The Double Scoop

The Double Scoop  (1918) 
by Charles Beadle
Novelette; extracted from Adventure magazine, May 18, 1918, pp. 3–25.

"To Alan the journey into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains is a romantic business venture, while to Miriam Travers it affords an opportunity to prove or disprove a theory. But the picturesque land, in a state of disorder from the activities of warring factions, proves an adventurous field for both. A story of stirring times in Morocco."

The Double Scoop

A Complete Novelette

by Charles Beadle

Author of "The Idol of 'It'," "John O'Damn," etc.


Chapter I

May he who coldly scoffs at pangs of love
Be straight enamored of yon lark above:
May he, despairing, see her gaily rise,
To mock his hopeless passion from the skies.

Sidi Hammo.

FROM the cool of the old-fashioned arch of Wine Office Court a tall young man plunged into the stream swirling down Fleet Street. At the Law Courts he glanced up at the clock and came to an irresolute halt by the curbstone. As he stared idly a girl popped out from behind a taxicab and proceeded to cross the road.

She was of medium height, dark as a Spaniard and walked with the self-reliant swing of the American woman. A cream soft hat, devoid of any decoration save a dark tassel, and her loose Holland costume gave her a cool capable appearance. She saw him when half-way across the road, acknowledged his salute and changed her course as a taxi came whirring up behind her.

He started forward in alarm as the machine bore down upon her, hooting dismally. She glanced over her shoulder as if measuring the distance and increased her pace by a fraction. The cab shot by her with scarcely a foot to spare. He had stepped back on to the pavement hurriedly, sheepishly. She looked up as she held out her hand, her large eyes observing him amusedly, and remarked—

"Well, what's the news?"

"Oh, nothing certain."

"Well, come and have tea with me?" She moved on, leaving him to overtake her in a stride.

"Yes, I'll take you to tea, Miriam."

She glanced at him.

"But 'nobody asked you, sir, she said!’"

"Well, of course it comes to the same thing," he retorted.

"Nothing of the sort! I asked you to tea with me. Don't start that idiotic argument all over again."

"But—but—it's—I've told you; I can't let a girl pay——"

"Rubbish; you're too English! You'd better tea by yourself." He hesitated, frowning.

She looked up at him with a laugh; then her lips tightened.

"It isn't the fact of the things; it's the principle."

"Yes, I know," he said as they turned toward a tea-room in the cool quietude of Clifford's Inn. "You've explained that fact most lucidly, but all the same——"

"You think that because you're a man," she caught him up, "that it's an insult to your dignity. Rubbish!"

"As a matter of fact," she began again as soon as they were seated and had ordered tea, "you have an idea that it is symbolical of the rights of women."

"Oh, Lord!" he groaned.

She laughed.

"Women who earn their own living have a perfect right to equality with men. There are men who are just as incapable, just as inefficient as any woman. But there are women—I, Lordly Creature," tapping him on the shin with a dainty foot, "I am quite as capable of earning my living as you—Salt of the Earth!"

He smiled indulgently.

"Yes; in some cases. But even then it never is the same work as a man does."

"Poof, and why not?"

"Well, as dressmakers, milliners, needle-workers and—and all that sort of thing, and even then men——"

He paused doubtfully, gazing at her twitching lips.

"Sugar, Lordly Creature?"

"Don't be a fool, Miriam!" he said sourly. "A woman's place is behind the shelter of man. He works, fights, conquers, to her gain."

"Are you fighting and conquering for a woman's gain?"

"Just like a woman!" he retorted. "Mere sentimentality."

"Exactly what is sentimentality?"

"Love—and all that."

"Dear me! Really?"

Their glances met. He laughed with the satisfaction of one parrying a dangerous thrust from the enemy.

"Sentimental bosh of the worst description. Plato——"

"Plato is dead! Live and see for yourself. You'll find out one day!"

"I?" He laughed derisively. "My dear Miriam, one of the great points that I value is that we can be pals, that you never expect me—like every other girl—to make love to you."

Her eyes twinkled. She opened her lips to say something, changed her mind and said—

"Have some more tea, Alan?"

"No, thanks," he said looking at his watch, "I must run up to the office. If there's any fresh development in the Moroccan imbroglio I may have to get away immediately. By the way, Miriam, if I should have to leave in a hurry I sha'n't have time to run home, so you might make a point of seeing the mater and—explaining things. She's always absurdly anxious, imagines things——"

"And doesn't understand men's affairs, eh? But supposing I can't get away?"

"Why not? You've only the usual shop to attend to."

"But I might go abroad, too."

He laughed indulgently.

"My dear child, you're a brilliant journalist—for a woman."

"Thank you!" she said with a short laugh.

"But—oh, women are very well within limits but——"

"What limits, pray?"

"Well, you know what your work is—at races, balls, crushes and all that sort of thing—social work, but——"

"Well, but what? Go on."

"Hang it, Miriam, you can't expect to do a man's work."

"Really! Why not?"

"Well, how on earth could you tackle my job? Fancy a woman as a war correspondent! Why, obviously it's impossible."

"How? Why?"

"Oh, don't be absurd, child! How could a woman travel in Morocco alone, get through the tribes or into some blockaded town, for instance?"

"Well? You haven't explained!"

He jerked out his cigaret-case irritably.

"Well?"

"Oh, I can't be bothered to explain the obvious!"

HER EYES glinted angrily for a moment; then she sat back in the chair to watch him light his cigaret. She observed the broad shoulders and huge limbs, the flaxen hair above his long clean-shaven face. He was not bad-looking really, she decided. The high forehead, straight nose, and prominent jaw suggested a horse's head—a nice horse that she wanted to pat. She smiled at the idea and thought it a pity that his eyes were a trifle small as he stared rather sulkily at his boots. A young giant, but lacking … She pulled herself up short and said slowly—

"Alan?"

"Yes?"

"Do you know that you badly need a hiding?"

He smiled complacently, palpably rejoicing in his physique.

"Who's going to give it to me?" he demanded, stretching his arms.

"I'm going to! No, not physically, you (glorious, she had nearly said). "You animal, I'm going to give you a good lesson."

He laughed and stood up.

"Come along, my child," he said moving toward the pay desk.

"No, you don't," cried Miriam and slipped in front of him.

"Miriam, don't be——"

"You dare!" she flashed upon him. He turned away with an impatient sigh to wait while she received change.

"I do feel a fool!" he confided to a print on the wall.

"And you are!" said Miriam as she joined him. "Come along!"

They walked up Fleet Street together. She waited whilst he went into his office. He was away longer than Miriam expected and she began to grow impatient. At last he reappeared smiling restrainedly.

"When're you going?" she asked.

"Tomorrow night—overland to Gib. Just seen the chief," he said endeavoring to curb his school-boy excitement.

"And then?"

"On to Fez, to interview the sultan. Latest news is that General Moinier is leaving from Rabat at the request of the sultan to relieve Fez. It's what I told you would happen months ago."

"D'you think Fez will fall?"

"No. The French'll get there all right—unless some one cuts Hafid's throat. Then the Germans will chip in. Then there'll be a lovely row!" he declared enthusiastically.

"The Germans?" said Miriam thoughtfully. "I hadn't thought of that. I must read up the subject."

"Do!" said Alan. "Then you'll be able to follow my stuff better. I'll write you, too."

"Thanks," said Miriam and laughed.

"What're you laughing at?" he demanded.

"Nothing!"

"H'm. Come and lunch with me to-morrow? Shall be leaving by the evening boat-train and, I say, don't forget the mater, will you?"

"If I have time."

"Course you'll have time."

"Going on the bust this evening I suppose?" she inquired looking him full in the eyes.

"Promised to dine some of the boys," he said grinning.

"H'm—men! Well, good-by, Alan—and good luck. Remember what I told you."

"What you told me?"

"Yes, about a good hiding," she said smiling.

"Oh," said he as one dismissing a trivial question. "My dear girl—but I'll see you tomorrow so——"

"No you won't, I shall be busy."

"Busy! Why?"

"Yes, never mind: you'll know sometime. Good-by—and don't be surprised when we meet again."

"Oh that'll be six months or more—snow and mistletoe at home, eh? Good-by!"

"Good-by, Alan!"

He raised his hat and strode way, his chin a trifle higher, shoulders a little farther back. Miriam watched him for a moment with an enigmatic smile and turning dived into the traffic, making straight to the library of her paper.

She nodded to one of the girls in charge.

"Morocco, please—Revolution, 1908," said Miriam curtly.

The girl went to one of the many lines of pigeonholes containing hundreds of docketed envelopes and selected a large fat one with which Miriam retired to an adjacent desk, sat down and with notebook and pen- cil proceeded to wade through a vast mass of newspaper cuttings on Morocco.

It was after nine o'clock by the time that Miriam left the library to snatch a hurried dinner and finish some articles for the third and fourth editions.

Contrary to her usual custom she arrived in Fleet Street in the morning and requested a personal interview with her editor after the conference. At last she was ushered into the great man's sanctum. Langley was a notoriously difficult man to handle. She exercised great tact in broaching the proposition.

At first he would not hear of it, although he approved of the idea.

"No, no; it's quite impossible. Quite impossible, Miss Vickers, I'm sorry."

"Why is it impossible? Because I'm a woman?"

"Well, yes; obviously."

"Then you're going to send a man?"

"Yes."

"And steal my idea—Agadir?"

"Really, Miss Vickers, you place me in a very awkward position."

"It isn't awkward at all, Mr. Langley, let me go!"

"But you'd never get in, be murdered, held for ransom, or carried off into the—er—interior. You don't understand what might happen."

"Oh, yes, I do; quite. And take the risk. Come, Mr. Langley, don't be so hide- bound by convention. Women can do fine things sometimes. Think, I'm pleading for my sex as well as myself."

"But you ought not to, Miss Vickers. Sex ought not to enter into business."

"Exactly!" cried Miriam triumphantly. "Now you can't refuse!"

Langley smiled grimly.

"Expediency, my dear Miss Vickers. I daren't take the risk of answering to my people if anything happened—to a woman. Think what the public would say."

"Easily got over. I'll use a male nom de guerre. That's a sacrifice, Mr. Langley."

He shook his head and frowned slightly.

"I can not do it, Miss Vickers," he announced in a tone of finality. "I'm very pressed for time."

