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   Chapter 1 BUTHEITA.

Mohammed Ali and His House By L. Muhlbach Characters: 35094

Updated: 2017-11-29 00:02


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

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

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

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

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

But what can he do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"How do you know that? So am I called by the Bedouins who are my father's subjects. Yes, they are very respectful to their sheik's daughter, and call me Queen of the Desert. They sometimes say," continued she, smiling: "'Her countenance shines like the sun, enkindling in flames the hearts of all who approach her.' I, however, hold myself aloof from them, and do not listen to what they say, else my father would become angry, and would deprive me of my liberty to roam about as I please. And now you know all, stranger, and know why I may no

t kiss you, though I would gladly do something to please the poor prisoner; but I have promised this to my father and to myself. Therefore, no more of this. Here we must halt. Look at the sublime image that stands there so grandly, and throws its black shadow far out over the yellow sand. That is the true Queen of the Desert. Let me turn the animal so that you can see our queen."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He looks at her in astonishment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He bowed his head in silence. "You are right, Butheita, forgive me! I submit to the will of the desert queen; I am your slave, and await your commands; command me, and I will humbly obey."

He looked at her inquiringly. Butheita's large black eyes gazed at him with a soft expression, and again a tremor agitated her gentle being.

"I desire nothing more, sarechsme," said she, timidly, "than that you remain here in the rear apartment of the tent, and I beg you, should any one come, to remain here quietly; as it is that place generally reserved for women, no one will dare to enter it. I dwell in it alone, for my father is not fond of women! He says they are talkative and quarrelsome, vain and lazy, too, and he has had enough of them. Twelve wives has he brought to his tent, one after the other, but after a short time he sent every one of them home to her father. I am the daughter of his first wife, and my father loves me more than he has ever loved any of them; and he wants no woman in his tent but his Butheita. Nor do I wish to have any other woman here. I can attend to father's household affairs quite well, alone. I milk the goats, make the butter, and bake the bread. I also spin the wool of our black sheep, and still have plenty of time left to knit the shawls my father needs."

"So industrious, Butheita? Happy and enviable will the man be who shall some day lead your father's daughter to his home!"

"You need not envy him," said she, quickly, "there will be no such man. It is with me as with my father; he loves only me, and I only him. No man shall ever lead me to his tent as his wife!"

"Butheita will say that until she loves some man," replied Mohammed, looking deeply into her eyes. "Would Butheita one day follow me to my tent-me?"

She did not reply. She drew back in alarm, and again she blushed deeply, quite unlike a child of the desert, but after the fashion of a city girl, and drew aside the curtain that divided the tent.

"I am only going to prepare your breakfast."

He did as she had requested, and retired to the second apartment of the tent, to patiently await Butheita's return. There he sat absorbed in thought, seemingly forgetful that he was the sarechsme, Mohammed Ali, and a captive, for a happy smile rested on his lips. His thoughts were beyond the sea, in the distant Cavalla. Whom did he see there? It seems to him that Masa, stands before him with her large soft eyes, and sweet smile; and Masa's image is strangely interwoven with that of the Bedouin-child, Butheita. The two fair forms were blended, and it did not displease him. Yet another face is there. It regards him with a grave yet kindly expression. It is not the face of a young girl; sweet and youthful fresh ness and love are not in its features, and yet it is a loved face, that of his wife Ada, the mother of his children. No, he has not forgotten her! How could it be possible after living side by side in peace and harmony for almost ten years! How could it be possible to forget her who had given him three loved lives? Ah, his beloved boys, how his heart yearns after them! Yet his heart yearns for her too, for his wife.

For almost ten years this quiet-loving woman has sat by his side, and he will never put her away from him, never for get her, the mother of his children. Years pass rapidly, but a man's heart does not grow old. A man's heart is ever young, ever fresh for a new love, and every love seems to him to be the first.

If Butheita were not the daughter of a Bedouin chieftain, but a Georgian or Circassian slave, he would give for her all the riches he possesses ; the beautiful house and furniture given him by Cousrouf Pacha. He would make her his wife, cost what it might. "I thank you, O Mohammed, thou great prophet, who, reading the heart of man, allows him to have four wives. I would Butheita were my second wife."

The curtain of the tent is drawn aside, and Butheita enters, a wooden waiter in her hand. All that she has to set before her guest, the beautiful dates and bananas, the black bread, the butter, all are nicely arranged on the waiter, which she now smilingly deposits at the feet of her guest.

"Now seat yourself on the mat, beloved guest, and refresh yourself with what poor Butheita has to offer you. Pray take the bread and break it; and let us eat it together in token that we are friends, and that you are sacred to me."

"And you are sacred to me," replies Mohammed, gravely, as he takes up the black bread and breaks it. Together they eat of it, and then sit down beside each other, and refresh themselves with Butheita's daintily arranged fruits and goat's milk. Butheita tells him in her charming way of her housekeeping, of her sheep and goats, and how glad they were when she returned.

Mohammed has forgotten his ambitious plans, all the thousand wishes that agitated his heart at other times. For the moment he is once more the boy of Cavalla, communing with Nature in innocence and joyousness, for to him Butheita's fair form now represents Nature. It is not indeed Nature itself that charms him, but Nature's fair daughter, Butheita. He must and will resist the charm, for he has now broken bread, and eaten fruit with her. He is her guest, and he must hold his young hostess sacred.

He forces himself to assume a grave manner, and directs his thoughts to turn from her fair presence and occupy themselves with the events that have taken place, and the great wrong done him. Perhaps at this moment a battle is raging on the plain of Damanbour, and Youssouf Bey is perhaps Victorious over the Mamelukes. What will his fate be in that case? will not the defeated enemy avenge themselves cruelly on him? But if, on the other hand, Youssouf has been routed and put to flight, then woe to you alike, Mohammed! Youssouf will then complain of him to Cousrouf Pacha, and he will be accused of treason-yes, of treason, if he does not confess that he is a prisoner. But, if he confesses this, he will become the laughing- stock of the whole army. Yes, in Butheita's presence all that was painful and disagreeable in his position had been forgotten. Now he endeavors to force his thoughts to consider these things. Away with thoughts of thee, Queen of the Desert!

He rises from the mat, and thanks his hostess for the repast in set phrases, and with a cold manner; he begs her to pay no attention to him, and not to allow herself to be disturbed in her household occupations by him. Butheita looks at him with astonishment-an expression of offended pride in her countenance.

"You desire to be alone, stranger? I can well understand that my foolish words annoy you. I will leave you alone, sarechsme. I see well you are a proud man, and it does not seem proper to you to be alone with a Bedouin's daughter long. I can not prevent it; forgive me. I will attend to my household affairs, as you suggest. I rely on your promise, stranger, not to leave the inner apartment."

"You can rely on my word," said he, earnestly. "I am your prisoner, your slave. I am so more completely than you think."

A charming smile again lights up her brown countenance. With a joyous nod of her head, she bounds out of the tent.

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