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Then they play—that is, they go through the motions. The Colonel puts down a handful of cards and says “Eight.” The Apostle never looks at them, but puts down a bigger handful of his own and says “Eleven.” Then the Colonel puts down another lot and says “Fourteen.” Then the Apostle lays down the balance of his stock and the Colonel says, “Hell, Joe,” and they set down some figures. When they are through, the Colonel owes the Apostle seven dollars.
Yes, it is a curious game, and would make the Colonel a pauper in time, if nature did not provide other means of adjustment. After the Apostle has his winnings comfortably put away and settled into place, the Colonel takes out a new five-dollar gold piece, regards it thoughtfully, turns it over, reads the date, and comments on its beauty. Then suddenly he slaps it down on the table under his hand.
“Match you, Joe,” he says, “match you for five!"
But the Apostle is wary. He smiles benignly while he turns his face from temptation.
"No you don't,” he says, “never again."
The Colonel slaps the coin down again, quite smartly.
“Just once, Joe,” he wheedles; "just once, for luck!"
The Apostle strokes his chubby, child-like countenance with the tips of his fingers, still looking awayhis eyes turned heavenward.
"I won't do it, I tell you. No, now go on away. I told you yesterday I wouldn't match you againever.”
“Just once, Joe—just this one time.” “I won't do it."
The Apostle's attitude is still resolute, but there is a note of weakening in his voice and his hand is working almost imperceptibly toward his pocket.
“Just once more, Joe, just for five dollars-one turn."
The Apostle's hand is in his pocket.
“Now, I tell you,” he says, “I'll match you this one time, and never again.”
“All right, Joe, just this one time, for luck; come on, now.”
The coins go down together, and when they are uncovered the Colonel takes both, always. Then the Apostle jerks up his cap, jams it on, and starts for the deck.
“Hold on, Joe; just once more—just for luck." “You go to hell, will you?”
This is the programme daily with but slight variation. Sometimes the Apostle wins less than seven dollars—sometimes he loses more than five; but he always does win at piquet and he always does lose at matching. Thus do the unseen forces preserve the balance of exchange.
We crossed over and came in sight of the mountains of Algeria during the afternoon, and all the rest of this halcyon day we skirted the African shore, while Laura and I and two other juveniles kept a game of shuffleboard going on the after deck. To-night there is to be another grand dinner and dance, in honor of Washington's Birthday. We shall awake to-morrow in the harbor of Algiers.
THE DIVERTING STORY OF ALGIERS
THIS is a voyage of happy mornings. It was I morning—just sunrise—when we met the American fleet homeward bound; it was morning when we caught the first glimpse of Madeira and steamed into the harbor of Funchal; the shores of Morocco-our first glimpse of the Orient-came out of the sunrise, and it was just sunrise this morning when I looked out of my port-hole on the blue harbor and terraced architecture of Algiers. And the harbor of Algiers is blue, and the terraced architecture is white, or creamy, and behind it are the hills of vivid green. And there are palms and cypress-trees, and bougainvillea and other climbing vines. Viewed from the ship it is a picture city, and framed in the port-hole it became a landscape miniature of wondrous radiance and vivid hues.
One of our passengers, a happy-hearted, elderly Hebrew soul, came along the promenade just outside my state-room and surveyed the vision through his glass. Presently he was joined by his comfortable, good-natured wife.
“Vat you get me up so early for, Sol?” she said.
He handed her his glass, his whole face alive with joy of the moment-fairly radiant it was. “I yust couldn't help it!” he said. “Dot sunrising and dot harbor and dot city all make such a beautiful sight.”
A beautiful sight it was, and it had the added charm of being our first near approach to the Orient. For Algiers is still the Orient, though it has been a French colony for nearly a hundred years. The Orient and the Occident have met here, and the Occident has conquered, but the Orient is the Orient still, and will be so long as a vestige of it remains.
The story of Algiers, like that of every Mediterranean country, has been a motley one, and bloody enough, of course. The Romans held it for nearly five hundred years; the Vandals followed them, and these in turn were ousted by the Arabs, about the year 700 A.D. Blood flowed during each of these changes, and betweentimes. There was always blood
-rivers of it-lakes of it—this harbor has been red with it time and again.
It did not stop flowing with the Arabian conquestnot by any means. Those Arabs were barbarians and robbers— Bedouins on land and pirates on the sea. They were the friends of no nation or people, and when business was dull outside, they would break out among themselves and indulge in pillage and slaughter at home for mere pastime. About the time Columbus was discovering America they were joined by the Moors and Jews who were being driven out of Spain and who decided to take up piracy as a regular business.
Piratic industry, combined with slavery, flourished for a matter of four centuries after that, then Commodore Decatur with a handful of little vessels met
the Algerian fleet off Carthagena on the 20th of June, 1815. Decatur was a good hand with pirates. He went to work on that fleet and when he got through there wasn't enough of it left to capture a bananaboat. Then he appeared before Algiers and sent a note to the Dey demanding the immediate release of all Americans in slavery. The Dey replied that as a mere matter of form he hoped the American commander would agree to sending a small annual tribute of powder.
"If you take the powder you must take the balls with it," was Decatur's reply, and thus the young American republic, then only about thirty years old, was first to break down the monstrous institutions of piracy and enslavement which for more than a thousand years had furnished Algerian revenues.
One Hussein (history does not mention his other name, but it was probably Ali Ben) was the last Dey of Algiers, and his memory is not a credit to his country's story. He was cruel and insolent; also, careless in his statements.
Piracy under A. B. Hussein flourished with a good deal of its old vigor, though I believe he was rather careful about plundering American vessels. Hussein was also a usurer and the principal creditor of some Jewish merchants who had a claim against France. The claim was in litigation, and Hussein, becoming impatient, demanded payment from the French king. As France had been the principal sufferer from Hussein's pirates, it was not likely that the king would notice this demand. Soon after, in the Dey's palace, the Kasba, at a court function the Dey asked of