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Said’s Adventures
by [?]

On coming to an open place surrounded by the tents, they halted. The prisoners were bound together in pairs, and the booty carried into the tents, while Said was bound separately and led into a tent larger than the others, where sat an elderly and finely dressed man, whose proud bearing denoted him to be the chief of this tribe. The men who had brought Said in approached the chief with a sad air and with bowed heads. “The howling of the women has informed me of what has happened,” said their majestic leader, looking from one to the other of his men; “your manner confirms it–Almansor has fallen.”

“Almansor has fallen,” repeated the men, “but here, Selim, Ruler of the Desert, is his murderer, and we bring him here that you may decide as to the form of death that shall be inflicted on him. Shall we make a target of him for our arrows? shall we force him to run the gauntlet of our lances? or do you decree that he shall be hung or torn asunder by horses?”

“Who are you?” asked Selim, looking darkly at the prisoner, who, although doomed to death, stood before his captors with a courageous air.

Said replied to his question briefly and frankly.

“Did you kill my son by stealth? Did you pierce him from behind with an arrow or a lance?”

“No, Sire!” returned Said. “I killed him in an open fight, face to face, while he was attacking our caravan, because he had killed eight of my companions before my eyes.”

“Does he speak the truth?” asked Selim of the men who had captured Said.

“Yes, Sire, he killed Almansor in a fair fight,” replied one of the men.

“Then he has done no more and no less than we should have done in his place,” returned Selim; “he fought his enemy, who would have robbed him of liberty and life, and killed him; therefore, loose his bonds at once!”

The men looked at him in astonishment, and obeyed his order in a slow and unwilling manner.

“And shall the murderer of your son, the brave Almansor, not die?” asked one of them, casting a look of hate at Said. “Would that we had disposed of him on the spot!”

“He shall not die!” exclaimed Selim. “I will take him into my own tent, as my fair share of the booty, and he shall be my servant.”

Said could find no words in which to express his thanks. The men left the tent grumbling; and when they communicated Selim’s decision to the women and children, who were waiting outside, they were greeted by terrible shrieks and lamentations, and threats were made that they would avenge Almansor’s death on his murderer themselves, because his own father would not take vengeance.

The other captives were divided among the tribe. Some were released, in order that they might obtain ransom for the rich merchants; others were sent out as shepherds with the flocks; and many who had formerly been waited upon by ten slaves, were doomed to perform menial services in this camp. Not so with Said, however. Was it his courageous and heroic manner, or the mysterious influence of a kind fairy, that attached Selim to him so strongly? It would be hard to say; but Said lived in the chief’s tent more as a son than as servant. Soon, however, the strange partiality of the old chief drew down on Said the hatred of the other servants. He met everywhere only savage looks, and if he went alone through the camp he heard on all sides curses and threats directed against him, and more than once arrows had flown by close to his breast–and that they did not hit him he ascribed to the silver whistle that he wore constantly in his bosom. He often complained to Selim of these attempts on his life; but the chiefs efforts to discover the would-be assassin were in vain, for the whole tribe seemed to be in league against the favored stranger. So Selim said to him one day: “I had hoped that you might possibly replace the son who fell by your hand. It is not your fault or mine that this could not be. All feel bitter hatred toward you, and it is not in my power to protect you for the future, for how would it benefit either you or myself to bring the guilty ones to punishment after they had stealthily killed you? Therefore, when the men return from their present expedition, I will say to them that your father has sent me a ransom, and I will send you by some trusty men across the desert.”