Gregorio by Percy Hemingway

I—AT THE PARADISO

The Cafe Paradiso was full of people, for the inhabitants of Alexandria had dined, and the opera season was over. The seats at every table were occupied, and the fumes of smoke from a hundred cigars partly hid the ladies of the orchestra. As the waiters pushed aside the swing-doors of the buffet and staggered into the salon with whisky, absinthe, and coffee, the click of billiard-balls was heard. The windows facing the sea were wide open, for the heat was intense, and the murmur of the waves mingled with the plaintive voices of the violins.

Seated by a table at the far end of the hall, Gregorio Livadas hummed softly an accompaniment to Suppe's "Poete et Paysan," puffing from time to time a cloudlet of blue smoke from his mouth. When the music ceased he joined in the applause, leaning back happily in his chair as the musicians prepared to repeat the last movement. Meanwhile his eyes wandered idly over the faces of his neighbors.

When the last chord was struck he saw the women hurry down from the platform and rush toward the tables where their acquaintances sat. He heard them demand beer and coffee, and they drank eagerly, for fiddling in that heat was thirsty work. He watched the weary waiters hastening from table to table, and he heard the voices around him grow more animated and the laughter more frequent. One man was fastening a spray of flowers on the ample bosom of the flautiste, while another sipped the brown lager from the glass of the big drum, and the old wife of the conductor left her triangle and cymbals to beg some roses from an Arab flower-girl. Truly the world was enjoying itself, and Gregorio smiled dreamily, for the sight of so much gaiety pleased him. He wished one of the women would come and talk to him; he would have liked to chat with the fair-haired girl who played the first violin so well. He began to wonder why she preferred that ugly Englishman with his red face and bald head. He caught snatches of their conversation. Bah! how uninteresting it was! for they could barely understand each other. What pleasure did she find in listening to his bad French? and in her native Hungarian he could not even say, "I love." Why had she not come to him, Gregorio Livadas, who could talk to her well and would not mumble like an idiot and look red and uncomfortable! Then he saw she was drinking champagne, and he sighed. Ah, yes, these English were rich, and women only cared for money; they were unable to give up their luxuries for the sake of a man.

But at this thought Gregorio blushed a little. After all, there was one woman—the only woman he ought to think of—who was not afraid of hardship for the sake of her husband. He tried to excuse himself by arguing that the music had excited him; but he felt a little ashamed, and as a sop to his not yet quite murdered conscience got up and left the cafe.

When he turned into the Place Mehemet Ali he remembered suddenly that he had wasted his evening. It was ten o'clock, too late to set about the business he had intended. He was angry with himself now as well as ashamed. He wandered up and down the square, looking at the statue of the great khedive, silhouetted against the moonlight, and cursed at his misfortunes.

Why should he, Gregorio Livadas, be in need of money? He had worked hard, but without success. He could have borne his ill luck had he alone been the sufferer, but he must consider his child—and, of course, his wife too. He was really fond of his wife in a way. But he smiled proudly as he thought of his son, for whom he schemed out a great future. He and Xantippe would train the boy so carefully that he would grow up to be a great man, and, what was more, a rich man. How they would laugh, all three, as they sat in the splendid cafes over their wine, at the hardships the father had endured! Still he must not forget the present, and he sorely needed money. He would go to Amos again. Amos was a rich man, very rich, and a filthy Jew. Amos could easily spare him some money and renew the last loan. He was going to be successful now and would be able to pay good interest. What better investment could Amos have? Surely none. He was going to set up a cafe with the money at Tanta, or Zagazig, or even Benhur,—yes, Benhur was the best,—where there were few competitors. Then he would make a fortune, as other Greeks had done, and Amos would be paid in full. He was not extravagant, no; he had the business instincts of his race. Half these rich merchants of Alexandria had begun as he would begin; he would succeed as they had succeeded. The future was really hopeful, if he could only borrow a little capital.

With these thoughts surging through his brain Gregorio paced up and down the pavements. At last he turned into the Rue des Soeurs and started slowly toward his home.

This street, the sink of Alexandria, was at its gayest. The cafes where cheap liquor is sold were crowded. Soldiers and sailors, natives and the riffraff of half a dozen nations, jostled one another. The twanging of guitars and the tinkling of pianos was heard from every house. Women, underclothed and overpainted, leaned from the upper windows and made frequent sallies into the street to capture their prey. Loud voices sang lusty English choruses and French chansonnettes, and Neapolitan songs tried to assert themselves whenever the uproar ceased for a moment. Every one talked his, or her, own tongue, and gesture filled in the gaps when words were wanting. All seemed determined to degrade themselves as much as possible, and nearly every one seemed supremely happy.

Occasionally there was a fight, and knives were used with unerring skill; but the mounted police who patrolled the streets, though overtaxed, managed to preserve a certain amount of order.

Gregorio took very little notice of the scenes through which he passed. He knew every inch and corner of the quarter that had been his home for years, and was familiar with most of its inhabitants. He sighed a little as he thought of the money being lost and won in the stuffy ill-lighted rooms at the back of the houses, shut out from view of the authorities. Like most of his race, he was fond of the excitement of gambling. But of what use were regrets and sighs? he had no money, and must needs go home. It was vain to try and borrow or to ask credit for his losses; in these gambling hells what is lost must be immediately paid, for tempers are inflamed by drink and knives are worn at each player's belt.

But he sighed, none the less, at the hard necessity that compelled him to pass down the street without once entering the doors of a tavern. It was very hot, and he had smoked many cigarettes. He would have been glad to call for a drink. The tavern-keepers, though they were his friends, expected to be paid. One or two women beckoned to him, who would have willingly offered him wine, but he was proud enough to ignore them.

He became more moody and dejected as he went along, silent and sober amid so much revelry. When he reached his house he saw a drunken man lying on the threshold asleep. He stooped to look into his face and recognised an Englishman, the foreman of some tramp in the harbour. He kicked the recumbent form testily as he strode over it.

"These English, what beasts they are!" he growled, "and I—I have not a piastre for a single glass of wine."





II—CONCERNING A DEBT

Gregorio found, on entering his house, that his wife was already in bed. He went into the tiny kitchen and saw a plate of macaroni ready for his supper. He tried to eat some, but it stuck in his throat. He took a bottle of cheap Cretan wine from a shelf and drank from it; but the wine was sour, and he spat it from his mouth with a curse.

Taking up the lamp, he went into the bedroom. His wife was fast asleep with the boy in her arms. For a moment a smile flickered round Gregorio's mouth as he looked at them. Then he took off his boots and his coat, blew out the lamp, and lay beside them. He was very tired after his long tramp in the hot streets, but he could not sleep. Angrily he tossed from side to side and closed his eyes tightly; but it was no good, sleep would not come.

At midnight he heard a call to prayer chanted from the minaret of a tiny mosque in the neighbourhood. The muezzin's voice irritated him. He did not wish to pray, and he did want to sleep. He swore that it was insanity for these fools of Mohammedans to declare that prayer was better than sleep.

Then the thoughts that had agitated him during the walk returned to him. The Rue des Soeurs was still noisy with merry-makers, and it seemed to him that if he could only join them he would be happy. But he had no money, and one can do nothing without money!

Then there came back to him the face of the Englishman he had seen talking to the violinist of the Paradiso. He hated the man because he was ugly and rich. These English were all rich, and yet they seemed to him a miserable race, mere ignorant bullies. He remembered how often he had come to the help of the English travellers who filled Egypt. Why had he, he asked himself, for the sake of a miserable reward, prevented them being cheated, when he, with all his talents, was condemned to starve? Even his child, he thought, would grow to hate him if he remained poor. He must get money. Amos would have to lend him some. The Jews were unpopular among the Greeks; it were wise to keep on good terms with them, as Amos would find out.

At last he fell asleep.

In the morning his troubles began again. There was no coffee, and only a little Arab bread, and when that was done they must starve if they could not get some money. Gregorio tore off a bit of bread and ate it slowly, looking at his wife, who sat weeping beside him.

"I shall go to Amos," he said, firmly.

"Ah, yes, to Amos," Xantippe answered quietly; "but it will be no good."

"Why no good?"

"Because you owe him money, and he will give you no more till he is paid."

"But we cannot pay him. He must let us have some. If not—" and Gregorio raised threatening.

His wife smiled sadly and kissed him.

"You will not frighten Amos, my love. When I told him the child had been ill, he only laughed."

"When was that?"

"Yesterday."

"Then he had been here?"

"He came last night to ask for his money. I told him we had none, and he laughed and said we must get some. He told me I might get some if I cared to. He said I could make, oh, so much!"

Gregorio scowled savagely. "The filthy Jew! he said that? Never, never, never!"

"But we must get some money," the woman sobbed, "if only for our son's sake, Gregorio. But not that way?"

"No, not that way," he replied, savagely.

"When shall you go to him?"

"Now."

And taking up his hat he rushed into the street. He was terribly angry, not so much at the purport of the Jew's speech as at the man who made it. He loathed the Jews, and felt insulted when spoken to by one; it was a terrible matter to ask this man for help, but it was intolerable that his wife should suffer insult. And yet the child must be fed. Yes, she had said that, and it was true. They must make sacrifices for the child.

He soon reached the Jew's house, and was shown by a richly clad servant into the room where Amos sat. Amos was an old man, tall and strong, with a long bushy beard, in which his fingers continually played; and his eyes were sharp and brilliant and restless, a strange contrast to his stately bearing and measured movements. He rose from his cushions as Gregorio entered, and saluted him courteously, motioning him to a seat. Then, having resettled himself, he clapped his hands together smartly and ordered the servant who answered the summons to bring in coffee and pipes.

Gregorio was rather overawed at the luxury he saw around him, and he felt the stern-looking, polite old man would be a difficult person to deal with. As he puffed at his tube he considered carefully what words he should use.

