Josephine Spencer was one of the prominent promoters of the "Home Literature" movement that began among Latter-day Saints in the late 1880s (see Orson F. Whitney, "Home Literature"). That movement intended to promote literature written by and for Mormons. It was also typically about Latter-day Saint experience. "The Descendant of an Ancestor" contains no overt Mormon characters, themes, or settings. It is a fairly typical adventure and romance story from the late 19th century. The titular focus on descendants and ancestors is resonant with Mormon theology, and the opening device of finding an ancient writing echoes Joseph Smith's discovery and translation of various ancient records. Somewhat surprising is the way that Spencer draws upon an interest in the exotic that includes a desert kingdom in a faraway place and the allure of a Muslim woman, herself happily lured away to the west by the men who visit her. In other words, Spencer does not hesitate to draw upon the same sensationalistic trappings of 19th century journalism and pulp fiction that had so often been applied to Mormons (with their desert kingdom, their purported seducing and kidnapping of women, and polygamy), just stripped of Mormon reference and repackaged for the enjoyment of a young Mormon audience. This story provides a curious counterpoint to the "faith-promoting" literature (see the Faith Promoting Series published by the Juvenile Instructors Office) that was the mainstay of the Home Literature movement. --Gideon Burton
“Does it read of treasure, messieurs?”
The Turkish guide and interpreter asked the question eagerly, pushing his face between those of the two Englishmen who stood beside him, and making an effort to catch sight of the roll of yellow parchment which they held in their hands.
“Not of the material kind whose vision is probably outlined on the retina of your mind’s eye, my good Abdar,” returned the drawling tones of one of his companions. “I doubt if the preciousness of the discovery of a rare bit of old English autobiography in the heart of a desert supposed to have been trodden, until recently, only by the feet of camels, horses, sheep and barbarians, will be apparent to your guileless imagination; but the wealth it will furnish to delvers in mines of Haggardian literature can only be expressed by the hyperbolic language of an Arabian Night’s tale.”
Abdar’s target-like eyes, in answer to this, took on the mystified glare which it was Greyton’s unfailing pleasure to behold, and the latter once more devoted his attention to the parchment.
The two Englishmen were of a party who had started from Constantinople with the purpose of exploring the country east of the Taurus Mountains, a trip incited by the works of a French savant on the subject of archæogical treasures, existing in some of the ancient Saracenic towns—one of which contained a tomb bearing inscriptions and carvings as interesting and beautiful as those which had been discovered at Susa. It was Danvers, Greyton’s friend and companion, who was greatly interested in archæogical studies, to whom their present journey was owing; the latter accompanying him more for the novel experience promised, than for an interest in the object of the expedition. The worthy professor who set out with them having found material to interest him at Komo, the two friends, not wishing to bury themselves in the small town during the time it would take for his investigations, decided to go on to the valley of Ulbeck, which possessed not only the noted tombs, but had also a reputation for great beauty, having been compared by an English traveler with the famous vale of Cashmere.
