The latter details petrified me

So gaze met gaze,
And heart saw heart, translucid through the rays,
One same harmonious universal law,
Atom to atom, star to star can draw,
And heart to heart. Swift darts, as from the sun,
The strong attraction, and the charm is done.
THE NEW TIMON.

To the letter I wrote Louisa from Gallipoli no answer was ever returned.

Had it reached her, or been intercepted, and by whom?

I began to associate Berkeley—groundlessly, certainly—with her singular
silence. All my former animosity to him returned; but, for the personal
safety of the survivor, our strangely deferred meeting could not take
place till we found ourselves in the vicinity of the enemy. I feared,
too, that he might discover how completely she had ignored—or, to all
appearance, forgotten—my existence. To me there was pure gall in the
idea that he should have cause for triumph in suspecting it.

I constantly wore her engagement ring—the pearl with the blue enamel.
Did she gaze on my Rangoon diamond as frequently as I did on the tiny
gold hoop which once encircled her finger, and had hence become a holy
thing to me? I was now beginning to fear that she did not.

The past had but one feature, one which every thought and memory seemed
metaphorically to hinge; and the future but one object—the same—around
which every hope was centred—Louisa. Viâ the Bosphorus, the mail
steamers came puffing regularly into Varna Bay. They seemed to bring
letters to all but me, and gradually my heart became filled by anxiety
and fear.

Louisa might be ill—_dead_! I thrust aside that thought as impossible; I
must have heard of so terrible a calamity from Cora, or from Wilford,
who was in constant correspondence with his sister.

Her answer to my Gallipoli letter might have miscarried. Why her letter
alone? Those of my uncle and of cousin Cora came at the requisite time,
and in course of post. Could it actually be that Louisa was forgetting
me? Her last look—her eyes so full of grief—her last kiss, so full of
tremulous tenderness, forbade this fear, and yet it was passing strange
that neither Cora nor Sir Nigel ever mentioned her in their
correspondence with me.

I frequently prayed that her love might be as lasting in her as it
proved agonizing to me.

Studhome knew my secret. To conceal from him that I was miserable was
impossible, but honest Jack’s advice “to take heart of grace—to remember
that there were as good fish in the sea as ever came out of it, that—

“’There were maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
Who would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar,’”

and a great deal more to the same effect and purpose, proved but sorry
comfort and counsel.

On a Saturday evening I had tiffed with him in his tent. We had no
second parade or anything to do. He vowed that he was tired of his
studies, which generally consisted of the _Racing Calendar_, Hart’s
“Annual Army List,” “White’s Farriery,” and the “Field Exercise and
Evolutions for the Cavalry,” varied by _Punch_ and _Bell’s Life_, so we
ordered our horses, and rode to Varna, the variety and unwonted bustle
of which afforded the means of amusement and relief, after the quiet and
monotony of our camp in the green wooded vale of Aladyn.

We put up our horses at an old rickety Turkish khan, which an
enterprising French sutler had turned into a species of hotel, for over
the door a gay signboard, painted in tricolour, informed us that it was
“_Le restaurant de l’Armée d’Orient, pour messieurs les officiers et
sous-officiers_.”

There we had a bottle of excellent Greek wine, in a large whitewashed
room, full of French officers, of every branch of the service and of all
ranks, who received us with great politeness. They were all smoking
cigarettes, chatting, laughing, playing chess or dominoes, and reading
the _Moniteur_ or _Charivari_, which last caricatured the Russians as
unmercifully as our good friend _Punch_ ever did.

Their gaiety and _étourdi_ fashion of quizzing the women who passed drew
many a scowl of wonder and reprehension from the turbaned, shawled, and
solemn Turks, for few of the believers took kindly to “the sons of
perdition who had come to aid them and the Vicar of God—the refuge of
the world—from the Muscovite dog,” as one was heard to say; “and at the
behest of a queen—a woman—_Allah razolsum!_” he added, with special
reference to us.

“What a change all this is from our recent barrack life at Maidstone,”
said Studhome. “We see such strange scenes—a new world here.”