For some time neither spoke, but Amos was the first to break the silence.

"You heard I was at your house last night, and so have come to pay me?"

"Yes, I heard you were at my house and that you wanted to be paid. You are a rich man, and I am poor."

"Nay, I am not rich; they lie who say I am rich."

"It is twenty pounds I owe you, is it not?"

"Yes, twenty pounds. It is a large sum, and I have dealt generously with you. I am now in need of it myself."

"I am a poor man."

"You have not the money, eh, my friend?"

"I have not the money. But I will pay you if you will lend me some more. I shall be successful now; only twenty pounds more."

Amos appeared unmoved at the tremor in Gregorio's voice. His eyes rested coldly on the face of his client, while the unfortunate Greek continued to speak rapidly of his troubles and hopes. He smiled sarcastically as Gregorio spoke of the certainty of making his fortune at Benhur, and remained quite unmoved at the story of the sufferings of a woman and child from hunger and want.

"Your wife is beautiful," was all he answered when Gregorio paused for a moment. At these words, however, he half rose from his place and clinched his hands savagely. But he sank back again with the remembrance that a show of temper would not advance his cause.

"Very beautiful," he answered, chokingly; "would you see her starve?"

"She is not my wife," said Amos, quietly. Then he continued slowly, pausing at intervals to puff out a cloud of smoke from his mouth:

"You have owed me this money a long time. I want it, and I will have it. Even in Egypt there is law. You do not like us Jews, but the law will protect me as long as I am rich enough to buy justice. In three days you will pay me this money. I have been generous to you; now I will be generous no longer. If I am not paid I will take measures to recover my loss. You will sleep in the streets like the Arabs, my friend; but the weather is warm. It is early summer, so you will scarcely feel the exposure. In three days you will come and pay me."

"But how am I to get the money? If you would lend me only a few pounds I would repay you all I owe."

"Already you owe me more than you can pay. You can make money. You are married. These Christian women are worse than the Arabs; do I not see them as I come home in the evening from my business? It is not right to borrow and not repay. I need my money. How can I have my coffee and my pipe unless I have money?"

Gregorio listened with growing anger, and finally rose from his seat and shook his fist in the old man's face.

"You shall be paid," he shouted, "you shall be paid!"

"Anger is useless, my friend."

And as Gregorio left the house Amos smiled and stroked his beard. "Truly," he thought, "these Christians hate us, but we have them in our power. It is pleasant to be hated and yet to know that it is to us they must cringe when they are in need; and it is very pleasant to refuse. My friend Gregorio is not happy now that he is struggling in my grasp."

As for Gregorio, he wandered away toward the harbour, kicking savagely at the refuse scattered along the pavement. He did not know how to set about earning the requisite sum. It was no good applying to the hotels or tourist agencies, for there were few visitors in the city and dragomen were therefore not needed.

His friends were too poor to help him, and the consul was unable to do much for him, there were so many poor Greeks who wanted help. Meanwhile there was no food at home and no drink; even the necessaries of life were lacking.

On arriving at his home he found his wife and child huddled in a corner crying for food. They ran toward him as he entered, but the hope in their faces quickly faded at the sight of him.

"It's no good," Gregorio growled; "Amos refuses to advance a piastre and says I must pay all I owe in three days."

"It is impossible to sleep when one is hungry," said Gregorio that night to his wife, who lay awake, weeping, beside him.





III—OF FAILURE AND A RESOLVE

Gregorio's dreams, when he did sleep, were none of the pleasantest, and when he woke up, from time to time, he heard his wife weeping. In wondering what he should say to comfort her he fell asleep again, and sleeping was worse than lying awake. For in his dreams he saw Xantippe and his child starving and crying for food, and he was unable to help them in any way. He lived over again the long day he had spent tramping the streets of Alexandria searching for work. He saw the few tourists still left in the town fat and happy; he saw the porters of the hotels who had smiled on him pityingly and yet contemptuously; and he woke, after each representation of the crude comedy, hot and yet cold with perspiration, to feel the bed on which he lay shaking under the sobs of his wife.

When at last day dawned Gregorio raised himself with an oath, and swore to find food for his family and work for himself. The terrible debt he owed to Amos he swore should not trouble him, laughing at his wife's remonstrances. With the bright daylight had come a new courage, and, hungry as he was, he felt able not only to satisfy their hunger, but so skilfully to arrange matters that they would never feel hungry again. Yet is was a terrible ordeal, that half-hour when the family should have sat down to a table laden with food. The poor wife cried, and he had to comfort her tears with promises, unsubstantial nutriment indeed, and they could not satisfy the child, who failed dismally to understand them. Through the green blinds came the noise of life and health and merriment; curses too, sometimes, but only the curses of the well fed, and therefore meaningless. Already the sun fell hot and indomitable on the room, and the atmosphere at their touch became stifling. Gregorio, swallowing his tears, tore out into the street, shouting up the narrow stairway hysterical words of hope.

How long and shadowless the street seemed! Every house had its green blinds closely shut; the wind that stirred the dust of the pavements was hot and biting. Gregorio clinched his hands and strode rapidly onward. What mattered it to him that behind those green blinds women and men slumbered in comparative comfort? He had a work to do, and by sunset must carry good tidings to his little world. For a time his heart was brave as the dry wind scorched the tear upon his cheek. "Surely," he thought, weaving his thoughts into a fine marching rhythm, "the great God will help me now, will help me now."

At midday, after he had tried, with that strange Greek pertinacity that understands no refusals, all the hotels and tourist agencies he had called at the day before, he became weary and disconsolate. The march had become a dirge; no longer it suggested happiness to be, but failure. An Englishman threw him a piastre, and he turned into a cafe. Calling for a glass of wine, he flung himself down on the wooden bench and tried to think. But really logical thinking was impossible. For in spite of the sorrow at his heart, the same bright dreams of wealth and happiness came back to mock him. The piastre he played with became gold, and he felt the cafe contained no luxuries that he might not command to be brought before him. But as the effects of the red wine of Lebanon evaporated he began to take a soberer though still cheerful view of his position. It was only when the waiter carried off his piastre that he suddenly woke to fact and knew himself once more a man with a wife and child starving in Alexandria, an alien city for all its wealthy colony of Greeks. A wave of pity swept over him; not so much for the woman was he sorry, though he loved her too, but for the baby whose future he had planned. He scowled savagely at the inmates of the cafe, who only smiled quietly, for they were used to poor Greeks who had drunk away their last coin, and pushed past them into the street.

There it was hotter than ever, and he met scarcely any one. Every one who could be was at home, or in the cool cafes; only Gregorio was abroad. He determined to make for the quay. He knew that many ships put into the Alexandrian waters, and there was often employment found for those not too proud to work at lading and unloading. Quickly, and burning as the kempsin, he hurried through the Rue des Soeurs, not daring to look up at the house wherein he dwelt. The muffled sounds of voices and guitars from the far-away interiors seemed to mock his footsteps as he passed the wine-shops; and all the other houses were silent and asleep. At last he arrived on the quay, and the black lines of the P. and O. stood out firmly before him against the pitiless blue of sea and sky. He wandered over the hot stone causeway, but found no one. The revenue officers were away, and not a labourer, not a sailor, was visible. Beyond the breakwater little tufts of silvery foam flashed on the rollers, and a solitary steamer steered steadily for the horizon. He could see the Greek flag at her stern, and his eyes filled with tears. Ah, how little his friends in Athens thought of the man who had come to find fame and fortune in the far-off East! He sat down on the parapet and watched the vessel until she became a tiny speck on the horizon, and then he recommenced his search for work. His heart was braver for a moment because of its pangs; he swore he would show these countrymen of his who dwelt at home, and who in three days would see the very ship he had been gazing at arrive in Grecian waters, that he was worthy of his country and his kinsfolk.

But resolutions were useless, tenacity of purpose was useless. For two long hours he wandered by the harbour, but met no one.

At last the sun fell behind the western waves, and the windows of the khedive's palace glowed like a hundred flaming eyes; the flags fell from the masts of the vessels; on the city side was a sudden silence, save for the melancholy voices of the muezzins; then the day died; the bright stars, suddenly piercing the heavens, mocked him with their brilliance and told him that his useless search for bread was over.

Gregorio went back slowly to his home. Already the Rue des Soeurs was crowded. The long street rang with music and laughter, and instead of blinds covering the windows merry women leaned upon the sills and laughed at the crowds below.

Gregorio, when he reached his house, would have liked to go straight to bed. But it was not to be, for as he entered the tiny room he heard his wife trying to persuade the hungry infant into sleep, and his footsteps disturbed her tears. He had to calm them as best he could, and as he soothed her he noticed the child had a crust in his hand which he gnawed half contentedly. At the same moment the dim blue figure of an Arab passed by the opposite wall, and had almost gained the door ere Gregorio found words.

"Who are you?"

"It is Ahmed," his wife answered, gently, placing her trembling hand upon his shoulder; "he too has children."

Gregorio scowled and muttered, "An Arab," and in that murmur none of the loathing was hidden that the pseudo-West bears for the East.

"The child is starving," said Ahmed. "I have saved the child; maybe some day I shall save the father." And Ahmed slipped away before Gregorio could answer him.

For a while neither he nor his wife spoke; they stood silent in the moonlight. At last Gregorio asked huskily, "Have you had food?"

"Not to-day," was the answer; and the sweet voice was almost discordant in its pathos as it continued, "nor drink, and but for Ahmed the boy had died."

Gregorio could not answer; there was a lump in his throat that blocked words, opening the gate for sobs. But he choked down his emotion with an effort and busied himself about the room. Xantippe sat watching him anxiously, smoothly with nervous fingers the covering of her son's bed.

