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and France at that time thought that she very much wanted the Island of Malta.
Don Ercolo was not in the least angry ; only, he Laughed in my Face.
“ Chevalier Escarbotin,” he said gaily, "you have mistaken your man. Tell bis Eminence the Cardinal de that he may go and hang himself. I am not to be bought. I am Rich to Two Hundred and Fifty Thousand ounces of Gold, all got out of spoiling the Infidels. When I die, I shall leave half to the Order, and balf to the families of certain Poor Women Creatures whom I have wronged, and who are Dead.”
I said, to appease him, that I was but Joking.
“Ta, ta, ta!" retorts he. “I know your Trade well enough. I have been too much among men not to be able to scent out a Spy. But you are a very Jovial Fellow, Escarbotin; and I don't care what you are, so long as you are not a Turk, which, by the way, I don't think you would mind turning.”
“O, Signore Cavaliere !"-I began to expostulate.
“What does it matter ?" quoth Don Ercolo. Does it matter any thing at all? Perhaps some of these days, when I am tired of the Eight Points, I shall take the Turban myself.”
“A Renegado !" I cried.
“Many a brave Gentleman has turned Renegado ere this," answered he. “Next to the pleasure of Fighting the Turks, I should esteem the condition of being a Turk myself, and fighting against the Order of Malta. But I forgot. You are a Lutheran ; although how you came to be a Protestant, with that name of Escarbotin, I can't make out."
I murmured something about belonging to the Reformed Church at Genera; although I forgot that they were mostly Calvinists there, not Lutherans. But of this Don Ercolo took little notice, and went on.
“When you write to the Cardinal, tell him that Ercolo Amadeo Sparafucile di San Lorenzo is not to be purchased. The sly old Fox! He knows I have great influence with my Uncle the Grand Master. Tell him that I am very much obliged to him for his Offer, and thank him for old Acquaintance' sake. Nay; I believe I am some kind of Kinsman of his Eminence, on the Mother's side. But assure him that I am not in the least Angry with him. If I were Poor, I should probably accept his Offer; but none of the Poor Knights of our Order are worth Buying. It matters little to me whether France, or Spain, or even Heretic England gets hold of this scorching Rock, with its Swarms of Hussies and Rascals; only I prefer amusing myself, and fighting the Turks, to meddling in
I Politics, and running the risk of a life-long dungeon in the Castle of St. Elmo."
There was a long Silence after this, and he seemed plunged in profound Meditation. Suddenly he fills a Cup with Wine, drains it, and, in his old careless manner, says to me, “Tell him this—be sure to tell him, lest he should be at the trouble
of sending Emissaries to Poison me, I have the best Antidote of any in the Levant, and shall take three drops of it after every Bite and Sup for Six Months to come. Not that I dread you. All Spy as you are, you still look like an Honest Fellow. You would not poison an old Friend, would you, Little Jack DANGEROUS ?"
I started to my feet, and stared at the grizzled, handsome Knight in blank amazement. We had been conversing in the French tongue; but the latter part of his Speech he had uttered in mine own English, and with a faultless accent. Moreover, where before had I heard that Voice, had I seen that Face? My Memory rolled back over the hills and valleys of years; but the Mountains were too high, and the Recesses behicd them inaccessible without Mental Climbing, for which I was not prepared.
“Little Jack Dangerous," continued the grizzled Knight," where have you been these Seven-and-thirty Years? When I knew you first, you were but a poor little Runaway Schoolboy, and I was a Tearing Fellow in the Flush and Pride of my hot Youth.”
“A Runaway Schoolboy !" I stammered.
“Do you remember Charlwood Chase, and the Blacks that were wont to kill Venison there ?"
« I do."
“And Mother Drum, and Cicely, and Jowler, and the Night Attack, and how near you were being hanged? Do you remember Captain Night?"
A Light broke in upon me. I recognised my earliest Protector. I seized his Hand. I was fairly blubbering, and would have rushed into his Arms; but there was something Cold and Haughty in his Manner that repulsed me.
“'Tis well,” he said. “I am a Knight of the most Illustrious Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and an Italian Cavalier of Degree. You"
“I am a Spy," I cried out half-sobbing. “What was I to do? My Malignant Fate hath ever been against me. I am despicable in your Eyes, but not so despicable as I am in mine own.”
