IT is recorded in the pages of Diodorus Siculus, that Actisanes, the Ethiopian, who was king of Egypt, caused a general search to be made for all Egyptian thieves, and that all being brought together, and the king having “given them a just hearing,” he commanded their noses to be cut off,— and, of course, what a king of Egypt commanded was done; so that all the Egyptian “knucks,” “cracksmen,” “shoplifters,” and pilferers generally, of whatever description known to the slang terms of the time, became marked men.
Inspired, perhaps, with the very idea on which the Ethiopian acted, the police authorities have lately provided, that, in an out-of-the-way room, on a back street, the honest men of New York city may scan the faces of its thieves, and hold silent communion with that interesting part of the population which has agreed to defy the laws and to stand at issue with society. Without disturbing the deep pool of penalogy, or entering at all into the question, as to whether Actisanes was right, or whether the police of New York do not overstep their authority in putting on the walls this terrible bill of attainder against certain citizens of the United States, whom their country’s constitution has endeavored to protect from “ infamous punishments,”— the student of moral science will certainly be thankful for the faces.
We do not remember ever having “ opened ” a place or picked a pocket. We have made puns, however; and so, upon the Johnsonian dictum, the thing is latent in us, and we feel the affinity. We do not hate thieves. We feel satisfied that even in the character of a man who does not respect ownership there may be much to admire. Sparkles of genius scintillate along the line of many a rogue’s career. Many there are, it is true, who are obtuse and vicious below the mean,— but a far greater number display skill and courage infinitely above it. Points of noble character, of every good as well as most base characteristics of the human race, will be found in the annals oi thievery, when they are written aright.
Thieves, like the State ot Massachusetts in the great man’s oration, “ have their history,” and it may be safely asserted that they did not steal it. It is dimly hinted in the verse of a certain ancient, that there was a time in a remoter antiquity “ ere thieves were feared ”; yet even this is cautiously quiet as to their non-existence. Homer, recounting traditions old in his time, chuckles with narrative delight over the boldness, wit, and invention of a great cattle-stealer, and for his genius renders him the ultimatum of Greek tribute, intellectually speaking, by calling him a son of Zeus. Herodotus speaks plainly and tells a story; and the best of all his stories, to our thinking, is a thief’s story, which we abridge thus.
“The king Rhampsinitus, the priests informed me, possessed a great quantity of money, such as no succeeding king was able to surpass or nearly come up to, and, wishing to treasure it, he built a chamber of stone, one wall of which was against the palace. But the builder, forming a plan against it, even in building, fitted one of the stones so that it might be easily taken out by two men or even one.
“ In course of time, and when the king had laid up his treasures in the chamber, the builder, finding his end approaching, called to him his two sons and described to them how he had contrived, and, having clearly explained everything, he told them, if they would observe his directions closely, they might be stewards of the king’s riches. He accordingly died, and the sons were not long in applying themselves to the work; but, having come by night to the palace, and having found the stone as described, they easily removed it, and carried off a great quantity of treasure.
“ When the king opened the chamber, he was astonished to see some vessels deficient; but he was not able to accuse any one, as the seals were unbroken, and the chamber well secured. When, therefore, on his opening it two or three times, the treasures were always evidently diminished, he adopted the following plan : he ordered traps to be made and placed them round the vessels in which the treasures were. But when the thieves came, as before, and one of them had entered, as soon as he went near a vessel, he was straightway caught in the trap; perceiving, therefore, in what a predicament he was, he immediately called to his brother, told him what had happened, and bade him enter as quickly as possible and cut off his head, lest, if seen and recognized, he should ruin him also. The other thought he spoke well, and did as he was advised; then, having fitted in the stone, he returned home, taking with him his brother’s head.
“ When day came, the king, having entered the chamber, was astonished at seeing the body of the thief in the trap without the head, but the chamber secured, and no apparent means of entrance or exit. In this perplexity he contrived thus: he hung up the body of the thief from the wall, and, having placed sentinels there, he ordered them to seize and bring before him whomsoever they should see weeping or expressing commiseration for the spectacle.
