Puslapio vaizdai

“So that was the mistake?” I said, tongue, preferring Turkish. For she reviving. “But how did you know?

was of Turkish origin, like all the high We have n't come to that yet, have Egyptian society of those days, which we? Did she keep her appointment?” had come out when the country was

“At four o'clock next day she rang linked with Constantinople, and her me up. It was really four-thirty, but father was a pacha and her husband you can't expect those children to be was a bey. One talked in Arabic with punctual. I was wondering whether one's servants, she explained. she would keep her promise when the “'But I am your servant.' 'Abd-el bell tinkled. I went to the instru- Gamila' I translated it. ment,—they used to hang upon the “Thank you,' she answered; but wall in those days,-and it was she all you cannot see if I am beautiful.' right. That afternoon I found out “She was not in love with her husmore or less who she was. She did not band, she told me, on her third visit. tell me her name, but she told me that He was always in Cairo, running after she was a Moslem lady in a harem; artistes. These were the European that life was very wearisome; that she ladies who came in the winter and had been to Constantinople and that danced and sang at the variety shows she longed to go to Europe; that she in the modern quarter of the town. had had a French governess and had She had been given to him when she studied English; and that she lived in was seventeen; until her bridal night a house near the ministries, beyond she had never seen him. He had Bab Ul Luk. She said that she was courted her and won her, as is cusguarded by her mother-in-law and by tomary among the educated, and they eunuchs and that she would like to had been happy together for a year. talk to me whenever she could.

$4 “Have you a wife?' she asked. “Not yet,' said I.

"It was a curious and remote world “'Then you have a mistress?' into which I had stumbled. Almost

Are you not ashamed?' It made every day we chatted together, someher laugh; and next she asked me times earlier and sometimes later; where I lived, what Mrs. Todd was and though I had never entered, nor like, how much Marini paid me, and was ever likely to enter, the harem in any question that occurred to her. which she dwelt, I began to know its

“She was full of questions, and she routine, the detail of her daily life, had a most charming, flute-like voice. and even the aspect of that mysterious Her French was very good, but her house wherein she was hidden. English was funny and delightful.

'You are

an Englishman,' she She had studied it with a French lady once asked, “and so you are tall and and with books. 'Ow you say “orse?' fair, with blue eyes and no beard?' she asked; and it was always ‘Ow you "I told her that I was dark and that say? when it came to a word that neither of my eyes was blue. puzzled her. My Arabic was not very "She was disappointed at this, for much better, and she laughed at me every race admires its opposite. when I tried it, and she said that she “And you are very fat,' I said, 'in regarded it as a common and vulgar your black habara?'



"She denied it indignantly, and said sweetmeats—she was very clever at that she was petite and that she wore making sweetmeats—she would send her black habara only out of doors. me some by a reliable messenger, if she Indoors she dressed like a European; could find one. But they never came. and she told me all about her clothes. “It may seem absurd, but I began to She liked bright colors, she said, and look forward to these ridiculous condresses that were décolletté. The dress- versations. Madame Shervinton, a makers came to her house, and so did dear lady who used to keep me in many of the other tradesmen, but order, had departed; I had few friends; sometimes she drove into the Euro- most of my life was prosaic and pean quarter and chose things for her- abominably dull: but here was the self. She paid visits to other ladies, spot of light, and being young, I picshe read French novels and made em- tured her as beautiful and fragile, and broideries. She often told me what I loved the sound of her voice and the she ate at her meals, and how she had curious turns it took as we met in been to the opera and sat in one of secret and talked with growing intithose boxes that are screened off so that macy along that wire. none may see. Her name, I at last "She had a great eagerness to hear discovered, was Ziba, and her husband about our life in the world outside, yet was Omar Bey Taher. Perhaps I much of it was beyond her and imposknew him? He was always driving sible for her to follow. Pleasure and about with his French artiste, a blonde every form of indulgence she could and stout. One day when she made understand; but that people had to


