Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything
- A Modern Telemachus - 30/31 -
withheld from rushing after one who had been a new life and revelation to him.
Mayhap the passion was as fleeting as it was violent, but the Marabout knew it boded danger to the captives to whom he had pledged his honour. He sent them, mounted on mules, on in front, while he and his company remained in the rear, watching till Lanty and Victorine were driven up like cattle by Eyoub, to whom he paid an earnest of his special share of the ransom. He permitted no pause, not even for a greeting between Estelle and poor Victorine, nor to clothe the two unfortunates, more than by throwing a mantle to poor Victorine, who had nothing but a short petticoat and a scanty, ragged, filthy bournouse. She shrouded herself as well as she could when lifted on her mule, scarce perhaps yet aware what had happened to her, only that Lanty was near, muttering benedictions and thanksgivings as he vibrated between her mule and that of the Abbe.
It was only at the evening halt that, in a cave on the mountain-side, Estelle and Victorine could cling to each other in a close embrace with sobs of joy; and while Estelle eagerly produced clothes from her little store of gifts, the poor femme de chambre wept for joy to feel indeed that she was free, and shed a fresh shower of tears of joy at the sight of a brush and comb.
Lanty was purring over his foster-brother, and cosseting him like a cat over a newly-recovered kitten, resolved not to see how much shaken the poor Abbe's intellect had been, and quite sure that the reverend father would be altogether himself when he only had his soutane again.
'Well hath the Prophet-chief your bidding done.' MOORE (Lalla Rookh).
Bugia was thoroughly Moorish, and subject to attacks of fanaticism. Perhaps the Grand Marabout did not wholly trust the Sunakite not to stir up the populace, for he would not take the recovered captives to his palace, avoided the city as much as possible, and took them down to the harbour, where, beside the old Roman quay, he caused his trusty attendant, Reverdi, to hire a boat to take them out to the French tartane--Reverdi himself going with them to ensure the fidelity of the boatmen. Estelle would have kissed the good old man's hand in fervent thanks, but, child as she was, he shrank from her touch as an unholy thing; and it was enforced on her and Victorine that they were by no means to remove their heavy mufflings till they were safe on board the tartane, and even out of harbour. The Frenchman in command of the vessel was evidently of the same mind, and, though enchanted to receive them, sent them at once below. He said his men had been in danger of being mobbed in the streets, and that there were reports abroad that the harem of a great Frank chief, and all his treasure, were being recovered from the Cabeleyzes, so that he doubted whether all the influence of the Grand Marabout might prevent their being pursued by corsairs.
Right glad was he to recognise the pennant of the Calypso outside the harbour, and he instantly ran up a signal flag to intimate success. A boat was immediately put off from the frigate, containing not only Lieutenant Bullock, but an officer in scarlet, who had no sooner come on deck than he shook Arthur eagerly by the hand, exclaiming,
''Tis you, then! I cannot be mistaken in poor Davie's son, though you were a mere bit bairn when I saw you last!'
'Archie Hope!' exclaimed Arthur, joyfully. 'Can you tell me anything of my mother?'
'She was well when last I heard of her, only sore vexed that you should be cut off from her by your own fule deed, my lad! Ye've thought better of it now?'
Major Hope was here interrupted by the lieutenant, who brought an invitation from Captain Beresford to the whole French party to bestow themselves on board the Calypso. After ascertaining that the Marabout had taken up their cause, and that the journey up Mount Couco and back again could not occupy less than twelve or fourteen days, he had sailed for Minorca, where he had obtained sanction to convey any of the captives who might be rescued to Algiers. He had also seen Major Hope, who, on hearing of the adventures of his young kinsman, asked leave of absence to come in search of him, and became the guest of the officers of the Calypso.
Arthur found himself virtually the head of the party, and, after consultation with Ibrahim Aga and Maitre Hebert, it was agreed that there would be far more safety, as well as better accommodation, in the British ship than in the French tartane, and Arthur went down to communicate the proposal to Estelle, whom the close, little, evil- smelling cabin was already making much paler than all her privations had done.
'An English ship,' she said. 'Would my papa approve?' and her little prim diplomatic air sat comically on her.
'Oh yes,' said Arthur. 'He himself asked the captain to seek for you, Mademoiselle. There is peace between our countries, you know.'
'That is good,' she said, jumping up. 'For oh! this cabin is worse than it is inside Yakoub's hut! Oh take me on deck before I am ill!'