“ The mother was greatly grieved at the body being suspended, and, coming to words with her surviving son, commanded him, by any means he could, to contrive how he might take down and bring away the corpse of his brother; but, should he not do so, she threatened to go to the king and tell who had the treasure. When the mother treated her surviving son harshly, and he, with many entreaties, was unable to persuade her, he contrived this plan: he put skins filled with wine on some asses, and drove to where the corpse was detained, and there skilfully loosed the strings of two or three of those skins, and, when the wine ran out, he beat his head and cried aloud, as if he knew not which one to turn to first. But the sentinels, seeing wine flow, ran with vessels and caught it, thinking it their gain,—whereupon, the man, feigning anger, railed against them. But the sentinels soothed and pacified him, and at last he set the skins to rights again. More conversation passed ; the sentinels joked with him and moved him to laughter, and he gave them one of the skins, and lay down with them and drank, and thus they all became of a party; and the sentinels, becoming exceedingly drunk, fell asleep where they had been drinking. Then the thief took down the body of his brother, and, departing, carried it to his mother, having obeyed her injunctions.
“After this the king resorted to many devices to discover and take the thief, but all failed through his daring and shrewdness : when, at last, sending throughout all the cities, the king caused a proclamation to be made, offering a pardon and even reward to the man, if he would discover himself. The thief, relying on this promise, went to the palace ; and Rhampsinitus greatly admired him, and gave him his daughter in marriage, accounting him the most knowing of all men ; for that the Egyptians are superior to all others, but he was superior to the Egyptians.”
The Egyptians appear to have given their attention to stealing in every age; and at the present time, the ruler there may be said to be not so much the head man of the land as the head thief. Travellers report that that country is divided into departments upon a basis of abstraction, and that the interests of each department, in pilfering respects, are under the supervision of a Chief of Thieves, The Chief of Thieves is responsible to the government, and to him all those who steal professionally must give in their names, and must also keep him informed of their successful operations. When goods are missed, the owner applies to the government, is referred to the Chief of Thieves for the Department, and all particulars of quantity, quality, tune, and manner of abstraction, to the best of his knowledge and belief, being given, the goods are easily identified and at once restored,— less a discount of twenty-five per cent. Against any rash man who should undertake a private speculation, of course the whole fraternity of thieves would be the best possible police. This, after all, appears to be a mere compromise of police taxes. He who has no goods to lose, or, having, can watch them so well as not to need the police, the government agrees shall not be made to pay for a police; but he whom the fact of loss is against must pay well to be watched.
Something of this principle is observable in all the East. The East is the fatherland of thieves, and Oriental annals teem with brilliant examples of their exploits. The story of Jacoub Ben-Laith, founder of the Soffarid dynasty,— otherwise, first of the Tinker-Kings of the larger part of Persia,—is especially excellent upon that proverbial “ honor among thieves” of which most men have heard.
Working weary hour after hour in his little shop,— toiling away days, weeks, and months for a meagre subsistence,— Jacoub finally turned in disgust from his hammer and forge, and became a “minion of the moon.” He is said, however, to have been reasonable in plunder, and never to have robbed any of all they had. One night he entered the palace of Darham, prince of the province of Segestan, and, working diligently, soon gathered together an immense amount of valuables, with which he was making off, when, in crossing a very dark room, his foot struck upon a hard substance, and the misstep nearly threw him down. Stooping, he picked up that upon which he had trodden. He believed it, from feeling, to be a precious stone. He carried it to his mouth, touched it with his tongue,— it was salt! And thus, by his own action, he had tasted salt beneath the prince’s roof,—in Eastern parlance, had accepted his hospitality, become his guest. He could not rob him. Jacoub laid down his burden,— robes embroidered in gold upon the richest materials, sashes wanting only the light to flash with precious stones worked in the braid, all the costly and rare of an Eastern prince’s palace gathered in one common spoil, — laid it all down, and departed as silently as he had come.
In the morning the disorder seen told only of attempted robbery. Diligent search being made, the officers charged with it became satisfied of Jacoub’s complicity. They brought him before the prince. There, being charged with the burglary, Jacoub at once admitted it, and told the whole story. The prince, honoring him for his honor, at once took him into his service, and employed him with entire confidence in whatever of important or delicate he had to do that needed a man of truth and courage ; and Jacoub from that beginning went up step by step, till he himself became prince of a province, and then of many provinces, and finally king of a mighty realm. He had soul enough, according to Carlyle’s idea, not to need salt; but, tor all that, the salt saved him.
