The Project Gutenberg EBook of Jack Harkaway's Boy Tinker Among The Turks, by Bracebridge Hemyng This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org Title: Jack Harkaway's Boy Tinker Among The Turks Book Number Fifteen in the Jack Harkaway Series Author: Bracebridge Hemyng Release Date: January 9, 2007 [EBook #20320] Language: English Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1 *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK JACK HARKAWAY'S BOY TINKER *** Produced by Barbara Tozier, Bill Tozier and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net
JACK GETS INTO HOT WATER—A MORAL LESSON, AND HOW HE PROFITED BY IT—ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL.
The matter was not ended here, however.
When they got on board, there was a very serious reception awaiting them.
Their project had been discovered and betrayed to the skipper by some officious noodle, and Captain Willis was not a little alarmed.
The consequences might be very serious.
So the captain had Jack and Harry Girdwood up, and gave them a word or two of a sort.
"We wish to preserve the most friendly relations with the people here, Mr. Harkaway," said he, severely; "and this sort of adventure is not calculated to achieve our object."
Jack did not attempt to deny what had occurred.
"We have done no harm," he said; "we were simply cruising about when we saw murder done. We arrived too late to prevent it, but Tinker was pleased to take it upon himself to avenge the murdered woman, for a woman it was, as we could tell from her shrieks as the sack went under and stifled them for ever."
The captain was somewhat startled at this.
"Is this true?"
"I would have you know, captain, that I am not in the habit of saying what is not true."
The captain bowed stiffly at young Jack's rebuke.
"I don't wish to imply anything else," he said; "but before you get too high up in the stirrups, young gentleman, remember that I command here. Remember that in your own thirst for excitement, you act in a way likely to compromise me as well as everybody on board. You are not wanting in a proper appreciation of right and wrong. Before you add anything worse to the present discussion, reflect. The injured air which you are pleased to assume is out of place. I leave you to your own reflections, young gentleman."
And so saying, the captain turned away and left him.
Jack's first impulse was to walk after the captain, and fire a parting shot.
But Harry Girdwood's hand arrested him.
"Don't be foolish, Jack," said he.
"Let go, I——"
"Don't be foolish, I say, Jack," persisted Harry Girdwood. "Do you know what you are saying?"
"Are you siding against me?" exclaimed Jack.
"In a general sense I am not against you, but I can't approve of your replies. You had no right to retort, and I shouldn't be a true pal, Jack, if I spoke to your face against my convictions."
Jack sulked for a little time.
And then he did as the captain had advised.
He was very soon led back to the correct train of thought, and being a lad of high moral courage, as well as physically brave, he was not afraid to acknowledge when he was in the wrong.
Harry Girdwood walked a little way off.
Young Jack—dare-devil Jack—coloured up as he walked to Harry and held out his hand.
"Tip us your fin, messmate," he said, with forced gaiety. "You are right, I was wrong, of course."
He turned off.
"Where are you going?" demanded Harry.
"To the captain."
"To apologise for being insolent."
Off he went.
"Do you want me, Mr. Harkaway?" asked the captain.
"The chief mate was standing by, and Jack did not feel that he had so far offended as to have to expiate his fault in public.
"When you are disengaged, Captain Willis, I would beg the favour of half a word with you."
"Is it urgent, Mr. Harkaway?" he asked.
"I have been refractory, Captain Willis."
A faint smile stole over the captain's face in spite of his endeavour to repress it.
"I will see you below presently," he said to the mate. "Come down to me in a quarter of an hour or so."
"Yes, sir," said the mate.
"Now, Mr. Harkaway, I'm at your service," said Captain Willis, walking forward.
Jack grew rather red in the face at this.
Then he made a plunge, and blurted it all out.
"I have been an idiot, Captain Willis, and I want you to know that I thoroughly appreciate your fairness and high sense of justice."
"Now you are flattering me, Mr. Harkaway," said the captain.
"Captain Willis," said impetuous Jack, "if you call me Mr. Harkaway, I shall think that you are stiff-backed and bear malice."
"What a wild fellow you are," said the captain. "Why, what on earth shall I call you?"
"Jack, sir," returned our hero. "John on Sunday and holidays, if you prefer it, just as a proof that you don't bear any ill feeling to a madman, who has the good luck to have a lucid interval, and to apologise heartily as I do now."
The captain held out his hand.
Jack dropped his into it with a spank, and grasped it warmly.
"Don't say any more on this subject, Mr.—I mean, Jack," said the captain, smiling, "or you will make me quite uncomfortable."
And so the matter ended.
Jack could not be dull for long together.
He plucked up his old vivacity, and went off to Mr. Figgins' cabin.
"I must go and give the orphan a turn," said he.
TURKISH CUSTOMS—JACK GIVES THE ORPHAN A NOTION OF WHAT HE MAY EXPECT—MATRIMONIAL WEAKNESSES—PASHA BLUEBEARD—THE SORT OF A MAN HE IS—HIS EXCELLENCY'S VISIT—MR. FIGGINS IS SPECIALLY INVITED—HOPES AND FEARS.
Jack found Mr. Figgins in his cabin, squatting on a cushion cross-legged.
Tinker and Bogey were attending upon him.
Since their desperate dive into the sea, and the adventure with the shark, the two darkeys and the orphan had become fast friends.
"Hullo, Mr. Figgins," said Jack, in surprise, "what's going forward now?"
"Only practising Turkish manners and customs," returned Mr. Figgins, quite seriously. "I mean to go ashore to-morrow, and make some acquaintances; I shouldn't like to appear quite strange when I got ashore. When in Rome——"
"You must do as the Romans do," added young Jack.
"Yes; and when in Turkey," said the orphan, "you must——"
"Do as the Turkeys do," concluded Jack.
"Precisely," added the orphan. "That's it."
"You are practising to smoke the long hookah to begin with."
"Yes—no—it's a chibouk," said Mr. Figgins. "That is all you have to know, I believe, to make yourself thoroughly well received in Turkish polite society."
"Every thing," responded Jack, "with a hook—ah."
"I didn't feel very comfortable over it at first," said the orphan, "but I'm getting on now."
"There's one danger you are exposed to on going ashore."
"Any gentleman having the slightest pretensions to good looks is nearly always obliged to get married a few times."
Mr. Figgins stared aghast at this.
"A few times?"
"But I'm an orphan."
"No matter; it's a fact, sir, I assure you," said Jack, gravely.
Mr. Figgins looked exceedingly alarmed.
"If I could believe that there was any thing more in that than your joking, Mr. Jack, I should be precious uncomfortable."
"Because my experience of matrimony has been any thing but pleasant already," responded the orphan.
"You have been married, then?" said Jack, in surprise.
"Very moderate that, sir," said Jack. "You are a widower, I suppose, then?"
"I suppose so."
"You are not sure?"
"Ah, well, then, it won't be so bad for you as it might."
"I beg your pardon, Mr. Jack," exclaimed the orphan; "my experience of the happy state was any thing but agreeable with one wife. Goodness knows how long I should survive if I had, as you say, several wives."
"Don't worry yourself, Mr. Figgins," said Jack, "but it is just as well to be prepared."
"An emergency. You don't know what might happen to you in this country."
Mr. Figgins looked really very anxious at this.
"I don't well see how they can marry a man."
"That's not the question, Mr. Figgins. You could refuse. It would cost you your life for a certainty."
The orphan nearly rolled off his cushion.
"Fact, I assure you," said Jack, gravely.
"You will be expected to pay a visit of state to the pasha."
"That is the greatest honour on landing for a stranger."
"What is a pasha?"
"The governor of the province, a regular Bung."
"Bluebeard was a pasha, you remember."
"No, no," interrupted the orphan, delighted to show his historical accuracy. "Bluebeard was a bashaw."
"It is the same thing, another way of writing or pronouncing the identical same dignity or rank. Well, you know that polygamy is the pet vice of the followers of Islam."
"Oh, it's dreadful, Jack."
"The greater the man, the greater the polygamist. A pasha has as many wives as he can keep, and more too. The pasha of this province is not rich for his rank, and for his matrimonial proclivities."
"How many wives should you suppose he has?" asked Jack, with an air of deep gravity.
"Don't know," replied the orphan, quietly.
Mr. Figgins jumped up and dropped his chibouk.
"A fact," asserted Jack, with gravity.
"Why, the man must be a regular Bluebeard."
"You've hit it, sir," responded Jack; "that's the sort of man he is."
"Well, that is all very well for the Turks and for these old sinners the pashas, but I am an Englishman."
"This is the way it will most likely be done," continued Jack. "On your presentation to his excellency the pasha, you are expected to make some present. The pasha makes a return visit of ceremony, and leaves behind him some solid evidence of his liberality."
"Well, but the very highest compliment that a pasha can pay you is to leave you one of his wives. He generally makes it an old stock-keeper, something that has been a good thirty years or so in the seraglio."
Mr. Figgins took the liveliest interest in this narrative.
He was growing rapidly convinced of the truth of Jack's descriptions of these singular manners and customs of the country in which they were.
Yet he eyed Jack as one who has a lingering doubt.
"Ahem!" said Mr. Figgins, "I don't think that I shall join you on your visit ashore in the morning."
"We'll see in the morning," said Jack; "it's a pity to put off your trip for the sake of such a trifling danger as that of having a wife or so given to you."
"It's no use," said Mr. Figgins, "my mind is fully made up; I shall not visit the pasha."
"It will be taken as a grave insult to go ashore without paying your respects to his excellency."
"I can't help that," returned the orphan, resolutely; "I won't visit him."
"Mr. Figgins," said Jack, in a voice of deep solemnity, "these Turks are cruel, vindictive, and revengeful. The last Englishman who refused was, by order of the pasha, skinned alive, placed on the sunny side of a wall, and blown to death by flies."
"Surely the Turks are not such barbarians," said Mr. Figgins.
"You'll find they are. They'd think no more of polishing you off than of killing a fly."
If that rascal Jack intended to make poor Mr. Figgins uneasy, he certainly succeeded very well.
Mr. Figgins looked supremely miserable.
"Good night, Mr. Figgins. Think it over."
"I tell you I——"
"Never mind, don't decide too rashly. Pleasant dreams."
"Pleasant dreams," said the orphan. "I shall have the nightmare."
The orphan's pillow was haunted that night by visions of a terrible nature.
He fancied himself in the presence of a turbaned Turk, a powerful pasha, who was sitting cross-legged on an ottoman, smoking a pipe, of endless length, and holding in his hand a drawn sword—a scimitar that looked ready to chop his head off.
Beside this terrible Turk stood five ladies, in baggy trousers, and long veils.
No words were spoken, but instinctively the orphan knew that he had to decide between the scimitar and the quintet of wives—wall-flowers of the pasha's harem.
Silently, in mute horror, the orphan was about to submit to the least of the two evils, and choose a wife.
Then he awoke suddenly.
What an immense relief it was to find it only a dream after all.
"I don't quite believe that young Harkaway," said the orphan, dubiously; "he is such a dreadful practical joker. But I won't go on shore, nevertheless. It's not very interesting to see these savages, after all; they really are nothing more than savages."
And after a long and tedious time spent in endeavouring to get to sleep again, he dropped off.
But only to dream again about getting very much married.
He slept far into the morning, for his dreams had disturbed him much, and he was tired out.
When he awoke, there was someone knocking at his cabin door.
"It's only me, Mr. Figgins," said a familiar voice.
"Come in, captain."
Captain Deering entered.
"Not up yet, Mr. Figgins?" he said, in surprise. "We've got visitors aboard already."
"Distinguished visitors. The pasha and his suite."
"You don't say so?" exclaimed the orphan, sitting up.
"Fact, sir," returned the captain. "It must be ten years since I last had the honour of an interview with his excellency."
"You know him, then, Captain Deering?"
"Rather. Been here often. Know every inch of the country," said the captain.
"What sort of a man is the pasha?" said the orphan, thinking of Jack's statement.
"Oh, a decent fellow enough, unless he's riled," was the reply.
"Do you speak the language?" said the orphan.
"Like a native."
"Is he as much married as they say?" demanded Mr. Figgins.
The captain smiled.
"His excellency has a weakness that way; but," he added, in a warning voice, "you must not make any allusion to that."
"I won't see him," said Mr. Figgins. "I don't intend to visit him."
"But I have come to fetch you to pay your respects."
"Here, on board, in the state saloon."
"Make haste, Mr. Figgins," interrupted Captain Deering. "It is no joke to make a pasha wait. Look alive. I'll come and fetch you in five minutes. Up you get."
And then Captain Deering departed.
Mr. Figgins was sorely perplexed now.
But he arose and began to dress himself as quickly as possible.
"After all," he said to himself, "it is just as well. I should certainly like to see the pasha, and this is a bit of luck, for there's no danger here at any rate, if what that young Harkaway said was true."
He went to the cabin door and shouted out for Tinker.
"He's engaged," answered Captain Deering, who was close by.
"I want him."
"He's away, attending his excellency in the saloon," returned Captain Deering.
"Bogey's there too."
"Are you nearly ready?"
"Look sharp. I wouldn't have his excellency put out of temper for the world; it would be sure to result in the bowstringing of a few of his poor devils of slaves when he got ashore again, and you wouldn't care to have that on your conscience."
Mr. Figgins very hurriedly completed his toilet.
"What a fiend this wretched old bigamist must be," he said to himself. "I'm precious glad that young Harkaway warned me, after all. I might have got into some trouble if I had gone ashore without knowing this."
"Stop," said the captain. "Have you any thing to take his excellency as a present?"
This made the orphan feel somewhat nervous.
It tended to confirm what young Jack had said.
"It is, then, the custom to make presents?" he said.
"What shall I give?"
"Any thing. That's a very nice watch you wear."
"Must I give that?"
"Yes. His excellency is sure to present you with a much richer one—that's Turkish etiquette."
This again corroborated Jack's words.
Yet it was a far more pleasant way of putting it than Jack had thought fit to do.
Mr. Figgins only objected to a present of wives.
Any thing rich in the way of jewellery was quite another matter.
"On entering the presence, you have only to prostrate yourself three times; the third time you work it so that you just touch his excellency's toe with your lips."
"I hope his excellency's boots will be clean."
"His excellency would not insult you by letting you kiss his boot. No boot or stocking does he wear."
Mr. Figgins made an awfully wry face at this.
"Ugh! I don't like the idea of kissing a naked toe."
"You'll soon get used to it," said the captain, cheerfully, "when you've kissed as many pashas' toes as I have. Hold your tongue—here we are."
He pushed open the saloon door and ushered Mr. Figgins into the presence of his excellency.
MORE ABOUT CHIVEY AND HIS MASTER—THE FATAL PIT—IS IT THE END?—ARTFUL CHIVEY AND THE ARTFULLER NOTARY—DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND—HOW THE TIGER PREPARED TO SPRING—HERBERT MURRAY IN DANGER.
Before we proceed to describe the orphan's presentation to that arch polygamist, the Turkish pasha, and the remarkable result of that interview, we must look around and see if we are not neglecting any of the characters whose eventful careers we have undertaken to chronicle.
We are losing sight of one at least, who has a very decided claim upon our attention.
This person is none other than Herbert Murray.
The reader will not have forgotten under what circumstances we parted company with this unscrupulous son of an unscrupulous father.
Goaded to desperation by his villainous servant, Herbert Murray turned upon the traitor and hurled him down the gravel pit.
Then the assassin walked away from the scene.
But ere he had got far, his steps were arrested by the sound of a groan.
A groan that came from the gravel pit.
"Was it my fancy?"
There it was again.
A low moan—a wail of anguish.
Back he went, muttering to himself—
He went round nearly to the bottom of the pit, and peered over.
There was Chivey leaning upon his elbow groaning with the severity of his bruises, and the dreadful shock he had received.
"You've done for me, now," he moaned, as he caught sight of his master.
"No; but I shall," retorted the assassin.
And he took a deliberate aim with the pistol.
"I expected this," said Chivey, faintly; "but remember murder is a hanging matter."
"I shall escape," retorted Murray, coldly.
"But you can't," said Chivey, with a grin of triumph, even as he groaned.
There was something in his manner which made Murray uneasy.
"Twenty-four hours after I'm missing," gasped Chivey, "your forgery will be in the hands of the police; they can get you back for forgery, and while you're in the dock of the Old Bailey, if not before, to stand your trial for forgery, they will have a clue to my murder."
His words caused Murray a singular thrill.
"What do you mean by that, traitor?" he demanded.
"Mean? Why, I know you too well to trust you. I tell you I have taken every possible precaution," retorted Chivey, "so that you are safe only while I live. I know my man too well not to take every precaution. Now," he added, sinking back exhausted, "now, my young sweet and pleasant, fire away."
Murray paused, and concealed his pistol.
Was it true about these precautions?
Chivey was vindictive as he was cunning.
He had shown this in every action.
"Supposing I spare you?" said Murray.
"You can't," retorted the tiger; "I'm done for."
"So much the better."
"So you say now," returned Chivey, his voice growing fainter and fainter. "Wait and remember my words—I'll be revenged."
He gasped for breath.
Then all was still.
Was he dead?
Murray trembled with fear at the thought.
The words of the revengeful tiger rang in his ear.
And he strode away.
Silent and moody as befits one bearing the brand of Cain.
Chivey was far from being as badly hurt as he at first appeared.
He had no bones broken, his worst injuries being a few bruises and a very unpleasant shaking.
But Chivey was artful.
He thought it best to keep quiet until Herbert Murray should be gone.
Chivey struggled up on to his knees.
Then he began to crawl along the sand pit.
Progress was difficult at first.
But he persevered and got along in time.
"If these bruises would only let me think how further to act," he muttered to himself, as groaning, he crawled back to the town.
"Señor Velasquez," he said to himself, as a happy thought crossed him. "Señor Velasquez is my man for a million."
He paused to think over the ways and means, and a cunning smile deepened on his face, as he gradually made up his mind.
"The worst of this is that I must have a confederate," muttered the young schemer.
"No matter, there is only one way out of it, and I must make the best of it."
Señor Velasquez was an obscure notary.
Chivey had made a chatting acquaintance with the notary in the town, the Spaniard speaking English with tolerable proficiency.
"What is the nature of the secret you hold in terrorem over your master?" demanded the notary, when Chivey at length reached his office.
"I said it was a secret, Mr. Velasquez," he answered.
"But if you seek my advice about that," the notary made reply, "I must know all the particulars of the case."
"How can I advise if you keep me in the dark?"
Chivey leered at the Spanish notary and grinned.
"Don't you try and come the old soldier over me, please," he said.
"Old soldier?" said Señor Velasquez, in surprise.
"What is 'old soldier?' What do you mean by that?"
"I mean, sir, the artful."
"Is this English?" exclaimed the notary.
"Well, I confess I do not understand it."
"Then," said Chivey, getting quite cheerful as he warmed into the matter, "I think your English education has been very seriously neglected, that's what I think."
"Possibly," said the Spaniard. "I only learnt your tongue as a student, and am not well grounded in slang."
"More's the pity."
There was a spice of contempt in Chivey's tone which appeared rather to aggravate Señor Velasquez.
"You are too clever, Mr. Chivey," said he, "far too clever. Now you want to keep your secret, and I shall guess that your secret concerns——"
"Who?" asked Chivey.
"The young man whose letters you employed me to intercept."
The tiger looked alarmed.
"I mean the young Señor Jack Harkaway."
Chivey looked about him rather anxiously.
"Don't be so imprudent, Señor Velasquez," he said. "You are a precious dangerous party to have any thing to do with."
"Not I," returned Señor Velasquez; "I am easily dealt with. But those who would deal with me must not be too cunning."
"You don't find nothing of that sort about me," said Chivey.
"What is it you require of me?" demanded the notary, getting vexed.
"He's a proud old cove," thought the tiger.
So he drew in his horns and met the notary half way.
"You are just right, Mr. Velasquez," he remarked. "It does concern Jack Harkaway."
"I knew that."
"Now I want you to give me your promise not to tell what I am going to say to you, nor to make any use of it without my express permission."
"I promise. Now proceed, for I am pressed for time."
"I will," said the tiger, resolutely.
The notary produced paper and writing materials.
"My master, Mr. Murray, has attempted my life," began Chivey, "and this is because I am possessed of certain secrets."
"He is at the present moment under the idea that he has killed me. Now what I want is, to make him thoroughly understand that he does not get out of his difficulty by getting me out of the way, not by any manner of means at all."
"How will you do it?"
"I will go and see him."
Chivey jumped at the idea immediately.
"Yes, sir, that's the sort; there's no letters then to tell tales against us."
"Get one from him, though, if you can," said Chivey, eagerly; "something compromising him yet deeper, like."
"I will do it," said Señor Velasquez. "And what will you pay for it? Give it a price."
"Thirty pounds," returned Chivey, in a feverish state of anxiety.
"I'll do it," returned the notary, with great coolness.
HOW SEÑOR VELASQUEZ PLAYED A DEEP GAME WITH CHIVEY—DOUBLE DEALING—HERBERT MURRAY'S CHANCE—"HARKAWAY MUST BE PUT AWAY"—A GUILTY COMPACT—CHIVEY IN DURANCE VILE—THE SICK ROOM AND THE OPIATE—AN OVERDOSE—THE NOTARY'S GUARDIAN—THE SPANISH GAROTTE—"TALKING IN YOUR SLEEP IS A VERY BAD GAME."
Señor Velasquez was any thing but a fool.
Chivey was not soft, but he was not competent to cope with such a keen spirit as this Spanish notary.
Señor Velasquez walked up to the hotel in which Herbert Murray was staying, and the first person he chanced to meet was Murray himself.
"I wish to have a word with you in private, Señor Murray," said the notary.
Murray looked anxiously around him, starting "like a guilty thing upon a fearful summons."
The bland smile of the Spanish notary reassured him, however.
"What can I do for Señor Velasquez?" he asked.
"I begged for a few words in private," answered Velasquez.
"Take a seat, Señor Velasquez," said Herbert Murray, "and now tell me how I can serve you," after entering his room.
The notary made himself comfortable in his chair.
"I can speak in safety now?" he said.
"No fear of interruption here?"
The notary looked Murray steadily in the eyes as he said—
"I was thinking of your officious servant."
Herbert Murray changed colour as he faltered—
"Chivey, I think you call him—your groom, I mean."
"There is no fear from him now," said Murray, with averted eyes; "not the least in the world."
Señor Velasquez smiled significantly.
"Your man Chivey," resumed the Spanish notary, "has confided to me a secret."
"Now listen to me, Señor Murray. You have behaved very imprudently indeed. Your whole secret is with me."
Herbert Murray glanced anxiously at the door.
The notary followed his eyes with some inward anxiety, yet he did not betray his uneasiness at all.
"He was speaking the truth for once, then," said Murray. "He had confided his secrets to someone else."
Herbert Murray walked round the room, and took up his position with his back to the door.
"Señor Velasquez," he said, in a low but determined voice, "you have made an unfortunate admission. If there is a witness, it is only one; you are that witness, and your life is in danger."
The notary certainly felt uncomfortable, but he was too old a stager to display it.
Herbert Murray produced a pistol, which he proceeded to examine and to cock deliberately.
"That would not advance your purpose much, Señor Murray," he said, coolly; "the noise would bring all the house trooping into the room."
Murray was quite calm and collected now, and therefore he was open to reason.
"There is something in that," he said, "so I have a quieter helpmate here."
He uncocked the pistol and put it in his breast pocket.
Then he whipped out a long Spanish stiletto.
"There are other reasons against using that."
"And they are?"
"Here is one," returned the notary, drawing a long, slender blade from his sleeve.
Murray was palpably disconcerted at this.
The Spanish notary and the young Englishman stood facing each other in silence for a considerable time.
The former was the first to break the silence.
"Now, look you here, Señor Murray," said he, "I am not a child, nor did I, knowing all I know, come here unprepared for every emergency—aye, even for violence."
"Go on," said Murray, between his set teeth.
"You have imprudently placed yourself in the hands of an unscrupulous young man."
"And he has proved himself utterly unworthy?"
"All of that is known to me," said the notary, craftily. "Now you must pay no heed to this Chivey."
"I will not," returned Herbert Murray, significantly, "though there is little fear of further molestation from him, señor."
Young Murray little dreamt of the cause of the notary's peculiar smile.
"Your sole danger, as I take it, Señor Murray, is from your fellow countryman, Jack Harkaway."
"Then to him you must direct your attention. Where is he?"
"I do then," returned the notary, quietly: "and it is to tell you that that I am here. I have all the necessary information; you must follow him."
"To make sure of him," coldly replied the Spaniard.
Velasquez spoke not.
But his meaning was just as clear as if he had put it into words.
A vicious dig with his stiletto at the air.
And so they began to understand each other.
Señor Velasquez, the notary, was playing a double game.
From Herbert Murray he carefully kept the knowledge that Chivey still lived.
That knowledge would have lessened his hold.
The cunning way in which he let Herbert Murray understand that he knew all, even to the attempt upon Chivey's life at the gravel pits, completed the mastery in which he meant to hold the young rascal.
He arranged everything for young Murray.
He discovered from him the destination of the ship in which Jack Harkaway and his friends had escaped, and he procured him a berth on a vessel sailing in the same direction.
"Once you get within arm's length of this young Harkaway," he said; "you must be firm and let your blow be sure."
"I will," returned his pupil.
"Once Harkaway is removed from your path, you may sleep in peace, for he alone can now punish you for forgery."
"I hope so."
"I know it," said Velasquez.
So well were the notary's plans laid, and so luckily did fortune play into his hands, that forty-eight hours after his interview with Murray, he had that young gentleman safely on board a ship outward bound.
Now Herbert Murray had passed but one night after that fearful scene by the gravel pit, but the remembrance of it haunted his pillow from the moment he went to bed to the moment he arose unrefreshed and full of fever.
And yet he was setting out with the intention of securing his future peace and immunity from peril by the commission of a fresh crime.
The ship was setting sail at a little after daybreak, and it had been arranged that Señor Velasquez was to come and see him off.
But much to his surprise, the notary did not put in an appearance.
Eagerly he waited for the ship to start, lest any thing should occur at the eleventh hour, and he should find himself laid by the heels to answer for his crimes.
Chivey was supposed to be hiding.
In reality he was a prisoner in the house of Señor Velasquez, and he knew it.
The notary was an old man, and he suffered from sundry ailments which belong to age—notably to rheumatism.
An acute attack prostrated the old man, and held him down when he was most anxious to be up and doing.
And the night before Herbert Murray was to set sail, he lay groaning and moaning with racking pains.
His cries reached Chivey, who lay in the next room, and he came to the sick man's door to ask if he could be of any assistance.
He peered warily in.
In spite of his groans and anguish, the old notary was insensible under the influence of an opiate.
Chivey crept in.
On a low table beside the bed was a lamp flickering fearfully, and a glass containing some medicine.
Beside the glass a phial labelled laudanum.
Something possessed the intruder to empty the contents of the phial into the glass, and just as he had done so, the sufferer opened his eyes.
"It's me, Señor Velasquez," said the tiger. "You have been ill——"
"What do you do here?" demanded the notary, sharply.
"You called out. I thought I might be of assistance."
"Then I will go, señor," said Chivey, "for I am tired."
"Stay, give me my physic before you go."
Chivey handed him the glass.
The sick man gulped it down, and made a wry face.
"How bitter it tastes," he said, with a shudder.
Chivey did not remain very long absent.
The heavy breathing of the notary soon told him that it was safe to return to the room.
The business of the morrow so filled the mind of the old Spaniard, that he was talking of it in his sleep.
"At an hour after daybreak, I tell you, Murray," he muttered. "The berth is paid for, paid for by my gold. You follow on the track of your enemy Harkaway, and once you are within reach, give a sharp, sure stroke, and you will be free from your only enemy, seeing that you have already taken good care of your traitor servant."
Chivey was amazed, electrified.
Did he hear aright?
"At daybreak!" he exclaimed, aloud.
"Yes; at daybreak," returned the notary in his sleep.
After a pause, the sleeper muttered—
"What say you? If Chivey were not quite dead? What of that? How could he follow you? He has no funds. The only money he possessed I have now in my strong box under my bed."
Chivey was staggered.
"Is Murray going to bolt, and leave me in the power of this old villain, I wonder," he muttered.
He broke off in his speculations, for the notary was babbling something again.
"'The Mogador,'" muttered the old man, speaking more thickly than before as the opiate began to make itself felt; "the captain is called Gonzales. You have only to mention the name of Señor Velasquez, and he will treat you well. He knows me."
He muttered a few more words which grew more and more incoherent each instant.
Then he lay back motionless as a log.
The opium held him fast in its power.
"Now for the box," exclaimed the tiger, excitedly.
Chivey tore open the box, and lifting up some musty old deeds and parchments, he feasted his eyes upon a mine of wealth.
A pile of gold.
Bright glittering pieces of every size and country.
And beside it thick bundles of paper money.
"Gold is uncommonly pretty," said the tiger, "but the notes packs the closest."
Bundle after bundle he stowed away about his person, regularly padding his chest under his shirt.
"Now for a trifle of loose cash," he said, coolly.
So saying, he dropped about sixty or seventy gold pieces into his breeches pocket.
His waistcoat pockets he stuffed full also.
Then he pushed back the box into its place under the bed.
"The old man still sleeps," he said to himself, looking round at the bed.
He was in a rare good humour with himself.
"Ha, ha! I am rich now," said Chivey. "Thank you, old señor, you have done me a good turn. May you sleep long."
He gave a final glance about him and made off.
A distant church clock tolled the hour of midnight as he gained the seashore.
He was in luck.
Not a soul did he encounter until he reached the beach, when he came upon two sailors, launching a rowing boat.
"'Mogador?'" he said, in a tone of inquiry.
"That's your sort," said Chivey. "I want to see Captain Gonzales."
"Come with us, then," said one of the sailors.
"Rather," responded the tiger; "off we dive; whip 'em up, tickle him under the flank, and we're there in a common canter."
The sailors both understood a little of English.
In very little time they were standing on the deck of the "Mogador."
And facing Chivey as he scrambled up the side, was the master of the ship, Captain Gonzales, to whom Chivey was presented at once by one of the sailors.
"Señor Velasquez has sent me to you, captain," said the ever ready tiger.
"Then you are welcome."
"He told me to give you that," said Chivey, handing the captain a pair of banknotes; "and to beg you to give me the best of accommodation in a cabin all to myself."
"It shall be done."
"And above all not to let Mr. Murray know of my presence on board when he comes."
"I am going on very important business for Señor Velasquez, captain," pursued Chivey, with infinite assurance; "as you may judge, for he values your care of me at one hundred crowns to be paid on your next visit here."
"Rely upon my uttermost assistance."
"Thank you," said Chivey, with a patronising smile; "and now I'll be obliged to you to show me to my berth."
"Here," cried the Spanish captain. "Pedro—Juan—Lopez. Take this gentleman to my private cabin."
The "Mogador" stood out to sea bravely enough.
Chivey was there.
Herbert Murray was there.
But the latter little suspected the presence of the former.
Herbert Murray, in fancied security, was reclining on deck upon some cushions he had got up from below, smoking lazily, and looking up at the blue sky overhead, when Chivey, who had been looking vainly out for an appropriate cue to make his reappearance, slipped suddenly forward, and touching his hat, remarked in the coolest manner in the world—
"Did you ring for me, sir?"
Herbert looked up just as if he had seen a ghost.
Herbert Murray stared at his villainous servant.
But villainous as Chivey was, Herbert Murray never thought a bit about that.
His heart leaped to his mouth, and he was overjoyed to find him there.
"Oh, Chivey, you vagabond!" he ejaculated. "I'm so awfully glad to see you."
"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin."
There's a lot of truth in that trite and homely old saying.
For one little phrase from the guilty Herbert had come so straight from the heart that even the villainous tiger was touched immediately.
"Look here, guv'nor," said Mr. Chivey, "I don't think you are half so bad as I thought. My opinion is that you are not half as bad as some of 'em, and that the ugly job up at the gravel pits was all of my provoking. I bear no malice."
"You don't!" exclaimed his master, quite overjoyed.
"Not a bit."
And they were faster friends than ever after that.
But what about Señor Velasquez?
What about all their compacts with the villain?
For the time they were of no use to that plotter, whose plans had, up to the present time, failed.
THE ORPHAN IS PRESENTED AT COURT—IS A BIT NERVOUS—LESSONS IN THE TURKISH LANGUAGE—MANNERS AND CUSTOMS—THE PASHA OF MANY WIVES—AN OFFICIAL PRESENT—BOWSTRINGING—AN EXECUTION—HORROR! THE ORPHAN'S PERIL, AND WHAT CAME OF IT.
Having got Chivey and his master together again, we now travel to the Turkish coast to be in the company of young Jack and his friends.
The orphan had been roused from his slumbers to be presented to the pasha of that province.
His excellency the pasha had done them the honour to pay them a visit of ceremony on board ship, and was seated in great state surrounded by his suite in the best saloon.
After the chief personages on board had been presented, his excellency had, according to Captain Deering, desired to see that distinguished personage, Mr. Figgins, alias the orphan.
And now the orphan stood trembling outside the door of the saloon.
"In you go, Mr. Figgins," whispered Captain Deering.
"Just a word."
"Bah!" said the captain, with a grin; "you aren't going to have a tooth out. In with you."
He opened the door, gave the timorous orphan a vigorous drive behind, and Mr. Figgins stood in the august presence.
The pasha was seated—it would be irreverent to say squatted, which would better express it—upon a cushion that was, as Paddy says, hanging up on the floor.
His excellency was in that peculiar, not to say painful attitude, which less agile mortals find unattainable, but which appears to mean true rest to Turk or tailor.
The pasha rejoiced in a beard of enormous dimensions, a grizzled dirt-coloured beard that almost touched the cushion upon which he sat.
A turban of red and gold silk was upon his venerable head.
And beside his excellency upon a cushion were laid his arms, weapons of barbarous make, thought the orphan.
A scimitar, curved à la Saladin, two long-barrelled pistols, with jewelled butts, "as though they were earrings or bracelets," the orphan said to himself, a long dagger with an ivory hilt and sheath, and a piece of cord.
"That's to tie them together with," mentally decided the orphan. "One might as well travel with the Woolwich Arsenal or the armoury from the Tower. Barbarous old beast."
"Now," said Captain Deering, "tuck in your tuppenny, Mr. Figgins; bow as low as you can."
The orphan put his back into an angle of forty-five with his legs.
"A little bit more."
"Lower," said Captain Deering, in an agonised whisper. "We shall all be bowstrung if his excellency thinks us wanting in respect."
The orphan thus admonished made a further effort, and over he went
There was such a chattering, such horrible sounds going on, as Captain Deering scrambled after the unfortunate orphan, that the latter thought his time was come.
The captain dragged him to his feet, however.
Then the presentation was proceeded with.
"His Excellency Ali Kungham Ben Nardbake," cried a dignitary standing beside the pasha, with a voice like a toastmaster.
"Good gracious me!" exclaimed the orphan, "all that?"
"That's not half of it," said Captain Deering. "To the faithful, he is known as well as Sid Ney Ali Ben Lesters puar Nasr ed Bowstrung and Strattford Bustum."
Mr. Figgins was greatly alarmed at this.
"Powerful memories his godfathers and godmothers must have had," he murmured.
Beside the pasha stood an official, with a beard of extraordinary length.
"Hush?" whispered Deering; "don't speak so loud."
"Who is he?" again asked the orphan, sinking his voice.
"The one with the beard?"
"His name is Whiska Said Mahmoud Ben Ross Latreille," returned Deering.
"Dear, dear!" murmured the orphan, in despairing accents, "I shall never——"
"Ease her, stop her!" cried a familiar voice in Mr. Figgins's ear, "you've got it in a knot."
It was Nat Cringle.
All was hushed.
The bearded official looked at the pasha, who nodded.
Then drawing his sword, he signed to two of his men, and Nat Cringle, looking dreadfully frightened, was bustled off behind a curtain which had been rigged up across the saloon, just at the pasha's back.
"What are they going to do?" asked the orphan, his teeth chattering in alarm.
Captain Deering was so much affected at this stage of the proceedings that he covered his face with his pocket-handkerchief.
"What is it?" faltered Mr. Figgins, faintly.
"Did you not see the cord taken away with Nat?" demanded the captain, in a funereal bass.
Mr. Figgins did hark, and an awful sound reached him from behind the curtain.
It was more like the expiring groans of a hapless porker in the hands of a ruthless butcher, than any thing else you could compare it to.
A fatal struggle was going on behind the curtain.
Groans and dying wails were heard for awhile.
Then all was still.
"Oh, what is it?" murmured the orphan, in distress.
"Squiziz Wizen, the pasha's executioner, has dealt upon poor Nat Cringle."
"What!" gasped Figgins.
"Bowstrung," returned Captain Deering.
The orphan turned faint.
Then he turned to the door, and would have fled.
"Oh, let me go home," he cried. "I don't feel happy here."
But Deering stayed him.
"You must not go, Mr. Figgins," whispered Captain Deering.
"His excellency is about to address us."
The pasha coughed.
"Quel est votre jeu?" demanded his excellency.
"What does he say?" asked Figgins.
"Batta pudn," continued his excellency, with a gracious air; "also bono Jonni."
"He says you may present whatever you have brought," whispered the captain.
"I've brought nothing," returned Mr. Figgins.
"No; I forgot."
"Thoughtless man," said Captain Deering. "Take this."
He thrust a parcel of brown paper into his hands.
"What shall I do with it?"
"Place it on the cushion before his excellency."
Mr. Figgins complied.
"Luciousosity," said the pasha, looking upon the offering greedily.
Then he clapped his hands vigorously three times.
The minister appeared, leading two veiled ladies.
The pasha made some remarks in his own language, which Captain Deering was commissioned to render into English.
"His excellency, recognising your generous offering," said he, "presents you with the choicest gifts of his seraglio, two wives. You must cherish them through life."
The orphan's countenance fell at this.
The capital punishment of poor Nat Cringle was as nothing to this.
"Tell him I'd rather not take two," he whispered to Deering.
"Why not?" ejaculated the latter.
"I wish to live single."
The bearded minister approached, leading the two veiled beauties.
"Oh! oh, dear," groaned the poor orphan.
He placed a gloved hand of each upon Mr. Figgins's shoulders.
Then, upon a given signal, they threw their arms around the orphan and hugged him, while a violent cachinnation was heard.
"What a lovely smile," said Captain Deering. "Did you hear it?"
"Oh! Please don't," cried the orphan.
He struggled to get free.
But the beauties of the seraglio held him tight.
The orphan grew desperate, and jerked himself out of their clutches.
But in the tussle down he flopped on the ground again.
"Infidel dog!" roared the pasha, venting his wrath in English, "barbarian and idolater, thou shalt die!"
Thereupon, Captain Deering dropped down beside the orphan, and sued for mercy.
"Be merciful, O great prince!" he cried. "Have pity on your humblest slave. His heart is filled with gratitude."
The pasha growled some reply that was indistinct, but which to the startled Figgins, sounded like the rumbling of distant thunder.
"Oh, what shall I do?" moaned the orphan. "Oh, somebody take me home."
"Silence," whispered Captain Deering. "Prostrate yourself as they do. Bury your face and be silent, until his excellency bids you rise. He may then overlook it."
Mr. Figgins scarce dared to breathe.
There he lay, with his face upon the ground, humbly awaiting the stern despot's permission to move.
He waited long—very long.
While he waited thus, a strange commotion was observed amongst the pasha's suite.
The chief officer removed his turban and beard, and—wonderful to relate!—beneath it was the laughing face of Harry Girdwood.
He winked at his august master, who hurriedly removed his turban and beard as well.
And then the pasha bore a marvellous resemblance to Jack Harkaway the younger.
They helped to drag off each other's robes—for beneath their Turkish garments were their everyday clothes.
The veiled beauties of the harem were disrobed.
Beneath their veils and feminine attire they were familiarly garbed, and a glance revealed them to be Tinker and his body-guard Bogey.
"Now then, Mr. Figgins," said Nat Cringle, "wake up."
The orphan looked up in amazement at the sound.
Mr. Figgins looked about in wonderment.
Facing him was Jack Harkaway, sitting upon a camp stool, and beside him stood his constant companion, Harry Girdwood.
Engaged in conversation with them was Captain Deering, and the subject of their conversation appeared to be the orphan himself.
The Turkish soldiers and people generally forming the pasha's suite had disappeared, and in their places were several sailors, some of whom appeared to be considerably amused at something.
When Mr. Figgins sat up and looked about him, he muttered—
"What's all this?"
"A very serious case, Harry," said Jack, gravely.
"A case for the doctor."
"What do you mean?"
"These habits of drinking grow upon one," said Harry Girdwood, sadly.
"I don't understand," faltered the orphan.
"Shall we help you to bed, sir?" asked one of the sailors compassionately.
"Never!" cried Mr. Figgins, with majesty.
"Oh, yes, do," said Harry.
But nerved to desperation, the orphan tore himself away from them, and darted to the door.
"I shall go and report upon these outrageous doings to the captain of the ship," he said, drawing himself up.
"Here's the captain himself," said a good-natured voice behind him. "And now, what can he do for you, Mr. Figgins?"
The orphan turned.
There was the captain.
"Mr. Figgins," said the captain, with a serious air, and shaking his forefinger at him, "you have been indulging very early in the day."
He could endure no more.
With a cry of disgust, he dashed past the captain, and scrambled up the stairs on deck.
Once there, he shot like a race horse along the deck, and gaining his own berth, he locked himself in.
But even here he could not shut out the ringing laughter of the incorrigible practical jokers.
Mr. Figgins, as you may guess, was seen no more that day.
Upon the day following the events just related, Jack received letters from home.
And among them was one which created no little excitement amongst the nearest friends of Jack Harkaway.
"Do you think it probable that he'll come?"
"I shouldn't wonder," said Harry Girdwood.
"I should like to see his dear old face again," said Jack.
"I'll bet a penny that we shall see him here yet; if not here, at least at our next stage," said Harry.
"It would be a rare treat to talk with someone who had seen our dear folks at home."
"It would indeed. I hope he will come."
And who did they hope would come?
Can you not guess reader? No.
Then read on, and you will learn who it was and what were the reasons which were to bring a friend from home roaming to this distant shore to meet Jack and his friends.
THE SAPIENT DOCTOR MUGGINS CAME IN HASTE—IMPEDIMENTS IN THE WAY OF THE PRESCRIPTION—DWELLS ON ARTIFICIAL LIMBS—OLD-REMINISCENCES—THE TORMENTOR.
Reader, we will return for a little time to our old friend, Mole, in England.
Mr. Mole was sad.
For so many years of his life had old Isaac Mole led a wandering career, that he found it exceedingly difficult, not to say irksome, to settle down to the prosy existence which they had all dropped into.
He never complained, it is true.
But he fell into a sort of settled melancholy, which nothing could shake off, and even grew neglectful of the bottle.
His friends grew anxious.
They wished him to take medical advice.
He resisted all persuasion stoutly.
So they had recourse to artifice, and invited an eminent medical man to their house as a visitor.
And then under the guise of a friendly chat, the doctor took his observations.
But the peculiar ailment, if ailment it could be called, of Isaac Mole, completely baffled the man of science at first.
It was only in a casual conversation that, being an observing man, he discovered the real truth.
"Our patient wants a roving commission," said the physician to himself.
And then he communicated his own convictions to old Jack.
"I scarcely believe it possible, doctor," said Jack.
But the doctor was positive.
"Nothing will do him any good but to get on the move; I'm as sure of that as I am that he has no physical ailment."
"What's to be done then?" demanded Harkaway. "He can't travel alone."
"I don't know that," said the doctor; "he's hale and wiry enough. The only difficulty that I can see, is Mrs. Mole."
"I'll undertake to get over that," said Jack.
"It is settled then," said the physician, with a smile.
"What would do him more good than all the physic in the world, would be to send him after your son."
"Impossible. Why, Jack is en route for Turkey."
"What of that?" coolly inquired the doctor.
"Consider the distance, my dear doctor."
"Pshaw, sir. Distance is nothing nowadays. It was a very different thing when I was a boy. Take my word for it, Mr. Harkaway, our patient will jump at the chance."
"He's very much attached to my roving boy."
"I know it," returned the doctor. "Never a day passes but he speaks of him; I declare that I never had a single interview with Mr. Mole, but that he has managed somehow to turn the conversation upon your son and his pranks."
"Oh, Jack, he has played him some dreadful tricks."
"Yes," returned the physician dryly, "and so has Jack's father, by all accounts."
"And yet I really believe that he enjoys the recollection of the boy's infamous practical jokes."
"I believe you are right," responded Harkaway.
A day or two later on the doctor was seated with Mr. Mole.
"Your health must be looked to. You'll have to travel."
"How, doctor?" said Mole.
"Young Harkaway is in foreign parts, and his prolonged absence causes his parents considerable uneasiness, and you must go and look after him."
Mole's eyes twinkled.
"Do you mean it?"
"I do. When would you like to start?"
"Very good. The sooner the better," said the doctor.
Mr. Mole's countenance fell suddenly.
An ugly thought crossed him.
What would Mrs. Mole say?
"There is one matter I would like to consult you on, doctor."
"What might that be?" demanded the doctor.
"My wife might have a word to say upon the subject."
"I will undertake to remove her scruples," said the doctor.
"Yes. She will never object when she knows how important your mission is."
"Doctor," exclaimed Mr. Mole, joyously; "you are a trump."
A delay naturally occurred, however.
Mr. Mole could not travel with his wooden stumps, his friends one and all agreed.
He must have a pair of cork legs made.
The doctor who had been attending our old friend knew of a maker of artificial limbs who was a wonderful man, according to all accounts.
"Yes," said Mole, "cork legs well hosed will——"
At this moment a voice tuning up under the window cut him short,
"He gave his own leg to the undertaker,
And sent for a skilful cork-leg maker.
"That's Dick Harvey. Infamous!" ejaculated Mr. Mole.
"On a brace of broomsticks never I'll walk,
But I'll have symmetrical limbs of cork.
"Monstrous!" exclaimed Mr. Mole; "close the window, sir, if you please."
It was all very well to say "Close it," but this was easier said than done.
Dick Harvey had fixed it beyond the skill of that skilful mechanician to unfasten.
The aggravating minstrel continued without—
"Than timber this cork is better by half,
Examine likewise my elegant calf.
"I will have that window closed," cried Mole.
He arose, forgetting in his haste that he was minus one leg, and down he rolled.
The artificial limb-maker lunged after him, and succeeded with infinite difficulty in getting him on to his feet again.
"Dear, dear!" said Mr. Mole. "No matter, I can manage it."
He picked up the nearest object to hand, and hurled it out of window.
HOW THE ORPHAN BECAME POSSESSED OF A FLUTE.
But we must leave Mole for a time, and return to our friends on their travels.
When next they landed at a Turkish town, Mr. Figgins went to a different hotel to that patronised by young Jack, whose practical joking was rather too much for the orphan.
But they found him out, and paid him a visit one morning.
After the first greeting, Mr. Figgins was observed to be unusually thoughtful.
At length, after a long silence he exclaimed—
"I can't account for it, I really can't."
"What can't you account for, Mr. Figgins?" asked young Jack.
"The strange manners of the people of this country," answered the orphan.
"Of what is it you have to complain particularly?" inquired Jack.
"Well, it's this; wherever I go, I seem to be quite an object of curiosity."
"Of interest you mean, Mr. Figgins," returned Jack, winking at Harry Girdwood; "you are an Englishman, you know, and Englishmen are always very interesting to foreigners."
"I can't say as to that," the orphan replied; "I only know I can't show my nose out of doors without being pointed at."
"Ah, yes. You excite interest the moment you make your appearance."
"Then, if I walk in the streets, dark swarthy men stare at me and follow me till I have quite a crowd at my heels."
"Another proof of the interest they take in you."
"Well, I don't like it at all," said the orphan, fretfully; "and then the dogs bark at me in a very distressing manner."
"It's the only way they have of bidding you welcome," remarked Harry Girdwood.
"I wish they wouldn't take any notice of me at all; it's a nuisance."
"Perhaps you'd like them to leave off barking, and take to biting?"
"No, it's just what I shouldn't like, but it's what I'm constantly afraid they will do," wailed the poor orphan.
There was a slight pause, during which young Jack and his comrade grinned quietly at each other, and presently the former said—
"I think I can account for all this."
"Can you?" asked Mr. Figgins. "How?"
"It all lies in the dress you wear."
"In the dress?"
"Yes; you are in a Turkish country, and although I admit you look well in your splendid new tourist suit, cross-barred all over in four colours, I fancy it would be better if you dressed as a Turk during your stay here."
"A Turk, Jack?"
"Yes; now, if you were to have your head shaved, and dress yourself like a Turk," said Jack, "all this wonderment would cease, and you would go out, and come in, without exciting any remark."
Mr. Figgins fell back in his chair.
"Ha-ha-have my head sha-a-ved, dress myself up li-like a Turk?" he gasped. "You surely don't mean that?"
"I do, indeed," replied Jack, seriously.
"What? Wear baggy breeches, and an enormous turban, and slippers turned up at the toes! What would the natives say?"
"Why, they'd say you were a very sensible individual," remarked Harry. "Don't you remember the old saying?—'When you're in Turkey, you must do as Turkey does.'"
Mr. Figgins reflected for a moment.
"And you really think if I were to go in, for a regular Turkish fit-out, I should be allowed to enjoy my walks in peace?" he asked, at length.
"Decidedly," answered his counsellors, with the utmost gravity.
"Then I'll take your advice, and be a Turk until further notice," said the orphan; "but there's one thing still."
"My complexion isn't near dark enough for one of these infidels."
"Oh, that won't matter," said Jack; "only slip into the Turkish togs. Go in for any quantity of turban, and they won't care a button about your complexion."
"Very well, then, that's settled; I'll turn Turk at once. But must I have my head shaved?"
"That's important," said Jack.
Having made up his mind on that point, the orphan at once put on his hat, and taking a sip of brandy to compose his nerves, he sallied forth, directing his steps to the nearest barber's.
On his way thither he attracted the usual amount of attention, and when he reached the barber's shop, he found himself accompanied by a select crowd of deriding Turks, and a dozen or so of yelping curs, shouting and barking in concert.
The barber received him with the extreme of Eastern courtesy.
"What does the English signor require at the hands of the humblest of his slaves?" was the deferential inquiry.
"I have a fancy to turn Turk, and I want my head shaved," explained Mr. Figgins, nervously; "pray be careful, since I'm only a poor orphan, who——"
Before he had time to finish his sentence, he found himself wedged into a chair with a towel under his chin.
The next moment his head, under the energetic manipulation of the operator, was a creamy mass of lather.
