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suffice you to know that from first to last, from My father, Martha, is young and elegant. He larboard to starboard, I inspired universal curi- is barely thirty-nine years old. Tall, slender, osity, and was a subject of general conversation. very graceful, with deep, dark, proud eyes, a Bell soon learned the secret of this astonishing chiseled nose, and of a pale complexion. What sensation, caused by the name of the Princess more can I tell you? You already recognize the Miriam among the list of passengers first, and portrait of his daughter-in beauty. afterward, because, according to the habits and He bowed to Bell with the loveliest smile, usages of Egypt, it was an unheard-of thing, in- thanking her in some graceful sentences, and in credible and extraordinary, that my highness, very easy French, for having been willing to acseventeen years of age, should go thus without a company me to Egypt and continue her charge veil, or habarah, a shrouding robe, and without of me; after that he led me to my cabin, where guardians of the harem.
my women were awaiting me. I could not disThe seventh day rose. From daylight until embark nor show myself clothed as a European. evening we were in sight of Alexandria. It was My harem-life had begun. One could not oppose very rough, but we were on deck by day-dawn. my father. His air, his bearing, and his tone, a Bell that morning had no need to rouse me. nameless something about him, command at the Leaning against the side of the vessel, I gazed same time respect and submission. I obeyed upon the muddy stream, upon which floated a without uttering a word. At the door of my crowd of white vessels. We advanced slowly. cabin, negroes mounted guard. I entered, and Some small boats left the bank and came to meet found myself in the presence of two phantoms us. All around us the passengers, lorgnette in hidden under their habarahs—a sort of black silk hand, eagerly sought to find their friends and re- bag or sack which conceals their heads, hands, lations. It was a joyous moment for them all. and bodies—through two holes their eyes shine I sadly remembered that the ruin was the cause like glowing charcoal. A little later I went out of my return, and that I was about to fall into exactly like these phantoms, except that I wore the midst of misfortune. I repressed my tears, a white habarah and a heavy lace veil. holding tightly to Bell's arm as if I were clinging Bell was all black. I laughed as I went to her protection as the only love left me. A stumbling in my drapery, and had to walk with half hour flew thus. Trembling and anxious I the greatest care to prevent my falling down. I thought of you. The vessel stopped and an an- looked in vain for my father, the Koran forbidchor was thrown out, while the little boats crowd- ding any Mussulman to go about with a woman. ed like a flock of birds around our ship and ex- I was alone with my attendants. We took our changed signals. There was no one for me to places in a superb boat, hidden under awnings. recognize. The boatmen, clothed in a long blue On landing, a carriage was awaiting us. I enrobe, their heads covered by turbans (or takies), tered it, followed by Bella, and my attendants in with their guttural voices uttering a strange. dia- front. Think how it all must have interested lect, seemed to be heard by me for the first time. me. The costume of the rais (runners) appeared I entered my native land as a stranger. Yet charming to me. A vest embroidered in gold, under this warm light these types, these cos- with long sleeves of gauze floating like wings. tumes, this butterfly assortment of colors, this The black men mounted horses richly capariuproar and busy life—what can I say of it? soned, and rode one at each door, the blinds of My curiosity so carried me away that I forgot which had been carefully lowered by my women everything—I looked only. A very large boat in waiting. Two of the men rode in front of the with a canopy, rowed by twelve oarsmen, soon ab- carriage, and two in the rear closed the processorbed my attention. At its approach the others sion-a veritable cortège. made way. It came toward the ship leaving a Then, my dear, a strange thing occurred. light track upon the water, its twelve oars falling You know how I always have jested myself in measured cadence, its curtains flying in the about my title of princess. But this apparel, breeze. At the back a man was seated, his head these attendants, this respect, so confused me erect and haughty, his arms crossed upon his that, rather serious under the gaze of my people, breast; he was doubtless some grand personage. and as though they could see my features under When the boat reached us he rose and ascended my veil, it seemed to me as if I grew suddenly the ladder to the deck, where the captain re- greater. Laugh at me, my beauty. I was inceived him with uncovered head. What was my timidated by my own rank. I was silent, absurprise when both came toward me! When sorbed in this new róle, dazzled and charmed. they reached me the captain introduced me. The thought of my father transported me, and I Martha! This individual, to whom every one loved him already. I also already love this counpaid homage, was my father! He opened his try which is his. arms, and I threw myself into them.
