« ForrigeFortsett »
side. Controversy indeed there could be little with one so ignorant as kirk treatment in that century was apt to leave the outcasts of society, nor had conversion to Islam given him much instruction in its tenets; so that the conversation generally was on earthly topics, though it always ended in assurances that Master Arthur would suffer for it if he did not perceive what was for his good. To which Arthur replied to the effect that he must suffer rather than deny his faith ; and Yusuf, declaring that a wilful man maun have his way, and that he would rue it too late, went off affronted, but always returned to the charge at the next opportunity.
Meantime Arthur was free to wander about unmolested and pick up the language, in which, however, Ulysse made far more rapid progress, and could be heard chattering away as fast, if not as correctly, as if it were French or English. The delicious climate and the open-air life were filling the little fellow with a strength and vigour unknown to him in a Parisian salon, and he was in the highest spirits among his brown playfellows, ceasing to pine for his mother and sister; and though he still came to Arthur for the night, or in any trouble, it was more and more difficult to get him to submit to be washed and dressed in his tight European clothes, or to say his prayers. He was always sleepy at night ard volatile in the morning, and could not be got to listen to the little instructions with which Arthur tried to arm him against the Mahometanism into which the poor little fellow was likely to drift as ignorantly and unconsciously as Yusuf himself.
And what was the alternative? Arthur himself never wavered, nor indeed actually felt that he had a choice, but the prospect before him was gloomy, and Yusuf did not soften it. The Sheyk would sell him, and he would either be made to work in some mountain farm, or put on board a galley; and Yusuf had sufficient experience of the horrors of the latter to assure him emphatically that the gude leddy of Burnside would break her heart to think of her bonnie laddie there.
• It would more surely break her heart to think of her son giving up his faith,' returned Arthur.
As to the child, the opinion of the tribe seemed to be that he was just fit to be sent to the Sultan to be bred as a Janissary. He will come that gate to be as great a man as in his ain countree,' said Yusuf; 'wi' horse to ride, and sword to bear, and braws to wear, like King Solomon in all his glory.'
• While his father and mother would far rather he were lying dead with her under the waves in that cruel bay,' returned Arthur.
• Hout, mon, ye dinna ken what's for his gude, nor for your ain neither,' retorted Yusuf.
*Good here is not good hereafter.'
* The life of a dog and waur here,' muttered Yusuf; 'ye'll mind me when it is too late.'
Nay, Yusuf, if you will only take word of our condition to Algiers, we shail-at least the boy-be assuredly redeemed, and you would win a high reward.'
*I am no free to gang to Algiers,' said Yusuf. 'I' fell out with a loon there, one of those Janissaries that gang hectoring aboot as though the world were not gude enough for them, and if I hadna made the best of my way out of the toon, my pow wad be a worricow on the wa's of the tower.'
• There are French at Bona, you say. Remember, I ask you to put yourself in no danger, only to bear the tidings to any European,' entreated Arthur.
· And how are they to find ye?' demanded Yusuf. “Abou Ben Zegri will never keep you here after having evened his gude-daugter to ye. He'll sell you to some corsair captain, and then the best that could betide ye wad be that a shot frae the Knights of Malta should make quick work wi' ye. Or look at the dumbie there, Fareek. A Christian, he ca's himsel, too, though 'tis of a by ordinar' fashion, such as Deacon Shortcoats would scarce own. I coft him dog-cheap at Tunis, when his master, the Vizier, had had his tongue cut out—for but knowing o' some deed that suld ne'er have been done—and his puir feet bastinadoed to a jelly. Gin a' the siller in the Dey’s treasury ransomed ye, what gude would it do ye after that?'
* I cannot help that I cannot forsake my God. I must trust Him not to forsake me.'
And, as usual, Yusuf went off angrily muttering He that will to Cupar, maun to Cupar.'