"Be sure and don't cut my head off," murmured the orphan, as he watched the razor flashing to and fro along the strop.
"Your servant will not disturb the minutest pimple," said the barber.
With wonderful celerity, the artist went to work.
In less than two minutes the cranium of Mark Antony Figgins was as smooth and destitute of hair as a bladder of lard.
Then followed the process of shampooing, which was very soothing to the orphan's feelings.
At length, the operation being completed, the barber bade the orphan put on his hat—which from the loss of his hair went over his eyes and rested on his nose—and left the shop.
His friends—the mob and the dogs—had waited for him outside very patiently.
If his appearance had been interesting before, their interest was now greatly increased.
A loud shout welcomed him, and he proceeded along the street under difficulties, holding his hat in one hand, with the crowd at his heels.
Straight to the bazaar he went.
Here he found a venerable old Turkish Jew, who seemed to divine by instinct what he wanted.
"Closhe, shignor, closhe," he cried in broken English. "Shtep in and take your choice."
Before the bewildered orphan knew where he was, he found himself in the interior of Ibrahim's emporium.
Here a profusion of garments were displayed before his eyes.
Having no preference for any particular colour, he took what the Jew pressed upon him.
In a short time his costume was complete, consisting of a pair of ample white trousers, and a blue shirt, surmounted by a crimson vest, secured at the waist by a purple sash, and on his feet a pair of yellow slippers of Morocco leather.
The turban alone was wanting.
"Be sure and let me have a good big turban," urged Mr. Figgins.
Ibrahim assured him that he should have one as big as he could carry, and he kept his word.
Unrolling a great many yards of stuff, he formed a turban of enormous dimensions of green and yellow stripe, which he placed upon the head of his customer.
"Shall I do? Do I look like a native Turk?" asked the latter, after he had put on his things.
"Do?" echoed the Jew, exultingly. "If it ish true dat de closhe makes de man, you vill do excellent vell, and de people vill not now run after you."
Mr. Figgins having settled his account with the Hebrew clothier, and paid just three times as much as he ought to have done, went out again with considerable confidence, looking as gaudy in his mixture of bright colours as a macaw.
"No one will dare to jeer at me now," he persuaded himself.
But he was mistaken.
Hardly had he taken a half dozen steps when his brilliant costume attracted great notice.
"What a splendid Turk!" cried some.
"Who is that magnificent bashaw?" asked others, as he strutted past.
No one knew, and upon a nearer examination it was seen that the "splendid Turk" and "magnificent bashaw" was no Turk at all.
Indignation seized upon those who had a moment before been filled with admiration.
"Impostor, unbelieving dog!" shouted the enraged populace. "He is an accursed Giaour, in the dress of a follower of the Prophet."
At this, a fierce yell rose upon the air.
"Down with the wretch!"
"Tear him to pieces!"
"Let him be impaled!" cried the multitude.
With these dire threats, the angry crowd rushed towards Mr. Figgins, headed by a short, fat Turk, who was particularly indignant.
The luckless orphan, anxious to avoid the terrible doom that was threatening him, rushed away in an opposite direction.
The Turks are not, as a rule, remarkable for swift running.
Mr. Figgins, whose pace was quickened by the dreadful prospect of a stake through his body, would have easily distanced them.
But unfortunately, his green and yellow striped turban, dislodged from its position, fell—as his hat had previously done—over his eyes, and almost smothered him.
He tugged away at it as he ran, in order to get rid of it.
But all he succeeded in doing was to loosen one of the ends.
Gradually the turban began to unwind itself, the end trailing on the ground.
The Turk in pursuit caught up this end, and grasping it firmly, brought all his weight to bear upon the fugitive.
Suddenly the hapless Figgins began to feel strong symptoms of strangulation.
The next moment, a sharp jerk from the burly Turk pulled him to the ground.
But this saved him.
No sooner was he prostrate on his back than the turban slipped from his head, and he was free.
Springing to his feet, he darted off at a speed which no human grocer could ever have dreamt of.
He was soon far beyond pursuit.
All he had lost was his green and yellow striped turban.
But the loss of that, though it somewhat fretted him, had saved his life.
He found himself in a retired spot, and no one being near, he sat down to reflect and recover his breath.
"What a country this is," he thought; "pleasant enough, though, as far as the climate goes; but the people in it are awful! What a lot of bloodthirsty, bilious-looking wretches, to be sure; ready to consign to torture and death a poor innocent, unprotected orphan because he happens to be of a different colour from themselves!"
So perturbed were the thoughts of Mr. Figgins that he was obliged to smoke a cigar to soothe himself.
But even this failed to quiet his agitated nerves.
His mind was full of gloomy apprehensions.
"Where am I?" he asked himself. "How am I to get home? I shall be sure to meet some of the rabble, and with them and the dogs I shall be torn to pieces. What will become of me—wretched orphan that I am! What shall I do?"
Hardly had he uttered these distressful exclamations when a prolonged note of melody caught his ear.
"Hark!" he said to himself, "there is music. 'Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,' says the poet, and it seems to have a soothing effect upon my nerves."
The strain had died away, and was heard no longer.
Mark Antony Figgins was in despair.
"Play again, sweet instrument," he cried, anxiously, "play again."
Again the sweet note sounded and again the solitary orphan felt comforted.
"It's a flute; it must be a flute," he murmured to himself, as he listened. "I always liked the flute. It's so soft and melancholy."
The grocer had a faint recollection of his boyhood's days, when he had been a tolerably efficient performer on a penny whistle.
Just at this moment the mournful note he heard recalled the past vividly.
So vividly, that Mr. Figgins, in the depths of his loneliness, fixed his eyes sadly on the turned-up toes of his leather slippers, and wept.
As the melody proceeded, so did the drops pour more copiously from the orphan's eyes.
And no wonder, for of all the doleful too-tooings ever uttered by wind instrument, this was the dolefullest.
But it suited Mr. Figgin's mood at that moment.
"It's a Turkish flute, I suppose," he sobbed; "but it's very beau-u-u-tiful. I wish I had a flute."
He got up and looked round, and found himself outside an enclosure of thick trees.
It was evidently within this enclosure the flute player was located.
As the reader knows, there was nothing bold or daring about Mark Antony Figgins.
But now the flute seemed to have inspired him with a kind of supernatural recklessness.
"I'd give almost any thing for that flute," he murmured to himself. "I feel that I should like to play the flute. I wonder who it is playing it, and whether he'd sell it?"
The unseen performer, at this juncture, burst forth into such a powerfully shrill cadence that the orphan was quite thrilled with delight.
"A railway whistle's a fool to it!" he cried, as he clapped his hands in ecstasy. "Bravo, bravo! Encore!"
Having shouted his applause till he was hoarse, he walked along by the side of the wall, seeking anxiously for some place of entrance.
At length he came to an open gate.
A stout gentleman—unmistakably a Turk—with a crimson cap on his head, ornamented with a tassel, and a long, reed-like instrument in his hand, was looking cautiously forth.
It was evidently the musician, who, having been interrupted in his solo, had come to see who the delinquent was that had disturbed him.
The enthusiastic Figgins had caught sight of the flute, and that was sufficient.
Forgetting his usual nervous timidity, he rushed forward.
"My dear sir," he exclaimed, "it was exquisite—delicious! Pray oblige me with another tune—or, if you have no objection, let me attempt one."
As he spoke, the excited Figgins stretched forth both his hands.
The owner of the flute, who evidently suspected an attempt at robbery, quietly placed his instrument behind him, and looking hard at Figgins, said sternly—
"What son of a dog art thou?"
To which Figgins replied mildly—
"You're mistaken, my dear sir; I'm the son of my father and mother, but they—alas!—are no more, and I am now only a poor desolate orphan."
The tears trickled from his eyes as he spoke.
The Turk did not appear in the least affected.
"What bosh is all this?" he asked, after a moment, in a hard, unsympathetic tone.
"It's no bosh at all, I assure you, my dear signor," replied Figgins, earnestly; "the fact is, I heard you play on your flute, and its sweet tones so soothed my spirits—which are at this moment extremely low—that I am come to make several requests."
"Umph!" growled the Turk; "what are they?"
"First, that you will play me another of your charming airs, next, that you will allow me to attempt one myself, and thirdly, that you will sell me the instrument you hold in your hand.'"
The Turk glared for a moment fiercely at the proposer of these modest requests, and then politely wishing the graves of his departed relatives might be perpetually defiled, he replied curtly—
"First, I am not going to play any more to-night; next, I will see you in Jehanum before I allow you to play; and thirdly, I won't sell my flute."
 The abode of lost spirits.
With these words, he stepped back into the garden and slammed the gate in Mr. Figgins' face.
"I shall never get over this," Figgins murmured to himself, gloomily; "that flute would have cheered my solitary hours, and that ruthless Turk refuses to part with it. Now, indeed, I feel my peace of mind is gone forever."
His grief at this juncture became so overpowering, that he leant against the door, and in his despair hammered it with his head.
Suddenly the door burst open, and the distressed orphan, in all his brilliant array, shot backwards into some shrubs of a prickly nature, whose sharp thorns added to his agonizing sensations.
"Will anybody be kind enough to put an end to my misery?" he wailed, as he lay on his back, feeling as though he had been transformed into a human pincushion.
He was not a little surprised to hear a familiar voice exclaim—
"Lor' bless me! dat you, Massa Figgins?"
Glancing up, he espied the black face of Bogey looking down upon him.
"Yes, it's me," he answered, in a wailing tone; "help me up."
"Gib me you fist," cried Bogey.
Mr. Figgins extended his hand, and the negro grasping it, by a vigorous jerk hoisted the prostrate grocer out of his thorny bed, tingling all over as though he had been stung by nettles.
Bogey was quite astounded at the transformation of his dress.
"Why, Massa Figgins, what out-and-out guy you look!" he exclaimed; "whar all you hair gone to?"
The orphan only groaned.
He was thinking of another h-air (without the h), the air he had heard on the Turkish flute.
Just at that moment the too-too-too of the instrument sounded again.
Figgins stood like one absorbed.
All his agonizing pains were at once forgotten.
"How sweet, how plaintive!" he murmured to himself; "too-too-too, tooty-tooty-too!" he hummed, in imitation of the sound.
Bogey heard it also, and involuntarily put his hands on big stomach and made a comically wry face.
"Whar dat orful squeakin' row?" he asked.
"Hush, hush!" exclaimed the orphan, holding up his hands reprovingly, and turning up his eyes at the same time; "it's heavenly music; it's a flute, my boyhood's favourite instrument."
"Gorra!" muttered Bogey; "it 'nuff to gib a fellar de mullingrubs all down him back and up him belly."
He looked towards Mr. Figgins, and seeing him standing with his hands clasped looking like a white-washed Turk in a trance, he said—
"What de matter wid yer, Massa Figgins? Am you ill?"
"That flute, that melodious flute, that breathes forth dulcet notes of peace," murmured the orphan, in a deep, absorbed whisper. "I must have that flute."
Bogey felt a little anxious.
"Me t'ink Massa Figgins getting lilly soft in him nut; him losing him hair turn him mad," he said to himself.
"I must have that flute," repeated the grocer, in the same abstracted tone and manner. "I should think it cheap at ten pounds."
Bogey, on hearing this, opened his eyes very wide.
He thought he saw a chance of doing a profitable bit of business on his own account.
So, after an instant, he said quietly—
"Good flute worth more dan ten pounds; rale good blower like dat worth twenty at de bery least."
"Yes, yes; I'd give twenty willingly," murmured the wrapt Figgins.
"Bery good," said Bogey, as he instantly disappeared through the gate.
The orphan remained waiting without.
The "too-too-tooing" was going on in the usual doleful and melancholy manner, and guided by the sound, Bogey crept forward till he came in sight of the performer, who was seated in a snug nook in his garden playing away to his heart's content; or, as the negro supposed, endeavouring to frighten away the birds.
Bogey took stock of the stout player and his flute.
Creeping along the shrubbery till he had got exactly opposite to the flautist, he, in the midst of the too-too-tooing, uttered an unearthly groan.
"Inshallah!" exclaimed the Turk, stopping suddenly; "what was that?"
"It war me," groaned the hidden Bogey more deeply than before.
"Who are you?" faltered the musician, hearing the mysterious voice, but seeing no one.
"Me am special messenger from de Prophet," Bogey replied.
"Allah Kerim! my dream is coming true. Is it the Prophet speaks?" gasped the Turk, his olive cheeks turning the hue of saffron.
"Iss, it de profit brings me here," returned Bogey, truthfully.
"What message does he send to his slave?" asked the old Turk.
"He say you make sich orful row wid dat flute he can git no sleep, an', derefore, he send me to stop it. You got to gib up de flute direckly."
The teeth of the half-silly musician were chattering in his head.
His optics rolled wildly from side to side.
Just at this crisis Bogey, with his eyes glaring and his white teeth fully exposed, thrust his black face from the foliage.
"Drop it," he cried, with a hideous grin.
He had no occasion to repeat the command.
With a yell of terror the horrified Turkish gentleman, who was really half an idiot, and was just then away from his keepers, let fall his instrument from his trembling fingers, and starting up, waddled away from the spot as though the furies were after him, while the special messenger of the Prophet quietly picked up the flute with a chuckle, and retraced his steps to the gate.
Here he found Mr. Figgins.
He could scarcely believe his eyes when he saw the negro with the precious instrument in his hand.
"The flute, the flute!" he cried, "the soother of sorrow, the orphan's comforter. Let me clutch you in my grasp. Oh, it brings back my boyhood's days."
As he spoke, he rushed forward eagerly to seize the treasure.
But Bogey stuck to it.
"Money fust, Massa Figgins," he said, with a grin, "twenty poun' am de price, yah know, an' dis a fuss-rate blower. Too-too-too, tooty-tum-too," he sounded on the instrument.
The orphan was frantic.
"I haven't twenty pounds with me," he exclaimed, excitedly, "but I'll pay you the moment we get home, and five pounds over for interest. You know I'm well off, and am also a man of my word."
Bogey did know this, and was not afraid to trust him.
"Well, den, dere de flute," he said; "but don't begin too-too-tooin' till we git good way off, else p'r'aps de gem'l'm wid de red cap hear and send a dog arter de speshal messenger of de Prophet."
Mr. Figgins pledged himself not to blow a note till they were a mile from the spot at least, and on the strength of this promise, Bogey gave him up the instrument.
But no sooner did the excited orphan find it in his possession than he forgot all his promises, and putting the flute to his lips, he at once commenced "The Girl I Left Behind Me," in the most brilliant manner—so brilliant indeed that it reached the ears of the owner inside, and, as Bogey had shrewdly suspected would be the case, the latter began to have some slight suspicions that he had been done out of his flute by an impostor.
Very soon his voice was heard calling his dogs, and almost immediately loud barkings were heard.
"Run, run, Massa Figgins, or de dogs tear yah to pieces," shouted Bogey.
"They may tear me limb from limb," returned the orphan "but they shan't rob me of my flute."
And without taking the instrument from his lips, off he ran playing "Cheer, Boys, Cheer," as he hurried along.
The next moment out rushed several gaunt-looking animals, and gave chase to the musical Figgins, urged on by their mad master, who was following them.
Bogey waited for him at the gate.
As he came forth puffing, grunting, and blowing, the negro put out his foot, and over he went on his nose.
"Go back, massa bag breeches," cried Bogey, fiercely.
He added to the effect of his words by applying a switch he carried to the fat hind-quarters of the Turk, who was glad to scramble in at his gate on all fours, and shut it to keep out the "special messenger" and his cane.
When Bogey came up with Mr. Figgins, he found that usually timid personage with his back against a tree, doing battle with his canine foes, who were making sad havoc with his Moslem garments.
"Bravo, Massa Figgins," cried Bogey, as he rushed in among the yelping pack, "we soon get rid of dese heah."
With this he laid about him with such energy that the Turkish dogs, utterly bewildered, dropped their ears, and tucking their tails between their legs, slunk howling away, whilst the triumphant orphan accompanied their flight with a lively tune on his flute.
Accompanied by Bogey, Mark Antony reached his quarters in safety.
He then promptly paid the price of his instrument, and at once set himself steadily to practise, to the great horror of all in the house.
A week passed. Then the following conversation took place between young Jack Harkaway and his comrade Harry Girdwood.
"I say, old fellow, are you fond of music?"
"Well, it all depends what sort of music it is," Jack replied.
"What do you think of Figgins' instrumental performance?"
"Well, I think it's an awful row."
"So do I; but he doesn't seem to think so."
"No; he's always at it; all day long and half through the night; he'll blow himself inside his flute if he goes on at this rate. I consider it comes under the head of a nuisance."
"Most decidedly," said Jack, "and like other nuisances, must be put a stop to."
"All right: let's send for him at once."
Bogey was summoned and dispatched with a polite message from young Jack, that he would be glad to speak to him.
On receiving the message, he repaired at once to the room where Jack and Harry Girdwood were located, preparing another practical joke for the benefit of the orphan.
Mr. Figgins took his flute with him, and too-tooed all the way till he reached the door of Jack's room.
For Jack and Harry, it should be mentioned, had followed the orphan to his new abode, and secured rooms in the same house.
"Sit down, Mr. Figgins," said Jack.
Mr. Figgins sat down, nursing his flute.
"I have sent for you," Jack commenced.
"Ah, I see, you wish for a tune," cried the orphan, with much hilarity, as he put the flute to his lips and began to play.
"On the contrary," cried Jack, quickly; "it's just what we don't wish for; we should be glad if you'd come to a stop."
Mr. Figgins opened his eyes with astonishment.
"Come to a stop," he echoed; "is it possible that you wish to stop my flute? Why, I thought you liked music."
"So I do," Jack replied, drily, "when it is music."
"And isn't my flute music? Are not its tones soft and sweet and soothing to the spirits?"
"We have found them quite the reverse," Jack assured him; "in fact, if you don't put away your flute, you'll drive us both mad, and then I wouldn't like to answer for the consequences—which might be awful."
Mr. Figgins looked aghast.
"The idea of such exquisite music as my instrument discourses driving anyone mad," he exclaimed at length, "is past belief."
"You may call it exquisite music, but we call it an awful row," Jack replied, candidly, "therefore have the goodness to shut up."
The orphan drew himself up and clutched his flute in a kind of convulsive indignation.
"I object to shutting up, Mr. Harkaway," he exclaimed, determinately; "in fact, I will not shut up. In this dulcet instrument I have found a balm for all my woes, and I intend to play it incessantly for the rest of my existence."
"You'll blow yourself into a consumption," said Harry Girdwood.
"Well, if I do, I'm only a poor orphan whom no one will regret," returned Mr. Figgins, a tear trickling down his nose at the thought of his lonely condition; "I shall die breathing forth some mournful melody, and my flute will——"
"You can leave that to us as a legacy, and we'll put it under a glass case," said Harry.
"No; my flute shall be buried with me in the silent grave."
"We don't care what you do with it after you're dead," returned Jack, "but we object to being annoyed with it while you're alive."
"Oh, you shan't be exposed to any further annoyances on my account," said the orphan, rising grandly; "I and my flute will take our departure together."
With these words he left the room, and very shortly afterwards quitted the house.
Mr. Figgins being determined to keep apart from the Harkaway party, gave up the rooms he had taken, and after some search found another lodging in the upper chamber of a house in a retired part of the town.
Here he determined to settle down, and devote himself with more ardour than ever to the practice of his favourite instrument.
It was night.
Mr. Figgins was in bed, but he could get no sleep.
Curious insects, common to Eastern climes, crawled forth from chinks in the walls and cracks in the floor, and nibbled the orphan in various parts of his anatomy till he felt as if the surface of his skin was one large blister.
"What a dreadful climate is this," he murmured, as he sat up in bed; "nothing but creeping things everywhere. Phew! what's to be done?"
He reflected a moment.
"I have it!" he exclaimed, "my flute, my precious flute, that will soothe me."
Hopping nimbly out of bed, he dressed himself in his European costume, seized his instrument, and began a tune.
He had been playing all day long, and the other lodgers in the house were congratulating themselves on the cessation of the infliction, when suddenly the instrumental torture commenced again.
"Too-too, too-tum-too, tooty-tum, tooty-tum, too-tum-too," went the flute, in a more shrill and vigorous manner than ever, whilst a select party of dogs, attracted by the melody, assembled under the window and howled in concert.
In the chamber next to that occupied by the infatuated Figgins lodged a Turk, Bosja by name.
Bosja, in the first place, had no taste for music, and particularly detested the sound of a flute.
Secondly, he was suffering from an excruciating toothache, and the incessant too-tum, too-tum, tooty-tum-too—with the additional music of the dogs—drove him mad.
He was sitting up with his pipe in his mouth, and a green, yellow-striped turban pulled down over his ears, trying to shut out the sound, but in vain.
"Oh, oh! Allah be merciful to me!" he groaned, as the irritated nerve gave him an extra twinge.
"Too-too, too-tum-too, too-tum, too-tum, tooty-tum-too," from the orphan's flute answered him.
"Allah confound the wretch with his tooty-tum-too!" growled the distracted sufferer; "if he only knew what I am enduring."
But this Mr. Figgins did not know.
Probably he would not have cared if he had known, and he continued to pour forth melodious squeakings to his own entire satisfaction.
At length the patience of Bosja was utterly exhausted, and he summoned the landlady.
"What son of Shitan have you got in the next room?" he demanded of her, fiercely.
"I know very little of him," returned the mistress of the house; "only that he is a Frankish gentleman, who dresses sometimes as a Turk, and has lately come to lodge here."
"He is a dog, and the son of a dog! May his flute choke him, and his father's grave be defiled!" growled the irascible Turk, "tell him to leave off, or I will kill him and burn his flute."
The landlady went at once and tapped at the door of the musical lodger.
There was no response save the too-too-too of the flute.
"Signor!" she called after a moment.
"What's the matter?" inquired Mr. Figgins from within; "do you wish me to come and play you a tune?" and he then continued "too-too, tooty-too."
"The gentleman in the next room objects to the sound of your flute."
"Does he?—tooty-too, tooty-too."
"Yes; and he begs you'll leave off."
"I shan't!—tooty-tum, tooty-tum, tooty-too. I intend to play all night."
The landlady, having delivered her message, went downstairs.
Mr. Figgins still continued to blow away and the agonized Bosja to mutter curses not loud, but deep, upon his head and his instrument.
But patience has its limits, and Bosja, never remarkable for that virtue, having sworn all the oaths he knew twice over, at last sprang from his bed, and dashing down his pipe, rapped fiercely at the wall.
"What do you want? Shall I come and play a few tunes to you?" inquired the orphan, placidly pausing for an instant.
"You vile son of perdition, stop that accursed noise!" shouted the Turk.
"Do you hear, unbelieving dog?"
"Tooty-too—yes, I hear—tooty-tooty-tooty-too."
"Then why don't you stop?"
"Because I intend to go on—too-tum-too—all night"
"But you're driving me to distraction."
"Nonsense; go to bed and sleep—tooty-tum, tooty-tum, tooty-too. You will like the beautiful flute in time."
"But I can't sleep with that infernal tooty-too in any ears, and I've got the toothache."
"Have it out. You'll feel better."
This cool irony on the part of Mr. Figgins was like oil poured upon the fierce temper of the irascible Bosja, and he shouted loudly—
"If I hear any more of that diabolical 'tootum-too,' I swear by Allah I'll take your life, and give your body to the crows and vultures."
"Ha, ha!" laughed the reckless Figgins. "Tooty-tum, tooty-tum, too-tum—"
But before he could finish his musical phrase, the maddened Bosja had seized his scimitar, and rushed like a bull at the partition.
The partition was thin, the Turk was burly and thick, and he plunged through head first into the orphan's apartment, to the no little surprise and dismay of the latter.
It was quite a picture.
Bosja waved his weapon over his head; Mark Antony Figgins hopped upon the bed and wrapped himself tightly round in the clothes, clutching his flute to his side.
For a moment the pair stood glaring at each other.
"Your flute, vile dog, or your life," shouted the Turk.
"I object to part with either," cried the orphan. "Go and have your tooth out, and be happy."
Down came the scimitar with a swish in the direction of his head.
But the grocer had quickly withdrawn it beneath the clothes.
Not to be thwarted, however, in his vengeance, the burly Bosja swooped down upon the heap, and dragged them up in his grasp, the orphan included.
"Now I have you," he cried, as he seized the obnoxious flute.
"Give me my instrument, infidel," shrieked the orphan, as he threw off the blanket, and clung to the flute with desperation.
At the same moment, he recognised the green and yellow-striped turban on the head of the Turk.
It was Bosja into whose hands it had fallen, when Mr. Figgins was escaping from the mob.
"That is my turban," he cried, as with one hand he dragged it from his enemy's head, with dauntless vehemence, and bringing his flute down with a smart crack on the Turk's bald pate.
The Turk, who was much more of a bully than a hero, was quite confounded at the excited energy which the Frankish lodger displayed. Dropping his scimitar, he then had a struggle for the flute.
Round the room they went, pulling and hauling.
At length, lurching against the door, it burst open.
The combatants now found themselves on the landing.
Here the struggle continued, till, at length, giving a desperate tug, the flute came in half, and Bosja fell backwards, head over heels, down the stairs, with the upper joint of the instrument in his hand.
The landlady, who thought the house was falling, came hurrying to see what had happened, and found the Turk lying in a heap at the bottom of the stairs, with the breath almost knocked out of his body.
It took some time to bring him to himself.
It was just as he was recovering there was a loud knocking at the street door.
On opening it, a body of Turkish soldiers appeared drawn up in front of it.
"What is the cause of this disturbance?" inquired the leader of the troop.
Bosja quickly gave his own version of what had happened.
Of course, it was highly exaggerated.
He, a true believer, had been assaulted, robbed of his turban, and thrown downstairs by a rascally dog of a Giaour, who lodged in a room next to him.
This was quite sufficient to arouse the indignation of the officer, and, with three of his troop, that functionary ascended to seize the delinquent.
But, on reaching the room, it was discovered to be empty.
"The Frankish hound laughs at our beards," said the officer. "He has escaped by the window."
And such had been the intention of Mark Antony Figgins.
But not being accustomed to such perilous descents, he had found himself baffled in his flight, and was now perched on a ledge, half way between the window and the ground, unable either to proceed or to return.
He was soon espied by the soldiers, and a shout announced his detection.
A ladder was quickly procured, and the luckless orphan very shortly found himself a prisoner.
"What dirt have you been eating?" demanded the officer, sternly.
"I haven't been eating dirt at all," returned the indignant Figgins, "but I believe that fat Turk has swallowed half of my flute."
Bosja came forward at this with the missing portion in his hand, and handed it to the officer.
The orphan made a snatch at it, but received only a box on the ear from the officer.
The other half of his cherished instrument was wrested from him, and he marched off to the lock-up until the case could be tried on the morrow before the bashaw.
HOW THE FLUTE ADVENTURE TERMINATED.
The morrow had come.
Hearing that a Frank was to be tried, the court was crowded.
At the appointed hour Mark Antony Figgins, looking particularly doleful, was conducted from his cell to the presence of the administrator of the law.
Osman, the ruling bashaw, although a Turk, was a regular Tartar to deal with.
He administered plenty of law, but very little justice; if the latter was required, money was the bashaw's idol, and it must be handsomely paid for.
As soon as the parties were brought in, the judicial potentate eyed them sternly for some time.
Then he said—
"Which is the plaintiff?"
"I am," exclaimed Bosja.
"No; I am," exclaimed Mr. Figgins.
"What bosh is this?" cried the bashaw; "you can't both be plaintiffs."
"Most high and mighty, he robbed me of my turban and knocked me down stairs," affirmed Bosja.
"No, your worship; he robbed me of my turban and stole half my flute," protested the orphan.
The official dignitary frowned and shut his eyes reflectively.
He foresaw that he had a case of unusual intricacy before him, and he was thinking how he should deal with it.
After a moment he opened his eyes, rubbed his nose profoundly, and sneezed.
All the officials imitated their superior by rubbing their noses and sneezing in concert.
The uproar was tremendous.
Order being at length restored, the bashaw fixed his eyes upon Bosja, and said to him—
"Let me hear what you have to say."
"It is this. Your slave last night was troubled with the toothache, and retired to his couch. The pain kept me awake, and just as I was going to sleep—"
"Stop!" cried the bashaw; "you say that the pain kept you awake, and then you say you were going to sleep. You couldn't be awake and asleep at the same time."
A hum of applause ran round the court at this sagacious remark.
"He speaks the words of wisdom," murmured some.
"What a lawyer he is," whispered others.
"I had been awake for some hours," explained Bosja, "when the pain lulled a little, and I began to doze."
"Well, you began to doze, and then?"
"Then I was disturbed by a dreadful squeaking noise in the next room."
"No, your highness; a flute."
"That was my flute, your worship," cried the indignant orphan; "whose dulcet tone he calls a dreadful sque——"
"Silence, dog," shouted the bashaw.
"Silence," shouted everyone else.
"Continue," said the judge to Bosja.
"I endured the dreadful sound as long as I could, until the anguish of my tooth became so great I could bear it no longer, and I sent a civil messenger to the Frank yonder to cease."
"And he complied with your request?"
"Not he, your mightiness. He played all the louder, and the dreadful noise he made nearly killed me."
"I was in my own room, your worship," interposed Mr. Figgins, "and had a right to play as loud as I liked."
The bashaw here referred to his vizier.
"What says the law?" he asked, in a low tone. "Does it permit a man to do what he likes in his own room?"
The vizier scratched his nose and reflected.
All the officials scratched their noses and reflected.
After a moment the vizier replied—
"It all depends, most wise and illustrious. If the owner of the room be a true believer, he may turn it upside down if he please, not else."
"Good; and this flute-player is an infidel—a dog."
"I beg your pardon, sir, I'm a retired grocer," put in Figgins, who overheard the remark.
"Silence," growled the bashaw; "go on, plaintiff."
"Well, your highness," continued Bosja, "I continued to get worse and worse under this dreadful 'too-tooting', until at last, driven to desperation, I sprang from my bed, and hammered at the wall, imploring him to be quiet."
"And he still refused?"
"He did, your mightiness."
"I was imploring Allah to soften his unmerciful heart, when suddenly he burst through the partition, which was thin——"
"No, no, no, your worship," interrupted Mr. Figgins, vehemently, "it was he who burst through, not me."
"Silence," cried the bashaw; "dare not to interrupt the words of truth."
"But they're not words of truth, your worship; they're abominable—false."
"Silence, dog," shouted the potentate, crimson with anger.
"Silence, dog," echoed the rest of the judicial body.
"Well, your highness," went on Bosja, "he then seized me violently, tore my turban from my head, and endeavoured to thrust his diabolical, 'too-tooing' instrument down my throat."
"To which you objected?"
"Strongly, your highness. I seized the flute in self-defence, and it came in half in my hand, and he then dragged me from the room, and with gigantic strength, hurled me backwards down the stairs."
"Allah Kerin, it was a mercy your back was not broken," exclaimed the bashaw.
"I feel sore all over, your highness," said Bosja, ruefully, "and fear I am seriously injured."
"And the culprit was endeavouring to escape, was he not?" asked the judge.
"He was, your mightiness, when my soldiers discovered him clinging to the wall," replied the officer of the soldiers.
"Wallah thaih, it is well said."
The bashaw conferred again with his vizier for a moment, and then, turning towards the luckless Figgins, who found himself changed from the plaintiff into the defendant, he said to him sternly—
"And now, unbelieving dog, what have you to say?"
"Only this," the orphan replied, without hesitation; "that that witness has uttered a tissue of abominable lies."
"I have spoken naught but the truth," exclaimed the unblushing Bosja, solemnly. "Bashem ustun, upon my head be it."
"Well, let us hear what account you have to give," said the bashaw to the defendant.
"My account is very simple," said Figgins. "I was playing my flute, when that Turk insisted on my stopping. I considered I had a right to do as I liked in my own apartment and refused."
"You had no right to do as you liked."
"What, not in my own chamber that I had paid for?"
Mr. Figgins shook his clenched fist fiercely in the air at this extraordinary declaration.
"There's neither law nor justice here," he cried, indignantly. "In England——"
"You're not in England, dog," shouted the bashaw, "you're in Turkey."
The orphan felt painfully at that moment that he was.
"I don't care how soon I'm out of such a miserable den of thieves and rogues," he said.
"What does the fellow say?" demanded the bashaw, who did not quite understand all the orphan said.
"He says his face will be whitened by the rays of your highness's wisdom, the like to which he has never before seen," the vizier interpreted.
"Umph!" growled his superior.
Then addressing himself once more to the defendant, he said—
"Well, in the midst of my practice that fat Turk burst through the partition of my room, scimitar in hand. The first thing I saw on his head was my turban, which I lost a week ago. I seized my own property——"
"Inshallah!" shouted the bashaw, "this fellow is telling the same story as the other. He is laughing at our beards and making us eat dirt. I'll hear no more."
"But, your worship——"
"I'll hear no more!" shouted the judge. "I find him guilty on all points."
"But my flute——"
"Your flute is forfeited."
The orphan uttered a cry of despair.
"My flute that cost me twenty-five pounds only a week since," he wailed dolefully.
The bashaw pricked up his ears at these words.
A man who could afford to give twenty-five pounds for a flute must be possessed of property.
The scales of justice quivered whilst he whispered to his vizier—
"This Frank is rich, is he not?"
"Heaven forbid that I should venture to dispute your highness's opinion. Most of his countrymen are so," the subordinate replied.
"Let us see."
Looking towards the agitated grocer, the bashaw said, in a modified tone—
"The law pronounces you guilty. Still, in our mercy and clemency, we incline to show you favour. Your flute, for which it seems you paid twenty-five pounds, is forfeited; but, for another twenty-five you may redeem it."
The orphan was dreadfully indignant.
"What!" he cried, "pay twice over for what's my own property? I won't pay another farthing, you pot-bellied old humbug."
"What does he say?" asked the bashaw of his vizier; "does he consent?"
The interpreter turned slightly green with dismay as he stammered in reply—
"He expresses himself utterly overpowered by the—the—splendour of your highness's magnificent condescension; but—a—a—at the same time he is not at the present moment able to a—avail himself of it."
"You mean to say he has no sufficient funds—is that it?"
"Yes, your highness."
The disappointed bashaw uttered an angry grunt, and looking savagely at the prisoner, said to him—
"Since you can't pay, you must——"
"I can pay," shouted the orphan, in a furiously indignant tone; "but I won't."
The bashaw grinned at him like a fiend, and demanding the flute to be handed to him, held it up before the eyes of the whole court.
"Be witness all," he exclaimed, "that yonder obstinate Frank despises our clemency, and refuses to redeem this flute, his property."
"That flute is not his property, it is mine," cried a voice from the crowd.
At the same moment a portly Turk, in a red fez cap, pressed forward.
He was recognised at once as Kallum Beg, a Turk of distinction, but who at times had to be treated as a madman.
"That flute is mine, O noble bashaw!" he repeated.
The judge winked and blinked, and seemed greatly perplexed at this unexpected declaration.
"Yours?" he echoed, at length.
"Yes, your highness. I was robbed of it a week since."
"And that lying son of Shitan told us he bought it for twenty-five pounds."
"So I did," protested the orphan.
"Silence!" roared the bashaw, "you have made us eat nothing but dirt. You know you stole it."
Then turning to the rightful owner of the instrument, he said to him—
"Kallum Beg, the flute is yours. Still as you contradicted me in the open court, declaring it to be your property, when I had declared it to be the property of another, you are fined fifty sequins."
The Turk grunted, and shrugged his shoulders, for each of which offences he was instantly fined an additional fifty sequins, making a hundred and fifty. There being no appeal, the fine was paid and Kallum Beg received his flute.
"And now," continued the bashaw, "let that unbelieving dog receive twenty strokes of the bastinado, on the soles of his feet."
In an instant the orphan was jerked off his legs, and placed flat on the ground.
The executioner stepped forward, and having removed his slippers, flourished his cane.
"Begin," cried the judge.
Swish fell the bamboo upon the orphan's naked feet.
The pain was so exquisite that the victim shrieked "Murder!" at the top of his voice.
The bashaw grinned from ear to ear.
"Perhaps the prisoner would rather pay than suffer," he said, after a moment.
"Yes, yes, I would," cried Mr. Figgins, desperately; "a great deal rather. How much?"
"Ten sequins a stroke. A hundred and ninety sequins in all."
"I'll pay the sum. Oh, why did I ever leave delightful London?" said the grocer.
"Raise him!" said the bashaw.
The victim was lifted up, and a messenger dispatched with a note to young Jack Harkaway to forward the orphan's cash-box.
In a short time the man returned, and the box was at once handed over to the bashaw, who having received the key, helped himself at once to double the sum he had demanded.
"Now I suppose I'm at liberty," said Mr. Figgins, glancing, wistfully at his cash box.
"Not just yet," returned the grasping judge, who having the money in his possession, was resolved to appropriate as much as possible.
"I'm inclined to think that you have been unjustly accused. I therefore permit you as a particular favour to avenge yourself upon Bosja. You must fight with him, kill him if you can, and I shall not hold you responsible."
The orphan looked unutterable things at this permission, whilst Bosja, who was a great coward at heart, turned all manner of colours.
"Your mightiness——" he began.
But the bashaw cut him short.
"You are fined fifty sequins for speaking when you are not spoken to," he cried; "treasurer, collect the money."
But Bosja had not a single coin left.
"Then he must go to prison," said the judge, sternly; "but not till after he has fought with the man he has falsely accused."
"I've no wish to fight. I want to go home," exclaimed Mr. Figgins.
"You're fined another fifty sequins," remarked the bashaw, blandly; "for not wishing to fight when I say you are to fight."
Whilst the judge dipped once more into the cash-box, the executioner went for weapons, and shortly reappeared with a couple of enormous scimitars, which he placed in the hands of the combatants.
A dead silence fell upon the eager crowd, who longed for the fight to commence.
"Are you ready?" demanded the bashaw.
"N-n-n-no, I'm not," faltered the orphan, whose ferocity had entirely disappeared with the loss of his flute; "I'm not a fighting man, and I don't like fighting with swords—I might get hurt. I would rather forgive Mr. Bosja than kill him."
His opponent evinced his satisfaction at this humane proposal by a ghastly smile.
But his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth with terror, and he said nothing.
But the bashaw was not to be thwarted in this manner.
"It is my will that you fight," he said, in a determined tone; "and fight you must, or each find a substitute."
The combatants strained their eyes eagerly amongst the crowd.
But no one volunteered to take their places.
Suddenly Mr. Figgins caught sight of a black figure that was pantomiming to him very eagerly in the distance.
A flash of joy rushed across his troubled spirit.
It was Tinker.
He could judge by his actions he was ready to take his place, and therefore he exclaimed aloud—
"I've found a substitute."
"Where?" demanded the bashaw, looking intensely disappointed.
"Here de dustibute," shouted Tinker, in reply; "make way, you whitey-brown Turkies, an' let de rale colour come forrards."
As he spoke, he elbowed his way through the crowd till he reached the space in front of the seat of justice.
Here he shook hands with Mr. Figgins, and nodded as familiarly to the bashaw as though he had been a particular friend of his.
"What son of Jehanum is that?" growled the bashaw, scowling fiercely at Tinker.
"He is my substitute," exclaimed the grocer.
"Is he? And do you know what you must pay to be allowed to make use of him?" asked the bashaw.
"No, you old thief, I don't," said Figgins, softly; then aloud—"how much?"
"Two hundred sequins," said the judge.
"Oh, certainly," assented the orphan; "no doubt you intend to empty my box before you let me go."
This restored the complacency of the bashaw, who, having by this last demand used up all the grocer's cash, finished by taking possession of his cash-box to carry it away in.
Having locked it safely up, he cried—
"I wish to be amused. Let the fight commence at once."
Tinker received a scimitar from the hands of Mr. Figgins, and flourished it gaily round his head.
Bosja, who could not afford to pay for a substitute, made a great effort to pull himself together for the strife, but he looked very white, and his teeth chattered audibly.
"Now, slaves, begin," exclaimed the judge.
Tinker gave a semi-savage yell, just to encourage his opponent, and then, with a most ferocious grin on his dark face, he sprang forward.
Bosja, scared out of his wits, struck wildly at random.
His scimitar came in contact with nothing but air, whilst Tinker gave him a slight prod with his sabre's point in the region of his baggy breeches.
Bosja felt it, and believing himself seriously wounded, uttered a doleful howl.
The crowd applauded.
Tinker hopped round him as nimbly as a tomtit or a jackdaw, and presently gave him another little taste of his steel.
Bosja, fully impressed with the idea that he was bleeding to death, began to grow desperate.
Grasping his scimitar more firmly, he rushed in at his sable antagonist, but Tinker, by a skilful manœuvre, locked his hilt in that of his foe's weapon, and wrested it from his hand, following up his advantage with a smart tap on Bosja's skull with the flat of his blade.
This was a settler for the Turk, who, under the pleasing conviction that his brains were knocked out, uttered a piteous groan, and fell fainting on the ground.
The spectators did not appear to relish the defeat of their countryman, and loud murmurs of discontent burst forth, in the midst of which the bashaw rose.
"Stop the fight, and arrest the murderer," he cried.
Several of the soldiers and a few of the spectators advanced with alacrity to obey the order, but Tinker suddenly delivered one of his startling war whoops and flourished a glittering scimitar in each of his hands.
It seemed prudent to do so, for the negro grinned and gnashed his teeth like a dark demoniac, as he sharpened his weapons one upon the other, preparatory to some deadly work of destruction.
Having performed this operation, he cried—
"Now de amputashun goin' to begin!" and uttering another terrible yell, dashed in amongst the guards.
The soldiers, astonished and appalled, dropped their weapons and fled from the court, calling upon the Prophet to save them from the wild fiend.
Having got rid of the soldiers, Tinker tripped up Kallum Beg, and wresting his flute from his hand, helped that worthy individual to creep out on his hands and knees by the wholesome stimulant of the points of his two scimitars.
Next he sprang amongst the spectators, shrieking and flourishing his weapons.
What with the clash of the steel and the hideous outcry he made, the Moslem crowd were beside themselves with terror.
Struggling, shouting, and declaring that the devil himself was let loose, among them, they fought, and scratched, and pulled off turbans, and tumbled over each other till they reached the door.
The court was cleared.
All but the bashaw and his principal ministers, who still congregated round the judgment seat, blue with terror.
"Seize him! seize the imp of Jehanum!"
"Allah preserve me!" cried the potentate, who was holding on tenaciously to the vizier.
But the vizier made no attempt to obey his superior.
He was clinging to another vizier, imploring Allah to preserve him.
Up sprang Tinker, yelling and waving his sword.
"'Ssassinashun! spifl'cashun! string'lashun to de 'ole lot ob yah!" he shouted.
The officials did not wait to be operated upon.
"Look after the cash-box," gasped the bashaw, as he waddled down the steps.
The rest followed, forgetting everything but their own personal safety.
The cash box was left behind.
Tinker pounced upon it.
"'Ooray!" he shouted, triumphantly; "him got de flute and de cash-box as well. Cock-a-doodle-doo!"
Quick as lightning he rushed to the door.
At the entrance he encountered the bashaw, who had discovered his loss.
"Son of perdition, give me my property," he cried.
Tinker gave it him immediately—on his head.
The effect was stunning.
Down went the "Cream of Justice" and the "Flower of wisdom" senseless to the ground.
Tinker sprang over him, and hurried away with the swiftness of a deer.
The orphan had long since taken his flight.
But, to his great joy, he received from the brave negro not only his coin, but what he prized more—his flute.
MR. MOLE'S LETTER—A TRIP ASHORE—THE TURKISH BAZAAR—A MUSSULMAN SLIPPER MERCHANT—WONDER ON WONDERS—BY THE PIPER THAT PLAYED BEFORE MOSES, AN IRISH TURK.
It is now high time to give Mr. Mole's letter which threw young Jack Harkaway and his friend Harry Girdwood into such a state of excitement.
Here it is verbatim.
"My Dear Boy Jack,—The prolonged silence you have kept has rendered your absence a matter of serious moment to us all here, and to me more than all; I can bear it no longer. I intend to come in search of you and see for myself what keeps your tongue tied. Ah, I mean to rout you out and give a sharp eye to your shortcomings. Expect me then soon, for I hope to run athwart you, yardarm and yardarm, as an old salt we once knew used to say.
"Believe me, my dear Jack,
"Ever sincerely yours,
"P.S.—I am told that the native liquors where you are staying are more cheering than inebriating in their effects. This will suit me capitally; but as you and your companions may find sherbet rather thin diet, I shall bring with me a bottle or two of something with a more decided flavour."
"I tell you what," said Jack to his comrade Harry, "we shall have to look out for poor old Mole. We must send word back by special courier, that he may know what direction we have taken."
Messages were sent by sure hands to the different stations which they had made upon their journey, to guide Mr. Mole to the place Jack and Harry were stopping at.
"Meanwhile my only recommendation is, young gentlemen, that you don't get yourselves embroiled in any way with the native folks here any more. The Mussulmen are fierce and fanatical, and the least provocation may make them burst out into wildness."
The speaker was Captain Deering, and the occasion of it was the eve of another projected trip by Jack Harkaway and Harry Girdwood.
"We shall be careful, captain," said the latter.
"Of course," said Deering, with a merry twinkling in his eye; "you always are."
"There's not much to fear, captain," said Jack, lightly.
"Oh, yes, there is," responded Deering, quickly, "very much."
"Why, very little will provoke a Mussulman when he has to deal with a Christian."
"But no one would be indelicate enough to show a want of respect to their religious scruples," answered Harry.
"I don't see how we can interfere with them at all," said Jack. "Why should the question of religion be raised?"
"Not by you," returned Captain Deering, "but by them, for they will at any time unite to fall upon an unlucky Christian if opposed to a Mussulman in a dispute, should the Turk choose to invoke their aid against the unbelievers, as they stigmatise the Christians."
"Well, captain," said Jack, who jibbed at being lectured, "you need not fear for us; we shall be careful enough."
"No doubt, Master Jack," returned the captain, drily. "You're a mild spring chicken, you are; it is only that wild, rampagious companion of yours that I want you to look after."
Saying which, he left the two boys to their own devices.
"That's a nasty jar," said Harry, with a chuckle.
Tinker and Bogey were their only companions.
Jack and Harry had taken the orphan once more under their protection since his narrow escape from the trial he had passed through with the bashaw, and hearing from the orphan the description of the Turk he had bought his dress from, they resolved to pay him a visit.
In the bazaar there were Turks, Greeks, Armenians, Arabs, and a motley collection of coloured people.
The Turkish dealers sat at their stalls, pushing trade in a taciturn manner, speaking little, it is true, but when they did make a remark, it was to tell lies with earnest gravity about their wares.
"If you could only speak Turkish as glibly as you did to Mr. Figgins," said Harry Girdwood, "you should go and cheapen a fez for me, Jack."
"I could manage that, Harry," replied Jack.
"No, no," said Harry; "remember what the poor orphan suffered through buying his Turkish dress."
"Bother that," returned Jack. "Let's go and have a lark with that chap selling the slippers."
There were several slipper vendors present.
Jack picked up a pair of slippers and inquired the price.
The dealer gave him an odd look.
Jack looked round to Harry Girdwood for assistance.
"I can't help you," returned Harry. "Ask him again."
"What's the figure, old Turkey rhubarb?" asked Jack, bowing as if paying the merchant a compliment.
The Turk replied with the same gravity.
"He don't appear to understand," said Harry Girdwood. "Try him in St. Giles's Greek?"
"What's the damage for the brace of trotter boxes, old Flybynight?" demanded young Harkaway, looking as solemn as a judge.
The Turkish merchant repeated the price in his native tongue, and they made no progress in their deal.
While they were thus engaged, who should come into the bazaar but Nat Cringle, and with him their old friend the Irish diver?
"I'll put it to him. Mayhap he'll understand me. What an illigant ould thafe it is," said the diver, when he had waited some time for a reply.
"Why don't ye answer, ye dirrty ould spalpeen?" he demanded, after a pause. "Be gorra, av ye don't sphake, I'll give ye one wid my twig."
Saying which, he flourished his shillelagh before the slipper merchant's face, and then gave him a smart tap on his head.
The grave old Turk then found his tongue, and the reply was such a startler, that the four travellers were knocked off their moral equilibrium.
"Tare and 'ounds, ye blackyard omadhauns! Ye thavin' Saxin vaggybones! ave ye'd only thread on the tail av me coat, so as to give me a gintlemanly excuse for blackin' yer squintin' eyes, I'd knock yez into next Monday week, the blessed lot av yez!"
The four visitors stared at each other in wonder.
They had not a word to say for themselves.
No wonder that it took their breath away.
The Irish diver was the first to find his tongue.
"By the blessed piper that played before Moses, here's an Irish Turk!"
"Stop that!" ejaculated the slipper merchant; "av ye call me names, I'll have a go at yez av ye was as big as a house."
"Ye're Paddy from Cork," retorted the diver.
"Niver," protested the merchant, stoutly.
"Get along wid yez," retorted the diver, "ye Mahommedan Mormonite; now I'll take short odds to any amount up to a farden that that brogue came from Galway. Tell the truth, and shame the ould gintleman as shall be nameless."
The Turk had an inward struggle, and then he confessed. He was an Irishman, settled for some years in Turkey.
"But devil a word must ye say. Ye'll spoil me shop entirely," he said, "av the folks hereabout takes me for a Christian gintleman, and I shall be kilt intirely."
PADDY MAHMOUD PLAYS THE PASHA—LOCAL STATISTICS—VISIT TO THE KONAKI—HOSPITALITY VERSUS AL KORAN.
The Irish Turk contrived, after some talk, that our friends should procure an entry into the palace of the pasha.
"Back stairs infloonce, me boys," said the Irish Turk, with a wink, "is an illigant institooshn, and is jist as privlint here, sorrs, as it is in St. James's or at the castle."
"How do you work it?"
"I have my own particular pals, which shall be nameless, at the pasha's palace."
The Irish Turk looked very demure and replied—
"Not exactly officers; officeresses, ye understand."
"You're a terrible Turk, Paddy," laughed young Jack.
"When shall we be able to get over the palace?" demanded Harry Girdwood.
"Come to me in the course of to-morrow afternoon," said the Irish Turk.
This arranged, they strolled through the bazaar, trading and bartering with the dealers, and making an odd collection of purchases, to take home as curiosities.
But of all the curiosities, the most remarkable was perhaps a pair of real Egyptian mummies, which they discovered in the possession of a shrewd and greedy old Arab.
"We shall have quite an extensive museum," said Jack.