"You must let me go, Mr. Langley. Now everything is a matter of price I'll go for my expenses only."

"No; the odium—the responsibility would be just the same."

"Wait; I'll go in my own name at my own expense. You pay for stuff published—usual foreign rates. You can't afford to refuse that."

"H'm." Langley paused, pursing his hard clean-shaven lips.

"Use a male nom de guerre and it's a bargain."

"You're close, Mr. Langley, but women and beggars can't be choosers I suppose. I agree."


Chapter II

 Be wise, young Jackal, open not by day:
Await the somber safer face of night.
Be sure that all you meet upon the way
Are greyhounds, trained to run you down at sight.

Sidi Hammo.

SOME three weeks later Miriam rose from breakfast on board the R. M. S. Agadir to see the streak of white foam of the sandy coast-line run out in a gossamer thread into the horizon where, about a point on the port bow, appeared the dazzling white tops of minarets floating in the refraction of the sun's glare.

Steadily the ship throbbed her way through the empty blue seas, lessening the mirage effect of the distant city until the white houses grew above the black rocks, and the funnels and masts of a French cruiser at anchor materialized against the dark of the land beyond.

Lunch was just ending as they steamed through the deep-water passage and swung to anchor alongside the cruiser. From the deck of the steamer the town, a mass of white-topped houses snuggling within the encircling ramparts, nestled half upon the sandy shore and half upon the greeny-black rocks, where the old arched water-gate stood at the brink of the water in dignified challenge.

To the right of the town was a fair stretch of hard sand sweeping up into the dunes which ran on to the southwest into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains; behind the ship stretched a linked arm of small islets, a natural breakwater against the Atlantic seas. In the blue of the sea and sky the Moorish town scintillated and gleamed like a rare jewel set in the gold of the sand, justifying the native name Es-Sueira, The Picture.

Miriam was more than a little excited at having arrived at the beginning of the great adventure which would prove her theory right or wrong, a theory evolved from a careful study of the map that the objective of the Germans in the first move of the international game of chess for the possession of Morocco would be Agadir, the finest seaport on the Atlantic coast and the key to the great caravan route from the south, closed to trade for fifty years by treaty.

Her plans for the moment were chaotic; and a little fluttered by the fear that Alan or some other male correspondent would have happened upon the same idea. An- other British steamer was not expected until the next week; but she had heard that an Italian, French or German boat might turn up any day, all things being erratic and unforeseen in Morocco. Hence her rather flurried determination to make a start at once.

Within an hour Miriam had been baptized in the clinging odor and lazy hum of the Orient once more. At the hotel she had engaged a sharp-faced young guide who spoke a broken English. Feeling that she could conduct inquiries better herself than trust to distortive interpretation she demanded to be taken to the Jewish quarter for although she had no Arabic, she had a sound knowledge of Spanish—archaic Spanish studied as a hobby—which most of the Jews of the Moghreb spoke in the tongue of old Castile, a relic of their forefathers in the peninsula.

She had not as yet formulated any definite plan by which she might gain access to Agadir. The idea of engaging servants and boldly setting out from Mogador was, she saw, quite impracticable; for the one reason that the American consul would never permit her to leave. No; it must be by strategy. The method she intended to investigate was an attempt to approach by water. Failing that, she left the Fates to decide, with the mental reservation that go she would—somehow.

"Tcha Houdi?" expostulated Ahmed in disgust.

Miriam insisted, so with a muttered curse calling the wrath of Allah upon Jews and other infidels Ahmed led the way, seeing many perquisites falling into other pockets than his own.

At the end of the narrow street she came upon the ship-party of tourists, suburban dames, sprawling uncomfortably on the backs of donkeys, with indignant noses and perpetual expressions of nervousness at the unstable nature of their straw saddles at which they clawed with frantic fingers; others struggled vainly to appear at home perched upon the red-flanneled cumbrous saddles of their mules; all in too desperate an alarm to do other than appreciate the variety and pungency of the street smells.

Now Miriam had omitted to make the orthodox farewells in sheer dread of the storm of inquisitive questions which would surely accompany the amenities.

"Why, there's Miss Vickers!" cried the foremost dame and immediately fell off her donkey.

During the ensuing hubbub of shrill laughs, cries of distress, and guttural objurgations of the donkey-boys, Miriam made her escape by turning down the first handy turning, which happened to be a narrow dark alley scarce six feet wide, over which the houses met. Hurrying through this tunnel, wondering whether Ahmed would have the sense to follow her, she came out into a small open space thronged with white-robed Moors, amid the dust and filth of horses, camels, mules, and donkeys, grunting and heehawing.

A group of mountaineers, wild elf-locked Berbers with camel-hair turbans, turned to stare at her, their hawk-noses and fierce eyes questioning, covetous. Miriam turned aside to avoid them and met the dark somber eyes of a Moor at her elbow. That look, inscrutable, yet suggestive of unthinkable vices, sent a thrill of apprehension through her. She knew well the insolent expression of certain types of European men, but they seemed artificial in comparison to the calm assurance and depth of wickedness in those Moorish eyes.

SHE turned away to look up the passage. For the first time she felt a misgiving at the prospect of traveling alone in this barbarous country. There was no sign of Ahmed, but out of the gloom of the tunnel appeared a tall gray-bearded figure, clad in a black pill-box cap and black soutane, a veritable patriarch stepping out of a Biblical picture.

As she stood irresolute, not daring to turn for fear of those hideous glances, he came toward her slowly. He glanced at her curiously and at the motley crowd beyond. Evidently her distress was written upon her face; for he paused in front of her as if desiring to speak, but embarrassed for need of the medium of speech. She saw a kindly dignity seasoned with a touch of cunning at the back of those bright black eyes.

"Where does this road lead to?" she inquired in Spanish.

The old Jew showed no surprise, save by the lighting up of his eyes, as, with a gesture of greeting full of exquisite grace, he saluted her and said:

"This is a fondak (caravansary). The doña has lost her road?"

"No, señor," replied Miriam. "I sought to take a short-cut. I thank you, I will go back."

"If the doña will permit," said the patriarch, "I will conduct her. She has lost her guide?"

"Yes; Ahmed is a fool; he——"

At that moment a scrawny creature clad in rags, with a brown-seamed face like a gargoyle, brushed roughly past her and spat fiercely between them, rasping out a string of curses.

"The beast!" exclaimed Miriam, glaring after him angrily.

But the Jew apparently had neither heard nor seen the insult, for he was saying imperturbably—

"If the doña will follow me?"

His voice was almost drowned by the voluble curses of his aggressor, the loud laughter of the Moors and the muleteers in the vicinity. Miriam's anger merged into a wave of admiration for the calm dignity of the patriarchal Jew. As she turned to follow him he halted, with his back to the fanatic, who was still spewing curses, sheltering her, and with a courtly gesture bade her go on in front. The action and the grace impressed the girl. No one in this generation, she thought, could have survived the incident with the same inimitable dignity: it was medieval.

And the street thronged with donkeys, mules and horses—the jarring note in the shape of the party of tourists had disappeared—the glimpse of the embattled ramparts with the narrow slits in the bastions fashioned for arrows, made her forget her own incongruous clothes. A French naval officer, smartly uniformed and dapper, making his way through the crowd, seemed like some strange being from another century. As she paused for a moment to allow the Jew to overtake her, she felt a sensation of giddiness as her mind escaped the bonds of suggestion and readjusted itself to reality.

At a little distance along her guide turned off down a cobbled lane to the left and presently halted at a narrow blue door. She was ushered into an open courtyard paved with blue and white tiles; the whitewashed pillars and the mattresses ranged beside the walls in a large room opposite, were scrupulously clean. The yellow sun threw the arched veranda into violet shade, cool and restful.

The old man clapped his hands and in response a young girl with prominent dark eyes, and rosy cheeks appeared. She was dressed in a dark-blue caftan; twisted 'round her black hair was a brilliantly yellow kerchief, and in her small ears large gold earrings. He said something in Hebrew, whereat she laughed merrily and moved away, her slippers shuffling over the tiles, to reappear with another woman similarly clad but elderly and stout.

Miriam was soon seated, uncomfortably enough in European costume, upon the edge of one of the mattresses on the floor. Sweet coffee was brought. The old man sat quietly in one corner, his wife and daughter near to Miriam talking politely in Spanish. Their eyes, shyly inquisitive, questioned every article of her attire.

Gradually Miriam began to lose her sense of strangeness and led the talk upon the ways and customs of the country, to the trend of opinion concerning the present sultan and the general situation, gaining copy as a good journalist should. When at length Miriam intimated that she would like to leave they insisted that she must break bread with them. Miriam felt a queer sense of shame in pretending to pro- test that she must go whilst she really wished and intended to stay.

The breaking of bread was a ceremonious affair of many dishes; chiefly cous-cous, an Arab dish of semolina but made in the Jewish style with raisins. Although she soon felt very much at home there was an ever-recurring sense of incongruity. The manipulation of her Parisian-shod feet troubled her; her sun-hat became an abomination and her comparatively loose skirt developed the tentacles of an octopus in cramping her limbs. She longed to throw them away, and envied the cool caftan and bare feet of the little goggle-eyed Jewess. Boots indeed seemed a sacrilege on the smooth tiled floor.

At last she was driven to discard her hat and, scarcely realizing what she was doing, so fumbled with her hairpins that her long black tresses rolled down her back to the admiration of her hostess and daughter.

There seemed an atavistic sense of her natural environment in the air. She was impelled to confide in the patriarch sitting there so wise and dignified. She felt sure that they would not betray her. For a moment she conquered the desire and, to compromise, began to talk of Agadir.

The old man, Musa Ben Ibrahim, described the place to her. She was conscious of exaltation when he announced that he had relatives and many business friends there. He held forth long and earnestly against the tyranny and injustice of the Kaid Gilhooli, chief of the district. Miriam inquired whether it were possible to approach the town by water, saying that she had a friend who thought of going that way. Ben Ibrahim wagged a forefinger in dissent. It would be quite impossible to get a boat of any sort to undertake the trip from Mogador. He advised her friend not to attempt it. The land journey was the usual way, but dangerous even for Moorish or Jewish merchants. Miriam's heart sank.