“For our used-up guardsmen and hussars, who have been hitherto bored by
the mere aimlessness and emptiness of their lives, our friend, the
Emperor Nicholas, has certainly provided that which Sir Charles, in
_Used Up_, would call a ’new sensation,’ and a little healthy
excitement.”

A young sous-lieutenant of Zouaves was particularly vehement and droll
in describing a certain Egyptian magician, who had shown some wonderful
things to him and his friends. His words seemed to excite much
laughter, and, on drawing nearer, I discovered him to be Jules
Jolicoeur, the Zouave, who had now been promoted to the rank of
second-lieutenant in his regiment, in the ranks of which the cholera had
already made sad ravages.

“Monsieur Jolicoeur,” said I; “a magician, do you say?”

“_Peste!_ you know my name,” said he, smiling, while he pirouetted about
and twirled his moustache.

“I have to congratulate you on your promotion. Better this than poring
over Lemartinière, Ambrose Paré, and so forth, at the Ecole de Médecin,
eh?”

“_Parbleu, monsieur!_ how do you come to know all this?” he asked, with
pardonable surprise.

“Perhaps I am a magician too,” said I, laughing. “But this Egyptian of
whom you tell us—he is a juggler, I presume?”

“_Jouer—joueuse de gobelets_, you mean? Oh, no. In a little water or
ink, poured into the hollow of your hand, he will show you the face of
any friend you most desire to see. It is miraculous.”

“_Diable!_” exclaimed Victor Baudeuf, a well-decorated captain of a
French line regiment; “then he shall show me Mogador.”

The name of this well-known French dancer elicited a burst of laughter;
but Jolicoeur said—

“Monsieur, you should call her Madame la Comtesse de Chabrillan!”

“And where the devil is _monsieur le Comte_?” asked Baudeuf, with a
grimace.

“At the gold-fields, having spent his fortune twice on the girl.”

“Well, to a wife in Paris a husband at the gold-fields is just as
valuable as no husband at all. _Très bon_! I shall see pretty Mogador,
if your magician has any skill.”

“And where does your magician hang out?” asked Studhome.

“Hang—hang—_il mérite la corde_, you mean, monsieur?” asked the puzzled
Frenchman.

“No, no; where is he to be found?”

“_Monsieur le magicien_ holds a spiritual séance to-night,” observed a
French hussar, whose gorgeous dolman was almost sword-proof with silver
lace.

“_Très bon!_” exclaimed another; “there are twenty girls in Paris I want
to see.”

“What is his time, Jules?”

“Eight o’clock.”

“’Tis but twenty minutes from that now.”

“We shall go too,” said Studhome, “and have our fortunes told; it will
be as good a lark, monsieur, as any other.”

“Lark—_aloutte_—oh, yes, _très bon!_” replied Jolicoeur, with a
good-natured smile, though quite at a loss to understand why the bird
was referred to.

“My fortune has often been told me, Newton, by gipsies, at Maidstone and
Canterbury. By no two alike; but it was magnificent, according to the
fee I gave, and always droll. We shall see what this astrologer—a real
magician—has to show us.”

“If he shows us Louisa Loftus, Jack, I’ll forfeit a year’s pay!”

“Come, messieurs, to the séance,” shouted Jolicoeur, as he buckled on
his sabre. “I wish to see Mademoiselle Sophie of ours, who has gone to
Constantinople.”

“And I Mogador,” said Captain Baudeuf, “the delicious little dancer at
the Mabille.”

“And I Rose Pompon!” exclaimed the hussar, tying the cords of his silver
dolman. “Rose, the heroine of a thousand flirtations.”

“Mogador, the empress of ten thousand hearts,” added the captain.

“Hearts such as thine, _mon camarade_,” said the hussar, laughing.

“And Fleur d’Amour,” added another heedless fellow, “the Queen of the
Tourlurous!”[*]

[*] Camp phrase for the French linesmen.

“_Ah, mon capitaine_,” said Jules. “_Peste!_ what a _roué_ it is. He
has made as many conquests as our good friend Don Juan, in the
delightful opera which bears his name.”

“Beware!” said the other, with a mock frown; “I’m an ace of diamonds man
with the pistol, Jules.”

“Bah! Your pistol will never be levelled at me. Have a cigarette?”

