Project Canterbury

The Captive Missionary
Being an Account of the Country and People of Abyssinia.

By the Rev. Henry A. Stern.

London: Cassell, Petter and Galpin, 1868.

Chapter XVII

Royal Messengers--Samuel's Terrors--Antidote to Fear--Letter from Menilek--His Approach--Sham Bravery--Jealousy among our Guards--Hostile Demonstrations--Perplexing Conjectures--Cowardice of Menilek--Schemes for Escape--Good News--Painful Suspense--Theodore's Mad Rage--Men Hunters--Royal Duplicity--Reward of Fidelity--Christmas Day--The King and the Peasant--Submission to the Tyrant--Flattery and Treachery--European Artisans in Disgrace.

The disastrous foray in the Galla country imparted for about two months a quiet and repose to our Amba that was perfectly tantalising. Once every fortnight or three weeks, when a royal messenger arrived, we had an exciting day. "Who is the messenger? What orders has he brought? Are his instructions verbal or written?" About two hours after his advent, we generally knew the errand on which he was sent. Mr. Rassam most adroitly managed to enlist every courier in his service. They were well paid, and richly deserved it. They had particular instructions not to convey any command, whether embodied in a letter or verbal communication, that affected the lives of any one of the white captives. Their promises did not, however, quite assure us, and, whenever it was whispered that a [345/346] melakdenya had come, our hearts palpitated, our faces paled, and our limbs shook. Once or twice it was reported that a messenger with the death-warrant for the Frendjoj had really been despatched, but that the rebels tore the despatch and killed the bearer. This, I suspect, was not true. The positive orders of the king were: "If the Amba is beseiged by a rebel, kill the white men."

Besides the intelligence we obtained from the camp, Mr. Rassam was in correspondence with Wagshuni Gobazie, the most puissant rebel in our neighbourhood. His missives were invariably confident, defiant, and brave. "That enemy of God and man shall never come near you. My soldiers will frown at me, my wife will spit at me, the peasants will laugh at me, if I do not destroy the monster. Let him only approach, and I shall crush the serpent beneath my feet." His words were bold, and had they been followed by equally bold deeds, the tyrant would never more have gazed on his beloved Magdala. These effusions, which were dictated by resentment and not valour, vanity and not courage, unsettled our minds, but did not inspire much confidence. Samuel, who was never very bold during the Magdala confinement, changed into an abject coward. His imagination, which was always ruminating on some dismal subject, kept him in a perpetual fever of terror. We always guessed when there was [346/347] something wrong in the wind, from his conduct. When all proceeded in its wonted even tenor, he was placid, smooth, and cheerful; but when any inauspicious report reached him, he looked wild, gruff, and irascible. The arackee bottle, to which he was at all times devoted, became then his inseparable companion. "Drink, for it drowns care and expels fear," was then his motto. The copious alcoholic libations brought on a slight attack of delirium tremens, which lasted three or four days. During that period of mental derangement, it was dangerous to come in contact with him. On one occasion, just as the delirium was coming on, he had a quarrel with Consul Cameron. The latter, in the heat of the debate, said something about the king, which Samuel misunderstood, or misinterpreted. Instantly, he sent for his servant, and ordered him to go to the Ras, to fetch hand-chains to tie the consul. Lidj Engeda Work, the son of the commandant at Geshew, Dr. Blanc, and Mr. Kerans, succeeded in appeasing him, otherwise the consul, and probably all the old captives, would once more have had a double portion of fetters. His wives, and the poor servants in our prison-compound, shook and trembled whenever that drunken mania came on. The whip, whilst the fit lasted, was his delight, and woe betide the man or woman who incurred his displeasure. Mr. Rassam, and also myself, frequently besought him to give up [347/348] a vice that disqualified him for the various duties which, as the medium of communication between the envoy and the messengers, he had to discharge. "Yes, I shall do so," was his response; but an hour after he had forgotten his promise, and was again quaffing glass after glass of the intoxicating spirits.

"The king has left Debra Tabor, and Menilek is in the Galla country," were tidings that reached us simultaneously. We had been so often deceived by such reports that their import no longer interested us. A letter from Menilek, the rebel king of Shoa, however, made our hearts throb with the most joyous anticipations. The epistle was conveyed to the incumbent of the church in Salasie, and through him to the Etcheque, who forwarded it to Mr. Rassam. It was short, but resolute and decisive. He was sure of taking the Amba, by storm, siege, or treachery. All he wanted was one or two secret partisans among the chiefs, and, if Mr. Rassara could render him that service, his task would be easy. Our freedom and departure for the coast were, of course, bound up with the struggle, which was sure of a successful termination.

