Page:Paine--Lost ships and lonely seas.djvu/182

This page needs to be proofread.
146
LOST SHIPS AND LONELY SEAS
pay as ransom. Besides, the plague has been killing so many people that you ought to keep these Christian slaves until the next harvest, when there will be a great scarcity of labor."
 

This advice seemed plausible until Ahamed encountered two acquaintances afoot, one of them a very bald old man, who held an opinion quite the contrary, explaining:

"In Elic the plague still rages, and if you carry your Christian slaves there, they may all die before you get rid of them. And just now they would not fetch enough to reward you for the trouble of taking them there."

Evidently perplexed, Ahamed changed the course of his journey, to the dismay of Captain Paddock, who feared that he was to be conveyed into the interior of Barbary, beyond all chance of salvation. In a walled town Ahamed met his own brother, who was also a tribal chief, and for once the wretched captives were given enough to eat.

"Dear brother of mine," was Ahamed's greeting. "I am bound off to find a market for these vile Christians, who have been complaining incessantly of hunger. And I promised that they should have an abundance of victuals upon their arrival here."

The brother gravely assented, and his hospitality was so sincere that when one of his wives failed to