AT THAT moment little Zara, who had taken a great fancy to Miriam and had seated herself as close as she dared to her, could restrain her curiosity no longer. Her black eyes goggling with excitement she craved permission to see and handle a string of blue Egyptian beads which Miriam wore. Miriam unfastened and handed them to Zara who yelped with delighted admiration, flinging a score of questions. Then Miriam, her disappointment dulled for the moment by the distraction, asked to be allowed to see the girl's hair kerchief.

Zara laughed delightedly at the compliment as she quickly unwound it. Miriam, after admiring the texture, laughingly put it over her own head. Zara, quick to grasp an idea, wriggled over and bound it in the Jewish fashion over Miriam's long hair, and sat back with many "Eh! ehs!" of admiration, pointing a triumphant podgy finger. Miriam glanced at her host. He was staring at her in amazement.

"By Abraham!" he cried. "Look, my woman, she is one of us!"

Miriam flushed and laughed. Zara, with a little cry sprang up and pattered away, she returned, staggering under the weight of a gilded mirror which her father assisted her to rest on the floor. Miriam gave an involuntary cry of astonishment. The bright-yellow kerchief bound about her own raven hair, her own large Latin eyes, olive-tinted complexion and red lips formed the picture of a typical Oriental Jewess, peering amazedly. With heavy gold earrings and the caftan the resemblance would have been perfect.

For a moment or two Miriam was annoyed. Then she gave a gasp and sat back abruptly, staring at the patriarch in the corner. The solution of the problem of entering Agadir had flashed into her mind. In the Jewish garb nobody, not even a Moor, would suspect her American nationality. She felt an almost overwhelming desire to hug the old man, to tear off her boots and European clothes, to dance, sing, laugh, and cry at the same time.

With an effort she controlled herself, smiled and gave back the kerchief to Zara. As a preliminary, she told little Zara to keep the Egyptian necklace, to the little one's wild delight, who, not to be outdone in courtesy, insisted that Miriam should accept the hair kerchief.

Miriam now keen upon business, thanked her absent-mindedly. She reflected that this man had relatives at Agadir and business dealings. He would surely be sending, or having a share, sooner or later, in some caravan going to Agadir. She must persuade him to let her go disguised as a Jewess.

Talking and smiling abstractedly she thought out her plan of action. She had contemplated going as a Moorish woman, but as such great difficulties would have to be overcome; for her liberty would be necessarily restricted, and she had no liking to trust herself in the hands of any Moor. A panic seized her that Alan or some other correspondent might arrive at any moment. She must lose no time but strike whilst the opportunity served. After a short preamble to the effect that she was a woman writer in which she had some difficulty in convincing them—they seemed to think it a great joke and laughed discreditingly—she plunged straight into her proposition.

At first it was received with uplifted palms of horror. It was impossible—if anything happened the American consul would hold him responsible. But when Miriam pointed out that she was prepared to pay well the refusals became less emphatic; and she hinted that there were sure to be other Jews who would not be so timid. After an excited colloquy with his wife amid much gesticulation he agreed. Then came the crux of the argument—the price. For all his patriarchal benevolence and hospitality, the mention of douro—long and gesticulatory was the bargaining, but at length it was completed.

There was no caravan leaving for two weeks, he protested; but in consideration of certain money one should leave on the morrow with Miriam in charge of his son and little Zara as her maid.

The sky was a pageant of scarlet and amber, fading to violet over the dense blue of the sea as Miriam returned to the hotel. Here she discovered the proprietor in a state of incoherent excitement imploring the consul to organize a search-party as Ahmed had returned with the news that Miss Vickers had been kidnaped. Miriam almost laughed herself into hysterics; more at the thought of her success than at the corpulent distress of Boniface.


Chapter III

Bismillah! Here's ink, a fair tablet, a pen,
I'll set down the names of your enemies, men.
The wandering bees, which betray the rich store;
These, these are your foes, and will be evermore!

Sidi Hammo.

FIVE days later a small caravan wound through a rugged and rocky defile. The glare of the afternoon sun shone straight into the eyes of the travelers. In the van riding sideways upon a decrepit pack-horse, was Yakub Bin Musa, a young Jew, who, with his black cropped hair and small mustache was of a type which, save for the black fez cap and dirty gray soutane might be seen any day in London or New York, immaculately clad in conventional garb.

Behind straggled a small train of pack-donkeys in the midst of which were a party of three men—a boy of fifteen and two ancients—and two women. All were mounted on donkeys astride or sideways upon the straw-filled packsaddles as big as half a sofa. For miles they had plodded along the rugged mountain-side in silence save for objurgatory oaths on the part of the men toward the animals who traveled patiently with the blasé air of their kind, the big ears swaying listlessly.

To the south the land fell away in rough undulations like enormous tumuli, to a vast plain across which meandered a faint broad track, as of an army—the great highway across the Sus from Timbuktu and the Soudan. Scattered at long intervals were a few mud-walled villages, glinting white in the sunlight, and on the horizon the blue of distant hills. Behind the ground rose in jumbles masses of sandy rock and sward losing itself in the brown and blue of the heights of the lower Atlas Mountains, bold and stately.

Presently in a twist of a hill path a group of horsemen appeared: three wore the dignified white robes and hoods of the Moor and were mounted on scarlet saddles; the others in the van were wild-looking Arabs in gray woolen garments, black elflocks peeping out below their camel-hair turbans, long-barreled guns sticking out across their pommels. As they approached, riding in the insolent manner of the conquering race, the Jewish party drove their animals off the track to allow them to pass.

The Jews cringed as the white-clad leaders rode in haughty silence, apparently unaware of their presence. The ragged mob of the escort favored them with disdainful glances, a few muttered "Ya Houdi (Jew)!" accompanying the reproach with a contemptuous spit.

But as the three came abreast of the two women, one, a falcon-faced man, deliberately rode over to the elder of the two girls, pulled up his horse so that it barred her donkey's progress and bending over in his saddle peered insolently into her face. As he made a loud remark in Arabic with gleaming teeth and eyes afire, the little girl, a few paces behind, screamed in alarm. The men of their party stared helplessly.

The large sloe eyes of the girl were wide with alarm as she tried to drive her donkey 'round, exclaiming:

"Zid! zid (go on)."

The other horsemen who had slowed up to see the fun, laughed and shouted ribald remarks. The Moor bent further over in his saddle, grinning wickedly. Miriam's eyes flashed angrily; she swayed backward in the saddle, clutching with one hand to keep her seat as she swung the other with all her force in a resounding slap across her persecutor's face.

The man shot upright in his saddle like a released spring, speechless with indignant amazement. Never in all his roving life had he had such an experience from a woman—and by Allah, a daughter of a filthy Jew!

Miriam, mad angry, kicked her donkey into motion and smacking his head on one side—for she had no reins—piloted him 'round an equestrian statue of a Moor. The Jews were dumb with fright, fearing instant retribution. The man's companions continued to ride on slowly, turning in their saddles to watch the comedy. The Moor stared blankly at Miriam as she passed him; hesitated; then breaking into a volley of curses against the Jews, rammed home the sharp edge of his stirrups and rode off with a clatter.

When Miriam had time to look at her companions she saw that they were yellow-gray, their teeth chattering like castanets. Her anger died as the danger passed.

"Beard of my father!" stuttered Yakub, "know ye not who they were? That was the Khalifa, Esha ben Fila!"

Miriam recollected that this man was the Moorish governor of the district. She looked back and laughed, feeling rather perky over her triumph; but her escort after exchanging glances, continued the march in silence. Indeed Miriam never quite realized, as the Jews did, that she had been within an ace of having the whole party massacred.

For another two hours the caravan plodded along monotonously, gradually descending and nearing the great broad track of the Sus highway. Little Zara, riding close to Miriam, could scarcely take her eyes off the heroine of such a great adventure, breaking out into little giggles of admiration. It began to dawn upon Miriam as, constantly changing her position on her uncomfortable pack to gain five minutes' relief to her aching back and cramped limbs, that she had let herself into a very precarious situation.

For some twenty awful minutes of depression, probably caused by the reaction from the excitement and the trying conditions of the journey, she regretted that she had ever undertaken the trip. She nursed, too, a sullen resentment against the men of her escort, despising them for their craven attitude, wholly forgetting that they were unarmed and, moreover, were of a race down-trodden and abused for centuries by her aggressor's people. She imagined with a thrill of the pride of race of what would probably have happened had Alan been with her.

Then the sequential train of thought that she was on the verge of success and scoring a point over Alan and other men, brought back her self-confidence and put her in an optimistic mood once more. Still heartily did she wish that the aching monotonous journey would come to an end as she—let it not be whispered in Gath— scratched herself—for in every village and tent in Morocco there are many varieties of insects-yearning mightily for a hot bath and carbolic soap.

AT LENGTH as the sun reached its zenith the mountain trail converged into the main caravan road scored by the tracks of countless camels, horses and mules. Within the next half-hour upon rounding a shoulder of the hillside the blue of water leaped into view, awaking Miriam from a tired and dusty lethargy into drumming her donkey's ribs impatiently with her bare heels. By degrees appeared the mud huts of Fonti scattered low on the beach; the rampart walls along the foreshore beyond; then perched high upon a conical mass of black rock, washed in creamy foam, a gray Moorish fort.

The town nestling between the walls, lay on the slope of a hillside some six hundred feet above the water, white and dazzling in the sunshine. Outside the walls a gray open space was crowded with a seething mass of men and animals, the sok—market- place—upon the farther side, outlining the tops of fairy minarets and the rugged turrets of the khalifa's castle, was the warm dark-green of an olive plantation.

Urging her donkey faster Miriam came up with Yakub who had pulled up at a turn of the trail commanding a view of the harbor. There was a look of relief on his face as if rejoicing at the prospect of losing the responsibility of his charge, as he exclaimed, pointing a dirty finger:

"Look, signorina! Agadir!"

Miriam's heart gave an exultant leap. Her eyes ran feverishly over the sweep of the rocky land behind the bastion into the curving blue of the headland ending in Cape Ghir eighteen miles away like a gigantic protecting arm forming an almost landlocked harbor. On the opposite low shore some miles away was the commencement of the Sus plain through which, near at hand, ran the Wadu Tamaraka and the Wadu Sus, low and out of sight.

As Miriam, an hour later, passed beneath the shadow of the Babes-Sus, the main gate of Agadir, with its huge metal-sheathed, nail-studded doors, into the narrow cobbled streets thronged with white-robed Moors, elf-locked Berbers, impassive woolen-garbed Susi, many negro slaves and a few hooded women, she felt that wonderful thrill of exultation on the accomplishment of a coveted ambition.

