The Prince of India or Why Constantinople Fell Volume 2 - Lew Wallace - E-Book

The Prince of India or Why Constantinople Fell Volume 2 E-Book

Lew Wallace

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Finally The New Revised Edition is Available!

This novel from Wallace, the writer of Ben-Hur, recounts events leading to the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. The legendary wandering jew, in the guise of a Prince of India aids in bringing about the downfall of the city and its empire by aiding and advising the Turkish Sultan Mehmed II. See other titles by this author available from Kessinger Publishin Lew Wallace was an American lawyer, soldier, politician and author. During active duty as a second lieutenant in the Mexican-American War, Wallace met Abraham Lincoln, who would later inspire him to join the Republican Party and fight for the Union in the American Civil War. Following the end of the war, Wallace retired from the army and began writing, completing his most famous work, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ while serving as the governor of New Mexico Territory. Ben-Hur would go on to become the best-selling American novel of the nineteenth century, and is noted as one of the most influential Christian books ever written. Although Ben-Hur is his most famous work, Wallace published continuously throughout his lifetime. Other notable titles include, The Boyhood of Christ, The Prince of India, several biographies and his own autobiography. Wallace died in 1909 at the age of 77, after a lifetime of service in the American army and government

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Table of Contents

BOOK IV

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

CHAPTER XIV

CHAPTER XV

CHAPTER XVI

CHAPTER XVII

CHAPTER XVIII

CHAPTER XIX

CHAPTER XX

CHAPTER XXI

CHAPTER XXII

CHAPTER XXIII

CHAPTER XXIV

BOOK V

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

BOOK VI

CHAPTER I

CHAPTER II

CHAPTER III

CHAPTER IV

CHAPTER V

CHAPTER VI

CHAPTER VII

CHAPTER VIII

CHAPTER IX

CHAPTER X

CHAPTER XI

CHAPTER XII

CHAPTER XIII

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE PRINCE OF INDIA OR WHY CONSTANTINOPLE FELL

BY LEW. WALLACE

VOL. II.

 

 

 

Rise, too, ye Shapes and Shadows of the Past

Rise from your long forgotten grazes at last

Let us behold your faces, let us hear

The words you uttered in those days of fear

Revisit your familiar haunts again

The scenes of triumph and the scenes of pain

And leave the footprints of your bleeding feet

Once more upon the pavement of the street_

LONGFELLOW

 

BOOK IV (continued)

CHAPTER XI

THE PRINCESS HEARS FROM THE WORLD

The sun shone clear and hot, and the guests in the garden were glad to

rest in the shaded places of promenade along the brooksides and under

the beeches and soaring pines of the avenues. Far up the extended hollow

there was a basin first to receive the water from the conduit supposed

to tap the aqueduct leading down from the forest of Belgrade. The noise

of the little cataract there was strong enough to draw a quota of

visitors. From the front gate to the basin, from the basin to the summit

of the promontory, the company in lingering groups amused each other

detailing what of fortune good and bad the year had brought them. The

main features of such meetings are always alike. There were games by the

children, lovers in retired places, and old people plying each other

with reminiscences. The faculty of enjoyment changes but never expires.

An array of men chosen for the purpose sallied from the basement of the

palace carrying baskets of bread, fruits in season, and wine of the

country in water-skins. Dispersing themselves through the garden, they

waited on the guests, and made distribution without stint or

discrimination. The heartiness of their welcome may be imagined; while

the thoughtful reader will see in the liberality thus characterizing her

hospitality one of the secrets of the Princess’s popularity with the

poor along the Bosphorus. Nor that merely. A little reflection will lead

up to an explanation of her preference for the Homeric residence by

Therapia. The commonalty, especially the unfortunate amongst them, were

a kind of constituency of hers, and she loved living where she could

most readily communicate with them.

This was the hour she chose to go out and personally visit her guests.

Descending from the portico, she led her household attendants into the

garden. She alone appeared unveiled. The happiness of the many amongst

whom she immediately stepped touched every spring of enjoyment in her

being; her eyes were bright, her cheeks rosy, her spirit high; in a

word, the beauty so peculiarly hers, and which no one could look on

without consciousness of its influence, shone with singular enhancement.

News that she was in the garden spread rapidly, and where she went

everyone arose and remained standing. Now and then, while making

acknowledgments to groups along the way, she recognized acquaintances,

and for such, whether men or women, she had a smile, sometimes a word.

Upon her passing, they pursued with benisons, “God bless you!” “May the

Holy Mother keep her!” Not unfrequently children ran flinging flowers at

her feet, and mothers knelt and begged her blessing. They had lively

recollection of a sickness or other overtaking by sorrow, and of her

boat drawing to the landing laden with delicacies, and bringing what was

quite as welcome, the charm of her presence, with words inspiring hope

and trust. The vast, vociferous, premeditated Roman ovation, sonorously

the Triumph, never brought a Consular hero the satisfaction this

Christian woman now derived.

She was aware of the admiration which went with her, and the sensation

was of walking through a purer and brighter sunshine. Nor did she affect

to put aside the triumph there certainly was in the demonstration; but

she accounted it the due of charity—a triumph of good work done for the

pleasure there was in the doing.

At the basin mentioned as the landward terminus of the garden the

progress in that direction stopped. Thence, after gracious attentions to

the women and children there, the Princess set out for the summit of the

promontory. The road taken was broad and smooth, and on the left hand

lined from bottom to top with pine trees, some of which are yet

standing.

The summit had been a place of interest time out of mind. From its woody

cover, the first inhabitants beheld the Argonauts anchor off the town of

Amycus, king of the Bebryces; there the vengeful Medea practised her

incantations; and descending to acknowledged history, it were long

telling the notable events of the ages landmarked by the hoary height.

When the builder of the palace below threw his scheme of improvement

over the brow of the hill, he constructed water basins on different

levels, surrounding them with raised walls artistically sculptured;

between the basins he pitched marble pavilions, looking in the distance

like airy domes on a Cyclopean temple; then he drew the work together by

a tesselated pavement identical with the floor of the house of Caesar

hard by the Forum in Rome.

