had seen also over her shoulder the face of his brother,
Foorgat Bey.  He had been even more astonished than David, and far more
disturbed.  He knew his brother's abilities; he knew his insinuating
address--had he not influenced their father to give him wealth while he
was yet alive?  He was aware also that his brother had visited the Palace
often of late.  It would seem as though the Prince Pasha was ready to
make him, as well as David, a favourite.  But the face of the girl--it
was an English face!  Familiar with the Palace, and bribing when it was
necessary to bribe, Foorgat Bey had evidently brought her to see the
function, there where all women were forbidden.  He could little imagine
Foorgat doing this from mere courtesy; he could not imagine any woman,
save one wholly sophisticated, or one entirely innocent, trusting herself
with him--and in such a place.  The girl's face, though not that of one
in her teens, had seemed to him a very flower of innocence.

But, as he stood telling his beads, abstractedly listening to the scandal
talked by Achmet and Higli, he was not thinking of his brother, but of
the two who had just left the chamber.  He was speculating as to which
room they were likely to enter.  They had not gone by the door convenient
to passage to Kaid's own apartments.  He would give much to hear the
conversation between Kaid and the stranger; he was all too conscious of
its purport.  As he stood thinking, Kaid returned.  After looking round
the room for a moment, the Prince came slowly over to Nahoum, and,
stretching out a hand, stroked his beard.

"Oh, brother of all the wise, may thy sun never pass its noon!" said
Kaid, in a low, friendly voice.

Despite his will, a shudder passed through Nahoum Pasha's frame.
How often in Egypt this gesture and such words were the prelude to
assassination, from which there was no escape save by death itself.  Into
Nahoum's mind there flashed the words of an Arab teacher, "There is no
refuge from God but God Himself," and he found himself blindly wondering,
even as he felt Kaid's hand upon his beard and listened to the honeyed
words, what manner of death was now preparing for him, and what death of
his own contriving should intervene.  Escape, he knew, there was none, if
his death was determined on; for spies were everywhere, and slaves in the
pay of Kaid were everywhere, and such as were not could be bought or
compelled, even if he took refuge in the house of a foreign consul.  The
lean, invisible, ghastly arm of death could find him, if Kaid willed,
though he delved in the bowels of the Cairene earth, or climbed to an
eagle's eyrie in the Libyan Hills.  Whether it was diamond-dust or
Achmet's thin thong that stopped the breath, it mattered not; it was
sure.  Yet he was not of the breed to tremble under the descending sword,
and he had long accustomed himself to the chance of "sudden demise."  It
had been chief among the chances he had taken when he entered the high
and perilous service of Kaid.  Now, as he felt the secret joy of these
dark spirits surrounding him--Achmet, and High Pasha, who kept saying
beneath his breath in thankfulness that it was not his turn, Praise be to
God!--as he, felt their secret self-gratulations, and their evil joy over
his prospective downfall, he settled himself steadily, made a low
salutation to Kaid, and calmly awaited further speech.  It came soon
enough.

"It is written upon a cucumber leaf--does not the world read it?--that
Nahoum Pasha's form shall cast a longer shadow than the trees; so that
every man in Egypt shall, thinking on him, be as covetous as Ashaah, who
knew but one thing more covetous than himself--the sheep that mistook the
rainbow for a rope of hay, and, jumping for it, broke his neck."

Kaid laughed softly at his own words.

With his eye meeting Kaid's again, after a low salaam, Nahoum made
answer:

"I would that the lance of my fame might sheathe itself in the breasts of
thy enemies, Effendina."

"Thy tongue does that office well," was the reply.  Once more Kaid laid
a gentle hand upon Nahoum's beard.  Then, with a gesture towards the
consuls and Europeans, he said to them in French: "If I might but beg
your presence for yet a little time!"  Then he turned and walked away.
He left by a door leading to his own apartments.

When he had gone, Nahoum swung slowly round and faced the agitated
groups.

"He who sleeps with one eye open sees the sun rise first," he said, with
a sarcastic laugh.  "He who goes blindfold never sees it set."

Then, with a complacent look upon them all, he slowly left the room by
the door out of which David and Kaid had first passed.

Outside the room his face did not change.  His manner had not been
bravado.  It was as natural to him as David's manner was to himself.
Each had trained himself in his own way to the mastery of his will, and
the will in each was stronger than any passion of emotion in them.  So
far at least it had been so.  In David it was the outcome of his faith,
in Nahoum it was the outcome of his philosophy, a simple, fearless
fatalism.

David had been left by Kaid in a small room, little more than an alcove,
next to a larger room richly furnished.  Both rooms belonged to a
spacious suite which lay between the harem and the major portion of the
Palace.  It had its own entrance and exits from the Palace, opening on
the square at the front, at the back opening on its own garden, which
also had its own exits to the public road.  The quarters of the Chief
Eunuch separated the suite from the harem, and Mizraim, the present Chief
Eunuch, was a man of power in the Palace, knew more secrets, was more
courted, and was richer than some of the princes.  Nahoum had an office
in the Palace, also, which gave him the freedom of the place, and brought
him often in touch with the Chief Eunuch.  He had made Mizraim a fast
friend ever since the day he had, by an able device, saved the Chief
Eunuch from determined robbery by the former Prince Pasha, with whom he
had suddenly come out of favour.

When Nahoum left the great salon, he directed his steps towards the
quarters of the Chief Eunuch, thinking of David, with a vague desire for
pursuit and conflict.  He was too much of a philosopher to seek to do
David physical injury--a futile act; for it could do him no good in the
end, could not mend his own fortunes; and, merciless as he could be on
occasion, he had no love of bloodshed.  Besides, the game afoot was not
of his making, and he was ready to await the finish, the more so because
he was sure that to-morrow would bring forth momentous things.  There was
a crisis in the Soudan, there was trouble in the army, there was dark
conspiracy of which he knew the heart, and anything might happen
to-morrow!  He had yet some cards to play, and Achmet and Higli--and
another very high and great--might be delivered over to Kaid's deadly
purposes rather than himself tomorrow.  What he knew Kaid did not know.
He had not meant to act yet; but new facts faced him, and he must make
one struggle for his life.  But as he went towards Mizraim's quarters he
saw no sure escape from the stage of those untoward events, save by the
exit which is for all in some appointed hour.

He was not, however, more perplexed and troubled than David, who, in the
little room where he had been brought and left alone with coffee and
cigarettes, served by a slave from some distant portion of the Palace,
sat facing his future.

David looked round the little room.  Upon the walls hung weapons of every
kind--from a polished dagger of Toledo to a Damascus blade, suits of
chain armour, long-handled, two-edged Arab swords, pistols which had been
used in the Syrian wars of Ibrahim, lances which had been taken from the
Druses at Palmyra, rude battle-axes from the tribes of the Soudan, and
neboots of dom-wood which had done service against Napoleon at Damietta.
The cushions among which he sat had come from Constantinople, the rug at
his feet from Tiflis, the prayer-rug on the wall from Mecca.

All that he saw was as unlike what he had known in past years as though
he had come to Mars or Jupiter.  All that he had heard recalled to him
his first readings in the Old Testament--the story of Nebuchadnezzar, of
Belshazzar, of Ahasuerus--of Ahasuerus!  He suddenly remembered the face
he had seen looking down at the Prince's table from the panel of
mooshrabieh.  That English face--where was it?  Why was it there?  Who
was the man with her?  Whose the dark face peering scornfully over her
shoulder?  The face of an English girl in that place dedicated to sombre
intrigue, to the dark effacement of women, to the darker effacement of
life, as he well knew, all too often!  In looking at this prospect for
good work in the cause of civilisation, he was not deceived, he was not
allured.  He knew into what subterranean ways he must walk, through what
mazes of treachery and falsehood he must find his way; and though he did
not know to the full the corruption which it was his duty to Kaid to turn
to incorruption, he knew enough to give his spirit pause.  What would be
--what could be--the end?  Would he not prove to be as much out of place
as was the face of that English girl?  The English girl!  England rushed
back upon him--the love of those at home; of his father, the only father
he had ever known; of Faith, the only mother or sister he had ever known;
of old John Fairley; the love of the woods and the hills where he had
wandered came upon him.  There was work to do in England, work too little
done--the memory of the great meeting at Heddington flashed upon him.
Could his labour and his skill, if he had any, not be used there?  Ah,
the green fields, the soft grey skies, the quiet vale, the brave, self-
respecting, toiling millions, the beautiful sense of law and order and
goodness!  Could his gifts and labours not be used there?  Could not--

He was suddenly startled by a smothered cry, then a call of distress.
It was the voice of a woman.

He started up.  The voice seemed to come from a room at his right; not
that from which he had entered, but one still beyond this where he was.
He sprang towards the wall and examined it swiftly.  Finding a division
in the tapestry, he ran his fingers quickly and heavily down the crack
between.  It came upon the button of a spring.  He pressed it, the door
yielded, and, throwing it back, he stepped into the room-to see a woman
struggling to resist the embraces and kisses of a man.  The face was that
of the girl who had looked out of the panel in the mooshrabieh screen.
Then it was beautiful in its mirth and animation, now it was pale and
terror-stricken, as with one free hand she fiercely beat the face pressed
to hers.

The girl only had seen David enter.  The man was not conscious of his
presence till he was seized and flung against the wall.  The violence of
the impact brought down at his feet two weapons from the wall above him.
He seized one-a dagger-and sprang to his feet.  Before he could move
forward or raise his arm, however, David struck him a blow in the neck
which flung him upon a square marble pedestal intended for a statue.  In
falling his head struck violently a sharp corner of the pedestal.  He
lurched, rolled over on the floor, and lay still.

The girl gave a choking cry.  David quickly stooped and turned the body
over.  There was a cut where the hair met the temple.  He opened the
waistcoat and thrust his hand inside the shirt.  Then he felt the pulse
of the limp wrist.

For a moment he looked at the face steadily, almost contemplatively it
might have seemed, and then drew both arms close to the body.

Foorgat Bey, the brother of Nahoum Pasha, was dead.

Rising, David turned, as if in a dream, to the girl.  He made a motion of
the hand towards the body.  She understood.  Dismay was in her face, but
the look of horror and desperation was gone.  She seemed not to realise,
as did David, the awful position in which they were placed, the deed
which David had done, the significance of the thing that lay at their
feet.

"Where are thy people?" said David.  "Come, we will go to them."

"I have no people here," she said, in a whisper.

"Who brought thee?"

She made a motion behind her towards the body.  David glanced down.  The
eyes of the dead man were open.  He stooped and closed them gently.  The
collar and tie were disarranged; he straightened them, then turned again
to her.

"I must take thee away," he said calmly.  "But it must be secretly."  He
looked around, perplexed.  "We came secretly.  My maid is outside the
garden--in a carriage.  Oh, come, let us go, let us escape.  They will
kill you--!"  Terror came into her face again.  "Thee, not me, is in
danger--name, goodness, future, all.  .  .  .  Which way did thee come?"

"Here--through many rooms--" She made a gesture to curtains beyond.
"But we first entered through doors with sphinxes on either side,
with a room where was a statue of Mehemet Ali."

It was the room through which David had come with Kaid.  He took her
hand.  "Come quickly.  I know the way.  It is here," he said, pointing to
the panel-door by which he had entered.

Holding her hand still, as though she were a child, he led her quickly
from the room, and shut the panel behind them.  As they passed through,
a hand drew aside the curtains on the other side of the room which they
were leaving.

Presently the face of Nahoum Pasha followed the hand.  A swift glance to
the floor, then he ran forward, stooped down, and laid a hand on his
brother's breast.  The slight wound on the forehead answered his rapid
scrutiny.  He realised the situation as plainly as if it had been written
down for him--he knew his brother well.

Noiselessly he moved forward and touched the spring of the door through
which the two had gone.  It yielded, and he passed through, closed the
door again and stealthily listened, then stole a look into the farther
chamber.  It was empty.  He heard the outer doors close.  For a moment he
listened, then went forward and passed through into the hall.  Softly
turning the handle of the big wooden doors which faced him, he opened
them an inch or so, and listened.  He could hear swiftly retreating
footsteps.  Presently he heard the faint noise of a gate shutting.  He
nodded his head, and was about to close the doors and turn away, when his
quick ear detected footsteps again in the garden.  Some one--the man,
of course--was returning.

"May fire burn his eyes for ever!  He would talk with Kald, then go again
among them all, and so pass out unsuspected and safe.  For who but I--who
but I could say he did it?  And I--what is my proof?  Only the words
which I speak."

A scornful, fateful smile passed over his face.  "'Hast thou never killed
a man?' said Kaid.  'Never,' said he--'by the goodness of God, never!'
The voice of Him of Galilee, the hand of Cain, the craft of Jael.  But
God is with the patient."

He went hastily and noiselessly-his footfall was light for so heavy a
man-through the large room to the farther side from that by which David
and Kaid had first entered.  Drawing behind a clump of palms near a door
opening to a passage leading to Mizraim's quarters, he waited.  He saw
David enter quickly, yet without any air of secrecy, and pass into the
little room where Kaid had left him.

For a long time there was silence.

The reasons were clear in Nahoum's mind why he should not act yet.  A new
factor had changed the equation which had presented itself a short half
hour ago.

A new factor had also entered into the equation which had been presented
to David by Kaid with so flattering an insistence.  He sat in the place
where Kaid had left him, his face drawn and white, his eyes burning, but
with no other "sign of agitation.  He was frozen and still.  His look was
fastened now upon the door by which the Prince Pasha would enter, now
upon the door through which he had passed to the rescue of the English
girl, whom he had seen drive off safely with her maid.  In their swift
passage from the Palace to the carriage, a thing had been done of even
greater moment than the killing of the sensualist in the next room.  In
the journey to the gateway the girl David served had begged him to escape
with her.  This he had almost sharply declined; it would be no escape, he
had said.  She had urged that no one knew.  He had replied that Kaid
would come again for him, and suspicion would be aroused if he were gone.

"Thee has safety," he had said.  "I will go back.  I will say that I
killed him.  I have taken a life, I will pay for it as is the law."

Excited as she was, she had seen the inflexibility of his purpose.  She
had seen the issue also clearly.  He would give himself up, and the whole
story would be the scandal of Europe.

"You have no right to save me only to kill me," she had said desperately.
"You would give your life, but you would destroy that which is more than
life to me.  You did not intend to kill him.  It was no murder, it was
punishment."  Her voice had got harder.  "He would have killed my life
because he was evil.  Will you kill it because you are good?  Will you be
brave, quixotic, but not pitiful?  .  .  .  No, no, no!" she had said,
as his hand was upon the gate, "I will not go unless you promise that you
will hide the truth, if you can."  She had laid her hand upon his
shoulder with an agonised impulse.  "You will hide it for a girl who will
cherish your memory her whole life long.  Ah--God bless you!"

She had felt that she conquered before he spoke as, indeed, he did not
speak, but nodded his head and murmured something indistinctly.  But that
did not matter, for she had won; she had a feeling that all would be
well.  Then he had placed her in her carriage, and she was driven swiftly
away, saying to herself half hysterically: "I am safe, I am safe.  He
will keep his word."

Her safety and his promise were the new factor which changed the equation
for which Kaid would presently ask the satisfaction.  David's life had
suddenly come upon problems for which his whole past was no preparation.
Conscience, which had been his guide in every situation, was now
disarmed, disabled, and routed.  It had come to terms.

In going quickly through the room, they had disarranged a table.  The
girl's cloak had swept over it, and a piece of brie-a-brae had been
thrown upon the floor.  He got up and replaced it with an attentive air.
He rearranged the other pieces on the table mechanically, seeing, feeling
another scene, another inanimate thing which must be for ever and for
ever a picture burning in his memory.  Yet he appeared to be casually
doing a trivial and necessary act.  He did not definitely realise his
actions; but long afterwards he could have drawn an accurate plan of the
table, could have reproduced upon it each article in its exact place as
correctly as though it had been photographed.  There were one or two
spots of dust or dirt on the floor, brought in by his boots from the
garden.  He flicked them aside with his handkerchief.

How still it was!  Or was it his life which had become so still?  It
seemed as if the world must be noiseless, for not a sound of the life in
other parts of the Palace came to him, not an echo or vibration of the
city which stirred beyond the great gateway.  Was it the chilly hand of
death passing over everything, and smothering all the activities?  His
pulses, which, but a few minutes past, were throbbing and pounding like
drums in his ears, seemed now to flow and beat in very quiet.  Was this,
then, the way that murderers felt, that men felt who took human life--so
frozen, so little a part of their surroundings?  Did they move as dead
men among the living, devitalised, vacuous calm?

His life had been suddenly twisted out of recognition.  All that his
habit, his code, his morals, his religion, had imposed upon him had been
overturned in one moment.  To take a human life, even in battle, was
against the code by which he had ever been governed, yet he had taken
life secretly, and was hiding it from the world.

Accident?  But had it been necessary to strike at all?  His presence
alone would have been enough to save the girl from further molestation;
but, he had thrown himself upon the man like a tiger.  Yet, somehow, he
felt no sorrow for that.  He knew that if again and yet again he were
placed in the same position he would do even as he had done--even as he
had done with the man Kimber by the Fox and Goose tavern beyond Hamley.
He knew that the blow he had given then was inevitable, and he had never
felt real repentance.  Thinking of that blow, he saw its sequel in the
blow he had given now.  Thus was that day linked with the present, thus
had a blow struck in punishment of the wrong done the woman at the
crossroads been repeated in the wrong done the girl who had just left
him.

A sound now broke the stillness.  It was a door shutting not far off.
Kaid was coming.  David turned his face towards the room where Foorgat
Bey was lying dead.  He lifted his arms with a sudden passionate gesture.
The blood came rushing through his veins again.  His life, which had
seemed suspended, was set free; and an exaltation of sorrow, of pain, of
action, possessed him.

"I have taken a life, O my God!" he murmured.  "Accept mine in service
for this land.  What I have done in secret, let me atone for in secret,
for this land--for this poor land, for Christ's sake!"

Footsteps were approaching quickly.  With a great effort of the will he
ruled himself to quietness again.  Kaid entered, and stood before him in
silence.  David rose.  He looked Kaid steadily in the eyes.  "Well?"
said Kaid placidly.

"For Egypt's sake I will serve thee," was the reply.  He held out his
hand.  Kaid took it, but said, in smiling comment on the action: "As the
Viceroy's servant there is another way!"

"I will salaam to-morrow, Kaid," answered David.

"It is the only custom of the place I will require of thee, effendi.
Come."

A few moments later they were standing among the consuls and officials in
the salon.

"Where is Nahoum?" asked Kaid, looking round on the agitated throng.

No one answered.  Smiling, Kaid whispered in David's ear.




CHAPTER VII

THE COMPACT

One by one the lights went out in the Palace.  The excited guests were
now knocking at the doors of Cairene notables, bent upon gossip of the
night's events, or were scouring the bazaars for ears into which to pour
the tale of how David was exalted and Nahoum was brought low; how, before
them all, Kaid had commanded Nahoum to appear at the Palace in the
morning at eleven, and the Inglesi, as they had named David, at ten.  But
they declared to all who crowded upon their words that the Inglesi left
the Palace with a face frozen white, as though it was he that had met
debacle, while Nahoum had been as urbane and cynical as though he had
come to the fulness of his power.

Some, on hearing this, said: "Beware Nahoum!"  But those who had been at
the Palace said: "Beware the Inglesi!"  This still Quaker, with the white
shining face and pontifical hat, with his address of "thee" and "thou,"
and his forms of speech almost Oriental in their imagery and simplicity,
himself an archaism, had impressed them with a sense of power.  He had
prompted old Diaz Pasha to speak of him as a reincarnation, so separate
and withdrawn he seemed at the end of the evening, yet with an uncanny
mastery in his dark brown eyes.  One of the Ulema, or holy men, present
had said in reply to Diaz: "It is the look of one who hath walked with
Death and bought and sold with Sheitan the accursed."  To Nahoum Pasha,
Dim had said, as the former left the Palace, a cigarette between his
fingers: "Sleep not nor slumber, Nahoum.  The world was never lost by one
earthquake."  And Nahoum had replied with a smooth friendliness: "The
world is not reaped in one harvest."

"The day is at hand--the East against the West," murmured old Diaz, as he
passed on.

"The day is far spent," answered Nahoum, in a voice unheard by Diaz; and,
with a word to his coachman, who drove off quickly, he disappeared in the
shrubbery.

A few minutes later he was tapping at the door of Mizraim, the Chief
Eunuch.  Three times he tapped in the same way.  Presently the door
opened, and he stepped inside.  The lean, dark figure of Mizraim bowed
low; the long, slow fingers touched the forehead, the breast, and the
lips.

"May God preserve thy head from harm, excellency, and the night give thee
sleep," said Mizraim.  He looked inquiringly at Nahoum.

"May thy head know neither heat nor cold, and thy joys increase,"
responded Nahoum mechanically, and sat down.

