Love has no other desire,
But to fulfil itself;
To melt and be like,
A running brook that sings;
Its melody to the night,
To wake at dawn with winged heart,
And give thanks for another day of loving.
“It was many years ago in times of the great Caliph’s, there lived a caliph who was a good and learned man. He was known throughout the land as a lover and patron of the ‘Arts’ and many would come to him for help. Now there lived a poet, a man skilled in the weaving of verse and wise in all knowledge, he came to the caliph for help and soon became the caliph’s close friend and constant companion. The poet was a kind man and this showed in his work, his verses would inspire and motivate the people and the caliph admired him. His wit as well as his wisdom became well known and it was rare indeed when the two of them were not seen together. So it was that one night during an exceptionally cold winter the caliph and the poet sat round a fire eating some dinner together, the caliph suddenly shivered as a cold breeze blew aside the heavy drapes and chilled him to the bone.
“Brrr, this weather is indeed unbearably cold, no man or beast could live in such weather. Why Allah in his greatness hath decreed this is beyond me.”
The poet smiled and nodded his head, “Yes my lord the weather is indeed cold but Allah in his mercy would never give us more than we can bear. The weather brings yet another cycle of His blessings and besides He provides for all His subjects whatever they need. There are many poor subjects in your kingdom my lord, who survives in far worse weather than this. We though being more accustomed to the warmth in the palace do not realize that man can endure much suffering.”
“Ha, that man could survive unaided in such as this is impossible, for without a fire or clothing he would die.”
“Not necessarily my lord, for if Allah wills it, then he will survive. Even naked and without heat he will survive.”
“Do you believe such? Then prove it to me. I will make you a wager my friend. If you can survive a night on the roof without clothing and no heat then I will pay you one thousand dinnars! What say you to that?”
The poet thought carefully on it then nodded in acceptance. After dinner the caliph went with him up to the roof, and then took all of the poets clothing from him and brought it back into the house with him. Then he bid his friend goodnight as he retired for the night to the warmth of his room.
“When you are ready to come in my friend,” laughed the caliph “just knock for the guard, he will be waiting on the inside of the door.” The caliph sure that his friend would not last more than an hour or two, then left and retired downstairs for a good night’s sleep, leaving his friend shivering on the rooftop. Early in the morning after the caliph arose, he dressed himself and went to see the guard upstairs to find what time his friend came in.
“So then when did my friend come in?” he addressed the guard laughingly.
“He did not sir!” replied the servant.
“What! Do you mean he is still outside? The fool will have died! Open the door quickly!” The servant hurriedly opened the door and there squatting on the roof was his friend the poet, shivering from the cold, and almost blue, but yet alive. The caliph looked on incredulously shaking his head in unbelief, then quickly scanning all around he spotted on the distant hillside a small fire glowing, where a Bedouin had made his camp for the night.
The poet looked up at the caliph. “Well sir, I have proven my point, you owe me one thousand dinnars!”
“Bah, I will pay you nothing!” replied the caliph!
“Why my lord?” questioned the poet.
“By Allah, you were warmed by the fire of yonder Bedouin!” exclaimed the caliph angrily “I will not pay you.”
Seeing the caliph was set in his way the poet succumbed quietly without dissent and so the incident passed away without further attention.”
The Sharif paused for a moment in his story watching all present and seeing how engrossed they were, and then satisfied that he had everyone’s interest he continued.
“Now some months later, all was long forgotten and the poet and the caliph had gone hunting. They had traveled some distance from the palace, and the caliph complained he was getting hungry and they needed to go back. Therefore the poet motioned to a nearby tree offering shade from the heat of the sun and told his lord to rest while he would go down to the stream and prepare some food. The caliph went and sat down to rest while his friend went down to the riverside. Time passed and still the poet did not come back, finally hunger was overcoming the caliph, and he arose and went down to the stream to find out what had happened. There to his surprise sat the poet relaxing against a tree while a fire blazed away at the foot of it. What on earth! Where was the food? Glancing around him and then as he looked upward he stared incredulously, transfixed to the spot, for there on the top of the tree hung a pot with food in it.
