For a little while Asad stood at gaze, speechless in his incredulity. Then to revive the
anger that for a moment had been whelmed in astonishment came the reflection that he
had been duped by Sakr-el-Bahr, duped by the man he trusted most. He had snarled at
Fenzileh and scorned Marzak when they had jointly warned him against his lieutenant; if
at times he had been in danger of heeding them, yet sooner or later he had concluded that
they but spoke to vent their malice. And yet it was proven now that they had been right in
their estimate of this traitor, whilst he himself had been a poor, blind dupe, needing
Marzak's wit to tear the bandage from his eyes.
Slowly he went down the gangway, followed by Marzak, Biskaine, and the others. At the
point where it joined the waist-deck he paused, and his dark old eyes smouldered under
his beetling brows.
"So," he snarled. "These are thy goods of price. Thou lying dog, what was thine aim in
Defiantly Sakr-el-Bahr answered him: "She is my wife. It is my right to take her with me
where I go." He turned to her, and bade her veil her face, and she immediately obeyed
him with fingers that shook a little in her agitation.
"None questions thy right to that," said Asad. But being resolved to take her with thee,
why not take her openly? Why was she not housed in the poop-house, as becomes the
wife of Sakr-el-Bahr? Why smuggle her aboard in a pannier, and keep her there in
"And why," added Marzak, "didst thou lie to me when I questioned thee upon her
whereabouts?--telling me she was left behind in thy house in Algiers?"
"All this I did," replied Sakr-el-Bahr, with a lofty--almost a disdainful--dignity, "because
I feared lest I should be prevented from bearing her away with me," and his bold glance,
beating full upon Asad, drew a wave of colour into the gaunt old cheeks.
"What could have caused that fear?" he asked. "Shall I tell thee? Because no man sailing
upon such a voyage as this would have desired the company of his new-wedded wife.
Because no man would take a wife with him upon a raid in which there is peril of life and
peril of capture."
"Allah has watched over me his servant in the past," said Sakr-el-Bahr, "and I put my
trust in Him."
It was a specious answer. Such words--laying stress upon the victories Allah sent him--
had afore-time served to disarm his enemies. But they served not now. Instead, they did
but fan the flames of Asad's wrath.