To an European it would have seemed a shameless mockery to have wished
joy to this lean, hateful dweller in the between-worlds; to Nahoum it was
part of a life which was all ritual and intrigue, gabbling superstition
and innate fatalism, decorated falsehood and a brave philosophy.

"I have work for thee at last, Mizraim," said Nahoum.

"At last?"

"Thou hast but played before.  To-night I must see the sweat of thy
brow."

Mizraim's cold fingers again threw themselves against his breast,
forehead, and lips, and he said:

"As a woman swims in a fountain, so shall I bathe in sweat for thee, who
hath given with one hand and hath never taken with the other."

"I did thee service once, Mizraim--eh?"

"I was as a bird buffeted by the wind; upon thy masts my feet found rest.
Behold, I build my nest in thy sails, excellency."

"There are no birds in last year's nest, Mizraim, thou dove," said
Nahoum, with a cynical smile.  "When I build, I build.  Where I swear by
the stone of the corner, there am I from dark to dark and from dawn to
dawn, pasha."  Suddenly he swept his hand low to the ground and a ghastly
sort of smile crossed over his face.  "Speak--I am thy servant.  Shall I
not hear?  I will put my hand in the entrails of Egypt, and wrench them
forth for thee."

He made a gesture so cruelly, so darkly, suggestive that Nahoum turned
his head away.  There flashed before his mind the scene of death in which
his own father had lain, butchered like a beast in the shambles, a victim
to the rage of Ibrahim Pasha, the son of Mehemet Ali.

"Then listen, and learn why I have need of thee to-night."

First, Nahoum told the story of David's coming, and Kaid's treatment of
himself, the foreshadowing of his own doom.  Then of David and the girl,
and the dead body he had seen; of the escape of the girl, of David's
return with Kaid--all exactly as it had happened, save that he did; not
mention the name of the dead man.

It did not astonish Mizraim that Nahoum had kept all this secret.  That
crime should be followed by secrecy and further crime, if need be, seems
natural to the Oriental mind.  Mizraim had seen removal follow upon
removal, and the dark Nile flowed on gloomily, silently, faithful to the
helpless ones tossed into its bosom.  It would much have astonished him
if Nahoum had not shown a gaping darkness somewhere in his tale, and he
felt for the key to the mystery.

"And he who lies dead, excellency?"

"My brother."

"Foorgat Bey!"

"Even he, Mizraim.  He lured the girl here--a mad man ever.  The other
madman was in the next room.  He struck--come, and thou shalt see."

Together they felt their way through the passages and rooms, and
presently entered the room where Foorgat Bey was lying.  Nahoum struck a
light, and, as he held the candle, Mizraim knelt and examined the body
closely.  He found the slight wound on the temple, then took the candle
from Nahoum and held it close to the corner of the marble pedestal.  A
faint stain of blood was there.  Again he examined the body, and ran his
fingers over the face and neck.  Suddenly he stopped, and held the light
close to the skin beneath the right jaw.  He motioned, and Nahoum laid
his fingers also on the spot.  There was a slight swelling.

"A blow with the fist, excellency--skilful, and English."  He looked
inquiringly at Nahoum.  "As a weasel hath a rabbit by the throat, so is
the Inglesi in thy hands."

Nahoum shook his head.  "And if I went to Kaid, and said, 'This is the
work of the Inglesi,' would he believe?  Kaid would hang me for the lie--
would it be truth to him?  What proof have I, save the testimony
of mine own eyes?  Egypt would laugh at that.  Is it the time, while
yet the singers are beneath the windows, to assail the bride?  All
bridegrooms are mad.  It is all sunshine and morning with the favourite,
the Inglesi.  Only when the shadows lengthen may he be stricken.  Not
now."

"Why dost thou hide this from Kaid, O thou brother of the eagle?"

"For my gain and thine, keeper of the gate.  To-night I am weak, because
I am poor.  To-morrow I shall be rich and, it may be, strong.  If Kaid
knew of this tonight, I should be a prisoner before cockcrow.  What
claims has a prisoner?  Kaid would be in my brother's house at dawn,
seizing all that is there and elsewhere, and I on my way to Fazougli, to
be strangled or drowned."

"O wise and far-seeing!  Thine eye pierces the earth.  What is there to
do?  What is my gain--what thine?"

"Thy gain?  The payment of thy debt to me."  Mizraim's face lengthened.
His was a loathsome sort of gratitude.  He was willing to pay in kind;
but what Oriental ever paid a debt without a gift in return, even as a
bartering Irishman demands his lucky penny.

"So be it, excellency, and my life is thine to spill upon the ground, a
scarlet cloth for thy feet.  And backsheesh?"

Nahoum smiled grimly.  "For backsheesh, thy turban full of gold."

Mizraim's eyes glittered-the dull black shine of a mongrel terrier's.  He
caught the sleeve of Nahoum's coat and kissed it, then kissed his hand.

Thus was their bargain made over the dead body; and Mizraim had an almost
superstitious reverence for the fulfilment of a bond, the one virtue
rarely found in the Oriental.  Nothing else had he, but of all men in
Egypt he was the best instrument Nahoum could have chosen; and of all men
in Egypt he was the one man who could surely help him.

"What is there now to do, excellency?"

"My coachman is with the carriage at the gate by which the English girl
left.  It is open still.  The key is in Foorgat's pocket, no doubt;
stolen by him, no doubt also.  .  .  .  This is my design.  Thou wilt
drive him"--he pointed to the body--"to his palace, seated in the
carriage as though he were alive.  There is a secret entrance.  The bowab
of the gate will show the way; I know it not.  But who will deny thee?
Thou comest from high places--from Kaid.  Who will speak of this?  Will
the bowab?  In the morning Foorgat will be found dead in his bed!  The
slight bruise thou canst heal--thou canst?"

Mizraim nodded.  "I can smooth it from the sharpest eye."

"At dawn he will be found dead; but at dawn I shall be knocking at his
gates.  Before the world knows I shall be in possession.  All that is his
shall be mine, for at once the men of law shall be summoned, and my
inheritance secured before Kaid shall even know of his death.  I shall
take my chances for my life."

"And the coachman, and the bowab, and others it may be?"

"Shall not these be with thee--thou, Kaid's keeper of the harem, the lion
at the door of his garden of women?  Would it be strange that Foorgat,
who ever flew at fruit above his head, perilous to get or keep, should be
found on forbidden ground, or in design upon it?  Would it be strange to
the bowab or the slave that he should return with thee stark and still?
They would but count it mercy of Kaid that he was not given to the
serpents of the Nile.  A word from thee--would one open his mouth?  Would
not the shadow of thy hand, of the swift doom, be over them?  Would not
a handful of gold bind them to me?  Is not the man dead?  Are they not
mine--mine to bind or break as I will?"

"So be it!  Wisdom is of thee as the breath of man is his life.  I will
drive Foorgat Bey to his home."

A few moments later all that was left of Foorgat Bey was sitting in his
carriage beside Mizraim the Chief Eunuch--sitting upright, stony, and
still, and in such wise was driven swiftly to his palace.




CHAPTER VIII

FOR HIS SOUL'S SAKE AND THE LAND'S SAKE

David came to know a startling piece of news the next morning-that
Foorgat Bey had died of heart-disease in his bed, and was so found by his
servants.  He at once surmised that Foorgat's body had been carried out
of the Palace; no doubt that it might not be thought he had come to his
death by command of Kaid.  His mind became easier.  Death, murder, crime
in Egypt was not a nine days' wonder; it scarce outlived one day.  When a
man was gone none troubled.  The dead man was in the bosom of Allah; then
why should the living be beset or troubled?  If there was foul play, why
make things worse by sending another life after the life gone, even in
the way of justice?

The girl David saved had told him her own name, and had given him the
name of the hotel at which she was staying.  He had an early breakfast,
and prepared to go to her hotel, wishing to see her once more.  There
were things to be said for the first and last time and then be buried for
ever.  She must leave the country at once.  In this sick, mad land, in
this whirlpool of secret murder and conspiracy, no one could tell what
plot was hatching, what deeds were forward; and he could not yet be sure
that no one save himself and herself knew who had killed Foorgat Bey.
Her perfect safety lay in instant flight.  It was his duty to see that
she went, and at once--this very day.  He would go and see her.

He went to the hotel.  There he learned that, with her aunt, she had left
that morning for Alexandria en route to England.

He approved her wisdom, he applauded her decision.  Yet--yet, somehow,
as he bent his footsteps towards his lodgings again he had a sense of
disappointment, of revelation.  What might happen to him--evidently that
had not occurred to her.  How could she know but that his life might be
in danger; that, after all, they might have been seen leaving the fatal
room?  Well, she had gone, and with all his heart he was glad that she
was safe.

His judgment upon last night's event was not coloured by a single
direct criticism upon the girl.  But he could not prevent the suggestion
suddenly flashing into his mind that she had thought of herself first and
last.  Well, she had gone; and he was here to face the future,
unencumbered by aught save the weight of his own conscience.

Yet, the weight of his conscience!  His feet were still free--free for
one short hour before he went to Kaid; but his soul was in chains.  As he
turned his course to the Nile, and crossed over the great bridge, there
went clanking by in chains a hundred conscripts, torn from their homes in
the Fayoum, bidding farewell for ever to their friends, receiving their
last offerings, for they had no hope of return.  He looked at their
haggard and dusty faces, at their excoriated ankles, and his eyes closed
in pain.  All they felt he felt.  What their homes were to them, these
fellaheen, dragged forth to defend their country, to go into the desert
and waste their lives under leaders tyrannous, cruel, and incompetent,
his old open life, his innocence, his integrity, his truthfulness and
character, were to him.  By an impulsive act, by a rash blow, he had
asserted his humanity; but he had killed his fellow-man in anger.  He
knew that as that fatal blow had been delivered, there was no thought of
punishment--it was blind anger and hatred: it was the ancient virus
working which had filled the world with war, and armed it at the expense,
the bitter and oppressive expense, of the toilers and the poor.  The
taxes for wars were wrung out of the sons of labour and sorrow.  These
poor fellaheen had paid taxes on everything they possessed.  Taxes,
taxes, nothing but taxes from the cradle!  Their lands, houses, and palm-
trees would be taxed still, when they would reap no more.  And having
given all save their lives, these lives they must now give under the whip
and the chain and the sword.

As David looked at them in their single blue calico coverings, in which
they had lived and slept-shivering in the cold night air upon the bare
ground--these thoughts came to him; and he had a sudden longing to follow
them and put the chains upon his own arms and legs, and go forth and
suffer with them, and fight and die?  To die were easy.  To fight?. . . .
Was it then come to that?  He was no longer a man of peace, but a man of
the sword; no longer a man of the palm and the evangel, but a man of
blood and of crime!  He shrank back out of the glare of the sun; for it
suddenly seemed to him that there was written upon his fore head, "This
is a brother of Cain."  For the first time in his life he had a shrinking
from the light, and from the sun which he had loved like a Persian, had,
in a sense, unconsciously worshipped.

He was scarcely aware where he was.  He had wandered on until he had come
to the end of the bridge and into the great groups of traffickers who, at
this place, made a market of their wares.  Here sat a seller of sugar
cane; there wandered, clanking his brasses, a merchant of sweet waters;
there shouted a cheap-jack of the Nile the virtues of a knife from
Sheffield.  Yonder a camel-driver squatted and counted his earnings; and
a sheepdealer haggled with the owner of a ghiassa bound for the sands of
the North.  The curious came about him and looked at him, but he did not
see or hear.  He sat upon a stone, his gaze upon the river, following
with his eyes, yet without consciously observing, the dark riverine
population whose ways are hidden, who know only the law of the river and
spend their lives in eluding itpirates and brigands now, and yet again
the peaceful porters of commerce.

To his mind, never a criminal in this land but less a criminal than he!
For their standard was a standard of might the only right; but he--his
whole life had been nurtured in an atmosphere of right and justice, had
been a spiritual demonstration against force.  He was with out fear, as
he was without an undue love of life.  The laying down of his life had
never been presented to him; and yet, now that his conscience was his
only judge, and it condemned him, he would gladly have given his life to
pay the price of blood.

That was impossible.  His life was not his own to give, save by suicide;
and that would be the unpardonable insult to God and humanity.  He had
given his word to the woman, and he would keep it.  In those brief
moments she must have suffered more than most men suffer in a long life.
Not her hand, however, but his, had committed the deed.  And yet a sudden
wave of pity for her rushed over him, because the conviction seized him
that she would also in her heart take upon herself the burden of his
guilt as though it were her own.  He had seen it in the look of her face
last night.

For the sake of her future it was her duty to shield herself from any
imputation which might as unjustly as scandalously arise, if the facts of
that black hour ever became known.  Ever became known?  The thought that
there might be some human eye which had seen, which knew, sent a shiver
through him.

"I would give my life a thousand times rather than that," he said aloud
to the swift-flowing river.  His head sank on his breast.  His lips
murmured in prayer:

"But be merciful to me, Thou just Judge of Israel, for Thou hast made me,
and Thou knowest whereof I am made.  Here will I dedicate my life to Thee
for the land's sake.  Not for my soul's sake, O my God!  If it be Thy
will, let my soul be cast away; but for the soul of him whose body I
slew, and for his land, let my life be the long sacrifice."

Dreams he had had the night before--terrible dreams, which he could never
forget; dreams of a fugitive being hunted through the world, escaping and
eluding, only to be hemmed in once more; on and on till he grew grey and
gaunt, and the hunt suddenly ended in a great morass, into which he
plunged with the howling world behind him.  The grey, dank mists came
down on him, his footsteps sank deeper and deeper, and ever the cries, as
of damned spirits, grew in his ears.  Mocking shapes flitted past him,
the wings of obscene birds buffeted him, the morass grew up about him;
and now it was all a red moving mass like a dead sea heaving about him.
With a moan of agony he felt the dolorous flood above his shoulders, and
then a cry pierced the gloom and the loathsome misery, and a voice he
knew called to him, "David, David, I am coming!" and he had awaked with
the old hallucination of his uncle's voice calling to him in the dawn.

It came to him now as he sat by the water-side, and he raised his face to
the sun and to the world.  The idlers had left him alone; none were
staring at him now.  They were all intent on their own business, each man
labouring after his kind.  He heard the voice of a riverman as he toiled
at a rope standing on the corn that filled his ghiassa from end to end,
from keel to gunwale.  The man was singing a wild chant of cheerful
labour, the soul of the hard-smitten of the earth rising above the rack
and burden of the body:

         "O, the garden where to-day we sow and to-morrow we reap!
          O, the sakkia turning by the garden walls;
          O, the onion-field and the date-tree growing,
          And my hand on the plough-by the blessing of God;
          Strength of my soul, O my brother, all's well!"

The meaning of the song got into his heart.  He pressed his hand to his
breast with a sudden gesture.  It touched something hard.  It was his
flute.  Mechanically he had put it in his pocket when he dressed in the
morning.  He took it out and looked at it lovingly.  Into it he had
poured his soul in the old days--days, centuries away, it seemed now.  It
should still be the link with the old life.  He rose and walked towards
his home again.  The future spread clearly before him.  Rapine, murder,
tyranny, oppression, were round him on every side, and the ruler of the
land called him to his counsels.  Here a great duty lay--his life for
this land, his life, and his love, and his faith.  He would expiate his
crime and his sin, the crime of homicide for which he alone was
responsible, the sin of secrecy for which he and another were
responsible.  And that other?  If only there had been but one word
of understanding between them before she left!

At the door of his house stood the American whom he had met at the
citadel yesterday-it seemed a hundred years ago.

"I've got a letter for you," Lacey said.  "The lady's aunt and herself
are cousins of mine more or less removed, and originally at home in the
U. S. A.  a generation ago.  Her mother was an American.  She didn't know
your name--Miss Hylda Maryon, I mean.  I told her, but there wasn't time
to put it on."  He handed over the unaddressed envelope.

David opened the letter, and read:

"I have seen the papers.  I do not understand what has happened, but I
know that all is well.  If it were not so, I would not go.  That is the
truth.  Grateful I am, oh, believe me!  So grateful that I do not yet
know what is the return which I must make.  But the return will be made.
I hear of what has come to you--how easily I might have destroyed all!
My thoughts blind me.  You are great and good; you will know at least
that I go because it is the only thing to do.  I fly from the storm with
a broken wing.  Take now my promise to pay what I owe in the hour Fate
wills--or in the hour of your need.  You can trust him who brings this to
you; he is a distant cousin of my own.  Do not judge him by his odd and
foolish words.  They hide a good character, and he has a strong nature.
He wants work to do.  Can you give it?  Farewell."

David put the letter in his pocket, a strange quietness about his heart.

He scarcely realised what Lacey was saying.  "Great girl that.  Troubled
about something in England, I guess.  Going straight back."

David thanked him for the letter.  Lacey became red in the face.  He
tried to say something, but failed.  "Thee wishes to say something to me,
friend?" asked David.

"I'm full up; I can't speak.  But, say--"

"I am going to the Palace now.  Come back at noon if you will."

He wrung David's hand in gratitude.  "You're going to do it.  You're
going to do it.  I see it.  It's a great game--like Abe Lincoln's.  Say,
let me black your boots while you're doing it, will you?"

David pressed his hand.




CHAPTER IX

THE LETTER, THE NIGHT, AND THE WOMAN

     "To-day has come the fulfilment of my dream, Faith.  I am given to
     my appointed task; I am set on a road of life in which there is no
     looking back.  My dreams of the past are here begun in very truth
     and fact.  When, in the night, I heard Uncle Benn calling, when in
     the Meeting-house voices said, 'Come away, come away, and labour,
     thou art idle,' I could hear my heart beat in the ardour to be off.
     Yet I knew not whither.  Now I know.

     "Last night the Prince Pasha called me to his Council, made me
     adviser, confidant, as one who has the ear of his captain--after he
     had come to terms with me upon that which Uncle Benn left of land
     and gold.  Think not that he tempted me.

     "Last night I saw favourites look upon me with hate because of
     Kaid's favour, though the great hall was filled with show of
     cheerful splendour, and men smiled and feasted.  To-day I know that
     in the Palace where I was summoned to my first: duty with the
     Prince, every step I took was shadowed, every motion recorded, every
     look or word noted and set down.  I have no fear of them.  They are
     not subtle enough for the unexpected acts of honesty in the life of
     a true man.  Yet I do not wonder men fail to keep honest in the
     midst of this splendour, where all is strife as to who shall have
     the Prince's favour; who shall enjoy the fruits of bribery,
     backsheesh, and monopoly; who shall wring from the slave and the
     toil-ridden fellah the coin his poor body mints at the corvee, in
     his own taxed fields of dourha and cucumbers.

     "Is this like anything we ever dreamed at Hamley, Faith?  Yet here
     am I set, and here shall I stay till the skein be ravelled out.
     Soon I shall go into the desert upon a mission to the cities of the
     South, to Dongola, Khartoum, and Darfur and beyond; for there is
     trouble yonder, and war is near, unless it is given to me to bring
     peace.  So I must bend to my study of Arabic, which I am thankful I
     learned long ago.  And I must not forget to say that I shall take
     with me on my journey that faithful Muslim Ebn Ezra.  Others I shall
     take also, but of them I shall write hereafter.

     "I shall henceforth be moving in the midst of things which I was
     taught to hate.  I pray that I may not hate them less as time goes
     on.  To-morrow I shall breathe the air of intrigue, shall hear
     footsteps of spies behind me wherever I go; shall know that even the
     roses in the garden have ears; that the ground under my feet will
     telegraph my thoughts.  Shall I be true?  Shall I at last whisper,
     and follow, and evade, believe in no one, much less in myself, steal
     in and out of men's confidences to use them for my own purposes?
     Does any human being know what he can bear of temptation or of the
     daily pressure of the life around him?  what powers of resistance
     are in his soul?  how long the vital energy will continue to throw
     off the never-ending seduction, the freshening force of evil?
     Therein lies the power of evil, that it is ever new, ever fortified
     by continuous conquest and achievements.  It has the rare fire of
     aggression; is ever more upon the offence than upon the defence;
     has, withal, the false lure of freedom from restraint, the throbbing
     force of sympathy.

     "Such things I dreamed not of in Soolsby's but upon the hill, Faith,
     though, indeed, that seemed a time of trial and sore-heartedness.
     How large do small issues seem till we have faced the momentous
     things!  It is true that the larger life has pleasures and expanding
     capacities; but it is truer still that it has perils, events which
     try the soul as it is never tried in the smaller life--unless,
     indeed, the soul be that of the Epicurean.  The Epicurean I well
     understand, and in his way I might have walked with a wicked grace.
     I have in me some hidden depths of luxury, a secret heart of
     pleasure, an understanding for the forbidden thing.  I could have
     walked the broad way with a laughing heart, though, in truth, habit
     of mind and desire have kept me in the better path.  But offences
     must come, and woe to him from whom the offence cometh!  I have
     begun now, and only now, to feel the storms that shake us to our
     farthest cells of life.  I begin to see how near good is to evil;
     how near faith is to unfaith; and how difficult it is to judge from
     actions only; how little we can know to-day what we shall feel
     tomorrow.  Yet one must learn to see deeper, to find motive, not in
     acts that shake the faith, but in character which needs no
     explanation, which--"

He paused, disturbed.  Then he raised his head, as though not conscious
of what was breaking the course of his thoughts.  Presently he realised a
low, hurried knocking at his door.  He threw a hand over his eyes, and
sprang up.  An instant later the figure of a woman, deeply veiled, stood
within the room, beside the table where he had been writing.  There was
silence as they faced each other, his back against the door.