The carriage stopped at the station, where all
were busy. They led us through a road forbid- He raised my veil and threw it back. den to people generally, to a car which had been “ Let me look at you," he said. secured for us. The negroes locked us in, and I stood timidly before him, but he made me staid outside themselves. Picture to yourself sit with him on the divan, holding my hand in an Arab saloon-divans, carpets, little tables in- his. Then we spoke. He inquired with solicicrusted with mother-of-pearl, and golden curtains tude of the fatigue of the voyage. I answered before the windows of extraordinary tenuity, like in Arabic, and he was delighted to see I had not the gauzy film of a fly's wing. It was impossible forgotten my mother tongue. He questioned me for any one outside to see within, but from the with tender familiarity. I related my past life, interior it was very easy to look through this introducing your mother and yourself. He gazed diaphanous curtain. I soon perceived my father on me with a sort of delighted surprise, seeking gazing on my padlocked prison. I attempted to to find my childish countenance in my present spring toward him, but the expression of my expression, and interrupting me by paternal adwomen proved that I should be guilty of great miration, at which I could not help blushing. folly. The princess would forget herself. The Then with a sweet smile he said: journey seemed interminably long to me. At “ Listen to me, Miriam. Before presenting each station our jailers showed themselves, bring- you to your family, I wish to prepare you for cering fruits, flowers, and fresh water, and keeping tain very natural surprises. You know nothing of guard at the door. At Cairo the same escort as your country, nor of us, nor our customs : you at Alexandria, horses and carriages so exactly are a child of Europe. I dread this abrupt resembling each other that it seemed as if they change in your life, for I fear you will suffer from had been brought along with us.
certain customs totally opposed to your educaYou expect, doubtless, that I will describe tion and ideas. But, while I do not wish to see Cairo, but such a reader as you are has already you suffer, you must promise, my daughter, to devoured, since my departure, all that has been render me implicit obedience, so that my happiwritten on the subject. Cairo! This country of ness in regaining you may not be disturbed by mine! I gazed through a little opening of the annoyance or dissensions.” closed blinds. What a crowd, what reveling of “Make your mind easy, father,” I warmly rich coloring, what rags, what shining array, what answered; “I will obey you." a picturesque effect, what dust, and what filth! “ I have lived in Europe," continued he, “and
We left the town, and our carriage entered a do not hide from myself all the difficulty you will superb grove of sycamores. This place is called have in keeping your promise. The harem has Choubrah. Under this arch of foliage the sun customs which, at first, will seem tyrannical to cast little spots of gold upon the dark road, while you ; afterward you will find the yoke easy and in the distance the white line of palaces deepened gentle.” yet more the sapphire tint of the Nile, where Touched by these words I assured him anew glided gently the dahabiehs—those boats with of my submission. Timidly I ventured to questwo sails extended like the wings of a bird. I tion him about my mother. She died young, at was beside myself with delight-reassured, con- twenty years of age. He also informed me that fiding, and intoxicated.
I have a brother named Ali who was educated Then we arrived at Chimilah, the place where in England. I discover that, in separating my I was born. First, we entered an immense door, brother and myself, my father yielded to the and passed through a large court; then a second influence of his first wife, whose hatred of my door was seen, on each side of which were two mother had extended to us. black boys seated upon stone benches, who ran "If I tell you these things, Miriam," he added to open it for us. The palace is vast, painted with a tinge of melancholy, “it is because there rose-color, and without other architectural dec- are details that my affection would not, could oration than the wonderfully worked gratings in not, let others inform you of. They prate a good nearly all the windows. The building has a very deal in the harems, and the slaves would have lofty rez-de-chaussée, surmounted by a single repeated them in their own fashion. This I story. At each side are two very elegant pa- wished to avoid.” vilions. The carriage stopped at the foot of a I thanked him warmly. Then, kissing me on flight of marble steps, where my father was the foreheadawaiting me, and who carried me in. A dozen “Come, now," said he, they await us." eunuchs were ranged under the peristyle. I was He rose and we passed along large galleries too agitated to observe any of the rooms through deliciously fresh and cool. Suddenly an open which we passed. Alone, we two entered a door discovered to me the most unexpected, the grand saloon, softly shaded, and opening on a strangest, the most fairy-like tableau. Here, my large veranda, blooming as a greenhouse. dear, begin “ The Thousand and One Nights."