The professor had insisted upon lending them the Turkish interpreter, who had been chartered for the expedition, and whose knowledge of dialects, picked up in his trips made with other travelers, rendered his services invaluable for the expedition. The savant before mentioned had been Abdar’s first patron, and since then all travelers were to him “messieurs,” and his manner of expressing this title alone, endowed its recipients with the prestige of distinction. They had been traveling with relays of horses and donkeys through the widely scattered villages lying along the western slope of the mountains, and now found themselves, in the noon hour of an August day, near the northern end of the circle of mountains which enclosed the vale of Ulbeck. The entrance to the valley still lay some miles further south, and, attracted by the shade of a cave, which opened in the steep slope of the mountain, they had dismounted, ordering Abdar to unpack the donkeys, intending to remain here until sundown, when the remainder of their journey might be made with more comfort. The cave which they entered seemed to extend far back into the mountain, though they made no effort to explore its recesses, contenting themselves with the grateful shelter afforded by the large compartment near its opening After luncheon, while Danvers, stretched out upon the floor, was enjoying his cigar, Greyton penetrated a short distance into the rear darkness, subjecting the walls of the cave to a careful mineralogical inspection. Lighting a match to search for a loose piece of the rock, which he might secure for a specimen, his eyes suddenly fell upon an object which caused his careless glance to change to one of alert interest. In a small cavity into which he had plunged the slender flame of his match, was a small iron box, rusted and time-stained, and bearing the appearance of having been undisturbed for centuries. Lifting it from its place, and pressing prominent spring at its edge, the lid easily yielded to his touch, and peering curiously inside, Greyton saw what appeared to be a roll of ancient parchment. There were letters inscribed on it, and bearing it into the light, Greyton saw with amazement, that the language, though written in an ancient and obsolete form of orthography, was familiar—being no other than the old English of the thirteenth century. He called Danvers to share in his discovery, and the two friends eagerly set themselves to decipher its meaning. With spelling slightly modified from the original, for the convenience of our readers, the inscription read as follows:
“Trustynge bye grace of God ys writinge may come to be seen of them, mye countriemen, who myghte bye chonce fayre ys waye for pilgrymage to the Holy Jerusalem, I am constrained by sore neede for to begge mercye and helpe for myne most woefulle plyghte. It fallinge that I, Geoffry Wardon, knighte of England, beinge called bye peryl of Christians in Jerusalem, to goe forthe to the Holy Wars, and beinge come to Venice in service of Count Robert, was theyre changed from our purpose for to sette seige to Constantinople. Beinge successful in ys enterprise, it happenyth that I, wyth a goodlye number of mye countriemen, having come thus far, and beinge minded to make pilgrymage to ye Holy Sepulchyre, weyre thus come some distance on our waye, when it befelle our schippe to be wrecked off a strange coast—whereof but myne own self and one other ben saved. Havinge yette hope to come to Jerusalem bye lande, we so fared on oure waye, but beinge come to a smalle village, weyre theyre set upon bye barbarous inhabitants, it befallinge mye companyon to be at once slayne; and that I met not like manner of fayte was bye resoun of intention bye them to deliver me to ye Sultoun of Aleppo, it beinge of much joy to him to give griveous, cruel treatment to alle Christians. I hadde thus been helde, and so come bye mye death hadde it not befelle ye chieftan of a nebouringe valleye shoulde bringe suddyn attacke upon ye village, killing many and takinge others captive. It so happenyth that I, beinge among these laste, hadde fortune to finde favoure wyth ys feirce chieftan, it beinge come to hys hearinge I hadde faughten against ye Sultoun, whome he mightily despised, forbye he ben bounden to yeilde large tribute, which was of payneful duty to him, bye resoun of hys exceedynge haughty spirit, having power in hys owne valley whereof he had yeilded to none other before. He was thus minded to treat me civillie, whereof I am much thankful. And beinge shutte in ys valley bye highe mountains and walls whereof theyre be no means of escape, I was fain to be content, as I myghte well be, havinge been given bye favoure of ye chieftan, to wed hys daughter—a fayre and affectionate creature whom I can but love well—and beinge gyfted, besides, wyth much highe power of athority in alle ye valley. Yet havinge now been captive manye years, and filled with sore longings to sette eyes on myne native countrie—I hadde so come bye stronge purpose to go forth privily from the valley—and havinge come bye flyghte thro a certyn secret passage, digged thro the mountain, for to gyve means of escape to ye people, in chance beset bye sore neede, and beinge come in safty to ys place, am now beset wyth muche doubte for how to go that long waye homeward, without schippe, even if bye peryl and difficulty I should come bye ye sea—and filled, too, wyth grieveous forebodynge of mye younge daughter, a fayre Christian chylde, beliken nether in look nor disposition to thys barbourous peopel, and from whom it grieveth me sorely to part. It beinge brought to mye heart it were mye duty as her father to watch bye her, that I might perchance save her, though but a lytle, from evil fate; and, as it seemeth best to mye conscience, I am now minded strongly to return, trustynge in Providence to restore me in short tyme to mye owne lande. If thys writinge be found, and any minded to come to mye helpe, I would give warning that they come in secret, bye waye of thys passage, as an exceedynge strong host myghte seek in vain to gain entrance bye ye gates of ye valley Charging ye who may reade ys writinge, bye grace of heaven, to beare pity for myne distress, not so much for mye helpe, but for mye fayre chylde whome it were a Christian duty to deliver from thys barbourous people.