"Blessed if I care to see a brace o' stiff uns on board," growled Nat Cringle.
"We shall not for the present take them on board," said Jack; "we shall first take them to our rooms. We shall find some use for the mummies, eh, Harry?"
"I believe you, my boy," said Harry. "We'll name the mummies Mole and the orphan. Ha, ha!"
Well, that same afternoon, as agreed upon, young Jack and Harry Girdwood presented themselves at the residence of the Irish Turk, Paddy Mahmoud Ben Flannigan, as the boys had christened him.
They had got themselves up à la Turc.
Tinker and his attendant Bogey were also suitably attired.
They found the Irishman seated upon the floor with his legs under him.
He arose as the guests entered, and advanced to greet them politely.
"Make yourselves at home, gentlemen," he said, "and say what'll ye take before we get along."
Jack tipped the wink to his companion.
"I'd like a little nip of something to cure the belly-ache," he answered slily.
"Ye can have that same," responded their host.
He went to a cupboard, and produced a stumpy, but capacious bottle, and three glasses.
"Whatever is that?" said Harry, in affected surprise.
"A drop of the crater," responded Paddy Mahmoud, pouring it out.
"Here's your health," said Harry Girdwood.
The two lads nodded at their host, and sipped.
The Irish Turk tossed off his whisky at a gulp.
"When shall you be ready to go up to the palace?" asked Jack.
"All in good time," returned the host. "In the first place, it is not called the palace."
"That's it. Now I'll show you exactly how to conduct yourselves when you are presented at court," he said.
Three servants entered, carrying three pipes, each of the same size, and each having jewelled amber mouth-pieces.
The servants drew themselves up like automatons, each placing his right hand on his heart.
The next moment they were inhaling their first draught of some wonderful tobacco, the host keeping up the traditional Turkish custom of puffing half a minute or so before the guests.
When they had puffed away in silence for some little time, the servants returned.
One of them carried a crimson napkin, richly embroidered with gold, thrown over his left shoulder.
And others carried a coffee tray, upon which were cups of elegant filagree work.
Each of the guests were presented with a cup of coffee—not very nice according to our notions, being thick, unstrained and unsweetened.
Yet the Turks are considered the only people who really understand the art of making coffee.
This disposed of, the servants retired.
"Now," says the host, "that's just what ye'll have to do when you go up to the Konaki, to be, so to speak, presented at court. When you go visiting his excellency the pasha on any business, no matter how pressing it may be, you mustn't speak of it until the pipes and the coffee have been got through. You have only to observe this little customary bit of etiquette, and all will go on merrily as a marriage bell."
"Have you ever seen the pasha yourself?" asked Jack.
"What's he like?"
"Every inch a gentleman."
This rather surprised them.
"Now let's come off, and you shall see over the Konaki."
THE JOYS OF THE SERAGLIO—A GROUP OF PEEPING THOMASES—THE CIRCASSIAN SLAVES—TINKER AND BOGEY ARE IN FOR IT—THE ALARM—ATTEMPTED RESCUE—AWAY WITH THEM—THE IRISHMAN TELLS A FEW WHITE ONES TO A PURPOSE.
The slipper merchant had selected a favourable moment for their visit to the Konaki.
The pasha—or to speak more correctly, the pasha's deputy, for it was the deputy that had imposed upon the poor orphan—was absent from the house temporarily, and so they were able to walk about whither they listed, thanks to the backstairs influence of which their friend and guide had boasted.
The head of the pasha's household was the person to whom they owed this unusual privilege.
There was not a great deal to see in the Konaki now that they were there, and their visit would probably have been cut very short had they not been attracted by sounds of distant music just as they were upon the point of leaving.
"What's that?" said Jack.
"That's from the seraglio," returned their conductor; "some Circassian girls that have just been sent as a present to the pasha are very clever dancers, it is said."
Jack pricked up his ears at this.
"Come on," he said, moving forward briskly.
"To this seraglio?"
"Why, you rash boy," said the Irish Turk, with a frightened look, "do you know what you are talking about?"
"Well, yes, I think so," said Jack; "dancing Circassian girls and the seraglio was the topic of the conversation, unless I am wandering in my mind."
"Faith, ye must be mad," said the Irishman, gravely; "why, they'd think hanging too good for any man that even looked at the harem."
"So should I," returned Jack; "I've no wish to be hanged; it's too good for me. Come on."
"Don't be foolish; it's death, if we're caught."
"All right," said Jack, cheerfully; "it's sure then that we mustn't be caught, but I don't mean to miss the chance all the same."
The Irishman resisted stoutly.
But Jack was more obstinate than he was, and so the Irishman was forced to yield a point.
"I know where there's a gallery that overlooks the harem, and you can see all the fun of the fair without being observed."
"You seem to know the place very well," said Jack.
"But of course you have never been to this identical gallery before?" said Jack, innocently.
His eagerness to impress this upon them told its own tale.
"I should think that's true, Jack," said Harry, demurely.
"Oh, yes, quite," said Jack, winking at Harry.
The Irishman led the way along a paved passage, at the end of which was an arched entrance to an apartment, closed off only by a heavy curtain.
"You see that curtain?" whispered their guide.
"That's the harem."
"Come on, then," said Jack, eagerly.
"Stop, stop!" exclaimed the Irishman. "The other side of the curtain are two——"
Before he could complete the sentence, the curtain was dragged aside, and two armed negroes appeared.
Their appearance was sudden and startling.
Each carried a drawn sword, a scimitar of formidable size.
They looked about as ugly customers as you would wish to see.
"Two eunuchs," whispered the Irishman, "they are guarding the seraglio. Come away."
"Ugly enough for heathen gods," whispered Harry Girdwood.
The two eunuchs stood like statues on guard.
The slipper merchant said something to them in Turkish which appeared to satisfy them.
"Massa Jack," whispered Tinker, who was one of the party, tugging at his young master's sleeve, "Massa Jack."
"Dat one ob de beasts what chuck de pusson in de water alive in de sack, sar."
"What!" ejaculated Harry Girdwood.
"Fack, Massa Harry," said Tinker, stoutly. "Guess I know dat ugly brack niggar, sar, a tousan' mile off—beast!"
"Come on. Don't appear to notice them," said the Irishman. "It's awkward work now. If they had half a suspicion, they would drop on us right and left, and not leave a limb on either one of our blessed bodies."
He led the way until they came to a gallery that overlooked the seraglio.
Their leader now warned them to keep silent.
In the chamber below were about a dozen Turkish ladies, all unveiled.
They were all gorgeously attired, and lolling about in indolent attitudes, as if life were an indescribable bore to them.
Upon a square fringed carpet in the middle of the room a Circassian girl of rare beauty and perfect symmetry was gliding through a graceful dance, to a low, melodious measure, which another girl of her own country was chanting.
The dance resembled nothing that Jack and Harry had seen before.
As she turned round, the shawl she waved was made to describe a series of circles.
And then, as she came to a sudden stop, it fell around her in graceful folds and she looked like a very beautiful sculptured figure.
But before you could fairly admire her graceful form and beauteous face, she had bounded off again in the mazy dance, to the intense gratification of the idle lookers-on.
"What do you think of that?" whispered the Irishman.
"Lovely," returned Jack, enthusiastically.
"Beautiful," added Harry Girdwood. "What would little Emily say, Jack, if she knew you were looking with loving eyes at that little beauty?"
The mention of little Emily's name made Jack silent for a minute or two.
Presently he asked—
"Are these professional performers?"
"The dancer and the singer are two out of three Circassian slaves that have been sent to the pasha as a present during his journey. He will be pleased with the new acquisition when he returns, although one has met an untimely end."
"Slaves! Is it possible?" said young Jack.
"Rather, my boy."
"What will they do with these slaves?"
"Various things. Perhaps keep them to amuse the ladies of the harem, as you see now; perhaps make them beasts of burden; perhaps make more wives of them. His excellency is not particular to a wife or two."
"He's a beast!" said young Jack; "and I should like to kick him."
"Gently, gently; it's the system of the country, dear boys, nothing more."
"But," said Jack, "when you speak of the Circassian girl being sent as a present to the pasha, do you mean the real pasha or the deputy? For this Turk is the one that cheated the poor orphan out of his money."
"This is only the deputy; I mean the pasha himself," returned the Irish Turk. "The deputy would like to appropriate the slaves himself."
"Do you think so?"
"I know it, and he does not mind what you would call murder now and then."
"Perhaps that would account for what we saw in the bay, for the horrible business with the sack."
"More than likely," said the Irish Turk, gravely. "But a slave, more or less, even if it's a lovely girl, doesn't count for much in these parts."
The boys gave a shudder.
They were not used to hearing murder discussed in such a cold-blooded fashion.
"Tinker," said Jack, by way of changing the topic suddenly, "do you think that you or Bogey could dance like that girl?"
"Go an' dance like dat," he said contemptuously. "Me an' dat nigger dance a lot better, sar. Bogey!"
"Over wid you."
And then, to the surprise and dismay of all the rest, the two darkeys vaulted over the balustrade and dropped into the room beneath.
Had a bombshell fallen into the midst of the ladies of the harem, they could not have been more surprised.
There was a half-stifled shriek from one, and they all flew into a corner, where they stood huddled up together for protection.
But Tinker and his man were not at all put out by these strange demonstrations upon the part of the ladies.
"Yes, Massa Tinker."
"We'll jest take the floor togeder and show dem female gals what de poetry of motion is like."
"Yah, yah!" grinned Bogey; "go it, my hunkey boy."
And they did go it.
There was not much of the poetry of motion about it, their dance being of the breakdown genus.
And to tell the truth, the ladies appeared more frightened than pleased with the darkeys' extraordinary evolutions.
The double shuffle excited wonderment.
When Bogey and Tinker brought down their respective hoofs with a bang, great alarm was manifested.
By degrees, however, they appeared to grow more accustomed to the eccentric evolutions of the young negroes, and presently one of them laughed aloud at the quaint capers the boys were cutting.
This set them all laughing, and the mirth of the ladies was at its height, when certain alarming sounds were heard without.
"By the holy fly," ejaculated the Irishman. "there's a row in the house, and our frisky black boys'll lose their lives if they don't watch it."
"What's the matter?" demanded young Jack.
"The deputy-pasha is back," whispered the Irishman, in evident anxiety. "He has discovered the presence of strangers in the house. He's coming along here with his guards, and there'll be the very devil to pay."
"What, about Tinker and Bogey?"
"They're dead as door-nails. There is an unwritten law which sentences any man to death who violates the sanctity of a Turkish harem."
"Why don't they run out?" inquired Harry, anxiously.
"What for? To be cutdown by the armed eunuchs. No; better take their chance where they are."
"I'm not going to leave them to die," said Jack; "I'll have a shy, for it, if——"
"Hold your tongue," interrupted the Irishman, anxiously; "but look, what the dooce are the girls up to with your black boys?"
Tinker and Bogey laboured under a very great disadvantage.
They could neither understand nor make themselves understood by the fair creatures by whom they were surrounded.
However, they managed to glean that they were in danger, and that a temporary haven of safety was to be found in an inner room beyond the curtain facing the chief entrance, which was guarded by the two eunuchs.
They were bustled into that apartment by the ladies of the harem to a chorus of excited whisperings.
"Whatever are they going to do?" whispered Jack.
"Silence, not a word. Look there!" said the Irish Turk.
The heavy drapery before the chief entrance was drawn aside, and in marched the fierce-looking Turk, that had tried to rob the orphan and his cash-box, closely followed by the two eunuchs, who stood sentry at the doorway.
"Now, there'll be the devil to pay," whispered the Irishman.
Osmond, the ruling bashaw for the time, had heard that strangers were within the palace, and he hurried there with all speed.
When first he was apprised of this, his greed excited him, for some of the chief sweets of his office were the presents.
The deputy-pasha was ready to accept as many as he could send.
"Strangers are present," he exclaimed, addressing one of the favourite ladies; "now, by the beard of the Prophet, the intruders shall suffer!"
"What intruders?" said the lady.
The deputy-governor made towards the curtain.
But before he could enter, the lady with whom he had been talking placed herself in his way.
"Restrain your temper here," returned the lady; "his excellency would not be pleased to hear of this."
These words appeared to cool the ferocity of the deputy-governor a little.
"Let the strangers come forth then," he growled.
"It shall be done."
She passed to the further chamber.
A few moments later the curtain was dragged aside, and the two fair Circassians came forth, each leading a veiled girl by the hand.
Strapping girls they were too; but so closely veiled that it was impossible to see what their features were like.
"Were these the strangers?"
The deputy-governor glared at the new-comers, and then dismissed the Circassian girls.
They refused to go at first, upon which he grew rabid with anger.
"Your sister Selika opposed my wishes once," he said, with cruel significance; "she will never oppose me more. Begone!"
They tremblingly obeyed the tyrant.
This done, he sent the two armed eunuchs off with a wave of the hand.
"What's up now, I wonder?" whispered Jack.
The Irishman had an odd suspicion.
And his suspicion was very soon realised.
"Remove your veil," said Osmond, the deputy-pasha, peremptorily.
But he might as well have addressed a stone wall.
The tyrant waited a moment.
Then he seized one of the girls and dragged her aside, tearing down her veil as he did so, and—
Oh, what a roar.
A wild ejaculation of disgust escaped him, for the face under the veil was black.
Black as night, with huge, saucer-like eyes, and a huge mouth wearing a grin that was alarming.
"Yah, yah! don't you like me, old man? Tink I do for you? Yah, yah!"
And Tinker stood with his tongue out, grinning at the fierce Turk.
The deputy-governor, enraged, made a rush at poor Tinker, and gave him a spiteful, if undignified back hander.
"Golly!" cried Tinker. "Cantankerous immense beast, old Turkey."
Just then the tyrant was greeted with a stinging spank on the side of his face, and turning round, there was another negress—as he thought.
Or was it the same?
It looked the very identical face and form.
"Yah, yah!" grinned Bogey.
The deputy-governor looked round with a puzzled air.
"Yah, yah!" grinned Bogey, again.
"Yah, yah!" shouted Tinker, poking his fist into the ribs of the Turk, and nearly doubling him up.
The Turk heard the derisive laugh, and he felt the tingling of his ear and the poke in his ribs.
So he dashed at Bogey first.
Bogey feinted and dodged him.
But his petticoats got between his legs, and over he went sprawling.
The Turk sprang after him, and if Tinker had not been there, goodness knows what would have been the result.
But Tinker was very much there.
He bobbed his head and shot straight forward, landing his deputy-excellency fairly in the stomach, with his bare woolly pate.
"Ugh!" gasped the Turk, and down he went.
Bogey no sooner saw him there than he hammered into the Turk's figure-head in the most violent and ungentlemanly way.
Jack and Harry Girdwood laughed until the tears ran down their cheeks.
"Begorra," whispered the Irishman, "it's better than a pantomime, but some of us will suffer."
But the end of the adventure promised to be serious.
The fierce Turk grew frightened, and he called for assistance.
In came the armed eunuchs ready for slaughter.
"Good-bye to your boys," said the Irishman, in a whisper.
"Not if I know it," returned Jack; "I'm on in this scene, old man."
"I'm with you, Jack," cried Harry.
Jack was in danger. Over went Harry to help him.
The fierce Turk was filled with wonder and dismay; the enemies appeared to drop from the clouds.
"Now, old big bags," said young Jack, saucily, "come on, and see how a Boy of England can fight."
The words were not intelligible to the Turks, but the gesture was thoroughly understood.
There was a gong-bell close beside the deputy-pasha, and one tap on this sufficed to bring a whole mob of armed men into the room.
"Seize these Franks!" exclaimed the tyrant, still holding his hands round his sides in pain; "they have earned their fate. Let it be swift. Away with them—oh, I am nearly killed—away with them!"
They resisted stoutly enough, fought like tiger-cats; but what was the use?
The Irishman waited to hear an ugly order given anent bowstringing, and then he came down stairs, and made his way artfully (so that his presence in the gallery overlooking the seraglio might not be suspected) to the corridor, where he once more discovered the two armed eunuchs on guard, looking like ebony statues again, and as calm as if they had never taken part in the short but stirring scene just described.
"I wish to see his excellency the pasha," said he, "for I came here conducting two young Englishman, of great distinction, who brought some rich presents to his excellency."
One of the men went in, and brought out the tyrant.
To him the Irishman repeated his tale with an extravagant show of respect and deference.
"Are these the two Franks?" demanded the Turk.
He gave the word as he spoke, and out from the seraglio marched Jack and Harry Girdwood, their arms tightly bound to their sides, between a strong escort of armed men.
"Yes, excellency," answered the Irishman.
"Then they have been there," returned the deputy-pasha; "you know what that means?"
"They have erred through ignorance, your excellency."
"Then," replied the Turk, with vindictive significance, "within an hour they will grow wiser. Away with them!"
And the prisoners were all marched away.
"Begorra," muttered the Irishman to himself, "it's all up."
But he never relaxed his efforts for all this.
"Pardon, O excellency," he said, "but these young gentlemen who have offended through ignorance, being princes of the royal blood of Britain, their continued absence will lead to inquiries, and——"
"They shall die like dogs if they are kings," growled the deputy-pasha.
"Let me entreat humbly that you wait the return of his excellency, for these Franks are but savages, and the least slight, even to their princes, would bring their ships of war along our coast; the town would be razed to the ground."
"Ships of war!" responded the deputy-pasha.
"Yes, excellency," continued the Irishman, with a frightened air, seeing the slight advantage he had got now, "the ship they came in is now nearing the coast. It is well within range, with the cruel engines of war these barbarians use. I tremble for the Konaki."
"They would never dare——"
"Pardon, they would dare any thing. The death of the two princes of the blood royal would be the signal for the first shot, and then good-bye to us all."
The deputy-pasha paused.
The Irishman eyed him askance.
"Begorra!" he muttered to himself, "that ought to be sthrong enough for him. Them boys have made me tell enough lies in ten minutes to last a Turk himself a lifetime. Be jabers, I've pitched it sthrong with a purpose. He who hesitates is lost. He is thinking better of it."
The Irishman was right.
"I will reflect," said the Turk, with a dignified air; "I may not spare their lives, but possibly await the return of his highness the pasha."
The Irishman was dismissed.
He bowed and retired.
OSMOND AND LOLO THE SLAVE—THREATS AND DEFIANCE—THE CIRCASSIAN'S DOOM—OSMOND EARNS HIS REWARD.
The three Circassian slaves had been sent as a present to the real pasha, Osmond's master, by some friendly Algerian prince, and, arriving in the absence of the pasha, the deputy had cast greedy eyes upon the rich prize.
Finding all his authority was lost upon the Circassians girls, who stoutly refused to be persuaded, he grew vicious.
Nothing was positively known, but the tragedy which Jack and Harry Girdwood had witnessed hard by the water-gate of the Konaki, coupled with the recognition of the two eunuchs by Tinker as the two assassins whom he and Bogey had capsized into the water, made matters look altogether very suspicious indeed.
The few threatening words which Osmond had muttered to one of the fair Circassians, too, should have told their own tale.
The Circassian girls had endeavoured to screen those luckless negroes, Tinker and Bogey, for had they not led the boys into the presence of Osmond disguised as girls?
Here, then, was a pretext for further ill-usage of the unfortunate slaves.
The girls were brought into the tyrant's presence.
"Stand out, deceitful and faithless slave," he said, addressing one of the girls; "you are accused of treason to the pasha, and you know your fate."
The girl addressed made no reply but by a bold, defiant glance.
"You are to die," said Osmond, watching the effect of his words as he spoke.
The girls did not move nor utter a word.
"You know now my power," he went on to say in a low tone. "You have one chance of life yet; would you know what that is?"
He waited for an answer.
He waited in vain.
The proud Circassian girls did not deign to notice him.
"You remember what I told your sister?" he said. "Reconsider what I said, and it may not yet be too late."
"We do not need to speak again," returned one of the girls. "What we have already said is our resolve."
"Death!" hissed the Turk, between his teeth.
He eagerly watched for the terror his words should have produced.
"Sooner death ten hundred times," returned the Circassian proudly, "than acknowledge you for our master."
"You have spoken," exclaimed the Turk, fiercely.
He struck a bell, and one of the armed eunuchs entered.
"Remove these slaves to the cells as I told you; there they will remain until nightfall. You understand me?"
The man placed his finger upon his lip—a sign of implicit obedience—and the Circassian slaves were removed to prison.
They were doomed.
Another tragedy was planned—the sequel to that which Harry Girdwood and young Jack had witnessed almost as soon as they were upon the Turkish coast.
The cord and sack were once more to play their part.
And could nothing avert their fate?
Their peril was extreme—greater even than that of the English lads and their faithful followers, Tinker and Bogey.
"This is a pretty go," said Harry Girdwood, dolefully, as he looked round him.
His tone was so grumpy, his look so glum, that Jack could not refrain from laughing.
"Grumbling old sinner," said he; "you're never satisfied."
"Well, I like that," said Harry. "You get us into a precious hobble through sheer wanton foolery, and then you expect me to like it."
"Now, don't get waxy," said Jack.
Tinker and Bogey did not understand the full extent of their danger.
They sat at the further end of the same chamber, grinning at their masters, and, if the truth be told, rather enjoying the dilemma which they were honoured by sharing with them.
Their masters would be sure to pull them all through safely.
Such was their idea.
As soon as they had been left alone in their prison, the boys had made a survey, and Jack pronounced his opinion, and his determination with the old air of confidence in himself.
"They're treating us with something like contempt, Harry," he said.
"By not guarding us better than this," was the reply.
"I don't quite see that, Jack; the door would take us all our time to get through."
"Perhaps," returned Jack, "but look at the window, and just tell me what you think of that?"
The window, or perhaps we had better have said hole in the wall—for glass or lattice there was none—overlooked the sea.
They were in the part of the Konaki known as the water pavilion.
There was a drop of thirty feet to the water.
Just think what thirty feet is.
About the height of a two-story dwelling house.
"Supposing we get through there," said Harry Girdwood, "we should never be able to swim all the way out to a friendly ship.
"My dear old wet blanket," returned Jack, "I got you into this mess, and I'll get you out of it."
"I hope so."
They watched anxiously for a friendly ship.
At length their vigil was rewarded with success.
A big ship sailed into the bay with the British colours flying at her masthead.
They almost shouted with joy at the sight.
"That's a deuce of a way off," said Harry Girdwood.
"About a mile."
"A mile is a precious good swim," grunted Harry.
"So much the better. These villainous old Turks won't be suspicious, and a mile isn't much for either of us, I think. I don't mind it, and we can answer for Tinker and his prime minister."
"Dat's so," said Bogey, grinning from ear to ear. "Yah, yah! Me and Tinker swim with Massa Harry and Jack on our backs."
At dusk they matured their plan of action.
Tinker could float on the water like a cork, and was the swiftest swimmer of the four.
Tinker was, therefore, lowered as far down as they could manage, and then allowed to drop into the water.
It was a drop!
"Fought dis chile was gwine on dropping for a week, sar," said the plucky young nigger, subsequently.
However, once he was on the surface, and got his wind well, he darted through the water like a fish.
They watched his dusky form until they could see him no more.
He was lowered and dropped the same as Tinker, and speedily was upon the latter's track.
"Now my turn," said Jack. "I shall go in for a header."
"Don't," said Harry. "You'd never come up alive if you went down head first from this height."
And Jack was dissuaded from this purpose.
He squeezed his body through the aperture.
"Give me your hand, Harry, while I look over."
His comrade obeyed, and Jack was able to see about him.
Now on his left, not more than ten feet down, was a large doorway, with a flap similar to the doors on the water-side warehouses, in London, from where the stores are lowered and raised from the barges by means of an iron crane.
"I wonder what place that is?" said Jack; "if I could only reach it, my fall would be very considerably broken."
He had a try.
They fastened their two scarves together, and Harry, making himself a secure hold above, lowered Jack, and the latter swinging backwards and forwards twice, dropped the second time fairly on the ledge.
It was a perilous hold.
But Jack was only second to Nero in monkey tricks, and he held on in a most tenacious manner.
Swinging himself up he pushed his way into a dark and gloomy place.
A low vaulted chamber, dimly lighted by a flickering old lamp.
"Where am I now?"
Before he could look further to get an answer to this question, he was startled by the sound of footsteps.
What should he do?
Or should he wait?
He decided to wait.
He crept up into a corner, the darkest he could find, and there, with a beating heart, he awaited the progress of events.
He had not long to wait.
Two dusky forms glided spectrally into the place, one bearing a lamp.
With this, they looked about, and Jack, with a sinking at heart, recognised the two eunuchs again.
"What devilment are they working now?" thought Jack.
They flashed the light just then upon the objects of their search.
Two huge sacks lay upon the floor.
Jack but imperfectly discerned what they were; but a sickening dread stole over him, as the two eunuchs raised one of the sacks from the floor, and bearing it to the window, while its contents writhed and struggled desperately, hurled it out.
A stifled groan.
Jack could hear no more.
He was about to dart out from his hiding-place upon those black-hearted wretches, when a third person stepped into the chamber.
He said something to the two men—a few sharp words in an authoritative tone—and they retired.
Jack recognised the voice in an instant.
It was Osmond.
"What is he up to now?" muttered Jack, to himself.
A scene of intense excitement followed.
The Turk unfastened the cord which fastened the neck of the second sack, and dragged it open.
Then, raising the sack on end, he proceeded hastily to drag it down, revealing in the dim light the well-remembered form of one of the Circassian girls.
"Lolo," said Osmond, "I come to give you one last chance."
"I defy and despise you!" said the girl.
"You know well, as I have seen again and again by your looks, that I do not hate you——"
"Would you have me love the murderer of my sister?"
"I fear not your menaces," retorted the brave girl; "you must have seen that. The triumph is yours now—mine is to come."
"Hereafter. Murder is against your creed as it is against mine. Do your worst."
Osmond seized the girl by the wrist.
But she twisted himself free from his clutch without any particular effort.
Thereupon the Turk, with a growl of rage, drew his sword, and would have cut her down.
But Jack could stand no more.
Bounding forward from his hiding-place, he seized the uplifted hand and wrenched the sword from his grasp.
Then, without a word, Jack struck the man with the flat of his sword upon the back of the head.
The Turk sank to the ground with a hollow groan.
It was all so momentary that the beautiful Circassian girl looked on as one in a dream.
Hearing footsteps now, Jack ran to the doorway and peered out.
"Quick!" exclaimed Jack. "Lend me a hand, or we are lost."
She could not understand his words, but his meaning was plain enough.
They pulled the body into the sack as quickly as possible.
Then they hastily tied the cord around the neck of it.
This done, Jack extinguished the lamp.
There was no time to be lost.
He took the girl by the hand, and pulled her back into the nook where he had been hiding, just as the two villainous eunuchs entered the chamber.
The two eunuchs came slowly along the corridor.
Finding the place, as they thought, deserted, they simply raised the sack from the ground, thinking the body of the young Circassian girl was in it, and bore it to the opening.
One swing and over it went.
As it fell, a hollow groan came from the sack.
The two men stared at each other aghast, and looked over the opening.
But before they could utter a word, a stealthy form had crept up behind them, and with a vigorous drive, hurled them both over after the sack.
A wild, despairing yell, and the waters closed over these wholesale butchers.
LOLO'S GRATITUDE AND JACK'S DELIGHT—THE SIGNAL—UNEXPECTED TURN OF LUCK—A FAMILIAR VOICE—WHO IS IT?—"SURELY! NEVER!"—READ AND LEARN.
"That's a good job done!" said Jack, looking after the wretches he had pushed over.
The fair Circassian burst into tears now that the peril was over.
Falling upon her knees, she seized Jack's hands and pressed them to her lips.
She poured out a long string of thanks in the most eloquent language.
Although the language was so far wasted upon Jack, he could not fail to comprehend her meaning.
"There, there," said Jack, squeezing her hand in reply to her caresses, "don't take on so, my dear girl. The danger's over now."
But was it?
They had yet to get away.
Jack was no worse off than when in his prison ten feet higher up, it is true.
But what of Lolo?
How was she to manage?
While he was cogitating over this he heard a shrill whistle from below.
He ran to the window.
"Hist, Jack!" cried a familiar voice from the water.
"Drop down, Jack," returned Harry's voice. "Here I am, in a boat, as snug as a domestic pest in a railway wrapper."
Comic and tragic were so jumbled up in this startling series of adventures, that Jack scarce knew whether to laugh or to cry.
He did neither.
There was a rope close, handy upon a sack—its destination had certainly not been to save life—and Jack, with the quickness of thought itself, fastened it around the Circassian girl's waist.
She understood his meaning, and lent him all the assistance she could.
Once at the window, he fastened it securely, and proceeded to lower it down.
She looked down the dizzy height, and slightly shuddered.
And then, before trusting herself down, she threw her arms around her young preserver's neck, and embraced him tenderly.
"Bless you," said Jack, with emotion. "If I only bring you safe through this, it will be the proudest day in my life."
Now for it.
It was a perilous moment, for the poor girl could not help herself in any way.
But she was lowered in safety.
"Look out," said Jack, in a good loud whisper; "I'm coming now."
"Look sharp, then," called out Harry. "I smell danger."
"Make haste, dear boy," added a familiar voice.
The sound thrilled Jack strangely.
He was so full of the present adventure and its perils, that he could not give much thought to the voice now.
Yet it rang on his ears as of old days.
"You're nearly down," said Harry Girdwood. "Drop now, old fellow."
As soon as he reached the boat, he was seized in the arms of the Circassian girl, Lolo, who hugged him as if she would never part with him again.
"Now, my love," said that same familiar voice, "when you've done with that boy, I should like to have one touch at him. What do you say, Jack, my lad?"
"Heaven above!" ejaculated Jack "Why, it's Mr. Mole."
"Right, dear boy," returned Mr. Mole. "Isaac Mole himself, turned up in the very nick of time. God bless you, Jack."
"And you, too, sir. How are they all at home? My mother, my——"
"There, there," interrupted Harry; "we'll have the family history when we're fairly out of musket-shot range. If they find out any thing, they'll pot us off as easily as shooting for nuts at a fair."
"All right," said Jack, laughingly. "Pull away."
"Pull away, boys."
"Aye, aye, sir."
They had a good boatload, yet they moved through the water pretty smartly.
The vessel which had anchored in the bay, and which showed the British ensign at her masthead, was the identical ship that our old friend Mr. Mole had come in.
The messages that they had sent back to the different stations upon their journey had been successful in guiding Mr. Mole aright, happily enough.
They had barely cast anchor, when Mr. Mole had been lowered in a boat, his intention being to come ashore, and get information, if possible, regarding the object of his cruise.
But little did he think of picking up his information in the water.
Yet such was the case.
When half-way to shore, they came upon Bogey swimming swiftly along.
A few words of hurried explanation sufficed, and the astounded Mole had the boat pulled flush up beneath the windows of the Konaki, first rescuing Harry Girdwood and then Lola the Circassian girl, and Jack, as we have described.
THE PICNIC—FIGGINS AGAIN IN TROUBLE.
After Jack had placed the beautiful girl in safety, he arranged for Mr. Mole to tell him the news from home.
"Your dear father and mother are in a woeful state about you, Jack," said Mole.
"Why?" asked young Jack.
"I don't like beginning with reproaches, my boy," returned Mr. Mole, "but I must, of course, tell you. Your little extravagances have been troubling your father a great deal."
"I can throw some light on that subject," replied Jack. "I have been robbed. Cheques have been stolen from my book, and my signature forged."
Mr. Mole looked grave.
"Is this the fact?" he asked.
"Of course. However, we need not go further into that just now. Give me the news. How is Emily?"
"Very well in health, but spirits low—sighing for her Jack," said Mole, wickedly.
"Did she tell you so?" demanded Jack.
"Not exactly, but I can see as far through a stone wall as most people."
"Yes, sir, I believe you can," said Jack. "That is about the limit of your powers of observation."
"Ha, ha!" laughed Mr. Mole. "But I know how to comfort Emily, dear girl. She'll be quite resigned to your prolonged absence when she gets news of you. I have already written home to explain the odd circumstances under which I met you—that you were shut up in some dark room with a lovely Circassian girl, and that you subsequently rescued her, and how very fond of you the lovely Circassian seems, and——"
"I wish you would only meddle with affairs that concern you, Mr. Mole," said Jack, stiffly. "I don't want you to furnish information to any body about my movements."
"Very good," replied Mr. Mole, "I won't, then. I thought I might send a second letter, to say that I was quite sure you did not care a fig for the lovely Circassian."
Jack thought that this might be a desirable move, and so he tried to square matters a bit.
"Do so, and I will be your friend," he said.
"Consider it done," exclaimed Mole. "I like you as I did, and do, your father, but I must have my joke."
The perilous adventures which our friends had encountered on their expedition did not deter them from further enterprises.
Only two days after the events just recorded, Jack's party set out on a picnic excursion, to examine the beauties of the surrounding neighbourhood.
It was not towards the desert that they directed their steps this time, but in the opposite direction.
Mr. Figgins, upon this journey, showed his usual talent for getting into scrapes.
On passing under a group of fine fig-trees, nothing would suit him but he must stand upon his mule's saddle in order to reach some of the fruit.
As he was still not high enough to do this, he made a spring up and caught one of the lower branches, to which he clung.
Suddenly the mule, we know not from what cause, bolted from underneath, leaving the luckless orphan suspended.
Mr. Figgins soon relinquished the search in his anxiety for his own safety.
He saw beneath him a descent of some ten feet, and at the bottom a dense bed of stinging nettles.
How was he to get down?
Dropping was out of the question, for it would be like a leap into certain torture.
However, Harkaway called out to him to hold on, but not so loudly as Figgins bawled all the while for help.
Meanwhile, Bogey and Tinker had started after the escaped mule, which they found some difficulty in capturing.
When it was at length secured, the animal was placed in his former position under the tree, and firmly held by the two negroes.
"Now let yourself down, Figgins," cried Jack; "drop straight and steady."
Figgins tried his best to obey.
When he let go the branch, it rebounded with a force that threw him out of the perpendicular, and instead of landing upon the mule's back, he fell and landed on the bed of stinging nettles.
The orphan roared lustily—as indeed well he might—for, besides being shaken by the fall, the pain he soon felt in every portion of his frame exposed to the nettles was excruciating.
When the party emerged from the forest, a scene of unusual beauty broke upon their vision.
"This is a charming spot," observed Harkaway.
"And just the thing for a picnic," added Harry. "I vote we halt under those trees and begin operations."
Hampers were then unpacked, bottles uncorked, and application made to a pure stream of water which flowed near the spot.
At length all was ready.
Poor orphan, the first mouthful he took seemed to consist of cayenne pepper.
The cup of water, to which he naturally applied for relief, also appeared to have been tampered with, for it tasted as salt as the briny ocean itself.
Next, and also naturally, he drew forth his pockethandkerchief, but ere he could carry it to his mouth, dropped it in haste and with a cry of horror, for it contained an enormous frog, which, in its struggles to escape, fell plump into his plate.
Mr. Mole laughed loudly, whereat Mr. Figgins was naturally offended at the schoolmaster, and began to suspect that it was he who had been playing these practical jokes upon him.
Bogey and Tinker, the real promoters of the orphan's discomfiture, observed this with great inward mirth, but they soon afterwards got into a little trouble themselves.
Harkaway, turning suddenly round, discovered the two black imps making sad havoc with the sweets.
"You young scoundrels," shouted Jack, angrily grasping his riding-whip; "take your fingers off that jam pot immediately."
"I was on'y a-openin' it, sar, ready for de company," exclaimed the unabashed Tinker.
"What's that you have in your hand, Bogey?" proceeded Harkaway, alluding to something which the darkey was hiding suspiciously behind him.
"Only a bit o' bread I brought in my pocket, sar," was the reply.
"Show it us, then, directly, sir."
Bogey accordingly produced a crust from apparently a loaf of the week before last, but while doing so, Jack's sharp eyes detected that the nigger dropped some other eatable, in his hurried endeavour to ram it into his pockets unseen.
"There, our large currant and raspberry tart!" exclaimed Harkaway. "You artful monkey. I owe you one for this, and I mean to pay you now."
Darting at them, Jack just managed to give Bogey and Tinker a cut each on the shoulders with his whip as they nimbly scampered off, both bellowing as though they were being murdered.
But rapid as was the action, Nero saw an opportunity in it whereof he took advantage, for he pounced upon the well-bitten tart, and bore it away in triumph.
This episode, however, was soon forgotten, and Mole began to relate adventures of himself which would have done credit to Baron Munchausen, while Figgins, not to be outdone, told wonderful stories of high life in which he had been personally engaged.
OF THE DEADLY QUARREL AND MORTAL COMBAT BETWEEN MOLE AND FIGGINS.
"One day," began Mr. Figgins, after a pause, "I was driving along Belgravia Crescent with Lord—bless me! which of 'em was it?"
"Perhaps it was Lord Elpus," suggested Harkaway.
"Or Lord Nozoo?" said Girdwood.
"Are you sure he was a lord at all, Mr. Figgins?" asked Mole, dubiously.
"Mr. Mole," said the orphan, indignantly; "do you doubt my veracity?"
"Not a bit," answered the schoolmaster, "but I doubt the voracity of your hearers being sufficient for them to swallow all you are telling us."
"Well, gentlemen," pursued Figgins, turning from Mole in disgust, "this Lord Whatshisname used to have behind his carriage about the nicest little tiger that ever was seen——"
"Nothing like the tiger I saw in Bengal one day, I'm sure," broke in Mr. Mole, in a loud and positive tone. "Come, Figgins, I'll bet you ten to one on it."
The orphan rose to his feet in great indignation.
"Isaac Mole, Esq., I have borne patiently with injuries almost too great for mortal man throughout this day. I consider myself insulted by you, and I will have satisfaction."
"Well, old boy, if you just mention what will satisfy you, I'll see," said Mole.
"Nothing short of a full and complete apology."
"You don't get that out of me," the schoolmaster scornfully retorted. "Preposterous. What I, Isaac Mole, who took the degree of B. A. at the almost infantine age of thirty-four, to apologise to one who is——"
"Who is what, sir?" demanded Figgins.
"Never mind. I don't want to use unbecoming expressions," said Mole. "You wouldn't like to hear what I was going to say."
The orphan was so angry at this that, unheeding what he was doing, he drank off nearly a tumblerful of strong sherry at once.
This, coming on the top of other libations, made the whole scene dance before his bewildered eyes.
He began to see two Moles, and shook his fist, as he thought, upon both of them at once.
"I d—don't care for either of you," he exclaimed, fiercely.
"Either of us? For me, I suppose you mean?" said the tutor.
"Which are you?" asked Figgins.
"Which are who?" retorted Mole.
"Why, there are two of you, and I wa—want to know which is the right one," said Figgins.
"I'm the right one. I always am right," said Mole, aggressively. "You don't dare to imply I'm wrong, do you?"
"Won't say what I imply," answered Figgins, with dignity; "but I know you to be only a——"
"Stop, stop, gentlemen," cried Jack. "Let not discord interrupt the harmony of the festive occasion. Mr. Mole, please tone down the violence of your language. Mr. Figgins, calm your agitation, and give us a song."
"A song?" interrupted Mr. Mole, taking the request to himself. "Oh, with pleasure."
And he struck up one of his favourite bacchanalian chants—
"Jolly nose, Jolly nose, Jolly nose!
The bright rubies that garnish thy tip
Are all sprung from the mines of Canary,
Are all sprung——"
"There's no doubt upon their being all sprung anyhow," whispered Harkaway to Girdwood. "Stop, stop, Mr. Mole," he cried at this juncture. "It was Mr. Figgins, not you, that we called upon for a song."
"Was it?" said the schoolmaster. "Very good; beg pardon. Only thought you'd prefer somebody who could sing. Figgins can't."
Figgins again looked at Mole, as if he were about to fly at him.
But the cry of "A song, a song by Mr. Figgins!" drowned his remonstrances.
"Really do'no what to sing, ladies and gen'l'men," protested Figgins. "Stop a minute. I used to know 'My Harp and Flute.'"
"You mean 'My Heart and Lute,' I suppose?" said Jack.
"Yes, that's it. And I should remember the air, if I hadn't forgotten the words. Let's see. Stop a minute, head's rather queer. Try the water cure."
Whereupon Mr. Figgins staggered to the adjacent brook, and, kneeling down, fairly dipped his head into it.
After having wiped himself with a dinner napkin he rejoined the party, very much refreshed.
"Tell you what, friends, I'll give you a solo on the flute," he said. "Something lively; 'Dead March in Saul' with variations."
And without mere ado, he took up his favourite instrument, and prepared to astonish the company.
If Mr. Figgins did not succeed in astonishing the company, he at least considerably astonished himself, for when he placed the flute to his lips and gave a vigorous preliminary blow, not only did he fail to elicit any musical sound, but he smothered and half-blinded himself with a dense cloud of flour, with which the tube had been entirely filled.
Bogey and Tinker, as usual, had been the real authors of this new atrocity, but Figgins felt convinced that the guilt lay at the door of Mole, on whom he turned for vengeance.
"Villain!" he cried, "this is another of your tricks; it's the last straw. I'll bear it no longer; take that."
As Mr. Figgins spoke, he struck the venerable Mole a sounding whack over the bald part of the cranium with the instrument of harmony.
Mole sprang upon his legs with astonishing alacrity, and, seizing Figgins by the throat, commenced shaking him.
A ferocious struggle ensued, among the remonstrances of the spectators, but, before they could interfere, it ended by both combatants coming down heavily and at their full length on the temporary dinner-table, and thereby breaking not a few plates, bottles, and glasses.
Helped to rise and seated on separate camp-stools, some distance apart, the two former friends, but now mortal foes, as soon as they could get their breath, sat fiercely shaking fists and hurling strong adjectives at each other.
"I'll have it out of you, you old villain!" cried Mole.
"And I'll have it out of you, you old rascal!" shrieked Figgins.
"We'll both have it out," added the tutor, "and the sooner the better. Name your place and your weapons."
"Here," answered Figgins, pointing to an open space before him, "and my weapon is the sword."
"And mine's the pistol," said Mole. "I'll fight with that, and you with your sword."
"Agreed," said the excited Figgins, quite forgetting the impracticability of such an arrangement and the disadvantages it would give him.
Figgins had a battered sabre of the light curved, Turkish make, and Mole rejoiced in the possession of a very old-fashioned pistol.
Mole gave the latter to Girdwood, who volunteered to be his second, and who took care to put nothing in more dangerous than gunpowder.
"Now we're about to see a duel upon a quite original principle," cried Jack to his friends. "I don't think either of them can hurt the other much. I'll be your second, Figgins, my boy."
"All right. I take up my position here," cried the orphan, stationing himself under a tree near the brook.
"I shall stand here," said Mole, stopping at about half a dozen paces from him.
The orphan looked as though he intended to bolt behind the tree if Mole fired.
"Well, Master Harry, don't be in a hurry," said Figgins. "I am not quite ready, are you, Mr. Mole?"
"Oh yes," said Mole, "I am ready."
He fully intended to blow the orphan's head off the first fire.
"I'll give the signal to fire," said Harry. "Now, are you ready; one, two, three!"
Mole's pistol-shot reverberated through the copse, but, as, a matter of course, it did not the slightest harm to Figgins, who, however, thought he heard it strike against the sabre which he held in a position of guard.
It now began, for the first time, to strike the orphan that this novel mode of fighting was very awkward for himself, for how was he to get at his enemy?
At first he poised his sword as if about to fling it at him, then moved by a sudden impulse he rushed forward, with a cry of vengeance, and began attacking Mole furiously with some heavy cutting blows.
Mole, as his only resource, dodged about and caught some of these blows upon his pistol, but judging this risky work, he took up his stick and used it in desperate self-defence; thus dodging and parrying, he retreated while Figgins advanced.
Once Mole managed to get what an Irishman would call "a fair offer" at Figgins' skull, which accordingly resounded with the blow of his weapon.
Half stunned, the orphan plunged madly forward and took a far-reaching aim at the old tutor.
He, in his turn, dodged again, but his wooden legs not being so nimble as real ones, he stumbled over some tall, thick grass, and fell backwards into the stream.
Jack, thinking matters had gone far enough, caught the orphan's foot in a rope, and bent him so far forward that he overbalanced himself and fell on top of Mole, and both tumbled into the water together.
The alarm was given, and they were both drawn out, "wet as drowned rats," but not quite so far gone.
They were, however, entirely sobered by their immersion.
A small glass of brandy, however, was administered to each, to prevent them catching cold, and some of their garments were taken off to dry in the sun.
Mole, the tutor, and Figgins, the orphan, wearied out with their exertions, soon fell fast asleep.
A TREMENDOUS RISE FOR MR. MOLE.
The quarrel between the two had been so far made up, that when they awoke from their siesta, and the fumes of the alcohol had subsided, neither of them seemed to remember any thing about the matter.
The party got safely home without encountering either robbers, snakes, wolves, thunderstorms, or any other dangerous being or foes whatever.
The next day, however, commenced for Mr. Mole an adventure which at the outset promised to form an exciting page in his life.
He was walking through the streets and bazaars of the town, Jack on one side of him, Harry on the other, though the reader, at first glance, would probably not have recognised any of them.
Harkaway and Girdwood presented the appearance of Ottoman civilians belonging to the "Young Turkey" party, whilst the venerable tutor stalked along in full fig as a magnificent robed and turbaned Turk of the old school.
It had become quite a mania with Isaac to turn himself as far as he possibly could into a Moslem.
He had taken quite naturally to the Turkish tobacco, and the national mode of smoking it through a chibouque, or water-pipe.
But in outward appearance Mr. Mole had certainly succeeded in turning Turk, more especially as he had fixed on a large false grey beard, which matched beautifully with his green and gold turban.
He had again mounted his cork legs, and encased his cork feet with splendid-fitting patent leather boots, and Mole felt happy.
"They take me for a pasha of three tails, don't you think so?" he delightedly asked his companions.
"Half a dozen tails at least, I should say," returned Jack, "and of course they take us for a couple of your confidential attendants."
"In that case, I must walk before you, and adopt a proud demeanour, to show my superiority," said Mole.
So whilst Jack and Harry dropped humbly in the rear, he strode forward with a haughty stiffness of dignity, which his two cork legs rather enhanced than otherwise.
"Holloa!" exclaimed Harry, suddenly; "who's this black chap coming up to us, bowing and scraping like a mandarin?"
He alluded to a tall dark man, apparently of the Arab race, but dressed in the full costume of a Turkish officer, who, dismounting his horse, approached Mole with the most elaborate Oriental obeisances, and held out to him a folded parchment.
Mole took the document with a stiff bow, opened it and found it to be a missive in Turkish, which, notwithstanding his studies in that direction, he could not for the world make out.
But unembarrassed by this, he turned to Harry Girdwood, and making a gesture, indicating his own inability to read it without his spectacles, motioned him to do so for him.
"Good Heavens!" exclaimed Harry, in amazement. "It is the imperial seal of the Sultan. Mole, old man, you have been mistaken for a pasha."
"Is it possible?" cried Mole; "but what does it say?"
"Imperial Palace, Stamboul.
"In the name of Allah and the Prophet.
"To his Excellency Moley Pasha.
"This is to certify that, in consequence of the lamented death of Youssouf Bey, Pasha of Alla-hissar, I am commanded by our sublime master to appoint and instal you into the said government of the city and province of Alla-hissar. Therefore you are commanded at once to proceed thither, under an escort which will be in readiness at the door of your hotel at five o'clock in the morning, after you receive this. Given at the Sublime Porte by Ali Hussein Pasha, Grand Vizier to His Imperial Majesty the Padishah."
Mr. Mole turned pale with anxiety.
"This is very serious," he exclaimed; "but I fully expect to become a king before I die, but in this case, what shall I do?"
"Why, become a pasha," said Jack; "it will be worth your while. We'll give you our assistance."
"But how am I to answer the messenger?" asked Mole.
"No necessity to answer him; make signs that you obey the sultan's mandate; you know how they do it."
Mole accordingly folded the firman again, placed it to his forehead, and then to his heart, bowing all the time with the most profound respect.
The messenger evidently quite understood, for he bowed too, and rode away rapidly.
"That's what you call having greatness thrust upon you, eh, Mole?" said Jack.
"I don't much care about it," answered the tutor. "I don't believe I shall be able to carry out the character of a pasha. It's a dangerous game."
"Nonsense," said our hero; "if they choose to make a mistake, it's their lookout."
"I shall find it a mistake when I come to be bowstringed, or hanged, or shot, or something of that kind," said the tutor; "but, Jack, my dear boy, I depend upon you to pull me through."
"No fear," answered Jack; "you're a great man, Mr. Mole, and no doubt the authorities, becoming aware of your merits, have really made choice of you as the governor of the pashalik."
"But they must know that I'm not a Turk," objected Mole.
"That doesn't matter," said Jack; "not only Turks, but Greeks, Americans, Italians, French, all sorts of people are in power in this country."
The excitement of the moment and the influence of some spirituous liquid he had taken before starting, so far bewildered Mr. Mole's intellect, that he actually accepted Jack's explanation.
"Hang it, I will be pasha," he cried; "and risk all. Haven't I got the sultan's own firman?" and he flourished that important document round his head in the most defiant manner.
"That's right," said Jack; "keep up that spirit, and you'll make your fortune. Remember, first thing to-morrow you are to be conducted to your seat of government; the guard of honour will be at the door of your hotel at five o'clock, you will reach Alla-hissar about ten, and to-morrow morning you'll begin your public duties."
"What will your father say, Jack, when he hears of this? But I hope you won't desert me, my dear boys," said Mole, imploringly.
"We'll go with you," answered Harry.
"Rather!" acquiesced Jack. "We'll never leave you, old boy."
The remainder of the day was spent by Mole in the further study of Turkish.
These exertions were fatiguing, and Mr. Mole was tired when he retired, as he expressed it.
He was not long falling asleep, and dreams of glory, power, and magnificence filled his slumbers.
He was just dreaming he had been elected sultan when he was suddenly and rudely awakened by a terrible knocking at the door.
Mole started up, and was told that he must prepare in a great hurry, for the escort had already arrived.
The tutor, still half asleep, looked out of the window, and in the day dawn he discerned a small body of horsemen at the door of the hotel.
Mole felt that he could never get into those elaborate Turkish robes without assistance; luckily at this juncture young Jack put in an opportune appearance, and offered to help him.
"You'll have to make haste, pasha," said our hero; "strikes me you've rather overslept yourself. Where is your beard?"
"Here it is," returned Mole; "but why didn't some of you wake me before? I was so busy dreaming that I was sultan, and—that's right, my boy, help me on with the cork legs and boots, that's the worst difficulty, and then all these things, and lastly the turban and beard."