Imagine an immense hall dazzling in gilding Farideh inquired how, having once dwelt in Paris, and silk, shaded into semi-darkness by shrubbery I could bear to live so far away from it. and flowers, filled with about fifty women, wives, The affection that I shall find here will conservants, or slaves, all clothed in wonderful cos- sole me for that which I lose,” I replied. tumes. I advanced like one in a dream. All This answer won for me the approval of Zeiwere standing, according to the strict etiquette nab, and another kiss from Saida. We soon took of the harem, motionless and silent. In the si- leave of my family, my father excusing me on the lence which welcomed the entrance of the mas- score of a fatiguing journey, and conducting me ter, two of them approached to salute him in the to my own apartment; for, with a kind foreArabic fashion, bowing very low, and carrying thought for my Christian education, he has ashis hand to their hearts, their lips, and afterward signed me an apartment where I can be free to to their foreheads. They were my father's two continue my home habits of civilization. I have wives. One, yellow and withered, though she my own house, one of the wings of the palace, was only thirty-six, apparently an invalid, who with a door opening on the garden, and my own walked dragging her sandals, wore a sort of lilac attendants, so that I can be perfectly indepensilk pelisse trimmed with fur, falling over panta- dent. A sort of gallery inclosed in glass, with loons of green silk; on her head and brow, hidden camellias and other flowers from one end to the in a little turban of silver gauze, a large band of other, separates my harem from that of Zeinab diamonds as large as peas formed a sort of dia- and Saïda. My rez-de-chaussée is the pretty dem which proclaimed her the matron. The hall in the form of a rotunda of which I have other, on the contrary, was very young, original, already told you, and a grand saloon where I and charming, her eyes greatly enlarged by a shall receive my visitors. I had scarcely entered, black circle. She had a small, delicate head when a woman rushed forward and fell at my and features of statuesque regularity-not ap- feet. pearing older than myself. A robe of rose-col- “This is Nazly, your nurse," said my father. ored satin, very open in the neck, which sparkled I raised her and took her in my arms. Twenwith diamonds, showed her graceful figure; and ty slaves then came to kiss the hem of my robe, the baggy pantaloons of cherry silk appeared and it appears I have others still. “But Egypt below the short skirt. Her hair was divided into is ruined.” a multitude of little plaits, and, intermingled with A staircase, paved with little mosaics, in the sequins, covered her back.
middle of which is placed a thick carpet, leads My father presented me to both, adding that to the first floor. There my nest is, a bijou of a he depended on them to render the customs of boudoir, where the most refined European is the harem pleasant to me. The first, Zeinab- mingled with the most fantastic Oriental luxury; Hanum, the old enemy of my mother, and cause then comes my chamber, and next it Bell's. of my long exile, bent earnestly upon me a gaze Birds, penetrating perfumes, the bright horizon, of which the hardness still remained, though the and tropical plants, heightened still more the brightness was extinguished. The second, Saida- effect of the brilliant stuffs and the harmonious Hanum, kissed me very gently on each cheek. combination of tone. I am forgetting to tell you Then came my sisters' and brothers’turn. First that my chamber possesses a bed a veritable Hosnah, aged twenty, eldest daughter of Zeinab, bed in gilded silver, which is, it appears, a redressed even more magnificently than Saïda, with cherché exotic. Bell will be compelled to teach the same lavish use of kohl, of henna, and of my women how to arrange it. It is a new art precious stones. Her extraordinary embonpoint for them; as here they all sleep on divans. amazed me. Notwithstanding the sweetest of “Behold your home," said my father. smiles, I suspect we shall never be friends. For a last time he took my hands, and, kissing Then Farideh, nineteen, with auburn-tinted hair, me on the foreheadParisian costume, and eye-glasses. I was amazed “Rest yourself; and above all do not regret at her. Smilingly she said “Good morning" in too much—" French. She seems a very nice person. My “I have forgotten all in seeing you," I anfather then named my other brothers and sisters swered. -Sulema, Aīssé, Fatma, Cartoum, Saïd, Ahmed, And this was true. Are you not jealous ? Ibrahim, and Fahahry-according to their ages; As soon as I was alone with Bell and Nazly, the boys, not being yet seven years old, still min- I began to examine my domain in detail. A sort gled with the girls. This little crowd shyly re- of wardrobe was arranged as a dressing-room. ceived me with gentle kisses. I exerted myself All the trunks were open and empty. Oh, dearto the utmost at this ceremonial, excusing myself est, the marvelous clothing! We unfolded all: for my ignorance, through which I might per- féredgés of moire, lace veils, Damascus silks, haps offend some of their most cherished ideas. Brussels mantillas, and all the exquisite phanta