“Thanks. As for Mogador, her silk tights were a study at the Mabille,
and the grace with which she showed her feet and ankles——”

“_Cordieu, mon ami!_ we haven’t a man in the 2nd Zouaves who has not
appreciated that generous exhibition to the utmost. I hope she’ll
appear in Baudeuf’s hand as Diana, or the chaste Lucretia!” said
Jolicoeur.

These remarks elicited roars of laughter from the gay Frenchmen.

“By Jove, Newton,” whispered Studhome, “our fair friends will be
conjured up in odd company. These fellows are naming the most notorious
_lorettes_ in Paris!”

With a prodigious clatter of swords and spurs, we all quitted the
restaurant together for the residence of the magician; and Lieutenant
Jolicoeur, who seemed disposed to fraternize with us, informed me that
this personage, who was making so much noise in Varna, was a native of
Al Kosair, on the Egyptian coast of the Red Sea, and that he was now
chief hakim, or senior surgeon, of the 10th Battalion of Egyptian
Infantry, which formed a portion of the Viceroy’s contingent with the
Turkish army. So we looked forward with some interest to the interview,
as he had a high reputation among the Osmanlees for the marvels he
produced, and was faithfully believed.

After an interview, this magician strongly reminded me of the Sooltan
described by Lane, in his “Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians.”

If in England, at this hour, so many persons believe implicitly in
table-turning, spirit-rapping, mesmeric slumber, and mesmeric mediums,
and many other outrageous whim-whams, it can surely be no wonder that
the poor, ignorant soldiers of the Turkish and Egyptian armies should
believe in the magic powers of the hakim Abd-el-Rasig, who, by the
medium of another human soul, could show them whether their friends,
their fathers, and mothers, at Gaza, at Cairo, or on the banks of the
Nile, were still in the land of the living, as clearly as if they peeped
through the magical telescope of the favoured prince in the fairy tale.

It was just about the period of which I write that the public of the
modern Athens—that happy city of bibacious saints and briefless
Solons—was electrified by a series of letters which appeared in one of
her journals, signed by a tolerably well-known historian, occupying,
however a lucrative legal position, to the effect that “he possessed a
peculiar medium,” of whose person and spirit he had such entire mesmeric
control that he had sent the latter to the Arctic regions, in search of
Sir John Franklin, whom she saw, accoutred with cocked hat and quadrant,
seated sorrowfully on a heap of snow; next, that he had sent her on a
visit to one of Her Majesty’s ships in the West Indies, where she pryed
into the savoury secrets of the midshipmen’s berth; and, not content
with these wonderful voyages, he actually announced that he sent her
spirit to heaven to visit his friends, and a much warmer climate to
visit his enemies; and this blasphemous rubbish and mid-summer madness
found believers in the Scottish capital, though it excited the laughter
of the masses; but one night the fair medium, “being hot with the Tuscan
grape, and high in blood,” or having imbibed over much alcohol, fairly
unmasked the would-be Northern Balsamo as a dupe and fool, by forgetting
to play her assumed character.

“_Allons, mes camarades!_” said Jules, placing his arm through mine and
Studhome’s; “we shall all face this Cagliostro together—one for all, and
all for one, like Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, in ’Les Trois
Mousquetaires.’”





It was impossible not to be pleased with the gaity and winning manner of
this young Frenchman. His bearing and uniform, half Parisian and half
Oriental, gave him somewhat of the aspect of a dandy brigand; but that
bearing is peculiar to all the officers and men of the regiments of
Zouaves.

Evening was approaching, and the shadows were falling eastward. Those
of the tall minarets, and the rows of cypress-trees that guard “the City
of the Dead,” were cast to a great distance, over the flat ground on
which Varna stands. Many “true believers” were awaiting the shrill,
boyish voice of the muezzin to call them to prayer; and the tambours of
the French troops were gathering at their places of arms, and bracing up
their drums, preparatory to beating the evening retreat, as we passed
along the strangely-crowded streets, towards the Armenian church.

