صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

The Emperor was attended by this nobleman, by Phranza, by one or two officers of the native troops, by the secretary who had drawn up the document which had just been signed, and by a tall, bony, stern-looking Frank, very strongly built, with a pleasing and open countenance, but with a certain look of sleepiness about his eyes, which might have led a physiognomist to declare him deficient in energy. This was the famous Justiniani.


"Here," said Constantine, "is your warrant for assuming the command of all the vessels now lying at Chios. They are absolutely to obey your directions, and our instructions to you are to relieve the city at any risk, even you have to encounter the whole force of the enemy. The accounts we have this evening received of the magazines-my lords, this goes no further than these wallsare dreadful. We have but sixty-five barrels of gunpowder left; and provisions are beginning to run short. We must from this day diminish the allowance of the city one fourth, for all not engaged in actual service."

De Rushton knelt, and took the warrant: "My lord Cæsar," said he, "have I your Majesty's leave to make my own choice of the means for getting out of the city ?" Certainly, my lord.”


"Then, sire, it would be by land." And he mentioned. the reasons for such a course which had been detailed to him by Burstow, amplifying them with one or two arguments which had occurred to himself.


"It does seem the best plan," said the Emperor. "What say you, Justiniani ?"

"I think it has the less risk of the two, sire: though there is danger in both. But I envy you, my Lord Acolyth-you have a fair field open to you to win immortal glory."

"Then, General Justiniani, you must have the goodness to write me a pass for the Silivri gate-that is where I shall leave the city."

"Have I your Majesty's leave ?" inquired the Genoese. Constantine bowed his head; and advancing to the table Justiniani bent over it, and wrote as follows:

"To the serjeant on guard at the Silivri gate. Allow Sir Edward de Rushton"- -"how many attendants, Lord Acolyth ?"

[ocr errors][merged small]

"And one attendant to pass out this night. April 14. Saturday. As witness my hand.-JUSTINIANI."

"The result of this scheme," said Constantine, "is in GOD's hands, and to Him we cheerfully leave it. We know well that all that heroism, skill, and courage can do, will be done by you, my lord; and so to His care we very heartily commit you."

Bidding farewell to the rest of the assembled party, Sir Edward de Rushton rejoined Burstow, with the intelligence that he had a pass for the Silivri gate.

"That is well, my lord. The next thing to be done is to equip you as a Turk: I will bring you a dress which I think will suit you if you will go home."

In about half-an-hour, the two adventurers were equipped; and, not without exciting a good deal of attention even at that late hour in the city, and being once or twice compelled to produce their pass, they proceeded through the Contoscalion, by the church of S. Parasceve, by that of S. Theodore, and so finally presented themselves at the Silivri gate.

"You don't imagine we are going to let you pass ?" cried the soldier on guard.

"Call the serjeant of the watch, if you do not know me, fellow," replied Sir Edward. And that officer being

summoned, and having read the document, made a low obeisance to the Great Acolyth, whom he had not previously recognised; and gave orders that the gates should instantly be opened. This was done: and De Rushton and Burstow found themselves on a clear twilight night without the walls of the Imperial City.


"Remember, my lord," said Burstow, "if we stopped, I am Mustapha and you are Abdallah,-brothers, -and we are going to Rhodosto to see our father, having been for some time on board the fleet."

"If I have to speak," said Sir Edward, "my accent will betray me at once."

"You must leave the speaking to me, my lord;-and, if it is so that you cannot help it, you must answer yes, or no, or that you don't know, as briefly as possible.— But I hope we may escape. I see they have not carried on the trenches on this side."

In silence and obscurity they pursued their way towards Athyra, for nearly a quarter of a mile; when just as they were beginning to flatter themselves that the danger was over, a Turkish sentinel came out from a miserable hovel on the right hand.

[ocr errors]

Stand, ho!" he cried ;-" the word!"

"How should I know the word, comrade ?" said Burstow. "We are but just from the fleet-landed under the very wall-the dogs keep bad guard, they let us pass."

"But I must have the word," persisted the man. "Then, by the Prophet, you must tell it us first," said the other.

"I must take you to my officer," said the sentinel, 66 our orders are strict."

"Come, comrade, come," said Burstow, "you won't be so harsh. We have had a world of trouble to get leave of absence from Baltha Ogli: he is as strict as a Dragon :

and now to be stopped at the beginning of our journey, is too much, by Mahomet."

"Where are you going ?" inquired the soldier.

"As far as Rhodosto," answered the Varangian, "to see our father, my brother Abdallah, and I."

The sentinel seemed as if he would have allowed them to pass: when three persons, who appeared to be officers of rank, though they were enveloped from head to foot in simple military cloaks, came up.

"How now ?" said the foremost of them, a man apparently about five and twenty years in age, with a bright piercing eye that seemed to flash as it reflected the sentinel's torch, an aquiline nose, a clear decided voice, and a good, but somewhat haughty expression of countenance. "How now? what is the dispute?"

"These soldiers desire to pass without the word," replied the sentinel.

"How? without the word? fellows ?"

Do you not know it,

"How should we? We' fleet, and unless we di

"No," said Burstow, briefly. are poor fellows, just from the vined it, we had no chance of knowing the word. We left the fleet before it was given out."

"By the thirty-seven thousand prophets!" said the first speaker, "they are spies! Have them before the Aga, sentinel!"'

"You lie," replied Burstow. "If the Sultan were here, he would see justice done us; but among your Agas and your Pashas one has a poor chance."

[ocr errors]

Why would the Sultan let you pass, sirrah ?"

"Because he has as much wit in his little finger, as his officers in their whole body, and he would see at once that we were speaking the truth."

"By the Black Stone! I do believe it," said the Sul

tan, for it was no other than Mahomet himself.


them pass, sentinel!" and the astonished sentinel fell prostrate on the ground: imitated by Burstow, and rather unwillingly by Sir Edward.

"Go on, good fellows,-we can see that you are honest men. Ha! said he well, Pasha ?"

"Your highness's knowledge is as that of the Prophet," said the obsequious Calil.

"Where are you going, sirrah?" asked Mahomet, who frequently went forth on such nocturnal excursions,familiar to him from his very youth by the Thousand and One Nights.

"To Rhodosto, may it please your highness." "What do you there ?"

"We go to visit our father, your highness."

Well,-pass on :—and you, good sentinel, we commend you for your vigilance. Come, my lord Pasha."

No sooner were the Varangian and his leader beyond the hearing of the sentinel, than De Rushton said,-"S. Mary be praised! That was an escape."

"I knew him, my lord, by his voice. I thought it was he when he came up; that speech of mine about the Sultan did the business, and now, I warrant me, he goes back thinking he has done a good action, and it will be in the mouths of all the eunuchs by this time to-morrow. So men deceive themselves. But we must on, my lord. I have a kind of cousin at Athyra, who I make no doubt will let us hire a couple of horses of him, and then on to Silivri as we best may. There we must try to find a boat across the strait."

« السابقةمتابعة »