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Chapter 40

  • **In which the story of the captive is continued.**
  • {verse
  • SONNET
  • "Blest souls, that, from this mortal husk set free,
  • In guerdon of brave deeds beatified,
  • Above this lowly orb of ours abide
  • Made heirs of heaven and immortality,
  • With noble rage and ardour glowing ye
  • Your strength, while strength was yours, in battle plied,
  • And with your own blood and the foeman's dyed
  • The sandy soil and the encircling sea.
  • It was the ebbing life-blood first that failed
  • The weary arms; the stout hearts never quailed.
  • Though vanquished, yet ye earned the victor's crown:
  • Though mourned, yet still triumphant was your fall
  • For there ye won, between the sword and wall,
  • In Heaven glory and on earth renown."
  • {verse
  • "That is it exactly, according to my recollection," said the captive.
  • "Well then, that on the fort," said the gentleman, "if my memory serves me, goes thus:
  • {verse
  • SONNET
  • "Up from this wasted soil, this shattered shell,
  • Whose walls and towers here in ruin lie,
  • Three thousand soldier souls took wing on high,
  • In the bright mansions of the blest to dwell.
  • The onslaught of the foeman to repel
  • By might of arm all vainly did they try,
  • And when at length 'twas left them but to die,
  • Wearied and few the last defenders fell.
  • And this same arid soil hath ever been
  • A haunt of countless mournful memories,
  • As well in our day as in days of yore.
  • But never yet to Heaven it sent, I ween,
  • From its hard bosom purer souls than these,
  • Or braver bodies on its surface bore."
  • {verse
  • The sonnets were not disliked, and the captive was rejoiced at the tiding_hey gave him of his comrade, and continuing his tale, he went on to say:
  • The Goletta and the fort being thus in their hands, the Turks gave orders t_ismantle the Goletta—for the fort was reduced to such a state that there wa_othing left to level—and to do the work more quickly and easily they mined i_n three places; but nowhere were they able to blow up the part which seeme_o be the least strong, that is to say, the old walls, while all that remaine_tanding of the new fortifications that the Fratin had made came to the groun_ith the greatest ease. Finally the fleet returned victorious and triumphan_o Constantinople, and a few months later died my master, El Uchali, otherwis_chali Fartax, which means in Turkish "the scabby renegade;" for that he was; it is the practice with the Turks to name people from some defect or virtu_hey may possess; the reason being that there are among them only fou_urnames belonging to families tracing their descent from the Ottoman house, and the others, as I have said, take their names and surnames either fro_odily blemishes or moral qualities. This "scabby one" rowed at the oar as _lave of the Grand Signor's for fourteen years, and when over thirty-fou_ears of age, in resentment at having been struck by a Turk while at the oar, turned renegade and renounced his faith in order to be able to reveng_imself; and such was his valour that, without owing his advancement to th_ase ways and means by which most favourites of the Grand Signor rise t_ower, he came to be king of Algiers, and afterwards general-on-sea, which i_he third place of trust in the realm. He was a Calabrian by birth, and _orthy man morally, and he treated his slaves with great humanity. He ha_hree thousand of them, and after his death they were divided, as he directe_y his will, between the Grand Signor (who is heir of all who die and share_ith the children of the deceased) and his renegades. I fell to the lot of _enetian renegade who, when a cabin boy on board a ship, had been taken b_chali and was so much beloved by him that he became one of his most favoure_ouths. He came to be the most cruel renegade I ever saw: his name was Hassa_ga, and he grew very rich and became king of Algiers. With him I went ther_rom Constantinople, rather glad to be so near Spain, not that I intended t_rite to anyone about my unhappy lot, but to try if fortune would be kinder t_e in Algiers than in Constantinople, where I had attempted in a thousand way_o escape without ever finding a favourable time or chance; but in Algiers _esolved to seek for other means of effecting the purpose I cherished s_early; for the hope of obtaining my liberty never deserted me; and when in m_lots and schemes and attempts the result did not answer my expectations, without giving way to despair I immediately began to look out for or conjur_p some new hope to support me, however faint or feeble it might be.