The excitement was fully sustained until in a mean little house, blue-washed as usual, but not like Ben Ibrahim's small palace at Mogador, Miriam had leisure to take stock of her temporary home. Her host was a mildewed little man, a snuffling wheezy Shylock, rapacious-eyed and predatory of nose; the hostess, a pallid bundle of dirty clothes. As a consolation there were two little girls with gollywog eyes and precocious minds who seemed gifted with a disinterested affection for Miriam, but which little Zara, out of jealousy perhaps, instantly pronounced to be cupboard love.

But that night as Miriam, after a lick and a promise with the aid of a cracked jar of water, saw to the safety of her baggage, consisting of two fountain pens, a supply of ink and paper and a revolver, she was in an irritable state of mind as well as body— particularly of body! All the romance of the great adventure seemed to have died—bitten to death as Miriam expressed it savagely. And when she had retired to her allotted mattress, she imagined how Alan would laugh at her.

Then the visual picture of herself indignantly denying it, crying "I—" scratch, scratch—"can stand it as well—" scratch, scratch—"as any man—" scratch, scratch, tickled her sense of humor. The spell of misery was broken. As she wriggled her head on the hard pillow made of a bundle of robes, and stretched her stiff and aching limbs, she chuckled.

The next day Miriam spent in writing. She went for a ramble in the evening under the escort of Yakub to the ramparts overlooking the bay, keenly observing the environment and catechizing him. Fortunately Yakub was a native of the place, so that she was able to glean brief biographies and estimate the relative importance of the notables, including a garbled history of the place—hah of which, unfortunately long after the copy had been sent away, she sadly discovered to have originated in the fertile brain of Yakub, too eager to please.

He pointed out to her the palace of the khalifa—a bad man and cruel according to Yakub—in the western end of the town just beyond the principal mosque. Immediately she desired to visit it. Yakub was horrified; he flatly refused to make any attempt to take her through the town at all until a bald promise of much backsheesh set his wits to work. Eventually he arrived at the conclusion that the visit might be accomplished in company with two old Jewesses who were permitted to visit the harem ladies to sell various trinkets and trading stuffs, but stipulating that it would require still more hassani to bribe the women.

As Miriam made a faint effort at haggling Yakub's eyes glinted greedily as he tried to think of some other tangible excuse for extracting more money. So it was settled that the venture was to be made upon the morrow.

Miriam sat herself upon an ancient cannon mounted upon a clumsy wooden carriage, the wheels of which were made of thick planks of wood bound together with heavy cross-laths, the impotent muzzle pointing through the embrasure commanding the bay. Away to the west of her was the little fishing-village of Fonti which they had passed on their trail, a few European-built towing-boats lying upon the small stretch of sand. About half a mile out a similar boat was approaching the town, the distant oar-blades sparkling in the sun. As she leaned idly admiring the deserted blue waters of the bay there floated out the call to prayer from the distant mosque:

"Al-lah Ak-ba-ah! Allah il Allah! La illaha il Allah, wa Mohammed er-rasool Al-la-a-ah!"

THE call rising in three notes to a high-pitched chant, rang out eerie and plaintive, dying away in sweet cadence to a faint echo in the hill beyond to be t caught up quite near her by another mueddin.

The first time that Miriam had heard the call to prayer she had been deeply impressed with the beauty and the calm mystery, in such antithesis to the fierce lustful creed which it represented. And here in Agadir isolated from any of her kind the effect was intensified. She glanced across at Yakub who was squatting in the shade of the rampart staring craftily at nothing, an avaricious smile playing over his mouth—probably thinking of the dollars he was going to make.

She felt that time had buckled back into the fifteenth century; that she was in another period, for the medieval environment was perfect. She found herself imagining that Yakub might well be the biblical Jacob as a young man. Noah she was sure was the replica of the dignified Ben Ibrahim at Mogador.

An approaching footstep startled her. She looked up to see a man of medium height in European clothes advancing. She stared for a moment, unable to believe her eyes; then panic seized her that she had failed after all; that this man was some correspondent who had stolen a march on her. He wore a shabby suit of gray, a light red tie, a dirty collar and a small artisan's cap. His lean face was shaped like a hatchet; two pale eyes peered sharply over a predatory nose.

Miriam glanced at Yakub interrogatively. He appeared startled and put one finger to his lips suggestively. Miriam was puzzled. Why should Yakub fear this man? He was now quite close. He glanced at Yakub and at her. Miriam felt the contempt in the look and flushed with annoyance, forgetting the guise in which he saw her. Then when nearly abreast of her he turned his head abruptly as if vexed at her scrutiny. He was about to replace a cigaret in his mouth, but the hand remained in mid-air as he paused and deliberately stared.

Miriam wondered what paper he represented and tried to decide whether he was English or not. She thought not. He passed on, looked 'round twice and, as if having made up his mind, turned back and came straight toward her. Miriam heard a muttered exclamation from Yakub. Suddenly recollecting that she was a Jewess she looked the other way and cast down her eyes, wondering what he was going to do. She felt an impulse to speak to him in French. It would be such a luxury to talk to a fellow-European—even if he were a rival correspondent— and if a foreigner it did not matter very much. She felt him look her up and down deliberately, insolently, and involuntarily she blushed.

"Ashkoonik?" he demanded abruptly.

She heard Yakub reply for her. She looked 'round at the stranger as he asked another question in Arabic which she could not understand. She decided that she did not like the snarling curve of his lips underneath the yellow mustache as he smiled at her.

"Je ne parle pas Arabic," she said curtly.

"So? Vous parlez français, eh, chérie?" he said.

Insolently smiling he advanced a step toward her and lifted a hand as if to chuck her under the chin.

"You dare!" exclaimed Miriam angrily, sliding off her gun.

The next instant she could have bitten her tongue off.

"Lieber Gott!"

He peered keenly at her.

"You are English!" he said, and sweeping off his cap apologized profusely.

He explained that he had meant no offense, but thinking her to be a Jewess, he could not understand her imperious tone. For quite three minutes he stood and explained in fluent English, whilst Miriam, weakening to his flattery, lost her sudden antipathy.

"My name is de Bouche," he continued, "Baron de Bouche. Whom have I——"

He raised his eyebrows interrogatively.

For a moment Miriam hesitated.

"Miriam Vickers is my name. I am American," she said. "Are you a—for a newspaper?"

"Nein—no. I have business here—that is all," he replied.

He appeared slightly disturbed at the mention of the press and eyed her sharply.

"What paper are you here for then, Miss Vickers?"

"Oh, none at all!"

She scarcely knew why she had made the denial.

"I am traveling—well," she laughed deliciously, suddenly developing a keen relish in diplomacy, "well, to tell you the truth I came here disguised like this from Mogador for fun more than anything else. I had a friend with me, but she wouldn't come. But it's been a delightful experience—rather rash I thought at first."

She was pleased at her own faculty for embroidery. She had looked him straight in the eyes as she had made the statement, but he seemed too engrossed in admiring her face to be hypercritical.

"So? Yes," he replied; "it was rash. You are returning now?"

"Oh, I don't know—perhaps. When I get tired of the novelty."

"So? If you will pardon me offering advice it would be well for you to return soon. This is no place for—forgive me— a handsome woman."

"So I have discovered," retorted Miriam smiling.

"So? But you do not realize the danger."

He spoke emphatically but with the manner of a man carrying on a rational conversation and thinking about something else at the same time; his eyes never ceased devouring her face and figure. She became uncomfortable and the antipathy returned.

"Oh, I'm aware of the danger," she said.

"So?"

HE TALKED on for some time in a similar strain urging her to leave. Yakub sat silent, watching the two. At length Miriam said that she was going home and called to Yakub. The baron bade her "good night," explaining that he dared not escort her through the town for fear of drawing the attention of the Moors to her.

"Who is that man, Yakub?" she inquired as soon as they were out of earshot and in a quiet lane.

"Es-sid-el Keleeb," returned Yakub, who was obviously greatly perturbed.

"Why has he that name?"

"Because he has been about Morocco for many years and used to have with him always a little dog; on horseback or mule the dog was always with him; that is why the Moors call him the master-of-the-little-dog. He is a bad man. The Moors and Jews alike hate him. One day——"

Yakub leered and drew a finger across his throat.

At that moment, although Yakub chose the most deserted way, they came upon a small sok of shops. Half-way through the crowded space, there was a cry of "Baiaak! Balaki!"—make way—as, preceded by two ragged soldiers, a swarthy-bearded Moor appeared, clad in white, riding on a richly caparisoned horse.

"El khalifa!" whispered Yakub, and drew Miriam aside into the throng to permit the great man to pass.

The coal-black slave, walking at the horse's head, mocking the sultan's pomp and ceremony, struck Miriam across the shins with a staff. Miriam stifled a cry as Yakub roughly dragged her farther into the press. She looked 'round angrily as the yellow shoe and bare heel encased in the shovel stirrup of the governor brushed her hip, to meet a pair of tired eyes squinting down a falcon nose.

Then to her horror she recognized him as he pulled up his horse and bent over toward her She heard a smothered whine from Yakub and a host of unintelligible remarks from the uncouth crowd about her. The khalifa was saying something to her.

"She is my cousin, ya sidi," whined Yakub.

"What is thy name, Jew?"

Miriam fascinated with fright mechanically noted the lean brown hands holding the crimson reins, the thick sensual lips and the pouched eyes.

"Yakub Bin Musa," snuffled Yakub.

The crowd was eagerly peering about, straining to catch a glimpse of the khalifa's new fancy. Several muttered curses and contemptuous cries of "Houdi! Keleeb Houdi"—dogs and Jews. She felt the fierce scrutiny once more; then he nodded and with a word to his slaves rode on.

After the clattering escort had passed Yakub hurried her along amid laughs and curses from the released mob, humming like a swarm of bees. As soon as they were in a quiet street once more, Yakub hastened her along, wailing that all was lost; that the khalifa was a bad man and bemoaning their fate generally.

After this excitement had died down Miriam bribed Yakub to keep silent on the matter; for she foresaw that the Jewish family would take fright and insist upon her departure if they knew. Yakub eventually consented, avarice overcoming fear.