Perhaps Arthur's resistance had begun more for the sake of honour, and instinctive clinging to hereditary faith, without the sense of heroism or enthusiasm for martyrdom which sustained Estelle, and rather with the feeling that inconstancy to his faith and his Lord would be base and disloyal. But, as the long days rolled on, if the future of toil and dreary misery developed itself before him, the sense of personal love and trust of the Lord and Master whom he served grew upon him. Neither the gazelle-eyed Ayesha nor the prosperous village life presented any great temptation. He would have given them all for one bleak day of mist on a Border moss; it was the appalling contrast with the hold of a Moorish galley that at times startled him, together with the only too great probability that he should be utterly incapable of saving poor little Ulysse from unconscious apostacy.
Once Yusuf observed, that if he would only make outward submission to Moslem law, he might retain his own belief and trust in the Lord he seemed so much to love, and of whom he said more good than any Moslem could of the Prophet.
* If I deny Him, He will deny me,' said Arthur. * And will He no forgive ane as is bard pressed?' asked Yusuf. • It is a very different thing to go against the light, as I should be doing,' said Arthur, and what it might be for that poor bairn, whom God preserve.'
· And wow, sir! 'Tis far different wi' you that had the best of gude learning fra the gude leddy,' muttered Yusuf. My minnie aye needit me to sort the fish and gang her errands, and wad scarce hae sent me to scule, gin I wad hae gane where they girned at me for Partan Jeanie's wean, and gied me mair o' the tawse than of the hornbook. Gin the Lord, as ye ca' Him, bad ever seemed to me what ye say Ho is to you, Maister Arthur, I micht hae thocht twice o'er the matter. But there's nae ganging back the noo. A Christian's life they harm na, though they mak it a mere weariness to him ; but for him that quits the Prophet, tearing the flesh wi' iron cleeks is the best they hae for him.'
This time Yusuf retreated, not as usual in anger, but as if the bare idea he had broached was too terrible to be dwelt upon. He had by the end of a fortnight completed all his business at El Arnieh, and Arthur, having by this time picked up enough of the language to make himself comprehensible, and to know fully what was set before him, was called upon to make his decision, so that either he might be admitted by regular ritual into the Moslem faith, and adopted by the Sheyk, or else be advertised by Yusuf at the next town as a strong young slave.
. Sitting in the gate among the village magnates, like an elder of old, Sheyk Abou Ben Zegri, with considerable grace and dignity, set the choice before the Son of the Sea in most affectionate terms, asking of him to become the child of his old age, and to heal the breach left by the swords of the robbers of the mountains.
The old man's fine dark eyes filled with tears, and there was a pathos in his noble manner that made Arthur greatly grieved to disappoint him, and sorry not to have sufficient knowledge of the language to qualify more graciously the resolute reply he had so often rehearsed to himself, expressing his hearty thanks, but declaring that nothing could induce him to forsake the religion of his fathers.
• Wilt thou remain a dog of an unbeliever, and receive the treatment of dogs ?'
'I must,' said Arthur.
• The youth is a goodly youth,' said the Sheyk; 'it is ill that his heart is blind. Once again, young man, Issa Ben Mariam and slavery, or Mahommed and freedom?'
• I cannot deny my Lord Christ.'
There was a pause. Arthur stood upright, with lips compressed, hands clasped together, while the Sheyk and his companions seemed struck by his courage and high spirit. Then one of them, a small, ugly fellow, who had some pretensions to be considered the Sheyk’s next heir, cried, 'Out ou the infidel dog !' and set the example of throwing a handful of dust at him. The crowd who watched around wero not slow to follow the example, and Arthur thought he was
actually being stoned; but the missiles were for the most part not harmful, only disgusting, blinding, and confusing. There was a tremendous hubbub of vituperation, and he was at last actually stunned by a blow, waking to find himself alone, and with hands and feet bound, in a dirty little shed appropriated to camels. Should he ever be allowed to see poor little Ulysse again, or to speak to Yusuf, in whom lay their only faint hope of redemption? He was helpless, and the boy was at the mercy of the Moors. Was he utterly forsaken?
