‘Arrah,’ he muttered to himself, ’if ye will have me, ye shall have the trouble of me, bad luck to you. ’Tis little like ye are to the barbarous people St. Paul was thrown with; but then what right have I to expect the treatment of a holy man, the like of him? If so be, I can save that poor orphan that’s left, and bring off Master Phelim safe, and save poor Victorine from being taken for some dirty spalpeen’s wife, when he has half a dozen more to the fore—’tis little it matters what becomes of Lanty Callaghan; they might give him to their big brutes of dogs, and mighty lean meat they would find him!’
So came down the first night upon the captives.
’Hold fast thy hope and Heaven will not
Forsake thee in thine hour.
Good angels will be near thee,
And evil ones will fear thee,
And Faith will give thee power.’
The whole northern coast of Africa is inhabited by a medley of tribes, all owning a kind of subjection to the Sultan, but more in the sense of Pope than of King. The part of the coast where the tartane had been driven on the rocks was beneath Mount Araz, a spur of the Atlas, and was in the possession of the Arab tribe called Cabeleyze, which is said to mean ‘the revolted.’ The revolt had been from the Algerine power, which had never been able to pursue them into the fastnesses of the mountains, and they remained a wild independent race, following all those Ishmaelite traditions and customs that are innate in the blood of the Arab.
When Estelle awoke from her long sleep of exhaustion, she was conscious of a stifling atmosphere, and moreover of the crow of a cock in her immediate vicinity, then of a dog growling, and a lamb beginning to bleat. She raised herself a little, and beheld, lying on the ground around her, dark heaps with human feet protruding from them. These were interspersed with sheep, goats, dogs, and fowls, all seen by the yellow light of the rising sun which made its way in not only through the doorless aperture, but through the reeds and branches which formed the walls.
Close as the air was, she felt the chill of the morning and shivered. At the same moment she perceived poor Maitre Hebert covering himself as best he could with a dirty brown garment, and bending over her with much solicitude, but making signs to make as little noise as possible, while he whispered, ‘How goes it with Mademoiselle?’
‘Ah,’ said Estelle, recollecting herself, ’we are shipwrecked. We shall have to confess our faith! Where are the rest?’
‘There is M. l’Abbe,’ said Hebert, pointing to a white pair of the bare feet. ‘Poor Laurent and Victorine have been carried elsewhere.’
‘And mamma? And my brother?’
’Ah! Mademoiselle, give the good God thanks that he has spared them our trial.’
’Mamma! Ah, she was in the cabin when the water came in? But my brother! I had hold of his hand, he came out with me. I saw M. Arture swim away with him. Yes, Maitre Hebert, indeed I did.’