Originally via, Currently from Cat Yronwode.
Simon Iff Abroad
The sun broke violent over a harsh blue-grey line of hills,
and his beam shot through a ragged gap to strike the face of
Lord Juventius Mellor. "Damnation!" cried the boy. He had
overslept himself again. He might be the son of a duke, but
he was also the disciple of Simon Iff; and there was Simon
Iff quietly rising from the posture of meditation to greet
the dawn. "Hail!" he cried, in those great words that have
come down to us from countless centuries of Egyptian kings
and priests. "Hail unto Thee who art Ra in thy rising, even
unto Thee who art Ra in they strength, that travellest over
the heavens in thy bark at the uprising of the Sun! Tahuti
standeth in his splendor at the prow, and Ra Hoor abideth at
the helm; hail unto Thee from the abodes of night!"
And Simon Iff had bidden him to be most particular not to
neglect the dawn-meditation. Now it was already hot.
But Simon Iff was busy kindling the fire. It was a great
meal. The old man had got a gazelle on the previous
evening, and there were steaks. There were dried dates, and
Garibaldi biscuits, and fried rice; and there was real
Turkish coffee such as no millionaires can buy. Moreover
there was the best sauce, the best sauce of the proverb, for
Simon Iff and his disciple had come eighty miles across the
desert in two days. They had no attendants; Simon was just
about to start on what he called a Great Magical Retirement,
which involved finding a place where there was absolutely
nobody at all, and that is not easy, even if you go to the
Sahara. However, another twenty miles would bring them to
Ouled Djellal, from which village they could probably find
the road to Nowhere.
Breakfast was not a tedious festival; there were no
newspapers to read. Only, while smoking 'the earliest pipe
of half-awakened birds' as he sometimes called it, when
feeling not so good, he traced various signs in the sand
with a curious carved walking stick which he was wont to
carry. "It will be a hot day, Ju," he prophesied
cheerfully; "We meet a horse and an ass, we find a house.
There is a woman; the day ends with trouble."
"Already," said Juventius, who had eyes like a hawk or an
Arab, "I see the horse and the ass." Indeed, on the horizon
appeared a cloud of dust, with a speck in front of it which
might have been anything. Simon Iff looked. "There's a man
on a horse," he said. "Probably," remarked Lord Juventius
quietly, "the man is an ass."
"Oh, discredit to your puff-adder mother, and shame to the
burnt bones of your unknown father," replied Simon with
asperity, "you can make a fool of the aged adept, but you
cannot fool the Lord's Overseers who inspect the
punch-clocks of young brethren. What, may I be permitted to
ask, was the subject of the dawn-meditation?"
They were already well on their way. Simon Iff, as his vow
bade him, recited continuously the Chapter of the Unity from
the Qu'ran: "Say thou, Allah is One; Allah is eternal; nor
hath He Son, Equal, or Companion." And after every
recitation he bowed himself to the earth. He had to do this
1001 times a day, in 11 series of 91, because 91 is the
numeration of the Great Name Amen, and is seven times
thirteen; the eleven series made it efficacious, because
Eleven is the Number of True Magick. This was merely his
practice, medicine-ball stuff; when he settled down he would
use what Mohammedan Sheikhs declare to be "A Great Word to
become mad and run about naked." And when he had cried this
without intermission day and night until the desired result
had occurred, his disciple would look after him with unusual
care till he came out of the trance, which was usually a
matter of a week or two; and then they would go back swiftly
to syphilization, and plunge into secret diplomacy, with
crime-detection as a diversion.
His first series was over. "But who is this," he cried,
"that cometh forth in the wilderness from the tents of
Kedar? Is it the Sultan of the Ivory City, or the Lord of
the Mountains of Bronze?"
"It is certainly a considerable cavalcade," returned the
boy, "but the man on horseback looks to me like a
"Another series should elucidate our bewilderment."
But Simon had already started his eternal Qol Hua Allahu
Achad and the rest of it.