That night she returned to her interrupted topic of the baron, upon which Yakub, safe in the recesses of his house, proceeded to enlarge. The baron, vide Yakub, spoke almost every European language with equal fluency; he had been in Morocco for some eight years engaged in running arms and ammunition—a great deal of it through Agadir, so Yakub said—and in trading or stealing cattle. He was treacherous, and many parts of the c6untry were barred to him lest he meet the just wrath of some swindled Moor. This was interesting enough, Miriam thought, but it was not until Yakub mentioned as if of no importance, that the baron was in league with Germany that Miriam's journalistic instincts were fully aroused.

"With Germany? How?" demanded Miriam.

"Señor Baron," said Yakub, "has for a long time spent much money, money from Germany. That is why the Moors here do not kill him. He is under protection of the khalifa."

Yakub rubbed his forefinger and thumb together, the eloquent gesture signifying dollars.

"But what does he do here?" inquired Miriam eagerly.

"He promises that Germany shall help the Moors against the dogs of French—but he lies," observed Yakub emphatically.

"Why?"

"He lies," he asserted gesturing. "He pays many dollars to make them listen to him. As long as the river of dollars lasts so long will they listen to him, but when it is dry——"

He leered suggestively.

"But how do you know that he is acting for Germany?"

"They say these things in the sok—and my aunt and cousin hear them from the harem ladies of the khalifa. Señor Baron lives in a house of the khalifa. Yes, it is so," said Yakub, and added nonchalantly as he rose to his feet, "Señor Baron has promised that a German war-ship will come to Agadir to prove his words—pah!"

"What?" exclaimed Miriam agog. "War-ship in Agadir! I was right!" she added excitedly in English. "Sit down Yakub! Are you sure? When?"

"Allah only knows—Munana (tomorrow). Come, signorina, Zara is calling to supper!"

But Miriam's pen was racing at top speed.

TWO days had elapsed before Miriam was enabled to make the promised visit to the harem of the khalifa. In the large tiled courtyard opening on to the gardens she squatted in company with the two old Jewesses whilst they displayed their goods and haggled with the ladies of the harem, a motley group of women; a few old and haggard, others mere children of fourteen with dark sloe eyes and velvet skins, their fat arms—for avoirdupois is beauty in Moorish eyes—smothered in silver bangles, their hair and ears similarly bedecked.

Among the attendant slaves, huge gross eunuchs and negresses, Miriam noticed a sweetly pretty half-caste, lean, and therefore despised. She was as active as a leopardess and had a petulant discontented expression. Miriam made friends with the aid of a silver bangle upon observing that she could speak Spanish. Her name was Ramah and her face lit up with mischievous pleasure on learning what Miriam desired her to do. Gossip is half the soul of a Moorish woman.

Two, three, four more days passed and still no sign of the promised diplomatic coup. Miriam began to think uneasily of those close-written sheets she had dis- patched by special runner to her agent in Mogador. Except for an early morning walk upon the ramparts approached by a circuitous route in the vain hope of seeing the war-ship, Miriam, after the episode in the sok, was kept almost a close prisoner in the Jewish house. On the third day, to Miriam's annoyance, the baron walked into the house. He apologized for calling, excusing himself on the grounds that he had heard that she had not taken his advice, and was anxious for her safety.

He dismissed the Jews from the room in an autocratic manner. Miriam objected, but he feigned not to have heard her. He was a born raconteur; he entertained her with vivid stories of sport, duelling, intrigue and adventure in every capital in Europe to the wilds of Borneo and China. He seemed to have been everywhere and done everything—and everybody, beating down Miriam's antipathy until at times she thought him the most fascinating man she had ever met. Again he urged her to leave, gazing at her the whole time with undisguised admiration. But Miriam felt afraid of the man and was relieved when he departed.

One moonlight evening she arrived upon the ramparts to see the somber shape of a gunboat lying at anchor some two miles out, stealthy and ominous under the flocculent sky. She stared, drinking in the sight and thinking with a triumphant smile of Alan. She was aroused from her pleasing reverie by an exclamation from Yakub and looked up to see the baron approaching her.

"Ah, good evening, Miss Vickers."

"Look! Look!" cried Miriam, forgetting her dislike of the man and pointing across the bay. "There's the war-ship."

"The war-ship?" he repeated quickly.

"I mean," said Miriam recollecting, "a war-ship. What is it, a cruiser? Do tell me and why is she here?"

"No, it's a gunboat," returned the baron, coming close to her. "But I want to talk of something else to you."

There was a thick note in his voice that made Miriam glance 'round at him.

"Briefly this," he turned suddenly to Yakub and said harshly: "Emshii! (go away.)"

Yakub went a few paces, watching the baron with frightened eyes.

"How dare you order my servant about?" demanded Miriam.

"So? I dare anything and anybody when I wish," said the baron quietly, looking at Miriam hungrily. "I have warned you to leave here. You will not. Herr Gott—now I tell you I love you. So? Don't start from me!" he added with a snarl intended for a smile as Miriam shrank from him. "You are in great danger. Leave with me under my protection. You can not go by road. I have a ship coming in a few days. You will come with me?"

"I sha'n't do anything of the sort," exclaimed Miriam angrily, although her heart beat faster.

"So? When I want a thing I take it," said the baron, watching her with a piercing stare. "You will come with me?"

"No, I will not! You dare——"

"So? Then choose—the khalifa has seen you and seeks you. You are the sort who inflame men's minds! Think—imagine what will happen to you—in the harem, so? Sid Eisha has a taste for sweet womanhood—now, little fool, choose!"

Miriam grew pale as she realized her peril. Her thoughts raced—if only Alan …"

"Gott verdampf nochmal, der Teufel soll's holen—choose, you devil-faced beauty."

A floccus of cloud obscured the moon.

"I shall appeal for protection to that war-ship out there," she exclaimed, pointing her ringer across the bay.

The baron laughed.

"So? I think not, little fool."

He took a step forward, his eyes aflame. Miriam in a panic whipped out her revolver. But with a catlike spring the baron seized her wrist and twisted the gun out of her hand.

"Yakub, Yakub!" she panted, but Yakub had vanished.

The baron flung her from him, lifted the revolver over the parapet with the toe of his boot and laughed in her face.

"You she-devil," he said, "I love you all the more. Go home now and think it over. Adios!"

And with a ceremonious bow he turned and walked off. For a moment Miriam stared after him, white and panting with rage; then as he disappeared 'round the angle of the wall she buried her face in her hands, facing the placid gunboat out in the bay, and sobbed.


Chapter IV

Like artless fawn, each fair gazelle reposes
Upon her forest couch of musk and roses;
The air instinct with dreams of perfumed pleasure—
A sight, I swear, worth camel-loads of treasure.

Sidi Hammo.

ALAN CARFAX arrived at Rabat from Fez very pleased with himself. He had intended to lie perdu for a while watching events, but to his disgust he received a peremptory cable informing him of a big news scoop by an opposition paper, from their special correspondant at Agadir, prophesying the advent of a German war-ship. Alan smiled skeptically; but he began to wonder who his rival might be.

He hurried on to Mogador where he failed to discover a trace of any man having passed through. Finally he concluded that one Foote, a wily individual of the Daily Post, had stolen a march by water. There was not even a rumor in Mogador of any occupation of Agadir: every one scoffed at such an idea. Alan wrote a scathing article upon the credulity of newspaper correspondents in general and began preparations to set out for Agadir, filled with an unholy joy at the thought of the lemon he had handed to the other man—whoever he might be.

But when a week later he rode, preceded by a weedy red-capped soldier of the Makhzen, past Fonti and up the slope toward Agadir, he stared gloomily and swore as he caught sight of the Panther lying on the sunlit waters, grim and businesslike. But now. …

As he followed the soldier through the camel-skin tents and groups of tribesmen encamped in the outer sok he scarcely noticed the scowls and muttered curses against the infidel. His brain incessantly clamored for a solution of the problem. He saw that Wretched scathing article appearing and the ensuing wrath of his editor. He expected every moment to see the fat sardonic smile of Charlie Foote grinning triumphantly at him in the white-walled streets.

Abd-el-Kader, the soldier, had pulled up and roused him from his reflections with the remark that they must rest here.

"Fain?" demanded Alan.

"Here," returned the soldier. "Now I go to see the khalifa that he may give us—if Allah wills—a place to sleep."

Alan frowned at the delay; but by experience knew that it was inevitable. So Abd-el-Kader clattered away leaving Alan to squat in the shade of a wall in company with his muleteers and servants to pass the time in smoke and contemplation of Allah the All-Merciful. The muezzin was still chanting while they waited.

As Alan stared idly at the hovering flies, the clatter of hoofs made him look 'round to see another European mounted on a coal-black, long-maned stallion. At first Alan thought it was the redoubtable Foote, but a second glance revealed a hatchet-faced stranger. The man pulled up in front of him, his animal curveting and snorting trying to savage the meek steeds of Alan's party.

"Good afternoon," said the man after a piercing stare. "You're a correspondent, I suppose?"

"Yes, I am," retorted Alan taking umbrage at the domineering tone. "Who the devil are you?"

The man watched him with a quiet glare, curbing and sitting his resless mount like one of the Bersaglieri.

"Are you from the Daily Post?" demanded Alan.

The other smiled contemptuously.

"No, I have not that honor. By the way I would advise you to return to Mogador."

"Why?"

"Because you will find that this is not a healthy spot for a meddlesome journalist. Take my advice. Buenas noches;" and loosing rein he galloped up the deep-rutted street.

Alan stood gazing after him. He turned to his men.

"Who is he?"

"A son of Shaitan!" said a Moor tonelessly. "Es-sid-el-Keleeb."

A few minutes afterward Abd-el-Kader returned, pulled up his rickety animal and with an imperious wave of the hand beckoned them forward.

"Ajee!" (Come!)

"Ajee," echoed Alan angrily. "Who the devil are you talking to, you brown-faced baboon."

"Ajee!" repeated Abd-el-Kader with a face of bronze, and turning rode slowly up the street.

Alan would have dearly loved to have knocked him down, but he knew that he dared not. On the trip Abd-el-Kader had been most affable, but now … What was the reason?

