Edward Maitland.

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University of Illinois Library

FEB 26

AUG 14 I3?I

C>^ IH



Llol— H-il







Jlu historical gomiturc of the Jutuvc.



In those days shall "

Ancient Prophecy .

VOL. n.



{All Rights Reserved. '\



BOOK II. {Conti?med.)


N the anticipation of his

birthday, Criss had matter enough
for thought, while pursuing his
journey homeward, for he knew that
he was then to be put in possession of his
history and parentage so far as they were
known, and be called upon to determine his
career. But his mind refused to dwell upon
auo^ht save the face which he recognised as
at once the face of the bride-anorel and of the


fair child he had rescued from the wreck, and
left crying passionately at his departure. No
matter whether he flew hieh or low ; whether
he swooped toward earth, so near as to catch



the voices of his fellowmen ; or soared to-
ward heaven, where he was wont to hold
sweet intercourse with his spiritual kinsfolk,
nothing seemed to him to be the same as it
had been before. He felt as an invalid, into
whose darkened chamber a single errant sun-
beam has forced its way, not to cheer, but to

Soon the waters of Lake Tchad opened
their wide expanse to his view. The sight
recalled him to the fears he had heard uttered
respecting the disturbed political state of the
country. He had an idea of descending to
the capital to obtain information, for his new
friends, the settlers in Atlantika, were very
uneasy on the subject. They considered
themselves in danger.

On approaching the city, he perceived a
commotion. People and troops were in rapid
movement. Smoke and flames were rising
from some of the principal buildings. In
place of descending at once, he decided
to approach only near enough to obtain in-
formation as to what was going on. On per-
ceiving him, the multitude sent up a great
cry. He paused a few score feet over their

BY AyD BY. 3

heads, and let down a cord with a label
appended, bearing the words, " Any mails
for Europe ?" as was the custom with air-

A message was sent up, saying that no
mails were ready ; that there was a revolu-
tion in Soudan ; that the Emperor had dis-
appeared, and that a large sum was offered
for his capture. It was his palace that was
in flames. But the accompanying newspapers
would tell all the news, the principal item of
which was the establishment of a republic.
No further disturbance was expected, unless
the Emperor should return with a force.
The republic meant peace, economy, and fra-

Criss continued his journey re-assured.
Soon the vast and fertile alluvial tracts began
to give place to patches of sand ; the growing
temperature of the blasts of hot air which
now continually assailed him, told him that
he was approaching a region which not even
modern skill and enterprise had attempted to
redeem from its ancient reproach of being the
most arid and baneful region in the world —
the vast and dreaded Sahara, dreariest por

I — 2

4 . BY AND BY.

tlon of the dreary waste that stretches from
the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf. It opened
upon him now, the sandy ocean of the
illimitable desert, whose ceaseless and burn-
ing billows none could traverse, save at the
risk of belne overwhelmed and scorched to
death. A curse to Itself, and a curse to two
continents, whose climate it marred, pitilessly
mocking man's longing for more of the fair
earth on which to rear homes for his children,
the Sahara bade defiance alike to the plough,
the railway, and the canal, and seemed even
to resent the passage above it of the swift-
wineed aeromotlve of our times ; for it
whirled far aloft columns of fine sand, which
blinded the aeronaut and clogged the delicate
works of his machinery. "Why," thought
Criss, as he began to recognise the influences
of this mysterious region, " why did not the
subterranean forces of the earth heave it a
few hundred feet higher, and give man
another continent for his use, or leave it a
few hundred feet lower, and give him another
sea ? Was it as a perpetual challenge to man,
to prove his impotence or his puissance, that
nature had bequeathed him such a legacy ?"