"The world's all rose and blue and yellow," mused the boy,
"except ourselves, in white, and yonder rider in black. The
universe needs its shadows, I suppose; let me see. Letter
in Defence of the Clergy. How should I start? H'm. Analogy
from Whistler, who used black as a harmonizer--black but
comely--the Black Prince. Yes, by Jove, it is a
missionary--and the Queen of Sheba, to judge by the camels."
They came upon the man of God just as he halted for
breakfast. It was a very different affair to Simon Iff's;
four servants hustled in its preparation. According to
custom, Iff gave the desert salutation, and would have
passed; but the missionary was astonished to see two
Europeans in Arab clothes, walking unattended. "Here, you
fellows," he called in bad French, "come here! Who are you?"
Simon Iff went across very briskly as if he were repelling
an attack at the charge. But he spoke very humbly. This is
Lord Juventius Mellor, sir," he said, "and I am his servant.
"Delighted to meet you, your Grace," cried the missionary,
ignoring Iff, and running eagerly to the young man. "I
think I had the pleasure of preaching before your Grace's
father, three years ago, at Bellows Falls."
"Sorry," returned the disciple, "but that was not my father;
it was Virgil Abishag Curtiss; they sent him up the river
"Dear me, how very, very sad! But won't you partake, your
Grace, of the frugal hospitality of a poor servant of our
dear Lord and Master?"
"We have just breakfasted, but we shall be glad to take a
cup of coffee with you." One must never refuse hospitality
in the Sahara; to do so is a Declaration of War.
"And are these all your camels?" asked Lord Juventius, after
having falsely explained that he was consumptive and had
come on this walking tour as his last chance.
"They are," smirked the minister. "The Lord has been
pleased to bless my efforts greatly."
Offerings of grateful converts?"
"Alas, the converts are but few. There seems a lack of
understanding in this people: truly said Esaias."
"They accuse you of multiplying gods, don't they?"
"Indeed, that is the substance of the difficulty. Only the
Holy Ghost can prepare their hearts to receive our dear Lord
"Have you three gods or five?"
"Ah, your Grace refers to the Papists! I am from the
American Baptist Mission."
"Splendid, splendid! I have often longed to meet one of you
hero martyrs. Have you gleaned long in the Lord's field?"
"Twelve years in Africa, my dear young Grace."
"You are going home now?"
"Only for a season. Candidly and frankly, I have heard the
call of China. The teeming millions! The perishing
"That is a long way off."
"For our dear Lord and Master, I would go further yet."
"Indeed I humbly trust it may be so," interrupted Simon
piously. Juventius smiled sweetly and continued. "But how
many converts have you made here?" The good man's face fell.
"As I told your Grace, there is a certain difficulty--an
obstacle to the Grace of God, as it were, so to speak."
"But you hope for better luck in China?"
"Indeed, yes; your Grace will observe that we have a means
which we use with the Chinese; we find so many many slaves
to the Opium Habit. And we cure them. That gives us a
claim on their gratitude and so prepares the way for their
"How do you cure them?" asked Iff, suddenly. He knew China
as he did his own house.
"We administer morphia, in what seems to us suitable doses.
That helps greatly, for of course only converts can be
supplied with morphia."
"Excuse me," said Simon, "but I knew a man who got left
badly in China once. I hope you aren't going out there
without a hard and fast contract with the Drug Ring."
"Indeed not, my bood fellow; I should guess not."
"Quite right," said Simon, rising--he had not tasted his
"Look out--there's a horned viper on the path." Two
servants had already seen the reptile, and were striking it
with long sticks.
"That's a clumsey way to kill them," he continued over his
shoulder to the missionary, "you should let them bite you."
"Good-morning and a pleasant journey and restored health to
your Grace," cried the missionary despairingly to the
"This is pretty good dawamesk," said Simon Iff in Arabic to
the big white-bearded Sheikh who acted as Patriarch to Ouled
Djellal. (Dawamesk is a preparation of hashish, or The
Grass, as the Arabs call it.) They were seated outside the
little inn which is the principal building of the village.
