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begin to doubt whether they really are so,
and we shall have begun to get rid of another


THE French-Algerian magistrate's chaouch
or sheriff's-officer, Djilali by name, was
recovering a little from the out-of-countenance
condition into which he had been thrown by
his failure in giving a miraculous turn to the
embezzlement of a couple of sacks of wheat
from the backs of a pair of donkeys: he
straightened his back, stood stiff on his
legs, and abruptly entered with ineffable
zeal on the discharge of his functions as
chief-constable and crier-of-the-court. He
felt himself in one of those happy
moments when, after having well deserved a
good beating, he was ready to transfer the
favour to the first person he met. He was an
eight-day clock wound up again, when just at
the point of running down and coming to a
stop. As he opened and shut the police-room
doors with the loudest bangings and
clappingsshouting for the plaintiffs to appear,
and hustling everybody who stood in his way
as he swaggered about the antechamberthe
assembly present, still impressed with the
sack-and-donkey scene they had witnessed,
whispered from mouth to mouth and from
ear to ear that, in the memory of mekrazeni,
so accomplished a chaouch had never been

Suddenly, a confused noise was heard out
of doors. As it approached, the sounds grew
louder; and at last the ear could distinguish
the most energetic oaths in the Arab
language, and the music which proceeds
from fisticuffs and kicks when applied to
divers parts of the human body. Djilali's
voice rose above the tumult, and his stick
accompanied the melody of his voice. Finally,
the door opened, and a group of men,
singularly interlaced together, rolled into, rather
than entered the room. When Djilali, by a
succession of the most skilful movements,
had succeeded in putting a little restraint and
order into this tempestuous storm of arms
and legs, the eye could manage to distinguish
a group of live men, four of whom had quite
enough to do to enforce on the fifth a little
respect. The last-named worthy was of lofty
stature and vigorously limbed. His garments
torn to shreds, and his sorry face, attested
participation in a recent struggle; but his
hands, tied behind his back and fastened
by a rope to his neck, were evidence that he
had not been victorious. His companions
held him fast with a degree of caution which
showed that even in the state to which he
was reduced, they were not quite sure he
would not make his escape. Four ropes'-ends,
which dangled from his wrists and his neck,
were tightly grasped with exaggerated
uneasiness and tenacity. Scarcely had the five
new comers subsided into calmness, when an
unanimous exclamation arose from the midst
of the audience, "'Tis Ben Serraq! What
has he been doing now?"

M. Richard, the presiding magistrate,
inquired somewhat severely:

"What has the man done, that you
should bring him bound in that cruel way?"

"'Tis Ben Serraq!" was the answer he
received from the quartette of voices.

"Ah, Ben Serraq! A professional robber
belonging to the Sefhha, is he not?"

"The very same!" said the Coryphæus of
the associated plaintiffs.

"Yes, sure enough; 'tis I, Ben Serraq,"
growled the prisoner, in a voice which
reminded you of a wild beast roaring at night.

"But I was informed that he had amended
his mode of life, and that lately he has been
living at peace with his neighbours?"

"I have always lived at peace with my
neighbours. I am a good Mussulman, fearing
Allah and the law. I am calumniated."

"Hold your tongue," said the court, ''and
do not speak till you are spoken to."

"It is true," explained plaintiff number
one, "that, for some time past, he has let us
be quiet, and only committed distant
robberies; but a few days since, he stole one of
our bullocks."

"Sidi Bou Krari!" roared the savage.
"How dare they slander a poor innocent
creature like me in that way?"

"But is the fact clearly proved?" the
president inquired. "How did it occur?"

"It is as plain as can be," stated plaintiff
number two. "There is not the least doubt
about the matter."

"That's what you get by serving the
French!" muttered Ben Serraq, with the air
of a Cato. "What ingratitude, gracious
Allah, Lord of the universe!"

At this juncture, Djilali received orders
to prevent the accused, by any means
whatever, from making lengthy interruptions to
the recital of the plaintiffs' wrongs. As to
short exclamations that will break forth,
the chaouch might allow them to burst
from their safety-valve, seeing the material
impossibility of confining them within
the lips of a subject like the present

"Come, then," said the court, decidedly,
"one of you explain the business."

"Don't mind what they say," Ben Serraq
roared out. "They are liars. Besides, they
have a spite against me."

"As I said just now," the complainant
stated, "the case is plain. Our herds were
grazing in the neighbourhood of Ben Serraq's
tent. On driving them home in the evening
we discovered that a bullock was missing.
My brethren and myself immediately took
the field, to discover some trace of the
robbery, but we could discover nothing. At
last, after several days of fruitless search, it
entered into our heads to have a look at Ben
Serraq's tent. We had suspected him, in