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The Story Of Almansor
by [?]

Sire, the men who have preceded me have told wonderful stories which they had heard in strange lands; whilst I must confess with shame that I do not know a single tale that is worthy of your attention. Nevertheless if it will not weary you, I will relate the strange history of one of my friends.

On the Algerian privateer, from which your generous hand set me free, was a young man of my own age who did not seem to have been born to the slave-costume that he wore. The other unfortunates on the ship were either rough, coarse people, with whom I did not care to associate or people whose language I did not understand; therefore, every moment that I had to myself was spent in the company of this young man. He called himself Almansor, and, judging from his speech, was an Egyptian. We were well pleased to be in each other’s society, and one day we chanced to tell our stories to one another; and I discovered that my friend’s story was far more remarkable than my own. Almansor’s father was a prominent man in an Egyptian city, whose name he failed to give me. The days of his childhood passed pleasantly, surrounded by all the splendor and comfort earth could give. At the same time, he was not too tenderly nurtured, and his mind was early cultivated: for his father was a wise man who taught him the value of virtue, and provided him with a teacher who was a famous scholar, and who instructed him in all that a young man should know. Almansor was about ten years old when the Franks came over the sea to invade his country and wage war upon his people.

The father of this boy could not have been very favorably regarded by the Franks, for one day, as he was about to go to morning prayers, they came and demanded first his wife as a pledge of his faithful adherence to the Franks, and when he would not give her up, they seized his son and carried him off to their camp.

When the young slave had got this far in his story, the sheik hid his face in his hands, and there arose a murmur of indignation in the salon. “How can the young man there be so indiscreet?” cried the friends of the sheik, “and tear open the wounds of Ali Banu by such stories, instead of trying to heal them? How can he recall his anguish, instead of trying to dissipate it?” The steward, too, was very angry with the shameless youth, and commanded him to be silent. But the young slave was very much astonished at all this, and asked the sheik whether there was any thing in what he had related that had aroused his displeasure. At this inquiry, the sheik lifted his head, and said: “Peace, my friends; how can this young man know any thing about my sad misfortune, when he has not been under this roof three days! might there not be a case similar to mine in all the cruelties the Franks committed? May not perhaps this Almansor himself—-but proceed, my young friend!” The young slave bowed, and continued:

The young Almansor was taken to the enemy’s camp. On the whole, he was well treated there, as one of the generals took him into his tent, and being pleased with the answers of the boy that were interpreted to him, took care to see that he wanted for nothing in the way of food and clothes. But the homesickness of the boy made him very unhappy. He wept for many days; but his tears did not move the hearts of these men to pity. The camp was broken, and Almansor believed that he was now about to be returned to his home; but it was not so. The army moved here and there, waged war with the Mamelukes, and took the young Almansor with them wherever they went. When he begged the generals to let him return home, they would refuse, and tell him that he would have to remain with them as a hostage for his father’s neutrality. Thus was he for many days on the march.