The Prince of India. Or Why Constantinople Fell - Lewis Wallace - ebook

The Prince of India. Or Why Constantinople Fell ebook

Lewis Wallace

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Opis

On the pages of the works of Lewis Wallace characters lived, fell in love, fought and died, influencing the structure of public affairs. This novel tells about the events that led to the fall of Constantinople. Legendary wandering Jew under the guise of the Prince of India helps save the city. A wandering Jew served as the basis for several stories, and this is one of the best.

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Liczba stron: 1469

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Contents

Book I

The Earth And The Sea Are Always Giving Up Their Secrets

Chapter I. The Nameless Bay

Chapter II. The Midnight Landing

Chapter III. The Hidden Treasure

Book II

The Prince of India

Chapter I. A Messenger from Cipango

Chapter II. The Pilgrim at El Katif

Chapter III. The Yellow Air

Chapter IV. El Zaribah

Chapter V. The Passing of the Caravan

Chapter VI. The Prince and the Emir

Chapter VII. At the Kaaba

Chapter VIII. The Arrival in Constantinople

Chapter IX. The Prince at Home

Chapter X. The Rose of Spring

Book III

The Princess Irené

Chapter I. Morning on the Bosphorus

Chapter II. The Princess Irené

Chapter III. The Homeric Palace

Chapter IV. The Russian Monk

Chapter V. A Voice from the Cloister

Chapter VI. What Do the Stars Say?

Chapter VII. The Prince of India Meets Constantine

Chapter VIII. Racing with a Storm

Chapter IX. In the White Castle

Chapter X. The Arabian Story-Teller

Chapter XI. The Turquoise Ring

Chapter XII. The Ring Returns

Chapter XIII. Mahommed Hears from the Stars

Chapter XIV. Dreams and Visions

Chapter XV. Departure from the White Castle

Chapter XVI. An Embassy to the Princess Irené

Chapter XVII. The Emperor’s Wooing

Chapter XVIII. The Singing Sheik

Chapter XIX. Two Turkish Tales

Chapter XX. Mahommed Dreams

Book IV

The Palace of Blacherne

Chapter I. The Palace of Blacherne

Chapter II. The Audience

Chapter III. The New Faith Proclaimed

Chapter IV. The Pannychides

Chapter V. A Plague of Crime

Chapter VI. A Byzantine Gentleman of the Period

Chapter VII. A Byzantine Heretic

Chapter VIII. The Academy of Epicurus

Chapter IX. A Fisherman’s Fête

Chapter X. The Hamari

Chapter XI. The Princess Hears from the World

Chapter XII. Lael Tells of Her Two Fathers

Chapter XIII. The Hamari Turns Boatman

Chapter XIV. The Princess Has a Creed

Chapter XV. The Prince of India Preaches God to the Greeks

Chapter XVI. How the New Faith Was Received

Chapter XVII. Lael and the Sword of Soloman

Chapter XVIII. The Festival Of Flowers

Chapter XIX. The Prince Builds Castles for Gul Bahar

Chapter XX. The Silhouette of a Crime

Chapter XXI. Sergius Learns a New Lesson

Chapter XXII. The Prince of India Seeks Mahommed

Chapter XXIII. Sergius and Nilo Take Up the Hunt

Chapter XXIV. The Imperial Cistern Gives Up Its Secret

Book V

Mirza

Chapter I. A Cold Wind from Adrianople

Chapter II. A Fire from the Hegumen’s Tomb

Chapter III. Mirza Does an Errand for Mahommed

Chapter IV. The Emir in Italy

Chapter V. The Princess Irené in Town

Chapter VI. Count Corti in Sancta Sophia

Chapter VII. Count Corti to Mahommed

Chapter VIII. Our Lord’s Creed

Chapter IX. Count Corti to Mahommed

Chapter X. Sergius to the Lion

Book VI

Constantine

Chapter I. The Sword of Solomon

Chapter II. Mahommed and Count Corti Make a Wager

Chapter III. The Bloody Harvest

Chapter IV. Europe Answers the Cry for Help

Chapter V. Count Corti Receives a Favor

Chapter VI. Mahommed at the Gate St. Romain

Chapter VII. The Great Gun Speaks

Chapter VIII. Mahommed Tries His Guns Again

Chapter IX. The Madonna to the Rescue

Chapter X. The Night Before the Assault

Chapter XI. Count Corti in Dilemma

Chapter XII. The Assault

Chapter XIII. Mahommed in Sancta Sophia

POSTSCRIPTS

Book I

The Earth And The Sea Are Always Giving Up Their Secrets

I. THE NAMELESS BAY

IN the noon of a September day in the year of our dear Lord 1395, a merchant vessel nodded sleepily upon the gentle swells of warm water flowing in upon the Syrian coast. A modern seafarer, looking from the deck of one of the Messagerie steamers now plying the same line of trade, would regard her curiously, thankful to the calm which held her while he slaked his wonder, yet more thankful that he was not of her passage.