It was growing late in the day, and he had had no food for many hours. Was he to be neglected and starved ? At last he heard steps approaching, and the door was opened by the man who had led the assault on him, who addressed him as “Son of an old ass—dog of a slave,' bade him stand up and show his height, at the same time cut og the cords that bound him. It was an additional pang that it was to Yusuf that he was thus to exhibit himself, no doubt in order that the merchant should carry a description of him to some likely purchaser. He could not comprehend the words that passed, but it was very bitter to be handled like a horse at a fair-doubly so that he, a Hope of Burnside, should thus be treated by Partan Jeanie's son.
There ensued outside the shrieking and roaring which always accompanied a bargain, and which lasted two full hours. Finally Yusuf looked into the hut, and roughly said in Arabic, • Come over to me, dog; thou art mine. Kiss the shoe of thy master'-adding in his native tongue, 'For ance, sir. It maun be done before these loons.'
Certainly the ceremony would have been felt as less humiliating towards almost anybody else, but Arthur endured it; and then was led away to the tents beyond the gate.
• There, sir,' said Yusuf, 'it ill sorts your father's son to be in sic a case, but it canna be helpit. I culd na leave behind the bonnie Scots tongue, let alane the gude Leddy Hope's son.'
• You have been very good to me, Yusuf,' said Arthur, his pride much softened by the merchant's evident sense of the situation. “I know you mean me well, but the boy
• Hoots ! the bairn is happy eno'. He will come to higher preferment than even you or I. Why, mon, an Aga of the Janissaries is as good as the Deuk himsel','
• Yusuf, I am very grateful-I believe you must have paid heavily to spare me from ill usage.'
• Ye may say that, sir. Forty piastres of Tunis, and eight mules, and twa pair of silver-mounted pistols. The extortionate rogue wad bae had the little dagger, but I stood out against that.'
I see, I am deeply beholden,' said Arthur; but it would be tenfold better if you would take him instead of me!'
• What for suld I do that? He is na countryman of mine-- one side French and the other Irish. He is naught to me.'
He is heir to a noble house,' urged Arthur. They will reward you amply for saving him.'
• Mair like to girn at me for a Moor. Na, na! Hae na I dune enough for ye, Maister Arthur-giving half my beasties, and more than half my silver? Canna ye be content, without that whining bairn ?'
I should be a forsworn man to be content to leave the child, whose dead mother prayed me to protect him, amid those who will turn him from her faith. See, now, I am a man, and can guard myself, by the grace of God; but to leave the poor child here would be letting these men work their will on him, ere any ransom could
His mother would deem it giving him up to perdition. Let me remain here, and take the helpless child. You know how to bargain. His price might be my ransom.'
• Aye, when the jackals and hyenas have picked your banes, or you have died under the lash, chained to the oar, as I hae seen, Maister Arthur.' • Better so than betray the dead woman's trust. How no
--For there was a pattering of feet, a cry of. Arthur! Arthur !' and sobbing, screaming, and crying, Ulysse threw himself on his friend's breast. He was pursued by one or two of the hangers-on of the Sheyk's household, and the first comer seized him by the arm ; but he clung to Arthur, screamed and kicked, and the old nurse who had come hobbling after coaxed in vain. He cried out in a mixture of Arabic and French that he would sleep with Arthur-Arthur must put him to bed, no one should take him away.
• Let him stay,' responded Yusuf; "his time will come soon enough.'
Indulgence to children was the rule, and there was an easy, goodnature about the race, which made them ready to defer the storm, and acquiesce in the poor little fellow remaining for another evening with that last remnant of his home to whom he always reverted at nightfall.
He held trembling by Arthur till all were gone, then looked about in terror, and required to be assured that no one was coming to take
• They shall not,' he cried. “Arthur, you will not leave me alone? They are all gone-Mamma, and Estelle, and la bonne, and Laurent, and my uncle, and all, and you will not go.'
* Not now, not to-night, my dear little mannie,' said Arthur, tears in his eyes for the first time throughout these misfortunes.
• Not now! No, never!' said the boy, hugging him almost to choking. That naughty Ben Kader said they had sold you for a slave, and you were going away; but I knew I should find you-you are not a slave !-you are not black
• Ah! Ulysse, it is too true; I am • No! no! no!' The child stamped, and hung on him in a passion