Criss has got far Avithin the Hmlts of the
dreaded desert, when morning breaks. The
night has been perfectly calm, and the air is
clear and free from dust. Fascinated and
attracted by the place and its reputation, he
flies low and leisurely along. A sea of sand !
Surely it must be the watery ocean itself that
rolls beneath him, boiling and bubbling in
vast blue billows, as far as the eye can
reach. He descends towards it to examine
the phenomenon more closely. The air be-
comes hotter as he does so, but there is not
a breath of wind to account for the motion of
the billows, which he sees rolling over and
over each other as if propelled upwards from
beneath. The red sun rises, and straightway
the tossing ocean beneath him mingles crim-
son and gold with its blue, as he has never
known the ocean of waters to do, nor even
the clouds of the air over which he has been
wont to ride. He arrests his downward
course, but the many-coloured billows seem
to rise towards him.. Already he descries
their gleams and sprays shooting past him.
Now the billows themselves are around and
above him. He is engulphed, and yet he


breathes freely. Ah ! It is a mirage of the
desert that welcomes him to the heart of the

It is impossible to judge how far he is
from the ground. He does not suppose that
the phenomenon extends to any great height,
and having ascertained its nature, he prepares
to re-ascend. But a sound catches his ears,
a sound of tearing and rending, followed by
harsh cries of terror, pain, and despair.
Listening intently, he ascertains that the place
whence the sounds proceed Is not stationary,
for sometimes It is nearer to him than at
others ; but In no case many rods from him.
While thus listening, and scarcely heeding
his machine, he feels beneath him the touch
as of soft yielding ground. The Ariel stops
erect, and Criss, standing up In his car, calls
aloud, m English, —

'* Does anyone want help ?"

He pauses and listens, but there is no
reply. Again he cries, this time, remember-
ing where he Is, In Arabic, —

"■ If anyone wants help, let him speak."

An answer came, rapidly and eagerly ; and


apparently from one so close to him as to
make him look quickly round. But nothing
was visible through the mist of the mirage.
The reply was in the pure Arabic spoken by
the better classes in Soudan. Criss readily
interpreted it.

'' Say first who offers help. Of what na-
tion ?"

" English," replied Criss.

" English for certain, and no Bornouse ?"

'' An English and a true man, for certain,"
replied Criss ; " a traveller on the way back
to London from South Africa."

" You speak my language almost too well
for me to trust you," was the response. "Say,
how are you travelling ?"

'' Alone, and in my own car — an electro-
magnetic flying machine. But what and
w^herefore do you fear ?"

" I do not fear. You cannot be Bornouse,
for they know not the use of such machines.
I am a fugitive from the insurrection, and am
injured ; and there may be pursuers on my

There was plenty of light, and the speakers
were close together, but they were still in-


visible to each other. Their voices sounded
strange and hollow, through the dense and
laden air. Criss learnt that the sufferer had
fallen while endeavouring to cross the Sahara
in an old-fashioned aeromotive, in the use of
which he had but little skill. He had been
badly wounded before, and now was still
more crippled by his fall, and by the struggles
of the machinery while expending its power.

Finding him still reluctant, and knowing
the danger a desert-storm would have for his
apparatus, Criss said,

" You must decide at once. Either allow
me to serve you, or say farewell."

" I shall perish miserably if left here," was
the answer, in a somewhat pettish tone.

*' Can worse befall you through me, who-
ever I may be ?" asked Criss.

" I will trust you," answered the voice ;
*' but how are you to find me ?"

" Leave that to me," said Criss ; " but da
not stir from where you are."

" Alas ! I cannot move any more ; for my
machine is exhausted, and I too am faint-


Had there been any holding ground, Criss


would have secured the Ariel against the
chances of any wind that might arise, and
stepped out, holding a string to serve as clue
by which to find it again. This being out of
the question, he leaned over and drove a
stake as far as he could into the yielding
sand, fastened to it one end of a long cord,
and then made the Ariel move slowly to the
other end of it. During this process, the
two men spoke at intervals, in order to as-
certain their distance and direction from each

" You are going quite away from me," said
the stranger, in a feeble and querulous tone,
as Criss reached the end of his line.

'' I shall soon be nearer," said Criss, de-
lighted to find that the length of his cord
was sufficient to make so easily appreciable a
difference in their distance. " I have got my
centre and my distance now, and am about
to describe a circle with them. Keep quiet,
and directly the string catches you, let me

A few moments more, and the manoeuvre
was successful. The line caught against the
crippled aeromotive, and Criss drawing it in.


came close up to It. The two men could now
see each other distinctly. The stranger was
a fine-looking man, apparently of mixed race,
between fifty and sixty years of age, and
richly dressed.