On the morning of November 30, clouds of dust and smoke on the Galla plain, south-east of Magdala, announced the approach of a real monarch, and not a dastardly, bragging rebel. Trains of sumpter-mules, followed by squadron after squadron of horse and [348/349] foot soldiers, in an incessant stream, came pouring down the undulating plateau, and encamped on its utmost verge. It was a beautiful and exhilarating sight to gaze, even stealthily (for we were not allowed to move about our prison-compound), on those wide-stretching lines of black tents which, in another day, would send forth thousands and thousands of brave warriors, "to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound."

The presence of a real enemy diffused a feverish animation and bustle over our Amba. Soldiers and chiefs, priests and monks, armed with shield, lance, and sword, were rushing about in sham fury, breathing vengeance and death against the disturbers of their peace. Queen Trounesh, who, I believe, wished the tyrant at Jericho, thought it politic to encourage these boisterous demonstrations. Poor woman! she had scarcely enough to live upon herself; yet, to avoid odious remarks and insidious accusations, she was obliged to beg for a few gumbos of tedj, and some baskets of bread and pepper, to feast a number of despicable parasites. The addrash (repast), though not very sumptuous, pleased the guests, and stimulated their devotion to Theodore. As if to make up for the limited quantity of their favourite and exciting beverage, they worked themselves into a state of artificial frenzy with war-songs, riotous shouts, and firing of muskets and pistols. It was [349/350] amusing to listen to the prate of loyalty from the lips of men who were plotting the blackest treason. Two of the most treacherous chiefs, our friends Damash and Beitwoted Hailu, were the loudest in their perfidious professions.

The majority of our braves, notwithstanding the bluster and hubbub in which they indulged, secretly longed for a change of master. To Theodore they could not be faithful. Had he not destroyed their country, pillaged their homes, and, in numberless instances, murdered their parents, sisters, and brothers? All they wanted was a leader, or bold conspirator, and the gates would at once have flown open to admit Menilek. The absence of all confidence, unfortunately, paralysed every arm, and imposed an unwilling silence on each tongue. Soldiers distrusted their chiefs, and chiefs their soldiers. The predominant desire was to outwit each other in intrigue and craft, and, though nothing beyond a silk rag or a profitless title could be gained, it satisfied that base spirit of revengeful jealousy which rankles in the heart of every Abyssinian; and this, more than anything else, fostered suspicion, and checked every attempt to throw off the tyrant's hated yoke.

The camp of Menilek lustily responded to the riotous revel of the Araba. Muskets were fired, cannons discharged, troojss paraded, and gorgeous tents displayed, and, no doubt, a mighty amount of [350/351] wild and tumultuous clamour (which the distance did not permit us to hear) enjoyed. The martial display of the bustling hordes augured well for the success of their enterprise. The true hero, we thought, had at last appeared on the battle-field. The fate of Magdala was about to be decided. Our brave liberators, as we credulously believed they would prove to be, after this gallant demonstration, like nature after a storm, sank into a happy and peaceful repose.

The following day, of course, nothing could be attempted, as it was the Christian's Sabbath, which the Slioas would not desecrate by any private or public toil. From the hostile camp, a reflective calm was wafted across the broad chasm, on our Amba and prison, which proclaimed the beneficial influence of the Gospel even in lands where its spiritual character is least understood. I was in raptures; and, to communicate something of my own exuberant feelings to half-a-dozen unimpressible Mahometans I was instructing, I spoke to them on Abyssinia's future destiny--the triumph of Christianity--the immunities and felicities of the millennial kingdom--and a variety of other grand and sublime topics, quite incomprehensible to their dull intellects--when Dr. Blanc came to the door of my hut, and, in a great flurry, exclaimed: "Mr. Stern, our friends are moving down the chasm." The gladsome anticipation [351/352] of a speedy release from a horrible captivity dispelled all the glowing visions of the prophetic future which I had pictured before my mind's eye, and, dismissing my catechumens, I limped, in defiance of guards, as fast as my chains permitted, to the entrance of our prison-compound. A small detachment of the enemy's horse had, indeed, quitted the camp, and were, as it appeared to us, going to reconnoitre, but, to our regret, it subsequently proved that they had been despatched on a less important errand. Thus, between hope and fear, conjectures and speculations, the Lord's day glided by, and night, bright and brilliant, spread its magnificent star and planet-studded canopy over the captive's home and freeman's tent.

