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She held up her snowy hands and clasped them, while tears of gratitude fell on her cheeks, now as colorless as a mound of snow.
It was just at this time that we heard advancing rapidly towards us heavy tramping, interspersed with eager and rough voices. I called to my mother to give me the flag, and saw her look about her, rise hurriedly, and sink as rapidly, as she said, in an agonizing voice
“Oh Allah, it is lost! It is gone !"
“ Up, Una," said I_"up, Una, and assist me to find it. It has a red cross. See beneath those cushions, while I look here."
I was hurrying out, but it was too late ; for the door was forced open, and crowds of armed men rushed in.
“ Where is Prince Bohemond?" said the foremost man, while high in the air he held a human head.
I looked as he spoke, and recognized the Emir Baghi Seyan. His magnificent turban was still looped with the rarest jewel of the Indian realms, which flashed and gleamed above the straining, unexpressive eyes, and features all stiffened and purple in the writhing distortions of a sudden and violent death. The long, white beard flowed so as to hide entirely the hand which grasped it, and was dyed and streaming with blood. I turned in horror as the soldier repeated
“Where is Prince Bohemond? By the snaky head of Medusa, I will have my reward! Here is the head of the Governor of Antioch !"
“I am for plunder!" said fifty voices at once.
I saw my mother and Una surrounded; I heard the rattle of scabbards, as swords were unsheathed. All recollection faded before me, and I fell prostrate on the floor.
I must have had a long and protracted fit of illness, accompanied with mental alienation, the result of overwrought feeling; for, when my consciousness returned, I found myself with my parents, Una, and the imaum, seated beneath the long shadow of one of the pyramids of Memphis, on the Lybian side of the Nile.
I can hardly describe my sensations as I woke to life again. My faculties, bewildered and struggling with the dreadful malady which had chained and imprisoned them, recalled to my memory the flickering of an exhausted lamp, and the new scenes by which I was surrounded, known alone to my mind's eye, had been buried in darkness as the vivid paintings discoverable only by torchlight on the subterraneous chambers of this ancient country. So slept my memory, until the light of reason suddenly reflected its bright torch upon the imaged chambers of my mind.
I called my father—for the last scenes of consciousness crowded before me, and I wished to apprise him of what I believed him ignorant, and what I knew he would regard as a circumstance of the greatest importance. He rose bastily, and, with
a countenance full of anxiety, came to me; and, taking both of my hands within his, sat down by me as he said
“What will the beloved of my soul have ?" I answered
" Oh, my father, may Allah give thee life forever! Do you know that Phirouz, the renegade, betrayed Antioch into the hands of the Christians ?"
I saw a tear, for the first time in my life, swell, sparkle, and fall from his eyes, as he turned off and remarked to the imaum
“ Hásan raves yet. Oh, that the hand of Allah would cease to touch so hearily my Hásan, my only child !"
“ Brother," said the imaum, Al Alpso, “there is hope for thee, even from the leech who awaits thy return at Memphis. He is greater in his skill than the Chaldean, even from the Euphrates to Irak Araby."
I called my father again.
“Father, I am not raving; and you shall see that I am not by what I shall say and do. But the renegado, Pbirouz, did betray Antioch."
He tore his bcard, and covered his face with his robe.
“ See," said I, again,“ my father, that I am rational ; for I recollect the instructions of our imaum, and I know, from what he has taught me, that these pyramids must be the throe near Memphis; this, beneath which we are seated, is the largest, and is called Cheops. We are on the western side of the Nile, which, in Sanscrit, the base of so many languages, signifies blue. The inhabitants of this country are supposed to be the descendants of Ham, a son of Noah; and the worship of the Egyptians, the ship of Isis and Osiris, are symbolical of the doluge."
My father and the imaum turned towards Mecca, and fell upon their faces; after which they came towards me, and, each lifting me, placed me in a species of palanquin borne on the back of a camel. My mother and the little girl were next assisted to their seats, and I heard my father say to my mother
“As soon as we can do so, we must make a pilgrimage to Mecca, and repeat the 'cow ;'* for Hásan is recovering. He is demented now only on one subject. Oh, Allah, make us grateful, for Hásan lives again !"