  • In this way I lived on immured in a building or prison called by the Turks _ano in which they confine the Christian captives, as well those that are th_ing's as those belonging to private individuals, and also what they cal_hose of the Almacen, which is as much as to say the slaves of th_unicipality, who serve the city in the public works and other employments; but captives of this kind recover their liberty with great difficulty, for, a_hey are public property and have no particular master, there is no one wit_hom to treat for their ransom, even though they may have the means. To thes_anos, as I have said, some private individuals of the town are in the habi_f bringing their captives, especially when they are to be ransomed; becaus_here they can keep them in safety and comfort until their ransom arrives. Th_ing's captives also, that are on ransom, do not go out to work with the res_f the crew, unless when their ransom is delayed; for then, to make them writ_or it more pressingly, they compel them to work and go for wood, which is n_ight labour.
  • I, however, was one of those on ransom, for when it was discovered that I wa_ captain, although I declared my scanty means and want of fortune, nothin_ould dissuade them from including me among the gentlemen and those waiting t_e ransomed. They put a chain on me, more as a mark of this than to keep m_afe, and so I passed my life in that bano with several other gentlemen an_ersons of quality marked out as held to ransom; but though at times, o_ather almost always, we suffered from hunger and scanty clothing, nothin_istressed us so much as hearing and seeing at every turn the unexampled an_nheard-of cruelties my master inflicted upon the Christians. Every day h_anged a man, impaled one, cut off the ears of another; and all with so littl_rovocation, or so entirely without any, that the Turks acknowledged he did i_erely for the sake of doing it, and because he was by nature murderousl_isposed towards the whole human race. The only one that fared at all wel_ith him was a Spanish soldier, something de Saavedra by name, to whom h_ever gave a blow himself, or ordered a blow to be given, or addressed a har_ord, although he had done things that will dwell in the memory of the peopl_here for many a year, and all to recover his liberty; and for the least o_he many things he did we all dreaded that he would be impaled, and he himsel_as in fear of it more than once; and only that time does not allow, I coul_ell you now something of what that soldier did, that would interest an_stonish you much more than the narration of my own tale.
  • To go on with my story; the courtyard of our prison was overlooked by th_indows of the house belonging to a wealthy Moor of high position; and these, as is usual in Moorish houses, were rather loopholes than windows, and beside_ere covered with thick and close lattice-work. It so happened, then, that a_ was one day on the terrace of our prison with three other comrades, trying, to pass away the time, how far we could leap with our chains, we being alone, for all the other Christians had gone out to work, I chanced to raise my eyes, and from one of these little closed windows I saw a reed appear with a clot_ttached to the end of it, and it kept waving to and fro, and moving as i_aking signs to us to come and take it. We watched it, and one of those wh_ere with me went and stood under the reed to see whether they would let i_rop, or what they would do, but as he did so the reed was raised and move_rom side to side, as if they meant to say "no" by a shake of the head. Th_hristian came back, and it was again lowered, making the same movements a_efore. Another of my comrades went, and with him the same happened as wit_he first, and then the third went forward, but with the same result as th_irst and second. Seeing this I did not like not to try my luck, and as soo_s I came under the reed it was dropped and fell inside the bano at my feet. _astened to untie the cloth, in which I perceived a knot, and in this were te_ianis, which are coins of base gold, current among the Moors, and each wort_en reals of our money.
  • It is needless to say I rejoiced over this godsend, and my joy was not les_han my wonder as I strove to imagine how this good fortune could have come t_s, but to me specially; for the evident unwillingness to drop the reed fo_ny but me showed that it was for me the favour was intended. I took m_elcome money, broke the reed, and returned to the terrace, and looking up a_he window, I saw a very white hand put out that opened and shut very quickly.
  • From this we gathered or fancied that it must be some woman living in tha_ouse that had done us this kindness, and to show that we were grateful fo_t, we made salaams after the fashion of the Moors, bowing the head, bendin_he body, and crossing the arms on the breast. Shortly afterwards at the sam_indow a small cross made of reeds was put out and immediately withdrawn. Thi_ign led us to believe that some Christian woman was a captive in the house, and that it was she who had been so good to us; but the whiteness of the han_nd the bracelets we had perceived made us dismiss that idea, though w_hought it might be one of the Christian renegades whom their masters ver_ften take as lawful wives, and gladly, for they prefer them to the women o_heir own nation. In all our conjectures we were wide of the truth; so fro_hat time forward our sole occupation was watching and gazing at the windo_here the cross had appeared to us, as if it were our pole-star; but at leas_ifteen days passed without our seeing either it or the hand, or any othe_ign and though meanwhile we endeavoured with the utmost pains to ascertai_ho it was that lived in the house, and whether there were any Christia_enegade in it, nobody could ever tell us anything more than that he who live_here was a rich Moor of high position, Hadji Morato by name, formerly alcaid_f La Pata, an office of high dignity among them. But when we least thought i_as going to rain any more cianis from that quarter, we saw the reed suddenl_ppear with another cloth tied in a larger knot attached to it, and this at _ime when, as on the former occasion, the bano was deserted and unoccupied.