"Oh, do you not know me?" she said at last, and sank into the chair
where he had been sitting.

The question was unnecessary, and she knew it was so; but she could not
bear the strain of the silence.  She seemed to have risen out of the
letter he had been writing; and had he not been writing of her--of what
concerned them both?  How mean and small-hearted he had been, to have
thought for an instant that she had not the highest courage, though in
going she had done the discreeter, safer thing.  But she had come--she
had come!

All this was in his eyes, though his face was pale and still.  He was
almost rigid with emotion, for the ancient habit of repose and self-
command of the Quaker people was upon him.

"Can you not see--do you not know?" she repeated, her back upon him now,
her face still veiled, her hands making a swift motion of distress.

"Has thee found in the past that thee is so soon forgotten?"

"Oh, do not blame me!"  She raised her veil suddenly, and showed a face
as pale as his own, and in the eyes a fiery brightness.  "I did not know.
It was so hard to come--do not blame me.  I went to Alexandria--I felt
that I must fly; the air around me seemed full of voices crying out.  Did
you not understand why I went?"

"I understand," he said, coming forward slowly.  "Thee should not have
returned.  In the way I go now the watchers go also."

"If I had not come, you would never have understood," she answered
quickly.  "I am not sorry I went.  I was so frightened, so shaken.  My
only thought was to get away from the terrible Thing.  But I should have
been sorry all my life long had I not come back to tell you what I feel,
and that I shall never forget.  All my life I shall be grateful.  You
have saved me from a thousand deaths.  Ah, if I could give you but one
life!  Yet--yet--oh, do not think but that I would tell you the whole
truth, though I am not wholly truthful.  See, I love my place in the
world more than I love my life; and but for you I should have lost all."

He made a protesting motion.  "The debt is mine, in truth.  But for you I
should never have known what, perhaps--" He paused.

His eyes were on hers, gravely speaking what his tongue faltered to say.
She looked and looked, but did not understand.  She only saw troubled
depths, lighted by a soul of kindling purpose.  "Tell me," she said,
awed.

"Through you I have come to know--"  He paused again.  What he was going
to say, truthful though it was, must hurt her, and she had been sorely
hurt already.  He put his thoughts more gently, more vaguely.

"By what happened I have come to see what matters in life.  I was behind
the hedge.  I have broken through upon the road.  I know my goal now.
The highway is before me."

She felt the tragedy in his words, and her voice shook as she spoke.  "I
wish I knew life better.  Then I could make a better answer.  You are on
the road, you say.  But I feel that it is a hard and cruel road--oh, I
understand that at least!  Tell me, please, tell me the whole truth.  You
are hiding from me what you feel.  I have upset your life, have I not?
You are a Quaker, and Quakers are better than all other Christian people,
are they not?  Their faith is peace, and for me, you--" She covered her
face with her hands for an instant, but turned quickly and looked him in
the eyes: "For me you put your hand upon the clock of a man's life, and
stopped it."

She got to her feet with a passionate gesture, but he put a hand gently
upon her arm, and she sank back again.  "Oh, it was not you; it was I who
did it!" she said.  "You did what any man of honour would have done,
what a brother would have done."

"What I did is a matter for myself only," he responded quickly.  "Had I
never seen your face again it would have been the same.  You were the
occasion; the thing I did had only one source, my own heart and mind.
There might have been another way; but for that way, or for the way I did
take, you could not be responsible."

"How generous you are!"  Her eyes swam with tears; she leaned over the
table where he had been writing, and the tears dropped upon his letter.
Presently she realised this, and drew back, then made as though to dry
the tears from the paper with her handkerchief.  As she did so the words
that he had written met her eye: "'But offences must come, and woe to him
from whom the offence cometh!'  I have begun now, and only now, to feel
the storms that shake us to our farthest cells of life."

She became very still.  He touched her arm and said heavily: "Come away,
come away."

She pointed to the words she had read.  "I could not help but see, and
now I know what this must mean to you."

"Thee must go at once," he urged.  "Thee should not have come.  Thee was
safe--none knew.  A few hours and it would all have been far behind.  We
might never have met again."

Suddenly she gave a low, hysterical laugh.  "You think you hide the real
thing from me.  I know I'm ignorant and selfish and feeble-minded, but I
can see farther than you think.  You want to tell the truth about--about
it, because you are honest and hate hiding things, because you want to be
punished, and so pay the price.  Oh, I can understand!  If it were not
for me you would not.  .  .  .  "  With a sudden wild impulse she got to
her feet.  "And you shall not," she cried.  "I will not have it."  Colour
came rushing to her cheeks.

"I will not have it.  I will not put myself so much in your debt.  I will
not demand so much of you.  I will face it all.  I will stand alone."

There was a touch of indignation in her voice.  Somehow she seemed moved
to anger against him.  Her hands were clasped at her side rigidly, her
pulses throbbing.  He stood looking at her fixedly, as though trying to
realise her.  His silence agitated her still further, and she spoke
excitedly:

"I could have, would have, killed him myself without a moment's regret.
He had planned, planned--ah, God, can you not see it all!  I would have
taken his life without a thought.  I was mad to go upon such an
adventure, but I meant no ill.  I had not one thought that I could not
have cried out from the housetops, and he had in his heart--he had what
you saw.  But you repent that you killed him--by accident, it was by
accident.  Do you realise how many times others have been trapped by him
as was I?  Do you not see what he was--as I see now?  Did he not say as
much to me before you came, when I was dumb with terror?  Did he not make
me understand what his whole life had been?  Did I not see in a flash the
women whose lives he had spoiled and killed?  Would I have had pity?
Would I have had remorse?  No, no, no!  I was frightened when it was
done, I was horrified, but I was not sorry; and I am not sorry.  It was
to be.  It was thetrue end to his vileness.  Ah!"

She shuddered, and buried her face in her hands for a moment, then went
on: "I can never forgive myself for going to the Palace with him.  I was
mad for experience, for mystery; I wanted more than the ordinary share of
knowledge.  I wanted to probe things.  Yet I meant no wrong.  I thought
then nothing of which I shall ever be ashamed.  But I shall always be
ashamed because I knew him, because he thought that I--oh, if I were a
man, I should be glad that I had killed him, for the sake of all honest
women!"

He remained silent.  His look was not upon her, he seemed lost in a
dream; but his face was fixed in trouble.

She misunderstood his silence.  "You had the courage, the impulse to--to
do it," she said keenly; "you have not the courage to justify it.  I will
not have it so.

"I will tell the truth to all the world.  I will not shrink I shrank
yesterday because I was afraid of the world; to-day I will face it, I
will--"

She stopped suddenly, and another look flashed into her face.  Presently
she spoke in a different tone; a new light had come upon her mind.  "But
I see," she added.  "To tell all is to make you the victim, too, of what
he did.  It is in your hands; it is all in your hands; and I cannot speak
unless--unless you are ready also."

There was an unintended touch of scorn in her voice.  She had been
troubled and tried beyond bearing, and her impulsive nature revolted at
his silence.  She misunderstood him, or, if she did not wholly
misunderstand him, she was angry at what she thought was a needless
remorse or sensitiveness.  Did not the man deserve his end?

"There is only one course to pursue," he rejoined quietly, "and that is
the course we entered upon last night.  I neither doubted yourself nor
your courage.  Thee must not turn back now.  Thee must not alter the
course which was your own making, and the only course which thee could,
or I should, take.  I have planned my life according to the word I gave
you.  I could not turn back now.  We are strangers, and we must remain
so.  Thee will go from here now, and we must not meet again.  I am--"

"I know who you are," she broke in.  "I know what your religion is; that
fighting and war and bloodshed is a sin to you."

"I am of no family or place in England," he went on calmly.  "I come of
yeoman and trading stock; I have nothing in common with people of rank.
Our lines of life will not cross.  It is well that it should be so.  As
to what happened--that which I may feel has nothing to do with whether I
was justified or no.  But if thee has thought that I have repented doing
what I did, let that pass for ever from your mind.  I know that I should
do the same, yes, even a hundred times.  I did according to my nature.
Thee must not now be punished cruelly for a thing thee did not do.
Silence is the only way of safety or of justice.  We must not speak of
this again.  We must each go our own way."

Her eyes were moist.  She reached out a hand to him timidly.  "Oh,
forgive me," she added brokenly, "I am so vain, so selfish, and that
makes one blind to the truth.  It is all clearer now.  You have shown me
that I was right in my first impulse, and that is all I can say for
myself.  I shall pray all my life that it will do you no harm in the
end."

She remained silent, for a moment adjusting her veil, preparing to go.
Presently she spoke again: "I shall always want to know about you--what
is happening to you.  How could it be otherwise?"

She was half realising one of the deepest things in existence, that the
closest bond between two human beings is a bond of secrecy upon a thing
which vitally, fatally concerns both or either.  It is a power at once
malevolent and beautiful.  A secret like that of David and Hylda will do
in a day what a score of years could not accomplish, will insinuate
confidences which might never be given to the nearest or dearest.  In
neither was any feeling of the heart begotten by their experiences; and
yet they had gone deeper in each other's lives than any one either had
known in a lifetime.  They had struck a deeper note than love or
friendship.  They had touched the chord of a secret and mutual experience
which had gone so far that their lives would be influenced by it for ever
after.  Each understood this in a different way.

Hylda looked towards the letter lying on the table.  It had raised in her
mind, not a doubt, but an undefined, undefinable anxiety.  He saw the
glance, and said: "I was writing to one who has been as a sister to me.
She was my mother's sister though she is almost as young as I.  Her name
is Faith.  There is nothing there of what concerns thee and me, though it
would make no difference if she knew."  Suddenly a thought seemed to
strike him.  "The secret is of thee and me.  There is safety.  If it
became another's, there might be peril.  The thing shall be between us
only, for ever?"

"Do you think that I--"

"My instinct tells me a woman of sensitive mind might one day, out of an
unmerciful honesty, tell her husband--"

"I am not married-"

"But one day--"

She interrupted him.  "Sentimental egotism will not rule me.  Tell me,"
she added, "tell me one thing before I go.  You said that your course was
set.  What is it?"

"I remain here," he answered quietly.  "I remain in the service of Prince
Kaid."

"It is a dreadful government, an awful service--" "That is why I stay."

"You are going to try and change things here--you alone?"

"I hope not alone, in time."

"You are going to leave England, your friends, your family, your place--
in Hamley, was it not?  My aunt has read of you--my cousin--" she paused.

"I had no place in Hamley.  Here is my place.  Distance has little to do
with understanding or affection.  I had an uncle here in the East for
twenty-five years, yet I knew him better than all others in the world.
Space is nothing if minds are in sympathy.  My uncle talked to me over
seas and lands.  I felt him, heard him speak."

"You think that minds can speak to minds, no matter what the distance--
real and definite things?"

"If I were parted from one very dear to me, I would try to say to him or
her what was in my mind, not by written word only, but by the flying
thought."

She sat down suddenly, as though overwhelmed.  "Oh, if that were
possible!" she said.  "If only one could send a thought like that!"
Then with an impulse, and the flicker of a sad smile, she reached out a
hand.  "If ever in the years to come you want to speak to me, will you
try to make me understand, as your uncle did with you?"

"I cannot tell," he answered.  "That which is deepest within us obeys
only the laws of its need.  By instinct it turns to where help lies,
as a wild deer, fleeing, from captivity, makes for the veldt and the
watercourse."

She got to her feet again.  "I want to pay my debt," she said solemnly.
"It is a debt that one day must be paid--so awful--so awful!"  A swift
change passed over her.  She shuddered, and grew white.  "I said brave
words just now," she added in a hoarse whisper, "but now I see him lying
there cold and still, and you stooping over him.  I see you touch his
breast, his pulse.  I see you close his eyes.  One instant full of the
pulse of life, the next struck out into infinite space.  Oh, I shall
never--how can I ever-forget!"  She turned her head away from him, then
composed herself again, and said quietly, with anxious eyes: "Why was
nothing said or done?  Perhaps they are only waiting.  Perhaps they know.
Why was it announced that he died in his bed at home?"

"I cannot tell.  When a man in high places dies in Egypt, it may be one
death or another.  No one inquires too closely.  He died in Kaid Pasha's
Palace, where other men have died, and none has inquired too closely.
To-day they told me at the Palace that his carriage was seen to leave
with himself and Mizraim the Chief Eunuch.  Whatever the object, he was
secretly taken to his house from the Palace, and his brother Nahoum
seized upon his estate in the early morning.

"I think that no one knows the truth.  But it is all in the hands of God.
We can do nothing more.  Thee must go.  Thee should not have come.  In
England thee will forget, as thee should forget.  In Egypt I shall
remember, as I should remember."

"Thee," she repeated softly.  "I love the Quaker thee.  My grandmother
was an American Quaker.  She always spoke like that.  Will you not use
thee and thou in speaking to me, always?"

"We are not likely to speak together in any language in the future," he
answered.  "But now thee must go, and I will--"

"My cousin, Mr. Lacey, is waiting for me in the garden," she answered.
"I shall be safe with him."  She moved towards the door.  He caught the
handle to turn it, when there came the noise of loud talking, and the
sound of footsteps in the court-yard.  He opened the door slightly and
looked out, then closed it quickly.  "It is Nahoum Pasha," he said.
"Please, the other room," he added, and pointed to a curtain.  "There is
a window leading on a garden.  The garden-gate opens on a street leading
to the Ezbekiah Square and your hotel."

"But, no, I shall stay here," she said.  She drew down her veil, then
taking from her pocket another, arranged it also, so that her face was
hidden.

"Thee must go," he said--"go quickly."  Again he pointed.

"I will remain," she rejoined, with determination, and seated herself in
a chair.




CHAPTER X

THE FOUR WHO KNEW

There was a knocking at the door.  David opened it.  Nahoum Pasha stepped
inside, and stood still a moment looking at Hylda.  Then he made low
salutation to her, touched his hand to his lips and breast saluting
David, and waited.

"What is thy business, pasha?" asked David quietly, and motioned towards
a chair.

"May thy path be on the high hills, Saadat-el-basha.  I come for a favour
at thy hands."  Nahoum sat down.  "What favour is mine to give to Nahoum
Pasha?"

"The Prince has given thee supreme place--it was mine but yesterday.  It
is well.  To the deserving be the fruits of deserving."

"Is merit, then, so truly rewarded here?" asked David quietly.

"The Prince saw merit at last when he chose your Excellency for
councillor."

"How shall I show merit, then, in the eyes of Nahoum Pasha?"

"Even by urging the Prince to give me place under him again.  Not as
heretofore--that is thy place--yet where it may be.  I have capacity.
I can aid thee in the great task.  Thou wouldst remake our Egypt--and my
heart is with you.  I would rescue, not destroy.  In years gone by I
tried to do good to this land, and I failed.  I was alone.  I had not the
strength to fight the forces around me.  I was overcome.  I had too
little faith.  But my heart was with the right--I am an Armenian and a
Christian of the ancient faith.  I am in sorrow.  Death has humbled me.
My brother Foorgat Bey--may flowers bloom for ever on his grave!--he is
dead,"--his eyes were fixed on those of David, as with a perfectly
assured candour--"and my heart is like an empty house.  But man must not
be idle and live--if Kaid lets me live.  I have riches.  Are not
Foorgat's riches mine, his Palace, his gardens, his cattle, and his
plantations, are they not mine?  I may sit in the court-yard and hear the
singers, may listen to the tale-tellers by the light of the moon; I may
hear the tales of Al-Raschid chanted by one whose tongue never falters,
and whose voice is like music; after the manner of the East I may give
bread and meat to the poor at sunset; I may call the dancers to the
feast.  But what comfort shall it give?  I am no longer a youth.  I would
work.  I would labour for the land of Egypt, for by work shall we fulfil
ourselves, redeem ourselves.  Saadat, I would labour, but my master has
taken away from me the anvil, the fire, and the hammer, and I sit without
the door like an armless beggar.  What work to do in Egypt save to help
the land, and how shall one help, save in the Prince's service?  There
can be no reform from outside.  If I laboured for better things outside
Kaid's Palace, how long dost thou think I should escape the Nile, or the
diamond-dust in my coffee?  The work which I did, is it not so that it,
with much more, falls now to thy hands, Saadat, with a confidence from
Kaid that never was mine?"

"I sought not the office."

"Have I a word of blame?  I come to ask for work to do with thee.  Do I
not know Prince Kaid?  He had come to distrust us all.  As stale water
were we in his taste.  He had no pleasure in us, and in our deeds he
found only stones of stumbling.  He knew not whom to trust.  One by one
we all had yielded to ceaseless intrigue and common distrust of each
other, until no honest man was left; till all were intent to save their
lives by holding power; for in this land to lose power is to lose life.
No man who has been in high place, has had the secrets of the Palace and
the ear of the Prince, lives after he has lost favour.  The Prince, for
his safety, must ensure silence, and the only silence in Egypt is the
grave.  In thee, Saadat, Kaid has found an honest man.  Men will call
thee mad, if thou remainest honest, but that is within thine own bosom
and with fate.  For me, thou hast taken my place, and more.  Malaish, it
is the decree of fate, and I have no anger.  I come to ask thee to save
my life, and then to give me work."

"How shall I save thy life?"

"By reconciling the Effendina to my living, and then by giving me
service, where I shall be near to thee; where I can share with thee,
though it be as the ant beside the beaver, the work of salvation in
Egypt.  I am rich since my brother was--"  He paused; no covert look was
in his eyes, no sign of knowledge, nothing but meditation and sorrowful
frankness--"since Foorgat passed away in peace, praise be to God!  He lay
on his bed in the morning, when one came to wake him, like a sleeping
child, no sign of the struggle of death upon him."

A gasping sound came from the chair where Hylda sat; but he took no
notice.  He appeared to be unconscious of David's pain-drawn face, as he
sat with hands upon his knees, his head bent forward listening, as though
lost to the world.

"So did Foorgat, my brother, die while yet in the fulness of his manhood,
life beating high in his veins, with years before him to waste.  He was a
pleasure-lover, alas! he laid up no treasure of work accomplished; and so
it was meet that he should die as he lived, in a moment of ease.  And
already he is forgotten.  It is the custom here.  He might have died by
diamond-dust, and men would have set down their coffee-cups in surprise,
and then would have forgotten; or he might have been struck down by the
hand of an assassin, and, unless it was in the Palace, none would have
paused to note it.  And so the sands sweep over his steps upon the shore
of time."

After the first exclamation of horror, Hylda had sat rigid, listening
as though under a spell.  Through her veil she gazed at Nahoum with a
cramping pain at her heart, for he seemed ever on the verge of the truth
she dreaded; and when he spoke the truth, as though unconsciously, she
felt she must cry out and rush from the room.  He recalled to her the
scene in the little tapestried room as vividly as though it was there
before her eyes, and it had for the moment all the effect of a hideous
nightmare.  At last, however, she met David's eyes, and they guided her,
for in them was a steady strength and force which gave her confidence.
At first he also had been overcome inwardly, but his nerves were cool,
his head was clear, and he listened to Nahoum, thinking out his course
meanwhile.

He owed this man much.  He had taken his place, and by so doing had
placed his life in danger.  He had killed the brother upon the same day
that he had dispossessed the favourite of office; and the debt was heavy.
In office Nahoum had done after his kind, after the custom of the place
and the people; and yet, as it would seem, the man had had stirrings
within him towards a higher path.  He, at any rate, had not amassed
riches out of his position, and so much could not be said of any other
servant of the Prince Pasha.  Much he had heard of Nahoum's powerful
will, hidden under a genial exterior, and behind his friendly, smiling
blue eyes.  He had heard also of cruelty--of banishment, and of enemies
removed from his path suddenly, never to be seen again; but, on the
whole, men spoke with more admiration of him than of any other public
servant, Armenian Christian in a Mahommedan country though he was.  That
very day Kaid had said that if Nahoum had been less eager to control the
State, he might still have held his place.  Besides, the man was a
Christian--of a mystic, half-legendary, obscure Christianity; yet having
in his mind the old faith, its essence and its meaning, perhaps.  Might
not this Oriental mind, with that faith, be a power to redeem the land?
It was a wonderful dream, in which he found the way, as he thought, to
atone somewhat to this man for a dark injury done.

When Nahoum stopped speaking David said: "But if I would have it, if it
were well that it should be, I doubt I have the power to make it so."

