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The Rescue Of Fatima
by [?]

My brother Mustapha and my sister Fatima were of nearly the same age. He was at the most, but two years older. They were devotedly attached to one another, and together strove, by every means in their power, to lighten the burden of our sick father’s years.

On Fatima’s sixteenth birthday, my brother arranged a celebration in her honor. He invited all her companions; served them with choice viands in the garden; and towards evening invited them to a ride on the sea, in a barge which he had hired, and decorated especially for the occasion. Fatima and her companions joyfully accepted the invitation, as the evening was fine, and the city viewed from the sea, especially by night, presented a magnificent appearance.

So highly did the young girls enjoy their ride, that they kept urging my brother to take them still further out to sea. Mustapha consented very unwillingly, as some days before a corsair had been seen standing off the coast. Not far from the city a point of land extended out into the sea. The young girls now expressed a desire to go there, that they might see the sun set in the sea. As they rounded the cape, they saw, at a little distance, a barge filled with armed men. With many misgivings, my brother ordered the oarsmen to turn the boat around and pull for shore. And in truth his fears did not seem to be groundless, for the other barge gave chase to them, and, having more rowers, soon overtook them–keeping in a line between my brother’s barge and the shore. When the young girls perceived their danger, they jumped up with cries and lamentations. It was in vain that Mustapha tried to quiet them; in vain did he urge them to be quiet, as, by their running about, the boat was in danger of upsetting. His entreaties were not listened to; and when finally the other boat came near, they all rushed to the further side of Mustapha’s boat and capsized it.

But in the meantime the movements of the strange boat had been watched from land, and as for some time past fears had been entertained of corsairs, several barges pushed out from shore to render assistance to my brother. They arrived just in time to pick up the drowning ones. In the excitement, the hostile boat escaped; and in the two barges on which the rescued had been placed, there was some uncertainty as to whether all had been saved. These two boats were brought side by side, and alas! it was found that my sister and one of her companions were missing. At the same moment a man whom no one knew was discovered on one of the barges. Mustapha’s threats extorted from him the admission that he belonged to the hostile ship that lay at anchor two miles to the eastward, and that his companions, in their hasty flight, had left him while he was in the very act of assisting the young girls out of the water. He further said that he had seen two of them drawn into the boat to which he belonged.

The anguish of my aged father was intense. Mustapha, too, was nearly wild with grief–not alone because his beloved sister was lost, and he must blame himself as the author of her misfortune, but the companion of Fatima’s sad fate was his betrothed, though he had never dared to mention that circumstance to our father, as the young lady’s parents were poor and low-born.

But my father was a stern man. As soon as he was able to control his grief, he sent for Mustapha, and said to him: “Your folly has robbed me of the comfort of my old age, and the light of my eyes. Go! I banish you forever from my sight; I curse you and all your descendants; and only when you bring Fatima back to me, shall your father’s curse be lifted.”