  • We made trial as before, each of the same three going forward before I did; but the reed was delivered to none but me, and on my approach it was let drop.
  • I untied the knot and I found forty Spanish gold crowns with a paper writte_n Arabic, and at the end of the writing there was a large cross drawn. _issed the cross, took the crowns and returned to the terrace, and we all mad_ur salaams; again the hand appeared, I made signs that I would read th_aper, and then the window was closed. We were all puzzled, though filled wit_oy at what had taken place; and as none of us understood Arabic, great wa_ur curiosity to know what the paper contained, and still greater th_ifficulty of finding some one to read it. At last I resolved to confide in _enegade, a native of Murcia, who professed a very great friendship for me, and had given pledges that bound him to keep any secret I might entrust t_im; for it is the custom with some renegades, when they intend to return t_hristian territory, to carry about them certificates from captives of mar_estifying, in whatever form they can, that such and such a renegade is _orthy man who has always shown kindness to Christians, and is anxious t_scape on the first opportunity that may present itself. Some obtain thes_estimonials with good intentions, others put them to a cunning use; for whe_hey go to pillage on Christian territory, if they chance to be cast away, o_aken prisoners, they produce their certificates and say that from thes_apers may be seen the object they came for, which was to remain on Christia_round, and that it was to this end they joined the Turks in their foray. I_his way they escape the consequences of the first outburst and make thei_eace with the Church before it does them any harm, and then when they hav_he chance they return to Barbary to become what they were before. Others, however, there are who procure these papers and make use of them honestly, an_emain on Christian soil. This friend of mine, then, was one of thes_enegades that I have described; he had certificates from all our comrades, i_hich we testified in his favour as strongly as we could; and if the Moors ha_ound the papers they would have burned him alive.
  • I knew that he understood Arabic very well, and could not only speak but als_rite it; but before I disclosed the whole matter to him, I asked him to rea_or me this paper which I had found by accident in a hole in my cell. H_pened it and remained some time examining it and muttering to himself as h_ranslated it. I asked him if he understood it, and he told me he di_erfectly well, and that if I wished him to tell me its meaning word for word, I must give him pen and ink that he might do it more satisfactorily. We a_nce gave him what he required, and he set about translating it bit by bit, and when he had done he said:
  • "All that is here in Spanish is what the Moorish paper contains, and you mus_ear in mind that when it says 'Lela Marien' it means 'Our Lady the Virgi_ary.'"
  • We read the paper and it ran thus:
  • "When I was a child my father had a slave who taught me to pray the Christia_rayer in my own language, and told me many things about Lela Marien. Th_hristian died, and I know that she did not go to the fire, but to Allah, because since then I have seen her twice, and she told me to go to the land o_he Christians to see Lela Marien, who had great love for me. I know not ho_o go. I have seen many Christians, but except thyself none has seemed to m_o be a gentleman. I am young and beautiful, and have plenty of money to tak_ith me. See if thou canst contrive how we may go, and if thou wilt thou shal_e my husband there, and if thou wilt not it will not distress me, for Lel_arien will find me some one to marry me. I myself have written this: have _are to whom thou givest it to read: trust no Moor, for they are al_erfidious. I am greatly troubled on this account, for I would not have the_onfide in anyone, because if my father knew it he would at once fling me dow_ well and cover me with stones. I will put a thread to the reed; tie th_nswer to it, and if thou hast no one to write for thee in Arabic, tell it t_e by signs, for Lela Marien will make me understand thee. She and Allah an_his cross, which I often kiss as the captive bade me, protect thee."
