Puslapio vaizdai


The Wrestler from Aleppo

Being the Fourth Part of "The Wind Bloweth"

A ZAN," came his wife's slow, grave voice, "O Shane, when your ship is in trouble or does not go fast, do the passengers beat you?"

"Of course not," Campbell laughed. "What put that in your little head?" "When I went with my uncle, Arif Bey, on the pilgrimage to Mecca,Arif was a Moslem that year," she bit the thread of the embroidery she was doing with her little sharp teeth, tkk!,-"our ship anchored for the night in Birkat Faraun-Pharaoh's Bay. In the morning it would not move, so the Maghrabi pilgrims beat the captain terribly. And once at AlAkabah, when the captain lost sight of shore for one whole day, the Maghrabis beat him again. They said he should have known better. Don'tDon't don't they ever beat you, ya Zan?” "Not yet, Fenzile. They only beat bad skippers."

"But our rais was a good sailor. He must have been a good sailor, Zan; he was very old. He was very pious, too. He said the prayers. Do you ever say the prayers, Zan, when the sea looks as if it were about to be angry?"

"What sort of prayers, Fenzile?” "Oh, prayers. Let me see." Her dark eyes had the look he loved, as if she had turned around and were rummaging within herself, as a woman

seeks diligently and yet slowly in a chest. "Oh, like the Moslem's Hizbal-Bahr. You ought to know that prayer, ya Zan. It will make you safe at sea. I wonder you, a great rais, do not know that prayer."

"What is the prayer, Fenzile?"


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We pray Thee for safety in our goings forth and our standings still Subject unto us this sea, even as Thou didst subject the Deep to Moses, and as Thou didst subject the Fire to Abraham, and as Thou didst subject the Iron to David, and as Thou didst subject the Wind and the Devils and Djinns and Mankind to Solomon, and as Thou didst subject the Moon and al-Burah to Mohammed, on whom be Allah's Mercy and His Blessing! And subject unto us all the Seas in Earth and Heaven, in Thy visible and in Thine invisible Worlds, the Sea of this Life and the Sea of Futurity. O Thou Who reignest over everything and unto Whom all things return

You must know that prayer, and say that prayer, ya Zan. What do you do when it is very stormy?"

"Oh, take in as little sail as possible and keep shoring ahead."

"I don't understand." She let the the embroidery fall in her lap. "I see your ship from the quays and I can't understand how you guide such a big

1 Synopsis of preceding chapters in "Among Our Contributors."

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Fenzile rose and went through the courtyard, past the little fountain with the orange-trees, past the staircase to the upper gallery, came to the barred iron gates, looked a moment, moved modestly back into the shadows

"Oh, look, ya Zan!" Her grave voice became excited. "Come quickly. See. It is Ahmet Ali, with his attendants and a lot of people following him."

"And who is Ahmet Ali?" "Ahmet Ali! Don't you know, Zanim? The great wrestler, Ahmet Ali. The wrestler from Aleppo

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Through the grilled door, in the opal shade of the walls, Shane saw the wrestler stroll down the street-a big bulk of a man in white robe and turban, olive-skinned, heavy on his feet, seeming more like a prosperous young merchant than the wrestling cham

pion of a vilayet. Yet underneath the white robes Shane could sense the immense arms and shoulders, the powerful legs. Very heavily he moved, muscle-bound a good deal, Shane thought, a man for pushing and crushing and resisting, but not for fast, nervous work, sinew and brain coördinating like the crack of a whip. A Cornish wrestler would turn him inside out within a minute, a Japanese would pitch him like a bull before he had even taken his stance. But, once he had a grip, he would be irresistible. "So that 's Ahmet Ali."

"Yes, Zan." Fenzile clapped her hands with delight, like a child seeing a circus procession. "Oh, he is a great wrestler! He beat Yussuf Hussein, the Cairene, and he beat a great Russian wrestler who came on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. And he beat a French sailor. And he beat a Tatar. Oh, he is a great wrestler, Ahmet Ali."

The wrestler had come nearer. Behind him came four or five supporters, in clothes as white as his. Behind them came a ruck of Syrian youths, effeminate, vicious. Came a crowd of donkey-boys, impish, black. The wrestler walked more slowly as he approached to pass the iron doors. And Shane was startled into a sudden smile at the sight of his face-a girl's face, with a girl's eyes. And in his hand was a rose. A wrestler with a rose!

"Why, a man could kill him!"

"Oh, no! Oh, no, Zan!" Fenzile said. "He is very strong. He conquered Yussuf Hussein, the Cairene, and Yussuf Hussein could bend horseshoes with his bare hands. He is very strong, very powerful, Ahmet Ali.”

The wrestler was walking slowly past the house, throwing glances

through the grill with his full girl's eyes. A quick suspicion came into Campbell's mind. He turned to his wife.

"Does he come past here often?" "Yes, yes, Zan; every day."

"Oh, but he is, Zan. He is a very great wrestler. They say he threw and killed a bear.”

"O kooltooluk! Blazes! I could throw him myself."

She said nothing, turning away her

"Does he stop and look into the head, and reaching for her embroidcourt like that every time?"

"Yes, Zan; every time." She smiled.


"Don't you believe me, Fenzile? I tell you I could make mince-meat

"Do you know whom he 's looking of him." for?"

"Yes, Zan; for me."

"Of course, Zan; of course you could." And she smiled. But this

Campbell's hand shot out suddenly time it was n't the delighted smile of

and caught on her wrist.

"Fenzile," his voice was cold, "you are n't carrying on with, encouraging this-Ahmet Ali?"

"Zan Cam'el," her child's eyes flashed unexpectedly,-"I am no cheap Cairene woman. I am a Druse girl, the daughter of a Druse bey."

"I am sorry, Fenzile."

She looked at him steadily with her great green eyes, green of the sea, and as he looked at her sweet, roundish face, her little mouth half open in sincerity, her calm brow, her brown arch of eyebrow, she seemed to him no more than a beautiful proud child. There was no guile in her.

a child; it was the grave, patient smile of a wise woman. And Shane knew it. Past that barrier he could not break, and on her belief he could make no impress. There was no use arguing, talking. She would just smile and agree. And her ideal of strength and power would be the muscle-bound hulk of the Aleppo man, with the girl's face and the girl's eyes, and the rose in his hand. And Shane, all his life inured to sport, hard as iron, supple as a whip, with his science picked up from Swedish quartermasters and Japanese gendarmes, from mates and crimps in all parts of the world, would always be in her eyes an infant com

"You must n't be foolish, you know, pared with the monstrous Syrian! Fenzile."

"Severim seni. I love only you, Zan. But it is so funny to see him go by, I must always smile. Don't you think it funny, Zan?"

"No, I don't think it at all funny." "Oh, but it is funny, Zan, a big strong wrestler like that to be foolish over a very little woman, and for a cheap showman of the market-place to be lifting his eyes to a daughter of the Druse emirs. It is funny."

Not that it mattered a tinker's curse,

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"It is n't funny. And he is n't sordid; all its passion was calculated. England and its queen mourned the

much of a wrestler, anyway."

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