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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

Iftikhar only laughed carelessly


"Then

by Allah that liveth and reigneth ever, they shall fail now! Let doom decree what it will, to Antioch I go, and to Gehenna speeds Richard Longsword!"

He turned on his heel, while she made no reply.

"Zeyneb," quoth he to the ever ready dwarf, "in your head are hid half my wits. You are a faithful servant. In my cause you would outwit Eblees' self. I declare, by the great name of Allah said thrice, when they proclaim Iftikhar the kalif, they shall proclaim Zeyneb the vizier."

The dwarf wagged his ears after his wont, to show how highly he prized such praise.

"In a few days," continued the grand prior, "I go to join Kerbogha. You know all my plans, my secrets. While at Antioch there may come to El Halebah from Alamont and our other strongholds messages needing instant despatch. You must answer. I give you this signet: seal them in Hassan Sabah's own name."

Iftikhar drew from his bosom a tiny silk bag, and took forth a ring set with a single emerald, worth an emir's treasure house.

"The ring of Hassan Sabah!" exclaimed the dwarf.

"_Mashallah!_ is it not a talisman?" came the reply. "Graven with the sign of the 'dirk and the cord,' no Ismaelian dare refuse anything commanded by the bearer, whosoever he be, under pain of forfeit of the pearl-walled

pavilion of Paradise. Even the bidding of a grand prior, except he be present in person to order otherwise, is over-ridden by a fisherman wearing this ring. Therefore guard as the apple of your eye. Place it in the strong box where I keep my gems; only wear the key about your neck."

The dwarf knelt and kissed his master's robe.

"Cid, you overwhelm me with your confidence! How may I requite?"

Iftikhar only laughed carelessly; the dwarf's eye roved round the room.

"Morgiana has seen and heard," suddenly he whispered.

The grand prior's answer was a second laugh. Then he added: "Morgiana? She would shed half her blood before twittering such a secret. Smell out greater dangers, my Zeyneb!"

CHAPTER XXXIII

HOW EYBEK TURNED GRAY

"And how is it with the Star of the Greeks?" repeated Musa, while Richard Longsword's face grew gnarled as a mountain oak. At the Norman's silence, the Arab also became grave as death, and in a whisper that scarce left his throat, he asked:--

"As you are my friend, tell me, was it in the mountains where they say you suffered so from thirst? or in the camp where was the plague and fever?"

Richard shook his head; then at last came the words:--

"She lives--at least I fear so!"

"Allah the Compassionate!" was the Spaniard's cry, "you 'fear' she lives?"

The Norman's casqued head was bent upon the shaggy mane of Rollo; he groaned in his agony:--


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