As the night advanced the heat increased, and all that disturbed the silence of the room was the echo of the streets. Gregorio walked to the window and looked out. Below him he saw the jostling crowd of men and women. These people, he thought, were happy, and two miserables only dwelt in the city—his wife and himself. And whenever he asked himself what was the cause of his misery, the answer was ever the same—poverty. He glanced at his son, tossing uneasily in his bed; he looked at his wife, pale and haggard in the moonlight; he remembered his own sufferings all day long in the hot cruel streets, and he spoke unsteadily:

"Xantippe?"

"Yes."

"I have thought over things."

"And I too."

"We are starving,—you are starving, and I am starving,—and all day long I tramp these cursed streets, but gain nothing. So it will go on, day in, day out. Not only we ourselves, but our son too must die. We must save him."

"Yes," said Xantippe, quietly, repeating her husband's words as she kissed the forehead of her child, "we must save him."

"There is only one way."

"Only one way," repeated Xantippe, dreamily. There was a pause, and then, as though the words had grown to have a meaning to her that she could not fathom, she queried, "What way, Gregorio?"

"That," he said, roughly, as he caught her by the wrist, and, dragging her to the window, pointed to the women in the street beneath.

Xantippe hid her face on her husband's breast and cried softly, while she murmured, "No, no; I will never consent."

"Then the child will die," answered the Greek, curtly, flinging her from him.

And the poor woman cast herself upon the bed beside her boy, and when her tears ceased for a moment stammered, "When?"

"To-morrow," was the answer, cruel and peremptory. And as Gregorio closed the lattice, shutting out the noise of song and laughter, the room echoed with the mighty sobbing of a woman who was betrayed, and who repeated hysterically, while kissing the face of her child, "To-morrow, to-morrow there will be food for you."

And Gregorio slept peacefully, for the danger of starvation was over; he would yet live to see his son become rich.

And the woman?

He kissed her before he slept, and women always cry.





IV—CONCERNING TWO WOMEN

Gregorio felt a little bit ashamed of himself next morning. The excitement had passed, and the full meaning of his words came back to him and made him shudder. The sun, already risen, sent shafts of light between the lips of the wooden lattice. A faint sound of life and movement stole upward from the street below. But Xantippe and the boy still slumbered, though the woman's form shook convulsively at times, for she sobbed in her sleep.

Gregorio looked at the two for a minute and then raised himself with an oath. The woman's heavy breathing irritated him, for, after all, he argued, it was her duty as well as his to sacrifice herself for the lad. Moreover, the Jew must be paid, and to-day was that appointed by Amos for the settling of their account. There was no money to pay it with, and they must lose their furniture, so much at least was certain. But Amos would not have the best of the bargain, thought the Greek as he looked round the room with a grin, and the certainty that he had got the better of Amos for the moment cheered his spirits. Then, too, after to-day there would be plenty to eat, for his wife could manage to earn money; nor was the man so mean in his villainy as to shirk any effort to earn money himself. After first looking at his wife critically and with a satisfied smile, he touched her on the shoulder to wake her.

"I am going out for work," he said, as Xantippe opened her eyes.

"All right."

"Good-bye."

But Xantippe answered not. She turned her face to the wall wearily as Gregorio left her.

Entering the street he made straight for Amos's house, and told the porter, who was still lying on the trestle before the door, that he could not pay the Jew's bill. Then without waiting for an answer, he hurried off to the quay.

With better luck than on the previous day, he managed to obtain employment for some hours. The Greek mail-boat had arrived, and under the blazing sun he toiled good-humouredly and patiently. The work was hard, but it gave him no opportunity of thinking. He had to be continually dodging large bales of fruit and wine, and if he made a mistake the officer on duty would shout at him angrily, "Lazy dog! you would not have left Greece were you not an idle fellow." Such words wounded his pride, and he determined to do so well that he should earn praise. But the little officer, his bright buttons flashing in the sunlight, who smoked quietly in the intervals of silence, never praised anybody; but he left off abusing Gregorio at last, and when work ceased for the day bade him come again on the morrow.

At sunset Gregorio pocketed his few hard-earned piastres and wandered cityward. He did not care to go back to his home, for he knew there would be miserable stories to tell of the Jew's anger, and, moreover, he was terribly thirsty. So he went into a little cafe—known as the Penny-farthing Shop—opposite his house and called for a flask of kephisa. As he sipped the wine he glanced up nervously at his window and wondered whether his wife had already left home. Were he sure that she had, he would leave his wine untouched and hasten to look after his son and give him food. But until he knew Xantippe had gone he would not move. The sobs of yesterday still disturbed him, and he was more than once on the point of cancelling his resolves. But as the wine stirred his blood he became satisfied with what he had done and said. The little cafe at Benhur that was to make his fortune seemed nearly in his grasp. Had he not, he asked himself, worked all day without a murmur? It was right Xantippe should help him.

As he sat dreamily thinking over these things, and watching the shadows turn to a darker purple under the oil-lamps, a woman spoke to him.

"Well, Gregorio, are you asleep?"

"No," said he, turning toward his questioner.

The woman laughed. She was a big woman, dressed in loose folds of red and blue. Her hair was dishevelled, and ornamented with brass pins fastened into it at random. Her sleeves were rolled up to her armpits, and she had her arms akimbo—fat, flabby arms that shook as she laughed. Her eyes were almost hidden, she screwed them up so closely, but her wide mouth opened and disclosed a row of gigantic, flawless teeth.

Gregorio frowned as he looked at her. He knew her well and had never liked her. But he dare not quarrel with her, for he owed her money, and "for the love of his black eyes," as she told him, she had ever a bottle of wine ready for him when he wished.

"Well, my good woman," he blurted out, surlily, "you seem to be amused."

"I am, Gregorio. Tell me," she continued, slyly, seating herself beside him and placing her elbows on the table, "how is she?"

"Who?"

"Xantippe. She came to me to-day, and I saw she had been crying. But I said nothing, because it is not always wise to ask questions. I thought she wept because she was hungry and because the baby was hungry. I offered her food and she took some, but so little, scarcely enough to cover a ten-piastre piece. 'That is for the baby,' I said; 'now some for you.' But she refused."

"Perhaps she had food for herself," said Gregorio, shifting uneasily in his chair.

"Perhaps," said the woman, and laughed again, more loudly than ever, till the table shook. "But she asked me for something else," she continued, when her merriment languished for want of breath; "she asked me to let her have an old dress of mine, a bright yellow-and-red dress, and she borrowed some ornaments. It is not right of you, Gregorio, to keep an old friend on the door-step when you have a fantasia."

Gregorio scowled savagely. After a pause he said, "I don't know why my wife wanted your dress and ornaments."

"Oh yes, you do, friend Gregorio." And she laughed again, this time a suppressed, chuckling laugh that threatened to choke her; and she supported her chin on her hands, while her eyes peered through the enveloping fat at the man who sat opposite to her. Suddenly she stood up, and taking Gregorio by the arm dragged him to the door.

"See, there she goes. My garments are cleverly altered and suit her finely, don't they? Ah, well, my friend, a man who cannot support a wife should marry a woman who can support him."

Gregorio did not stop to answer her, but pushed past her into the street. The woman watched him enter the house opposite, and then returned quietly to her work. But there was a smile hovering round her lips as she murmured to herself, "Ah, well, in time."

Gregorio meanwhile had run up to his room and entered it breathless with excitement. The first glance told him that Amos had seized all he could, for nothing remained save a wooden bench and one or two coarse, half-disabled cooking utensils.

Gregorio swore a little as he realised what had happened. Then he saw in a corner by the window his son and Ahmed.

"She has gone," said Ahmed, as Gregorio's gaze rested on him. But she might have gone merely to market, or to see a neighbour, for all the imperturbable Arab face disclosed. As soon as he had spoken the man bent over the child, laughing softly as the youngster played with his beard. For the Arab, as he is miscalled, is fond of children, and there are none to whom children take so readily as to the Egyptian fellahin.

Gregorio watched the two for a moment, and then placing his remaining piastres in the man's hand bade him bring food and wine. As soon as he was left alone with his son, he flung himself down on the floor and kissed, "You shall be a great man, ay, a rich man, my son."

He repeated the sentence over and over again, punctuating it with kisses, while the two-year-old regarded him wonderingly, until Ahmed returned.

When the meal was ended Gregorio took the boy in his arms and sang to him softly till at last the infant slept. Then he placed him gently on the floor, having first made of his coat a bed, and went to the window and flung back the shutters. He smoked quietly as the minutes went by, waiting impatiently for his wife to return. It seemed to him monstrous that the boy who was to inherit a fortune should be sleeping on the dirty floor wrapped in an old coat; that an Arab, a mere fellah, should amuse his son and play with him, when Greek nurses were to be hired in Alexandria had one only the money. Long after midnight he heard a step on the stairs, and a minute after the door opened. He recognised his wife's footsteps, and he rose to meet her. As she came into the room she looked quickly round, and seeing her son went toward him and kissed him. Gregorio, half afraid, stood by the window watching her. She let her glance rest on him a minute, then she turned round and laid her cloak upon the floor.

"Xantippe!"

But she did not answer.

"Xantippe, I have fed our son. The good days are coming when we shall be rich and happy."

But Xantippe was too busy folding out the creases of her cloak to notice him. The moonlight streamed on to her, and her face shone like an angel's. Gregorio made one step toward her, ravished, for she had never appeared so beautiful to him. For the moment he forgot the whole hideous history of the last few days and the brief, horrible conversation of the night before. Fired with a desire to touch her, to kiss her, to whisper into her ear, in the soft Greek speech, all the endearments and tendernesses that had won her when he wooed her, he placed his hand upon her arm. As if stung by a venomous snake, the woman recoiled from his touch. With a quick movement she sprang back and flung at his face a handful of gold and silver coins.

