Richard Robert Madden.

The Mussulman (Volume 3) online

. (page 7 of 15)
Online LibraryRichard Robert MaddenThe Mussulman (Volume 3) → online text (page 7 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

him to pull his calpac over his right ear, and to
take care of his left, lest the same misfortune
should happen to the hakkim which did to the
seraph, or money-changer.

The Zantiote said, this was unworthy lan-
guage to apply to physicians in the midst of a


" Take care of yourself, Hawadgi Logotheti,"
replied the all-knowing Chiaous ; " it behoves
you to wear a whole coat ; the smallest rent
might discover the two broad letters on your
back ; no man is born to escape twice from the

There was a general silence. The English
hakkim, to the horror of the assembled faculty,
began to examine the wound with his finger,
and to their still greater horror, to pull round
the patient on his side, and to grope about his
back, where there was no appearance whatever
of a wound. A general murmur of disapproba- .
tion followed ; but when the operator took out
a small knife, and was in the act of cutting into
the back, the whole faculty cried "Murder!""
with one accord. The Chiaous began to brand-
ish his long stick, but the Englishman very
quietly bade him let the gentlemen remain un-
molested ; he did not approve, he said, of arm-
ed soldiers interfering in consultations between
dissenting doctors. He proceeded to cut down
on what he believed to be the ball, and his ope-
ration was attended with success, for to the
astonishment of all present, after a second or


two, he laid the ball on the bed before the eyes
of the faculty. Having dressed the wounds,
and given some directions to the servants, he
took his leave, without appearing to attach any
great importance to the operation he had per-

The consulting physicians at first looked
somewhat disconcerted, but the Paduan set
every thing right, by assuring his colleagues
that nothing was easier than cutting out a ball,
and that any fool was capable of doing as much.

The Hebrew physician, however, who saw
nothing very extraordinary in the account of
Hannibal's mode of melting down the Alps, had
the candour to acknowledge that cutting out a
ball was an easier operation than dissolving it
in the stomach with vinegar and water.



I am sick of this false world : and will love nought
but even the mere necessities upon it.

Timon of Athens.

Bodily suffering is so far incompatible with
mental, that it is impossible for sickness and
sorrow, in any violent degree, to produce two
specific simultaneous actions on the same indi-
vidual. Where either predominate, it reigns
alone ; indeed, were both to exist together,
nature would be unequal to the encounter.
During a tedious convalescence of many weeks,
Mourad had few intervals from pain, to allow
him to think on the past, or to recall the
circumstance which led to his misfortune. A
time there was that " when the brains were out
the man would die;" but in tlie present case


two frightful wounds, each of which looked
deep enough for a death to nature, proved in-
sufficient to give a quietus to the patient. But
with the cessation of the suffering under which
he writhed, came the consciousness of that
sickness of the heart which is beyond the pro-
vince of the physician, and which time only can

The image of Zuleika was eternally before
him ; day and night that pallid spectre of
beauty which he beheld in the palace of the
Bey haunted his imagination ; one moment he
believed it was the phantom of his mistress he
had gazed on ; again the living terror of her
look, as she shuddered at the sight of the blood-
stained sword which trembled in her hand, con-
vinced him he had beheld his beloved Zuleika,
and left no doubt of the reality of his loss.
His emissaries were scattered over the city for
the purpose of gaining some intelligence of the
Delhi who had carried her away from the Bey's
house ; but all that could be learned from the
soldiers of this chief was, that their master had
set out on a pilgrimage to the holy city, and
had left all the women of the harem, save one,


behind him. Mourad needed no ghost from
the ffrave to tell him who that one was ; the
repose of a sick bed was no longer tolerable,
every moment he lost seemed to separate him
still farther from his beloved Zuleika. At
lenffth all the remonstrances of the doctor were
set at defiance, and all the necessary prepara-
tions were made for an immediate departure.

The first use the patient made of his legs was
to wait on the Pacha, to procure leave of ab-
sence for two or three months. The moment
Mohamed Ali set eyes on his young Byn-
bashi, he noticed the sad alteration in his looks,
and, as it is the fashion in Turkey for people
to tell their friends how ill they look as well as
how blooming, his Highness condoled with him
on the great change for the worse that had
taken place in his appearance since he had last
beheld him.