Giving little heed to the other guests in occupancy of the summit, the

attendants of the Princess broke into parties sight seeing; while she

called Sergius to her, and conducted him to a point commanding the

Bosphorus for leagues. A favorite lookout, in fact, the spot had been

provided with a pavement and a capacious chair cut from a block of the

coarse brown limestone native to the locality. There she took seat, and

the ascent, though all in shade, having been wearisome, she was glad of

the blowing of the fresh upper air.

From a place in the rear Sergius had witnessed the progress to the

present halt. Every incident and demonstration had been in his view and

hearing. The expressions of affection showered upon the Princess were

delightful to him; they seemed so spontaneous and genuine. As testimony

to her character in the popular estimate at least, they left nothing

doubtful. His first impression of her was confirmed. She was a woman to

whom Heaven had confided every grace and virtue. Such marvels had been

before. He had heard of them in tradition, and always in a strain to

lift those thus favored above the hardened commonplace of human life,

creatures not exactly angels, yet moving in the same atmosphere with

angels. The monasteries, even those into whose gates women are forbidden

to look, all have stories of womanly excellence which the monks tell

each other in pauses from labor in the lentil patch, and in their cells

after vesper prayers. In brief, so did Sergius’ estimate of the Princess

increase that he was unaware of impropriety when, trudging slowly after

the train of attendants, he associated her with heroines most odorous in

Church and Scriptural memories; with Mothers Superior famous for

sanctity; with Saints, like Theckla and Cecilia; with the Prophetess who

was left by the wayside in the desert of Zin, and the later seer and

singer, she who had her judgment-seat under the palm tree of Deborah.

Withal, however, the monk was uncomfortable. The words of his Hegumen

pursued him. Should he tell the Princess? Assailed by doubts, he

followed her to the lookout on the edge of the promontory.

Seating herself, she glanced over the wide field of water below; from

the vessels there, she gazed across to Asia; then up at the sky, full to

its bluest depth with the glory of day. At length she asked:

“Have you heard from Father Hilarion?”

“Not yet,” Sergius replied.

“I was thinking of him,” she continued. “He used to tell me of the

primitive church—the Church of the Disciples. One of his lessons

returns to me. He seems to be standing where you are. I hear his voice.

I see his countenance. I remember his words: ‘The brethren while of one

faith, because the creed was too simple for division, were of two

classes, as they now are and will always be’—ay, Sergius, as they will

always be!—‘But,’ he said, ‘it is worthy remembrance, my dear child,

unlike the present habit, the rich held their riches with the

understanding that the brethren all had shares in them. The owner was

more than owner; he was a trustee charged with the safe-keeping of his

property, and with farming it to the best advantage, that he might be in

condition to help the greatest number of the Christian brotherhood

according to their necessities.’ I wondered greatly at the time, but not

now. The delight I have today confirms the Father; for it is not in my

palace and garden, nor in my gold, but in the power I derive from them

to give respite from the grind of poverty to so many less fortunate than

myself. ‘The divine order was not to desist from getting wealth’—thus

the Father continued—‘for Christ knew there were who, labor as they

might, could not accumulate or retain; circumstances would be against

them, or the genius might be wanting. Poor without fault, were they to

suffer, and curse God with the curse of the sick, the cold, the naked,

the hungry? Oh, no! Christ was the representative of the Infinitely

Merciful. Under his dispensation they were to be partners of the more

favored.’ Who can tell, who can begin to measure the reward there is to

me in the laughter of children at play under the trees by the brooks,

and in the cheer and smiles of women whom I have been able to draw from

the unvarying routine of toil like theirs?”

There was a ship with full spread sail speeding along so close in shore

Sergius could have thrown a stone on its deck. He affected to be deeply

interested in it. The ruse did not avail him.

“What is the matter?”

Receiving no reply, she repeated the question.

“My dear friend, you are not old enough in concealment to deceive me.

You are in trouble. Come sit here…. True, I am not an authorized

confessor; yet I know the principle on which the Church defends the

confessional. Let me share your burden. Insomuch as you give me, you

shall be relieved.”

It came to him then that he must speak.

“Princess,” he began, striving to keep his voice firm, “you know not

what you ask.”

“Is it what a woman may hear?”

A step nearer brought him on the tesselated square.

“I hesitate, Princess, because a judgment is required of me. Hear, and

help me first.”

Then he proceeded rapidly:

“There is one just entered holy service. He is a member of an ancient

and honorable Brotherhood, and by reason of his inexperience, doubtless,

its obligations rest the heavier on his conscience. His superior has

declared to him how glad he would be had he a son like him, and

confiding in his loyalty, he intrusted him with gravest secrets; amongst

others, that a person well known and greatly beloved is under watch for

the highest of religious crimes. Pause now, O Princess, and consider the

obligations inseparable from the relation and trust here disclosed….

Look then to this other circumstance. The person accused condescended to

be the friend and patron of the same neophyte, and by vouching for him

to the head of the Church, put him on the road to favor and quick

promotion. Briefly, O Princess, to which is obligation first owing? The

father superior or the patron in danger?”

The Princess replied calmly, but with feeling: “It is not a supposition,

Sergius.”

Though surprised, he returned: “Without it I could not have your

decision first.”

“Thou, Sergius, art the distressed neophyte.”

He held his hands out to her: “Give me thy judgment.”

“The Hegumen of the St. James’ is the accuser.”

“Be just, O Princess! To which is the obligation first owing?”

“I am the accused,” she continued, in the same tone.

He would have fallen on his knees. “No, keep thy feet. A watchman may be

behind me now.”

He had scarcely resumed his position before she asked, still in the

quiet searching manner: “What is the highest religious crime? Or rather,

to men in authority, like the Hegumen of your Brotherhood, what is the

highest of all crimes?”

He looked at her in mute supplication.

“I will tell you—HERESY.”

Then, compassionating his suffering, she added: “My poor Sergius! I am

not upbraiding you. You are showing me your soul. I see it in its first

serious trial…. I will forget that I am the denounced, and try to help

you. Is there no principle to which we can refer the matter—no

Christian principle? The Hegumen claims silence from you; on the other

side, your conscience—I would like to say preference—impels you to

speak a word of warning for the benefit of your patroness. There, now,

we have both the dispute and the disputants. Is it not so?”

Sergius bowed his head.

