Mother And Son
Early on the morrow--so early that scarce had the Shehad been recited-- came Biskaine-
el-Borak to the Basha. He had just landed from a galley which had come upon a Spanish
fishing boat, aboard of which there was a young Morisco who was being conducted over
seas to Algiers. The news of which the fellow was the bearer was of such urgency that for
twenty hours without intermission the slaves had toiled at the oars of Biskaine's vessel--
the capitana of his fleet--to bring her swiftly home.
The Morisco had a cousin--a New-Christian like himself, and like himself, it would
appear, still a Muslim at heart--who was employed in the Spanish treasury at Malaga.
This man had knowledge that a galley was fitting out for sea to convey to Naples the gold
destined for the pay of the Spanish troops in garrison there. Through parsimony this
treasure-galley was to be afforded no escort, but was under orders to hug the coast of
Europe, where she should be safe from all piratical surprise. It was judged that she would
be ready to put to sea in a week, and the Morisco had set out at once to bring word of it to
his Algerine brethren that they might intercept and capture her.
Asad thanked the young Morisco for his news, bade him be housed and cared for, and
promised him a handsome share of the plunder should the treasure-galley be captured.
That done he sent for Sakr-el-Bahr, whilst Marzak, who had been present at the
interview, went with the tale of it to his mother, and beheld her fling into a passion when
he added that it was Sakr-el-Bahr had been summoned that he might be entrusted with
this fresh expedition, thus proving that all her crafty innuendoes and insistent warnings
had been so much wasted labour.
With Marzak following at her heels, she swept like a fury into the darkened room where
Asad took his ease.
"What is this I hear, 0 my lord?" she cried, in tone and manner more the European shrew
than the submissive Eastern slave. "Is Sakr-el-Bahr to go upon this expedition against the
treasure-galley of Spain?"
Reclining on his divan he looked her up and down with a languid eye. "Dost know of any
better fitted to succeed?" quoth he.
"I know of one whom it is my lord's duty to prefer to that foreign adventurer. One who is
entirely faithful and entirely to be trusted. One who does not attempt to retain for himself
a portion of the booty garnered in the name of Islam."
"Bah!" said Asad. "Wilt thou talk forever of those two slaves? And who may be this
paragon of thine?"
"Marzak," she answered fiercely, flinging out an arm to drag forward her son." Is he to
waste his youth here in softness and idleness? But yesternight that ribald mocked him
with his lack of scars. Shall he take scars in the orchard of the Kasbah here? Is he to be