" What !" said he, " is it possible you are
the same young Rustan I saw so lately full of
health and spirits, whose light step would not
have hurt the head of a cowslip ! whose spark-
ling eye glanced defiance at half the world, and
whose vigorous frame seemed to iiave been


formed for re&isting every hardship ! Allah be
good to us ! how soon a young man is brought
down ! That cut of a sabre has not improved
your beauty, but it has given something manly
to that boyish face of yours."

" Neither, may it please your Highness," re-
plied the invalid, " has the bullet which tra-
versed my body been very beneficial to my
health ; but my only consolation is, that I have
received my wounds in the service of the most
generous master in the universe."

" What is the knave going to ask," cried the
Viceroy, in a good-humoured tone, " that he is
anticipating my generosity ? But be the request
what it may, if so poor a Pacha as Mohamed
Ali can satisfy your wishes, you shall not go
away discontented. You have a right to ask
boldly ; your services entitle you to my gra-
titude, though the last of your wounds was
received in your own quarrel, not mine. Like
a good dog, you hunted down the fox that
vexed the shepherd, and your master fed and
fondled you for your pains ; but when you
wrangled with another mongrel for the bones of
your prey, and got bitten in the conflict, you


had no business to whine under the footstool
of your master, as if he had been the occasion
of your disaster. But in whatever service
your hurt has happened, we must see and
make you some amends for it. What would you
have .'' money, rank, or the palace of a bey for
your establishment ?""

" None of them, if it please your Highness,""
rejoined our hero; "the most generous of princes
has lavishsd more money on his servant than he
deserves or needs ; the high station he enjoys is
more than he ever expected to attain ; and as
for an establishment, the slave of the best of
masters is of too low an origin to dream of
trusting the peaceful security of humble life
within the walls of a palace. (The Pacha smiled.)
It is a greater boon than any yet named," con-
tinued Mourad, " which I am about to ask ; it
is no less than your gracious permission to call
a villain to account who has robbed me of more
than life."

" Ha, ha !" cried the Pacha, " stolen your
mistress, I suppose. I do not wonder at your
looking hke Mejnoun. But who is this Leileh of

vor.. III. H


your's ? and what son of a Shitan is he who has
meddled with your peace ?"

" The Dellii Chief," rephed Mourad, " is the
villain I speak of; he who traitorously fired on
me when my back was turned, and who took
advantage of my condition to carry away my
betrothed, my long-lost mistress, even that poor
girl, EfFendi, whose courage in the house of
the mameluke, I have been told, your Highness

" What !" exclaimed the Viceroy, " that
brave girl who stabbed the dog of a soldier to
the heart, the mistress of my young byn-bashi !
Wallah ! this is wonderful ; the bravest man in
my dominions, the lover of the only courageous
woman in the world ! But how came she in
the harem of the bey ? surely your mistress was
not the wife of a mameluke .'*'"

" Min Allah !"" cried our hero, "Heaven forbid
she was the wife of any man ! How she came to
be found in the harem of this bey, I cannot tell,
but her arrival in this country, I have reason to
believe, could not have been many days pre-
vious to the destruction of the enemies of AHah
and your Highness. The cursed Delhi who


has heaped all these ashes on my head, and
brought desolation on my heart, is now on his
way to the blessed city : I have reason to know
he has taken his poor victim with him. Oh !
Effendi, if the humblest of vour servants have
ever found any favour in your sight, if the
most devoted of your subjects have ever shown

any zeal in your service "'

"Enough I" cried Mohamed Ali, inter-
rupting the supplicant ; " would to Allah I
could get rid of all these lawless Delhis with
as much facility as I can of this pious hadgi of
their's ! Pursue him when you will; furnish
yourself with the garb of a Capidgi bashi ; the
secretary will provide you with an order for
his head; and for that bullet he sent through
you, I think I cannot do less than make you
heir to his substance, to assist you in providing
pillows for your new harem."