Another king of Persia, Khurreem Khan, was not ashamed to admit, with a crown on Ins head, that he had once been a thief, and was wont to recount of himself what in these days we should call a case of conscience. Thus he told it: —
“ When I was a poor soldier in Nadir Shah’s camp, my necessities led me to take from a shop a gold-embossed saddle, sent thither by an Afghan chief to be repaired. I soon afterward heard that the owner of the shop was in prison, sentenced to be hanged. My conscience smote me. I restored the stolen article to the very place whence I had removed it, and watched till it was discovered by the tradesman’s wife. She uttered a scream of joy, on seeing it, and fell on her knees, invoking blessings on the person who had brought it back, and praying that he might live to have a hundred such saddles. I am quite certain that the honest prayer of the old woman aided my fortune in attaining the splendor she wished me to enjoy.”
These are variations upon the general theme of thievery. They all tend to show that it is, at the least, unsafe to take the fact of a man’s having committed a certain crime against property as a proof per se that he is radically bad or inferior in intellect. “ Your thief looks in the crowd,” says Byron,
and this, not because physiognomy is false, but the thief’s face true. Of a promiscuous crowd, taken almost anywhere, the pickpocket in it is the smartest man present, in all probability. According to Ecclesiasticus, it is “ the heart of man that changeth his countenance”; and it does seem that it is to his education, and not to his heart, that man does violence in stealing. It is certainly in exact proportion to his education that he feels in reference to it, and does or does not “ regret the necessity.”
And, indeed, that universal doctrine of contraries may work here as elsewhere; and it might not be difficult to demonstrate that a majority of thieves are better fitted by their nature and capacity for almost any other position in life than the one they occupy through perverse circumstance and unaccountable accident. Though mostly men of fair ability, they are not generally successful. Considering the number of thieves, there are but few great ones. In this “ Rogues’ Gallery” of the New York Police Commissioners we find the face of a “first-rate” burglar among the ablest of the eighty of whom he is one. He is a German, and has passed twenty years in the prisons of his native land : has that leonine aspect sometimes esteemed a physiognomical attribute of the. German, and, with fair enough qualities generally, is without any especial intellectual strength. Near him is another “ first-rate,”—all energy and action, acute enough, a quick reasoner, very cool and resolute. Below these is the face of one whom the thief-takers think lightly of, and call a man of “ no account.” Yet he is a man of far better powers than either of the “first-rates,”—has more thought and equal energy,— a mind seldom or never at rest,— is one to make new combinations and follow them to results with an ardor almost enthusiastic. From some want of adaptation not depending upon intellectual power, he is inferior as a thief to his inferiors.
This man was without a cravat when his picture was taken, and his white shirtcollar, coming up high in the neck, has the appearance of a white neckerchief. This trifle of dress, with the intellectual look of the man, strikes every observer as giving him a clerical appearance. The picture strongly resembles—more in air, perhaps, than in feature-—the large engraved portrait of Summerfield. There is not so much of calm comprehensiveness of thought, and there are more angles. Thief though he be, he has fair language, — not florid or rhetorical, but terse and very much to the point. If bred as a divine, he would have held his place among the “ brilliants ” of the time, and been as original, erratic, or outre as any. What a fortune lost! It is part of the fatality for the man not to know it, at least in time. Even villany would have put him into his proper place, but for that film over the mental vision. “ If rogues,” said Franklin, “knew the advantages attached to the practice of the virtues, they would become honest men from mere roguery.”
Many of the faces of this Rogues’ Gallery are very well worth consideration. Of a dozen leading pickpockets, who work singly, or two or three together, and are mostly English, what is first noted is not favorable to English teaching or probity :— their position sits easily upon them. There is not one that gives indication of his having passed through any mental struggle before he sat down in life as a thief. Though all men capable of thought, they have not thought very deeply upon this point. One of them is a natural aristocrat,— a man who could keep the crowd aloof by simple volition, and without offence.; nothing whatever harsh in him,—polite to all, and amiable to a fault with his fellows. There would be style in everything he did or said. He is one to astonish drawing-rooms and bewilder promenades by the taste and elegance of his dress. Upon that altar, doubtless, he sacrificed his principles; but the sacrifice was not a great one.
“’Tis only at the bar or in the dungeon that wise men know a felon by his features.” Another English pickpocket appears to have Alps on Alps of difference between him and a thief. Goodnature prevails; there is a little latent fire ; not enough energy to be bad, or good, against the current. He has some quiet dignity, too, — the head, in fine, of a genial, dining Dombey, if such a man can be imagined. Face a good oval, rather full in flesh, forehead square, without particular strength, a nose that was never unaccompanied by good taste and understanding, and mouth a little lickerish;— the incarnation of the popular idea of a bank-president.