“Ys signed bye me,
“Of Englysh countrie.”
After reading the paper to the end, the friends were silent, chained by the spell of romance and sadness which breathed from the ancient parchment. Though the paper was crumbling to decay, and the words couched in the quaint phraseology of past centuries, it seemed as if the echo of a living voice had reached them, filling them with sympathy and pity by the pathos of its appeal. Centuries had passed since the manuscript was written. Their eyes were the first which had fallen upon its contents, since the homesick and sorely tried knight had placed it in its hiding place, with the hope that aid might reach him. What had been his fate? Had he escaped from his captivity, or yielded to the destiny seemingly enjoined by the exigencies of his position? It was Abdar’s voice which first roused them from the reverie induced by their strange discovery. After rereading the manuscript they placed it carefully in the iron box.
“There can be no doubt,” remarked Danvers, “that the valley in which our unfortunate countryman was imprisoned centuries agone, is the one towards which we are wending our way. This cave is probably the entrance to the passage which leads through the mountain, and no doubt opens into the vale of Ulbeck. Tomorrow we shall be on the ground once trodden by the unhappy English knight.”
“I shall feel as if perpetrating an anachronism, if not sacrilege, to enter the vale as a peaceful tourist, after imbibing the spirit of romance which breathes from this ancient tale,” returned Greyton. “I am half inclined to don a suit of armor, push my way boldly through the secret passage, and dash valiantly to the rescue—“
”Of whom?” inquired the prosaic Danvers. “It is probable that Sir Geoffry is no longer in need of assistance.”
“I am haunted by the thought of that ‘fayre, Christian chylde,’ “ said Greyton somewhat dreamily.
“There is but one ‘she,’ “ observed Danvers, sententiously, “and Haggard is her prophet. According to the account of this simple writer, the only female gifted with an eon’s lease on life was recently cremated; hence your sentimental regret as well as your valorous impulse would seem to be in vain.”
“I cannot throw off this spell of romance,” said Greyton. “We are in a land whose religion and philosophy teaches the doctrine of reincarnation. Who knows that the soul of the knight’s daughter may not dwell to-day in the body of one of these maidens in the vale of Ulbeck.”
“There is nothing impossible in the idea that he may have a decendant,” returned Danvers, refusing to lend himself to his friend’s mood, “though Sir Geoffry may have escaped, and his decendants be living to-day in England. We may have seen the features of the ‘fayre chylde’—transmitted through generations—in a photograph in the ‘Book of Beauty,’ or in the shop windows in London.”
“I cannot believe that the knight escaped,” returned Greyton, “and when we come to Ulbeck, I shall devote myself to investigating the matter. It is an archæogical subject to which I can devote myself with interest. While you delve amongst the tombs, it shall be the object of my unceasing quest to trace the history of the English knight, and discover his descendants.”
Incited by the new interest occasioned by their romantic discovery, the Englishmen decided to go on at once to Tula, the village which lay on this side of the entrance to Ulbeck, in order that they might reach the valley early the next day. Before sundown they entered the village, and having with difficulty procured a place of lodgment for the night, retired to their couches to dream of the novel adventure of the day. Early the next morning Abdar came to them with information, which he had gained from the villagers, in regard to the valley toward which they were wending their way. The Ulbecks were on bad terms, it seemed, with the neighboring towns, a state of affairs occasioned by the quarrelsome disposition of Aziz, a brother of one of the wives of the khan, and occupying the position of a sort of prime minister to the Turkish ruler. He delighted to wage a petty warfare with the neighboring towns, being assured of his own safety by reason of the valley’s strong position; and his last aggressive act had been to attack, with a number of the khan’s servants, a caravan laden with costly goods, belonging to the chieftain of a neighboring province, carrying off the booty to enrich the household of the khan.