"Abu'dDin," returned the Arab, (for Simon Iff was known all
over the desert by this title of "Father of Justice," Din
meaning Truth, Law, Faith, but above all Justice.)
"It is good dawamesk. It is made in Djelfe by a wise and
holy man who can balance himself upon one thumb, o thou who
also art most wise and holy!"
"It is indeed The Grace, o Father of Lions, and I am
refreshed in my spirit by its soft influence. Allah is
munificent as he is great."
"There standeth no man before His face," returned the
Sheikh, "and not by dawamesk alone, though it be one-third
hashish, shall man behold his glory."
"Nay, but by right intentness, with an holy life."
"But hashish doth indeed assist us who are weak in soul, and
whose lives are defiled with iniquity."
"There was a great king," said the magician, "in a country
beyond Suleiman's, whose name was Nebuchadnezzar. For seven
years did this holy man live upon Grass, becoming mad and
running about naked. These things are written to encourage
us. I am myself made bold to find a secret place in the
sand where I may seek this blessing, for I have the Great
Word from a certain Ulema of Alkahira, the most cunning
reputed in all Al Misr."
The old man clasped the knees of Simon Iff in pathetic
entreaty. "O my father, wilt thou not reveal it to me? I
swear by the Beard of the Prophet of Allah that I will not
"Thou must first renounce all human ties and duties; wilt
thou leave thy children to perish in the desert for lack of
The Sheikh sighed. "My father, it is hard to wait for
"It is also a mistake," said Simon, on whom the hashish was
having a delightful effect, "as in the case of Mohammed
(Peace be upon him!) when he waited for the mountain to come
The Sheikh began to laugh uproariously; a mild blasphemy is
much appreciated by the simply pious. Nor is judicious
dawamesk any impediment to mirth. Iff took him by the arm.
"Let us go to the entertainment. Have you good
dancing-girls in Ouled Djellal?"
"We have pride in Fatima, the Scorpion," replied the old man
with enthusiasm; "she is like a young date palm heavy with
fruit. Her teeth are like pearls, but her bite is like a
scorpion's sting, and hence is her lakab (nick-name, said
Iff to Lord Juventius, aside) the Scorpion. She is like the
air of the desert at dawn when she dances, and when she
loves it is a simoon."
"And the others?"
"They are soft like shadows upon the sand dunes in the belly
of the Desert, and she is the full moon."
"I am certainly encouraged in my determination to see her."
They were walking across the big square of the village. It
was only a few steps; but the dawamesk made the way seem
long, and infinitely brilliant. The universe was stainless,
ineffable, silent. The moon lit the world with
incorruptible phantasy. All was white, even the sand, save
only for the soft blue shadows, and the gold stars in the
impenetrable indigo of Heaven. Only the low monotonous clang
of cymbals stirred the night. Only the flitting forms of
men, like ghosts, disturbed the shrine-like sanctity of the
square. Now they were at the dancing-hall, a long room with
tables and benches with a wide aisle and a dais at the end
where sat the dancers and the musicians.
"There is Fatima," said the Sheikh, "look how the eyes of
Muley Husein are fixed on her. He goes to the South
to-morrow to his own house; it is said that he will take her
with him." Muley Husein was an enormous negro, fierce and
proud, with a green turban, and an aigrette of uncut jewels
to fasten it. Two Arabs, with their hands upon their
daggers, stood behind him to guard him.
Simon Iff seated himself and drank the coffee brought by the
attendant as he watched the dance. There is no fascination
in the world like this: if you have enough coffee, and
enough tobacco, and just the right amount of hashish, you
can sit all night and every night, and never wax weary of
that splendid show. There is no question of a performance
inthe Anglo-Saxon sense of the word. It resembles nothing
so much as ocean. There is no object, not even play. The
dance simply existed, indifferent to all things. For those
who can stop grasping the streams of event and float upon
that ocean, it is very Paradise. If you expect something to
happen, or want something to happen, it is Hell.