At a coffee-house, the whole front of which was open, we passed several
of the Colonel Hadjee Mehmet’s soldiers, all drowsy with tobacco or
bang, and seated like so many tailors, each on a scrap of tattered
carpet. Some were idling over the chequers of a chess-board, and others
were listening to the wild fairy tale of an itinerant dervish, to whom,
from time to time, they tossed a quarter piastre (about a halfpenny) as
it waxed more and more exciting.

Passing through a street which had just been named the Rue des Portes
Franchises—a corporal of sappers being in the act of nailing up that
title on the rickety mansion of a wondering and indignant emir—we
reached the temporary residence of the hakim Abd-el-Rasig, near which
several Turkish women in long caftans, a few hawk-nosed Greeks, and
squalid Jews were loitering, as if pondering whether they dared tempt
his skill by unwisely seeking to probe the future.

To the street the house presented nothing but a small door, having a
curved arch, like a horseshoe, and a low, whitewashed wall.

Passing through, we found ourselves in a cool, shady courtyard,
surrounded, as usual, by those inexplicable Turkish sheds, a well in the
centre, a few rose-trees in tubs, and a few flowers and tiny shrubs
forcing their way up between the slabs of pavement.

The mansion was almost entirely built of wood, and painted saffron and
blue. We were ushered in by a little tawny Egyptian servant-boy, clad
in baggy blue breeches and a scarlet tarboosh, and whom, to our disgust,
we discovered to be tongueless—a mute!—and found ourselves in the _divan
hanée_, or principal apartment; and now the hitherto ceaseless gabble
and merriment of our French friends became hushed into comparative
silence, as the hakim, who had been smoking his chibouque, with its long
cherry-stick, rose from a luxurious pile of silken cushions to welcome
us.

He was a little man, with Arab features, and a complexion of mahogany.
His bushy beard was of a great amplitude. Time had long since dyed that
appendage white, but the proprietor had turned it to a rich brown. He
wore a green turban, a long, flowing coat, fashioned like a
dressing-gown, of bright blue cloth, elaborately braided on the breast
and seams with scarlet cord; his vest and trousers were of white linen,
girt by a sash of green silk. Round his neck hung a comboloio, or
Mahommedan rosary, of ninety-nine sandalwood beads.

Save that his intensely black eyes had under their impending brows a
keen and hawk-like expression, his appearance was neither unpleasing nor
undignified. His cheekbones were somewhat prominent; he had the organs
of locality largely defined, and his forehead was high, but receding.

A Turkish soldier, an onbashi, or corporal of the Hadjee Mehmet’s corps,
had just preferred some request as we entered; and on learning that we
had come to see a trial of his power at the séance, or whatever else he
was pleased to call it, he invited us all into an inner apartment which
opened off the _divan hanée_.

It was lighted by four lamps, suspended from the ceiling, each with a
large tassel below it. From these lamps flickered four flames, which
emitted a strange mephitic odour. The chamber had been recently
whitewashed; the doors and windows were all bordered by arabesques in
black and red, and with elaborate sentences from the Koran, which I
afterwards learned to be the following:—

“If they accuse thee of imposture, the apostles before thee have also
been accounted impostors, who brought evident demonstrations, and the
book which enlighteneth the understanding.”

“They will ask thee concerning the spirit; answer, the spirit was
created at the command of my Lord; but ye have no knowledge given unto
you, except a little.”

“This is light added unto light. God will direct His light unto whom He
pleaseth.”[*]

[*] Al Koran, chapters iii., xvii., and xxiv.

In the centre was a table covered by a crimson cloth, on which stood a
species of altar, formed of brass, about two feet high, supported by
four monstrous figures, the description of which is beyond the power of
language, and before it lay the Koran, open, and from its leaves
depended fifty-four flesh-coloured ribbons, with leaden seals attached
to them, being one for every two of the chapters of that remarkable
book.

Near this lay a rod of strangely-sculptured bronze, which was known to
have been found in one of the six great cavern tombs that stand in the
pass of Bibou-el-Melek at Thebes, by the side of a mummy, which was
alleged to be that of a royal magician, for in those tombs lie the
Egyptian kings of the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties.

Several bright green chameleons from Alexandria, which were perpetually
crawling about this altar, and turning from their natural colour to red,
blue, and white, according to the hue of anything they approached, added
to the _diablerie_ of this scene, which soon became rather exciting.