Mourad cast himself at thefeetof the Viceroy,
he compared his munificence to that of Hatem
Tai, his greatness to Saleddin's, and the glory
of his reign to Haroun El llashid's. After a
thousand {)rotestations of gratitude, he retired,
apparently in higher favour v/ith the Facha

II 2


than he had been before. Accompanied by a
trusty servant, and furnished with the docu-
ment he had been promised, he mounted his
camel and bade adieu to El Masr. It was his
first journey in the desert, the first time he had
found himself in the midst of a wide wilderness,
where nothing was to be seen 'twixt sand and
sky, but rolling waves of burning air arising
from the arid soil ; the first time he had vi-
sited those desolate regions of the earth, where
none, save the descendants of the wild man,
whose hands were lifted against every body's
and every body's against him, are to be found :
where the oppression of the Pacha, the injustice
of the Cadi, the insolence of the soldier, and
the perfidy of all, are not to be feared. Sick-
ened as his soul was with the scenes in which
he had taken so prominent a part, he enjoyed
the solitude of the wilderness more than he
had ever done the society of the world, and he
almost envied the lot of the independent Be-
douin who wandered over the desert at his
pleasure, and had nothing to fear from the
neighbourhood of vice and wickedness; who
pitched his tent under the canopy of heaven,


and had no visit to apprehend from the col-
lector of the taxes, and struck the same awn-
ing when it pleased him to depart, and no ar-
rears of rent to settle with his landlord at his

" By the soul of my father !" cried Mourad,
as he caught a distant view of the black tents of
a Bedouin tribe dotting the white surface of the
desert here and there with specks hardly bigger
to the eye than mole-hills ; " if it were not for
that one beloved object which binds me to the
world, here would I set up my future home,
and never again enter the haunts of men.
Here, at least, would I eat my simple meal of
bread and salt, without mingling the fear of
poison with my food ; enjoy the sweet sleep of
security without the luxury of a Persian car-
pet ; make my wardrobe of an Arab blanket ;
and cease to live in the mortal apprehension of
those cursed bills which are eternally coming
in vmcalled for on all young efFendis." AVhile
he was dwelling on all the advantages of this
simple mode of life, a speck or two appeared in
motion on the sand. The guides turned the
heads of their camels another way, they quick-


eiied their pace, they primed their matchlocks,
ami they talked about selling their lives dearly
to their enemies. The little specks gradually
augmented both in size and numbers, at length
each appeared to assume a human shape, and
in a few minutes a horde of Bedouin robbers
stood abreast of the caravan.

The conductors who had talked of selling
their lives dearly, were employed in beseeching
Mourad to keep his sword in the scabbard, and
not to compromise the safety of all by daring to
offer any resistance. The Bedouins approached
in so peaceable a manner, that it was impossible
to give them other than a friendly greeting;
mutual salaam aleikoums, and manifold enqui-
ries after the health of both parties were ex-
changed, each touched the palm of the other,
and then kissed his fortunate fingers a dozen
times. At length, the conductors of the camels
said they were in a hurry to reach the next well,
and must, therefore, proceed on their journey.
The Bedouins said, God was the father of time,
and there was no occasion to fatigue themselves
and their camels. They begged to know,
(merely to gratify their curiosty,) what things


they carried in their sacks, what money they
had in their purses, and what portion of each
they could conveniently spare to their poor
brothers the Bedouins? Mourad stormed, the
supplicants remained cool ; he swore by every
hair in tlie beard of the Apostle, that an ounce
of his provisions, or a paras of his money should
not be touched ; they simply said, they were
very poor Bedouins (Bedowee mesquin kitir,)
and where were they to look for bread, except
from the stranger who came into their territory ?
If they went into the towns, were they not
forced to pay tribute to the Pacha of the coun-
try ? And if the people of the Pacha came
into their country, why should they not pay
guefFer to the Bedouins, who were the children
of the wilderness, the lineal descendants of
Ishmael ? But they came as brothers, not as
foes, to beg two or three hundred piastres, and
a sack or so of barley, but not to steal them.
Min Allah, God forbid ! Were not all men the
sons of the same mother ? Did not all good
things come from Allah ? and, therefore, had
not all men a right to share their bread with
him who had none ? and, above all, with the


Bedouin, who lived in a poor country, where
there was neither sowing nor reaping. They,
tlierefore, requested the hawadgi to pull o'jt
his purse, merely to take a reasonable beck-
sheesh for the trouble they had had in coming
so far to salaam him.