“Are you mad, has all sense left you, how on earth can the food cook when the fire is here on the ground and the food is there up in the tree!” he exclaimed angrily.
“Why sir,” replied the poet calmly “it will cook the same way I was warmed while I was on the rooftop.”
The caliph stopped, his face clouded for a moment and then he relaxed and let out a loud laugh.
“Ha, ha, ha, you my friend win, you win, I will pay you the money, now come let’s get that pot down, and let’s cook this food so that we can then eat before I waste away.”
And so the caliph upon returning to the palace paid his friend the money that he owed him, and the wisdom of the poet spread out all over all the land. The poet had not succumbed to anger or bitterness in his situation with the caliph his friend, a situation that could have ruined their friendship, instead he used wisdom in proving a point and so kept the patronage of the caliph and his friendship.”
Every one clapped as the Sharif finished his story, Gulistan watched with loving eyes as she always did while her father related his stories. Ronald smiled he enjoyed the story which the Sharif had told in French for his benefit.
“It is indeed a story of lessons sir, one can learn much from it. Pride is indeed something which can part even the best of friends,” said Ronald.
The Sharif nodded appreciating the acclaim of his guest, but as he did he spotted his daughters glance toward Ronald.
Gulistan had turned at Ronald’s comment and viewed him with the adoring eyes of someone who was in love. This was a shock to the Sharif, his daughter in love with this foreigner, no it could not be. Anger arose in his breast, the protective love of a father arose in him almost overwhelming him with its power.
Then suddenly it started to subside as reason calmed him down had not Allah brought this stranger among them? Did not this stranger save his life and that of his daughter? If Allah had so brought this man among them then it would be wise to wait, to let Allah take care of the situation, but meantime he would watch matters more closely. Remembering that it was the time of month that he would need to go to Tangiers on business, he thought of an idea perhaps Ronald should accompany him on the trip.
“My dear friend, you have recovered well and have been much help in my household. I have need to travel to Tangiers on business would you please do me the honor of accompanying me? It will be for about a month in all and will bring to you some experience in my country.”
Ronald surprised at this offer looked a little uneasy as he quickly came to a decision. “Yes sir I would be most happy to, it will be a welcome change and as you say a chance to learn more of your land.”
His eyes caught those of Gulistan and he saw within them what he took to be love blossoming within. Yes, it would be good to get away from here, for maybe some distance between them would cool things a little, for it was seemingly getting to be a potentially dangerous situation here.
That night after dinner Ronald had gone for his usual ramble around in the quietness of the garden, while he enjoyed the fragrance of the ‘queen of the night’ he heard footsteps approaching. He looked over his shoulder and saw the Sharif coming over towards him.
“My dear friend I wished to catch you before you retired for I had something on my mind that I wished to make clear.” The Sharif announced as he reached him.
“First you may wonder about the fate of the assassins of last night, as to what happened to them after my guards took them? Well they are both chained within my house; I have them imprisoned there for the moment. I am you see the law in these parts, and as such I have full authority from the Sultan to punish all lawbreakers as according to the law. They will be questioned, first during my absence and upon my return from Tangiers they will be tried and sentenced accordingly. This information though we have found out already, and that is that they were paid killers in the employ of Assif’s brothers. It is then inevitable that he will try again, but by Allah’s grace He will keep us safe if it is His will.”
He stopped a moment as if taking thought of what he should say. “I have though another subject I wish to speak of.” He looked Ronald squarely in the eyes as he continued.
“It is a delicate subject and one I do not often approach. You see Allah in his wisdom created man and woman did He not? Man was created with the desire within to multiply and replenish the earth as was Allah’s commandment and as your Holy book also tells, is that not so?”
He paused watching Ronald as if to judge his reaction. Ronald nodded in ascension wondering where on earth this line of conversation was heading.
“This is a strong desire in man, so strong that it can overwhelm a man’s thinking, and so Allah in his mercy has given to man women for his own use. Our Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him has granted unto us up to four wives to ensure that this desire is kept in it’s place, he also in the ‘Sura ‘Al-Ma’arij’ decreed that our ‘slave girls’ are lawful to us also for such bodily needs. Many of your own prophets did likewise as I remember is that not so?”