"Take them; they're yours," she cried, huskily, and retreated into the farthest corner of the room.

With a savage curse Gregorio put his hand to his lips and wiped away the blood, for a heavy coin had cut him. Then he ran swiftly downstairs, and Xantippe, as she lay down wearily beside her boy, heard a woman laugh.





V—XANTIPPE LOOKS OUT OF THE WINDOW

The Penny-farthing Shop was full of customers, and Madam Marx, the fat woman who followed Gregorio to the bar, was for a long time busy attending to her clients. Some English war-ships had entered the harbour at sunset, and many of the sailors had lost no time in seeking out their favourite haunt. Most of them knew Madam Marx well, as a good-natured woman who gave them plenty to drink for their money, and secreted them from the eyes of the police when the liquor overpowered them. Consequently there was much laughter and shaking of hands, and many a rough jest, which Madam Marx responded to in broken English. Gregorio watched the sailors gloomily. He hated the English, for even their sailors seemed to have plenty of money, and he recalled the rich Englishman he had seen at the Cafe Paradiso, drinking champagne and buying flowers for the Hungarian woman who played the fiddle. The scene he had just left contrasted disagreeably with the fun and jollity that surrounded him. But he felt unable to shake off his gloom and annoyance, and Madam Marx's attentions irritated him. He felt that her eyes continually rested on him, that, however busy she might be, he was never out of her thoughts. Every few minutes she would come toward him with a bottle of wine and fill up his glass, saying, "Come, my friend; wine is good and will drown your troubles." And though he resented her patronage, knowing he could not pay, he nevertheless drank steadily.

Every few minutes he heard the sound of horses' hoofs on the hard roadway, and through the windows he saw the military police pass slowly on their rounds.

At last the strong drinks so amiably retailed by Madam Marx did their work, and the men lay about the floor asleep and breathing heavily. The silence succeeding the noise startled Gregorio from his sullen humour. Madam Marx came and sat beside him, weary as she was with her long labours, and talked volubly. The wine had mounted to his head, and he answered her in rapid sentences, accompanying his words with gesture and grimace. What he talked about he scarcely knew, but the woman laughed, and he took an insane delight in hearing her. Just before daylight he fell asleep, resting his head on his arms, that were spread across the table. Madam Marx kissed him as he slept, murmuring to herself contentedly, "Ah, well, in time."

When Gregorio woke the sun was high in the heavens, blazing out of a brazen sky. Clouds of dust swept past the door from time to time, and cut his neck and face as he stood on the threshold smoking lazily. It was too late to go down to the quay, for his place must have long ago been filled by another. He was not sorry, since he by no means desired to toil again under the hot sun; the heavy drinking of the night had made him lethargic, and he was so thirsty the heat nearly choked him. He called out to a water-carrier staggering along in the scanty shade on the opposite side of the street, and took eagerly a draught of water. He touched the pigskin with his hand, and it was hot. The water was warm and made him sick; he spat it from his mouth hastily, and hearing a laugh behind him, turned round and saw Madam Marx.

"See, here is some wine, my friend; leave the water for the Arabs."

Gregorio gratefully seized the flagon and let the wine trickle down his throat, while Madam Marx, with arms akimbo, stood patiently before him.

"I must go now," he said, as he handed back the half-emptied flask.

"Why?"

"Because I must get some work."

"It is not easy to get work in the summer."

"I know, but I must get some. I owe money to Amos."

"Yes, I know. But your wife is making money now."

The man scowled at her. "How do you know that? Before God, I swear that she is not."

"Come, come, Gregorio. You were drunk last night, and your tongue wagged pretty freely. It's not a bit of use being angry with me, because I only know what you've told me. Besides, I'm your friend, you know that."

Gregorio flushed angrily at the woman's words, but he knew quite well it was no use replying to them, for she was speaking only the truth. But the knowledge that he had betrayed his secret annoyed him. He had grown used to the facts and could look at them easily enough, but he had not reckoned on others also learning them.

He determined to go out and find work, or at any rate to tramp the streets pretending to look for something to do. The woman became intolerable to him, and the Penny-farthing Shop, reeking with the odour of stale tobacco and spilled liquor, poisoned him. He took up his hat brusquely and stepped into the street.

Madam Marx, standing at the door, laughed at him as she called out, "Good-bye, Gregorio; when will you come back?"

He did not answer, but the sound of her laughter followed him up the street, and he kicked angrily at the stones in his path.

At last he passed by the Ras-el-Tin barracks. He looked curiously at the English soldiers. Some were playing polo on the hard brown space to the left, and from the windows of the building men leaned out, their shirt-sleeves rolled up and their strong arms bared to the sun. They smoked short clay pipes, and innumerable little blue spiral clouds mounted skyward. Obviously the heat did not greatly inconvenience them, for they laughed and sang and drank oceans of beer.

The sight of them annoyed Gregorio. He looked at the pewter mugs shining in the sunlight. He eyed greedily the passage of one from hand to hand; and when one man, after taking a long pull, laughed and held it upside down to show him it was empty, he burst into an uncontrollable fit of anger, and shook his fist impotently at the soldiers, who chaffed him good-naturedly. As he went along by the stables, a friendly lancer, pitying him, probably, too, wearying of his own lonely watch, called to him, and offered him a drink out of a stone bottle. Gregorio drank again feverishly, and handed the bottle back to its owner with a grin, and passed on without a word. The soldier watched him curiously, but said nothing.

When he reached the lighthouse Gregorio flung himself on to the pebble-strewn sand and looked across the bay. The blue water, calm and unruffled as a sheet of glass, spread before him. The ships—Austrian Lloyd mail-boats, P. and O. liners, and grimy coal-hulks—lay motionless against the white side of the jetty.

The khedive's yacht was bright with bunting, and innumerable fishing-boats near the breakwater made grateful oases in the glare whereon his eyes might rest. But he heeded them not. Angrily he flung lumps of stone and sand into the wavelets at his feet, and pushed back his hat that his face might feel the full heat of the sun. Then he lit a cigarette and began to think.

But what was the good of thinking? The thoughts always formed themselves into the same chain and reached the same conclusion; and ever on the glassy surface of the Levantine sea a woman poised herself and laughed at him.

When the sun fell behind the horizon, and the breakwater, after dashing up one flash of gold, became a blue blur, Gregorio rose to go. As he walked back toward the Penny-farthing Shop he felt angry and unsatisfied. The whole day was wasted. He had done nothing to relieve his wife, nothing to pay off Amos. Madam met him at the door, a flask of wine in her hand. Against his will Gregorio entered her cafe and smiled, but his smile was sour and malevolent.

"You want cheering, my friend," said madam, laughing.

"I have found nothing to do," said Gregorio.

"Ah! I told you it would be hard. There are no tourists in Alexandria now. And it is foolish of you to tramp the streets looking for work that you will never find, when you have everything you can want here."

"Except money, and that's everything," put in Gregorio, bluntly.

"Even money, my friend. I have enough for two."

Madam Marx had played her trump card, and she watched anxiously the effect of her words. For a moment the man did not speak, but trifled with his cigarette tobacco, rolling it gently between his brown fingers. Then he said:

"You know I am in debt now, and I want to pay off all I owe, and leave here."

"Yes, that's true, but you won't pay off your debts by tramping the streets, and your little cafe at Benhur will be a long time building, I fancy. Meanwhile there is money to be made at the Penny-farthing Shop."

"What are your terms?" asked Gregorio, roughly.

The woman laughed, but did not answer. The stars were shining, and the kempsin that had blown all day was dead. It was cool sitting outside the door of the cafe under the little awning, and pleasant to watch the blue cigarette smoke float upward in the still air. Gregorio sat for a while silent, and the woman came and stood by him. "You know my terms," she whispered, and Gregorio smiled, took her hand, and kissed her. At that moment the blind of the opposite house was flung back. Xantippe leaned out of the window and saw them.





VI—BABY AND JEW

When the Penny-farthing Shop began to fill Gregorio disappeared quietly by the back door. He muttered a half-unintelligible answer to the men who were playing cards in the dim parlour through which he had to pass, who called to him to join them. Gaining the street, he wandered along till he reached the bazaars, intending to waste an hour or two until Xantippe should have left the house. Then he determined to go back and see the boy in whom all his hopes and ambitions were centered, who was the unconscious cause of his villainy and degradation.

There was a large crowd in the bazaars, for a Moolid was being celebrated. Jugglers, snake-charmers, mountebanks, gipsies, and dancing-girls attracted hundreds of spectators.

The old men sat in the shadows of their stalls, smoking and drinking coffee. They smiled gravely at the younger people, who jostled one another good-humouredly, laughing, singing, quarrelling like children. Across the roadway hung lamps of coloured glass and tiny red flags stamped with a white crescent and a star. Torches blazed at intervals, casting a flickering glow on the excited faces of the crowd.

Gregorio watched without much interest. He had seen a great many fantasias since he came to Egypt, and they were no longer a novelty to him. He was annoyed that a race of people whom he despised should be so merry when he himself had so many troubles to worry him. He would have liked to go into one of the booths where the girls danced, but he had no money, and he cursed at his stupidity in not asking the Marx woman for some. He no longer felt ashamed of himself, for he argued that he was the victim of circumstances. Still he wished Xantippe had not looked out of the window, though of course he could easily explain things to her. And Xantippe was really so angry the night before, explanations were better postponed for a time. "After all," he thought, "it really does not much matter. Once we get over our present difficulties we shall forget all we have gone through." This comfortable reflection had been doing duty pretty often the last day or two, and though Gregorio did not believe it a bit, he always felt it was a satisfactory conclusion, and one to be encouraged.

