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Fillmore, for once, hesitated. A great deal depended, for him, on what he might say next. Perdita was looking extremely lovely, yet she had not precisely the kind of expression that he would have wished her to have at this moment. But the man had made up his mind, long ago, as to what he intended to do, and he reflected that the mood of the moment would not make much difference in the long run. Success in his project was either possible, or it was not : but, at all events, a temporary rebuff, should that happen, was not going to discourage him. So he manned himself, and said, quietly and firmly :
“Though I am no poet, no poet could love you more than I do."
Perdita was perfectly still for a moment; not a nerve vibrated. She was instantly aware that she would on no account accept Fillmore's offer ; but it had been entirely unexpected, and she wished to give the surprise an opportunity to define its quality. It seenied to her not altogether disagreeable, simply as a betrayal of Fillmore's state of mind toward her. She was pleased to have won the love of a man of his calibre; and she had the good sense, or discernment, to perceive that he loved her for herself, and not for any intrinsic advantage that the possession of her might afford him. She also saw that he was intensely in earnest. A less self-confident and victorious woman might have felt some consternation at the prospect of conflict which the situation contained : but Perdita, on the contrary, felt only exhilaration.
“ When we first met,” she said at length, “ you remarked that I would make a good lawyer. You understood me better then than you seem to do now."
Fillmore shook his head.
“I might make a good lawyer," Perdita continued, “but I should make a very bad lawyer's wife."
"I am a man as well as a lawyer," said Fillmore, bending a strong look upon her.
And a gentleman as well as a man,” she added with a gracious smile. “In fact, sir, if you were less agreeable, I might love you ; but as it is, I like you and enjoy your society much too well for that. I would rather hate you than love you : and as for marrying youpardon me for being the first to speak the word, but widows have privileges- I would rather love you and have you jilt me !"
There was a certain delicate comicality in Perdita's way of saying this, which, though it implied no slight to Fillmore, was more disheartening than the most emphatic and serious “No” would have been.
“I had been flattering myself with the idea that you looked upon me more as if I were a man than a woman,” she continued. Any one can fall in love with a pretty woman; and there is less distinction in being loved by a man like you, than in having you treat me as a friend and an equal—if you would do that !”
“You are the only woman who has ever been a woman for me,” replied Fillmore, with passion. “The love both of my youth and of my manhood is yours. I will do anything to win you. I will never give you up."
“Oh, I can easily make you give me up,” said Perdita with a sigh. “ How ?" “By letting you know me better." “You do not know me!” he exclaimed. “ I shall always love some one else better than you.” “Who?" demanded he, turning pale. "Myself !” said Perdita, with a laugh. “You can be my wife, nevertheless.” “ That I never will,” she said, looking him in the face.
He rose from his chair. “I will never give you up,” he repeated. “ I will go now. You will let me come again ?”
“As often as you like : I am not afraid of you,” was her answer.
Fillmore bowed and turned away. She had had the advantage so far. But he loved her thrice as much as he had done before, and he had never suffered defeat in anything he had undertaken. She neither loved him nor feared him ?—But she could be his wife, nevertheless; and he would do anything to win her.
(To be continued.)
.... What if to Thee, in THiNE Infinity,
OTHING can be more strangely diverse than the impression
produced on the mind by the motley faiths of Africa, to one coming direct from the comparative uniformity of worship in Europe, or to one returning from India-a land which in addition to harbouring all these) claims thirty-three million deities of its own. Το the former, the medley of Mahommedans and Jews, Copts, Armenians, Greeks, and all other Christian varieties, seems so strangely incongruous-while to the latter, the absence of idolatry, and the knowledge that all these nations are worshippers of One God, seems to raise them to one broad level; and though, practically, we know too well how they hate one another, and wrestle, and jostle, and fight for the corpse of truth, still, we remember that one golden thread does run through all their creeds; and though the land is divided in its observance of holy days—Friday, Saturday, or in a minimum degree) Sunday, the mere fact of obedience to the same commandment seems something of a bond, which, theoretically, should link them all together.
As a mere question of scenic effect, it must be confessed that these more solemn forms of worship, and the abhorrence of all manner of graven images, do disappoint the eye which has become accustomed to grotesque and curious forms, masses of rich carving, and gaudy processions; and has forgotten its first feeling of disgust and horror at the puerile absurdities of a gross idolatry.