" You do not look English," he remarked,
after a keen scrutiny of Criss's face.

" I believe -it is only in blood that I am
not English," said Criss ; '' but now let me
examine your wounds ?"

''Not now, not now. I want to get further
from danger. Can you carry me to a place
of safety ?"

'* I can carry you, but not your baggage,"
said Criss ; '' but I assure you that you are
too far out in the desert to be discovered.
None could see us, if they tried. My light-
ing upon you is so extraordinary a coincidence
that it is not likely to be repeated. It is true,
w^e might telegraph to them, but none can
telegraph to us, for none know where we

And he insisted upon examining his

The stranger, who was evidently a man
of distinction, and accustomed to exercise


authority, could not repress an expression of
amused surprise at the kindly imperious way
in which this youth took command of him,
and directed his movements.

" One leg broken," said Criss, '' and one
arm ; a bad wound in the head, and several
bruises on the body."

" Those are all from the fall," said the
stranger. " Flying machines are prohibited
in Soudan. The people are too barbarous to
be trusted with them. I alone possessed one,
an old one, which I kept secretly against
emergencies, but I have little skill In using
it. Yet I think I should have got safely in
it to the fortress of Asben. where I have
friends, but for the wounds received In the
insurrection, which prevented me from manag-
ing it aright. But look at my left side, just
below the ribs — I feel a hurt there."

'' A small bullet wound," said Criss, ex-
amining the part Indicated; ''but It has ceased
to bleed. It Is impossible for me to find
Asben, or any other place In the desert In
this mist. Even were I to ascend to the
clear sky and take an observation, I should
inevitably lose the position on coming down


again. Besides, in such times the loyalty
even of your friends in Asben may be dubious,
I propose, therefore, that you let me take you
to Algiers. I have friends there, of whom
one is a first-rate doctor. When you are
well, I will take you to any place you

The stranger assented ; but on endeavour-
ing to move into the Ariel, he nearly fainted
with pain and weakness. Criss then ad-
ministered a cordial. It was only with con-
siderable difficulty that the change was at
length effected.

''Is there anything here of small bulk that
you wish to take ?" asked Criss, pointing to
the bao^o^ao^e.

" They contain Httle beside wine and pro-
visions. I have enough about me to pay
any moderate expenses for some little time to

And he looked wistfully at Criss, as if to
divine his disposition respecting the laws of

" There, one or two of those little boxes
may as well come with us," he said, carelessly
indicating the packages in question. " They



will not materially add to your burden, and it
would be a pity to leave all my little knick-
nacks to be buried in the sand."

They were ready to start, and Criss looked
around him. So intent had they both been
upon personal matters, that they had not ob-
served the change that had taken place.
Criss was startled at beholding the new
aspect which nature had assumed in the last
few minutes.

The mirage had entirely vanished, and
from the somewhat elevated position on which
the Ariel was resting, — the summit of a huge
sandy roller, — happily for the present at rest
until the wind should give it a fresh impetus
on its ever west^vard course towards the At-
lantic, — the vast desert lay spread around
them, an illimitable ocean of sand. The
spectacle struck vividly upon Criss's unfa-
miliar eyes. There was a beauty in it which
he had not suspected, but of a kind to
make him shudder at its absolute desolate-

" Surely, surely," he murmured as he gazed,
'* this Is not what was meant by the promise


that there should be no more sea ! Fancy
the whole earth thus !"

" Praying ? and with your back to the
East ?" asked the stranger, who had not caught
Criss's words.

When they were well aloft, and on their
course, Crlss told him his thought.

*' You know and can quote our Bible, and yet
say you are English ? Why, I have always
understood that the English were a nation
of infidels, who had banished the Bible from
their land."

'' On the contrary," said Criss, " we con-
sider no education complete that does not
include a knowledge of it. Though it is true
we do not regard it as a Fetich, to be adored
but not comprehended. That we should call

'' Superstition ? Ah, yes, you English, I
know, look upon my people as superstitious.
We regard you as irreligious."