Following the line of the walls Abd-el-Kader halted at last in a bare open space on the ramparts and intimated that they were to camp there. Alan objected, but was curtly told that such was the khalifa's order. He raged inwardly and demanded to be taken to the khalifa in person. At first Abd-el-Kader refused, saying that he was too tired. Alan mounted and rode off by himself, followed presently by Abd-el-Kader muttering pious curses on all infidels.

They arrived at the outer courtyard of the palace where Abd-el-Kader conversed apart with one of the khalifa's soldiers who glanced in Alan's direction, nodded, and departed. Abd-el-Kader squatted on the cobbles in the corner, produced a kiff pipe and placidly proceeded to smoke.

"Has he gone to tell the khalifa?" demanded Alan.

"If Allah wills!" returned Abd-el-Kader, exhaling smoke, in a voice devoid of expression.

"When shall we see him?"

"When Allah wills!"

"I must see him now—quickly—understand?"

"Allah is all merciful!"

Alan bit his lip and swore softly.

Half an hour passed slowly. The horses fidgeted, flicking at the flies with their long tails; Abd-el-Kader smoked with the eternal placidity of a Buddha. There was no other sign of life. The elongated shadows grew denser.

"Is he going to see me or not?"demanded Alan.

"If Allah wills," came the placid reply.

Alan swore violently; and curbed himself. He had been through similar ordeals so often.

"Who is that other Roumi (European) here?" he inquired presently.

"Allah only knows!"

"Abd-el-Kader!"

Abd-el-Kader looked up sleepily from his pipe with cold expressionless eyes.

"What ails thee?"

"Allah only knows!"

Alan gave it up. He felt a wild desire to attack some one violently—Abd-el-Kader for choice—and getting up, fell to pacing slowly the courtyard. Once a red-capped soldier appeared, stared at them with incurious eyes, and vanished.

THEN as he turned on his quarter-deck march he became aware of some one watching him. He glanced up and caught a glimpse of a pair of large bright eyes set in a frame of blue-black hair. He glanced at Abd-el-Kader, him absorbing dreams of paradise through the narrow pipe-stem. As Alan came back he watched. The eyes came above the level of the wall, twinkled and were followed by the face, a creamy olive-tinted face, with pomegranate lips and pearly teeth disclosed in a shy smile.

Alan forgot his annoyance and halted just below the wall. The huge silver earrings wobbled violently; the face disappeared and shot up again, peering curiously down at him. Alan seemed to have forgotten his pose as a misogynist. He glanced 'round cautiously.

"Who art thou?" he asked.

"Ra-mah!" came the reply deliciously sweet. Small hands with henna-stained nails came over the wall; the whole of her bust appeared and the girl gazed at him ardently.

"Thou are beautiful to look upon, oh, Roumi," she announced with the naive innocence of a wild creature.

"Oh!" said Alan inanely and blushed.

When he raised his eyes again—feeling an awful fool, as he expressed it—she was still watching him with longing eyes.

"What dost thou, oh, Roumi?" she inquired curiously.

"I am seeking audience with the khalifa," answered Alan, glad to escape from an embarrassing topic.

She smiled—gloriously, Alan thought involuntarily.

"Thou wilt not speak with him this day," she said, "for he is now with his women in the garden."

"Barakolofik! (Thank you!)" exclaimed Alan as he flushed with rage at the thought of the deliberate way in which he had been fooled.

"Mahababbikum! (A thousand times welcome)," she smiled at him. "Where dost thou live?"

"My tent will be pitched by the further ramparts," he replied somewhat sulkily. "Who art thou, oh, Ramah?"

"I am but the slave of the khalifa," she said; "but I find no favor in his sight."

There was a long pause.

"You're —— pretty!" exclaimed Alan suddenly in English.

Her eyes welled with delight, the whole of her face seemed transfigured as she read the flare of admiration in his eyes.

"Hamdullah! (Allah be praised!)" she exclaimed, "that I please my lord!"

And immediately Alan became self-conscious.

"I must go," he said sharply. "Good night, oh, Ramah!"

"Allah watch over thee," she responded softly.

He awakened Abd-el-Kader, far gone in the realms of kiff, with difficulty. As they neared the site of his camp he came upon a Jew and Jewess walking. Still thinking of Ramah he glanced idly at the girl, started and looked again. She was watching him and as he passed her she peered up into his face and laughed.

"Good God!" exclaimed Alan turning in his saddle, "what an extraordinary resemblance! If—" She turned and laughed again. "Why that's Miriam's double!"

Alan had much to think of that evening; of his position, of Ramah, and not a little of Miriam amid the roar of Fleet Street. He fell asleep—to dream of Ramah—who mysteriously changed like a dissolving view into Miriam.

Next morning as the rising sun tipped the minarets and white-topped roofs in a rosy flood, Alan rode up to the khalifa's palace once more, in company with one Bu Shaib, a red-bearded son of the Riff. This time the outer courtyard held a dozen horses and mules; some of their owners seeking audience, squatted patiently along the wall.

For over two hours Alan waited seeing one man after another summoned. At length when the last of the Moors had ridden away a huge black slave in white, with an enormous silver-hilted scimitar slung by a red sash, appeared at the inner gate and bawled out——

"Let the Nazarene come to my lord!"

Alan rose and was ushered into the inner courtyard where he found the Khalifa Esha Ben Fila seated cross-legged upon a carpet in the shade of an arch. His eyes, pouched and heavy, appeared impassively sullen.

A leather cushion or footstool was lying in the full glare of the sun on which Alan was told to sit. For a minute or two the khalifa feigned to be unaware of his presence continuing to talk in Shilhah—a Berber language of which Alan knew no word—to a scribe who sat at his feet with his horn and paper.

Alan broke in with the orthodox salutation. Ben Fila glanced carelessly at him as one might on noticing a cat in the room, and nodded, mumbling unintelligible answers to the series of greetings. Although boiling with rage inwardly Alan knew sufficient of Oriental ways to simulate calm indifference. At length after the preamble Alan approached the object of his visit. He had arrived the previous day, he ex- plained, and demanded to know why he was not received in the customary manner and given a house for himself and his followers.

"Hast thou letters from the Makhzen (Government)?" inquired the khalifa in a level bored tone.

"Nay, it is not necessary," returned Alan, "I have with me a soldier from Kaid Gilhooli, the protection of the kaid."

"There are many soldiers in the empire of the sultan—whom Allah bless!"

"In Fez and Marakesh it was not necessary to have letters."

"The ways of the North are not the ways of the South."

"I demand protection and a house."

"Allah is great! If Allah wills."

"I shall make complaint to Kaid Gilhooli."

"If Allah wills."

"When? Today?"

"If Allah wills!"

The khalifa's eyes had fastened upon a pair of field-glasses slung across the Englishman's shoulders. He bent and whispered in the scribe's ear. Said the scribe——

"El khalifa wishes to see those glasses!"

But Alan knew from the whole attitude of the reception that they were hostile to him; evidently in the pay of the stranger on the black stallion. Alan began to lose control of his temper—a fatal thing in Oriental diplomacy. He knew that the request to see the glasses meant that the khalifa coveted them as a gift; but he was too angry to play out the Moorish game.

"No," he said to the khalifa "they are not for sale," and knowing that the khalifa and Gilhooli hated each other, repeated: "If I am not treated properly I shall return and make complaint to Kaid Gilhooli."

"If Allah wills," returned the khalifa imperturbably.

"The English Government is powerful," supplemented Alan.

"Allah is all merciful!"

Alan without further ado got up and walked out, returning veiled insults with an open one.

AS ALAN rode off he passed three German naval officers mounted on Moorish horses, with an escort of sailors marching like infantrymen. They were the source of his troubles, he reflected savagely. Returning to his camp he sat on the ramparts alongside one of the ancient guns which, ironically, was trained right on the grim little shape of the Panther out in the bay.

Whilst he sat there composing a vicious article, scathing in the inference to the lost prestige of England, a German naval orderly approached and handed him a note: an invitation to lunch from the commander of the gunboat. Alan accepted and as he walked down to the beach after a wash, thought what a sardonic sense of humor the Germans had!

The lunch passed off well. Most of the officers spoke English and moreover Alan more than appreciated the table delicacies and wine. Over coffee and cigars the commander gave his version of the reason of their visit which—to Alan's private amazement—consisted in the German commercial interests in the Sus. He was given to understand, he continued, that Alan had met with some opposition or difficulty with the khalifa? The Moors were very obtuse people at times, but the commander would be most happy to offer Alan the protection of his Imperial Majesty the Emperor.

In a flash Alan saw scare-head placards——

"Englishman seeks German protection in Morocco."

With a thin Yorkshire smile he thanked Herr Commander very much for his offer, but regretted that he was unable to avail himself of it.

He was rowed back to the black rock landing-place with a wee small glow of satisfaction that he had managed to circumvent that subtle little move, only to receive checkmate when he arrived at the camp. From the fire a red-capped soldier rose up and briefly informed him that by the khalifa's orders he was to leave the city on the morrow.

"Go to the devil!" Alan exclaimed angrily, and although the Moor did not understand, he cursed him fluently and piously as he turned away.

The sun set behind Cape Ghir in a flood of crimson and purple dying the sea and tinting the gunboat in blood. Alan moodily contemplated the situation. In the chaos of his mind he remembered Miriam and smiled indulgently as he thought of her silly boasts and idea of women journalists. What indeed could a woman do? Imagine a woman journalist in his shoes now? Good heavens, it was farcical! He would use the episode to shatter Miriam's insane arguments when he got home. Then as the sun dipped and violet twilight wrapped the world a fit of depression seized him. He had been lucky before; this was his first defeat and it seemed bitter, particularly when it might have been the greatest scoop in the journalistic world for years.

"That confounded alien mongrel on the black horse!" was the mysterious special correspondent and the German combined—playing traitor as spies usually did. He was the "German commerical interests in southern Morocco"—the Sus where there was no European trade at all! That conclusion cheered him a little. It would make a scorching article.

A light silvery laugh startled him. He turned sharply to see the hooded figure of a woman, a pair of brilliant eyes twinkling at him above the blanket haik.

"Ramah!" he cried as she lowered it.

"E-eh, oh, Roumi."

"How didst thou come——"

"S-sh," with one henna-stained finger to lips. "I come to warn thee. Come!"

She glided into his tent which sheltered them from the sight of the men around the fire.

"Listen, oh, Aziz—" he hardly noticed the endearing term in his excitement—"Es-sid-el-Keleeb and the khalifa, my master—lying in the garden I did hear them talk. If thou are not gone by the morrow they plot to kill thee. But thou must not go."

