“So you were trying to escape, were you?”
“If I had been, I shouldn’t have come back.”
“Then what did you do on the cruiser?”
“I went to talk to the captain, who is a friend of mine. My life is in danger. Fewzi Bey is after me, and I wanted my friends in America to know how justice is done in Palestine.”
“Who are your friends in America?”
“Men who could break you in a minute.”
“Do you know to whom you are speaking?”
“Yes, Hassan Bey. I am sick of persecution. I wish you would hang me with your own hands as you hanged the young Christian; my friends would have your life for mine.”
I wonder now how I dared to speak to him in this manner. But the bluff carried. Hassan Bey looked at me curiously for a moment—then smiled and offered me a cigarette, assuring me that he believed me a loyal citizen, and declaring he felt deeply hurt that I had not come to him for permission to visit the cruiser. We parted with a profusion of Eastern compliments, and that evening I started back to Zicron-Jacob.
[ILLUSTRATION: THE AUTHOR’S SISTER ON HER HORSE TAYAR]
The failure of my attempt to leave the country only sharpened my desire to make another trial. The danger of the enterprise tended to reconcile me to deserting my family and comrades and seeking safety for myself. As I racked my brain for a promising plan, a letter came from my sister in Beirut with two pieces of news which were responsible for my final escape. The American College was shortly to close for the summer, and the U.S.S. Chester was to sail for Alexandria with refugees aboard. Beirut is a four days’ trip from our village, and roads are unsafe. It was out of the question to permit my sister to come home alone, and it was impossible for any of us to get leave to go after her; nor did we want to have her at home in the unsettled condition of the country. I began wondering if I could not possibly get to Beirut and get my sister aboard the Chester, which offered, perhaps, the last opportunity to go out with the refugees. It would be a difficult undertaking but it might be our only chance and I quickly made up my mind to carry it out if it were a possible thing. I had to act immediately; no time was to be lost, for no one could tell how soon the Chester might sail.
My last adventure had been entered upon with forebodings, but now I felt that I should succeed. To us Orientals intuition speaks in very audible tones and we are trained from childhood to listen to its voice. It was with a feeling of confidence in the outcome, therefore, that I bade this second good-bye to my family and dearest friends. Solemn hours they were, these hours of farewell, hours that needed few words. Then once more I slipped out into the night to make my secret way to Beirut.