Although Jane Clayton’s clothes were broken and her hair in disarray, Albert Werper realized, however, that he had never before seen such a lovable sight as Lady Greystoke offered in portraying the relief and joy she felt unexpectedly when she met a friend and helper when hope seemed so distant.
If the Belgian had been unaware of whether the lady knew of her involvement in the fraudulent attack on Greystoke’s home and herself, the uncertainty soon vanished, with the lady greeting her naturally. She quickly told Werper everything that had happened to her after the guest left, and as she spoke of her husband’s death, her eyes blurred with tears she couldn’t hold back.
“I’m upset,” said Werper, pretending a natural sympathy, “but I am not surprised. That devil there,” and he showed Ahmet Zek’s body, “has got the whole country terrified. Wazirinne are either destroyed or driven from their country far to the south. Ahmet Zek the men hold a plateau around your former home – there is no shelter or hiding place, our only hope is that we will travel north as soon as possible to get to the bandit of robbers before the news of Ahmet Zek’s death arrives there.
“- I think I can get the thing to succeed, as I was a guest-armed bandit, when I did not yet know the correct character of the man and the camp occupants do not know that I have turned against him noticed by his villainy.
“- Come on! We’ll walk as quickly as possible to get to camp before the men who followed Ahmet Zek on his last outing find his body and bring a message to the villains left behind by his death. That’s our only hope, Lady Greystoke, and you have to trust me completely so I can wait. Wait a minute for me until I take the bag from the Arab, which he stole from me. ” Werper stepped briskly to the dead man and knelt beside him, quickly searching his fingers for the gem bag. To his dismay, there was no sign of it in Ahmet Zek’s clothes. He then walked down the path, looking for some trace of the lost bag or its contents, but found nothing, though he carefully examined the surroundings of his dead horse as well and extended his search a few steps to the jungle on either side. Frustrated, disappointed and angry, he finally returned to the young woman. “The bag is lost,” he explained briefly, “and I dare not linger any longer looking for it. We have to get to camp before the bandits come.”
When Jane Clayton had no idea of the man’s true character, she noticed nothing strange in this plan and in the seemingly plausible explanation that Werper had been a friend of robbers in the past, and so Jane was immediately excited by her deceptive hope of salvation and turned to recently been a prisoner.
It was not until late in the evening of the next day that they reached their destination, and as they stopped at the edge of the opening in front of the gates of the walled village, Werper urged the young woman to admit everything she, Werper, would say in conversation with the bandits.
“I tell them,” he explained, “that I caught you after you escaped the camp, that I would take you to Ahmet Zek, and that he, being in a fierce match with the Wazirs, told me to return to the camp with you. Here I have to get enough security forces, ride north as soon as possible and hand you over on particularly favorable terms to the slave trader whose name he gave me. ”
The apparent straightforwardness of the Belgian again misled the young woman. Jane realized that desperate situations required desperate action, and even though she was trembling in her heart at the thought of falling back into the poor and creepy village of robbers, she could not come up with a better course of action than the other suggested.
Screaming at the men guarding the gate, Werper grabbed Jane Clayton’s arm and bravely walked across the opening. Those who opened the gates were so astonished that the wonder was clearly reflected in their expressions as well. The fearlessly returning and chased by a lieutenant returned as a traitor on his own initiative seemed as effective in dispelling their suspicions as he had succeeded in deceiving Lady Greystoke.
The gatekeepers responded to Werper’s greeting and looked in amazement at the prisoner he had brought with him to the village.
The Belgian immediately found the Arab in whose care the camp had been left in the absence of Ahmet Zek. Again, his courage removed the doubts, and his false representation of the reasons for his return was believed as such. The fact that he had brought a runaway female prisoner with him made his story more and more credible, and soon Mohammed Beyd fraternized in all his friendship with the very man he would have killed without confession if he had met him in the jungle half an hour earlier.
Jane Clayton was again locked up in the prison hut she had been in before, but thinking this was all the same cheating on gullible robbers as her and Frecoult’s earlier appearances, she stepped into a miserable and dirty shack with different feelings than before, when hope was so far away.
He was tied up again, and guards were placed in front of the door of his prison, but Werper whispered words of encouragement in his ear before leaving. The Belgian then went and headed again to Mohammed Beyd’s tent. He had wondered if it would take a long time for the bandits who had left with Ahmet Zek to return with their master’s murdered body, and the more he thought about it, the more he began to fear that without his assistants his plan would fail.
What if, even if he got out of the camp safely, before someone came to report his guilt, would this be of any use other than prolonging his soulful torture and life for a few days? These hardened riders, who knew every road and side path, would reach him long before he could hope to reach the coast.
As these thoughts moved in his mind, he stepped into the tent where Mohammed Beyd was sitting on the carpet with his legs crossed and burning his barrel. The Arab raised his eyes as the European came to his notice.
“Be greeted, oh brother!” he said.
“Be greeted,” Werper replied.
Both had a long time to vote. The Arab first broke the silence.
“And my lord, Ahmet Zek, was in good shape when you last saw him?” he asked.
“He has never been in better safety from the eyes and dangers of the world,” the Belgian replied.