The result was that the infuriated lord had sent a messenger to Aziz, to the effect that if the stolen articles were not immediately returned, he would incite a number of towns to join with him in laying siege to the valley. The only reply made by Aziz, to this treat, was to swing the great gates, which stood at the entrance to the valley, upon the retreating footsteps of the messenger—a reply fraught with more meaning than the strongest language could have held. These gates were set in a high wall built across the opening of the valley, and were the only practicable means of entrance, the rest of the vale being enclosed in a circle of high mountains.
Some time had passed since the occurrence of this warlike episode, and it was supposed that the injured chieftain had abandoned his useless project, though the gates of the valley were still closed in view of attack. In consideration of this state of affairs, it would be a little more difficult for the messieurs to gain admittance to the valley, Abdar explained, but if they would permit him, he would suggest a plan by which they could easily gain a welcome. Merchants of good station, often traveled from town to town exhibiting their wares, and if the messieurs would present themselves in this character, he had no doubt they would be admitted through the gates. As this seemed to offer the only way out of the dilemma, the friends decided to adopt the plan—especially as they were well provided with means for carrying it out. It happened that a trunk containing valuable curiosities which they had obtained during their journey, and which they had intended to leave at Constantinople till their return, had, through some blunder, been forwarded to Komo, reaching them the day after their arrival, and as it had barely escaped loss on the way, through a careless accident, the friends decided to keep it henceforth under their personal care, providing an extra donkey for its conveyance on their travels. It was decided that some of the articles should be exhibited to gain admittance, and once inside the gates, such a price set upon them as should obviate any chance of losing them through purchase of the inhabitants.
Having perfected the details of their plan, the party set out upon their way to the Ulbeck Valley. Traveling through a defile which led up to its entrance, in a few hours they came in view of the high wall built between the mountains which opened at this point, and as they approached near, they could see the great gates with the hut, or gate house, perched upon the wall, and children playing around it, presenting a peaceful picture, in strange contrast with the one suggested by the warlike rumors they had heard.
At the gates they overtook a group of Persian bird peddlers who were going to display their trained falcons before the khan, who indulged himself in every expensive luxury, and was particularly devoted to the pastime of hawk flying.
As they neared the gate, a curious kind of basket was let down from the wall, attached to ropes which were run through raised iron rings set in the top of the wall. Into this basket the peddlers stepped one at a time, being drawn to the top by a donkey on the inside of the walls, and to which the other ends of the ropes were attached. As the Englishmen stood noting this novel mode of ingress, and speculating, as the basket swung in mid air, upon the probable result of a sudden backward movement on the part of the irresponsible motor inside, Abdar pressed forward and addressed the gate keeper, who stood at the door of his hut, idly watching the oscillatory advance of the strangers towards his threshold His masters, the messieurs, Abdar remonstrated, should not be subjected to this undignified mode of entrance, as they were distinguished Christian merchants and savants, and bore letters from Constantinople, giving them permission to explore the tombs in the valley. Besides this, they brought with them magnificent wares to display before the khan. All this Abdar recited with a play of violent hyperbole and gesture, which produced a visible impression upon the indolent keeper. Disappearing within the door of his lofty domicile as the last of the bird fanciers performed a lightning ascension to the top of the wall—a feat caused by the sudden capricious motion on the part of the unreliable propeller inside—the keeper appeared at the gate below, swinging it open a short distance, and permitting them to enter.
The arrival of the bird fanciers had attracted a throng about the gates, and when the strangers entered, a demand was made for a display of the wares which they had heard Abdar describe before entering. Abdar deigned not to parley with this commoner herd, however, declaring that the business of his messieurs was with the khan, and demanding that they should be allowed to proceed at once to the palace. The throng made way for them at once, impressed by the important manner of Abdar, who proceeded with the air of a grand marshal conductiug a princely retinue.
