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The Strange Adventures of Captain Dangerous ;
WHO WAS A SOLDIER, A PIRATE, A MERCHANT, A SPY, A SLAVE AMONG THE MOORS,
IN HIS OWN HOUSE IN HANOVER SQUARE.
GEORGE AUGUSTUS SALA.
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SIXTH AND LAST. OF MY SERVICE UNDER THE GREAT TURK AS A BASHAW; OF MY ADVENTURES IN RUSSIA
AND OTHER COUNTRIES; AND OF MY COMING HOME AT LAST AND BUYING MY GRAND
MOTHER'S HOUSE (WHICH IS NOW MINE) IN HANOVER SQUARE. 'Twas the advice of the Good Physician, that, to prevent Accidents, we should be Married without Delay; for in these hot countries you are here to-day and gone to-morrow, and no one can tell what may happen. Difficulties almost insurmountable, 'tis true, seemed to stand in the way of our Union ; but Hamet Abdoollah was able to act almost a Magician's part to bring about our Happiness. I was for the time being bestowed in his House, and the next morning the Physician hies him to the Dey, who was in a Fury about me, and was threatening all kinds of Bowstrings and Bastinadoes. But his Highness happening likewise to be suffering from Toothache, and as a Man with a Raging Tooth would give all the Treasures of Potosi to be quit of his Agony, the Physician promised to Relieve him forthwith if he would grant bis Suit. The Dey promised him any thing he could wish for, and so Hamet Abdoollah cures him with a little Phial full of nothing but Tar Balsam. 'Tis but just to the Mussulmans to say, that when they have once given their Word of Honour, they keep it with Extreme Rigour; so that when the Physician begged pardon for me, and License to purchase me out of the Dey's service and take me into his own, the Suit was very cheerfully granted. Joyfully Hamet Abdoollah repairs to us again, with a Firman under the Dey's own Signet granting me my Liberty; and that very forenoon my silver Collar, Anklets, and Manacles were stricken off,—the Physician returning them to the Dey's Treasury,-and I was no longer a Slave.
Although there is no Man alive who mislikes Popery and its Superstitious Practices more than does J. D., there is one order of Nuns and one of Monks for whose members I entertain a profound Love and Reverence. Of She-Religious, I mean those Blessed Sisters of Charity who go about the World doing good, braving Sickness, succouring Misery, assuaging Hunger, drying up Tears, and smiling in the Face of Death. God bless those Holy Women, say I, wheresoever they are to be found ! and in our own Protestant country of England, why should we not have similar Sisterhoods of Women of Mercy, or Deaconesses, bound by no rigid vows, and suffering no ridiculous Penances of Stripes and Macerations,
but obeying only the call of Religious Charity, and going Quietly and Trustfully about their Master's Business ? Of He-Monks, I mean the Fathers of the Work of Redemption, or Redemptorists, whose sole business it is to travel about Begging and Praying of the Rich fur money to Ransom poor Christian bodies out of Slavery; which is a better work, I think, than praying for the deliverance of their Souls out of Purgatory. These Redemptorist Fathers have a permanent Station and Correspondence at all the Piratical Ports of the Barbary Coast; and at stated times, when they have gathered enough Money to redeem a certain number of Christians, a body of the Fraternity visit the Station, take away their Sanctified Merchandise, and by their Humble and Devout Carriage, and exemplary Poverty of Life, extort admiration even from the Bloodthirsty Heathens.
Now at Algiers, about this time, there was suffered to dwell an old Religious of this Order, Le Père Lefanu,--who for his Virtues and Piety was esteemed even by the Mussulman Ulemas, and was thought a good deal more of than any of their Marabutts or Santons, which is a name they give to a kind of wandering Idiots, who, the Crazier they are, are thought the more deserving of Superstitious Veneration. Père Lefanu was nearly ninety years of age, and had dwelt among these Barbarians for full sixty years of his Life, passing his time in Meditation, Prayer, and the Visitation of the Sick and Needy, both among the Unbelievers and the Christian Slaves, and at the same time transacting all necessary business with the Dey's Head-men for periodically redeeming those that were in Bondage. Our good Physician had a profound esteem for this Reverend Person, and often visited him; and now it was through his Ministry that Lilias and I were to be made One. I had forgotten to say, that my departed Saint was of the Communion opposite to mine; but in a land of Pagans 'tis as well to forget all differences between Papists and Protestants, and to remember only that we are Christians. Père Lefanu had been ordained a Secular Priest before he had become a Regular Monk, and he told me that if I had any Conscientious Scruples as to the Husband being a Protestant and the Wife of another way of Thinking, I could bave the marriage done over again in whatever way I thought proper on our return to Europe. But I was in far too great a Hurry to be Married to look too narrowly which way the Cat jumped; and a Romish Wedding is surely better than jumping over a Broomstick, which, unless we had adopted the uncouth Moresque custom, would have been all the Ceremony of Matrimony we could have had. So Père Lefanu came privately, to avoid Gossip, to the Physician's House, and Lilias Lovel and John Dangerous were made One in the French Language, the contracting parties being English, the Bridegroom's best man a tawny Mahometan Moor, and the only Bridesmaid a Black Negress.