“All right,” said Mohammed Beyd, blowing a small cloud of blue smoke directly in front of him.
Again came several minutes of silence.
“And what if he was dead?” asked the Belgian, deciding to reveal the truth and try to bribe Mohammed Beyd.
The Arab’s eyes narrowed, and he leaned forward, staring straight into the Belgian’s eyes.
“I’ve thought about it a lot, Werper, when so suddenly came back the man to the camp, which you have betrayed and who was looking for you killed the idea in their hearts I’ve had many years Ahmet Zek on -. His own mother even does not know him that well as I do, he never. forgive – even less would he believe again the man who once betrayed him, that I know.
“- I’ve thought about it a lot, as I said, and come to the belief that Ahmet Zek has died -. Otherwise you would never have dared to go back to his camp, unless you’re either braver man or higher crazy as I imagined And unless that presentation of evidence is not sufficiently convincing , I have just received from their lips even more secure certificate – because do not you say that Ahmet Zek has never been safer world synneiltä and dangers?
“- Ahmet Zek is dead, you don’t have to deny it. I’m not his mother or mistress, so you don’t have to worry about my complaints bothering you. Tell me why you’ve come back here! Tell me what you want and if you still have there are gems that Ahmet Zek talked to me about, nothing prevents us from riding together north, where we share with each other the price we get from a white woman and the contents of the bag you have with you. What? ”
His malevolent eyes were mere streaks, and a vicious smile flickering through his thin lips distorted the features of the villain as he cunningly grinned against the Belgian’s face.
Werper felt both relief and uneasiness over Arab behavior. The pleasure the man showed when he heard his chief died lifted a considerable burden from the shoulders of the murderer Ahmet Zek. But the Arab’s demand to have some of the gems foretold evil for Werper if Mohammed Beyd found out that the precious stones were no longer in his possession.
If he admitted that he had lost the gems, he might raise the hatred or suspicion of the Arab to the extent that he would jeopardize his newly acquired chances of escape. His only hope seemed to be that he would make Mohammed Beyd still believe the gems were still there and trusted in a future that would provide some way to escape.
If, on his way north, he could reach the same tent as the Arab, he would have ample opportunity to clear the way for a man who threatened his life and his freedom, – it was worth trying; moreover, there did not seem to be any other way to overcome the difficulties.
“Yes,” he said, “Ahmet Zek is dead. He fell in a battle against an Abyssinian cavalry company that held me captive. I escaped during the skirmish, but I don’t think any of Ahmet Zek’s men survived, and the gold they were looking for is in the possession of the Abyssinians. they no doubt marched towards this camp, for Menelik has sent them to punish Ahmet Zek and his companions for their raid on the Abyssinian village. There are many of them, and if we do not flee urgently, we will all be subject to the same fate as Ahmet Zek. ”
Mohammed Beyd listened to his voice. He did not know to what extent the story of the unbeliever could be relied upon, but when it offered him an excuse to leave the village and go north, he did not want to question the Belgian very unnecessarily.
“And if I ride north with you,” he asked, “then half the jewels and half the price of a woman will come to me?”
“Yes,” Werper replied.
“Good,” said Mohammed Beyd. “Now I’m going to issue an order to leave early tomorrow morning.” He got up to leave the tent.
Werper lowered, holding his hand to his arm.
“Wait,” he said, “let’s decide how many to bring in. It’s not good for wives and children to become our burden, because then the Abyssinians can really reach us. It would be much better to pick a little guard from our bravest men and let the survivors know we’re riding west. Then when the Abyssinians come, they will be on the wrong track if they intend to chase us, and unless they chase us, they will not ride north as fast as they thought we would be with them. ”
“The snake is not as wise as you, Werper,” Mohammed Beyd said with a smile. “Let’s do as you say. Twenty men will follow us, and we’ll ride west – when we leave the village.”
“Good,” exclaimed the Belgian, and so the matter was clear.
Jane Clayton woke up early the next morning after an almost sleepless night when she heard voices from outside her prison, and a moment later Frecoult and two Arabs stepped in. The latter let go of his ankle bandages and lifted him upright. His wrist was then detached, given a handful of dry bread, and taken out into the dim light of dawn.
He looked questioningly at Frecoult, and the moment the Arabs’ attention had turned elsewhere, the man bowed to him and whispered that everything was going as he had planned. Calmed by this, the young woman felt hope again, which had been almost extinguished by a long and miserable night in chains.
Shortly afterwards, he was lifted on horseback, taken out of the village gate surrounded by Arabs, and taken to the jungle to the west. Half an hour later, the journey turned north, and in that direction they made the rest of the journey.
Frecoult seldom spoke to him, and Jane realized that for another to succeed in the deception, she had to play the part of her captor rather than her protector. Thus, he doubted anything, though he noticed how friendly relations seemed to prevail between the European and the team’s Arab leader.
However, if Werper managed to refrain from talking to the young woman, he was unable to drive him away from his thoughts. At least a hundred times a day, she noticed her eyes facing Jane and enchanted looking at her adorable face and body. The Belgian’s insane affection grew hour by hour until his desire to own Jane approached almost madness.