“Father Hilarion once said to me: ‘Daughter, I give you the ultimate

criterion of the divineness of our religion—there cannot be an instance

of human trial for which it does not furnish a rule of conduct and

consolation.’ A profound saying truly! Now is it possible we have here

at last an exception? I do not seek to know on which side the honors

lie. Where are the humanities? Ideas of honor are of men conventional.

On the other hand, the humanities stand for Charity. If thou wert the

denounced, O Sergius, how wouldst thou wish to be done by?”

Sergius’ face brightened.

“We are not seeking to save a heretic—we are in search of quiet for our

consciences. So why not ask and answer further: What would befall the

Hegumen, did you tell the accused all you had from him? Would he suffer?

Is there a tribunal to sentence him? Or a prison agape for him? Or

torture in readiness? Or a King of Lions? In these respects how is it

with the friend who vouched for you to the head of the Church? Alas!”

“Enough—say no more!” Sergius cried impulsively. “Say no more. O

Princess, I will tell everything—I will save you, if I can—if not, and

the worst come, I will die with you.”

Womanlike the Princess signalized her triumph with tears. At length she

asked: “Wouldst thou like to know if I am indeed a heretic?”

“Yes, for what thou art, that am I; and then”—

“The same fire in the Hippodrome may light us both out of the world.”

There was a ring of prophecy in the words.

“God forbid!” he ejaculated, with a shiver.

“God’s will be done, were better! … So, if it please you,” she went

on, “tell me all the Hegumen told you about me.”

“Everything?” he asked doubtfully.

“Why not?”

“Part of it is too wicked for repetition.”

“Yet it was an accusation.”

“Yes.”

“Sergius, you are no match in cunning for my enemies. They are Greeks

trained to diplomacy; you are”—she paused and half smiled—“only a

pupil of Hilarion’s. See now—if they mean to kill me, how important to

invent a tale which shall rob me of sympathy, and reconcile the public

to my sacrifice. They who do much good, and no harm”—she cast a glance

at the people swarming around the pavilions—“always have friends. Such

is the law of kindness, and it never failed but once; but today a

splinter of the Cross is worth a kingdom.”

“Princess, I will hold nothing back.”

“And I, Sergius—God witnessing for me—will speak to each denunciation

thou givest me.”

“There were two matters in the Hegumen’s mind,” Sergius began, but struck

with the abruptness, he added apologetically: “I pray you, Princess,

remember I speak at your insistence, and that I am not in any sense an

accuser. It may be well to say also the Hegumen returned from last

night’s Mystery low in spirits, and much spent bodily, and before

speaking of you, declared he had been an active partisan of your

father’s. I do not think him your personal enemy.”

A mist of tears dimmed her eyes while the Princess replied: “He was my

father’s friend, and I am grateful to him; but alas! that he is

naturally kind and just is now of small consequence.”

“It grieves me”—

“Do not stop,” she said, interrupting him.

“At the Father’s bedside I received his blessing; and asked leave to be

absent a few days. ‘Where?’ he inquired, and I answered: ‘Thou knowest I

regard the Princess Irene as my little mother. I should like to go see

her.’”

Sergius sought his auditor’s face at this, and observing no sign of

objection to the familiarity, was greatly strengthened.

“The Father endeavored to persuade me not to come, and it was with that

purpose he entered upon the disclosures you ask…. ‘The life the

Princess leads’—thus he commenced—‘and her manners, are outside the

sanctions of society.’”

Here, from resting on her elbow, the listener sat upright, grasping the

massive arm of the chair.

“Shall I proceed, O Princess?”

“Yes.”

“This place is very public”—he glanced at the people above them.

“I will hear you here.”

“At your pleasure…. The Hegumen referred next to your going about

publicly unveiled. While not positively wrong, he condemned the practice

as a pernicious example; besides which there was a defiant boldness in

it, he said, tending to make you a subject of discussion and indelicate

remark.”

The hand on the stony arm trembled.

“I fear, O Princess,” Sergius continued, with downcast look, “that my

words are giving you pain.”

“But they are not yours. Go on.”

“Then the Father came to what was much more serious.”

Sergius again hesitated.

“I am listening,” she said.

“He termed it your persistence in keeping up the establishment here at

Therapia.”

The Princess grew red and white by turns.

“He said the Turk was too near you; that unmarried and unprotected your

proper place was in some house of God on the Islands, or in the city,

where you could have the benefit of holy offices. As it was, rumor was

free to accuse you of preferring guilty freedom to marriage.”

The breeze fell off that moment, leaving the Princess in the centre of a

profound hush; except for the unwonted labor of her heart, the leaves

overhead were not more still. The sight of her was too oppressive—

Sergius turned away. Presently he heard her say, as if to herself: “I am

indeed in danger. If my death were not in meditation, the boldest of them

would not dare think so foul a falsehood…. Sergius,” she said.

He turned to her, but she broke off diverted by another idea. Had this

last accusation reference to the Emperor’s dream of making her his wife?

Could the Emperor have published what took place between them?

Impossible!

“Sergius, did the Hegumen tell you whence this calumny had origin?”

“He laid it to rumor merely.”

“Surely he disclosed some ground for it. A dignitary of his rank and

profession cannot lend himself to shaming a helpless woman without

reason or excuse.”

“Except your residence at Therapia, he gave no reason.”

Here she looked at Sergius, and the pain in the glance was pitiful. “My

friend, is there anything in your knowledge which might serve such a

rumor?”

“Yes,” he replied, letting his eyes fall.

“What!” and she lifted her head, and opened her eyes.

He stood silent and evidently suffering.

“Poor Sergius! The punishment is yours. I am sorry for you—sorry we

entered on this subject—but it is too late to retire from it. Speak

bravely. What is it you know against me? It cannot be a crime; much I

doubt if it be a sin; my walk has been very strait and altogether in

God’s view. Speak!”

“Princess,” he answered, “coming down from the landing, I was stopped by

a concourse studying a brass plate nailed to the right-hand pillar of

your gate. It was inscribed, but none of them knew the import of the

inscription. The hamari came up, and at sight of it fell to saluting,

like the abject Eastern he is. The bystanders chaffered him, and he

retorted, and, amongst other things, said the brass was a safeguard

directed to all Turks, notifying them that this property, its owner, and

inmates were under protection of the Prince Mahommed. Give heed now, I

pray you, O Princess, to this other thing of the man’s saying. The

notice was the Prince Mahommed’s, the inscription his signature, and the

Prince himself fixed the plate on the pillar with his own hand.”