My own share in this adventure was so remarkable, that I came away with
but a slight recollection of the part borne in it by my companions.

Indeed, I was the second person on whom he attempted to impose, if his
singular mode of summoning, or spirit rapping, could be termed an
imposition.

The first to whom he addressed himself was the Turkish soldier with whom
we had found him in conversation.

The onbashi wished to know if his mother, Ayesha, widow of Abdallah Ebn
Said, who dwelt at Adramyt, was well, and gave the hakim his fee—ten
piastres—a large sum, no doubt, for the poor Osmanli warrior, who gazed
about with considerable uneasiness, though the unabashed bearing of the
Frenchmen might have reassured him; and I heard Jolicoeur whispering to
Baudeuf that he had a dozen times seen just such a magical tableau at
the Mabille and Porte St. Martin—_diable—oui!_—and had hissed it off,
that he might have Mogador or Fleur d’Amour on with their dances.

“Ayesha, widow of Abdallah Ebn Said,” muttered the hakim. “A lucky
name—it was borne by one of the four perfect women who are now in
Paradise.”

Opening a gilt door in his little cabinet or altar, the hakim brought
forth a large clam-shell and two phials of a dark liquid.

He wrote that verse of the Koran which I have quoted from chapter xvii.,
concerning the spirit, on a strip of parchment; then, pouring pure water
over it, he washed it into the hollow of the shell; thus its sentiment
and spirit were supposed to become a component part of the charm about
to be wrought.

He then desired the onbashi to turn to the east, and pray (for religion
evidently bore a great part in all his mummery), and next he summoned me
to look into the shell, which he held in his left hand, while waving
over it his bronze rod seven times—the mystical number.

I steadily gazed into the liquid, which a few drops from the phial had
turned to a pale purple tint, but saw—nothing.

She did not appear. Thrice she was summoned, but in vain.

The hakim tugged his beard, frowned, and reddened with vexation, and
emptied his shell, pouring the liquid carefully through a hole in the
floor.

“My poor mother, then, is dead?” said the corporal, sadly, crossing his
hands on his breast.

“Stafferillah! nay, do not think so,” said the hakim, kindly.

“Why, effendi?”

“Because, in that case, the liquid would become as black as the holy
Kaaba.”

“But she did not appear?”

“This is an unlucky day, my son.”

“Why so for me, if not for others? I never omit to wash and pray; and
yesterday, O hakim, you showed strange things to the Franks, filling all
their khans and coffee-houses with wonder.”

“True; but go. Thou art one of the faithful. To the infidels all days
are alike,” replied the hakim, with a very unmistakable scowl at
Jolicoeur and Baudeuf. “Doth not the Prophet say, ’Their works are like
unto vapour in a plain, which the traveller thinketh to be water, until
when he cometh thereto he findeth it to be nothing?’”

“Allah kerim!” said the onbashi, putting his right hand to his forehead,
his mouth, and his heart, and stalking solemnly away.

Jolicoeur was pressing forward to summon his friend Sophie, no doubt, or
perhaps some other gay damsel, when the hakim, who evidently disliked
his scoffing smile and general bearing, ignored his presence, and said
to me—

“Effendi, in what can I serve you?”

I felt the blood rush to my head, and in a whisper I mentioned to him
Louisa Loftus. I was loth that my fast companions should hear her name,
and make, perhaps, a jest of it. The hakim’s fee was, I have said, ten
piastres; but as I gave him above a hundred—or equal to a guinea
sterling—there were no words to express his thanks in Egyptian or
Turkish; he could only mutter, again and again—

“Shookier Allah! May God reward you!”

Again he produced his clam-shell, the surface of which I carefully
surveyed, while with great alacrity he wrote a verse from the Koran.
The shell was clear and pure; no picture, line, or drawing could be
detected on its pearly surface. Again he went through his mummery with
the phials, and washed off the ink into the shell; again, as before, the
liquid grew purple, and again he waved his rod of bronze.

“You wish to see her you love?” he whispered, with something of a
licentious leer in his keen black eyes; “she who is to be your hanoum
(wife or lady)?”

