Chapter 2

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Alroy, Edited by Sheila A. Spector


Part X

Chapter 2

‘SIRE! a Tatar has arrived from Hamadan, who will see none but thyself. I have told him your Highness was engaged, and sent him to the Lord Honain; but all denial is lost upon him. And as I thought perhaps the Lady Miriam—’

‘From Hamadan? You did well, Pharez. Admit him.’

The Tatar entered.

‘Well, Sir; good news, I hope!’

‘Sire, pardon me, the worst. I come from the Lord Abner, with orders to see the Caliph, and none else.’

‘Well, Sir, you see the Caliph. Your mission? What of the Viceroy?’

‘Sire, he bade me tell thee, that, the moment the beacon that announced the Feast of the New Moon was fired on Caucasus, the dreaded monarch of Karasmé, the great Alp Arslan, entered thy kingdom, and now overruns all Persia.’

‘Hah! and Abner?’

‘Is in the field, and prays for aid.’

‘He shall have it. This is indeed great news! When left you Hamadan?’

‘Night and day I have journeyed upon the swiftest dromedary. The third morn sees me at Bagdad.’

‘You have done your duty. See this faithful courier be well tended, Pharez. Summon the Lord Honain.’

‘Alp Arslan! Hah! a very famous warrior. The moment the beacon was fired. No sudden impulse then, but long matured. I like it not.’

‘Sire,’ said Pharez, re-entering, ‘a Tatar has arrived from the frontiers of the province, who will see none but thyself. I have told him your Highness was deeply busied, and as methinks he brings but the same news,—’

‘’Tis very likely; yet never think, good Pharez. I’ll see the man.’

The Tatar entered.

‘Well, Sir, how now! from whom?’

‘From Mozul.* The Governor bade me see the Caliph and none else, and tell your Highness, that the moment the beacon that announced the Feast of the New Moon was fired on the mountains, the fell rebel Abidan raised the standard of Judah in the province, and proclaimed war against your Majesty.’

‘In any force?’

‘The royal power keeps within their walls.’

‘Sufficient answer. Part of the same movement. We shall have some trouble. Hast summoned Honain?’

‘I have, Sir.’

‘Go, see this messenger be duly served, and, Pharez, come hither: let none converse with them. You understand?’

‘Your Highness may assure yourself.’

‘Abidan come to life. He shall not escape so well this time. I must see Scherirah. I much suspect—what’s this? More news!’

A third Tatar entered.

‘May it please your Highness, this Tatar has arrived from the Syrian frontier.’

‘Mischief in the wind, I doubt not. Speak out, knave!’

‘Sire! pardon me; I bear but sad intelligence.’

‘Out with the worst!’

‘I come from the Lord Medad.’

‘Well! has he rebelled? It seems a catching fever.’

‘Ah! no, dread Sire, Lord Medad has no thought but for thy glory. Alas! alas! he has now to guard it against fearful odds. Lord Medad bade me see the Caliph and none else, and tell your Highness, that the moment the beacon which announced the Feast of the New Moon was fired on Lebanon, the Sultan of Roum and the old Arabian Caliph unfurled the standard of their Prophet, in great array, and are now marching towards Bagdad.’

‘A clear conspiracy! Has Honain arrived? Summon a council of the Vizirs instantly. The world is up against me. Well! I’m sick of peace. They shall not find me napping!’

Published @ RC

January 2005

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