sies of the Oriental costume. Bell was in ecsta- father !—I have a father! How sweet this word sies. I felt a certain malice in recalling our fa- is for me to say! How quickly I have become mous ruin to her memory. I ran from room to accustomed to the charm of an affection of which room, dazzled, charmed, looking at everything, until now I knew nothing! Oh, yes, Martha, he touching everything, going from one object to is good, and he loves me. What care for my another, to retrace my steps, as I was drawn happiness! What thoughtfulness to accustom back by some new thing I had passed over. My me by degrees to a change of life so abrupt and boudoir, particularly, enchants me. The walls of strange! He will be everything to me. He will white Chinese satin are wadded and caught with take the place of all the dear affections of my pearls. From the cupola in the center of the childhood, and, to resign myself to your loss, I ceiling depends a filigree luster, the very work shall love him all the more. of Arachne, with glass pendents of the softest I had slept badly, and rose very early. The rose-color. My divan is of cloth of gold, my harem-mistresses and slaves-still slept. As tables inlaid with turquoise, and for a carpet I a child would run, rather anxious on awaking, have ermine. Behold, what an Eastern dream! about a new toy which it fears to have lost Weary of admiring, I returned to the hall. It while sleeping, I slowly recommenced an inspecwas the dinner-hour, and the thoughtfulness of tion of my dwelling, to convince myself that some my father had been exercised even there, for malicious génie had not destroyed it by enchantthey served me in the French style; but I did ment. All remained the same. My birds were justice also to some Arab sweets they sent me flying among the flowers of the veranda. The from the great harem. I have passed this even- gardens under my windows spread out immense ing in writing you, though my letter, which I and magnificent; the light-blue sky was lost in shall send by the English courier to save time, the dark-green shadow of the trees. Peeping can not leave for three days. Yet I have not through the leaves could be seen golden apples been slow to share my enchantment with you. and the ripe fruits of the orange-and citron-trees. I hastened to tell you immediately of this arrival I They had not been gathered, so that they could have so dreaded. Momently I put down my pen longer delight and perfume. I called Bell and to gaze around. How strange everything seems! Nazly, and we all three went down into the garSeated at my feet, Nazly, with her eyes filled den. with tears, looks at me with adoration. She was It is now the ist of December, but it is sumthe one who took me to France. Poor, dear mer here summer with the delightfulness of creature! She loved my mother; she was from spring, with richest coloring, luxuriant flowers, a the same country; both were Circassians. Bell serenity that is bright and gay. I went under comes to tell me it is very late, and insists I must domes of magnolias in bloom, stopping at parbe tired. I believe she is right. To-morrow, terres of roses, and gathering them without stint. then, dearest, we will continue our conversation. Bell and Nazly bent under the load. We thus
reached one of the pavilions, which I entered. A III.
portico, divided into several compartments, surYou will not be astonished that this morning, rounded a marble basin, in the waters of which the on awaking, I found it necessary to recall my blue sky was reflected. This is our bath. I was recollections. I felt as if I was returning from a astonished to find there games, pieces of needleflight into fairyland. My glance fell upon your work, some chibouks, and an assortment of narportrait, which Bell had had the delicate préve- giles; but Nazly tells me that the women of the nance of placing before my bed, and my memory harem spend many hours there, eating, smoking, returned. Dear Martha, from the heart of this and often dancing. sumptuous chamber, from my home of a prin- When I returned, my attendants were awaitcess, I send a sigh of regret for my young girl's ing me. They relieved me of my prize, and ornanest, resounding with the noise of our outbursts mented some baskets under my direction. They of morning laughter. What are you doing now? were all so young, graceful, and pretty, with their You are thinking perhaps of me, awaiting a letter beautiful dresses, that I greatly admired them. impatiently, asking yourself all that I am now They look like daughters of sultans, and yet they trying to bring before you. The excitement of are only poor slaves, whose sole business is to the voyage, this new family, this luxury, these serve and please me. I had finished my breakstrange customs, have overwhelmed me at first fast, when I saw my father enter, and I ran to and stunned me. I had nearly forgotten you in him, holding up my brow to be kissed. this tumult of surprises and emotions. Calm “ I come to inquire after your health,” he said, now, rested from all my fatigues, in the quiet of “and to have a long talk with you." my curiosity, you were the first whom I sought. He drew me to the veranda, and made me sit My second thought was of my father. My beside him.