We journeyed on, followed by the imaum and my father; and, as we crossed several canals which separated Memphis from the pyramids, my dear old preceptor whipped up his mule, and drawing him up by our side, inquired how I now was. I thanked him, and answered that I felt much improved. He raised his turban, as he said,
" Then thanks and praises be forever to Allah ! Child of my soul, instruction is never so profitable
* From the Koran.
as when given upon the spot where the erent transpired. Here are the identical canals, drawing their waters from the Nile, which furnished the Greeks with the idea of Coccytus, Acheron, and Lethe. You observe, they were designed to separate the cemeteries from the mighty city of Memphis; and you will remember, my son, that those pyramids, whose summits reach even to the first heaven, serve but as a beacon to warn us of our mortality and insignificance. The kings who built these stupendous monuments were hated for their cruelty and heavy exactions; and, when they died, their bodies were hidden and buried in obscurity, to prevent the indignities which they would have suffered from a roused and revengeful populace. Their labor and designs are left to conjecture, and the real kings who projected them are to this day consigned to the mazes of doubt. In this great work, one hundred thousand men were laboriously employed, to be relieved every three months by the same number. Ten years were spent in hewing the stones, and twenty in building. As an evidence of the amount necessary for the support of the workmen, there is now hieroglyphicized on one of the pyramids, the sum of one thousand six hundred talents in silver,* for leeks, onions, and garlic : from this single example, we may forin a correct idea of the extent of oppression and taxation at that period. Age after age has left records of this wonder of centuries, and speculations as to the purposes for which they were reared invited the attention of the learned and wise. The opinion of some has been that they were intended for scientific purposes, such as establishing the proper length of the cubit, of which they contain, in breadth and height, a certain number of multiples, and that they gave evidence of a considerable progress in astronomy, from their sides being adapted to the four cardinal points, and the leading passages in these pyramids preserving the same inclination of 26° to the horizon, being always directed to the polar star; their obliquity also is so adjusted as to make the north side coincide with the obliquity of the sun's rays at the summer solstice.
“ Again, son of my soul, the learned say that the ancient Egyptians connected astronomy with their funeral and religious ceremonies, and that zodiacs are found even in their tombs. The pyramids, they argue, must have then been originally designed as mausoleums, on a scale of magnificence, grandeur, and durability far beyond any other that ever was or could be invented. Think, Hásan, that a stone sarcophagus, in a spacious chamber of these noble monuments, was opened, and behold the mouldering bones of the god Apis, or the ox, and beneath bim human skeletons; then grope your way through passages and chambers of different dimensions, and lo! embalmed with skilful care, in innumerable
sealed jars, another god, the Ibis, or Egyp:ian stork! What a satire in granite on man !"
We had now passed a large portion of the ruins of old Misr, or Memphis, for they covered three square leagues, and, in all, probably extended even to a greater distance. My mind was deeply impressed with the melancholy grandeur with which Time slowly but inevitably touched with decay the masterworks of man, and I was relieved when we reached a caravansary, surrounded by every Egyptian feature, and yet inhabited by Mohammedans, and kept in the Saracen style.
I recovered rapidly while residing in Memphis, and was strictly enjoined never to mention the renegade even remotely. I pursued my studies as usual, and every evening, while with my mother, I taught Una such lessons as she had leisure to study. The ruins were almost uninhabited, and the caravansary appeared, from several circumstances, to be only a temporary shelter for itinerants. It was very rare that any one called or passed, and we lived in quiet seclusion, associating but little with the two Saracens who were the proprietors of the establishment. My father appeared to be well acquainted with them; but he never permitted me to inquire as to who or what they were.
One day, I was standing before one of those enormous statues of red granite, glaired with varnish of the same color, deeply absorbed in thought, and wondering at its proportions, as it stood forty-five feet above its pedestal, with a breadth, from shoul. der to shoulder, of fifteen feet, when I heard, from its opposite side, the following discourse :
“I tell thee, Phirouz Beni Zerri, that sum will not answer. I have a liking myself for the Fawn; she is, indeed, a houri. I know your infamous plan of taking her off, and selling her for a heary purse; and look, you offer me a paltry sum to betray one who has eaten salt with me, to surrender an orphan into your pitiless hand, the child of Zenghi's soul,* one I have heard him say he loved tenderly, and for whom he felt a father's affection, as she had now no living relation or friend but himself, and that he was training her for his son, Hásan, who he intend. ed should marry her in two or three years. No, man, I will not agree to your terms. No price should induce such an act in me."
“Well," answered the renegade, “I Iways thought thee, Marari, only fit to ring songs and tell stories. Thou hast none of the man about thee; thou art cowardly, and a fool!"
Marari, with perfect self-command, replied by a contemptuous laugh, as he said
“Call me what thou choosest; thy abuse is good fame to any man; and I retort only on my equals, surely never on such as thou.”
I saw the tall form of the poet glide off, and I
• £25,000 sterling.