"I'll get Harry to help me," pursued Jack; "you'll have proper attendants when you are installed in the palace. Remember what we agreed upon last night; we are to pass off as your two sons, under the names of Yakoob and Haroun Pasha."
"Just so," said Mole; "but I expected a larger escort than those half a dozen men there. I would not go through this, my boy, if I thought future history would not give me a glorious page."
"Oh, don't fear, sir, this will be something grand for you; at the gate of the town you will be met by a regular guard of honour."
With the combined assistance of Jack and Harry, Mole was fully invested with his Oriental robes, with which he stumped downstairs as gracefully as a moving bundle of clothes.
His escort consisted of six spahis, most of them black, and headed by the messenger of the day before.
"Jack, my dear boy," said Mole, "at last my time has arrived to become a great man in the eyes of the world."
"Right you are, sir," replied Jack. "On you go, my noble pasha."
As soon as Mole was mounted, the chief spahi gave the word, and the imposing cavalcade set off at a quick trot.
In two hours they had arrived at the primitive and sequestered town of Alla-hissar.
THE GREAT MOLEY MOLE PASHA.
Such an important event as the arrival of a new governor naturally caused a great deal of excitement among the worthy inhabitants of the remote town.
They came out in crowds to greet him, headed by all the inferior functionaries, and a military guard of honour conducted him to the old castle, which had been fitted up as a sumptuous official residence.
Two things puzzled his new subjects; the fact of his arrival being two days before the appointed time, and the circumstance of the new pasha, who was apparently a Turk, returning their greetings through an interpreter.
However, none had any doubt of the reality of his appointment, and the production of the sultan's firman at once made the old cadi, or magistrate, who had been temporarily put in command, give way to his superior.
Briefly let us explain these circumstances.
It was another hoax, and a most daring and gigantic one, on the part of Jack and his friends, upon their long-suffering tutor.
Having ascertained that the town of Alla-hissar was actually waiting for its new governor, the real pasha, who was to arrive from Constantinople in two days' time, Jack and the others hit upon the idea of making the situation the basis of a grand practical joke.
The firman was of course a forged document, written by the old interpreter, who was in the plot, and the Turkish officer who had presented it to Mole was no other than our friend the diver.
The waiter, the orphan, and the two nigger boys had also effectually disguised themselves, and became members of Mole's escort.
A skilful combination enabled them to carry out the details of their plan with such success as to deceive not only Mole himself, but the simple pastoral folks of Alla-hissar itself.
Moley Pasha, as he now styled himself, was in all his glory.
"This is a proud day," he observed to Jack, as he gazed round on the handsome residence provided for him. "Little did I imagine that old Isaac would ever live to come out in all the glories of an Oriental magnate. Jack, we must let your dear father know of this."
"We will, sir; but now let us congratulate you," answered our hero. "The more especially as you've promoted us to such high positions."
Moley, the pasha, now retired to his private apartments to rest until the hour arrived for his first council.
During this time, he was coached up by the old interpreter, and by his aid, Moley Pasha found himself able to receive the reports and congratulations of subordinates in the government, and to try several cases brought before him.
After three hours of arduous public duties, the pasha and his friends retired to his private apartments, which were fitted up with every Oriental luxury.
"By Jove!—I mean by the Prophet!" exclaimed the new potentate, "I am getting on like a house on fire; but I am still mortal, and need refreshment, not having had anything to speak of to-day, beyond a cup of coffee with a dash of brandy in it."
Dinner being served up (in the Turkish style) the pasha grew still more enthusiastic.
"Yes, this is a delightful life," he said; "it only wants the presence of lovely woman to render it perfect. Now, if Mrs. Mole Number One or Number Two or Three were here——"
"Oh, I forgot," suddenly broke in Jack, looking very serious. "That reminds me, there was one most important subject I had to speak to you about. The late pasha had thirteen wives."
"How awful," exclaimed Mole. "But what is that to do with me?"
"A good deal; they are now left, by his sudden death, desolate widows, and it is expected that you, as his sucessor, should take them under your protection. They go with the premises, like the stock and fixtures of a business."
"Heaven above! you don't mean that?" exclaimed Moley Pasha, becoming much agitated, and pausing ere he quaffed a goblet of champagne, which he drank under the name of sparkling French sherbet.
"It's quite true, though, isn't it, Abdullah?" turning to the dragoman.
"It's true as the Koran, itself," returned Jack. "Every pasha of Alla-hissar must have thirteen wives."
"Good heaven! what'll Mrs. Mole say?" exclaimed Mole, in great agitation; "hang it, you know, this will never do—Isaac Mole with thirteen wives. I always thought I was very much married already, quite as much as I want to be."
"Unless your excellency agrees," continued the interpreter, "I won't answer for the consequences."
"I have had three wives already, and now you wish me to take thirteen. I'd sooner resign my government at once," exclaimed Mole.
"Impossible!" returned the dragoman; "it is death to resist the sultan's firman."
"Powers above! what a situation am I in!" exclaimed Mole, in increasing dismay. "I find it's not all roses after all, being a pasha; but thorns, stinging nettles, and torturing brambles. But about these thirteen widows, Abdullah? Who and where are they, and what are they like?"
"They are at present in a house not far off from here," was the reply; "five of them, it seems, have been the widows of the pasha before last, and they are rather old; six belonged only to Youssouf Pasha, and are middle-aged."
Mr. Mole responded with a deep groan.
"The other two," proceeded Abdullah, "are fair Circassians in the very summer of youth and beauty."
Moley Pasha uttered a profound sigh.
"Ah, that's much better."
"I expect they will be here soon, at least some of them," said Abdullah, the interpreter.
The subject then dropped for a time, and the great Moley also dropped—asleep, from the combined effects of the pipe, the coffee, and the wine.
He was suddenly awakened by Abdullah shouting in his ear—
"May it please your excellency, they've come."
"Who—who?" gasped Mole, in fearful terror; for he had just been dreaming of the rack and the bowstring.
"The noble Ladies Alme and Hannifar, widows of the late lamented Youssouf-Pasha," was the reply.
"Gracious mercy!" exclaimed the persecuted Mole; "they've come to claim me, perhaps to bear me off by main force."
"Ho, there, guards; stand round; not without a struggle will Isaac Mole surrender his liberty as a single man, that is as a married man, but not—Heaven, my brain is growing utterly confused in this terrible position. Where's that boy Jack?"
"Their excellencies Yakoob and Haroun Pasha are both gone out," was the response.
"Then, Abdullah, I command you to stand up in my defence. Come here."
The old interpreter approached with a low bow.
"Write on two pieces of card the words—'Admire Moley Pasha, but touch not him.'"
"Turkish and English, too."
"Pasha, to hear is to obey."
At this moment a young negro attendant announced—
"The Ladies Alme and Hannifar are impatient to be admitted to your sublime presence."
"Let them wait; it will do them good," cried Mole, desperately. "Have you written it, Abdullah?"
"One moment, your highness," was the reply. "There," he added, finishing up with an elaborate flourish; "all will understand that. And now what am I to do with them?"
"Fasten one notice on my back, and the other on my chest," answered Mole, "so that the ladies may understand and keep at a respectful distance. That's right. Be still, my trembling heart. Now you can admit them."
The negro drew aside the curtains of the chamber, and two female forms of majestic height and proportions, in gorgeous Oriental costumes, but closely veiled, entered.
They made a very graceful salute to the pasha, and were walking straight up to him, when he sprang backwards, and leaping upon a high sofa, turned his back to them, not in contempt, but in order that they might read the Turkish inscription thereon inscribed.
Then he turned and pointed to it on his breast in English.
Far, however, from being struck with awe and covered with confusion, the ladies were highly amused and laughed consumedly.
"What are they smiling at?" asked Mole, somewhat indignantly.
"Only at the felicitous ingenuity of your highness's idea," answered the interpreter, pointing to the placard.
"Well, I hope they understand, and will abide by it," said Mole, venturing to step off the sofa.
But the moment he did so, the foremost, who, he understood was the Lady Alme, and was certainly of an impulsive disposition, sprang forward as if to embrace Mole.
"Save me!" he cried. "To the rescue, guards, attendants, Jack, Harry. Where can they have got to? Help, help! Mrs. Mole, come to the rescue of your poor Mole."
The old interpreter, with some dexterity, flung himself between them, just in the nick of time to avert from Mole the fair Circassian's effusive greeting.
"'Tis our Eastern custom," explained the dragoman. "Her ladyship is only expressing her delight at beholding her new lord and master."
"Tell them I am nothing of the kind, and I have got a wife in England," answered the pasha.
Abdullah did so, whereupon the ladies set up a series of piercing shrieks and lamentations.
"What in the world's the matter with them?" asked Mole, greatly dismayed.
"They are desolated at the thought of having incurred your sublimity's displeasure."
"Tell them that they had no business to come unless I sent for them," said Mole.
"They say, O magnificent pasha, that, hearing of your arrival, they have come thither in the name of themselves, and the other eleven ladies of his late highness's harem, to know when it will be your princely pleasure to bid them cast aside the sombre weeds of widowhood, and——"
"There, cut it short, dragoman; do you mean that they really expect me to marry the whole lot of them?"
"Precisely so, your eminence; even now the most reverend imaum of the town is ready to perform the ceremonial."
"He'll have to wait a long time if he waits for that," cried Mole; "thirteen wives, indeed, and these you say are the youngest of the lot. I suppose they have no objection to allow me to behold the moonshine of their resplendent features. That's the way to put it, I believe, old man."
"It is against Turkish etiquette to unveil before the solemn ceremony has been performed; nevertheless, their ladyships consent to remove one of their veils, through which you may behold their features."
Alme and Hannifar accordingly threw back their outer black veils, and appeared with the white ones underneath.
Mole scrutinized them as well as he could, but he took very good care not to go too near.
"And so, Abdullah, you tell me that these two are the youngest of the whole lot?"
"Indeed, they are, your eminence; famous beauties of pure Circassian descent; each originally cost five thousand piastres, and they surpass the remainder even as the mighty sun doth the twinkling stars."
"Then all I can say is," returned Mole, "that I shudder to think what the eleven others must be like. Just tell the ladies Alme and Hannifar that, as far as I can see, from here, I don't think much of them."
"I will put your message more mildly."
And having spoken to the ladies again, he said—
"Their ladyships are enchanted to find so much favour in the eyes of your excellency."
"Thirteen wives," mused Mole, scarcely heeding the last reply. "It is preposterous—though nothing it seems, compared to some of the Turkish grandees. But fancy old Isaac Mole—ha, ha! really it's quite amusing. Why, the mere marrying so many would be a hard day's work, Abdullah."
"The ceremony would be slightly wearisome, your highness."
"Yes, but I should require thirteen wedding rings—ha, ha, ha!—the idea of thirteen wedding rings being used at once, and by one man."
"Don't let that be any objection," said Abdullah; "for the ladies tell me they have come provided with exactly the number of rings requisite for the purpose."
Sure enough, Alme detached from her fair neck an elastic band, whereon were strung thirteen bright gold rings.
Mole was fairly staggered by this determined preparation on the part of the irresistible enslavers.
"They mean to have me," he gasped. "I see how it is; they come here with the intention of dragging me to the late pasha's mansion, and marrying me by main force."
"It looks like it," answered the interpreter, "for I find that they have brought with them a dozen of the harem-guard, fully armed."
"Then I am indeed lost," cried Mole. "But no, I'll die game. Here, help, guards, soldiers, fly to the rescue of your pasha. Oh! Mrs. Mole, where are you now? Your poor Mole is in danger."
As Mole uttered the piteous lament we have recorded, both ladies made a combined charge at him, with a wild shriek and a sudden outburst in Turkish, which might have been either a chorus of endearments or of reproaches.
Alme got behind him and flung her arms around his neck with such vigour that he was nearly strangled, Hannifar attacking him in the same way from the front.
In the pressure of this combined assault he was powerless; struggle as he would, he could not detach himself from their overwhelming embrace.
His cries for help were smothered.
His turban was knocked over his eyes.
He could feel the placards being torn from him, and himself being hauled hither and thither by the ladies who seemed fighting for the sole possession of him.
At length, by a gigantic effort, he freed himself and raised a cry of alarm that might have aroused the dead, but in that effort, he stumbled and fell on his back over a pile of sofa cushions.
Roused by his cries, the military and body guard of the pashalik rushed in, and the whole house was in an uproar.
When Mole had been again uplifted to his feet, and was gasping forth confused explanations, he perceived that the Ladies Alme and Hannifar had mysteriously levanted.
THE SUDDEN RUIN AND UTTER DOWNFALL OF THE GREAT MOLEY PASHA.
The ladies' absence was a great relief to Mole. He devoutly hoped that he had for ever got rid of the thirteen widows of his late lamented predecessor.
About an hour afterwards, when Mole was striving to calm his irritated feelings with a cup of coffee and hookah, Jack and Harry arrived, as they said, from a walk round the neighbouring country, looking as innocent as any of the lambs they may have met on the finely-grassed hills.
This innocent look was remarkable, because, as the reader has probably suspected, they had really been concerned in Mr. Mole's recent adventure.
In short, Jack had been the Alme, and Harry the Hannifar, of the domestic scene we have described, the Turkish dress and the ladies' custom of keeping veiled, immensely assisting them in the imposture.
"Whatever has been the matter here?" asked Jack. "As we were coming along, we heard a dreadful row outside, and saw a large body of troops bolting off in a deuce of a hurry."
"Oh, my sons," replied the pasha, in a tone of paternal pathos, "sore hath been the wretchedness and distress of your afflicted parent. I wish you had been here, then it could not have happened. I'll tell you all about it."
Jack and Harry Girdwood had sufficient self-command to listen with unmoved countenances to Mr. Mole's account of the adventure, and even to express great surprise and alarm at the harrowing details.
"Shall I write home to Mrs. Mole for you, sir?" said Jack.
"For the Lord's sake, no," cried Mole, in dismay.
Then they tried their best to frighten the old tutor, by suggesting various deadly schemes of vengeance, which it was very possible the ladies of his late highness's seraglio might form against Moley Pasha.
"You must never go out without a strong body guard," said Jack, "for at any time they may have you seized and borne off to the harem."
"And you'll have to take care of yourself even at home," added Harry, "especially with regard to the food you eat, for in Turkey, those who owe a grudge think nothing of paying it out in poison."
"Gracious Heaven! don't talk in that way," cried Mole. "you quite make my blood run cold. I think—I hope—I can trust my guards and my new attendants."
"I hope so too," replied Jack, shaking his head in grave doubt. "But you must always bear in mind that treachery is one of the commonest vices of the East; you can't be too careful."
"Oh, Allah, Allah!" exclaimed Mr. Mole, who had slipped naturally into a habit of using Turkish interjections; "what a life it is to be a pasha. I used to think it was all glory and happiness, but now I find, to my grief, that—if this sort of thing goes on, I shall bolt."
It being now far advanced in the evening, the pasha, wearied out with the cares and excitements of the day, retired to rest in the Turkish fashion, half-dressed, and upon a kind of sofa.
His cork legs, of course, were carefully taken off first.
In this Jack and Harry assisted him.
Moley Pasha went to sleep and to dream of bowstrings, scimitars, and various painful forms of execution.
The next morning, however, he arose more hopeful, and fully resolved to show himself a vigorous and successful ruler.
In his sumptuous seat in the divan, or hall of audience, Mole began to feel like a monarch on his throne, and signed his decrees with all the triumphant flourish of a Napoleon.
It was in the height of this power and glory that there arose a sudden consternation in court.
Murmurs arose, shouts, mingled with the tramp of many steeds, were heard outside.
"What's the matter?" asked the pasha. "Who dares to make a disturbance and disturb the pasha? Officer, command silence."
A deadly stillness fell upon the assembly.
For some few moments one might have heard a pin drop.
But distant shouts in the streets, and the tramp of horses recommenced.
The interpreter and Harry and Jack, who stood on each side of the pasha, exchanged meaning glances, which partook much of alarm.
Consternation could be perceived on every face in court.
It was evident that something serious was about to occur.
"Whatever is the meaning of this?" cried the pasha, who himself seemed to feel no suspicion and alarm. "Abdullah, go and see what it means."
The old interpreter at once hurried to the door.
Jack and Harry, as if impelled by resistless curiosity, followed him.
Karam, the chief of the guard, did the same, and many of those about the court followed in a now excited and expectant group.
At this moment, the shouts outside grew louder and fiercer.
An angry consultation, in which half a dozen at least were engaged, all talking at once, could be heard, and then Karam, the chief of the guard, came rushing back with a face full of dismay.
"Your highness——" he gasped.
"Well, Karam, what's the matter?" asked Mole.
"A grand officer, who calls himself Moley Pasha, the same name as your excellency, is outside with a body of troops, and insists upon admission."
Mole started from his seat, and almost immediately sank exhausted with fright and horror.
He saw now the peril in which he stood, and devoutly wished he were safe at home, and in the arms of Mrs. Mole.
"A—pasha—calling himself Moley!" he exclaimed. "What does he want?"
"He declares he has been appointed to this government by the firman of his imperial majesty the sultan, and that you—you—pardon, your highness—are an impostor."
Mole now knew the worst.
It was all up with him.
But desperation inspired him with an artificial courage; he resolved to die game, and keep it up to the last.
"Tell the so-called Moley Pasha," he exclaimed, "that he is the impostor. Here, guards, stand round me, and defend your rightful governor."
The soldiers wavered.
They began to fear that all was not quite right.
Karam, the captain, also hesitated in enforcing the commands of Mole.
At this moment the scale was turned by Abdullah, the interpreter, rushing into the hall, and thundering forth, to the utter amazement and consternation of Mole—
"Down with the impostor, my friends. We have all been deceived by this usurper, who has forged the sacred signature of our mighty sultan."
Shouts of "Down with the impostor!" now resounded on all sides, and a rush was made to drag Mole from his seat.
Poor Mole, he was entirely defenceless.
Jack and Harry did not return; probably they had been secured by the enemy.
Mole gave himself up for lost.
He was surrounded by an infuriated crowd, still shouting "Down with the impostor! Death to the infidel who dares to wear the colours of the blessed Prophet!"
It seems, indeed, that the luckless Mole would have fallen a sacrifice to Lynch law, but at this moment the real Moley Pasha, with his troops, entered the hall, and at once commanded the infuriated crowd to stop, and relinquish their victim.
"Now," said the real Moley Pasha, "bring before me the stranger who has so audaciously assumed my title and dignity."
Poor Mole, now a trembling "prisoner at the bar," was brought, bound and guarded by soldiers, before the magnate whom of late he had defied.
"Prisoner," said the pasha, sternly, "what do you dare to say for yourself in defence of the crime you have committed?"
Mr. Mole, in the deepest fright and humility, made shift to stammer in Turkish—
"I don't defend it at all; I—I was egged on to it by that young Jack Harkaway."
"What's Harkaway?" now inquired the pasha.
"The youth who came with me, and passed as my son, Yakoob, and his friend Harry Girdwood, or Haroun Pasha."
"Ah! two more impostors; bring them forward," said the pasha.
Search was made for Jack and Harry, but they were nowhere to be found.
In the confusion they had contrived to make good their escape.
"Well, we must make an example of the chief offender," said the pasha. "Prisoner, I find you have some difficulty in expressing yourself in our language, which alone should have stamped you as an impostor. I suppose you speak French?" he added, continuing his interrogation in that language. "I command you instantly to point out any other accomplices in this villainous fraud."
"The interpreter, Abdullah, your highness," said Mole, glad to be avenged upon that worthy.
Here Abdullah came forward, making a gesture of disgust, and turning up his eyes in pious horror.
"Inshallah! what lies do these dogs speak!" he exclaimed. "I swear to your highness, by the prophet, that I knew not, suspected not, till this moment that he was other than he seemed."
"You rascally old villain! you deserve bowstringing for this," cried Mole.
"Peace!" sternly cried the pasha. "Show me the forgery you dare to call the firman of his sublime majesty, the sultan."
Mole instantly produced the unlucky document.
The real Moley Pasha instantly compared it with his own.
"An impudent forgery!" he exclaimed, turning to the cadi of the town, who had now arrived, and was much amazed and dismayed at what had occurred.
"Pardon me, I entreat, your excellency," said the old cadi. "I trust you will let this accusation go no further. In any case, my associates in office were quite as much to blame."
"'Twas this Frankish magician who has befooled us with his spells," said several of the town officials.
And they pointed at Mole with fierce and vengeful gestures, which made him feel certain that his life would be sacrificed to their vengeance.
"I doubt whether it was witchcraft or mere folly," said the pasha, who was much more enlightened than most of his audience. "It seems to me that this giaour is very probably the dupe of others. But, in any case, he must not go unpunished. Prisoner, your crime is proved, and I sentence you to——"
Mole fell on his knees.
"To a week's imprisonment in the first place, which will allow time for further inquiries to be made, and, if necessary, to communicate and receive our sublime Master's commands on the matter. Till then you will be kept in solitary confinement, on bread and water, and closely guarded."
"Mercy!" Mole found tongue to exclaim. "I trust—I implore that your highness will at least spare my wretched life, for I declare——"
"Away with him," interrupted the pasha.
So the unhappy Mole was taken off in chains to his dungeon, bread and water, and horrible anticipations of his ultimate fate.
MOLE IN "THE DEEPEST DUNGEON"—HOPES OF RESCUE.
The unfortunate Isaac Mole was now reduced to a position unprecedented even in his varied career.
He was placed in the "deepest dungeon" of the old castle, which was used as the town gaol, in a cold stone cell all to himself, and a couple of fierce-looking bashi-bazouks to watch him.
Bread and water—both of the stalest—constituted poor Mole's only fare, and his lodging was literally "on the cold, cold ground."
The constant fear of a terrible doom haunted him.
It was the third night of his incarceration, and about the middle of the night Mole was kept awake by his own depressing thoughts, together with the gambols of the rats that infested the dungeon.
Suddenly the deadly stillness was broken by a sound outside, which much agitated him.
"Ha, what sound is that?" cried Mole; "yes, oh, joy, it is the sound of a flute."
Could he mistake that note?
Who could make such melancholy strains but the desolate orphan—the melodious Figgins?
Had Figgins, forgetting all past differences and animosities, come to soothe Mole's captivity, in this manner, or—horrible thought!—was it a strain of malice or revengeful triumph that emanated from the long-suffering and tortured instrument.
But the flute did not long continue playing, and Mole conjectured that it was only a signal to which he was expected to respond.
He had no mode whatever of doing so, excepting a melancholy whistle, which, however, served its purpose.
Through the bars of the prison, which were far too high up for him to reach, a small object suddenly came crashing, and very narrowly did it escape falling upon the prisoner's nose.
Reaching out his hand in the dark, Mr. Mole picked it up, and found it to be a stone wrapped in paper.
He knew at once that it must be a written message from his friends outside, and again he whistled as a signal that he had received it.
A few triumphant notes on the flute responded to this, and then all was silent again.
How impatient Mole was for daylight, that he might read the letter.
But it was many hours to that yet, and sleep he found impossible.
At length, a faint streak came through the bars of the gloomy dungeon.
Mole, with some difficulty, dragged himself under this light, straightened out the paper, and read thus—
"Isaac Mole, Esquire,—You are not forgotten by your friends, who much lament your misfortune. We very narrowly escaped being caught and served in the same way. We have, through Captain Deering, got hold of the British consul, to whom we have represented the affair to be only a practical joke, not deserving of a severe punishment. So we hope to get you off with a fine, which we will undertake to pay, whatever it may be. Therefore, keep up your pecker, old man, and believe us to be
"Yours, truly as ever,
"Jack and Friends."
"Cool, after the way they've served me," was the tutor's mental comment upon this message; "but the question is, Can the British consul, or any other man, get me out of the clutches of these ferocious Turks?"
The next night, Mole was able to sleep.
But his sleep was suddenly and fearfully interrupted.
An awful and confused noise, shouting outside, flashing lights through the bars, the clash of arms and the hurried tramp of men, indicated that the prison was the scene of some warlike commotion.
Mole started up in a state of great alarm, and struggled towards the door of his cell.
"Oh, dear, oh, dear!" cried poor Mole, "this is dreadful. Oh, if I was only a boy again. I would stick to Old England, and never leave it. There, they are at it again. Oh, dear, why did I leave Mrs. Mole?"
The noise was as if there were a mutiny or outbreak of some kind.
Nearer and nearer came the sound of footsteps, louder and louder sounded the clashing of arms, and the clanking of chains.
A shout of triumph sounded just outside his cell door, and amidst a volley of interjections in Turkish and Arabic, he fancied he could hear English shouts of—
"Hurrah! boys, we shall do it. Open every one of the doors, and set them all free."
Two heavy bolts were shot back outside, the heavy key was turned in the lock, Mole's cell door was opened, and in a burst of torch-light entered groups of armed Bedouin Arabs.
Mole shrank back in a corner.
These ferocious Moslems had doubtless come to murder him in hot blood.
In reality their object was quite different.
The event that had happened was not an outbreak within the walls of the garrison, but an inbreak of those whose purpose was to rescue the captives.
Jack and Harry had the day before put up at the encampment of some friendly Arabs, who became more friendly still when they found their guests liberal in respect of coinage.
One of the Arabs had a brother in prison awaiting the pasha's further orders of punishment, so they were anxious to help Jack and release the Arab chief.
Jack and Harry, being informed of this, thought it would be an excellent opportunity for the escape of Mole, who was incarcerated in the same gaol.
The party set out in the middle of the night.
They soon reached the prison.
Darkness befriended them.
The first step was to gain admission into the outer yard or enclosure.
This they did by suddenly setting upon the two warders outside, and, before they could give the alarm, binding, gagging, and disarming them.
Then, mounting one of the sentry-boxes, Jack and Harry, being the lightest and most agile members of the party, contrived thus to get over the gate, and drop down inside.
Here, with great labour, they forced back the ponderous bolts, and the Arabs poured into the building.
The alarm was taken, and the old castle of Alla-hissar, as it was called, was all in an uproar.
Gaolers and soldiers, utterly taken aback by this sudden onslaught, made but ineffectual resistance.
Ere they could grasp their weapons and put themselves in order of defence, the Bedouins were on to them, striking them down, forcing away their keys, and ill-treating them in proportion to the resistance to the attack they made.
"Tell me, slave," thundered the Arab chief, to one of the gaolers, "in which cell my brother Hadj Maimoun is confined?"
"In—in No. 6," answered the man, trembling for his life.
"Art thou sure? Deceive me, dog, and thou diest," continued the chief, threateningly placing the muzzle of his pistol to the man's forehead.
"I swear, by the holy tomb of Mecca."
"Enough; and which is the key?"
"It is numbered, great lord: see here, No. 6."
"And the cell lieth——"
"To the right yonder. I will lead your highness thither."
"Do so, and if you attempt to deceive us, not the fiend himself can save you from my revenge. Come on, friends; Hadj Maimoun shall be free."
A wild shout of triumph rose from the Arabs.
In a few moments they had reached the cell indicated, where a young Arab, in heavy chains, looked up at their entrance.
The chief recognised his brother.
"Strike off these chains, villain!" the Arab then commanded the gaoler.
The chains dropped off the young Arab, whereat his friends raised another triumphant shout—
"Allah, Allah, Allah! Glory be to the Prophet. Hadj Maimoun is free."
By this time the prison was fairly in the hands of the victorious invaders.
One man, however, managed to slip out, and made the best of his way to the town to rouse the pasha and other officials.
THE RESCUE OF MOLE.
Mr. Mole's place of incarceration would have been difficult to find in that large rambling old building, had not Jack, by similar threats to those of the Arab chief, forced one of the gaolers to tell him the number of the cell.
Armed with this information and a bunch of keys, Jack made his way to the deepest dungeon, followed by the rest.
Mole's cell was the most remote, and therefore the last they came to.
"Mercy, mercy! don't kill an unfortunate prisoner, who has got three wives somewhere about the world, and a lot of little black and white children to look after!" cried Mr. Mole, still confused by the tumult around him, and the ferocious aspect of the new-comers.
"Kill you, Mr. Mole; why, we've come to let you out," said the foremost of the group, and he flung back the cowl of his Moorish cloak, thereby revealing to Mole the startling fact, that instead of a murderous Arab, it was young Jack Harkaway.
Harry was close to him.
A very few words now revealed to Mole the actual state of affairs.
"Oh, my boys, my boys," he exclaimed, "what I have suffered all through you. But still, Jack, my boy, I was not afraid of them. No, my boy, I intended to have fought to the last, and I have no doubt I should have killed a dozen or two of 'em."
"No doubt, sir; but let us get out of this," said Jack. "Come on."
"But my hands are fastened with these heavy chains," said Mole.
"Bring a hammer and a chisel, you fellows," called out Jack, "and we'll have 'em off in no time."
The ex-pasha was therefore operated upon, and in a few minutes the chains were off, and Mole was nearly a free man—not quite free, however, for by this time the whole neighbourhood was up in arms; the pasha had been roused in a hurry, and mustering his troops, had hurried off to the gaol.
"We shall have to fight for it, lads," cried Jack, drawing his Arab sabre; "we must cut our way through them, or we're lost to a certainty."
The Bedouins were prepared to follow their leader to the death.
The chief Zenaib, with his brother, Hadj Maimoun, led the desperate enterprise, and the numbers of their followers were now increased by all the escaped prisoners.
As they came rushing out, they were opposed by twice their number of well-armed troops, whom they had to cut through as best they could.
It was a desperate conflict.
Hand-to-hand, cut-and-thrust, bullets discharged from pistols and muskets, fierce charges with bayonets, continued for half an hour.
The confusion was dreadful, the noise deafening, numbers of men killed and wounded on both sides making the result far more tragic than our hero and his companion had ever anticipated or desired.
The prisoners fought to secure their liberty, the Arabs out of hatred to the Turks, while Jack and Harry, with no particular animosity against either party, now fought desperately in self-defence.
They received several severe cuts, and in a short time got entirely separated from their friend Mole.
He, meantime, half propped up against the wall, was valorously holding out against his former gaoler, who was trying to recapture him. At length, the Arabs, finding it impossible to break their way through so large a body of disciplined troops, fell back, and their destruction would have been inevitable.
But, at this moment, one of the half-escaped prisoners called out that he had discovered a back entrance, on the other side of a building, through which they might all make their exit.
The Arab chief accordingly ordered an immediate retreat.
The Turkish soldiers, seeing this manœuvre, gave chase to them, whilst others were ordered round to intercept their flight at the back.
Jack and Harry having returned to Mole, took him between them; each one holding an arm, they got along as swiftly as the cork legs and feet of the ci-devant pasha would allow.
But as ill-luck would have it, on emerging from one of the alleys, they met the detachment of Turkish soldiers, who at once rushed upon them.
The whole three gave themselves up for lost.
Mole at length stumbled, and fell heavily to the ground.
"Save yourselves at once," he groaned. "Don't mind me; I'm done for, I can't get a step further. Oh, dear, and my head's all bleeding from that sword cut. Run! Make haste, my dear boy; the wretches are firing at us!"
Reluctantly the two youths obeyed the instinct of self-preservation, by letting go the hands of the old tutor, and turning round, they immediately dived into one of the adjoining alleys.
It was just in time, for at that moment, two musket balls whizzed so close to them that the difference of a mere inch would have been certain death.
It was a narrow escape for them; but once out of sight of the soldiers, they finally reached a place of perfect safety, and after all, as Harry remarked—
"A miss is as good as a mile."
Meanwhile, Mole's catalogue of misfortunes were still being added to.
Picked up, bleeding and exhausted, by the soldiers, he was instantly taken before the officer commanding the troops.
Several Arabs, a few Turkish soldiers, and two of the gaolers had been killed, and there were many wounded men that required attending to.
The commander had enough to do in restoring matters to order, therefore he left the punishment of Mole to his lieutenant.
"Remove all the prisoners, for the present, to the guardroom," said the lieutenant. "When I open my council at noon in the divan bring them all before me."
"Your excellency's word is law," answered the head gaoler, bowing.
The lieutenant turned his horse, and, followed by his bodyguard, rode home in a very ill temper.
An hour or two's rest, however, and the soothing effects of pipe and coffee, had somewhat restored his equanimity by the time he re-entered the divan.
Punctually at noon, the prisoners were brought before him by the head gaoler.
"Let me see," said the lieutenant, referring to the document, and checking off the captives as they were identified; "horse-stealing, highway robbery, drunkenness, assault—yes, I have resolved what to do. As these offences seem comparatively light, and as our prison is for the present inefficient, I shall order all these men to be punished with the bastinado."
"There is one more," said the lieutenant. "This, I find, is the wretched Frank who dared to personate our great pasha."
"Nothing escapes your honour's penetration," answered the vizier.
"Such a crime deserves a heavier punishment. However, when his turn comes, give him twenty-five blows."
"It shall be done, illustrious governor," was the response.
And forthwith were summoned the two burly officials whose unpopular duty it was to administer castigation.
One bore a stout rattan, the other several pieces of strong rope.
The frame to which they were to be lashed was then brought into the room, it being the lieutenant's intention that the punishment should be administered in his presence.
The first prisoner was then seized, and his slippers—stockings not being worn by the majority of Turks—taken off.
He was then bound hand and foot, and securely tied to the frame.
The two executioners then took it in turns to administer ten heavy blows upon the bare soles of the criminal.
At the first blow, the patient set up a howl, which seemed but to increase the vigour and energy of the operator.
It was indeed a terrible sight for any person of sensitiveness to see a human being—though deserving—suffer in this manner.
Mole, however, didn't feel any anxiety on that score, and he made up his mind to do the brave and noble Englishman, for he knew that they might hammer away at his cork soles for ever, without hurting him much.
What troubled him was the probability that they would take his stockings off, and discovering the insensate nature of his "understandings," order him some other and more deadly punishment.
So, after the infliction of seeing several men suffer, with various degrees of bravery and cowardice, and all variety of groans and contortions, Mole heard himself called up for similar castigation.
He had, in the meantime, thought of a ruse.
Then, marching up boldly to the lieutenant, he addressed him—
"I know I fully deserve your dreadful but just sentence and quietly will I submit myself to the torture; but, I entreat you, do not compel me to remove my stockings, which, among my countrymen, is considered the deepest degradation and never inflicted, save upon criminals sentenced to death."
"H'm!" said the lieutenant, somewhat moved. "For my part, I would just as soon suffer the infliction with bare feet as through a thin layer of stocking."
"But my feelings as an Englishman," pleaded Mole.
"Well, be it as you wish. Take off your shoes only; but, Hamed, remember to give it to him a little harder, to make up for the stockings."
"Great lieutenant, I will obey. The force of the blows shall be doubled."
At this moment, Mole saw the eyes of Tinker fixed upon him, and he knew he should yet get help.
Mole then submitted himself resignedly to the hands of the torturers.
Binding him like the others, hand and foot, they tied him to the frame, and the chief castigator, rolling up his sleeves, proceeded to belabour Mole's soles with terrific energy.
The blows sounded fearfully loud and sharp, and each was given with such vigour that even the framework creaked under it.
But the victim showed no pain or terror.
He did not cry out, nor flinch in the least, nor strive to mitigate the pain by twisting about.
Thus ten heavy blows were given, and the inflictor paused.
A murmur of astonishment ran round the assembly.
"Truly the Frank hath wondrous strength and courage," exclaimed the lieutenant.
"Englishman are generally brave," said an old Turk; "but I never knew one who would silently undergo such pain as this."
"Make the next ten blows harder."
The second man, therefore, in his turn, rained down upon the inanimate soles of the ex-pasha, such fearful blows as resounded through the place, and made many spectators shudder.
But still the victim neither flinched nor cried out.
"Bismallah! this is truly wonderful, that a giaour so old, so grey, so apparently feeble, should thus bear so terrible a punishment. Harder, Selim. Now do you not feel it, prisoner?"
"Of course I feel it, great pasha; it even tickles my beard," replied Mole; "but heaven hath given me power to withstand this terrible torture, and the high spirit of an Englishman forbids me to cry out."
"I could scarcely have believed it, did I not behold it with my own eyes," said the puzzled lieutenant. "Selim, a little harder."
"Your eminence, the tale of blows is fully counted," said the man, laying aside his cane.
"Five-and-twenty already? I was so interested with the prisoner's fortitude, that I didn't count them. He has not suffered enough yet; give him five blows more."
"I am ready," said Mole, stroking his false beard. "Remember, an Englishman fears not pain. Strike away."
And he stretched out his cork legs to their full extent.
Five blows more were given, but had no more effect than the previous ones.
"By the holy kaaba! but this amounts to a miracle," exclaimed the lieutenant. "I shall begin to respect the infidel for his heroism. Hamed, give him ten more blows; no, make it twenty, and do you, Selim, assist. That will be fifty; just double the amount of the sentence. If he flinches not this time, he will deserve being let off altogether."
And in truth, it would, under ordinary circumstances, have wanted well-nigh the strength of Samson or Hercules to endure such torture as now came upon the schoolmaster.
Hamed and Selim, each armed with a heavy rattan, rained down alternately thick and fast, a shower of blows upon Mole's wonderful feet, which even shook the room, but still couldn't shake Mole's resolution.
He writhed not, nor uttered cry, and showed not the faintest sign of giving way.
On the contrary, he jeered at the men.
"Bah! see how an Englishman can bear pain," exclaimed Mole.
And to the intense astonishment of the Turks, he plucked out a good-sized handful of hair from his beard and threw before the officer.
And the Turk stopped in the midst of his speech to spit out a second handful which Mole, with good aim, had thrown into his mouth.
"Wonderful!" exclaimed the bystanders, as Mole tore away at his false beard till he had nearly stripped the framework, while the tormentors worked away at his feet with redoubled energy.
"Stop, stop," cried the pasha, for the men in their energy had exceeded even the fifty blows without knowing it, and seemed to be going on ad libitum, "stop; unbind and release the prisoner."
The two men, who were bathed in perspiration through their exertions, accordingly removed Mole's bonds, assisted him to his feet, and helped him put on his shoes.
"Prisoner," said the lieutenant, "your heroic conduct this day has won my deepest admiration. Be seated, and rest your poor feet, and then tell me something of your history."
"My poor feet will still support me, therefore I will not be seated, but standing thus," said Mole, stamping his cork feet on the ground, "will show you something wonderful."
MOLE PASHA ASTONISHES THE NATIVES STILL MORE—THE ORDER OF THE GLASS BUTTON.
"I am all attention," replied the lieutenant.
"I came from a land," said Mr. Mole, with a grandiloquent flourish, "where we despise physical suffering."
The august Turks around were filled with wonder and with admiration for the speaker.
After what they had witnessed, they were prepared to credit Mr. Mole's most extravagant assertions.
"Would you have some further proof of my great courage?" demanded Mr. Mole, folding his arms and striking a defiant attitude.
"Brave man, what more can you show us of your courage?" was the reply.
"Behold!" cried Mole.
The whole assembly eyed Mr. Mole's movements with the greatest curiosity now.
"Bring me a dozen sharp implements, such as swords, knives, daggers, etc, etc."
They were brought to him, and he then laid them down in a row upon the carpet.
The first was a needle of the dimensions of an ordinary bodkin.
Next this, was a small iron skewer.
After this came a long-bladed dagger knife.
And finally, there was a cut-and-thrust sword of alarming dimensions.
"You shall see now," said Mole, sternly, "how I can despise such trivialities as your bastinado."
What was he about to do now?
In solemn silence, Mr. Mole bared his right calf, then requested the company of his black servant Tinker, who was still in the hall.
The request was granted.
"Yes, Massa Mole."
"Go and fetch me——"
Here he sank his voice to a whisper, and the rest of his instructions were heard by no one save the darkey, for whom they were intended.
In the course of a few moments, Tinker returned and passed something slyly into Mr. Mole's hand.
It was a small sponge in an oil-skin bag.
Yet it appeared to be saturated with something, to judge by the way it was handled, for Mr. Mole slyly put it in his pocket.
Mr. Mole then took up the smallest of the row of implements just described.
"Behold what an Englishman can do!"
And then to the amazement of the spectators, he thrust the needle into the thick part of his calf.
A quiet smile played about the corners of his mouth.
But no sign of the slightest suffering.
"Judge how much your bastinado can affect me," he said, with superb disdain.
"Allah be praised!" ejaculated the Turk; "wondrous man."
"Behold," pursued Mole, picking up the skewer.
He passed it fairly through his calf, and stood there with his foot firmly planted on the ground, gazing about him like another "monarch of all he surveyed."
And Mole took up a large nail, and hammered it into his foot, so that he was pinned to the floor.
"Allah be praised!" again shouted the Turks.
"One more proof," he said, disdainfully.
He picked up another dagger, and pushed it resolutely into the ill-used leg.
At the same time he held the calf with his left hand, in which he concealed, with considerable dexterity, the sponge which Tinker had brought him.
Blood now trickled slowly through Mr. Mole's fingers, and ran down his legs and feet.
A thrill of terror passed through the assemblage.
"Yet another proof," exclaimed Mole, grandly.
"No more, no more," exclaimed the Turk.
Mole withdrew the nail from his foot, and the dagger from his leg, and seizing the sword, he thrust it with ferocious energy into the other mutilated leg.
He pressed his hand to the wound, and the blood flowed out in a small torrent, while the spectators groaned.
Mole looked round him proudly—defiantly.
Had he just conquered on the field of Waterloo, he could not have shown a greater apparent belief in himself.
He smiled sardonically as he bound up the wounded legs with his scarf.
Mr. Mole here nearly spoilt his exhibition of his marvellous power of endurance, for pricking his finger accidentally with a pin, he sang out lustily, much to the astonishment of the Turks.
But he was lucky to recover himself in time before the Turks could divine what had occurred.
"You must invent something more violent than any punishment I have yet seen here, if you would subdue the soul of Isaac Mole."
And he strode along with the air of the heavy man in a transpontine melodrama.
The marvellous exhibition of endurance aroused the phlegmatic Turk to real enthusiasm.
"Mole Pasha," he exclaimed, "you are a great hero. I shall seek an audience of his highness the Sultan, and beg of him for you some mark of distinction, perhaps even to confer upon you the distinguished order of the glass button."
"The glass bottle would be more in your excellency's way, Mole Pasha," suggested Tinker.
And henceforth when Mole walked abroad, the population was aroused.
"Behold the bravest Frank that ever lived," they said. "He is a great hero."
THE SNAKE IN THE GRASS—THE POISONED DAGGER.
As young Jack was sauntering through the streets of the town one day, he fancied that he was being followed by a man who was dressed in a semi-Oriental garb, but whose head was shaded by a broad-brimmed hat.
Jack was not given to fear without a cause, yet he certainly did feel uncomfortable now.
At first he thought of turning round and facing the man sharply.
But this, he reflected, might lead to a rupture.
A rupture was to be most carefully avoided.
He was determined, however, to assure himself that he was followed.
With this view, he made a circuitous tour of the city.
Still the man was there like his very shadow.
"This is unendurable," muttered Jack.
So he drew up short.
Grasping a pistol, which he carried in his pocket, with a nervous grip, he waited for the man to come up.
But the man did not come up.
He disappeared suddenly, at the very moment that Jack was expecting to come into collision with him.
Jack was not conscious of having an enemy—at least not one in that part of the world.
"Very strange," he muttered; "very strange!"
And brooding over this episode, Jack wended his way thoughtfully homewards.
Crossing the very threshold of his residence, Jack was suddenly and swiftly assaulted.
The same semi-Oriental figure had stolen stealthily up behind him, and with a murderous-looking knife dealt him a sharp, swift blow.
Jack bounded forward, and turned round pistol in hand, but so nearly fatal had been the blow that Jack's coat was ripped down the back.
The assassin was marvellously nimble; although Jack made a dart after him pistol in hand, meaning to wreak summary vengeance upon him, the ruffian contrived to vanish again—mysteriously.
Strangely disturbed by this, Jack went home and related to his friends what had taken place.
"This is a rum go," said Mr. Mole; "you have been mistaken for somebody else."
"So I suppose," returned Jack.
"What's to be done?" said Harry Girdwood.
"Lodge information with the police at once, I should say," suggested Mole.
"By all means."
"What was he like?"
"I could scarcely see," was Jack's reply, "for he was gone like a phantom."
"Perhaps it was a phantom," suggested Harry slily.
"I should be half inclined to think so," said Jack, "if I hadn't received this solid proof that he was flesh and blood."
Saying which, he turned round and displayed the back of his coat, ripped open by the assassin's dagger.
"Well," exclaimed Mole aghast, "that is cool."
"I'm glad you think so," returned Jack, "for I can tell you it was much too warm for me."
"Well, we shall soon leave this wretched place, I hope," said Mole, "for I don't feel safe of my life. I am expecting every day to be had up again before the pasha."
"We must always be on the watch now," said Harry Girdwood; "constant vigilance will he necessary to avert danger."
Let us follow the movements of the would-be assassin.
The secret of his sudden disappearance was really no great mystery after all.
Darting round the first corner so as to put a house between himself and Jack's pistol, he found himself suddenly seized by a vigorous hand, and dragged through an open doorway.
"Let go," hissed the assassin, fiercely, "or——"
He raised his long-bladed knife to strike, but before he could bring his arm down, the dagger was beaten from his grasp.
"Now," said the stranger planting his foot firmly upon the knife, "listen to me."
"You speak English," said the assassin, in surprise.
"Because you spoke English to me," was the reply; "until then, I took you for one of us."
"What do you want with me?" demanded the Englishman, doggedly.
"Not much," returned the other, speaking with great fluency, although his foreign accent was strongly marked. "I have saved you from the consequences of your failure. Had my friendly hand not been there to drag you out of sight, your young countryman would have shot you."
"Well," returned the assassin, surlily, "I owe you my thanks, and——"
"Stop—tell me would you like to succeed in this in spite of your late failure?"
"Then I will give you a safe and sure method."
"My eternal thanks," began the foiled ruffian.
The stranger interrupted him.
"Reserve your thanks. Tell me what you can offer if I help you."
"How much will you give to see your enemy removed from your path?"
"I will give a good round sum," returned the Englishman, eagerly.
"Name a sum."
A good round sum it was too.
"Now, then," said the Turk, producing a small phial containing a pale greenish fluid. "Observe this."
"Anoint your dagger with this. Scratch him with it; let your scratch be no more than the prick of a pin, and he will be beyond the aid of mortal man."
"Is this sure?"
"Beyond all doubt. Would you have proof?"
"Wait here a moment."
The Turk left the room, and presently he appeared carrying a small iron cage.
He held up the cage, and showed that it contained two large rats.
"Now," said he, "remove the stopper and dip your dagger's point in."
The Englishman obeyed.
"Now, prick either of the rats ever so slightly."
The Englishman pushed the point of the dagger through the bars of the cage, and one of the rats came to sniff at it—probably anticipating a savoury tit-bit to eat.
Moving the dagger slightly, it barely grazed the rat's nose.
But it sufficed.
The poor beast shivered once, and sank dead.
"What do you say now?" demanded the Turk.
"I am satisfied," replied the Englishman.
"Now, before you go," said the Turk, "I will give you a hint. The slightest scratch will suffice, as you see."
"Dip two ordinary pins in the poison, and send them by letter to your enemy. Place them so that in opening the envelope, he will probably scratch his finger."
The Englishman's eyes sparkled viciously.
"I will, I will."
"Let me know the result, and should you want my aid, you will note well the house on leaving so as to know where to return."
"Yes. What is your name?" demanded the Englishman.
"Hadji Nasir Ali," was the reply; "and yours?"
The other hesitated.
"Don't give it unless you feel it is safe," said the Turk.
"There's no harm in your knowing it," returned the Englishman. "My name is Harkaway."
"In one word."
"I see. Farewell, then."
And the interview was concluded.
"That letter is a splendid dodge. Look out, Master Jack Harkaway, look out, for I mean to cry quits now, or my name is not Herbert Murray," muttered the Englishman, as he walked away.
But how Herbert Murray had got to Turkey requires some explanation.
It will be within our readers' recollection that after his unsuccessful attempt on Chivey's life, and the adventure of the groom with the old Spaniard, Murray found himself on board the same ship as his groom.
He resolved to make the best of this circumstance, as it could not now be altered.
A few days after leaving the Spanish coast they put into one of the Mediterranean ports, and there heard that young Jack and his friends had gone on to Turkey.
"I'll follow them!" exclaimed Murray. "I can do as I like now the governor's gone and I've plenty of tin, so look out for yourself, Jack Harkaway."
Murray's ship was delayed by adverse weather, but at length reached port, and Herbert had scarcely put foot on shore, when he beheld young Jack, the object of his deadly hate, walking coolly down the street smoking a cigar.
This so enraged Murray that he hastened to disguise himself in Oriental attire, and then made the attempt on Jack's life which we have related.
That same night a man was found dead on the threshold of the house in which Jack Harkaway and his friends resided.
How he had died no one could imagine, for he had not a scratch on his body.
There was a scratch.
Just that and no more.
In his fast-clenched hand was found an envelope addressed to Mr. John Harkaway, and on a closer examination a pin's point was seen sticking through the paper.
This had just pricked the messenger's hand.
So slightly that, had not the tiny wound turned slightly blue, it would have entirely escaped notice.
Jack was now aware that he had in Turkey a deadly enemy, but who he was he could not yet tell.
When the men of skill assembled around the body, they were puzzled to assign a cause of death until one of them suggested it was apoplexy. So apoplexy it was unanimously set down for.
There was no more fuss made.
The man was only a poor devil of a Circassian, who got a precarious livelihood as a public messenger. So they
"Rattled his bones
Over the stones,
Like those of a pauper whom nobody owns."
And meanwhile, his murderer went his way.
"Fortunate I gave the name of Harkaway to that old professional poisoner, for they will never trace this job to me."
There was, however, one result from this using of Jack Harkaway's name which Herbert Murray certainly never contemplated.
But of this we must speak hereafter.
In spite of his knowledge of the fact that he had enemies following his footsteps, our hero would not remain in the house.
"I am quite as safe in the street as here," said he, in reply to Harry Girdwood's representations of the danger he ran, "and I am sure, old boy, you would not have me show the white feather."
"You never did that, and never will; but you need not run into unnecessary danger."
"'Thrice is he armed who has his quarrel just,' and his revolver well loaded. Ta-ta! I am just going to stroll down to this Turkish substitute for a postoffice, and see if last night's steamer brought any letters."
So Jack strolled down accordingly, and found a letter for him.
His heart beat with joy as he recognised the handwriting, and he hurried home to read it.
On breaking open the envelope, out tumbled a beautiful carte de visite portrait, a copy of which we are able to give, as we still thoroughly retain young Jack's friendship and confidence.