As they approached towards the palace the two Englishmen gazed around upon the valley. It had all the beauty which the descriptions read by them had led them to expect. The entire vale was a blooming garden. Groves of olive and fig trees, fields of rye, gardens of roses, quaint roofs and walls swathed with vines and flowers spread clouds of emerald foliage throughout the vale. Towards the eastern slope of the valley was the khan’s palace—an imposing group of buildings joined together by courts, terraces, latticed walks and gardens, which with the arched gateways and rounded domes of the roofs, made up an ideal oriental picture. They soon arrived at an outer court leading to the palace, and Abdar at once dispatched a messenger to the khan with news of the messieurs’ arrival and business. A short, wizen-eyed Turk soon made his appearance, who proved to be no other than the prime minister, Aziz, who informed Abdar that the Englishmen might present themselves before his master; and the two, with their precious trunk carried by Abdar and a Turkish servant, who came behind, were soon ushered into the khan’s apartment. This they found furnished with true oriental splendor. Gorgeous silken hangings swathed the walls, and satin and velvet divans with ornaments of silver, gold and rare woods, adorned the room.
The khan, whose gorgeous appearance accorded in every way with his surroundings, received the English with civility, and after hearing the letters of credit which were read to him by Abdar, courteously declared that his household and domain were at their command. His chief interest in the strangers, however, was caused through the account given by Adar of their wares—a glowing description of them having been furnished by him upon their first entrance into the apartment. Having unlocked the trunk which contained their treasures, the officious servitor was about to spread its contents upon the carpet, when he was restrained by the prudent Danvers, who had no wish to exhibit the best of his treasures, lest the khan’s vanity might lead him to indulge in their purchase regardless of expense. Among the articles belonging to him was an exquisite comb made of rows of Roman pearls arranged in the shape of a crescent, supposed to have belonged to a Byzantine princess, and which had been purchased at the cost of a small fortune. This was the last object which Danvers desired to exhibit, but Greyton, who was possessed of an ulterior purpose, placed his hand upon the costly ornament and at once brought it to view. The chieftain examined it with an air of approval. Turning to Abdar he demanded the price asked by the English merchants. Greyton calmly named a sum which exceeded the wealth of half his domain. The khan’s eyes opened wide with astonishment, when Abdar repeated this statement, and a flush of annoyance spread over his face. He made some hasty avowal, which Abdar had not time to interpret, ere the curtain before one of the doorways was drawn aside, and a servant entered, with the oriental obeisance, and addressed the khan. His entrance was opportune, for the chief at once handed Abdar the comb, and with an impatient air waved his hand towards the doorway through which the servant had entered. Abdar interpreted the servant’s message: “Adee, the khan’s daughter, desires to see the wares brought by the English merchants.”
The two friends rose at once to follow the Turkish servant. As they passed through the gardens to the far portion of the palace where were situated the women’s apartments, Greyton turned to Danvers with an elated countenance.
“Something tells me,” he said in a decided tone, “that we are going to behold the descendant.”
The next moment they entered a rose garden outside the women’s palace. As they proceeded through a path leading to the entrance, Greyton suddenly paused, his eyes fixed upon a low portico which jutted out over the lower doorway. Following the direction of his gaze, Danvers saw an enchanting picture. Standing at a doorway framed with rose vines, and looking out into the garden was a young Turkish girl, robed in the picturesque oriental costume which was made of soft, cream colored cloth bordered with deeper gold, her sacque and sash of yellow silk embroidered with seed-like pearls. The skirt was long, reaching almost to the instep, and showing but a glimpse of the silken Turkish trousers beneath. Though her eyes and hair were black, the friends noted that her complexion was of dazzling fairness, presenting a startling contrast to that of other Turkish women they had seen during their journey. There was the oriental languor of expression in the eyes, but an intelligent and expressive air about her movements, strangely at variance with that of the people by whom she was surrounded; a fact which whispered that the hope which Greyton’s romantic imagination had formed, might not be in vain.
The conventional veil was draped about her head, though she did not conceal her face as they approached, but stood regarding them curiously for a moment, and then withdrew into the house. The servant led the way up the short flight of steps leading to the porch, and a moment later they found themselves in the presence of the khan’s daughter. An aged and yellow female, Ulzmah by name, and holding the position of both attendant and duenna to Adee, greeted them, motioning them to a seat upon the cushions piled against the wall.