"Saadat-el-bdsha, Kaid believes in thee to-day; he will not believe
to-morrow if thou dost remain without initiative.  Action, however
startling, will be proof of fitness.  His Highness shakes a long spear.
Those who ride with him must do battle with the same valour.  Excellency,
I have now great riches--since Death smote Foorgat Bey in the forehead"
--still his eyes conveyed no meaning, though Hylda shrank back--"and I
would use them for the good thou wouldst do here.  Money will be needed,
and sufficient will not be at thy hand-not till new ledgers be opened,
new balances struck."

He turned to Hylda quietly, and with a continued air of innocence said:
"Shall it not be so-madame?  Thou, I doubt not, are of his kin.  It would
seem so, though I ask pardon if it be not so--wilt thou not urge his
Excellency to restore me to Kaid's favour?  I know little of the English,
though I know them humane and honest; but my brother, Foorgat Bey, he
was much among them, lived much in England, was a friend to many great
English.  Indeed, on the evening that he died I saw him in the gallery of
the banquet-room with an English lady--can one be mistaken in an English
face?  Perhaps he cared for her; perhaps that was why he smiled as he lay
upon his bed, never to move again.  Madame, perhaps in England thou mayst
have known my brother.  If that is so, I ask thee to speak for me to his
Excellency.  My life is in danger, and I am too young to go as my brother
went.  I do not wish to die in middle age, as my brother died."

He had gone too far.  In David's mind there was no suspicion that Nahoum
knew the truth.  The suggestion in his words had seemed natural; but,
from the first, a sharp suspicion was in the mind of Hylda, and his last
words had convinced her that if Nahoum did not surely know the truth, he
suspected it all too well.  Her instinct had pierced far; and as she
realised his suspicions, perhaps his certainty, and heard his words of
covert insult, which, as she saw, David did not appreciate, anger and
determination grew in her.  Yet she felt that caution must mark her
words, and that nothing but danger lay in resentment.  She felt the
everlasting indignity behind the quiet, youthful eyes, the determined
power of the man; but she saw also that, for the present, the course
Nahoum suggested was the only course to take.  And David must not even
feel the suspicion in her own mind, that Nahoum knew or suspected the
truth.  If David thought that Nahoum knew, the end of all would come at
once.  It was clear, however, that Nahoum meant to be silent, or he would
have taken another course of action.  Danger lay in every direction, but,
to her mind, the least danger lay in following Nahoum's wish.

She slowly raised her veil, showing a face very still now, with eyes as
steady as David's.  David started at her action, he thought it rash; but
the courage of it pleased him, too.

"You are not mistaken," she said slowly in French; "your brother was
known to me.  I had met him in England.  It will be a relief to all his
friends to know that he passed away peacefully."  She looked him in the
eyes determinedly.  "Monsieur Claridge is not my kinsman, but he is my
fellow-countryman.  If you mean well by monsieur, your knowledge and your
riches should help him on his way.  But your past is no guarantee of good
faith, as you will acknowledge."

He looked her in the eyes with a far meaning.  "But I am giving
guarantees of good faith now," he said softly.  "Will you--not?"

She understood.  It was clear that he meant peace, for the moment at
least.

"If I had influence I would advise him to reconcile you to Prince Kaid,"
she said quietly, then turned to David with an appeal in her eyes.

David stood up.  "I will do what I can," he said.  "If thee means as well
by Egypt as I mean by thee, all may be well for all."

"Saadat!  Saadat!" said Nahoum, with show of assumed feeling, and made
salutation.  Then to Hylda, making lower salutation still, he said: "Thou
hast lifted from my neck the yoke.  Thou hast saved me from the shadow
and the dust.  I am thy slave."  His eyes were like a child's, wide and
confiding.

He turned towards the door, and was about to open it, when there came a
knocking, and he stepped back.  Hylda drew down her veil.  David opened
the door cautiously and admitted Mizraim the Chief Eunuch.  Mizraim's
eyes searched the room, and found Nahoum.

"Pasha," he said to Nahoum, "may thy bones never return to dust, nor the
light of thine eyes darken!  There is danger."

Nahoum nodded, but did not speak.

"Shall I speak, then?"  He paused and made low salutation to David,
saying, "Excellency, I am thine ox to be slain."

"Speak, son of the flowering oak," said Nahoum, with a sneer in his
voice.  "What blessing dost thou bring?"

"The Effendina has sent for thee."

Nahoum's eyes flashed.  "By thee, lion of Abdin?"  The lean, ghastly
being smiled.  "He has sent a company of soldiers and Achmet Pasha."

"Achmet!  Is it so?  They are here, Mizraim, watcher of the morning?"

"They are at thy palace--I am here, light of Egypt."

"How knewest thou I was here?"

Mizraim salaamed.  "A watch was set upon thee this morning early.  The
watcher was of my slaves.  He brought the word to me that thou wast here
now.  A watcher also was set upon thee, Excellency"--he turned to David.
"He also was of my slaves.  Word was delivered to his Highness that thou"
--he turned to Nahoum again--"wast in thy palace, and Achmet Pasha
went thither.  He found thee not.  Now the city is full of watchers, and
Achmet goes from bazaar to bazaar, from house to house which thou was
wont to frequent--and thou art here."

"What wouldst thou have me do, Mizraim?"

"Thou art here; is it the house of a friend or a foe?"  Nahoum did not
answer.  His eyes were fixed in thought upon the floor, but he was
smiling.  He seemed without fear.

"But if this be the house of a friend, is he safe here?" asked David.

"For this night, it may be," answered Mizraim, "till other watchers be
set, who are no slaves of mine.  Tonight, here, of all places in Cairo,
he is safe; for who could look to find him where thou art who hast taken
from him his place and office, Excellency--on whom the stars shine for
ever!  But in another day, if my lord Nahoum be not forgiven by the
Effendina, a hundred watchers will pierce the darkest corner of the
bazaar, the smallest room in Cairo."

David turned to Nahoum.  "Peace be to thee, friend.  Abide here till
to-morrow, when I will speak for thee to his Highness, and, I trust,
bring thee pardon.  It shall be so--but I shall prevail," he added, with
slow decision; "I shall prevail with him.  My reasons shall convince his
Highness."

"I can help thee with great reasons, Saadat," said Nahoum.  "Thou shalt
prevail.  I can tell thee that which will convince Kaid."

While they were speaking, Hylda had sat motionless watching.  At first
it seemed to her that a trap had been set, and that David was to be the
victim of Oriental duplicity; but revolt, as she did, from the miserable
creature before them, she saw at last that he spoke the truth.

"Thee will remain under this roof to-night, pasha?" asked David.

"I will stay if thy goodness will have it so," answered Nahoum slowly.
"It is not my way to hide, but when the storm comes it is well to
shelter."

Salaaming low, Mizraim withdrew, his last glance being thrown towards
Hylda, who met his look with a repugnance which made her face rigid.  She
rose and put on her gloves.  Nahoum rose also, and stood watching her
respectfully.

"Thee will go?" asked David, with a movement towards her.

She inclined her head.  "We have finished our business, and it is late,"
she answered.

David looked at Nahoum.  "Thee will rest here, pasha, in peace.  In a
moment I will return."  He took up his hat.

There was a sudden flash of Nahoum's eyes, as though he saw an outcome of
the intention which pleased him, but Hylda, saw the flash, and her senses
were at once alarmed.

"There is no need to accompany me," she said.  "My cousin waits for me."

David opened the door leading into the court-yard.  It was dark, save for
the light of a brazier of coals.  A short distance away, near the outer
gate, glowed a star of red light, and the fragrance of a strong cigar
came over.

"Say, looking for me?" said a voice, and a figure moved towards David.
"Yours to command, pasha, yours to command."  Lacey from Chicago held out
his hand.

"Thee is welcome, friend," said David.

"She's ready, I suppose.  Wonderful person, that.  Stands on her own feet
every time.  She don't seem as though she came of the same stock as me,
does she?"

"I will bring her if thee will wait, friend."

"I'm waiting."  Lacey drew back to the gateway again and leaned against
the wall, his cigar blazing in the dusk.

A moment later David appeared in the garden again, with the slim,
graceful figure of the girl who stood "upon her own feet."  David drew
her aside for a moment.  "Thee is going at once to England?" he asked.

"To-morrow to Alexandria.  There is a steamer next day for Marseilles.
In a fortnight more I shall be in England."

"Thee must forget Egypt," he said.  "Remembrance is not a thing of the
will," she answered.

"It is thy duty to forget.  Thee is young, and it is spring with thee.
Spring should be in thy heart.  Thee has seen a shadow; but let it not
fright thee."

"My only fear is that I may forget," she answered.

"Yet thee will forget."

With a motion towards Lacey he moved to the gate.  Suddenly she turned to
him and touched his arm.  "You will be a great man herein Egypt," she
said.  "You will have enemies without number.  The worst of your enemies
always will be your guest to-night."

He did not, for a moment, understand.  "Nahoum?" he asked.  "I take his
place.  It would not be strange; but I will win him to me."

"You will never win him," she answered.  "Oh, trust my instinct in this!
Watch him.  Beware of him."  David smiled slightly.  "I shall have need
to beware of many.  I am sure thee does well to caution me.  Farewell,"
he added.

"If it should be that I can ever help you--" she said, and paused.

"Thee has helped me," he replied.  "The world is a desert.  Caravans from
all quarters of the sun meet at the cross-roads.  One gives the other
food or drink or medicine, and they move on again.  And all grows dim
with time.  And the camel-drivers are forgotten; but the cross-roads
remain, and the food and the drink and the medicine and the cattle helped
each caravan upon the way.  Is it not enough?"

She placed her hand in his.  It lay there for a moment.  "God be with
thee, friend," he said.

The next instant Thomas Tilman Lacey's drawling voice broke the silence.

"There's something catching about these nights in Egypt.  I suppose it's
the air.  No wind--just the stars, and the ultramarine, and the nothing
to do but lay me down and sleep.  It doesn't give you the jim-jumps like
Mexico.  It makes you forget the world, doesn't it?  You'd do things here
that you wouldn't do anywhere else."

The gate was opened by the bowab, and the two passed through.  David was
standing by the brazier, his hand held unconsciously over the coals, his
eyes turned towards them.  The reddish flame from the fire lit up his
face under the broad-brimmed hat.  His head, slightly bowed, was thrust
forward to the dusk.  Hylda looked at him steadily for a moment.  Their
eyes met, though hers were in the shade.  Again Lacey spoke.  "Don't be
anxious.  I'll see her safe back.  Good-bye.  Give my love to the girls."

David stood looking at the closed gate with eyes full of thought and
wonder and trouble.  He was not thinking of the girl.  There was no
sentimental reverie in his look.  Already his mind was engaged in
scrutiny of the circumstances in which he was set.  He realised fully his
situation.  The idealism which had been born with him had met its reward
in a labour herculean at the least, and the infinite drudgery of the
practical issues came in a terrible pressure of conviction to his mind.
The mind did not shrink from any thought of the dangers in which he would
be placed, from any vision of the struggle he must have with intrigue,
and treachery and vileness.  In a dim, half-realised way he felt that
honesty and truth would be invincible weapons with a people who did not
know them.  They would be embarrassed, if not baffled, by a formula of
life and conduct which they could not understand.

It was not these matters that vexed him now, but the underlying forces of
life set in motion by the blow which killed a fellow-man.  This fact had
driven him to an act of redemption unparalleled in its intensity and
scope; but he could not tell--and this was the thought that shook his
being--how far this act itself, inspiring him to a dangerous and immense
work in life, would sap the best that was in him, since it must remain a
secret crime, for which he could not openly atone.  He asked himself as
he stood by the brazier, the bowab apathetically rolling cigarettes at
his feet, whether, in the flow of circumstance, the fact that he could
not make open restitution, or take punishment for his unlawful act, would
undermine the structure of his character.  He was on the threshold of his
career: action had not yet begun; he was standing like a swimmer on a
high shore, looking into depths beneath which have never been plumbed by
mortal man, wondering what currents, what rocks, lay beneath the surface
of the blue.  Would his strength, his knowledge, his skill, be equal to
the enterprise?  Would he emerge safe and successful, or be carried away
by some strong undercurrent, be battered on unseen rocks?

He turned with a calm face to the door behind which sat the displaced
favourite of the Prince, his mind at rest, the trouble gone out of his
eyes.

"Uncle Benn!  Uncle Benn!" he said to himself, with a warmth at his
heart as he opened the door and stepped inside.

Nahoum sat sipping coffee.  A cigarette was between his fingers.  He
touched his hand to his forehead and his breast as David closed the door
and hung his hat upon a nail.  David's servant, Mahommed Hassan, whom he
had had since first he came to Egypt, was gliding from the room--a large,
square-shouldered fellow of over six feet, dressed in a plain blue yelek,
but on his head the green turban of one who had done a pilgrimage to
Mecca.  Nahoum waved a hand after Mahommed and said:

"Whence came thy servant sadat?"

"He was my guide to Cairo.  I picked him from the street."

Nahoum smiled.  There was no malice in the smile, only, as it might seem,
a frank humour.  "Ah, your Excellency used independent judgment.  Thou
art a judge of men.  But does it make any difference that the man is a
thief and a murderer--a murderer?"

David's eyes darkened, as they were wont to do when he was moved or
shocked.

"Shall one only deal, then, with those who have neither stolen nor slain
--is that the rule of the just in Egypt?"

Nahoum raised his eyes to the ceiling as though in amiable inquiry, and
began to finger a string of beads as a nun might tell her paternosters.
"If that were the rule," he answered, after a moment, "how should any man
be served in Egypt?  Hereabouts is a man's life held cheap, else I had
not been thy guest to-night; and Kaid's Palace itself would be empty, if
every man in it must be honest.  But it is the custom of the place for
political errors to be punished by a hidden hand; we do not call it
murder."

"What is murder, friend?"

"It is such a crime as that of Mahommed yonder, who killed--"

David interposed.  "I do not wish to know his crime.  That is no affair
between thee and me."

Nahoum fingered his beads meditatively.  "It was an affair of the
housetops in his town of Manfaloot.  I have only mentioned it because I
know what view the English take of killing, and how set thou art to have
thy household above reproach, as is meet in a Christian home.  So, I took
it, would be thy mind--which Heaven fill with light for Egypt's sake!--
that thou wouldst have none about thee who were not above reproach,
neither liars, nor thieves, nor murderers."

"But thee would serve with me, friend," rejoined David quietly.  "Thee
has men's lives against thy account."

"Else had mine been against their account."

"Was it not so with Mahommed?  If so, according to the custom of the
land, then Mahommed is as immune as thou art."

"Saadat, like thee I am a Christian, yet am I also Oriental, and what is
crime with one race is none with another.  At the Palace two days past
thou saidst thou hadst never killed a man; and I know that thy religion
condemns killing even in war.  Yet in Egypt thou wilt kill, or thou shalt
thyself be killed, and thy aims will come to naught.  When, as thou
wouldst say, thou hast sinned, hast taken a man's life, then thou wilt
understand.  Thou wilt keep this fellow Mahommed, then?"

"I understand, and I will keep him."

"Surely thy heart is large and thy mind great.  It moveth above small
things.  Thou dost not seek riches here?"

"I have enough; my wants are few."

"There is no precedent for one in office to withhold his hand from profit
and backsheesh."

"Shall we not try to make a precedent?"

"Truthfulness will be desolate--like a bird blown to sea, beating 'gainst
its doom."

"Truth will find an island in the sea."

"If Egypt is that sea, Saadat, there is no island."

David came over close to Nahoum, and looked him in the eyes.

"Surely I can speak to thee, friend, as to one understanding.  Thou art a
Christian--of the ancient fold.  Out of the East came the light.  Thy
Church has preserved the faith.  It is still like a lamp in the mist and
the cloud in the East.  Thou saidst but now that thy heart was with my
purpose.  Shall the truth that I would practise here not find an island
in this sea--and shall it not be the soul of Nahoum Pasha?"

"Have I not given my word?  Nay, then, I swear it by the tomb of my
brother, whom Death met in the highway, and because he loved the sun,
and the talk of men, and the ways of women, rashly smote him out of the
garden of life into the void.  Even by his tomb I swear it."

"Hast thou, then, such malice against Death?  These things cannot happen
save by the will of God."

"And by the hand of man.  But I have no cause for revenge.  Foorgat died
in his sleep like a child.  Yet if it had been the hand of man, Prince
Kaid or any other, I would not have held my hand until I had a life for
his."

"Thou art a Christian, yet thou wouldst meet one wrong by another?"

"I am an Oriental."  Then, with a sudden change of manner, he added:
"But thou hast a Christianity the like of which I have never seen.  I
will learn of thee, Saadat, and thou shalt learn of me also many things
which I know.  They will help thee to understand Egypt and the place
where thou wilt be set--if so be my life is saved, and by thy hand."

Mahommed entered, and came to David.  "Where wilt thou sleep, Saadat?"
he asked.

"The pasha will sleep yonder," David replied, pointing to another room.
"I will sleep here."  He laid a hand upon the couch where he sat.

Nahoum rose and, salaaming, followed Mahommed to the other room.

In a few moments the house was still, and remained so for hours.  Just
before dawn the curtain of Nahoum's room was drawn aside, the Armenian
entered stealthily, and moved a step towards the couch where David lay.
Suddenly he was stopped by a sound.  He glanced towards a corner near
David's feet.  There sat Mahommed watching, a neboot of dom-wood across
his knees.

Their eyes remained fixed upon each other for a moment.  Then Nahoum
passed back into his bedroom as stealthily as he had come.

Mahommed looked closely at David.  He lay with an arm thrown over his
head, resting softly, a moisture on his forehead as on that of a sleeping
child.

"Saadat!  Saadat!" said Mahommed softly to the sleeping figure, scarcely
above his breath, and then with his eyes upon the curtained room
opposite, began to whisper words from the Koran:

"In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful--"




CHAPTER XI

AGAINST THE HOUR OF MIDNIGHT

Achmet the Ropemaker was ill at ease.  He had been set a task in which
he had failed.  The bright Cairene sun starkly glittering on the French
chandeliers and Viennese mirrors, and beating on the brass trays and
braziers by the window, irritated him.  He watched the flies on the wall
abstractedly; he listened to the early peripatetic salesmen crying their
wares in the streets leading to the Palace; he stroked his cadaverous
cheek with yellow fingers; he listened anxiously for a footstep.
Presently he straightened himself up, and his fingers ran down the front
of his coat to make sure that it was buttoned from top to bottom.  He
grew a little paler.  He was less stoical and apathetic than most
Egyptians.  Also he was absurdly vain, and he knew that his vanity would
receive rough usage.

Now the door swung open, and a portly figure entered quickly.  For so
large a man Prince Kaid was light and subtle in his movements.  His face
was mobile, his eye keen and human.

Achmet salaamed low.  "The gardens of the First Heaven be thine, and the
uttermost joy, Effendina," he said elaborately.

"A thousand colours to the rainbow of thy happiness," answered Kaid
mechanically, and seated himself cross-legged on a divan, taking a
narghileh from the black slave who had glided ghostlike behind him.

"What hour didst thou find him?  Where hast thou placed him?" he added,
after a moment.

Achmet salaamed once more.  "I have burrowed without ceasing, but the
holes are empty, Effendina," he returned, abjectly and nervously.

He had need to be concerned.  The reply was full of amazement and anger.
"Thou hast not found him?  Thou hast not brought Nahoum to me?"  Kaid's
eyes were growing reddish; no good sign for those around him, for any
that crossed him or his purposes.

"A hundred eyes failed to search him out.  Ten thousand piastres did not
find him; the kourbash did not reveal him."

Kaid's frown grew heavier.  "Thou shalt bring Nahoum to me by midnight
to-morrow!"

"But if he has escaped, Effendina?" Achmet asked desperately.  He had a
peasant's blood; fear of power was ingrained.

"What was thy business but to prevent escape?  Son of a Nile crocodile,
if he has escaped, thou too shalt escape from Egypt--into Fazougli.
Fool, Nahoum is no coward.  He would remain.  He is in Egypt."

"If he be in Egypt, I will find him, Effendina.  Have I ever failed?
When thou hast pointed, have I not brought?  Have there not been many,
Effendina?  Should I not bring Nahoum, who has held over our heads the
rod?"

Kaid looked at him meditatively, and gave no answer to the question.
"He reached too far," he muttered.  "Egypt has one master only."

The door opened softly and the black slave stole in.  His lips moved, but
scarce a sound travelled across the room.  Kaid understood, and made a
gesture.  An instant afterwards the vast figure of Higli Pasha bulked
into the room.  Again there were elaborate salutations and salaams, and
Kaid presently said:

"Foorgat?"

"Effendina," answered High, "it is not known how he died.  He was in this
Palace alive at night.  In the morning he was found in bed at his own
home."

"There was no wound?"

"None, Effendina."

"The thong?"

"There was no mark, Effendina."

"Poison?"

"There was no sign, Effendina."

"Diamond-dust?"