The other day he turned to get into an omnibus at one of the ferries, and just as he did so, there, it so happened, was a young lady stepping in before him. The quiet old gentleman, with that warmth of politeness that sits so well upon quiet old gentlemen in the presence of young ladies, helped her in, and took a seat beside her. At half a block up the street the president startled the other passengers by the violent gesticulations with which he endeavored to attract the attention of a gentleman passing down on the sidewalk ; the passengers watched with interest the effect or non-effect of his various episodes of telegraphic desperation, and saw, with a regret equal to his own, that the gentleman on the sidewalk saw nothing, and turned the corner as calmly as a corner could be turned; but the old gentleman, not willing to lose him in that manner, jumped out of the ’bus and ran after, with a liveliness better becoming his eagerness than his age. In a moment more, the young lady, admonished by the driver’s rap on the roof, would have paid her fare, but her portmonnaie was missing. I know not wliethr er the bank-president was or was not suspected ; —
Look closer, and beneath that look of good-humor you will find a little something of superciliousness. You will see a line running down the check from behind each nostril, drawing the whole face, good-humor and all, into a sneer of habitual contempt,—contempt, no doubt, of the vain endeavors and devices of men to provide against the genius of a good pickpocket.
It was said of Themistocles, that
Could ne’er command his hands.”
Now this man is a sort of Themistocles. He is a man of wealth, and can snap his fingers at Fortune; can sneer that little sneer of his at things generally, and be none the worse ; but what he cannot do is, to shake off an incubus that sits upon his life in the shape of old Habit severe as Fate. This man, with apparently all that is necessary in the world to keep one at peace with it, and to ease declining life with comforts, and cheer with the serener pleasures, is condemned to keep his peace in a state of continual uncertainty; for, seeing a purse temptingly exposed, he is physically incapable of refraining from the endeavor to take it. What devil is there in his finger-ends that brings this about ? Is this part of the curse of crime,—that, having onee taken up with if, a man cannot cut loose, but, with all the disposition to make his future life better, he must, as by the iron links of Destiny, be chained to his past?
There is a Chinese thief-story somewhat in point here. A man who was very poor stole from his neighbor, who was very rich, a single duck. He cooked and ate it, and went to bed happy; but before morning he felt all over his body and limbs a remarkable itching, a terrible irritation that prevented sleep. When daylight came, he perceived that he had sprouted all over with duck-feathers. This was an unlooked-for judgment, and the man gave himself up to despair,— when he was informed by an emanation of the divine Buddha that the feathers would fall from him the moment he received a reproof and admonition from the man whose duck he had stolen. This only increased his despair, for he knew his neighbor to be one of the laughterloving kind, who would not go to the length of reproof, though he lost a thousand ducks. After sundry futile attempts to swindle his neighbor out of the needed admonition, our friend was compelled to divulge, not only the theft, but also the means of cure, when he was cured.
And this good, easy man, who is wealthy with the results of pocket-picking ;—that well-cut black coat, that satin waistcoat, that elegantly-adjusted scarf and well-arranged collar, they are all duck-feathers ; but the feather that itches is that irreclaimable tendency of the fingers to find their way into other people’s pockets. Pity, however, the man who cannot be at case till he has received a reproof from every one whose pocket he has picked through a long life in London and in New York city.
The amount of mental activity that gleams out upon you from these walls is something wonderful; evidence of sufficient thinking to accomplish almost any intellectual task; thought-life crowded with what experience !
The “ confidence ” swindlers are mostly Americans,— so that, the pickpockets being mostly English, you may see some national character in crime, aside from the tendency of races. The Englishman is conservative, — sticks to traditions,— picks and plods in the same old way in which ages have picked and plodded before him. Exactly like the thief of ancient Athens, he
The street, and picks your pocket as he talks
On some pretence with you”;
at the same time, with courage and selfreliance admirably English, risking his liberty on his skill. The American illuminates his practice with an intellectual element, faces his man, “ bidding a gay defiance to mischance,” and gains his end easily by some acute device that merely transfers to himself, with the knowledge and consent of the owner, the subtile principle of property.
