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Said’s Adventures
by [?]

“But could I trust myself with any of these men?” asked Said in amazement. “Would they not kill me on the way?”

“The oath that they will take before me will protect you; it has never yet been broken,” replied Selim calmly.

Some days after this the men returned to camp, and Selim kept his promise. He presented the young man with weapons, clothes and a horse, summoned all the available men, and chose five of their number to conduct Said across the desert, and bound them by a formidable oath not to kill him, and then took leave of Said with tears.

The five men rode moodily and silently through the desert with Said, who noticed how unwillingly they were fulfilling their commission; and it caused him not a little anxiety to find that two of them were present at the time he killed Almansor. When they were about an eight hours’ journey from the camp. Said heard the men whispering among themselves, and remarked that their manner was more and more sullen. He tried to catch what they were saying, and made out that they were conversing in a language understood only by this tribe, and only employed by them in their secret or dangerous undertakings. Selim, whose intention it had been to keep the young man permanently with him in his tent, had devoted many hours to teaching the young man these secret words; but what he now overheard was not of the most comforting nature.

“This is the spot,” said one; “here we attacked the caravan, and here fell the bravest of men by the hand of a boy.”

“The wind has covered the tracks of his horse,” continued another, “but I have not forgotten them.”

“And shall he who laid hands on him still live and be at liberty, and thus cast reproach on us? When was it ever heard before that a father failed to revenge the death of his only son? But Selim grows old and childish.”

“And if the father neglects it,” said a fourth, “then it becomes the duty of the fallen man’s friends to avenge him. We should cut the murderer down on this spot. Such has been our law and custom for ages.”

“But we have bound ourselves by an oath to the chief not to kill this youth,” said the fifth man, “and we cannot break our oath.”

“It is true,” responded the others; “we have sworn, and the murderer is free to pass from the hands of his enemies.”

“Stop a moment!” cried one, the most sullen of them all. “Old Selim has a wise head, but is not so shrewd as he is generally credited with being. Did we swear to him that we would take this boy to this or that place? No; our oath simply bound us not to take his life, and we will leave him that; but the blistering sun and the sharp teeth of the jackals will soon accomplish our revenge for us. Here, on this spot, we can bind and leave him.”

Thus spake the robber; but Said had now prepared himself for a last desperate chance, and before the final words were fairly spoken he suddenly wheeled his horse to one side, gave him a sharp blow, and flew like a bird across the plain. The five men paused for a moment in surprise; but they were skilled in pursuit, and spread themselves out, chasing him from the right and left, and as they were more experienced in riding on the desert, two of them had soon overtaken the youth, and when he swerved to one side he found two other men there, while the fifth was at his back. The oath they had taken prevented them from using their weapons against him, so they lassoed him once more, pulled him from his horse, beat him unmercifully, bound his hands and feet, and laid him down on the burning sands of the desert.