תמונות בעמוד

“My daughter, his Excellency Mohammed blank flattery did not cause me a blush. ConPasha, who has solicited the honor of being pre- vinced that he knew nothing, I pressed him to ensented to you."

lighten me as to his information. “Were it only I bowed slightly.

by your eyes and your voice," he replied, “I My father spoke in Arabic. As if through would already have had sufficient reason to gallant deference, the young Pasha uttered in judge." I jestingly continued this skirmish, inFrench some phrases of delicate courtesy, in sisting that he should show me my portrait, and, which he expressed his gratitude for a favor after making me entreat him awhile” which he so highly estimated.

“Notwithstanding your great, severe eyes, Bell, book in hand, had discreetly retired to he continued, “you have a smiling mouth with a little distance. I took a place on the divan be- dazzling little teeth; your nose is straight and side my father. Seigneur Mohammed sat in front delicate, and low down on your left cheek is a of us in a fauteuil.

slight little mole." This visit à la Française was the most ex- I fell from the clouds. traordinary and original proceeding ever heard “What treachery! You have seen me in of. It had all the form of a meeting in the Fau- Paris.” bourg St.-Germain; but here the veil added a He denied this. new feature-something like an intrigue with a “It is magic, then!” mask on, covering an interview of lovers. The He enjoyed my astonishment for a moment, conversation that ensued was somewhat ceremo- then he took from his pocket-book a photograph nious, and on general topics. Apart from the which he showed me. I uttered a cry of amazegravity, at the same time easy and dignified, of ment on recognizing myself. I gave my father a the man of state, Mohammed does not lack in- reproachful look, to which he seemed insensible, tellect. Yet, to be frank, his haughty coldness appearing to enjoy my defeat. was not unbecoming. But his smile has an ironi- I had lost much of my assurance ; for this cal finesse which betrays the consciousness of veil, behind which I took refuge, no longer conslightly haughty superiority. My father made a cealed me. The visit was soon ended, for, with remark on some point of foreign policy, and, with- a good taste for which I had not given him credit, out knowing much about it, I ventured a timid ob- as if he understood my embarrassment, Mohamservation. Mohammed's countenance expressed med did not abuse his advantage over me. He surprise ; I had, it appeared, uttered a very sub- rose, and, bowing very low, took his leave with a tile remark, which covered the point at issue be- few graceful and respectful words. When he tween them.

had left, I reproached my father with having so “Eh ! mon Dieu, mademoiselle," he said, “be- perfidiously betrayed me. hold! we have you already a great politician.” “You are an ingrate, Miriam,” he answered.

My father laughed aloud. I lowered my eyes, “To please you we set aside all established rules, blushing under my veil.

and behold, you scold me for obeying you too Mohammed did not pursue the subject, but well! Do you not see that Mohammed can not gave the conversation a turn which restored it love you unless he knows you?” That was very to its careless and indifferent tone. Emboldened true, and I was appeased. He inquired my imby this strange situation, through his grave self- pressions, and in daughterly confidence I owned control, a certain tone of gallantry was percepti- that his protégé had made a very favorable impresble. I can not explain how, in the most apropos sion on me. I criticised, though, something too manner, he found a way of slipping in some very searching in his gaze, an imperceptible shade of graceful compliments. Once I considered his irony in his smile, a cold nature under the grave praises fulsome.

hauteur of his manner even in his gallant atten“Take care," I said with a slight dash of tions; but, after all, these are the trifling defects irony; “ I may be very ugly.”

suitable to a politician. My father then informed “ No, you are not," he replied in a tone of me, in addition to what he had told me before this confidence, very flattering to my vanity.

meeting, and which with very natural discretion * My father gave one of his little malicious Mohammed had not touched on, how affairs now. laughs.

stood. Everything had been understood in ad“How do you know?" I asked.

vance. Mohammed, like many other young “Mademoiselle, I have my secrets."