Ronald remembering the ‘Old Testament” once more nodded in affirmation.
“So then Allah in His wisdom knows our frame and our needs, for he created us with these desires, and He is merciful unto us. The Holy book decrees, ‘Woman are your fields; go, thou, into your fields as you please.’ Now Allah meant for man to go into his ‘own’ fields not those of his neighbor! You may wonder why I bring this subject up my friend. It is out of concern for your welfare, you are a stranger in a strange land, you have no wife, or field of your own to plow, yet you have needs, for Allah created you with these. I saw the first night of the feast when you ate with us that the young dancer Aysha delighted your eyes, she aroused desire within you, and therefore I have sent her to you. I wish now to give her to you as a gift.”
Seeing Ronald’s shock and surprise he stopped Ronald from replying with a motion of the hand.
“She is my slave and as such my property to dispose of, she is now yours it would cause great offence to me for you to refuse. She has a fondness for you, and I have spoken with her, she will fulfill your needs and you will find she is most happy with the arrangement. And as Allah has said ‘Go thou into thy fields as often as you please’, be thou fruitful bring forth sons. But a word of caution, restrain thyself from the fields that are not thine, for our law does not respond lightly to such incursions.”
The Sharif bowed slightly and left, while Ronald stood in amazement trying to digest all that had happened. Was the Sharif alerted to his feelings for Gulistan, was this a warning? No, for he had sent him the girl long before, yet then again maybe he was. He would need to be prayerful in whatever he now did.
Later that night as Ronald left his room and went to bathe before going to bed, he wondered at all the events that had transpired so far, it was indeed quite unusual. The Sharif really seemed to like him and thought that Allah had favored him, he had entrusted him with a lot, yet he was not fully open and completely honest. Still that was but to be expected.
After Ronald had washed and bathed himself he returned back up to his room, he passed by Yousuf in the hallway, he nodded as he passed by, but otherwise did not show any acknowledgement to him. As he entered through the beaded curtain into the room the smell of patchouli filled his nostrils, someone was here, a woman! He turned round and put down the clothes he was carrying on the side table, then moved over and looked behind the wooden screen that hid the bed from the view of the door.
There on the bed was the girl the Sharif had just given to him. She was breathtaking, the flickering light of the candles and the smell of the perfume intoxicated him. When she reached him she knelt down before him the smell of her perfume mingled with the burning incense and the fragrant oils from her skin, he closed his eyes and yielded to the moment.
“It is indeed a nice dinner Charles thank you for the invitation.” said William as he talked with his host afterwards.
Charles Maurice de Becu and his wife Jeanne were part of the French delegation present at the dinner. Charles was about fifty years old and balding, he was rather on the plum side but had a happy bright face, and he had been stationed in foreign countries nearly twenty-five years and was a very knowledgeable man of eastern countries. His wife was not so happy about the situation though; she was Charles’ second wife, his first having died in India of malaria.
Jeannie had been married to him for only three years all of which had been spent away from her beloved Paris and in her mind that was long enough to be away from France, she had met Charles at an Embassy ball in Paris when he was in between postings. She had fallen for him and his humor and the thought of being a diplomat’s wife enticed her, but now after experiencing it she realised it was not the life she had originally envisioned.
It was William’s new friend Cedric though who had actually arranged the whole evening’s entertainment at Charles’s home, it was though at the behest of Charles and Sir Edward to introduce to them the Sharif Yakub-al-Hassan. Charles had arrived in Morocco only four weeks ago and would be traveling out to Rabat where the majority of French were stationed. Before embarking on this journey he had been advised to meet the Sharif as his friendship was highly valued and could make things easier for him in his new administrations. Sir Edward was new to the area more so than Charles seeing he had always lived in Europe, everything to Sir Edward was new and challenging but he took everything in his stride. Cedric took an immediate likening to the chap and they had become friends in a very short time.