The girl who had been dancing sat down, without warning, as
she had begun. In these Arabian Nights nobody takes
apparent notice of anything. But there was a murmur as of
the birth of some hot deadly wind, when, after a pause,
Fatima advanced to the front of the dais. She was tall and
slim, but sturdy. Her head-dress, her necklaces, her
amulets and her anklets were all of Napoleons strung on gold
wire. As she stood and swayed, there were a couple of
thousand dollars on her in gold currency. She was of rich
yellow-brown skin, like an autumn leaf at its most golden.
There were purple shadows, lucious as ripe plums. All
blended admirably with the dull blue of her tattoo marks,
and the Indian red of the big sash which accentuated her
hips. It was fastened with a huge brooch, circular, of
rough pearls; and with her glances and her gestures her
whole dance seemed to say, "Look at my brooch!" Simon Iff
looked. His eyes left her body, that swayed just as a snake
does when it hears music of the right kind, her head that
jagged from shoulder to shoulder with an insanely impossible
jerk, and came to the brooch. It rose and fell like the
breast of a sleeping child; then it made circles, loops,
whorls, sinuous, and subtle, as if the moon were drunken on
old wine; then with savage ecstasy it gave a series of
strong jerks, straight up and down, and Simon thought that
it could drag his soul to Hell, and he would love her for
it. He contrasted her mentally with a fat hag from Tunis,
Jewish and Greek, he thought, who banged a cymbal in the
background. The flabby piece of paste! The old Sheikh
noticed the magician's glance wander, and told him that the
object of his animadversion was Fatima's mother.
"Italian and Jewish from Malta the island is she by birth,
and her name is Desda, which in that speech means desirable;
but Fatima's father was a pure Badawi, a lizard of the
sand. Dirty Desda, they call her, and Mother of Snot."
"O father of fortunate warriors, is it the dawamesk which
betrayeth my judgement, or is this Fatima indeed a Peri of
the Prophet? For such enchantment have I never beheld with
"It is the dawamesk, without doubt, o Lord of Judgments, for
I also have not seen her in this flowering on any other
The music seemed to hush itself to low muttering intensity
as she danced. The night was stifling hot; in that airless
barn, with its heavy candles, the smoke of oil, of tobacco,
of kif, it seemed to Simon Iff as though Time were
abrogated, as though the fantastic movements of the brooch
on the girl's belly were the geometry of some insane and
sensual god. With one side-twitch he swooped down slippery
wave-summits of glaucous air until he came nigh swooning; a
circular heave, and he saw a billion universes set awhirl by
lust; she shook her shoulders, and he thought of God with
his winnowing-fan, driving the light souls as chaff into
annihilation. She slowed into bowers of night, and
then--those fierce vertical jerks sucked the magician
shuddering through æon upon countless æon of orgiastic
ecstasy. He noticed that he was gasping strongly. One of
the many advantages of hashish is that the slightest call to
action bestows the power, if one wills, to come straight out
of the intoxication into a state of especially vigorous
freshness. "It is not the dawamesk," he said to himself;
"the girl is really dancing as I have never seen anyone
dance before. Then since it is not that, the Sheikh too
sees her in abnormal state." Abnormal states interest Simon
Iff. Is it love? "That Muley Husein is certainly a
magnificent beast," he said aloud, turning to his disciple,
"you observe the super-excellence of our young friend? What
The young man inhaled his cigarette deeply before replying.
"She is intensely concentrated, she has utterly lost
herself. She is dancing on her second wind, if I may call
it that. But she had sone this at the cost of an infinitely
fierce struggle with something in herself. She may have
made up her mind to kill somebody, or more likely herself.
Or she may be under the influence of some drug not hashish;
or she may be going to be ill."