Mussulmen of rank, had pledged himself to have “ Doubtless the gift of second-sight." but one wife. The arrangement of our ménage “ I do not think so."

would be the same as Ali's and Adilah's, and he " Then,"

only would require the ceremonial etiquette out “Then I assure you that you are charming." of the house. Notwithstanding his boldness, this point- At all events, I am permitted to reflect on it before I decide : there is nothing to hurry me. and she continued her jests about the mad pasWe have just commenced our Ramadana sion I have inspired. fast of forty days. We must wait until that is She knows about the interview and the porended before we can dream of the celebration of trait, and approves of everything. Great Heava marriage. It is a month's respite. What do ens! What has become of her old principles '? you say to my romance? As you see, it is a very I can not disguise the fact that there is, in these important affair, dearest, and I can not decide meetings and this mystery, a sort of romantic without deepest reflection. Marriage in itself is perfume, which almost reconciles me to the barsomething terrifying in its incomprehensibility. barous rigor which hides us from all eyes. A Seigneur Mohammed impresses me favorably, I lover alone, my dear, invented this code of adoown, though I do not feel for him that sympathy ration and respect. What woman could dare to which reassures and encourages. A single in- complain of this jealous precaution, or this vigiterview, it is true, is not sufficient to form an lant care to secure her from all eyes ? There opinion; still, I recognize in him the apparent certainly are no such scruples in the pale loves possession of sterling qualities—an attraction, a of Europe. A nature at the same time fervent bearing, an education, sentiments—which distin- and idolatrous is the only one which can feel guish him from all others. In short, I could not ardent passion. Veiled to all, the Mussulwoman be ambitious of a husband more desirable in belongs but to one. Does not the woman who this Mussulman world to which I belong. Love exposes herself to admiration and envy give away is sometimes more lasting for not being too sud- something of herself? den. Mohammed possesses gifts which must Circumstances are more defined, and your flatter the pride of any woman. The favorable little princess seems rushing on to the fatal deimpression he made on me has relieved me from noúment. Two days ago a bitter grief fell to my my terrors, and that is much to begin with. Why poor Nazly's share. Her sister's son, enlisted a should not affection be born later, when I have little while since, had deserted. His mother awakened a heart stifled perhaps by the cares of rushed to us in her despair. He was to be shot. business? Time is the best of counselors. We I immediately went to Hosnah's house, and she shall see.

agreed to help us. A hanum has the right of XIII.

calling at the house of a public official ; and this My life has suddenly gained an extraordi- had not been the first time that Hosnah sought nary excitement. The news of the marriage has the aid of her brother-in-law. She started imbeen spread abroad before it is even fully de- mediately to seek him, promising to obtain parcided on. At Chimilah they all consider it a fixed don for the condemned, and I returned to Chimifact. Since the visit of Mohammed, Hosnah has lah very hopeful. An hour later she came to my been seized with such a friendship for me that house. A free pardon was granted, and Moshe gives me no respite. Scarcely a day passes hammed would bring it to me. that she does not come to see me, carrying me “How !” cried I ; "that is impossible.” off in her coach to introduce me to her friends, “Why?" she tranquilly inquired. “Has he inventing a thousand pretexts for driving and not been here before ?" fêtes. I no longer belong to myself, but seem “That was very different ; an interview auwon over by her flatteries.

thorized by my father." In the midst of this strife, I have not been “Well! This time it will be an interview able to find a moment to go and see my dear authorized by me—that is all the difference." Adilah ; Hosnah accompanies me whenever I go “Where shall I receive him?”. out. We go together to Choubrah, where we “I will accompany you to the pavilion.” meet Mohammed. Behind the lowered shades I looked at her in amazement, not being able the sphinx-eye of my sister perceives him with to believe such a departure on the part of my such unerring certainty that one must believe sister. In truth, I had to let her do it. Moshe was prepared for the encounter. From the hammed was her near relation, and the authorlooks he gives at our coach, of which I suppose ity she exercised over the family would excuse he recognizes the livery, I am confident he knows such hardihood. I did not think of dressing, for I am there. Etiquette forbids him to bow to me; I was too much agitated in view of this new yet a few days since, when our coupé collided meeting, so unexpectedly improvised. I need not with his in a narrow passage, I perceived an im- tell you she had not much trouble in convincing perceptible sign, a movement of his eyes and me. Half an hour later one of Hosnah's eunuchs lowering of the lashes.

came to inform her that Seigneur Mohammed had “ Did you see that?" exclaimed Hosnah. arrived, and we started for the famous pavilion. “He almost committed an indiscretion. You Mohammed awaited us. We were both tightcertainly make him lose his head," she added ; ly veiled, of course. The magnificent embon point


of my sister filled the foreground. He advanced with the most innocent air. We had reached the beaming, and held out a paper to me: it was the little door which communicates with the harem. pardon. I expressed my gratitude.