Meanwhile he would not meet Xantippe. That was a point upon which he had definitely made up his mind. As he strolled through the bazaars, putting into order his vagabond thoughts, in a tall figure a few yards in front of him he recognised Amos. Nervous, he halted, for he had no desire to be interviewed by the Jew, and yet no way of escape seemed possible.

Nodding affably to the proprietor, he sat down on the floor of a shop hard by and watched Amos. The old man was evidently interested, for he was laughing pleasantly, and bending down to look at something on the ground. What it was Gregorio could not see. A knot of people, also laughing, surrounded the Jew. Gregorio was curious to see what attracted them, but fearful of being recognised by the old man. However, after a few moments his impatience mastered him, and he stepped up to the group.

"What is it?" he asked one of the bystanders.

"Only a baby. It's lost, I think."

Gregorio pushed his way into the centre of the crowd and suddenly became white as death.

There, seated on the ground, was his own child, laughing and talking to himself in a queer mixture of Greek and Arabic. Amos was bending kindly over the youngster, giving him cakes and sweets, and making inquiries as to the parents.

A chill fear seized on Gregorio's heart. He could not have explained the cause, nor did he stay and try to explain it. Quickly he broke into the midst of the circle and, catching up the boy in his arms, ran swiftly away.

Having reached home, he kissed the boy passionately, sent for food to Madam Marx, and wept and laughed hysterically for an hour. After a time the boy slept, and Gregorio then paced up and down the room, smoking, and puffing great clouds of smoke from his mouth, trying to calm himself. But he could not throw off his excitement. He imagined the awful home-coming had he not been to the bazaar, and he wondered what he would have done then. A great joy possessed him to see his son safe, and a fierce desire filled him to know who had taken the child away. He longed for Xantippe's return that he might tell her. He forgot completely that he had dreaded seeing her earlier this evening. Then he began to wonder what Amos was doing at the fantasia, and why he was so interested in the boy. Perhaps, Amos would forgive the debt for love of the child. The idea pleased him, but he soon came to understand that it was untenable. Oftener, indeed, he shuddered as he recalled the old man's figure bent over the infant. A sense of danger to come overwhelmed him. In some way he felt that the old man and the child were to be brought together to work his, Gregorio's, ruin.

Suddenly he heard a footstep on the stairs. "Thank God!" he cried, as he ran to the door.

"Xantippe!"

But he recoiled as if shot, for as the door opened Amos entered. The Jew bowed politely to the Greek, but there was an unpleasant twinkle in his eyes as he spoke.

"You cannot offer me a seat, my friend, so I will stand. We have met already this evening."

Gregorio did not answer, but placed himself between the Jew and the child.

"I dare say you did not see me," the old man continued, quietly, "for you seemed excited. I suppose the child is yours. It was surely careless to let him stray so far from home."

"The child is mine."

"Ah, well, it is a happy chance that you recovered him so easily. And now to business."

"I am listening."

"I have already, as of course you know, been here to see you about the money you owe me. I was sorry you did not see fit to pay me, because I had to sell your furniture, and it was not worth much."

"I have no money to pay you, or I would have paid you long ago. I told you when I went to your house that I could not pay you."

"And yet, my friend, it is only fair that a man who borrows money should be prepared to pay it back."

"I could pay you back if you gave me time. But you have no heart, you Jews. What do you care if we starve, so long as—"

"Hush!" said Amos, gravely; "I have dealt fairly by you. But I will let you go free on one condition."

"And that is?"

"That you give me the child."

Gregorio stood speechless with horror and rage at the window, and the old man walked across the room to where the infant lay.

"I have no young son, Gregorio Livadas, and I will take yours. Not only will I forgive you the debt, but I will give you money. I want the child."

"By God, you shall not touch him!" cried Gregorio, suddenly finding voice for his passion.

He rushed furiously at Amos, gripped him by the throat, and flung him to the far side of the room. Then he stood by his child with his arms folded on his breast, his eyes flashing and his nostrils dilated. Amos quickly recovered himself, and, in a voice that scarcely trembled, again demanded his money.

"Go away," shouted Gregorio; "if you come here again, I will kill you. Twice now have I saved my boy from falling into your hands."

"I wish only to do you a service. You are a beggar, and I am rich enough, ask Heaven, to look after the child. Why should you abuse me because I offer to release you from your debts if you will let me take the child?"

Gregorio answered brusquely that the Jew should not touch the boy. "I will not have him made a Jew."

"Then you will pay me."

"I will not. I cannot."

"I shall take measures, my friend, to force you to pay me. I have not dealt harshly with you. I came here to help you, and you have insulted me and beaten me."

"Because you are a dog of a Jew, and you have tried to steal my son."

A nasty look came into the Jew's eyes,—a cold, cunning look,—and he was about to reply when the door opened and Xantippe entered. She was well dressed, and wore some ornaments of gold. Amos turned toward her, asking the man:

"This is your wife?"

But Gregorio told Xantippe rapidly the history of his adventures with the boy; and the woman, hearing them, moved quietly to the corner where he slept, and took him in her arms.

The Jew smiled. "I see," he said, "that madam has money. She has taken the advice I gave you the other day. Now I know that you can pay me, and if you do not within two days, Gregorio Livadas, you will repent the insults you have heaped on my head this night."

He walked quietly to the corner of the room, where Xantippe sat nursing the boy, touched the child gently on the forehead with his lips, and then went out.

For some minutes neither Xantippe nor Gregorio spoke, but the man rubbed the infant's forehead with his finger as if to wipe out the stain of the Jew's kiss.





VII—XANTIPPE SPEAKS OUT

At last the silence, roused only by the strident buzzing of the mosquitos, became unendurable. Gregorio gave a preparatory cough and opened his lips to speak, but the words refused to be born. He was unnerved. The odious visitor, the wearying day, the memory of Xantippe's face at the window, combined to make him fearful. He watched, under his half-closed lids, his wife crouching on the far side of the boy. Once or twice, as he was rubbing the youngster's forehead, his fingers touched those of his wife as she waved off the mosquitos; but at each contact with them he shivered and his fears increased. He tried, vainly, to get his thoughts straight, and lit a cigarette with apparent calmness, swaggering to the window; but his legs did not cease to tremble, and the unsteadiness of his gait caused Xantippe to smile as she watched him. Resting by the window, Gregorio widened the lips of the lattice and let in a stream of moonbeams that rested on wife and child, illumining the dark corner.

"Gregorio!"

"Yes."

"Have you told me all? Is there nothing else to tell em about our son and the Jew?"

Gregorio felt he must now speak; it was not possible to keep silence longer. He was pleased that his wife had begun the conversation, for it seemed easier to answer questions than to frame them. "I have told you the whole story. There is no more to tell. It was by accident I found him in the bazaar, and that devil Amos was bending over him. I could kill that man."

"What good would that do?"

"Fancy if we had lost the boy! Think of the sacrifices we have made for him, and they would have been useless."

"Have you made any sacrifices, Gregorio?"

The question was quietly asked, but there was a ring of irony in the sound of the voice, and Gregorio, to shun his wife's gaze, moved into the friendly shadows. For some minutes he did not answer. At length, with a nervous laugh, he replied:

"Of course. We have both made sacrifices, great sacrifices."

"It is odd," pursued Xantippe, gently, as if speaking to herself, "that you should so flatter yourself. You professed to care for me once; you only regard me now as a slave to earn money for you."

"It is for our son's sake."

"Is it for our son's sake also that you sit with Madam Marx, that you drink her wine, that you kiss her?"

Gregorio could not answer. He felt it were useless to try and explain, though the reason seemed to him clear enough.

"I am glad to have the chance," continued Xantippe, "of talking to you, for we may now understand each other. I have made the greatest sacrifice, and because it was for our son's sake I forgave you. I wept, but, as I wept, I said, 'It is hell for Gregorio too.' But when I looked from the window this afternoon I knew it was not hell for you. I knew you did not care what became of me. It was pleasant for you to send me away to make money while you drank and kissed at the Penny-farthing Shop. I came suddenly to know that the man had spoken truth."

"What man?" asked Gregorio, huskily.

"The man! The man you bade me find. Because money is not gathered from the pavements. You know that, and you sent me out to get money. When I first came back to you I flung the gold at you; it burned my fingers, and your eagerness for it stung. But I did not quite hate you, though his words had begun to chime in my ears: 'In my country such a husband would be horsewhipped.' When you were kind I was little more than a dog you liked to pet. I thought that was how all women were treated. I know differently now. You will earn money through me, for it is my duty to my son, but you have earned something else."

"Yes?" queried Gregorio.

"My hate. Surely you are not surprised? I have learned what love is these last few days, have learned what a real man is like. I know you to be what he called you, a cur and a coward. I should never have learned this but for you, and I am grateful, very grateful. It is useless to swear and to threaten me with your fists. You dare not strike me, because, were you to injure me, you would lose your money. You have tried to degrade me, and you have failed. I am happier than I have ever been, and far, far wiser. When a woman learns what a man's love is, she becomes wiser in a day than if she had studied books for a hundred years."

Xantippe ceased speaking and, taking her son in her arms, closed her eyes and fell asleep quietly, a gentle smile hovering round her lips.

Gregorio scowled at her savagely, and would have liked to strike her, to beat out his passion on her white breast and shoulders. But she had spoken only the truth when she said he dare not touch her. With impotent oaths he sought to let off the anger that boiled in him. He feared to think, and every word she had uttered made him think in spite of himself. The events of sixty hours had destroyed what little of good there was in the man. Save only the idolatrous love for his child, he scarcely retained one ennobling quality.

Little by little his anger cooled, his shame died out of him, and he began to wonder curiously what manner of man this was whose words had so stirred his wife. Wondering he fell asleep, nor did he awaken till the sun was risen.

While eating his breakfast he inquired cunningly concerning this wise teacher of the gospels of love and hate, but Xantippe for a time did not answer.

"Is he a Greek?"

