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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

Is not Iftikhar lord of Jerusalem


CHAPTER XLVI

HOW IFTIKHAR CEASED FROM TROUBLING

When the Arabian's eyes lit upon Mary, Morgiana gave a little cry, ran to the Greek, and caught her in her arms. For a moment the two were so wrapt in the joy of meeting that all else was forgot. But quick as the first flood of gladness passed, Morgiana broke forth with the eager demand:--

"Musa? Musa? where is the Spanish emir?"

"Upon the walls, where are all the chieftains," was the wondering Greek's answer.

"_Wallah!_ and when will he return?" ran on Morgiana, beginning to tremble as Mary held her, as though in some mastering dread.

"I do not know; at any time,--now,--or not till midnight. Dear God--what has befallen? what may I do? You are turning pale, and your hands are cold!"

"Allah have mercy on us both, unless Musa comes! Iftikhar has discovered you!" cried Morgiana, calming herself with a mighty effort. And now it was the Greek's turn to tremble.

"Iftikhar?"--the word came across her pallid lips faint as a dying groan. "How? When? Speak, as you love me--"

Morgiana thrust back the dark hair that had fallen over her eyes, and drew herself up half scornfully.

"Foolish woman! Is there not sorrow enough, that you need make more? Why did you wander into the streets at sundown? Why did you let the veil slip from your face? Zeyneb, my foster-brother, whom the sheytans love and the angels hate, looked on you,--followed you,--saw you enter the house, and sped straight to Iftikhar! Speak--speak--" and the Arabian plucked at Mary's arm fiercely, while in her eyes was again the mad gleam of old. "Why should I not curse you? you who have wronged me, utterly! When I was just winning back Iftikhar's love, and all the evil past was being forgot!--now--now I have lost him once more. And you--you are my ruin. As Allah lives I will curse you, and your lily-white beauty!"

Mary was indeed white as the lily, or whiter, if that may be; but she caught both of Morgiana's wrists and held fast. Under the calm influence shed from her eyes the Arabian's wandering gaze grew steady.

"Enough!"--she cut the other short--"you did not come hither only for maledictions. How have you learned? What will Iftikhar do?"

"Learned?"--Morgiana threw back her head and laughed. "I heard Zeyneb repeating all to Iftikhar. Do? I only saw the Egyptian's face--the passion, the longing, the hate. He will come to seize you without delay. Not even Musa can save you. Is not Iftikhar lord of Jerusalem? I wonder he is not here already, finding I have fled his harem at the Castle of David."

But Mary remained calm.

"Tell me, my sister, what am I to do? You are all wits. Better death by fire than one touch from Iftikhar."

"The Christian camp," pleaded the Arabian. "There are friends, your husband, safety. Oh, were but Musa here, you could be sent without the walls ere it is too late."

"By the water-clock it lacks midnight an hour," said Mary, quietly. "The Spaniard may be here any moment. But I cannot dream that Iftikhar, at a time like this,--with the very city at stake,--will forget all, quit his duty on the walls, to tear a defenceless maid away to his harem."

Morgiana laughed again, very bitterly. "Fool you are, in very truth! Iftikhar cares more for the lashes of your eyes than for a thousand Jerusalems,--for a thousand of his own lives. You will be at his mercy before daybreak, though the Christian cavaliers sack the city."


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