Our Honeymoon (we continuing to dwell in the House of the good Hamet Abdoollah) was one of unmixed Joy and Gladness; but 'twas too complete to last long, and soon came a black Storm to lash into fury the
calm surface of our Life's Lake. Seized with a Malignant Distemper, and after but three days' Sickness, the good Hamet Abdoollah died. His Pillow was smoothed by our reverent hands, and with his dying breath he blessed us. I know not if there be any Saints in the Mussulman Church ; but if ever a man deserved Canonisation from whatsoever Communion he belonged to, I am sure it was Hamet Abdoollah, the Moorish Physician.
His Skill in Medicine had brought him great Wealth, of which, although he was always distributing Alms to the Poor, he left a considerable Portion behind him. In his last moments he sent for the Cadi and Ulema of his Quarter, for his will to be made, or at least to assure them by word of mouth of his Testamentary Intentions, which among this People would have been as religiously carried out as though he had written them. But, alas! when the Cadi and the Ulema arrived, he was speechless, and died without word or sign of his Wishes.
His Relations came forth with to administer to his Effects, and (if truth be not unpalatable to English Heirs, that often do the same thing) to fight and squabble over the administration thereof. A pretty Noise and Riot they made: now weeping and howling over the Corse ; now bursting open Trunks, wrenching Trinkets from each other, striving to convey away Garments and Furniture, and even tearing down the hangings of Rich Stuff. Only the Harem, where my one True Wife was, remained in violate from these Harpies ; but me they overwhelmed with the most injurious Invectives and accosted by the foulest epithets, calling me Infidel, Pig, Giaour Dog, Frankish Thief, and the like, telling me that I had fattened long enough on the Substance of a True Believer, with the like opprobrious speeches. I let them have their way, only giving them to understand that the first Man who should attempt to cross the Threshold of my Harem, it were better for him that he never had been Born.
Soon, however, came a greater Heir at Law than any of these, to take possession of the Dead Man's heritage. The news of Hamet Abdoollah's decease had come to the ears of the Dey; and straightway he sends down a strong guard of Coglolies to Seize all in his Name, specially enjoining the Bullock Bashee in command to put the big Christian Slave (meaning myself) in Fetters, and equally secure, although with lighter bonds, the fair Frankish Woman, meaning my dear Wife Lilias. All this was no sooner said than done. The Rough Soldiers burst into the House, and, to prevent any misunderstanding about me, a Cloth (for which I was quite unprepared) was thrown over my head from Behind ; and while I
1 was yet struggling to free myself from this blinding Incumbrance, the Gyves were passed over my Wrists and Ancles. And then they removed the Cloth, and, laden with heavy Chains, I had to behold in Despair their Invading the Sanctity of my Harem, and tearing therefrom my Lilias. In vain did I Shout, Threaten, Grind my Teeth, Implore, Promise, and strive to Tear my Hair. They only Laughed; and one Brutish
Coglolie made as though to strike me with the flat of his Sabre, when I out with my foot, all fettered as it was, and gave the Ruffian a blow on the Jaw, the which, by the momentum given by the Iron, I thought had stove it in. This much infuriated his Savage Companions; and I doubt not but that they would have finished me, but the Bullock Bashee, who had orders to the contrary, constrained them to stay their hand.
What became of my dear Lilias, I was not allowed to know. She was borne away, shrieking and calling on me, with Streaming Eyes, for help; and I saw her no more. Myself they dragged downstairs; and when we were come into the street, flung me, fettered as I was, over the back of an Artillery Horse, where I lay, face downwards, and in a kind of stupor, as listless as a Miller's Sack; and so, my Gyves jingling and clattering, I was conveyed away.