She took leave of Mohammed. This time he “ You have but to give me an order," he re- held out his hand to me; I hesitated a moment, plied, “and it shall be immediately executed. I and then placed mine in it. It had the effect on hope, in future, that you will exert your power me of an engagement that we thus sealed. without hesitation."

You may know that during the days which He then thanked me for this new and un- followed there was much talk of our betrothal. hoped-for favor I had granted him. Hosnah My father and Hosnah ridicule my doubts, which replied for me. Seated near her on the divan, I they believe to be insincere. Even Ali is in the thought that, though veiled, I was no longer the plot. In truth, have not these doubts vanished? unknown of our first interview ; I felt troubled. To what do I object ? Urged by all, I have The familiar ease of the relationship of my sister much fear I shall yield. Saida is already busy to the young Pasha gave the conversation a tone over my toilets. The only question that seems nearly of intimacy. Obliged before her to speak to be considered is what a splendid wedding there in Arabic, we could not avoid tutoyering each shall be. other. Though we strove to use an imperson Tremble; behold me married ! al formula, the moment came when we were compelled to pronounce the first 'tu. Hosnah seemed enchanted, and played with her amber A CLOUD upon the azure of my skies. Hasbeads. His reserve thrown aside, his amiable san, that unhappy exile whom I wished to save, abandon and playful enjoyment showed me my has not left Cairo. Discovered and menaced, the suitor in a new light. In the course of our con- rash man has not believed my letter, so I am versation, I was surprised to discover tokens of again tormented by the recollection of my foolish a very keen taste for beautiful works of art, and act. It is a long story, which I will tell you. had the want of tact to express my astonish- For more than a week I could not tear myment.

self from the hands and the devotion of Hosnah, "Own that you think me a barbarian,” he until yesterday, under a pretext of having somesaid playfully.

thing to do in town, I escaped. I found Adilah "I will only own," I replied smilingly, “that ready to go out for one of her solitary rides on I had never dreamed that politics would leave the bank of the Nile. you leisure to become well informed and an art- “I will go with you,” I cried, taking a seat ist."

beside her. I am not very sure that Hosnah did not take This excursion was a lively pleasure to both this remark for an impertinence, for she made a of us. What things to tell each other! How terrified sign. But this argument was so far many questions about my marriage! We soon above her ideas that, on seeing Seigneur Moham- were on the road beyond the town, and rode med laugh, she was reassured, doubtless con- along the side of the river, having at our left an vinced that it was his indulgence on account of undulating plain which lost itself in a golden line my bad education. I must tell you that, in spite on the desert, and seemed to die at the foot of of his great air of discreet reserve, with admi- the Pyramids, as if stified by those giant piles. rable quickness, without seeming to touch on it, No one was driving. From time to time some the adroit diplomate found means of conveying fellah, or fellahine with jar upon her head, or an to me the intelligence that it was his intention ass trotting along with its load, was the only after a little time to make a sojourn in Paris. visible sign of life. You may rest assured I shall not dissuade him. The sun, bathed in a crimson horizon, cast its To be brief, after the interview had lasted an hour, shining rays on the tops of the palms ; some daHosnah rose, and, while pretending to continue habiehs dotted the river. White ibis with their the conversation, led the way to the garden. I long feet were in the stream, and flaming red was forced to follow. At a turn of the path she ones flying among the weeds. It was near twistopped to gather a rose, and I was alone with light, which dies so rapidly in this country, but the enemy.

the daylight still shone in softened hues, imprint“I recognized you at Choubrah," he said to ing a melancholy grace upon the mysterious pome in French.

esy of night. A light fog like gauze enveloped I attempted to jest, to conceal my embarrass- the distance; the first plains were visible, and ment.

the blue of the heavens became yet darker, as if “ And you failed to bow to me."

to lend to the stars their bed of velvet. " Pardon me; I forgot everything."