This “confidence” game is a thing of which the ancients appear to have known nothing. The French have practised it with great success, and may have invented it. It appears particularly French in some of its phases, — in the manner that is necessary for its practice, in its wit and finesse. The affair of the Diamond Necklace, with which all the world is familiar, is the most magnificent instance of it on record. A lesser case, involving one of the same names, and playing excellently upon woman’s vanity, illustrates the French practice.
One evening, as Marie Antoinette sat quietly in her loge at the theatre, the wife of a wealthy tradesman of Paris, sitting nearly vis-à-vis to the Queen, made great parade of her toilet, and seemed peculiarly desirous of attracting attention to a pair of splendid bracelets, gleaming with the chaste contrast of emeralds and diamonds. She was not without success. A gentleman of elegant mien and graceful manner presented himself at the door of her loge ; he delivered a message from the Queen. Her Majesty had remarked the singular beauty of the bracelets, and wished to inspect one of them more closely. What could be more gratifying ? In the seventh heaven of delighted vanity, the tradesman’s wife unclasped the bracelet and gave it to the gentleman, who bowed himself out, and left her—as you have doubtless divined he would — abundant leisure to learn of her loss.
Early the next morning, however, an officer from the department of police called at this lady’s house. The night before, a thief had been arrested leaving the theatre, and on his person were found many valuables,—among others, a splendid bracelet. Being penitent, he had told, to the best of his recollection, to whom the articles belonged, and the lady called upon was indicated as the owner of the bracelet. If Madame possessed the mate to this singular bracelet, it was only necessary to intrust it to the officer, and, if it were found to compare properly with the other, both would be immediately sent home, and Madame would have only a trifling fee to pay. The bracelet was given willingly, and, with the stiff courtesy inseparable from official dignity, the officer took his leave, and at the next cafß joined his fellow, the gentleman of elegant mien and graceful manner. The bracelets were not found to compare properly, and therefore were not returned.
These faces are true to the nationality, — all over American. They are much above the average in expression,—lighted with clear, well-opened eyes, intelligent and perceptive; most have an air of business frankness well calculated to deceive. There is one capacious, thoughtfreighted forehead. All are young.
No human observer will fail to be painfully struck with the number of boys whose faces are here exposed. There are boys of every age, from five to fifteen, and of every possible description, good, bad, and indifferent. The stubborn and irreclaimable imp of evil nature peers out sullenly and doggedly, or sparkles on you a pair of small snakeeyes, fruitful of deceit and cunning. The better boy, easily moved, that might become anything, mercurial and volatile, “ most ignorant of what he’s most assured,” reflects on his face the pleasure of having his picture taken, and smiles good-humoredly, standing in this worst of pillories, to be pelted along a lifetime with unforgetting and unforgiving glances. With many of these boys, this is a family matter. Here are five brothers, the youngest very young indeed,— and the father not very old. One of the brothers, bright-looking as boy can be, is a young Jack Sheppard, and has already broken jail five times. Many are trained by old burglars to be put through windows where men cannot go, and open doors. In a row of second-class pickpockets, nearly all boys, there is observable on almost every face some expression of concern, and one instinctively thanks Heaven that the boys appear to be frightened. Yet, after all, perhaps it is hardly worth while. The reform of boy thieves was first agitated a long while since, and we have yet to hear of some encouraging result. The earliest direct attempt we know of, with all the old argument, pro and con, is thus given in Sadi’s “ Gulistan.”
Among a gang of thieves, who had been very hardly taken, “ there happened to be a lad whose rising bloom of youth was just matured. One of the viziers kissed the foot of the king’s throne, assumed a look of intercession, and said,—
“ ‘ This lad has not yet even reaped the pleasures of youth ; my expectation, from your Majesty’s inherent generosity, is, that, by granting his life, you would confer an obligation on your servant.’
“ The king frowned at this request, and said,—
“4 The light of the righteous does not influence one of vicious origin ; instruction to the worthless is a walnut on a dome, that rolls off. To smother a fire and leave its sparks, to kill a viper and take care of its young, are not actions of the wise. Though the clouds rain the water of life, you cannot eat fruit from the boughs of a willow.’
“ When the vizier heard this, he applauded the king’s understanding, and assented that what he had pronounced was unanswerable.
