Basement jaxx where is your head at zippy

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Chapter Four

Under the last rays of the evening sun, the "Flower of Tripoli" ran into the harbor with swollen sails. Twelve cannon shots had already announced to the residents of Benghazi that a rich harvest of Christian slaves had been made. So all the people ran to the beach to gawk and possibly insult the prisoners. Porters, negroes, and other rabble ran up in droves, all exulting, the women with torn rags of veil over their faces, the men half-naked, with bare feet and bare heads.

When the ship dropped anchor, the swarm formed a formal lane through which the whites had to pass.

At that moment Mustapha came with some handcuffed sailors; still others brought the boats to the water. "Hurry up!" Commanded the confidante of Heireddin, "we will have to go several times."

"Where are we being taken?" Inquired Matthias.

“You'll see that soon enough, boy. But stop! The captain wanted to speak to you; soon I would have forgotten. "

"Ali, take the boy to the cabin!"

Matthias followed his guide without hesitation and a minute later stood in front of the gaunt man whom he had so devastated on board the Napoli. Heireddin looked at him searchingly, but with a secret, malicious twinkle in his eyes; he was silent for a long time, and only then did a brief question emerge from his lips.

"Do you want to stay on my ship and live like a free sailor?"

The red of indignation flashed over Matthias' features: "I don't serve on a privateer."

Heireddin smiled treacherously: "So you'd rather be a slave, would you rather be beaten and kicked than serve me?"

"Yes, sir."

“Well, everyone to his liking! - Go! ”Matthias hurried off as fast as he could. With a flaming face he confessed to his friends what Heireddin had offered him.

Mustapha, who was standing nearby, smiled strangely. "Accept the offer with thanks, fellow," he said, "you don't know what's in store for you."

There was a flash of light in Matthias' eyes, but he was silent.

The boats pushed off and headed for the coast, while the unhappy victims were already hooting and whistling from the ranks of the assembled mob. Hundreds of people crowded around the landing area, swear words and threatening words rang across the sea, stones were thrown at the boats until the first helmsman accompanying the corsair ship lost patience and pulled a pistol from his belt. Bringing the gun to the people, he called out: "Leave the stones aside or I'll shoot!"

Before the procession, Mustapha went with gun in hand. The path led through narrow, unpaved streets with low houses to a barrack-like looking low, elongated, very dirty building. Mustapha knocked on a door with the butt of the pistol, from which a thin, old face peeked out.

“It's you, Mustapha! I heard the twelve shots. Has Heireddin once again made good prey? "

Mustapha indicated the long line of prisoners. "As you can see, Tebelin." He pulled a sheet of paper out of the folds of his shark. “Here is the list of prisoners. From that moment on you are responsible for their safety. "

The old man nodded. "It's good," he muttered. “I attach them all to iron rings. By the way, are there any outstanding people among them?

"A ship's captain."

“Well, then he'll have a room for himself. - Just come in, people, come in here! "

The old man let the prisoners in while Mustapha went back to the port. The long building, not unlike a concealed bowling alley, had only a few skylights, but not a single window. It was almost completely dark inside him. A terrible air hit the unfortunate ones, the voices of numerous people and the clink of chains. An eerie room!

Man by man bent down so as not to bump his head on the door frame, Eden breaker and the helmsman in particular; these two were so big that they could hardly stand straight even inside the building. The handcuffs were removed, but each and every one of them, like the animal in the stable, was attached to the wall with a fairly long chain.

Gradually the eye got used to the prevailing darkness, one saw a number of half-naked figures crouching on the straw, depraved, feral apparitions, drunkards, poor sick people and adolescent boys whose faces were already looking at crime.

"What kind of people are they, Beppo?" Asked Edenbrecher.

The sailmaker shook his head. “Suspects of escape,” he replied, “those who occasionally give the overseer a beating or even threaten their master with a knife. You bring them here every evening and just as definitely bring them back to work in the morning. "

"Tebelin!" Called a voice, "Tebelin! Shouldn't there be dinner tonight? "

"Yes, yes," replied the overseer and took a large basket out of a stall. Each prisoner received three small black, very hard and firm loaves of bread and a jug of water. That was all of dinner.