The Sharif had brought two companions with him on his journey, there was Mansoor who was of Indian origin and was one of his bodyguards. Cedric had met him on several occasions before, he was a large man strong and silent his eyes always on the alert for his masters safety. The other one was new, Cedric had never seen him before he was well built and had blue eyes, which was very unusual for Arabs, and there must have been some mixing of the bloods somewhere along the line. The Sharif introduced him as Ibn Hassan, Ibn Hassan had been quiet all evening not venturing into any conversation, just quietly sitting by the side and eating, watching and taking in all that happened. Was he a new bodyguard? Somehow it didn’t quite fit, for the Sharif treated him with respect and he seated himself with the others not aside as the bodyguards, he was strong yes, and looked a formidable adversary his face was strongly molded and he had a thick bush beard. He wore a blue silken Jellaba and his head was covered with a red keffiyeh something about him though was not quite right but Cedric could not place what it was that bothered him.
As they all retired to the smoking room where they discussed business for several hours. It was a very eventful evening and William it seemed hit it of with the Sharif, they talked quite freely about several subjects, and the Sharif found him to be a man of principal, conviction, and faith. He was impressed with this and offered to have William visit him later at their house in Tangiers.
As the evening drew near to its close they started to swap interesting stories that had occurred in their lives. William spoke of his time in the ‘Wild West’ and his loss of an eye, while Sir Edward retold the story of young Winston who had been in South Africa as a correspondent and was captured by the Boers. He escaped from their prison and traveled three hundred miles through occupied territory to freedom, a tale of bravery and perseverance. Edward met him shortly after his arrival back in England, as he was elected in to the House of Commons, the Sharif then held the guests spellbound with his tales of wonder, especially the one where he encountered the panther while alone in the hills as a youth of seventeen.
Sir Edward, who was sitting next to the Sharif sipping some cognac, then remembered an incident that he had forgotten for many years now.
“Well gentlemen, this is a true experience that happened to me almost twenty five years ago I believe. I was at that time holding a position in Paris; I often attended state functions and one evening while at a function an Indian prince whom I had the occasion to meet before approached me. An American gentleman whom I had struck up friendship with accompanied me at this function. The prince invited both my companion and I to accompany him out on to the balcony. There he produced a small leather pouch and proceeded to extract from it a small jewel. He handed it to me while I examined it carefully, it was not anything of great value, it was what we call a moonstone, but it was most unusual, for it was perfectly formed into the shape of a teardrop, naturally not cut by hand. In it there was a small cleft right in the heart of the stone, in its fissures it caught and refracted the light in such beauty that it caused us to marvel.”
The Sharif and Ibn Hassan were now very attentive to Sir Edward. As Edward continued his story and reached the meeting with Ian he suddenly realized that it could be offensive to his fellow guest to speak of conversion from Islam and stopped for a moment to think.
“I am sorry for the hesitation but it has been some time and I wish to get the facts straight.”
He paused and decided not to mention the names of religion, so he continued with out mention of such but using only the love of God as the motivating and change within the princess and the others. Finally he reached the end as the prince handed to him the stone and disappeared into the room.
“So there I stood with the stone in my hand, I looked at my companion and told him, I could not accept it therefore I gave it to him. It became the start of a friendship between us and he took the stone with him back to America. I never knew what became of him afterwards but I always have a special place in my heart for dear senator Atwood and the moonstone.”
William froze, his face went white, and both Sir Edward and Ibn Hassan noticed it, as did also the Sharif.
“My dear friend are you all right, has some sickness come upon you?” questioned Sir Edward rather concerned over the appearance of his friend.
“No, no, I will be fine.” He replied as he gained his composure. “You see I have the next part to your story!”
Everyone was now intently riveted to William as he started to relate his story.
“Senator Atwood you see is my former father in law and also the business man I am working in conjunction with. To pick up where Sir Edward left the story, the senator returned to the U.S. to attend my wedding to his daughter. As a wedding gift to his daughter he gave my wife the moonstone. It became her favorite piece of jewelry, until shortly afterward my wife died of sickness.”
He paused and it was obvious that this brought back sad memories long forgotten.
