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The Veiled Man by William Le Queux

Produced by Nick Hodson of London, England

The Veiled Man Being an Account of the Risks and Adventures of Sidi Ahamadou, Sheikh of the Azjar Marauders of the Great Sahara By William Le Queux Illustrations by Alfred Pearce

The Veiled Man, by William Le Queux.


________________________________________________________________________ THE VEILED MAN, BY WILLIAM LE QUEUX.



The remarkable adventures of the notorious robber-sheikh Ahamadou, "the Abandoned of Allah," once the terror of the Areg Desert, but now friendly to the French, were collected during a journey across the Great Sahara. In the belief that some description of the wild life of the Desert, with its romance and mystery, told by one upon whose head a price was set for twelve years, and who a dozen times narrowly escaped capture, may interest those fond of adventure, I have translated, edited, and presented these reminiscences in their present form.



During half a century of constant wandering over the silent sunlit sands, of tribal feuds, of revolts, battle and pillage, of bitter persistent hatreds, of exploit, foray, and fierce resistance against the lounging Spahis, cigarette-smoking Zouaves, black-faced Turcos, and swaggering Chasseurs of the French, I have met with some curious adventures, and have witnessed wonders more remarkable, perhaps, than many of the romances related by the Arab story-tellers. They mostly occurred before I was chosen sheikh of the Azjar; when I was simply one of a band of desert-pirates, whose only possessions were a long steel lance, a keen, finely-tempered poignard, and a white stallion, the speed of which was unequalled by those of my companions. A thief I was by birth; a scholar I had become by studying the _Tarik_, the _Miraz_, the _Ibtihadj_, and the Koran, under the Marabut Essoyouti in Algiers; a philosopher I fain would be. When riding over the great limitless red-brown sands, I was apt to forget the race whence I sprang, the learning that had made me wise, the logical reasonings of a well-schooled brain, and give myself up with all the rapture of an intense enthusiasm to the emotion of the hour. It was the same always. Essoyouti, a scholar renowned throughout Tripoli and Tunis, had versed me in legendary lore, until I had become full of glowing fancies and unutterable longing to penetrate the entrancing mysteries to which he had so often referred as problems that could never be solved.

I am a Veiled Man. Openly, I confess myself a vagabond and a brigand. Living here, in the heart of the Great Desert, six moons march from Algiers, and a thousand miles beyond the French outposts, theft is, with my nomadic tribe, their natural industry--a branch of education, in fact. We augment the meagreness of our herds by extorting ransoms from some of our neighbours, and completely despoiling others. Mention of the name of Ahamadou causes the face of the traveller on any of the caravan routes between the Atlas mountains and Lake Tsad to pale beneath its bronze, for as sheikh of the most powerful piratical tribe in the Sahara, I have earned an unenviable notoriety as leader of "The Breath of the Wind," while the Arabs themselves have bestowed upon my people three epithets which epitomise their psychology: "Thieves, Hyenas, and Abandoned of Allah."

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