"No."

"A Frenchman?"

"No."

"A German?"

"No."

Suddenly Gregorio felt a kind of cramp at his heart, and he had to pause before he put the next question. He could scarcely explain why he hesitated, but he called to mind the Paradise cafe and the red-faced Englishman. He was ready enough to sacrifice his wife if by so doing money might be gained, but he felt somehow hurt in his vanity at the idea of this ugly, slow-witted Northerner usurping his place. With an effort, however, he put the question:

"Is he an Englishman?"

"Yes."

He was seized with a tumult of anger. He spoke volubly, talking of the ignorance of the English, their brutality, their dull brains, their stupid pride. Xantippe waited till he had finished speaking and then replied quietly:

"It cannot matter to you. It is my concern. You have lost all rights to be angry with me or those connected with me."

Gregorio refused to hear reason, and explained how he begrudged them their wealth and fame. "For these English are a dull people, and we Greeks are greatly superior."

"I do not agree with you," Xantippe replied. "I have learned what a man is since I have known him, and I have learned to hate you. You may have more brains—that I know nothing of, nor do I care. He could not behave as you have behaved, nor have sacrificed me as you have sacrificed me. Some of his money comes to you. You want money. Be satisfied."

Gregorio felt the justice of her words, and he watched her put on her hat and leave the room. A minute later, looking out of the window, he saw her link her arm in that of the Englishman of the Paradiso, and across the street, at the threshold of the Penny-farthing Shop, Madam Marx waved her hand to himself and laughed.





VIII—A DESOLATE HOME-COMING

Toward the evening of a day a fortnight later, Gregorio found himself seated in Madam Marx's cafe, idly watching the passers-by. He was feeling happier, for that was being amassed which alone could insure happiness to him. Each day some golden pieces were added to the amount saved, and the cafe at Benhur seemed almost within his grasp. The feeling of security from want acted as a narcotic and soothed him, so that the things which should have troubled him scarcely interested him at all. He was intoxicated with the sight of gold. When he had first seen Xantippe and the Englishman together his anger had been violent; but when at last the futility of his rage became certain, his aggressive passion had softened to a smouldering discontent that hardly worried him, unless he heard some one speak a British name. His prosperity had destroyed the last vestiges of shame and soothed his illogical outbursts of fury. He was contented enough now to sit all day with Madam Marx, and returned to his home in the evening when Xantippe was away. He had spoken to her only once since she had told him she hated him. He had strolled out of the cafe about midday and entered his room. Xantippe was there, talking to her child, and quietly bade him go away.

"It's my room as well as yours," Gregorio had answered.

"It is my money that pays for it," was the reply.

A long conversation followed, but Xantippe met the man's coarse anger with quiet scorn, and told him that if he stayed she would grow to dislike her son since he was the father.

Gregorio was wise enough to control his anger then. For he knew that if she were really to lose her love for the boy, all his chances, and the boy's chances, of ease and prosperity would be destroyed. It was, of course, ridiculous to imagine she would supply him with money then. That she thoroughly loathed him, and would always loathe him, was very certain. So great, indeed, seemed her contempt for him that it was quite possible she might come to hate his child. So he did not attempt to remain in the room, but as he closed the door after him he waited a moment and listened. He heard her heave a sigh of relief and then say to the little fellow, "How like your father you grow! My God! I almost think I hate you for being so like him." Gregorio shuddered as he ran noiselessly downstairs. He never ventured to speak to her again. He argued himself out of the disquiet into which her words had thrown him. He knew it was difficult for a woman to hate her child. The birth-pains cement a love it requires a harsh wrench to sever. He easily persuaded himself, as he sipped Madam Marx's coffee, that if he kept in the background all cause for hatred would be removed. As for her feelings toward himself, he had ceased, almost, to care. The money was worth the cost paid in the attainment of it, and a woman's laugh was less sweet to him than the chink of gold and silver pieces. On the whole Gregorio had little reason to be troubled; only unreasoning dislike for the Englishman—why could not he be of any other nation, or, if an Englishman, any other Englishman?—hurt his peace of mind. And for the most part his discontent only smouldered.

Madam Marx brought her coffee and sat beside him. Her face betokened satisfaction, and she looked at Gregorio with a possessive smile. She had gained her desire, and asked fortune for no other gift.

"You have not seen Xantippe since she turned you out? Ah, well, it is much better you should keep away. You are welcome here, and it is foolish to go where one is not wanted."

"I've not seen her; I'm afraid to see her." He spoke openly to madam now.

"Some women are queer. If she had ever really loved you, she would not have thrown you over. I should not have complained had I been in her place. One cannot always choose one's lot."

"It's that damned Englishman who has spoiled her."

"Ah, yes, those English! I know them."

"Did I tell you what she said about the boy?"

"Yes, my friend. But as long as you don't worry her, her words need not worry you."

"They don't, except sometimes at night. I wake up and remember them, and then I am afraid."

"Why do you hate the Englishman? To my mind it is lucky for both of you that this Englishman saw her. There are not men so rich as the English, and he is a rich Englishman. You are lucky."

"I hate him."

"Because he has stolen your wife's love?" Madam Marx, as she put the question, laid her fat hand upon Gregorio's shoulder and laughed confidently. The movement irritated him, but he never tried to resist her now.

"No, not quite that. I'm used to it, and the money more than compensates me. But I hated the man when I first saw him in the Paradise. There was a fiddler-woman he talked to, and he could scarcely make himself understood. He had money, and he gave her champagne and flowers. And I was starving, and the woman was beautiful."

Madam tapped his cheek and smiled.

"The woman can't interest you now. Also you have money—his money."

"Still I hate him."

"You Greeks are like children. Your hatred is unreasonable; there is no cause for it."

"Unreasonable and not to be reasoned away."

"Well, why worry about him? He won't follow you to Benhur, I fancy."

"It doesn't worry me generally; but when you mention him my hate springs up again. I forget him when I am by myself."

"Forget him now."

And they drank coffee in silence.

Darkness came on, and the blue night mist. Gregorio was impatient to see his son. He gazed intently at the door of the opposite house, little heeding madam, who was busy with preparations for the evening's entertainment of her customers. Suddenly he saw a woman leave the house, hail a passing carriage, and drive rapidly down the street toward the Place Mehemet Ali. Gregorio, with a cry of pleasure, rose and left the cafe. Madam Marx followed him to the door and called a good-night to him. Gregorio stood irresolutely in the middle of the road. He had promised the boy a boat, and he blamed himself for having forgotten to buy it. Grumbling at his forgetfulness, he hurried along the street, determined to waste no time. On occasions he could relinquish his lazy, slouching gait, and he would hurry always to obey the commands of the king his son. A pleasant smile at the thought of the pleasure his present would cause softened the sinister mould of his lips, and he sang softly to himself as he moved quickly cityward.

Before he had gone many yards an oath broke in upon the music, and he darted swiftly under the shadow of a wall; for coming forward him was Amos the Jew. But the old man's sharp eyes detected the victim, and, following Gregorio into his hiding-place, Amos laid his hand upon the Greek.

"Why do you try to hide when we have so much to say to one another?"

Gregorio shook himself from the Jew's touch and professed ignorance of the necessity for speech.

"Come, come, my friend, the money you borrowed is still owing in part."

"But you will be paid. We are saving money; we cannot put by all we earn—we must live."

"I will be paid now; if I am not, you are to blame for the consequences."

And with a courtly salute the Jew passed on. Now Gregorio had not forgotten his debt, nor the Jew's threats, and he fully intended to pay what he owed. But of course it would take time, and the man was too impatient. He realised he had been foolish not to pay something on account; but it hurt him to part with gold. He determined, however, to send Amos something when he returned home. So good a watch had been kept, he never doubted the child's safety. But it would be awkward if Amos got him put in jail. So he reckoned up how much he could afford to pay, and, having bought the toy, returned eagerly home. He ran upstairs, singing a barcarole at the top of his voice, and rushed into the room, waving the model ship above his head. "See here," he cried, "is the ship! I have not forgotten it." But his shout fell to a whisper. The room was empty.

With a heartbroken sob the man fell swooning on the floor.





IX—A DISCOVERY AND A CONSPIRACY

For long he lay stretched out upon the floor in a state of half-consciousness. He could hear the mosquitos buzzing about his face, he could hear, too, the sounds of life rise up from the street below; but he was able to move neither arm nor leg, and his head seemed fastened to the floor by immovable leaden weights. That his son was lost was all he understood.

How long he lay there he scarcely knew, but it seemed to him weeks. At last he heard footsteps on the stairs. He endeavoured vainly to raise himself, and, though he strove to cry out, his tongue refused to frame the words. Lying there, living and yet lifeless, he saw the door open and Amos enter. The old man hesitated a moment, for the room was dark, while Gregorio, who had easily recognised his visitor, lay impotent on the floor. Before Amos could become used to the darkness the door again opened, and Madam Marx entered with a lamp in her hand. Amos turned to see who had followed him, and, in turning, his foot struck against Gregorio's body. Immediately, the woman crying softly, both visitors knelt beside the sick man. A fierce look blazed in Gregorio's eyes, but the strong words of abuse that hurried through his brain would not be said.

"He is very ill," said Amos; "he has had a stroke of some sort."

"Help me to carry him to my house," sobbed the woman, and she kissed the Greek's quivering lip and pallid brow. Then rising to her feet, she turned savagely on the Jew.

"It is your fault. It is you who have killed him."

"Nay, madam; I had called here for my money, and I had a right to do so. It has been owing for a long time."

"No; you have killed him."

"Indeed, I wished him well. I was willing to forgive the debt if he would let me take the child."