She was able to be her own little charming French and Irish self when Arthur led her on deck; and her gracious thanks and pretty courtesy made them agree that it would have been ten thousand pities if such a creature could not have been redeemed from the savage Arabs.
The whole six were speedily on board the Calypso, where Captain Beresford received the little heroine with politeness worthy of her own manners. He had given up his own cabin for her and Victorine, purchased at Port Mahon all he thought she could need, and had even recollected to procure clerical garments for the Abbe--a sight which rejoiced Lanty's faithful heart, though the poor Abbe was too ill all the time of the voyage to leave his berth. Arthur's arrival was greeted by the Abyssinian with an inarticulate howl of delight, as the poor fellow crawled to his feet, and began kissing them before he could prevent it. Fareek had been the pet of the sailors, and well taken care of by the boatswain. He was handy, quick, and useful, and Captain Bullock thought he might pick up a living as an attendant in the galley; but he showed that he held himself to belong absolutely to Arthur, and rendered every service to him that he could, picking up what was needful in the care of European clothes by imitation of the captain's servant, and showing a dexterity that made it probable that his cleverness had been the cause of the loss of a tongue that might have betrayed too much. To young Hope he seemed like a sacred legacy from poor Tam, and a perplexing one, such as he could hardly leave in his dumbness to take the chances of life among sailors.
His own plans were likewise to be considered, and Major Hope concerned himself much about them. He was a second cousin--a near relation in Scottish estimation--and no distant neighbour. His family were Tories, though content to submit to the House of Hanover, and had always been on friendly terms with Lady Hope.
'I writ at once, on hearing of you, to let her know you were in safety,' said the major. 'And what do you intend the noo?'
'Can I win home?' anxiously asked Arthur. 'You know I never was attainted!'
'And what would ye do if you were at home?'
'I should see my mother.'
'Small doubt of the welcome she would have for you, my poor laddie,' said the major; 'but what next?' And as Arthur hesitated, 'I misdoubt greatly whether Burnside would give you a helping hand if you came fresh from colloguing with French Jacobites, though my father and all the rest of us at the Lynn aye told him that he might thank himself and his dour old dominie for your prank--you were but a schoolboy then--you are a man now; and though your poor mother would be blithe to set eyes on you, she would be sairly perplexed what gate you had best turn thereafter. Now, see here! There's talk of our being sent to dislodge the Spaniards from Sicily. You are a likely lad, and the colonel would take my word for you if you came back with me to Port Mahon as a volunteer; and once under King George's colours, there would be pressure enough from all of us Hopes upon Burnside to gar him get you a commission, unless you win one for yourself. Then you could gang hame when the time was served, a credit and an honour to all!'
'I had rather win my own way than be beholden to Burnside,' said Arthur, his face lighting at the proposal.
'Hout, man! That will be as the chances of war may turn out. As to your kit, we'll see to that! Never fear. Your mother will make it up.'
'Thanks, Archie, with all my heart, but I am not so destitute,' and he mentioned Yusuf's legacy, which the major held that he was perfectly justified in appropriating; and in answer to his next question, assured him that he would be able to retain Fareek as his servant.
This was enough for Arthur, who knew that the relief to his mother's mind of his safety and acceptance as a subject would outweigh any disappointment at not seeing his face, when he would only be an unforgiven exile, liable to be informed against by any malicious neighbour.
He borrowed materials, and had written a long letter to her before the Calypso put in at Algiers. The little swift tartane had forestalled her; and every one was on the watch, when Estelle, who had been treated like a little princess on board, was brought in the long-boat with all her party to the quay. Though it was at daybreak, not only the European inhabitants, but Turks, Arabs, Moors, and Jews thronged the wharf in welcome; and there were jubilant cries as all the five captives could be seen seated in the boat in the light of the rising sun.
M. Dessault, with Ulysse in his hand, stood foremost on the quay, and the two children were instantly in each other's embrace. Their uncle had to be helped out. He was more bewildered than gratified by the welcome. He required to be assured that the multitudes assembled meant him no harm, and would not move without Lanty; and though he bowed low in return to M. Dessault's greeting, it was like an automaton, and with no recognition.
Estelle, between her brother and her friend, and followed by all the rest, was conducted by the French Consul to the chapel, arranged in one of the Moorish rooms. There stood beside the altar his two chaplains, and at once mass was commenced, while all threw themselves on their
Previous Page Next Page
1 10 20 25 26 27 28 29 30 31
Schulers Books Online
books - games - software - wallpaper - everything