"Just look at the water," said Matthias, holding the jug up to the light. "There are straws and insects swimming in it!"

The sailmaker put a reassuring hand on the boy's arm. "It's for this one night," he said. "We're not coming here again."

Two lamps were on, one at each end; in between everything was in the semi-darkness. Here and there the wretched slept. Hour after hour passed. Rats and mice raised their ever-agile, sniffing snouts from all angles, under the straw and even in the middle of the unsurfaced clay soil of corridors and caves, to peer out for the remains of dinner. Lizards appeared on the walls, small harmless snakes twisted over the rafters of the roof, and legions of insects hummed in the air. It was a terrible night.

The day was getting dark and the sun's rays fell through the open hatches into the disgusting room. The door locks rattled and Tebelin came with the badge of his dignity, the bamboo, to deliver the slaves to their individual masters. Around twenty guards appeared behind him, mostly negroes and mulattos, all with leather whips in their hands. The slaves were patiently chained and led away.

Our friends looked at each other. Nobody spoke, but hearts were deeply shaken.

In the midst of this silence came Tebelin's voice. “You are called, people. Forward!"

In the hall stood an older man with calm, serious features, not only well dressed, but also richly dressed, also a Westerner, a slave like all the others, but not an unhappy man, not one who had to starve or was beaten. You saw that at first sight. It was Nureddin, the caretaker in Omar's palace.

He greeted the prisoners in a friendly manner. "Come with me, folks," he said. "The pasha has ordered you to be brought forward."

Tebelin opened the front door for you, and so everyone went out to meet their destiny.

Tall Heinz pointed furtively at the old building, which was lying there in elegant calm. "Sailmaker," he said, "is Omar's Castle?"

The questioned man choked off a sigh. "Yes, mate, that's it."

“How good of you to be with us, dude. You're not quite as abandoned as - - «

"It was me then."

While these words were being said, Omar-Pasha's messenger had imperceptibly approached the prisoners and touched our friend's shoulder. “Have a word, comrade! Aren't you Matthias Bergfeld? "

"Yes, I am," replied the latter, astonished.

“So let me tell you one thing for your own good: If the Pasha asks you about your nationality, then deny the German, as much as you love life. But if he even asks whether you have ever been to Hamburg, say that you are hearing the name of this city for the first time, otherwise your head will fall into the sand before evening. "

Matthias fell from one astonishment to the other. “But where do you know from now mean Names and my Nationality? There are three other Germans here besides me. "

“It is possible, but fact will matter less with these than with you. Omar-Pasha does not care about every single slave. "

"But why should he take special notice of me?"

“Because Mustapha, Captain Heireddin's confidante, was in the castle and talked to him about you. In the palaces, as you should know, the walls have ears. "

Matthias changed color, he remembered that moment in the Bay of Ualan when he and Eden breaker blew the captain through so thoroughly. Heireddin now wanted to take revenge for this.

“It's good,” he said aloud, “thank you, friend. Now I know everything. "

The slave now stepped at the head of the procession led by six guards to open a gate in the palace wall and then let the prisoners pass by.

High arched windows opened onto a stone balcony adorned with the most precious foliage plants.

"Something's stirring up there," whispered a sailor's voice.

"Then maybe Pasha will come now."

"God be gracious to us!"


The heavy, dark silk porters with the gold tassels parted, and a palace guard came out to slowly descend the stairs. Behind him appeared the tall figure of a man of about forty in a purple silk shark, with a white turban and a richly embroidered belt gleaming with precious stones, on whose tassels the broad sword hung down. A calm look grazed the prisoners and finally stuck to Matthias' face with unmistakable certainty. Looking at him alone, the pasha strode down the steps.

Matthias felt the beats of his heart double. For a moment it seemed to him that everything was swaying about him, and yet he felt no real horror of Omar.

The pasha's eyes did not look like this man was the tiger so many thought he was. It was a face full of deep melancholy that peeked out from under the white turban, a beautiful, noble face, half covered by the beard, perhaps proud and stern, but without any sign of the base and cruel. Matthias therefore resolved not to deceive this man.

"Come here once," commanded Omar.

