Mayhap the passion was as fleeting as it was violent, but the Marabout knew it boded danger to the captives to whom he had pledged his honour. He sent them, mounted on mules, on in front, while he and his company remained in the rear, watching till Lanty and Victorine were driven up like cattle by Eyoub, to whom he paid an earnest of his special share of the ransom. He permitted no pause, not even for a greeting between Estelle and poor Victorine, nor to clothe the two unfortunates, more than by throwing a mantle to poor Victorine, who had nothing but a short petticoat and a scanty, ragged, filthy bournouse. She shrouded herself as well as she could when lifted on her mule, scarce perhaps yet aware what had happened to her, only that Lanty was near, muttering benedictions and thanksgivings as he vibrated between her mule and that of the Abbe.
It was only at the evening halt that, in a cave on the mountain-side, Estelle and Victorine could cling to each other in a close embrace with sobs of joy; and while Estelle eagerly produced clothes from her little store of gifts, the poor femme de chambre wept for joy to feel indeed that she was free, and shed a fresh shower of tears of joy at the sight of a brush and comb.
Lanty was purring over his foster-brother, and cosseting him like a cat over a newly-recovered kitten, resolved not to see how much shaken the poor Abbe’s intellect had been, and quite sure that the reverend father would be altogether himself when he only had his soutane again.
‘Well hath the Prophet-chief your bidding done.’ Moore (Lalla Rookh).
Bugia was thoroughly Moorish, and subject to attacks of fanaticism. Perhaps the Grand Marabout did not wholly trust the Sunakite not to stir up the populace, for he would not take the recovered captives to his palace, avoided the city as much as possible, and took them down to the harbour, where, beside the old Roman quay, he caused his trusty attendant, Reverdi, to hire a boat to take them out to the French tartane—Reverdi himself going with them to ensure the fidelity of the boatmen. Estelle would have kissed the good old man’s hand in fervent thanks, but, child as she was, he shrank from her touch as an unholy thing; and it was enforced on her and Victorine that they were by no means to remove their heavy mufflings till they were safe on board the tartane, and even out of harbour. The Frenchman in command of the vessel was evidently of the same mind, and, though enchanted to receive them, sent them at once below. He said his men had been in danger of being mobbed in the streets, and that there were reports abroad that the harem of a great Frank chief, and all his treasure, were being recovered from the Cabeleyzes, so that he doubted whether all the influence of the Grand Marabout might prevent their being pursued by corsairs.
Right glad was he to recognise the pennant of the Calypso outside the harbour, and he instantly ran up a signal flag to intimate success. A boat was immediately put off from the frigate, containing not only Lieutenant Bullock, but an officer in scarlet, who had no sooner come on deck than he shook Arthur eagerly by the hand, exclaiming,