"Nay, I will not," exclaimed Alan, his pugnacity aroused by the news.

"Nay but thou must," she adjured him apparently inconsistently, "but only to return, oh, my beloved."

Again the superlative term, which he did not heed. She drew closer to him.

"Wilt thou trust thyself to me?" she demanded.

"Yes, of course," he answered absently in English, thinking hard.

"What sayest thou?"

"Eh? Yea, Ramah, I agree. It is good, little one."

"Listen. Tomorrow thou wilt go, thou and thy servants and make thy camp beside Fonti on the beach."

"Mezian. It shall be done. And then?"

"Wait until I come for thee."

"Mezian," he assented and intent upon his professional interests, failed to notice her reproachful eyes as her dim form melted into the shadows.


Chapter V

Vast as creation, yet when all is said,
How short the words that make our weal or wo?
What dearer heaven now? What deeper hell?
"I love thee," or "I love thee not" farewell.
And may the mercy of the Lord descend
On Sidi Hammo. Here his song hath end.

Sidi Hammo.

THAT evening as the darkling night swallowed up the plain of the Sus, Miriam uneasily watched Fear put Avarice to flight in the hearts of her Jewish hosts. Yakub had broken faith and told of the scene on the ramparts between Miriam and the baron, with the result that old Yusuf and his pallid wife clamorously insisted that Miriam must depart from Agadir before worse befall or at least that she must leave their house. They feared and hated the baron as the Evil One, and hand in glove with the khalifa; Allah only knew what might not befall them. Miriam offered more money, but with an effort that wrung rheumy tears from the old man's eyes he refused.

Miriam, although fearful of the importunities of the baron, did not intend to leave Agadir in ignominious flight. The more pressing the circumstances became the more tremulously stubborn she grew. She had heard from Yakub, via the sok, of Alan's arrival so that she was not surprised to pass him in the streets. She had imagined that he would know her, but when she observed the lack of recognition in his eyes she laughed and passed on intensely amused.

At the first intimation from Yusuf Ben Musa that she must leave the house, she had naturally thought of taking refuge with Alan whom she imagined to be quite au fait with the authorities, as she had observed him embark for the gunboat. But on second thoughts the idea smattered too much of humiliation. Eventually she concluded that it was a choice of two evils—refuge or ignominious flight; so she reluctantly decided to descend upon the unsuspecting Alan next day.

As she sat in the courtyard with little Zara staring at the square of scintillating stars above she tried to console herself—half-defiantly—that whatever happened she had secured the crème de la crème of the scoop and wandered mentally to Fleet Street, thinking of herself as the heroine of the hour. Then a thought of the baron who had maintained an ominous silence since the episode, sent a cold shudder of apprehension down her spine. It required little imagination to realize that in such an out-of-the-way barbarous spot many dreadful things might happen to a woman.

In an access of impotent rage she cursed her sex for their inherent weakness. It was all so bitterly unfair. She looked at Zara in the gloom and wondered if it were not better to be of her type, the Oriental woman, frankly a toy for man's leisure moments, dumb, uncomplaining; not dreaming of the liberty and understanding which might and should be theirs.

It was an idea born of momentary weakness of which she felt ashamed the next moment. Yet everything seemed so cruel and heartless, a kicking against the pricks of fate. A passionate desire suddenly welled up within her to cry peccavi, to run to Alan and throwing her arms 'round his neck to sob her heart out. She had to set her teeth to conquer the surge of emotion. It passed; she smiled bitterly in the darkness.

At that moment there was a patter of small slippered feet. One of the gollywog little Jewesses rushed excitedly into the courtyard, swinging a candle lantern and crying out upon her father in Hebrew. In a moment Yakub and the rest of the family were gathered in a gesticulating group. Out of the medley of voices Miriam heard Yakub crying at her:

"Thou hast brought this upon us! We are lost!"

Miriam got up and went over to them.

"Eh-eh!" yelled Yakub wildly, waving his palms.

The little girl held the lantern up and pointed a tragic finger at her, screaming shrilly; the old man wrung his hands and the wife literally howled.

It was some minutes ere Miriam could interpret anything intelligible from the hubbub. Then little Zara, the only one who had not lost control of herself, explained that the little girl had just come from the palace with the news that the khalifa had at last discovered the abode of the pretty Jewess with whom he had fallen in love one day in the sok.

The baron has executed his threat, thought Miriam. She went very white, for she divined what this might mean.

"And he hath sworn that he will take you into his harem! Walli—Walli!" Zara broke out. "They will come for thee, and kill the rest of us! Walli! Wo is me!"

There was renewed pandemonium. The upshot was that they were hysterically determined to throw Miriam out of the house then and there to save themselves. Little Zara remonstrated, crying shrilly that Miriam might be hidden away; but this suggestion was met with howls, proclaiming that death was sure if she were not found by the khalifa's people.

Old Yusuf stood by the arch leading to the door; wringing his hands he implored her to go and called upon all the prophets of the Pentateuch; the wife wailed helplessly beside him; the child with the lantern dashed excitedly between Miriam and her father like an erratic dragonfly, clutching at her clothes; whilst Yakub, gibbering with craven fear, hovered about Miriam trying to summon sufficient courage to eject her forcibly. Miriam with faithful little Zara clinging to one arm, defied them—head up and curling lips—in a mixture of Anglo-Spanish cum Franco-Arabic.

THEN in the midst of the uproar there was a fresh commotion at the door. Old Yusuf shrieked and was sent flying on to his face; the child dropped the lantern, which spluttered and went out as a group of armed men burst into the courtyard. There was a moment of paralyzed silence. The leader, a tall hawk-faced Arab, peered 'round by the aid of a lantern carried by a negro. Then simultaneously the howls broke out afresh. As Miriam darted behind a pillar the men swooped upon her. In a trice rough hands seized her. A blanket was bundled over her head. She felt herself lifted by wiry arms. Struggling violently, mad with rage, she was borne swiftly away.

The enveloping blanket produced the suffocation of a nightmare; the powerful arms, that dreadful sense of impotence. Miriam struggled futilely until she collapsed into a limp burden from sheer exhaustion, in which she dimly heard the mutter of voices and scuffle of animals. The sensation of being lifted in the air roused her to another paroxysm. She felt the gentle undulating motion of a horse or mule walking, and the muffled klop klop of hoofs upon cobbles.

The journey seemed to last for hours. As her senses began to revive a little she became acutely conscious that the coarse hair of the blanket scratched her face and lips, forcing a pungent acrid taste into her mouth. The chaos of her mind caused by the shock began to clear. Lucid thoughts sped swiftly. She jumped to the conclusion that she was being taken to the khalifa's palace. In a second of time her imagination painted a vivid picture of what her fate would be. She shuddered and groaned with anguish. Wildly she thought of ways to escape; of some method to take her own life rather than. …

A nausea overwhelmed her. She lost sense of time and space.

Then after an eternity she became conscious that she was lying on something soft and that the cool night air was fanning her cheeks. She drew a long breath, sighed and opened her eyes. Bending over, his sharp features in the light of a lantern, was the baron.

He must have rescued her then? A feeling of relief and gratitude glowed for a moment. He at least could never be so terrible as a Moor. The baron was holding a glass of brandy which he bade her drink in a curiously low tone. Strange. Miriam wondered, with that irrelevance of thoughts in moments of distress, why his voice was so soft. Like a gentle purr it seemed. She gazed at him and tried to think what was going to happen, but the one idea of the gentleness of his voice seemed to obsess her brain.

He was talking about something, but she could not grasp the sense. Then the alcohol began to take effect. She found her mind coming under control again and began to comprehend what he was saying. Something about regrets for some action. What, for rescuing her? How absurd! She tried to thank him, but found her lips were stiff and swollen. The liquor stung them too.

"You are feeling better?" he inquired.

Miriam mumbled inarticulately.

"So? Allow me!"

Then he bent down and rearranged some of the cushions. How kind he was, the baron! The predominant terror that she was about to fall into the savage Moor's power had for the time driven the baron's character from her mind. Then the association of ideas stirred the memory cells into activity. She sat up, spurred by the idea.

"My God!" she gasped thickly. "Did you kidnap me?"

The baron had put down the lantern—there was no one else in the starlit court-yard—and was sitting beside her. His mouth twisted into that snarling smile.

"If you like," he said shrugging his shoulders, "to put it so crudely. So?" as Miriam made a movement of disgust. "You beautiful little fool," he said bending toward her, "I saved you from a vile fate. That black swine was going to take you. Herr Gott! What do you think I have risked for you, Liebchen? Everything for you. Eight years have I plotted and schemed for an Empire—ja, here in the Sus. It is within my grasp, and Gott im Himmel, I play with it—for you!"

He grasped her wrist and kissed her hand. She shrank away from him, but his grip was like a steel trap.

"So?" he snarled. "Mein lieber Gott, you lovely fool, I will tame you. Ja, I meant to take you, but not until I was ready. Then that cochon of a Moor—in two days my boat will be here to take us—us, you angel devil, to Cape Juby where we two will be the German interests in the Sus. A nice honeymoon, eh, Liebchen? But we'll spend the first two days here, so?"

There was a pause. Holding her a prisoner by the wrist he devoured her panting, quivering figure with his eyes. Voices and the clatter of horses sounded some distance away.

"Give me a kiss, Liebchen!" he demanded thickly and leaned toward her.

Miriam shrieked and made a frantic effort to tear her wrist loose. He sat back retaining his hold and chuckled as he watched her struggle and scream.

"Shriek, you sweet little devil, you!" he said with an evil smile. "Women's screams are music in Morocco—so! Come! That's enough!" and he drew her to him.

Miriam kicked madly and beat him with the one free hand like the wing of a captured bird. {[dhr|1em]} SUDDENLY came a guttural oath. The baron was lifted bodily from her, releasing his hold at the bidding of the instinct of self-preservation. Miriam fell back panting, wild-eyed, to find the room full of red-capped sodliers, creatures of the khalifa. In a flash she realized that Nemesis had overtaken the baron in the jealous wrath of the khalifa, but that she was reserved for a worse fate. Amid the guttural remarks of the Moors, she saw, in the light of several lanterns, the baron, as helpless as a trussed fowl, his face distorted with rage, in the hands of a gigantic negro slave, who grinned with hellish delight.