“There, there,” he cries out, very placably. “There's no great harm done, and there's much of a muchness between us. When you
first came across me, was I not stealing the King's Deer in Charlwood Chase, besides being in Trouble—I don't mind owning to you now—on account of King James? 'Twixt you, Jack Dangerous, Flibustier, Saltabadil, and Spy, and Captain Night, now called Don Ercolo et cetera, et cetera di San Lorenzo, and a Knight of Malta, there is not much, perhaps, to choose. The World hath its strange Ups and Downs, and we must s'en make the best of them. Sit you down, Jack Dangerous, and we will have t'other Flask.”
We had t'other Flask, and very good Wine it was; and for the rest of the time I remained in Malta, Don Ercolo continued to be my Fast Friend, even as he had been in my Youth. And yet ’twas mainly through his Instrumentality that I quitted the Island; for he sent his Page to me with a Letter, written in our own dear English Tongue, in the which he instantly desired me, as I valued my Life and the Interests of my Employers, to put the Broad Seas between myself and the Grand Master; for that an Inkling of my Errand had got Wind, and that the Party unfavourable to France being then uppermost, I ran immediate risk of being cast into a Dungeon, if not Hanged. For this Reason, said Don Ercolo, he must forbear any further Commerce with me (not wishing to draw Suspicion on himself, for the Knights are very jealous in Political Affairs); but he assured me of his continued Friendship, and desired if I stood in Need of any Funds for my Journey to inform the Page, that he might furnish me secretly with what Gold I needed. But I wanted nothing in this way, having ample Credits; so making up my Valises with all convenient Speed, the Chevalier Escarbotia bade adieu to Malta.
I took a Passage in a Speronare that was bound to Candia, where I hoped to find some Trading Vessel of heavier Burden to take me to Constantinople. The Mediterranean Sea here very beautiful, and delightful to see the Dolphins, Tunnies, and other Fish, that frequently leapt out of the Water, and followed our Ship in great Numbers. 'Also a Waterspout, which is a Phenomenon very well known to Seamen in the Levant Trade, and reckoned very dangerous. It looked mighty Fierce and Terrific; and our Sailors, to conjure it away, had recourse to the Superstitious Devices of cutting the air with a Black-Handled Knife, and reading the First Chapter of St. John's Gospel, accounted of great Efficacy in dispersing these Spouts.
Woe is me! After Six Days' most pleasant Sailing, and after doubling Cape Spada, and in very sight of Canea (which is the Port of Candia), a strange Sail hove in Sight, gave Chase, came up to us an hour before sundown, and without as much as, By your leave, or With your leave, opened Fire upon us. A Couple of Swingers from her Doubleshotted Guns were a Bellyful for our poor little Speronare, in which there were but Ten Men and a Boy, Passengers included; and we were fain to submit. Oh, the intolerable Shame and Disgrace! that Jack Dangerous, who had been All Round the World with that Renowned Commander, Captain Blokes, and had Chased, Taken, and Plundered many a good tall Ship belonging to the Spaniards,—ay, and had landed on their Main, Spoiled their Cities and Settlements, Toasted tbeir fine Ladies, and held their Chief Governors to Ransom,-should be laid in the Bilboez by a Rascally African Pirate Vessel mounting Nine Guns, and belonging to the most Heathenish, Knavish, and Bloodthirsty Town of Algiers. My Gall works now to think of it; but Force was against us, and the Disaster was not to be helped. I was in such a Mad Rage as to be near Braining the Captain of the Speronare with a Marline-Spike, and would have assuredly blown out the Brains of the first Voor that boarded us, had not the Italian Captain and his Vate seized each one of my arms,
and by Main Force wrested my Weapons from me. And in this though hotly enraged with 'em at first, and calling them all kinds of Abusive Epithets) I think they acted less like Traitors than like Persons of Sense and Discretion; for what were we Ten (and the Boy) against full Fifty powerful Devils, all armed to the Teeth, and who would assuredly have cut all our Throats had we shown the least Resistance.