" I strongly suspect," he cried, smiling, “ that proves that he loves him, but he did not conceal you are a spoiled child."
from me the grief that his marriage has caused “Why?”
him. Ali has married an infidel—an English“From the manner in which you described woman who is not received at Chimilah. Though the family who had charge of you, I am con- I dared not venture a remark, this ostracism apvinced that they have greatly spoiled you." pears to me a little barbarous.
“ Will not you continue to do the same?” My father had just left me, when a knocking
“ Yes, I will do all I can to render your prison was heard. It was Saïda-Hanum, my young more attractive-for, after your European life, step-mother. She hastened to embrace me. the harem must seem nearly a prison to you- “How old are you?" she asked. but I can not release you from the customs which “ Seventeen and a half." are established among us. You must submit to “I am sixteen. Will
my friend?” them without rebellion or murmuring."
“With all my heart." He then explained to me that, in allowing me The compact sealed, we had a very pleasant my own home, and the privilege of living there talk. It appears that my arrival has upset everyin my own fashion, taking my French repasts, thing. The manner in which my father had and preserving all my Parisian habits, he imposed treated me was the most amazing of all. Heavon me the duty of extreme deference to Zeinab- en only knows all the questions she had to ask Hanum and her daughter Hosnah, my eldest sis- me. To her the word Europe seemed to have a ter.
wonderful and alarming effect. With the attrac"I have no necessity to speak of Saïda,” he tive, coquettish airs of a young savage, she eagerly said, “ for I am sure you will be friends.” ferreted in my still full trunks, dying to try on
It was very requisite, then, that I should not everything; then she again turned to me, asking keep aloof from the grand harem. I must show a thousand explanations, listening amazed and myself docile and observant of all their forms of incredulous, frequently interrupting me in her etiquette, which would very soon become familiar childish way to show the difference between to me.
Mohammedan and other customs. Far from “My visits to your apartments are very serious envying the liberty of Christian women, she tesdepartures from our usual habits,” he continued. tified a lively terror of them. What! to go out " I must only see you in the midst of your family. alone, without a veil ; to speak to men; to have Yet I will try to steal in sometimes; but this to think for one's self; to watch over one's self; must be a secret between us."
to direct one's own life! What work it must I promised what he required with a submis- be; what a care; what difficulty! She was assion that delighted him.
tonished that the good God had created women “Do you know that I am utterly surprised to for them to suffer in such work. find you so intelligent and reasonable?"
Very soon again we were chattering nonsense, “Father, you are a flatterer.”
and laughing like children. She spoke of Zeinab, “No, I am proud of you."
who was called the “Great Lady,” as was the He continued his directions, and my course of custom, and in virtue of the precedence of her life is arranged: rights and duties are clearly de- age and rank, and she irreverently mimicked her. fined; the code can not be infringed. I can act “And what do they call you ?” I asked. as I choose between the high walls of Chimilah, The Durrah, which means paroquet!” but I can not go beyond them, except in a coach When we had chatted a long time, she said : accompanied by some women, and escorted after "I came to carry you over to the harem ; our Eastern mode.
they are impatiently awaiting you ; but first I My father instructed me then in the details of must dress you. You are a Hanum-Effendim governing my house. The management of things now.” outside devolves on the eunuchs; their chief, who She called Nazly, and, with the abandon of a represents me outside, is quite a personage. The child, she carried me into the dressing-room, control of the slaves belongs to the chiaia—that where my slaves were busy putting things in is to say, to my dear Nazly.
order. It was difficult for her to decide, but "In short, you have only to float along," he after many doubts my little step-mother was concluded; "you will very soon have plenty of satisfied. company, and amusements will not be lacking.” Drawing me away from the mirror, assisted
In the course of our conversation I made in- by Nazly, she proceeded to transform me. The quiries about my brother Ali. He has a mission work required time, for each detail entailed a in the provinces. I am anxious to know this son fresh consultation. Saïda-Hanum wished me to of my mother, educated, like myself, far from his look beautiful. When they had adjusted the last own people. My father's manner of speaking bracelet, they solemnly led me to a mirror, and I