Adee had seated herself upon a divan, and vouchsafed not a glance at the strangers, while Abdar was spreading the contents of the trunk upon the carpet. Abdar now met with no restraint, and the choicest articles of their collection were exhibited before the eyes of the Turkish maiden. Ulzinah was the one who seemed most interested in the display, and was soon extolling the praises of the Roman comb, showing it to Adee, who, indeed, showed her appreciation of its beauty. The latter examined it slowly, uttering a few words in a low tone to her companion.
“It is Adee’s wish that she may possess the comb,” repeated Abdar, bending upon his messieurs a weird look.
Ulzinah rose and placed the beautiful ornament in her mistress’ hair. The pearls framed Adee’s face like a halo, enhancing her wonderful beauty. Ulzinah turned to them with a question.
“At what price, messieurs?” repeated Abdar after her. Greyton was silent. “I shall be pleased if the lady Adee will favor me by accepting the comb,” stammered Danvers.
Abdar hesitatingly repeated this statement. Adee and her attendant gazed with astonishment at the generous merchants. Danvers flushed painfully. He was conscious of having committed a blunder. It was Greyton who came to the rescue. “We are under obligation to the khan for permission to examine the ancient tombs in the valley,” he said to Abdar, who repeated the explanation, and the mistake was bridged over.
Another half hour was spent by Ulzinah in looking over the collection. Adee was shy or indifferent, it was hard to determine which. Ulzinah chose for herself a bracelet of onyx beads, which had been found in the ruins of Pompeii—and whose value the Turkish lady would never realize except through vision. For Adee was also a pair of tiny silver clasps, taken from an ancient silken sandal, found in an Egyptian tomb. All these were purchased at a nominal price. The rest of the collection, consisting principally of volumes of rare print, faded paintings, and tarnished relics, had no charm for the Turkish ladies, and the conference being ended, Abdar led the way out of the apartment. The servant who had shown them into Adee’s presence had given news of the princely gifts made by the strangers, and they found the khan awaiting them with lavish thanks and a profuse show of hospitality. A suite of rooms was set apart for them, and the service of the household placed at their command. On the day after their arrival the khan, in return for their gifts, presented each of them with a fine Persian horse; and it was not the least of the pleasures which they now experienced, to ride them about the charming valley.
Danvers at once became wrapped up in his archæogical researches, digging amongst the half buried tombs from morning till night. Greyton devoted himself to learning the language, and with the books which had been provided by the professor, and Abdar’s help, he made rapid progress.
During the two months which had slipped pleasantly away since their arrival, Abdar had been set to make inquiries in regard to the history of the English knight. He at last found out from Aziz, that a Christian had wedded the daughter of an Ulbeck chieftain centuries ago; but the people hated him for his race and religion, as well as for his favor with the ruler, and they had risen against the latter, at length killing him and the Christian son-in-law, and placing a rival chieftain to rule over the valley. This chieftain had wedded the Christian’s daughter, being influenced both by her beauty and her relation to the former khan, the latter fact investing him with a better title to the Turkish chieftain’s domains. From them had descended the present line of khans. Adee was thus, as Greyton had anticipated, a literal descendant of the unfortunate English knight. The subject had not been broached to Adee, it being decided by them that their course, in regard to relating the scrap of ancient history which had fallen into their possession, should be determined by the future turn of events.
It had transpired about a week after their arrival, that Danvers rode out to the tombs, leaving Greyton to pour over his Turkish books, in their room at the palace, when a message was dispatched to them by Adee to the effect that she again wished to inspect some of the articles among the English merchants’ wares. Selecting those which had been named, Greyton complacently followed the servant to Adee’s palace. He found her with Ulzinah and some other ladies of the household, seated upon cushions in the rose garden, and while exhibiting the articles he managed with the help of Abdar and the Turkish synonyms he had conquered, to interest them with a relation of the history of the relics; and after this, it transpired that Danvers often returned from his labors at the tombs, to find his friend entertaining them with an account of his travels, and other matters of like interest. Sometimes the khan listened to these conversations, being pleased to show his gracious disposition towards the distinguished and wealthy messieurs. Thus all went swimmingly, until an event occurred which completely changed the even tenor of affairs. This transpired through the agency of Aziz. It happened with him as with many other astute politicians, that having enjoyed a generous range of liberty, he longed to experience the luxury of absolute power; and as the khan had no son, he saw nothing to interfere with his assuming control of affairs in the valley when the khan should die, unless, indeed, Adee’s marriage should interpose an obstacle in the shape of a rival aspirant. This event he determined to prevent by marrying Adee himself, and he therefore watched every movement of the maiden with jealousy, incited both by ambition and love. The intimacy and favor enjoyed by the strangers in the khan’s household had occasioned in him no fear of rivalry, however, till the occurrence of the event before mentioned, served to arouse his direst suspicious.