He kissed it till he began to fear he might spoil the likeness, and then placing it on the table before him, began to read.
And this is the letter—
"Dear Jack,—You very naughty boy. Where have you been, and why have you not written? I have a great mind to scold you, sir; but on second thoughts, I think I had better leave the task of correcting you to your parents, who, perhaps, have more influence with you than I have. You don't know, dear, how anxious we have all been about you. Poor Mr. Mole has started in search of you. Have you seen him yet?—and if you don't write soon, I shall feel obliged to try and find out what has become of you, for I almost begin to fear that some fair Turkish or Circassian girl——"
"The deuce!" Jack thought; "she can't have heard any thing of that affair yet. If Mole has written, the letter could not have reached England on the 20th of last month."
Then he continued—
"——has stolen your heart, and Harry Girdwood's too. Why, poor Paquita always has red eyes when she gets up. So, darling Jack, do write at once, and cheer our hearts. I can't help writing like this, for I feel so fearful that something has happened to you. So be a dear, good boy, and send a full account of all your doings to your father, and just a few lines to
"Your ever faithful and affectionate.
"P.S.—I was just reading this over to see if I had been too cross, when your father came in with a photographer, who took my portrait without my knowing anything about it. Do you think it like me, sir?"
Then followed three or four of those blots which ladies call "kisses."
MR. MOLE AGAIN OUT OF LUCK.
Herbert Murray, attended by Chivey, was strolling down the principal street of the town, smoking his cigar, thinking how he could yet serve out young Jack, when he suddenly saw, on in front, the figure of an elderly man, who appeared to walk with difficulty.
He made such uncertain steps and singular movements, as he hobbled along by the aid of a stick, that the effect, however painful to him, was ludicrous to the onlookers.
"Why, blest if it ain't old Mole, the man who came to bid young Harkaway and his friends good-bye when we sailed," cried Chivey.
"Or his ghost," said Murray.
"I'll have a lark with him, sir," said the tiger, laying his finger aside his nose, and winking knowingly. "You see!"
And walking nimbly and on tiptoe behind the old man, he soon caught up to him without his knowing it.
Murray halted at a little distance, ready to behold and enjoy the discomfiture of Mole.
The reader must be informed that the venerable Isaac was then experimenting upon a new substitute for those unfortunate much damaged members, his cork legs.
An American genius, with whom he had recently made acquaintance in the town, had induced Mole to try a pair of his "new patent-elastic-spring- non-fatiguing-self-regulating-undistinguishable-everlasting cork legs."
The inventor had helped Mr. Mole to put on these formidable "understandings," and given him every instruction with regard to their management.
"They'll be a little creaky at first," said the American; "nothing in nature works slick when it's quite new, but when you get 'em well into wear, they'll go along like greased lightning; now try them, old hoss."
Creaky indeed they were, for they made a noise almost as loud as a railway break; but what was even worse was that the Yankee had failed to inform Mole of the fact that the "new patent" etc., were only fitted to act perfectly on a smooth surface.
Now the roadway, or footway—for they are all the same in those old Turkish towns—are the very reverse of smooth, being principally composed of round nubbly stones.
Consequently Mole's locomotion was the reverse of pleasant.
Chivey crept up behind the old schoolmaster, and seizing an opportunity and one of his legs, gave it a pull, which caused Mole to roar with fright.
Down, of course, came Mole on the nubbly pavement, but Chivey didn't have exactly the fun he expected, for instead of his getting safely away, Mole fell on him.
"Oh, it's you, is it? You, the bad servant of a bad man's wicked son," exclaimed the angered tutor; "it's you who dare to set upon defenceless age and innocence, with its new cork legs on? Very good. Then take that, and I hope you won't like it."
Whereat he began pommelling away at Chivey.
Chivey roared with all his might, till a small crowd of wondering onlookers began to collect.
"What do you mean by daring to assault my servant in this manner?" asked Murray sternly, as he came up.
"He attacked me first," protested Mole; "and it's my belief you set him on to do it."
"How dare you insinuate——" began Murray, and he violently shook the old man by the collar.
But there was more spirit in Mole than Herbert was prepared for.
By the aid of a post, the old man managed to struggle to his feet, and leaning against this, he felt he could defy the enemy.
"My lad," he said, "it's evident that you didn't get enough flogging when you were at school, or you'd know better manners; I must take you in hand a bit now, sir, there!"
With his stick he gave a cut to the palm of Murray's hand, just as he was wont to do to refractory pupils in the old days.
Murray was livid with rage.
Chivey, now rather afraid of Mole, didn't interfere.
"Come on, if you like, and have some more," said Mole, and shaking his stick at both of them, he again urged on his wild career.
Very wild indeed it was, too.
Mole's patent legs, which outwardly looked natural ones, were indeed self-regulating, for they were soon utterly beyond the control of the wearer; they seemed to be possessed of wills of their own; one wished to go to the right, the other to the left.
Sometimes they would carry him along in double quick march time, and anon halt, beyond all his power of budging.
Of course the boys of the town were attracted by the stranger's singular movements, and began to hoot and jeer.
The merchants were interrupted at their calculations, the bazaar keepers came to their doors, long pipe in mouth, to see what the "son of Sheitan" was about.
Mole was red in the face with such hard work.
"Confound the Turks," he cried; "why don't they make their roads smoother? Oh, dear, I wish I could manage these unhappy legs; there they go."
By this time the crowd had become unpleasantly dense around him.
"Out of the way, un-Christian dogs," cried Mole, flourishing his stick round his head; "I'm an Englishman, and I've a right to—hallo! there it goes again."
For here his left leg took two steps to the right, and he came down with all his weight upon the toe of a white-bearded Alla-hissite.
"Son of a dog," growled the old Turk, as he rubbed his pet corn in agony; "may your mother's grave be defiled, and the jackass bray over your father's bones."
"I really beg your pardon," began Mole, but just at this moment his right leg was taken with a spasmodic action, and began to stride along at a furious rate, creaking like mad.
Mole lost all control (if he ever had any) over his own movements, and was carried forward again, till he came where Herbert Murray and Chivey, having made a detour, happened to be just turning the corner of the street.
"Stop me," yelled Mole, as he flourished his stick over his head; "my spring legs are doing what they like with me. I have no control over them. Oh, dear, they are at it again."
Chivey, undeterred by his recent castigation, thought he would repeat the trick, so, when Mole came up, he, by a dexterous jerk, turned him round as on a pivot.
He was thus stopped in his forward course, but this didn't check the action of his clockwork legs, which now scudded along as swiftly as before, into the very heart of the yelling crowd.
The result was rather bad for the Turks; they went down like a lot of ninepins before Mole's railway-like progression.
"A mad Christian," they cried; "he is possessed with a devil; down with him."
The perspiration streamed from Mole's face; he felt that if the spring-work in his new cork legs did not stop, he should die.
At this moment a body of women approached, closely veiled.
Their yashmaks obscured all but their eyes, which could be seen to open wide in wonder at the extraordinary behaviour of the red-faced giaour.
Two of the younger and slender ones fell with piercing screams before Mole's impetuous charge.
A third, a stout woman of middle age, stood her ground, and Mole, before he could stop himself, rushed into her arms, and floored her.
The scream she gave surpassed in loudness that of all the others put together; and brought up several ferocious-looking Turks, bent on condignly punishing the outrageous conduct of the mad Englishman.
"Death to the giaour; down with him!" roared the excited crowd.
What fate he would have suffered we dread to think, but he found an unexpected deliverer in the person of the old white-bearded Turk, whose corns he had trodden on.
"Defile not your hands with the blood of the unbeliever," he said; "but take him before the cadi to answer his conduct."
"To the cadi, to the cadi!" was now the cry.
"Hear me," said Mole, astonishing himself by his proficiency in Turkish; "I am not to blame, but at all events, take up those two other Englishmen who assaulted me."
He pointed to Murray and Chivey, who had by this time got into a dense crowd of Turks, whom they were elbowing in an angry manner.
"Take all the infidels before the cadi," cried the Turks.
Herbert Murray and Chivey were accordingly seized, and the whole three borne off to one doom.
The cadi was seated in his divan, administering justice, as was his custom, in the open air.
His style of doing so was summary, but vigorous.
"Let the giaour, who has unwarrantably assaulted the true believers, receive one hundred lashes," he said; "or pay fifty pieces of silver to our treasury."
"I haven't got the money," said Mole.
"Then receive the punishment," said the cadi.
This time there was no ceremony used; two negroes bound Mole, pulled off his shoes and stockings, and exposed to view the new patent steel clock-work legs.
"Allah, what have we here?" cried the cadi. "Is the Christian enchanted, to be half man, half machinery?"
"My lord," said Mole, "if you'll only permit me to speak, I'll explain all.
"Having lost my legs in the wars, helping the Turks to beat their foes, I have been induced to try as a substitute this new invention, and behold, the legs were enchanted, and I had no control over them."
"Allah kerim! Can this be?" exclaimed the cadi.
"That was the whole reason of my conduct, your excellency," pursued Mole; "otherwise, I would perish sooner than have attacked true believers. But these infidels," he added, pointing to Murray and Chivey, "first attacked me, as many here may bear witness."
"If that be so," said the magistrate, "we will remit your sentence on payment of fifty sequins."
"Gladly would I pay the sum if I had it," said Mole; "but I haven't."
"Search him," cried the cadi.
Mole was searched, but the investigations of the officer could not bring to light a greater sum in his pockets than a bad sixpence and a battered fourpenny-piece.
"Little enough," grumbled the cadi, pocketing the amount; "but as it is all you have, I consent to take it. We must have it out of the other infidels; they too are English, and look rich. Bring them before me."
Herbert Murray and Chivey were accordingly examined.
Mole gave evidence as to their assaulting him, though they utterly denied doing so, but Mole's statement being backed up by several believers who had witnessed it, the judge declared both guilty, and sentenced them to the bastinado.
"Me bastinadoed!" exclaimed the indignant Murray,. "I'd have you know, sir, that I'm an Englishman of rank, of influence, of property, and——"
"Of influence, eh? Very good; then you'll have to pay a fine of five hundred sequins," cried the cadi, exultantly.
"I swear that I haven't——"
"Search the infidels," cried the cadi.
The officers did so, and altogether twenty-five pounds, in gold, notes and silver, were found upon Murray and Chivey.
With an audible chuckle, the cadi took possession of it all.
"There," he said; "so now go in peace, all of you; and if I find you making another disturbance in the town, it will be bastinado and gaol, as well as a fine. Go, infidels, and remember the grand Turk."
THE CONSPIRATORS—THE DEED—THE FALSE INFORMERS.
The walls of Alla-hissar gleamed in the noontide heat.
The air was heavy with sleep, which weighed upon all living things, and made them seek shelter from the burning sun.
All was still in the city.
It seemed as if the spirit of death brooded over all the habitations.
Yet there were some awake at that dreary hour.
Gathered together at one of the principal houses in secret conclave were some of the chief Turks of the province.
In spite of the heat, the heavy curtains covered the doorways.
The door was shaded, and the assembly spoke in subdued tones.
At length Ibrahim Bey, a grave old Turk, subtle and resolute, arose.
"It is sacred then, friends," he said, looking round at the assembly; "the deed must be done, and the hour is at hand."
"Such is the will of Allah," was the reply of the conspirators.
"'Tis decided then, that Moley Pasha, our new governor, has, since he has assumed power, done all he could to destroy our old customs, and introduce the manners of the infidel Franks, therefore he must die."
"He must die," murmured the assembly.
"Allah's will be done," said old Ibrahim, turning up his eyes piously; "but by whose hand shall the blow be struck? Who will take upon himself the dangerous deed?"
Up rose Abdullah, the interpreter, formerly of Mr. Mole's party.
"I will do it," he said, in a firm voice; "he dies ere another hour has sped. I will risk the deadly danger, if you will guarantee, that if I succeed, I shall be rewarded."
"That is but just," said Ibrahim Bey. "Should it be his sacred majesty's pleasure that I succeed Moley, a post of honour shall be the guerdon of your bravery."
"I accept the terms," said Abdullah; "I know a secret way into the palace, I have a disguise and a dagger; doubt not my courage for the rest. Wait here, my friends, and ere another hour strikes, I shall return to say the deed is done."
He glided from the room, leaving the others wondering at the cool audacity with which he undertook so desperate and criminal a deed.
The angel of sleep had spread her wings over the seraglio of Moley Pasha.
The veiled beauties of the harem had retired to their luxurious rooms.
The pasha slept soundly and peacefully.
Well for him had his dreams warned him against the peril that hovered over him like a black shadow.
For the form of a woman, tall, thin, closely-veiled, glided along the passages of the harem.
Her steps gave forth no sound, and she disturbed not the sleeping servants.
She glided like a smooth serpent, or an invisible spirit; her presence was unseen, unfelt, unsuspected.
She enters the inner chamber where lies the unconscious pasha.
She bends over him, she draws forth a knife, slender, tapering to a point almost like a needle.
The pasha still slept on, the fountain outside made sweet music, heard through the curtains and windows.
A smile played upon the pasha's lips.
He was dreaming, perchance, of the rosy bowers and the dark-eyed houris of Paradise.
Suddenly the knife descended, there was the flash of a moment, while it hovered like a hawk over its quarry, the next instant it was buried in the pasha's heart.
A deep groan was the only effort of expiring nature.
The fiercely flashing eyes, and a part of the face of the murderer were now exposed; the dress was that of a woman, but the form and features were those of Abdullah the interpreter.
For a moment he stood gazing on his deed, then lifted some tapestry which concealed a small door, and disappeared.
What cry was that which startles the seraglio from its siesta?
What combined lamentation disturbs the whole palace with its harrowing intensity?
All the inmates of the establishment have been rudely awakened from their slumbers.
It was the pasha's favourite wife who had broken in upon the privacy of her lord, and she had found him dead.
Dead, plainly by the assassin's dagger, but what assassin, none could even suspect.
None could conjecture by what means any stranger could have obtained entrance and exit.
Then arose that dreadful wail of despair, that beating of breasts, and tearing of tresses.
The news soon spread, and the whole town was in a fever of commotion.
Who had done the deed?
Who was to be Moley Pasha's successor?
The conspirators played their parts well.
Ibrahim Bey pretended to be terribly amazed and shocked: he refused to be placed at the head of affairs until the sultan's will should be known, and he offered rewards for the discovery of the assassin.
A council, consisting of Ibrahim and others, was now established to temporarily rule the town.
A grand funeral, at which all the dignitaries of the place attended, was given to the unfortunate pasha, the evening after his assassination.
The same night arrived a firman from the sultan, proclaiming Ibrahim Pasha of Allahissar.
Such is the perilous nature of the power and dignity in Eastern lands.
Ibrahim at once appointed Abdullah his vizier, and gave all the other conspirators important posts.
Several perfectly innocent men were arrested and hanged on a pretended suspicion of having caused the late pasha's death.
At the first divan held by the new pasha, two Englishmen were announced, who were said to be the bearers of important evidence about the murder.
They were admitted accordingly, and proved to be no others than Murray and Chivey.
"Christians, you are welcome," said Ibrahim, through his new vizier. "Allah in his wisdom hath sent you hither, wherefore discover your knowledge."
Murray bowed, and seated himself upon a chair pointed out to him by the pasha.
Chivey, as a servant, wasn't honoured with a seat, whereat he murmured, half to himself—
"Well, they might let a cove sit down, and if they offered us a drop of something cool this hot weather, it wouldn't come unwelcome."
Reclining on his divan in the old Turkish style, and smoking his hookah, Ibrahim listened to Murray's communication.
"It may already be known to your excellency that there is in your dominions a young scapegrace of an Englishman, named Jack Harkaway. He has surrounded himself with many doers of evil, worse even than himself, amongst whom is an old scoundrel, formerly a schoolmaster, who, though he has lost both his legs, still continues to go about, and get into mischief."
"The audacious giaour who dared to impersonate Moley Pasha?" asked Ibrahim.
"The same," continued Murray. "Well, I have received proofs that it was this Harkaway and his friend who murdered the real Moley Pasha."
"Shade of Eblis!" exclaimed Ibrahim, pretending to be much shocked. "This must be seen to; Christian, proceed."
"Harkaway was once my friend," continued Murray, "and it is quite against my will to speak against him; but my love of justice is above all other considerations."
"Christian," said Ibrahim, "proceed."
"In the harem of your illustrious predecessor," said Murray, "there lately resided a Greek girl, of exquisite beauty, named Thyra, a pearl of delight, a peri of Paradise, and she was bewitched by this Harkaway, who, how we know not, penetrated within the sacred precincts of his highness's harem, and stole her away."
"Vengeance of Allah! but he deserves death!" exclaimed the pasha, half rising, and his eyes flashing with anger.
"But, your eminence, to make his crime complete, he committed another; he stabbed the pasha to the heart."
"By the sword of the prophet, he dies!" exclaimed Ibrahim; "but what proof hast thou of all this?"
"I can bring several witnesses to the truth of what I say," said Murray. "If any other proof were wanting, Thyra, the pearl beyond price, disappeared from the palace the very day, the very hour of the pasha's death, and she is now at the residence of Harkaway and his friends."
"Please, your worship," here broke in Chivey, "if you'll let me have my talk, I'll prove it, as sure as eggs are eggs."
"The giaour's servant entreats your highness to listen to the words of truth," was the way in which the astute Abdullah translated this appeal.
Chivey gave his evidence, a story carefully concocted between him and his master, and to this was added the confirmation of several natives of the town, men who would swear black was white, for a dollar or two.
Of course, old Mole was represented as Harkaway's chief adviser, and his aider and abettor in the late pasha's death.
This story, of course, did not really impose upon Ibrahim Pasha; he knew more of the actual facts than Murray could do, but it served his turn to pretend to believe it, so he thanked Murray for his information.
Abdullah (the real assassin) was so profound a dissembler, so utterly devoid of conscience, that he put down, at Murray's dictation, the names of the innocent Harkaway and his friends, remarking calmly—
"I think we have got hold of the right criminals at last."
"We will send and have them arrested at once," said Ibrahim. "Vizier, let these Christians be rewarded for their information by a purse of gold, and despatch an armed force to the lair of those English dogs, who have slain my lamented predecessor. And, Vizier, don't forget, whatever you do, to bring the beautiful Thyra to me."
"Pasha, to hear is to obey," said Abdullah.
"Ha, ha! I think we've done for the Harkaway party this time," said Murray gleefully to Chivey.
"It was a capital dodge, I must say," answered Chivey, "although my belief is that Ibrahim Passher is an old rascal, and knows who really did for the last governor."
"Keep all such suspicions to yourself," said Murray.
In a short time the captain of the pasha's guards, with a detachment of troops, marched out to arrest our hero and his friends.
The news spread like wildfire that the murderers of the late pasha had at length been discovered.
JACK HAS TO STAND A SIEGE.
And how far were Jack Harkaway and his friends really guilty in this matter?
It was indeed true that Thyra, the beautiful Greek slave before alluded to, had fled from the harem of the late pasha.
But this had nothing at all to do with his assassination.
No doubt Thyra cherished a strong attachment for young Jack, having found a refuge in the same house.
She could not overcome it.
"I throw myself upon your protection," she said. "If I returned to my master's, my fate would be instant death, but that would be preferable to living without you, and be for ever separated from you."
Jack was much embarrassed.
He told her, gently as he could, that her love was hopeless.
"Oh, do not say that," cried Thyra, bursting into tears. "Do not send me away; I'm ready to be your slave, and obey your every word."
Jack consulted with his friends under this difficult and delicate condition of affairs, and they all agreed that Thyra must not be given up to the pasha.
An hour afterwards, the report of his murder made matters still more serious.
But he never dreamed that any suspicion of the actual crime would be turned against himself.
It was therefore agreed to keep Thyra in close concealment, until an opportunity offered to get her back to her friends.
The house occupied by Harkaway and his friends was, like most Oriental edifices, built for endurance.
The walls were thick and strong as those of a castle.
The doorway was narrow, and led into a square courtyard or garden, and with a fountain in the centre.
Into this yard most of the rooms opened.
The windows facing the street were mere loopholes.
The roof was flat, and in the evening formed a favourite lounge, approached by a flight of steps, from one angle of the court.
It is necessary to be particular in describing the house, that our readers may fully understand what follows.
Jack Harkaway was one morning in the courtyard, near the centre, with Harry Girdwood, looking at a heap of curious weapons, which they had purchased when roaming about the bazaars.
"Why, we've got quite an armory here," said Harry Girdwood. "It's a pity we haven't got some fighting to do to use them."
"I mean to make the place into a kind of fortress," said Jack. "Here, Bogey."
"What you after, Massa Jack?" asked the nigger, appearing instantly.
"Go and take charge of the gate, and don't let anyone pass in or out without my order."
"Right you are, massa; me keep him safe as a sentrybox," answered the darkey.
And he started off to take up the post assigned to him.
Jack next summoned Tinker.
"Serve us up our dinner here under the trees," said Jack; "and be quick about it, you rascal, or——"
"Understand puffeckly, massa," responded the black. "To hear yer is to obey yer, as dese Turkeys say. Yah, yah."
It was very pleasant to sit down to their repast under the refreshing shade of the trees.
Of course Mr. Mole and the orphan, as well as Thyra, the waiter and the diver, were summoned and came at this juncture.
The orphan and Mole appeared arm-in-arm.
Mr. Mole had a black bottle in one hand and a tall glass in the other.
He looked very jolly, whilst the orphan appeared rather melancholy, for his flute had got slightly cracked.
"Have a drop to raise your spirits," said the schoolmaster, filling him a brimmer, and fairly forcing it into his hand.
The orphan could not refuse so pressing an invitation.
He drained the glass, and as it came upon the top of several more, its effect upon him was not inconsiderable.
Intending to walk straight to the table, he walked, instead, extremely "slantindicular," till lurching up against the fountain as he passed it, he stumbled over its ledge, and fell with a splash into the middle of its basin.
Mr. Mole, with the best intentions in the world, rushed to his companion's rescue.
Before Mole could reach the orphan, his patent legs being still uncontrollable, and his head unsteady also, he fell backwards, smashing his wine bottle on the stones of the courtyard.
The scene was certainly ludicrous, and elicited much laughter from the spectators.
They, however, helped the orphan out of his accidental and very unwelcome bath, which, though it had drenched him, had also sobered him.
Mole was also assisted to re-assume an erect posture, and in a short time, both of them were sufficiently recovered to take their places at the table.
Mole and Figgins seemed somewhat struck by the warlike appearance of the place.
"What are you going to do with all that cutlery?" inquired Mr. Mole.
"Perhaps you mean to set up in the scissors trade?" suggested the orphan.
"You'll see by and by, old man," answered our hero. "We shall find 'em useful, perhaps sooner than you expect."
"Oh, dear! I hope not," exclaimed Figgins. "I'm sure I don't want any more fighting; I have had more than is good for my health."
The waiter now took up his accustomed duty of attending on the guests.
The diver, at Jack's request, summoned Thyra, whose classic features, slender form, and Eastern garb, were well in keeping with the scene around.
A seat of honour was kept for her at the al fresco banquet, to which Jack gallantly conducted her.
No one could doubt her love for him, for it shone out in her slightest action, her very words, and look, and tone. It seemed a pity that he could not return it, otherwise than by studied politeness and consideration.
To be at his side, to hear the sound of his voice, was her greatest happiness, and made her forget all other dangers and troubles.
When towards the conclusion of the meal, Jack proceeded to—
"Fill high the bowl with Samian wine,"
and hand it to Thyra, it was to her a moment of supreme pleasure.
Her dark eyes sparkled, her soft cheek flushed, and her jewelled fingers trembled as they held the crystal glass, filled with what, for his sake, and independent of its own nature, was to her as the nectar of the gods.
"Hark! What noise is that?" asked Jack, with such suddenness, that Thyra spilt some of the wine ere it could reach her lips.
There was indeed a sound in the street like the blended hum of many voices, and tread of many feet, each moment becoming louder.
"Perhaps it is some procession," said Harry Girdwood.
"Or a march round of the troops before the new pasha," said Mole. "Oh, how I pity him."
"No, there's something up more dreadful than that, I am sure," exclaimed the orphan. "Oh, this terrible country. I'll go home to-morrow if they'll only let me."
"Here, Tinker, you black son of a gun; go up on the roof, and see what's the matter," said Jack.
The nigger ascended as nimbly as a monkey.
At that moment a thundering knock came at the outer gate.
"What you want?" asked Bogey, still acting as porter.
"Open, in the name of the pasha," said a stern voice outside.
Bogey replied not, but ran in to his master.
Tinker and he arrived breathless at the same moment.
"Awful lot o' soldiers—Turks—outside, big guns and swords, massa," said Tinker.
"Wants to come in here, too," added Bogey. "Hark! Oh, ain't they giving what for at the door? They're at it again, a-hammerin' away."
And the thundering knocking was repeated louder than before, and a stern voice demanding Thyra, the slave.
"Just as I feared," cried Jack; "they've found out where Thyra is, and have come to drag her back."
"Oh, powers of Heaven, protect us all!" she exclaimed, nervously clutching Jack's arm. "Am I unfortunate enough, dear Jack, to have brought you into this great peril? I entreat you to save yourselves by surrendering me; only do me one favour; let one of your number shoot me dead as soon as I am in the enemy's hands."
"Impossible, dear Thyra!" said Jack. "Do you think, as a Boy of England, it is possible for me to act in that cowardly way? No; we must make a gallant resistance. Surely we are well prepared; here are arms enough for all. Where's the Irish diver?"
"Here, your honour, ready for any row that's goin'."
"Mr. Mole, you can handle a gun," said Jack; "here is one that will just suit you."
The waiter and the orphan were also accommodated with weapons, but the orphan thought he would rather load the guns than fire them off.
"Quick! get all the movables, and place them against the gate," said Jack. "With its own strength, its bolts, and bars, and keys, and a barricade behind it, we can defy this band of Turks, or the sultan himself."
All gave a cheer at these defiant words, and proceeded with their impromptu fortification with great vigour.
"I'll go up on the roof and reconnoitre," said Harry.
And dangerous as was this duty, he proceeded to it with great alacrity.
In a few moments he came down, with much consternation on his face.
"This is a bad job, Jack," he said; "worse than I thought."
"How?" asked our hero.
"We are accused of murdering the pasha, as well as carrying off the young Greek girl. There are over a hundred of the pasha's troops on guard outside, with that scoundrel Abdullah at the head of them, and thousands of wild Moslem fanatics, thirsting for our blood."
"I will go and see for myself," cried young Jack.
"For Heaven's sake, don't," said Harry, restraining him; "it will be certain death, for you, as our leader, are the particular object of their animosity."
Thyra's entreaties were even more pressing.
She threw her arms round Jack's neck, and earnestly entreated him not to risk his life.
"Dear Thyra," cried Jack, "you shall not be taken. I will and must protect you."
He sprang up the stairway, and was soon on the roof.
It was a sight indeed to appal the stoutest heart.
As far as the eye could reach was an excited crowd, restless, furious, and thirsting for vengeance.
In the front were a body of troops, in Turkish uniform, led by the captain of the guard by whose side could be recognised the sinister countenance of Abdullah.
They caught sight of Jack Harkaway.
He was recognised.
A shout burst from a thousand throats; a deep, angry cry, like the roar of a tempestuous sea.
Thousands of eyes flashed upon him—the eyeballs gleaming white from out of the dusky skins.
"The murderer of the pasha—the despoiler of the harem!" they cried. "Death, death to him, and all the Christians!"
Jack endeavoured to parley with them; but it was useless, until silence was obtained by the commands of the captain of the guard and Abdullah, who called out to Jack—
"Resistance is useless; surrender at once, or I will not answer for your life."
"If you want me, you must come and fetch me," returned dauntless Jack.
"Your blood be upon your own head, then," said Abdullah.
The captain gave the word of command, and the battering, for a while suspended, was recommenced upon the door below.
THE SIEGE—THE ESCAPE—A DESPERATE RUSE.
Jack now left his dangerous elevation, and returned to his friends.
"Quite as bad as it can be," he said; "there's nothing for it but to make a desperate resistance, and to die game."
The yells and shouts of the crowd outside were like the combined roar of a large herd of wild beasts.
The blows became more furious on the door.
It quivered beneath the repeated shocks; but its own strength, and that of the fastenings, and particularly the barricade behind it, still defied the efforts of the besiegers.
Suddenly the hammering ceased, the yells of the crowd subsided.
Then came a volley of musketry.
They were firing at the door.
The volleys came thick and fast; the woodwork, strong as it was, began to be penetrated by the bullets.
It was clear the place would soon be untenable.
Should the besiegers enter, all hope of escape would be over.
"At least, we'll return their fire," said Jack.
The windows in the wall facing the street were mere loopholes.
At each of these, Jack commanded one of his men to take his stand, and pick off the enemy with the rifle.
It was a dangerous game, but it served its purpose.
Several of the besiegers fell before the well-aimed shots of the besieged.
The Turks began to think that they were being opposed by a considerable force of well armed men.
Their own shots failed to reach the highly-placed and narrow windows, which were now so many portholes for the fire of the besieged.
The captain and Abdullah accordingly ordered their troops to fall back.
The excited crowd gave a yell of disappointment.
"I do believe we've defeated them, after all," cried Harry Girdwood.
But it was only a lull in the storm—a fatal presage of overwhelming disaster.
The Turkish commanders now resolved to make certain of victory by bringing up a cannon.
If, by this means, their troops could once effect an entrance—and this was almost certain—what could stop their progress.
What were Harkaway's mere handful of men against the thousands they would have to encounter!
Once more, and at greater peril than ever, Jack went on the housetop to reconnoitre.
He laid himself down flat that he might not be seen, but yet contrived to take a rapid glance of the position.
The house was detached on three sides; the fourth side was built against the wall of a mosque.
Upon those three sides the building was entirely surrounded by troops.
The only chance of escape would be by the mosque.
But how was this to be effected?
The wall of the sacred building rose high above that of the house.
Jack raised himself to examine it more closely.
A flash—a report—and the whiz of a bullet told him that he was observed.
A volley followed from all sides.
It would therefore be impossible for his party to raise a ladder, and thus escape from their own roof on to that of the mosque.
Jack, the bullets whistling thickly around him, managed to crawl unhurt to the trapdoor and again descend into the courtyard.
"Well, Jack, what think you of the situation now?" asked Harry.
"They gave you a very warm reception, my boy," said Mr. Mole.
"It will be warmer still when they capture us," said Harkaway.
"Oh, gracious, gracious! how shall we ever get out of this? Oh, dear! oh, dear! I wish I was in London once more," cried the orphan, wringing his hands.
His distress contrasted strongly with the calm, self-possessed demeanour of the beautiful Thyra at this time of supreme peril.
"There is but one thing we can do," said Jack.
"What is that?" asked Harry, anxiously.
"Break through that wall and get into the mosque; that's the only side of the building which isn't surrounded."
"But it is impossible to pierce such a wall as that," said Harry.
"We'll try, at all events," Jack responded. "Come, boys," he added, "one last desperate effort, and we'll baffle 'em yet."
The waiter and diver understood in a minute.
Hurriedly they collected the tools—pickaxes, crowbars, chisels, and hammers—and they all set to work on the masonry.
But their momentary hopes soon subsided.
The mortar had, in the course of ages, become even harder than the stone itself.
It was impossible to make any impression upon it.
When they saw this, disappointment was depicted upon every countenance.
Jack flung down, in sheer despair, the chisel with which he had attempted to break the mortar.
As the implement fell upon the stones of the courtyard, Thyra's quick ear noticed the peculiar sound.
"It is hollow beneath here," she exclaimed, eagerly.
Again testing the floor in the same way, they became convinced that she was right.
There were probably vaults beneath this courtyard, and this stone concealed the entrance to them.
Animated by this fresh hope, the party now worked away, and in a few minutes had lifted the ponderous flagstone.
A flight of rude steps, leading down into utter darkness, was discovered.
"As I thought," cried Jack, "these are vaults; we may baffle them after all. Bogey, run down immediately and see what they are like."
Bogey hesitated not a moment, but skipped down the rude steps and disappeared.
The others waited his return with great anxiety.
At this moment, a shout of triumph was raised by their enemies outside.
It signified that the cannon had been brought, and that the attack would soon recommence.
The hope of escape was still of the very slightest.
In a few moments Bogey returned.
"Well?" asked Jack.
"All cellars, massa, goin' along—oh, miles and miles under de earth, all dark, 'cepting a bit of light that comes here and there through little holes in de roof. Plenty of room to hide all of us, sar. Oh, golly, won't de nasty Turks go mad?"
"Hurrah! down you go immediately," said Jack. "Now then, ladies first. Harry, I commend Thyra to your care. Take her down."
"I can not, will not leave you, dear Jack," she cried, desperately clinging to our hero.
"No, no; I will soon be with you. For Heaven's sake. Thyra, do not hesitate now, or we shall all be lost. Go quietly; it is my wish."
Thyra resisted no more, but with Harry's assistance descended the steps into the vault.
"Now, Mr. Mole, down you go," said Jack. "Here, Figgins, you take his legs and go first, or they'll be running away with him again. Tinker, follow behind, supporting his head."
But Mr. Mole objected to this arrangement.
"What! do you think I'm an infant, to need carrying?" he said, with offended dignity. "No, though I have got patent self-controlling cork legs, I can walk down by myself."
And to prove this, he began jauntily descending the steps.
But the next moment he lost his footing, and with a cry, tumbled right down to the bottom, on to the body of the unfortunate orphan.
Luckily, it was not very far to fall, and Mr. Mole was very little hurt, though Figgins got the worst of it.
"Now, boys, down you go," cried Jack. "Hark! they are battering down the gate with artillery."
At that moment a ball tore through the doorway, shattered the top of the barricade, and at length lodged in the solid masonry.
Yells of triumph broke from the Turks.
"Quick! Tinker, Bogey, for your lives!" cried Jack.
"Is it that we are to desart ye!" cried the Irish diver. "No, Mr. Jack, I'll see you down first."
"Please make haste," said Jack almost imploringly. "Of course I shall save myself; but I'm the captain, you know, and I mustn't leave the ship till the last."
Thus reassured, the rest descended, and no sooner was the last safe in the vault, than Jack Harkaway shut down the stone in its place, thus closing the opening.
Then he hastily laid earth in the interstices round it, and tried to efface all signs of its having been recently removed.
With equal rapidity, he gathered up the crowbars, chisels, etc.
All this time the firing continued.
The door would soon give way and the enemy pour into the courtyard.
Was our hero mad, thus to remain behind while his friends escaped?
His conduct was part of a desperate and deep-laid design.
He saw that if he had followed them in their rapid flight, the Turks would be sure to perceive that the stone had been removed, and this would at once enable them to discover the retreat of the whole party.
By remaining outside, he could restore the stone to its original appearance.
And this he had now done.
But his own safety?
He had thought of that, too.
Wild and desperate as was his scheme—one that required far more than ordinary courage to accomplish—gathering up the tools, he re-entered the house, and rapidly ascended to his own room.
Here, from the window, he could perceive how much the crowd of enemies had increased outside.
He was almost shaken off his feet by another discharge of artillery.
But every second was precious.
Hastily Jack robed himself in the ordinary garb of a middle-class Turk—for he had plenty of Oriental garments—bound a turban round his brows, and rubbed his face all over with a chemical powder, which greatly darkened his complexion.
He quickly stained his eyebrows a deep black, with henna.
None of his friends could now have recognised Jack Harkaway.
But how were his enemies to be deceived and eluded?
Having completed this hasty transformation, Jack descended the stairs.
He looked out into the courtyard.
A third discharge of artillery had now broken down the door, and the troops were rapidly clearing away the obstacles before entering in a body.
Loud were their shouts of triumph, and Jack recognised the countenance of Abdullah, lit up by a savage satisfaction.
But a glance sufficed.
Jack then retired into the smaller garden at the back, where he completely concealed himself under some thick shrubs.
In a few moments, the troops were all over the yard, probing and seeking in every corner.
Just as Jack had calculated, the soldiers were followed by a wild helter-skelter of Turks, of all ages and conditions, fanatical Moslems, who were ready to raze to the ground the accursed house where the Christians had taken refuge.
The soldiers were considerably surprised to find no one.
They sought in every room in vain, to their intense disappointment.
Abdullah's fury was terrible to witness.
Speedily the whole house was filled with a motley Turkish rabble.
In this fact consisted Jack's safety.
Seeing the moment when a number of the Turks were passing his hiding-place, he stepped out and mingled with them.
In the confusion, nobody noticed him.
In appearance, he was just like a score of other wild Turkish youths who were in the throng, shouting lustily "Death to the Christians!" in which cry Jack joined with great vigour.
The crisis of his danger was now over.
He had only to follow the movements of the crowd, and join the first group who, tired of their search, went back through the gate.
This soon happened, and amongst those disappointed Turks, Jack Harkaway was not for a moment conspicuous.
Mingling now with the crowd outside, Jack soon found an opportunity of slipping down a side lane, and reaching the suburbs of the town.
He was free, his disguise still protecting him.
He now increased his speed, making towards the desert.
For there dwelt the tribe of Arabs with whom he was friendly, who hated the new pasha as much as the old one, and who would be sure to extend their assistance to the gallant young Englishman, and enable him to rescue his friends. They received him kindly.
Jack told his story—in which they were all powerfully interested—but they told him that nothing could be done until the chief returned.
In the meantime, our hero was so overcome by excitement and fatigue that a deep sleep fell upon him, despite his efforts to keep it off.
ADVENTURES IN THE VAULTS—NEW FRIENDS—JACK AGREEABLY SURPRISED.
We must now follow Jack's friends in their subterranean flight.
They were, in fact, the remains of some ancient and long-disused fortifications, of far greater antiquity than the edifice which had been built over them.
Light and air were only admitted by small gratings on the sides of the roofing, which was about level with the ground outside.
As soon as the party had got over the confusion of their hurried concealment, Harry Girdwood took the lead.
Their greatest distress was the loss of Jack Harkaway.
That he was not with them soon became evident.
And that being shut outside would be certain death to him, seemed equally so.
Thyra could by no means be consoled.
Her grief at this separation from Jack took the form of intense and violent lamentations.
She declared that had she known that Jack would thus be left outside, no consideration would have induced her to enter the vaults.
In her frenzy of despair and her love for him, she resolved to go back and perish with him.
But all her efforts were inadequate to raise the stone which had already resisted the greater strength of Harry Girdwood.
As soon as the Greek girl could be in the least degree pacified, the party proceeded through the vaults, Harry reminding them that they were by no means out of all danger, but that further on some other outlet, or at least more secure retreat might be discovered.
It was a great drawback that they had no lamp or candle, but Tinker had a box of matches, and by lighting one of these at every few yards, they were enabled to gain some idea of the place they were in.
In this way they penetrated a considerable distance, till arriving at a kind of wide underground room, the party rested awhile.
Harry Girdwood now proposed to go and explore the further portion of this subterranean region.
Leaving, therefore, the others resting, he took the box of matches, and entered the further passage.
He soon found a low rugged opening, from which another passage branched off.
Going through this, Harry was almost sent falling on his face through making a false step, for he did not see that this passage lay more than a foot lower than the other.
Then he struck one of his matches, and by its light perceived that this passage was lower, narrower, and more rugged and winding than the rest of the vaults, and seemed to have been hewn out of the earth, rather than built in it.
"Perhaps this leads to a cave," he thought, "inhabited by robbers or wild beasts. In that case I shall come off badly. I ought to have brought Bogey with me; he's ugly enough to frighten any body. Never mind, here goes."
And grasping his cutlass in one hand, and in the other a piece of lighted paper, which he had twisted into the form of a torch, Harry Girdwood marched manfully on.
Grazing his head against a jutting piece of rock reminded him that the passage was growing very small, and it behoved him to stop.
Suddenly Harry stopped.
He heard voices.
He saw the gleam of a light at the end of the passage.
He was apparently approaching some robbers' lair. Here was a fresh peril.
But there was still time to draw back from it.
No; urged on by curiosity, Harry determined to see and know the worst.
In a few moments that curiosity was gratified.
He came to a point where the narrow, winding passage terminated, leading out into a lofty, rugged vault fitted up in rude imitation of a room.
Here, seated upon the floor in a group were about a dozen men, all armed, and by their dress and appearance evidently Bedouin Arabs.
Harry was at once reassured.
He knew that the Arabs were enemies to the Turks.
The sharp eyes and quick ears of one of these sons of the desert soon "spotted" the stranger, and before he could resist or retreat, gave the alarm.
Two of them seized and secured him.
Harry now feared that his curiosity would cost him dear.
Questioned by their chief, Harry, by dint of words and signs, explained what had occurred.
The Bedouins became at once friendly.
They were ever ready to help even the unbelieving Christians against the still more hated Turks.
Two of their number were therefore told off to accompany Harry back.
By the aid of a torch, the three soon found their way to the rest of the party, who were astonished and alarmed at the ferocious appearance of their intending deliverers.
Indeed, the waiter and diver drew their weapons and prepared to offer resistance, but Harry stepped forward and explained that the Arabs were friends.
Thyra, who could speak perfectly both Turkish and Arabic, acted as interpreter, and gave a full account of all that had occurred, which seemed to impress the Bedouins greatly.
The beauty of the speaker produced a powerful effect upon the young and gallant chief to whom Thyra particularly addressed herself.
"Oh, brave sheikh," she exclaimed, "hasten to assist the young Englishman whom I love, and who has fallen into their hands while so generously saving his friends."
"Lady, more beautiful than the peri of the gate of Heaven," replied the chief, Kara-al-Zariel, "I and the warriors of my tribe will protect thee and thy friends."
Thyra knelt and kissed the hem of the Arab chief's garment in humble gratitude.
He raised her from the ground.
As he did so, the deepest admiration shone from his dark and luminous eyes.
But Thyra felt love only for young Jack.
"We were even now debating how to attack the Turks," said the Arab, "Ibrahim is our enemy; but from thy words, it would appear that they are strong and many, and armed with the weapons of western science. In the desert, we fear neither men, nor kings, nor armies, but in the cities our strength availeth not."
"But you will at least fly to the assistance of brave Jack," implored Thyra.
"It is too late; already the castle is in the hands of the pasha's men, and your friend doubtless is their captive!"
"But you will rescue him?" entreated Thyra; "promise us that."
"I promise to make the attempt, fair maiden," answered Kara-al Zariel; "but it must be by night and by stealth."
"That hope gives me comfort," exclaimed Thyra.
"Thou seemest greatly to love this Frankish youth," observed the chief, bending his dark eyes upon her; "if so, he is much to be envied."
"Gallant emir," said Harry, addressing Al-Zariel at this juncture, "is this cave safe from the entrance of our common enemy?"
"Safe as the top of Caucasus, as far as we are concerned," the chief answered. "The Turks know not of these vaults, and if they did, would not venture here to be at our mercy. It was through these vaults that we intended to enter and take the town by surprise."
"But where does the other end lead to?" asked Harry.
"Into our native desert, where its opening is concealed by a dense shrubbery," replied Al-Zariel. "We have often found these caves very useful in our excursions against the Turks. But you and your friends shall accompany us to our tents, where the Turks will be bold indeed to seek you."
Harry thanked him for this generous offer.
This arrangement having been made, the party quitted the caves by means of a narrow path leading between two walls of high rock.
Two of the chief's men, disguised as Turks, were left behind to enter the town and keep an eye upon the condition of affairs there.
The chief of course took command of the party.
He seemed to make Thyra the especial object of his care.
It was evidently a case of "love at first sight" towards her who had been, with equal suddenness, smitten with Jack Harkaway.
And both attachments were equally hopeless.
In some parts the path was so narrow that it was with difficulty they could squeeze through it.
This rugged path proved particularly difficult to Mr. Mole, whose head was, as usual, not entirely free from the fumes of alcohol, and whose ungovernable legs still insisted upon going all ways but the right one.
But his Arab friends occasionally assisted his progress by prodding him in the back with their long spears, a species of incitement he could well have dispensed with, but which they insisted upon affording.
The poor orphan, too, was, as usual, bowed down with weight of woe.
"Oh, what a cold I am having," he exclaimed, pathetically, feeling for his pocket handkerchief. "It's tumbling into that fountain that did it. Oh, dear, what shall I do? It will be my death, I know it will."
Such was the burden of his lament, which greatly amused the others, especially Bogey and Tinker.
They were now on the edge of the desert some distance outside the walls of the town.
The Arab tents could be faintly descried in the distance.
They had still some distance to walk in order to reach them.
The road, however, was now plain and easy, consisting of the usual flat desert sand.
On nearing this encampment, they were challenged by a Bedouin sentinel, but the chief, stepping forward and explaining, the whole group were of course readily admitted.
The black and white camel-hair tents dotted the plain to a considerable distance, and numerous horses and camels were picketed round.
One of the principal Arabs having conferred with Kara-al-Zariel, he went back to his English guests, saying—
"Christian friends, I will now show you what will cheer your hearts even more than the flesh of lambs, or odour of pure bread. Behold!"
And throwing back the curtains of the tent, he exposed Jack Harkaway, attired as a Turk, peacefully sleeping upon a rude couch.
The astonishment and relief of mind experienced by our friends at this discovery cannot be described.
Their joy at finding Jack safe was equal to their wonder how he had escaped.
But what words will denote the ecstasy of Thyra?
With a cry of delight, she ran towards him, and kneeling beside his couch, poured forth thanksgivings to Heaven for his deliverance.
This caused some jealousy to the noble chief, who now began to perceive how passionately the "Pearl of the Isles," as he called the beautiful Greek, was enamoured of the youthful Briton.
"Stay," he said, as Thyra passionately impressed her lips on the brow of the sleeping youth. "Stay, or you will wake him. The Christian sleeps the slumber of the weary; disturb him not, and his waking will be all the more joyous."
"Thou sayest right," answered Thyra. "If he is happy, sleeping or waking, 'tis not for me to intrude upon his happiness. But I will sit here and watch his slumbers, that I may be the first to greet him when he wakes."
"You mustn't do any thing of the kind, miss!" interposed the waiter. "Girls can't live upon love, though you seem inclined to try at it, and as we've got a nice supper awaiting us at that tent, Mr. Girdwood insists upon your coming to join us."
With some difficulty Thyra was induced to assent, and again left the object of her idolatry sleeping in blissful unconsciousness of her presence.
A short time, however, only elapsed before, either awakened by some outward sound or disturbed by some dream, young Jack started up, much confused and puzzled to find himself in this strange place.
Then he remembered the events of the day.
"Halloa! what's that?"
Could he believe his eyes, or was it possible that, beyond the group of Bedouins sitting feasting around the camp fire, was another group, among which the figures of Harry Girdwood, of Mole, and of Thyra were conspicuous?
It must be a dream.
Jack leapt to his feet, fixed his eyes on the group, and now recognised also Mr. Figgins, the Will-o'-the-Wisp forms of Bogey and Tinker flitting about and waiting on the others.
Now convinced, Jack rushed out of his tent into the larger one.
A perfect storm of welcome greeted him, and mutual surprise and delight were exhibited by all.
Thyra was beside herself with joy.
"Oh, dear Jack," said she, "I thought never to see you more."
"How did you get away from the Turks?" asked Harry Girdwood and two or three of the others in chorus.
Jack told his story, and in turn listened to his companions' adventures, and there were mutual congratulations upon their escape.
Never in all Jack's wanderings was there a happier occasion than this reunion.
THE GREEK GIRL'S FOREBODING—A BATTLE WITH THE TURKS.
Thyra slept little that night.
This could not be because she was unwearied in frame, for the toils, anxieties, and dangers of the day had been sufficient to exhaust far greater strength than hers.
It was not that she had not much cause now for anxiety of mind.
Jack was safe—that to her, was the first consideration, and all his friends, including herself, had been rescued by his cleverness from the more imminent perils that beset them.
But her soul was in a state of great agitation; dark, melancholy thoughts, which would not be chased away, continually oppressed it.
This interfered with the blissful visions, the roseate castles in the air which she was so prone to build, and of which Jack Harkaway ever formed the central figure.
If she could win his love, and accompany him to England—a grand and mysterious region which she had all her life longed to see—Thyra thought the climax of happiness would be reached.
But still she felt a terrible presentiment that, not only would this never be accomplished, but that some dread and imminent fate was hanging over her.
"To-morrow," she murmured, "the hand of destiny will lie heavily upon me; there is a voice within that tells me so."
And this melancholy condition continued throughout the hours of darkness.
She looked out of her tent.
All around her slept.
Even the sentinel had fallen asleep beside the camp fire.
The air was laden with the chill breath of night, but the stars were fading and the first gleams of dawn were breaking through the eastern mists. At such a time the appearance of the vast desert was especially gloomy and depressing.
Thyra turned her gaze in the direction of the town.
What cloud was that coming thence, and advancing along the plain towards the camp?
The Greek girl strained her eyes to penetrate the mist; in this she was assisted by the growing light of the morn.
Presently the cloud shaped itself into recognisable distinctness.
It was a mass of armed men.
The Turks were marching on their track!
Thyra's terror for a moment kept her spellbound.
This onset boded destruction to herself and all her friends; above all, to him she loved best.
Involuntarily she uttered a cry of alarm, which at once aroused the whole of the camp.
The Arabs sprang to their feet, and seized their arms.
In an instant all was commotion.
Kara-al-Zariel heard that beloved voice, and in an instant was at Thyra's side.
"What has alarmed the Pearl of the Isles?" he asked, in the poetic phraseology of his race.
Thyra stood with dishevelled hair, and dilated eyes fixed upon the approaching army, at which she pointed with trembling fingers.
"Look! look!" she exclaimed, "they are coming—the Turks are upon us!"
Kara-al-Zariel followed her gaze.
He saw the cloud; he knew the danger.
"To horse!" he thundered. "To arms! every son of the desert, and every Christian guest!"
Instantly the horses were untethered, and the riders mounted; armed men assembled on foot, and every warrior appeared in readiness.
Jack Harkaway and his friend Harry, by this time familiar as old soldiers with these sudden calls to arms, soon answered the summons; and the rest of their party, on hearing the danger, were not backward in preparing for it.
There were in the encampment a large number of fleet Arab steeds, more than were actually required by the tribe, but the chief, like many of his race, dealt largely in horseflesh.
This was particularly fortunate on the present occasion, for their Christian allies could also be mounted, and if overwhelmingly outnumbered by the enemy, could save themselves by flight.
All the more experienced warriors were now sent to the front, to face the first shock of the coming attack.
Kara-al-Zariel led a beautiful steed to Thyra.
"Mount, sweet maiden," he said; "This steed is one of fleetest. Go, ride on towards the sea, for our enemies are coming fast upon us, and this is no place for thee."
