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- The Weavers, Volume 4. - 13/13 -
before him. At last his eyes fastened on Nahoum. He turned to David.
"Thou dost still desire Nahoum in his office?" he asked keenly.
A troubled look came into David's eyes, then it cleared away, and he said firmly: "For six years we have worked together, Effendina. I am surety for his loyalty to thee."
"And his loyalty to thee?"
A pained look crossed over David's face again, but he said with a will that fought all suspicion down: "The years bear witness."
Kaid shrugged his shoulders slightly. "The years have perjured themselves ere this. Yet, as thou sayest, Nahoum is a Christian," he added, with irony scarcely veiled.
Now he moved forward with David towards the waiting court. David searched the groups of faces for Nahoum in vain. There were things to be said to Nahoum before he left on the morrow, last suggestions to be given. Nahoum could not be seen.
Nahoum was gone, as were also Sharif and his confederates, and in the lofty Mosque of Mahmoud soft lights were hovering, while the Sheikh-el- Islam waited with Koran and scimitar for the ruler of Egypt to pray to God and salute the Lord Mahomet.
At the great gateway in the Street of the Tent Makers Kaid paused on his way to the Mosque Mahmoud. The Gate was studded with thousands of nails, which fastened to its massive timbers relics of the faithful, bits of silk and cloth, and hair and leather; and here from time immemorial a holy man had sat and prayed. At the gateway Kaid salaamed humbly, and spoke to the holy man, who, as he passed, raised his voice shrilly in an appeal to Allah, commending Kaid to mercy and everlasting favour. On every side eyes burned with religious zeal, and excited faces were turned towards the Effendina. At a certain point there were little groups of men with faces more set than excited. They had a look of suppressed expectancy. Kald neared them, passed them, and, as he did so, they looked at each other in consternation. They were Sharif's confederates, fanatics carefully chosen. The attempt on Kaid's life should have been made opposite the spot where they stood. They craned their necks in effort to find the Christian tent-maker, but in vain.
Suddenly they heard a cry, a loud voice calling. It was Rahib the tent- maker. He was beside Kaid's stirrups, but no weapon was in his hand; and his voice was calling blessings down on the Effendina's head for having pardoned and saved from death his one remaining son, the joy of his old age. In all the world there was no prince like Kaid, said the tent- maker; none so bountiful and merciful and beautiful in the eyes of men. God grant him everlasting days, the beloved friend of his people, just to all and greatly to be praised.
As the soldiers drove the old man away with kindly insistence--for Kaid had thrown him a handful of gold--Mizraim, the Chief Eunuch, laughed wickedly. As Nahoum had said, the greatest of all weapons was the mocking finger. He and Mizraim had had their way with the governor of the prisons, and the murderer had gone in safety, while the father stayed to bless Kaid. Rahib the tent-maker had fooled the plotters. They were mad in derision. They did not know that Kaid was as innocent as themselves of having pardoned the tent-maker's son. Their moment had passed; they could not overtake it; the match had spluttered and gone out at the fuel laid for the fire of fanaticism.
The morning of David's departure came. While yet it was dark he had risen, and had made his last preparations. When he came into the open air and mounted, it was not yet sunrise, and in that spectral early light, which is all Egypt's own, Cairo looked like some dream-city in a forgotten world. The Mokattam Hills were like vast dun barriers guarding and shutting in the ghostly place, and, high above all, the minarets of the huge mosque upon the lofty rocks were impalpable fingers pointing an endless flight. The very trees seemed so little real and substantial that they gave the eye the impression that they might rise and float away. The Nile was hung with mist, a trailing cloud unwound from the breast of the Nile-mother. At last the sun touched the minarets of the splendid mosque with shafts of light, and over at Ghizeh and Sakkarah the great pyramids, lifting their heads from the wall of rolling blue mist below, took the morning's crimson radiance with the dignity of four thousand years.
On the decks of the little steamer which was to carry them south David, Ebn Ezra, Lacey, and Mahommed waited. Presently Kaid came, accompanied by his faithful Nubians, their armour glowing in the first warm light of the rising sun, and crowds of people, who had suddenly emerged, ran shrilling to the waterside behind him.
Kaid's pale face had all last night's friendliness, as he bade David farewell with great honour, and commended him to the care of Allah; and the swords of the Nubians clashed against their breasts and on their shields in salaam.
But there was another farewell to make; and it was made as David's foot touched the deck of the steamer. Once again David looked at Nahoum as he had done six years ago, in the little room where they had made their bond together. There was the same straight look in Nahoum's eyes. Was he not to be trusted? Was it not his own duty to trust? He clasped Nahoum's hand in farewell, and turned away. But as he gave the signal to start, and the vessel began to move, Nahoum came back. He leaned over the widening space and said in a low tone, as David again drew near:
"There is still an account which should be settled, Saadat. It has waited long; but God is with the patient. There is the account of Foorgat Bey."
The light fled from David's eyes and his heart stopped beating for a moment. When his eyes saw the shore again Nahoum was gone with Kaid.
Aiwa----Yes. Allah hu Achbar----God is most Great. Al'mah----Female professional singers, signifying "a learned female." Ardab----A measure equivalent to five English bushels.
Backsheesh----Tip, douceur. Balass----Earthen vessel for carrying water. Bdsha----Pasha. Bersim----Clover. Bismillah----In the name of God. Bowdb----A doorkeeper.
Dahabieh----A Nile houseboat with large lateen sails. Darabukkeh----A drum made of a skin stretched over an earthenware funnel. Dourha----Maize.
Effendina----Most noble. El Azhar----The Arab University at Cairo.
Fedddn----A measure of land representing about an acre. Fellah----The Egyptian peasant.
Hakim----Doctor. Hasheesh----Leaves of hemp.
Kdnoon----A musical instrument like a dulcimer. Kavass----An orderly. Kemengeh----A cocoanut fiddle. Khamsin----A hot wind of Egypt and the Soudan.
Kourbash----A whip, often made of rhinoceros hide.
La ilaha illa-llah----There is no deity but God.
Malaish----No matter. Malboos----Demented. Mastaba----A bench. Medjidie----A Turkish Order. Mooshrabieh----Lattice window. Moufettish----High Steward. Mudir----The Governor of a Mudirieh, or province. Muezzin----The sheikh of the mosque who calls to prayer.
Narghileh----A Persian pipe. Nebool----A quarter-staff.
Ramadan----The Mahommedan season of fasting.
Saadat-el-bdsha----Excellency Pasha. Sdis----Groom. Sakkia----The Persian water-wheel. Salaam----Eastern salutation. Sheikh-el-beled----Head of a village.
Tarboosh----A Turkish turban.
Wakf----Mahommedan Court dealing with succession, etc. Welee----A holy man or saint.
Yashmak----A veil for the lower part of the face. Yelek----A long vest or smock.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Cherish any alleviating lie Triumph of Oriental duplicity over Western civilisation When God permits, shall man despair?
*END THE SMALL PRINT! FOR PUBLIC DOMAIN EBOOKS*Ver.02/11/02*END*
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