Sergius paused.

“Well,” she asked.

“The inferences—consider them.”

“State them.”

“My tongue refuses. Or if I must, O Princess, I will use the form of

accusation others are likely to have adopted. ‘The Princess Irene lives

at Therapia because Prince Mahommed is her lover, and it is a convenient

place of meeting. Therefore his safeguard on her gate.’”

“No one could be bold enough to”—

“One has been bold enough.”

“One?”

“The Hegumen of my Brotherhood.”

The Princess was very pale.

“It is cruel—cruel!” she exclaimed. “What ought I to do?”

“Treat the safeguard as a discovery of to-day, and have it removed while

the people are all present.” She looked at him searchingly. On her

forehead between the brows, he beheld a line never there before. More

surprising was the failure of self-reliance observable in her request

for counsel. Heretofore her courage and sufficiency had been remarkable.

In all dealings with him she had proved herself the directress, quick

yet decided. The change astonished him, so little was he acquainted with

the feminine nature; and in reply he spoke hastily, hardly knowing what

he had said. The words were not straightforward and honest; they were

not becoming him any more than the conduct suggested was becoming her;

they lingered in his ear, a wicked sound, and he would have recalled

them—but he hesitated.

Here a voice in fierce malediction was heard up at the pavilions,

together with a prodigious splashing of water. Laughter, clapping of

hands, and other expressions of delight succeeded.

“Go, Sergius, and see what is taking place,” said the Princess.

Glad of the opportunity to terminate the painful scene, he hastened to

the reservoirs and returned.

“Your presence will restore quiet at once.”

The people made way for their hostess with alacrity. The hamari, it

appeared, had just arrived from the garden. Observing Lael in the midst

of the suite of fair ladies, he advanced to her with many strange

salutations. Alarmed, she would have run away had not Joqard broken from

his master, and leaped with a roar into the water. The poor beast seemed

determined to enjoy the bath. He swam, and dived, and played antics

without number. In vain the showman, resorting to every known language,

coaxed and threatened by turns—Joqard was self-willed and happy, and it

were hard saying which appreciated his liberty most, he or the

spectators of the scene.

The Princess, for the time conquering her pain of heart, interceded for

the brute; whereupon the hamari, like a philosopher used to making the

best of surprises, joined in the sport until Joqard grew tired, and

voluntarily returned to control.

CHAPTER XII

LAEL TELLS OF HER TWO FATHERS

Word passed from the garden to the knots of people on the height: “Come

down quickly. They are making ready for the boat race.” Directly the

reservoirs, the pavilions, and the tesselation about them were deserted.

The Princess Irene, with her suite, made the descent to the garden more

at leisure, knowing the regatta would wait for her. So it happened she

was at length in charge of what seemed a rear guard; but how it befell

that Sergius and Lael drew together, the very last of that rear guard,

is not of such easy explanation.

Whether by accident or mutual seeking, side by side the two moved slowly

down the hill, one moment in the shade of the kingly pines, then in the

glowing sunshine. The noises of the celebration, the shouting, singing,

calling, and merry outcries of children ascended to them, and through

the verdurousness below, lucent as a lake, gleams of color flashed from

scarfs, mantles, embroidered jackets, and flaming petticoats.

“I hope you are enjoying yourself,” he said to Lael, upon their meeting.

“Oh, yes! How could I help it—everything is delightful. And the

Princess—she is so good and gracious. Oh, if I were a man, I should go

mad with loving her!”

She spoke with enthusiasm; she even drew her veil partially aside; yet

Sergius did not respond; he was asking himself if it were possible the

girl could be an impostor. Presently he resolved to try her with

questions.

“Tell me of your father. Is he well?”

At this she raised her veil entirely, and in turn asked: “Which father

do you mean?”

“Which father,” he repeated, stopping.

“Oh, I have the advantage of everybody else! I have two fathers.”

He could do no more than repeat after her: “Two fathers!”

“Yes; Uel the merchant is one of them, and the Prince of India is the

other. I suppose you mean the Prince, since you know him. He accompanied

me to the landing this morning, and seated me in the boat. He was then

well.”

There was no concealment here. Yet Sergius saw the disclosure was not

complete. He was tempted to go on.

“Two fathers! How can such thing be?”

She met the question with a laugh. “Oh! If it depended on which of them

is the kinder to me, I could not tell you the real father.”

Sergius stood looking at her, much as to say: “That is no answer; you

are playing with me.”

“See how we are falling behind,” she then said. “Come, let us go on. I

can talk while walking.”

They set forward briskly, but it was noticeable that he moved nearer

her, stooping from his great height to hear further.

“This is the way of it,” she continued of her own prompting. “Some years

ago, my father, Uel, the merchant, received a letter from an old friend

of his father’s, telling him that he was about to return to

Constantinople after a long absence in the East somewhere, and asking if

he, Uel, would assist the servant who was bearer of the note in buying

and furnishing a house. Uel did so, and when the stranger arrived, his

home was ready for him. I was then a little girl, and went one day to

see the Prince of India, his residence being opposite Uel’s on the other

side of the street. He was studying some big books, but quit them, and

picked me up, and asked me who I was? I told him Uel was my father. What

was my name? Lael, I said. How old was I? And when I answered that also,

he kissed me, and cried, and, to my wonder, declared how he had once a

child named Lael; she looked like me, and was just my age when she

died”—

“Wonderful!” exclaimed Sergius.

“Yes, and he then said Heaven had sent me to take her place. Would I be

his Lael? I answered I would, if Uel consented. He took me in his arms,

carried me across the street and talked so Uel could not have refused

had he wanted to.”

The manner of the telling was irresistible. At the conclusion, she

turned to him and said, with emotion: “There, now. You see I really have

two fathers, and you know how I came by them: and were I to recount

their goodness to me, and how they both love me, and how happy each one

of them is in believing me the object of the other’s affection, you

would understand just as well how I know no difference between them.”

“It is strange; yet as you tell it, little friend, it is not strange,”

he returned, seriously. They were at the instant in a bar of brightest

sunlight projected across the road; and had she asked him the cause of

the frown on his face, he could not have told her he was thinking of

Demedes.