With dawn the prospect of liberty revived, and our eyes were again clandestinely strained across the intervening space towards the Galla plain. There was still the same vexatious immobility as on the preceding day. Perhaps, we whispered, they will move at noon; no, not at noon, but during the night, they will take their position, and invest our fort. We were right; they did not move during the day, and, stranger still, neither did they move in the night. Unable to interpret this mysterious, death-like quiescence, we consoled ourselves with the fanciful illusion that, notwithstanding our long captivity, we were still novices [352/353] in the tactics of Abyssinian warfare. Amidst such unsatisfactory conjectures Monday and Tuesday rolled away; and then there came Wednesday--the feast of Tecla Haimanot, the great patron saint of Shoa.

The sun, on that morning, rose in its wonted splendour, and, after dispersing the white vapours, which in those altitudes generally hang over the landscape the first hour of day, revealed to our joyous and sparkling eyes great commotion and activity in the negoos negest's camp. "Now they are coming! Now the prey will be wrenched out of the clutches of the destroyer! Now our shackles will drop! Now our prison doors will burst!" Such and similar ejaculations broke from our lips, when lo, and behold! to our dismay and horror, the swaggering hordes veer round, and positively refuse to come to the Amba, because the Amba obstinately refuses to come to them!

The motives the fat king assigned for this abrupt departure from the scene where he was to achieve such glories were not quite satisfactory. [It is said that he is very corpulent, and on a march exhausts six mules every day] In a message to Mr. Rassam, he alleged that famine in the camp compelled him to quit our neighbourhood; but as the Gallas, who were his allies, could easily have supplied his wants, it was [353/354] the general opinion that the approach of Theodore had driven him back to his Shoa plains.

I had hitherto some respect for these blustering rebels, but the conduct of Menilek altogether changed my sentiments. They were, without exception, a gross, dissolute, cowardly set, who pretended to love order, whilst they created confusion; proclaimed that they sought their country's weal, whilst they plundered defenceless peasants; and most boisterously deprecated anarchy, whilst they everywhere introduced a perfect reign of terror.

The imbecile proceeding of Menilek, the absence of all intelligence from the coast, and the distracting conjectures about the advent of the king, painfully jarred on nerves already sufficiently shattered by years of suspense, fetters, and confinement. Shadows, gloomy and dismal, danced on our prison walls, and floated before our eyes. Death, of whom several frequently spoke with, a most disrespectful familiarity, entered the abodes of the happy and contented, but would have nothing to do with the miserable and wretched. There was some talk of forcing the Ras on one of his diurnal visits to Mr. Rassam, to join our friends in an open insurrection. Then again we discussed the feasibility of making our way down the Amba by ropes; and, perhaps, a day or two after we debated the success of an attack on the powder-magazine, which would frighten [354/355] the garrison, and, whilst the panic lasted, intimidate them from opposing our escape. Such and similar topics were for weeks on the tapis; and though we knew that the faintest attempt to carry either of them into execution would cost us our lives, still we loved to dilate on schemes and plots which kept the embers of hope alive in our breasts.

On Friday, December 13, we had a happy day. Messengers from the coast arrived about noon; but it was not before evening that the letters were smuggled into our prison. There were, as usual, none for mo. A kind of fatality hung over my letters. My friends wrote, but of the scores which they forwarded not a tithe ever reached me. Vexed and annoyed, I snatched up a fragment of Guizot's "Histoire de la Civilisation," which Mr. Rosenthal had secured during his stay at Gaffat, and began to study the influence of monasticism on the moral and social condition of Europe. A summons to come immediately to Dr. Blanc's hut was significant of good news. The clapping and cheering of several of my companions confirmed my anticipation. "Cheer up, Stern!" exclaimed the doctor. "Good news! Troops are coming! Colonel Merewether has landed! Hurrah for old England!" The budget was worthy of the plaudits it elicited from the captives. Oh, it was a happy evening, that 13th of November! Gloom and despondency had entirely vanished. No [355/356] vacant glance, no dejected countenance, no shaded brow was visible among the eight victims of Theodore's tyranny. Our chains were light, our hearts merry; we were in a transport of delirious joy--a sensation to which the majority, for more than four years, had been perfect strangers.