Mourad, instead of courteously complying
with his request, put his hand to his pistol, and
kept it there, while the Bedouins were so far
forgetful of politeness as to whisper in company,
and to suffer some expression to escape of no
equivocal nature. They terminated their con-
ference by drawing their rusty swords, and bid-
dina: the travellers throw down their arms, and
squat themselves on the sands. To all, save
our hero, there was no need to repeat the com-
mand ; the trembling guides were soon on their
knees calling for mercy, while the hair-brained
young efFendi had the madness to fire on the
robbers, and the misfortune to wound one of
them in the arm. The savage shout which
followed the first effusion of blood, was the
precursor of a general attack. Our hero was
assailed by the entire gang, and, debilitated
as he was by his late sufferings, his resistance


was worse than unavailing ; it only tended
to exasperate his merciless assailants. When
they got him down, several of them drew
their long knives to finish the Avork they had
commenced with the but~end of their guns :
one fellow was already aiming a deadly blow
at the victim, when the chief of the horde
knocked the falHng weapon aside, and asked his
comrades were they mad to cut at the body of
a kafir through such fine clothes as he had on ?
" Have you no consideration," said he, "for such
garments as these ? would you mangle such a
beautiful beneesh as this ? cut through an an-
teree the proudest sheik might not be ashamed
to wear? spoil a white cachemere Avith the
brains of a stupid Turk, and daub a pair
of sherwals, speck and span new, with as
much cloth in the legs of them as will make
trowsers for a whole harem of our women ?
Staffer Allah ! have you no discretion ? are you
like the thick-headed Turks, who have no
sense of propriety, and who hack their enemies
before they strip them? For the sake of your
fathers' beards put up your swords, and act
like Bedouins who have some regard for de-

H 5


corum. Look to the booty, I say, and settle the
price of blood ; but in rifling the bod}', pray
remember the silken clothes of these stupid
effendis do not stand the dragging and hauling
of a fellah's shirt."

The Bedouin robbers endeavoured to show
their chief they had still some sense of decorum
and propriety : they commenced stripping their
victim with the most exemplary gentleness and
coolness ; nothing could be more edifying than
the suavity and mildness with which they
pulled oiF one garment after another, while the
amiable chief folded each in succession, and, as
he did so, said an occasional word about tem-
perance, to repress the laudable anxiety of his
gang to revenge the wound of their companion.

" Kill him by all means," said he, as he tied
up the cachemere turban in a handkerchief,
"but not just yet ; let every thing be done in
order. Take off that leathern belt ; it ought to
be well lined, and so it is ; Allah is most mer-
ciful ! See what is attached to that black
ribbon tied about the neck of the kafir. What!
is the dog alive .? Does he grasp the string ?


Ha ! there is some gem there more precious than
his purse; tear it from the kafir's gripe.''

" Never," cried the prostrate Turk, " while
there is life in me, will I release that object ;
if you be Moslems, strike the blow at once,
and end my misery."

'* The dog talks boldly," exclaimed the chief;
" he does not whine, and weep, and beg his
paltry life like others of his hated race, who
have fallen under our invincible arms: he has
the marks, too, of some wounds on his person,
no trifles in tlieir way ; he has seen swords
gleaming over his head before now ; he has
heard bullets whistling in his ears before yester-
day : Wallah el Nebi, he looks too, pale as he is,
like a courageous kafic. What think you, my
children, if we kill him to-morrow, and not to-
day ? Besides, we shall have time to think what
is best to be done with these miserable Arabs,
these effeminate sojourners in high-walled bel-
leds, in towns and cities."

The robbers were all for dispatching the
Moslem who had the insolence to offer resist-
ance to a Bedouin ; and the man who had been


wounded, more especially insisted on his right
to slay the shedder of blood, who had no means
left to pay the ransom. This was an argument
that the chief had nothing to reply to; the
wounded man had a right to blood, and the
offender had no friend to buy him off'. But
though no expostulations might wrangle the
seal of custom from off" the Arab bond of ven-
geance, the chief hit on a proposition which was
fortunate enough, after a long discussion, to be
accepted by the avenger. He proposed that
the unknown object, which still remained in the
grasp of the Turk, in spite of all the endea-
vours of the troop to wrest it from him, should
fall to his share and be accepted in the stead
of blood money. That the object, however
small, must be of greater value than the purse
of gold which had been taken, the chief said
was evident from the desperate struggle the
young kafir made to retain possession of it :
it must either be a gem of inestimable price,
or a waraga of more virtue than a charm of
Sheik Abdallah's. The eyes of the Bedouin
brightened at the prospect of a prize that might
enable him to live like the lords of the wilder-