"Impossible, Effendina.  There was not time.  He was alive and well here
at the Palace at eleven, and--" Kaid made an impatient gesture.  "By the
stone in the Kaabah, but it is not reasonable that Foorgat should die in
his bed like a babe and sleep himself into heaven!  Fate meant him for a
violent end; but ere that came there was work to do for me.  He had a
gift for scenting treason--and he had treasure."  His eyes shut and
opened again with a look not pleasant to see.  "But since it was that he
must die so soon, then the loan he promised must now be a gift from the
dead, if he be dead, if he be not shamming.  Foorgat was a dire jester."

"But now it is no jest, Effendina.  He is in his grave."

"In his grave!  Bismillah!  In his grave, dost thou say?"

High's voice quavered.  "Yesterday before sunset, Effendina.  By Nahoum's
orders."

"I ordered the burial for to-day.  By the gates of hell, but who shall
disobey me!"

"He was already buried when the Effendina's orders came," High pleaded
anxiously.

"Nahoum should have been taken yesterday," he rejoined, with malice in
his eyes.

"If I had received the orders of the Effendina on the night when the
Effendina dismissed Nahoum--" Achmet said softly, and broke off.

"A curse upon thine eyes that did not see thy duty!" Kaid replied
gloomily.  Then he turned to High.  "My seal has been put upon Foorgat's
doors?  His treasure-places have been found?  The courts have been
commanded as to his estate, the banks--"

"It was too late, Effendina," replied High hopelessly.  Kaid got to his
feet slowly, rage possessing him.  "Too late!  Who makes it too late when
I command?"

"When Foorgat was found dead, Nahoum at once seized the palace and the
treasures.  Then he went to the courts and to the holy men, and claimed
succession.  That was while it was yet early morning.  Then he instructed
the banks.  The banks hold Foorgat's fortune against us, Effendina."

"Foorgat had turned Mahommedan.  Nahoum is a Christian.  My will is law.
Shall a Christian dog inherit from a true believer?  The courts, the
Wakfs shall obey me.  And thou, son of a burnt father, shalt find Nahoum!
Kaid shall not be cheated.  Foorgat pledged the loan.  It is mine.  Allah
scorch thine eyes!" he added fiercely to Achmet, "but thou shalt find
this Christian gentleman, Nahoum."

Suddenly, with a motion of disgust, he sat down, and taking the stem of
the narghileh, puffed vigorously in silence.  Presently in a red fury he
cried: "Go--go--go, and bring me back by midnight Nahoum, and Foorgat's
treasures, to the last piastre.  Let every soldier be a spy, if thine own
spies fail."

As they turned to go, the door opened again, the black slave appeared,
and ushered David into the room.  David salaamed, but not low, and stood
still.

On the instant Kaid changed,  The rage left his face.  He leaned forward
eagerly, the cruel and ugly look faded slowly from his eyes.

"May thy days of life be as a river with sands of gold, effendi," he said
gently.  He had a voice like music.  "May the sun shine in thy heart and
fruits of wisdom flourish there, Effendina," answered David quietly.  He
saluted the others gravely, and his eyes rested upon Achmet in a way
which Higli Pasha noted for subsequent gossip.

Kaid pulled at his narghileh for a moment, mumbling good-humouredly to
himself and watching the smoke reel away; then, with half-shut eyes, he
said to David: "Am I master in Egypt or no, effendi?"

"In ruling this people the Prince of Egypt stands alone," answered David.
"There is no one between him and the people.  There is no Parliament."

"It is in my hand, then, to give or to withhold, to make or to break?"
Kaid chuckled to have this tribute, as he thought, from a Christian, who
did not blink at Oriental facts, and was honest.

David bowed his head to Kaid's words.

"Then if it be my hand that lifts up or casts down, that rewards or that
punishes, shall my arm not stretch into the darkest corner of Egypt to
bring forth a traitor?  Shall it not be so?"

"It belongs to thy power," answered David.  "It is the ancient custom of
princes here.  Custom is law, while it is yet the custom."

Kaid looked at him enigmatically for a moment, then smiled grimly--he
saw the course of the lance which David had thrown.  He bent his look
fiercely on Achmet and Higli.  "Ye have heard.  Truth is on his lips.
I have stretched out my arm.  Ye are my arm, to reach for and gather in
Nahoum and all that is his."  He turned quickly to David again.  "I have
given this hawk, Achmet, till to-morrow night to bring Nahoum to me," he
explained.

"And if he fails--a penalty?  He will lose his place?" asked David, with
cold humour.

"More than his place," Kaid rejoined, with a cruel smile.

"Then is his place mine, Effendina," rejoined David, with a look which
could give Achmet no comfort.  "Thou will bring Nahoum--thou?" asked
Kaid, in amazement.

"I have brought him," answered David.  "Is it not my duty to know the
will of the Effendina and to do it, when it is just and right?"

"Where is he--where does he wait?" questioned Kaid eagerly.

"Within the Palace--here," replied David.  "He awaits his fate in thine
own dwelling, Effendina."  Kaid glowered upon Achmet.  "In the years
which Time, the Scytheman, will cut from thy life, think, as thou fastest
at Ramadan or feastest at Beiram, how Kaid filled thy plate when thou
wast a beggar, and made thee from a dog of a fellah into a pasha.  Go to
thy dwelling, and come here no more," he added sharply.  "I am sick of
thy yellow, sinful face."

Achmet made no reply, but, as he passed beyond the door with Higli, he
said in a whisper: "Come--to Harrik and the army!  He shall be deposed.
The hour is at hand."  High answered him faintly, however.  He had not
the courage of the true conspirator, traitor though he was.

As they disappeared, Kaid made a wide gesture of friendliness to David,
and motioned to a seat, then to a narghileh.  David seated himself, took
the stem of a narghileh in his mouth for an instant, then laid it down
again and waited.

"Nahoum--I do not understand," Kaid said presently, his eyes gloating.

"He comes of his own will, Effendina."

"Wherefore?"  Kaid could not realise the truth.  This truth was not
Oriental on the face of it.  "Effendina, he comes to place his life in
thy hands.  He would speak with thee."

"How is it thou dost bring him?"

"He sought me to plead for him with thee, and because I knew his peril,
I kept him with me and brought him hither but now."

"Nahoum went to thee?"  Kaid's eyes peered abstractedly into the distance
between the almost shut lids.  That Nahoum should seek David, who had
displaced him from his high office, was scarcely Oriental, when his every
cue was to have revenge on his rival.  This was a natural sequence to his
downfall.  It was understandable.  But here was David safe and sound.
Was it, then, some deeper scheme of future vengeance?  The Oriental
instinctively pierced the mind of the Oriental.  He could have realised
fully the fierce, blinding passion for revenge which had almost overcome
Nahoum's calculating mind in the dark night, with his foe in the next
room, which had driven him suddenly from his bed to fall upon David, only
to find Mahommed Hassan watching--also with the instinct of the Oriental.

Some future scheme of revenge?  Kaid's eyes gleamed red.  There would be
no future for Nahoum.  "Why did Nahoum go to thee?" he asked again
presently.

"That I might beg his life of thee, Highness, as I said," David replied.

"I have not ordered his death."

David looked meditatively at him.  "It was agreed between us yesterday
that I should speak plainly--is it not so?"

Kaid nodded, and leaned back among the cushions.

"If what the Effendina intends is fulfilled, there is no other way but
death for Nahoum," added David.  "What is my intention, effendi?"

"To confiscate the fortune left by Foorgat Bey.  Is it not so?"

"I had a pledge from Foorgat--a loan."

"That is the merit of the case, Effendina.  I am otherwise concerned.
There is the law.  Nahoum inherits.  Shouldst thou send him to Fazougli,
he would still inherit."

"He is a traitor."

"Highness, where is the proof?"

"I know.  My friends have disappeared one by one--Nahoum.  Lands have
been alienated from me--Nahoum.  My income has declined--Nahoum.  I have
given orders and they have not been fulfilled--Nahoum.  Always, always
some rumour of assassination, or of conspiracy, or the influence and
secret agents of the Sultan--all Nahoum.  He is a traitor.  He has grown
rich while I borrow from Europe to pay my army and to meet the demands of
the Sultan."

"What man can offer evidence in this save the Effendina who would profit
by his death?"

"I speak of what I know.  I satisfy myself.  It is enough."

"Highness, there is a better way; to satisfy the people, for whom thee
lives.  None should stand between.  Is not the Effendina a father to
them?"

"The people!  Would they not say Nahoum had got his due if he were
blotted from their sight?"

"None has been so generous to the poor, so it is said by all.  His hand
has been upon the rich only.  Now, Effendina, he has brought hither the
full amount of all he has received and acquired in thy service.  He would
offer it in tribute."

Kaid smiled sardonically.  "It is a thin jest.  When a traitor dies the
State confiscates his goods!"

"Thee calls him traitor.  Does thee believe he has ever conspired against
thy life?"

Kaid shrugged his shoulders.

"Let me answer for thee, Effendina.  Again and again he has defeated
conspiracy.  He has blotted it out--by the sword and other means.  He has
been a faithful servant to his Prince at least.  If he has done after the
manner of all others in power here, the fault is in the system, not in
the man alone.  He has been a friend to thee, Kaid."

"I hope to find in thee a better."

"Why should he not live?"

"Thou hast taken his place."

"Is it, then, the custom to destroy those who have served thee, when they
cease to serve?"  David rose to his feet quickly.  His face was shining
with a strange excitement.  It gave him a look of exaltation, his lips
quivered with indignation.  "Does thee kill because there is silence in
the grave?"

Kaid blew a cloud of smoke slowly.  "Silence in the grave is a fact
beyond dispute," he said cynically.

"Highness, thee changes servants not seldom," rejoined David meaningly.
"It may be that my service will be short.  When I go, will the long arm
reach out for me in the burrows where I shall hide?"

Kaid looked at him with ill-concealed admiration.  "Thou art an
Englishman, not an Egyptian, a guest, not a subject, and under no law
save my friendship."  Then he added scornfully: "When an Englishman in
England leaves office, no matter how unfaithful, though he be a friend of
any country save his own, they send him to the House of Lords--or so I
was told in France when I was there.  What does it matter to thee what
chances to Nahoum?  Thou hast his place with me.  My secrets are thine.
They shall all be thine--for years I have sought an honest man.  Thou art
safe whether to go or to stay."

"It may be so.  I heed it not.  My life is as that of a gull--if the wind
carry it out to sea, it is lost.  As my uncle went I shall go one day.
Thee will never do me ill; but do I not know that I shall have foes at
every corner, behind every mooshrabieh screen, on every mastaba, in the
pasha's court-yard, by every mosque?  Do I not know in what peril I serve
Egypt?"

"Yet thou wouldst keep alive Nahoum!  He will dig thy grave deep, and
wait long."

"He will work with me for Egypt, Effendina."  Kaid's face darkened.

"What is thy meaning?"

"I ask Nahoum's life that he may serve under me, to do those things thou
and I planned yesterday--the land, taxation, the army, agriculture, the
Soudan.  Together we will make Egypt better and greater and richer--the
poor richer, even though the rich be poorer."

"And Kaid--poorer?"

"When Egypt is richer, the Prince is richer, too.  Is not the Prince
Egypt?  Highness, yesterday--yesterday thee gave me my commission.  If
thee will not take Nahoum again into service to aid me, I must not
remain.  I cannot work alone."

"Thou must have this Christian Oriental to work with thee?"  He looked at
David closely, then smiled sardonically, but with friendliness to David
in his eyes.  "Nahoum has prayed to work with thee, to be a slave where
he was master?  He says to thee that he would lay his heart upon the
altar of Egypt?"  Mordant, questioning humour was in his voice.

David inclined his head.

"He would give up all that is his?"

"It is so, Effendina."

"All save Foorgat's heritage?"

"It belonged to their father.  It is a due inheritance."

Kaid laughed sarcastically.  "It was got in Mehemet Ali's service."

"Nathless, it is a heritage, Effendina.  He would give that fortune back
again to Egypt in work with me, as I shall give of what is mine, and of
what I am, in the name of God, the all-merciful!"

The smile faded out of Kaid's face, and wonder settled on it.  What
manner of man was this?  His life, his fortune for Egypt, a country alien
to him, which he had never seen till six months ago!  What kind of being
was behind the dark, fiery eyes and the pale, impassioned face?  Was he
some new prophet?  If so, why should he not have cast a spell upon
Nahoum?  Had he not bewitched himself, Kaid, one of the ablest princes
since Alexander or Amenhotep?  Had Nahoum, then, been mastered and won?
Was ever such power?  In how many ways had it not been shown!  He had
fought for his uncle's fortune, and had got it at last yesterday without
a penny of backsheesh.  Having got his will, he was now ready to give
that same fortune to the good of Egypt--but not to beys and pashas and
eunuchs (and that he should have escaped Mizraim was the marvel beyond
all others!), or even to the Prince Pasha; but to that which would make
"Egypt better and greater and richer--the poor richer, even though the
rich be poorer!"  Kaid chuckled to himself at that.  To make the rich
poorer would suit him well, so long as he remained rich.  And, if riches
could be got, as this pale Frank proposed, by less extortion from the
fellah and less kourbash, so much the happier for all.

He was capable of patriotism, and this Quaker dreamer had stirred it in
him a little.  Egypt, industrial in a real sense; Egypt, paying her own
way without tyranny and loans: Egypt, without corvee, and with an army
hired from a full public purse; Egypt, grown strong and able to resist
the suzerainty and cruel tribute--that touched his native goodness of
heart, so long, in disguise; it appealed to the sense of leadership in
him; to the love of the soil deep in his bones; to regard for the common
people--for was not his mother a slave?  Some distant nobleness trembled
in him, while yet the arid humour of the situation flashed into his eyes,
and, getting to his feet, he said to David: "Where is Nahoum?"

David told him, and he clapped his hands.  The black slave entered,
received an order, and disappeared.  Neither spoke, but Kaid's face was
full of cheerfulness.

Presently Nahoum entered and salaamed low, then put his hand upon his
turban.  There was submission, but no cringing or servility in his
manner.  His blue eyes looked fearlessly before him.  His face was not
paler than its wont.  He waited for Kaid to speak.

"Peace be to thee," Kaid murmured mechanically.

"And to thee, peace, O Prince," answered Nahoum.  "May the feet of Time
linger by thee, and Death pass thy house forgetful."

There was silence for a moment, and then Kaid spoke again.  "What are thy
properties and treasure?" he asked sternly.

Nahoum drew forth a paper from his sleeve, and handed it to Kaid without
a word.  Kaid glanced at it hurriedly, then said: "This is but nothing.
What hast thou hidden from me?"

"It is all I have got in thy service, Highness," he answered boldly.
"All else I have given to the poor; also to spies--and to the army."

"To spies--and to the army?" asked Kaid slowly, incredulously.

"Wilt thou come with me to the window, Effendina?"  Kaid, wondering, went
to the great windows which looked on to the Palace square.  There, drawn
up, were a thousand mounted men as black as ebony, wearing shining white
metal helmets and fine chain-armour and swords and lances like medieval
crusaders.  The horses, too, were black, and the mass made a barbaric
display belonging more to another period in the world's history.  This
regiment of Nubians Kaid had recruited from the far south, and had
maintained at his own expense.  When they saw him at the window now,
their swords clashed on their thighs and across their breasts, and they
raised a great shout of greeting.

"Well?" asked Kaid, with a ring to the voice.  "They are loyal,
Effendina, every man.  But the army otherwise is honeycombed with
treason.  Effendina, my money has been busy in the army paying and
bribing officers, and my spies were costly.  There has been sedition--
conspiracy; but until I could get the full proofs I waited; I could but
bribe and wait.  Were it not for the money I had spent, there might have
been another Prince of Egypt."

Kald's face darkened.  He was startled, too.  He had been taken unawares.
"My brother Harrik--!"

"And I should have lost my place, lost all for which I cared.  I had no
love for money; it was but a means.  I spent it for the State--for the
Effendina, and to keep my place.  I lost my place, however, in another
way."

"Proofs!  Proofs!"  Kaid's voice was hoarse with feeling.

"I have no proofs against Prince Harrik, no word upon paper.  But there
are proofs that the army is seditious, that, at any moment, it may
revolt."

"Thou hast kept this secret?" questioned Kaid darkly and suspiciously.

"The time had not come.  Read, Effendina," he added, handing some papers
over.

"But it is the whole army!" said Kaid aghast, as he read.  He was
convinced.

"There is only one guilty," returned Nahoum.  Their eyes met.  Oriental
fatalism met inveterate Oriental distrust and then instinctively Kaid's
eyes turned to David.  In the eyes of the Inglesi was a different thing.
The test of the new relationship had come.  Ferocity was in his heart, a
vitriolic note was in his voice as he said to David, "If this be true--
the army rotten, the officers disloyal, treachery under every tunic--
bismillah, speak!"

"Shall it not be one thing at a time, Effendina?" asked David.  He made
a gesture towards Nahoum.  Kaid motioned to a door.  "Wait yonder," he
said darkly to Nahoum.  As the door opened, and Nahoum disappeared
leisurely and composedly, David caught a glimpse of a guard of armed
Nubians in leopard-skins filed against the white wall of the other room.

"What is thy intention towards Nahoum, Effendina?" David asked
presently.

Kaid's voice was impatient.  "Thou hast asked his life--take it; it is
thine; but if I find him within these walls again until I give him leave,
he shall go as Foorgat went."

"What was the manner of Foorgat's going?" asked David quietly.

"As a wind blows through a court-yard, and the lamp goes out, so he went
--in the night.  Who can say?  Wherefore speculate?  He is gone.  It is
enough.  Were it not for thee, Egypt should see Nahoum no more."

David sighed, and his eyes closed for an instant.  "Effendina, Nahoum has
proved his faith--is it not so?"  He pointed to the documents in Kaid's
hands.

A grim smile passed over Kaid's face.  Distrust of humanity, incredulity,
cold cynicism, were in it.  "Wheels within wheels, proofs within proofs,"
he said.  "Thou hast yet to learn the Eastern heart.  When thou seest
white in the East, call it black, for in an instant it will be black.
Malaish, it is the East!  Have I not trusted--did I not mean well by all?
Did I not deal justly?  Yet my justice was but darkness of purpose, the
hidden terror to them all.  So did I become what thou findest me and dost
believe me--a tyrant, in whose name a thousand do evil things of which I
neither hear nor know.  Proof!  When a woman lies in your arms, it is not
the moment to prove her fidelity.  Nahoum has crawled back to my feet
with these things, and by the beard of the Prophet they are true!"  He
looked at the papers with loathing.  "But what his purpose was when he
spied upon and bribed my army I know not.  Yet, it shall be said, he has
held Harrik back--Harrik, my brother.  Son of Sheitan and slime of the
Nile, have I not spared Harrik all these years!"

"Hast thou proof, Effendina?"

"I have proof enough; I shall have more soon.  To save their lives,
these, these will tell.  I have their names here."  He tapped the papers.
"There are ways to make them tell.  Now, speak, effendi, and tell me what
I shall do to Harrik."

"Wouldst thou proclaim to Egypt, to the Sultan, to the world that the
army is disloyal?  If these guilty men are seized, can the army be
trusted?  Will it not break away in fear?  Yonder Nubians are not enough
--a handful lost in the melee.  Prove the guilt of him who perverted the
army and sought to destroy thee.  Punish him."

"How shall there be proof save through those whom he has perverted?
There is no writing."

"There is proof," answered David calmly.

"Where shall I find it?"  Kaid laughed contemptuously.

"I have the proof," answered David gravely.  "Against Harrik?"

"Against Prince Harrik Pasha."

"Thou--what dost thou know?"

"A woman of the Prince heard him give instructions for thy disposal,
Effendina, when the Citadel should turns its guns upon Cairo and the
Palace.  She was once of thy harem.  Thou didst give her in marriage,
and she came to the harem of Prince Harrik at last.  A woman from without
who sang to her--a singing girl, an al'mah--she trusted with the paper to
warn thee, Effendina, in her name.  Her heart had remembrance of thee.
Her foster-brother Mahommed Hassan is my servant.  Him she told, and
Mahommed laid the matter before me this morning.  Here is a sign by which
thee will remember her, so she said.  Zaida she was called here."  He
handed over an amulet which had one red gem in the centre.

Kaid's face had set into fierce resolution, but as he took the amulet his
eyes softened.

"Zaida.  Inshallah!  Zaida, she was called.  She has the truth almost of
the English.  She could not lie ever.  My heart smote me concerning her,
and I gave her in marriage."  Then his face darkened again, and his teeth
showed in malice.  A demon was roused in him.  He might long ago have
banished the handsome and insinuating Harrik, but he had allowed him
wealth and safety--and now .  .  .

His intention was unmistakable.

"He shall die the death," he said.  "Is it not so?" he added fiercely to
David, and gazed at him fixedly.  Would this man of peace plead for the
traitor, the would-be fratricide?

"He is a traitor; he must die," answered David slowly.