Matthias stepped forward calmly and resolutely.

"What's your name?"

Matthias said his name. Seconds passed that seemed endless to him.

"You are German?"

"Yes Mr."

"Born where?"

"In Hamburg."

"Ah! You are, it seems, a stubborn, obstinate fellow, "said the Pasha. “Captain Heireddin reported your conduct very unfavorably; you even dared to put your hand on him. "

Now Matthias suddenly looked up. A dark blush covered his face, his eyes shone brighter, but he was silent, so as not to provoke the anger of the dreaded man ahead of time.

"Well?" Asked Omar.

"May I tell you the context of things, Lord?"

"I want to allow you."

“Then let me tell you that Captain Heireddin is lying. One of my comrades and I beat him thoroughly, but that happened on board our ship, not his, and it was an open, honest defensive battle, not a malicious attack. The Napoli crew resisted their capture. Don't you think she was perfectly right about that, sir? "

And the pasha bowed his head in agreement, to the general astonishment. “If this is the case, don't blame you, boy. But what about the second point of the indictment? Captain Heireddin offered you shipping services aboard the Flower of Tripoli, and you refused that offer. Why did that happen? "

"Because my conscience forbids me, the Christian, to be a corsair."

The color on Omar's face changed. "Do you know that I could have your head cut off for your bold words?"

"Yes, sir, I know," it sounded modestly but firmly back.

There was an anxious silence. What now? Matthias's heart pounded violently against the ribs.

"Enough," cried the pasha, turning away. “The prisoners are all to be put up for sale. But this fellow is staying in my house, ”he added, turning to Nurredin.

Before Matthias could recover from his astonishment, Omar had disappeared behind a curtain that the supervisor had lifted in front of him.

Thereupon he turned to Matthias and indicated to follow him. He obeyed, but he was trembling so much with excitement that he almost stumbled.

Nurredin took his arm sympathetically and asked him if he was sick. - No, it wasn't him - but please tell him to do his job right away.

The old man smiled. “It's not that much of a hurry. For the time being I don't know what to do with you. "

They had come to another building. “Look here, your temporary deposit - it seems to me that you are under attack. I will first have you a good breakfast, and then you can sleep in. Was it a terrible night in the Bagno? "

"Terrible," replied Matthias meekly.

“Yes, yes, I know. Look, Muhammad is already bringing some food. Now eat first, my boy. "

At that moment a bell rang; a servant flew up the stairs and came back with orders that the "Prophet" should be saddled and brought before him. As someone rushed over to the stables, the cook and the caretaker looked at each other meaningfully.

"So once again excited," said the former.

Soon afterwards a door creaked up in the house. "He's coming!" Someone whispered.

It became deathly quiet.

With resounding steps the Pasha walked all alone through his dreary house, inhabited by fear and horror, and down the marble stairs into the courtyard. "Prophet!" He cried, "Prophet!"

The beautiful, snow-white Arabian stallion replied with a loud, powerful neigh; he pushed himself up to his master with stormy caresses, and when the latter was sitting in the saddle with a nimble swing, the proud animal threw up its head as if to ask: "Should I show you now what my tendons and my hooves can do? "

A slave handed his master the riding-whip with a gold pommel, several others had already opened the front gate, the guards had stepped aside, and now the racer stormed off at full gallop.

"Where is the Pasha riding?" Asked Matthias.

"Into the desert - he may not return for days."

Thoroughly satisfied, Matthias immediately lay down on the bed assigned to him and sank into a deep sleep.

It might be late afternoon when a noise coming from the street woke him. He jumped up suddenly. Has the pasha come back yet?

Nurredin, the caretaker, reassured him. “Just pull the covers back over your ears, my boy, it's a noise that doesn't bother us. Fuad-Pasha, the commander-in-chief of the militia, is collecting recruits for the upcoming train to the Barka desert, nothing more. "

Matthias jumped up from his bed. "Fuad-Pasha!" - What a flood of memories this name did not awaken. The encounter with the American frigate and Beppo’s stories, everything was clear to his soul again at one stroke.

"I slept completely," he said. "Will you allow me to go out into the street a little?"