She could not have exceeded a hundred tons burthen. At the bow and stern she was decked, and those quarters were fairly raised. Amidship she was low and open, and pierced for twenty oars, ten to a side, all swaying listlessly from the narrow ports in which they were hung. Sometimes they knocked against each other. One sail, square and of a dingy white, drooped from a broad yard-arm, which was itself tilted, and now and then creaked against the yellow mast complainingly, unmindful of the simple tackle designed to keep it in control. A watchman crouched in the meagre shade of a fan-like structure overhanging the bow deck. The roofing and the floor, where exposed, were clean, even bright; in all other parts subject to the weather and the wash there was only the blackness of pitch. The steersman sat on a bench at the stem. Occasionally, from force of habit, he rested a hand upon the rudder-oar to be sure it was yet in reach. With exception of the two, the lookout and the steersman, all on board, officers, oarsmen, and sailors, were asleep–such confidence could a Mediterranean calm inspire in those accustomed to life on the beautiful sea. As if Neptune never became angry there, and blowing his conch, and smiting with his trident, splashed the sky with the yeast of waves! However, in 1395 Neptune had disappeared; like the great god Pan, he was dead.

The next remarkable thing about the ship was the absence of the signs of business usual with merchantmen. There were no barrels, boxes, bales, or packages visible. Nothing indicated a cargo. In her deepest undulations the water-line was not once submerged. The leather shields of the oar-ports were high and dry. Possibly she had passengers aboard. Ah, yes! There under the awning, stretched halfway across the deck dominated by the steersman, was a group of persons all unlike seamen. Pausing to note them, we may find the motive of the voyage.

Four men composed the group. One was lying upon a pallet, asleep yet restless. A black velvet cap had slipped from his head, giving freedom to thick black hair tinged with white. Starting from the temples, a beard with scarce a suggestion of gray swept in dark waves upon the neck and throat, and even invaded the pillow. Between the hair and beard there was a narrow margin of sallow flesh for features somewhat crowded by knots of wrinkle. His body was wrapped in a loose woollen gown of brownish-black. A hand, apparently all bone, rested upon the breast, clutching a fold of the gown. The feet twitched nervously in the loosened thongs of old-fashioned sandals. Glancing at the others of the group, it was plain this sleeper was master and they his slaves. Two of them were stretched on the bare boards at the lower end of the pallet, and they were white. The third was a son of Ethiopia of unmixed blood and gigantic frame. He sat at the left of the couch, cross-legged, and, like the rest, was in a doze; now and then, however, he raised his head, and, without fully opening his eyes, shook a fan of peacock feathers from head to foot over the recumbent figure. The two whites were clad in gowns of coarse linen belted to their waists; while, saving a cincture around his loins, the negro was naked.

There is often much personal revelation to be gleaned from the properties a man carries with him from home. Applying the rule here, by the pallet there was a walking-stick of unusual length, and severely hand-worn a little above the middle. In emergency it might have been used as a weapon. Three bundles loosely wrapped had been cast against a timber of the ship; presumably they contained the plunder of the slaves reduced to the minimum allowance of travel. But the most noticeable item was a leather roll of very ancient appearance, held by a number of broad straps deeply stamped and secured by buckles of a metal blackened like neglected silver.

The attention of a close observer would have been attracted to this parcel, not so much by its antique showing, as by the grip with which its owner clung to it with his right hand. Even in sleep he held it of infinite consequence. It could not have contained coin or any bulky matter. Possibly the man was on some special commission, with his credentials in the old roll. Ay, who was he?

Thus started, the observer would have bent himself to study of the face; and immediately something would have suggested that while the stranger was of this period of the world he did not belong to it. Such were the magicians of the story-loving Al-Raschid. Or he was of the type Rabbinical that sat with Caiphas in judgment upon the gentle Nazarene. Only the centuries could have evolved the apparition. Who was he?