“I was later stationed in Rome, while I was initially there I left my daughter a beautiful young girl, in the care of my wife’s parents. Before leaving I had the moonstone put into a small brooch and gave it to my daughter. To come to the conclusion, it was sometime later that I sent for my daughter. She came to join me on a ship accompanied by a servant. The famous ‘Ziad Pasha’ attacked the ship and they were never heard of again. That I am sorry to say is the end to this strange story of Sir Edward.”
There was a complete silence in the room, Sir Edward bowed his head in sympathy for his friend, and the Sharif sat there his face impassive but his mind racing and his emotions in turmoil. There could be no two stones like that or stories so similar. His adopted daughter Gulistan must be the missing daughter of William Jackson. His heart was wrenched by the news, he felt torn in his love and his feelings of righteousness, and could say nothing.
Ibn Hassan or Ronald as he was, sat in similar state of emotional turmoil; this was explaining a lot of the mystery but what now? Should he expose it all to William and let him know the fate of his daughter? Should he keep silent and leave all as it is? T
here were so many things contingent upon this decision he was in a complete muddle of feelings. He needed to get his head cleared. He arose and walked over to the Sharif asking if he could be excused to get fresh air and go for a walk. The Sharif looked into his eyes and saw the confusion within. He nodded and sat still as Ronald left the assembly. What would he do thought the Sharif, for here was a chance for him to wed Gulistan, he could let William know the story and expose the Sharif and take Gulistan. What would he do? Should he try to stop him? No, it was all in the hands of Allah. Had He not engineered the whole situation, it would be best to leave it in His hands and wait.
When Ronald reached the cool evening air he paused and took a deep breath, as if to clear his throbbing head, he then moved down heading toward the docks, he raced along the narrow streets in search of some spot where he could get alone with his troubled mind. As he raced around the corner oblivious to all, there was so much passing through his mind that he was not even conscious as he crashed into a group of Legionnaires who were walking down the alley sending them all sprawling into the dirt along with himself.
“Look where you’re going you stupid wog!” cursed out one of them as he extradited himself from the mêlée of intertwined figures in the dirt brushing his shirt. Another picked Ronald up and threw him effortlessly like a piece of cloth against the wall. Ronald’s head reverberated like a gong as it struck the wall with such force as to almost render him unconscious.
“I’ll teach the wog a lesson he will never forget.” Lashing out with his foot across Ronald’s ribs as he prepared to beat him. Ronald was helpless his head spinning his eyes dazed, Orlando picked him up and lifted his fist to pound him when suddenly a strong hand reached out to stop him.
“Wait Orlando, hold your self do not strike! Remember the Captain warned us no trouble tonight or it’s the stockades for a week.” Said a commanding but calm voice.
Orlando seemed to calm down, Ronald could feel the power and energy of the man vibrating as he tried to control his anger. He released Ronald dropping him in a heap and spitting in his face with disgust.
“Don’t ever cross my path again you sniveling cur or I will crush you like a worm. You wogs are all the same groveling curs, who need to watch out for their betters, take care my friend that we meet not again”
As Ronald scrambled to his feet the legionnaire who had just rescued him, took him by the shoulder and escorted him safely out of their midst.
“Go now and be more mindful of where you’re going in the future.” he said. Ronald looked up as if to thank the man and their eyes met, he faltered it was Andre his friend. Andre froze there was something in this man’s face his eyes, where had he seen him. Ronald realizing the imminent danger quickly moved away, hurrying down into the alley, afraid to glance back at Andre.
Andre stood there in shock could it be? Was it Ronald? Was he really alive? What was he doing here and dressed like that?
“Come on, come on don’t worry about the wog, let’s get going the night is young and it will be another week before we have any time off again.” called out one of the legionaries.
Finally Ronald reached a quiet spot, he glanced around making sure he was not being followed, then proceeded to sit down under the light of the moon to think and pray.
Meanwhile in side the house Sir Edward and William were getting to know each other and Edward was happy to hear of how the senator was and that he was now in Cairo.
The Sharif had excused himself and returned to his quarters, the other guests were still mingling around drinking and exchanging different points of interest with each other; it had indeed been a strange and eventful evening.