As you wander about in Cairo every new turn brings you to the door of one of the four hundred mosques, which seem to take up a vast proportion of every street; their domes and minarets are all more or less diverse in form and decoration; most of the minarets are octagonal; having many galleries, and richly moulded balustrades. Often the walls bear inscriptions from the Khoran, and very intricate arabesques. Still, on the whole, there is a great sameness in them, and the eye wearies of the perpetual lines of red and white paint. The interiors are, also, much alike, simple, solemn, silent, and for the most part carpeted, instead of the polished marble of the Indian mosques. On one side, a deep recess, called the kiblah, marks the direction of Mecca, and shows the devout Mahommedan where to turn his face. There is also a mimbar, or pulpit, where lies a copy of the Khoran, whence the Imam expounds to the faithful.
All the “show” mosques, which are frequented by European visitors, keep a supply of woollen overshoes ready, to slip over their dusty boots, which is considered equivalent to removing them, and more convenient; not a very “outré” mark of respect to Eastern customs; nevertheless, one which, with the rude British habit of despising everything foreign, occasionally gives half-fledged lads an excuse for "chaffing" quiet, dignified greybeards to an extent very annoying to witness. It is never pleasant to see your countrymen assuming an utterly false position, and certainly no more perfect type of Dignity and Impudence could well be found, than occasionally shocks both eye and ear, when a wretched little Briton (too often possessed of snub features, and clad in ill-cut broad-cloth) presumes to give himself consequential airs with these stately Orientals, who invariably treat him with the courtesy of conscious superiority. But if this sort of thing is disgusting on ordinary occasions, it is tenfold worse when you come across it in one of these grand, solemn mosques, for it really seems as if travelling Britons could not recognise "holy ground" anywhere, save in their own chapels.
Of course, the turbaned men invariably expect a tip; but for that matter, what would the verger of a cathedral think if you failed to produce this customary tribute ? After all, the petition for “ Backsheesh” is only equivalent to the old English cry of “Largesse;" and though that word may now be obsolete, the custom still prevails, and the hand goes to the pocket just as often in the West as in the East, and for much larger coins—the only difference - lies in not being asked.
One of the mosques to which unbelievers are not admitted, is the Mosque of Flowers, where a carpet of superb embroidery of gold and silks is annually worked with infinite reverence, and is sent to Mecca as a covering for the Tomb of the Prophet. Though commonly called “The Holy Carpet," this Kiswet e' Nebbee is really a curtain. It is a hanging of rich silk, on which sacred sentences in Arabic are embroidered in gold, and it is designed as a lining for the Kaaba, which is the temple of Mecca, the Holy of Holies of the Mahommedan world. I believe that Roberts (who, when painting in the East, adopted Eastern raiment) was one of the few foreigners who has ever found his way into this most holy workroom ; but his presence being detected, he was compelled to fly for his life, and was considered fortunate, indeed, to have escaped paying the penalty of his rash curiosity. When the sacred carpet is to be despatched, about forty thousand pilgrims accompany the offering, which is borne by a sacred camel, led by a very holy Dervish, “the great Hadji.”
This vast concourse of people encamp on the plain, beside the Mosque of Hassan ; then passing through Bab e Nusr (the Gate of Victory), the Pilgrimage of the Haag starts on its long toilsome journey.
Halting first at Birket el Haag, the lake of the pilgrims, they make their way by slow marches till they reach the peninsula of Mount Sinai, and thence travel through Arabia till they reach the Holy City of Mecca, where it is theoretically supposed that seventy thousand pilgrims, representing all the Mahommedan nations, ought to assemble to witness the ceremonies of this great festival. It is said that, should the faithful fail to muster the requisite number of worshippers, the angels assemble to make up the missing number.
The pilgrims march in procession seven times round the Kaaba, and kiss the most holy black stone, which was held sacred by the Arabs long before the days of Mahomet, who deemed it prudent to adopt it, and to cause it to be built into the corner of this most sacred shrine.
One curious ceremony is practised the day before the pilgrims reach Mecca. They ascend the sacred mount Arafat, where they offer sacrifice, to commemorate the sacrifice by Abraham of the ram in lieu of his son Ishmael (not Isaac). Then coming down from the mountain they proceed with their eyes closed, or blindfold, to pick up seven-times-seven small stones, which at nightfall they cast upon “the tomb of the devil.”
Next day they proceed to Mecca, where they halt for a fortnight; then they start on their return journey to Cairo, where they ought to arrive on the sixty-seventh day from the date of their departure, namely, on the birthday of the Prophet, when the whole city holds