"•It was on the next day that Omar Bey Taher and his artiste came in and

ordered a carriage by the month''



work to get their living, that the life growing rather plump. He settled his of the ordinary man or woman was business easily, and the French lady made up of struggle and endurance, led him out again. She was to ring she never seemed to grasp. No one in for her coupé whenever she wanted it, her world had ever done any work that and Taher Bey would settle the bill. mattered even in politics or in the That was understood. philanthropy which often occupies our "I bowed them out, and though I own aristocracy. She was like a flower maintained a professional secrecy, growing in a garden, a bird singing in Ziba, in her harem, took three days to a tree, but safe and secluded in her discover this new transaction; for gilded cage, guarded by old women though all these ladies are locked up and eunuchs and hidden behind high and presumably remote from the walls.

world, they seem to know more about “I said one day that I would call its intimate happenings than such as and pay her a visit, and at that she run free. She was not the least bit took fright and begged me most be jealous. Taher was nothing much to seechingly to stay away. No one must her now, and he could do as he ever know that we had spoken to- pleased. gether, she insisted. I soothed her “My next meeting with this erring and calmed her and said I was only husband occurred a few weeks later. joking, but on the day of her twenti- He came in by himself this time. He eth birthday-she told me of it-I had said that he was very pleased with the great difficulty in restraining myself coupé we had provided for madame from sending her flowers. But to do very pleased. And the costume of our that I would have to make a confidant, driver was distinguished, and the and all these people talk or take bribes horses were very good and of a beauti

a or spy upon one another. No, it ful appearance. But, really, he had could n't be done, and we had to rest not come in to pay me compliments. content with congratulations.

He arrived at his point at last, and it "It was on the next day that Omar was that one of his own private horses Bey Taher and his artiste came in and had gone lame, and another was sufordered a carriage by the month. It fering from sand colic, and the ladies was to be regularly at the disposal of of his household would require a carthe French lady, a showy person, very riage till both animals were recovered. colored and powdered, very much be- He asked us our terms, therefore, if

, jeweled, very emphatic, and decidedly we would hold a second carriage at his out to exploit her Moslem lover. Taher disposal; and this time, though he had was a noble-looking creature, with vel- been very grand and indifferent in the vet eyes, dark, beautifully dressed, an presence of the French artiste, he aristocrat in his own way, and spoilt, haggled and bargained like a man in thoroughly spoilt, as are all these the bazaars. harem-bred Turks of the upper classes. “In any case, I was determined to You felt that if he were denied a thing, oblige him, and he little suspected he would weep till he got it, like a that I had even been warned of his badly brought up child, though he coming; for Ziba, excited and gay, had must have been close on forty and was already been at the telephone and had told me how the bey, after a visit to the bey's visit and

the bey's visit and how he had his stables, had himself announced bargained. that there was a place in the town- “'Pig!' she cried. “But now I will Marini's—where a very good carriage see you; I want to see you,' she said. could be hired till the need was over. 'We will arrange that; we cannot forHe had suggested this himself, and ever go on at the telephone.' Ziba had looked all innocence. It had "It was she who had proposed it, been difficult, she said, not to cry out though it 's not for me to play at and laugh about it.

Adam and say that I was tempted; “Quite ignorant of the comedy he for I was just as eager, in spite of my and I were now enacting, the bey in- laughter and my reservations. I was sisted that, as he was hiring a second young, and this secret romance, these carriage, the price should be a low one. trysts and hidden conversations, had I kept up appearances sufficiently to eaten their way into my life. Amid fight him for a quarter of an hour as the vapor and emptiness of this Eastwe sat and smoked over it, and then I ern capital, indeed, this meant someyielded, and he was very pleased with thing to me; and to-day I discovered his bargain. The ladies, he added, it, as she spoke so wildly. It was the would telephone,-he seemed very one thing vital in all that life. proud of his telephone, or they would send a servant every morning

§ 5 with their demands. These would “The first time she went driving in not be excessive. They must take the one of our coupés it was with her air, they would pay visits, and do their mother-in-law, and they were first goshopping.