Kald's eyes showed burning satisfaction.  "If he were thy brother, thou
wouldst kill him?"

"I would give a traitor to death for the country's sake.  There is no
other way."

"To-night he shall die."

"But with due trial, Effendina?"

"Trial--is not the proof sufficient?"

"But if he confess, and give evidence himself, and so offer himself to
die?"

"Is Harrik a fool?" answered Kaid, with scorn.

If there be a trial and sentence is given, the truth concerning the army
must appear.  Is that well?  Egypt will shake to its foundations--to the
joy of its enemies."

"Then he shall die secretly."

"The Prince Pasha of Egypt will be called a murderer."

Kaid shrugged his shoulders.

"The Sultan--Europe--is it well?"

"I will tell the truth," Kaid rejoined angrily.

"If the Effendina will trust me, Prince Harrik shall confess his crime
and pay the penalty also."

"What is thy purpose?"

"I will go to his palace and speak with him."

"Seize him?"

"I have no power to seize him, Effendina."

"I will give it.  My Nubians shall go also."

"Effendina, I will go alone.  It is the only way.  There is great danger
to the throne.  Who can tell what a night will bring forth?"

"If Harrik should escape--"

"If I were an Egyptian and permitted Harrik to escape, my life would pay
for my failure.  If I failed, thou wouldst not succeed.  If I am to serve
Egypt, there must be trust in me from thee, or it were better to pause
now.  If I go, as I shall go, alone, I put my life in danger--is it not
so?"

Suddenly Kaid sat down again among his cushions.  "Inshallah!  In the
name of God, be it so.  Thou art not as other men.  There is something in
thee above my thinking.  But I will not sleep till I see thee again."

"I shall see thee at midnight, Effendina.  Give me the ring from thy
finger."

Kaid passed it over, and David put it in his pocket.  Then he turned to
go.

"Nahoum?" he asked.

"Take him hence.  Let him serve thee if it be thy will.  Yet I cannot
understand it.  The play is dark.  Is he not an Oriental?"

"He is a Christian."

Kaid laughed sourly, and clapped his hands for the slave.

In a moment David and Nahoum were gone.  "Nahoum, a Christian!
Bismillah!" murmured Kaid scornfully, then fell to pondering darkly over
the evil things he had heard.

Meanwhile the Nubians in their glittering armour waited without in the
blistering square.




CHAPTER XII

THE JEHAD AND THE LIONS

"Allah hu Achbar!  Allah hu Achbar!  Ashhadu an la illaha illalla!"  The
sweetly piercing, resonant voice of the Muezzin rang far and commandingly
on the clear evening air, and from bazaar and crowded street the faithful
silently hurried to the mosques, leaving their slippers at the door,
while others knelt where the call found them, and touched their foreheads
to the ground.

In his palace by the Nile, Harrik, the half-brother of the Prince Pasha,
heard it, and breaking off from conversation with two urgent visitors,
passed to an alcove near, dropping a curtain behind him.  Kneeling
reverently on the solitary furniture of the room--a prayer-rug from
Medina--he lost himself as completely in his devotions as though his life
were an even current of unforbidden acts and motives.

Cross-legged on the great divan of the room he had left, his less pious
visitors, unable to turn their thoughts from the dark business on which
they had come, smoked their cigarettes, talking to each other in tones so
low as would not have been heard by a European, and with apparent
listlessness.

Their manner would not have indicated that they were weighing matters of
life and death, of treason and infamy, of massacre and national shame.
Only the sombre, smouldering fire of their eyes was evidence of the
lighted fuse of conspiracy burning towards the magazine.  One look of
surprise had been exchanged when Harrik Pasha left them suddenly--time
was short for what they meant to do; but they were Muslims, and they
resigned themselves.

"The Inglesi must be the first to go; shall a Christian dog rule over
us?"

It was Achmet the Ropemaker who spoke, his yellow face wrinkling with
malice, though his voice but murmured hoarsely.

"Nahoum will kill him."  Higli Pasha laughed low--it was like the gurgle
of water in the narghileh--a voice of good nature and persuasiveness from
a heart that knew no virtue.  "Bismillah!  Who shall read the meaning of
it?  Why has he not already killed?"

"Nahoum would choose his own time--after he has saved his life by the
white carrion.  Kaid will give him his life if the Inglesi asks.  The
Inglesi, he is mad.  If he were not mad, he would see to it that Nahoum
was now drying his bones in the sands."

"What each has failed to do for the other shall be done for them,"
answered Achmet, a hateful leer on his immobile features.  "To-night many
things shall be made right.  To-morrow there will be places empty and
places filled.  Egypt shall begin again to-morrow."

"Kaid?"

Achmet stopped smoking for a moment.  "When the khamsin comes, when the
camels stampede, and the children of the storm fall upon the caravan, can
it be foretold in what way Fate shall do her work?  So but the end be the
same--malaish!  We shall be content tomorrow."

Now he turned and looked at his companion as though his mind had chanced
on a discovery.  "To him who first brings word to a prince who inherits,
that the reigning prince is dead, belong honour and place," he said.

"Then shall it be between us twain," said High, and laid his hot palm
against the cold, snaky palm of the other.  "And he to whom the honour
falls shall help the other."

"Aiwa, but it shall be so," answered Achmet, and then they spoke in lower
tones still, their eyes on the curtain behind which Harrik prayed.

Presently Harrik entered, impassive, yet alert, his slight, handsome
figure in sharp contrast to the men lounging in the cushions before him,
who salaamed as he came forward.  The features were finely chiselled, the
forehead white and high, the lips sensuous, the eyes fanatical, the look
concentrated yet abstracted.  He took a seat among the cushions, and,
after a moment, said to Achmet, in a voice abnormally deep and powerful:
"Diaz--there is no doubt of Diaz?"

"He awaits the signal.  The hawk flies not swifter than Diaz will act."

"The people--the bazaars--the markets?"

"As the air stirs a moment before the hurricane comes, so the whisper has
stirred them.  From one lip to another, from one street to another, from
one quarter to another, the word has been passed--'Nahoum was a
Christian, but Nahoum was an Egyptian whose heart was Muslim.  The
stranger is a Christian and an Inglesi.  Reason has fled from the Prince
Pasha, the Inglesi has bewitched him.  But the hour of deliverance
draweth nigh.  Be ready!  To-night!'  So has the whisper gone."

Harrik's eyes burned.  "God is great," he said.  "The time has come.  The
Christians spoil us.  From France, from England, from Austria--it is
enough.  Kaid has handed us over to the Greek usurers, the Inglesi and
the Frank are everywhere.  And now this new-comer who would rule Kaid,
and lay his hand upon Egypt like Joseph of old, and bring back Nahoum,
to the shame of every Muslim--behold, the spark is to the tinder, it
shall burn."

"And the hour, Effendina?"

"At midnight.  The guns to be trained on the Citadel, the Palace
surrounded.  Kaid's Nubians?"

"A hundred will be there, Effendina, the rest a mile away at their
barracks."  Achmet rubbed his cold palms together in satisfaction.

"And Prince Kaid, Effendina?" asked Higli cautiously.

The fanatical eyes turned away.  "The question is foolish--have ye no
brains?" he said impatiently.

A look of malignant triumph flashed from Achmet to High, and he said,
scarce above a whisper: "May thy footsteps be as the wings of the eagle,
Effendina.  The heart of the pomegranate is not redder than our hearts
are red for thee.  Cut deep into our hearts, and thou shalt find the last
beat is for thee--and for the Jehad!"

"The Jehad--ay, the Jehad!  The time is at hand," answered Harrik,
glowering at the two.  "The sword shall not be sheathed till we have
redeemed Egypt.  Go your ways, effendis, and peace be on you and on all
the righteous worshippers of God!"

As High and Achmet left the palace, the voice of a holy man--admitted
everywhere and treated with reverence--chanting the Koran, came
somnolently through the court-yard: "Bismillah hirrahmah, nirraheem.
Elhamdu lillahi sabbila!"

Rocking his body backwards and forwards and dwelling sonorously on each
vowel, the holy man seemed the incarnation of Muslim piety; but as the
two conspirators passed him with scarce a glance, and made their way to a
small gate leading into the great garden bordering on the Nile, his eyes
watched them sharply.  When they had passed through, he turned towards
the windows of the harem, still chanting.  For a long time he chanted.
An occasional servant came and went, but his voice ceased not, and he
kept his eyes fixed ever on the harem windows.

At last his watching had its reward.  Something fluttered from a window
to the ground.  Still chanting, he rose and began walking round the great
court-yard.  Twice he went round, still chanting, but the third time he
stooped to pick up a little strip of linen which had fallen from the
window, and concealed it in his sleeve.  Presently he seated himself
again, and, still chanting, spread out the linen in his palm and read the
characters upon it.  For an instant there was a jerkiness to the voice,
and then it droned on resonantly again.  Now the eyes of the holy man
were fixed on the great gates through which strangers entered, and he was
seated in the way which any one must take who came to the palace doors.

It was almost dark, when he saw the bowab, after repeated knocking,
sleepily and grudgingly open the gates to admit a visitor.  There seemed
to be a moment's hesitation on the bowab's part, but he was presently
assured by something the visitor showed him, and the latter made his way
deliberately to the palace doors.  As the visitor neared the holy man,
who chanted on monotonously, he was suddenly startled to hear between the
long-drawn syllables the quick words in Arabic:


"Beware, Saadat!  See, I am Mahommed Hassan, thy servant!  At midnight
they surround Kaid's palace--Achmet and Higli--and kill the Prince Pasha.
Return, Saadat.  Harrik will kill thee."

David made no sign, but with a swift word to the faithful Mahommed
Hassan, passed on, and was presently admitted to the palace.  As the
doors closed behind him, he would hear the voice of the holy man still
chanting: "Waladalleen--Ameen-Ameen!  Waladalleen--Ameen!"

The voice followed him, fainter and fainter, as he passed through the
great bare corridors with the thick carpets on which the footsteps made
no sound, until it came, soft and undefined, as it were from a great
distance.  Then suddenly there fell upon him a sense of the peril of his
enterprise.  He had been left alone in the vast dim hall while a slave,
made obsequious by the sight of the ring of the Prince Pasha, sought his
master.  As he waited he was conscious that people were moving about
behind the great screens of mooshrabieh which separated this room from
others, and that eyes were following his every motion.  He had gained
easy ingress to this place; but egress was a matter of some speculation.
The doors which had closed behind him might swing one way only!  He had
voluntarily put himself in the power of a man whose fatal secret he knew.
He only felt a moment's apprehension, however.  He had been moved to come
from a whisper in his soul; and he had the sure conviction of the
predestinarian that he was not to be the victim of "The Scytheman" before
his appointed time.  His mind resumed its composure, and he watchfully
waited the return of the slave.

Suddenly he was conscious of some one behind him, though he had heard no
one approach.  He swung round and was met by the passive face of the
black slave in personal attendance on Harrik.  The slave did not speak,
but motioned towards a screen at the end of the room, and moved towards
it.  David followed.  As they reached it, a broad panel opened, and they
passed through, between a line of black slaves.  Then there was a sudden
darkness, and a moment later David was ushered into a room blazing with
light.  Every inch of the walls was hung with red curtains.  No door was
visible.  He was conscious of this as the panel clicked behind him, and
the folds of the red velvet caught his shoulder in falling.  Now he saw
sitting on a divan on the opposite side of the room Prince Harrik.

David had never before seen him, and his imagination had fashioned a
different personality.  Here was a combination of intellect, refinement,
and savagery.  The red, sullen lips stamped the delicate, fanatical face
with cruelty and barbaric indulgence, while yet there was an intensity in
the eyes that showed the man was possessed of an idea which mastered him
--a root-thought.  David was at once conscious of a complex personality,
of a man in whom two natures fought.  He understood it.  By instinct
the man was a Mahdi, by heredity he was a voluptuary, that strange
commingling of the religious and the evil found in so many criminals.
In some far corner of his nature David felt something akin.  The
rebellion in his own blood against the fine instinct of his Quaker faith
and upbringing made him grasp the personality before him.  Had he himself
been born in these surroundings, under these influences!  The thought
flashed through his mind like lightning, even as he bowed before Harrik,
who salaamed and said: "Peace be unto thee!" and motioned him to a seat
on a divan near and facing him.

"What is thy business with me, effendi?" asked Harrik.

"I come on the business of the Prince Pasha," answered David.

Harrik touched his fez mechanically, then his breast and lips, and a
cruel smile lurked at the corners of his mouth as he rejoined:

"The feet of them who wear the ring of their Prince wait at no man's
door.  The carpet is spread for them.  They go and they come as the feet
of the doe in the desert.  Who shall say, They shall not come; who shall
say, They shall not return!"

Though the words were spoken with an air of ingenuous welcome, David felt
the malignity in the last phrase, and knew that now was come the most
fateful moment of his life.  In his inner being he heard the dreadful
challenge of Fate.  If he failed in his purpose with this man, he would
never begin his work in Egypt.  Of his life he did not think--his life
was his purpose, and the one was nothing without the other.  No other man
would have undertaken so Quixotic an enterprise, none would have exposed
himself so recklessly to the dreadful accidents of circumstance.  There
had been other ways to overcome this crisis, but he had rejected them for
a course fantastic and fatal when looked at in the light of ordinary
reason.  A struggle between the East and the West was here to be fought
out between two wills; between an intellectual libertine steeped in
Oriental guilt and cruelty and self-indulgence, and a being selfless,
human, and in an agony of remorse for a life lost by his hand.

Involuntarily David's eyes ran round the room before he replied.  How
many slaves and retainers waited behind those velvet curtains?

Harrik saw the glance and interpreted it correctly.  With a look of dark
triumph he clapped his hands.  As if by magic fifty black slaves
appeared, armed with daggers.  They folded their arms and waited like
statues.

David made no sign of discomposure, but said slowly: "Dost thou think I
did not know my danger, Eminence?  Do I seem to thee such a fool?  I came
alone as one would come to the tent of a Bedouin chief whose son one had
slain, and ask for food and safety.  A thousand men were mine to command,
but I came alone.  Is thy guest imbecile?  Let them go.  I have that to
say which is for Prince Harrik's ear alone."

An instant's hesitation, and Harrik motioned the slaves away.  "What is
the private word for my ear?" he asked presently, fingering the stem of
the narghileh.

"To do right by Egypt, the land of thy fathers and thy land; to do right
by the Prince Pasha, thy brother."

"What is Egypt to thee?  Why shouldst thou bring thine insolence here?
Couldst thou not preach in thine own bazaars beyond the sea?"

David showed no resentment.  His reply was composed and quiet.  "I am
come to save Egypt from the work of thy hands."

"Dog of an unbeliever, what hast thou to do with me, or the work of my
hands?"

David held up Kaid's ring, which had lain in his hand.  "I come from the
master of Egypt--master of thee, and of thy life, and of all that is
thine."

"What is Kaid's message to me?" Harrik asked, with an effort at
unconcern, for David's boldness had in it something chilling to his
fierce passion and pride.

"The word of the Effendina is to do right by Egypt, to give thyself to
justice and to peace."

"Have done with parables.  To do right by Egypt wherein, wherefore?"
The eyes glinted at David like bits of fiery steel.

"I will interpret to thee, Eminence."

"Interpret."  Harrik muttered to himself in rage.  His heart was dark,
he thirsted for the life of this arrogant Inglesi.  Did the fool not see
his end?  Midnight was at hand!  He smiled grimly.

"This is the interpretation, O Prince!  Prince Harrik has conspired
against his brother the Prince Pasha, has treacherously seduced officers
of the army, has planned to seize Cairo, to surround the Palace and take
the life of the Prince of Egypt.  For months, Prince, thee has done this:
and the end of it is that thee shall do right ere it be too late.  Thee
is a traitor to thy country and thy lawful lord."

Harrik's face turned pale; the stem of the narghileh shook in his
fingers.  All had been discovered, then!  But there was a thing of dark
magic here.  It was not a half-hour since he had given the word to strike
at midnight, to surround the Palace, and to seize the Prince Pasha.
Achmet--Higli, had betrayed him, then!  Who other?  No one else knew
save Zaida, and Zaida was in the harem.  Perhaps even now his own palace
was surrounded.  If it was so, then, come what might, this masterful
Inglesi should pay the price.  He thought of the den of lions hard by,
of the cage of tigers-the menagerie not a thousand feet away.  He could
hear the distant roaring now, and his eyes glittered.  The Christian to
the wild beasts!  That at least before the end.  A Muslim would win
heaven by sending a Christian to hell.

Achmet--Higli!  No others knew.  The light of a fateful fanaticism was in
his eyes.  David read him as an open book, and saw the madness come upon
him.

"Neither Higli, nor Achmet, nor any of thy fellow-conspirators has
betrayed thee," David said.  "God has other voices to whisper the truth
than those who share thy crimes.  I have ears, and the air is full of
voices."

Harrik stared at him.  Was this Inglesi, then, with the grey coat,
buttoned to the chin, and the broad black hat which remained on his head
unlike the custom of the English--was he one of those who saw visions and
dreamed dreams, even as himself!  Had he not heard last night a voice
whisper through the dark "Harrik, Harrik, flee to the desert!  The lions
are loosed upon thee!"  Had he not risen with the voice still in his ears
and fled to the harem, seeking Zaida, she who had never cringed before
him, whose beauty he had conquered, but whose face turned from him when
he would lay his lips on hers?  And, as he fled, had he not heard, as it
were, footsteps lightly following him--or were they going before him?
Finding Zaida, had he not told her of the voice, and had she not said:
"In the desert all men are safe--safe from themselves and safe from
others; from their own acts and from the acts of others"?  Were the
lions, then, loosed upon him?  Had he been betrayed?

Suddenly the thought flashed into his mind that his challenger would not
have thrust himself into danger, given himself to the mouth of the Pit,
if violence were intended.  There was that inside his robe, than which
lightning would not be more quick to slay.  Had he not been a hunter of
repute?  Had he not been in deadly peril with wild beasts, and was he not
quicker than they?  This man before him was like no other he had ever
met.  Did voices speak to him?  Were there, then, among the Christians
such holy men as among the Muslims, who saw things before they happened,
and read the human mind?  Were there sorcerers among them, as among the
Arabs?

In any case his treason was known.  What were to be the consequences?
Diamond-dust in his coffee?  To be dropped into the Nile like a dog?  To
be smothered in his sleep?--For who could be trusted among all his slaves
and retainers when it was known he was disgraced, and that the Prince
Pasha would be happier if Harrik were quiet for ever?

Mechanically he drew out his watch and looked at it.  It was nine
o'clock.  In three hours more would have fallen the coup.  But from this
man's words he knew that the stroke was now with the Prince Pasha.  Yet,
if this pale Inglesi, this Christian sorcerer, knew the truth in a vision
only, and had not declared it to Kaid, there might still be a chance of
escape.  The lions were near--it would be a joy to give a Christian to
the lions to celebrate the capture of Cairo and the throne.  He listened
intently to the distant rumble of the lions.  There was one cage
dedicated to vengeance.  Five human beings on whom his terrible anger
fell in times past had been thrust into it alive.  Two were slaves, one
was an enemy, one an invader of his harem, and one was a woman, his wife,
his favourite, the darling of his heart.  When his chief eunuch accused
her of a guilty love, he had given her paramour and herself to that awful
death.  A stroke of the vast paw, a smothered roar as the teeth gave into
the neck of the beautiful Fatima, and then--no more.  Fanaticism had
caught a note of savage music that tuned it to its height.

"Why art thou here?  For what hast thou come?  Do the spirit voices give
thee that counsel?" he snarled.

"I am come to ask Prince Harrik to repair the wrong he has done.  When
the Prince Pasha came to know of thy treason--"

Harrik started.  "Kaid believes thy tale of treason?" he burst out.

"Prince Kaid knows the truth," answered David quietly.  "He might have
surrounded this palace with his Nubians, and had thee shot against the
palace walls.  That would have meant a scandal in Egypt and in Europe.
I besought him otherwise.  It may be the scandal must come, but in
another way, and--"

"That I, Harrik, must die?"  Harrik's voice seemed far away.  In his own
ears it sounded strange and unusual.  All at once the world seemed to be
a vast vacuum in which his brain strove for air, and all his senses were
numbed and overpowered.  Distempered and vague, his soul seemed spinning
in an aching chaos.  It was being overpowered by vast elements, and life
and being were atrophied in a deadly smother.  The awful forces behind
visible being hung him in the middle space between consciousness and
dissolution.  He heard David's voice, at first dimly, then
understandingly.

"There is no other way.  Thou art a traitor.  Thou wouldst have been a
fratricide.  Thou wouldst have put back the clock in Egypt by a hundred
years, even to the days of the Mamelukes--a race of slaves and murderers.
God ordained that thy guilt should be known in time.  Prince, thou art
guilty.  It is now but a question how thou shalt pay the debt of
treason."