British troops and King Theodore were now both on the road to Magdala. But who will arrive first? Will our expected liberators forestall our dreaded captor, or will they allow him to inundate the Amba with blood ere they make their appearance? Such and similar reflections forced themselves very soon on our minds, and filled us with intense anxiety and suspense. Never were the chances of freedom and death so equally balanced; never were the steps of friend and foe so eagerly watched. We were approaching the goal of our suffering, the crisis of our fate. A tranquil confidence that the days of banishment and exile were drawing to a close, however, dissipated those gloomy forebodings, which horrible tortures, ten times worse: than death, conjured before the mind. We felt, at least most of us felt, that God had been and would be with us, and this conviction shed a peaceful serenity over our dismal prison home.

The king, serpent-like, continued to crawl on. At Tshetshaho, a broken, volcanic district, which forms the boundary line between the south-eastern [356/357] plateau and the central province of Begemeder, he encountered a formidable opposition from the insurgents. Too timid to meet him in an open engagement, they harassed him in the front and rear, on the right and left, till, driven to desperation, his maddening passion vented itself in most awful maledictions on himself, his people, and the whole human race. In ascending the steep path that leads to the plain of Zebit, his rage, as I was told by eye-witnesses, resembled the fierce fury of a demon. The insurgent hosts, posted on most favourable positions, from covert and hill, hollow and rock, poured lance and stone, abuse and contempt on the panic-stricken royal bands, who, in a compact mass, without even the faintest effort to repel the assailants, pressed on to reach the plain. Numbers were killed, others wounded, and not a few crushed under the feet of the scrambling and pushing host. Poor Mrs. Rosenthal, in the bustle and confusion, nearly lost her babe. The king, who, accompanied by a strong cruard of chiefs and musketeers, had ascended the plateau before his camp broke up, on beholding the terror and dismay among his people, and the boldness and daring of the rebels, lost all self-control. He stamped on the ground, tore his hair, yelled forth fearful oaths and raving curses; in fact, his whole deportment was that of a man either bereaved of reason, or possessed by a legion of [356/357] fiends. "Why does God not kill me if I am bad? And if I am better than my people, why do his thunders not burst forth and destroy them? No, justice is asleep in heaven, and till it stirs I will reign, and execute vengeance on earth." Such and far more revolting phrases were now perpetually on his lips. He had become what his own followers termed a complete "diabolos;" and blood only could temporarily, allay the fever that burned in his veins. "Go and kill every man, woman, and child you find: for a dead body you will get a white shirt; for a live prisoner, a silk one," was the order given to his followers. A similar mandate was issued a few months before at Debra Tabor, but few of the wretched man-hunters returned from their revolting sport. The peasants everywhere watched for their approach, and before they could level their muskets a stone or lance stretched them on the ground. Two only were successful in their inhuman chase, and these excited not a little envy among their comrades. "So-and-so has been very lucky to-day," they would tell the prisoners whom they guarded; "he brought some one (woman or child, as the case happened to be) into the camp, and got his shirt; whilst I, with my good gun, have not been able to gain a shirt. God must be angry with me."

From Zebit to the descent into the bed of the Djiddah the tyrant met little or no opposition. [358/359] His cumbrous cannons, which he hugged with an affection that made even his soldiers style them the "Taout Amlack" (the idol gods of Theodore), were never out of his sight either on the march or in the camp. On the plain of Wadela he expected an encounter with Wagshum Gobazie, but this blustering rebel chief, though he bragged more than all the rest, was afraid to measure his strength with an opponent whose marvellous engines, it was rumoured, mowed down, as the ripe harvest before the reapers, whole lines of hostile troops.

Once near the Djiddah, messenger after messenger in rapid succession visited our Amba. Mr. Rassam also renewed the interrupted correspondence with his Majesty. The letters that passed between them were unique specimens of diplomacy on the one side and of craft and duplicity on the other. The king was all courtesy, devotion, and love; Mr. Rassam all deference, regard, and esteem. One of his messages was--"My children, you will be glad to hear that I am well, and by the power of your prayers advancing towards Magdala. Business will probably detain me here some time, but don't be sad, we shall meet ere long." I am certain that our prayers had nothing to do with his southward movement--a fact of which he was fully cognisant--but it suited his purpose to natter till he positively knew the object and design of the expedition.

