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Said’s Adventures
by [?]

But, sad to relate, he was doomed to experience on the following day how perishable were all his dreams, sleeping or waking. The caravan had made its way along in easy stages for the greater part of the day, Said keeping his place at the side of his elderly companion, when a dark cloud was seen on the horizon. Some held it to be a sand-storm, others thought it was clouds, and still others were of opinion that it was another caravan. But Said’s companion, who was an old traveller, cried out in a loud voice that they should be on their guard, for this was a horde of Arab robbers approaching. The men seized their weapons, the women and the goods were placed in the centre, and everything made ready against an attack. The dark mass moved slowly over the plain, resembling an immense flock of storks taking their flight to distant lands. By-and-by, they came on faster, and hardly was the caravan able to distinguish men and lances, when, with the speed of the wind, the robbers swarmed around them.

The men defended themselves bravely, but the robbers, who were over four hundred strong, surrounded them on all sides, killed many from a distance, and then, made a charge with their lances. In this fearful moment, Said, who had fought among the foremost, was reminded of his whistle. He drew it forth hastily, put it to his lips, and blew; but let it drop again in disappointment, for it gave out not the slightest sound. Enraged over this cruel disillusion, he took aim at an Arab conspicuous by his splendid costume, and shot him through the breast. The man swayed in his saddle, and fell from his horse.

“Allah! what have you done, young man?” exclaimed the old man at his side. “Now we are all lost!” And thus it seemed, for no sooner did the robbers see this man fall, than they raised a terrible cry, and closed in on the caravan with such resistless force that the few who remained unwounded were soon scattered. In another moment. Said found himself surrounded by five or six of the enemy. He handled his lance so dexterously, however, that not one of them dared approach him very closely; at last one of them bent his bow, took aim, and was just about to let the arrow fly, when another of the robbers stopped him. The young man prepared for some new mode of attack; but before he saw their design, one of the Arabs had thrown a lasso over his head, and, try as he might to remove the rope, his efforts were unavailing–the noose was drawn tighter and tighter, and Said was a prisoner.

The caravan was finally captured, and the Arabs, who did not all belong to one tribe, divided the prisoners and the remaining booty between them, and left the scene of the encounter, part of them riding off to the South and the remainder to the East. Near Said rode four armed guards, who often glared at him angrily, uttering savage oaths. From all this, Said concluded, that it must have been one of their leaders, very likely a prince, whom he had slain. The prospect of slavery was to him much worse than that of death; so he secretly thanked his stars that he had drawn the vengeance of the whole horde on himself, for he did not doubt that they would kill him when they reached their camp. The guards watched his every motion, and if he but turned his head, they threatened him with their spears; but once, when the horse of one of his guards stumbled, he turned his head quickly, and was rejoiced at the sight of his fellow-traveller whom he had believed was among the dead.

Finally, trees and tents were seen in the distance; and as they drew nearer, they were met by a crowd of women and children, who had exchanged but a few words with the robbers, when they broke out into loud cries, and all looked at Said, shook their fists, and uttered imprecations on his head. “That is he,” shrieked they, “who has killed the great Almansor, the bravest of men! he shall die, and we will throw his flesh to the jackals of the desert for prey.” Then they rushed at Said so ferociously, with sticks and whatever missiles they could lay their hands on, that the robbers had to throw themselves between the women and the object of their wrath. “Be off, you scamps! away you women!” cried they, dispersing the rabble with their lances; “he has killed the great Almansor in battle, and he shall die; not by the hand of a woman, but by the sword of the brave.”