Part 10, Chapter 12

Part X

Chapter 12

AFTER all his exertions, Alroy fell into profound and dreamless sleep. When he awoke, the sun had been long up. Schirene was still slumbering. He embraced her, and she opened her eyes and smiled.

‘You are now a bandit’s bride,’ he said. ‘How like you our new life?’

‘Well! with thee.’

‘Rest here, my sweetest: I must rouse our men, and see how fortune speeds.’ So saying, and tripping lightly over many a sleeping form, he touched Benaiah.

‘So! my brave captain of the guard, still napping! Come! stir, stir.’

Benaiah jumped up with a cheerful face. ‘I am ever ready, Sire.’

‘I know it; but remember I am no more a king, only a co-mate. Away with me, and let us form some order.’

The companions quitted the amphitheatre and reconnoitred the adjoining buildings. They found many stores, the remains of old days, mats, tents, and fuel, drinking-bowls, and other homely furniture. They fixed upon a building for their stable, and others for the accommodation of their band. They summoned their companions to the open place, the scene of Hassan Subah’s fate, where Alroy addressed them and explained to them his plans. They were divided into companies; each man had his allotted duty. Some were placed on guard at different parts; some were sent out to the chase, or to collect dates from the Oasis; others led the horses to the contiguous pasture, or remained to attend to their domestic arrangements. The amphitheatre was cleared out. A rude but convenient pavilion was formed for Schirene. They covered its ground with mats, and each emulated the other in his endeavours to study her accommodation. Her kind words and inspiring smiles animated at the same time their zeal and their invention.

They soon became accustomed to their rough but adventurous life. Its novelty pleased them, and the perpetual excitement of urgent necessity left them no time to mourn over their terrible vicissitudes. While Alroy lived, hope indeed never deserted their sanguine bosoms. And such was the influence of his genius, that the most desponding felt that to be discomfited with him was preferable to conquest with another. They were a faithful and devoted band, and merry faces were not wanting when at night they assembled in the amphitheatre for their common meal.

No sooner had Alroy completed his arrangements than he sent forth spies in all directions to procure intelligence, and especially to communicate, if possible, with Ithamar and Medad, provided that they still survived and maintained themselves in any force.

A fortnight passed away without the approach of any stranger; at the end of which, there arrived four personages at their haunt, not very welcome to their chief, who, however, concealed his chagrin at their appearance. These were Kisloch the Kourd, and Calidas the Indian, and their inseparable companions, the Guebre and the Negro.