* Adopted children are called by this appellation in the East.
watched him, as he stepped over broken columns and chiselled fragments, until overshadowed by the statue of Sesostris, and next by the ragged and falling walls of the Temple of Vulcan.
The renegade must have been occupied in the same manner as myself, for he remained immovable until the shadow even of Marari's figure entirely faded from the portal of the temple. He now stepped forward, and, as he suddenly encountered me, he appeared convulsed by the effects of surprise and anger. He ran bis band hurriedly in his bosom, as he said
“ By all the fiends, thou shalt tell no more tales ! But for thy brain fever, my life would have been taken long since."
He rushed at me, and I shouted“ Murder ! help! Marari !”
The renegade stood calınly by my side, and when the poet came, breathless from the rapidity of the bounds he made to reach the spot, Phirouz smilingly remarked
“ Take him to the caravansary to Zengbi, for he is raving again. He says I am going to murder hiin. Come, I will go along with you."
Marari looked alternately at each of us, and shook his head. I could not say one word, so astonished was I at the ready villany of the man.
We returned to the caravansary, and the renegade immediately sought my father, and, in my presence, informed bim of my baving accused him of designing to murder me, adding expressions of sorrow for the obstinate continuance of my brain fever, descanting on its horrible effects upon ny inagination.
“Brother," answered my father, “ I have, in Cairo, pressing business, and so hast thou. Suppose we hasten to my boat on the Nile ? And, as Hásan's malady is always aggravated by thy presence, we had better be off as soon as possible.”
Phirouz readily assented, protesting "that he avoided appearing at the house on my account, and that, had he supposed I would have been abroad, he would have kept a watch for me until his business was transacted in Memphis, being only desirous to see a certain statue in the ruins which he bad never seen ; and, designing a journey to Persia, he wished to look at it previous to leaving the country.”
I went immediately to my mother, and stated to her my discovery of another act of villany on the part of the renegade. How shall I describe my feelings, when I saw that the only impression the relation of this circumstance made on her was but a renewal of her fears for my sanity!
“ Una, sweet fawn," said I, in the multitude of my fears and distresses, “thou wilt not think Hásan wild ?"
The tears of grief and perplexity swelled and trembled in her full, dark eyes, and she turned and looked at me so submissively and sorrowfully that I could only add
“Do this then, Una, for miserable Hasan : beware at all times of being alone. Take this"-I handed her a small whistle made of a conch--"blow it never but when you need assistance."
Time passed on from days to months, and from months to years, without my ever seeing or hearing of the renegade. During this time, I had ample room to become acquainted with Una, and her piety and noble nature so won and captivated my heart, that I thought a life of seclusion with her, my parents, and the now infirm imaum, the happiest this world afforded.
During my illness and convalescence, Jerusalem had been taken by the Crusaders, and Godfrey of Bouillon crowned king; and, since our residence at Memphis, I heard of his death, and of the establishment of his brother, Baldwin of Edessa, on the throne. But what proved of great importance to us was a discovery I accidentally made, in the fact of the proprietors of the caravansary being Assassins. I was prudently silent on this point, and they were profoundly ignorant of my knowledge of their tenets and political associations. Their residence in Egypt was for political purposes, and they were deeply concerned in the existing measures of the divan and country for subduing the disaffected and placing the young sultan on the throne of his father. Mostali Billah, the Egyptian Caliph, had recently died, and his son, Amer Bihcamillah, who was bu: five years of age, succeeded him. Afdal, who had been vizier in the last reign, was continued in office, and ruled the country in the minority of the young sultan ; soon, however, civil dissensions commenced, for Borar, the uncle of Amer, attempted to dethrone him, and seize the government in his own bands. While this was going forward, there was carried on every species of intrigue, and the Assassins were not only concerned in the political compacts of Egypt, but of Syria, Arabia, and Persia. They were employed by crowned heads, statesmen, and, indeed, by factious artisans.
My father saved but little from sword and fire in Syria. And here it may be appropriate to remark that he never allowed any of the family to revert to the siege of Antioch, and to this day I am iguorant of their manner of rescue from the palace of Baghi Seyan. I have always believed it to have proceeded from the same dear friend who bound, with the magnetic chains of gratitude, this stricken heart. Yes, so long as its feeblest pulsations remain, Valfrino will be found mosaicked there with love, gratitude, confidence, and admiration.