In our intimate sympathy we yielded to the Hosnah, with her rose in her belt, rejoined us charm of this tranquillity, chattering incessantly so as to make up for the time we had lost. Safe Very much agitated by these events we refrom meeting any one, or being seen on this iso- gained the town, when, in driving close to the lated road, we had raised our veils. We had now side-wall of the garden which joins my brother's reached a sort of creek, which was used as a lit- palace, a branch of jasmine, thrown through the tle port. Upon some barks, moored in the river, door, fell on my lap. Surprised, we looked at some children, half naked in their blue rags, di- each other. verted themselves. Suddenly Adilah uttered a “It is our neighbor," said Adilah. cry.

I was so irritated that my first impulse was “What is the matter?" asked I.

to throw the flower through the window, but “ Down there, on one of the boats, a child Adilah picked up the flower and handed it to has fallen into the Nile."

me. The terrified little monkeys ran upon the bank “It is justice, after all,” she said. “He is rescreaming. We got out, and Adilah distractedly paying you." implored her people for aid, but they only looked This Oriental homage, crowning our advenat us amazed. I repeated to them in Arabic that ture, seemed to be an acknowledgment, and I a child was drowning. Neither eunuchs nor sais had not the cruelty to repulse it. I accepted the would stir. The screams increased ; the poor flower. little one instinctively struggled, but it was easy On my return to Chimilah I had to explain to to foresee the frightful end, and no succor to look my father the introduction of my adopted fellah for, when happily at a turn of the road a horse- into the palace. I owned my flight with Adilah, man appeared. Attracted by our cries and ges- and related how he had been saved. He did tures of despairing appeal, he pressed toward us. not scold much. Be it understood that I passed

"A child is drowning," said Adilah, pointing over the incident of the veil, and the name of the with her hand to the little fellah who was trying cavalier. to keep himself above water.

The remembrance of this strange encounter Without taking time to answer, the rider haunted me. With the branch of jasmine bedashed off and forced his horse into the river. fore my eyes I was confounded. We saw him seize the child, who clung to him “He repays himself," Adilah had said. I with a convulsive clasp; but the current is so could no longer deceive myself : he knew the rapid at this point that the horse, drawn along by heroine of the beautiful prank at the window. it, could not regain the bank. We had some But, how had he seen me? Through some openminutes of agony, and then the unknown con- ing, perhaps, that was hidden from me by the quered the danger and placed the child at our feet. leaves. The inexplicable mystery haunts me conThe rider was Hassan!

tinually. Struck dumb by the sight, I let Adilah ex- To divert my mind from these awkward repress her gratitude. With a voice shaken, no flections, I made them bring the child, whom doubt, by the danger, he replied in French, his Nazly had already cleaned and dressed. He is eyes fixed on us, and bowing very low.

a little fellow of about five years old, with bold His embarrassed manner increased my un- wild eyes, quite beautiful in spite of his air like easiness. Suddenly, in the confusion caused by a little savage, and his shaved head. He is this accident, a word from one of the terrified called Mansour, and I had some trouble in tameunuchs, who lifted his arms to heaven, re- ing him. But he let himself be seduced by the minded us that our veils were raised. I quickly gold in my costume, and I won a smile from him lowered mine. After a deep reverence Hassan by the promise of the dress of an effendi. left us, and I remained in consternation at such Now, when I have exhausted all conjectures a rash disregard of the warning I had sent him. on this event so unlooked for, I can not avoid

Still pale and trembling, astonished at our trembling. Has this unhappy, proscribed one care of him, the child kept looking at us. At ever received the note I sent ? I am sure Zouthe noise, the mother came out of her hut—a rah gave it to one of his people. A terrible large woman with a dark, energetic countenance, anxiety assails me. Who knows ? perhaps one draped in the blue sarrau of the fellahine. She of his own people betrayed him! Why, then, approached calm and indifferent, without any does he appear not to have been given up? I alarm or joy. (“What is written is written.") I reflected on the puerile means I had employed. was seized with regret at the idea of throwing Men have the audacity which leads them to play back into his misery this poor little being who with their lives in such a way that the peril inowed his life to us. I offered the fellahine money creases the interest ; why, then, should he have if she would give up her boy to me, and the bar- given credence to an anonymous message ? gain was concluded. We took him with us in Would a hidden friend be likely to avert a real the carriage.

danger from him ?