“Yes, I see it—I see it, and congratulate you upon being so doubly

blessed. Tell me next who the Prince of India is.”

She looked now here, now there, he watching her narrowly.

“Oh! I never thought of asking him about himself.”

She was merely puzzled by an unexpected question.

“But you know something of him?”

“Let me think,” she replied. “Yes, he was the intimate of my father

Uel’s father, and of his father before him.”

“Is he so old then?”

“I cannot say how long he has been a family acquaintance. Of my knowledge

he is very learned in everything. He speaks all the languages I ever

heard of; he passes the nights alone on the roof of his house”—

“Alone on the roof of his house!”

“Only of clear nights, you understand. A servant carries a chair and

table up for him, and a roll of papers, with pen and ink, and a clock of

brass and gold. The paper is a map of the heavens; and he sits there

watching the stars, marking them in position on the map, the clock

telling him the exact time.”

“An astronomer,” said Sergius.

“And an astrologer,” she added; “and besides these things he is a doctor,

but goes only amongst the poor, taking nothing from them. He is also a

chemist; and he has tables of the plants curative and deadly, and can

extract their qualities, and reduce them from fluids to solids, and

proportionate them. He is also a master of figures, a science, he always

terms it, the first of creative principles without which God could not

be God. So, too, he is a traveller—indeed I think he has been over the

known world. You cannot speak of a capital or of an island, or a tribe

which he has not visited. He has servants from the farthest East. One of

his attendants is an African King; and what is the strangest to me,

Sergius, his domestics are all deaf and dumb.”

“Impossible!”

“Nothing appears impossible to him.”

“How does he communicate with them?”

“They catch his meaning from the motion of his lips. He says signs are

too slow and uncertain for close explanations.”

“Still he must resort to some language.”

“Oh, yes, the Greek.”

“But if they have somewhat to impart to him?”

“It is theirs to obey, and pantomime seems sufficient to convey the

little they have to return to him, for it is seldom more than, ‘My Lord,

I have done the thing you gave me to do.’ If the matter be complex, he

too resorts to the lip-speech, which he could not teach without first

being proficient in it himself. Thus, for instance, to Nilo”—

“The black giant who defended you against the Greek?”

“Yes—a wonderful man—an ally, not a servant. On the journey to

Constantinople, the Prince turned aside into an African Kingdom called

Kash-Cush. I cannot tell where it is. Nilo was the King, and a mighty

hunter and warrior. His trappings hang in his room now—shields, spears,

knives, bows and arrows, and among them a net of linen threads. When he

took the field for lions, his favorite game, the net and a short sword

were all he cared for. His throne room, I have heard my father the

Prince say, was carpeted with skins taken by him in single combats.”

“What could he do with the net, little Princess?”

“I will give you his account; perhaps you can see it clearly—I cannot.

When the monster makes his leap, the corners of the net are tossed up in

the air, and he is in some way caught and tangled… Well, as I was

saying, Nilo, though deaf and dumb, of choice left his people and throne

to follow the Prince, he knew not where.”

“Oh, little friend! Do you know you are talking the incredible to me?

Who ever heard of such thing before?”

Sergius’ blue eyes were astare with wonder.

“I only speak what I have heard recounted by my father, the Prince, to

my other father, Uel…. What I intended saying was that directly the

Prince established himself at home he began teaching Nilo to converse.

The work was slow at first; but there is no end to the master’s skill

and patience; he and the King now talk without hindrance. He has even

made him a believer in God.”

“A Christian, you mean.”

“No. In my father’s opinion the mind of a wild man cannot comprehend

modern Christianity; nobody can explain the Trinity; yet a child can be

taught the almightiness of God, and won to faith in him.”

“Do you speak for yourself or the Prince?”

“The Prince,” she replied.

Sergius was struck with the idea, and wished to go further with it, but

they were at the foot of the hill, and Lael exclaimed, “The garden is

deserted. We may lose the starting of the race. Let us hurry.”

“Nay, little friend, you forget how narrow my skirts are. I cannot run.

Let us walk fast. Give me a hand. There now—we will arrive in time.”

Near the palace, however, Sergius dropped into his ordinary gait; then

coming to a halt, he asked: “Tell me to whom else you have related this

pretty tale of the two fathers?”

His look and tone were exceedingly grave, and she studied his face, and

questioned him in turn: “You are very serious—why?”

“Oh, I was wondering if the story is public?” More plainly, he was

wondering whence Demedes had his information.

“I suppose it is generally known; at least I cannot see why it should

not be.”

The few words swept the last doubt from his mind; yet she continued: “My

father Uel is well known to the merchants of the city. I have heard him

say gratefully that since the coming of the Prince of India his business

has greatly increased. He used to deal in many kinds of goods; now he

sells nothing but precious stones. His patrons are not alone the nobles

of Byzantium; traders over in Galata buy of him for the western markets,

especially Italy and France. My other father, the Prince, is an expert

in such things, and does not disdain to help Uel with advice.”

Lael might have added that the Prince, in course of his travels, had

ascertained the conveniency of jewels as a currency familiar and

acceptable to almost every people, and always kept a store of them by

him, from which he frequently replenished his protege’s stock, allowing

him the profits. That she did not make this further disclosure was

probably due to ignorance of the circumstances; in other words, her

artlessness was extreme enough to render her a dangerous confidant, and

both her fathers were aware of it.

“Everybody in the bazaar is friendly to my father Uel, and the Prince

visits him there, going in state; and he and his train are an

attraction”—thus Lael proceeded. “On his departure, the questions about

him are countless, and Uel holds nothing back. Indeed, it is more than

likely he has put the whole mart and city in possession of the history

of my adoption by the Prince.”

In front of the palace she broke off abruptly: “But see! The landing is

covered with men and women. Let us hurry.”

Presently they issued from the garden, and were permitted to join the

Princess.

CHAPTER XIII

THE HAMARI TURNS BOATMAN

The boatmen had taken up some of the marble blocks of the landing, and

planting long oars upright in the ground, and fixing other oars

crosswise on them, constructed a secure frame covered with fresh

sail-cloth. From their vessels they had also brought material for a dais

under the shelter thus improvised; another sail for carpet, and a chair

on the dais completed the stand whence the Princess was to view and

judge the race.