From a window of the palace, one day, he had seen Greyton walking in the rose garden with Adee and Ulzinah. As this event was of daily occurrence, it, in itself, caused no alarm; but presently, as the Turkish duenna turned for a moment to bend over a rose tree, Aziz saw Greyton raise Adee’s hand to his lips. The sight filled Aziz with fury. At once his mind became darkened with suspicion. Why had these strangers tarried so long in the valley? Their interest in the tombs suddenly appeared to him in the light of a cunning pretext. They had displayed their wares and inspected the mausoleums—why had they not departed? He suddenly called to mind the inquiries made by Abdar in regard to the English chieftain who had once dwelt here. What if these strangers were descendants of the Christian knight, come to set up a claim for an inheritance in the valley! He had a dim knowledge of such things transpiring in the outer world, and this idea and that it was their intention that one of them should wed Adee, for the purpose that they might better carry out their plans, at once took root in his mind—filling his heart with hatred and anger. He determined to lose no time in divulging their treacherous scheme to the khan, understanding his violent nature well enough to know that it would arouse his fury against the strangers. He reckoned rightly. The khan’s anger flamed like a furnace upon hearing Aziz’ well-told story of the Englishmen’s designs. Abdar was summoned to inform the strangers that it was the khan’s command that they should take their departure from the valley on the morrow. Abdar, filled with consternation at the violent anger shown by the khan, went in haste to the Englishmen’s apartments to deliver his message. Danvers was at work near the tombs, but he found Greyton with Ulzinah and Adee, in the garden of roses. Trembling with excitement, he repeated his news. Adee turned pale. Greyton was dumbfounded, but was sure that all could be made right through mutual explanation. Abdar, remembering the khan’s exhibition of anger, shook his head. Adee shared his doubts.
“It is Aziz’ work,” she faltered; “his word is supreme with my father. I fear that to resist will bring you into danger.”
“The Ulbecks are a violent people,” added Abdar warningly.
“But I cannot”—commenced Greyton, then paused turning to Adee. She averted her face, but not till he had seen that her eyes were filled with tears.
It was night. The sky rained a blinding sleet of stars. In the garden, outside Adee’s apartment, Abdar was conversing with Ulzinah.
“It is impossible,” the latter was saying; “they would refuse to open the gates. The women are never allowed to leave the valley after sundown.”
“What is to be done?” asked Abdar. “The khan will never consent to let Adee leave the valley with the strangers.”
“Never,” returned Ulzinah.
“Yet she loves him?”
“Would she go with him if a plan were provided for her escape?”
“With joy,” returned the duenna.
Abdar recited the story of the parchment found in the cave.
“Do you know anything of this secret passage through the mountain?”
“I know it well; it is on the western side of the valley.”
“Is it wide enough for horses to pass through?”
“Will you show us the way there tonight?”
“If it is Adee’s wish.”
“And you will seek to persuade her?”
“We shall see—if she is not already persuaded.”
An hour later, a group of four stood in the cave in which Greyton had found the parchment. Abdar was outside, engaged in tightening the girths of their fleet Persian horses. They were soon in readiness. Adee and Ulzinah rode in the same saddle. Abdar led the way. A moment more and they were galloping across the desert.
A steamer was nearing the English coast. From the shore a faint sound was wafted, growing clearer each moment, and filling the air with a joyous cadence.
“What is it?” asked Adee, wonderingly of her husband, upon whose arm she was leaning.
“It is the sound of the Christmas chimes;” returned Greyton. “A fitting welcome, Adee, to the home of your English ancestor. I wonder if it is not something of a recompense to him, if he knows to-day, that you have received their message.” ■