"What did you want outside, boy?"

"Nurredin, you're a born German, aren't you?"

»Pst! These are things that cannot be discussed here. I'm the Pasha's caretaker, that's all. "

“Well, you were a German once in the past few days. With this memory, which is also mine, I swear to you not to think of any escape, but to return voluntarily to the castle at any hour of your choosing. "

Nurredin had turned away. "Well," he said after a pause, "run in God's name, boy, I trust you!"

"I just want to do a little research into the fate of my comrades."

“Hmm, they're all sold. Fuad-Pasha had some of them, I believe three or four of them, picked up. "

"And pressed them into soldiers?"

"Yes. The people are drilled for a few days, and then it goes against the rebellious Bedouin tribe in the Barka desert. "

Matthias jumped out into the street with a short farewell greeting. Then he heard noise and screeching screeching from a side street.He ran there and came very close to a house that the soldiers had literally blocked.

A commotion rang out from within, in which every conceivable sound was mingled. Women's voices screeched, dogs barked, furniture was thrown to the floor with a crash; it was a mess like a brawl at the fair.

In the midst of the soldiers, a rider on a large, awkward-looking horse stopped in front of the house, a small, corpulent figure who could be considered the archetype of the well-known Sir John Falstaff. This man wore plump, dark red harem pants and a white, gold embroidered shark. A similar turban was wrapped around his head, and on his bare feet were shoes, which the noble gentleman wore like slippers, a habit which lent the whole appearance something ridiculous.

It was Fuad-Pasha. He personally supervised the raid his soldiers were now carrying out; because a ransom could possibly be offered somewhere by rich parents for the release of their only son.

The pasha heard every scream, saw every struggle and the outcome of every negotiation as he went from door to door, accompanied by a slave train. The grim Falstaff also carried a highly learned palace official with him, a man who could read and write. This person of respect had to enter the final outcome of all monetary affairs in a book, and when the matter had progressed so far, the soldiers took out some member of the family from the houses in question as a living pledge, in order to take it to custody until the agreed sum was paid.

The military moved from street to street. The last rays of the sun had long since sunk, the soldiers had lit torches and gathered around their leader, who had several officers transmit his orders to them. Apparently the hunt for recruits was over; another, perhaps more valuable, game was now to be hunted.

"To the market square!" Commanded a very brightly decorated officer.

There was more drums and blows, the whole train began to move, and the inquisitive people followed it with hoots and noise.

Matthias also ran. Then put a hand on his shoulder. “Matthias! Matthias! «

He turned his head in surprise. “Weber, it's you! Who bought you? "

The ordinary seaman laughed. “Old Mardochai bought me with several others,” he replied, “the jeweler at the market. The rascal deals with people. He also owns a number of negroes, all of which he intends to sell to Algiers, but for the moment, I believe, a line has been thrown in his mind. He is to be looted tonight. "

"But how did you get onto the street?" Asked Matthias.

“By force, of course. The old man couldn't take care of us properly, and so we broke out, but there is already the market square and the jeweler's house. "

The soldiers stopped in front of a one-story building. Everything was dark there, the garden with its blooming pomegranate trees and cactus hedges, the front building and the half-crumbled, irregularly laid out sheds behind it.

Fuad-Pasha's gangs were about to ransack the Jew's house, but they found the entrances tightly locked and well barricaded. It was only after a great deal of effort that the black slaves were able to blow up a gate and finally found a hidden passage in the basement of the building that led to a small wooden door. Rays of light falling through the crevices showed the way.

Weber and Matthias, who had joined the procession in order to protect Mardochai and his family members if possible, penetrated into the dark rooms of the deep.

Strong fists quickly smashed the last weak obstacle to pieces. Soon afterwards the intruders - Weber and Matthias with them - came into a low, albeit richly furnished, room.

Silver and gold sparkled in the glow of the torches, the twitching lights glided over silk women's clothes and rich jewelery, but also over clenched hands and death-pale faces.

In spite of Mardochai's screams, the negroes gathered together whatever precious things could be obtained, and at the same time rough hands grabbed the old man and his son by the throat to strangle them.