  • Judge, sirs, whether we had reason for surprise and joy at the words of thi_aper; and both one and the other were so great, that the renegade perceive_hat the paper had not been found by chance, but had been in reality addresse_o some one of us, and he begged us, if what he suspected were the truth, t_rust him and tell him all, for he would risk his life for our freedom; and s_aying he took out from his breast a metal crucifix, and with many tears swor_y the God the image represented, in whom, sinful and wicked as he was, h_ruly and faithfully believed, to be loyal to us and keep secret whatever w_hose to reveal to him; for he thought and almost foresaw that by means of he_ho had written that paper, he and all of us would obtain our liberty, and h_imself obtain the object he so much desired, his restoration to the bosom o_he Holy Mother Church, from which by his own sin and ignorance he was no_evered like a corrupt limb. The renegade said this with so many tears an_uch signs of repentance, that with one consent we all agreed to tell him th_hole truth of the matter, and so we gave him a full account of all, withou_iding anything from him. We pointed out to him the window at which the ree_ppeared, and he by that means took note of the house, and resolved t_scertain with particular care who lived in it. We agreed also that it woul_e advisable to answer the Moorish lady's letter, and the renegade without _oment's delay took down the words I dictated to him, which were exactly wha_ shall tell you, for nothing of importance that took place in this affair ha_scaped my memory, or ever will while life lasts. This, then, was the answe_eturned to the Moorish lady:
  • "The true Allah protect thee, Lady, and that blessed Marien who is the tru_other of God, and who has put it into thy heart to go to the land of th_hristians, because she loves thee. Entreat her that she be pleased to sho_hee how thou canst execute the command she gives thee, for she will, such i_er goodness. On my own part, and on that of all these Christians who are wit_e, I promise to do all that we can for thee, even to death. Fail not to writ_o me and inform me what thou dost mean to do, and I will always answer thee; for the great Allah has given us a Christian captive who can speak and writ_hy language well, as thou mayest see by this paper; without fear, therefore, thou canst inform us of all thou wouldst. As to what thou sayest, that if tho_ost reach the land of the Christians thou wilt be my wife, I give thee m_romise upon it as a good Christian; and know that the Christians keep thei_romises better than the Moors. Allah and Marien his mother watch over thee, my Lady."
  • The paper being written and folded I waited two days until the bano was empt_s before, and immediately repaired to the usual walk on the terrace to see i_here were any sign of the reed, which was not long in making its appearance.
  • As soon as I saw it, although I could not distinguish who put it out, I showe_he paper as a sign to attach the thread, but it was already fixed to th_eed, and to it I tied the paper; and shortly afterwards our star once mor_ade its appearance with the white flag of peace, the little bundle. It wa_ropped, and I picked it up, and found in the cloth, in gold and silver coin_f all sorts, more than fifty crowns, which fifty times more strengthened ou_oy and doubled our hope of gaining our liberty. That very night our renegad_eturned and said he had learned that the Moor we had been told of lived i_hat house, that his name was Hadji Morato, that he was enormously rich, tha_e had one only daughter the heiress of all his wealth, and that it was th_eneral opinion throughout the city that she was the most beautiful woman i_arbary, and that several of the viceroys who came there had sought her for _ife, but that she had been always unwilling to marry; and he had learned, moreover, that she had a Christian slave who was now dead; all which agree_ith the contents of the paper. We immediately took counsel with the renegad_s to what means would have to be adopted in order to carry off the Mooris_ady and bring us all to Christian territory; and in the end it was agree_hat for the present we should wait for a second communication from Zoraida (for that was the name of her who now desires to be called Maria), because w_aw clearly that she and no one else could find a way out of all thes_ifficulties. When we had decided upon this the renegade told us not to b_neasy, for he would lose his life or restore us to liberty. For four days th_ano was filled with people, for which reason the reed delayed its appearanc_or four days, but at the end of that time, when the bano was, as it generall_as, empty, it appeared with the cloth so bulky that it promised a happ_irth. Reed and cloth came down to me, and I found another paper and a hundre_rowns in gold, without any other coin. The renegade was present, and in ou_ell we gave him the paper to read, which was to this effect:
  • "I cannot think of a plan, senor, for our going to Spain, nor has Lela Marie_hown me one, though I have asked her. All that can be done is for me to giv_ou plenty of money in gold from this window. With it ransom yourself and you_riends, and let one of you go to the land of the Christians, and there buy _essel and come back for the others; and he will find me in my father'_arden, which is at the Babazon gate near the seashore, where I shall be al_his summer with my father and my servants. You can carry me away from ther_y night without any danger, and bring me to the vessel. And remember thou ar_o be my husband, else I will pray to Marien to punish thee. If thou canst no_rust anyone to go for the vessel, ransom thyself and do thou go, for I kno_hou wilt return more surely than any other, as thou art a gentleman and _hristian. Endeavour to make thyself acquainted with the garden; and when _ee thee walking yonder I shall know that the bano is empty and I will giv_hee abundance of money. Allah protect thee, senor."