A wild thought of self-destruction flashed athwart her mind, but before she had time to recover even her power of speech, two soldiers unceremoniously lifted her by the shoulders and ankles and carried her out. She felt too stunned and helpless to offer futile resistance this time; numbed with awful fear. She was hoisted on to the pommel before a mounted negro. There was the dim scuffle of horses and men, harsh commands and exclamations. Then the cavalcade started forward. Miriam, exhausted and beaten, sobbing, swung limp to the motion of the horse.

As the procession climbed up the dusty narrow streets toward the governor's palace the early morning call to prayer rang out resonant and clear beneath the shimmering stars.

"Allah—Ak-ba-ah— La illaha il——"

Miriam did not swoon this time. Her emotions seemed too overworked to respond. Only the gasping sob and the dull ache of choking fear. The flickering lights of the lanterns carried by the slaves on foot, danced ghostlike on the white walls. The dark of the head of her captor was sharply silhouetted against the stars. They seemed to rock and sway giddily. She wondered vaguely why the face was beardless. A cock crowed near by. The muezzin was still chanting.

Allah Akbah—there is no God save Allah!

The stars were blotted out; sounds reechoed loudly under an arch. The stars flashed at her again. The horse stopped. She was lifted down and carried into the gloom of a room. Somebody placed her on something soft and yielding. She did not know what it was; nor care. She ached all over. She felt sick and tired, mentally and physically—oh, so tired and weary. Nothing mattered.

There was somebody moving about her. She wished they would leave her in peace. She seemed to have been ill-used, miserable and tired ever since she could remember. Feebly she wanted to die—but she knew that she could not die because her heart kept leaping within her bosom.

A light flashed in her eyes. She blinked and saw an enormously fat woman leering at her. Huge earrings bobbed under the black hair. She was saying something in Arabic. She handed the lantern to somebody and laid her fat fingers on the shoulder cords of Miriam's robe. The touch aroused her; spurred her into a frenzy, dispelling the mental paralysis, sent a thousand awful thoughts searing her brain. She uttered a soundless scream and half-leaped, half-wriggled, off the bed. She fell on to the floor, scrambled into a corner, crying half-articulately:

"No! No! No! No!"

As the odalisque, laughing hideously, advanced 'round the bed a deep guttural voice sounded behind her. She made some reply, received a curt order and fled.

In the dim light Miriam saw the figure of the khalifa. She watched him with the fascination of a rabbit about to be devoured by a snake. He walked silently across in his bare feet, took up the lantern and advanced toward his victim, stroking his beard and smiling. He said something in Arabic. The proximity of the danger cooled Miriam, made her think with lightning rapidity. She had no means except her hands to protect herself. She was absolutely in this man's power. If only Alan … Her soul cried to him for aid.

"Ana Americana!" she said desperately, watching him keenly.

He started and peered at her closely.

"Ash?"

"Ana—Americana," she repeated louder.

Her heart beat faster with wild hope. He spoke quickly, lowered the lantern and examined her. He seemed perturbed and puzzled. Miriam took heart.

"Look!" she cried in English standing up. "I—am—American," tapping her bosom. "American—I—go—Mogador—Sueira—American consul. Fahamshi? (understand)."

The word "consul" seemed to convince him.

"Subhan Allah!" he exclaimed, and stepped back a pace.

Miriam over-eager, stepped aside.

"La! La!" he said quickly gesturing a negative.

Miriam stopped and stood watching his impassive face, as he gazed at her.

He was thinking swiftly. This girl was as no other woman he had ever seen. She was not a Jewess as he had supposed, but a European. That was no odds, both were infidels, cursed dogs of unbelievers. But the Roumis were powerful—here on the coast. There was a Roumi war-ship in the harbor: if he took this girl they might retaliate by bombarding the town. They needed an excuse to do so, he well knew.

No, there were many dollars to be had from the Roumis. Yet—Yillah! The girl was beautiful! He looked at her as a connoisseur. He could retain her for two, perhaps three years, and even then she would still be worth a thousand dollars! And who would know? That son of shame, that pig of an unbeliever Es-sid-el-Keleeb? he would soon be paying for his insult to the beloved of Mahomet. His eyes wandered hungrily over her again. No, by Allah, no accursed Nazarene should stand between him and his desire. He would away to his Kasbah in the Sus. The Roumis—Allah was all powerful!

Miriam saw the change, saw the fire of passion rekindle in his eyes and nerved herself for an effort—if only to obtain a weapon to kill herself. As he smiled evilly she made a desperate spring to pass him. He caught her by the voluminous sleeve. She hit out wildly and the whole of her soul leaped into the name of her beloved:

"Alan! Al-an!"

The lantern was dropped in the struggle and lay spluttering. An awful minute in which the brute's arms were 'round her, his breath in her face.…

MEANWHILE Alan had shifted to the beach near Fonti. Long after sunset the hooded ghostly figure appeared. She had brought a jellab for him to wear above his European clothes, a sufficient night disguise. Striking up the hill she led him by a rough and broken path to the northern corner of the city wall, where by a ruined bastion they made entrance into the narrow streets.

Once the tramp and jingle of men and horses drove them to shrink in the dark shadow of a gate. A crowd of soldiers and slaves on foot and horse passed them. The leader, a hawk-faced Arab, made remark as he passed:

"May Allah burn all infidels. That dog Es-sid-el-Keleeb hath surely eaten of our master's sweets. Great will be his wrath, by Allah!"

"What doth he mean, Ramah?" whispered Alan.

"Es-sidi hath taken a hunger for a Jewess, but Es-sid-el-Keleeb hath stolen the bird," answered Ramah. "S-sh, let us hasten.

Together they followed the band of night marauders to the khalifa's palace where by a postern gate Ramah admitted Alan to a deserted part of the rambling gardens. Here in a small room she bade him rest whilst she brought food and lights. While he waited patiently in the gloom his thoughts turned to Miriam. Ever since the night before when Ramah had kissed him the image of Miriam kept recurring to his mind. Strange he thought and sought for a reason, but not being practised in emotional analysis it eluded him.

As Ramah returned with a lantern carrying a basket of food the early morning call to prayer rang out from the adjacent mosque. As Ramah approached she seemed to take the form of Miriam.

Her great eyes shone as she set the feast. She brought news that there was a great commotion in the palace as the khalifa was mad with rage at being balked of his prey; and that he had dispatched a force to capture Es-sid-el-Keleeb with orders to send him to his Kasbah, ninety miles in the interior, and on pain of death to bring back the girl to him.

Alan felt a sudden fear grip him for Miriam's safety—which was absurd, for Miriam was in London! Yet a voice seemed to whisper:

"Alan! Oh, Alan!"

"What's that?" he excalimed starting up.

But only the cry of the Muezzin answered him.

"What ails thee, oh, Aziz?" queried Ramah anxiously.

"Nothing," said Alan, and relapsed into silence, answering Raman's chatter in monosyllables.

Gradually Ramah's efforts began to thaw him.

Presently as she sat beside him there came the sound of the clatter of a cavalcade. Again he thought of Miriam. He glanced at Ramah. How like Miriam she seemed. He felt a desire to kiss her; her large soft eyes invited him.

Then the sound of a stifled scream brought him to his feet. He listened intently.

"It is but some slave being beaten," said Ramah petulantly, "or mayhap the Jewess I told thee of."

There was a long pause in which Alan felt certain of the proximity of Miriam. He stood at the door, staring into the violet black shadows of the garden.

There came distinct and close, a wild broken cry:

"Alan! Al-an!"

Alan dashed madly in the direction, fumbling for his revolver as he ran, hearing, seemingly at a great distance, the voice of Ramah crying:

"Come back to me, beloved! Leave me not, oh, Aziz!"

A tall figure in robes stood over Miriam clutching her shoulder with one hand. Alan's face peered amazedly into hers.

"My God, Miriam!" he cried.

"Alan, oh Alan!" she panted.

In the meantime the khalifa had recovered from the shock of the wrench and had summoned his guards.

Alan turned, revolver in hand, to find the room full of slaves and soldiers, mostly armed with scimitars. Thrusting Miriam behind him he covered the khalifa, crying in Arabic—

"At the first move thou art dead!"

The men hesitated and looked at their chief who stood by the bed, glaring at Alan.

"Tell these men to go," Alan continued. "This woman is American—fahamshi?"

He drew back the hammer of the revolver with an ominous click. The khalifa backed and muttered a rapid order.

"Nam, sidi," chorused the men and filed out. Miriam stood behind Alan, her breast heaving, her eyes devouring his face.

"Sit down and rest somewhere, darling," he said, without turning or lowering his pistol.

She flushed at the endearing term, unconscious upon his part, and obeyed. The khalifa never removed his eyes from the steady revolver muzzle.

"Now," said Alan standing over him like a young god, "either you give us a safe conduct to Mogador—or I go to the Germans. They will blow Agadir to pieces. Choose!"

The khalifa did not hesitate. A mad and armed infidel was not to his liking.

"It is the will of Allah! Thou and the girl shall start at once for Mogador."

"If there is any treachery thou and thy people will suffer for it. Swear!"

"On the beard of my Lord Mohammed, I swear it!" answered the khalifa. "May Allah the All Merciful, the All Forgiving, curse thee," he added piously.

"Go and give orders for our departure," said Alan, lowering the revolver. "And remember thy oath!"

The khalifa departed slowly, retaining his dignity, for which and the absence of whining excuses, Alan forgave him much.

He turned and in the dim light looked at Miriam half-sitting on the edge of the huge bed.

"My God, little woman," he said and took her in his arms.

In a moment or two there was the low throat-laugh of a woman's triumph.

"You great, dear darling," she whispered half-tearfully. "I knew that months and months ago."

But neither noticed the patter of little slippers at the door as Ramah, with a choking sob, stole softly away to the solitude of a roof-top to hide her passionate grief like a stricken fawn.

As the violet wings of the dawn flew before the pageant of the sun, she watched the lovers ride out of the city gate, the khalifa's escort about them. Then she realized dimly that her dream of love was over, the gates of paradise were shut in her face, that she was left to sink into the sordid slough of an odalisque.

Copyright, 1918 by The Ridgeway Company in the United States of America and Great Britain. all rights reserved.

 

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1926.


The author died in 1944, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 75 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.