[360] Mr. Rassam's task was not easy. He had to flatter, to praise, and to admire the man whom I believe he cordially hated and despised. His most delicate business, however, was the epistolary intercourse. Those who have waded through the Abyssynian Blue Book may perhaps remember the peculiar style current in that distant and barbarous land. Mr. Rassam in a very limited time most successfully mastered it, and his epistles displayed a tact and ingenuity that won him the admiration of every one with whom he came in contact. Like all his diplomatic predecessors, he misunderstood Theodore. His apparent purity of life, his pretended religious impressions, and the perpetual brag that the weal of his people, though unappreciated by the ingrates, were the objects for which he lived, imposed on Mr. Rassam, as it had imposed on every one else. A gracious reception, fair speeches, and a prompt compliance with the request embodied in Her Majesty's letter, naturally removed all suspicion from the mind of England's representative, and King Theodore was, if not a considerate, a most injured monarch. The crafty request for artisans and machinery, to a limited extent revealed his sinister aim, and disclosed to his astonished guest something of his innate treachery. To refuse then the demand might have been construed into a serious affront, and to accede to it might have, as was obvious, only conjured up [360/361] fresh embarrassments. Mr. Rassam, I know, tried, and tried hard, to escape the dilemma in which lie was entangled, but all his tact and skill proved unavailing. The wily unscrupulous barbarian had wisdom enough, and foresight enough, and experience enough to perceive in the desertions of his troops, and the ever-spreading insurrection, among the peasantry, that the ground was crumbling beneath his feet; and to avert his inevitable, though lingering doom, he held Mr. Rassam with iron trammels, in the stupid belief that the retention of such a great man would ensure him from England the most extravagant concessions. No diplomatist of the most versatile genius, no officer of the most exalted rank, without a force at his back to strike terror into the dastardly heart of the lawless despot, could have escaped fetters and captivity.

Mr. Rassam, by using well-shaped sentences and hyperbolical expressions of friendship, blended, on two or three occasions, with soft phrases of indignation, saved us what a bolder tone might not have effected, from incarceration in the crowded common gaol and the crippling torture of chains around the wrists, in addition to those on the ankles, a boon which merited our acknowledgment and gratitude.

The Negoos always professed the most unbounded regard and esteem for Mr. Rassam. Sometimes, when his rage and passion burst forth in savage [361/362] fury about some imaginary or feigned grievance, the old prisoners generally came in for a profuse share of vile abuse. Not so Mr. Rassam; he was always a good man and a devoted friend. Usually, and the last year of our captivity demonstrated the fact, the most faithful adherents to the tyrant's ruined cause in his jealous mood were despatched to a region where love cannot cool nor adversity mar the affections of tender hearts. Mr. Rassam formed an exception to that established rule--a mistake, a happy mistake, which the despot keenly regretted, and it was said that his last moments on earth were expended in bitter imprecations on his diplomatic friend.

Christmas, that season of joy and gladness, had now set in. The expeditionary forces, to our disappointment, we heard the evening before, had not yet quite landed, whilst King Theodore, whose advent we dreaded, was persistently threading his way through bristling lines of cowardly insurgents towards our Amba. Our felicitations on the morning of that happy day were not much associated with the glorious events it is designed to commemorate. Our minds were occupied with King Theodore and his movements. Various conflicting reports had reached our Amba, and they formed the themes of general discussion. It was said that Daunt and Dalanta, two rebel districts that occupy the plateau between [362/363] the Djiddah and Beshilo, had accepted the royal amnesty, and made their submission; then, that three hundred rebels had been caught, and roasted alive; and lastly, that his Majesty, in the profound consciousness of the inviolability of the law as a warning and example to his faithless subjects, had immolated on a naming pyre, Ras Meshasha, the prince imperial. These rumours were followed by others of a less appalling import. A large proportion of the Daunt and Dalanta peasantry, it was true, had made their submission to the king; a few rebels had also been executed; but the story about the royal prince was what we ought to have suspected, a most unworthy libel.

