He stretched his long, slender, symmetrical limbs out on the skins that made his bed, and closed his eyes, with the pipe still in his mouth, and its amber bowl resting on the carpet which the friendship and honor of Sidi-Ilderim had strewn over the bare turf on which the house of hair was raised. He was accustomed to sleep as soldiers sleep, in all the din of a camp, or with the roar of savage brutes echoing from the hills around, with his saddle beneath his head, under a slab of rock, or with the knowledge that at every instant the alarm might be given, the drums roll out over the night, and the enemy be down like lightning on the bivouac. But now a name—long unspoken to him—had recalled years he had buried far and forever from the first day that he had worn the kepi d’ordonnance of the Army of Algeria, and been enrolled among its wild and brilliant soldiers.
Now, long after his comrade had slept soundly, and the light in the single bronze Turkish candle-branch had flickered and died away, the Chasseur d’Afrique lay wakeful; looking outward through the folds of the tent at the dark and silent camp of the Arabs, and letting his memory drift backward to a time that had grown to be to him as a dream—a time when another world than the world of Africa had known him as Bertie Cecil.
Cigarette en BIENFAITRICE.
“Oh! We are a queer lot; a very queer lot. Sweepings of Europe,” said Claude de Chanrellon, dashing some vermouth off his golden mustaches, where he lay full-length on three chairs outside the Cafe in the Place du Gouvernement, where the lamps were just lit, and shining through the burnished moonlight of an Algerian evening, and the many-colored, many-raced, picturesque, and polyglot population of the town were all fluttering out with the sunset, like so many gay-colored moths.
“Hein! Diamonds are found in the rag-picker’s sweepings,” growled a General of Division, who was the most terrible martinet in the whole of the French service, but who loved “my children of hell,” as he was wont to term his men, with a great love, and who would never hear another disparage them, however he might order them blows of the stick, or exile them to Beylick himself.
“You are poetic, mon General,” said Claude de Chanrellon; “but you are true. We are a furnace in which Blackguardism is burned into Dare-devilry, and turned out as Heroism. A fine manufacture that, and one at which France has no equal.”
“But our manufactures keep the original hall mark, and show that the devil made them if the drill have molded them!” urged a Colonel of Tirailleurs Indigenes.
Chanrellon laughed, knocking the ash off a huge cigar.
“Pardieu! We do our original maker credit then; nothing good in this world without a dash of diablerie. Scruples are the wet blankets, proprieties are the blank walls, principles are the quickset hedge of life, but devilry is its champagne!”