Again the hole above is darkened, as a human figure attempts to push through, but the British soldier is ready this time. He has the gun Philander threw aside as useless, and, with all his power, he dashes this against the human wedge that fills the opening, sending the fellow whirling over to the ground, shrieking out Arabic imprecations, and calling upon Allah to give the unbelieving dogs into their hands.
More stones are served. They begin to drop through, and it looks serious for those who crouch within. Certainly they cannot hold out much longer.
Heaven is kind, Heaven is merciful. The silent prayers of the two women who kneel within the old tomb are heard.
Just when the clamor of battle is at its height, when the climax is near at hand, they hear a sound that brings joy to the little band, struggling against unequal numbers—a sound that has many times been heard upon the great war-fields of the world—the clear notes of a bugle.
Then come fierce shouts, the cheers of charging zouaves. It is a thrilling period to those who have been almost at the last gasp. Louis Napoleon, struggling at Sedan, could not have heard the zouave battle-cry with more complete satisfaction than they do now.
The Arabs are caught in the very trap they have so long eluded, and it looks like a bad job for them. As to our friends, they are no longer in the affair, and proceed to remove the stones from the door, in order that they may look upon the last scene of the tragic drama.
When this has been done, they see a spectacle that is more pleasing to their eyes than any recently enacted—a scene made up of struggling Arabs and French zouaves, where the latter are five to one—where flashing bayonets meet the cruel yataghan, and the dark deeds of many past years are avenged by the brave soldiers of France.
It is quickly over.
Bab Azoun and his desperate followers expect no mercy, and the French give none. The few Arabs who are uninjured, make a determined assault in one quarter, and literally hew their way through, leaving half of their number on the field.
Few indeed are they who escape, but the victory is shorn of its principal feature, when the fact is disclosed that the dread terror of the desert, the notorious rebel, Bab Azoun, is not among the slain.
He was seen to fall, and yet they cannot find his body, search as they may.
Not being mounted, the French soldiers are unable to give pursuit to the little band that hewed a way out. Besides, they have plenty to do attending to the wounded.
Up to the now open door of the marabout’s tomb rushes a figure that has leaped from a horse.
“Mon Dieu! tell me, are you safe, ze ladies also?” gasps this party.
It is Monsieur Constans. He has faithfully carried out his part of the contract, and is warmly greeted by those whom the coming of the zouaves has saved.