The young woman and children screamed. The old man lifted his clasped hands and shouted: "God of my fathers, help us."

A thought flashed through Matthias' brain in a flash. Leaping forward, he held out his hand defensively to the negroes. "Away, away," he cried, "didn't you hear the old man calling on his God?"

The blacks backed away instantly.

"Can his God destroy us?" Cried one.

"He can send his lightning and scorch you to ashes, he can split the earth and pull you into the abyss."

A piercing scream came from the blacks' lips. They pushed back and let their hands off the robber. Their horror ran through the ranks of looters and raiders as far as the front house, it found an echo among the troops and drove everyone out into the street, where the pasha stopped on his big horse and was just expected to be brought to him the old Mardochai and his cruelty will be handed down.

“The God of the Jews! He called him! - Running! Running!"

And like a flock of sparrows when the hawk appears, everything fell apart.

Inside Matthias laughed in spite of all the excitement that dominated him; he and Weber looked at each other.

"Oh, if only we could get to a ship!" Said Mardochai's son.

“I think it's possible. Weber, do you want to go ahead? "

"Certainly. Just give me a torch! "

"A lamp is burning in the corridor," interjected the old man's son. "I'll take you to the court, sir."

The ordinary seaman followed the slender young man through a second room that seemed to serve as a store for truly princely riches. Precious metals, velvet and silk, precious vessels, weapons and precious stones, everything stood and lay in boxes and boxes on the walls.

Weber thought he was dreaming. "Why is all this hidden, as if trading honestly was a crime?" He asked.

The goldsmith smiled sadly. “Because you're still a stranger here in the country, sir; Otherwise you would know that everything belongs to the government, life as well as the property of its subjects, and that therefore the individual hides his belongings in order not to have to give them up. "

"Lord, you are exaggerating!"

"Inquire wherever you like and you will find my words confirmed."

"Here is the door to the big shed," added the old man.

Matthias and Weber hurried to release those waiting in the subterranean state chamber and to lead them out. The trembling children snuggled close to their mother, Mardochai staggered from weakness, although his son and Matthias supported him lovingly. When the free night air blew around his forehead, he breathed deeply. "God be praised - now at least life is saved!"

Then he looked carefully into Weber's eye. “I must know you, friend! Where did I meet your young countenance? "

Weber smiled. “You bought me from the government this morning, sir. I am your slave."

The jeweler was frightened. “And yet you threw yourself at the angry ones, my son, but did you dare your own life to save mine? - See, friend, your noble deed causes me to take the sacred oath never to buy or sell slaves again! And as for you, you are free from this hour. My business partner, Muley ben Abdallah, should issue you the charter tomorrow. "

Then the old man turned to Matthias. “I want to buy you out too, young man. Much of my fortune was lost that night, but not all of it. I'm going to Alexandria for the time being, but you should hear from me soon. God bless you both! - And now, "he added," let's go. Two boats lie on the bank, destined to pick up a cargo of black men and bring them on board a ship going to Alexandria. Instead of them comes the robbed and expelled master himself. "

The short distance was covered quickly, then the boats on the beach took the little family in without disturbance, and after saying goodbye to the rescued, Weber and Matthias stood alone on the road. Weber went to an inn because he did not want to go to the Pasha's palace. Matthias, on the other hand, hurried back to Nurredin.

"Omar is here again," the latter whispered to him. "He's got his bad day today."

From the upper rooms of the palace a bell rang so hastily as if an angry hand had grasped the rope and shook it in wild excitement. Nurredin started. "That's the signal for me," he whispered. “Go up two flights of stairs, boy, then left into the first room! There you lie down on your bed and try to sleep! "

Matthias choked a sigh. "I will obey, Nurredin." The bell rang a second time, louder and more shrill than before - perhaps the pasha couldn't bear to have to wait so long for his slave to fly up the stairs.

Matthias felt his way laboriously through various dark corridors. The location of the palace was completely unknown to him, and the light coming in from outside was very sparse. He followed the instructions of the caretaker exactly and climbed a wide marble staircase without a sound.

Then it sounded like a groan through the darkness, a curtain was violently pulled aside, and a shadow slipped past. "God, my God, you left me!"