A way was opened for her through the throng, and with her attendants,

she passed to the stand; and as she went, all the women near reached out

their hands and reverently touched the skirt of her gown—so did their

love for her trench on adoration.

The shore from the stand to the town, and from the stand again around

the promontory on the south, was thronged with spectators, while every

vantage point fairly in view was occupied by them; even the ships were

pressed into the service; and somehow the air over and about the bay

seemed to give back and tremble with the eagerness of interest

everywhere discernible.

Between Fanar, the last northern point of lookout over the Black Sea,

and Galata, down on the Golden Horn, there are about thirty hamlets,

villages and cities specking the European shore of the Bosphorus. Each

of them has its settlement of fishermen. Aside from a voluminous net,

the prime necessity for successful pursuit of the ancient and honorable

calling is a boat. Like most things of use amongst men, the vessel of

preferred model here came of evolution. The modern tourist may yet see

its kind drawn up at every landing he passes.

Proper handling, inclusive of running out and hauling in the seine,

demanded a skilful crew of at least five men; and as whole lives were

devoted to rowing, the proficiency finally attained in it can be

fancied. It was only natural, therefore, that the thirty communities

should each insist upon having the crew of greatest excellence—the crew

which could outrow any other five on the Bosphorus; and as every

Byzantine Greek was a passionate gambler, the wagers were without end.

Vauntings of the sort, like the Black Sea birds of unresting wings, went

up and down the famous waterway.

At long intervals occasions presented for the proof of these men of

pride; after which, for a period there was an admitted champion crew,

and a consequent hush of the babble and brawl.

In determining to conclude the fete with a boat-race open to all Greek

comers from the capital to the Cyanian rocks, the Princess Irene did

more than secure a desirable climax; unconsciously, perhaps, she hit

upon the measure most certain to bring peace to the thirty villages.

She imposed but two conditions on the competitors—they should be

fishermen and Greeks.

The interval between the announcement of the race and the day set for it

had been filled with boasting, from which one would have supposed the

bay of Therapia at the hour of starting would be too contracted to hold

the adversaries. When the hour came there were six crews present actually

prepared to contest for the prize—a tall ebony crucifix, with a gilded

image, to be displayed of holidays on the winning prow. The shrinkage

told the usual tale of courage oozed out. There was of course no end of

explanation.

About three o’clock, the six boats, each with a crew of five men, were

held in front of the Princess’ stand, representative of as many towns.

Their prows were decorated with banderoles large enough to be easily

distinguished at a distance—one yellow, chosen for Yenimahale; one

blue, for Buyukdere; one white, for Therapia; one red, for Stenia; one

green, for Balta-Liman; and one half white and half scarlet, for Bebek.

The crews were in their seats—fellows with knotted arms bare to the

shoulder; white shirts under jackets the color of the flags, trousers in

width like petticoats. The feet were uncovered that, while the pull was

in delivery, they might the better clinch the cleats across the bottom

of the boat.

The fresh black paint with which the vessels had been smeared from end

to end on the outside was stoned smoothly down until it glistened like

varnish. Inside there was not a superfluity to be seen of the weight of

a feather.

The contestants knew every point of advantage, and, not less clearly,

they were there to win or be beaten doing their best. They were cool and

quiet; much more so, indeed, than the respective clansmen and clanswomen.

From these near objects of interest, the Princess directed a glance over

the spreading field of dimpled water to a galley moored under a wooded

point across on the Asiatic shore. The point is now crowned with the

graceful but neglected Kiosk of the Viceroy of Egypt. That galley was

the thither terminus of the race course, and the winners turning it, and

coming back to the place of starting, must row in all about three miles.

A little to the right of the Princess’ stand stood a pole of height to

be seen by the multitude as well as the rival oarsmen, and a rope for

hoisting a white flag to the top connected it with the chair on the

dais. At the appearance of the flag the boats were to start; while it

was flying, the race was on.

And now the competitors are in position by lot from right to left. On

bay and shore the shouting is sunk to a murmur. A moment more—but in

that critical period an interruption occurred.

A yell from a number of voices in sharpest unison drew attention to the

point of land jutting into the water on the north side not inaptly

called the toe of Therapia, and a boat, turning the point, bore down

with speed toward the sail-covered stand. There were four rowers in it;

yet its glossy sides and air of trimness were significant of a seventh

competitor for some reason behind time. The black flag at the prow and

the black uniform of the oarsmen confirmed the idea. The hand of the

Princess was on the signal rope; but she paused.

As the boat-hook of the newcomers fell on the edge of the landing, one

of them dropped upon his knees, crying: “Grace, O Princess! Grace, and a

little time!”

The four were swarthy men, and, unlike the Greeks they were seeking to

oppose, their swart was a peculiarity of birth, a racial sign.

Recognizing them, the spectators near by shouted: “Gypsies! Gypsies!”

and the jeer passed from mouth to mouth far as the bridge over the creek

at the corner of the bay; yet it was not ill-natured. That these

unbelievers of unknown origin, separatists like the Jews, could offer

serious opposition to the chosen of the towns was ridiculous. Since they

excited no apprehension, their welcome was general.

“Why the need of grace? Who are you?” the Princess replied, gravely.

“We are from the valley by Buyukdere,” the man returned.

“Are you fishermen?”

“Judged by our catches the year through, and the prices we get in the

market, O Princess, it is not boasting to say our betters cannot be

found, though you search both shores between Fanar and the Isles of the

Princes.”

This was too much for the bystanders. The presence they were in was not

sufficient to restrain an outburst of derision.

“But the conditions of the race shut you out. You are not Greeks,” the

judge continued.

“Nay, Princess, that is according to the ground of judgment. If it

please you to decide by birth and residence rather than ancestry, then

are we to be preferred over many of the nobles who go in and out of His

Majesty’s gates unchallenged. Has not the sweet water that comes down

from the hills seeking the sea through our meadow furnished drink for

our fathers hundreds of years? And as it knew them, it knows us.”

“Well answered, I must admit. Now, my friend, do as wisely with what I

ask next, and you shall have a place. Say you come out winners, what

will you do with the prize? I have heard you are not Christians.”

The man raised his face the first time.