By industry and economy, while living at Memphis, my father added sufficient to his capital to make occasional voyages with merchandise; and,
on these occasions, he established my mother and Una comfortably and securely at Cairo, taking mo sometimes with him, and returning, on his arrival, to our home the caravansary. My life there was innocent and happy; and, by close study, I now completed my edueation, and my parents were preparing presents for my marriage day. During this period, I had gone one day, accompanied by the imaum and the two Saracens, to examine the Pyramids, and the whole day was spent by us in excavating and wandering over their subterraneous chambers, passages, and wells; my father had been a week absent on the borders of the Delta, seeking a lucrative situation for us after our nuptials, and there was no one at the caravansary but my mother, Una, and a domestic my father had purchased as an attendant for them. We returned by the red light of the setting sun, covered with dust and much fatigued, and I quickly sought my mother's apartment, with the pleasing idea of rest on her comfortable mats and cushions.
Oh, what awaited me there! The glad and happy countenances, the light of my life, where were they? I looked hurriedly around; the room was in the greatest confusion; furniture in heaps, broken, and turned upside down-and, stretched at full length, with a gagged and bleeding mouth, all covered with a network of cords, lay my mother's servant. This was at once a revelation to me. I had almost forgotten for five years the renegade, and the scene, with the immediate association, had nearly destroyed me. I uttered a piercing shriek, which brought the Saracens and the poor old imaum, rushing one over the other, into my presence. I fell on the floor, and tossed in the agony of my suffering, and now as suddenly bounded up, calling my companions to my assistance. We cut asunder the cords, and withdrew the gag from the poor woman's mouth. “Oh, speak, Mona, speak!” said I.
“ Where are they? Where is"
She replied, as sho sobbed violently, “ That she could not imagine where they were. A cross-eyed, crippled man led others; they bound her before they left the apartment, and she knew nothing more."
The imaum was too much affected to be in possession of his judgment, and sat weeping and wringing his withered hands. I grew calm from desperation.
“Brothers," said I,“ will you assist me ?" They stood perfectly silent.
"Only say what I can do for you in return ?" I repeated.
By the point of my dagger," the elder man answered, "it would be a difficult step just now for
compact, adding that I had never breathed one word on the subject to a human being.
Now, brothers, assist me, and unite the strength of some of your tribe with us. And hear me: I will solemnly lend myself to become one of you ; my body and mind shall be yours; it is all I possess in tbis world, and I freely give it—oh, gladly, to redeem those I hold dearer than liberty or life !"
The Assassins left me for a short time, and returned dressed in travelling robes. They withdrew with me until we were alone. The elder Saracen now glided from his bosom a slender dagger, on which I was solemnly sworn, in the name of the Prophet, to abide by the laws of their compact to the last hours of my life. Having finished this ceremony, he next made a slight gash on my arm, in which he stained with blood the dirk, and, holding its bloody point to my breast, pronounced these words
“ Thou art now an Assassin. Shouldst thou ever forsake, or betray us, in law, word, or deed, this sinks into thy heart, to be stained, as the point now is, to the hilt with thy life's blood.”
He withdrew it, and, holding it over my head with both of his hands, snapped it into fragments.
“Now, brother," continued the elder Saracen, “ thou needest but this"-he placed in iny girdle a dagger. “By and by, thou wilt understand the meaning of the inscription on the handle; and, when it is withdrawn from its scabbard, thou wilt find it true steel. It cannot be brokep as yonder fragments; such as those are made only for our ceremonies.”
The next gave me a robe, of the same fashion and material as his own, saying
“We must be off as soon as possible. We must endeavor to reach Cairo in as short a time as can be compassed; there we must leave the feeble imaum and thy inother's domestic."
We hurried to our saddles, with a feeling of tor. por on my part, interrupted only by the care which oppressed me for the safety of my dear old preceptor. I rode by his side, and led by the bridle the mule on which he was mounted.
All who have ever heard of Egypt have also heard of its pellucid and azure sky. It was now without a cloud, blazing with planets and refulgently set with stars. The moon was full, and sailed in the very zenith of the heavens; while far before us, in perspective, were dotted groves of palms, and, leading from the desert, was stretched the white and granular sparkle of sands, ending at the gates of Cairo.
As we journeyed near enough to see the domes and minarets rise above the walls of the city, my poor old friend, from long habit, burst forth in tremulous intonations
“What, beloved of my soul, is man? An ephe. meral, who mingles with the dust ere the works of his hands, and the devices of his mind in stone and
I had no wealth to bestow, and I thought of one alternative. Stepping up to them, I whispered my accidental discovery of their tenots and political
lime, even in wood and upon tablets, reinain untouched by time. Yonder, quiver in brilliancy the emanations of El Moezz's mind. He was the founder and builder of El Cahi, or Cairo. Where now even can be found the skeleton of that head which designed the plan and reared the city? A handful of brown dust is all that exists of it; yet that inanimate matter has braved, uninjured, the vicissitudes of centuries. Man's consequence, his pride, his laborious ambition, is, as the poet sings, “but a troubled and fleeting dream.'
