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A subdued murmur, mingled with stifled
laughter arose in the assembly at the victim
air which Ben Serraq tried hard to assume,
and also at listening to the singular pleading
which he had improvised.

"Ben Serraq," said the magistrate, in a
sceptical tone, "your case must be a very bad
one, to compel you to employ such poor
arguments for its defence. How could your
wife play you such a trick as you describe
without your knowledge, since your accusers
found your tent filled with the animal's
remains, the head particularly being so
conspicuous and recognisable an object?"

''What is there extraordinary in that?"
asked Ben Serraq, not in the slightest degree
disconcerted. "My wife is so artful, and I
am so simple and innocent, that she could
easily contrive to conceal the matter."

''Come; these are wretched arguments.
For a man like you, who has had so many
transactions with the authorities, it is not a
clever way of getting out of the scrape."

"I invoke Allah and his justice!" screamed
Ben Serraq with the throat of a wild boar.
"I am a poor persecuted innocent; there is
nothing proved against me, absolutely nothing.
The case at least is doubtful,—that is
incontestable,—and in cases of doubt the law
requires me to take an oath. Put me on my
oath; I will swear on the Koran, on Sidi
Bou Krari, on whatever book you please, I
am as innocent as a suckling."

"No doubt. You will take a hundred
oaths as readily as one. But, unfortunately
for you, I have not forgotten your previous
character, and must consider the charge
as completely established."

"Allah! Lord of the Universe! Justice is
not to be had in this country."

"Honest men will say the contrary, when
they hear you are caught, and especially
when they see you transported to France:
whither I intend requesting you to be sent."

"That's the reward people get for serving
the French!" swaggered Ben Serraq, as
Coriolanus might have done when banished
by ungrateful Rome.

"Not bad, by my faith! You doubtless
consider you are rendering people a service
by easing them of their purses."

"I have been of service to you in time of
warfare, by marching constantly at the head
of your columns."

"True; you have sometimes marched at
the head of our columns as a guide; but
most assuredly you insisted upon heavy
wages, as far as I can recollect. Besides, that
is no reason why you should be allowed, in
recompense, to plunder the whole human
race. You ought to have reformed, as you
promised you would, and then we should
have forgotten the past."

"I am slandered! I am a victim!"

"Retain that idea for your consolation, and
hold your tongue. Djilali, lake some of the
men on guard and lead this fellow to prison."

"Sidi, Sidi!" pleaded Ben Serraq, "can
you not deliver me from these bonds, which
give me horrible pain?"

"Very well; I will. Djilali, unfasten the
ropes, which, in fact, are a little too tight. It
is impossible for him to make his escape now;
only, take some of the cavalry with you, and
keep a sharp eye on him on the way to

"O, Sidi! such precautions are unnecessary.
I am as gentle as a lamb." And
Ben Serraq made his exit escorted by a
numerous suite of mekrazenis, at the head of
whom was Djilali, and who, feeling the greatness
of his responsibility, marched as if he
were carrying the world. But an Arab chief
in alliance with the French, named Ben Safi,
whispered to the president as soon as the
prisoner had disappeared,

"Perhaps you were wrong to let his arms
be untied."

"That is rather too good," the magistrate
replied. "How, do you suppose, can he
contrive to escape from the custody of ten soldiers,
and in the midst of the town?"

"I have seen him escape," Ben Safi
explained, "under circumstances that would
make one believe there was something
diabolical in his composition. One night, when
he had the impudence to come and rob in my
own smala, we contrived to seize him by
killing the horse he had stolen from us, and
under which it chanced that he was caught
as it fell. I had his hands tied behind his
back, and I ordered one of my men to kill
him like a dog, from behind, with a pistol-
shot. The shot was fired; but my gentleman,
instead of dropping down dead, as he
ought to have done, jumped up as lively as a
grasshopper, and disappeared as if a flash of
lightning had carried him off. The. bullet
had only cut the cords which bound him, and
had been flattened on the palm of his hand.
We were stupefied with astonishment."

"And well you might be! " said the official
head of the Arab bureau, beginning
to feel a little fidgety. "I now believe I
should have acted more prudently if I had
forbidden his being unpinioned till he was
safely lodged in prison."

"I am sure you would;" interposed Ben
Tekrouide, a second friendly chief. "I have
always been told that this fellow is a perfect
demon, in human shape. At the market of
Kremis, he once robbed a man of his ass,
without his being aware of the theft, although
he was sitting on its back at the time."

"Indeed!" said the magistrate, in a fidget.
"I should be very glad to know that he was
definitely in custody under lock and key."

"He has the strength of twenty men,"
observed Ben Maoudj, a third philo-Gallic
chieftain. "He once stole a camel laden with
wheat from a caravan proceeding to the
south; and, as the animal was unable to
travel over the rocky road by which he
wanted to pass, he took it on his back, wheat