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Warrisden fell to thinking of Tony Stretton. He struck a match, and looked at his watch. It was close upon the hour of dawn. Perhaps, just at this moment, by some village in that wild dark mountain country to the south-east, Stretton stirred in his sleep, and waked to hear some such summons chanted about the village. Perhaps he was even now loading his mule, and setting forth by the glimmer of the starlight upon his dangerous road. Warrisden fell asleep again with that picture in his mind, and woke to find the sunlight pouring through the square opening of the roof. He drank his coffee, and mounting a little winding stairway of broken steps, came out into that other city of Fez, the city of the roof-tops.
Fez is built upon the slope of a hill, and upon some of the flat roofs Warrisden looked down and through the dark square holes of the openings, to the parapets of others he looked up. Upon some there were gardens planted-so, he thought, must have looked the hanging gardens of Babylon; on others, linen was strung out to dry as in some backyard of England; the minarets, here inlaid with white and green tiles, there built simply of bricks and brown plaster, rose high into the limpid air. And on the towers were the great nests of storks.
Warrisden looked abroad, and in the sunlight his hopes revived. It seemed that it must have been into another town that he had entered last night. Nowhere could he see the gash of a street in that plateau of roof-tops—so narrow they were ; and no noise rose at all, they were so deep. Here the only sound audible was the chattering of women's voices—for the roofs are the playgrounds of the women, and Warrisden could see them in their coloured handkerchiefs and robes clustered together, climbing from one house to another with the help of ladders, visiting their friends. But of all the clamour which must needs be resounding in those crowded streets, not even one stray cry of 'Balak !' reached to this upper air. Lower down the hill to the east, Warrisden could see the city wall and the gate through which Stretton must pass when he came. And he might come to-day !
That was Warrisden's thought. He went down the stairs, had his horse brought into the dark street before the door, and, accom. panied by his mehazni, that old soldier who had ridden with him from Tangier, went out of the city over the plain towards Sefru. For through that small town of gardens and fruit at the base of the Atlas spur, Stretton would come. But he did not come on that
day, nor on the next. But, on the other hand, Ibrahim, Warrisden's guide, brought bad news.
He mounted to the roof in the morning, while Warrisden sat there after his breakfast, and crouched down behind the parapet so that he might not be seen. For the men leave the roof-tops to their women-folk, and do not trespass there themselves.
"Sir,' said he, the road between Djebel Silfat and Djebel Zarhon is cut. Word has come into Fez this morning. The Z’mur have come down from the hills, and sit across the road, stopping and robbing everyone.'
Warrisden sat up.
‘Are you sure ? ' he asked. He was, as he knew, in a country of liars. Ibrahim, in addition, was a coward in the country districts, though the best of braggarts at Tangier. He had ridden on his mule slung about with weapons-a Spanish rifle on his back, a revolver in his belt, and a Winchester in his hands; while between the fingers of his left hand he carried ready four cartridges—but he was none the less afraid. However, Warrisden remembered that mountain pass which led from the plain of the Sebou up to Segota. It was very lonely, it was narrow, the road looped perpetually round the bases of the round buttresses of Djebel Silfat. It would certainly be an awkward place wherein to be entrapped.
'Yes, yes, I am sure,' replied Ibrahim, 'the Z’mur are bad men. They might capture you and hold you to ransom.'
Warrisden was inclined to discount Ibrahim's terror of the Z’mur. The lawless deeds of that wild and fanatical tribe had been dinned into his ears ever since he had crossed the Sebou ; until he had come to make light of them. But there was no doubt they terrorised the people ; in the villages where Warrisden had camped, they were spoken of with a dread hardly less than that which Ibrahim betrayed. It would certainly never do to be taken by the Z’mur. They would be released, no doubt; but time would be wasted. They might be kept for weeks in the forest of Marmura. They would reach Roquebrune too late.
Warrisden had brought with him, as a servant, one of the men who had been with him to Ain-Sefra, and descending the stairs he called him, and spoke, bidding Ibrahim interpret.
“Do you remember the mule which I gave away at Ain-Sefra ?' he asked. And the man answered, 'Yes!'
*You would know it again ?'
The man was sure upon that point. He described the marks by which he would recognise the beast.
* Very well,' said Warrisden. 'Go out to the west of Fez, and watch the road to Sefru. If you see a Jew come towards Fez driving the mule, lead him at once to this house. Watch all day until the gate is closed.'
The man went off upon his errand, and Warrisden betook himself to the vice-consulate. On his return he summoned Ibrahim, and said:
We must travel by Mequinez and Mediyah. A letter will be given to us, passing us on from governor to governor. We can reach Larache, travelling hard, in five days. We may find a steamer there for Gibraltar. If not, we must go on, in one more day, to Tangier.'