"Time will show," replied Simon, relapsing into his
intoxication, with complete indifference to all
speculation. But before another minute had passed Fatima
herself settled the point by staggering and then settling to
the ground. Her mother went to her, lifted her into a chair
and sent a boy to bring water. Another girl took her place,
and the music clashed out anew with vital frenzy. No one
appeared to notice the accident.
But the new girl did not interest Simon; she was an
anticlimax; he kept his eyes on Fatima.
"Ju," said he, "your third arrow hit the mark. She is very
ill. I will ask the Sheikh to give orders."
In a few moments the girl had been taken to her room in the
court-yard. Muley Husein loomed in the doorway over the
little party. Simon Iff made his examination. Her skin was
cold and clammy, her pupils contracted, her breath
stertorous. "All is well," reported Simon Iff at length,
after administering an injection from a small case which he
invariably carried on long journeys. "It is the will of
Allah that she shall not die this night."
The negro gave a fierce cry of joy. "But I am bound to tell
you that she has been poisoned."
"It is not possible," shrieked the mother, while Muley
Husein roared with rage.
"It is possible, and it is true," said the Sheikh, "for the
Father of Justice makes no errors."
"Let me know the jackal that did this!" cried Muley. The
Sheikh was as indifferent as before. "All things are known
to Allah, the All-Knower," was his comment, which is Arabic
for "I don't know, and I don't care."
"Perhaps a small investigation?" suggested the magician.
"O Father of Justice and Perspecuity, the case is common.
All the women are jealous of her beauty and of her fame, and
all her lovers are in despair because they fear that Muley
Husein will take her into his harem."
"O Protector of thy People, it is written that the
All-Knower bestoweth knowledge according to His will, for He
is the Merciful, the Compassionate, and pitieth the
ignorance of His creatures."
"I will give a camel load of ivory to the man who
discovereth this shame," groaned the negro, whose emotion
seemed to become more violent every moment.
"Bestow it upon her, then, for my wedding gift; for I will
make this door open, by the favour of Allah, and the help of
our Lord the Sheikh Abd-el-Kabir."
"I shall help, as I may, far-seeing one!" said the Sheikh.
"But thy way is hidden from me."
"Let Fatima be given much coffee, and made to walk seven
times around the village, and then taken to thy house, and
put under guard. Then in the morning do thou assemble
together all that are in the village, both men and women,
everyone with his cookingpot, and I will shew thee the
magick of my country."
"According unto thy word so shall it be."
Fatima was now almost able to walk, and the Sheikh,
summoning two men, had them support her. They started away
at a brisk walk. "That," said Simon to Lord Juventius,
"will sweat the rest of the stuff out of her. She will be
well in the morning." Then he turned to Muley Husein: "Our
ways lie together, if it be thy pleasure to return to thy
tents; for I am going into the desert that I may pray Allah
for wisdom in this matter."
The negro gladly consented. When they were outside the last
houses, Simon Iff put a hand upon the man's huge shoulder.
"I will instruct thee, o chief of warriors, as a father to
his son, for I am old and well stricken in years. I have
saved the life of thy gazelle, and I shall give into thy
hands the chastisement of the poisoner. This is the justice
of the desert, where Allah dwelleth with open eye. See thou
to it that thou play the part that I assign to thee, seeking
secretly afterwards for the thought concealed in my speech."
The big man assented with a child's gratitude and a child's
trust. "Swear it unto me!" And he sware solemnly. They
parted after Simon Iff had drunk his share of a bottle of
champagne in the chief's tent.
Lord Juventius Mellor had slipped away to follow Fatima. He
knew without being told that his master was apprehensive of
a further attempt upon her life. He was consequently
prowling around the Sheikh's house when the old magician
returned to the village.
"Not a mouse stirring," he reported. "I've been
thinking--trying to what I call think you would say,
perhaps--and I can't imagine for the life of me how you
proposed to spot the criminal. As old Abd-al-Kabir justly
said, it's open to the whole village to have done it.
Anybody can go to her room, whether she's there or not, and
poison her food."