In David's calm voice was the ring of destiny.  It was dispassionate,
judicial; it had neither hatred nor pity.  It fell on Harrik's ear as
though from some far height.  Destiny, the controller--who could escape
it?

Had he not heard the voices in the night--"The lions are loosed upon
thee"?  He did not answer David now, but murmured to himself like one in
a dream.

David saw his mood, and pursued the startled mind into the pit of
confusion.  "If it become known to Europe that the army is disloyal,
that its officers are traitors like thee, what shall we find?  England,
France, Turkey, will land an army of occupation.  Who shall gainsay
Turkey if she chooses to bring an army here and recover control, remove
thy family from Egypt, and seize upon its lands and goods?  Dost thou not
see that the hand of God has been against thee?  He has spoken, and thy
evil is discovered."

He paused.  Still Harrik did not reply, but looked at him with dilated,
fascinated eyes.  Death had hypnotised him, and against death and destiny
who could struggle?  Had not a past Prince Pasha of Egypt safeguarded
himself from assassination all his life, and, in the end, had he not been
smothered in his sleep by slaves?

"There are two ways only," David continued--"to be tried and die publicly
for thy crimes, to the shame of Egypt, its present peril, and lasting
injury; or to send a message to those who conspired with thee, commanding
them to return to their allegiance, and another to the Prince Pasha,
acknowledging thy fault, and exonerating all others.  Else, how many of
thy dupes shall die!  Thy choice is not life or death, but how thou shalt
die, and what thou shalt do for Egypt as thou diest.  Thou didst love
Egypt, Eminence?"

David's voice dropped low, and his last words had a suggestion which went
like an arrow to the source of all Harrik's crimes, and that also which
redeemed him in a little.  It got into his inner being.  He roused
himself and spoke, but at first his speech was broken and smothered.

"Day by day I saw Egypt given over to the Christians," he said.  "The
Greek, the Italian, the Frenchman, the Englishman, everywhere they
reached out, their hands and took from us our own.  They defiled our
mosques; they corrupted our life; they ravaged our trade, they stole our
customers, they crowded us from the streets where once the faithful lived
alone.  Such as thou had the ear of the Prince, and such as Nahoum, also
an infidel, who favoured the infidels of Europe.  And now thou hast come,
the most dangerous of them all!  Day by day the Muslim has loosed his
hold on Cairo, and Alexandria, and the cities of Egypt.  Street upon
street knows him no more.  My heart burned within me.  I conspired for
Egypt's sake.  I would have made her Muslim once again.  I would have
fought the Turk and the Frank, as did Mehemet Ali; and if the infidels
came, I would have turned them back; or if they would not go, I would
have destroyed them here.  Such as thou should have been stayed at the
door.  In my own house I would have been master.  We seek not to take up
our abode in other nations and in the cities of the infidel.  Shall we
give place to them on our own mastaba, in our own court-yard--hand to
them the keys of our harems?  I would have raised the Jehad if they vexed
me with their envoys and their armies."  He paused, panting.

"It would not have availed," was David's quiet answer.  "This land may
not be as Tibet--a prison for its own people.  If the door opens outward,
then must it open inward also.  Egypt is the bridge between the East and
the West.  Upon it the peoples of all nations pass and repass.  Thy plan
was folly, thy hope madness, thy means to achieve horrible.  Thy dream is
done.  The army will not revolt, the Prince will not be slain.  Now only
remains what thou shalt do for Egypt--"

"And thou--thou wilt be left here to lay thy will upon Egypt.  Kaid's ear
will be in thy hand--thou hast the sorcerer's eye.  I know thy meaning.
Thou wouldst have me absolve all, even Achmet, and Higli, and Diaz, and
the rest, and at thy bidding go out into the desert"--he paused--"or into
the grave."

"Not into the desert," rejoined David firmly.  "Thou wouldst not rest.
There, in the desert, thou wouldst be a Mahdi.  Since thou must die, wilt
thou not order it after thine own choice?  It is to die for Egypt."

"Is this the will of Kaid?" asked Harrik, his voice thick with wonder,
his brain still dulled by the blow of Fate.

"It was not the Effendina's will, but it hath his assent.  Wilt thou
write the word to the army and also to the Prince?"

He had conquered.  There was a moment's hesitation, then Harrik picked up
paper and ink that lay near, and said: "I will write to Kaid.  I will
have naught to do with the army."

"It shall be the whole, not the part," answered David determinedly.  "The
truth is known.  It can serve no end to withhold the writing to the army.
Remember what I have said to thee.  The disloyalty of the army must not
be known.  Canst thou not act after the will of Allah, the all-powerful,
the all-just, the all-merciful?"

There was an instant's pause, and then suddenly Harrik placed the paper
in his palm and wrote swiftly and at some length to Kaid.  Laying it
down, he took another and wrote but a few words--to Achmet and Diaz.
This message said in brief, "Do not strike.  It is the will of Allah.
The army shall keep faithful until the day of the Mahdi be come.
I spoke before the time.  I go to the bosom of my Lord Mahomet."

He threw the papers on the floor before David, who picked them up, read
them, and put them into his pocket.

"It is well," he said.  "Egypt shall have peace.  And thou, Eminence?"

"Who shall escape Fate?  What I have written I have written."

David rose and salaamed.  Harrik rose also.  "Thou wouldst go, having
accomplished thy will?" Harrik asked, a thought flashing to his mind
again, in keeping with his earlier purpose.  Why should this man be left
to trouble Egypt?

David touched his breast.  "I must bear thy words to the Palace and the
Citadel."

"Are there not slaves for messengers?"  Involuntarily Harrik turned his
eyes to the velvet curtains.  No fear possessed David, but he felt the
keenness of the struggle, and prepared for the last critical moment of
fanaticism.

"It were a foolish thing to attempt my death," he said calmly.  "I have
been thy friend to urge thee to do that which saves thee from public
shame, and Egypt from peril.  I came alone, because I had no fear that
thou wouldst go to thy death shaming hospitality."

"Thou wast sure I would give myself to death?"

"Even as that I breathe.  Thou wert mistaken; a madness possessed thee;
but thou, I knew, wouldst choose the way of honour.  I too have had
dreams--and of Egypt.  If it were for her good, I would die for her."

"Thou art mad.  But the mad are in the hands of God, and--"

Suddenly Harrik stopped.  There came to his ears two distant sounds--the
faint click of horses' hoofs and that dull rumble they had heard as they
talked, a sound he loved, the roar of his lions.

He clapped his hands twice, the curtains parted opposite, and a slave
slid silently forward.

"Quick!  The horses!  What are they?  Bring me word," he said.

The slave vanished.  For a moment there was silence.  The eyes of the two
men met.  In the minds of both was the same thing.

"Kaid! The Nubians!" Harrik said, at last.  David made no response.

The slave returned, and his voice murmured softly, as though the matter
were of no concern: "The Nubians--from the Palace."  In an instant he was
gone again.

"Kaid had not faith in thee," Harrik said grimly.  "But see, infidel
though thou art, thou trustest me, and thou shalt go thy way.  Take them
with thee, yonder jackals of the desert.  I will not go with them.  I did
not choose to live; others chose for me; but I will die after my own
choice.  Thou hast heard a voice, even as I.  It is too late to flee to
the desert.  Fate tricks me.  'The lions are loosed on thee'--so the
voice said to me in the night.  Hark!  dost thou not hear them--the
lions, Harrik's lions, got out of the uttermost desert?"

David could hear the distant roar, for the menagerie was even part of the
palace itself.

"Go in peace," continued Harrik soberly and with dignity, "and when Egypt
is given to the infidel and Muslims are their slaves, remember that
Harrik would have saved it for his Lord Mahomet, the Prophet of God."

He clapped his hands, and fifty slaves slid from behind the velvet
curtains.

"I have thy word by the tomb of thy mother that thou wilt take the
Nubians hence, and leave me in peace?" he asked.

David raised a hand above his head.  "As I have trusted thee, trust thou
me, Harrik, son of Mahomet."  Harrik made a gesture of dismissal, and
David salaamed and turned to go.  As the curtains parted for his exit,
he faced Harrik again.  "Peace be to thee," he said.

But, seated in his cushions, the haggard, fanatical face of Harrik was
turned from him, the black, flaring eyes fixed on vacancy.  The curtain
dropped behind David, and through the dim rooms and corridors he passed,
the slaves gliding beside him, before him, and behind him, until they
reached the great doors.  As they swung open and the cool night breeze
blew in his face, a great suspiration of relief passed from him.  What he
had set out to do would be accomplished in all.  Harrik would
keep his word.  It was the only way.

As he emerged from the doorway some one fell at his feet, caught his
sleeve and kissed it.  It was Mahommed Hassan.  Behind Mahommed was a
little group of officers and a hundred stalwart Nubians.  David motioned
them towards the great gates, and, without speaking, passed swiftly down
the pathway and emerged upon the road without.  A moment later he was
riding towards the Citadel with Harrik's message to Achmet.  In the red-
curtained room Harrik sat alone, listening until he heard the far clatter
of hoofs, and knew that the Nubians were gone.  Then the other distant
sound which had captured his ear came to him again.  In his fancy it grew
louder and louder.  With it came the voice that called him in the night,
the voice of a woman--of the wife he had given to the lions for a crime
against him which she did not commit, which had haunted him all the
years.  He had seen her thrown to the king of them all, killed in one
swift instant, and dragged about the den by her warm white neck--this
slave wife from Albania, his adored Fatima.  And when, afterwards, he
came to know the truth, and of her innocence, from the chief eunuch who
with his last breath cleared her name, a terrible anger and despair had
come upon him.  Time and intrigue and conspiracy had distracted his mind,
and the Jehad became the fixed aim and end of his life.  Now this was
gone.  Destiny had tripped him up.  Kaid and the infidel Inglesi had won.

As the one great passion went out like smoke, the woman he loved, whom
he had given to the lions, the memory of her, some haunting part of her,
possessed him, overcame him.  In truth, he had heard a voice in the
night, but not the voice of a spirit.  It was the voice of Zaida, who,
preying upon his superstitious mind--she knew the hallucination which
possessed him concerning her he had cast to the lions--and having given
the terrible secret to Kaid, whom she had ever loved, would still save
Harrik from the sure vengeance which must fall upon him.  Her design had
worked, but not as she intended.  She had put a spell of superstition on
him, and the end would be accomplished, but not by flight to the desert.

Harrik chose the other way.  He had been a hunter.

He was without fear.  The voice of the woman he loved called him.  It
came to him through the distant roar of the lions as clear as when, with
one cry of "Harrik !" she had fallen beneath the lion's paw.  He knew now
why he had kept the great beast until this hour, though tempted again and
again to slay him.

Like one in a dream, he drew a dagger from the cushions where he sat, and
rose to his feet.  Leaving the room and passing dark groups of waiting
slaves, he travelled empty chambers and long corridors, the voices of the
lions growing nearer and nearer.  He sped faster now, and presently came
to two great doors, on which he knocked thrice.  The doors opened, and
two slaves held up lights for him to enter.  Taking a torch from one of
them, he bade them retire, and the doors clanged behind them.

Harrik held up the torch and came nearer.  In the centre of the room was
a cage in which one great lion paced to and fro in fury.  It roared at
him savagely.  It was his roar which had come to Harrik through the
distance and the night.  He it was who had carried Fatima, the beloved,
about his cage by that neck in which Harrik had laid his face so often.

The hot flush of conflict and the long anger of the years were on him.
Since he must die, since Destiny had befooled him, left him the victim of
the avengers, he would end it here.  Here, against the thing of savage
hate which had drunk of the veins and crushed the bones of his fair wife,
he would strike one blow deep and strong and shed the blood of sacrifice
before his own was shed.

He thrust the torch into the ground, and, with the dagger grasped
tightly, carefully opened the cage and stepped inside.  The door clicked
behind him.  The lion was silent now, and in a far corner prepared to
spring, crouching low.

"Fatima!" Harrik cried, and sprang forward as the wild beast rose at
him.  He struck deep, drew forth the dagger--and was still.




CHAPTER XIII

ACHMET THE ROPEMAKER STRIKES

War!  War!  The chains of the conscripts clanked in the river villages;
the wailing of the women affrighted the pigeons in a thousand dovecotes
on the Nile; the dust of despair was heaped upon the heads of the old,
who knew that their young would no more return, and that the fields of
dourha would go ungathered, the water-channels go unattended, and the
onion-fields be bare.  War!  War!  War!  The strong, the broad-shouldered
--Aka, Mahmoud, Raschid, Selim, they with the bodies of Seti and the
faces of Rameses, in their blue yeleks and unsandalled feet--would go
into the desert as their forefathers did for the Shepherd Kings.  But
there would be no spoil for them--no slaves with swelling breasts and
lips of honey; no straight-limbed servants of their pleasure to wait on
them with caressing fingers; no rich spoils carried back from the fields
of war to the mud hut, the earth oven, and the thatched roof; no rings of
soft gold and necklaces of amber snatched from the fingers and bosoms of
the captive and the dead.  Those days were no more.  No vision of loot or
luxury allured these.  They saw only the yellow sand, the ever-receding
oasis, the brackish, undrinkable water, the withered and fruitless date-
tree, handfuls of dourha for their food by day, and the keen, sharp night
to chill their half-dead bodies in a half-waking sleep.  And then the
savage struggle for life--with all the gain to the pashas and the beys,
and those who ruled over them; while their own wounds grew foul, and, in
the torturing noon-day heat of the white waste, Death reached out and
dragged them from the drooping lines to die.  Fighting because they must
fight--not patriot love, nor understanding, nor sacrifice in their
hearts.  War!  War!  War!  War!

David had been too late to stop it.  It had grown to a head with
revolution and conspiracy.  For months before he came conscripts had been
gathered in the Nile country from Rosetta to Assouan, and here and there,
far south, tribes had revolted.  He had come to power too late to devise
another course.  One day, when this war was over, he would go alone, save
for a faithful few, to deal with these tribes and peoples upon another
plane than war; but here and now the only course was that which had been
planned by Kaid and those who counselled him.  Troubled by a deep danger
drawing near, Kaid had drawn him into his tough service, half-blindly
catching at his help, with a strange, almost superstitious belief that
luck and good would come from the alliance; seeing in him a protection
against wholesale robbery and debt--were not the English masters of
finance, and was not this Englishman honest, and with a brain of fire
and an eye that pierced things?

David had accepted the inevitable.  The war had its value.  It would draw
off to the south--he would see that it was so--Achmet and Higli and Diaz
and the rest, who were ever a danger.  Not to himself: he did not think
of that; but to Kaid and to Egypt.  They had been out-manoeuvred, beaten,
foiled, knew who had foiled them and what they had escaped; congratulated
themselves, but had no gratitude to him, and still plotted his
destruction.  More than once his death had been planned, but the dark
design had come to light--now from the workers of the bazaars, whose
wires of intelligence pierced everywhere; now from some hungry fellah
whose yelek he had filled with cakes of dourha beside a bread-shop; now
from Mahommed Hassan, who was for him a thousand eyes and feet and hands,
who cooked his food, and gathered round him fellaheen or Copts or
Soudanese or Nubians whom he himself had tested and found true, and ruled
them with a hand of plenty and a rod of iron.  Also, from Nahoum's spies
he learned of plots and counterplots, chiefly on Achmet's part; and these
he hid from Kaid, while he trusted Nahoum--and not without reason, as
yet.

The day of Nahoum's wrath and revenge was not yet come; it was his deep
design to lay the foundation for his own dark actions strong on a rock of
apparent confidence and devotion.  A long torture and a great over-
whelming was his design.  He knew himself to be in the scheme of a
master-workman, and by-and-by he would blunt the chisel and bend the saw;
but not yet.  Meanwhile, he hated, admired, schemed, and got a sweet
taste on his tongue from aiding David to foil Achmet--Higli and Diaz were
of little account; only the injury they felt in seeing the sluices being
closed on the stream of bribery and corruption kept them in the toils of
Achmet's conspiracy.  They had saved their heads, but they had not
learned their lesson yet; and Achmet, blinded by rage, not at all.
Achmet did not understand clemency.  One by one his plots had failed,
until the day came when David advised Kaid to send him and his friends
into the Soudan, with the punitive expedition under loyal generals.  It
was David's dream that, in the field of war, a better spirit might enter
into Achmet and his friends; that patriotism might stir in them.

The day was approaching when the army must leave.  Achmet threw dice once
more.

Evening was drawing down.  Over the plaintive pink and golden glow of
sunset was slowly being drawn a pervasive silver veil of moonlight.  A
caravan of camels hunched alone in the middle distance, making for the
western desert.  Near by, village life manifested itself in heavily laden
donkeys; in wolfish curs stealing away with refuse into the waste; in
women, upright and modest, bearing jars of water on their heads; in
evening fires, where the cover of the pot clattered over the boiling mass
within; in the voice of the Muezzin calling to prayer.

Returning from Alexandria to Cairo in the special train which Kaid had
sent for him, David watched the scene with grave and friendly interest.
There was far, to go before those mud huts of the thousand years would
give place to rational modern homes; and as he saw a solitary horseman
spread his sheepskin on the ground and kneel to say his evening prayer,
as Mahomet had done in his flight between Mecca and Medina, the distance
between the Egypt of his desire and the ancient Egypt that moved round
him sharply impressed his mind, and the magnitude of his task settled
heavily on his spirit.

"But it is the beginning--the beginning," he said aloud to himself,
looking out upon the green expanses of dourha and Lucerne, and eyeing
lovingly the cotton-fields here and there, the origin of the industrial
movement he foresaw--"and some one had to begin.  The rest is as it must
be--"

There was a touch of Oriental philosophy in his mind--was it not Galilee
and the Nazarene, that Oriental source from which Mahomet also drew?  But
he added to the "as it must be" the words, "and as God wills."  He was
alone in the compartment with Lacey, whose natural garrulity had had a
severe discipline in the months that had passed since he had asked to be
allowed to black David's boots.  He could now sit for an hour silent,
talking to himself, carrying on unheard conversations.  Seeing David's
mood, he had not spoken twice on this journey, but had made notes in a
little "Book of Experience,"--as once he had done in Mexico.  At last,
however, he raised his head, and looked eagerly out of the window as
David did, and sniffed.

"The Nile again," he said, and smiled.  The attraction of the Nile was
upon him, as it grows on every one who lives in Egypt.  The Nile and
Egypt--Egypt and the Nile--its mystery, its greatness, its benevolence,
its life-giving power, without which Egypt is as the Sahara, it conquers
the mind of every man at last.

"The Nile, yes," rejoined David, and smiled also.  "We shall cross it
presently."

Again they relapsed into silence, broken only by the clang, clang of the
metal on the rails, and then presently another, more hollow sound--the
engine was upon the bridge.  Lacey got up and put his head out of the
window.  Suddenly there was a cry of fear and horror over his head, a
warning voice shrieking:

"The bridge is open--we are lost.  Effendi--master--Allah!"  It was the
voice of Mahommed Hassan, who had been perched on the roof of the car.

Like lightning Lacey realised the danger, and saw the only way of escape.
He swung open the door, even as the engine touched the edge of the abyss
and shrieked its complaint under the hand of the terror-stricken
driver, caught David's shoulder, and cried: "Jump-jump into the river--
quick!"

As the engine toppled, David jumped--there was no time to think,
obedience was the only way.  After him sprang, far down into the grey-
blue water, Lacey and Mahommed.  When they came again to the surface, the
little train with its handful of human freight had disappeared.

Two people had seen the train plunge to destruction--the solitary
horseman whom David had watched kneel upon his sheepskin, and who now
from a far hill had seen the disaster, but had not seen the three jump
for their lives, and a fisherman on the bank, who ran shouting towards a
village standing back from the river.

As the fisherman sped shrieking and beckoning to the villagers, David,
Lacey, and Mahommed fought for their lives in the swift current, swimming
at an angle upstream towards the shore; for, as Mahommed warned them,
there were rocks below.  Lacey was a good swimmer, but he was heavy, and
David was a better, but Mahommed had proved his merit in the past on many
an occasion when the laws of the river were reaching out strong hands for
him.  Now, as Mahommed swam, he kept moaning to himself, cursing his
father and his father's son, as though he himself were to blame for the
crime which had been committed.  Here was a plot, and he had discovered
more plots than one against his master.  The bridge-opener--when he found
him he would take him into the desert and flay him alive; and find him he
would.  His watchful eyes were on the hut by the bridge where this man
should be.  No one was visible.  He cursed the man and all his ancestry
and all his posterity, sleeping and waking, until the day when he,
Mahommed, would pinch his flesh with red hot irons.  But now he had other
and nearer things to occupy him, for in the fierce struggle towards the
shore Lacey found himself failing, and falling down the stream.
Presently both Mahommed and David were beside him, Lacey angrily
protesting to David that he must save himself.

"Say, think of Egypt and all the rest.  You've got to save yourself--let
me splash along!" he spluttered, breathing hard, his shoulders low in
the water, his mouth almost submerged.

