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chapter 9
 Manos-gordas was profoundly impressed by a second reading of this document; not because of the moral maxims or the terrible curses it contained, for the rascal had lost his faith both in Allah and in Mohammed, through his frequent intercourse with the Christians and the Jews of Tetuan and Ceuta, who naturally scoffed at the Koran, but because he believed that his face, his accent, and some other personal peculiarities of his forbade his going to Spain, where he would find himself exposed to certain death should any Christian man or woman discover him to be an enemy to the Virgin Mary.
 
"Besides, what aid" (in the opinion of Manos-gordas) "could a foreigner, a Mohammedan, a semi-barbarian, expect from the laws or the authorities of Spain, in acquiring possession of the Tower of Zoraya for the purpose of making excavations there, or what protection in retaining possession of the treasure when he should have discovered it, or even of his life? There is no help for it," was the conclusion to which he came, after much reflection. "I must trust the secret to the renegade Ben-Munuza. He is a Spaniard, and his companionship will protect me from danger in that country. But as there does not exist under the canopy of heaven a wickeder man than this same renegade, it will not be amiss to take some precautions."
 
And, as a result of his reflections, he took from his pocket writing materials, wrote a letter, and inclosed it in an envelope, which he sealed with a bit of moistened bread, and this done, he burst into a sardonic laugh.
 
He then looked at his wife, who was still engaged in removing the filth of an entire year from her person, at the expense of the material and moral cleanliness of the poor rivulet, and having attracted her attention by a whistle, he deigned to address her in these terms:
 
"Sit down here beside me, fig-face, and listen to what I am going to say. You can afterward finish washing yourself—and well you need it—and perhaps I may then think you worthy of something better than the daily drubbing by which I show my affection for you. But for the present, brazenface, leave off your grimaces, and listen well to what I am going to tell you."
 
The Moorish woman, who after her toilet looked younger and more artistic, though no less ugly than before, licked her lips like a cat, fixed the two carbuncles that served her for eyes on Manos-gordas, and said, showing her broad white teeth, that bore no resemblance to those of a human being:
 
"Speak, my lord, your slave desires only to serve you."
 
Manos-gordas continued:
 
"If, in the future, any misfortune should happen to me, or if I should suddenly disappear without taking leave of you, or if, after taking leave of you, you should hear nothing from me within six weeks' time, make your way back to Ceuta and put this letter in the post. Do you understand fully what I have said, monkey-face?"
 
Zama burst into tears and exclaimed:
 
"Admet, do you intend to abandon me?"
 
"Don't be an ass, woman!" answered the Moor. "Who is talking of such a thing now? You know very well that you please me and that you are useful to me. The question now is whether you have understood my charge perfectly."
 
"Give it here!" said the Moorish woman, taking the letter and placing it in her dark-skinned bosom, next her heart. "If any evil should happen to you, this letter shall be placed in the post at Ceuta, though I should drop dead the moment after."
 
Aben-Carime smiled with a human smile when he heard these words, and deigned to let his eyes rest upon his wife as if she were a human being.


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