'' Besides," added Criss, " I believe I have
both Hebrew and Greek blood in me. So
that I have a manifold right to know some-
thing of the literature of those languages."

" I knew there was something Eastern in


you the moment I saw you," exclaimed the
wounded man. '' And I felt there was a link
between us. I, too, have Hebrew blood in
me. I am descended from — " And here he
stopped, and appeared to be faint from the
pain and exhaustion.

" You came across Bornou," he asked, sud-
denly. " Did you hear what was going on at
the capital ?"

Criss told him that he only paused for a
moment, to offer to take mails, and that they
told him the Emperor had disappeared. The
palace, too, was in flames.

*' Oh, those cursed traitors," muttered the
fugitive ; '' but I shall be avenged. In vain
will they seek for that which they desire."

And his faintness came over him again.

After another dose of the cordial, he said,

*' I am. weaker even than I thouo^ht. When
can we reach a city ? And are you sure
Algiers is the best place for me ?"

Criss told him that a few hours more would
bring them there, and that it had been famous
as a sanitarium ever since the old French oc-
cupation. He proposed, too, to place him in
the hands of a doctor of whose skill he was


well aware, and under the protection of the
British Minister, who was a great personal
friend of his own. Criss added also that he
himself would have to proceed almost at once
to England, when he had seen him properly
cared for.

" You will leave me !" exclaimed the
stranger. " Will anything Induce you to
remain ? I can reward you — indeed !"

'' It is impossible," said Criss ; " but If ne-
cessary, I can return, and that soon."

'' I dread the intrigues of my enemies. If
they learn where I am. I have never been
friendly with the Mediterranean States."

" Our Minister is all powerful. Besides,
he will do anything for me."

*' You speak as if you were somebody, and
had Influence, and were not a mere courier."

'' Every Englishman is Somebody, whether
he be courier or not," replied Criss ; '' but I
am not a courier." And he gave the stranger
an outline of his history.

'' What Is your age ?" he asked.

Criss told him he was going home to com-
plete his majority.

*' And your name ?"


Criss told him.

" Can there be another of that name ?"

" Certainly not," Criss said, and told him
generally how he came to be so called.

He sank back, murmuring,

" Christmas Carol ! twenty - one years !
Christmas Carol ! Wonderful are the ways
of the Almighty !"

A little longer, and Criss, enlisting the
sympathies of his friends the Minister and
the doctor, had fulfilled all his promises to
his unfortunate passenger. He then went to
take his leave. The fuorltive made no further
effort to detain him, but Implored a promise
that he would return to him If possible ; and
added —

"■ I know not whether I shall recover. I\Iy
Impression Is that I shall not. If I do not, I
adjure you to observe as a last injunction of
the sacred dead, what I am about to say to
you. You see this small packet. None but
you must know of its contents. I will place
your name upon it. If the rebellion In Sou-
dan fails, present It to the Emperor. It will
win for you whatever consideration Is within

VOL. II. 2


his power to show. Yet It is not for reward,
but as the sacredest duty, that you will do
this. Should the rebellion succeed, and the
Empire not be restored, the contents are — .
But I will leave directions in writing.'^

Criss said that he would fulfil the injunction
to the letter ; and the stranger declared him-
self content. There was that about the youth
which Inspired a confidence which no protes-
tations could have produced. When he
started for London the packet was already
entrusted to the British Minister. The ac-
count given him of the patient by the doctor,
determined him to lose no time in returning
again to Algiers.


time was Christmas Eve ; the
place, Lord Avenil's private rooms
in The Triancfle. The followinof
morninof would see Criss of aee,
and in possession of his fortune. Avenil
and Bertie differed as to the feelings with
which their ward would receive the intelli-
gence about to be broken to him. The event
proved that they were both right, and both
wrong. The old lawyer who had from the
first been entrusted with the legal part of the
business, was present ; as also, of course, was
Criss, but two days arrived from Algiers.