Thyra mounted, but steadfastly refused to flight.
"Thinkest thou, O chief, that I will fly from this danger?" she said scornfully. "Never! I will escape with my best friends, or perish with them."
In vain the emir persuaded her to seek safety at once.
"To perish or to fall again into the hands of the licentious Turks," he said; "remember, rash girl, these two terrible fates menace thee."
"If I am killed," responded Thyra, "it is the will of Heaven; but ere I become a captive to the Turks, the dagger shall end my life."
Her resolution being evidently fixed, the Arab chief ceased to persuade, but resolved, throughout the coming fight, to do all he could to shield her from danger.
On came the enemy's forces.
The light was now sufficient for it to be perceived that they consisted of a large and well-armed body of Turkish cavalry.
They were led, as before, by the captain of the guard, and the truculent vizier Abdullah.
If was through the latter's acuteness that the vaults beneath the castle had been discovered, and conjecturing that the fugitives had escaped thus, he had traced them into the desert.
He, therefore, organized an expedition to set out and surprise them in the camp.
Abdullah's plans were deeply laid.
He wished to capture the Greek girl, that he might curry favour with the Pasha Ibrahim by presenting her to him.
He was resolved to secure and punish Harkaway and the other Christians, to turn away every public suspicion from himself and Ibrahim, as to the late pasha's assassination.
After that, it is exceedingly probable that the unscrupulous interpreter meant in some way to destroy Ibrahim, and set up as pasha himself.
These subtle treacheries are common under the corruptions of Oriental rule.
The vizier intended to take the Arabs by surprise, and he would have succeeded in this, had it not been for Thyra.
Instead, therefore, of finding a sleeping encampment, he found the whole tribe up in arms, and ready to receive him.
Other tactics were therefore necessary, but Abdullah believed that his own superiority in numbers would ensure victory.
As the Turkish regiment approached, they spread themselves out, their object being to surround the force opposed to them.
On came the Turks.
Their sabres flashing and clashing.
The steeds neighing.
The sands of the desert rising up in clouds beneath their thundering tread.
Arrived within a short distance, the two armies halted and surveyed each other.
Then a trumpet sounded to parley, and a messenger rode forward to communicate with the Arab chief.
"To the Emir Kara-al Zariel," said the soldier, "thus saith the great Lord Ibrahim, pasha of Alla-hissar. Whereas, though thou hast been often a rebel against his highness's lawful authority, yet will he pardon thee all past misdeeds on condition that thou shalt give up the Frankish men and the Greek woman, who are accused of the secret murder of his late highness, Moley Pasha. Refuse this, and no mercy will be shown to thee or to thy tribe.
"Tell thy ruler or his officers," thus replied Kara-al Zariel, "that I refuse his proffered pardon; that Ibrahim is an assassin and usurper I despise and defy; that I will never deliver up to his hands those who have sought my hospitality, and that I and my tribe, and my guests, will resist him and his, to the death."
This rebuff was sufficiently conclusive.
There was nothing now but to commence the fight.
Shots came forth from the midst of the mass of Turkish horsemen, and were promptly answered from the muskets of the Arabs.
The battle cry of the Bedouins rang out clear in the morning air.
The first rays of the sun now lit up the plain, piercing the clouds of mist and desert-dust, and gleaming upon the rapidly-moving blades and barrels.
Now shone out the white naiks of the Arabs and the red caps of the Turks.
The Ottoman cavalry pressed with terrible force upon the Bedouins, whose old-fashioned long guns were inadequate to compete with the modern European rifles of their foe.
But on each side, the bullets tore through the ranks and laid low many a gallant warrior.
The fray soon became a fierce and close one.
A fight, hand to hand, muzzle to muzzle, and sword to sword.
One slight advantage was on the side of the Arabs.
They and their horses were quite fresh, while the Turks and their chargers were wearied with a long and difficult march.
Our friends did not forget they were Englishmen, and upheld the honour of their country in the personal bravery they showed upon this occasion.
Jack Harkaway and Harry Girdwood hewed their way right and left among the Turkish horsemen.
They were like mowers among the corn, their sickles sharp, and their harvest heavy.
Soon shone the morning sun brightly upon this scene of strife.
The Turks, from their numbers, could relieve their comrades when they became tired.
The Arabs had no such advantage.
They began to thin terribly.
But still they fought on with unabated vigour, and succeeded in preventing the enemy surrounding their encampment, and enclosing them in.
Kara-al-Zariel was ever in the thickest and most perilous part of the contest, encouraging his men with his presence.
He performed prodigies of valour, and his long hiltless Arab sabre was stained deeply with the blood of his foes.
The diver and the waiter both showed themselves skilful and valorous in fighting, and if Mole and Figgins failed to distinguish themselves so much, and preferred the more modest and retiring rearguard of the army, we must consider the weak nerves of one and the wooden legs of the other.
Bogey and Tinker were in their element, and their African blood spurred them on to deeds of bravery sometimes even approaching barbarity.
Thyra, stationed on horseback in the rear, had in her a spirit of heroism, which of her own will, would have led her to the very front of the battle.
But the entreaties of the chief and of Jack induced her to restrain her valour, and remain in a position of comparative safety from which she could see all that went on, and discharge a pistol when she saw a chance of bringing down a foe.
But by degrees the Arabs ranks were broken.
Their numbers where fearfully diminished, and no efforts of theirs seemed to make any perceptible diminution of that of the enemy.
So the chief resolved upon a retreat.
But ere this could be effected, the Turks succeeded in placing a large contingent in a position to intercept them.
"We must cut through them, or we are lost," exclaimed the chief.
The war-cry of the Arabs was again raised.
They dashed at a portion of the living ring that surrounded them.
They cut their way through the circling mass of steel.
STILL THE BATTLE RAGES.
At that moment Kara-al-Zariel's horse received a mortal wound, and sank beneath the chief.
He fell heavily, and narrowly escaped being trampled to death by his own advancing men.
But procuring another steed, he again led the van.
Jack Harkaway had already had two horses killed under him.
He was disfigured by blood and smoke, and dizzy with weariness and excitement, but he still fought like a lion, for it was for life.
The task of breaking through the Turkish ranks was a terrible one.
Many Arabs fell dead in the desperate attempt.
As fast as the gaps were made in the ranks of the enemy, they were filled up by fresh men.
The horses trampled upon the weary limbs of the wounded.
Into this wild mêlée Jack plunged, closely followed by his friend Harry.
Our hero struck down a gigantic Turk, fired a revolver into the face of another, and gave a cut right and left with his sword.
Taking advantage of the passage thus made, the other Englishmen rapidly followed their leader.
Thyra was led by the waiter and the diver, while Mole and Figgins mutually assisted each other.
It was amid shots falling like hail in every direction, and menaced by killing blows from heavy sabres that the retreat was made.
Thyra performed another act of heroism at this juncture.
A Turkish sergeant, on foot, fired straight at her as she passed.
By the width of scarce an inch, the bullet missed piercing her brain, but she answered it by a shot which sought and found the heart of the Turk, and he fell dead instantaneously.
In this way all the Englishmen got through the ranks of the foe and joined the chief.
The rest of the Arabs followed, but they had a hard task to do so, for the enemy now overwhelmingly outnumbered their reduced force.
But our friends were not to escape even thus easily.
The Turks made fresh and vigorous efforts, not only to prevent their retreat, but to effect their capture.
Seeing the peril they were in, Jack called to Thyra and said—
"My good girl, you have acted with heroic bravery, but our danger is now greater than ever, and you must quit this scene."
"Never, dear Jack, whilst you are imperilled," she firmly replied.
"But you can aid me more that way than by staying," he said. "Listen, yonder is the sea, not more than two miles off. There is an English ship in the bay; its gallant sailors will not fail to assist their countrymen in distress. Go to them at once, your steed is swiftest of all. Ride, ride for your life, dear girl."
Thyra needed no further urging.
"I will bring assistance to you," she cried, "or perish in the attempt."
She turned her steed, and was off in a minute at lightning speed.
On came the Turks, now headed by Abdullah, for his comrade, the captain of the guard, had been desperately wounded.
"We must capture them!" he cried to his men. "Forward, men; death or victory."
Jack and his men saw that resistance was useless against so overwhelming a force.
Flight was the only chance remaining to them.
Yet they could not give in without some attempt to punish their enemy.
Jack levelled his pistol at the vizier's head, but by a dexterous movement he avoided the shot.
"Yield, Christian dogs!" he thundered. "Yield to might and right, for your capture or death is inevitable."
"You do not know us Boys of England," cried Jack. "We may be taken dead, but while a breath of life remains, we will never surrender to black-hearted Turks."
The vizier answered by ordering his men to surround the Christians, which they did their best to accomplish.
But by an agile movement, Jack and his friends suddenly turned and galloped off.
It was not in the direction of the sea, for retreat was at present cut off that way, but across the desert that they fled.
"Forward!" cried Abdullah. "They must not escape us."
For a considerable time this chase continued, till the English, by "doubling" again, changed the direction of their flight, and made towards the sea.
Hope arose within their hearts, for they saw a considerable number of well-armed English sailors, led by Thyra, coming towards them.
A few minutes' galloping joined them with these welcome allies, and this reinforcement enabled Jack again to defy the Turks.
The latter drew rein, and stood for awhile in hesitation.
This unexpected turn of affairs evidently disconcerted them.
But ere their horses could be put in motion again, Jack and his party were upon them, backed by their new allies.
The impetuosity of their charge was for a moment irresistible.
They bore down all the Turks before them.
The Turkish troopers recoiled as from the flight of a rocket.
Jack rode on like a hero of old.
His hair streamed in the wind as he darted through the air on his noble Arab steed.
His eyes flashed fire, and struck awe into each foe that approached him.
But he soon found himself surrounded by his enemies. Abdullah, who was at their head, cast himself upon Jack. Their horses were driven on their haunches by the force of the shock.
Half a dozen sabres at once circled round Jack's head.
Abdullah made a lunge at him with his sword, which would have proved the death of Jack had not Harry Girdwood at that instant caught the thrust upon his arm.
Poor Harry! His devotion to his friend had cost him dear.
He reeled, and would have fallen from his saddle, probably trampled to death, had not Bogey, at the risk of his own life, caught him and led his horse apart from the thick of the battle.
Burning to avenge his friend, Jack struck with all his force at Abdullah's head.
The interpreter received the blow upon his sword, which, proving the stronger of the two, Jack's weapon snapped in the clash, and he was left weaponless.
He seemed, indeed, at the mercy of his pitiless foe.
Abdullah smiled a cruel smile as he again raised his sabre.
But that smile was his last.
A lance-head gleamed past Jack, and transfixed Abdullah through the chest, so that he was borne down among the trampling hoofs of the horses.
"Yah, yah; dat's one to me, Massa Jack," exclaimed Tinker, for he it was who had thus saved Jack's life.
Jack caught up Abdullah's sword, and, by a desperate charge, cut through the opposing Turks, now "demoralised" by the loss of their leader, and regained his Bedouin and English friends.
By this time the heat was very great.
The sky was like a dome of steel.
The sands of the desert burnt under the fierce sun.
The dust flew in clouds, save where the blood of the wounded and dying had soaked into the arid soil.
Taking advantage of the confusion that now reigned in the Turkish force, the English and Arabs made a last desperate effort to escape their foes.
With a yell of defiance, the fierce Bedouins, led by Kara-al-Zariel, dashed through the ranks of the enemy, dealing destruction right and left.
Taking advantage of the disconcerted state of the foe, Jack and his friends were enabled again to join their Arab allies, and the retreat of the whole party towards the shore began in good earnest.
They would soon have distanced their now exhausted foes, but ere the English vessel could be reached, another large body of Turks came up to the attack.
This force was led by no less a personage than the Pasha Ibrahim himself, whose fierce grey eyes glared beneath his shaggy brows at those who had slain his vizier.
Beside him rode the officer in command of his squadron, and another young man, in whom, although dressed in red fez and Turkish uniform, Jack recognised Herbert Murray.
He was attended by his servant Chivey, also dressed as a Turk.
They were all splendidly mounted; their horses fresh, and their troops well-disciplined.
As the two parties approached, the pasha's eyes were fixed upon Thyra.
"It is the Pearl of the Isles," he exclaimed, "who was stolen by these infidels from the harem. She shall yet be mine. One thousand piastres to the man who will capture her."
A dozen of his men instantly started in pursuit of Thyra, who was a little in advance of her companions.
Her beautiful Arab steed seemed to have taken a sudden fright, for it started off at lightning speed, independent of Thyra's attempts to turn him, for she wished to die or escape by the side of her companions.
Separated from them, and pursued by a dozen well-armed men, her position was indeed perilous.
The speed of her horse seemed her only chance.
But the noble creature had been very hard worked that day, and after the first "spurt," showed signs of exhaustion.
The Turks, upon their fresh and fleet steeds, began to gain upon her every minute.
At length she was at bay, resolved to die defending herself and defying her enemies.
She placed her lance in rest as the foremost Turk came up.
Despite his efforts to avoid the weapon, she thrust it through his shoulder.
He fell, desperately, if not mortally wounded, and full of rage at being defeated by a woman.
His nearest companion now faced the beautiful amazon, who rapidly drew her revolver—the one Jack had given her—and fired.
The ball took effect, for the Turk reeled in his saddle and fell to the ground, dead.
The others now approached.
But Thyra discharged one, two, three shots from her revolver, and the last killed the officer's horse, which staggered and fell, bringing the rider to the ground.
Thyra urged her steed again towards the sea.
Herbert Murray and Chivey now pressed forward, resolved to try and gain the pasha's reward and the glory of achieving her capture.
Away went Thyra on her gallant steed.
She was near the sea now.
The murmur of its waves upon the sands resounded in her ears.
The British cruiser was seen about a mile away in the offing, and on the shore stood about half a dozen sailors, taking charge of the boats in which the armed force had come ashore.
They were anxiously watching for their companions to return, and on perceiving Thyra's peril, two of them went to her assistance.
And they arrived not a moment too soon.
Herbert Murray had ridden up to her.
Grasping the bridle of her steed, he thought he had effected her capture.
But at this moment a voice beside him cried out in English—
"Hands off there, you lubber!"
This showed that Thyra's call for help had been heard and responded to.
Murray turned, and saw the two stalwart British tars standing beside Thyra.
"Look here," continued the sailor, "if you don't leave this here young lady alone, and be off instanter, we'll take you aboard and let our captain deal with you."
Herbert Murray looked around, and seeing that the sailors were in a position to carry out their threat, angrily relinquished the chase, and turning his horse, rode off with Chivey, who had not approached quite so near.
END OF THE CONTEST—DEATH OF THYRA.
Thyra was securely protected by these gallant tars until the rest of the party came up, which was not long, for after a slight skirmish, Jack and his friends managed to cut through the new force of opposing Turks, and make their way towards the ship.
Ibrahim Pasha, enraged at being thus defied, still pressed on, followed by all his force, but they only arrived at the shore in time to see Jack and the others embarking in the boats.
He now had recourse to threats.
"In the name of His Imperial Majesty the Sultan," he said to the officer in command, "I command you to give up to me these Englishmen, who have escaped from justice."
"They are British subjects," returned the officer, "who have sought the protection of their flag."
"Shall British subjects commit crime and yet go free?" inquired Ibrahim.
"What crime have they committed?" asked the officer.
"Murder—the assassination of his highness, Moley Pasha."
"What evidence have you to show to connect them with his death?" asked the officer. "If you have but sufficient evidence, they shall be tried before a proper tribunal. Where the English flag floats, justice shall be done to all."
The pasha bit his lip.
He knew that his evidence against these Englishmen was very slight, being in fact only the assertion of Murray and Chivey, and that any mistake on his part would bring on political trouble that might be his ruin, so he began to draw in.
"At least," he said, "you can not refuse to give me back my own property, stolen from my palace."
"That's a reasonable request enough," answered the lieutenant. "Point out your property, and you shall have it."
"There it is," exclaimed Ibrahim, as he pointed to Thyra.
"That your property, eh?" said the astonished officer. "Well, a very nice property too. But how was she stolen?"
"Stolen from my harem by that son of Eblis!" cried the old pasha, pointing to Jack.
"Ah, young man, I see how it is," said the officer, gravely shaking his head; "you've been going it rather too fast, and brought on this trouble all on account of this Greek girl."
"It's a lie," cried Jack, looking fiercely at the pasha; "she never was stolen, and never did belong to that old coffee-coloured villain, and what's more, never shall, if Britons can protect her. She fled of her own accord from the palace of Moley Pasha, before he arrived, and sought protection from me and my friends in the town."
"In that case," said the officer, "we cannot give her up, for the British government does not recognise slavery, domestic or otherwise. Under our flag she is free."
A cheer of defiance from the group of English sailors greeted this speech.
"By the soul of the prophet," fiercely exclaimed the pasha, "am I to be defied by a boy, and an infidel—a son of Sheitan, to boot?"
"Boy as I am, I defy you," retorted Jack.
This was a bold, but foolish and incautious speech, destined to be disastrous.
The pasha, goaded to madness by Jack's words and defiant manner, drew his pistol and discharged it pointblank at our hero.
The action was a rapid one—so rapid as to take Jack unawares, but not so rapid as the love-quickened perceptions of Thyra.
She saw the pasha's movement, and throwing herself forward, seized Jack just in time to draw him aside.
By so doing, she saved his life, but at the expense of her own.
The bullet lodged in her breast, and with a cry she fell wounded into Jack's arms.
The disaster had come so quickly that our hero scarcely comprehended what had happened.
The pasha frowned darkly when he saw Thyra fall.
Some remorse was awakened, even in his iron heart.
He had intended to take a life, but not hers, and now indeed the Pearl of the Isles was lost to him for evermore.
"'Tis you now, pasha, who have committed crime," said the lieutenant, "and for this I call you to account. Surrender to answer for this deed."
"Surrender to Christian dogs! Never," answered the fierce Ibrahim.
"Then, men, fire upon these Turks," said the officer.
The rifles of the sailors were accordingly brought to cover upon the pasha's force.
Ibrahim immediately recognised a fresh and imminent danger, and resolved on a retreat.
Turning his horse, he gave the signal to his followers, and the whole body marched off rapidly, pursued by the fire of the English.
During this parley, Kara-al-Zariel and his Arabs had taken advantage of the preoccupation of their foes, to withdraw to the range of rugged rocks near the shore, which would at once shelter them from the attacks of the Turks and give them the advantage of being near their English allies in the ship.
But the pasha, now that the main objects of his expedition had escaped him, did not make any further attempts to pursue the Bedouins.
He and the remnant of his forces made the best of their way across the desert to the town.
And now all attention was drawn towards Thyra.
All perceived, with the deepest regret, that her hours were numbered.
She had been that day in the thick of more than one deadly conflict.
Hundreds of bullets had passed her, but this one, aimed at another, had only too successfully performed an errand of death.
Terrible indeed was the grief of Jack Harkaway.
"Oh, Thyra," he exclaimed, "my brave, dear girl, he has killed you."
"I know it," she replied, with a mournful resignation, "but thank Heaven you, dear Jack, are saved."
"I have not deserved this devotion from you," said Jack, in broken accents, while the tears fell from his eyes, "but you must not—shall not die thus. Can nothing be done for her?" he asked, looking round at the others.
"I fear not," replied the lieutenant, "but she must at once be taken on board, and placed under the care of the surgeon."
Thyra had been lifted up and her wound staunched with her scarf.
"Here, Harry," said our hero, rousing himself from his grief, "help me to carry her to the boat."
But ere his friend could fulfil his request, a tall, wild form interposed between them, a brown, sinewy hand convulsively clutched Jack's arm to draw him away.
"No hand but mine," cried a voice broken by intense grief, "shall bear the Pearl of the Isles to yonder boat."
It was the Arab chief, Al-Zariel, his face haggard with grief, his dark eyes gazing mournfully at the pale but beautiful face of her he loved.
He raised her tenderly, this wild warrior of the desert—tenderly as a child, and disdained all aid, and bore her in his strong arms to the boat.
The others drew back; no one at that moment had the heart to say him nay.
Even the rough sailors, and the still rougher Arabs, were touched by the mournful scene before them.
It was indeed a solemn procession to the boats, almost a funeral cortége, for they bore one, who, though not yet dead, would never see another day's sun arise.
Kara-al-Zariel gently deposited the dying girl in the boat.
"I have known her but a day," murmured the Arab chief, "and during that day she has shone upon my path like a gleam of sunshine from the gates of Paradise. From the first instant I saw her I loved her as I have loved no other, and as I shall love no other to my life's end."
He stooped and imprinted a passionate kiss upon that marble brow, pressing as he did so the lifeless hand, gazing into the fast-fixing eyes, and murmuring "Farewell" in his native tongue.
She understood him, and with a smile of gratitude, answered him in the same language.
The boat put off.
Kara-al-Zariel, standing on the sands, watched it for some moments, and then, as if unable longer to bear the sight, turned away, knelt upon the beach, and covered his eyes with his hands.
It was not grief alone that made him kneel beneath the open vault of Heaven.
In that terrible moment he registered to Heaven a vow of vengeance against the pasha who had slain the Pearl of the Isles.
The sturdy tars bent to their oars, and the boat left the murmuring waters of the sunlit Mediterranean.
Arriving on the ship, Thyra was placed with all care and tenderness upon deck.
The doctor examined the wound, and shook his head gravely.
"I can do nothing here!" he said, in subdued tones.
None answered him; only they saw too plainly that his words were final.
Poor Jack Harkaway! If ever in his young life he had felt grief, it was now, when he saw one who had so hopelessly loved him, dying through that very love.
"I am not afraid to die," said Thyra, in her low, faint voice, "and to die in this way is the best of all; for my future life might have made both you and myself unhappy."
"Unhappy! How could that be, Thyra?" asked Jack, as he knelt beside her, his hand clasped in hers, her dying eyes looking upwards into his face.
"Because your love is given to another," she sighed, "and, therefore, mine is hopeless; but oh, may that other—whoever she may be—be now and ever happy in your love."
"You have died for my sake!" he said, "and can you think I can feel any thing but the deepest gratitude, the most tender feelings, towards you? No, dear Thyra, I love you now, if I have not before."
"To hear that from your lips," she murmured, "is to die happy. All I ask now, is that you will always remember the little Greek girl who loved you, and—and who was unhappy in her life, and happy in her death."
"Remember you!" said Jack, "remember you, my noble Thyra! after what you have done? Always! always! Do not pain me by fearing that I may forget you."
"Then I am happy still; listen. Here are a chain and a cross of gold; keep them in remembrance of me, and when I am dead, have me conveyed, if it is possible, to the land of my birth, the beautiful island of Naxos, where my parents still live. Bury me there."
Jack promised this, and the old captain of the ship declared that he would have her last request fulfilled.
Thyra's strength was now almost exhausted, but, with a last effort, she raised herself from Jack's supporting arms, and addressed those around her.
"Friends," she said, "I give you many, many thanks for what you have done for me, in protecting me and aiding my escape. I can but give you thanks and my farewell. Farewell!" she added, "to the bright blue sky, the golden sea, and the beautiful green island where I was born and where I hope to rest when I am no more."
Here her voice died into a murmur, and the rest was inaudible to all but Jack.
Jack stooped as the Arab chief had done, and impressed a fervent kiss upon the fair young face, still bent lovingly towards him. At that moment he felt an electric thrill convulse her frame, followed by a complete stillness. In that last fond embrace her spirit had fled.
Thyra's troubles were over.
Two days afterwards the ship, whose captain had undertaken to convey Jack and his friends from those turbulent shores, touched at the Greek island of Naxos. There Thyra's parents were found, and the sad news of their child's death communicated to them.
She was buried in the little cemetery close to the shore, and amid groves of cypress and gardens of flowers, where sweet birds sing and sea breezes softly murmur, lies the beautiful Greek girl who loved and died for young Jack Harkaway.
And all hearts were heavy with grief when, after the funeral, they hoisted sail, and steered in a westerly direction.
MARSEILLES—MR. MOLE AS A LINGUIST—AN UGLY CUSTOMER AND HIS ENGLISH CONFEDERATE—A COMPACT OF MYSTERY—MR. MARKBY PLAYS A VERY DEEP GAME—THE SHADOW OF DANGER.
Our friends had been some days at sea.
The weather was fair, and their progress was for a time slow.
At length one day there was a cry—
"Which?" said our hero, who was anxious for any thing that would make him forget his great sorrow for Thyra.
"I remarked 'Land ho!' Jack," said Mr. Mole, for he it was who first detected it.
"And I observed 'Which?' sir," said Jack.
"And why that unmeaning interrogation?" demanded Mr. Mole.
"Your speech is an anomaly, Mr. Mole," responded Jack, mimicking the voice of his tutor in his happiest manner.
"You say my question is unmeaning, and yet you ask an explanation of it. If there is no meaning in it, how can I explain it?"
"Ahem!" coughed Mr. Mole. "No matter. You are too much given to useless arguments, Jack. I believe you would argue with the doctor attending you on your deathbed—yea, with the undertaker himself who had to bury you."
"That's piling it on, sir," said Jack, in a half-reflective mood. "I dare say I should have a shy at the doctor if he tried to prove something too idiotic, but we must draw the line at the doctor. I couldn't argue with the undertaker at my own funeral, but I'll tell you what, Mr. Mole, no doubt I shall argue with him if he puts it on too stiff in his bill when we put you away."
"Jack!" exclaimed Mr. Mole, inexpressibly shocked.
"A plain deal coffin," pursued Jack, apparently lost in deep calculation; "an economical coffin, only half the length of an ordinary coffin, because you could unscrew your legs, and leave them to someone."
"That is very unfeeling to talk of my funeral, dreadful!"
"You are only joking there, I know, sir," returned Jack, "because you were talking of mine."
"Ahem!" said Mole, "do you see how near we are to land?"
"Quite so, quite so."
"Go and ask the captain the name of this port."
It proved to be Marseilles, and the captain knew it, as he had been sailing for it, and, moreover, they were very quickly ashore.
Mr. Mole was especially eager to air his French.
"You speak the language?" asked Jack.
Mr. Mole smiled superciliously at the question.
"Like a native, my dear boy, like a native," he replied.
"That's a good thing," said Jack, tipping the wink to Harry Girdwood; "for you can interpret all round."
France was then going through one of its periodical upsets, and a good deal of unnecessary bother was made along the coast upon the landing of passengers.
Passports were partly dispensed with, but questions were put by fierce officials as to your name and nationality, which all led up to nothing, for they accepted your reply implicitly as truth, and while it inconvenienced the general public, the Royalist, Republican, Orleanist, or whoever might chance to be of the revolutionary party for the time being, could chuckle as he told his fibs and passed on to the forbidden land.
M. le Commissaire confronted Mr. Mole, and barred his passage to interrogate him.
"Pardon, m'sieur, veuillez bien me dire votre nom?"
"What's that?" said Mole.
"Votre nom, s'il vous plait," repeated the commissaire.
"Really, I haven't the pleasure of your acquaintance."
"Sapristi!" ejaculated the commissaire, to one of his subordinates. "Quel type!"
"Now, Mr. Mole," said Jack, who was close behind the old gentleman, "why don't you speak up?"
"I don't quite follow him."
"He's only asking a question, you know. You polly-voo like a native."
"Yes; precisely, Jack. But I don't follow his accent. He's some peasant, I suppose."
"Votre nom!" demanded the official, rather fiercely this time.
"Now, then, Mr. Mole," cried a voice in the rear, "you're stopping everyone. Get it out and move on."
"Dear, dear me!" said Mole. "What does it mean?"
"He's asking your name," said Jack, "and you can't understand it."
"I'll tell him for you, as you don't seem to know a word," said Jack. "Il s'appelle Ikey Mole," he added to the commissaire.
"Aîké Moll," repeated the commissaire. "Il est Arabe?"
"Oui, monsieur. C'est un des lieutenants du grand Abd-el-Kader."
"Vraiment!" exclaimed the commissaire, in a tone of mingled surprise and respect. "Passez, M'sieur Aîké Moll."
 "He calls himself Ikey Mole," says Jack to the commissaire de police.
"Aîké Moll!" repeats the commissaire, pronouncing the incongruous sounds as nearly as he can. "Why, he must be an Arab."
To which Jack, with all his ready impudence, replies—
"Yes, sir, he is an Arab. He was one of Abd-el-Kader's lieutenants."
We need scarcely remind our readers that Abd-el-Kader was the doughty Arab chief who made so heroic a resistance to the French in Algiers.
This satisfied the commissaire, who respectfully bade Mole pass on.
They went on, and Mole anxiously questioned Jack.
"I'm getting quite deaf," said he, by way of a pretext for not having understood the conversation. "Whatever were you saying?"
"I told him your name was Isaac Mole, sir," returned Jack.
"You said Ikey Mole, sir," retorted Mole, "and that is a very great liberty, sir."
"Not at all. Iké is the French for Isaac," responded the unblushing Jack.
"But what was all that they were saying about Arab?"
"Arab!" repeated Jack, in seeming astonishment.
"Didn't hear it myself."
"I certainly thought I caught the word Arab," said Mr. Mole, giving Jack a very suspicious glance.
"You never made a greater mistake, sir, in your life."
"How very odd."
The Cannebière is the chief promenade in Marseilles, and the inhabitants of this important seaport are not a little proud of it.
Two men sat smoking cigarettes and sipping lazily at their grog au vin at the door of one of then numerous cafés in the Cannebière.
To these two men we invite the reader's attention.
One was a swarthy-looking Frenchman from the south, a man of a decent exterior, but with a fierce and restless glance.
He was the sort of man whom you would sooner have as a friend than as an enemy.
A steadfast friend—an implacable foe!
That was what you read in his peculiar physiognomy, in that odd mixture of defiance and fearlessness, those anxious glances, frankness and deceit, the varied expressions of which passed in rapid succession across his countenance.
This man called himself Pierre Lenoir, although he was known in other ports by other names.
Pierre Lenoir was a sort of Jack of all trades.
He had been apprenticed to an engraver, and had shown remarkable aptitude for that profession, but, being of a roving and restless disposition, he ran away from his employer to ship on board a merchant vessel.
After a cruise or two he was wrecked, and narrowly escaped with his life.
Tired of the sea, for awhile he obtained employment with a medallist, where his skill as an engraver stood him in good stead.
From this occupation he fled as soon as his ready adaptability had made him a useful hand to his new master, and took to a roving life again. What he was now doing in Marseilles no one could positively assert.
How it was that Pierre Lenoir had such an abundant supply of ready money, the progress of our narrative will show—for with it are connected several of not the least exciting episodes in the career of young Jack Harkaway.
So much for Pierre Lenoir.
Now for his companion at the café.
He was called Markby, and, as his name indicates, he was an Englishman.
Being but a poor French scholar, he had scraped up an acquaintance with Pierre Lenoir, chiefly on account of the latter's proficiency in the English language.
There is little to be said concerning Markby's past history, for reasons which will presently be apparent.
What further reason he may have had for cultivating the friendship of the rover, Pierre Lenoir, will probably show itself in due course.
"I have disposed of that last batch of five-franc pieces," said Markby. "Here are the proceeds."
"Keep it back," exclaimed Lenoir hurriedly.
"It is sheer madness for us to be seen conversing together," replied Lenoir, casting an anxious glance about him from behind his hat, which he held in his hand so as to shield his features, "much less to be seen exchanging money—why, it is suicidal—nothing less."
"Is there any danger, do you think?"
"Do I think? Do I know? Why, this place is literally alive with spies—mouchards as we called them here. Every second man you meet is a mouchard."
"Do you mean it?"
"That's not a pleasant thing to know," said Markby.
"I don't agree with you there," replied Lenoir. "'Forewarned, forearmed,' is a proverb in your language. But now tell me about this friend and countryman of yours."
"He's no friend of mine," returned Markby. "I know him as a great traveller, and one who has opportunities of placing more false——"
"Hush, imprudent!" interrupted Lenoir. "Call it stock. You know not how many French spies may be passing, or how near we may be to danger."
Markby took the hint given him, and continued—
"Well, stock. He can place more—he has probably placed more than any man alive. He travels about en grand seigneur—lords it in high places and disposes of the counterf——"
"Stock, in regular loads. But he's as wary as a fox—nothing can approach him in cunning."
"The very man I want," exclaimed Lenoir. "This fellow could, with my aid, make a fortune for himself and me in less than a year—a large fortune."
"You are very sanguine," said Markby, with a smile.
"I am, but not over sanguine. I speak by the book, for I know well what I am talking of. You must introduce me."
"You are running on wildly," said Markby. "Did I not tell you that he did not know me—that he would not know me if he did? So careful is he that his own brother would fail to draw any thing from him concerning the way in which he gets his living."
"Dame!" muttered Lenoir, "he seems a precious difficult fellow to approach."
"Yes, on that subject," responded Markby; "but he's genial and agreeable enough if you introduce yourself by accident, as it were, and chat upon social topics generally, without the vaguest reference to the subject nearest your heart."
"How shall I ever lead him up to the point?"
"Easily. For instance, talk about art matters. Allude to your gallery of sculpture. Ask him, is he fond of bas reliefs? Tell him of your skill as a medallist."
"Medallist might put him on the scent, if he is so dreadfully wary," said Lenoir.
"No fear. He would never dream of such a thing. Medalling being a sort of sister art to what most interests him, he would be sure to bite at the chance. You lead him to your little underground snuggery, and once there all need for his wonderful caution will be at an end."
"I see," said Lenoir, rubbing his hands. "But stay"—and here his face grew a bit serious—"this fellow is faithful?"
"True as steel," responded Markby.
"That's right," said Lenoir, with a look that caused a twinge of uneasiness to be felt by his companion, "for woe betide the man that plays me false."
"No fear of this man—man, I call him, but he is in appearance at least little more than a lad, although he was travelled all over the world."
Here Markby arose to move away.
"Stop a bit," said Lenoir. "I have forgotten to ask rather an important detail."
"What is it?"
"The name of this fellow?"
"Jack Harkaway," was the reply.
MARKBY'S MISSIVE—ON THE WATCH!—"SMART FELLOW, MARKBY!"—MARKBY'S MYRMIDON—THE SPY'S MISSION.
The Englishman Markby was gone before Pierre Lenoir could question him further.
"Jack Harkaway?" exclaimed Lenoir; "I have heard that name before. Of course; I remember now. But Markby speaks of him as a lad. Why, the Harkaway that I remember must be a middle-aged man by now; besides, what little I knew of Harkaway then would not show him to be a likely man for my purpose."
Not long after this, as Lenoir was upon the point of rising and leaving the café, a commissionaire or public messenger came up at a run with a note in his hand.
He took the note and found it to contain the following words, scribbled boldly by Markby—
"They are now coming along in your direction. You will easily recognise them—two youths in sailor dress. Follow them, and if they stay at any of the cafés, I leave you to scrape up an acquaintance with them.—M."
"Markby has been upon the qui vive," said Lenoir to himself. "Smart fellow, Markby!"
Glancing to the left, he saw the two young sailors approaching: so Pierre Lenoir made up his mind at once.
He stepped into the house, intending to let them pass and then follow them, and, if by chance they should, on their way, stop at either of the cafés, he could drop in and seek the opportunity he so much desired.
But while he was waiting the young sailors came up, and, instead of passing the café they dropped into chairs at the door and called for refreshments.
This was more than Lenoir had bargained for.
However, it was no use wasting time.
He desired to profit by the opportunity, and so out he came and sat at the next table to the two young Englishmen.
"What's your opinion of Marseilles, Jack?"
"Nothing to see once you're out of sight of the sea, and the natives are not very interesting. They only appear to be full of conceit about their town without the least reason for it. I should like to know if there is really any thing in Marseilles to warrant the faintest belief in the place."
This was Pierre Lenoir's opportunity.
He stepped forward.
"Excuse me, gentlemen," said he. "Englishmen, I presume?"
"Yes, sir," responded Jack; "are you English?"
"I haven't that honour," replied Pierre Lenoir.
"You speak good English. You have resided in England, I suppose, for a long while?"
"No, only a short time. Long enough to get a desire to go back there."
"That's very kind of you to say so. Your countrymen, as a rule, don't speak in such flattering terms of la perfide Albion."
"And yet they are glad enough to find a refuge there."
"Are you a native of Marseilles?" asked Harry.
"Then you are not offended at our remarks?"
"Not a bit," replied Lenoir heartily. "The Marseillais are absurdly conceited about their town, and after all it contains but few objects of interest for a traveller."
"There are some, however, and if you will accept my escort, I shall be very happy to show you them."
They expressed their thanks at this courteous offer which, on a very little pressing, they were glad to accept.
"Thanks; we will go and tell a friend, who is waiting for us down by the quay, that he must not expect us for an hour or so."
Markby must have been pretty keenly upon the lookout, for no sooner were they gone than back he came.
"Well, what success?"
"Just as I wished," returned Lenoir, with a great chuckle; "they are coming back directly."
"That's your chance; you have only to take them up to your place. Once there, you will do as you please with them."
"There is no danger?"
"What can there be!"
"Only this—suppose that you were mistaken?"
Markby was visibly offended at this.
"If you think that likely after all I have told you, take my advice and have nothing whatever to do with them. I don't want to expose you to any risk that you think you ought not to run."
Lenoir appeared to waver momentarily.
Markby eyed him anxiously for awhile, until Lenoir, with an air of resolution, exclaimed—
"Hang the risk. I'll go for it neck or nothing."
"And you will take them there to-night."
"Good! You'll have no cause to repent your decision. They'll do you a turn that you little contemplate."
"Right! Now off with you."
And away he went.
"What a strange fellow that Markby is," thought Pierre Lenoir, looking after him. "What an odd laugh he has."
Alas! Pierre Lenoir had good reason to bear that laugh in mind.
But we must not anticipate.
As soon as Markby was fairly out of sight, he beckoned over to a young man in white blouse and a cap, who had walked along on the opposite side of the way, keeping Markby in view all the while without appearing to notice him.
The fellow in the blouse ran across at once.
"Well, how's it going?"
"Beautiful," returned Markby, "nothing could be better. Already have Harkaway and his hard-knuckled companion, Girdwood, been seen in Lenoir's society. But before the day is over they will be seen in the Caveaux themselves, where proofs of their guilt will spring up hydra-headed from the very ground."
"And what will it end in?" asked the other, eagerly.
"The galleys," returned Markby, with fierce intensity.
"Beautiful!" exclaimed the man in the blouse, with unfeigned admiration. "You always must have been a precious sight downier than I thought. Why, your old man was no fool. He made a brown or two floating his coffins, but he was a guileless pup compared to you."
"You keep watch," said Markby, hurriedly; "and be ready for any emergency. It is a bold stroke we are playing for. Lenoir is a desperate ruffian, and the least mistake in the business would be something which I for one don't care to contemplate."
"Lenoir be blowed," replied the man in the blouse; "the only people I care about if we should go and make a mess of the job is, firstly—Jack Harkaway, and secondly, his pal Harry Girdwood, which a harder fist than his I have seldom received on my unlucky snuffer-tray."
And he was gone.
MARKBY'S NEXT STEP—THE PREFECT OF POLICE—THE PLOT THICKENS—A GLIMPSE OF MARKBY'S PURPOSE—A DOUBLE TRAITOR—DEADLY PERIL.
Markby went off muttering to himself.
"Wish that scamp could only share the fate I have reserved for that accursed Harkaway. However, I can't manage that, so I must be thankful for small mercies."
A short walk brought this Markby to the office of the prefect of police, and his business being of considerable importance, he was fortunate in soon obtaining an interview with that great man himself.
"This is an excellent opportunity," said the head of the police, "if your information is thoroughly reliable, although I confess that it almost sounds too good to be true."
"Pardon me, monsieur," said Markby, "the expression you use sounds as though I had got information second-hand; I am a principal. On the 10th, you will please to remember. I have to be of the party."
"It is a very important matter," said the prefect, "that I will not attempt to disguise from you. This Lenoir is evidently at the head of a gigantic conspiracy. We have been long seeking to discover how he disposed of his counter——"
"Stock," said Markby, interrupting the prefect, with a smile. "He is the quintessence of caution, sir, and he never alludes to it by any other term."
"You really think that these English people are their confidants?"
"The chief confederates; yes. They are the heads of the English part of our scheme."
"How many men should you require?" demanded the prefect, changing the subject abruptly.
"A dozen fully armed, in plain clothes. These can descend into the caveaux to make the capture."
"You don't know Lenoir," said Markby; "he's the very devil when he's aroused. A dozen will have all their work to do. As for the two Englishmen——"
"They are young," exclaimed the prefect.
"They are young fiends. I have seen them fight like devils. They are just as dangerous as Lenoir. They are an cunning as the evil one himself, and will gammon even you, by their plausible tales."
"Let me see," said the prefect, thoughtfully. "I will take note of the names which you tell me they are likely to assume."
"One has been calling himself Jack Harkaway."
"And the other?"
"Good—and you can prove that both the persons whose names are assumed are in Turkey?"
"Very good," said the prefect, rising, to intimate that the intercourse was over. "Our men shall be there in force for the capture."
THE HARKAWAY'S GUIDE—LENOIR'S MUSEUM—THE CAVEAUX, AND WHAT THEY SAW THERE—THE MEDALS—THE TRUTH AT LAST—A COINER'S TRADE—AN ALARM—A DESPERATE FELLOW.
"Here we are again, sir," said Harry Girdwood, stepping up to Pierre Lenoir; "but I fear we are taking a great liberty in asking you to cicerone such a large party as we muster here."
It was not a free, frank smile.
To tell the truth, he was a bit annoyed, for besides the two youths there was Mole, and the attendant darkeys with them, Tinker and Bogey.
Lenoir was a cautious man, and he did not care to run risks.
"Are they friends and confidants of yours?" he asked, rather pointedly.
It was an odd speech to make, but as he smiled slightly, they took it for a sort of joke.
"Oh, yes, they are confidential friends," returned Harry Girdwood, smiling.
"Very good, let us begin our look round. We will walk along the quays if you like, and thence past the Hôtel de Ville. I shall show you several objects of undoubted interest," said Lenoir, significantly.
He led the way on.
Jack fell back a few paces, walking on with Harry Girdwood.
"He's a very odd fellow," whispered the latter.
Lenoir led them over the town before he ventured to approach the Caveaux.
"I have a little museum not far away," he said.
"I am afraid we shall be intruding," began Jack.
"Not a bit," protested Lenoir.
The snuggery in question was situated at some little distance from the town, and away from the main road.
The cottage was only a one-story building.
"His museum is not very extensive," whispered Harry Girdwood to his companion, "if it is that cottage."
Lenoir was remarkably quick-eared.
"My museum is cunningly arranged," he said to Jack, looking over his shoulder as he walked on; "you don't get all over it at once. Here we are."
They had reached the threshold, and opening the door, he led the way in.
It was a neat little cottage interior, with nothing about it to attract attention.
Passing through the first room, Lenoir conducted them to a sort of out-house beyond.
Here they came upon the first surprise.
He opened a door which apparently shut in a cupboard, and this, to their intense astonishment, revealed a flight of stone steps which seemingly led into the very bowels of the earth.
"Hallo!" exclaimed Jack; "why, what's this?"
"I thought I should astonish you, now," said Lenoir, with his same calm smile.
"What is this place?"
"There is a whole series of caves below these, apparently natural formations. The only way I can account for them myself is that at some time or other some experimental mining operations have gone on there. Would you like to go down and see the place?"
"With pleasure," returned Jack, eagerly.
"Allow me to lead the way."
When they had descended a few steps, Jack half repented.
This man was a stranger to them, and he had brought them to a very wild and out-of-the-way place.
Had he any evil purpose in bringing them there?
Jack stood wavering for a few seconds—no more.
"We are four," he said to himself, "four without counting Mr. Mole; they must be a pretty tough lot to frighten us much, after all said and done."
So saying down he went.
The others followed close behind him.
At the base of the flight of steps they found themselves in a spacious vault that was unpleasantly dark.
"Allow me to lead the way now," said Lenoir, passing on. "Follow me closely; there is no fear of stumbling, there is nothing in the way."
So saying, he conducted them through this opening, which, by the way, was so low that they had to stoop in passing under, and found themselves now in a narrow cave, which reminded young Jack forcibly of the dungeon and its approach of Sir Walter Raleigh, in the Tower of London.
"What do you think of this place?" demanded the guide.
"A very curious sight," was the reply. "You put all this space to no use?"
"Pardon me," said Lenoir; "I practise my favorite hobby here."
"Yes—or rather in the next cellar beyond."
"And what may be that favourite hobby?"
"Medalling," was Lenoir's reply.
And again he shot at his questioners one of those peculiar glances which had so astonished them before.
"I should like to see some of your work," said Jack.
"I thought you would," said Lenoir, with a quiet chuckle.
Lenoir led the way into the next cellar or cavern, and here they came suddenly upon a complete change of scene.
Here they saw a furnace, with melting pots, bars of metal, moulds, files, batteries, and all the necessary accessories for the manufacture of medals.
Upon a flat stone slab was a pile of medals, all of the same pattern precisely.
"Just examine those, Mr. Harkaway," said Pierre Lenoir, "and tell me what you think them."
Jack put his finger through the glittering heap, and they fell to the table with a bright clear ring that considerably astonished him.
"Why, they are silver!"
"Very good, aren't they?"
Jack here made a discovery, upon examining them more closely.
"They are five-franc pieces!" he said, with a puzzled expression.
"Of course they are—and beauties they are too!"
"There's not much risk in getting rid of those, I should say?"
"Risk!" iterated Harry Girdwood.
"I mean that no one could detect the difference very easily. Why, they deceived you," he added, turning to Jack, with an air of conscious pride.
"Upon my life, I don't understand what you mean," said Jack.
Lenoir looked serious for a moment.
Then he burst out into a boisterous fit of merriment.
"You are really over-cautious, young gentleman," he said.
"Why, yes—why, yes. Wherefore this reserve? Why should you pretend not to understand? Don't you see," he added, with a cunning leer, "that I can make these medals as perfectly as they can at the Hôtel de la Monnaie, our French Mint?"
"So I see," said Jack.
A faint light began to dawn upon Harry Girdwood—not too soon, the reader will say.
"It is rather a dangerous pastime, Mr. Lenoir, this medalling fancy of yours," he said.
"No," said Lenoir, pointedly, "the danger is not there; the danger of this pastime, as you call it, is in disposing of my beautiful medals."
"Dear me, sir," said Mr. Mole. "Do you sell them?"
"The five-franc pieces two francs and a half," replied Lenoir, "and so on throughout until we get up to the louis, the twenty-franc pieces; those I can do for seven francs. You can pass them without risk."
This told all.
Jack and his friends were astounded.
"Are you making us overtures to join you in passing bad money?" demanded young Jack.
"Not bad money," returned Lenoir, "very good money—all my own make."
"It is very evident that you do not know us," said Harry Girdwood, "and so are considerably mistaken. Why you have brought us here and placed yourself in our power, it is utterly beyond me to understand."
"The position is most embarrassing," said Jack. "To do our duty would be to repay by great ingratitude your kindness in guiding us about the town, for we ought to denounce you to the police authorities."
This speech partook of the nature of a threat and Pierre Lenoir was up in an instant.
"The worst day's work of your life would be that," he said, fiercely. "No man plays traitor to Pierre Lenoir a second time."
"Traitor is a wrong term," said Jack; "we are not sworn to share such confidences as yours. We shall leave you now, but——"
They were moving towards the entrance when Lenoir sprang before them, and whipped out a brace of revolvers.
The position grew exciting and unpleasant.
"Stand out of the way, and let us pass," exclaimed Jack, impetuously.
"Don't come any nearer," said Lenoir, with quiet determination, "for I warn you that it would be dangerous. You can't move from this place until you have made terms with me."
"I for one will have nothing whatever to say to you," said Jack, haughtily. "I don't care to bargain with a coiner."
With his old foolhardy way he was stepping forward, in peril of his very life.
Lenoir was a desperate man, in a desperate strait.
His finger trembled upon the trigger.
"Stand back, on your life."
"You stand aside," cried Jack.
"Another step and I fire!" cried Lenoir.
Jack pushed on.
Lenoir pulled the trigger.
Bang it went.
But the ball whistled harmlessly over Jack's head, and lodged in the slanting roof.
A friendly hand from behind the coiner had knocked up his arm in the very nick of time.
At the self-same instant some eight or ten men, fully armed, burst into the vault.
One of them, who was apparently in command, pointed to Lenoir, and said to the others—
"Arrest that man. He's the leader of them."
And before the coiner could offer any resistance, they knocked his weapons from his hands, and fell upon him.
But Lenoir was a powerful fellow—a desperate, determined man, and not so easily disposed of.
With wonderful energy, he tore himself from them, and, producing something from one of his pockets, he held it menacingly up.
"Advance a step," he exclaimed, "and I will blow you all to atoms, myself as well. Beware! I hold all our lives in my hand. Now who dares advance?"
LENOIR'S FLIGHT—MURRAY THE TRAITOR—HIS PUNISHMENT AND FLIGHT—A LONG RUN—THE AUBERGE—A STRANGE DISAPPEARANCE.
There was a pause.
Pierre Lenoir looked like mischief.
His position was desperate, and they judged, and rightly judged, that he was a man not likely to stick at a trifle.
The men looked at their officer, and the latter, a man of intelligence and prudence, albeit no coward, reflected seriously.
Several terrible calamities, accidental and intentional, had of late opened the eyes of the public to the destructive properties of dynamite, and to that his thoughts flew.
The coiner saw his chance, and quick to act as to think, he made for the exit.
"Stand back!" he cried, fiercely, to the men who made a faint show of barring his passage. "I'll finish you all off at a stroke if you attempt to oppose me?"
They fell back alarmed.
Lenoir darted on through the inner vault, and so on until he gained the flight of steps.
Reaching the top, he darted through the cottage, and reaching the open, suddenly found himself in the midst of about a dozen men.
The first person upon whom his glance rested, was the doubly-dyed traitor who had betrayed him solely to serve his own ends, by entrapping Jack Harkaway—the Englishman, who must have been recognized by the reader, in spite of his assumed name, as Herbert Murray.
Instinctively Lenoir divined that his betrayer was the young Englishman.
No sooner did this conclusion force itself upon him than all thought of personal danger vanished from his mind, and he was possessed by one sole idea, one single desire. Revenge!
He lost sight of the peril in which he ran, but with a cry like the roar of a wounded lion he sprang upon the traitor.
A brawny, powerful fellow was Pierre Lenoir, and Herbert Murray was but a puny thing in his grasp.
"Hands off!" exclaimed Murray, in desperation.
Lenoir growled, but said nothing, as he shook him much as a terrier does a rat.
