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chapter 8
 Admet-ben-Carime-el-Abdoun breathed freely, and even danced a few steps for joy, without dancing off his ill-fastened slippers, however, as soon as he found himself outside the massive walls of the Spanish fortress and with all Africa before him.
For Africa, for a true African like Manos-gordas, is the land of absolute liberty; of a liberty anterior and superior to all human constitutions and institutions; of a liberty resembling that enjoyed by the wild rabbits and other wild animals of the mountain, the valley, or the desert.
By this I mean to say that Africa is the paradise of evil-doers, the safe asylum, the neutral ground of both men and beasts, protected here by the intense heat and the vast extent of the deserts. As for the sultans, kings, and beys who fancy they rule here, and the authorities and soldiers who represent them, it may be said that they are for such subjects what the hunter is for the hare or for the stag—a misadventure which one in a hundred may chance to meet with, and which may or may not result fatally; if he who meets it dies, he is remembered on the anniversary of his death; and if he does not die, he takes himself off to a sufficient distance from the scene of his mishap—and no more is thought about the matter. With this digression we will now resume the thread of our story.
"This way, Zama!" cried the Moor to his weary consort, as if he were calling to a beast of burden.
And instead of turning eastward, that is to say toward the gap of Anghera, in quest of the holy sage, in accordance with his promise to Don Bonifacio, he proceeded southward along a ravine overgrown with wild brambles and forest trees which soon brought him to the Tetuan road; that is to say, to the indistinct footpath which, following the indentations of the coast, leads to Cape Negro by the valley of the Tarajar, the valley of the Castillejos, Mount Negro, and the lakes of Azmir River, names which are now heard by every true Spaniard with love and veneration, but which at the time of our story had not yet been pronounced either in Spain or in any other part of the civilized world.
When Ben-Carime and Zama had reached the little valley of the Tarajar, they sat down to rest for a while at the edge of the rivulet which, rising in the heights of Sierra Bullones, runs through it, and in this wild and secluded spot, that seemed as if it had come fresh from the Creator's hand and had never yet been trod by the foot of man, looking out on the solitary ocean, whose waters were untracked save, on an occasional moonlight night, by some pirate caravel or government vessel sent from Europe in pursuit of it, the Moorish woman proceeded to make her toilet, performing her ablutions in the stream, and the Moor unfolded the manuscript and read it again, manifesting no less emotion than he had shown on the previous occasion.
The contents of the Arabian manuscript were as follows:
"May the benediction of Allah rest on all good men who read these lines!
"There is no glory but the glory of Allah, whose prophet and messenger
Mohammed was and is, in the hearts of the faithful.
"May those who rob the house of him who is at the wars, or in exile, be accursed of Allah and of Mohammed, and die eaten up by beetles and cockroaches!
"Blessed be Allah, who created these and other vermin to devour the wicked!
"I am the caid Hassan-ben-Jussef, the servant of Allah, although I am miscalled Don Rodrigo de Acuna by the successors of the Christian dogs who, by force and in violation of solemn compact, baptized, with a broom of hyssop, my ill-fated ancestors, together with many other Islamites of these kingdoms.
"I am a captain, serving under the banner of him whose lawful title, since the death of Aben-Humaya, is King of Andalusia, Muley-Abdallah-Mahamud-Aben-Aboo, who does not now sit on the throne of Granada because of the treachery and cowardice with which the Moors of Valencia broke their oaths and compacts, failing to rise with the Moors of Granada against the common enemy: but they will receive their reward from Allah, and if we are conquered, they, too, will be conquered and in the end expelled from Spain, without the merit of having fought to the last on the field of honor in defence of their rights; and if we are the conquerors we will cut off their heads and throw them to the swine.
"I am, in conclusion, the lord of this tower and of all the land surrounding it, westward to the ravine of the Fox and eastward to the ravine of the Asparagus, so called from the luxuriant growth and exquisite flavor of the asparagus cultivated there by my grandfather, Sidi-Jussef-ben-Jussuf.
"Things are going badly with us. Since the coming of the base-born Don Juan of Austria (whom may Allah confound!) to fight against the faithful, we have foreseen that, for the present, we shall be defeated, although in the course of years or of centuries another Prince of the blood of the Prophet may recover the throne of Granada which for seven hundred years was in the possession of the Moors, and which will be theirs again when Allah wills it, by the same right by which it was formerly possessed by the Goths and Vandals, and before that by the Romans, and before that by those other Africans, the Carthaginians—by the right of conquest. But I know, as I have said, that, for the present, things are going badly with us, and that I must very soon depart for Morocco, taking with me my forty-three sons; that is to say, unless the Austrians capture me in the coming battle and hang me on a tree, as I would hang all of them, if it were in my power to do so.
"Well, then, when I depart from this tower to engage in the last and the decisive campaign, I leave hidden here, in a place which no one can discover without coming across this manuscript, all my gold, all my silver, all my pearls, my family treasures, the possessions of my fathers, of myself, and of my heirs; the fortune of which I am lord and master by human and divine right, as the bird is of its feathers, or the child of the teeth he cuts with suffering, or as every mortal is of the bad humors, cancerous or leprous, which he may inherit from his ancestors.
"Stay thy hand, then, oh thou, Moor, Christian, or Jew, who, in tearing down this, my dwelling, mayest discover and read these lines which I am now writing! Stay thy hand and respect the treasure-house of thy fellow-mortal! Touch not his estate! Take not possession of that which belongs to another! Here there is none of the public wealth, nothing belonging to the exchequer, nothing belonging to the state. The gold in the mine may belong of right to him who discovers it, and a part of it to the king of the country; but gold melted down and stamped—money, coin— belongs to its owner and to no one but its owner. Rob me not, therefore, evil man! Rob not my descendants who will come, on the day appointed, to take possession of their inheritance. And if thou shouldst, without evil intent, and by chance discover my treasure, I counsel thee to make public proclamation, calling on and notifying the circumstance to the heirs of Hassan-ben-Jussef; for it is not just to keep that which has been found when it has a lawful owner.
"If thou doest not this, be accursed, with the curse of Allah, and with my curse! And mayest thou be struck dead by lightning! And may each coin of my money and each pearl of my treasure become a scorpion in thy hands! And may thy children die of leprosy, may their fingers rot and drop off, so that they may not have even the pleasure of scratching themselves! And may the woman thou lovest love thy slave and betray thee for him. And may thy eldest daughter leave thy house secretly with a Jew! And mayest thou be impaled upon a stake, and suspended on high, exposed to the public gaze, until by the weight of thy body the stake pierce thy crown and thou fall parted asunder on the ground like a loathsome toad cut in twain by the hoe!
"Now thou knowest what I would have thee know, and let all men know it, and blessed be Allah who is Allah!
"Tower of Zoraya, in Aldeire, in El Cenet, On the fifteenth day of the month of Saphar, Of the year of the Hegira 968.


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