  • These were the words and contents of the second paper, and on hearing them, each declared himself willing to be the ransomed one, and promised to go an_eturn with scrupulous good faith; and I too made the same offer; but to al_his the renegade objected, saying that he would not on any account consent t_ne being set free before all went together, as experience had taught him ho_ll those who have been set free keep promises which they made in captivity; for captives of distinction frequently had recourse to this plan, paying th_ansom of one who was to go to Valencia or Majorca with money to enable him t_rm a bark and return for the others who had ransomed him, but who never cam_ack; for recovered liberty and the dread of losing it again efface from th_emory all the obligations in the world. And to prove the truth of what h_aid, he told us briefly what had happened to a certain Christian gentlema_lmost at that very time, the strangest case that had ever occurred eve_here, where astonishing and marvellous things are happening every instant. I_hort, he ended by saying that what could and ought to be done was to give th_oney intended for the ransom of one of us Christians to him, so that he migh_ith it buy a vessel there in Algiers under the pretence of becoming _erchant and trader at Tetuan and along the coast; and when master of th_essel, it would be easy for him to hit on some way of getting us all out o_he bano and putting us on board; especially if the Moorish lady gave, as sh_aid, money enough to ransom all, because once free it would be the easies_hing in the world for us to embark even in open day; but the greates_ifficulty was that the Moors do not allow any renegade to buy or own an_raft, unless it be a large vessel for going on roving expeditions, becaus_hey are afraid that anyone who buys a small vessel, especially if he be _paniard, only wants it for the purpose of escaping to Christian territory.
  • This however he could get over by arranging with a Tagarin Moor to go share_ith him in the purchase of the vessel, and in the profit on the cargo; an_nder cover of this he could become master of the vessel, in which case h_ooked upon all the rest as accomplished. But though to me and my comrades i_ad seemed a better plan to send to Majorca for the vessel, as the Mooris_ady suggested, we did not dare to oppose him, fearing that if we did not d_s he said he would denounce us, and place us in danger of losing all ou_ives if he were to disclose our dealings with Zoraida, for whose life w_ould have all given our own. We therefore resolved to put ourselves in th_ands of God and in the renegade's; and at the same time an answer was give_o Zoraida, telling her that we would do all she recommended, for she ha_iven as good advice as if Lela Marien had delivered it, and that it depende_n her alone whether we were to defer the business or put it in execution a_nce. I renewed my promise to be her husband; and thus the next day that th_ano chanced to be empty she at different times gave us by means of the ree_nd cloth two thousand gold crowns and a paper in which she said that the nex_uma, that is to say Friday, she was going to her father's garden, but tha_efore she went she would give us more money; and if it were not enough w_ere to let her know, as she would give us as much as we asked, for her fathe_ad so much he would not miss it, and besides she kept all the keys.
  • We at once gave the renegade five hundred crowns to buy the vessel, and wit_ight hundred I ransomed myself, giving the money to a Valencian merchant wh_appened to be in Algiers at the time, and who had me released on his word, pledging it that on the arrival of the first ship from Valencia he would pa_y ransom; for if he had given the money at once it would have made the kin_uspect that my ransom money had been for a long time in Algiers, and that th_erchant had for his own advantage kept it secret. In fact my master was s_ifficult to deal with that I dared not on any account pay down the money a_nce. The Thursday before the Friday on which the fair Zoraida was to go t_he garden she gave us a thousand crowns more, and warned us of her departure, begging me, if I were ransomed, to find out her father's garden at once, an_y all means to seek an opportunity of going there to see her. I answered in _ew words that I would do so, and that she must remember to commend us to Lel_arien with all the prayers the captive had taught her. This having been done, steps were taken to ransom our three comrades, so as to enable them to qui_he bano, and lest, seeing me ransomed and themselves not, though the mone_as forthcoming, they should make a disturbance about it and the devil shoul_rompt them to do something that might injure Zoraida; for though thei_osition might be sufficient to relieve me from this apprehension, nevertheless I was unwilling to run any risk in the matter; and so I had the_ansomed in the same way as I was, handing over all the money to the merchan_o that he might with safety and confidence give security; without, however, confiding our arrangement and secret to him, which might have been dangerous.