“Not Christians! Were the charge true, then, argument being for the

hearing, I would say the matter of religion is not among the conditions.

But I am a petitioner, not lawyer, and to my rude thinking it is better

that I hold on as I began. Trust us, O Princess! There is a plane tree,

wondrous old, and with seven twin trunks, standing before our tents, and

in it there is a hollow which shelters securely as a house. Attend me

now, I pray. If happily we win, we will convert the tree into a

cathedral, and build an altar in it, and set the prize above the altar

in such style that all who love the handiworks of nature better than the

artfulness of men may come and worship there reverently as in the

holiest of houses, Sancta Sophia not excepted.”

“I will trust you. With such a promise overheard by so many of this

concourse, to refuse you a part in the race were a shame to the

Immaculate Mother. But how is it you are but four?”

“We were five, O Princess; now one is sick. It was at his bidding we

come; he thought of the hundreds of oarsmen who would be here one at

least could be induced to share our fortune.”

“You have leave to try them.”

The man arose, and looked at the bystanders, but they turned away.

“A hundred noumiae for two willing hands!” he shouted.

There was no reply. “If not for the money, then in honor of the noble

lady who has feasted you and your wives and children.”

A voice answered out of the throng: “Here am I!” and presently the

hamari appeared with the bear behind him.

“Here,” he said, “take care of Joqard for me. I will row in the sick

man’s place, and”—

The remainder of the sentence was lost in an outburst of gibing—and

laughter. Finally the Princess asked the rowers if they were satisfied

with the volunteer.

They surveyed him doubtfully.

“Art thou an oarsman?” one of them asked.

“There is not a better on the Bosphorus. And I will prove it. Here, some

of you—take the beast off my hands. Fear not, friend, Joqard’s worst

growl is inoffensive as thunder without lightning. That’s a good man.”

And with the words the hamari released the leading strap, sprang into

the boat, and without giving time for protest or remonstrance, threw off

his jacket and sandals, tucked up his shirt-sleeves, and dropped into

the vacant fifth seat. The dexterity with which he then unshipped the

oars and took them in hand measurably quieted the associates thus

audaciously adopted; his action was a kind of certificate that the right

man had been sent them.

“Believe in me,” he said, in a low tone. “I have the two qualities which

will bring us home winners—skill and endurance.” Then he spoke to the

Princess: “Noble lady, have I your consent to make a proclamation?”

The manner of the request was singularly deferential. Sergius observed

the change, and took a closer look at him while the Princess was giving

the permission.

Standing upon the seat, the hamari raised his voice: “Ho, here—there—

every one!” and drawing a purse from his bosom, he waved it overhead,

with a louder shout, “See!—a hundred noumiae, and not all copper either.

Piece against piece weighed or counted, I put them in wager! Speak one or

all. Who dares the chance?”

Takers of the offer not appearing on the shore, he shook the purse at

his competitors.

“If we are not Christians,” he said to them, “we are oarsmen and not

afraid. See—I stake this purse—if you win, it is yours.”

They only gaped at him.

He put the purse back slowly, and recounting the several towns of his

opponents by their proper names in Greek, he cried: “Buyukdere, Therapia,

Stenia, Bebek, Balta-Liman, Yenimahale—your women will sing you low

tonight!” Then to the Princess: “Allow us now to take our place seventh

on the left.”

The bystanders were in a maze. Had they been served with a mess of brag,

or was the fellow really capable? One thing was clear—the interest in

the race had taken a rise perceptible in the judge’s stand not less than

on the crowded shore.

The four Gypsies, on their part, were content with the volunteer. In

fact, they were more than satisfied when he said to them, as their

vessel turned into position:

“Now, comrades, be governed by me; and besides the prize, if we win, you

shall have my purse to divide amongst you man and man. Is it agreed?”

And they answered, foreman and all, yes. “Very well,” he returned. “Do

you watch, and get the time and force from me. Now for the signal.”

The Princess sent the starting flag to the top of the pole, and the

boats were off together. A great shout went up from the spectators—a

shout of men mingled with the screams of women to whom a hurrah or cheer

of any kind appears impossible.

To warm the blood, there is nothing after all like the plaudits of a

multitude looking on and mightily concerned. This was now noticeable.

The eyes of all the rowers enlarged; their teeth set hard; the arteries

of the neck swelled; and even in their tension the muscles of the arms

quivered.

A much better arrangement would have been to allow the passage of the

racers broadside to the shore; for then the shiftings of position, and

the strategies resorted to would have been plain to the beholders; as it

was, each foreshortened vessel soon became to them a black body, with

but a man and one pair of oars in motion; and sometimes provokingly

indistinguishable, the banderoles blew backward squarely in a line with

the direction of the movement. Then the friends on land gave over

exercising their throats; finally drawn down to the water’s edge, and

pressing on each other, they steadied and welded into a mass, like a

wall.

Once there was a general shout. Gradually the boats had lost the

formation of the start, and falling in behind each other, assumed an

order comparable to a string. While this change was going on, a breeze

unusually strong blew from the south, bringing every flag into view at

the same time: when it was perceived that the red was in the lead.

Forthwith the clansmen of Stenia united in a triumphant yell, followed

immediately, however, by another yet louder. It was discovered, thanks

to the same breeze, that the black banderole of the Gypsies was the last

of the seven. Then even those who had been most impressed by the bravado

of the hamari, surrendered themselves to laughter and sarcasm.

“See the infidels!” “They had better be at home taking care of their

kettles and goats!” “Turn the seven twins into a cathedral, will they?

The devil will turn them into porpoises first!” “Where is the hamari

now—where? By St. Michael, the father of fishermen, he is finding what

it is to have more noumiae than brains! Ha, ha, ha!”

Nevertheless the coolest of the thirty-five men then scudding the

slippery waterway was the hamari—he had started the coolest—he was the

coolest now.

For a half mile he allowed his crew to do their best, and with them he

had done his best. The effort sufficed to carry them to the front, where

he next satisfied himself they could stay, if they had the endurance. He

called to them:

“Well done, comrades! The prize and the money are yours! But ease up a

little. Let them pass. We will catch them again at the turn. Keep your

eyes on me.”

Insensibly he lessened the dip and reach of his oars; at last, as the

thousands on the Therapian shore would have had it, the Gypsy racer was

the hinderling of the pack. Afterwards there were but trifling changes

of position until the terminal galley was reached.