“‘Yet, nevertheless,’ he said, ‘as the boy, if bred among the thieves, would have taken their manners, so is your servant hopeful that he might receive instruction in the society of upright men ; for he is still a boy, and it is written, that every child is born in the faith of Islam, and his parents corrupt him. The son of Noah, associated with the wicked, lost his power of prophecy; the dog of the Seven Sleepers, following the good, became a man.’
“Then others of the courtiers joined in the intercession, and the king said,—
“‘I have assented, but I do not think it well.’
“ They bred the youth in indulgence and affluence, and appointed an accomplished tutor to educate him, and he became learned and gained great applause in the sight of' every one. The king smiled when the vizier spoke of this, and said,—
“ ‘Thou hast been nourished by our milk, and hast grown with us; who afterwards gave thee intelligence that thy father was a wolf?’
“A few years passed; — a company of the vagrants of the neighborhood were near; they connected themselves with the boy ; a league of association was formed; and, at an opportunity, the boy destroyed the vizier and his children, carried off vast booty, and fixed himself in the place of his father in the cavern of the robbers. The king bit the hand of astonishment, with the teeth of reflection, and said,—
“ ‘ How can any one make a good sword from bad iron ? The worthless, O Philosopher, does not, by instruction, become worthy. Rain, though not otherwise than benignant, produces tulips in gardens and rank weeds in nitrous ground.’ ”
Yet, notwithstanding Sadi and some other wise ones, here, as thieves, are the faces of boys that cannot be naturally vicious,— boys of good instincts, beyond all possible question,—and that only need a mother’s hand to smooth back the clustering hair from the forehead, to discover the future residence of plentiful and upright reason. The face of a boy, now in Sing Sing for burglary, and who bears a name which over the continent of North America is identified with the ideas of largo combination and enterprise, is especially noticeable for the clear eyes, and frank, promising look.
That tale of Sadi will do well enough when Æsop tells it of a serpent; — he, indeed, can change his skin and be a serpent still; but when the old Sufi, or anyone else, tells it of a boy, let us doubt.
Think of the misery that may be associated with all this,— that this represents ! In this Gallery are the faces of many men ; some are handsome, most of them more or less human. It cannot be that they all began wrongly,— that their lives were all poisoned at the fountain-head. No,— here are some that came from what are called good families; many others of them had homes, and you may still see some lingering love of it in an air of settled sadness,—they were misled in later life. Think of the mothers who have gone down, in bitter, bitter sorrow, to the grave, with some of the lineaments we see around before their mind's eye at the latest moment! Oh, the circumstances under which some of these faces have been conjured up by the strong will of love ! Think of the sisters, living along with a hidden heart-ache, nursing in secret the knowledge, that somewhere in the world were those dear to them, from whom they were shut out by a bar-sinister terribly real, and for whose welfare, with all the generous truth of a sister’s feeling, they would barter everything, vet who were in an unending danger! Think of them, with this skeleton behind the door of their hearts, fearful at every moment ! Does it seem good in the scheme of existence, or a blot there, that those who are themselves innocent, but who are yet the real sufferers, whether punishment to the culprit fall or fail, should be made thus poignantly miserable ? We know nothing.
It is said in a certain Arabic legend, that, while Moses was on Mount Sinai, the Lord instructed him in the mysteries of his providence: and Moses, having complained of the impunity of vice and its success in the world, and the frequent sufferings of the innocent, the Lord led him to a rock which jutted from the mountain, and where he could overlook the vast plain of the Desert stretching at his feet.
On one of its oases he beheld a young Arab asleep. He awoke, and, leaving behind him a bag of pearls, sprang into the saddle and rapidly disappeared from the horizon. Another Arab came to the oasis; he discovered the pearls, took them, and vanished in the opposite direction.
Now an aged wanderer, leaning on his staff, bent his steps wearily toward the shady spot; he laid himself down, and fell asleep. But scarcely had he closed his eyes, when he was rudely aroused from his slumber; the young Arab had returned, and demanded his pearls. The hoary man replied, that he had not taken them. The other grew enraged, and accused him of theft. He swore that he had not seen the treasure; but the other seized him ; a scuffle ensued ; the young Arab drew his sword, and plunged it into the breast of the aged man, who fell lifeless on the earth.
“ O Lord! is this just?” exclaimed Moses, with terror.
“ Be silent! Behold, this man, whose blood is now mingling with the waters of the Desert, many years ago, secretly, on the same spot, murdered the father of the youth who has now slain him. His crime remained concealed from men ; but vengeance is mine : I will repay.”