If either the young woman or Mohammed Beyd had guessed what was moving in the mind of the man they both considered a friend and ally, the apparent harmony of the small entourage would have been bitterly disturbed.
Werper had not been able to get into the same tent as Mohammed Beyd, so, he weighed a variety of plans to assassinate the Arab, an act that would have been much simpler if he had been allowed to spend the night with another.
On the evening of the second day, Mohammed Beyd steered his horse alongside the prisoner’s horse. At that time, the Arab appeared for the first time to pay attention to the young woman, but many times during these two days his cunning eyes had greedily stared under the burnus headdress and admired the prisoner’s beautiful shapes.
This covert preference was not born of yesterday. He had already felt it when the English wife had first fallen into the hands of Ahmet Zek, but when the harsh chief was alive, Mohammed Beyd had not dared to hope that his fantasies would come true.
But now it was all different – only the wretched Christian dog was now between him and the young woman. How easy it would be to kill an infidel and take for yourself both a woman and gems! Once the stones were in her possession, the price of the prisoner would no longer be greatly tempted to give her up, especially if one thought about the pleasures the woman’s exclusive ownership offered. Yes, he would kill Werper, take all the gems, and keep the Englishman himself.
He turned his eyes to Jane as he rode to his side. How beautiful she was! The fingers of the Arabian opened and closed — they were like the lean brown claws of a bird of prey, wanting to feel the victim’s soft flesh in its relentless squeezing.
“You know,” he asked, bowing to Jane, “where would this man want to take you?”
Jane Clayton nodded in agreement.
“And you want to become a toy for the black sultan?”
The young woman rose straight and turned her head away, but did not answer. He feared that he, knowing the plot of war that Frecoult had taken against the Arab, would reveal himself when he would not show enough horror and disgust.
“You can escape this fate,” the Arab continued. “Mohammed Beyd will save you.” And he held out his brown hand and grabbed the fingers of Jane’s right hand so suddenly and so violently that his raw passion was then revealed as clearly as if he had expressed it in words.
Jane Clayton twisted off her grip.
“You beast!” he exclaimed. “Leave me or I’ll call Mr. Frecoult.”
Mohammed Beyd withdrew, staring gloomily in front of him. His thin upper lips curved upward, revealing his flat white teeth.
“Mr. Frecoult?” he mocked. “There is no such person here. The man’s name is Werper. He is a liar, a thief and a murderer. He killed his captain in the Congo and fled to Ahmet Zek’s shelter. He took Ahmet Zek to rob your home. He followed your husband and planned to rob his gold. He has told to me that you consider him your protector, and he has taken advantage of this fact to win your trust so that it will then be easier to take you north and sell you to the harems of a black sultan. Mohammed Beyd is your only hope. ” In this way, the Arab ended his speech, which was intended to give the prisoner cause for thought, and encouraged his horse by firing at the front end of the procession.
Jane Clayton could not know how much Mohammed Beyd’s accusations were true and how much falsehood. But they at least diminished his hopes and made him doubtful to watch all the previous deeds of the man he had considered his sole protector in the midst of a variety of enemies and dangers.
During the march, a special tent had been reserved for the prisoner, and for the night it was erected between the tents of Mohammed Beyd and Werper. A guard was placed in front of the tent and another behind it, and once these precautions had been taken, it was not considered necessary to put the prisoner in chains.
On the evening of the same day that Jane Clayton had had a conversation with Mohammed Beyd, she sat for a while in the doorway of her tent, watching the active life of the camp. He had eaten his meal, brought to him by Mohammed Beyd’s Negro slave — it had had cash cakes and a remarkable stew featuring a freshly killed maracas, a pair of squirrels, and the remains of a zebra felled the day before, all evenly mixed into a disgusting mess. But the former Baltimore beauty had long since won a sophistication in a fierce battle for her existence that had previously made her nose twitch on a much smaller subject.
As the young woman’s eyes widened over the trampled jungle opening, which had already been tainted by human presence, she no longer realized the creatures moving in the foreground or the raw men laughing and arguing with each other, or the underlying jungle that was the extreme limit of her horizons. His gaze passed all this without seeing anything and focused on the distant villa and the visions of happy security that brought tears of both joy and sorrow into his eyes. He saw a tall, broad-shouldered man riding from distant persecution, he saw himself waiting to greet him, a bouquet of roses in his arms that had just been cut from the bushes lining the small country gate. All this was gone, perished in the distance: the torches of those abominable and desolate men, bullets and anger had wiped them off the face of the earth. Choking and trembling, Jane Clayton turned to her tent and went to the dirty felt blanket that was her bed. Throwing her face down, she cried in her misery until a gentle sleep brought her relief, at least for a while.
And as he slept, among other things, a figure crept from the tent to his right. It approached the crouching guard in front of the door and whispered a few words into the man’s ear. This one nodded and went in the dark to leap towards his own berth. The character went behind Jane Clayton’s tent and spoke something to the guard there again, and this man also went his way following in the footsteps of the first.
Then the one who had sent them away sneaked quietly to the doorway of the tent and, opening the ties of the door curtain, stepped in silently like a spirit detached from the body.