"No," said the other, "this is your first journey in these
parts, so I can excuse you, but it's almost impossible to
poison food. They're always on the lookout for it; they
cook it themselves, or have it done by trusty people who
know well that an indigestion means suspicion and a beating,
and serious illness quick detection, and bitter
"I should not have said food. Abd-al-Kabir mentioned that a
week since a seller of dawamesk, a son of Eblis, accursed, a
father of calamities, passed through. It would be easy to
change her dawamesk without detection. But the man is gone,
no one knows where; and if we had him, he would deny selling
the poison; much less would he say to whom he sold it."
"Good as far as it goes, Ju, but as a matter of fact we have
a very good line on the culprit. What, let me ask you, was
the nature of the poison?"
"Symptoms suggested opium."
"They did, but you couldn't mix opium in poisonous doses
with dawamesk without changing its appearance. Hashish and
opium are more or less physiological incompatibles. Mix
'em, and you get that very gorgeous jag in which she so
enthralled us. But for the opium to bide its time, to
conquer the hashish, to knock her out, oh a very big does,
"Well, one could mix morphia with the hashish."
"But morphia isn't known in the desert."
"Exactly, and that is our clue. We have to find a person
with a guilty conscience and a knowledge of European
medicine--some small knowledge at least."
The lad laughed. "It points to that Baptist scoundrel. He
was here yesterday. He may be a connoisseur in murder, or
he may be trying to work up a market in morphine--a little
preliminary practice before he gets busy with China's
"Unfortunately, Ju, he was not here yesterday, or any day.
His horse and his camels had crossed the Chott; I saw the
mire on their hoofs. And the Sheikh had heard nothing of
them. No, it's someone in the village."
"With a guilty conscience and some modern science--well, I'd
love to see you get him!"
"Let us fortify nature by repose." And they went off to the
hotel together, and to bed.
At sunrise the next day the Sheikh had duly gathered the
whole village in the square. Each had his cooking-pot,
squatting behind it. Simon Iff asked the Sheikh to inform
the people officially of what had occurred, and to propound
an oath of innocence. They took it as one man; not a face
there betrayed the slightest interest in the proceedings.
"Now," said Abd-el-Kabir, "the Father of Justice will
determine by his magick which of you is forsworn to Allah,
as well as an assassin."
Simon asked for a supply of camel's milk, which was at once
"Now," said he, "a little milk shall be placed in each pot,
and the pot sealed. Then let all go about their business,
bringing the pots here at sunset; and it may be that he who
is guilty shall find the milk sour, while that of the
innocent shall be sweet."
This sounded good, something like magick! For milk in Ouled
Djellal turns in a couple of hours. The people went about
all day in suppressed excitement; nearly everybody felt
guilty and nervous. It was a very critical moment when they
re-assembled in the square.
The Sheikh himself was to inspect the milk. What a sigh of
relief went up from all hearts but one when the very first
pot proved to be sour! The man was on his feet, leaping and
protesting. "Shut up!" cried Simon Iff, cowing the man with
a fierce glance. Then to the Sheikh: "Go on." The old man
looked at the magician in mild surprise. "There may have
been an accomplice," he explained. And the second pot was
sour, and so were the third, and the fourth, and the fifth;
the people began to laugh.
Abd-el-Kabir wanted to create a diversion. "My Father, the
magick has failed. I am putting shame upon you."
"I can bear it," said Simon, "but I will pray a little
harder. In the meanwhile, pray go on!"
Simon Iff began to recite the Chapter of the Unity aloud,
with many bows, and the people halted in opinion, thinking
that there might be something else coming. Eventually he
"And what is the report, o great Sheikh?" he asked.
"Alas, all the milk is sour, save that which was in the pot
of Fatima's own mother."
"Ah, madame Desda," said Iff lightly, "the effect of mother
love. Is that how you explain it?"
"These are all savages," replied the pallid piece of salt
pork, "they have all murder in their hearts. I am not of
them; I am also a Christian."
