“Know’st thou the eunuch who guards the harem empty of women in the palace of—ah! the barbarity of the name!—E’u Car-r-den Ali? He who perchance would give one-half, nay, all of his great wealth in return for the coal-blackness of thy odorous skin. There is to be held a big entertainment within the walls of the white man’s hotel, and soon. An entertainment where the whites dance foolishly in foolish raiment, disguised as that which they are not and with covered faces. What easier than for me to obtain entry as one of them under my veils and have speech with the man I love? And if he is as thou sayest, besotted with love of this white girl, then will I use the man of barbarous name as a tool to bring about that which I desire. Know’st thou the eunuch?”
“Mistress, he is my twin-brother.”
“Twin of thee! Behold, did not thy mother die of fright, at sight of such monstrosities?”
“Nay, mistress, there are six sons younger than thy slave, each one of which could break thee in one hand.”
Zulannah sprang to her feet and, seizing a short whip from a table, smote the man again and again until his face ran blood.
“Thou vile brute, darest thou so to speak! Behold, this is but a foretaste of what will befall thy black carcase before the hour is spent.”
“Call thy slaves, mistress; split my tongue; whip the soles from off my feet, the flesh from my body, even to the bones, and thou shalt never meet my twin-brother, who even now prepareth the great palace for the coming of the”—he spat—“bird of different-coloured plumage.”
And Zulannah, understanding that she must not overstep the limit if she desired to attain her end, flung the whip full into the stolid, indifferent face, and fled, raving obscenities, into the house.
“If God in His wisdom have brought close The day when I must die, That day by water or fire or air My feet shall fall in the destined snare Wherever my road may lie.”
DANTE GABRIEL ROSETTI
“May I come in? Oh, Maris, what do you think? There is to be a real native fortune-teller in the Winter Garden. They’ve made the corner near the fountain like an Arab’s tent, and he’ll tell us our horoscopes in the sand, and all sorts of things.”
“Not forgetting the stars, let us hope?”
“Oh, there’s sure to be that.”
Damaris laughed as she turned in her chair and looked at the excited little visitor in fancy-dress.
“You do look sweet. A Light of the Harem, for certain.”
“Yes; and what do you think? There are three dozen Lights. Isn’t it a shame? I thought I should be the only one. And there are two and a half dozen Sheikhs, and I don’t know how many dozen Bedouins. You are—what are you? You look awfully—awfully—er—I don’t quite know what.”