ness, to eat butter with his pilau, and drink
coffee after it. His alacrity was so great to
get possession of the prize, that the wound he
made so much noise about was immediately for-
gotten ; he placed his knee on the chest of his
victim, and, seizing on the arm which still
grasped the unknown treasure, he struck him
several blows on the elbow with the back of his
ssvord ; at length, one thrilling knock paralysed
every finger of the jMoslem — the hand fell
motionless from the trinket which had so long
been the object of contention, and in an instant
it was torn from the owner's neck. Nothing
could exceed the impatience of the Bedouin to
undo the piece of scarlet silk which bound the
envelope ; he removed half a dozen satin cover-
ings of various colours in succession, at length
he came to one of finer texture than the others,
ornamented with gold and silver spangles.
"Heaven be propitious !" he exclaimed as he
tore the latter open; the eyes of all his comrades
were fixed on him, his hands trembled so he
could hardly get at the treasure ; at length the
last fold was turned over. Oh Mother of Ma-
homet, what did he behold ! — a rose-bud and


a lily bound together by a tress of hair ! For
several minutes he stood bewildered, ffazinjr on
the withered flowers which lay on his extended
palm. At length a shout of laughter recalled
him to a full sense of his disappointment ; he
flung away the worthless object which had
caused him so much disappohitment, seized his
pinioned victim by the throat, and would have
dispatched him on the spot had it not been for
the interference of his comrades. The loud
laughter of the Bedouins would have scandalized
any Mussulman community in the wide world,
except tliat of the wilderness. Good humour
was elicited, the captive had nothing farther to
fear from his enemies, the chief even condescend-
ed to assist to set him on his feet. He then
threw him a blanket, which he assured him was
infinitely less cumbersome than the habiliments
he had parted with ; another gave him a hand-
kerchief for a head dress^ and a third had the
generosity to bind it with a black worsted roller
which he had taken from his own turban.

" Wallah el Nebi !" cried the chief, " he will
make a brave Bedouin : he wants nothing; but
a gun to make him a hero.'' And with these


words he slung his own matchlock ovei" hus
shoulder, taking good care first to remove the

Mourad followed the chief to the tents ; he
ventured to enquire for his guides and servant,
and was informed they had been suffered to
escape during the time he had the folly to dream
of retaining possession of the object which had
occupied the attention of the whole party.



When the fallen pillars of our tents quiver over our
furniture, even then we defend our tribe from the im-
pending ruin. Amru.

MoURAD was taken to the chiefs own tent;
its dimensions were greater than those of any
other in the camp, but its furniture was as sim-
ple as that of the poorest Bedouin''s, and nothing-
indicated any superiority of rank but the ap-
pearance of two Arab horses picketed at the
entrance. The tent was divided into two apart-
ments by a sackcloth screen ; that on the left
being the chamber of the harem, which con-
sisted of two wives and as many slaves, whose
province it was to grind the corn, to take care
of the poultry, and to attend to the culinary
department. The other apartment was the


common divan, where the chief received his
visitors ; but the soirees over which he presided
every evening were held on the outside of the
tent immediately opposite the door. The fur-
niture of the divan consisted of a mat, a pray-
ing carpet that had been probably stolen from
some poor pilgrim, three or four prepared sheep
skins for holding water, and one for churning
milk, a large copper boiler for dressing rice, and
a hand-mill for grindino; corn. The tent of the
Bedouin was the place for Socrates to have made
the observation, " Of all the things in this great
world, how few do I require I""^

While Mourad was kept in suspense as to his
fate, he had leisure to form a very different
opinion of the Bedouins from that which he
possessed a few minutes before he encountered
them in the desert. So far from being a happy
independent race, subject to no tyranny, liable
to no despotism, he found them a disunited,
miserable people, slaves of their patriarchal

1 2 3 4 5 7 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Online LibraryRichard Robert MaddenThe Mussulman (Volume 3) → online text (page 7 of 15)