Tormented by this idea, of which I could not Yet I strove to struggle against these fears, get rid, that I perhaps still assisted in his danger, which were possibly too great; perhaps his senand feeling myself a coward to hesitate after his timents were only a poet's gratitude, decked in noble act, so simply performed, I resolved to at- Oriental imagery, and the natural exaggeration tempt a last effort to save him, no longer recoil- of a service rendered by a woman. I read it ing before the miserable fear of letting him sus- over again, weighing each word, and scrutinizpect whence came his safety. Was not this poor ing each thought which had dictated it. Alas! child, who owed his life to him, already a link I could not deceive myself—I could not doubt. between us ? Could he scorn this debt of grati- Each word was a flame. This unhappy man tude I had contracted ? I immediately wrote a loved me, and, in the confusion and terror into letter in an explicit manner, telling him that he which I am thrown, I can accuse no one but myhad been seen and recognized, revealing to him self. Did I not do it all? The folly with which in full all the danger I knew hanging over his I amused myself at the window he took for enhead. For a signature, I slipped in my letter couragement—a hope, perhaps. Great Heavens ! some jasmine-flowers.

what must he have suspected as the cause of my Sure of Zourah, I ordered that this time she imprudence? But no, his love, so humble, so should put the letter in his own hands only. resigned, which from afar, in his retreat, would Under her habarah and veil, it was very easy for cause him to sacrifice even his life for me, is a her to accomplish her mission without his people love without hope. He says so. Must he not suspecting she was other than a slave. When know, then, that I am to be married ?—that he the letter had gone I breathed freely, feeling con- can never approach me? And yet he will not fident of the success of my attempt, for the ad- fly; he will not abandon the place I live in, the vice of a woman neither startles nor wounds; house which speaks to him of me. Poor boy! seeing me adopt such means, he could not doubt how imminent the danger was. An hour later Nazly returned. Judge of my amazement when EVENTS have so crowded on each other, at she brought me this answer, which I read in ter- the very moment when I believed myself delivror:

ered from all cause of uneasiness, that I have “What! It was you! This adorable pity not been able to find time even to write you. which trembles for my life, does it come from Happily, all is done well this time, and in the your heart? Ah! may you be blessed for this consciousness of having repaired my error I can word, for those flowers, which like the Gulnare efface it by forgetting it. Some days had passed of dreams, you let fall at the feet of the poor since those idle terrors of which no trace repoet Hafiz. Yes! I will be wary to preserve this mained, when one morning Ali came to see me. sad life, which exile has rendered so bitter that for During our conversation, I perceived, in spite a long time I have not wished to prolong it, and of his efforts to be amused, a certain preoccuI will obey you. But I can not leave here! Do pied air. He had come from the palace, where not ask it more. How could I go now? I have they had just discovered that a conspiracy exists, seen you !I know you! Ah! do not punish and that a relation of the Viceroy-a bitter eneme for this cry which escapes from the depths of my of Mohammed-is at the head of it. The my soul! It only reaches you as the most hum- name of Hassan was mixed with these rumors. ble gratitudeas toward a deity. I know you; I could not help blushing. I have seen you! I know who you are, and I “Is he in danger ?" I inquired. would not trust my lips even to pronounce your “At least he has a good deal to dread," rename, but, in the midst of danger, I shall know plied he. “Mohammed is a man with brains that a good angel protects me. Blessed are you, and energy." for you have increased my courage and my I felt myself shiver ; with a faltering voice I faith!”

questioned him, and learned that our family inWhen I had finished the letter, I remained terests, closely connected with those of Mohammotionless, overwhelmed with astonishment. In med, disturbed him more than he chose to own. writing my note I had yielded to an impulse of The entrance of my sister Hosnah prevented compassion. This unexpected answer caused our continuing the subject. On perceiving Ali, me unspeakable terror. Under the humility of she could not repress a movement of her brow, this respect and enthusiastic joy lurked an avow- which recalled the Hosnah of old; but she imal which it was impossible for me to mis- mediately controlled herself, and came to me take. He loved me, and he dared to tell me he holding out both hands. When she was seatwould not go away. On seeing this result of my ed, conversation recommenced, with some conimprudence, I asked myself by what madness I straint, on indifferent subjects. In regard to Ali, had been made guilty of it.

she affected that sort of ignoring which con

« הקודםהמשך »