But David and Mahommed fought along beside him, each determined that it
must be all or none; and presently the terror-stricken fisherman who had
roused the village, still shrieking deliriously, came upon them in a
flat-bottomed boat manned by four stalwart fellaheen, and the tragedy of
the bridge was over.  But not the tragedy of Achmet the Ropemaker.




CHAPTER XIV

BEYOND THE PALE

Mahommed Hassan had vowed a vow in the river, and he kept it in so far as
was seemly.  His soul hungered for the face of the bridge-opener, and the
hunger grew.  He was scarce passed from the shivering Nile into a dry
yelek, had hardly taken a juicy piece from the cooking-pot at the house
of the village sheikh, before he began to cultivate friends who could
help him, including the sheikh himself; for what money Mahommed lacked
was supplied by Lacey, who had a reasoned confidence in him, and by the
fiercely indignant Kaid himself, to whom Lacey and Mahommed went
secretly, hiding their purpose from David.  So, there were a score of
villages where every sheikh, eager for gold, listened for the whisper of
the doorways, and every slave and villager listened at the sheikh's door.
But neither to sheikh nor to villager was it given to find the man.

But one evening there came a knocking at the door of the house which
Mahommed still kept in the lowest Muslim quarter of the town, a woman who
hid her face and was of more graceful figure than was familiar in those
dark purlieus.  The door was at once opened, and Mahommed, with a cry,
drew her inside.

"Zaida--the peace of God be upon thee," he said, and gazed lovingly yet
sadly upon her, for she had greatly changed.

"And upon thee peace, Mahommed," she answered, and sat upon the floor,
her head upon her breast.

"Thou hast trouble  at," he said, and put some cakes of dourha and a
meated cucumber beside her.  She touched the food with her fingers, but
did not eat.  "Is thy grief, then, for thy prince who gave himself to the
lions?" he asked.

"Inshallah!  Harrik is in the bosom of Allah.  He is with Fatima in the
fields of heaven--was I as Fatima to him?  Nay, the dead have done with
hurting."

"Since that night thou hast been lost, even since Harrik went.  I
searched for thee, but thou wert hid.  Surely, thou knewest mine eyes
were aching and my heart was cast down--did not thou and I feed at the
same breast?"

"I was dead, and am come forth from the grave; but I shall go again into
the dark where all shall forget, even I myself; but there is that which I
would do, which thou must do for me, even as I shall do good to thee,
that which is the desire of my heart."

"Speak, light of the morning and blessing of thy mother's soul," he said,
and crowded into his mouth a roll of meat and cucumber.  "Against thy
feddan shall be set my date-tree; it hath been so ever."

"Listen then, and by the stone of the Kaabah, keep the faith which has
been throe and mine since my mother, dying, gave me to thy mother, whose
milk gave me health and, in my youth, beauty--and, in my youth, beauty!"
Suddenly she buried her face in her veil, and her body shook with sobs
which had no voice.  Presently she continued: "Listen, and by Abraham and
Christ and all the Prophets, and by Mahomet the true revealer, give me
thine aid.  When Harrik gave his life to the lions, I fled to her whom I
had loved in the house of Kaid--Laka the Syrian, afterwards the wife of
Achmet Pasha.  By Harrik's death I was free--no more a slave.  Once Laka
had been the joy of Achmet's heart, but, because she had no child, she
was despised and forgotten.  Was it not meet I should fly to her whose
sorrow would hide my loneliness?  And so it was--I was hidden in the
harem of Achmet.  But miserable tongues--may God wither them!--told
Achmet of my presence.  And though I was free, and not a bondswoman, he
broke upon my sleep.  .  .  ."

Mahommed's eyes blazed, his dark skin blackened like a coal, and he
muttered maledictions between his teeth.  ".  .  .  In the morning there
was a horror upon me, for which there is no name.  But I laughed also
when I took a dagger and stole from the harem to find him in the quarters
beyond the women's gate.  I found him, but I held my hand, for one was
with him who spake with a tone of anger and of death, and I listened.
Then, indeed, I rejoiced for thee, for I have found thee a road to honour
and fortune.  The man was a bridge-opener--" "Ah!--O, light of a thousand
eyes, fruit of the tree of Eden!" cried Mahommed, and fell on his knees
at her feet, and would have kissed them, but that, with a cry, she said:
"Nay, nay, touch me not.  But listen.  .  .  .  Ay, it was Achmet who
sought to drown thy Pasha in the Nile.  Thou shalt find the man in the
little street called Singat in the Moosky, at the house of Haleel the
date-seller."

Mahommed rocked backwards and forwards in his delight.  "Oh, now art thou
like a lamp of Paradise, even as a star which leadeth an army of stars,
beloved," he said.  He rubbed his hands together.  "Thy witness and his
shall send Achmet to a hell of scorpions, and I shall slay the bridge-
opener with my own hand--hath not the Effendina secretly said so to me,
knowing that my Pasha, the Inglesi, upon whom be peace for ever and
forever, would forgive him.  Ah, thou blossom of the tree of trees--"

She rose hastily, and when he would have kissed her hand she drew back to
the wall.  "Touch me not--nay, then, Mahommed, touch me not--"

"Why should I not pay thee honour, thou princess among women?  Hast thou
not the brain of a man, and thy beauty, like thy heart, is it not--"

She put out both her hands and spoke sharply.  "Enough, my brother,"
she said.  "Thou hast thy way to great honour.  Thou shalt yet have a
thousand feddans of well-watered land and slaves to wait upon thee.  Get
thee to the house of Haleel.  There shall the blow fall on the head of
Achmet, the blow which was mine to strike, but that Allah stayed my hand
that I might do thee and thy Pasha good, and to give the soul-slayer and
the body-slayer into the hands of Kaid, upon whom be everlasting peace!"
Her voice dropped low.  "Thou saidst but now that I had beauty.  Is there
yet any beauty in my face?"  She lowered her yashmak and looked at him
with burning eyes.

"Thou art altogether beautiful," he answered, "but there is a strangeness
to thy beauty like none I have seen; as if upon the face of an angel
there fell a mist--nay, I have not words to make it plain to thee."

With a great sigh, and yet with the tenseness gone from her eyes, she
slowly drew the veil up again till only her eyes were visible.  "It is
well," she answered.  "Now, I have heard that to-morrow night Prince Kaid
will sit in the small court-yard of the blue tiles by the harem to feast
with his friends, ere the army goes into the desert at the next sunrise.
Achmet is bidden to the feast."

"It is so, O beloved!"

"There will be dancers and singers to make the feast worthy?"

"At such a time it will be so."

"Then this thou shalt do.  See to it that I shall be among the singers,
and when all have danced and sung, that I shall sing, and be brought
before Kaid."

"Inshallah!  It shall be so.  Thou dost desire to see Kaid--in truth,
thou hast memory, beloved."

She made a gesture of despair.  "Go upon thy business.  Dost thou not
desire the blood of Achmet and the bridge-opener?"

Mahommed laughed, and joyfully beat his breast, with whispered
exclamations, and made ready to go.  "And thou?" he asked.

"Am I not welcome here?" she replied wearily.  "O, my sister, thou art
the master of my life and all that I have," he exclaimed, and a moment
afterwards he was speeding towards Kaid's Palace.

For the first time since the day of his banishment Achmet the Ropemaker
was invited to Kaid's Palace.  Coming, he was received with careless
consideration by the Prince.  Behind his long, harsh face and sullen eyes
a devil was raging, because of all his plans that had gone awry, and
because the man he had sought to kill still served the Effendina, putting
a blight upon Egypt.  To-morrow he, Achmet, must go into the desert with
the army, and this hated Inglesi would remain behind to have his will
with Kaid.  The one drop of comfort in his cup was the fact that the
displeasure of the Effendina against himself was removed, and that he
had, therefore, his foot once more inside the Palace.  When he came back
from the war he would win his way to power again.  Meanwhile, he cursed
the man who had eluded the death he had prepared for him.  With his own
eyes had he not seen, from the hill top, the train plunge to destruction,
and had he not once more got off his horse and knelt upon his sheepskin
and given thanks to Allah--a devout Arab obeying the sunset call to
prayer, as David had observed from the train?

One by one, two by two, group by group, the unveiled dancers came and
went; the singers sang behind the screen provided for them, so that none
might see their faces, after the custom.  At last, however, Kaid and his
guests grew listless, and smoked and talked idly.  Yet there was in the
eyes of Kaid a watchfulness unseen by any save a fellah who squatted in a
corner eating sweetmeats, and a hidden singer waiting until she should be
called before the Prince Pasha.  The singer's glances continually flashed
between Kaid and Achmet.  At last, with gleaming eyes, she saw six Nubian
slaves steal silently behind Achmet.  One, also, of great strength, came
suddenly and stood before him.  In his hands was a leathern thong.

Achmet saw, felt the presence of the slaves behind him, and shrank back
numbed and appalled.  A mist came before his eyes; the voice he heard
summoning him to stand up seemed to come from infinite distances.  The
hand of doom had fallen like a thunderbolt.  The leathern thong in the
hands of the slave was the token of instant death.  There was no chance
of escape.  The Nubians had him at their mercy.  As his brain struggled
to regain its understanding, he saw, as in a dream, David enter the
court-yard and come towards Kaid.

Suddenly David stopped in amazement, seeing Achmet.  Inquiringly he
looked at Kaid, who spoke earnestly to him in a low tone.  Whereupon
David turned his head away, but after a moment fixed his eyes on Achmet.

Kaid motioned all his startled guests to come nearer.  Then in strong,
unmerciful voice he laid Achmet's crime before them, and told the story
of the bridge-opener, who had that day expiated his crime in the desert
by the hands of Mahommed--but not with torture, as Mahommed had hoped
might be.

"What shall be his punishment--so foul, so wolfish?" Kaid asked of them
all.  A dozen voices answered, some one terrible thing, some another.

"Mercy!" moaned Achmet aghast.  "Mercy, Saadat!" he cried to David.

David looked at him calmly.  There was little mercy in his eyes as he
answered: "Thy crimes sent to their death in the Nile those who never
injured thee.  Dost thou quarrel with justice?  Compose thy soul, and I
pray only the Effendina to give thee that seemly death thou didst deny
thy victims."  He bowed respectfully to Kaid.

Kaid frowned.  "The ways of Egypt are the ways of Egypt, and not of the
land once thine," he answered shortly.  Then, under the spell of that
influence which he had never yet been able to resist, he added to the
slaves: "Take him aside.  I will think upon it.  But he shall die at
sunrise ere the army goes.  Shall not justice be the gift of Kaid for an
example and a warning?  Take him away a little.  I will decide."

As Achmet and the slaves disappeared into a dark corner of the court-
yard, Kaid rose to his feet, and, upon the hint, his guests, murmuring
praises of his justice and his mercy and his wisdom, slowly melted from
the court-yard; but once outside they hastened to proclaim in the four
quarters of Cairo how yet again the English Pasha had picked from the
Tree of Life an apple of fortune.

The court-yard was now empty, save for the servants of the Prince, David
and Mahommed, and two officers in whom David had advised Kaid to put
trust.  Presently one of these officers said: "There is another singer,
and the last.  Is it the Effendina's pleasure?"

Kaid made a gesture of assent, sat down, and took the stem of a narghileh
between his lips.  For a moment there was silence, and then, out upon the
sweet, perfumed night, over which the stars hung brilliant and soft and
near, a voice at first quietly, then fully, and palpitating with feeling,
poured forth an Eastern love song:

         "Take thou thy flight, O soul!  Thou hast no more
          The gladness of the morning!  Ah, the perfumed roses
          My love laid on my bosom as I slept!
          How did he wake me with his lips upon mine eyes,
          How did the singers carol--the singers of my soul
          That nest among the thoughts of my beloved! .  .  .
          All silent now, the choruses are gone,
          The windows of my soul are closed; no more
          Mine eyes look gladly out to see my lover come.
          There is no more to do, no more to say:
          Take flight, my soul, my love returns no more!"

At the first note Kaid started, and his eyes fastened upon the screen
behind which sat the singer.  Then, as the voice, in sweet anguish,
filled the court-yard, entrancing them all, rose higher and higher, fell
and died away, he got to his feet, and called out hoarsely: "Come--come
forth!"

Slowly a graceful, veiled figure came from behind the great screen.  He
took a step forward.

"Zaida!  Zaida!" he said gently, amazedly.

She salaamed low.  "Forgive me, O my lord!" she said, in a whispering
voice, drawing her veil about her head.  "It was my soul's desire to look
upon thy face once more."

"Whither didst thou go at Harrik's death?  I sent to find thee, and give
thee safety; but thou wert gone, none knew where."

"O my lord, what was I but a mote in thy sun, that thou shouldst seek
me?"

Kaid's eyes fell, and he murmured to himself a moment, then he said
slowly: "Thou didst save Egypt, thou and my friend"--he gestured towards
David"--and my life also, and all else that is worth.  Therefore bounty,
and safety, and all thy desires were thy due.  Kaid is no ingrate--no,
by the hand of Moses that smote at Sinai!"

She made a pathetic motion of her hands.  "By Harrik's death I am free, a
slave no longer.  O my lord, where I go bounty and famine are the same."

Kaid took a step forward.  "Let me see thy face," he said, something
strange in her tone moving him with awe.

She lowered her veil and looked him in the eyes.  Her wan beauty smote
him, conquered him, the exquisite pain in her face filled Kaid's eyes
with foreboding, and pierced his heart.

"O cursed day that saw thee leave these walls!  I did it for thy good--
thou wert so young; thy life was all before thee!  But now--come, Zaida,
here in Kaid's Palace thou shalt have a home, and be at peace, for I see
that thou hast suffered.  Surely it shall be said that Kaid honours
thee."  He reached out to take her hand.

She had listened like one in a dream, but, as he was about to touch her,
she suddenly drew back, veiled her face, save for the eyes, and said in a
voice of agony: "Unclean, unclean!  My lord, I am a leper!"

An awed and awful silence fell upon them all.  Kaid drew back as though
smitten by a blow.

Presently, upon the silence, her voice sharp with agony said: "I am a
leper, and I go to that desert place which my lord has set apart for
lepers, where, dead to the world, I shall watch the dreadful years come
and go.  Behold, I would die, but that I have a sister there these many
years, and her sick soul lives in loneliness.  O my lord, forgive me!
Here was I happy; here of old I did sing to thee, and I came to sing to
thee once more a death-song.  Also, I came to see thee do justice, ere I
went from thy face for ever."

Kaid's head was lowered on his breast.  He shuddered.  "Thou art so
beautiful--thy voice, all!  Thou wouldst see justice--speak!  Justice
shall be made plain before thee."

Twice she essayed to speak, and could not; but from his sweetmeats and
the shadows Mahommed crept forward, kissed the ground before Kaid, and
said: "Effendina, thou knowest me as the servant of thy high servant,
Claridge Pasha."

"I know thee--proceed."

"Behold, she whom God has smitten, man smote first.  I am her foster-
brother--from the same breast we drew the food of life.  Thou wouldst do
justice, O Effendina; but canst thou do double justice--ay, a
thousandfold?  Then"--his voice raised almost shrilly--"then do it upon
Achmet Pasha.  She--Zaida--told me where I should find the bridge-
opener."

"Zaida once more!" Kaid murmured.

"She had learned all in Achmet's harem--hearing speech between Achmet and
the man whom thou didst deliver to my hands yesterday."

"Zaida-in Achmet's harem?"  Kaid turned upon her.

Swiftly she told her dreadful tale, how, after Achmet had murdered all of
her except her body, she rose up to kill herself; but fainting, fell upon
a burning brazier, and her hand thrust accidentally in the live coals
felt no pain.  "And behold, O my lord, I knew I was a leper; and I
remembered my sister and lived on."  So she ended, in a voice numbed and
tuneless.

Kaid trembled with rage, and he cried in a loud voice: "Bring Achmet
forth."

As the slave sped upon the errand, David laid a hand on Kaid's arm, and
whispered to him earnestly.  Kaid's savage frown cleared away, and his
rage calmed down; but an inflexible look came into his face, a look which
petrified the ruined Achmet as he salaamed before him.

"Know thy punishment, son of a dog with a dog's heart, and prepare for a
daily death," said Kaid.  "This woman thou didst so foully wrong, even
when thou didst wrong her, she was a leper."

A low cry broke from Achmet, for now when death came he must go unclean
to the after-world, forbidden Allah's presence.  Broken and abject he
listened.

"She knew not, till thou wert gone," continued Kaid.  She is innocent
before the law.  But thou--beast of the slime--hear thy sentence.  There
is in the far desert a place where lepers live.  There, once a year, one
caravan comes, and, at the outskirts of the place unclean, leaves food
and needful things for another year, and returns again to Egypt after
many days.  From that place there is no escape--the desert is as the sea,
and upon that sea there is no ghiassa to sail to a farther shore.  It is
the leper land.  Thither thou shalt go to wait upon this woman thou hast
savagely wronged, and upon her kind, till thou diest.  It shall be so."

"Mercy! Mercy!" Achmet cried, horror-stricken, and turned to David.
"Thou art merciful.  Speak for me, Saadat."

"When didst thou have mercy?" asked David.  "Thy crimes are against
humanity."

Kaid made a motion, and, with dragging feet, Achmet passed from the
haunts of familiar faces.

For a moment Kaid stood and looked at Zaida, rigid and stricken in that
awful isolation which is the leper's doom.  Her eyes were closed, but her
head was high.  "Wilt thou not die?" Kaid asked her gently.

She shook her head slowly, and her hands folded on her breast.  "My
sister is there," she said at last.  There was an instant's stillness,
then Kaid added with a voice of grief: "Peace be upon thee, Zaida.  Life
is but a spark.  If death comes not to-day, it will tomorrow, for thee--
for me.  Inshallah, peace be upon thee!"

She opened her eyes and looked at him.  Seeing what was in his face, they
lighted with a great light for a moment.

"And upon thee peace, O my lord, for ever and for ever!" she said
softly, and, turning, left the court-yard, followed at a distance by
Mahommed Hassan.

Kaid remained motionless looking after her.

David broke in on his abstraction.  "The army at sunrise--thou wilt speak
to it, Effendina?"

Kaid roused himself.  "What shall I say?" he asked anxiously.

"Tell them they shall be clothed and fed, and to every man or his family
three hundred piastres at the end."

"Who will do this?" asked Kaid incredulously.  "Thou, Effendina--Egypt
and thou and I."

"So be it," answered Kaid.

As they left the court-yard, he said suddenly to an officer behind him:

"The caravan to the Place of Lepers--add to the stores fifty camel-loads
this year, and each year hereafter.  Have heed to it.  Ere it starts,
come to me.  I would see all with mine own eyes."




GLOSSARY

Aiwa----Yes.
Allah hu Achbar----God is most Great.
Al'mah----Female professional singers, signifying "a learned female."
Ardab----A measure equivalent to five English bushels.

Backsheesh----Tip, douceur.
Balass----Earthen vessel for carrying water.
Bdsha----Pasha.
Bersim----Clover.
Bismillah----In the name of God.
Bowdb----A doorkeeper.

Dahabieh----A Nile houseboat with large lateen sails.
Darabukkeh----A drum made of a skin stretched over an earthenware funnel.
Dourha----Maize.

Effendina----Most noble.
El Azhar----The Arab University at Cairo.

Fedddn----A measure of land representing about an acre.
Fellah----The Egyptian peasant.

Ghiassa----Small boat.

Hakim----Doctor.
Hasheesh----Leaves of hemp.

Inshallah----God willing.

Kdnoon----A musical instrument like a dulcimer.
Kavass----An orderly.
Kemengeh----A cocoanut fiddle.
Khamsin----A hot wind of Egypt and the Soudan.

Kourbash----A whip, often made of rhinoceros hide.

La ilaha illa-llah----There is no deity but God.

Malaish----No matter.
Malboos----Demented.
Mastaba----A bench.
Medjidie----A Turkish Order.
Mooshrabieh----Lattice window.
Moufettish----High Steward.
Mudir----The Governor of a
Mudirieh, or province.
Muezzin----The sheikh of the mosque who calls to prayer.

Narghileh----A Persian pipe.
Nebool----A quarter-staff.

Ramadan----The Mahommedan season of fasting.

Saadat-el-bdsha----Excellency Pasha.
Sdis----Groom.
Sakkia----The Persian water-wheel.
Salaam----Eastern salutation.
Sheikh-el-beled----Head of a village.

Tarboosh----A Turkish turban.

Ulema----Learned men.

Wakf----Mahommedan Court dealing with succession, etc.
Welee----A holy man or saint.

Yashmak----A veil for the lower part of the face.
Yelek----A long vest or smock.




ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:

Begin to see how near good is to evil
But the years go on, and friends have an end
Does any human being know what he can bear of temptation
Heaven where wives without number awaited him
Honesty was a thing he greatly desired--in others
How little we can know to-day what we shall feel tomorrow
How many conquests have been made in the name of God
One does the work and another gets paid
To-morrow is no man's gift
We want every land to do as we do; and we want to make 'em do it





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