As if frozen, Matthias stopped. That was Omar's voice. The Pasha stood right in front of him and clasped both hands over his face. “God,” he whispered again, “what did I do to you? A thousand others are worse than me. Was it precisely my mistake that was unforgivable sin? "

His hands were shaking. After a while he entwined them tightly. The ruler did not seem shy of anything that was going on around him. Suddenly he collapsed as if broken and muttered, "Lost! Lost! Everything is gone. "

This was the right moment for Matthias to escape from Omar's dangerous proximity. He cautiously slipped into a nearby room, the thick carpets of which drowned out any sound. There was no light here either, while a large, open room was illuminated by four lamps and shone as if in full daylight. Here he hid behind a high-backed divan and now saw everything that was going on around him without being seen himself.

Immediately the curtain parted and Omar appeared on the threshold. He groaned like a sick man, his eyes studying every object. He stretched out his arms as if he were consuming the greatest impatience.

Matthias hardly dared to breathe. With wide open eyes he looked at the mighty man. What could the next few minutes bring?

The curtain opened again and Hamid, his slave, entered. Omar walked quickly into the second, inner room and threw himself on the divan. "Come here," he ordered.

Hamid obeyed. "You are sick, sir," said he. "Should I call the doctor?"

Then Omar-Pasha's anger grew into a frenzy. He took the sword with the glittering diamonds on the handle from one corner and smashed one of the lamps with it so that a rain of broken glass fell on the carpet, then he turned to the second and struck a strong blow here too. All reflection was gone, all deliberation shackled.

"Mr! Shouted Hamid in a strong voice, "you are wicked!"

A sick laugh answered him. A dull, indistinct noise went through the room, a crackling and cracking sound as if from tearing silk, then a roar, a fall - - followed by a deathly silence.

Matthias heard the beating of his own heart. Was the pasha just passed out, or had the frenzy brought him to death?

Hamid lit a wax candle with which he illuminated the picture of destruction in all directions. He was about to go back to the adjoining room when Matthias quickly made up his mind and lifted his head. Hamid wouldn't betray him, he knew that.

Two pale faces looked at each other. The old man was so startled that he started, then his gaze flew over to the impotent master, and when he saw him still lying on the ground in the same immobility, he wordlessly motioned the boy to rise from his hiding place. At the same time he vigorously pressed a button in the wall. Nurredin appeared after a few seconds. He took our friend's arm. "Hurry, for God's sake, hurry!" He cried, pale with terror, and led him out.

"How did you get into the pasha's room, boy?" Asked Nurredin. "I can not believe it."

"Didn't you tell me: go up two flights of stairs!" He replied. "I did it, or at least wanted to, but -"

“You're going in the wrong direction. The main thing is that Omar didn't see you, or you wouldn't be alive now. "

“My God, how he raged and gasped with frenzy. Does our master have such attacks often? "

“Very rarely, and always only when German slaves are brought in. Heaven knows what challenges him every time. "

"And will this attack return as soon as the Lord recovers?"

“No, on the contrary. The gentleman is then as tame as a lamb, does not speak a word and stays in his room. Only Hamid is then allowed to see him. «- - -

The next morning the Pasha had Matthias lead to him by Nurredin. Omar was playing with a knife lying on the table in front of him. "Where were you last night?" He asked after a pause.

"I watched the recruiting and later the tumult in front of the Jew Mardochai's house."

Omar furrowed his eyebrows: "So you hear, because you are leaving the palace without my orders, you are to be rented out to work in the fields," he cried, trembling with anger. “Right at this hour and to a strict gentleman, cheap or half free, so that the matter is not delayed. In the evening you will be admitted here closed, and you, "he turned to Nurredin," are responsible for him with your head. "

The caretaker bowed in silence and pulled the boy out of the room.

“You unfortunate one,” Nurredin sighed, “but keep your head up, boy. With Omar-Pascha the mood changes like the weather in April; maybe he'll call you back tomorrow. "

Matthias only answered with a look. He felt sick and was beginning to lapse into a kind of stupor. They went as far as the last houses in the city, where rich fruit gardens stretched far and wide. A number of slaves were busy harvesting here, and Matthias was supposed to join these people.

