The men salute, and Mustapha replies, while the disguised young American merely bows his head, which he has hidden after the manner of one who mourns.
Thus they advance.
Presently they turn sharply to the left, and enter a dark passage.
“We will wait here a few minutes.”
“But why?” asks the impatient doctor.
“You saw the group above descending, monsieur?”
“I recognized them as rival couriers. If they saw me they would glance sharply at my companion. Perhaps for much duros they have some time taken a Frank through Al Jezira at night. That would not count. If they believed I did the same thing they would spread the news abroad, and I am afraid we would have trouble. Better a little delay than that,” and he draws a finger across John’s throat to signify the terrible stroke of a vengeful yataghan.
“I think you are right,” replies John.
They hear the group go by, laughing and joking, and the passage is again clear.
“Again, forward, monsieur,” whispers the faithful courier, and leaving their hiding-place they push on.
They are in the heart of the old town, and a most singular sensation comes over John as he looks all around to see the white walls, the solemn figures moving about, and hears sounds that never before greeted his ears.
It is as if he were in another world.
While he thus ponders and speculates, his companion comes to a sudden halt. They are at the door of a house a little more conspicuous than its fellows, and Mustapha hastily gives the rapper a resonant clang.
A NIGHT IN ALGIERS.
His manner gives the man from Chicago to understand that he has cause for sudden anxiety.
“What is it, Mustapha?” he whispers.
“Monsieur did not notice. Two Arabs, one a muezzin, or priest, just passed us. They brushed against you. Perhaps they disturbed the burnoose; at any rate, their heads go together; they appear excited; they stop below; see, you can yourself notice; two more join them; they point this way. Ah! there is trouble, monsieur. Nay, do not draw a weapon; it comes not now, but later. I hear footsteps within, the bolt is withdrawn, the door opens.”
What Mustapha says is true; the heavy door, still secured by a stout chain, opens half a foot, and by the dim light a Moorish lad is seen.
To him the guide addresses himself. Whatever he says in the Moorish tongue, it must be direct to the point, for immediately the door is opened wide enough to admit them, after which it is shut and the heavy bolt shoots into its socket.
John follows his conductor. For the time being he loses sight of Mustapha, and must depend upon his own abilities. Trust a young man from Chicago to be equal to any occasion, no matter how extraordinary.