So they had their Will of us, and we were all made Prisoners, preparatory to undergoing the worse Fate of Slaves. Vain now, indeed, were all his Eminence's Secret Precautions about the Concealment of Missives; for these Rascal Moors made no more ado, but stripped us of every Rag of Clothing, ripping up the Seams thereof, and examining our very Hair, in quest of Gold and Jewels. The Boatswain, however, that was appointed to search me, after taking from me all my Stock of Money, which was considerable, returned to me the famous Bit of Parchment between the Glasses, which was to bear me Harmless against the Claws of Holy Mother Church if she happened to turn Tiger-Cat; for these Mahometans have a profound respect for Charms and Amulets, and very like he took this for one, which could be no good to him, an Infidel, but might serve a Frank at a pinch. There was another Article, too, which he restored to me, after Examination, and of which I have hitherto made no mention. What was this but a little Portrait of my Beloved Protectress, which I carried with me next my Heart? Not that I had ever ventured to be so bold as to Ask her for such a pledge, or that she had favoured me enough to give it me; but while I was in Paris there had been limned by the great French Painter, Monsieur Boucher, a Picture of one of the Opera Ballets, not Orpheus's Story, but something out of Homer's Poetry,—Ulysse chez Alcinous, I think 'twas called, -and this Picture contained very Life-like Effigies of all the Dancers that stood in the front rank, of whom my sweet Mistress Lilias was one. From this an Engraving in the Line Manner was made, which was put forth by the Printsellers just before I left Paris ; and I declare I gave a Louis d'Or, and Ten Livres, Twelve Sols, for a Copy, and cutting out the Pictured Head of my Protectress with a sharp Penknife, had it pasted down and framed in a Golden Locket. When the Boatswain saw this, he Grinned, till the Turban round bis tawny Head might have been taken for a Horse-collar. He wrenched the Portrait out of its Frame, and put the Gold among the heap of Plunder that was gathered, for after division, on the Deck, and was then about to throw the dear Bit of Paper into the Sea,- for these Moors think it Sinful to portray the Human Countenance in any way,--but I besought him so Earnestly, both by Signs and supplicatory Gestures, and even, I believe, Tears, to restore it to me, that he desisted; and putting liis Finger to his Lips, as a Hint that I was not to reveal his Clemency to his Commander, gave me back my precious Portrait. He would have, however, the fine Chain I wore round my Neck; so I was fain to make an Opening between the two Sheets of Glass tbat covered my Amulet, and push in the Portrait, face
downwards; and the two together I hung to a bit of slender Lanyard. But all my brave Clothes were taken from me, and in an Hour after my Capture I was Bare-footed, and with no other Apparel than a Ragged Sbirt and a pair of Drawers of Canvas. To this Accoutrement was speedily added about Twenty-one Pounds of Fetters on the Wrists and Ancles; and then I, and the Captain, and the Mate, and the Men, and the Boy, were put into a Boat and taken on board the Algerine, where we were Aung into the Hold, and had nothing better to eat for many days than Mouldy Biscuit and Bilge-Water. The Cargo of the Speronare was mostly Crockery-ware ard Household Stuff, for the use of the Candiotes; and the Moors would not be at the trouble of Removing, so they Scuttled her, and bore away to the Norrard.
Item.— I swallowed my Despatches; but the Moors got hold of my Letters of Credit and my Cipher.
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FIFTH. AFTER MANY SURPRISING VICISSITUDES, J. DANGEROUS BECOMES BESTUSCHID BASHAW.
So we were all taken into Algiers. 'Tis called “The Warlike” by that proud People, the Turks; but with much more Reason, I think, should it be named “ The Thievish.” Out upon the Robbers’ Den! This most abominable Place, which has, during so many Ages, braved the Resentment of the most powerful Princes of Christendom, is said to contain above 100,000 Mahometans,-among them not above Thirty Renegadoes,—15,000 Jews, and 4000 Christian Slaves. 'Tis full of Mosques and other Heathenish places of Worship, and is strongly Fortified, both towards the Sea and the Land. The Ship that took us was a Brigantine; and they have nigh a Hundred of 'em (besides Row-boats), mounting from Ten to Fifty Guns, with which they ravage the Trade of Europe. There is little within the City that is Curious, save the Dogs, which are very abundant, and very Fierce and Nasty. The Street Bab-Azoun is full of Shops, and Jews dealing in Gems and Goldsmiths' Work. The Hills and Valleys round the City are every where beautified with Gardens and Country Seats, whither the Wealthy Turks retire during the Heats of Summer. Some of the Wild Bedoween Tribes up the country go Bare-headed, binding their Temples only with a Fillet to prevent their hair growing troublesome. But the Moors and Turks in Algiers wear on the crowns of their Heads a small Cap of Scarlet Woollen Cloth, that is made at Fez. The Turban is folded round the bottom of these Caps, and by the fashion of the folds you can tell the Soldiers from the Citizens. The Arabs wear a loose Garment called a Hyke, which serves them as a complete Dress by Day, and a Bed and Coverlet by Night. 'Tis observable that when the Moorish Women appear in Public, they constantly fold themselves so close up in their Hykes that very little of their faces can be seen; but in the Summer Months, when they retire to their Country Seats, they walk about with less Caution and Reserve, and, at the approach of a Stranger, only let fall their Veils.