ing shopping and then they would pay “And you will not ruin the horses a visit at another harem out at Abby filling the carriage with a dozen bassia. She was well satisfied with people?' I could n't resist fooling him the carriage I sent her, and its pair of a little further.

well-matched grays, and the flowers I “Only Egyptians do that,' he an- had placed in a bracket. It was 'très

‘ swered contemptuously. “We chic,' she said; but perhaps one day Turks, et très distinguémême très she would go alone, for she wanted to distingué,' he added.

see me, to see me with her own eyes. "I bowed him out, and wondered She was not particularly backward. when Ziba would ask for news. She They never are, these Eastern women; turned up later in the day, after her for love is the business of their lives. siesta. She lived like a cat, I had dis- "A second time she went driving, covered, rising late, sleeping when she again with that accursed mother-infelt like it, dressing when she felt like law, this time 'to smell the air,' as they it, often waiting till noon for her bath; call it. They had gone for a couple of something of a slattern indoors, it hours on the road that leads to the seemed to me, and spending hours and Pyramids and come back through the hours over her toilet. This afternoon dusk of the evening. They had seen she had slept till five, eaten curdled green birds in the fields and had milk,-yahourt, they call it,—and was watched the sunset and the waters now at the telephone. I told her about that still stood where the Nile had


been in flood. It had all been very vide themselves punctiliously between beautiful, but she had wanted to see their wives; he had one up near the me, and again she thanked me for the citadel and another at Bulak, and every flowers that were in the carriage. The evening he went home in turn to her old woman had taken these and placed whose day it was. He wondered what them in a jar of water. Now Ziba had I was doing in a native livery. come in, and she had changed her out- “'I will take the next carriage out,' door things and put on a new dress of I said. palest-yellow silk. She wished I could "'But that one is going to Taher see her in it. It was cut low, and she Bey,' he answered, 'to a harem.' wore no corsets; it was only old women "'I wish to try the two chestnuts; or fat women who needed corsets, or you will put them in.' the mothers of many children. But “'But there will be Moslem ladies she was young,-soon I would see how in the carriage.' young she was, her mother-in-law “"That does not matter.' was going on a visit to Alexandria, “There is a Frankish lady who is and then it might be contrived. going out a little later,' he persisted.

“I will be in the carriage alone,' “It is the horses I wish to drive, not she said two days after this; “perhaps the ladies,' I cut him short.

' we can at least see each other, though "He went off muttering, but did as we shall not be able to speak.'

he was told. "I was again at the telephone, and "I drove the coupé round to the old she at the other end. They had had a gray palace behind Bab Ul Luk. I had carriage in the morning to take the old placed a box of Groppi's best chocolates lady to the station, and had asked on the little seat and flowers as usual. that it should be sent back at five I had seen the house before by suno'clock that afternoon. Now it was light and by moonlight, with its porthree, and in the cool and pleasant ters and eunuchs at the gates, its month of February.

selamlik on one side, the lodge where “'I will drive you myself,' I said on Taher Bey received the gentlemen of the spur of the moment.

his acquaintance, and the harem, “But you,' she answered—you where no one entered but women or who are a gentleman!'

the men of the family, filling up the “'I would do more than that to set background. There were high, gray eyes on you.'

walls inclosing a garden, but no one “'I thank you,' she said. "There will could enter here except at risk to Ziba be Hamouda, the eunuch; he will spy and himself; for the law of these people on us.'

was their own law, in spite of the “'I will be discreet.'

courts and the British officials who “About four o'clock that afternoon, ruled outside.

, appropriately dressed, I went down to "I drove up and waited, and one of the yard. Abdul, our head man, the two eunuchs went in and anlooked at me inquisitively. He was nounced me, and presently the door one of those pious Moslems that pray of the harem opened, and Ziba herself and prostrate themselves wherever came down the steps and into the little they may happen to be, and who di- front garden that was railed off from

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