“I trust you rested well last night, under the protection of your saintly guardians,” L’Isle said to Lady Mabel, when she made her appearance down stairs, before the sun was yet up.
“Do not speak of last night,” she said, throwing up her hands in a deprecatory manner, “let it be utterly forgotten, and not reckoned among the number of the nights. It was one of penance, not repose! Never will I speak lightly of the saints again. I can only hope that that and all my other sins are expiated, if I can infer any thing from the number of my tormentors.”
“Were they so numerous?” L’Isle asked, in a tone of sympathy.
“And various!” emphasized Lady Mabel. “Whole legions of various orders, light and heavy armed. I could have forgiven the first, were it only for their magnanimous mode of making war, always sounding the trumpet, and giving fair warning before they charged; and the attack being openly made, I could revenge myself on some of them by the free use of my hands, and protect my face by covering it with my veil, at the risk of being smothered. But the next band were so minute and active, and secret in their movements, that I never knew where to expect them. But the last slow, heavy legion which came crawling insidiously on, were the most tormenting and sickening of all. To be tortured by such a crowd of little fiends was enough to produce delirium. But I will not recall the visions of the night. It was worse than dreaming of being in purgatory!”
“I am sorry to hear that you had such shocking dreams,” said Mrs. Shortridge, who, as she came down the stairs, heard Lady Mabel’s last words, “I would have been thankful to be able to dream; but the mule bells jingling under us all night were a trifling annoyance compared to the mosquitos, fleas, and bugs, which scarcely allowed me a wink of sleep.”
“Sleep!” Lady Mabel exclaimed, “they murdered sleep, and mine were waking torments.”
“It is all owing to the filthy habits of the nation,” continued Mrs. Shortridge. “The very pigs and asses are as much a part of the family as the children of the house.”
“The fraternization of the human race with brutes, which prevails here,” L’Isle remarked, “certainly, promotes neither comfort nor cleanliness. Indeed, it is curious, that as you go from north to south, cleanliness should decline in the inverse ratio with the need of it. Compared with ourselves, the French are not a cleanly people, but become so when contrasted with their neighbors, the Spaniards, who are, in turn, less filthy than the Portuguese, whose climate renders cleanliness still more necessary.”
“By that ratio, what standard of cleanliness will you find in Morocco?” asked Lady Mabel.
“Perhaps a prominent and redeeming feature in their religion,” said L’Isle, “may exalt the standard there. Mahomedan ablutions may avail much in this world, though little in the next.”