Ibrahim bowed his head and made no further protest. In the evening Warrisden's servant came back from the gate ; his watch had been fruitless. Thus three days had passed. Warrisden became anxious again, and restless. The seven days which Tony Stretton could take, and still reach Roquebrune by the date on which Pamela insisted, were now curtailed. Six days formed the limit, and even that limit implied that the journey should be of the swiftest. Of those six days, three had gone.
The fourth came, and passed. Warrisden rode out upon the track to Sefru in vain. Even the promised letter did not come. Warrisden made inquiries. It would come, he was told. There was no doubt upon that score. But a Government letter takes a long time in the writing in Morocco. It was not until the fifth evening that a messenger from the Palace knocked upon the door. These were the days when Mulai-el-Hassan ruled in Morocco, and was on the march against his rebellious tribes for nine months out of the twelve. Mulai-el-Hassan, at this particular time, was far away to the south in the Sus country, and therefore the mountain pass to the north was dangerous.
Warrisden had his letter, however, sealed with the Viceroy's seal. But he gazed out over the city as it lay, warm and ruddy in the sunset, and wondered whether it would avail at all. His servant had come back from the gate with his familiar answer. No Jew had driven the mule down the road into Fez that day. And there was only one more day.
Warrisden descended the stairs to the gallery on the first floor, and as he came out upon it, he heard voices in the courtyard below.
He looked over the balustrade and saw a man standing amongst his muleteers and servants. Warrisden could not see his face. He was dressed in rags, but the rags were the remnants of a black gabardine, and he wore a black skull-cap upon his head.
It is likely that Warrisden would have taken no further notice of the man, but that he cringed a little in his manner as though he was afraid. Then he spoke in Arabic, and the voice was timorous and apologetic. Warrisden, however, knew it none the less. He leaned over the balustrade :
Stretton!' he cried out in a burst of joy.
The man in the courtyard looked up. Warrisden would never have known him but for his voice. A ragged beard stubbled his cheeks and chin; he was disfigured with dirt and bruises ; he was lean with hunger ; his face was drawn and hollow from lack of sleep. But there was something more, a wider difference between this ragged Stretton in the courtyard and the Stretton Warrisden had known than mere looks explained. The man who had looked up when he heard his voice loudly and suddenly pronounced, had been startled-nay, more than startled. He had raised an arm as though to ward off a blow. He had shrunk back. He had been afraid. Even now, when he looked at Warrisden and knew that he was here in a house of safety, he stood drawing deep breaths, and trembling like one who has received a shock. His appearance told Warrisden much of the dangers of the journey from Ain-Sefra through the hills to Fez.
'Yes,' said Tony, 'I am here. Am I in time?'
'Just in time,' cried Warrisden. Oh, but I thought you never would come !'
He ran down the steps into the courtyard.
* Balak !' cried Stretton with a laugh. “Wait till I have had a bath, and got these clothes burnt.'
In such guise, Tony Stretton came to Fez. He had gone straight to the Vice-Consulate, and thence had been directed to Warrisden's house. When, an hour later, he came up on to the gallery and sat down to dinner, he was wearing the clothes of a European, and the look of fear had gone from his face, the servility from his manner. But Warrisden could not forget either the one or the other. Tony Stretton had come through the mountains-yes. But the way had not been smooth.
(To be continued.)
NAVAL WARFARE TO-DAY: WHAT JAPAN
BY ADMIRAL SIR CYPRIAN BRIDGE, G.C.B.
WHATEVER may be the final result of the present war in the Far East, the deep impression made on the world by the demeanour and performances of Japan is likely to endure. That country has extorted from the nations of Western Europe and America a tribute -not always ungrudgingly rendered—of mingled admiration and surprise. We have had to admit that what she has done has been well done, and we do not conceal our astonishment that it should be so. If our admiration is becoming, is it creditable to us that we should have been surprised ? The question is worth asking, as it involves considerations of the highest importance to us Britons, viz. those relating to our national security. It is to utter a truism to say that Surprise is the offspring of Ignorance ; but there are circumstances which justify the utterance, and even the repetition, of a truism. What right had we to be ignorant of the real progress made by Japan? We had been in closer communicationcommercial, financial, political—with her than any other nation had been. It was we who definitely introduced her into the circle of civilised' Powers, the word civilised being put between inverted commas with deliberate intention. When the war with Russia
egan we had been two years in alliance with Japan. Scholars of our blood had done as much as, if not more than, those of any other country to make the rest of the world acquainted with the thoughts and spirit of the Japanese. There were, indeed, some Englishmen who did understand the condition that Japan had reached, and who were not surprised at her success in war, which, as a matter of truth, they had predicted. Such people, however, were but few.
Not many weeks ago a former resident in Japan told a friend of mine that in the early seventies the Japanese were quite ‘uncivilised,' and thus suggested the measure of the progress made by them. This estimate of the stage of culture which Japan had reached before she had assimilated Western methods was a common