There was a general expression of assent around the table.
The commander of the Demons thanked them, and assured them that the officers and men would be glad to hear that their request was granted, and that the Council might depend upon their valor and devotion in any extremity of affairs.
“Have you an abundant supply of the death-bombs on hand?” asked the Prince.
“Yes, many tons of them,” was the reply.
“Are they well guarded?”
“Yes, with the utmost care. A thousand men of my command watch over them constantly.”
“Your air-vessels are in perfect order?”
“Yes; we drill and exercise with them every day.”
“You anticipate an outbreak?”
“Yes; we look for it any hour.”
“Have you any further questions to ask General Quincy?” inquired the Prince.
He was bowed out and the door locked behind him. The Prince returned to his seat.
“Gentlemen,” he said, “that matter is settled, and we are safe for the present. But you can see the ticklish ground we stand on. These men will not rest satisfied with the immense concessions we have made them; they will demand more and more as the consciousness of their power increases. They know we are afraid of them. In time they will assume the absolute control of the government, and our power will be at an end. If we resist them, they will have but to drop a few of their death-bombs through the roofs of our palaces, and it is all over with us.”
“What can we do?” asked two or three.
“We must have recourse to history,” he replied, “and profit by the experience of others similarly situated. In the thirteenth century the sultan of Egypt, Malek-ed-Adell the Second, organized a body of soldiery made up of slaves, bought from the Mongols, who had taken them in battle. They were called the Bahri Mamelukes. They formed the Sultan’s bodyguard. They were mounted on the finest horses in the world, and clad in the most magnificent dresses. They were of our own white race—Circassians. But Malek had unwittingly created, out of the slaves, a dangerous power. They, not many years afterward, deposed and murdered his son, and placed their general on the throne. For several generations they ruled Egypt. To circumscribe their power a new army of Mamelukes was formed, called the Borgis. But the cure was as bad as the disease. In 1382 the Borgi Mamelukes rose up, overthrew their predecessors, and made their leader, Barkok, supreme ruler. This dynasty held power until 1517, when the Ottoman Turks conquered Egypt. The Turks perceived that they must either give up Egypt or destroy the Mamelukes. They massacred them in great numbers; and, at last, Mehemet Ah beguiled four hundred and seventy of their leaders into the citadel of Cairo, and closed the gates, and ordered his mercenaries to fire upon them. But one man escaped. He leaped his horse from the ramparts and escaped unhurt, although the horse was killed by the prodigious fall.