Before the police could interfere in the spy's behalf, Lenoir held him with one hand at arm's length, while with the other he prepared to deliver a fearful blow.
The energy of despair seized on the hapless traitor, and wrenching himself free from the coiner's grasp, he fled.
Pierre Lenoir stood staring about him a second.
Then he made after him.
Away went pursuer and pursued.
The terror-stricken Murray got over the ground like a hare, and although the coiner was fleet of foot, he was at first distanced in the race.
It became a desperate race between them.
Lenoir tore on.
He would have his betrayer now or perish.
But before he had got more than two hundred yards the pace began to tell upon him.
He felt that he would have to give in.
"I must go easier, or I shall fail altogether."
So reasoning, he slackened his pace, and dropped into that slinging trot that runners in France know as the pas gymnastique.
If your strength and wind are of average quality, you can keep up for a prodigious time at that.
Murray flew on, anxious to get away from his furious pursuer.
He increased his lead.
But presently the pace told upon him likewise.
He collected his thoughts and his prudence as he went, and rested.
Glancing over his shoulder, he saw Lenoir come bounding along, a considerable distance in the rear.
"Savage beast!" thought Murray. "He means mischief."
Murray meant tiring him out.
This, however, was not so easily done.
The Englishman was a capital runner, and had been one of the crack men of his school-club.
But his forte was pace.
The Frenchman, on the contrary, was a stayer.
It looked bad for Murray.
On they went, and when a good mile had been covered, Murray, on glancing back, felt convinced that it was only a question of time.
He must tire out the Frenchman in the end, he thought.
He believed that an Englishman must always be more than a match for a Frenchman at any kind of athletics.
He reckoned without his host, for while he (Murray) was getting blown, Lenoir swung on at pas gymnastique, having got his second wind, and being, to all appearance, capable of keeping on for any length of time.
"I shall have to give it up," gasped Murray, when, at the end of the second mile, he looked over his shoulder again.
An unpleasant fact revealed itself.
While he was faltering, the Frenchman was rather improving his pace.
The distance between them was lessening.
And now he could hear Lenoir's menaces quite plainly as the coiner gained upon him.
"I shall have you directly, and I shall beat your skull in!" the Frenchman said.
Murray's craven heart leapt to his mouth.
Already he felt as if his cranium was cracked by the brutal fist of the savage coiner.
Fear lent him wings.
He put on a spurt.
"Oh, if I had but a pistol," thought Murray; "what a fool I was to come unarmed on such a job as this."
He partially flagged again.
The distance between them was still decreasing.
This he felt was the beginning of the end, but just as he was thinking that there was nothing for it but to turn and make the best fight for it he could, he sighted a roadside inn—a rural auberge.
And for this he flew with renewed energy.
Dashing into the house, he pushed to the door and startled the aubergiste by gasping out in the best French he could command—
"Un assassin me poursuit. Cachez-moi, ou donnez-moi de quoi me défendre!"
 "I am pursued by an assassin. Hide me, or give me something to defend myself with."
The landlord took Murray—and not unnaturally—for a madman.
He did not like the society of madmen.
To give a weapon to a furious maniac was out of all question.
And the landlord had nothing handy of a more deadly nature than a knife and fork.
Moreover, he would not have cared to place a dangerous weapon in a madman's hands.
So he met the case by humouring the fugitive with a proposal to go up stairs.
Murray wanted no second invitation.
Up he flew, and locked himself in one of the upper rooms just as Lenoir hammered at the door below.
"Où est-il?" demanded the coiner, fiercely.
 "Where is he?"
"Ne cherchez pas à me tricher," thundered Lenoir. "Il m'appartient. Où est-il, je vous le demande?"
 "Seek not to deceive me," thundered Lenoir. "He belongs to me. Where is he, I ask you again?"
The coiner's manner made the aubergiste uneasy, and thoughtful for his own safety.
So he pointed up stairs.
Up went Lenoir, and finding a room door locked, he flung his whole weight against the door and sent it in.
This was the room which the fugitive had entered.
But where was Murray?
THE COINER AND THE SPY—A REGULAR DUST-UP, AND WHAT CAME OF IT—THE CHASE—AN ODD ESCAPE—HUNTING IN THE HAY—A ROUGH CUSTOMER DONE FOR.
When Lenoir had puzzled himself for some time over the mysterious disappearance of Herbert Murray, he made a discovery.
The window was open, a circumstance which he had until then, in the most unaccountable manner imaginable, overlooked.
But when he got to the window and looked out, there were no signs of the object of his search.
He had followed so sharply that Murray could not have had time to get off.
He looked up and down the road eagerly.
The only thing in sight was a wagon-load of hay drawn by a team of horses, at whose head plodded a waggoner in a blue cotton blouse, whip in hand.
"Hé, la-bas!" shouted the coiner from the window.
The waggoner turned and looked eagerly up.
"Qu'avez-vous?" demanded the waggoner. "What's the matter?"
"Have you seen anyone jump out of window?" shouted Lenoir.
The waggoner responded tartly, for he fancied that his questioner was trying to chaff him.
"I've seen no one mad enough for that; in fact I've seen no one madder than you since I've been in this part of the country."
"Espèce de voyou!" cried the irritable Lenoir, "je te ficherais une danse si j'avais le temps pour t'apprendrs ce que c'est que la politesse. I'd dust your jacket for you if I had the time to teach you politeness."
"You're not likely to have time enough for that, as long as you live, espéce de pignouf."
This interchange of compliments appeared to relieve the belligerent parties considerably.
Lenoir was obliged to give it up for a bad job.
Suddenly a singular idea shot into his head.
The hay cart!
What if Herbert Murray had got into it unseen and was there now, without his presence being suspected by the waggoner?
Lenoir reflected for a moment.
Then he darted down the stairs in pursuit of the waggon.
"Hullo, there, driver!" he shouted.
The waggoner looked over his shoulder and recognised Lenoir.
So he whipped up.
The best pace that even a stout team of horses could put on, with a big load of hay behind them was not to say racehorse speed, so the coiner soon caught them up.
The waggoner awaited his approach, grasping his whip with a nervous grip that foreboded mischief.
On came Lenoir.
"I say, my friend," he called out, "I think you have a man concealed in the cart!"
"Va-t-en!—get out!" retorted the waggoner.
"I am serious. Will you oblige me by pulling up and looking?"
Lenoir had a very limited stock of patience, and he soon came to the end of it.
He ran to the leading horse and pulled it up sharply.
The waggoner swore and lashed up.
But Lenoir, turning his attention next to the shaft horse, pulled the waggon up to a standstill.
And the waggoner, furious at this, lashed Lenoir.
The whip caught him round the head and shoulders, curling about so that the man could not get it free.
Lenoir caught at the thong, and with a sudden jerk, brought the waggoner down from his seat.
Now began as pretty a little skirmish as you could wish to see.
The waggoner fell an easy prey to the furious coiner at first.
He was half-dazed with being jerked down to the ground.
But he soon recovered himself.
Then he set to punching at Lenoir with all his strength.
Then they grappled fiercely with each other.
A desperate struggle for supremacy ensued.
At length Lenoir's superior strength and science prevailed, tough as the waggoner was.
The latter lay under the coiner, whose knee pressed cruelly upon his chest.
"Now ask my pardon," said Lenoir.
"Never!" roared the defeated waggoner, stoutly.
"I shall kill you if you don't," said Lenoir, threateningly.
"Mind you don't get finished off first," said the waggoner significantly.
As he spoke, he was looking up over his conqueror's shoulder.
Lenoir perceived this, but thought it only a ruse to get him to shift his hold.
So, with a contemptuous smile, he raised his clenched fist to deal the luckless waggoner a blow that was to knock every scrap of sense out of his unfortunate cranium.
But before the waggoner could get it, Lenoir received something himself that sent him to earth with a hollow groan—felled like a bullock beneath the butcher's pole-axe.
Somebody had after all been concealed in the waggon.
That somebody was Herbert Murray himself.
The English youth had heard the scuffle, and seeing his opportunity, he slid out of his place of concealment and joined in the fight at the very right moment.
The waggoner shook himself together.
"That was neatly done, camarade," he said.
"I was just in time," said Murray; "look after him. He is wanted by the police; a desperate customer. They are after him now."
"He's very quiet," said the waggoner, with a curious glance.
"He's not dead," returned Murray; "he has his destiny to fulfil yet."
"What may that be?"
"The galleys," was the reply.
The waggoner stared hard at young Murray.
"I don't like the look of you much more than that of the beast lying there," he thought to himself; "mind you don't keep him company in the galleys."
An odd fancy to cross a stranger's mind.
Was it prophetic?
PLANS FOR OUR FRIENDS' RELEASE—MURRAY'S COUNTER-PLOT—THE LETTER, AND HOW IT WAS INTERCEPTED—HERBERT MURRAY TRIUMPHS—CHIVEY WORKS THE ARTFUL DODGE.
"Well," exclaimed the unfortunate Mole, "this is a nice go!"
"I'm glad you think it nice," said young Jack, bitterly.
As they spoke, they were being led through the streets of Marseilles, handcuffed and two abreast, with a brace of gendarmes between each couple.
The people flocked out to stare at the "notorious gang of forgers, which"—so rang the report—"had just been captured by the police, after making a desperate resistance."
The first impulse of Jack Harkaway himself had been naturally to resist his captors.
But he was speedily shown the uselessness of such a course.
When they were brought up before the judge for examination, they protested their innocence, and told the simple truth.
But this did not avail them.
Herbert Murray had prepared the way for their statements to be regarded as falsehoods.
By this means, when Jack protested that his name was Harkaway, it went clearly against him, inasmuch as it corroborated what Murray had said.
So they were remanded, one and all, and sent back to the cells.
Mr. Mole's indignation could not be subdued.
"These people are worse than savages!" he exclaimed; "but we'll let them know. They shall make us ample reparation for this indignity."
He talked threateningly of the British ambassador, and made all kinds of threats.
But he was poohpoohed by the authorities.
Harry Girdwood was the only one of the party who kept his coolness.
He put forth his request with so much earnestness, to be allowed to see the English consul, that his request was granted at once.
He drew up a letter and entrusted it to the gaoler, who promised to have it forwarded.
Now this became known to Herbert Murray, and he then saw that he had still a task of no ordinary difficulty before him—that it was not sufficient alone to have his hated enemies arrested.
The greater difficulty by far was to keep them now that he had secured them.
In this crisis he once more consulted with his worthless servant and confederate, Chivey.
"Our next job," said Chivey, doubtfully, "is to get at the gaoler, and stop the letter he has received from reaching its destination."
"How would you set to work?" demanded his master.
"You do what you can inside," said Chivey, "and I'll lay in wait for the messenger with the letter outside in case you fail."
"You can buy that gaoler," said the tiger.
"Do so. Your task is the easier of the two. Ten francs ought to square him."
"It ought," said Murray; "but I question if it will."
Murray was doomed to a sad disappointment in his operations, for do what he would, he could not "get at" the man charged with delivering the Harkaways' letters.
But he contrived to ascertain who the man was, and to give a description of him to the tiger.
Chivey saw the man come out of the prison, and he thought over various plans for getting hold of the letter which he knew that he must be carrying.
His first idea was to go up to him and address him straight off upon the subject; but this would not do.
The messenger would in all probability take the alarm.
He next had an idea of following up the messenger, and after giving him a crack on the head, rifling his pockets.
This idea he abandoned even sooner than the first, and this for sundry wholesome reasons.
Firstly, the man's road did not lead him into any sufficiently quiet places for such an attempt.
Secondly, the man was a tough-looking customer, and an awkward fellow to tackle.
And thirdly—but the second reason sufficed to send Chivey's mind away from all ideas of violence.
No; deeds of daring were not at all in Chivey's line.
He had a notion, however, and this was to go as fast as he could to the British consul's, and there to be ready for the messenger when he came.
His plans were not more matured than this; but chance seemed to very much favour this precious pair of youthful scamps—for the time being, at any rate.
Chivey timed his own arrival at the consul's residence, so as to be there just a few minutes in advance of the prison messenger.
The servant who admitted him was an Englishman, and told Chivey that his master was particularly engaged just then, and would not be visible for some considerable time.
"Be so good as to ask when I can see your master," said Chivey, with an air of lofty condescension.
"I must not disturb him now," said the servant.
"He will be very vexed with you if you don't," returned Chivey, "when he knows my business."
The servant being only impressed with this threat, went off at once to obey the insidious tiger, who of course was not in livery.
Barely had the consul's servant disappeared, when the messenger from the prison entered.
Chivey recognised him instantly.
"Une lettre pour Monsieur le Consul," said the messenger.
Chivey held out his hand, and the man, taking it for granted that Chivey belonged to the consular establishment, gave it to him.
"Il y a une réponse—there is an answer," said the messenger.
"It will be forwarded," returned Chivey, with cool presence of mind.
"I ought to take it with me," said the messenger.
"I can't disturb his excellency now," replied the tiger; "those are my master's express orders, which I can't presume to disobey. He will send the answer on immediately it is ready."
The man paused.
"The consul was expecting this letter," said Chivey, moving towards the door, "and he told me particularly that he would send the answer on."
"Puisqu'il est ainsi," said the man, dubiously. "Since it must be so, I suppose I had better leave the letter."
"Of course you had," returned Chivey, closing the door. "I daresay you will get the answer within an hour."
At that very moment the servant returned with a message from the consul to the effect that in half an hour he could be seen, if the applicant would call again.
"Very good," said Chivey, in the same patronising manner, "you may tell your master that I will look back later on."
"Very well, sir."
Chivey walked out, chuckling inwardly at the success of his mission.
"What could be easier?" said the Cockney scamp to himself; "shelling peas is a fool to it."
But before he could get fairly over the threshold, the servant stopped him with a question that startled him a little, and well-nigh made him lose his presence of mind.
"The man who called just now, sir, he left a letter."
"Eh? Oh, yes!"
"For you, sir?"
"Yes," added Chivey with the coolest effrontery. "My servant knew that I had come on here; thinking to be detained some time with his excellency the consul, I left word at my hotel where I was coming, and he followed me here with a letter."
"Oh, I see, sir," returned the servant, obsequiously, "quite so, sir, beg pardon, sir."
"Not at all, my good man, not at all," returned Chivey, superciliously; "you are a very civil, well-spoken young man—here is a trifle for you."
He passed the servant a large silver coin, and walked on.
The servant bowed again and examined the coin, in the process of bobbing his head.
"Five francs," said the consul's servant, to himself; "he's a real swell, anyone can see."
One word more.
The five-franc piece which had in no slight degree biassed the servant's opinion of the visitor, was one of Pierre Lenoir's admirable manufacture.
"Let's have a look at the letter, Chivey," said Herbert Murray, as soon as his servant got back.
But Chivey seemed to hesitate.
"Come, come," said Murray, "we shall not quarrel about the terms."
"We oughnt't to," returned the tiger, "for it's worth a Jew's eye."
Murray tore the letter open and read it down eagerly.
As it throws some additional light upon the actual state of affairs with the Harkaway party, possibly it may be as well to give the letter of young Jack to the consul verbatim.
It was dated from the prison.
"Sir,—I wish to solicit your immediate assistance in getting released from the above uncomfortable premises, where, in company with a party of friends and fellow-travellers, I have been by a singular accident carried by the police. From scraps of information I have gained while here, I believe I am correct in asserting that we have fallen into a trap, cunningly prepared for us by an unscrupulous fellow-countryman of ours, who has cogent reasons for wishing us out of the way, and has accordingly caused me and my friends to be arrested as coiners. The person in question is named Herbert Murray, but I am unable to say under what alias he is at present known in this part of the world. I mention this that you may be able to keep an eye upon the individual pending our release on bail, for I presume that bail is a French institution. My signature will serve you for reference on me, as it may readily be identified at my father's bankers here, Messrs. B. Fould & Co.
"Your obedient servant,
Herbert Murray pursed his brows as he read on.
"What do you think of that?" demanded Chivey.
"The one lesson to be learnt from it, Chivey," said his master, "is to stop all correspondence between the prisoners and the consul."
"And push forward the trial as much as possible."
"Yes, and get together as many reliable witnesses as we can——"
"Buy them at a pound apiece," concluded Chivey.
"Right," said Herbert Murray, with a mischievous grin; "forewarned, forearmed; we hold them now and we'll keep them——"
"Please the pigs," concluded Chivey fervently.
OUR FRIENDS IN DURANCE VILE—A STROKE FOR LIBERTY—THE PRISONERS' PLOT—MOLE IS PRESCRIBED FOR—A FRIEND IN NEED—HOPES AND MISGIVINGS—"OLD WET BLANKET."
"It's very odd."
"And scarcely polite," suggested Mr. Mole.
"That makes the fourth letter I have written to him, and he doesn't even condescend to notice them."
But while all the sufferers by the seeming neglect of the consul were expressing themselves so freely in the matter, old Sobersides, as Jack called his comrade, Harry Girdwood, remained silent and meditative.
Jack had great faith in his thoughtful chum.
"A penny for your thoughts, Harry," said he.
"I'll give them for nix," returned Harry Girdwood, gaily.
"Out with it."
"I was wondering whether, while you are all blaming the poor consul, he has ever received your letters."
"What, the four?"
"I don't see it."
"But, my dear fellow, consider. One may have miscarried—or two—but hang it! all four can't have gone wrong."
"Of course not," said Mole, with the air of a man who puts a final stop to all arguments.
"There I beg leave to differ with you all."
"The letters have not reached the consul, perhaps; they may have been intercepted."
"By whom?" was Jack's natural question.
"Can't say positively; possibly by Murray."
"Is it likely?"
"Is it not?"
"I don't see, unless he bought over the messenger."
"And what is more likely than that?" said Harry. "And if they have bought over one messenger, it is for good and all, not for a single letter, but for every scrap of paper you may send out of the prison, you may depend upon it."
This simple reasoning struck his hearers.
"Upon my life!" exclaimed Jack, "I believe Harry's right. We must tackle the governor."
"So I think."
"And I too," added Harry Girdwood; "but how?"
"I'll write him a letter."
"Yes; and send it to him by the gaoler," said Harry.
"The gaoler who carried all the other letters? Why, Jack, Jack, what a thoughtless, rattlebrained chap you are. What on earth is the use of such a move as that?"
Jack's countenance fell again at this.
"You're right, Harry. I go jumping like a bull at a gate as usual. What would you do?"
Harry's answer was brief and sententious.
"Do so, mate," returned Jack, hopefully again; "do so."
He pressed his lips and knit his brows with a burlesque, melodramatic air, and strode up and down, with his forefinger to his forehead.
He stopped suddenly and stamped twice, as a haughty earl might do in a transpontine tragedy when resolving upon his crowning villany, and exclaimed in a voice suggestive of fiend-like triumph—
"I have it."
"Hold it tight, then."
"One of us must sham ill so as to get the doctor here. Once he's here, we shall be all right."
"Hurrah!" cried Jack Harkaway; "that's the notion. We shall yet defeat the schemes of that incarnate fiend, Murray."
"That is a capital idea," said Mr. Mole. "You have suggested quite a new idea."
"Now stop; the next thing for us to think of is who is to be the sham invalid," said Jack.
"I would suggest Tinker," said Harry.
"Or Bogey," observed Mr. Mole.
"Because it would not be easy to tell whether they looked in delicate health or not."
"There's something in that," said Jack, "but there's this to say against it."
"They might not be able to keep the game up so well as one of ourselves, so I think——"
Here Jack paused, whilst Harry and he exchanged a meaning wink unobserved by the old gentleman.
"I think that it ought to be Mr. Mole," continued our hero.
"Why, sir; can you ask why? You are such a lovely shammer."
"Come, I say," began Mr. Mole, scarcely relishing it.
"He's quite right, sir," said Harry Girdwood, "you are inimitable as a shammer."
"You can pitch it so strong, Mr. Mole," said Jack.
"And so natural," added Harry Girdwood.
"Life-like," said the two together, in mingled tones of rapt admiration.
Mr. Mole was but human.
Humanity is but frail, and ever open to the voice of flattery.
What could Mole do but yield?
He gave in, and shammed very ill indeed.
Well, the result of this was that the gaoler made his report, and the doctor came.
"De quoi se plaint-il?" demanded the doctor, as he entered the cell.
"What does he say?" asked Mole; "I'm as deaf as an adder."
"The doctor asks what you complain of?" said Jack, in a very loud voice.
"Oh, any thing he likes," returned Mole, impatiently.
They were on the point of bursting out laughing at this, when the doctor startled them considerably by saying in broken (but understandable) English—
"What he say—any thing I like? Singulier!"
Harry Girdwood gave the word; a glance of intelligence went round.
They, to use Jack's expression, pulled themselves together, and looked serious.
"It is headache," said Jack. "Violent headache, he says."
"Yes," said Mole.
"Show your tongue."
Mole thrust it out, and then the doctor felt his pulse.
"Very bad; you have the fever."
"What?" ejaculated Mole, aghast.
"You have the fever."
The surgeon looked puzzled.
"Typhus or scarlet, I should say," suggested Jack.
"What is that?" demanded the French doctor, curiously. "Je ne suis pas très fort—I am not very strong in English."
"Then, sir," said Jack, "pray accept my compliments upon your proficiency; it is really very remarkable."
"You are very good to say that," returned the surgeon; "mais—now for our malade—what is malade in English?"
"Patient! Well, I hope that he will justify ze designation. What do you feel?" he added to Mr. Mole.
"Rush of blood to the head," said Mole, thinking this quite a safe symptom to announce.
"Yes, yes—sans doute—no doubt," said the doctor, looking as wise as an owl. "We can make that better for you quick—a little sinapisme."
"That's what you call a mustard plaister, isn't it?" said Harry.
"Sinapisme—mustard who?" demanded the French doctor of Jack.
"I'm not going to have any mustard plaister on," said Mole.
"Comment!" exclaimed the doctor; "il n'en veut pas! he will not! Morbleu! Ze prisonniers have what ze docteur ordonnances."
"Yes. You are quite right, doctor," said Jack, in French. "Where is he to have on the plaister?"
"On his legs, at the back of his ankles," replied the doctor; "it is to draw the blood from his head."
"Very good, sir."
Jack translated, and the patient singularly enough grew reassured immediately.
"It won't hurt much on the back of your legs, Mr. Mole," said Harry.
They enjoyed a quiet grin to themselves at this.
The prison doctor then sent the gaoler for writing materials for the purpose of writing out a prescription.
Then was their chance.
"Doctor," said Jack, "I want to see the governor."
"Why have you not asked, then, through the gaoler?"
"I prefer some other method."
"Because I don't know whether the gaoler is safe."
"I don't understand you," said the doctor.
"I have written four letters to the British consul," returned Jack, "and no answer has come."
"Well, sir, I am afraid he has never received the letters."
"Because my name is well known to him, and he would have replied. I have referred him to the chief banker of the town, who can readily identify me through my signature. I wish them to communicate with my father, and, in a word, to show the authorities how utterly ridiculous and preposterous is the charge against us in spite of appearances."
Jack's earnestness caught his attention.
"They would never dare to keep letters back."
"Money has tempted them, I feel assured."
"The money of a spy—a fellow-countryman of ours, who has interest in keeping me out of the way."
"His real name is Herbert Murray, his assumed name is Markby."
"Markby; I know that name. Of course; he is the principal witness against you. You say his assumed name?"
"Can you prove it?"
"Easily; if I can get at the means of establishing a defence. It is to effect this, that I have addressed myself to the consul, but he does not reply, so that, monstrous and absurd as this charge is, we are unable to disprove it, simply because here we are tied hand and foot."
"This is very strange."
The doctor, as he spoke, shot them a dubious glance, which did not escape Jack.
"I tell you, sir, that my father is rich and influential. Moreover, he is exceedingly liberal in money matters with me. I have not the slightest need to add to my income by any means whatever, much less dishonest courses."
"What proof can I offer to the governor?"
"Plenty," returned Jack, eagerly. "Here is my father's address in England; let him be communicated with immediately. This Markby is an unscrupulous rascal. He has forged my name to several cheques, and robbed me. He fears detection, and has built up a cunning plot, using the coiner, Lenoir, as his cat's paw, and while we are caged here upon this ridiculous charge, he can get off to another part of the world."
This convinced the prison surgeon completely.
"I will see the governor at once," said he; "meanwhile, see that your obstinate old friend attends to my instructions, and he will soon be well."
"Excuse me, doctor," said Jack, "but the honest truth is that he is not ill at all."
"No. We doubted the gaoler's honesty, and, fearing he was bought over by our enemy, adopted this ruse."
"To see me?"
"Ha, ha! I see it all now; very ingenious on your part. Well, well, my young friend, I will see the governor at once, and you shall not be long in trouble."
"You will earn my eternal gratitude, and that of my fellow-prisoners, as well as the much more substantial acknowledgment of my father."
"Bien, bien," said the surgeon smiling. "Au revoir!"
And bowing pleasantly to the prisoners generally, the doctor left the cell.
"There," said Jack. "You may look upon that as settled, so comfort yourselves."
"He has gone to the governor?" asked Mole.
"I hope it will go all right now," said Harry Girdwood, who was scarcely so cheerful as his companions.
"You wretched old wet blanket!" exclaimed Jack, gaily, "of course it will."
"Of course," added Mole.
"You may consider yourself as good as outside the prison already."
"I do, for one," said Mole, quite hilarious at the prospect.
"Humph!" said Harry.
THE DOCTOR AND THE GOVERNOR—HOW THE PLOT WORKS IN FAVOUR OF JACK'S ENEMIES—UNLUCKY PRISONERS!
Thus spake the governor of the prison.
The occasion was within a few minutes of the doctor's entrance into his private cabinet, to which the medico had gone immediately after quitting the English-prisoners.
"Well, what they say is very easily verified," said the doctor, rather tartly.
The fact is that he was somewhat nettled at the doubting expression with which the governor met his account of his interview with Jack Harkaway and his fellow prisoners.
"My dear Doctor Berteaux," returned the governor, with the most irritating smile, "this youth is a notorious young scoundrel. Just see how clever he must be, too; he has actually imposed upon the astute Doctor Berteaux, who has such a vast experience amongst criminals."
"I tell you, doctor, I know all about this young scoundrel from A to Z. His real name is Herbert Murray."
"Why, that he said was the real name of the agent Markby," exclaimed the doctor.
"The deuce he did. Egad! doctor, that's beautiful."
And the governor chuckled rarely at the idea.
The doctor began to look a little uncomfortable.
"Do you mean to say——"
"That you have been egregiously humbugged? Yes, that's exactly what I do mean. Why, doctor, doctor, at your time of life consider."
"Come, come, get rid of this silly fancy, old friend."
"At least," insisted the doctor, "do me the favour to communicate with the consul."
"Indeed, I shall do nothing of the kind. You can see the British consul if you like, and a rare laugh he'll enjoy at your expense when he sees how you have been duped by this young scoundrel."
Well, the doctor did not communicate with the consul after this, and Jack Harkaway waited with his companions, Mole and the "wet blanket," Harry Girdwood, and the two faithful darkeys, and waited in vain.
Waited until they grew heart-sick with hope deferred.
JOE DEERING AT HOME AGAIN—ON THE LOOKOUT—NEWS AT LAST—JOVIAL CAPTAIN ROBINSON IN DANGER.
We must cross the Channel to England again.
But not for long.
One character in our drama of real life has not appeared upon the scene for some time.
We allude to the skipper of the "Albatross," Joe Deering.
Captain Deering had finished his course and returned to his native land.
He was anxious to get home, for he had a purpose in view.
He wished to rout out two men to whom he owed a very deep grudge, which he was fully determined to pay off.
One was Mr. Murray, the treacherous owner of the ill-fated "Albatross," for Captain Deering, it should be borne in mind, was ignorant of the wretched man's well-merited fate.
The other was that traitor friend of his, the accomplice of the elder Murray—jovial Captain Robinson.
Joe Deering was in earnest, and he pursued his inquiries with the utmost diligence.
The jovial captain was not to be heard of anywhere at first.
But Joe Deering, baffled here, like a skilled mariner as he was, set out on another tack.
He made his inquiries for Mr. Murray alone.
"Where one thief is," said Joe, to himself, "the other murdering scoundrel is sure to be not far off."
For some time his search proved unavailing again; but he was presently rewarded for his perseverance by the first gleam of good luck.
He learnt the late address of Murray senior.
"This is a step in the right direction," said Joe Deering, with a chuckle.
So with renewed hope he went to the house.
"Mr. Murray ain't been home for many months, sir," said the housekeeper, in reply to Deering's inquiry, "and I haven't any news of him since goodness knows when."
"You don't mean that?" said Deering, aghast.
"Indeed, but I do, and I hope that you're not going to misbelieve me like that Captain Robinson, that calls here every——"
"What?" ejaculated Deering. "Avast there. Captain Robinson, did you say?"
"Do you know him?"
"I can't very well be off knowing him, seeing as he's here about twice a day, and I know he never wished my poor master no good."
"What makes you think that?" asked Joe Deering.
"Master used always to try to avoid seeing him, poor old gentleman," replied the housekeeper.
"Why do you call him 'poor old gentleman?'"
"Because I know he suffered dreadfully, and I think he was worried by that Robinson into doing something dreadful."
Joe Deering's curiosity was excited now by the housekeeper's manner, and he pressed her for further information.
"That Captain Robinson worrited him to a skeleton, sir," she answered; "he was always here nag, nag, nagging night and day. At last my poor master bolted, sir."
"I don't know; but he bolted from here, and from Captain Robinson."
"But Mr. Murray was surely not in fear of Captain Robinson?"
"Indeed, he was. Captain Robinson knew something about my poor master that oughtn't to be known, so it was said, and he was always trying to force Mr. Murray to give him money."
"The deuce he was!" said Captain Deering. "This throws a new light on the scoundrel and his cursed good-natured-looking figure-head."
"A deceitful beast!" said the housekeeper, warmly. "You would have thought that he couldn't hurt a worm to look at him, and yet I do believe that he's drove poor Mr. Murray to make away with himself."
"You don't think that?"
"What else can I think? He hasn't been seen or heard or for months and months. But if I wasn't so heavy at heart over that, sir, I could laugh for joy to see that beast of a Captain Robinson's disappointment every time he comes."
"So he comes often?" said Joe Deering, eagerly.
"Every day; sometimes twice a day," was the reply.
Deering thought this information over quietly.
"Would you like to serve him out?" he asked presently.
"Captain Robinson," responded Deering.
"That I should, indeed," said the housekeeper, eagerly; "only show me how to do it."
Joe Deering did.
He made himself known to the woman, and convinced her that he had ample reason for wishing to repay the grudge.
And they plotted together to wreak a well-merited vengeance upon that falsely jovial Captain Robinson.
The nature of that vengeance you will learn if you have patience to wait till the next chapter.
HOW CAPTAIN ROBINSON CAME TO APPLY HIS LEECH AGAIN—WHAT CAME OF IT—THE SEA GIVES UP ITS DEAD—A FEARSOME SIGHT—THE TRAITOR'S TERROR—JOE DEERING WIPES OFF AN OLD SCORE.
Captain Robinson was more jovial than ever.
His honest-looking, ruddy face was beaming with smiles, and he appeared as hearty as the most honest, upright and plain-sailing fellow in the world.
Captain Robinson was like most sailors in one respect; he was remarkably superstitious.
Instinctive presage of good luck to-day put him in rare spirits, as he made his customary call.
"I feel as if I was going to land him to-day," muttered the jovial captain to himself.
And his face was actually beaming with smiles, as his hand rested on the knocker.
"Oh, good, morning, Mrs. Wilmot," he said, heartily; "how are you this bright morning, Mrs. Wilmot?"
"Better, thank you, Captain Robinson," returned the housekeeper, giving him an odd glance.
"That's hearty. Why, you are looking more yourself."
"Better in health, because better in spirits," said the housekeeper, insidiously.
The captain pricked up his ears at this.
"Any better news by chance, Mrs. Wilmot?" said he.
"Ah, that there is indeed," said she.
"About the master?" asked he.
"That's it," said she.
"You don't mean to say that he's coming home again?"
"I don't mean to say that he's coming," said the housekeeper, with wondrous significance.
"Why, whatever are you driving at?" he said.
"I'm not a-driving at nothing, Captain Robinson—leastways, not that I am aware of. All I know is, that Mr. Murray ain't likely to be coming home, for he ain't in a position to come home, seeing as——"
"Hang it all, I can't."
She laughed outright, and clapped her hands in regular kitten-like joy.
"What on earth do you mean, Mrs. Wilmot? I hate such palavering and beating about the bush. If he's coming home, say so; if he ain't coming home, tell me where I can see him, or where he's hiding."
"Why, he can't be coming home when——"
Here she stopped short in the most aggravating manner in the world.
The jovial captain grew black and threatening.
He was just going to burst out into a noisy fit of abusive language, when she stopped him short with a remark which quite startled him.
"There, there, what an impatient man you are, surely, Captain Robinson. Go up stairs and see for yourself why he ain't coming home."
The captain could only infer one thing from her words.
Murray was back.
Yes, he was not coming home, because he had already come.
This explained the housekeeper's joyous spirits, which seemed to bubble over in her.
"She's a nice old gal," said Robinson to himself, as he mounted the stairs, "and I'll stand her a trifle after I have applied my leech to her master again. Ha, ha, ha!"
The jovial captain laughed at the quaint conceit.
He rarely enjoyed the prospect of once more gloating over the miserable Murray writhing under the moral pressure.
"I'll make him bleed handsome for keeping away so long," thought this jovial mariner. "I wonder how he'll enjoy the leech after such a long while?"
His hand rested upon the handle of the door.
What a startler it would be for Mr. Murray.
"I'll knock," thought the jovial Captain Robinson; "he'll think it's Mother Wilmot again. Such larks!"
How changed the voice sounded.
"He's caught cold," thought the practical joker.
He opened the door.
Closed it carefully behind him to guard against intrusion.
Then he turn and faced—Joe Deering!
Jovial Captain Robinson stood aghast.
The sight of his old friend literally petrified him.
Deering stood facing the jovial scoundrel, his hands leaning on the table.
Not a muscle of his face moved.
A cold, settled expression was in his eyes.
So fixed, so steady, that they might have been set in the head of a dead man.
The jovial Robinson was tongue-tied for a time.
This monosyllable he faltered after a long while, and after a very big effort.
But Joe Deering said never a word in reply, nor did he move a muscle.
Deering stared at him with the same fixed, glassy eyes, until Jovial Captain Robinson had a hideous idea flash across him.
Was it really a living man there?
He fastened a fixed, fascinating look upon the figure of the friend he had so villainously betrayed, and retreating a step, groped about behind him, for the handle of the door.
At last he got hold of it, and turned it.
Deering had spoken, and with a jerk the jovial Captain Robinson turned round.
"Joe!" he gasped, again, "did you speak?"
Now Joe Deering saw by the traitor's pallid cheeks, and frightened look, what was passing in his mind.
So he was at no pains to destroy the illusion.
"I did. Your ears did not deceive you."
"I thought not," faltered Captain Robinson, plucking up in a faint degree, however.
"You marvel to see the ocean give up its dead," began Joe Deering, in a hollow voice.
Jovial Captain Robinson sank against the door for support, while a delicate green tint spread itself over his face.
We have said that he was a superstitious man.
This huge lump of humanity—nay, rather of inhumanity—was worse than a schoolgirl in point of courage.
The very word ghost frightened him, if he saw it in print.
He was sure that Joe Deering was dead.
Certain was he that Joe Deering had been decoyed into that floating coffin, and sent to a watery grave by himself.
Here then was the betrayed man's ghost come to reproach him with his crime.
The strong man turned heart-sick, and was like to faint.
Joe Deering looked at the fear-stricken traitor in silence.
He enjoyed his terror keenly indeed.
No feeling of pity at the abject terror of the wretched man crossed him.
For his thoughts went back to those fearful days and nights they passed on board the doomed "Albatross."
Jovial Captain Robinson had been pitiless before, and the sufferings gone through in that terrible time had hardened Joe Deering's kind heart.
A genial, generous and soft-hearted fellow as a rule, he could not pardon this infamous wretch who had lured him into such a trap, even while professing the most affectionate friendship for him.
This was Joe Deering's chance—his long looked-for opportunity, and no weak emotion should spoil the revenge which he had waited for so patiently.
Jovial Captain Robinson essayed to speak.
In a faint, faltering voice, he managed to pronounce Joe Deering's name.
"Well, murderer!" returned Joe Deering; "what is it you want?"
"I want you to shake hands with me, Joe," responded the other, almost inaudibly.
"I—I—I don't mean you any harm," gasped jovial Captain Robinson.
"Liar!" thundered Joe Deering; "you dare make that statement, hovering as you do, between life and death!"
"No, no, no, no!" shrieked the jovial captain; "not that, Joe, not that."
"Yes, I say; for you are not long for this world."
"You are not sent to tell me that, Joe," said Robinson, his voice dying away in spite of a desperate effort to make it audible.
And with a half groan, half grunt, he sank upon the ground prostrate.
Before his senses had fairly fled, Joe Deering strode over to him, and delivered him a heavy kick behind.
This brought him round in a wonderful way.
He knew that it was a material foot that had given that kick, and the conviction was a marvellous relief to him.
He scrambled up.
As he got to his feet, Joe Deering fixed him by the throat, and shook him.
"You plotted to accomplish my murder," he said, "but now my turn's come, Robinson, and I mean to punish you."
Jovial Captain Robinson was a coward, an arrant cur, yet he infinitely preferred having to tackle flesh and blood, to battling with a ghost.
He turned upon his assailant.
But Deering was not to be denied.
Before the jovial captain could do any thing to help himself, Joe Deering hammered his face into a jelly.
Half dazed, stunned, and blinded, Robinson fought it out, and struggling fiercely, he shook himself free.
And then he fled like a beaten cur from the house.
Joe Deering did not attempt to follow him.
"There," he said, calmly enough, considering what had gone before, "that's done. Thank goodness it's off my mind. Mr. Murray must have my next attention."
He little thought that the wretched shipowner had already paid the penalty of his crimes.
Jovial Captain Robinson was never the same man again.
Whether it was the physical or the mental punishment he had had, we cannot possibly determine, but certain it is that something broke him up from that day, and he lingered on a miserable life of two years or more, and died in abject want.
A DOSE OF PALM OIL.
Having settled the hash of jovial Captain Robinson, we now proceed to the pleasant task of measuring out justice to others.
Messieurs Murray and Chivey are the persons we mean.
Those gentlemen, having taken such excellent precautions to cut off young Jack Harkaway's communications with the outer world, fancied themselves tolerably safe.
Yet every now and then Murray's nerves were shaken as he thought of the vindictive Lenoir.
What had become of that dangerous individual?
The police had gone to the spot where Murray told them he had left the coiner senseless, and there they certainly found traces of a severe struggle, but Lenoir had disappeared.
The peasant also had done his duty as a French citizen by reporting the affair to the first gendarme he met on his road.
But though Marseilles was thoroughly searched, no trace of the man could be found, either in the town or the surrounding rural districts.
"There's one consolation, guv'nor," observed Chivey, "he won't dare show his ugly mug in Marseilles any more, so you're safe enough here."
"He's desperate enough for any thing."
"It's galleys for life if he's collared, and he knows it well enough."
And Herbert Murray gave a convulsive shudder, in which he was sympathetically joined by Chivey.
"Ain't it 'orrid to see them poor devils chained to the oars, and the hoverseer a walkin' up and down with his whip, a-lashin' 'em?" said Chivey.
Murray again paused and shuddered, but after a moment, he continued—
"But it would be jolly, though, to see Harkaway and his friends at it."
"Crikey! and wouldn't I jest like to see that old beast of a Mole pulling away on his stumps. D'ye think they'll all get it?" asked Chivey.
"Yes, unless they manage to communicate with their friends or the consul."
"Then I had better just stroll up and see if our old pal the gaoler has stopped any more letters."
"Yes, go by all means, for if we don't call for them, he's likely enough to give them up to——"
Murray hesitated, but Chivey instantly supplied the word.
"The rightful owners, you mean, guv'nor."
"Cut away!" sharply exclaimed Murray, who was annoyed at the liberties taken by his quondam servant.
Chivey strolled up towards the prison, and was just in time to meet the gaoler coming out.
"Mornin', mossoo," he said, with a familiar nod, "rather warm, ain't it? What d'ye say to a bottle of wine jest to wash the dust out o' yer throat?"
The Frenchman did not comprehend a fourth part of this speech, but he understood that he was to partake of a bottle of wine, and at once signified his willingness.
"Vid moosh plaisir, m'sieu."
And he led the way to a cabaret where they sold his favourite wine.
"Now have you got any letters for me?" said Chivey, when they were comfortably seated at a table, remote from the few other customers, who were engaged in a very noisy game of dominoes.
"No understand," said the man, shaking his head.
"Any letters—billy duxes?"
The man made a gesture to indicate that he did not understand.
"Thick-headed old idiot," muttered Chivey; then calling in pantomime to aid his lack of French, he produced the first letter Jack had written to the consul.
"Letter, like this."
The gaoler's eyes twinkled; he nodded and half drew from the breast-pocket of his uniform the very document Chivey was so anxious to get hold of.
"Hand it over, old pal," he said, holding out his hand.
The gaoler smiled as he again concealed the letter.
Then he in turn held out his hand, and made signs that he required something to be dropped into it.
"Old cormorant wants more palm oil," muttered Chivey, and most reluctantly he drew from his pocket one of the gold pieces Herbert Murray had given him for the purpose of bribing the gaoler.
But the Frenchman shook his head.
"Two; I cannot part with the letter under two," he said, in much better English than he had hitherto spoken.
"Well, I'm blest! Why couldn't you speak like that before? We'd have come to business much sooner."
"I thought Monsieur would like to exhibit his extensive knowledge of the French tongue, but here is the letter."
"And here's the coin. I will buy as many as you can get at the same figure."
"You shall certainly have the first chance."
Chivey helped himself to another glass, and asked—
"When is the trial to be?"
"The judge, unfortunately, has been taken ill, and the prisoners will have to wait about three weeks for an opportunity of proving their innocence."
"That's unfortunate. What do you think they'll get?"
"If found guilty, twenty years at the galleys."
"What, old wooden legs and all?"
"The gentleman who has lost his limbs will be probably sent to some other employment."
"What a pity. Well, good-bye, old cock; keep your weather-eye open."
"Au revoir, monsieur."
Cocking his hat very much on one side, Chivey stalked out of the place.
HOW THE PURLOINED LETTER WAS LOST—AND WHO FOUND IT.
"That 'ere frog-eating swine gets two quid for bonin' the letter, so I think I'm entitled to one. Can't let all the coin go into old Frenchy's pocket."
Thus Chivey muttered to himself as he neared the place where he and Herbert Murray were staying.
Chivey evidently intended putting the screw on Herbert.
"Look here, guv'nor," said he, as he entered the room; "I ain't much of a reading cove, but I see once a book called Jessop's fables."
"Æsop's fables, I presume you mean, Chivey?"
"It's all the same. But there's a yarn about a monkey what made the cat pull chestnuts out of the fire; and I'm jiggered if I'm going to play the cat."
"I am not aware that anyone wishes you to do so," responded Murray, in his blandest manner.
"Well, you are a-trying it on, at any rate."
"Why, supposing it's found out about our stopping these here letters?"
"Which letters, Chivey?"
"The one I've got in my pocket, and——"
"Oh, you've got one, then. Hand it over, please, Chivey."
"Not so fast, guv'nor. You jest listen to what I've got to say first?"
"I am all attention."
"Well, supposing this game was found out, who do you think would get into trouble?"
"Why, you would, undoubtedly; and your friend the French gaoler."
"And don't you think it's worth your while to come down very handsome, considering the risk I run."
"It does not strike me in that light; but I do think it would be a good plan for you to get rid of the stolen letter as soon as possible; for if any thing is found out, and the gaoler says he gave you the letters, it is not likely that his word—the word of a man who acknowledges himself a thief—will be taken against yours, unless the documents are found in your possession."
"That's all very well."
"Then if it's all very well, just hand over the letter."
And Murray held out his hand.
Chivey, very reluctantly, passed over the letter, muttering as he did so—
"Well, I'm blest if I don't think you would whistle a blackbird off the nest while you stole the eggs."
Herbert Murray took no notice of this speech; he was too deeply engrossed with the letter which he found read as follows—
"To Her Britannic Majesty's Consul at Marseilles:
"Sir,—I have already addressed several letters to you on the subject of the incarceration of myself and friends in the prison of Marseilles, on a charge of counterfeit coining. I also explained how we were led, by the artful devices of a person calling himself Markby, to be actually in the coiner's house when the police entered it, and, therefore, appearances are certainly against us. To all those letters you have made no reply, which I think is certainly hard, and not quite right, as I imagine the duty of a British consul includes looking after the interests of British subjects in the town or district he is stationed at.
"Now, sir, in my former letters I requested you to communicate with the bankers in this town, and also with my father, whose address I give below, and who placed money in their hands for my use. If you will do so, you will see that all the statements in my former letters are correct; but if you do not, a number of British subjects will probably be condemned and heavily sentenced, entirely through your neglect.
"Therefore, I beg of you at once to communicate with those who can identify me and my friends, and in the meantime to use your influence to postpone the trial till that communication can be effected.
"Your obedient servant,
"J. Harkaway, Junr."
"My eye!" said Chivey, when Murray had read the letter aloud, "ain't he getting his back up?"
"No matter. They are all of them safe enough, and if they get out, I'll forgive them."
"But they won't forgive you."
"Perhaps not; but ring the bell, Chivey. We'll have some wine after this, and just hand over the cigar box."
The ex-groom gave a tug at the bell-rope and ordered wine.
Then he took up a cigar-box and, giving it a vigorous shake, ejaculated—
"There ain't a blessed smoke in it, guv'nor."
"Well, I'll just put on my hat and stroll up to the shop of Monsieur Cretineau-Joly and order a fresh stock. I must have a few minutes' exercise before it gets dark; shan't be ten minutes."
Herbert left the apartment, while Chivey muttered—
"He's afraid of meeting that Lenoir if he goes out after dark."
And Chivey was quite right.
Herbert Murray walked briskly up the street till he reached the tobacconist's, where he paused a moment, to look at the numerous varieties of the nicotian herb displayed in the window, along with pipes and cigar tubes of every shape and pattern.
As he looked, several others looked, and one of the lookers, while removing his pipe, was so unfortunate as to allow some of the tobacco ash to blow in Murray's face.
"Curse you, for an awkward Frenchman," growled Murray, while the other politely apologised for the mishap.
Herbert coughed, and sneezed, and drew out his handkerchief to wipe his face; but neither he nor anyone else noticed at the same time he drew out young Jack Harkaway's letter, which fluttered slowly to the pavement, where it lay with the address downwards.
Murray bought his box of cigars, and returned to the hotel where he resided, but still the letter lay unheeded beneath the tobacco shop window, till darkness had settled over the town of Marseilles except where street lamps and shop lights pierced the gloom.
Then there came up to the shop an old man, who apparently had been a soldier, as he dragged one leg very stiffly, and had his left arm in a sling.
But although his hair was white, his carriage was upright and martial.
He looked in at the door, then entered, and purchased some tobacco, after which he stood outside and filled his pipe.
"I might have taken a light inside," he muttered, when that operation was finished, and seeing a scrap of paper on the pavement, he picked it up, to use as a pipe-light.
But the writing on the outside caught his eye.
"A letter to the British consul!" the old man ejaculated. "It may be worth a franc or two, if I restore it to his excellency."
So he thrust it into his pocket, obtained a light, and hobbled away in the direction of the consulate.
But presently he paused in a retired spot, where only a single lamp illumined the surrounding houses.
"I wonder what the letter is about," he said; "I can make a better bargain, perhaps, if I know the contents."
And without more ado, the man pulled out the letter, and read it carefully.
Although it was written in English, the old French soldier seemed to understand it thoroughly.
"That cursed villain's name again," he hissed, through his teeth, when he had read a few lines. "But I'll pay him yet."
Then he continued the perusal, steadily, till he came to the end.
"It looks like truth," he said, as he returned it to his pocket. "I will restore it to the consul. Ha, ha! it will be sport indeed if I, Pierre Lenoir, the proscribed criminal, can defeat the schemes of that villain."
With a subdued chuckle the coiner departed on his way, revelling with delight at the thought that he would yet be avenged on his perfidious friend.
He reached the consul's residence, knocked, and was admitted by the same servant who had formerly opened the door to Chivey.
"Is his Excellency the Consul at home?"
"Yes, but very much engaged," replied the flunkey.
"I do not particularly wish to see him, but I have found this letter in the street, and it may be something of importance."
"Right, my good feller; 'ere's a franc for you."
And the door was closed on Lenoir, who hastened away.
Two hours later the governor of the gaol and the consul were engaged in an important conversation.
But their plans must, for the present, remain a secret, nor did Jack and his imprisoned friends know that their last letter had produced a better effect than the first.
A SORROWFUL HOUSEHOLD—NEWS AT LAST.
Change we the scene to England, and to that particular part of the island where old Jack and his friends were living.
Though surrounded by every luxury that money could procure, they were not happy.
"No news yet!" was the first question that Mrs. Harkaway would ask her husband in the morning, and he with a shake of the head, would respond—
"None yet, my dear; but do not despond."
But the fond mother vainly endeavoured to hope against hope.
Little Emily, too, went about in a most listless, melancholy manner, wondering why it was that Jack did not write, and Paquita, too, was quite despondent at not hearing any thing of Harry Girdwood.
Dick Harvey did all he could to cheer up everybody, but it was a hard task, for he was working against his own convictions, which were that the youngsters had got into some trouble from which they were unable to extricate themselves.
Letters had been written to young Jack at Marseilles, but these had never reached him, having fallen into the hands of Herbert Murray, who had applied at the post office, in the name of Harkaway, for them.
Paquita and little Emily, though still firm friends, were not in each other's society so much as formerly, as they both preferred to endure their sorrows in solitude.
Paquita, in particular, was fond of a sequestered nook in the grounds, where, half hidden by shrubs, she could command a view of the long straight road leading from the nearest railway station.
She had a notion that she would be the first one to see the absentees, and had chosen that as a place of observation, where she would sit for hours watching and trying to hope.
Harvey found out her retreat, and employed the photographer who took Emily's portrait, to give a good likeness of the southern beauty.
Paquita knew nothing of this, so absorbed was she in her own meditations, till a few days afterwards Uncle Dick, as she had learnt to call him, gave her some copies of it.
She thanked him, and, hurrying off to her own room, enclosed one in an envelope, which she addressed to Harry. There was no letter with it, but underneath the portrait she wrote—
"With Paquita's dearest love. As she waits for one who comes not."