In the course of half an hour the man stirred, raised his head, looked hurriedly at his attendants, then at the parts of the ship in view, then at the steersman still dozing by the rudder; then he sat up, and brought the roll to his lap, whereat the rigor of his expression relaxed. The parcel was safe! And the conditions about him were as they should be!

He next set about undoing the buckles of his treasure. The long fingers were expert; but just when the roll was ready to open he lifted his face, and fixed his eyes upon the section of blue expanse outside the edge of the awning, and dropped into thought. And straightway it was settled that he was not a diplomatist or a statesman or a man of business of any kind. The reflection which occupied him had nothing to do with intrigues or statecraft; its centre was in his heart as the look proved. So, in tender moods, a father gazes upon his child, a husband at the beloved wife, restfully, lovingly.

And that moment the observer, continuing his study, would have forgotten the parcel, the white slaves, the gigantic negro, the self-willed hair and beard of pride–the face alone would have held him. The countenance of the Sphinx has no beauty now; and standing before it, we feel no stir of the admiration always a certificate that what we are beholding is charming out of the common lines; yet we are drawn to it irresistibly, and by a wish vague, foolish–so foolish we would hesitate long before putting it in words to be heard by our best lover–a wish that the monster would tell us all about itself. The feeling awakened by the face of the traveller would have been similar, for it was distinctly Israelitish, with exaggerated eyes set deeply in cavernous hollows–a mobile mask, in fact, concealing a life in some way unlike other lives. Unlike? That was the very attraction. If the man would only speak, what a tale he could unfold!

But he did not speak. Indeed, he seemed to have regarded speech a weakness to be fortified against. Putting the pleasant thought aside, he opened the roll, and with exceeding tenderness of touch brought forth a sheet of vellum dry to brittleness, and yellow as a faded sycamore leaf. There were lines upon it as of a geometrical drawing, and an inscription in strange characters. He bent over the chart, if such it may be called, eagerly, and read it through; then, with a satisfied expression, he folded it back into the cover, rebuckled the straps, and placed the parcel under the pillow. Evidently the business drawing him was proceeding as he would have had it. Next he woke the negro with a touch. The black in salute bent his body forward, and raised his hands palm out, the thumbs at the forehead. Attention singularly intense settled upon his countenance; he appeared to listen with his soul. It was time for speech, yet the master merely pointed to one of the sleepers. The watchful negro caught the idea, and going to the man, aroused him, then resumed his place and posture by the pallet. The action revealed his proportions. He looked as if he could have lifted the gates of Gaza, and borne them easily away; and to the strength there were superadded the grace, suppleness, and softness of motion of a cat. One could not have helped thinking the slave might have all the elements to make him a superior agent in fields of bad as well as good.

The second slave arose, and waited respectfully. It would have been difficult to determine his nationality. He had the lean face, the high nose, sallow complexion, and low stature of an Armenian. His countenance was pleasant and intelligent. In addressing him, the master made signs with hand and finger; and they appeared sufficient, for the servant walked away quickly as if on an errand. A short time, and he came back bringing a companion of the genus sailor, very red-faced, heavily built, stupid, his rolling gait unrelieved by a suggestion of good manners. Taking position before the black-gowned personage, his feet wide apart, the mariner said:

“You sent for me?”

The question was couched in Byzantine Greek.

“Yes,” the passenger replied, in the same tongue, though with better accent. “Where are we?”

“But for this calm we should be at Sidon. The lookout reports the mountains in view.”

The passenger reflected a moment, then asked, “Resorting to the oars, when can we reach the city? “

“By midnight.”

“Very well. Listen now.”

The speaker’s manner changed; fixing his big eyes upon the sailor’s lesser orbs, he continued:

“A few stadia north of Sidon there is what may be called a bay. It is about four miles across. Two little rivers empty into it, one on each side. Near the middle of the bend of the shore there is a well of sweet water, with flow enough to support a few villagers and their camels. Do you know the bay?”

The skipper would have become familiar.

“You are well acquainted with this coast,” he said.

“Do you know of such a bay?” the passenger repeated.

“I have heard of it.”

“Could you find it at night?”

“I believe so.”

“That is enough. Take me into the bay, and land me at midnight. I will not go to the city. Get out all the oars now. At the proper time I will tell you what further I wish. Remember I am to be set ashore at midnight at a place which I will show you.”

The directions though few were clear. Having given them, the passenger signed the negro to fan him, and stretched himself upon the pallet; and thenceforth there was no longer a question who was in control. It became the more interesting, however, to know the object of the landing at midnight on the shore of a lonesome unnamed bay.