“How many empires have been founded and overthrown on the very sands beneath our feet! There is old Misr, the great Memphis of the Pharaohs, now mouldering beneath the oblivious tide of centuries, and bearing the fractured marks, in its mutilations, of the devastations of Nebuchadnezzar. Once a capital, to be succeeded by Alexandria of the Delta—the commercial key of the · Macedonian madman.' This, too, must have its day of prosperity, and its day of decay; for the Moslems came, and Fostat was the capital, and here are we, my son, now standing at the gate of its successor, Cairo.”
We paid our way through a lodge on the wall of the city, and were led by the elder Assassin to a bazaar in the centre of Cairo, the property of a Jew. We found him standing in the door-way when we halted, where he remained until we were all dis. mounted. The Assassin stepped from his mule to the spot where he was standing; something imperceptible to me passed between them, when the Jew raised his Tartar cap, opened the door, and invited us in. He led us into a large and handsomely furnished apartment; inquired whether we would partake of some cold pelau, or whether we desired repose and refreshment afterwards.
The elder Saracen made all necessary arrangements with him, and, turning to me, said,
“Here, llásan, thou canst leave the imaum and domestic in perfect safety."
He now addressed the Jew
“ See, Hadad, we may not meet with Zenghi, the Guzel ;
thou must say to him, so soon as he returns to the city, that his wife and the child of his soul have been stolen, and that Ali Adam and his son, accompanied by Hásan, are in pursuit of them.” He turned on his heel, followed by his son, and disappeared.
As the day dawned, I saw a dervise enter the chamber and walk directly to my side, where he stood examining me attentively. I felt perplexed, but remained silent, and only placed my hand securely on my dirk, when Ali Adam stopped me by saying
“Thou must learn to look carefully ere the steel be withdrawn from the scabbard. Come, lay aside thy travelling robe, and, in its stead, dress thyself as a dervise ; we go to the Isle of Pharos, near Alexandria. I have seen some of my brethren, and they assure me—for thou wast correct in thy suspicions
-that the renegade committed the act, and that he has gone to Pharos."
I need not say with what alacrity I burried on my disguise, or bow my spirits and energy rose as the Assassin divulged this information to me.
After taking an affectionate leave of the imanm and my mother's domestic, we set forth for the Nile, and, in three days, arrived at Alexandria. There was here enough to interest my poor old friend, had he been with us; and, as I passed the great street, two thousand feet broad, commanding so extensive a view of the Mediterranean and Mareotio Lake, I thought of all he would have to say of the designs of the great conqueror in locating the city where it was, and of the former antiquity of the spot, as we passed the baths of Cleopatra, and other places which I could not think of, in the anxious and unhappy state of my mind.
In a few hours, we were in sight of the tower of Pharos, known in ancient days as the Lantern of Ptolemy. We rode parallel to its basement, and, from the fire which was kindled on its summit, I could plainly read the inscription of the architect :
Sostratus, the Cnidian, son of Dexiphanes, to the protecting deities, for the usage of seafaring people.” Lucian says that the architect coated the marble with plaster, on which one of less durability was placed, to the honor of Ptolemy Philadelphus, who directed its erection, and expended on the tower eight hundred talents. I observed that there were several residents on, or near the island, and, among others, there was one pointed out to us of a Copt, of immense wealth and influence ; he was a Mohammedan in his faith, and had built on his premises a mosque.
We halted at a fisherman's hut, who, supposing us dervises, entertained us with the greatest respect. Ali Adam, while refreshing himself with a mess of fried fish, informed the fisherman that, on the next morning, he would, with his son, perform in the mosque the celebrated religious dance; he also inquired of him as to the visitors and strangers who had arrived during the last week or ten days; but, beyond casting his net, attending the mosque, and rigidly observing the Ramadan, he knew nothing.
We went to the mosque on the third hour of the following day; and I shall never forget the sensations I experienced when, raising my eyes from the marble pavement to the pulpit, a single name, inscribed on a wall richly incrusted with devices in olive-wood, mother-of-pearl, and the finest china, arrested my attention : it was “ Allah"-the "still small voice” succeeding storms and whirlwinds. The dress of the dervises is of coarse, white cloth, leaving the legs and arms bare; they perform their fantastic rites every Tuesday and Friday. We were not standing long, before the Imaum of Pharos commenced reading from the Koran; this was succeeded
* 800,000 crowns.