During dinner, Criss recounted his recent
adventures, making the wreck and the rescue
of Nannie, and the subsequent flight over
the length of Africa the most prominent

2 — 2


After dinner they proceeded to business.
The lawyer first read aloud a brief narrative
of the finding of Criss In the balloon on the
iceberg. He knew something of this before,
but the reference to his probable parents and
descent, possessed for him an interest that
was ^ever fresh and vivid. He was much
touched on learning that the proceeds of
the valuables found in the balloon had been
regarded as belonging to himself, the only
surviving occupant, and so scrupulously hus-
banded for his benefit, that the finder, Bertie,
had continued to work hard for his own liv-
ing, accepting nothing out of Criss's fortune
beyond what had actually been expended on

The particulars of the fortune itself formed
the last Item. One deduction, the lawyer
remarked, might appear large, and doubtless it
was so. This was for the item of taxation.
But It was not large when they considered
the advantage given in return for It, in the
shape of perfect protection. The fiscal
system of the country being based, as It had
long been, exclusively upon realised property,
in order to remove, as far as possible, all


burdens from Industry and earnings, fortunes
such as that before them bore the chief
brunt of taxation. If their young friend had
included among his studies the history of
British Economics, he must know that
nothlnof had tended so much towards the
security of property, as the Introduction of
such a measure. For It reconciled the indus-
trial classes, which form the great bulk of
the community, to the accumulation by indi-
viduals of the gigantic fortunes for which
modern times were distlnofulshed. In the
foremost ranks of such fortunate Individuals
he had the great pleasure of reckoning their
ward and friend, Mr. Christmas Carol. *' And
for fear," he concluded, " you should think I
have made a mistake, and said thousands
when I ought to have said hundreds, and
millions when I ought to have said thousands ;
here are the figures for you to read yourself.
Here also. In this casket, are some of the
smaller jewels which belong to you, for it was
not thought necessary or advisable to dispose
of the whole of them." And he placed the
document In Criss's hands.

Even Bertie was startled at the total, for


though aware of the original amount, he had
not thought of the enormous addition which
would be made by allowing it to accumulate
at compound interest for nearly twenty-one

Criss took the document mechanically, but
did not look at it. His eyes were bent upon
the ground, as if he were endeavouring by a
process of intense cogitation to grasp the
whole subject. At length he looked up, and
said, —

" I am very glad indeed to be so rich, and
most grateful to you to whom I owe it all.
Indeed, I look upon it as a debt, and not as
a possession. It is yours far more than mine,
and I hold It as a free gift, to be resumed at
your pleasure, and spent as you approve.
But I want to be your debtor for one kind-
ness more. I want no one else to know of
it. I feel that it is only by keeping it a
profound secret that I can use this wealth as
it can best be used. Let me pass through
the world known simply as Criss Carol, with
a tolerable independence, otherwise I feel
that both my power and my satisfaction will
be seriously imperilled."


The old lawyer was the first to speak.
After looking towards Avenil and Bertie, and
seeing that neither of them were ready, he
said, with that bland smile which appears to
have been an appanage of lawyers ever
since, according to the old legend, the first
one put his foot into Eden, —

" I suspect that the difficulty of keeping
your secret will not be on our part so much
as on your own, my dear young sir. My
own impression is, that a young man might
as well expect to walk about with Mount
Vesuvius under his arm in a state of erup-
tion, and expect people not to notice it, as to
keep all this gold hidden from view."

'' At any rate," remarked Bertie, '' we will
do our best to hold our tons^ues, until vou
release us ; eh, Avenil ?"

" Of course, if Criss soberly and seriously
insists upon secrecy," replied Avenil. " But
I suspect his is only the natural reluctance
everyone has to being made the subject of
scrutiny and observation while in a position
in which he does not yet feel himself at
home. A little later I think and hope he
will learn that the mere fact of a man being


known to be In the possession of a great
faculty or power for good, and therefore that
great things are expected from him, is calcu-
lated to operate admirably as a stimulus.
Now I, my dear boy, have ventured already
to cherish plans for you. Your fortune con-
stitutes an engine of enormous power, so-
cially and politically, if you choose so to
apply it. And that power is as vastly in-
creased by its existence being generally known,
as the power of capital is increased by credit.

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Online LibraryEdward MaitlandBy and by : an historical romance of the future (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 14)