II. THE MIDNIGHT LANDING

THE skipper predicted like a prophet. The ship was in the bay, and it was midnight or nearly so; for certain stars had climbed into certain quarters of the sky, and after their fashion were striking the hour.

The passenger was pleased.

“You have done well,” he said to the mariner. “Be silent now, and get close in shore. There are no breakers. Have the small boat ready, and do not let the anchors go.”

The calm still prevailed, and the swells of the sea were scarce perceptible. Under the gentlest impulse of the oars the little vessel drifted broadside on until the keel touched the sands. At the same instant the small boat appeared. The skipper reported to the passenger. Going to each of the slaves, the latter signed them to descend. The negro swung himself down like a monkey, and received the baggage, which, besides the bundles already mentioned, consisted of some tools, notably a pick, a shovel, and a stout crowbar. An empty water-skin was also sent down, followed by a basket suggestive of food. Then the passenger, with a foot over the side of the vessel, gave his final directions.

“You will run now,” he said to the skipper, who, to his credit, had thus far asked no questions, “down to the city, and lie there to-morrow, and to-morrow night. Attract little notice as possible. It is not necessary to pass the gate. Put out in time to be here at sunrise. I will be waiting for you. Day after to-morrow at sunrise– remember.”

“But if you should not be here?” asked the sailor, thinking of extreme probabilities.

“Then wait for me,” was the answer.

The passenger, in turn, descended to the boat, and was caught in the arms of the black, and seated carefully as he had been a child. In brief time the party was ashore, and the boat returning to the ship; a little later, the ship withdrew to where the night effectually curtained the deep.

The stay on the shore was long enough to apportion the baggage amongst the slaves. The master then led the way. Crossing the road running from Sidon along the coast to the up-country, they came to the foothills of the mountain, all without habitation.

Later they came upon signs of ancient life in splendor–broken columns, and here and there Corinthian capitals in marble discolored and sunk deeply in sand and mould. The patches of white on them had a ghastly glimmer in the starlight. They were approaching the site of an old city, a suburb probably of Palæ-Tyre when she was one of the spectacles of the world, sitting by the sea to rule it regally far and wide.

On further a small stream, one of those emptying into the bay, had ploughed a ravine for itself across the route the party was pursuing. Descending to the water, a halt was made to drink, and fill the water-skin, which the negro took on his shoulder.

On further there was another ancient site strewn with fragments indicative of a cemetery. Hewn stones were frequent, and mixed with them were occasional entablatures and vases from which the ages had not yet entirely worn the fine chiselling. At length an immense uncovered sarcophagus barred the way. The master stopped by it to study the heavens; when he found the north star, he gave the signal to his followers, and moved under the trail of the steadfast beacon.

They came to a rising ground more definitely marked by sarcophagi hewn from the solid rock, and covered by lids of such weight and solidity that a number of them had never been disturbed. Doubtless the dead within were lying as they had been left–but when, and by whom? What disclosures there will be when at last the end is trumpeted in!

On further, but still connected with the once magnificent funeral site, they encountered a wall many feet thick, and shortway beyond it, on the mountain’s side, there were two arches of a bridge of which all else had been broken down; and these two had never spanned anything more substantial than the air. Strange structure for such a locality! Obviously the highway which once ran over it had begun in the city the better to communicate with the cemetery through which the party had just passed. So much was of easy understanding; but where was the other terminus? At sight of the arches the master drew a long breath of relief. They were the friends for whom he had been searching.

Nevertheless, without stopping, he led down into a hollow on all sides sheltered from view; and there the unloading took place. The tools and bundles were thrown down by a rock, and preparations made for the remainder of the night. The pallet was spread for the master. The basket gave up its contents, and the party refreshed themselves and slept the sleep of the weary.

The secluded bivouac was kept the next day. Only the master went forth in the afternoon. Climbing the mountain, he found the line in continuation of the bridge; a task the two arches serving as a base made comparatively easy. He stood then upon a bench or terrace cumbered with rocks, and so broad that few persons casually looking would have suspected it artificial. Facing fully about from the piers, he walked forward following the terrace which at places was out of line, and piled with debris tumbled from the mountain on the right hand side; in a few minutes that silent guide turned with an easy curve and disappeared in what had yet the appearance hardly distinguishable of an area wrenched with enormous labor from a low cliff of solid brown limestone.

The visitor scanned the place again and again; then he said aloud:

“No one has been here since”–

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