In The Sight Of Allah
Sakr-el-Bahr stood lost in thought after she had gone. Again he weighed her every word
and considered precisely how he should meet Asad, and how refuse him, if the Basha's
were indeed such an errand as Fenzileh had heralded.
Thus in silence he remained waiting for Ali or another to summon him to the presence of
the Basha. Instead, however, when Ali entered it was actually to announce Asad-ed-Din,
who followed immediately upon his heels, having insisted in his impatience upon being
conducted straight to the presence of Sakr-el-Bahr.
"The peace of the Prophet upon thee, my son, was the Basha's greeting.
"And upon thee, my lord." Sakr-el-Bahr salaamed. "My house is honoured." With a
gesture he dismissed Ali.
"I come to thee a suppliant," said Asad, advancing.
"A suppliant, thou? No need, my lord. I have no will that is not the echo of thine own."
The Basha's questing eyes went beyond him and glowed as they rested upon Rosamund.
"I come in haste," he said, "like any callow lover, guided by my every instinct to the
presence of her I seek--this Frankish pearl, this pen-faced captive of thy latest raid. I was
away from the Kasbah when that pig Tsamanni returned thither from the sôk; but when at
last I learnt that he had failed to purchase her as I commanded, I could have wept for very
grief. I feared at first that some merchant from the Sus might have bought her and
departed; but when I heard--blessed be Allah!-- that thou wert the buyer, I was comforted
again. For thou'lt yield her up to me, my son."
He spoke with such confidence that Oliver had a difficulty in choosing the words that
were to disillusion him. Therefore he stood in hesitancy a moment.
"I will make good thy, loss," Asad ran on. "Thou shalt have the sixteen hundred philips
paid and another five hundred to console thee. Say that will content thee; for I boil with
Sakr-el-Bahr smiled grimly. "It is an impatience well known to me, my lord, where she is
concerned," he answered slowly. "I boiled with it myself for five interminable years. To
make an end of it I went a distant perilous voyage to England in a captured Frankish
vessel. Thou didst not know, 0 Asad, else thou wouldst...."
"Bah!" broke in the Basha. "Thou'rt a huckster born. There is none like thee, Sakr-el-
Bahr, in any game of wits. Well, well, name thine own price, strike thine own profit out
of my impatience and let us have done."