A horrid look of agony passed over Gregorio's face, but he remained silent and motionless. The watchers saw that he understood and that a tempest of wrath and pain surged within the lifeless body. They stooped down and carried him downstairs and across the road to the Penny-farthing Shop. The Jew's touch burned Gregorio like hot embers, but he could not shake himself free. When he was laid on a bed in a room above the bar, through the floor of which rose discordant sounds of revelry, Amos left them. Madam Marx flung herself on the bed beside him and wept.

Two days later Gregorio sat, at sunset, by Madam Marx's side, on the threshold of the cafe. He had recovered speech and use of limbs. With wrathful eloquence he had told his companion the history of the terrible night, and now sat weaving plots in his maddened brain.

Replying to his assertion that Amos was responsible, Madam Marx said:

"Don't be too impetuous, Gregorio. Search cunningly before you strike. Maybe your wife knows something."

"My wife! Not she; she is with her Englishman. Amos has stolen the boy, and you know it as well as I do. Didn't he tell you he wanted the child? I met him that night, and he told me if I did not pay I had only myself to blame for the trouble that would fall on me."

"Come, come, Gregorio, cheer up!" said the woman; for the Greek, with head resting on his hands, was sobbing violently.

"I tell you, all I cared for in life is taken from me. But I will have my revenge, that I tell you too."

For a while they sat silent, looking into the street. At last Gregorio spoke:

"My wife has not returned since that night, has she?"

"I have not seen her."

"Well, I must see her; she can leave the Englishman now."

Madam Marx laughed a little, but said nothing.

"There is Ahmed," cried Gregorio, as a blue-clad figure passed on the other side of the street. He beckoned to the Arab, who came across at his summons.

"You seem troubled," he said, as he looked into the Greek's face; and Gregorio retold the terrible story.

"You know nothing of all this?" he added, suspiciously, as his narrative ended.

"Nothing."

"My God! it is so awful I thought all the world knew of it. You often nursed and played with the boy?"

"Ay, and fed him. We Arabs love children, even Christian children, and I will help you if I can."

"Why should Amos want the boy?" asked Madam Marx, as she put coffee and tobacco before the guests.

"Because I owe him money, and he knew the loss of my son would be the deadliest revenge. He will make my son a Jew, a beastly Jew. By God, he shall not, he shall not!"

"We must find him and save him," said the woman.

"He will never be a Jew. That is not what Amos wants your son for; there are plenty of Jews." Ahmed spoke quietly.

"They sacrifice children," he continued, after a moment's pause; "surely you know that, and if you would save your boy there is not much time to lose."

Gregorio trembled at Ahmed's words. He wondered how he could have forgotten the common report, and his fingers grasped convulsively the handle of his knife.

"Let us go to Amos," he said, speaking the words with difficulty, for he was choking with fear for his son.

"Wait," answered the Arab; "I will come again to-night and bring some friends with me, two men who will be glad to serve you. We Arabs are not sorry to strike at the Jews; we have our own wrongs. Wait here till I come."

"But what will you do?" asked Madam Marx, looking anxiously on the man she loved, though her words were for the Arab.

"Gregorio will ask for his son. If the old man refuses to restore him, or denies that he has taken him, then we will know the worst, and then—"

Gregorio's knife-blade glittered in the sunset rays, as he tested its sharpness between thumb and finger. The Arab watched with a smile. "We understand one another," he said. There was no need to finish the description of his plan. With a solemn wave of his hand he left the cafe.

"That man Ahmed," said Madam Marx, "has a grudge against Amos. It dates from the bombardment, and he had waited all these years to avenge himself. I believe it was the loss of his wife."

"Amos made her a Jewess, eh?" And then, after a pause, Gregorio added:

"So we can depend on Ahmed. To-night I will win back my son or—"

"Or?" queried madam, tremblingly.

"Or Amos starts on his journey to hell. God, how my fingers itch to slay him! The devil, the Jew devil!"





X—AT THE HOUSE OF AMOS

As Ahmed had advised, Gregorio settled himself patiently to await the summons. Madam would have liked to ask him many questions, and to have extracted a promise from him not to risk his life in any mad enterprise his accomplice might suggest. But though the Greek's body seemed almost lifeless, so quietly and immovably he rested on his chair, there was a restless look in his eyes that told her how fiercely and irrepressibly his anger burned. She knew enough of his race to know that no power on earth could stop him striking for revenge. And she trembled, for she knew also that directly he had begun to strike his madness would increase, and that only sheer physical exhaustion would stay his hand.

Madam Marx was unhappy, and as she waited on her customers her eyes rested continually on the Greek, who heeded her not. Once she carried some wine to him, and he drank eagerly, spilling a few drops on the floor first. "It's like blood," he muttered, and smiled. Madam hastily covered his mouth with her trembling fingers.

Just before midnight Ahmed arrived with his two friends. Gregorio saw them at once, and, calling them to him, they spoke together in low voices for a few moments. There was little need for words, and soon, scarcely noticed by the drinkers and gamblers, they passed out into the street and walked slowly toward the Jew's house. Ahmed rapidly repeated the plan of action. When they reached the door they stood for a moment before they woke the Arab, and these words passed between them:

"For a wife."

"For a sister."

"For a son."

Gregorio then demanded admittance and led the way, followed by his three friends. He had visited the house of Amos before, on less bloody but less delightful business, and he did not hesitate, but strode on to where he knew the Jew would be. His companions stood behind the curtain, awaiting the signal.

Amos looked somewhat surprised at the Greek's entrance, but motioned him to a seat, and, as on the occasion of his first visit, clapped his hands together as a signal that coffee and pipes were required.

"It is kind of you to come, for doubtless you wish to pay me what is owing."

"I wish to pay you."

"That is well. I hope you are better again. I regretted to find you so ill two nights ago."

"I am better."

The conversation ceased, for Gregorio was restless and his fingers itched to do their work. Something in his manner alarmed Amos, for he summoned in two of his servants and raised himself slightly, as if the better to avoid an attack. But he continued to smoke calmly, watching the Greek under his half-closed lids.

"I have another piece of business to settle with you."

"Do you want to borrow more money because I refuse to lend you any?"

"No; it is you who have borrowed, and I have come to you to receive back my own."

"I fail to understand you."

Gregorio tried to keep calm, but it was not possible. Rising to his feet, he bent over the Jew and cried out:

"Give me back my son, you Jew dog!"

"Your son is not here."

"You lie! by God, you lie! If he is not here you have murdered him."

"Madman!" shouted Amos, as the Greek's knife flashed from its sheath; but before he or his servants could stay the uplifted arm the Jew sank back among his cushions, wounded to the heart. With a shout of triumph and a "Death of all Jews!" Gregorio turned savagely on the servants and, reinforced by his companions, soon succeeded in slaying them. Then leaving the dead side by side, the four men dashed through the house seeking fresh victims. Ten minutes later they were in the street again, dripping with the blood of women and men, for in their fury they had killed every human being in the house.

Down the narrow native streets they pushed on quickly, hugging the shadows, toward the Penny-farthing Shop. Madam Marx, her ears sharpened by fear, heard them, admitted them by a side door, and led them quickly to an upper room. Thither she carried water and clean garments, but dared not ask any questions. Sick with anxiety, she re-entered the bar and waited.

At length the murderers appeared and called for coffee, and Madam Marx attended to their wants. In a few minutes the Egyptians left, and Gregorio and she were alone. Coming near him, she placed her hand timidly on his shoulder, and asked him, in a hoarse whisper, to tell her what had happened.

"My son was not there."

"Well?"

"Well, you can guess the rest. Not one person remains alive of that devil's household."

Madam Marx gasped at the magnitude of the crime, and though her terrors increased, her pride in the man capable of so tremendous revenge increased also.

"What will happen to you?" she found voice to ask.

"Nothing. I must hide here. We were not seen. Besides, you remember the last time a Greek murdered a Jew—it was at Port Said—the matter was hushed up. Our consuls care as little for Jews as we do. My God, how glad I am I killed him!"

His eyes were fixed on the street as he spoke, and suddenly he started to his feet. Madam rose too, and clung to him. He pushed her roughly on one side, while an evil smile played on his lips.

"By God, she shall come back now!"

"Who?"

"Xantippe. There is no need for her to live with the Englishman now. Our son is dead and the Jew in hell. I will at least have my wife back."

"She will not come."

"She will come. By God, I will make her! I have tasted blood to-night, and I am not a child to be treated with contempt. I say I will make her come."

"But if she refuses?"

"Then I will take care she does not go back to the Englishman."

"You will—" but madam's voice faltered. Gregorio read her meaning and laughed a yes.

"But, Gregorio, think; you will be hanged for that. You wife is not a Jewess."

But Gregorio laughed again and strode into the street. He was mad with grief and the intoxicating draughts of vengeance he had swallowed. He strode across the road and mounted the stairs with steady feet. Madam Marx followed him, weeping and calling on him to come back. As he reached the door of his room she flung herself before him, but he pushed her on one side with his feet and shut the door behind him as he entered.

Lying on the threshold, she heard the bolt fastened, and knew the last act of the tragedy was begun.





XI—HUSBAND AND WIFE

As Gregorio entered the room, Xantippe, who was kneeling by a box into which she was placing clothes neatly folded, turned her head and said laughingly:

"You are impatient, my friend; I have nearly—"

But recognising Gregorio, she did not finish the sentence. She sat down on the edge of the box. Her face became white, and the blood left her lips. With a great effort she remained quiet and folded her hands on her lap.

Gregorio looked at her for a moment, a cruel smile making his sinister face appear almost terrible, and his bloodshot eyes glared at her savagely. At last he broke the silence by shouting her name hoarsely, making at the same time a movement toward her. He looked like a wild animal about to spring upon his prey. Xantippe, however, did not flinch, answering softly:

"I am not deaf. What do you want here?"

"It is my room; I suppose I have a right to be here."

"I apologise for having intruded."

