Captain Brassbound's Conversion HTML version

On the heights overlooking the harbor of Mogador, a seaport on the west coast of
Morocco, the missionary, in the coolness of the late afternoon, is following the
precept of Voltaire by cultivating his garden. He is an elderly Scotchman,
spiritually a little weatherbeaten, as having to navigate his creed in strange
waters crowded with other craft but still a convinced son of the Free Church and
the North African Mission, with a faithful brown eye, and a peaceful soul.
Physically a wiry small-knit man, well tanned, clean shaven, with delicate
resolute features and a twinkle of mild humor. He wears the sun helmet and
pagri, the neutral-tinted spectacles, and the white canvas Spanish sand shoes of
the modern Scotch missionary: but instead of a cheap tourist's suit from
Glasgow, a grey flannel shirt with white collar, a green sailor knot tie with a cheap
pin in it, he wears a suit of clean white linen, acceptable in color, if not in cut, to
the Moorish mind.
The view from the garden includes much Atlantic Ocean and a long stretch of
sandy coast to the south, swept by the north east trade wind, and scantily
nourishing a few stunted pepper trees, mangy palms, and tamarisks. The
prospect ends, as far as the land is concerned, in little hills that come nearly to
the sea: rudiments, these, of the Atlas Mountains. The missionary, having had
daily opportunities of looking at this seascape for thirty years or so, pays no heed
to it, being absorbed in trimming a huge red geranium bush, to English eyes
unnaturally big, which, with a dusty smilax or two, is the sole product of his pet
flower-bed. He is sitting to his work on a Moorish stool. In the middle of the
garden there is a pleasant seat in the shade of a tamarisk tree. The house is in
the south west corner of the garden, and the geranium bush in the north east
At the garden-door of the house there appears presently a man who is clearly no
barbarian, being in fact a less agreeable product peculiar to modern commercial
civilization. His frame and flesh are those of an ill-nourished lad of seventeen; but
his age is inscrutable: only the absence of any sign of grey in his mud colored
hair suggests that he is at all events probably under forty, without prejudice to the
possibility of his being under twenty. A Londoner would recognize him at once as
an extreme but hardy specimen of the abortion produced by nature in a city slum.
His utterance, affectedly pumped and hearty, and naturally vulgar and nasal, is
ready and fluent: nature, a Board School education, and some kerbstone practice
having made him a bit of an orator. His dialect, apart from its base nasal delivery,
is not unlike that of smart London society in its tendency to replace diphthongs by