By a rule of the race, the contestants were required to turn the galley,

keeping it on the right; and it was a great advantage to be a clear

first there, since the fortunate party could then make the round

unhindered and in the least space. The struggle for the point began

quite a quarter of a mile away. Each crew applied itself to quickening

the speed—every oar dipped deeper, and swept a wider span;—on a

little, and the keepers of the galley could hear the half groan, half

grunt with which the coming toilers relieved the extra exertion now

demanded of them;—yet later, they saw them spring to their feet, reach

far back, and finish the long deep draw by falling, or rather toppling

backward to their seats.

Only the hamari eschewed the resort for the present. He cast a look

forward, and said quickly: “Attend, comrades!” Thereupon he added weight

to his left delivery, altering the course to an angle which, if pursued,

must widen the circle around the galley instead of contracting it.

On nearing the goal the rush of the boats grew fiercer; each foreman,

considering it honor lost, if not a fatal mischance, did he fail to be

first at the turning-point, persisted in driving straight forward—a

madness which the furious yelling of the people on the marker’s deck

intensified. This was exactly what the hamari had foreseen. When the

turn began five of the opposing vessels ran into each other. The boil

and splash of water, breaking of oars, splintering of boatsides; the

infuriate cries, oaths, and blind striving of the rowers, some intent on

getting through at all hazards, some turned combatants, striking or

parrying with their heavy oaken blades; the sound of blows on breaking

heads; plunges into the foaming brine; blood trickling down faces and

necks, and reddening naked arms—such was the catastrophe seen in its

details from the overhanging gunwale of the galley. And while it went

on, the worse than confused mass drifted away from the ship’s side,

leaving a clear space through which, with the first shout heard from him

during the race, the hamari urged his crew, and rounded the goal.

On the far Therapian shore the multitude were silent. They could dimly

see every incident at the turn—the collision, fighting, and manifold

mishaps, and the confounding of the banderoles. Then the Stenia colors

flashed round the galley, with the black behind it a close second.

“Is that the hamari’s boat next the leader?”

Thus the Princess, and upon the answer, she added: “It looks as if the

Holy One might find servants among the irreclaimables in the valley.”

Had the Gypsies at last a partisan?

The two rivals were now clear of the galley. For a time there was but

one cry heard—“Stenia! Stenia!” The five oarsmen of that charming town

had been carefully selected; they were vigorous, skilful, and had a

chief well-balanced in judgment. The race seemed theirs. Suddenly—it

was when the homestretch was about half covered—the black flag rushed

past them.

Then the life went out of the multitude. “St. Peter is dead!” they

cried—“St. Peter is dead! It is nothing to be a Greek now!” and they

hung their heads, refusing to be comforted.

The Gypsies came in first; and amidst the profoundest silence, they

dropped their oars with a triumphant crash on the marble revetment. The

hamari wiped the sweat from his face, and put on his jacket and sandals;

pausing then to toss his purse to the foreman, and say: “Take it in

welcome, my friends. I am content with my share of the victory,” he

stepped ashore. In front of the judge’s stand, he knelt, and said:

“Should there be a dispute touching the prize, O Princess, be a witness

unto thyself. Thine eyes have seen the going and the coming; and if the

world belie thee not—sometimes it can be too friendly—thou art fair,

just and fearless.”

On foot again, his courtierly manner vanished in a twinkling.

“Joqard, Joqard? Where are you?”

Some one answered: “Here he is.”

“Bring him quickly. For Joqard is an example to men—he is honest, and

tells no lies. He has made much money, and allowed me to keep it all,

and spend it on myself. Women are jealous of him, but with reason—he is

lovely enough to have been a love of Solomon’s; his teeth are as pearls

of great price; his lips scarlet as a bride’s; his voice is the voice of

a nightingale singing to the full moon from an acacia tree fronded last

night; in motion, he is now a running wave, now a blossom on a swaying

branch, now a girl dancing before a king—all the graces are his. Yes,

bring me Joqard, and keep the world; without him, it is nothing to me.”

While speaking, from a jacket pocket he brought out the fan Lael had

thrown him from the portico, and used it somewhat ostentatiously to cool

himself. The Princess and her attendants laughed heartily. Sergius,

however, watched the man with a scarcely defined feeling that he had

seen him. But where? And he was serious because he could not answer.

Taking the leading strap, when Joqard was brought, the hamari scrupled

not to give the brute a hearty cuff, whereat the fishermen shook the

sails of the pavilion with laughter; then, standing Joqard up, he placed

one of the huge paws on his arm, and, with the mincing step of a lady’s

page, they disappeared.

CHAPTER XIV

THE PRINCESS HAS A CREED

“I shall ask you, Sergius, to return to the city tonight, for inquiry

about the fete will be lively tomorrow in the holy houses. And if you

have the disposition to defend me”—

“You doubt me, O Princess?”

“No.”

“O little mother, let me once for all be admitted to your confidence,

that in talking to me there may never be a question of my loyalty.”

This, with what follows, was part of a conversation between the Princess

Irene and Sergius of occurrence the evening of the fete in the court

heretofore described, being that to which she retired to read the letter

of introduction brought her by the young monk from Father Hilarion.

From an apartment adjoining, the voices of her attendants were

occasionally heard blent with the monotonous tinkle of water overflowing

the bowls of the fountain. In the shadowy depths of the opening above

the court the stars might have been seen had not a number of lamps

suspended from a silken cord stretched from wall to wall flooded the

marble enclosure with their nearer light.

There was a color, so to speak, in the declaration addressed to her—a

warmth and earnestness—which drew a serious look from the Princess—the

look, in a word, with which a woman admits a fear lest the man speaking

to her may be a lover.

To say of her who habitually discouraged the tender passion, and the

thought of it, that she moved in an atmosphere charged with attractions

irresistible to the other sex sounds strangely: yet it was true; and as

a consequence she had grown miraculously quick with respect to

appearances.

However, she now dismissed the suspicion, and replied:

“I believe you, Sergius, I believe you. The Holy Virgin sees how

completely and gladly.”

She went on presently, a tremulous light in her eyes making him think of

tears. “You call me little mother. There are some who might laugh, did