"None of your smooth speeches. The Englishman has schooled you carefully, I see. Can you say 'good-bye' in English yet?"

"Why should I say 'good-bye'?"

"It is time. You will come back to me now."

"Never."

Gregorio laughed hysterically and stood beside her. His fingers played with her hair. In spite of her fear lest she should irritate him, Xantippe shrank from his touch. Gregorio noticed her aversion and said savagely:

"You must get used to me, Xantippe. From to-night we live together again. It is not necessary now for you to earn money."

"I shall not come back to you. I have told you I hate you. It is your own fault that I leave you."

"It will be my fault if you do leave me."

He pushed her on to the mattress and held her there.

"Let us talk," he said.

For a few minutes there was silence, and then he continued:

"Amos is dead, and our debts are paid."

"How did you pay them?"

"With this," and as he spoke he touched the handle of his knife. "Don't shudder; he deserved it, and I shall be safe in a few days. These affairs are quickly forgotten. Besides, there is another reason why we should not live as we have lately been living."

Xantippe opened her eyes as she asked, "What reason?"

Gregorio relaxed his hold, for the memory of his loss shook him with sobs. Cat-like, Xantippe had waited her opportunity and sprang away from his grasp. The movement brought the man to his senses. He rushed at her with an oath, waving the knife in his hand. Xantippe prepared to defend herself. They stood, desperate, before each other, neither daring to begin the struggle. Through the awful silence came the sound of sobs and a plaintive voice crying:

"Gregorio, come back, leave her; I love you."

"Is Madam Marx outside?" hissed Xantippe.

"Yes."

"Then go to her. I tell you I hate you." She pointed to the half-filled box—"I was going to leave here to-night. I will never return to you."

"You were going with the Englishman?"

"He is a man."

Gregorio paused a moment, then in a suppressed voice, half choking at the words, said:

"Our son—do you know what has happened to him? You shall not leave me."

"I know about our son. I am glad to think he is away from your evil influence. Let me pass." Xantippe moved toward the door, but Gregorio seized her by the throat.

"You are glad our son is killed; you helped Amos to kill him."

Rage and despair impelled him. Laughing brutally, he struck her on the breast, and, as he tottered, sent his knife deep into her heart. For a few seconds he stood over her exulting, and then opened the door. Madam Marx, white with fear, rushed into the room. Seeing the murdered woman, a look of triumph came into her eyes. But it was a momentary triumph, for she realised at once the gravity of the crime. She had little pity or sorrow to waste on the dead, but she was full of concern for the safety of the murderer.

"This is a bad night's work, Gregorio."

"Is it? She deserved death. I am glad I killed her. God, how peacefully I shall sleep tonight!"

"This is a worse matter than the other, my friend; you must get away from here at once."

"Let us leave the corpse; I am thirsty," Gregorio answered, callously. With a last look at Xantippe dead upon the floor, the two left the room and made fast the bolt before descending the stairs. As they emerged from the doorway into the street, some police rode by, and Gregorio trembled a little as he stood watching them.

"I want a drink; I am trembling," he said, huskily, and followed Madam Marx into the shop.

The sun was beginning to rise, and already signs of a new life were stirring. The day-workers appeared at the windows and in the streets.

"You must get away at night, Gregorio, and keep hidden all day."

"All right. Give me some wine. I can arrange better when my thirst is satisfied."

After drinking deeply he turned and laughed. "It has been a busy time since sunset."

Then, as if a new idea suddenly struck him, he queried cunningly, "There will be a reward offered?"

"I suppose so."

"Then you will be a rich woman."

Madam Marx flung herself at his feet and wept bitterly. The blow was a cruel one indeed. Eagerly she entreated him to retract his words. She reminded him of all she had done for him, of all she would still do. A sort of eloquence came to her as she pleaded her cause, and Gregorio, weary with excitement, kissed her as he asked:

"But why should you not give me up?"

"Because I love you."

Neither blood nor cruelty could stain him in her eyes.

At last her passion spent itself; calmed and soothed by Gregorio's caress she realised again the danger her lover ran. Vainly were plans discussed; no fair chance of escape seemed open. At last Gregorio said:

"I shall leave here to-night for Ramleh and live in the desert for a time. If you help me we can manage easily. When my beard is grown I can get back here safely enough, and the matter will be forgotten. You must collect food and take it by train to the last station, and get the box buried by Ahmed near the palace. I can creep toward it at night unseen."

"But I will come to you at night and bring food and drink."

"No. That would only attract attention. You must not leave your customers. But the drink is the worst part of the matter. I must have water. Get as many ostrich-eggs as you can, and fill them with water, and seal them. Hide these with the food, and I will carry some of them into the farther desert and bury them there."

"Gregorio, if all comes right you will not be sorry you killed her?"

"She hated me. I shall not be sorry."

And Madam Marx smiled and forgot her fears.





XII—IN THE DESERT AND ON THE SEA

By the last train leaving Alexandria for Ramleh, the next evening, Gregorio sought to escape his pursuers. He had heard from Ahmed on the platform, just before starting, that Xantippe's body had been discovered, and that already the police were on his track. He sat in a corner of a third-class carriage closely muffled, and eyeing his neighbours suspiciously. He sighed with relief as the train moved out of the station and began to pass by the sand-hills and white villas, showing ghost-like in the damp mist.

When he reached St. Antonio he saw the lights of the casino blazing cheerfully, and the pure clear desert air invigorated him. Fascinated by the glare, he strolled toward the casino and decided, in spite of the risk, to enter. He watched from a corner the players, and greedily coveted the masses of gold and silver piled in pyramids behind the croupiers. He heard the violins playing Suppe's overture, and the remembrance came vividly to him of the Paradiso and the fair girl with whom the Englishman talked. The exciting events following that evening passed before him—a lurid panorama.

An hour fled quickly away; then he sought the solitude of the desert, and, having collected into a bag as much food and as many eggs as he could carry, he walked away over the sands.

Under the stars he dug holes wherein to bury the eggs, and marked the spots with stones; then, wrapping himself in his cloak, lay down to sleep. All next day he loitered idly about, shunning the gaze of every wandering Arab. When evening came he drew near to the palace to seek for food. To his horror, the box had not been refilled. At first he hardly realised how awful was his plight. Then the truth dawned upon him. Ahmed and Madam Marx must have been arrested. He drew near to the casino and stood under the open windows listening. A cold shudder ran down his back, his face grew pale, and his lips trembled, for he heard two men discussing the murder and the capture of his friends. An involuntary smile lighted up the gloom of his features for a moment as one remarked that the chief offender, the woman's husband, had eluded pursuit. Then he crept back into the desert and waited for the dawn.

The sun rose, fiery and relentless, glittering on the waters of Aboukir, and the cloudless heaven blazed like a prairie on fire. At midday, when its rays fell straight upon him, his thirst became intense, and with feverish fingers he dug up an egg. It was empty. He tossed it away and dragged himself to another hole. The second egg was empty. In turn he dug up all his eggs, and all alike were empty. Improperly sealed, scantily covered by the sand, the water had evaporated. A great despair seized him; he called on God in his anguish, and the silence of the desert terrified him. In a fit of desolate anger he pulled off his cap, and summoned all the saints, Christ, and God Himself, to enter it, and then trampled on it, laughing wildly. Then he flung himself upon the sand, his head still left bare to the pitiless sun. He knew the end had come, but there was not any regret in his heart for his crimes, only an impotent dismay and anger at his solitary condition. The thirst increased every minute, and he gripped the sand with his fingers in his agony. His last word was an oath.

At sunset he was dead.

Two days later Madam Marx left Alexandria by train for Ramleh. There was no evidence against her, and she had soon been released. Her own trouble scarcely disconcerted her; she had feared only for the Greek in the desert. The thought of his agony, his hunger, goaded her nearly to madness; but she was a little comforted when she remembered the eggs. There was enough water in them to last him two or three days. It was the hour of sunset when she arrived, and she instantly set out desertward, carrying a basket containing wine and food. She had determined to live at the hotel until the days of persecution were past. The heavy sand made it hard to proceed rapidly, but she struggled on bravely, and when far enough from civilisation called aloud the signal-word agreed on. But no one answered. All through the night she wandered, searching, till within an hour of sunrise; then she gave way and sat weeping on the sand. With daylight she rose to her feet, determined to find her lover, but had scarcely gone twenty yards before, with a low cry of grief, she knelt beside the body of a dead man. In the half-eaten, decayed features she recognised Gregorio and knew she had come too late. Undeterred by the hideous spectacle, she kissed him tenderly and lay beside him.

The sun mounted slowly in the heavens.

The living figure lay as lifeless as the dead. But after a while the woman rose and dug with her hands a hollow in the sand. She heeded not the heat, nor the flight of time, and by evening her work was done.

Raising the body in her arms, she carried it to the hollow and laid it gently down, then tearfully shovelled back the sand till it was hidden. So Gregorio found a tomb. Nor did it remain unconsecrated, for beside it Madam Marx knelt and spoke with faltering lips the remnants of the prayers she had learned when a child. As she prayed she watched vaguely a steamer disappear behind the horizon.

The khedival mail-boat Ramses sped swiftly over the unruffled surface of the sea. At the stern a tall fair Englishman sat looking on the level shores of Egypt and the minarets of Alexandria. With a sad smile he turned to the child who called to him by his name. They were a strange pair, for the boy was dark, and foreign-looking, and there was something of cunning in his restless black eyes. The man's large hand rested softly on the raven curls of the youngster as he muttered to himself:

"For her sake I will watch over you, and you shall grow up to be a true man."

So Xantippe's life had not been lived in vain, for she had loved and been loved, and her memory was sweet to her lover. Moreover, Gregorio's dreams of wealth for his son were to find fulfilment, and the sand of the desert, maybe, lies lightly on him.