"Take the basket there and start picking the prickly pears!"

That was an easy task, and our friend immediately slipped the first of the ripe, cooling fruits into his mouth unnoticed, while the black overseer looked for a shady spot where he soon fell asleep. The slaves busy among the hedges all saw it.

From right and left they approached the new companion in suffering with friendly greetings.

“Cetti! You here? - Oh, and there is Beppo! - Thank God, Beppo! Have you got a bearable master? "

"Quite tolerable," nodded the sailmaker. “Cetti and I pick figs. It's not difficult, and besides, the overseer drinks so much brandy that he mostly sleeps. "

Matthias reported his experiences, and during this time his basket gradually filled with fruit. Each comrade put a few handfuls into it, so that it looked as if the new worker had been picking busily and without looking up.

"I'll collect for you, my boy," said the sailmaker. "You're sick, lie down on the mats and sleep!"

"Yes, yes," confirmed other voices. "Just sleep, poor fellow, just sleep!"

Matthias shuddered. Despite the hot day he was cold, he stretched himself on a pile of bast mats in the shade of a palm tree and closed his eyes after Beppo had carefully covered him.

After a few hours he woke up only slightly strengthened, but more comfortable. His comrades had worked for him, his baskets were filled to the brim, and the black nodded with satisfaction.

He took a pair of handcuffs from a wooden box and put them on the boy. Beppo, who had the order to deliver Matthias to Omar's palace guard, walked slowly with him through the wonderful evening. They didn't talk much, but hearts understood each other, and the handshake they exchanged when they parted told them everything.

So the first day of slavery had passed, and others followed.Matthias secretly received good food from Nurredin's hands, was by no means overloaded with work and could sleep as often as the negro lay drunk in the corner; but nevertheless a deep despondency tore at his soul. It was terrible to be led to the workplace like a wild animal on a chain in the morning and in the evening and there to collect figs or to sort out the plucked ones. When that harvest was over, corn had to be brought into the barns or worked the land, split wood, and brought in water. A daunting prospect.

Eight days had passed since the beginning of this period of horror, then one day Nurredin came up to him, shaking his head, and looked at him for a long time. “I have bad news to report to you, Matthias. Are you strong enough to listen to them? "

"Certainly, certainly!"

“Poor Weber was picked up by the militia and taken to the barracks. When he wanted to fetch the charter from Muley Abdallah that had been given to him, it was said that Mardochai could not issue one at all because he owed large sums of money to the government, and so our young compatriot was assigned to Fuad-Pasha's department without further ado. Now he's many miles from here, riding against the Bedouins. - But sleep now, because you are weak and sick. "

Matthias sighed.

“You shouldn't be sick much longer. At midnight I will send the cook Muhammad to you. He is a sensible man, he should lead you to the Beni Aisauri, who will heal you and, packed in baskets, will carry your illness to their temple in the Barka desert. "

"Who are the Beni Aisauri?"

"Wise men who help the sick - but now don't ask any more, sleep and know that I always want your best."

Matthias closed his eyes obediently. Late at night he really felt awakened by a bearded man who identified himself as the cook Muhammad and asked Matthias to follow him.

Matthias got up. Both left the palace through a hidden garden gate and wandered outside the city, where the Beni Aisauri monks lived and, when the moon was shining, received the orders of many sick people to carry their ailments, packed in baskets, out into the desert for money and good words . The cook also paid the necessary tribute for Matthias and then returned to the city with his protégé, who of course felt more amused than he believed he had received help in this way.

When they came back into the garden, they were terrified. The foot stopped. Omar sat close to the gate on a thank you. Should they flee, they should linger. But before she could come to a decision, the Pasha's word struck her ear. "Remains! - I'm not angry! Where are you from?"

Despite the friendly words, the cook trembled in every limb. Throwing himself to the ground, he stammered. “Grace, Lord! I ... we ... the Beni Aisauri ... the boy here ... "

"Is he sick?" Asked the pasha with a long look at Matthias. “Then I understand. You have packed his suffering in the baskets of the red coats. There is nothing wrong with that. Go ... "

Muhammad jumped up. Matthias also wanted to leave.