Among the rebels caught by Theodore's hangmen was a blunt, honest, and upright peasant, a rara avis in that country of duplicity and falsehood. The sturdy fellow, on being brought before the king, was asked why he and the rest of the people had risen against their anointed and lawful sovereign. Undaunted by the dangers which menaced his life, he promptly rejoined to the question addressed to him: "We have thrown off our allegiance because we believe it is sinful to pay obedience to an excommunicated monarch." "And who excommunicated me?" returned the king. "Aboona Salama," was the response. "Why, then, did he excommunicate me?" "The reason is obvious," retorted the candid Wadelean. "You plunder the country, burn the villages, kill the people, and do many other things which are opposed to the laws of God." "Mention one of those many transgressions which you consider heinous offences," replied the interrogator. "Why, you are married by the Corban (sacrament), and yet keep sixty wives." "Right," returned the calm and placid despot, "I have sixty wives, and want sixty-one; and you must, therefore, bring me your own, who, I hear, is hidden in a cave not far from here, or you die at once." The bewildered peasant had to go with an escort to the spot where his partner lay concealed, and on their return both were torn and hacked into pieces.

Our anticipations that Daunt and Dalanta would continue to form an impassable barrier to the king's progress were disappointed, and day after day we heard that he was advancing nearer and nearer to our rocky home. The road was still a serious obstacle to his onward movement; but with the assistance of the peasantry, who had returned to their allegiance, basalt rocks were blasted and levelled, trees cut down, and every impediment in his march removed. To hurry on the work, the Lord's-day rest, which had hitherto been respected, more from sheer necessity than any religious scruples, was now suspended; and Europeans [364/365] as well as natives had to ply the axe and hammer on the Christian's Sabbath.

The stupid and infatuated peasants, to compensate for their late defection, exerted themselves to the utmost to retain the favourable opinion of their capricious, whimsical, and faithless master.

At his own particular request the chiefs remained in the camp, while the people carried his baggage, assisted in making the road, and, together with his ragamuffins, alias soldiers, dragged his unwieldy cannons up to their own verdant plain. Praises the most lavish and profuse were abundantly bestowed on the good and loyal Dalanta peasantry. They were liege subjects, excellent fathers, and most exemplary men--nay, on the last Sunday before the Abyssinian Lent, during a broundo (raw meat) feast, he assured the village authorities that they and their descendants, and the district entrusted to their charge, should, to the very end of time, enjoy immunities and privileges the most glorious and distinguished a monarch could bestow.

Thinking that his wily smiles and glib tongue had dispelled every apprehension of treachery, he gave secret orders to his banditti to fall, before the dawn of day, upon the sleeping peasantry, and to despoil them of their property. The plan was well conceived, but not so easily carried into effect. The slumbering [365/366] though surprised people were not quite unprepared, so that the ruffians, before they could execute their fell purpose, had to struggle, and that most fiercely, with their stout-hearted, obstinate victims. Numbers of the king's people were knocked down by the heavy, knotted clubs of the vigorous peasantry; others were brained by the infuriated women; and not a few, even in the camp itself, were stretched upon the ground, never to rise again, by the frantic chiefs whom they sought to make their prisoners. The Daunt, and scores of the Wadela people, on hearing the war-whoop, hurried (an unusual thing in that reft and selfish country) to the assistance of their neighbours, and by their united efforts drove the bragging and treacherous robber chief behind the shelter of his artillery.

This last defeat made him conscious of the utter helplessness of his position; and, like ourselves, he was anxious for the approach of the British troops, whose advent he knew would terminate the destructive and unequal conflict in which the captor and captured, the spoiler and spoiled, were mutually involved. Now and then he indulged in a little harmless brag about Pharaoh and the Israelites, David and Goliath, Sennacherib and Zedekiah, and on one occasion he spoke of himself as a man who, like Simeon in days of yore, was waiting for help, deliverance, and redemption.

[367] Towards his European workmen he began to manifest an unwonted severity. The motives for this sudden resentment against his obsequious white slaves were, of course, shrouded in some obscurity; but it was evident that an undercurrent of suppressed anger had long lurked in his heart against them, and that policy, and not regard, had induced him to maintain a sham friendly intercourse with them. One day, on the plain of Dalanta, he was exceedingly indignant against them. Old Shimper, who, for some special services he had rendered, came in for a considerable share of abuse, on beholding the lance in the royal hand quivering before his eyes, already imagined himself a dead man, and in his terror, or perhaps to avert the catastrophe, apparently tumbled senseless on the hard ground. Only a few weeks before, when the rest got gorgeous tents, which they were to pitch and not to occupy--probably to excite the jealousy of the soldiers against them--he was, by some oversight, forgotten. To twist the mistake into a well-shaped compliment, he told the king that he did not require a tent, as every one knew that his Majesty's vast and generous heart was his shelter and home. Poor sycophant! he was ungraciously rewarded for the incense of flattery he undertook to lavish so profusely on the Moloch he pretended to adore.

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