The cruel and remorseless Dey of Algiers I saw no more. Some spark of shame there might perchance be in the Ruffian's Breast that forbade him to gaze upon the man he had pardoned and enfranchised, and bad now traitorously Kidnapped. I suppose that in the Thieves' philosophy of this Fellow he reasoned that, if promises are to be kept to Live Men, there is no need to keep them unto Dead ones; that he was released from all his obligations by the demise of Hamet Abdoollah ; and that, as the Physician could not cure him of the Toothache again, if he chanced to get it, 'twas idle to continue bestowing Favours where no Benefits could be derived.
Into a wretched Dungeon of the Arsenal was poor J. Dangerous thrust, with naught for victuals but Musty Beans and Stinking Water. When I had been here, groaning and gnashing my teeth, for seven days, —which seemed to me thrice seven years,-a Rascally Fellow that I knew to be a Scribe belonging to the Divan of the Dey comes into my Dungeon to tell me that the Packet-ship has come in from Marseilles, and that in answer to my letter to Monsieur Foscue, that Merchant sends word that he knows nothing at all about me; to which the Rascally Scribe adds, in the Lingua Franca, that I was no doubt an Impostor who had trumped up a convenient Fable of my being a Gentleman and having Correspondents who would be Answerable for my Ransom in Europe, in order to get better food and treatment until the real truth could be known. Where. upon he tells me that his Highness the Dey had not yet quite made up his mind as to whether he shall have me Impaled or merely Flayed Alive, and so slams the door in my Face.
In this Horrible Dungeon did I continue for seven days more, mostly grovelling on the ground, my face downwards, and praying for Deliverance or Death. I had a mind to dash my Brains out against the slimy walls of the Cell, but was only stayed by the thought of my Lilias. 'Twas always night in this abominable Hole, which was lighted only by a hole in the roof, about four inches square, and which gave not into the open air but into a Corridor above. But on the fifteenth night of my Captivity, for I judged it so by the utter darkness, the door of the Dungeon opened,
and the Blessed Old Man that was a Redemptorist Father appeared, bearing a Lantern.
“You have that about you, my son," says he," which should be a sign that you are a trusted Agent of Holy Mother Church. Can you show it?”
" I pointed with one of my fettered hands to my Breast, and made signs for him to search for that he was in quest of. The which he did, and after reverently kissing the Parchment I had between the Glasses, restored it to me.
“You have been most basely entreated," he continued. “ Monsieur Foscue sent ample funds for your Ransom, and his Eminence is most anxious for your safety; but the cruel Moorish Prince who governs this unhappy city, after taking the money, feigned that you had made your Escape from the Arsenal, designing to keep you here in Chains and Hunger until you should Perish.”
He paused for a moment, for his Great Age made him very feeble, and then continued :
“I can deliver you from this Abode of Misery; but it is not in my power, my son, to give you entire Deliverance. Would that I could ! You have but to follow me to the Quayside, where you will find a boat to convey you on board a Turkish Merchant-ship, that to-morrow morning weighs anchor for Constantinople. You will still be a Slave to the Captain, but to your own ingenuity I leave it to obtain complete Freedom.”
“And my Wife--my dear, dear Lilias ?" I asked. The Ancient Man shook his head.
"I can do nothing to bring you together again. She cannot follow you to Stamboul; but by Perseverance, and in Time, you may be restored to her."
“ Time !" I cried out, in bitter desperation. “Time! O Father ! I am growing an old man. She is the stay and prop of my Life; she is the one ray of sunshine cast on a Black and Wicked Career! And she is taken from me by these Butchers! and I am to see her no more? What care I for Hunger and Chains, and a Dungeon-floor for a Pallet? They have been familiar to me from my earliest youth. If I am not to have my Lilias's sweet companionship again, I will remain here, in this Hole, and die like a Dog, as I am."
“Take comfort, my son," said the Redemptorist Monk. “ Time and Perseverance may, I repeat, enable you to attain your heart's desire. Meanwhile, console yourself with the assurance that the Fair and Good Woman, who is your Wife, is out of peril from lawless men. By the same Packetship that brought the Letters from Monsieur Foscue came a Sum sufficient Doubly to Ransom the Young Woman. The benignant protection of his Eminence has been extended to her, and she will in a few days return to France, and to her Father.”
“But can I not see her?-cannot I touch her Hand ?-can I not press her Lip ?--for one brief moment, and for the last time?"
“It is impossible," answered the Monk. “She is watched, both by