“Yes, effendi,” said I, blushing like a great schoolboy, in spite of
myself, all the more that I saw Jack Studhome’s handkerchief at his
mouth.

Fixing his keen eyes with something of sternness upon Jules Jolicoeur,
whom he had suddenly detected in the act of mimicking him, the bearded
hakim summoned him forward, and desired him to look into the shell, and
tell us what he saw.

Abd-el-Rasig then turned to the east, and proceeded to pray and invoke
in an inaudible voice.

I was four paces from the Zouave lieutenant, whose eyes, as he gazed
into the shell, became dilated and fixed with astonishment, while his
whole features, which were handsome, expressed something akin to fear.

“_Merveilleuse! mon Dieu! merveilleuse!_” he exclaimed.

“Do you see anything, monsieur?” I asked, with growing excitement.

“Yes—yes—_oui, peste_!”

“In heaven’s name what do you see?”

“A lady!”

“A lady?”

“Yes; the face of a lady, young, and very gentle. It is pale; her eyes
are dark, her hair thick and jetty—it seems almost blue in this purple
shell. Her eyebrows and lashes are thick,” he continued, speaking very
fast. “She has an expression of intense sadness—ban Dieu!—she is like a
sorrowing angel.”

“Her nose is aquiline?” I suggested.

“On the contrary, it is neat and small, but not quite _retroussé_. She
moves—_merveilleuse!_—tears—she is weeping! On her breast there is a
silver crescent; and now—now—the whole thing fades away!”

I was springing forward, when the hakim waved me imperiously back with
his bronze rod, and instantly poured the contents of the shell on the
tiled floor, from which a strange mephitic odour rose.

This was not the case on the previous unsuccessful occasion. Jules, who
had become quite grave, now turned eagerly, and full of interest, to me.

“Is this the lady whose face you saw?” I asked, showing him the
miniature of Louisa.

“No, monsieur; there is not the least resemblance.”

“Indeed!”

“I am somewhat of an artist, and know.”

“You are sure?”

“Sure as I now address you, monsieur.”

I began to smile.

“I have said that her eyes seemed dark, nearly as these. Her hair was
black, thick, and wavy, but her nose and features were all smaller—more
(pardon me, monsieur) feminine, perhaps—less decided in character,
certainly; and on her breast she had a crescent of silver.”

“A crescent!”

“Yes, monsieur, with a lion above it. The ornament seemed to fasten or
adorn the dress, and I saw it distinctly till she placed her hand upon
it, and then the water in the shell rippled. It is positively
miraculous,” he added, turning to Captain Baudeuf, who was twirling his
moustache and smiling with obstinate incredulity.

The latter details petrified me.

Jolicoeur’s description was completely that of my cousin, Cora
Calderwood. The crescent and lion was a gift I had sent her from
India—a double ornament I had picked up in the great pagoda at Rangoon,
and which she always wore, preferring it to her father’s crest and every
other brooch.

“Are you satisfied, effendi?” asked the hakim, quietly, for he seemed
used to astonishment on such occasions.

“I am bewildered, at all events, hakim,” said I.

“Why so?”

“It was not she I asked for or whom I named.”

“How do you know? You did not see. Another looked with your eyes.”

“True—but what does the vision portend?”

“You asked to see her——”

“I loved, hakim,” said I, emphatically.

“Nay, she who—if Allah and the Muscovite dogs spare you—is to be your
wife, your _hanoum_. Do you not remember? Go! _Allah Kerim_! it is
_kismet_—your destiny. The destinies of all, and the hour in which we
are to die—yea, the very moment—are written by the finger of Azrael on
our foreheads at our birth—on yours also, although you believe neither
in Azrael[*] nor the Prophet. Go! the mark is there, although we see it
not.”

[*] The Mahommedan Angel of Death.

With those rather solemn words ringing in my ears, bewildered and
thoroughly startled, I found myself traversing the streets of Varna with
Studhome, while the French drummers were beating _la retraite_ as the
sun went down beyond those mountains that were then echoing with the
cannon of Silistria, and while the shrill voices of the muezzins
proclaimed the hour of evening prayer from the minarets of the mosques,
into which the Moslems were pouring, with bowed heads and bare feet, to
count their beads.