"Stop!" Commanded Omar. “The boy stays. He's supposed to answer a few questions. 'When the cook had hurried off, Omar looked for a long time into the boy's emaciated face. “Sit on the stone bench here next to me. - Are you sick, my son? "

"Hamid said it was a creeping fever, sir!"

"Why wasn't I given any information about it?"

"I don't know, sir."

“But I the better. You have certainly been portrayed as a brutal, ruthless person, a devil who regards cruelty as amusement. Isn't that so? "

“They just told me you hate the Germans. Then nothing."

"Servants laundry." Then after a pause Omar said suddenly. "Do you have a wish? Could I grant you a request? "

"O Lord" - it lit up in Matthias' eyes. "I'm under a heavy burden."


At this word the boy began to tell of his dead father's guilt for Ferrati. “He screams at the loss he has suffered and insults the dead man in the grave. To pay off the debt, I went to sea. That has now become impossible. But if you, Lord, would shape me to live like a free worker, then maybe I could achieve my goal again after all. "

Matthias hardly knew whether the pasha understood him. He looked ahead of himself in silence.

"Today is my birthday," he said suddenly, skipping over to a completely different topic. "Do you want to grant me a wish, Matthias?"

"If it is in my power, of course!"

The pasha turned away and looked out into the moonlit landscape. "Then wish me luck, child - but in your German mother tongue."

Matthias was, he didn't know how. "May you find peace for your soul," he said simply, "may your heart become calm."

It went through the Pasha's body like a twitch. He bowed his head low. When he looked up again, he said: “You will stay with me in the castle from now on, Matthias. You get clothes like the ones I wear, a room next to mine; you will eat with me and consider my library yours. Tomorrow the doctor is supposed to come and examine you. "

Omar went down the stairs and through a second vaulted hall back into the castle, followed by the boy who thought he was almost dreaming. Was that the same man who had a reputation for abusing Christian slaves or even sending them to their death, with or without a cause?

Now we went up the wide marble staircase, into the room with the divan, behind which Matthias sought and found shelter. Two chimes called for the caretaker, and when he came, Omar gave him the order to find a bed and the necessary clothes.

“White shark, isn't it, Matthias? The rest of it brown or dark blue. And now, good night. The doctor is coming tomorrow. "

A gesture gave the dismissal, but Nurredin was speechless with amazement. "Can the boy do a witch?" He thought.

That night the boy's fever was very severe, so that the next morning the doctor found him pale as a sheet. The scholar asked about this and that, explaining that the young gentleman only needed rest, fresh air, good care, and adequate exercise in the open air. “Can you ride, sir? - I would recommend that to you most. "

Horse riding! Matthias answered in the affirmative.

Omar seemed very pleased. "That's pretty," he said. "Today the stable master is supposed to choose a very pious, well-ridden animal for you."

And then, after the doctor had gone, the Pasha handed Matthias a small embroidered purse, from the mesh of which shimmered gold gleamed.

"For any expenses," he said. “My treasurer is instructed to continue to give you what you wish. You are also allowed to move freely; but I have a request. Do not evade me by fleeing. Incidentally, the Spanish missionaries still receive the money for the old curmudgeon Ferrati, the pious brothers have connections everywhere. It will be easy for them to withdraw the amount for you. The treasurer is still going to the monastery today. "

Omar smiled and refused any thanks from the happy boy. “It's okay, you'd better come along to see the horses. Later I will give you riding lessons regularly. "

The stable-master was called and after that day regular classes began. Matthias drank fine wines, got a roast chicken for breakfast and a beef steak for lunch, he studied foreign languages ​​and, like the Pasha himself, was never idle, but he did not need to do any work in the ordinary sense of the word and was kept in all pieces like a son of the house.

“You see,” said the cook with a dignified nod of his head, “the Beni Aisauri really carried your illness away in their baskets. You look fresh and happy and you can eat for three. "

Matthias laughed in amusement. He rode out every day with the Pasha and, to his own astonishment, found that the man he had hated so energetically was now becoming more dear to him as he became acquainted. Omar was a deeply unhappy person, he had long since recognized that.

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