This she posted herself, registering it for extra safety.
Still came no tidings, as day after day passed, till one morning the postman brought a large official-looking letter, addressed in a strange handwriting, and bearing foreign post-marks.
Despite all his hardihood, Harkaway's hand trembled as he took it up, and, eager as he was for news, it was some seconds before he could nerve himself to break the seal.
His wife sat watching with breathless expectation, feeling convinced that at length there was news.
"Are they safe?" she asked, when she had followed her husband's eye to the conclusion of the lengthy epistle.
"They are safe, for the present."
"Thank Heaven!" she exclaimed, giving way to woman's great relief—tears.
"But where are they?" she continued a minute afterwards.
"At Marseilles, where they have been for some time, so the British consul tells me, and where they are likely to be till we go to release them."
"Release them! What do you mean? Don't keep back anything from me, dear husband."
"Well, if you must know the worst, they are in prison, on a charge of coining."
"What an infamous charge to make against them?" exclaimed a couple of indignant feminine voices, belonging to little Emily and Paquita, who had just come into the room.
"Husband, you don't believe our boy to be guilty of such a crime?"
"Appearances are very much against them, the consul says. The great thing is to establish their identity, as the boy is supposed to have assumed the name he bears."
At this moment Harvey appeared, and the news was instantly imparted to him.
"It is a very serious affair, and it is certain we must go at once. But really it is ridiculous to fancy old Mole and those black rascals accused of coining."
"It will not be ridiculous, if they are condemned and sent to the galleys, pa," said little Emily.
"True, little girl, therefore we will see about starting at once. You see about packing my things, while I run up to town to get passports for the lot of us."
"Passports are not required for travelling," said Emily.
"Certainly not for travelling; but what can establish our identity better than passports signed by the British Secretary of State for foreign affairs?"
There was no answering this question; so Dick started off for London, while the rest busied themselves with preparations for a continental trip.
Within forty-eight hours they were crossing the Channel; six hours later they had entered Paris, where they took a brief rest, and then continued their journey towards Marseilles.
For just as they were starting Harkaway received a telegram from the consul at Marseilles—
"Come as soon as you possibly can, or you may be too late."
Need it be said that, after such a message, they lost no time in speeding to their destination?
MONSIEUR HOCQUART CLERMONT DELAMARRE—THE COINER AT HOME.
But what had the consul and the governor of the gaol been doing all this time?
When the consul first called upon the governor of the gaol, that official tried to laugh off the matter.
"Surely," said the governor, "you don't believe the tale these young fellows tell?"
"I am more than half inclined to do so, if only from the fact that the writer of this appears to have written several other letters which have miscarried. But why, may I ask, was I not informed that some of my countrymen had been arrested?"
"Well, my dear sir, their story seemed to me so absurd, that I did not think it worth while to trouble you."
"But they asked to see me."
"And I fear as you did not forward their request, I shall be obliged to mention your name, to our ambassador in Paris."
"For Heaven's sake do not! If such a thing were known to the minister of justice, I should lose my situation at once."
"Then if I am silent on this matter, you must render me every assistance in finding out the truth about these prisoners."
"Willingly. What can I do?"
"I should like to see the youth who calls himself Harkaway; but first of all, where is the gaoler who usually has charge of these prisoners?"
"Gone to his home, monsieur. The ordinary officials are, as you are doubtless aware, replaced by a military guard, between sunset and sunrise."
"Good, then oblige me by bringing him here."
So young Jack was brought into the presence of the consul, who closely questioned him as to what he had been doing in Marseilles.
He told the truth, and, in spite of the severe cross-examination by the governor and the consul, stuck to his tale.
"Humph!" said the consul. "You are consistent, at all events. Well, for the present, you may return to your cell, but don't tell even your friends that you have seen the British consul."
"I won't mention it, sir."
And Jack returned to his cell, escorted by the governor himself, as the consul did not wish anyone to know of the interview.
But when the governor returned, the consul said—
"Now, Monsieur Hocquart Delamarre, what do you think of the affair?"
The governor did not reply, but there quietly glided from behind a screen, which probably had concealed him during the interview, a man of middle age and height, with nothing at all striking in his appearance.
He might have passed for a clerk, a second-rate shopkeeper, or a superior artisan; anyone passing him in the street would have taken no notice whatever of such an everyday kind of a man.
Yet, after all, a very close observer would have noticed something very peculiar about him. His eyes!
One moment they seemed to pierce the inmost recesses of your very soul, yet when you tried, through them, to find a clue to their owner's thoughts, you were utterly defeated, for they became misty and expressionless.
"What do I think of the affair, monsieur?"
"Well, so early in the case, it is difficult to pronounce a decided opinion," said Delamarre.
"That is very true, Monsieur Delamarre," said the consul.
"But as your excellency has sought my professional assistance in this case, I feel my reputation is at stake, and shall exert myself to the utmost."
"Monsieur Delamarre is one of the cleverest gentlemen we have in this line of business," said the governor.
The middle-aged gentleman bowed.
"You are kind enough to say so, sir."
"You have made a good selection, Monsieur le Consul. In the detective police Monsieur Delamarre has few equals."
Again the detective bowed, and addressing the consul, said—
"When shall I next have the honour of waiting on you again, monsieur?"
"As soon as you have learned any thing you think of sufficient importance to tell me."
"At the consulate, of course?"
"Will it be safe for you to be seen there?"
"Monsieur, I stake my professional reputation that, when I call on you, you shall not recognise me till I choose to reveal myself. There is an extremely artful person mixed up in this affair, but I shall prove still more artful than any of them; take the word of Hocquart Clermont Delamarre."
With another bow the French detective made his exit.
He proceeded in the first place to his own temporary residence, where he made a considerable alteration in his personal appearance.
Then making straight for the quarter of the city mostly inhabited by the respectable working classes, he made a friendly call on Pierre Lenoir the coiner, who, as it will be remembered, the police had been unable to trace since his encounter with Herbert Murray and the waggoner.
A friendly call we have termed it, and so it seemed at first, for the detective and the criminal shook hands in the most friendly manner.
"Hullo, friend Clermont," exclaimed Lenoir, "what brings you from Paris!"
"Why, it was too hot for me there."
There was a pause.
"And you, too," continued the detective. "I have heard your name mentioned very much of late. How did that affair happen?"
Pierre Lenoir told his friend, whom of course he did not know as a detective, but merely as an associate with coiners and such like people, how he had been tricked by Markby.
"But I'll have his life, though."
"Doubtless. It will be a bad day for him when he falls into your hands."
Lenoir growled a fierce oath.
"He has escaped me for the present, but if I wait for years, I will have my revenge. Pierre Lenoir never forgives."
Unheedful of the coiner's anger, the detective stroked his moustache, and continued—
"But how about the prisoners up at the gaol yonder?"
"They are innocent."
"Then why are they in prison?"
"Because the only persons who can clear them are Markby and myself."
"Ah, I see!"
"And Markby for some reason or other won't clear them."
"Some old grudge, I suppose."
"Yes. However, they are innocent; when I tried them, they flatly refused to have anything to do with the game."
"Well, they are in a nice fix; but how did you manage to escape after that little affair with Markby and the peasant?'"
"Crawled into a bush as near as possible to the scene of the fight."
"If I had gone half a mile away, the police would no doubt have found me, but the thick-headed rascals never thought of looking only half a dozen yards off. Ha, ha, ha!"
The detective smiled grimly.
"They are thick-headed rascals."
And after a pause occupied in listening to sounds in the street, he repeated—
"And the English prisoners are entirely innocent then?"
"Now listen to me, Pierre Lenoir," continued the detective, rapping the table smartly as though to command attention. "But what a curious echo you have in this old room."
"I had not noticed it; but to continue."
"These English refused to have any thing to do with your business, you say?"
"Yes; and showed fight when I would have used force to detain them."
"Then if the judge knows that, the young fellows will be released?"
"Yes; but, my dear friend, it is not likely I shall go to the court to give evidence in their favour."
"I shall take you there."
There was something in his visitor's manner that made Lenoir first start from his seat and make a hasty movement towards the table.
But he recoiled when Hocquart Clermont Delamarre thrust a revolver in his face and exclaimed—
"If you make another movement towards that drawer where your pistols are, I will send a bullet through you. Keep your hands down by your side."
"What in the fiend's name does this mean?" gasped the coiner.
"It means that you are my prisoner."
"Then who are you?"
"You have known me as Clermont, but my real name is Delamarre."
The coiner gave a hasty look round the apartment, and then made a step towards the door.
But it instantly opened, and there appeared a police officer in uniform, who said—
"If you attempt to pass this door, you are a dead man."
It was not very high above the roadway, and one bold leap might yet bring liberty.
But, as if reading his very thoughts, Delamarre gave one of those peculiar raps on the table, which was again echoed from without, and instantly the figure of a policeman armed with a revolver was seen filling the casement.
That he knew was crossed by strong bars. No exit that way.
"Sit down, Pierre Lenoir."
The detective was provokingly cool, and the coiner gnashed his teeth with rage.
"Sit down, man; why, you ought to feel proud at being taken so neatly."
"Never mind. I have the finest and easiest pair of wristbands any gentleman in your line of business ever wore. Let me try them on."
Lenoir for a moment contemplated resistance, but two revolvers were close to his head, so second thoughts prevailed.
He was firmly handcuffed.
"Now, Pierre," said the detective, "listen to me, and I will quickly prove that I am a far better friend than you think me."
The coiner smiled a bitter smile.
"Of course it doesn't look so; but listen."
"I am compelled to," replied Lenoir.
"You can clear these English prisoners."
"If I choose to speak."
"If you choose to speak, the English consul will exert all his influence to procure a mitigation of your sentence—whatever it may be."
"But if you do not, why, the whole force of the British Embassy will be exerted against you; so I fancy your choice will soon be made."
Lenoir sat silent for some minutes.
"Have you made up your mind?" asked the detective at length.
"I don't see why I should speak; they belong to the same cursed country as that Markby."
"Well, don't you see how nicely things come round? You clear the prisoners, and by so doing incriminate Markby, alias Murray."
"Aye; but where is he?"
"In Marseilles. I am only waiting for a little more evidence before I lay my hands on him. He is a slippery customer, and it won't do to arrest him until the case is complete."
"Then, curse him, I'll tell all—nay, more, if you look in that drawer, where the pistols are, you know, you will find a note from him to me. That will be quite as good evidence as my word."
"Good, Lenoir. I can't promise you a free pardon, but I fancy you will get off lightly."
"I hope I may be sent to the same galley as Murray, alias Markby, has to serve; and if I am only chained to the same oar I shall be happy."
"I will find an early opportunity, and then I will kill him."
"No, Lenoir; that will not be the way to shorten your sentence."
"I'll kill him."
"No; lead him a life of misery and dread while he is chained to the oar. What you do when you are both released is a matter I have no present concern with."
"March, then; let us be going."
And the coiner walked gaily away, his anger at being captured having been replaced by joy, at the hopes of avenging himself on the treacherous Markby, alias Murray.
Hocquart Clermont Delamarre himself walked arm-in-arm with the coiner, and the good people of Marseilles knew not that he had been taken.
Even in the gaol he was entered under an assumed name.
The gaoler, who had been in attendance on the English party, could not understand why his prisoners wrote no more letters to the English consul or their relatives in England, and Herbert Murray almost suspected the truth when he chanced, the day after losing the letter, to look for it.
But Chivey reassured him.
"I went all over your clothes and my own this morning afore you was up, guv'nor, and burnt every one of the letters I could find."
"What for?" demanded Murray.
"In case of accidents. It would not do us any good to have them things found on us; and nobody ever knows what is going to turn up."
THE ESCORT—THE TRIAL.
"Marseilles at last!" exclaimed Dick Harvey, as the train came to a standstill.
"I thought we were never to end our journey," said little Emily.
However, they quickly got clear of the railway station, engaged apartments at an hotel, and then, without waiting to eat or drink, made their way towards the gaol.
"I wonder what house that is with the Union Jack flying over it," said Mrs. Harkaway, as they passed along a street near the harbour.
"The British consulate very likely," said her husband "We had better call there."
But the consul was not at home.
"Do you know where he is gone?" asked Harvey of the servant.
"Why, sir, there are some Englishmen to be tried to-day for coining, and he is gone to watch the case."
"Yes, sir; in fact, the trial will commence in ten minutes," replied the man, after consulting his watch.
"Where does the trial take place?"
"The second turning on the left, sir. The hall of justice is a large building just round the corner."
"Come along, then," said Harkaway; "there is no time to lose."
They hurried along the street at a rate that made the French people stare.
Paquita was the first of the party to turn the corner, and she had no sooner done so than she exclaimed—
"There they are."
And running between a file of soldiers, threw her arms round Harry Girdwood's neck.
Little Emily would have followed her example, but the officer in charge of the escort would not permit any such irregular conduct, and Paquita was compelled to rejoin her friends.
"Hurrah, dad!" exclaimed young Jack; "I knew you would turn up in time. And, mamma, how pale you are looking."
"Can you wonder at it, my boy, considering the anxiety we have all suffered?"
"Mr. Mole, Mr. Mole," exclaimed Dick Harvey, shaking his head, "I am surprised indeed to hear that you have taken to counterfeit coining."
"Harvey, this is really no joking matter," replied Mole.
"No, it will be no joke when you are chained to the oar in one of those galleys down in the harbour."
"Stand back, ladies and gentlemen, if you please," exclaimed the officer commanding the escort. "I cannot allow any communication with my prisoners."
So they were obliged to keep at a distance.
At that moment a portly, elderly gentleman, who had been watching the scene, came up, saying—
"Have I the honour of addressing Mr. Harkaway?"
"That is my name, sir."
"I am the English consul."
Our old hero at once seized him by the hand, saying—
"Sir, words are powerless to express how grateful I am for your interference on behalf of my boy."
"Don't mention it, sir, I only did as I am instructed to do in all such cases."
"But about the trial; what chance does that young scapegrace stand?"
"There is very little doubt that he will be acquitted, as we have the best of evidence in his favour. But come along, sir, let us get into court."
The consul led the way into the hall of justice, and placed the Harkaway party among the audience in such a position that they could see all that was going on, without being conspicuous themselves.
Then they waited patiently till the judge arrived.
While our young hero's father and friends were thus entering Marseilles, two people were trying to leave that city.
These were Herbert Murray and his friend Chivey.
"There ain't no use in stoppin' 'ere, guv'nor," the latter had said. "We can see by the papers what they gets."
"You are right, Chivey; we will get away for a time."
"We can come back an' see 'em when they are fairly fixed, you know."
"Well, pack up, and we'll just take a trip to Paris for a week."
Their portmanteaus were quickly got ready, and a vehicle was engaged to take them to the railway station.
But when they alighted, and were about to take their tickets, a very polite police officer tapped Murray on the shoulder, and said—
"I much regret to have to ask monsieur to postpone his journey."
"I must request Monsieur to defer his visit to Paris till after the trial of the English coiners."
"What has that to do with me?"
"The judge may desire your presence, monsieur; he may wish to hear your evidence."
"It may be; but I am compelled to say that I cannot permit you to leave Marseilles to-day, and I must request you to accompany me back to the hall of justice."
"We are prisoners, then?"
"By no means. Only the law requires your presence, and the law, you know, must be obeyed, monsieur?"
Chivey had not taken part in the conversation, but had been looking round for a good chance of escaping.
"You, of course, will accompany your friend?" said the detective, tapping him on the shoulder.
"Must, I suppose," responded Chivey, who noticed several other policeman were loitering about the station.
So, with a very bad grace, the two intending excursionists walked back to the hall of justice.
The English prisoners had already been brought into the hall, and the trial had commenced.
It certainly seemed at first that our young hero had got himself into a bad fix, for the evidence was much against him.
The police had captured them in Lenoir's workshop.
They had been seen in conversation with him not only there, but at the café the police had been warned of their nefarious doings and so forth.
"Have you any witnesses to call, prisoner?" ask the judge, addressing young Jack.
"Yes, Monsieur le Juge; and the first of them is Pierre Lenoir. Let him be called."
"What folly is this?" demanded the judge, sternly.
"I ask that Pierre Lenoir shall be summoned to give evidence," repeated young Jack, who had been told by Delamarre what line of defence to adopt.
"Do you think he will respond if called?"
"If he does not respond, I shall derive no benefit from his evidence."
"Let Pierre Lenoir be called," said the judge, rather angrily.
And Pierre Lenoir was called by an officer of the court.
The answer was clear and distinct.
And the next moment Pierre Lenoir, escorted by two gensdarmes, marched into the court-room.
Chivey touched Murray on the arm, and both had an idea of sneaking away.
But the polite and attentive officer who had brought them back from the railway, stood in the doorway, and was evidently watching them.
In fact, he spoke to them.
"Things are getting interesting, gentlemen," said he; "it was worth losing a train to see such a dramatic trial as this promises to be."
"Interferes with our business, rather."
"Not so much, monsieur. But hush!"
The evidence of Pierre Lenoir was then taken.
The public prosecutor objected at first to his evidence; but it was urged by the counsel for the defence that although accused of many offences, he was at present convicted of none, and therefore was entitled to full credence.
"Your name is Pierre Lenoir?" asked Jack's counsel.
"Do you know the prisoners?"
"Say when you met them."
"I met them at my own house where they came by invitation to see some specimens of my skill as a medal engraver."
"Did those Englishmen assist you in any way to pass counterfeit coin?"
"Neither of those Englishmen; but that man did."
And turning half round, he pointed at the wretched Murray, alias Markby.
And at the same time the affable police officer drew nearer, smiling more blandly than ever.
"'Tis false!" shrieked the wretched Murray.
"The public must maintain silence in the court," said the judge.
"It's a base lie!" exclaimed Murray.
"The officer of the court will arrest the disorderly person."
The smiling gendarme at once swooped down on his prey.
"That man," continued Lenoir, "not only passed bad money for me, but he persuaded me that the prisoners would do so also. But when I introduced myself and tried to get them to join me, they absolutely refused."
The public prosecutor tried in vain to shake his story, but he positively adhered to every word he had spoken.
Then Harkaway senior was called upon, and he in conjunction with the banker proved that there was no need whatever for the prisoners to commit such an offence, as by simply signing his name young Jack could draw far more francs than the judge's yearly salary amounted to.
The counsel for the defence then challenged the prosecution to produce any evidence that the prisoners had passed bad money, and the public prosecutor was obliged to confess that he could not do so.
Whereupon the judge remarked that the prosecution had utterly failed, and directed the prisoners to be discharged.
But Lenoir and Murray were directed to be kept in separate cells till they could be tried, and Chivey was ordered like accommodation.
And having now plenty of time for reflection, Herbert Murray sat with irons on his arms and legs, thinking dolefully over the past, and thinking whether, after all, honesty would not have proved the best policy.
A LAST VIEW OF MURRAY AND CHIVEY.
"Hurrah, my boy! Now, then, one and all. Hip, hip, hip——"
The peal that burst from the throats of the reunited English party fairly astonished the assembled crowd of citizens who were flocking out of the hall of justice.
And then such a shaking of hands and kissing!
The latter form of insanity at length became infectious, and the two black imps Tinker and Bogey insisted on pressing a chaste salute on Mr. Mole's coy lips, to the intense amusement of the bystanders.
"Get out, you black devils!" exclaimed he.
"Why, Massa Mole, we been good friends dis long time in dat 'ere ole prison; you isn't a-gwine to turn round on de poor niggahs now we's got out."
"Get away. Never mind, don't get away; I'm not proud—hurrah!"
In his excitement Mr. Mole threw his battered hat a great height into the air, but slipping while so doing, he sat down upon the pavement rather violently.
"Sac-r-r-r-ré! seize that old villain!"
The indignant command came from a mounted officer in charge of a considerable body of soldiers.
While directing the movements of his men, drawn sword in hand, down came Mole's chapeau on the point of the deadly weapon, which went through the crown, and the lining getting entangled with the hilt, it could not be very readily moved.
And, of course, the French spectators at once began laughing to see the rather absurd situation of the officer.
Mole would certainly have been dragged off again had not the British consul once more interposed.
"Monsieur le Colonel, I hasten to assure you that it was an accident," he said.
"I will not be insulted by accident; arrest him!"
"But consider, sir, you have no crime to urge against him."
"Bah, what care I?"
"He will apologise."
"Of course he will," said Harvey, thinking it time to interpose. "Here, where are you, Mr. Mole?"
"Down here, sitting on the other end of me," responded the ex-tutor in very doleful accents.
"An apology!" said the excited officer, who had dismounted, and was brandishing his weapon as though about to sacrifice Mole.
But poor Mole seemed altogether too confused to say the soothing words required, so the consul again interfered.
"Really, Monsieur le Colonel, this poor gentleman seems to have sustained some severe injury. You will see he has lost both legs in a series of heroic actions, the particulars of which I have not time to give you, but accept my assurance that the affair of the hat was entirely an accident."
"Lost legs in action! Ah, then it becomes my duty to apologise for the hasty language I have used to a brave soldier."
As things were changing a little, Mole thought it time to become conscious, and with the aid of Tinker and Bogey, he struggled to his feet.
"Monsieur," continued the officer, "I withdraw my words."
"Enough said, my dear sir," responded Mole; "let the matter drop, I pray."
The officer gave a military salute, restored the perforated hat to its owner, and rejoined his men.
"Really imprisonment seems to have no effect on you, Mr. Mole," said Harvey; "you begin your old pranks the moment you are released."
"What do you mean?"
"Why, you pass yourself off as an old soldier."
"No, it was our good friend the consul."
"Well, you allowed the colonel to deceive himself."
"It's all the result of my really martial aspect, my dear boy."
And Mole hobbled on, trying to sustain his military appearance.
Our friends did not at once leave Marseilles.
They were informed that perhaps they might be required to give evidence against Murray, so they took up their residence in the best hotel of the place and waited, the elders of the party being perfectly content now that the youngsters had regained their liberty.
However, as events turned out, they were not called upon to attend the trial of the shipowner's son, as Monsieur Hocquart Clermont Delamarre and his assistants managed to pile up quite sufficient proof to convince the judge of Herbert Murray's guilt.
He, Lenoir, and Chivey, who certainly was not so deeply involved as his master, were sentenced to serve ten years each in the galleys.
Lenoir's original sentence was fifteen years, but the promised intercession of the consul was effectual in shortening it to ten.
There was, however, another trial, at which young Jack and Harry Girdwood were requested to attend, and the prisoner in this case was the gaoler to whom they had entrusted their letters to the consul.
He being clearly convicted of receiving bribes from prisoners, was sentenced to two years' imprisonment, and so retires from the scene.
Young Jack, his parents, Harry Girdwood, Harvey, little Emily, and Paquita were taking a walk in the neighborhood of the harbour one morning, when they became aware of a very dismal-looking procession coming down the road from the prison.
First of all came half a dozen soldiers, trailing their rifles, which were evidently loaded and ready for instant use.
Then, in single file, about a yard behind each other, and every man with his right leg attached by a ring to a long chain that extended the entire length of the party, came ten men clad in garments of very coarse serge, and with closely-cropped heads.
The instant he saw them in the distance, young Jack guessed what it meant, and pointed the gang out to the others.
"Let us get away if we can," said he.
"Why?" asked Harvey.
"Because it will look as though we came here simply to gloat over their disgrace," replied Jack.
"Right, my boy."
But there was no way of avoiding them, as there was no turning out of the street, and all the house doors were closed, so they were compelled to see all.
First of all came seven of the lowest-looking ruffians in creation, villains whose countenances were expressive of nothing but brutality and vice; the eighth was Chivey, whose cheeks bore traces of tears, and the ninth was Pierre Lenoir, who walked erect and proud as Lucifer, except when he made a half turn about as though he would like to strangle Herbert Murray, who walked with tottering steps at the end of the chain.
"Poor fellows!" said Mrs. Harkaway.
"They deserve it," exclaimed her husband and Harvey, simultaneously. "They tried to get our boys the very punishment that has overtaken them."
Our friends, however, had seen enough, and did not care to witness what followed.
If they had gone inside the harbour gates, they might have seen three or four very long sharp-bowed vessels moored to the quay or lying at anchor a little way out.
Neither mast nor sail had these vessels, but from each side projected a dozen or more of gigantic oars larger than those used by Thames bargemen.
Had they gone down to the harbour they would presently have seen chained up, two of them to each oar, but with their feet so far at liberty that they could move backwards and forwards three paces.
Then they would have heard the word of command given, and would have seen the poor slaves tugging away at the oars till the huge craft was sweeping rapidly out to sea, while the galley-master walking up and down between the two rows of oarsmen, gave blows of his whip on the right hand or the left when he saw a man flagging, or an oar that did not swing in unison with the rest.
Such was the fate to which the career of crime had brought the son of the once respected shipowner Murray.
Slavery from morn till night, beneath a broiling sun, or exposed to cold, rain, and hail, the coarsest of black bread and lentil pottage, formed his scanty meal; his associates the lowest type of humanity.
And even over and above such a hard lot there fell upon his heart the craven fear some day that Lenoir, who was chained to the next oar, would break loose and kill him.
Many would have preferred death to such slavery, but Herbert Murray feared to die.
"Hollo, Englishman, faster!" the galley-master would shout. And then his whip or cane would sharply visit poor Murray's shoulders.
And the chuckling voice of Lenoir would be heard, exclaiming—
"Ah, traitor! this is nothing to what you will suffer when I have my chance for revenge."
TERRIBLE RAILWAY ACCIDENT.
Three days after Murray and Chivey embarked on their dreary voyage the Harkaway party quitted Marseilles.
The waiter and the diver, so long young Jack's companions in adventure, preferred remaining at Marseilles.
They had no home ties, and had so long been accustomed to a wandering Continental life, that they had no great desire to settle down quietly in England.
However, Harkaway senior made them a handsome present each, and he also presented Monsieur Hocquart Clermont Delamarre with a very substantial proof of his esteem and gratitude, and the detective was further gratified by receiving from the two young ladies, Paquita and Emily, a handsomely-mounted carte de visite portrait.
"And now for home!" exclaimed our young hero.
"You will be sorry when you get there, won't you?" said Emily.
"No, dear; why should I be?"
"Because in England you can't go on as you have been doing, running away with fair Circass——"
There was nobody looking, so Jack took the liberty of cutting the reproach short with a kiss.
"You must not say any thing more about that, dear Emily; and, after all, I don't think you would have approved of my leaving her to the mercy of those Turks."
"That I should not, Jack."
The youth then handed his young sweetheart into one of the vehicles in waiting, and off they started for the railway, where they found they had to wait ten minutes.
To occupy the time they strolled up and down the platform.
Suddenly Harry Girdwood exclaimed—
"Why, where is Mr. Mole? Did he come in your carriage, Jack?"
"No; I thought he was with you."
"Left behind, by Jove!" exclaimed Harvey.
"Serve him right if I left him behind entirely," said Harkaway senior, rather angrily.
He was on the point of sending one of the porters back to the hotel, when Mr. Mole appeared.
Now there were two things that had delayed him.
One was that on the very morning Mr. Mole had mounted a new pair of artificial legs made by the very best surgical instrument maker in Marseilles.
Some time had been taken over the proper adjustment of these.
For the second reason—Mr. Mole had discovered that the hotel cellars contained some excellent brandy, and he had been taking a parting glass with the Irish diver before commencing his journey.
And as he now made his appearance on the railway platform, he was any thing but steady on his new legs.
"Better late than never, Mr. Mole," said Harvey.
"I am not late."
"Yes, sir. Two minutes more, and the train will be here."
An engine was in fact at that moment shunting some carriages which were to be attached to the train.
Mr. Mole turned on hearing the noise of the approaching locomotive.
But being, as aforesaid, slightly unsteady on his legs, he fell.
Fell right across the metals.
"Oh! help!" he cried.
But before anyone could stir, the engine was upon him.
The porters shouted, the ladies screamed with fright.
"Oh, Heaven! is it not horrible?" exclaimed a French man. "Did you not hear the bones crash as the wheels went over his legs?"
"Over his legs," shouted Harvey. "Ha, ha! if that is all, it does not matter much."
The engine stopped, and Mole was rescued from his perilous position.
He had fainted, but a glass of water restored him.
"Are you hurt, old man?" asked Dick.
"No; I think not. It's only my legs, nothing else."
"Great Heaven, what a narrow escape!"
"So it is; but here is a nuisance, both my legs cut clean off, six inches above the ankle."
"Here, porter, put this gentleman in a first-class carriage," said Harkaway senior.
"But, monsieur, he must be taken to the hospital; the surgeon is close at hand."
"Doctor be hanged! This gentleman must go to Paris by the next train."
The porters, being evidently unwilling to touch Mr. Mole, Harkaway said—
"Here, lend a hand, old man."
"All right," responded Harvey.
The pair of them immediately hoisted Mr. Mole into the carriage, the others took their seats, the engineer blew his whistle, and off they went.
To complete the horror of the spectators, who admired Mole's fortitude, and loathed the apparent barbarity of his friends, as the train was moving off, Harvey was plainly seen to cut off the old gentleman's shattered limbs, and pitch them into some empty goods waggons that were going in another direction.
"What horrid barbarians!" was the general exclamation of the bewildered spectators of the strange scene.
"A pretty object you have made of me certainly," grumbled Mole, looking down at his curtailed legs.
"Your own fault, Mr. Mole," responded Harvey.
"Lucky it was not your head, Mr. Mole," said young Jack.
"You are all against me, I see, but it does not matter."
So saying, Mole took out his pocket flask and was about to refresh himself.
But Harkaway senior, stretching out his hand, took the flask.
"No, Mr. Mole; if you have any more, I fear we shall have a more serious accident. So not a drop till the first time we stop."
"Why, this is a mail train, and only stops about every two hours."
"And I am quite sure you can exist without brandy for that little time."
"Well, I suppose I may smoke then?"
"Certainly; you shall have one of my best regalias."
Mr. Mole took the weed, and puffed away rather sulkily.
They had got about eight miles from Marseilles when suddenly the engine slackened speed, and the train drew up at a little roadside station.
"What does this mean?" said Harvey. "We ought not to stop here."
"This is our first stopping place, however, so I'll trouble you for my flask, according to promise," said Mole, with a beaming countenance.
Harkaway handed it over and was settling back again when he heard a police official asking—
"Where is the gentleman who was run over at Marseilles?"
"Here," said Harkaway.
The gendarme ran to the spot, and to his intense surprise saw the victim of the accident in the act of taking a hearty drink from his brandy flask while his left hand held a lighted cigar.
"What do you want?" demanded Mole.
"The officials at Marseilles, unable to stop the train, telegraphed to me to see that you had proper medical attendance."
"Ha, ha, ha! look here, old boy; I always carry my own physic. Taste it."
The officer took the flask, and finding that the smell was familiar, applied it to his lips.
"The fact is," said Harkaway, "the gentleman was wearing wooden legs, and they only were damaged."
"Indeed; then you think that you are able to proceed on your journey, sir?"
"Yes, if you will leave me some of my medicine."
The gendarme bowed, handed back the flask, and the train rolled away.
"Paris at last," exclaimed Harvey.
"That's a good job, for I am tired of sitting, and want to stretch my legs; don't you, Mr. Mole?" said young Jack.
"Don't be ridiculous, Jack," replied Mr. Mole.
Harkaway senior, who had been looking out of the window, drew in his head and said—
"Well, Mr. Mole, you are in a nice fix."
"I don't see any——"
"My dear Mr. Harkaway, now if you were without legs, would not you swear?"
"Can't say, having the proper number of pins."
"You'll have to walk," said Harvey. "There's not a cab in the station."
"But how can I walk?"
"Don't you remember the hero in the ballad of Chevy Chase?"
"Who was he?"
"The song says Witherington, but we will call him Mole."
"'For Mole, indeed, my heart is woe,
As one in doleful dumps;
For when his feet were cut away,
He walked upon his stumps.'"
By this time the train had stopped, and all the party got out, except Mole.
As Harkaway had said, there was no vehicle in the station nor outside of it, so Mr. Mole was obliged to remain till his friends could hit upon some plan for removing him.
A porter was the first to make a suggestion.
"An artificial limb maker lives opposite, monsieur," said he.
"If I carried monsieur over, he might have some—ah—substitutes fitted on."
"A capital idea!" exclaimed Harvey; "over with him." And before Mole could remonstrate, he was hoisted to the porter's shoulders, and trotted across the street.
Great was the joy of the Parisian gamins at having such a sight provided for their amusement.
Mole, however, bravely bore the chaff, half of which he did not understand.
The maker of artificial limbs soon fitted poor Mole with a pair of legs.
No sooner had he stood upon them than his friends burst out in a loud laugh.
"What is the matter with you?" demanded Mr. Mole, who felt inclined to stand on his dignity as well as on his new legs.
"Ha, ha, ha!"
"I wonder you don't remember what Goldsmith says," continued Mole.
"What does he say, Mr. Mole?"
"Don't you remember that line about 'the loud laugh that speaks the vacant mind.' I fear your mind must be very vacant, Mr. Harvey."
"He had you there, Uncle Dick," said young Jack.
"Pooh! But look at his legs."
"Ha, ha, ha!" laughed young Jack in turn.
Mr. Mole's trousers, it will be recollected, had been cut away below the knees immediately after his railway accident, and now he stood in a pair of nicely-varnished boots, above which could be seen the various springs and hinges of his mechanical limbs.
The trouser legs were not longer in proportion than a small boy's knickerbockers.
By this time, however, a cab or two had turned up, and, the ladies having been fetched from the railway waiting-room, the whole party proceeded to one of the many good hotels Paris possesses.
The third evening after their arrival, young Jack and Harry Girdwood strolled out together.
They no doubt would have enjoyed the company of the two girls, but little Emily and Paquita had been roving about the town all day long, and were too tired to go out that evening.
"What is this place, Jack?" asked Harry, as they both paused in front of a narrow, but brilliantly-lighted doorway.
"A shooting gallery, I fancy."
"Shall we go in?"
"Certainly; but I don't fancy the French are very great 'shootists,' as the Yankees say."
"All the more fun, perhaps."
And without more talk, the youngsters walked in.
It was a long room, divided by slight partitions into four different galleries, and at the end of each of these was a target in the shape of a doll.
After watching others for a time, Harry took half a dozen shots at one of the figures, which he struck four times.
Young Jack then tried, and was equally successful.
"Good shooting, young gentlemen," said one of the spectators, an Englishman; "but if you want to see real pistol practice, look at this Frenchman."
And he pointed to a tall, dark man who was just preparing to fire.
The target he had before him was not a little doll like the others, but a full-sized lay figure dressed in black, closely buttoned up, and holding in its hand an empty pistol pointed towards the live shooter.
"He is a noted duellist," said the Englishman, "and has killed more than one adversary."
Jack and Harry looked at him with considerable curiosity, with which was mixed a tinge of loathing.
The duellist had brought his own pistols, one of which he carefully loaded, and having placed himself in position, rapidly aimed and fired.
Instantly the lay figure showed a spot of white on its black coat, which, after all, was only made of a kind of paste or varnish, which chipped off when struck by the bullet.
"Straight to the heart," said the Englishman.
"That's good shooting," exclaimed Harry Girdwood.
The Frenchman fired again, making an equally good shot.
When he had fired ten, young Jack for the first time broke silence.
"I don't believe he could do that in the field with a live adversary and a loaded pistol opposite him."
The Frenchman again pulled the trigger, but the eleventh shot flew wide of the mark.
Almost foaming with passion at having missed his aim, he dashed the weapon to the ground.
"I must request the gentleman who spoke to stand the test."
"With great pleasure," responded Jack, coolly.
The Frenchman stared at the speaker.
"Bah! I don't fight with boys."
"Then I shall proclaim to all Paris that you are a cur, and try to back out of a quarrel when your challenge is accepted."
"Very well, then, you shall die in the morning. Henri,"—this to a friend—"arrange with the English boy's second if he has one; if he has not, find him one."
The Englishman who had previously spoken at once stepped forward and offered his services.
"Although," said he, "I should much prefer to see this affair settled peacefully."
"I am entirely in your hands, sir," responded Jack.
And he retired to the other side of the room.
"Jack, Jack! what demon possessed you to get into such a mess?"
"No demon, Harry, but some of my father's hot blood. He was always very prompt to accept a challenge."
"He will not let you fight."
"He will not know till it is settled. Listen to me, Harry, if you tell him or anyone else, or try to stop the plan that my second may propose, I swear I'll never speak to you again."
"But you stand every chance of being killed."
"Harry, we have both of us faced death many times, and I am sure I am not going to turn my back on a Frenchman."
Poor Harry could say nothing more.
The Englishman rejoined them.
"I can't get that fellow to accept an apology——!"
"That's right," interposed Jack.
His second looked surprised at the youth's coolness, and continued—
"So I must parade you in the Bois de Boulogne at sunrise. It's about an hour's drive."
"Where shall we meet you?"
The second hesitated, and then named a time and place.
"Now," said Jack, "I will go and have a little sleep; not at home, but somewhere in this neighbourhood."
They went to a respectable hotel close by, and Jack, having made a few simple arrangements (including a message to Emily), in case of being killed, laid himself on his bed, and was soon slumbering peacefully.
About a quarter of an hour after the sun had risen, they were all upon the ground.
Jack and Harry with their second, and the Frenchman with his.
There was also a surgeon present.
Little time was lost.
The pistols were loaded, according to previous arrangement between the two seconds, with a lighter charge than usual, so that Jack might possibly escape with only a flesh wound instead of having a hole drilled right through him.
The combatants were then placed half facing each other, fifteen paces apart.
"There is a grave suspicion afloat that your adversary has an ugly knack of pulling the trigger half a second too soon," whispered Jack's second, "so I am going to give him a caution."
A pistol was placed in the hand of each, and then Jack's second spoke.
"Listen, gentlemen. You will fire when I give the word three. If either pulls the trigger before that word is pronounced, it will be murder."
He looked at the Frenchman, and then counted—
"One, two, three!"
But before the word "three" had fully passed his lips, the Frenchman's pistol was discharged.
Young Jack, however, prepared for such a trick, had just a moment before turned full towards him and stared him in the face.
This manœuvre was entirely successful.
The Frenchman's unfair, murderous aim was disconcerted, and his bullet whistled harmlessly past our hero's ear.
Jack then deliberately levelled his pistol at the Frenchman, who trembled violently, and showed every symptom of the most abject terror.
"I thought so," exclaimed Jack. "A vile coward as well as a murderer."
And he discharged his own pistol in the air.
"Why did you not shoot the villain?" exclaimed Harry Girdwood, the surgeon, and Jack's second simultaneously.
"It would be doing him too much honour, gentlemen. I leave him to the hangman."
"You should have killed him," growled the surgeon, glancing after the discomfited duellist, who was sneaking off, unattended even by his own second.
"I don't feel bloodthirsty just at present, and I have proved the words that gave rise to the challenge."
"That is true, but some other poor devil may not be so lucky."
"I fancy after this morning's exposé anyone may refuse to go out with him without fear of dishonour."
"True; that is one good thing."
They re-entered their carriage and returned to Paris.
Just as young Jack alighted from the vehicle, he found himself seized by the collar and shaken violently.
He turned hastily.
"You young rascal!" exclaimed Harkaway senior, "where have you been all night?"
"Why—I—I arranged to go out early in the morning for a drive with this gentleman and Harry, so I took a room here at this hotel so as to be close to the rendezvous."
"That is the truth, but not all the truth. Sir, may I ask you the object of your very early excursion with my son?"
"Well, sir, the fact is, this young gentleman became involved last night in a little dispute which necessitated an exchange of pistol shots, and your son, I must say, behaved in a most gallant manner."
"Not touched, Jack?"
"Did you shoot t'other fellow?"
"No, father; I only shoot game—human or brute. I leave gamekeepers and hangmen to exterminate vermin."
"Well, now, cut along home. Your mother is in no end of a funk about you."
So Jack went home, and, having explained the reason of his absence, was soon forgiven by all, except little Emily, who boxed his ears, declaring it was evident he did not care about her, or he would not have risked his life in such a manner.
Then she refused, for a whole hour, to speak to him; at the expiration of which time she kissed him, and asked his pardon for having shown such bad temper.
"All right, Em. You're a brick."
"Don't talk slang, sir."
That same evening they left Paris, and at an early hour the next morning were in London.
"LAST SCENE OF ALL, THAT ENDS THIS STRANGE, EVENTFUL HISTORY."
"What do you think you are going to be? I mean what business or profession?"
This conversation took place about a week after their return to England.
"Would you like to be a doctor or a lawyer, or become a great financier in the City?" continued Harkaway senior.
"Neither of those, thank you. I have been too much used to plenty of fresh air and exercise to settle down to an indoor occupation; the sea is my choice."
"It is not your mother's choice, so you may just give up that notion at once and for ever."
"Well, next to that I should like to have a nice compact farm of about six hundred acres in a part of the country where there is good shooting, hunting and fishing."
"Ah, that's better."
"Then we'll consider that settled, dad."
"Yes; but you must finish your education first; that has been much neglected."
So the result was that both young Jack and Harry Girdwood were sent to reside for a year with a clergyman, who was also a farmer, and, who undertook, while improving their general education, to give them a practical knowledge of agriculture.
The year passed away, and the two young men returned home for a brief holiday before settling down, for Harry was also to be a farmer, Dick Harvey having undertaken to put him into a farm.
They were sitting at breakfast one morning when two letters were brought, both with foreign postmarks.
Harkaway senior opened them.
"This concerns you, my dear," said he to Paquita.
"How so?" asked the girl.
"It is from your father. And you must prepare to hear bad news."
"He is dead! he is dead!" she exclaimed, bursting into tears.
When some time had passed, she was calmed sufficiently to hear the letter read.
It was a deathbed letter, in which the writer stated that, remembering the noblehearted Englishman, Harkaway, he appointed him sole trustee of his wealth, to be given as a marriage portion to Paquita.
Documents were enclosed to put Harkaway in possession of the writer's riches and he concluded by praying Heaven to bless his daughter.
A postscript was added in a different hand.
"The writer of this died on the 4th of April last, the day after he signed this letter and the enclosed documents which are witnessed by me."
"Antonio Delavat, Surgeon."
Paquita's grief at the death of her father was great, but in little Emily and Mrs. Harkaway she found two comforters who did their best to assuage her sorrows.
But the other letter.
"Why, this is from our old Australian friend, Rook!" exclaimed Harkaway.
"Yes. And this is what Rook has to say for himself.
"'If ever a man had reason to be grateful to another, surely I have cause to bless the day I met you. For thanks to you, I am no longer an outcast, but have atoned for the past—aye, and refunded with interest that sum of money which was the cause of my being sent here. Through your kindness I was enabled to go into business as a farmer, and I have prospered so that I am now one of the richest men in this part of Australia; but I owe all my prosperity to you, so I will not boast of it. Being better educated than many of the settlers, I have been appointed magistrate for the district; but whenever I can be lenient without being unjust, I humble myself, remember what I once was, and try to give the culprit another chance. Heaven has greatly prospered me, and I pray that Heaven's blessings may rest on you and yours.'"
"Bravo, Rook!" said Harvey and Harry Girdwood.
"What are you thinking about, Jack!" asked Harry, a day or two after.
"About old Mole."
"What about him?"
"Why, we haven't had a good lark with him since we left Marseilles."
"The old man will get rusty if we don't wake him up a little."
"Well, what is your idea?"
"Haven't any at the present; but something will turn up."
And something did turn up that very day.
Now it should be known that Mole, although he passed the greater time with his old friends, had taken a small cottage close by so that he might not entirely wear out their hospitality.
He generally slept there, but spent his days with the Harkaways.
Jack and Harry called upon the old man, and were admitted to his presence, as he was putting the finishing touches to his toilet.
This consisted in anointing his bald head with some wonderful fluid, warranted to produce a luxuriant growth of hair.
This gave the youths an idea, and having invited him to dinner, they departed to carry out their joke.
All passed off pleasantly during the evening, but Jack and Harry were absent about an hour. During that time they procured access to Mole's premises, and having emptied his bottle of hair restorer, filled the phial with liquid glue, after which they returned to the house.
"I must go early," said Mr. Mole, rising. "I have to attend court as a juryman in the morning."
"Then you won't be able to dress your hair properly," said Jack.
"Oh, yes; I shall put on a good dose before I leave home, that will last till evening," replied Mole.
He went home, but overslept himself, and had to dress in a hurry.
Mole had got to the door, when he remembered the hair restorer, and going back, applied a plentiful dose with a sponge.
He reached the court very hot.
By that time the glue had set, and he found he could not remove his hat.
"Isaac Mole!" shouted the official who was calling the jury.
"Here!" replied Mole, as he rushed to the box.
A murmur of astonishment was heard.
"Hats off in court!" shouted the usher.
"Everyone must be uncovered in court."
"But, I assure you, I can't——"
"Are you a Quaker?" demanded the judge.
"No; but I wish to explain that I kept my hat on because——"
"I can not listen to any excuse except the one I mentioned. Take off your hat instantly."
"But I say I kept it on because——"
"This is intolerable. Do you mean to insult the court! Take your hat off instantly, or I will fine you for contempt."
"Well, I must say it's hard I can't say a word."
"You are fined five pounds, and if you don't remove your hat——"
"I want to explain."
"Officer, remove that man's hat."
The tipstaff approached Mole and hit the offending hat with his stick, but it did not move.
Then he struck it harder, and the crown went in.
"This is too bad!" screamed Mole.
But the tipstaff was wroth, and picking up a large law book smashed it flat.
This was too much for Mole.
"You mutton-headed idiot, if you and the judge had a particle of sense, you would know that I did not remove my hat, because I couldn't. It is glued on."
Mole, however, was led away in custody and a fresh juryman sworn.
But Jack and Harry, who had been highly amused spectators, thought the joke had gone far enough, so they tipped a solicitor through whom an explanation was made, and Mole was released. He also got off serving on the jury.
They left the court together.
But another surprise was in store for them.
"How are you, gentlemen?" said a very familiar voice, and, lo! Figgins the orphan stood before them.
Figgins had not remained in Marseilles like the others, and therefore, had escaped being arrested for counterfeit coining.
He reached London in safety, and having taken the upper part of a house within half a mile of St. Paul's Cathedral, resolved never more to trust himself beyond the City boundaries.
Yet, in his retirement, his conscience pricked him for having left so hurriedly the friends who had rescued him from many a danger.
And Mole, too, his own particular travelling companion.
"I must go and see him once more," thought the orphan.
So one fine day he plucked up courage to venture a short journey on an English railway, and knowing where the elder Harkaway lived, was speedily instructed how to find Mole.
So now behold him shaking hands all round.
"I thought I must see you once more," said he, "but it is a great undertaking, you know, for my travels made me more timid than ever I was."
"Timid?" ejaculated Mole; "why, on one or two occasions you displayed bravery almost equal to my own."
"Mildly, Mr. Mole," said Jack.
"Ah, Mr. Harkaway, you three gentlemen are brave men, but I am only a poor timid orphan."
"That need not make you timid."
"But it does. So I have resolved never to trust myself out of London again."
"Then I am afraid we shall not meet very often, Mr. Figgins," said Mole, "for I, you know, hate town life."
"If you do come to town, though, you will call?"
"Then, gentlemen, I will wish you farewell. I am deeply grateful for all you did when we were abroad——"
"Don't mention it."
"Mr. Mole, farewell. You know I feel more like an orphan than ever now I am parting from you."
"Don't talk like that, Figgins," said Mole.
"I can't help it, indeed, I can't. Farewell, my dear friend, farewell!"
And Figgins retired to his City home, where he still lives, though he is getting very feeble.
Still, he brightens up whenever he speaks of his old friend and travelling companion, Mole.
It is hard to part with old friends, but the decrees of fate cannot be avoided, so we must conclude our story.
It will be hardly necessary, we fancy, to inform our readers that young Jack eventually married little Emily, and Harry Girdwood led Paquita to the altar.
And as weddings are very much alike, we will not describe the ceremony, but content ourselves with saying that as much happiness as this world can afford was and is theirs.
Jack and Harry have extensive farms near each other, and are wealthy country gentlemen.
They are fond of outdoor sports, and have recently established a pack of harriers, Tinker and Bogey being respectively first and second whips. In each establishment there was formerly a room kept always ready for Mr. Mole, who went from one to the other as it pleased him, sure of a hearty welcome always.
But, alas! poor Mole is now no more.
Age preyed on his shaken body, and at length laid him on his deathbed.
Even then he could not help referring to the matrimonial portion of his life.
"I have been too much married, Jack. I am 'a wictim to connubiality,' if I may be allowed to quote Sam Weller; but never again, dear boy."
And when only half conscious, he would repeat—"Never again, dear boy," expressing his firm determination not to marry again.
After all, he ended his days in peace, and died regretted by all his friends, who, if they had laughed at his failings, also remembered his kindly disposition.
He left behind him sufficient of this world's goods to enable his faithful Chloe to give the twins a good education.
They are now rollicking schoolboys, but will have a fair start when their guardians, Jack and Harry, fancy they are fitted to begin their battle with life.
Old Jack—he is getting old now—lives with Emily not far from his son, and with them, of course, is Dick Harvey.
Often on a fine day Old Jack will lead his grandchildren to the village churchyard, and while the youngsters deck poor old Mole's grave with flowers, will relate to them the best incidents of the old man's life.
Not far from poor Mole's grave is another tomb, in which rest the earthly remains of Monday, Prince of Limbi, who had grown grey in the service of Mr. Harkaway.
A much severer winter than usual laid the seeds of a complaint which speedily carried him off.
Sunday, whose head is fast becoming white as snow, took his death much to heart, and even now frequently strolls into the quiet churchyard to indulge in pensive recollections of his old friend by the side of his grave—aye, and perchance to reflect on his own end, which he knows full well must be fast approaching.
Monday had been thrifty, and when the days of mourning were over, his widow retired to Oxford to pass the remainder of her days with many good presents from Jack Harkaway, given in remembrance of his faithful servant Monday, the Prince of Limbi.
Readers, our tale is told; and we leave Harkaway to the repose he has so well earned.
But if you would prosper as he has done, be like him, truthful, brave, and generous.
In bringing to a conclusion the long series of Harkaway stories, Mr. Edwin J. Brett cannot let the occasion pass without thanking the readers for the patience with which they have followed the hero's career, and the praise they have always bestowed upon the story or stories.
To invent the plot and incidents has been a labour of love on the part of Mr. E. J. Brett, and it seems now like parting from old and intimate friends, to say adieu to all the characters whose lives have been the subject of the story. But there must be an end to all things, even to Harkaway.