"Also!" said Iff; "ah yes, also."
"And thus our Lord Issa protecteth us from even the shadow
"Doth he, really? I should go into that again, if I were
you. How did you find the Light?"
"I am not a common woman. I was in the American Baptist
Mission in Tunis."
"Infant Baptism, by the dates," murmured Iff.
"I teach in Sunday School."
"Ah, that's where they taught you to sterilize milk?"
"No, no, no, I don't know how," cried the trapped woman.
"Nonsense," said Simon, "everybody here knows enough to boil
milk; but all the others trusted in my magick and their own
innocence to keep the milk fresh; which did you doubt,
"It is foolish, it is nonsense; it is my habit to boil milk;
I did it without thinking."
"Without thinking enough," corrected the magician. "Fatima
was poisoned with morphia, which nobody here has; I was
merely looking for a person with European knowledge and a
"I am satisfied," put in the Sheikh; "Surely this woman
shall be put to death."
"You can't touch me," she screamed; "you can't prove I had
morphia; you can't prove I gave it. I appeal to the
Commandant of the District."
"She has you there," said Simon cheerfully: "you can't
prove a thing. But this is all child's talk. Let me rather
explain to you the Law. It is written: Do what thou wilt
shall be the whole of the Law. And again: Love is the law,
love under will. From this we learn that every one of us is
justified in doing what he will. Woman, neither do I
condemn thee. But--your will has been thwarted, since your
daughter is not dead. Do you then wish to kill her, now,
before us all? You are safe from the law which
punishes--tell us, what was your will in poisoning Fatima?
Had you no object beyond that?"
Desda saw that things were going her way. It was all very
unexpected, but no doubt Christians must stand together.
Her colleague was fooling these savages.
"I wish to be the wife of Muley Husein," she said boldly;
"and Fatima was in my way."
"See how simple and beautiful it all is," said Simon Iff
with enthusiasm, and a ferocious glance at the big negro,
who could hardly contain himself. Lord Juventius went over
to Muley, and stood ready to check any move, in case that
glance failed of effect.
"Love! What a passion is love! How prove a great love better
than by willingness to commit crime, to risk detection and
the guillotine in order to satisfy it? Most certainly,
Desda, you have deserved to win! Muley Husein, on your oath
I charge you to receive this woman in your harem!" His voice
rang out like a trumpet. The people did not understand, but
they saw the joke on the negro, and roared with laughter.
Lord Juventius gripped the man's arm with slender fingers,
strong and brown. The magician threw a veil over Desda, and
led her to him.
"Remember your oath to the man who saved Fatima," murmured
the disciple. Muley was shaking like a leaf with rage and
shame. He turned furiously and stalked away to his tents,
the old woman smirking and smiling and tossing her head,
wallowing in his wake.
The Sheikh protested. "Muley Husein is the guest of the
village," quoth he; "and you have put him to open shame."
"Then I am no more Father of Justice--the Father of the
"My father, forgive me. I have been blind in this matter;
it may be I am yet blind."
"At sunrise to-morrow--may Allah grant thee sight!" And at
that hour the magician called upon the Sheikh. Muley
Husein's caravan was crossing the square on its way to his
home in the South. As the last of the camels passed, it was
noticed that a short cord was attached to its near hind leg;
the other end of the cord was tied to a very heavy iron
ring, and that ring was soldered through the nose of Desda.
Behind her, a carefree boy was trying his skill with a long
lash of hippopotamus hide, and from the stately litter of
the negro Fatima's laughing face peeped out, until her
husband drew it to him, and glued his mouth to hers.
The village was again in laughter, and the Sheikh in
passionate admiration for his friend.
"It seems that substantial justice has been done," drawled
Lord Juventius Mellor.
"To me not so," retorted Simon Iff, with cold fury; "But if
we could get the American Baptist Mission here, and some
stakes and cord and molasses and red ants, we might make a